What are some key words Paul uses in Romans?

Key words have become all the rage in our age of technology. Certain specific words and phrases are used to guide is through information as we seek to make sense of the flood of data that surrounds us.

In the Bible, God the Holy Spirit has also chosen some key words for us to make note of. These become shorthand ways of explaining and referring to complex theological truth. Understanding what these keywords mean, and don’t mean, helps us learn the language of the Bible so that we can understand what the authors of Scripture meant, and also helps us communicate with one another big ideas from the Bible. The following are some of the key words Paul uses in Romans.

The Righteousness of God
Surveying the landscape of Bible commentaries, the summary is given that, “The phrase ‘the righteousness of God’ is one of the central theological ideas for Paul’s exposition of the gospel and his mission in Romans. The phrase occurs just eight times in Romans (see Rom 1:17; 3:5, 21, 22, 25, 26; 10:3 [2x]), though Paul frequently uses related terms and phrases throughout the letter. The interpretation of the phrase ‘the righteousness of God’ is complex and, at times, controversial since it carries significant theological weight for the doctrine of justification.”15

The Gospel
Outside of the Bible in the ancient world, the Greek concept of “evangelion” simply referred to a good report of some good news. Often, this kind of good report would come from a King who would send a herald out into the kingdom to preach the good news. This is the concept Paul uses in Romans referring to the good news and preachers are heralds sent out from His Kingdom to preach the gospel to the nations.

One Bible commentary says, “The majority of NT uses of euangelion occur in Paul’s letters. 60 of the over 75 NT uses of euangelion are attributed to Paul, and over 45 of those occur in the undisputed letters. Within the Gospels, euangelion occurs only in Matthew (three times) and Mark (eight times). Although the noun euangelion occurs only twice in Luke-Acts, the related verb euangelizō occurs over 25 times in Luke-Acts. In comparison, Paul uses the verb euangelizō approximately 20 times…Paul uses euangelion nine times within Romans and approaches the gospel from several different angles…For Paul, the gospel is a fact that God has proven through Jesus; to deny the gospel is to deny reality. However, the gospel’s ultimate point is not an abstract discussion of reality, but salvation. Paul declares, ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel (euangelion), for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek’ (Rom 1:16 ESV). This final element allows us to develop the following working definition of euangelion: (1) it’s God’s demonstrated work in history culminating in Christ; (2) it has the power to bring about salvation for anyone who believes.”16

The concept of faith is a massive theme of Paul’s letter to the Romans. One Bible commentary says, “pistis is used to translate several words—most often ʾaman, meaning ‘to be trustworthy’ or ‘to trust’—and tends to portray trust in terms of obedience and acceptance of God’s ways. In the NT pistis can have several nuances related to belief (or trust) and God. The most prominent senses of pistis in the NT involve: (1) the proper disposition toward God; (2) the vehicle of relationship with God; (3) the content of belief in God; and (4) the expression of that disposition, relationship, and belief through faithful conduct. All of these nuances of pistis are present in Romans.”17

In addition to Paul’s major keywords in Romans, one Bible reference resource lists the following “gems” from Romans:


Everyone has sinned, without exception, both Jew and Gentile: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (3:23).


Everyone is put right with God in the same way—not by keeping the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ: Now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known… This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (3:21–22).

Jews and Gentiles belong together as God’s people. All are saved by faith alone, because of God’s grace.


Christians have their roots in the Jewish faith and depend on it for their understanding of God. God has not rejected or discarded his Jewish people. They are still central to his plan of salvation (9:1–11:36): Did God reject his people? By no means (11:1)!


Abraham is the prime example of faith. If we live by faith, we are the true children of Abraham: He [Abraham] is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were…he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised (4:17, 20–21).


If we belong to Christ, then we accept one another—without racial prejudice or spiritual one-upmanship: Accept one another…just as Christ accepted you (15:7).


The state has God’s authority to govern, although the claims of God’s kingdom are higher: The authorities that exist have been established by God (13:1).


There is a conflict within every Christian: “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (7:18). But the Holy Spirit comes to our aid: “the Spirit helps us in our weakness” (8:26).


God chooses or “elects” to save whole nations, not just individual people. Paul quotes Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people” (9:25). Paul adds that this “does not depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” (9:16).18

To find the free Romans study guide for individuals and small groups, hear Pastor Mark’s entire sermon series on Romans, or find a free mountain of Bible teaching visit realfaith.com or download the Real Faith app.

  1. Derek R. Brown and E. Tod Twist, Romans, ed. Douglas Mangum, Lexham Research Commentaries (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014), Ro 1:1–17.
  2. 16. Derek R. Brown and E. Tod Twist, Romans, ed. Douglas Mangum, Lexham Research Commentaries (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014), Ro 1:1–17.
  3. 17. Derek R. Brown and E. Tod Twist, Romans, ed. Douglas Mangum, Lexham Research Commentaries (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014), Ro 1:1–17.
  4. 18. Andrew Knowles, The Bible Guide, 1st Augsburg books ed. (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 2001), 567.

Leave a Comment