SERIES: Renewal Through Romans: The Gospel Defined, Explained & Applied
SETTING: North Kelso Baptist Church
SERVICE: Sunday AM (February 8, 2015)
SUBTITLE: The Man and His Message (Part 4)
SCRIPTURE: Romans 1: 1b-4
SUBJECT: the credentials of Paul
SUMMARY: The Apostle Paul was qualified by God for his task
SCHEME: that Christians understand the qualifications that rendered the Apostle Paul effective for the service of God to the Gentiles
Our theme is: The Credentials of Paul
This is a good reminder for us all that we need to understand the various ingredients that God used to make this man such a unique player in the eternal plans of God
Proposition: The Apostle Paul was qualified by God for his task
Interrogatory Sentence: What were the qualifications that enabled Paul to write his letter to the church at Rome?
Transitional Sentence: The passage before reveals three (3) attributes that God used to make Paul such an important player in the life of the church;
1. He is the Serving One
2. He is the Sent One
3. He is the Separated One
4. He is the Scripted One
4. He is the Scripted One
The Man and His Message
Credentials. Connections. Credibility
That is how we become known and trusted even by those who don't know us personally. Americans accomplish this task through their resumes and personal references. When we look for a job, we try to establish (or re-establish) a network of people in our profession who know about us and our abilities and our attributes.
We talk with people on the phone, write letters about recent professional accomplishments, and meet with them to discuss items of mutual professional interest.
We also let people know that we are looking for a new position, in hopes that they might know other people who might also have connections within our industry. These colleagues are important to us, and we are important to them, because we are one another's connections in the job market.
When actively seeking work, we also develop a resume that includes the names of previous employers and colleagues who know our abilities very well. Our resume is especially strong if these credentials are both credible and from a credible source.
So, it is with the Apostle Paul. He is a stranger to this church and yet he writes this incredible theological letter with over half of it containing instructions and commands that he expected the Roman believers to carry out. In order to pull this off he had to have some strong and impeccable credentials.
I want us to examine those credentials. But before we do, let’s take a minute and….
Our theme continues to be: the apostle Paul; the man God chose
Our theme is a good reminder for us all that we need to understand the various ingredients that God used to make this man such a unique player in the eternal plans of God
Proposition: God uses various ingredients to make a believer useful to His plans
Interrogatory Sentence: What were the ingredients that God used to make Paul into the man who played such an important role in the life of the church?
Transitional Sentence: The passage before us identifies four (4) ingredients that God used to make Paul such an important player in the life of the church;
· The Childhood of Paul
· The Conversion of Paul
· The Credentials of Paul
· The Commission of Paul
Last time we met we were looking at the conversion of the Apostle Paul. As we began our look at his conversion we discovered a number of lessons.
We were able to take make a close examination of his conversion by looking first at Paul’s Allegiance to Judaism. Paul was trained and committed to the Old Testament Judaism of his family and ancestors. He was seeped in the law and in tradition.
Next, we were able to closely examine Paul’s Abhorrence of Jesus. Paul hated “the way” and all those who were connected to “the way.” As a matter of fact, if you remember, he so hated Jesus and “Christians” that he was animated, or made alive by obtaining warrants for the arrest of Christians in order to drag them to trial.
We looked at Paul’s Adjustment by Jehovah. In God’s timing and in God’s manner, God chose to regenerate Paul and give him to life. We were able to learn several lessons from Paul’s conversion experience:
· God determined when Paul was to be converted, not Paul nor his will
· God is able to convert the most unlikely of sinners
· God revealed Jesus in Paul as both Lord and Savior
· God used Paul as a pattern for those who were converted subsequent to Paul
· God leaves indelible marks on a person when he converts them
· God uses converted sinners as instruments to spread the gospel
[So, now let’s move now to the third ingredient in the Man and his Message, and that is…]
3B Paul’s Credentials (1b-4)
We now come to where we can begin a detailed study of our text. We begin looking at the first piece of information that Paul reveals about himself.
