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  • Writer's pictureClay Burgess

Keys to Teaching Christ in Romans

Updated: Jul 13, 2023


Paul’s epistle to the believers in Rome is considered his magnus opus. In this most systematic presentation of doctrine in the Bible, Paul unpacks the significance of Jesus’ sacrificial work on the cross. He gives more than just facts and data to believers; he also offers challenging exhortations on how the Christian life should be lived. In Romans, the reader will find understanding into important facets of the Gospel. Processing these Gospel facets is key to directing our affections and motivations for living out the Christian faith. Using the literary style of questions and answers, Paul makes the case that the Christ-follower’s motivations should be to give, go, and serve selflessly and sacrificially, because that is what Jesus did for them. As the believer grows in their understanding of the Gospel, their actions, influence, and impact on the world will follow!

Key Texts:

  • Romans 1:16-17—This passage provides Paul’s theme for the epistle. He clearly states that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation.

  • Romans 3:21-26—All have sinned but can be redeemed by the grace of Jesus as a gift.

  • Romans 5:6-11—Jesus died for us while we were still sinners so that those who put their faith in Him can be reconciled to God.

  • Romans 6:14, 23—Because of the work of Jesus on the cross, those that believe in Him are freed from sin and receive eternal life.

  • Romans 8—Arguably the greatest chapter in the Bible. It is bookended with truths of “no condemnation” and no separation from God for the one who trusts in Jesus. Verse 32 is an important reminder of the goodness, kindness, and generosity of God “who did not spare His own Son” so eternal life could be possible.

  • Romans 12:1-2—Because of the work of Jesus, believers can choose not to be conformed to the ways of the world but be transformed and live according to God’s will.

  • Romans 15:13—Because of the work of Jesus, believers can live lives of joy, peace, and hope today.

Key Themes:

  • Justification—Justification is a legal term and means to be declared righteous. It is the opposite of condemnation. Justification is God’s declaration that we are righteous before Him. No one can justify themselves, therefore they need help from outside. We are justified by grace, unmerited favor, through faith in Jesus and His work on the cross. When we are justified, righteousness is exchanged. Our sins are transferred to Jesus and His righteousness is transferred to us. Martin Luther called this “the Great Exchange.”

  • Propitiation—Propitiation means to satisfy the demands of justice. It requires a sacrifice to absorb God’s wrath that is rightfully due a sinner and thus allows the sinner to receive God’s favor. Because of the work of Jesus as our propitiation, God’s wrath is averted or taken from us.

  • Redemption—Redemption is a commercial term borrowed from the marketplace. It presupposes captivity or bondage and that a ransom must be paid by a benefactor to gain someone’s freedom. Jesus became the ransom for us. He took the initiative and paid the price to redeem us from sin, God’s wrath, and the curse of death.

  • Reconciliation—Reconciliation is necessary when there has been a disruption in a relationship. Where there were once no barriers, there is now a wall, a divide separating what was once a vibrant and healthy connection. In our lives, sin has ruptured our relationship with God. In love, Jesus has absorbed our sin and made reconciliation with God possible, thus restoring our relationship with Him. Jesus not only reconciled us to the Father but entrusted us with the message of reconciliation and made us His ambassadors for the sake of the world.

  • Sacrifice—A sacrifice is necessary to restore our relationship with God. Our sin separates us from God and creates a barrier that prevents us from having access to Him. Jesus gave His life as a sacrifice for our sins, to pay the penalty of death, and renew our connection with our Creator. Jesus paid the penalty we deserved so we could have life. Jesus sacrificed and gave His life for our benefit. Following His example, we should sacrifice for the benefit of others.

Key Resources:

  • Romans, 2nd edition in BECNT, Thomas Schreiner. Provides solid treatment of the key theological themes in Romans.

  • The Letter to the Romans, 2nd edition in NICNT, Douglas Moo. Along with Schreiner, one of the typical “go to” commentaries when studying Romans. It provides helpful exegetical insights.

  • The Cross of Christ and Romans, John Stott. Excellent insights in understandable language. Both are extremely helpful in understanding and better appreciating the key facets of the Gospel.

  • The Epistle to the Romans and The Atonement, Leon Morris. Much like Stott, Morris does a tremendous job making the key facets of the Gospel accessible.

  • Romans for You, 1-7; 8-16, Tim Keller. These books provide introductory insights and thoughts from Keller’s study notes. This is a solid resource to use with a small group working through Romans.


A study of Romans is a must to better understand the depth of what the Gospel has accomplished. The longer one lingers over the great themes in Romans the greater life transformation one will experience, particularly regarding one’s affections towards God. The visible results will be in motivations and desires. The diligent student of Romans will be energized to give, go, and serve others willingly as they appreciate that Jesus gave, came, and served them willingly. Those actions will impact and influence a world in need of hope!

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