Romans 1: 1 – 7 Introduction

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:

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

There’s a lot of detail in this opening passage, and it’s densely packed. It’s all too easy to say, “Oh it’s just the introduction,” and skim over it. However, it sets the whole tone of the epistle, so I shall slow down and ask a few questions.

Who is writing the letter? “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus.”

Most epistles start by naming the sender in this way.  

What are his qualifications for writing? Paul says he has been “called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God”.

We know the story of Paul’s call to be an apostle from The Acts of the Apostles 9: 1 – 30, which wasn’t written until about 90 AD. The epistle to the Romans was written about thirty years earlier than that; the story of Paul’s conversion must have been well-known across the early church. One of the things that has surprised me from my bible reading is the degree to which people and information moved across the Roman Empire.

As well as being an apostle, Paul says he has been “set apart for the gospel of God”. Nothing matters to him except the gospel he has been commissioned to spread. Looked at through the eyes of someone in the twenty-first century, Paul’s whole identity depends upon the truth of his message. In human terms, this perhaps makes him an unreliable witness.

What is the subject of his epistle? “…the gospel of God – the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son”.

Paul is writing about the good news, the gospel, of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, a gospel that Paul tells us was promised by God through prophets, whose prophecy was recorded in the Hebrew scriptures.

Who does Paul say is God’s Son? “…who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.”  

Paul seems to be saying that it was only at the resurrection of Jesus that he was appointed “the Son of God in power”. As I study this epistle, I shall try to stay alert to discover something of what Paul means by this. At first sight it is very different from the theology of John (“In the beginning was the word…”)

What is Paul’s authority, or his commission? “Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.”

Paul always feels the need to emphasise that, although he didn’t know Jesus during his earthly ministry, he had nevertheless received his calling to be an apostle direct from Jesus.

Who are Paul’s readers? “And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:”

The original readers were the early Christian church in Rome. Since then it has been included in the bible, and many millions of believers have read it. It is addressed to all of us.

How does Paul greet his readers? Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

That is a wonderful greeting. I pray that all who read this blog post may receive “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Prayer

Heavenly Father

Thank you for helping begin to study Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. I’m finding it difficult. Please give me the strength to continue, so that I may learn more about you and about Jesus, in whose name I pray.

Amen.

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: