Paul begins Romans by declaring the gospel of the righteousness of God. He states, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith” ( 1:16-17 NIV). Then, Paul moves on to his next section by explaining the Deuteronomic curses that are applied to the Gentiles and the Jews.
First, the Gentiles are under God’s wrath because they disobey his moral law as revealed in natural order of the universe (Pate et al. 213). Romans 1:18-32 describes the unrighteousness of the Gentiles by showing that they are completely entangled in sin, selfishness and idolatry, and so they are guilty before a holy, righteous and just God.
Second, the Jews might think that since they have the Torah (Law), they are safe from experiencing the Deuteronomic curses; however, Paul announces that Israel will experience divine judgement because they continue to disobey the Torah (Pate et al. 213). In fact, Paul explains that the Jews are more guilty than the Gentiles because they have the written Law available to them and should understand God’s moral standards. Thus, Israel is also trapped in sin, selfishness and idolatry, and so they are in need of rescue (Rom 2:1-3:8).
Then, Paul circles back around and lumps everyone together, both Jews and Gentiles, and declares that no one is righteous before God. All are guilty and face the wrath of God, but there is good news in God’s saving righteousness. God’s righteous character moved him to rescue the world through Jesus. Jesus enacts the “deuteronomic blessings and the prophetic promise of restoration” (Pate et al. 214) and ended the Torah and its curses (Pate et al. 214). Jesus’ atoning sacrifice for the sin of all people and his resurrection from the dead defeated sin and its consequences. Therefore, those who accept Jesus’ sacrificial gift by faith are declared righteous (Rom 3:9-26). This fulfilled God’s promise to Abraham of creating a new multi-ethnic family as his new covenant people. Thus, Abraham has become the father of the new covenant family that is made up of people from around the world who have faith in Jesus, the Messiah (Rom 4). In Roman 5, Paul further explains the implications of justification by referring back to Adam who sinned against God resulting in a sinful humanity. Then, Paul contrast Jesus as the new Adam who was faithful and obedient to God and concludes that through Jesus, as the new Adam, a new humanity is being created and transformed. A new humanity that receives the life and light of Jesus.
Pate, C. Marvin et al. The Story of Israel: a Biblical Theology. Inter-Varsity Press, 2004.