The epistle to the Romans is the 45th book of the Bible and it is the first one that was written directly to Gentiles by the apostle to the Gentiles (Rom 11:13). Without the book of Acts demonstrating God’s transition away from Israel to Paul’s special ministry among the Gentiles, how strange it would be to go from the Gospel records right into an epistle to the Romans from an apostle with a Gentile name.
The apostle Paul wrote this epistle around 60 AD, from Corinth, during his three month stay in Greece, after his departure from Ephesus (Acts 20:1-3). It was not his first inspired epistle, but it is placed first in order because it is the foundational book of doctrine for the dispensation of the grace of God. In Romans, we learn that we are crucified, buried, and risen with Christ. The mystery of the Body of Christ is alluded to but not explained (Rom 12:4-5). The end of Romans sets us up for the next great doctrinal book of Ephesians in which we learn that we are ascended up and seated with Christ in heavenly places.
I. Introduction (1:1-17)
II. Condemnation (1:18-3:20) — the whole world is guilty
III. Justification (3:21-5:21) — justification by the faith of Christ
IV. Identification (6-8) — believers are spiritually identified with Christ
V. Dispensation (9-11) — Israel is temporarily set aside
VI. Application (12-15) — practical application of the doctrine in chapters 1-8
VII. Conclusion (16)
The book of Romans reveals great doctrines such as salvation, redemption, justification, imputation, propitiation, sanctification, identification, predestination, adoption, and glorification. All of this and more is offered freely by the grace of God to all sinners everywhere on the basis of the perfect cross-work and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Every believer must be grounded in these great doctrines.
The doctrine of this epistle answers the ancient question, “How can man be just with God?” (Job 9:2). The theme of Romans is stated in Rom 1:16-17. Legalists hate the message of salvation by grace through faith plus nothing. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel Christ revealed to him (Gal 1:11-12) even though he was slandered for preaching it (Rom 3:8). The book of Romans systematically and logically explains how the righteous God can justify (to declare righteous) unrighteous sinners by faith alone (Rom 3:9-28).