Greetings and Theme [1:1-17]

  • Introduction [1:1-15]
    1. Greeting [1:1-7]
    2. Paul loves them and plans to visit them [1:8-15]
  • Theme of the book [1:16-17]

The Letter to the Romans compared with other letters of the time.

  • Greek and Roman letters tended to be very short, 150-250 words at the most.
    • Philemon was a long letter by normal standards! The Roman Christians must have been staggered to receive this letter of over 7000 words.
  • [1:7]There would have been more surprises when they started to read.
    • Nowadays we begin letters with “Dear Aunt Florrie...” or similar, but in those days it would have been “Andrew, to Aunt Florrie, grace to you”.
    • Then there would be a short prayer, usually to pagan gods.
    • This was the standard form.
    • A really important government letter would have a longer beginning like:
      “Justus, ruler of Gallia, plus other titles... etc.,
      to all the people of...”.
    • The more important the letter, the longer the title given.
  • The Roman Christians must have been astonished at this huge letter which had a beginning that sounded in some ways like a Roman imperial mandate, and yet was warm and intimate in other ways. Paul must have had good reasons for doing this.
    • Why do you think this is??
  1. From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.
  • [1:1] Slave of Christ Jesus, “inverted” title!
    • O.T. common designation “servant of God” (literaly slave of Jahweh)
    • Paul substitues Christ Jesus
  • [1:1]Called to be an apostle, set apart
    • When was Paul set apart? (Acts 13:1,2)
    • How was this by Jesus rather than by men? It was a prophetic word, directly from the Holy Spirit
    • In a sense Paul was also set apart even before he was born (Gal. 1:15,16)
  1. This gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
  2. concerning his Son who was a descendant of David with reference to the flesh,
  3. who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.
  • [1:4] When was Jesus appointed as the Son of God? at his resurrection
    • Some translations weaken this to declared, (what does your translation say?)
      • but the sense is that there is something new here
    • There was some new aspect to his sonship that he entered into
      • A human, united with a race of humans, bringing them together into sonship and adoption
  1. Through him we have received grace and our apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles on behalf of his name. 6. You also are among them, called to belong to Jesus Christ.
  • [1:5] “Obedience of faith” sounds a contradition in terms. What does it mean?
    • Is faith a work?
      • Obviously not, but...
    • Faith always “looks like something”
      • it cannot exist in a vacuum of nothingness, but has to be expressed to be faith
    • E.g. When God told Abraham to leave his city and head out into nothing
      • what faith looked like was packing his bags and going
      • Abraham was not “saved by travelling” but by a heart of faith
    • Similarly, when God told the Israelites to sacrifice animals
      • It was not the blood of the animals that saved them, but a heart of faith
      • If they did it in faith, believing
    • Faith is an act of surrender
      • e.g. Muslim heroin addict at Betel —required a response
    • Putting faith in Jesus who says “follow me” must mean that we actually follow him!
    • This is Paul saying the same as James: “Faith without obedience is dead”
  1. To all those loved by God in Rome, called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
  • [1:7]Notice that Paul doesn’t just wish them grace, but grace and peace.
  • What he is doing is beautifully blending in the Jewish greeting (peace) with the Greek one, and so emphasizing his words in Rom. 10:12 “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon him.”
  • What is more, although Paul is using the same words grace and peace that an unbeliever would unthinkingly use, Paul uses them to mean something special—the grace of God in salvation and peace with him through Jesus Christ. So we see that Paul takes the standard form of a letter and makes use of it to convey the warmth of Christian truth.
  1. First of all, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world.
  2. For God, whom I serve in my spirit by preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness that I continually remember you
  3. and I always ask in my prayers, if perhaps now at last I may succeed in visiting you according to the will of God.
  • [1:10] Does it look as if Paul has ever been to Rome?
    • no
  • [1:9-15] Why does he stress his love for them and how important they are to him?
    • to make a way for his letter
  1. For I long to see you, so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you,
  2. that is, that we may be mutually comforted by one another’s faith, both yours and mine.
  • [1:11] He wants to impart to them a spiritual gift
    • [12:6] He uses the same word Charisma (gifts) to mean gifts of the Spirit. (also 1 Cor 12:4)
    • This is evidence of impartation, along with 1 Tim 4:14 (elders’ laying on hands) and 2 Tim 1:6 (Paul’s hands)
  • [1:12] Some people argue that v.11 cannot refer to gifts of the Spirit because v.12 says it is mutual
    • If you read it carefully, it is the comfort and encouragement that is mutual
  1. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I often intended to come to you (and was prevented until now), so that I may have some fruit even among you, just as I already have among the rest of the Gentiles.
  2. I am a debtor both to the Greeks and to the barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.
  3. Thus I am eager also to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome.
  • [1:13] Is this written to Jews or Gentiles?
    • both, but probably mainly Gentiles
  1. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
  2. For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written, “The righteous by faith will live.”
  • [1:16-17] Theme verse
    • “The Gospel is the power of God for salvation, and reveals God’s righteousness which is by faith”
    • Why Jew first?
      • simply time order, since they had been promised it for so long
    • believes... faith to faith... faith —repetition for emphasis
    • Some ideas today are:
      • “It doesn’t matter what you believe in as long as you have faith”
        • Hindenburg Airship?
      • People talk of “different faiths”, or “faith communities” as if faith was the important thing
      • Muslims are included as a “faith” but they do not believe we are saved by faith!
    • Actually it is not the faith that is important, but what you have faith in
      • Hindenburg airship disaster—they had faith!
    • Paul uses faith as a shorthand here, but he is very clear that it is faith in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection as our only grounds for forgiveness and reconciliation with God

Purpose for letter

  • To bless the Romans with an excellent organized presentation of truth
  • To prepare the way for a visit to Rome
    • to preach the Gospel there
    • as a base for Spain