Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chapter 2 

(8) First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. (9) For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; (10) Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. (11) For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; (12) That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. (13) Now I would not have you ignorant, that oftentimes I proposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among all Gentiles. (14) I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. (15) So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

Verse 8  First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. In this prayer of the apostle he is strongly expressing his affections for all true believers in Rome and is here informing them of how often he is moved by the Spirit to remember them at the throne of grace.  His heart was drawn out in thanksgiving that some of God’s elect were found there.  The apostle, who before his conversion had a hatred for Christ and all His followers, now has a genuine affection for all the saints, without respect of persons. He shows his deep personal interest in each of them and states that they were continually upon his heart, and in all his prayers.

The object of thanksgiving is God, “But God be thanked” (Rom. ), that most gracious and glorious Being.  All that we are, have and know comes from Him (James ).  Paul invoked Him, not as an absolutely, infinitely removed, unrelated One, but as “my God,” as a living and personal reality.  This was an avowal of covenant relationship; the grand covenant promise “I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people” (Heb. ), looking back to Jer. 24:7 and 31:33.  “My God” is expressive of a personal relationship of all God’s people to Him.  God was Paul’s God as He is the God of all the saints, by eternal election, having loved them with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3); by redemption, having purchased them with His precious blood (Acts 20:28); by His regenerating power, having communicated spiritual life to them and having stamped the divine image upon their hearts, making them manifestly His own dear children (Titus 3:5); by receiving Him, for when God was revealed to us and in us, we surrendered to His claims, saying, “What wilt Thou have me do?” (Acts 9:6), and God bestowed upon us His own nature and became our everlasting portion, our all-satisfying inheritance. “My God” — the One who showed such sovereign and signal mercy to Paul, and to each of His children, who could say with Job, “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee” (Job 42:5).

The ground of approach, the Person through whom thanks are given is, “through Jesus Christ.”  How can Paul, you, or I, conscious of our sinful pollution and utter unworthiness, even think of approaching Infinite Purity?  Only in Christ, the all-sufficient provision to meet our need, we may obtain access to the thrice holy God — “through Jesus Christ.”  God is our God, through Christ only.  Every approach to God must be made through the merits of the Mediator. We can not know God as our Father until we know, acknowledge, and adorn Christ as our living Lord (John 14:6; 1 Tim. 2:5; Psa. ).  There is no prayer or praise acceptable to a Holy God except through Him, “to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 2:5).  All religions or religious activities that fail to adhere to this vital principle are false and are damning their deluded followers.

That your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.”  Paul was thankful for the humble reliance of the saints on the Lord Jesus and their loving allegiance to Him as Lord and Savior.  Their faith, the Faith of God wrought within the soul, was of such a character as to be everywhere spoken of, and Paul’s thanksgiving for them was his recognition and acknowledgment that God was the Giver of their faith (Phil. 1:29), and that they believed so strongly and openly.  He did not congratulate them upon their faith, but he fervently thanks God for it, and praises God for what He by His grace had wrought in them.  Faith is truly the gift of God, all boasting is excluded (Eph. 2:8-9), and men and women of true faith are not ashamed to declare it (Luke ).  God-given faith which transforms the character and conduct of poor sinners will be taken note of and spoken of everywhere.  This faith is productive of obedience such as others will be aware of, producing a tremendous change of life and practice (Rom. & 1 Thes. 1:8-9).

The fact that thanks were returned to God for these graces was an acknowledgment that He is the Author of them; they do not, in any way, originate with man.  They are the fruit of the Spirit, evidences of His regenerating work. Thanksgiving should be offered to God not for ourselves only but for our fellow Christians also.  This was always Paul’s custom (Eph. -16; Col. 1:3-4).

Verse 9  For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers. Paul appeals to God who knew how much these Christians were on his heart.  He acknowledged that God is omniscient, knowing all things (Acts 15:8), and Paul reverently appeals to Him as the Searcher of hearts (Psa. 139:23).   He also exhorts each saint to look to that perfect knowledge that God has of his heart as evidence of his intense interest in their spiritual welfare, thus assuring them of his affection, interest and continual prayers for them.

Whom I serve with my spirit. Paul was “constrained by the love of Christ,” sold out,  serving with all his innermost being.  He was completely at His Lord’s entire disposal, subject only to His orders.  There was no hypocrisy, no greed, nor formality as there is in most so-called service today.  Paul’s true service to his Lord was from the very depths of his being — willingly, heartily, joyously.  All true service is spiritual, as befits the nature of God.  No bodily service is acceptable to Him, which is not informed and animated by a renewed spirit (Rom.1:1-14; Col. 3:10). 

In the gospel of Christ.”  The whole of Paul’s new life and all his activity were consecrated to the preaching of the Gospel of his Lord.  This is the “Good News,” the only good news, that God has for poor, guilty sinners; “in the gospel of His Son.”  As the ambassador of the Triune God Paul was never happier than when he was speaking of the excellencies of his Sovereign Lord.

That without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers.  “The care of all the churches” lay deep in Paul’s affections, and that care he cast upon Him Who alone was able to bear it.  It was the apostle’s delight to bear those to whom he ministered upon his heart, and in his prayers before the Lord (Phil. 1:3-5).  May our Lord graciously move all our hearts in this direction.  We cannot do the saints a greater kindness, or exercise our love for them in a more practical way, than by praying for them. This was Paul’s common practice as stated here and also in Ephesians (1:15-16); the Philippians (1:3-4); the Colossians (1:3-4); and the Thessalonians (1:2-3).  What love for all saints, what all absorbing spirituality, what impassioned devotion to the glory of Christ among men!

By prayer (which we hope to deal with much more extensively at 8:26), is meant an address to the Almighty, consisting of petition, thanksgiving, statements of present necessities, confession of sin, &c., which constitute the expression of the various needs and feeling in the soul.  We add the quote of Robert Haldane, “To pray without laboring is to mock God: to labor without praying is to rob God of His glory.”

Verse 10  Making requests, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. Paul’s love for all the saints made him desirous of meeting those at Rome, and he prayed constantly that God would make this possible. His desire for “a prosperous journey” is that his circumstances should be so favorably ordered by God that Paul would have a profitable visit with them and that the Lord through him would bestow spiritual blessings upon them. Later in this epistle (15:28-29) Paul was given Divine assurance of his request being granted. It was nearly twenty five years after his conversion before this desire was accomplished. The journey is described in Acts chapters 27 and 28.  After a most trying and hazardous voyage, Paul arrived in Rome in chains “as a prisoner of Jesus Christ.” But there was victory for him as recorded in Acts 28:30-31.

“By the will of God to come unto you.”  Paul, on the road to Damascus, in the dust as an awakened sinner, was brought to bow to the will of his Lord, then and throughout his life, as from his heart he cried, “What wilt Thou have me to do?”  This is the cry of every sinner that the Holy Ghost brings to Christ. Paul acknowledged that his all, his future, was in God’s hands and his continual prayer was for his Lord’s will in all ways and at all times in his life.  In the pursuit of every lawful project there must be a humble acknowledgment of the Divine proviso, “Thy will be done,” for as Charles Hodge remarks, “God’s providence is to be recognized in reference to the most ordinary affairs of life” (James 4:15; Acts 18:21; 1 Cor. 4:19).

Verse 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established. The apostle makes it known to the saints that his desire to see them was due to spiritual affection for them.  The word “long” shows how strong and intense Paul’s desire was to visit the saints in Rome, and how real and commendable was his subjection to the will of God.  We see the heart of a true under-shepherd in his burning zeal, plus we see his blessed, total submission to the Chief Shepherd. 

It is not the impartation of supernatural gifts which exercises Paul’s heart, but the establishment of believers in the true and experimental doctrines of God’s pure, free, sovereign grace, as the context makes clear. 

