17 April 2017

Romans 1:1-7

“Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the gentiles for the sake of his name.” (vv. 4b-5)

Psalm: Psalm 16


The letter to the Romans is the only letter addressed to a church which Paul did not establish and about which he knew very little. Paul wrote it in approximately AD58. Rome was at the heart of the mighty Roman Empire. Paul wanted to spread the good news of Christ beyond Asia Minor and he hoped that a letter to the Romans would encourage them to act as a base for such witness. The letter contains important theological concepts, for example that people live by grace and not by the law. It has influenced many people throughout the centuries, most notably Martin Luther and John Wesley.

Paul called himself a slave or servant (verse 1), because he believed that he belonged to Christ. For Paul, it meant the obligation of a great love and the honour of a great office. Paul acknowledged that he had been called to be an apostle. The word means messenger, or one sent by God. And this call came from Jesus, from the lineage of David - in other words, a human being. A reference to the prophets (verse 2) is a reference to the prophets in the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) who expected that the Messiah (the anointed one) would come. This Jesus had died and had been raised from the dead. In verse 5 Paul spreads the net wider, as it were. Christ had not only called him, but also others to be apostles. And this came about because of grace. Grace is unconditional mercy that is not earned, but is given away freely. Christ wants people to proclaim the message to "bring about the obedience of faith". Obedience used in this sense does not mean obedience because of coercion. Instead, it is an obedience resulting from grace and love. If you love someone very much you want to please them. Obedience to Christ comes as a result of people's love for God, which as its starting point is God's love for God's people.

To Ponder

  • What significance does grace have in a world where nothing is free, in the sense that, in a commercial context, something offered as a free gift always has a catch?
  • How do you respond to the fact that through Christ you have received an apostleship?

Bible notes author

The Revd Lynita Conradie

Lynita Conradie is a Methodist presbyter in the Nottingham North Circuit. Originally from South Africa, she was a human rights' lawyer before entering the ministry and being ordained by the Methodist Church of Southern Africa.