The Called in Christ
Romans 1:6-7, “among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
We don’t really write letters anymore. We text, we tweet, we post on Facebook and we even occasionally send out an email, which is the modern equivalent of a letter, I guess. When you send an email, you identify first of all who you are sending the email to and in the line below you identify who you are.
In the very first verse of this letter Paul identifies who he is. This was customary in ancient letters but because Paul is so very gospel centered, he then launches into a brief explanation of the gospel for his readers in Rome. Finally, here in verses 6-7 he gets around to identifying who it is that he is writing to.
Paul is of course writing this letter to the church at Rome. We don’t really know how the church at Rome was established. We do know that Paul was not the one who started this church. One possible explanation can be found in Acts 2:10 when the gospel is proclaimed on the Day of Pentecost in the various languages which were present that day. It says in verse 10 that present that day were “visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes.” It is a logical conclusion that some of these visitors were saved on that day and then returned to Rome and started a church in Rome.
Paul the great theologian cannot avoid doctrine even in his simple greeting to these Roman brothers and sisters. Paul says in verse 6 that these believers in Rome “are the called of Jesus Christ.” The Greek word that is used here for “called” is kletos and it is translated to mean “called, invited (as to a banquet.)” In the New Testament this almost always refers to the Divine call. It is either a call to an office, such as an apostle, or to salvation. In the context here it is safe to assume that Paul is referring to the divine call of salvation. Paul even qualifies this call by saying that it “of Jesus Christ.” Anyone who is genuinely saved, has been called to that salvation by God and salvation is only “in Jesus Christ.” This being “called in Jesus Christ” cannot be denied. In other words, if one is “called in Jesus Christ” they are not going to say no.
In verse 7 Paul then says that not only are they “called” they are also “beloved of God.” The word “beloved” is from the Greek word agapetos and it is an adjective. It is translated to mean “beloved” and specifically here it is qualified as believe the “beloved of God.” This word is frequently used, as it is here, as a form of address to other Christians. It is indeed almost a title that Christians give to one another. Not only are we loved by God, but we should be loved by one another. After all Christ commands in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Paul continues this doctrinally rich greeting when he emphasizes that Christians special status “as saints.” The dear brothers and sisters in Rome were “called,” “beloved,” and they are “saints.” This is true of all believers in Jesus Christ. The word “saints” comes from the Greek word hagios it is translated to mean “characteristic of God, separated to God, worthy of veneration.” The word hagios has its highest application in reference to God but it is also applied, as it is here, to those who are separated to God and to serving Him. To be “saints” means that as Christians we are to share in God’s moral purity. We are a separated people, just as the Romans were; this means that we are not supposed to be like the world around us. We are to be different in a moral sense. We are not to participate in the immorality of the world around us. We are set apart by God by the cleansing blood of His Son Jesus Christ.
Paul ends his greeting here in verse 7 with what was a very common salutation for him and for Christians of that day: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The word “grace” comes from the Greek word charis and it is translated to mean “that which causes favorable regard.” It also means, as it is used here, as “kindness, goodwill, favor.” This refers to divine favor and grace. We do not deserve the grace of God in salvation, but He bestows it on us anyway because of His great love for us.
The “grace” which God gives us in salvation then leads to “peace.” The Greek word here is eirene and it is in reference to spiritual peace. It is not possible to have true and lasting peace without Jesus Christ. Paul further explains that this “peace” is “from our God and Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
So many people in our world are looking for peace. They seek peace in success, relationships, power, fame, acclamation, drugs and alcohol, and even church attendance and activity. But the Bible again and again, as it does here, makes it very clear that peace is only possible in relation to God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
The apostle Paul is probably the greatest theologian, next to Christ, who ever has walked the earth. Even in his simple greeting to the church at Rome Paul could not avoid the doctrine of salvation. We must remember that we are called, we are beloved, and we are set apart. All of this is a result of the grace of God that leads to peace from God and from the Lord Jesus Christ.