A. IMPACT OF THIS EPISTLE
1. "When anyone gains a knowledge of this Epistle he has an entrance opened to him to all the most hidden treasures of Scripture." - John Calvin
2. "Time and again in the course of human history it has liberated the minds of men, brought them back to an understanding of the essential gospel of Christ, and started spiritual revolutions." - F.F. Bruce
3. "Augustine, a young man living in the 4th century, was distinguished for his brilliant mind, but he lived a life of unbridled immorality and licentiousness and had given himself to the exposition of pagan philosophy. But one day he heard some children playing. As part of their game, they repeated the refrain -- tolle lege, tolle lege -- literally, "take up and read, take up and read." These words seemed to grab Augustine, and he walked to where he could find a manuscript. The first that his eyes fell upon was a manuscript of the New Testament. As he let the page fall open randomly, it opened to a portion of Romans:
...not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery...Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think abouthow to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Romans 13:13-14)
Augustine was seized with a sense of conviction for his sin as the Holy Spirit used those words to cut into the quick of the young man's heart. This was the conversion experience of the man many regard as the greatest saint of the first thousand years of the church." - R.C. Sproul: "Interact." Tabletalk, February 1989
4. "During his early years, whenever Luther came to the famous 'Reformation text' - Romans 1:17 -his eyes were drawn not to the word faith, but to the word righteous. Who, after all, could 'live by faith'? Only those who were already righteous. The text was clear on the matter: 'the righteous shall live by faith.'
Luther remarked, 'I hated that word, "the righteousness of God," by which I had been taught according to the custom and use of all teachers....[that] God is righteous and punishes the unrighteous sinner.' The young Luther could not live by faith because he was not righteous, and he knew it."
'I was seized with the conviction that I must understand [Paul's] letter to the Romans...but to that moment one phrase in chapter 1 stood in my way. I hated the idea, "in it the righteousness of God is revealed"...I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners.... At last, meditating day and night and by the mercy of God, I...began to understand that the righteousness of God is that through which the righteous live by a gift of God, namely by faith...Here I felt as if I were entirely born again and had entered paradise itself through gates that had been flung open.' - James M. Kittelson: "The Accidental Revolutionary." Christian History, Issue 34 (Vol. XI, No.2)
5. "On May 24, 1738, a discouraged missionary went 'very unwillingly' to a religious meeting in London. There a miracle took place. 'About a quarter before nine,' he wrote in his journal, 'I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.'
That missionary was John Wesley. The message he heard that evening was the preface to Martin Luther's commentary on Romans. Just a few months before, Wesley wrote in his journal: 'I went to America to convert the Indians; but Oh! who shall convert me?' That evening in Aldersgate Street, his question was answered. And the result was the great Wesleyan Revival that swept England and transformed the nation." - Warren W. Wiersbe: Be Right
B. NOTES ON THE AUTHOR OF THE EPISTLE
The Epistle to the Romans was written by the apostle Paul. There is little scholarly debate on this point. He was born Saul to prominent Jewish parents -- at about the same time as the birth of Christ -- in the cosmopolitan city of Tarsus, in Cilicia (modern-day Turkey). Tarsus, a Roman colony, was well- regarded as a city of international culture. As a male born in a Roman colony to a family that owned property there, Paul was privileged to hold Roman citizenship, a status that allowed for unlimited travel and strictly-protected civil rights. As an intelligent son of devout Hebrew parents, he was sent as a teenager to live in Jerusalem, where he was tutored by the foremost rabbi of the time, Gamaliel, of the sect of Pharisees. Saul, too, became one of the "Separated Ones" who felt that God had set them apart to live strictly by the Torah -- the Law of Moses. Their precise observance of the Law included adherence to the staggering volume of interpretations which had been written down and attached to the Torah by generations of Jewish scholars. This is why the Pharisees so opposed Jesus. He infuriated them by interpreting the Law uniquely and teaching His interpretations "as one having authority." When some began to hail Jesus as the Messiah ("Promised One"), they sought actively to have Him quieted, eventually plotting His death.