Monday, September 26, 2011

The Letter to the Romans

Introduction to the Book of Romans

Written by George Goldman

The Roman letter is more formal and less personal than any other letter of Paul; nevertheless it is still a letter. It is not a thesis or a treatise (Rom. 16:22).

Paul wrote the letter because he was “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:13; 15:16). Rome was the capital of the Gentile world. Paul, the Roman citizen, was free to travel throughout the Empire. He established Gentile churches in strategic centers. He worked in major cities. He worked in major cities. However, the church in Rome already existed, but it is not known who founded the church in Rome.

The heart of the Roman letter is justification by faith (Rom. 3:21 – 8:39). In the Greek New Testament the word justification means “to set right.” It is a reversal of God’s attitude toward the sinner. The sinner is declared righteous. This declaration and change of attitude are made possible because of what Jesus Christ has done and not because of what the sinner has done. The sinner has to obey the Lord, (Rom. 1:5, 16:26), but this obedience gives no room for boasting. The foundation of justification is built on Christ’s merit and not man’s merit.

The problem addressed in the roman letter is why the prepared people, the Jews, rejected the Savior (Rom. 9 – 11). Paul offers himself as “exhibit A.” God did not reject the Jews but vice versa. Yet any Jew now desiring salvation in Christ would be accepted. The term “fitted for destruction” (Rom. 9:22) can be taken as middle voice in Greek. The middle voice represents the subject as acting in some way that concerns itself. Thus the translation would be, “God . . . has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath which have fitted themselves for destruction” (Rom. 9:22). The expression “all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:26) is best interpreted in light of other scripture referring to spiritual Israel (Rom. 2:28f; Gal. 6:16).

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