Romans 1: Fellowship with Jesus Christ

Why would Paul write to people he didn’t know, his letter sent to a place he had never visited?

Author’s Thoughts
Since Paul said he didn’t build on another person’s foundation (Romans 15:20), we might think he would leave Rome to others. Something must have made that area an important exception to the rule.
Some Christians who fled Jerusalem settled in Rome.
Usually, people will leave their comfort zones only after it has become sufficiently uncomfortable. Without the persecution the followed the Day of Pentecost, few Christians would leave family and friends, solely to obey Jesus and spread the good news to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8).
Rome was a major center for commerce and social prosperity, so it was an ideal place where Christians could find work and build a new home.
The Roman Christians needed support.
When people in the Jerusalem church settled in Rome, we would expect them to want their leaders to visit them. If Peter visited Rome (we can’t prove he didn’t), his speaking Aramaic, not Greek, would have hindered his ability to reach out to the community.
Paul’s education and language skills made him a much more capable minister to the citizens of Rome, both with Jewish and non-Jewish backgrounds.
Peter speaks highly of Paul (2 Peter 3:15), so we can’t rule out the possibility that Peter visited Jerusalem, then encouraged Paul to go.
Paul had Christian friends from Rome.
In the last chapter of Romans, Paul sends greetings from a long list of names that would have the most meaning if they were known to those reading his letter. We know Priscilla and Aquila were from Rome (Acts 18:2). At least some of the others were either from there or had visited there.
Friends of Paul who had a burden for the Romans would have encouraged him to at least write if he couldn’t go there.
Paul eagerly anticipated going to Rome.
By the Spirit, the encouragement of friends, or perhaps an invitation from Rome, Paul had a burden for Christians there, continually mentioning them in his prayers (Romans 1:9). Whatever the reason, at the time he wrote his letter, he had a deep longing to minister in Rome (Romans 1:10).
The Holy Spirit directed him.
We may plan our journeys, but God orders our steps (Proverbs 16:9). There were times when Paul planned to go one way, but God took him in a different direction. Even under specific goals, he still had to follow the Lord one step at a time.
When Paul was directed by the Spirit toward Jerusalem, he may have wondered if he would ever go to Rome (Acts 21:10–13). Yet it was that trip that led to his arrest and tumultuous journey that took him to ministry in Rome for at least two years (Acts 28:30).
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:1 This letter is from Paul, a loyal and obedient servant of Jesus Christ, called as a special messenger to deliver the wonderful news.
Romans 1:14–15 I am committed to helping people everywhere, the cultured and the crude, the wise and the foolish. So I’m passionate about bringing the message to Rome as well.
King James
Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
Romans 1:14–15 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

Among Jews, the fulfillment of prophecy was a pivotal proof of who Jesus was. Why would this information be important to believers who had no Jewish background?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:2–4 Long ago, prophets promised in Scripture
the arrival of God’s Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, of the lineage of King David, whose relationship was proven by his sinless behavior, his powerful miracles, and his resurrection from the dead.
King James
Romans 1:2–4 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

Why is it important to tell unbelievers our stories about how God has changed us?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 10:32–33 If anyone publicly acknowledges me before men, I will publicly acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But anyone who denies me before men I will deny before my Father in heaven.
Romans 1:5 Because of Jesus, we have received God’s undeserved kindness. In our gratitude and excitement, we have an obligation to deliver his message to people around the world.
Revelation 12:10–11 A loud voice from Heaven shouted, “Salvation and power has come through God’s dominion and Christ’s authority. Satan, who has been accusing the people day and night, is now cast down. The people have overcome him (1) by the sacrifice of the Lamb, (2) by giving their testimonies, and (3) by complete surrender to God’s will, even unto death.”
King James
Matthew 10:32–33 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Romans 1:5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
Revelation 12:10–11 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

If disciples of Christ can expect persecution, how is it a wonderful privilege?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 10:23 When people persecute you in one town, flee to another. Believe me, you will not have reached all the cities of Israel before the Son of Man will come.
John 15:20 Remember what I said before. The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you. If they had listened to me, they would listen to you.
Romans 1:6 Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is a wonderful privilege.
King James
Matthew 10:23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
John 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
Romans 1:6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:

Given the atrocities in Rome, why would Paul think God loved everyone in the city?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:7 You know, everyone in Rome is loved by God and has the opportunity to join his righteous family. May his kindness and peace be found in you through Jesus Christ.
King James
Romans 1:7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

How do you think Paul knew about the Romans who had “unwavering faith”?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:8 Let me begin by thanking God for your unwavering trust in Jesus, an abounding faith that is admired by Christians everywhere.
King James
Romans 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

What might have fueled Paul’s desire to visit Rome?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:9–10 As I serve God in delivering the message of his Son, I am always praying for you, asking him to clear the way for me to visit you.
King James
Romans 1:9–10 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.

On what basis would Paul have thought he could bring “spiritual blessings”?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:11–12 I long to bring spiritual blessings and strengthen your relationship with God. I would comfort and encourage you, and seek to increase your faith. And you would do the same for me.
King James
Romans 1:11–12 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

If Paul had planned a trip to Rome several times, what could have prevented his going?

Author’s Thoughts
Authors’s insights pending.
Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:13 My friends, many times I have planned to come, because I want you to have the same benefits that other communities have received from me.
King James
Romans 1:13 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.

