The Wrath of God Revealed Paul began his argument of Romans by proving that the Gentiles are sinners before God. Although God has revealed His truth to them, they have suppressed it, resulting in the darkness of their inner man and rebellion against God to the point of worshipping animals (1: 18-23). As a result God gave them over to do the desires of their heart (1: 24, 26): idolatry (1: 25) and homosexuality (1: 26-27). Seeing that they had no desire to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a depraved mind to do every sort of evil (1: 28-31). The Jews Condemned Judgement According to Works Paul also addressed the Jews specifically warning them that if God judged the Gentiles who suppressed the revelation they had received, the Jews should not believe that they would escape the judgement of God simply because they had received the Law of Moses. These Jews were judging others for things that they did themselves, thinking they would escape punishment because they were Jews (2: 1-3).
Paul warned that they were storing up God’s wrath against themselves because they would not repent for their sins (2: 4-5). God rewards or punishes individuals based on their works, not on their ethnic background or on their knowledge of the Law (2: 6-13). Paul argued that the Gentile’s conscience would serve as the basis for their judgement (2: 14-16) and the Law would serve as the basis for judgement for the Jew. Circumcision of the Heart Paul continued to condemn the Jew for feeling superior to the Gentiles because of their to the special revelation of the Law, even though the whole time they were being hypocrites by not living by the Law themselves (2: 17-22). They were dishonoring God and giving the Gentiles reason to blaspheme God (2: 23-24).
Some thought that being circumcised justified their actions, but Paul made it clear that the Law only had value to those who lived by it, not to those who simply possessed it (2: 25). If the uncircumcised lived by the Law, his actions would make it as though he was circumcised, and he would be able to judge the circumcised who only profess the Law (2: 26-27). To be a true Jew is not only a matter of lineage but also a matter of having circumcision of the heart and whose praise comes from God rather than man (2: 28-29). Therefore, Paul proved that the Jew was just as much a sinner as the Gentile.
The Jew’s Advantage The Word of God Revealed Paul expected a reaction from the Jews so he told them what the advantages to being a physical, circumcised Jew (3: 1-2). One of the advantages was that they received the Word of God (3: 2). This was a special revelation no revealed to any other people, above and beyond the revelation of creation and conscience. Just because the Jews did not believe God’s words, God is still true and faithful (3: 3-4).
The Righteousness of God Some believed that since God’s righteousness is made evident when people commit unrighteousness, God would not be able to punish people for their sins because their sin showed God’s righteousness. Paul argued that if this was so, God could not judge the world (3: 5-7). Some went so far as to allege that Paul taught that people should sin to bring about good (3: 8). Righteousness through Faith The Jews may have had an advantage as far as the special revelation of God’s word, but this did not make them any better than the Gentiles, as Paul proved in 3: 9. All men are unfaithful to God and spiritually dead (3: 10-18). The Law served to demonstrate the Jew’s sinfulness to Him, thus putting him in the same place as the Gentiles in regards to their standing before God (3: 19-20).
God’s righteousness comes to an individual apart from the Law to those who believe on Jesus (3: 21-23). God does not distinguish between Jew and Gentile because both are sinners (3: 23-24), but justifies them both freely through their faith in Jesus Christ. This showed God’s righteousness as He passed over the sins committed before Calvary in order to demonstrate His righteousness in this age (3: 25-26). Since righteousness does not come by the principle of works (Law), but by the principle of faith, no one could boast before God (3: 27). Righteousness is given to both Jew and Gentile apart from the works of the Law (3: 28). Since there is only one God, the Gentiles must be serving the same God as the Jews, proving that both must be justified in the same way – faith (3: 29-30).
There is not one way for the Jew to be justified and another for the Gentile. Paul also wanted to avoid confusion when he put emphasis on faith instead of the Law so he stated that instead of making the Law void, faith establishes the Law (3: 31). Abraham and David Justified by Faith To prove to the Jew that one is justified by faith in God apart from the Law, Paul used Abraham and David as examples. Abraham who lived before the Law was justified by God apart from any works when he believed God (4: 1-4). David, who lived under the Law even attested to the fact that God imputes righteousness apart from works (4: 5-8).
