Review: Timothy Keller’s Romans 8-16 For You


Romans 8 saved me. The Spirit awoke my heart to the glories of God’s love for me. I had spent years wavering until that powerful chorus in chapter 8 sunk into my heart—no condemnation. Keller says the concerns addressed in this chapter are “the central question of the Christian life”—“Is there anyone or anything that can separate me from Christ’s love for me?” (Kindle Locations 717-719). He’s right!

The second half of Romans has some complex doctrines—election, Israel, the Church, women in ministry, and Christian obedience to name a few. Keller handles these complex doctrines with precision, clarity, and winsomeness. I love the balance as well with touching the hard truths, but still staying connected to the everyman voice of the For You series. This volume will be my go-to introduction for discussing these truths with new believers—especially election in Romans 9.

And as chapters 12-16 delve into practical issues of Christian living, Keller doesn’t lose sight of the gospel. He weaves all of the practical concerns back into the truths planted in the first eight chapters of Romans following closely after Paul. For instance, he says,

Paul is saying that sin can only be cut off at the root if we expose ourselves constantly to the unimaginable love of Christ for us. That exposure stimulates a wave of gratitude and a feeling of indebtedness. Sin can only grow in the soil of self-pity and a feeling of “owed-ness.” (Kindle Locations 270-272).

Also, Keller makes important points about our sanctification. He connects how we are able to live for God to our union with Jesus Christ.

We are not just legally adopted into God’s family (see verse 15); we are also getting his “family resemblance.” We are told that when we are born again, we get God’s very nature, his “DNA”— we “participate in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1: 4). Through the circumstances of life, God is drawing that out and shaping us into brothers and sisters of Christ, who resemble him and our Father. (Kindle Locations 654-657).

And commenting on chapter 12, he notes the simplicity of the “springboard” for Christian living—God’s mercy (Kindle Locations 1456-1459). His following discussion on submitting to authority and the weak/strong are much needed in the church.

Keller ends where Paul started and ended and where our focus should be:

Paul returns to one of the great themes of Romans— that anyone, anywhere can now believe in the gospel and obey God, with both heart and hands. Christ is proclaimed “so that all nations might believe and obey him” (16:26; see 1: 5). When we consider this gospel of the Lord Jesus— predicted, revealed , proclaimed, and calling us to faith and obedience-through-faith— we join Paul in giving “the only wise God … glory” ( 16:27). (Kindle Locations 2642-2645).

I can’t recommend this volume in the For You series enough. Keller navigates the difficult open seas with the skill of a world-weary sea captain. Due to the depth of doctrine presented and the controversy surrounding many of Romans later chapters, Romans 8-16 For You should be a valuable resource for maturing Christians and encouragement to bruised reeds.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Mathew B. Sims is the author of A Household Gospel: Fulfilling the Great Commission in Our Homes and a contributor in Make, Mature, Multiply (GCD Books). He completed over forty hours of seminary work at Geneva Reformed Seminary. He also works as the managing editor at Gospel-Centered Discipleship and the project manager for the Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Mathew offers freelance editing and book formatting. He is a member at Downtown Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC.