Paul’s Letter to the Romans
Author: Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles
Raised as both a Roman citizen and a devout Jew, Paul benefited from the finest education available in his time. He grew up as a Pharisee, a member of the strictest Jewish sect. In the months following the resurrection of Jesus, Paul gained a reputation as a ruthless enemy of the followers of Jesus Christ. Yet, after his miraculous conversion, Paul helped spread Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. He made three missionary journeys through much of the Mediterranean world, tirelessly preaching the gospel he had once sought to destroy. He eventually suffered martyrdom at Rome in about A.D. 65 to 67.
Paul wrote this letter to the Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome. Rome was the economic and political center of the world with a population of a million people, half of them slaves. Paul did not found the church in Rome; in fact, he had never been there. Because he himself was a Roman citizen, Paul had a unique passion for believers in Rome.
His immediate purpose was to inform the church that he planned to visit them.
Paul knew that Jews and Gentiles alike were in need of salvation.
He taught that everyone is saved by faith in Christ’s sacrificial death. Salvation is entirely a work of God’s grace.
Salvation by Faith, not Works
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Paul told the Romans that salvation is not based on their performance, works, or keeping the law. He preached that a person could not ‘earn’ eternal life by doing good deeds.
Christ saves us through faith, not through keeping of the law.
We are saved when we believe in Jesus and have faith in him. Christ paid our sin-debt through his sacrificial death on the cross.
All we have to do is believe in him.
Gentile and Jewish Christians
The Roman church was predominately Gentile, yet there was tension between Jewish and Gentile believers over God’s plan of salvation and about lifestyle issues.
Many Gentile as well as Jewish Christians were already members of the church in Rome.
Paul stresses that it doesn’t matter if they were Gentile or Jewish before they became Christian—everyone who believes in Jesus is saved.
There was evidently tension in the church between the Jewish and Gentile Christians, in part over the question of whether to keep dietary laws and sacred days. The Jewish believers still felt compelled to observe dietary laws and sacred days.
The beginnings of Christianity were muddled. Was it okay to let Gentiles become Christian? If yes, then do Gentiles have to be circumcised?
Paul is the apostle to the Gentiles. He’s come out hard in favor of the Gentile-Christians being just as good as the Jewish-Christians. Paul has told the Gentiles that they don’t have to obey every single Jewish law. No circumcision? No kosher food? No problem. If your heart is good, you’re good. The other stuff is no big deal.
Paul wants every Christian, Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians, living in peace and harmony.
Paul told the Gentile- Christians that they did not have to obey every Jewish law such as circumcision and eating kosher food.
Martin Luther, a Prominent Figure in the Protestant Reformation
From 1510 to 1520, Luther lectured on the Psalms, the books of Hebrews, Romans, and Galatians.
As he studied these portions of the Bible, he came to understand the doctrine of justification – God’s act of declaring a sinner righteous – by faith alone through God’s grace. He began to teach that salvation is a gift of God’s grace, attainable only through faith in Jesus. We call this the doctrine of justification.
Luther’s rediscovery of “Christ and His salvation” was the first of two points that became the foundation for the Reformation. His railing against the sale of indulgences was based on it.
Luther disputed the claim that freedom from God’s punishment for sin could be purchased with money.
Luther taught that salvation and eternal life are not earned by good deeds but are received only as the free gift of God’s grace through the believer’s faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul wrote the letter to the believers in Rome, hence the name “Romans”. He wrote it to give them a concrete theological foundation on which to construct their faith and to live for and serve God effectively.
The book of Romans reveals the answers to important questions and supplies information on many topics, such as salvation, the sovereignty of God, judgment, spiritual growth, and the righteousness of God.
The focus of the “righteousness of God” is foundational throughout the book of Romans. In fact, it is threaded through every section of the basic outline of this epistle. Paul reiterates this so that the reader may realize that salvation cannot be attained through man’s good deeds but only through faith in God’s righteousness: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes… For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith” (1:16-17).
You cannot repair your relationship with God through your good deeds; this is only accomplished through faith in Jesus Christ.
• In chapters 1-8, Paul explains the fundamentals and foundations of the Christian faith. This is the Gospel Message, which all believers are commanded to share with the entire world. Paul teaches about the sinful nature of all men in the eyes of God, justification by faith in Jesus Christ, freedom from sin, and victory in Christ.
• Chapters 9-11, Paul explains God’s sovereignty over salvation. He also spells out how an individual may come into a right relationship with God: “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (10:13).
Place your faith and trust only in what Jesus Christ has already done on the cross and make Him the Master of your life and trust He raised Himself from the grave conquering death. His promise is “You will be saved”.
• In chapters 12-16, Paul gives instructions for all Christians about how to live a holy lifestyle. In the beginning of chapter 12 he writes, “Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice”, and “Do not be conformed to this world” (vss. 1-2). Much of the errors and trials that Paul dealt with in his “Epistles”, were because the believers had conformed their lives to the world and not to God.
Key Bible Verses from Romans
Roman 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile”
Romans 2:28-29 “A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.”
Romans 3:23-24 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Romans 3:28 “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Romans 13:1-2 “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”