Many Biblical books have one or more verses that express their themes very well. Paul’s letter to the Romans also has one:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written, “The righteous by faith will live.”
Romans 1:16-17 NET
4 FEATURES OF THE LETTER
- As one of the longest, Romans appears first in the New Testament collection of letters. Perhaps the book’s theme, about God’s work to save man, helped when it came to organizing the canon.
- The work of God is a major emphasis in the letter. The word “God” is used 153 times, much more than in any other of Paul’s letters.
- At this writing, Paul had never been to Rome. He hopes to visit the Christians there. He wants them to help him in his missionary journey to Spain. Through the letter, he wants to be sure that everyone is on the same page as far as the content of the gospel.
- The letter begins and ends with the same phrase: “the obedience of faith” (1:5 and 16:26). By this inclusio, Paul also wants to emphasis the importance of man’s response to the gospel. (One Portuguese version translates “works” [of merit] in chapter 3 as “obedience,” which makes Paul contradict himself. There’s a great difference between the two!)
Holy Father, may we read the New Testament documents with a spiritual and missionary appreciation.
Hold this thought: God’s work is worth nothing to the man who does nothing to accept it.