You are on page 1of 18

Purpose of Paul the

Apostle in the Letter to


the Romans

Michał Gomułka
“The treatise style of the letter to the Romans gives rise to one of the most debated

questions about the letter: What was Paul‟s purpose in sending so heavy a theological exposition

to the Christians in Rome?”1 In the ages past people such as Martin Luther and Augustine of

Hippo have been converted while reading this particular epistle. Melanchthon called it a

“compendium of Christian doctrine.”2 This particular epistle has been read in the centuries past

by both believers and unbelievers. It is the longest letter composed by Apostle Paul3 and

considered by many to be a theological treatise. Writing letters in the 1st century was the most

common way of communication between people. There are actually many types of letters that

have survived; thus it is certainly helpful for those in the biblical backgrounds arena to

distinguish where the epistle to the Romans would fall under. For example, Philippians is a letter

written to friends.4 As we write essays or papers these days and are given certain guidelines back

then they also had guidelines for writing letters. The most common form consisted of an opening

that would include the greeting; χαρίς καί είρήνη.5 It was a normative way to start a letter and

was used by both Christians and unbelievers in the first century. Letters would also include a

thanksgiving, a reason that a particular individual might have for thanking the other party such as

sending a gift etc. Within the opening and the thanksgiving which for the sake of argument I will

call together as “introduction”, author would include his or her purpose for writing. In the

Christian circles today it is so common to omit the introduction and jump straight into the body

where as some say, “the best stuff is in.” One does much harm by ignoring the essential

introduction which is saturated with information. Within the introduction one will find the

Carson, D.A., and Douglas J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan,
2005. (pg. 403)
2
Ibid. (pg 402)
3
Paul actually dictated the letter to his secretary Tertius who wrote it. (Romans 16:22)
4
Gordon Fee, Commentary on Philippians.
5
“Grace and peace”

2
addressee. Second most debated question in Romans is, “To whom was the letter written?” I

believe that this is the question of first importance. Upon answering the above question one can

have a pretty clear idea the purpose Paul had in mind while writing Romans. This question will

be answered later on in the body of the paper. After the basic “introduction”6 there comes the

body and the conclusion. Such a style was very common to those in the Greco-Roman world.

Upon examining the basic style of letters; where does Roman fall under? Is it a letter written to

friends, companions, a group of people or is it a treatise? In answering this question as of second

importance one will also be able to assume the purpose that Paul had for writing Romans. This

question as well will be answered later on in the body of the paper.

Douglas Moo argues that the purpose in writing Romans can be determined only by fitting

the contents of the letter with its occasion.7 Many have argued that the purpose can be found 8in

Paul‟s own circumstances and needs as the occasion for writing it. First reason is that Paul was

beginning a new missionary campaign in Spain and he needed money (Romans 15:24-29).

Second reason is his experience that he had in Corinth and Galatia. Those circumstances moved

him to sum up his reflections on Judaism and the law to the church in Rome (Galatians,

Corinthians). Scholars who approve of this theory would also say that Paul was afraid for

Romans to fall into legalism. Third reason is that Paul was on his way to Jerusalem with a

collection and he asked for prayer that, “my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the

saints; so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God…”9 The above are the three main

reasons why Paul wrote to the Romans. In this paper from the letter itself I will argue that neither

6
By introduction I mean both the opening and thanksgiving. I will use the term in the same context throughout the
paper.
7
Moo, Douglas. The Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996.
8
Carson, D.A., and Douglas J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan,
2005. (pg. 404)
9
Romans 15:31-32

3
of the reasons above are correct. I will provide sufficient evidence from context to what I believe

is the purpose Paul had in mind while writing Romans.

It is vital to begin with the addressee; whom did Paul have in mind while writing

Romans? Essentially one might ask, “How big was the church in Rome? Who preached the

Gospel to them?” The answer is that the church in Rome was not big. Probably after the

Pentecost the Gospel has been preached by those who have been dispersed. In Romans 16:3 Paul

says to greet Prisca and Aquila. One can assume that these are the believers that reside in Rome.

