Lesson 1

The Apostle Paul in Rome

(Romans 1 & 15, Acts 28)
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Introduction: Have you wanted to travel somewhere and life kept getting in the way? When you finally traveled there, it was a real joy, right? Or, maybe not. What if the trip involved seeing relatives you had never before met, or a relative that you had not seen in years? Would you consider carefully how you would approach them? Would you want to make the best impression? We start a new series of studies on Paul's letter to the Romans. This week we want to consider some of the issues that probably went through Paul's mind as he contemplated his letter and his visit. With that in mind, let's dive into our study of Romans and learn more!

  1. The Journey


    1. Read Romans 15:20-21. What is Paul's ideal target group for evangelization? (Those who know nothing about Jesus.)


      1. Is that also your personal goal?


      2. What is Paul's reason for targeting that group? (He does not want to build on a foundation created by someone else.)


        1. What do you think Paul means by that?


      3. If your goal is the same as Paul's, is your reason for targeting that group the same? (Paul's goal to bring the gospel to those who have not heard of Jesus is extremely important. While I'm not sure I fully understand Paul's reason, it appears that he prefers pioneer work. Since these lessons are generally directed to those who already know about Jesus, I think we are doing a little different work.)


    2. Read Romans 15:22. Why has Paul not been able to visit the Romans, even though he wants to visit? (His pioneer work came first. It delayed him from coming to Rome.)


    3. Read Romans 15:23-24. What are Paul's travel plans for Rome? (He is going to stop by as part of his trip to Spain.)


    4. Read Romans 15:25-26. What is Paul's first stop on his trip to Spain? (Jerusalem. He is bringing financial aid to the members there.)


    5. Read Acts 21:27-33. What happens to Paul when he is in Jerusalem? (A riot begins. The Jews see Paul and they know about his work - which they believe undermines Judaism.)


    6. After Paul's arrest, he goes through a series of legal hearings while spending a couple of years in jail. Let's pick this up at the end of the hearings in Jerusalem. Read Acts 25:10-12. Where do you think Caesar lived? (In Rome! Instead of Paul stopping by Rome as part of a planned trip, instead he is brought there as a prisoner because of his legal appeal.)


  2. The Destination


    1. Read Acts 28:16-20 and Acts 28:30-31. How does God work it out so that Paul can evangelize in Rome?


      1. What about the plan to make the best initial impression?


    2. Why is it that the leaders of the Christian church in Rome, those to whom Paul previously wrote, do not show up to greet Paul? (The Bible does not specifically say. Paul apparently did not found the church in Rome. It is not as if Paul is returning to the church he founded. As we study Paul's letter to the Romans, let's see if we can better answer this question.)


    3. Read Acts 28:21-22. What does this suggest about the impact of the church in Rome? (The Jews know negative information about the "sect" of Christians. Knowing something is better than knowing nothing.)


  3. Paul's Letter


    1. Read Romans 1:1 and Romans 1:7. Who is the audience for this letter? Is it the Jews who are in Rome, or the Christians who are in Rome? (Considering what we have studied so far, the way Paul introduces himself, and his reference to "saints," he is clearly writing to Christians.)


    2. Read Romans 1:1-3. What does Paul say about his job description? (Paul says ( Romans 1:1) that he is a "servant" and "apostle" who is "set apart for the gospel of God.")


      1. How does Paul understand his task? What is the nature of the gospel? (Paul says the gospel is about Jesus. It has always been about Jesus because the prophets of the Old Testament promised that Jesus was coming.)


    3. Read Romans 1:3-4. How does Paul understand Jesus' nature? (He says that Jesus has both a human nature (as a descendant of David) and a Godly nature (by the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus is the Son of God).)


      1. How can we be sure about Jesus' Godly nature? Humans could see that Jesus was born from a woman. What did they see that confirmed that He was the Son of God? (Jesus' resurrection from the dead is the "declaration" that He is God's Son.)


    4. Read Romans 1:5-6. Who does this confirm is the audience for Paul's letter? (Paul says that his mission is to share the gospel with the Gentiles. He then says that those reading his letter "are among those called." Thus, it appears that Paul is writing mainly to Gentile converts.)


      1. How do you explain then, what we previously discussed, that Paul's initial contact as a prisoner taken to Rome is the leaders of the Jews ( Acts 28:16-17)? (Isn't this consistent with Paul's preferred approach - to bring the gospel to those who do not know about Jesus?)


  4. The Church in Rome


    1. Read Romans 1:8. What is being reported about the church in Rome? (Its faith!)


    2. Read Romans 1:11-12. What does Paul want to build in Rome on that foundation of faith? (A spiritual gift.)


      1. What can the church in Rome do for Paul? (It can encourage his faith.)


      2. Is this a dynamic that we should pay attention to in our local churches? Should we look for the specific gifts and strengths of each of our members, and then encourage and learn from each other?


        1. If you agree, how would you do this as a practical matter? (This is where small group meetings in a church are particularly important.)


    3. Read Romans 15:14. What other traits do we find in the church in Rome? (The people are full of goodness, complete in knowledge, and competent to teach each other.)


      1. If they are complete in knowledge, why would they teach each other? (This gets back to the point where each member has a certain strength or gift, and sharing together helps everyone.)


    4. Read Romans 1:13. We previously concluded that Paul did not found the church in Rome. Is there any evidence to the contrary? Do you think that he has previously been there? (Paul does not say specifically, but everything that he writes seems to indicate that he has never been to Rome before.)


      1. What could Paul possibly mean when he writes that he wants to have a "harvest among you?" We just read that the members of the church in Rome are "full of goodness" and "complete in knowledge." (Paul prefers building the original foundation for a church. But, that does not mean he has no skills building up a church. His plan is to convert new members to the church in Rome.)


    5. Read Romans 1:14-15. The NIV softens what Paul is saying. He says that the gospel is both for the Greeks and the barbarians, the wise and the foolish. Who do you think the audience thought they were? (This is Rome! They no doubt thought they were the sophisticated group. If there were any Jews in the audience, they knew that they were superior, even though the Greeks would consider them barbarians.)


      1. What kind of a job is your church doing in reaching all strata of society?


      2. Would Paul win any awards for being politically correct? (Being politically correct masks the nature of the job. What if you admitted that some of your target audience is sophisticated and some are barbarians? Some are smart (or wise) and some are dumb (or foolish)? Would you do evangelism differently if you were honest about this?


    6. Read Romans 1:16. Why would Paul have to disclaim being ashamed of the gospel? (Because it would be natural to be ashamed to proclaim a man who was crucified for committing a crime.)


      1. Why do Jews come first in line for salvation?


    7. Read Romans 1:17. What is the "first and last," the A to Z of the gospel? (Righteousness by faith. Paul is not ashamed of the crucifixion of Jesus, for His death is at the heart of the gospel. Jesus died on our behalf. Jesus lived a perfect life on our behalf. Therefore, our gospel is one of faith alone.)


    8. Friend, how important is sharing the gospel to you? Have you considered how you can share the gospel with others? Why not give this some thought and ask the Holy Spirit to help you with a plan of action?


  5. Next week: The Controversy.

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Lessons on Romans

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