(Sermon titles from The Message by Eugene Petersen)
Who wrote it?
The apostle Paul (1:1)
When was it written?
Probably in the early spring of A.D. 57. Paul was on is Third Missionary Journey, ready to return to Jerusalem with the offering from the mission churches for the poverty stricken believers in Jerusalem (15:25-27).
Where was it written?
Most likely in Corinth, or Cenchrea, Corinth’s port, located about 10 kilometres from Corinth.
To whom was it written?
To the Christians in Rome (1:7) and believers everywhere.
Why was it written?
Paul’s purposes for writing the letter were varied:
He wrote to prepare the way for his coming visit to Rome and his proposed mission to Spain (1:10-15; 15:22-29).
He wrote to present the basic plan of salvation to a church that had not received the teaching of an apostle before.
He sought to explain the relationship between Jew and Gentile in God’s overall plan of redemption in order to promote unity in a church in which Gentiles were the majority and Jews the significant minority.
“The purpose of Romans is the glory of God seen in a united missionary church humbled together under grace.”
How is Romans structured?
Rescued by God’s grace (1:16-4:25)
Changed by God’s grace (5:1-8:39)
God’s plan of grace (9:1-11:36)
A community shaped by God’s grace (12:1-15:13)
What’s so great about Romans?
Martin Luther called it
“Really the chief part of the New Testament, and . . . truly the purest gospel.”
John Calvin declared that
“If we have gained a true understanding of this Epistle, we have an open door to all the most profound treasures of Scripture.”
Samuel Coleridge said,
“I think that the Epistle to the Romans is the most profound work in existence.”
John Knox said that it is
“Unquestionably the most important theological work ever written.”
John Stott called Romans
“The fullest, plainest and grandest statement of the gospel in the New Testament.”
“As both Luther and Calvin describe so powerfully, this ‘gospel of God’ (Romans 1:1) was a declaration about God’s righteousness. It was the message that the perfection and holiness of God has been seen in the life and death of Jesus Christ; and that this perfection is offered to us, as a free gift, through the life and death of Jesus Christ. That is the ‘gospel’ message of Romans, and Paul shows us not only how God in the gospel makes sinners righteous, but also how this most precious gift of God is enjoyed in our lives—how it produces deep and massive changes in our behaviour and even in our character.”
“TAKE UP AND READ!”
The great church father Augustine was moved to pick up and read part of Paul’s letter to the Romans by the words of a child singing in a nearby house, “Take up and read! Take up and read!” And when he read Augustine became convinced of the truth of the gospel.
The words of that child apply to each one of us. God asks us to take up this marvellous part of his word to us and read.