AN INTRODUCTION AND EXPOSITION OF THE EPISTLE OF ROMANS WRITTEN UNDER DIVINE INSPIRATION BY THE APOSTLE PAUL TO THE CHRISTIAN ASSEMBLIES IN ROME TO BE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BY ALL BELIEVERS IN ALL AGES EVERYWHERE.
J.A. Beet remarked that the epistle to the Romans in Paul “we have an author worthy of the epistle. In this epistle, we have a work worthy of Paul.
There are many books written by many authors that are worthy of our reading but for the sheer originality, clarity of presentation, power of expression, strength of purpose, none, not one author or historian can match the writings of Paul. Only the Bible itself taken as a whole body of work can make such a claim.
TEXT: ROMANS 1:1-6
Saul, According to Acts 23:6 Paul’s father was a Pharisee, therefore a Jew. Saul was born in Tarsus now Turkey then a province of Rome therefore “free born” in an area of Roman rule he automatically became a citizen of Rome as well as a Citizen of Israel. (This is true even today in our country that if a immigrant mother born her child in the US he was automatically a free born citizen of this country). When did he begin to be known as Paul? The answer is that Saul’s name was also Paul by virtue of his birth in Tarsus. Acts 9:11And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus : for, behold, he prayeth…It was the custom then of dual names and common in those days. From that verse on, Saul is always referred to in Scripture as “Paul.” [Source: Got Questions.org]
Paul, by his own words: was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, a Pharisee of Pharisees. Meaning, he was zealous for Judaism and an enemy of Christians who he felt were blasphemers worthy of exile, imprisonment, and or death. He was a slave to the Law of Moses and to the Temple in Jerusalem.
That all changed in a literal flash of light and what to those accompanying him sounded like thunder but was instead the voice of the LORD. While on his mission to Damascus to round up all Hebrew Christians he met Jesus Christ, risen from the dead and was instantly converted, called, commissioned, separated, and sent to the Gentiles. But first he had to continue to Damascus where he would meet one Ananias where the Lord informed him that Paul was to be the chosen vessel of Jesus Christ, be baptized, and sit with Christian men for a period of time learning the truth, becoming familiarized with the Way, the Truth and the Life and to prepare to begin the great work in God in man that would to this day be spoken of everywhere in every place where two or more Christians would be gathered—There he would learn how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.
Saul the persecutor now Paul, the “chosen vessel to bear the name of Christ to the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.
This epistle as do other such letters from Paul begins with a salutation: Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.
- To be a Friend of God is a high privilege; Jesus himself referred to us on occasion as “friends.”
- To be a son of God is a greater privilege; Christ’s sonship is different than ours. His was God begotten, not created, but eternal. We, on the other hand are sons of God by the new birth and adopted into God’s family – He is our Heavenly Father.
- To be set forth as an Apostle, even one who by his own admission was “born out of due time ” Is of even greater worth”. Paul means that the appearance to him came after Jesus had ascended to heaven. This apostle was highly favoured, but he always had a low opinion of himself, and expressed it. When sinners are, by Divine grace, turned into saints, God causes the remembrance of former sins to make them humble, diligent, and faithful.
- To be a servant (slave) of God is the greatest of all privileges and the highest of all divine honors because a slave/servant [Doulos] counts nothing of self; an owner of nothing, and wants only to please his Lord and does so by believing that God is all in all. Adam Clarke [a rough quote]
To be a servant of Jesus Christ connotes sacrificial obedience; constant and energetic zeal and fulfilled performance to the will and purpose of God. Such a person serves his master with love and respect.
He is bound not by chains of iron but with cords of love.
Not by constraint of cruelty of men, their whips and ropes but by love, mercy, grace, and truth.
He is separated to serve and not to sleep. Matthew Henry writes: See what a blessing the husbandman’s calling is, and what a wilderness this earth would be without it. See what great difference there is in the management even of worldly affairs. Sloth and self-indulgence are the bane of all good. When we see fields overgrown with thorns and thistles, and the fences broken down, we see an emblem of the far more deplorable state of many souls. Every vile affection grows in men’s hearts; yet they compose themselves to sleep. Let us show wisdom by doubling our diligence in every good thing.
