Paul's Letter to the Romans
Paul’s Letter to the Romans Romans 1:1-15
Paul had nothing to do with the founding of the church in Rome. He knew nothing of its problems and its mistakes. He had never been there as he had the other churches to which he wrote.
Thus, we find nothing dealing with specific problems. Rather, we learn of Paul’s theology, his beliefs and faith.
Though Paul had never gone there, Rome was still on his heart:
In Ephesus he said, “I must also see Rome.” Acts 19:21
God said to him, “So must thou bear witness also in Rome.” Acts 23:11
He wrote them from Corinth in 58 A.D.
He wanted their prayers, and had other motives as well.
But the great motive besides strengthening them was that of having Rome as a base to launch out into other lands.
I. A Call, A Gospel, A Task 1:1-7
A. Paul calls himself the “servant” (slave) DOULOS of Christ.
B. He calls Christ the “Lord” KURIOS. These two are opposite, and Kurios describes someone who has undisputed possession of a person or thing.
C. The word DOULOS has two meanings in the Bible.
1. The utter obligation of love – Jesus had loved him completely
2. An Old Testament word which describes great men of God. Moses, Amos, and Jeremiah carried this title. They were great men of God because they were the slaves of the Lord.
D. Paul also calls himself a disciple – “apostle.” He did not aspire to it. He was called to it, he says.
E. Paul says he is “set apart to serve the good news of God.”
1. Set apart by God – Before he was even born, God set him apart. “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace.” Paul realized that God has a plan and a purpose for everyone. All are put in the world to do something in God’s purpose.
2. Set apart by men – In Acts 13, the Holy Spirit told the church leaders at Antioch to separate Paul and Barnabas for the special mission to the Gentiles.
F. Paul says he received two things in this setting apart. (verse 5)
1. Grace – Grace always describes some free, unmerited, unearned, undeserved gift. Paul had once emphasized the law and what he was. But now he is changed, and it is what God has done. He now knows that salvation depends not on man’s effort but on God’s love.
2. He had received a task – “obedience to the faith.” He was separated to this task. Note that as a Pharisee he was separated for privilege, self-glory, pride. But as a Christian, he was separated for service, humility, and love.
G. Paul also sets out the gospel he preached (verses 3-4)
1. A gospel of the incarnation – “His son, Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” Paul preached on no half-god, demigod, legendary god, nor a myth of a man, but of one who came and lived right here with humankind and was both man and God.
2. A gospel of the resurrection – “And declared to be the son of God . . . by the resurrection from the dead.” Paul preached a living Lord. All the other gods have died and we have their memories. But by his resurrection, Jesus has lived and we have more than his memory. We have his presence and mighty power.
II. An Element of Greatness 1:8-15
A. Great people always compliment others.
Now in this church there were some people who found faults, gossiped, had no faith or vision. But there were others who said some nice things, some who strove to be more like Christ in word and deed. Paul says this church is known in the world through its faith. This is a sign of greatness – to compliment and praise people when they are trying to serve – for we all need some encouragement. “I thank God that your faith is spoken of throughout the world.” 1:8
B. His spirit of prayer
He does not know these people, but he prays for them. It easy to pray for our families and others we know, but we become great spirits as we learn to pray for those we do not know. “Without ceasing I make mention of you in my prayers.”
C. His great longing – “that I may impart to you some spiritual gift.” 1:11
It seems that the very things I, myself, often want to place in others lives are those things just beyond my reach such as stopping a man from his drinking, etc. Paul longed to this, to impart the gift needed.
D. His great obligation – “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the unwise and the wise.” 1:14
Paul knew he was under obligation – indebted to preach.
1. Indebted to God – for his mercy and grace
2. Indebted to people – they were God’s creatures.