Romans 1-3 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, set apart for the gospel of God

From Romans 1-3

Paul the apostlePaul introduces himself, his calling and his gospel to the Roman audience. How would you introduce yourself?

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

Today we start the epistles. These are letters written by the apostles to first century church audiences. These audiences consisted primarily of believers (e.g. Rom 1.8), but also with the occasional non-believing visitor (e.g. 1 Cor 14.23-25). The apostles adopted a different mindset when speaking to believers than they did non-believers (e.g. the apostles sermons in Acts). The letter of Romans was written by Paul to the churches at Rome.

Paul begins the letter describing the gospel.

1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. (Rom 1.1-6)

Although it has been popularly assumed Paul’s name was changed when he converted from Judaism to Christianity, it is not the case. His Jewish name was “Saul”, perhaps after the biblical King Saul, a fellow Benjamite and the first king of Israel. The book of Acts says he inherited Roman citizenship from his father. As a Roman citizen, he also bore the Latin name of “Paul” (Acts 16:37; 22:25-28). It was quite usual for the Jews of that time to have two names, one Hebrew, the other Latin or Greek.

Paul says the gospel was promised beforehand through the prophets in the Holy Scriptures. Paul’s gospel is ‘according to the scriptures’ (1 Cor 15.3,4). The gospel is God’s gospel. Paul is not preaching another god. The gospel he preaches comes from the God of the Old Testament. The God of the Jews, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The one true God.

How do you think the Old Testament promises and prophecies predict Jesus’ person, ministry, death and resurrection?

In addition to this, Paul says the gospel concerns God’s Son. Its not purely about God the father or the Old Testament. The gospel concerns God’s Son – Jesus, the Christ. Descended from King David. Jesus is the promised Jewish messiah (2 Tim 2.8).

Jesus became incarnate. He is the Son of God and of a human mother. On his first coming he lived a short life, doing good, healing and teaching many. He displayed his authority over creation, the law and people. He was crucified by his enemies and for our sins. But he was raised from the dead on the third day.

His resurrection in power made it known he is the Son of God. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.

Remember again, Paul is an apostle – set apart for the gospel of God. In other locations Paul refers to his ministry and obligation to preach the gospel as the grace given him (e.g. 1 Cor 15.10). Likewise here he associates grace and apostleship together (Rom 1.5)

Paul remains under obligation to preach the gospel. This includes the people of Rome.

14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Rom 1.14-17)

Words for believers

Timeline - Believer with gospel
Click to enlarge

The audience in Rome consisted of Jewish and Gentile believers. They have already heard the gospel (Rom 1.6,8). That’s how they came to believe Jesus is the risen Christ.

We are reminded in the opening lines of Romans the gospel;

  • Was preached by Paul
  • Is From God
  • Concerns God’s Son
  • Is predicted in the Old Testament
  • About Jesus, who was descended from David
  • Paul’s vocation and obligation

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.