Romans 1:1-7


Verses 1-7, in Greek, form what the Greeks called a Period, an artistic complete thought. It is not a sentence in our sense of the word. KJV, NKJV, RSV, NASB made verses 1-7 one sentence. NIV and AAT make it four sentences; JB five, and TEV and NEB six.

Verses 1-7 follow a common ancient letter form:

  1. The sender, verse 1;

  2. The recipients, verse 7;

  3. The greetings, verse 7.

In this instance, the first item, the sender, is greatly expanded, verses 1-6. The simplest form of the greetings amounts to the following: "Paul, to all the beloved of God in Rome, grace to you and peace."

Though item 1 above is greatly expanded, actually only verse 1 speaks of Paul. Verses 2-6 are almost entirely devoted to the Gospel and Jesus Christ. Note that the phrase "Jesus Christ" occurs three times, verses 1, 4, and 7. In the first instance the phrase is applied to Paul, in the second of Jesus with reference to the states of humiliation and exaltation, and in the third with reference to Jesus' equality with the Father and the gifts which both bring. Therefore, though Paul is the first person mentioned and is the sender of the letter, verses 1-7 are almost entirely about the person, states, and works of Jesus.

Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God --

First we have the proper noun "Paul." This is qualified by two appositional nouns: "Servant" and "apostle." The first denotes his humble relation to God and the second the exalted office which God bestowed on him.

Arndt: Paul calls himself 'slave of Jesus Christ,' denoting his absolute submission to Christ, his belonging to the Savior, and his personal insignificance and unworthiness. But in spite of his personal unworthiness, he has the distinction of being an apostle, a special ambassador. He obtained that position not through his own choice or effort, but was called to it by Christ Himself. False modesty does not keep him from mentioning his high station.

"Of Christ Jesus" is a possessive genitive. Here we think of Luther's words in the explanation to the second article: "That I may be His own and serve Him, etc."

"Called" when applied to what God does for the sinner, does not merely mean by what name the person will be called but also what God does for that person.

Bengel: When Christ calls a person, He makes him what He calls him and He does that immediately. Look at Acts 9:3 and 15.

That is correct. Read Galatians 1:15-17.

The revelation to Paul was so complete that he did not need go to Jerusalem to consult with the other Apostles.

Stoeckhardt: As was the case with the Twelve, Paul was immediately called by the Lord, not through human agency, Acts 9:1ff and Galatians 1:1-12. On two separate occasions, at his conversion and as he prayed in the temple, Paul received the special commission of apostle to the Gentiles. Acts 22:21; 26:17. . . . He lacked none of the prerogatives of the apostleship, the eyewitness and the earwitness. Paul saw the resurrected Lord with his eyes, 1 Corinthians 15:8, and received direct instruction from Him concerning the things he should teach. 1 Corinthians 11:23; 15:3

Paul was "set apart" two times. One long before his conversion, Galatians 1:15 and one at his call in Acts 13:2.

Romans 1:2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures

The promise was not merely a promise of the Gospel, but the Gospel itself.

Franzmann: God's Gospel is the culmination of His revelation, the fulfillment of His promises; therefore Paul cherishes, together with Jesus and all men of the New Testament, the ancient Old Testament writings as Holy Scripture, God's own Word.
Stoeckhardt: Paul often referred to the fact that his teaching coincided with the testimony of the prophets. Look at Acts 13:32-33; 26:22.
Old Concordia Bible with Notes: Paul is careful to show at the outset that the Gospel is no new religion, but the fulfillment of the promises made in the Old Testament to the fathers.
Lenski: Place the emphasis where Paul has it, on the phrase 'he promised in advance.' . . . It is God who did this promising, the prophets were only his media.

Romans 1:3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David,

Some other translations: "Is it about His Son." "The sum of the Gospel is concerning the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord." "All Scripture points to Christ." "Concerning His Son, not in the general sense but concerning His incarnate Son, as the following words indicate." "God's Gospel deals with God's Son, does so from beginning to end." We agree with all these remarks.

