Summary: Romans #2
How many times have you heard a master of ceremonies say,
“And now it is my pleasure to introduce to you a man who needs no introduction …”? Why are the longest introductions often for those who “need no introduction”?
A good introduction is important.
A good introduction should arouse the interest and attention of the audience. A good introduction should help build a relationship between the speaker and his audience. A good introduction should also let us know something about what the speaker is going to talk about so we can follow him as he speaks.
We come this morning to the introduction of the book of Romans.
While all of Paul’s letters have an introduction, this one is particularly important. You’ll remember from last week, that Paul had not yet been to Rome. So, in a sense, Paul needs to introduce himself and his main message to the Christians in Rome. And it’s a long introduction.
It’s a “stretch limo” kind of introduction. It’s the longest of any of his introductions of any of his letters.
The theme of the introduction is: “The Gospel.”
The word "Gospel" is used 4 times in these first 17 verses.
In the New Testament times, letters were usually pretty short.
Paper was hard to get. Paper was made of papyrus (“paper”).
It was expensive. Even more expensive was when they wrote on vellum which is animal skins. Either way, it meant paper was so expensive you didn’t write long letters. The average letter in the Roman Empire during this time was probably about 150 words. The Roman historian Cicero wrote a letter that was actually a treatise and it had 4,500 words in it. Everyone thought it was enormous. Paul, when he writes to the Romans, uses over 7,000 words! He’s got a lot to say. We’ve got a lot to learn from it. Ready to dive in? Here we go...
1. Relating the Gospel (1:1-7)
Paul immediately confronts us with the gospel’s relationship to himself, then to God’s plan and then to believers. Let’s look at what he has to say about these relationships...
• To Paul (v. 1) Paul says 3 things about himself:
1. "a servant of Christ Jesus"
He was born a free man. Yet he introduces himself as a “servant of Christ Jesus.” The fact is everybody is a servant.
Who are you a servant to?
Everybody has a master. Who is your master?
It may be something or someone. In John 8:34 Jesus says, "Whoever sins is a slave to sin." In Romans 6:16, Paul talks about being a servant to sin. Paul changed masters when he met Jesus Christ on a road going to Damascus. He changed masters when he trusted Christ as his Savior and Lord. Before that, Paul had been a slave to sin and legalism. Now he says, "I’m gladly a slave to Jesus Christ."
Paul introduces himself as a servant of Jesus Christ.
2. "Called to be an apostle".
God’s army is not a volunteer army. You are commissioned. You don’t volunteer to serve the Lord or use your ministry or use your gift. You are commissioned. You are called. The fact is, if you’re not serving the Lord, you’re AWOL because we’re all called into service, called to be part of the gospel. You may not be called to be an apostle like Paul, but you’re called to do something else based on your gifts and your talents.
3. "Set apart for the gospel of God".
The Greek term for "set apart" literally means "off horizon."
It has the idea of being removed from one sphere and placed into another. In Paul’s case, he was moved from the sphere of sin to the sphere of salvation, from the horizon of rebellion against God to the horizon of service under God. It literally means “streamlined or purposely narrowed down.” Paul is saying "God set me apart for the gospel. This is my one thing. I do one thing. I’m not a jack of all trades. The good news is my life, it’s the one thing I do."
This was the great theme of his life. And the great theme of this book.
After relating the Gospel to his life, Paul then relates the Gospel...
• To God’s plan (vv. 2-7)
In these verses, Paul moves from sharing his personal testimony to sharing several things about the gospel’s relationship to God’s plan of salvation:
1. It’s promised in the Bible (v. 2)
vs. 2 "The gospel was promised beforehand through the prophets in the Holy Scripture." He’s talking about the Old Testament.
In Hebrews 1:1-2 the author there says, "God, in times past, spoke to us by his prophets many different ways but now He’s spoken to us through His son, Jesus Christ." In Luke 24:27, after He had resurrected from the dead, Jesus is talking to a couple of men.