An Introduction to Romans

Introduction Generated From The Text
I. Author

1:1 Writer calls himself Paul.
Calls himself a bondservant of Christ.
Says he is a called apostle.
Says he was set apart to the gospel of God.
1:5 He received grace and apostleship to call Gentiles to obedience. His apostleship was through Jesus.
1:9 He served God with his whole heart in preaching the gospel.
Wanted to go to Rome and preach.
1:11-13 Wanted to share the spiritual gift of mutual encouragement with the Roman Christians. (NIV)
1:13 Had been prevented from preaching in Rome.
Wanted to have a harvest amount the Roman Gentiles as among other Gentiles.
1:16 He was not ashamed of the gospel.
1:17 Quoted Scripture from the Old Testament (Hab. 2:4)
2:6 (Psa. 62:12; Prov. 24:12)
2:24 (Isa 52:5; Ezek. 36:22;
3;4 (Psa. 51:4)
3:12 (Psa. 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Eccles. 7:20)
3:13 (Psa. 5:9)
(Psa. 140:2)
3:14 (Psa. 10:7)
3:17 (Isa. 59:7, 8)
3:18 (Psa. 36:1)
4:3 (Gen. 15:6)
4:8 (Psa. 32:1, 2)
3:8 Was being accused of saying “Let us do evil that good may result.”
3:9 Identified himself with the Jews (cf. v. 1; 11:14).
3:31 Is committed to a system of faith.
Does not nullify law, but upholds it.
4:1 Considered Abraham his forefather.
5:1 The writer considered himself among those justified by faith.
5:3 Suffered for Christ and rejoiced in it.
5:4 Considered himself as helpless without Christ.
6:3 He had been baptized into Christ.
6:4-6 Considered himself as having a new life.
7:7-12 Came to know sin and died spiritually as a result of law.
9:1 He had a conscience enlightened by the Holy Spirit.
9:2 He was deeply grieved and had anguish in his heart over the lost Israelites.
9:3, 4 His natural kinsmen were Israelites; thus, he was an Israelite.
10:1 He desired and prayed for Israelites to be saved.
11:2 The writer was an Israelite from the tribe of Benjamin.
11:13 He was an apostle to the Gentiles.
11:14 He also hoped to provoke some Israelites to turn to Christ out of envy.
15:14 He had confidence in the brethren.
15:15, 16 He felt that his being given the ministry was an act of grace.
15:16 He was made a minister of Christ to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel.
15:17 He gloried in Christ, not in what he had done.
15:18, 19 His preaching was accompanied by the power of signs and miracles, which he did through the power of the Holy Spirit.
15:20 Always had an ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known–did not want to build on a foundation laid by someone else.
15:23 Had no more place to preach in the regions where his ministry focused,
15:23 Had been longing to see the Roman Christians
15:24 Had plans to go to Spain
15:24 Planned to stop by Rome on the way to Spain
Wanted the Roman Christians to assist him on his way to Spain
15:25, 26 Was on his way to Jerusalem taking the contribution from Achaia and Macedonia when he wrote
15:27 Felt Gentile Christians owed it to the Jews to help them
15:30-31 Was suffering in a struggle and needed rescued from the unbelievers in Judaea
16:1, 2 Had been helped by Phoebe
3, 4 Priscilla and Aquila had risked their lives for him
7, 11 Had relatives in the church in Rome
8, 9, 12 Had dear friends in Rome
13 Had a friend who was like his mother in Rome
19 Was joyful over the faith of the Romans
Had desire for them to be truly Christian
21 Had a fellow worker named Timothy
Had relatives who were with him when he wrote this letter
22 Had a scribe named Tertius
23 Was enjoying the hospitality of Gaius when he wrote

The author of Romans called himself Paul. He was both an apostle and bond servant of Jesus Christ. He had been appointed an apostle to the Gentiles, but he had the heart of a servant. He was an Israelite and quoted from the Old Testament extensively. He championed the message that God gives righteousness to all unrighteous people who will believe, not by law, but by faith. He wanted to go to Rome and have some fruit among them, but had been prevented from going there. His mission was to promote obedience of faith among the Gentiles.

II. Recipients

1:7 Lived in Rome
Were called to be saints
1:8 Had a well known faith
1:11, 12 Might have been in need of encouragement
1:13 At least some of them were Gentiles (cf. 1:5)
1:16, 17 There was like a “Jew-Gentile” problem and a “faith-works” problem among them.
2:1, 2 The Jews were apparently judging Gentiles. As they judged others, they stood self-condemned, because they also practiced sin.
2:3f Some Jews seem to have thought they had a special privilege to sin just because they were Jews.
2:5ff Some Jews were apparently under wrath because of a refusal to repent.
2:11 Some Jews evidently thought God was a respecter of person who who would show favoritism toward them.
2:12, 13 Some apparently thought that just having the law was enough to gain them favor with God, even without their doing what it says.
2:17 Some called themselves Jews, relied on the law, and bragged about their relationship to God.
2:18-24 Some were apparently proud of their roles as teachers of the law, but practiced the sins they condemned (cf. v. 27).
2:28, 29 Some thought they were God’s chosen just because of physical circumcision.
3:9 Some possibly thought that, by their own merit, they were better than others [i.e. less lost sinners than the Gentiles] (cf. vv. 10-18).
3:27 Some were apparently tempted to boast about their salvation, as though it was something they deserved.
4:1 Abraham was the forefather of at least some of them.
4:9-11 Some of them seem to have thought that circumcision was a condition of justification, i.e., must precede salvation.
6:1ff Some were apparently taking undue advantage their freedom in Christ (cf. v. 15; Gal. 5:13).
7:1 They were a people who knew the law.
8:18 There appears to have been some suffering among them, maybe just the normal suffering life brings.
9:6ff Some apparently felt that God had not kept his word, i.e., his promise to the Jews.
9:14ff Some appear to have felt God was unjust in saving some sinners while condemning others.
10:3ff Some were seeking to establish their own righteousness; thus, rejecting the righteousness from God.
11:1 Some seem to have felt God had permanently rejected the Jews (cf. v. 11).
11:13 Some of them were Gentiles.
12:1 There might have been a lack of commitment on the part of some.
12:9 There might have been a lack of sincere love.
12:14, 17 There might have been a spirit of vengefulness among them.
13:11ff There might have been a resistance of government.
14:1ff Some were apparently rejecting and condemning each other over practices over which they disagreed.
14:1, 2 There were both strong and weak brethren among them (cf.15:1).
15:14 They were capable of counseling one another.
16:1ff Paul knew many of them by name.

