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Paul's Epistle to the Romans

Chapter 1 (web)

Paul's Credentials to Preach the Gospel

1:1 Paul,
  • a servant of Jesus Christ,
  • called to be an apostle,
  • set apart for the gospel of God,
  • 1:2 which he promised before through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
    1:3 concerning his Son,
    who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh,
    1:4 who was declared to be the Son of God with power,
    according to the Spirit of holiness,
    by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,
    1:5 through whom we received grace and apostleship,
    for obedience of faith among all the nations, for his name's sake;
    1:6 among whom you are also called to belong to Jesus Christ;
    1:7 to all who are in Rome,
  • beloved of God,
  • called to be saints:

  • Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Paul's Desire to Preach the Gospel

    1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you,
    that your faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world.
    1:9 For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of his Son,
    how unceasingly I make mention of you always in my prayers,
    1:10 requesting, if by any means now at last
    I may be prospered by the will of God to come to you.
    1:11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift,
    to the end that you may be established;
    1:12 that is, that I with you may be encouraged in you,
    each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine.
    1:13 Now I don't desire to have you unaware, brothers,
    that I often planned to come to you, and was hindered so far,
    that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles.

    1:14 I am debtor both to Greeks and to foreigners, both to the wise and to the foolish.
    1:15 So, as much as is in me, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

    1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,
    for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes;
    for the Jew first, and also for the Greek.
    1:17 For in it is revealed God's righteousness from faith to faith.
    As it is written, "But the righteous shall live by faith." (Hab 2:4)

    Discussion Questions

    What are some of Paul's credentials that affirm his definition of the gospel
    and his right and responsibility to preach it?
    What event does Paul point out that confirmed Jesus to be the Son of God?
    According to Paul, what are his motives for preaching the gospel?
    Why was Paul not ashamed of the gospel?
    Why would anyone be ashamed of the gospel? (xref Mark 8:38)
    vs 17 It mentions of a righteousness which comes from God.
    Where else do people seek to obtain righteousness from?


    Paul set apart for the Gospel

    Rom 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God

    Jesus Christ personally called Paul to the ministry of the gospel. Jesus said, "This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel." Acts 9:15 And Paul says, "of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher." 2Tim 1:11 He was not called by men, neither by Peter or any other apostle. "Paul, an apostle — sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead." Gal 1:1 Nor did he receive his gospel from the other apostles, but from Jesus Christ directly. "I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ." Gal 1:10

    The Gospel in the Old Testament

    Rom 1:2-4 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

    There are many prophecies of the Messiah, such as Isaiah chapter 53, Psalm 22 and Daniel 9:25,26. But the first was Genesis 3:15 prophecying of one who would be born of a woman and who would destroy the power of the devil.

    Concerning his human nature, Jesus was a descendant of David. While the genealogy of his legal guardian, Joseph, is mentioned in Matthew chapter 1, his physical genealogy from Mary in Luke chapter 3 goes all the way back to Adam. Jesus Christ came in the flesh, having the same human nature that we all share with its flaws. In fact the word for "human nature" here is the Greek word "Sarx", of which out of the 23 times it's used in Romans the NIV translates "sinful nature" 13 times. Thus the saying in Hebrews 4:15 "We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin." For the temptations we suffer as humans are primarily due to our sinful human nature, of which Jesus also shared. Though there are those who deny Christ's human nature, "every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (sarx) is not of God." 1John 4:3a 

    Jesus' resurrection from the dead was his primary credential - the forensic evidence validating his testimony. This fact is mentioned every time the gospel is preached in the Bible. "He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead." Acts 17:31

    Obedience Comes from Faith

    Rom 1:5 Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.

    The reception of the gospel involves both faith and obedience. But it's important to understand the relationship between the two. The obedience he refers to here is that which comes from the faith he is about to preach. Thus faith precedes obedience. This faith does not come from obedience, but rather obedience from faith. This is an important theme in Romans, which teaches us that salvation is by faith, not by works. And since faith precedes obedience, a person is saved prior to any acts of obedience. Nonetheless, it is inevitable that obedience will follow in the steps of the faith that saves, the absence of which would indicate the absence of saving faith.

    When Paul described his ministr to King Agrippa he said, "First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds." Acts 26:20 Deeds are a proof of, not a cause of one's salvation.

    Called to Belong to Christ

    Rom 1:6,7 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

    One aspect of the gospel is that of ownership such that "whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord." Rom 14:8b "So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God." Rom 7:4 Consequently when a person becomes a Christian he is relinquishing ownership of himself.

    One has to be qualified to belong to Jesus Christ. Just as no woman can claim to be someone's wife without marrying him, so also no one can claim to belong to Christ without pledging allegiance to him, relinquishing one's reliance on other sources of salvation. This will be a theme in Romans.

