I am going to start a commentary on the book of Romans that will go along with the study I am doing on Sunday mornings. I will also be posting the outlines that I am using under the Bible study tab at the top of the web page. Please feel free to use any of this however you might find beneficial in your studies. I would like feedback, good or bad, so I can improve what I am writing. God Bless and enjoy!!
Let’s start out with a little introduction to Romans and the author, the Apostle Paul.
Paul is pretty much the undisputed author of the book of Romans and also wrote a total of 13 of the 21 epistles (letters) found in the New Testament. He was a Roman citizen and a Jew, his Roman citizenship was very helpful later in his ministry in actually getting him to Rome and keeping him alive to continue God’s plan for his life (Acts 22:25-29) , and it also gave him time to write down a few things for us. Saul was born in Tarsus of Cilicia, a very influential city in this time, learned a trade (tent maker) (Acts 18:3) and was taught under a very prominent Jewish teacher named Gamaliel (Acts 22:3) who was also the leader of the Sanhedrin or Jewish Council. He was a very good student excelled in his studies, in fact was found blameless by the law (Phil 3:6), and became very zealous in his persecution of the early Christians (Acts 22:4, 26:10-11, Gal 1:13). We see him first as the one who held the robes of the ones who stoned Stephen (Acts 7:58) and he quickly became one who terrified the christian community. Then of course he met Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-16) in a very amazing and eye opening or shutting way. (Read the story and you’ll understand).
At first Paul was not easily received by the disciples because of his reputation, but soon became a great force in the expansion of the church in the gentile world. Acts 9:15 is where he gets his commission to be an apostle to the Gentiles and this is also reaffirmed in Gal1:16 and Romans 11:13. He spent his early years of ministry in Syria, Arabia and Judea (Acts 9:19-29, Gal 1:17-21) then ended up back in Tarsus for about nine years (Acts 9:30). Then he meets up with Barnabas and heads down to Antioch in Syria (Acts 11:25-30, 12:25) and this becomes kind of his home base for three of his missionary journeys. (Acts 13:1-14:28, 15:36-18:22, 18:23-21:17) While in Jerusalem at the end of his third mission he is imprisoned and taken to Cessarea for two years. (Acts 23:31, 26:30-32) This is where his Roman citizenship helps him, one to stay alive, but also to allow him to go to Rome. The Jews in Jerusalem want him dead, the Romans really have no reason to kill him, and he uses his right to come before Caesar as a Roman citizen to be sent to Rome. (Acts 25 and 26) So he is put on a ship for Rome, a terrible voyage, and is imprisoned there for about two years under house arrest. (Acts 27:1-28:31) Tradition says that he was freed for awhile and allowed to resume limited travels for a time and then in 64 A.D. Nero began his persecution of the Christians in Rome and Paul was imprisoned once again. It is believed he was beheaded in Rome sometime around 67 A.D.
Okay, so that’s a real basic outline of Paul and his ministry, we will get to know him better as we study through Romans and in the future Acts. Just a little about Rome, it was of course the center of the Roman Empire, and at this time had a population of about 1 million people. A majority of the population was slaves, in fact, in the census of A.D. 47 the Roman empire had roughly 80 million people and only 6 million of those were citizens. When I first read these numbers I was shocked, that’s a lot of people, thank God we live in a time of electricity and indoor plumbing. Rome was also a religious center with over 420 temples to just about any god you could think of. In the middle of that was Christ’s Church, interestingly a lot of people assume that the church in Rome was established by Peter often considered the first “Pope”, but in reality it was probably started by travelers from Rome that were present in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10) and some of those scattered after the stoning of Stephen. (Acts 8:1-4) The church in Rome was made up of both Jew and Gentile believers.
Well next post we will dive into Romans 1, this will be fun and I hope something useful. Please let me know what you think, and if you have questions I will be glad to do my best to answer them.
God Bless and GOD is GOOD!!!