A few years ago, I was privileged to sit under an amazing teacher for a study of Romans. So amazing, in fact, that I still remember the outline he used to organize the book (truly, my being able to recall - without looking at my notes - is indeed a miracle), that of action taking place in a series of buildings. In lieu of a verse-specific post or two from Romans, I'd like to share that outline and a few thoughts.
The key word in the key verse is "the" - the gospel. Paul was referring to one and one only, the good news that God sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sins, to offer us an opportunity to by faith accept that substitutionary death, becoming reconciled to God through it.
Chapters 1 - 5: The Courtroom
The first five chapters of the book can be said to take place in a courtroom, with Jesus Himself sitting as Judge. In short order, pagan man, religious man and moral man are hauled before the bench, tried and found guilty.
Quoting from Psalms 14 and 53, Paul accurately describes their problem:
"Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive."
"The venom of asps is under their lips."
"Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness."
"Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known."
There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Romans 3:10 - 18
He then passes sentence:
At this point, things are looking rather bleak.
Chapters 6 - 8: The Powerhouse of Grace
The next three chapters show the incredible mercy and grace of God, as He reaches out to us, to save a people who cannot save themselves. God has done what we cannot:
Romans 8:1 - 5
But if salvation is now offered by grace through faith in Christ, where does that leave Israel? Paul makes it clear that God has not abandoned His promises to Israel. Indeed, by making reconciliation with Him available to the Gentiles, God is provoking jealousy in Israel, hoping to bring them to Him in faith, rather than under the law.
"The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob";
"and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins."
Romans 11:25 - 27
Chapters 12 - 16: The Church
These last five chapters are an instruction manual for the church as the body of Christ. Each verse gives pause for thought, prompts for action. The goal? Nothing less than complete transformation.
Romans 12:1 - 2
Paul goes on to give very specific instructions on how to do this. Take a look at Romans 12:9 - 21 for starters, but take the time to read the rest of the chapters as well.
All told, it takes probably an hour or two to read the entire book; the food for thought and calls to action it provides are enough for a lifetime.