Romans - Lesson 4

Romans 1:2-5

Romans 1:2-5 highlights Jesus Christ in the Gospel, stressing his earthly life as the Messiah and his resurrection affirming his divine status. Paul emphasizes Jesus' eternal Sonship, with his resurrection signifying a new phase of power. Faith initiates the Christian journey, yet obedience to Christ accompanies genuine faith, reflecting a balanced Christian life.

Lesson 4
Watching Now
Romans 1:2-5

I. The Gospel is About the Son

A. Introduction to the Christological Focus of Romans

B. Content of the Good News: Jesus as the Son

C. Understanding Verses 3 and 4: Jesus' Earthly and Resurrection Life

II. Jesus Was Appointed Son of God in Power

A. Interpretation of the Phrase "Was-Appointed-Son-of-God-in-Power"

B. Significance of Jesus' Resurrection Life

C. Jesus Christ as Lord

III. Obedience Takes the Form of Faith

A. Translation Difficulty in Verse 5: Obedience and Faith

B. Different Interpretations of the Relationship between Faith and Obedience

C. Paul's Emphasis on the Connection between Faith and Obedience

IV. It Is by Faith Alone but It Isn’t a Faith that Is Alone

A. Preserving Justification by Faith Alone

B. Dangers of Collapsing Faith and Obedience

C. The Biblical Balance: Faith Tied to Commitment and Obedience

V. Comments and Discussion

A. Ephesians and Galatians References

B. Clarification on the Translation of "In Power"

Class Resources
  • This lesson offers a deep dive into Paul's Letter to the Romans, revealing its pastoral aims, Paul's intentions to visit Spain, Jerusalem, and Rome, and its relevance to early Christian dynamics and theological inquiries about the Law in Christ's time.
  • This lesson offers a fresh view of Paul's theology, focusing on Romans. It emphasizes the first-century context, highlighting Gentile inclusion and unity in Christ, challenging traditional views. Gain insights into Paul's message and its relevance today.
  • Explore the book of Romans for modern faith conflicts: balance tradition with contemporary practices, learn from history, and grasp Paul's ministry and Gospel's complexities.
  • Follow along with Dr. Moo as he begins a thorough review of Romans 1:2-5. You will learn how Paul emphasizes Jesus' earthly life, resurrection, and his appointment as the Son of God in power. This lesson examines the interconnectedness of faith and obedience, underscoring that while faith initiates salvation, genuine faith inherently entails obedience to Christ as Lord, maintaining a balanced Christian life.
  • By delving into Romans 1:16-17, you'll understand the Gospel extends beyond individual salvation, encompassing God's reign over creation and His establishment of justice. The Gospel challenges worldly powers, offering hope and transformation to all who embrace it.
  • Listen along as the class discusses questions and answers revolving around Romans 1:16-17.
  • In Romans 1:18-28, you learn that all people are held accountable by God, having knowledge of Him through natural revelation but some turn away. This passage highlights the manifestation of God's wrath against sin, the exchange of truth for falsehoods, and the absence of excuses for humanity's actions, ultimately emphasizing God's fair judgment.
  • Listen in as the class and Dr. Moo discuss aspects of Romans 1:18-28.
  • The lesson discusses Romans 2:1-11, it highlights the use of the diatribe device and the transition from focusing on Gentiles to Jews. It underscores the Jewish belief in their special status and their potential misunderstanding of God's judgment. The lesson reviews the focus of the text on key themes such as judgment, righteousness, and the relationship between faith and good deeds.
  • In this lesson, you'll review the significance of the Law, notably the Law of Moses, in God's judgment. Paul stresses that mere knowledge of the Law isn't sufficient for righteousness; obedience is key. The primary message is that salvation ultimately relies on God's grace and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as human efforts and consciences alone cannot secure salvation. This lesson highlights the importance of understanding these concepts in interactions with people of different religious beliefs.
  • The key takeaway in this lesson is that while being a Jew comes with a great heritage, it doesn't guarantee salvation. Obedience to God's law is crucial, and reliance on religious heritage or rituals won't save you. The lesson emphasizes the universal human condition of being under the power of sin, and people cannot be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the Law or by the works of the Law. Only through faith in Christ are we made righteous.
  • This lesson explores the New Perspective on Paul, emphasizing that the Law was for Jewish covenant status, not just salvation. It promotes a holistic faith view, balancing vertical and horizontal aspects, Spirit-led obedience, and 1st-century Judaism diversity, enriching Pauline teachings in the church.
  • In exploring Romans 3:21-26, you'll gain insights into the relationship between righteousness, faith, and salvation. Paul highlights God's righteousness, which is accessible to all through faith in Jesus Christ. By weaving together themes of righteousness, faith, and inclusivity, Paul challenges conventional Jewish and Gentile perspectives, emphasizing the continuity of God's salvation plan while underscoring the centrality of faith in Christ for all believers.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insights into the potential challenge in translating Romans 3:23-24, particularly the term "all" and its connection to the debate on universalism in evangelicalism. Dr. Moo stresses the importance of coherence in biblical interpretation and explores the themes of God's righteousness, faith, and grace in justification. The lesson reviews the cultural background of redemption, drawing parallels with the Greco-Roman slave market and emphasizing the need to understand both the problem of sin and the Gospel solution.
  • Embarking on this lesson, you'll gain insight into the historical development and contemporary challenges surrounding the doctrine of justification. Through exploring classic Reformation principles and contemporary reassessments, you'll understand the tensions between Protestant and Roman Catholic perspectives, particularly regarding the infusion of righteousness and the role of grace.
  • The lesson explores the intricate connection between faith and works, justification, and sanctification in contemporary theological discourse. It delineates divergent views on justification, with scholars like Piper advocating for the preservation of biblical distinctions amidst modern theological trends. The lesson examines key questions regarding the meaning, basis, time, and means of justification.
  • Students in Dr. Moo's class ask multiple questions about justification.
  • By studying Romans 3:27-4:25, you gain insight into Paul's theology, where faith, exemplified by Abraham's righteousness, transcends works and ethnicity, emphasizing the universal scope of salvation through Christ.
  • Hear the questions the students ask regarding Romans 3:27–4:25. And discover Dr. Moo's answers to the questions posed.
  • In Romans 5 – 8, you gain insights into profound theological concepts like justification, identity in Christ, and the tension between present reality and future hope, guiding you to embrace your changed identity and hope for future transformation amidst life's trials.
  • Students as deep questions about Romans 5-8. Hear what Dr. Moo presents as answers to their questions.
  • Through Romans 5:1-11, you'll review the contrast between the Old and New Realms, understanding the essence of living in grace, finding hope amid suffering, and experiencing the assurance of eternal security rooted in Christ's sacrifice and God's love poured into believers' hearts by the Holy Spirit.
  • In Romans 5:12-21, Paul contrasts Adam's sin with Christ's redemptive grace, emphasizing humanity's hope and victory over death through union with Christ, while various interpretations of original sin underscore the universal need for redemption and Christ's pivotal role in restoring humanity to God.
  • Listen to the thorough questions the students ask regarding Romans 5:12-21.
  • The students ask excellent questions of Dr. Moo in this insightful discussion on Romans 6:1-14.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain a deeper understanding of the theological implications of Christ's death and resurrection as explained in Romans 6. You will explore different interpretations of Paul's language regarding the old self and the new self, considering the implications for the Christian life. Ultimately, you will be challenged to recognize your identity in Christ and to actively live according to that identity, rejecting the slavery of sin and embracing servitude to God.
  • Hear the questions the students ask of Dr. Moo regarding Romans 6:1-23.
  • In diving into Romans 7, you'll explore the Law's role in Christian life. Paul's discourse clarifies the distinction between law and gospel, emphasizing the Torah's significance in understanding divine commandments.

