Romans

1:1-7

Introduction

i] Paul's credentials, confession, address and greeting

Argument

In this introductory passage in Paul's letter to the Roman church, Paul tells us that he was "set apart" by God to make known "the gospel." In the opening verses of the letter he gives us a shorthand version of this message from God. Paul begins with the "time is fulfilled" statement - Jesus is the Christ, descended from the royal house of David. He then gives the typical "kingdom of God is at hand" statement - Jesus is now declared to be what he always has been, the Son of God, Lord. He then goes on to explain his part in the gospel - God has graciously charged Paul with the task of gathering the Gentile "remnant" into the kingdom. Paul concludes with a greeting.

 
Issues

i] Context: Following a general introduction, a salutation, v1-7, and a thanksgiving prayer with respect to Paul's intended visit to Rome, v8-15, Paul states his thesis, v16-17. The gospel proclaims the righteous reign of God, ie., his setting all things right. The person who is in the right with God is the person who rests in faith on the faithfulness of Christ. Such a person will "live", live in the sense of eternally possess the fullness of God's promised blessings [and this apart from law obedience].

Paul then goes on to develop this thesis through to 5:21. First, in 1:18-2:11, he establishes the universality of sin and the impartial nature of God's righteous condemnation of sin, reminding self-righteous nomistic believers ("the weak", 15:1, law-bound believers, most being of Jewish stock) that they too are infected by the stain of sin, 2:1-5, the consequence of which is divine condemnation, 2:6-11. Then, in 2:12-29, Paul examines the place of the law in the righteous judgment of God, making the point that those nomistic believers who think that their adherence to the law of Moses restrains sin and shapes holiness for divine approval, actually break the law and thus face the curse of the law and the "wrath and fury" of God's condemnation. In 3:1-8 Paul answers two objections to his rather negative treatment of the law, namely, that he devalues the covenant/law and that he promotes libertarianism. Then, in 3:9-20, Paul drives home his conclusion, namely that the human condition of universal sin is not alleviated by submission to the law, for the law only serves to make sin more sinful.

In 3:21-4:25 Paul now establishes his central proposition. When it comes to the righteous reign of God, whether in condemnation or vindication, there is no "distinction" between a person under the law, or a person outside the law. All have sinned and stand condemned, but all who rest on the faithfulness of Christ, his "sacrifice of atonement", are justified, ie. are set right before God. So, for believing Jews, like Paul, there is no ground for "boasting" about their faithfulness under the law, for a person is wholly right with God, yesterday, today and tomorrow, on the basis of faith (Christ's faithfulness and our faith in his faithfulness) and not by obedience.

Having explained the workings of justification "out of" faith, Paul, in 5:1-21 examines the natural consequences that flow to those who are set right before God, namely, "life", the fullness of new life in Christ that properly belongs to a believer apart from works of the law. In 5:1-11 Paul first outlines the new relationship that a believer has with God - "peace" and "reconciliation". Then in 5:12-21 he explains how Christ's saving death has brought eternal life to all humanity by overcoming the curse of Adam's sin.

From 6:1-11:36, Paul rebuts the arguments of his law-bound opponents. First he tackles their claim that grace without law promotes sin / libertarianism, 6:1-8:39. In 6:1-23 he explains how "newness of life", right-living before God, apart from the law, is expressed in the life of a believer as a natural consequence of their right-standing before God. In 7:1-25, Paul examines the place of the law in the Christian life. Then in chapter 8 Paul explains how the justified believer, apart from the law, is being shaped into the perfection of Christ through the indwelling compelling of the Spirit.

Paul's final rebuttal argument in chapters 9-11 makes the point that Israel's failure to appropriate God's promised blessings does not invalidate the gospel mediated by Paul. In these chapters Paul establishes that although God has had a special relationship with national/ethnic Israel, its people and institutions do not align with the elect people of God. True Israel, spiritual Israel, is made up of the children of promise, believers, both Jews and Gentiles. Paul's argument is advanced in a clearly defined literary unit with an introduction , 9:1-5, a propositional statement defining the issue at hand, 9:6a, a three-staged developed argument, 9:6b-11:32, and a conclusion, 11:33-36. In these three chapters Paul establishes that a remnant according to grace realizes the true Israel, 9:6-29, that national Israel's present condition of unbelief is due to its own pursuit of law-righteousness, 9:30-10:21, and that national/ethnic Israel's present state of unbelief does not annul God's promises, 11:1-36.

