Systematic Theology finds its most eloquent and profound expression here in the Book of Romans in Paul’s unfolding of the gospel of the righteousness of God. This is truly a universal message for all people for all time.
We have a difficult time comprehending the huge barriers that divided Jew and Gentile in Paul’s day – although these barriers pale in comparison to the great divide between a holy God and unreconciled sinners. The power of the gospel is exhibited in both the reconciliation accomplished between God and man as well as the fellowship in the gospel that resulted between Jews and Gentiles uniting in one body in Christ.
Instead of Boasting About Prideful Distinctions, All Believers (Jew and Gentile) Need to Unite in Promoting the Worldwide Message of the Gospel Which Reveals the Righteousness of God
Romans 1:16-18 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’”
I. (1:1-15) INTRODUCTION — GOD’S CALLING COMPELS ALL BELIEVERS TO JOIN HANDS IN PROMOTING THE GOSPEL WORLDWIDE
A. (:1-7) God’s Call Promotes Gospel Ministry –
7 Essentials of God’s Call for the Apostle Paul (and for Your Life)
B. (:8-15) Fulfilling God’s Calling –
Compels Us to Reach Out to Others to Produce Abundant Gospel Fruit
(:16-17) THEME VERSES: BOASTING IN GOSPEL CLOUT –
THE EFFICACY OF THE GOSPEL INSPIRES BOLDNESS IN PROCLAMATION –
A. (:16) Because the Gospel Saves –
Power of God unto Salvation to Everyone Who Believes (Both Jew and Gentile)
B. (:17) Because the Gospel Reveals –
the Righteousness of God that is Appropriated by Faith Alone
II. (1:18 – 3:20) THERE IS NO ROOM FOR BOASTING (ON THE PART OF JEW OR
GENTILE) BECAUSE THE GOSPEL REVEALS THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IN
CONDEMNING ALL BECAUSE ALL HAVE SINNED
A. (1:18-23) No Excuses for Rejecting God’s Truth –
Rejecting What We Naturally Know about God Leaves Us without Excuse and Always Brings God’s Wrath
B. (1:24-32) The Downward Spiral to Total Depravity and Disintegration of Society –
A Society that Abandons Truth (Their Knowledge about God) Is in Danger of Being Abandoned by God to Gross Sin and Immorality
C. (2:1-16) Good Is Never Good Enough . . . Jewishness Provides No Free Pass —
Hypocritical Humanity (Religious Moralizers) Cannot Escape God’s Impartial Righteous Judgment
D. (2:17-29) Religion Never Saved a Soul – Jews Not Exempt from Condemnation – Exposing False Religious Security –
Even the Most Religious Person (Devout Jew) Cannot Escape God’s Righteous Judgment – True Spirituality Is Much More than Possessing Religious Privileges and Practicing Religious Rituals
E. (3:1-8) The Faithful Righteous Judge –
God’s Condemnation of All Men (Even the Most Religious) Does Not Contradict:
– The Value of Spiritual Privileges Or
– The Consistency of God’s Own Character (His Faithfulness and Justice)
F. (3:9-20) Testimony of Scripture – Guilty as Charged –
The Conclusion: Universal Corruption Leaves All Men without Excuse before
III. (3:21 – 4:25) THERE IS NO ROOM FOR BOASTING BECAUSE GOD’S ONLY PLAN OF SALVATION THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAS BEEN JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH APART FROM WORKS
A. (3:21-31) The Guts of the Gospel –
God Manifests his Righteousness in Paying the Price to Justify Sinners by Grace
B. (4:1-17a) OT Roots to NT Truth – Sola Fide –
Justification by Faith apart from Works Has Always Been God’s Universal Plan of Salvation – The OT Example of Abraham
C. (4:17b-25) Real Faith: OT Example and NT Application –
Receiving God’s Promised Blessing Has Always Required Real Faith – the Kind of Faith that Looks beyond Natural obstacles to Find Assurance in God’s Power and Faithfulness
IV. (5:1 – 8:39) THERE IS NO ROOM FOR INSECURITY BECAUSE THE RESULTS OF JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH APPLY TO ALL BELIEVERS
A. (5:1-21) Confidence and Assurance for All Believers
B. (6:1-23) Freedom from the Dominion of Sin to Now Serve Righteousness
C. (7:1-25) Freedom from the Dominion of the Law and a New Life in Christ
D. (8:1-39) Freedom from the Dominion of Death and the Sure Hope of Glory
V. (9:1 – 11:36) THERE IS NO ROOM FOR BOASTING BECAUSE GOD’S GREAT PLAN OF SALVATION UNFOLDED THROUGHOUT THE AGES DISPLAYS HIS SOVEREIGN GRACE AND JUDGMENT TO BOTH JEWS AND GENTILES
A. (9:1-33) Israel’s Past Election – Emphasis on God’s Sovereignty
B. (10:1-21) Israel’s Present Rejection – Emphasis on Man’s Responsibility
C. (11:1-32) Israel’s Future Reception – Emphasis on God’s Faithfulness and Mercy
(11:33-36) Theology Bursts Forth in Doxology – To God Be the Glory!
