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Study and Exposition of Romans 1:1-7

A. Introduction

The apostle Paul was unreservedly committed to Christ and to the ministry of the gospel. He regarded himself as called to both his master’s side and to the promulgation of the good news—news inextricably bound up with the death, resurrection, and exaltation of his Lord and God’s richest blessing upon sinful, erring human beings. In short, his self-construal was—and always will be—since the Damascus road anyway, one who was a free and willing slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. Undoubtedly, he could think of no higher calling and privilege.

Dedicated athletes illustrate similar allegiance, trust, and responsiveness to their admired coaches. They often provide examples of belief in another. Indeed, they willingly promote their coach’s agenda in their own lives and in the lives of other players. His goals become their goals. A university basketball player, for example, who believes in his coach because his coach knows what it takes to win (after all, he’s a former NBA champion), will do whatever that coach says. He believes the coach is right. If the coach tells the player to change this or that technique, he will do it even if it feels awkward and initially causes him to shoot poorly. If the coach says to run four miles a day or lift weights thirty minutes a day, the dedicated athlete will do it even though it hurts.

Now, of course, there can be downsides to strong, negative coaching influences, but where the relationship is positive and healthy, why does it happen? Because the athlete believes the coach knows better than he/she does what it takes to play at peak performance and to win under pressure. When you truly believe in a person in authority, you follow that person, gratefully responding to their every direction. Our obedience to Christ is of a similar nature.16

  • He who serves two masters must lie to one!
  • True freedom is found in bondage to Jesus Christ.

B. Translation of Passage in NET

1:1 From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God 1:2 that he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 1:3 concerning his Son who was a descendant of David with respect to the flesh, 1:4 who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1:5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles on behalf of his name. 1:6 You also are among them, called to belong to Jesus Christ. 1:7 To all those loved by God in Rome, called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

C. Full Exegetical Outline

    I. The nature of Paul’s Christian vocation was that he was a slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, and set apart for the gospel of God—that is, the promised good news concerning Jesus Christ (his humanity and divine nature)—and that through him Paul received, for the sake of Christ’s name of “Lord,” grace and apostleship in order to lead Gentiles to trust Christ (1:1-5).

      A. The nature of Paul’s vocation was that he was a servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, and set apart for the gospel of God (1:1).

        1. Paul was a servant of Christ Jesus.

        2. Paul was called as an apostle.

        3. Paul was set apart for the gospel of God.

      B. The gospel of God was promised beforehand through the prophets in holy scripture and concerns Jesus as the son of God—a descendent of David according to the flesh, and the one declared the son-of-God-in-power, according to the Holy Spirit, and by his resurrection from the dead (1:2-4).

        1. The gospel of God was promised by the prophets in the holy scriptures of the Old Testament (1:2).

        2. The gospel of God concerns Jesus, God’s son, who was a descendent of David according to the flesh (i.e., according to his human lineage; 1:3).

        3. The gospel of God concerns Jesus Christ who was appointed the son-of-God- in-power according to the Spirit and by his resurrection from the dead (1:4).

      C. Through Christ, Paul received grace and apostleship in order to lead Gentiles to trust Christ for the sake of the name of Jesus, i.e., Lord (1:5).

    II. The Roman Christians, to whom Paul gives his customary greeting of “grace and peace,” were called to belong to Christ Jesus, loved by God, and called as saints (1:6-7).

      A. The Roman Christians were called to belong to Jesus Christ (1:6).

      B. The Roman Christians are loved by God (1:7).

      C. The Roman Christians are called as saints (1:7).

      D. Paul greets the Roman Christians with his typical greeting of “grace and peace to you from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:7).

