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Literature / Book of Romans

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"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, and then to the Gentile."
Romans 1:16

The sixth book of the New Testament and the first letter of the Pauline epistles. The Apostle Paul writes to the Christian community of the city of Rome that salvation is offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Structure of the book:

  • Introduction (Romans 1:1-15)
  • The universal need of righteousness (Romans 1:6-3:20)
  • The imputation of righteousness (Romans 3:21-5:21)
  • The new life in Christ (Romans chapters 6 to 8)
  • The mystery of Israel (Romans chapters 9 to 11)
  • Exhortations to Christian living (Romans 12:1-15:13)
  • Epilogue: greetings and travel plans (Romans 15:14-16:27)


  • Ancient Rome: The original recipients of the letter.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Regarding about humanity being morally flawed, Romans 6:23 states that "the wages of sin is death" unless if they repent and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
  • Cruel Mercy: Quoting from Proverbs, Paul tells his readers, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head."
  • Depraved Homosexual: In the first chapter, Paul the apostle speaks of those who were given over by God to having "a reprobate mind, to do the things that are not convenient", that they have been given over to ungodly passions: that the women exchanged natural affections for unnatural ones, and that the men leave "the natural use of the woman" to burn in lust toward one another, "working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves the recompense that is meet for their error".
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Subverted in Romans 11:6 in regards to doing good deeds to go to Heaven. No matter how hard a person works, they can't earn their way up there, but because Jesus died for humanity's sins, all we have to do is to accept Him as our savior to make it up to Heaven.
  • Egocentrically Religious: Romans 11:17-22 are written as a warning to the Gentile believers, that although they as a "wild olive branch" are grafted into the cultivated olive tree that the Jews, the "natural olive branches", were broken off from, that they should not boast against the branches, because it is not them that support the root, but the root that supports them, and that they should not be high-minded but fear, because if God didn't spare the natural branches, He may not spare the Gentile believers either.
  • Even Evil Can Be Loved: "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
  • From Bad to Worse: Romans 1:28-32 is interpreted by certain Christians as being this to those that knew God, but didn't glorify him as God nor were thankful, but became vain in their reasonings and their foolish heart became darkened: that first He gives them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their own bodies among themselves. Then next He gives them up to dishonorable passions, such as women trading natural passions for unnatural ones and men leaving "the natural use of the woman" to work what is shameful among themselves. And then, since they don't think it's important to retain any knowledge of God, He gives them over to "a reprobate mind" to do things that are not fitting.
  • God Is Good: Many of the verses focus on God's love and He will forgive us if we repent.
  • The Golden Rule: Chapter 13 explains how the entire Law can be summed up in the commandment, "Love your neighbor as yourself."
    "The commandments 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not covet,' and any other commandments, are summed up in this one decree: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no wrong to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law."
  • Good Needs Evil: Romans 6:1-2 defies this against people who use this as an excuse to do things that they know are sinful.
    "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?"
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Paul deconstructs the idea that it's possible to earn your way into God's grace with good works rather than faith. Imperfect people can't keep the perfect Law, and anyway God's grace is a gift and gifts can't be earned.
  • Heel Realization: The experience of struggling with sin as described in Romans 7:
    "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
  • Holier Than Thou: Deconstructed in the beginning of Chapter 2, when, after listing several obvious sins in the previous chapter, Paul continues by pointing out that if you're inclined to judge those sinners, that shows you're just as guilty.
  • Humans Are Flawed: Many verses focus a lot on this, most commonly Romans 3:23 - "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.".
  • Hypocrite: After Listing the Forms of Degenerates in Chapter 1, Chapter 2 promptly turns the tables on any readers who are inclined to be judgmental toward those sinners, calling them out as hypocrites since we're all sinners.
    "Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things."
  • Irrevocable Order: Paul says in this book that "the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable" or "without repentance".
  • Karmic Death: According to Romans 6:23, the wages of sin is death, but to avert this is by accepting Jesus as savior.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Paul describes NayTheists this way, since they know God exists but reject Him for idols as a pretext for immorality. "Professing to be wise, they became fools."
