Romans: The Gift of Righteousness

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The Gift of Righteousness

Doctrine and Behavior.

Background: Paul writes to the Roman church from Corinth around 58 AD
Theme: The gift of righteousness
Outline: Doctrine of Righteousness and Behavior
Key Verse: "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Rom 3:21-24, NIV)

Romans Chapter Index
(Each Chapter has a Summary, Study Questions, and my Notes)


















A short summary and questions are provided for each chapter for the ease of study. The questions guide the reading to bring out special points.


Paul is probably writting from the house of Gaius in Corinth (16:23) while on his last trip to Jerusalem. The letter was delivered by Phoebe of Cenchrea (16:1). We may assume that some citizens of Rome were at Jerusalem and witnessed the events of Pentecost (Acts 2:10), and carried the gospel back to Rome. The church in Rome was mixed, both Jew and Gentile.

While the first portion (Chapters 1-11) is doctrinal, a full explanation of the Righteousness we receive in Christ, the second portion (Chapters 12-15) is practical, telling us how to live a life of service. The last Chapter (16) is personal and has a benediction.

I. Introduction (1:1-17)

Chapter 1 - Summary

Paul explains his commission, his prayers for the saints at Rome, and his desire to see them. He describes the Gospel as the way of 'justification by faith' for both Jews and Gentiles. The cause and effect of the sins of the Gentiles are described.

Chapter 1 - Questions

Chapter 1 - Notes

1:12 As many other leaders have testified since, spiritual leaders also seek encouragement and building up from fellowship with other believers. They do not stand alone by choice.

1:14 As a body of believers, we also are obligated to all men, for the church was commissioned to ‘make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19).

II. God’s Righteousness Revealed in Condemnation ((1:18-3:20)

1:20  The reference to Psalm 19:1-6 is critically important. Stop and read Psalm 19 now!

1:20 We are often asked about the 20% (conservative and low figure) of the world that has never heard the word Christ. This explains why they need the gospel, they are condemned apart from knowledge of God’s special revelation (the Bible). Jesus is, even for them, the only way of salvation. Look again at 1:14 and Paul’s obligation to all men, and consider our obligation.

"They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator-- who is forever praised. Amen." (Romans 1:25, NIV)

In the first chapter of Romans, Paul said that people have no excuse for not knowing God. After all, the power and nature of God are clearly seen simply by looking at creation. But as a whole, people have deliberately ignored God.

This is as true today as it was 2000 years ago when Paul wrote. For instance, many scientists doubt that evolution (in the way that it is taught in high schools in this country) is statistically possible. They are skeptical. Yet those of us who publically question this theory are ridiculed as ignorant and intolerant! Our society worships a false, popularized, mock science, and does not tolerate our hard questions. At the heart of this 'religion' is the belief that no god can exist, nor can anything 'supernatural' ever occur. This is the lie which has taken the place of the reality of God, the reality expressed by nature and by God's own revelation in the Bible.

Who or what do we serve? Some serve the lie itself, but most simply plod through a meaningless life. Of course, there are always bills to pay, and our job becomes our life. Our success may be measured by the things we possess, a fine house, a green lawn, new cars, and our reputation which may look like a dollar sign.

What has first place in your life? Family, friends, a career, money, or God? While all of these things have a good and proper place in our lives, God earnestly desires a place in our lives. God truly loves and cares for each one of us. He deserves our thanks and praise.

Chapter 2 - Summary

Paul describes how the Jews could never be justified before God by obeying the Law of Moses, nor could the Gentiles ever be justified by obeying the law of nature or conscience. The Jews confidence in their outward appearances was misplaced.

Chapter 2 - Questions

Chapter 2 - Notes

2:12 "All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law." This verse introduces the concept that those knowing the law of Moses are responsible for it, and those who have never heard it are still judged by their conscience. In either case, the verdict is GUILTY. Today, those brought up in a religious home and those brought up without religion both have the same basic problem, GUILT.

Chapter 3 - Summary

Paul explained the advantages of the Jews, but emphasized that all people, Jew and Gentile, are sinners. Both fail to be justified by their own efforts. A Righteousness apart from the Law is offered to Jew and Gentile.

Chapter 3 - Questions

Chapter 3 - Notes

3:1-2 Paul gives questions and answers. In our witness to our friends and any who ask us questions we may follow Paul’s example of giving answers. It is often uncomfortable for us to consider what others say, to follow their logic for the purpose of giving a good answer. Paul did this. This is not to say that we continue when the questions become mocking. We simply must give a good answer to those who seek the truth.

3:10-12 The words ‘not even one’ certainly seem harsh to us. It is best to face this truth, that the best of mankind is still self-centered and sinful. If we believe that even one person is truly good apart from the grace of Jesus Christ, then the gospel is (at least for some) only an easier way to heaven.

