To kick off our Fall/Winter study of the book of Romans, let’s first take a look at the book as a whole in this ‘Introduction to Romans.’ Bear with me as I concede to the teacher in me who likes to organize based on the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How outline 🙂
The book of Romans was written by a man originally named Saul. Saul was evidently of at least somewhat high political standing in Jerusalem at about the time that Jesus died and rose again. In Acts 7, Luke writes that the Sanhedrin (Jewish council) stoned Stephen, a professing Christian who was moved by the Holy Spirit to openly proclaim the gospel, while Saul stood by. Act 8:1 from the King James Version (KJV) states that “Saul was consenting unto his death.”
Later, Saul ventured to Damascus to continue persecuting Christians and take them back to Jerusalem as prisoners. On his way, Jesus himself appeared to Saul in a bright light that blinded him. Jesus spoke right to Saul, asking “Why are you persecuting me?” Jesus told him to go into Damascus where he would be told what to do.
Meanwhile, Jesus spoke to the disciple Ananias in a vision, telling him to lay hands of Saul to regain his sight. Jesus said of Saul, “This man is My chosen instrument to take My name to the Gentiles, kings, and the Israelites.” Ananias listened to the Lord and laid hands on Saul who immediately received his sight back when “something like scales fell from his eyes.” Saul was baptized and received the Holy Spirit.
Click here to read more about the conversion of Saul in Acts Chapter 9.
The Bible doesn’t say much about the changing of Saul’s name to Paul, unlike some other name changes that occur because God said so (Abram to Abraham, for example). All that is mentioned is that Saul was also called Paul (Acts 13:9). Paul was a Gentile name, a Roman name, which probably made him much more approachable to many of the people he was trying to speak to and reach.
Long story short, Paul wrote the letter was call “The Book of Romans” to the Gentile (non-Jewish) Churches in Rome.