Insights on Romans

Insights on Romans

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by Charles R. Swindoll, Mark Gaither

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Drawing on his vast experience as a communicator of God's Word, Chuck Swindoll presents his legacy to all who read and love the Bible: Swindoll's New Testament Insights. Volume one in this brand-new, landmark series provides a wealth of colorful, detailed, and easy-to-understand insights into Paul's letter to the Romans.


Drawing on his vast experience as a communicator of God's Word, Chuck Swindoll presents his legacy to all who read and love the Bible: Swindoll's New Testament Insights. Volume one in this brand-new, landmark series provides a wealth of colorful, detailed, and easy-to-understand insights into Paul's letter to the Romans.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Paul’s letter to the church in Rome has inspired countless believers. In it Augustine finds the seed plot of his faith; it sparks a revolution in the heart of Martin Luther, ignites the mind of Jonathan Edwards, and strangely warms the heart of John Wesley. It is Paul’s manifesto of the new kingdom, declaring our essential beliefs and establishing our agenda as Christ’s disciples. In it Paul shows that the plan of God is more than a mere fire escape through which a few find safety from the flames of eternal punishment. This grand plan is nothing less than the Creator’s intention to bring His creation back under divine dominion, to cleanse it of evil, to redeem, reclaim, and renovate the universe so that it once again fully reflects His glory. It is the gospel—good news to each individual, and the greater news of the return of God’s righteousness to its rightful place in the world.

—Chuck Swindoll

Product Details

Publication date:
Swindoll's New Testament Insights Series
Product dimensions:
7.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Insights on Romans

By Charles R. Swindoll


Copyright © 2010 Charles R. Swindoll
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-310-28430-7



Travel back in time with me. Let's go back to the winter of AD 57. We're at a narrow land bridge between mainland Greece and the Peloponnese, where a Roman city rakes in fortunes from heavy-laden ships and cash-heavy tourists. Outside the city, in the home of a wealthy and hospitable Christian named Gaius, two men discuss a scroll. One paces the room, pouring out his thoughts to the other, who sits at a large table, taking copious notes.

The speaker walks with a deliberate strength, although his shoulders are rounded and a noticeable hitch interrupts his gait. His arms and face bear the marks of wind, sun, age, and mistreatment. His fingers are knotted and curled and fused in an unnatural angle, the telltale sign of multiple stonings. You would expect that a body such as this would contain a broken, demoralized spirit, but the eyes reveal something different. They flash with energy and sparkle with the optimism of a teenager about to get his driver's license.

The city is Corinth. The one pacing the floor is Paul; his amanuensis at the table, Tertius. The document they are preparing will eventually become the apostle's letter to the church in Rome, the most significant piece of literature the Lord would ever commission His most prolific evangelist to write. Little does Paul or anyone realize the impact it will have through the centuries to come. From [Origen of Alexandria] in the [third century] to Barnhouse of Philadelphia in the twentieth, countless theologians will pen innumerable pages of exposition and meditation from the apostle's magnum opus. Augustine will find the seed plot of his faith in this letter. This document will spark a revolution in the heart of Martin Luther, who will reintroduce the truth of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone-a doctrine all but obscured by the dogma of men who stood to profit from a false gospel of works. It will ignite the mind of Jonathan Edwards, strangely warm the heart of John Wesley, and fuel the revival fire of George Whitefield.


Paul's journey to this place and time has been a winding one. Though born in the cosmopolitan hubbub of Tarsus, Paul matured in the shadow of the great temple in Jerusalem. Within its enormous, gleaming white walls, he learned at the feet of the famous rabbi Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). Though a Roman citizen (22:25-28), he was first and foremost "a son of the covenant." He heard of the great privileges and responsibilities God had given his kindred people. He studied the law of Moses and devoted himself to fulfilling every letter of tradition. And he immersed himself in the inveterate rituals of the Pharisees with a singular goal in mind. He wanted to become like the temple itself: sacred, strong, undefiled, a worthy vessel for the righteousness of God.

But, as often happens in the lives of great men, Paul's zealous pursuit of righteousness took an unexpected turn. While on the road to Damascus in order to silence and persecute Christians, Jesus Christ confronted him, rebuked him, changed him, and then set him on a whole new course (Acts 9:3-22). The righteousness he coveted could not be found in the traditions of the Pharisees, but in the faith of the very people he sought to kill. They would show their former persecutor supernatural grace, first by embracing him, the man who had supervised the stoning of their beloved Stephen (7:58-8:1), and then by showing him the source of their goodness. They were merely passing on the righteousness they had received by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (9:13-19).

