Paul . . . called to be an Apostle and set apart for the Gospel of God.
St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans has long been recognized as a theological masterpiece, but that fact can make it seem awfully intimidating. So as we explore Romans over the next few weeks, let’s approach it as an actual letter written by a real person and not as a theological, religious treatise.
Paul wrote Romans while he was in Corinth, probably in AD 57 or 58. He was preparing to take a collection of donations from the Gentile Christians in Macedonia and Achaia to the church in Jerusalem, which was struggling financially. Then, he planned to sail for Rome, where he hoped to set up a base of operations to support a further missionary journey to Spain. Paul had not personally evangelized Rome, so he wrote this letter as an introduction in the hopes of winning the Roman Christians’ friendship and their support for his missionary work.
How did Paul introduce himself? By spelling out the gospel he proclaimed. He wrote about how God has made it possible for everyone to be reconciled to him through the gift of faith. He wrote about the life in the Spirit that Jesus has made available through his cross and resurrection. And he wrote about how everyone— Jew and Gentile alike—can come to know God and enter the kingdom of heaven. In a sense, Romans gives us a glimpse into Paul’s heart and mind. It reveals an apostle who was both a deep thinker and a passionate believer, and it points the way for us to follow his example.
As you read through Romans in the next few weeks, ask the Holy Spirit to help you embrace the love of God that is embedded in the letter’s main themes. This letter carries a message that has changed the lives of millions of people over the course of two thousand years. It’s a message that never loses its power to change us as we learn that nothing can “separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”!
word among us