Servants suffer willingly for their Master… James Packer gives us insight to the meaning of “Servant. “In our English New Testament “servant” usually represents the Greek doulos (bondslave-one who is purchased by another)). Sometimes it means diakonos (deacon or minister); this is strictly accurate, for doulos and diakonos are synonyms. Both words denote a man who is not at his own disposal, but is his master’s purchased property. Bought to serve his master’s needs, to be at his beck and call every moment, the slave’s sole business is to do as he is told. Christian service therefore means, first and foremost, living out a slave relationship to one’s Savior (1 Corinthians. 6:19-20).
What work does Christ set his servants to do? The way that they serve him, he tells them, is by becoming the slaves of their fellow-servants and being willing to do literally anything, however costly, irksome, or undignified, in order to help them. This is what love means, as he himself showed at the Last supper when he played the slave’s part and washed the disciples’ feet.
When the New Testament speaks of ministering to the saints, it means not primarily preaching to them but devoting time, trouble, and substance to giving them all the practical help possible. The essence of Christian service is loyalty to the king expressing itself in care for his servants (Matthew 25: 31-46).
Only the Holy Spirit can create in us the kind of love toward our Savior that will overflow in imaginative sympathy and practical helpfulness towards his people. Unless the spirit is training us in love, we are not fit persons to go to college or a training class to learn the know-how or particular branches of Christian work. Gifted leaders who are self-centered and loveless are a blight to the church rather than a blessing.
But again, why would any man be willing to suffer as Paul…and by the way as so many other men and women have served their Lord, welcoming death rather than to deny Christ.
2 Corinthians 6:5-10 5 In stripes , in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; 9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
2 Corinthians 11:23-30 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watching’s often, in hunger and thirst, in fasting often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? 30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
The question may be why would anyone be so willing, without constraint, to endure the physical and surely emotional pain, and survive rejection and finally the awful death that Paul suffered?
One might answer by saying, “he endured for Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God.” His suffering and demise is well documented but would this be enough reason to go through what this man did simply because he was dedicated to another?
Maybe. But I believe there was an even greater motive in view… Philippians 3:8-14 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul was able to look beyond his suffering by: pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus…THE RESURRECTION!
It may be argued that the Lord does not expect us to endure the pain, persecution, and personal privation as he required from Paul. But would that be true? I think not. Why? Because what was expected of Paul is indeed expected of you and me, although in different and various other ways.
True, the Lord may not require us to suffer as Paul suffered but I believe the least that is expected of us is found in Micah 6:8 — He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
Rather than to outline what it is to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk with God in humility, Let me share with you something that Matthew Henry suggests: Men will part with anything rather than their sins; but they part with nothing so as to be accepted of God, unless they do part with their sins. Moral duties are commanded because they are good for man. In keeping God’s commandments there is a great reward, as well as after keeping them. God has not only made it known, but made it plain. The good which God requires of us is, not the paying a price for the pardon of sin and acceptance with God, but love to himself; and what is there unreasonable, or hard, in this? Every thought within us must be brought down, to be brought into obedience to God, if we would walk comfortably with him. We must do this as penitent sinners, in dependence on the Redeemer and his atonement. Blessed be the Lord that he is ever ready to give his grace to the humble, waiting penitent.
Whatever is required of us our motivation ought to include giving our gratitude, love, and devotion to Jesus Christ with the knowledge that as Paul we too shall be raised from the dead — 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
Paul. When we send a card or letter to another person we usually sign our name at the end of the document. Paul, as was the custom in his day to introduce it at the beginning. See other Epistles of Paul.
- Called to be an apostle. Linguists tell us that “To be” is not in the original. Paul states that he is “an apostle and called,” not by men, but by the authority of Jesus Christ. The designation “apostle” means “one-sent.” This is different that being a disciple which means “learner or student.” And, for a time he was but soon that designation would not apply for he would become an Apostle which means “one sent.” Many would agree that Paul was second only to Jesus Christ when it comes to Christianity.
When God has something he wants us to do, such as we often hear someone say, “God has called” me into the ministry or to some other task. We do not always know the particular moment of our calling. It may take us some time to realize that we are indeed called to some particular purpose but we should all know that as Christians we are all called…either to Christ for salvation or to some specific purpose which may be a short or long term calling. In any case Paul reminds us in verse 6 and 7 that we are all called of Jesus Christ.
