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Overview of Romans

Title: The Epistle (Letter) to the Romans

Place in bible: New Testament, 45th book of the Bible, first book by Apostle Paul, written to the Christians in Rome

Author: The Apostle Paul, who considered himself a bond servant of Jesus Christ, and was set apart to the Gospel (1:1), written to Roman believers, from Corinth. The letter was written by a scribe or amanuensis called Tertius (16:22), and delivered to the church by Phoebe (16:1).

Date: AD 57

Genre: Doctrinal and instructional; some say, forms the centrality of the gospel, and is certainly the greatest treatise of the righteousness of God.

Main idea:  God is righteous. The book is the doctrinal foundation of Christianity, outlining the gospel of God, which due to His righteousness provided a propitiation to deal with sin, and hence redemption for those who believe, thus saving sinners from death, without anything on the part of the sinner.

The book can be divided into three divisions and seven parts:

Doctrine of salvation

1.      Salutation (1:1-17)

2.      Sin (1:18–3:20)

3.      Salvation (3:21–5:21)

4.      Sanctification (6–8)

The sovereignty of God, or proof God can be trusted

5.      Sovereignty (9–11)

Exhortation and conclusion

6.      Service (12:1–15:13)

7.      Conclusion (15:14–16:27)

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Key events/themes: The key theme is the righteousness of God.

Only God is righteous (3:10) and His judgements/degrees are righteous (1:32, 2:5).

People who are considered righteous by God, have had that righteousness imputed to them by God, though faith (1:17, 4:4,5, 4:22-26). Righteousness cannot be attained by working/doing for God, but by confessing Christ with your mouth and believing Christ was raised from the dead (10:9,10; 14:11). Righteousness is available to all who believe (10:13).

God demonstrated His righteousness through Jesus Christ's death on the cross (3:25) and His righteousness is manifested in the one who believes in Jesus Christ (3:21,22; 5:17).

God's righteousness will not fail (9:6); although it looks as if Israel is abandoned, He will save Israel (chapters 9-11), because He cannot go back on his promises to Abraham (11:29)  (nor any other) – this provides the proof to the Gentiles, that if we believe Christ rose from the dead, we will be saved – there is nothing else to do, and we can trust God in this, because He will save Israel.

The letter to the Romans outlines the Gospel of Christ: "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." (1:16) Where the Gospel is a declaration and revelation of salvation by Christ, through faith, not under law.

Words of importance

Believe (20 verses)

The essence of the satisfying God is through faith in Him and believing in your heart the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead (9:10).

"And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." (4:22-25)

Christ 68 verses

As Christ, Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Son Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (5:1)

Faith 35 verses (40 times)

Faith is the essence of the claiming the gospel – Israel failed because they did not use faith but works to approach God. Gentiles (and Jews) are being saved and can be saved if they believe in Christ Jesus. "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law." (3:28)

Justification 16 verses (17 times)

Justification arises from the Old Testament and quoted in Romans (the just shall live by his faith Habakkuk (2:4). One requires justification if one is to be imputed righteous – the converse is one remains in condemnation. Justification is the declaration that a person is righteous. "But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness" (4:5)

Law 52 verses (78 times)

There is a great contrast between the law that can only show how sinful sin is (3:20) and therefore cannot save you (3:28) and grace that brings salvation (5:17 etc). "For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law" (2:12).

Grace 20 verses (24 times)

It is not of ourselves that we are saved, but it is God's grace – free gift to us – that we can be saved. By grace we are no-longer subject to sin.

For a Christian "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." (6:14)

Peace 10 verses

Romans contrasts sin as causing our enmity with God (eg 5:10) and righteousness that leads to peace with God. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (5:1).

Righteousness 34 verses (43 times)

The key element of the book of Romans – God is righteous. "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets" (3:21)

 Unrighteousness 6 verses

Unrighteousness is the domain of Satan and humans. "What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not!" (9:14)

Key prophecies:  

Israel will be restored when the time of the gentiles are fulfilled (11:25) and they acknowledge Christ as Saviour (10:9,10; 11:5, 11:24 etc). There will be a time when the gentiles will cease from being saved (11:25) and after that the end time will befall the earth.

Key verse: Romans 3:21-26

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, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Key characters:

Epaenetus:

The first Christian in Asia (16:5)

Paul:

In this book, Paul outlines his Jewishness (9:1-5) and the weakness of the flesh that befalls us all – we do the things we don't want to do, and not the things we ought (7).

Phoebe:

Delivered the letter (16:1), who was a servant of the Lord, of the church at Cencheeae (Acts 18:18), a deaconess, with the role to minister to the women of the church.

Key Places: 

Israel:  Mentioned in 12 verses, and is the nation of Israel consisting of the small remnant (9:27, 11:5 ) that will confess with their mouths and believe with their heart the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead (10:9,10, 14:11).

David L Simon
Posted: 26 Oct 2014