THE EPISTLE OF ROMANS - Part 1 of 15 - The Introduction
Romans is the A-B-C’s of the true “Christian” walk, living in newness of life. As the first of nine letters written to the Church by the Apostle Paul, Romans is the beginning course in our full-curriculum as born again ones. It is essential for the believer to both learn the doctrine of Romans and to experiment with it until it becomes his/her lifestyle. Without this foundational information developed into our hearts, we cannot advance to the higher education of Ephesians.
In the second edition of The Church Epistles by E. W. Bullinger on page 23, he wrote regarding Romans, “…until we have mastered its lessons we can know nothing as to our true Christian position; and cannot go forward or learn anything else to our real advantage. All other truth which we may learn will be out of proportion and out of place if it is not subordinated to and dominated by the essential and fundamental truths written in the Epistle to the Romans.”
In Preface to The Letter of Paul to the Romans by Martin Luther, 1483-1546, translated by Andrew Thornton, the first paragraph contains the following: “This letter is truly the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. It is well worth a Christian's while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul. It is impossible to read or to meditate on this letter too much or too well. The more one deals with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes."… it is in itself a bright light, almost bright enough to illumine the entire Scripture.”
See Isaiah 55:8-9. God’s thoughts and ways are different from man’s thoughts and ways. His thoughts and ways are higher than man’s thoughts and ways. Those who are seeking truth are continually adapting their thinking to God’s perspective. “We have received... the spirit which is from God so that we might know (understand, perceive) the things freely given to us of God.” (1Corinthians. 2:12)
We are going to be looking at God’s perspective in the Epistle of Romans.
God is working in you so that you understand reality in Christ.
A faithful man abounds with blessings (Proverbs 28:20).
“Read that ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ” Paul said in Ephesians 3:4. And again in 2Timonthy 2:7, “Consider what I say and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.”
Men can plant and water the Word, but only God can give the increase. It is He who enlightens the eyes of our understanding (Ephesians 1:18). These spiritual truths that we are considering are closed to the unspiritual, those who aren’t yet thinking according to the spirit. As the Phillips Translation gives it in ICorinthians 2:13-14: “It is these things that we talk about, not using the expressions of the human intellect but those which the Holy Spirit teaches us, explaining spiritual things to those who are spiritual. But the unspiritual man simply cannot accept the matters which the Spirit deals with—they just don’t make sense to him, for, after all, you must be spiritual to see spiritual things.”
From the depth of our souls we cry out “Abba, Father” teach us! Except we are taught of the spirit we are left to our own intellect and ourselves. God help us to escape that state!
Understanding spiritual matters only comes by the spirit. As we learn to think according to the spirit we are given understanding. Praise God that spiritual understanding is not according to research ability. That would leave us boasting in ourselves and not in the Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we received the spirit of God. So consider and re-consider these “things that are freely given to us of God,” knowing that you are taught of God.
Paul’s Ministry as an apostle:
- “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called [to be] an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,” (Romans 1:1 ASV)
More of the New Testament was written by Paul than by any other writer. His nine letters to the churches are in every old manuscript, and in the exact same order in every one of them.
His writings are the only ones referenced in any writings of the other apostles (2Peter3:15).
The Book of Acts records the history of the First Century Church. It follows primarily Peter through chapter 12:19 and does not mention Peter again with the one exception of 15:7-11. Paul becomes the center character from chapter 12, verse 25 through the end of Acts. He is also central in Acts 9:1-31, and mentioned in 11:25-30. So, the majority of Acts is regarding Paul’s ministry.
- “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he (Saul/Paul) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel:” (Acts 9:15 ASV)
- “And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee (Saul/Paul) forth far hence unto the Gentiles.” (Acts 22:21 ASV)
- “16 But arise, and stand upon thy feet: for to this end have I appeared unto thee (Saul/Paul), to appoint thee a minister and a witness both of the things wherein thou hast seen me, and of the things wherein I will appear unto thee; 17 delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom I send thee,” (Acts 26:16-17 ASV)
- “But I speak to you that are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I glorify my ministry;” (Romans 11:13 ASV)
- “But I write the more boldly unto you in some measure, as putting you again in remembrance, because of the grace that was given me of God, 16 that I should be a minister of Christ Jesus unto the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be made acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:15-16 ASV)
- “but contrariwise, when they saw that I had been intrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision, even as Peter with [the gospel] of the circumcision 8 (for he that wrought for Peter unto the apostleship of the circumcision wrought for me also unto the Gentiles);” (Galatians 2:7-8 ASV)
- “whereunto I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I speak the truth, I lie not), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” (1Timothy 2:7 ASV)
- “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach unto the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;” (Ephesians 3:8 ASV)
- “whereof I was made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which was given me to you–ward, to fulfil the word of God,” (Colossians 1:25 ASV)
- “then he (Christ) appeared to James; then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to the [child] untimely born, he appeared to me also.” (1Corinthians 15:7-8 ASV
What was the message of the Apostle Paul? See Romans 1:1-4. It was the gospel of God concerning Jesus Christ, the Kingdom of God, the truth, the New Covenant, the grace of Christ, the faith, righteousness, the knowledge of God, the doctrine, etc. All of these different titles refer to the same message – the message of the Apostle Paul. Compare Mark 1:1, Acts 1:1-3 and Acts 28:30-31.
“All the truth” is proclaimed by the Apostle Paul:
- “12 I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.” (John 16:12-13 HCSB)
- “15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant (unlearned, ill-informed, ill-taught) and unstable (unsteady, unprincipled) twist (pervert, distort) [“from their proper meaning” WUEST] to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” (2Peter 3:15-16 ESV)
- “I have become its minister, according to God’s administration that was given to me for you, to make God’s message fully known,” (Colossians 1:25 HCSB)
Paul was chosen as the apostle to the Gentiles (the nations of the world). He personally delivered the gospel in spoken and written form. Today he is still carrying out the same ministry through his epistles. These epistles give us the full education for a born again one to walk in newness of life. The Book of Romans is the beginning of this education in that it teaches us the fundamental principles of the doctrine pertaining to the Body of Christ.
1. Keep reading and re-reading Romans, especially chapters 1-8.
2. Listen to an audio recording of Romans being read (perhaps the KJV audio teaching by Alexander Scorby).
3. Memorize Romans 1:1-6