“To the end ye may be established.”  As the instrument of God, Paul desired to be made a blessing to Christ's little flock.  Though their faith was well spoken of, he desired to minister spiritual light, knowledge, peace and comfort through the Word of God. He wished them to be established, strengthened, settled, as “The God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus ... make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” (1 Pet. 5:10).  The Greek word translated “stablish” means thoroughly establish, to make “rooted and grounded in the faith” (Col. 1:27) both in heart (1 Thes. 3:12) and in walk (2 Thes. 2:17).  Paul shows the object of a true minister which is to expound the Way more perfectly to them, to add to their spiritual light and joy in Christ, and to open up to them more fully the unsearchable riches of Christ our Lord. A true man of God wants to see sinners truly converted and will seek to be used of God in their growth and establishment in the faith.

Verse 12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Paul had expressed his desire to instruct them in order to do them good, and he adds, to instruct and do one another good; in giving I shall receive.  In the words of John Calvin, “There is none so poor in the Church of Christ who may not impart to us something of value: it is only our malignity and pride that hinders us from gathering such fruit from every quarter.”  How vastly different is the apostolic style from present day ministers!  When the Gospel is faithfully preached, sinners converted and firmly established in the faith, both they and the minister are comforted together.  Contact with kindred minds refreshes, and “he that watereth (others) shall be watered also himself” (Prov. 11:25).

This grace of faith is the same in all and is called “the common faith” (Titus 1:4) or “the mutual faith both of you and me.”  It is mutually enjoyed by all the living members of our Lord’s body, and ever seeks, not the glory of its possessors, but that of its gracious Author.  It is the same in all its properties, all flowing from one and the same fountain, which is Christ; a faith which “worketh by love” (Gal. 5:6).  It is to be carefully noted that in true Christian fellowship a common, mutual faith is the uniting factor.  There can be no mutual edification where there is no mutual faith.  It is the fellowship of kindred minds which binds hearts together in Christian love.  In our day many would make a so-called fellowship the means of securing a “common faith,” but this is a total inversion of what is ever the Biblical order (see the second epistle of John).

Verse 13  Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. “I would not have you to be ignorant” was a phrase Paul used in calling special attention to what he is about to say. He said he “purposed,” oftentimes for many years, to come to them, showing Paul’s settled determination.  The word “let” means hindered.  Some have thought that this hindering was the incessant calls for apostolic labor, which left no time at his command. Others think it means that the Spirit, who had forbidden his preaching in Asia, had hitherto forbidden his visiting Rome.  But 1 Thes. 2:18 — “Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us” — shows that it was Satan who was the hinderer. We see from Acts 23:11 that it was the will of God for Paul to go to Rome. “Power belongeth unto God” (Psa. 62:11) and to Him only.  But Satan, who sometimes by Divine permission has delegated power (for he is simply a pawn in Almighty God’s hand), and his emissaries opposed Paul’s approach to Rome, while Paul was longing and praying to get there.  Paul’s entrance at a later date into Rome shows our Lord’s will overruling Satan’s will and Paul’s prayer answered by his Lord.

On this issue of Satan being entirely in the hands of Him alone Who has all power and totally under control of His will, we cannot improve upon the following quote of the late Charles D. Alexander:  “It is a mistake to suppose that these instances mean Satan has alterations of liberty and restraint as though sometimes he is in ‘heaven,’ sometimes on earth, and sometimes under it.  These terms refer to the constantly recurring phases of Satan’s manifestation.  The providential government of God ordains periods of unleashing Satanic power, and again periods of restraint according to the unfolding of the Divine plan in relation to the Kingdom of Christ.  We know from the Book of Job that Satan is the slave of providence.  He cannot act without the Divine permission, and hence must, from time to time, appear before the throne of God and give an account of himself.  WE CONTEND WITH ALL OUR SOUL AGAINST THE PERNICIOUS IMAGINATION THAT SATAN REPRESENTS A SECOND FORCE IN THE UNIVERSE.  There is NO SECOND FORCE.  ONLY GOD RULES!  There is only one control.  There is only one hand which holds the reins of power and authority.  WHERE CHRIST HAS HIS SEAT, THE DEVIL IS ALWAYS CAST DOWN ... Decrees to what extent Satan is to be given liberty to act.  Always that liberty is ordained by God in relation to the righteous administration of the world.  Sometimes that liberty is given so that the people of God should be tried and proven as to their faith and patience, the prime example being Job.  Always it is ‘so far and no further’ — again as in the case of Job — ‘touch not his life’ (Job 2:6).  If God is not in total control of His own creation, then He is no God and we must look for another who IS in control.”

“That I might have some fruit among you also.”  Paul’s desire was for spiritual fruit, the conversion or edification of those to whom he preached.  John Calvin says, “He no doubt speaks of that fruit, for the gathering of which the Lord sent His apostles” (John 15:16). 

Verse 14  I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.  Paul called himself by many names; none of them lofty, all of them lowly; the highest, simply “an apostle.” Other times, it is Paul “the servant of Jesus Christ,” sometimes Paul “the aged,” or at other times Paul “the prisoner,” or “less than the least of all saints,” or sometimes, the “chief of sinners.”  Here it is “a debtor.” Paul was a “debtor” as he had experienced the mercy and grace of God in his own soul, and receiving his Divine call to the ministry of the Word, Paul was bound by the love that Christ had shown him.  Because of this he had a keen desire in his heart to be faithful to his Lord and used of Him in the preaching of the Gospel to the conversion of sinners and being beneficial and comforting to the saints.  So greatly did he feel this obligation resting upon him that he says, “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16).  Paul is a debtor to his God; to Christ; to God’s Gospel; and to men of all nations.  By grace he became possessed of the “unsearchable riches of Christ.”  He found this treasure revealed in his soul, and he could not conceal it; he must proclaim it; he must tell abroad what he felt in his heart.

Who had made Paul to differ, and worked this grace in him?  The Triune God in the revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  It is to God, then, in the first place that Paul feels himself an infinite debtor in the fullest sense.  And he pays this debt (willingly and lovingly) by pouring out this God-given treasure to others. A man must have this call of God and know that he has this treasure himself before he can be quickened into feeling of his responsibility to preach to others.  The love of Christ must constrain us; a sense of what we owe to Him must impel and stimulate us.  Only then is the debt paid, by carrying the Gospel which we have received in power in our hearts.  That Gospel had enriched the apostle infinitely, and he takes it to others.

Paul’s commission was to no one nation, or one race, or one class of people.  “Barbarians” means all who spoke a language foreign to the Greek.  It means a foreigner, one of another language.  “Greeks and Barbarians” is like saying “Greeks and non-Greeks,” or all nations.  Also to all classes.  The man of God must preach to all men, rich as well as poor, wise as well as unwise.  All men need to hear the message of the Gospel, even all natural men who despise it as Paul did before his conversion.  But the Gospel must be delivered to the heart of a convinced sinner in the power of the Holy Ghost in order for it to become “good news” to that sinner.

Verse15.  So, as much as is in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.  Paul was willing and ready to preach the Gospel, to fulfill the call of his loving Lord, as far as he was allowed to do so by Him.  He knew it to be his duty to spread that Gospel among the Romans, in order to gather fruit for his Master, and he was anxious to obey the Lord Christ whom he loved supremely.  Everything he did, everywhere he went, rested not with him, but on the will of Christ.  He did not direct his own actions as he was always dependent and submissive to the Lord Jesus. This is the path for all Christians to take in following the Lord, leaving all events in His hands.  RCLVC

Worthy Doctrinal and Spiritual Notes and Quotes on Romans 1:8-15

Verse 8. Hearty thanks must be given to God: such as cometh not from the roof of the mouth but the root of the heart. — John Trapp (1601-1669).

Thanksgiving is an act of self-denial. — William Gurnall (1617-1679).

If God Himself be mine, then everything that is pure, holy, lovely, satisfying, is mine.  If that glorious fact, that infinitely grand truth, be the subject of constant meditation and adoration, then my heart will not be cold and dull, nor will my mouth be paralyzed when I draw near to the throne of grace.  It is not an absolute and unrelated Deity whom I approach, but “my God.”  And that blessed and blissful relationship is to be duly acknowledged by the Christian when he bows the knee before Him.  So far from being the language of presumption, it would be wicked presumption, insulting unbelief, to deny it. — Arthur W. Pink (1881-1952).

