(Originally posted on June 8th, 2014 on a previous blog)
The Book of Romans
(From the Manual Bible)
Author: The Apostle Paul
Audience: Christians in Rome
Date: About A.D. 57
Setting: Paul who was in Corinth, was about to visit Rome after making a stop in Jerusalem. Before his visit he wrote to the Christians there to introduce himself and to tell them about God’s Salvation.
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God– 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. 6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am going to start by breaking down this section, piece by piece. It is not something I will do for the whole book, except when I feel it will be useful. I love Paul’s introductions and think there is a lot of substance that often gets overlooked because it is just an introduction. The Bible states that we are not to add or subtract from the word of God. And this is part of the word of God. So it must be important. So let us take a look at it.
First a Word study (from studylight.org)
A servant ( δοῦλος )
Lit., bond-servant or slave. Paul applies the term to himself, Galatians 1:10; Philemon 1:1; Titus 1:1; and frequently to express the relation of believers to Christ. The word involves the ideas of belonging to a master, and of service as a slave. The former is emphasized in Paul’s use of the term, since Christian service, in his view, has no element of servility, but is the expression of love and of free choice. From this stand-point the idea of service coheres with those of freedom and of sonship. Compare 1 Corinthians 7:22; Galatians 4:7; Ephesians 6:6; Philemon 1:16.
Paul, a servant
Before I go any farther, the reason I did the above word study was two fold. One – I know the word servant comes with a lot of baggage and it is a very sensitive word. I want you to understand that it does not mean the same thing that you might associate with this word. Second – I want everyone to understand what Paul is saying. Word studies are important. They help you understand the word of God more vividly.
If you were to ask Americans today if they are Christians, many would answer yes. But if you would ask those same people would they consider themselves servants of Jesus Christ. I think you would lose most. In today society it is about what can you/God do for/serve me, not what can I do for/serve you/God. Make no doubt about what kind of Christian Paul was. Paul was not a “Sunday” Christian. Paul was bought with a price and he knew that and his identity was that. Every day we carry around signs not knowing it, that say where our identity lies. It might be football or another sport, it might be food or drink, it might be boyfriend or girlfriend, it might be choir member in your local church, it might be father, mother, wife, husband, etc… Whatever is most important to us, is our main identity and trust me the world can easily tell you what your main identity is. They see it very clearly. It is the thing you are always doing or always talking about. Are you trying to tell me that any identity that isn’t servitude is bad. No. You have many identities, not just one. But you only have one main one. You have one that will rise above all. Please let me be clear. Being a father, mother, husband, wife, choir person, preacher, etc… are all noble and IMPORTANT identities that should not be taken lightly and deserve great attention. But they are not why you will be in heaven. Servitude itself does not get you into heaven, but comes part of the package. You will never go and buy the most beautiful car that you ever seen, drive it into the desert and leave it there to rot. Not you will take it protect it and love it and care for it and want the same in return. God bought us with His Son and did not leave us in a desert, He loves us, cares for us and is concerned with every second of our lives, and yes He expects the same in return. So, you might say but God hasn’t called me into ministry, I feel called to do what job I am presently doing. But even in your present non-ministry job, God has called you to ministry there. And your identity can and should still be serving God. Serving takes place where ever you presently are, not just on a building with a cross on it. And when you stand before God almighty and he is going over your life, do you want any other identity to be over HIM. Many say God first, family second, friends third, but their identities don’t equal that.
of Christ Jesus,
We established that Paul identity was being a servant and why it is important. The next phrase tells of who this servitude is to. Christ Jesus is the source of this servitude. You either serve God or not. There is no in-between. Paul also uses a specific name so that there was no doubt in who he was referring to. He didn’t say I serve god, but he says Christ Jesus. If you want to refer to me and you are talking to someone else and just say John, most people know a lot of John’s, so they may not think of the right person. Not only that In Paul’s time there were a lot of people claiming to be prophets or followers of certain prophets. Paul did not want to be grouped with any of those. Also many worship many gods. Paul is clear in his statement as he refers to one and one only. Make no doubt who Paul was serving. In today’s society there are many different religions. People throw the words religious and church around and you have no true clue of what god they might be serving. Paul was not religious, he served Christ Jesus. Also this phrase is especially important that his identity didn’t stop at servant, because that would of meant – he served himself. If our identities are not followed by for/of Christ Jesus, then they come back to us. Are you a husband by the grace of Christ Jesus devoted to your wife and children to glorify Him? Or are you a husband? Are you a professional football player gifted by Christ Jesus to glorify Him? Or are you just a professional football player? Are you a cashier at McDonald’s serving Christ Jesus through interacting with people, representing God? Or are you a cashier at McDonald’s? We need to make sure our identity is clear and that we don’t leave it up to interpretation. Our main goal as Christians is to glorify God in everything we do. Not some things or some times. All the time and everywhere. Make no doubt about it when you don’t give credit to God, Satan will step in and take the credit through you every single time. I promise, he won’t miss one opportunity. Don’t let him steal credit that God deserves.
