The Salutation: Predestination of the Gospel- This passage of Scripture is called the salutation and is found in all thirteen of Paul's New Testament epistles and is used as an introduction to his letters. Paul wrote his salutations as a signature of authenticity ( 2 Thessalonians 3:17) just like we place our signature today at the end of a document. He may have written entire epistles as indicated in Philemon 1:19. However, there are indications in six of his epistles that Paul used an amanuensis to write most of his letters (see Romans 16:22, 1 Corinthians 16:21, Galatians 6:11, Colossians 4:18, 2 Thessalonians 3:17, Philemon 1:19).
2 Thessalonians 3:17, "The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write."
The salutation to the Romans in clearly reflects the theme of this great epistle, in which Paul prepares to set forth an exposition of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Woven within this salutation is a clear reference to God's the Father's divine plan of redemption as He foresaw man's fall from grace and the need to redeem him though Christ Jesus. Therefore, these verses serve as a platform upon which Paul then launches into the most divinely orchestrated and organized presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ every declared from human lips, a declaration which Paul had spent years learning and refining and defending as he traveled throughout his missionary journeys, speaking in the Jewish synagogues and from house to house with the Gentiles. We see in the phrases like "separated unto the gospel of God" ( Romans 1:1), "promised beforehand" ( Romans 1:2), "concerning His Son Jesus Christ" ( Romans 1:3), "declared to be the Son of God with power" ( Romans 1:4), and "for obedience to the faith among all nations" ( Romans 1:5), a description of how God has predestined mankind to be justified before Him through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, Romans 1:1-7 serves as a condensed summary of the contents of this epistle.
The Use of the Word "Gospel" - The word "Gospel" is a key word in the epistle to the Romans, being used thirteen times throughout this letter. In the first seventeen verses that make up the introduction ( ) and launches the reader into a doctrinal discourse on the grace of God ( Romans 1:16-17), the word is used four times and gives us a brief summary of the message of the Gospel. In this opening passage, we learn much about the Gospel message that Paul will expound in his epistle to the Romans:
1. The Gospel originated from God ( Romans 1:1)
2. It promised of the coming of the Messiah in the Old Testament ( Romans 1:2)
3. This Messiah is Jesus Christ of the seed of David ( Romans 1:3)
4. It declares the Resurrected Savior as the Son of God ( Romans 1:4)
5. It gives a commission to tell the world of the name of Jesus ( Romans 1:5)
6. Its proclamation brings the power to save those who believe ( Romans 1:16)
7. It reveals salvation by faith alone apart from works ( Romans 1:17)
Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
Romans 1:1 — "Paul" - Comments - Paul the apostle was called Saul by birth, a Jewish name, prior to his conversion ( Acts 8-13). He is first called by the Roman name Paul in Acts 13:9 during his first missionary journey. Scholars are not certain as to why the name change, so they propose a number of views.
(1) A Roman Surname- John Gill says that it was very common for Jews who lived outside of Palestine to take a Roman surname. 121]
121] John Gill, Acts, in John Gill's Expositor, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on Acts 13:9.
(2) A Name Change Upon Conversion - John Gill says another view is to understand that Paul changed his name upon his conversion, which was a common Jewish practice. 122]
122] John Gill, Acts, in John Gill's Expositor, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on Acts 13:9.
(3) A Latinized Corruption of Paul's Jewish Name- Some suggest that Saul was given this name by the Romans while on his missionary journeys, since by changing one consonant, the Romans would have had an easier time pronouncing his name in their language. Perhaps because the name Paul was more common among them, they were naturally inclined to call him by a familiar name that was more easily pronounced. This suggestion leads to the view that the name "Paul" is a Latinized form of "Saul."
Acts 13:9, "Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,"
(4) Named After His First Convert- Jerome (A.D 342to 420) tells us that Saul changed his name to Paul because this was the name of his first convert.
"As Sergius Paulus Proconsul of Cyprus was the first to believe on his preaching, he took his name from him because he had subdued him to faith in Christ." (Lives of Illustrious Men 5)
"…a primo Ecclesiae spolio proconsule Sergio Paulo, victoriae suae trophaea retulit, erexitque vexillum, ut Paulus diceretur e Saulo." (Commentary in the Epistle to Philemon 1:1) (PL 26 Colossians 604C)
(5) Named After His Short Stature - John Gill discussed the view that Saul was given the name Paul because of his short stature. 123]
123] John Gill, Acts, in John Gill's Expositor, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on Acts 13:9.
Romans 1:1 — "a servant of Jesus Christ" - Word Study on "servant" - BDAG says the Greek word "servant" ( δοῦλος) (1401) means "a slave." The opposite of δοῦλος (slave) is ἐλεύθερος (free). Paul uses δοῦλος to describe himself on four occasions in his epistles ( Romans 1:1, Galatians 1:10, Philippians 1:1, Titus 1:1).
Romans 1:1, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,"
Galatians 1:10, "For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."
Philippians 1:1, "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:"
Titus 1:1, "Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God"s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;"
Comments- makes a distinction between a hired servant and a bondservant (slave).
, "And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant: But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubilee:"
Comments- One reason why Paul uses the phrase "servant of Jesus Christ" often in his epistles is because many Old Testament people used this word in their relationship to God:
Genesis 26:24, "And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham"s sake."
, "And it was Song of Solomon, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job."
Joshua 1:1, "Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses" minister, saying,"
1 Samuel 3:9, "Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place."
2 Samuel 3:18, "Now then do it: for the LORD hath spoken of David, saying, By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and out of the hand of all their enemies."
2 Kings 19:34, "For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David"s sake."
1 Kings 3:9, "Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?"
2 Kings 9:36, "Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he said, This is the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel:"
2 Chronicles 32:16, "And his servants spake yet more against the LORD God, and against his servant Hezekiah."
Israel and Jacob:
Isaiah 44:21, "Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me."
Daniel 6:20, "And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?"
Haggai 2:23, "In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts."
Isaiah 52:13, "Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high."
Isaiah 53:11, "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities."
Paul became a servant at his conversion in Damascus ( ), although Ananias prophesied of his future divine calling unto the nations. He spent about fourteen years evangelizing Damascus and the regions of Syria and Cilicia prior to being sent out with Barnabas as an apostle. Notice that Paul calls himself a servant before declaring himself an apostle. The Greek language often lacks our familiar word order of Subject-Verb-Object. Instead, the Greek places words in the order of their emphasis, or the order of importance to the thought being presented. Because Greek is so highly inflected, there is little or no confusion when distinguishing between the subject and the object to its respective verb.
Therefore, in Romans 1:1 we see Paul placing his servitude to Jesus Christ before his office of apostleship. Paul's anointing to walk as an apostle is in direct proportion to his servitude to his Master. In the natural world, no business manager is worthy of his hire who is not first willing to carry out the will of the business owner. This is because the authority to rule over man is always based upon one's willingness to yield to a higher authority. Paul knew that the secret to walking in the anointing as a apostle was to daily crucify his own will and serve his Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Illustration- If anyone has ever had a servant that lived and worked in their home, they know that a servant is a person who abandons his own pursuits, and daily takes care of the pursuits and needs of the master. A servant does not have great plans for his own life. He literally gives his life so that the master"s goals and plans may be achieved. This is the heart of a servant.
Illustration - I was trying to comfort my precious wife one morning while we were serving the Lord in the mission field. After fifteen years working overseas, having left wonderful opportunities and a comfortable life in the United States, she said that she felt like a prisoner. She could not do what she wanted to do. She had her own dreams that she did not pursue. I then reminded her of Paul's description of himself in his epistles as a slave and even a prisoner of Jesus Christ. We talked about our feelings and concluded that life is very short, and all that we have gained in this world is left behind when we die. Thus, we reconciled ourselves to our fate of serving the Lord at the cost of sacrificing our own will and desires. Paul must have felt the same on occasions, looking at his family and loved ones who were able to enjoy a normal lifestyle, and stable home, and the many comforts that a home and family brings to one's life. While in the mission field planting churches in the Greco-Roman cities teaming with slavery, Paul identified himself with the life of a slave. While in prison, he called himself a prisoner of Jesus Christ. He gave himself daily to the will of God, often laying aside his own desires. (4October 2012)
Romans 1:1 — "called to be an apostle" - Comments - Paul was set apart as an apostle in the church at Antioch ( Acts 13:1-3). His conversion and his divine commission as an apostle to the Gentiles were the two most life changing events in Paul's life and he refers to them in this opening verse. Paul was an apostle with a divine calling. This divine calling stands in stark contrast to the Judaizers who had challenged Paul throughout his years as a missionary. These Jews believed that they were called and that Paul was beside himself. Paul well knew the dangers that awaited the soul of the man who falsely called himself such, as the prophet Jeremiah spoke of them.
Jeremiah 23:32, "Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD."
We see his first calling when Ananias prayed for him after his conversion on the Damascus road.
, "But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name"s sake."
Note other passages of Scripture that refer to Paul"s calling:
, "Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away."
Galatians 1:15, "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother"s womb, and called me by his grace,"
Paul refers to his office as an apostle in nine of his thirteen epistles. In contrast, John the apostle never referred to his office. Some scholars suggest that Paul makes this reference because he was often challenged by others in this office, unlike John. Peter also opens his epistles stating his apostleship in the Lord.
To those churches and individuals in which Paul displayed his apostleship over them in order to give correction and doctrine, he introduces himself as "an apostle of Jesus Christ" ( Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:1, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Galatians 1:1, Ephesians 1:1, Colossians 1:1, 1 Timothy 1:1, 2 Timothy 1:1 and Titus 1:1). To the Philippians Paul describes himself as a "servant." This is because within the context of this epistle Paul will give examples of himself ( Philippians 1:12-20), of Jesus Christ ( Philippians 2:1-11), of Timothy ( Philippians 2:19-24) and of Epaphroditus ( Philippians 2:25-30) as servants who laid aside their own wills and in order that to fulfill the will of those in authority over them. For this is the message and theme of Paul's epistle to the Philippians. To Philemon Paul declares himself as a "prisoner of Jesus Christ," because his message to Philemon was about a slave, or prisoner, who was serving Philemon. In his two letters to the church of Thessalonica Paul defers the use of a title in order to equate himself as co-workers with Silas and Timothy. He will refer to his apostleship in 1 Thessalonians 2:6, but he will be mindful to use it in the plural form as a co-worker with Silas and Timothy. This is because he emphasizes their need to labour together until Jesus returns.
Romans 1:1 — "separated unto the gospel of God" - Word Study on "separated" - Strong says the Greek word "separated" ( ἀφορίζω) (G 873) - Strong tells us this word literally means, "to set off by boundary" and figuratively, "to limit, exclude, appoint." Pallis says it suggests that Paul refers to himself as being "assigned to" a special task or duty, as a slave or officer were assigned their duties in the ancient times. 124]
124] Alex Pallis, To the Romans (Oxford: The Oxford University Press, 1920), 33.
Comments- In each of Paul's epistles the theme can be found in the opening verses. The secondary theme of the book of Romans is that the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is for all nations to be proclaimed to all people, as Paul presents the most lengthy explanation of the Good News found anywhere in Scriptures. Within this context the phrase "separated unto the Gospel of God" would mean that Paul the apostle was set apart for the unique task of laying down the doctrines of the New Testament Church. To be more exact, he built upon the foundational teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ that are recorded in the four Gospels. The writers of the General Epistles refer to Church doctrine, but it was Paul who laid down this doctrine in his nine Church Epistles. The book of Romans gives us a systematic overview of this doctrine upon which the other eight Church Epistles expound. Thus, Paul declares in his opening salutation the underlying theme of Romans, which is the laying down of Church doctrine through an exposition of the Gospel of God's plan of redemption for mankind.
