Pastor’s Class Notes
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 1:2 “(Which he had promised afore by his prophets
in the holy scriptures,)”
The Gospel was not something new, concocted by men. It was ordained before the foundation of the world. And God used the years before Jesus’ coming to prepare the world for it. Buddha and Confucius may have preceded Jesus in the flesh, but Jesus was the Creator God that gave life to their bodies. Jesus existed before they were born, and before the world was created.
God gave His people hints along the way foretelling the One who would someday come. Surprisingly, God’s main source of communication was not the kings or priests, but the prophets–a group usually disliked by the people at large.
Paul here placed honor on a group of men that were usually considered fanatics or rebels. Jeremiah, Amos, Malachi–they were unpopular but right. The prophets continued to proclaim their message from YHWH when no one listened. Their persistence resulted in the highest accolade–the pre-heralding of the Gospel.
The greatest Old Testament passages referring to Christ are found in the prophets’ books (Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Micah, Malachi). These men could be rude, sharp spoken, and cutting in their messages. Yet God saw their sincerity of heart and used them.
The line of the prophets was especially honored when one of their own, John the Baptist, was chosen as forerunner of the Messiah. The King, wicked Herod, was completely by-passed. The priesthood had become lazy and neglectful of the people’s real needs. Hence, Caiaphas was by-passed. The honor fell to a prophet.
The world’s outcasts were Heaven’s heroes. The prophets were scorned by men, but honored by God. Time has a way of “turning the table.” Winston Churchill was “the” hero of the early years of World War II. But not long after this, he was defeated in a re-election bid. Now he is considered one of the twentieth century’s most important men. U. S. Grant and Warren G. Harding were two of America’s most popular presidents while in office. Now they are viewed among the weakest presidents this country ever had. Harry Truman was maligned and ridiculed, plagued by Roosevelt’s overwhelming shadow. But now the Missourian is viewed as having been a remarkable leader. Lincoln is now universally viewed as one of the two greatest Presidents America ever had. But riots, complaints, and jokes against him abounded. He won re-election only because the Civil War turned in his favor at just the right moment.
These men, and the prophets, show us that popularity will not cause us to make a long-time impact on the world. Enlist on the side of truth, honesty, and conviction. Time vindicates right.
Do not be blown about by the whims and fads of popular opinion. Stand with the truth of God. Hold to high moral standards. Cling to righteousness and holiness. Only then will our lives have lasting significance. Pleasing God withstands the test of time. The kings had their wealth and power; the priests had their regalia and prestige; but the prophets had the smile of God. And that is the best thing of all.
Romans 1:3a “Concerning his Son. . .”
The focus of the Gospel is God’s Son, Jesus of Nazareth. Paul is enthralled with the Master. The Apostle stops a while and heaps up accolades on his Beloved. The sinner is here compelled to express love and honor for the Savior.
Romans 1:3b “. . .Jesus. . .”
It is no accident that the angel commanded Joseph to give this name to Mary’s first child. The name itself means “YHWH saves” and was given “for He shall save His people from their sins” (MT 1:21). He was God who had become man to help us. “He became what we are, to make us what He is.”
Romans 1:3c “. . .Christ. . .”
“The anointed One”–In the Old Testament prophets, priests, and kings were anointed. The Jews longed for “the” anointed One, that One who would combine in Himself all three offices. Jesus did this. As prophet He was the ultimate mouthpiece of God. As priest He entered the Holy of Holies once and all for us. As king He reigns at the right hand of the Father.
Romans 1:3d “. . .our Lord. . .”
“Lord” is the word the Hebrews used in their scriptures as a substitute for the Holy Name, YHWH. When Paul, the Hebrew scholar, used the word “Lord” with reference to Jesus, he knew exactly what implications would be drawn. He was putting Jesus in the position of God. Paul was saying Jesus is Supreme Master and Possessor. We belong to Him.
Christianity is not primarily a system of theology or ethics. It is a Person. Becoming a Christian means letting a new Person live in you (GL 2:20). To reject Christianity is not to reject a sermon, or church, or Bible, but to reject a Person who offers Himself. And when Christ is rejected, the unbeliever is the loser. Rejecting Jesus does not topple Jesus from the throne. The Rock of Ages stands secure. Refusing the Bible does not make it less true. The infallible Word abides forever. Scorning the sermon does not nullify it. The truth remains.
