When in Rome…
This fall we will be taking an in-depth look at the first eight chapters of Paul’s wonderful letter to the Romans. The Letter to the Romans is one of the most foundational documents of Christianity. This letter was written approximately 20 years after the resurrection and ascension of Christ to a church that likely formed shortly after the Feast of Pentacost when the Holy Spirit came upon believers and 3000 were converted in a single day (Acts 2). This makes the church in Rome one of the oldest congregations of believers. Rome itself, being the capital of the then mighty Roman empire, was home to the emperor (and subsequent emperor worship) and a wide array of paganism and idolatry. This is the context in which the Roman church found itself. In 49 AD, emperor Claudius sent an edict out expelling both Christian Jews and non-Christian Jews from Rome as the result of what the ancient Roman historian Suetonius describes as “disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus.” Due to the more than common confusion of “i” and “e” in the Latin to Greek translations, most scholars conclude that this was an incident of Jewish Christians and Jews arguing over Chistus, or Jesus as being the Christ. Also, in 64 AD, the emperor Nero blamed Christians for a city-wide fire and thus began the first persecution of Christians from a secular state in which many were burned and crucified. It is said that Nero had Christians burned at the stake in his private garden at night in order to provide light. It is during this time that the apostles Peter and Paul were put to death. Christians in Rome were subject to repeated, yet infrequent, attacks and persecutions by the organized state until the pronouncement of Christianity as a recognized religion by the state under the emperor Constatine in the 4th century AD. For more info on early church history, click here.
Why Should We Study Romans?
I’m glad you asked! A study of Romans is essential for every believer as Romans contains the foundational doctrines for belief. Surely one can be a Christian without ever reading Romans, but one such person would be the most uninformed Christian in regards to their faith. The point is that a believer can not escape reading and knowing Romans as a key aspect to their belief. The doctrine of total depravity, original sin, justification, sanctification, and more pour forth from the mouth of Paul in his letter to the Romans. For one to know exactly what Christ did for us and what that means for our lives, one ultimately will find the answer somewhere within the pages of Romans. A study of Romans informs the reader of the depth of humanity’s inability to save themselves and the necessity of a perfect and sinless savior to impart righteousness through faith. Here are a handful of other reasons why a study of Romans is vital for every believer.
- Knowing Romans provides the believer with tools necessary for evangelism and spiritual conversation.
- Knowing Romans takes the perceived power of salvation out of the believers hands and places it solely where it belongs; at the grace and mercy of God.
- Knowing Romans better prepares the believer for a life-long journey of sanctification through the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Knowing Romans answers numerous questions in regards to the human condition, sin struggles, and the proper response of a believer upon receiving faith in Christ.
- Knowing Romans opens the door for deeper study into God’s Word through exploring Old Testament connections, a re-invitation to the Gospels, and further study into the writings of Paul and the other apostle
There are numerous other reasons why one should embark on a study of Romans. The main point is that a dedicated and intentional study of the Letter to the Romans is essential to the spiritual life of every believer and provides a context for much of why we believe what we believe.
Why only Romans 1 -8?
The reason I chose to limit this fall’s study to the first eight chapters has to do with one key factor: time. We could do a brief overview of the entire epistle within the span of the entire semester, but my fear in doing that is that we would casually breeze over some very important material for the sake of moving forward. For fear of missing out on some foundational aspects, I decided to restrict the study to the first eight chapters in order that we may gain a deeper perspective on the doctrines of total depravity, original sin, justification and sanctification. Surely I can not deny the equal importance of chapters 9-16, but for the sake of our goal for this year, chapter 1-8 makes more sense. What is that goal you may ask? 1 Corinthians 2.2 states the goal for 2009; “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” Through our study of Mark, we witnessed the basic story of who Jesus is and what He did. Into the summer, we looked at the depth of God’s love and how faith in Christ is exhibited towards others in the first epistle from the beloved disciple John. Finally, for the fall, we will chew on the meat of the Gospel and see exactly how far off we are and how precious a gift Christ is for those who believe. I truly believe that the first eight chapters of Romans are the best eight chapters ever written within all of history. I hope you are as excited as I am about this study in Romans. I will be contacting each family within the next two weeks to schedule a time to come by and sit down with you and explain the family study guide which will compliment the student version. Take care and have a great week in the Lord!
Peace in Him,