D. Simple Point Outline

    I. Paul: His Vocation, The Nature of the Gospel, and the Purpose for His Apostleship (1:1-5)

      A. Paul’s Vocation (1:1)

        1. He Was A Servant of Jesus Christ.

        2. He Was Called As An Apostle.

        3. He Was Set Apart for the Gospel of God.

      B. The Nature of the Gospel of God (1:2-4)

        1. It Was Promised in the Holy Scriptures.

        2. It Concerns Jesus God’s Son.

        3. It Concerns Jesus as a Descendent of David.

        4. It Concerns Jesus as the Son-of-God-in-Power.

      C. The Purpose of Paul’s Apostleship (1:5)

    II. Paul’s Greeting to the Roman Christians: Their Calling, Love from God, Status as Saints, Greeting Proper (1:6-7)

      A. They Were Called to Belong Jesus Christ.

      B. They Are Loved by God.

      C. They Were Called To Be Saints.

      D. They Have Grace and Peace from God.

E. Exposition Proper

Before we actually look at the details of Romans 1:1-7, a few things need to be pointed out. First, the actual introduction to Romans begins in 1:1 and ends in 1:17. This unit itself, however, can be broken down into three distinct, yet related sections. The first section is the salutation proper in 1:1-7. It concerns Paul’s apostolic calling and mission, along with his heartfelt, yet semi-typical greeting given to a church. The second section is 1:8-15 and concerns Paul’s desires and plans to visit the church in Rome. The third section, namely 1:16-17, concerns the power of the gospel. It serves as a thematic outline for the entire book. More will be said on these points, their inter-relation and contribution to the book as a whole, as we move through the commentary.

The second point we want to make relates to the nature of the salutation in 1:1-7. The typical format in the Greco-Roman world in Paul’s day was to include the name of the sender, the recipients, and a brief greeting (“From A to B, Greetings”). All of this Paul has done, following the standard formula. He has, however, greatly lengthened the salutation in comparison with other examples from the culture. The lengthening of this section demonstrates the emphasis Paul placed on the gospel and his relationship to it. Thus the salutation has a distinctive theological and christological orientation, something obviously unheard of in the wider pagan world.

Third, the introduction in 1:1-17 is similar in many respects to the ending of the letter in 15:14-16:27 (esp. 15:14-33; 16:25-27). Together they form a kind of inclusio (i.e., book ends) with great stress laid on Paul’s mission to Gentiles, the gospel, and obedience (= faith).

1:1 Paul refers to himself by his Latin (Roman citizen) name Paul (perhaps his cognomen), rather than his Jewish name, Saul—a change which is recorded in Acts 13:9, 13.17 What is most amazing about Paul the author or Romans is not that he didn’t have the rhetorical skill or intellectual prowess to write well, but that justification by faith through grace should be the subject discoursed upon by this one time persecutor of the church, legalist, and Christ hater. Paul, the converted Pharisee, was the God-ordained, Spirit led author of this marvelous epistle in which he unfolds the gospel of God’s mercy and righteousness. The fact that God used such a man reflects the stunning freedom of His grace and the transformation He brings through the gospel. In short, Paul was a living example of the things about which he spoke (and still speaks) in Romans.

Further, Paul’s name appears alone in the salutation, whereas in his other letters, except Ephesians and the pastorals, he always includes his coworkers with him, if not by name (e.g., 1, 2 Cor) then at least generally speaking (Gal 1:1-2). There is good evidence that he wrote the letter from Corinth and that Timothy was with him (cf. Rom 16:21), so why does he not include him and possibly others in his opening greeting? After all, this appears to have been his habit. First, it must be noted that since Timothy is portrayed in a positive light in 16:21 it does not seem likely that Paul refused to mention him because he had fallen into disrepute with the Roman church. Yet again, Paul does not mention him. The most likely suggestion is that since Romans is Paul’s exposition of his gospel, and since he sought financial assistance from the Romans to preach his gospel into Spain, he mentions only himself in order to take ownership for his doctrine. The letter to the Romans explains the pure gospel he preaches and teaches and this is the gospel the Roman church can be sure he will carry to the west! Mentioning Tertius as the amanuensis need not count against this thesis (16:22). Also, the fact that Paul goes on to label himself “a servant of Christ Jesus, an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God…to call people from among all the Gentiles” seems to stress his personal and profound commitment to the preaching of the gospel, a fact further highlighted by the conspicuous absence of any mention of his co-laboring friends.

In Romans 1:1 he gives himself three designations: “slave,” “apostle,” and “set apart.” First, Paul considered himself a slave of Christ Jesus (douvlo" Cristou' jIhsou', doulos christou Iesou). While it was unthinkable to a cultured Greek that a relationship with a divine being would involve slavery, it was not at all uncommon for the Jew. Undoubtedly the background for the expression “a servant of the Lord, etc.” is to be found in the Jewish Old Testament scriptures so that it does not connote drudgery, but honor and privilege. It was used of Israel at times; she was referred to as the “servant of the Lord” (cf. Isa 43:10). But it was especially associated with famous OT personalities including such great men as Moses (Joshua 1:1; 14:7), David (Ps 89:3; cf. 2 Sam 7:5, 8) and Elijah (2 Kings 10:10). All these men were servants of the Lord. Yet, while the expression evokes a tremendous sense of honor, for it was an extreme privilege to serve YHWH, it is not Paul’s desire in this context to simply place himself among venerated OT saints. Neither is it his goal to simply express his gratitude to be a servant of Christ Jesus (though both are true). His aim, rather, is to communicate in plain terms his commitment and devotion to the Messiah Jesus. Though there are several reasons for his allegiance to Christ, it is ultimately due to his recognition of who Jesus is; Paul’s insertion of “Christ Jesus” into the OT formula “a servant of YHWH” shows the high view of Jesus that he maintained. He considered Jesus worthy of the same heartfelt obedience and zealous devotion as YHWH.

