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I ask because of noting how chapter 1 of Romans deals with the person of Christ – who he is – while not dealing with what he has done to save sinners until chapter 3. Could this be significant? I read the following comments in a magazine yesterday:

“The evangel of God, (which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) concerning his Son Iesous-christos 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.” Romans 1:1-4

"In these opening verses of the epistle to the saints at Rome Paul summarizes the evangel. One thing stands out above everything else: the evangel is concerned exclusively with the Son of God... In the apostolic evangel the person precedes the work and that is how it is preached... The cross is in chapter three but the Crucified is in chapter one. The blood of propitiation is in chapter 3:25 but the Propitiatory himself is in chapter 1:3,4. The evangel does not start with the work of Christos, it starts with the Worker, Christos himself. Apostolic preaching does not commence with what the Son of God has done. It commences with whom he is; it declares his person." (Article 'The Son of God' in 'The Ministry', Spring 2020.)

Is Paul's intent to deliberately present the person of Christ before explaining the gospel of Christ, perhaps because that one has to be believed in first before his gospel can be believed?

This question requires exegesis into the apostle Paul's writing at the start of Romans, the first 4 verses. It will also require spotting a subtle change in the topic from chapter 1 and the start of chapter 3. The topic is still Jesus Christ. Why does he not make the gospel of Christ the start in chapter 1? No personal opinions will help with this question for it requires examining the author's intent, not the reader's personal opinion.

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  • Your own answer to this question may be of interest :-) Jan 20 at 17:53
  • Consider how the OT saints were ‘’’saved’’’ - Now ask whether you can be saved without knowing who Jesus Christ of the scriptures really is.
    – Dave
    Jan 20 at 19:30
  • @Dave Yes, I know they were saved by faith before Jesus appeared on earth. But this is not a general question about salvation. It is a specific Q about the first 4 verses in the book of Romans, addressed to Christians. Christ had come and had returned to heaven when this was written. So, what is the significance of Paul going into who this Christ is, before detailing what Christ did? Or, if you think there is no significance you will pass this Q by. Strangely, with 3 votes to remove this Q, it seems it is disturbing to some.
    – Anne
    Jan 21 at 14:31
  • Paul is writing to believers whom he has never met. They have not yet heard ‘his’ gospel - the gospel of grace given to him (Paul). So that’s why he has to start from this [neutral] position. - I hadn’t noted the ‘close’ votes - one aspect of this forum that I personally don’t appreciate is downvoting or voting to close without forwarding any position/reason. - this [downvote/close] tool is essential for discussion, with ‘reasons’ they make you think.
    – Dave
    Jan 21 at 18:42

8 Answers 8

1
+100

Is Paul's intent to deliberately present the person of Christ before explaining the gospel of Christ, perhaps because that one has to be believed in first before his gospel can be believed?


A - The intent of the authors of the NT writings :

  1. Matthew 2. Mark 3. Luke 4. John 5. Peter 6. James 7. Jude 8. Hebrews 9 . Revelation

B - The intent of Paul in his Epistles

C - The intent of Paul in Romans


A1 Matthew

Matthew records Jesus’ generation, 1:1ff, his birth, 1:18ff, the response of a king to ‘the king of the Jews’, 2:1ff , and his baptism, 4:1ff, making clear the manner of his coming and whom he is, before one single word of his discourses or parables is documented.

The person whose words are then reported is ‘the son of David’ yet not the son of Joseph. He is the King of the Jews, but not the reigning king. He is the Son of God, as identified by a voice from heaven, not as so presented by any body on earth.

Thus the kingdom of the heavens (literal), which he preaches, is not of this present world.

Matthew introduces the Person (of the King), and thereafter introduces the concept (of the kingdom).

A2 Mark

In his first verses, Mark highlights the prophecy of Malachi and thereby alludes to the Messenger of the Covenant, who is ’the Lord himself’. The rest of the book, its mode of writing and its content, express the Message which the Messenger brings.

A3 Luke

Luke documents the visitation of Gabriel, the enunciation, the birth, the preparatory ministry of John, the genealogy of Jesus (through Joseph) back to Adam, and Jesus’ formative years in Nazareth. This is one come of woman, who, though heralded like none other, is one among us : a Saviour.

Only seen as such, does he speak.

A4 John

In chapter one, John sets forth The Logos, 1:1, God, 1:1, The Light, 1:6, The Monogenes, 1:18, The Lamb of God, 1:29, The Son of God, 1:34, a Master, 1:38, The Messiah, 1:41, The King of Israel, 1:49, and The Son of man (The Son, come of man), 1:51.

