THE EPISTLE OF PAUL TO THE
O U T L I N E
The Righteousness of God. The overarching theme of Romans is the righteousness of God. Why did God’s people in the first century need to be instructed as to the righteousness (or, consistency) of God? Because a tremendous change had occurred since the cross, the empty tomb, and in the descent of the Holy Ghost. Israel had rejected their Messiah, and now the gospel was going out to Gentiles as well as Jews. This great change raised many questions to both the Gentile mind and the Jewish mind. Did this shift mean that God was inconsistent with His Word in the Old Testament? Paul writes to explain that on the contrary, this change was nothing less than a full declaration of God’s righteousness!
- Rom. 1-8 present God’s righteousness declared in the gospel, securing full deliverance for us.
- Rom. 9-l l present God’s righteousness displayed in His dispensational ways.
- Rom. 12-16 present God’s righteousness demonstrated practically in the lives of believers.
The Gospel. Romans is written to expound the Gospel, and Galatians is written to defend the Gospel, but if you want to hear Paul preach the Gospel you must read the book of the Acts. Romans lays out in order all the technical aspects of the gospel, and answers any questions that might arise, especially out of the Jewish corridor. There are two parts to “the gospel of God” which Paul preached. He distinguishes them elsewhere as:
- “The gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). God coming down to meet man’s need.
- “The gospel of the glory of God” (2 Cor. 4:4; 2 Tim. 1:11). Christ accomplishing the will of God and being exalted at His right hand.
Lines of truth in various epistles.
In Romans you get “in Christ” (Rom. 8:1) but it is only in the negative sense – what the position saves you from. But in Ephesians it is the positive side (Eph. 1:3) – what the position brings us into. In Romans you get “dead” in the aspect of “dead to sin” or separated from sin as to be no longer affected by its action. But in Colossians it is “dead with Christ” in a personal way.
Canonical context. This epistle is well placed at the head of the other epistles because it lays the foundation of man’s relationship with God. The subject of Romans is the glad tidings. It reveals all the blessings a believer possesses as an individual. The Epistle to the Romans unfolds not so much the doctrine of the Church, but the doctrine of Christianity. Notice the geographical location to which the epistle is addressed? to Rome… a huge shift in God’s workings. Rome was the destination furthest West of any inspired epistle! All previous communications had come to and through Israel. God is seeking to show us that His thoughts go far beyond Israel.
Historical context. Paul had never been to Rome. They had gotten the gospel through another source besides Paul. It is possible those who first carried the gospel to Rome may have been the Romans sojourning in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10). Paul is writing to establish them in the truth of the Gospel, although they already knew it to some extent (Rom. 15:14). He wouldn’t jump in with assembly truth yet; for that he would wait until his arrival in person (Rom. 1:11; 15:29). He starts at square one, and builds upward (first the gospel, then dispensational truth, then kingdom truth, etc.). This is a mark of a true teacher.
Deliverance. There are two things a soul really needs in order to be delivered in this life:
- Deliverance from what I have done. This is taken up in Rom. 1 – 5:11. The term used in “sins”.
- Deliverance from what I am. This is taken up in Rom. 5:12 – 8:17. The term used is “sin”.
There is a third aspect of deliverance taken up, but it has to do with the life to come.
- Deliverance from where I am. This is taken up in Rom. 8:18-39. The term used is “the bondage of corruption”.
These three ‘deliverances’ can be summarized as: deliverance from (1) the penalty of sins, (2) the power of sin, and (3) the presence of sin. They serve as accurate headings for the subdivisions of the book. Another way to summarize these three sections is: Justification (Rom. 1-5:11), Sanctification (Rom. 5:12-8:17), and Glorification (Rom. 8:18-39).
Justification. The verb “to justify” means: to declare a person righteous. A nice example of this is in Num. 23:21, where God declares that He has not seen any iniquity in His erring people. Likewise, the Christian has been justified, in that he has not lived righteously, but God reckons him perfectly righteous! The subject of justification is fully treated of in the book of Romans, primarily in the first eight chapters. Romans answers the question asked by Job many years ago: “How shall a man be just with God?” In Romans we get primarily justification, where in Hebrews we get primarily sanctification. But then, there are many aspects of justification. Justification in Romans is how we are justified before God; justification in James is how we are justified before others. Justification is more than just being cleared of all charges (Rom. 3). We have been brought into a new position before God “in Christ” (Rom. 4) and given a righteous life (Rom. 5)! Several aspects of justification: read more…
- Justified by his grace – grace is the source (Rom. 3:24)
- Justified by faith – means of its appropriation (Rom. 5:1) — more accurately, “through faith”
- Justified by his blood – the foundation price (Rom. 5:9)
- Justification of life – given a righteous life (Rom. 5:18)
- Justified from sin – no duty to old master (Rom. 6:7)
- Justified by God – the one who reckons (Rom. 8:33)
- Justified in Christ – our righteous standing (Gal. 2:17)
- Justified by Works – manifest in our life (James 2:24)
Martin Luther said:
“This letter is truly 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 to meditate on this letter too much or too well.”
- Kelly, William. Notes on the Epistle of Paul, the Apostle, to the Romans: with a New Translation. Nabu Press, 2010.
- Stanley, Charles. On the Epistle to the Romans. London, 1885.
- Hole, Frank B. Romans and Corinthians. Scripture Truth Publications, 1995.
- Darby, J. N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible. G. Morrish, 1940.
- Anstey, B. Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans. Christian Truth Publishing.