Summary: In Paul’s initial address in the letter he seeks to establish who he is & what he is about. He is God’s man & everything he is & does revolves around God
ROMANS 1: 1-7
"A CALL, A GOSPEL, AND A TASK"
In the preface to his commentary on Paul’s letter to the Romans, Martin Luther wrote: "This letter is truly the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. It is well worth a Christian’s while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul. It is impossible to read or to meditate on this letter too much or too well. The more one deals with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes."
The book of Romans is placed first in front of all the other letters of Paul because it is considered the most important. Not only is this his longest letter, it contains his longest greeting. Paul’s letter was to be received by a church which was situated in the greatest city in the greatest empire in the world. He was writing to a church who did not know him personally. Thus in his initial address in the letter he seeks to establish who he is and what he is about. He is God’s man and everything he is and does revolves around God (CIM).
The letter’s recipients will affirm who he is if they are those whom he addresses as; called of Jesus Christ, beloved of God, called Saints. What he is about is to bring men to obedience to the Good News through faith in Jesus Christ.
I. Set Apart By the Good News, 1:1.
II. The Meaning of the Good News ,1: 2-4.
III. The Reason for the Good News, 1: 5-7.
First, let’s look at verse one where Paul states that he is called by God and set apart for the Gospel. As is the custom in a scroll type letter the Apostle begins with a declaration of his name and office. It was his office of apostleship that gave him the right and responsibility to address every Christian every where with authority.
He announces that he is "Paul." Paul is a Roman name. He is the only one of the biblical writers who uses his gentle name instead of his Hebrew name. Paul ( ), means little. His Hebrew name, Saul, of King Saul fame, means demanded (Acts 13:9).
He announces that he is "a bond-slave of Christ Jesus," This word for slave ( ) is the most lowly humble term in the Greek language to denote a slave. It means one owned by another, one who has been purchased. It indicates a slave who will always be one.
Paul calls himself this kind of bond-slave of Jesus Christ (genitive of possession). He belongs to Jesus Christ. He even puts the designation that he is a slave of the King of kings ahead of his office of Apostleship.
Paul was born a slave of sin at his physical birth and became a bond slave of Christ through his regenerative second birth. The cords that bound him to his old master, Satan, were rent asunder by his taking Christ’s death on the cross for his own. And now Paul’s will, which was once dominated by Satan, is swallowed up in the cleansing will of Christ, and nothing will ever break that bond.
For a Roman citizen such as Paul, to choose to be a servant was unthinkable. Yet Paul chose to be completely dependent on and obedient to his beloved Master. What is you attitude toward Christ your Master? Our willingness to serve and obey Jesus enables us to be useful and usable servants to do work for Him, which is work that has eternal significance.
"Paul, a bond-slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle." An apostle ( ) is one sent out on a commission, an official representative sent for a purpose [Moulton & Milligan]. Paul is designating himself as a divinely summoned ambassador. [His credentials were his miracles.]
He was called to assume that office. Paul was called in the sense that God summoned him to that position and placed him in it. The office conferred upon him responsibility and the authority to carry it out.
"Paul, a bond slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God." Paul defines his apostleship by the words separate unto the Gospel of God. [Apo "out from" & hoizo - "to mark off by boundaries, to limit, separate, appoint area or service."] This compound word means "to mark off from others with boundaries, to set apart and place within limits."
The limits of his Apostleship were the "Gospel of God." The word "gospel" is good news. The good news that Paul is set apart with is the good news which is of and from God. Paul was Christ’s chosen vessel set apart for God’s Good News.