I Corinthians 16:19 says, “…Aquila and Prisca greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church

that is in their house.” It is evident that the church in Rome was small and was meeting in houses

amongst whom was the house of Aquila and Prisca. Paul has never visited the church in Rome

(Romans 15:22-29) thus he must have had a particular purpose in order to write them this long

epistle. “To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and

peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”10 Yet who are all those in Rome? Are

they just Christian gentiles, Christian Jews or both? It is clearly evident from the letter itself that

Paul had both parties in mind. Paul wrote the letter to Jewish and gentile Christians who made up

the body of Christ in Rome. “I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the

wise and to the foolish.”11 Later he goes on to say in Romans 1:16 that the Gospel is first for a

Jew and then to a Greek. From 1:18-32 Paul accuses the gentiles and Jews that they are under the

wrath of God. In 2:1-29 he accuses the Jew in particular who is also under the wrath of God in

spite of the Law and circumcision. In chapter three he gives the benefits of being a Jew

according to the flesh and by the time he is done in verse twenty; Paul has accused and showed

that Jew and Gentile are all under the wrath of God who has no partiality! “For there is no

10
Romans 1:7 ESV
11
Romans 1:14 ESV

4
partiality with God.”12 Thus Paul demonstrates God‟s impartial judgment. The “excuse” in 1:20

has to do with the reality that these people have no legal defense for themselves. “O man” in 2:1

has to do with the fact that they are accused. In are modern day a good word for it would be “a

convict.” Why would Paul do this? Obviously he wanted to bring in justification by faith in Jesus

Christ as the only means of having peace with God (Romans 5:1). But why accuse the gentile

and the Jew? This is where the answer lays. When he was writing Romans Paul had both the Jew

and the Gentile in mind! He left no room for excuses, like a professional attorney he accused all!

Thus one can conclude that Paul was writing to both Jews and Gentiles. Why does he write in

Romans 8:15, “we cry out, Abba! Father!”? Notice that there is an exclamation mark after Abba

and Father. Sentence ends there. A Jew would cry out Abba and a Gentile (Greek) would cry out

Father (παηήρ). This is a universal call! Paul most definitely had both Jews and Gentiles in mind

when he was writing this letter. Romans 3:9 in this case would be a “key” verse, “What then?

Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and

Greeks, are under sin…” That word “all” is all over the place.13 It has to do with the fact that

Paul is addressing both parties. If one misses the correct addressee then the whole letter makes

no sense at all. Plausible evidence that Paul had both Jews and gentiles in mind while writing

Romans is the reference to Jesus as “our Lord.” He is the Savior to both groups14. It has been

established above that the recipient of the letter are both Jews and Greeks. One can now move on

to determine the type or the genre.

One glance at Romans can capture our thoughts toward a type that I would call a

“theological letter.” I do not have a better term thus this one must do for now. Since Romans is

addressed both to Jews and Gentiles in Rome one can assume that Paul will use a language that

12
Romans 2:11 NASB
13
Romans 1:5, 1:16, 2:9, 2:10, 3:9, 4:11, 5:12, 10:11-13, 15:33.
14
Romans 1:4, 4:24, 5:1, 5:11, 5:21, 6:23, 7:25, 8:39, 15:6, 15:30, 16:18, 16:20.

5
is understandable to both groups. Before proceeding any further it is necessary to state that in the

first century a Synagogue was mostly visited by gentiles and not only Jews according to the

flesh. There were two groups; proselytes and God-fearers. Proselytes were gentiles who actually

have been circumcised and thus became Jewish. Second group includes gentiles who are not

circumcised but fear God and are familiar with the Torah. When writing Romans Paul already

assumed that the language he uses will be understood by both groups. In Romans 7:1 he is

addressing the “brethren” who “know the law.” This would primarily be speaking about the

Jews. One might assume that the “Law language” is present throughout the letter yet it is not the

fact. Actually typical “slave language” and “adoption language” is used all over the place! Since

