By common consent without any debate authorship is attributed to Paul the apostle. Paul himself has claimed the epistle to the Romans in 1:1 “Paul a servant of Jesus Christ called to be an apostle ---“. We can confirm his authenticity from another standpoint. This epistle bears the similar characteristics as seen in Galatians. There are certain agreements with the book of Acts, viz.
(1) The collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem. Rom. 15:25-26 cf Acts 24:17
(2) Paul’s long cherished desire to visit the saints at Rome . 1:13; 15:23-24 cf acts 19:21
(3) His foreboding about his trouble at Jerusalem.
(4) 15:30-31 cf Acts 20:22-23
“No one outside Bedlam has questioned the authorship of the apostle Paul “ Says Hunter A.M. in connection with the epistle to Romans. The thoughts, the vocabulary, the styles, the methods, the arguments are out and out Pauline.
2. DATE AND PLACE OF WRITING:
The epistle was most probably written in A.D. 56 just before his departure to Jerusalem. Paul was in Corinth during his 3rd missionary journey while he was writing the epistle. He went to Corinth for the purpose of gathering fund for the poor saints at Jerusalem (who had undergone a severe persecution).
There are some names mentioned in the epistle who had a very definite association with Corinth. They are Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchraea, the eastern port of Corinth, Gaius, Timothy, Erastus, the city treasurer etc. This confirms that Paul was writing the epistle from Corinth. According to the testimony of Luke (Acts 20:3) Paul remained in Corinth for three months.
3. THE PURPOSE OF HIS WRITING:
(1) The immediate occasion and purpose that promoted him to write this epistle was his long cherished desire to visit Rome (1:13). Paul had never visited the city of Rome during any of his missionary journeys before hand. Paul had already known about the church at Rome and the believers there in the metropolitan city. There had always been a tug at Paul’s heart to meet the company of God’s redeemed people and introduce himself to them.
(2) More likely, because he wanted to seek their hearty cooperation in matter of evangelization of the gospel towards the western Mediterranean countries even as far as Spain. Paul is seeking for a new avenue for a great missionary enterprise.
(3) Another Vital purpose of writing this epistle was that Paul sought to present his “credentials” and the doctrinal issues along with some spiritual gifts so that they might be well established (1529), that they might apprehend the divine justice and grace of God in the person of Jesus Christ.
4. CHARACTERISTIC FEATURES:
(1) The letter to the Rome from the basic standpoint is truly a theological treatise. It is the most systematic in its presentation and divinely woven.
(2) It is a kind of studied manifesto of Pauline theology “A compendium of Christian doctrine” says Melanchthon #1
(3) The key word that Paul expands in the light of righteousness is “Salvation”, Paul gives away the exposition of God’s method of justification, sanctification and glorification.
(4) The epistle is a kind of practical hand book for believers to live an abundant and victorious life.
“Romans is the theological self confession of Paul, which arose out of a concrete necessary of his missionary work” says Kammel W.G. in his “Introduction to the New Testaments, ET 1966, P221
“Romans was the last will and testament of the great apostle to the Gentiles”, Martin #2
In Ralph P. Martin’s “Romans”
New Bible Commentary, P 1013
Inter – varsity Press.
#2 Ralph P. Martin,
New Bible Commentary, P 1013
Inter – varsity Press.
5. THE CHURCH AT ROME:
As to how the church at Rome began has been a matter of uncertainly “But one thing is absolutely certain that Paul did not establish the church because he had never been to Rome during any one of his missionary journeys before he wrote this epistle. Neither there is any evidence that Peter had established the church. True that Peter suffered martyrdom at Rome but it is neither scripturally warranted nor historically proved that Peter had founded the church at Rome. Then who or when, how the church at Rome was founded ?
