After serving in Ephesus for three years, Paul concluded his third missionary journey with a trip through Greece (Macedonia and Achaia), where he collected a benevolent gift for the churches in Jerusalem and Judea. Somewhere along that route, he paused long enough to write a letter to some folks that he had never met. Paul penned the Epistle of Romans, promising that he would visit Rome after delivering the gift to Jerusalem (Romans 15:25-28).
Paul was a missionary pastor and church planter and he longed to visit the capital of the Roman Empire. “I want very much to see you, so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, to be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” (Romans 1:11–12). Paul’s second and third missionary journey had carried him into Europe. Now, Paul planned his fourth international tour to include a stop in Rome, with the ultimate destination in Spain (Romans 1:13–15).
The Epistle of Romans in the longest and most theological of Paul’s thirteen epistles. It’s a logical, systematic theology, laying out the themes of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone. Paul started by declaring man’s desperate need of a savior. “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10) and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
The Apostle continued by exploring God’s remedy for man’s sin. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). “God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
If the Epistle could be likened to the Himalayas, then chapter eight must be the highest peak, Mount Everest. It begins with “no condemnation” and flows beautifully to “no separation.” “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1) and now “there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1–2).
Oh, what a Savior! Oh, what a salvation! “All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:14–17).
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37–39). Thanks be to God!
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1–2).
The Roman Road to Salvation is said to meander thought the Epistle. I believe every follower of Christ should often stroll deliberately down its lovely paths, pausing often to meditate on its depth and height, its grandeur and glory!