Series: The Gift
Albright Church 2020
The letter of the Apostle Paul to the Romans is considered one of the most powerful letters ever written. It is Paul’s ‘magnum opus’ written between AD 55 and AD 58 on his third missionary trip, probably, from Corinth. Paul was shaped by three worlds: Greco-Roman, Jewish and Christian but his miraculous conversion had the greatest life transformation.
In turn, many throughout church history, have been impacted by this letter such as: Augustine, Martin Luther, John Bunyan and John Wesley. One night while reading Luther’s commentary on Romans 1:17, Wesley wrote, “My heart was strangely warmed. I felt I did trust Christ; Christ alone for my salvation.” The result was an assurance of faith that had long eluded him.
The recipients of this letter included both Jewish and Gentile Christians. The Church in Rome was most likely founded by Roman Jews who were converted in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. The fact that Paul, Peter or another apostle were not originally involved serves to show that we are all called to reach out and be used by God to see His kingdom built!
Somewhere between AD 30 -55, Christianity became established in Rome with believers meeting in homes and rented properties. There was a tense relationship between Jews and Jewish Christians and between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. This probably led to Jewish expulsion from Rome by Claudius in AD 49. Some, including Priscilla and Aquila were allowed to return after the Emperor’s death in AD 54.
The main theme of the letter is largely considered to be found in Romans 1:16-17: The good news of salvation through faith in the righteousness of Christ. Paul’s argument is that salvation is not found in keeping the works of the law but by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ alone. It is the greatest gift ever given.
Paul defends the Gospel of God’s grace by showing that it is rooted in the Old Testament. Many Jewish Christians thought Paul was giving away too much of the old traditions and many Gentile Christians thought he was still too Jewish. His appeal is for unity in Christ. In that sense, Romans is both a letter of the heart and a treatise of the faith. Paul’s longing is that all would come to recognize, receive and be remade by the gifts which God freely gives through faith in Christ.