Romans 1-8 Summary1
January 12, 2014
A Problem You Can't Solve Yourself.
1:16-17: 2:5-11; 3:9-12
The Gift you can’t give yourself.
A Love You Can Experience.
An Identity You must Embrace.
A Fight You Can’t Win by Yourself.
A Life You Can’t Live on Your Own
The Letter that is Different
There is an obvious difference between Paul‘s Letter to the Romans and his other letters both of atmosphere and of method. When Paul wrote to the church at Rome, he was writing to a church with
whose founding he had had nothing whatever to do and with which he had had no personal contact
Romans, of all Paul‘s letters, comes nearest to being a theological treatise. In almost all his other
letters, he is dealing with some immediate problem, some pressing situation, some current error,
some threatening danger, which was causing trouble for the church to which he was writing. Romans is the nearest approach to a systematic exposition of Paul‘s own theological position.
All his life, Paul had been haunted by the thought of Rome. It had always been one of his dreams to
preach there. When he is in Ephesus, he was planning to go through Achaea and Macedonia again,
and then he wrote a sentence that comes obviously straight from the heart: ―After I have gone there,
I must also see Rome.‖ (Acts 19:21.) When he was up against things in Jerusalem, and the situation
looked threatening and the end seemed near, he had one of those visions that always lifted up his
heart. In that vision, the Lord stood by him and said, ‗Keep up your courage! For just as you have
testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome.
No claim of authorship is made. While some of the work is original, the majority is drawn from combined sources.
When he wrote the Letter to the Romans, the date was sometime in the year AD 58, and he was in
Corinth planning to take the offerings he had collected in Asia to the poor Christians in Jerusalem
who were suffering persecution.
His object was twofold: 1. To mobilize the prayers of the Church before he embarked on this perilous undertaking and 2. to establish Rome as his new base of operations for evangelizing the Roman
world, starting with Spain. He wrote this letter to set out for the church at Rome an account of the
very essence of his belief, in order that, when the time came for action, he might find in Rome a
sympathetic church from which the lines of communication might go out to Spain and the West.
Romans is an example of God having a larger purpose in his inspiration of Biblical writers. While
we have stated Paul‘s conscious reasons, may I submit that perhaps one of God‘s reasons in so inspiring Paul was to set out in organized form, the basic theology of the New Testament so we would
have it. In is trite to say, but the New Testament is a brilliant document giving all that is needed to
believe in Christ and practice what He preached. The Gospels set out who Christ is, what He taught
and what He requires; The Acts chronicle how the early Church wrestled with these ideas; and the
Epistles set out the theological structure for life and the practical principles for the living out of
As we have studied, in Chapters 1–8, Paul deals with the problem of ―righteousness‖ defined as a
―right relationship with God‖ and how to achieve it. The righteous person is someone who is in a
right relationship with God, and whose life shows it.
Like a surveyor setting a ―point of beginning,‖ Paul begins with a survey of the Gentile world. He
uses this survey to establish the common understanding of all his readers, the basis upon which he
That survey revealed that the Greek world had become corrupt to the core. It was so corrupt that
even they knew it. Many of the contemporary Greek and Roman writers, let alone the Christian
and Jewish writers, acknowledged the corruption of the world and its dire need of a Savior. The
world then, as today, had devolved into moral bankruptcy.
For about 500 years, the Greeks sought to solve the problem intellectually; the Roman Republic
and late Empire sought to solve it by force of arms; and in Old Testament times, during the intertestamentary times and continuing into Paul‘s time, the Church Age, the Jews had sought to solve
the problem of righteousness by meticulous obedience to the law. As we all know, Paul had tried
that way himself, and his efforts only resulted in frustration and defeat.
As a complete Grace-gift of God, He reveals to Paul the way to righteousness in the way of complete trust and total submission to Christ. Paul has learned that Christ not only turned the world upside down socially, but philosophically as well. With Christ, Paul learned, what is up is down, what
is right is wrong, and what is given away is all that is left. The only way to a right relationship with
God is to take him at his word, and to cast ourselves, just as we are, on His mercy and love. It is the
way of faith. It is to know that the important thing is not what we can do for God but what He has
done for us.
For Paul, the center of the Christian faith was the basic spiritual fact that we can never earn or deserve the favor of God, nor, in fact, do we even need to. The whole matter is one purely of grace,
and all that we can do is to accept this Grace in wondering love and gratitude and trust what God
has done for us.