The most probable and warranted answer to this question could be that many Jews and Proselytes from this metropolitan city were present on the day of Pentecost at Jerusalem (Acts 2:10) who later carried back the seed of the gospel to Rome. The seed of the gospel germinated to plants in due course. The converted Jews and Proselytes were instrumental in the planting of the church. By the year 49 when Claudius the Emperor of Rome passed an edict to expel the Jews from Rome, a company of God’s people was already flourishing there. Clement of Rome (AD 96) testified how a great multitude of elect suffered martyrdom in Nero’s program in the mid sixties.
It is obviously a fact that the church at Rome was composed of both Jews and Gentiles. Paul addresses both the Jews and the Gentiles in his epistles. While addressing to the Jews, Paul takes up many allusions to the O.T. and to the history of the children of Israel. He uses as many as 60 direct quotations from the O.T. While addressing to the Gentiles, he says,
“I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am apostle to the Gentiles”, 15:14-16;11:13
6. THE THEME:
“GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR MAN”
7. A BRIEF EXPLANATION OF THE THEME:
The theme is very significant because it declares God’s message to whole mankind. The message is of Salvation in the light of God’s righteousness. Our God is a righteous God who has a plan to redeem an unrighteous world not on the basis of man’s own righteousness but on the basis of Christ’s death on the cross. The sacrificial death of His righteous Son is the only means to merit the Salvation of God. Faith is the only fundamental response demanded from sinful man. Paul puts forward his arguments towards God’s method of justification for man. On the part of man, it is impossible to be justified before a righteous God through the means of his own righteousness. Even the law cannot do so. We can only see the grace of God through faith in Jesus one who can be justified. Thus righteousness is the imputation of God Himself. It is the unmerited favor of God through faith that we inherit Salvation and become the children of God. Paul is making an exposition of this doctrinal issue in this epistle which is for all men, both Jew and gentile.
8. AN ANALYTICAL OUT LINE:
I. INTRODUCTION 1:17
A. Paul’s self introduction and
Confirmation of his apostleship Vs 1-5
B. Paul’s greeting to all the saints in Rome 6-7
C. Paul’s prayer
1. Thanking for their faith 8
2. Praying for a prosperous
Journey to Rome 9-15
D. The purpose and the theme of the Epistle declared, “The righteousness of God” 16-17
II. The Universality of unrighteousness of men
And the judgment of God 1:18-3:20
A. The unrighteousness of the gentiles and the condemnation 1:18-32;2:16
1. The Nature of unrighteousness Vs 18-31
(a) The willful rejection of God despite God’s revelation in nature 18:21
(b) Worshiping of idols 22-23
(c) Physical impurity 24-27
(d) Moral and mental perversion 28-31
2. The condemnation : Death 32
3. The unrighteousness of the moralist and the condemnation 2:1-5
4. The righteous judgment of God declared 5-16
B. The unrighteousness of the Jew
And the condemnation 2:17-3:8
1. The hypocrisy 17-27
2. A true Jew defined 28-29
3. The advantage of a Jew 3:1-4
4. The justice of God’s judgment 5-8
C. The universality of sin of all men declared 3:9-20
III. The imputation of God’s righteousness in the unrighteousness of men. 3:21-5:11
A. The righteousness of God declared 3:21-22
B. The unrighteousness of men declared 3:23
C. God’s method of justification or imputation of righteousness. 24-31
Justified freely (1) By His Grace
(2) through faith
D. The Illustration of Abraham 4:1-25
1. Abraham’s justification through faith 4:1-8
2. Abraham’s justification not by circumcision 9-12
3. Abraham’s justification not by law 13-16
4. Abraham, promised to be the father of many nations through faith 17-22
5. Justification to us all through faith 23-25
E. The advantages of righteousness of God 5:1-11
1. Peace with God 5:1
2. Access by faith into His grace 5-2
3. Joy in the tribulation 5:3
4. Hope of Salvation through Jesus Christ 5;4-11
IV. Justification of the saints. 5:12-8:39
A. The case of Adam
1. Adam is the pioneer of all transgression V12
