Before getting into Romans, a few observations are in order about the epistles written by the Apostle Paul. He wrote the 13 from Romans through Philemon for sure but I see a number of indications he probably also wrote Hebrews. If so, there are fourteen epistles wherein Paul reveals the Gospel of the Grace of God he received directly from the Lord Jesus Christ, Romans 16:25. Fourteen is significant since seven in Scripture signifies Spiritual perfection so fourteen implies a measure of double Spiritual perfection. *
2 Timothy 3:16: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” and Paul’s epistles are arranged in this order:
· Romans presents doctrine/instruction,
· The two epistles to the Corinthians are reproof for not living according to the teaching of Romans,
· Galatians is correction for turning away from the doctrine of salvation by grace in Romans, back to following the Law,
· Ephesians presents doctrine/instruction,
· Philippians is reproof for practical failure of the doctrine of Ephesians,
· Colossians is correction; teaching believers to shun philosophy and vain deceit after the tradition of men, and continue in the doctrine of Ephesians, recognizing we are complete in Christ, the Head of all principality and power,
· The Thessalonian epistles contain doctrine and instruction, teaching that not only are we dead and risen with Christ as taught in Romans, and seated in the heavenlies with Christ as taught in Ephesians, but we also look forward to being caught up in the air to be with the Lord forever.
The Gospel of the Grace of God revealed to Paul, Acts 20:24, is different than the Kingdom Gospel, which God promised Israel throughout the Old Testament, the four Gospels, the first 8 chapters of Acts and in James through Revelation. The Kingdom Gospel was put on hold when the Nation Israel rejected their Messiah by stoning to death His messenger Stephen, Acts 7:54 – 60. Thus, just as the Pauline epistles are located in our Bibles between Acts and James, the age in which we live under the Gospel of God’s Grace is a parenthesis in time between Acts and James.
Unlike the Kingdom Gospel to Israel that required adherence to the Law of Moses and Temple worship wherein Gentiles only had access to God’s blessings through Israel by becoming proselytes; the Gospel of the Grace of God teaches that individual Gentiles and Jews are saved by Grace, apart from the Law. For the past 1900 years plus, salvation has been granted apart from man’s merit or claim to it; God’s Grace is appropriated though faith alone. Even the use of the words “grace” and “faith” in Paul’s epistles demonstrate this truth. Paul used the Greek word charis (G5395) usually translated “grace” 110 times in his epistles leaving only 46 in all the rest of the New Testament (NT) and the Greek word pistis, (G4002) usually translated “faith” occurs 172 times in his epistles, leaving only 70 in all the rest of the NT.
The epistles of Romans and Hebrews highlight faith and stand as book ends, so to speak, encompassing Paul’s other epistles. “Faith,” is found 40 times in Romans, the most often in any NT book. Forty is significant in Scripture, not only because it is the number for testing/ trial/ tempting, * but also because it bespeaks the great purpose of Romans in that it is the product of five times eight. Five in Scripture is the number for grace while eight denotes resurrection or new beginnings. * Thus, Romans teaches the Gospel of the Grace of God through faith, a new beginning apart from the Law – “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” Romans 3:21 – 24. “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 4:5.
At the other end of the Pauline bookshelf, so to speak, is Hebrews, which contains the word faith 32 times, the second most often in the NT. Thirty-two is the product of four times eight; the number four signifying the created earth and eight, the number for resurrection or new beginnings. * God’s promise to Abraham, Genesis 12; and his offspring, the Nation of Israel, was for a Kingdom on earth when Messiah will reign from Jerusalem and Israel will be a Holy Nation, a Kingdom of Priests, Exodus 19:6. Hebrews is addressed to Israel explaining how Jesus Christ fulfilled all the types of the Law of Moses. however, it also teaches that Christ died once for all, Hebrews 10:9 – 12, which includes Gentiles as well as individual Jews, see also 1 Timothy 2:4 – 7.
Between Romans and Hebrews is the pinnacle of truth for the Church, the Body of Christ in this age of Grace: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;” Ephesians 2:8 – 15.
Something to ponder is that without the last 20 chapters of Acts and the Pauline epistles, there is nothing in the rest of the Bible teaching that:
· without faith it is impossible to please God, Hebrews 11:6,
· faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, Romans 10:17,
· our salvation is possible only by God’s grace (unmerited favor) through faith, and faith is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, Romans 3:22; Ephesians 2:8 – 9,
· we cannot be justified by keeping the law, but only by the faith of Jesus Christ, Romans 3:19 – 20; Galatians 2:16,
· Jesus is the Author and Finisher of Faith, Hebrews 12:2,
· believers earnestly wait for the Lord Jesus Christ to catch us up in the air to be in heaven with Him for eternity, 1 Corinthians 15:51 – 54; 1 Thessalonians 4:13 – 18 (Israel’s hope was and will be on this earth in their Messiah’s Kingdom),
· The only way we can stand righteous before God is by believing the faith of Jesus Christ accomplished the righteousness of God in us, Romans 3:21 – 24.
Think of it, when the Man Jesus Christ was here on earth about 2000 years ago, He demonstrated perfect faith in God’s Word both in life and in an unspeakably horrible death. As a result, He was raised from the dead in victory, which clothes us in His righteousness when we believe the Gospel of the Grace of God – 1 Corinthians 15:1 – 4.
* Numbers in Scripture by Bullinger:
Four – since three signifies Divine perfection, as in the Trinity of God, four is made up of three plus one and therefore denotes that which follows the revelation of God, namely, His creative works; the fourth day saw the material creation completed, Genesis 1:19; the compass has four points, north, south east and west, page 123.
Five – the number for Grace, or Divine favor; after the manifestation of the Godhead (3) and their manifestation in creation (1) we have further revelation of a People called out from mankind, redeemed and saved, to walk with God, page 135.
Seven – the great number of Spiritual perfection; God rested on the seventh day of Creation; seven completes the colors of the spectrum and rainbow, page 158; fourteen – double Spiritual perfection, page 256.
Eight – denotes resurrection or new beginnings: Noah and his family totaling 8 persons came through the flood to populate the earth anew; the eight day is the beginning of a new week and Jesus Christ arose on the eighth day, page 196.
Forty – the number for testing, trial or tempting: the flood waters came upon the earth for 40 days during the time of Noah, destroying every human and animal on earth, except those in the ark; Moses was tested in the wilderness 40 years learning humility; Israel was tried in the wilderness 40 years during which the unbelievers were eliminated from her midst; Jesus was tempted/tried by Satan 40 days in the wilderness, page 266.