The Importance of Understanding God Given Authority {Romans Study: Lesson 1}

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Have you ever heard someone say, “Who died and made you king?” Better yet, have you ever said to someone, “Who died and made you king?”  Here is another one. “Who do you think you are?” Sarcasm, right? I am guilty in word and thought!

In Paul’s day there were many enemies to the cross of Christ. Paul teaches in Philippians, there were those who preached Christ from envy and strife. Their motives were not pure, they were selfish. Their desire was to cause Paul distress in his imprisonment. {Philippians 1:15-18}   Some of them might have thought or even said, “Paul who died and made you king?”

In this lesson we will learn:

(1)Who gave Paul his authority to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the synagogues and in the cities to which he was sent.

(2)Why it is  important for us as believers to understand Paul’s God-given authority?

(3) Where I fit into all of this authority. How to apply this teaching to my life.

Before we begin to study through Romans 1:1, I believe it would be good to look into Paul’s  background and the book of Romans.

A Little Background!

In Acts 9 we learn that Paul/Saul was breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. He went to the High Priest, and asked for letters from him. He would take the letters from the High Priest to the synagogues of Damascus. If he found any belonging to the “Way”, both men and women, he would  bring them bound to Jerusalem.

As he was traveling, (it happened as he was approaching Damascus), suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ” Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And Paul said, “Who are you Lord?” And He said, ” I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and I will tell you what to do.” {Acts 9:1-6 } 

Paul was Christ’s chosen instrument to bear His name before the Gentiles, kings, and the sons of Israel. {Acts 9:15} Paul who once persecuted the church beyond measure and tried to destroy it, was now preaching the truth he once tried to destroy.

Now, as a bond-slave of Christ Jesus, he no longer seeks the favor of men nor strives to please men. He strives for the truth of the gospel.

The Holy Spirit sent Paul on three missionary journeys spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ thus establishing the New Testament church. 

  • 1st Missionary Journey: Acts 13-14
  • 2nd Missionary Journey: Acts 15:36-18:22
  • 3rd Missionary Journey: Acts 18:23-12:17

Paul writes this letter to the beloved of God in Rome, the called out saints of Jesus Christ. From the beginning of Paul’s ministry the gospel was under attack. The Judaizers of Paul’s day were claiming a works based salvation adding customs and traditions of their fathers to the work that Christ had finished on the cross. Nothing is new today there are many religious groups that teach a works based salvation.

God says in {Romans 3:20}“By the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.”

There were also those who taught that you could be saved by grace and still live anyway you pleased. {Romans 6:15} teaches, “ What then? Shall we sin because we are under grace? May it never be!”

Still ,there were those who opposed the gospel completely. {Romans 1:22} teaches, Professing to be wise, they became fools.”

There is nothing new under the sun. These false teachings continue to flood the church today. The Spirit says, ” The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”{Romans 1:8} 

  • How are these false teachings opposed?
  • How does one believe on the Lord Jesus Christ?
  • How does the believer live this new life in Christ?

Paul boldly proclaims, “through the teaching of the pure truth of the gospel!”

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and then to the Gentile. Romans 1:16

Paul Claims a Call to Apostleship:

Romans 1:1 ” Paul a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.”

In Romans 1:1 Paul makes these claims:

  • He is a bond-slave of Jesus Christ,
  • He is called as an apostle,
  • He is set apart for the gospel of God.

With this introduction Paul steps right out and lets his reader know that he is a man of authority. Authority given to him from God and Christ Jesus. This authority, this calling, and chosing he did not take upon himself.

Although very bold, Paul was humble concerning his authority. We learn in {1 Corinthians 15:9-10} he claimed to be unworthy of this apostleship and unworthy of his authority to go with the message of the Gospel.

“For I am least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.”

Paul boldly states in the greeting of this letter that he was called as an apostle. He is making the same claim of those personally picked by Christ. (Matthew 10:1-20) He states he was called out, appointed by God as an apostle. As one sent out with a message, he was set apart for the teaching and preaching of the gospel. Paul did not make these claims on his own initiative. Scripture and history prove him to be a man of God. He was sold out and dedicated to Christ.

The First Apostles: Laying the Foundation of the New Testament Church.

Are there still Apostles today? Yes and No!

We will look at NO first. I believe it is to our benefit to make a distinction between those Christ called to lay the foundation of the church, and those who continue today preaching the truths first laid out by the “APOSTLES.”

Let’s look at some qualifications that are taught in scripture concerning these first Apostles. Listed below are a few qualifications that were unique to them.

