Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Romans 1.1-7: Paul, Set Apart for God’s Gospel

I am going to start some personal ‘devos’ on Paul’s letter to the Romans. I thought that it would be helpful if I posted my reflections so others can help me out. I don’t plan on giving a super detailed exposition of the book, just some thoughts. This is a hard book so sometimes I will probably get bogged down. Hopefully I won’t give up. I will be mainly relying on the NET Bible for my translation. Unfortunately I don’t know Greek, as I didn’t even finish second year, so I can’t translate myself. However, I will be looking at a whole bunch of translations on my own.

Romans 1.1-7

1:1 From Paul,a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God. 1:2 This gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 1:3 concerning his Son who was a descendant of David with reference to the flesh, 1:4 who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1:5 Through him we have received grace and our apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles on behalf of his name. 1:6 You also are among them, called to belong to Jesus Christ. 1:7 To all those loved by God in Rome, called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

This letter is from the apostle Paul. He says that he is a ‘slave’ of Christ Jesus, that he is called to be an apostle, and that God has set him apart for the gospel. Paul was a zealous Jew before he was saved; he persecuted Christians and thought that by doing so he was doing God’s will. But the risen Christ revealed himself to this Jew and the man was never the same. Jesus enlisted him into the ‘army of apostles’ in order to preach that Jesus was the world’s true Lord.

Here Paul set’s forth the gospel he preaches. In this passage, but not in all, he focuses mainly on Christology, or the identity of Christ. This gospel reaches back into the promises that were made to Israel, God’s special people. As such Paul’s gospel is not abandoning Judaism but actually fulfills God’s purposes for his people.

Simply put, the gospel is about Jesus. Jesus is God’s son who is a human descendant of King David. This is important. It isn’t simply saying that Paul emphasizes Jesus’ humanity and then uses the term ‘Son of God’ to emphasize his divinity. Rather, Jesus is the true King that was promised: “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Sam. 7.12, 13 ESV).

When Jesus was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit, he was designated as the Son of God. Not that he wasn’t God’s son before (see Douglas J. Moo’s commentary on Romans) but he is now the crucified, risen and reigning Messiah.

I asked my wife one day, as she was a classical studies major, what would the Romans think if Paul was telling them that Jesus was the true ‘Son of God’ and that he was ‘Lord’? These were titles that were given to Caesar. So they would have instantly thought, “Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not!” Jesus, the world’s rightful Lord, is taking the world back for himself. He was doing this by sending apostles out to announce the good news. When a person becomes a Christian they come under the gracious rule of the crucified, risen and reigning Messiah. They have pledged their allegiance to the true Lord of the world, Jesus Christ.

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