How to Read Romans

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During the month of June, our church will be reading Paul’s letter to the Romans. Use this study guide to help you as read this amazing book.

What’s Romans All About?

Paul’s letter to the church in Rome is one of his fullest treatments on the deep truths of the gospel. While the book certainly doesn’t cover everything in Paul’s theology, it is his most robust treatment of the doctrines of sin, atonement, justification, union with Christ, election, and God’s eternal purposes in Christ. Paul then adds to 11 chapters of gospel deeps with another 5 chapters of some of the most practical and pointed instructions for living as the people of Jesus.

Paul most likely wrote this letter to the Romans on his 3rd missionary journey. It was written in part to help them sort through theological issues as a church. But it was also written as a support letter. His goal was to pass through Rome in hopes of receiving support from them in order to take the gospel to Spain. While it may have been a missionary support letter, what Paul ended up writing is his most profound and glorious plunge into the deep waters of the good news of God’s love and grace in Christ Jesus.

Outline of The Book

  • 1:1–17 | The Gospel is God’s Revelation of His Righteousness
  • 1:18–3:20 | God’s Righteous Wrath Against Sinners
  • 3:21–4:25 | God’s Saving Righteousness Through Faith in Christ
  • 5:1–21 | Hope in the God of Righteousness
  • 6:1–7:25 | The Triumph of God’s Righteousness Through Grace
  • 8:1–39 | Assurance for Trusting in God’s Righteousness
  • 9:1–11:36 | God’s Righteousness in Election
  • 12:1–13:14 | Marks of the Christian Community
  • 14:1–15:13 | Instructions for Christian Conscience and Love
  • 15:14–16:23 | God’s Righteousness in Paul’s Missionary Work
  • 16:25–27 | Final Doxology Celebrating God’s Righteousness in Christ

Things to Look For

Look for Paul’s use of argument and logic. The book is filled with lengthy arguments full of words like: therefore, so that, if/then, etc. Look for how Paul connects the ideas and makes his arguments. It can be hard to follow at times, but take it slow and look for the deep truths Paul is exploring.

Look for Paul’s use of theological terms. The letter is full of them: righteousness, propitiation, justification, sanctification, glorification, etc. Take some time to look up his terms and make sure you understand how he uses them.

Look for Pau’s use of the Old Testament. While he is certainly digging deep in the gospel, he often does so by quoting the Old Testament. Take some time to look up the quotations and see how Paul draws his conclusions.

Look for Paul’s celebration of Jesus at the center of God’s saving work in the world. It could be easy to get lost in the arguments of the letter and miss just how enthralled Paul is with Jesus. Let reading the letter be a celebration of Christ and his work in your life and your church.

Tips for Reading

Take an hour sometime this month and read the whole letter from start to finish. Read a chapter a day and you’ll read the whole book twice this month. Or you can read about a half a chapter each day and finish the letter once:

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Take notes as you read. Get a notebook or get a journaling Bible. And as you read, write down what you see. Write down the main ideas. Circle the key words. Connect the dots of Paul’s arguments.

Read Romans with your head and your heart. Because the letter is dense, it can be easy to just focus on understanding. But ask the Lord to give you a heart to love, obey, and worship him as you read this amazing letter.