[Look at what he says about himself in verse 1…]
“…a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God…” (1:1b, NKJV)
Remember Paul has never visited Rome. Therefore he has never visited this church. Having read this letter in its entirety we discovered that he does know a few of the members of this church. As a whole he does not know these people and the overwhelming majority of its members do not know him.
Paul wants to win their confidence and their good will. In keeping with the custom of his day, he attempts to invoke their goodwill by creating a predisposition so they will listen to what he is going to say to them.
So he begins his letter to them with these words. Paul uses great dignity and sensitivity to get close to his readers right away. He gives a three-fold description of himself.
It seems to me that you have to ask yourself, ‘Why did he use those designations?’ What is the meaning that he attached each one of those phrases? Are they in a special or significant order or did he just write them as they occurred to him?
[Let’s begin with the first phrase, let’s start with…]
1C He is The Servant
First of all, if you took the time to browse through the letters of Paul you will find that this is his most often method of referring to himself. It is like Paul is saying, “this is who I am.” Or, “this is what I am.”
Paul thinks of himself almost instinctively in these terms.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones made this statement, “…it is as if to say, the most important thing about this man Paul, who is writing to you, is that he is a ‘servant of Jesus Christ.’ 
Paul is a bondservant of Jesus Christ.
Now, this is a significant choice of words. This word, bondservant comes from the Greek word doulos, (doulos). This word and its derivatives describe the status of a slave, or the attitude that corresponds to a slave.
This definition is simple and self-explanatory, since we all know what a slave is. There is one important thing to learn however, the emphasis is always on “serving as a slave.” In other words this is a service or a function that is not a matter of choice. Choice is actually totally foreign to a slave. The doulos is absolutely and totally committed to the will of his/her master. The bondservant is not permitted to have any will of their own.
Paul could have used another word to describe himself as a servant. He could have used the word oikeths. This word is similar but it has a stress on the relationship of a servant to the outside world or human society. But the word doulos stresses the complete or absolute dependence on the owner. Every choice, every action, every part of the slave is used to serve and obey the master.
Stop for a moment and think about this. Look at this idea in the light of its historical setting. Try and grasp the significance of Paul’s choice or use of the word that he used to describe himself.
The distinctive feature of the self-awareness of a Greek or Roman citizen was freedom.
The Greek or the Roman found their total dignity in their whole being in the single fact that they were free.
This self-awareness of absolute freedom stood out sharply in juxta-position to anything that smacked of enslavement or the performing of a service under any type or kind of bondage.
When you are forced to set aside your total human autonomy, an alien or a foreign entity takes command over your own personal will.
The distinction is this – a doulos or a bondservant had no way of evading any command or job and had no right of any personal choice. The bondservant had to do what another person command them to do, no matter what the command or duty was.
In the Greek or the Roman mindset only scorn, rejection, ridicule, and horrible treatment was to be applied to any idea that had the slightest resemblance to that of being or becoming a slave. The Romans took a number of slaves captive when they conquered an enemy because the Romans who die before every submitting themselves to a master.
If you understand the Greek mindset and if you study history at all you will know why the Greeks and the Romans fought so hard and fierce for political and personal independence. You know why they had nothing but absolute scorn for barbarians and for people who served under masters.
You might find it interesting to know that Plato in his description or picture of the ideal human personality excluded any thought or reference to a person being under the power of someone else or to be subservient to the will of another person.
So, a Greek and especially a Roman upon reading this or hearing it would not have understood it, to say the least. They would ask, ‘Paul, why in the world, or how could you even remotely identify yourself as a slave, a bondservant?”
Now, just for the record, the Jewish mind was predisposed to the idea of slaves and slavery. The first time that word slave/or servant is used is in Genesis 9:5. By the time we get to chapter 24 we see Abraham with a whole household of slaves.
Also, it might be interesting to note that the Jews were allowed to take prisoners captive and make them slaves. The Jews were allowed to buy slaves if they were foreigners.
The Jews were expressly forbidden to buy, keep, or treat fellow Jews as bondservants. You’ll find that in Leviticus 25. If you had a Jewish national as an indentured servant, not a slave, you had to redeem them or release them during the year of Jubilee.