Ten titles, before John even begins to unfold the seven signs which make up the book. The signs signify Him. And it is He who is believed on, John 20:31, not the signs for their own sake.

A5 Peter

In his epistles, Peter states immediately that his status (apostleship) derives from the person of Jesus Christ 1:1:1 and he then defines that person as ‘Saviour’, 2:1:1, then as ‘Lord’, 1:3:1 and 2:1:2, and further makes clear that the remainder of his second epistle is a matter of ‘the knowledge of Him’, 2:1:3 - not the bare knowledge of doctrinal facts.

A6 James

James addresses the diaspora and his is a ‘transitional’ epistle written to scattered Jews and introducing the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ which he does not begin to write of until the second chapter. Rather, he identifies, right at the beginning, that Jesus of Nazareth is both ‘Lord’ and ‘Christ’.

Anything further is within that context, even though many of those scattered persons he addresses would have no deep understanding of Christian doctrine, at that time.

They had, however, something of value. And that in ‘much every way‘. They had influences upon them, as Jews in Israel. Progress from that to something greater, and better, would only be through Him who is ‘Lord’ and ‘Christ’.

A7 Jude

Jude, in the opening of his epistle, addresses those who are ‘preserved in Jesus Christ. and he closes the epistle saying ‘unto him that is able to keep you from falling’. All of his warnings and exhortations are bracketed within this acknowledgment : that Jesus Christ, in Person, is the only one who can preserve believers and can keep them from falling.

Outside of that protection - of He who protects - there is no safety.

A8 Hebrews

The first three chapters of the epistle to the Hebrews are an extensive consideration of just whom is the one through whom God now speaks, in these last days. Chapter after chapter, comparisons are made : with angels and with Moses : before anything is considered about the actual content of that speech.

A9 Revelation

At the very outset, the book is put into context. It is the Revelation not of things to come, not of future historical details : it is the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

Everything in the book is centred upon him who stands upon Mount Zion. Ultimately, it is to him that the nations gather and it is He who, once judgment is fully effected, is in the midst.


B - Paul’s intent in his epistles

In First Corinthians, in the first three verses, Paul draws attention to Jesus Christ, to Christ Jesus, to Jesus Christ our Lord and to the Lord Jesus Christ. The subtle differences of title indicate different aspects of the one Person, appropriate to the following epistle..

Then he beseeches them to unity, and asks ‘Is Christ divided ?’ Paul’s focus is on the Person of Christ in regard to unity. He sees a divided Church as a divided Christ.

Galatians begins with Christ giving himself to deliver before going on to explain, in full, the doctrine of deliverance.

Ephesians begins with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the fact that we only have a God and a Father at all, within Christ, before the blessings of that God and the blessings of that Father are seen in detail.

Philippians unfolds with the servants of Christ, the day of Jesus Christ, the bowels of Jesus Christ, the day, again, of Jesus Christ, my bonds in Christ, brethren in the Lord, the preaching of Christ, the Spirit of Jesus Christ . . . . Indeed, to me to live is Christ.

Everything is of Christ, everything is in Christ.


Time fails to cover all the epistles of Paul.

Thus to Romans, to focus fully on the latter part of the question.


The Intent of Paul in Romans

It is noticeable that Romans begins with Paul’s appeal to antiquity, that the gospel had been promised afore by the prophets and within the context of scripture itself. And what an appeal that is, that the gospel preached by Paul was not only promised by prophetic utterance but that that utterance was, itself, scripture.

Yet the content of that gospel, which Paul was about to lay out in a unique way (as nowhere else has it ever been spread forth in detail in any other document upon earth) that gospel he asserts - that of antiquity, that of prophetic promise, that of scripture itself - concerns the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

The gospel which God himself had promised in antiquity, via the prophets, conveyed in scripture, has this content : Jesus Christ. And not only seen and titled as such, but, more precisely identified : his Son.

Before plunging into the two chapters which, majestically and masterfully, sweep across the entire world - past, present and future - and bring every human upon earth to a point where each single individual is without excuse, is proved to be under sin, is demonstrated to be utterly indebted to the Creator, and is without any righteousness of their own : and before uttering this devastating and universal condemnation of the entire human race, Paul first - first before addressing the ghastly, the horrific, the crushing and truly slaughtering condemnation of all the seed of Adam - first he focuses on the one whom the gospel actually concerns - the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

Were it not so, were the gospel focused on the ghastly and shattering state of all humanity on earth, then would one despair indeed, right at the start and one would collapse, morally, spiritually, and possibly physically, with the impossible situation within which one might well give up all hope of any salvation whatsoever.

