“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established— that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” Romans 1:8-12
The Apostle Paul had a strong desire to visit Christians in Rome. Based on what Paul wrote in Romans and 1 Corinthians and what Luke wrote about Paul’s travels in Acts, we believe Paul wrote to the Romans from somewhere in Greece in 56 or 57 AD.
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.”
The Apostle Paul was motivated by a deep love – love for God and for people. Paul was also deeply thankful. Love will do that to you – cause you to be thankful.
πρωτον μεν ευχαριστω τω θεω μου δια ιησου χριστου υπερ παντων υμων
Proton – “firstly, first in time or place, first in succession”
Paul has a lot to share with the Romans and he begins with this – men eucharisto to theo mou dia Iesou Chistou huper panton humon – “I thank the God of me through Jesus Christ concerning all of you.”
You’ve heard the word Eucharist (Communion, Lord’s Supper). It comes from the Greek word eucharisto and means “to be grateful, feel thankful, give thanks.” The word comes from eucharistos – “grateful, thankful, mindful of favors,” which comes from charizomai – “do a favor to, show graciousness, kindness, benevolence, pardon, forgive, to restore,” which comes from the root word charis – “grace, unmerited favor, loving kindness.”
The word charis is at the heart of the word eucharisto. The word eu means “to be well off, prosper.”
Paul is thankful to “my God” or “the God of me.” Paul had a personal relationship with God. Paul belonged to God and he viewed God as belonging to Him in the sense of being his Heavenly Father.
Paul was deeply and sincerely thankful to God “through Jesus Christ.” The word “through” (dia) is interesting in how Paul used it – “I thank my God through Jesus Christ.” Why didn’t Paul just say “I thank my God”? Why add dia Iesou Christou in the thanksgiving? Paul understood and taught that access to God was “through” Jesus Christ. The word dia carries the idea of “by the means of, by reason of, for the sake of,” and describes the unique relationship the Christian has with Christ and the Father and the unique relationship Christ has with the Father. That unique relationship is one of “mediation” and “advocacy” –
“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” 1 Timothy 2:5-6
“What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.” Galatians 3:19-20
“But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.” Hebrews 8:6
“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” Hebrews 9:11-15
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.” Hebrews 12:22-24
“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2
Paul thanked God “through Jesus Christ” because Jesus was the great Mediator and Advocate for Paul with the Father and He is for us as well. Giving thanks to God is far more than moving our lips to form words of thanks. God the Father hears our prayers because of Jesus.
Christianity is a one-of-a-kind worldview because of the belief that Jesus Christ is the sole Mediator between God and humans. No one else meets all of the criteria for being that Mediator.
- Must be a man (Hebrews 2)
- Must be a faithful man (Hebrew 3)
- Must be a sinless man (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:21-22)
Here are some thoughts about the importance of Christ’s role as Mediator from a few commenters:
“All Christ’s acts and sufferings in the execution of his mediatorial work were, therefore, the acts and sufferings of a divine person. It was the Lord of glory who was crucified; it was the Son of God who poured out his soul unto death.” (Dr. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology)
“Many Jews had a superstitious or idolatrous respect for angels, because they had received the law and other tidings of the Divine will by their ministry. They looked upon them as mediators between God and men, and some went so far as to pay them a kind of religious homage or worship. Thus it was necessary that the apostle should insist, not only on Christ’s being the Creator of all things, and therefore of angels themselves, but as being the risen and exalted Messiah in human nature, to whom angels, authorities, and powers are made subject. To prove this, several passages are brought from the Old Testament. On comparing what God there says of the angels, with what he says to Christ, the inferiority of the angels to Christ plainly appears. Here is the office of the angels; they are God’s ministers or servants, to do his pleasure. But, how much greater things are said of Christ by the Father! And let us own and honour him as God; for if he had not been God, he had never done the Mediator’s work, and had never worn the Mediator’s crown. It is declared how Christ was qualified for the office of Mediator, and how he was confirmed in it: he has the name Messiah from his being anointed. Only as Man he has his fellows, and as anointed with the Holy Spirit; but he is above all prophets, priests, and kings, that ever were employed in the service of God on earth. ” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible)