Paul has made reference to his salvation experience on the Damascus Road (a servant of Jesus Christ), and to his divine commission as an apostle to the Gentiles (called to be an apostle). He now refers to his special task of being "separated unto the Gospel of Jesus Christ," which refers to his calling to establish the doctrines of the New Testament Church.
Scripture References- Note other passages of Scripture that refer to Paul being separated unto the Gospel of Jesus Christ:
Acts 13:2, "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them."
Galatians 1:15, "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother"s womb, and called me by his grace,"
, "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of Prayer of Manasseh, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."
Romans 1:1 — Comments - Romans 1:1 provides a four-fold summary of Paul's ministry. We see in his name "Paul" his conversion on the Damascus Road; we see approximately fourteen years of evangelistic efforts prior to being sent out as an apostle in the phrase "a servant of Jesus Christ"; we see his divine commission as an apostle to the Gentiles in Acts 13:1-3 in the phrase "called to be an apostle"; and finally we see a reference to his special task of being calling to establish the doctrines of the New Testament Church in the epistles in the phrase "separated unto the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Paul gives this four-fold order of events in his life because he initially became a servant after his conversion. Then, after many years of faithfulness, God anointed him into the office of an apostle. It was his faithfulness to fulfill his apostolic duties that allowed him to receive his special assignment to lay down Church doctrine. Thus, we can say that the statements in Romans 1:1 refer to the four phases that Paul has gone through in his Christian life in order to fulfill his divine calling and destiny. He began serving the Lord upon his conversion. While he was preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, the church at Antioch recognized his calling and set him apart and sent him out with Barnabas. At some point, he recognized his calling as an apostle to the Gentiles through a divine encounter. Perhaps in a visitation from the Lord Jesus, Paul received his commission to lay down Church doctrine through the writing of his church epistles. Finally, Paul will reflect upon the foreknowledge of God the Father in Romans 1:2, "Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures."
Kenneth Hagin's testimony helps us to understand this series of events in the life of a minister who has been called by God. After preaching for nine years he received an anointing to teach. 125] Hagin was then called into the field ministry after pastoring for twelve years. 126] The Lord spoke to him and said, "Go, teach My people faith." Hagin spent the rest of his life ministering this message of faith, teaching the body of Christ how to walk by faith in every area of their lives. This became his special calling, just as Paul understood that he was given a particular calling as an apostle.
125] Kenneth Hagin, Understanding the Anointing (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c 1983, 1994), 51-3.
126] Kenneth Hagin, I Believe In Visions (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c 1984, 1986), 51.
Note also that the collective theme of the epistles is to reveal the office and ministry of the Holy Spirit at work in the life of the Church as He sanctifies the believer. Both Paul's calling and his setting apart came through the mouths of men under the gift of prophecy through the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 1:2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)
Romans 1:2 — "Which he had promised afore" - Comments - The relative pronoun ὃ (which) is neuter, so its antecedent is the neuter noun εὐαγγέλιον (Gospel) used in the previous verse.
Romans 1:2 — "by his prophets in the holy scriptures" - Comments - The Holy Scriptures in Romans 1:2 refers to the Old Testament, which was written by the office of the prophet. When the prophets ceased to prophesy, the Old Testament canon was closed. This is confirmed by Josephus, who says, "It is true, our history hath been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but hath not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers, because there hath not been an exact succession of prophets since that time." (Against Apion 18). In addition, the opening verses of the epistle of Romans and of Hebrews state that the Old Testament was delivered to us by His prophets, thus revealing the fact that the Old Testament prophets were the ones who kept the canon open.
Romans 1:2, "(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)"
, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Song of Solomon, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;"
Just as the New Testament canon closed when the twelve apostles dies, so did the Old Testament canon close when the prophets ceased.
Romans 1:2 — Comments - In Romans 2:1 Paul is saying that the "Gospel of God" was preached beforehand in the Old Testament. Thus, Paul is reflecting upon the foreknowledge of God the Father in the Old Testament Scriptures, having just explained God's work of justification, sanctification and glorification in his own life and ministry. There are many references to the Gospel through Old Testament prophecies ( Galatians 3:8).
Galatians 3:8, "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed."
Paul goes into detail later in this Gospel about the foundational themes of God's divine plan of redemption found in the Old Testament. In this way, Paul is able to show God's wonderful redemption for the entire world. This message supports his call to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. In fact, within the thirteen epistles of Paul, when he uses the phrase "it is written," over half of them are used within the epistle of Romans. Thus, this verse indicates Paul's intent to rely heavily upon the Old Testament to support his exposition of the Gospel in this letter to the Romans.
Paul tells us in Romans 1:2 that the Gospel was promised afore by his prophets in the Holy Scriptures In his epistle to the Galatians, which was written years before his letter to the Romans, Paul quotes from Genesis 15:6 by saying that God preached the Gospel beforehand unto Abraham because He would justify the heathen by the same faith in which Abraham was walking.
Genesis 15:6, "And he believed in the LORD and he counted it to him for righteousness."
, "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed."
Romans 1:3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
Romans 1:3 — "Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord" - Comments - That Isaiah, the Old Testament Gospel was concerning, or referring, to Jesus. The testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ is seen throughout the Old Testament. Jesus said, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." ( John 5:39) The Pentateuch testifies of Jesus Christ through Jacob's prophecy to his son Judah ( Genesis 49:8-12), the symbolism of the Tabernacle, through Moses prediction of a coming Prophet like himself ( Deuteronomy 18:15; Deuteronomy 18:18), and others. Paul tells us that the Mosaic Law, which largely reflects the Pentateuch, served as a "schoolmaster" for the purpose of bringing us to Christ, saying, "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." ( Galatians 3:24) The Historical books of the Old Testament reveal God's divine intervention in the affairs of mankind, pointing them to a need for a Messiah. The Prophetic books of the Old Testament prophesied of a coming Messiah. We also see types of figures of the Lord Jesus Christ throughout the Poetic books. Therefore, the entire Old Testament is a testimony of the coming of Jesus Christ through the foreknowledge of God the Father. The Christ-centered theme of the Old Testament was recognized by the early Church fathers. For example, Athanasius (A.D 296-373), bishop of Alexandria, proposes the Christ-centered theme of the Old Testament Scriptures. He writes:
"All Divine Scripture prophesies of the descent of the Word to us, and of his coming in the flesh. For this is the will of God; and in the Prophets, and in all Holy Scripture this is primarily set forth. But to this Divine theme they add discourses concerning the nations, Babylon, Damascus, Moab, and others; and in every part of Scripture they rebuke sinner, and the wicked are urged to repent, and are threatened with the future judgment of fire. Other Scriptures, indeed, foretell: As Moses, ‘A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me;' and Isaiah, ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bring forth a son;' and Micah, ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be exalted to the top of the mountains;' and others prophesied in divers manners, according to the grace of the Spirit. But from all which they spake, the Lord, whom they foretold, was expected. Thus, many predicted Him, and until He came ceased not to prophesy of Him." 127]
127] Athanasius the Great, "The Synopsis of Holy Scripture," in The Song of Solomon, Translated into English Verse (London: Rivingtons, Waterloo Place, 1864), iv-v.
Martin Luther understood the Christ-centered theme of the Scriptures when he said, "No man understands the Scriptures, unless he be acquainted with the cross." (Table Talk 54) 128] In one of his conversations with a mixed group of neighbours and priests, William Tyndale (1494-1536) said:
128] Martin Luther, The Table Talk of Martin Luther, trans. William Hazlitt (London: H. G. Bohn, 1857), 25.
"‘Now the Scriptures are a clue which we must follow, without turning aside, until we arrive at Christ; for Christ is the end.' ‘And I tell you,' shouted out a priest, ‘that the Scriptures are a Daedalian labyrinth, rather than Ariadne"s clue a conjuring book wherein everybody finds what he wants.' ‘Alas!' replied Tyndale; ‘you read them without Jesus Christ; that"s why they are an obscure book to you…'" 129]
129] J. H. Merle D'aubign, History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century: Volume Fifth The Reformation in England, trans. H. White (New York: American Tract Society), 179.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a religion, a philosophy, an opinion, or a theory. It is about a real, living individual, the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel is about a personal relationship with Him. We find this declaration of the Gospel as a relationship with the Father and the Son in the opening verses of John's first epistle.
, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ."
Romans 1:4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
Romans 1:4 — Word Study on "declared" - Strong says the Greek word "declared" ( ὁρίζω) (G 3724) literally means, "to mark out or bound (horizon)," and figuratively, "to appoint, decree specify." BDAG says this word is used in Romans 1:4 to mean, "appoint, designate, declare." This word used 8 times in the New Testament, being translated in the KJV as, "determine 3, ordain 2, declare 1, limit 1, and determinate 1."
Comments - Jesus was first called the Son of God at His water baptism when the Father spoken from heaven saying, "Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased." ( Luke 3:22). The resurrection of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit forever settled any question regarding His deity. The resurrection determined and affirmed to mankind that He truly was the Son of God, a claim that Jesus Christ made throughout His public ministry. He did not become the Son of God at His resurrection; rather, the resurrection simply proved beyond question His deity. Jesus Christ became the Son at the time of His conception. Elisabeth called Mary "the mother of my Lord" ( Luke 1:43), referring to the deity conceived within Mary's womb. Matthew says Mary conceived a child in the womb by the power of the Holy Spirit ( Matthew 1:18; Matthew 1:20; Matthew 1:23). Paul testifies to the Philippian church of Jesus' pre-incarnate deity by sahing that Jesus Christ, being equal with God, took on the form of a servant, and came in the likeness of a man ( Philippians 2:6-7). Paul testifies to Timothy that God was manifested in the flesh ( 1 Timothy 3:16). Thus, prior to Jesus' birth, He was God pre-incarnate; but at His conception, He became the Son of God, verified and confirmed by the resurrection from the death.
Luke 3:22, "And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased."
Luke 1:43, "And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"
Matthew 1:18, "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost."
Matthew 1:20, "But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost."
Matthew 1:23, "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Song of Solomon, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted Isaiah, God with us."
, "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:"
1 Timothy 3:16, "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."
— Comments- The Testimony of Jesus' Humanity and Deity- The single most important event that established Jesus' humanity and Messiahship was the fact that He was the seed of David. The single most important miracle that established His deity was the miracle of His resurrection. John's Gospel records seven key miracles of Jesus' earthly ministry that declared His deity, with the seventh and final miracle being that of the Resurrection. Thus, John's Gospel declares Jesus as the Son of God through His resurrection from the dead.
Romans 1:5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
Romans 1:5 — "By whom we have received grace and apostleship" - Comments- This calling (salvation by God"s grace) and anointing (as an apostle) was received so that Paul and others could be equipped and able to bring obedience to the faith to all nations. Scholars suggest that the plural subject "we" is used because Paul was referring to the apostles of the Lamb and himself collectively. In other words, taking the Gospel to "all nations" was not an individual commission, but must be achieved by those appointed to the office of an apostle.
Romans 1:5 — "for obedience to the faith among all nations" - Comments - The phrase "for obedience to the faith among all nations" is repeated in Romans 16:26, "made known to all nations for the obedience of faith." Notice how Paul opens and closes this epistle with similar statements, revealing to us a key phrase in understanding the theme of the book of Romans, which theme is the declaration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations.
Romans 16:26, "But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:"
Romans 1:5 — "for his name" - Comments- Or, "in behalf of His name." We, as citizens of the kingdom of God, are ambassadors sent in behalf of Jesus Christ to proclaim the Gospel. Paul"s life and efforts were not for his own glory but for the glory of God. Paul worked in behalf of Jesus, in His Name. Glory to God! He was sent out in the name of Jesus Christ in the same way that Jesus began training His apostles by sending them out in His name.