If faith has not for its basis a testimony of God, then such “faith” is no faith. — Adolphe Monod (1802-1856).

Faith is exalted so high today that men are being satisfied with any kind of faith. — J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937).

Believing and obeying always run side by side. — C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892).

Verse 9. As a Christian is never out of the reach of God’s hand, so he is never out of the view of God's eye. — Thomas Brooks (1608-1680).

The Lord first of all wants sincerity in His service, simplicity of heart without guile and falsehood. — John Calvin (1509-1564).

Do not pray by heart but with the heart. — Anonymous.

The reasons for this prayer are, (1) To impart some spiritual gift looking to their establishment. (2) For mutual comfort in each other’s faith. (3) That he might have some fruit in them as in other Gentiles. (4) Because he was a debtor to both Greeks and Barbarians, wise and foolish.  (5) Because he was ready to preach at Rome as well as elsewhere. (6) He had been hindered in his purposes to visit them hitherto (see also ). (7) He was not ashamed of the Gospel in any crowd. — B. H. Carroll (1843-1914).

Verse 10. As to the will of God, it falls under a twofold consideration of His secret and revealed will.  The distinction is found in that Scripture: “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but these things which are revealed belong unto us” (Deut. 29:29).  The first is the rule of His own actions:  the latter of ours. — John Flavel (1627-1691).

Verse 11. A drop of grace is worth a sea of gifts. — William Jenkyn (1612-1685).

Grace is too much neglected where gifts are too highly prized. — William Gurnall (1617-1679).

Salvation is promised to those who have the graces of the Spirit, but not to those who have merely the extra-ordinary gifts.  Many have these last, and yet go to hell. — Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758).

Verses 12 through 14.  Because of the mercy of God to me and by His divine call to the ministry of the Word, I have an obligation to fulfill, a duty to perform and a debt to pay to all men, cultured and uncultured, wise and unwise. The Gospel is the same for all men and is to be preached to the civilized, cultured nations as well as to the pagan, uncivilized barbarians.  It is the same Gospel to those who are learned and wise, with respect to human wisdom and knowledge, and to those who are unlearned and untaught in natural things (1 Cor. 1:26-30; Matt. 11:25). — Henry Mahan (b. 1926).

Whatever you do, begin with God. — Matthew Henry (1662-1714).

This faith is mutual in all Christ’s members.  No rivalry, or unseemly emulation, is discovered in its manifestations.  The strong helps the weak.  The weak hugs the strong. Precious oneness!  — Thomas Bradbury (1831-1905).

The right manner of growth is to grow less in one’s own eyes. — Thomas Watson (1620-1686).

TRUE RELIGION is not the great competition for members that we see on every corner and in every church organization, but the religion of God is to be conformed to the Word of God and seek to reach out to the chosen of God who desire to hear the good news of eternal salvation in Christ the Lord. — Wylie W. Fulton (b. 1939).

Verse 15. Whenever you preach, be sure that you lift the Savior high and lay the sinner low. — John Wilmot.

My grand point in preaching is to break the hard heart, and to heal the broken one. — John Newton (1725-1807).
Chapter 1 


(1) Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (2) (Which He had promised afore by His prophets in the holy scriptures), (3) Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; (4) And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: (5) By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name: (6) Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: (7) To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God. Paul's name was Saul before God stopped him on the road to Damascus and He who “Commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shined in Paul’s heart, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the Person of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4: 6).  God wrought saving grace in the soul of this self righteous Pharisee (Phil. 3:5-6), spiritually creating him into a true servant and apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. This was the greatest thing that ever happened in the life of the apostle and for this reason he changed his name to Paul. The new man had a new name that ever pointed back to the Damascus Road where sovereign mercy conquered Saul the rebel, who by the regenerating power of the Holy Ghost, became Paul the servant who “counted all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus” his Lord (Phil. 3:8). 

It was common among the Jewish people to change the name of a person in consequence of a remarkable event, as in the case of Abraham and Jacob (see Gen. 17:5 & 32:28).  This was certainly THE EVENT in Paul’s life. Many commentators who simply have him with a Jewish name and a Gentile name have, we believe, completely missed the significance and importance of this change in his name. Nor do we agree with those commentators who think he attained his name for being used of God to point Sergius, the proconsul, to the Lord for he was called Paul before that time (Acts 13:7,9).  His new name was simply announced to all as this as it was the time fixed by Divine authority for the manifestation of him as the apostle of the Gentiles Rom. ).  He is never called Saul again.
Throughout his 14 letters, the apostle constantly went back to his saving encounter with the Lord Christ.  In fact, next to the fall of man and the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, no incident occupies so much space in Scripture as the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (Paul).  It is related in detail 3 times in the book of Acts (chapters 9, 22, & 26) and many more times in his epistles (Gal. 1:11-24; 1 Cor. 15:8-10; Rom. 7:7-25; Phil. 3:4-14; 1 Tim 1:12-16; 2 Tim. 1: 9-12).This record of the Divine, instantaneous and total transformation of the bitterest enemy of Christ into the most devoted servant of Christ on earth perfectly demonstrated the sovereignty, the almightiness, and irresistibility of the grace of God in conviction and conversion of a sinner.  For Paul, God's pattern in saving sinners (1 Tim. ), was converted from a savage persecutor into a preacher of the Gospel of God concerning Jesus Christ our Lord.

“A servant of Jesus Christ” The term “servant” in the Scripture generally, if not invariably, means slave or bond-slave. So is its meaning here.  Onesimus was the slave of Philemon, and ran away (see the Epistle to Philemon).  By grace Paul willingly became the bond-slave of his Lord; all his lifetime totally dedicated to ministering the Gospel of grace, and he did not run in vain (Phil. ).  He was a rebel who had been conquered by sovereign grace and spent his life preaching to the glory of God, pleasing Him and not men (Gal. ).  Having been made “willing in the day of His power,” Paul was now at the beck and call of his new Master, having wholeheartedly yielded and agreed to do His bidding. He was totally under the control of Christ and was willing to be used entirely at His direction. Paul showed throughout his life that he was, in a most sincere and loving way, in complete submission to the Lord Christ.  His life was Christ for he “was crucified with Him and the life that he now lived was Christ living in Him” (see Gal. ).  His life was lived as one who showed forth what it meant to say, “For to me to live is Christ” (Phil. ).  So far from being “not ashamed” of the Gospel of God that he preached, he “gloried in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ” (see Rom. & Gal. ).  Ah, dear reader, do you know the realities of such an encounter with Christ?  Is the Lord Christ our theme in life?  Is He our life, the center of our life?  Does our entire life revolve around Christ Himself?  That is what it means to be saved; a bond-slave of the Lord Jesus.

Jesus Christ, by sovereign grace, is now the center of Paul’s life, yea, his whole life revolved around his Lord.  In his ministry Christ is always Paul’s theme.  This Jesus is Jehovah of the Old Testament.  The eternal Son of God is Jesus, that is, Saviour.  God named Him Jesus and that means there is significance in that name, for great significance is attached to names in Scripture.  He is called Jesus because He is Jesus, the God of our salvation reaching down to us poor sinners in our misery, to redeem us, and to deliver us from death!  He is called Jesus, not because He is willing and able to save and to deliver us from our sins, but because He actually does save and deliver us.  “Thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.”  He is an effectual Saviour of His people, and He is not just a possible Saviour of all men.  He came “to seek and to save that which was lost.”  He came to actually save all those given Him of the Father and He lost not a one of them (John -39; ; -18). Read again the saving encounter of the apostle in Acts chapters 9, 22, & 26.  Christ came to Paul and saved him. Paul was not merely “offered” salvation; he was not brought to a “decision” that made salvation depend on his actions.  “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).  No, salvation is not with Paul or any sinner, dependent upon him at all, but SALVATION IS OF THE LORD.

