The apostle Paul
was a practicing Jew, and knew the Torah well. We learn from the Bible He
was a persecutor of Christians before he himself was converted to the
faith. Paul came to faith on the road to Damascus when he had his first
encounter with Jesus Christ, and first believed. According to early
church teachings, this occurred in 35 A.D; 2 years after Jesus had died, was
buried, and was resurrected from the grave. Because of what he was before
he came to faith, he is a great witness that the gospel of Jesus Christ is
true. His conversion to the faith is so dramatic and powerful. Paul
went from the greatest persecutor of the faith in the first 2 years of
Christianity, to the greatest witness of Jesus Christ the world will ever know.
The Book of Romans is believed to be written between 56 and 58 AD, less than 25 years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Paul is completing his third missionary journey and is anticipating traveling to Rome for the first time. He writes this letter to the church in Rome in advance of his trip. He wants to introduce himself and to give his understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the believers in Rome. In this letter Paul emphasizes the doctrine of "justification by faith alone". He teaches all are sinners, and only by God's love and grace can we be saved. Our broken relationship with our Creator God is the result of sin in our lives. Salvation is a free gift from a loving Father. Divine power is given to believers through the Holy Spirit and that can lead us to a victorious life in Jesus Christ.
Let us now dig into the book of Romans and see what God has to teach us. May this be a blessing to you.
Romans 1: 2 2the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures
The first thing that Paul wrote that impressed me was verse 2. Paul clearly shows the connection of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Old Testament. Paul is not talking about the New Testament here. The gospel was promised beforehand in the Old Testament—the Holy Scriptures. Paul emphasizes this again in verse 1: 17
Romans 1: 17 17For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."
"Just as it is written" always refers to the Old Testament.
The second thing that impressed me in Paul’s writing was righteousness that is by faith. In 1: 17, Paul is quoting Old Testament Scripture. He is quoting scripture found in the book of Habakkuk.
2: 4 4 "See,
he is puffed up;
his desires are not upright—
but the righteous will live by his faith
Faith is what makes us righteous in God’s eyes. Our faith in Jesus Christ being the Son of God and our faith in His resurrection—Jesus Christ becomes our Lord. Verse 1: 17 above along with verse 1: 5 stresses the importance of faith.
Romans 1: 5 5Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.
Not by my own power, not by my flesh, do I obey God’s laws—but by Him who was resurrected. Christ living in me gives grace.
Paul uniquely says that the Son was promised beforehand in the Holy Scriptures in verses 2-4, and in these same verses shows us the Trinity of God.
Romans 1: 2-4 2the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3regarding his Son (Second Person of Trinity), who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4and who through the Spirit (Third Person of Trinity) of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God (God Head of the Trinity) by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
In Romans Chapter 1, Paul writes in the first seventeen verses of Christ being the Son of God. He speaks of the gospel of God that was promised beforehand by the prophets in the Old Testament. He speaks of righteousness that comes by faith and faith alone. Starting in verse 18 however, things change. Paul reveals that there is the wrath of God against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. God reveals himself in his creation and yet man rejects the Creator God. All of creation declares God does exist.
19: 1 1 The
heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Now read what Paul writes:
Romans 1: 20 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Starting in verse 21, I see Paul giving us a history lesson about mankind. Paul declares man knew God, but did not honor, worship, or give thanks to Him. By mans own freewill, they forgot about Him. I can picture Adam and Eve, who knew the true God, teaching their children about Him. By the time Noah is born, God regrets He ever created man. He finds favor in only one man in all of humanity—Noah. God’s wrath destroys not only mankind, but all of creation because of man and his evil ways. Only those who were on the Ark—Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives are spared from God’s wrath. They repopulated the earth again. They teach their children of the one true God. What happens again?
