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Bible Commentaries

Dunagan's Commentary on the BibleDunagan's Commentary

- Romans

by Mark Dunagan





'When Paul wrote this epistle he had not been to Rome (1:15), but had often wished to go (1:13; 15:23), and now purposed to do so (15:24,28). How, then, was the church there brought into being? That it had originated early we deduce from the fact that when Paul wrote this epistle, the faith of those Roman believers was already "spoken of throughout the world" (1:8)'

It's Origin:

The tradition that the Church in Rome was founded by the apostle Peter fails to find supporting evidence in the New Testament. (a) In Paul's letter to the church in Rome he makes no mention of Peter, even though he mentions many Christians by name (16:1ff). (b) His letters written while imprisoned in Rome never mention Peter (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon). (c) Up to the conference in Jerusalem ( Act_15:1-41 -A.D. 52), Peter was still there (15:7, Gal_2:1 ) The probability is, either some of those present on the day of Pentecost ( Act_2:10 'sojourners from Rome') returned to plant the religion of Christ in that city, or in the dispersion of Jewish Christians from Jerusalem ( Act_8:1 ; Act_11:19 ). Moreover, the ever-busy intercourse between Rome and the provinces would almost certainly bring Christian converts to the capital, not only from Judaea, but from other parts as well.

It's Composition:

From the Roman letter we learn that the Church here was composed of both Gentile and Jewish elements. (1:13; 7:1; 11:13). Twenty-six persons are greeted in this letter, and two-thirds of the names are Greek. 'There was a Jewish community in Rome as early as the second century B.C. It was considerably augmented in consequence of Pompey's conquest of Judaea in 63 B.C.. In 59 B.C. Cicero makes reference to the size and influence of the Jewish colony in Rome. In A.D. 19 the Jews of Rome were expelled from the city by decree of the Emperor Tiberius, but in a few years they were back in as great numbers as ever. Not long after this we have the record of another mass-expulsion of Jews from Rome, this time by the Emperor Claudius (A.D. 41-54). This expulsion is briefly referred to in Act_18:2 (late summer A.D. 50). Aquila and Priscilla appear to have been Christians before they met Paul, and were probably members of the original group of believers in Jesus resident in Rome.'


'In the epistle itself we learn that Paul was about to go to Jerusalem with the collection by churches of Macedonia and Achaia "for the poor among the saints" (15:25-27). He frequently stressed this collection in the earlier letters to Corinth ( 1Co_16:1-4 ; 2Co_8:1-24 ; 2Co_9:1-15 ). Romans..must have been written later than 2 Corinthians, for he was on the verge of departing for Jerusalem (15:25 'but now, I am going to Jerusalem'). 2 Corinthians was written from Macedonia; from Macedonia he went to Greece ( Act_20:1-2 ) to collect the collection from Corinth ( 2Co_9:1-5 ). Other details inside the letter suggest that Romans was written from Corinth, just prior to Paul's departure for Jerusalem. He refers to Cenchrea (Corinth's western seaport-16:1), he commends Phoebe to the Romans (possibly the one who personally took the letter to Rome). He is entertained by Gaius (16:23); he had baptized a man by this name in Corinth ( 1Co_1:14 ). Erastus seems to have lived in Corinth also (16:23; 2Ti_4:20 ).

From Acts Chapter 20 we learn that after leaving Corinth Paul back-tracked through Macedonia (a slight change of plans-20:3) and crossed over to Troas ( Act_20:3 ; Act_20:5-6 ). He was trying to make it to Jerusalem by Pentecost (50 days after Passover) ( Act_20:16 ). Hence the date for this epistle must have been in the early spring. The shipping season in this part of the world, resumed in March. Hence Romans was written from Corinth, in the early spring of 57 or 58 A.D.