In the NT, the word doulos is used somewhat different than the Greek mindset. The slave is still considered to be in ‘bondage’ and has limitations on what they could or could not do or say. In the NT a slave is never spoken of despairingly or contemptuously. The bondservant is not despised or rejected simply because he/she happens to be a slave.
At the time of Christ, the bondservant was:
• Considered to be on a lower level than the rest of humanity
• Was classified as ‘goods’
• Had absolutely no legal rights
• Could not own property
• His wife, children, or family were not considered ‘his’ but belong to his master who could do with them as he desired
Unfortunately, because the bondservant was classified as property, the master could do anything that he wanted. Even the mutilation of a slave was no a punishable offense (Exodus 21:26) However, if you knocked an eye or tooth out of your slave you were required to set them free.
The attitude of the Rabbis was even bad at this time. To call another person a “slave” was to call a person the worst of names. They considered it the worst insult that you could inflict on another.
Another thing to note is that Christianity did not necessarily condemn or end slavery. Slaves were integrated into the Christian community. Paul gave instructions to slaves to serve as Christ would serve, and if you were free be free but if you were a slave remain a slave.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. (2 Corinthians 7:21, NKJV)
A legal degree did not end slavery. The fact that in the Christian community there is neither male nor female, Greek, or barbarian, slave nor free, but in Christ all are equal, because all believers stand in the same level as they are united with Christ.
Remember, Paul’s plea to Philemon, “…that you might receive him forever, no longer a slave (doulos) but more than a slave – a beloved brother (adelphos)…” (Philemon 16)
When we trace this word “bondservant” through the NT, we find that it is used very little of Christians as actual slaves. Most of the references of Christians as “slaves” refer to our relationship to Jesus Christ. Such Luke 1:38; Acts 2:18; James 1:1; Titus 1:1.
What we see in the NT is that Christians belong to Jesus Christ as His “bondservant.” Meaning that our total and complete being belongs to Jesus Christ.
Paul this clear in Romans 6:15-23: [Read & comment]
Paul considered himself a purchased possession of the Lord Jesus to do the complete will and bidding of Jesus Christ; “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ…”
Let me final comment before we move on. You are probably familiar with the concept where a slave could become a permanent slave of his/her master. Usually because they loved their master. Slaves could purchase freedom, be freed, but they had to be freed during the year of jubilee, which occurred every 50 years.
Exodus 21:5-6 made provision where a slave could come and have an awl (icepick) pierce their ear making that slave a permanent bondservant of their master.
Maybe that idea was the backdrop of what prompted Paul to give himself so whole-heartedly in love and service to his divine master.
The challenge for you and me today is to recognize that in Christ we are bond-servants, or slaves of Jesus Christ. We are to have no will of our own but we are to do his will. “Not my will be done, but thy will be done.”
Our challenge is to learn how to die to ourselves every day and to die to sin and the flesh and the humanistic, secular system of this world and to faithfully carry out the will of the Father.
So, Paul characterizes himself as a bondservant of Jesus Christ.
[Secondly, Paul characterizes himself as an apostle. Let’s look at his designation as…]
2C He is The Sent One
“…called to be an apostle…”
Paul uses in my opinion one the greatest words in Greek or English; klntos apostolos
The words “to be” are supplied in the English to fill out the Greek translation, which literally reads, “Called apostle.”
The verb Paul used is used approximately ten (10) times in the NT. (Ro 1:1, 6,7; 1 Cur 1:1, 2, 24; Jude 1; Rev 7:14.
klhtos comes from the family of kalew, klhsis
When it is used in what we call the active voice it means to invite, to call aloud, to call or name by name, or to summon.
In Matthew 2:15 - we see God calling His Son out of Egypt
In Matthew 4:21 – we see Jesus as he calls His disciples into service
In Matthew 9:13 – we Jesus as he calls sinners to repentance
The nuance of this word “called” is fantastic and should never missed. It is that God calls men to Himself for His purpose. And the great about this verb, it implies according to Kittle in his Theological Dictionary, that when God calls, it renders man willing to obey.
