Romans 1-4
Romans 1-4
Introducing the Gospel
Published September 14th, 2020; Updated May 17th, 2022
Share / Groups / About Author
Romans 1:1-7
Romans 1:8-15
Romans 1:16-17
Romans 1:18-23
Romans 1:24-32
1:1-7 The majority of this introduction is spent on describing the gospel itself and the purpose of Jesus giving grace and apostleship. Paul is not concerned with his own status apart from what God has done to make him an apostle -- how do you define your purpose? Is it on the basis of your own innate abilities? Or is it based on what God himself has given you as your purpose? Paul goes into a declaration of the gospel as the fulfillment of God's promises and the validation of Jesus as both the son of David and the son of God 1:8-15 Head -- Paul knows his mission - to preach the Gospel to all. He knows his obligation to all people. He knows he needs to encourage and be encouraged by the church in Rome. Heart -- Paul's heart for the Romans shines through. He is 'eager' to preach the gospel, 'longs' to see them, desires to be 'mutually encouraged' with them, and prays constantly for them. We ought to have a heart of love, even for those whom we may have never met! Paul likely hadn't been to this church, though he knew some of them. Paul is so in love with Christ's church that he has a deep desire to visit and encourage those whom he hasn't even met. The repetition of you and yours really drives this home. Hands -- 1:18-23 Head -- the reality of God and His power and creation is obvious, 'plain', 'clearly perceived'. It cannot be missed -- indeed those who reject Him "knew God". They simply suppress that truth by exchanging Him for other false gods. His reality is obvious in creation itself -- we can see it in the things made. We ought to be clear headed in this -- creation is an obvious pointer to God's power and divinity. Heart -- God does not only desire our acknowledgement of him as God, but he desires our gratitude. Our hearts are to give him thanks for his creation and for his provision of all things for us. Similarly, we are to honor him as God -- give him honor that is fitting for his nature. Surely this cannot be done, but we are to give him all honor and glory and thanks from the heart. Hands -- The wrath of God is revealed, and we must warn of this wrath. It is no small thing. It is eternal and infinite and we must bear witness to what will happen to those who do reject God and deny him his proper role in this universe. We must warn 'against all ungodliness and unrighteousness' because the wrath of God is coming and indeed is here. 1:24-32 Head -- A couple of things worth noting. God indeed gives men up to their sin and what follows. It says it three times in this passage, clearly three sections of grounds and outcomes. He executes judgement in this life partially by releasing sinners to the conclusion of their sin in this life. All three times it is grounded in a failure to recognize God as God and instead an exchange of Him for the created things. Heart -- In all three cases, the ground is exchanging God for something else, or refusing to acknowledge God. Surely this is more than an intellectual ascent to the existence of a deity. Worship of this God is required -- worship that is rooted in faith and trust in the creator. Our hearts themselves must be wrapped up in Him lest we be given up to dishonor. Hands -- Repentance is ultimately what this ought to lead us to. We Christians, as well as all men, must repent of our 'unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice' because all have sinned in this way. We all have a debased mind, apart from Christ. Turn from these attitudes! They are wicked!
Romans 1:1-7
Romans 1:1-7
Paul's Introduction
Paul's Identity in the Gospel
a servant
Explanation #1
of Christ Jesus,
called to be an apostle,
Explanation #2
set apart
for the gospel
of God,
Content of the Gospel
which he promised
through his prophets
in the holy Scriptures,
concerning his Son,
who was descended
from David
according to the flesh
and was declared
to be the Son
of God
in power
according to the Spirit
of holiness
by his resurrection
from the dead,
Jesus' Purpose
Jesus Christ our Lord,
through whom we have received grace
and apostleship
to bring about the obedience
of faith
for the sake of his name
among all the nations,
including you
who are called
to belong to Jesus Christ,
Greeting of Grace and Peace
To all those
in Rome
who are loved
by God
and called
to be saints:
Grace ... and peace
to you
from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the savior on the basis of both the fleshly standard (of the line of King David) and of the spiritual standard (declared to be the Son of God by the Holy Spirit) -- Jesus is a twice-valid savior
Paul's identity is founded in who Jesus is and what God has done in the gospel -- so much so that he goes into a lengthy explanation of the gospel as he introduces himself
Moo paraphrases as "sent by God"
More likely "appointed" accd to moo
Apostleship explains grace -- it is the special gift he has received from Christ
Romans 1:8-15
Romans 1:8-15
Thanks for Their Faith
Paul's Prayer for the Romans
First, I thank my God
through Jesus Christ
for all of you,
because your faith is proclaimed
in all the world.
