Sources: I. Howard Marshall et al., Exploring the New Testament: A Guide to the Letters and Revelation (IVP, 2002); Raymond E. Brown, The New Testament: an Introduction (Doubleday, 1997); Bart Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 3d ed. (Oxford, 2004).
The Gospel in Romans Possible summaries:
"The gospel of God" (1:1-6): God's redemptive plan through Israel (1:2-3) is now accomplished in Jesus' resurrection (1:4) and offered through the apostles' ministry (1:5) to the nations generally and the Romans specifically as the obedience of faith (1:5-6).
"The power of God for salvation" (1:16-17): The good news reveals the righteousness of God through faith for faith, first to Jews and then the other nations.
Is the second summary a subset (say, 1:18-11:36) of the first?
One possible arrangement (cf. Brown 564ff):
1-4: The righteousness of God is revealed through the good news.
5-8: Reconciliation with God brings benefits.
9-11: The nations' justification advances God's promises to Israel.
12-15: Christians must live in response to God's mercy.
16: Greetings to Roman friends.
Issues in Romans (and elsewhere) Is this letter primarily about individual (so Luther) or ethnic salvation?
Is the wretched Paul of Rom. 7:24 the old one or the new one?
Is saving grace received through the Word (10:9-10) or sacraments (6:3-4)?
Various textual-and-theological issues: "let us have peace" or "we have peace" (5:1)? (See Bart Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture.)
What is the Spirit's role in Paul's vision of church life (1:4, 5:5, 8:1-30, 14:17)?
Do the names of chapter 16 indicate a church with women leaders?
Is Jesus' earlier life significant for Paul, or just his death and resurrection?
How Pauline Are We? Paul's undisputed letters reject legalism, moralism, and libertinism in favor of cooperation ("incarnating the gospel").
Are our churches really familiar with the messages of these books?
Have our theologies turned Paul into someone else?
(Is he 'Protestant'? 'Calvinist'? 'Arminian'? 'Catholic' or 'Orthodox'? 'Charismatic'? 'Nondenominational'? 'Evangelical'?)