The Book of Romans is the one of the Letters in the New Testament of the Christian Bible.The Writing is simply reffered as the Romans and is currently one of the undisputed work of Paul.The book has been described as a masterpiece which overwhelms the reader by the sublimity and the density of the topic which are discussed,the justification of the gospel and the revealing of the uprightness and the grace of God to all the people ,both Jews and the Gentiles.
The book is a letter which is written in a Greek first century traditional letter writing style. During this time the writers started by identifying themselves and then names of the person they were sending the letter and then followed by the greetings. The letters usually closed with the final greeting and blessings. The book of Romans followed the same style (Barth, K 1968)
There existed a group of believers in Rome who trusted in Jesus as Messiah long before Paul had planned to visit this town. There was a conflict between the Christian Jews and the new group up to the point that the Roman Emperor expelled them from Rome. More often there was a disagreement between the Jews and the gentiles concerning what made one an acceptable person to God and the way the followers of the Christ should conduct their lives.
Having noticed the differences that characterized the church in Rome Paul decided to shed some light as far as the differences were concerned. There were people who were going from door to door teaching doctrines which were confusing and misleading to the faithful. There are some who were saying that for one to be accepted in the kingdom of God one has to refrain from eating particular kind of food and had to strictly follow the Law of Moses.
These are issues that the book of Romans aimed at addressing so that this confusion that existed in the church can be cleared. Therefore to the church in Rome the book was basically a tool of reference as far as what was expected of them was concerned. One of the reasons for Paul writing this book was to answer some of the question that emerged between the two groups. He boldly put it out in the book that the word of God was for all whether Gentiles or Jews. (Moo, D1996)
The book of Roman is basically a treatise which is addressed to the church in Rome where Paul was introducing himself before he made his visit. Justification of the faith was the central theme for his letter. He was delivering the message that it is only through salvation that a man can have a good relationship with God. Anything else did not matter.
What was expected from every Christian whether Jews or Gentiles was the faith in God and through this salvation will be achieved. He explained that the Mosaic Law was not enough to make the Christian righteous. This works serves as an eye opener to the early church as some of the issues that were controversial at this time were clearly explained by Paul. The differences that threatened to tear apart the church were tackled in this writing. To the Jewish Christians Paul explained that God had not completely broken his promise with them but he was working towards redemption of all the people in the universe.
For a long time Paul was planning to visit Rome but he was hindered from making such a move. Now he was determined to do it, he wanted to greet them and introduce himself before he made that journey. This visit was very important to him and the church in Rome as both were anxious. Paul was not sure how he was going to be received in this city and the some people there had criticized him before as they did not think he can be the leader of the church which was led by the Gentiles.
The book of Romans serves as the assurance to the church in Rome that they are accepted in the kingdom of God like any other group despite them being Gentiles. Therefore Paul was mainly writing this book to assure this group that they also had a right and a share in the kingdom of God. He assures them that Jesus died for all regardless of their status. The most important thing for any Christian was repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ and leading a holy life. (Moo, D1996)
Paul believed that the culture of Romans was very important as far as the church was concerned. It was the most powerful empire in the world and was located in the middle of the world at the time of Paul evangelism. This fact made the Church of Rome very important to the world at large. He understood the great effect this church would have on the rest of the world especially the so called civilized world of that time. He clearly saw the need of systematic and full presentation of the good news in this city.
The people in Rome were looking forward to Paul visit in Rome as it would serve a great role as far as their church was concerned. This visit was taken as a formal recognition that a church that was led by the Gentiles. They had for a long time wondered how he can be an apostle of the church yet he fail to visit their church in Rome. This gave the church leaders an opportunity to gauge and judge his courage and honesty as far as the church was concerned.
The book of Romans clearly explains the doctrines of the Christian faith. Paul in this book defended the gospel from those people who were claiming that salvation was for a chosen group. The church in Rome was to serve as a pillar where the Christianity would be spread to other regions in the world.
The book clearly assures that the Roman church was as legitimate as the other despite the fact that it was led by gentiles. This served as a boost to this church as Paul was taken as the messenger of God and he was presenting the God word to the people who had chosen to follow Christ yet the society was not keen to respect them. Paul addresses them as his brethrens a clear indication that he had accepted them as one of them and they were on the right track as far as faith was concerned. (Moo, D 2002)
The book of Romans had a great impact on the early church and the western civilization at large.Scholars has argued that the book is the most influential in Christian history. It is in this book that Paul gives a detailed exposition of the word of God. It is the most fundamental and systematic discussion as far as the whole plan of salvation is concerned.
To the Romans the book touched on what they were supposed to do so that they can be saved. This applies to all the Christians and was largely quoted by the protestant reformers as they assured the faithful that the kingdom of god was reserved for all those who had faith in Him and they did not need the blessing of any man on earth for them to be allowed access into this Kingdom. The book was universal in application despite the fact that it was directed to the Church in Rome. (Moo, D1996)
The book of Romans had greatly influenced many people in the history of the church. The prominent theologians like Martin Luther had studied the book making them aware of what God expected from them. Martin Luther found the teaching of salvation by the grace clear and he used it to spearhead the reforms in the church where he assured the faithful that it was through faith and grace alone that they were to be saved not from paying indulgences and other kind of injustices that existed in the church during the middle ages. (Dillenberger, J 1961)
The protestant reformation was basically a recovery of the right and pure gospel which resulted in the increased gospel spread to the different parts of the world. It was a revival of the Apostle’s Paul work where he made a journey to various parts of the world taking the good news. Through studying the book of Romans Martin Luther’s life was completely changed and so is the history of the church. The protestant reformation was as a result of this great theologian reading the book as the teaching was made available to the public. Lives were changed as the message of hope and righteousness was spread far and wide.
