Paul part 2
Paul has had a very busy life, he has traveled Asia Minor three times, he has founded a multitude of churches and to help them build a strong foundation he needed to revisit them. With these letters to these churches, he pretty much pen the New Testament. The farthest west he got was Greece and he never visited Rome, the powerful Roman church and after all those years of waiting for Paul to visit them, the Roman church was beginning to feel a bit slighted, just plain neglected. As we know the Roman church was Jewish believers in the beginning of the church. So the Roman church came up with all kinds of reasons why Paul neglected them. Some of the suggestions was that Paul favored the Gentiles, that he cared only for the churches that he founded, or maybe he was ashamed of the gospel and was afraid of confrontation with Roman authority, or that the Jewish believers were smarter that he, Paul, was and he would rather deal with the ignorant Gentile converts.
Paul had a challenge on his hands with the Roman church. He was going to visit them but he was going to do it on his terms. His plan was to travel to Rome, but mainly as a stop over on his way to Spain. On top of that he was planning to ask the rich Roman church for money. Paul’s plan was to have the financial support from the Roman church for a new church plant he planned in the western edge of the empire.
So we have Paul writing to the Roman church who is a critical piece of the next missionary focus, and they have a chip on their shoulder and they are holding a major grudge against Paul. What does Paul say to a church that he doesn’t know, and has never visited, and yet he desperately needs them? He would need to write the single greatest theological explanation of righteousness and redemption ever written. He would need to provide this church, which resides at the center of the known world, with a foundational writing on the Christian faith from which the truth can be spread to the world. And while writing all this he will explain his absence and his love for that church —-And in the end he will ask for money.
Before we get into the Book of Romans we will take a quick look at the beginning and the end.
John the Baptist Message and Death
John is a witness to the nature of Christ. As John gathers attention, priest and Levites go to him to see exactly who he is and by what authority he has to preach his message. John is not the Messiah nor the reincarnated Elijah, but he is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, John 1: 19-23. John declares that he is unworthy to even carry Jesus’ sandals, Matthew 3: 11, John 1: 27. Reading further John describes Jesus as “the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world,” John1: 29. John was baptizing “for the forgiveness of sins” Mark 1:4. John was hesitant to immerse Jesus when he approached him with the request Matthew 3: 14. Jesus was sinless, a lamb without blemish 1 Peter 1:19.
John, having heard the voice of God, and witnessed the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of the dove, he faithfully witnessed that Jesus “is the Son of God.” John 1:31-34. John preached repentance and the coming kingdom to all who would listen. Even Pharisee and Scribes were being baptized, Matthew 3: 7-8 “fruit worthy of repentance.” Without fruit there is no real repentance, fruit meaning a deep inner conviction. Repentance is more than saying………..”I’m sorry!”
Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, who slaughtered the babies in attempt to eliminate the baby Jesus, was a wicked and arrogant ruler. Herod Antipas had inherited portions of his father’s kingdom in Galilee and in Peraea, west of the Jordan. Herod Antipas was married to the daughter of king Aretas IV, but on a trip to Rome he stopped to visit Philip, his half brother and his wife Herodias, whom he became infatuated with and influenced her to leave Philip, and then Herod Antipas divorced his own wife. It was inevitable that these two, John and Herod, would clash. John who denounced sin and Herod who entered into an unlawful relationship. But on the other hand, Herod was some what interested in John’s message. Herod knew that John was a holy man, in away he feared John. But also he was afraid that John would gain so much popularity that he would start a revolt. Mark 6:20 indicates that Herod liked listening to John preach.
Herod’s wife, Herodias, did not like John and she talked Herod into putting John into prison.
Herod’s birthday set the opportunity for getting rid of John. Herodias sacrificed the virtue of her daughter, Salome, but she may have been as bad as her mother. Salome danced and Herod was well pleased! He offered her anything up to half of his kingdom. But she consulted with her mother, and the request was “Give me the head of John the Baptizer on a platter” Mark 6: 25. Herod wasn’t happy about this situation, and he lacked the backbone to deny the request.
John’s brief life ended on this earth, but what an impact he made.
Paul (part 1)
We will study the book of Romans , but first let’s look at Paul.
Paul is writing to a group he has never meet and a church he didn’t even establish. The Roman church was founded by a group of Jewish Christians who were traveling from Jerusalem, probably sometime after Pentecost.
The Roman church was very much an established church and had a very strong faith when Paul wrote his letter to them. Paul was writing to a church with an extreme amount of pride for who they were and the fact that they were a church at the capital of the Empire, plus it was also famous for it’s faith and the growth it experienced considering where they were located. This was the only major church established without apostle authority.
Paul was famous also in his own day as chief evangelist, and yet he was the least of the apostles. With Paul’s reputation, his presents was sought by every church. The Roman church saw themselves as the crown jewel of churches and very much worthy of honor specially worthy of Paul’s attention. There was friction between the two of them.
The first three years of Paul’s missionary pursuit took him from Damascus to Arabia, then back to Damascus then to Jerusalem then to Tarsus which was his home base for the next six years. Barnabas invited Paul to Antioch (Syria) for the next five years. Then he began his missionary journey, the first was to Asia Minor for two years where Paul began his writings with Galatians. Sometime after the Jerusalem Council, Paul heads out on his second trip through Asia Minor and into Greece for two years. He then writes Thessalonians and then he heads back to Syria. Paul’s third journey takes him back to Asia Minor and while in Ephesus he writes Corinthians and while Paul is in Corinth he writes Romans. Paul returns to Jerusalem where he is arrested and sent to Rome and while in prison he writes four more letters. Then he is freed, Paul returns to Greece where he writes 1 Timothy and Titus. Paul then writes 1 Timothy. In AD 68 Paul dies.