Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's "ROMANS"


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Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible


  1. The Message of the Book of Romans
    The Epistle to the Romans, along with Galatians and Hebrews, is an explanation and exposition of the one verse, Habakkuk 2:4, with each book having the following emphasis:

    Because Luther was greatly helped by this verse's N.T. quotation, Habakkuk 2:4 has been called "the grandfather of the Reformation"!
    Romans answers the age‑old and supreme question of man's soul need:
    "How can man be just with God?"

    Romans has been called the law court book of the Bible, because it is closely reasoned and forensic in character. In Romans we see man brought before the judgment bar of God. The evidence of his guilt is heard and passed upon, whereupon God pronounces the verdict "condemned." It is as though the Son of God then comes in court as our attorney and pleads the fact that He has borne the full punishment of the law which we have broken. God accepts the validity of the evidence Christ presents and righteously forgives us, because the punishment for our sin has already been borne by Another.

    What are we to do now as we walk from the court of justice free from all guilt? Leave to live unto ourselves and to continue in sin from which we have just been delivered? No, never! We are to live separated unto Him who died for us, doing that which is His will and accomplishing His work. By so doing we shall bring honor, and shall attract others, to the Altogether Lovely One who has saved us, who is keeping us, and who one day will come to receive us unto Himself.

    The theme of the book is the righteousness of God as revealed in the gospel, character, and ways of God, and as displayed through the lives of believers. The key word is righteousness, and this word is used in three senses in the book:

    1. Primarily, divine consistency in the forgiveness of sins, i.e., God's consistency with His own self, His own character, e.g., 3:26. This is what puzzled Socrates. He is reputed by Plato to have said, "It may be, Plato, that the deity can forgive sins, but I don't see HOW!" How can a holy God forgive sinful men without compromising His own holiness? Romans forever settles the question, and vindicates God completely. He can forgive sin because the penalty has been borne by Another.

    2. That justification which God imputes ‑‑ His righteousness making me righteous, e.g., 3:22, etc. (Note: it is never said that the righteousness of CHRIST is imputed to us, but rather the righteousness of GOD.) In the cross God has found a way in which to JUSTIFY sinners, i.e., make them as if they had never sinned! Righteousness is all that Christ is before God. MY sins put Christ on the cross, but God's righteousness put Christ on the throne!

    3. God's own personal inherent righteousness ‑‑ infinitely lofty, an attribute of His very being. "Being ignorant of God's righteousness" (10:3).

  2. Details concerning the Book

    1. Time and circumstances of writing:

      1. Before he had been to Rome, 1:11, 13

      2. During his third visit to Corinth, Acts 20:1‑3, cp. 2 Cor. 13:1

      3. Most authorities date it around A.D. 58

      4. At the time he was collecting a gift for the poor saints at Jerusalem, 15:25‑26,21; Acts 19:21; 20:1‑3,22; 24:17; 2 Cor. 8:1; 9:1‑5

      5. When he was purposing to visit Rome, after a visit to Jerusalem to present the gift he was collecting, 15:14‑32 (24‑25); Acts 19:21

    2. The person who took the letter to Rome:

      1. Phebe, 16:1‑2

      2. Why had Paul not previously visited Rome?
        Hindered‑‑by necessity of evangelizing elsewhere, 1:13; 15:19‑25 (22).

      3. How did he now hope to reach Rome?
        Through his and their prayer, 1:9‑10; 15:30‑32, cp. Col. 4:2‑4 & Eph. 6:18‑20.

      4. What was the spiritual condition of the Church at Rome?
        Splendid! 1:8; 15:14; 16:19.

      5. Why go then?
        To impart a "spiritual gift" (message) 1:11, cp. 16:25‑26.
        To establish them 1:11.
        To be mutually comforted 1:12.
        To have a harvest among them as elsewhere 1:13.
        To fulfill his debt to them and to Rome 1:14‑15
        To check the following disorders before they got beyond control (in the meantime, letting this letter prepare the way), 16:17‑18; 11:13,17‑21, 25; 14:1‑4,13,19; 15:1‑2,5.

      6. Who began the Church at Rome?
        Certainly not Paul; he had not been there.
        Certainly not Peter; if he did go to Rome, it was some years later.
        Certainly no apostle; or his prominence would have caused the fact to endure.
        Possibly some Roman Jew who was present at Pentecost.
        Possibly some Christian Jew who went there upon the persecution of Acts 8.
        Possibly some Roman Jew(s) or Gentile(s) who was(were) converted through Paul in Asia Minor, Achaia, or Macedonia, or through some other Christian (such a person(s) would have probably been traveling on business).

        At any event, some one or ones heard, believed, and told others, so that they believed also. Have you done this?
  3. The analysis which we shall follow
    The introductory material given above and the analysis which is given below makes no claim to originality. Too many have written and preached on this book to leave much room for originality. We gratefully receive and follow the teaching of others, which they, in turn, have been taught by others. That is God's program of passing on the Word (2 Tim. 2:2). We are particularly indebted to Drs. H. A. Ironside, Norman B. Harrison, and Wm. R. Newell, for material which we have used liberally.
  4. The system of analysis symbols used - Standard Outline Form
  5. We follow the above (4.) order. Learn it, so that you will be saved from confusion, and grip the relation of the various parts to one another. That is the purpose of analysis.


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