Chapter 1

This Epistle to the Romans is THE key N.T. doctrinal book.  One pastor has called this Book of Romans “The Constitution and By-Laws of the Christian Faith.”  I certainly cannot find any fault in this assessment of this epistle. Paul wrote this letter to the Romans, about 58 A.D., he was in  Corinth.  He had a great desire to visit Roma and to preach there (Acts 19:21).


“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God.”

         “Paul” (Grk.–Paulos)–His original (Jewish) name was Saul (pronounced: Sha-ul), but by this time this was changed by him and it is by this name of Paul that he is commonly known.  Paulos seems to have been a favorite name among the Cilicians and the nearest    approach in sound to the Hebrew Saul.  Paul was from Tarsus, which was located in the Roman province of Cilicia)

         Paul (Latin:  Paulus; pronounced Pa-ul-us) was his Roman name, and Saul his Hebrew name.  He may have changed to the Roman name when he became the apostle to the Gentiles.  It is interesting that the name Saul means, “large” or ”big” while the name Paul means, “little.”  When Saul, the Jewish “big shot” under the Law, saw the Lord Jesus Christ, he also saw his own true condition, and he became Paul, the “little shot.”
        Notice that we only see listed here Paul.  There is no Silas, or Timothy, or Barnabas, or anyone else isted here with Paul.   Why is this?  It is because he, and only he was called by the Lord to be an apostle-“called to be an apostle.”

“a servant of Jesus Christ”
(Grk.–doulos Christou Iēsou)–Literally in the Greek:  “A slave of Christ Jesus.”–
One who is not free; one who has been purchased, as Paul makes so clear that all believers are such (I Cor. 6:19-20).  Paul took upon himself this position of a servant/slave willingly, but the Lord Jesus did not do so.  Christ loves us and gave Himself for us, in order to purchase us out of the slave market of sin, but He never makes us slaves. 

    SERVANT:  (Grk.–doulos)–The word really means a slave; one who is the property of his master; and this is how the word is used here by Paul. He felt he was not his own, and that     his life and powers belonged to his heavenly Owner, and that he had no right to dispose of or employ them but in the strictest subservience to the will of his Lord.

In this sense, and in this spirit, he is the willing slave of Jesus Christ; and this is, perhaps, the highest character which any soul of man can attain on this side of eternity. A friend of God is high; a son of God is higher; but the servant, or the slave of God, is higher than all.  In a word, he is a person who feels he has no property in himself, and that God is all and in all.

         “called to be an apostle,”          
         Literally:  “a called apostle.”– Paul was a
 bondservant (slave) before he was an apostle.

           CALLED:  (Grk.–klētos)—The word, “called,” does not merely mean to be “invited, but rather it has the sense of being appointed.  The word really means designated” or set apart” by an action of God to some special sphere or manner of being and activity.

1.      Paul was set apart by God.
        God had set him apart for a particular task.  Likewise, for each one of us, God has a plan; no believer’s life is purposeless. 
        God has left us in this world to do some definite task.

2.     He was set apart by the Church.
       When the Holy Spirit told the leaders of the church in Antioch to separate him and Barnabas for the special mission to the Gentiles
       (Acts 13:2).

         In verse 6 the saints are shown as being “called of Jesus Christ.”  And in verse 7 the believers are called “saints” (Grk.–hagois).  To be called of Christ and to be used by Him is our goal; the destiny of all believers. 
         It was William Penn who said that “We will either be governed by God or ruled by tyrants.”  If Jesus Christ is not our Lord and Master, inevitably we shall be mastered by some tyrant, perhaps even the tyrant of self, which is the worst tyrant of all.  No man is really free except the one who is the slave of Jesus Christ.

         APOSTLE:  (Grk.–apostolos)–Literally: “a sent out one”; one sent out to execute a commission.  It is applied here because Jesus Christ sent out His apostle to preach His gospel, and to establish His church.  The word apostolos, comes from (Grk.–apostellein), which means, to send,” and  simply signifies a messenger or envoy.  Here it means one sent by God Himself to deliver the most important message on behalf of his Maker;—in a word, one sent by the Divine authority to preach the Gospel to the nations

In Luke 6:13 we read that Jesus, “…called unto Him His disciples:  and of them He chose twelve, whom also He named apostles.”  Peter gave the requirements for being an apostle (Acts 1:21-23)—that they had seen the resurrected Lord Jesus.  Paul met this qualification on the road to Damascus when the Lord appeared to him.