The words "His Son" clearly denote the eternal divinity of Jesus. The verse and the next clearly denote Jesus' incarnation, compare Galatians 4:4, and His exaltation, beginning with His resurrection. The verses clearly tell of His human nature and of His divine nature, and say that He was and is the God-man ever since His conception. Notice the beautiful symmetry between verses 3 and 4.

Arndt: The human nature of Christ is referred to. 'Human nature' is used here in the same sense as John 1:14. We might translate the expression 'as far as His is a human being.' We hold that the verse is proof that the mother of Jesus was descended from David. Compare 2 Timothy 2:8.
Stoeckhardt: His first attribute: He took the human nature into the unity of His person. For this new existence the flesh was the important factor. . . . He had all the peculiarities of the human nature, also its weaknesses and infirmities.
Lenski: Paul is sketching the two states of Jesus, and these insofar as they form the very heart of the Gospel promise in its fulfillment. . . He lived as a man of flesh, bore the weakness and the sufferings of flesh. Romans 8:3. . . How could Jesus be 'from David's seed' if Mary was not of Davidic descent? . . . How one can believe the Virgin birth and yet deny Mary's Davidic descent passes our comprehension.

Romans 1:4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus was the Son of God before His was born. This verse informs us that the incarnate Christ was declared, designated, shown, proclaimed to be the powerful Son of God, in keeping with His divine nature, by rising from the dead.

Bengel: Before the resurrection, the Spirit was concealed un the flesh; after the resurrection the Spirit of sanctity entirely concealed the flesh, although he laid aside not the flesh but what is fleshly.

Luther translates this verse with "He was powerfully declared, etc. This idea is followed by the TEV, NIV and NEB. The AAT translates: "He was declared to be the mighty Son of God by His resurrection." Luther's translation lays stress on the resurrection itself. The AAT translation lays stress on the person of Christ. It is difficult to decide which of the two is correct. In fact KJV, NKJV, RSV and JB translate in such a way that it is difficult to tell which idea they espouse. Read John 2:19 and Matthew 12:39.

The Jews asked for signs. Jesus pointed them to the resurrection.

"Spirit" is used in contrast to the word "human nature" or "flesh" in verse 3.

Arndt: 'Spirit' refers to the divine nature of Christ. God is a Spirit, and therefore the expression 'Spirit' is employed here, and to make it clear that the divine nature is pointed to, the genitive 'of holiness' is added.
Stoeckhardt: Christ died, and in death He laid aside human weakness forever. Then He arose from the dead, and as a result is God's Son with power according to the spirit of holiness . . . He now leads an existence altogether different from that He entered as His birth. The prophets had also prophesied of God's humiliation and exaltation. Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.

"Jesus" denotes His personal name "Savior." "Christ" denotes His office, "The Anointed One." "Our Lord" is, of course, the One who rules all things in heaven and earth for the sake of the church.

Verses 3 and 4 are beautiful and symmetrical.

Arndt: It will be noticed that we have here a Christological section of importance, giving us much information on the Person of Christ.

Romans 1:5 Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.

The TEV translates this verse as meaning only Paul received the apostleship. We reject this interpretation. The plural verb in Greek means Paul and the members of the Church.

Lenski: We believers, we his Church. We have the same thought in Ephesians 4:11 where he says that the glorified Lord gave to the church some as apostles . . . Paul is combining himself with the Romans.

Lenski does not mean that the Church is an apostle, but that the Church aids Paul in his work. That is true, of course, but these  Notes  are of the opinion that by "we" Paul mans himself and the twelve apostles. Bengel agrees.

Arndt: Paul was fully the equal of the twelve apostles whom Jesus called during His earthly ministry. . . . 'Grace' here refers to the divine favor which Paul experienced. It includes the forgiveness of sins and his being made a messenger of Christ. 'Apostleship' adds one particular item belonging to the grace which Paul received.

Look at 1 Corinthians 15:10; Ephesians 3:8; and 1 Timothy 1:12-14 as parallels. Also Galatians 1:15-17 where "grace" is also found.

On Paul's equality of office with the other apostles, look at Galatians 2:1-10.

