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Introduction to Romans


Summary of the Book of Romans

This summary of the book of Romans provides information about the title, author(s), date of writing, chronology, theme, theology, outline, a brief overview, and the chapters of the Book of Romans.


The writer of this letter was the apostle Paul (see 1:1 and note). No voice from the early church was ever raised against his authorship. The letter contains a number of historical references that agree with known facts of Paul's life. The doctrinal content of the book is typical of Paul, which is evident from a comparison with other letters he wrote.

Date and Place of Writing

The book was probably written in the early spring of a.d. 57. Very likely Paul was on his third missionary journey, ready to return to Jerusalem with the offering from the mission churches for poverty-stricken believers in Jerusalem (see 15:25-27 and notes). In 15:26 it is suggested that Paul had already received contributions from the churches of Macedonia and Achaia, so he either was at Corinth or had already been there. Since he had not yet been at Corinth (on his third missionary journey) when he wrote 1 Corinthians (cf. 1Co 16:1-4) and the collection issue had still not been resolved when he wrote 2 Corinthians (2Co 8-9), the writing of Romans must follow that of 1,2 Corinthians (dated c. 55).

The most likely place of writing is either Corinth or Cenchrea (about six miles away) because of references to Phoebe of Cenchrea (see 16:1 and note) and to Gaius, Paul's host (see 16:23 and note), who was probably a Corinthian (see 1Co 1:14). Erastus (see 16:23 and note) may also have been a Corinthian (see 2Ti 4:20).


The original recipients of the letter were the people of the church at Rome (1:7), who were predominantly Gentile. Jews, however, must have constituted a substantial minority of the congregation (see 4:1; chs. 9 - 11; see also note on 1:13). Perhaps Paul originally sent the entire letter to the Roman church, after which he or someone else used a shorter form (chs. 1 - 14 or 1-15) for more general distribution. See note on 2Pe 3:15; see also map, p. 2314.

Major Theme

Paul's primary theme in Romans is the basic gospel, God's plan of salvation and righteousness for all humankind, Jew and Gentile alike (see 1:16-17 and notes). Although justification by faith has been suggested by some as the theme, it would seem that a broader theme states the message of the book more adequately. "Righteousness from God" (1:17) includes justification by faith, but it also embraces such related ideas as guilt, sanctification and security.


Paul's purposes for writing this letter were varied:

    1. He wrote to prepare the way for his coming visit to Rome and his proposed mission to Spain (1:10-15; 15:22-29).
    2. He wrote to present the basic system of salvation to a church that had not received the teaching of an apostle before.
    3. He sought to explain the relationship between Jew and Gentile in God's overall plan of redemption. The Jewish Christians were being rejected by the larger Gentile group in the church (see 14:1 and note) because the Jewish believers still felt constrained to observe dietary laws and sacred days (14:2-6).


When Paul wrote this letter, he was probably at Corinth (see Ac 20:2-3 and notes) on his third missionary journey. His work in the eastern Mediterranean was almost finished (see 15:18-23), and he greatly desired to visit the Roman church (see 1:11-12; 15:23-24). At this time, however, he could not go to Rome because he felt he must personally deliver the collection taken among the Gentile churches for the poverty-stricken Christians of Jerusalem (see 15:25-28 and notes). So instead of going to Rome, he sent a letter to prepare the Christians there for his intended visit in connection with a mission to Spain (see 15:23-24 and note on 15:24). For many years Paul had wanted to visit Rome to minister there (see 1:13-15), and this letter served as a careful and systematic theological introduction to that hoped-for personal ministry. Since he was not acquainted directly with the Roman church, he says little about its problems (but see 14:1 -- 15:13; cf. also 13:1-7; 16:17-18).


