Updated: Mar 26
Introduction to the letter to the Romans
The epistle to the Romans can be a life changing study and has lead to many a salvation or revival over the centuries. Romans has changed the lives of a number great saints like Augustine, it took Martin Luther off his knees when climbing the stairs in penance to the Pope and the Spirit whispered to him ‘the just shall live by faith’ thus inspiring Luther to begin to launch the reformation. John Wesley was converted by reading Luther’s preface to Romans saying that his heart was ‘strangely warmed’.
The epistle to the Romans is the sixth book of the New Testament and was written by the Apostle Paul about AD56. Paul most likely wrote the letter from Corinth. Paul intended to visit the church in Rome once he had delivered the money collected for the church in Jerusalem. The letter was probably delivered to Rome by the deaconess Phoebe. The congregation was a mixture of Gentiles and Jews.This letter is considered by many to be the finest exposition of Christian doctrine in the NT. Although addressed to the church in Rome the themes of Romans are general and can be applied by all the churches both then and now.
Martin Luther’s summary of Romans translated from the German
We find in this letter, then, the richest possible teaching about what a Christian should know: the meaning of law, Gospel, sin, punishment, grace, faith, justice, Christ, God, good works, love, hope and the cross. We learn how we are to act toward everyone, toward the virtuous and sinful, toward the strong and the weak, friend and foe, and toward ourselves. Paul bases everything firmly on Scripture and proves his points with examples from his own experience and from the Prophets, so that nothing more could be desired. Therefore it seems that St. Paul, in writing this letter, wanted to compose a summary of the whole of Christian and evangelical teaching which would also be an introduction to the whole Old Testament. Without doubt, whoever takes this letter to heart possesses the light and power of the Old Testament. Therefore each and every Christian should make this letter the habitual and constant object of his study. God grant us his grace to do so. Amen .
I am unable to compete with Martin Luther’s summary above but in today’s terms I think that the most useful modern summaries of Romans include the idea that the epistle to the Romans is a systematic explanation of how the Gospel works!
May our hearts be ‘strangely warmed ‘as the Holy Spirit teaches us through this letter!
The translation I have chosen for this study is the Today’s New International Version (TNIV).
 Preface to the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans by Martin Luther, 1483-1546 Translated by Bro. Andrew Thornton, OSB
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