Asking to Come to Rome
For God is my witness,
whom I serve
with my spirit
in the gospel
of his Son,
that ... I mention you
without ceasing
in my prayers,
asking that somehow ... I may ... succeed
in coming to you.
by God’s will
now at last
To Encourage
Paul's Reasons for Coming to Rome
For I long to see you,
that I may impart to you
some spiritual gift
to strengthen you—
that is, that we may be mutually encouraged
by each other’s faith,
both yours
and mine.
To Reap
I do not want you to be unaware, brothers,
that I have often intended to come
to you
(but thus far have been prevented),
in order that I may reap some harvest
among you
as well as among the rest
of the Gentiles.
Preach the Word
I am under obligation both to Greeks
and to barbarians,
both to the wise
and to the foolish.
So I am eager
to preach the gospel
to you also
who are in Rome.
Coming to the Romans will only happen if it is 'by God's will' -- just as James taught us
Paul's prayer for the Romans is 'without ceasing' and 'always' -- two strong statements of his continually praying for them
'through' more so in the sense of because of Christ's work giving Paul access to God, rather than as the mediator?
Romans 1:16-17
Romans 1:16-17
Gospel Power
For I am not ashamed
of the gospel,
for it is the power
of God
for salvation
to everyone
who believes,
to the Jew first
and also to the Greek.
For in it the righteousness ... is revealed
of God
from faith
for faith,
as it is written,
“The righteous shall live
by faith.”
Huge main point of the letter -- cf Rom. 3:21-26 -- the righteousness of God has been revealed in the gospel, which has brought salvation to all believers
Reason for desiring to preach in Rome (from above)
"everyone who believes" also used in cf. 3:22, 4:11, 10:4, 10:11 Refers usually to the breaking down of the wall between gentile and Jew
Perhaps better rendered "the one who is righteous by the means of faith shall live"
Both an act and a gifted status -- moo: " the act by which God brings people into right relationship with himself"
Romans 1:18-23
Romans 1:18-23
Object of God's Wrath
For the wrath ... is revealed
of God
from heaven
against all ungodliness
and unrighteousness
of men,
who ... suppress the truth.
by their unrighteousness
God's glory is clear
Reason for God's Wrath
For what can be known about God is plain
to them,
because God has shown it
to them.
For his invisible attributes, ... have been clearly perceived,
namely, his eternal power
and divine nature,
ever since the creation
of the world,
in the things
that have been made.
So they are without excuse.
God has not been thanked
For although they knew God,
they did not honor him
as God
or give thanks
to him,
but they became futile
in their thinking,
and their foolish hearts were darkened.
God has been replaced
Claiming to be wise,
they became fools,
and exchanged the glory
of the immortal God
for images resembling mortal man
and birds
and animals
and creeping things.
According to the standard required as God
"Truth" is something to obey, not just mentally understand. To disobey is to suppress the truth. It is a failure to recognize and embrace truth.
God has not been passive in revealing himself -- he has actively shown himself to them (us)
oxymoron! "invisible" attributes are "clearly perceived"
Natural revelation does not lead to salvation, but only to condemnation. None are saved through this general revelation, but only shown to be culpable of idolatry -- though they KNOW, they still worship other 'gods'.
Romans 1:24-32
Romans 1:24-32
Outcome/Ground Pair 1
Therefore God gave them up
in the lusts
of their hearts
to impurity,
to the dishonoring
of their bodies
among themselves,
because they exchanged the truth about God
Ground #1
for a lie
and worshiped
Ground #2
and served the creature
rather than the Creator,
who is blessed forever! Amen.