Second, the particular nature of Paul’s servanthood or slavery to Christ is further clarified with the designation apostle (ajpovstolo", apostolos). Apostleship was not something he usurped for himself, as did the false apostles, but he was indeed called (klhtoV", kletos) by the risen Lord himself (Gal 1:1; Acts 9). While Paul refers to Epaphroditus as an apostle he does so only in the general sense of one who is a messenger (cf. Phil 2:25 and the Net Bible note; see also Rom 16:7). When he refers to himself as an apostle, on the other hand, he is thinking in particular of being one of the select group of people chosen by God and gifted (1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4:11) as an authoritative spokesperson for him. There were certain necessary qualifications (1 Cor 9:1ff) and together the apostles, as recipients of divine revelation, formed the foundation of the church with Christ himself as the chief cornerstone (Eph 2:20). Paul had seen the risen Christ (1 Cor 9:1; 15:8) and was specifically commissioned by God to carry the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; Rom 1:5). On numerous occasions God confirmed both his choice of Paul and the teaching that the apostle advanced in the church universal (Acts 9:22; 14:3; Romans 15: 18-19; 2 Cor 12:12; Gal 2:1-10; 3:5). To the Romans, Paul was an authoritative spokesman for God. They will want to keep this in mind when he covers certain serious issues such as sin and Jew-Gentile relations in the church (cf. Rom 6:17).

Finally, Paul says that he had been set apart (ajfwrismevno", aphorismenos) for the gospel of God. The Greek term translated “set apart” means to “mark off with boundaries.” It is used in Matt 25:32 in reference to setting apart the sheep from the goats in the judgment (cf. Matt 13:49). Paul says that he had been set apart, marked out, as it were, for the gospel—a divine choice not altogether different from God’s call to Jeremiah (Jer 1:5). Though he says that this occurred at his birth (Gal 1:15), the historical outworking of that divine decision came to expression on the Damascus road, some thirty or so years later (cf. Acts 9). Further details regarding the precise nature of this call were concretized in Acts 13:2 when the church at Antioch recognized the Spirit’s timing and choice of Paul for the mission to the Gentiles.

The gospel of God (eujaggevlion qeou', euaggelion theou) is the good news of God’s plan of salvation, including justification, redemption, reconciliation, sanctification, and in the eschaton, vindication. All this comes to realization through the person and work of his son, Jesus Christ. But, as Cranfield points out, the term “gospel” was also used in Greek culture to refer to the birth of an heir to the emperor, or his coming of age and accession to the throne.18 But, while that may have been good news to some people (and to some not so good news), the gospel of God is good news for all men, Jew and Gentile, the wise and the foolish alike. Paul says that God’s good news is the gospel about his Son whom we find out later in Romans is the true sovereign and savior of all men (cf. 10:9-10).

1:2 Paul makes it doubly clear that the gospel of God, which includes the salvation of the Gentiles, is deeply rooted in OT promise. He is not preaching some foreign idea with no connection to the prophetic scriptures. On the contrary, God had long ago promised the gospel through his prophets in the holy scriptures (diaV tw'n profhtw'n aujtou' ejn grafai'" aJgivai", dia ton propheton autou en graphais hagiais). The coming of Christ is the prophesied culmination to a long history of OT expectation. Jesus Christ is not an afterthought, but the very realization of God’s plan for the world, Jew and Gentile. With his coming, comes the dawn of the much looked for messianic age, when the powers of the future invade the present! Indeed, Jesus himself is the gospel, the heart therefore of the kerygma!

Later on, in chapter four, we will see Paul’s use of OT scripture to flesh out his argument here and that the proper interpretation and fulfillment of OT hope is in Christ. Thus Paul’s new understanding and use of the OT will be critical in his synthesis of Law and gospel throughout Romans and will factor greatly in his extended argument concerning the place of Israel in God’s present administering of the gospel (cf. 9-11).

