Greetings: 1:1-3. Paul begins the epistle of Romans with a standard 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 is chosen of God (Acts 9:15). He is personally commissioned by Christ (Acts 9:6). He is an eye witness of the risen Christ (1 Cor 9:1, 2). He is also the recipient of the divine revelation (Gal 1:16). Paul was separated for the ministry of the gospel of God (Gal 1:15). The word "gospel" means "good news". It is the good news of a Savior who conquered sin and death. The source of the gospel is God. The gospel was promised in the Old Testament (Gen 3:15; Isaiah 53). It is the fulfillment of God's promise to bless the world through Abraham (Gen 12:1-3). The gospel is not man’s idea (Gal 1:11). The source of the Gospel is God (Rom 1:1). By quoting over 60 times from the Old Testament, Paul proves to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. The scripture pointed to David's son, Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead. In fact the Gospel is not about Jesus Christ, but Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the Son of God:1:4-7. 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 was born in the likeness of men to die for our sin (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). Jesus was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit. Here we see Christ’s humiliation and exaltation (Matt 28:18; Phi 2:11). Paul received grace to preach the gospel for the obedience of faith (Rom 1:5; 16:26). It is also relevant for those who are saved in their every day life. 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. It cannot be earned by good works (Rom 11:6; 1 Cor 15:10). Believers are recipients of God’s grace and 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 word and peace is the Jewish greeting. Paul uses this greeting in his letters to bridge the Jewish and the Gentile believers.
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. The gospel message is not merely intended to produce new converts. It has the power to transform them spiritually (Rom 1:16). Their faith was 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 has said “Specific prayers are dynamic prayers”. Paul longed to visit the Roman church so that he might impart some spiritual gift to believers. Since Paul was an apostle to the gentiles, he wanted to give his apostolic stamp on this church. Also he desired to be strengthened and encouraged by them. Paul knew that the purpose of 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. The gospel is the daily food for every believer. Paul had an evangelistic mind and purpose in all that he was doing. Hindrance does not mean that we are out of the will of God.
Paul’s Attitude towards the Gospel: 1:14-16. Paul considered himself a debtor to the whole world. He was saved by grace and received the grace of apostleship 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 in the world; 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. He was also eager to preach the gospel to the Roman church (1:15). Paul was a clean, prepared 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 ashamed 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 shows weakness. At that time Christians were branded as atheists. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Rom 1:16). The gospel does what law could not do. It compels men to face the reality of sin and divine judgment. It is the universal message. Gospel has the power to save everyone who believes regardless of social status and ethnicity.
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 reveals his righteous judgment of sin by putting Christ to death for our sin (1:17). Christ 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 to live a righteous life. It is revealed to those who believe the gospel. Even though we can do nothing to earn our salvation, now we have reason to hope.
Why we should not be ashamed of the gospel? Gospel is the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. Christians should not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Jesus was 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 we know only the gospel can give forgiveness of sin, 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 all other power, how can we be ashamed of the gospel? When Jesus loved us and gave himself for us, how can we be ashamed of Him? When He remains faithful to us and does everything good for us, why we should be ashamed of Him? When we receive grace to witness and others are praying for us, why should we ashamed of the gospel. When gospel is the only power of God for salvation, how can we be ashamed of the gospel? Paul was not only able and willing but was ready to preach the gospel. Pray that God would help you to praise him for providing his saving power through the gospel.