    Paul does not assume his readers belong to Christ, but that they are being called to belong to Christ. He does not assume they are saints, but rather that they are being called to be saints. This is in contrast to some of his other letters in which he speaks of his readers already achieving such a status, like Ephesians, "To the saints in Ephesus" Eph 1:1 And Peter writes, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God" 1Peter 2:9 "For many are called, but few are chosen." Mt 22:14 Thus Romans contains fundament elements of the gospel as a message to the unsaved among the Christian community, as well as fundamental teachings concerning Christian living for those who have just come to belong to Christ.

    Have Public Faith

    Rom 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.

    Despite living in an age absent of the kind of global media we have access to today, these people's faith was being reported all over the world (by which he means the Roman Empire). This first of all implies that they made their faith public. Their beliefs were not a private matter, as some treat their own religious beliefs today. Likewise of the Thessalonians Paul notes, "You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia — your faith in God has become known everywhere. " 1Thess 1:6-8

    Today there are those who keep their faith a private matter in fear of severe suffering much like some in Jesus' day like, "at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue" John 12:42 Many Christians today face persecution and death by anti-Christian religions, Islam being the primary example, and by anti-Christian ideologies, such as in China. That's just part of the Christian life. Such opposition was the case back then and yet they made their faith public, and in fact Jesus and his apostles taught that Christians should expect persecution. Paul says to Timothy, "You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings — what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." 2Tim 3:10-13

    How might you make your faith known? Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." John 12:24-26

    Be Constant in Prayer

    Rom 1:9-12  God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you  in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong — that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith.

    Paul prayed constantly for Christians, both for communities and individuals, as in the case of Timothy. "I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers." 2Tim 1:3  But in contrast to the kinds of prayers and prayer requests you commonly hear today in the Christian community dominated by health and material concerns, Paul's prayers were dominated by spiritual things. (See the study guide of prayers in the New Testament

    Encouragement is a gift which is spiritual. For if you give someone encouragement you're not giving them a material thing but a spiritual thing. It's this kind of thing which was on Paul's mind, discouraging sin and encouraging faith. And it's this kind of thing which should be on our mind when it comes to our practice of generosity. Consider how you may encourage others in the faith - encourage others to apply their faith. "encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." Heb 3:13

    Be Eager to Preach

    Rom 1:13-15 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles. I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.

    Rome was a diverse culture, though primarily composed of slaves. There were Greeks and non-Greeks. There were those reckoned wise and others simple. Much as some view the letter of Romans as difficult to understand, high theology, fact is Paul wrote it to a diverse group of people. People who are not wise should nonetheless be able to understand it as Paul made it inclusive to them.

    Paul was optimistic that his coming to them, indeed this letter itself, will bear fruit. And this kind of optimism is something we should all share in as we seek to do the Lord's work - and in particular with regards to the spread of the gospel. For it is promised, "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." Is 55:10,11 We see this optimism in Paul also in Php 1:22, "If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me."

    Unlike financial investments, which may grow or shrink, there is no down side to investing in the kingdom of God. In this we can all be encouraged to apply our faith.

    The Gospel Saves Believers

    Rom 1:16,17  I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

    Jesus said, "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." Mr 8:38 Paul writes, "So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God." 2Tim 1:8 And "do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." 2Tim 2:15

    For there are those who are reluctant to communicate the gospel for fear of shame. And there are those who tinker with the gospel, fabricating their own gospel, being ashamed of the content of the gospel. And in this age there are those who simply replace the gospel with their own personal testimony. But it is in the gospel that God's righteousness is revealed. The gospel is about God's way of man being reconciled to him in view of his unrighteous status.

    God's way is not man's way. The average person, when asked how they expect to get to heaven, if indeed they believe that much, would make up their own way. But God has spoken in the Bible and has revealed His way of man becoming righteous. People often make it a matter of personal performance, but Paul later writes, "no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." Rom 3:20-22

    Faith is central as the sole requirement for salvation. Consequently rituals like infant baptism, or works that you perform, like obeying the 10 commandments, do not save. "The righteous will live by faith" is quoted from Hab 2:4, and is also quoted in Galatians 3:11, "Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, 'The righteous will live by faith.'" And Heb 10:38 "my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him." The sense in which he's interpreting Hab 2:4 here is that the righeous will have eternal life by believing the gospel.

    "from first to last" is literally "from faith to faith". For it takes faith to preach the gospel, and it takes faith to believe it. So the faith is passed on from generation to generation through believers. Though some have a misconception about how the church propagates historically, it is not by force, genetics, traditions, or rituals, but rather it is by people of faith preaching the gospel and the next spiritual generation hearing and believing the gospel by faith. Such has been the case from the first to the last.

    The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

    Jan 28,2022