The second thing that the apostle says is that they were complete in knowledge. Now that is rather remarkable. Here was a church that Paul did not need to give any new theology. He acknowledges that they had it already. (Although, in my opinion, this is one of the deepest theological treatises in the New Testament). Paul did not write it because these people did not already know the truth that he was giving them. If you think back through the letter, there were certain themes that the apostle emphasized: One was justification by faith, i.e., the gift of worth in God’s sight. You cannot earn this gift: It was a gift because of the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. You cannot earn it by trying to do good works before God—this is impossible, and they understood that. They knew that though they did not deserve anything from God, nevertheless, they were his dearly loved children, and God accepted them completely. If nothing else, I believe this is one of the greatest truths that has always rung strong and clear throughout the Christian centuries. This is the one truth, above almost anything else, that Yehoveh wants us to know when we begin our Christian lives. It is the basis for worth. If we know He loves us, then we know we can love our neighbor and we can accept others, because we ourselves have been accepted by God. There is a profound psychological reality here that these people understood. They understood the nature of the flesh, the need for sanctification, to use the theological term. They knew that even though they had been redeemed, they still possessed an old nature. The old Adam was still there, giving them trouble.
I still struggle with the old Adam, and so do you. Young Philip Melancthon, who was a colleague of Martin Luther, once wrote to Luther and said, “Old Adam is too strong for young Philip.” These people at Rome understood this and they knew that this would be the struggle of their Christian lives. Paul did not have to tell them that; they knew it before he wrote it. However, they knew also that Yehoveh is working out a great plan, that he is creating a whole new humanity, and building a new creation. Right in the middle of the ruins of the old, he is producing a new man, and they were part of it. They understood the great themes of glorification, and of the eternal ages to come. That is why Paul wrote and said they were complete in knowledge, which is also true of many of us. We are well taught, deeply understanding the great truths and the great themes of Scripture.