1. The Apostle Paul wrote the book of Romans.
There are 27 books in the New Testament, Paul wrote 13 of them—that’s more than half!
2. Many consider Romans to be the most significant of Paul’s works.
Romans is his biggest book, and it covers more subjects than his other writings.
3. Romans is a letter.
What’s the difference between a poem, a textbook, a social media post, a letter, or a song? Each “kind” (or genre) of writing has a different purpose—this is why we read them differently.
Reading a letter is like listening to one side of a phone call. You can understand most of the conversation, but you can’t hear both sides of the conversation.
Let’s say you wrote a letter to your sister, and at the end, you wrote, “P.S. Dad is happy these days; he’s been spending plenty of time in the garage.” You wouldn’t need to explain why your dad was happy or what he was doing—you both know that your dad loves working on his car. If someone read that sentence a thousand years from now, they wouldn’t have the context to understand your dad’s hobby. And they might not even know what “P.S.” stands for!
4. Romans is a type of letter called an epistle.
Let’s go a little deeper: There are many different kinds of letters. An acceptance letter from a university is different from a personal letter from your grandma, and both are different than a letter from the Internal Revenue Service!
Epistles were meant to be read publicly and passed around to other churches in the area. In a way, an epistle is like a social media post that was intended to go viral. Paul’s letters weren’t just personal; he wrote them to teach people about Jesus.
5. Ancient letters were heard, not read.
Paul wrote the letter knowing that most of his audience would HEAR it, not READ it.
Additionally, they heard the entire letter at once. They didn’t read a few sentences and then catch the rest next week!
Imagine listening to all 16 chapters of Romans being read to you. It would have taken 2-3 hours! This is why it’s important to reach large sections of Scripture before digging into a smaller section.
6. Paul had a radical background.
Paul was an accomplished Jewish scholar and religious leader. He was intense for God! So much so that he persecuted Christians to the point of killing them. On the road to Damascus, Jesus appeared to Paul and changed his life. In repentance, Paul refocused his intensity on building the church he tried to destroy.
If you want to understand Romans, you need to know two things about Paul. First, he had a deep understanding of God’s Word. Second, Paul had a radical, life-changing encounter with God’s grace. Paul knew who God was, and Paul knew himself: an imperfect sinner in need of God’s grace.
7. Paul didn’t start the church in Rome.
Paul devoted his life to planting churches. In the New Testament, all of Paul’s other letters were to churches he started—except Rome. This letter preceded his visit to the church in Rome.
This may explain why Romans is Paul’s longest, and most organized, letter—he had a lot to explain to people he didn’t know. In this letter, Paul wasn’t building on a foundation he had built; in a sense, he was starting from scratch.
8. Romans is about the Gospel.
Romans is a large book. And Paul wrote to a group of people whom he didn’t know personally. Therefore, it stands to reason that he wanted to communicate the essentials of the Christian faith. Although this book covers a ton of subjects, Romans 1:16-17 gives us a good summary of the whole book:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”