Romans 1: 1-7 (NRSV)
1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures,
3 the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh
4 and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,
5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name,
6 including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
7 To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul’s salutation to the Romans is very similar to many other letters. Paul first identifies who he is, that he serves the Lord with joy and personal commitment. He also defends his authority to teach and that he was called to be an apostle and set apart to preach the Gospel. The Roman church, the Jewish believers probably remember turmoil that a man called Saul committed against the church in Jerusalem. Paul let them know that God took him off that path and set him on this new mission of life, a mission he felt obligated to pursue.
Then Paul describes what his mission was, and that is the gospel, through the prophets in the Scriptures concerning Jesus, the descendant of David by the flesh. And yet Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power over the resurrection of the dead by the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ the Lord. This is Paul’s mission to spread the good news. The beginning of Paul’s letter appeals to the Jewish believers.
In verse 5 Paul begins to make a path between the wounded pride of the Roman church and himself. Paul tells them that through Jesus, we have received grace and apostleship, meaning that the Jewish church shares a common mission of apostleship. And together they have received grace, the opportunity of sharing the gospel message to others, mainly the Gentiles. Paul suggest a common mission with the Jewish church, to bring about the obedience of faith to the Gentiles for Jesus sake.
Paul says to the Jewish church that he is writing to glorify the grace of God to them. In this salutation Paul knows that he needs to repair damage and he needs to win them over. Paul begins to appeal to their pride, at least for the moment, and he appeals to their sense of superiority as Jewish believers. Paul is carefully bring them to his side by describing to them as sharing in his mission. Paul plays to their pride, their feeling of superiority that they are above the rest of the church.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world.
9 For God, whom I serve with my spirit by announcing the gospel of his Son, is my witness that without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers,
10 asking that by God’s will I may somehow at last succeed in coming to you.
11 For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—
12 or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
13 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as I have among the rest of the Gentiles.
14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish
15 — hence my eagerness to proclaim the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Paul continues the charm in verse 8, though his words are completely sincere and honest. Paul thanks the Lord for this church, because their faith is well known through out the Empire. The Jewish church was rich, it was wise and very knowledgeable group of believers, it was a large group and they were still growing; and yet they weren’t known for their money, knowledge or size. This church was known for there faith, their strong belief in the gospel. Paul let them know that he holds them up as an example to the other churches. That Paul thinks highly of them and their work for the sake of the gospel.
Paul says his prayers are to be able to grace them with his presence and offer a spiritual gift. This does not mean he’s giving gifts, but rather a spiritual benefit or gift to the church that they would be a source of help to him in establishing and maintaining other churches. Paul continues to place his ministry on equal terms with the Roman church. Paul in verse 13 saying, I really want you to know that I want to come bear spiritual fruit with you – even as I have within the Gentile church, but he has been prevented from coming. And what or whom would prevent Paul from coming to them? It’s been hinted at or pointed to the Holy Spirit, and why would God prevent Paul from going to the Roman church? Paul does say he has a commitment to Greek and barbarians, to the wise and foolish. Paul tells them he is under authority by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel to these people rather than them, the Roman church. Paul defends his absence by saying he wasn’t ashamed of the gospel and that he’s to bring the gospel to everyone, even the learned Jewish believers. The words of the gospel hold the power to save men. Unless we deliver the gospel of Christ, we do not bring the power of God to save. Paul says the message must go to the Jews first then the Gentiles.