A Discussion of Serious Questions:

'The need for such a treatise is clear. When Paul wrote it the Gospel had been preached through the Roman world for a quarter of a century, and many communities of Christians had come into being. It was inevitable that the wide-spreading new faith should evoke momentous questions. What about the doctrine of God's righteousness if, as this new preaching says, sinners everywhere may be freely pardoned through grace? What about the relation of this "Gospel" to the Law of Moses? Does it not repudiate Moses? How can the admission of Gentiles to equal privilege with the Jews be reconciled with the O.T.? And what is going to become of morals if God is now going to deal with men on the ground of grace instead of holding them accountable to a righteous law? Will not people sin more than ever, that grace may abound? And what about Israel's special covenant-relation with God? Does not the new "Gospel" imply that God has now cast off His people?'

To Get the Jump on Error:

This letter does contain one reference to false teachers (16:17-18). Throughout much of his Christian life Paul had constantly battled against those who wanted to blend Christianity with Judaism ( Act_15:1-2 ; Act_15:5 ; Gal_5:2 ; Col_2:16 ). Many of the arguments in Romans would check this error. (3:20-31; 4:1-25; 7:1-6; 8:1-4)

To put things to Proper Perspective:

The purpose of the letter is to set forth, as Baur rightly expresses it, "both the relation of Judaism and heathenism to each other, and the relation of both to Christianity."'

How God Justifies the Sinner and the Jewish Problem:

In his commentary on Romans, Jim McGuiggan feels that Paul is dealing with three grand things in this letter. (1) To state and justify the doctrine of justification by faith apart from the works of the Law. (2) To defend that teaching against slanderous perversions of it (6:1). (3) To deal with the Jewish problem. Has the plan of God failed seeing that the vast majority of Jews remain unblessed and under condemnation before God? ( Rom_9:1-33 ; Rom_10:1-21 ; Rom_11:1-36 )


Man has always found favor with God on the basis of obedient faith.

Unbelief has always cut one off from God.

One will either feel God's wrath or God's mercy.

Error leads to depravity, doctrinal error cannot keep you morally pure.

All mankind needs Christ.

Salvation brings obligations to live a life of dedication to God.

The only system of justification that works is a system based on forgiveness and obedient faith.

The true Jew today is the faithful Christian.



Salutation: 1:1-7

An explanation of his absence and delay: 1:8-15

How God makes man righteous is found in the gospel: 1:16-17 The correct response, as always, is obedient faith.

The Unrighteousness that God's wrath is revealed against: 1:18-3:20 Or, what doesn't make man right with God.

Heathenism/Idolatry/Natural Religion: 1:18-32

Hypocritical Religion: 2:1-29 (2:28-29 hints at a concept that will be explored in further detail in Chapters 9-11).

The Jewish Condition under the Law of Moses: 3:1-20. The conclusion, both Jew and Gentile are under sin (3:9). The clear inference is all religion prior to Christianity failed to acquit man of his sins.

God's Righteousness is Found in a Relationship with Christ: (3:21-5:21)

Even the Law and the Prophets had predicted it: 3:21 In his arguments the Hebrew writer cites verses such as Jer_31:31-34 , to prove this point. ( Heb_10:16-17 )

It is for all, because all are in need of it: All previous religious systems have failed. (3:22-23)

The method of this justification: 3:21-31 One doesn't earn it, and yet it does have conditions-i.e. obedient faith.

Demonstration and proof that obedient faith is the condition that God has always required: 4:1-25 The just (righteous) have always lived by faith. (1:17)

The results of this justification: 5:1-11

Condemnation through Adam is not reversed in Christ: 5:12-21


Grace is no excuse to sin: 6:1-23 For being alive in Christ means being dead to the habitual practice of sin.

We have been released from a Law that we could never be justified under: 7:1-8:4

The Obligation and Blessed Future of those who walk after the Spirit: 8:5-39


Grief Expressed for the lost condition of many Jews: 9:1-5

But this isn't inconsistent with the facts: 9:6-33

Physical lineage never made you a true Jew: 9:6-14. Same argument is found in 11:1-5.

