Have You Met Paul?
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.
Romans is the most influential theological work ever written. It was the words written in this book that led to the conversion of Augustine, Martin Luther, John and Charles Wesley, and thousands of others. I would hazard a guess that more people have came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ through the witness of this letter than any other book of the Bible. For me personally it was Rom 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” that brought me to the realisation that I was a sinner, a reality that must be acknowledged before we can find grace. It was Rom 6:23 that taught me that “the wages of my sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, because it also told me that God commended His love to me in that while I was yet a sinner Christ died for me Rom 5:8. It told me how I was to receive this great gift of God by teaching me that I must confess with my mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in my heart that God has raised Him from the dead and that by doing this I would be saved. Rom 10:9. Many thousands could testify the same, that faith came by hearing and hearing by the Word of God in this letter to the Romans. There is no doubt that this book was inspired by the Holy Spirit and is the very Word of God.
However, who did God use to write these words? Paul, formally known as Saul of Tarsus. He was a Pharisee, a member of the elite Sanhedrin who persecuted the church of Jesus Christ. He was a participant in the murder of Steven the first Christian martyr. A Man who dedicated his life to destroying Christians. So how is it that such a man wrote such an influential book?
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
Paul’s very presents was a demonstration of the power of God through the gospel. So that when Paul introduces himself in these first few verses of this letter, even in his introduction he proclaims the truth of his thesis. That the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes. It is the power of this gospel that takes a man who is an enemy of the church and of Christ and transforms him into the greatest advocate for Christ that the world has ever seen. So who is this guy? Paul introduces himself in this letter more throughly than he does in other letters because the church in Rome did not know him. He did not plant the church in Rome and he had never visited the church in Rome and so he is very through and precise in his introduction.
I want to focus just on verse 1 this morning.
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
I want to look at the three things that Paul uses to describe himself in this verse. He says that he is a servant who has been called and separated. There is a bit more than meets the eye in this Paul guy. This is an introduction of Paul and yet the main subject seem to be Jesus Christ. This introduction is crucial to our understanding of this letter. We need to understand the type of person Paul is, what drives him? Why would he write this letter to people that he doesn’t know? And by what authority does he make the bold claims found in this letter? First he tells us that he is a ...
Slave Of Jesus Christ
Slave Of Jesus Christ
The word “servant” doulos /doo·los it means a slave or bondman or one who is owned by another. In Strongs concordance one of the definitions says this.
“devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests.”
Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
So the very first thing that Paul wants us to know about him is that he is not his own man. Most people will put their own interest above everyone else's. Many will try and please other people but even that pleasing of others is driven by ones own interest. But Paul says that he is a slave. Slaves don’t have the right to have their own interest. Their job is to serve only the interest of their master. So if he can’t serve his own interest then he is not going to try and please others either. In this letter everything that he writes, is to please only his master.
For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
So he’s says I’m Paul and I’m a slave. So if we want to know where this guy is coming from what is his motivation we have to look beyond Paul the man and look to His master Jesus Christ.
Perhaps we find the term slave offensive. We like to think that we have our freedom. The idea of a slave indicates bondage. What if I were to tell you that no one is free. We all serve someone. Paul addresses this later in Ch 6:
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
One of the greatest deceptions of Satan is that we are our own person. He would have us think that the choice is to be free or become the slave of Christ. But the truth is the choice between having Satan as your master or having Jesus Christ as your master. We say but I want to do what I want to do, It’s my life and I want to life it how I want to live it, not realising that that is exactly what Satan wants us to do. To serve self is to serve Satan but to die to self and live unto God is to serve Jesus. The difference is Satan is a cruel master who wants to destroy us and Jesus is a good master who wants to save us.
Next he tells us that he was...
Called To Be An Apostle
Called To Be An Apostle
An apostle is a delegate or a messenger. The New Testament usage refers particularly to a special group of the delegates of Jesus. These were men who had seen the resurrected Christ and had been personally taught by Him and commissioned by Him to spread the message of the gospel. Paul claimed to have this special calling and his authority to write this letter to the church at Rome which he had nothing to do with planting and had never even visited was based on this calling.
So how was Paul an apostle? He wasn’t one of the original twelve who sat under the teaching of Christ before his death on the cross. But he did see the resurrected Christ.
At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
Paul was called and sent to be an apostle to the gentiles so he was one of that elite group of delegates. These apostles went about proclaiming the message that they had received by the authority of their calling. And they wrote the message in the letters and books that we now have and call the New Testament. And so the authority that I now have to preach these truths is based on the authority of the apostles doctrine contained in the Bible. My authority to preach begins and ends with this book and if I peach something contrary to this book then I have no authority.
So we now are starting to get a picture of this guy Paul. He is a slave he is owned by Jesus, he is called and sent as a delegate of Jesus to be a witness of what he has seen. And then he says that he is...
Separated Unto The Gospel
Separated Unto The Gospel
He was separated, set apart for the gospel, this gospel which he now preaches, this gospel for which he says I am not ashamed. When was he separated. He tells us in Galatians
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
so wait a minute I thought that before the road to Damascus when Jesus appeared to him that he persecuted the church. I thought he used to hate Christians and hunt them down so that he could throw them into prison and beat them and stone them to death? And yet it says here that God set him apart for the gospel before he was born?
This is why Jesus said to Paul it’s hard for you to kick against the pricks. He was saying it’s hard to fight against your calling isn’t it?
Paul’s life was such a contrast. Before he was a murderer of Christians and after he met his owner, the one who set him apart for the gospel everything changed. So now when he says I’m Paul owned by Jesus Christ called to be His messenger and set apart before I was born for the gospel. Just in this first verse we can already see the power of the gospel to completely transform even the greatest of sinners.
So when we are introduced to Paul this morning it’s not about who he is, it’s about who’s he is. We place so much importance on discovering who we really are. The better question to ask is who’s we are. Who do you belong to this morning? Which master do you serve? Perhaps you’re here this morning and you feel like you’ve been kicking against the pricks. Maybe God has set you apart for the gospel but you’ve been serving another master. Maybe God’s revealing himself to you right now. Would you surrender to Him? would you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead? Would you have Jesus as you Lord?