Chapter 1 starts out like your everyday letter, with a salutation. A long, drawn-out salutation. Paul expresses his desire to visit the congregation in Rome, then says a few good words about Jesus and God, then lays in to the evil and fornicators. He clearly indicates that unbelievers are scum.
It is the longest of the Pauline epistles and is considered his "most important theological legacy".
Chapter 2 focuses on hypocrites, he really hates hypocrites. And he appears obsessed with circumcision. Hypocrites and dick flesh - that’s the theme here.
It’s taking a while, but by Chapter 3, we hear Paul say that faith is more important than works.
...and another word or two about dick flesh.
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
I’m surprised that Jesus has only been mentioned in passing so far.
Chapter 4 reinforces the idea of faith over works. And dick flesh. Jesus gets mentioned again, once.
Finally, we hear more about Jesus in Chapter 5, as Paul illustrates the power of faith as the path to God, and the power of belief in Jesus to obtain redemption for your sins.
The whole obsession about dick flesh is really disturbing, though.
So, I wonder why Paul feels he’s so important to the Romans that his words should be taken seriously? We can imagine that, in 55 CE, there are a few thousand believers spread around the Mediterranean Sea, and that, if Antioch (Turkey) is where the first church is established, then major civic centers might be expected locations for congregations to arise. But Paul’s early importance (or feeling of importance) is an eyebrow-raiser. If nothing else, we can sense that the question of salvation through works as opposed to salvation through faith is what Paul feels needs addressing.
Regardless, it’s worth reading about the Church at Antioch, just to get a mental image of where and how Paul gets started. When we get to earlier Epistles, it will be interesting to see whether Paul's theology has changed.