Romans 1: 21-23 21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
continues to dishonor God. They worship worthless things made by man that
become their idols. This is true history. Just think, from Adam and Eve to
Noah being born is approximately 1500 years. Mankind had forgotten God in
this amount of time since creation. God's righteous wrath destroys all life
that breathes air on earth because of man's love of sin. Because of His love, God starts over again with Noah
and his family. The next 500 years is the time between Noah and the birth of
Abraham. In this short period of time, man again forgets about God and are already making and
worshiping worthless idols again. Man forsakes God and finds no value in having knowledge of God. From Abraham to
Jesus Christ being born is another 2,000 years in human history. Look at
mankind as a whole at the time when Jesus was walking the earth. In all
the world only God's chosen people (the Jews) were worshiping the one true God,
and they were not doing a very good job of it. All through their history
they turned away from their Creator God and worshiped worthless idols their pagan neighbors worshiped.
2: 5 and 11 5 This is what the
"What fault did your fathers find in me,
that they strayed so far from me?
They followed worthless idols
and became worthless themselves.
11 Has a nation ever changed its gods?
(Yet they are not gods at all.)
But my people have exchanged their Glory
for worthless idols.
Psalm 106: 20 They exchanged their Glory
for an image of a bull, which eats grass.
It now is just over 2,000 years since Jesus Christ was born. Are we any better than what the prophet Jeremiah writes about God's chosen people or the what the Psalmist writes about them? What idols do you see our society and society worshiping today? We have so many to choose from, especially in America where I live, and where we have so much materialism. My own idols were worldly pleasures. My biggest little g's (gods) as I like to refer to them as were golf and smoking. I had little time for my loving Father and God when I was so in love with my little g's. I must consistently and continually look inside me, making sure God remains first in my priorities I set forth for my life. I do not want any idols taking the place of my love for Jesus.
Now Paul writes because of man's thanklessness to the one true God, He gives them over to their sins they love. Paul writes man exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things. Man is still doing this today.
Romans 1: 24-25 24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah tell us this is the true history of man—worshiping idols.
Isaiah 44: 20 20 He feeds on ashes,
a deluded heart misleads him;
he cannot save himself, or say,
"Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?"
Jeremiah 10: 14 14 Everyone is senseless and without knowledge;
every goldsmith is shamed by his idols.
His images are a fraud;
they have no breath in them.
Paul goes on to tell us all the sins of sexual lusts man has fallen into. What Paul writes starting with verse 28 and ending with verse 32 is very sad to me- especial verse 28. Man did not find it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God.
Romans 1:28 28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.
I see so many in the world today that have fallen into the sin Paul describes in these verses. In fact, WE ALL STARTED THERE—in sin. Many are still in the darkness. They willfully ignore the light that comes from God. They find no worth in knowing God. They love to sin, and they approve of those who practice the same sins with them.
Psalm 50: 18 18 When you see a thief, you join with him;
you throw in your lot with adulterers.
Paul writes it this way:
Romans 1: 32 32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
God’s wrath has been on creation since the fall of man in the garden and far too many just do not care.
Romans 1: 18 8The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,
Let Paul’s writing speak to us. Many believers are always declaring the love of God and the forgiveness of God. This is good. But let us not ignore what Paul writes when he speaks about the wrath of God that has been building since the fall of man. God’s wrath against sin is real and He is going to punish sin. This is part of the gospel message we should not ignore. The word of God is warning those who are in darkness, believing in the lie that comes from Satan, and not the truth that comes from God.
Paul is eager to share the good news of Jesus Christ to a world that is in darkness. Should we not also be eager to share our faith when God gives us the nudge to do so?
Romans 1: 14-16 14I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.
16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
God loves you and so do I!
The start of chapter 2 in the book of Romans is for the hypocrite who judges others for their sins, while ignoring the sin in their own lives.
Romans 2: 1-3 1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment?
I t is never good to judge anyone for their sins. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. We make rash judgments against others even though we sin in the same way. The Old Testament gives us such an example. The anointed King of Israel, the man God described as the one after his own heart, sinned in such a way. King David committed adultery and had a man killed to cover up his sin.
2 Samuel 12: 5-7 5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, "As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity."
7 Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.
God’s prophet Nathan set a trap for King David, bringing him into repentance for his sins, and at a great cost. It cost David a son who died on the 7th day after his birth. The servants were afraid to tell the King his son had died, afraid of what he may do. But when David found out, he went and worshiped the Lord.
2 Samuel 12: 21-24 21 His servants asked him, "Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!"
22 He answered, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.' 23 But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." (David knows he will see his son again!)
