Romans was written in A.D. 57 during Paul’s three months in Corinth (“Greece”) in Acts 20:2–3. He had apparently received the funds promised by the Corinthians to help relieve the famine for believers in Jerusalem (Romans 15:25–26; cf. 1 Corinthians 16:1–4; 2 Corinthians 8–9). Paul hoped to visit the Romans on his way to Spain (Romans 15:28), and, in his eagerness to preach the gospel to them, gave them a letter explaining the gospel in full (cf. Romans 1:15–17).
After an introduction (Romans 1:1–17), Paul begins to explain the gospel in that all men naturally reject what they know of God’s power through His creation, resulting in God’s handing them over to sin (Romans 1:18–32). But, the Jews are no more faithful because they were given the Law—all men have sinned, something made obvious by the law and even by the conscience of the sinner (Romans 2:1–3:20).
The sinner can only be declared righteous by God through faith, whether he is a Jew or Gentile (Romans 3:21–31). Abraham believed and was declared righteous, and he didn’t even have the Law (Romans 4:1–25). So, one can have peace, grace, and rejoicing to know that he is reconciled to God through Christ (Romans 5:1–11). Just as death came to all through Adam’s sin, so also life and righteousness are to all who believe in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:12–21).
Having this saving grace, the believer is a slave to righteousness and should not think that he can just sin because he saved or because Christ has fulfilled the Law (Romans 6:1–21). The Law makes the believer very aware of his sin (Romans 7:1–25), but the Spirit enables him to live as pleasing to God (Romans 8:1–17). Since God’s salvation work for him from eternity past to future is certain, so also is his sanctification and perseverance (Romans 8:28–39).
Applying the gospel to national Israel, though Israel was given many privileges, her present unbelief is in line with the purposes of God (Romans 9:1–33). Rather than trying to secure eternal life by the Law as Israel has done, righteousness comes by faith and confessing Christ, which requires preachers of the Word (Romans 10:1–21). So, while Israel is presently rejecting Christ, the nation was yet chosen for salvation, and there is a remnant who believes right now (Romans 11:1–10). Israel’s rejection is not permanent—God will save and bring her back to the place of blessing just as He is doing for the Gentiles in this present age (Romans 11:11–36).
Those who know this saving mercy of God are responsible to live righteously in a variety ways: by presenting themselves as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1–2); by thinking of themselves according to their measure of faith (Romans 12:3–8); by loving, serving, being patient, and blessing others (Romans 12:9–21); by submitting to their authorities and paying their taxes (Romans 13:1–7); by loving each other and their neighbors (Romans 13:8–10); by living in light of Christ’s coming (Romans 13:11–14); and by welcoming each other as Christ has welcomed us, and doing so in spite of differing convictions in matters of Christian living (Romans 14:1–15:13).
In concluding his letter, Paul stated that he wrote boldly as an apostle of Christ and clarified his mission to preach where Christ was not known (Romans 15:14–21). He clarified his travel plans and asked for prayer (Romans 15:22–33). He commended Phoebe and gave greetings to many in Rome (Romans 16:1–16). Paul warned them to stay away from false teachers (Romans 16:17–20), and greetings were sent from his company to the Romans (Romans 16:21–23). Finally, Paul closed with a doxology (Romans 16:25–27).