Romans Background

Show Notes for Background & Romans 1:1-7

Study Notes

A.    Background
1.1    Romans 1:1-7


A.  Background


I. Author:
Paul (Saul of Tarsus): Pharisee, apostle, pioneer missionary of the church.

I.I  Triple Citizenship

i.  Jewish (Jerusalem)
ii.  Roman
iii.  Heaven


II. Paul’s Ministry Journey:

i.  Damascus (3 years)
ii.  Jerusalem (sponsored by Barnabas)
iii.  Tarsus (particularly Antioch – 8 years)
iv.  First Missionary Journey (Cyprus, Pamphylai and Galatia)
v. Two other Missionary Trips (Ephesus, Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth)
vi.  Jerusalem
vii. Toward Rome (wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon)
viii.  Released?
ix.  Fourth Missionary Journey (wrote 1Timothy & Titus)
x.  Rome (2 Timothy, martyred)


III. Setting
Written in Corinth in AD 57

i.  Corinth: a difficult church plant
ii.  Developed leaders for the Roman church: Priscilla and Aquila
iii.  Wrote the letter while on relief work for Jerusalem


IV. Audience
Christians in Rome.

IV.I  The City of Rome

i.  The capital city
ii.  The largest city in the world
iii.  Large Jewish population: deportation from Judea
iv.  Many gods and emperor worship
v.  Christians & Jews were viewed as atheists
vi.  Became a symbol of paganism

IV.II  The Church at Rome

i.  Unknown founder
ii.  Both Jew & Gentile
iii.  No central location
iv. Multicultural
V.  United & well known for their faith


V. Occasion and Purpose for Writing

i.  To prepare for his coming
ii.  Personal credibility and theological clarity
iii.  Concise biblical content for Christians with no Bibles
vi.  Defence against errors


VI. Message
Sin, salvation, spiritual growth, sovereignty, and service.

i.  Sin (1:18-3:20)
ii.  Salvation (3:21-5:21)
iii.  Spiritual growth (6:1-8:18)
iv  Sovereignty (8:18-11:36)
v.  Service (12:1-15:13)


VII. Vital Statistics

Purpose: To introduce Paul to the Roman church and to give a sample of his message before he arrived in Rome

Author: Paul

Audience: The Christians in Rome and believers everywhere

Date: About AD 57, from Corinth, as Paul was preparing for his visit to Jerusalem

Setting: Apparently Paul had finished his work in the east, and he planned to visit Rome on his way to Spain after first bringing a collection to Jerusalem for the poor Christians there.  The Roman church had a majority of Gentiles with a strong Jewish minority.

Key Verse: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:1 NIV).

Key People: Paul, Pheobe

Key Place: Rome

Features: Paul wrote Romans as an organized and carefully presented statement of his faith – The concise Christian message for those without a Bible.  Paul’s flow of thought: Sin, Salvation, Spiritual Growth, Sovereignty, Service.


IX. Outline

A.  What to Believe (1:1-11:36)

1.  Sinfulness of humanity
2.  Forgiveness of sin through Christ
3.  Freedom from sin’s grasp
4.  Israel’s past, present, and future

B.  How to Behave

1.  Personal responsibility
2.  Personal notes


X. Credits:

1. Romans: Life Application Bible Commentary.  Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1998. ISBN 0-8423-2890-4

2. Life Application New Testament Commentary.  Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1998.  ISBN 0-8423-7066-8

3. New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition.  Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.  ISBN 0-8308-1442-6

4. Warren W. Wiersbe, Nelson’s Quick Reference: Chapter-by-Chapter Bible Commentary.  Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991.  ISBN 0-7852-8235-1

5. New Concise Bible Dictionary.  Inter-Varsity Press, 1989.  ISBN 0-8308-1444-2

6. Romans: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries.  Inter-Varsity Press, 2000.  ISBN 0-8028-0062-9

7. Romans, The Christian Story: Fisherman Bible Study Guides.  WaterBrook Press, 2001. ISBN 0-87788-734-9

8. Romans: LifeChange Series.  Navpress, 1987. ISBN 08910-90738


1.1 Paul’s Greetings (1:1-7)


1:1  Paul, the Man
1:1, “Paul… servant… apostle… set apart.” NRSV

I.  Some facts about Paul

i.  Relatively little is known about him
ii.  As Saul: raised as a strict Pharisee
iii.  Born in Tarsis, tribe of Benjamin, taught by Gamaliel
iv.  Paul is probably his surname, perhaps introduced as Saul Paul

II.  His Credentials

i.  Called to be an apostle
ii.  Set apart for the gospel

Definition: “Apostle”
Literally, “one who is sent” – a messenger, proxy, ambassador.  In Jewish law, this was the shaliach, “a person acting with full authority for another” in a business or legal transaction.

