“Paul, God, and the Gospel” Pt. 1
May 17, 2015
If you’ve ever had a young teen in the house, you know that teens don’t always want to listen. They believe that they have all the answers to life and that their parents are ill-equipped and to handle life because they have not experienced the life of the teenager (as if adults can become adults without first being teenagers). That’s what led Mark Twain to quip: “When a boy turns 13, seal him in a barrel and feed him through a knot hole. When he turns 16, plug up the hole.” Part of his point is that it takes time for a young man to learn to listen; and it may take time for a parent to build up credibility. And that aspect of credibility was evidently on Paul’s mind when he wrote his letter to the Romans.
When people wrote letters in biblical times, they were generally brief. Generally those letters began with the name of the author, then the name of the recipient, and a greeting: “Terry to John, greetings.” It generally was just that simple and short. But not with Paul in his letter to the Romans. Remember, he is writing to a church he did not found and he has not visited and he is writing to ask them to support his ministry in Spain (15:24ff), so in this letter he offers the longest salutation of any of his letters (seven verses and 94 words). He still follows the pattern of the typical letter: author, recipient, greeting. He just expands all those sections more than a standard letter. Like the parent of the teenager, he is building credibility with his readers, encouraging them why they should read and heed his letter. “Who is Paul to tell them what to do?” Well, he tells them…
And in that salutation he is not only identifying himself to the readers, but he is also offering a summary of the essence of the gospel he is preaching and his right to preach that gospel. The gospel and the entire book are distilled into one sentence in these seven verses. And what we will find in the first verse this morning is that Paul’s authority to preach and write the gospel comes from God.
And because the gospel and where it comes from does not change, that means that for us —
Because the gospel comes from God it has unique authority and power.
An examination of how Paul introduces himself reveals the greatness of God’s gospel. Who is Paul and why should the Romans or we listen to him?
- Paul, the Man — His Identity
- Paul, the Slave — His Humility
- Paul, the Apostle — His Office
- Paul, the Preacher — His Ministry
Download the rest of this sermon from Romans 1:1-7.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.