The name CHRIST signifies that this Jesus is our Prophet, who reveals to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption; that He is our only High Priest, who redeemed us and intercedes for us; and that He is our eternal King, who governs us, and defends and preserves us to the end. The name Christ is the same as the Old Testament name Messiah.  It signifies Anointed. He was called by the Trinity to function officially in the kingdom of God, as prophet, priest, and king.  Although it was significant as a title, the term CHRIST became a proper name and it is so used throughout the New Testament.

“Called to be an apostle.”  The word “called” means not only effectually called, but also chosen, appointed.  He was called to grace and salvation thereby, as well as to the office of apostleship. Paul was saved by Divine appointment “at God’s set time,” and he states that his being called to be an “apostle to the Gentiles” (Rom. ) was solely by the same Divine appointment.  “It was not an office taken up by his own will or natural choice.  He says in 1 Cor. 1:1, ‘Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God,’ and in 2 Cor. 1:1, ‘by the will of God.’  Gal. 1:1, ‘not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father.’  ‘By the will of God’ (Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:1; 2 Tim 1:1).  ‘By the commandment of God’ (1 Tim. 1:1), ‘According to the faith of God’s elect’ (Tit. 1:1).  (Note verse 5 where Paul says he received grace and apostleship from the all-powerful Son)” (Wylie W. Fulton).  (See verse 6 below on called of Jesus Christ). In a strict sense the word apostle is applied to those men only who were selected and commissioned by Christ Himself. “And when it was day, He called His disciples, and of them He chose twelve, whom also He named apostles” (Luke ).  These apostles were authoritative witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and thus also of the whole Gospel, for the entire Gospel of Christ is signed and sealed in His resurrection from the dead.  All that our Lord taught and all that His death means are proven in His resurrection.  The apostles had to be eyewitnesses of Christ’s resurrection (1 Cor. 15:8).  They were enabled to perform mighty signs as credentials of their authority (Acts ; 2 Cor. ), and signs and wonders accompanied the apostolic ministry (1 Cor. -30).  Paul was made an apostle by God, through Christ Jesus who called him directly and instructed him.

“Separated unto the gospel of God.”  Paul was “separated from his mother’s womb” (Gal.1:15), by the good pleasure of God. God had singled him out, chosen him, destined him from all eternity to salvation in Christ and to the apostolic office (Jer. 1:5).  Paul was separated by grace from everything unto God and His Gospel — his strict Jewish views, false religion, false views of God’s holy law, etc. — and he counted them but dung (Phil. 3:-7 & Acts 9:15). It is called the “gospel of God” to emphasize its exclusively divine origin and authorship (2 Cor. 11:7; 1 Thes. 2:8-9; 1 Pet. ).  The Gospel is not ours, nor any religious group’s, nor any man’s, but it is God’s.  In no sense is it of human origin.  There is nothing in this glorious Gospel but pure, free grace.  It is for sinners and none else.  Our Lord said He came not to call those who thought they were righteous, but laboring sinners, heavy laden sinners, to repentance.  This Gospel is suited for the worst of individuals, and the very chiefest of sinners (For more on the Gospel, see Romans 1 verse 16).

Verse 2 (Which he promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures).  This good news from God to guilty sinners is the Gospel which Paul was sent to preach.  This is the system of grace and truth, which from the beginning had been predicted and partially unfolded in the writings of the prophets in the Old Testament (1 Peter -12).  Our Lord, and all His apostles, including the apostle Paul, state that the revelation of the Gospel message they preached was from the Old Testament, the sacred writings (Luke 24:26-27; Acts 26:6). The Gospel is contained in its rudiments in the Old Testament.  It is the soul of the old dispensation.  It was preached in Eden (Gen. 3:15), and to Abraham (Gal. 3:8), where the blessing of justification is promised to all God’s elect in all nations.  Our blessed Lord Jesus and His apostles often insisted that they preached nothing contrary to the teaching of the prophets, and nothing which the prophets had not left the church to expect (John 1:45; 5:46; 8:56; 12:16; Acts 3:21-24; 10:43).  It is great folly for dispensationalists to proclaim a material kingdom from these precious scriptures so full of Christ and His gracious promises to His people.
Acts 17:3 brings out the great importance of proper views and esteem for God’s Old Testament — “Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach to you, is Christ.”  The arguments Paul used to prove that Christ Jesus was the Messiah, were such as these:  (1) That Christ corresponded with the prophecies respecting Him, in the following particulars: (a) He was born at Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); (b) He was of the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10); (c) He was descended from Jesse, and of the royal line of David (Isa. 11:1, 10); (d) He came at the time predicted (Dan. 9:24-27); (e) His appearance, character, and work etc. corresponded with the predictions (Isa. 53).  (2) His miracles prove that He was the Messiah as He professed to be, and God would not work a miracle to confirm the claims of an impostor. (3) For the same reason, His resurrection from the dead proved that He was the Messiah.

“In the Holy Scriptures.  God is the Author of all Scripture (2 Tim. ).  The prophets did “write” at His command and what they wrote were the “Oracles” (very words) of God (Romans 3:2).  “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John ), every jot and title is from Him and is preserved for His people throughout all ages by Him (Matt. ).  Almighty God will have His counsel preserved for the faith and comfort of His people.  The Word of God is both written and absolute — settled in heaven before ever inscribed on earth.  All these versions and modern day translators who have doubts and cast doubts on the correct transmission of the Word of God to the latest day, are defective and false. It was as necessary for the Word of God to be preserved, as it was originally to promulgate it. The Word is justly called Holy Scripture.  These writings plainly show that they come from the hand of a Holy God.  Their doctrines are holy and they teach and influence men to deny ungodliness.  We should bless our Lord that in His providence He raised up men to translate the Bible in our mother tongue and we have in hand the inerrant, verbally inspired, pure word of God in the King James (Authorized) Version. This is a most serious issue.  It is fatal to tamper with God’s Holy Word.  Add nothing to it; take nothing from it — and if you do so it is at your own peril (Prov. 30:5; Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:19).

God gave us His original autographs without error.  The same God who managed to control the thoughts of these men, by the Holy Ghost, and gave them His words to write, is able, and did, control the men later who copied it.  Our God was careful (speaking after the manner of men) to see that His Scriptures were perfect and error-free, and He was just as careful to oversee in His providence that they would remain so to all generations (Psa. 12:6-7). Reading both Old and New Testaments, we find Christ as the center of each of them.  He is all and all.  Take Him from any book of Scripture and the remainder is of no value to poor lost sinners.  He has no names or titles, He fills no offices, sustains no characters and teaches no lessons that are not dear and of priceless value to His people.  He is our Lord, the absolute proprietor of the saints of God.

Verse 3 Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh. Yes, God is the Author of the Gospel and His eternal Son is the subject matter of it. CHRIST IS THE GOSPEL!  He is the great subject of the Gospel, and we cannot have right views of THE Gospel, without having correct views and heart-felt, revealed opinions of HIM.  God the Father said that he who honors, regards, reverences not His Son does not honor Him (John 5:23), and all religions that pretend to worship God in any other way is false, deceived, and damning its converts.  The God of the Bible said, “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little.  Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him” (Psa. ). Christ is the image of the invisible God, the express image of the Person of the Father; and the PRINCIPAL END OF THE WHOLE SCRIPTURE, especially of the Gospel, is to declare Him to be so. What God promised by His prophets in the Holy Scriptures concerning His Son, is fully declared in the Gospel.  The Gospel is the declaration of Christ as “the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. -24); as an evident representation of God in His Person and mediation unto us (Gal. 3:1).
Quoting Mr. Arthur W Pink:  “It is of first importance that we should be quite clear upon the nature of the Gospel: it is ‘the gospel of God concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.’  In the Gospel is made known the Saviour’s personal dignities: that He is the Lord of glory, the Prince of life, the King of kings, the Creator and Upholder of the universe.  In the Gospel is revealed His amazing condescension and humiliation: how that in obedience to the Father’s word He voluntarily and gladly took upon Him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of sin’s flesh, tabernacling for a season in this scene.  In the Gospel is exhibited His holy and unique life: performing the work which the Father had given Him to do. In the Gospel is displayed His official glories, as Prophet, Priest, and Potentate.  In it is held forth His grace unto sinners: dying the Just for the unjust.  In it is declared how that He magnified the Divine Law and made it honorable, superlatively glorifying the Father thereby.  In it we are informed how that God rewarded His incarnate Son by raising Him from the dead, and seating Him at His own right hand on high.  Our business, fellow preachers, is to proclaim that Gospel in its purity and fullness, that God may be glorified, and His Son magnified.”