III. God’s Righteousness Revealed in Justification (3:21-5:21)

3:27-28 ‘Doing works is no basis for boasting, for the Law cannot justify.’ I still have difficulty making this point to my ‘good’ friends. It is the human way to want to earn love with people and God. Some do live a better life in some areas than I do, but their ‘better’ life is apart from faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Chapter 4 - Summary

Abraham is the example of justification by faith, because he was justified by his believing God and because he was justified before the giving of the Law by Moses over 400 years later, and before he was circumcised. Jew and Gentile are justified in the same way as Abraham.

Chapter 4 - Questions

Chapter 4 - Notes

4:5 One verse to remember for witnessing, ‘to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.’ We are often asked to explain how a bad person can be saved while a comparatively good person may be judged. Simply, there is no good person. Our only hope is that God does justify the wicked, including us!

Chapter 5 - Summary

We have peace and access to God through faith. Adam fell and brought all of mankind into sin and death. The grace of God, through the righteousness of Christ, has more power to bring salvation than Adam's sin has to bring misery.

Chapter 5 - Questions

Chapter 5 - Notes

5:9-11 This verse does not necessarily teach that believers will be exempt from the coming Tribulation, but that they will be exempt from the wrath of God. Some view the entire Tribulation period as a time of God’s wrath, and this would necessitate the Church being gone. Others see the pouring out of wrath only at the end of the Tribulation, in which case believers may be present until the time of wrath.

Chapter 6 - Summary

Believers should die to sin and live to God. This is the meaning of baptism (which water baptism symbolizes) and union with Christ. Believers are freed from the domination of sin and are made alive to God. Sin leads to death, but holy living leads to life.

Chapter 6 - Questions

Chapter 6 - Notes

IV. God’s Righteousness Revealed in Sanctification (6-8)

6:12 "Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires." Clearly we have been set free from sin, yet this command is given to believers. As believers, we can give in to the control of sin. If this danger did not exist, Paul would not have warned us of it. We assume that our Christian family and ourselves act only from fairly pure motives, but this is not always the case. We must be on guard. Small choices to willingly sin ‘little’ sins lead to the reality of sin reigning in our bodies. We become accustomed to little sins and soon do not even notice them, as the battle moves on to larger sins and lack of vibrant fellowship with God.

Chapter 7 - Summary

The purpose of being united with Christ is to produce fruit for God. The law does have a use, but we are to live by the Spirit not by the Law. Paul expresses the deep conflict of wanting to follow God but being drawn into sinful ways by the old nature.

Chapter 7 - Questions

Chapter 7 - Notes


Chapter 8 - Summary

The believer is free from condemnation. He is a child of God. Even when going through trials, we can look forward to an eternal hope. The Holy Spirit helps us and communicates our needs which we cannot even express. God has a purpose for each believer, and we are secure in Him. We will finally triumph, because God is for us.

Chapter 8 - Questions

Chapter 8 - Notes

8:9 This verse gives strong support to the belief that all believers have the Holy Spirit. Receiving of the Holy Spirit must happen at the time one first believes, otherwise the believer would have no part in Christ. Admittedly, we grow in the Spirit and in learning to trust and follow Him.

8:38-39 In times of discouragement, this verse should be remembered. It is a classic text for knowing that our salvation is secure. Now that we know the love of God through the salvation provided by Jesus, there is nothing that can separate us from this love. The phrase "nor anything else in all creation" covers a lot of ground, and includes our flesh, sinful desires, bad choices we have made, and even our rebellion.

Chapter 9 - Summary

Paul is concerned that his own people are strangers to the gospel. The promises are for the spiritual seed of Abraham, not just the Jews. Paul answers objections against God's choice in exercising mercy and justice. God is sovereign in dealing both with Jews and Gentiles. The Jews fell short because the tried to earn justification by doing the works of the law, but not by putting their faith in the character of God.

Chapter 9 - Questions

Chapter 9 - Notes

V. God’s Righteousness Revealed in Sovereign Choice (9-11)

9:1-5 We may take Paul’s example and consider our own people and nation. Do our hearts break for our townspeople who have rejected the Lord?

9:15 When considering whether God is fair in saving some, this verse states the prerogative of God’s right to chose.

Chapter 10 - Summary

Paul shares his deep desire for the Jews, his own people, to come to faith. He describes the difference between the righteousness of the law, and the righteousness of faith. The Gentiles stand on the same level with the Jews, in justification and salvation. This is demonstrated from Old Testament prophecies.

Chapter 10 - Questions

Chapter 10 - Notes

10:9-13 Re-read this section with the question - "What must I do to be saved?" This is the basic gospel and what is required for salvation.

10:14-15 One valid reason for supporting and sending missionaries is stated here.

Chapter 11 - Summary

The rejection of the Jews is not universal, as some Jews have responded to the gospel. God overruled the unbelief of the Jews to make the Gentiles partners in the gospel. But Gentiles are cautioned against pride and unbelief. Someday the Jews will be called as a nation, and brought into God's visible covenant again. God is wise, good, and just.

