Romans Introduction (NIV)


Description and/or characterizations of a person or a people.The writer of this letter was the apostle Paul (see 1:1 and note). 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 The letter contains a number of historical references that agree with known facts of Paul’s life.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.

Date and Place of Writing

The book was probably written in the early spring of a.d. 57 (see chart, p. 2261). Very likely Paul was on his third missionary journey, ready to return to Jerusalem with the offering from the mission churches for poverty-stricken believers in Jerusalem (see 15:25–27and notes). In 15:26 it is suggested that Paul had already received contributions from the churches of Macedonia and Achaia, so he either was at Corinth or had already been there. Since he had not yet been at Corinth (on his third missionary journey) when he wrote 1 Corinthians (cf. 1Co 16:1–4) and the collection issue had still not been resolved when he wrote 2 Corinthians (2Co 8–9), the writing of Romans must follow that of 1,2 Corinthians (dated c. 55).

The most likely place of writing is either Corinth or Cenchrea (about six miles away) because of references to Phoebe of Cenchrea (see 16:1 and note) and to Gaius, Paul’s host (see 16:23 and note), who was probably a Corinthian (see 1Co 1:14). Erastus (see 16:23and note) may also have been a Corinthian (see 2Ti 4:20).


Description and/or characterizations of a person or a people.The original recipients of the letter were the people of the church at Rome (1:7), who were predominantly Gentile. Jews, however, must have constituted a substantial minority of the congregation (see 4:1; chs. 9–11; see also note on 1:13). Perhaps Paul originally sent the entire letter to the Roman church, after which he or someone else used a shorter form (chs. 1–14 or 1–15) for more general distribution. See note on 2Pe 3:15; see also map, p. 2314.

Major Theme

Paul’s primary theme in Romans is the basic gospel, God’s plan of salvation and righteousness for all humankind, Jew and Gentile alike (see 1:16–17 and notes). Although justification by faith has been suggested by some as the theme, it would seem that a broader theme states the message of the book more adequately. “Righteousness from God” (1:17) includes justification by faith, but it also embraces such related ideas as guilt, sanctification and security.


Paul’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 letters states so profoundly the content of the gospel and its implications for both the present and the future.

Special Characteristics

  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 letters, 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.


Romans Introduction

I have finished preparing for The Marriage Retreat at Lake Geneva.  Now I can get back to my regularly scheduled programming.  I had finished the book of Acts at the end of the Summer and this was the conclusion of studying Matthew through Acts as a series.  Now I am looking at Paul’s first letter.  Romans wasn’t necessarily written first, but it is included first because it is the longest of the letters.  It has a high place in church tradition because it complains the most complete overview of Paul’s theology.  Evangelists have used it to preach the gospel and have extracted a summary which is sometimes called The Roman Road.  I have personally written it out by hand a couple of times and sent it to friends as though it were a personal communication from me.

It is exciting to think that I will be working through a book again.


God prepare our hearts for a journey down the Roman Road.  May we build upon what we know and challenge those thoughts too.  For your glory.


  1. Who write Romans?
  2. What was the date of the book?
  3. Why was it written?
  4. What are some main themes?
  5. What comes to mind when you think of the book of Romans?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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17 Responses to Romans Introduction (NIV)

  1. Emmy R says:

    I am excited to take this journey through Romans as well. I am currently enrolled in the Romans class at Moody, and even though I have read the book on several occasions, I am being blown away by all that I am learning. This book is filled with so much truth and application for our lives as God’s children, and I am excited to dig even deeper.

  2. Maria T. says:

    1. Who wrote Romans? Paul
    2. What was the date of the book? ca. AD 57
    3. Why was it written? Paul wrote Romans to prepare for his visit, to present the basic system of salvation to a church he had not yet visited, and to explain the relationship of the Jew and the Gentile in salvation.
    4. What are some main themes? Salvation and righteousness
    5. What comes to mind when you think of the book of Romans? Usually, I think about how it is a systematic presentation of the gospel. I will often think about the verses I have memorized from Romans. Right now I am enrolled in a course on Romans, so I am thinking about the work for that class.

  3. Christa says:

    1. Who write Romans? The apostle Paul
    2. What was the date of the book? Ad 57
    3. Why was it written? To prepare for his visit to Rome, to explain a basic outline of salvation, to show the relationship between Jews and Gentiles in Christ
    4. What are some main themes? The righteousness of God, salvation, justice, the church, Israel
    5. What comes to mind when you think of the book of Romans? The righteousness of God given to the body of Christ through the sacrifice of Christ

  4. Molly says:

    I am sad that the marriage series is finished 😦 but excited to start a series on Romans! I was listening to a lecture last night and NT Wright had some interesting interpretations of the book of Romans. Curious to see how you interpret and if you two draw on the same conclusions.

