17 April 2017
“Jesus Christ our Lord, 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.” (vv. 4b-5)
The letter to the Romans is the only
letter addressed to a church which Paul did not establish and about
which he knew very little. Paul wrote it in approximately AD58.
Rome was at the heart of the mighty Roman Empire. Paul wanted to
spread the good news of Christ beyond Asia Minor and he hoped that
a letter to the Romans would encourage them to act as a base for
such witness. The letter contains important theological concepts,
for example that people live by grace and not by the law. It has
influenced many people throughout the centuries, most notably
Martin Luther and John Wesley.
Paul called himself a slave or servant
(verse 1), because he believed that he belonged to Christ. For
Paul, it meant the obligation of a great love and the honour of a
great office. Paul acknowledged that he had been called to be an
apostle. The word means messenger, or one sent by God. And this
call came from Jesus, from the lineage of David - in other words, a
human being. A reference to the prophets (verse 2) is a reference
to the prophets in the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) who
expected that the Messiah (the anointed one) would come. This Jesus
had died and had been raised from the dead. In verse 5 Paul spreads
the net wider, as it were. Christ had not only called him, but also
others to be apostles. And this came about because of grace. Grace
is unconditional mercy that is not earned, but is given away
freely. Christ wants people to proclaim the message to "bring about
the obedience of faith". Obedience used in this sense does not mean
obedience because of coercion. Instead, it is an obedience
resulting from grace and love. If you love someone very much you
want to please them. Obedience to Christ comes as a result of
people's love for God, which as its starting point is God's love
for God's people.
- What significance does grace have in a world where nothing is
free, in the sense that, in a commercial context, something offered
as a free gift always has a catch?
- How do you respond to the fact that through Christ you have
received an apostleship?
Bible notes author: The Revd Lynita Conradie
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