Identified by Resurrection

Paul began his Letter to the Romans with a lengthy introduction in which he identified himself and his mission. In doing so, he makes several declarations about the identity and victory of Jesus, more specifically, that he was “marked out as God’s Son” by the “spirit of holiness” that characterized his life, and by his resurrection “from among the dead.” By raising him, God validated all that the Nazarene had said and done.

The calling and “grace” of God equipped Paul to become an “apostle” and preach the “obedience of faith” to the “Gentiles.” The Greek noun rendered “apostle” refers to someone who was “sent” to perform an assigned task. It was often used for an agent or “envoy” representing an organization or important person, the sent one’s superior.

Sunrise - Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash
[Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash]

Paul found himself “
separated” for service to the “Gospel of God.” In his Letter, he linked the message that he preached to God since He was the subject of the immediate discussion, and what was “Good News” for the “nations” was the result of what the God of Israel had done in and through His Son for the salvation of men and women throughout the Earth, and all “according to the Holy Scriptures”:

  • Paul, slave of Jesus Christ, called apostle, separated to the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, concerning his Son The one who, having come to be from the seed of David according to the flesh, The one who was marked off as the Son of God by power, according to a spirit of holiness, from a resurrection from among the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, Through whom we received grace and apostleship for the obedience of faith among all the nations for the sake of his name, Among whom you also are called of Jesus Christ, To all that are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints. Grace to you, and peace from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ”- (Romans 1:1-7).

Jesus was a descendant of the house of David, “according to the flesh.” This reference stresses fulfillment since the Scriptures promised that the Messiah would come from the line of David and sit on his Throne “on Mount Zion” – (e.g., Psalm 2:1-8).

In Paul’s usage, the term rendered “flesh” refers to the frailty of human nature, man in his mortal and weakened state. It was the man, Jesus, who was destined to rule from the Messianic Throne. The point was not to denigrate his Messiahship by teaching that it was “fleshly” as opposed to “spiritual,” but rather to reaffirm that he was the promised “son of David.”

The Nazarene was “marked off as the Son of God.” The Greek verb rendered “marked off” or “designated” in some English translations refers to something that is “marked out; labeled, named, identified, designated.” That is, he was identified as God’s Son, and he was designated “in power.”

Paul did not elaborate on what he meant by “power,” but this description preceded the reference to his resurrection. He was not referring to whatever powers were bestowed on Jesus after his resurrection or elevation to reign at God’s “right hand.”

Most likely, Paul wanted his readers to connect the term “power” with the “Spirit of Holiness.” That is, the Spirit of God empowered the Messiah to perform his deeds and teach the Gospel during his ministry. Paul made a similar point in Chapter 15 regarding his own ministry:

  • For I will not dare to speak of any things save those which Christ wrought through me for the OBEDIENCE OF THE GENTILES, by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, so that from Jerusalem and round about even unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ - (Romans 15:19).


The term, “according to a Spirit of Holiness,” was not included by Paul in contrast to the claim that Jesus was the “seed of David according to the flesh.” All four stated characterizations of his ministry were offered as proof that he was the Son of God. Any aspect of “flesh” or physicality in him was not contrary to his identity as the Messianic Son.

The phrase, “Spirit of Holiness,” is unique in the New Testament. It may have been another way for Paul to refer to the Holy Spirit that anointed Jesus for ministry. Or perhaps it referred to the holiness that characterized his life.

The Greek noun rendered “holiness,” ‘hagiôsumé,’ is used only two more times by Paul, and in each case, it is applied to believers when they are exhorted to pursue “holiness.” Paul did not use the term again in Romans – (2 Corinthians 7:1, 1 Thessalonians 3:13).

The Apostle made a related remark near the conclusion of the Letter when he described the “grace of God” that made him a servant of the “Gospel of God for the Gentiles, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be made acceptable, being SANCTIFIED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT” – (Romans 15:15-16).

In the passage in Chapter 15, the Greek verb rendered “sanctified” or ‘hagiazô’ is related to the noun for “holiness.” The idea of both terms is someone or something that is dedicated to service - consecrated, sanctified, or separated for divine service. Whether the “spirit of holiness” in Paul’s passage referred to the anointing that was on Jesus or the Holy Spirit, the purpose was to separate and consecrate him for his Messianic mission.


His resurrection was the ultimate confirmation that he was the Son of God and the Messiah of Israel. By raising him from the dead, God validated everything that Jesus said and did. He was, therefore, “marked out… by a resurrection from the dead.” More idiomatically, the Greek clause reads, “by a resurrection out from among DEAD ONES.” The adjective rendered “dead” is masculine and PLURAL. It does not refer to the abstract state of death but to dead persons.

This understanding suggests that Jesus was the first of many who were yet to be resurrected, and Paul returned to this theme several times in the body of the Letter. The future resurrection of believers was central to his concept of salvation, which was based on the past resurrection of Jesus - (Romans 8:11).

It was through this resurrected Messiah that Saul of Tarsus received his commission on the Road to Damascus to proclaim the “obedience of faith” among the nations.




Covenant and Redemption

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