“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet."--Matthew 5:13

Saturday, September 21, 2013

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,
Romans 1:1-6 

To begin our study of Romans, we will take a look at Paul's greeting. Deep theological truths are prevalent in the greetings in Paul's other epistles, but none more so than in Romans. Here, Paul outlines the whole gospel in a single paragraph, a feat that many people would not be able to do in a single page. But of course, Paul was writing through the direct work of the Holy Spirit. 

Paul identifies himself as "a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God". Paul wants his readers to know that he has given his life over to the Lord. He is no longer a slave to sin, but to the Lord. In identifying himself as an apostle, Paul means that he has been sent directly by Christ Himself. Christ appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus and called him to be set apart as a minister for the gospel--the good news of Christ. This good news that Christ brought was the same one that was promised through the prophets in the Old Testament. It is the promise of a Messiah that would save God's people from their sins. This was not a revolutionary message that went against Scripture, as the Jews had accused. This was a message that had been foretold by Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others.

Christ Jesus, the Son of God, was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies because He is a blood relative of David (II Samuel 7:12-13, Matthew 1:1-17, Luke 3:23-38). But not only that, He proved Himself to be the Son of God by His resurrection from death. In coming to earth, Christ submitted Himself to the will of the Father by voluntarily giving up His throne in heaven to become a man, born through a sinful woman. It was the Holy Spirit that guided and directed Christ during His ministry on earth. It is that same Holy Spirit that directs and guides God's people today. Through Christ's death and resurrection, His people receive grace through their faith. This grace is not given through our own meritorious works, but through the love and sovereignty of God. 

Since the grace of Christ is given through faith, therefore it is granted to all who believe, regardless of race. This is the supreme theme of this epistle. Those who are called, or the elect, of God are of many colors, cultures, and people groups. John MacArthur notes, "the 'call' of God refers to God's effectual call of elect sinners to salvation, rather than the general call to all men to believe. Salvation comes to those whom God has elected for Christ to save. 

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