Paul's Letter to the Romans was written to prepare the way for a visit Paul planned to make to the church at Rome. His plan was to work among the Christians there for a while and then, with their support, to go on to Spain. He wrote to explain his understanding of the Christian faith and its practical implications for the lives of Christians. The book contains Paul's most complete statement of his message.
After greeting the people of the church at Rome and telling them of his prayers for them, Paul states the theme of the letter: “The gospel reveals how God puts people right with himself: it is through faith from beginning to end” (1.17).
Paul then develops this theme. All people, both Jews and Gentiles, need to be put right with God, for all alike are under the power of sin. People are put right with God through faith in Jesus Christ. Next Paul describes the new life in union with Christ that results from this new relation with God. The believer has peace with God and is set free by God's Spirit from the power of sin and death. In chapters 5–8 Paul also discusses the purpose of the Law of God and the power of God's Spirit in the believer's life. Then the apostle wrestles with the question of how Jews and Gentiles fit into the plan of God for all people. He concludes that the Jewish rejection of Jesus is part of God's plan for bringing all people within the reach of God's grace in Jesus Christ, and he believes that the Jews will not always reject Jesus. Finally Paul writes about how the Christian life should be lived, especially about the way of love in relations with others. He takes up such themes as service to God, the duty of Christians to the state and to one another, and questions of conscience. He ends the letter with personal messages and with words of praise to God.
Outline of Contents
Introduction and theme (1.1-17)
The universal human need of salvation (1.18—3.20)
God's way of salvation (3.21—4.25)
The new life in Christ (5.1—8.39)
Israel in the plan of God (9.1—11.36)
Christian conduct (12.1—15.13)
Conclusion and personal greetings (15.14—16.27)
The letters that Paul wrote to churches and individuals to better explain the Good News of Jesus Christ are some of the earliest writings in the New Testament. The letter Paul wrote to the church in Rome is his longest, and perhaps his best effort to explain how people can be made acceptable to God because of the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for their sins.
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