Romans 1:2-4 meaning

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Romans 1:2
  • Romans 1:3
  • Romans 1:4

Paul is establishing the facts of the gospel: that Jesus was promised in the Old Testament, he was born of David, was God and man, and was resurrected from the dead.

The good news of Jesus the Messiah is promised in the Old Testament holy Scriptures. The first promise of a deliverer who will redeem humanity and the earth from the curse is found immediately after the fall in Genesis 3:15. It seems Eve believed she had birthed a divine deliverer when she birthed Cain. From that time forward the promise of a divine deliverer permeates the Scriptures. An example is from Isaiah 53:11,

“By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.”

The Jews understood this, and at the time of Jesus there was extreme expectancy awaiting the promised Messiah, but the good news Jesus brought was not presented as the rulers expected it would be, so they rejected Him. This resulted in Jesus’ death on the cross, which covered the sins of all humanity including Gentiles (non-Jews). The deliverance from the penalty, the power, and inevitably of the presence of sin is the best news ever told, and there was nothing new about it in the time of Paul other than the reality of its fulfillment.

The central figure in the good news entrusted to the Apostle Paul is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was born a descendant of David and was (according to the genealogies of Matthew and Luke) the rightful heir to the throne of David as King of Israel (2 Samuel 7:13); Jesus was the adopted first son of the rightful heir to the throne, Joseph, as well as the promised son through Mary who was also a descendent of King David. Although Paul is writing to an audience that is primarily Gentile, the contesting authorities who slander Paul are Jewish like Paul. It is likely that Paul is establishing that he is in no way unraveling the Jewishness of Jesus, or of the “Holy Scriptures” (verse 2). He is going to establish that the good news he presents is consistent with Jesus King of Israel, as well as the message of the Old Testament, while the message of the Jewish authorities slandering Paul’s good news is not just wrong, but also corrupt.

Paul makes clear to these devout and renowned Roman believers that he believes in the Jesus who resurrected from the dead. The power of the resurrection is the power of God to deliver humanity from the penalty, the power, and eventually the presence of sin. The resurrection is central to God’s good news. The gospel writers are adamant that any teacher is false who does not proclaim the divinity as well as the humanity of Jesus along with the factual reality of the resurrection. Here Paul is declaring early in the letter that he is a true Apostle with true beliefs in the person of Jesus as opposed to his detractors who slander his message.

The Spirit of God is the agent through which the resurrection occurred. Paul will later emphasize that this same Spirit resides in each believer and empowers them to live a life brimming with this same resurrection power over sin in their daily living, a power apprehended through faith.

Biblical Text

2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,

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