In Romans 1:1 the Apostle introduces his Ministry. in verses 2-4 his Message. and in verses 8-15 shares his Secrets of Success. In all, Paul seeks to cover himself as he unveils the wonderful Person who is the subject of the Gospel, Jesus Christ our Lord. One is reminded of the seraphim in Heaven (Isa 6:1-3), with 6 wings, 4 for covering and 2 for flight. Those who behold the glory of the Lord are always impressed with their own uncleanness and unworthiness, but at the same time find motivation to serve Him.
Vs 1, The Ministry.
The Apostle describes his ministry in 3 ways, relative to the glory of the One He served similar to these seraphim.
- “A slave (doulos) of Christ Jesus.” Here is Paul personally. and his attitude toward his Master, a submissive will (his face is covered). This is his moral fitness to preach the Gospel. He has been captivated in heart by Christ the Son.
- “A called apostle.” Here is Paul subjectively. and his aptitude for service, spiritually fitted and sent out on a mission (his feet are covered). This is his official fitness to preach the Gospel. He had been called and directed by the Spirit of God.
- Having been and continuing to be separated unto the Gospel of God. Here is Paul objectively. and his ambition in his work (like seraphim, he flies on his mission). This is his special focus as a preacher of the Gospel. He had been channeled in his service, bearing a message whose origin stems from the heart of God the Father.
Vs 2-4, The Message.
Having stated what will come to be the main subject of this book, the Gospel of God, he then makes five great summary statements describing the Gospel.
- It was promised in the OT. The scope of the Gospel includes all the Scriptures.
- Its glorious and unique subject is HIS SON. In the text, the title given to His Son is at the end of verse 4.
- As to His humanity, He came out of David, His humiliation and, future glory.
- As to His Deity, He was power fully marked out – Son of God by the Spirit of holiness by His resurrection. “Spirit of holiness” rather than “the Holy Spirit” Points to His resurrection as the ultimate proof of His being the Son Of God, but also to His absolute sinlessness throughout His life and sacrifice. He was and will ever be the only man who ever died and who was worthy to be raised and glorified because of His holy life. Concerning both the sin and trespass Offerings, it is twice written: “It is most holy” (Lev 6:25,29; Lev 7:6 ).
- As to His followers, God’s Son is Jesus Christ our Lord. He is the object of their faith and obedience.
Vs 5-7, The Man.
Paul now very carefully encompasses his audience in his ministry and calling, showing that the Son of God Himself has commissioned him to bring about obedience to the faith among all the nations, for His own Name’s sake. So that the Roman Christians now are included in the scope of the ministry of this called apostle. Paul’s inclusion of his audience and his terms of endearment addressed to them certainly sets an example for all who would evangelize with the Gospel.
Vs 8-15 Secrets of a True Servant’s Success.
As the great apostle speaks personally to the saints at Rome about his desire to come to them and the purpose of his ministry, we discover precious secrets flowing from the heart of this man of God used so mightily. May we all take them to heart and be more devoted servants of God.
Vs 8. His spiritual vision. In this verse, Paul is seen as a priest standing before God, conscious of his acceptance in the Person of Christ. There he is filled with thanksgiving for the excellent testimony of these Roman believers whom he has never met. Their faith is spoken of worldwide. The influence of Rome’s power was also spoken of worldwide, but this latter was not the subject in the heavenly sanctuary. Oh for a vision of what really matters and what is truly vital and important!
Vs 9. His spiritual communion. In this verse it is impressive how Paul surrounds the thought of his ministry “in the Gospel of His Son”, with expressions of Communion with God. He moves ever under the eye of God – “God is my witness”- while serving with a worshipping spirit and praying without ceasing. Here is a great secret of power for service and fellowship with the God who always sees me, keeping me holy. Is this not what the Lord taught His disciples in John 15: that “abiding in Me” is the secret of much fruit?
Vs 10. His submissive will. The true devotion of this great servant exudes in this verse. He has been often and long (at length) in the presence of God “making request” simply that he may be allowed of God to be at Rome truly a blessing from God, it must be at the Lord’s time and in His way (if by any means). As we consider this verse alongside the lengthy accounts (Acts, chapters 21, 27, and 28) of the violent and trying circumstances that led to Paul’s finally coming to Rome, we get an insight into the unsearchable ways of God. As for God, His way is perfect (Psa 18:30). He calls His servants to trust Him despite their understanding of circumstances (Phil 4:7).
Vs 11. His sincere love. The absolute sincerity of this devoted servant shines out here. Was it to receive that Paul wanted to travel to Rome? His true motivation of love is shown in the word “impart”. He was like His Lord in this: “The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to give His life…” Paul’s whole intent was to give blessings so that they in turn would be established: so that their faith spoken of throughout the whole world would not diminish or waver. We as believers in local assemblies should never lose this objective as we meet together regularly. We meet to edify one another, not to devour one another!
Vs 12. His humility. “The liberal soul shall be made fat, and be watered also himself” (Prov 11:25). Paul had learned this great secret in ministering to others and he very carefully inserts it here. It adds a beautiful touch to the passage, that this great apostle looks forward to receiving blessing from the mutual sharing of faith with these dear persecuted believers. His natural aggressive, choleric temperament channeled by the Spirit of God into zeal and desire to give to others has been tempered by the grace of humility and would therefore be well received. Oh the ability of God to shape his servants who teacheth like Him?
Vs 13. His patience in battle. Paul was well aware that there were great forces arrayed against him in his service for God. The “often-times” purpose and the reference to hindrances (was let hitherto) suggests this desire for which he prayed (v 10) had been a long struggle before God. The ages old, behind-the-scenes struggles by the forces of evil to hinder the work of God shows repeatedly in Scripture. In it all patience is learned along with dependence on God – waiting His time. There are at least three years involved in this conflict as referred to in verse 10.
Vs 14. His stewardship. In the words, “I am debtor”, the apostle displays a great sense of responsibility and accountability for the sacred trust of the Gospel to the Gentiles that has been committed to him. Let us all remember the lesson of Ephesians 4:7, “Unto everyone of us (one pound each, Luke 19:31) is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (various numbers of talents Matt. 25:15). Not only gift(s) but grace to use it (them). None of us can say truly, “I have no gift.” Let us be exercised (involved prayerfully in the work) to learn what “goods” (Matt 25:14) our Lord has given to us, remembering that His word to each servant\steward is: “Trade till I come” (Luke 19:13.)
Vs 15. His balance. This last verse of the section puts the crown on this list of secrets of successful service. Notice the beautiful balance between preparedness and willingness, and necessarily in that order. We are reminded of Ahimaaz (2 Sam 18), the willing servant of David, who ran with a message for David but was not careful to Prepare the message. He did not wait long enough to see the details about which he was to report: i.e., whether or not Absalom was dead or alive! and therefore he had no clear message. We need to learn the lesson that it is great to be willing to preach the Gospel, but Paul precedes the willingness with “as much as in me is” or “as far as depends on me.” The Gospel is a message of great simplicity, but of great dignity. It deserves to be well prepared and thought out in the sanctuary, out of a worshipping spirit.
To be continued.