Thursday, July 25, 2013

Through the Bible: Week 44 - Romans, part 3

Why Paul Wants to Visit Rome: “Eager to Preach the Gospel”
Romans 1: 8-17

Since it is not Paul’s practice to go where a church has already been founded (15:20), he explains his break from protocol.  He states 4 reasons for coming to Rome.  He comes in order to:

(1)    Impart a spiritual gift, to strengthen them (11).
(2)    For mutual encouragement, that each other’s faith will grow by interaction (12).
(3)    That he may harvest more people into the kingdom, thus fulfilling his apostolic      vocation (13).
(4)    Discharge his obligation to preach the gospel (14-15).

This last reason is elaborated in verses 16-17.  But note Paul’s change of perspective.  A Pharisee who was trained to keep strict boundaries of faith now finds himself outwardly oriented to others.  Paul’s own encounter with the risen Christ has transformed his outlook on life, in general, and other people in particular.  He is under obligation to both Greeks and barbarians, and he is eager to do so. 

Paul now, as a way of explanation, summarizes the nature of his gospel.  He is eager to preach it for the following reasons:

(1)    For he is not ashamed of it – even though he is a Jew living in occupied pagan territory, the gospel gives him a sense of triumph (cf. Psalm 71).
(2)    For it is God’s power of salvation.  The good news of Jesus death and resurrection is God’s dynamo to reorder the world.  Paul’s understanding of salvation is addressed more fully in chapters 5-8.  Note this ends with the redemption of creation. This message effects profound change.
(3)    For every one who believes – thus this is a universal message, not limited by ethnicity.
(4)    For God’s righteousness is revealed – God’s way of putting the world right is made manifest in the gospel.

Paul states finally that the gospel comes from God to humans by faith – from faith for faith.  Faith is the delivery system in the gospel.  Our openness and trust in God positions us to receive God’s gospel.

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