In this passage, the human author of the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul, introduces himself to the Christians of Rome. He begins by explaining who he is. First of all, he says that he is a servant, or slave, of Christ Jesus. The word, Christ, literally means “anointed one,” and refers to Jesus’ identity as the Messiah of the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, He was prophesied to be both God and man, and would come to earth to die for people’s sins, and come back to life.
In addition to being a slave of Christ Jesus, Paul introduces himself as being called as an apostle, or one who is sent. The One who called him to be an apostle was God. Also, he is not only an apostle, but is set apart for the gospel, or good news, of God. Paul explains that this good news was promised by God in the Old Testament, and had as its subject matter God’s Son. In verse 3, Paul explains that God’s Son was a descendant of King David, the most famous king of Israel, with whom God made a promise that He would cause one of his descendants to rule an eternal kingdom. However, not only was God’s Son a human descendant of David, but Paul says that He was revealed to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead. In other words, one of the proofs that Jesus is God is that He was raised from the dead. In verse 4, Paul calls the resurrected Christ “our Lord,” implying that He is the God of Paul and the Roman Christians.
In verse 5, Paul says that the Lord is the One who gave Paul grace, or undeserved blessing, and his apostleship for the purpose of making Gentiles obey God by believing in the gospel. Paul adds that this salvation was for the sake of the Lord’s name, or identity. In addition, he says that the Romans are among those Gentiles, and are those whom God called, and who belong to the Lord.
In verse 7, Paul officially addresses the church by calling them people who are loved by God, and who were called as saints, or ones who especially belong to God. Then, he wishes them undeserved blessing and an inner peace from their Father and their Savior.
In verse 8, Paul tells the Romans that he thanks God for them. Then, in the next verse, he presents further evidence for his thanksgiving by saying that he always asks God to bring him to them in his prayers. In verse 11, he explains that he wants to go to them so that he can give them a spiritual gift to establish them. At that time, they probably had not had any of the Apostles come to them to teach them what they had been revealed by the Lord, so he probably intended to teach them those things to make sure that they knew the Apostolic doctrines. However, he also meant that he wanted them to encourage each other in person.
In verse 13, Paul explains that he often had planned to go to the Romans so that he could obtain fruit among them, meaning Christian growth, and ultimately more evangelism. In the next two verses, he explains that he has an obligation to come to them, as they are barbarians, or those who are neither Jews nor Greeks. In fact, he says that he is eager to preach the gospel to them.
In verse 16, he explains how he can be eager to preach the gospel to the Romans. It is because he is not ashamed of the gospel. The reason that he is not ashamed of it is because it is God’s power for the salvation of everyone who believes in it. When he says, “to the Jew first and also to the Greek,” he means that the gospel was first God’s power for salvation to Jewish believers, and then became God’s power for the salvation of Greek believers.
In verse 17, Paul explains how the gospel is God’s power for the salvation of believers. The way in which it brings about salvation is by revealing God’s righteousness to those who believe in it. This revelation happens from faith to faith, or only through faith in the gospel, from the beginning of salvation, to the completion of salvation. As the rest of the verse explains, the result of the revelation of God’s righteousness to those who believe in the gospel is that they are considered righteous by God, and eternally live by faith.