Archive for June 6th, 2019

Romans 1:1-7

In Romans 1:1-7 Paul opens his letter to the church in Rome with a very long sentence (seven verses long). And he doesn’t appear to stop for a breath. But before we dig in to what he wrote, let’s get some background on this book. It is generally agreed that Paul wrote Romans from the city of Corinth as he wintered there on his third missionary journey. He had been a Christian preacher for some 20 years by this time. On his way to Jerusalem, he had three months in Corinth without any pressing duties. He perhaps thought this was a good time to write a letter to the Christians in Rome, a church he planned to visit after the trip to Jerusalem.

While Paul planned to go to Rome, the Holy Spirit warned him about the peril awaiting him in Jerusalem. So Paul determined to write them a letter so comprehensive that the Christians in Rome had the gospel Paul preached, even if Paul himself were not able to visit them. Because of all this, Romans is different than many of the other letters Paul wrote churches. Other New Testament letters focus more on the church and its challenges and problems. The Letter to the Romans focuses more on God and His great plan of redemption. It became a regular part of every meeting at the Roman church.

Paul’s self-identification is important as he begins his letter. He is first a servant of Jesus Christ, and second called to be an apostle. The translation of the word to ‘servant’ is not as strong as Paul likely intended – it was more closely a ‘slave’ – someone with complete and utter devotion to another. The idea of being an apostle is that you are a special ambassador or messenger. Paul’s message is the gospel (the Good News) of God. It is the gospel of God in the sense that it belongs to God in heaven. This isn’t a gospel Paul made up; he simply is a messenger of God’s gospel and he has been set apart to deliver it as God’s messenger.

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures”.  Other New Testament letters focus more on the church and its challenges and problems; Romans focuses more on God. Romans is ultimately a book about God. But as God is taught about, Paul also expresses God’s love for man through the gospel. This gospel is not new, and it is not a clever invention of man. Paul’s world was much like ours, where people like “new” teachings and doctrines. Nevertheless, Paul didn’t bring something new, but something very old in the plan of God.

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