Romans: An Introduction

Text: Romans 1.1-7

Introduction: I’ve always had a fondness for Romans. I guess it began with the Roman Road (3.23; 6.23; 5.8; 10.9-10; 13) Romans 8.18; and that long passage from 29-33; Romans 9 and the Sovereignty of God;

  • I remember reading about Martin Luther when I was on Sabbatical and how Romans 1.17 moved him…changed him. That powerful experience where Martin Luther read that one is justified by Faith alone launched the Reformation. But so many others have had similar experiences in Romans.
  • Augustine’s life was changed when he read Romans 13.13-14. He would become the 1st great scholar to truly have an impact on the church 4th
  • John Wesley had attended a meeting and someone, whoever was leading the study from Romans, began to read Luther’s preface to his commentary. Wesley was ‘strangely warmed’ as this book on Romans was being read and his spirit was stirred to Faith. Wesley, of course, was one of the ministers who was instrumental in the Spiritual Awakening that began in England and spread to the US.
  • John Bunyan, who wrote Pilgrim’s Progress – came to faith and was stirred by Romans.

And the list goes on.

And that is what I want for us here – that we would experience a life changing study. I pray that somewhere in the course of our study, your life will be changed, your spirit warmed and that you will never be the same.

History:

I find it interesting that Paul hadn’t established the church at Rome. Most of us just assume that the letters he wrote were out of his concern for something he started. But that isn’t always the case – and for sure, not this letter.

Let me give you a little history as I understand it. Jewish Christians established the Church at Rome as they were scattered abroad in times of persecution. Of Course, the Roman Catholic Church believes Peter established it; however, there is evidence of the church’s existence as early as 42AD. Peter was still in the area of Israel as late as 45AD. Paul is clear in this letter that he didn’t start it. So, best we can surmise, Jewish Christians came to Rome and began sharing with other Jews who got saved.

Now, in 49AD Claudius Caesar expelled the Jews from Rome. So, that left only Gentile believers in the church at Rome. By 54AD, Jews were making their way back into Rome because Claudius had died and his decree was no longer in effect. That left the church without a Jewish influence for some 5 years. We don’t know of what other influences good or bad, these believers would have had. Paul’s letter then, would be so very important and play a major role in their understanding of the Christ and the Church. Paul’s writing takes place sometime between 55-58AD. My guess is that his letter of Theology would be a stabilizing factor for their church.

With that thought in mind, you’ll see in his letter that he is addressing a bit of conflict between the Jewish believers and the Gentile believers. That should become clear for us when we get into chapters 2 and beyond.

Reasons for writing this letter:

That is one reason why he is writing: conflict between these two groups. But in the process, we get some great theology that comes out…

Another reason he’s writing is because he wants to visit them and stay with them on his way to Spain. Paul’s very clear about having preached throughout that area from Jerusalem to Greece. His desire is to boldly go where no man has gone before to preach the Gospel.

Ill.: Henry Cho tells the story of a buddy of his, BJ. That’s his name: BJ. It doesn’t stand for anything. He got tired of people asking him, so he would respond B only, J only. When he applied to get a driver’s lisence, he didn’t want there to be confusion – so he put down on the form, B only, J only. Of course it came back that his name was Bonly Jonly. Anyway, Henry and BJ were watching Star Trek:

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.

The intro finished and the music started. BJ then asked Henry: Do you think they’ll ever get to Boldlygo. Like, Boldlygo is the place they’ve been heading: to boldly go, where no man has gone before.

Well, that’s Paul… not to a place called Boldlygo, but rather to Spain – to boldly preach where no man has preached before. And Spain was as far away as you could go… He would need a stopping point along the way. Rome was it.

The Introduction:

This intro is the longest intro of any of Paul’s 13 letters. It is more theologically robust and full. Let’s read it together. Rd v 1-7;

There are 4 parts to this introduction:

  1. Paul introduces himself: The Man
  2. Paul tells them what he does: His Message
  3. Paul tells them why he does what he does: His Authority or His Commission by God
  4. Paul lists the recipients: but it is so much more than just the believers at Rome. It identifies certain traits believers possess. Belong to Christ, loved by God, called to holiness, Grace, and Peace.