It is with this phrase that Paul establishes his authority for his ministry, and particularly the ministry he wants to have in this church in which he has never even visited.
What Paul is establishing for this church and for these people who don’t know him, is that being an apostle was not his idea or by his own doing, nor by anything other human agency.
Paul infers that he was invited, summoned, or called by the Lord Jesus Christ. We saw that when we looked at his conversion on the Damascus Road. (Acts 9:15; 22:14-15; 26:16-18)
apostolos carries the meaning or the idea of “one who is sent or commissioned. It is used of someone who was given an official position or job on the behalf of someone else.
This word appears some 79 times in the NT. Most of the time it appears it refers to the twelve (12) apostles and to Paul. But it can be used of any or all believers – because we are all sent or commissioned by God into this world as witnesses or as ambassadors of Jesus Christ. (Ro 16:7; Acts 14:14)
So, Paul states that he is a bond-servant and he is a called apostle; someone who has been divinely appointed by God for a mission or job.
[Paul goes to list another designation of himself; he is also…]
3C He is The Separated One
“…separated to the gospel of God.”
Because Paul was called and sent by God as an apostle or as an ambassador, his whole life was set apart in the Lord’s service.
The word that Paul used is a severe word. It is the Greek word aforizw. It is used 10 times in nine NT passages. It means to separate or to sever; to cut out. It means to mark out or cut out a boundary. It actually comes from the root word orizw from which we get horizon. The horizon is the boundary that is cut off or marked off by an imaginary line in the sky between the earth and the sky.
aforizw means to limit, to set apart, to mark off, to make a boundary, and or to mark off from others. Paul was separated, or marked off, or cut off by God from all of mankind for his office as an apostle. For those of you who might be interested this verb is a participle which speaks of a past completed action that continues to have present results.
Somewhere in eternity past God marked out, cut out Paul for this job and upon that determination by God in the past, it not only took place what had continuing results.
If you would permit me, let me digress for a minute. I want try to help you see the significance of this word.
aforizw or orizw carries an important meaning for you and me. They mean to set apart, to separate, to limit, to mark or cut out. Throughout the Bible God has marked out or cut out his chosen people from among people in general. God has separated his people from the world:
He separates the redeemed from the unredeemed
He separates the wicked from the righteous
In Leviticus 20:26 - Israel is marked out from the rest of the nations
In Exodus 13:12 – The first Born is marked out and belongs to God
In Numbers 8:11-14 – Israel’s crops were marked out for God
What is God teaching by this practice of marking or cutting out people and things? What is the lesson?
The lesson is simple – there is to be a separation or a distinction for God’s people. There is to be no intermingling with the unrighteous people of this world.
2 Corinthians 6:17 says, “Therefore, come out from among them and be separate says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17, NKJV)
When God calls and draws us unto Himself, that calling includes an automatic responsibility of separating ourselves from the unsaved or the unrighteous.
Paul was separated to the gospel of God.
The gospel of God – the good news of God.
Glad tidings. This word is used some 60 times in Romans. It is the good news that God will deliver us from our selfish sin, free us from the burden of sin, and will give meaning to our life and provide an abundant life for us.
Those in Rome would have understood this word well. It was a common word in the Roman period. It was used especially in the cultic worship of the Emperors.
Most of the emperors declared themselves as “gods” and demanded worship from everyone in the Roman Empire. When favorable or good things happened to the Emperor they would be proclaimed by what we would call town heralds or town criers. They would shout the good news that a child had been born or that a son had come of age or that the Emperors health had improved. The news was called “good news.” The same word for the gospel, the gospel is the good news of God proclaimed to sinners.
So, Paul says that he has been commissioned and set apart to proclaim the good news, not good news of an Emperor, but look at what he says, “…to the gospel of God.” You have to stop and wonder what would make God condescend in order to provide good news for you and me, especially in a world that scorns, rejects and hates God.
