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LESSON 1 – ROMANS BIBLE STUDY
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LESSON 1: ROMANS BIBLE STUDY
BOOK OF ROMANS (BY R.E. HARLOW)
Paul wrote many letters to Christians and Christian churches. The Holy Spirit led him to write 13 letters, which are in the New Testament, and perhaps the letter to the Hebrews also. All books in the Bible are true, but the letters of Paul contain the most wonderful truths in the Scripture. We should study them very carefully and ask the Lord to help us to understand. In Romans, the Holy Spirit shows us that we are ALIVE and FREE - in Christ Jesus. God gives us life forever and we can live for Him day-by-day, Romans 6.23 and Romans 14.8. He makes us free from sin because the Lord Jesus paid the whole debt and the Spirit gives us power to live a holy life, Romans 6.22. This is the Good News explained in Romans: in Christ, you can be alive and free. Paul's letter to the Christians at Rome is one of the most important books in the Bible. The Holy Spirit told Paul what to write and we can learn a great deal about God, and how to be saved in this letter. The book of Romans has seven parts:
- God has revealed the Good News, 1.1-17.
- God will judge all men, 1.18 - 3.20.
- God can save men from their sins, 3.21-5.21.
- God can keep us from sinning, chapters 6 - 8.
- God has His plans for Israel, chapters 9-11.
- God wants us to live a holy life, chapters 12 - 15.
- God honours His people who serve Him, chapter 16.
We will study every verse in all 16 chapters of Romans; let us ask the Lord to help us really to understand.
GOD HAS REVEALED THE GOOD NEWS 1.1-1
The first part of Romans tells us what Paul's whole letter is about: the Good News. This Good News reveals the Lord Jesus Christ and tells us about Him. Paul knew that this message was God's way to save men and he was not ashamed of it. This first part of Romans has three sections.
1. Paul greeted the Christians at Rome, verses 1-7.
2. He wanted to visit them, verses 8-15.
3. The Good News is important, verses 16-17.
PAUL GREETED THE CHRISTIANS AT ROME, 1.1-7
1. Who was Paul? He called himself a servant of Christ Jesus and an apostle. Paul was born in a Jewish family that belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. He grew up in the city of Tarsus, but travelled a long distance to Jerusalem to study the Old Testament under a famous teacher, Gamaliel. Paul was a good student and became very zealous for the law, Philippians 3.5-6. He heard about the Lord Jesus, but at first, he did not believe in Him, Acts 7.58. In fact, he tried to stop others from following the Lord, Acts 8.3. Until that day on the road to Damascus! There the Lord Jesus spoke to Paul and he accepted Him as his Lord and Saviour, Acts 9.1-6. Then Paul became a very faithful servant of Christ, Galatians 1.10 Titus 1.1. We are all servants of Christ Jesus, Romans 12.11: 1 Peter 2.16 and we must obey Him as our Lord, but there are no true apostles today. The Lord Jesus chose twelve apostles, but one of them betrayed Him to His enemies and then killed himself. Peter and the other disciples chose Matthias to take Judas' place, Acts 1.26. Paul and Barnabas are called apostles, Acts 14.4; also Silas and Timothy, 1 Thessalonians 1.1; 2.6. All these men died long ago. Many of them wrote parts of the New Testament. Today we cannot ask the apostles to tell us what God wants us to do, but we can read what the apostles wrote in the New Testament. This will show us God's will. The word apostle also means messenger. For example, Titus and Epaphroditus were messengers of churches, 2 Corinthians 8.23 and Philippians 2.25. The Lord Jesus has sent us as His messengers to the world, John 20.21 and Romans 10.15. God called Paul to be an apostle and set him apart to preach the Good News, Verse l; Galatians 1.15; Acts 13.2. What is the "Good News"? The next few verses tell us about the Good News. The word Gospel or Good News is used twelve more times in Romans 1.9, 1:15-16; 2.16; 10.15-16; 11:28; 15:16; 15:19; 15:20, 15:29, 16:25.
