Romans: The Explanation of God’s Righteousness

The righteous will live by faith.  Romans 1:17

The book of Romans is a theological treatise as well as a letter.  It carefully explains the dynamic nature of God’s righteousness.  Israel has futilely sought righteousness through a Mosaic law, whose purpose is misunderstood.

But now the righteousness has been made available to all through faith in Jesus Christ.  This foundational epistle is perhaps the most basic exposition of Christianity in the NT.

Date and Author:  The letter was written by the apostle Paul, from Corinth, probably about A.D. 57, toward the end of Paul’s missionary work in Asia Minor and Greece.

It came nearly a decade after the Jerusalem council (Acts 15) affirmed the principle that the law of Moses was not binding on Gentile believers.  During this period Paul had come to understand clearly the answer to the great question raised by that decision:  How can a Christian be free from the law, and not released from the righteousness the law expresses?

Church at Rome

From the 2nd century B.C., Rome had a Jewish colony, a large, powerful and influential people. The Jewish community was expelled from Rome several times.  (Claudis’ edict in A.D. 49, Acts 18:2).  Aquila and Priscilla was already believers at this time.

In A.D. 57, when Paul wrote, there was a large Christian community, and the report of their faith was “proclaimed in all the world.”

In A.D. 64, the first great persecution, under Nero, struck the church at Rome.  It was only seven years after this letter had been sent to them by Paul.  Pagan historians of the period tell of the torture and execution of “a huge multitude” of Christian martyrs.  The gospel of God had been heard and believed in the very center of the empire.


The theme of Romans is clearly stated in Paul’s introduction to his letter.  “In the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written:  “The righteous will live by faith.” 1:17.   Reading Romans, we gain vivid impression of the vital new life which God gives us in Christ:  a life infused by the gift of righteousness which is from God.

Romans is one of the most highly valued of the books in our Bible.  It was through Romans that the monk, Martin Luther, rediscovered the great truth of justification by faith, and began the Reformation which reshaped much of the Western World.

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