Grace and apostleship are the two benefits we receive as a result of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. These are mentioned by Paul in Romans 1.5. Grace is the free gift of forgiveness and apostleship is the power to spread the word of the gospel as a disciple of Christ. By understanding the real meaning of these two concepts we grow in our “obedience to the faith.” In other words the end result of our discipleship is growing obedience.
Having therefore established Jesus’ earthly and divine authority, the first through David, the other through God, Paul now moves on to discuss the benefit of this duality to his followers. By acting as a bridge from God to his creation, Jesus enables the flow of grace, or unlimited forgiveness, from heaven to earth. With unlimited forgiveness at our disposal we can fall time and time again and each time be restored to a position of righteousness through our bond with Jesus. This allows mankind to fulfill its destiny free of the chains of sin.
Secondly, our apostleship to Jesus turns us into messengers of the word of God. Through the gifts of the spirit, of healing, of knowledge, of wisdom, of prophecy and others, we share in the measure of holiness that Jesus’ death and resurrection has earned for us on our behalf. This becomes our testimony and enables us to hand over physical benefits to Jesus’followers in a foretaste of the kingdom of heaven. As confidence in Christ grows so the lights of righteousness shine brighter for others to follow.
Verse 5 ends with the words “among all nations” (RSV edition) proclaiming that the word of God is universal. Sin in the world retreats as the word of God is spread. If there were not the corrective impulse of Jesus’goodness to oppose evil in the world, the future of mankind would be bleak. This is the importance of Christianity that, through grace and apostleship, it establishes absolute principles of goodness in the world. Paul here is pointing out the importance of the task set by Jesus for his church. Through grace and apostleship, the light of goodness illuminates the four corners of the earth and sin retreats.
Paul, in his introduction to the Romans, cleverly encapsulates the twin pillars of Christian evangelism. They are such a solid part of our Christian mission today that we might sometimes take them for granted, but for the Church of Rome, this is perhaps the first time the powerful legacy of Christ has been explained in such terms.