The Good News of the Gospel
Romans is about the good news—the gospel. The word gospel is prominent at the beginning and end of the letter, and it’s foremost in the letter’s thesis statement in Romans 1:16–17: “I’m not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”
We can summarize the bad news and the good news with four words: God, man, Christ, response. Number one is God. God is the holy creator. Number two is man, or sinners, and number three is Christ. Jesus lived, died, and rose again for sinners. And number four is response. God saves sinners who turn and trust Jesus.
How does God save sinners? Romans specifies that God saves sinners by justifying them. That is by declaring that sinners have the status of righteous before God. And God is just when he does this, because Christ satisfied God’s wrath. Romans 3:25–26 says God put forward Christ “as a propitiation to show God’s righteousness. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that God might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” So, God righteously righteouses the unrighteous. God justly justifies the unjust.
Romans specifies that God saves sinners by justifying them.
I’m borrowing from John Stott’s clever way of putting it. And how does this happen? It’s by faith in Christ, apart from the law. And when does this happen? Right now, at this stage in the history of God’s saving people.
So Romans 3:21 begins, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law.”
And this is the good news, not only for Jews, but it’s for Jews and Gentiles alike. So here’s one way to summarize the theological message of Romans in just one sentence: The gospel reveals how God is righteously righteousing unrighteous individuals—both Jews and Gentiles—at this stage in the history of salvation.
Andrew David Naselli is the author of Romans: A Concise Guide to the Greatest Letter Ever Written.
Life is complex. Gray areas abound. Yet Jesus taught that we all face a simple but fateful either/or: a wide way leading to woe, or a narrow way leading to life.
Paul’s letter to the Romans is relatively short (it takes about sixty minutes to read aloud), and it is profound. It explains and exults in and applies the greatest news we could hear.
Romans explains the saving work of Jesus reported in the Gospels, and unpacks many of the teachings that were foundational to the churches that arose in Acts.
Christ is the termination of the law in the sense that he ushers in a new age— both continuous with and different from the former age.