The significance of the book of Romans throughout church history cannot be overstated. Many of Christendom’s greatest reformations and revivals were sparked by Paul’s letter to the Romans.
Augustine of Hippo, arguably the most influential theologian for centuries, was converted to Christ after reading a single passage from Romans 13. Martin Luther’s newfound understanding of the righteousness of God led to the 16th-century Protestant Reformation (Ro 1:17). Romans taught John Wesley, who became instrumental in one of England’s greatest revivals, the true meaning of the gospel after he failed as a missionary in America.
Frédéric Louis Godet, a Swiss theologian, was right when he called Romans “the cathedral of Christian faith.” According to John Calvin, “When anyone gains a knowledge of this Epistle, he has an entrance opened to him to all the most hidden treasures of Scripture.”
I agree. This book dramatically changed my life twice.
The first time was soon after my conversion. In my early twenties, I was studying Scripture as never before, trying to determine what I believed about certain fundamental doctrines. I had returned to my family’s church, a Calvinistic group that believes in the total depravity of sinners and the sovereign election of God for salvation, but those teachings didn’t sit well with me. Though I initially turned to Romans to disprove the church’s soteriology, Paul’s letter persuaded me otherwise. Romans chapters 3 and 9, in particular, convinced me the group was right after all.
Years later, Romans completed my understanding of salvation and the gospel. The latter half of Romans 3 as well as chapter 4 highlighted a few of my shortcomings regarding the doctrine of justification. Chapters 6 through 8 filled out my rather anemic comprehension of sanctification. Nearly nine years after church elders ordained me for pastoral ministry, I left the denomination of my upbringing.
October will mark the fifth anniversary of my departure, and I’m still trying to help family members and a few close friends understand why I left. Recently, I began a private Bible study of Romans with them for this purpose. I’m also considering a future audio series on Paul’s epistle, “the chief part of the New Testament and the very purest gospel,” as Martin Luther called it.
As I study through the book once again, I’ll share my observations, insights, and commentary little by little. I welcome your questions and feedback.