Well, at this point Paul moves from a discussion of himself to his message. He established his credentials as a messenger, a messenger of God who had appointed him. He now directs the attention of the Roman Christians to his message. He does this with three different means: with a general mention of his message, then with a scriptural anticipation of his message, and finally with the mention of a special theme.
4C He is The Scripted One (2-4)
Paul calls his readers attention to the Old Covenant, or what we call the OT.
“…which he promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures…?”
1D Scripted through the Scriptures (2)
Paul wanted his readers to know immediately that the good news he was writing about was not new, that he did not make it up. He wanted to establish the fact that the message, the good news is related to the past, that it is connected with continuity something that they had previously had had confidence in. What was that? The OT. This good news is not an afterthought by Christ or came from Paul.
Maybe it was for the sake of his Jewish readers that he emphasizes that this gospel did not originate with him. Remember Paul was frequently accused of teaching against Moses and the Mosaic Law. So Paul wanted to make it very clear that this gospel, this good news was the same good news found in the OT, “which he promised before through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures.”
The promise of the coming Messiah and of his wonderful redemption is found throughout the OT, the old covenant which his readers would have been familiar with.
By the way, here is a free-be, you can see Paul’s attitude and opinion or his views of the OT. You can see his thoughts in a three-fold description he gives:
· He calls them holy writings (Scriptures)
· He states that they came from God
· He states these holy scriptures from God came through God’s prophets
Why would this be important?
It shows that Paul believed the OT had a binding authority on him, his message, and his recipients. The key thought is that this good news is not new.
A man named Denney made this statement, “The gospel is not in principle a new thing, a subversion of the true religion as it hitherto been known to the people of God. On the contrary, God promised it before through His holy prophets in the Holy Scriptures. The gospel of good news is the fulfillment of hopes which God himself inspired. (Denney)
Paul is cutting away any and all objections to his message from the Jews who often accused him of introducing something new or something that opposed the Mosaic economy.
Paul’s use of the prophets refers to the OT writers – the spokespersons for God.
Most of the Jews of Paul’s day were used to looking to rabbinical teachers and teaching for their religious instruction. The OT was really looked at as a relic rather than as a source of truth. Even Jesus had to remind his disciples about the truth of Scripture when he said:
“…O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25, NKJV)
It has been said that there are some 332 prophecies about Christ in the OT. Most of them were fulfilled at this first coming. Don’t forget that even Jesus said that he did not come to break, contradict the scripture but to fulfill them:
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17-18, NKJV)
Some of those prophecies are Gen 3:15; 12:3; 49:10; Deut 18:15; Ps 2:2, 45:2, 68:18, 69:12, 110:1, 118:22, 132:11, Isa 2:4, 7:14, 9:2, 7, Isa 11:10, 25:8, 28:16, 42:1; 49:6, Jer 31:31-34, Eze25-27
2D Scripted through the Savior (3)
“…concerning his son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh…” (Romans 1:3, NKJV)
Paul is now going to use his message to emphasize the divine son ship of Christ. Right here we have a mystery – Jesus Himself is God, but he is also the Son of God.
The gospel concerns God’s Son. The entire sum of the gospel is contained or framed in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, by being known by Him and by knowing Him. We are all well aware that there is no other person or name anywhere under heaven by which men can be saved. To depart from the Son of God by faith alone and grace alone is to depart from Salvation.
Paul’s Message includes two designations – our Lord and born of the seed of David.
The word Lord is the Greek word kurios. It comes from a root which means “supreme,” or “master”, even “sir.” It means to “whom a thing or person belongs to, someone who has the power to decide, the possessor or disposer of a thing, one who has absolute control, such as a master, a sovereign, a prince, and a chief.”
Paul emphasizes to the Romans that Jesus Christ as the Son of God is Lord, or Supreme over everything.
Paul also emphasis that Jesus was born of the seed of David by human birth.
Son of God refers to the deity of Jesus, that He is God
Born of the Seed of David refers to the humanity of Jesus
John 1:14 reminds us that, “…the word became flesh…”
God, through the incarnation entered a new state or condition by assuming a human body and putting himself under human limitations.