This blessing was not limited to the Jews, because Abraham was justified before he was circumcised, just like the Gentiles (4: 9-10). God declared him righteous because of his faith, not circumcision, so that he could be the father to all who would believe whether they were Jew or Gentile (4: 11-12). The Romans were to follow this same example by believing in Jesus and His work (4: 23-24). Results of Justification God’s Grace The next thing Paul wrote about was the Romans present state of justification and its benefits (5: 1-4). They received this gift from God while still ungodly (5: 6-8), and as a result of their justification are saved from God’s future wrath (5: 9-11). To emphasize why they needed, and the means by which they received such justification Paul compared and contrasted Adam to Christ.
Sin rules over us because of our union with Adam, bringing spiritual death and eternal condemnation. Jesus Christ, however, came to reverse the consequences of Adam’s disobedience, bringing spiritual life and justification effecting both our present and future relationship to God (5: 12-19). Our natural sinfulness because of our union with Adam was increased by the law, but where sin abounded, God’s grace abounded all the more (5: 20-21). Shall We Continue in Sin that Grace May Abound? Knowing that some would misunderstand the implications of justification and a new life through Christ apart from the Law, Paul addresses the question “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” in chapter 6. This was a logical question after being told in 5: 20-21 that when sin abounded, God’s grace abounded more. Paul explained how we received our justification and spiritual life, and the implications of our new position with God.
It was argued that we cannot continue to sin because we have been unified with Christ and have received His grace. A second question is addressed that asks if we are able to sin because we are not under the law but under grace. Whereas before we were only unified with Adam, now we are unified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection by means of baptism. Because of our union with Him through the new birth, whatever can be said of Christ can also be said of us. Christ died to sin but lives to righteousness, therefore we must consider ourselves dead to sin and alive unto righteousness, experiencing a new life. Sin no longer has control over our lives because we are in Christ and sin cannot control Christ.
We are Slaves to Righteousness Now we live a new life, being made slaves to righteousness as we await the bodily resurrection. Paul used the analogy of the marriage covenant to explain this concept, and further his defense that grace is superior to the Law (7: 1-6). Just as a spouse is freed from the bonds of marriage when their partner dies, and can then marry another person, so likewise we have died to the law and to the dominion of sin so that we might serve God in the spirit. The Law actually increased the desire to sin and brought people into bondage, whereas grace allowed them to serve God in the spirit (7: 5-6).
In case some would think the Law was evil because it produced evil desires in those who were under it, Paul quickly added that the Law was good, but that it brought spiritual death because it defined sin and increased our natural desire to break God’s laws (7: 7-13). Because of their fallen nature, the Law would not allow them to perform their mind’s desire to obey it (7: 13-23). The only solution for this was Jesus Christ (7: 24-25). We Are Free From Sin Whereas the Law brought condemnation because it incited people to sin, those who are in Christ receive no condemnation (8: 1). The Spirit makes them free from sin and death, which the Law agitated and increased, and allowed them to follow the righteous requirement of the Law (8: 2-4). In order to please God, they needed follow the Spirit and stop following the flesh (8: 5-15).
Because they were God’s children, Paul assured them that the sufferings they were enduring for the moment in the future would be turned to glory, both in the earth and in themselves (8: 16-23). They were to wait for this redemption through hope (8: 24-25). Just as hope helped their groaning’s for redemption, the Spirit helped them in their weaknesses by interceding on their behaves, working out everything for the good and assuring their ultimate salvation (8: 26-30). Paul went further to reassure the Romans that if God gave them Christ, He would surely give them all else (8: 31-32). As a result they could not be condemned or separated from Christ’s love (8: 31-39). Israel’s Relationship With God At this point in the letter, Paul turns his attention toward Israel and its relationship to God, explaining their past, present and future.
Before he starts this though, Paul once again states his deep desire for their salvation (9: 1-5). Because some Jews thought that Israel’s present rejection by God meant that He was not fulfilling the promises that He had made them, Paul explained that the promises were not made to every Israelite, but only to those who have faith (9: 6-8). Not everyone who descended from Abraham was an Israelite, but God used His power in choosing only those who came through the lineage of Isaac and Jacob to be the promised seed (9: 9-12). In case some thought God’s power apart from man’s works was unjust, Paul gave Pharaoh, and the analogy of the potter and the clay, as an example to show that God has the prerogative to do what He will, and that man has no right to question God’s power (9: 13-24). God used this power in choosing to turn to the Gentiles to grant them salvation, and yet still have a remnant of Israel (9: 25-29). The reason for this rejection of Israel and the subsequent turn to the Gentiles was that the Jews attempted to gain righteousness by the works of the Law instead of by faith in God (9: 30-10: 4).
