I Greet You All

On Sunday we will be beginning a worship series on the letter to the Romans:  Not Ashamed of the Gospel.   Romans is big, it feels complicated, and it feels very distant from the 21st century.  But, we maintain it is a pastoral and lively word for us as well.

Scholar N.T. Wright begins his formidable commentary on Romans with these words:

Romans is neither a systematic theology nor a summary of Paul’s lifework, but it is by common consent his masterpiece.  It dwarfs most of his other writings, an Alpine peak towering over hills and villages.  Not all onlookers have viewed it in the same light or from the same angle, and their snapshots and paintings are sometimes remarkably unalike.  Not all climbers have taken the same route up its sheer sides, and there is frequent disagreement on the best approach.  What nobody doubts is that we are here dealing with a work…that offers a breathtaking theological and spiritual vision.   [New Interpreters Bible, Vol.10, p.395]

What do you know about the book of Romans?

Do you have a favorite verse from Romans?

What do you think Romans is about? *

Read Romans 16.1-16

What do you learn about Phoebe in 16.1-2?

Phoebe may have read Romans aloud to the churches; remember that most hearers were probably illiterate.  How long do you think it would take to read aloud?

For background to Romans 16, read Acts 18.  There you will learn about:

Paul’s trade.

Where he gets his hair cut.

His relationship with Prisca and Aquila.

A basic household consisted of:  a householder/owner, family members, free workers, dependents, and slaves.  Reading Romans 16, how many house churches do you think there were?

At least nine women are named in Paul’s greetings.  What characterizes their participation in the house churches of Rome?



Privilege:  A collection of benefits a culture gives a person or people group that helps them to succeed more easily.  Privilege isn’t earned; it is simply possessed as in those ‘born to privilege.’  Cultural power is usually given to the privileged.

Power:  Held by those at the top of a hierarchy and usually used against those lower in the hierarchy.

Peace:  For Christians, Peace is created ‘in Christ.’  It opposes the (Roman) power elites and their privilege.   Peace is unity in relationships between people who are very different.  That unity comes through the Spirit, not through human force.

Pax Romana:  Latin for Roman peace, a stable period in the Empire between 27 BCE and 180 CE.  During the Pax Romana, life was good for those with Privilege and Power, but not so good for those of lower status.  Paul’s theology of peace, in contrast, is good news for everyone.

Righteousness:  God’s covenant justice in putting the world to rights – what we might call cosmic restorative justice or reconciliation.  When the gospel of Jesus is announced we see God’s covenant faithfulness at work.  This is how God will put the world to rights (cosmic reconciliation) and how God will put you to rights (individual reconciliation) as well.

Claire and I invite you to read the letter of Romans during this series but we want to begin at the back of the book!  We’ll say more about that in our sermon but this week read Romans 15.14-16.27.

*Themes in Romans include: salvation, justification, creation, economic justice, politics and peace, welcoming diversity, baptism and membership, sexual ethics, and table fellowship.