The Epistle to the Romans is the mid-winter Bible study book for Southern Baptists. It could possibly be the best Bible study pastors will ever do for their people.
I want to make our readers aware of a couple of things here, particularly for those who will be studying this incredible book or even teaching it.
1. For many years, I have prepared a series of cartoons to accompany the annual Bible study book. I’m working on the ones for Romans right now, and hope to have them ready to post on our website within a week. I’ll be visiting with my Mom in North Alabama Friday-Tuesday and plan to take along my study/drawing materials and see if I can put together 20 or more cartoons. Then, we’ll send them to Marty in North Carolina and as he can, he’ll enlist the help of 10-year-old Darilyn and post them on the blog for your use.
My old friend Dr. John “Bud” Traylor, now living in Baton Rouge and teaching “Romans” everywhere it seems, has already been after me to get these cartoons done!
2. Having pastored for over four decades and having studied/taught “Romans” through the years, I have some insights to share on the epistle which should be of help to anyone planning to teach it. So, we’ll be posting “Joe’s notes on Romans” alongside the cartoons.
3. If you plan to teach Romans sometime this winter, whether in a three or four session setting or to preach a series of sermons through it, I have one huge suggestion to make. Right now, while your “pupils” still have time to prepare, get them to reading through Romans. And while you’re at it, you need to do it yourself.
Somewhere I read that the great Bible teaching pastor G. Campbell Morgan said he never began to teach a book of the Bible until he had read it through forty-two times. I’m fairly sure that was the number he mentioned.
I have a suggestion on how to read through Romans: do it at one sitting. Don’t stop to get out and see the sights or walk around in the neighborhood, just keep reading. At this point, don’t get hung up on verses you find difficult or the parts you find yourself savoring. Just read the entire book.
There! That wasn’t so bad, was it. Now that you’ve shown yourself you can read all 16 chapters at one setting without straining your brain, do it again within two or three days.
And then, after at least two full readings at a time, now go back and read it slowly. You might want to take a segment at the time. What segment?
4. Romans divides real easily. Really. Nothing complicated about the way it opens up. I think of a hot yeast roll fresh from the oven; it naturally opens up at the folds. Now, you can take a sharp knife and slice it anyway you please, but the effect is unnatural. When we come to study a book like Romans, anything we can do to keep it simple, let’s do it!
Chapter 1 — The Gospel
Chapter 1:18 thru 3:20– Sin (The problem)
Chapter 3:21 thru chapter 8 — Salvation (God’s remedy)
Chapter 9, 10, and 11 — Jews (God’s first people)
Chapter 12 thru chapter 16 — Church (God’s family)
And that’s it.
5. Romans works on every level. Those who are spiritual children just beginning to learn the message of the Bible can find a lot to love in this epistle. And the older believers who have spent their lives delving into the riches of Scripture will be challenged to their limits.
The biggest challenge may be for the one teaching Romans to connect with both the newcomers to the faith (or newcomers to serious Bible learning) and the veterans. So, begin now to pray for the teachers!
6. From time to time, we urge readers to leave comments at the end of these articles. And often, I’ll bump into readers who say, “I don’t have anything to add.” Well, this time you will. As you read our comments on Romans and as you look at the cartoons, we want your comments, your insights, even your differences of opinion, and your questions.
7. The “notes” I’ll be leaving on this website will not attempt at all to be an exhaustive (boy, that’s the word for it!) commentary on all 16 chapters of Romans. That’s been done far better than I could ever try. We don’t need to re-invent the wheel here. The notes will be some connections and insights which are important to me, and thus might be to you.
I’ll call it “Ten Things to Know About Romans.”
I grant you, this won’t be as exciting as rooting for your favorite team playing for the conference championship, but it will be eminently more satisfying in the long run. Plus, we’ll all end up as winners, and not just one team!