Rome ruled the world in the first century common legal terminologies were familiar to all. Thus

when Paul writes about the fact that all are under the wrath of God in Romans 1:18 and in 1:20,

that they have no excuse is right from the legal court language in the 1st century. Romans 6:23

has to do with the fact that slaves were paid wages thus sin is a master who pays by wages of

death. In contrast Jesus is a master who gives a free gift of eternal life! What a contrast! What I

am aiming at is that as much as people try to categorize Romans as a “theological treatise” or an

essay; they are missing the point! Romans in fact is a very practical letter. In Romans 1:1-7 Paul

gives the overview of the Gospel. He calls it the Gospel of God about His Son. As John Stott

said that” if we had not preached Jesus we did not preach the Gospel!” He mentions the

resurrection of Christ and moves unto the thanksgiving. He uses everyday language of the 1st

century in order to communicate eternal truths that both Jews and gentiles can grasp. Again, I

believe Romans to be a very practical letter.

At this time it is essential to prove why neither of the three popular purposes due justice

to why Paul wrote Romans in the first place. First of all, if Paul really needed money for his

6
campaign in Spain he would address that issue immediately! When he wrote to Philemon he

stressed his needs in a very clear way.15 If it really was the problem of Judaizers he would do

what he did in Galatians; no mercy! He did not even give a thanksgiving because he had no

reason for thanking! “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the

grace of Christ, for a different gospel…”16 Last plausible argument I believe can be made for the

offering to be given in Jerusalem yet it is not the primary issue but of second importance. There

is something so much greater that is happening in Romans and one does much harm by insisting

just on the fact that it is a long letter full of theology. It is true that theology is there. The

reformers found the justification by faith in it, yet that is not the only aspect of Romans but one

of the many! If one really grasps the impartiality of God‟s justice that He is Holy and that all are

without an excuse before His throne then justification by faith becomes truly precious. Romans

3:9-20 clearly tells us that there is none just not even one! Jew had his hope in the Law yet Paul

takes that away from him in Romans two. In Romans one Paul shows the sinfulness of the

gentiles through their actions and they are left without an excuse as well. At this point all mouths

are shot before God. Then comes Romans 3:21-31! Thank God for that! “But now apart from the

Law God‟s righteousness has been revealed…”17 As I have mentioned in the introduction it is

essential to look into the greeting of the author in order to determine the purpose of Romans. In

the rest of this paper I will show from Scripture primarily and logic secondarily the purpose that

Paul had while writing Romans. I believe that it was necessary for me to provide the information

that is above in order that one might understand the purpose of Romans.

15
Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required,
yet for love's sake I prefer to appeal to you--I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus-- I appeal
to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Philemon 8-10, ESV).
16
Galatians 1:6, NASB
17
Romans 3:21

7
Through the book of Romans one can notice two axioms that are laid out; the vertical and

the horizontal. The vertical has to do with what so many see in Romans and that is theology. It is

a level between God and man that is vital yet if only this becomes the pillar of study one will

miss the inseparable purpose that Paul had in mind and that is the horizontal level. On the

horizontal axiom Paul shows what the result of God‟s gifted righteousness and grace through

faith does in the life of believers. It is extremely important to understand these two levels in

Romans otherwise one will miss the purpose Paul had in mind while writing it.

Looking at the address one can notice in verse 1:5 an important issue, “Through whom

we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his

name among all the nations…” This statement is present here in the introduction and is

extremely important. In Romans 16:25-27 the same statement about bringing obedience of faith

to all the nations can be found as well. Thus both in the opening and the conclusion the same

statement is written: to bring about the obedience of faith to all the nations for the sake of Christ.

