Church Education Trust

Church and the Bible

TNT007 Romans



Introduction: 1:1-17.

This includes salutation, thanksgiving and text. (The text is the proposition and summary of the whole treatise and Paul commences immediately to develop it).

A. Doctrinal Chapter 1:18 - 11:36.

I. The Need of Salvation.

The universal guilt and depravity of man) 1:18 - 3:19.

The guilt and depravity of the Gentile 1:18-32.

The guilt and depravity of the Jew 2:1 - 3:19.

II The Scope of Salvation by Faith 3:20 - 8:39

Justification by Faith 3:20 - 4:25.

1. Defined 3:20-31.
2. Illustrated by Abraham 4.

Sanctification by Faith 5 - 8.

1. The connecting link between Justification and Sanctification, also the ground of Salvation from beginning to end, the Atonement 5.

2. Sanctification defined - means death of and to sin 6, - means freedom from Law through death of first husband i.e. Sin 7:1-6.

3. Failure of the Law to Save the battle with Sin 7:7-25.

4. The triumphant life, the Life of Freedom 8.

III Salvation by Faith as relating to Israel 9 - 11

Paul`s love for Israel 9:1-5.

1.The mystery of Election, the Jew rejects and is rejected 9:6-33.
2.Salvation only by Faith for Jew or Gentile 10.
3.The Restoration of the Jew 11. 

B. Practical. 12:1 - 15:7

Christian Duties

To God 12:1-2
To Ourselves 12:3
To the Church 12:4-B
To Other Christians 12:9-13 5, To Our Enemies 12:14.21
To the State 13:1-7
To Our Neighbours 13:8-14 S. To the Weak Brother 14 - 15:7

Conclusion 15:8 - 16:27

Paul`s ministry to the Gentiles 15.8-22.

His purpose to visit Rome 15:23-3.

Final Greetings and Exhortations to Unity, Obedience and Steadfastness 16


Rome was the metropolis of the ancient world, the London of the Roman Empire. The glory of the Empire was a very real one. Her literature and civilization were of a high standard. Her empire was of a different calibre from those which preceded it.

It was the first and almost the only empire, until recent days, which aimed at turning its subjects into citizens, instead of ruling by mere force. It maintained law and order and even during the reign of bad emperors, the general government went on smoothly and well for the most part.

The letter to the Romans was written during the first five years of the reign of Nero. This was the best period of his reign and it was not until the close of the reign that state persecution of the Christians commenced. Up till then Paul found the Roman Government a help rather than a hindrance and a protection against the persecution of the Jews.

In spite, however, of the good points of the Empire at this time, the seeds of decay had been already sown and the deterioration which finally brought about her downfall, had set in. Slavery was the main source of labour, morals were fast declining and divorce was on the increase. In addition to this the taxation necessary to meet the enormous expenses of the Empire steadily made her financial foundations unstable.

As in any metropolis the vices were focalized in Rome itself. Poverty of the worst kind and excessive luxury went side by side. There was also a great deal of cruelty. Lust for excitement and desire for heroism were degraded and expended themselves in the viewing of gladiatorial shows and vile plays, in which actors actually suffered the horrors and vileness depicted (cf. Farrar's "Early Days of Christianity" — chapter 4).

It was to such a city as this that Paul could write triumphantly, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation".

The Roman Church.

There is no authentic record concerning the commencement of the church in Rome and nothing certain is known with regard to its foundation. The Roman Catholic assertion that it was founded by Peter is without any evidence and is beyond the bounds of possibility.

There is no record that Peter had even visited Rome as early as the time of Paul's epistle. It is likewise unthinkable, had Peter been at Rome, that Paul would have left him unmentioned, or that he would have written such a letter as this to a church founded by Peter.

It is equally clear that Paul did not found it as he states quite plainly that he had never visited Rome at the time the epistle was written (1:8-15, 15:23-24). The most reasonable hypothesis seems to be that Christianity was brought to Rome either by some who were converted on the day of Pentecost, or shortly after Pentecost by Christian traders or travellers from the eastern part of the Empire.

The church must have been founded quite early as it seems to have been reasonably large and flourishing when Paul wrote. All roads led to Rome; it was the centre of business as well as government and also, of course, a city of interest to be visited if possible. The church would therefore be continually increased by converts from other parts of the Empire coming to Rome for business and other reasons, as well as by new converts in the city itself.

Many Jews who had been forced to leave Rome by the edict of Claudius (Acts 18:1-2) were probably Christians before returning. Aquila and Priscilla are mentioned in chapter 16 as active workers in the church but there is not much doubt that they were Christians before being forced to leave Rome.

The whole tenor of the epistle, Paul`s claim to the apostleship to the Gentiles (15:15,16; 15,6; 11:13) and the many references to the Old Testament make it plain that the church was composed of both Jews and Gentiles.

A comparison of chapters 9-11 and Acts 28:17-28 seems to make it probable that the Gentiles were in the majority. This is also borne out by the fact that most of the names mentioned in chapter 16 appear more likely to be Gentiles. This list also shows that the church was composed of several nationalities.


This is one of the epistles upon which very little doubt is cast as to the authorship of the apostle Paul. It clearly bears his stamp and fits in well with the historical facts recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Doubt has been cast, however, on chapters 15 and 16 owing to the different position of the doxology and a variation of endings in some manuscripts.

There is no need to discuss the matter fully here. It is sufficient to say that everything points to the epistle being a complete whole as we have it and to the whole epistle coming from the hand of Paul. The variations can be attributed to two causes.