In the final chapters Paul turns to the business of Christian living, of Jewish and Gentile believers living together within God's new community, 12:1-15:13. An overarching concern in this section is the community's witness to the world through the life of its members. First, in chapter 12, Paul deals with personal ethics and then in chapter 13 he goes on to deal with wider social issues, and finally, in 14:1-15:13, he broaches the touchy issue of how Jewish and Gentile believers are to relate within the Christian fellowship. The letter concludes with a number of personal issues, 15:14-16:27.

 

ii] Background: Paul's letter to the church in Rome was most likely composed during his stay in Corinth around 57-58AD. While continuing his missionary work in Macedonia, a number of problems had developed in the Corinthian church, both practical and theological. To address these problems, Paul composed at least two letters, most likely three, as well as organizing a number of visits by his representatives. As with so may disruptions in the Christian church, the problems in Corinth were partly of a personal nature, and so Paul kept his distance while everything settled down.

The crucial issue in Corinth was theological in nature. This was promoted by Judaizers, members of the circumcision party from the Christian church in Jerusalem, who felt it duty bound to follow up on Paul's missionary work and correct his antinomian teaching. He only touches on this theological issue in second Corinthians, but obviously on arriving in Corinth he addresses the issue of nomisim (sanctification by obedience) full on. It is in this environment he pens his letter to the Roman church. Given the careful crafting of the letter, it seems likely that its theological heart is intended as a general treatise designed to confront the threat posed by the judaizers

 

iii] Structure: This passage, serving as the opening salutation of Paul's letter to the Romans, presents in three parts:

Writer identification, v1;

Theme - the gospel, v2-6;

The message, v2:

The time is fulfilled, v3;

The kingdom of God is at hand, v4;

Paul's gospel commission, v5-6.

Greeting, v7.

 

iv] Interpretation:

The letter begins with Paul identifying himself and his call to minister the gospel, his role as an emissary of a divine message fulfilling the promises of the prophets. Then, in v3-4, he outlines the message, long foretold, concerning the redemption of mankind in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He then identifies his authority to minister this message and bring about (purpose, cf. 16:26) the obedience of faith among all peoples (better than "Gentiles"), v5, including the believers in Rome, v6. Our passage concludes with a greeting, v7.

 

Faith, cf., v5: It is important to note that throughout Romans this important word comes with two linked ideas, the relative stress of each idea being determined by the context. There is the faith of the believer (faith in the sense of belief, dependence, reliance, firmness in/on Christ), and there is the "faith of Christ" (faith in the sense of a faithful submission to the will of God on the cross). So, the faith/faithfulness of Christ saves us, which faith/faithfulness we appropriate by faith. See Romans 3:22 where Paul breaks "faith" up into its two separate parts: the righteous reign of God, his putting all things right, is by means of pistewV Ihsou Cristou "the faith of Christ" to all touV pisteuontaV "those who have faith".

 

v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

 
Text - 1:1

Introductory statement and greetings, v1-7: i] Sender's identification, v1. Paul identifies himself to his readers and establishes the authority upon which he addresses them. Many of the members of the Roman church would know little of Paul.

douloV (oV) "servant" - [Paul] slave, bond servant. Standing in apposition to "Paul". Paul is Christ's man.