The early church recognized certain men who had seen the risen Jesus as apostles – the leaders with highest authority regarding doctrine and policy.  Twelve of Jesus’ original disciples and Paul had this honour.  Barnabas, James the brother of Jesus and perhaps Andronicus and Junias are also called apostles, but possibly in a wider sense of “messenger.”

Definition: “Gospel”
The Old English word “godspel” means “good news.”  It translates the Greek word “evangelion” (good message), which also gives us words like “evangelist” and “angel.”

III.  Paul, the servant

Definition: “Servant”
In the Old Testament, a servant of God was high official in the Lord’s royal administration, such as Moses, Samuel, and David.  To the Gentile mind, a servant was either a freeman who chose to work for his master or a slave who utterly belonged to his master and was not free to leave.  All these ideas are probably included in Paul’s intent.

IV.  Paul, the apostle


1:2  The Historically Harmonious Gospel
1:2, “The gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures.” NIV

I.  Paul’s scribe & difficult sentences

II.  One continuous message through history

III.  Christ fulfills the historical message


1:3  Introducing Jesus
1:3, “Regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, “NIV

I.  A brief introduction of his subject
“Concerning his Son.” NRSV

II.  Jesus fulfills the promise to David of an eternal throne
“As to his human nature, was a descendant of David” NIV

III.  Jesus is the God-man


1:4  Jesus, God’s Son
1:4, “and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” NIV

I.  The Spirit declares that Jesus is the Son of God
“According to the spirit of holiness.” NRSV

II.  The resurrection confirmed Jesus as God’s Son
“Declared the Son of God.” NASB

III.  As God’s Son, Jesus is our Lord
“Jesus Christ our Lord.” NIV


1:5  Paul’s Agenda
1:5, “Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.” NIV

I.  To spread the gospel, specifically to the Gentiles
“We have received grace and apostleship” NRSV

Definition: “Grace”
God’s unmerited favour and gifts to humanity.  Later in Romans, Paul will write at length about how we are justified by the gracious gift of God’s Son.  Here, however, Paul is talking about God’s daily gift of ability to live the Christian life and fulfill our missions.

Grace (Greek: charis) resembles the typical Greek greeting, “charein,” which means “favour to me and you.”

II.  To develop Christians who obey God
“To the obedience that comes from faith” NIV

Definition: “Obedience that comes from faith”
Literally, “the obedience of faith.”  Some interpreters think Paul means the practical obedience that comes from believing in Jesus.  Others think he means that faith itself, rather than law keeping, is the true obedience God desires.


1:6-7  Paul Intended to Reach Rome
1:6-7, “And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” NIV

Definition: “Saints”
“Saint,” “sanctify,” and “holiness” all refer to the same Greek word-group that means “set apart,” as in 1:1.  Thus, a saint is a “holy one” or “set apart one.”  A saint is already set apart for God and in the process of being made holy by the Holy Spirit.

Definition: “Peace”
The usual Jewish greeting in letters.  It referred to the wholeness and well-being in all relationships (social harmony, physical healthy, nearness to God) that would be true in the Messianic Age because of God’s presence among His people.  Paul will say more about both grace and peace later in his letter.




Paul was selected by Jesus to spread the gospel to the Gentiles.  The heart of the Gentile world was Rome, which made it a strategic place for Paul to visit and minister.  In introductory fashion Paul uses these first verses to give us a brief description of what he will communicate through the rest of his letter.  He states that Jesus, the God-man, is central to the gospel and that the gospel is in harmony with the Old Testament because Christ is the fulfillment of God’s plan which He established from the beginning.  Paul’s letter to the Romans will function as a formal introduction of Paul, of Paul’s gospel message, and it will give a Christian community a concise document which will function as fundamental Christian teaching in the absence of a Bible.