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Romans 1:1-4 by Robert Dean
Series:Romans (2010)
Duration:56 mins 7 secs

The Humanity and Deity of Jesus
Romans 1:1–4
Romans Lesson #004
December 16, 2010

The life of Paul: four sections:

a)  His birth to his spiritual rebirth.

b)  From conversion to his first missionary journey.

c)  The three missionary journeys.

d)  Jerusalem, Rome and beyond.

In the period of from birth to conversion the most that we can guess is that he is born somewhere between AD 5 and 15, because at the time that Stephen was stoned we are told at the end of Acts 7 that the people laid their cloaks and garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. That term would be applied to someone probably not over 30 and not someone necessarily much younger than 20. He spends much of his time in Jerusalem, so we can identify each section of time with a general location. Regarding his background he states several times that he was of the tribe of Benjamin and a Pharisee. Philippians 3:5—a “Hebrew born of the Hebrews.” That is an important phrase because at the time of the early church in the first century there was a division between Hellenized Jews, those who were in the disapora; those who were in Judea, strictly following the traditions of the fathers and those who had become more attuned to the culture of the Greek civilization around them. Paul’s statement that he was a Hebrew born of the Hebrews is emphasizing his roots in first century Judaism and the fact that his family would have been strict observers of the Law. Galatians 1:13, 14 NASB “For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.” He tells us a little more in Philippians 3:4-6 NASB “Phil 3:4 although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.” Again he is emphasizing that in terms of obedience following the Torah he was consistent. If anybody could have worked their way into heaven and into God’s favour, then Paul could have done that.

Philippians 3:7-9 NASB “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from {the} Law…” So he is contrasting his first part of his life, between his birth and his conversion to Christianity, to be a time when he was consistently obedient to the Law, zealous and pursuing righteousness on the basis of the Torah more than any other. Then he recognized that that never would be good enough. “…but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which {comes} from God on the basis of faith” is the only basis for salvation: we are given righteousness that comes from God, it is not something we produce on our own.

Acts 22:3 NASB “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today.” There is some debate over the exact meaning of the phrase in that verse: that he was “brought up in this city.” Does that mean that Paul was moved there when he was very young and lived his whole life there? We know from another passage that he lived with his sister’s family in Jerusalem. Or did he come when he was about fourteen years of age. The verb that he was “brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel” is from the Greek word ANATREPHO which can also mean to train or to educate. So does that mean that he was there from when he was very young, or did he just receive his primary education and training as a rabbi in that city? It is probably better to understand it as being sent there when he was around fourteen to study under Gamaliel. There has even been some speculation that Saul of Tarsus contributed some portions in the Talmud as the brightest student of Gamaliel, though it can’t really be proven. There is a reference in the Talmud that there was an unnamed pupil of Gamaliel who manifested “impudence in matters of learning and tried to refute his master.” So there is speculation that that is an allusion to the apostle Paul.

Then the second period is from his conversion to being a missionary. That involves three locations. He is saved on the way to Damascus. He had received authorization from the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem to arrest those who were followers of Jesus, accuse them of being troublemakers, put them in prison (and in some cases they were executed). It was on the way to Damascus that Jesus appeared to him and said: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Saul is blinded by the light, commissioned by the Lord to take the gospel to the Gentiles, is sent to Damascus where his sight would be restored. 

He stayed in Damascus for three years and he had somewhat of an interesting ministry there. He was very confrontational in his approach to those who were hostile to Christianity. He was in Damascus for three years, and then on his first trip to Jerusalem he causes a lot of trouble. According to Galatians he is only there for fifteen days, then he was sent back to his hometown of Tarsus and there was peace in Jerusalem. He spent somewhere around ten to fourteen years in Tarsus where he ministers in obscurity for ten years. During that time it is the church in Antioch that is established and begins to grow and there is a desire to send out missionaries to carry the gospel. One of the leaders in the church at Antioch is Barnabas and he sends to Tarsus for Paul and brings him to Antioch. It is from the church in Antioch that he and Barnabas are sent out on the first missionary journey. They take with them a young man by the name of John Mark.

Paul goes on three missionary journeys. The first is rather short. He goes to Crete, the southern part of Turkey, the towns of Lystra, Derby, Iconia, Antioch in Pisidia; and they loop back to follow up on the churches they had started. Then they headed back to give an account back in Antioch. They were gone for a little over a year. They left in the April of AD 48 and were on the journey until September of 49. They go to Jerusalem for the Jerusalem council, and there is the second journey where he goes back and revisits some of the churches they went to the first time, then heads northwest at Troas. He goes across to Greece, to Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth, and then he goes back to Ephesus and then Antioch. On the third journey he will retrace his visit to Greece.

