Romans 1:1-4 is one sentence. Verse 4 is the last part of that sentence and a vital component in the opening statement of Paul’s amazing letter to Christians in Rome. The context is Paul’s greeting to the saints (Romans 1:7) that includes the following Christian doctrines (teaching):
- Paul is a bondservant of Jesus Christ
- Paul is called to be an apostle
- Paul is separated to the Gospel of God
- God promised His Gospel before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures (Old Testament)
- The Gospel concerns God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord
- Jesus was born of the seed of David according to the flesh
- Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead
Romans 1:1-4 is Paul’s opening salvo concerning the Person of Jesus Christ. The Apostle is writing a letter to the Romans in preparation for his trip to see them. Some of the Romans knew what Paul taught about Christ, but many had not heard Paul preach. People often lied about Paul’s teaching and the Apostle wrote letters to address those lies. As Paul prepared to go to Rome, he made sure that no one would misunderstand what he believed and taught about the Humanity and Deity of Jesus Christ. Paul made clear that the Gospel he preached concerned the Birth, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ – the Son of God.
tou horisthentos huiou theou en dunamei kata pneuma hagiosunes ex anastaseos nekron Iesou Christou tou kuriou hemon
I love to look at the New Testament in Koine Greek. It was the language of the common people of that time and carried great meaning to the hearers and readers of Paul’s letters. Take for instance Romans 1:4.
tou horisthentos – “and declared” … comes from the root word horizo, “to mark off boundries, to decree, to appoint, to designate.” The English word “horizon” comes from horizo. The word is genitive, singular, masculine, participle, aorist, passive. That’s important to notice because Paul used a similar word earlier in the sentence – “called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God.” The word “separated” is aphorismenos and also comes from the root verb horizo and has the idea of being “marked off by boundaries.” It is a perfect passive participle. God set apart Paul from the rest of the world for the purpose of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A primary difference is that the word “separated” in verse one is about God marking off Paul from others with a boundary at a past time that continued to have present results. The word “declared” in verse four is a statement of Christ’s being the single, the One and Only, with the “designation” as “the Son of God.”
What we have here is the combination of the Humanity of Jesus Christ (verse 3) with the Deity of Jesus Christ (verse 4): “concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God.” Jesus “was born of the seed of David according to the flesh” – that’s His Humanity. Jesus was also “declared to be the Son of God” – that’s His Deity. Notice that Paul presents them in the same sentence as one doctrine. Jesus is both man and God. He is the God-Man. Though many have tried to argue that Jesus is one or the other but not both, Paul presents clearly that Jesus is equally God and Man. There is no one else like Him in existence. He is the only “One.”
One of the many errors about Jesus Christ is that He became “the Son of God” during or after His baptism and temptation, based on His obedience to God. Others have taught that Jesus became the Son of God after His obedience unto death on the Cross and that His reward from God was to be raised from the dead and receive the designation as God’s Son.
Both of these views do great damage to the Glory of Christ and our salvation if Jesus was born a mortal man with the sinful blood of Adam coursing through His veins. Jesus was not a “good man” who found favor with God and enjoyed the blessings of God because of human “goodness.” If that is true, Jesus would be no better than Noah or Abraham or Moses or any other sinner who found favor with God. Though they had God’s “favor,” they were in no position to die for the sins of mankind and make the payment in full to God. Only the Eternal, Perfect Son of God could do that – and Jesus did do that.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-4, 14
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” Colossians 1:15-17
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, andcoming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5-8
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Hebrews 1:1-3
“But to the Son He says: ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.’ And: ‘You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail.” Hebrews 1:8-12
Jesus was “decreed, designated, appointed, marked out” to be the Son of God “in power” (en dunamei – in the sphere of power). This is not the natural power of the natural man. This is the Almighty Power of the Almighty God. There is no one like Him – no one. No matter what men may say or do, they cannot take away Christ’s Power or undo what He did for us on the Cross.
“And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.” Hebrews 10:11-13
At this very moment, as you read this study, Jesus sits at the Right Hand of God, waiting for the day when His enemies will become His footstool.
I very much like the next verse in Hebrews 10 because it speaks about us: “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). We are perfected forever because of the great Sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, even as we are “being sanctified” for His glory.
In the next part of our study, we will look at what it means to be declared to be the Son of God with power “according to the Spirit of holiness.”
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”