Summary: Our study through the book of Romans 1 shows us a God who loves humans, but must reveal His wrath on anything that is not like Him. It is one of the best chapters in the Bible to clearly understand God’s righteous character, and our fallibility.
Why is there evil in the world? How can a loving God condemn anyone to hell? Does God condemn me when I do wrong? How can I be a Christian and yet still sin? How do law and faith work together? Where do I find help and hope? What happens to the Jews after they rejected Jesus? How am I supposed to act as a Christian? Is government evil? How do I recognize evil in our midst?
Such heavy questions – questions that we lie awake at night wondering about. They are deep questions, but essential questions. Answering them can make the difference between belief and unbelief, and can shape our eternity. They can also shape our day to day life. All of these questions are answered in Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome.
Thus we begin a study of what may be the most famous letter in the New Testament. It contains the plan for salvation – known as the Romans Road. And in it, the Apostle Paul clearly articulates why God is justified in pouring our His wrath on a sinful world.
1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God-
To understand Romans we need to understand a little about the apostle Paul. Interestingly, though he wrote much of the New Testament, we know very little about him. He was born Saul in the Roman city of Tarsus. Tarsus was located on the southern coastal side of modern day Turkey. Saul, who had Jewish parents, was a Roman citizen and was educated as a Pharisee in Jerusalem under Gamaliel. He hated the church and sought to destroy all of its members until Jesus Himself appeared to him on the road to Damascus and Paul turned his life over to Christ.
At that time Jesus told Paul that he would be used as a light to the gentiles. When Paul came to Christ he didn’t turn his brain off. In fact he used his considerable skills and education to prove the existence of God and the truth of the gospel. This is something we can do too.
Paul was from a diverse cultural background, possessed great knowledge, was highly educated, and had a deep desire to do God’s will, even if it brought him into danger. Paul was an apostle, even though he was not one of the original disciples. Paul traveled around the Mediterranean world spreading the gospel – but at the time of this writing, he had not visited Rome, even though he had friends there. At the end of his life he would visit, and die in Rome – but this letter is part introduction, part instruction, and part exhortation to a church in a city where the gospel had already spread. Look what Paul says about that gospel.
2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5
So, the gospel, or "good news" was promised, then performed by Jesus who is both God and man. He is descended from King David through His mother Mary – He is a man to this day – even though He is also fully God – the 2nd person of the trinity. How was He declared to be God – by the resurrection. This is what sets Jesus apart from any other religious leader – He died and came back to declare ultimate truth to us. So what does that mean to us?
Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. 6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
This is the purpose that Jesus called Paul to, and that He called us to saying "Go and make disciples." Paul also talks about the fact that this God/Man Jesus called you personally to in His family. Isn’t that wonderful?
7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
I like that – you can’t have peace until you have God’s grace. So after greeting them, Paul digs right in to the four main points of this chapter: The Strength of Faith, The Power of the Gospel, The Wrath & Righteousness of God, and the Consequences for Rejecting God’s Call.
The Strength of Faith
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.