by Chuck Missler

The Epistle to the Romans is a cornerstone in the Scriptures. Sometimes called the Gospel according to Paul, it is the most comprehensive book in the New Testament. If you are going to study the New Testament seriously, you must diligently address this book.

Romans was written at the close of Paul’s third missionary journey during the three months he was in Greece (Acts 20) in either the late winter or the early spring of AD 57 or 58. This was just before he returned to Jerusalem with the offering from the Macedonian churches.

The historical impact of Romans is probably unequaled by any other book. The Church thrived on the great truths of God’s grace until grace began to erode into forms of legalism, plunging the world into the Dark Ages from the 6th to the 16th centuries.

The Great Reformation brought grace back into the picture. "By grace are we saved through faith." The Epistle to the Romans really altered the whole course of the world.

The book of Romans has a very international outlook. Paul was a Roman citizen. Since he was educated in Tarsus, he had a Greek cultural background and was well learned in the Greek philosophers. He was also a "Hebrew of the Hebrews," taught by Gamaliel himself, who was among the most venerated of the rabbis. Paul was bright, lettered, and intellectual, yet he was also very sensitive. He knew how to reach people; he tailored his message to his audience.

This book will delight the greatest logician; it will hold the attention of the wisest of men; yet, it will bring the humblest soul to tears of repentance at the feet of the Savior. Romans emphasizes that a God small enough for our mind is not large enough for our need.

The name Paul means "the least; the little one." He, of all writers, really understood the grace of God. He acknowledged that he himself was the chief of sinners, and yet he was the most devoutly religious man who ever lived. But if he was the most religious man who ever lived, and yet could also call himself the chief of sinners, that’s really good news for you and I. God has already saved one far worse than us, by Paul’s own testimony in the Scriptures. He was the chief of sinners, and God saved him.

Romans wasn’t written to the world, but to believers. It wasn’t written to the church at Rome, but to the individuals, to the believers, who were in Rome. This letter does not preach to the unsaved; the unsaved are never called "God’s beloved," a term reserved for God’s own children. Romans is intended to teach the saints. What are saints? I prefer Donald Grey Barnhouse’s definition:

Saints are a group of displaced persons, uprooted from their natural home, and on their way to an extraterrestrial destination, not of this planet, neither in its roots or in its ideals.

That describes us. If you feel a little estranged sometimes, rejoice in that. When you pick up the newspaper and see all of the nonsense and evil in the world, you can take comfort that we are just passing through.

Paul’s Epistle to the Romans is the definitive statement of Christian doctrine and can command a lifetime of study in itself. It will challenge the greatest minds and philosophers, and yet any of us can understand it and embrace its precepts.