Romans 1:1a :
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,
Dear Christian Reader,
Today we start what may be the most important “book” of the Bible for the times in which we live. For those of you who have been following along through Acts, you now get to hear the message that Paul was delivering to the world. Remember that Jesus Himself told Paul what he was to say. Well, this is what Jesus told him. From the simple to the great, this is the message that has turned the world upside-down.
A very special thing about these words is that God chose to use a very personal kind of writing: a letter.
This is God’s letter to us as believers today and it holds the message from Jesus that Paul was asked to tell us. Right at the beginning, Paul tells us something important about himself. He tells us that he is a servant of Jesus Christ. The word is actually the same word used for “Slave.” When Paul says this he isn’t saying that he was forced into servitude by Jesus. What he is saying is that he has made himself a slave of Jesus willingly. That is the kind of power the words of this letter have. They cause a man like Saul who was an enemy of Jesus to become a man like Paul who longs to be a slave of Jesus instead.
This letter may have been the first time the people of Rome got to hear the full Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Paul details it carefully to them and as a result, we have a very personal letter with a very detailed description of the basics of Christianity.
I doubt there has ever been a more well-loved letter than the one we are starting here today. Many people have commented about it over the years. Some were emperors, some were scientists and some were simple people. This message touched the heart of them all and even altered the course of world history.
I have been reading this letter for years myself and have heard many good preachers comment on it but I still sense my inadequacy in talking to you about it, and I think that this is appropriate. I ask God that by the Holy Spirit, I would be acting in His power as I write about these things to you. I also ask that you, as this letter tells us, will listen by the power of the Holy Spirit so you can hear what God wants you to hear too.