Revelation of Righteousness 1:1-17
Greetings: 1:1-7. Paul begins this epistle with a standard introduction with his name, personal greetings and thanksgiving. In verse one Paul calls himself a servant of Jesus Christ and a called apostle. He was set apart for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul was a bond servant of Jesus Christ because he was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 6:19, 20). He served the Lord not out of fear but out of love (Ex 21:1-6). Secondly Paul is a called apostle. He is divinely appointed by God (Acts 26:16). Paul claimed his apostleship on four grounds. He was a chosen of God (Acts 9:15). He was personally commissioned by Christ (Acts 9:6). He was an eye witness of the risen Christ (1 Cor 9:1, 2). He was also the recipient of the divine revelation (Gal 1:16). Paul was separated for the ministry of the gospel of God (Gal 1:15). It is the Gospel of God. The gospel is not man’s idea (Gal 1:11). The source of the Gospel is God (John 3:16). This Gospel is the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises (Gen 3:15; Isaiah 53; Malachi 4:2). By quoting over 60 times from the Old Testament, Paul proves to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. In fact the Gospel is not about Jesus Christ, the Gospel is Jesus Christ. It is the good news about Jesus Christ the only Savior. He was born in the royal line of King David to sit on the throne of David forever (2Sam 7:13; Jer 23:5; 33:17).
Deity of Jesus Christ: Christ was declared to be the Son of God by the unmistakable sign of resurrection from the dead (Acts 17:31). He is eternally the Son of God. This unique relationship makes Jesus equal with the Father (Rom 9:5; Col 2:9). He is not the Son of God the way we become sons of God (John 1:12; Rom 8:14, 19). He was born in the likeness of men (Phil 2:7). Jesus did not die as an example or as a humanitarian but as our substitute (Rom 5:8; 2 Cor 5:21). His resurrection was according to the spirit of holiness. God raised Jesus from the dead by the Holy Spirit. Here we see Christ’s humiliation and exaltation (Matt 28:18; Phil 2:11). Paul received grace to preach the gospel for the obedience of faith. Grace is the heart of the gospel message. It is mentioned over 155 times in the New Testament. Grace is the undeserving favor we receive from God and it cannot be earned (Rom 11:6; 1 Cor 15:10). Believers are recipients of God’s love. They are called saints by divine calling and not by canonization. Paul greets Christians with grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace and peace can never be separated. Grace is the typical Greek greeting and peace the Jewish greeting.
Paul’s Prayer: 1:8-13. Paul thanked God for the faith of Roman believers. It was a strong and growing and an obedient faith in God. Gospel was preached to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith (Rom 16:26). Their faith produced visible results. Thus they became known throughout the world. Does our faith in Christ impact others? Paul’s prayer on behalf of believers was a regular intercessory act of worship to God. His prayer was personal, specific, genuine and submissive in nature. Someone said “specific prayers are dynamic prayers”. Paul longed to visit Rome so that he might be able to impart some spiritual gift. Since Paul was an apostle to the gentiles, he wanted to give his apostolic stamp on this church. Also he might be strengthened and encouraged by them. Paul knew that the purpose of his ministry is to receive mutual encouragement. It was his lifelong desire to visit Rome but somehow it was prevented. He longed to see some fruit among them. Paul had an evangelistic purpose in all that he was doing. Hindrance is not the evidence that we are out of the will of God.
Paul’s Attitude towards the Gospel: 1:14-16. Paul considered himself as a debtor to the whole world. He was saved by grace and received the apostleship by grace to preach the gospel. Nobody qualifies for grace nor deserves it. It is God’s unmerited favor. In God’s mind there are only two groups of people. Saved and unsaved. Paul says “I am ready to preach the gospel to you”. Paul saw that lives are at stake and souls are perishing. Paul was a clean, prepared, willing and available vessel to be used of God (2 Tim 2:21). Many of us are not ready because we lack vision and passion for the souls. Thirdly Paul was not shamed of the gospel. Paul was a Jew, Roman citizen and an educated man. To Jews, the gospel was a stumbling block, to the Greek it was intellectual suicide, and to the Romans it was weakness. At that time Christians were branded as atheists and suffered capital punishment. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ because it was power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Rom 1:16). It does what law could not do. It compels men to face the reality of sin and divine judgment. It is the universal message. All are saved by faith in Christ.
In the Gospel the righteousness of God is revealed (1:17). Righteousness is that aspect of God’s holiness and how He treats sinners. God demands righteousness and we do not have it. Yet Christ died for our sins. Thus God demonstrated His righteousness. His Son suffered the punishment of our sin on the cross (2 Cor 5:21). Jesus Christ is our righteousness (1 Cor 1:30). This righteousness is received by faith in Christ. Those who are made righteous have a right standing before God. Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 here to show that “The just shall live by faith”. Christ’s righteousness not only saves us but also enables us for righteous living. Righteousness is received by faith for justification and lived for sanctification.
Why we should not be ashamed of the gospel? Gospel is the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. It is the gospel of God. Christians should not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Jesus was shamed yet not ashamed of us (Heb 2:11). Paul was persecuted and shamed by others yet he was not ashamed of the gospel (2 Cor 11:23-26). When only the gospel can give forgiveness and hope, how can we be ashamed of the gospel? When we are commissioned by the risen Lord to proclaim the gospel, how shall we remain silent? When His power is far superior to the power and His promise is unshakable, how can we be ashamed of the gospel? When Jesus loved me and gave himself for me, how can I be ashamed of Him? When He remains faithful to me and does everything best for me, why I should be ashamed of Him? When we receive grace to witness Him and others are praying for us, why should we ashamed of the gospel. When gospel is the power of God for salvation to all those who believe Christ, how can we be ashamed of the gospel?