The King of Kings

The first few times I read through the opening of the Epistle to the Romans (1.1-7) it appeared to me that the Apostle was presenting a sort of Chalcedonian Christology. In v. 3 we have reference to Jesus being the Messiah (Son of God) because he is the seed of King David according to the flesh (κατὰ σάρκα). In v. 4 we have Jesus being declared Messiah according to the Spirit (κατὰ πνεῦμα). As I understood it this was an example of the dual nature of Christ.

I know now that I read that into the text.

The more and more I read over the passage it appeared to be saying something different. Jesus is qualified to be the Messiah, the son of God, because he is a descendant of King David. Yet this does not make one Messiah. In what sense was Jesus declared to be the descendant of David that was the Messiah? For Paul, it was the resurrection which happened because of the Holy Spirit (or Spirit of holiness).

The statement that he was a Davidic descendant κατὰ σάρκα  made Jesus a messianic candidate; the statement that he was resurrected κατὰ πνεῦμα means he is the descendant who is declared to fulfill the throne of David.

Nevertheless, I still paused at κατὰ σάρκα. Why did Paul emphasize that Jesus was qualified as a human or on the basis of his human lineage? Did this indicate deity? No, this doesn’t appear to be the case. Paul speaks of himself and his fellow Jews as descendants of Abraham according to the flesh in 4.1. We know there is no dual nature there. I have concluded that the opening to the epistle says nothing directly about the deity of Christ.