Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Romans 1:1-7 Gospel in a Nutshell

KEY TEXT: Romans 1:1-5 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, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.

KEY THOT: In one sentence, Paul summarizes what the gospel is and why he has received this grace of apostleship to the nations. First, let's unpack Paul's description of the gospel:
  • "which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures" (v.2): Even though the gospel was revealed in the NT, it didn't start there. The gospel was "promised beforehand through his prophets". It was already spoken of by the OT prophets. Which means that we cannot fully understand the NT gospel without also understanding the OT Scripture. The gospel has been promised and proclaimed by the OT prophets. The more we understand the OT scripture, the greater our appreciation of God's grace in the NT gospel.
  • "concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh" (v.3): The focus of Paul's gospel is the Son, who was the promised descendant of David but also God's Son. God gave David this promise: "When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son" (2 Samuel 7:12-14). Like all OT prophecies, this promise has a double-fulfillment: in its immediate context, it refers to David's son Solomon. But it was also a distant-future reference to God's own Son whom He promised would "establish the throne of his kingdom forever." This Son of God would have a dual nature: he would be both son of David in his flesh, but also the Son of God in his spirit.
  • "was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead" (v.4): This Son of David was fully declared the eternal Son of the Father when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit in his new glorified body. His divine nature as Son of God was fully revealed at his resurrection. Before the resurrection, he was a descendant of David according to his flesh--sharing the same weaknesses and temptations as other humans: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). But once he was raised from the dead, he has conquered all human weaknesses and is no longer subject to the temptation of sin as the divine Son of God. And we who have put our trust in him will one day share his victory over sin and death in our new resurrection body. So all believers have become "more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Rom. 8:37).
  • "Jesus Christ our Lord" (v.4): Jesus was declared at his resurrection not only to be the Son of God but also made "our Lord". He is now exalted above all kings and all lords. Paul's Gospel is about Jesus Christ, his coming as the Messiah-King promised to David long ago and the eternal kingdom he is returning to set up. And by his resurrection from the dead, he offers the same hope to all who puts their faith in him, that they will not only conquer sin and death but will inherit the eternal kingdom he is returning to set up in the new heaven and the new earth. 
What a glorious gospel Paul has received. With the gospel, he has also received the grace as apostle to proclaim it to the nations. May we who believe in the same gospel share the same passion to proclaim this glorious gospel to all who have yet known of this hope.

Father, thank You that the promise of Your Son is the Good News from the days of the prophets. Thank You that in these days, we have received the Good News of Your Son through the grace of apostleship You have bestowed on all who have this call to proclaim it to the nations. Amen.

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