A. Introductory Questions Author Paul is the author as is stated in Romans 1:1 (Powell p 271, HCSB p 2114). DateRomans is considered the last Pauline epistle written and is dated 57-58 CE (Powell, p274/HCSB p2114). Audience“To All God’s beloved in Rome” (Romans 1:7) meaning all the gatherings of followers of Jesus in Rome. Paul wrote this letter to the Christians in Rome to tell them he intended to stop in Rome on his way to Spain (HCSB p 2114) Genre This epistle is just that a letter with the normal style of a letter from antiquity (HCSB p 2115, Powell p 272-273)).
B. Outline Diagram and Summaries
“Homosexuality” Paul says that people are giving up the passions God gave them for same sex passions (1:26). This is more about pederasty (HSBC p 2117) than modern day homosexuality. Justification by Faith People can not be justified by the law, but we can and are justified by faith in Jesus Christ (3:21-22). “For all have sinned and fall short and are justified as a gift” (3:23). All have access to God through faith (the faithfulness of) in Jesus. Abraham Abraham was declared righteous because of his trust in God (4:3). He was then circumcised as an outward sign of the righteousness declared (4:11). Circumcision was a sign not the covenant. Baptism If we have died to sin, we cannot continue to live in it (6:1-2). All you have been baptized into Christ have been buried with him and raised with him to new life (6:3-4). So, we are dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus (6: 11). The Groaning of Creation We know suffering here, but it is nothing compared to the glory we will experience (8:18). We are all groaning in labor to give birth to the fulfillment of the kingdom of God (8:19-24). We wait in hope for what has been promised (8:25). The Olive Tree God has not rejected His people (11:1) but they have stumbled, and this has left space for Gentiles to be included (11:11). And Gentiles are wild olive branches that God has grafted into the tree that is his people (11:17) not because they are better than old branches but because God includes all who continue in kindness (11:22-24). Obey Earthly Authorities God has ordained and put in to place the authorities that rule over us, so we need to follow them and not resist because resisting their leadership is resisting God (13:1-2). We need to pay our taxes because that shows respect (13:7). The Weak and Strong We need to welcome those who are new to the faith so they can learn, and we also must watch out for those who are weak. Christ dies for all of us (14:9) and we need to accept everyone just as Christ does (14:10-12). We need to be about what is right for the body of Christ and not about what is right because of practice (14:13-23). Travel Plans and the Collection Paul wanted to come to Rome many times but had to complete the mission to the Gentiles (15:22) and now he will visit and hopes to go on to Spain (15:23-24). But first he has to take the money raised for the poor to Jerusalem and asks for prayers over that visit and travel mercies (15:25-33).
C. Interpretive Issues One of the big issues for today is Romans 1:26-27, one of the LGBTQIA+ clobber texts. This text is used to say that homosexuality is a sin, but this is not about homosexuality as we know it. This term didn’t mean homosexuality between two loving consenting adults but was “associated with promiscuous and exploitative activity,” (Powell, p276). This possibly pertained to “pederasty” (HCSB p 2117). Another text that is interesting is the closing where Paul 10 women are named as leaders in the church (Powell, p277). Powell says that three of these women are “especially noteworthy.” (Powell, p277). Phoebe is mentioned in Romans 16:1 and is commended to the Romans by Paul. She was the one to deliver the letter to Rome and is a deacon in her home church and a supporter of many in the mission of Christ (Powell, p277/Romans 16:1-2). Prisca is listed with her husband and said to have risked their lives for Paul (Romans 16:3-4). And finally, Junia who is a prominent apostle (Romans 16:7). An s was added to her name to make her male because there couldn’t be a woman apostle, (Powell, p 277) but Paul says these women are leaders.
D. Ministerial Application The ministerial applications of this text are abounding in a campus ministry setting where we attest to being open and accepting of all regardless of who they are or where they are on their journey. The fact that Paul says all have sinned and fall short (Romans 3:23), but all are a part of the kindom because of Jesus’ faithfulness. And that God is able to attach a “wild olive shoot” (Romans 11:17) to the tree that is the kindom of God. All of us are welcome and Paul clearly states that over and over in the epistle to the Romans. Ethnicity doesn’t matter as all are a part of what God is doing here.