But not so, for the gospel is not come to expose humanity and leave it bereft. It is come to express the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

And so it does, page after page, dictated to Tertius by the one-time Pharisee who kicked against the goads and sought to destroy the church, and hailed men and women into prison for following Jesus of Nazareth.

This One stood before Saul on the way to Damascus.

And now Paul sets this One forth, the Son of God Jesus Christ, as he opens his epistle : for the gospel is about Him, His person first - and then is expounded how this Person has wrought salvation on behalf of others.

Thank God, that it is so.

Thanks be to God.

4

Body Question 1:
Is Paul's intent to deliberately present the person of Christ before explaining the gospel of Christ, perhaps because that one has to be believed in first before his gospel can be believed?

No. I don't think this is the reason he does this. I think it's good to keep in mind that Paul is talking to those who are already believers:

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. -Romans 1:8

These people already believed in the Gospel. So, instead of trying to get the people to believe in the Gospel, he is reminding them of the Gospel so as to bring about greater obedience to the Gospel.

14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. 15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. 18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience— by word and deed, ... -Romans 15:14-18

It seems that Paul saw it fit to go over some core aspects of the Gospel and to relate them to specific spiritual issues the Romans were going through to best address some of the main controversies and enable them to more fully be in obedience to the Gospel. The Gospel, in this context, is used as a means to bring the Romans into greater submission to the gospel.

The idea of bringing the Gentiles to obedience seems to be the core objective of this letter for he begins with it in the first chapter:

Romans 1:5-6 5 ...we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations [Gentiles], 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

And ends with it in the final chapter:

25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations [Gentiles], according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— -Romans 16:25-26

Circling back to Romans 1-4,
I don't think Paul was trying to describe what is the minimally essential knowledge all potential Christians must know before being saved - it doesn't seem necessary that you have to know Jesus is the son of David to be saved for example. Instead, Paul appears to be authoritatively credentialing himself as the author of the letter whose primary objective is to bring about the obedience of faith to the Gospel. He does this by authoritatively credentialling the key figure of the Gospel, the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom Paul is an apostle and by whom Paul is sent for the very purpose of bringing about this aforementioned obedience by way of reminding them of various core and relevant truths regarding the Gospel.

Body Question 2:
Why does he not make the gospel of Christ the start in chapter 1?

So, I'm not sure if this is where you are heading, but some like to make a distinction between multiple gospels:

  • The gospel of Christ (Romans 1:9)
  • The gospel of God (Romans 1:1) -or the Gospel of the Kingdom of God (Matt 24:14; Mark 1:14; Luke 4:43; John 3:3)
  • And the Gospel of Paul (Romans 2:16 - as if it's his own gospel).

This effort, however, may seem a bit misguided in light of the teaching of Christ:

20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” John 13:20

Here Jesus explains that the message of the one who he sends is equal to the message of Jesus whose message is equal to the message of Him who sent Jesus. So therefore Paul being an Apostle, an official representative of Christ sent directly by Jesus, is talking about the same Gospel whether he is referring to it as of God or of His Son or of himself.

That said, I perceive your question to be asking something along the lines of, why does it take Paul till chapter 3 to begin discussing the specific activity and impact of Christ that are so essential to the Gospel?

Well, to really appreciate the salvific nature of what Christ has done, you need to have some appreciation of what you need saving from. So it seems here that Paul lays the groundwork to firmly establish why it is and from what it is that we all need salvation:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth -Romans 1:18

He affirms that it is our own ungodliness and unrighteousness that has got us into this horrible mess and from which we need salvation. But he's not done:

9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, -Romans 3:9

He also firmly establishes that neither Jew nor Gentile are any better off and that both are imprisoned under sin and need rescue so that the Gospel of Christ is appropriately contextualized such that it is abundantly clear its vitality for the eternal good of both Jews and Greeks alike.

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, -Romans 3:21-24

Notice the use of the word "all" in the above passage. All are sinners and all have justification, grace, and redemption through Jesus Christ. All include both Jews and Greeks and so Paul took his time through chapters 1 and 2 and much of 3 to establish that they all equally and desperately need the gospel and gospel solutions to their practical problems relating to meshing both Jew and Greek together into one united gospel family.

5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:5-7


Note:
Is it possible to have saving faith in Jesus Christ if one has misunderstood who the Jesus Christ of scripture really is? Romans 1:1-4

This question seems to be a bit different than the one asked in the body of your post. Obviously, you can't have faith in Jesus without knowing who he really is, but I don't believe you need to have perfect knowledge of who he really is otherwise I suspect that none of us would have achieved such a standard at the time we each might claim we had saving faith. Indeed I don't claim to have such knowledge even now, 30 years after my baptism. I imagine it all depends on the degree of misunderstanding.

