Search for page by title (auto-completes)
Advanced search
Translate into

The Bible

OT Overview

NT Overview

OT Books

NT Books

OT History

NT History

OT Studies

Pentateuch Studies

History Books Studies

Studies in the Prophets

NT Studies

Studies in the Gospels

Acts and Letters Studies

Revelation Studies

Inductive Study

Types of Literature


Early Church


Historical Documents

Life Questions

How to Preach


SBS Staff

Advanced Search
Search for word or phrase within each page
Search by OT book and chapter
Search by NT book and chapter

Romans I - Paul and his Gospel (1:1 - 17)

Julian Spriggs M.A.

Related articles

I: Paul and his Gospel (1:1 - 17) II: The Bad News (1:18 - 3:20)
III: The Good News (3:21 - 5:21) IV: Sanctification (6:1 - 8:39)
V: Election and Mercy (9:1 - 11:36) VI: Living the Gospel (12:1 - 15:13)
VII: Travel plans, Greeting (15:14 - 16:27)

Prev - Romans Intro Next - Romans II

Section Introduction

The Book of Romans follows the standard structure of a Greek letter. The prologue contains the greetings and thanksgiving. Unusually, Paul expands the naming of the author for six verses to proclaim his calling to be an apostle to bring the Gospel of Jesus to the Gentiles. These few verses contain a great declaration of the theological truths of who Jesus is, and of God’s plans, which are fulfilled in the Gospel. In the thanksgiving, he expresses his long-held desire to come to Rome for mutual encouragement, and to proclaim the Gospel among them.

Paul set apart for the Gospel (1:1-7)

In the first six verses, the standard naming and description of the author of the letter is greatly expanded, as Paul introduces himself to a church he has not yet visited, and declares his divine call to be an apostle, the content of the Gospel he proclaims, and his task of bringing that Gospel to the Gentiles.

Firstly, before anything else, he is a servant (or slave) of Jesus Christ. Paul is under the lordship of Christ, ready to obey and serve his master. His ministry comes out of that servant relationship with Jesus and his calling from God. Secondly, he is called to be an apostle, sent with the authority of Jesus, as his messenger. Thirdly, he is set apart for the Gospel of God. It was on the road to Damascus, that Paul received his divine calling to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 26:17-18, Gal 1:16, Rom 11:13-14).

After introducing himself, he introduces the Gospel which he proclaims (v2-4), which becomes the main theme of the Book of Romans. The Gospel was promised beforehand through the prophets in the holy scriptures, the Hebrew Scriptures, which is our Old Testament. Paul is making the point that this Gospel is not a completely new idea, but one which had been promised by the prophets of old, showing the continuity through the OT into the NT. The Gospel was not an afterthought, but the culmination of God's plan of salvation, which began in the mind of God before the beginning of time, and was put into action following the fall of man (Gen 3). A major step was the calling of Abraham to be the father of the nation of the Jews, from whom the Messiah would be born, and to be a blessing to the Gentiles (Gen 12:1-3). This theme is developed in chapter four. Jesus also showed this continuity when speaking to the two on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:44).

This Gospel is concerning his son, Jesus, traced by human descent from King David, as the Son of David (Mt 1:1), fulfilling the promise God made to David of an eternal kingdom (2 Sam 7:13-14). He was declared to be the divine Son of God with power through the cross and resurrection, after which he was given all authority (Mt 28:18).

Finally, Paul explains his divine call and ministry as God’s apostle to the Gentiles (v5-6). His goal is for all nations to be obeying the universal Gospel. He describes his ministry as bringing about "the obedience of faith", a phrase he repeats later (15:18, 16:26). The message is to bring people to complete commitment to Jesus as Lord, as his servants (v1), for the sake of his name, in order that Jesus is glorified. Paul’s ministry is particularly to the Gentiles (Gal 2:8), but also includes his readers in Rome (v6).

The letter is addressed to "God's beloved in Rome", rather than to the church in Rome. As noted in the introduction, this may suggest that instead of meeting as a unified church, the believers were meeting in smaller house-groups. The believers are addressed as saints, those who belong to God and are set apart for him, as a holy people. In the NT, all believers are saints. It is not a term which is ever used to describe some particularly special individuals.

Paul’s eagerness to preach the Gospel in Rome (1:8-15)

This paragraph contains the standard thanksgiving and prayer found in Paul’s letters. In this, he gives thanks to God for his readers, prays for them, and expresses his long-standing desire to come to them in Rome.

