To know the only true God, honor and obey Him, and make Him known.
ROMANS 1:1-6 (ESV) Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be 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 descended from David according to the flesh 4 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, 5 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, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
The Bible Knowledge Commentary
1:3–4. God’s good news concerns His Son, identified as Jesus Christ our Lord. This asserts Christ’s deity as basic to His person and prior to His Incarnation, since His identification with David’s line “came to be,” a literal rendering of the participle genomenou, translated was. He was genuinely human too, as His tie with David and His resurrection from the dead show. That resurrection declared Him to be the Son of God because it validated His claims to deity and His predictions that He would rise from the dead (John 2:18–22; Matt. 16:21). This declaration was made through (lit., “in accord with”) the Spirit of holiness. This is the Holy Spirit, and not, as some have suggested, Christ’s human spirit.
MacArthur Study Bible
1:4 declared. The Gr. word, from which the English word “horizon” comes, means “to distinguish.” Just as the horizon serves as a clear demarcation line, dividing earth and sky, the resurrection of Jesus Christ clearly divides Him from the rest of humanity, providing irrefutable evidence that He is the Son of God (see note on 10:9). Son of God. This title, used nearly 30 times in the gospels, identifies Jesus Christ as the same in essence as God. See notes on Jn 1:34, 49; 11:27; 19:7 (cf. Heb 1:5; 2Sa 7:14). The resurrection clearly declared that Jesus was deity, the expression of God Himself in human form. While He was eternally the Son in anticipation of His incarnation, it was when He entered the world in incarnation that He was declared to all the world as the Son of God and took on the role of submission to the Father (see notes on Ps 2:7; Heb 1:5, 6). resurrection from the dead. His victory over death was the supreme demonstration and most conclusive evidence that He is God the Son (see note on 10:9; cf. Ac 13:29–33; 1Co 15:14–17). Spirit of holiness. In His incarnation, Christ voluntarily submitted Himself to do the will of the Father only through the direction, agency, and power of the Holy Spirit (Mt 3:16; Lk 4:1; Jn 3:34; see note on Ac 1:2).
Believer’s Bible Commentary
1:4 The Lord Jesus is marked out as the Son of God with power. The Holy Spirit, here called the Spirit of holiness, marked Jesus out at His baptism and throughout His miracle-working ministry. The Savior’s mighty miracles, performed in the power of the Holy Spirit, bore witness to the fact that He is the Son of God. When we read that He is declared to be the Son of God with power … by the resurrection from the dead, we naturally think of His own resurrection. But a literal reading here is “by resurrection of dead persons,” so the apostle may also be thinking of Christ’s raising of Jairus’ daughter, the widow of Nain’s son, and Lazarus. However, there is little question that it is the Lord’s own resurrection that is primarily in view.
When we say that Jesus is the Son of God, we mean that He is a Son like no one else is. God has many sons. All believers are His sons (Gal. 4:5–7). Even angels are spoken of as sons (Job 1:6; 2:1). But Jesus is God’s Son in a unique sense. When our Lord spoke of God as His Father, the Jews rightly understood Him to be claiming equality with God (John 5:18).
Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible
1:3–4 Paul identified the gospel’s theme to exalt it further. The gospel centers on God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who was both human and divine. The phrases “according to the flesh” (v. 3) and “according to the Spirit” (v. 4) probably do not contrast the natures of Christ but His relationships. He belonged to two realms. As to his human earthly connection, His origin was the highest. He was not just an Israelite (9:5) but a son of David (Matt. 1:1; Luke 1:32; Acts 13:22–23; 2 Tim. 2:8), which was a messianic qualification (Isa. 11:1).
Concerning the realm above He was higher than the angels (Heb. 1:4), the very Son of God (v. 4). The word “power” probably modifies the Son rather than the declaration. Paul probably meant that God declared Jesus to be His powerful Son rather than God powerfully declared that Jesus was His Son. The point of this passage is the greatness of Jesus, not the wonder of the resurrection.
“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.”
Jesus was always the Son of God, but the Father declared Him to be the Son by resurrecting Him. Jesus did not change in essence—He always was the Son—but in status or function. God appointed the Son to a new and more powerful position in relation to the world at the Resurrection. He is now not only the Messiah but the Lord of all.
