Wishing I was in Rome
Romans 1:1 (ESV)
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
I love the book of Romans, Paul full of desire to go see the believers in Rome wrote this letter. I have been in this situation where I have longed to go have fellowship with brothers after an enforced absence. In some cases, it has been a few years and in some cases it has been a few weeks. Human nature will tell us that it would be good for our koinonia to see and have fellowship with those believers.
Paul recounts how he was saved in Acts 9, on the road to Damascus in Assyria, Paul (or Saul as he was known then) was full of threats and murderous actions towards the people of the way, sought letters from the temple in Jerusalem to go do likewise in Damascus. He had come with the intent of persecuting and killing believers. Jesus appears to him in a blinding light on the road near Damascus; he ended up blind but realized he had met with Jesus of Nazareth.
Saul then became Paul the apostle, followed instructions in the vision, waited for the believer called Ananias to come and bring him into the fellowship (You have to admire him for that as Saul had quiet the reputation for persecuting the Christians in that area) Paul rightly calls himself an “apostle” who was “set apart for the gospel of God”. Jesus himself interceded on Paul’s behalf and showed himself in a real way that day on the outskirts of the city of Damascus. Paul went straight to work in Damascus, not killing Christians but serving in the local fellowships.
That is how Paul addresses himself, as a servant first, following Jesus example that the “first shall be last”, the Greek word “doulos” speaks of in servitude, devotion to, unwavering commission for. Makes you think about how you shape up as you attempt to become a bondservant of Jesus Christ. Paul is also separated, separated from his old life as a Pharisee, separated unto a singular mission, to deliver God’s (not his) gospel.
Paul wrote this letter while he was serving in Corinth between 53-58 AD, based on dates listed in Acts 20:2-3, Romans 16:1, 16:3 and 1 Corinthians 1:14. Putting this date into the context of Paul’s life, he had been ministering in the Christian faith for about 20 years at this point. Based on information we have, Paul would be writing to Rome as he planned to go there after visiting Jerusalem after Corinth.
In verse two, Paul talks about how Christ was the literal fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament regarding the Messiah. In that day there would be many heresies and many false rumors and many folks intent on de-railing this faith in this messiah. Many people who believe they are working for God, much like Paul was, but they use falsehoods and intimidation. This wasn’t for example, a doctrine that was made up or man invented, he was wishing to let us know that this aligned with the scripture that they already had.
This is really important as God does not contradict himself and the bible will not point in two different directions, the truth that was truth 30 odd years after Christ’s death will still be truth in 2014. He makes it plain that he is referring to Jesus of Nazareth in verse 3, whose genealogy was given in both parents (both maternal and legal) came through the line of David.
He also set apart Christianity from other religions as it orbits around one person “Jesus Christ” Paul speaks of his humanity that he was a man, but he was also God, as man cannot raise himself from the dead. With Jesus being crucified in such a public fashion, there was no shortage of witnesses to testify (from various bias groups such as Pharisee’s, Sadducees and Romans) that the man who they all recognized as Jesus was in fact crucified on that hill called Calvary. In verse 4, Paul repeats how he addresses Jesus from his first encounter in Acts 9, he calls him LORD. He is showing himself to be the servant (v4)
Because of Jesus stepping in to be the “Second Adam” we are recipients of Gods “grace” we are not getting as sinners what we deserve, Christ’s atoning sacrifice has pardoned us in the court of the most high King. If that doesn’t get you excited nothing will! Paul recognized this and set about to do as he wrote “bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations” God states in John 3:16-17 the reason for Jesus mission on eat (v16) and the fathers heart in sending him (v17)
We have to be as he was, we have to be intentional, we have to have an urgency (see my blog from a few days ago) we have to give the gospel “good news” to the people who are perishing, dying and in need of eternal redemption. Like the believers in Rome, which was called “the eternal city” we have to be a vocal minority in sound doctrine, gentleness, love, compassion and be a good ambassador for our savior Jesus Christ, we have to be missionaries to this lost world, where God has placed us.
God bless and I pray that this reaches you in good heart, good health and this is a challenge to you all (myself included)