In the opening verses of the first chapter, called the salutation, Paul the Apostle lays out his credentials that establishes his identity and authority to the reader of this epistle. At this point it is important to maintain a comprehensive perspective by broadening the scope of the intended audience from the immediate (Romans that were contemporary to Paul) to the divine that encompasses believers of all ages under the New Covenant. This was facilitated in God’s sovereign plan by the instantiation of this epistle into the canon of the New Testament. That contemporizes the message in Romans to readers throughout this age. Thus we are able to enjoy its edifying riches today. Paul is our apostle and Romans is addressed to us as well. That is the sense the believing reader should have as he or she progresses through this book. Thus God has extended the Apostolic doctrinal authority, as commissioned by Christ, throughout the Church Age. This contemporizes the message in Romans to readers in all periods of post-advent history. The Holy Spirit will make it fresh to each individual reader who approaches the scriptures in faith.
Verse 1, 2: “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures” Here Paul begins his salutation with the humble ascription of a servant of Christ (Gals 1:10) to set himself in the proper perspective to the reader. This places him in a servile position with God of a low degree. He is God’s servant and none other than God is his master (Roms 14:4; 2 Tim 2:24). Paul then identifies his appointment to the ministry–called to be an apostle. This calling came directly from God beginning with the Damascus Road experience (Acts 9:15f, Gals 1:1,15). The appointment to apostleship placed him in league with the other twelve apostles who were commissioned by the Lord during His ministry on earth. But Paul received direct, albeit personal, communication and teaching from the ascended Lord Jesus, which is unique to him. However, in complete contrast, he was the only apostle recruited by the Lord from the the Pharisees who were in opposition to Him to the point of being responsible for having the Lord Jesus put to death by crucifixion. Paul himself was so zealous that he instigated intense persecution against Christians before his own conversion. So in these ways Paul stands apart from the other apostles, which will be touched on more later on.
Stay tuned for the next installment in this series.