Cristou (oV) gen. "[of] Christ [Jesus]" - [of Jesus] Christ. "Christ" stands in apposition to "Jesus", genitive in agreement to Jesus. The genitive "of Jesus" is adjectival, possessive, but possibly verbal, subjective, "a servant appointed by Jesus Christ", or objective, "a servant who serves Jesus Christ." We normally view "Jesus Christ / Christ Jesus" as a single title, but at this time "Christ / messiah" was seen as a defining statement; "Jesus, the messiah."

klhtoV adj. "called to be [an apostle]" - a called [apostle]. The adjective is rendered verbally in the NIV. Referring to a divine call to serve as an apostle, rather than a call to faith. The term "apostle", sent one, is used in the technical sense of an authorized representative of Christ.

afwrismenoV (aforizw) perf. pas. part. "set apart" - having been set apart, marked off, separated by a boundary. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "apostle"; "an apostle who has been set apart." The perfect implies that Paul is habitually so. The word is used of the setting apart of Israel in the sense of their chosen / appointed role, and this sense obviously extends to Jesus' apostles.

eiV + acc. "for" - to, for. Here used to express purpose; "for the sake of the gospel", or "to preach the gospel." "Called as a messenger and appointed for the service of" the gospel, Phillips.

euaggelion (oV) "gospel" - important message. Often translated as "good news", but this message from God is only good news for those who respond to it; "important message from God."

qeou (oV) "of God" - The genitive is probably ablative, expressing source/origin, "from God", or verbal, objective, "about God."

 
v2

ii] Gospel summary, v2-6: a) The gospel defined - God's important message contained in the scriptures, v2. In establishing his authority as an apostle "set apart for the gospel of God", Paul gives a summary of the Christian gospel, so confirming that the gospel the Roman church believes in is the gospel that Paul preaches.

o} rel. pro. "the gospel" - which. Introducing a relative clause, limiting by defining the gospel (ie. the content of the message) as the fulfillment of the promises of the prophets in the Old Testament.

oJ proephggeilato (proepaggellw) aor. "he promised beforehand" - he promised before, previously, in advance. "God" is obviously the primary agent, "this gospel God announced beforehand", NEB.

dia + gen. "through" - through, by means of. Expressing agency.

autou gen. pro. "his [prophets]" - [the prophets] of him. The genitive is adjectival, possessive.

en + dat. "in [the Holy Scriptures]" - Local, expressing space; "recorded in the sacred Scriptures

 
v3

b) Part 1 of the message - the time is fulfilled, v3. With respect to the sarka, "flesh", Jesus' fleshly nature / the fleshly sphere of his being, Jesus fulfills the prophetic expectations concerning the coming messiah; he is the Son of God, the royal descendant of David - messiah.

peri + gen. "regarding" - concerning, about [the son of him]. Reference / respect. Serving to identify the content of the gospel; "this news is about the son of God", JB.

tou genomenou (ginomai) aor. mid. part. "who ... was" - the one having come. The participle is adjectival, attributive, as NIV. Not so much making the point that he was a man, "he was born", RSV, but rather that he was descended from the royal house of David, from which house the messiah would emerge

kata + acc. "as to [his human nature / his earthly life]" - according to [flesh]. Reference / respect; "with respect to his flesh." As to his humanity; "on the human level", NEB.

ek + gen. "a descendant [of David]" - from [seed of David]. Expressing source / origin; "he was born of David's stock", NEB.

 
v4

b) Part 2 of the message - the kingdom of God is at hand, v4. With respect to the pneuma, "spirit", Jesus' spiritual nature / the spiritual sphere of his being, Jesus is declared, consequent on the resurrection of the dead, to be what he always has been, Son of God, Lord. Therefore, the kingdom of God "is at hand" / bursting in upon us / inaugurated (realized??).

kata + acc. "[and who] through" - [having been designated the son of God in power] according to [spirit of holiness]. Possibly expressing a standard, "in accordance with", or instrumental / agency, as NIV, although this would be an unusual sense for kata. It is more likely that the preposition takes the same sense as in v3, reference / respect; "with respect to the spirit."

aJgiwsunhV (h) gen. "[Spirit] of holiness" - [spirit] of dedication, consecration. The genitive is adjectival, attributive; "sacred spiritual realm." "Spirit" is often understood as a reference to the Holy Spirit, but this seems unlikely. Possibly "as far as his being divine is concerned", or possibly "his divine holiness." Yet, it is more likely that "spirit" refers to the spiritual realm, a realm which is sacred. As Christ was experienced in the realm of the flesh, so now he is experienced in the realm of the spirit, the sacred spiritual realm.

