Summary: Have you ever wanted to go to Rome? Possibly not. But if you did, there is a website called Vrbo that rents houses, condos, apartments or studios to stay in if you go. The apostle Paul wanted to go to Rome, but when he got there he didn't have the fine accommodations that Vrbo advertises.
A LETTER FOR ALL CHRISTIANS
Have you ever wanted to go to Rome? Possibly not. But if you did, there is a website called Vrbo that rents houses, condos, apartments, villas or studios to stay in if you go.
The site advertisement says: “Discover a selection of 7,000 vacation rentals in Rome, Italy that are perfect for your trip. Whether you’re traveling with friends, family, or even pets, Vrbo vacation homes have the best amenities for hanging out with the people that matter most, including WiFi and air conditioning.
“Prices start at $105 per night, and condos and villas are popular options for a stay in Rome. Either way, you'll find a rental for everyone's needs.”
Does that entice you to want to make the trip? The apostle Paul wanted to go to Rome, but when he got there he did not have the fine accommodations that Vrbo advertises.
Paul wrote a letter to the Christians in Rome before he ever went. He eventually did arrive there, but not in the way he first imagined.
This letter to the Romans is different from the other letters he wrote which concern the churches and their problems and needs. Romans focuses on God and His plan of salvation for mankind, both Jews and Gentiles.
Paul wrote the letter while he was in Corinth during his third missionary journey. He was on his way back to Jerusalem with the collections from the Gentiles churches.
So the practical reason for writing this letter was to tell the Roman Christians that he was planning to visit them after his trip to Jerusalem. But He was arrested in Jerusalem and he appealed his case to Caesar.
Here is Charles Spurgeon’s interesting comment on how Paul finally got to Rome: “I do not suppose that Paul guessed that he would be sent there at the government’s expense, but he was. The Roman Empire had to find a ship for him, and a fit escort for him, too; and he entered the city as an ambassador in bonds.
“When our hearts are set on a thing, and we pray for it, God may grant us the blessing; but, it may be, in a way that we never looked for. You shall go to Rome, Paul; but you shall go in chains.”
Romans is the longest of Paul’s letters that we have, and the most in-depth and comprehensive exposition of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
That explains the introduction that we will look at today. He set the tone right. Lets read the beginning of this letter. Romans 1:1-15:
1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.
5 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;
7 To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints:Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, 10 making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.
11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established— 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
13 Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. 14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. 15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. (NKJV)
The first thing Paul does in these verses is to talk about Jesus. Following Jesus, teaching others about Jesus, writing to encourage others in their obedience to Jesus was Paul's passion.
Having introduced himself at the beginning of this letter, Paul gives us concise statements of the Gospel of God.
He explains the good news has to do with Jesus Christ, the descendant of David by birth and declared the Son of God by His resurrection.
Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection brings us into a new relationship with God. In these few lines, Paul lays out the thrust of the rest of this letter – the message of the Gospel.