Epistle to Romans - A Study of God's Righteousness (Messianic Literary Corner) - Messianic Literary Corner

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Epistle to the Romans - God's Righteousness
Mosaic of the Apostle Paul

The  central theme of Romans is the revelation of the righteousness of God  to man, and its application to one's spiritual need. Its theme is thus  basic to all the believer's experience , for man cannot do business with  God until a proper approach has been established. The epistle is  directed primarily to Gentiles, but also addresses Jewish believers.
Paul  sketched the religious history of the Gentile world as the prelude to  revelation (1:18-32); he asserted that God's salvation is for "Gentiles  also" (3:29) and that there is "no distinction" between Jew and Greek in  the way of faith. Romans asserts that salvation is universal in its  scope. The development of this theme of the righteousness of God can  best be seen in the outline.

In  preparation for Paul’s next step in his missionary enterprise, he wrote  the Epistle to the Romans. It was sent from Corinth, which is the  traditional view, or from Philippi, just prior to sailing for Troas.  Paul stated in its closing chapters that he had concluded his preaching  as far as Illyricum (Rom. 15:19), that he had in hand the offering  which the churches of Macedonia and Achaia had taken for the poor at  Jerusalem (15:2-5), and that he was on the eve of sailing to Jerusalem  to deliver it (15:25). He expected that his presence in Judea might not  be well received by some, but he intended to return shortly in order to  visit Rome, and even to go to Spain (15:24,28,32). Granting that Romans  16 is an integral part of the epistle, it was sent to Rome bv Phoebe, a  deaconess of the church of Cenchrea, who was traveling in that direction  (16:1). Paul had numerous friends at Rome. He had tried frequently to  visit them, but had been hindered (15:22, 1:13) on each occasion. The  church could not have been a large one and probably it consisted chiefly  of Gentiies, since in addressing them he classed them as Gentiles  (1:13), and since the later account of his visit to Rome as given by  Acts indicates ignorance concerning the gospel on the part of the Jews.  They had heard of the movement, but had not investigated it for  themselves, nor had any others reported to them about it (Acts 28:21).  The Gentile church of Rome had in it a small minority of Jews at the  most; and the Jews who lived in Rome, having come to the city since the  expulsion under Claudius, had not made the acquaintance of those who  were in the church.

No hint is given in Romans that Peter had  anything to do with the founding of this church. It seems to have been  one that began spontaneously among believers, the majority of whom had  probably migrated to Rome from other parts of the world. Paul had  several reasons for being interested in this church. His desire to see  the imperial city, the need of the believers for instruction, his wish  to forestall any Judaizing activity in a group of great potential  importance, and his hope of support from them as he undertook a tour to  Spain (Rom. 15:24) - all contributed to his resolve to spend some time  with them. Romans was written as a substitute for immediate personal  contact and as preparatory for making the Roman church a missionary  center comparable to Antioch, Ephesus, Philippi, and the other cities  where Paul had labored. Romans, therefore, unlike Corinthians, is not  devoted so much to, the correction of errors as to the teaching of  truth. Although it does not comprise all the fields of Christian  thought, it does give a fuller and more systematic view of the heart of  Christianity more than any other of Paul's epistles, with the possible  exception of Ephesians. Most of the Pauline epistles are controversial  or corrective in nature; Romans is chiefly didactic.


I. Introduction 1:1-17
Salutation 1:1-7
Author 1:1-5
Destination 1:6,7a
Greeting 1:7b
Occasion 1:8-15
Theme 1:16,17

II. The Need of Divine Righteousness 1:18-3:20
The Decline of the Gentile World 1:18-32
The Doom of the Critic 2:1-16
The Dilemma of the Jew 2:17-3:8
The Universal Condemnation 3:9-20

III. The Manifestation of Divine Righteousness 3:21-8:39
The Medium of Righteousness: Faith 3:21-31
The Basis of Righteousness: Promise 4:1-25
The Attainment of Righteousness 5:1-21
The Aspects of Practical Righteousness 6:1-7:25
The Results of Righteousness: Life in the Spirit 8:1-39

IV. The Relation of Righteousness to the Jew 9:1-11:36
The Election of Israel 9:1-33
The Salvation of Israel 10:1-21
The Failure of Israel 11:1-24
The Future Salvation of Israel 11:25-32

V. The Application of Righteousness 12:1-15:13
Call to Consecration 12:1, 2
The Use of Gifts 12:3-8
Personal Relationships 12:9-21
Political Relationships 13:1-7
Public Relationships 13:8-14
Fraternal Relationships 14:1-15:13

VI. Conclusion 15:14-33
Personal Plans 15:14-29
Request for Prayer 15:30-33
VII. Postscript 16:1-27
Greetings 16:1-24
Benediction 16:25-27


Romans  has long been the mainstay of Christian theology and should be also for  Messianic Jews (Hebrew Christians). Most of its technical terms, such  as justification, imputation, adoption, and sanctification, are drawn  from the vocabulary of this epistle, and the structure of its argument  provides the backbone of Christian thought. Its logical method is  obvious. First, the theme is announced: ". . . the gospel ... is the  power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (1:16). The  need for that power is shown by the fall of the world, Jew and Gentile  alike, so that "there is none righteous, no not one" (3:10). If, then,  all are helpless and condemned, relief must come from without by  providing for them both a legal and a personal righteousness. This is  found in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus), "whom God set forth to be &  propitiation, through faith, in his blood, to show his righteousness  because of the pausing over of the sins done aforetime" (3:25). Since  the sinner cannot earn his salvation, this righteousness must be  accepted by faith. Individually and racially man is restored to his  right position before God through the grace manifested in Yeshua.

Chapters  6 through 8 deal with the personal problems that rise out of the new  spiritual relationships. "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may  abound?" (6:1). "Shall we sin, because we are not under law, bur under  grace?" (6:15). "Is the law sin?" (7:7). "Who shall deliver me out of  the body of this death?" (7:24). All these questions are answered by the  description of the personal life in the Spirit given in chapter 8.

The  section comprising chapters 9 through 11 deals with a broader question.  Has God, by instituting salvation for all by faith, Invalidated the  covenant; with Israel which was established through the law? Paul said  "By no means." (11:1). Paul also reaffirms Hebrew prophecy when he  states that there will come a time when the Gentiles' opportunity "will  close (11:25), and then all of Israel shall enter into their heritage."  The present dealing of God with Gentiles is neither arbitrary nor  accidental, but is in full accordance with the divine plan. The  practical section of Romans makes close ethical application of the  salvation described in the first eleven chapters. The redeemed  individual is obligated to live a righteous life: "whether we live . .  or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Yeshua died and lived again,  that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living" (14:8,9).

The  conclusion (15:14-33) expresses Paul's own sense of debt to Yeshua for  making known the gospel "not where Christ was already named" (15:20). He  translated the obligation of the gospel of righteousness into  missionary terms. Romans is a superb example of the integration of  doctrine with missionary purpose. Had Paul not believed that men were  lost and that God had provided a righteousness for them, he would not  have been a missionary. Had he not been an active missionary, he never  would have formulated so systematic a presentation of truth as Romans.  It illustrates what he did when he "established" the converts in his  churches.
(This study has been adapted from "New Testament Survey", by Merrill C. Tenney, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois)
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