  1. They were eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Acts 1:22
  2. They were specifically commissioned by Christ as His apostle. *Matthew 10:1-7: *Acts 1:24-26 ( See questions below for more verses)
  3. Some of the Apostles wrote the New Testament books. Examples: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Paul. No one today can add words to the Bible and have them counted as God’s word or be apart of the Scriptures.

Paul makes this unique claim of Apostleship in 8 of the 12 New Testament Books that he penned. But he was converted after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. How can he claim this authority? The following Scripture references answer this question for us.

  1. Paul, we know, wrote 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament.( Extra Credit, which books did he write?)
  2. Paul insists that Christ Himself commissioned him as an apostle. Acts 9, Acts 26:16-17 and the first 3 chapters of Galatians.
  3. Christ appeared to Him on the road to Damascus. Acts 9

If we believe that the Word of God was Inspired and Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, then we must believe,by faith, that Paul can boldly make this claim of Apostleship. 

Laying on the Foundation of the Apostles and the Prophets:

Now to answer “Yes” are there apostles today?  From our studies we know that the word apostle means one sent out with a message. We have pastors, elders, missionaries and evangelists who have been called out by God to teach and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, these men cannot make the same claims as Paul and the others.

  • They certainly have not been inspired to write any more revelations of God.
  • They have not been an eye witness to the Resurrected Jesus Christ.
  • They have not been personally commissioned by Christ in the same way as the unique first ones were.

These men today: Elders, Pastors, Missionaries, have been called through the Holy Spirit to lay on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. The first apostles were given the gospel and the men today are to preach and teach that same gospel. Not a new one.

It was through the will of God that Paul was called as an Apostle. (Ephesians 1:1)

Understanding Paul’s God Given Authority:

Why is it important for us to understand Paul’s God-given authority?  We are going to answer this question from the angle of the infallible word of God. If I do not believe that Paul and all the other writers of the Bible were inspired by God through the Holy Spirit to write His word, my faith is useless. How can I decide what is right or wrong with the Scriptures? I cannot.

By faith, I/we must believe that the Scriptures, ALL of the Scriptures, every single word, is true and God breathed.

“All Scripture is inspired by God  and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:15-17

Remember, earlier we talked about the gospel being under attack. If I/we do not believe what Paul wrote concerning the gospel is ALL true, we become one of the attackers!

From the beginning of our study in Romans we must understand that this is God’s book, penned without error, by the apostle Paul. His teachings will guide us into the truths of the gospel so that we may be changed and grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ. And that we may know and fear the One and only True God!

Side note: The apostle Paul wrote without error. God has given us pastors and teachers to guide us and teach us. They can be in error! The purpose of Bible study is to know what the word of God teaches. We must read and study it for ourselves that we may not be led astray!

Where Do I fit in?

The Original Apostles Laid the foundation of the church. Our pastors, Elders, missionaries, evangelists are building on that original foundation.

In Matthew 28: 18-20 Jesus teaches, ” All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Our commission is to:

  • go, make disciples,
  • baptize,
  • teach all that He has commanded.

We are called and commissioned to go into our quiet place and teach the gospel to ourselves. Then go into our homes, neighborhoods, grocery stores…etc and teach the Gospel to a lost and dying world. With calling comes great responsibility.

How Do I Apply this to My Life?

Micah 6:8 teaches, ” He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your tpurchaseGod.”

As a bond-slave of Jesus Christ, one whose will is consumed with the will of Christ,

  • Do justice
  • Love Kindness
  • Submit to the Bibles Authority

Walk Humbly With Your God!

Ok guys lets get a discussion started! Comment below:)

Learning Beside You,

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2 thoughts on “The Importance of Understanding God Given Authority {Romans Study: Lesson 1}

  1. Anne GlenSherrill says:

    Hope I’m not jumping ahead. Romans1:3-5 who is the “us” given privilege and authority? Paul and the other eye-witness apostles? Is this an allusion to apostolic succession? Mind you, I come from a tradition where the laying on of hands confers authority. I have doubts about this tradition. I’m thinking of Cornelius who experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit before baptism and before the laying on of hands. If this is one of my “rabbits” going off tangent, tell me to sit down and be quiet. I do struggle with those pesky rabbits leading me off the track.

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    • Lisa says:

      In the context of the verses it is refereing to Paul(and the others) receiving apostleship (by grace through jesus Christ) to preach the gospel among the Gentiles. I hope I helped in answering your question. Oh, and sometimes rabbits need to be chased and killed. At other times they need to be let go.

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