Romans 1:1–17comment (0)
September 1, 2011
By Robert Olsen
Related Scripture: Romans 1:1–17
Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Good News to Tell
The Book of Romans is one with an important history. Saint Augustine, Martin Luther and John Wesley are three notable individuals who were converted to Christianity largely through reading the book.
Paul wrote the book in preparation to visit Rome. Paul had never been to Rome but was planning on traveling to the Roman Empire’s capital city, and he wanted to let the Roman church know who he was and what he believed.
Why We Tell (1–7)
Paul emphasized that he was an apostle, which revealed his credentials. Paul heard the Lord on the road to Damascus and understood his role as a servant of God. While many might consider the role of a servant to be demeaning, it is what Christians embrace. Being a servant of God is higher than any other calling a human can have. Paul then turned his attention to the gospel, which he specified was promised through the prophets and Holy Scriptures. The Scriptures to which Paul was referring is not the New Testament, as it had yet to be composed and compiled. Rather, for Paul and all the figures in the New Testament, the Scriptures refers to the Old Testament. It is very important to remember and emphasize that the gospel was not created by God in the New Testament. The promise of the gospel has existed since Genesis 3:15, when the first prophecy about Christ was given. Christians often make the mistake of thinking that the Old Testament is no longer useful, but the gospel is present throughout the entire Bible. The gospel is fulfilled in Christ, who was fully human but also fully divine. His resurrection from the dead authenticated His divinity. He was not merely considered a god, or like God, as some assert, but was truly God in human form. Furthermore this gospel that Paul declared was for all people, not just the Jews. This is still true today. The gospel is good news for all people, which is why we do not keep it to ourselves but tell others what God has done through Jesus Christ in our lives.
Whom We Tell (8–15)
Paul longed to see the believers in Rome and show how much he cares for them by praying for them, even though he had never met them. This is a good model for us to follow, as we can be praying for other believers all over the world. We need to especially remember our fellow believers who live in areas of the world where they are persecuted for the sake of the gospel. Paul then recounted how he would like to share some spiritual gift with the Roman believers so that they may be mutually encouraged. An important lesson here is demonstrated by Paul’s affirmation that the believers would be an encouragement even though they came from different backgrounds and cultures. The gospel bonds believers together all over the world, overcoming cultural differences and language barriers.
Since Paul’s conversion in Acts 9, he was obligated to preach the gospel to all people regardless of their cultural background, to both Jews and Gentiles, that is, non-Jews. We are commissioned to spread the gospel just as Paul was. (See the Great Commission in Matthew 28).
What We Tell (16–17)
Paul knew the gospel’s power. The power that transformed his life from a legalistic Pharisee to a devoted follower of Jesus Christ is available to all who believe. This wonderful message of hope and freedom Paul preached all over the eastern Mediterranean. He was not ashamed. And the good news about the gospel is that it is a righteousness that comes by faith. Almost all other religions teach a salvation dependent upon what we can do. God doesn’t operate this way. There is nothing we can give or do to appease God or get on His good side. How can we, sinful finite creatures, be made right before an all-powerful perfect being? On our own, we cannot. But this is the glory of the gospel. God has done this work through Jesus Christ on our behalf. Jesus Christ paid the price for us. He died the death we all have to die so that we do not need to face an eternity separated from God. Salvation is not achieved by works but by faith.