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  • Another answer has likewise pointed out that his readers already knew the gospel, so that's fair comment. However, when you quote "for the sake of his name among all the nations including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ", that gives the link to who they believe in, and belong to, which the Gentiles must be called to believe in, which will result in them belonging to this Jesus. It's not about having total knowledge of who Christ is, but those first 4 verses spell out the essential knowledge as to who this Jesus really is. This is the significant link between my 2 Qs.
    – Anne
    Jan 26 at 10:48
  • 1
    @Anne, that is the significant link as you've described, but they do end up being very different questions. One is with regard to what is essential knowledge regarding salvation. The other is what was Paul's intention when he wrote what he wrote. I don't think Paul was trying to describe what is the minimally essential knowledge all potential Christians must know before being saved. So I don't think the title question really relates that well to the body question such that by answering one you necessarily gain significant insight into the other.
    – Austin
    Jan 26 at 11:11
  • 2
    (+1) A well balanced answer anchored firmly on the text.
    – Steve Taylor
    Jan 26 at 11:28
  • 1
    @Austin - I must take responsibility for the edit to the main question by emphasising REALLY. I see Anne rejected it, and possibly for the reasons you mention in your Note. My bad!
    – Lesley
    Jan 26 at 17:38
  • 1
    @Anne, I've updated the answer so as to better address Body question #2. I hope it helps.
    – Austin
    Jan 27 at 21:43
3

Paul’s writings have been well examined so that his style is known. One of his characteristics is of starting his epistle with a particular topic, only to go on to something else before returning to the first point, but he never flitted randomly about, as unthinking people do. So, at the start of Romans he seems to quickly go off topic. His introduction is about the gospel of God, regarding the Son (verse 1). He longs to visit them to strengthen their faith by preaching this gospel (verse 14). He sets forth the claim that this gospel is the power of God for the salvation of those who have faith in it (verse 16).

Then he seems to change the subject, speaking at length about ungodly Gentiles who will be judged by God, and pious Jews who will also be judged. This runs on from 1:18 through to 3:20 with only one brief mention of Christ and the gospel in 2:16, about the future work of Christ regarding judgment. Then the topic is Abraham’s faith, pre-Christ.

Yet this is not a detour. As with all of Paul’s writings he carefully prepares the ground for his main points. Those were stated in 1:1-4 then returned to in 3:21-31, once he had established the basis for God’s judgment of ungodly, or self-righteous, people. The link is in 2:16: that “God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ as my gospel declares.”

From 3:21 he makes his first mention of what Christ has actually done (past tense). Chapters five and six really delve into what Jesus had done, unpacking the significance of all that, and the freedom believers in Jesus Christ now have because of what Jesus did.

Paul’s authorial intent is shown – who is this Christ? How does Jesus contrast with unrighteous sinners, so that this Christ can judge everyone? What did this Christ do to establish the basis for this judgment? This is about WHO to have faith in, and WHY – because of WHAT this one has done. That is the order Paul chooses to follow. Such an order is not surprising given how Saul was converted.

Saul did not become Paul the Christian due to first learning what Jesus of Nazareth had done, either for him or for others. No, Christ literally stopped Saul in his tracks by confronting him with the sin Saul was guilty of in persecuting Christ. Saul had no idea who this Jesus REALLY was, or of what Christians believed him to be. Saul, as he was then, met the person of the risen Christ, and his life was forever changed. After that dramatic encounter with the living Christ, he then began to learn what Jesus had done. Is it any surprise, therefore, that the transformed Paul would write about the person of Christ?

This is how he starts to present the gospel at the start of Romans – by stating five facts about who Christ is, in the space of four verses. (1) God promised his coming through prophets of old; (2) made according to the flesh; (3) made of the seed of David; (4) declared of the Holy Spirit; (5) declared by the resurrection to be his Son.

