The first Chronicle in this series on the Scripture’s 45th book, Romans, will provide an overview. It will give the structure (how the material is arranged), thought flow (common theme that connects the book as a whole) and purpose of the writer (what truth he is proving by his verses). This will help us to know what God is communicating and preserve us from proof texting (borrowing a phrase to prove our own particular thinking).
Rom. 1:1 Paul … separated unto the gospel of God.
The main subject is the gospel of God. Romans gives us an exposition of the doctrine of God’s gospel. But the Lord’s apostle is doing more than just telling how a sinner is justified (declared just or righteous) before God. He also shows how God is justified in His gospel.
Rom. 1:17 For therein [the gospel] is the righteousness of God revealed … .”
This gospel reveals the very righteousness or justice (fairness) of God’s character and therefore Paul is not ashamed of it. The God Paul is presenting has no contradiction in His character. While God’s gospel offers grace and mercy, it does not do so at the expense of violating the rule of righteous law and holiness. The God of this gospel is full of grace and truth.
Therefore, in Romans you will see these statements:
Rom. 3:3 Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance?
Rom. 3:25 To declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past … .
Rom. 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Notice, not only does God justify but also He is declared just).
Rom. 9:14 Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
Thus in presenting the righteousness of God, the following questions will be answered in Romans.
(1:19-32) Why are societies depraved in their life-style with disease, death and destruction? Is it because God hasn’t revealed Himself nor His moral code to them – or – is it because He has and they knowingly walked away?
(1:19 – 2:16) Will God judge those who are ignorant of His existence and morality? Is judgment fair if one was never told something was wrong? But if one is not ignorant and sins anyway, does justice now necessitate righteous punishment?
(2:17 – 3:19) Do races with a moral religion have a more favorable standing with God than races without a good religion? Is it only the Gentile nations (non Jew without the law of the Bible) that need God’s salvation – or – do the Jews (people with the law of the Bible) need to be saved also? Is the gospel prejudiced or equal?
(3:20-26) Will God show mercy without justice? Is it justice to have mercy while ignoring the just penalty of the law that was broken?
(3:27-31) If God saves by a percentage of law (good works) one does, would that uphold the perfect justice of the law? Does saving one on the basis of faith alone (in the gospel of Christ) uphold the demands of the justice of law?
(4-5) Did God have a different way of saving His Old Testament people? Is He unfair?
(6:1-13) Does saving a sinner by grace alone (unearned and undeserved favor) promote sin? Does God’s gospel encourage continuing in sin in order to demonstrate His rich forgiving grace – or – does His grace-gospel provide the basis for not continuing in sin?
(6:14 – 8:39) Doesn’t taking one out from under the rule of law say that the law is actually sin and bad? Does being under grace and not law promote sin and defame the law -or – does it actually produce the very righteousness of the law in one’s life?
(9 – 11:24) Since God’s elect people in the Old Testament, Israel, is not saved, does that prove that God has broken His promises? Is the fall of Israel God’s fault or theirs? Is God unrighteous or Israel? Does man have a responsibility to come on God’s terms? Is he accountable when he doesn’t – or – is God?
(11:25-36) Can God’s gospel be trusted as true if there is no future for the nation of Israel? If all the eternal and unconditional promises in the Old Testament to Israel concerning their existence, land and kingdom will not be kept, is God trustworthy today in His gospel? Or is God going to keep those promises of old to national Israel through His gospel?
(12-16) Does this gospel promote love to your neighbor and obedience to government? Is it concerned only with the soul and not the actions of the body? Is it a Christian political manifesto that advocates the overthrow of man’s government – or – does it uphold earthly authority?
It is a positive thing that God is a legal God. One is not subjected to the whims and moods of a ruthless dictator but finds security of mind in the faithful and predictable actions of God based on legal justice.
The book of Romans has four major movements of thought as it progresses in revealing “the righteousness of God” in the gospel as it ‘justifies God’ (Luke 7:29).
It is recognized that the Holy Spirit of God may have within this book other flows of thought running concurrently and hence other overview outlines may be perfectly valid. Nevertheless, the following table will be used as a tool in these studies. The introduction of the gospel’s nature and four movements are as follows:
|1:1||ORIGIN OF GOSPEL – not the culture, churches or Christians, but God|
|1:2||AUTHENTICITY – not some new thing, but verified and promised in OT Scriptures with its hundreds of fulfilled prophecies|
|1:3,4||SUBJECT – God’s Son, Jesus the Christ who is a man from David’s kingly line and also God – proven such by the resurrection|
|1:5||OBJECTIVE – for the obedience of faith|
|1:5||SCOPE – “among all nations” – not just Israel but multiracial|
|1:5||PURPOSE – “for His Name” – to reveal God and His glory to mankind|
|1:7||CAUSE – “grace” – not what man does for God but what God does for man|
|1:7||EFFECT – “peace” – the absence of estrangement and anger|
|1:16||FORCE – “power of God” – not money, religion or politics|
|1:16||PROMISE – “salvation” – saved from the punishment of sin (past, His death) – saved from the power of sin in a life (present, His Spirit) – saved from the presence of sin in our bodies (future, His coming)|
|1:16||CONDITION – trust alone in the Lord Jesus|
|1:16||ORDER – to the Jew first (honoring them for their national service to God for which they were chosen) and then the Greek (non Jew)|
|1:17||CHARACTER– “righteousness of God” – not based on changing feelings but legal justice|
The Righteousness of God Declared
Not justified by law – but law established (3:28,31)
(Chapters 1:17 – 5:11)
Romans 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
SAVED FROM WRATH
A. God’s righteousness in wrath (1:18-32)
- revealed only against sin
- only against those who sin knowingly
- societies corrupt because they walked away first
B. God’s righteousness in judgment (1:19-3:19)
- Gentiles are not ignorant – witness of creation
- Gentiles are not ignorant – witness of conscience
- Jews are not innocent- witness of law they broke
- All mankind thus guilty of sin for no one is innocent for no one is ignorant – Condemnation
C. God’s righteousness in salvation (3:20-26)
- Penalty of lawbreaking (sin) is required for God’s mercy won’t bypass the penalty of death
- Justice of death is laid on God’s Son for us
- The right payment for sin (death-blood) was given to God by the Lord Jesus – Redemption
- God’s wrath is thus propitiated (satisfied)
- God can now justify by faith (grace) for legal justice has been fully honored – Justification
- God not only justifies – but also is Himself just
D. God’s righteousness in faith (3:27-5:11)
- Saving by faith alone excludes human boasting
- Faith alone excludes discrimination of one’s race and religious works over another’s
- Faith excludes injustice for saving by law-keeping must overlook the laws one didn’t keep
- Abraham promised to be father of all. If by Jewish law, all could not get the promise, but if by faith, like Abraham, all can have it!
