The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Romans who were believers in Jesus. Yet, Paul had never visited this church. He had plans to take the Gospel of Jesus to the farthest parts of the known world at that time. This would be what we know today as Spain. He would need to use Rome as a staging area for this mission trip. Thus, he would need the help of the local believers there.
We aren’t sure who the founders of this Roman church were, but it contained both Jewish and non-Jewish (Gentile) followers of Jesus. Each group brought their own history with them. The Jews considered that they had to follow the law to be made right in the eyes of God. At the same time, the Gentiles brought pagan ideas from their previous idol worship. This resulted in a theological clash.
Jesus Fulfilled the Law
Paul was a highly educated Jewish scholar. Jesus didn’t look like the Messiah he expected, so Paul considered Him a heretic. As a result, he persecuted the followers of Jesus. That was until Paul met Jesus in a vision on the road to Damascus and realized that He was the Messiah. At that point, Paul understood that Jesus fulfilled God’s plan for salvation for any who would receive it by faith.
As a Messianic Jewish believer, Paul addressed the Jewish believers’ issue with the law. He wrote this letter later in his ministry after evangelizing many Gentiles. Paul was aware of the problems many had after worshipping idols for most of their lives. He knew that the good news of Jesus brought unity between these factions, so after hearing about the problems from friends (many of whom are listed in ch.16), he wrote this letter.
God had a plan to save humankind from the beginning. Jesus was without sin and did not break any of the laws of Moses. Thus, He could pay the price that sinful humans could not. On the cross, Jesus stepped into the line of fire in front of us and absorbed the wrath aimed at us. Thus, He fulfilled the law and God’s plan to save us.
A Letter for Us
The letter to the Roman church is preserved in Scripture for us today. Not only did those of Paul’s time glean from its wisdom, but the letter also still applies to us today. We can’t earn our way to heaven by doing good things. Romans 3: 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard… 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law. We, too, have sinned and can only have our relationship with God restored by faith. It is a free gift, but unfortunately, some people refuse to receive it.
Paul gives us a promise. Romans 3: 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. To learn more about a letter to the Romans, listen here:
[1-2]Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188.