2. The penalty of sin is death 13-14
B. The basis of justification Vs 15-21
1. The free gift of God by grace 15
2. Jesus Christ the basis of justification 16-21
V. The sanctification of the saints
A. The way of sanctification 6:1-23
1. Crucifixion of the old self walking in the newness of life 1-6
2. Dead to sin, alive with God 7-11
3. Self dedication unto righteousness 12-19
4. The result of sin- death 20-21
5. The result of righteousness, eternal life 22-23
B. The problem with sanctification 7:1-25
1. The problem with sin and the law 1-14
2. The problem with sin and the saint 15-24
3. The victory through the Lord Jesus Christ 25
C. The power and the promise of sanctification 8
1. Walking in the Spirit 1-13
(i) No condemnation for the saint 1
(ii) Power over sin and death through the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ 2-13
2.Promise of sanctification 14-17
(i) Made the children of God 14-16
(ii) Made heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ 17
(iii) Glorified together 17
3. The glory of the children of God 18-30
(i) The hope of the children of God 18-25
(ii) The intercession of the Spirit for the saints 26-27
(iii) The calling of God 28-30
(a) Predestinating 29
(b) Justification 30
(c) Glorification 30
4. The victory and the assurance of the saints 31-39
VI The righteousness of God and the children of Israel 9:1-11:36
A. God’s dealing with Israel’s past ch. 9
1. Paul’s sorrow at the rejection of Israelite 9:1-5
2. Israelite the promise seed of Abraham and Isaac called according to God’s purpose
(The election of Israel) 6-11
3. The freedom and justice of God’s act of sovereignty 12-29
4. Israelite sought righteousness through the work of the law 30-33
B. God’s dealing with Israelite’s present Ch. 10
1. The righteousness of God is of faith 10
2. Condition of salvation universal for both Jews and gentiles 11-15
3. Israel’s rejection of the gospel 16-21
C. God’s dealing with Israelite’s future Ch. 11
1. God’s rejection of Israel not final 1-10
(a) God has not cast away Israel 1-2
(b) Elia’s prayer to God against Israel 3
(c) The remnant of Israel elected
2. The purpose of God’s rejection 11-24
(a) Salvation of the Gentiles to provoke them to jealousy 11-15
(b) The illustration of the olive tree 16-24
3. The future salvation of Israel 25-36
VII Practical commitment towards the righteousness of God 12:1-15:13
A. Personal commitment to God V1-2
B. Personal commitment to the body of Christ 3-8
(i) Self estimation of God’s gifts 3-5
(ii) Self application of God’s spiritual gifts 6-8
C. Personal commitment to the society 9-21
(i) Philanthropic exercise- Man’s love towards man 9-10
(ii) Service to men 11-13
(iii) Personal relation towards men 14-18
(iv) Personal attitude towards enemy 19-21
D. Personal commitment towards the Government 13:1-13
(i) Submit. Subjection towards the authorities 13:1-5
(ii) Give, Giving of taxes 6-7
E. Personal commitment towards the neighbor (Principles of love) 8-10
F. Personal commitment to the principles of life 11-14
(i) Watch 11
(ii) Give up 12
(iii) Walk 13
(iv) Put on 14
G. Personal commitment towards the other believers 14:1-15:1-13
1. Error of Judgment 14:1-12
(a) Believer’s freedom of choice 1-8
(b) Christ the real judge 9-12
2. Duty towards the weaker brothers 13-23,15
(i) Not to judge one another 13a
(ii) Not to be stumbling block 13b-23
(iii) Help the weak 15:1-6
(iv) Accept one another 7
(v) Glorify 8-10
(vi) Praise 11
(vii) Hope 13
VIII. The conclusion 15:14-16:27
A. Paul’s purpose in writing the epistle 15:14-16
B. Paul’s principles behind his preaching of the gospel 17-21
C. Paul’s plan for the future (His willingness to visit Rome) 22-29
D. Paul’s request for prayer 30-33
E. Paul’s personal greetings 16:1-16
(i) Introducing Phoebe to accept in the Lord 1-2
(ii) Greetings to other saints 3-16
F. Paul’s personal exhortation 17-23
(i) To keep away from divisive brethren 17-18
(ii) Paul’s willingness 19-20
(iii) Salutations from saints with Paul 21-24
G. Benediction. 25-27
1.THE PROLOGUE : 1:1-18
Paul greets his addressee in the most conventional way “Paul, to all the saints, in Rome --------------“ Paul’s greetings has two distinctive characteristics
(a) He affirms his credentials,
(b) He also affirms his saint-ship to our God the father. See how precisely does he confirm his apostleship
