The small group with whom I read the Bible in community just began reading Romans. While I already knew about the richness of Romans, my understanding or comprehension of this richness was intensified when I read Romans 1:1a. It seems that God answered my pre-Bible engagement prayer to:
Before I open up Your Word today, I cry out to You for 20-20 spiritual vision with a laser-like focus to see and comprehend things I have never appreciated before and to clearly see Jesus like did the blind beggar after Jesus let him recover his sight.
Let me explain what is so special, at last for me, about the beginning phrase of Romans 1:1.
ROMANS 1:1 – A BOND-SERVANT OF CHRIST JESUS
The entire letter begins with the simple expression that essentially says it all for Paul. Romans 1:1a (NASB95) reads:
Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus
Before we look at the word “bond-servant,” let’s learn something about “Christ Jesus” of whom Paul is a bond-servant.
While there are many more attributes of Jesus, Paul expressed some attributes later in the passage (vv. 1-7) of which v. 1a is a part as follows:
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,
For our present purpose, the reference to “Christ Jesus” is that He is the promised Messiah who is the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ
Spend some time and reflect on those truths. Trying not to jump ahead, a sincere reflection on Christ Jesus ought to trigger a response to want to be “a bond servant of Christ Jesus.”
Looking at the meaning of “bond-servant,” the NASB95 translates the Greek word doulos (Strong’s No. 1401) as “bond-servant.” The meaning of the word doulos helps define Paul’s relationship with Christ Jesus. The Complete Word Study New Testament by Spiros Zodhiastes (AMG) defines doulos as:
slave, one who is in a permanent relation of servitude to another, his will altogether consumed in the will of the other
Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of New & Old Testament Words (Zondervan) says that doulos is often used metaphorically to describe the sole commitment of one person to another.
According to what AMG and Mounce’s teach, a doulos is sold out to his or her master. When I ponder these definitions, my mind goes to Matthew 6:24 (NASB95):
24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
By characterizing himself as a doulos of Christ Jesus, Paul described himself as being completely sold out to the will of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. While the will of Jesus Christ is broad, one very critical part of the will of Jesus Christ is that all men be saved. Paul made this clear when he wrote 1 Timothy 2:3–4 (NASB95):
3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
The Apostle Peter wrote the same thing in 2 Peter 3:9 (NASB95):
9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
When Paul described himself as a “bond-servant of Christ Jesus” one thing he meant to convey to his audience was that he was completely “sold out” to preaching the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is safe to say that Paul is a great role model for the 21st Century believer. Therefore, it seems a 21st Century believer ought to be a “bond-servant of Christ Jesus” which means he or she is completely sold out to preaching the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.
The IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament by Craig S. Keener presents an interesting fact:
A slave of someone in a high position had more status, authority and freedom, than a free commoner; the emperor’s slaves were some of the highest-ranking people in the empire, as the Roman Christians would know.
By the way, in light of what Keener wrote, a “bond servant of Christ Jesus” has an elevated status in the eyes of God.
The question for me to ask myself is does my life demonstrate that I am a “bond-servant of Christ Jesus?” That is a question I am going to spend some time considering.
How about the same question for you? What does your life demonstrate?
What I have written in this post may not make much sense to you. This is especially the case if you do not have a relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ. There is good news and bad news.
The bad news is that in the absence of a relationship with the Father, when you die your eternal destiny is hell. The good news is your eternal destiny can change. If you are not saved, today can be the day of your salvation.
Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved and a more concise description at my (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/10/20/there-is-hope-even-when-there-seems-to-be-no-hope-2/ ).
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