SALUTATION & PROLOGUE
Before we start with the concept of an apostle, let us take a step back and say something about the name “Paul.” When he is first introduced in the book of Acts, his name is not “Paul” but rather “Saul.” It has been customary to think that Paul CHANGED his name from its original “Saul” to “Paul” so that he could better identify with the Gentiles (Saul is a Hebrew name, while Paul is a Latin name). However, I do not believe that this is completely the case.
In the days in which Paul lived, all Roman citizens had THREE names.
1. Praenomen - an individual name given at birth.
2. Nomen - a tribal name. In
3. Cognomen. At first, the cognomen was given as a family nickname, usually referring to some outstanding feature in the individual. Here are a few examples...
All Roman citizens possessed three names. Here are a few well-known examples...
• Gaius Julius Caesar
• Publius Cornelius Scipio
• Lucius Sergius Paulus
As you can see in the above example, PAULUS was a cognomen. It was ALWAYS used as a cognomen. As such, it was a family name.
Paul was a Jew, he had also been born as a citizen of Roman. At some time in the past, one of his
ancestors has been “adopted” into one of the families of
THE AUTHOR OF THE EPISTLE
Paul, a bondslave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God (Romans 1:1).
This greeting begins with Paul's name. This is not unusual. The acceptable way of beginning a letter was to start with your own name. Paul will not complete his greeting until verse 7. When he comes to the “gospel of God” he will go off on a tangent.
There are three parts to Paul's position.
1. A Bondslave of Christ Jesus.
The word translated “bondslave” is doulos. It is the basic word for a slave. The “Servant of Yahweh” is a common theme in the Old Testament. It was a reference to the Messiah. It was the One who would come and who would perform the work of the Lord. Paul is not the Messiah. But he IS doing the Messiah’s work.
When Jesus called him on the
2. Called as an Apostle.
Our word “apostle” is a transliteration of the Greek word apostolos. The Hebrew counterpart of this word was the sheliach. A well-known Hebrew proverb states: “The authority of the sent one (sheliach) is equal to that of the sender.” Thus authority is inherent in the term “apostle” from both its Greek and Hebrew backgrounds.
While the word “apostle” comes from the root verb “to send from” it seems to have a more specific meaning. Indeed, the Greeks of the Peloponnesian Wars used this as a military term for the admiral of their fleet who was “commissioned” with a special duty.
When used in this sense, it seems to speak of one who is sent out with special AUTHORITY. The authority of which he speaks is that which is given to him directly by Jesus Christ - this is the meaning of the phrase "by the will of God."
Paul was not an apostle because he decided to become one. He did not appoint himself to be an apostle. His own will did not make him an apostle. He is an apostle because he was CALLED to be an apostle.
3. Set Apart for the Gospel.
The phrase “set apart” (aphorismenos) is the perfect passive participle of aphorizo, a compound word made up of apho and horizo (“to appoint”).
Notice that Paul does not dwell upon the negative aspects of separation. He does not emphasize being set apart from movies or smoking or even from worldliness. Rather, he emphasizes the positive. We need to be equally balanced in our emphasis.
THE MESSAGE OF THE EPISTLE
...the GOSPEL of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 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, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, for His name's sake, among who you also are the called of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:2-6).
In these four verses, Paul sets forth in brief the entire message of the book of Romans. This Epistle is about the GOSPEL. The word “gospel” is translated from the Greek word euaggelion. It is a compound word, meaning “good news.”
1. The PROMISE of the Gospel.
...the GOSPEL of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures (Romans 1:2).
The “good news” of the Gospel is good, but it isn’t new. The Gospel did not start with Jesus. It started long before in the Old Testament. It started with promises given through the prophets of God and which were set forth in the Scriptures.
There are going to be many Old Testament figures mentioned in this epistle.
There will be a number of Old Testament passages quoted. This is because the gospel has its roots in the Old Testament. The good news is that God has kept His promises that He gave through to the fathers through the prophets. And because He has kept His promises in the past, He will also continue to keep His promises.
2. The PERSON of the Gospel.
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 (Romans 1:3).
There is an interesting parallelism here. It is a parallelism which portrays two sides of the person of Jesus.
