I am a debtor both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and to the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. (Romans 1:14-15, NIV)
There’s a puzzle right at the start of Paul’s great letter to the Christians in Rome. He tells them he’s longing to visit them, so that he can preach the gospel to them. But this is a healthy church, whose faith is being reported all over the world (1:8). Why should they need to hear the gospel?
This question is surely tied up with the very purpose of the letter itself. It seems clear that, unable to go in person and not quite sure whether he ever will (he indicates at the end of the letter that he’s in personal danger), Paul writes as his way of preaching the gospel to the Romans. But again: why does a healthy church like this need to have the gospel explained?
Much has been written by many scholars (wiser than me) on the possible purpose of this letter, but it seems to me there is an obvious explanation, contained within the letter itself. For your interest, I attach a longer article I wrote on this a couple of years ago. It shows why it’s so vital that we, as Christians today, also read Romans. Which is just what we plan to do through 2017, in our home groups and women’s and men’s Bible studies.
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