ROMANS THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PAUL:

A MAN IN CHRIST

 

PREFACE

 

The Book of Romans is like o fifth gospel; it describes in detail the life of the Christian and the necessities for the growth and operation of the Church. But its main thrust is the clarification and exposition of what faith in Christ means.

 

INTRODUCTION

 

In the past, revival always came when Romans was studied, preached, and taught. Paul revived the first-century Roman assemblies with the epistle. Augustine interpreted Romans and brought new life to the fourth-century people of God. Along with Galatians, Martin Luther expounded on -the Book of Romans in the sixteenth century and ripped away - ultimately - more than half of Catholicism from Papal domination. In our century, Karl Barth preached the book of Romans[1] to a small group of farmers in Germany, and his theology dropped like a bombshell on European Liberalism.

 

Today, God's people need revival. Many Christians claim emotional attachment to the Bible as the word of God; for most, however, it is like a totem to be carried, touted, and exonerated - while many who claim allegiance to it continue in ignorance of its contents and remain apart from its Author. We must know the Word of the Lord to discover the Lord of the Word.

Romans is Paul's most complete expression of his own thought and commitment. His entire world-view and vitality may be seen in it. Coupled with Ephesians, Romans is a commentary on his own personal faith in Jesus Christ. Romans is, as Luther said, the "... chief book of the New Testament,... the purest gospel.... A Christian should memorize every word of it... as the daily bread of his soul."[2]

 

THE BOOK IN BROAD OUTLINE

 

I. 1:1-15 - Introduction to the Book of Romans.

 

A. 1:1 - Paul identifies himself. B. 1:2-6 - Paul identifies Jesus. C. 1:7 - Paul greets the recipients of the letter. D. 1:8-15 - Paul's prayer, position, and plans.

 

II. 1:16-17 - The theme of the Book of Romans:

 

I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is God's power to save every person who keeps believing - Jew first, and then Gentile. For in it a righteousness from God is being revealed from faith to faith. As the Old Testament states, 'The righteous by faith shall live.'[3]

 

The Gospel is not the entire New Testament. The Gospel is simply the historically validated message about Jesus Christ: that, to save men from sin, he lived, died, rose from the dead, ascended to the right hand of God in heaven, and is coming again to judge the world. This message is the Good News; it is the only basis for unity in the world.[4]

 

The church that attempts to unite itself by agreeing on every scripture will never be united. Nor will one-worldism unite man; the ecumenical movement is doomed to perpetual failure. Bringing together a thousand different denominations with ten thousand different beliefs and opinions under one roof is not unity. Unity is based simply on the acceptance of Jesus, his life, death, resurrection, ascension, and parousia.[5] God's people have already accepted this - if they are God's people. Reminders of the truth of the Gospel (as in the weekly observance of "the communion of the body and blood of Christ,") are necessary to God's people, but we must press on to the implications of that Gospel if we are to grow in Christ.

 

We are, first of all, saved by our belief in the Gospel. Righteousness is made available to us in that word about Jesus Christ - and we grow from one plateau of faith to another.

 

Then Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4b: "The righteous by faith shall live." Paul means two things by this ambiguous statement: 1) The person who is righteous on the basis of his faith will have life, and 2) the person who is righteous will live his life based on his faith. In other words, two things come to us by our faith - righteousness and life.[6] When one believes - i.e., "has faith" - he is counted righteous by God; after this occurs, he begins to bring his life into harmony with what he believes. First he is given "righteousness"; Then he is given "life". But what is faith? or belief?[7]

In Habakkuk 2:4 the word Paul quotes as "faith" is a word often used in our prayers - "Amen."[8] The Hebrew word means much more than mere "belief." Rather, it contains such meanings as "firmness," while the root meaning of the verb Amen is "confirm," "support," "make secure," "make sure," etc. Thus, Paul's use of the term "faith" means "dependability." A dependable person is one who depends on God, but also one upon whom God can depend. Today God's people often say that the "faithful" person is one who can be depended upon for whatever is needed. A married man is "faithful" to his wife. The steam geyser in Yellowstone National Park is called "Old Faithful," because it can be depended upon to spout at a given time. An employee who is dependable is called faithful. So "faith" in Romans comes to mean "dependability."[9]

 

God makes righteousness available to men, then, not by human obedience to a law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.[10]  Law merely shows a man to be guilty and calls down God's wrath upon him (Romans 4:15, 5:13), but faith builds on God's promise which is unchangeable. It is the nature of faith to be above human reasoning. Relying on God, the Christian stands opposed to things as they seem to be. Faith is vested in the Gospel of Jesus Christ; for Paul, "faith" and "gospel" are related terms.[11] To believe or to come to believe is the same thing as to he or become a Christian.[12] The content of this faith is the important thing, i.e., that Christ died and rose again to take away our sins.[13] The Christian believes that - not because of human wisdom, but because of the inner witness of the Holy Spirit to take God at His word.[14]

 

But what is included in faith? Paul begins and ends the Book of Romans with the phrase, "obedience of faith",[15] which is obedience to the gospel - submission to God's righteousness as it is revealed in the gospel.[16] Faith is unconditional surrender to God, personal acceptance of what God says to believe and to do.[17] This intentional acceptance of the truth and reality of the Gospel turns into a practical daily confidence in the saving power of God. The belief that Jesus is Savior also must make Jesus Lord, but how to do this will be made clear as we continue through the Book of Romans.