Paul begins by surveying the spiritual condition of all people. He finds Jews and Gentiles alike to be sinners and in need of salvation. That salvation has been provided by God through Jesus Christ and his redemptive work on the cross. It is a provision, however, that must be received by faith -- a principle by which God has always dealt with humankind, as the example of Abraham shows. Since salvation is only the beginning of Christian experience, Paul moves on to show how believers are freed from sin, law and death -- a provision made possible by their union with Christ in both death and resurrection and by the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Paul then shows that Israel too, though presently in a state of unbelief, has a place in God's sovereign redemptive plan. Now she consists of only a remnant, allowing for the conversion of the Gentiles, but the time will come when "all Israel will be saved" (11:26; see note there). The letter concludes with an appeal to the readers to work out their Christian faith in practical ways, both in the church and in the world. None of Paul's other letters states so profoundly the content of the gospel and its implications for both the present and the future.

Special Characteristics

    1. The most systematic of Paul's letters. It reads more like an elaborate theological essay than a letter.
    2. Emphasis on Christian doctrine. The number and importance of the theological themes touched upon are impressive: sin and death, salvation, grace, faith, righteousness, justification, sanctification, redemption, resurrection and glorification.
    3. Widespread use of OT quotations. Although Paul regularly quotes from the OT in his letters, in Romans the argument is sometimes carried along by such quotations (see especially chs. 9 - 11).
    4. Deep concern for Israel. Paul writes about her present status, her relationship to the Gentiles and her final salvation.


I.           Introduction (1:1-15)

  1. Theme: Righteousness from God (1:16-17)
  2. The Unrighteousness of All People (1:18;3:20)
    1. Gentiles (1:18-32)
    2. Jews (2:1;3:8)
    3. Summary: All People (3:9-20)

                  IV.        Righteousness Imputed: Justification (3:21;5:21)

    1. Through Christ (3:21-26)
    2. Received by Faith (3:27;4:25)

1.    The principle established (3:27-31)

      • The principle illustrated (ch. 4)
    1. The Fruits of Righteousness (5:1-11)
    2. Summary: Humanity's Unrighteousness Contrasted with God's Gift of Righteousness (5:12-21)

                   V.        Righteousness Imparted: Sanctification (chs. 6-8)

    1. Freedom from Sin's Tyranny (ch. 6)
    2. Freedom from the Law's Condemnation (ch. 7)
    3. Life in the Power of the Holy Spirit (ch. 8)

VI.        God's Righteousness Vindicated: The Justice of His Way with Israel (chs. 9-11)

    1. The Justice of God's Rejection of Israel (9:1-29)
    2. The Cause of That Rejection (9:30;10:21)
    3. The Rejection Is Neither Complete nor Final (ch. 11)
      • There is even now a remnant (11:1-10)
      • The rejection is only temporary (11:11-24)
      • God's ultimate purpose is mercy (11:25-36)

VII.           Righteousness Practiced (12:1;15:13)

    1. In the Body -- the Church (ch. 12)
    2. In the World (ch. 13)
    3. Among Weak and Strong Christians (14:1;15:13)

VIII.           Conclusion (15:14-33)

  1. Commendation, Greetings and Doxology (ch. 16)

──New International Version


Introduction to Romans

The scope or design of the apostle in writing to the Romans appears to have been, to answer the unbelieving, and to teach the believing Jew; to confirm the Christian and to convert the idolatrous Gentile; and to show the Gentile convert as equal with the Jewish, in respect of his religious condition, and his rank in the Divine favour. These several designs are brought into on view, by opposing or arguing with the infidel or unbelieving Jew, in favour of the Christian or believing Gentile. The way of a sinner's acceptance with God, or justification in his sight, merely by grace, through faith in the righteousness of Christ, without distinction of nations, is plainly stated. This doctrine is cleared from the objections raised by Judaizing Christians, who were for making terms of acceptance with God by a mixture of the law and the gospel, and for shutting out the Gentiles from any share in the blessings of salvation brought in by the Messiah. In the conclusion, holiness is further enforced by practical exhortations.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Romans