Paul's encounter with the risen Christ transformed him. His future lay not in Jerusalem and works of the law, but out among the Gentiles, preaching grace and living by faith. Instead of stamping out Christianity, he would become a tireless apostle, traveling more than twenty thousand miles between Jerusalem and Rome and proclaiming the gospel wherever ears had never heard it. Then, near the end of his third missionary journey, after what many would consider a full life in ministry, the apostle looked westward to the frontier beyond Rome (Rom. 15:24).


Paul had long admired the congregation in the capital city of the empire. Although he had neither founded the church in Rome nor even visited it, he shared close connections with several leading members (Rom. 16:1-15). Many had been his partners in ministry, some were cell mates in the early days of evangelism, several were the fruit of his labors in other regions. Their obedience to the Word and faithfulness to one another had become legendary among the other churches (16:19). This could not have been easy, given their unique pressures in Rome.

During the reign of Emperor Claudius (AD 41-54), the Roman government-normally tolerant of other religions-began to prohibit proselytizing. Claudius likely expelled the Jews from Rome (Acts 18:2) because Jewish Christians had been evangelizing their neighbors. But within a few years, Claudius was poisoned and his adopted heir, Nero, took his place on the throne, and he allowed Jews and Christians to return. After reclaiming their homes and reestablishing their district, the Jewish community undoubtedly pressured Christians to keep a low profile to avoid more trouble. For the first three years of Nero's reign, all was quiet. The teenaged emperor was too occupied with threats within the palace to notice much going on outside. It was during this time that Paul wrote his brothers and sisters in the capital city. Within a few months, however, Nero eliminated the source of internal danger by poisoning his mother. Then he turned his attention to winning the hearts of Roman citizens with grand festivals and massive gladiatorial spectacles.

At the time of Paul's writing, the population of Rome exceeded one million inhabitants, nearly half of whom were bond-servants and recently freed slaves. And, like modern metropolitan centers, Rome was a wonderful place to live for the elite, but challenging for everyone else. The divide between the rich and poor constantly kept city officials on edge as the lower classes were never far from rioting. Most of them lived amid rampant street crime in squalid, high-rise apartment buildings, as tall as five or six stories, with no sanitation or water available above the first floor.

The great divide between the picturesque villas of the privileged and the crime-ridden slums that comprised most of the city left the residents to fend for themselves, which they did by congregating according to race. In other words, first-century Rome was not unlike New York City during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Ethnic neighborhoods became governments unto themselves, vying for dominance while maintaining an uneasy peace with one another to avoid persecution by the government (Acts 18:2).

Life was hard for everyone, but being a Christian in that environment made it even worse. For both Jewish and Gentile Christians, the price of discipleship often meant the loss of family and clan, including the safety they provided. They must have felt like squirrels living among angry giants, any one of whom might decide to crush them on a whim. By AD 64, their feelings proved to be justified. Nero went mad. His persecution of the Christians became so shockingly brutal that citizens actually began to pity them. Some say the crime of the Christians that sent them to their deaths was the burning of Rome, but according to the Roman historian, Tacitus, Christians were punished "not so much for the imputed crime of burning Rome, as for their hate and enmity to human kind."

This general impression of Christians-regardless of how unfair or slanderous it was-would factor heavily into the apostle's practical advice near the end of his letter.


The believers in Rome desperately needed encouragement, which this divinely inspired letter provided in three ways.

First, the letter confirmed their understanding of the gospel and clarified what might have been confusing. Persecution combined with isolation can cause even the most resilient mind to lose its grip on the truth. In fact, pain and seclusion are the principle tools used in the cruel art of mind control. Prisoners of war report that after several hours of torture, the human mind will accept any absurdity as absolute truth in order to end suffering.

In careful detail and with compelling clarity, Paul explained the truth of the gospel. He drew upon his formal training and the best rhetorical style of the day to present the truth of God in logical sequence. He recalled his years of preaching in synagogues and debating in markets to answer every relevant objection. And, of course, the Holy Spirit inspired the content, superintended the process of writing, and safeguarded the document from error. The believers in Rome received a complete, comprehensive, and concise proclamation of Christian truth. And the effect must have been incredibly calming.

Second, the letter affirmed the authenticity of their faith and commended them for their obedience. People on a long and arduous journey frequently need confirmation they are on the right course and should continue as they have been; otherwise they will grow discouraged and reduce their efforts or wander off-course. The church in Rome had long been an exemplary model of steadfast faith and authentic community. Paul encouraged them, in effect, "Keep doing what you have been doing. You're right on target!" Furthermore, the congregation in Rome, like every other church in the first century, was susceptible to the influence of false teachers. This letter equipped them to recognize the truth and to leave no room for heresy.