2. Long ago God promised men that He would send a Saviour to deliver them from the power of Satan, Genesis 3.15. Many other verses in the Old Testament tell us about the coming Saviour and King. Some of the writers of the Old Testament are called prophets, they spoke for God, and the Holy Spirit often told them about future events. The Old Testament is the Word of God, so Paul called it the Holy Scriptures.
3. The Good News tells about God's Son. The Lord Jesus Christ is a Descendant of King David, and we can read the names of His ancestors in Luke 3.23-38. The Lord Jesus was a Man, the Perfect Man. He is also the Son of God.
CHRIST WAS SHOWN TO BE THE SON OF GOD:
Old Testament prophets said the Saviour would come, verse 2; New Testament writers show He is the Descendant of David, verse 3; He lived a holy life, the only Perfect Man, verse 4; He had power to do many miracles, verse 4;
4. The Lord Jesus lived a perfectly holy life in this world; this proved that He is God's Son. God showed that Christ was His Son by giving Him authority to do great miracles, John 5.36. The Lord Jesus raised three persons from death: a man, a young man, and a girl, John 11.43-44 Luke 7.14-15; Mark 5.35-42. God gave part of the Spirit's power to a few men, but fully to the Lord Jesus Christ, John 3.34. Still men refused the Saviour and nailed Him on a cross. God raised Him from death and showed to all that the Lord Jesus is His Son. Some people think that God could not have a son unless He had a wife, but this is a mistake. God did not create His Son: the Son is eternal. He had no beginning and He will never have an end John 1.1; 17.5; Revelation 1.18. Other people teach that all men are sons of God. It is true that God created all people, but it is also true that all have sinned against Him. The Bible teaches that sinners can become sons of God if they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, John 1.12. But the Lord Jesus never became the Son of God; He always was and always will be God the Son. The Bible calls us sons of God, 1 John 3.1-2, but Christ is the Son of God.
CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD
No beginning......No end. Men may become sons of God........Have a beginning ........but no ending
5. So, the Good News is about God's Son, and God chose Paul to take this message to all people. Those who hear this message should believe and obey.
6. Some people in Rome heard and obeyed and believed, 9.24.
7. Paul wrote this letter to them and told them that God loved them, called them, and made them His own saints. Paul greeted them by praying that God would send them grace and peace from Himself and His Son. The Bible calls all God's people saints because God has set us apart for Himself. In the Greek New Testament, the same word is used for saint and Holy Scripture, erse 2, and the Holy Spirit, 5.5. We should live holy lives as the Scripture teaches, because God has set us apart for Himself. The Holy Spirit will help us. Paul also greeted other churches by asking God to send them grace and peace. He wrote nine letters to churches, in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae, and Thessalonica. He also wrote four other letters to Timothy (2), Titus, and Philemon. In all of these letters, he greeted the believers by asking God to send them grace and peace. In the two letters to Timothy, he asked for grace, mercy, and peace. We believe that Paul also wrote to the Hebrews but that letter does not start off in the same way. Where was Paul when he wrote this letter to the Romans? He did not say just where he was, but he was taking some money to the Christians at Jerusalem, money that had been given by the believers in Macedonia and Achaia that is now called Greece, 15.25-26. Paul stayed in Greece for three months just before he went to Jerusalem, Acts 20.2-3; 21.17. It may well be that he wrote this letter at that time.
PAUL WANTED TO VISIT THE BELIEVERS AT ROME, 1.8-15
Paul loved God's people who lived in Rome.
8. First, he thanked God for every one of them because they believed in the Lord. The news of their faith was spreading to people in all parts of the world. Rome was the greatest of all cities in those days and many people were talking about these believers who had turned to Christ and stopped worshipping idols. So people who did not believe in Christ were now spreading the Good News. Paul gave thanks to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. We should come to God through Christ at all times, both to pray and to worship Him, John 16.24; Hebrews 10.19.