To what does “the Spirit of holiness” (v. 4) refer? It may be another way of referring to the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless in view of the parallel expression “according to the flesh” (v. 3) and the fact that Paul could have said “Holy Spirit” if that is what he meant, probably Paul was referring to the holy nature of Jesus. Jesus’ nature was so holy that death could not hold Him.
Nelson’s new illustrated Bible Commentary
1:4 The word translated declared means “designated.” Jesus did not become Son of God by the resurrection. Instead, the Resurrection proved that Jesus was the Son of God.
Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible
II. Having mentioned the gospel of God, he digresses, to give us an encomium of it.
1. The antiquity of it. It was promised before (v. 2); it was no novel upstart doctrine, but of ancient standing in the promises and prophecies of the old Testament, which did all unanimously point at the gospel, the morning-beams that ushered in the sun of righteousness; this not by word of mouth only, but in the scriptures.
2. The subject-matter of it: it is concerning Christ, v. 3, 4. The prophets and apostles all bear witness to him; he is the true treasure hid in the field of the scriptures. Observe, when Paul mentions Christ, how he heaps up his names and titles, his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, as one that took a pleasure in speaking of him; and, having mentioned him, he cannot go on in his discourse without some expression of love and honour, as here, where in one person he shows us his two distinct natures. (1.) His human nature: Made of the seed of David (v. 3), that is, born of the virgin Mary, who was of the house of David (Lu. 1:27), as was Joseph his supposed father, Lu. 2:4. David is here mentioned, because of the special promises made to him concerning the Messiah, especially his kingly office; 2 Sa. 7:12; Ps. 132:11, compared with Lu. 1:32, 33. (2.) His divine nature: Declared to be the Son of God (v. 4), the Son of God by eternal generation, or, as it is here explained, according to the Spirit of holiness. According to the flesh, that is, his human nature, he was of the seed of David; but, according to the Spirit of holiness, that is, the divine nature (as he is said to be quickened by the Spirit, 1 Pt. 3:18, compared with 2 Co. 13:4), he is the Son of God. The great proof or demonstration of this is his resurrection from the dead, which proved it effectually and undeniably. The sign of the prophet Jonas, Christ’s resurrection, was intended for the last conviction, Mt. 12:39, 40. Those that would not be convinced by that would be convinced by nothing. So that we have here a summary of the gospel doctrine concerning Christ’s two natures in one person…
Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Romans
Verses 3–4 introduce the reader to the substance of the gospel that Paul preached. The gospel that is from God and about him is centered on his Son, and this Son fulfills what the Scriptures promised (so C. Anderson 1993: 32). The Son is then described through two participial clauses in verses 3–4 that are usually understood to be a pre-Pauline hymn or creedal formulation. The reference to Jesus as the Son recalls Israel’s status as God’s son (see below). Nonetheless, most scholars see a reference to Jesus’ preexistence in the words περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ (peri tou huiou autou, concerning his Son). Dunn’s objections to reading preexistence out of this phrase (1988a: 11–12; 1980: 33–35) are not decisive. Jesus is the true Israel, but he is also the preexistent Son whom God sent into the world (Rom. 8:3). In other words, the term “Son” works at more than one level; it designates Jesus as the true Israel and as the Son who existed before his incarnation. The placement of the words τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ before the two participles suggests that the one who became the seed of David and was appointed God’s Son in power at the resurrection was already the Son before these events (Cranfield 1975: 58; Wilckens 1978: 64–65). The one who existed eternally as the Son was appointed the Son of God in power as the Son of David. The new dimension was not his sonship but his heavenly installation as God’s Son by virtue of his Davidic sonship. In other words, the Son reigned with the Father from all eternity, but as a result of his incarnation and atoning work he was appointed to be the Son of God as one who was now both God and man. We do not have the precision here of the later christological formulas in the history of the church, but verses like these were the raw materials from which later Christology was developed.
Most important, by calling Jesus the Son, Paul now assigns to Jesus the designation for Israel as God’s son (Exod. 4:22–23; Jer. 31:9; Hos. 11:1; Wis. 18:13; Jub. 1.24–25; Ps. Sol. 18.4; T. Moses 10.3; Sib. Or. 3.702). This does not mean that there is no significance in being a member of ethnic Israel (Rom. 9–11). But if Jesus is God’s true Son, then membership in the people of God depends on being rightly related to Jesus. As Paul says elsewhere, he is the singular seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16), and thus the blessing of Abraham (Gal. 3:14) is available only to those who belong to the Messiah Jesus.
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