In the case of Paul, his calling was instant and specific. You will remember that he was called when he “saw the Lord,” an essential to apostleship. A true New Testament apostle had to have seen the Lord to be qualified to be an apostle. 1 Cor .9:1; Acts 26:13-18 where we see not only that Saul (Paul) actually saw Jesus Christ but at that very moment and for the first time received his commission. Those priests, Pharisees, and Scribes took issue later on with Paul and endeavored to destroy his claimed apostolic authority. He often found it necessary on several occasions to show that his commission was directly from the Lord therefore true.
- Separated. Having received his commission he was not yet ready to set out to the work to which he was Set apart which was to do the work of an apostle of Jesus Christ (see Acts 9:1-19). Christ had set him apart, arranged for his baptism and training among brothers concerning a more in depth doctrinal teaching. From the moment of his calling however, his whole life was consecrated to one task, the glorification of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the lost elect and to preach Christ and him crucified. One monumental task with many and varied objectives. To this task Paul never wavered, no not even toward the end of his life when he joyed in the work of the ministry and looked forward to his departure from this earth to stand in the presence of His Lord and Savior. The awl of suffering for Christ’s sake was driven through his ear lobe the moment of his conversion. He would serve his Lord faithfully out of deep and devoted love even up to the moment the sword would fall, severing the head of Paul from his body and before it fell prostrate to the floor the soul and spirit f Paul the apostle was embraced by the Master he so lovingly served. Paul would say, the prospect of being with Jesus is a far better thing!
Paul makes a wonderful declaration that I have come to realize in reading Paul. That declaration is found in Galatians 1 verse 15 where he boldly states that his calling, indeed his separation was in the plan of God in eternity when he says: But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen (gentiles); Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood…
A wonderful lesson is found in verse 15 where he says that God separated him at the moment of his birth! I have been queried in the past concerning the time when I knew God had called me into the gospel ministry. I will state that “as a boy” I felt the hand of God on my life and the implantation in my soul to be a minister of the gospel. But I cannot tell you the exact moment of my calling. Paul came to realize when for him, though he did not realize it, came at the moment when he took his first breath outside of his Mother’s womb!!!
It will benefit us to know that calling and separation unto the gospel does not mean that Paul was immediately ready to embark on his course of work for the Lord. Note in verse 16 he says that I conferred not with flesh and blood…The Lord did not send this new reborn lamb into the lair of the wolf unprepared. In first Corinthians 1:1 Paul says that his call to apostleship was through the will of God, and by his commandment I Timothy 1:1 …and Sosthenes our brother–!
I cannot tell you for sure, even if you thought it strange that Paul would include another man in regards Paul’s personal calling. But I can tell you who Sosthenes was that he was the “chief ruler of the synagogue in Corinth” and the same man who was taken and beaten by the Greeks becasuse he was a Jew Acts 18:17.
I might suggest why Paul includes him here. While there is no definitive explanation that I can find, it seems to me reasonable to assume that this chief ruler while at first an opponent of Paul, had later become a believer and the same Sosthenes then became a Scribe in the employment of Paul who defended and trumpeted Paul’s claim to be an authorized apostle of Jesus Christ.
Which he had promised afore, etc. Paul, was not a self-called apostle but one whose life’s ministry was determined and a fulfillment of God’s long-cherished plans, and had been promised through the prophets of the Old Testament.
Concerning his Son. Paul’s mission while simple was not easy to carry out however, when God calls a man to ministry, and thought the ministry not applauded by men, God always enables a truly God called man to endure with patience. The call may in the end seen by men as foolish especially if it may be ultimately cost him his life. Still, God will honor not so much that minister’s so-called success, He will give him a crown of glory and say to his servant, “well done.” In many cases this may be, thought wonderful, the only honor he will receive. A Christian, every Christian is called to proclaim that Christ is Lord Philippians 2:11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Born of the seed of David. The nature of David and the nature of God are combined in the Son, according to the flesh. This is an important and vital statement in describing Jesus Christ through your calling. He is the Messiah come in the flesh, human yet divine, man yet God. Anyone who denies this have the spirit of the antichrist. are pointed out in this and the next verse. As to his human body, he was a descendant of David, his mother being of David’s lineage. It is not necessary for us to defend this fact but merely to let the Holy Spirt do what he does with the word of God!
