You’ll notice as we read through the letter that Paul has never actually visited this church at the point at which he’s writing, and it seems that in fact, the church there in Rome have never met any of the apostles. That’s quite nice, because it puts them in the very same position as us—at least at this stage of their history—a church who have never come into contact with any of the famous figures of the New Testament, but nevertheless are written to, and visited by God. Just like we are.
We don’t think that Romans was the first letter that Paul wrote but it’s the most significant and the most famous and so it has taken the top-spot in the order of the books for that reason. The great heroes of the New Testament church have held that view of the book of Romans…
The so-called golden mouthed preacher John Chrysostom apparently would listen to the book of Romans read every week, and the other great heroes of New Testament church-history like Augustine and Martin Luther and John Wesley and then later doctor Martyn Lloyd-Jones have all looked to the book of Romans as an extremely helpful introduction to the Bible and it’s great themes of how we have broken the law of God; and how we are under the judgement of God; how we face a very specific future; how we need to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ; what place our works have in our salvation; what grace is; what justification is; what sanctification is; what election is; who Jesus is; who the Holy Spirit is; what the church is; and the relationship between Jews and gentiles. And so much more.
Basically, every Christian needs to know Paul’s letter to the Romans very well.