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J. B. Lightfoot :: An Analysis of the Epistle to the Romans

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i. Salutation. 1:1-7

  • Paul called to be an apostle to the Romans called as believers. Grace and peace in Jesus Christ.

ii. Personal explanations. 1:8-15

  • His thanksgivings for them and his interest in them. His desire to see them and to impart some spiritual gift to them. His obligation to preach the Gospel to all men. He is not ashamed of the Gospel.


i. What is the Gospel? 1:16-18

  • A righteousness of God to every one that believeth, to the Jew first and then to the Greek. A righteousness by faith, just as the wrath of God falls on all impiety and unrighteousness.

ii. State of the Gentile world. 1:19-32

  • They might have seen God through His works. They refused to see Him. They disputed, and they blinded their hearts. They worshipped men and beasts.
  • Therefore they were delivered over to impurity. Their shameless lusts. Their violent and unruly passions. Their lack of all natural affection. They not only did these things; but they took delight in those who did them.

iii. State of Jewish people. 2:1-29

  • The Jews condemn the Gentiles and yet do the same things. Their wrong-doing and stubbornness will be equally punished. As the Jew has a priority of knowledge, so also he has a priority of condemnation. Those without the law and those under the law will both be judged by the standard under which they lived. The natural conscience is to the heathen as a rule.
  • The Jew has God's law, and is proud of his privileges. Yet he violates the law. Thus his circumcision is no better than the uncircumcision of the heathen. The mere outward token is worth nothing.

iv. But if so, what is the meaning of the covenant? 3:1-20

  • In other words, in what does the privilege of the Jew consist? It is great in many ways. First of all, the oracles of God were entrusted to the Jews.
  • But what if they disbelieved? Do you say that then the Jews have no preference? No, none at all. Their own Scriptures condemn them, as having sinned one and all. By the works of the law no flesh shall be justified before Him.

v. To meet this universal failure, a universal remedy is found. 3:21-31

  • This remedy is 'a righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ,' accorded to all, to Jew and Gentile alike. Past sins of the world have been overlooked, that now God might shew His righteousness.
  • We do not annihilate law by this: we confirm law.

vi. But our father Abraham-what is the meaning of the covenant made with him? 4:1-25

  • He is an example of this very principle, for he was justified through faith. For he that believeth in God Who justifieth the impious-his faith is counted for righteousness. Such is the language of the Psalms. Remember that Abraham was still uncircumcised at this time. It was not through circumcision, still less through law, that he was justified. Law worketh wrath, for it creates transgression.
  • Thus Abraham is the father of the faithful. He hoped against hope, and so was justified. This was written for our sakes, who believe on Him Who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.

vii. The results of this position of righteousness through faith. 5:1-11

  • (a) Peace before God.
  • (b) Confident boasting.
  • (c) Patience under affliction.
  • The love of God has been manifested through the death of Christ: and this is an assurance that, as we have been reconciled through Christ's death, so we shall be saved, shall live, in Christ's life.

viii. The terms 'life' and 'death' explained. 5:12-21

  • The parallel of the First and Second Adam. Through the First Adam death came into the world: through the Second, life. The death passed over all: so a fortiori the life.
  • The law only interposed to heighten the sense of sin, and so to increase the effect of grace.

ix. What is to be the influence of all this on our conduct? 6:1-14

  • Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? This is a contradiction of the very conception of our position. We have been crucified, have died, with Christ, to sin; we have risen, have been made alive to God, to righteousness.
  • Therefore we must recognize this death, this life, in our conduct. Sin shall be no longer your master, 'for ye are not under law, but under grace.'

x. But if so, if we are under grace, and not under law, shall we commit sin? 6:15-23

  • No: you were slaves once to sin: now you are slaves to righteousness. What came of your former slavery? Death. What of your present slavery? Eternal life.

xi. The assertion substantiated, 'Ye are not under law.' 7:1-6

  • The obligation of the law in the case of a contract is cancelled by death. The wife is free to marry when her husband dies.
  • So in Christ's body, death has interposed between you and the law, the law is dead to you and you to the law. The newness of the Spirit is substituted for the oldness of the letter.

xii. But is not all this tantamount to saying that the law is sin? 7:7-24

  • On the contrary, sin is revealed and condemned by the law. Sin is dormant and dead, until it is quickened by the law. Sin is then revived and I am slain. But the purpose of the law is life, though the actual result may be death to me. The object of the law is to deepen sin; and the conflict within myself vindicates the spirituality, the holiness, of the law.
  • True, I sin through the law; but I sin against my conscience, and therefore I testify to the holiness of the law. The holiness of the law is thus vindicated; but woe is me, wretched sinner, how shall I be rescued?

