by Philip Layton
Paul writes to the Christians in Rome
- Christians in Rome were predominantly Gentile, possibly because the Jews had been expelled by the emperor (v 13).
- Paul makes a clear statement to the Gentile Christians about their place in the salvation story and reminds them that they are not greater than the Messianic Jews (v 16).
- What are the ‘unnatural’ and ‘shameful’ acts that Paul is writing about in verses 26 and 27? Is it possible that such acts are no longer wrong in God’s eyes? Did Paul write into a certain context that is no longer applicable to our society, or are these verses we seldom consider because of their consequences?
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Going Deeper From 'Words of Life'
In the preface to his commentary on Romans, Martin Luther said it was not only the most important document in the New Testament, but also the soul’s daily bread. This book changed Luther’s life. And it can transform us as we open ourselves to receive from the Lord.
This epistle of Paul is profound – written probably from Corinth to ‘all in Rome’ (v 7). Some were Jews, others Gentiles; some brand-new converts, others having been Christians longer than Paul himself. Some were even to be found in Caesar’s household. The audience was wide. Paul longed to visit them, but until that could happen he wanted his readership to know that their lives could, and would, be transformed if they lived by faith daily.
The overall theme for this book is found in verse 16. Like Paul, people were not to be ashamed of the gospel. In fact, it was to be quite the opposite. The gospel, the message of Christ, was to be their passion for life. Transformation within was possible for all – because of God’s salvation. It was to be their reason for living.
Are we ever ‘ashamed’ of the gospel? Hesitant to speak of Christ with certain family members, neighbours, co-workers, friends? Sometimes we think it’s being too aggressive, too ‘in-your-face’ to speak directly about Christianity. This is where Paul would step in and want to stir us up; to spur us on to never be ashamed of the gospel and who it represents! We’re to open our eyes, daily, to see the eternal possibilities for so many people who don’t know Christ personally – at least not yet!
It takes great faith and often great courage to reach out, daring to be an active ambassador for Christ. Yet we’re to live our transformational experience daily, as God’s righteous people:
‘The righteous will live by faith’ (v 17).