Romans 1-11 shows that “in accordance with the Gospel, no distinction exists in the impartial

judicial administration of God, the Law condemns everyone, yet all who believe, Jew or gentile

are justified by faith.”18

One of the main entertainments in Rome was court! No wonder Paul chose to use the

“court language” in order to communicate the gospel to the Romans. It was something that

people of the 1st century were familiar with. Not all could read thus providing these simple

analogies Paul can present eternal gospel truths in terms that their “weak flesh” or minds can

comprehend. One can just speculate if even before writing the letter Paul had already thought

through it what he would say. What is at the “nucleus” of Romans is that Paul addresses all

the potential arguments that his opponents might have! This is not an ordinary attorney; Paul
18
Dr. Alan Tomlinson

8
is a representative of “The Holy One of Israel!” Paul begins his “court case” with Romans

1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness…” In 1:19 he

uses a court case word διόηι, where he makes his first accusation. Basically what can be

known about God has been manifested to all! All are left with no legal defense! In 1:21 the

word futile (Gr. εμαηιώθηζαν) has to do with idolatry. An example of it can be found in the

Old Testament in Jeremiah 2:5, “…and walked after emptiness and became empty.”

Obviously Paul here has the Jews in mind. It is incorrect to say that Romans 1:18-32 is a case

just against the Gentiles; it is also against Jews. Majority of commentaries will divide Romans

1:18-32 as an accusation against gentiles without mentioning the Jew and will mention upon

2:1-29 as an accusation against Jews. It is vital to keep in mind that Paul starts with all (Jew

and Gentile), briefly mentions the Jew and accuses the gentiles. Later on he moves

specifically unto the Jew knowing that in Rome there are many Christians who have a Jewish

heritage. He uses a second singular pronoun you (Gr. ό ανθρωπε). This is a common term for

“the accused on trail.” The same word is found in 2:3 as well as in 9:20. Paul is writing it

while knowing in the back of his mind that Jews will read or listen to his letter. In 2:15 Paul is

showing how on judgment day Jews and Gentiles might be accusing each other of what they

have done before the bema of God; His judgment seat. In 3:1 Paul presents a question his

accused ones might have, “what advantage has the Jew” because in 2:29 he has said that a

true Jew is circumcised in the heart and not in the flesh. Again Paul uses many quotations

from the Old Testament to state his point. Finally in 3:20 he states the purpose of the Law,

which was only meant to give the knowledge of sin. The turning point is in 3:21 where God‟s

righteousness is revealed apart from the Law about which the Law and the prophets have

testified. In 3:25 it says that God displayed publically Jesus Christ as the ίλαζηηριον, the

9
“covering” for the sins or in English propitiation. The same word is used in Exodus 25:17 and

is translated as mercy seat. It literally means “to cover.”

Next argument comes in Romans 4:1 where Paul asks, “what has our father Abraham

found according to the flesh?” The flesh here refers to the Law because in 3:31 Paul just said,

“do we nullify the Law? No! On the contrary we establish the Law.” The main argument in

chapter four is that Abraham received the promise through faith before circumcision. Paul is

quoting Genesis 15:6 as his basis for the argument. In 6:1 Paul is addressing the hard legalist

and not the libertarian. The question that he asks is: “what shall we say then? Are we to

continue in sin so that grace may increase?” Now he uses the strongest word for no in the

Greek language, μή γένοιηο, may it never be! Again he is using court language here. In 6:15

Paul posses another question, “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but

under grace?” Again he says: may it never be! These are potential arguments that his

opponents might have against him. Next on the list of the potential questions of the opposition

comes in 7:7: “What shall we say then? Is the Law sin?” Again Paul repeats, may it never be!

