Main Themes in Romans

“Le premier contact fut écrasant.” – “The first encounter was overwhelming.” M.-J. Lagrange, Saint Paul: Épître Aux Romains. Études Bibliques. Paris, 1950.

Romans 1:16–17 (ESV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

In Romans 1:16-17 Paul states his theme: the Gospel is the power of God for salvation for anyone who believes. Paul begins the letter by stating clearly the real good news is not about the emperor or the empire.   The real power for salvation comes from God, not the emperor or the empire.

main-themes-of-romansFirst, humans are estranged from God, unwilling and unable to respond to the revelation of God in creation (1:18-3:20). Paul demonstrates Gentiles suppress knowledge of God even though he clearly reveals himself in creation, then argues the Jewish people are just as estranged from God because of their own rebellion. By Romans 3:20, there is no one who seeks God nor is there anyone who even tries!

Second, despite human rebellion, God has provided salvation through Jesus Christ (3:21-5:21). Paul uses a courtroom metaphor: the believer is “declared righteous” because of what Jesus has done on the cross. The believer obtains that righteousness through faith, not obedience to the Law or performance of rituals.

Third, those who believe are wholly identified with the death and resurrection of Jesus, therefore they should live a new life in Jesus (Romans 6-8). Those who believe are “dead to sin.” Once slaves to sin, now slaves to righteousness, but Paul goes on to say those who are in Christ are now children of God. The ethical implication of this new relationship with God is that the “in Christ” person is to act like they are part of the family of God. This new status cannot be lost, those whom God justified he will ultimately glorify.

Fourth, someone might object to this promise of faithfulness. God made promises to Israel in the past, and they appear to now be rejected as God’s people. Can we trust God when he says we cannot lose our salvation, since the Jewish people appear to have be rejected as God’s people, despite his promises in the Old Testament. In Romans 9-11 Paul shows that God is faithful to his promises, even those he made to the Jewish people. Paul constructs a detailed theological argument which shows God was not unfaithful in the past and he will act again on behalf of the Jewish people, so that “all Israel will be saved” (11:25-32).

Fifth, the “in Christ” life transforms thinking in every aspect of life. Paul describes this new life as a living sacrifice and transformed thinking (12:1-2). The gospel confronts both Judaism and the pagan world. By living out the life described in Romans 12-15 a Jewish person goes beyond the Law by exercising the law of love in every aspect of their life (very much like Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount). But Paul goes beyond Jesus to discuss how Jews and Gentiles relate to one another (the stronger and weaker in chapter 14). But the life described in Romans 12-15 subverts Roman cultural scripts as well. The one who is in Christ does not pursue his own honor (like a good Roman), but seeks to serve others.

10 thoughts on “Main Themes in Romans

  1. I think that many people who study the Bible recognize the passion that Paul had, and the difficulties he struggled with, especially when a lot of the things he was asking went against the grain. Long’s reference to Paul teaching things that did not fit the mold of Roman society, is a good example of one difficulty. However, neither the non-compliant people, nor the roughness of the journeys, could keep Paul from doing the task that the Lord assigned to Him. Paul did a good job addressing all of the people in his letter to the Romans. He knew what to say to both reach, and get under the skin of both the Jews and Gentiles who had become believers. He wasn’t afraid to go against the mold, he was even recorded in the Bible to have had friction with Peter who had been one of the original 12 Disciples. My point is, that Paul shared the truth without fearing the consequences, and laid out clearly for all of his readers what a Christian looks like. What it means to be an heir with Christ, a member of the Body. As was stated in the article above, Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek,” (Romans 1:16). This was a key to the whats and whys of Paul’s letter to the Romans, he was essentially writing because the Gospel should be taught, and that the good news being proclaimed now was for everyone, not just one group or another making up the Christian church of their day.

    Like

    • I agree. Paul did not shy away from what God called him to do, but went above and beyond by making his messages relate able to the audience. As present day Christian, we should feel encouraged by the mind set Paul had in sharing the Gospel with people who are already set in their ways or do not know any thing about it. I understand it may be hard to speak to some people, but someone needs to be the one to plant the seed and trust God will make it grow.

