Second Reading: Romans 1:1-7

Paul’s Resume

What does you resume look like? Does it need to be updated? Why or why not?

Popular Translation

1 From Paul:

I am a servant of Jesus Christ. God called me to be an apostle. He set me aside to share the Good News.

2 Through his prophets in the Bible, God made promises long ago 3 about his Son. Jesus Christ fulfilled the promises made about David’s descendant. 4 And, when he rose from the dead, our Lord fulfilled the promises he was the One that the Spirit of holiness would show everyone.

5 Through Jesus and for his name, God gave us his grace and the job of apostles, so all people would trust and obey him. 6 In faith and obedience, God calls you to be with Jesus Christ.

7 To the saints who live in Rome that God loves:

May you receive the grace and peace God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ offers you.

Literal Translation

1 Paul, slave of Jesus Christ, called apostle, having been set aside for the Good News of God 2 who promised (in the past) through his prophets in the holy Scriptures 3 about his SON, the (ONE) having been (born) from David in flesh, 4 the (ONE) having been designated SON OF GOD by the Spirit of holiness through the resurrection from the dead, JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD, 5 through whom, on behalf of HIS name, we receive grace and apostleship in (pursuit of) obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, 6 in which you are also called (to be) of JESUS CHRIST, 7 to all the beloved of God living in Rome, called saints, grace and peace to you from God our Father and (our) LORD JESUS CHRIST.

1:1-7 This long, continuous salutation can be broken down in the following way:

1:1 The main subject and verb is “Paul (is).” In Greek, like many other languages, the verb “to be” can be understood. The subordinate clauses “called apostle” and “having been set aside for the Good News of God” refer to Paul.

1:2-3a “who promised...about his SON” refers to God, the object of “Good News” in 1:1c.

1:3b-4 “the (ONE)...the (ONE)” These two clauses refer to Jesus in the phrase “about his SON.” The clauses discuss the human origin and divine mandate found in the Messiah.

1:5 “through whom...” The pronoun in this prepositional phrase can either refer to “JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD” in 1:4c or “his SON” in 1:3a. In either case, Christ was the instrument for grace and ministry (i.e., “apostleship”). The goal of grace and ministry was the “obedience of faith” among all people.

1:6 “in which...” The pronoun in this phrase refers to the “obedience of faith” (1:5b), which Paul held was a calling from God. Paul saw ministry-discipleship as dialogue orchestrated by God between the missionary/preacher and his audience.

1:7 This verse ended the salutation with address and greeting to the audience in Rome.

Notice how Paul strung a series of thoughts together using relative pronouns, participles, and other words. This was typical of his rhetorical style. Notice Paul bookends his ministry (1:1, 5) with the revelation of Christ (1:2-4); then, he discussed the results of his work.

Imagine writing a letter to a group of people who lived far away. Wouldn’t you list part of your resume in order to get the attention of your intended audience? In these opening verses of the letter to the Romans, Paul did just that. But, notice he did not focus on his accomplishments. Instead, he pointed to God’s accomplishments in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Paul did mention his ministry, but that activity was subservient to the activity of God. Paul was a busy man, no doubt. But, his source of activity and his intended result focused on his Maker. Paul may have written the letter, but he was merely a sign that pointed to Jesus Christ.

In his salutation to the Romans, Paul revealed his view of Scripture. In the writings, God made promises about the Messiah. He would be a “son of David.” And he would be anointed with divine power. By his birth, Jesus was descendant of the David “in the flesh.” By his resurrection, Jesus showed he was “designated by the Spirit of holiness.” For Paul, these were the high points for the Messiah; everything between birth and resurrection was commentary.

In the name of Jesus, Paul became an apostle and the faithful at Rome became believers. Both ministry and discipleship were the results of God’s call and his grace (sometimes it’s hard to tell one from the other). But the end game ministry/discipleship and call/grace was Church, the gathering of the God’s beloved, the saints.

As Paul was called to care the Good News, so are we. We might not be apostles, but we are evangelists. Let us pray God will help us so we can live up to the standards Paul set. He did so by grace and his ministry. We can, too.

How has God called you to serve others? How have those people grown closer to God through your efforts? What has God done through you for others?