Introduction: Have you wanted to travel somewhere and life kept
getting in the way? When you finally traveled there, it was a real
joy, right? Or, maybe not. What if the trip involved seeing
relatives you had never before met, or a relative that you had not
seen in years? Would you consider carefully how you would approach
them? Would you want to make the best impression? We start a new
series of studies on Paul’s letter to the Romans. This week we want
to consider some of the issues that probably went through Paul’s mind
as he contemplated his letter and his visit. With that in mind, let’s
dive into our study of Romans and learn more!

  1. The Journey

    1. Read Romans 15:20-21. What is Paul’s ideal target group
      for evangelization? (Those who know nothing about Jesus.)

      1. Is that also your personal goal?

      2. What is Paul’s reason for targeting that group? (He
        does not want to build on a foundation created by
        someone else.)

        1. What do you think Paul means by that?

      3. If your goal is the same as Paul’s, is your reason
        for targeting that group the same? (Paul’s goal to
        bring the gospel to those who have not heard of Jesus
        is extremely important. While I’m not sure I fully
        understand Paul’s reason, it appears that he prefers
        pioneer work. Since these lessons are generally
        directed to those who already know about Jesus, I
        think we are doing a little different work.)

    2. Read Romans 15:22. Why has Paul not been able to visit the
      Romans, even though he wants to visit? (His pioneer work
      came first. It delayed him from coming to Rome.)

    3. Read Romans 15:23-24. What are Paul’s travel plans for
      Rome? (He is going to stop by as part of his trip to

    4. Read Romans 15:25-26. What is Paul’s first stop on his
      trip to Spain? (Jerusalem. He is bringing financial aid
      to the members there.)

    5. Read Acts 21:27-33. What happens to Paul when he is in
      Jerusalem? (A riot begins. The Jews see Paul and they know
      about his work – which they believe undermines Judaism.)

    6. After Paul’s arrest, he goes through a series of legal
      hearings while spending a couple of years in jail. Let’s
      pick this up at the end of the hearings in Jerusalem. Read
      Acts 25:10-12. Where do you think Caesar lived? (In Rome!
      Instead of Paul stopping by Rome as part of a planned
      trip, instead he is brought there as a prisoner because of
      his legal appeal.)

  2. The Destination

    1. Read Acts 28:16-20 and Acts 28:30-31. How does God work it
      out so that Paul can evangelize in Rome?

      1. What about the plan to make the best initial

    2. Why is it that the leaders of the Christian church in
      Rome, those to whom Paul previously wrote, do not show up
      to greet Paul? (The Bible does not specifically say. Paul
      apparently did not found the church in Rome. It is not as
      if Paul is returning to the church he founded. As we
      study Paul’s letter to the Romans, let’s see if we can
      better answer this question.)

    3. Read Acts 28:21-22. What does this suggest about the
      impact of the church in Rome? (The Jews know negative
      information about the “sect” of Christians. Knowing
      something is better than knowing nothing.)

  3. Paul’s Letter

    1. Read Romans 1:1 and Romans 1:7. Who is the audience for
      this letter? Is it the Jews who are in Rome, or the
      Christians who are in Rome? (Considering what we have
      studied so far, the way Paul introduces himself, and his
      reference to “saints,” he is clearly writing to

    2. Read Romans 1:1-3. What does Paul say about his job
      description? (Paul says ( Romans 1:1) that he is a
      “servant” and “apostle” who is “set apart for the gospel
      of God.”)

      1. How does Paul understand his task? What is the nature
        of the gospel? (Paul says the gospel is about Jesus.
        It has always been about Jesus because the prophets
        of the Old Testament promised that Jesus was coming.)

    3. Read Romans 1:3-4. How does Paul understand Jesus’ nature?
      (He says that Jesus has both a human nature (as a
      descendant of David) and a Godly nature (by the power of
      the Holy Spirit Jesus is the Son of God).)

      1. How can we be sure about Jesus’ Godly nature? Humans
        could see that Jesus was born from a woman. What did
        they see that confirmed that He was the Son of God?
        (Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the
        “declaration” that He is God’s Son.)

    4. Read Romans 1:5-6. Who does this confirm is the audience
      for Paul’s letter? (Paul says that his mission is to share
      the gospel with the Gentiles. He then says that those
      reading his letter “are among those called.” Thus, it
      appears that Paul is writing mainly to Gentile converts.)

      1. How do you explain then, what we previously
        discussed, that Paul’s initial contact as a prisoner
        taken to Rome is the leaders of the Jews ( Acts 28:16-17)? (Isn’t this consistent with Paul’s preferred
        approach – to bring the gospel to those who do not
        know about Jesus?)

  4. The Church in Rome

    1. Read Romans 1:8. What is being reported about the church
      in Rome? (Its faith!)

    2. Read Romans 1:11-12. What does Paul want to build in Rome
      on that foundation of faith? (A spiritual gift.)

      1. What can the church in Rome do for Paul? (It can
        encourage his faith.)

      2. Is this a dynamic that we should pay attention to in
        our local churches? Should we look for the specific
        gifts and strengths of each of our members, and then
        encourage and learn from each other?

        1. If you agree, how would you do this as a
          practical matter? (This is where small group
          meetings in a church are particularly

    3. Read Romans 15:14. What other traits do we find in the
      church in Rome? (The people are full of goodness, complete
      in knowledge, and competent to teach each other.)

      1. If they are complete in knowledge, why would they
        teach each other? (This gets back to the point where
        each member has a certain strength or gift, and
        sharing together helps everyone.)

    4. Read Romans 1:13. We previously concluded that Paul did
      not found the church in Rome. Is there any evidence to the
      contrary? Do you think that he has previously been there?
      (Paul does not say specifically, but everything that he
      writes seems to indicate that he has never been to Rome

      1. What could Paul possibly mean when he writes that he
        wants to have a “harvest among you?” We just read
        that the members of the church in Rome are “full of
        goodness” and “complete in knowledge.” (Paul prefers
        building the original foundation for a church. But,
        that does not mean he has no skills building up a
        church. His plan is to convert new members to the
        church in Rome.)

    5. Read Romans 1:14-15. The NIV softens what Paul is saying.
      He says that the gospel is both for the Greeks and the
      barbarians, the wise and the foolish. Who do you think the
      audience thought they were? (This is Rome! They no doubt
      thought they were the sophisticated group. If there were
      any Jews in the audience, they knew that they were
      superior, even though the Greeks would consider them

      1. What kind of a job is your church doing in reaching
        all strata of society?

      2. Would Paul win any awards for being politically
        correct? (Being politically correct masks the nature
        of the job. What if you admitted that some of your
        target audience is sophisticated and some are
        barbarians? Some are smart (or wise) and some are
        dumb (or foolish)? Would you do evangelism
        differently if you were honest about this?

    6. Read Romans 1:16. Why would Paul have to disclaim being
      ashamed of the gospel? (Because it would be natural to be
      ashamed to proclaim a man who was crucified for committing
      a crime.)

      1. Why do Jews come first in line for salvation?

    7. Read Romans 1:17. What is the “first and last,” the A to Z
      of the gospel? (Righteousness by faith. Paul is not
      ashamed of the crucifixion of Jesus, for His death is at
      the heart of the gospel. Jesus died on our behalf. Jesus
      lived a perfect life on our behalf. Therefore, our gospel
      is one of faith alone.)

    8. Friend, how important is sharing the gospel to you? Have
      you considered how you can share the gospel with others?
      Why not give this some thought and ask the Holy Spirit to
      help you with a plan of action?

  5. Next week: The Controversy.