Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, 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, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake. Romans 1:1-5
Grace is a very precious reality. I hope I can show you from the book of Romans what it is and why it is so precious. The word is used 155 times in the New Testament – over 100 of them in the writings of Paul, and almost a fourth of those in Romans (24 times). You cannot comprehend this book if you don’t comprehend grace. We will see it again and again. It is at the heart of the book and the heart of the gospel and the heart of God.
But I don’t assume the word communicates now the precious Biblical reality it was meant to. Today, I would guess that the average person would say grace is the beautiful movement of an ice skater. Then they might say grace is a short prayer before meals. And finally, they might say grace is undeserved favor.
But what is the Biblical reality of grace? Let’s look at Romans 1:5 and its connections. Notice that in verse one Paul began to introduce himself and speak of his being a bond-servant of Christ and of his calling as an apostle and his consecration for the gospel of God. Then in verses 2-4, he talks about what the gospel of God is: it’s planned long before it happens; it’s about God’s Son; it’s about the fulfillment of Old Testament hopes and the arrival of the Messiah, the Son of David; and it is about the risen Christ who came forth triumphant from the dead as reigning Son of God in power.
With that picture of a great, triumphant, reigning Messiah and Lord before us, Paul can now talk about grace on its proper basis.
He says in verse 5, “through whom we have received grace.” In other words, God’s grace has come to Paul through the Lord Jesus Christ who was born as a son of David and was raised as Son of God in power. We may say from what Paul writes later that grace was obtained for us through the obedience and death of the incarnate Messiah (Romans 3:24-25; 5:18-21); and grace is poured out through the risen and reigning Son of God in power. There is no grace toward sinners apart from the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Verse 5 says plainly that God gives grace “through him,” referring to “Jesus Christ our Lord” at the end of verse 4.
So grace is a reality that comes from God; and comes through Jesus and his work for us. It is not something we have a right to. Jesus obtained it for us. We get it freely because of the obedience and death of another.