Book of Romans - Part 1
Romans Picture

Hello and Welcome to Our Church Without Walls: I’m preaching this Sunday on THE BOOK OF ROMANS

Join with me now as I give you an exposition on Paul’s Epistle to the Romans

Today’s Text is the Introduction and Chapter 1, verses 1-17.

The greatest presentation of salvation in the Bible is the book of Romans. This epistle of Paul touches on almost every element of the Christian world view. Of the 13 Epistles we have in Scripture, Romans is placed first. Not because of its date, but according to Joseph H. Thayer, because of the superlative excellence of the epistle (Thayer 293). Paul's superlative writing of the book of Romans comes most respectively and authoritatively from its author. We find the author referring to himself in the first verse when he states his name, Paul. Writing to the Roman Christians, Paul immediately put in writ his qualifications as an Apostle. After listing his qualifications, Paul began his dissertation on doctrine and then applied practical application for further understanding of its recipients. That gave the Epistle of Paul to the Romans a two-fold division, doctrinal and practical, to which this exposition will focus.

The first division, being doctrinal is found in chapters 1 - 11. The second division, being practical, is found in chapters 12 - 16. In the first division, the main theme is the plan of salvation. The Apostle Paul shows in this first division of the Epistle that justification is by faith and sanctification is through the Holy Spirit. However, before delving into the doctrinal teachings of justification, it makes good sense to explore the qualifications of Paul.

I. CHAPTER ONE

The very first word in this epistle identifies the author himself, Paul, as he claims being a "servant" of Jesus Christ. Paul was not only a servant, but an Apostle of Jesus Christ. It was in Jerusalem that Paul was trained in the scriptures. He was trained by one of the most learned and distinguished Rabbis of the day, Gamaliel, grandson of the famous Hillel. He was a Pharisee and well versed in the Scriptures. Paul was an eager and enthusiastic persecutor of the followers of the new Way (Acts 9:1-2). He was also the one who gave the approval of Stephen's murder (Acts 8:1). Believers of the new Way feared Paul so much they scattered from Jerusalem. Though the believers scattered, they carried the Good News with them, and Christianity was spreading like wildfire. Katharine Harris states, "In an attempt to once more bring this sect to an end, Paul determined to travel to Damascus and hunt out the believers there to drag them into Jerusalem to stand trial before the religious authorities" (Harris 543).

On the road to Damascus, Paul was stunned by an extremely bright light. A light so bright it caused him immediate blindness. It was through this bright light Paul heard a voice speaking to him. Paul recognized this voice to be the same Jesus he had been persecuting the believers of the Way for. In speaking to Paul, Jesus brought him to the conviction that He was the Messiah and Paul was converted to Christianity.

Paul was then taken into Damascus, where he was healed and baptized by a believer named Ananias (Acts 9:1-25). "After his conversion, Paul spent several years in his home city of Tarsus until Barnabas asked him to join him in teaching the newly formed church at Antioch (Acts 11:19-26). Later, Paul participated in three great missionary journeys extending from Jerusalem and Antioch westward through Cyprus and Asia Minor, and even into Europe" (Harris 543).

In verse 1, the apostle Paul begins this epistle to the Roman Christians identifying himself as a slave of Jesus Christ. We also read in verse 1 the word "slave" in many translations of the ancient scriptures. The Greek word that Paul uses is "doulos"; and according to the words of Dr. R. C. Sproul, "doulos was a person who had been purchased, and once purchased he became his master's possession" (Sproul 16).

Because of Paul's conversion to Christianity, he was sought out by the religious leaders of Judaism. It was common belief of the Jews that those Gentiles (anyone who was not Jewish) who would become Christian must be circumcised according to the Mosaic Law. Circumcision, as quoted by Henry H. Halley, was a "physical rite which stood as the initial ceremony in Jewish naturalization of Gentiles" (Halley 585). However, Paul's argument was that man's justification did not come from physical circumcision or from the Law of Moses, but on the Mercy of Christ. Paul further explained that man's sinful nature cannot fully live up to God's Law. The Apostle further argued that when man stands before God, it does not matter what that man has done, or what that man can do for himself, but what Christ has done on the cross. This indeed then led to the need of the gospel, man's repentance, and the problem that Paul faced with the Judaic religious leaders.

The religious leaders claimed that Paul was preaching blasphemy. They wanted to silence Paul because Christianity was growing at an alarming rate, and he was chief of this growing group. It was because of their relentless pursuit that Paul was arrested.

Since Paul was a prisoner and a citizen of Rome, he was sent there under guard. At this time, Paul was not sure he would make it there alive so he dictated this epistle to his scribe, Tertius (Romans 16:22). James Strong states that doulos in the Greek means "a slave (literally or figuratively, involuntary or voluntary; frequently, therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subservience) - bond (-man), servant" (Strong 25). What Paul is pointing out is that as humans, we are slaves subject to the sins of man (the flesh) or to the liberty of slavery to Christ. If Christ is our Savior, then we are not our own. If the world (and the things of this world) is our saving device, then we are slaves to it, and we are not our own. And since satan is the god of this world, we are slaves in bondage to the things of this world. Then if this is true, we are really slaves to satan and in bondage to him. It is here that Paul takes three chapters to show man's universal guilt of being against God.

It is verse 16 that is key to Paul's entire letter to the Christians in Rome. Paul states that he "is not ashamed of the gospel of Christ." This is in parallel with the warning of Jesus Christ found in Mark 8:38 and Luke 9:26, that if we are ashamed of Him before men, He will be ashamed of us before His Father. This is the real problem of a lot of Christians. They try to witness to someone and during the course of the conversation, they get rebutted, slammed or shut down. When this happens, often enough, Christians are tempted to get embarrassed about their faith. But according to verse 17, the righteousness of God is revealed. And it is available by grace to all who believe. For all who believe will live by faith. "The just shall live by faith." And, by the way, this verse is quoted by Paul taking it from the book of Habakkuk 2:4. This is, therefore the righteousness of faith to faith (verse 17). From Old Testament faith in the coming Messiah to the New Testament faith in Christ our Messiah who has already come, and faith in the future (may it be soon) of the return of Christ to rapture, conquer, rule and to reign! Paul then brings in the proposition that both the Jews and Gentiles are in need of righteousness to stand before God. And so this is where Paul begins showing the wrath of God toward sinful man.

Well folks, that’s all the time we have for now. Join with us next week as I continue with an exposition on The Book of Romans.

I’m Pastor Robby teaching His Word, His Work, His Way