Romans 1:1-7

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

September 30, 1998

The Concert of Prayer coming up Ö

Introduction

The letter of Paul to the Romans is considered Paulís most important letter. This is why it is placed in front of all his others writings.

When and Where

It was written by Paul in the spring of either AD 57 or 58, while he was visiting Corinth. This fits in very well with our Sunday morning studies in the book of Acts, since we are currently in that same time period.

Paul had been in Ephesus for three years. It was during that time that he wrote his first letter to the Corinthians. But problems developed in Ephesus. The silversmiths of the city were upset because so many people were becoming Christians that their business or making little silver models of Dianaís temple was going to pieces. A riot followed.

(Acts 20:1-3 KJV) And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia. {2} And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, {3} And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia.

Itís while heís in Greece, in Corinth specifically, that he writes this letter to Rome. Later, after he makes his way up to Macedonia, heíll write his second letter to the Corinthians from Philippi. Then heíll start his fifty day journey from Philippi to Jerusalem, of which weíre nearly at the end on Sunday mornings in Acts 21.

The Human Connection

Though when Paul wrote this letter, he had not even been to Rome himself, there are more than a few people there who know him:

Rom 16:1-5 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: {2} That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.

Phebe is the one who is delivering the letter to Rome. She is from Cenchrea, which is Corinthís seaport on the Aegean Sea.

{3} Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: {4} Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. {5} Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.

Here in Rome were Priscilla and Aquila. These are Paulís old buddies whom he had originally met on his first trip to Corinth (Acts 18:2). Though Paul met them in Corinth, they themselves were originally from Rome, and had fled when Claudius had kicked all the Jews out of Rome. They were tent makers like Paul, and he had stayed in their home. When Paul left Corinth a year and a half later, they went with him as he sailed to Ephesus. He left them in Ephesus where they soon ran into a young preacher named Apollos. Apollos didnít quite have the message straight about Jesus, so they took him into their home and taught him more fully about the Lord. They were in Ephesus when Paul returned to begin his three year stay (1Cor.16:19), and the church met in their home. At some point during Paulís stay at Ephesus, they left Ephesus and went back home to Rome. By the time Paul leaves Ephesus and makes his way around to Corinth, theyíve already been re-established in Rome, and already have a church meeting in their home.

As weíll find out when we get to Romans 16, these arenít the only people Paul knows in Rome. In Romans 16:5-15, he mentions at least 25 other people by name whom he knows in Rome.

What itís about

Though Paul will cover a lot of different topics throughout the letter, his main reason for writing appears to be to explain his gospel, the message of good news that he has preached around the world. He will clarify how a person is made right before God. We call this the doctrine of justification. Everywhere Paul has traveled, heís run into Jews who would argue with him that a person has to keep the Law of Moses in order to be right with God. Even some Jews who had come to believe Jesus was the Messiah would follow Paul from city to city and place the Christians under the bondage of the law, even demanding that the Gentile believers become circumcised in order to be saved. Paul will show us that itís only by believing in Jesus that we receive a right standing before God. That indeed is good news.

:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ

In the Greek, the first two words are paulos doulos, or, "Paul, a servant"

When you think about it, Paul could have introduced himself in any number of ways.

To me, it would seem completely appropriate for Paul to start off this letter letting them know just who it is that is writing to them, like:

"Paul, the awesome, powerful, authoritative church-planting apostle of Jesus Christ"

After all, think of what Paul has done by this time.

Along with Barnabas, he helped establish the great church in Antioch.

Also with Barnabas, he helped start the Galatian churches in Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe.

He went on to start even more churches in Troas, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, and Corinth.

And if that werenít enough, he had the incredibly powerful three year ministry in Ephesus where he had set up a base of operations that had reached all of Asia Minor.

Paul was a man with a reputation. While in Ephesus, people were even stealing his old sweat rags and getting healed from them.

But Paul could never introduce himself that way. He belonged to Jesus Christ.

Lesson:

Be a servant

Paul would himself write this about Jesus:

Phil 2:5-8 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: {6} Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: {7} But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: {8} And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Jesus set the example:

Mark 9:33-37 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? {34} But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. {35} And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. {36} And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, {37} Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

Jesus said the measure of a personís greatness was how much they placed themselves last.