tou oJrisqentoV (oJrizw) gen. aor. pas. part. "who .... was declared / was appointed" - the one having been decreed / designated, appointed; lit. set limits or boundaries. The participle is adjectival, attributive, genitive in agreement with tou uJiou, "Son", v3. The sense of "installed, appointed", as TNIV, seems unlikely. The NIV "declared" is to be preferred. Jesus was declared to be Son of God, not as a first time designation of the title, but declared "to be what he always had been", Dumbrell. The genitive "God" is adjectival, relational.

en + dat. "with [power] / in [power]" - in [power]. Possibly adverbial, modal, expressing manner, modifying the verb "declared", "powerfully declared", or instrumental, "by a mighty act, NEB, NRSV, as NIV, or local, expressing a state or condition, so Cranfield. Yet, it seems more likely that the phrase is adjectival, limiting by description the "Son of God, "Son of God in all his power", JB = "the powerful Son of God." The power in mind is probably Christ's kingly power.

ex + gen. "by" - of, out of, from. Possibly causal, as in NIV, even temporal, "from the time of the resurrection", TH, but more likely "out of, from", in a consecutive sense, "as a result of the resurrection."

anastasewV (iV ewV) "his resurrection" - a resurrection [of dead ones]. Usually taken as referring to Christ's resurrection, so "his resurrection", although "his" is not present in the Gk. The nekrwn, "dead", is plural, so the reference is to the general resurrection in the last day. The sense may be active or passive, but either way, consequent on / as a result of the resurrection of the dead, Jesus is declared to be what he always has been, namely, Lord, having realized this blessing on our behalf by his death, resurrection and ascension.

Ihsou Cristou tou kuriou gen. "Jesus Christ [our] Lord" - Standing in apposition to uJiou qeou, "Son of God", in apposition to tou uJiou, "Son", v3. "Christ" stands in apposition to "Jesus", and "Lord" stands in apposition to "Christ"; "Jesus, the Christ / messiah, our Lord."

 
v5

c) Paul's role in the ministry of the gospel - his divine commission, v5-6. Paul and the other apostles, were shown mercy and kindness ("grace") when God gave them the ministry of apostleship. For Paul and his team, this "grace" consisted of a special authority to preach to the Gentiles. His task was to call the Gentiles to "the obedience of faith", to yield in faith, to accept God's offer of salvation in Christ. From such "obedience" comes righteousness, a right-standing in the sight of God.

di (dia) + gen. "through [him]" - through [whom (the antecedent is "Christ our Lord")]. Instrumental, expressing agency; "we apostles received our authorization from God, commissioned in Christ's name, to ..." elabomen (lambanw) aor. "we received" - "God gave me the privilege" TEV, reads well, but misses the point that the ministry of the gospel is, at this time, administered by the apostles, with whom Paul identifies himself. Sometimes "we" means "we Jews", but not so here, rather "we apostles received", or even more particularly as a royal plural, "I received grace and apostleship."

carin kai apostolhn "grace and apostleship" - These two nouns joined by kai look very much like a hendiadys where together they express a single idea, namely, of Paul's apostleship as a gracious gift. The office of apostle was Paul's by the grace of God, ie. as a divine gift.

eiV + acc. "to call" - to / for [the obedience of faith in all the Gentiles / nations]. Here expressing purpose; "in order to bring about the obedience of faith among all the nations."

en + dat. "[all the Gentiles]" - in [all the Gentiles / nations]. Locative, expressing space / sphere; "among all the nations", ESV.

pistewV (iV ewV gen. "[the obedience] that comes from faith" - [obedience] of faith. This genitive has prompted endless debate. It is usually understood verbally, either objective, "obedience to the faith", Moffatt (the genitive receives the implied action of the verbal noun), or more commonly subjective, "obedience produced by faith; "which is the product of faith", Barclay, cf. Davies. It is very unlikely that the phrase, as a whole, should be rendered verbally, "to believe and obey", TEV; "to lead to faith and obedience", NEB. One suspects that this translation is driven by the children's chorus "trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey" - rather unsound theology! A more likely classification is adjectival, of definition, appositional / epexegetic, "the obedience of faith / which is faith / consists of faith", Murray, Godet, Haldane. See Cranfield for a full discussion on his seven possible meanings, but note the printing error in the 1975 edition, 1st printing - it is "the obedience which consists in faith", not "the faith which consists in obedience." A genitive substantive attached to another substantive often functions adjectivally to limit that substantive, so it does seem likely that the "obedience" Paul is referring to is a "faith" type of obedience, or in simple terms, "acceptance of the message of salvation", Jewett. "To promote among all the Gentiles a yielding in faith", Berkeley.

