Lesson 1 – Introduction – Letter to the Romans by Ben Witherington III
Meets on Wednesdays – 10-11am in the Education Building
- Scripture this week: Romans 1:1-17
- The Opening by Paul to the Romans:
- For the most part what audience he trying to reach?
- Witherington points out these elements of Paul’s opening:
(1) introduce himself to a largely new audience as both a servant and an apostle;
(2) indicate who Jesus is both in the flesh and by the Spirit;
(3) indicate he has been praying for them and intends to come to see them;
(4) indicate what the essence of the gospel of God is; and
(5) indicate the benefits of embracing such good news.
What is the importance of each element?
Notes on Romans 1:1-7
Paul introduces himself to his audience as “servant of God” rather than “apostle.” If you were to introduce yourself without a title (more at the level of identity), how would you do it? (i.e., Who are you?)
Notes on Romans 1:8-10
What does Paul single out as the outstanding feature of the audience that many other Christians already had heard about, even if they lived a great distance away?
Paul has been sensitive to not assert too much authority in his opening address. What might you personally learn from Paul in his tactful approach to this new audience?
Witherington breaks this down as:
But then finally, Paul offers a somewhat edited proof text from the Old Testament, which in this case comes from Habakkuk 2:4. As we have the quotation here the Greek reads “just as it is written ‘but the righteous from faith (or faithfulness) shall live’” (author’s translation).
There are several possible ways to interpret this:
(1) but those who are righteous by faith shall live;
(2) but those who are righteous shall live by faith;
(3) but those who are righteous shall live from faithfulness;
(4) but the righteous one shall live from (his) faithfulness.
This last interpretation would be the one closest to the Hebrew text of Habbakkuk 2:4, which simply says, “but the righteous person shall live by his faithfulness” (author’s translation).
Have you ever been ashamed of being a Christ-follower? What was the source of that shame?
What does Paul mean by “the righteousness of God”?
- Questions from the reading:
- What do you think is the point of bringing things from the Jewish past – like “prophets, it is written” – to the Romans?