not quite that easy to pin down.
As I've reflected more on what I want to be an overarching theme for a sermon series, it's occurred to me that the concept of there being a thesis around which Romans is wrapped is a very modern one.
Paul's epistle is not a work of systematic theology, so we can't read it like we do Aquinas or Barth. In fact, I suspect that if Paul was a Divinity School student, Romans would not get a very good grade.
Instead, Paul is writing very much stream of consciousness, addressing the problems in the Roman Christian community as he understands them. So while the question of a central thesis is one that I don't really think Romans is trying to answer, I do think there are some ideas that keep coming up in Paul's writings that reflect what he thought was most important about being a follower of Jesus.
As the "apostle to the Gentiles", Paul spent a lot of time thinking and arguing with others about just what new thing God was doing in Jesus. Paul did not cease to be Jewish, and thus probably didn't see Christianity as a separate religion the way we do today, but neither did he believe that one had to go through all the steps of conversion to Judaism, such as circumcision, to be part of this new thing God was doing. So as hyper-critical as Paul can be of others whose ideas or practices he disagrees with, Paul's vision of what God is doing is radically inclusive for his time.
So, all that being said, the theme for Arlington's upcoming two months exploring the Book of Romans is
"Jesus is for everybody"