1:3-4 The “gospel of God” concerns his Son (tou' uiJou' aujtou', tou huiou autou). While there are some difficulties in the interpretation of vv. 3-4, the important thing to keep in mind is that the idea of Jesus Christ being God’s eternal son precedes any thought of his role in salvation history and the incarnation. He is first of all, the very son of God, before he assumed human nature. Thus the following material in vv. 3-4, which was probably a creed in the early church, relates to his incarnation, work of salvation according to promise, and his subsequent exaltation.

The reference to Jesus as a descendent of David according to the flesh functions on two levels. First, it makes plain that the eternal son of God took on full and complete humanity (John 1:1, 14; Phil 2:6-11) without which there can be no good news for the sons of Adam. Second, the explicit link with David is not just to suggest his humanity, but also to make clear his special relationship to the line of promise. Jesus met the qualifications of one to whom the promise of 2 Samuel 7:12-16 could be made (cf. also Pss 72; 89). This theme of Jesus’ Davidic lineage will surface again in passages like 15:12.

The promise in 2 Samuel 7:12-16 is extremely important in the New Testament and the connection to it here is apparent (e.g., Matt 1:1; Acts 13:34; 2 Cor 6:18). Nathan tells David, among other things, that he will never lack a “son” to sit on his throne. Jesus, by virtue of his obedience and subsequent resurrection, has been appointed (tou' oJrisqevnto", tou horisthentos; i.e., in keeping with the language of the appointment of Davidic kings) the “son-of-God-in-power” for eternity (that is, the new and final Davidic ruler). In short, the resurrected messiah (note the stress on Christ Jesus in 1:1) fulfills the promise that one of David’s descendants would sit on David’s throne eternally and rule over the nations. It is likely that OT passages such as Psalm 2:7 stand behind Romans 1:3-4.19

Thus the use of word “appointed” is a functional comment about Christ’s new role in God’s government of the world and not a statement about his essence before or after the resurrection. There is no adoptionist Christology here! Jesus was, is, and always will be the son of God from eternity to eternity. He entered into, however, the new salvation-historical role of the universal Davidic king (“son”) at his resurrection/exaltation (cf. Luke 2:36). From this vantage point he is the Davidic Son who reigns in-power (ejn dunavmei, en dunamei).

At the close of 1:4, Paul refers to Jesus as Jesus Christ our Lord (jIhsou' Cristou' tou' kurivou hJmw'n, Iesou Christou tou kuriou hemon). The idea of Jesus’ universal Lordship is often connected in the New Testament to his resurrection and exaltation to a place of power and authority (cf. Matt 28:18; Acts 2:36; Phil 2:11). And so it is here, not surprisingly (cf. Rom 10:13).

1:5 Paul says that through Christ we received grace and apostleship. The “we” is probably editorial, that is, it refers to Paul alone. He mentions only himself in 1:1, and the following phrase “for the obedience of the faith among all the Gentiles” seems to corroborate this idea since it was particularly Paul who was called to the Gentiles. Thus Timothy, though a stalwart companion of Paul and minister to the Gentiles (Rom 16:21), is probably not included in this comment.

The expression grace and apostleship is probably intended as a hendiadys meaning “grace for apostleship.” In other words, the nature of the grace (cavrin, carin) to which Paul refers here is linked closely with apostleship (ajpostolhVn, apostolen) and must be viewed as that divine enablement which worked itself out in the context of Paul’s apostolic calling and vocation (cf. Gal 2:8-10).

The direction of Paul’s apostolic efforts was to win obedience to the gospel—an obedience which comes about by faith—and this he hopes to achieve among all the Gentiles (ejn pa'sin toi'" e[qnesin, en pasin tois ethnesin). Here we have one of the many universalistic statements of Paul concerning the scope of the offer of salvation in Christ (cf. e.g., 1:16). Though Jesus came as the fulfillment of OT promise he is not for the Jew only (cf. 3:27-31), but indeed for all the Gentiles as well (i.e., not just the God-fearers). His name (ojnovmato" aujtou`, onomatos autou) is that of YHWH and he is Lord over the entire world (10:9-10).