9. If an honest man says something, it is probably true, and if two or three witnesses agree, most people will believe them, Deuteronomy 19.15; Matthew 18.16; 2 Corinthians 13.1. Here Paul told the Christians at Rome that God was his witness and not man. God knew that Paul was serving Him with his spirit and that he prayed for the believers at Rome. Paul remembered these people every time he prayed to God.
10. He especially wanted to go to Rome to see the believers there, but he prayed for this only if it was God's will. Travelling was very dangerous in those days and Paul wanted to be sure that God was leading him to Rome. We will learn more of Paul's plans in 15.22-32. We should always ask God to lead us before we make any plans, James 4.13-15. He wants us to worship and serve Him with our spirit, John 4.24; Philippians 3.3. We serve God when we tell others the Good News about His Son, but we should first worship Him and thank Him for His love to us, Matthew 4.10.
11. Paul wanted to see these believers and to help them to be better Christians. He could teach them more about God's Word, and the Holy Spirit would give them spiritual gifts, 12.6-8; 1 Corinthians 12.8-10. This would make the church stronger and would comfort and encourage the- people of God.
12. Their faith would help Paul and his faith would help them.
13. Paul wanted the Roman Christians to know that he had often tried to visit them, Acts 19.21, but something happened every time to keep him from going to see them. He hoped that God would bless his service in Rome as He had done in other places. Paul preached the Good News from the time he first accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord, Acts 9.5, 20. He had won people for Christ in Cyprus, Galatia, Macedonia, Greece, and Asia Minor. He wanted to do the same at Rome. Paul had started or planted many churches, but he had never been in Rome. Some people think that Peter started the church of Rome, but the Bible does not tell us that Peter was ever at Rome. Paul sent greetings to many believers in Rome, 16.3-16, but he did not even refer to Peter anywhere in this letter. Who started the church at Rome? We read that many visitors from Rome were at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came on all the believers, Acts 2.10. They heard the Good News and some believed it. These people may have gone back to Rome and preached to others, both Jews and Gentiles. The Jewish Christians understood the Old Testament very well and Paul used over 60 verses from the Old Testament in this letter to the Romans. There were also many Gentile Christians in Rome. The Greek New Testament says that Paul wanted to have some fruit at Rome. The Lord Jesus chose His disciples so that they should go and bear fruit that would last forever. We too can bear fruit for God's glory, John 15.8, 16. We can tell people the Good News and those who believe will live forever.
14. Paul felt that he owed a debt to all kinds of people. The Greeks were well educated and civilized, but some other nations were perhaps still ignorant. But they were all people and all men need a Saviour. The Lord Jesus taught that we should do for others what we would like them to do for us, Matthew 7.12; Luke 6.31. Are you glad that someone told you the Good News? You can make others happy by telling them about Christ. You owe this to all men. Be sure you pay your debts.
15. Paul himself was ready and eager to preach the Good News at Rome, but he had to wait until it was God's time for him to go there. The Good News was the record of a Jew who had been put to death; the Jews had accused Him of breaking the laws of Rome. Rome was the proud capital city of the Roman Empire, which controlled most of the countries around the Mediterranean Sea. The people of Rome did not like the Jews, and they did not want to hear about some new religion. Paul desired to tell them the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ.
PAUL EXPLAINED WHY THE GOOD NEWS IS SO IMPORTANT, 1.16,17
16. Paul was not ashamed of the Good News; in fact, he was proud of it. No wonder. The Good News shows that God has the power to save everyone who believes in Christ. No other message or religion can bring such salvation to sinners. The Good News was given first to the Jews, then to other people. John the Baptist preached to the people of Israel, Luke 3.18; the disciples of the Lord Jesus did the same and so did the Lord Himself, Matthew 10.6; 15.24. On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached to the people of Jerusalem, but people from many other places were there also at that time, Acts 2.5, 14. Paul went first to the Jews in every city, then to the Greeks, Acts 13.46; 28.28. No one who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will find out later that He has failed him, 9.33; 10.11. Paul suffered a great deal on his way to Rome and more still when he got there. Still he was never ashamed of the Lord Jesus, 2 Timothy 1.12. We may well be ashamed of the sinful life we used to live, 6.21. but never of our Saviour. If we are, He will be ashamed of us, Mark 8.38.
