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Set apart for the
gospel of God.
Paul likely wrote the epistle to the Romans, the topic of
this month’s study, about A.D. 57 while staying in or near Corinth during his
third missionary journey. He had been preaching the gospel for about twenty
years by this time, but he had not yet visited Rome. Estimates of the city’s
population then vary considerably, due mainly to the fact that slaves usually
weren’t counted, but it may have been about 400,000 people. Though Jews had been
evicted from Rome in A.D. 49, the emperor who gave that order died five years
later, enabling some to return by the time Paul wrote this letter. Perhaps 10
percent of the population were Jews, meaning that the Roman church was most
likely majority Gentile and minority Jewish.
Paul’s immediate reason for
writing to the church at Rome was to inform them of his plan to visit them,
after he delivered to Jerusalem an offering taken up for the Jewish poor from
several Gentile churches (15:23–28; see Acts 19:21). The central theme of his
epistle is the gospel, and Romans contains the single most fully exposited
theological account Paul wrote on the subject.
The theme of the gospel
is seen from the very first verse, in which Paul identified himself as “set
apart for the gospel of God” (v. 1). He then paused in his salutation to spend
the next three verses proclaiming the gospel to be the fulfillment of many
promises and prophecies and centered on Christ (vv. 2–4). He affirmed Jesus to
be both a human “descendant of David” and the divine “Son of God” and
highlighted His resurrection as evidence of the gospel’s power. This is how and
why Paul was authorized to call the Gentiles, including the believers in Rome,
to “the obedience that comes from faith” in Christ (vv. 5–6).
Apply the Word
If you haven’t heard of the recently published one-volume
Moody Bible Commentary, we recommend it as a valuable tool for
assisting you with your study of the Scriptures. The chapter on Romans is
downloadable as a free sample. To obtain it, go to moodybiblecommentary.com, click on
“Study Romans Now,” and fill out a brief form.
Pray with Us
Join us in prayer for the dedicated service of the Admissions department staff on Moody’s Chicago campus: Janessa Fisk, Charles Dresser, and Jacqueline Haywood. Praise God for the many careers in full-time ministry they help make possible.