Luke 10:17, "And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name."
Romans 1:5 — Comments- Paul probably wrote two epistles to the church at Corinth before writing his epistle to the Romans. In 2Corinthians Paul will use the churches of Macedonia as an example of faith and obedience when he exhorting the Corinthians to contribute to the collection for the poor saints at Rome.
2 Corinthians 8:5, "And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God."
Note Goodspeed, "They did far more than I hoped, for first in obedience to God's will, they gave themselves to the Lord, and to me."
— Comments - The Two-fold Nature of Old Testament Prophecies Concerning Christ - Romans 1:4-5 tells us that the Old Testament prophecies concerning Jesus Christ were two-fold, declaring that the Messiah would be of the seed of David, and that He would also be divine. In other words, the Messiah would be fully man and fully God.
Romans 1:6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:
Romans 1:6 — Comments - Paul's opening statement in Romans 1:1 acknowledges his own calling as an apostle of Jesus Christ. Thus, embedded in Paul's declaration in Romans 1:6 that they are the "called of Jesus Christ" is the potential for them to fulfill their callings just as Paul fulfilled his own calling. Every believer has the potential to walk in the gifts of the Spirit and to be appointed into the five-fold ministry. At that point, a believer's obedience determines the extent of its fulfillment.
Romans 1:7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 1:7 — "To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints" - Comments- A careful study of the Pauline salutations reveals that he always used the word "church" or "saints" to directly address an organized group of believers. In his epistle to the Romans, Paul uses the unique phrase, "To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints." This statement to the Roomans implies that this church was not a closely-knit church organization, but rather a loose group of believers meeting at various houses in the city. It may have been numerous congregations meeting throughout the city.
"beloved of God" - Paul will reveal to the Romans their position of being beloved by God as He expounds the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Romans 1-11. He will then explain how every beloved child of God can fulfill their individual callings in Romans 12-16, beginning with the believer's decision to offer his own body, or life, as a sacrifice in obedience to the Gospel ( Romans 12:1).
Romans 11:1, "I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin."
"called to be saints" - Paul addresses his Church epistles to the "saints." This description for his recipients reflects the underlying theme of the Pauline epistles, which is the sanctification of the New Testament Church. In contrast, Peter addresses his first epistle to the "the strangers scattered," or "sojourners," which is a reflection of the theme of the General Epistles, which is the perseverance of the saints. The epistles of Paul were written to the church, not to lost people, to people who were born again, not to the world. All of Paul"s epistles were written to believers. This is a very important point in interpreting many passages in his epistles.
We are all called as believers. Our calling begins immediately after conversion. This initial calling can be described as our initial steps of sanctification. It is a process that continues in each of our lives until we go to Heaven. Thus, we are called as "set apart ones," or "sanctified ones." After explaining how we are "beloved of God" in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Roman 1-11), Paul will show us how we can each fulfill our individual callings in Romans 12-16.
Romans 1:7 — "Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ" - Comments (The Pauline Greeting) - Scholars discuss the meaning of Paul's epistolary greetings from two different angles, either an historical approach or a theological approach.
(1) The Historical Approach - The historical approach evaluates the history behind the use of the words "grace" and "peace" in traditional greetings, with this duet of words limited in antiquity to New Testament literature. J. Vernon McGee says the word "grace" in Paul's greetings was a formal greeting used in Greek letters of his day, while the word "peace" was the customary Jewish greeting. 130] More specifically, John Grassmick says the Greek word χαίρειν was a common greeting in classical Greek epistles (note this use in Acts 15:23; Acts 23:26, James 1:1), so that χάρις was a "word play" Paul used in conjunction with the Hebrew greeting "peace." 131] Thus, Paul would be respectfully addressing both Greeks and Jews in the early Church. However, Paul uses these same two words in his epistles to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, which weakens the idea that Paul intended to make such a distinction between two ethnic groups when using "grace" and "peace." Perhaps this greeting became customary for Paul and lost its distinctive elements.
130] J. Vernon McGee, The Epistle to the Romans, in Thru the Bible With J. Vernon McGee (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1998), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), comments on Romans 1:1.
131] John D. Grassmick, "Epistolary Genre," in Interpreting the New Testament Text, eds. Darrell L. Bock and Buist M. Fanning (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2006), 232.
(2) The Theological Approach- Another view is proposed by James Denny, who explains the relationship of these two words as a cause and effect. He says that grace is God's unmerited favor upon mankind, and the peace is the result of receiving His grace and forgiveness of sins. 132] In a similar statement, Charles Simeon says the phrase "‘grace and peace' comprehended all the blessings of the Gospel." 133]
132] James Denney, The Epistles to the Thessalonians, in The Expositor's Bible, eds. William R. Nicoll and Oscar L. Joseph (New York: Hodder and Stoughton, n.d.), 15-16.
133] Charles Simeon, 2 Peter, in Horae Homileticae, vol 20: James to Jude (London: Holdsworth and Ball, 1833), 285.
Comments (The Pauline Blessing) - In a similar way that the early apostles were instructed by Jesus to let their peace come upon the home of their host ( Matthew 10:13), so did Paul the apostle open every one of his thirteen New Testament epistles with a blessing of God's peace and grace upon his readers. Matthew 10:13 shows that you can bless a house by speaking God"s peace upon it.
Matthew 10:13, "And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you."
This practice of speaking blessings upon God's children may have its roots in the Priestly blessing of , where God instructed Moses to have the priests speak a blessing upon the children of Israel. We see in Ruth 2:4 that this blessing became a part of the Jewish culture when greeting people. Boaz blessed his workers in the field and his reapers replied with a blessing.
Ruth 2:4, "And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee."
We also see this practiced by the king in 2 Samuel 15:20 where David says, "mercy and truth be with thee."
2 Samuel 15:20, "Whereas thou camest but yesterday, should I this day make thee go up and down with us? seeing I go whither I may, return thou, and take back thy brethren: mercy and truth be with thee."
Thus, this word of blessing was a part of the Hebrew and Jewish culture. This provides us the background as to why Paul was speaking a blessing upon the church at Ephesus, especially that God would grant them more of His grace and abiding peace that they would have otherwise not known. In faith, we too, can receive this same blessing into our lives. Paul actually pronounces and invokes a blessing of divine grace and peace upon his readers with these words, "Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." I do not believe this blessing is unconditional, but rather conditional. In other words, it is based upon the response of his hearers. The more they obey these divine truths laid forth in this epistle, the more God's grace and peace is multiplied in their lives. We recall how the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, with six tribes standing upon Mount Gerizim to bless the people and six tribes upon Mount Ebal to curse the disobedient ( ). Thus, the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy 28:1-68 were placed upon the land. All who obeyed the Law received these blessings, and all who disobeyed received this list of curses. In the same way, Paul invokes a blessing into the body of Christ for all who will hearken unto the divine truths of this epistle.
We see this obligation of the recipients in translation of Beck, "As you know God and our Lord Jesus, may you enjoy more and more of His love and peace." ( 2 Peter 1:2)
Paul's Prayer of Thanksgiving- Paul begins many of his epistles with a prayer, a feature typical of ancient Greco-Roman epistles as well, 134] with each prayer reflecting the respective themes of these epistles. For example, Paul's prayer of thanksgiving to the church at Rome ( ) reflects the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in redeeming mankind. Paul's prayer of thanks for the Corinthians ( 1 Corinthians 1:4-8) reflects the theme of the sanctification of believers so that the gifts of the Spirit can operate through them as mature believers walking in love. Paul's prayer to the Corinthians of blessing to God for comforting them in their tribulations ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-7) reflects the theme of higher level of sanctification so that believers will bear the sufferings of Christ and partake of His consolation. Paul's prayer to the Ephesians ( Ephesians 1:15-22) reflects the theme of the believer's participation in God the Father's great plan of redemption, as they come to the revelation this divine plan in their lives. Paul's prayer to the Philippians ( Philippians 1:3-11) reflects the theme of the believer's role of participating with those whom God the Father has called to minister redemption for mankind. Paul's prayer to the Colossians ( Colossians 1:9-16) reflects the theme of the Lordship of Jesus Christ over the life of every believer, as they walk worthy of Him in pleasing Him. Paul's prayer of thanksgiving to the Thessalonians ( 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4) reflects the theme of the role of the Holy Spirit in our complete sanctification, spirit, soul, and body. Paul's second prayer of thanksgiving to the Thessalonians ( 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4) reflects the theme of maturity in the believer's sanctification.
134] John Grassmick says many ancient Greek and Roman epistles open with a "health wish" and a prayer to their god in behalf of the recipient. See John D. Grassmick, "Epistolary Genre," in Interpreting the New Testament Text, eds. Darrell L. Bock and Buist M. Fanning (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2006), 232.
serves as an introduction to a people that Paul does not know personally. Therefore, he begins by praying for them and expressing his deep desire to visit them.
Romans 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
Romans 1:8 — Comments- The Jewish Christians in Rome has been driven out of the capitol just seven years earlier by Emperor Claudius, who had expelled the Jews from Rome around A.D 50 ( Acts 18:2).
Acts 18:2, "And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them."
Suetonius speaks of such a banishment of all the Jews from Rome by the emperor Claudius (A.D 41to 54) during the years A.D 49 or 50.
"He banished from Rome all the Jews, who were continually making disturbances at the instigation of one Chrestus…" (The Lives of the Twelve Caesars: Claudius 254)
Bible scholars believe that this Latin author is most likely referring to the same incident that is mentioned in Scripture. Thus, these Jewish believers probably went forth throughout the Roman Empire proclaiming the Gospel, much as did Aquila and Priscilla. This would have allowed their faith to be spoken of throughout the world, as stated in Romans.
Romans 1:9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Song of Solomon, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;
Romans 1:9 — "whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son" - Comments- Romans 8:9 uses the phrase, "in the spirit." Philippians 3:3 says, "which worship (or serve) God in the spirit." Paul will expand upon the process of regeneration in the epistle to the Romans, explaining the distinction between the inner man and the outer flesh, between the spirit of man being made new and identified with Christ, and the outer, mortal man remaining corrupt ( Romans 7:22-25).
Romans 8:9, "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
Philippians 3:3, "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."
Romans 1:9 — Comments- It was Paul's unceasing prayers for these believers at Rome that gave him enough familiarity with them to write his lengthy greeting to them in the closing chapter of this epistle.
Romans 1:10 Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.
Romans 1:10 — "Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey" - Comments- The phrase "now at length" means, "now at last." Paul prays for a "successful" journey, that Isaiah, where things go well. Travelling was dangerous in the ancient world. Seamen often made sacrifices to their gods before launching out on a journey.
Romans 1:10 — "by the will of God to come unto you" - Comments- We hear the language of servanthood in Romans 1:10 as Paul seeks permission from his Master and Lord to visit Rome. This phrase literally reads, "if by the good pleasure of God's will I might come to you." In other words, Paul was seeking to find God's will in Him being pleased to send him to Rome.
Scripture References- Note:
Matthew 26:39, "And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."
James 4:15, "For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that."
Romans 1:10 — Comments- One of the main reasons that Paul wanted to visit the church at Rome is revealed in Romans 1:8. Paul had heard of their faith in Christ Jesus. This had led him to invest in this great work at Rome through much prayer. He had sown his work of faith and love into their lives. He now wanted to see his investment.
