Monday 27 January 2014

Bible Book:

“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God” (v. 1)

Romans 1:1-7 Monday 27 January 2014


This passage must rank among the mostchallenging, not to say convoluted, opening greetings from a churchleader hoping to win sympathy from a congregation he is yet tovisit!

Two themes only to be highlighted.

The first is 'good news' (or gospel). Its rootslie in the ancient Jewish Scriptures (our Old Testament). Itsfinest flower is Jesus. Humanly speaking, Jesus was a Jew descendedfrom King David. Perhaps Paul implies that Jesus was seen by hisfollowers in Judaism as the 'new David', or Messiah (alsotranslated as 'Christ'). But that was not the strength of Paul'sappeal, especially to Gentiles (non Jews). Paul bases his gospeland his faith not on a human judgement but on God's verdict onJesus and God's vindication of him. By the powerful act of raisingJesus from the dead, God revealed Jesus to be God's Son. Thisdivine declaration inspired some Gentiles and Jews to accept Jesusas the bearer of ultimate authority for their lives and for thewhole universe. Jesus is 'Lord'. And as Augustine was to observe inthe 4th century, service of the Lord Jesus is not enslavement butperfect freedom - a life of trust, love and praise in harmony withthe purpose and meaning of God's creation. Paul himself spoke ofthis as the "obedience of faith" (v. 5).

The second theme concerns Paul's distinctive role- given to him, of course, by the Lord Jesus. Paul was called andcommissioned as an 'apostle' (an authorised messenger whose valuesand life-style embodied his message) to Gentiles of every nation.He proclaimed God's good news about Jesus where Jesus was notknown. He guided and cajoled Gentile Christians everywhere(including Rome) to practise faith and obedience.

To Ponder

  • However we express and explore the Christian faith in today'sworld, there can be no compromise on the centrality of Jesus. Whatmost fascinates you about his story?
  • Paul emphasises integrity in the lives of Christians. How areyou best helped to work through the questions and dilemmas ofcontemporary life, so that you are given confidence that yourdiscipleship is authentically Christian?
  • Paul's role as an apostle has inspired generations of Christianleaders, lay and ordained. What are the challenges in the modernChurch in both accepting the authority of Church leaders and alsooffering them critical support in the development of theirministry? 

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