People, the Gospel, and the Righteousness of God

Romans 1:1-17

Jerry A Collins




  • What is the significance of being set apart?
  • Why does Paul need to get to Rome?
  • How come the gospel is so central to our message?


Whenever we talk about things that last we often are reminded that it is people and the Word of God that have lasting value into eternity. People are eternal. Godís Word is eternal. Both people and Godís Word have implications beyond the grave. It is important that we spend our time and efforts in these two spheres. The introduction of the book of Romans makes both of these the centerpiece of itís message. Both people and the gospel are central to the message of this book and they are introduced to us as such in the opening verse of Romans. We will see this in 1:1-17. There are a handful of ideas communicated that formulate for us the theme and direction of the book of Romans.


A. Paul intros himself vs 1: 1. In relationship to Christ he is a bond-servant. It means a slave; a person owned by another. 2. Called as an apostle. It was God who gave him this special status (Acts 9; 14). The basis of his authority was this calling. It was not manmade. 3. Separated unto the gospel of God. The scope of his calling was narrow namely the with reference to or respect to the gospel. As a Pharisee he had lived set apart to Moses Law and Jewish customs but now it is the gospel of God; the message of good news from God centered in His Son.

B. This gospel in harmony with OT vs 2. It was a message God had promised not just prophesied. Itís origin is stressed with ďhisí & Ďholyí. It was God who inspired the OT revelation and writings. So this gospel was not unanticipated nor was it merely a human invention. Tho this gospel of God was promised in the OT, the church was hidden from the OT writers. Namely, that there would be an age when Jews and Gentiles would be part of the programs of God equally. This gospel was kept secret until the church age (16:25; Eph 2:14-3:9).


The content of this gospel is Jesus Christ, Godís Son. What is it?

First, He was genuinely human vs 3. His ID with Davidís seed and human flesh emphasize his true humanity. Second, He has divine status vs 4. His Divinity was asserted by means of His resurrection from the dead. This makes Him a powerful Son indeed. We do know that the Father (Eph 1), the Son (Jn 10:17-18) and the HS (Rom 8:11) were all involved in resurrecting Christ. Here, again it was according to the Spirit of holiness. So the gospel centers on Godís Son who was both human and divine. He belonged to two realms. As to His earthly connection, human origin was highest as a son of David with itís messianic qualifications. As to heavenly connection, He was resurrected from the dead pointing to His inherent power as Godís Son. If you do not believe in the resurrection of Christ you are wasting your time with Christianity!

Third, He has given Paul a gospel ministry vs 5. His ministry came from Jesus Christ and it consisted of a special grace of being an apostle. As a specially called human agent of Christ to the gentiles he brings them to obedience of faith. Faith is obedience to God because God commands everyone to believe in Christ. Obedience consists in faith here. Obedience equals faith. Fourth, This gospel is for everyone vs 6-7. These Romans are assured of being recipients of this gospel message too vs 6. Their calling is different than Paulís. His is to apostleship while theirs is to saints vs 7. Saint being common term designating believers where God has reached out and claimed individuals for Himself! Vs 7 really continues the thot of vs 1 with 2-6 similar to a parenthesis. The grace and peace here include the fullest sense of a deeper and richer experience of Godís favor. One receiving the gospel of Christ is linked in relationship with God as Father and Jesus Christ as Lord!


1. Thanksgiving for publicized faith vs 8. This section introduces Paulís prayer life and emphasizes his thanksgiving to His Father when he thinks of these Roman believers whom he has never meant but soon will. The reason for this praise is because their faith is continually being announced by others all over the Roman Empire. It is clear that their faith in Christ is marking them out in a way that is very noticeable. It is not hidden under a bushel. 2. His constant prayer for them in vs 9 made unceasingly, claiming to pray for them frequently without interruptions. To indicate his sincerity and genuineness of his praying he appeals to God as his witness to this. The same God he serves with His whole heart. 3. His petition to visit them vs 10. Again he pleads continually especially for the opportunity to finally visit them by the will of God. It is people and their spiritual need that are primary. Prayer is an absolutely essential part of our ministry with people and the gospel. 4. Reasons for wanting to visit them 11-15.

(1) Exercise his gifts for their benefit 11-12. He wanted to finally see them to finally serve them so that he can finally participate firsthand in strengthening them for their spiritual benefit. This ministry will be beneficial for both the Romans and himself in the sense that both can be finally comforted by one anotherís faith vs 12. We serve with a profit motive and even Paul wanted his own profit with his ministry as well as profiting others. It is not sinful to have a profit motive in life or ministry unless the profit you seek is sinful.

(2) To receive some spiritual fruit 13. The fruit here is the same kind of fruit he harvested among other gentile regions during his journeys. This harvest included everything from evangelism to discipleship. The whole gammet of his ministry he longs to see happen in Rome with these believers and this city.

(3) To fulfill obligations as a debtor 14-15. He is a debtor because they gave him a ministry which gives him fruit which is spiritually profitable for a heavenly reward. So the gospel-the good news of Christianity is not just the plan of salvation-tho it is that; it is also the whole council of God, i.e. the kingdom (Acts 28:30-31). This to greeks/non-greeks; the cultured and uncultured. To everyone!

5. A powerful gospel that saves anyone 16-17. (1) The power of God to salvation thru faith 16. His eagerness springs from his estimate of this gospel he has been speaking of. First he is not ashamed of it. The reason is because it has tremendous power to effect change. The word is Ďdynamiteí and when associated with God is supernatural power. So much so that it has the power to deliver anyone who believes itís message. This deliverance includes justification, declared righteous, redemption, sin paid for, reconciliation, a new relationship with God, sanctification, set apart in special way to God. Nothing left undone. It is full and complete. However this gospel is only effective when it is believed. Believe what? The good news that Jesus is the Christ and has done all necessary to deliver you from your sin. There is no other condition mentioned here. No works. No pledges. No commitments. The issue is believing good news about Jesus Christ. The Jews had opportunity first historically and now everyone. (2) Gospel makes righteousness of God manifest 17. A righteousness God provides for people on basis of faith in the gospel. It is the act by which God brings people into a right relationship with himself. From faith to faith or by faith from first to last means that such a righteousness comes to us only by faith. It is unachievable by any human effort. Hab 2:4 (Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38) tell us that as a result of faith in Christ a person is declared righteous and is given eternal life.





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