 

III. 1:18-3:20 - The Hopelessness of Mankind.

 

Paul here describes men, their belief and behavior, before the gospel was preached.

 

A. 1:18-2:16 - The Gentiles are without hope

 

Where 1:17 began with God's righteousness being made available to men, 1:18 begins with God's wrath being revealed to men. Obedience to the gospel gives man righteousness, but men who have rejected the truth are receiving the burning anger of God.[18] Paul's description of the Gentiles here is frightening, especially when we become aware that this is what we were or would be without God's righteousness. Somehow, what men become when they deliberately reject truth is an expression of God's wrath.

 

These disobedient men keep suppressing the truth about God by their unrighteous behavior. God's invisible nature - his eternal power and divinity (l:20b) - these men know. Although they have always been aware of these things since the creation of the universe (20a), they refuse to glorify God for Who He is or to thank Him (2la). So by suppressing this truth, their philosophies became worthless and empty, and their minds were turned to darkness (21b). "Professing to be wise, they became fools" (22). They worshipped either images of themselves or of animals or birds or reptiles. They had rejected the majesty and power of the immortal God in order to worship idols (23), which is ample evidence of their foolishness.

 

As a result of their inane dishonesty, God gave them up. Each time they fell into deeper debauchery (24, 26, 28). The first time God gave them up to their sexual abandon (24). The second time He gave them over to homosexuality (26, 27). The third time He abandoned them to a depraved mind which results in the heinous acts recorded in verses 29-31.[19] But verse 32 contains the most flagrant rebellion of all. Even though men are aware of the teaching of God against such behavior, they not only do those things that will bring death, but they also give hearty approval to others who practice them.

 

But now, before we become too condemnatory toward these men, Paul warns us in 2:1-16 that we who judge these others are guilty of the same things, and we, too, will be judged according to the Gospel of Jesus.[20]  For by the Gospel of Jesus all men will be judged.[21]

 

B. 2:17-3:8 - The Jews, even with all their advantages, are without hope.

 

Paul clearly points out here that the Jews, with their bloated self-righteousness (2:17-20), are still inconsistent, before God (2:21-29). He quotes Isa. 52:5 almost directly from the LXX,[22] to lend authority to the fact that the Jews are also hopeless and without excuse (2:24). "The Gentiles speak evil of God because of you Jews," he says. "Therefore, your circumcision is the same as un-circumcision. The outward man does not count with God; but the heart is what counts! It is not the legal letter of law, but the Spirit that makes a man acceptable to God" (2:25-29).

 

Then, does the Jew have no real advantage? Yes he does! He has the Old Testament. But that in itself will not save him (3:1-3). Rather, every man will be shown to be false so that God alone may be true! Both the Jew and the Gentile are under sin.

 

C. 3:9-20 - All men together are without hope.

 

As it stands written: "Not one man is righteous; not one! No one realty understands! No one keeps searching for God. Everyone has turned away; they have all gone wrong! No one really does good, not even one man! Their throat is an open grave! They have always used their tongues to deceive! The poison of snakes is under their lips! Their mouths ore always full of cursing and cruelty! They are in a hurry to maim and kill! Ruin and misery are left behind them! They have never known the way of peace. They have never learned to fear God! (3:9-20)

 

It Is a bleak but correct picture of the nature of men in our fallen state. But God's law has shown us our sin. No human being will ever be right in God's sight because of the law. So what hope do we have? How can we escape the condemnation all men deserve? Is there any way out?

 

IV.   3:21-8:39 - Faith - The Way of Escape

 

Paul will deal in passing with a couple of problems[23] among the Christians there which they may have inherited from their Jewish forebears. He has explained that salvation is not based on works but on faith. Next he points out the worth of the Law as a mirror in which sin can be clearly seen. There is one primarily Gentile problem which will be discussed in chapter 6 (and was alluded to in 3:4-8): "Should we keep practicing sin so that God's grace may increase toward us? It must never happen!" Paul spells out clearly his entire message from beginning to end, to show all the readers what it means to be a man in Christ. This will make it easier for us:

 

A. 3:21-31 - Righteousness is made available by God to men by faith, not by works.

 

"All have sinned and are continually falling short of God's glory" (3:23). But even though this is so, a new concept enters here; it has already been mentioned in passing (2:13), but now is entered into the argument: justification. A form of the word occurs in Romans fifty-eight times,[24] and is essential to a correct understanding of the book. The word was formerly used in courtroom situations. When a man who admitted his guilt was on trial, even if everyone in the court knew he was guilty, and evidence against him could be presented, he was declared "not guilty." So it is today when God justifies a man by faith. Even though I know and God knows that I am a sinner, God has counted me "not guilty" through my faith in Jesus. God has justified me. It is just as if I had never sinned. But can I now boast of my guiltless state? No! Paul says that if our righteousness came from keeping the Law, then maybe we would have something to brag about. But our justification is by faith[25] in Christ through whom the Law was established and fulfilled (3:27-31).

