Romans Chapter 1, verses 1-7
These first seven verses form the longest introduction of any of Paul’s letters. He was trying to introduce himself and his theology to a church who did not know him personally and may have even heard negative information about him. From this opening section we can see something that makes Paul so different than others. It is not who Paul is, but about who’s Paul is.
Following his conversion, Paul changed his name from Saul to Paul. “Saul” means “requested One”—the man in demand. “Paul,” on the other hand, means “little.” Commentators are divided as to why Paul changed his name from “requested one” to “little.” Some say it was the result of his humility. As Saul, he was a proud Pharisee who looked down on other men. But when he was converted, he was broken.
Others say Paul changed his name because of accessibility. About to travel throughout the Roman Empire, Paul got rid of the Hebrew name of Saul to take on the Roman name of Paul.
Humility or accessibility—which caused Paul to change his name? It most likely was both. Paul was a great man who lived in humility, which, in turn, gave him accessibility.
Don’t you find yourself more willing to accept and listen to a humble person, than an arrogant person? Many times bold and arrogance shuts people off, regardless of what they have to say.
Just like if we were given instruction or guidance from someone we did not know, we would take it with a grain of salt. A majority of the church goers in Rome would not have heard of Paul. That is the reason Paul opens the book by clarifying his credentials.
- Servant of God
- He was an apostle
- He was a preacher of the gospel
- He was missionary to gentiles
Scripture reading: Romans 1:1-7
1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; 7 to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:1-7 NASB)
Bond Servant (slave)
Some translations use the word “slave”, others use “servant”, but it is important to take into account the real word Paul used. The Greek word he used was doulos (doo’-los). Exodus 21:2 sheds light on what this means: In Israel, a slave was required to serve only six years before he was set free. If, however, at the end of six years, he said, “I like it here. I want to become a bondslave,” the master would drive a nail through his right earlobe and place an earring in it, signifying he was a doulos, a slave by choice.
The word doulos is used with the highest dignity in the New Testament – namely, of believers who willingly live under Christ’s authority as His devoted followers.
It’s a wise decision to give yourself fully to the Lord as His bondslave because He takes excellent care of those committed to Him. Their lives are filled with purpose and focus; their hearts with peace and joy.
Perhaps you’re saying, “I’m my own man—captain of my destiny, master of my fate. I don’t serve anyone.” But reality says otherwise. Everyone will serve someone. Bob Dylan wrote some lyrics: “It may be the devil, or it may be the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody.” And Paul chose to serve the Lord in totality.
Do you feel like a bond-servant of Jesus Christ?
What is holding you back?
Called to be an apostle
This is often overlooked, but it is wise to clarify that it was God’s choice, not Paul’s to become an apostle. There is a common statement: “God helps those who help themselves”. Let’s be clear. That is not biblical. It is not biblical to think that we have to cooperate for God to use us.
God will interrupt and use people that are not prepared or willing. Just take Paul for example. What was he doing when things all changed? He was pursuing Christians to kill them.
What was going on in your life when Jesus called you?
Let us renounce that whole concept of” we need to get our act together before he uses us”. We need to realize God will come and partner with us to change us to be who he wants to be. He does not wait for us to be prepared to surrender and serve. Consider it on the job training.
We do not get grace as a reward for preparing, planning and straightening up our act. God gives us grace to allow us to be transformed by the Holy Spirit to be who He wants us to be.
SPECIAL TOPIC: CALLED
God always takes the initiative in calling, electing, and wooing believers to Himself (cf. John 6:44,65; 15:16; 1 Cor. 1:1-2; Eph. 1:4-5,11). The term “calling” is used in several theological senses.
- Sinners are called to salvation by the grace of God through the finished work of Christ and the conviction of the Spirit (i.e., klētos, cf. Rom. 1:6-7; 9:24, which is theologically similar to 1 Cor. 1:1-2 and 2 Tim. 1:9; 2 Pet. 1:10).
- Sinners call on the name of the Lord to be saved (i.e., epikaleō, cf. Acts 2:21; 22:16; Rom. 10:9-13). This statement is a Jewish worship idiom.
- Believers are called to live Christlike lives (i.e., klēsis, cf. 1 Cor. 1:26; 7:20; Eph. 4:1; Phil. 3:14; 2 Thess. 1:11; 2 Tim. 1:9).
- Believers are called to ministry tasks (cf. Acts 13:2; 1 Cor. 12:4-7; Eph. 4:1).
Set apart for the gospel of God
Set a part –
Before his Damascus Road encounter with Jesus, Paul was a well rooted pharisee but now he was separated to the gospel.
The concept of set apart is related to the Hebrew word for “holy”, which meant “set apart for God’s use” (cf. Exod. 19:6; 1 Pet. 2:5). The terms “saint,” “sanctify,” and “set apart” all had the same Greek root, “holy” (hagios).
Do you know why the bible is referred to as Holy?