24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and lay with her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The LORD loved him; 25 and because the LORD loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah. (Jedidiah means loved by the LORD.)
King David paid a great price for his sins,
the death of an innocent son. Because of
God’s great love and compassion, a great price (greater than any price ever paid) was paid for all of mankind’s
sins. It was not paid by man, but by God Himself. It cost God the price of his Son (his
innocent Son) who died a horrendous death on a cross. God paid the price for mankind so we would
not have to—so that we could inherit eternal life and become a child of God. This is the gospel that Paul is teaching for those of us who have eyes to see, and ears that will listen.
Paul explains in verse 4 below, God is calling us into repentance. He explains God’s love is so great He shows his forever riches, kindness, tolerance, and patience He has for us—hoping we will come into repentance for our sins. Paul warns us in verses 5-6 not to have contempt for what God wants to do for us. He also warns us of the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed and all will be judged for the sins we have committed.
Romans 2: 4-6 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?
5But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6God "will give to each person according to what he has done."
In the Old Testament, it is declared in a very unique way. God is love.
Psalm 62: 12
12 and that
you, O Lord, are loving.
Surely you will reward each person
according to what he has done.
In Verse7, Paul gives us the hope that the gospel message gives.
Romans 2: 7 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.
Do not be concerned with what Paul has written above concerning “doing good”. He is not saying we must earn our way into heaven and eternal life. Doing good works is a byproduct of being a believer in Jesus Christ and only shows you have faith. Salvation by works would contradict what Paul will say in later chapters, and in other books he has written in the New Testament. In my own life, I do good works only because I love God. I am seeking glory, honor, and immortality—eternal life, just as Paul describes, only through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Interestingly, right after Paul gives us the hope for eternal life, he gives us the warning of God’s wrath again. Over and over again, everywhere in scripture, God is warning us what our sin will cost us. Everyone born begins under the curse of sin. EVERYONE STARTS HERE AT BIRTH—Jews and Gentiles alike (These are the only two races of people God recognizes.) We must seek out the truth God reveals, and He has given it to us in the scriptures, in our hearts, and in our minds. Do not ignore and reject God’s truth.
Romans 2: 8-9 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile
If you reject the truth—you are following evil, and you will receive God’s wrath and anger. It does not matter who you are, rejecting the truth that you have received from God will lead to your own destruction.
Again, as you read chapter 2, verses 9-16, do not think Paul is teaching salvation through works or by keeping the law. The evil heart of unbelief in Jesus Christ, the Savior God sent for all mankind, will keep an unbeliever in his or her sins. Unbelievers will have to face God all on their own, without a defender. They will be without a defender because they have rejected their defender who died on a cross, and arose from the grave. Jews and Gentiles alike will be judged by God in the same way Paul declares in these verses.
The rest of this chapter, Romans 2: 17- 29, deals with the Jews. We learn that God deals with the Jew in the same way as He does the Gentile. According to Paul, a true Jew is one who is circumcised by the Holy Spirit and lets Him penetrates his heart. This is the same as it is for everyone.
Romans 2: 28-29 28A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.
I believe this is what happens when one accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Holy Spirit indwells one’s Spirit—whether Jew or Gentile. There is a change of the heart in a person to want to follow God’s way and not our own selfish desires—sin. We become totally dependent on God. We love Him and want to keep His commandments. I am not saying you will not sin. Our old self will desire sin and we can fall into its temptation. This is why we must depend on God to resist temptation. There is power in God who lives in our Spirit. By His might and not ours do we conquer sin in our lives.
In the first two chapters of Romans, Paul is building his case for the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is presenting evidence that there is only one true God and He has shown himself through His creation. He is showing the evidence that all man is sinful and that we are under God’s wrath because of our love for sin. Paul is showing us it is the same for everyone; no one is exempt from the wrath of God. A time will come when He will righteously judge all mankind for denying the truth and following a lie that was begun by the devil. Paul is teaching us there is a way out for those who seek the truth. The gospel declares there is the reward of immortality, eternal life, for those seeking God’s truth. The meaning of the word “gospel” is “good news” and it is good news that the word of God gives us—eternal life.
God loves you and so do I!