Romans is the longest of the “Pauline Epistles” (letters written by St Paul to young churches) in the Bible but none of it is padding. For the cluster group meeting I attended tonight, we were going to study chapter 16 following on from having done the previous chapters before the summer break, so I offered to give a quick summary.
You could condense it down the single word, “righteous” but perhaps it is more helpful to break it into three main sections. Chapters 1-8 give a doctrine of salvation, explaining how we get from sin to sanctification through Jesus. Chapters 9-11 could then be seen as moving to examine a doctrine of God’s sovereignty, particularly the past election, present rejection and future restoration of the Jewish people. Finally, chapters 12-16 move to application – the responsibilities and liberty of Christian believers.
When studying chapter by chapter, I found the middle section hardest to work through but, looking back, I can see how integral it is to the whole. For example, chapter 4 is also all about Jewish heritage (Abraham) while chapter 11 explores the idea of being grafted into Christ, which is a potent image of what it means to be “in Christ” (another essential theme of Paul’s message).
Anyway, that is my potted summary. Tomorrow, I will type up my chapter by chapter run through, picking out a key verse or theme from each chapter of the letter.