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1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,
3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,
4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord...
Romans 15:18 reference for Roman 1-4
Romans 15:18 (ESV)18
For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed,
Meaning of Romans 1-4
that Paul depends on Christ for all that Paul himself does in the service of Christ: "I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed." In other words, Paul serves Christ in the power with which Christ serves Paul. "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve" (Mark 10:45; see also 1 Corinthians 15:10; 1 Peter 4:11). We will skew the whole meaning of Romans from the outset if we don't see that Paul serves Christ in the power that Christ supplies, so that Christ gets the glory for Paul's service (see 1 Peter 4:11).
being set apart before being born
God set Paul apart before he was born,Galatians 1:15 says. God is so jealous for the arrival and revelation of his gospel that he leaves nothing to chance.
1) The gospel of God is the fulfillment of Old Testament promises
It is not a new religion. It is the fulfillment of an old religion. The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament. What he was preparing and promising then, he fulfilled in the coming of Jesus.
2) God keeps his promises.
Hundreds of years go by. The Jews wonder if the Messiah will ever come. They go through horrendous suffering. Then God acts and the promise is fulfilled. This means that God can be trusted. It may look as if he has forgotten his promises. But he does not forget. So verse 2 is not only a statement about the content of the gospel, but is also a reason for believing it. If we can see that God promised Christ centuries before he came and that in many details he fulfils these promises, our faith is strengthened.
3) These are holy, inspired writings we should reverence and believe.
Notice the tremendously important implications of verse two for our doctrine of Scripture. First there is God; then there is a promise that God wills to make; then there are prophets "through" whom (note well: not by whom, but "through" whom, God himself remaining the speaker) he speaks his promise; then there are writings; and these writings are called holy. Why are they holy - set apart from all other writings and one of a kind and precious? Because it is God who speaks in them. Read the verse carefully: He [God] promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures." God promised in the Scriptures. God is speaking in the Scriptures. That is what makes them holy. This is Paul's understanding of Scripture and should be ours. If you have ever wondered why our Bibles say "Holy Bible" on the front, Romans 1:2 is the answer.
The immediate relevance of our exposition of Romans, remember three things:
(1) Paul sees himself in 1:1 as an apostle of Christ Jesus, speaking and writing with authority on Christ's behalf as a founder of the church - in other words, like one of the prophets of old (Ephesians 2:20). (2) Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:13, "We speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit." In other words, Paul claims a special inspiration for his teaching. (3) In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter says that some "people distort [Paul's writings], as they do the other Scriptures." So Peter puts Paul's letters in the same category with the holy Scriptures that we are reading about here.
This is why preaching is so serious in our life together. We believe that Paul's letter to the Romans is the word of God, not merely the word of man. The gospel was promised in holy writings inspired by God; and the gospel is unfolded and preserved for us in holy writings inspired by God. This is what we believe, and it makes a huge difference in the way we view truth and doctrine and preaching and worship and everything else in the world.So the first thing Paul says about the gospel of God is that it was planned and predicted long ago (1:2). It is the gospel "which he promised beforehand through his prophets in his holy Scriptures."