      Like

  2. The main themes Paul created in the letter to the Romans show three very important ideas that Christians must remember. The first of those three ideas is that humans are separated from God and therefore are sinful and imperfect creatures. This idea is shown in Romans 3:23, which says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Broken and sinful humans leads to the second idea; the saving grace of Jesus Christ. This is shown in Romans 6:23 which says, “for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God gave us life simply because He loves us. That brings me to the third idea, which I believe is that because Jesus gave us this wonderful gift of life, we should act like true children of God, living lifestyles pleasing to the Lord. God gave this gift freely, and it cost Him dearly, His children should try to repay Him by living according to His word.

    Like

    • I can see you summed all five themes into three which makes I believe for a Christian who already is familiar with this concept. What about theme 4 where we read how faithful God is? Is this important to include? I believe to gentiles, they would like to know if it is worth believing in a God if He only is going to undue His promises in the end. As theme 1 stated, Paul needed address the sinful act of the Romans, so by doing so he could later state God will be faithful to those who follow His Word.

      Like

  3. I wanted to speak to theme #4 that the argument of if a Christian can lose his or her salvation. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus speaks about who will enter the kingdom of heaven and only those who knew God will be able to (NIV). My pastor Daniel explained it to me this way with the image we are a three part being, spirit, soul, and body, that once you believed as you confessed with your month that Jesus is Lord your spirit man is saved (Romans 10:9, NIV). Your soul is working on becoming saved which means changing your behaviors to line up with the word of God (James 1:21, NIV). Then your physical body will be saved in the seconding coming of Jesus into a heavenly body (2 Corinthians 5, NIV). If you are a concerned Christian about if you have lost your salvation or not, you have not because you feel convicted about it. The only way someone, I believe, can lose his or her salvation if he or she denies God and all that He has done (Matthew 25:31-46, NIV).

    Like

  4. dnbazan13,

    I also have been struggling with the concept of eternal security. I wrestle with the idea that someone can be saved but can willingly chose to turn their hearts and back on God. Does that mean they still have their salvation because they “believed” at one moment in their life or because they said the magical prayer of confessing it out loud such as Romans 10:9 states? For me, I have a hard time figuring out the balance of salvation as not a means by works but by what Jesus has done, however, as believers in Christ we should (must) see transformation take place in our lives, if not, are we truly changed by the Gospel and by what Jesus has done?
    I guess my own convictions on this issue is how do we define salvation? How do we know if someone is truly saved? Is it as easy as saying Jesus is Lord and saying it aloud? I’ve heard the argument that “only God knows” whether someone is saved or not and its not our goal to focus on that.
    However, for my own desires, I would like to come to a conclusion that is supported by scripture. I am still seeking this concept out.
    As for now, my stance is that someone cannot lose their salvation if they are truly saved. What I mean by this is that if someone truly believes in Jesus Christ (they would be changed and transformed by that belief-although they would still struggle with sin). My guess of those who decide to fall away from God sometimes in their life, I personally believe that they were not truly saved because they truly did not believe and their lives did not reap the fruit/harvest.

    Like

  5. I want to touch base on the first point that was made, because it can be traced back to the very beginning of time. “Humans are estranged from God.” That statement goes back all the way to the Fall in the Garden of Eden back in Genesis 3. From that point on, our relationship with God has suffered. You see people who are unwilling to believe in God, and those who say that there is no evidence for God. I love the intelligent designer debate, because when I look out into the creation, I can see without a doubt that it was created by God, not a by-product of an explosion. Romans 1:20 speaks to this issue, and states the idea of natural revelation. Natural revelation is a term that Moo describes as, “…God reveals truth about himself in a general, more indirect way, in the created world itself” (p. 57). All people should have the knowledge of a creator when they look out into creation. Romans 1:20 backs this point up by stating, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” As you stated in the post, by Romans 3:20, no one is righteous in God’s sight- even with the wonderful creation they had around them. That is why the salvation through Jesus Christ is so important.

    Like

  6. It is amazing to see how God used a man who persecuted the church and killed Christians, to speak through and bring to the world one of the most impactful, and theologically substantial books. Paul is a true testimony to the work of Jesus Christ and the Holy spirit!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.