Romans is one of the greatest books of the Bible. In fact, if you want to understand the Bible, then dive deep into Romans. Romans presents the most beautiful doctrine and theology in the book's first part and then moves to how we apply these truths to our lives. Romans 1 highlights our sin and need for God. We are objects of God’s wrath until we receive His imputed righteousness. We will grow stronger in our faith as we dive into this amazing book of Romans.
The book of Romans represents a shift in the New Testament. The first four books in the New Testament are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — the Gospels. In those books we are told of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, coming to His people. We hear about His life, death, and resurrection, and we get a glimpse into what all these things mean for God’s people, including us today.
But although Jesus’ work is finished, Scripture does not end there! In the book of Acts, we hear the history of the early church. The first followers of Christ began to multiply by the power of the Holy Spirit, bringing the Gospel to surrounding nations. Combined, the Gospel and Acts represent the history books of the New Testament — they tell us what has happened over the course of many years.
Romans, however, is a bit different. Romans is the first of a collection of books within the Bible called the Pauline Epistles, which means the letters written by the Apostle Paul. God used Paul to spread the Good News of the Gospel to the Gentiles (non-jews). Paul was in a place called Corinth while he wrote his letter to the church in Rome around the time of years 56-58 a.d.
At the time, Rome was the epicenter of the massive Roman Empire. This Empire had a population of around 3 million people in Paul’s day, and a whole 33 percent of that population were slaves — often the “best and brightest” people any civilization Rome had conquered. While Rome was luxurious and powerful, it also was pagan and did not know the true God. It was here that you would find the Coliseum, where the gladiators fought and Christians were persecuted.
When Paul wrote Romans, the Emperor was Nero Julius Caesar. Nero was a brutal and paranoid man, known for marrying a child and killing his own mother and at least one of his wives. You could picture Rome as “the culture of Las Vegas on steroids, combined with the political significance of Washington D.C.” As one could imagine, being a Christian in Rome would not be an easy life, and Paul’s letter would be incredibly significant for those people and the continued growth of the church of Christ-followers.
A Short Discussion of Romans 1
Many Bible scholars identify Romans 11 as the “hinge” of the book, which bridges the doctrine-focused first eleven chapters together with the last several chapters, which guide the reader in how to “live out” the doctrine. Right belief is called orthodoxy, and right practice is called orthopraxy; Romans encourages us to have both.
Romans 1 in particular highlights the sins of the Gentiles, which perhaps came more naturally to Paul than the focus in the next couple of chapters on the sins of the Jews. The point is, we are all sinful, and man is totally depraved.
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness… Romans 1:18
But the Good News is that we all have a savior!
For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then to the Gentile. Romans 1:16
This is a major theme of the book of Romans: Jesus desires for all of God’s people to be united in faith in Him. It is our common relationship with Jesus that brings true unity between people. The first verse of the next chapter (the original letter did not have chapter divisions) illustrates this idea well:
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Romans 2:1
As Christians, we are to hate the sin but love the sinner. We are not to focus on divisions between one another or live in animosity with other believers. This is absolutely still a problem for many of us even today! But God’s Word tells us we all are sinners, so we should spend our efforts building one another up toward a closer relationship with God, rather than tearing one another down.
Masterclass // Part 1: Come, Follow Me // Jacob Scrimpshire
Life on Purpose // Part 1: Salvation // Jason Hale