         “separated unto the Gospel”
          Literally:  “separated to glad tidings.”–

            SEPARATED:  (Grk.–aphōrizō)– The word is a verb and means, “to mark off; to designate; to mark out by fixed limits.”  It is the root from which we get our English word “horizon.” 

         The Greek word aphōrizō denotes those who are separated, or called out from the rest (Acts 19:9; II Cor. 6:17).  The meaning here does not materially differ from the expression, “called to be an apostle,” except that perhaps this includes the notion of the purpose or designation of God to this work.
        When you are separated unto Christ He brings you to the place where your horizons are enlarged. This is really the meaning of repentance:  separated from Satan and the world, and separated unto Christ. A Christian who is separated from something and not separated unto Christ will have a barren life

    GOSPEL OF GOD:  (Grk.–euangelion Theou)–The  word “gospel” means good news.  , It was not Paul’s gospel.  It comes directly from eternal God Himself.  It not only is the Good News of God, but it is the Good News from God. 

It was designated or designed by God that I should make it my business to preach the gospel. It is called the gospel of God because it is by His appointment–it was originated by Him, and has His authority. The office of an apostle was to preach the gospel. Paul regarded himself as separated to do this work. Keep in mind that Paul was the ONLY apostle called to preach to us non-Jews; that is, us Gentiles.

            “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify my office” (Rom. 11:13).
           “For He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision (to the Jews), the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles”

           "And when James, Cephas (Peter), and John, who seem to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, that we {should go} unto the heathen (Gentiles) and they unto the circumcision (Jews)”–(Galatians 2:8-9).     

This now brings us to this question:  “Just what is this “gospel.” There is much confusion about the gospel.  We even hear men say, they “preach a little gospel,” but they really have no idea what the gospel really is. We find the gospel defined by Paul in I Cor. 15:3-5:

    “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures;”
    “And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures:”

    “And that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:” (I Cor. 15:3-5).

This, all in a nutshell, defines the gospel.  You will not find the gospel in The Sermon on the Mount; (no death, burial and resurrection of Jesus seen there); nor will you find the gospel in the Psalms, or in Proverbs.  Anything that does not portray the death, burial and resurrection of Christ is not the gospel.  Other teachings may be good instruction for our living, but they are not to be confused with the gospel.

“Which He had promised afore by His prophets in the Holy Scripture,

         “Which He had promised afore”
          Literally:  “Which He promised before.”–Which gospel, or doctrine, He had announced before.   

             HAD PROMISED BEFORE:  (Grk.–proepēngeilato)–Used only here in the N.T.  Paul’s training in the O.T. that he had received as a Pharisee is shining through here.  Both in the Law and in the prophets, God showed His purpose to introduce into the      world a   more perfect and glorious state of things.

        Paul now begins a parenthetical part of his letter; a parenthesis that extends through verse 6.  Here Paul is using his knowledge of the Old Testament and is referring back to prophecies given back then. Keep in mind that Paul is writing to the Church in Rome, and many, if not most, of the members of that church were Jewish.  The church there in Rome may have been started by Jews who were in Jerusalem on that day of Pentecost when Peter preached his great message of the Messiah–“strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes”  (Acts 2:10).

Pentecost Nations

        Paul is emphasizing that the gospel was not something new and never before known; on the contrary, he is here emphasizing that it had been prophesied by the O.T. prophets. He is telling the Jewish believers there in Rome that the Gospel was not an innovation of his; that it was not just a N.T. or apostolic invention.  The message of the O.T. is identical to that of the New.  Never forget, that the Jehovah of the O.T. is the Christ Jesus of the N.T.   in fact, the very name Jesus means, “Jehovah saves.”  God NEVER changes (Malachi 3:6).

“by His prophets in the Holy Scripture”
Literally:  “Through the prophets.” —The word “prophets” here is used to include those who wrote as well as those who spoke. In fact, Paul will go on and reiterate this fact in 3:21—“But now the righteousness of God without the Law is manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the prophets.”

             HOLY SCRIPTURE:  (Grk.–egraphais hagiais)–This is the writings of the O.T. They are called “holy” because they were inspired by the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit Who inspired the N.T. writers–"All Scripture {is given} by inspiration of God (inspired by the Holy Spirit) (II Tim. 3:16).

      Though the Gospel might appear to be new, they were entirely consistent with all that had been declared in the Jewish writings.  In Luke 24:27 we read that the Lord Jesus, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself”—(i.e., the Gospel).
         Though the Roman Church was Gentile by nation (see on v. 13), yet as it consisted mostly of proselytes to Judaism, they are here reminded that in embracing Christ they had not cast off their teachings of Judaism, but only the more profoundly yielded themselves to Moses and the prophets (Acts 13:32, 33). He affirms, therefore,
1.      That all this was promised, and no small part of the epistle is employed to show this.
2.      That it was confirmed by the authority of holy and inspired men.
3.      That it depended on no vague and loose tradition, but was recorded, so that men might examine for themselves.