The book clearly states that there is no Christianity without Jesus, he who comes to know him shall be saved. Martin preached the same message that Paul wrote to the people of Rome and the early church.
Martin Luther described the book of Romans as the purest gospel which is worth and every Christian should understand it clearly. He advises the believers not to take the word law in human terms as through doing this they will be confused as the people in the early church and they will be serving the church rather than living according to the will of God.
He teaches them that God judges his people according to the heart. His law can not be satisfied by the works but rather on the inner most heart. He got these ideas from reading the work of Paul to the Romans. A book that he describes as full of inspiration to him and his search for the truth .Paul says that all people are sinners in the eyes of God and for us to be saved we have to seek the kingdom of God through following his teachings rather than following the law or the traditions as was the custom with the Christian Jews. If believers accustom themselves to the language described by Paul in the book of Romans Martin Luther says that they will find that there exists a difference between what the traditions of the church prescribe and what God really expects. (Dillenberger, J 1961)
Through the inspiration he received from the book of Romans Luther was able to challenge the church. The evils that characterized the church at this time has made him very disturbed and he set out on a mission to discover what can bring him close to God. The message he got was derived from the book of Romans where he realized that it was only through the grace of God that all will be brought close to God. The church was extremely corrupt where things that were going on were contrary to God’s expectation.
Through the inspiration he was able to revolutionize the church and brought the light just as Paul shed the light to the people of Rome concerning what God expected from them. Martin Luther described Romans as the main book in the New Testament .His wish is for every Christian to use the book as a guide in our daily lives. As the systems are bound to confuse them as far as their faith is concerned just like it happened during his time when the Roman Catholic Church used the teachings to justify some of the evil things that were happening. The letter of Paul to the Romans would serve as the guide to the church and the believers if they are interested in the righteousness.
Luther says that people should be ready to confess Jesus with their mouth and in such a deed they will lead a righteous life as they will always aspire to do what God expects from them. Good deeds alone do not make a man righteous rather he should have faith in God. The book of Romans has been described as the one that changed the course of the church history right from the early church to the protestant reformation. Therefore it is in order to say that this book contains message which are inspirational and can bring a complete change in ones life. It changed the life of the Augustine together with John Wesley people who had led a life that was not pleasant before the eyes of God.
They had struggled with the evils ways up to a point when the word was revealed to them changing their lives completely. John Wesley had set out to preach without being converted, after some years of struggling and failing he heard the teaching of Martin Luther describing the book of Romans. Listening to the true words of Luther the man was inspired and he was converted. He went to preach in many corners and has been described in the history of the church to have played a great role in the evangelical work of awakening the believers. (Moo, D 2002)
The kind of life that God expects from every person is what has touched many people in the course of the church history. From martin Luther to John Wesley there was realization that God expects us to be righteous before his eyes as Paul maintained in the book. On the same line God’s wrath does not discriminate, it is expressed impartially to all the sinners neither does He discriminate between the Christian Jews and the gentiles.
Before Paul sent the letter to the church in Rome the Jews prided to be the privileged people in the eyes of God but this notion was clearly explained by the book that set out to put the facts straight. On the same line the book of Romans came to be used in the protestant Reformation showing clearly that no one was too holy before the eyes of God to help in pardoning of the sins. Only God had the power to forgive the sins. The book as described by Luther addressed the issue clearly stating that no amount of payment towards indulgences was enough to forgive ones sins. (Moo, D1996)
The book of Romans influence to the church has been enormous right from the time Paul wrote the letter to clear the differences that existed in the Church of Rome. It is as a result of that explanation that the Gentiles faith was strengthened after understanding what God stood for as far as righteousness was concerned.
The book deals with the issues of sin, progressive sanctification, practical service and the gracious salvation issues that could have divided the church in Rome as Christian Jews and the Gentiles had different views regarding these issues. The book addresses God great plan for saving mankind by his grace. It clearly states that it is only through the grace of God that all those who believe in Him shall acquire this salvation. The book has been described as the comprehensive statement of faith and Christianity as a whole. It has been used by many believers to show what is expected of us and the church in general.
The basis of the Christian faith is based on this book and this explains why the book has in many cases changed the course of the church history especially when some people are out to mislead the believers in the matter of faith. Martin Luther used the book to show how the church had turned to be evil and led a revolution that came to bring openness in the church allowing people to read the word for themselves. (Hodge, C 1994)
The book of Romans importance to the Christian faith can not be underestimated; it has been relied on several occasions to shed light where misunderstandings have existed. The book has shaped the church making more responsive to the needs of a believer, trying as much as possible to reconcile the two issues of law and righteousness. The strong foundation of the Christian faith is found in this letter of Saint Paul to the people of Rome.
Dillenberger, J (1961) Martin Luther: Selections from His Writings, New York, Doubleday and CO
Moo, D(1996)The Epistle to the Romans. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Moo, D (2002) Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Exposition, Michigan, Baker Academic
Barth, K (1968) The Epistle to the Romans. Oxford University Press, 1968.
Hodge, C(1994) Commentary on Epistle to the Romans. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company