He begins with a thanksgiving for the quality of their faith which is reported around the world (v8). It is good news for Paul and other believers that there was an established fellowship of believers in the capital of the Roman Empire.

In his prayer, he makes an oath declaring that he continually prays for the Roman believers, particularly praying that he will finally be able to come to them (v9-10). Maybe some people were questioning why Paul had never come to them in Rome. Twice Paul states that he has been desiring to come to Rome for a considerable time (v10,13), but had continually been prevented. It is easy to see that on his missionary journeys he had Rome in his sight. One time was on the second journey, when he travelled from Philippi to Thessalonica (Acts 17) along the Egnatian Way, the main route from the east to Rome. When he eventually did come to Rome, it was not as he would have expected. He was hoping to come as a free man to establish a base there for further evangelistic work to Spain, but he came here as a prisoner (Acts 28), and several years later than he would have hoped. He expands on his plans to come to Rome in chapter 15.

Paul's main reason for coming to the church in Rome was to be a blessing to them (v11). His greatest desire is to be giving to them, rather than receiving, but sees the need for mutual encouragement. Paul also needs their encouragement, expecting to receive a blessing as he gave of himself and his ministry to the church in Rome.

Paul's overriding desire was to see men and women won for Jesus, so he also wanted to come to Rome to a reap a harvest among them. He sees that he has been entrusted with the message of the Gospel, so he owes it to everyone in the world, both to the educated Greeks and to the despised nonGreek barbarians, to proclaim that Gospel, including those in Rome.

The Statement of Paul’s Theme (1:16 - 17)

Before starting the main content of the book, Paul states his main theme, the revelation of God's righteousness through the Gospel. The Gospel is the answer to the question: How can sinful human beings come into a right relationship with a holy God? Another way of stating the question is: How can a holy God declare sinful people righteous and yet remain righteous himself?

Paul is not ashamed of the gospel. This is an understatement, or litotes, meaning that he is very proud about it! There is a common tendency to feel ashamed of the Gospel. Compared with human wisdom, the Gospel can seem foolish, but "God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom" (1 Cor 1:23;25). In today’s society it is not fashionable to be a Christian. Christianity is often despised as being weak, as well as being offensive to other religions in a pluralistic society, particularly because Jesus claimed to be the only way to God. Christianity, both then, and now in many places, also often carries a social stigma because socially insignificant people respond.

The Gospel is described as the power of God for salvation. This should be seen in the context of the military and political power of the Roman Empire, especially when expressed in a letter to the capital of the Empire. The gospel is a demonstration of God's power to save people from eternal judgement, deliverance from sin and death, to eternal life in relationship with himself. The Gospel has power to change people from the inside, nothing else has that power.

The Gospel is for everyone who has faith. Throughout the book, Paul uses inclusive language, using words such as, 'all', and 'everyone', which emphasises one of the major themes of the book, that there is now no longer any distinction between Jew and Greek, which was the greatest religious barrier of the first century. This would also be effective in addressing the disunity between Jewish and Gentile believers in the Roman church.

To receive salvation, all people need to respond to the gospel by faith, trusting that the death of Jesus was sufficient to take the wrath of God that they rightfully deserved. Salvation came to the Jew first, because Jesus came first as Messiah to the Jews. They had been called by God to be his own people, and to be a light to the Gentiles, showing the nature and character of the one true God to the Gentiles.

Through the Gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed (v17). This righteousness of God should be seen as having several aspects. Firstly, it is an attribute of God: He is righteous, holy, and completely without sin or uncleanness. Secondly it is an activity of God: He took the initiative to save us. And thirdly, it is an achievement of God: He gave believers the free gift of grace, to be declared as being without guilt, and able to stand before Him, in a loving relationship with Him. This is only possible because Jesus took our guilt and the penalty for our sin, by his death on the cross. He took our guilt, and we took his righteousness. This is what theologians call substitutionary atonement. In this way, justice has been done, without compromising God's purity and holiness.

The only way to receive God's righteousness is through faith alone. This is not just a single step of faith, but a whole life of faith. There is no place for good works in salvation, or any idea of being able to earn justification from God. Sinful people can only be forgiven by trusting their lives to the saving effect of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Good works should be the fruit of faith, once people have already been forgiven and been made acceptable to God. Paul concludes his letter with a whole section on Christian lifestyle (ch 12 - 14).

Paul bases his doctrine of justification by faith on a quotation from the prophet Habakkuk, "The one who is righteous will live by faith" (Hab 2:4). This shows that the true nature of the gospel was rooted in Old Testament revelation (1:2). Paul gives greater meaning to the original concept as expressed by Habakkuk, when the Lord told him that the righteous people would be preserved through the Babylonian invasion of Judah by having faith (trust) in God. In the Gospel, people are declared righteous before God and receive eternal life through faith.