Justice requires such a response from God: 9:15-24

Such a rejection was predicted by the Prophets: 9:25-29

The cause is in the fault of the Jews themselves: 9:30-10:21

The faithful have always been accepted, the disobedient always rejected: 11:1-36


The Foundation, a renewed mind and a body devoted to the service of God: 12:1-3

The fruit of such, use of one's talents, service to others: 12:4-21

The Christian Life as to Civil Obligations: 13:1-14

Conscientious submission to the laws of the land: 13:1-7

Neighbor love: 13:8-14

The Christian Life and Mutual Considerations: 14:1-15:13

People are more important that personal liberties and matters of opinion: 14:1-23

The incentive-the example of Christ: 15:1-13


Paul's personal plans and requests: 15:14-32

Commendation of Phoebe: 16:1-2

Salutations and Exhortations: 16:3-27



Author-Paul (1:1; 15:18-31)

Written from Corinth (16:23). Paul was ready to depart for Jerusalem with the contribution for the saints. (15:25-26) The year being 57 or 58 A.D., probably early in the spring.

Written to the church in Rome, which had existed for some time (15:23), and had a reputation for faithfulness. (1:8; 16:19)

Theme of the book: 1:16 The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for both Jewish and Gentile believers.

Basic outline of the book: (1) To state and justify the doctrine of justification by faith apart from the works of the Law. (Chapters 1-5) (2) To defend it against slanderous perversions (Chapters 6-8). (3) To deal with the "problem" of unblessed Jews. (Chapters 9-11) (4) Such mercy as seen in the sacrifice of Christ demands a transformed life. Manifested in our dealings with brethren and the world (Chapter 12). Our relationship to civil government (Chapter 13). In learning to give up our rights for the soul of a brother. (Chapter 14-15)


The Premise Stated (1:16)/Man Made Religion Has Only Degraded Mankind.

The Jews Had Also Sinned Against the Knowledge They Had Because Of An Uncircumcised Heart.

All Have Sinned/Faith in Jesus the Access To Justification.

Abraham and David/Examples of Men Justified By Faith.

Christ Didn't Die For Righteous Men/Law Demonstrates the Need for a Saviour.

Does Grace Mean We Can Continue In Sin? No! Our Baptism Demonstrated a Death to the Practice of Sin. Our Obedience From the Heart Has Given Us a New Master.

The Struggle Of One Trying To Live By Perfect Lawkeeping.

No Condemnation In Christ Jesus, For Those That Walk After The Spirit And Endure With Him. The Hope Of The Resurrection, The Intercession Of The Spirit, God's Love For Me Despite The Situation.

All Israel Isn't True Israel, Being Used In God's Plan Didn't Guarantee One Favor With God.

How Accessible Righteousness Based On Faith Is/One Needs To Simply Confess and Obey What They Hear Preached.

At Present A Remnant Exists/Unbelief Cuts One Off From God

Change Happens When the Mind is Renewed/Use Your Talents.

The Reason Behind Subjection To the Civil Authorities/Time to Wake Up.

Love of Neighbor Applied In the Realm of Personal Liberity and Matters of Opinion.

Please Your Neighbor For His Good/Pauls Aim in Preaching and His Desire to Visit Rome.

Commendation of Phoebe/Personal Greetings/Warning Against False Teachers.


Total Hereditary Depravity vs. Man has Great Potential for Good or Evil, Depending On His Own Choice:

Instead of teaching that one is born in sin and opposed to all good. In this book we find that even sinners understand God's will (1:32). Man ends up in sin, not because he inherits the guilt of Adam's sin, but because he chooses to walk in the ways of Adam. (5:12) Man isn't born a sinner, for Paul describes the period of his childhood as one of spiritual life. (7:9) And even when Paul was outside of Christ, he still desired to do good. (7:15-16)

Unconditional Election (Predestination) vs. Free Will:

Instead of teaching the predestination of specific individuals, regardless of their own choice in the matter. This book teaches that salvation to open to all (1:16). And the only thing predestined was the Saviour and the conditions on which salvation would be obtained. God predestined that salvation in Christ would be on the basis of faith, hence no one has been excluded from the opportunity to be saved. Since all can express faith. (4:16) That your eternal destiny depends on your own free-willed choice, is continually stressed throughout the book. (1:16; 2:4-11; 6:16-17; 8:12-13; 9:30-32; 10:1-3,8-11,17; 11:20-23; 14:15)

