Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Introduction to the Book of Romans - Pete's Bible Commentary


Introduction to the Book of Romans - Pete's Bible Commentary

Romans is a difficult book of the Bible to grasp. No doubt it leaves us, at times, confused and wondering what in the world Paul is getting out. Before you delve into Romans, have a read of this introduction I put together:

Without dispute, Romans was written by the Apostle Paul; even though there is conjecture on authorship related to other books, such as Ephesians. Also, without much dispute is the fact that Paul wrote Romans while in Corinth. The date of the book of Romans is most likely written around 55-57AD, and to put in context, Jesus died around 33AD, and the Gospel of Matthew was authored sometime after 70AD. Paul calls himself a ‘Hebrew of the Hebrews’ (Phil 3:5), and we know from the verses in Philippians 3, that he also calls himself a Pharisee and says that he is from the Tribe of Benjamin. Paul was also highly competent in Greek and was probably given an extensive Greek education in Tarsus (Dunn, 1988: xl). So Paul was a Jew through and through, and so what a conversion/calling he must have had on the road to Damascus to now be preaching a gospel that says, ‘to Jews first, and the Gentiles...’! What? The Gentiles? Paul’s whole foundation of theology had changed when he met the risen Christ on that road one day.

What is the purpose of the book of Romans?

The traditional view about the purpose of Romans, has been that, ‘the apostle’s chief emphasis in Romans is on God’s justification of sinners by grace, in Christ, through faith’ (Stott, 1994: 24). John Stott says that there is no doubt the book of Romans makes this point, but the bigger purpose of Romans is about: ‘God’s plan for the world and about how Paul’s mission to the Gentiles fits into that plan’ (: 25). Chapters 1-8 is almost like a preface to chapters 9-11, wherein which Paul touches on church and synagogue, and Israel and the Jewish people.

What do you think Paul is saying to the Church today, through his writings in Romans?


One day as John Wesley was reading Martin Luther’s Preface to the book of Romans, he read these words:

About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death (cited in Stott, 1994: 22).


Lord, take away our sins, and continue to shape us into the people you want us to be. Cut off the sinful nature in our lives, and the impact that sin and death has upon us. Make us new creatures, who are becoming more and more like Christ everyday. Thanks Jesus. Amen.

• Dunn, James, D. G. (1988). Word Biblical Commentary. Romans 1-8.

• Stott, John. (1994). Bible Speaks Today. Romans.

Introduction to the Book of Romans is part of Pete's Bible Commentary, written by PeteBrookshaw.

See also: Understanding the Book of Romans

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