(a) Servant of Jesus Christ, V1
(b) Called to be an apostle, 1
(c) Set apart for the gospel of God 1
His authentic confirmation of his apostleship brings heaven and earth distinction between the two persons what he was and what he is now. (Acts9). Paul, a Jew brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, a Pharisee and a doctor of the law (Acts 5:34) being religiously orthodox, was exceedingly zealous toward God. But his attitude towards Christians was full of hatred (Acts 22:4-5). He even got certificate from the high priest to persecute the Christians unto death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. The question is, how can it be possible that a grave persecutor of Christ be a devote follower of the Lord? Perhaps the better word would be “a bond slave” of Christ. The most valid answer to this question is his journey from Jerusalem to Damascus to persecute the Christians where he heard the voice of the Lord and His call to be a chosen vessel unto Christ and be a witness unto all men (Acts :15). Thus he confirms his apostleship not according to his own will but according to the will of Christ Himself. And he is set apart for the gospel of Christ.
He expands his thought on the gospel of God as divine, messianic and characteristic. It is the gospel with great Christological value, a gospel of the divine Son of God, the gospel of Salvation in Christ Jesus, our Lord who is risen and exalted in the power of the Spirit of holiness.
Paul’s greetings to his addressee is very distinct and unique in character. Thus he claims to address them as “To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints” making an O.T. reference to Israel as the most special people of God, a remnant of God’s holy people. This exclusive and exalted designation made to the children of Israel now fits to the whole church at Rome who are called by the gospel of Christ, both the Jews and the gentiles.
Paul offers thanks to God for those saints at Rome because their faith has been spoken in all the world. Paul had never visited Rome before writing this epistle to Rome but he had a long cherished desire in his heart to visit them and therefore entreated God without ceasing making mention of their names, looking for a prosperous journey by the will of God.
The reasons of his intention to visit the church at Rome are very clearly and categorically stated by Paul. They are
(i)To impart to them some spiritual gifts.
(ii)That he may be comforted together with them by the mutual faith.
(iii)That he might have some spiritual fruits among them as he has had already other gentiles.
Paul greatly feels his commission is to preach the gospel to all men both civilized and uncivilized, wise and the fools. Because, it is the power of God to save every man both the Jew and the Greek though the Jew claims the first. It is the righteousness of God “through faith for faith” offered to all men. Thus Paul declares the key word, “the righteousness of God” in his letter to the believers at Rome. The phrase “through faith for faith” has a distinctive use in Paul’s letter. Paul is speaking about a working faith, a personal trust in God only through which the righteousness of God is possible.
1.The universality of unrighteousness of men and their condemnation: 1:18-3:20
This section commences with the wrath of God which is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (1:18). God is absolutely holy so His wrath against sinful men is justified, God has revealed Himself in His creation. His invisible qualities, His eternal power and His divine nature have been clearly revealed to all men. But men have willfully rejected Him through the morass of idolatry and willful suppression of the truth. Paul is here mainly speaking about the pagan world who have deliberately exchanged the glory of immortal God for the images in the most Ludicrous form to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
God is not only angry with man because of his willful sinfulness but he passes his divine abandonment over man because of his own ungodliness as God’s “Retributive Justice.” This is the condition of man – the universality of ungodliness who deserves only death which is the verdict of God’s judgment.