That does not, however free us from obligations to actually do what is right in God‘s eyes nor does
it entitle us to do anything we like; it means that we must forever try to be worthy of the love which
does so much for us. If you find this a strange thing, then you need to examine your relationship
with Christ. In theory, if you truly love Him, returning that love by doing what He says will be our
chief aim in life. I realize that no matter how much we love the Lord, we still have a sin nature that
will always attempt to surface and take control of our actions. While God sees us as ―righteous‖
now because of the Blood of Jesus, our physical righteousness or total sanctification is yet to come.
The problem of the Jews was a torturing one, especially for Paul, the Jew of Jews and Pharisee of
Pharisees. In a real sense, they were God‘s chosen people; and yet, when his Son had come into the
world, they had rejected him. What possible explanation could there be for this heartbreaking fact?
The only explanation that Paul could find was that, in the end, it was all God‘s doing. Somehow, the
hearts of the Jews had been hardened. In the end, it would be the despised Gentiles that would bring
in the Jews and they could be saved. Paul acknowledges his call as the Apostle to them.
Paul insists that the real Jew is not someone whose flesh-and-blood descent can be traced to Abraham, but someone who has made the same decision of complete submission to God in the same loving faith that Abraham made. The new Israel was not dependent on race at all; it was composed of
those who had the same faith that Abraham had. This is not to say that the Church has replaced
Israel as God‘s chosen people nor that God doesn‘t mean to fulfill his promises to Israel.
What the Scripture Says.
Find the right person to compare yourself to, and you can come off looking good. Set your standards low enough and you‘ll come out on top. But how do you fare when God sets the standard?
God‘s standard—a standard of perfect righteousness—is the only one that matters. Regardless of
how good we might think we are, we fall far short of this standard. The Bible makes this abundantly clear, but it also makes the solution clear.
It has been said that the Law lays down what we must do, but the gospel lays down what God has
already done. In that regard, Paul, in Romans, gives us an opportunity to exam how to deal with
our desire for a ‗Do Over‘ in life.
First, we all are in need of Salvation.
Q: What is salvation?
READ: Romans 1:16 through 17.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God‘s power for salvation to
everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.
17 For in it God‘s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written:
The righteous will live by faith.
In this passage, we see:
The gospel is nothing to be ashamed of;
God gives us power for salvation through the gospel;
The gospel is for everyone; God‘s righteousness is revealed.
Barclay observes of salvation:
There had been a time when Greek philosophy was speculative. Up to 500 years earlier, much time had been spent discussing the problem: what is the one basic element of
which the world is composed? Philosophy had been speculative philosophy and it had
been natural philosophy. But, bit by bit, as the centuries passed, life collapsed on itself.
The old landmarks were destroyed. Tyrants and conquerors and perils surrounded
people; degeneracy and weakness haunted them; and philosophy changed its emphasis.
It became not speculative but practical. It ceased to be natural philosophy and became moral philosophy. Its one aim was to build a ring-wall of defence against the advancing chaos of the world.[The Stoic philosopher,] Epictetus called his lecture room
‗the hospital for the sick soul‘. Epicurus called his teaching ‗the medicine of salvation‘.
[The Roman,] Seneca, who was contemporary with Paul, said that everyone was looking
ad salutem, towards salvation. What we needed, he said, was ‗a hand let down to lift us
up‘. People were overwhelmingly conscious of ‗their weakness and their inefficiency in
necessary things‘. He described himself as homo non tolerabilis, a man not to be tolerated. ―People loved their vices,‖ he added with a sort of despair, ―and hated them at the
same time.‖ In that desperate world, they were seeking a peace described by Epictetus as
being ‗not of Caesar‘s proclamation, but of God‘s‘.
There can seldom have been a time in history when men and women were more universally searching for salvation. It was precisely that salvation, that power, that escape,
that [Christ] came to offer.
Q: What‘s the Point of the first session? In Romans 1, we learn that ―you can‘t meet God‘s
standard on your own.‖ The standard we‘re talking about is God‘s perfect standard of righteousness.
This righteousness from God is available through Jesus Christ.
This righteousness from God cannot be earned.
This righteousness is received by believing.
In chapter 2, Paul focused on people who believed they were already ―righteous‖ and thus,
did not need a Savior.
READ Romans 2:5 through 11.
5 But because of your hardness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for
yourself in the day of wrath, when God‘s righteous judgment is revealed. 6 He will
repay each one according to his works: 7 eternal life to those who by persistence in
doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but wrath and indignation to those
who are self through seeking and disobey the truth but are obeying unrighteousness;9 affliction and distress for every human being who does evil, first to the Jew,
and also to the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does what is
good, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. 11 There is no favoritism with God.
