romans glossary

People

Paul

A  1st century Jewish Pharisee, member of the Sanhedrin and antagonist of the early followers of Jesus as the Messiah. On the way to Damascus to arrest Christians, he had an encounter with the risen Jesus who gave him a specific calling as the apostle to the Gentiles. A missionary to the Mediterranean region, planting many churches in metropolitan areas around the Roman Empire and writer of the majority of the New Testament through recorded letters he sent to churches in the region.

Adam

The Hebrew word for “man” as well as  “humanity”. Adam is also the name given to the first man described in Genesis. He, along with his wife Eve, together bear the image of God. As image bearers, they were to tend the garden of God and stand as representatives of God to all of creation. Instead of showing the world what God was like, they failed by eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil which brought sin and death into God’s good creation, separating heaven and earth, God and humanity, and humanity from each other. Used in the Scriptures as a “type,” the representation of the failure of humanity to bear the image of God. 

Abraham

The father of the Hebrew nation - all Jews regard themselves as his descendants, a special people chosen by God. Called by God in Genesis 12 to leave his father’s family and go to the land of Canaan.  Made a covenant with God through which God promised to make him a father of nations, to give his chosen family a land and to someday rescue all the nations through him and his chosen family. Husband of Sarah, father of Isaac, the promised son, and Ismael, the son of Sarah’s servant Hagar. 

David

The anointed king of Israel who was promised by God to always have a descendant on the throne. The promised Messiah - "anointed one" and true King of Israel -  would come through his line. Chosen to replace Saul, the first king of Israel, after Saul’s disobedience and anointed king by Samuel. United all the tribes of Israel into one nation and established Jerusalem as the capital city. Brought the ark of the covenant back to the people of Israel and was given the promise that his son, Solomon, would build the temple where the presence of God would dwell in the land of Israel.

Jesus

The second member of the Triune God. God putting on the flesh of humanity and the truest and clearest image of the essence of the creator God.  In his humanity, a first century Jewish man, descended from the royal line of David, born in Bethlehem to an unwed mother and her betrothed and raised in Nazareth. As an adult, he took up the vocation of an itinerant rabbi, gathered followers called disciples and proclaimed that the kingdom of God promised to the family of Abraham in the Old Testament had arrived in him. Arrested as a revolutionary for claiming the title of Messiah, or anointed King of the Jews, and crucified by the Roman government. Resurrected on the first day of the week and ascended to the right hand of the Father. Promised to return and fully reunite heaven and earth, resurrect humanity into new humanity and restore God’s good creation to the way it was intended to be. Fulfills the promise of Genesis 3 that a seed of the woman would crush the head of the snake, the promise to Abraham that through his family all the nations of the earth would be blessed and the promise to David that his descendant would always sit on the throne of Israel. The second Adam, the true human one whose life, death and resurrection provides the way for salvation, redemption and adoption for all who put their faith in him. 

Phoebe

Wealthy gentile woman from Cenchreae commissioned by Paul to deliver his letter to the Roman church. She is described by Paul as a “sister” and a “deacon (diakonos - servant) of the church.” Benefactor - patron - of Paul and others. As the courier of the letter, she would have also been the one most likely to read and expound on the letter to the Roman churches. The name Phoebe means light. She truly was the one bringing the light to the Gentiles.