Do you think there was anyone Paul either couldn’t or wouldn’t help? Why or why not?

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Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:14 I am committed to helping people everywhere, the cultured and the crude, the wise and the foolish.
1 Corinthians 5:4–5 Under the direction and authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, call a meeting of believers and I will be with you in spirit and in the power of Christ to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
King James
Romans 1:14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.
1 Corinthians 5:4–5 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Why might Paul have a greater desire to visit Rome than other places where he had never been?

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Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:15 So I’m passionate about bringing the message to Rome as well.
King James
Romans 1:15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

What makes the message of Jesus Christ “life-changing”?

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Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:16 With great pride, I declare the life-changing message of Jesus Christ, for it has the power to restore our fellowship with God, beginning with the Jews and then reaching out to everyone else.
King James
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Why do difficult situations reveal our righteousness more than the easy times?

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Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:17 His righteousness is revealed in us as we trust God in one difficult situation after another. As the prophet Habakkuk wrote: The righteous boast of God’s greatness and put their trust in him. We should all be boasting of how God has changed our lives, and show what Jesus means to us.
King James
Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

In what ways can we boast of God’s greatness?

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Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:17 His righteousness is revealed in us as we trust God in one difficult situation after another. As the prophet Habakkuk wrote: The righteous boast of God’s greatness and put their trust in him. We should all be boasting of how God has changed our lives, and show what Jesus means to us.
King James
Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

How can a God of love hate anyone?

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Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:18 God’s wrath falls upon self-serving people, who manipulate and distort the truth in their pursuit of pleasures. They are judged because God has shown them the good they should be doing for others, but they resist.
King James
Romans 1:18–19 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

Why is ignorance not an excuse for wrongdoing?

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Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:20 They have no excuse for not believing and doing the good they know to do, since the power and nature of our invisible God can be clearly observed in his creation.
King James
Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

How does creation make God’s existence obvious?

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Author’s Paraphrase
Psalm 14:1 For the minister of music, a song by David. Only a fool would say in his heart, There is no God. Their thinking is warped in self-deceit because they love their sin and don’t want to do what is right.
Psalm 97:6 The heavens reveal God’s righteousness, and all the people behold his glory.
Romans 1:20 They have no excuse for not believing and doing the good they know to do, since the power and nature of our invisible God can be clearly observed in his creation.
King James
Psalm 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
Psalm 97:6 The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.
Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

How can we know something and yet say we don’t know it?

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Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:21 No matter what they say, they actually have an awareness of God. They just refuse to acknowledge what they know. They give themselves to false imaginations, plunging themselves into darkness to escape the light of truth.
King James
Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

If credentials fail to prove wisdom, what does?

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Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:22–23 While earning their masters degrees and doctoral credentials, making themselves appear wise, they become fools, replacing the glory of our eternal God with natural, corruptible things to admire, elevating mortal men and animals to god-like status.
King James
Romans 1:22–23 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

How does looking good compare with being good?

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Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:22–23 While earning their masters degrees and doctoral credentials, making themselves appear wise, they become fools, replacing the glory of our eternal God with natural, corruptible things to admire, elevating mortal men and animals to god-like status.
King James
Romans 1:22–23 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

Why does God allow people to do evil?

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Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:24 God has given them free will to go their own way so they can enjoy their sinful pleasures, so they can do shameful acts with one another.
King James
Romans 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

What makes it possible to think more of the creature than the Creator?

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Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:25 In this process, they exchange the truth of God for the lies they want to believe, worshiping the creature instead of the Creator, who alone is worthy of eternal adoration. Yes, this is true.
King James
Romans 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

How do people develop perverted beliefs?

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Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:26–28 God lets people be driven by their vile passions, leading women to unnatural, degrading relationships with one another. Likewise, men abandon their natural relationship with a woman. Preferring intimacy with another man, they will receive due consequences for their errors. Since they don’t want to admit God’s existence, they develop perverted beliefs so they can do whatever indecency feels good to them.
King James
Romans 1:26–28 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

What are the benefits of sin?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Matthew 19:21–22 “If you want to be perfect, go and sell everything you own, and give the money to the poor. You will have treasure in heaven and can follow me.” After hearing this, the young man walked away sad, because he was very wealthy.
Romans 1:29–31 They love pornography, prostitution, and erotic acts. They become greedy cheaters with murderous thoughts, engaging in strife, deception, and gossip. Despising God, disobedient to parents, they speak evil of others while bragging about themselves. Unloving and unmerciful promise-breakers, they don’t want to understand.
Hebrews 11:24–25 By faith, Moses as an adult refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; preferring affliction with the people of God above the pleasures of sin for a season.
King James
Matthew 19:21–22 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
Romans 1:29–31 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Hebrews 11:24–25 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

Why do people miss seeing the consequence of wrongdoing?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Romans 1:32 They know what is right and pleasing to God, and they know wrongdoing has severe consequences. Yet not only do they persist in their behavior, but they also encourage and enjoy fellowship with others who do the same things.
Romans 11:7 A select few belong to the Lord. Most of Israel hasn’t found what they were looking for, because they didn’t really want to see.
2 Peter 1:9 Those who lack these qualities are spiritually blind, unable to see past their noses, forgetting how they were cleansed from their sins.
King James
Romans 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Romans 11:7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
2 Peter 1:9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.