Those to whom Paul wrote this letter lived in Rome. They were obviously both Jew and Gentile Christians. They were struggling with some issues relating to circumcision, the law, and godly living. They were judging each other over differing concepts of the gospel, by legalistic standards (without grace), and in regard to cultural differences. They needed to learn to trust in the blood of Christ, not their own race or deeds, for salvation. They also needed to learn to be tolerant of imperfections in each other and manifest the same grace God shows, forgiveness because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice. They also needed to learn to let God’s righteousness dominate their personal conduct.

III. Occasion
1:5, 7, 14, 16 Need to defend Gentile salvation
1:12 Need for encouragement
1: 17 Some were trusting a salvation on the basis of nationality
2:1 Some were passing judgment on others
2:5 Some were abusing the grace of God
2:9-11 Some were espousing a religion of favoritism toward Jews
2:17 Some Jews were bragging about their relationship with God
2:24 Jews were living lives that hindered the Gentiles
3:9 Jews were thinking they were better than Gentiles
3:10 Some were thinking themselves righteous on the basis of their race or works
4:9 Some were trusting in circumcision
4:13, 16 Some were claiming salvation because they were descended from Abraham
5:8 Some might have been doubting God’s love for them
5:9 Some were doubting their salvation
6:1, 15 Some were continuing in sin abusing Grace
7:4 Some were possibly clinging to law as a means of salvation
8:14 Some appear to have been living in fear
8:18 Some were apparently suffering
8:33 Some appear to have been condemning others
9:6, 8 Some were feeling that if Gentiles were saved and Jews lost, the word of God had failed
9:14 Some felt God was unjust in saving believing sinners and condemning unbelieving sinners
9:23 Some were questioning Gentiles being called of God
9:30; 11:6 Some were pursuing salvation by law rather than by faith
10:3 Some Jews were seeking to establish their own righteousness
10:9 Some were failing to confess Christ as raised from dead (cf. v 6)
10:12 Some were making a distinction between Jew and Gentile.
10:16-21 Some were apparently questioning whether the unbelieving Jews had been given an equal chance to hear the gospel.
11:1ff Some were apparently saying that, if Paul’s message were true, God had rejected His people.
11:7 Some apparently believed they could be saved by works.
11:11 There was a question about whether unbelieving Jews had fallen beyond possible salvation.
11:18 Some Gentiles apparently were beginning to boast because God cut off unbelieving Jews and accepted them (cf. v 25).
11:20 Some Jews had been rejected because of unbelief, and Paul wanted to provoke them to believe (cf. v 14).
12:2 Some were apparently conforming to the pattern of the world in the way they lived.
12:3 Some were thinking too highly of themselves.
13:1, 2 Some might have been rebelling against the civil government.
13:8 Some might have been failing to pay their debts.
Some might have been failing to love one another.
13:11 Some appear to have been in spiritual slumber.
14:1ff There was a problem between brethren who felt it ok to eat meat and those who would not eat; they were apparently rejecting and condemning one another.
14:5 There was a controversy over keeping of special days.
14:13 They were passing judgment on one another.
14:19-21 Some were apparently disregarding the feelings of others and the effect their doing all they had a right to do was having on others–causing them to depart from the faith.
14:22 Some were apparently pressing and pushing what they believed about matters of judgment on others.
Some might have been doing what they believed wrong just to please others.
15:1-3 Some were apparently more interested in asserting their own rights than in the spiritual welfare of others.
15:5 There appears to have been a lack of unity among the Christians.
15:7 Some were apparently rejecting one another over matters of difference.
15:15 They needed reminded of the implications of the gospel.
16:1 Some were causing divisions and putting obstacles in the way of the Christians in Rome.
These church troublers were serving their own appetites by using smooth talk and flattery to deceive naive people.

Paul wrote the Romans because they needed help understanding God’s way of making people righteous. They also needed to learn how to live as those made righteous by faith, even the source of power for this way of living. The Jewish Christians in Rome needed to understand that God’s saving believing Gentiles and rejecting unbelieving Jews fulfilled God’s word and that it had not failed. As people of different cultures and even different sincere understandings over some doctrinal matters, they needed to learn to accept one another and live together in peace and unity.

© 2004, Dr. Wm. T. (Bill) Lambert
Professor Emeritus – NT Literature and Interpretation
College of Bible and Religion
Harding University

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