There are five major themes in the body of Paul’s letter to the Romans. 1: The pervasive need for justification/salvation (Rom. 1:18-3:20). 2: Justification/salvation through faith (Rom. 3:21-4:25).
3: The new life of grace in Christ (Rom. 5:1-8-39).
4: The role of Israel in God’s salvific plan (Rom. 9:1-11:36). 5: Ethical exhortation (Rom. 12:1-15:33). (130).
Many scholars believe that Pauline theology is at the heart of the New Testament witness and Christian faith. It represents the oldest detailed statement of a coherent Christian theology available to us. (Ludwig et al. p.127). As “apostle of the nations” …he understood that all people are called by God to a very great glory” (The Pontifical Biblical Commision.144). Paul’s whole teaching in Romans is captured in the following words. “I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For in it, the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith…The righteous by faith shall live” (Rom. 1: 16- 17).
The need for Salvation: (Rom. 1:18-3:20).
Paul begins by stating that the entire human creation rejected God and followed natural desires necessitating the judgment and anger of God. He declares that all have sinned. “There is no one just, not one, there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God. All have gone astray; all alike are worthless; there is not one who does good, there is not even one” (Rom. 3:10-12). All the people of the earth both Jew and Gentile are guilty; they all rejected the truth and turned their back on their creator. Therefore all human sin are to be judged by God without any form of partiality. He strongly asserts that, “In the face of this pervasive and powerful sinfulness, the Law, the Torah of Judaism, cannot save”. (Ludwig et al. p.131).
Justification through faith: (Rom. 3:21-4:25).
The good news is that a righteous God did not allow sinful humanity to perish in sin. For while the human race is sinful but God is righteous; “the revelation of righteousness begins in God’s faithfulness to humans and is answered by their obedient acceptance.” (Johnson 307). Humanity once in enmity with God is now both reconciled and united with God through the death of Christ. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (1:18, 8:1). Paul expresses his deep conviction that by faith alone, in Christ alone, we are saved. “The just shall live by faith” (Rom.1:17). We are justified through faith in the saving work of Christ. Justification means that “those who believe in Jesus Christ are declared to be members of the true covenant family which of course means that their sins are forgiven, since that was the purpose of the covenant.” (Wright pg.141). When anyone believes in Christ, God declares that person to be righteous. The Christians have been saved and free from condemnation and God’s wrath, Rather than condemn the sinner God through the act of grace absolves the sinner of sin and accepts the sinner as righteous because of the righteousness of Christ. We are justified when we place our faith in the saving works of God in Jesus Christ. Since God’s righteousness comes by gift, every form of human grasping misses the mark. (307). In this sense, “Faith is the source of the righteousness, but it is also the goal of righteousness”. (Stifler 21-22). Through faith, the gulf between God and humanity was bridged. Thus faith alone justifies- 4:9-12. Faith alone leads to justification and not works. While it is necessary to carry out outward religious observances, those are not in themselves able to save or justify us. Our good works are not able to save us; we are saved because Jesus died for the salvation of all people.
New life of grace in Christ: (Rom. 5:1-8-39).
Paul also deals with the new relationship that the redeemed have with God. “If anyone is in...