Dr. Douglas Moo, from Wheaton College Graduate School, offers an exegetical examination of the book of Romans. This course was recorded during a D.Min. seminar at the Carolina Graduate School of Divinity in May 2012.

Please note that the audio mp3 file numbers on downloaded files are two greater than each lecture number beginning with number 15.

Dr. Douglas Moo 
Romans 1:2-5  
Lesson Transcript


Romans 1:2-5

Just as a general comment, even with four long days spent together, we will not be able to look at every verse in Romans. There are too many verses, and too many issues, and too much to talk about. So, I am going to be selecting certain things that I think are important to talk about. You need to take the initiative to ask about any verse that you have a question about. My philosophy is that I would rather spend good quality time on fewer verses rather than superficially surveying a lot of verses.

A. The Gospel is About the Son:

As we turn to chapter 1, let me first say a few words about verses 3 and 4. I mentioned earlier that there is no formal Christological passage in Romans. Why is that?  It apparently wasn’t an issue for the Roman Christians. The view of Jesus Christ was one that the Romans shared with Paul. It had not become a matter that needed to be talked about, but we should not ignore the importance of verses 3 and 4 which are focusing on the person of Christ, right at the opening of the letter.  Sometimes we can jump down to 1:16 and sort of think that’s where the letter really begins. But Paul here is setting the context for some things before he gets there.

Verses 3 and 4 talk about the Son, but let’s back it up to verse 2.

In verse 2, Paul talks about the Gospel He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures. This Gospel is regarding His Son. In a sense, the content of the Good News is Jesus, Himself. The Good News involves a person; it is focused on the person of Jesus who is introduced as the Son. Paul in two parallel descriptions talks about Him, first in terms of His earthly life; or some of your versions may translate ‘flesh’ here; and then second, in terms of his ‘resurrection’ life.

