Romans 1. 1-7: An Outline

A. C. Perry, Cardiff

Every language has its own way of beginning and ending letters. Archaeologists and historians have demonstrated that the correspondence in the New Testament generally followed the format which was common to Greek letter writing at the time.

It was usual for letters to commence with (i) a statement of the sender's name, often followed by the names of others associated with him, and/or some explanatory remarks about himself, (ii) the name(s) of the recipient(s) together, perhaps, with a few complimentary remarks, and (iii) a greeting.

Frequently, this introduction was followed by (iv) an expression of prayer or thanksgiving to one of the gods, Letters concluded with (v) further greetings and a closing valediction. For a variety of reasons, it was not unusual (vi) for letters to be dictated.

Along with many other New Testament letters, the apostle Paul's letter to the Romans adopts this customary format, Compare the structure set out above with the following references: (i) with Romans 1. 1-6; (ii) with v. 7a; (iii) with v. 7b; (iv) with vv. 8-10; (v) with 16, 3-16, 24-27; (vi) with 16. 22. When we study the epistles of the New Testament, we are tempted to disregard the introductory verses at the beginning. But we do this to our loss. These introductions provide a vast store of rich spiritual material. Paul's letter to the Romans is no exception.

The following represents a suggested outline of Romans 1. 1-7; its aim is to stimulate further meditation and study.

The apostle Paul writes:

1. About himself, v. 1. Here we learn something about Paul's credentials.

(i) "Paul" (meaning "little") = his identity. See Acts 13. 9.
(ii) "a servant (bondslave) of Jesus Christ" = his occupation. See Acts 22. 10.
(iii) "called to be an apostle (one sent forth)" - his vocation. See Acts 26. 17, where "send" translates the Greek word apostello.
(iv) "separated unto the gospel" = his consecration. See Acts 13. 2.

2. About his gospel, vv. 1-3. Here we learn something about Paul's theology.

(i) "the gospel of God" = its source.
(ii) "promised afore by (through) his prophets ..." = its security.
(iii) "concerning his Son" = its subject.

3. About his Saviour, vv. 3-4. Here we learn something about Paul's Master.

(i) "Jesus Christ our Lord" = His authority.
(ii) "made of the seed of David" = His royalty.
(iii) "according to the flesh" = His humanity.
(iv) "declared to be the Son of God" = His Deity.
(v) "by the resurrection from the dead" = His victory.

4. About his apostleship, v. 5. Here we learn something about Paul's calling.

(i) "by whom we have received ... apostleship" = its mediation.
(ii) "for (unto, with a view to) obedience to the faith" = its purpose.
(iii) "among all nations" = its range.
(iv) "for his name" = its motive.

5. About his brethren, vv. 6-7. Here we learn something about Paul's fellow-Christians.

(i) "the called of Jesus Christ" = effectually called.
(ii) "beloved of God" = divinely loved.
(iii) "called to be saints" = pos-itionally sanctified (i.e. their standing in Christ).