The Necessary Rehearsal to Prepare.

At the end of his letter to the Romans, Paul names many individuals who were an encouragement to him in the Lord. Paul had not been to visit the churches in Rome, but he knew many believers who had evidently moved there. The list begins with a woman named Phoebe who likely delivered Paul's letter about AD 57 (Romans 16:1-2). Her inclusion, along with Priscilla and her husband Aquila in the next few verses, reminds us that women are very important to the essential ministry of disciple-making in the church.

Reasons for Writing

Paul had theological and practical reasons for writing this letter. He was in Corinth at the time, dealing with a divided church that had become distracted and materialistic, stained their public testimony, showed little generosity, and offered impure worship to God. He wrote what he did to the Roman church to further solidify their foundation of faith and prevent their regressing to similar issues. It is always healthy to rehearse the influence of the Gospel in our own life.

This letter's content is particularly interesting from our historical vantage point. Nero had just ascended to the throne of Rome when this letter was written. Paul could not have known how the political climate would change in the next 10 years, but the Holy Spirit knew that great persecution was coming. Paul instructed the Roman Christians to live stable, faithful lives no matter what happened in their environment. When persecution came, the church was strong enough to withstand it, and not only that – they became a center of church planting in their region.

Practical Highlights

The second major section of Romans contains much of the book's practical instruction. Consider how these topics would strengthen people about to face severe persecution.

  • Chapter 12 – Don't be conformed to the world. Pursue holiness. Exercise your spiritual gifts and love the saints.
  • Chapter 13 – Always mirror Christ-likeness in your attitude towards the state authority.
  • Chapter 14 – Disciple all believers in varying degrees of spiritual maturity.
  • Chapter 15 – Every believer must take responsibility for making disciples. Don't be satisfied with attaining a certain level of maturity; keep on growing.
  • Chapter 16 – Interdependence is important among churches, not just within.

Application Points

  • What influence has the Gospel had in your own life? Rehearse your personal story of the miracle of new birth.
  • Local churches are intended to network together to launch further Gospel efforts. Pray to be part of a church that is reaching the world for Christ.
  • What God wants to do through the church is bigger than us. Yet reaching the world for Christ starts with your personal growth. As your individual light in our community grows, so does our corporate Gospel influence. Growth within is always purposeful preparation for what God has planned ahead.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 2 Peter 1:12 – Peter similarly exhorts his audience to remember the basic truths of Scripture in order to persevere.
A Hymn to Encourage: "The Church's One Foundation"

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

Elect from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

’Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.