This Sunday we’ll begin a new study in the book of Romans. I taught through this book 17 years ago, but I’m not sure I agree with that guy, so I’m re-imagining our approach to this magnum opus from Paul. The letter to the Roman church is considered one of the most important books of the New Testament. It certainly has the most robust and dense theological arguments of any of Paul’s writings.
It’s impossible to overstate the impact that this single letter has had on the history and ongoing formation of the Christian church. Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Barth and a host of other important thinkers of the Christian faith all point to this letter as having the greatest impact on their spiritual worldview. The writing of Romans is an amazing example of an intellectual mind from the ancient world.
There is little dispute that Apostle Paul was the author of the letter – written sometime between 55-57 AD. We’ll discuss the reasons he may have written this letter on Sunday, as well as looking at how the letter unfolds and the best way of approaching it for study. Traditionally, this book has been seen as a series of systematic theological arguments on a variety of subjects. I have been persuaded (HT: N.T. Wright, Katherine Grieb) that Romans has a narrative substructure which lays out the story of God’s righteousness, revealed for us in Jesus.
So…we’re going to be keeping story in view as we journey through this epic letter. The Story, that is.
We’ll be starting with an introduction, but then we’ll read Paul’s greeting: chapter 1:1-7. We’ll be using the NLT for presenting the text.
From what we understand, Paul hadn’t yet been to the church in Rome, so he is introducing himself. The letter begins like most ancient letters do – the author identifying himself and stating his position in life, then identifying his intended recipient. Paul elaborates on this formula quite a bit though. V2-6 expand the greeting into a summary of the gospel. Here’s what’s interesting: V2-6 are all modifiers of the original subject, Paul. Paul is still in the process of introducing and describing himself in V2-6.
What does that tell us about Paul and his connection to the gospel? On personal reflection, what stories do you feel have shaped your life so far? If you were to introduce yourself to people who didn’t know you, what stories would you tell that would best indicate who you are as a person?
Based on what Paul writes in his greeting, what sort of person do you understand him to be? As you consider what characterizes Paul, what aspects of him do you admire. What parts, if any, of his person put you off?
I cannot properly express how stoked I am to begin this study! What’s yer story, morning glory?