Summary: Intro to Romans
The book of Romans was written by the Apostle Paul in or about the year A.D. 57.
The Apostle Paul before coming to faith in Christ was driven to seek out those who called themselves Christians in order to bring them to trial.
Christianity at that time was against the law. At times the Christians that he sought out did not even make it back to be tried. Rather they had their lives taken from them by some means. One of those means was stoning. Stoning if you are not familiar with this term is when you are surrounded by a group of people who then impale you with large rocks until you die. Paul was personally responsible for the death of many Christians.
If you haven’t figured it out by this point Christians at this time did not have it very easy.
So what changed Paul? What possibly could change a person from being at one point in his life so hateful to one group of people, to then living his life without any fear for his own life in order to help those same people?
Paul found faith. He found faith.
Paul’s conversion to Christianity started for him one day on the road to a city called Damascus. Paul’s birth name Saul translated in Greek then becomes Paul. Saul was going to do what he did best. Find Christians.
As Saul was traveling on the road to Damascus with some other men (Acts 9:3-4), Jesus came to Saul and confronted him and said “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Jesus then blinded Saul and sent him on to Damascus in search of a man named Ananias.
Now Jesus came to Ananias in a vision (Acts 9:10) and told him about Saul coming to Damascus. Well Ananias heard the stories about Saul and was fearful. But then Jesus told Ananias to go to him, for he is a vessel of Mine.
So Ananias went to Saul and laying hands on him and said (Acts 9:17) “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Then (Acts 9:18) his sight was restored and he arose and was baptized.
From that point on Saul was given a new heart. A heart that was filled with love and devotion to preaching that Christ is the Son of God (Acts 9:20).
Nothing could keep Paul from preaching Christ. In (2 Corinthians 11:24-26) Paul talks about some hardships that he has had being a Christian. He said, “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.”
Paul even after all of this torment and hardship, never failed to have faith in Christ and never for once thought to himself that it was time to give up or that what he was doing wasn’t worth the effort. Christ is always worth the effort. He is worth the effort because to Him we where and still are worth the effort that he puts forth for us. Then again, if our relationship with him is proper then it really shouldn’t be an effort at all. It should be our desire.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he makes one point very clear: Before we come to faith in Christ and His sacrifice, we are dead in our sins. We are spiritual corpses. Our bodies might be carrying on, but our spirits have no life in them. We do not function in a way that God intended us to. We should be filled with love, joy and kindness, but in many cases we aren’t.
But when we accept Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, and put our faith in His goodness rather than in anything of our own, we become alive. The Holy Spirit breathes His life into us, and our spirit becomes alive, and from that point on, the love of God shines on us for all eternity. And we in return shine that light on others. Others will see this change in us. And seeing this, the hope is that others will seek what it is that God has given us.
So who are these Roman Christians?
It is thought that the church in Rome may have been started by a group of Jewish converts. As the church started to grow in numbers, more and more non-Jews or gentiles started coming to this church. This church had been there for many years before its first formal letter of instruction by any Apostle. They pretty much were just winging it. And they were doing a pretty good job at it at the time.