The books of Romans and Galatians equip the Christians with the gift of grace and faith in the Lord. While emphasizing that righteousness is not of work or of the law, Paul made a call to focus on Christ. Christ is the source of grace and righteousness.
The Book of Romans is a masterfully written exposition on God’s grace and the righteousness that comes by grace through faith. The book (a letter) is the foundation of the entire Christian faith and has changed the hearts of many as they read and understand the wonderful truths nestled inside.
This is the epistle that burned in the heart of Karl Barth, who in our day set forth some of the mighty truths of this letter and thus captured the theological world, calling it back from the crass, empty liberalism of the nineteenth century, restoring much truth to the churches of Europe. The lives of millions of people who have read the letter to the Romans have been drastically altered.
The book of Galatians is a call for freedom from the law. Paul writes to the church in Galatia in distress as they have quickly abandoned the gospel they originally received. Judaizers had infiltrated the brethren, preached circumcision, and trying to put them back under the yoke of the law.
Paul starts out telling them that this is an entirely different gospel. He writes to the church to remind them of grace and that the only means to be justified is by faith in Jesus not by the law.
Paul’s aggressive tone shows just how important it was to him that the people embrace unity in Christ, no matter their racial distinctions. For him, this was no minor issue, as he went so far as to call the Galatians deserters of Christ, people turning from the truth toward a gospel contrary to the one they had received from Paul (Galatians 1:6–9).
Romans and Galatians
This theological analysis on the books of Romans and Galatians is organized in the following headings:
- The author
- Date of writing
- Purpose of writing
- Key verses
- Summary, and
- Connection with Old Testament
Book Of Romans
Romans 1:1 identifies the author of the Book of Romans as the apostle Paul. Romans 16:22 indicates that Paul used a man name Tertius to transcribe his words.
Date of Writing
The Book of Romans was likely written A.D. 56-58.
Purpose of Writing
As with all Paul’s epistles to the churches, his purpose in writing was to proclaim the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ by teaching doctrine and edify and encourage the believers who would receive his letter. Of particular concern to Paul were those to whom this letter was written—those in Rome who were “loved by God and called to be saints” (Romans 1:7).
Because he was a Roman citizen, he had a unique passion for those in the assembly of believers in Rome. Since he had not, to this point, visited the church in Rome, this letter also served as his introduction to them.
Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Romans 3:9-11, “What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.’”
Romans 3:21, “But now a righteousness from God apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and Prophets testify.” Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:9, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”
Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:37-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 10:9-10, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and is justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”
Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:19, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
Romans 16:17, “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.”
Paul was excited about being able to minister at last in this church, and everyone was well aware of that fact (Romans 1:8-15). The letter to the Romans was written from Corinth just before Paul’s trip to Jerusalem to deliver the alms that had been given for the poor there.
He had intended to go to Rome and then on to Spain (Romans 15:24), but his plans were interrupted when he was arrested in Jerusalem. He would eventually go to Rome as a prisoner. Phoebe, who was a member of the church at Cenchrea near Corinth (Romans 16:1), most likely carried the letter to Rome.
The Book of Romans is primarily a work of doctrine and can be divided into four sections: righteousness needed, 1:18–3:20; righteousness provided, 3:21–8:39; righteousness vindicated, 9:1–11:36; righteousness practiced, 12:1–15:13. The main theme of this letter is obvious of course—righteousness.
Guided by the Holy Spirit, Paul first condemns all men of their sinfulness. He expresses his desire to preach the truth of God’s Word to those in Rome. He hoped to have the assurance they were staying on the right path. He strongly points out that he is not ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16) because it is the power by which everyone is saved.
The Book of Romans tells us about God, who He is, and what He has done. It tells us of Jesus Christ, what His death accomplished. It tells us about ourselves, what we were like without Christ and who we are after trusting in Christ. Paul points out that God did not demand men have their lives straightened out before coming to Christ. While we were still sinners Christ died on a cross for our sins.
Paul uses several Old Testament people and events as illustrations of the glorious truths in the Book of Romans. Abraham believed and righteousness was imputed to him by his faith, not by his works (Romans 4:1-5).
In Romans 4:6-9, Paul refers to David who reiterated the same truth: “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”
Paul uses Adam to explain to the Romans the doctrine of inherited sin, and he uses the story of Sarah and Isaac, the child of promise, to illustrate the principle of Christians being the children of the promise of the divine grace of God through Christ.
In chapters 9–11, Paul recounts the history of the nation of Israel and declares that God has not completely and finally rejected Israel (Romans 11:11-12), but has allowed them to “stumble” only until the full number of the Gentiles will be brought to salvation.
Book Of Galatians
Galatians 1:1 identifies the apostle Paul as the writer of the epistle to the Galatians.
Date of Writing
Galatians is likely the first New Testament book to be written, composed sometime soon after AD 49.
Purpose of Writing
The churches in Galatia were comprised of both Jewish and Gentile converts. Paul’s purpose in writing to these churches was to confirm them in the faith, especially concerning justification by faith alone, apart from the works of the Law of Moses.
