Crispads

Monday, October 15, 2007

Romans, Chapter 1

Today we are shifting gears over to the book of Romans, which is well known for having the "Romans road" to salvation. It is also the first work in the New Testament written by Paul. The significance of this is that we are first introduced to his writing, even though we are introduced to his character in Acts. I plan to cover Acts at a later date, but I wanted to get into Romans because it puts the person that Paul was into the light of the great evangelist he would become. We see this in the beginning as he shows his longing to visit Rome.

"11I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith. 13I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles." – Romans 1:11-13

Why is this important? Paul was already known for his travels and had visited many of the great cities of the early church, but why was he so focused on Rome? The answer is that it was then the center of the known world. Paul knew that his message would have its greatest impact from the center of civilization as he knew it not just in his time, but for future generations as well. During Paul's time Rome was beginning its period of largest influence on the course of human history. Paul knew that his message would have its farthest reach if he made it to Rome, and it is no coincidence that Rome, and the influence it would have on future history, would rise to power when Christ's message was at its freshest. God had a plan all along, and notice that Paul singles out the Gentiles here in verse 13. The center of the Gentile world at the time was Rome, and God had a plan for all to be saved and used secular history to carry it out.

"14I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome. 16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." – Romans 1-14-16

Do you see his mission here? It makes perfect sense for him then to go to Rome. Not only was Rome the center of civilization, it also had established a network of communication through roads and cities that allowed news to travel widely for the first time in human history. Rome had the greatest influence on the Gentile world simply because of its size and power, so what better way to spread the news of Christ than to go to Rome?

"18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." – Romans 1:18-20

Paul shifts gears here as window-dressing for the future. As we will see later, all of mankind is forced into depravity because of sin. We clearly know the truth, but the separation of sin keeps us from applying it in our lives. The second half of this chapter deals with what happens when we do not give our lives over to God. We become slaves to our own desires and it separates us from the glory of God. Our desires make us less than God wants us to be, but this is only shown here to illustrate the consequences of sin. As we will see later on in Romans, there is hope and a way to reconnect with God to avoid this wrath.

TODAY'S QUESTIONS:

  1. What do you know about the first century Roman Empire and the role it played in the gospel?
  2. How does Paul's desire to go to Rome reflect modern day evangelism?
  3. Why is there wrath against mankind if God loves us?

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