As I was explaining in the preface, this letter is quite unique. For instance, the First and Second Letters to Timothy and Paul’s Letter to Titus are referred to as “Pastoral Letters.” The reason is because Paul expresses his concern for the future of the church and its ministry. He discusses a wide range of issues pertaining to the life and ministry of the church. He explains the qualifications of anyone who is going to serve in the church. He also explains what should be expected in the worship life of the church and how to take care of the people in their congregation–men and women, young and old, rich and poor. Paul repeatedly urges them to guard against false doctrine and to teach the Word of God faithfully as well as to exhibit a godly life.
In contrast, the letter to the Roman Christians was an explanation of the Christians faith, itself. Now it is possible that Paul knew he was writing to the heart of the Roman Empire, so he took extra pains to “polish” this exposition of the faith.
The central theme and great message of Romans can be summed up in the two verses found in Romans 1:16-17:
“I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘the righteousness will live by faith.’”
Indeed, the entire book of Romans is an explanation of how this Gospel applies to every person. This Gospel is powerful because it has the ability to change our eternal destiny. It is powerful in that it has the capacity to impart the righteousness of God to us by faith. It is powerful in that it can produce a life worth living.
I bring all this up to simply whet our appetites as we come to this great letter. Paul wrote this to the Christians in Rome. He was spending a few months in Corinth before going up to Jerusalem to carry a collection of money that the churches of Asia had gathered for the needy in Jerusalem.
Paul was writing to them because he had heard of their faith and he wanted to increase their faith and their understanding of the Gospel; he wanted them firmly established in the truth. As a result, this letter presents a magnificent explanation of the total message of Christianity. It contains almost every Christian doctrine in some form, and provides a panorama of the marvelous plan of God for the redemption of man.
If you didn’t have any other book of the Bible, in this letter you can find every Christian teaching at least mentioned here. We might call this the master key to all of the Scriptures. If you truly grasp the book of Romans in its total argument, you will find yourself at home in any other part of the Scriptures.
This letter, with maybe the exception of Hebrews, is the only one written as a religious treatise and not just an ordinary letter. Paul knew this was going to the heart of the Roman Empire, so he took extra pain to “polish” his explanation of the faith.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome