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Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the book of Romans. Tonight will be study 1 of Romans, chapter 1, and we will begin by reading Romans 1:1-7:
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We see in verse 7 why this Epistle was said to be to the Romans, as Paul was moved by the Holy Spirit addressing, “all that be in Rome.”
As we come to this great book of the Bible – and it is a tremendous book – we can say that about every book in the Bible, but this Bible has some wonderful teachings and declarations from God. They are beautiful statements and powerful testimonies from God to His people, and it is going to be a pleasure, I think, for us to go through the book of Romans at this particular point in time. And we always have to be aware of where we are in God’s specific “times and seasons.” We are living on the earth in God’s Day of Judgment, and that means that some statements we read in this Epistle (or in other books of the Bible) have already been fulfilled, because thousands of years have passed. God has fulfilled many things in His Word, and this gives us confidence and assurance that He will soon fulfill the few remaining things that are left, one of which is to bring about the final destruction of this world and the bringing of His people into glory.
But it is also an excellent Epistle for us to look at, due to what we read in the first chapter and the first few verses regarding the Lord having opened up the information concerning the demonstration of Christ in going to the cross in 33 A. D., but the actual atoning work having been done from the foundation of the world when Christ was declared the Son of God.
Then in chapter 2, we will read about the revelation of the righteous judgment of God. We can go through each chapter and find exciting things that can only help our understanding of the Bible. We see that wherever we look in the Bible. When we read Genesis, it helps with our historical perspective on the Word of God. Romans will help us “all over the place,” including the historical perspective and in many other ways, also.
Let us start in Romans 1:1:
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
Since God started with the word “Paul,” that is where we are going to start. We know this is referring to the Apostle Paul. It is stated that he was “called to be an apostle,” and we know that God moved Paul to write thirteen Epistles, of which we know that Paul was definitely the scribe God moved to write, and the fourteenth book is very likely the book of Hebrews. But, without question, he scribed thirteen of the twenty-seven New Testament books, so it was just about half the books. However, it was very likely that he penned Hebrews, so more than half of the New Testament books were written by Paul the Apostle. Why did God do that? I am not sure, but He did and, therefore, Paul plays a major part in the Bible, especially the New Testament.
We are familiar with his conversion experience when he was Saul of Tarsus, a “Hebrew of Hebrews,” of the tribe of Benjamin. He was a “Pharisee of Pharisees” and zealous for the Law. And he went around hailing men and women, casting them into prison, and consenting unto their death (as he was with Stephen). He held his cloak or coat while they picked up stones to throw at Stephen, and Paul was consenting unto the stoning of that elect child of God.
He was on the way to Damascus to find more (people) that followed “that way,” the way of Christ, and actively seeking people he considered to be heretics after this new Christian sect, and he wanted to arrest them and compel them to blaspheme. So Paul was on that road (to Damascus), and then Christ intervened in his life, which the Lord Jesus did in the lives of everyone he would save, because we were all children of wrath even as others. We were all desperate sinners on the way to destruction, following sin and Satan, as we followed the various religions and philosophies of the world. We were contrary to anything that is of God.
The Lord Jesus had chosen this man, Saul of Tarsus, before the foundation of the world and He laid his sins upon the Lord Jesus at the point of the foundation of the world, and Christ died for those sins – every one of them – including the sin of persecuting the Christians, and every other sin he had committed, past, present and future. Christ died for them, and at the right time He applied that saving work to Paul in the “fulness of time.” You know, when we read in Galatians that God in the fulness of time sent forth His Son, it really refers to how God comes to save us during the life of each of His people. (By the way, God also moved Paul to write the book of Galatians.) It says in Galatians 4:1-6:
Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
You see, this accurately describes the salvation of the elect, even of Saul himself. He was under the Law. Again, he was zealously trying to keep the Law of Moses. He was a “Pharisee of the Pharisees,” but then God sent forth His Son, and the Lord Jesus intervened in Saul’s life. He stopped him cold, and blinded him, and then He turned him around. He caused Ananias to come to him, and put his hand on him, so Paul could see as the “scales fell away from his eyes,” as it were, and, immediately, he preached Jesus.
That is how Saul became Paul, but, actually, we do not read that he was called “Paul” until sometime later. That account was in Acts 9 where we read of him as a Christian, but using the name “Saul” a few times. But then when we reach Acts 13, we read these things, beginning in Acts 13:1-3:
Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
Notice that here in Acts 13, he is still being referred to as Saul. And, here, the Holy Spirit spoke to them. By the way, we must remember that the Holy Spirit is a Person of the Godhead – there is one God and, yet, three Persons. We clearly grasp the concept of God the Father and God the Son, but sometimes we fail to grasp that the Holy Spirit is His own Person, and that is why He is speaking directly here: “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” He is putting His hand, as it were, on Saul. Then it said in Acts 13:3-4:
And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
Then there is a situation when they reached their destination, in Acts 13:6-10:
And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
The account continues, but for purposes of our study, we want to stop here and consider verse 9: “Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,)…” This is the first time that we are told that he was called Paul. Prior to this, it was always Saul. Actually, after this verse, he would always be known as Paul, except in two instances, in Acts 22 and Acts 26 where he recounted what had happened to him on the road to Damascus when the Lord appeared in His brightness and blinded him. Because it was a historical recounting of the event, we read that Christ said, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” He did not say, “Paul, Paul, why persecutest thou me?” That was a different matter, as it was looking back. But from Acts 13:9 when we read the rest of the history in the book of Acts or if we read the rest of the Epistles, we will find only references to Paul, just as we read in Romans 1:1 of “Paul, an apostle.” We read in 1Corinthians 1:1, “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ.” We read in 2Corinthians 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” I do not know if it is true of every one of the Epistles, but we get the point that whenever he referred to himself, it was “Paul.”
It is curious. We wonder why the change. We can understand that he was Saul, a Pharisee, and as is befitting to a change in heart and becoming a new creature in Christ, we can see why he would receive a new name, Paul. But why was it at this point? Why did it not happen right away? Why did God not change his name back in Acts 9?
The reason is that in Acts 13, he was being sent forth with Barnabas by the Holy Spirit, and he is being sent to the Gentiles. So it appears that “Paul” is Saul’s Roman name. For example, in Acts 13:7 we read of the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, and the name “Paulus” is from the same word as “Paul,” so we could read it as “Paul” whenever we read the word as “Paulus.” We would hear more of the Latin or Greek pronunciation, if we did that. But remember that Saul of Tarsus was already a Roman citizen. He was “free born,” as it says in Acts 22:18-21:
And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
Paul was talking to the Jews that had violently thrown him out of the temple because they thought he had brought a Gentile into the temple, so he was trying to address them as a Hebrew or Jew, and that is why he said what he said, recounting how he had imprisoned and beat those that believed on Christ. The Jews would have been familiar with that and in agreement with it, but when he said, “Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles,” it brought up a “sore point” to the Jews, as it was the reason why they had just dragged him out of the temple. Then it says in Acts 22:22-28:
And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live. And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air, The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him. And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman. Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea. And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.
Basically, he was just saying he was born as a Roman citizen, just as someone that was born in America is born an American citizen, with all the rights and privileges of citizenship. The Apostle Paul was a Roman citizen at his birth, and he had dual citizenship. He was a Jew, so he was a citizen of Israel, and he was also a Roman citizen.
By the way, if we look at a passage earlier in the chapter where Paul was beginning to make his defence, it says in Acts 22:2-3:
(And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,) I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.
He was saying, “I am a man who is a Jew.” And, of course, he was because he was a physical descendant of Abraham. He was born a Jew, and born a Roman. He was both. We cannot help but notice how crafty he was, although it was in a good way; there is nothing sinful about it. He was using resources that God had provided in his life. But how wise it was of Paul when speaking to the Hebrews to say, “I am a Jew. I was born a Jew.” Then when about to be scourged with a whip, then he pointed out, “Is this something lawful for you to do to a Roman citizen because I am a Roman citizen?” And it was not something that could be lawfully be done. They were about to do something that was contrary to their own law, because a Roman citizen that was “uncondemned” could not be scourged.
You know, there is such a thing as “false humility,” so there was no need to think, “I am going to just take a whipping and not bring up the fact that I am a Roman citizen.” Why do that? He knew the law. He was aware of Roman law and, therefore, he reminded them of their own law which, as it turned out, was helpful to him, and he was not scourged. And that helps us because whatever God has placed in our lives that is lawful and not sinful, we can use as God gives us wisdom to do so.
This is as far as we will get in this study. Lord willing, we are going to take a look at Paul as a Roman, and see why he was the perfect human instrument for God to use to write the Epistle to the Romans.