 

B. 4:1-25 - Abraham, our example of justification by faith.

 

Here, Paul begins answering objections to the idea of justification by faith. The key to Rom. 4 is v. 3: "Abraham believed God. God counted this belief as righteousness for him." In verse 1-8 Paul shows us that works cannot save; he points out that God owes salvation to no man. If we had been able to work our way to salvation, God would have owed it to us. But we cannot earn it. In fact, it is God's grace that freely gives us salvation because of our faith. "Happy are those whose evil deeds God has forgiven, and whose sins God has covered up. Happy is the man v/hose sin God will not count against him (7,8)." Amen! In verses 9-12 Paul emphasizes that we cannot buy salvation by circumcision or any other outward fleshly action. God's grace does it for us as a favor.[26] Verses 13-15 say again that no law is capable of saving us. (his is especially true with Abraham, our example here. When Abraham's faith was counted as righteousness by God, there was as yet no thought of the law, for Moses came hundreds of years later.[27] So law cannot be the basis of justification. Therefore, justification is not from a debt to men, nor from circumcision, nor from law. It is from faith plus nothing (in the biblical sense of trust).

 

Paul again introduces Abraham (4:16-25). Abraham is our father in faith, because he believed God when He told Abraham He had appointed him to be "a father of many nations" (Gen. 17:5). And at the time, Abraham had not even one child! He was old; he knew of no natural way; his wife Sarah was even beyond menopause (19); the egg was no longer being formed in her body. Yet he believed God could call into being what does not exist, and even that God could raise the dead (17).[28] So, hoping against hope, he believed, not wavering, but growing strong in faith and glorifying God (20). Therefore, "it was counted to him as righteousness" (22). But this was for our benefit as well as his. In the same way that Abraham believed God, we believe Him now! He believed the promise of a son, and God justified him; we believe the promise of the Gospel, that Christ died for our sins and was raised for our justification (23-25). And by believing that, we become heirs of the promises of God, also.[29] Our future resurrection to life is dependent on our belief in Christ's resurrection.

 

The covenant God made with Abraham was based not on Abraham's faithfulness , but on God's![30] As 7:2ff relates that Abraham was first called at Ur of the Chaldeas. God said for him to come out from his father's house, leaving all behind and to follow God to a new land that was to belong to his offspring. Abraham did come out, but he took his father and relatives and all he possessed with him. He went only to Haran and settled there till his father died. A second time God called him. In Genesis 12:lff God says again to Abraham,:

 

"Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.

I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing..."

 

Abraham did come out, but he still took Lot and his family and his own possessions with him. God patiently worked with Abraham until finally, in Gen.15:6, Abraham believed God's promise. Then the covenant was made between Abraham and God. As in all such ancient treaties,[31]animals were sacrificed, split in two, and a path left between the halves. Normally, both participants in such a covenant would pass between the halves, promising one another that if either one broke the agreement, the other had a right to split him in half!! But in this instance, only God passed through,[32] because he knew that since Abraham was a man, he could not be depended on to keep the covenant. Thus the old covenant was based on God's faithfulness, not man's. And so is the New Covenant! Heb. 10:19f says that Jesus initiated for us a "new and living way through the veil, that is, through his own flesh," so that now we can have confidence to enter God's presence through His blood. Our new covenant, based in the sacrificed body of Jesus and written on our hearts,[33] is based on Jesus' faithfulness, and not our own. "Thanks be to God who gives us the victory.. .[34]

 

C. 5:1-12 - God's love shown to us by Christ's death and our justification.

 

We are saved from the wrath of God by God Himself. Jesus tells his disciples, "Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."[35] But when Christ died for us, we were as Paul describes us (n Rom. 5:6-10 - "helpless", "ungodly", "sinners", "enemies." The Rabbis used to say that the greatest act a person can perform is to make his enemy into a friend. This, Christ has done for us! While we were enemies. God actually sent His Son to die for us. One would hardly die for a righteous man, Paul says, but God demonstrates His love to us by Christ's death while we were sinners. We were helpless and hopeless, and then Christ died for us. This gives us joy in trials, then endurance, then proven character, and then hope. And this hope is confidence in God, trust in the certainty of His promise, and security in Him. Since we believe the Gospel, Christ's death has mode us friends of God!

 

D. 5:13-21 - In Adam all men die; in Christ all men may live.[36]

 

By Adam[37] sin entered the world, and after sin came death. But now Jesus has destroyed the rule of death and made justification available to everyone.

 

E. 6:1-11 - How the Christian has come into Christ.

 

We must not keep sinning in order to make God's grace grow toward us. It is no longer our nature to sin, because we have come into Christ by believing and being baptized into Him. We were dead with Him and buried with Him in this baptism. Now, just as He was raised from the dead by the Father's power, we too have been raised from death and ore living a new life. Our old evil selves were crucified with Him, and our old sinful bodies died. So our new selves are free from sin; it is unnatural for us to sin. And this "... continually putting to death the deeds of the body..." is our cross.[38] Our faith tells us that we will live for God in Christ, because we are dead as for as sin is concerned.[39]

 

F. 6:12-7:6 - Slaves to God and not to sin.

 

Now that we are in Christ, sin must not rule us. Jesus Christ must rule. We should not keep giving our bodies over to sin, but we must present ourselves to God as tools of righteousness.[40] Sin will pay off in death, but the "free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord" (23). We are to be God's slaves and not owned and manipulated by sin.