called to be an apostle
We have established the nature and importance of Paul’s identity and to who that identity was attributed to. Now Paul will tell the purpose of that identity. There is two purposes. This phrase describes the first purpose. The first one was called to be an apostle. Called means that it comes from someone else. Back in the day before cell phones, if you called the number your dialing from (which means you called yourself), you would get a busy signal. Today you would go to voice mail. Why because you can’t call yourself. It makes no sense. You need another person at another place to make a call. In the same way – a calling can’t be from yourself. So who was the calling from. Paul already told us who that was – Christ Jesus. It also means that Paul did not wake up one day and say I want to do this. Actually Paul was headed in the opposite direction before God got a hold of him (Read acts 9). God changed Paul’s identity and was responsible for the purpose. So why do we today try to dictate where, when, how and what our calling is? Why when God calls us to clean toilets or do the jobs that we feel are beneath us, do we throw a fit and try to say we are not called to do that? Do we spend the time in prayer and in His word to properly seek His calling or do we look for the one where we think we can capture some of that glory for ourselves. When we try to take responsibility away from God, we steal the Glory that is owed to God. Paul knows he doesn’t deserve to take credit for what God has done in his life. He knows that he would not be where he was without the amazing grace and mercy by God. Called to be an apostle is a very important phrase and perspective because it helps guard against pride. A majority of the new testament was written by God through one man, even though he did not know it at the time. Paul was a great leader of the time and he could have been overwhelmed with pride, but this perspective helped to keep him in his place. What about you? Did you choose where you are today or did God call you to do what your doing. Again I believe God can call you to many jobs that primary function is not ministry. He can call you to be teacher, welder, healthcare, trash picker, etc… but that will never take that your first responsibility is to Him. Are you giving God credit for where you are? Are you glorifying Him in your place? The awesome thing is that if you take your calling as serious as God chose the perfect calling for you, your impact can be as great or greater than the apostle Paul’s. Because it will not be because of you, as it wasn’t because of Paul. When you align yourself in God’s calling the impact is His and His will always be the greatest.
So what is an apostle? They were individuals, chosen by God and entrusted with special messages for certain people. There are the original 12 disciples minus Judas, that became apostles and there was Paul. The 12 were given the great commission by Jesus himself and Paul was given his commissions by the Spirit. Apostles don’t exist today because we have the Bible (the gospel).
set apart for the gospel of God —
This is part 2 of the purpose. I decided I wanted to look up the definition of set apart, so I typed it in to Google and I came across this definition that I thought was pretty cool. To reserve for a specific use. I really like this. God reserved Paul for a specific use. The word reserve means that there was great thought and purpose put into something. God didn’t just flip a coin or throw many dice and leave it up to chance. God knew what was best and choose the perfect thing. The cool thing is that God didn’t just do that for Paul. He does that for you and me. He has taken time to choose and know what is perfect for you. You don’t have to worry about that.
So what was Paul reserved for – the gospel of God. The lines after this phrase means he is going to go more in-depth with this and he is specifically going to say why this is important for this letter. But let us take a more generic look at this. The gospel is the “Good News” of God. The “good news” is that Jesus lived the life we could not live, died the death we could not die, paid the price we couldn’t afford, and conquered death which we can not do. And He did that because He loved us. There is a responsibility that comes with acceptance of this truth. That we must not keep it to ourselves and we have to replicate it daily.
Before going any further. In the “old testament” God gave us the ten commandments. They were given to us not to make our lives miserable. There were two reasons that they were given. A) If you were to follow these commandments to the fullest you would live the most stress free great life you could ever live. These rules were protection not exclusion. B) It was impossible to live a perfect life. You can’t keep them which means you can’t get into to heaven. This is where Jesus comes in. Because He lived that perfect life and with His death, took the punishment for all our sins. So if we believe and accept the life and death and resurrection of Jesus our sin is paid for, which means we can enter into heaven. If you have not done this and you understand that you are a sinner – which means you deserve not to enter heaven which only leaves hell. And you believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and accept him as your Lord and Savior and have not asked Jesus into your heart and would like to. Then pray with me – Dear Heavenly Father, I know that I have sinner and I am not worthy of your love, but I also know that you sent your Son to die on the cross for my sins, and I thank you for that. I accept Your Son as my savior and promise to follow Him the rest of my lives. Thank you so much for this wonderful gift. In Your precious and holy name , I say Amen. Congratulations and welcome to family of God. Seek a local church in your neighborhood and let them know what you did.
This was just the first verse, of the first chapter of Romans and look how much information we can get out of it. And to think all he did was tell us who he was. When you tell people who you are – what are you actually telling them?