In the summer of 386, Augustine, lost and feeling dead for God, read: not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires (Romans 13:13-14). Through the power of God’s Word, Augustine gained the faith to give his whole life to Jesus Christ at that moment.
In August of 1513, a monk lectured on the Book of Psalms to seminary students, but his inner life was nothing but turmoil. In his studies he came across Psalm 31:1: In Thy righteousness deliver me. The passage confused Luther; how could God’s righteousness do anything but condemn him to hell as a righteous punishment for his sins? Luther kept thinking about Romans 1:17, which says, the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” The monk went on to say: “Night and day I pondered until . . . I grasped the truth that the righteousness of God is that righteousness whereby, through grace and sheer mercy, he justifies us by faith. Therefore I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise . . . This passage of Paul became to me a gateway into heaven.” Martin Luther was born again, and the Reformation began in his heart.
In May of 1738, a failed minister and missionary reluctantly went to a small Bible study where someone read aloud from Martin Luther’s Commentary on Romans. “While he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for my salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken my sins away, even mine.” John Wesley was saved that night in London.
Martin Luther praised Romans: “It is the chief part of the New Testament and the perfect gospel . . . the absolute epitome of the gospel.”
Luther’s successor Philip Melancthon called Romans, “The compendium of Christian doctrine.”
John Calvin said of the Book of Romans, “When anyone understands this Epistle, he has a passage opened to him to the understanding of the whole Scripture.”
Samuel Coleridge, English poet and literary critic said Paul’s letter to the Romans is “The most profound work in existence.”
Frederick Godet, 19th Century Swiss theologian called the Book of Romans “The cathedral of the Christian faith.”
G. Campbell Morgan said Romans was “the most pessimistic page of literature upon which your eyes ever rested” and at the same time, “the most optimistic poem to which your ears ever listened.”
Richard Lenski wrote that the Book of Romans is “beyond question the most dynamic of all New Testament letters even as it was written at the climax of Paul’s apostolic career.”