Further, his call as an apostle was to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles on behalf of his name. The expression obedience of faith (uJpakohVn pivstew", hupakoen pisteos) has been variously interpreted. Some likely suggestions include: (1) “obedience which springs from faith”; (2) “obedience in the faith where faith refers to the doctrinal commitments of Christianity (cf. Jude 3); (3) “obedience which is faith.” Since the epistle begins with “obedience of faith” (1:5) and ends with the same expression in 16:26, we may well conclude that what comes in between—in chapters 1:18-15:13—is directly related by way of elaboration and clarification. That is, the intervening chapters, chalked full as they are with ideas of sin, justification, and practical holiness “unpack” for us what the expression “obedience of faith” means. Therefore, we ought not to separate “obedience” too far from “faith,” (option #1) nor “personal faith” from “doctrinal commitments” (option #2). Undoubtedly, the vagueness of the expression is meant to capture the breadth of our Christian experience in terms of coming to faith in Christ initially, the nature of true faith as obedience, as well as doctrinal committments believed for those in the faith and living obedient lives. All this is covered in Romans 1:18-15:13 and alluded to in this “short-hand” expression.

Paul makes it clear that the particular sphere of ministry assigned to him by the Lord was the Gentiles. His mission in life was to reach all the Gentiles with the gospel, a task he had been given for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that is, for Jesus’ glory and honor. His mission initiatives can be studied in Acts 13-28.

1:6 The Roman Christians should rejoice because they are among those Gentiles who have been called (klhtoiV, kletoi) by God to belong to Jesus Christ (jIhsou' Cristou', Iesou Christou).

1:7 Further, the Roman Christians, as is the case with every Christian, are loved by God (ajgaphtoi'" qeou', agapetois theou)—a love which he expressed explicitly in the cross. As Paul will say in chapter 5: “But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It is that same love that he has also poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (5:5).

The Roman Christians are also called to be saints (klhtoi'" aJgivoi", kletois hagiois). The term “saints” means to be “set apart.” In this case it is not something that the Roman Christians did by attempting to grow in holiness, but something God did for them when he saved them. He set them apart to himself and his purposes. Thus the term refers more to a positional idea than a practical, ethical idea, though the two are related and must not be separated too far (cf. Romans 6:19). God called them to be set apart for himself; this leads to the logical conclusion that a changed life is in order. Generally speaking, that’s what Romans 5-8 and 12-16 are all about.

The two designations, “loved by God” and “called to be saints,” recall God’s commitment toward and relationship with Israel in the Old Testament. Once again Paul has drawn an organic connection between the OT and the present work of Christ; this time it is not in terms of the promised Son, but in terms of the promised people who will come into being as a result of the work of the Son.

Paul’s greeting of grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ may have been common for him (in one form or another it appears in all his letters), but it was non-existent in the non-Christian world of his day. It is connected uniquely to the person of God the Father and his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (8:14-17, 32). The grace of God for those who stand in it (5:1) leads to peace with God, objectively, as well as the subjective apprehension of that peace.

F. Homiletical Idea and Outline

Homiletical Idea: Understand Biblical Authority and Our Mission to the World

    I. Respect Apostolic Authority (1:1)

      A. Textual Details

        1. Paul was a servant of Christ Jesus

        2. Paul was an apostle

        3. Paul was set apart for the Gospel

      B. Application: We are to submit to his teachings as one sent from the Lord

        1. Pursue consistent study and application of biblical truth

        2. Give serious thought to the issues of our day in light of that truth

      C. Illustration and Transition Sentence

    II. Understand Apostolic Teaching: Jesus Christ—The Gospel of God and the Fulfillment of OT Promise (1:2-4)

      A. Textual Details

        1. The gospel of God was promised beforehand in the OT

          a. Genesis 12:1-3

          b. 2 Samuel 7:12-16 (Isaiah 53, etc.)

        2. The gospel of God is centered on a Person and His Work: the incarnation, death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus Christ.

        3. The gospel of God concerns the recognition of Jesus as Lord.

      B. Application:

        1. Keep Christ central in the interpretation and application of scripture.

        2. Do we grasp the singularity of God’s plan and purpose in both the Old and New Testament and in the world today? See Ephesians 1:10-11.

        3. Do we realize the implications of the Lordship of Christ for our own lives?

      C. Illustration and Transition Sentence

    III. Follow Paul’s Apostolic Example: Taking the Gospel to the World (1:5)

      A. Textual Details

        1. Paul was called as an apostle to bring Gentiles to the “obedience of faith”

      B. Application

        1. We are not apostles with the level of authority that Paul had; we no longer write scripture and speak directly from God.

        2. But, we have all received the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20.

        3. It isn’t that we haven’t been sent, but that we are not the originators of the message, God is, and he made it known to Paul. We are to stick to Paul’s message and preach that to non-Christians.

