The book of Romans is a very complex book with an incredible amount of detail to explore. This could be said of any book in the Bible, but it is especially true of Romans. So I want to acknowledge up front that there will be a number of things I don't cover exhaustively. But please feel free to comment on these posts or continue discussion of them at www.spiritblade.net/forums. I'm happy to keep the dialog going to see what we can learn from each other about this book.
Our pace will likely end up slowing down in terms of the verses covered per week as we look at Romans, simply because of the large amount of information that is so densely packed into each chapter. At times we may slow down just to remind ourselves of definitions of words that are commonly used in Christianity and the Bible, but that we tend to gloss over and forget the meaning of.
I would highly recommend reading through the entire chapter of the verses we look at each week, so that you can have a better sense of context for those times when we look closely at a couple of phrases or words.
I'd also recommend visiting www.spiritblade.net/biblegeek to look at the notes of my friend and study mentor, Dave Lindstrom. Or as I like to call him, the Hebrew-Greek Bible Geek. His notes will serve as a nice compliment to mine (or at least hopefully vice-versa!) and will be a helpful aid to anyone interested in looking at Romans more deeply.
The book of Romans was written by Paul, soon after writing First and Second Corinthians. It was probably written either from Corinth, or after having been there to collect the financial support for the Jerusalem churches being given by all of the Macedonian churches.
The letter is written to the church in Rome, which was composed mostly of Gentiles (non-Jews). The Roman church had not received any teaching from an Apostle yet, so part of Paul's aim with this letter was to present the fundamental truths of the Gospel. In other words, the basic need for and plan of salvation for humanity through Jesus. Paul also talks about the role of The Law and The Spirit in the life of the believer.
As Paul introduces himself, we get a glimpse of how he views himself and his role. He calls himself "Doulos". A slave whose will is permanently and completely consumed in obeying the will of another. In this case, "Christ" Jesus.
"Christ" was a prophetic title that means "anointed". It was a term applied to those anointed for the high priesthood or for those who would serve as a redeemer in some sense. In the case of Jesus, it applies to both redeemer(as we'll see in Romans) and High Priest(as explained in Hebrews chapters 3 and 4).
Paul was "called"(by God) to be an Apostle. This word means "ambassador" or "one sent" in the Greek and also implies authority. Paul's life was "set apart" from its normal course and from the course of those around him, to be dedicated solely to spreading an understanding and acceptance of the gospel.(v.1)
"Gospel" means "good news" and refers specifically to the good news about the Kingdom of God and salvation through Jesus, the Anointed High Priest and Redeemer. In Paul's writing, "the gospel" refers to the basic facts of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and of the interpretation of these facts.
So Paul was chosen to speak on behalf of Jesus Christ, which is why his words in this and any other letter he wrote are so important to our understanding of the truth. The words of this book will not appear in red letters in your Bible, but they are equally important as those that do.
Yay! We got through verse 1! (Don't worry, one verse will not be the average.)
Next Week- The ancient plan of salvation for us!
Coffee House Question- What "churchy word" can you think of that you hear used a lot but don't often consider the meaning of?