Romans 1:11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;
Romans 1:11 — "For I long to see you" - Comments- Paul says to the Romans that he "longed to see them" ( Romans 1:11), which suggests an inner work of the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Holy Spirit was leading him to visit Rome. We find other examples of the Holy Spirit inspiring men of God to do something or write. For example, Jude 1:3 reflects the "compulsion" that the author felt in writing this short epistle by saying, "when I gave all diligence to write unto you." Another example is when Paul said, "I am convinced in the Lord" ( Philippians 2:24). Luke was inspired to write his Gospel when he says, "It seemed good to me also," ( Luke 1:3). In Acts 23:6 Paul "perceived" that part of the Sanhedrin council were Sadducees and part Pharisees, and switched his message of defense. In Acts 27:10 Paul says, "Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt."
Romans 1:11 — "that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift" - Comments- It is interesting to note that Paul speaks in general terms about the impartation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the believers at Rome. This is probably because he understood that each particular gift is chosen and imparted by the Spirit, and not by the will of man. The varieties of spiritual gifts that are determined by the Holy Spirit are later listed in Romans 12:6-8.
, "Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness."
Romans 1:11 — Comments- In Romans 1:11 Paul tells the saints in Roman that he wants to visit them in order to impart a spiritual gift ( χά ρισμα). He mentions in the next verse that this gift means their mutual faith will bring comfort to both Paul and the Roman believers. This comfort can come in many forms. For some, it may be simply words of comfort and encouragement and love that strengthen their faith and wisdom. For others, their comfort may be an impartation of the anointing by the gifts of the Spirit because when believers get together, the anointing is often present. For still others, Paul may bring some love offerings and material gifts. God knows what each individual at Rome needed. Note that in 2 Corinthians 1:15, Paul makes a similar statement when he tells them that his next visit will bring them an additional benefit, or grace ( χά ρις).
2 Corinthians 1:15, "And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit;"
Romans 1:12 That Isaiah, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
Romans 1:12 — Comments- Paul will again refer to his desire for this mutual comfort again at the end of this epistle ( Romans 15:24; Romans 15:32).
Romans 15:24, "Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company."
Romans 15:32, "That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed."
The Calling of the Gentiles through the Gospel - In Paul begins a discussion on the calling of the Gentiles by explaining his divine call to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. He will offer a pray of thanksgiving for God's work in the lives of the believers in Rome ( Romans 1:8-12), then express his desire to visit Rome in order to bear fruit in this harvest field based upon his debt to all of mankind as an apostle of Jesus Christ ( Romans 1:13-15). He then expresses his inner compulsion to preach the Gospel, trusting in its power to transform lives ( Romans 1:16-17).
Outline - Here is a proposed outline:
1. Paul's Prayer of Thanksgiving —
2. Paul's Desire to Visit Rome —
3. The Power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ —
Illustration- When asked to announce that a leading ministry was coming to Uganda to speak, the Lord quickened this passage of Scripture to me. I told them that this powerful minister was looking forward to visiting them ( Romans 1:11). I then explained the purpose of this visit. It was to impart a spiritual gift into their lives. I explained that spiritual gifts come in many different ways, in the form an anointing, or as faith, or as Wisdom of Solomon, and even as material gifts. I explained that this minister would speak words of wisdom that will improve the quality of their lives, if they would receive it. I then told them that they would also be a blessing to this minister ( Romans 1:12). Then, I told them that there were three things that they needed to do in order to get ready for this meeting so that they could be a blessing for this minister of the Gospel. First, they need to pray, so that no hindrances stop this meeting ( Romans 1:13 and Romans 15:31 a). Secondly, I told them that this minister is coming to pay a spiritual debt in the kingdom of God ( Romans 1:14). Since she is paying a bill, you need to give of yourselves also in order to help prepare this church building so that it can handle the large crowd that will attend. They needed to give financially as well as giving themselves in the ministry of helps as the church services take place. Thirdly, they need to receive the message that will be preached ( Romans 1:15). I told them that if they will receive this ministry, God would send to them other great ministers.
The Calling of the Gentiles and Jews - In Roman Romans 1:8 to Romans 3:20 Paul reveals how God has called Gentiles and Jews through the Gospel of His Son ( Romans 1:8-17) because (1) mankind has rejected God's call through the revelation of His creation ( Romans 1:18-32), which revelation bore witness to man's understanding of God through his mind, (2) man has rejected God's call through his conscience ( Romans 2:1-16), which conscience is the voice of man's heart, (3) and man has rejected God's call through the Mosaic Law ( Romans 2:17 to Romans 3:20), which bears witness to man's unrighteous deeds and actions of his body. Thus, God has testified of Himself to man's mind, spirit, and body, the triune make-up of man. In this section revealing God's call to mankind, Paul expound s upon His method of divine judgment because of the fact that all have sinned, the Jew as well as the Gentile.
Outline - Here is a proposed outline:
1. The Calling of the Gentiles thru the Gospel —
2. God's Wrath Reveals Man's Rejection of His Call — Romans 1:18 to Romans 3:20
Justification Begins with the Depravity of Mankind- As a side note, it is interesting that Paul does not begin his exposition on justification by discussing the existence of God, but rather, by explaining the depravity of mankind. However, Paul does make a brief statement about the witness of God's existence in , where creation testifies of a general revelation of mankind.
Doctrinal Message: The Doctrine of Justification (An Exposition of The Gospel of Jesus Christ) - In Romans 1:8 to Romans 11:36 Paul the apostle gives an exposition of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; but it is presented from the perspective of the office and ministry of God the Father as He makes a way of justifying mankind and bringing him into his eternal glory in Heaven. Thus, we can describe Romans 1:8 to Romans 11:36 as an exposition of the doctrine of justification through faith in Jesus Christ. The body of the epistle of Romans discusses God the Father's method of justification for mankind ( Romans 3:21 to Romans 8:16), while His predestination is emphasized in the introduction ( Romans 1:1-7), His divine calling introduces this section of doctrine ( Romans 1:8 to Romans 3:20), and His plan of glorification for the Church ( Romans 8:17-28) and for Israel are given ( Romans 9:1 to Romans 11:36) are given last.
In this grand exposition of the doctrine of justification through faith in Jesus Christ Paul uses a number of examples to explain God's way of justifying mankind. For example, Abraham's faith is used to explain how we also put our faith in Christ to be justified before God. The analogy of Adam being a type and figure of Christ is used to explain how divine grace takes effect in the life of the believer. He uses the example of the laws of slavery and freedmen to explain our need to walk in our new lives, no longer under the bondages of sin. The illustration of marriage and widowhood is used to explain how we are now free from the Law and bound to Christ. It is very likely that the Lord quickened these examples and analogies to Paul while he sought to understand and explain this doctrine of justification in the synagogues and to the Gentiles during his years of evangelism and church planting. Song of Solomon, when he sat down to write out an exposition of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Paul drew upon many of the examples that he had used over the years under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Outline - Here is a proposed outline:
1. The Calling of Gentiles — Romans 1:8 to Romans 3:20
2. God's Righteousness Revealed In Christ — Romans 3:21 to Romans 8:16
3. Glorification by Divine Election: Glorification —
4. Summary of God's Divine Plan of Redemption —
5. Divine Election and Israel's Redemption — Romans 9:1 to Romans 11:32
Paul's Desire to Visit Rome - After praying for the saints in Rome ( ), Paul declares his desire to visit Rome ( Romans 1:13-15). His debt to the Greeks and barbarians reflects his sense of God's call to the Gentiles to receive salvation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Romans 1:13 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.
Romans 1:13 — Comments- At the end of this epistle, Paul will ask the church at Rome to pray against these hindrances, so that he may be able to come to Rome ( Romans 15:30-32).
, "Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ"s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed."
Romans 1:14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.
Romans 1:14 — "I am debtor" - Comments- Paul is obligated (indebted) to preach to all kinds of nationalities, to all classes of societies. Paul shows this obligation in another epistle when he says, "necessity is laid upon me" ( 1 Corinthians 9:16-17):
, "For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me."
Romans 8:12, "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh."
Romans 13:8, "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law."
The fourth stanza of Isaac Watt"s famous song At The Cross says, "But drops of grief can ne"er repay the debt of love I own. Here, Lord, I give myself away, "tis all that I can do." 135] Isaac Watts felt this debt of love we owe to Jesus when he wrote this verse.
135] C. G. Sommers, and John L. Dagg, eds, The Psalm and Hymns of Dr. Watts, Arranged by Dr. Rippon: with Dr. Rippon's Selection (Philadelphia, PA: David Clark, 1838), 327.
Romans 1:14 — "both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise" - Comments- We can see in Romans 1:15 how Paul contrasts to difference cultures of people using terms familiar with his readers. A Greek was a person who understood the Greek language, while a Barbarian was a person who could not speak or understand Greek. Most likely, the term "wise" applied to the Greeks, while "unwise" is used to describe the Barbarians. The Greeks sought wisdom ( 1 Corinthians 1:22), establishing universities in the ancient world, 136] so they would have considered themselves to be wise, and "Barbarians" to be uneducated and foolish.
136] Strabo writes, "The inhabitants of this city [Tarsus] apply to the study of philosophy and to the whole encyclical compass of learning with so much ardour, that they surpass Athens, Alexandreia, and every other place which can be named where there are schools and lectures of philosophers." (Geography 14513) See The Geography of Strabo, vol 3, trans. H. C. Hamilton and W. Falconer (London: George Bell and Sons, 1889), 57.
1 Corinthians 1:22, "For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:"
The term "Barbarian" is comparable to the Jewish term "Gentiles" in the sense that a barbarian was anyone in the Greco-Roman world who did not speak the Greek language. The Romans used it to refer to anyone who was not a Roman citizen. Note how Paul the apostle uses this same term to contrast it with the Greeks and as a person who does not understand the spoken language of the people.
1 Corinthians 14:11, "Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me."
Colossians 3:11, "Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all."
Luke uses it in the same sense.
Acts 28:4, "And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live."
Luke would not have used this term in Acts 28:2; Acts 28:4 in a derogatory manner after the kindness that the people of Malta had showed them.
Romans 1:15 Song of Solomon, as much as in me Isaiah, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
Romans 1:15 — Comments - Paul was driven by an innter compulsion to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth; for he understood his position in Christ as a debtor to the nations, having been entrusted with the revelation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and experienced its unmerited grace in his own lofe. He writes the Corinthians, saying, "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus Judges, that if one died for all, then were all dead:" ( 2 Corinthians 5:14) This love of Christ was deposited in Paul by the Holy Spirit ( Romans 5:5), and the anointing as an apostle to the Gentiles was God at work in Him ( Philippians 2:13).
Romans 5:5, "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."
Philippians 2:13, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
The Power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ- serves as a transitional statement as well as a concise summary of the Gospel of Jesus, which Paul is about to spend most of this book expanding upon. These are the key verses of the book of Romans that identify its theme. In this Epistle Paul declares the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which reveals God's plan of redemption for mankind, and serves as the power to justify mankind back to God. The Almighty God will affect His purpose and plan for man through the power of the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul will spend the first eleven chapters of Romans showing us God's role in bringing about this magnificent plan of redemption to mankind; and he will take the rest of this Epistle teach us our role in supporting this plan in the societies that each of us live in.
In the midst of our human depravity, God has called mankind to faith in Him as a means of justification ( Romans 1:18 to Romans 3:20). Our justification ( Romans 3:21 to Romans 4:25) will result in reconciliation with God ( Romans 5:1-21). We maintain this position of reconciliation through sanctification ( Romans 6:1 to Romans 8:16), which results in our glorification ( Romans 8:17 to Romans 11:32). Thus, Paul will take us through a journey of redemption.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Romans 1:16 — "For I am not ashamed of" - Comments- The proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was not very popular to the Romans or to the Jews. Both ethnic groups felt compelled to resist the Gospel as a threat to their beliefs and traditions of life. The timidity of witnessing to others was driven out by the demonstration of the power of the Gospel as it confirmed the Word with signs following. Paul saw its power to transform lives each time the Gospel was preached. Paul's statement that he was not ashamed reflects his readiness to die for his faith is faced with Roman or Jewish judgment. In fact, Paul is believed to have written these words on his return trip from his third missionary journey when making his way towards Jerusalem, where the Spirit of God prophesied that bonds and afflictions awaited him ( Acts 20:22-23).
