Romans 1–3

“Romans 1–3,” New Testament Teacher Resource Manual (2002), 159–60


Romans 1–3emphasizes that Jesus Christ, not the law of Moses, is the source of righteousness, and that all people may become righteous through faith in Him.

Prayerfully study Romans 1–3and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 269–71, 314–18.

Suggestions for Teaching

Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for Romans 1–3.

video iconNew Testament Video presentation 13, “The Doctrine of Grace” (14:04), can be used in teaching Romans 2–5. Presentation 14, “Faith and Works” (8:32), can also be used in teaching Romans 2–5; however, you might choose to use this video to teach James 2. (See New Testament Video Guide for teaching suggestions.)

Romans 1:1. Romans is the first book in the section of the New Testament called “the Epistles,“ which is made up of letters written by the ancient Apostles.

(15–20 minutes)

Ask students to name a mission to which one of their family members or friends has been called. Ask: What is the name of the mission that our city, ward, or branch is part of? Tell students that each mission includes many different locations and that missionaries might serve in several different wards, branches, towns, cities, or even countries during their missions. Ask students to look at Bible map 13, and discuss some of the following questions:

  • If Paul were called today and labored in these places, what “mission” name do you think would appear on his mission call?

  • What locations was he “transferred“ to?

  • Why do you think it would have been challenging for him?

  • Can you see a similarity between the names of some of the cities where Paul served and the names of books in the New Testament? Why do you think this is so?

Have students turn to “The Names and Order of All the Books of the Old and New Testament” in the front of their Bibles. Using the information on how the New Testament is organized from “An Introduction to the New Testament” (see p. 8), invite students to label their table of contents page according to the following chart:

scripture sections

Explain to students why the books from Romans through Hebrews are called the Pauline Epistles (see Bible Dictionary, (“Pauline Epistles,” pp. 745–47). Tell them that Romans is the first Epistle in the New Testament but it was not the first one Paul wrote. Discuss which Epistles were written before Romans (see Bible Dictionary, (“Pauline Epistles,” p. 743).

Read the statements by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, then a member of the Seventy, on page 316 of The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles (see “What Are Some of the Significant Contributions of Romans?” and the commentary for Romans 1:7–8). This will help you guide your students to look for the significant contributions of Romans as well as the challenges this Epistle presents.

scripture iconRomans 1–3(Scripture Mastery, Romans 1:16). Everyone has sinned and needs a Savior. The gospel of Jesus Christ offers salvation to all of Heavenly Father’s children.

(30–35 minutes)

Ask students to imagine that the class is going on a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. They have been invited to spend four days with an archaeological team that is investigating the ruins of what may be an ancient Book of Mormon city. To prepare for the trip, ask students to rank the following items from most useful to least useful: flashlight, insect repellent, shovel, sturdy boots, water purifier, life raft, pocketknife, first-aid kit. After the class has voted, say, “Oh, did I mention that we’ll be traveling by boat and that our ship will sink in the Gulf of Mexico?” Ask:

  • Does that information make you want to change your ranking of the most useful items? How? (Most will probably want to move the life raft to the top of their list.)

  • Why didn’t you think the life raft was so important before?

Write the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson on the board or give it to students as a handout:

“Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ.

“No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon all mankind” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 106; or Ensign, May 1987, 85).

Read the statement to the class and discuss the following questions:

  • What do people often place higher on their list of priorities than the Savior? Why?

  • How is knowledge of our impending shipwreck like an understanding of the Fall?

  • How can a knowledge of our fallen condition change how we feel about the Savior?

  • How is the life raft in our story like the Savior?

  • How do you think the world would be different if people understood that they are fallen and live in a fallen world? (You may want to use 1 Nephi 10:6; Mosiah 16:4; and Alma 34:9to show how the Book of Mormon clearly identifies this doctrine and helps us to recognize it in the Bible.)

Tell students that the Apostle Paul tried to help the Roman Saints understand the doctrine of the Fall and its effect on all mankind. Have them read Romans 1:14–17(note the Joseph Smith Translation change in footnote 17b). Ask:

  • How did Paul feel about the gospel?

  • Why do you think he felt that way?

Tell students that in Romans 1–3, Paul reminded the Saints that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only hope of salvation for Jew or Gentile. Paul taught that we are justified by the power of Jesus Christ and that this power (or grace) is given to those who have faith in Him (see Romans 3:24–31). Ask students the following questions and use the accompanying scriptures to help answer them:

  • Why do people who refuse to accept God need the Savior? (Paul explained that God’s wrath is against those who refuse to believe in Him when all creation testifies of His power; see Romans 1:18–23.)

  • Why do people who believe in God also need the Savior? (Paul declared that all are judged by their works and God is no respecter of persons; see Romans 2:1–16; see also 1 Nephi 17:35.)

  • Why did the Jews, who thought having the law of Moses would save them, also need the Savior? (Paul warned that the law of Moses alone could not save them. Since no one can live the law perfectly, all are condemned by the law; see Romans 2:16–3:23.)

  • Why do some people in the Church today seem to think that just being a member of the Church will save them?

  • What do the scriptures teach about that philosophy? (see Matthew 7:21).

Consider concluding with this statement by President Spencer W. Kimball:

“The mission of the Church to its members is to make available the principles, programs, and priesthood by which they can prepare themselves for exaltation. Our success, individually and as a Church, will largely be determined by how faithfully we focus on living the gospel in the home. … Then we can understand that people are more important than programs, and that Church programs should always support and never detract from gospel-centered family activities” (“Living the Gospel in the Home,” Ensign, May 1978, 101).

Romans 1:18–32. When people rebel and reject God, they separate themselves from the Holy Ghost, and God allows them to suffer the full effects of their sins.

(25–30 minutes)

Turn off the lights in your classroom and turn on a flashlight. (You may want to cover the windows in advance so that it is very dark when you turn off the lights.) Ask students to think of the light as a representation of the influence or companionship of the Spirit of the Lord.

Turn the flashlight off and on a few times while discussing some of the following questions:

  • What actions or thoughts cause a person to draw away from the Lord?

  • What happens to us spiritually when we draw away?

  • What effect does sin have in our lives?

  • How does it feel to lose the Lord’s Spirit?

  • Why is darkness a good representation for being void of the Spirit? (see Matthew 6:22–23).

  • Why do you think some people seem to prefer darkness to light? (see D&C 10:21).

Turn on the classroom lights, and read and discuss some of the following scriptures: 2 Nephi 26:10–11; Mosiah 2:36–37; Doctrine and Covenants 1:31–35. Invite students to read Romans 1:24, 26, 28and look for phrases that describe how God allows people to withdraw from His Spirit (“God gave them up,” “God gave them over”). Explain that the Spirit can’t dwell with the wicked. This does not show a lack of love on God’s part but is the natural consequence of people’s sinful behavior (see John 15:10; D&C 95:12). Have students silently read Romans 1:21–32. Ask:

  • What sins can you identify that led the people to withdraw from the Lord?

  • How serious are these sins?

  • Why are these sins prevalent in today’s world?

  • What righteous actions are the opposite of the sins described in Romans 1?

  • Why does living righteously bring the Lord’s Spirit into our lives in greater abundance?

Turn off the lights once more and shine the flashlight on your scriptures. Testify that the scriptures teach us about the hope and light that Jesus Christ offers to guide us away from sin.