Read Romans 1:1-17. Note: by default all scripture links are to the NABRE. The summary below is divided into two parts (1:1-15 & 1:16-17).
INSCRIPTION AND GREETING; ST. PAUL THANKS GOD FOR THE FAITH OF THE ROMAN CHRISTIANS
A Summary of Romans 1:1-15~To begin a letter with a salutation or greeting of the writer to the one written to was an invariable rule in ancient times. Sometimes these inscriptions developed the titles and credentials of the writer; sometimes those of the person or people addressed. St. Paul also observes this custom in his Epistles. The introductory part, however, of the Pauline letters usually consists of two members: the inscription or salutation, and an act of thanksgiving to God for the benefits conferred on the Church to which he is writing. The Introduction to the present Epistle (Rom 1:1-15) is an illustration of this customaryopening.
As St. Paul had not been in any sense, either directly or indirectly, the founder of the Church in Rome, and was unknown to the majority of its members, he thought it needful to preface this letter with a most solemn and unusually long inscription (Rom 1:1-7) which would explain to the Roman Christians why he was writing to them, and why he could dare to speak with so much authority. Hence in verse Rom 1:1 he indicates his Apostolic charge, his duty as a messenger of Christ; in Rom 1:2-4 he directs attention to the dignity and gravity of the Gospel preaching, because of its divine origin and sublime subject-matter; and in Rom 1:5-6 he refers to the universality of his Apostolate which embraces also the Romans. The inscription is terminated (Rom 1:7) with the usual prayer for grace and peace in behalf of those to whom the Epistle is directed.
The second part of the Introduction (Rom 1:8-15) is an act of thankfulness to God for the faith of the Romans, which was celebrated in all the world (Rom 1:8). Paul’s good will toward them is manifest from his unceasing prayers in their behalf, and from his long cherished desire to see them (Rom 1:9-13). This desire to visit the Roman Christians, he says, came from his vocation, which made him a debtor to all men, and which, consequently, constrained him to wish to preach the Gospel to the Romans also (Rom 1:14-15).
THE THEME OF THE EPISTLE
A Summary of Romans 1:16-17~In these two verses St. Paul proposes the theme which he intends to develop in this Epistle, namely, that justification comes from faith in Christ, and not from the works of the Law. Being the Apostle of the Gentiles, and a debtor to all by reason of his vocation, he is not ashamed of the Gospel, but ready to announce it also to the Romans; for it is Gods power for producing salvation everywhere. See Part 4 of the Introduction you received. (since this is only a sample lesson you have not yet received the introductory material).
For Further Study and Discussion
Helpful Information and a Suggestion to All. In his letters St Paul sometimes uses the opening address (e.g. Rom 1:1-7) and, almost always the prayer of thanksgiving (e.g., Rom 1:8-15) to highlight certain themes he will be dealing with in the body of the letter. Read this footnote to Romans 1:1-7 in the NABRE and on a slip of paper list the the major themes it identifies. Consult the various footnotes to verses 8-15 and do the same. Use this slip of paper as a bookmark and consult it often as you read through Romans (or, better, keep a notebook).
Lectionary Link:Part of today’s reading (Rom 1:1-7) is read on the 3rd Sunday of Advent, Year A, in conjunction with Isaiah 7:10-14 and Matt 1:18-24. What is a major theme connecting these three readings?
1 Points to Ponder~Slave/Service. (Rom 1:1): The theme of slavery/service looms large in this letter. How did St Paul act as servant/slave of Jesus Christ on behalf of others (see Rom 1:8-15; 15:14-33. What are some of the ways in which we are called upon to serve the Lord and our fellow man? One may wish to read Rom 6:5-7:6; 12:9-21; 13:1-9; 15:7-13.
2 Points to Ponder~Obedience (Rom 1:5): “The obedience of faith” (Rom 13:26 see Rom 1:5; 2 Cor 10:5-6) “is to be given to God who reveals, an obedience by which man commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals,” and freely assenting to the truth revealed by Him. To make this act of faith, the grace of God and the interior help of the Holy Spirit must precede and assist, moving the heart and turning it to God, opening the eyes of the mind and giving “joy and ease to everyone in assenting to the truth and believing it.” To bring about an ever deeper understanding of revelation the same Holy Spirit constantly brings faith to completion by His gifts. (Vat. II., Dog. Const. on Div. Rev., 5).