Romans 1:1-7 – The Apostle Paul’s Greeting to the Romans

Romans 1:1-7 – The Apostle Paul’s Greeting to the Romans

  • 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.

GOD’S CALLING UPON PAUL

The Apostle Paul was a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was not by his choosing but by God’s calling. He was a persecutor of the church and traveled to cities far and wide to persecute, arrest and murder those who claimed to follow Christ. While he was on the way to Damascus, Christ stopped him. . . Luke wrote the story in Acts chapter 9:

Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” [Act 9:3-6 ESV].

And the Apostle Paul retold the story in Acts chapter 22:

And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And I answered, “Who are you, Lord?” And He said to me, “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.” Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. And I said, “What shall I do, Lord?” And the Lord said to me, “Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.” [Act 22:7-10 ESV].

Paul was not seeking Christ – this was an interruption from his goal and ambition to persecute those who followed The Way. Christ’s command to Paul was not to receive Jesus Christ nor say the sinner’s prayer nor to receive Jesus into his heart. He was told to go into the city and he would be told what he was to do – what was appointed for him to do. God did not give him a choice.

He was a prisoner of sin and he had chosen to go to Damascus to persecute Christians. Given a choice, he would have continued on his journey. God interrupted him with an overpowering light – a light so bright it blinded him – and brought him out of darkness and into the light. He was regenerated and made a prisoner or slave of Christ.

Then God sent Ananias to minister to Paul and give him instructions. At first he resisted or questioned this but God told him:

Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of My name. [Act 9:15-16 ESV].

Here God is clear: It was His choosing that changed the life of Paul. He did not wait for Paul to receive the Gospel; He had appointed him as a chosen instrument. What this means is God regenerated him so he could and would receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ and take it to the nations.

This was not by chance or accident; God had determined this before the creation of the world. When God called Jeremiah to ministry, He told him, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” [Jer 1:5]. God chooses but men receive.

. . . He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. [Eph 1:4-6 ESV].

SIDENOTE ON PAUL

Many people have this idea the Apostle Paul’s name was changed when he began ministering for Christ but this is not the case. Saul was his Jewish name and Paul was his Gentile or Greek name. “. . . Saul, who was also called Paul . . .” [Act 13:9]. Because he ministered largely to the Gentile, he is most often referred to as “Paul.”

SET APART FOR THE GOSPEL OF GOD

Paul wrote he was called to be an apostle and set apart for the Gospel. This should be true for every minister of the Gospel. Though there are no longer any apostles, every minister should be called by God and set apart for the Gospel. The problem today is Christian ministry is more often a career choice than it is a calling and most ministers do not consider themselves set apart for the Gospel.

They preach on anything that concerns them or anything they think will set themselves apart as unique. Many preach a Positive Mental Attitude gospel or they preach psychology or they preach outright pagan new age doctrine. Some throw in Scripture here and there where they feel it can make their point – but they are not preaching the Gospel. Some feel they need to preach party politics or promote social justice – and they might throw in some Scripture to make their point – but they are not preaching the Gospel.

I do not think that we are called to have anything to do with party politics, or social problems, or any such questions; we are set apart for this purpose: “separated unto the gospel of God.” There are plenty of people who can attend to those things better than we can. . . . There are some brethren who are timid as mice; but on a political platform, they roar like lions. Had not they better take to what they like best, and give up the work at which they are not at home? For my part, I believe that I am like Paul when he says that he was “separated unto the gospel of God.” I am set apart unto the gospel, cut off from everything else that I may preach the glorious gospel of the blessed God to the perishing sons of men. [Spurgeon’s Verse Exposition on Romans, pg 10].

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the essential foundation for any minister of God. The Bible is the Gospel: the Old Testament foretells the coming of the Messiah, while the New Testament proclaims the Messiah has come and tells us how to live the Gospel. It is essential to preach the Gospel to the lost and to those born again for the Gospel of Jesus Christ are words of life and there is nothing to add to it.

All who are saved are also set apart for the Gospel. We no longer live according to the lusts and desires of this world but for the will of God (1Pe 4:2).

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. [Gal 5:24 ESV].