The example of taking a child in His arms was a sample of what being a servant is all about.

Itís not too often that we as "grown-ups" donít have time to be bothered with kids. After all, we have more important things to do. We have important things to discuss, important plans to make.

Jesus took time for the children.

I believe a measure of how well weíve learned this "Jesus Style" is how we treat the children around us. Will we stop to listen to them? Will we take time to play with them?

Sadly, the disciples didnít catch on to this too quickly. In just the next chapter, James and John are asking Jesus if they can have the best spots sitting next to Jesus when He sets up His kingdom.

(Mark 10:42-45 KJV) But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. {43} But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: {44} And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. {45} For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Weíve corrupted the word "minister" to mean someone who orders people around, who wears strange robes, and is in charge. But it simply means a servant.

Jesusí measure of greatness was not how many people you could order around. It was in how many people you could serve.

Lesson:

Stay a servant.

It was about fifteen years earlier that Paul met Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. At that time Paul said, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6)

It was at that time that Paul chose to make Jesus his Lord, and he would be His servant.

Now, fifteen years later, Paul is still the servant of Jesus Christ.

Pastor Chuck: "There are a lot of people who talk about past experiences but the past experiences have not been translated into the present relationship and the past experiences become null and void unless they are translated into present relationships."

Donít just be a servant, stay one.

Illustration

I Wonder

You know, Lord, How I serve You

with great emotional fervor in the limelight.

You know how eagerly I speak for You at a Women's Club.

You know my genuine enthusiasm at a Bible study.

But how would I react, I wonder,

if You pointed to a basin of water

and asked me to wash the callused feet

of a bent and wrinkled old woman

day after day, month after month,

in a room where nobody saw and nobody knew?

Ė Ruth Harms Calkin

:1 called to be an apostle

apostle Ė apostolos Ė a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders.

Though the word originally meant just a messenger, it became attached to a certain type of ministry, one of authority and power.

Paul never talks about making himself an "apostle". He always has it clear that it was Godís idea, it was Godís calling.

:1 separated unto the gospel of God,

separated unto Ė aphorizo Ė to mark off from others by boundaries, to limit, to separate; to appoint, set apart for some purpose

:2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)

promised afore Ė proepaggellomai Ė to announce before; to promise before

God had announced the gospel in the Scriptures. The Gospel wasnít something that Paul cooked up.

Weíll be seeing this as we go through Romans.

:3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;

or, "which became of the seed of David Ö"

Itís not that Jesus was a "created" or "made" person, but that He became a descendant of David when the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and she, being a descendant of David, conceived and gave birth to a baby boy.

We have a little snapshot of the nature of Jesus, being both the Son of God, deity, yet also the son of man, human.

Jesus was completely God and completely human.

:4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

declared Ė horizo Ė to define; to mark out the boundaries or limits (of any place or thing); to determine, appoint

It was the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead that marked off the boundaries showing that this was indeed the Son of God.

spirit of holiness Ė the Holy Spirit. We often tend to think of the words "Holy Spirit" as simply the name of the third person of the godhead. But itís also His description. He is the Spirit of holiness.

He is the Spirit that is holy, and produces holiness and purity.

Lesson:

Are you filled with the Spirit?

Some churches like to think that tongues is somehow the only evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit (which it isnít). We at Calvary Chapel tend to respond that the real evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit is the love He produces as a fruit (Gal. 5:22), which is absolutely true.

But thereís another evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit.

(1 Th 4:1-8 NLT) Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You are doing this already, and we encourage you to do so more and more. {2} For you remember what we taught you in the name of the Lord Jesus. {3} God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of all sexual sin. {4} Then each of you will control your body and live in holiness and honor-- {5} not in lustful passion as the pagans do, in their ignorance of God and his ways. {6} Never cheat another Christian in this matter by taking his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before. {7} God has called us to be holy, not to live impure lives. {8} Anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human rules but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

If Iím filled with a certain substance, I will begin to take on the nature of that substance. For example, people who eat a lot of raw garlic will eventually start to even have the smell of garlic coming out of their pores.

If Iím filled with the Spirit who is Holy, then it will begin to show in my life as I begin to learn more and more how to live a holy life.