On the first journey he writes one book, Galatians; on the second he writes two books, 1 & 2 Thessalonians; on the third journey he retraces his visit to Greece from September of AD 53 to May of 57, and he writes three books, 1 & 2 Corinthians and Romans. Then he is on his way to Jerusalem at which time he will be arrested. He will appeal to Caesar and will be kept in somewhat soft house arrest in Caesarea, and then eventually is sent to Rome where he is under house arrest for two years before he is released. That takes us to the end of Acts, and the rest is sort of speculation based on some things said in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus and it is generally believed by most conservative Bible scholars that he went on a fourth journey which took him to Spain, possibly to England, back down to Crete, several cities in Macedonia and Greece. During this time he wrote 1 Timothy as well as Titus; then he is arrested again and imprisoned in Rome for approximately two years. This is when Nero burns down the city and blames it on the Christians. He is decapitated by Nero in AD 67.

Romans 1:1 NASB “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called {as} an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.” The phrase “the gospel of God” becomes really the head phrase for the next three verses. The next three verses are then going to explain more about the gospel. When we get to verse 2 we have the relative clause, “which He,” God the Father, “promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures.” So verse 2 explains the gospel: that the gospel didn’t just begin with Jesus, with Paul, it had its roots in the Old Testament. The Old Testament prophets are the ones who prepared the people, of God, Israel, to accept the Messiah. Paul immediately gets to the issue: he is separated to the gospel of God. And then we have a three-verse diversion where he makes several points related to the gospel. First of all it was promised through His prophets in the holy Scriptures. The standard procedure all through the New Testament is to take the reader back to Old Testament prophecies to show just how Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies.

Romans 1:3 NASB “concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh.” The claim that Paul is making here is that these prophecies were concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh. That verse focuses on the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in His humanity He is a descendant of David as prophesied in the Old Testament. So we see a movement in the prophecies from general to specific. Genesis 3:15 predicts that it will be the seed of the woman who will defeat the serpent (Satan), and we see the shift to the third person singular pronoun, “he”, meaning the seed of the woman, “shall bruise your head,” addressing the serpent, “and you shall trample on His heel.” It appears from this verse that what happens is, they each strike a fatal blow on the other. It is necessary for the seed of the woman to defeat the serpent through His own death and then He will be raised from the dead. This is fulfilled, Galatians 4:4 NASB “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law.” Only someone who is fully human can die as a substitute, a true, genuine, real substitute for human beings.

The second key prophecy is that the seed of the woman would come through a virgin birth. Isaiah 7:14 NASB “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah is addressing Ahaz who was one of the evil kings in the southern kingdom of Judah and it is at a time when the northern kingdom of Israel has gone in to an alliance with the Syrians and they are threatening to attack and conquer the southern kingdom of Judah. And not just that, but they want to replace the king in Jerusalem with someone of their own choosing. So it is a direct attack against the house of David. It goes back to the promise that God had made to David that there would always be someone from his descendants who would sit on the throne of David. The threat now is to the house of David and so God told Ahaz through Isaiah to ask for a sign. Ahaz in his false humility said he wasn’t going to do that, he wasn’t going to test God. Isaiah said the Lord would give him a sign anyway. “Behold a virgin” has an article, “the virgin; and the use of the article was designed to get his attention. There was a thread of thought within Judaism at that time of the Old Testament prophets that “the virgin” refers to the woman who will give birth to the seed. So the use of the article emphasizes a unique individual woman: that “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son.”

Then there are prophecies related to calling Jesus the Son of God. Psalm 2:7 identifies the Lord’s anointed, Heb. mashiach, as the Son of God; “this day I have begotten you” is fulfilled in passages such as Matthew 3:17 where at the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist a voice came from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” We also know that He will be a descendant of Abraham, Genesis 22:18 NASB “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” This is fulfilled in such passages as Matthew 1:1 NASB “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Galatians 3:16 NASB “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed". He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as {referring} to many, but {rather} to one, ‘And to your seed,’ that is, Christ.” Numbers 24:17 tells us that he will be a descendant from Jacob. NASB “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob…” So there is the allusion to a star, which is then fulfilled at the time of the birth of Jesus when there is a special star that is seen in the heavens.

Just a word about this star. Every year at Christmas time we are going to read in National Geographic or watch one of those specials on television where they are going to try to explain the star as a normal, natural phenomena. But this is not what we are referred to in Matthew’s magi account, because they saw a sign in the heavens, His star, and then they followed this star which took them directly to the house where the Lord Jesus was staying. Stars are so far away that they can’t indicate any particular individual house. So this was a special star, believed to be the glory of God, the Shekinah, that was shining to indicate the location of the birth of Jesus.

