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Introduction to Romans

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Today we begin one of the most impactful books in the New Testament. Paul wrote this letter as an encouragement to the most important city in the world at the time. But Paul wasn't just writing a letter, he was building a launchpad. Paul knew that in order for the gospel to spread beyond Rome to a world in need he had to make sure the church in Rome was convinced of the power and significance and durability of this gospel message.
A spark to light a fire
Many of you use candles and lighters to ignite fireworks and sparklers and smoke bombs in the last few weeks. Our night skies and neighborhoods were full of great detonations started by tiny sparks. This letter was the fuel of a spark that exploded around the world 500 years ago. This letter inspired the monk Martin Luther to believe in a faith by grace and to see the many flaws of the Catholic Church at that time. It's powerful that this letter was the spark that ignited a reformation and convicted a man... Martin Luther... Because it was written by another man tormented by the depths of his sin.
Paul was an accomplice to murder and persecution and more. And yet Paul encountered the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus and found that even the worst of sinners could be saved.
And Paul spelled out this marvelous gospel in this powerful letter how he could be saved, how Martin Luther could be saved and honestly how anyone who has agonized over there standing before an almighty God can know no freedom and hope.
I love how Martin Luther puts it
Romans Introduction to Romans

“[Romans] is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. It can never be read or pondered too much, and the more it is dealt with the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes.”

Paul the author of Romans

If we want to understand the book of Romans we must understand the apostle Paul. He was a man with a heart set free and consumed by the power of the gospel. I love this quote by FF Bruce:
Romans Authorship

“Paul: apostle of the heart set free” (see Bibliography). No man was more free than the apostle Paul. He lived to please no one except the Lord who confronted, confounded, and converted him (Gal. 1:10)

Now pretty much all of you all know the background to the story of Paul. He was raised a pharisee and trained in all things related to the Jewish faith law and customs. And that training and that upbringing perfectly positioned him both for engaging in persecuting the church and then being the best advocate there could be for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
God had called Paul to take the gospel to the gentiles. For each of us who fall in the category of non Jewish people we should be eternally grateful for Paul's response to the call of God. After conversion on his first missionary journey Paul preach the gospel in a Jewish synagogue Psiodon Antioch the reaction was negative to say the least.
Acts 13:45 ESV
45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him.
And yet Paul’s response at that early date reflected his commitment and conviction to do what God had laid out for him.
Acts 13:47 ESV
47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “ ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”
As a scholar of the Old Testament Paul knew all the prophecies from Isaiah and zachariah and other books that the Messiah would come. All the Jews expected the Messiah to come. The problem was in how God chose to reveal his Messiah to them. The problem was they didn't like the Messiah that God provided. They thought the Messiah would be a conquering king not the person that Jesus was.
Paul was a man called by God and commissioned by God to take the gospel to the gentile people. And Paul list faithful and obedience in doing this mission to the rest of his life. It took awhile but the rest of the church accepted this mission and supported him in what he was doing. God had called him to take this message to the ends of the earth. Paul was faithful and he was willing in obedience to submit himself to a God called him to do.

The setting of Romans

Paul went on a number of missionary journeys crisscrossing the ancient world. But most people believe that he wrote this letter most likely in the city of Corinth in late AD56 or early AD 57.
This would be on his third missionary journey.
It's fascinating when you think through what led to Paul writing this book based on where he was in his journey.

First Missionary Journey Acts 12-14 (AD 48-49

Paul is sent out with Barnabas from the church in Antioch and they've plant churches throughout galatia and writes the letter to the church called the galatians epistle.

Jerusalem Council Acts 15:1-35 (AD 49-50)

At this point the church gathers together and figures out what to do with the gentiles. And the church settles that gentile should be invited into the church with a minimal amount of legalistic demands on their life. This was the moment where the church that Jesus established decided really to let gentiles in.

