What Is the Point of Romans?

The book of Romans has a rich history of being considered perhaps the most important book in the Bible.  Now, whether it is right to set such a priority of one part of Scripture above all the rest like that, there is no doubt that Romans is very rich and important.

I am inviting any of you who are interested to read the book of Romans and suggest what you think the central theme of the book is, and why.  Does that sound like an easy thing to do?  Or a daunting task?  It would be well worth your time to sit down and read the book with that question in mind.  You might be surprised at how much you learn.  To anyone interested, just leave a comment below with your thoughts about the main point of the book.  And if you know any friends who would enjoy and benefit from discussing it this way, invite them also to come and share their thoughts.  We might be able to learn a lot together!

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About amspencer1984

I am a Christian who desires to serve in God's kingdom in the best way possible. I have served as a foreign missionary in southern Mexico. I have worked as a youth minister at my local church of Grace Baptist in Dickson, TN. I have also recently begun to write books with a desire to help others grow in life. I hope that they are helpful and effective in doing that. I have been married to Alicia Spencer since 2003. We have six children and give thanks to God for all of them.
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12 Responses to What Is the Point of Romans?

  1. Sara Wright says:

    I am in the process of finihshing up Romans and I have been focusing my attention on chapter four lately, but I believe the central theme in this book is God’s righteousness, His counting our faith as righteousness, and making the effort of striving for righteousness in our lives a priority. We may not ever be perfect but we are called to walk in faith with God and to live as Christ.

    • amspencer1984 says:

      Righteousness/justification by faith is a grand theme in Romans, isn’t it? It is especially strong up through chapter 4, which you mentioned. It is the first great principle that Paul treats of.

      How do you think that theme relates to the chapters that follow after those first 4, though? Would you say that it remains the focus in chapters 5-8? 9-11? Etc.?

      • amspencer1984 says:

        By the way, Sara, what point do you think Paul is making in chapter 4 with Abraham concerning his strong emphasis upon circumcision in relation to righteousness?

  2. Stefan Gerville-Reache says:

    Hi my brothers and sisters in Christ. I would also say that the central theme of Romans is God’s Righteousness. Perhaps Romans 5-8 is the effect of God’s Righteousness in believers. Romans 9-11 would be God’s Righteousness despite the rejection of it by His people. Romans 12-15 would be how God’s righteousness works through believers so that it is witnessed by others. If Romans 2:11 states “there is no partiality with God” how can some claim that God’s predestination in Romans 8:29-30 is partial?

    • amspencer1984 says:

      Stefan, Great to hear from you here on the blog. You are looking at the book of Romans in a way that might flow well out of 1:16-17, where Paul says that the gospel is the revelation of the righteousness of God. I think it would be important to make the distinction between justification and righteousness, in one sense. Understanding righteousness is a large concept, isn’t it? Understanding just how far His righteousness reaches and how far the effects of it go in this world is an immense task.

      I see your question in the end of your post about the passage in chapter 2 and its relationship with chapter 8 and the concept of predestination. Looks like you might be interested in a rather large discussion there. But I will for now just ask you what you think about the passage in the first part of Romans 2 concerning the judgment. How do you think about what this picture of judgment looks like, especially as concerns the matter of salvation by works vs. salvation by grace. This picture of judgment looks a lot like it is focused on works, doesn’t it? How do you understand that picture?

    • amspencer1984 says:

      And I forgot to add an important phrase that would relate to what you are saying, Stefan. Have you noticed the key points at which Paul asks about whether God is righteous or unrighteous: “Is there unrighteousness with God?”, or some such statement/question. That runs throughout and appears at some key points of the book, tying some things together in that theme. It might be interesting to see what Paul is dealing with at each of those points and see if they have any consistent connection in their content.

  3. amspencer1984 says:

    Has anyone thought about the theme of the Jew and Gentile within the book of Romans? I would be interested in hearing someone’s thoughts if they would read the book with an eye towards that theme. I will venture to say that I think it is a pretty important part of the overall picture in the book of Romans.

