Summary: We see Paul's concern for the saints in Rome whom he has not met, his compassion for the lost, and his conviction in the efficacy of the Gospel.
We had a good start to the book of Romans, with the message of the Gospel succinctly expressed.
• Having introduced himself, Paul gave us concise statements of the Gospel of God.
• 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 and resurrection brought us into a new relationship with God.
In these few lines, Paul laid out the thrust of his letter – the message of the Gospel.
• This letter of 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 man, both Jews and Gentiles.
• Paul wrote the letter while he was in Corinth during his 3rd missionary journey.
• He was on his way back to Jerusalem with the collections from the Gentiles churches.
• So the practical reason was to tell the Roman Christians that he was planning to visit them after this trip to Jerusalem.
More importantly, he writes to present a clear explanation of the Gospel, the message that he has been entrusted with and proclaiming all this while.
• This was probably called for because of the differences in understanding between the Jewish and Gentile believers, with regards to their salvation in Christ.
• Paul set forth the Gospel to unite them theologically and present Christianity fully.
• Romans turn out to be 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. He set the tone right.
• It is not about his message but the message of God; a message that is built on the foundation of God’s revelation in the Scriptures.
• It is not an afterthought but the plan of God all along and fulfilled in the Person and work of Jesus Christ – his death and resurrection.
• To bring lost humanity back to a living relationship with Him.
Michael led us through verses 1-7 last Sunday. It was but the first part of the introduction; we have barely started.
• Verse 1 starts with “Paul”, FROM Paul and then verse 7 “TO all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints” and the greetings.
• Only from verse 8 did Paul starts to address them. So we are still in the introduction section today, verses 8-17.
In this section, Paul builds a rapport with his readers, explaining how he got to hear about them. Three things we can learn from Paul from this passage today.
• we see Paul's concern for the Christians, his compassion for the lost, and his conviction in the Gospel.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.
11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you — 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles.
HIS CONCERN FOR THE SAINTS
Paul builds a rapport with his readers, which was necessary.
• He has not visited Rome. He has not met them; only heard about them.
• Yet we see his heart for them, for the saints of God, loved by God (cf. 1:7), even in places he has not visited or churches he has not founded.
How did the Gospel reach Rome? It was likely brought to Rome by Jewish Christians who had returned home from Jerusalem after the Pentecost (Acts 2)
• Luke mentions to us in Acts 2:10b-11 that there were “visitors from Rome, 11both Jews and proselytes (Gentile converts to Judaism)…” who were present in Jerusalem at the Pentecost.
• They saw the miracle, heard Peter’s sermon and was probably among the 3000 who were converted. They returned to Rome with the Gospel.
Although Paul had long wanted to visit them in Rome, up to this point in writing, he has not been able to do so. But he heard about their faith in Christ.
• Paul described their faith as being ‘proclaimed in all the world’ suggests that he has not just heard of their faith in Corinth but many other places as well.