Preparation Prior to the study session, participants should read :
Romans 3: 21-31: Salvation is both Jew and gentile
Romans 7: 1-6: Faith replaces the old written law
Romans 12: Practical advice
Orientation Romans is book #6 of 27 in the New Testament, and and is one of Paul's letters. For more information see the Bible Overview page. Synopsis Paul writes to the church in Rome (mostly gentile), to explain the gospel in preparation for his visit (1:11). He describes the basic plan of salvation, and the relationship between the Jews and the gentiles. Paul describes how everyone - both gentile and Jew (1:16) - have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (3:23), needing salvation. God has made salvation available to all through Jesus (3:22 and 6:23).
Christ's new spirit has replaced the old written law so revered by the Jews (7:6). God sent Jesus as the ultimate sin offering (8:3), so we no longer have to live by the old way; but instead by the Spirit (8:4).
Paul encourages the Romans: in all things God works for our good (8:28). If God is for us, who can stand against us (8:31)? Nothing can separate us from God (8:38). Paul assures the Jews (probably a minority in Rome) there is enough room in the kingdom for them as well. The gentiles have gained righteousness, even though they did not follow the law. Meanwhile the Jews follow the law, but cannot find righteousness. How can this be? Paul describes faith vs. works (9:30-33).
Paul welcomes the gentiles. They will bring a fullness to Christianity (11:12). The gentiles are like branches grafted on the tree of Judaism, sharing their heritage (11:17).
He continues with practical advice on behavior (12), and respect for civil authority (13). Paul declares his mission is to minister to the gentiles (15:16). He describes his plans to visit Rome (15:23), then adds personal notes.
Discussion points Who has faith but no works? * Works but no faith? ** Works and faith combined? ***
What does Paul tell us the relationship between gentiles and Jews should be? ****
Connections Paul discusses the heritage of Israel (9:6) by describing how two nations began and split, from Abraham (+ Sarah) (Genesis 18:10), their son Isaac (+ Rebekah), and their children Esau and Jacob forming the two nations (Gen 25:25).
Paul's topic of faith vs. works will come up in James 2: 20-26 (Faith without works is dead).
For source citations see the home page. Revised April 9 2014
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** The Jews, according to Paul. Today, secular relief agencies? They provide works but no faith.
*** The ideal situation. While works are not required for salvation , they are a desired and natural outcome of faith.
**** Working together as different parts of God's complete body. The gentiles bring fullness to the Jews (11:13) and the Jews are the root to which the gentiles are grafted (11:17)