Romans: Paul’s Magnum Opus

Arguably the greatest single piece of Christian literature in all of the Bible, Romans stands out as the jewel of New Testament doctrine. It especially shines brightly when describing the salvation of mankind by the grace of God. From Augustine[1] to Martin Luther[2], men have been convinced of their own wickedness and need of salvation by reading these inspired words. So, how did the church come to get this magnificent book?

A Church Planted in Rome
Though it is widely believed that Peter and Paul founded the church in Rome it is highly unlikely they had any involvement. First, Paul was striving to get to Rome his entire ministry and had never had the chance (Rom. 1:13 & Rom. 15:23). Second, if Peter had established the church there one would expect Paul to greet him in the epistle of Romans. Yet instead, we see Paul claiming he would build on no other man’s foundation (Rom. 15:20). It has been suggested that converts who had been saved and received the Spirit at the day of Pentecost planted the church.[3]

A Multicultural Church
The church was filled primarily with Gentile believers but had a very large Jewish believer minority as well.[4] Rome was multicultural and so was its church. In chapters two Paul addresses the Jews in the congregation (2:17) and in chapter three clarifies the limited benefits of having a Jewish linage (3:1-5). In chapter four further addresses the Jews by using “our father Abraham” as an illustration of justification by faith. However, in chapter one Paul speaks directly to the gentiles in the audience (1:5-6, 13) and in chapter fifteen he points out specific gentiles in the congregation (15:15-16). This was an exemplary church to follow with a broad multicultural church that obviously fought against prejudice. (BTW – This is one of the reasons I love Southern Hills Baptist so much. We have Christians from all over the world that worship together in unity. From Africa to South America, from the Islands of the Pacific to the farms of the Midwest, from Egypt to Albuquerque people have found their way to our church in Las Vegas.)

A Letter from Paul to Rome
While in Corinth Paul wrote the church at Rome expressing his desire to minister there while on his way to Spain. He was hoping, while in Rome, to raise the funds necessary for his mission trip to Spain (15:24-28). Also, since Paul would arrive in Rome shortly he wanted to present a clear presentation of the Gospel in written form prior to his arrival so that they would be prepared for his preaching. Lastly, Paul desired to unify the splintering fractions within the church that were caused by social issues of the day (14:1-15:13). We now have the book of Romans. The greatest explanation of God’s plan of salvation our world has ever received.

Have you studied the Book of Romans? What is your favorite passage in this book?

[1] Everett Ferguson, Church History: Volume One (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 270.
[2] Justo L. Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity: Volume Two (New York: Harper One, 2010), 25.
[3] Thomas D. Lea, and David Alan Black, Second Edition: The New Testament: Its Background and Message (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2003), 390-91.
[4] Ibid, 392.

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  • Reply
    Aaron Carpenter
    July 23, 2013 at 10:07 am

    What a great summary! I could certainly learn something about concise prose from you, my friend. After preaching through Romans over the course of 4 years (who knew?), I sat down to write some of my reflections on an incredible journey through an amazing book.I haven’t gotten very far, but I did write down a bit of an introduction a while back. It’s not as well-written as this blog post, but it you’re interested, it’s here:

    • Reply
      Joshua Teis
      July 23, 2013 at 11:49 am

      I loved your article! After reading yours I feel like mine is a poor imitation of the real deal.

      For anyone who read this post and enjoyed it you must read the post by AAron Carpenter above.

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