The central message of the letter to the Romans is: the Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (see Romans 1:16).
We all need salvation
Paul starts the letter to the Romans by showing that we all need salvation. Everybody can know there is an almighty God, but people are not honoring Him (Romans 1:19-21). The gentiles are idolaters and full of sexual sin (Romans 1:22-27). The Jews have the law of God, but they do not obey it and sin as well (Romans 2:17-24). All men are sinners, and therefore are under the judgment of God. There is no way that we can solve that problem ourselves. However hard we try, we cannot obtain salvation through obeying God: “by the works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight” (Romans 3:20).
Hope from God
After it is explained that there is no hope for us through the things that we do for God, we read that there is hope through what God did for us: we “are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). Not our works, but God’s grace brings salvation to those “who have faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). God justifies sinners. That means: He sees them in Christ, and in his eyes they are as righteous as Jesus was, because his righteousness is attributed to them. This is a wonderful proof of God’s love for us (Romans 5:8). Because He pours out love in our hearts (Romans 5:6), our lives are full of hope and rejoicing. We are no longer enemies with God, but friends!
Friends with God
When we have received forgiveness of sin and have become friends with God, how should we then live? You “must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). We are no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to God. As a result, we live a holy life and are on our way to eternal life (Romans 6:22).
Serving God in the new way of the Spirit
Paul then explains that we serve God “in the new way of the Spirit” (Romans 7:6), and no longer in the old way of the law, because the law could never lead us to salvation. Yet he acknowledges that sin still dwells within him (Romans 7:17). Even when he wants to do good, he does not have the power to do it. The fight between sin and obedience to God always remains in the life of a believer. Yet we rejoice that those who believe in Jesus will not be condemned (Romans 8:1).
Pleasing God by obeying Him
The doctrinal part of Romans ends with chapter 8. We read how believers are filled by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:9). Because the Spirit lives in us, we please God by obeying Him (Romans 8:9); we can be sure of the resurrection of the body when Jesus returns (Romans 8:11); and we know we are beloved children of God (Romans 8:16). This is all such a wonderful proof of God’s love for us that Paul ends Roman 8 with this joyful exclamation that we may celebrate with him: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
God’s relationship with Israel
In chapters 9-11, the apostle Paul says he has “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” in his heart because of his people, the Israelites. They have a special position as God’s chosen people. The Lord revealed Himself primarily to them, He made a covenant with them, gave them so many prophecies and Jesus Christ was born from their race. However, most Israelites reject Him. They don’t believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah. That makes Paul very sad, since their eternal redemption is at stake here. However, Paul says, “God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew” (Romans 11:2). One day, “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26) and there will be one church worldwide consisting of Israelites and Gentiles (people from other nations).
A life for God
In the last chapters of his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul urges his readers to be transformed by the renewal of their mind and to fully devote themselves to God (Romans 12:1-2). He then writes about various aspects of this renewed life to God’s glory: spiritual gifts, brotherly love, submission to the authorities and mutual acceptance within churches.
After explaining his travel plans and exchanging greetings, Paul ends his letter as follows:
“To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.” (Romans 16:27)