· Why did Paul choose to write these specific things?
· What was he trying to accomplish?
· In some ways we have to treat Romans as if we were hearing only one side of a conversation, like hearing a person talking on the phone.
Importance of the work
"Throughout Christian history, by common consent, Paul’s epistle to the Romans has been regarded as the high peak of the Bible, the place where all the main biblical themes are brought together and displayed in a single panoramic sweep. God, man, sin, grace, law, judgment, the plan of salvation, election, reprobation, the role and work of Christ, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, faith, works, creation, redemption, revelation, justification, sanctification, the Christian hope, the nature of the church, the place of Jew and Gentile in God’s purposes, the philosophy of church and world history, the meaning and message of the Old Testament, the significance of baptism, the principles of personal devotion, ethics, and Christian fellowship, the profiles of godliness and ungodliness — they are all here, fully “connected up,” as the lawyers would say" (Packer, in Hodge, 1994).
Impact of this letter
· 4th century
· He read:
Romans 13:13-14 (NIV)
13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
· He wrote:
"No further would I read; nor needed I: for instantly at the end of this sentence, by a light as it were of serenity infused into my heart, all the darkness of doubt vanished away" (Augustine, p. 178).
· 15th century
· He read:
"For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”" (Romans 1:17, NIV)
· Edwards says of him:
"...propelled the monk to launch the greatest reform the church has ever known" (Edwards, p. 2).
· 18th century
· He read:
· Luther's "Preface to the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans"
· He wrote:
"About a quater before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he has taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death" (Wesley, cited in Edwards, p. 2)
Organization of the book
9-11: An "excursus"
"...a special consideration in which Paul struggles to understand why the gospel, which was intended for the Jews, has on the whole been rejected by them" (p. 3).
12-16: Practical application
Roots of our understanding
· It is universally accepted that Paul wrote this epistle.
· Confirmed by two personal or autobiographical sections:
o 1:8-15 and 15:22-23
Date of writing
See Acts 19:21: After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. “After I have been there,” he said, “I must visit Rome also.”
· End of his Third Missionary Journey
· Written from Corinth, probably in the Spring of A.D. 57
· In preparation for his visit to Rome following his delivery of the gifts to the needy church in Jerusalem.
Reason for writing
· This is much less certain. We have to do some textual detective work.
o Large, complex, urbanized. Water and sewage, four- story buildings, population of 500,000.
· The Church
o Neither founded by nor visited by Paul
o Not founded by Peter
o Grew from Jewish Synagogue, perhaps by those who witnessed Pentacost. See Acts 2:10-11.
· The Jews
o Brought to Rome as captives by Pompey (62 B.C.)
o Jewish population grew. Mentioned by Cicero in 59 B.C.
o Ordered out of Rome in 19 A.D. then returned in great numbers.
o Ordered out of Rome by Claudius in 49 or 50 A.D. on account of disturbances at the "instigation of Chrestus"
o As many as 50,000 Jews in Paul's day in Rome.
Setting the stage for conflict
Pattern of evangelism
· Acts 3-10
The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.
· Acts 13-14
49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
· Acts 17-18
17When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Christ a had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ, b” he said. 4 Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God- fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women.
5 But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city.
Paul writes to give guidance in the midst of conflict In Rome
· Following the Edict of Claudius
· Jewish Christians are gone
· Remaining are Gentiles who develop a dinstinct form of worship
· Conflict occured when the Jewish Christians returned. Perhaps leading to "house churches." Note the tone in Romans 16:5, 14, 15.
Theories of purpose
· A recapitulation of Paul's theology to be employed for a variety of purposes
· To address real concerns of real people in a real congregation, such as the conflict between Jewish and Gentile Christians.
· An advance "emissary" to Rome in preparation for his visit on the way to Spain
Verse by verse
The Salutation v. 1-7
· In Greek v.1-7 are a single sentence
· He addresses this letter from himself alone. Perhaps to take special responsibility for its content (Edwards, p. 26).
· Edwards: Exclusive allegiance to God's absolute sovereignty.
· See Isaiah 49:1-6
Dunn: "Paul saw his ministry to the Gentiles both as fulfilling Israel’s covenanted role (according to Isaiah), and as bringing to full effect Jesus’ own role as the Servant of Yahweh" (Dunn)
"apostolos", noun related to verb "apostellein" meaning "to send someone with a commission."
· Edwards: "called" not self-appointed
Set apart for the Gospel
· Expressed "Paul's personal destiny" that is "chosen for a unique vocation"
Edwards: a play on the word used for Pharasee. "...he seems to indicate that he is now a different kind of Pharasee from what he had been. Previously he had been a Pharasee separated from Gentiles; now he is separated for them" (Edwards, p. 28).
· "for the Gospel" - specifically commissioned to proclaim it
· Here Paul shows that the Gospel was not an after thought but was the eternally existent purpose of God.
· Not an afterthought
· Not a "remedy"
· Paul expores the meaning of the Gospel
"Was declared with power to be the Son of God"
· Does not suggest "became"
· Shows (1) Son of God in suffering, (2) became the Son of God in Power
· Edwards: "Grace is the intersection where unconditional love meets human unworthiness" (p. 30).
To call people from among the Gentiles. See Acts 21: 20-21 "20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs."
"obedience that comes from faith" - "Only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient belives" Bonhoffer, p. 69, cited in Edwards, p. 31),
· The Roman Christians are also called to "belong", that is to be servants.
· Saints - from Hebrew and Greek roots meaning "to be set apart" or "holy" (Edwards, p. 31).
· Grace and peace
charis , the Gospel in a single word
salom , Hebrew concept of wholeness and well-being
Paul introduces himself and his desires v. 8-15
· "Spiritual gift" and "harvest"
Gift = charisma - perhaps a gift of being able to preach and express the Gospel clearly and unambiguously
Harvest = karpos - a blessing or perhaps a harvest of reconsiliation
· Note "mutually encouraged" ... Paul longed to both give encouragement and also to calm his concern of conflict within the Roman church
Paul introduces his theme v. 16-17
Edwards: "In a place like Rome it took courage not to be ashamed of what must have seemed like an absurdity: that an unknown Jew who suffered a disgraceful death on the eastern fringe of the Roman Empire wa being proclaimed as God in human flesh" (p. 39).
· Power of God - Paul's counteroffensive in a city that understood "power"
· Saving from wrath and judgement
· Saving for Glory for which the entire created order longs (remember out last lesson in Daniel)