Romans 1:1-7: Introduction and Personal Commentary

In this study of the book of Romans, I will be using multiple commentaries, referring to Greek and Hebrew, and mining other references as the opportunity arises.

The study will follow Joseph Agar Beet’s dividing method since they seems to most accurately capture the thought progression of Paul.

  1. Introduction
  2. Sin and it’s consequences,
  3. Justification through faith in Christ,
  4. Life in Christ
  5. Synthesis of OT and NT
  6. Putting it all into practice.
  7. Conclusion

Here is the first section of my personal commentary introducing us to the Book of Romans written (in my humble opinion) by one of the greatest of all Apostles of Christ.

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,

called to be an apostle,

separated unto the gospel of God,

(Which he had promised afore

by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)

Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord,

which was made of the seed of David

according to the flesh;

And declared to be the Son of God with power,

according to the spirit of holiness,

by the resurrection from the dead:

By whom we have received grace and apostleship,

for obedience to the faith

among all nations, for his name:

Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:

To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father,

and the Lord Jesus Christ.

~ Romans 1:1-7

Paul had not yet visited Rome and is writing as a stranger to them. With that in mind, he is explaining God’s plan of salvation comprehensively.

Verse 1:

‘Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ’

The word servant in Greek literally means a slave. Paul is declaring that he is the property of Jesus and is no longer his own.

His life, personal choices, and end all belong to the Father.

Here, Paul is also proclaiming his complete submission to the work of the Holy Ghost, ‘not my will but thine be done’ that is working the will of Christ.

Paul uses the same Greek word describing a slave in Romans 6:22 teaching us about our relationship to God, our freedom from sin, and the types of fruit we are to bear unto the end which, will lead to eternal life.

‘But now being made free from sin,

and become servants to God,

ye have your fruit unto holiness,

and the end everlasting life’

~ Romans 6:22.

In the Old Testament, when the Hebrew word servant was used to describe a ‘servant of God’, it often referred to that person as a prophet and leader reflecting God’s intention for a people.

Now after the death of Moses

the servant of the Lord

it came to pass,

that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun,

Moses’ minister, saying, 

Moses my servant is dead;

now therefore arise,

go over this Jordan, thou,

and all this people,

unto the land which I do give to them,

even to the children of Israel,

~ Joshua 1:1-2.

With this in mind and noting that in the remaining half of verse one Paul states,

‘separated unto the gospel of God’

We can rightly attest that Paul was set apart in order to bring his master’s commandments to the Romans. He is following his calling as an apostle to the Messiah Matthew 1:21 foretold to come at that time Daniel 9:25.

Paul was sent as a minister not unlike Joshua yet he was sent to liberate the Gentiles from the power of Satan; to witness about their sanctification Acts 26:16-18; that they are to do the works and calling of the Lord 1 Corinthians 12:27-31, and to stand strong, righteous, and firm in truth, for the benefit of others Ephesians 6:10-18).

He was appointed to this work alone. Like chosen Israel, or Paul’s previous role as a Pharisee, he was once again set apart; this time to proclaim the gospel.

Paul revealed the ‘good news’ by representing Christ and modeling the life of a true Christian.

 Verse 2:

Which he had promised afore

by his prophets in the holy scriptures

Here Paul is referencing many Old Testament scriptures. Some of them include: Isaiah 28:16; : Isaiah 40:1-11. Romans 10:11-17 is rich with OT references to the Jewish Messiah as well as the promise of Abraham to the Gentiles in Galatians 3:8. He was truly a Bible Scholar.

Paul is also saying his words are inspired, holy scripture. Once again, the setting apart the whole of his life from any carnal or earthly works.

Throughout the book of Romans there is a consistent reference to the scriptures of old ‘as it is written’, ‘by his prophets’, ‘promised afore’, setting an early credence to the power, importance, and authority of the Old Testament and the prophets.

This we need to consider deeply.

To understand the prophets and how the law points to our salvation is invaluable. For in them is found Jesus, the fulfillment of their purpose.

Jesus brought the Old Testament to life. All who follow Him will find that the New Testament can lead us to a perfect and glorious state of immortality. We see the word make alive in the hearts of His followers.

There is no greater purpose than to set apart our life to the work and calling of Jesus.

 Verses 3-4:

Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord,

which was made of the seed of David

according to the flesh;

And declared to be the Son of God with power,

according to the spirit of holiness,

by the resurrection from the dead:

Paul begins explaining Jesus’ relation to the Father, his humanity, and how by the law, He came in the line of David, a man after God’s own heart, a line of imperfection, yet He was perfect in nature and holiness.