So, the contrast between verses 3 and 4 then is not a contrast between the two natures of Jesus. This is the view that some have taken in the past, that verse 3 is about Jesus’ human nature and verse 4 is about Jesus’ divine nature. I believe that to be a fundamental misreading of the two verses. Rather, verse 3 talks about Jesus as the one who lived on this earth as the Messiah, a descendant of David. Of course, that evokes all those Old Testament prophecies about the greater Son of David, a figure like David, about a coming King who would be like David, all those Messianic Old Testament prophecies. So, in Jesus’ earthly life, He was indeed the Messiah, promised by the Scriptures, but more than that, now by virtue of His resurrection, He is the Son of God in power. Recall that Paul introduces these two verses by talking about Jesus as the Son. So, clearly verse 4 can’t mean that Jesus only became the Son of God at the time of his resurrection

B. Jesus Was Appointed Son of God in Power:

I think the correct way to translate is like we do in the NIV, ‘was-appointed-Son-of-God-in-power.’ You almost need to hyphenate all of those words. Jesus has always been the Son of God. He became incarnate and was indeed the Jewish Messiah. But the point Paul is making here, if that is all you say about Jesus, you have missed the most important point about Jesus. Namely, that by virtue of the resurrection and through the power of the Spirit, He is now the Son of God in power. He has moved into a new sphere of operation. So, these verses talk about the history of Jesus moving from His earthly life to His resurrection life. He is then Jesus Christ, our Lord, as Paul concludes. Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, but He is also the Lord.

C. Obedience Takes the Form of Faith:

One other point that I would like to make briefly in verse 5, Paul says that through Him (that is, Christ) we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. This is a very difficult phrase to translate. In our translation committee, we have gone back and forth a couple of times, on just how to render it. Paul puts two key words together here: obedience and faith. He uses a construction in Greek that sort of leaves it unclear as to what their exact relationship is. How do the two relate to each other, obedience and faith? Interestingly, this is a phrase that Paul comes back to again at the end of the letter in chapter 16 verse 26. Here again, he says that because of the message he preaches now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings, by the command of the eternal God so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith. This is exactly the same phrase.

This little phrase has received a lot of attention in recent years as books have been written on this. I think that it gets us to the heart of some issues of the Gospel that are very fundamental. On the one hand, some people want to virtually identify obedience with faith. In other words, they say to believe in Jesus is what God commands us to do. So, our obedience takes the form of faith, end of story. On the other extreme are those who say, what Paul is saying here is that initially you come to faith in Christ and then eventually, you also move into the stage of obedience.

I want to suggest to you in faithfulness to Paul’s broad teaching that neither of those extremes are faithful to what he intends. Paul is talking about two different things: faith and obedience. One of the themes that I will be talking about this week, partly in response to the New Perspective, is the importance of keeping faith on the one hand, and obedience or works on the other, in separate compartments. For Paul, I think they are different things. But, yet I think Paul deliberately uses this phrase here to remind us that these two things are connected and must be connected. When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we come to the one who is our Lord and then faith is accompanied from the beginning by the need and the intention to obey. In a sense, they are two sides of the same coin. They are different things; they are genuinely two sides, but they are intimately tied together.

D. It Is by Faith Alone but It Isn’t a Faith that Is Alone:

I think this is an important point to make, particularly in the current context. There is a strong move where I work in the academy to collapse faith and obedience together; to sort of erase any careful distinction between them. This is dangerous because it imperils justification by faith alone which is a watchword of the Reformation which is indeed grounded solidly in the teaching of Paul.

We have to keep faith and works (or obedience) distinct in order to preserve justification by faith alone. I come to Christ solely by my faith, not by my works.

But again, the tendency also could be that we end up with a very superficial form of Christianity in which people have faith without any obedience. or in which they view obedience as a sort of second optional stage in their Christian experience. I first become a believer and then maybe later on I will decide to be a disciple, I will decide to obey Christ. No, for Paul, these are inseparable from the moment of conversion. Genuine faith in Christ is always and necessarily at the same time a commitment to obey Him as Lord, different things but necessarily tied together. I think it is important in our context today to maintain a very significant biblical balance. Yes, faith alone is a means by which we get into a relationship with Christ, but, at the same time, emphasize that while it is a faith alone, it is not a faith that is alone. It is always a faith tied to a commitment to Christ as Lord with the obedience that flows from it. This is an issue that we will be coming back to in various ways because it comes up in different ways in Romans as we are going to see.

When you talk about that I think of the Ephesians text when Paul talks about by grace you are saved and not by works, then in the next verse he says the works were manifested (NOTE: I’m not sure of the last words)

Dr. Moo:
That’s right. Paul ties them together. In Galatians 5:6 Paul talks about faith that works through love, a similar point.

I wanted to go back to your comment about verse 3 and the words “in power.” I’m curious about whether the word “in power” is in the Greek, or is putting in power an attempt to interpret how He was appointed the Son of God in resurrection?

Dr. Moo:
‘In power’, is there in the Greek; it is a fairly straight forward rendering of the Greek phrase. The debate comes about on whether it modifies the verb or the phrase, Son of God. Some of your version might translate, powerfully appointed or something of that kind. They are taking it to modify the verb. I think it more likely that it modifies the phrase, Son of God. But yes, it is there in the Greek.