Chapter 11 - Questions

Chapter 11 - Notes


Chapter 12 - Summary

Paul urges all believers to dedicate themselves to God, to be humble, and faithfully to use their spiritual gifts, in their everyday life. Christians are to be peaceful in their conduct towards all people at all times.

Chapter 12 - Questions

Chapter 12 - Notes

VI. God’s Righteousness Revealed in Transformed Living (12:1-15:13)

12:1-2 These verses are the transition between the first 11 chapters, which explain God’s mercies and the doctrine of righteousness, and the final 5 chapters which outline the practical applications. As a loose paraphrase, "In view of what you know about God’s mercy, give your whole life to serving the Lord. This pleases God and is true worship. Don’t be squeezed into the mold of the world around you, but be changed from within. Then you will see and understand the goodness and perfection of God’s will."

Chapter 13 - Summary

Christian duties are described and include obedience to civil government, to love one another love, and to remain temperate and sober.

Chapter 13 - Questions

Chapter 13 - Notes

13:1-7 This is a key passage for understanding the Christian’s relationship to civil government.

Chapter 14 - Summary

The Jewish believers are cautioned against judging, and Gentile believers against prejudice. Believers are warned against giving offense over disputable matters which are of no importance.

Chapter 14 - Questions

Chapter 14 - Notes

14:22 "So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God." The passage does not say "keep between yourself and God"—as if to mean, Don’t talk about it. The NASB translates it, "The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God." As such, the thrust is in line with vv. 4, 6, 8. The emphasis is on personal freedom of faith before God, rather than on the restriction of freedom of faith before man. (Chad Woodburn)

Chapter 15 - Summary

Paul gives directions how to behave towards the weaker brothers, and how to treat one another as family members. Paul gives personal notes on his preaching and writing, his travel plans, and asks for prayers.

Chapter 15 - Questions

Chapter 15 - Notes

15:4 "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Paul was referring to the Old Testament in particular. This is one reason why Christians should study the Old Testament. If we have a need for hope through endurance and encouragement, we have a supply for that need in the Old Testament as well as the New. Paul is telling gentile Christians (the Romans) that the Old Testament was written to teach us. "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good word." (I Timothy 3:16-17, NIV). My point here is on the phrase ‘All Scripture’.

15:8-12 The covenant of Noah included a promise by God to never again destroy all life by a flood, and the rainbow is the sign of this covenant. This covenant included some restrictions for men such as not murdering. Noah predated Israel and that covenant was given to Noah and all of his descendants. In the same way, a deliverer was promised in the seed of the woman (Eve) who would someday crush the head of the serpent (controlled by Satan). Although we see this seed develop through the lineage of Abraham and Jacob, the promise was not restricted to Israel anymore than the curse of thorns and painful childbearing was.

VII. Concluding Remarks (15:14-16:27)

Chapter 16 - Summary

Paul commends Phebe (who may be delivering this letter) and greets friends in Rome. He warns against divisive persons, and gives a Christian greeting. He concludes the letter with praise to God.

Chapter 16 - Questions

Chapter 16 - Notes

16:17 "I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned." The ‘teaching you have learned’ is, in effect, the teaching revealed in the New Testament. One obstacle would be circumcision, some Judiazers claiming that Christians must first become Jews. In verse 19 Paul has heard about the obedience of the Roman Christians. He is concerned that deceivers do not try to put them under bondage to obey laws that are contrary to the gospel of grace.

16:23 Quartus: Traditionally one of Jesus’ seventy disciples and later bishop of Berytus.


New Testament Survey by Merrill Tenney : Highly recommend this book for a good background to the life of Jesus and the New Testament. The first half covers background, what the world was like under Roman rule and what the conditions of the Jews were. The second half gives background, outline, and introductions to each of the New Testament books (including Acts).

Bible Background Commentary (New Testament) by Craig S. Keener : Printed by InterVarsity Press, this is an excellent one-volume resource for understanding the customs and background (history, language, and geography) behind the verses of the New Testament. It is not an interpretation of the New Testament as are most commentaries, its purpose is to give background information. I highly recommend this to the serious student of Scripture, who already has a good grasp of the meaning and application of the New Testament.

Bible Knowledge Commentary (New Testament, Volume II) by the Staff of Dallas Theological Seminary : Admittedly a 'dispensational' interpretation, meaning that the authors take the book of Revelation very literally and teach that Jesus will take the Church out of the world before the 'Tribulation Period'. Although I do not agree totally with their opinions, I have found this to be a fair commentary, also explaining the views of others which the authors do not hold. If you use my notes you will receive some insight as to where the points of disagreement are. Highly recommended as the best short commentary on the market. I am easily in agreement with 98% of what this commentary teaches, and who knows if I am right about the other 2%??

Updated March 2012
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