 

G. 7:7-25 - Still, you cannot live the Christian life!

 

By the law I know how great a sinner I am. As often as I try to live by the law, I end up sinning, because "the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit lusts against the flesh" (Gal. 5:l7a). You and I must at these times cry out in anguish with Paul: I am still in the flesh! I am still a slave to sin! The way I am living I do not understand! I do not do what I want to do, but I keep doing the very things I hate!... I cannot seem to do what I want; I end up doing the very thing I hate!... I agree happily with God's laws inside myself, but I see a completely different thing going on in my flesh! I'm waging war with myself! Sin is making me a prisoner in my own body! Oh, wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord! (7:lff, 15,19, 22-25a)

 

We can struggle our life long against sin, but we still will not be able to overcome it. All our wisdom, all our knowledge, all our sheer physical strength and will power cannot deliver from sin. And when we realize this we stand with Paul, a fellow human being, who was also unable to overcome. When he speaks of the "body of death", he is referring to the way some ancient societies used to punish murderers when they were caught. They took the corpse of the victim and tied it to the murderer, face to face, arm to arm, body to body, leg to leg. Then they would throw the murderer in this horrible condition into the garbage dump and leave him to die. Sometimes they would stone him to put him out of his misery. And this is the exact position Paul was in - and we are in. When I contacted the law, I was at once face to face with my own dead, hideous self, and there seemed to be no escape. I simply could not live a righteous life.

 

In the logic of Romans, the struggle is still going on in me, even though I have been regenerated; I am a Christian, yet still I sin. The remnant of sin that lives in my flesh (17f) is like a cancer that resists the good; this intruder in my flesh keeps me from being holy as I want, but it is no longer laid to my charge. It remains; it just does not reign any longer. I have been delivered from sin's guilt and power, but not from its being. Scripture tells me: 1) to continually overcome sin (without making excuses for it), and 2) to continually confess that I am a sinner.[41] To those in the world, the struggle against sin is unknown. They merely do as they are led.[42] But the very fact that I struggle against sin is evidence for Who my Father is. I am aware of my need for Him.[43]

 

Then comes chapter eight; Praise God!

 

H. 8:1ff - The Holy Spirit will live the Christian life through you!

 

So now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.[44] For the law of the Spirit of Life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the low of sin and death. What the law cannot do, since it was weak through your flesh. God has now done! Because of your sin. He sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and condemned sin in the flesh. (Rom. 8:1-3)

 

No condemnation! We are delivered from the punishment we all deserve. What a promise! But it is tempered with a warning and some suggestions as to how to live. Rom. 8:5 is a key to the Christian life: "People who live according to the flesh always think about fleshly things. But those who live according to the Spirit always think about spiritual things."[45] We must stop letting our bodies tell us what to do, and begin letting the Spirit release His power in our lives. Correct being (living "in Christ") will produce correct doing; correct doing will produce correct thinking and feeling. Since we cannot please God, because of our sinful nature, then let us live by His Spirit. "As many as have been baptized into Christ hove put on Christ (Gal. 3:27), and in Romans 6 Paul told us the meaning of baptism. In chapter 7 he revealed the inadequacies of the law and flesh. But here in chapter 8 he gives us a majestic promise: "If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, He... will also give life to your mortal bodies now, through His indwelling Spirit" (8:11). "Christ in you the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). It is God, then, who enables us and energizes us to live for Him even here and now in our "mortal bodies"! What the flesh cannot do, the Spirit can do. As we grow in faith, we will depend on Him more and more.

 

I. 8:12-17 - Flesh is death; Spirit is life.

 

Paul says we owe the flesh nothing, but we are debtors to the Spirit, the Spirit will help us to kill fleshly actions, and He will lead us, because we ore God's children (14). The Holy Spirit is not a spirit of slavery, but He is the Spirit who adopts us as sons of God; by Him we can speak to God as "Daddy" (Abba. Father - v. 15).[46] In other words, when a person is in Jesus, he is not back under the terrors of the law, but he is free to speak intimately with God. "The Spirit Himself witnesses along with our spirits that we are God's children" (16). In Rom. 2:15 and 9:2 Paul tells us of his subjective feeling in his conscience; but here the contents of our conscience are analyzed as being portly our feelings and partly the prompting of the Spirit. Thus, we have the same evidence of being God's child (two witnesses) as we do the child of our earthly father (he and I both witness to it). And since we are children, we are also heirs of God along with Christ;[47] if we do suffer with Christ, we will be glorified along with Him.[48] And our sufferings are described in the following section.

