Bible Reading Day 213
Day 213: August 1 (Romans 1)
So far our readings in the New Testament have taken us through the four accounts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (the four gospels written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), and the account of the birth and growth of the early Church focused on the Acts of the Apostles (also written by Luke). Today we change vehicles on our journey, and begin reading documents originally written as letters (called Epistles). Some of these letters were written to individuals, and read as such, while most were written to a city church (or churches) from the apostle who cared for that church.
The New Testament as we have it compiled today begins this section with the most important epistle of all: Paul’s letter to the Romans. This was not written as a theology text, but it contains a lot of powerful theology. It was not written purely as a letter to address a specific issue, although it does address issues common to Christians everywhere.
The admired theologian N.T. Wright describes Romans this way: “…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 of it 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 of massive substance, presenting a formidable intellectual challenge while offering a breathtaking theological and spiritual vision.
So today we begin our climb!
Paul starts with a greeting and we see that this letter is written before he goes to Rome. It was probably written during the time (in Acts 20) that Paul was in Corinth. He is writing to people who know of him, but whom he has not yet met. He is careful to say that the gospel is for Jews AND Gentiles; insiders and outsiders.
Then Paul sets a foundation stone for all that follows (v16-17): “I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
We have to read Paul’s letter through that lens. He knows it in his own life, and wants everyone who reads this letter to experience for themselves, that God wants to save each of us from our sin, make us right with HIm, and the only qualification is faith – believing, trusting, accepting, receiving, living faith.
Paul will say some things, even in this first chapter, that push against the accepted norms of society (both in first century Rome, and today). We may be tempted to reject Paul’s words because they are hard to hear, but if we begin from this foundation, and check our progress from that starting point, we will climb this mountainous book and see the panoramic view of salvation it provides.
Have a great day!