“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—the gospel He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding His Son, who as to His earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through Him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for His name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be His holy people: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom 1:1-7)
At the heart of Paul’s argument in his letter to the Romans the person of Jesus Christ, our Lord. That, certainly, is the theme of the epistle, as it is the theme of all Paul’s writings and all the New Testament. Union in Christ is the central truth that God wants us to see. As Paul himself wrote in another letter, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col 1:27) That is the great truth from which all others flow.
Sometimes Bible teachers identify certain of the great emphases that come from that truth as being the central truth. For instance, they emphasize justification by faith, or sanctification, that is, solving the problems of sin. But these themes all stem from the great central theme — union with Christ. We are not simply followers of a philosophy, or even of a philosopher, but of a Savior, a Redeemer, a person, Jesus Christ—and He must be central in all things.
In his introduction, Paul points out that the Lord was promised to us; He came as predicted in the Old Testament. The gospel was promised beforehand through the prophets: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel.” (Is 7:14) One of the most important things that we can learn about our faith is that it comes to us through the anticipation and prediction of centuries of teaching and preaching.
When The Lord Jesus comes, He is presented to us in two unique ways: First, concerning His human nature, the apostle says He was a descendant of David. “…Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.” (Matt 1:1-17)
Second, is the deity of Him who “through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power”. Paul begins with that phrase, “the Son of God” that unmistakably declares the deity of our Lord. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:1-5)
There were three things that marked the deity of Jesus: First, there was power; He came by power. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Eph 1:18-21)
Second, He came by the spirit of holiness. The Hebrew word for holy is qodesh and means “apartness, set-apartness, separateness, sacredness”. Holy has the idea of heaviness or weight of glory. In the New Testament, the word for holy is hagios and means “set apart, revered, sacred, and worthy of great respect”. “For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.” (Heb 7:26)
The third great mark of Jesus’ deity was the resurrection; His deity was authenticated
by His resurrection from the dead. That is where our faith ultimately rests. “Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” (2 Cor 1:9) During the forty days of His ministry between the resurrection and His ascension, His ultimate glory is veiled in order to make possible a ministry to His disciples in scenes of earth. After His ascension into heaven, Christ never appears again apart from His glory. In the appearance of Christ to Paul, the glory of Christ was such that Paul was blinded (Acts 9:3-6).
We can have confidence that God has told us the truth by the unshakable fact that He raised Jesus from the dead. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)
So it is by faith in the person and deity of Jesus Christ, that our salvation rests out of the abundance of God’s mercy. As our Savior, He requires that we have a relationship with Him, so that He knows us, and we know Him and His expectations of us (Matt 7:21-23). And we know by many passages, including verse 5 in today’s passage that He expects us to be obedient: “Through Him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for His name’s sake.”
Thank you, Father, for sending your Son and for giving me the joy of knowing Him and seeing His life manifest through me through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, that You gave to us as a protector, and Your wisdom. In Jesus’s name we pray, amen.