THEMES IN THE EPISTLE OF PAUL TO THE ROMANS
Introduction: While it is true that the main theme of the epistle of Paul to the Romans is justification by faith, there are at least five interrelated themes. These are:
A. The righteousness of God [“the righteousness that God bestows,” and by which man is justified, or made righteous] is revealed in the gospel (1:16,17).
B. God bestows, or imputes, righteousness by forgiving sins (4:6,7).
C. This righteousness was predicted in the law and the prophets (3:21; Acts 3:22-26).
D. This righteousness is produced by an obedient faith, rather than by meritorious works (9:30-33; 10:1-21).
A. Paul begins the main body of his thesis by pointing out the need for the righteousness of God among the nations. They needed “the righteousness of God” because they had become both ungodly and unrighteous, as a result of suppressing “the truth” that God had revealed unto them (1:18-32).
1. “Ungodliness” is “the lack of respect and reverence for God”
2. “Unrighteousness” includes any and all deeds done in violation of right and justice.
3. A person might be unrighteous without being ungodly, but one who is ungodly will almost certainly be unrighteous, because if one lacks respect and reverence for God, he will also lack respect and reverence for God’s commands.
B. Having clearly established the need of the nations for the righteousness of God, Paul then deals with the need of Jews in particular for the righteousness that God bestows (2:1-29; 3:1-8).
C. Paul finishes the first section by reiterating the need of both Jews and Gentiles for the righteousness of God (3:9-20).
A. God’s favor, in bestowing righteousness, is not merely undeserved but the opposite of what is deserved (3:21-24; 6:23).
B. The righteousness God bestows is undeserved because it has not been [and cannot be] earned (3:23; 4:1-8; 7:7-25).
C. God’s favor entered through one man, just as sin entered through one man (5:12-21).
D. God’s favor does not eliminate, but establishes the need for obedience (6:1-4,12-23).
THE MEANS BY WHICH GOD BESTOWS RIGHTEOUSNESS
A. The life is in the blood (Lev. 17:11). Therefore, to shed the blood of a living thing is to sacrifice the life of that thing.
B. There is no remission without shedding blood, or sacrificing life (Gen. 4:1-8; Heb. 9:11-26).
C. The sacrifice of the life of His Son Jesus Christ is the ultimate demonstration of God’s love for mankind (5:1-11; 8:31-39; John 3:16).
D. The sacrifice of His own life is the ultimate demonstration of Christ’s love for mankind (John 15:13; 1 John 3:16).
E. The shed blood of Jesus Christ is the only adequate covering for sin (3:21-26; see also Matt. 26:28; John 2:1,2). Thus, any religion, which does not emphasize the shedding of His blood, has no real substance.
A. Paul both begins and ends his epistle pointing out that the condition of righteousness is obedient faith not a mere, mental acceptance of the proposition that Jesus is the Son of God (1:1-6; 16:25,26).
B. He also points out that obedient faith renders perfect obedience to law unnecessary (3:21-26).
C. He also explains that obedient faith eliminates boasting (3:27-31).
D. He then uses the case of Abraham to illustrate justification on the condition of obedient faith (4:1-25).
E. He shows that obedient faith gives one access into the grace of God (5:1,2; see also Heb. 11:6).
Conclusion: Thus, all men are in need of justification, which is the same as forgiveness or being made righteous. And one is forgiven [or made righteous] on the basis of grace, by means of the blood of Jesus Christ and on the condition of obedient faith, when [having come to believe and repent], he confesses his faith in Jesus Christ and is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.