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Introduction to the Books of the Bible

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The Letter to the Romans




BOOK : Romans

Description : An explanation of the basic Gospel and God's plan of salvation, for Jew and Gentile alike. A book that is entirely teaching (doctrine) and undoubtedly his biggest work in the New Testament canon. Purposeful theology!

Author: The apostle Paul

Date written : Probably 57AD

Chapters : 16



Brief Synopsis:

•  After an introduction, Paul explains how ALL are unrighteous, Jew and Gentile (Ch.1-3)
•  He then starts to develop his main theme that righteousness that is acceptable to God is that received by faith in Jesus Christ and is a gift of God (Ch.3-5)
•  He then explains what has happened in our salvation (Ch.6) and how without it we are helpless (Ch.7) so that only by the working of God's Holy Spirit can we enter into the salvation that Jesus Christ has earned for us (Ch.8).
•  Almost as an aside he then speaks about God's righteousness in respect of Israel and the problem of Israel 's rejection (Ch.9-11)
•  In the final main part he speaks of practical righteousness (Ch.12-15) before his conclusion (Ch.15 & 16)

Outline :


1:1-15 Introduction
1:16-17 Theme: God's provision of Righteousness
1:18-3:20 How All Mankind are Unrighteousness 
1:18-32 Gentiles
2:1-3:8 Jews
3:9-20   Summary: All People
3:21-5:21 Righteousness Declared: Justification
3:21-26 It comes through Christ
3:27-4:25 It is received by Faith
3:27-31 It leaves no room for boasting (pride)
Ch.4 It was seen in Abraham's simple belief
5:1-11 The Fruits or outworkings of it
5:12-21 Constrasting Man's Unrighteousness with God's Righteousness
Ch.6-8 Righteousness Worked in us: Sanctification
Ch.6 The realities of our new life
Ch.7 The realities of the old life
Ch.8 The New Life in the Power of the Holy Spirit
Ch.9-11 God's Righteousness Vindicated: The Problem of the Rejection of Israel
9:1-29 The Justice of the Rejection 
9:30-10:21 The Cause of the Rejection
Ch.11 Facts That Lessen the Difficulty 
11:1-10 The rejection is not total 
11:11-24 The rejection is not final
11:25-36 God's ultimate purpose is mercy
12:1-15:13 Righteousness Practiced
Ch.12 In the Body--the Church
Ch.13 In the World
14:1-15:13 Among Weak and Strong Christians
15:14-33 Conclusion
Ch.16 Commendation and Greetings



Some Key Verses:


The heart of the letter, the Gospel of Jesus Christ

1:1-4 the gospel of God - the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son,

  • who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and
  • who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

The power of the Gospel

1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.


Our Problem God's anger against our sin

1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness


Salvation is needed by all (Jew & Gentile) and comes through Christ's work on the Cross

3:22-25 There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished


Made right by faith in what Christ has done, we now have peace with God & access to His resources

5:1 since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.


The way it works out

6:11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.


Our need without Christ

7:15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.


The answer is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus now living in us

8:9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.


An aside Paul's sorrow over the failures of his own people

9:2-4 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.


The basis for living out the practicalities of the righteous life surrender & a renewed mind

12:1,2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.


The start of a final insight into the church people

16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea



Concluding Comments


Reading the book of Romans can be a formidable enterprise for the new reader of the Bible because of its author, its nature and its size:

•  Author: The apostle Paul was a bright guy and even the apostle Peter acknowledged that his writings were sometimes difficult to take in (2 Pet 3:16).
•  Nature: It covers our sinfulness and tendencies, the fact that we are prisoners to sin, even when we use self effort to try to be good and there is no way of making ourselves right with God except by accepting and believing in the salvation He has provided, the death of His own Son, Jesus Christ.
•  Size: Each of the main areas covers two or three chapters making a total of sixteen altogether.


There is a lot of reading but it is essential if we wish to understand our need of God's salvation, the nature of it and how it works out in us.



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