:5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship,

Itís through Jesus that Paul has received both grace and his position as an apostle.

grace Ė charis Ė grace (gift), that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness, good will, loving-kindness, favour

Grace is when God had given to us simply because of His loving nature, simply as a free gift. Grace is not when weíve deserved or earned something, but simply when weíve been given to.

We have received grace from Jesus. We have received His favor.

This will be a major theme of the entire book.

:5 for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:

Paul has received Godís grace and has been sent as a messenger from God to help all the nations learn to believe, to have faith in Jesus.

The obedience that God is looking for is not obedience to the Law, but obedience to believe.

:6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:

Paul has said (vs.1) that he was "called" to be an apostle, but his "calling" is in no way unique nor does it make him any more special than the precious people he is writing to. They too are "called" of Jesus Christ.

Lesson:

Heís called you.

I know what itís like to not be chosen for the team. There were different times for me in elementary and Jr. High when I wasnít the most coordinated guy around. I know what itís like to stand on the line while everyone else is chosen for the team. I know what itís like when the two team captains argue over who is going to be "blessed" with getting you on the team. But I also know what itís like in some situations to have had the joy of being "picked". Wow, what a thrill!

As a Christian, God has chosen you. He has called you to be on His team. And He doesnít consider you the "last pick".

He hasnít just called you to be on the team, but Heís also called you to fill a special role. Itís like when the team captain is looking over who he has and says to himself, "I really need a good first baseman", so he looks over the crowd and picks you out to play first base.

(Eph 2:10 KJV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

You may not yet have a full idea of what God has called you for, but hang in there, He isnít finished with you yet! He knows just what youíre designed for. He knows just where you fit best.

Hereís a story of two guys who must have been just made for each other:

Illustration

A Golfing Handicap

Jack, a long-time member of his golf club, said to the Secretary that he would have to give up his membership. "I'm sorry to hear that, Jack", said the Secretary, "Why is that?" "Well, my eyesight is so poor now. I can still hit the ball well enough, but I can't see where it goes". "I'm sure we can sort something out.......... I know, we can pair you with Bill and he can spot for you. He's having problems too, but his eyesight is still perfect". The very next day the two golfers started out. Jack gave the ball a mighty whack and off it soared down the fairway. "Where did it go, where did it go?" Jack demanded excitedly. "I can't remember", replied Bill.

:7 To all that be in Rome

The church in Rome would be made up of both Jewish and Gentile believers.

:7 beloved of God

beloved Ė agapetos (agape) Ė beloved, esteemed, dear, favorite, worthy of love.

You are Godís favorite. You are the one for whom God has agape.

Lesson:

God loves you.

Keep in mind just how God loves you:

(1 Cor 13:4-8 NLT) Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud {5} or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. {6} It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. {7} Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. {8} Love will last forever Ö

Illustration

The Home Run

Terri Vandermark writes, On June 18th, I went to my little brother's baseball game as I always did. Cory was 12 years old at the time and had been playing baseball for a couple of years. When I saw that he was warming up to be next at bat, I decided to head over to the dugout to give him a few pointers. But when I got there, I simply said, "I love you." In return, he asked, "Does this mean you want me to hit a home run?" I smiled and said, "Do your best." As he walked up to the plate, there was a certain aura about him, He looked so confident and so sure about what he was going to do. One swing was all he took and, wouldn't you know, he hit his first home run! He ran around those bases with such pride - his eyes sparkled and his face was lit up. But what touched my heart the most was when he walked back over to the dugout. He looked over at me with the biggest smile I've ever seen and said, "I love you too, Ter." I don't remember if his team won or lost that game. On that special summer day in June, it simply didn't matter. Ė by Terri Vandermark from Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul Copyright 1997 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Kimberly Kirberger

:7 called to be saints

saints Ė hagios Ė a most holy thing, a saint

Itís too bad that the Roman Catholic Church through the years has twisted this word to signify some special kind of a Christian.

But to Paul, it was intended to all the believers in Rome.

When you become a Christian, you become a "saint".

Maybe we should all start calling each other "Saint Craig" or "Saint Joan"!

:7 Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Though this is in one sense the "typical greeting" from one Christian to another, it says what our life is all about.

Grace and peace.

The typical Jewish greeting was shalom, or, "peace".

Yet in the Christian church, it was "grace" and "peace".

If you donít know Godís grace, then you wonít know Godís peace.