, "And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me."
Romans 1:16 — "the gospel of Christ" - Comments (1) - The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the message of salvation for all mankind.
1 Timothy 2:4, "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
It declares that Christ Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures (see ).
, "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"
It is proclaimed with signs and wonders accompanying it.
1 Thessalonians 1:5, "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake."
This Gospel contains the message of the "unsearchable riches of Christ."
Ephesians 3:8, "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;"
It contains the revelation of the mystery of Christ, hidden from the ages past.
Ephesians 6:19, "And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,"
This mystery is that Christ will come and dwell within us.
Colossians 1:27, "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:"
It is an eternal message that will be preached in Heaven throughout all ages.
Revelation 14:6, "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,"
Comments (2) - Paul was writing this epistle to the believers at Rome, to those who lived under the very shadow of the most powerful person on earth at this time, the Emperor of Rome, who declared himself deity. News of the Emperor must have entered into their homes daily and affected their way of thinking. The Roman Empire was man's greatest effort to build a civilization using human might and human wisdom. Those who lived under the rule of the Romans were forced to do so because of their sheer military power.
Therefore, in Romans 1:16 Paul boldly declares that the message of the Gospel is mightier than the Roman Empire and even Caesar himself. He says that he is not ashamed to declare the Gospel openly. To resist this system of Roman dominion proved fatal during these days. It was Paul's bold declaration that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was above the power of the Emperor that cost him his life at the hands of a Roman court.
Romans 1:16 — "for it is the power of God unto salvation" - Comments (1) - Romans 1:16 says that the preaching of the Gospel serves as God's method of releasing His power to transform lives that results in their salvation. Bryan Chapell writes, "The Gospel's force lies beyond the power of the preacher. Paul preaches without shame in his delivery skills because he trusts that the Spirit of God will use the Word the apostle proclaims to shatter the hardness of the human heart in ways no stage technique or philosophical construct can rival." 137] Paul did not consider himself a great speaker; rather, he relied upon the power of the Gospel to transform lives. He writes, "And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of Wisdom of Solomon, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man"s Wisdom of Solomon, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:" ( 1 Corinthians 2:1-4)
137] Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, second edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, c 1994, 2005), 28.
Reinhard Bonnke, the German evangelist, has been evangelizing Africa for the last few decades. He has had the largest gathering of people in the history of the Church. In Nigeria alone his crusades are attended by millions and millions are being saved. He has seen miracles of healing and even the dead being raised while he was preaching. He said, "The Gospel inherently holds all the power this whole world will every need to change it. The Gospel has the power to change the whole world. They tell me that the rocks on Mars have locked up so much oxygen. If it was released it could provide an atmosphere as we have it on earth. Well, I think the Gospel holds all the energy and the power this world needs to be totally renewed. It is released when it is preached. Lives are changed. We have seen regions changes. We have seen nations shaken." 138]
138] Reinhard Bonnke, interviewed by Cecil Steward, Deciding Your Destiny (Belfast, Ireland: CCN Europe), on Lighthouse Television, Kampala, Uganda, 30 December 2005), television program.
After serving the Lord in the mission field of East Africa for thirteen years, I have come to the conclusion that the power of the Gospel is the only instrument powerful enough to transform a society towards good. Nations may be influenced by dictators, religious oppression, or financial aid, but none of these changes the heart of a nation. Many nations on earth are poor, with a small upper class of people controlling much of the nation's assets, and very little financial support trickling down to the middle and lower classes due to greed and corruption. I have seen international funds sent to Uganda and be wasted and stolen by local government officials. I have seen social services and orphanages provide care for children and the poor in this nation. Although such acts of charity help individual lives, they are of no help in providing long-term benefits without being accompanied with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Until the mindset of a nation is changed, the problems that brought a nation into poverty in the first place will continue to persist.
Comments (2) - The Greek word for "salvation" is σωτηριαν. It is translated in its verb form σώζω (G 4982) as "to save, deliver, protect" (Strong). Paul preached the full Gospel of salvation, healing, and deliverance. When he preached, people also had faith to be healed (See ).
Acts 14:9, "The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,"
The word "salvation" in this context refers to everything that Christ accomplished for man's redemption, spirit, soul, and body. It refers to our forgiveness of sin, our peace and joy, our physical healing, our prosperity, the full process of sanctification and eternal life.
Scripture Reference - Note:
1 Corinthians 1:18, "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."
Romans 1:16 — "to every one that believeth" - Comments- Paul had preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ for many years now. He had seen the power of the Gospel to transform the heart of men of all backgrounds and nationalities. Menchu once told me that after she wrote her letter to her Dad that brought him under conviction and back to Jesus that she would never be ashamed again to tell others about Christ. This is because she saw firsthand the power of the Gospel to change her loved ones.
Romans 1:16 — "to the Jew first" - Comments- Why was the Gospel dedicated to the Jews first? The nation of Israel first received the covenant and promises and blessings of God. They were first appointed as flag bearers of God's redemption to mankind. Paul will say later in this Epistle, "to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever." ( Romans 9:4-5)
Romans 1:16 — "and also to the Greek" - Comments- In His divine foreknowledge God knew that His Son would be rejected by the Jews. Therefore, He decided to graft the Gentiles into the vine of Israel. Paul will further explain how God brought the Gentiles into His plan of redemption in Romans 9-11.
Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Romans 1:17 — "For therein" - Comments- For in the Gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed. That Isaiah, through the proclamation of the Gospel God's way of redeeming mankind is revealed.
Romans 1:17 — "the righteousness of God" - Comments- Paul defines God's way of righteousness in this Epistle in contrast to the depravity of mankind, and in contrast to the righteousness of the Law that he lived under for many years. If anyone qualified to become righteous by the Law, it was Paul the apostle ( Philippians 3:6).
Philippians 3:6, "Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless."
Romans 1:17 — "is…revealed" - Comments- Note that in the next verse ( Romans 1:18), God"s wrath is also revealed. His wrath is revealed in the lives of those who reject God's way of making mankind right before Him. His righteousness has been revealed in the lives of men like Abraham, whom Paul will discuss shortly, but His wrath is revealed in the depths of depraved humanity.
Romans 1:17 — "from faith to faith" - Comments- Paul is about to explain from the Old Testament how righteousness began by faith and continues by faith until today. He will use the life of Abraham as an example of someone who was declared righteous before the Lord by faith and then apply this divine truth to our lives today. Not only does the phrase "from faith to faith" apply to the history of the salvation of mankind, but it applies to our individual spiritual journey as well. The Christian life begins by faith, and from the start of our Christian life to the last day on earth, our journey is a life of faith, that Isaiah, faith in God"s righteousness, not our own abilities. As we serve the Lord, we are required to live a life of ever increasing faith. The Gospel reveals that from Adam and Eve to the last man born, their salvation, or right standing before God, will be based on faith in God. Also, from the beginning of our conversion to the day we are taken to heaven and in to eternity, it is and will continue by faith. Paul rebuked the believers of Galatia because they were turning back to a lifestyle of foolish activities in order to maintain their right standing with God through false teachers..
, "Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" We begin in Christ by faith and we live also by faith."
Also, note similar constructions in the Greek text:
John 1:16, "And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace."
Romans 6:19, "I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness."
2 Corinthians 2:16, "To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?"
2 Corinthians 3:18, "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
Philippians 2:27, "For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow."
Romans 1:17 — "as it is written, The just shall live by faith" - Comments- The Old Testament quote in Romans 1:17 is taken from Habakkuk 2:4.
Habakkuk 2:4, "Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith."
Paul will quote this same verse again in his epistle to the Galatians.
Galatians 3:11, "But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith."
The author of Hebrews, most likely Paul, will quote from .
, "For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith."
, "For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him."
Romans 1:17 — Comments- Now, if we place the statement in Romans 1:17 about justification by faith within the context of Romans 8:28-30, we can understand that the epistle of Romans will place most of its emphasis upon the third phase of God the Father's plan of redemption, which Paul calls justification. Paul briefly refers to the Father's predestination and calling in the opening verses of Romans, but expounds upon the Father's standard of justification in the body of this Epistle. Romans 1:18 to Romans 11:36 will reveal God's way of justifying mankind, both to the Church, and to the Jew.
God's Wrath Reveals Man's Rejection of His Call - Romans 1:18 to Romans 3:20 gives us a lengthy teaching on the depravity of mankind, both Gentile and Jew. Throughout this lengthy passage Paul will explain how man's sinful nature serves as a testimony of why God is righteousness in inflicting His wrath upon mankind from heaven, as stated in Romans 1:18, which is the underlying theme of this passage in Romans. Since the Gospel of Jesus Christ declares man's depravity and God's righteous judgments, then man's depravity also serves to reveal God's righteous judgments. In this passage of Scripture Paul builds a case for man's depravity so that he can explain in the subsequent passage of God's only way of justification for mankind, which is through faith in Jesus Christ.
The first way that we understand God's standard of righteousness is to be made aware of His divine wrath that rests upon a depraved humanity. Therefore, Paul will first expound upon man's unrighteousness, or depravity, and show how God has given man over to his unrighteous passions. God pours out His divine wrath because He has revealed His divine nature to mankind ( ), and they have rejected it ( Romans 1:21). Thus, Paul proves that God's standard of righteousness for mankind has been revealed to him since he was created in the Garden of Eden. There Isaiah, therefore, no excuse for sin and depravity. Rather, it is a choice that man makes for himself.
In Paul reveals man's depravity and rejection of God. He explains how God has revealed Himself to mankind ( Romans 1:19-20) and how man has fully rejected Him ( Romans 1:21-32). Thus, we understand why God the Father has destined all of mankind to divine wrath. Paul then broadens his definition of depravity by addressing those who condemn evil and consider themselves moral and good as he reveals their sinful nature through their conscience ( Romans 2:1-16). In Romans 2:17 to Romans 3:20 Paul further broadens his definition of man's depravity to include the Jew. He directly addresses the Jews as he uses the Law to convict them of their sins. In Romans 3:9-20 Paul draws his argument to a conclusion by stating that both Jews and Gentiles are both under sin. Song of Solomon, although the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God, these oracles only declare that all have sinned.
Thus, Paul proves in his arguments that man has rejected the three witnesses of God the Father. Mankind has rejected the witness of creation ( ), the witness of his conscience ( Romans 2:1-16), and the witness of the Law ( Romans 2:17 to Romans 3:20). He has rejected the physical testimony of creation, the testimony of his heart through his conscience, and the testimony of his understanding through the Law, which witnesses have testified to man's spirit, soul and body ( 1 John 5:19).
1 John 5:19, "And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness."
Outline- Note the proposed outline:
1. The Depravity of the Heathen —
2. The Depravity of the Moral Man —
3. The Depravity of the Jew — Romans 2:17 to Romans 3:20
God's Call through Natural Revelation: Testimony to Man's Mind - In Paul first reveals how God's wrath is at work within the Gentiles as they reject His revelation to them seen in creation ( Romans 1:18-19), which bears witness to man's mind and understanding. (This general revelation of God to the Gentiles stands in comparison to the special revelation given to the Jews through the Mosaic Law, whom Paul will address in the passage that follows.) When the Gentiles reject God, He pours out His divine wrath by turning them over to their uncleanness, to work all manner of depravity. God turns them over to a reprobate mind as a form of judgment; thus, their judgment has already begun by God turning them over to their wicked passions, for in hell they will be totally consumed with their tormenting passions. These pagans have begun to experience hell on earth in a lifestyle of blind depravity. Thus, God's wrath is seen in their darkened minds and perverted lifestyles, being completely alienated from God ( Romans 1:20-32), living a life of partial torment.
