It is hard to overestimate the impact that the Book of Romans has had throughout church history. Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Tyndale, Wesley to name a few of the giants of our faith who attest to the magnificence of this epistle.
It was written by the Apostle Paul, probably in the city of Corinth, while he was on his 3rd missionary journey, about 30 or so years after the death and resurrection of our Savior (55-58 AD). It was intended to teach and instruct believers, to bring to their remembrance the meaning of the events that had so startled and amazed everyone a generation earlier.
Many of the founders of the church in the city of Rome were Jewish Christians. Sometime around Ad 45 the emperors (first Tiberius and then Claudius) announced an edict to expel Jews from Rome – so the church was left with Gentile believers. When the edict was repealed upon Claudius’ death many of the Jews who loved their Roman heritage returned to the city.
This created some tension – because the Gentiles had little regard for the traditions and beliefs that the Jews dearly loved. As we work our way through this book you will see evidence of this. One of the reasons Paul was writing was to show that the gospel could enable and empower people to thrive in community together despite their many differences. A lesson that many churches still need to learn today.
The Book of Romans is going to address a bunch of practical and theological questions that people are still asking today:
- What is the gospel?
- Is Jesus really God?
- How can God send people to hell?
- What about homosexuality – how should the church respond?
- How can a person who has never heard the gospel be held spiritually responsible?
- How do I deal with sin that I can’t seem to stop?
- How can people find real peace and hope?
- What does the Holy Spirit do for a believer?
- What are election and predestination?
- What is God’s plan for Israel?
- Is drinking alcohol acceptable for a believer?
- How should we respond to authority?
And that is just a start. This is definitely NOT an easy read, make you feel warm inside kind of epistle. There is a lot of meat on these bones. So get ready to think! Get ready to learn! Get ready for a challenge!
Let’s get started!
Next Week’s Passage: Romans 1:1-7
Memory Verse: Romans 8:1