What is the “good news” of Jesus Christ? Why do people need to hear it? How can they experience it? What will it mean for their future? And what does the good news have to do with everyday life? These large and basic questions form Paul’s agenda in Romans—an agenda dictated by a combination of audiences, circumstances and purposes.
The salvation issue, with all its various facets, was at the center of the early Christian movement as it sought to defend itself over against both Judaism and paganism. Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians in Rome had very different opinions on these matters. So Paul uses his rhetorical skill to tackle such fundamental theological issues with such a deft touch that it the letter to the Romans it has left an enduring and vital contribution to Christians’ understanding of who they are and what they believe.
As Luther therefore said:
[Romans] is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. It can never be read or pondered too much, and the more it is dealt with the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes.
To do justice to the scale of Romans we will be spreading it out over the next few years.
Romans 1:1 - Jeremy Duncan
Paul introduces himself as both a slave and an apostle. It is a profound awareness of both humility and divine purpose all at the same time.
Romans 1:2-6 - Jeremy Duncan
Even as Paul is about to launch into his letter to the Romans, one of the great theological treatise of the Christian tradition, he begins by very simply laying out how he understands “gospel”. And at its core, gospel for Paul is not an intellectual enterprise, it is, very simply, the story of Jesus.
Romans 1:7-15 -Jeremy Duncan
There is a radical reinvention of humanity that Paul imagines in Jesus. When someone else’s win can become your celebration; when serving another — becomes a blessing for you; when we learn to see others as brothers and sisters and mothers and friends; and finally recognizing that we won’t find peace by beating, or defeating, or measuring yourself against anyone else.
Romans 1:16-32 - Jeremy Duncan
God’s righteousness and wrath are two sides of the same coin; righteousness is the active posture that we see in God’s faithful pursuit of us, wrath is the passive posture where God finally, allows us to walk away - but this is not some angry, vindictive, vengeful God - it is wrath because God is angry when he sees sin damage and hurt and disconnect us from the source of life…
Romans 2:1-4 - Jeremy Duncan
The fixation we have to scapegoat, to shift the focus and point at others; this desire we have to say: “we are better than them” - what this does is short circuit the redemptive work God wants to do inside of us. That instinct to shift the focus is part a self preservation mechanism that comes from your old self that does not want to be changed.
Romans 2:5-29 - Jeremy Duncan
In regards to faithfulness - Paul says that the question is not whether you are good enough - the question is: when you jump, who are picturing there to catch you?