Introduction to Romans – Week 1

Hey guys! I recently started writing a bible study on Paul’s letter to the Romans and decided to post my notes here for those who might have missed Week 1 in person, or those who would like to follow online. During this study we will be breaking out into small groups and discussing our own take on the letter, while letting the questions below guide us. I would love to hear your additions in the comments!

There is a lot of important material in Romans and to truly do it justice would take a lot longer than what we have to offer, so I’ve shortened it to a quick six week study to provide an overview and an introduction to arguably one of the most important letters in the bible.

A little bit about Romans… 1) Paul writing a letter to his friends in Rome 2) Different from other letters because Paul has never been to Rome 3) Not only tells the story of Jesus but also relates it back to Old Testament Revelations being fulfilled as well as the future – Genesis, Abraham, Jesus, and beyond) 4) Believed to be written in AD 57 while in Corinth 5) Addressed hostilities between Jewish and Gentile believers 6) Meant to be an introduction to his teachings and make way for his visit.

Over the next six weeks I will create a main point for each week, but the overall theme of this study is taken from Romans 3:23-25):

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God”  (Romans 3:23-25)

Essentially what? We are all sinners, both Jew and Gentile- and God, not through good works, but out of sheer grace, put us in right standing with Himself, restoring us to who He always intended us to be through the means of Jesus Christ.

Reading: (Romans 1: 1-17)

“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

Now that sounds a little formal, but I don’t want to take away from the fact that Paul was a human being just like us, and he sat down at the end of a long day and penned a letter to his friends, not so different from us sitting down and sending an e-mail.  

So in that context, what is Paul really saying here?   

Hey guys! It’s me Paul! I’m on a mission from God to proclaim the Good News! Let me tell you about Jesus! He died and rose from the dead which is totally proof that He’s the Messiah. And because of what Jesus did we have been given 2 things, an abundant life, and the task of passing on His story. I thank God for all of you! I pray for you all the time and ask Him if I can visit you. My heart aches to see you! I have tried so many times to come to Rome but something always comes up I am so excited about the news I’m about to share with you! If you put your trust in God, you’re really going to start loving life.

As you get in groups of 4 or 5, I’ve prepared a few questions to help start your conversations.  

Group Questions:

1) What does it mean “to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.”?
2) Paul talks about not being “ashamed of the gospel”. Can you say the same thing? How have your actions in personal evangelism communicated whether you are ashamed of the gospel or not?
3) In Chapter 1:2-3 Paul makes a reference to the Old Testament promise of the coming of Jesus. What are some Old Testament passages you can think of that promise or anticipate the coming of Christ?
4) Why would Paul, a Jew, believe he’s “under obligation” to the Gentiles and Barbarians?
5) How is the “righteousness of God” revealed in the Gospel?
6) What does it mean that Paul would impart a spiritual gift to the Romans? Are spiritual gifts imparted like this today?

A few final thoughts:

  1.  Paul loves to use a greeting of “Grace to you!” as an indication that what he’s about to say is going to be so powerful and spirit-led that you’ll have no choice but to see the Grace of God himself.  Interestingly enough he also loves to finish his letters with “Grace with you”.  Almost as in “I’m about to bring Grace to you” and now after you’ve heard the truth, that same grace is now “with you”.  
  1.  The Salvation through faith that Paul writes about isn’t a new thing, he’s referencing Habakkuk 2:4 “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.”  Even Abraham didn’t find salvation through physically doing what God was calling him to do, but his trusting faith that put him in right standing with God.  
  1.  Paul refers to Jesus’s resurrection as proof that He truly is the Messiah.  Jesus didn’t pass out, he wasn’t resuscitated, He literally died on a cross, and was dead for days before resurrecting.  And it could have been misleading to those who witnessed Him walking around afterwards because in many ways it seemed He was back to normal, eating, his visible wounds, basic bodily functions, but in so many ways his body was different- I mean John mentioned Jesus walking through locked doors and Paul refers to Jesus as having a “Glorified Body” in Corinthians.  This “proof” guarantees our own “heavenly resurrection” and has shaped our Christian faith today.  

**For next week please read Romans 1:18 – 4:25**

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