Luther on Romans

by Jerry Senn

As Paul introduced himself and the “Gospel of God,” he stated as his motive for his calling, “to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among the nations” (Romans 1:5b). He repeats this expression at the very end of the book. Obedience and faith cannot be separated. One without the other destroys the meaning of both. (See James 2:17)

“While kept in exile by Duke Frederick for his own safety, Luther translated the entire Bible into the ordinary German of his day. He also included lengthy prefaces to some of the books, so that people who had never read the Bible before would have some help understanding it.” (Christian History Institute)

In his “Preface to Romans,” Luther wrote this about the book of Romans:
“This Epistle represents the fundamental teachings of the New Testament and is the very purest Gospel, well worth not only to be memorized verbatim but also to be used daily by every Christian as the daily bread of his  soul. For no one could ever exhaust this epistle by study and meditation.The better one becomes acquainted with it, the higher one will treasure it and all the more delight in it.” (From Richard C Halverson’s book “God’s Way Out of Futility,” pp 15, 16)

Paul said this in Romans 1:16–17:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”

Luther would later write: “We are saved by faith alone, but faith is never alone.” (RCH)