Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 1 Study # 7
Thesis: Believers are, as their most basic identity, The Called who belong to Jesus Christ.
Introduction: In our last study, which was not recorded for those who study with us by CD because of my oversight in respect to the microphone, we considered Paul as an example of all believers who have received a specific form of grace in view of God's overall plan for His Church as the ruling echelon of His coming Kingdom. In that study we considered the reality that God is seeking "obedience" from men. It is fundamentally impossible to establish a glorious kingdom if those who are to inhabit it are not going to "obey" their King and serve one another. The issue in the preaching of the Gospel, therefore, is not whether God has aimed at "obedience", or not; the issue is, rather, how that obedience shall be brought to pass. Paul's answer in verse 5 is that all "obedience" arises from faith...belief in Truth. Now, this evening, we come to the end of his self-introduction. He has said that he is a bondservant, a called apostle, and a recipient of grace to bring obedience to pass among the nations. At this end of his self-introduction, he turns his readers' thoughts to their place in respect to his identity: they are among the nations that are under the scope of his stewardship as an apostle. For our consideration tonight, we want to look into Paul's characterization of them as it is given in verse 6.
March 2, 2004
- I. The Importance of Paul's Characterization of His Readers.
- A. Is highlighted by the fact that it is introductory.
- 1. Introductions are designed to be very brief.
- 2. As such, they are deliberately 'seed-form'.
- a. The brevity forces the author to choose words that bring as much as possible under one roof.
- b. This pursuit of conceptual seeds makes the words chosen to express the introduction "means" that bring major highlights into play.
- B. Is that we find what is at ground-zero in Paul's thinking about his stewardship.
- 1. We have already been told by Paul that his stewardship is focused upon bringing obedience to God into being in the lives of people from every possible national background.
- 2. With that humanly impossible task in mind, it is highly illuminating to discover where Paul's mind ran when he was faced with the enormity of the task and his own responsibilities in respect to it.
- a. If Paul was without understanding, he could easily think that he had been placed in an impossible situation which he would be held accountable to resolve.
- b. But Paul was not without understanding, so he did not think that way: rather, he not only saw how it would be resolved, but he shared it by means of his words.
- II. The Nature of Paul's Characterization of His Readers.
- A. The problems related to the translation of the word "called".
- 1. The translators seem to have missed the point almost altogether because they did not consider the difference between an adjective and a verb and the ease with which an adjective can, by ellipsis, become the equivalent of a noun [see the study notes on Romans 1:6].
- a. In Greek, a verb can be turned into the equivalent of a noun by using the definite article with a participle; thus, Paul had a perfectly legitimate language form to bring the verbal idea into play if he had wanted to do that.
- b. That he used an adjective pretty much eliminates translations that make the word a verb.
- 2. The fact that the word is an adjective that is used in an elliptical phrase means that Paul in introducing his reader's fundamental identity: they are The Called.
- a. This is Paul's exact terminology in Romans 8:28.
- b. The mission word(s) in the ellipsis is/are also given in this very context: Romans 9:24-26 (where 'people', 'beloved', and 'children of the living God' are the supplied words).
- c. And, the missing word in Paul's introduction is very like the one in verse 7 (saints).
- B. The genitive phrase to which the calling is connected: Jesus Christ's.
- 1. The genitive pretty much rules out instrumentality: they are not "The Called by Jesus..."
- 2. The genitive almost has to mean "possession": they are "The Called who belong to Jesus Christ."
- 3. The significance of the Name at this place.
- a. Jesus is the name that is tied to His function as Savior.
- b. Christ is the title that is tied to His function as King.
- c. Because Paul has already summarized the content of the Gospel in both of these terms in verses 3-4, it is apparent that the Roman believers are being viewed in terms of their relationship to the Savior King in respect to both "deliverance" and "stewardship" issues.
- III. The Theological Point
- A. Paul was given the impossible stewardship.
- B. The impossibility became a reality, however, because the grace that was given to him was also extended to The Called from among the nations who were going to be drawn into a working relationship to the Savior King.
- 1. Paul's point is that Grace is at work.
- 2. We are to embrace the Grace so that we become "obedient out of faith" as those who have not only been justified by faith, but who are also being fortified into good stewards by that same grace.