PAUL’S LETTER TO THE ROMANS
This study of Paul’s epistle to the Romans is intended to provide insights into Christian living. It may sound like an understatement – or an obvious premise – because, after all, any study of the Bible aims at equipping believers. Yet, the epistle to the Romans addresses, specifically, the process of moving from godlessness, into God’s grace of salvation for all, through Jesus Christ, and into a life of victory in community with other believers and in a civil society.
I have presented this study to groups of men in their journey of recovery from addictions during a roughly 7- year period. For any spiritual based recovery program I cannot think of a better tool than the epistle to the Romans.
People in recovery know very well the futility and frustration of relying on one’s determination or resolve to defeat addiction. Those who have participated in programs based on AA principles, for example, appreciate the truth of a power greater than oneself. The epistle to the Romans is the best example, from the Christian perspective, of the power of God and his grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Throughout the course of Christian history, the epistle to the Romans has been a catalyst for transformation.
The Prostestant Reformation in the 16th century was, in many ways, spearheaded by a fresh discovery of the message of the epistle to the Romans. One of the major themes of Romans is in 1:17: “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith”.The reformers saw some contradictions between this and the practices of the church of the Middle Ages.
More than a thousand years earlier, St. Augustine of Hippo (November 13, 354- August 28,430), one of the greatest philosophers and theologians of western Christianity, came to true conversion upon discovering Romans 13:13-14: “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful manner”.
Protestants in general see Martin Luther as the father of the Reformation because of his teachings about grace and salvation which are based on the epistle to the Romans, which he termed, the “Purest Gospel”. He wrote: “This letter is really the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. It is well worth a Christian’s while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul. It is impossible to read or meditate on this letter too much or too well. The more one deals with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes”.
John Chrysostom (349-407), bishop of Constantinople – one ot the greatest preachers of all time (actually, he was named Chrysostom, meaning, Golden Mouth because of his eloquence in preaching) – gave 32 homilies on Romans. Although he preached through many books of the bible, this is what he said about Paul: “I like all the saints, but St. Paul the most of all – that vessel of election, the trumpet of heaven”.
The following is a suggested topical division that will facilitate this study:
1.1 Salutation (1:1-15)
1.2 The Gospel as revelation of God’s righteousness (1:16-17)
2. WE NEED OF REDEMPTION (1:18-3:20)
3. JUSTIFICATION or GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS (3:21-5:21)
4. SANCTIFICATION (6 – 8)
5. THE PROBLEM OF UNBELIEVING ISRAEL (9 – 11)
6. LIVING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE (12 – 15:13)
7. CONCLUSION or FINAL REMARKS (15:14 – 33)
8. FINAL GREETINGS (16).
- Justified by Faith Alone (puctheology.wordpress.com)
- Romans – Introduction (cutpaste.typepad.com)
- Ruminating Romans: Faithing in the Faith of Christ (afkimel.wordpress.com)
- Live by Faith (Romans 1) (theheartman.wordpress.com)