Concerning His Son
Who was born
a descendant of David
according to the flesh
Who was declared
the Son of God
according to the spirit
The birth of Jesus was PROMISED. When something happens which was previously promised, you know that it didn't happen by accident. God is in charge and He always keeps His promises.
The birth of Jesus was according to the FLESH. It was rooted in humanity. He was Jewish. Notice that Jesus did not BECOME the Son of God. He WAS DECLARED to be the Son of God. This does not mean that God decided to make Him the Son of God. Rather, He was affirmed for who He was.
Notice what it is the evidence for the deity of Jesus. What is it that is the final evidence to show that Jesus is the Son of God? It is the RESURRECTION. He was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead (1:4).
The resurrection declared that Jesus is the Son of God. But what does this mean? In what sense is He the Son of God?
• A son is one who possesses the same characteristics of his father. This aspect of the sonship of Jesus focuses upon His deity.
• A son is subservient and submissive to his father. In this sense, the sonship of Jesus reflects His submission in taking on flesh.
3. The PROVISION of the Gospel.
...through whom we have received grace and apostleship... (Romans 1:5a).
The Lord not only provided the salvation whereby we are saved, He also provided the means by which that message of the gospel is to be spread to all men. The apostles were a love gift from God to men. They were charged with bringing the gospel to us.
4. The PURPOSE of the Gospel.
Verse 6 points out the specific area of presentation with which Paul had been commissioned. It is to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles.
Paul always began by proclaiming the gospel to the Jews. He was Jewish himself and sometimes I think that he would have preferred to have been an apostle to the Jews. He had once described himself as a “Hebrew of the Hebrews.” But God gave him a special commission to preach also to the Gentiles. It was he who first made it a regular practice of preaching to the Gentiles (even though Peter was the first to win a Gentile convert in Acts 10).
The result of this preaching would be the obedience of faith on the part of his hearers. What is this obedience of faith? Is it merely obeying the command to believe? It is at least that. But I think that it is more. When a person believes, there is a resulting obedience. The gospel was not meant only to change what you THINK. It is also designed to change how you LIVE.
THE RECIPIENTS OF THE EPISTLE
To all who are beloved of God in
How do you identify yourself? If I would to ask you to introduce yourself and to say something about yourself, what would you say? How do you identify yourself?
· By what you do?
· By who you are?
The Lord begins by saying WHO you are. Only when it is established who you are that we can talk about WHAT you are to do. This description is twofold:
1. Beloved of God.
This is a special title. There is a certain sense in which all men have been offered God’s love through the cross. But to be called the beloved of God is a special privilege. Paul wants these Roman believers that they have been granted such a privilege.
2. Called as Saints.
The word “saint” describes one who has been set apart for a special purpose. It is taken from the same root as the words translated “holy” and “sanctify.” We are not saints because we are so good. We are saints because God is so good. But the ramifications of the fact that we have been called to be saints is that we are now called to live according to our sainthood.
Notice that this description of them is not based upon anything that these Roman believers have DONE. They are not special in themselves. They are special because they worship a special God who did something special on their behalf.
THE BLESSING OF THE EPISTLE
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:7b).
This is Paul’s standard greeting. He wished them grace and peace. This combined greeting spans two races of people.
“Grace” (charis) was similar to the typical greeting among the Greeks — chairein.
“Peace” is taken the typical Hebrew greeting — shalom. It is perhaps significant that Paul always places these two greetings in this particular order. First comes grace. And after you have received grace, then you can also receive peace. Without grace there is no peace.
Grace is the undeserved favor of God directed toward men. It excludes all human merit. It is the sum total of what God has done for you. The problem in the world today is that man is trying to find peace without the grace of God. It is only as man meets the grace of God and accepts it that he can find peace with God and then peace with himself and with others.
The source of grace and peace is twofold. It is from God the Father. And it is from the Lord Jesus. And yet, these are not two separate sources. They are one. The preposition (“from”) is not repeated. It governs both the Father and Jesus.
God offers His grace and peace to you. If you are an unbeliever, then you can come to be at peace with God instead of being His enemy. You can come to Him through the way of His Son, Jesus Christ.