As we enter a reading of Romans, I am first reminded of the propensity of many to read this epistle as if it is the centerpiece of all biblical literature. This is a serious error. There is nothing more to Romans than any other inspired literature.
Also, many read and “interpret” Romans as if Jesus never said or taught anything. Much of what is written of Romans in common theology contradicts many of the clear teachings of Jesus. While some of what Paul wrote is hard to understand (2 Peter 3:15-16), it should never be interpreted in conflict with what Jesus said that is easy to understand.
For example, many speak of “The Roman Road” of salvation. Using selected texts from Paul’s epistle to the Romans, preachers and authors speak of man’s sin problem, God’s love, Jesus’ sacrifice, etc. However, NOT ONE of the varying “Roman Road” articles ever mentioned what Jesus said about salvation in Mark 16:15-16, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes (the gospel – TC) and is baptized shall be saved.” That is what Jesus said is the road to salvation: belief in the gospel and baptism.
Worse still, it’s not as if Paul didn’t say anything about the necessity of baptism in Romans. In fact, he spoke quite clearly of it in Romans 6:3-7. Why then, do all of these “scholars” disregard and intentionally omit what Paul himself told the Romans? Because they do not understand the nature of faith or baptism.
In today’s text, Paul gives us the first of two bookends concerning the need for obedient faith. In Romans 1:5 we see Paul’s work to bring about the obedience to the faith among all nations. “The faith” is the gospel, God’s power to save (Romans 1:16). We must obey the gospel just like Jesus said, and just like Paul wrote in Romans 6 and elsewhere (cf 2 Thes 1:6-9).
Paul not only began his epistle with a call to obedience to the faith, he closed the book with the same in Romans 16:25-26. In verse 25 Paul identifies the gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ as the mean by which we are established by God. In verse 26, he said this gospel is to be preached among all nations (just like Jesus said (cf Matt 28:19; Mark 16:15) “for obedience to the faith.”
Never interpret Paul’s difficult sayings in any way that contradicts what Jesus said in plain language.