God declared Jesus as Lord through the resurrection from the dead. It’s Jesus’ resurrection that set the Church on its course through history. Without the resurrection, there would be no church. The disciples would have gone back to fishing. The grieving women would have embalmed Jesus’ body, and the disciples would have continued on their way to Emmaus. Jesus would have been just another radical Jewish religious figure from the past whose teachings and actions revealed the demented character of a false messiah. But the resurrection proved that Jesus was whom he said He was, and that sent the disciples into action. Paul wants the Romans to know that the resurrected Christ has commissioned him and his partners to bring the truth to the world, including them. Just as at the ascension, Jesus left His disciples with the commission to spread the good news around the world before He left them. Yet, He appeared once again to a Pharisee who was persecuting the church. Paul clearly saw the commission that Jesus gave His disciples as his own mission. In Romans 1:5-6, he says, “Jesus Christ our Lord, 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, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.”

 Along with all of the previous disciples, Paul claims to have received “grace and apostleship.” When we consider the various calls of Christ on His disciples to share the good news with the world, it seems Paul is referring to the great commission. The great commission appears in Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15–18; Luke 24:44-49; John 20:19-23; and Acts 1:8. It has been a fairly universal understanding that this call to share the good news of God’s grace is applicable to all believers. Paul uses the first person plural “we.” Many commentators think he’s referring to just himself and the other apostles. Some think he was using the plural as a general way of just speaking about himself. It’s a rhetorical “we” in that case. But I’m thinking from the overall commissioning of Jesus’ disciples to the task of sharing their faith with the world, Paul is using it as a “we” that includes his Roman readers in that mission. Most protestant interpreters of the great commission apply Jesus’ calling to the whole church, past, present, and future. The word for “apostle” doesn’t always have to be a technical term that refers to only a select few during Jesus’ day. It could just mean “sent ones,” as the Greek term literally means. Paul speaks of receiving “grace” as well as apostleship. I doubt if anyone would argue that “grace” is only given to the few. There is a sense in which “grace and apostleship” are given to all believers.

Paul brings his readers into the mission as coworkers in bringing about the “obedience of faith” to everyone in every generation. There are numerous preachers and commentators that try to separate “obedience” from “faith.” They argue that Paul is calling Christians to be obedient to the law of Moses or at least to all the moral exhortations of the law. That leaves us all behind. One of my commentators preaches that “Obedience is the true measure of a person’s faith.”[1] If this is so, I think we’ll all be lost in the end. The Bible makes it clear that there is no human who is without sin. Further, the apostle John tells us in his first letter that anyone who says he is without sin is a liar. One current commentator has made a name for himself for saying and expounding on saying, “If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.” The point in this is that if a person wants to be saved, Jesus must be the Lord of everything in his life. One person listening to a preacher proclaim this view watched the teacher who recognized his struggles in life in the middle of his teaching and said, “The whole class could tell he was troubled by what was said, even though the teacher didn’t say a word. He then made his feelings clear. He rubbed his stomach and said, that statement makes me sick to my stomach.’”[2] Obedience of “faith” means to believe in Jesus to have paid the penalty for our sins. I agree with Barrett, who said, “It is perhaps better to recognize that there are different kinds of obedience; there is what may be called a ‘works obedience,’ concerned to produce works that may win favor from God, and a ‘faith obedience,’ arising out of the faith that gratefully accepts the favor that God has already spontaneously shown. It is the latter that Paul seeks.”[3]

[1] Mounce, Robert H. 1995. Romans. Vol. 27. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] Bad Theology Will Make You Sick (Rom 10:9)  – Grace in Focus Blog for 2/27/2023

[3] Barrett, C. K. 1991. The Epistle to the Romans. Rev. ed. Black’s New Testament Commentary. London: Continuum.