In early September I started a Discovery 3-column study on Romans. It’s been rich, but I haven’t shared any of it with you all! Shame on me! I’ll make amends, though. I don’t want to print the entire study — it would be too long. Nevertheless, I’d like to summarize. For now, I’ll start with my paraphrase (that’s part of doing the study.) I’m paraphrasing FROM the Rotherham Emphatic version, a late 1800s literal translation claimed by many to be among the best ever made.
So, here goes:
Paul, God’s servant, called to be an apostle, assigned the task of proclaiming the joyful message of God, which He promised long ago through His prophets in the set-apart writings concerning His Son, who also became a son of David according to the flesh, and who was demonstrated to be the Son of God by power, performed by the Holy Spirit through the means of His resurrection from among the dead ones — Jesus the Messiah — our Lord, through whom we have received favour and apostleship — for teaching the obedience of faith among the Gentiles — on behalf of His name, among whom are ye (that’s the plural form of you — it’s like saying ya’ll) called by Jesus the Messiah: Unto all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called and invited to be saints.
Favour to you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus, Messiah.
Paul addresses his epistle to Christians in Rome, a mix of both ethnic Jews and Gentiles. Here, he greets them and also identifies himself, his right to instruct them, and his purpose in doing so. He claims appointment by Jesus to proclaim the good news foretold in the scriptures, identifies Jesus as the Son of God who also became a Son of David according to the flesh, and states that Jesus’ resurrection proves this claim.
Paul wrote this letter from Corinth, en route to Jerusalem to deliver a love offering of famine relief to the Christians of that city, in the spring of AD 57, which falls 20 – 25 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. He desires to strengthen the believers in Rome, warn them of false teaching, and enlist their prayer support. To this end, he offers his epistle as a groundwork of essential doctrine.
I always find Paul’s introductions worth examining. He uses words like a poet or a surgeon, and never wastes them. To understand him, you have to pay close attention. Read along and I’ll share what I discovered. You share, too! I always welcome thoughtful comments and discourse.
God calls and assigns us specific jobs. He commissioned Paul as an apostle, with the included task of proclaiming the good news. Note: GOOD news; not bad. God has been preparing people for this good news through scripture (the Old Testament) which foreshadows and prophesies the coming of the Messiah.
Jesus did many miracles, but according to Paul, it was His resurrection from among the dead that PROVED His messiahship, and this resurrection was accomplished by the Holy Spirit.
Through Jesus, Paul received grace (favour and ability) and apostleship. God gave him this apostleship for the teaching of the “obedience of faith” among the Gentiles. I found that puzzling — “obedience of faith?” I’ll talk about it later . . . Paul teaches as an emissary of Jesus — on behalf of His name.
He says to the Roman Christians, “This means you. I’m assigned to teach YOU the obedience of faith; you whom God called and invited to be saints (people set apart as God’s special possession).”
Called and invited — interesting — when you receive an invitation, you have a choice to make; that is, whether you will accept or reject what the invitation proposes.
Finally, he blesses them: “Grace and peace to you.” I checked, and it seems to me that “grace” means both “favour” and “divine enablement”. And of course true grace and peace come from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The puzzler for me in this passage was “obedience of faith.” Now that I’ve gotten a ways further into Romans, I see that Paul must mean a kind of obedience. Obedience of faith, as opposed to an obedience grounded in our own efforts — an obedience (or attempted obedience) of flesh — by natural means such as will power, determination, decision.
This difficult concept challenges the abilities of teachers and students alike. We today still have trouble with this, and tend to slide either into legalism or into what has been called “greasy grace.” Paul taught neither extreme, but rather obedience through the enabling Holy Spirit of God and by the death of the fleshly nature. Most of us struggle to grasp this delicate balance. A close study of Romans will help.
More to follow . . .