By introducing and concluding the Book of Romans with the phrase, "the obedience of faith," Paul established the baseline and ending line for what faith is and for what faith must do. According to Romans 1:5, the purpose of his apostleship was to "bring about the obedience of faith." According to Romans 16:26, his gospel was intended to "lead to the obedience of faith."
Explaining the phrase, "the obedience of faith," famous Bible scholars are united in their understanding. Please note that none of the following quotes are from members of the Churches of Christ. This is done to make sure that no particular belief of our brethren is over-represented.
- The Christian profession does not consist in a notional knowledge or a bare assent, much less in perverse disputings, but in obedience (Matthew Henry)
- The purpose of his apostleship, viz. to bring men everywhere, of whatever race, to believe and obey the gospel; not to a belief in it only, but to the obedience which comes of faith, or which faith renders (Excell and Spence-Jones)
- Faith, attended with evangelical obedience; for obedience, rightly performed, is only that which is by faith, and springs from it (John Gill).
- The tendency of faith is to produce obedience. There is no true faith which does not produce that (Albert Barnes).
- Therefore obedience is joined with faith, because by faith we obey the commands of God; and faith itself consists in obedience, and is the great command of the gospel (Matthew Poole).
- Obedience of faith is the obedience which characterizes and proceeds from faith (Marvin Vincent).
- The obedience which springs from faith (A.T. Robertson).
- The Gentiles must obey Jesus if their faith is sincere (Bright and Simmons).
- Obedience from a principle of faith (James Macknight).
- The obedience which faith produces (Robert Haldane).
- An obedience consisting of faith as its vital power (Daniel Whedon).
- Obedience which flows from faith (Charles Hodge).
- The obedience that is faith, or the faithful obedience, or the obedience that comes from faith (Translation of the Holman Christian Standard Bible).
Bible scholars associated with the Churches of Christ have also explained the phrase, "the obedience of faith." Note how their explanations exactly match the explanations listed above.
- The apostolic commission was designed to produce the obedience of faith, and not merely faith alone (James Burton Coffman).
- There are no recognized believers others than obedient believers (B.W. Johnson).
- Therefore the "faith" that justifies in this book, is an obedient faith (Mark Dunagan).
- Obedience that springs from faith as its moving cause. No act f obedience is acceptable to God which is not promoted by faith. This shows that there is something in faith that is to be obeyed (David Lipscomb).
- Personal obedience that springs from faith (Lonnie Ritchie).
- Expressed by an obedience that results from faith (Wayne Jackson).
By associating faith and the obedience that naturally springs from faith so indistinguishably, Paul contradicts the Protest tendency to build a wall of separation between faith and obedience. This wall is so entrenched within Protestant thinking that even baptism is rejected as some kind of low-tier work. Instead of rejecting baptism, Paul emphasized baptism (Rom. 6). Emphasizing baptism, Paul included baptism within the faith we must obey.