  • Listing the Forms of Degenerates: Romans 1:29-31 notes a list of unrighteousness of the reprobate mind that God gives non-believers over to:
    "Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful..."
  • Long List: The final chapter consists of Paul listing off the people he wanted to give greetings to for their support and ministry.
  • Meat Versus Veggies: In the early part of Chapter 14, Paul comments that there are some believers who believe that they are allowed to eat all things, while there are others who believe they can only eat vegetables (not necessarily because of reasons for vegetarianism used today, but because some meat of the time had been given as an offering to a pagan deity which the temple then turned around and sold). Paul thus instructs those who have the faith to eat all things not to despise those who abstain, and that those who abstain should not pass judgment on those who have the faith to eat all things, because whether they eat or do not eat, they do it for the glory of God and give thanks to Him.
  • Misery Builds Character: Discussed in Romans 5:3-5 where Paul notes that suffering builds endurance, endurance builds character, and character builds hope. Considering the time period, he and many of the other Christians that were physically tortured and martyred for their faith knew what they were talking about from many experiences they could count by the lashes on their backs.
  • Nay-Theist: Paul accuses the atheists of really being this in the first chapter, which declares that the existence of God is entirely evident and undeniable.
  • "No. Just… No" Reaction: There are a few times were Paul rhetorically asks a question that he anticipates his readers would also be asking, and answers "May it never be!", "Certainly not!", or some other strong negative depending on the translation.
  • The Only Way They Will Learn: Romans 1:18-32 describes a group of unbelievers so stiff-necked they refuse to acknowledge the existence of God even when they see His creation all around them. After they have turned their backs on God for long enough, God turns His back on them, leaving them to learn the consequences of their sins the hard way.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Romans 12:17 and 19 warn against this, with verse 17 saying to "repay no one evil for evil" and verse 19 saying "do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to God’s wrath, for it is written: 'Vengeance is Mine. I will repay,' says the Lord."
  • The Pollyanna:
    • Romans 12:12 insists followers pray and hope during their time of tribulation.
    • Romans 8:28 says that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him.
  • The Power of Love: Chapter 8 concludes with an extensive list of things, ultimately concluding with "any created thing," that are powerless to separate us from the love of God.
  • Pride: In dealing with this, Paul tells the Romans: "Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Do not pretend to be wiser than you are." (Romans 12:16)
  • Sequel Hook: Towards the end of the book, Paul announces his intention to visit Rome before going to Spain. However, the sequel was apparently never written. Luke makes no mention of a trip to Spain in the Book of Acts, and Paul appears not to have made it out of Rome alive after a subsequent visit there. Most scholars agree he never went to Spain. If he did, either he never wrote about it, or his writing did not survive to be compiled with the rest of the New Testament.
  • Sinister Minister: In the final chapter of the book, Paul warns the Romans to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that they have been taught, and to avoid them. "For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive." (Romans 16:18)
  • Terror Hero: Those in high authority ordained by God are described as this in Romans 13:3-4 as it concerns to keep its subjects from doing evil.
    "For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."
  • Turn the Other Cheek: Romans 12:17-21 encourages believers to do this. However, even though we have to forgive our enemies, it's only God Himself who will repay them back.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Scholars have observed that this is the only New Testament epistle that seems to be constructed specifically as a theological treatise, rather than a personal letter about specific concerns in the Early Church. Theological commentaries on it can run to multiple volumes. This is amusingly referenced in The Bible itself, when Peter in his own second epistle remarks on Paul's letters: "His letters contain some things that are hard to understand..." (2 Peter 3:16).
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Paul deconstructs this in Romans 3:8 (NKJV):
    "And why not say, 'Let us do evil that good may come'? - as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just."
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Paul chews out his readers for actually using this trope to others for doing the same thing they did in Romans 2:
    "And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?"
  • Words Can Break My Bones: A popular verse among Pentecostals and Word of Faith preachers is the last part of Romans 4:17, which speaks of God "calling things that are not as though they were", suggesting that believers are also given the authority to speak things into existence.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Romans 9:11-22 gives us the implication that God had predestined things for His purpose from favoring Jacob over Esau, choosing to have mercy on who He has mercy, and hardening the Pharaoh's heart to show His power over all the earth.