Outcome/Ground Pair 2
For this reason God gave them up
to dishonorable passions.
For their women exchanged natural relations
Explanation #1
for those
that are contrary to nature;
and the men ... gave up natural relations
Explanation #2
with women
and were consumed with passion
for one another,
men committing shameless acts
with men
and receiving ... the due penalty
in themselves
for their error.
Outcome/Ground Pair 3
And since they did not see fit
to acknowledge God,
God gave them up
to a debased mind
to do what ought not to be done.
They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness,
Result #1
They are full of envy,
Result #2
They are gossips,
Result #3
of God,
Result #3 cont.
of evil,
disobedient to parents,
Result #3 cont.
Knowingly Approve Evil
Though they know God’s righteous decree
that those ... deserve to die,
who practice such things
they not only do them
but give approval
to those
who practice them.
From cf 1:21-23: they exchanged the glory of the immortal God
Lists progress from broad in scope, to more narrow in scope; general evil to specific attitudes and actions
Exchanging the truth about God devolves into exchanging natural for unnatural -- our daily lives and relationships will reflect our relationship with God
Audaciously rude or disrespectful; impertinent or impudent.
Of the three "giving up" statements, this is the only one regarding mind, thought, rather than actions
Gk: organ of moral reasoning and willing -- same as in Rom 12:2 -- only the spirit can renew the mind! Apart from that we are incapable of truly understanding biblical ethics
Romans 2:1-5
The Self-righteous will be judged
Initial Pronouncement
Therefore you have no excuse,
O man,
every one
of you
who judges.
For in passing judgment
on another
you condemn yourself,
because you, the judge, practice the very same things.
Accusation of Presumption
We know
that the judgment ... rightly falls
of God
on those
who practice such things.
Do you suppose,
O man—
you who judge those
who practice such things
and yet do them yourself—
that you will escape the judgment
of God?
Or do you presume on the riches
of his kindness
and forbearance
and patience,
not knowing
that God’s kindness is meant to lead you
to repentance?
Result of Presumption
But because of your hard
and impenitent heart
you are storing up wrath for yourself
on the day
of wrath
when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
Our judgment attempts to take the place of God's judgment
Relates primarily to Romans 1:18-19 -- the judgement of God and the reality of all of man's culpability; also continues the idea of being without excuse, just as in ch 1
"practice such things" comes from 1:32 -- likely that Paul is referencing those sins listed prior
God's judgement is righteous, good. see 2:2.
Romans 2:6-11
God, the Impartial Judge
He will render to each one
according to his works:
to those who by patience in well- doing seek for glory
and honor
and immortality,
he will give eternal life;
but for those who are self- seeking
Explanation (Neg)
and do not obey the truth,
but obey unrighteousness,
Explanation of 8a
there will be wrath and fury.
Result of 8a
There will be tribulation and distress
for every human being who does evil,
the Jew first
Explanation of 9b
and also the Greek,
but glory and honor and peace
for everyone who does good,
the Jew first
Explanation of 10b
and also the Greek.
For God shows no partiality.
You obey one or the other: truth or unrighteousness
There are only two possible results -- which one are you?
Selfishness is here identified as the underlying sin
"every soul of a person"
Same phrase as 1:16 -- God's prioritizing of the Jew comes in both blessing and cursing
Romans 2:12-16
For all who have sinned without the law will also perish
without the law,
and all who have sinned under the law will be judged
by the law.
For it is not the hearers
of the law
who are righteous
before God,
but the doers
of the law
who will be justified.
For when Gentiles, ... ... do what the law requires,
who do not have the law,
by nature
they are a law to themselves,
even though they do not have the law.