Jesus is Lord. He is Master. His throne is secure. Someday every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. But for many it will be too late.
What will you do with Jesus?
Neutral you cannot be.
Someday your heart will be asking,
“What will he do with me?” (B. B. McKinney)
Romans 1:3e “. . .which was made of the seed of David. . .”
Everyone agreed the Messiah would be a descendant of David. YHWH Himself told David, “Thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee: thy throne shall be established forever” (2 SM 7:16). The Coming One had to be a descendant of David. Jesus met this requirement through both parents. Matthew 1 gives His legal connection to David through his step-father. Luke 3 gives his actual connection to David through His mother. He was a legal heir to David’s throne. Not even His bitterest enemies disputed his Davidic ancestry.
Romans 1:3f “. . .according to the flesh;”
The incarnation was an amazing provision for human desires. All humanity seems to cry out for something tangible with regard to God. Idols, statues, figurines, crucifixes, beads, etc.–these are products of human hearts groaning after God incarnate. Jesus has filled that need. We have no reason to want any other tangible evidence of God. Jesus in the flesh suffices.
Paul’s statement here obviously implies that there was more to Jesus than humanity. This phrase would be redundant if used of any other human being who ever lived. This points to the next verse. . .
Romans 1:4 “And declared to be the Son of God with
power, according to the spirit of
holiness, by the resurrection from
Verse 3 emphasized Jesus’ humanity. Now Paul emphasizes Christ’s superior nature, the Divine nature. The genealogical records established beyond question the physical ancestry of Jesus. The Resurrection proved His spiritual ancestry.
The foundation of our faith rests upon the premise Jesus is the Son of God. By that, we mean of the very substance of God. He is God of very God. Not all of God, but nevertheless, God. If this position is forfeited, we end up having nothing more than Judaism under a new name.
Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. The Jews called Him a liar and crucified Him for blasphemy. One of them had to be completely wrong. The Resurrection proved Jesus was right.
The word “declare” means to manifest, to mark with a monument. It refers to placing a monument somewhere to provide permanent evidence. The resurrection is the monument that declares “Jesus is the Son of God.” It did not make Him that. He never “became” the Son of God. He always was. The resurrection just proved it.
The proof was given in the sphere of power. Christ was irresistibly and eternally proven to be the Son of God. The Resurrection was God’s solemn and powerful “Amen!” to everything Jesus claimed to be. The Father had gently said, with a dove, “This is My Son” at His baptism. The Father said it again at the Transfiguration, but in more glorious tones, “This is MY SON!” Then finally, at the resurrection, He said it once more; this time with emphasis, effectually, loud and clear, “THIS IS MY SON!!!” He had a hard time getting that across to sinful, thick-headed men. But the Lord has ways of getting His message across. It took a staggering dream to get Jacob’s attention, a burning bush to get Moses’ attention, a series of plagues to get Pharaoh’s attention, a flaming angel to get Balaam’s attention, a rain of fire to get King Ahab’s attention, a blinding light to get Paul’s attention, and a mind-boggling, inexplicable, unprecedented, death-defying resurrection to get the world’s attention.
The miracles of Jesus did not overwhelmingly convince men of His deity. Some believed, but more disbelieved and said His power was magical or Satanic. However, when it came to His resurrection, no one ever attempted to say it was caused by magic or Satan. Only God can raise the dead. Everyone knew if Jesus actually rose, it would be impossible to deny Jesus is God.
That is why Paul calls it a declaration of power. If men will not be convinced by the resurrection, they will not be convinced by anything. We do not have a more powerful argument.
Conclusion: I doubt if anyone in the world believed very strongly in the deity of Christ on the day after he was crucified. His message, His cause, His claims, and the disciples’ faith were buried with Him. But they all returned with vitality on Sunday morning.
Many men have died, leaving behind wonderful legacies and outstanding memories. But when Jesus died, He left as His legacy a resurrected presence, mighty with power.