Some thoughts about the righteousness of God

The righteousness of God is one of the dominating themes of the letter. As noted above, the revelation of the righteousness of God in the Book of Romans gives the solution of the problem of how sinful people can come into a relationship with a holy God, without him compromising his holiness and purity. It is a theme which runs all through the book, in each of the main sections.

The righteousness of God has been revealed in the gospel of salvation, so people can come into a right relationship with God through faith alone (1:16-17). Both Jews and Gentiles fail to reach the standards of God's righteousness, and therefore deserve his judgement. No one can be made righteous before God through their own efforts, so everyone is in need of a saviour (1:18 - 3:20). God has provided the means of obtaining this righteousness through the death of Christ, who took the penalty for our sin, and which is given to all who have faith, whether Jew or Gentile (3:21 - 4:25). Once the believer has been made righteous before God, he is now dead to sin (Gentiles) and dead to the law (Jews), and made alive in the Spirit. This Spirit now works in the believer through the process of sanctification to make him more like the character of God (5:1 - 8:39). Paul wrestles with the problem of his own people, the Jews, because they had rejected the provision of God's righteousness through their unbelief, even though they were God's chosen people (9:1 - 11:36). In practical application, the righteousness of God should be demonstrated in the lifestyle of the believers, in their relationships with other people, whether within the body of Christ, or to the civil authorities, or to the weaker brother (12:1ff).

Prev - Romans Intro Next - Romans II

Related articles

I: Paul and his Gospel (1:1 - 17) II: The Bad News (1:18 - 3:20)
III: The Good News (3:21 - 5:21) IV: Sanctification (6:1 - 8:39)
V: Election and Mercy (9:1 - 11:36) VI: Living the Gospel (12:1 - 15:13)
VII: Travel plans, Greeting (15:14 - 16:27)

The Bible

Pages which look at issues relevant to the whole Bible, such as the Canon of Scripture, as well as doctrinal and theological issues. There are also pages about the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and 'lost books' of the Old Testament.

Also included are lists of the quotations of the OT in the NT, and passages of the OT quoted in the NT.

Why These 66 Books?
Books in the Hebrew Scriptures
Quotations in NT From OT
OT Passages Quoted in NT
History of the English Bible
Twelve Books of the Apocrypha
The Pseudepigrapha - False Writings
Lost Books Referenced in OT

Old Testament Overview

This is a series of six pages which give a historical overview through the Old Testament and the inter-testamental period, showing where each OT book fits into the history of Israel.

OT 1: Creation and Patriarchs
OT 2: Exodus and Wilderness
OT 3: Conquest and Monarchy
OT 4: Divided kingdom and Exile
OT 5: Return from Exile
OT 6: 400 Silent Years

New Testament Overview

This is a series of five pages which give a historical overview through the New Testament, focusing on the Ministry of Jesus, Paul's missionary journeys, and the later first century. Again, it shows where each book of the NT fits into the history of the first century.

NT 1: Life and Ministry of Jesus
NT 2: Birth of the Church
NT 3: Paul's Missionary Journeys
NT 4: Paul's Imprisonment
NT 5: John and Later NT

Introductions to Old Testament Books

This is an almost complete collection of introductions to each of the books in the Old Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Genesis Exodus Leviticus
Numbers Deuteronomy

Joshua Judges Ruth
1 & 2 Samuel 1 & 2 Kings Chronicles
Ezra & Nehemiah Esther

Job Psalms Proverbs

Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations
Ezekiel Daniel

Hosea Joel Amos
Obadiah Jonah Micah
Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah
Haggai Zechariah Malachi

Introductions to New Testament Books

This is a collection of introductions to each of the 27 books in the New Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Matthew's Gospel Mark's Gospel Luke's Gospel
John's Gospel

Book of Acts

Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians
Galatians Ephesians Philippians
Colossians 1 & 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy
2 Timothy Titus Philemon

Hebrews James 1 Peter
2 Peter 1 John 2 & 3 John


Old Testament History

Information about the different nations surrounding Israel, and other articles concerning Old Testament history and the inter-testamental period.

Canaanite Religion
Israel's Enemies During the Conquest
Syria / Aram
The Assyrian Empire
Babylon and its History
The Persian Empire
The Greek Empire
The 400 Silent Years
The Ptolemies and Seleucids
Antiochus IV - Epiphanes

Old Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for OT studies. These include a list of the people named in the OT and confirmed by archaeology. There are also pages to convert the different units of measure in the OT, such as the talent, cubit and ephah into modern units.

