“Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, the gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh, but established as Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we have received the grace of apostleship, to bring about the obedience of faith, for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles, among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ; to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy. Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.” [Rom 1:1-17]
When introducing himself, the Apostle shows that he sees himself as (a) “a servant of Jesus Christ,” just as Moses and the ancient prophets saw themselves as servants of God; (b) “called to be an apostle,” which puts him in the same company as the twelve; and (c) “set apart for the gospel of God.”
In this way, Paul justifies his writing to the faithful in Rome even though he has never been there.
In this opening passage he also reminds them about God the Father’s plan of redemption, put into effect by Christ, through the Holy Spirit, here called “the Spirit of holiness,” an expression not used elsewhere in the New Testament; and he calls his addressees “god’s beloved” and “saints.”
This is not just a way of speaking; it expresses something quite profound – the fact that Christians are chosen by God and “called,” just as the Israelites were so often called through Moses (see Num 10:1-4).
Christians are called to form the new people of God, whose distinguishing mark is holiness (cf. the notes on 15:22-33; Acts 9:1-19; and 1 Cor 6:1-11).
The word “gospel,” frequently used by Saint Paul, means the good news about the salvation effected by Christ. The apostles were charged by Jesus with spreading the Gospel to all creation (Mk 16:15; Mt 28:19).
Paul has been chosen just as they were, with a special commission to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles, who include the Romans.
For him, the Gospel necessarily includes believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, as his resurrection from the dead goes to prove.
So, the Gospel is, at one point and the same time, the saving power of the grace obtained by Jesus Christ, the truths revealed by him, and the efforts of the Church to spread divine salvation to all mankind.
In Paul’s writings, the expressions “the gospel of God” and “the gospel of Christ” mean the same thing (cf. the note on MK 1:1-13).
The “obedience of faith” means acceptance of the Gospel, an act involving the human mind and will but one which only comes to fruition when done with faith.