 

J. 8:12-25 - We groan, as does the universe, awaiting the final adoption.

 

Our present sufferings ore not worthy of comparison with the glory God will reveal for us. Our suffering and glorification are all port of a giant, cosmic movement, in which even the inanimate universe joins with man! As it shared the results of sin, so it will share in our redemption. Its pain is not only from dying, but from a new birth (22); the silent creation seems to crane its neck in eagerness, longing for our deliverance. Not just men are subject to the power of sin, but so is the universe around us. We await a new freedom - not just some bodiless, immortal "soul," but the actual redemption of our bodies (23).[49]

 

K. 8:26-27 - The Spirit helps God's chosen ones to pray.

 

He helps our weakness, and when we do not know what to say to God, He Himself interprets our needs with unspeakable groans in God's language.[50]

 

L. 8:28-30 - God's chain of care for His people.

 

God works everything out for good for his called ones who love Him. No matter what happens. God will use it to fulfill his purpose. Job suffered in his own body, and God was glorified (and we are taught). Joseph was sold into slavery to Egypt; he was lied about by Potiphor's wife, imprisoned -but through all this. God was able to use him, making him second in command in the Kingdom of Egypt. And Jesus, most terribly of all, was rejected and murdered, but "God has lifted Him up on high, and given Him the highest of all names, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow... and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ rules, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:9-11). Thus even death can be used by God for good. "He knew beforehand who we are, so He predestined us to be like Jesus; He called us, then justified us and now He will glorify us" (29, 30).[51] He does it all! Praise God!

 

But there is even a greater gift and promise that He gives us now, and in it we can be confident and secure.

 

M. 8:31-39 - The five greatest promises of them all - the proof of God's love.

 

1. God is for us. This is the whole gospel in four words. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (31). With God on our side, what enemy is there to fear? We can rest assured in him that we are able to overwhelm and conquer any problem (37).[52]

 

2. God will give us all things. "God actually gave us His own Son; will He not freely give us everything else we need?' (32). The same God we stand in awe of, whom we fear, has given us the very best He has to offer - Jesus, His Son. Surely He will give us all else we need to live right for Him.[53]

 

3. God has forgiven us; Jesus takes up our defense. "Who can accuse God's own people? God Himself says we ore not guilty'.... Jesus Christ Himself ... pleads for us!" God has acquitted us of all our sins, and Jesus stands at His right hand pleading for us. Who in the universe can stand against this?

 

4. God makes us more than conquerors! Since God loved us, we ore able to overcome all obstacles through Him. We are "super-conquering."

 

5. Nothing is able to separate us from the love Christ has for us. What can remove us from Christ's love? Can trouble, or hardship, or persecution, or hunger, or poverty/or danger, or death? No! Nothing, no power in heaven or on earth is able to separate us from God's love through Christ Jesus our Lord.[54] This is the greatest promise of all!

 

V. Romans 9:1-11:26 - A Parenthesis: The True Israel will be Saved.

 

The logic of Paul's argument proceeds from chapter eight to chapter twelve, chapters nine through eleven being a parenthetical insertion that deals with God's amazing grace, in spite of man's unbelief. The following statement in no way exhausts the content of chapters nine through eleven - it serves only to sum up Paul's thought in these three chapters: all the future-pointing promises God gave to Israel throughout the Old Testament' are fulfilled through Christ in The Church. In these three chapters Paul is facing up to a problem in logic: "God made many promises to Israel, but Israel does not believe. How, then, can these promises to Israel be fulfilled?" His answer, in a nutshell, is this: as Jacob took Esau's birthright and blessing, so the Church has supplanted Israel, and taken Israel's birthright and blessing. Israel rejected the Messiah, so God has made a sovereign choice to bypass Israel's unbelief by opening the way of righteousness to the Gentiles. Therefore, God's purpose for Israel (11:1-29), described by the parable of the olive tree, is fulfilled in us, who are the true, spiritual Israel; we are the real sons of Abraham - not by the flesh, but by faith.[55] This fulfills Gen. 17:5f, God's promise that Abraham would be the father of many nations.

                                                                 

Romans 12 begins the most practical section of the epistle; it is the next logical step from chapter 8. The outline of each chapter will be presented first, then each  point will be analyzed.

 

VI. Rom. 12:1-15:13 - The Practical Portion; The Christian's Life.

 

(Chapter 12, My Relationship with God and in Christ's Body; Chapter 13, My Relationship with the Authorities; Chapter 14:1-15:13, My Relationship with Other Christians.)

 

In Rom. 12:1, the "therefore" is the hinge on which Romans turns. Paul has so far shown us our hopeless condition before God (1:1-3:20), then in 3:12-4:25 he has opened up faith as a way of escape. Our sins are forgiven (ch. 5), we are dead with Christ (ch.6), we are by nature utterly helpless (ch. 7), therefore, we rely upon the indwelling Holy Spirit (ch. 8). After this, and as a consequence of it: "we... are one body in Christ" (ch. 12). It is as though this were the logical outcome of all that has gone before, and the thing to which it has all been leading."[56]

 

A. 12:1-21 - My relationship with God and in Christ's Body

 

1. 12:1, 2 (cp. 6:13) - The living sacrifice; let GodŐs Spirit have control of your minds and bodies.

 

So it is here that Paul begins his systematic description of the Christian life. He begins by pleading with them:

 

"I beg you, therefore, brothers, because of all that God has felt and done for you, give your bodies to Him as a sacrifice - living, holy, acceptable to God..."

 

Thus, he asks all Christians to stop letting the world set their standards for them; rather, he says, "Get out of step. Become Gods people." Let Him transform your life to one of sacrifice for Him.

