Welcome to Romans! We begin today our year-long devotional study of one of the most powerful, impactful, and historically significant books in the entire Bible. Romans is the first of Paul’s epistles in priority, placed ahead of all his other letters even though it was not the first one that he wrote. In Romans we find the apostle’s sharp mind, guided by the influence of the Holy Spirit, laying out deep spiritual truths about sin, the gospel, faith, salvation, grace – all the key doctrines of the Christian faith. In the final chapters of this monumental book, we will see how good theology should then influence us to practical holy living in the grace and power of God through our faith in Christ. Many great pastors, theologians, evangelists, and missionaries first found salvation through their studies of Romans, while those who were already Christians came to stronger, more profound understandings of what they believed about the gospel and why they believe it because of what God showed them in Romans. My prayer is that you will join us in studying through this book this year, not just to gain knowledge, but to experience a transformation of your worldview, mind, character, and life. As Paul will challenge us in Romans 12:2, let us not be “conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of [our] minds, that we might prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Paul begins this letter by stating that he is the author of this letter to the church in Rome, and that he has been called by God to bring something known as the “obedience to the faith” to the nations of the world (Romans 1:5). God chose Paul, he writes, to be his slave (“bondservant”) and an apostle, or one specifically charged to found the church of Jesus Christ through the preaching of the gospel (Romans 1:1). This gospel that Paul preaches is not something totally new, but the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah (Romans 1:2). Jesus is our Lord, the Son of God but also a man born from the lineage of King David, just as had been promised (Romans 1:3). By His resurrection from the dead, Jesus proved that He was indeed every bit the Son of God and the Son of Man (Romans 1:4). This Jesus whom we also worship and serve gave the apostles like Paul the mission of carrying salvation in Jesus’ name to all who would receive it, men and women out of every nation of the earth (Romans 1:5). The task was to bring people to real salvation. Not just head knowledge and lip service, but genuine saving faith that would lead them to obey and serve the Lord Jesus Christ, too. All those who received Christ became his “called” people (Romans 1:6), people who were now “beloved of God” and made holy or into “saints” because of the shed blood of Jesus that wiped away their sins (Romans 1:7a). These people of God, of whom you are also one if you have trusted in Christ as your Lord and Savior, now get to enjoy His grace and peace and favor (Romans 1:7b).
Sounds pretty awesome, right? This is just the introduction, just a preview of the amazing, life-transforming gospel truths that lie ahead of us. Will you join us in diving into the deep waters of the Epistle to the Romans this year? What have you got to lose?
The Text (Romans 1:1-7)
1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. 5 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;
7 To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Questions to Think About
- Have you ever studied Romans before? What memory verses have you already learned from this famous book of the Bible?
- What books, stories, or passages of the Bible have most influenced you to follow Christ?
- How has your faith in Jesus led you to obey and serve Him? Give some examples.
- If you are a Christian, how does knowing that you were “called” by God to become His “beloved” child and receive His “grace” and “peace” make you feel? If you keep these truths about your new identity in Christ at the front of your mind this week, how might they affect your mindset, attitudes, and emotions?