Study of Romans as given by Dr. James Montgomery Boice: Romans 1:1-2
1Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God- 2the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures.
The most important word in this first chapter is “gospel”. Paul uses this word six times in chapter 1. We read at the beginning of the first verse of Romans 1 that Paul is “set apart for the gospel of God…” As we move into verse 2 Paul begins to elaborate on what this gospel is. It is a gospel that was promised beforehand by His prophets. This gospel is the Christ, it is about His son. Paul understood the enormity of the gospel and because of this it was his desire to preach this gospel (verse 9). In verses 15 and 17 Paul speaks again as to his eagerness to preach the gospel. Paul is compelled to preach the gospel, to preach Jesus Christ. He is not ashamed of this gospel, he can barely contain himself with preaching the gospel. He is not ashamed because he has a full realization that the gospel is salvation to all who believe. There is a righteousness that is revealed from God found in the gospel. Paul had such a strong desire to preach the gospel that he was willing to give his life to do so, and on a few occasions he was left for dead. Paul would have taken death over not being able to preach the gospel that is tell the news of Jesus Christ and salvation through Christ.
- The Great Good News
- Evangelion is the Greek word for gospel which means “good news”. Most of us know that gospel means “good news”, but we stop there. We don’t consider the full weight of the definition.
- Apart from Christianity most, if not all, of the world religions are not good news. Apart from Christianity all of the world religions are “works” religions.
- Other religions tell you to find peace, happiness, or contentment by your efforts. You must do these things to reach a particular god.
- There is no work that can be done that will help any individual reach God. God’s holiness makes it impossible for us to reach him through works.
- Paul discovered this. Paul had followed a religion of strictly defined laws. He discovered that those laws were not the way to peace or to God.
- In our day many people have sought happiness in the religion of “no religion”.
- If there is no God and we are free to do as we please with no accountability, it may seem like joyous freedom.
- If there is no accountability, what we do with this “freedom” becomes meaningless. If what we do is meaningless, we must be meaningless too.
- The gospel is good news for 2 reasons
- It tells us that God is actually there.
- It tells us that God loves us and has reached out to save us through the work of Jesus Christ.
- We sing because he has chosen us and we are happy about it.
- A “Promised” Gospel
- The second thing Paul says about this gospel is that it was “promised beforehand” through God’s prophets.
- The gospel of the salvation of men by God through the work of Jesus Christ was no novelty.
- The gospel was the goal to which all prior revelations of God during the OT period led. We find this affirmed in evry surviving exaomple of the apostolic preaching.
- The preaching of Paul
- The preaching of Philip
- The preaching of Peter
- The preaching of Jesus Christ
- This is the key to understanding the entire Old Testament. It is the key to understanding the New Testament. It is the key to understanding all history. God’s saving men and women through the work of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as he announced “beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures.”
- “The Holy Scriptures”
- The announcement of God’s good news is in writing, the writings of the prophets.
- Since it is in writing we are not to look elsewhere for it, as if God had chosen to reveal this news by mystical visions, through inward intimations, or in some other nonbiblical way.
- Second, the books of the Bible are special, holy writings, which means they are not mere human compositions but are the very words of God.
- The words contained in the Holy Text are God’s revelation to mankind.
- “…no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21)
- God’s Gospel
- Final point made by Paul is the same about the gospel is the same point he starts with. This is God’s gospel.
- This is something God announced and accomplished and which he sent the apostles to spread throughout the world.
- This gospel is something that God blesses and uses to save men and women.
- We must never forget Romans 2 “the gospel He promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures”. God’s grand gospel was a promise from the Old Testament and proclaimed by prophets God sent.
I keep going back to the end of Romans 1:1 and Romans 1:2, “1…set apart for the gospel of God. 2the gospel He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures.” Everything in these few words declares that ownership for the Gospel belongs to God. It was his plan to save men and women. Not only was the Gospel owned by God, but the means for proclaiming the Gospel were owned by God. “Set apart” refers to Paul, that same Paul who previously wanted to exterminate Christians, is now declared “set apart for the gospel of God.” As we will find out later this Gospel becomes the good news of Jesus Christ and in fact the Gospel is Jesus Christ. The Gospel is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to bring about redemption, salvation for those whom God has chosen. A point must be made and it must be made on a consistent basis. This Gospel, this work of redemption is solely owned by God and the work of God for the salvation of men and women.
I continue to make this point because we live in a time where men and women come up with creative ways to create their own gospel narrative. We live in a time where men and women want to shape their own gospel story to fit their ideology, their lifestyle. Men and women and their own gospel in order to clear them of all wrong doing against a great and holy God who judges all. Men and women want a gospel that allows them to live as they please and not face the consequences of guilt and shame for their offenses against a holy God. Men and women want a gospel that doesn’t include the God of the Bible. This is the road that leads to destruction, it is the road that leads men and women to eternal damnation. There is no escape though from the true Gospel of God and the message of that Gospel. That all have sinned, but Jesus Christ comes to redeem and bring salvation to men and women. That is the good news of the gospel, while we are all sinners God’s mercy and grace sent his son to die and to take on the sins of this chosen in or that they would be redeemed. Come now and accept God’s gospel.