Introduction to Romans

The Writer:

In Romans 1:1 the Apostle Paul identifies himself as the writer of this book.  It is interesting that it is the longest of his epistles, yet at the time of the writing Paul had not been to Rome (See Romans 1:13-15).  Even though he had not been to Rome, Paul knew many members of the church there as is evidenced by his long list of greetings found in chapter 16.

The Recipients:

In Romans 1:7, we are told that the letter was written to “all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints.”  Little is known about how the church began in Rome.  The idea that some of those who heard the gospel on the day of Pentecost (see Acts 2:5-11, especially verse 10) may have gone to Rome and started the church is a possibility.  The fact that “all roads lead to Rome” leaves open who that might have been.  By the time of Paul’s writing, the church seems to be fairly large and has people from many places (see Romans chapter 16).  There seems to have been significant numbers of both Jews and Gentiles in the group.

The Occasion of the Writing:

Although Paul had never been to Rome, his influence had been felt through the many friends and relatives he had in the city (see Romans chapter 16).  Along with that, he had a great desire and burden on his heart to preach to them as he had done in many other places (see Romans 1:13-15).  At the time of this writing, Paul had collected a contribution from several churches and was ready to take it to Jerusalem (see I Corinthians 16:1-2; II Corinthians chapters 8 and 9; Acts 19:21, 20:22, 21:15 and 24:17).  It was his intention that after he left Jerusalem that he would go first to visit the Christians in Rome and then go on to Spain (see Romans 15:22-33).  We know that Paul later went to Rome.  We have no record of him ever visiting Spain.  The book was probably written from Corinth in about 57 or 58 A.D.

Main Thoughts of the book of Romans:

Early in his writing, the apostle Paul expresses eagerness to preach the gospel to those who live in Rome (Romans 1:15).  He then asserts that this gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes whether they are Jews or Greeks (Romans 1:16).  He further explains that in this gospel the righteousness of God is revealed (Romans 1:17).  From this beginning Paul sets about to give a complete and systematic understanding of the gospel and how it works in the lives of believers.  He begins by pointing out that all are sinners.  He starts out with a condemnation of the Gentiles (Romans 1:18-32), follows that with pointing out that the same condition exists for the Jews (Romans 2:1-3:8) and concludes that all stand condemned because of sin (Romans 3:9-23).  The sentence which begins in the last part of Romans 3:22 and continues through Romans 3:25 is the most important sentence in the Bible because it takes one from the position of being lost to the beauty of Christ being the propitiation (the One that satisfies God’s justice) for sin.

 Beginning with this understanding of salvation, Paul explains in Romans chapters four through eight how the whole picture fits together: grace, faith, justification, the blood of Christ, sin, baptism, the new life, the law, Abraham, the Spirit, trials, and how we have a whole team made up of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to help us succeed in reaching salvation.  His conclusion?  We are more than conquerors and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39)!

 Chapters nine, ten and eleven form a unit to answer the question, “What about the Israelites, how do they fit into this new relationship with Christ?”  As Paul contemplates the beauty of the answer to this question, he concludes this section with praise for what only the mind of God could have conceived (Romans 11:33-36).

 The final section of Romans (chapters 12-16) forms a practical application of what it means to have a life that is lived by faith.  Nothing short of offering our bodies “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1) is an appropriate offering for us to give God. There are many ways that this should take place.  Paul uses these four chapters to illustrate how that would work.

By the time a student finishes a study of Romans, he/she has an overall picture of the condition of humankind with and without Christ, how Christ saves, how to be a part of Christ and live successfully for him.  Some have contended that to have an understanding of Romans is to have a complete theological education or as one teacher put it, “If you get Romans, God gets you.”

Outline of Romans:

Theme of the book:  Romans 1:16-17

  1. The need for this righteousness from God: Romans 1:18-4:25
  2. Idol worshippers: chapter 1
  3. Jews: chapter 2
  4. Everyone: chapter 3:1-20
  5. The solution: chapter 3:21-31
  6. How does Abraham fit in? chapter 4:1-25
  1. The results of justification: Romans chapters 5-8
  2. Peace: chapter 5
  3. From death to life: chapter 6
  4. Release from the law: chapter 7
  5. Life in the Spirit which leads to glory: chapter 8

 III.           Israel and salvation: Romans chapters 9-11

  1. Examples of the righteous living by faith: Romans chapters 12-16

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