Hello readers. Tonight we begin going through the epistles. For many of us, the epistles are a favorite part of the New Testament because we thrive on teaching so much and that is what we get in the epistles. It’s been a part I’ve been looking forward to getting to for some time and we will be spending a long time here. After all, there are 21 books to go through. I’m also just going straight through the epistles, Pauline and non-Pauline. It doesn’t really matter to me. Tonight, we’re going to begin at the beginning, which is usually a good place to begin, with Romans 1:1-6.
1Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures3regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.6And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
We’re going to begin at verse 3, but I wanted to get the earlier context in. This is one place in the New Testament where we see the two natures of Christ upheld, something that was stated clearly at the council of Chalcedon. Christ is one person with two natures and he will always have a human nature and a divine nature.
For the human nature, he gets his Davidic descent from that. I contend that he got it through birth via his mother and he got it through legal descent via Joseph. It is just as essential to our salvation that Christ be a man as it is that he be God. We are right when we strongly emphasize the deity of Christ and defend it. Let’s not make the extreme error however that we teach his deity to the exclusion of his humanity. He has to be 100% man and 100% God.
However, through the Holy Spirit, he was declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection. The idea is not that the resurrection made him the Son of God. It is that he was proven to be the Son by his resurrection from the dead. The resurrection has always been central to the Christian faith as it vindicated all the claims of Christ, something that we often lose sight of.
Note also that this says through the Holy Spirit. Thus, in this one verse we have Jesus being declared to be the Son of God through the Holy Spirit by his resurrection. In one verse, we have all three persons of the Trinity together. Redemption was not an event that involved just the Son. It was a work of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, each doing their own part.
It is also through him that we have grace and the right to be apostles and call the Gentiles to faith. This is probably to be understood as the grace of apostleship. It is by the authority of Jesus that Paul is an apostle. All people are called to come to obedience and the people Paul is writing to are among those who have accepted the call.
Once again, we are reminded of how this is stated so matter-of-factly. Paul does not have to give an argument for this. It is understood. The identity of Christ would be seen as basic Christian doctrine and yet today, most Christians cannot defend basic doctrine against the cultists. It’d be surprising to me if most even knew the basic doctrine of who Jesus is.
This is how Paul has opened his letter. What else does he have about who Jesus is in the letter? We’ll see as we go on.