How to Study Romans (NASB)
Romans is the constitution of the Christian faith. If you understand Romans you will have a plumb line for correctly interpreting any teaching on the gospel. It is a book you need to observe over and over until you are so familiar with the text that its meaning is obvious.
Ideally it would be helpful to read Romans in one sitting and color every reference to Paul. If that is not possible, read it a chapter at time. Every time you see the word gospel, mark it in a distinctive way so you can easily spot it in the text.
Paul gives his reason for writing Romans in the first and the last two chapters. Record these reason on Structure of Romans.
Watch for and color every reference to the recipients that answer the "5 W's and an H" (who, what, when, where, why, and how). Record on the Observations Chart what you learn about them. Note whether Paul is writing to Gentiles, Jews, or both. Also record your insights about Paul on the same chart.
The book of Romans can be divided into five segments, each building on the previous one: chapters 1-3:20; 3:21-5; 6-8; 9-11; and 12-16. As you complete each segment, return to these instructions so you can see what you are to do.
Make a key word bookmark.
Mark each of the following key words and their synonyms: grace, faith, justified (justify, just), righteous (righteousness), wrath, judge (judgment), gospel, believe, sin, hope, Gentiles, Jesus Christ, and Spirit. Mark references to time with a green clock. (NASB)
List these words on an index card and use it as a bookmark when your study. AS you begin each new segment or Romans, add the next group of key words to your card. Mark or color code them on the card in the same way you plan to mark them in your Bible. (NASB)
Watch for the word therefore and see what it is "there for." Several chapters have this word in the first verse. When Paul uses therefore he is making a point you will not want to miss.
Chapters 1 - 3:20
Read through Romans 1. As you mark the references to the gospel, list in your notebook all you learn about the gospel. Then note how Paul describes the unrighteousness of man. Mark exchanged and God gave them over. Then observe the progression of events shown by marking these two things.
In chapters 2-3:20, observe how Paul shows that all men - Jews and Gentiles - are under sin. Watch the references to the judgment of God.
Add the phrase my it never be to your key world list.
List in your notebook what you learn from this segment about sin, wrath, and the judgments of God.
From chapters 3 through 11 of Romans, Paul periodically asks an important question and then answers it. Mark each of Paul's questions. You might put a cloud around each question throughout the book. Carefully read each question and note how Paul answers it.
When you finish observing each chapter, record the theme of the chapter in Structure of Romans.
What do you see as the theme in this first segment of Romans? Write it (in pencil) on Structure of Romans in the first column under "Segment Divisions"
Chapters 3:21 - 5
Having established that "both Jews and Greeks (all people) are under sin" (3:9), Paul proceeds to show how God saves sinners.
As you read through these chapters, you will find words or phrases unique to each chapter. In chapter 4, mark credited and note what you learn from marking it. In chapter 5, mark and observe death (die, died) and gift.
List in your notebook what you learn from marking these chapters' key words, such as righteousness and justified.
Once again record your chapter themes on Structure of Romans chart. Also write out the theme of this segment of Romans. You may want to do it in pencil to begin with.
Follow the same procedure as you did in the previous segment. Add the following words and their synonyms: flesh, life, reign, master, slaves, and freed from sin.
Make a list of everything you learn from marking law and Spirit.
Mark Paul's questions and, in your notebook, list the main points of this answers.
Record the theme of each chapter and of this segment as you did before
The Romans Observations Chart includes a place to record everything you learn from chapter 5 through 8 regarding our position in Adam (before we were saved) and our position in Christ (after we were saved). Do not read anything into the text; simply record what you learn.
Chapter 9 - 11
Follow the same pattern you used in the first segment and mark the same key words your marked in chapters 1 through 8. Also mark the following key words in this segment or Romans: covenant (promise), foreknew #, predestined#, choice (chosen), Israel (and its pronouns), unbelief, saved (salvation - go back and mark it in Romans 1:16), and mercy.
#This words are used in Roman 8:29 - 30. Go back and mark them, and in your notebook record what you learn from the text.
In this section it is critical that you follow Paul's reasoning by marking each question that he poses, along with the main points of his answer. Do not read into the text meanings that aren't there. Simply let God speak as you listen. Meditate on Romans 11:33-36.
Record chapter and segment themes as before.
Chapter 12 -16
At this point Paul makes a transition from explaining the doctrinal aspect of the gospel to describing how the gospel is to be lived out practically. As Paul turns from doctrine to duty, note the therefore (12:1) and how it relates to what has been written in the first 11 chapters of Romans. Think about what Paul is asking you to do. Is it reasonable? Why? What do you need to do?
Read Romans chapter 12 through 16 and identify the main topic or subject of each chapter. Also, mark the following: love, authority (rulers), brethren (brother), Lord, Gentiles, minister (service, serving, servant), judge (judgment), and weak (weaknesses).
Complete Structure of Romans. Fill in the chapter themes and segment divisions and then record the theme of Romans.
Key Words in the NIV and KJV
Key doctrines in Romans
Mankind's sinfulness - Sin separates every human from God; only Jesus Christ can reconcile God and man (3:9-20; Gen 3:6, 7; 18:20; Ex32:31; Deut 9:7; 1 Kin 8:46; 14:16; Ps 38:18; Prov 20:9; Eccl 7:20; Jer 2:22; Rom 5:12; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 7:26)
Justification by faith - Complete freedom from judgment and the bondage of sin comes by faith alone in Jesus Christ (1:16, 17; 3:21-4:25; 5:1-2, 18; Lev 18:5; Is 45:25; 50:8; 53:11; Jer 23:6; Hab 2:4; John 5:24; Acts 13:39; 1Cor 6:11; Gal 2:14-21; 3:11; 5:4; Titus 3:7; James 2:10)
Sanctification - Through Christ' atonement, believers are glorified and set apart for the service of God (6:1-8:39; 15:16; Ps 4:3; Ezek 37:28; Acts 20:32; 26:18; 2Cor 6:17; Eph 5:26, 27; 1 Thess 4:4, 4; 5:23; 2 Thess 2:13; 2 Tim 2:21; Heb 2:11; 13:12; 1Pet 1:2; Jude 1:1)
Reconciliation - The sacrifice of Jesus Christ renews the relationship between God and man (5:1, 10-11; Lev 8:15; 16:20; Dan 9:24; Is 53:5; Matt 5:24-26; 2 Cor 5:18-20; Eph 2:14-16; Col 1:20-22; 2:14; Heb 2:17)