Romans 1:5 — By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name.
This verse confused me at first, and maybe still does. Who are the “we” Paul is talking about? What does “obedience to the faith” mean?
Here’s what I think it is saying. From Jesus Christ, Paul (and those with him spreading the message of his gospel) received the gift of apostleship through grace. The purpose of this apostleship was to bring others to the faith, which is the first act of obedience to God. These others are from every nation, Gentiles as well as Jews, and their salvation and obedience bring honor to Jesus Christ.
Some of my commentaries say that the “we” refers to all Christians, but that doesn’t make sense to me because in the next verse Paul starts talking about “you” (meaning the Romans).
The term “obedience to the faith” appears here at the very beginning of Romans. It appears again at the very end in Romans 16:25-26: Now to Him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.
A Bible college professor I know is fond of pointing out this sort of thing. He calls it bookending. When we see bookends, we need to remember that Paul got these words from the Holy Spirit and that this repeating of a theme is there for a reason. Paul introduces it at the beginning, but in these next-to-last verses, he goes into a bit more detail and uses the phrase “obedience of faith” to describe the mystery — the message that salvation is available to all through faith in Jesus Christ alone, and that faith is our one requirement.
In the previous dispensation — Law — believers had to be obedient to the entire law. (Not in the sense that they never sinned, but in the sense that they performed the sacrifices and rituals that cleansed them when they did sin.) The Law was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and now it is replaced by one single act of obedience. The righteousness of God … is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe (Romans 3:22).
Romans 1:5 ends by stating that those who are obedient in faith bring honor to the name of Jesus Christ.