Who wrote it?
Romans 1:1 identifies the author as the apostle Paul. Romans 16:22 indicates that Paul used a man name Tertius to transcribe his words.
When(ish) was it written?
Romans was likely written between AD 56-58.
Why was it written?
As with all of Paul’s epistles to the churches, his purpose in writing was to proclaim the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ by teaching doctrine, and to 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 who were “loved by God and called to be saints” (Romans 1:7). Because he himself was a Roman citizen, he had a unique passion for those in the assembly of believers in Rome. Since he had not, at this point, visited the church in Rome, this letter also served as his introduction to them.
Some Key Verses
[quote] For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
– Romans 1:16 [/quote]
[quote] What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.”
– Romans 3:9-11 [/quote]
[quote] But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the Law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it.
– Romans 3:21 [/quote]
[quote] For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
– Romans 3:23 [/quote]
[quote] But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
– Romans 5:8 [/quote]
[quote] For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
– Romans 6:23 [/quote]
[quote] You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
– Romans 8:9 [/quote]
[quote] And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
– Romans 8:28 [/quote]
[quote] No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
– Romans 8:37-39 [/quote]
[quote] Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
– Romans 10:9-10 [/quote]
[quote] I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
– Romans 12:1 [/quote]
[quote] Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
– Romans 12:19 [/quote]
[quote] I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
– Romans 16:17 [/quote]
A Quick Summary
Paul was excited about being able to minister at last 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), most likely carried the letter to Rome.
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.
Romans tells us about God, who He is, and what He has done. It tells us of Jesus 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 still sinners, Christ died on a cross for our sins (Romans 5:8).
Old Testament Ties
Paul uses several Old Testament people and events as illustrations of the glorious truths in 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 those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” 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.
What does this mean?
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 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 controlled by the Spirit. If we accept that Jesus is Lord, and believe that He is raised from the dead, we are saved, born again. We need to live our lives offered to God as a living sacrifice to Him. Worship of the God who saved us should be our highest desire. Perhaps the best application of Romans would be to apply Romans 1:16 and not be ashamed of the Gospel. Instead, let us all be faithful in proclaiming it with our lives.
- Take a few minutes to read aloud the Scripture from Acts 22:2-8, Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:5-8, 8:1, and Romans 12. What verses or ideas stand out to you from these passages? What questions do you have? What “next step” are you considering as a result of your interaction with God’s Word?
- Have you had the opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus with another person? What Bible passages have you found helpful? How could you see yourself using the “Romans Road” passages (see above) in similar future conversations?
- Do you struggle with a sinful self-orientation? Are your relationships with other followers of Jesus authentic? Sacrificial? In light of God’s mercy in your life, how can you renew your mind in this area of your life?
- Are your relationships with people who hurt you filled with grace? Are your relationships with people who are hurting filled with empathy? In light of God’s mercy in your life, how can you renew your mind in this area of your life?
- Are you living peaceably with all, as far as it depends on you? Again, in light of God’s mercy in your life, how can you renew your mind in this area of your life?