Romans 1:1-7

New International Version

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

This passage sets the stage for Paul’s profound theological discourse in the Book of Romans, addressing themes such as justification by faith, the righteousness of God, and the inclusion of both Jews and Gentiles in God’s plan of salvation.

Identification and Calling of Paul

Paul opens his letter by identifying himself as “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1). The title “servant” (doulos) signifies not only Paul’s devotion to Christ but also his acknowledgment of Jesus as his Master and Lord. Paul did not elevate himself above his assigned position but considered himself as belonging wholly to Jesus, emphasizing the subordinate role he played as Christ’s servant.1 Furthermore, Paul’s calling as an apostle is highlighted, emphasizing that it came directly from Jesus Christ and God the Father 2, underscoring the divine authority behind his ministry.3

Purpose and Theme of Paul’s Ministry

In verse 1, Paul states that he is “set apart for the gospel of God.” This implies that his entire life and purpose are dedicated to proclaiming the good news of God. This gospel was promised in the Holy Scriptures through the prophets, emphasizing its fulfillment as a part of God’s divine plan (Romans 1:2). The gospel centers on God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who, in his human nature, is a descendant of David (Romans 1:3). This highlights the fulfillment of messianic prophecies and affirms Jesus’ humanity, a key aspect of Christian theology.4

Verse 4 declares that Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power through his resurrection from the dead. This event validates Jesus’ divinity and authority, as it is the resurrection that sets him apart and authenticates his claim to deity.5 The resurrection is the linchpin of Christian faith, as it verifies Jesus’ teachings and demands for discipleship.6

The Universal Scope of the Gospel

In Romans 1:5, Paul emphasizes the universal scope of the gospel, stating that he and others received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. Faith and obedience are intrinsically linked, and biblical faith is an active commitment that results in obedience.7 Paul’s mission was to take the gospel to the entire world and see the nations turn to God in a faith that transforms their conduct.8

Calling and Belonging to Jesus Christ

Paul affirms that the Roman Christians are also among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ (Romans 1:6). This calling is not merely an invitation but a powerful and effective reaching out by God to claim individuals for Himself. The concept of belonging to Jesus Christ underscores the idea that accepting Christ as Savior involves surrendering all rights to oneself and acknowledging Him as Lord.9

Recipients: The Beloved in Rome

In verse 7, Paul addresses his letter to the Christian believers in Rome, describing them as “loved by God and called to be saints” (Romans 1:7). While God’s love extends to all humanity, Paul emphasizes that those who respond to Him in faith experience a special love that transforms them into new creations 10 and calls them to holiness. The ultimate purpose of God’s calling is that redeemed humanity becomes like Him in holiness.

Grace and Peace from God

Paul closes the salutation with a Christianized greeting: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7). The combination of “grace” and “peace” reflects the relationship between God’s unmerited favor (grace) and the well-being and reconciliation that believers experience through it (peace).11 This greeting reinforces the intimate connection between believers, God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Notes

  1. Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 59–64. ↩︎
  2. Galatians 1:1 ↩︎
  3. F. F. Bruce, “Romans: An Introduction and Commentary,” Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, vol. 6 (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985), 77-81. ↩︎
  4. Mounce, Romans, 59–64. ↩︎
  5. Mounce, Romans, 59–64. ↩︎
  6. Mounce, Romans, 59–64. ↩︎
  7. Mounce, Romans, 59–64. ↩︎
  8. Mounce, Romans, 59–64. ↩︎
  9. Mounce, Romans, 59–64. ↩︎
  10. 2 Corinthians 5:17 ↩︎
  11. William Barclay, “The Letter to the Romans,” 3rd ed. fully rev. & updated., The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002), 13-17. ↩︎