The Gospel and Christ

Hagia Sophia ; Empress Zoë mosaic : Christ Pan...

Hagia Sophia ; Empress Zoë mosaic : Christ Pantocrator; Istanbul, Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The implications of God acting on behalf of fallen mankind beforehand will become clearer later on in the epistle, but we need to take note of it from the outset.

Now, what is the essence of the Gospel? It is His Son and Paul mentions three things regarding him. First, he is human, second he is David’s descendant, and third, he is divine in that “through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God”.

Because he is human, Jesus experienced everything human beings experience. He is one of us. He understands the pains we endure, such as the pain of addiction, broken relationships, emotional pains, homelessness and rejection.

It is consolation for anyone in pain, to know that Jesus understands all that from a human perspective.

As a descendant of David, Christians see Jesus as the Messiah who was to come from the line of David. In hindsight Christians see in Jesus the fulfillment of all the prophetic expectations of the messiah.

He is also the Son of God. When Augustus died he was declared to be god. His son and heir, Tiberius – the Roman emperor from 14-37 A.D.- became son of god. Indeed there have been found coins minted by Teberius with the inscription son of god.

In 1:4 Paul declares that Jesus “was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead”. This is in contrast to Tiberius or any other emperor who could not claim the power of the resurrection.

Through Jesus Christ, Paul continues, we have received grace. This is important because, as stated earlier, grace is a major issue in this epistle. Grace can be defined as gift that is not merited. It is freely given, not earned.

Everyghing we have received through Jesus Christ, including faith, is grace, a free gift, nothing we can claim to have earned. Thus, Paul sees obedience as characteristic of faith. In other words, faith is manifested in obedience.

Finally, in verse 7, Paul mentions the recipients of his letter: “All God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints”.

Who were these people? Chapter 16 gives us a picture of a church that was made up of Jews and Gentiles, but we will look at this later, in chapter 16. Paul calls these believers saints and that they were called by God, the latter emphasizing the significance of grace.

One would expect to see the title Christian all over the New Testament. Surprisingly, the word Christian appears only three times in Acts 11:26 – in plural, Christians – Acts 26:28, and in 1 Peter 4:16. By contrast, saints appears 46 times in place of Christians.

We should note here too, that the format in this Introduction is the same format followed in letter writing in Paul’s time. They began with the writer, the recipients, greetings. The greeting in this letter is: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” This is typical of Paul’s letters.

After the greetings, Paul followed that with thanksgiving. Again, it was Paul’s typical style and can be observed in all of his letters, with the exception of the one to the Galatians where he did not include thanksgiving because of the mood of the letter.

In any case, verse 8 and the thanksgiving begin the second part of the Introduction, and we will look at that next.

  • Grace (hisflagministries.wordpress.com)