Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 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, 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, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
- Paul was a servant of Christ Jesus.
- Paul was called to be an apostle .
- Paul was set apart for the gospel.
- Paul was set apart for a gospel which God had previously promised.
- God had promised the gospel through His prophets and in Holy Scriptures.
- The gospel was about Jesus Christ.
- Jesus is the Son of God.
- Jesus was biologically descended from David.
- Jesus was declared to be the Son of God.
- Jesus was powerfully declared to be the Son of God.
- Jesus was declared to be the Son of God by His resurrection for the dead.
- Jesus was declared to be the Son of God according to the Spirit.
- Paul received grace and apostleship through Jesus Christ.
- Paul received grace and apostleship to bring about obedience of faith.
- Paul received grace to bring about obedience for the sake of Jesus name among all nations.
- “All nations” included to whom the letter is addressed
- The letter is addressed to those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
- The letter is written to those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints.
- The letter was written to Christians.
- Paul thanked God daily for the faith of the Christians in Rome.
- Paul thanked God through Jesus Christ.
- The faith of the Roman Christians was known throughout the world.
- The faith of the Roman Christians was talked about throughout the world.
- Paul served God with his spirit in the gospel Jesus.
- Paul prayed for the Romans Christians continually.
- God was Paul’s witness that he prayed for the Roman Christians continually.
- Paul asked God continually that he be allowed to go to Roman.
- Paul wanted to see the Christian Romans badly.
- Paul wanted to see the Christian Romans so that he could give them a spiritual gift.
- The spiritual gift Paul wanted to give the Romans is one that would strengthen them.
- Paul wanted to see the Christian Romans so they could encourage each other’s faith.
- Paul had intended to go to Rome several times.
- Paul wanted the Christian Romans to know that he had intended to go to Rome several times.
- To that point, Paul had been prevented from going to Rome.
- Paul wanted to go to Rome so he could reap a harvest among the Romans.
- Paul had an obligation to both Greeks and barbarians.
- Paul had an obligation to both those who were wise and those who were foolish.
- Paul was anxious to preach the gospel to those in Rome as he had done elsewhere.
Paul was called to be an apostle. The office of apostle was not something Paul sought nor was it something he presumptuously assigned to himself. He was called to that office by God Himself. As such Paul and his words carry apostolic authority. As an apostle he was also a teacher. Anyone who holds the office of teacher is Christ’s servants. Paul calls himself both a servant and an apostle. As a servant he is like you and me, servants to God. But as an apostle, he exceeds all other teachers in authority.
In the opening of Romans Paul summarizes the gospel. The gospel was not something that just appeared. It was foretold long ago. It was foretold by the prophets. They wrote about it in the Holy Scriptures. All of biblical history was about the coming for Jesus the Christ. The prophets foretold about his birth. The Christ would be from the line of David biologically. And He is the Son of God. Jesus declared His divinity with power by His resurrection from the dead. Notice Paul says Jesus demonstrated his Sonship by resurrection “from the dead” not “dearly dead” or “mostly dead,” but from “all dead.” Just as that great theologian Miracle Max in the Princess Bride said, “There is a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.” Jesus was all dead. He demonstrated his divinity by raising himself from the “all dead,” not “mostly dead.” Therefore, Jesus was both man and God. We have received grace to bring obedience of faith. Not for our sakes for the sake of His name. Just as Paul was called we are called to belong to Jesus Christ. It is not something we seek. It is not something we can assign to ourselves. It is grace. Grace is defined as something given that is undeserved.
Paul says, “… we have received grace and apostleship.” Who are the “we?” Paul to this point in the letter has not introduced anyone else. And in fact he does not talk about his being accompanied by anyone else. By “we,” did he mean, he Paul and the addressees of the letter? This reading might be re-enforced grammatically by the last part of the sentence where he says, “including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.” But this is an awkward reading. It is more natural and grammatically sound to say the “including you” refers to what immediately proceeded it, “all nations.” So it might read “… to bring obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, and that means you too.” So who are the “we?” I referred to several commentators, including those who have major theological differences. They all agree “we” refers to Paul and the other apostles.
As an apostle it was Paul’s duty to preach the word of God. It is our duty to hear it and obey it. The chief act of disobedience is unbelief. Like the Romans, we too have a call. We are called to be saints. That is we are called to be holy, sanctified and pure.
Paul points out that he had never been to Rome and wanted to go there. He had not taught the gospel to the Romans. But he had heard about their faith. Their faith was spoken of throughout the Roman Empire, which was the entire world in Paul’s day. Therefore, Paul is writing to believers in Christ. He is not writing to correct a false doctrine. He is not writing to admonish them. Paul’s letter is to teach them as if he were there with them.
The first thing that Paul does is to attempt to place the Romans in a teachable state of mind. He tells them he is thankful for them. He comments on their faith. Their faith is spoken of throughout the world.
Next Paul let them know he cares about them. He has tried to come to them to teach them. And that he may be strengthened by them. Together, they could strengthen each other’s faith. He further demonstrates his love for them by consistency of prayer for them and for their welfare.
Yet even with Paul’s desire to serve Christ in Rome he was prevented for going to Rome. He was frustrated in His attempt to serve Christ the way he thought would best. God had other plans. Paul however knew that it was his duty to spread the gospel. He was anxious to fulfill God’s calling as far as he was allowed to do so by the Lord.
The book of Romans is a great gift. If you are like me and wish you could like to have sat under the teaching of Paul, this book will allow you to do that. The book of Romans describes what he taught. Studying this book is like taking Paul’s home study course in theology. As we study this book together pray with me that God will open our minds and our heart to what He has to say and that we (that is you and me) will be willing make changes to what we believe to match what God has revealed.
Let us learn to rest in Christ. Even if our motives are pure we may not be allowed to serve the Lord as we desire. We may not understand why we are prevented from serving the Lord in a particular way. We may find it frustrating. But be at peace in the Lord. He is Lord. We are His servants. Pray, “Your will be done.” Just as Paul did when he was unable to go to Rome.