Paul now passes on from universal to the particular ie, the Jew. The Jew is no different who holds the “holier than thou attitude” as far as the gentiles are concerned. The Jew who passes judgment onto others also stands guilty along with others. The Jews who had a special relationship with God of which circumcision was a sign, are also under the judgment of God because of the universal sinfulness of man. In fact, the one who approves judgment onto others is passing judgment on himself. The Jew thought his privileges would exempt him from judgment. But on the contrary, His privileges aggravate the responsibility. The Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God’ (3:1) ie LOGIA. Thus they became the repository of the revelatory purpose of God only to disseminate to the whole world. But they failed in their responsibility to uphold God’s honor and character. Thus the apostle Paul. Concludes that the Jews despite their peculiar relationship to God are not better than the gentiles. Both the gentiles and the Jews establish the same thing ie, the universality of sin. Both the Psalmist and the Prophet Isaiah have affirmed this hopeless condition of man, “There is no one righteous, not even one,” 3:10
The condemnation now is applied to the whole world both Jew and gentile. Paul shows that even the law was never meant for justification as the Jew thought of. In fact, none can be, saved by the law.
1.The Revelation of righteousness of God. God’s method of justification 3:21-5:21
The greatest message that Paul has brought into this section is “the righteousness of God”, God’s amazing grace to all mankind.
“There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 3:22-23
Hence, justification is impossible on the part of man, Justification however is different from human point of view. God has a universal provision of righteousness for all mankind both Jew and the gentile whoever believes in Him. Right here, Paul declares the doctrine of imputation of God’s righteousness to all the believers which is apart from the law. A man is justified in the following way ---
(1)Justified by God’s grace. It is the work of God Himself “Justified by his grace” V24 It gives the essence of justification.
(2)Justification by blood. It gives the ground, the basis. It is made possible through the redemption work of Jesus Christ (v24). God has set Christ forth as that which propitiates. The word is “Hilasterion” which has also been translated as “Mercy seat”, the place of propitiation.
(3)Justified by faith – It Gives the instrument, the means of justification. There is just one way on he part of man whereby he may be accounted righteous or justified. And the one way here is “ the way of faith” (3:22,31).
Justification by faith has also been illustrated with examples from the OT. The are of Abraham and David (4:1-25). Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him for righteousness, Interestingly, it was long before the law was given. Therefore, Abraham’s justification was not based upon the works of the law. Secondly, Abraham was reckoned righteous while he was yet uncircumcised. This was contrary to what the Jews had believed because they were under the misapprehension that the blessings of justification by faith could only be the experience of only those who are circumcised (4:9). The next example is of David which affirms this method of God’s justification. The significance is that David lived and had this experience after the law was given while Abraham enjoyed before the law. Along with his justification, Abraham was given a wonderful promise, “I have made you a father of many nations” (4:17)
And this promise was not according to the law but according to his faith in God. This is a divine principle which should apply to us all who believe in God who raised Jesus. Our Lord from the dead. Thus the three fold conditions of justification that we can review are as follows-
(i)Grace of God – is the source of justification.
(ii)Blood of Christ – is the ground or basis of justification.
(iii)Faith – is the means of justification.
God can act on grace toward a sinner only on the basis of Christ’s death on the cross. And the sinner is not justified until he accepts this offer by faith. Grace is a ruling factor in bringing man to God while faith is the means.
Paul concludes “this section of justification by stating the results of justification in a very comprehensive manner.
