This first chapter of Romans is introductory. It sets the stage for the rest of the epistle. Romans 1 may be divided into four major parts as follows:
All letters begin with an opening greeting or salutation. The epistle to Romans follows this habit. Some great messages can be found in the opening greetings of Paul's epistles.
"Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God" (Romans 1:1). Most letters do not tell a great deal about the sender, but this one does.
• His surname. "Paul." A surname is, according to one of our dictionaries, an added name derived from occupation or other circumstances. We generally think of a surname as the name borne in common by members of the same family, but it can also be a second name given to someone such as "Simon he surnamed Peter" (Mark 3:16). First, the giving of the name. The name of Paul was given to Paul sometime during his first missionary journey (Acts 13:9). His first name was Saul which fit the fact that he was of the tribe of Benjamin from which the first king of Israel came whose name was Saul. What a contrast these two Sauls were; one started well and ended badly, the other started badly and ended well. Second, the glory of the name. When Paul received his name of Paul, it was not a famous name. The name that was famous at that time was Nero, the Roman emperor. Scripture says, "The memory of the just is blessed; but the name of the wicked shall rot" (Proverbs 10:7). That has a lot to do with the fact that we name our boys "Paul" but our dogs "Nero."