Second Missionary Journey Acts 15:36-18:22 (AD 50-52)

In this second missionary journey Paul and Silas traveled throughout Antioch through galatia into Macedonia and on this trip Paul spends a year and a half in Corinth and is in prison for the sake of the gospel. At this point it's about as far as Paul has ever gone into the gentile nations.

Third Missionary Journey, Acts 18:23-21:16 (AD 53-57)

Paul leaves Antioch he travels through glacius to ephesus and spends time in Corinth as well it's during this time that we believe it's most likely that Paul wrote the book of Romans.
Paul always had his sights set on bringing the gospel to Rome and beyond. He just didn't realize how exactly he would get there as a prisoner on a ship.

The purpose of Romans

Paul was the apostle to the gentiles and he succeeded in taking the gospel throughout the Mediterranean world and possibly into Europe after that. Now when you think about the Old Testament covenant the law was meant to have an attractive effect on the nations around. It was meant that the Israelites would live such different lives at the people around them would want to know them and become like them. Their lives would attract people to them.
Peter declared that the church was a holy priesthood but not in the sense of the Old Testament. We were embassadors sent to the nations around
Acts 1:8 ESV
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
the call of the church was not to be just someone that attracted people to God but to go out into all the world with the message that God had for the world. As part of living out acts 18 the church had to reach out to the world. And what better what better stage to reach the whole world with the gospel then the city of Rome. It was the largest city in the ancient world at that time and most influential in terms of getting the word out. Paul wrote his letter to the Romans to establish and strengthen the church in Rome so that he could launch beyond Rome to reach all that Rome influence with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Many people believed that Paul wanted to go beyond Rome 2 places such as Spain
Romans 15:28 ESV
28 When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you.
Paul knew that in order for the church to serve as a basis for the gospel to go beyond Rome they had to be convinced of the power of the gospel
isn't that the case for us today? If we are going to serve as a ministry to the community around us to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ to a Terra haute in need we must be utterly convinced of the power and the purpose of the gospel.
We need to understand that the gospel can save both Jews and gentiles. We need to understand how you receive salvation we need to understand the extent that salvation works in us to make us like God.
This is a mature and complete letter because it's at the end of the third of Paul's missionary journeys. He knew what needed to be shared he knew how people needed to be challenged and encouraged and he was writing this letter to convince the church and to reassure them of the marvelous power of the gospel.
I like how one author puts it:
Romans Purpose of Romans

The purpose of his letter to the Romans is to teach them, equip them, and unite them in the faith

Paul's purpose was not to write a theological treatise explaining all the theology there is to know. His purpose was to prepare a church for action. And that's the purpose that we received today.

The recipients of Romans

The church in Rome was filled with both Jews and gentiles. It most likely started when Christians left Jerusalem in early acts chapter 2 and spread throughout the Roman world.
As with any church they probably struggled with their identity as well. And especially in the new church there was always this conflict between the Jews who always had faith in God and the gentiles who were flooding in because of Jesus.
Romans Recipients of Romans

The quickest way for any church to rise above “who’s who” is to focus on a larger mission that all can participate in. Paul’s goals for the church at Rome are a model in this regard.

Isn’t this true? When we focus on mission we stop picking on each other.

The style of Romans

The New Testamant has a variety of styles of letters
Acts is a book of history
The Gospels are biographies of Jesus
Revelation is apocalyptic
The epistles are all letters sent to specific people for different purposes.
Romans is also a letter.
Not personal like Philemon
Nor problem oriented like the Corinthian letters
It is a purpose drive letter to equip the church with the power of the Gospel.

The theme of Romans.

Romans 1:16 ESV
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
It’s about the Gospel
Romans 1:17 ESV
17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
And God’s power.
The Goal for Paul was to see lives transformed by the Gospel.


Take time to read/listen to Romans every week…It only takes 25 minutes on the youversion bible app.
Consider your experience of the Gospel message....are you convinced of the power of the Gospel? Where do you want to learn more about the Gospel message?
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