The meaning of holy represents “set apart” just as God set the nation of Israel apart from her contemporaries to be a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). Similarly, Christians are set apart from unbelievers who walk in darkness, as described by Peter: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” This “set apart” aspect of holiness is true of the Bible because it is a book set apart from all others. It is the only book written by God Himself, the only book that has the power to set men free (John 8:32), to change their lives and make them wise (Psalm 19:7), to sanctify them and make them holy (John 17:17). It is the only book that gives life, comfort, and hope (Psalm 119:50), and it is the only book that will endure until the end of time (Matthew 5:18).
Now you know why your bible is labeled “Holy Bible” and not just “Bible”
Does the lyrics “Holy, holy, holy” now take on a new meaning?
Set apart, set apart, set apart…
The Greek word translated “gospel” is euaggelion, from which we get our word “evangelist.” In the Septuagint (, this was the word used when the people of Israel were released from their Babylonian captivity. It meant, “You can go home. You’re free. Good news!”) For further information on the Septuagint, check out this page on WMOG: Septuagint.
Good News, not just Good Advice
Truly, the gospel is Good News—not just good advice. A lot of preachers, authors, and speakers try to make Christianity a bunch of good advice. Most best-selling Christian books today are full of good advice about child-rearing, financial planning, or marriage counseling. But remove the name of Jesus Christ from most of them, and it won’t affect the book at all.
We’ve got something so much better than good advice. Let’s be on guard against sermons or authors, churches or organizations that only give good advice. If we can take Jesus Christ out of a sermon without affecting it, we’re probably wasting your time. If we can take Jesus Christ out of a book without affecting it, we’re probably wasting our time reading it. Paul wasn’t separated unto the good advice of Christian living. He was separated to the Good News of God.
Who Jesus was and is
Verses 3 through 5 really lays the foundation of who Jesus, the Christ really is. It gives an account for the gospel.
Here Paul summarizes the Good News about Jesus.
1. came as a human by natural decent
2. was part of the Jewish royal line through David
3. died and was raised from the dead
4. opened the door for God’s grace and kindness to be poured out on us.
What, who and why
Let’s examine verse 5 in a bit more context. We may be enlightened by this one verse.
through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake,
This is a typical sentence in the bible that is just read and taken as fact, but never really soaked in. Seems like a common sentence from Paul; grace, apostleship, obedience and we call it a good verse. But it is more than that. Let’s over a couple different translations and see if can understand this verse in what Paul was attempting to convey.
By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name
Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.
through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake,
Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.
through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations
It is through Him that we have received grace (God’s unmerited favor) and [our] apostleship to promote obedience to the faith and make disciples for His name’s sake among all the nations,
Do they all tell the same message? I hope it is clear that this sentence is a nugget of truth from Paul that gives us personal definition.
So the translations start out with the idea that from Jesus, we received grace and authority (apostleship)
Why have we received grace and been selected?
to promote Obedience of faith.
What do you think obedience to faith means?
When I first read the verse the word obedience jumped right out. This is something that I am supposed to obey. Here is a rule to follow. But that is not the case.
When we read the whole sentence and have it in perspective we can realize that we receive grace and authority to train and encourage others to be obedient to faith. (Make disciples)
It is important to remember that Paul did not write the book of Romans to unbelievers and spewed these sentences to persuade them to follow Christ. This book is written to followers, like you and me. Paul wrote it to transform lives of believers, who were expected to be obedient. Check out these translations….
A couple helpful hints on obedience:
Don’t focus on work, focus on faith, it will then produce works of faith.
Any attempt of obedience that does not include faith is futile.
If our obedience came from our works, we would get the glory. If we walk in life through faith living by what God provides, God will get the glory.
If it was about being obedient, it would just be a manual on what to do and then we could earn our way to heaven. If we can’t earn our way to heaven, then we know that actions cannot lead motivation and intentions.
No one but God can see & know an act of faith. Obedience is noticeable/visible.
Why should we receive grace and authority to make disciiples?
His name sake
Why do we exist? I exist ultimately because that the name of Christ be exalted. The ultimate goal of God’s dealing with us, is that the name of Christ be exalted in our life, job, family, friendships and where we go.
Do people read the banner of Christ off our life?
Reiteration of the opening?
Re-read verse 1.
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
Now verse 5
through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,
Compare it to what we just got laid out to us in verse 5. Can you see the basic theme Paul is constructing? Paul declares who’s he is in verse 1, then verses 3-5 declares who the focus is on, then he wraps it up with an invitation, inclusion (verse 6) and encouragement.
So if you get in that situation when your confused, you may even be depressed. You could be battling through a lot of “me, me, me” and your questions tend to wind back to “why?”. I would like to suggest to use this powerful verse to remind yourself the foundation of your Christian walk.
You have been provide the ability and authority of the creator to make disciples for His glory.
Should we just skim over that and call it a good sentence by Paul? I would suggest to grasp what this sentence is really doing. It is pointing back to Jesus’ last directive to us.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:19-20
Grace and Peace
One of the great characteristics of Paul is his consistent use of the basics. You will find in each of Paul’s letters the common greeting of grace and peace. He is consistent in this ordering because we need to understand without God’s grace you cannot have peace. We must first receive grace to even have peace, which is why even in his greetings Paul speaks the truth consistently.