  5. Kimberly W. says:

    I have to admit, I have some mixed feelings on a series in Romans. I am currently enrolled in a Romans class, and am not enjoying it. The class is rather tedious and I do not enjoy it. However, I did read through the entire book of Romans this past weekend (part of a class assignment), and enjoyed all the theological truths in it. A lot of truths to wrestle with, as well. I am in interested in seeing your interpretations of Romans and reading your comments on the book, especially on some of the passages I find personally challenging.

  6. Michael McCardle says:

    Who write Romans?
    The Apostle Paul
    What was the date of the book?
    AD 57
    Why was it written?
    Paul was wanting to visit the church in Rome and this book outlines faith and how the Jews and Gentiles are all able to participate in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
    What are some main themes?
    Justification through faith alone, grace, salvation, justice, Israel,
    What comes to mind when you think of the book of Romans?
    The Truth of the Gospel

  7. Megumi says:

    1. Paul wrote Romans
    2. Romans was probably written in A.D. 57
    3. Romans was written as a letter communicating Christian doctrine to the church in Rome.
    4. Righteousness, justification, sanctification, the gospel, God’s plan for Israel…
    5. The Roman’s Road

  8. Jung Kim says:

    Who write Romans? Paul wrote Romans.
    What was the date of the book? A.D. 57
    Why was it written? Paul was wanting to visit the church in Rome and his purpose was to outline faith and relationship of Jews and Gentiles in salvation.
    What are some main themes? Salvation, justification, faith alone.
    What comes to mind when you think of the book of Romans? Among many, probably Romans 8.

  9. PAul wrote the book of Romans in 57 AD. It was written because Paul wanted to communicate Christian truths to the church of Rome. Some themes throughout Romans are salvation, justification, and sanctification. The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the book of Romans is the Roman’s road which can be used to present the gospel.

  10. Olyn says:

    Who write Romans? Paul
    What was the date of the book? early spring AD 57
    Why was it written? present basic salvation plan and to address issues within the church
    What comes to mind when you think of the book of Romans? I think of how the book explains the gospel

  11. 1. Paul wrote Romans.
    2. The book was written in the early spring of a.d. 57 during Paul’s third missionary journey.
    3. Paul wrote Romans to prepare the way for his coming visit to Rome and his proposed mission to Spain.
    4. The main themes are the basic gospel, God’s plan of salvation and righteousness for all humankind, Jew and Gentile alike.
    5. When I think of Romans I think of the Romans road, which clearly explains the Gospel.

  12. 1. and 2. Paul wrote Romans in 57 A.D.
    3. Paul wrote to communicate the gospel to the church at Rome, to clear up the relationship between Jews and Gentiles as believers, and to prepare the church at Rome for his coming.
    4. Paul’s theme is God’s salvation plan which has been accomplished through the gospel and will be realized in its fullness when Christ returns.
    5. I think of my grandpa. He loved the book of Romans and when I studied through it as an 11 year old he encouraged me in memorizing the passages.

  13. Maelynn says:

    5. Romans is one of my favorite books. So many verses in it can be used to help unbelievers and guide belivers. So many verses are “key” verses in Romans. This show how many themes Paul truly touches on. I love how Romans shows us the rawness and humanity of man and the sufficiency and grace of Jesus Christ.

  14. Nate Silvieus says:

    I am really looking forward to a study in the book of Romans. I have not done a serious reading and studying of it since my senior year of high school. So much of it contains foundational truths to the gospel and those are always necessary for Christians to come back to and study. There are also much deeper topics in the letter that all Christians need to look into and discuss for they can become controversial. I hope and pray that through this study I will learn so much more and deepen my relationship with Jesus who makes the truths of Romans possible in my life.

  15. Andrew Moore says:

    1. Paul
    2. AD 57
    3. Paul wanted to visit the church at Rome
    4. Some main themes are – Salvation and Justification
    5. Complex and comprehensive theological arguments

  16. I enjoy Romans a great deal, and since I am currently enrolled in the”Romans” course it has become more personal to me. I see this book as the whole package. A decree, if you will to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles alike. A letter to proclaim truth to them, though they may know some of these things, it is a reminder of the righteousness they behold. The Romans were not sinless by any means, and some who would read Romans and read about the details of their son would say, “they look like pagans, who should go to hell!”. But the most beautiful thing is, God is the one who declares people righteous, not us. We have a standing with him that no one can take away, so be free from the sin that holds you bondage because we now have the strength to live holy lives by God’s Holy Spirit.

  17. Christina W. says:

    1) Paul
    2) AD 57
    3) To prepare for Paul’s coming visit, to lay out the message of salvation, and to explain the relationship between Jews and Gentiles.
    4) The basic Gospel message, salvation, righteousness, and justification.
    5) When I first think of Romans, I think of deep theology and the plan of salvation.

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