Does this mean we do not get involved in the affairs of this world? Spurgeon had the idea it was a minister’s duty to preach the Gospel and stay out of politics and social justice. For the most part, this is the Biblical standard (2Ti 2:4).

However, Spurgeon also said, “There are plenty of people who can attend to those things better than we can.” It is true, we need Christians active in the public arena, else we surrender the law and policies of our nation to the lawless. But it is important the layman accomplish these works without making them an idol – which is altogether too common. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the minister to teach his people a Biblical understanding how to apply the Gospel in our work in this world.

THE GOSPEL PROMISED BEFOREHAND

We tend to look at the Old Testament as the law and the prophets and the New Testament as the Gospel. But the Gospel is preached throughout the Old Testament. In fact, God preached the Gospel to Adam and Eve shortly after the Fall:

I will put enmity between you [that is, the serpent, namely Satan] and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. [Gen 3:15 ESV].

Even Christ, Himself, speaking to the two on the road to Emmaus opened up the Scripture “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” [Luke 24:27 ESV]. The purpose of the Old Testament was not to provide the Law along with a collection of good, moral stories. The purpose of the Old Testament is a foretelling of the Gospel of Christ – what God promised beforehand beginning with Genesis 3:15.

Here are a few Old Testament prophecies of Christ:

  1. Isa 7:14 – The Prophet Isaiah foretold the Messiah would be born of a virgin.
  2. Mic 5:2 – The Prophet Micah foretold Christ would be born in Bethlehem.
  3. Jer 31:15 – The Prophet Jeremiah foretold the slaughter of the children in Bethlehem.
  4. Isa 6:9-10 – The Prophet Isaiah foretold Christ would speak in parables.
  5. Isa 53:3 – The Prophet Isaiah foretold the Messiah would be rejected by His people.
  6. Zec 11:12-13 – The Prophet Zechariah foretold Christ would be betrayed.
  7. Isa 53:7 – The Prophet Isaiah foretold Christ would be silent before His accusers.
  8. Isa 53:12 – The Prophet Isaiah foretold Christ would be crucified with criminals.
  9. Zec 12:10 – The Prophet Zechariah foretold Christ’s body would be pierced.
  10. Isa 53:1-12 – The Prophet Isaiah foretold Christ’s death would be the sacrifice for sin.

This is a brief list of the prophecies of old. The Old Testament with the law, history, stories and prophecies give an account of the coming of Christ, the Messiah. It is an account or history, if you will, of the eternal covenant between God the Father and God the Son to redeem mankind for Himself. This was determined before the creation of the world – before time began. How unfathomable and wonderful are the mercies of God.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. [Heb 13:20-21 ESV emphasis added].

CONCERNING HIS SON

In verses three and four, Paul wrote Christ was

  • descended from David according to the flesh and
  • declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit

Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. He is not part man and part God like Greek and Roman heroes in their mythology. Christ isn’t some Hercules with god-like powers but susceptible to human weakness.

The Council of Chalcedon was held in 451 AD. The purpose was to decide the question of where to divide the divinity of Christ and His manhood. Up to this time, there was some confusion. There were some who, in their attempts to keep Christ’s nature from reflecting the god-man heroes of mythology, kept both natures as far apart as possible. This lead to false teaching which divided Christ’s natures so poorly that He appeared as two people. Others held to Christ as either God or man but not both.

As always, when man tries to sort Biblical truth with human logic, false teaching will naturally ensue. The Council repudiated all these theories and held to the claims of Scripture that Christ has two natures in one person – and that both natures are complete or full.

Regarding Christ’s Deity, the Apostle Paul wrote:

For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. [Col 1:19 ESV].

For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily. [Col 2:9 ESV].

Regarding Christ’s humanity, the Apostle John wrote:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. [Joh 1:14].

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands. . . [1Jo 1:1 ESV].

By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. [1Jo 4:2 ESV].

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. [2Jo 7 ESV].

Charles Spurgeon said of His human nature, He came from royal blood – the seed of David.

