Background to Consider…
As far as we know, Paul had never once visited Rome before he wrote this letter. In short, Rome was new territory for him. Nevertheless, he wanted to write to the Roman church for various reasons, one of which was to use Rome as a launching point to go to Spain (see Rom 1:11 and 16:22-29). But before he could do this, he wanted them to know who he was—more specifically, that he knew the truth of the Gospel and had been set apart for its advancement. And for most of the letter itself (Rom 1-12), he expounds on that Gospel. But it’s his first few words that we will look at today.
Questions about Romans 1:1-6
1. In v. 2, Paul says the Gospel “was promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures.”
- What “Scriptures” was he talking about? The ones he wrote or something else?
- What “prophets” is he speaking of?
- Why was it important for Paul to convey that the Gospel of Jesus was grounded in the “holy Scriptures”?
- Is it important to understand that Jesus the Messiah’s arrival was pre-planned in the grand story of Israel’s Scripture—all through Israel’s prophets? Why or why not?
2. In v. 3, Paul says Jesus, “the Son,” was “descended from David according to the flesh.”
- Why would Paul feel the need to say this? What was the importance of appealing to the line of David?
3. In v. 4, Paul states that Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.”
- What was meant by saying He was “declared to be the Son of God” by His resurrection?
4. In v. 5, Paul talks of “bringing about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.”
- Why bring the Gospel to “all the nations” if it was primarily a Jewish prophecy?
Funny, but very important, question of the day:
In light of the questions above, would it have mattered if Jesus had been born Chinese (or American, for that matter)? Depending on the answer, how does this impact the way we should read the New Testament?