Third, the letter cast a vision for the future and urged them to become Paul's partners in accomplishing it. When churches take their eyes off the horizon, the inevitable result is what can be called a "survival mentality." Rather than accomplishing the plans of God to redeem and transform His creation, they forget their reason for being, which begins a long, agonizing slide into irrelevance. Irrelevant churches fret over inconsequential matters, nitpick their leadership, criticize one another, experiment with worldly strategies for growth, and chase vain philosophies. Meanwhile their surrounding communities hear little of Christ, and what they do hear is unattractive. Paul challenged the believers in Rome with an enormous undertaking: evangelization of the newly expanded empire to the west. It was a landmass greater than what the apostle had covered in three missionary journeys, although not nearly as tame.


Historians call the first two centuries of Roman rule after the birth of Christ, the Pax Romana-that is, the "Roman Peace." It was peaceful in that Rome focused less on foreign conquest and more on stabilizing the lands they already ruled, but it was nevertheless a brutal peace. The Empire could quickly mobilize large armies anywhere between Rome and Persia and typically responded to insurrection with shocking cruelty. Once a revolt had been quelled, it was not uncommon for the survivors to be crucified along the roads leading into the region as a warning to new colonists.

While this "peace" was not without bloodshed, it nevertheless paved the way for Paul's evangelistic ministry ... literally. To quickly move troops and commerce around the realm, the Roman government constructed an elaborate highway system, paved with stone and concrete, and regularly patrolled these roads to prevent robbery. This gave the apostle and his entourage unprecedented access to the world as they knew it. And he made the most of his opportunity, circling the Eastern Empire three times in fifteen years and logging more than twenty thousand miles, mostly on government paving and government-controlled shipping lanes.

In the end, the merciless "peace" of Rome became the means of a merciful "peace with God" (5:1) for innumerable Gentiles during Paul's lifetime, and for countless generations thereafter.

Excerpted from Insights on Romans by Charles R. Swindoll Copyright © 2010 by Charles R. Swindoll. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
'Chuck Swindoll has been a faithful and wise teacher of God's Word for many decades, and I am glad to see this new series that will make his captivating and heart-touching Bible teaching available to many more readers.' — Wayne Grudem, Ph D, Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary, Phoenix, Arizona

'Chuck Swindoll's warmth and empathy and love for teaching the Scriptures have blessed the church with remarkable fruitfulness, and they are present in spades in his reflections on the writings of Paul.' — John Ortberg

'As a pastor and teacher, I'm always searching for commentaries that will help me gain a more accurate grasp of the text and a clearer understanding of what it means for us today. Not many can deliver on both fronts. But in this first volume of his New Testament Insights series, Chuck Swindoll nails it. I expect that this treatise on Romans and the entire series are destined to become a trusted and well-worn addition to my library.' — Larry Osborne, pastor and author, North Coast Church, Vista, CA

'Chuck always finds a way to bring to life ancient stories and abstract thoughts. He doesn't have a boring bone in his body.' — Philip Yancey

At a time when many people think that the Bible is irrelevant and distant to them, few people have helped to make the Bible accessible to people as much as Chuck Swindoll. Here he unpacks the most doctrinal book of Paul in a way that brings doctrine to life. The combination of solid biblical scholarship, simple and understandable language, lively explanatory illustrations, and relevant contemporary application ensures that this book will serve as a health-giving resource to today's church. — Ajith Fernando, National Director, Youth for Christ, Sri Lanka

'To lay the theological foundation of Saddleback Church, I spent two years teaching through the book of Romans verse-by-verse to our congregation. During those two years, nothing encouraged me more personally as I prepared those messages than the tape-recorded messages on the book of Romans by my dear friend Chuck Swindoll. Chuck modeled how to teach profound biblical truths in clear, concise, and practical ways. I'm thrilled to see his teaching on Romans in the single published volume, Insights on Romans, and am eager to purchase the rest of the series as it comes out.' — Rick Warren, Saddleback Church

Meet the Author

Charles R. Swindoll has devoted his life to the clear, practical teaching and application of God's Word. He currently pastors Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, and serves as the chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary. His renowned Insight for Living radio program airs around the world. Chuck and Cynthia, his partner in life and ministry, have four grown children and ten grandchildren.

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Insights on Romans 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an outstanding, down to earth commentary on the book of Romans. Chuck Swindoll writes with a very high degree of accuracy and clarity as he explains the biblical history and culture during the time Romans was written. He then draws many applications for us in our modern day life from what Paul says in the book of Romans. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it and using it in my studies; and highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in studying Romans.
Pam73 More than 1 year ago
Great insight as always from Charles Swindoll. Great addition to any library.
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