Last of these potential questions in this particular section comes in 7:13: “Therefore did that

which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be!” This of course is another

argument of Paul‟s opponents. From 7:14-25 Paul explains from personal experience of what

it means to be a religious Jew under the Law. In 7:15 he summarizes a basic statement that a

slave in the 1st century would say, “That which I hate I do but that which I want to do I do

not.” This is a very strong argument to prove that this is not a Christian but a lost religious

Jew who has knowledge of the Law. Again in 7:24 Paul says, “Wretched man that I am who

will set me free from the body of this death?” This is a very common phrase that a slave

would cry out in a market place while being sold. Another way to translate this verse would

10
be, “Wretched man that I am who will set me free from this slave body that belongs to the

master death?” Paul often uses personifications in Romans especially with reference to sin

and death as masters and rulers. Romans 8:1 opens up with a statement of a regenerated

person, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the

Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”

This is a regenerated person as opposed to the man in Romans 7:14-25. In Romans 8 Paul

talks about our security in Jesus Christ and the blessings that have been given us in Christ;

mainly eternal life. “He, who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will

He not with Him give us all things?”19

Before moving unto the next portion of the purpose I must stop and address Romans 9

which has been such a controversial topic for many. Is Paul actually aiming to show double

predestination in Romans nine? Again such a conclusion at the first glance seems plausible.

Actually the fact that some are chosen to inherit the kingdom and others the eternal judgment

is taught in the Bible but one must teach verses in context that actually address these issues

and I strongly believe that this is not the purpose that Paul had in mind while writing Romans

nine. What is at the heart of the argument? “But it is not as though the word of God has failed.

For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because

they are Abraham‟s descendants, but: through Isaac your descendants will be named.”20 The

main argument is that God‟s word has not failed! It is not the children of the flesh who will

inherit the kingdom but the children of the promise. Paul goes on to give examples of God‟s

promises: he shows Sarah who gave birth to Isaac which confirmed God‟s promise, Rebekah

who had twins and before their birth was told that younger will rule over the older as a

19
Romans 8:32
20
Romans 9:6-7

11
promise, “Jacob I love but Esau I hated.” In 9:14 he gives a potential argument that a Jew

might have, “What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never

be!” What the Jew is asking is „can God really do this? Can He really choose like that?‟

Obviously these people did not know God. In 9:15-18 he gives examples that God can do as

He wishes, that He has mercy on whom He desires to have mercy and hardens whom He

desires to harden. In 9:19 Paul raises another potential question of the opposition, “You will

say to me then, why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” In 9:20 Paul does not

answer directly the question of the opposition! Instead he says, “On the contrary, who are you

O man (guilty one, the accused) who answers back to God?” He is a crafty attorney! Instead

of answering the question of the opposing party he asks them a question! Paul uses Old

Testament analogies from Isaiah and Jeremiah about a potter and the clay. They key to the

argument is found in 9:22-25.

What now if God, although wiling to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured
with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so (endured with much
patience) to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand
for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. As
He says also in Hosea, „I will call those who were not My people, My people, and her who was not
beloved, beloved.21

What is the force of the participle “wishing” (Thelon) in v. 22a, and how does the clause this participle
introduces relate to the purpose clause in v. 23 (kai hina, and in order to…”)? Commentators again propose
several alternatives, but two are especially worth considering. (1) The participle “wishing” might be
concessive. In this case, the infinitives in v. 22a that depend on this participle would express what God
wanted but did not actually do, while v. 23 would state God‟s ultimate purpose in bearing with vessels of
wrath… (2) The participle “wishing” might be casual. In this case, the two infinitives in v. 22a that depend
on this participle would be essentially parallel to the purpose clause in v. 23, all three summarizing God‟s
purpose in bearing patiently with vessels of wrath… A decision between these options is difficult. The
former has in its favor the different placement and construction of the purpose statement in v. 22a as opposed
to the one in v. 23a.22

21
Romans 9:22-25
22
Moo, Douglas. The Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996. Pg.
604-605.

12
It is evident from grammar that in v. 22a Paul is presenting what God wished to do but

did not, thus he bore the vessels of wrath in order to show mercy to them. In v. 22 it says

prepared for destruction where in v. 23 it says prepared beforehand for glory. I am convinced

from scripture that this is precisely what Paul is aiming at because in v. 24 and v.25 He tells us of

Gentiles who once were “not a people” but now are the people of God! Once they used to be

vessels of wrath but now they are vessels of mercy. To those who try to argue that the passage

fits well with the context of v. 17-18 one needs to understand how Paul is using these verses.

