Snapshot View of Romans
A quick look at the books of the New Testament begins with the great letter of Romans
There is no doubt that the book of Romans is probably the greatest explanation of the Christian Faith. Paul is reputed to have written it to the church in Rome from Corinth. He wanted to visit Rome very much, as is recorded in Acts 19:21. Two of the important plans that he had at this late stage in his life was to deliver the collection taken in Corinth for the Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 20:4; 2 Corinthians 8,9) and then to go and preach the Good News in Spain. The gateway to Spain would be Rome. He also had many friends and fellow workers in Rome (see Romans 16). But God already had other plans for Paul. During his final days in Jerusalem he is told by the Lord that he must "take courage, for as you have testified about me at Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also at Rome" (Acts 23:11)
Looking more closely at the Book of Romans and its organization, it can be divided into three parts. Firstly the problem of sin (1.1-3:20). Secondly, what has God done about this? (3:21-11:34) In the third place, what is our responsibility as disciples? (12:1-16:27).
Looking at Rome at that time, the Roman Empire had descended into a despairing state of affairs. The rise and decline of the Roman Empire was in full swing. All people were interested in was power, entertainment and vice (1:24-32). So the result they faced was as it is in every age, suffering and pain and God's fury (2:8.9). Paul deals with the confusion about the Jews and Gentiles, a subject he will deal with again in other letters (see Galatians). At the same time all is not lost and those who are on the right track will be given eternal life (2:7). God accepts those who come to him by faith, just as he always did. God rejects the Jews who seek to be righteous by works, but still leaves an open door for the remnant.
God has revealed His way of dealing with the problem of sin through Jesus and "putting people right" with Him. (3:21-24) The righteous are saved by faith (5:1-2). Some of the examples that Paul uses are that of Abraham, marriage and slavery. In chapter 8 Paul gives us perhaps one of the greatest explanations of how the Holy Spirit works in our lives. "There is no condemnation for those who live in union with Christ Jesus" (8:1 Good News Bible translation)
After making his statements about the new life that we can enjoy in Christ Paul turns to our responsibilities in the amazing declaration that we have to "present our bodies as a living sacrifice" (12:1.2) He then outlines how we need to use our gifts in service of the Lord. Finally he greets the many fellow workers that he has in Rome. Here he shows that although he has not been to Rome he knows a lot about the work in that City. He also encourages those he knows are doing a good work. It is interesting that many of those he mentions are woman.
Some important questions that Paul deals with in this great letter is:
1.) How does the law fit into the New Covenant (Ch. 2)
2.) How are we saved? (6:3-8)
3.) What does it mean to present our bodies as a living sacrifice? (12:1ff.)
4.)What about people who have never heard about Jesus? (2:14-16)
5.) What about our attitude toward ruling authorities? (13:1-7)
6.) What about judging people? (14:1-12)
7.) How does the Holy Spirit work? (Ch.8)
References: Good News Bible - Today's English Version.
Barclay, W. The Men, the message of the books. St. Andrews Press.