Dr. Constable begins his comments on the book of Romans by giving a detailed introduction that includes a section concerning the writer, recipients, purposes, genre, characteristics, value, outline, and message. There are several central teachings that are noted in the book of Romans. Those teachings are divided into two major categories: the tragic helplessness of the human race and the magnificence of the divine plan of salvation. There are also several major lessons found in the book of Romans, those lessons are as follows: the call to measure ourselves by divine standards, the call to live by faith, and the call to dedicate ourselves to God.
In his exposition of the book of Romans, Dr. Constable follows a clear and precise outline for the book. The introduction includes the first seventeen verses of chapter one. In this introduction we find a rather lengthy salutation which identifies the writer, introduces the subject, and greets the original readers. It is also mentioned that Paul uses his Roman name rather than his Jewish name (Saul), as he does in all of his epistles. Paul mentions that he is a bondservant of Jesus Christ. A bondservant is one who is a slave by choice. He is a willing servant of Christ. In verses 2-5 we find the subject of the epistle. The subject is none other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ of which Paul was called to proclaim. Verses 6-7 serve as a greeting to the original recipients. It is interesting that Paul had such concern for a church that he never been to.
In verses 8-15 of chapter one, the purpose of the book of Romans is noted. Paul was concerned for the welfare of the church. He wanted to share with them what God has revealed to him through divine revelation. Paul desired to visit Rome due to his love for Christian fellowship and his obligation to preach the Gospel to all people. Paul also identifies the two groups of Gentiles as Greeks and Barbarians. He was referring to the learned and the unlearned. Paul mentions that he has an obligation to preach the Gospel to both sects.
Dr. Constable’s exposition continues with a look at the theme of Romans found in verses 16-17 of chapter one. The theme is obviously the Gospel of Jesus Christ which has the power to transform lives. This Gospel is to be given to the Jew first and also to the Greek on a continual basis. A study of the book of Acts reveals this pattern in Paul’s ministry. This theme of the Gospel is important due to the need of all people as seen in 1:18-32. These verses show the need that all people have for God’s righteousness. Paul shows how that God is just in His condemnation of sin and that no one has an excuse due to both the natural revelation of God found in creation and the innate knowledge of God and the need for a Savior that is built in all creatures created in God’s image. It is noted that those who respond to this revelation is given more light until they come to a place where they hear the Gospel and have an opportunity to receive it. Mankind, however, has a tendency to suppress the truth of God’s Word. As a result of ignoring God’s truth, mankind is given over to terrible wickedness which naturally brings upon themselves the wrath of God.
In chapter two and three of Romans, we find the need for the Gospel also applies to those who already have an understanding of the truth. Even those who are moral and religious are guilty before God. Everyone deserves the wrath of God. Our only hope is for the imputation of God’s righteousness as is pointed out in 3:21-5:21. Dr. Constable gives a wonderful description of justification. It is pointed out that the “righteousness of God” is God’s method of bringing people into a right relationship with Himself. Through faith, God’s righteousness becomes man’s possession. Justification is God’s declaration of a sinner (coming to Christ through faith) that he or she is righteous. Justification does not make us righteous, it declares us righteous. This justification is a free gift given to us by God because of His great love for us. Dr. Constable ends this section by dealing with a defense of justification by faith alone as seen in Romans 3:27-31. It is noted that there is no place for human boasting in the plan of salvation. It is all by the grace of God that we are justified.