Paul’s testimony, and that of all the children of God, is that Jesus Christ is Lord.  To all the saints in Rome Paul is saying that Jesus Christ is Lord, for every sinner brought to Christ is brought to acknowledge this before Christ is ever revealed as Saviour.  This Paul discovered by experience on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:5).  As Christ was Lord of his life He was the Lord whom Paul preached.  Paul never asked any of the saints at Rome to “make Jesus Lord,” or to surrender to the Lordship of Christ, for that man-made doctrine of receiving Christ as Saviour and later receiving Him as Lord, I say, such a doctrine is not known in all the Scripture. Only sinners who are brought by the Holy Ghost to “call upon the name of the LORD” (Rom. 10:9, 10, 13) are saved.  While “every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord” (Phil. 2:11), no natural man in the true sense of the term can say that Jesus is Lord; only regenerated souls can and do honestly say this, with their confession and manner of life, as we read that “no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (I Cor. 12:3). It is very important to know the Truth concerning the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Taken mainly from the Westminster Confession and partly from a few other sources, is as clear and brief a description of the complexity of His Person as is possible to convey in our imperfect vehicle of human language:  The Son of God, the second Person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance with and equal to the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon Him the nature of man (John 1:1,14; 1 John 5:20; Phil. 2:6; Gal. 4:4), consisting of a true human soul and body, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, such as weariness, death, grief, hunger, etc., yet without sin (Heb. 2:14-17; 4:15).  This body was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:27,31,35; Gal. 4:4); so that the two perfect and distinct natures, the Godhead and the Manhood, were inseparably joined together in one Person without conversion, composition or confusion (Luke 1:35; Col. 2:9; Rom. 9:5; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 Tim. 3:16), which Person is Very God and Very Man, yet one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Mediator and Saviour (Rom. 1:3-4; 1 Tim. 2:5).  One effect of this union of two natures in one Person is that what pertains to each nature is ascribed to the whole person.  The Lord Jesus is eternal (1 Tim. ), yet the Lord Jesus died (I Cor. 15:3); the Lord Jesus is divine (1 Cor. ; & Heb. 1:8), yet the Lord Jesus bled and suffered (Heb ). His Person must never be divided, and His nature must never be confounded.  Divinity cannot suffer, bleed and die; and Humanity is neither divine nor eternal (without beginning or end), but in Him as the God-Man all divine and human perfections meet (Col. 1:19; 2:3: John 1:16).

“Made of the seed of David according to the flesh.”  Christ was made, or born, of the house and lineage of David.  He is of David’s posterity, of that royal line, as to His human nature.  This was predicted in the Old Testament (Isa. 11:1; Jer. 23:5), and affirmed in the New Testament (Matt. ; John ; Acts ).  We offer the weighty words of the great puritan Dr. John Owen: “The eternal Word, the Son of God, was not made flesh, not made of a woman, nor of the seed of David, by the conversion of His substance or nature into flesh; which implies a contradiction — and, besides, is absolutely destructive of the divine nature.  He could not otherwise, therefore, be made flesh, or made of a woman, but in that our nature was made His, by His assuming of it to be His own.  The same Person — who before was not flesh, was not man — was made flesh as man, in that He took our human nature to be His own.” So the Godhead and Manhood were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very Man.  The two natures are perfectly distinct:  Man, to obey and suffer, for God could do neither; God, to give infinite worth to every act of obedience and all the endurance of suffering He rendered to the Father as the Surety of the covenant and the Mediator of the New Testament.  Our Lord was “made of the seed of David according to the flesh,” there is His humanity; “And declared to be the Son of God with power,” there is His Deity — both making up the one Person of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Verse 4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.  The GODHEAD of CHRIST is the chief corner-stone in the edifice of Christianity.  Numerous passages in the Scripture declare that Christ is the Son of God and decidedly prove His Godhead.  We point out just a few.  The angel’s salutation to the Virgin Mary (Luke ); the voice from heaven, both at His baptism, and again at His transfiguration (Matt. ; 18:5; & Luke ; Mark 9). Even demons could not refrain from acknowledging that He was the Son of God, and that gives overpowering evidence when even they assent to His GODHEAD; Peter’s confession in Matt. 16 after receiving an inward revelation of Christ by the Holy Ghost; the glory that He had with God the Father in eternity past, before the world began (John 17:5); and His resurrection.  Had Christ’s resurrection been solely the effect of the Father, or the Holy Ghost’s operation, the resurrection of Christ in this sense would not have declared Him to be the Son of God with power, no more than the resurrection of others.  But when it is said, as in this Scripture, that He was declared to be the Son of God with power “by His resurrection from the dead,” this act of God proved His eternal power and Godhead. It was the eternal Son of God, the image of God invisible, who became incarnate.  It was He who could say “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me?” (John 14:10).  Here the invisible God is “seen,” not sensorily but intellectually, in the incarnate Son of God.  The Scriptures everywhere powerfully declare the eternal generation, the eternal Sonship of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“According to the Spirit of holiness.”  This eternal Son who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh is also declared to be the Son of God according to the spirit of holiness, the highest holiness the universe affords — God in His holiness — takes not the nature of angels, but assumes the likeness of sinful flesh.  Christ was originally Spirit — and as Spirit He was marked out from other spirits by the attribute of Holiness, the crowning attribute of God. Christ in His Divine nature is revealed as the Spirit of Holiness, that is, “God over all blessed forevermore” (Rom. 9:5).  The Gospel is the Glory of Christ as Messiah and as God.  The Gospel concerns the wonder of a Sacrifice that constrains sinners to be servants of the Lord of love. (On the Gospel, see verse 16 of this chapter). In 1 Tim , “justified by the Spirit,” He was shown to be just, and His claims were all sustained by the manifestations of His Divine nature, i.e., of His divine power and authority.  Heb. proclaims: “who with the eternal Spirit” offered Himself unto God.  The Scriptures everywhere consider the resurrection of our Lord itself as evidence of His Sonship. It was by His resurrection that He was proved to be the Son of God.  He fundamentally, dramatically, and powerfully declared thereby that “I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John ).

“By the resurrection from the dead.”  In that quote from John 10:18 (above) Christ had declared that not only was His death voluntary, but that His resurrection should be the result of His own immediate power.  Our Lord said to the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.  But He spake of the temple of His body. When, therefore, He was risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this unto them” (John ).  The climax of the Gospel is what Christ is in His own nature.  The resurrection declares the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name.  “By whom” speaks of Christ the Mediator, as the Author and Giver of both this grace and apostleship.  It was through Him and from Him (Rom. ; 1 Cor. 1:9).  Grace is the favor that God bestows upon His people.  Paul is saying that he was regenerated, called, and converted, and also called to the apostleship, not for any desert of his, but by the free grace, good-will, undeserved kindness, un-bought love and compassion to him as a miserable sinner. Our Lord showed grace to the guilty and favor to the undeserving. (On grace see Romans 3:24.)