Transition: Let’s walk through these verses with the first section:

I. The Man (1)

exp.: he identifies himself in three ways in v1: a slave; an apostle; set apart

  • Slave: δοῦλος; The lowest form of a human being;

Ill.: have you been reading about the move in our city to change the name of Lee High School? I really don’t get it. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but I don’t understand why people want to erase history. If we do, then we’ll be doomed to repeat it.

We find something similar here in modern translations. Your version probably says servant or bondservant. If you have the Holman CSB, you have a literal translation of slave. Why is it softened? It’s offensive. Slavery is offensive. And well it should be.

You and I abhor slavery, but it is a very real part of our world. Ignorance of this fact doesn’t make it go away. People, women and children mostly, are kidnapped and sold into slavery every day. Even, right here in Tyler!

When you think of slave, you probably have negative thoughts. I hope so. And, I think you’d be right on with what Paul is trying to illicitate in you.

Slaves have no rights. Yes, you and I want to set those who’ve been enslaved set free. Boko Haram still has Christian girls captive who he has enslaved. This should capture your attention. Now, with this thought in mind, I want you to see how Paul sees himself.

app.: Do you fight against this idea? I sure do. I hate slavery. The stories of young girls being kidnapped and sold into slavery nauseates me. It makes me angry. Look at what Paul is saying here: that he is a slave of Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus is His Master. He has no rights. He is totally and uterrly at Christ’s Command. He can do nothing of his own, but only what his master commands.

  • Apostle: called to be; An apostle is someone who has been sent with a mission; Commissioned; The idea that he has been called is that this isn’t his own doing. He didn’t just set out to do it because He had a passion for the Gentiles. God called him and commissioned him.

App.: We begin to sense that Paul is taking our eyes off of him and putting them upon God. Paul is nothing – the lowest form of a human, a slave. His Master is Jesus Christ. Paul is called and commissioned to a task. That means the work he is doing is someone else’s work. His job, his mission is because they have commissioned him to this task. Specifically, he says…

  • Set apart: this is a compound word different from the idea of sanctified. Usually, when we see set apart, we think of holy, separate. This compound word means away from and marked off with clear boundaries.

ill.: We’re all called in some sense – to be believers. You’ll see that in v 6 and again in v 7. This calling, well, it’s different. Sure, we’re all called to share Christ. This calling here, though, well, It is just different. I sometimes wish I could be like you. Sometimes when I hurt. Sometimes when I want to quit and give up. Coffee Cup: Pastor. Sometimes, though, I love what I do and who I am. My calling is different than yours. God called me to all of the same things he has called you to…I’ll mention some when we get down to v 6-7. But, he called me to something more. I’ve been set apart for a specific ministry here. I don’t take that lightly. I know some of you have ideas about what that is. And, some of you aren’t afraid to tell me. But, as one who has been called – my one heart’s greatest desire is to be found faithful to God. My heart’s desire is to be the pastor God intends me to be. So that when I stand before him – on that day, I’ll hear him say of me: Well done, Fred. Enter into the joy of your salvation.

app.: notice in each characteristic Paul is placing the focus on God. That’s his goal. You see, this calling is all about Him. He is the Master, He is the one who commissions and sets apart His slave to accomplish His task.

t.s.: And that is who Paul is saying he is… He is really nobody: a simple slave doing the work His Master has commanded of him. 2ndly, His message….

II. His Message (2-4)

exp.: at the end of v 1, Paul tells us what it is he has been called and set apart to do: the Gospel. And he outlines for us just what he understands about that Gospel in v 2:

  • God Promised; we saw this from Genesis 3.15 onward.
  • From long ago, and long before Paul’s day… hundreds and thousands of years.
  • Through His Prophets: Rom 3.21-23 talks about a righteousness that can be attained apart from the law – to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
  • In the Scriptures: that is where the promises are recorded; these are his Holy Scriptures

Exp.: rd v 3; concerning His Son; well, what about His Son? Two major points he makes and expands on:

  1. Son of David: lit.: seed of David; the point he’s making is that Jesus was from the House and Line of King David. The Messiah is from David’s line. Paul’s point here is that Jesus was human. 100% Human. He ate and drank and slept and walked and sweat and tired and … everything humans do, except of course, Jesus was without sin. Hebrews 4.15 says: 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Paul places emphasis upon this when he says according to the flesh. Not only was he human, the Son of David, but he was also…
  2. Son of God: rd v 4; declared is the word in Greek from which we get our word in English The Horizon is a line that clearly separates the earth from the heavens. The horizon helps determine or declare, if you will, where the earth ends and the heavens begin. Paul is saying that there was an event that clearly separates him from all other humans, making him divine. And that, my friend is the resurrection. It isn’t to say that Christ was not divine before the resurrection and it isn’t to say that he wasn’t God’s son before he became David’s son. No, as a matter of fact, the construction of the original language hints that he was indeed God’s Son before he ever became David’s Son. You see that in the Construction and brought out so well by the ESV.

