Saturday 05 January 2019

Bible Book:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (v 16)

Romans 1: 1-17 Saturday 5 January 2019

Psalm: Psalm 98:4-9  


Paul would have been a terrible sub-editor.

All good journalists know that you have to start any story with a short, snappy intro designed to introduce the story in the space of one sentence and draw the reader in to want to read more.

This introduction is definitely not snappy – but there is a reason!

Paul has not yet visited Rome and is writing to the Church to introduce himself and to ‘set out his stall’ in terms of his beliefs and his message. It is thought that he wrote his letter to the Romans around AD 57, possibly from Corinth.

It was common in the classical world for letters to begin with rather formal introductions – the letter writer states who they are and who the letter is intended for. Paul expands this formula by including a summary of his beliefs before he says anything else. Maybe he is trying to reassure people who have never met him before that he’s legit and OK, and the letter is therefore worth reading. It’s not easy reading, but it does put his words into context.

Then, Paul gives thanks for the Romans and expresses his desire to come and visit them; to offer support and encouragement and to share spiritual gifts with them. He also wants to engage in evangelism and “reap some harvest”.

The sense in Paul’s writing is that he is coming to Rome as a ‘debtor’ – as a duty or obligation, but this duty is not done begrudgingly rather in a spirit of joy and eagerness.

The most striking comment is his assertion that he is “not ashamed” of the Gospel. In our contemporary context, we may read this as encouragement to speak out in a society which often sneers at or ignores Christianity, but Paul’s situation is different. The Roman world was dominated by Caesar, and to suggest that anyone else was in power would be incredibly risky. But Paul was determined not to keep his faith and the story of Jesus private.

To Ponder:

  • How can we cultivate a sense of eagerness in our calling to share the Gospel with others?
  • How would you introduce yourself effectively and succinctly in a letter to someone you had yet to meet?
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