In these verses, Paul introduces him- self, his message and his readers. The letter begins starkly: ″Paul, a servant.″
To be the servant of Jesus Christ is a liberating thing
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:
- Paul describes the Scriptures (v. 2), the Spirit (v. 4) and God's people (v. 7) as ″holy″.
- Here, as in the rest of the New Testament, ″holy people″-or ″saints″ in the other Bible versions-is always used in the plural. The word is derived from the word ″holy″ and means ″set apart, separate″.
- Paul forms his self-image and the way he sees others from the gospel. This, according to theologian J. I. Packer in Knowing God, is our identity: ″I am a child of God. God is my Father; heaven is my home; every day is one day nearer. My Saviour is my brother; every Christian is my brother too.″ It is an identity shaped by the gospel.