What is Paul’s Big Idea in Romans?

What is Paul’s Big Idea in Romans?

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”
-Romans 1:16-17

Paul’s letter to the Romans is widely considered his most towering theological work. This helps explain why it is listed first among Paul’s letters in the Bible, even though it was not written first. In this way, the order of Paul’s writings shows that Romans is of the first order.

Regarding Romans in comparison to the rest of Paul’s writings, one Bible Encyclopedia says, “Some passages in his other writings may reach higher emotional heights or contain momentary flashes of deeper intuitive insight into the wonder of the gospel, or…set forth the cosmic grandeur of the gospel in more profound terms. In its totality, however, Romans stands alone in the massiveness of its thought and the power it has released in history through its testimony to the gospel as “the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith” (1:16).”9

After surveying a wide breadth of writings on Romans, one Bible commentary concludes, “Commentators generally accept that Paul states his basic theme or thesis in Rom 1:16–17 and that all the letter’s other ideas and themes revolve around this center.”10

Romans 1:16-17 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” Paul’s big idea in Romans is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we will examine in our study of this majestic masterpiece this includes:

  1. God’s work for us: we are justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ by imputed righteousness.
  2. God’s work in us: we are regenerated, or born again, by the power of the Holy Spirit by imparted righteousness.
  3. God’s work through us: we live the Christian life as members of the church doing ministry to serve the mission of God as the fruit of imputed and imparted righteousness.

Commenting on the big idea of Romans, theologian John Murray said, “The epistle to the Romans is God’s Word. Its theme is the gospel of his grace, and the gospel bespeaks the marvels of his condescension and love. If we are not overwhelmed by the glory of that gospel and ushered into the holy of holies of God’s presence, we have missed the grand purpose of this sacred deposit.” 11

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. D. G. Miller, “Romans, Epistle to,” ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988), 223.
  2. Derek R. Brown and E. Tod Twist, Romans, ed. Douglas Mangum, Lexham Research Commentaries (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).
  3. John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans, vol. 1, The New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1968), xi.
Mark Driscoll
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