His Letter to the Romans is Paul’s most systematic exposition of the message that he preached both to Jew and Greek. It seems that, wishing to visit the church in Rome and to gain their support for the mission to Spain (see 15:24), Paul spells out his gospel in a systematic way so that his readers will have confidence to receive and support him.
While Paul elaborates his message in great detail, the first section (1:1-7) forms a ‘capsule summary’ of his message. It is informative to read it, and to see Paul’s stated purpose in preaching his message: it is to ‘bring about [the] obedience of faith’ (1:5) in all the nations. He repeats this in his final words, that what God has disclosed is ‘to bring about [the] obedience of faith’ (16:26).
What is this “obedience of faith”? It is not “obedience that flows from faith,” but rather, “faith that consists in obedience.” If we ask “Whom do we obey when we believe,” the answer is clear. It is the One to whom all authority in heaven and upon earth has been given, to whom we are called to submit as his disciples, keeping his commandments (see Mt.28:18-20).
It is no coincidence that the Lordship of Jesus is the focus of Paul’s ‘capsule summary’ in Rom.1.
In this passage, he first identified himself as Paul, a servant, who has been set apart for the gospel of God. V.2 commences with a ‘which,’ so he’s going to say something about this ‘gospel’ that God has given him.
- it was promised beforehand in the Scriptures through God’s prophets.
- it is about God’s Son. (Note: Paul does not say that it is about our forgiveness at this point.)
Now the Apostle tells us something about this Son of God:
- he was descended from King David, according to the flesh
- he was declared to be God’s Son in power, according to the Holy Spirit
- he is none other than Jesus Christ our Lord!
Through telling this message among all the nations, God is calling people to belong to Jesus Christ.
So there, in brief, is the summary. The gospel is about the Lord Jesus, and in it God is calling people to obedient faith or trust in the glorified Son of David. That is why the consistent message recorded by Luke in the Book of Acts is that Jesus Christ is Lord through his resurrection from the dead, and that we are all called by God to become his disciples.
Of course, there is much more to be said! Romans goes on to spell out the costs, and the benefits of becoming disciples of Jesus, eg. sins forgiven, a new identity, the gift of the Spirit and gifts from the Spirit, and so on. But the starting point of salvation is accepting that Jesus is Lord, putting our trust in him, and becoming his disciples.