In these verses, Paul introduces himself, his message and his readers. The letter begins starkly: “Paul, a servant.”
A servant was without rights in the ancient world; a servant’s marriage and family were not recognised; a servant’s death went uninvestigated. To be a servant was a terrible thing.
However, Paul uses the title as a badge of honour, for he is Jesus Christ’s servant. To be the servant of Jesus Christ is a liberating thing.
Note that Paul’s description of himself in verses 1 and 5 is a description of how he has been shaped and affirmed by the gospel.
In verses 2 to 4, Paul describes his message. Essentially, the gospel is all about “Jesus Christ our Lord”. In verse 3, Paul tells us that Jesus’ humanity is real, not imagined. In verse 4,he reminds us that Jesus’ deity is confirmed by His bodily resurrection.
In verses 6 to 7, Paul describes his readers according to the gospel’s work in them. They are “called” (v. 6); they are “loved by God” and they are “his holy people” (v. 7).
In verse 7, Paul changes the traditional greeting of “joy and prosperity” to the more gospel-focused “grace and peace”. In these introductory verses:
How carefully do you form your self-image around the gospel’s affirmation of who you are in Christ?
Are you determined to see and treat others as God sees them? What difference will this make to your relationships?