Saturday, February 23, 2008

Welcome to Rome

Welcome to Rome – introduction to the Book of Romans[1]- 1:1-7
· Tony Campolo mailman Illustration

In the passage that we will address today, Paul seems to have found his calling, not as a letter carrier, but as a letter writer.

1 The messenger of the gospel - 1:1
Rom 1:1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God

a. his captivity - v. 1a - Paul relates to us in his writing that he is a slave to Christ, that his will is bonded to Christ. Dr. Thomas Constable of DTS says that Paul should not be called a slave here, but an alternative translation is a better fit. He states that Paul should be called a servant. He states some translators have rendered this word "slave," but Paul was a willing servant of Christ (cf. Phil. 2:7). This term is the equivalent of the Old Testament "servant of the Lord" (e.g., Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Nehemiah, and especially David). Paul shared this status with his readers. This would seemingly give Paul a historic role and establish him in along line of Spiritual Heroes, but from his writing we can see that being inducted into the Believer’s Hall of Fame is far from his goal.
b. his calling - v. 1b Paul moves quickly from his captivity to his calling which he says is directly from Christ. He is an ambassador of Jesus, a Gospel Messenger and Representative of the Messiah. In revealing this, the Jew, Saul, uses his Roman name, Paul, because he is specifically to the Gentiles as he addresses the Roman Churches. He was so well known that one had only had to mention his first name among believers and they knew of whom he was like when we mention: Elvis, Cher, and Britney. Yet Paul’s status is not just simply that of a messenger, he is much more. The title "apostle" gives Paul's gift and office in the church. He was Jesus Christ's special appointee. This status gave him the right not only to preach the gospel but to found, to supervise, and even to discipline churches if necessary.
c. his consecration - v. 1c The columniation of his captivity and his call is found in his concretion. Paul’s slavery to Christ and his call to Him means that he is set a part fro the use of Christ. His life’s sole purpose is the gratification of God and the Glory of Christ. The human author of Romans states to his readership that he is designated and set apart by an action of God to some special sphere and manner of being and of consequent activity One last comment must be made about Paul and his status in the kingdom, and that is that Paul never thought of himself as a man who had aspired to an honor; he thought of himself as a man who had been given a task. He saw himself as a lowly servant of the Most High King Jesus.
2. The message of the gospel - 1:2-4
Romans 1:2-4 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.

a. its source, or, where did the gospel come from? (the OT promise) - v. 2. Paul begins to exalt the gospel that God had called him to proclaim. It was a message that God had promised, not just prophesied, in the Old Testament Scriptures. The words "his" and "holy" stress the unique origin of the gospel. God had inspired the Old Testament by speaking through men as He gave His revelation. Paul did not preach an unanticipated gospel but one that God had promised through His prophets. This is the reason Paul appealed to the Old Testament so fully in this and other of his epistles. Specifically Paul's gospel was not a human invention that tried to make the best of Israel's rejection of Jesus Christ. He calls their minds and ours to the hope we have which was established many years go. Paul reminds us of the words of the Prophet Isaiah in the 53 Chapter. He calls our attention to Moses and his treatises. He speaks of the Psalms and echoes Genesis. For Paul and for us the Gospel begins in the Old Testament
b. its substance, or, whom does the gospel concern? (the NT person) - vv. 3-4 This is what Paul articulate in the next two verses. He moves from the Promise of the Old Testament to the Person who fulfilled it in the New Testament. He fleshed out the Good News that all of the Law and the Prophets spoke of as he reveals again that Salvation is found in Jesus

1) the gospel of God concerns "His (God's) Son" - 3-4a
a) his humiliation & humanity - v. 3
b) his exaltation & deity - v. 4a

2) the gospel of God concerns "Jesus Christ our Lord"- v. 4b
a) his deity
b) his dominion

3. The motivation of the gospel - 1:5-7
Romans 1:5-7 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; 7 To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints :Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

a .the power - v. 5a the power is from Christ, Paul is not the source of the power, but Jesus. His apostleship comes from Christ. So we must answer one Question before we can go further.

Who were permitted to serve as apostles?
(1) Only those whom Jesus chose for this office were ever, in any real sense, apostles, this being a necessary deduction from Acts 1:24, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen." In that remarkable event, the apostles themselves had been able to narrow the choice for Judas' successor to the two men alone who fulfilled the other qualifications for the apostleship;
(2) They had to have been companions of the Master from the time of John's baptism until Christ's ascension - Acts 1:22 beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection."
(3) An additionally requirement was to have been a witness of the resurrection of Christ, that is, having seen him alive after his death and burial .Paul's apostleship was different only in this, that he had not been a personal companion of Jesus during the Lord's ministry, as were the others; but, by special appearances to Paul, the Lord commissioned him as a true "witness" of the resurrection - Acts 26:15-16 So I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.
(4) that commission as an apostle being by Christ himself and not by men - Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead)

Romans 1:5-7 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; 7 To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints :Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
b. the purpose - vv. 5b-6 - obedience
c. the people - v. 7 brings us to why Paul is what all about, reaching his fellow man to Glorify Christ.

Verse 7 really continues the thought of verse 1, verses 2-6 being somewhat parenthetical. "Grace" and "peace" were common salutations in Greek and Jewish letters respectively in Paul's day. God's grace is both His unmerited favor and His divine enablement. It is the basis for any true human peace. The Hebrew concept of peace (Heb. shalom) did not just mean freedom from stress, anxiety, and irritation. It included the fullness of God's blessing. Paul desired a continually deeper and richer experience of spiritual blessing for his readers.
[1] Outline from Dr. Sam Storms,

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