First of all he is not arguing for double predestination but God‟s freedom to do whatever He

wants to do. The purpose behind that is to refute the Jew who asks, “is there unrighteousness

with God?” Second of all he never answers the question directly but asks a question; he leaves it

open to the audience. It is a rhetorical question. Paul‟s aim is to show that God has freedom to do

whatever he wants and now God has freedom to take these Gentiles who once were not a people

to be a people of God because in His ultimate plan from eternity that was what He planned! In

9:6-7 He says that children are according to the promise, thus both Jews and Gentiles are

according to the promise the children of God. It was always God‟s plan to do it this way; it was

always according to the promise and not according to the flesh! Further evidence that I see in

scripture to support my view is found in Romans 11:30-32:

For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their
disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also
may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. 23

God has shut up all in disobedience to show mercy to all, in this way God is glorified!

His ways are unknown and later in the doxology by the end of chapter 11 Paul contemplates on

these riches! In conclusion Romans 9 does not teach double predestination but rather shows us

23
ESV

13
the ultimate plan that God had; to bring all the nations into disobedience so that in Christ Jesus

He may show them all mercy and thus be glorified!

Now Romans 12-16 contains the other part of the purpose, “to provoke in light of

Romans 1-11 an acceptance of all justified believers, born-Jews and born-Gentiles within the

body of Christ.”24 No wonder Paul labored so hard in the first two chapters and the part of the

third one to show that all are guilty and that there is no hope for either a Jew or a gentile! It is so

amazing to see that through our Lord Jesus Christ all these wonderful privileges have been

granted to us. It does not matter if one is a Jew or a gentile; both are only justified by faith in

Jesus Christ. In Romans 4 Paul labors to show us that Abraham received the promise before he

was circumcised.25 It excludes the Jew from boasting in the Law and opens a door for a gentile to

put his faith in Christ. Also Romans 11 is extremely important when we talk about this

acceptance of faith for both Jew and Gentile. Paul warns the gentiles not to boast but to fear! He

warns them to live godly lives knowing that they are wild olive branches that have been grafted

into the olive tree. Paul gives them a warning that if they do not continue in faith they will be

taken out of the olive tree as well. He goes on to say that God also has the power to graft the

natural branches back into the tree as well.26 I believe that the key is in Romans 11:30-32 as I

have mentioned above in my argument of Romans 9,

“For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy, because of their
disobedience, so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also
may now be shown mercy. For God has shut up all in disobedience so that he may show mercy to all27.”

God has really shut up all in disobedience so that he can show mercy to all! It really does

not matter if one is a Jew or a gentile, all are under His wrath. This is where God‟s impartial

judgment comes into play, that all are guilty. There is no one who can say that they have
24
Dr. Alan Tomlinson
25
Romans 4:11
26
Romans 11
27
Emphasis added by the author, NASB

14
something for their defense! There is no hope for the Jew or a Greek. But Jesus while we were

weak at the proper time died for the ungodly. One will hardly die for a righteous person, may

be for a good person, but God gives us the proof of His love that when we were still in our

sins Jesus died for us.28 In Romans 1:18 the wrath of God is revealed but in Romans 5:1 we

have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord! What is there left to do? Paul writes

Romans 11:33-36 as evidence that even he after looking into the things that “angels long to

look into” cannot grasp the majesty and the splendor of God‟s infinite love and grace.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and
how inscrutable are his ways! "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his
counselor?" "Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?" For from him and through him
and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. 29

It is so much deeper than one might think. This is Paul gazing at the glories of God

and His infinite wisdom! All is from God, all is through God and all is to God! There is no

room for boasting. Both Jews and gentiles are accepted only through faith in Jesus Christ.

This is the pinnacle of Romans! All are shut up in disobedience so that God might show

mercy to all! This is where Jesus Christ brings glory to His Father by bringing many sons and

daughters into His glory that they might be one as He is one with the Father! No wonder Paul

is just awe struck. This is where Romans 1:5 and 16:25-27 become even clearer. God through

Jesus Christ is bringing all the nations into His obedience solely for the purpose of His glory!

