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Romans 1 A Life Changing Letter

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If I asked you what the most important letter you ever read, what would you say?
proposal? Love letter? birth of a baby? draft letter? Sweepstakes letter? IRS?
Letters can be good or bad. Maybe you get a job offer…
We are going to study one of my favorite books in the Bible. Paul’s letter to the Romans.
"If a man understands Romans he has a sure road open to help him understand the entire Bible." John Calvin
The letter to the Romans has influenced many throughout history. Martin Luther began the reformation because of the book of Romans. John Wesley began Methodist Church because of Romans. Augustine became a Christian because of Romans. Throughout history God has used the book of Romans in mighty ways.
I want us to think about the Book of Romans as a letter Paul wrote to us…
When you study a book, you always want to ask at least five questions: Who wrote it? To whom was it written? When was it written? Why was it written? What's the main message?

5 Questions to ask when studying a book of the Bible

1. Who Wrote it? Paul

The Greeks had a habit of identifying themselves as the writer in the beginning… we ought to, but that makes too much sense. It would be like a memo… from Paul to you.
It wasn’t written by Paul, but it was authored by Paul. Paul wrote it but the handwriting was not his.
Romans 16:22 NLT
22 I, Tertius, the one writing this letter for Paul, send my greetings, too, as one of the Lord’s followers.
Tertius was Pauls Secretary. Paul dictated it to Tertius. This may explain some of the run-on sentences in the book. I imagine is might be a little difficult to keep up with Paul and write with the proper periods etc.

Where was it written?

Romans 16:23 NLT
23 Gaius says hello to you. He is my host and also serves as host to the whole church. Erastus, the city treasurer, sends you his greetings, and so does our brother Quartus.
Gaius was a Christian businessman and he lived in Corinth. This lets us know where the letter was written from. So the letter was written by Paul in Corinth to the Romans. Paul poured his heart out.

Who was Paul?

Paul was one of the greatest men to ever live since Jesus… certainly one of the mist influential men. There are a couple of billion Christians today primarily because Paul went all over the known world starting churches.

Paul was a product of three cultures: Jewish, Roman, Greek

1. Religiously, Paul was a Hebrew.

Philippians 3:4–6 NLT
4 though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! 5 I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. 6 I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.

Paul says he was the ultimate Jew

Before he became a Christian, he was a persecutor of Christians. He was persecuting the church and stood by while Stephen was stoned -- one of the first martyrs of the church.
In Acts 9, Saul was on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians when God spoke to him through a blinding light.
Acts 9:3–6 NLT
3 As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” 5 “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! 6 Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Saul was converted.

2. Paul was by culture, a Greek.

He was born and raised in Tarsus. Tarsus is a seaport on the coast of Turkey. On a map find Rome -- that's where Paul wrote the letter to. When he wrote the letter he was in Corinth. Corinth is a sea port on the coast of Greece. Paul was born in Tarsus in Turkey, right where there is a bend before you get down into Syria.
Tarsus was a great university center. It rivaled Athens. It had one of the greatest libraries of the world. Paul was a highly educated man. He spoke Greek fluently. Greek was the universal language at this time. Even though it was the Roman empire, not everybody spoke Latin, they spoke Greek, regardless of what country you were in. He spoke Greek fluently and that meant he could travel internationally and speak in several different countries.

3. Politically, Paul was a Roman Citizen

This is important to understand because being a Roman citizen gave you a pass to the empire that, if you were not a citizen, you didn't have those privileges. Only about one in five people in the Roman empire were actually citizens of the empire. (It's like in Russia. A very small percentage of Russians are members of the Communist party. Most of them are not members of the party and are not privileged to be a member of the party.) Paul was a Roman citizen.
You could get a Roman citizenship by birth, or if you were wealthy enough, you could buy a Roman citizenship.
Acts 16:35–39 NLT
35 The next morning the city officials sent the police to tell the jailer, “Let those men go!” 36 So the jailer told Paul, “The city officials have said you and Silas are free to leave. Go in peace.” 37 But Paul replied, “They have publicly beaten us without a trial and put us in prison—and we are Roman citizens. So now they want us to leave secretly? Certainly not! Let them come themselves to release us!” 38 When the police reported this, the city officials were alarmed to learn that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. 39 So they came to the jail and apologized to them. Then they brought them out and begged them to leave the city.
Paul had a Hebrew, Greek and Roman background.

2. To whom was it written?

Romans 1:7 NLT
7 I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
He wrote to the followers of Jesus in Rome. Paul longed to go see them. At this point in his life he had not been to Rome. Paul did not start the church in Rome and did not know many people there. It probably began with converts in Paul’s ministry who were from rome and went back and began churches.
At this time, Nero was the Caesar in Rome and he hated Christians and was killing them. Even with this, Paul wanted to go to Rome to visit and encourage the Christians there.
Romans 1:11–15 NLT
11 For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. 12 When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. 13 I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to visit you, but I was prevented until now. I want to work among you and see spiritual fruit, just as I have seen among other Gentiles. 14 For I have a great sense of obligation to people in both the civilized world and the rest of the world, to the educated and uneducated alike. 15 So I am eager to come to you in Rome, too, to preach the Good News.
Paul’s dream was to go to Rome. It was the greatest city in the world in the greatest empire of the world. It was a strategic city. Paul has started churches in Corinth, Thessolonica, all over Greece and Turkey and the Mediterranean, but he had never made it to Rome.
He was unable to go to Rome, so he wrote this letter.