 

2. Rom. 12:3-8 - Think as members of Christ's body to help the whole body.

 

He begins this section by calling attention to his own gift (Apostleship), then he commands all, as members of the Body of Christ to utilize whatever gifts we have to build up that body.[57]

 

The following are the basic motivational gifts from which a person views the events around him

 

DEFINTIOINS, AMPLIFICATIONS AND GUIDES, DANGERS OR ABUSES

 

A. Prophecy-Proclaiming Truth

 

Definitions, Amplifications And Guides: To be persuasive in speech. To bring to light previously concealed secrets of men's unrighteous motives, hearts, or  actions by presenting God's truth.                                            

 

 

Danger Or Abuse: Becoming proud of his rhetoric and persuasiveness. Becoming more dependent on his ability to speak than the power of the Holy Spirit to convict.

 

B. Serving

 

Definitions, Amplifications And Guides: The motivation to demonstrate love by meeting practical needs of others. To detect personal needs and short-range goals . Te overlook personal discomforts in order to meet these needs.

 

Danger Or Abuse: Being proud of his deeds. Being pushy or premature in meeting the needs of other before they realize their needs. Becoming bitter when needs are not recognized or appreciated. Over-emphasizing practical needs to the neglect of basic spiritual needs.

 

C. Teaching

 

Definitions, Amplifications And Guides: Clarifying truth— The motivation to search out and validate the truth that has been presented. To engage in research and detailed study; to validate the truth and dig out the facts and accumulate knowledge.

 

Danger Or Abuse: Being proud of the knowledge which he as accumulated. Concentrating on details of information rather than communicating principles for living. Being more concerned about the research than the response of his students.

 

D. Exhortation

 

Definitions, Amplifications And Guides: The motivation to stimulate the faith of others. The ability to do personal work. To call to the side to urge one to pursue a course of conduct. Personal counseling to encourage spiritual growth.

 

Danger Or Abuse: Being proud of personal results. Becoming discouraged with lack of progress. Motivating others for selfish gain. Spending too much time with those who want only temporary relief. Gossiping.

 

E. Giving

 

Definitions, Amplifications And Guides: The motivation to entrust. To organize personal business in order to gain assets. An ability to make quick decisions regarding the immediate needs which others have.

 

Danger Or Abuse: Being proud of giving. Measuring spiritual success by material assets. Overlooking major character faults in those who are useful to reaching his goals.

 

F. Ruling

 

Definitions, Amplifications And Guides: The motivation to coordinate the activities of others for the achievement of common goals. To preside over. To lead. To stand before. To distinguish major objectives and help those around him to visualize them. To be able to see and carry out long-range goals.

 

Danger Or Abuse: Being proud of his power. Using people to accomplish his goals rather than meeting their needs. Overlooking major character faults in those who are useful to reaching his goals.

 

G. Showing Mercy

 

Definitions, Amplifications And Guides: The motivation to identify with and comfort those who are in distress. To feel empathy with the misfortunes and misery of others who are not sensitive. To mentally and emotionally relate to their personal needs. To be firm when necessary.     

 

Danger Or Abuse: Being proud of his ability to empathize. Resenting others. Failing to relate to their personal needs and to give them aid. Being guided by emotions rather than logic.

 

THE RULES FOR THE USE OF THESE GIFTS ARE:

 

a. Know yourself - soberly judge your gifts on the basis of your personal faith (i.e. your relationship to Jesus);

b. Accept yourself - make on honest assessment of your abilities, without anger or regret;

c. Deny yourself - realize that your abilities are God-given, thus removing potential feelings of pride.[58]

d. Accept others and their gifts, without envy or jealousy.

 

3. Rom. 12:9-21 - Think and live according to the "Law of Christ".

 

Now, still under the broad heading of our relationship to God, Paul asks us to be genuine in Christian love and behavior, peaceful and helpful toward those in Christ as well as those outside. We should ".. .not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil by doing good."

 

B. Rom. 13:1-14 - Our Relationship to the Authorities.

 

1. Rom. 13:1-7 - The Christian and his fatherland.

 

Paul requires that all whose highest loyalty is to Christ should also submit to all other authority, since every authority derives its power from God.[59] The authority exists to punish wrong-doers and to praise (i.e., to be of benefit to ) those who do well.

 

2. Rom. 13:8-10 - The Christian and the commandment to love.

 

Believing in Jesus and loving one another fulfills the entire spirit of the Old Testament!

 

3. Rom. 13:11-14 - The Christian and apostolic authority; ".. .put on the Lord Jesus Christ. .."

 

 

C. Rom. 14:1- 15:13 - Our relationship to each other in Christ.

 

1. Rom. 14:1-23 - Our freedom must be tempered and governed by our love.

In essence, Paul tells us here that if we really love our brother, we will never do anything to hurt him. Paul gives us several examples of things We could disagree on:

 

a. the type of food we should eat (1-4)

b. which day we should observe for worship, etc. (5-9)

c. what we should drink (17 and 21)

 

If my opinion is different from that of my brother on anything, I should welcome him as God welcomes me, without the stronger feeling contempt for the weaker, and without the weaker condemning the stronger. Paul says each of us should keep such personal matters between himself and Christ, after thinking it through personally (5b and l2). The key verse in the chapter is 17: "GodŐs reign is not a matter of eating end drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit..."

