Romans 1:1-17
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Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as 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 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 whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; - Romans 1:1-6


The letter to the Romans was primarily to the gentiles though as we'll see in later chapters there were Jewish believers considered in this epistle as well. It was estimated that this letter was sent during Paul's 3rd missionary journey while he was at Corinth around AD 57 (timelime partially extrapolated from Acts 23:11), 23 years after his conversion on the road to Damascus in AD 34 (Acts 9:1-9).


Paul was "an apostle" (v1). One requirement of an Apostle was to be an eye witness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 9:1). Paul, unlike the other Apostles was brought into the fold after the crucifixion of Jesus. While it's likely that Paul had a pre-conversion encounter with Christ there is no direct biblical evidence that states it, nor is it necessary. I say it's likely that Paul encountered Christ for various reasons. Paul was born in Jerusalem (Acts 22:3) where Christ often frequented (Mark 11:11, John 2:13, 5:1). Paul was there to witness the stoning of Stephen (Acts 8:1), he also had a nephew there (Acts 23:16) suggests that his family resided there for some time. Paul was a Pharisee with a devotion to the law which would have motivated him to be present in Jerusalem during Passover which would have put him and Jesus in close proximity at the same time. As a Pharisee Paul would have been keenly interested in the teachings of this new "Rabbi" whom Paul declared to Herod Agrippa as not being "done in a corner" (Acts 26:26). Lastly, Paul hints at knowing Jesus in the flesh in 2 Corinthians 5:16 though not conclusive.


"He promised beforehand..." "concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh" (v2-3). As a Pharisee this would have been important to Paul as scripture has made known it is through the lineage of David (and ultimately Abraham) the messiah would come (2 Samuel 7:12-16). The books of Matthew (ch1) and Luke (ch3) even open up with genealogy giving account of this lineage (Matthew through the father's side, Luke through the mother's side), establishing that fulfillment of prophecy first before continuing. Paul is doing likewise here. 17 verses in the New Testament describe Jesus as the "son of David". This is more than a statement of genealogy but it's a Messianic title. When people referred to Jesus as the Son of David they meant He was the long-awaited Deliverer, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies (John 5:39). Jesus asked the scribes and Pharisees to explain this title in Mark 12:35 challenging as to how it could be that the Messiah is the son of David when David himself refers to Him as "my Lord" (Mark 12:35-37, cf Psalm 110:1). In Revelations 22:16 Jesus is making known that He is both the offspring of David as well as the Creator of David, a reference to His position as the Son of God and the Son of man at the same time.


"who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead." A foundational element in the Christian faith. Without it everything is pointless and Christians are to be pitied most of all (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). Interestingly it was on the cusp of Paul's trial regarding "the hope and resurrection of the dead" (Acts 23:6) where the argument broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees over the existence of angels, spirits, and resurrection (Sadducees didn't believe in resurrection [Acts 23:8], this is why they were Sad-U-See? - har har) when Jesus stood at Paul's side and commissioned him to solemnly witness as he did here in Jerusalem in Rome also (Acts 23:11). Of which when we read this book we become benefactors. The resurrection of the dead is of utmost importance to the Christian faith as God used it to put His personal signature on the work of Jesus Christ and by that declare Him as the Son of God. Therefore it's no wonder that from the early church until now it is often the resurrection that is scrutinized the most.


"obedience of faith" (v5). Romans opens and closes with this focus (Romans 16:26). What is the obedience of faith? Is it obeying all that God has commanded? No, for only the Lord Jesus has done that (Matt. 5:17, Rom. 3:23). Rather it refers specifically to obeying the command to believe the Gospel, that is, believe the good news of Jesus Christ!


28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” - John 6:28-29


The work that God requires of you to do and be continually doing is trust in Him! Nothing more and nothing less (Acts 15:10-11). Therefore let our eyes be drawn to Jesus and no longer on ourselves. Not keeping in view our inadequacy but rather keeping in view His adequacy on our behalf!


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. - Romans 1:7


Several times Paul gives this warm greeting to the church and it's always in the order of grace first, then peace. That is because peace is found in the embodiment of grace. In other words, you cannot know the peace of God until you know the grace of God. It is not until you know the grace of God that you can enter into the rest that God has for His people. As long as you are trying to be good enough to be accepted by God, you'll always be struggling, you'll never be at peace.


First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world. For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, - Romans 1:8-9


"through Jesus Christ". Not only do our prayer requests to the Father go through Jesus (John 14:13, 16:23), so do our praises! "God, whom I serve in my spirit". Not in the flesh. On the contrary, the flesh is actually seen as something that naturally works against us and against the Spirit in us (Gal. 5:17) even as Christians! In Romans 7:14-25, the flesh is actually at war against us whom are indwelled by the Holy Spirit.


63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. - John 6:63


Christians often think their flesh should be made better when they become a Christian but the truth is, the flesh profits nothing! Ephesians 4:22 in referencing the old self (the flesh) state that even as a Christian the flesh "is being corrupted". Therefore it is important that we don't equate our success in the flesh to our success in the Spirit. This is why there is so much talk of laying aside the "old self" and putting on the "new self" (Eph. 4:22, Rom. 6:6) or "walking in the Spirit" and thereby not fulfill "the desires of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16). Jesus did not come to put new wine in old wineskins nor a new patch on an old garment (Luke 5:36-38). Rather He brought an entirely new system altogether, one that is by faith through grace (Eph. 2:8-9).


10 always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine. - Romans 1:10-12


"that I may be encouraged with you while among you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine." Paul's genuine humility is seen here in his desire to be ministered to by the believers in Rome. While recognizing His commission to preach the gospel (v1), He also recognizes he is in need to be ministered too as well. This is important as people in the church (and too often the leaders too) view the leaders as the teachers, councilors, and encouragers without recognizing they are servants (1 Cor. 3:5-7) who also need to be taught, counseled, and encouraged just as much. Even Jesus Himself recognized this need while here on earth and often would evade the crowd to go and spend time with the Father (Luke 5:16, Matt. 14:23).


13 I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. - Romans 1:13-15


This is a demonstration of Phileo love. Paul, while dedicated to God also had in his heart Phileo love for his brothers and sisters in Rome. Though having not met them yet, his heart has been unceasingly counting their faith a blessing before the Father (v9) and because he loves them it's important to him that the church in Rome knows that he has been thinking about them and even planning to come to them though his obligations to the gospel had prevented him thus far (v14). In this Phileo love Paul longs to make a connection with that church that isn't a mere teacher/student relationship but one where they can be encouraged by one another's faith, obtain fruit, and to the extent that Paul has been gifted in, impart to them "some spiritual gift" and help the church in Rome get "established" (v11).


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. - Romans 1:16


Question: What does it mean to be ashamed of something? What did Paul mean when He said He is not ashamed of the gospel? Why do you suppose that is?


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.” - Romans 1:17


Paul gives a warm opening in his letter and before sobering us up through the next couple chapters he briefly reminds us of the righteousness of God which is by faith. He doesn't elaborate on this quite yet. He will later revisit this in detail but only after revealing our dire situation. As a Christian given the understanding of the righteousness that comes by faith we have the blessing of reading the next couple chapters in lieu of the grace of God (Eph. 2:8) but nevertheless we should read these chapters properly that we may hear all they have to say and thereby recognize appropriately the work of God on our behalf that is no small matter.


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