The Book of Romans is, perhaps, the most important texts in the New Testament. If we had no other writing about Jesus from the first century, everything we need to know about His life, death, and resurrection, is found in this single letter penned by Paul.
In the first paragraph we learn that Jesus has fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies that predict a Messiah who will come to earth from the line of David, who is the Son of God. Paul states that the identity of Jesus is proven by His resurrection from the dead. In just these first few words, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is boldly asserted by Paul and is sufficient for us to understand who Jesus is and why He came to earth. Even if we did not have the four Gospels, the Book of Romans is sufficient to prove Jesus’ existence, miracles, death and resurrection. Paul states ten times in these sixteen chapters that He saw Jesus alive with His own eyes and testifies that Jesus is the Son of God, the only Savior of the world.
This becomes particularly important to us later when we learn that Paul was first a vicious adversary of Jesus and all of those who followed Him. It was Paul’s mission to wipe out this false cult that he saw as a serious threat to Judaism. A sudden and instantaneous change occurred when Paul was on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus. Jesus personally and forcefully appeared to Paul and called Him to be His witness to the world—along with the other eleven men who were already testifying that Jesus is the promised Messiah.
Throughout the entire text of Romans, Paul documents hundreds of places where Jesus fulfilled a particular Hebrew prophecy of the Messiah. We learn from Paul’s letter to the Romans who God is, what He requires of us, and how any person can receive the forgiveness of their sins and eternal life, simply by placing all their trust in Jesus as their Savior.
For those who are seeking to understand the fundamental principles of salvation and how to communicate these truths to others, Paul lays out a precise and clear path that must be followed in order to obtain the eternal life God planned for us all before He made the universe.
1 This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. 2 God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. 3 The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, 4 and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.
6 And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ. 7 I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people.
May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
We discover that Paul is the author of these texts from the first sentence. We see that he believes himself to be the servant of Jesus, which would have been impossible before Jesus showed Himself to Paul in risen form in the text of Acts chapter 9.
Paul is quite proficient in noting all of the Hebrew prophecies of the Messiah which Jesus fulfilled during His short three and one half years of ministry. We learn that Jesus was following a precise coarse that was determined for Him before He was born at Bethlehem and was crucified and risen from the dead.
We learn in these first paragraphs that Jesus had commanded the Apostles who had seen Him alive after being killed, to write their testimony of Jesus and send it out to the whole world. This was the entire purpose of Jesus calling these men. Paul states that telling the world about Jesus was a unique privilege that Jesus gave to the men who had seen Him alive. Paul makes it clear that the Gentiles are included in this good news of salvation. Anyone, regardless of who they are or what they have done, can receive the forgiveness of sins and obtain eternal life. All they must do is turn from their sins and receive Jesus as their Savior.
For the largest part of Romans, Paul will tell us how this is possible. The text of Romans is systematic and precise in how God has eliminated all human excuses and states emphatically that there is no viable reason for not knowing God and obeying what He requires for eternal life. Paul will lay out God’s argument for those who make their excuses, beginning at verse 18 of chapter 1.
The Good News
8 Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world. 9 God knows how often I pray for you. Day and night I bring you and your needs in prayer to God, whom I serve with all my heart by spreading the Good News about his Son.
10 One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you. 11 For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. 12 When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.
13 I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to visit you, but I was prevented until now. I want to work among you and see spiritual fruit, just as I have seen among other Gentiles. 14 For I have a great sense of obligation to people in both the civilized world and the rest of the world, to the educated and uneducated alike. 15 So I am eager to come to you in Rome, too, to preach the Good News.
16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. 17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
God’s Anger at Sin
18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.
28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.