I gotta admit, Paul is my favorite writer in Scripture – and also the danged hardest to read! Oh sure, there’s the Book of Numbers which requires extra caffeine to get through the first few chapters but that’s just because of all the lists of numbers (aptly named book though). Paul, on the other hand, writes originally in Greek and I swear, even in English it sometimes feels like all the punctuation got left out. It makes you have to work, that’s true enough, but it’s also part of the charm. If I didn’t have to work at it, I wouldn’t find it so fascinating.
And of course, there are the times when you just wanna shake the guy. Not so many in Romans – but a few. Starting with the first paragraph – seriously, did Paul ever meet a clause he didn’t like? If you ever need to exercise your lungs, try reading that first paragraph in one breath. If you make it, let me know. If you ever need an elevator speech for evangelism, consider memorizing the first paragraph of Romans – just make sure you don’t call yourself Paul when you use it!
But hilarity aside, Paul does indeed start out with an explanation of the Gospel. Our boy is nothing if not focused (okay, obsessive – but in a good way!). Check it out:
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life[a] was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power[b] by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from[c] faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
So, Paul covers a lot of ground just introducing himself. He tells us he’s an apostle of the Good News. He tells us that the Good News was foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament (for Paul, as for Jesus, the Holy Scriptures are the writings we consider to be the Old Testament). The Good News is about Jesus, the Son of David (earthwise) and the Son of God, Who rose from the dead. Through Jesus, the apostles received the grace and calling to go to the Gentiles. They call the Gentiles to obedience through faith for Jesus’ name’s sake. And the guys he’s writing to are Gentiles who have already been called to belong to Jesus. Then he tells us he’s talking to all the believers in Rome and sends them his blessings. Whew, all that and he hasn’t gotten started good yet!
Okay, kiddies, flash back is over – we’re all caught up on the story. Now, Paul can get down to business!