Declared to be the Son of God. Some conclude that Jesus never said he was the “Son of God.” This is literally true. However if it could be proven that he was the Son of God therefore the Messiah, the King of kings and Lord of Lords by his own declaration it is found in John 13:13
Where he says to his disciples on the occasion of the washing of their feet: Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am . Still it is argued that his statement does not directly prove his eternal Son-ship but there is one thing recorded and witnessed in the New Testament where in this he is vindicated.
The vindication that Jesus Christ is the God-man, the Son of the living God, the Savior of lost men is not found only in his perfect life, or in his many miracles, or in his awful mistreatment by men and religionists, nor even by his cruel death on the cross. The final and most important event that “declares” Jesus to be God’s Son is to be found in His resurrection from the dead! Yes, his claim to be the Son of God Though in human form his life and death was demonstrated to be divine by power, it is especially proven by the greater miracle of his own resurrection from the dead (Romans 1 verse 4).
According to the spirit of holiness. You might be interested in knowing what spirit raised Jesus from the dead. It was not his human nature though pure and without sin. However, it is implied by the text that there may be a spirit unlike his human spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. Instead Paul uses the phrase, “the spirit of holiness.” It was not directly by the Holy Spirit and must be noted that this is a contrast according to the flesh that is his human likness and nature in Rom 1:3, but refers to our Lord’s holy spiritual and divine nature. Thus the two natures of Jesus: human and divine. As a man he was descended from David (verse 3) therefor human, therefore man, but His pure, holy life was from God . One was a human nature; the other was a divine nature. This nature is spoken of as “the spirit of holiness,” because it is contrasted with sinful flesh.
By whom. That is to say “through” Jesus Christ. Or by virtue of the fact that “all authority” in heaven and in earth has been delegated to Jesus Christ to all believers, apostles and all who are in Christ to be of Christ. Matthew 28:18-20 All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
We have received. In “we” Paul is speaking of himself, and to other apostles, and to all believers. The work of the apostle is to go into the farthest reaches of the earth. Not all of us can or are sent into all the earth. Neither however is this command given only to apostles. If it were to mean only the apostles, then there would be none now or since then to go into all the world. So, the question arises, “who” is to carry out this command now that the apostles have long since departed into heaven?
The answer is found in Ephesians 4:1-16 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Grace. Verse 6. The grace, the favor and mercy of heaven is granted to all saints. Though not all believers that are saints all are called to be apostles. In fact there are no apostles like unto the apostles of the New Testament. But verse six reminds all of us that there is a calling to Christ to salvation and obedience. There is a calling, not necessarily a more noble or higher calling that an apostle, but a calling to love others through Christ and to serve him within the measure of one’s faith, obedience, and natural abilities. All Christians are called to his purpose, to proclaim that Jesus is the anointed Christ of God and by him and to him and through him are all things. Our calling is as of old, that is to proclaim the gospel to people wherever we may be and to abstain from all appearance of evil.
Apostleship. All saints were not apostles, but one must be a saint to be an apostle. Without the general grace he could not have the special gift of apostleship.
For obedience to the faith. The apostleship was given in order to lead all nations to obedience to the faith. The faith is a synonym for the gospel. Observe that it is a system of obedience. In the apostolic age there were no recognized believers but obedient believers.
Among whom are ye also the called. From among “all nations” (Rom_1:5). The members of the church at Rome, though partly Jews, were mostly Gentiles. They had heard the gospel call, had obeyed it, and were now “the called of Jesus Christ.” In the next verse, they are said to be “called to be saints.”
To all that are in Rome. To all Christians in Rome. The letter is addressed to the church in the great imperial city. Rome was the capital of the world, the home of Nero, the emperor, the largest city on earth, supposed to contain about two million inhabitants.
Saints. All Christians were called saints by the New Testament writers. Any one consecrated to a holy life is a saint.
Grace to you and peace. This is the ordinary New Testament Christian salutation. It is the expression of a prayer that God the Father and our Lord may bestow favor and peace upon them. The Father is the source, and our Lord Jesus Christ the mediator and procurer of these blessings. Whenever we say or write to another Christian (for we are not even to wish “God Speed” to an unbeliever) or any other such greeting or farewell saying, we are in truth uttering a prayer for God to bless that person in some manner or another. We must be careful to actually mean such a prayer else our words be vain (empty).