“For obedience to the faith.”  A saving faith, the work of God in the soul, is one which heeds the Divine commandments as well as relies upon the Divine promises.  Christ is the “Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him” (Heb. 5:9).  Faith and obedience can no more be severed than the sun and light and heat.  Therefore we read here of “the obedience of faith.” Obedience is the daughter of faith.  True faith “worketh by love” (Gal. 5:6).  As Thomas Manton said, “It fills the soul with apprehensions of God’s love, and then makes use of the sweetness of love to urge us to more work or obedience.”  Only he who truly believes is obedient; only he who is obedient truly believes. (Faith is dealt with under verse 17). The true child of God mourns that his obedience is so imperfect and faulty, although sincerely desiring that perfection (see Paul in Romans -25).  “There is not any thing that is good in us, nothing that is well done by us, in the way of obedience, but the Scripture expressly and frequently assigns it unto the immediate operations of the Holy Spirit in us.  It doth so in general as to all gracious actings whatever, and not content therewith, it proposeth every grace, and every holy duty, distinctly affirming the Holy Ghost to be the immediate Author of them” (Puritan John Owen).  Our Lord Jesus said, “If ye love Me, keep my commandments” (John ).  Apostles John and Paul both define love as obedience to His Holy Law. We owe to His commands the same obedience that we owe to Him for our Lord made so plain in His statement in John 14:23, “If a man love Me, he will keep my words.”  Professing to be a Christian, professing obedience, is meaningless unless we actually obey His commands. Gratuitous remission of sin is not a thing apart, but is ever accompanied by those sanctifying operations of the blessed Holy Ghost which cause the pardoned sinner to express his gratitude by subjection to God’s revealed will.  Where Christ is truly known as Lord and Saviour, His authority is gladly owned; if He be loved, there will be no question about obedience.

“Among all nations.”  The Gospel is preached for the obedience among all nations (Rom. ) on behalf of His Name.  It calls upon all men everywhere to submit (bow down) in loyal obedience to Christ as sovereign Lord and King.  This is the main purpose of preaching the Gospel. True, the eternal salvation of those (His elect) who render to Him the obedience of faith is assured; but that is secondary.  For God’s highest purpose is the glory of His Son (John -23; Phil. 2:8-9).  It is for His own glory chiefly that He is become “the Author of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him” (Heb. 5:8), that is to say, to those, and those only, who willingly own Him as “LORD” and render to Him the obedience of loyal and loving hearts.  The supreme purpose in this dispensation is to establish the rule of the Lord Jesus Christ in the hearts of those the Father gave Him before the world was (John 17:2).

“For His Name.”  It is not the advantage of the nations that is paramount in the promotion of the Gospel but the honour and glory of Christ.  It is for the purpose of Magnifying His Holy Name (2 Thes. ).

Verse 6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ.  The Greek word translated called, or calling, is never in the epistles applied to one who is merely invited by a call in the physical ear.  In fact, it is used 11 times in the New Testament, and in each instance it signifies the effectual call of the Holy Spirit, with the exception of 1 Cor. 7:20, where it is used to denote a business or trade; (see Rom. 11:29; 1 Cor. 1:26, etc.) but there is a call to the physical ear which comes short of this calling, and this subject is so vital, we with God’s enabling will deal with it in more detail. The outward ministry of the Word which all who are brought within the reach of the Gospel hear with the physical ear, is not the voice of Christ or the call that is effectual in bringing sinners to Christ, and unaccompanied with saving, quickening power, becomes “a savour of death unto death” (2 Cor. 2:16).  Such hearers are the stony-ground hearers, the thorny-ground hearers, and the wayside hearers of Matthew 13.  This physical acceptance and response to a preacher’s invitation is a delusion that multitudes trust to their own peril. The inward, effectual, saving call is the effect of the Word of the Lord Christ: “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John ). This is applied by the Holy Ghost to the heart of man (1 Peter 2:9; ; Rom. -30).  This is the beginning of the work of grace in an elect vessel of mercy.  It results in a spiritual conviction of sin, and a genuine conversion to God.  There is the absolute necessity for such a call because by nature man is “blind” and “dead in trespasses and sins” (1 Cor. ; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:1). 

But natural convictions are often mistaken for the work of the Holy Ghost.  Men may assent to the great truths of the Gospel, from the mere conviction of the understanding, without being at all interested in them as so many principles of conduct; and this, as is daily manifested in the world, is the case of untold millions; but this is absolutely a distinct thing from the operation of the voice of the Lord Jesus in the heart. His sheep hear His voice; “and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out; they know his voice and follow him” (John 10:3-4).  This very evidently demonstrates that there is somewhat more implied than the mere outward ministry of the Word — and that an inward powerful effect accompanies it.  They are His sheep which hear His voice; them He calls by name; speaking directly to their minds and consciences by a personal application; as in the case of Paul on the road to Damascus, when “they that were journeying with him saw indeed the light and were afraid, but heard not the voice of Him that spake.”  They knew His voice by its effect.  “I shall never forget Thy word,” says David.  And why? Because “by it Thou hast quickened me” (Psa. 119). And hence the apostle Paul could tell the Thessalonians that their election of God was known because “our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance” (1 Thes. 1:5).  Oh, my reader, may you earnestly and diligently inquire after the evidence of these things. Be sure that you have not yet heard His voice in a powerful, saving way, unless His voice which in creation first commanded the light to shine out of darkness has shined in your heart “to give you the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6).  Beg of God for this effectual gift, and say with the true saints of God, “Thou that dwelleth in the gardens, the companions hearken to Thy voice: cause me to hear it” (Song of Sol. ).

We finish this verse with a quote from Hassell’s Church History:  “This call is effectual to bring the subjects of it to a piercing sense of their guilt and impurity.  The mind is deeply convicted that the fountain is in the very heart or nature, from which all its criminal actions have sprung.  The soul is affected with a view of its sinfulness and the malignity of sin in its nature, as entirely opposed to the holy law of God; hence arises an abhorrence of sin, as vile and odious, and a sense of its demerit as deserving eternal death.  This call produces a consciousness of the absolute impossibility of our contributing in the least towards a recovery from this wretched condition, and destroys all confidence of help in the flesh.  It is a call to Christ, and gives a view of Him in His suitableness and ability as a Saviour:  the merit of His obedience and sacrifice, and the treasures of His grace are all brought into view, which creates desire of an interest in Him, and resolutions of looking unto and relying wholly upon Him for salvation; at the same time cordially acknowledging desert of rejection from Him, and yet strengthened to rely entirely upon Him and surrender all unto the disposal of Christ: setting to our seal that God is true; believing the record that He has given of His Son, which is eternal life, and that this life is in His Son.  The changes produced are from darkness to light, from bondage to liberty, from alienation and estrangedness to Christ, to a state of nearness and fellowship with Him and His saints.  This is a holy calling, and is effectual to produce the exercise of holiness in the heart, even as the saints are created in Christ Jesus unto good works — God having called us, not to uncleanness, but to holiness, yea, even to glory and virtue, and to live holily, righteously and godly in this present evil world.” (end of quote).

Verse 7  To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you, and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.  There was no one large central church at Rome. They had not the common, typical meeting place, but there were several churches (bodies of born-from-above saints) meeting in private homes.  We gather from the epistle that there were at least three, particularly the one in the house of Aquilla and Priscilla.  Hence this letter is not addressed to the church at Rome, but to all the faithful, the saints of God at Rome.

“Beloved of God.”  This epistle was sent to the “beloved of God” by the apostle as his heart was immediately drawn out in thanksgiving that some of God’s elect were to be found in this city.  The children of God receive ill will and ill treatment from the hands of sinful men but they are beloved of God.  God loved all His people with compassion and good will even when they were His enemies by wicked works.  It is the greatest love that God can show to His elect, being everlasting love, which originated with Him and was manifested in their effectual calling: “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee” (Jer. 31:3).  The apostle, as the vessel of the Holy Ghost, speaks to them and of them as truly gracious persons, so blessed by God’s distinguishing and effectual call.

“Called to be saints.”  In the Bible the use of the word “saint” is not a person of unique or superior sanctity, but a humble believer in the sinner’s Saviour.  The root meaning of the word is “separated” — separated unto God out of a world of sin and shame.  “Saints” is the common designation for the true people of God, throughout the Scripture, for this is what they are — sanctified ones, rescued from sin and condemnation, born again of the Spirit, washed from their sins in the all-atoning blood of the Lamb of God.  Far from sinless in themselves, but accepted in the perfect righteousness of the only Sinless One, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of His chosen out of the world. The Scripture designates as saints all who are in covenant relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ our Lord: “Gather my saints together unto Me, those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice” (Psa. 50:5). From the moment of his new birth every child of God is a “saint in Christ Jesus.”

