Chapter 1 of Romans is a study in itself (and indeed we are barely through it after 2 weeks of reading it at CCC's infamous very early men's bible study). The introduction (vv.1-12) offer honest praise for the Roman Christians and also foreshadows some of the themes that are to come, namely: (1) the good news was promised long ago by God (i.e., Paul is not preaching something of his own creation and is the fulfillment of the law and the Old Testament); (2) the good news is about Jesus our King and High Priest who has delivered us from a shallow life and eternal death; (3) this good news is an unmerited gift for all, Jew and Gentile; and (4) all who receive it are commissioned to proclaim it to all in order to bring about obedience to the one true King.
vv.13-15, contains pertinent facts, including the assertion that he (Paul) has not snubbed the Roman churches in not yet visiting them and, in fact, really wants to visit them and hopes to soon.
vv.16-17 is the thesis statement of the letter and states that the good news is that deliverance from an empty life and eternal death has been made available to all persons everywhere who believe and trust in and are loyal to Jesus. In this good news, the saving action of God has been revealed and is only available through the gift of faith.
v.18-32 is part of the longer argument (ending in Chapter 15) supporting the thesis statement. Here Paul argues that ALL gentiles are "without excuse" re: obedience to God because He has made His commandments known to them intuitively. They are all condemned under the justified anger of God who has turned His back on them resulting in perversions, including, homosexual behavior.
This last part is controversial and it evoked a lot of discussion at our last Bible study. Some scholars argue that Paul believed that homosexual behavior was unnatural and, therefore, a sign of being abandoned by God but that we now know that some people are simply born homosexual and, therefore, Paul was wrong. Others, following a more Reformed doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture, argue otherwise and it is worth noting that the studies asserting that homosexual behavior is a trait ingrained into one's DNA have been challenged.
Work it out yourself with fear and trembling. Chapter 2 starts tomorrow. God bless,