PEOPLE AND PRELIMINARIES
†There are twenty-one New Testament letters, of which the first nine presented in the Bible are all to churches. Paul wrote all the church letters and certainly four of the others. Some think he also wrote the letter to the Hebrews. These letters were written from different places at various times, with four of them (Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon) written during Paulís first imprisonment in Rome and 2 Timothy during his second imprisonment there. Romans (sixteen chapters), dated probably between ad 55 and ad 60 and possibly written from Corinth, was not the first letter he wrote but it comes first in the New Testament, immediately after Acts.
PLAN AND PURPOSE
†The theme of this book is the gospel itself, as applying not only to Jews but to lost sinners everywhere. Romans is basically about justification by faith based on the righteousness of God in Christ and on the promises of God. It has been called Ďthe gospel of Paulí but is entirely consistent with the unified teaching of the whole of the Bible on salvation. It shows how all people are sinners under Godís righteous condemnation and how the answer is in Christ whose righteousness is credited to the repentant sinner trusting Him, just as that sinnerís sin is debited to Jesusí substitutionary death on the cross. This produces a practical application and outworking of Godís righteousness in the sanctification of the believer through Godís Spirit. Christian conduct will always flow from the correct application of biblical doctrine. Romans is generally considered to provide both the foundation and the seedbed of New Testament theology.
PROFILE AND PROGRESSION
†Introduction and themeóGodís righteousness is by faith for Jews and Gentiles (1:1-17); guilt and condemnation of Gentiles, Jews and all humanity (1:18-3:20); acceptance and acquittal only through Godís righteousness, as described, appropriated and imputed through the gospel (3:21-5:21); sanctification following and showing salvation and underlining Christian liberty, assurance and the Spiritís work (6:1-8:39); Israel is not forgotten by God because the Gentiles are included in Godís plan of salvation (9:1-11:36); Christian life and service reflecting salvation, sanctification and separation (12:1-15:13); Paulís plans and hopes (15:14-33); greetings, warning, and closing prayer (16:1-27).
PRINCIPLES AND PARTICULARS
V 1-7 : CREDENTIALS Paul describes himself as Ďbond servant [a slave] of Christí who is Ďseparated to the gospelí. He extols the Holy Scriptures and proclaims Jesus Christ as the Son of God. He says that it is through Godís grace that he has become an apostle, with the aim of bringing obedient faith to all the nations. He brings his greetings, as an apostle, to the Christians in Rome.
V 8-15 : COMING Paul wants to come to be a spiritual blessing to them. He has tried before but has been hindered. His concern is to discharge his debt in the gospel to those who are not Jews, including those in Rome. He is thankful and encouraged because the faith of the church in Rome is spoken of Ďthroughout the whole worldí. He is already praying ceaselessly for them.
V 16-17 : CONVICTION Paulís bedrock and springboard conviction is that the gospel is the Ďpower of God to salvationí to everyone who believes. This is true for Jews and Greeks (standing for Gentiles). The gospel is to do with Christís righteousness and faith in Him that enables a Christian to live spiritually and eternally.
V 18-20 : CONDEMNATION Sinful man is under Godís condemnation and God has revealed that He is wrathful towards this. Man everywhere is without excuse, because even without knowledge of the gospel, God is discernible in the wonderful things He has made in nature. No one can say from a sincere heart that there is no God.
V 21-32 : CORRUPTION Man has rejected the God he knows to be there and to be good, and this has led to perverted worship and an increasing moral slide into corruption. This manifests itself in sexual immorality, idolatry, and the worship of corruptible created things instead of the incorruptible Creator. In turn, the sinfulness of manís heart has led him further astray into homosexuality, debased minds, and a whole catalogue of evil doings that reads like an index to a criminal law textbook, or to a chapter in a sociology textbook about todayís social decay. When man rejects God, his worsening sinfulness becomes increasingly apparent as time goes on. When a person is determined to rebel against God and His righteous standards, God gives him up to his sins and gives him over to a debased mind.