“This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News.” Romans 1:1
Paul was the writer of the letter to Romans. In ancient days, the writer of a letter started the letter with their name. But there would have been many men named Paul in that day, so the writer had to further identify himself and convince the readers that he had the right to send the letter. I believe that God chose the right man to write this letter. In order to receive all that Paul is telling us in this letter, we need to understand Paul and his life. So, we are going to start our study with a lesson on Paul.
The first picture of Paul is not a petty picture. We first meet Paul when he was called Saul. The man looked more like a terrorist than a devout follower of Judaism. To our horror, the blood of the first martyr splattered across Saul’s clothes while he stood nodding in agreement, an accomplice to a vicious crime. Stephen was this first martyr. Stephen was a young Christian living in Jerusalem, he was described as full of grace and power, who spoke with Spirit-anointed wisdom and whose countenance shone on his face as an angel. The Sanhedrin despised Stephen because he took a strong stand for Christ. They refused to sit any longer and listen to his praise for God. In a rage they drove him out into the street and they stoned him to death. Saul was an important member of the Sanhedrin. He felt that this new way of Jesus Christ was not true and he was going to take care of all the followers of this way. He hated the name of Jesus. So much so, he became a self-avowed, violent aggressor, persecuting and killing Christians in allegiance to God in heaven or so he thought. Shocking though it may seem, we must never forget that Satan was the one that was fighting so hard against Jesus. The better we understand the darkness of his past, the more we will understand his gratitude for grace. More on Saul in the next devotion.