“Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus…”

Romans 1.1-6 says a lot about how Paul self-identified. This section is one long sentence (NA27 and SBL GNT place a period after v. 7 and it seems most English translations do the same) where Paul sends his greetings to the church in Rome. Paul introduces himself with a long list of nominatives that modify his name as well as genitives that inform us about some of these nominatives. We learn that Paul is:

a slave of Christ Jesus

δοῦλος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ

a called apostle

κλητὸς ἀπόστολος

separated unto the gospel of God

ἀφωρισμένος εἰς εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ (“gospel” is in the accusative as the direct object)

This is Paul: a slave, a called apostle, and one who has been set aside or separated for a special purpose. His identity is in Messiah Jesus and his the gospel of God.

This gospel unto which Paul has been separated has some additional modifiers as well. The gospel is that which:

[God] foretold through his prophets

ὃ προεπηγγείλατο

through his prophets

διὰ τῶν προφητῶν αὐτοῦ

in holy scripture

ἐν γραφαῖς ἁγίαις

about his Son

περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ

the one born of the seed of David

τοῦ γενομένου ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ

according to the flesh

κατὰ σάρκα

who was declared the Son of God

τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ

with power

ἐν δυνάμει

according to the Spirit of holiness

κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης

raised from the dead

ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν

Jesus Christ

Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

our Lord

τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν

through whom we receive

διʼ οὗ ἐλάβομεν

grace and apostleship

χάριν καὶ ἀποστολὴν

unto the obedience of faith

εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως

among all the nations

ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν

for the sake of his name

ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ

among whom also are you

 ἐν οἷς ἐστε καὶ ὑμεῖς

called

κλητοὶ

of Jesus Christ

Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

The gospel was (1) foretold, (2) through the prophets, (3) in holy scripture. It is about the Son of God. The Son of God is the one who is a descendant of King David “according to the flesh.” The Son of God is declared to be the Son of God “with power” through the Holy Spirit who raised him from the dead.

This Son of God is Jesus Christ of whom Paul is said to be a slave. This Jesus is “Lord.” Jesus is the source of grace and apostleship for Paul. The apostleship is for the purpose of bringing all the nations to the obedience of faith for the sake/reputation of the God of Israel.

The Romans to whom he is writing are part of the nations to which Paul is an apostle. Paul called himself “called” and he tells the Romans that they are “called” as well. As with Paul, it is Jesus Christ who is the source of this calling.

Paul uses this long sentence to explain who he is and to explain what he is doing. Once he explains who he is in the gospel and in his relationship with Jesus the Messiah he must unpack the meaning of the gospel and the identity of Jesus.

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