First the strong probability that the epistle came to be used as a doctrinal treatise and circulated as such round the churches. In this case the more personal parts at the close would have been omitted. Second the activities of the heretic Marcion whose objection to anything concerning the Jews or the Old Testament would have readily caused him to delete chapter 15:1-13 in his copies.

Date and Place of writting.

There is no difficulty in discovering the place from which the epistle was written or the date. The circumstances mentioned in the epistle and the record in the Acts coincide so well that there is no doubt that it was written from Corinth during three months stay there towards the end of his third missionary journey. The date, therefore, was probably the early spring of A.D. 58. The evidence for this, abbreviated from Conybeare is:-

  1. Paul had never been to Rome. ( 1:11, 13-15).
  2. He was intending to go after visiting Jerusalem (15:23-28) and this was exactly his purpose during his three months stay in Corinth. (Acts 19:21).
  3. He was going to take the collection from Macedonia and Achaia to Jerusalem (15:26-31), and this is exactly what he did do from Corinth. (Acts 24:17).
  4. Timothy, Sosipater, Gaius and Erastus were with him (16:21-23) and Acts agrees that they were with him in Corinth. (Acts 20:4).
  5. Phoebe was the bearer of the letter and she was a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae, the port of Corinth.

Occasion and Object.

There seems to have been no immediate occasion for the writing of this epistle as was the case in many of the others. There does not appear to have been a particular error or problem which, as in other cases, had grown to such serious dimensions as to have required an immediate letter. The reasons and background behind the letter seem to have been as follows:

  1. Phoebe was going to Rome, thus providing a good opportunity for sending a letter.
  2. He intended to vist Rome making it his base for fresh evangelism in Spain, and so he wanted to write and acquaint them of his purpose. He no doubt wanted the help of the Roman Christians and the letter, showing the wonder of the Gospel as it does, was probably meant as a challenge to missionary endeavour.
  3. He had long wished to visit Rome and though he was now intending to do so, he was doubtful as to the outcome of his visit to Jerusalem. He knew his foes and could not have been oblivious of the possibility of trouble. He therefore felt that he must at least write.
  4. It was now nearly twenty five years since he had first met Christ on the Damascus Road and the whole of his life had been changed. The years were passing and he was not far off sixty. He had had many battles and conflicts and had written to individual churches about their particular errors and problems. He had also beaten out on the anvil of experience his own clear conception of the truths of Christianity, but he had never set this down systematically. This was the opportunity. The epistle is the ripened fruit of the thought and struggles of the eventful years by which it had been preceded". (Sandlay & Headla )

  5. In addition, the recent battle with the antinomianism in Corinth, where he was, and with legalism in Galatia, plus the fact of the tension between Jew and Gentile in the church at large, made him feel he wanted to put in writing his thoughts and beliefs on the question of salvation by faith and its outworking, and of the significance of Israel in history. He no doubt likewise, wanted to forestall his enemies who would seek to malign him in Rome.
  6. Though probably not stirred by any definite reports as to trouble in Rome, he had no doubt heard sufficient from Aquila and Priscilla to make him feel that a clear statement of the faith could do no harm. Also what he heard probably influenced his choice of some of the practical points especially ch. 14:1 to 15:13.


It may seem strange to anyone giving the matter thought that a letter addressed to Rome and the Western part of the Roman Empire should have been written in Greek. There is nothing strange in this, however, it is well known that for well over two centuries Greek was the predominant language of large sections of Rome and particularly of the Christian and Jewish inhabitants of the city.

Out of 38 inscriptions from the Jewish colony found in Rome during this period 30 are in Greek and only 8 in Latin. Of the first twelve bishops of Rome only three bear Latin names, We know also that one of them, Clement., wrote an epistle to the Corinthian Church in Greek. There were no Christian writers in Rome who wrote in Latin prior to 180 A.D.

As for pagan writers Juvenal and Martial, two Latin poets writing concerning the latter half of the first century both testify to the predominance of Greek. Juvenal said that Rome was being turned into a "Greek city"; and Martial regarded ignorance of Greek as a mark of rusticity.

Style and Theme.

This is the most systematic and reasoned of all Paults epistles. It is more a sermon or a treatise than a letter and the text is found in 1:16-17. The remainder of the epistle is a development and exposition of this text. Paul deals with his subject from a theological and philosophical point of view, though it must be noted that with Paul theology and philosophy are never far removed from practice.

Theory and practice are related to each other as cause to effect. The theme of the epistle is the philosophy of salvation, Gods way of salvation by faith. Scroggie puts it well when he says, "To Paul Christianity was profound philosophy, and he, under the guidance of the Spirit, handles his theme profoundly. To Paul philosophy was not the guesses of the Schools, but the Wisdom of God, and God`s wisdom exhibited in man's salvation, revealed in human history, and evidenced in Christian character.

The Apostle unfolds these aspects of Divine Philosophy in the three great divisions of this epistle; Philosophy of Salvation in chapters 1-8; Philosophy of History in chapters 9-11; and Philosophy of Conduct in chapters 12-15. The three great questions which here are answered are, "How can man be just with God? What is the significance of Israel in History? What are the practical evidences of Christian character?" These are not questions of local and transient importance, but of vital and abiding moment.

The theme, then, is Salvation by Faith, doctrinally, practically and historically. It must be noted also that salvation covers justification and sanctification. It is a mistake to make the theme justification alone. The text forms the key and all centres round the declaration in these verses.

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