Christians on earth have the same responsibility that was passed on by Lord Jesus, to make

disciples of all nations!30 God is glorified when all the nations are obedient to the faith; that is

the Gospel. To catch a glimpse of this amazing work of God one must look further at Romans

12:1-5.

28
Romans 5:6-8
29
Romans 11:33-36. Emphasis added by the author
30
Matthew 28:18-20

15
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be
transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what
is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to
think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to
the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the
members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and
individually members one of another. 31

In the light of Romans 1-11 of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ there is

only one thing left to do and that is worship! Worship is not a noun but a verb! Do it! This is

not an individual worship either but a corporal one! This is a logical and reasonable worship

because of what has been said in Romans 1-11. That word for spiritual (λογικήν) can also

mean reasonable or logical. It makes more sense to me to translate it as logical because after

reading Romans 1-11 all I can do is worship! This is so logical in the light of what has been

already said. This is beautiful! Notice that it says to present your (plural) bodies (plural) as a

living sacrifice (singular). Imagine, after the church in Rome read Romans 1-11, they arrive at

12:1-5. They are speechless! All that is left for them is to come together as one sacrifice, in

many members that are individual but as one living sacrifice made up of Jews and gentiles!

This brings glory to God. Paul says, “By the mercies of God I urge you brethren” this is an

appeal! Paul has grasped this truth and he is trying to convey it to the church in Rome to

present their individual members (Jews and gentiles) as one corporal sacrifice. This is what

Paul meant when he spoke about bringing obedience of faith among all nations! And this

sacrifice is good, acceptable and perfect! That is the will of God! God‟s will is for Jews and

gentiles to come as one living sacrifice and worship Him in unity! There is no more division

because all have been shut up in disobedience and are only justified by Jesus Christ! This is

corporal worship of a living sacrifice made up of both Jews and Gentiles.

There is more to it! Romans 15:5-7 makes it even more clear!

31
Emphasis added by the author, ESV

16
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in
accord with Christ Jesus that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 32

As one living sacrifice made up of both Jews and gentiles who are encouraged to live

in harmony with one another are called to glorify God together with one mouth! One living

sacrifice, one mouth! God is glorified when we live in obedience to the faith; the gospel. No

wonder Jesus prayed for us in John 17 that we might be one as He is one with the Father! It

was God‟s very own love for His Son that He gave Him for us because the Son loved the

world. Jesus died on the cross because He loved the Father first! This brings glory to God

when people made up of different nationalities, languages and tribes come together as a body

of Christ and with one mouth as a living sacrifice bring glory to God the Father through Jesus

Christ our Lord! No more division no more racism, no more splits in the church but love

toward one another because of what Jesus did for us! In Romans 15:16 Paul explains his

ministry, “to be a servant of Christ Jesus to the nations doing a priestly temple service of the

gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the

Holy Spirit.” Paul is offering to God the Father through Jesus Christ an offering of the nations

who are obedient to the gospel as an acceptable sacrifice which brings glory to God because

through the obedience of the nations Jesus Christ is glorified thus glorifying His Father! No

words are adequate to explain the rest; this calls for worship! In Psalm 2:8 it says, “Ask of

Me, and I will surly give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as

Your possession.”

In conclusion, much more could have been said. I have barely scratched the surface on

this wonderful truth that is so deep and is so profound. Paul‟s purpose in writing Romans was

to present to God one living sacrifice made up of both Jews and gentiles who with one mouth

32
Romans 15:5-7, ESV

17
in harmony bring glory to God the Father! This is a pleasing, good and acceptable sacrifice to

God and it is His will for us; to be one as He is one with the Son! God is glorified when

nations are brought into obedience of faith; the gospel!

Ps. Dr. Tomlinson thank you for teaching us God‟s Word, you have been a blessing in my life.

18