"Faith" in this verse is  fides qua,  faith itself, not  fides quae,  the doctrine.

Bengel: Obedience consists in faith itself. From its relation to the Gospel, the nature of this obedience is evident, 10:16; 16:26; 1 Peter 1:2.
Arndt: The meaning is 'for the creation of the obedience of faith.' The genitive 'of faith' is the so-called genitive of apposition, the epexegetical genitive. The obedience consists in faith, in believing acceptance of the Gospel.
Stoeckhardt: Obedience consists in faith. Christian faith is essentially obedience to God's Word.

We should never forget that the primary purpose of the apostolic mission of the Church is the creation of saving faith. "Among all the Gentiles" shows how extensive this obedience is to be. Probably a better translation would be "all nations" rather than "all Gentiles." It is true, of course, that Paul's call was especially to the Gentiles. Look at Galatians 1:16; 2:8.

"Through him and for his name's sake" is not an easy phrase to translate. AAT has: "So that people will believe and obey and so glorify Him among all nations." JB reads: "To all pagan nations in honor of his name." TEV attaches the phrase to the apostleship: "The privilege of being an apostle for the sake of Christ." RSV has: "The obedience of faith for the sake of his name." NEB similarly: "The privilege of a commission in his name." Arndt: "In order that His name might be glorified." Luther: "For, in place of, the same Christ, as we see in 2 Corinthians 5:20." In any case, it is not an easy phrase.

Romans 1:6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

"Called" appears three times, here in this verse, and in verses 1 and 7. In verses 1 and 7 it is an adjective. In this verse it is a noun. In verse 1 it refers to an individual, Paul. In verses 6 and 7 it refers to Paul's hearers. All were called. In the epistles "called" and it cognates denote the effective call of the Gospel. In this verse the verb is in the passive voice.

Jesus describes this call in John 5:24-26 under the figure of being awakened from death. And we know from Acts 9:4, 22:7; and 26:14 that Jesus called Paul.

"And you also" shows that Paul ascribes no superiority to the Romans. The congregation in Rome consisted chiefly of former Gentiles.

Romans 1:7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

The first six verses are in the first section of the greeting. Paul is the greeter. But Paul gives all honor and praise to God for the incarnate Jesus Christ, now exalted by the Resurrection from the dead.

Now comes the sections denoting those who are addressed, and this in only half the verse.

The Christians in Rome are called by two names, both of which are nouns: "beloved and saints." The first is a passive noun and the second denotes a state or condition.

Arndt: The status which we possess as Christians should be to us evidence that God loves us.

We are reminded of Romans 8:28-39. Friendship is a matter of the emotions, but love is a matter of the will. Neither "beloved" nor "saints" denote perfectionism in the person loved and called. That becomes abundantly clear in the second part of the verse, in the greeting.

"Grace" is God's  favor Dei,  in Christ, His unmerited kindness whereby we have forgiveness of sins, whereby we are called, whereby we are beloved of God.

"Peace" is the peace of God, is that which results from the grace of God. Both are from God, our Father, and Jesus Christ, our Lord. The "and" clearly shows that Jesus is of the same essence with the Father and that the same attributes are assigned to the Father and to Jesus. God is our Father in Jesus Christ.

Bengel: One and the same grace, one and the same peace come from God and Christ.
Arndt: Grace is the favor of God which forgives our sins and helps us in all our needs in spite of our unworthiness. Peace is both the forgiving attitude of God toward us and the assurance in our own heart that we possess God's pardon and are His own . . . . That Jesus is God with the Father is expressed in this phraseology.
Lenski: The order of these two, grace and peace, remains as here indicated, grace always first, peace always second . . . The first person is 'our Father' because we are his children in Christ Jesus; and the second person is 'the Lord' or 'our Lord' because he has redeemed, purchased, and won us.


Adapted from Exegetical Notes, Series A Epistle Texts, Festival Season Sundays, by Harold H. Buls, Concordia Theological Seminary Press: Ft Wayne IN, 1983, pp. 13-16. Used with permission.

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