He was a man, therefore He died: but He rose again, for He was more than man: “declared to be the Son of God with power.” [Spurgeon’s Verse Exposition on Romans, pg 10].

RC Sproul wrote, “He was to be David’s son yet at the same time David’s Lord.” [Romans, pg 20].

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is He?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls Him Lord, saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, until I put Your enemies under Your feet”‘? If then David calls Him Lord, how is He his son? [Mat 22:41-45 ESV – Christ was quoting Psa 110:1].

Though Christ was born of a virgin and came from the lineage of David, His true royalty lies in His deity. His deity was with Him in Heaven before the beginning of time.

Christ did not receive His deity from Mary or from Joseph. He brought His deity with Him from Heaven. . . When God the Holy Spirit raised the corpse of Jesus from the tomb, God was announcing to the world the Sonship of Jesus. [RC Sproul, Romans, pg 21].

‘Son of David’ does not begin to sum up all that is true about the Messiah who is also ‘Son of God.’ [MacArthur Bible Commentary, pg 1,168].

According to the Scriptures, Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man – and this He will forever be. He is “a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” [Psa 110:4 ESV, see also Heb 7:24,28]. God’s ways are beyond our understanding.

Christ is both David’s Son and David’s Lord: David’s Lord always, David’s Son in time. David’s Lord, born of the substance of his Father; David’s Son, born of the Virgin Mary, conceived by the Holy Spirit. Let us hold fast both. – Augustine [Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, first series, vol 6, pg 400–401].

JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD

Jesus Christ is Lord of all and, one day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess (Php 2:10-11; Isa 45:23; Rom 14:11). So whether you want to acknowledge Him as Lord or not has no relation or relevance to His authority. All authority has been given unto Him (Mat 28:18) and He will rule until all His enemies are under His feet (1Co 15:25).

In verses five and six, Paul wrote:

Through whom [Jesus Christ our Lord] 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.

Paul said “we,” meaning the apostles and himself, have received grace and apostleship – a granting of authority, if you will, because they had been with Christ. The purpose was to “bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His name among all the nations.” In other words, these men had the authority to teach the Word – to write the New Testament – so Christ’s name will be lifted up and obeyed in all nations.

“Including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.” This includes us; the apostles were, or are, ministering to us. Just as Christ prayed:

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word. [Joh 17:20 ESV].

Christ is Lord. He is Master. We are called to walk in obedience to Christ and this Word the apostle taught in their writings is the key to living this. Jesus said in John 8:31-32 we will know the truth if we abide in Him and His Word. In His prayer to the Father, He said, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth.” [John 17:17 ESV]. We must be continually in the Word for this obedience to work out in our lives. There is no short cut.

Many profess to be Christian but spend little or no time in the Word. Many call Him Lord but they go on living as if they have no Lord – no master. But we are called to obedience and have been given a commission. This is the Great Commission Christ gave to the apostles and has been handed down to us:

. . . All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. [Mat 28:18-20 ESV].

All authority now resides in Christ – He rules over all. We are called to go out and teach. What do we teach? “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” – we teach people to obey Christ. All authority belongs to Him; therefore, it follows, we must live in obedience to Him and we teach all men to do so. He is Lord – we obey.

Many call Jesus their Lord but they do not walk in obedience. Of these Christ declared:

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. [Mat 7:21 ESV].

Doing the will of the Father is obedience. It is not the obedience that saves us; rather, those who are saved will obey. Jesus continued in the next verses, He said many will say didn’t I do this for you? Didn’t I do that for you? But He will tell them to depart and called them workers of lawlessness. (Mat 7:22-23). You see, being involved in church, helping organize amazing worship services, writing a Christian blog, preaching to congregations and even going on mission trips will not cement your relationship with God. If you are not saved, you cannot obey and you will be counted among the lawless, as Christ said.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. [Eph 2:8-10 ESV].

Salvation is only by grace through faith. Salvation is not the result of works; it is nothing that we do – not even “making a decision for Christ.” There is nothing wherein we can boast; it is totally the work of God. If we are saved, we are His workmanship and the fruit will be good works that He predetermined we should walk in.

Ask yourself what is the evidence Jesus Christ is Lord in your life.

