“And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.
And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.
And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee. But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.
And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.
And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves. And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” Acts 28:16-31
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ…
Delivered by the Jews into the hands of the Romans, just like his Master, Paul’s experience recounted in these closing words in the book of Acts presents us with some striking similarities to that of the Saviour of whom Paul preached, the Lord Jesus Christ. Before his final missionary journeys to the far corners of the Roman empire, and his eventual execution at the hands of the Romans, we read here of Paul’s time spent in house-arrest at Rome, during which he preached the kingdom of God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, unto all who came unto him. But behind all this is seen the remarkable way in which the message of God’s grace was delivered to the Romans, that ‘faith which was once delivered unto the saints’.
Separated unto the gospel of God…
By the time Paul reached Rome a church had already been established in that city. This is that church, that assembly of the saints in Rome to whom Paul’s epistle to the Romans was addressed. But how had the message of Jesus Christ already travelled so far, before Paul, God’s messenger of the Gospel unto the Gentiles, had even set foot in that city? The answer may be seen in the close of the Gospels and the opening chapters of the Acts of the Apostles.
…concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh
Jesus Christ having been handed over by the Jews into the hands of the Romans, an innocent man against whom were laid false accusations, was left to the mercy of the people when Pilate, the Roman governor of Judaea, who wished to release him, asked, “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?”, to which the people replied, “Let him be crucified.” Matthew 27:22
“And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.”
And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness…
So Christ, this man of Nazareth, was taken to a place called Golgotha, nailed to a cross and lifted up in the heat of the sun to die, “And set over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabach-thani? That is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
“Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.”
By the resurrection from the dead
And truly He was the Son of God for…
“In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week , came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.”
The women having run to tell the other disciples, those disciples then…
“…went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:16-20
These things being done the opening chapter of Acts tells of the promises made to the disciples by Jesus just before His ascension,
“And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:4-11
By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations
The dramatic fulfilment of these promises came soon after on the day of Pentecost:
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” Acts 2:1-11
This remarkable event preceded Peter’s powerful declaration of the work of Christ, a declaration which culminated with the salvation of three thousand souls on that one day who, believing the message delivered unto them, then “continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts 2:42
It is amongst this diverse company of people drawn “out of every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5) that a people were saved, both Jews and Gentiles, who would then take the news of these things back with them to the city of Rome, where they began to meet as a company of people who believed on Jesus Christ of Nazareth. It is this people, and the others who would come to be gathered with them, to whom Paul addressed his epistle to the Romans. And it is that epistle and the Gospel which it sets forth, which is the subject of this very website.
Paul… to all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints
But what was the purpose of Paul’s writing – why write to the saints at Rome who had already believed on Christ? Romans 1 declares Paul’s desire to “preach the Gospel to you that are at Rome also”, but in the meantime he would set forth that very Gospel in the form of an epistle, a letter, which was delivered to those gathered at Rome. To what end? “To the end that ye may be established.” Established in what? In the truth of that Gospel, which up to that point the saints in Rome knew but in measure, but now they should know in such a way, in such fullness, as to be established in the faith. The means which Paul employs to this end is the doctrinal exposition of the truth - the truth of just who Christ is and just what He did when He laid down His life upon the cross. Paul wrote to answer the questions that lay behind the facts. To put the sinews on the bones. To present not just the truth that Christ died, but why He died, and for whom He died. To present not just the truth that Christ was crucified, but to reveal just what happened when He hung upon the tree, when the light of the sun was taken away for three hours and the face of the earth was darkened. It is these, and many other such-like questions, which Paul answers and which he opens up, in this most profound, this most complete and most glorious of epistles – the epistle to the Romans.
In Romans the apostle Paul, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, presents to us the truth of God’s Gospel concerning His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. In this tremendous epistle we read God’s message to mankind regarding His work through the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ, by which He has saved His people from their sins. Here is a message greater than any other. A message which is vital. A message which concerns you and me. A message of life and death, of heaven and hell, time and eternity, sin and salvation. A message of truth. The only message which really matters. The Gospel of God.