 

2. Rom. 15:1-6 - Christ is our example in limiting our freedom by our love.

 

3. Rom. 15:7-13 -Even Jews and Gentiles should welcome one another in Christ.

 

VII. Rom. 15:14-16:27 - Conclusion.

 

A. Rom. 15:14-33 - Personal matters.

 

B. Rom. 16:1-16 - Personal greetings.

 

C. Rom. 16:17-20 - Doctrinal conclusion to the letter.

 

Paul is careful not to command us to avoid those who have different doctrinal positions from our own. Rather, he says to avoid those who cause quarrellings and difficulties in opposition to correct doctrine; we are asked to discern their behavior as based on doctrine, and not their doctrine itself.

 

D. Rom. 15:21-23 Greetings from Paul's companions.

 

E. Rom. 15:25-27 - Doxology.

 

Romans begins and ends (1:5 and 16:26) with Paul's statement of purpose, which is to bring about "the obedience of faith" among the Gentiles. Thus, the lengthy epistle concludes with a restatement of Paul's concern: Faith must produce obedience; one's life must come into harmony with what he believes. May the power of the Holy Spirit abound in Christ's body to bring our lives into complete compliance with His will!

 

 

 

APPENDIX : THEMES IN ROMANS: SEE ARTICLES IN TDNT/NIDNTT.

 

Apostle

Gospel

Faith

Baptism

Abraham

Judgment

Righteousness

Justification

Election

Predestination

Foreknowledge

Glory/Glorification

Israel

Law Jews Creation/Creator

Circumcision

Scripture

Miracle (Signs/Powers)

Church

Amen

Saints Holiness Grace Peace Lord Father

Jesus Christ (Son) Wrath

Truth

Repentance

Redemption

Atonement

Promise

Adam

Joy

Life

Spirit Sin

Conscience

Authorities

Hope



[1] His Romerbrief (The Epistle to the Romans) is now available in English from Oxford University Press.

[2] From his New Testament translation written in A.D. 1522.

[3] All quotations of scripture herein will be the author's own translation.

[4] Cf. I Cor. 1:18-24, Eph. 1:10, Col. 1:17, et. al.

[5] Christ's presence at the Second Advent.

[6] Olaf Moe, The Apostle Paul: His Message and Doctrine, Tran. by L.A. Vigness (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1954), p. 269.

[7] The meaning of these two terms in the N.T. is identical.

[8] Technically, it is pronounced ehmunah, the root of which is amen.

[9] See Brown, Driver, Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, (London: Oxford U.P.) p. 52ff for these meanings. It is interesting to me that Olaf Moe (pp. 272-282) reaches exactly the same conclusion as I have reached here, but from totally different grounds. He examines the use of the term in its New Testament Pauline setting, which makes the best linguistic sense - examining the use of the word in several specific contexts to determine its meaning.

[10] Cf. Rom. 3:21-28,4:4, Gal. 2:16, 3:22, Eph. 2:8, Phil. 3:9.

[11] Rom. 1:5,16f.

[12] Acts 19:2, Rom. 13:11,1 Cor. 3:5,15:2.

[13] I Thess. 4:14, Rom. 6:8,10:9, I Cor. 15:3ff.

[14] I Thess. 1:8, Rom. 4:24, II Tim. 1:12, Titus 3:8 - again, faith is relying on God.

[15] Rom. 1:5,15:18,16:12, 26.

[16] II Thess. 1:8, Rom. 6:17,10:5, II Cor. 10:5.

[17] Rom. 10:8-10.

[18] The present tense in 1:18 refers to the preaching of the Gospel which reveals God's wrath toward sin.

[19] The three verses (24, 26, 28) recording God's rejection of them may all be seen as one act of God, emphasized by the repetition.

[20] A comparison of Paul's concept of faith with James 2:14-26 will show no disagreement. Thus far, Paul is expressing that faith by which a man begins to be counted righteous; that is, beginning faith by which men are justified in the mind of God. James, on the other hand, speaks of growing faith which must produce works (i.e., one's life comes into harmony with what he believes - cf. Rom 4:20ff). Paul is exegeteing Gen. 15:6, while James is interpreting Gen. 22 (cf. Rom. 4:20f and James 2:21f). James does not contradict Paul; he merely supplements Paul (see also Rom. 2:13).

[21] Many people ore bothered by 2:12-16, which seems to say this: if a Gentile who does not have the Law lives by the law of his conscience, he may be saved. First of all, the probability of such a person's living this way is very slight (15b says "their thoughts alternately are either accusing or defending them"); second, 3:23 clearly states, ". . .all hove sinned (perfect tense) and continually fall short (present tense) of the glory of God." Third, what Paul is actually saying is that "God will judge" (16), not we (see also 3:20a).

[22] LXX stands for 70, the traditional number of translators of the Creek Old Testament (also called Septuagint for the same reason). Paul substitutes "the name of God" here for Isaiah's "my name" in 52:5. This quotation may also be an allusion to Ezek. 36:20ff.

[23] He was acquainted with Aquila and Priscilla (cf. 16:3 - "Prisca," a Latin name like Aquila (eagle), is apparently her actual name - Priscilla is diminutive, like Johnny for John), who could easily have filled him in on the Roman assemblies (cf. the others whom Paul knew - 16:1-16).

