Lesson 1

The Epistle to the Romans

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 1:2 which he promised before through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 1:3 concerning his Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 1:4 who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 1:5 through whom we received grace and apostleship, to obedience of faith among all the nations, for his name’s sake. 1:6 Among whom you are also called to be Jesus Christ’s. 1:7 To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Today's Lesson 

Paul introduces himself to the Roman Christians as an apostle of Christ. The word "apostle" is used in two different ways in the New Testament. The origin of the word is "one who comes with a special message or commission." The most common use in Christianity is to use the term as a title reserved for the original 12 chosen by Jesus and later applied to Paul because of his special commission by the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus. The Acts of the Apostles uses the term in a much looser sense, however. For instance, Acts 14:14 uses the term to describe both Paul and Barnabas. By the time of this writing, perhaps many people could legitimately claim the title of "apostle."


Paul does not seem to be calling himself an apostle in this wider sense here, but rather in more restrictive, narrow sense. Paul is not just another message, one of many. Rather, he had received his calling and sanctification by the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. He had been "set apart for the gospel of God." This gospel was the good news about God's Son. This Son was born of the seed of David, greatest king of Israel, and declared to be the Son of God by the power of His resurrection from the dead.


It is through this Jesus Christ that Paul has received his apostleship. Paul had been traveling to Damascus from Jerusalem with orders from religious leaders in Jerusalem to persecute the Christians of Damascus. But he was visited by the Risen Christ who appeared before Paul and whose glory struck him with blindness. On that road the Risen Christ told him that he was to be an apostle to the Gentiles and a minister to those whom he had been persecuting. Paul's special mission was to bring the gospel of God to "all the nations."


For this purpose Paul was a servant of Jesus Christ. Jesus of Nazareth had become for Paul his "Lord" in the uniquely Jewish sense of Lordship. To the devout Jew, no man could take the place of God in his hearts. They were commanded to have no other gods before the true and living God. And Paul was a devout Jew. When Paul speaks of "God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" he does so only because he has now seen the unity of God in that Jesus Christ and the Father are uniquely one. As Jesus said in the Gospel of John, I am in the Father and the Father is in me.


This letter is written, "to all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints." Just as the power of God had called Paul to be an apostle, the power of God had called these people in Rome to be saints. They had been set aside by the power of God to the "obedience of faith." And these people who are called to be saints are the "beloved of God." God is with them and for them in all that they do in life.


Paul's blessing on them is, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." For Paul, grace and peace are the twin blessings of life in Christ. The Jews greeted one another with "Peace," shalom. But the peace of the new covenant of Christ is peace that is granted through the grace that is ours in Christ. It is through Christ that we find grace and peace.


"To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." The same blessing is applicable to your city and place in life. Grace and peace are offered to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Will you accept their offer of grace and peace? Will you open your heart and home to the love of God, which is in Christ?


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