Romans is arguably the best known letter of the New Testament. I’ve heard it takes some pastors years, almost decades to preach through it. I’ve seen commentaries on the letter that are bigger than the Bible itself. Why? Because some people are just crazy. But also because it’s the go-to letter for big doctrines, for the “road to salvation,” for Calvinist vs. Arminian debates, etc. It’s a very meaty letter. Sixteen chapters, chalked full of big ideas.
More importantly though, it’s a real letter from a real guy to real people. Paul desperately wanted to meet the Roman believers and invest in those relationships. How do I know? He spends the first couple paragraphs of the letter talking about it. [Speaking of Jesus, he says]
“Through him we received both the generous gift of his life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Jesus.”
That is why he wants to see the Roman believers and those who have yet to believe. He’s been sharing the message of Jesus with Jews and with non-Jews in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and Asia, but he hasn’t yet been able to get to Rome. He’s been praying for it for years, but what’s wild, is eventually that prayer will be answered. But he won’t be going on his own terms, of his own volition. He’ll be going in shackles, as a convict. But more on that in another post.
It’s almost like Paul starts out saying, “I’m excited to come see. I can’t wait to share Jesus with you, hear your reports of people coming to faith, and experience your hospitality in the great city of Rome.” But then as he gets going, he’s like, “Well shoot, I’ll just start telling you everything I want to tell you. Can’t hurt!”
Here it goes…(next post)