Mysteries of the Kingdom

            in awe of scripture, viewing it through the lens of the kingship of Jesus

Image by Bert Kaufmann from Roermond, Netherlands, cc-sa-by-2.0


    People often say Romans is Paul's deep theological treatise, as if he had written the letter for theologians and scholars to postulate and pontificate. Romans is actually an easy read because it's the only letter written to un-discipled believers. Paul had been to Corinth and discipled believers in Corinth before writing their letters. He had been to Thessalonica, to Galatia, to Philippi, and to Ephesus discipling people in all those places before writing to them. Paul knew Timothy, Titus, and Philemon personally. He could have written deep, theological letters to them because he had already taught them the basics.
    Like Rome, Paul had never been to Colossae when he wrote to the Colossians. In his letter to Colossae though, he had full confidence Epaphras had not only taught them the gospel (1:5-7), but had also "firmly rooted," "established," and built- them-up in the faith (2:7). In contrast, Paul told the Romans in 1:11 he wanted to establish them, but had not yet been there (1:13). Even though Prisca and Aquila lived there, Paul displayed no confidence the Romans had learned "the foundation of the apostles."

    If un-discipled believers in Rome could understand Paul's letter, we can too. Perhaps an outline will be helpful? Romans is longer than Paul's other letters, but much easier. Whether you've read Romans before or not, I recommend reading or re-reading it as an entry-level letter to Kingdom newbies:

I. Gospel of the Kingdom 1:1 - 1:4... Jesus is King
II. Greetings 1:5 - 1:15
III. Paul introduces his second topic in 1:16... God uses the gospel of the kingdom to liberate those who believe it.
IV. Paul's first topic 1:17 - 5:11
1:17 The First Main Topic: In the gospel of the kingdom, a righteousness from God is revealed, as coming by faith!
1:18 - 3:20 God is mad for good reasons. There's no point in trying to make Him happy by obeying His rules.
3:21-31 King Jesus purchased our righteousness with His blood.
Chapter 4: God credited Abraham with righteousness based on his belief too.
5:1-11 Paul geeks out about how great all this is!
V. Paul's Second Main Topic: How God uses the gospel of the kingdom to liberate those who believe it.
5:12-21 When King Adam rebelled, Sin and Death took over the planet. But when King Jesus obeyed, God's Generosity (a.k.a. grace) kicked Sin's butt big time. Everyone who believes in Jesus ... wait for it ... r u l e s in this lifetime!
6:1 - 7:6 Baptism joins believers to their King. Since He died, it's as if we died to sin. Since He rose from the dead, it's as if we were raised from the dead too, to live for God alone. So Paul said we should go around considering ourselves dead to sin and alive to God through our King. Paul also said we should offer our bodies to God so He can use our bodies instead of letting Sin use our bodies.
7:7 - 8:39 Sometimes we sin, and that really gets us down. But then we remember we are dead to Sin, and God's Spirit can help us live out that truth!
VI. Paul's Third Main Topic: Did God immorally break His commitment to the Kingdom of Israel when the Kingdom of Jesus started?
9:1-13 First of all, Israel was about more than genetics. Israel always consisted of the individuals whom God identified as believers.
9:14-24 Second, it's not smart to question whether God is good. Everything He does is good. Duhhh.
9:25 - 10:21 For example, God even used Israel's sin to introduce non-Israelis to King Jesus.
11:1-32 He is totally not done with Israel.
11:33-36 Is God awesome or what!?!
VII. Paul Fourth Main Topic: Humility
12:1-2 Paul rephrases the two commands he previously gave in 6:11-13.
12:3-13 We are all just body-parts of Jesus, connected and interdependent. We should each fulfill our roles in the power of God and not self.
12:14 - 13:14 Overcome evil with good like submitting to the pagan government of "Lord Caesar" while clothing yourself with Lord Jesus, the true Ruler of the world.
14:1 - 15:16 Don't look down on believers for their lack of spiritual understanding. Instead serve them lovingly just as King Jesus served even the non-Jews of the world who (in comparison) lacked all spiritual understanding.
VIII. Final Words
15:17-33 Paul explains how and where he has recently labored.
16:1-27 Paul greets many and encourages all.

    No one had laid the "foundation" in Rome before Paul's letter. They had heard about Jesus and believed Him to be the promised "Christ" King of Psalm two, but they did not yet know the foundational implications of His kingship.
    Romans is not a shallow letter, but neither is it a difficult one because Paul would not have written a complex theological treatise to ungrounded believers. In a nutshell, he said:
      - The King provides us righteousness.
      - The King liberated us from Sin's authority.
      - We respond to His atonement by crediting His atonement to ourselves, by presenting ourselves to God, and by living a life of humility.

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"The Easy Book of Romans" by Matthew Bryan was first published at on April 10th, 2014. All rights are reserved.