Philip Melanchthon, one of the great theological minds of the Reformation, described Romans as “an outline and compendium of all Christian doctrine”, and its interpretation has often been driven by theological interests and debates. Indeed, until recently Romans has been read primarily as an essay in propositional theology, and interpreters have often lost sight of the concrete and specific set of circumstances and interests that called this letter into existence. Attempting to abstract the timeless theology of Romans, Christians have repeatedly broken off fellowship with other Christians over the interpretation of minute aspects of this letter, for example, the question of predestination versus free will, the degree of human depravity, the nature of “saving” faith and so forth. A tragic irony emerges when we consider that in Romans, Paul provides his fullest treatment of the way God has brought together people of diverse heritage and practice into the one body of the church, and he also gives several chapters of practical advice for preserving unity in the midst of this diversity.
David deSilva, An Introduction to the New Testament, 598. Italics mine.