Pastor’s Class Notes
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 1:5a “By whom we have received grace and
apostleship . . . .”
Notice, Paul did not obtain grace, nor work for it. He simply received it. God gives, man receives. Grace is a word that perfumes Scripture. In one word it says man deserves nothing, but God gives good things anyway.
Paul had received grace and knew what to do with it. He was to be an apostle, one sent forth with a message. Grace is a free gift; going forth should be the result of that gift.
It is amazing Paul viewed his apostleship as an honor. The Apostles were made a spectacle to the world, led a life of toil, trouble and danger. They “were killed all the day long,” and yet Paul regarded it an honor.
That is a noteworthy outlook. It is an honor to be employed in any work or service for God, whatever dangers or difficulties we face in it. No one can deny the work is hard. Augustine said, “The ministry is a weight from which even an angel might shrink.” Luther, “though an old preacher, trembled every time he ascended the pulpit.” The strain is intense; the problems are many. But still it is an honor to represent God.
Romans 1:5b “. . .for obedience to the faith. . .”
Paul had a specific goal: to encourage men in all nations to follow Christ. The obedience of faith is obedience which exists due to faith, and follows the controlling lead of faith. Faith implies submission and surrender. Obedience is the child of faith, and the child always reflects its parent’s strength or weakness. Abraham was able to obey and offer up Isaac only when he was strong in faith (HB 11:17). He believed God would raise Isaac from the dead (HB 11:19).
“Obedience of faith” essentially begins (here) and ends (16:26) this letter. This was important to Paul. Justification by faith will ever prove itself by the justified obeying of the Justifier.
Romans 1:5c “. . .among all nations. . .”
Notice the international scope of Paul’s vision. The disciples were not diocesans. They did not restrict their jurisdiction to a particular territory. Wesley was following their exact footprints when he said, “The world is my parish.”
The commission was a general one, worldwide in its range. That is why Paul had the right to address the church at Rome regarding spiritual matters. Yea, it was more than a right; it was an obligation.
There can be no limit to the sphere of our service. Jesus died for “all nations” and they must be included in the proclamation. Why is this so important?. . .
Romans 1:5d “. . .for his name:”
Because Jesus’ name deserves to be honored everywhere. There can be no limit to the sphere of our service. After what Jesus did at the cross, His name should be reverenced by every descendent of Adam. “For” His name means “on behalf of” his name. Our motive is that the Name of Jesus might be honored among men.
Jesus has done good things for us and deserves plenty of “good press.” We absolutely must share a good word for Jesus whenever we can.
He who has been blessed is under obligation to be a blessing. The Gospel was given to us on its way to others. Paul happened to be on the path which the Gospel was travelling to the Gentiles. And once he got the Gospel, he decided to “go with the flow” and help it on its way.
Romans 1:6 “Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus
The word “called” does not mean named, but rather summoned. It is not a description of us as much as of what we are to be doing. We are called, summoned to the work of God. There was once an outstanding Christian layman who, when asked his occupation, would say, “I am a witness for Jesus Christ, but I pack pork to pay expenses.” That is a great attitude. Our first vocation is a witness for Jesus; our salaried job just pays expenses.
Romans 1:7a “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God. . .”
God loves all men, but believers hold a special place in His heart. Down on the stinking manure pile of Rome, there was a beautiful flower-bed sending sweet aromas to Heaven.
When God came to visit Rome, He by-passed the palace. He stopped, rather, in catacombs, in houses where two or three were gathered together in His Name, in places where Christians huddled.
God loved them, even if nobody else did. When Paul arrived in Rome (AC 28:16-31), he assembled a group of Jewish leaders. They were anxious to hear because “as concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against” (28:22). Others may disparage us, but God loves us. We should let the love of God soak deeply within us. It is a comfort, an encouragement, and a delight.
The special affection of God is the compensation for believers. The world’s reproaches are basked away by His love.
The smile of God also motivates us to even greater heights for Him. The craving for the lesser things of this world can be thwarted by replacing it with a craving for the greater things of God. The Lord ever offers us more and more of Himself. Napoleon once said, “If you would truly conquer, you must replace.” And Jesus lures us from worldliness by offering better things. Let me illustrate: Remember the fabled Isle of Sirens, where sailors were lured to doom by the beautiful singing of the nymphs who lived there. Ulysses handled the problem by putting wax in the ears of his men. Orpheus, on a different trip, used a different approach. He played such lovely music on his lyre that animals, trees, and stones followed him. Rivers even stopped flowing to listen. When the sirens began their bewitching music, Orpheus simply played sweeter music, which held his crew like a magnet. The nymphs charmed the ear, but the music of Orpheus thrilled their whole being. And that is how God woos us to Himself. He does not “wax up our ears” and remove the world’s attractions from us. He rather offers something better–Himself and His smile.