None of those five things were about anything that Jesus had done. Yet due to those five statements about who this Jesus is, then it becomes clear why true faith has to be in the one who truly is the Son of God. This is shown in these quotes from this book about Paul’s writing, by Edgar H. Andrews:

“Paul’s gospel did not originate with man, neither was he commissioned by men such as the other apostles. Gospel and commission alike derived from the risen Christ who had met him, so fatefully, on the Damascus road.” Page 12

“Normally, the word ‘gospel’ in the New Testament has a very broad scope. When Paul preached the gospel, he preached ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’ (Eph. 3:8).” Page 14

Yet today, as then, men preach many things in the name of the gospel which are not centred upon Christ. They preach Christian ethics, church history, systems of doctrine, ecclesiology, religious experience, eschatology – yes, even the Bible, without preaching Christ. Paul’s gospel was a Christ-centred gospel, for he knew no other. The very purpose of the gospel is to provide a bride for Christ… How can the gospel be anything but ‘the gospel of God… concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord’? (Rom. 1:1-3)” Page 16-17

“Too often we forget that to preach the gospel fully we must preach ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’ (Eph. 3:8)… if we preach a lesser Christ than the glorious person revealed in Scripture, we falsify the gospel by subtraction.” Page 31 (‘Free in Christ’ Evangelical Press 1996)

A final quote, this one from Matthew Henry’s ‘Commentary’ on Romans 1:1-7:

II. Having mentioned the gospel of God, he digresses, to give us an encomium of it.

1. The antiquity of it: it was promised before (v.2); it was no novel upstart doctrine, but of ancient standing in the promises and prophecies of the old Testament, which did all unanimously point at the gospel, the morning-beams that ushered in the sun of righteousness; this not by word of mouth only, but in the scriptures.

2. The subject matter of it: it is concerning Christ (v. 3, 4). The prophets and apostles all bear witness to him; he is the true treasure hid in the field of the scriptures. Observe, When Paul mentions Christ, how he heaps up his names and titles, his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, as one that took a pleasure in speaking of him; and, having mentioned him, he cannot go on in his discourse without some expression of love and honour, as here, where in one person he shows us his two distinct natures. (1.) His human nature: Made of the seed of David (v. 3), that is, born of the virgin Mary, who was of the house of David (Lu. 1:27), as was Joseph his supposed father, Lu. 2:4. David is here mentioned, because of the special promises made to him concerning the Messiah, especially his kingly office; 2 Sa. 7:12; Ps. 132:11, compared with Lu. 1:32, 33. (2.) His divine nature: Declared to be the Son of God (v. 4), the Son of God by eternal generation, or, as it is here explained, according to the Spirit of holiness. According to the flesh, that is, his human nature, he was of the seed of David; but, according to the Spirit of holiness, that is, the divine nature (as he is said to be quickened by the Spirit, 1 Pt. 3:18, compared with 2 Co. 13:4), he is the Son of God. The great proof or demonstration of this is his resurrection from the dead, which proved it effectually and undeniably. The sign of the prophet Jonas, Christ's resurrection, was intended for the last conviction, Mt. 12:39, 40. Those that would not be convinced by that would be convinced by nothing. So that we have here a summary of the gospel doctrine concerning Christ's two natures in one person.

Source: https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary/matthew-henry-complete/romans/1

I would only add that the people to whom Paul wrote had already heard the gospel message, and they knew what Jesus had done. Of course, that was true of all the people he wrote to, yet in many of his other epistles he explains what Jesus had done in detail. This letter to Christians in Rome, however, covers many deeply theological topics, which seems to make it all the more significant that he chose to begin by stating those fundamental facts as to who Jesus Christ is.

People who don’t grasp just who Jesus Christ REALLY is, as listed in those first four verses, are in danger of believing a false gospel, “which is no gospel at all” – Galatians 1:6-12.

2

It is my firm conviction that Paul understands the Gospel in light of the OT. In that order too, he doesn’t start with the conclusion and work backwards, he starts with the context and draws onto a conclusion. Meaning if the answer cannot be found or arrived at using the OT, it is out of context and therefore very likely also incorrect.

Jesus Himself explains this issue asked by the OP very well and with a little expounding of Scripture it might become more evident for the reader who is looking backwards on the chronology of events rather than starting in the OT and looking forward to its natural progression.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” ‭‭John‬ ‭6:44‬ ‭

When reading this text one must be looking from the perspective of an OT believer who is awaiting a promised deliverer

Jesus elaborates on v44 by quoting Isaiah

“It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—” ‭‭John‬ ‭6:45‬ ‭

The passage I’ve address here and essentially I summarized it as follows

  1. Father reveals His plan in Scriptures
  2. Whoever believes the Scriptures gets drawn by the Father through the Scriptures to Jesus
  3. Whoever accepts Jesus meets the Father through Jesus.

This is EXTREMELY important, because if someone arrives at Jesus and claims to believe in Him but does not believe the OT, he has found another Jesus; and likewise if someone claims to believe the OT but rejects Jesus, they (at least according to the Father who draws them to Jesus by means of the Scriptures) have not believed the OT.

