9/15/2014

Gospel and Grace

Romans 1:1-6: "...called...and set apart for the gospel" (Rom 1:1, NIV).

What scholars, theologians and church leaders have said about Romans:
  • "(Romans) is the fullest and grandest statement of the gospel in the NT...a timeless manifesto of freedom through Jesus Christ." John Stott, The Message of Romans, 1994.
  • "Romans is Paul's summary of the gospel that he preaches. The theme of the letter is the gospel." Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 1996.
  • "The quintessence and perfection of saving doctrine." Thomas Draxe, 17th century English Puritan.
  • Martin Luther wrote in his "Preface to the Epistle to the Romans" that Romans is "really the chief part of the NT, and ... truly the purest gospel. It is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but also that he should occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul."
  • John Calvin declared that "if we have gained a true understanding of this Epistle, we have an open door to all the most profound treasures of Scripture."
The word translated "gospel" (εὐαγγέλιον) occurs 76 times in the NT, of which 60 times it is used by PaulThis word is particularly prominent in the introduction (Rom 1:1, 2, 9, 15) and conclusion (Rom 15:16, 19) of Romans--it's epistolary "frame." And this is the word that has pride of place in Paul's statement of the theme of the letter in Rom 1:16-17, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel..." Paul goes on to speak of the interplay of salvation, the interplay of Jew and Gentile (The New Perspective on Paul), and justification by faith (Luther and Calvin's theme)--each of which has been advanced as the theme of Romans.

In Rom 1:1-6, John Stott explains the gospel as follows:
  1. The origin of the gospel is ________ (Rom 1:1).
  2. The attestation of the gospel is ________________ (Rom 1:2).
  3. The substance of the gospel is ______________________ (Rom 1:3-4).
  4. The scope of the gospel is ____________________ (Rom 1:5-6).
  5. The purpose of the gospel is ________________________ (Rom 1:5).
  6. The goal of the gospel is _______________________________ (Rom 1:5).
Questions:
  • What is the gospel? How would you explain compellingly what the gospel is?
  • What is striking about Paul's description of himself as "slave" and "apostle" (Rom 1:1a)?
  1. What is the origin of the gospel (Rom 1:1b)? Why is this conviction important for authentic evangelism?
  2. What attests to the gospel (Rom 1:2; Jn 5:39; Lk 24:27, 44)?
  3. What is the substance of the gospel (Rom 1:3-4, 9)?
  4. What is the scope of the gospel (Rom 1:5-6)? What implications does this have for you? What is the role of "grace" (Rom 1:1:5; 12:3; 15:15; 1 Cor 15:10; Gal 1:15)?
  5. What is the purpose of the gospel (Rom 1:5; 16:26)? Can you differentiate between the obedience of faith and the obedience of law? Can you see the obedience of faith in your own life?
  6. What is the goal of the gospel (Rom 1:5)? How does your experience of Christianity match up to this?
  7. Extra: What do you know about the New Perspective on Paul?
* The word "God" occurs 153 times in Romans; an average of once every 46 words - this is more frequently than in any other NT book. In comparison, note the frequency of other words used in Romans: law (72), Christ (65), sin (48), Lord (43), and faith (40). Romans deals with many different themes, but as much as a book can be, it is a book about God.