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Summary: CHAPTER TWO, BRINGS US INTO A KEY THEOLOGICAL POINT FOR PAUL, IN THAT HE EXPRESSES THAT BOTH JEW AND GENTILE STAND EQUALLY GUILTY BEFORE GOD WITH REGARDS TO SIN AND THE NEED OF FORGIVENESS.

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ROMANS 2:18-29

PAUL WROTE THE BOOK OF ROMANS AS A MEANS OF INTRODUCTION TO THE CITY-CHURCHES OF ROME. HE HAD A GREAT DESIRE TO VISIT THERE, THOUGH THE CHURCH ITSELF WAS NOT ESTABLISHED BY HIM. PAUL DESIRED TO BE AN ENCOURAGER TO THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH, AND POSSIBLY TO HAVE THE CHURCH ENCOURAGE HIM IN HIS MINISTRY.

PAUL SEEKS IN THIS LETTER TO GIVE THE CHURCH IN ROME A BROAD AND COMPREHENSIVE UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT HE BELIEVES ARE THE KEY THEOLOGICAL DOCTRINES OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. HE IS WRITING THIS LETTER FROM CORINTH, AFTER RUNNING INTO DIFFICULTY WITH JEWS IN EPHESUS, AND WANTS THE PEOPLE OF ROME TO HEAR DIRECTLY WHAT HE TRULY BELIEVES.

PAUL BEGINS HIS LETTER BY ENCOURAGING AND THANKING GOD FOR THE CHURCH IN ROME. HE WANTS THEM TO KNOW THAT HE IS IN PRAYER FOR THEM, AND IS THANKFUL FOR THEM.

CHAPTER TWO, BRINGS US INTO A KEY THEOLOGICAL POINT FOR PAUL, IN THAT HE EXPRESSES THAT BOTH JEW AND GENTILE STAND EQUALLY GUILTY BEFORE GOD WITH REGARDS TO SIN AND THE NEED OF FORGIVENESS.

IT MAY APPEAR FROM THE DIRECTNESS OF THE DISCOURSE THAT PAUL HAS SOME KNOWLEDGE OF THE SITUATION IN ROME, BUT HE IS INDEED DEALING WITH THIS ISSUE IN A GENERAL SENSE. WE KNOW THIS FOR TWO REASONS.

1. PAUL WOULD HAVE SOME GENERAL KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE SITUATION IN ROME, THROUGH WHAT HE LEARNED ABOUT THE REPUTATION OF THE CHURCH. ALL CHURCHES HAVE A REPUTATION THAT IS NOT HID FROM THE OUTSIDE WORLD.

2. PAUL FORMED A FRIENDSHIP WITH AQUILLA AND PRISCILLIA WHILE IN CORINTH. THE EMPEROR CLAUDIUS EXPELLED ALL JEWS FROM ROME, AND THEY SETTLED IN CORINTH WHERE THEY PRACTICED THEIR TRADE AS TENTMAKERS. THEY ESTABLISHED A CHURCH IN THEIR HOME, AND WHEN PAUL CAME TO CORINTH, WELCOMED HIM AND BUILT THEIR FRIENDSHIP. NO DOUBT AS PART OF THEIR RELATIONSHIP AQUILLA AND PRISCILLIA WOULD HAVE INFORMED PAUL OF THE CHURCH IN ROME.

3. PAUL WOULD ALSO HAVE THE GENERAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN JEW AND GENTILE. HE KNEW THAT THE JEWS REGARDED THEMSELVES AS A PRIVILEGED PEOPLE, THE “CHOSEN PEOPLE OF GOD.” THEY SAW THEMSELVES WITH SPECIAL STATUS, AND GREW TO DEPEND ON THAT STATUS AS THEIR MEANS OF SALVATION. ONE WRITER HAS SAID:

“TO BE A MEMBER OF THE JEWISH RACE WAS TO ENJOY CERTAIN RELIGIOUS ADVANTAGES OVER OTHER NATIOSN. GRADUALLY, HOWEVER, PRIVILEGE GAVE BIRTH TO SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS…THEIR NATIONAL IDENTITY WAS INEXTRICABLY BOUND UP WITH MOSAIC LEGISLATION. THEY BOASTED OF THEIR UNIQUE RELATIONSHIP TO GOD. HE WAS THEIRS AND THEIRS ALONE. NO OTHER NATION HAD BEEN SO BLESSED. GOD WAS THE FATHER OF ISRAEL.”

JEWS WHO LEFT JERUSALEM AS A RESULT OF THE PERSECUTION THAT OCCURRED AT THE TIME OF PENTECOST AND LEAD TO THE DEATH OF STEPHEN, SETTLED IN ROME AND STARTED THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH THERE. THEY HELD THE POSITIONS OF LEADERSHIP IN THE CHURCH. THEY REFERRED TO THE GENTILE BELIEVERS AS “BABES” OR “INFANTS” IN THE CHURCH AND WERE NOT LEADERSHIP MATERIAL.

WHEN CLAUDIUS ORDERED THE EXPULSION OF THE JEWS FROM ROME, GENTILES WERE PLACED IN POSITIONS OF LEADERSHIP IN THE CHURCH. WHEN THE EXPULSION ENDED, THE JEWS CAME BACK TO THE CHURCH IN ROME AND EXPECTED TO BE GIVEN THEIR POSITIONS OF AUTHORITY BACK. WHEN THIS DID NOT HAPPEN IT CREATED GREAT TENSION IN THE CHURCH THERE.


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