Summary: This is an introduction to the Book of Romans
An Introduction to the Letter to the Romans
August 6, 2006
The Apostle Paul wrote the letter to the Romans. The Letter to the Romans was written in the winter of 56-57, not 1956-57, but the year AD 56. The Letter to the Romans is so important to Christianity; it was the first letter to actually get its own commentary ( a book explaining its meaning). Only 150 years later around AD 200 the theologian, Origen wrote this first commentary.
In Martin Luther’s commentary on the Letter to the Romans he writes: (Translated into English): “This epistle (letter) is really the masterpiece of the New Testament and the very purest (explanation of the) Gospel. It has great worth, not only, for every Christian to memorize word for word, by heart, but also to occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. It can never be read or pondered too much. The more it is handled, the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes.
John Calvin writes: “If we understand this Epistle, it opens to us a doorway to the understanding of the whole of scripture.”
It was the Letter to the Romans, the Holy Spirit used in the conversion of Martin Luther.
So what should The Letter to the Romans mean to you?
We know the importance God places on having a good foundation, but, do we understand the importance God places on the structure itself?
1 Corinthians 3:11 states: “For another foundation no one can lay, than the one laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
This, then, is our firm foundation; Christ Jesus
The verses on either side of 1 Corinthians 3:11 state: “According to the grace of God given to me as a master builder, I have laid the foundation and another builds thereon. But let every man take heed how he builds there on.”
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day (your day before God) shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall test every man’s work, of what sort of workmanship it is. If any man’s work remains standing, which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. But if any man’s work shall be burned up, he shall suffer loss, yet he himself shall be saved, yet through the fire.”
So, if Jesus Christ is the foundation on which we build the dwelling of our souls, then the Letter to the Romans is the mortar binding the theological bricks of our new dwelling.
If we can grasp the truths of the letter to the Romans, than
• we will live uncompromising lives and
• we will worry not about the works of our lives being burned up in that day.
But transgress this book, fail to grasp its truths, and we will stand before God empty handed. For it will all be burnt up.
Sometimes, we just fail to grasp the truths of life. Years ago as a new couple we were at Disney World. We sat down to eat lunch in Cinderella’s Castle. There, they treat you like royalty – Literally.
After lunch our waitress bowed before me and asked; “Is there anything else my Lord wishes?”
“Yes, I joked. I’d like my wife to treat me like this at home. I like being served and being called, My Lord”
The waitress bowed to my wife. “My Lord desires to be treated like a king, in his castle. May I suggest a reply?”
“Sure,” my wife said.
The waitress said; “Tell him he’s spent a little too much time, today, in fantasyland.”
“As soon as he buys you a castle, you will start treating him like a king!”
“Otherwise, he’s still just the toad you kiss every morning.”
I just don’t get it! Sarah called Abraham Lord! I just can’t get any respect.
Anyway! We need to grasp the truth of this letter.
None of us want to show up in heaven only to find we will have to live out the rest of our eternity in a tent.
As we begin to approach the Letter to the Romans, I want us to understand the background of the Roman church and the layout of the letter itself before we jump in.
The Roman church is made up of both Jews and Gentiles. The Jews had gone into cities all over the known world and set up businesses. In the process they also set up synagogues.
If you will remember, when I did a study on the leadership in the early churches, we found that the churches were spin offs of the synagogues where the early Christian evangelist, such as Paul, Timothy, Peter, etc. had gone into each town and preached the gospel in the local synagogue.