God’s Great Plan of Salvation Deserves our Praise Because It Glorifies God’s Inscrutability, Autonomy and Sovereignty
VI. (12:1 – 15:13) ALL BELIEVERS MUST HUMBLY SERVE GOD TOGETHER AND
LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS MEMBERS OF THE ONE BODY OF CHRIST IN ORDER
TO PROMOTE THE WORLDWIDE MESSAGE OF THE GOSPEL
A. (12:1-8) Dedicated Service in Unity through Diversity –
We Are Called to Serve God through Serving in His Body
B. (12:9-21) Divinely Commanded Love
C. (13:1-7) Submission to Divinely Appointed Civil Authority –
We Are to Serve God by Submitting to Civil Government which Uses Its Delegated Power to Promote Good and Restrain Evil
D. (13:8-14) Love Must Be the Essence of Christian Conduct Since Christ Will Soon Return – We Are to Serve God By Loving One Another While We Still Have Opportunity
E. (14:1-23) Love Means Accepting All Brethren while Restricting Personal Liberty
F. (15:1-13) Spiritual Superglue
VII. (15:14 – 16:27) CLOSING GREETINGS/WARNINGS — FELLOWSHIP IN THE LORD BINDS BELIEVERS TOGETHER IN PROMOTING THE GOSPEL WORLDWIDE WHILE GUARDING AGAINST ATTACK AND DECEPTION
A. (15:14-21) Paul’s Mission and Travel Plans
B. (16:1-16) Commendation and Multiple Greetings
C. (16:17-23) Closing Warning and Final Greetings
(16:25-27) Final Doxology of Celebration of God’s Glory
WHY STUDY THIS BOOK?
• This is the closest the NT writers come to presenting any kind of systematic theology. The topics of Justification, Sanctification and Glorification are covered in depth and related back to the revelation of the righteousness of God.
• If you are going to share the “Romans Road” with unbelievers, you should take time to soak in the scenery and not just touch on the mountainpeaks!
• Romans provides the answer to any lingering spirit of racial prejudice or even denominational pride that detracts from our basic unity in Christ.
• A deeper understanding of God’s great plan of salvation and of His impending wrath upon unbelievers should further motivate us to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth.
• Any foundational understanding of the sovereignty of God must be anchored in the truths of this book – especially the pivotal chapter 9.
• Romans guides us into freedom from bondage to sin and the law to live the type of practical Christianity that is summed up in the commandment to love. The teaching of total depravity is eclipsed by the tone of triumphant hope by virtue of our union with Christ.
David Malick: Paul as an apostle to the Gentiles boldly writes the Romans to consider the Lord’s gracious provision of righteousness for all men, in spite of Israel’s unbelief, so that they might better love one another in the assembly (including the weak and strong) as well as all men (including mankind in general and the state) and thereby bring honor to God.
Professor Findlay (quoted by J. Sidlow Baxter): This is St. Paul’s magnum opus. Here we see him at his greatest as a constructive thinker and theologian. The Epistle to theRomans is the ocmplete and mature expression of the apostle’s main doctrines, which it unfolds in due order and proportion and combines into an organic whole. For the purposes of systematic theology it is the most important book in the Bible. More than any other, it has determined the course of Christian thought.”
Luther: The chief book of the New Testament . . . It deserves to be known by heart, word for word, by every Christian.
John Murray: The epistle to the Romans is God’s Word. Its theme is the gospel of his grace, and the gospel bespeaks the marvels of his condescension and love. If we are not overwhelmed by the glory of that gospel and ushered into the holy of holies of God’s presence, we have missed the grand purpose of this sacred deposit.
James A. Stifler: The Peculiarities of the epistle demand attention. The first that strikes one is its world-wide view – its universalism. In all time and in all nations men are sinners. . . The Eloquence of the epistle cannot be overlooked. . . The whole epistle is marked by a sustained elevation of thought and sentiments. This universalism and eloquence befit an epistle to the world’s capital — an epistle that deals with the world’s destiny through its two divisions of men, Jew and Gentile. . . The epistle is the masterpiece of the apostle, in which the Gospel in its strictest sense is methodically unfolded and shown in its widest connection. All men, Jew and Gentile, are lost, “being justified freely by his [God’s] grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (3:24).