  4. Stefan Gerville-Reache says:

    The background of Romans is very important. Correct me where I’m wrong, but I believe I few years (maybe 10) before the Apostle Paul wrote Romans the Jews were expelled from Rome (Acts 18:2) and had only recently returned to Rome (Rom 16:3). So the there was a bit of tension between Christians from the Jewish race and Gentile Christians in Rome. Nevertheless Paul cuts through their issues which has much to do with the question you asked me. It seems to me that Paul was setting the Jewish believers up in Chapter 1 because he condemns all deeds of unrighteousness that the Gentiles were known for doing, but then in Chapter 2 he’s saying anyone who judges them is just as bad because everyone practices sin. Like you mention it seems that he portrays a judgment based on works of the Law, but again he’s setting the reader up for Chapter 3 where he states “by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (v 20). I see in Rom 3:5 that question “The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous is He?” and this is an important verse to show that God will judge the world with His wrath. Only Jesus can rescue us from the wrath to come (1 Thes 1:10)

    • amspencer1984 says:

      I have my Bible open in front of me as I respond. Hopefully that means that this is a profitable discussion to have together, since it moves me to do that. You are right, Stefan, about pointing out the expulsion and return of the Jews around this time, though I can’t say I know the exact dates when that happened. That is one factor in weighing up the significance for the Romans of the issue of Jew and Gentile relations. And there are a lot of other matters as well. How about Paul’s own personal plans at the time of writing, which he describes in ch. 1 a little bit and then more in ch. 15? They focus on ministry to Jew and Gentile and his place in all of that. And his ministry as a whole was heavily defined by matters of Jew and Gentile relations in the church and the gospel salvation. Whether it be from local resistance of the Jews of the synagogue, or from false Judaizers teaching false gospel ideas in the churches of the Gentiles, or the hatred and persecution against Paul from the Jews of Jerusalem, the matter of Jew and Gentile was always heavily present in his life and ministry. Here in Romans, Paul identifies himself more than once as an “apostle of the Gentiles.”

      Within the book itself, the theme of Jew and Gentile recurs constantly, from the beginning of the book to the end. If you read the introduction of the book, you will already get a feel for his great emphasis if “Jew and Gentile.” You have already pointed out well, Stefan, how Paul directly addresses the Jew in chapter 2 concerning his equal sinfulness with all the rest of the world. Has anyone noticed how often Paul deals with the “Law” in Romans, and how significant that is throughout the whole argument? This is the Jewish Law more than anything else. It controls a lot of Paul’s thinking, actually. For example, I might ask what the point of ch. 6-8 is in Paul’s thought. There is, no doubt, an important inherent purpose to what he is explaining in those chapters concerning the Christian life, but it would be helpful perhaps to see the form of his reasoning process as he lays it out for us. I would suggest that the end of ch. 5 is important, where Paul states that “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (5:20). I think that this is the springboard that gives rise to the whole theme of chapters 6-8 (at least the first half of 8), which deals directly with this theme of the Law’s use and nature and effect.

      And what about ch. 9-11? The place of Jew and Gentile is the explicit theme of these chapters, obviously. How does this relate to the “gospel” as we think about it. I would argue that it is more than an “afterthought” or necessary implication of the gospel, but is actually right at the heart of Paul’s understanding of the gospel. In fact, it seems to me that the climax of the book of Romans is found at the end of ch. 11 in Paul’s great exclamation of praise.

      Well, that is enough of a lengthy reply for the moment, but I would be glad to hear thoughts about these matters of Jew and Gentile in the book that I have just raised. I have many more thoughts about it for later, perhaps, but this is a good start, I think.

  5. Stefan Gerville-Reache says:

    In narrowing down the theme of the Jew and Gentile it could be said that the theme is not to judge one another because both are sinners (3:23), both require faith alone in Christ alone for salvation (Rom 1:16; 10:10), and so long as they are fulfilling the royal law to love God and love others, all their actions done in faith are righteous (Romans chapter 14).

    • amspencer1984 says:

      A lot of good points there, Stefan. It is interesting to me how the “practical” application part (ch. 12-15) revolves so much around Jew and Gentile issues. Have you noticed that? I hadn’t until studying the book some recently. How do you think ch. 13 might relate to Jew and Gentile matters, for example?

      • Stefan Gerville-Reache says:

        Romans is a great book to help any church overcome conflict amongst members due to superficial differences. It’s those practical applications originally for settling disputes on differences between Jew and Gentile that can be helpful for any division in church. Perhaps chapter 13 is more directed toward the Jewish believers who found themselves back under the direct rule of Gentiles. I like how Paul ends that chapter by basically saying it doesn’t matter who rules over you because God will always rule over them, so “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lust.” Chapter 13 is pretty relevant for today when we consider that it is saying no matter who wins the presidential race, their authority comes from God so we should be submitted to their authority.

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