Scripture Reading: Romans 1:1-17, 2 Samuel 7:12-16, 2 Corinthians 5:17
If you could have access to only one book for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
Judging from their devoted habits and bold commentary, it seems a great many theological giants in Church history would have made Romans their go-to text for a lifetime. Early church father John Chrysostom had the book read aloud to him once a week. Poet and preacher Samuel Taylor Coleridge called it “the profoundest piece of writing in existence.” The famous sixteenth-century Bible translator William Tyndale wrote of Romans, “It is the principal and most excellent part of the New Testament… No man can read it too oft.” Martin Luther, St. Augustine, and John Wesley all came to assured faith through the impact of Romans.
What is it about this book that has captivated the attention of believers across the ages? What makes Romans so unique?
All Scripture is God-breathed and equally valuable—God’s special revelation given to us that we might know Him. But Romans is distinct in that it provides the most comprehensive expression of the gospel found in the Bible. This book reaches back deep into the Old Testament to walk us through the origin and problem of sin, the reality of guilt, and the impossibility of saving ourselves. And it presents, systematically yet succinctly, the ultimate rescue we’re given in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In short, Romans contains the essential gospel.
From the opening statements of his letter, Paul makes clear his purpose for writing: to present and promote the gospel of Jesus Christ. He introduces himself as Christ’s servant, “set apart for the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1). He addresses the letter to “all who are in Rome, loved by God,” expressing his commitment to telling them “the good news about [God’s] Son” (vv.7-9). And he conveys how desperately he has desired to visit the city personally: “I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome” (v.15).
Paul then turns from his brief introduction to make a stunningly clear pronouncement on where he stands when it comes to the message of Christ:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.
- Romans 1:16
Paul was confident in his calling to preach the gospel because he was certain of the saving power of his God. I am a servant of Christ… I am an apostle… I am set apart for the gospel… I am eager to preach the good news… I am not ashamed.
It is with this unshakeable confidence that Paul, the self-proclaimed “worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15), wrote to the believers at Rome—to explain to Jewish and Gentile converts alike what it means to believe in and be redeemed by Jesus Christ. For this is no metaphorical salvation; it is the real-life rescue of broken and complicated people by the all-powerful hand of a merciful God.
Lean in close as Paul presents his longest letter in Scripture, a sermon on what it means to be a Christ follower in this life. Listen as he tells of God’s holiness, justice, and compassion. Read this book as though it is telling a single story—the story of how God rescues us through the sacrifice of Christ.