The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans was written from Corinth about A.D. 58. The purpose of the letter is to secure the active support of the church in Rome for his missionary program. Paul stresses the universality of man’s sin but that God saves all men through faith in Christ. He discusses the place of Israel in God’s plan of salvation and how Christians should conduct themselves.
Two key passages to look at:
Romans 1:16-17 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
Romans 3:21-25 – “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.
Key Chapters: Romans 6 – 8
These three chapters provide answers to: How can one be delivered from sin? How can one live a balanced life under the system of grace? How can one live a victorious life through the power of the Holy Spirit? Many consider these three chapters to be the principal passage on conforming to the image of Jesus Christ.
Observations about Romans:
– Some writers refer to the Book of Romans Paul’s greatest work. And although it was probably the sixth of his 13 writings, it is placed first among his thirteen epistles.
– Romans explores the significance of Christ’s sacrificial death.
– Using a question-and-and answer format, Paul records the most systematic presentation of doctrine in the Bible.
– Romans is more than a book of theology, it is also a book of practical exhortation.
– The good news of Jesus Christ is more than facts to be believed, it is also a life to be lived.
– According to 16:22, Paul dictated the Roman letter to a secretary named Tertius who, in turn, was allowed to add his own greeting.
– In chapter 16, Paul greets by name twenty-six persons in a church he has never visited.
— In the book of Colossians Paul also greeted by name people at Colosse, and he had never visited there.
— In these lists are friends Paul had met in the cities of his missionary journeys.
– By way of background and history:
— The city of Rome was founded in 753 B.C.
— It was the capital of the Roman Empire during the first century.
— By the time of Paul it was the greatest city in the world with a population of three to four million people.
— The majority of the population was slaves.
– The church in Rome:
— Paul did not establish the congregation in Rome, and the tradition that Peter was its founder is contrary to the evidence.
— It is possible that it was begun by some of the Jews and proselytes to Judaism who became Christians on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem before returning to
Rome (Acts 2:10)
— Also, Christians from congregations established by Paul in Asia, Macedonia, and Greece settled in Rome and led others to Christ.
— According to this epistle, Gentiles were predominant in the church at Rome. (1:13; 11:13, 28:31; 15:15-16).
— There were also Jews in the church at Rome (2:17 – 3:8; 3:21- 4:1; 7:1-14; 14:1 – 15:12).
— The gospel filled the gap left by the practically defunct polytheism of Roman religion.
– The Roman letter:
— Paul wrote Romans in A.D. 57, near the end of his third missionary journey (Acts 18:23 – 21:14; Romans 15:19).
— It was evidently written during his three-month stay in Greece (Acts 20:3-6), more specifically in Corinth.
— Paul was staying with Gaius of Corinth (16:23; 1 Corinthians 1:14).
— He also mentions “Erastus, the treasurer of the city” (16:23).
— A first-century inscription in Corinth mentions him: “Erastus, the commissioner of public works, laid this pavement at his own expense.”
— Paul’s collection from the churches of Macedonia and Achaia for the needy Christians in Jerusalem was complete (15:26), and he was ready to deliver it
– Instead of sailing directly to Jerusalem, Paul avoided a plot by the Jews by first going north to Philippi.
– He evidently gave the Roman letter to Phoebe from the church in Cenchrea, near Corinth, and she carried it to Rome (16:1-2).
– The theme for the book of Romans is found in Romans 1:16-17 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just
shall live by faith.”
– God offers His gift of righteousness to everyone who comes to Christ.
– Key words such as righteousness, faith, law, all, and sin each appear at least sixty times in this epistle.
The Book of Romans has been singled out by many. The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge regarded Romans as the “most profound book in
existence.” The commentator Godet called it, “the cathedral of the Christian faith.” Martin Luther wrote: “This epistle is the chief part of the New testament and the very purest gospel, . . . It can never be read or pondered too much, and the more it is dealt with, the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes.”
It has been called “The gospel according to Paul.” Romans delves deeply into the significance of our Lord’s death and resurrection.
There are three major sections in the book:
The prologue section of 1:1-17 consists of three things: a salutation 1:1-7, a statement of Paul’s desire to minister in Rome (1:8-15), and the theme of the book 1:16-17. This two-verse theme is the basic text of Romans because it combines the three crucial concepts of salvation, righteousness, and faith. Romans 1:18 – 3:20 builds a solid case for the condemnation of all people under the holy God. The Gentiles are without excuse because they have suppressed the knowledge of God
they received from nature and their conscience. 1:18-32. Their seven-step regression is traced in 1:21-31.
The Jews are also under the condemnation of God, and Paul overcomes every objection they raise to this conclusion. 2:1 – 3:8
God judges according to truth 2:2-5, works 2:6-10, and impartiality 2:11-16. Both the moral and religious Jews fail to meet His standard.
Paul concludes his discussion of the guilt of the Jews by reminding them they do not obey the Law (2:17-29) nor believe the “oracles of God.” 3:1-8
The divine verdict (3:9-20) is universal: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 3:23 The section on justification (3:21 – 5:21) centers on and develops the theme of God’s provision for man’s need.
The first eleven verses are the core of the book (3:21-31), revealing that in Christ, God is both judge and Savior. Justification is by:
a. GRACE (the SOURCE of salvation). 3:21-24
b. BLOOD (the basis of salvation). 3:25-26
c. FAITH (the CONDITION of salvation). 3:27-31.
Hebrews 11:6 – “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who
diligently seek Him.” Without faith, there will be no obedience in order to reach the blood of Christ. Chapter 4 illustrates the principle of justification by faith apart from works in the life of Abraham. Justification issues in reconciliation between God and man. 5:1-11
It is brought about by the love of God which is:
a. Causeless 5:6
b. Measureless 5:7-8
c. Ceaseless 5:9-11
Paul contrasts the two Adams and the opposite results of their two acts. The righteousness of the Second Adam (Christ) is imputed to all who obey Him, leading
to reconciliation. Chapter 6 describes a number of things:
The Christian’s relationship to sin. In his position he is dead to sin, 6:1-14
Romans 6:3-8 – “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.” In his death His blood was shed, and that blood is reachable in the gospel of Christ.
After one becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit of God becomes a part of His life.
Romans 8:1 – “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
Romans 8:24 – “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession
for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
While it may appear that God has rejected his people, Israel, it is really Israel who has rejected her Messiah. God’s rejection of Israel is only partial because some have accepted the Messiah. Romans 11
Through the gospel of Christ, Israel can be grafted back in to God’s favor. Romans 11:11-24
Spiritual Israel, not physical Israel, will be saved. Romans 11:26 (Explain)
Romans 11:25-27 – For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written Isaiah 27:9): “The Deliverer will
come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”
Paul recognizes that behavior must be built upon belief, and this is why the practical exhortations of this epistle appear after the teaching that the Christian’s position in Christ. The salvation described in the first eleven chapters should transform a Christian’s life in
a. God 12:1-2
b. Society (12:3-21
c. Higher powers (government) 13:1-7
d. One’s neighbors (13:8-14
A changed life should be the natural outcome of obedience to Christ. The epistle closes with Paul’s statement of:
a. His plans 15:14-33
b. A long series of personal greetings 16:1-16
c. “The churches of Christ greet you.” Romans 16:16
d. An admonition followed by a doxology 16:17-27