      C. Illustration and Transition Sentence to Conclusion

G. Contribution of the Passage to Systematic Theology

    1. The Relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament—Romans 1:2-4

There is no little discussion today among Christian scholars and lay people regarding the relationship of the Old Testament to the New. The current setting often involves two different approaches to the synthesis of scripture, namely, the approach of Covenant theology and that of Dispensational theology, with various differences within each “camp.” We may frame the question as follows: How much continuity and discontinuity exists between God’s promises in the OT and the realization of those promises in the church of the NT? Though both theologies recognize at least some fulfillment of the OT in the NT, they differ on precisely what the nature of that fulfillment is and to what extent the church should be related to OT promise.

In any case, both sides must remember that Christ is the central issue in the realization of OT hope. He is the organic connection between the testaments. Paul makes this clear in Romans 1:2-4. Since he now functions as the universal Lord and particular head of the church—in fulfillment of promises like 2 Samuel 7:12-16 (as we saw in our commentary on 1:2-5)—we must be careful not to pull the testaments apart to the point where there is little or no unity between them, especially on the sole basis of a Israel-church distinction. On the other hand, who would argue that his Lordship has been totally realized? Thus it seems that the church as a present and wonderful manifestation of OT promise (though certain aspects of the church cannot rightly have been understood in the OT), cannot exhaust the hope envisioned by the prophets of Israel. There is a structural discontinuity between Israel and the church (Eph 2:11-2220; and thus the testaments) and a soteriological continuity (Rom 4).

The point being made here is not an argument for one view over the other per se, but that Romans 1:2-4 should be examined in the course of one’s thinking on this issue.

    2. The “Obedience of Faith” and Lordship vs. Free Grace Salvation

There is a controversy today in Evangelical circles regarding the biblical response to the gospel. Two general camps have emerged with strong supporters in each. On the one hand, there are those who insist that salvation is by faith where faith does not include such ideas as repentance (unless “repentance” simply means “to change one’s mind”) or the need to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord in one’s life. The other camp, those who have been unfortunately dubbed “lordship salvationists,” generally argue that faith involves repentance where repentance includes a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a turning (repentance) from sin, and a personal trust (involving understanding, assent, and embracing) in Christ to save. No informed writer in either camp believes that faith is merely of human origin—it is a gift of God—and no informed writer in the Lordship camp believes that repentance thus understood is a merely human phenomenon.

Whatever camp a person may find themselves in, (s)he needs to consider, despite the exegetical problems, Romans 1:5 and the expression “obedience of faith.” It’s structural role in the letter to the Romans—a letter dedicated to Paul’s exposition of his gospel—demonstrates that this text should be given careful study in light of the “lordship” debate. The expression “obedience of faith” seems to be integral to Paul’s perception of the kerygma. Again, perhaps, there are more exegetically fruitful texts to consider, but Romans 1:5 needs to be kept in mind when we discuss the proper human response to the preaching of the gospel.

H. Contribution of the Passage to Discipleship and Church Mission

The passage contributes to discipleship and church mission in at least two ways. First, it clearly teaches us as God’s people that the apostolic witness expressed in Scripture is the primary authority for the faith and life of the church. Paul was an apostle and his teaching is authoritative and primary for the church today—just as it was 2000 years ago. Second, the mission of the church, following the example of Paul, is to carry the gospel to the world so that more and more people may enter into the sphere of God’s blessing in the gospel and live under the Lordship of Christ.


16 Craig Brian Larson, Choice Contemporary Stories & Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers, and Writers (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 22.

17 See Cranfield, Romans, ICC, 1:48. There have been numerous suggestions as to why Saul of Tarsus “changed” his name to Paul. Some argue that it was changed at the time of his conversion, along similar lines to Peter when Jesus called him into the ministry of the gospel (cf. Mark 3:16). Others, including Jerome and Augustine, maintained, at one time or another, that he changed it to honor his most famous convert, i.e., Sergius Paulus, governor of Cyprus (see Acts 13:4-12). Cranfield is correct to dismiss these in favor of the probability that as a Roman citizen Paul simply wanted to use one of his (three) Roman names, i.e., his cognomen, because it was distinctive. Thus he really never changed any of his names, but simply wanted to be known and recognized by Paul instead of Saul in his Gentile work.

18 Cranfield, Romans, 55.

19 See also the connection Paul makes in Acts 13:33 and 34 between Psalm 2:7 and the democratization of the Davidic covenant through the use of Isaiah 55:3.

20 Israel was a nation; the church is composed of individuals from every nation.