Daily Devotion Text

May 19, 2017

Romans 1-2

By carmenhsu In Acts, Devotion Text with Comments Off on Romans 1-2

Romans 1-2 

Study Through the Book of Romans

As the opening words of the letter indicate, the apostle Paul wrote the book of Romans. Only a few scholars in history have doubted his authorship, and their doubts have been shown to be groundless. The title of the book indicates that the letter was written to the Christian churches in Rome.

Paul probably wrote Romans from Corinth, on his third missionary journey, in A.D. 57 (Acts 20:2–3). Having completed his work in the eastern part of the Roman Empire, he hoped to travel to Rome and then on to Spain; but first he needed to go to Jerusalem to deliver the money he had collected for the church there (Rom. 15:19–32; see Acts 19:21). Paul commends Phoebe (Rom. 16:1–2), and she was likely the person who brought the letter to Rome. She resided in Cenchreae, which was near Corinth and was one of its port cities. Furthermore, Gaius was Paul’s host (16:23), and this is likely the same Gaius who lived in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:14). Finally, two fairly early manuscripts of Romans have subscriptions (brief notes that a copyist added to the end of a document) which say that the letter was written from Corinth.[1]

This letter is arguably the most influential book in Christian history, perhaps in the history of Western civilization. But that doesn’t necessarily make it easy to read! While theologically minded people love it, others steer away from it (except for a few favorite passages), thinking it is too deep for them. But the overall argument and the reasons for it can be uncovered with a little spadework.

At issue is tension between Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome, who probably meet in separate house churches and who appear to be at odds regarding Gentile adherence to the Jewish law—especially over the three basic means of Jewish identity in the Diaspora: circumcision (2:25-3:1; 4:9-12), Sabbath observance, and food laws (14:1-23). What is at stake practically is whether Gentiles must observe the Jewish law on these points. What is at stake theologically is the gospel itself—whether “God’s righteousness” (= his righteous salvation that issues in right standing with God) comes by way of “doing” the law or by faith in Christ Jesus and the gift of the Spirit.

What drives the argument from beginning (1:16) to end (15:13) is expressed in the conclusion—that God might give Jews and Gentiles “the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had,” so that together “with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (15:5-6). The focus of the argument is on what makes such unity possible: God’s righteousness given to Jew and Gentile alike on the basis of faith in Christ Jesus and effected through the gift of the Spirit. This primary issue is surrounded by matters having to do with Paul’s hoped-for relationship with this church at the strategic center of the empire (1:1-15; 15:14-33), followed by a commendation of Phoebe (16:1-2) and greetings to friends (16:3-16), concluding with a final exhortation, greetings, and doxology (16:17-27).

The argument itself is in four major parts (1:16-4:25; 5:12-8:30; 9:1-11:32; 12:1-15:12), each of which concludes on a confessional note that also serves as a transition to the next part (5:1-11; 8:31-39; 11:33-36; 15:13). In turn the parts take up (1) the issue of human sinfulness, showing first its universality (Gentile and Jew alike, with the law offering no advantage to the Jew) and then the effectiveness of Christ in dealing with sin, so that right standing with God is based on faith alone—for which Abraham, the “father of us all” (4:16), serves as exhibit A; (2) how faith in Christ and the gift of the Spirit effect the kind of righteousness that the law intended but could not pull off, since it lacked the power to deal with human sinfulness; (3) how God is faithful despite Jewish unbelief, having a place for both Gentiles and Jews in the new “olive tree” (11:24); (4) what the righteousness effected by Christ and the Spirit (thus apart from the law) looks like in terms of relationships within the believing community and beyond. [2]

[1] ESV: Study Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles, 2008. 2151.

[2] Fee, Gordon D, and Douglas K. Stuart. How to Read the Bible Book by Book: A Guided Tour. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2002. 317-319.


  • Read the passages slowly. Write out the verses you want to remember. Write how God spoke to you through the passages.


  • Write a prayer of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication using specific phrases from today’s passages. 


Scroll to top