ImmerseMessiah NLT - Page 189



IMMERSED IN ROMANS
A W O M A N N A M E D P H O E B E stood
to address the gathering of Jesus’ followers in the city of Rome. She was a respected leader of the church
in Cenchrea, the port city for Corinth, where the apostle Paul was collecting an offering for the poor in Jerusalem. It’s likely that Phoebe had
been about to travel to Rome and Paul had chosen her to carry a letter
from him to the believers there.
Paul had worked long and hard to announce the Good News about
Jesus to the eastern part of the Roman Empire. But now in ad 56,
though Paul had not even visited the church in Rome, he writes to the
believers there:
“I have finished my work in these regions, and after all these
long years of waiting, I am eager to visit you. I am planning
to go to Spain, and when I do, I will stop off in Rome. And
after I have enjoyed your fellowship for a little while, you
can provide for my journey.”
In anticipation of a visit to Rome on his way to Spain, Paul writes the
longest of his letters. In this letter to the Roman believers he makes
the case for the world-transforming news about Jesus—news that welcomes both Jews and Gentiles together into God’s family. This Good
News is the plan God reveals through the entire story of the Bible, to
bring his blessing and salvation to all nations. The Roman church—a
mixed congregation of Jews and Gentiles—exists as a result of this
Good News. And as Paul’s letter is read, these believers are invited to
support the continued expansion of the Good News.
Paul’s message to the Romans follows the usual pattern of his letters,
including the opening and closing greetings. He starts with a clear
and strong statement expressing the heart of the royal gospel about
Jesus—and of his own mission as an apostle.
Following this, Paul presents a substantial teaching section in the first
part of the main body of the letter. This section is as long and complex
as anything we find in his letters, so it’s worth saying a little more about
how Paul structures the flow of his thought here. Paul regularly taught
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