We are starting a new study in Romans, covering the first three chapters. Before we dive in, do you have everything you need to “study inductively?” This link will lead you to the details of the Inductive Bible Study Method (IBSM) if you are not already familiar with it. You will need this material when we begin studying Romans 1 in our next study.
For today, though, you will need the Romans 1 – 3 Overview Worksheet which you can download from the Study Material Library. Sign up to the Insiders Pod and the password will be sent to you immediately. You will also receive regular email in your inbox on a biweekly basis keeping you up-to-date on the blog.
Once you have the Romans 1 – 3 Overview Worksheet and your Bible, we will be ready to begin.
Romans 1 – 3 Overview
Since this is an overview of these three chapters, we will touch on highlights as we go along. You may want to take notes on the Romans Ch 1 – 3 Overview.
Paul did not have a ‘church plant’ in Rome as the church was already founded by his co-workers, though it is not sure who the founder is. Though Paul did not build this church, he felt the need to break his own rule of “not building on another man’s foundation”, 2 Corinthians 10:16 as he sent a letter to the believers in Rome.
As you read through the first three chapters, you will notice mention of Jews and Gentiles who made up the Roman church. Paul is aware of both the Jews and Gentile believers as he often addresses them together and also separately. In reference to Jews, he would remind them of Old Testament Scriptures that they would be familiar with.
There is much debate as to the reason why Paul wrote to the Roman Church and we’re not going to get into that here but for sure, he wrote to a Christian community that needed to hear what he had to say.
In Romans 1:1, Paul identified himself as the author of the letter, giving his credentials as “a servant of Jesus Christ.” Remember in the Old Testament how servants who chose to remain with their masters (after their obligation was fulfilled), would have their ear pierced to the door of the masters home? This represented servanthood of choice.
Paul, in his salutation, was stating his position as a servant of choice to the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you ever thought of it that way? Thinking back to Paul’s Damascus Road experience, after the scales came of his eyes (both physically and spiritually), remember how he chose to serve Christ? It was a wholehearted committment in every way.
Paul also identified himself as “called to be an apostle,” a calling that could not be disobeyed. When you think of yourself, would you say that you also choose to be a servant of Christ and obedient to the call He has called you to?
I love how Paul, once again, in Romans 1:8, tells his readers the he “thanks God for them” as their “faith is spoken of throughout the world.” What a reputation to have! He then tells them that “without ceasing I make mention of you in my prayers,” Romans 1:9.
Paul was a praying man! He prayed for the Roman church, the church in Ephesus, in Corinth, in Philippia, Colosse, Thessolonica and directly to Philemon. Paul was a pray-er!
In Chapter 1, Paul spoke quite a bit about ungodly and unrighteous men who “changed the truth of God to a lie,” Romans 1:25. He hid nothing as he exposed their evil deeds, describing who they are in detail, Romans 1:18-32. These people were Gentiles who were heathen in both their religion and morality.
This Chapter continues where the expose left off as Paul speaks to the ungodly men and says they are “inexcusable”, Romans 2:1.
The Jews are not let off the hook so easy. They are also guilty before God. God has His principles that even the Jews have broken. Look at Romans 2:9, “tribulation and anguish upon every man, Jew first, then Gentile.”
But there is good news too. “To every man that worketh good” they shall receive “glory, honour and peace” “to the Jew first, then the Gentile,” Romans 2:10.
We well know that God is not a respecter of persons. He does not prefer one over the other. Just because a person is of His chosen race doesn’t mean he will escape punishment because if he has done evil, he will reap the reward for evil. If he has done good, he will reap the reward for good. God is a just God to both the Jew and the Gentile. The righteousness of the Jew was not much better than the Gentile.
Did you notice that in Romans 2:17, Paul made a statement, “thou art called a Jew”? This is different from saying “You are Hebrew” or “You are are Israelite.” Each of these has its own meaning.
Let’s look at Matthew Henry, The New Bible Commentary, pg 944, for the definitions: The name ‘Hebrew’ implies origin and language; ‘Israelite’ recalls their relation to God and religion; ‘Jew’ speaks of the race in distinction from the Gentiles.
The Jews had a problem. They thought they were better than anyone else because of their relationship with God. Check Romans 2:17 for the wording. But now Paul asks the Jews, in Romans 2:19-21, “who teaches you” when you tell others what to do but you don’t practice what you preach? Throughout this chapter, Paul uses the Scriptures to correct the Jews and demolish their self-righteousness.
Paul answers the objections raised in the first 20 verses of this Chapter. Was he speaking to a specific person or group or was he rationalizing his criticism from the previous chapter? There are, however, four objections that he addresses.
- Concerning the Jews privilege of being the chosen race. If they were reduced to the same level as the Gentiles, what did it profit them to be Jewish?
- The oracles of God (verse 2) were committed to the Jews. What is the value of having the Scriptures?
- If the unrighteousness of the Jews causes the failure of the nation, can God condemn His people?
- Will the contrast between God’s holiness and my unrighteousness condone sin?
After addressing these objections, Paul moves on to describe the righteousness of God in Romans 3:21-31. A key verse you may be familiar with is in Romans 3:23, “we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” I am so thankful that you and I have been “freely justified through the redemption in Christ Jesus!”
When you think about the grievousness of sin, how we could ever get out from under the burden of sin, if not for the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross? Where would we be without Him?
Righteousness of God
Let’s read Romans 3:21-31, the righteousness of God is
- apart from the law, verse 21, meaning it is not fulfilled by the law or in the law
- attested to by the law as witnessed by the law and the prophets, verse 21
- provided through faith in Jesus Christ, verses 22-25
- just and the justifier of those who believe in Jesus Christ, verse 26.
Paul goes into detail on each of these points as he corrects the believers to true righteousness in God and that God is just in His actions.
Romans 1 – 3 Overview Conclusion
Paul wrote this epistle near the end of his third missionary journey in AD 57. There is evidence that he wrote it during his three-month stay with Gaius in Corinth, Acts 20:3-6. These three chapters speak of righteousness, primarily God’s righteousness and the supposed righteousness of the Jews.
Throughout this book, Paul exhorts the believers to live righteous and holy lives. He moves from the topic of condemnation to glorification, from their positional truth as Jews to practical truth as believers.
A key verse is Romans 1:16-17, for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ…
As we conclude this Romans 1- 3 overview, we prepare for the study on Chapter One in our DIG Gals Bible Study Group on Facebook. If you have not joined this group, take a moment now to join up.
Want to read more about this study on chapters 1 – 3? This post will fill you in on the details.
So, was this overview helpful? Did you take any notes on the worksheet? I’d love to hear what you wrote. Would you please leave a comment for me? Oh, and tell me if you joined our study group. I’d love to meet you there!