I’m starting an in-depth study of Romans, so throughout this year as I work through the book I’ll post some of my notes here on the blog. Here are some thoughts from Romans 1:3-4:
Paul says that the gospel of God is directly “concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.” The gospel is never removed from the person and work of Jesus Christ. Paul does not give a systematic Christology in the rest of this letter, so it is important for us to note these two verses and Paul’s theology of who Jesus is and what he did. These verses tell us two major things about Jesus:
- Jesus is the Son of Man: The gospel of God (the Father) is “concerning his Son,” Jesus, “who was descended from David according to the flesh.” Jesus was born fully human, with human genes, a human family line, of human flesh. This was to fulfill the Scripture (cf. v. 2) that the Messiah would come from David (see 2 Sam. 7:1-17). The phrase “according to the flesh” implies that he has another nature, namely, a divine one.
- Jesus is the Son of God: The gospel of God (the Father) is “concerning his Son,” Jesus, “who…was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.” The phrase “in power” can mean, “Jesus was powerfully declared to be the Son of God” (Luther), or it can mean that Jesus has been declared the Son of God “in possession of that ‘power’ which belonged to him as the only begotten of the Father” (Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown; Calvin; Hodge). It seems that the latter would make more sense. After Jesus rose from the dead, he was no longer marked by lowliness and human limitation. He became the powerful King, ruling over the world with authority (see Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 15:25-26). Jesus was God before the world ever existed — even before his resurrection. Jesus was in the beginning with God (John 1:1-3), is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15), and is the exact representation of God’s nature (Heb. 1:1-3). The point in verse 4 is to show that after his resurrection, Jesus took on a different role than he did before: he was no longer simply Son of God as Messiah, but now Son of God as Messiah and the powerful, reigning Lord (Moo, Epistle to the Romans, p. 49).