In the introduction of his letter to the Romans, Paul continues to elaborate on his call – “Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1: 5-6)
Paul’s call came through Jesus
Paul's call came directly from Jesus - “As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?' And he said, 'Who are You, Lord?' Then the Lord said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' So he, trembling and astonished, said, 'Lord, what do You want me to do?' Then the Lord said to him, 'Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.'” (Acts 9: 3-6)
Through Jesus Paul received grace
In the above verses from Romans, the word 'grace' refers to the power and equipment for ministry. After Paul met Jesus on the Damascus road, he went into Damascus and was blind for three days, and did not eat or drink during this time. God told a disciple of Christ named Ananias in a vision to go to where Paul was. He was told that Paul was praying. Ananias went to Paul, laid his hands on Paul and said to him - “...Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 9: 17b)
The word 'apostleship' in the above verses from Romans is from the Greek 'apostole' meaning 'a sending, or a mission.' Paul was commissioned directly by Jesus Christ to take the gospel to the Gentiles (Vine 55). Paul received grace and apostleship in order to fulfill God's claims and commands (Vine 795). God had a mission for Paul to fulfill, and God equipped him for the mission. Paul recognized that the gospel was for all 'nations.' The Greek word here for nations is 'ethnos' and refers to nations, or gentiles; those who were distinct from Israel (Vine 774). In Psalms 2: 7-8, it was prophesied that Jesus would inherit 'the nations' - “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession.'” Isaiah prophesied - “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.” (Isaiah 42: 1) and “I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, and will hold your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house.” (Isaiah 42: 6-7) Isaiah also prophesied how the Holy One, or Messiah would be a light to Gentile nations - “Indeed He says, 'It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.'” (Isaiah 49: 6)
The gospel was and is for all people
Paul had met the risen Lord, and knew that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah. Paul also understood that the gospel was not just for the Jewish people, but for all nations. Paul magnified the name of Jesus and proclaimed what He had done for all people. Paul said that the Romans he was writing to were also 'the called' of Jesus Christ. God's call can be defined as 'that act of grace by which he invites men to accept by faith the salvation provided by Christ' (Thiessen 265). God proclaimed through Isaiah - “For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, 'Seek Me in vain'; I, the Lord, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you who have escaped from the nations. They have no knowledge, who carry the wood of their carved image, and pray to a god that cannot save. Tell and bring forth your case; Yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the Lord? And there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me. Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45: 18-22) If you are following ‘another’ god; not the living and true God of the Bible, would you consider what Jesus has done for you? The entire Bible is a story of redemption. God wants you to come to Him and trust His love for you. He wants you to know that your sins have been paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross. There are so many different gods or idols that you can choose to follow; but none of them can give you eternal life. Only Jesus has risen from the dead. Only Jesus has paid the price for your sins. If you trust His righteousness, and not your own righteousness, you can rest in Him. Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He died for you. Won’t you turn your heart and life over to Him…
Thiessen, Henry Clarence. Lectures in Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1979.
Vine, W.E.. An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Nashville: Royal Publishers, 1952.