God displayed unparalleled wisdom that is beyond our comprehension in displaying His son both as a human and as divine.
Paul continues without a break or even a breath and moves right into verse 4.
3D Scripted through the Spirit (4)
“…and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead.”
We have actually seen this word “declared” before. It is the word orizw. In addition to be used to mean “to cut out, to mark out, to separate,” it also is used in the NT to signify “to determine, to appoint, to ordain.”
Taken properly in its meaning it means to limit, just like boundary lines are used to set a field to regulate measurements. Jesus was made or became the Son of God at his incarnation but he was declared, defined, or demonstrated to be the Son of God by his resurrection.
Paul is not saying that Jesus became the son of God by or after his resurrection. That would contradict scripture.
Colossians tells us that “He is the image of the invisible god, the firstborn over all creation.” (Col 1:15, NKJV)
The word horizo, to mark out or set a boundary signifies that in the view before men, before the world, before humanity Christ was determined to be the Son of God. In other words, he is demonstrated to be what He already is! He was openly appointed and his resurrection manifested or demonstrated what he was. And Paul says ii was with great power.
Power, a might work, great strength, miraculous power or energy. It was in this sphere of power that this declaration or marking out was made known.
It was “…according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the resurrection of the dead.”
Is this Spirit of Holiness the HS or something else? Calvin and a few others took it to mean the HS. But not sure that is the correct interpretation.
First – there seems to be a little antithesis or play going on in the phrase:
According to the flesh – according to spirit
According to the flesh Jesus is the Son of David according to the spirit or the divine nature He is of God or God; flesh is human nature- spirit is his divine nature
The resurrection defined Jesus as the person being spoken of by the prophets as the Son of God. Had he remained dead he would have been proved to be a fraud and not the son of God.
By his resurrection God proclaimed to the entire universe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of David and was His Son. The resurrection did not constituted him as son, it only evidenced it.
When Jesus had declared himself to be the Son of God and the Jews charged him with blasphemy and said that he was a demonic deceiver
By the resurrection we see the clear manifestation of his character and it was vindicated publicly and the controversy was settled forever of who he really was. In raising Jesus from the dead, God settled the contest for ever. God declared him to be His son, accepted his death as satisfaction and justified his claim.
So, by his incarnation Jesus received his human nature, the very fullness of his spirit, but he received it covered with a veil, his flesh. By His death he satisfied the penalty for sin, by his resurrection he entered into the full exercise of this right and was marked out or defined, or declared to be the Son of God.
Well that wraps up Paul’s credentials. We have examined his childhood, his conversion, and now his credentials. Next week we will wrap up the Man and His Message by looking at Paul’s commission.
Our theme has been: the apostle Paul; the man God chose
Our theme is a good reminder for us all that we need to understand the various ingredients that God used to make this man such a unique player in the eternal plans of God
Proposition: God uses various ingredients to make a believer useful to His plans
[Let’s wrap this up shall we?]
Henry Augustus Rowland, professor of physics at Johns Hopkins University, was once called as an expert witness at a trial. During cross-examination a lawyer demanded, "What are your qualifications, or credentials as an expert witness in this case?"
The normally modest and retiring professor replied quietly, "I am the greatest living expert on the subject under discussion."
Later a friend well acquainted with Rowland's disposition expressed surprise at the professor's uncharacteristic answer. Rowland answered, "Well, what did you expect me to do? I was under oath."
I think you see the point – this little story is opposite of what Paul said about Himself. Paul, merely stated humbly that he was a slave, was commissioned by God to be an apostle, and was set apart for the gospel ministry.
And So, I exhort you as genuine believers to adopt the credentials of the apostle Paul in order to be a useful vessel in the extension of the church of Jesus Christ.
Remember Mary said in Luke 1:38…
“…Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word….”
(Luke 1:38, ESV)
You can see Mary’s credentials, she was a willing servant, she was one sent by God for a mission, and she was separated to God and from the unbelieving religious crowd.
Let’s pray! J
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Philippians 4:23, NKJV)