But what do we know of the Gospel? What do you know of the Gospel? That Gospel of which Paul was not ashamed, knowing it to be the power of God unto salvation: “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith”.
In the following articles we will look into the truth of this Gospel as it is revealed in the epistle to the Romans. That Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation. That message which we need to hear above all others. That message upon which our life depends.
The Gospel of His Son
Paul introduces his epistle to the Romans with these words:
“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 1:1-7).
Oh, the stupendous truths set forth in these opening sentences! In a few words Paul summarises that message which God gave to him to declare, a message he preached even unto the ends of the earth, even to those at Rome.
This message is God’s message. It is His to declare, His to apply. He sends it by the mouths of those, like Paul, whom He calls and sends to preach it. And the message declares a person. That man of Nazareth, that man of Galilee, that man who was crucified on a tree between two thieves, even Jesus Christ – the Son of God.
Yes, the Son of God. The One who created the heavens and the earth, the One who created mankind upon that earth, the One who was Himself “made of the seed of David”, made man, yet very God, in order to redeem that people, whom the Father gave Him, from their sins. How? Through death, His death upon a cross, in the place of that people who themselves deserved to die. For “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). But to what end? To this end: “Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living” (Romans 14:9).
Your Lord? My Lord? Surely, for whether we be dead or alive, Christ is Lord of all. And though death may hold us in unbelief, though death may blind us to who that man of Nazareth really was, though we may not care whether we be found on the right hand or the left of that crucified One, though death may have such power over man in his sin, nevertheless death had no power to keep Christ in the grave. Yea, could death hold the Son of God, did death hold the Son of God? No, for He was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). Oh, the power of His resurrection!
What truths there are set forth in just these opening verses. What depths to be dug, what riches to be unearthed! Oh, that God, in the person of Jesus Christ, should be pleased to be made man, to be “made of the seed of David according to the flesh”, to be “made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death” (Hebrews 2:9), in order to redeem His own. Oh, that He should come in the lineage of David, born in Bethlehem the city of David, of that royal line in order to be that Prophet, Priest and King of all His people to whom the promises made to Israel pertained. Yet, these are the truths that Paul preached, and these are the truths of which he wrote, which he but hints at in these opening verses – and this is that message he took to all nations “for obedience to the faith”, that through faith, they believing might be saved.
This is the message of Romans. And this message is known as the “Gospel of God… concerning His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
What follows in the next sixteen chapters are not facts to be proved or reasoned out, but truth to be believed. What follows is the truth of the Gospel of God – ‘The Faith’.
A Message of Faith
This truth, this message, is a message of faith. Having introduced himself Paul then presents the Gospel of Christ, the Son of God (first His Person, and then His work), as facts, as truth to be believed. Paul doesn’t seek to prove the truth, but to state it, to proclaim it, to preach it. And as the message he preaches is of God, so too Paul’s own sending to preach that message, as the “LORD’S messenger in the LORD’S message” (Haggai 1:13), is very much a part of that Gospel which he presents. For the Gospel is entirely of God. He purposed it, He wrought it, He fulfilled it and He preaches it – and He does so by His Spirit through those whom He sends to preach.
Not only that, but this message of the Gospel which is to be believed is God’s message to be believed. It is presented to the belief of faith, it was wrought by faith, it is received by faith, it is “from faith to faith”, and so much is faith at the heart of its very message that scripture even refers to the Gospel itself as ‘The Faith’ – “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3).
With this in mind, the following articles have been divided into seven sections which present the truth of the Gospel, as God wrought it, and Paul preached it, under the following titles:
The Word of Faith
The Want of Faith
The Coming of Faith
The Fight of Faith
The People of Faith
The Life of Faith
And, The Faith Once Delivered
May the Lord be pleased to bless His word for His glory.