16 Chapters, 433 verses, 9,447 words.
The writer of this letter was the apostle Paul (see 1:1). No voice from the early church was ever raised against his authorship. The letter contains a number of historical references that agree with known facts of Paul's life. The doctrinal content of the book is typical of Paul, which is evident from a comparison with other letters he wrote.
PurposePaul's purposes for writing this letter were varied:
1. He wrote to prepare the way for his coming visit to Rome and his proposed mission to Spain (1:10-15; 15:22-29).
2. He wrote to present the basic system of salvation to a church that had not received the teaching of an apostle before.
3. He sought to explain the relationship between Jew and Gentile in God's overall plan of redemption. The Jewish Christians were being rejected by the larger Gentile group in the church (see 14:1 and note) because the Jewish believers still felt constrained to observe dietary laws and sacred days (14:2-6).
When Paul wrote this letter, he was probably at Corinth (see Ac 20:2-3 and notes) on his third missionary journey. His work in the eastern Mediterranean was almost finished (see 15:18-23), and he greatly desired to visit the Roman church (see 1:11-12; 15:23-24). At this time, however, he could not go to Rome because he felt he must personally deliver the collection taken among the Gentile churches for the poverty-stricken Christians of Jerusalem (see 15:25-28 and notes). So instead of going to Rome, he sent a letter to prepare the Christians there for his intended visit in connection with a mission to Spain (see 15:23-24 and note on 15:24). For many years Paul had wanted to visit Rome to minister there (see 1:13-15), and this letter served as a careful and systematic theological introduction to that hoped-for personal ministry. Since he was not acquainted directly with the Roman church, he says little about its problems (but see 14:1-15:13; cf. also 13:1-7; 16:17-18).
Paul begins by surveying the spiritual condition of all people. He finds Jews and Gentiles alike to be sinners and in need of salvation.That salvation has been provided by God through Jesus Christ and his redemptive work on the cross. It is a provision, however, that must be received by faith—a principle by which God has always dealt with humankind, as the example of Abraham shows. Since salvation is only the beginning of Christian experience, Paul moves on to show how believers are freed from sin, law and death—a provision made possible by their union with Christ in both death and resurrection and by the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Paul then shows that Israel too, though presently in a state of unbelief, has a place in God's sovereign redemptive plan. Now she consists of only a remnant, allowing for the conversion of the Gentiles, but the time will come when "all Israel will be saved" (11:26; see note there). The letter concludes with an appeal to the readers to work out their Christian faith in practical ways, both in the church and in the world. None of Paul's other let-ters states so profoundly the content of the gospel and its implications for both the present and the future.
1. The most systematic of Paul's letters. It reads more like an elaborate theological essay than a letter.
2. Emphasis on Christian doctrine. The number and importance of the theological themes touched upon are impressive: sin and death, salvation, grace, faith, righteousness, justification, sanctification, redemption, resurrection and glorification.
3. Widespread use of OT quotations. Although Paul regularly quotes from the OT in his let-ters, in Romans the argument is sometimes carried along by such quotations (see especially chs. 9-11).
4. Deep concern for Israel. Paul writes about her present status, her relationship to the Gentiles and her final salvation.