(1)We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 5:1
(2)We have gained access by faith into His grace V2
(3)We have hope of the glory of God V2
(4)We rejoice in our sufferings 3
(5)God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit 5
(6)We are saved from the wrath of God 9
(7)We are reconciled to God 10
4.THE VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIFE :
The doctrine of justification by faith has led some to use it for license to sin on the basis of the statement that says, “----where sin abounded, grace did much more abound,” 5:20
Paul is not in fact speaking about the impossibility of the believer to sin but the incongruity of it. The meaning of God’s righteousness is expressed in our Christian way of life ie, the victorious Christian life. Paul is pointing out here three principles of spiritual life.
1.The Believer’s New Experience
Christian living is based on experience. It is a life “dead to sin but alive unto God”, Christ died for our sin but rose again to give us a newness of life. This newness of life must be demonstrated in the life of every believer. Paul never claims that the Christian is free from temptation, impervious to sin. But what Paul says is that we should “reckon” our old sinful nature as dead. In other words it means that we are alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Paul is here speaking about experiential sanctification in our day to day life.
Ridenour Fritz points out three aspects to sanctification. They are positional, experiential and ultimate sanctification. “Positional sanctification means every believer is “sanctified” in the sense that he is in the position of being one with Christ. Paul even said that those who were living in carnal sin in the church at Corinth were “sanctified saints” (ICor 6:11).
Ultimate sanctification refers to heaven, eternal life. It is another term for glorification, that is, being like Christ at His coming (I Jn 3:1-3).
But what Paul is directly concerned with in Romans 6 is “experiential sanctification”, actually experiencing triumph over sin in your daily life. We can define sanctification in neat theological terms. A setting apart for use by God through holy living in accordance with God’s will. But perhaps this ponderous word has more meaning when seen simply as “Letting Christ make a real difference in your life.” #1
#1 Fritz Ridemour.
How to be a Christian without being Religious Special Crusade Edition.
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
Box 779, Minneapolis,
Paul now comes to the conclusion part of his epistle. He begins with a reference to his own vocation and as to the purpose and justification of his writing to the saints at Rome.
Paul’s greetings and doxology
Paul expresses the assurance of their spiritual growth. He also expresses his devotion as well as his ministry for Christ. Paul also expresses his eagerness to visit the Church at Rome and seeks their prayer support. He makes mention of saints by name. He salutes all the saints with love of Christian fellowship. The apostle then closes his brilliant epistle with triumphant benediction in an outburst of praise to God.
Paul’s letter to the Romans has also been called “The Greatest Missionary Prayer Letter ever written,”#1
Paul being the greatest missionary of his time wrote this letter with a missionary heart and burden. The contents of the letter are the contents of his heart which he has expressed in words with a great concern for the Roman Christians. He has expanded the basic system of salvation and the righteousness of God on the basis of what Christ had done on the Cross.
The entire world today is terribly affected by deadly virus called “SIN VIRUS”, The world is therefore doomed to spiritual darkness and dead. The only cure from this “SIN VIRUS” and the only way to escape from this doom is God’s amazing grace which is made available to all men those who believe in Christ. This great message of Salvation through faith is brought by Paul in the book of Romans.
The letter to the Romans from the basic standpoint is truly a theological treatise. It is the most systematic in its presentation and divinely woven. It is a kind of a studied manifesto of Pauline theology.” A Compendium of Christian doctrine”- says Melanethon.
The key word that Paul expands in the light of righteousness is “Salvation”. Paul gives away the exposition of God’s method of justification, sanctification and glorification. The epistle is a kind of practical hand- book for believers to live an abundant and victorious life.
“Romans is the theological self confession of Paul, which arose out of a concrete necessary of his missionary work “ says kammel W.G. in his “Introduction to the New Testament”.
“Romans was the last will and testament of the great apostle to the Gentiles” Says Martin
After reading the phrase, “righteousness from God,” Martin Luther said.
“Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning ---- This passage of Paul became to one a gateway to heaven,” #1
“Romans” is indeed the summary of the Christian faith, very compact and all – encompassing.
#1 In Romans
In the Family Devotional Study Bible