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March 2015 Issue

Romans: The Glorious Gospel


  • Yesterday

    Faith without Food Is Dead
  • Today

    Greetings and Background of the Epistle
  • Tomorrow

    Main Purpose and Theme: The Gospel
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Devotion for Sunday, March 1, 2015

Greetings and Background of the Epistle

Read Romans 1:1–7

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Set apart for the gospel of God. Romans 1:1

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, click on “Study Romans Now,” and fill out a brief form.

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