There is also the promise in Genesis 49:10 As Jacob was pronouncing prophecies over each of his sons. NASB “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him {shall be} the obedience of the peoples.” This has always been understood both by Jews and Christians as a messianic verse indicating that the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah. It is indicated in Luke 3 that Jesus’ descent is through the line of Judah. Jesus is also indicated as being a son of David. Isaiah 11:1 also points out that He is a descendant of Jesse, David’s father. Jeremiah 23:5 NASB “Behold, {the} days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land.” In Isaiah 11:1 & 10 the Messiah is indicated as a Branch coming out of the root of Jesse. Jesus is a Branch from David. Passages such as Luke 3:31 indicate that Jesus is of direct descent through Nathan the son of David. The heir of David could not some through the Solomonic line; it comes through the line of Nathan. The purpose for the genealogy in Matthew is to show that Joseph can’t be the Dad, because Joseph comes from Coniah.

He was born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2 NASB “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, {Too} little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” The only way to have somebody born in Bethlehem whose goings forth are from everlasting [eternity] is if the person that is born is also an eternal being. So again and again and again in the Old Testament these prophecies about the Messiah emphasize that he is going to be born of a woman, born of a virgin, born in the line of David; He is going to be true humanity but He is going to be called Mighty God, He is from everlasting. The attributes of deity are also assigned to Him. He is called Immanuel, Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23.

So in Romans 1:2, the first relative clause, Paul states that the gospel was promised beforehand by the prophets in the holy Scriptures. The second clause, the prepositional clause in verse 3, also refers back to head noun, the gospel. Verse 3 is an extension of verse 2; verse 3 is on the same line adding more information related to the gospel. The gospel was “concerning His Son,” Jesus Christ our Lord. There is an emphasis here that Jesus Christ is His Son. That emphasizes the pre-existence of Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus did not become the Son of God when He was physically born, when He was baptized by John the Baptist, or at the resurrection; He was eternally the Son of God, recognizing that the Father was eternally the Father. These are distinctions or titles that are made to indicate their respective functions and roles within the plan of God. But Jesus is eternally the Son. So He is referred to here, “concerning His Son”; and NKJV “Jesus,” the Hebrew word meaning Savior, “Christ,” the Greek word for the anointed one or appointed one, the equivalent of the Hebrew word “Messiah.”

There are prophecies in Isaiah that speak of the fact that the Messiah will appear and will heal many, give sight to the blind, and He will heal the lame. Isaiah 61 is one of those passages that emphasize the role of the Messiah and that this would be one of the signs. Another passage is Isaiah 53, which is one of the most specific prophecies about the death of the Messiah. In that chapter there are twelve things that are pointed out about the Messiah: He would be rejected by His people, He would be called a man of sorrows, that He would live a life of rejection and suffering. He was despised by others; He carried our sorrows, He was smitten and afflicted by God, indicating that he would be judged by God. He was pierced for our transgressions, indicating a substitutionary payment; He was wounded for our sins; He suffered like a lamb, showing that the sacrificial lamb was a picture of the substitutionary payment of Jesus for our sins. He would die with the wicked; He had two thieves on either side of Him on the cross; He was sinless and did not deserve the punishment that He received, He had committed no sin; and while He was being punished He prayed for others. Other passages such as Psalm 22:16 indicate that His hands and His feet would be pierced. Zechariah 12:10 indicates that His side would be pierced, and in Psalm 22:18 it indicates that they would cast lots for His garments. All of that was fulfilled as prophesied. In terms of chronology almost the precise week of His death was predicted in the revelation given to Daniel in Daniel 9:24-26. His resurrection is predicted in Psalm 16:10 and His ascension was predicted in Psalm 110:1.

Romans 1:3 addresses the human side, but the next verse addresses the divine side. So there is a parallel between the one born of the seed of David according to the flesh, i.e. in His humanity, and on the other side, Romans 1:4 NASB “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.” Note there that this phrase “declared the Son of God,” is a bad translation. He is not “declared,” that is not the meaning of the Greek word. The Greek word is HORIZO from which we get our English word “horizon.” Horizon is a definition, it defines the end of our sight; we can only see to the horizon. That is the meaning of the word, it is something that has boundaries; it is something that is set, something that is appointed or determined. So the best translation is that “He was appointed, not to be the Son of God, but to be the Son of God with power. He has always been the Son of God but with the resurrection and His ascension to the right hand of God the Father He is now in hypostatic union, and is awaiting the time that the Father will give Him the kingdom. The phrase “according to the Spirit of holiness” is the only time Paul uses it and it is another term for the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who is the one who enabled Him in His spiritual life during the incarnation.

Then we have the last phrase “by the resurrection from the dead,” which is the Greek phrase EX ANATASIA which indicates “out from the resurrection from the dead.” But the Greek preposition can also have the idea of cause, and can also indicate time or origin or a motive, and the best translation is the idea of cause—“because of the resurrection from the dead.” He is “appointed to be the Son of God with power because of the resurrection of the dead.” This is what prepares Him in His glorified state to then take on and conclude the role of being the Son of Man and establishing His kingdom.