I. Paul’s base for authority (Interlude with brief summary of the doctrine of Christ, 2-4) (1-6)
II. Greeting (7)
III. Paul’s concern for them (8-15)
A. Manifested in Prayer (8-10)
B. Manifested in His Desire to Visit Them (11-13)
C. Because of his duty (14)
D. To share the gospel (15)
IV. The gospel (16-17)
A. Is the power of God (16)
B. Reveals the Righteousness of God (17)
Paul, set apart for the gospel (1)
Summary of the gospel (2-4)
Touching the Romans with the gospel (5-8)
Serving God by sharing the gospel (9-10)
Longing to share with them face to face (11-13)
His obligation to share the gospel (14)
His eagerness to share the gospel (15)
The power of the gospel (16)
The righteousness the gospel brings (17)
And then next week, the necessity of the gospel.
What exactly does it mean to be a bond-servant?
What about “set apart for the gospel”?
On what basis did Paul have authority?
What does it mean to be “called”?
What doctrines of Christ does Paul share in verses 2-4? Why does he share them here (they seem to interrupt his thought)?
What do we learn here about the gospel of God?
What does it mean that Jesus was “declared the Son of God” by the resurrection?
Who is the “we” in verse 5?
Why was Paul made an apostle?
What is the end purpose for which Paul preached?
Who is the book written to?
What can you tell me about Rome at that time? What type of Christians lived in Rome?
What does it mean that their faith was being proclaimed throughout the world?
How would you describe Paul’s attitude toward the Roman believers?
How is his love for them shown?
What are the reasons Paul wanted to visit Rome (list them out one by one)?
Why had Paul not gone before?
What does it mean that Paul would impart a spiritual gift to them? Are spiritual gifts imparted like this today?
What was Paul’s obligation to share with them?
Are we obligated to share the gospel today? Are we eager to?
If someone was ashamed of the gospel, what signs might there be of this?
Why was Paul not ashamed? Is this reason good enough for you to be bold today? What are some other verses in the Bible that tell Christians not to be ashamed of God/Christ.
What does it mean “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
What two things can we learn about the gospel from these two verses?
1. Acts 9:1-16, 13:2-3, Matthew 20:26-28, Romans 10:9
5. 1 Cor 9:1-2, Galatians 2:8-9
7. Acts 2:10, 37-41 (Romans present at Pentecost)
13. John 4:34-36
15. Romans 9:3
16. Matthew 5:13-16, Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, I will also be ashamed of him in that day.
Verse by Verse Commentary:
1. Paul’s conversion, special calling, and apostolic authority.
2. Rome, it’s secular side and the Christians living there. Rome was the capital of the largest empire in the world. It was very important as the center of the biblical world. About one million people lived there including many slaves. It had great architecture, but also was home to many wretched slums where the poorest level of society lived. It would be much like a metropolitan city today as far as its diverse population. Because it was the center of world commerce, people would travel there for business from thousands of miles away. It had an elite society of wealthy, and also a very large group of poor people. Romans gave the world some innovations, especially in architecture, government, military techniques, etc. But they were also very immoral, and violent, enjoying gladiators killing each other like we would watch a soccer match. Since Paul hadn’t been there, the group of believers there was probably pretty small and started by some who had been at Jerusalem on Pentecost. Since then, it would have been natural for some Christians to migrate there for business and add to the church. Christianity was not yet a state sanctioned religion at this point. It was more a fringe group, considered to be a bit wacky, yet harmless, by most Romans. Not many years later, Nero would begin persecuting Christians in the area, including skewering them, covering them with oil, and torching them. Some would also be thrown to the lions in the arena. So the saints in this city faced much of the same kinds of temptations and issues we face in a large metropolitan area today.
3. Gospel of God. Verse one mentions Paul’s mission as being set apart for the gospel of God. This gospel is much of the focus of the book. The Romans had never received any apostolic teaching face to face, so in this book Paul goes into detail about many of the great doctrines of the gospel. He includes things like the total depravity of man, God’s coming judgment, sin, justification by faith alone, sanctification, election, and from chapters 12-16 goes into more detail about the practical living out of these doctrines in our lives. Even in the first half of chapter one, which is mostly greetings and his purpose in writing to them, we see that he highlights the gospel. Verses 2-4 show the key elements of the gospel, all centered on Christ, His incarnation, and His death and resurrection. Later in the chapter Paul discusses how he serves God by sharing the gospel, his obligation to share it, his eagerness to share it, and his confidence to share it.
