Romans 1:5 NASB
“through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake,”
Paul continues his thought from the previous passage that Jesus is the one through whom he received grace. It is only by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross that grace was made possible to Paul and to us. This letter of introduction gives a train of thought that flows like this:
1. God’s purpose was to give us a gospel (good news).
2. Promised by the prophets of old according to God’s infallible Word.
3. Made possible by Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah.
4. Verified in His position as the Son of God by the resurrection.
5. Which has now enabled us to receive grace.
This perfect harmony of God’s workings, purposes and perfect execution of the plan to save His people is laid out for us in the first five verses of Romans.
On the other hand, as Paul reveals his apostleship has been received by Jesus as well, this passage does not refer to us as did the first part regarding grace. The greek word apostole “a sending, a mission” was a title reserved for a small group of people, it was an authority and role in the early church that only those who witnessed the resurrected Christ were allowed to have (Acts 1:22). Paul was sent by Jesus himself and received this position of apostleship only because Paul was a witness to Jesus, on the road to Damascus where his life was forever changed. Though the idea of what an apostle does (one sent forth) still exists today in the form of missionaries and evangelists, we must not claim the position of an apostle because that is not for our taking. The work of sending people out to share the gospel will continue till the return of Jesus but we must be very careful to not assume positions God has not reserved for us. There are Christian movements today, that seek to reinstate “apostolic” positions and authorities. Don’t be fooled! God knew what He was doing 2000 years ago by putting these limitations on the church, let’s trust His wisdom and not assume positions that has not been given.
Paul continues to show that the grace given him and his apostleship are for the purpose of bringing about the obedience of faith for the Gentiles. That’s us! This letter is written to Jewish Christian’s and he is writing them to help them better understand God’s big picture plan to incorporate all the nations into His plan of salvation. It may have been very easy for Jewish Christian’s to believe that they were going to be the sole receivers of grace because they are the true descendants of Abraham according to the flesh and faith in Jesus. But Paul is opening the can of worms and showing them that God has had His eyes on the world. His plan of salvation was never going to be restricted to the physical descendants of Abraham but ANY who would have faith in Jesus and obedience to Him. We get a glimpse of this plan through the Proselytes of Judaism. Non Jews who were outside of the faith could come in and become a Proselyte. Essentially they’d adopt all Jewish customs, traditions and faith in the God of the Torah. Outsiders can now come in and are welcome into the faith of Jesus Christ. The difference is that the Proselytes had to become Jewish and observe the Law, now Gentiles can live in faith and obedience to Jesus without living under the weight of the Law, they’ll be under the Law of Liberty. And all of this is done to glory of God and by His sovereign will.