This post was originally written on August 20, 2005, before I had ever heard about Torah. I have revised a few places, to be sure that I am explaining Scripture clearly.
Yeah, it’s finally time to dig into Romans together! This is such a fabulous book. It’s deep and full of more discussion than we’ll ever have time for. It’s also practical and easily applicable to my life. I love that!
The first 17 verses of chapter 1 tell WHY Paul is writing this letter (“epistle”) to the church in Rome. While the first several chapters will deal heavily with the subject of salvation, you’ll see from these first few verses that Paul was definitely writing to believers in Rome, not unbelievers or seekers. I saw so many similarities between Paul’s strong feelings for the believers in Rome and my strong feelings for all of you. That is why I thought this would be the perfect book for us to study.
Let’s look at verses 1-4:
Paul, a bondservant of Yeshua the Messiah, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Yeshua the Messiah our Master, who was born 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.
Who is Paul?
1. A bondservant of Yeshua the Messiah.
A bondservant is explained to us in the Old Testament, in the Law of God:
“If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing. If he comes in by himself, he shall go out by himself; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master has given him a wife, and she has borne him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.” (Exodus 21:1-6)
Isn’t this an amazing word picture of how Paul wanted to serve Yeshua, the Messiah (the “Christ” in Greek)?
2. Called to be an apostle.
An apostle technically means one who has been sent with a message, although in the New Testament it usually refers to one of the twelve disciples who were chosen by the Master and sent out to share the gospel. The website http://mb-soft.com/believe/txn/apostle.htm states:
“The distinctive features of Paul’s apostleship were direct appointment by Christ (Gal. 1:1) and the allocation of the Gentile world to him as his sphere of labor (Rom. 1:5; Gal. 1:16; 2:8). His apostleship was recognized by the Jerusalem authorities in accordance with his own claim to rank with the original apostles. However, he never asserted membership in the Twelve (I Cor. 15:11), but rather stood on an independent basis. He was able to bear witness to the resurrection because his call came from the risen Christ (I Cor. 9:1; Acts 26:16-18). Paul looked on his apostleship as a demonstration of divine grace and as a call to sacrificial labor rather than an occasion for glorying in the office (I Cor. 15:10).”
3. Separated to the gospel of God.
Verses 2-4 continue on with a brief description of what the gospel is. 1 Corinthians 15 sums it up well:
“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that the Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures….”
You’ll see it’s the same here:
- “He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures” (v. 2)
- “concerning His Son Yeshua the Messiah our Master, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh [through Mary] (v. 3)
- “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (v. 4)
The gospel always consists of showing how Yeshua was the sole fulfillment of prophecy and how He took the atoning sacrifice of our sins upon Himself. It never neglects the fact the Yeshua was in fact God, proven by His power over even death when He Himself rose from the dead. We’ve heard it so many times, in sermons and songs and church traditions that it stops having an impact on us. We could recite the facts but it doesn’t touch our hearts. Notice though that this gospel (“good news”) was enough to move Paul to be a bondservant of Messiah! Okay, that’s enough to make me want to use several exclamation points. !!!!!!! (We’ll be looking at the gospel more in the weeks ahead.)
Who are the Romans?
Okay, let’s look at who these Romans are that Paul is writing to, seen in verse 5-7:
“Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Yeshua the Messiah; To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Master Yeshua the Messiah.”
1. Recipients of grace (v. 5).
Notice above that they received this grace “through Him”, or through the Messiah alone. (Paul will make a lot of this topic later.) Grace is undeserved favor. May I encourage you to do an Internet search at https://www.biblegateway.com/keyword/ for the uses of the word “grace” in the Bible? When we begin to get a grasp of just what God’s grace means in our lives, it truly changes us! Were just the Romans recipients of God’s grace through Yeshua? No, we also have received His undeserved favor.
2. Apostles with a mission of showing “obedience to the faith among all the nations for His name.”
While the use of the word “apostleship” in verse 5 doesn’t mean exactly the same as it did for Paul in verse 1 (after all, the entire Roman church was not the same thing as the original few men chosen directly by Messiah as apostles), it does still have the meaning of those who are sent out with a message. We might use the word “missionary” today. What? The entire church in Rome was called to be a missionary? And we are, too? I thought it was only a special, chosen few… those poor people who get sent to deepest, darkest Africa….
3. Called of Yeshua the Messiah (v. 6).
This again reinforces that the Roman believers were called to serve, to be bondservants of Yeshua the Messiah as Paul was. Are we?
4. Called to be saints (v. 7).
This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible, because it implies (as do other verses) that I am as much of a “saint” as Mother Teresa or Patrick. No, my children and husband would not agree. You wouldn’t either if you knew me! But in God’s eyes, I am. In the weeks ahead we’ll explore this topic in more depth, explaining what the word “saint” actually means, but for today, rejoice in the way that God views you. Also, think of the implications….
Why Write This Book?
So what was Paul’s purpose in writing this letter to the Roman church? (And yes, I’m almost done. I’m more wordy than Paul… and that’s saying something!)
1. Paul knew that the unbelieving world had their eyes on the believers in Rome.
Verse 8 says, “I thank my God through Yeshua the Messiah for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” Believers of the English-speaking world, the same could certainly be said of you!
2. Paul wanted them to be established in their faith.
Verses 9-12 say:
“For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.”
3. Paul knew what the power of God could do.
Verses 16-17 say:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Messiah, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
What can God’s power do? Well, it could raise Yeshua from the dead, and it has power to raise us from the dead, too—both physically (which is amazing) and spiritually (which is more amazing yet!). In short, the gospel changes lives.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I have a dream!” Ladies, I do too! I have a dream of women being established in their faith as they learn what it means to be recipients of God’s grace. I have a dream of women being sent out with a mission to a watching world. I have a dream of women who have chosen to have their spiritual ears pierced through as a symbol of their devotion to their Master, Yeshua the Messiah. I have a dream of women who live as saints, whose faith and obedience to the faith are seen among all nations.
Oooooooh… I have goosebumps! Do you?
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture in this blog post taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.