They show that the work ... is written
of the law
on their hearts,
while their conscience also bears witness,
and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them
on that day
when, ... God judges the secrets
of men
by Christ Jesus.
according to my gospel,
That is the law of Moses, the Torah -- not that they are lawless
"their conscience bearing witness"
Modifies "do" -- they are doing the law by nature, because of internal law -- an innate moral sense of right and wrong
The work of the law -- meaning the demands of what is to be done, but not the grace to carry it out
"It is through Christ Jesus that God will judge, as my gospel teaches"
Does this mean it's possible to be justified by works? In some sense, yes -- in theory, perfectly following the law in every sense could bring salvation. The issue is that no one can possibly do this because of our sin-tainted hearts. See Moo pg 155
There will come a day of reckoning for all.
Romans 2:17-29
The Law is insufficient
But if you call yourself a Jew
Condition #1
and rely on the law
and boast in God
and know his will
and approve what is excellent,
because you are instructed from the law;
and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind,
Condition #2
a light to those
who are in darkness,
an instructor of the foolish,
a teacher of children,
having in the law the embodiment
of knowledge and truth—
you then ... do you not teach yourself?
who teach others,
While you preach against stealing, do you steal?
You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?
You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?
You who boast in the law dishonor God
by breaking the law.
For, as it is written,
“The name of God is blasphemed
among the Gentiles
because of you.”
Circumcision is insufficient
For circumcision indeed is of value
if you obey the law,
but if you break the law,
your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.
So, if a man ... keeps the precepts of the law,
who is uncircumcised
will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?
Then he ... will condemn you
who ... keeps the law
is physically uncircumcised but
who ... break the law.
have the written code and circumcision but
For no one is a Jew
who is merely one outwardly,
nor is circumcision outward and physical.
But a Jew is one inwardly,
and circumcision is a matter of the heart,
by the Spirit,
not by the letter.
His praise is not from man
but from God.
cf Jer 9:23-24 -- boasting is not in and of itself wrong. Boasting in God is what we are called to!
1) could be relaxing of laws against using precious metals in the first century 2) Could be robbing the Jerusalem Temple by not paying taxes 3) could be general sacrilege. option 1 most likely, See Moo pg 164
cf Isa. 52:5
Circumcision as a heart matter is not new -- see Deut. 10:16, Jer. 4:4
Reflects the new covenant -- we are saved by the Spirit giving us new hearts and not by obedience to the law
Romans 3:1-8
The Jewish Advantage
Four Questions
Then what advantage has the Jew?
Or what is the value of circumcision?
Much in every way.
To begin with,
the Jews were entrusted with the oracles
of God.
God's Faithfulness
What if some were unfaithful?
Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness
of God?
By no means!
Let God be true
though every one were a liar,
as it is written,
“That you may be justified
in your words,
and prevail
when you are judged.”
God's Righteousness
But if our unrighteousness serves
to show the righteousness
of God,
what shall we say?
That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us?
( I speak in a human way.)
By no means!
For then how could God judge the world?
God's Truth
But if ... God’s truth abounds
through my lie
to his glory,
why am I still being condemned
as a sinner?
And why not do evil
that good may come?—
as some people slanderously charge us with saying.
Their condemnation is just.
From ch. 2 -- we have just established that righteousness does not come from mere circumcision, but that of the heart (2:29). It is only of value if you are actually in line with God's will, obeying the law. So then what is the value of it at all?! Quite a reasonable question.
Answer 2 : God is always true even if all men should lie (which we do). His character and trustworthiness is independent of what we do or our own trustworthiness.
Answer 1: just to start, the Jewish people were the ones through whom God gave all of His word! (cf 9:4-5)
Answer 3: God must inflict wrath upon evil, even if that evil has brought him glory and shown his righteousness because of the vast disparity between his righteousness and our unrighteousness. Criminals ought not be released because they make law-abiding citizens look better or because they make the judge execute a righteous judgement. God is the absolute judge according to Gen 18:25.
Answer 4: the mere though of doing evil on purpose in order to bring good is wicked and deserving of condemnation from God.
"the OT as a whole with special references to the promises" -- see Moo pg. 182
Psalm 51:4 David's sin has the purpose or result of God being shown right. In context, it's a purpose clause of David's confession and sin -- that God's judgement would be shown true. This means 'Let God be true' in 4b includes the negative or justice aspect of God's faithfulness to His Word. See 2 Timothy 2:11-13 for a similar example.