“since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;” ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:23‬ ‭

And true the word points to Jesus, culminates with Jesus, is hyper focused on Jesus and Jesus Himself is referred to as being the Word, but the word is paramount, otherwise it’s IMPOSSIBLE to arrive at Jesus

I would argue that Paul sees it this way for says as much

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭1:16‬ ‭

The gospel or the good news is found in the OT, God had good news throughout the OT, it was about Jesus but it’s the power of the gospel, the WORD that saves a person and the best way to know the word is to be taught by God

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:14-15, 17‬ ‭

It is a mistake to start midway. First the good news which is found in the OT needs to be preached. When it is heard, if faith in the word comes, then God draws the person to Jesus. And that’s why they meet the real Jesus. Telling people about what Jesus did without context, context of Eden, the world flood, Babel and the splitting of nations, the splitting of Israel and Judah, the promised Messiah, is a recipe for heresy. The chronology and the authenticity of the OT and its prophetic indicators are guard rails to keep from false Christs and false doctrines

Paul preached the whole counsel of God and he took hours, days and weeks to do so

“So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭1:15‬ ‭

Jesus likewise did the same

“And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭24:25-27‬ ‭

It was only after the word was preached that they then had their eyes opened and were able to see Jesus, after the Father drew them.

That is the order prescribed and exemplified all throughout the NT

Now reread the first four verses and look at the emphasis placed on the OT or the gospel (which is found in the OT) and which points, validates and authenticates the person of Christ Jesus

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭1:1-4‬ ‭

1

This evangel that was promised before is concerning God's Son. It shows he is like all men, a union of two elements flesh, and spirit. As to his flesh he was a descendent of David, but as to His spirit, He was from God.

For as the Father has life in Himself, so also He has granted the Son to have life in Himself. John 5:26

He never entered the presence of death without vanquishing it. The only man that was ever raised out of the dead.

Paul starts out this gospel with good news of a man being raised out of the dead. People need to know the name of this man. Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is alive.

That is with the first four verses in Romans bring to light. A man that was raised out of the dead and is alive now… Yes you can speak to Him now and call on his name. He hears because He is alive.

It's his resurrection that is so important and here's another example in Scripture of the resurrection of a man that evokes mockery of people or others wanting to hear more.

Acts 17:22-31 Is a great way that Paul Witness to the pagans in Athens. It was at the end of his speech talking to them when he told them about this man who had been raised from the dead that caused such a reaction. Some mocked about someone being raised from the dead and others wanted to hear more. It's important that people know that Jesus was a man who had been resurrected from the dead.

He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.”

32When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some began to mock him, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this topic.” Acts 17:32-34

When people want to hear more then you can tell them about themselves as stated in Romans 1 -2 and then share the good news in Romans three.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, Rom 1:6

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  • When you say "he is like all men", are you ruling out his incarnation? When you say it is his resurrection that is so important (and it most certainly is!) are you placing the stress on what happened to this man, more so than on who this unique person actually is? Just seeking a bit of clarity here.
    – Anne
    Jan 29 at 9:31
  • @Anne. Regarding His Son, who was a descendant of David according to the flesh, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. We know He emptied Himself, having taken the form of a servant, having been made in the likeness of men. He did not inherit death and sin from Adam because His Father was God. And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
    – Sherrie
    Jan 29 at 15:32
  • When the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman. Remember Jesus Christ, raised out of the dead, of the seed of David, according to my good news. 2Tim: 2:8. It was the resurrection out of the dead that proved who Jesus Christ was. This is what I meant when I said "It shows he is like all men, a union of two elements flesh, and spirit. As to his flesh he was a descendent of David, but as to His spirit, He was from God." I think you made a great point with your question showing how important it is to establish who Jesus is first and then go on and share what He did on the cross
    – Sherrie
    Jan 29 at 15:34
  • Faith needs to be grounded on the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. I delivered to you in the foremost what also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised the third day according to the Scriptures, 1:Cor.15:3-4 Hope this adds clarity to what made Jesus unique from all other men.
    – Sherrie
    Jan 29 at 15:35
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    @Anne I really did not want to debate it just was curious as to your views… But I totally understand to leave it be. I always appreciate you're respectful attitude on this website.
    – Sherrie
    Feb 1 at 15:51
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The OP’s question is difficult to answer because Jesus is the Word of God. He is both the message and messenger. To realize that the one cannot be separated from the other may be the first step to understanding and faith.

In Romans the flow of thought begins with the person of the Son, then precedes to the Father, and from there to "all those who believe" (Rom 3:22). To understand who the Son is, it is necessary to understand who the Father is. But the goal for Paul in choosing this line of thought was to arrive at a better understanding of who the disciples of Christ are called to be.