The process of Jesus coming into this world, the Father from heaven declaring, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” the testimony of the prophets and scripture all point to His diety. This combined with His manner of death, burial, and resurrection finished the writings of the law.

Paul is now proclaiming to the Romans that the old is completed and new covenant that Jesus made has come;

all things according to the pattern

shewed to thee in the mount. 

But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry,

by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant,

which was established upon better promises,

~ Hebrews 8:5-7.

How Jesus’ human nature and divine nature were combined to complete this glorious purpose is a mystery of God that I cannot fathom. Nevertheless, Jesus became like us and we can learn His precious truths from the whole of scripture.

The last portion of verse 4 ‘according to the spirit of holiness’ is difficult but I find it succinctly summarized in the following scripture:

We now have a ‘high priest

which cannot be touched

with the feeling of our infirmities;

but was in all points tempted like as we are,

yet without sin’

~ Hebrews 4:15

This statement according to the spirit of holiness‘ implies Jesus’ unreserved commitment to the Father’s calling and purpose, His personal holiness, and His unreserved love toward us.

Holiness is amply used in scripture to refer to God’s character.

For our calling, like His, denotes a purity of heart in devotion to God. Jesus wants us to be so completely dedicated to Him that we will not even to use idle words. Rather, we are suppose to allow God to chastise our heart until every act, intention, and impulse is dedicated to the service and and will of the Father.

Now no chastening for the present

seemeth to be joyous, but grievous:

nevertheless afterward it yieldeth

the peaceable fruit of righteousness

unto them which are exercised thereby. 

Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down,

and the feeble knees; 

and make straight paths for your feet,

lest that which is lame be turned out of the way;

but let it rather be healed. 

Follow peace with all men, and holiness,

without which no man shall see the Lord:

looking diligently lest any man fail

of the grace of God;

lest any root of bitterness

springing up trouble you,

and thereby many be defiled;

lest there be any fornicator,

or profane person, as Esau,

who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright, 

~ Hebrews 12:11-16

This is holiness unto The Lord, your birthright. Please do not let your dedication to Him wither on the vine.

A beautiful, sweet child-like faith, falling in love with His ways, earnestly seeking God through any valley or the shadow death. To the wilderness is our calling.

We are to plant the seeds and water the gospel wherever we go, all the while, giving God the best of our life.

Thus saith the LORD;

I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth,

the love of thine espousals,

when thou wentest after me in the wilderness,

in a land that was not sown.

Israel was holiness unto the LORD,

and the firstfruits of his increase:

~ Jeremiah 2:3.

It is interesting to note that after the death of Christ, the official genealogical records stored in the temple were destroyed. Never again would Israel be able to determine the line of David or the coming Messiah.

Paul is making a lasting and final statement regarding Jesus’ lineage in verse 4. It will be preserved for Israel and the world until the very end of days. He also reinforces it in other letters;

But when the fulness of the time was come,

God sent forth his Son, made of a woman,

made under the law,

To redeem them that were under the law,

that we might receive the adoption of sons.

And because ye are sons,

God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts,

crying, Abba, Father.

Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son;

and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ

~ Galatians 4:4.

Verses 5:

By whom we have received grace and apostleship,

for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:

Here Paul shows how grace and apostleship were given to him by his obedience of faith.

This is telling.

The more faithful and obedient we are, the more responsibility and reward we will be given. He was given the opportunity to preach to the whole world through the written word.

There was no backsliding in Paul’s Christianity. It was unheard of for an apostle. Judas did such and paid an awful price.

Backsliding or sin should not be mentioned among those called saints Ephesians 5:1-5. We are to build each other up in the love of God  Jude 1:17-23, and live in holiness and godliness 2 Peter 3:11.

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,

an holy nation, a peculiar people;

that ye should shew forth the praises of him

who hath called you out of darkness

into his marvellous light:

~ 1 Peter 2:9.

Repentance and forgiveness is there for backsliders and sinners but responsibility and rewards become jeopardized or even lost. For our heavenly calling is to be holy unto the Lord.

The honor the Lord gave to to the work of Barnabas and Paul was to have the title of Christian named form their labors in Antioch. We should be worthy of such honor. But it does come with a price.

Verses 6-7

Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:

To all that be in Rome,

beloved of God, called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father,

and the Lord Jesus Christ

Paul is closing his introduction with a reminder to the Romans that they were called to be saints in order to, ‘press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.’

He will elaborate more in future chapters describing what being a saint means in the life of a Christian.

Neither does he fail to mention the promises of grace to all men with the power to save and preserve those sanctified in Christ.

He also blesses them with peace revealing a path and purpose to those beloved of God who abide and cling to the hope of our Father and Lord Jesus Christ.

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