Just a few thoughts on Romans.. I may post from time to time.
1. “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,” Paul speaks of his servitude to Jesus as being rooted in an actual experience. Not a subjective dream, or a feeling he had one day to enter into the ministry, but a literal encounter with the risen LORD (Paul’s testimony in Acts 9 and Galatians 1). This calling and the setting apart are both actions done to him as he is the passive object being acted upon. He is not saying he determined to set himself apart for a purpose or that it is a thing he chose after objectively weighing the alternatives, but rather it was God Who had chosen him out of the group of humanity for the allotted task (Gal. 1:15 also teaches this). Thus his change of life is one brought about by a meeting with the risen Christ; the very Man he did not believe in and was persecuting those who followed HIM. And his being set apart for the gospel includes, but is not limited to, preaching the gospel. His entire life was renovated due to the gospel. His eating and sleeping habits, his relationships with people, where he lived, and what he spoke. He was sanctified to adorn and proclaim the good news of what God has done in Jesus for His people.
2. “which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,” ‘Which’ being the gospel of God spoken of in verse 1. In explaining the gospel that he has been sanctified unto, Paul inseparably links the gospel of the New Testament to the Old Testament promises and prophesies. Contrary to a popular perspective today that Christianity is a fairly new religion that was started by a Jewish man named Jesus (some claim He didn’t actually start it, but rather some of His followers embellished tales about Him) Paul deeply roots it in the Old Testament – it being the thing promised in the Old Testament and the subject of the prophets. The gospel Paul is preaching is not a plan B in the mind of God due to the failure of the nation of Israel; it was meant to be and intended from before creation. God has always had a “world-view” in redemption. From the promise to crush the serpent in Genesis to the new heart of Ezekiel, God has been preparing His creation for this gospel. This gospel Paul is devoted to is not a new thing, rather is the eternal plan of God.