Paul begins this letter with admiration and prayers (Romans 1:1-15). He then declares the grand theme of Romans, that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16-17). It reveals God's righteousness, and discloses his plan of redemption.
Righteousness denotes the legal status of being "in the right." People who secure a verdict of innocence before God are called "righteous." They have a right standing before God.
God is righteous
God is "in the right," but needs no "right standing" before a higher authority. He is the sovereign creator and law-giver (Psalm 50:6, Isaiah 33:22).
God exercises righteousness because his judgments are just and error-free (Genesis 18:25, Psalm 9:8). Righteousness originates from God.
Romans 1 Outline
Paul's prayers for the Romans
Theme: Power of the Gospel
Failure of the gentiles (guilt before God)
They denied evidence of God's existence
They exchanged truth for a lie
Forsaken by God for wickedness
Sin: Everyone's Problem
Paul shows that all are guilty of sin, from gentiles who lacked God's law (Romans 1:18 – 2:16) to Jews entrusted with it (Romans 2:17-29).
Since all sinned (Romans 3:23), we all need to be saved from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9). God's response to evil is wrath. God's wrath is not "flying off the handle." It is the product of God's holiness.
Christ: God's Rescue Plan
At its core, Romans is about God's plan to rescue us. While the Mosaic Law could not remove sin (Hebrews 10:4), Christ's blood could (Romans 3:24-26). God delivered Jesus for our sins, and raised Jesus for our justification (Romans 4:23-25).
Rejected for Rebellion
Meaning "in the wrong," wickedness is rebellion against God. God gives the wicked up to their own evils (Romans 1:24, 26, 28). Men served idols (Romans 1:22-25, Jer 10:5), and developed depraved minds (Romans 1:28-32).
Rebellion begets divine rejection (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12).