4. The audience of the book. Verse .6. Believers in Rome. Unlike some other Epistles, Paul is not writing them to rebuke them or because of some specific problem he heard about them. He is really writing to them with very general teaching on some of the greatest principles of the gospel.
5. Paul was thankful because their faith was being proclaimed throughout the whole world. The Christians in Rome had a shining testimony. As the center of world commerce at that time, everything they did would be magnified and heard about far away. As such, their strong faith in the Lord was well known. They had evidently been standing strong in the midst of a dark world. As we discussed when going through Philemon, Paul normally begins his epistles with appreciation, gratitude, and commendation. He thanked God for their good testimony. This is a kind, encouraging, and uplifting way to begin.
6. Paul once again expressed his heart of prayer. He had not actually met the Romans or had much, if any, correspondence with them, but he still prayed for them. This is a reminder to us, not only to pray for who we minister to, but to spend time in prayer for the church around the world, even if you haven’t visited the local bodies before. One of Paul’s main prayers was that he would be able to visit them face to face one day. In God’s providence, he hadn’t been able to visit them before and so we have this great book. Later when Paul was taken prisoner, he did go to Rome and had the opportunity to minister there for some time.
7. Spiritual gift. This can be a general word for blessing or a specific word for the kind of spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 and also later on in Romans. Its possible that Paul would lay hands on them and confer a spiritual gift to them as a sign of the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives and to strengthen their faith, or it could just refer to general blessings. If it was situation one, that wouldn’t mean that spiritual gifts can be handed out like this today. During early NT times, God often did things in a different way because the church was immature and also as a sign of the truth of the gospel and authority of the apostles. Perhaps if there were still apostles today, they may have this authority, but since there aren’t, we will never face the same situation.
8. Mutual encouragement. I find it interesting that Paul would go not only to encourage them, but to be encouraged by them. Although he was a “super apostle”, he was a man like us, complete with his own weaknesses and needs. He was apostle over them, but he would go as a peer to also learn from and receive encouragement from them. This portrays a humble attitude. It also shows us the importance of Christian fellowship and the part that every believer can play in this, whether he is mature, or a baby in the faith, a pastor, or a new convert. If you are a young believer you can still be an encouragement to older believers, especially as they see the passion and enthusiasm you have for the Lord. Mature believers should also welcome this relationship and see what they can learn from those younger than them in the faith. They should also be willing to share out of their own experience and knowledge of the Scriptures in a wise and kind way without being condescending.
9. Paul’s obligation to share the gospel. 1 Cor 9:16-17. Paul was obligated because he was given this duty by God. He had this duty to share with everyone, especially Gentiles. Would you say Paul was faithful to carry out his duty? Did he ever stop or give up? Are we obligated? Tie in to great commission lesson we had two weeks ago. We are obligated. We have a duty to share the gospel with others. It is a responsibility, but it is also a privilege. I think it was John who said he had no greater joy than to see his children walking in the truth. It is exciting to see people come to the Lord. We should rejoice that we can have a part in it and approach it with the same eagerness that Paul did.
16-17 Power of the gospel and righteousness it brings. Why might we feel ashamed?
1. Biggest reason. Deep inside you don’t believe it.
2. Think it is foolish to the educated.
3. Think the evidence is on their side.
4. Scared we will be ridiculed or singled out for persecution.
5. Lack of faith.
6. Too much confidence in our own flesh.
What are signs that we do feel shame about the gospel?
1. Scared to identify as a believer.
2. Apologize for our faith or the gospel message.
3. Keeping our faith a secret.
4. Identify freely with Christ around believers, but not around certain other groups.
5. Scared to share with others.
Why should we be confident? It is the power of the God. This is the key. It is not our ideas, our opinions, our words, or our story. It is not our religion. It is God’s Word. We are merely His parrots. A parrot need not feel shame about the message he is delivering. An ambassador can be confident delivering the message because the power of his country is behind him.
Chronologically the gospel went to the Jew before the Greek. Also God did specially choose them and bless them as His people before they rejected His Son. The gospel has a huge effect in our lives. It not only shows us that God is righteous (and therefore must punish sin), but faith in the gospel will also help us to be righteous as He is.