Q: In 2:5-11, what ―works‖ is Paul talking about? Religious Jews and moral Gentiles
agreed with Paul‘s condemnation of sinful perversions but failed to see their own need to
receive God‘s righteousness by faith. Paul attributed that failure to a hardness and unrepentant heart. The only ―work‖ that Paul is considering is that of trusting in God as their only
Saviour. In other places, we learn that even this is not a ―work‖ of man, but rather a mere response to the call of the Spirit of God. Note the sobering nature of this passage: None of us,
on our own, before, now, or in the future is or ever will be righteous.
READ: Romans 3:9 through 12.
9 What then? Are we any better? Not at all! For we have previously charged that
both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin,
10 as it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one.
11 There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away; all alike have become useless. There is no one who does
what is good, not even one.
In Romans 3:20, Paul finished his indictment of us all when he said that none of us is justified by works of the law. Trying to meet God‘s standard of righteousness by our works is like
trying to cool off on a sweltering day by fanning ourselves with a funeral home fan. It‘s woefully insufficient. In 3:21, note the words, ―but now.‖
READ: Romans 3:20, 21. ―21 But now, apart from the law, God‘s righteousness has been
revealed—attested by the Law and the Prophets.‖
Q: Why are the words ‗But now‘ so significant? ―Our ‗but now‘ moments can be lifechanging. Paul went on to identify God‘s ‗but now‘ gift—righteousness through faith in Christ.‖
READ: Romans 3:22-26.
22 —that is, God‘s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe,
since there is no distinction.
23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
25 God presented Him as propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate
His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously
26 God presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that
He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.
Importantly, this passage is the key to understanding life itself.
All men need salvation;
Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
Salvation is for all who believe.
Q: What is righteousness? In v. 21), it refers to being right before God. People only become righteous as God declares them so. It is a judicial term. It means being found ―not guilty‖ even though
you might, in fact, be very guilty. It is the view from the bench that you are not guilty. On the basis
of what Christ has accomplished for sinners on the cross, God now views those who believe in
Christ from an eschatological perspective.
That is, He sees them not as they are but as they will be in Christ. He sees them as He sees Christ:
perfect, holy, and without sin (compare 2 Cor. 5:21). God‘s justification of those who believe is
provided ―freely by his grace‖ (3:24).
We do not become righteous, but we are declared righteous. The distinction is important
This distinction is important because Evil is always nearby. Evil wants believers to feel very
proud of themselves. Evil wants us to think that surely God gave us this wonderful gift because He saw something good in us. Paul punctures this balloon.
READ: Romans 3:27-28.
27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By one of works?
No, on the contrary, by a law of faith. 28 For we conclude that a man is justified by
faith apart from the works of the law.
Note Paul‘s continued contrast between law and faith. Paul wanted his fellow Jews to
understand that they had no advantage in salvation because of their position and possession
of the law.‖ (See 2:17-20,23.) Paul‘s emphasis on his fellow Jews having no grounds to boast
can also make us who are long-time churchgoers sit up and take notice. We should resist the
temptation to boast about our religious practices.
The concept of justification by faith in Christ alone apart from any works can become a
stumbling block for people in two significant ways:
1. Some people cannot accept the truth that salvation is a gift. So, they try to store up good
deeds to outweigh the bad like building good Karma.
2. Others believe in accepting the gift by faith but believe they must keep their salvation secure by their good works.
In Romans 5:6-11,18-21, Paul tells us that even at our best, we are not good enough and even at
our worst, God loves us.
In Romans 4, he illustrated that truth from the life of Abraham.
In Romans 5, Paul showed us the result of that justification: we have peace with God meaning that we have been fully reconciled to God and given eternal life in Christ.
READ: Romans 5:6-8.
6 For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps
someone might even dare to die.
8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ
died for us!
The Sages and the Rabbis said there was a difference in ―righteous‖ or ―just‖ and ―good,‖
and gradations of each. A ―righteous‖ man was one that kept the law. Motive or reputation
was irrelevant. A ―good man‖ was one who may or may not have kept the law all the time,
but was considered as ―good‖ or perhaps, ―beloved‖ by his fellow men. It is probably the
second class of which Paul speaks. Sometimes, ―righteous‖ persons are not so well liked.
Nobody wants to die for a ―holier-than-thou‖ jerk. However, a ―good‖ man is a different
thing. In an emotional act, we may give up our lives for a ―good‖ man.
We, on the other hand, are neither ―righteous‖ nor good.‖ That being the case, one of the
many gifts God‘s love gives to us is reconciliation, and Jesus is the One who put us back on
friendly terms with God.
READ: Romans 5:9-11 to see the re-connection Jesus gives to us.
9 Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we
will be saved through Him from wrath.