Limited Atonement vs. Christ Died For All Men:

Instead of teaching that Jesus only died for the predestined, this book teaches that Christ died for all. Hence salvation can be proclaimed in honesty and integrity to the whole of mankind. (1:14,16; 3:22,26) Paul proclaims that the benefits of Christ's death are available to every sinner. (5:15,18)

Irresistible Grace vs. Faith Comes By Hearing:

Instead of teaching that the direct operation of the Holy Spirit is needed, before a man can even respond at all to the gospel message. Paul teaches that the "power" is in the message itself. (1:16; 10:17)

Once Saved Always Saved vs. Salvation Is Conditional:

Too many passages exist in this book that contradict the idea that a Christian can never lose their salvation. (2:1-13; 6:1-2; 12-15; 8:13,25; 11:21) Such a view is just as erroneous as the belief which many Jews held, that a geneology traced back to Abraham was their ticket to heaven. In this letter, we find many people that knew about God, knew His will, and were at one time the "people of God"; who found themselves outside of God's blessing of salvation. (1:18-19,32; 2:1-5; 23-29; 3:3,9; 10-18; 9:1-6, 27-29; 10:1-3; 19-21; 11:7)


The Faith That Has Always Resulted In Justification Is An Obedient Faith: (1:5; the type of faith that a man would "live" by-1:17; the faith expressed by Abraham-4:16-22; 6:17; 15:18; 16:19,26.)

God Placed Salvation On the Basis Of Such A Faith, Because Every Person Can Fully Trust Him: (4:16) Hence we only have ourselves to blame if we miss eternal life. (2:1-5) Salvation isn't based on who you are related to, or works of human merit, or being merely a good moral person.

Grace Isn't An Excuse To Sin, Rather It Should Bring Gratitude And A Transformed Life: (12:1ff)

Most People/Cultures Know More About God/Right And Wrong, Then They Would Care To Admit: (1:18-32) Hence, all stand before God without excuse for not obeying His Will.

Outward Religion Is Never Enough/True Change Comes When the Heart is Changed. (2:28-29; 12:1-2)

Human Faithlessness Doesn't Deter God's Plans: (3:3-4; 9:16-33; Chapter 11)

All Have Sinned: (3:23) Everyone has failed in their attempt to try to please God outside of Christ. Outside of Christ no mercy is found, outside of Christ is the realm of "pure law", without forgiveness for transgressions. (8:1) Even Paul had failed to successfully live a life pleasing to God, outside of Christ (Chapter 7).

Considering the Type of Death That Christians Are Baptized Into/ Newness of Life, Service For God Should Result: Chapter 6

God Is For Us! (5:6-11; 8:18-39)

All Israel Never Constituted The People Of God/God Has Always Considered Obedient Believers To Be His True People: (Chapters 9-11)

Salvation In Christ Demands A Life Of Other-Centeredness: (Chapters 12-15)


1. The Author of the book of Romans is:

a. Apollos

b. Peter

c. Paul

d. Hillary Clinton

2. The Theme of the book may be best identified in which of the following verses?

a. Rom_15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the scriptures we might have hope.

b. Rom_8:28 And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.

c. Rom_5:1 Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ;

d. Rom_1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

3. Paul said the gospel revealed God's:

a. Holiness

b. Faithfulness

c. Righteousness

d. Eternal Nature

4. The existence of God has been clearly seen since:

a. The Flood

b. The Tower of Babel

c. The Babylonian Captivity

d. The Creation

5. The greatest advantage the Jewish nation had was:

a. The Ark of the Covenant

b. A picture of Moses

c. The oracles of God

d. The Temple

6. Paul said that through the Law came:

a. Righteousness

b. Justification

c. Freedom

d. The Knowledge of Sin

7. David spoke of the man that God reckons righteousness to as the:

a. Good moral man

b. The forgiven man

c. The perfect man

d. The unrepentant man

8. Paul said that when the Law came in, transgression......:

a. Increased

b. Decreased

c. Stayed the same

d. Ceased altogether

9. In Chapter six Paul uses which relationship to make his point:

a. Parent-child.

b. Husband-wife

c. Master-slave

10. In Chapter seven Paul said the Law is:

a. Hard to Understand

b. Unfair

c. Mysterious

d. Holy, righteous and good

11. 'For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through.....'

a. The flesh

b. It's lack of clarity

c. It's age

d. It's irrelevance.