- The justified are saved from wrath – Salvation
Ends with LOVE demonstrated, Christ died (5:8)
The Righteousness of God Developed in the Mind
“Not under the law” – but – “righteousness
of the law” fulfilled in Spirit led life (6:14, 8:4)
(Chapters 5:12 – 8:39)
Romans 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
SAVED FROM WRECKAGE OF SIN
A. The two family trees (5:12-21)
- In Adam = sin & death / In Christ = life
- Not just what one does is wrong but what one is
B. The two lives (6:1-14) – Sanctification
- Why doesn’t grace promote continuing in sin?
- Death of Christ separates from old man (Adam)
- Resurrection of Christ unites to new life (God)
- Reason obeys the One with whom you’re united
C. The two masters (6:15-23)
- Sin demands service to sin. Results = death
- Righteousness expects service to holiness = life
- Believer freed from master sin – now under God
D. The two husbands (7:1-6)
- Legally separated from husband of law by death
- Legally united to husband of Christ by resurrection – thus under new authority and principle
E. The two natures (7:7-25)
- God’s holy law is not sinful but we are
- New inward man delights in doing law (good)
- Law reveals principle of sin still living in us
- New mind serves God – but flesh still serves sin
F. The two laws (8:1-4)
- Law (principle) of Spirit of life in Christ Jesus frees believer from the law of sin and death
- Walking in Spirit fulfills righteousness of law
G. The two minds (8:5-39)
- Mind of flesh = death / Mind of Spirit = life
- Spirit gives dead body life – Glorification
Ends with LOVE in Christ Jesus our Lord (8:39)
The Righteousness of God Defended in His Dispensational Dealings with Israel and the Gentiles
“Christ is the end of the law for righteousness …” (10:4)
(Chapters 9 – 11)
Romans 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
SAVED FROM DOUBTING GOD
A. The Forming of Israel (9:1-29)
- The problem – Is God unrighteous because His people, Israel, are now separated – not saved?
- Israel’s formation was by God’s election
- God made unconditional promises to fathers – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – Election
- God did not form nation by their works but by His promise – “election of grace,” not works
- God has creative rights to choose as He pleases
- God has chosen to save by mercy, not works
B. The Fall of Israel (9:30-11:24)
- Gentiles are being declared righteous by faith
- Israel in following law is not declared righteous
- Why? Israel, though zealous of God, will not submit to God’s choice in saving people – faith
- Israel has both heard the gospel and knew it
- Thus she’s been cut off from God’s blessing tree
- For Israel’s fall was Israel’s fault – not God’s
- For 40 years (Acts) “all day long” she rejected God’s gospel arms – “would I” said the Lord, but “ye would not” (Matt. 27:37)
C. The Future of Israel (11:25-11:36)
- Because of the unconditional promises to the fathers, God cannot cast national Israel away forever – so “all Israel shall be saved”
- If there’s no national salvation then God is not righteous – and His gospel is not right
- Israel will be saved by mercy not law – as all!
Ends with riches of the WISDOM of God (11:33)
The Righteousness of God Demonstrated by Body Actions
“Love is the fulfilling of the law” (13:10)
(Chapters 12 – 16)
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
SAVED FROM WRONG THINKING
A 12:1 Right actions to God first – Consecration
B 12:2,3 Renewed mind – for you do as you think
C 12:4-16 Right actions to body of Christ
D 12:17-21 Right actions to our enemies
E 13:1-7 Right actions to our government
F 13:8-14 Right actions to our neighbors
G 14 Right actions for maintaining unity of faith
H 15 Unity in action as demonstrated by Paul
I 16 Church in House not Jew in temple
Ends, “to only WISE God be glory” (16:27)
In Exodus we find a picture of the gospel and its four movements in Romans.
1. 1-12 Israel in land of the judgment of God (death). Saved from judgment by lamb’s blood.
2. 13-15 Israel under enemy’s power. Freed to serve God by His power over enemy at Red Sea.
3. 16-18 Moses rehearses God’s faithful dealings with Israel – causes a Gentile to glorify God.
4. 19-24 Code of conduct is given for living.