The letter of St. Paul to the Romans is a very special epistle. It displays the apostle's theological brilliance as well as his deep love and spirituality. It is St. Paul's longest and most inÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâ‰Û_uential letter.
St. Paul wrote the letter to introduce himself to the Christians who lived in the heavily populated city of Rome, and also to prepare them for his upcoming visit. The apostle had heard reports of trouble amidst the various Christian converts in the area. Through the ministry of the apostles, many people ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûù both Jew and
Gentile ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûù came to faith in Christ. The converts changed their lives and fell madly in love with our Savior.
Unfortunately, however, problems arose. Some of the Jewish converts to Christianity believed that Jewish ceremonies like circumcision were still required before one could be a full member of the Church. Thus, some of the Jewish Christians were trying to force the Gentile Christians to get circumcised in addition to their Baptism. This provoked great controversy. Some thought that circumcision was still necessary, while others thought that Baptism was enough.
St. Paul's letter to the Romans is his authoritative answer to this issue: only Baptism is required to be a Christian; circumcision is a sign of the Old Covenant, and it is unable to give the saving grace that Baptism gives. Circumcision is not a sacrament. It is not required to be a follower of Christ. Baptism, as a Sacrament of faith, is sufÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâÌÉcient.
Because this letter is so intricate and complicated, don't be discouraged if you ÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâÌÉnd it to be pretty confusing at places. St. Paul deals with a lot of issues and themes that can become quite complex.
Here are some of the key themes and verses we discover in this letter:
- The power of the Gospel: 'For I am not ashamed of the Gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith (Romans 1:16).'
- Universal effect of sin: 'All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).'
- Faith, grace and salvation: 'Therefore, since we are justiÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâÌÉed by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us (Romans 5:1-5).'137
- Life through Christ: 'So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11).'
- Power of Baptism: 'Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by Baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).'
- We are children of God: 'For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâèÏAbba! Father!' it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be gloriÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâÌÉed with him (Romans 8:14-17).'
- God's sovereign purpose: 'We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).'
- Christian transformation: 'Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).'