12. Paul said that we are heirs of God if:

a. We suffer with Him

b. Have the right ancestry

c. Are good moral people

d. We have good lawyer.

13. Paul said that Christians eagerly await:

a. The destruction of the wicked

b. The redemption of our body

c. Sanctification

d. The next election

14. All things work together for good to :

a. Jews

b. Gentiles

c. Those that live sinless lives

d. Those that love God

15. Paul was convinced that nothing could separate him from:

a. Salvation

b. Justification

c. God's love for Him

d. His love for God

16. In Chapter nine which job is mentioned?

a. A potter

b. A metalsmith

c. A carpenter

d. A politician

17. In Chapter ten one needs to believe that:

a. Jesus lived

b. Arose from the dead

c. Died

d. Jesus was a good man

18. What O.T. character is mentioned in Chapter 11?

a. David

b. Abraham

c. Elijah

d. Isaiah

19. All Israel will be saved:

a. Unconditionally

b. Against their will

c. By works

d. In the same way others end up saved.

20. Paul said 'Let love be without...':

a. Hypocrisy

b. Emotion

c. Obedience

d. Apologies

21. Paul said 'Abhor...':

a. High prices

b. Disease

c. What is evil

d. Tribulations

22. We need to be in subjection to governing authorites:

a. To look good.

b. Because of taxes

c. Because of wrath and conscience

d. Because we don't have any choice

23. Make no provision for' :

a. Hard times

b. The flesh

c. Sleep

d. Guests

24. 'Let us pursue the things which..':

a. Are comfortable.

b. Build others up

c. Make us feel good.

d. Cause problems

25. 'For whatever was written in earlier times was written for..':

a. Past generations

b. Our instruction

c. No good reason

d. A time in the future

26. 'For I am not ashamed of the Gospel':

a. 2:4

b. 1:16

c. 11:25

d. 15:26

27. 'All the churches of Christ salute you':

a. 3:2

b. 7:17

c. 12:6

d. 16:16

28. 'not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance':

a. 5:9

b. 2:4

c. 8:6

d. 11:23

29. 'Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed..?:

a. 15:1

b. 1:8

c. 6:21

d. 8:27

30. 'So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ':

a. 10:17

b. 3:19

c. 13:12

d. 16:4

31. 'Do not be conformed to this world':

a. 12:2

b. 16:17

c. 2:3

d. 4:5

32. 'Behold then the kindness and severity of God':

a. 12:12

b. 9:3

c. 11:22

d. 1:2

33. 'All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God':

a. 4:12

b. 11:35

c. 15:1

d. 3:23

Match the subject matter with the chapter in which it is found:

Ch. 1_____ A. Christ didn't die for righteous men Ch. 2_____ B. All have sinned Ch. 3_____ C. One needs to simply confess and obey what they hear preached Ch. 4_____ D. Does grace mean we can continue in sin? No! Ch. 5_____ E. Man made religion has only degraded mankind. Ch. 6_____ F. Commendation of Phoebe Ch. 7_____ G. No condemnation in Christ Jesus Ch. 8_____ H. Paul's aim in preaching and his desire to visit Rome. Ch. 9_____ I. Jews had also sinned against the knowledge they had because of an uncircumcised heart. Ch. 10_____ J. At present a remnant exists, unbelief cuts one off from God. Ch. 11_____ K. Change happens when the mind is renewed. Ch. 12_____ L. Abraham and David, examples of men justified by faith. Ch. 13_____ M. The struggle of one trying to live by perfect lawkeeping. Ch. 14_____ N. All Israel isn't true Israel, being used in God's plan didn't guarantee one favor with God. Ch. 15_____ O. The reason behind subjection to the civil authorities. Ch. 16_____ P. Love of neighbor applied in the realm of personal liberity.

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