The fundamental error of all false religions and unsaved religious professors is that men become saints by their own individual holy actions.  This belief system gives cover (they think) to the worldly loving professors, plus, it places that work of God in the soul (for only God can make a saint) in the hands of free will and human activity.  No, and a thousand times no!  The tree must be good before it brings forth good fruit (Matt. -18).  Only as God creates within the sinner a sanctified nature can there be sanctified conduct.  The word saint refers to each and every child of God, every Christian; and this is how Paul uses it. Both the religious world (without Christ) and the ungodly world employ the term saints as a term of reproach, for they think that the saints imagine themselves holier than other men.  This is error of the highest degree; the saints do not consider themselves holier than others, neither are they preeminently holy. No, the saints of God are men and women of like passions with other men and women, subject to the same infirmities, the same temptations, the same tempers, the same nature as others.  You will not find a single saint on the earth but who is ready to say with Paul, “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. ).  Saints are real Christians, all the called of Jesus Christ.

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  By the word “grace” is understood the original or foundation of all of God’s benefits towards us, and by the word “peace,” the fruits and sense thereof.  Paul uses endearing terms and sends to the “beloved of God” the best wishes respecting both their souls and bodies.  All their benefits were from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Quoting from Henry T. Mahan, “The apostle addresses all the believers in Rome without any distinction, except to say that they are ‘beloved of God’ and ‘called to be saints.’  The Lord, through His own kindness, made us objects of His love (I John ) and by His Spirit called us by the Gospel to the obedience of faith. Then comes the apostle’s usual salutation.  He prays for an increase of grace, for every grace is imperfect and those who have the most stand in need of more (2 Peter 3:18).  By peace is meant peace with God through Christ, peace in our own hearts and peace among believers and with all men.  The Father is the Giver and Christ is the Foundation of all blessings in this life and throughout eternity!”  RCLVC

Worthy Doctrinal and Spiritual Notes and Quotes on Romans 1:1-7

Verse 1. The Bible is not primarily about man at all.  Its subject is God, the Trinity.  Its main theme is not human salvation, but the work of God vindicating His purposes and glorifying Himself in a sinful and disordered cosmos.  He does this by establishing His kingdom and exalting His Son, by creating a people to worship and serve Him, and ultimately dismantling and reassembling this order of things, thereby rooting sin out of His world.  It is into this larger perspective that the Bible fits God’s work of saving sinners.  — James I. Packer (b. 1926).

In Romans the Gospel is expounded (see 1:1, 9, 16) in a more formal and systematic form than anywhere else in the Word. — Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952).

Our real freedom from sin and the bondage to sin is found in our enslavement, body and soul, to Jesus Christ the Lord of all. — Spiros Zodhiates (1922-2009).

In the Bible, hired servant means one paid by the day, while servant means a slave. — John Gadsby (1808-1893).

An apostle, was not only one who received his authority immediately from Christ; but the very name an office implied, in the one executing it, one that was a witness of Christ's resurrection (Acts 1:21-22) .  .  .  Now Paul was qualified to be an Apostle, having seen, and heard Christ, from heaven, (Acts 9:4: I Cor. 9:1; I Cor. 15:8); and his ordination also, was by the Holy Ghost (see Acts 13:1-4) and he was separated, or set apart, by God the Father, from the womb for that purpose (see Gal. 1:15; Jer. 1:4-5; Luke 1:15-17). — Robert Hawker (1753-1827).

“Separated unto the Gospel.”  He calls it “my gospel” (Rom. ; ), “The gospel of God” (Rom. ; 2 Cor. 11:7; I Thes. 2:2; etc.). Recounting his salvation, when God had called him unto salvation and to be an apostle, Paul says, “Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood; Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me” (Gal. 1:16-17). God that cannot lie promised this Gospel before the world began (Tit. 1:2), and He manifested it to Paul directly by His sovereign grace and mercy.  Paul was not about to claim any credit for his salvation, nor yet again for his knowledge of the truth; he knew the God who called him, “who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen” (Gal. 1:15-16) … Having been appointed to be a “SERVANT,” Paul can do nothing less than be humbled before God and separated unto God's truth.  Separation unto God alone is essential to the service of God — and it is that separation unto the LORDSHIP of King Jesus that brings salvation. — Wylie W. Fulton (b. 1939).

The True Gospel.  There are four principles in the Gospel of Christ, all of which are missing is the popular gospel of our day: (1) God is holy.  He is absolutely holy.  He cannot look on the least sin with the least degree of allowance, but is a consuming fire toward all sin.  He demands not only in His law that we not do this and not do that, but He demands also that we be good people.  How good?  So good that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and strength and that we love our neighbor as ourself.  And He demands that we do these things from the heart, that we have heart-holiness. And God is immutable in His demand of these things.  He can never accept anything less than perfect holiness.  (2) We are undone in sin.  Our best work is but sin.  We have nothing on which we can rely, as we face our day in court. (3) We must stand before God in the substitutionary work of Christ.  All other ground is sinking sand.  In my hand no price I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.  Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee. (4) And we must come into a vital union with Him who lived and died in our place. .  .  . None of these things are being preached in the false gospel of our time.  And all four of these things must be insisted upon by you and me, brethren, or we too are preaching a false gospel. — E.W. Johnson (1914-2001).             

Verse 2.  Let the Scriptures be my pure delight; let me not be deceived or deceive others. — St Augustine of Hippo (354-430).

Our wisdom should consist in embracing without exception all that is in the sacred Scriptures. — John Calvin (1509-1564).

How then, can we account for the survival of the Bible in the face of such bitter persecution?  The only solution is to be found in the promises of God, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away” … But two thousand five hundred years ago God declared, “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the Word of our God shall abide for ever.” — Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952).

No one can get the slightest taste of right doctrine unless he is a pupil of Scripture. — John Calvin (1509-1564).

There is no such thing as verbal Revelation without verbal Inspiration and there is no such thing as verbal Inspiration without verbal Preservation.  In all cases it is not partial but plenary i.e. full, complete, perfect ... The verbal Inspiration of the Scriptures demands the verbal Preservation of the Scriptures ... not only was the Scripture inspired when it was written but that this word is now in our possession ... and holding the sacred text in our hand ... we can explain with gratitude, I now hold in my hands the Eternal Word of God (quoting Professor Gaussen on the King James Version). — Ian  R. K. Paisley (b. 1926).

Verse 3.  The Person of the eternal Son of God suffered and died in the human nature.  This is the wonder of the passion of Jesus Christ. This is also the reason why that suffering is of infinite worth and value. — Jay Green.

As bread to the hungry, as water to the thirsty, as sight to the blind, and liberty to the imprisoned, so — and a thousand times more — is Jesus Christ to the wounded and to them that are broken-hearted. — John Bunyan (1628-1688).

All doctrine, all experience, all precept are seen then to centre, as one grand harmonious whole, in the glorious Person of the Son of God.  From Him they all come; to Him they all flow.  Severed from Him, doctrine is seen to be but a withered branch, experience but a delusive dream, precept but a legal service. But His light enlightening, His life quickening, His power attending His word of His grace, doctrine is seen to be no longer dry and dead, but glorious truth; experience to be not a mere matter of fluctuating feeling, but a blessed reality, as the very kingdom of God set up with divine power in the heart: and obedience not legal duty but a high, holy, and acceptable service. — Joseph C. Philpot (1802-1869).

The God-Man was not a representative of God, He was God.  And His express image was not God's nature, but He shared the exact essence of the Godhead with God the Father and God the Spirit, all three Persons having the same essence, together being one God. — From Best Books in Print, Jay Green, editor.

When you are truly born again the glory of Christ will flood your soul.  There will be no doubt in your mind about His deity and Sonship.  When I hear a man begin to talk about Jesus Christ as simply a human teacher, a moral leader on a level with other men, denying His deity, His virgin birth, and His resurrection, I know that man has never been born again. “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  There is within the heart of the real child of God a joy unspeakable and a desire to exalt and crown Christ Lord of all.  Social gospel sermonettes about morality which leave out the cross and the blood atonement for sin make my heart sick. — Charles E. Fuller (1887-1968).