Human Depravity - The Progression of Human Depravity- The underlying message of is that God is justified in pouring out His divine wrath upon mankind because of human depravity. In this passage of Scripture Paul explains the actual condition of the heathen from a divine perspective. In man's depravity Paul shows a progression of events in the life of a godless person, revealing how man chooses his conditions as a result of his ungodliness:
1. Man knows that there is a God by creation. (Verses 19-20)
2. Man stops giving God the glory that He alone deserves. (Verse 21)
3. Prayer of Manasseh, as a result, lives life according to vain imaginations, which darkens his heart. (Verses 21-23)
4. Man fills his life with impurity. (Verses 24-25)
5. Man goes deeper into perversion, knowing no boundaries to sin. (Verses 26-27)
6. Man"s mind loses its ability for moral judgment. (Verses 28-32)
According to , idolatry leads to fornication and fornication leads to homosexuality. This same progression of degradation in the heart of man can be found in the book of Genesis also:
1. Verses 19-20 ( Genesis 1 - The creation of man)
2. Verse 21 ( Genesis 4:16, "Cain went out of the presence of the Lord."
3. Verse 21 ( Genesis 6:5, "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
4. Verse 22 ( Genesis 11 - Tower of Babel)
5. Verse 23 ( Joshua 24:2 - Abraham"s fathers served other gods.)
6. Verse 23 ( Genesis 19 - Sodom and Gomorrah)
This progress of depravity can progress in a nation as well as in an individual. In the time of Noah, man had progressed to a state of depravity that God had to destroy them. Paul the apostle alluded to this progression of depravity in his letter to Timothy.
2 Timothy 3:13, "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived."
God Gives Mankind Over to His Depravity- The phrase "God gave them up" is used three times in this passage of Scripture ( Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26; Romans 1:28). It reveals that God created mankind with a will to choose between good and evil, and that God honors this decision. Thus, He gives them over to their evil passions. These people had rejected the truth with their minds, where the will of man dwells ( Romans 1:18-20). As a result their hearts became insensitive to God ( Romans 1:21). Then their passions became inflamed towards fleshly indulgences through idolatry ( Romans 1:22-23). God gave them over to (1) to lasciviousness, uncleanness (or sexual sins) ( Romans 1:24), (2) to homosexuality (or deeper sexual perversions) ( Romans 1:26), and (3) to a reprobate mind, a mind completely seared of a conscience to discern between good and evil ( Romans 1:28). Romans 1:28-32 describes a society characterized by reprobate minds ( 1 Timothy 4:2). We observe that a person is progressively given over deeper and deeper into depravity. Romans 1:24 describes fornication and lasciviousness. Romans 1:25 describes idolatry. Romans 1:26 describes homosexuality. Finally, the conscience becomes unable to discern between good and evil ( Romans 1:29). The Goodspeed translation of Romans 1:24 reads, "So God abandoned them, with their heart's craving, to impurity, and let them degrade their own bodies."
Illustrations - It is interesting to note from that God gives depraved mankind the desires of his own wicked heart. We also see how God gave the children of Israel their evil desires in the wilderness by sending them quail ( Numbers 11:31-34, Psalm 105:40). How much more will God give His obedient children the desires of their hearts ( Psalm 37:4).
Psalm 37:4, "Delight thyself also in the LORD and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart."
We see an example of God giving a people over to their evil desires in 1Samuel 8 when the children of Israel wanted a king like other nations.
, "But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them."
Note another example found in Psalm 81:12 where God gives the children of Israel up to their own hearts" lusts as they rebelled in the Wilderness:
Psalm 81:12, "So I gave them up unto their own hearts" lust: and they walked in their own counsels."
Paul describes those with a reprobate mind, whom God has given over to their depraved lifestyles, as "having their conscience seared with a hot iron" ( 1 Timothy 4:2).
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Romans 1:18 — "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men" - Comments- Although the grace and forgiveness of God has now come to mankind through the Gospel of Christ Jesus, the wrath of God has been revealed since man began to sin. God's wrath has also been revealed, as the Old Testament recounts numerous events of divine judgment falling upon mankind. Man knows he has done wrong, because his conscience tells him of his sins. In fact Paul will tell us in Romans 1:18-32 that God has turned some men over to a reprobate mind because of their persistence in sin, so that they no longer have a clear conscience to direct their lives towards good. Since God's wrath has already been revealed, there is not the need t put the same emphasis upon His wrath as there is the need to reveal His righteousness through the preaching of the Gospel. We now need the Gospel in order to reveal how our sin and guilt can be cleansed.
Romans 1:18 — "who hold the truth in unrighteousness" - Word Study on "hold" - Strong says the Greek word "katecho" ( κατέ χω) (G 2722) means, "to hold back."
Comments- The phrase "who hold the truth in unrighteousness" sets the tone of the rest of this passage of Scripture by describing the character of those men who receive God's wrath. It is displayed against those who willingly reject the light that God has given to them, as stated in the next verse. God is not against mankind; for He sent His beloved Son Jesus Christ to die for men. However, He must judge rebellion, and this passage in the epistle of Romans tells us He does this by turning such men over to a reprobate mind.
The unrighteous lifestyles of the heathen suppressed the truth, both for themselves and for others who lived under that person's sphere of influence. For example, God could reveal a great amount of truth to thosw whose heart is open to the Word of God; but these lifestyles hindered God's work in their lives. Also, those under the sphere of a heathen resisting the truth are denied access to the truth themselves. An unrighteous man will suppress God's Word from his wife and children, and all others under his dominion, raising a generation of lost souls who live in darkness, thus, propagating unrighteousness into the following generations. Entire societies are then born who do not know God. We see the governments of Islamic, Hindu, and Buddist cultures, as well as communist countries, suppressing the truth from the people, plunging entire nations into darkness and bondage. Such nations flounder in fear and poverty, not understanding why their lives are so difficult. Often, these people are very superstitious and religious, seeking answers beyond their mortality. Such darkness leads men into idolatry, as Paul is about to denounce in the following verses ( ), which is the clearest exposition of human depravity in the Holy Scriptures.
Illustration - Many people in such pagan cultures would accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ if only someone would come and preach it to them ( Romans 10:14). T. L. Osborn has preached the Gospel in over forty nations. He says that he has never preached in a heathen nation without a positive response from the crowds. 139] Although the Word of God may be suppressed from them because of those exercising power over such societies, many heathen long for the truth.
139] T. L. Osborn, Good News Today (Osborn Ministries International, Tulsa, Oklahoma), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program, 1990-91.
Romans 10:14, "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?"
In a similar aspect, some Christian denominations suppress the full Gospel message from their followers by denouncing its message and prohibiting it from their pulpits. Thus, multitudes of denominational Christians are in darkness regarding the full extent of their redemption in Christ Jesus, living below the standards that Christ purchased for the Church because of lack of the knowledge of God's Word.
Romans 1:18 — Comments- Romans 1:18 begins an expanded definition of verses 16-17 on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which exposition will last until Romans 11:32. Based on Romans 1:17, if a man is not living by faith, then God"s wrath is subject to this man"s life. God's wrath is revealed to mankind by the fact that He gives depraved men over to their lustful passions ( Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26; Romans 1:28) so that their conscience no longer functions; but rather, it becomes seared and unable to distinguish between good and evil. We get an Old Testament example of this divine principle by reading Daniel 4:1-37, which gives us the story of Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the cutting of the great tree and his subsequent seven years of madness for exalting himself and his eventual restoration. God also turned him over to a reprobate mind, but restored him because he repented. In a similar manner Romans 1:18-32 describes how men abandon God and fall progressively into deeper conditions of depravity, first idolatry, followed by fornication and finally homosexuality, as God turns them over to a reprobate mind. Since mankind refuses to repent, God turns them over to the deepest forms of depravity. This human depravity becomes the testimony for other men so that they can come to know God's divine judgment and wrath against all forms of ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.
Romans 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
Romans 1:19 — "Because" - Comments- Romans 1:19 answers the question of why God visits His wrath upon man. He does so because man knows about God, yet rejects Him; for God reveals himself to them thru His creation.
Romans 1:19 — "that which may be known of God is manifest in them" - Comments- By the very fact that these ungodly men suppress the truth by deeds of unrighteousness, they bear witness to their knowledge between good and evil. Paul will then explain in his next statement how this knowledge of God is acquired by all men; and after having understood God's righteousness through Creation ( Romans 1:19 b-20), their conscience becomes a tool to guide them in choosing between good and evil ( Romans 2:15).
Romans 1:19 — "for God hath shewed it unto them" - Comments- Paul tells us in the next verse how God has showed His divine attributes to them through His magnificent creation.
Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Romans 1:20 — "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made" - Comments - Paul may be using a word play with ἀ ό ρατος (invisible) and καθορά ω (clearly seen) in that both share the same root word ορά ω. Paul could have used a number of Greek words that expressed the idea of revelation and comprehension, such as ἀποκαλύπτω (to uncover), βλέπω (to perceive), or χρηματίζω (to impart a revelation). Instead, Paul uses a word play to contrast two extremes, that which is entire invisible, and that which is entire visible. Those divine attributes that are entirely invisible to man is clearly perceptable when one beholds creation. It is through God"s visible creation and also by His manifested interventions in the affairs of mankind that man understands the invisible attributes of God, such as His divine nature and eternal power ( Psalm 8:3; Psalm 19:1-3; Psalm 148:3-4, Acts 14:17).
Psalm 8:3, "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;"
, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard."
, "Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens."
Acts 14:17, "Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness."
Note how God describes the intricacies and marvels of His creation to Job in Job 38-41. The more one observes creation in all of its detail, the more one is convinced that only God could perform such a marvel.
Romans 1:20 — "even his eternal power and Godhead" - Comments- Creation reveals two aspects about God's divine character. First, it reveals that God is the all-powerful and eternal creator. Secondly, it reveals that there is a God who is overseeing His creation as the Godhead. The amazing intricacies of nature tell us that creation has a purpose and a divine Creator who is intervening in His creation to insure that it fulfills its purpose.
Romans 1:20 — "so that they are without excuse" - Comments- The same Greek word "without excuse" ἀναπολόγητος (G 379) will later be directed to the Jews in Romans 2:1. Thus, Paul is telling the Gentiles that they are without excuse because of the general revelation they have received about God, he tells the Jews that they are also without excuse because of the specific revelation that they have received directly from Him.
Romans 2:1, "Therefore thou art inexcusable, O Prayer of Manasseh, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things."
— Comments- The Witness of Creation to God's Divine Character - John 1:1-5 reveals to us the divine attributes of the Word of God. The Word is (1) eternal, (2) God Himself, (3) the medium of creation, and (4) the source of Life. Benny Hinn says that the "Word" within the context of this passage of Scripture means, "the Revelation of God." 140] In other words, since the beginning of time, God has revealed Himself to mankind through His creation by the means of "the light," or the revelation of Himself, that shines in the darkness of every man's soul. Hebrew Romans 3:1 tells us that there are two aspects to God's being; His essence and His glory. John 1:1-5 tells us that the Word is an attribute of His essence, and Psalm 19:1 says creation reveals His glory. God's glory is revealed to mankind through His creation, while His essence is revealed through the Word of God. God's creation reveals to mankind a general revelation of Himself ( Psalm 19:1-6), while the Word reveals specific details of God's divine nature or essence ( Psalm 19:7-10).
