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A Romans Rap

A Seminary Professor's Attempt at Putting Paul's Letter to the Romans into Rap verse


Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of New Testament, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary – May 19, 2010 

Video posted July 9, 2010:

[Dr. Robert Gagnon of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary performs "A Romans Rap," a rap version of Paul's Letter to the Romans on May 19, 2010. The rap was written and performed by Dr. Gagnon for an End of the Year Awards show put on by students at PTS just before finals week in order to alleviate tension with comic performances and build community. Dr. Gagnon was approached to do a rap since the previous year he had done a short rap called "Luvination" (a combination of "love" and "predestination") for a spoof entitled "Calvin Does Casablanca" (with Calvin advising the Humphrey Bogart character in the final memorable scene with the Ingrid Bergman character). The mode of the Romans rap was intended to be humorous but Dr. Gagnon did make a serious effort to represent the distinctive message of Romans accurately Note: (1) The rap tune, though slightly long for a rap song (at 6 1/2 minutes, though many rap songs approach 5 min.) is certainly not long enough to do full justice to Romans. (2) The second stanza was supposed to serve as a refrain but the text was already too long for it to serve that purpose. (3) At the 3 1/2 minute mark when Dr. Gagnon comes to the text in Rom 1:24-27 about homosexual practice he says "censored" rather than "no complementarity" because he was asked not to mention the debated subject in a community-building gathering. As you can see, the "censored" remark got a good laugh because the audience suspected what was intended. (4) At the 6 min. 40 sec. mark Dr. Gagnon mentions the Greek term adiaphora which means "matters of indifference" (as the next line clarifies).]

Hear me, my friends … and don’t turn me off!

I realize I’m not … the usual prof.

Rarely will you see … a professor like me

Recount Paul’s Romans … in a rap symphony.

I rap not for me … but for the tripping rock.

That’s Jesus Christ … and call me “Snoop Doc.”


It’s a Romans rap … it’s a Romans rap!

You might not know it … but it’s a layered trap.

Just when you think … that you’re off the hook,

God’s righteousness … makes you take a second look.

There’s only one real way … that you can boast:

Put your boast in God … or end up as toast.


Paul makes clear … that he works like a priest.

He offers up Gentiles—not a brute beast!

Obedience of faith … is the name of the game;

the fruit of holiness … by any other name.

Sharing his gift … is what he’s gonna do;

proclaiming the gospel … to the Romans too.

The renewal of the mind … not to the age conform;

rather by the gospel … be fully transformed.


He starts by saying … that he’s not ashamed

of the gospel, you know, God’s power to claim

every life that holds … no rightness of its own

but rests instead … on Christ’s death to atone

The righteousness of God … best story ever told.

God’s faithfulness and truth … to promises of old.

God sent his very Son … just to make amends

for the universal sin … that you know offends.


First he traps the Gentile … then he traps the Jew.

Look out, bro and sis … the next trap’s for you!

Gentiles suppressing … the truth in creation,

In God’s eyes … that’s a big abomination!

Ignoring God’s power … and great divinity,

They worshiped human statues … embraced idolatry.

God gave them over … to their impurity;

so against nature … no complementarity.

The net widens further … to arrogance and greed.

It’s obvious to the Jew … Gentiles are bad seed.


But the Jew who judges … is also without excuse;

for to sin against the law … is also an abuse.

Though he might sin less … and less egregiously,

he knows more than others … that’s plain for him to see.

And though he has the law … and the sign of circumcision,

these things won’t save him—they give no exemption.


Christians who read this … and think they get a pass,

you who say you know Christ—wait, not so fast!

Just ’cause you’re forgiven … you say “Why not sin?”

But if sin is your lord … you’re not going to win.

Jesus, you know … is raised from the dead;

and you’re baptized … into Jesus as your head.

So if you live … so that sin is your lord,

“The wages of sin” … will be your reward.


Let’s remember this … there’s not one law but four.

The law of my mind … wants the law of God more.

But then the law of sin … comes knockin’ on the door.

The result of all that … is I lose the whole war.

So there’s a fourth law … it’s really needed now—

the gift of the Spirit … that empowers you somehow.



It’s true not just for … the other guy but you:

two ways still … I’ll tell you what to do.

One way leads to life … the other leads to death;

life when you kill … the sinful deeds of the flesh.

Mouthing the confession … that “Jesus is my Lord,”

when not led by the Spirit … won’t keep you on board.


Now let’s all return … to bragging in how good

God and Christ were … when estranged we stood.

While we were sinners … Christ died for us.

Do you think now … he’ll throw you under the bus?

Nothing outside you … in all material creation

can separate you … from God’s “lovination.”


But how could God be right … if most of Israel is lost?

Did he save the world … at such a horrible cost?

Let’s get one thing straight: … It’s not God’s fault.

The Messiah whom God sent … they did not exalt.

Yet does that mean … that God is through with them?

No, God will remove … the hardness that condemns.


First the fullness of … the Gentiles must come in;

then comes the fullness … of Israel, God’s friend.

Stop to think, Gentiles, … how easy it would be

to remove your wild branches … from the olive tree.

So don’t boast over Israel … but just remember this:

God can restore them if … in unbelief they don’t persist.


There’s more that could be said … to you, Paul’s pupils;

instead I’ll push on now … to an issue of Jewish scruples.

Fighting in Roman churches … over meat and calendar!

Don’t you guys get it?—they’re adiaphora;

“matters of indifference” … to the kingdom of God,

which consists of righteousness … not pork or scrod.

Now don’t misunderstand—we’re not talking about sex.

Immorality must be cast off … or face a train wreck.


But things that don’t matter … please just leave alone;

and focus on how God … welcomed you all home.

United praise of God … for pouring out his grace,

that’s the surest way … for the church to run the race.

We’ve won something better … than a lottery;

by divine design, not chance … I think you’ll agree.


Now I’ve told my tale … of Romans in rap.

It’s far from perfect … I’m an ordinary chap.

But God is wonderful … to him doff your hat.

Who’d have ever guessed … God would do all that!

So glory be to God … who is the King of kings;

for from him and through him and to him … are all things.


  © 2010 Robert A. J. Gagnon