The letter to the Romans was written by Paul about the year A.D. 57. Write at the beginning of the letter, He introduces himself as Paul and gives us his credentials of who he is and what gives him the authority to preach the gospel. He then goes on to show that the gospel is authoritative and true.
Romans 1:1 (ESV Strong’s)
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
Paul starts by saying that he is a servant of Christ Jesus. That is, he is the servant of the Messiah whose name is Jesus. I am only mentioning the Messiah to ensure that we understand that Christ is not Jesus’s surname but, His title. The Greek word translated here as slave, is the word “doulos” which means (Gk-EnLex_NT) to being under someone’s total control. Paul is therefore telling us that he is under the total control of Jesus. It is Jesus who directs his every word and his every act. He is operating fully under the will of Jesus.
Secondly, Paul tells us that he was called to be an apostle. To be called here means (Gk-EnLex_NT) to being invited. Paul’s point here is that he did not declare himself an apostle but was invited to become one. The word apostle means a messenger. He was invited to become a messenger, one who conveys the message as he has received it. One who will not add or subtract from the message but, one who will tell it as it is.
Lastly, Paul tells us that he was set apart for the gospel or the good news of God. The word “set apart” means (Gk-EnLex_NT) to select one person out of a group for a purpose. Paul says he was chosen out of a group of people, in this case, it simply refers to being chosen out of humanity for the purposes of preaching the gospel of God or spreading the good news message of God. Who set Paul apart? 1 Cor 1:1 says Paul was set apart by the will of God and Acts 13:2 says he was set apart by the Holy Spirit. We also know that it is Jesus who confronted him on his way to Damascus. Therefore the triune God was in full agreement that Paul is to be set apart.
Therefore, Paul was personally chosen by Jesus to be under the full control of His will, and His will was for Paul to be a messenger who will spread the good news message of God. He will do and say exactly what Jesus wants him to say, nothing more and nothing less. Chosen by Jesus to preach the gospel of God.
The Source of the Gospel
(ESV Strong’s) 1(c) set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures
Paul right from the start, makes it very clear that the source of the gospel is God. It is not some message that Jesus and His apostles created but, it is a gospel that was promised by God beforehand through His prophets in the holy scriptures. Paul is simply saying that the promise of the gospel is rooted in the Old Testament and it is from God. So, Paul is using scripture as the basis for arguing against claims that might arise that the gospel that he is preaching is man made. Because it is from God, the gospel is authoritative and true.
The Centrality of the Gospel
Romans 1:3-4 (ESV Strong’s)
3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,
Paul says this gospel that he is commanded to preach, not only comes from God and promised by Him in the Old Testament, but it is centered around His Son. Paul makes it very clear that the gospel that he is commanded to preach begins and ends with God’s Son. The Son is at the center and the gospel is all about Him. The Gospel is not about healing or prosperity or about us, it is the gospel of God and it is about His Son.
Paul then continues to describe the Son. He says the Son was born from the descendants of David the King of Israel and therefore makes Him a King, in line to the throne. Paul also says that although he was born as a human being from the line of King David, He was declared to be the Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit, when He was raised from the dead and His name is Jesus Christ who is our Lord, meaning who is ruling or has authority over all of us.
Therefore, the gospel that Paul is commanded to preach, comes from God and was promised by God through the prophets who wrote the Old Testament. This gospel is about Jesus Christ who is the Son of God and a King and Lord over all of us. This same Jesus, is the one to whom Paul is a servant, a slave, handpicked to spread this gospel message.
I say Paul is making a good argument here that, we should listen to what he says. Not only has he shown that he is authorized to preach the gospel but, He has also shown that He has been authorized by the Son of God to preach a gospel that is from God, that is about Jesus, and therefore carries in itself the highest authority. Paul has shown that the gospel which is all about Jesus, has authority and that he is authorized to preach it. The last and most important point is that, not only does the gospel have authority but, it is also true and without contradictions because it comes from God. Amen.
Therefore, based on this argument, it is clear then that the gospel is authoritative and true without any contradictions and Paul, is equally authorized and carries the authority to preach this gospel.
In the next post, we will talk about the mandate of Paul, why he was chosen and the extend of his mandate.