The issue of identity was a source of tension among the members of the church in Rome, who were struggling to reconcile the difference in “attitudes towards Mosaic Law” between the Jewish-Christians and Gentile-Christians believers [Mbwangi 2020] (http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0259-94222020000400017). One of Paul’s primary purposes in writing this letter was to address and resolve those differences. He was writing to those who already believed in Christ. Beyond laying the foundation for faith, he was trying to help them better understand their own identity as the children of God. The person of Christ was presented first because in him lies the key to the identity of all God's children.

In Romans 1:2-4 Paul presents two aspects of Jesus’ person. On the one hand, he is a descendant of David. History and genealogy define who he is according to the flesh, but Jesus is the firstborn Son of God according to the Spirit (Rom 8:29). His disciples can likewise be viewed from these two aspects. Some are Greek and others are Jews according to the flesh, but all are called to be the children of God by adoption through the Spirit (Rom 8:14-15). For God is God not only of Israel but of all creation and every person, whether they acknowledge him or not (Rom 1:20, 28). And it is by the Spirit, not the flesh nor any external sign, that determines the identity of God’s children.

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. 29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is of the heart, by the Spirit – Rom 2:28-29

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons and daughters of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons and daughters by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” – Rom 8:14-15

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Rom 10:12-13

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Because humans are humans, NOBODY fully understands Jesus. The fact that anyone is saved is ample testament to God's great saving grace.

John 1:14 - The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.b We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth.

We also have Rom 1:18 - a few verse beyond the one quoted by the OP:

Rom 1:18 - The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.

Rom 2:14-16 - Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. So they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts either accusing or defending them on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Christ Jesus,b as proclaimed by my gospel.

We could take this one step further to illustrate the point. Nobody in the OT understood who Jesus was and how salvation theory worked. Many were saved without this knowledge. Even the prophets did not understand some the things they wrote (eg Dan 8:27).

Therefore, while all are given some revelation of God (Rom 1:18-22) and many act instinctively according to the moral law without a specific knowledge of it (Rom 2:14-16), such people can still be saved if they continue to act in good faith according the amount of information they have.

This is a silent lesson to those of us who have enjoyed great privileges with the God's revelation through the Bible and its record of the Greatest revelation of God, namely Jesus:

Luke 12:48 - But the one who unknowingly does things worthy of punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from him who has been entrusted with much, even more will be demanded.

About Rom 1:1-4

Paul, in Rom 1:1-4, is simply saying that it is by Jesus Christ that we have salvation at all. That is, Jesus and His sacrifice of atonement are the means of salvation. This remains true whether we understand this or not. [Just a oil in a car engine prevents ceasing whether we understand it or not.]

That is, belief and perfect understanding of soteriology is not a work we do in order to earn salvation. Salvation is granted to all people.

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    @steveowen The first Adam was made in the image of God, so for his maker to be "the last Adam", "the second man is the Lord from heaven" shows a startling shared likeness. Also, "death reigned from Adam... who is the figure of him to come" [Jesus] 1 Cor.15:45-47 & Rom.6:14. I know you will interpret those verses differently but this is to support what Dottard has said in his answer re. that. Appreciate your supportive comments under my Q, by the way.
    – Anne
    Jan 23 at 17:11
  • Your penultimate paragraph seems to miss the point about the first 4 verses in Romans. It is precisely because no mention is made of Jesus' sacrifice or salvation (until chapter 3) that my question arises.
    – Anne
    Jan 25 at 9:55
  • @Anne - the atonement is not explicit but implicit - that the the subject and raison d'etre of the GOSPEL which is mentioned twice. Indeed, it mentioned several more times in the following verses as well as "salvation" (V16). Further, the word "atonement" does not occur in Romans at all. The closest we get is propitiation in Rom 3:25 but not for salvation but justification of God.
    – Dottard
    Jan 25 at 10:21
  • @Anne - so what then, is your question?
    – Dottard
    Jan 25 at 10:24
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The “Who” of the Savior and the “What-He-Did-for-Saving” are completely inseparable, for we know the first through the second, that is to say, we empirically observe His words and deeds, and through Holy Spirit understand that He is God and cannot be anybody less than God, but also, not identifiable with God the Father, thus “Son of God” being the best theological title and appellation to Him, for every son bears the entirety of the father’s essence, being essentially 100% equal to the father.