Given the understanding of 4e, this probably ought to be 'when you judge' rather than 'when you are judged'
Romans 3:9-20
What then?
Are we Jews any better off?
No, not at all.
For we have already charged that all, ... are under sin,
both Jews and Greeks,
as it is written:
“None is righteous,
Content #1: Comprehensive
no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside;
together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
Content #2: Speech
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
Content #3: Violence
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Content #4: Summary
Now we know
that whatever the law says it speaks
to those
who are under the law,
so that every mouth may be stopped,
and the whole world may be held accountable
to God.
For ... no human being will be justified
by works
of the law
in his sight,
since through the law comes knowledge
of sin.
Refers to 1:18 - 2:29, where Paul has shown the indictment upon Gentiles and Jews
Each line refers to a different organ of speech, emphasizing the complete corruption of our speech. It even is ordered in how speech flows
from Psalm 14:1-3 or Eccl. 7:20
Romans 3:21-26
The Righteousness of God
But now
the righteousness ... has been manifested
of God
Producer, Subjective
apart from the law,
although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—
the righteousness
of God
Producer, Subjective
through faith
in Jesus Christ
for all
who believe.
For there is no distinction:
for all have sinned
and fall short
of the glory
of God,
and are justified
Result 2
by his grace
as a gift,
through the redemption
that is in Christ Jesus,
whom God put forward
as a propitiation
by his blood,
to be received
by faith.
This was to show God’s righteousness,
Purpose 1
because ... he had passed over former sins.
in his divine forbearance
It was to show his righteousness
Purpose 2
at the present time,
so that he might be just
and the justifier
of the one
who has faith in Jesus.
What does the righteousness of God mean? - the righteousness He grants to us? As in the righteous status God grants to us. - The righteousness that he possesses? As in God's righteous character. - The righteousness that he causes in us? As in God 'rigeousnessing' (verb) us
Both an act and a gift -- the act by which God brings us into a right relationship with Him. "The justifying activity of God" - Moo pg 222
To describe the way God's righteousness is manifest, not to compare two kinds of righteousness, one apart from the law and one connected to the law
'in Jesus Christ' is a genitive in Greek
Highlights the universal availability of this righteousness -- it is for ALL, anyone who will believe in Jesus.
"To declare righteous" -- to be acquitted by God from all charges that could be brought against a person because of his or her sins.
Unconstrained by anything beyond His own will! His verdict is completely undeserved.
"liberation through the payment of a price"
God is the one who put him forward - he initiates the redemption
"mercy seat" of the ark on which blood would be sprinkled for atonement. Here, Paul is making Christ to be paralleled with the mercy seat and to be seen in connection with atonement broadly. See moo pg 231-236
cf. Rom 2:4 -- refers to God's patience, overlooking sin though it ought to be punished
God's consistency in always acting in accordance with his own character
In greek, this is a phrase clearly connected to the previous phrase.
Romans 3:27-31
The Righteousness of God
Then what becomes of our boasting?
It is excluded.
By what kind of law?
By a law
of works?
No, but by the law
of faith.
For we hold
that one is justified
by faith
apart from works
of the law.
Or is God the God ... only?
of Jews
Is he not the God ... also?
of Gentiles
Yes, of Gentiles also,
since God is one—
who will justify the circumcised
by faith
and the uncircumcised
through faith.
Do we then overthrow the law
by this faith?
By no means!
On the contrary,
we uphold the law.
Faith enables the law to truly be fulfilled -- see Rom 8:4. "Faith provides the complete fulfillment of God's demand in his law." Moo p 255
This is an alternative to justification being by faith and not by works (v 28). Because if it's based on works of the law, then God would indeed only be the God of Jews.
From the shema, Deut 6:4-5
Romans 4:1-8
Faith Apart from Works
Witness 1: Abraham
What ... shall we say was gained
by Abraham,
our forefather
according to the flesh?
For if Abraham was justified
by works,
he has something to boast about,
but not before God.
For what does the Scripture say?