xiii. Thanks to God through Christ, there is no condemnation to those in Christ. 7:25-8:11

  • Through Christ, God has freed us from sin and death. We have been transferred from the domain of the flesh to the domain of the Spirit. It is the Spirit of Christ that quickens our spirits, and it will quicken our mortal bodies also.

xiv. Therefore we are bound to live after the Spirit. 8:12-39

  • The Spirit witnesses that we are sons and heirs. Thus present afflictions sink into insignificance: while we yearn for the future redemption. We hope and we trust, even where we cannot see.
  • For God hath foreknown and foreordained us; and if He is with us, who can oppose us? No sufferings, therefore, no sorrows, shall separate us from the love of God in Christ.

xv. But what about the Jews? 9:1-13

  • I have unspeakable sorrow on their behalf, bearing in mind their great privileges. Yet God's word is true: not all Israel shall be saved. The Scriptures always speak of a part, e.g. in Isaac, and again in Jacob.

xvi. It is as God foreordains, not as man likes. 9:14-33

  • So in Pharaoh's case. Yet what man shall impugn the purpose of God, Who moulds us as the potter his clay? The gathering-in of the Gentiles as well as the saved remnant of the Israelites is foretold by the prophets. Heathendom has attained unto righteousness, Israel has stumbled on the rock of offence.

xvii. Thus the zeal of the Jews has been ineffectual, for they have sought righteousness in a false way. 10:1-21

  • Righteousness is of faith, which believes in Christ's death and Christ's ascension. Here Jew and Gentile are on a level. The Gospel must be preached to all, but all will not listen to the preaching. This too was foretold by the prophets. The Gentiles, it was predicted, should excite Israel to emulation.

xviii. Has God then rejected His people? 11:1-16

  • No, it is now as of old. The faithful are few, and the apostles many. But their apostasy has brought salvation to the Gentiles. And ultimately the faith of the Gentiles will re-act and draw the Jews into the fold.

xix. Meanwhile the Gentiles have no ground for boasting. 11:17-36

  • They are simply the wild graft on the cultivated tree. Their superiority is but for a time. Israel at length will be saved with them. Thus God hath concluded all under unbelief that He may have mercy upon all. Marvellous is the wisdom of God, to Whom be glory for ever.


  • Present your bodies a living sacrifice. Ye are limbs of Christ's body. The metaphor implies diversities of functions. Let each do his own work.
  • Observe charity in all forms. Overcome evil with good.
  • Be obedient to the temporal powers. They are God's delegates. Render to all their due, i.e. love they neighbour as thyself. Love is the fulfilling of the law.
  • Let each man look to himself, and each respect the conscience of another.
  • So in the observance of days. So also in the observance of meats.
  • Let the strong especially deal tenderly with the scruples of the weak, and put no stumblingblock in his way.
  • We must not please ourselves, but each his neighbour.
  • God grant that you may so live in harmony, that with one accord with one mouth ye may glorify God.
  • Receive one another therefore, as Christ received you. For Christ came as a minister of the circumcision, that through Him the Gentiles also might be brought into the fold; and the prophecies might be fulfilled which spoke of the joint tribute of praise of Jews and Gentiles.
  • This do, and God will fill you with all joy in believing.


i. The Apostle's motive in writing the letter. 15:14-21

  • This I am persuaded you will do; but I have written to remind you, as your Apostle, as the Apostle of the Gentiles. As such I have preached the Gospel far and wide, not building on other men's foundations.

ii. His intention of visiting them. 15:22-33

  • For this reason I have been prevented from visiting you. But I have hope to see you on my way to Spain. At present I am bound to Jerusalem, as bearers of alms for the poor brethren. Pray that I may be delivered from the unbelieving Jews there and may be free to visit you. I am persuaded that the blessing of God will attend my visit.

iii. Greetings. 16:1-20

  • I Commend you to Phebe, the bearer of this letter.
  • Salute all the saints by name. The Churches of Christ salute you.
  • I charge you to avoid divisions and offences. So will the God of peace crush Satan under your feet.
  • The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

iv. Postscript. 16:21-27

  • Timothy, Lucius, Jason, Sosipater salute you.
  • I, Tertius, the amanuensis, salute you.
  • Gaius, my kind host, salutes you: so do Erastus and Quartus.
  • The Doxology.
An Analysis of the Epistle to the Romans ← Prior Section
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The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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