“There is a fullness of the fitness and abilities in Christ to discharge his work and office as mediator, which greatly lies in his being both God and man, or in the union of the two natures, divine and human, in one person. Hereby he becomes abundantly qualified to be the day’s-man betwixt us, able to lay his hand upon us both; or in other words, to be the mediator between God and man; to be both a merciful and faithful high-priest, in things pertaining to God, and to make reconciliation for the sins of the people: (Job 9:33, 1 Tim. 2:5, Heb. 2:17) For being man, he had somewhat to offer in sacrifice to God, and was thereby capable of making satisfaction in that nature which sinned, which the law and justice of God seem to have required, and also of conveying the blessings of grace procured by him to elect men; for which reason, he took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham. The holiness of Christ’s human nature greatly fitted him to be an high-priest, advocate and intercessor, and very often an emphasis is put upon this in the sacred writings; as when he is said (John 3:5, Heb. 9:14, 1 Pet. 1:10) to take away sin, and in him is no sin, to offer up himself without spot to God, and we are said to be redeemed by the blood of Christ, as of a lamb without spot or blemish: And, indeed, such a redeemer is proper for us, such an advocate suit us, who is Jesus Christ the righteous: such an high-priest became us, is every way fit for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. Being God as well as man, there is a sufficient virtue in all his actions and sufferings to answer what they were designed for; in his blood to cleanse fro all sin, in his righteousness to justify from it, and in his sacrifice to expiate and atone for it. Being the might God, he could travel in the greatness of his strength, draw nigh to God for us, offer up himself to God, bear our sins, and all the punishment due unto them, without failing or being discouraged; his own arm alone was capable of bringing salvation to himself and us; there is nothing wanting in him, to make him a complete Savior of the body, and head of the church.” (John Gill, The Fullness of the Mediator)
“How was this demonstration to be made? How was the law to be honoured? Who was to do it? See, God’s own Son, closely associated with him, one with him in the formation and government of the universe, takes upon himself human nature, and represents the race; he undertakes to be the impersonation and representative of sin. God is about to show how he regards sin, by inflicting the penalty due to man, upon one who has come forth to be a Mediator between the sinner and the insulted majesty of the law. God is about to make a terrible demonstration, and show to the whole universe his deep and eternal abhorrence of iniquity. Now, this will fulfil the law even more thoroughly than if the consequences of sin had been visited upon the heads of the guilty themselves. “He laid upon him the iniquity of us all!” What a wonderful demonstration was this! Again: It is plain that this condition was indispensably necessary. God, as the governor of the universe, must insist upon something being done to meet the claims of public justice; the dishonoured law must be restored, public justice must be appeased; the spirit of the law must be maintained in all its integrity. Now, there was only one being in the universe qualified to sustain the office. The Lord Jesus Christ was both God and man; he sustained such a relation to both the parties as to be in a position to “magnify the law,” and make it even more honourable than it would have been made by its execution upon mankind. Christ satisfied the claims of public justice, and hence it is said, “he gave himself a ransom for all.” Christ, by his atonement, testified to the manner in which God regarded the sins of man. Again: Our Lord Jesus Christ knew well what it would cost him. I said just now, that one of the conditions of a Mediator’s success must be this: that if the office should call for any sacrifice on his part, he must be fully willing to make it–he must be willing to make any sacrifice, or undergo any degree of self-denial, which may be requisite in the nature of the case. Now, the Lord Jesus Christ knew well what it would cost him. It was no part of his business to compromise the claims of public justice; no part of his business to justify iniquity, or let down the authority of the law. He knew better what he had to do, than to act thus; and he was willing to do what the office required of him.” (Charles G. Finney, Christ the Mediator)
I cannot say enough about what Jesus Christ did by making Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, coming in the likeness of men, and being found in appearance as a man humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on the Cross (Philippians 2).
We have access to God the Father through (dia) God the Son and we are eternally grateful.
“Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6