To explain why the Jews missed God’s righteousness by attempting to gain righteousness by the Law, Paul explained that the nature of the Law was opposed to faith, being a works covenant at heart (10: 5). The way to receive God’s righteousness is strictly through faith (10: 6-13). Although Israel heard this message they rejected it and now God has turned to the Gentiles (10: 18-21). The Future of Israel To stop the Gentiles from boasting against the Israelites because the former are now the people God has chosen to deal with, while rejecting the latter, Paul turned his attention past the church-age to deal with the future of Israel. He already insisted that not all of Israel has been rejected, but now he also assured the Roman believers that God has not cast unbelieving Israel off forever either, as the Scriptures attested to in 11: 1-4. The remnant had been saved by God’s grace and the hearts of the others were hardened (11: 5-10).
Their fall was only temporary so that the Gentiles could come to salvation (11: 11-12). Paul argued that if their fall has brought about the glory of God, their renewal to a place of prominence will be even better (11: 13-16). Using the analogy of the vine and branches, Paul noted that the unbelieving Jews were cut off, and the believing Jews were grafted in, but if the Gentiles wanted to boast themselves against the Jews they should beware because God could purge them from the vine and graft the Jews back in again, who held the position in the first place (11: 17-24). He concluded his topic of Israel’s choosing, present rejection, and future restoration by discussing when God will turn back to Israel, and how the Gentiles were to view the Jews at this present time.
The Jews would remained hardened only until the full amount of Gentiles have been saved, and then God will turn back to the Jews to bring them salvation (11: 25-27). Even though the Jews are presently enemies to the gospel, they are still God’s elect and would again receive mercy, even as did the Gentiles (11: 28-31). As a result they should not be hated. Paul finished with a praise to God for His plan in assigning all to disobedience so He can have mercy on all, Jew and Gentile alike (11: 32-33). How a Christian Should Live Be in Full Submission to God Based upon all that Paul had taught, he turned his attention to the effects these teachings should have upon the Romans’ way of living. He exhorted them to give themselves wholly to God (12: 1-2), act in humility and understanding that everyone has their own gifts from God (12: 3-8), love in truth (12: 9-10), be fervent in the Lord, enduring persecution (12: 11-14), having empathy toward one another (12: 15), and repaying evil with good (12: 16-21).
In regards to civil government, Paul taught that they were to fully submit to it, seeing that it was ordained by God to keep order in the world (13: 1-8). After exalting love as the fulfillment of the Law (8-10), Paul exhorted the Romans to be spiritually alert in this time, not making any provisions for the lusts of the flesh (13: 11-14). No Disputing Over Differing Opinions Because of tensions between the Jews and Gentiles over areas of Christian liberty as it pertained to eating meat, drinking wine, and observing certain days, Paul commanded that there be no disputing over differing opinions. The first thing they should be concerned about is that what they are doing is acceptable before the Lord (14: 2-13), and secondly they should make sure that what they are doing will not make another brother lose faith in Christ (14: 13-23). Instead of focusing on what was pleasing to the self Paul encouraged them to seek the edification of the body of Christ, holding up Christ’s life as their example (15: 1-6). Instead of rejecting one another over differences of opinion, the Jews and Gentiles were to accept each other, seeing that both groups of people are involved in God’s plan (15: 7-13).
Reason for Paul’s Delay in Coming to Rome Salutation’s to many people at Rome Although Paul was convinced of the churches spiritual maturity, he wrote to them to explain his reason for not coming to them sooner, and expressed his future travel plans, which included a trip to Rome (15: 17-24). This trip would take place after he delivered the collection he was gathering to the saints at Jerusalem (15: 25-29); a trip that Paul asked the Romans to help him with in prayer (15: 30-33). Having finished his exhortations and commands, Paul finished his epistle by sending greetings to many individuals at the church in Rome (16: 1-16), warning of false-teachers (16: 17-20), sending greeting from his fellow-laborers (16: 21), and giving glory to the God who was able to strengthen the church, and disclosed the mystery of the church to bring many to faith (16: 25-27). WORKS CITED Baker, Bruce. Romans, class notes. Fall 2001 King James Study Bible, The.
Thomas Nelson, Inc. , 1988.