Romans General Review
AUTHOR:  PAUL, the apostle (1:1)
PLACE OF WRITING:  CORINTH; as evident from the greetings of Gaius,
who lived at Corinth (16:23; 1 Co 1:14), and of Erastus, who had
settled down there (16:23; 2 Ti 4:20).  Also, Phoebe, who apparently
accompanied the epistle (16:1-2), was from the church at Cenchrea, a
"suburb" of Corinth.
TIME OF WRITING:  57-58 A.D.; while on his third journey (Ac 20:1-3),
just prior to his arrival to Jerusalem with the collection for the
needy saints (15:25-26; Ac 20:16; 24:17).
BACKGROUND OF THE CHURCH AT ROME:  Nothing is revealed in the New
Testament as to the start of the church in Rome.  It is possible that
visitors to Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost following the Lord's
ascension were among the 3000 saved and later took the gospel with them
back home (Ac 2:10).  Or it could be that among those dispersed
following Stephen's death were some that went to Rome and preached the
gospel there (Ac 8:1-4).
The first we read of Christians from Rome is possibly that of Aquila 
and Priscilla, who along with all Jews were expelled from Rome by 
Claudius and were found by Paul at Corinth during his second journey 
(Ac 18:1-2).  After travelling with Paul to Ephesus and working with 
the church there (Ac 18:18-19, 24-26; 1 Co 16:19), we find them back at 
Rome and hosting a church in their house (16:3-5).
From the greetings given by Paul in chapter sixteen, it appears that 
there were several churches in Rome meeting in various homes 
(16:5,14,15).  The names of individuals would suggest that the
Christians were primarily Gentiles, with a smaller number of Jews.
The reputation of the Christians in Rome was widespread; both their 
faith (1:8) and obedience (16:19) were well known.  For this reason 
Paul had long wanted to see them (15:23), with the goal of sharing in
their mutual edification (1:11-12) and to be assisted on his way to 
Spain (15:22-24).
PURPOSE OF WRITING:  Paul expresses in this epistle that he had for
some time planned to preach the gospel at Rome (1:13-15) and from there
go on to Spain (15:22-24).  Though he still had these intentions
(15:28-29), the spreading cancer of the "Judaizing teachers" which had
disrupted churches in Antioch, Corinth and Galatia was likely to make
its way to Rome.  To prevent this, and to assure that his visit to Rome 
would be a pleasant one (15:30-33), Paul writes:
In doing so, he demonstrates how the gospel of Christ fulfills what is
lacking in both heathenism and Judaism, thereby  effectively replacing
them as religious systems.  Such an epistle would arm the church at
Rome against those who would pervert the gospel or suggest that it was
inadequate by itself.
THEME:  Romans 1:16-17
   "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the
    power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew
    first and also for the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of
    God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just
    shall live by faith.'"
In these two verses Paul states his confidence in the gospel and the
reasons for it.  The bulk of his epistle is devoted to explaining why
and how the gospel of Christ is God's power to save those who believe.
BRIEF OUTLINE (adapted from Dextor Sammons)
      1. The Need Of The Gentiles (1:18-2:16)
      2. The Need Of The Jews (2:17-3:8)
      3. The Universal Need For Salvation (3:9-20)
      1. God's Righteousness Through Faith (3:21-31)
      2. Abraham As An Example (4:1-25)
      1. Freedom From Wrath (5:1-21)
      2. Freedom From Sin (6:1-23)
      3. Freedom From The Law (7:1-25)
      4. Freedom From Death (8:1-39)
      1. God Chooses To Save Believers (9:1-33)
      2. Israel Chose To Trust In Their Own Righteousness (10:1-21)
      3. Both Jew And Gentile Can Have Salvation Through Faith
1) Who wrote the epistle to the Romans?
   - The apostle Paul (1:1)
2) From where was it written?
   - Corinth
3) What is the approximate date of writing?
   - 57 or 58 A.D.
4) What is the purpose of this epistle?
   - To set straight the design and nature of the gospel
5) Where is the theme of this epistle stated?
   - Romans 1:16-17


--《Executable Outlines