140] Benny Hinn, "Fire Conference," Miracle Center Cathedral, Kampala, Uganda, 5-6 June 2009.
Hebrews 1:3, "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;"
Psalm 19:1, To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork."
tells us of the witness of Creation to God's divine attributes. This testimony of the divine Creator has been proclaimed since the creation of the world ( Isaiah 40:21). No one with a heart that believes in God has any problem believing that He can make the heavens and the earth in six days, for an All-powerful God could have created the world in a second if He so chose to do so. All of Creation declares that there is an omnipotent Creator. The Scriptures tell us in Romans 1:19-20 that creation as a whole was designed to testify to the eternal power and divine character of the One who created it. In God's Wisdom of Solomon, we see passages scattered throughout the Scriptures that reveal to us that every detail and tiny aspect of God's creation was designed to testify of a particular aspect of God's divine character, for this is exactly what Romans 1:19-20 is saying. We can learn of God's ways of dealing with man by looking within the laws of nature. We see this comparison between God's creation and our lives all the time in the form of sports and institutional logos, national emblems, etc, when they take the form of animals or other objects in nature. 141]
141] Additional symbols of God's divine character revealed in nature can be found in Frances Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 178-9; Rick Joyner, The Call (Charlotte, North Carolina: Morning Star Publications, 1999); and Sadhu Sundar Singh, At the Master's Feet (London: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1922).
Isaiah 40:21, "Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?"
God's Creation- Solomon must have seen the glory of God in His magnificent creation in order to write about trees, beasts, birds, creeping thing and fish. Note:
, "And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes."
The book of Canticles uses figurative language of many aspects of God's creation to symbolize our relationship with God.
As we go forth from our house each day, do not go with a closed mind, but look around you and behold the glory and majesty of our God.
We read in fifteenth chapter of 1Corinthians about the resurrection of the dead. In this lengthy passage Paul the apostle uses the order of God's creation to explain the resurrection of man. He tells us "there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory." ( ) Paul then states that in a similar way the resurrection of man will yield a different body of a different glory.
The Heavens- As we look up towards heaven or try to look beyond the horizon, we are reminded that God's mercy and forgiveness is likened to the width and height of His creation.
, "For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us."
The Sun- The Jewish day began at dusk. Therefore, as the sun sets each day and rises in the morning, so was Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected to become the Light of the World. With each new day comes God's mercy and compassion ( ) just as our faith in Jesus brings God's mercy into our lives.
The Stars- We read in E. W. Bullinger's book The Witness of the Stars how the twelve constellations in the heavens serve as a witness to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ over all of creation. 142]
142] E. W. Bullinger, The Witness of the Stars (London: E. W. Bullinger, c 1893). A number of other books have been written on this subject, including Frances Rolleston, Mazzaroth (New York: Cosimo Classics, c 1862, 2008); Joseph Seiss, A Gospel in the Stars (New York: Carles C. Cook, c 1884, 1910); William D. Banks, The Heavens Declare (Krikwood, Missouri: Impact Christian Books, 1985); D. James Kennedy, and Nancy Britt, The Real Meaning of the Zodiac (Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Coral Ridge Ministries Media, c 1989).
Day and Night - The fact that we work during the daytime and rest at night testifies to the fact that we are to serve the Lord in this life, because after we die there is no way to undo what we have done while we were alive. We will be judged based upon the works we did in this life "while it was day". Note John 9:4.
John 9:4, "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work."
Regarding the brightness of the noontime sun, Peter tells us to if we will submit our hearts and lives to the Word of God and allow it to have supreme authority in our lives, then we will begin to grow in our revelation of its meaning. God's Word will become brighter and brighter in our hearts day by day just as the sun brightens the day hour by hour.
2 Peter 1:19, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:"
The Mountains and Valleys - When John the Baptist began to prophesy out of the book of Isaiah he cried, "Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low." Within this context, the mountains are figurative for those men who are high and proud and lift themselves up in this world. The valleys represent the lowly who have been pressed down in this world. Thus, the epistle of James tells us that God will humble the proud and exalt the lowly.
, "As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God."
James 1:9, "Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away."
The Elements of the Earth- tells us that when we observe how the basic elements of the earth, which are heat, wind and rain, continually recycle themselves and return to their origin, we can learn that there is also nothing new in the way humanity behaves itself in society. As nature has cycles, so does human history.
The Precious Metals and Gems- When we consider that the most valuable treasures on earth, such as diamonds and gems, gold, silver and brass, even oil, all must be dug out from the depths of the earth, we cannot help but compare this to the fact that God's treasures of wisdom and understanding must also be sought out in a similar way. How often have we sought out direction from the Lord much like a miners digs and makes great efforts to finding hidden mineral ores ( Proverbs 25:2).
Proverbs 25:2, "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter."
The Forces of Nature- His catastrophic acts in nature, such as floods, fires, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, famines and pestilences all reveal His eternal judgment ( Genesis 19 and Jude 1:7).
Jude 1:7, "Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."
Lakes and Rivers- We are to draw deeply out of our spirit to know His fullness and peace just as the lakes hide their secrets in their depths. We are to move ever forward on this journey of life that He has ordained for us to walk just as the brooks flow ever onward towards the sea. We are to keep this channel of water free from obstructions and debris, to straighten is course so that our journey is not hindered. The intricate and wonderful details of His creation testify to His intricate and wonderful plan that He has ordained for each of our lives.
The Clouds and Rain- The book At the Master's Feet, by Sadhu Sundar Singh, gives many metaphors of nature as it reveals the divine principles of God. Here are some of them:
"Just as the salt water of the sea is drawn upwards by the hot rays of the sun, and gradually takes on the form of clouds, and, turned thus into sweet and refreshing water, falls in showers on the earth (for the sea water as it rises upwards leaves behind it its salt and bitterness), so when the thoughts and desires of the man of prayer rise aloft like misty emanations of the soul, the rays of the Sun of Righteousness purify them of all sinful taint, and his prayers become a great cloud which descends from heaven in a shower of blessing, bringing refreshment to many on the earth." 143]
143] Sadhu Sundar Singh, At the Master's Feet, translated by Arthur Parker (London: Fleming H. Revell Co, 1922) [on-line], accessed 26 October 2008, available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/singh/feet.html; Internet, "III Prayer," section 1, part 5.
The Wind- Frances J. Roberts says that God's voice is heard in the blowing of the wind, in the rustling of the trees, in the tumbling of the flowing streams, in the breaking of the waves. 144]
144] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 178.
The Plant Kingdom - Note these words from Sadhu Sundar Singh:
"In the same way as climate produces a change in form, colour, and the habits of growth in plants and flowers, so those who maintain communion with Me undergo a development of their spiritual nature in habit, appearance, and disposition; and putting off the old man they are transformed into My own glorious and incorruptible image." 145]
145] Sadhu Sundar Singh, At the Master's Feet, translated by Arthur Parker (London: Fleming H. Revell Co, 1922) [on-line], accessed 26 October 2008, available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/singh/feet.html; Internet, "III Prayer," section 3, part 6.
The Grass and Flowers of the Field- The flowers tell us not to worry about our clothing, for He will take care of His children. The beauty in His flowers tells us that He is concerned about the little things in our lives and His desire for us to prosper and have a happy life. Just as surely the rain and snow come down and water the earth and it brings forth seed to eat and seed to sow, so will God provide for us as we do His Word ( ). Also, there are many passages in the Scriptures that compare our brevity in life to the grass and the flowers that flourish today and are gone tomorrow ( James 1:9-11, 1 Peter 1:24-25). The brief beauty of the flower can reflect man's short-lived accomplishments in this life. For both quickly vanish away and are forgotten.
The Planting of Seeds - We read in compares a grain of seed as it is sown, dies and resurrects in a different body to the resurrection of man. Thus, nature is used to teach us a spiritual lesson.
Trees- As the trees grow upwards towards the sun, ever dependent upon it for life, so do we ever look upward to our Heavenly Father as our source of life. A tree being cut down is used to describe how the Lord will cut down the nation of Israel.
Isaiah 6:13, "And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leaves stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land." (NIV)
As the trees sway in the wind, so do our hearts often sway to the circumstances that blow into our lives ( Isaiah 7:2).
Isaiah 7:2, "And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind."
The budding of the trees symbolizes the changes of divine seasons as well as telling us of the changes of the seasons of nature.
, And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand."
The Animal Kingdom- The Lord revealed His majesty to Job by revealing the glories of His creation ( Job 38-41), such as the mighty beasts. These four chapters in Job reveal a great amount of details of how creation declares the glory of God. The moth in the book of Job teaches us how frail our life really is without God's divine hand of protection upon us (see Job 4:19). The animals described in the book of Proverbs reveal God's wonders ( Proverbs 30:18-19), His wisdom ( Proverbs 30:24-28) and His beauty ( Proverbs 30:29-31).
Creeping Animals and Florescent Light - Note these words from Sadhu Sundar Singh:
"There are little creatures far inferior to Prayer of Manasseh, like the firefly, with its flickering light, and certain small plants among the vegetation in the Himalayas, which by their faint phosphorescent radiance illuminate as far as they can the dark jungle where they live. Tiny fish also that swim in the deep waters of the ocean give forth a glimmering light which guides other fish and helps them to elude their enemies. How much more ought My children to be lights in the world (Matt. v 14) and be eager in self-sacrifice to bring into the way of truth, by means of their God-given light, those who by reason of darkness are liable to become the prey of Satan." 146]
146] Sadhu Sundar Singh, At the Master's Feet, translated by Arthur Parker (London: Fleming H. Revell Co, 1922) [on-line], accessed 26 October 2008, available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/singh/feet.html; Internet, "IV Service," section 2, part 4.
Animals and Their Camouflage - Note these words from Sadhu Sundar Singh:
"To pray is as it were to be on speaking terms with Me, and so by being in communion with and abiding in Me to become like Me. There is a kind of insect which feeds upon and lives among grass and green leaves and becomes like them in colour. Also the polar bear dwelling among the white snows has the same snowy whiteness, and the tiger of Bengal bears upon its skin the marks of the reeds among which it lives. So those, who by means of prayer abide in communion with Me partake, with the saints and angels, of My Nature, and being formed in My image become like Me." 147]
147] Sadhu Sundar Singh, At the Master's Feet, translated by Arthur Parker (London: Fleming H. Revell Co, 1922) [on-line], accessed 26 October 2008, available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/singh/feet.html; Internet, "III Prayer," section 3, part 1.
The Animal Kingdom and Its Sight - Note these words from Sadhu Sundar Singh:
"If they do not use these heaven-sent powers in the service of God and His creatures they are in danger of losing for ever those heavenly gifts. This is what has happened to certain fish that live in the deep waters of dark caves, also to some hermits in Tibet, for both have lived so long in darkness that they have entirely lost their sight. In like manner the ostrich, through not using its wings, has lost altogether the power of flight. Take heed, therefore, not to neglect whatever gifts or talents have been entrusted to you, but make use of them that you may share in the bliss and glory of your Master (Matt. xxv 14-30)." 148]
148] Sadhu Sundar Singh, At the Master's Feet, translated by Arthur Parker (London: Fleming H. Revell Co, 1922) [on-line], accessed 26 October 2008, available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/singh/feet.html; Internet, "IV Service," section 2, part 5.
