Romans 1:1-10 NKJV
1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. 5 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;
7 To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, 10 making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.
For the next two months or so, starting today, our devotions will review St. Paul’s Epistle (or “letter”) to the Romans, where the apostle systematically lays out the Christian faith and nearly all its articles. In these first ten verses, we’re given a description of the author, the content, and the recipients of this letter.
The author is the apostle Paul, the same one who used to persecute the Christian Church but who has now become the “bondservant” or “slave” of Jesus Christ. That means he does not conduct his ministry according to his own will, but according to the will of his Master. The very title “apostle” means that Paul didn’t choose to become a preacher but was chosen for it, called to it, and sent forth on his mission by Christ Himself. His message isn’t his; it’s Christ’s.
The whole content of that message is “the gospel of God,” the good news that God first announced through the Old Testament prophets about His Son and now fulfilled in the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, who is true God and true man. The gospel of God also includes the preaching of the law, but it centers on (1) the satisfaction for sins that Christ has made and (2) the promise of the forgiveness of sins to all who believe in Christ Jesus.
Finally, the recipients of Paul’s letter are identified in these opening verses. We do well to remember that none of the apostles were writing directly to us in the 21st century. The truth, the doctrine, and the principles expressed in their letters haven’t changed throughout the centuries, but we must always read these letters in context in order to sort out which things apply to whom. In this case, Paul was writing to all the Christians in Rome, the “beloved of God” who had already been called to faith (and thus also “sainthood”) by the gospel which others had preached to them. But his words will have many applications to all people in general and to all Christians in particular.
Let us pray: O Lord, we thank You for using Your apostle Paul to reveal Your truth to us throughout the ages. Bless us and work in our hearts by Your Holy Spirit as we read and ponder Your Word in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. Amen.