For those in the Williamsburg, Virginia area, you might be interested in an Adult Bible Class held at the Williamsburg Community Chapel, 9:30am – 10:40am, during the winter term of 2016, where we will be taking a “deep dive” into the Apostle Paul’s arguably greatest letter, the Book of Romans. Our church recently spent 10-weeks going through the first eight chapters of Romans. But frankly, Romans is filled with so many riches and questions that I thought it would be great to give an opportunity for folks to get together and dig deep into this most remarkable and influential book of the Bible. The course description:
Still not getting Romans? Have a lot of questions? Get ready to dive deep into Paul’s Letter to the Romans, and explore where church history, apologetics, and theology meet. An in-depth look into Paul’s greatest letter of the New Testament, paying particular attention to how the truths in Romans can be applied in a society today that is becoming increasingly indifferent to the Christian message.
Here is a very rough schedule of topics for the weeks ahead, subject to change (Room 156, most weeks):
- January 10: Introduction to Romans
- January 17: Romans 1:1-17. Paul’s Thesis for the Letter.
- January 24 (location TBA): Romans 1:16-17. How Paul Uses the Old Testament.
- January 31 (location TBA): Romans 1:18-2:5. Natural vs. Special Revelation.
- February 7: Romans 1:26-27. Same-Sex Attraction and a Christian Response.
- February 14: Romans 2:6-29. Judgment by Works.
- February 21: Romans 3. The Righteousness of God and Justification.
- February 28: Romans 4. The Example of Abraham.
A student in the first class this past week asked a very interesting question: So why was “Saul’s” name changed to “Paul”? Is there any significance in his name change? (Acts 13:4-12 ESV)
Well, the answer is, quite simply, we do not know for sure. Throughout the Bible, there have been incidents of name changes that reflect drastic changes in someone’s life, such as when “Abram” became “Abraham” in Genesis. In Paul’s case, his given Jewish name was “Saul.” However, Saul was also a Roman citizen, so by virtue of his Roman pedigree, he was also given a Roman name, “Paul.” Mosts scholars agree that Paul eventually adopted the name “Paul” exclusively as part of his calling to be an apostle to the Gentiles. Since Paul did not want to put up any unnecessary barriers in building relationships with the Gentiles, he opted to forgo using his Jewish name, Saul, when meeting new friends in his Gentile audiences. Paul’s sensitivity towards the cultural differences among the Gentiles helped to further his objective to break down the wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile, perhaps the greatest concern expressed in his letter to the Roman Christian community (For a rough timeline of Paul’s life, with approximate dates for his letters, consult this graph from the Blue Letter Bible).