Romans 1

Romans 1:1

Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,

(a) Paul. Paul’s Jewish name was Saul, but in his letter to the Romans he uses his Roman name (Acts 13:9). The name Paulus or Paul means little, which is an apt name for someone who understood that God chooses the least, the last, and the weakest to display his glory (1 Cor. 1:27).

(b) Bond-servant. In several of his letters Paul introduces himself as a bondservant of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:1, Gal. 1:10, Tit. 1:1). Peter (2 Pet. 1:1), James (Jas. 1:1), and Jude (Jude 1:1) did the same and Epaphras was also known as a bondservant of Christ (Col. 4:12). This has led to confusion among some believers. Am I a son or servant of God?

Jesus, the Son of God, took the form of a bondservant (Php. 2:7). He was not confused about his identity, but he was servant-hearted (Mark 10:45). He is the Son who serves.

Similarly, when the apostles identify themselves as servants of Christ, they are saying, “We are the sons of God who serve in the manner in which Christ served,” meaning they served others (2 Cor. 4:5). They did not serve to curry favor with God, but to reveal the Servant-king to people. “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, so that I may win more” (1 Cor. 9:19).

It’s the same with us. Although we are free in Christ, we choose to serve in the name of Christ so that the orphans and slaves of this world might come to know their Father who loves them. Like Christ, we are the sons who serve.

Further reading: “Son, servant, or friend of God?

(c) An apostle; see entry for 1 Cor. 1:1.

(d) Set apart. Paul was set apart or separated for the gospel. Once upon a time, Paul had been a Pharisee or a “separated one.” As a Pharisee, he was separated for the law of God. But as a believer, he was separated for the gospel that reveals the grace of God.

(e) The gospel of God. In the first sentence of his most important letter, Paul introduces himself and his message, which is the gospel of God. This gospel concerns Jesus (Rom. 1:3) which is why Paul sometimes refers to it as the gospel of his Son (Rom. 1:9) and the gospel of Christ (Rom. 15:19). Since Jesus reveals the grace of God, Paul also refers to his gospel as the gospel of grace (Acts 20:24). Paul was eager to preach the gospel to those in Rome (Rom. 1:15).

Romans 1:2

Which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,

The gospel of God reveals the Savior foretold by the prophets. All the promises of God receive their emphatic fulfilment in the Son, Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). A gospel that doesn’t reveal the Son of God is no gospel at all.

Romans 1:3-4

Concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,

(a) Concerning his Son. The gospel of God concerns or reveals the Son of God, for there is no other way to the Father than through the Son (John 14:6).

(b) A descendant of David. The Jews believed that the Messiah would come from the line of King David (Matt. 22:42). Jesus was the fulfilment of that belief (2 Tim. 2:8).

(c) Declared the Son of God with power. Jesus was both human and divine, a descendent of David and the Son of God.

(d) The resurrection, which was a stumbling stone for the religious Jews and foolishness for the Gentiles (1 Cor. 1:23), lay at the heart of Paul’s gospel, for without it the good news is no good at all (1 Cor. 15:19). A Jesus who died and rose again is a Jesus who saves.

Further reading: “Which Jesus are you trusting?

Romans 1:7

To all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(a) Beloved of God. The original word (agapetos) means dearly loved, esteemed, favorite and worthy of love. It is closely related to a verb (agapao) that means to be well pleased or fond of or contented. This word captures God’s heart for you. Your heavenly Father is fond of you. You are his esteemed favorite and he is well pleased with you. He looks at you with a feeling of deep contentment knowing that you are his dearly loved child.

God the Father referred to Jesus as beloved (see entry for Matt. 3:17) and this term was used by all the epistle writers to describe believers (Rom. 1:7, 12:19, 16:5, 1 Cor. 4:14, 10:14, 15:58, 2 Cor. 7:1, 12:19, Eph. 5:1, Php. 2:12, 4:1, Col. 1:7, 4:7, 9, 14, 1 Th. 2:8, 2 Tim. 1:2, Phm. 1:1, 2, 16, Heb. 6:9, Jas. 1:16, 19, 2:5, 1 Pet. 2:11, 4:12, 2 Pet. 3:1, 8, 14, 15, 17, 1 John 2:7, 3:2, 21, 4:1, 7, 11, 3 John 1:1, 2, 5, 11, Jude 1:1, 3, 17, 20).

(b) Called as saints. You are not a forgiven sinner but a saint. Throughout the New Testament, Christians are known as saints (Eph. 1:1, Col. 1:2). Sanctified in Christ, Christians are a holy priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5). Further reading: “If we’re holy, why does God call us to be holy?

(c) Grace to you. The apostle of grace begins all of his letters with this gracious salutation. The grace or unmerited favor of God lay at the heart of everything Paul wrote.

(d) And peace from God. Since the Fall of man, people have hidden from a God they perceive as angry. As sinners we were alienated from God and hostile in our minds (Col. 1:21), but any enmity is from our side alone. Our Father’s heart is always for our peace. Peace is more than the cessation of hostilities. It is a state of quietness and rest, security and prosperity.

(e) God our Father. Jesus came to reveal a God who loves us like a Father and the epistle writers echoed this theme. Paul referred to God as Father more than forty times in his epistles. See entry for John 17:23.

Romans 1:16

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.

Salvation to everyone who believes. All of God’s blessings, including forgiveness, salvation, righteousness and sanctification, come to us freely by grace and are received by faith. Faith does not compel God to forgive us or sanctify us. But faith is the conduit through which grace flows. See entry for Eph. 2:8.

Romans 1:17

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”

(a) The righteousness of God can be contrasted with the righteousness of man (see entry for Matt. 6:33).

(b) From faith to faith. The gospel reveals a righteousness which comes from God and is received by faith (see entry for Php. 3:9).

(c) The righteous man is anyone who has been made right with God by receiving, through faith, the free gift of righteousness. See entry for Righteousness.

Romans 1:18

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

Who suppress the truth. In the new covenant, faith is described as a rest (Rom. 4:5, Heb. 4:3), while unbelief is described in terms of actions and verbs.

Unbelief is rejecting Jesus (John 3:36) and denying the Lord (Jude 1:4). It’s thrusting away the word of God and judging yourself unworthy of life (Acts 13:46). It’s suppressing the truth (Rom. 1:18) and delighting in wickedness (2 Th. 2:12). It’s turning away (Heb. 12:25), going astray (2 Pet. 2:15), and trampling the Son of God underfoot (Heb. 10:29).

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