Romans (5)

Read – Romans 1.1-18

Why does Paul begin with such a bold (?), strange (?) statement:  ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel?’   Does he assert this because he does not know most of the Christians in Rome and he’s unsure what they’ve heard about his preaching?  Is he upset about the discord in the house churches in Rome and how it might compromise their witness?  Is he making a bold assertion that this gospel is world-transforming, a challenge even to the Empire?

Here are some questions to ponder as you read this text:

1      Why does Paul describe himself as a ‘slave’ of Jesus Christ (v.1)?  Is this kind of language offensive to you?  What word would you use to describe your relationship with Christ?  With God, and the Holy Spirit?

2      Note the use of ‘power’ language which brackets the letter [1.4; 1.16; 15.13,19].

3      To whom is Paul ‘obligated’ to preach (v.14-15)?

4      Reread Paul’s thesis statement in 1.16-18.  Can you describe in your own words the gospel Paul will preach to the house churches in Rome?

5      The word ‘all’ is emphatic, repeated in vs.7 & 8.  All are loved by God and called saints.  Narrow definitions of who is in or out are rejected from the beginning of the letter.  I invite you to listen to the following two songs: folk expressions of ‘who is in or out.’   Curtis Mayfield’s ‘People get ready’ became a kind of theme song for the Civil Rights movement during the 1960s.

Some years later Bruce Springsteen wrote ‘Land of hope and dreams, in part a tribute to Mayfield.  

What differences do you note in the lyrics? 

PRAYER:  God of hope and glory, thank you for your world-transforming message that touches each of us and the entire cosmos.  Give us some of Your greatness of vision, we pray.  AMEN