We are studying Romans 1:8-17 for Sunday, July 11 – a text that comes almost at the beginning of Romans, as the beginning of a series of four lessons from the book of Romans. [Some notes on the text are here.] Here are some questions we might want to ask ourselves or discuss in class:
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What do we already know about the letter to the Romans? Where have we learned all that? What role has the letter to the Romans played in our lives so far? How will all of that influence our study of this text, do we think?
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What is Paul saying to the Romans about their faith in verses 8-15, do we think? What does he say that seems to tell us that?

How would we ourselves feel, or what would we think, if someone sent this message to us? Why?

What does Paul seem to be saying about “faith” in general? What does he say that seems to tell us that?
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Does Paul seem to be saying anything about himself in verses 8-15? What? Again, what does he say that seems to tell us that?

How would we ourselves feel, or what would we think, if we were expecting a visit from the author of these verses? Why?
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Why do we think Paul makes a point of saying he is not “ashamed” of the gospel?

What does he seem to be saying about the gospel? That is: what does it seem to include, for Paul? How does it seem to work?

How does what Paul is saying about “the gospel” seem to fit, or not, with what we mean when we say “the gospel”? What thoughts or feelings does that give us? Why?
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Overall, it seems worthwhile to think about whether we can learn something new from this text this time through, considering that we are probably very familiar with the book of Romans from Bible studies past, and sermons past, and may feel we “already know” it. Since it’s a letter, we may want to try to put ourselves in the position of hearing it as a letter, as best we can, and think about what impact this opening would have on us as recipients of this letter. Paul’s first audience would have known something about “the gospel,” but may still have had something new to learn from Paul. We may actually be in that position ourselves.
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Image: “Am Mittagstisch,” an image by Hermann Groeber [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons,