I. IMPORTANCE: The book of Romans is the most comprehensive presentation of Christianity in the New Testament. It was at the heart of the Protestant Reformation and is the most important letter ever written.
II. AUTHOR: Paul (1:1). This authorship is challenged by almost no one. Paul wrote half of the New Testament. He was the greatest missionary of the first century.
1. Internal evidence
a. Called himself Paul (1:1)
b. Described himself as only Paul could (11:13 [cf. Ga 2:19]; 15:15-20 [cf. Ga 1:15-17])
2. External evidence
a. Early Christian writers
b. Literary style Pauline
c. Consistent with his doctrinal views elsewhere in his writings
B. Lessons from authorship
1. Agony for Jews (9:1-5; 10:1)
2. Personal attachments (16:3-16)
3. Missionary (1:8-13; 15:20-24)
III. RECIPIENTS: Paul did not address the epistle to “the church at Rome.”
A. There were probably a number of churches in Rome, although no apostle had yet visited that city. Most of the readers were Gentile, albeit there were some former Jews in the church as well (Acts 2:10). Many were probably Paul’s converts from other cities.
B. Second, Paul wanted to present a complete statement about Christianity to the most crucial city of the world (1:15).
C. Three different places of worship: 16:5, 14, 15.
D. Their faith was well known to believers in other cities (1:8; 16:19)
IV. DATE AND PLACE OF WRITING: Written from Corinth, Greece (16:1), in A.D. 57-58 at the end of Paul’s third missionary journey (Ac 20:2,3). He wrote Romans shortly after the writing of Second Corinthians.
V. SITUATION: Paul addressed Romans to believers (1:7) who came from a Gentile background (1:5, 6, 13; 11:13; 15:15, 16). Paul had never been to Rome, yet Christians had been there for many years. Paul wanted the Romans, located in the principal city of the world, to have the most systematic presentation of Christianity ever set forth.
VI. STYLE OF WRITING: Epistolary. This style puts emphasis on propositional statements in the book of Romans.
VII. BACKGROUND AND SETTING: Rome was the capital of the Roman Empire and was founded in 753 B.C. The population was over one million in Paul’s day, but many were slaves. Tradition says Paul was martyred in Rome during Nero’s reign (A.D. 54-68).
A. Phoebe (16:1) was about to leave for Rome on business, so Paul took this opportunity to write Romans so she could deliver it.
B. Paul wanted to announce his plans to visit the area after a trip to Jerusalem (15:24; 28-29; cf. Acts 19:21).
C. Paul wanted to set forth the most extensive systematic treatment of Christianity to believers living in the most important city of the world.
D. Paul wanted to justify his mission to the Gentiles (15:16).
E. Paul presented a gospel that rose to the standard of the absolute righteousness of God.
IX. THEME: The veracity and vindication of God. Romans argues for theology proper—the righteousness of God.
X. KEY WORDS: righteousness, just, justify, justification, imputation, propitiation
XI. KEY VERSES: 1:16,17
A. The book of Romans is the magnum opus of all Paul’s epistles.
B. It is a systematic treatise of Christianity.
C. It is the most theological/doctrinal of all Paul’s epistles.
D. It is the longest of Paul’s letters.
E. It is the most formal of Paul’s letters, but it is more than abstract.
F. It focuses on the absolute righteousness of God.
G. The book is universal in scope.
H. Paul uses a great number of Old Testament quotes.
I. Some say it is the most important book in the Bible.
J. It was written to a church Paul did not found.
K. Paul mentions 35 people in the 16th chapter; 27 were living in Rome at the time of writing.
L. Romans contains more salutations than any other book (chapter 16).
M. Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews all expound Habakkuk 2:4.
N. The church at Rome was spiritually healthy (1:8; 15:14; 16:19).
O. Romans is Galatians enlarged.
P. The phrase “of God” occurs 59 times in Romans.
XIII. DOCTRINES: justification, conciliation, imputation, propitiation, and sovereignty.
XIV. TONE: Romans is not polemical but systematic in treatise. The first 11 chapters form a theological argument about the integrity of God.
I. INTRODUCTION (1:1-17)
A. Salutation, 1:1-7
1. Author, 1:1-5
2. Destination, 1:6-7a
3. Greetings, 1:7b
B. Occasion, 1:8-15
C. Theme, 1:16-17
II. THE PRINCIPLE OF GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS (1:18-chapter 11)
A. The need of those who fall short of God’s righteousness (1:18-3:20)
1. Gentile need, 1:18-32
2. Moralist need, 2:1-16
3. Jewish need, 2:17-3:8
4. Universal need, 3:19-20
B. Provision of God’s righteousness by justification (3:21-5:21)
1. The facts of justification, 3:21-31
2. Illustrations of justification, 4:1-25
3. Results of justification, 5:1-25
C. Effects of God’s righteousness manifested in sanctification (6-8)
1. The outer circle of positional truth, 6:1-23
2. Spiritual conflict, 7:1-25
3. Divine dynamic, 8:1-39
D. A theodicy of God’s righteousness (9-11)
1. Divine sovereignty, 9:1-29
2. Human responsibility, 9:30-10:21
3. Final purpose, 11:1-36
III. THE OUTCROPING OF GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS IN LIVES OF BELIEVERS (12:1-15:13)
A. Principles of the Christian walk, 12:1-2
B. Practice of the Christian walk, 12:3-15:13
1. In general, 12:3-21
2. Special, 13:1-15:13
a. Government, 13:1-7
b. Neighbor, 13:8-14
c. Liberty, 14:1-15:13
IV. CONCLUSION (15:14-16:27)
A. Paul’s personal plans, 15:14-29
B. Prayer requests, 15:30-33
A. Greetings, 16:1-24
B. Benediction, 16:25-27