Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus...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."
Romans 1:1; 7
The everyday first century Jew believed he was loved by God based on his nationality. The Jews were God's chosen people. He had promised to create the Jewish people from faithful Abraham. This people had been called to be set apart from the other nations of the world. Thus, they had certain dietary and lifestyle restrictions, they had to perform bloody sacrifices to atone for their sin, and they had to follow the law of God. The fact that one had Abraham's, Issac's, Jacob's, and David's blood flowing through their veins was a source of pride for a Jew. Thus, many Jews believed that God had a greater love for them because, of course, they were His chosen people. So the fact that Paul opens the letter by calling the Roman Gentiles "loved by God" would have been sure to make any Jewish reader gasp. But the fact is that God does not make a distinction between races, as we will discuss in further detail in the coming chapters. God loves His own. He loves those who put their trust in Him, no matter whose blood is flowing through their veins. He loves His people, His chosen elect.
Not only does Paul note that God loves the Gentile Romans, he says that God has called them. In essence, God had chosen them to be His saints, thus reiterating the fact that God makes no racial distinctions but chooses whom He pleases. God's election is mysterious, but wonderful. God effectually calls His people, drawing them near to Him by faith.
Finally, Paul extends his usual standard of greeting to the Roman believers, wishing them grace and peace which only God can provide through the death of His Son. God has set His elect apart from sin, drawing them near to Him so that they are called holy, regardless of their race.