Galatians was written because the churches of that region were facing a theological crisis. The essential truth of justification by faith rather than by human works was being denied by the Judaizers—legalistic Jews who insisted that Christians must keep the Mosaic Law.
In particular, the Judaizers insisted on circumcision as a requirement for Gentiles who wished to be saved. In other words, convert to Judaism first, and then you are eligible to become a Christian.
When Paul learned that this heresy was being taught to the Galatian churches, he composed an epistle to emphasize our liberty in Christ and to counter the perversion of the gospel that the Judaizers promoted.
Galatians 2:16: “Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So, we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law because by observing the law no one will be justified.”
Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 3:11: “Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”
Galatians 4:5-6: “to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’”
Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.” Galatians 6:7: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
The fact that we are justified by grace through faith means we have spiritual freedom. We are not under bondage to the dictates of the Old Testament Law. Paul soundly condemns anyone who would denigrate the grace of God and attempt to change the gospel (Galatians 1:8–10).
He gives his apostolic credentials (Galatians 1:11–2:14) and emphasizes that righteousness comes through Christ, not the works of the Law (Galatians 2:21).
The Galatians must stand fast in their freedom and not be “entangled again with a yoke of bondage (that is, the Mosaic law)” (Galatians 5:1). Christian freedom is not an excuse to gratify one’s sinful nature; rather, our freedom is an opportunity to love one another (Galatians 5:13; 6:7–10).
The Christian life is to be lived in the power of the Spirit, not the flesh (Galatians 5:16–18). The flesh has been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20); as a consequence, the Spirit will bear His fruit in the life of the believer (Galatians 5:22–23).
In the end, the issue is not whether a person is circumcised but whether he is a “new creation” (Galatians 6:15). Salvation is the work of the Spirit, and we must be born again (see John 3:3). External religious rites such as circumcision are of no value in the realm of the Spirit.
Throughout Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, saving grace—the gift of God—is juxtaposed against the Law of Moses, which cannot save. The Judaizers urged a return to the Mosaic Law as the source of justification, and they were prominent in the early church. Even Peter was temporarily drawn into their web of deceit (Galatians 2:11–13).
The themes connecting Galatians to the Old Testament center on Law vs. grace: the inability of the Law to justify (2:16); the believer’s deadness to the Law (2:19); Abraham’s justification by faith (3:6); the Law’s bringing not God’s salvation but His wrath (3:10); and love as the fulfillment of the Law (5:14).
Believers are the spiritual children of Sarah, not Hagar—that is, we are children of the freewoman, not children of the slave; we have more in common with Isaac, the son of promise than with Ishmael, the son of human effort (4:21–31).
The books of Galatians and James deal with two complementary aspects of Christianity. Galatians highlights the gospel of grace that produces righteous living (Galatians 3:13–14). James highlights the righteous living that proves faith. There is no conflict; James, too, emphasizes the new birth through the gospel (James 1:18), and Galatians spends its final two chapters applying the doctrine of sola gratia to practical Christian living.
Jesus said we would be known by the fruit of our lives (Matthew 7:16), which should give evidence of the faith within us. All Christians should be diligent in striving to build upon the saving faith within us so that our lives reflect Christ and others will “glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NKJV).
The Book of Romans makes it clear that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. Every “good” deed we have ever done is as a filthy rag before God. So dead in our trespasses and sins are we that only the grace and mercy of God can save us. God expressed that grace and mercy by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place.
When we turn our lives over to Christ, we are no longer controlled by our sinful nature, but we are controlled by the Spirit. If we confess that Jesus is Lord, and believe that He is raised from the dead, we are saved, born again. We need to live our lives offered to God as a living sacrifice to Him.
Worship of the God who saved us should be our highest desire. Perhaps the best application of Romans would be to apply Romans 1:16 and not be ashamed of the gospel.
One of the main themes of the book of Galatians is found in 3:11: “The righteous shall live by faith.” We must stand firm in this truth. Any compromise with legalism or the mixture of human effort and the grace of God for salvation leads to heresy. If we could be saved through the keeping of the Law, then Jesus did not need to die (Galatians 2:21).
Trying to save ourselves nullifies grace. Not only are we saved by faith (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8–9), but the life of the believer in Christ—day by day, moment by moment—is lived by and through that faith (Galatians 2:20).
Not that faith is something we conjure up on our own—it is the gift of God, not of works (see Ephesians 2:8–9)—but it is our responsibility and joy to exhibit our faith so that others will see the work of Christ in us.
Camarin, Juli. “Summary of the Book of Galatians.” Jcblog.net. July 9, 2013.
MacArthur, John. Galatians: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1987.
Moo, Douglas J. The Epistle to the Romans: New International Commentary on the New Testament [NICNT]. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996.
Stedman, Ray C. “Romans: The Master Key to Scripture.” Authentic Christianity: www.RayStedman.org, January 22, 1967.
Swindoll, R. Charles. “Romans & Galatians.” The Bible Teaching Ministry of C.R. Swindoll. www.insight.org, 2016.