Summary: This is the 1st of 30 Studies on the Book of Romans.
Introduction to the Gospel
1Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.
The Apostle Paul begins by introducing himself as the writer of the letter. You might wonder, “Why does he start his letter with his name?” When we write letters today, our names come right at the end, right? But in those days, they wrote on parchment or scrolls. So if you were to write your name right at the end, as is our style today, you would have to unravel the entire scroll to get to the end. So they start with the person’s name. In fact, even today, when you write a letter in Tamil, we start with the name of the person writing the letter and then continue with the letter. So he started off by introducing himself by saying that he was the writer.
He then uses a title to describe himself – he calls himself a ‘bondservant of Jesus Christ.’ A bondservant was a person who has committed to serving somebody all through their life, but it was done out of his own choice. He wasn’t a slave as we would understand the term, ‘slave,’ in today’s context, where slavery is still in existence. In fact, even in those days, a slave was a slave for only 6 years, and then he was set free, unless he chose to be with his master for the rest of his life. Paul is using a term that was understood then, but he was saying, “I am a bondservant of Jesus Christ. I’m choosing to serve Jesus Christ for the rest of my life.”
Paul was called to be an apostle – we know the story of what happened on the road to Damascus. He was going there to persecute the believers in Jesus, and Jesus Himself appeared to him on that road, and his life was transformed completely. He was called by Jesus Himself to be an apostle. An apostle was a person who was sent out, and the beautiful thing is that he was not sent out by any spiritual leader like Gamaliel, under whom he studied, or by chief priests or by anyone else. He was sent out by Jesus Himself on an amazing mission that would last the rest of his life, and would impact the lives of many people in many places. Paul didn’t expect those things to happen.
Separated to the Gospel of God
Paul then says that he was separated for a very specific purpose in life – to share the Gospel of Jesus far and wide. His entire life’s mission and purpose changed. Not only was he no longer persecuting the believers in Jesus Christ, but he was now committed to share the good news of Salvation that Jesus came to offer the world. He refers to this good news as the Gospel of God. This was no ordinary news that people would be hearing – this was the greatest news they would ever hear – the most life-transforming news they would ever hear, as it came from God Himself. Paul was separated by God Himself to this service – what an amazing privilege indeed.
Which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures
Paul goes on to say that this gospel was no afterthought of God but was something the Lord had in mind long ago and had even revealed through His prophets in the Old Testament, referred to here as the Holy Scriptures. The Jews were aware that something amazing was going to happen; that God was going to do a work that would bring about salvation to the whole world, but they did not know the details, nor the time and ways of God’s working, and so when Jesus came, they did not recognise Him as being God’s Son and fulfilling Scripture that talked about Him.
Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord
This Gospel of God was concerning God’s own Son Jesus Christ, who is now Lord of all who believe in Him. This was no ordinary news about coming events, nor was it news about God’s desires for man or anything of that nature – it concerned His own Son Jesus Christ
Who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh
When Jesus came in flesh and blood into the world, He was fully God and fully man – not half God and half man. As a man, he was a descendant of King David, as God had promised in the Old Testament. (Read Isaiah 11, Jeremiah 23:5-6). Even though Mary was not a descendant of David, but only Joseph was, by Mary marrying Joseph, Jesus became the legal descendant of David, tracing his lineage through this adoptive father, Joseph.