         The reason why Paul was so anxious to show that his doctrine coincided with the O.T. was, because the church at Rome was made up largely of Jews. He wished to show them, and the remainder of his countrymen, that the Christian religion was built on the foundation of their prophets, and their acknowledged writings. So doing, he would disarm their prejudice, and furnish a proof of the truth of religion.
         Paul had never been at Rome; therefore, he was personally a stranger to the church there in Rome, and it was proper for him then especially to show his regard for the doctrines of the prophets. This is why he appeals so often to the O.T.; and defends every point by the authority of the O.T. writings. We may see here,
1.      The reverence which Paul showed for the O.T.
         a.      He never undervalued it.
         b.      He never regarded it as obsolete, or useless.
         c.      He obviously studied it; and,
         d.      He  never fell into the impious opinion that the O.T. is of little value.
2.      If these things were promised-predicted in the O.T., then Christianity is true.

You cannot know about the Christ of the Bible without studying the Bible of the Christ.  The two are inseparable.  They are both revelations of God:  with Christ being the physical revelation of God, and the Bible being the written revelation of God.  Later on in this first chapter Paul will show that God was constantly in the process of revealing Himself to man.

  1. He first revealed Himself in His first person as the Creator and source of all things.
  2. He revealed Himself to Abraham and the Patriarchs.
  3. He revealed Himself to Moses on the mountain top.
  4. He revealed Himself in the Scriptures.
  5. He revealed Himself through His prophets.
  6. He at last revealed Himself in human form as Jesus the Christ.

“Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh”

“Concerning His Son”--That is, the Gospel relates everything concerning the conception, birth, preaching, miracles, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.     

There can be no gospel apart from Jesus Christ, “His Son.”  The Gospel is centered in Him. Apart from Christ there is no “good news” (gospel). There is running rampant today a false gospel that says we should accept the religion of Jesus, and not accept a religion about Jesus.  The Bible teaches us just the opposite of such teaching.  One cannot come to know God without first knowing Christ–“No man cometh unto the Father but by Me” John 14:6.

“was made of the seed of David according to the flesh”
Literally:  “Having come out of the seed of David, according to the flesh.”  Paul has already stated that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; now he says that He is of the “seed” of David. 

          SEED:  (Grk..–spermatos)—He is descended from David physically.  This tells of the humanity of Jesus Christ—the virgin born son of Mary of the lineage of David. 

Jesus is both God (deity—the physical incarnation of God) and man—the God-man; therefore, He is qualified to be the Go-Between (the “daysman”–Job 9:33) to connect God and man.  He is not half-God and half-man; on the contrary, He is ALL God and ALL man at the same time—this is called the hypostatic union.

           WAS MADE:  (Grk..–genomenou)—translated here as “was made,” usually means, “to be,” or “to become.” It is used here, however, in the sense of being born. Thus, Gal. 4:4, “God sent forth His Son made of a woman,” literally, “born of a woman.” John 8:58, “Before Abraham was (born,) I am.” In this sense it seems to be used here-who was born, or descended from the seed of David.

“And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:”

“declared to be the Son of God”

Literally:  {Who was} marked out Son of God.”  When Jesus (as a man) stood in the Jordan River after being baptized by John, the Holy Spirit descended as a dove and a voice from heaven proclaimed, “This is My Son in Whom I am well pleased” (John 1:32-34).

          DECLARED:  (Grk.–horisthentos)—This word is basically the same as the word in v. 1 that is translated as “separated.”  It primarily means, “defined, or declared; designated for something.”

“with power”
Literally, “in power.”  He was “designated” or designated in a striking, or mighty, manner; that is, through His resurrection.  With a miraculous display of Divine energy; for, how could His body be raised again, but by the miraculous energy of God?  

“according to the spirit of holiness”
Literally:  “according to {the} Spirit of Holiness”–This is speaking of the Holy Spirit.  What we have here is the Tri-Unity in view—God the Father making the declaration; Jesus—God the Son the One who is being declared or designated; and the Holy Spirit providing the power of the resurrection.

“by the resurrection from the dead”
Literally:  “By resurrection from {the} dead.”–His resurrection proves everything!  It is the resurrection of Christ that sets Him forth as the Son of God.  Jesus Himself said that the sign of His deity would be when He came forth from the dead, like Jonah—“For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth(Matt. 12:40).