Bees and Honey - Note these words from Sadhu Sundar Singh:
"Just as the bee collects the sweet juice of the flowers and turns it into honey without injuring their colour or fragrance, so the man of prayer gathers happiness and profit from all God's creation without doing any violence to it. As bees also gather their honey from flowers in all sorts of different places and store it in the honeycomb, so the man of God gathers sweet thoughts and feelings from every part of creation, and in communion with his Creator collects in his heart the honey of truth, and in enduring peace with Him at all times and in all places, tastes with delight the sweet honey of God." 149]
149] Sadhu Sundar Singh, At the Master's Feet, translated by Arthur Parker (London: Fleming H. Revell Co, 1922) [on-line], accessed 26 October 2008, available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/singh/feet.html; Internet, "III Prayer," section 3, part 4.
The Birds- In the Sermon on the Mount, the birds tell us that our heavenly Father will always provide our needs, so we are not to worry about food.
The Birds- Jeremiah tells us that as the stork knows it appointed times and seasons, so should we be able to observe them and understand that God has appointed times and seasons for man to know and to follow.
Jeremiah 8:7, "Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD."
The Beasts- As we observe how the ox knows his owner and the ass his master's crib, so should we see how we are to honor the Lord ( Isaiah 1:3).
The Ram - gives us the vision of the ram and the Hebrews -goat butting heads in battle. It is the natural characteristic of these animals to butt heads. Thus, as we see battles fought in nature over territory, so do we understand that there a battles being fought in the heavenly realm.
The Human Body- explains how the many parts of man's physical body is a type and figure of the spiritual body of Christ, the Church.
God created man with a nature to hunger and thirst on a daily basis as a reminder of our daily need to be feed spiritually. Note:
1 Peter 2:2, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:"
"I have infused into man's nature hunger and thirst, that he may not in sheer heedlessness regard himself as God, but that day by day he may be reminded of his needs and that his life is bound up with the life and existence of Someone who created him. Thus being made aware of his defects and necessities, he may abide in Me and I in him, and then he will ever find in Me his happiness and joy." 150]
150] Sadhu Sundar Singh, At the Master's Feet, translated by Arthur Parker (London: Fleming H. Revell Co, 1922) [on-line], accessed 26 October 2008, available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/singh/feet.html; Internet, "III Prayer," section 2, part 10.
Ecclesiastes 11:5 teaches us that the mystery of the forming of a child in the womb testifies to us that God's ways are beyond our understanding.
Ecclesiastes 11:5, "As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all."
Mankind and His Inventions- Note these insightful words by Rick Joyner regarding the glory of God's creation:
"Soon after, I awoke. For days afterward, I felt an energy surging through me making everything look glorious. I loved everything that I saw. A doorknob seemed wonderful beyond comprehension. Old houses and cars were so beautiful to me that I was sorry I was not an artist so that I could capture their beauty and nobility. Trees and animals all seemed like very special personal friends. Every person I saw was like a library of revelation and meaning, and I was so thankful for eternity so that I could get to know them all. I could not look at anything without seeing magnificence, hardly believing that I had walked through so much of my life and missed so much." 151]
151] Rick Joyner, The Call (Charlotte, North Carolina: Morning Star Publications, 1999), 33-4.
Ecclesiastes 11:5 teaches us that the mystery of the forming of a child in the womb testifies to us that God's ways are beyond our understanding.
Ecclesiastes 11:5, "As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all."
Human Trials - The Scriptures tell us when we are tried and tested by God is it for the purpose of purifying our hearts.
Proverbs 17:3, "The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts."
Human Calamities - When Jesus Christ was asked about the tragedy of Pilate killing some Galileans He quickly responded by calling His hearers to repentance. Jesus then tells them a second story of human calamity when the tower of Siloam fell upon eighteen people killing them and again calls them to repentance. We learn from these two stories that refer to human calamities that such events are God's call to repentance. God uses such tragedies to call men to repentance as Jesus Christ did so in this story.
, "There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
Illustration- I took my four-year old daughter on a walk this particular sunny day in June 2003. She had been crying in the house and I wanted to get her attention onto something else, a trick that a parent soon learns in calming a child down. On this walk, I was not in a hurry, in fact, I made the walk slow and particular. We looked at each flower and tree. There were a variety of flowers, each one attracting a particular type of butterfly or species of bee or even some small birds that preferred nectar instead of seeds. A glance into the sky revealed the annual migration of small white butterflies moving south to an unknown destination. Each bird in the sky and in the trees had its own unique behaviour. One small bird found itself in the rear view mirror of a parked car and continuously hovered in front of it, confused about the other bird in the mirror. Nature was all around us, showing to us its amazing secrets. Over all of this beautiful creation we realized that God had designed it for our pleasure.
Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Romans 1:21 — "Because that, when they knew God" - Comments- The Scriptures declare that every many "knows" God. This phrase may be better translated, "when they know that there is a God." It is creation that declares to every many there is a God who is all powerful and involved in the affairs of mankind.
Romans 1:21 — "they glorified Him not as God" - Scripture Reference- Note similar verses:
Psalm 106:20, "Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass."
Jeremiah 2:11, "Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit."
Many Americans have changed their glory from "In God we trust" into glorifying one another; thru sports, movies, military strength, beauty contests ( Proverbs 31:30), education and technology.
Proverbs 31:30, "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised."
Romans 1:21 — "neither were thankful" - Comments- Every human being has a reason to be thankful to God, even if they do not serve Him and glorify Him.
Romans 1:21 — "but became vain in their imaginations" - Comments - The word "vain" means "worthless or futile." The result of not glorifying God is to live a life of activity, and even hard work, so that in the end their life made worthless. This lifestyle will also, thru the years, cause the heart to become hard and darkened towards God.
2 Corinthians 4:4, "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
Romans 1:21 — "and their foolish heart was darkened" - Comments- A better translation reads, "and their dull, insensitive heart was darkened." In other words, their hearts became insensitive to God.
Romans 1:21 — Comments- Romans 1:21 reveals that a corrupt mind will corrupt the heart of man. That Isaiah, the heart will eventually follow the reasoning of the mind. A human being can be born with a conscience that understands the difference between good and evil. But, when a person practices evil and avoids good, his heart becomes darkened to the little amount of light that he once had about God. This is a progression of evil actions that leads to vain imaginations that result in a darkened heart. In other words, their bodies, their minds and then their hearts become corrupted in that order. The following verses ( Romans 1:22-32) will explain this progression of events and how God gives them over to their vanities and "turns them over to a reprobate mind", which is a mind that no longer is able to understand the difference between good and evil.
The human heart (or spirit) becomes darkened when light is suppressed. The mind is the channel of information to the human heart. When the mind focuses upon sinful deeds and darkness, the human spirit receives no light, and the person can only walk in darkness. Now, when light does come to them in the form of the truth, and a person rejects the truth, it leads him down a road of further alienation from God through a hardened heart. This hardened heart progressively becomes darker and more rebellious against the will of God.
Romans 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
Romans 1:22 — Comments- We see an example of the foolishness described in Romans 1:22 when we read about the Athenians in Acts 17; for they considered themselves to be wise in the midst of pagan temple worship.
Scripture References- Note a similar verse:
Psalm 14:1, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good."
Romans 1:23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible Prayer of Manasseh, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
Romans 1:23 — Comments- Perhaps the most dramatic example of idol worship today is found among the Hindus of India. Their pagan temples are full of images of creatures made by the hands of God.
Romans 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Romans 1:24 — "Wherefore" - Comments - The word "wherefore" can mean, "for this reason." That Isaiah, they did not give God the glory, but rather, they glorified themselves and the things that they had created.
Romans 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
Romans 1:25 — "Who changed the truth of God into a lie" - Comments - They exchanged the truth that they knew about God for a lie. These people rejected the little bit of revelation they had been given about God and chose to believe a lie instead.
Romans 1:25 — "and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator" - Comments- As a result of man's rejection of the truth, entire nations removed themselves to the far corners of the earth without carrying with them the pure knowledge of God. Anthropological and sociological studies will show that all of these people groups were given over to idolatry, witchcraft, and pagan forms of worship. There is no group that is an exception, because this is how man lives when he rejects God. I have observed this common facet of ancient societies in the museums in Uganda, East Africa, and the southern Philippines. The artifacts displayed before missionaries brought Christianity to these societies testify of idolatry and witchcraft.
Romans 1:25 — "who is blessed for ever. Amen" - Comments- Paul does not simply pause here to bless the Lord because he wants to sound spiritual. He had been caught up into the presence and glory of God on a number of occasions. These inexpressible experiences (see 2 Corinthians 12:4-5) left Paul in a state of awe and reverence. As he writes about this attribute of God, he gives Him glory as recalls those heavenly experiences in the presence of a holy God.
, "How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities."
Romans 1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
Romans 1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
— Comments - The Progression of Human Depravity- After mankind give themselves over to idolatry and fleshly indulgences and fornication, their flesh is no longer satisfied with these pleasures, and they long for something new and strange. The next step towards total depravity is homosexuality, as described in Romans 1:26-27.
Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Romans 1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Romans 1:30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Romans 1:30 — "inventors of evil things" - Comments- While driving in a neighborhood in the early 1980"s, I saw a cartoon character"s face of Mickey Mouse nailed on a tree. I thought of how man is constantly imagining new fairytale stories for himself. The Lord immediately quickened this verse to me as being fulfilled in the cartoons of Walt Disney cartoon characters. Why: because they give no glory to God.
Romans 1:31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Romans 1:31 — "covenant breakers" - Comments- The word "covenant breakers" describes someone who is faithless to promises or vows. Today"s rising divorce rate in the U.S. is an example of a covenant breaker.
Romans 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Romans 1:32 — Comments- Romans 1:32 means that these reprobate sinners not only commit sins in secret, but they openly and boldly consent to those who do the same. This phrase not only modifies the immediate context discussing homosexuality, but it can reach back into the more distant context to include fornicators and idolaters. A homosexual was ashamed to reveal his sinfulness in many modern societies for years. In recently, these people in many communities around the modern world have openly displayed their perversions through gay parades and other means. This reveals the greater degree of depravity among these reprobate sinners. The deepest level of human depravity is displayed when an entire society allows homosexuals to publically proclaim and practice their perversion. Every society deals with some degree of moral depravity, but only those societies who have progressed deepest into human depravity allow homosexuality to be publically promoted without condemnation. A number of developed countries during the twenty-first century allow such depravity without condemnation.
Illustration - While a missionary in Uganda, East Africa, I was having a conversation with an Indian who was born and raised in this nation. We were discussing the problem of corruption among the local Africans, and I commented that they should be ashamed of themselves for stealing government funds and lying so openly. His reply to me reflected his insight into the mindset of corruption when he said, "In Africa there is no shame." Having been raised in a Judeo-Christian culture, integrity served as the moral fiber of society, and people generally felt shame when committing sins against their fellow people. However, there is a mindset of individuals that feels no shame in their sins, and this is the mindset that Paul is describing in Romans 1:32, a person who openly and blatantly sins without feeling any sense of guilt or shame.
— Comments - The Characteristics of Depraved Society - Romans 1:29-32 describes the characteristics of a depraved society. A reprobate mind is a mind completely seared of a conscience to discern between good and evil. Paul describes those with a reprobate mind as "having their conscience seared with a hot iron" ( 1 Timothy 4:2).
gives us the list of characteristics of a depraved human being. After having rejected the revelation of God that they once had, they turn themselves over to a lifestyle of fleshly indulgences, which is the means by which their mind becomes vain and their foolish hearts are darkened. Once a man loses his ability to discern between good and evil because his conscience no longer speaks to him, his acts become exceedingly sinful.
If we examine this list of vices, we can see that the list begins with sinful actions of their bodies, then sins of a vain mind, and finally sins of a darkened heart.
Sins of a Depraved Body - "fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity." ( Romans 1:29)
Sins of a Vain Mind - "whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers." ( )
Sins of a Darkened Heart - "without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful." ( Romans 1:31)
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Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Romans 1". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Easter