Outline: The Book of Romans

Highlighting structure and themes in Paul's epistle to the Christians in Rome

High Angle View Of Bible On Pew At Church
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For centuries, students of the Bible from all walks of life have hailed the Book of Romans as one of the most important theological expressions in the history of the world. It's an incredible book packed with incredible content regarding the power of the gospel for salvation and for everyday life.

And when I say "packed," I mean it. Even the most ardent fans of Paul's epistle to the church at Rome will also agree that Romans is a dense and often confusing tome.

It's not a letter to be taken lightly or browsed a piece at a time over the course of years.

Therefore, below you will find a quick-hitting outline of the major themes contained in the Book of Romans. This isn't intended to be a Cliff's Notes version of Paul's epistle. Rather, it can be helpful to keep a broad outline in view as you engage each chapter and verse of this amazing book.

The content from this outline is largely based on the similarly dense and helpful book The Cradle, The Cross, and the Crown: An introduction to the New Testament -- by Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L. Quarles.

Quick Summary

Looking at the structure of Romans, chapters 1–8 deal primarily with explaining the gospel message (1:1-17), explaining why we need to embrace the gospel (1:18–4:25), and explaining the benefits conferred by embracing the gospel (5:1–8:39).

After a brief interlude addressing the implications of the gospel for the people of Israel (9:1–11:36), Paul concluded his letter with several chapters of basic instructions and exhortations that flesh out the practical implications of the gospel in everyday life (12:1–15:13).

That's a quick overview of Romans. Now let's outline each of those sections in greater detail.

Section 1: Introduction (1:1-17)

I. Paul offers a brief summary of the gospel message.
     -- Jesus Christ is the focus of the gospel.
     -- Paul is qualified to proclaim the gospel.
II. Paul's longing to visit the church in Rome for the purpose of mutual encouragement.


III. The gospel reveals God's power for salvation and righteousness.

Section 2: Why We Need the Gospel (1:18 - 4:25)

I. Theme: All people have a need for justification before God.
     -- The natural world reveals the existence of God as Creator; therefore, people are without excuse for ignoring Him.
     -- The Gentiles are sinful and have earned God's wrath (1:18-32).
     -- The Jews are sinful and have earned God's wrath (2:1-29).
     -- Circumcision and obeying the Law are not enough to appease God's wrath for sin.

II. Theme: Justification is a gift from God.
     -- All people (Jews and Gentiles) are powerless against sin. No one is righteous before God based on their own merit (3:1-20).
     -- People don't have to earn forgiveness because God has granted us justification as a gift.
     -- We can only receive this gift through faith (3:21-31).
     -- Abraham was an example of someone who received righteousness through faith, not through his own works (4:1-25).

Section 3: The Blessings We Receive Through the Gospel (5:1 - 8:39)

I. Blessing: The gospel brings peace, righteousness, and joy (5:1-11).
     -- Because we are made righteous, we can experience peace with God.
     -- Even during the sufferings of this life, we can have confidence in our salvation.

II. Blessing: The gospel allows us to escape the consequences of sin (5:12-21).
     -- Sin entered the world through Adam and has corrupted all people.
     -- Salvation entered the world through Jesus and has been offered to all people.
     -- The Law was given to reveal the presence of sin in our lives, not to provide an escape from sin.

III. Blessing: The gospel frees us from slavery to sin (6:1-23).
     -- We should not view God's grace as an invitation to continue in our sinful behavior.
     -- We have been united with Jesus in His death; therefore, sin has been killed in us.
     -- If we continue to offer ourselves to sin, we become enslaved once again.
     -- We should live as people who are dead to sin and alive to our new Master: Jesus.

IV. Blessing: The gospel frees us from slavery to the Law (7:1-25).


     -- The Law was meant to define sin and reveal its presence in our lives.
     -- We are unable to live in obedience to the Law, which is why the Law cannot save us from the power of sin.
     -- The death and resurrection of Jesus has rescued us from our inability to earn salvation through obeying God's Law.

V. Blessing: The gospel offers us a righteous life through the Spirit (8:1-17).
     -- The power of the Holy Spirit allows us to gain victory over sin in our lives.
     -- Those who live by the power of God's Spirit can rightly be called God's children.

VI. Blessing: The gospel offers us ultimate victory over sin and death (8:18-39).
     -- In this life we experience longing for our ultimate victory in heaven.
     -- God will complete what He has started in our lives through the power of His Spirit.
     -- We are more than conquerors in light of eternity because nothing can separate us from God's love.

Section 4: The Gospel and the Israelites (9:1 - 11:36)

I. Theme: The church has always been part of God's plan.
     -- Israel had rejected Jesus, the Messiah (9:1-5).
     -- Israel's rejection doesn't mean that God broke His promises to the Israelites.
     -- God has always been free to choose a people according to His own plan (9:6-29).
     -- The church has become a portion of God's people by seeking righteousness through faith.

II. Theme: Many people have missed the point concerning God's Law.
     -- While the Gentiles pursued righteousness through faith, the Israelites were still clinging to the idea of achieving righteousness through their own work.


     -- The Law has always pointed toward Jesus, the Christ, and away from self-righteousness.
     -- Paul offered several examples from the Old Testament that point to the gospel message of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus (10:5-21).

III. God still has plans for the Israelites, His people.
     -- God chose a remnant of Israelites to experience salvation through Christ (11:1-10).
     -- Gentiles (the church) should not become arrogant; God will once again turn His attention to the Israelites (11:11-32).
     -- God is wise and powerful enough to save all who seek Him.

Section 5: The Practical Implications of the Gospel (12:1 - 15:13)

I. Theme: The gospel results in spiritual transformation for God's people.
     -- We respond to the gift of salvation by offering ourselves in worship to God (12:1-2).
     -- The gospel changes the way we treat one another (12:3-21).
     -- The gospel even impacts the way we respond to authority, including government (13:1-7).
     -- We must respond to our transformation by actually doing what God wants us to do, because the time is near (13:8-14).

II. Theme: The gospel is the primary concern for followers of Jesus.
     -- Christians will disagree even as we try to follow Christ together.
     -- Jewish and Gentile Christians in Paul's day disagreed about meat sacrificed to idols and following ritual holy days from the Law (14:1-9).
     -- The message of the gospel is more important than our disagreements.
     -- All Christians should strive for unity in order to glorify God (14:10 - 15:13).

Section 6: Conclusion (15:14 - 16:27)

I. Paul detailed his travel plans, including a hoped-for visit to Rome (15:14-33).

II. Paul concluded with personal greetings for various people and groups within the church at Rome (16:1-27).