Romans: A Courtroom Drama

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1. Our Theme: A Courtroom Drama in 6 Phases

A careful study of Romans reveals an astounding pattern, namely that of a courtroom drama! The phases in this drama unfolds as follows:

  1. All humans have broken God’s law
  2. As a result, all humans are declared “guilty
  3. All humans are sentenced because of their guilt
  4. All humans are provided the opportunity of having their sentence “served”
  5. All humans are provided the opportunity of being “rehabilitated”
  6. All humans are provided the opportunity of a “new life” after rehabilitation

To begin then, we can think of Romans as a court case in ancient Rome. This idea gives us both the theme (a court case) and the setting (ancient Rome) of the book, which is why we have chosen it as a “map” for our study.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 10.35.25 AM2. Our Setting: The Roman Forum

Do you have any idea where the Romans held their court cases? Think about it for a moment. As a clue, look at the picture below:

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 10.40.41 AM

This is a reconstruction of the ancient Roman Forum, or Forum Romanum, as it was popularly known. Today it does not look like this, of course. If you ever have the opportunity to travel to Rome, find your way to the Colosseum and take a leisurely stroll in a north-western direction. You will soon stumble upon the ruins of this once magnificent square.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 11.20.31 AM

The Roman Forum as it looks today

The Roman Forum was a market place and business center, but it also served a number of other purposes, such as being used for the hearing of lawsuits. In his little book The Roman Forum and the Palatine Giuseppe Lugli explains what went on there:

In historic times the forum was at first the spot where the farmers and merchants brought what they wanted to sell and thus all around the square, shops were built for butchers, fruiterers and bankers. The central space and the Comitium were used for political and sacred functions, for the election of magistrates, the hearing of lawsuits, the publications of edicts, the principal religious ceremonies, the public games, and all those other ceremonies that formed part of civic life. [1]

Plautus (c. 254 – 184 BC), the great Roman dramatist and comic writer, gives us a vivid description of daily life in the Forum in his Curculio [2]:


Quite a place, don’t you think? Plautus’ description makes the Forum come alive, and it also gives us a fascinating picture of what daily life looked like in ancient Rome. The letter to the Romans was written to Christians who lived in this world, and so the Roman Forum is the ideal symbol not only of Roman law but also of Roman life.

3. The Forum: Our Map for Studying Romans

We will use the Roman Forum as our “map” for studying Romans. Plautus tells us that the Forum was a busy place, and that is how we will depict it.

Starting in the right bottom corner we will systematically fill the Forum with different characters in a variety of settings, in a clockwise direction. Each of these settings will represent a chapter in Romans, therefore following the reverse design of our Life Exchange Graphic discussed in Chapter 1. In this way we build a “route map” of Romans, or, as we prefer to call it: A BIG picture!

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 11.30.27 AM


[1] Giuseppe Lugli, The Roman Forum and the Palatine, Bardi Editore, Rome, 1964

[2] Ibid, p8-9


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Author: Tobie

Naturalchurch is the blog of Tobie van der Westhuizen.

One thought on “Romans: A Courtroom Drama

  1. Pingback: The Main Theme of Romans |

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