[24] The noun "righteousness" and adjective "righteous" occur a total of 37 times in Romans (respectively: noun: 1:17, 3:5, 21, 22, 25, 26, 4:3, 5, 6, 9, II (twice), 13, 22, 5:17, 21, 6:13,16, (8,10, 20, 8:10 9:30, 21,10:3, 4, 5, 6,10,14:17; adjective: 1:17, 2:13, 3:10, 26, 5:7, 19, 7:12). A word meaning "righteous ordinance" or "requirement" appears 5 times (1:32, 2:26 5:16,18, 8:4). While the noun "justification" itself appears only twice (4:25, 5:18), the verb "justify" appears 14 times (2:13, 3:4, 20, 24, 26, 28, 30, 4:2, 5, 5:1, 9, 6:7, 8:30, 33), 5 of which ore right here in 3:20-30. All these words ore forms of the same Greek root 'Qikaio-''.

[25] That is, "faith" which has been discussed from its Hebrew background  (see above). Cf. Rom. 8:8: "It is impossible to please God in the flesh."

[26] Moe, p. 271.

[27] As Paul explicitly says.

[28] This is evident from his total submission to God in Gen. 22 (cp. Rom. 4:17 with

Heb. 11:17-19). Abraham is a perfect example for us. Even the content of his faith is the same as ours. He believed in a miraculous birth (like Jesus' from a virgin) and resurrection of the dead (he believed God would raise Isaac; we believe God raised Jesus).

[29] Cf. 11 Cor. 1:20.

[30] Gen. 15:7-21.

[31] See The International Critical Commentary. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Genesis by John Skinner (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1963), pp 283f.

[32] A smoking oven and a blazing torch as emblems of the presence of God passed through. Abraham did not (see Skinner, ibid, p. 283).

[33] Cf. Heb. 10:8,10:16, Jer. 31:33, and II Cor. 3:3-18.

[34] I Cor. 15:57; cf. II Tim. 2:13.

[35] John 15:13.

[36] Cf. I Cor. 15:22.

[37] Though the Old Testament is replete with "types" or "patterns" of Christ, Adam is the only person so-called by name in the New Testament (Rom. 5:14).

[38] Cf. I Cor. 9:27 and Matt. 16:24f; God's v/ill for all men is the same as His will for Jesus. We must die; our old self must be crucified, that He may live in us, in our place (cf. John 14:23).

[39] Cf. Rom. 12:1,2, II Cor. 5:17ff.

[40] More will be said on this when Rom. 12:lff is dealt with.

[41] It has been suggested that man is not a sinner because he sins; rather, he sins because he is a sinner (by nature, since The Fall). I John 1:9 asks us to confess our sins, and Jesus will cleanse us. I John 2:2 says, "if anyone should sin, we have on advocate'..."; John's "we" shows that even he needed an advocate.

[42] Cf. I Cor. 12:2 and Eph. 2:1-3.

[43] Gal. 5:17, Matt. 5:3, and I Cor. 10:13.

[44] The KJV (based on the spurious addition in the Textus Receptus) adds a phrase here that is actually found in verse 4).

[45] Cf. Phil 4:8.

[46] 'Abba" is an Aramaic term of endearment in the family; God is Dad! Cp. Mk. 14:36 and Gal. 4:6

[47] Cf. Matt. 21:38 where Jesus describes Himself as on heir - see also Matt. 25:24, Heb. 1:3, etc.

[48] Cf. Heb. 2:10-18 and II Tim. 2:11.

[49] It is clear that the Bible teaches no Platonic "immortality of the soul" doctrine. Rather, the Biblical emphasis is toward on immortal body, a gift from Him "who alone has immortality" (I Tim. 6:16; cf. I Cor. 15:35-58). The Biblical doctrine is bodily resurrection (see Acts 17:31f) in opposition to Greek philosophy.

[50] See also Jude 20 and Eph. 6:18.

[51] Actually, in the structure of the Greek text of these verses, all five verbs are aorist. This means that all these things have already been completed from God's point of view. In His mind we are actually "glorified" already (cf. Eph. 2:4-6 and 1:3).

[52] Cf. Ps. 27:1.

[53] Cf. II Pet. l:3ff.

[54] Paul combines all the forces of the universe and shows the paucity of their power when compared to Christ's love for us. He combines Gnostic terms "powers," etc. with astrological terms - "height," "depth"; thus, not even powers of other religions can remove us from the sphere of Christ's love.

[55] Rom. 4:16-18, 9:6-8, Gal. 3:6-9; 6:15,16. There are those who believe Rom. 9-11 to be on integral part of the book, and I am sure that from Paul's Jewish point of view, those chapters were essential. However, I am looking at it from my Gentile point of view. The essence of the book would not be changed for Gentiles if Rom. 9-11 were omitted. The logic of the first eight chapters moves directly to the "therefore" of 12:1.

[56] Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life (Fort Washington, Penn.: Christian Literature Crusade, 1972), p. 145.

[57] Cf. I Cor 12 where the word pneumatica appears, specifying those gifts there (even though some of the same words are used in Rom 12) as spiritual, i.e., supernatural (Greek: pneumatic) gifts. The gifts mentioned in Rom 12, however, are "natural" gifts (i.e. abilities and talents). But even these find their source in God.

[58] Your IQ, your looks, hair-color, etc. were already determined at the time of conception. There can be no room for pride.

[59] Cf. I Tim. 2:1-8 and I Pet. 2:13-17.