More theological topics include warfare in the ancient world, the Holy Spirit in the OT, and types of Jesus in the OT.

OT People Confirmed by Archaeology
OT People Search
God the Creator
The Importance of Paradox
The Jewish Calendar
Holy War in the Ancient World
Talent Converter (weights)
Cubit Converter (lengths)
Ephah Converter (volumes)
The Holy Spirit in the OT
Types of Jesus in the OT

Studies in the Pentateuch (Gen - Deut)

A series of articles covering studies in the five books of Moses. Studies in the Book of Genesis look at the historical nature of the early chapters of Genesis, the Tower of Babel and the Table of the Nations.

There are also pages about covenants, the sacrifices and offerings, the Jewish festivals and the tabernacle, as well as the issue of tithing.

Are chapters 1-11 of Genesis historical?
Chronology of the Flood
Genealogies of the Patriarchs
What is a created kind?
Table of the Nations (Gen 10)
Tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-9)

Authorship of the Pentateuch
Chronology of the Wilderness Years
Names of God in the OT
Covenants in the OT
The Ten Commandments
The Tabernacle and its Theology
Sacrifices and Offerings
The Jewish Festivals
Balaam and Balak
Highlights from Deuteronomy
Overview of Deuteronomy

Studies in the Old Testament History Books (Josh - Esther)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the history books. These include a list of the dates of the kings of Israel and Judah, a summary of the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and studies of Solomon, Jeroboam and Josiah.

There are also pages describing some of the historical events of the period, including the Syro-Ephraimite War, and the Assyrian invasion of Judah in 701 BC.

Dates of the Kings of Judah and Israel
King Solomon
The Kings of Israel
King Jeroboam I of Israel
The Syro-Ephraimite War (735 BC)
Sennacherib's Invasion of Judah (701 BC)
King Josiah of Judah
Differences Between Kings and Chronicles
Chronology of the post-exilic period

Studies in the Old Testament Prophets (Is - Mal)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the OT prophets. These include a page looking at the way the prophets look ahead into their future, a page looking at the question of whether Satan is a fallen angel, and a page studying the seventy weeks of Daniel.

There are also a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of two of the books:
Isaiah (13 pages) and Daniel (10 pages).

Prophets and the Future
The Call of Jeremiah (Jer 1)
The Fall of Satan? (Is 14, Ezek 28)
Daniel Commentary (10 pages)
Isaiah Commentary (13 pages)
Formation of the Book of Jeremiah

Daniel's Seventy Weeks (Dan 9:24-27)

New Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for NT studies. These include a list of the people in the NT confirmed by archaeology.

More theological topics include the Kingdom of God and the Coming of Christ.

NT People Confirmed by Archaeology
God the Creator
The Kingdom of God / Heaven
Parousia (Coming of Christ)
The Importance of Paradox

Studies in the Four Gospels (Matt - John)

A series of articles covering various studies in the four gospels. These include a list of the unique passages in each of the Synoptic Gospels and helpful information about the parables and how to interpret them.

Some articles look at the life and ministry of Jesus, including his genealogy, birth narratives, transfiguration, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the seating arrangements at the Last Supper.

More theological topics include the teaching about the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete and whether John the Baptist fulfilled the predictions of the coming of Elijah.

Unique Passages in the Synoptic Gospels
The SynopticProblem
Genealogy of Jesus (Matt 1)
Birth Narratives of Jesus
Understanding the Parables
Peter's Confession and the Transfiguration
Was John the Baptist Elijah?
The Triumphal Entry
The Olivet Discourse (Mark 13)
Important themes in John's Gospel
John's Gospel Prologue (John 1)
Jesus Fulfilling Jewish Festivals
Reclining at Table at the Last Supper
The Holy Spirit as the Paraclete

Studies in the Book of Acts and the New Testament Letters

A series of articles covering various studies in the Book of Acts and the Letters, including Paul's letters. These include a page studying the messages given by the apostles in the Book of Acts, and the information about the financial collection that Paul made during his third missionary journey. More theological topics include Paul's teaching on Jesus as the last Adam, and descriptions of the church such as the body of Christ and the temple, as well as a look at redemption and the issue of fallen angels.