3. When was it Written?

Paul made three missionary journeys around the Mediterranean starting churches, each of them taking a number of years. He'd go into an area and spend anywhere between six months and two years starting a church, get it growing, and then move on to a new area.
Paul, on his third journey, had made it all the way to Greece. He had started in Jerusalem, then he went to Tyre and Sidon and across the Balkan peninsula, and comes all the way down to Corinth.
Acts 20:1–3 NLT
1 When the uproar was over, Paul sent for the believers and encouraged them. Then he said good-bye and left for Macedonia. 2 While there, he encouraged the believers in all the towns he passed through. Then he traveled down to Greece, 3 where he stayed for three months. He was preparing to sail back to Syria when he discovered a plot by some Jews against his life, so he decided to return through Macedonia.
Paul stayed with Gaius in Corinth and it’s there he wrote the book of Romans. The book of Romans was the 5th book he wrote… after 1 Thess, 2 thess, 1 CO, 2 CO.

4. Why was it Written?

There are three purposes why Paul wrote the book of Romans. I think it's important to understand that this letter is different than many of his other letters. He did not start this church so he had no great knowledge of any specific problems. Because of this Romans is systematic in presenting Pauls theology.

1. He wanted to introduce himself to the Romans.

Romans 1:11–13 NLT
11 For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. 12 When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. 13 I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to visit you, but I was prevented until now. I want to work among you and see spiritual fruit, just as I have seen among other Gentiles.
Romans 1:15 NLT
15 So I am eager to come to you in Rome, too, to preach the Good News.
He was letting them know he was coming at some point. Always nice to know company is coming.

2. Paul wanted to clarify the meaning of Christian Living.

He wanted to clarify the meaning of salvation.
Romans 15:15–16 NLT
15 Even so, I have been bold enough to write about some of these points, knowing that all you need is this reminder. For by God’s grace, 16 I am a special messenger from Christ Jesus to you Gentiles. I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit.
Romans has been called by some, the Christian Constitution. Paul is giving us basic doctrinal trusths to believe in and to live out.

3. Paul was raising funds to take the Gospel to Spain.

Romans 15:22–25 NLT
22 In fact, my visit to you has been delayed so long because I have been preaching in these places. 23 But now I have finished my work in these regions, and after all these long years of waiting, I am eager to visit you. 24 I am planning to go to Spain, and when I do, I will stop off in Rome. And after I have enjoyed your fellowship for a little while, you can provide for my journey. 25 But before I come, I must go to Jerusalem to take a gift to the believers there.
We don’t know if Paul ever made it to Spain, but we do know he was killed in Rome. How did Paul get the letter to Rome. Phoebe a rich widow had some business in Rome and must have delivered it to the church there.
Romans 16:1–2 NLT
1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in Cenchrea. 2 Welcome her in the Lord as one who is worthy of honor among God’s people. Help her in whatever she needs, for she has been helpful to many, and especially to me.

5. What’s the main message?

The Gospel.
Romans 1:16–17 NLT
16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. 17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
God gives His righteousness to the person who believes in faith. The good news has the power to change lives. It's the power of the Gospel that I'm not ashamed of. The word power is the word from which we get our word dynamite.

Key Words:

Romans 1:17 NLT
17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
Righteous - 34
God - 153
Law - 72
Christ - 65
Sin - 48
Faith - 40

Overview

1:1-17 Into

1:18-3:20 - Sin

Sin. He starts with the bad news. Why do we need to be saved?

3:21-5:21 - Salvation

How you become a believer and come into salvation.

6:1- 8:39 - Sanctification

How to live as a Christian and what happens after you are saved.

9:1-11:36 - Sovereignty

The sovereignty of God. Why God saves us. In particularly we're going to look at the explanation of the relationship between nation of Israel and the church. Why God chose Israel as the chosen people.

12:1 - 15:13 Service

This is the practical part of Romans. It deals with what we're saved to do, our conduct and our character and how we are to serve God.

15:13 - 16:27 Conclusion

Just as Paul's other books are usually divided into a doctrinal section and a practical section, the same is true for the book of Romans. Part is very doctrinal and deals with basic Bible truths and teachings. Part of it is very practical, how we need to grow in the Christian life. It lists all kinds of subjects: like grace, sin, love, spiritual gifts, trials, struggles, Israel, getting along with each other, government, judging each other, sovereignty of God, judgement, the Holy Spirit, baptism, death, the gospel, heaven, repentance, growth. All of these are subjects that Paul deals with
Paul says three things about himself that we should all be able to say...

I am a servant

Jesus is our master
Matthew 6:24 NLT
24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.
We are saved and owned by Jesus so we serve him freely.

I am sent out...

Matthew 28:18–20 NLT
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

I have a gift…

He was an apostle. You have a gift to. As we get into the passages in Romans that deal with spiritual gifts we'll understand how to discover and develop and use our gifts in the way God wants us to use them.
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