LOVED BY GOD AND CALLED TO BE SAINTS

Paul wrote, “To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints.” [v7]. Rome was the center of the Roman Empire; it was a city that was the epitome of evil with its blatant licentiousness, political corruption, bribery and violence. Regarding the saints there, Charles Spurgeon wrote:

God has beloved ones in the darkest parts of the earth. There is all the more reason for them to be saints because they are surrounded by sinners. They must have true faith, or they could not have confessed Christ between the jaws of a lion, for they lived in Rome, with Nero hunting after Christians, as if they had been wild beasts, and yet they were not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. [Spurgeon’s Verse Exposition on Romans, pg 11].

All who are in the faith are saints. Saints means “sanctified ones” (RC Sproul, Romans, pg 22). If we are truly saved we are sanctified. Jesus prayed the Father would sanctify those who are His, through His blood and by His Word:

Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth. . . For their sake I consecrate Myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word. [Joh 17:17,19-20 ESV].

As Christ explained to the Apostle Paul, we are sanctified by faith in Him:

. . . to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me. [Act 26:17-18 ESV].

As Paul explained to the Corinthians, Christ has brought us out of our sinful lives and sanctified us by the work of the Holy Spirit:

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. [1Co 6:11 ESV].

If we are loved by God, we are sanctified. How do we know we are loved by God? Jesus said the Father loves us if we believe in the Son.

. . . the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God. [Joh 16:27 ESV].

How do we know we believe in Jesus? Christ told us the mark of loving Him is obedience.

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. And the word that you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. [Joh 14:23-24 ESV].

John the Baptist said Those who live in obedience are loved by God – they have eternal life. Those who do not obey remain under His wrath.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. [Joh 3:36 ESV].

So be careful as you witness your faith, not to declare the false gospel: “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” According to Scripture, those who are not saved are under God’s wrath and need to repent. The only ones loved by God are the chosen – the saints – and they are living in obedience because they have left their lives of sin and are sanctified through the blood of Christ, through the Word of truth and by the work of the Holy Spirit.

Does my life demonstrate I love the Lord and believe in the Son of God?

GRACE TO YOU AND PEACE

This is the Apostle Paul’s standard greeting (ESV):

  1. Rom 1:7 – Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
  2. 1Co 1:3 – Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
  3. 2Co 1:2 – Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
  4. Gal 1:3 – Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
  5. Eph 1:2 – Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
  6. Php 1:2 – Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
  7. Col 1:2 – Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
  8. 1Th 1:1 – . . . in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
  9. 2Th 1:2 – Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
  10. 1Ti 1:2 – Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
  11. 2Ti 1:2 – Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
  12. Tit 1:4 – Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
  13. Phm 1:2 – Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

This peace is “not as the world gives,” said Jesus in His final will and testament before leaving the world (John 14:27). He left us His peace, a peace that transcends earthly peace, a peace that is permanent and eternal, one in which the warfare between the sinner and God is over. . . “Grace and peace.” They go together because the peace of God is not something we can ever earn or merit or deserve. The peace that comes from God is by His grace. [RC Sproul, Romans, pg 22-23].

Jesus promised us His peace which overcomes the world:

I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. [Joh 16:33 ESV].

IN CLOSING
God called the Apostle Paul. He was not seeking Christ; he was determined to persecute Christ’s people. But God had a different plan. He was formerly in darkness and a prisoner of sin but God brought him into the light and made him a servant of Christ.

A true minister of the Gospel is set apart to preach the Gospel. He does not mingle in the affairs of this world. On the other hand, all true believers are set apart because they have crucified their passions and desires and now strive to live pleasing to God. We work in the world without getting tangled.

God promised the Messiah throughout the Old Testament. Now, the Son has come. He is fully God and fully man – and He is Lord of all. If we claim He is our Lord, it follows we will live in obedience to Him. If we live in obedience, we are loved by God and called to be His saints. Do we see the fruit of obedience in our lives?

For those who are called, God has given us His grace and peace. This peace is undeserved; it is a gift from God. Our battle against Him is over and the peace He gives is the peace that overcomes the world.

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