There are a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of five of the books:
Romans (7 pages), 1 Corinthians (7 pages), Galatians (3 pages), Philemon (1 page) and Hebrews (7 pages)

Apostolic Messages in the Book of Acts
Paul and His Apostleship
Collection for the Saints
The Church Described as a Temple
Church as the Body of Christ
Jesus as the Last Adam
Food Offered to Idols
Paul's Teaching on Headcoverings
Who are the Fallen Angels
The Meaning of Redemption
What is the Church?
Paul and the Greek Games

Romans Commentary (7 pages)

1 Corinthians Commentary (7 pages)

Galatians Commentary (3 pages)

Philemon Commentary (1 page)

Hebrews Commentary (7 pages)

Studies in the Book of Revelation

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the study of the Book of Revelation and topics concerning Eschatology (the study of end-times).

These include a description of the structure of the book, a comparison and contrast between the good and evil characters in the book and a list of the many allusions to the OT. For the seven churches, there is a page which gives links to their location on Google maps.

There is a page studying the important theme of Jesus as the Lamb, which forms the central theological truth of the book. There are pages looking at the major views of the Millennium, as well as the rapture and tribulation, as well as a list of dates of the second coming that have been mistakenly predicted through history.

There is also a series of ten pages giving a detailed commentry through the text of the Book of Revelation.

Introduction to the Book of Revelation
Characters Introduced in the Book
Structure of Revelation
List of Allusions to OT
The Description of Jesus as the Lamb
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
The Nero Redivius Myth
The Millennium (1000 years)
The Rapture and the Tribulation
Different Approaches to Revelation
Predicted Dates of the Second Coming

Revelation Commentary (10 pages)

How to do Inductive Bible Study

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study the Bible inductively, by asking a series of simple questions. There are lists of observation and interpretation questions, as well as information about the structure and historical background of biblical books, as well as a list of the different types of figures of speech used in the Bible. There is also a page giving helpful tips on how to apply the Scriptures personally.

How to Study the Bible Inductively
I. The Inductive Study Method
II. Observation Questions
III. Interpretation Questions
IV. Structure of Books
V. Determining the Historical background
VI. Identifying Figures of Speech
VII. Personal Application
VIII. Text Layout

Types of Literature in the Bible

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study each of the different types of book in the Bible by appreciating the type of literature being used. These include historical narrative, law, wisdom, prophets, Gospels, Acts, letters and Revelation.

It is most important that when reading the Bible we are taking note of the type of literature we are reading. Each type needs to be considered and interpreted differently as they have different purposes.

How to Understand OT Narratives
How to Understand OT Law
Hebrew Poetry
OT Wisdom Literature
Understanding the OT Prophets
The Four Gospels
The Parables of Jesus
The Book of Acts
How to Understand the NT Letters
Studying End Times (Eschatology)
The Book of Revelation

Geography and Archaeology

These are a series of pages giving geographical and archaeological information relevant to the study of the Bible. There is a page where you can search for a particular geographical location and locate it on Google maps, as well as viewing photographs on other sites.

There are also pages with photographs from Ephesus and Corinth.

Search for Geographical Locations
Major Archaeological Sites in Israel
Archaeological Sites in Assyria, Babylon and Persia
Virtual Paul's Missionary Journeys
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
Photos of the City of Corinth
Photos of the City of Ephesus

Biblical archaeology in museums around the world

A page with a facility to search for artifacts held in museums around the world which have a connection with the Bible. These give information about each artifact, as well as links to the museum's collection website where available showing high resolution photographs of the artifact.

There is also pages of photographs of important artifacts from the British Museum in London, the Louvre in Paris and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Search Museums for Biblical Archaeology
British Museum Photos
Israel Museum Photos
Paris Louvre Photos

Difficult Theological and Ethical Questions

These are a series of pages looking at some of the more difficult questions of Christian theology, including war, suffering, disappointment and what happens to those who have never heard the Gospel.

Christian Ethics
Never Heard the Gospel
Is there Ever a Just War?
Why Does God Allow Suffering
Handling Disappointment

How to Preach

These are a series of pages giving a practical step-by-step explanation of the process of preparing a message for preaching, and how to lead a small group Bible study.

What is Preaching?
I. Two Approaches to Preaching
II. Study a Passage for Preaching
III. Creating a Message Outline
IV. Making Preaching Relevant
V. Presentation and Public Speaking
VI. Preaching Feedback and Critique
Leading a Small Group Bible Study

Information for SBS staff members

Two pages particularly relevant for people serving as staff on the School of Biblical Studies (SBS) in YWAM. One gives helpful instruction about how to prepare to teach on a book in the SBS. The other gives a list of recommended topics which can be taught about for each book of the Bible.

Teaching on SBS Book Topics for SBS