The book of Romans is the first epistle (letter) we come to in the New Testament. It was from the apostle Paul (1:11) to the church at Rome (1:7), but was recorded by a scribe named Tertius (16:22).
At the time of writing, Paul desired to visit the church in Rome, but hadn’t had the opportunity yet (1:10; 15:22-24). He was in Corinth when the book was written, shortly before going to Jerusalem with the gift to minister to the needy saints in Judea (15:25-26). After arriving in Jerusalem Paul was arrested and spent more than two years in custody (Acts 21:30-33; 24:27). Eventually he would appeal to Caesar and thus be taken to Rome as a prisoner (Acts 25:10-12; 28:16).
Though Paul had never been to Rome, he knew and sent greetings to many people who were part of the church in Rome (Romans 16:1-16).
We have no definitive information on how the church at Rome began. On the day of Pentecost in the year of our Lord’s resurrection and ascension, people from various places heard and obeyed the gospel while in Jerusalem (Acts 2:5-11, 41). Presumably those visiting from Rome (2:10) eventually returned to Rome, though their return is never specifically addressed.
Romans is an exceptional book, presented as a wonderfully detailed treatise on Christianity. Paul addresses questions of theology and practicality. He teaches us about who we were outside of Christ—both Jew and Gentile are sinners, standing condemned before God. However, he reveals what we can be in Christ—the children of God and joint heirs with Christ.
Here is an outline of the book of Romans:
- Paul’s introductory remarks (1:1-17)
- God provides redemption from sin & death (1:18-8:39)
Condemnation: Man needs God’s righteousness
– Corruption of man’s way (1:18-2:10)
– Impending judgment (2:11-29)
– All are under sin (3:1-20)
Justification: man receives God’s righteousness
– Justified by faith in Jesus (3:21-31)
– Abraham, Justified by faith (4:1-25)
– The result of justification (5:1-21)
Sanctification: man exhibits God’s righteousness
– Those who are sanctified from sin (6:1-23)
– Those who are sanctified & the law (7:1-25)
– Those who are sanctified & the Spirit (8:1-39)
- Israel rejects redemption from sin & death (9:1-11:36)
Israel, no longer the people of God (9:1-29)
Israel, rejected the gospel of Christ (9:30-10:21)
Israel, not all of them will be lost (11:1-36)
- Practical application for the redeemed (12:1-15:21)
Responsibilities to God & the world (12:1-21)
Responsibilities to government / neighbours (13:1-14)
The Christian’s use of liberty in Christ (14:1-23)
The Christian’s care for one another (15:1-23)
- Paul’s concluding remarks (15:22-16:27)
Next time, we’ll look at 1 & 2 Corinthians.