I’m working on adult curriculum on the book of Romans (you’ll hear more about this).
Paul fills most of his introductions very full and the introduction to Romans is no exception–it may be the longest and most significant theologically (along with Ephesians). In Romans 1:5 Paul begins to shed light on the subject matter of the book.
through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations (ESV)
Two key thoughts:
1. The gospel message does not distinguish between evangelism and discipleship. I don’t believe God envisioned a two stage process. Accept Jesus’ as savior and at some time also become a disciple. Or as some might believe, all can be saved, but discipleship is for the committed.
The call to faith is not based on works, it is a call to a new kind of life–a relationship with God that requires obedience. So Paul calls it “obedience of faith.”
I do agree with those who see intentional ambiguity in the phrase, “faith, if genuine, always has obedience as its outcome; obedience, if it is to please God, must always be accompanied by faith” Doug Moo, NIV Life Application CommentaryBut for those who are interested there are at least four options (the NET Bible provides a simple explanation)
The phrase á½‘Ï€Î±ÎºÎ¿á½´Î½ Ï€Î¯ÏƒÏ„ÎµÏ‰Ï‚ has been variously understood as (1) an objective genitive (a reference to the Christian faith, “obedience to [the] faith”); (2) a subjective genitive (“the obedience faith produces [or requires]”); (3) an attributive genitive (“believing obedience”); or (4) as a genitive of apposition (“obedience, [namely] faith”) in which “faith” further defines “obedience.” (NET Bible)
2. The message of the gospel is not man-centered, it is God-centered, it is about God’s glory (referred to as “doxological”). The purpose of Paul’s calling as an apostle and our mission as believers is the “obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.” God desires His name to be praise, not just by me/us, but all nations.
Obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations–that is the mission. What an awesome privilege.
Soli Dio Gloria (Glory to God alone)