uJper + gen. "for [his name's] sake" - on behalf of [the name of him]. Probably with the sense of representation, "on behalf of his name" = "on behalf of him / Jesus" ("the name" = the person), ie. under his authority; "from whom we received ..... our commission in his name", Phillips. Probably not with the sense of advantage / benefit, "for the sake of"; "to the honor of his name", Cassirer.

 
v6

His Roman readers are among those so "called". The call is not the predestination of individuals to salvation, but rather an invitation to join the chosen and elect people of God. The punctuation of this verse is problematic. We follow Cranfield's suggested translation: "Among whom are you also, you who are called ..." Cranfield.

en + dat. "among [whom]" - Locative, space. The "whom" are the "Gentiles".

kai "[are you] also" - [are] also. Adjunctive; "also".

klhtoi adj. "[you] who are called" - [you] called ones. As is usually the case in the New Testament, God is the one who does the calling. The word "call" (summoned) may be translated "invite" where free grace is emphasized rather than an effectual predestining. Cranfield argues that "call" in the Pauline letters always means "effectual call." God does indeed, in an act of his sovereign will, summon a people unto himself, a community / a kingdom, although this does not necessitate the effectual call of its individual members. God's elect people consists of those who choose to rely on of the offer of divine grace found in Christ.

Ihsou Cristou gen. "to belong to Jesus Christ" - of Jesus Christ. The genitive is possibly adjectival, possessive, as NIV, but better ablative, source, agent; "called from = by Jesus Christ."

 
v7

iii] Greeting, v7. In New Testament times a letter would begin with a from-to, plus a greeting. Paul's summary of the gospel he preaches has delayed the "to all in Rome" and the greeting.

toiV ousin dat. pres. part. "to all" - to all [the ones being in Rome]. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of recipient. This clause concludes the sentence begun in v1, "I Paul ....... to all in Rome". The sense of the verb to-be must be assumed, eg. "greet", "write", so for example, "I send greetings to all of you in Rome", NEB.

en + dat. "in [Rome]" - Locative; "I send greetings to all the believers who live in Rome."

agaphtoiV dat. adj. "who are loved" - loved ones. Dative in agreement with "all", with the adjective serving as a noun, "the ones who are loved."

qeou (oV) gen. "by God" - of God. The genitive can be viewed as ablative, source, more specifically agent.

aJgioiV dat. adj "[called] saints / [called] to be his people" - [called ones], holy. Dative in agreement with "all", again the adjective serves as a substantive, "the ones separate, marked off, who belong to Christ; "God's dedicated people", NEB = "the saints."

caris ... eirhnh "grace [and] peace" - grace [to you and peace]. Both nouns are anarthrous in that the greeting is an idiomatic formula. The addition of "grace" to the normal Jewish greeting of "peace" gives the greeting its particular Christian flavor. The greeting is short for an offered blessing in the terms of "may the Lord shower you with his grace and peace."

uJmin dat. pro. "to you" - Dative of interest, advantage.

apo + gen. "from" - Expressing source / origin.

patroV (hr roV) gen. "[God our] Father" - [God] Father [of us]. Standing in apposition to "God", genitive in agreement. The notion of God as our heavenly Father finds its origin in the teachings of Jesus. Such an intimate view of God would be offensive to a strict Jew.

kuriou Ihsou Cristou gen. "the Lord Jesus Christ" - "Jesus" stands in apposition to "Lord" and "Christ / messiah" stands in apposition to "Jesus", genitive following the preposition "from". Clearly "Lord" is used of the divine title, and not with the sense "master".

 

Romans Introduction

Exposition

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