The Introduction to Romans may be found here.

The Outline to the entire book may be found here.

A prayer to use before reading Scripture,  A prayer of John Calvin:
May the Lord grant that we may engage in the heavenly contemplation of the mysteries of God’s heavenly wisdom with ever increasing devotion to God’s glory and our edification. Amen.

I. Romans 1:1-4:25 The Faithfulness of God

A: 1:1-17 Opening Statement of Theme:God’s Gospel and God’s Righteousness

1:1-7 God’s Gospel and Paul’s Ministry: Paul expands the conventional opening with a statement of faith and a statement about Paul’s calling. Some translations may have either “slave” or “servant” in verse 1. Some commentators believe “slave” is the preferred translation and verse 1 would better read, “Paul a slave of Messiah Jesus..” recognizing that the Messiah is the anointed king of Israel.

1:8-15 Paul’s Desire to Come to Rome: As is normal for ancient letters, Paul offers thanksgiving for the readers.

1:16-17 The Gospel Unveils God’s Righteousness: This is the theme of the letter, Paul’s thesis statement. To be “ashamed” in the Septuagint was not about personal feelings but rather was concerned with a hope that had been misplaced or an expectation that had been a disappointment. So here, Paul is expressing his confidence in the gospel. The gospel is the power of God, not that the gospel has the power of God but it is the power of God. The “righteousness of God” is both a quality of God (God is just) and also an activity of  God. Salvation in the first century, while including what happens to people after they die, also includes God’s defeat of God’s enemies on earth and the setting of the world right. And salvation is for everyone, Jew and Gentile.

Verse 17, In it- the gospel-Jesus- God’s righteousness is revealed.  Now people can know, can understand what God has been doing. The phrase “through faith for faith” is difficult for modern readers to understand. It could mean something like “completely by faith”  or “by faith from first to last” (NIV). It might mean that “God’s righteousness is revealed out of the faith of Jesus and leads to the faith of Christians.” ( Johnson, 347). It might mean “from God’s faithfulness to human faithfulness” (Wright, 425). Paul ends verse 17 by quoting Habakkuk 2:4. Paul’s quote does not exactly match either the Hebrew Bible or the Septuagint versions. “The one” may be either Jesus or the believer. Paul may be deliberately vague.

B. 1:18-3:20 The Challenge for God’s Righteousness: Gentiles and Jews Alike Under God’s Wrath, Guilty of Idolatry and Wickedness In good Greco Roman diatribe style, Paul follows his thesis statement (v16-17) with an antithesis (1:18-3:20) where he shows the need for the thesis.

1:18-32 Idolatry and Dehumanized Behavior Resulting in God’s Wrath: “Wrath”  is not a term describing emotion. But “wrath” has to do with God’s impartial and just judgement, the righting of wrongs done to God’s creation as a result of human kinds willful rejection. The word “wickedness” in v 18 is not simply evil but also injustice. So Paul contrasts God’s justice with human injustice. Three times the phrase “God gave them up” is used, implying God allows consequences to actions.

2:1-16 God’s Impartial Judgment Leaves No Room for Moral Superiority: It is presumptuous to assume we, any of us, are exempt from judgment. Everyone, all of us stand before God equally.

2:17-29 The Direct Challenge to “the Jew”: Even God’s chosen people, possessors of Torah are part of the problem.

3:1-8 Israel’s Faithlessness and God’s Faithfulness:Paul answers an anticipated questions. “Faithfulness” in verse 3 also embraces the idea of trustworthiness and loyalty as well.

3:9-20 Torah Puts Jews in the Dock Alongside Gentiles: Paul reiterates his point, both Gentiles and Jews stand equally before God.

C. 3:21-4:25 God’s Faithfulness to the Covenant Paul follows his antithesis with a restatement of the thesis (3:21-31), gives an example (4:1-25), and completes his diatribe in 5:1-21.

3:21-26 God’s Righteousness Revealed Through the Faithfulness of Jesus:Note this is the “righteousness of God” not from God. Justification, remember, includes both the idea of God’s covenantal faithfulness and the law court meaning of righteousness/justification. “Redemption” was a word used when a slave’s freedom was bought, but also recalled the Exodus experience, Passover,and the promised land”Sacrifice of atonement” calls for a variety of images and ideas. The Day of Atonement, the Maccabaean martyrs, and the suffering servant passages of Isaiah.

3:27-31 One God, One Faith, One People: “Faith” has to do with God’s trustworthiness and reliability and also the trust and reliance upon God that is a persons proper response to God’s faithfulness. “This kind of trust is not a prerequisite for a healthy relationship to God; it is that right relationship.” (Meyer,1048)

4:1-25 The Covenant Family of Abraham:Abraham was called righteous because of his faith. Righteousness was a gift from God and he was called righteous before he was circumcised. Abraham is the father of Gentiles and Jews. Torah does not make people righteous. The faith of Abraham is shared by Christians. Abraham is not merely an example of someone justified by faith, but rather the father of all of us, one family without divisions.

4:1-8 Believing the Promise:

4:9-15 Not by Circumcision, Not by Torah

4:16-17 The Whole Family, According to the Promise

4:18-22 The God Who Gives Life to the Dead

4:23-25 The Meaning of Christian Faith

II. Romans 5:1-8:39 God’s People in Christ as the True Humanity 

A. 5:1-11 From Faith to Hope:The result of justification are peace and reconciliation. The word “boast” in Paul’s time did not have the negative connotations it has for us. The word also has the sense of confidence and celebration or rejoicing (NIV).

5:1-5 Peace, Patience, and Hope

5:6-11 The Death of the Messiah and the Love of God

B. 5:12-21 From Adam to the Messiah: Grace reigns in place of sin. Our modern knowledge of evolution makes a simple, literal reading of this passage difficult. Some  believe the death of verse 12 is not just natural perishing and decay. But rather this death is a force opposed to creation, the undoing of what was created good, the pull back towards chaos. This death is the result of our turning away from the creator. We may find it more difficult than Paul and his readers to think there was one, single person through whom sin and death enter the world. It might be more helpful to think more along the lines of two kingdoms, the kingdom of sin and the kingdom of grace.

Read More About It:

Johnson, Luke Timothy, The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation, rev. ed. (Minneapolis:Fortress Press) 1999. Chapter 14 “The Letter to the Romans”.

Knox, John, John Reumann “Romans” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Bruce M. Metzger, Roland E. Murphy eds. (New York: Oxford University Press) 1994.

Meyer, Paul W. “Romans” in  HarperCollins Bible Commentary, rev. ed.James L Mays, ed. (New York: Society of Bible Literature) 2000.

Wright, N.T. “The Letter to the Romans” in The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume X, Leander E. Keck,ed. (Nashville, Abingdon Press) 2002.