Exposition of the second Psalm will clearly teach us that Jesus Christ by appointment of God is King over all nations and peoples, both yesterday, today and forever.  —  William Symington (1795-1862).

Verse 4.  Why must Christ rise again and enter into glory? — to assure us God is satisfied for our sins! — George Whitefield (1714-1770).

 Of this most precious subject of Thy Lord's resurrection, Jesus effected it by His own power and Godhead.  He had proclaimed Himself to be the resurrection and life: and here He proved it. . . “Christ was put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (I Peter ).  The flesh here means His human nature; and the quickening by the Spirit (being what is called the antithesis, that is, the opposite of flesh) means His own Spirit; His own power and Godhead. Behold in it, that it was the Godhead of Jesus by which thy Jesus triumphed over death and the grave. — Robert Hawker (1753-1827).

Of all the wondrous works which God did for Christ--- in the miracle of His incarnation , in preserving Him as an infant from the malice of Herod, in anointing Him with the Holy Spirit--- this bringing Him forth from the tomb is singled out for the particular mention.  Christ had presented Himself . . . as the Messiah. . . Had His claims been false, the grave would have retained Him; by raising Him from the dead by His power, God set His seal upon all Christ's teaching and demonstrated that He was indeed “the Son of God.” — Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952).

When the Scriptures declare that He is risen, it denotes the resurrection as an act of His own, of the divine Son, who by and through His resurrection is powerfully set forth as the Son of God, the resurrection and the life.  However when the Bible teaches us that Christ is raised, it considers the resurrection of our Lord as an act of God (of Father, Holy Ghost and the Son, being three Persons in one God) with respect to Christ in His human nature. — Herman Hoeksema (1886-1965).

The New Testament preaches a Christ who was dead and is alive, not a Christ who was alive and is dead. — James Denney.

The resurrection of Christ is the Amen of all His promises. — John Boys, Puritan.

As Christ's resurrection was the grand proof of His divine Sonship, so the new birth is the first open manifestation of our adoption.  As Christ's resurrection was the first step into His glory and exaltation, so regeneration is the first stage of our entrance into all spiritual blessings. — Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952).

Verse 5.  Our freedom in Christ is NOT to do as we please, but we have freedom to do as HE pleases. —Jay Green.

Where there is true faith there will be obedience and the fear of God. — Joseph Hart (1712-1768).

To “serve the Lord Christ” is not to do something for Him, as present day religion seems to think, but it is to render something unto Him.  It is to own His absolute authority, to dedicate one’s self wholly to Him, to do as our Lord and Master bids us, seek only to please Him and promote His interests (Acts 9:6).  Foolish religious professors think that authority is incompatible with man's freedom  but the saints of God know by experience that true freedom comes from being under the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, our Saviour, and our God.  To truly serve Christ is to love Him, to give Him the supreme place in our hearts and lives, to devote all our powers and strength unto the doing of what He requires and abstain from all He prohibits.  Love to Christ is to be expressed in obedience to Him: “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.”  Christian service, then, is the response made by a regenerate soul to the Lordship of Christ, the voluntary and hearty subjecting of oneself to His dominion, the carrying out of His revealed will.  It consists of obedience unto our Triune god, in full and entire obedience in every area of life, acknowledging Him “in all our way” (Prov. 3:6).  We must diligently search the Scriptures for leadership in discovering those things that are pleasing or displeasing to Him.  Only by His enabling grace can we perform that service that brings glory to His name. — Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952).

The grace of God does not find men fit for salvation, but makes them so. — St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430).

True religion is not a flurry of activity called “church work,” but is a resting of the soul in His great work of redemption at Calvary.  — Wylie W. Fulton (b. 1939).

To be conquerors, we must ourselves be completely conquered by Christ. — J. Stuart Holden.

You cannot learn from the world to serve Christ, but ask Him the way. — Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661).

No obedience but hearty obedience is acceptable to Christ.  — Thomas Brooks (1608-1680).

True religion is not found in reading and mastering the right set of books, but in seeking humbly to know and obey the Book of God (John 5:39 & I Thes. 2:13). — Wylie W. Fulton (b. 1939)

Verse 6.  It may be asked, “Then how does this wondrous life come about?”  Erskine tells us truly.  He says “God speaking can make us both hear and live, though we be as dead as stocks and stones.  He spoke the old creation out of nothing, and He can speak the new creation out of us, who are worse than nothing.”  Ah! that is it!  I have felt it, and know it to be true; therefore, with gratitude of heart, I declare it. — Ralph Erskine (1685-1752).

Salvation comes to every one who is made (by God's active grace) a partaker of it --- but the sinner does not go up and get salvation by his own efforts.  His partaking of God's salvation awaits the Spirit's quickening and effectually calling him thereto (John ). — Wylie W. Fulton (b. 1939).

Now, nothing is clearer in the Scriptures of truth than this, that effectual calling is the proof of election (2 Pet. ).  If we are called, it is “according to His purpose” (Rom. ). — Edward Carr (b. 1851).

Christ died for an elect people, and He effects their salvation by giving them new life, then a new heart, then working in them both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Ezek. 16:6; 39:26; John 6:63; Acts 13:48; Rom. 8:28-30); 9:22-23; Eph. 1:4-11; 2:5-10; Phil. 2:13). — Jay Green.

The moment Saul (Apostle Paul) heard the voice of the Son of God he lived (John 5:25); from his death in trespasses and sins he was quickened by the Holy spirit into spiritual life (Eph 2:1; John 6:63); he was a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17); his stony heart was replaced by a fleshly heart (Ezek. 36:26-27), his carnal mindedness by spiritual mindedness (Rom. 8:6); and every thought was brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).  In an instant and forever Saul (Paul) was converted to God (John 17:3).  From that moment obedience to Christ became the ruling principle of Paul's life.  This is the experience of all the children of God. — Hassell's Church History.

Verse 7.  That expression “called to be saints” (Rom. 1:7 and I Cor 1:2 and elsewhere), implies that God made the distinction. — Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758).

The Lord loses none that are dear to Him, and all are dear who are in Him. — St Augustine of Hippo (354-430).

I will tell you what saints are called upon to do. First, they are called upon to witness for the Lord.  Second, they are not only called upon to witness for God by the enunciation of the truth, but in their lives, their walk, and conduct. — William Parks (1809-1867).

The way to preserve peace in the church is to preserve its purity. — Matthew Henry (1662-1714).

God saves without preaching, but not without truth. — E. W. Johnson (1914-2001)

Is saving grace GOLD?  Yes, infinitely more precious than mere gold! — John Flavel (1630-1691).

To bow before the sovereign will of God is one of the great secrets of peace. — Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952).

Our peace does not depend on any change of circumstances which may seem desirable, but in having our will bowed to the Lord's will, and in being made willing to submit all to His disposal and management. — From the 1886 volume of Gospel Magazine.

If all the apostolic prayers be read attentively, it will be found that in none of them is any place given to that which occupies such prominence in those of Arminians.  Not once do we find God asked to save the world or pour out His Spirit on all flesh.  The apostles did not so much as pray for the conversion of the city in which a particular Christian church was located.  In this they conformed again to the example set them by Christ.  “I pray not for the world,” said He. “but for them which Thou hast given Me” (John 17:9).  Should it be objected that the Lord Jesus was there praying only for His immediate apostles or disciples, the answer is that when He extended His prayer beyond them, it was not for the world, but only for His believing people unto the end of time (see vs. 20-21)
True, the apostle exhorts that prayers “be made for all {classes of} men; For kings, and for all that are in authority” (1 Tim. 2:1-2) --- in which duty many are woefully remiss --- yet it is not for their salvation but “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” — Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952).

From God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ — Nothing speaks more decisively for the divinity of Christ than these juxtapositions of Christ with the eternal God, which run through the whole language of Scripture, and the derivation of purely divine influences from Him also.  The name of no man can be placed by the side of the Almighty.  He only, in whom the Word of the Father, who is Himself God become flesh, may be named beside Him; for men are commanded to “honour Him even as they honour the Father” (John 5:23). — Hermann Olshausen (1796-1839).