“Abraham believed God,
and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
Witness 2: David
Now to the one
who works,
his wages are not counted as a gift
but as his due.
And to the one
who does not work but believes in him
who justifies the ungodly,
his faith is counted as righteousness,
just as David also speaks of the blessing
of the one
to whom God counts righteousness
apart from works:
“Blessed are those
whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man
against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
In Judaism, Abraham was particularly revered, and even especially in the 1st century. So it makes sense that he would use Abraham as an example to counter the narrative that Abraham perfectly obeyed the law and thus earned righteousness.
cf 3:27-28 -- all boasting is excluded on the basis of faith, including for Abraham
Gen 15:4-6, a restatement of the promise in Gen 12:1-3. Hebrew construction means 'to account to him a righteousness that does not inherently belong to him'. See Moo p262 and footnote.
Invokes David along with Abraham, two of the greatest OT men of God
Romans 4:9-12
Faith Apart from Circumcision
Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised?
For we say that faith was counted
to Abraham
as righteousness.
How then was it counted to him?
Was it before or after he had been circumcised?
It was not after,
but before he was circumcised.
He received the sign
of circumcision
as a seal
of the righteousness
that he had
by faith
while he was still uncircumcised.
The purpose was to make him the father
Purpose #1
of all
who believe without being circumcised,
so that righteousness would be counted to them as well,
and to make him the father
Purpose #2
of the circumcised
who are not merely circumcised
but who also walk in the footsteps
of the faith
that our father Abraham had
before he was circumcised.
Abraham's circumcision added nothing of material value to Abraham's status -- it merely signifies and confirms an existing truth
Romans 4:13-22
Faith Apart from the Law
to Abraham and his offspring
that he would be heir of the world
For the promise ... did not come through the law
but through the righteousness of faith.
For if it is the adherents
of the law
who are to be the heirs,
faith is null and the promise is void.
For the law brings wrath,
but where there is no law
there is no transgression.
That is why it depends on faith,
in order that the promise may rest on grace
and be guaranteed to all his offspring—
not only to the adherent
of the law
but also to the one
who shares the faith
of Abraham,
who is the father
of us all,
as it is written,
“I have made you the father
of many nations”—
in the presence
of the God
in whom he believed,
who gives life to the dead
and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
Faith Apart from Sight
In hope
he believed
against hope,
that he should become the father
of many nations,
as he had been told,
“So shall your offspring be.”
He did not weaken in faith
when he considered his own body,
which was as good as dead
( since he was about a hundred years old),
or when he considered the barrenness
of Sarah’s womb.
No unbelief made him waver
concerning the promise
of God,
but he grew strong in his faith
as he gave glory to God,
fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”
Abraham was promised many descendants, land, be a blessing to all the nations, and to possess the gates of his enemies. This is likely a summary of all God has promised to His people.
Transgression is a specific kind of sin: the passing beyond the limits set by a definite, positive law or command.
"those who are basing their hope for the inheritance on the law" - moo 275
The promise's dependence on grace is what means it can be given to ALL descendants. Otherwise, it would not be given to ANY descendants.
The fact that this promise of 17b-c was given in God's presence is significant because He is the one who brings dead things to life (see v19) and names things that are not yet real. It is grounding for the assurance of this promise.
Moo gives this more of a sense of 'names things as though they were' not necessarily referring to God's creative power. This is significant because God speaks of the 'nations' as though they already existed when they did not yet exist.
"Deadness" is the word used, accentuating God's bringing of life from that which is dead (v 17)
Romans 4:23-25
Application to Christians
But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone,
but for ours also.
It will be counted
to us
who believe
in him
who raised ... Jesus our Lord,
from the dead
who was delivered up
for our trespasses
and raised
for our justification.
Faith is ultimately in a person, and it is the same object as Abraham's, not only the same nature.
In what way is Jesu's resurrection tied to our justification? Not entirely clear, and it seems like Paul is emphasizing Jesus' death and resurrection as the basis of salvation. However, it is also true that Jesus' resurrection from the dead is a necessary basis of our continuing to be freed from the power of sin!
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.