- The Good News tells us that God wants to be gracious to all men, Acts 20.24, but here the Good News shows that God is righteous. This word righteous or just is very common in the book of Romans, in fact, it is found 65 times. God is righteous. He must judge sin. He also "puts men right with Himself.” This does not mean that these men have never sinned; we know that all are guilty. it means that the Lord Jesus Christ paid the debt and took our punishment and now God shows to all that we are free. The Holy Spirit teaches this wonderful truth very clearly in the first half of Romans. Here in verse 17 we learn only that the Good News reveals that God is righteous.
God is righteous. Is this a message of Good News to the sinner? No, because the righteous God must judge sin. And God cannot declare any man to be righteous just because he has done many good things. God can do this only because we have faith and believe in Christ. We had a little faith when we first trusted the Lord. We then started to learn more about Him and more about His Word. Our faith became greater and we grew from a little faith to more faith. Then Paul used a verse from the Old Testament to prove this. The Old Testament is the book of God's law, and it teaches that any man who keeps God's commands will have life, Ezekiel 20.11. No one has ever been able to do this perfectly, but many men have faith and put their trust in God. So the Holy Spirit said that men of faith are righteous (or just) and they are the ones who will live. You see, the sinner is guilty before God, the Judge of all the world, and he must die for his sins. The Bible says he is dead already: he does not have eternal life. God gives eternal life as a gift to all those who have faith, Ephesians 2.1-8. So men who are right with God through faith are the men who have life, eternal life. They get this life through faith and they continue to live by faith, Habakkuk 2.4. This truth is so important that the Holy Spirit repeats it three times in the New Testament: Romans 1.17; Galatians 3.11; Hebrews 10.38. Read these verses in Galatians and Hebrews, also a few verses before and after them. The first part of Romans 1.1-17, is quite short but extremely important. It shows that the Good News is about our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the Son of Man, who died and rose from death. The Good News tells that a sinner can get right with God if he has faith and believes in the Lord Jesus. This message is for all men, Jews and Gentiles, civilized and uneducated, in the whole world. Read these 17 verses again and also the notes in this book that explain the meaning of the verses. If you understand these truths a little, you should thank the Lord for all He has done for you. You should also tell others about our wonderful Saviour.
TEST LESSON 1 - ROMANS 1
SECTION 1. MULTIPLE CHOICES
Read each question carefully; then, select the correct answer and mark it with a X.
1. God promised to send Christ to save men, we read this -
(a) in the Old Testament; ...................
(b) in the gospel of Mark; ...................
(c) in the letter to the Romans. ...................
2. The Bible suggests that the Church of Rome was started by -
(a) Peter; ...................
(b) Romans who visited in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost; ...................
(c) the apostle Paul. ...................
3. Men know that God will judge sinful men -
(a) and yet they go ever more deeply into sin; ...................
(b) so they want to learn more about His Son; ...................
(c) so they turn to Him in repentance. ...................
4. God reveals a little about Himself in nature -
(a) and He will never give men up; ...................
(b) and He requires men to believe in Him; ...................
(c) but tells men they can do as they please. ...................
5. Paul wanted to go to Rome -
(a) to see the great Roman Emperor; ...................
(b) to collect some money for the believers in Jerusalem; ...................
(c) to teach the believers there more about God's Word. ...................
TRUE (yes) or FALSE (no)
6. Paul believed in the Lord Jesus Christ the first time he heard about Him. - TRUE ............. FALSE .................
7. God has a Son so He must have a wife. - TRUE ............. FALSE .................
8. Unbelievers spread the news about the Lord Jesus Christ. - TRUE ............. FALSE .................
9. Paul's gospel teaches that God is righteous. - TRUE ............. FALSE .................
10. People can learn something about God without the Bible. - TRUE ............. FALSE .................
Have you taken the Lord Jesus as your Saviour? ...................
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Updated May 2012 by Shelly Allen