This book is the backbone of our understanding of the New Covenant. It is a letter written to the Believers of Rome but it applies to all believers. The letter is written to both Jews and Gentiles who were now one in their faith. Some key issues are dealt with that affected both groups; the issue of Jewish pride among the believers and the warning to Gentiles who were developing an attitude of pride against the Jews who did not believe.
Paul addressed Jews directly (Romans 2:17), Jewish Christians, and Gentile Christians. But the implication of his words indicate that Paul considered the Christian community in Rome predominantly Gentile. Some of the Believers there were made up of those who came to faith on the day of Pentecost described in Acts as visitors from Rome (Acts 2:10) who witnessed the miracle of Pentecost and heard Peter’s sermon and others who came to faith through them and Paul.
It seems likely that Peter was not present in Rome since Paul greets many individuals in this letter (28 persons are named or referred to) but there is no mention of Peter. Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2), apparently is the one who delivered this letter because she was making a trip to Rome. It was likely her trip to Rome that motivated Paul to write the letter. The letter was written in the late winter or early spring of a.d. 57 or 58.
Paul wrote this letter to encourage them and build them up in their faith (Romans 1:11-15) and to tell them of his earnest desire to visit them. A second reason was to explain the essence of the Gospel and all that it entailed (Romans 1:15). The theme of the letter is to explain the Arighteousness of God”. When Paul uses the word righteousness he means a right relationship with God. The man who is righteous is the man who is in a right relationship with God, and whose life shows it.
He sought to explain the righteousness from God which is revealed in the gospel and which is received by faith (Romans 1:17). It is the righteousness that God gives us by grace through faith. This gift of righteousness includes justification which is the unearned privilege being able to stand before God. It also includes an ongoing process of transformation and growth which is called sanctification which is accomplished by the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. The process of sanctification leads ultimately to our glorification when a believer leaves his body and is brought into the presence of the Lord.
The section of Romans 9-11 is an illustration that nothing will cause us to lose this salvation. The concluding chapters deal with evidences that one is righteous. Paul begins with a survey of the Gentile world and considers its decadence and corruption. He then looks at the Jewish world and demonstrates that righteousness was not accomplished through the Law. The Jews had sought to solve the problem of righteousness by meticulous obedience to the law.
Paul had tried that way himself, and the result was frustration and defeat. This was because of the weakness of the Law to change men. So Paul describes in this letter that the way of righteousness is through complete trust and surrender to Jesus as Lord and King of our lives. It is the way of faith.
It is to know that the important thing is, not what we can do for God, but what he has done for us. The whole matter is one of grace, and all that we can do is to accept in wondering love and gratitude and trust what God has done for us. This does not free us from our obligations or entitles us to do as we like; it means that we now keep the commands of God in a new and different way by the work and power of God’s Spirit.