Romans 1:1: Paul – Servant and Apostle
“Speed dating is a current practice where single men and women try to meet as many new men and women in an evening. Their meetings are timed, and in the assigned time they have to introduce themselves to complete strangers, hoping for Mr or Mrs Right to take an interest in them. Picture yourself sitting down at a table on a speed date, and then you begin by telling the stranger in front of you three things about yourself, what are they? As Paul begins his letter to the Romans, he is not trying to sell himself as a husband to the Roman church, however, they have never met him, and he wants to minister to them, and have them as a partner in the work of pioneer missions in Spain. Paul begins his letter with three descriptions that help the Romans see exactly who Paul is and what he is all about.
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.”
Romans is the longest of Paul’s letters, and fittingly, the introduction to Romans is the longest of all Paul’s introductions. You and I would not pick up on this unless pointed out, but Paul’s letter writing would have caught people’s attention. The average letter had a very simple introduction stating the author and recipients with a basic greeting. But Paul’s introduction tallies up 95 words. A regular introduction would have been, “Paul…To all those in Rome…Grace to you and peace….’ As you can tell Paul has put much more into the introduction. With reference to himself, the gospel, and his hearers he has added important points of information. We must ponder these deliberate deviations from convention in order to pick up on Paul’s main themes and intentions in this letter. Properly appreciating these additions will best prepare you for the rest of the letter. Let’s look at the added information about Paul as a messenger of the Gospel. “