10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of
His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His
11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We
have now received this reconciliation through Him.
Q: What is ―Reconciliation?‖ Reconciliation is restoration of friendly relationships where pre-
viously there existed resentment and estrangement.
Note the word enemies in verse 10. Consider your feelings for our nation‘s enemies in wars
past and up to the present day. It is hard to imagine being worse than to be one of God‘s enemies, but even as enemies, God still loves us
When we‘ve lived a long time, we‘ve seen lots of tragedy, and it can seem that sin continues
to multiply. But Paul said ‗where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more.‘
READ: Romans 5:18-21.
18 So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also
through one righteous act there is life-giving justification for everyone.
19 For just as through one man‘s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also
through the one man‘s obedience the many will be made righteous.
20 The law came along to multiply the trespass. But where sin multiplied, grace
multiplied even more
21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now, we turn to an identity you must embrace where we learn from Romans 6 that Sin is no longer
your master; Christ is.
READ: Read Romans 6:8-11.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him,
9 because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die
again. Death no longer rules over Him.
10 For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in light of the
fact that He lives, He lives to God.
11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
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Jesus died to sin and is alive to God. Because of what Jesus did, Paul demanded that all believers see themselves in the same way.
Q: If we‘ve been given a new identity, why are we so tempted to serve our old master? We
must be vigilant in our stand against sin.
Read Romans 6:12-14.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires.
13 And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who
are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as
weapons for righteousness.
14 For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace.
Before Christ saved us, we were bound to obey our old master. We were under sin‘s power. It
reigned over us. Those who have received God‘s grace through faith in Christ have been set
free to live in the beauty and power of Jesus‘ righteous character and actions. We must
choose daily to say ―NO!‖ to our old master and ―YES!‖ to Jesus our Lord!
Read Romans 6:15-18.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires.
13 And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as
those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of
yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness.
14 For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace.
Paul was very forceful in standing against anyone who claimed that salvation by grace
through faith actually promoted sin. It does the opposite. Grace creates a righteous lifestyle in
the person who trusts Christ. We are right back to thinking about the master we serve.
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In Romans 6, Paul wrote that our freedom from sin is not a license to sin. In Romans 7, Paul
pointed out that while we are free in Christ from the law, the law does a good thing in pointing out
our sinfulness and thus pointing us to Christ. We still struggle with sin, but deliverance comes
Now, in Romans 7:14-8:2, Paul leads us to ―A Fight You Can't Win By Yourself.‖ Life is a struggle,
one that we are bound to lose unless . . .
Read Romans 7:14-23
14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am made out of flesh, sold into sin‘s
15 For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want
to do, but I do what I hate.
16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good.
17 So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me.
18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to
do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it.
19 For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not
want to do.
20 Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin
that lives in me.
21 So I discover this principle: When I want to do what is good, evil is with me.
22 For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God‘s law.
23 But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of
my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body.
In verse 14, Paul contrasted his life as a believer to the Law of Moses. He sharply pointed
out that the law is spiritual, but he was not. In fact, Paul described himself as one made out
of flesh, sold into sin‘s power. The difference between the two is stunning.
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The Law is not evil. On the contrary, the Law is good because it originated with God Himself. Paul viewed himself as sinful in comparison. Through the rest of that passage, Paul
continues the theme of the struggle that he, in his flesh, and we, in our flesh, are bound to
lose. In the next passage, Paul tells us how it will all work out.
Read Romans 7:24–8:2
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body?
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a
slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.
8:1 Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus,
2 because the Spirit‘s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin
and of death.
Finally, in our last lesson we learn about the gift of the Holy Spirit who empowers us.
Read Romans 8:8-13.
8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in
you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
10 Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He
who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through
His Spirit who lives in you.
12 So then, brothers, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh,
13 for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit
you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
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Note the emphasis Paul placed on believers having the Holy Spirit dwelling within them.
Flesh equals death; Spirit equals life. So then, how can I know that I am saved?
―By Dispelling Fear‖
―By Inner Testimony.
READ Romans 8:14-17.
14 All those led by God‘s Spirit are God‘s sons.
15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received
the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, ―Abba, Father!‖
16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God‘s children,
17 and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we
suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
How wonderful it is to be God‘s children. We all know that children need an advocate.
Thanks be to God, because we are weak children, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us.‖
READ Romans 8:26-27.
26 In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not
know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with
27 And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit‘s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God
Summation. Our journey of faith is a long one. We who are up in years know that better than
most. It takes a lifetime, and thankfully, God did not leave us to travel alone. His Spirit is in
us to strengthen us until the very last step Hallelujah! FINIS.
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