In what may be called a Prologue or Introduction, Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, and a called apostle, pronounces his official salutation upon the members of the church located in Rome, the empire’s capital (verses 1-7).
The apostle expresses his elation over the fact that the faith of these Romans is being proclaimed everywhere, and he tells them that he is asking God to grant him the opportunity to visit them soon (verses 8-15).
He then announces what may, in a qualified sense, be termed his theme, namely, “the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who exercises faith.” In other words, justification, which is basic to salvation, is by faith alone. This great truth was by divine direction proclaimed first of all to the Jews, and is now also to be made known to the Gentiles. In confirmation of the theme Paul adds the words found in Hab. 2:4b, “But the righteous shall live by faith.” All this is found in Rom. 1:16, 17.
Having stated that the way of salvation is the same for everyone, namely, by faith alone, Paul now divides the human race into two groups: Gentiles and Jews.
He first of all describes the conditions existing in the Gentile world. He shows that although God, by means of his general revelation, made himself known to the Gentiles, “they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him” (verses 18-21). Instead of worshiping the one true God, they became idol worshipers (verses 22, 23). As a result God at last abandoned them (verses 24, 26, 28) to their own sinful practices, including not only wilful homosexuality (verses 24-27) but also many other vices, twenty-one of which are mentioned in verses 29-31.
The chapter closes on this dismal note: “And although they know the ordinance of God that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only continue to do them but also approve of those who practice them” (verse 32).