Now, the very beginning of the Romans show this, for we have a clear cause-effect relationship between the deeds and the Person, for the appellation of "Son of God" is conditioned and caused by the fact, the empirically observable and observed and believable as empirically observed (by the first witnesses) fact, that He rose up from the dead through power of the Holy Spirit: (περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ ....τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ Θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν /Romans 1:3/). For who can have authority to rise His own body from dead unless God (John 10:18).

Exactly this is in complete compliance with the logic of the Gospels, for the very reason for which the Lord Himself reprimands Jews in not believing Him is that they turn their blind eye to His deeds, exactly which deeds show and reveal Him as the Son of God: "If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father" (John 15:24). And also words, for He speaks as somebody who is above the words spoken by the holy prophets themselves, not simply quoting them and then interpreting, but as the one holding authority (Matthew 7:29), that is to say, changing the very wording of the prophetic logia, legislating new laws and testaments (Matthew 26:28) different from them ("I give you new law" /John 13:34/), which only a blasphemer or God can be authorized to do and Christ is not the former to be sure.

Now, is it possible to do His commandments without believing who He is, that is to say, the Son of God and God? Absolutely impossible by His own words, for He says that without Him we cannot do His commandments (John 15:5), and to do His commandments with Him means that He Himself works within our hearts, inside the very depths of our essences as Paul says clearly (Colossians 1:29), for His grace and His power must dwell within us that we may be able to do His deeds (2 Cor. 12:9) in synergy (1 Cor. 3:9) with Him. And without doing His commandments we cannot love Him (John 14:15), and if we do not have Son for not loving Him, neither shall we have the Father (1 John 2:23), for all benevolences of the Father to humans are in and through Him (2 Cor. 1:20), and nobody can be saved without receiving the benevolences from Him through and only through the Son (which is ontological necessity),for the very verb "be saved" and its derivative noun "salvation", means being full of divine benevolences.

In fact, Jesus Christ leaves us not a slightest possibility of considering Him as a plain tolerable man without honoring Him just as the Father is honored (John 5:23), for either we honor Him on equal grounds with the Father, that is to say, as God, or we condemn and anathematize Him, but then we cannot be doing this anathematizing in Holy Spirit, for the presence of the Latter in us necessitates our inability of anathematizing Christ, and also, our confession of His Godhead (1 Cor. 12:3).

Thus: no salvation with wrong Christology, be it Arian (and its modern heir Jehovah Witnesser) or Nestorian, or Monophysite, or Monothelite etc.

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  • 1
    Have removed the post notice as you have included quotes. Not a fan of 'embroidering' citations like this though - the answer feels more like it's using scripture to substantiate a particular view, rather than exegeting the text of Romans to give a convincing case of what Paul himself intended. It still feels like the answer itself isn't really based on the text in any meaningful way. Answering a question about Romans without beginning from and focusing on Romans (or other Pauline texts) is sort of missing the point.
    – Steve Taylor
    Jan 28 at 13:31
  • 1
    @SteveTaylor We have discussed this: yours is analytical approach, which I find not compelling, adhering to the tradition of the Church fathers, who apply a holistic approach, which I find by far more adequate. If Federer starts making slices, I will not understand this by considering the slices by themselves, but only by considering the entire match: what did not work well, why and in which game had he started to use slices, and how is this shift related to the stage of his entire game now etc. Then we can have more adequate vision on Federer's slices even in this particular moment of play. Jan 28 at 13:50
  • 1
    @LevanGigineishvili - the question explicitly specified, in bold, the need for exegesis of Romans 1. If you have not provided this, then you have not adequately read nor answered the question. The early church fathers were certainly not shy about studying a particular biblical text and explaining what it meant. I recall Barnabas' exegesis of the scapegoat was particularly compelling the first time I read the Apostolic Fathers.
    – Steve Taylor
    Jan 28 at 13:52
  • 1
    @SteveTaylor And exactly that what I have done, if you looked at it carefully: I have clearly indicated that even in the very first quote adduced in the OP there is a cause-effect relationship of a) deed of Christ - the Resurrection and b) the "who" of Christ, that is to say, His Godhead, the Sonship of God, for only God can have done such a deed. As to the fathers, they freely and without qualms exegisized and explained one aporia of a Bible through other Biblical texts, and that is a correct attitude. Jan 28 at 13:57
  • Theological synthesis is great, but it's not the topic of this site. It belongs on Christianity or Mi Yodeya. Answers on this site are meant to help us understand specific passages more. I don't think this is an invalid answer that needs to be deleted, but it's also not a great answer, as Romans 1 is only discussed in passing.
    – curiousdannii
    Jan 30 at 5:17

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