The Fascination of Romans
With precision, the words of the apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Romans prick the yearning of our longings for understanding. Such complicated matters of divinity demand answers. Through Paul’s pen, the Lord provides some of the clearest answers to some of the most difficult theology in the Christian life.
Of the 66 books in the Bible, Romans stands with but a few others in the fascination it draws. It provokes scrutiny, sentiment, and study. It becomes a chosen book of study more frequently than most other books.
In fact, a look at over 1500 classes of theology and religion across the United States reveals that nearly one out of every fifty textbooks is a commentary on Romans. While a mere 2% may not seem like a staggering number, the significance of that number is magnified when we realize that those classes include a wide array of classes, audiences, and denominations and despite such a broad view, nearly all the different disciplines in theological studies are concerned about the study of Romans as one of the most fundamental to understanding the Bible.
Why is it that so many are concerned about the book of Romans? What is it about the truth contained within these 16 chapters that demands so much of our attention?
The Study of Romans
Romans is an important book for the believer. It brings forth some prominent concepts that many would fail to consider if it were not for their issue in the Epistle to the Romans. As such, Romans captures the attention of so many in the following three ways: It’s devotion to God, its devotion to people, and its devotion to the relationship between God and people.
Devoted Attention to God
Intensely theological, the book of Romans reveals much about God. From the book, one can see that God has taken it upon Himself to reveal Himself to men and that revelation is meant to compel men and women to seek God out (Romans 1:16-32). It makes logical sense that as men and women have a deep yearning to understand God better, they would turn to Romans to satisfy that craving.
Devoted Attention to Men
Not only is Romans intensely theological, but it is intensely practical. It is a book that reveals much about who people are. We see in it that when we are left to our own ambitions we will turn away from God and to idolatry (Romans 1:18-32). In fact, Paul writes with deep conviction about the guilt of all men and women when they stand apart from God (Romans 1:16-3:20).
Perhaps the best unification between doctrine and duty can be seen in the transition that takes place in Romans 12. From 12:1-15:13 Paul exhorts men to live out a new life that reflects Christ both in the church body and in the secular world.
Devoted Attention to the Relationship Between God and Man
Finally, Paul does not merely write about who God is and who man is. Paul binds the two together to suggest that God is active in pursuing a relationship with His people (Romans 8). In fact, the book of Romans reveals much about the intricacies and details of the gospel message. From it we learn about the justification of men before God, the rendering of a verdict that declares the Christian to be not guilty because of the work of Christ (Romans 3:21-5:21). That justification brings forth new life, bound to God by the Holy Spirit and no longer dominated by sin (Romans 6:1-8:39). Such great attention to the relationship between God and men provides not just condemnation for those who turn from Him, but intense hope for those who turn to Him. It is a hope that commands our attention and compels us to study Romans all the more.
The Response of Romans
More than merely piquing the interest of readers, Romans is a book that demands response. It demands a decisive role in the lives of believers. And so there are three responses that should be had:
- Appreciate It: First, one must develop a high appreciation of God’s word through the book of Romans. Appreciation is manifested by reading Romans and studying it.
- Accept It: Romans is a book that challenges are natural human inclinations. However, as God’s truth, it requires that we accept it as such, even when there are great points that we disagree with or don’t want to accept because it means denying ourselves.
- Apply It: No study of God’s Word is complete without an application of it. The intensity of Paul’s theology in Romans 1-11 demands the intensity of application of it found in Romans 12-15.
Studied much, the book of Romans provides foundational understanding to the Christian life. With so much information provided in such a little amount of space, Romans is a commanding book that captures our attention . . . and it does so rightly. It becomes important not just to the study of the Christian life, but to the sanctification of the Christian life.