Sunday School Bible Survey:      ROMANS

Theme: The Gospel of God (1:1)

Key word: Righteousness (occurs 39 times)

Key verse: "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith" (1:17).

From the Scofield Study Bible:

WRITER: The Apostle Paul (1:1)

DATE: Romans, the sixth in chronological order of Paul's Epistles, was written from Corinth during the apostle's third visit to that city (II Cor. 13:1), in A.D. 60. The Epistle has its occasion in the intention of the apostle soon to visit Rome. Naturally, he would wish to announce before his coming the distinctive truths which had been revealed to and through him. He would desire the Christians in Rome to have his own statement of the great doctrines of grace so bitterly assailed everywhere by legalistic teachers.

THEME: The theme of Romans is "the Gospel of God" (1:1), the very widest possible designation of the whole body of redemption truth, for it is He with whom is "no respect of persons"; and who is not "the God of the Jews only," but "of the Gentiles also" (2:11; 3:29). Accordingly, "all the world" is found guilty (3:19), and a redemption is revealed as wide as the need, upon the alone condition of faith. Not only does Romans embody in the fullest way the doctrines of grace in relation to salvation, but in three remarkable chapters (9-11) the great promises to Israel are reconciled with the promises concerning the Gentiles, and the fulfilment of the former shown to await the completion of the church and coming of the Deliverer out of Zion (11:25-27). The key-phrase is "the righteousness of God" (1:17; 3:21, 22).

The Epistle, exclusive of the introduction (1:1-17), is in seven parts:

  1. The whole world guilty before God (1:18—3:20).
  2. Justification through the righteousness of God by faith, the Gospel remedy for guilt (3:21—5:11).
  3. Crucifixion with Christ, the resurrection life of Christ, and the walk in the Spirit, the Gospel provision for inherent sin (5:12—8:13).
  4. The full result in blessing of the Gospel (8:14-39).
  5. Parenthesis: the Gospel does not abolish the covenant promises to Israel (9:1—11:36).
  6. Christian life and service (12:1—15:33).
  7. The outflow of Christian love (16:1-27).

Introduction and Outline:

  1. The Epistle to the Romans has been called the magnum opus of the apostle Paul.
  2. Martin Luther called it the "true masterpiece of the New Testament," and William R. Newell said, "Romans is the Gospel."
  3. John Phillips said, "A good grasp of this vital epistle is essential to all those who would tell others of Christ and lead them into a full gospel experience" (Exploring the Scriptures).
  4. J. Vernon McGee divided the book of Romans into three major divisions:
        (1) Doctrinal, chapters 1-8
        (2) Dispensational, chapters 9-11
        (3) Duty, chapters 12-16
  5. Someone else has divided the epistle this way: sin (1:1—3:20), salvation (3:21—5:21), sanctification (6—8), sovereignty (9—11), service (12—16).
  6. The first three chapters show that man is a sinner. Sin is the subject from chapter 1:18 through 3:20. Paul does not attempt to prove that man is a sinner, he just makes it as a statement of fact.
  7. McGee said, "That God's wrath is revealed against sin is an historical fact. Just to cite one instance, Sodom and Gomorrah were cities destroyed by God because of their sin. They reached the place of perversion which is always characteristic of a degraded civilization. America, by the way, has come to that place today. It is at that time that God gives them up, that God judges a nation. You go back and read the history of Greece - the literature of Greece became extremely vile toward the end, like our literature today - and you will find that God gave them up" (McGee,
  8. Jew and Gentile alike are condemned before God. "What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin" (3:9).
  9. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (3:23).
  10. Romans 4 and 5 deal with the great doctrine of justification by faith.
  11. Romans 6, 7, and 8 deal with sanctification and the believer's victory over sin.
  12. In Romans 9—11, Paul affirms the restoration of Israel, and explains that the time will come when God will fulfill all His glorious promises to His chosen people.
  13. "And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (11:26).
  14. The closing chapters of the epistle (12—16) are practical. After eleven chapters of doctrinal teaching, Paul says, "I beseech you therefore..." (12:1).
  15. This practical section, beginning with chapter 12, deals with important matters such as consecration, service in the local church, submitting to authority, godly living, dealing with questionable things, and the judgment seat of Christ.
  16. Matthew Henry described the final five chapters this way: "The practical part follows, wherein we find, (1) Several general exhortations proper for all Christians, chapter 12. (2) Directions for our behaviour, as members of civil society, chapter 13. (3) Rules for the conduct of Christians to one another, as members of the Christian church, chapters 14, and chapter 15:1-14."
  17. Matthew Henry says, "As he draws towards a conclusion, he makes an apology for writing to them (chapter 15:14-16), gives them an account of himself and his own affairs (vss. 17-21), promises them a visit (vss. 22-29), begs their prayers (vss. 30-32), sends particular salutations to many friends there (chapter 16:1-16), warns them against those who caused divisions (vss. 17-20), adds the salutations of his friends with him (vss. 21-23), and ends with a benediction to them and a doxology to God (vss. 24-27).

These are simple Sunday School survey notes. They are not for sale. The author used many outlines from popular Bible teachers such as C.I. Scofield and J. Vernon McGee, and he has tried to give credit when using their material.

—  Pastor James J. Barker  —