Overview of Romans

Romans is a great book for the new Christian convert to read through. Paul explains the meaning of our salvation and what God expects from us now. The book of Romans can be organized into five simple parts:

  • First, Paul covers the problem of sin and our unrighteousness (1-3).
  • Next, he speaks about the provision made for those who desire to be righteous—God’s salvation (4-5).
  • Third, Paul talks about pursuing righteousness with all our might (6-8).
  • Fourth, he explains the selection of God, choosing the humble of the world to respond to His gospel call (9-11).
  • Finally, Paul concludes with the practices of righteousness—loving one another, giving, showing mercy, and doing good to our enemies (12-16).

One of the major themes is the call of the gospel. Paul begins his message to the Romans by defining what the gospel can do for all: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (1:16-17).

The gospel has the power to save those lost in sin. The gospel first saved many of the Jews in Acts 2 when they responded to the gospel message. That message? That we can repent, call on the name of the Lord through baptism, and be saved. The gospel message reached the Greeks, or Gentiles, in Acts 10. Cornelius’ family were the first Gentiles to hear the gospel and respond to its call. The gospel of Christ leads us into the mighty power of God to save us from our sins.

Who needs the gospel? Everyone who needs to be saved. Who needs to be saved? Everyone who is in sin. Sin causes the wrath of God to come down upon us. Chapter 1 ends with Paul defining sins of which we humans have been guilty: from murders to lies, from backbiting to those that are disobedient to their parents. At the end of the list, Paul says, “…those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (1:31). Spiritual and eternal death are awaiting those who have sinned. Paul even goes as far as to say that we are condemned not just for practicing sin, but approving of it as well.

Then who has been guilty of sin and deserves God’s wrath? Everyone, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23). Everyone deserves God’s wrath and eternal death because we have all made the choice to sin. We would be without hope if it were not for the grace of God.

In our hopeless, sinful state, the gospel has been proclaimed to us. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we still sinners, Christ died for us” (5:8). The gospel is the good news that Christ carried out a plan that cost Him greatly, and He did it to save men and women from their sins. We must respond to the gospel because it is the saving power of God. We must obey the gospel and be delivered from the coming doom for those still in sin. As Christians, we must now pursue righteousness and be transformed daily into something better than we were yesterday (12:1-2).

–Andrew Smith