The Book of Romans
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God”Romans 1:1
The Book of Romans was written in A.D. 56–58. The Apostle Paul wrote the the Book of Romans, he used a man named Tertius to transcribe his words. “I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.” Romans 16:22
As with all Paul’s epistles to the churches, his purpose in writing was to proclaim the glory of the Lord Jesus the Christ by teaching doctrine and edify and encourage the believers who would receive his letter. Of particular concern to Paul were those to whom this letter was written — those in Rome: “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 1:7
Because Paul himself was a Roman citizen, he had a unique passion for those in the assembly of believers in Rome. Since he had not, to this point, visited the church in Rome, this letter also served as his introduction to them.
Paul was excited about being able to minister in this church, and everyone was well aware of that fact (Romans 1:8–15). The letter to the Romans was written from Corinth just prior to Paul’s trip to Jerusalem to deliver the alms that had been given for the poor there. He had intended to go to Rome and then on to Spain (Romans 15:24), but his plans were interrupted when he was arrested in Jerusalem. He would eventually go to Rome as a prisoner. Phoebe, who was a member of the church at Cenchrea near Corinth (Romans 16:1), carried the letter to Rome.
The Book of Romans is primarily a work of doctrine and can be divided into four sections: righteousness needed, 1:18–3:20; righteousness provided, 3:21–8:39; righteousness vindicated, 9:1–11:36; righteousness practiced, 12:1–15:13. The main theme of this letter is — righteousness. Guided by the Holy Spirit, Paul first condemns all men of their sinfulness. He expresses his desire to preach the truth of God’s Word to those in Rome. It was his hope to have assurance they were staying on the right path. He strongly points out that he is not ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16), because it is the power by which everyone is saved.
The Book of Romans tells us about God, who He is and what He has done. It tells us of Jesus the Christ, what His death accomplished. It tells us about ourselves, what we were like without Christ and who we are after trusting in Christ. Paul points out that God did not demand men have their lives straightened out before coming to Christ. While we were yet sinners Christ died on a cross for our sins.
Paul uses several Old Testament people and events as illustrations of the truths in the Book of Romans. Abraham believed and righteousness was imputed to him by his faith, not by his works (Romans 4:1–5). In Romans 4:6–9, Paul refers to David who reiterated the same truth: “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” Paul uses Adam to explain to the Romans the doctrine of inherited sin, and he uses the story of Sarah and Isaac, the child of promise, to illustrate the principle of Christians being the children of the promise of the divine grace of God through Christ. In chapters 9–11, Paul recounts the history of the nation of Israel and declares that God has not completely and finally rejected Israel (Romans 11:11–12), but has allowed them to “stumble” only until the full number of the Gentiles will be brought to salvation.
The Book of Romans makes it clear that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. Every “good” deed we have ever done is as a filthy rag before God. So dead in our trespasses and sins are we that only the grace and mercy of God can save us. God expressed that grace and mercy by sending His Son, Jesus the Christ, to die on the cross in our place.
When we turn our lives over to Christ, we are no longer controlled by our sin nature, but we are lead by the Spirit. If we make confession that Jesus is Lord, and believe that He is raised from the dead, we are saved, born again.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16