Cranfield and others say this is an early confession formula that Paul is using. If that is to be the case, and I believe that it is, then as a Confession of sorts, it is meant to be poetic and flow. I think it is saying something unique about the resurrection. Something new happens here. It is a new era: a new age. Life lived on this earth will now be different. And for you and me and anyone else who comes to faith in Christ, it is! We no longer offer sacrifices. Our sacrifice was offered in Christ. We now live by faith and have Christ as our priest. We no longer need a priest to intercede for us.

He experienced life in the weakness of the flesh and died that way. But, he was resurrected to New Life in the power of the Spirit. He really died: all the way, dead. He wasn’t mostly dead. His heart stopped. His brain waves stopped. His blood stopped pumping through his heart. But, three days later – He is alive!

app.: this is Paul’s message.

t.s.: Next we see the why, which he has touched upon a little in v. 1;

III. His Authority (5)

exp.: why he does what he does; rd v 5; grace and apostleship; Not many people that I know of are saved and called in the same experience. If you’re familiar with Acts 9, then you know that Paul’s salvation experience was also his calling to spread the Gospel. And this calling is to bring about the obedience of faith, that is, to see people surrender their lives to Christ. That through faith and obedience, the whole world might come to Christ – you see that in among the nations.

ill.: I can’t help but think about this mission we’ve accepted to reach our people group. Every people will be represented around the throne. That call still goes out to us… to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.

There is a church about 2, maybe 2.5 hours away that has heard about our mission. They’re small, but are seeking a partnership in this mission. Will you make that a matter of prayer? It would be help for us in the area of finances and the area of service. But, the conversation has only been broached. Conversations can break down at any time. So please be in prayer as we do our part to reach this people group and possibly some others around that area.

app.:

  • Paul saw himself as God owned;
  • He saw his message as God prepared;
  • and he saw his authority as God appointed.

Conclusion: Paul concludes his introduction with a statement that really is about all believers; rd v6-7;

I’ve been taught that Spurgeon used to teach his students in their preaching to make a Beeline to the Cross. Really, it’s His Story, so it is all about him. I don’t know if it is always true, but for the most part, every message should point people to Jesus.

That’s what Paul has done here:

  • In telling us who he is, he points us to Jesus.
  • In telling us what he does, in the Gospel, he points us to Jesus.
  • In telling us why he does what he does and by what authority he does it, he still points us to Jesus.

I’ve been reading up on Luther in preparation for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. One of my favorite stories is of Jon Huss, who some 100 years before Luther spoke out against the papacy and the Catholic Church. But, Luther said that his gripes with the church were different Huss and Zwingli, who predate Luther. Where Huss and Zwingli spoke out against the morals of the Pope and the Church, Luther’s outrage was at the Theology of the Church. And Romans played a huge part in that.

For sure, think about it: if it was simply moral, then we would all still be Catholic. The difference would be a moral Pope and a moral leadership within the Church. But the difference is theology. Salvation isn’t found in the Church – it is found in faith through Jesus Christ and him alone.

So, what will you take home with you today?

Application:

  1. All of your life should point people to Christ.
    1. He is our Master.
    2. He is the one who has called us.
    3. And, he is the one who has given us His Great Commission.
  2. Salvation comes through faith in Christ alone. There is no other way to be saved. There is no other man to trust. There is no other work to be accomplished. If you wondering about this this morning, Paul called it the obedience of faith.

I want to offer Christ to you this morning…

 

 

 

 

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1 Comment

Filed under Romans, Sermons

One response to “Romans: An Introduction

  1. Fred Obrecht

    Thanks for the message. I think everything we do as believers should point to Jesus. Enjoyed the history lesson which I hadn’t heard since college. Love ya. Lifting y’all up

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