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Bible Commentaries

The Bible Study New Testament

Romans 1

Verses 1-7


From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus. The custom in the first century was for the writer to introduce himself at the beginning of a letter. Chosen and called by God. Paul makes this strong statement of his “apostleship,” because Jews of the “circumcision party” tried very hard to discredit him. Jesus Christ appointed Paul to be an apostle (Acts 9:15; 1 Corinthians 9:1). To preach his Good News. God himself is the source of the gospel. It is God’s act in Christ which sets us free (compare 1 Corinthians 2:8-10). Was promised long ago. The Good News was no “off-beat distortion of Judaism.” It was the fulfillment of God’s Plan. The prophets of the Old Testament pointed forward to “Someone who is coming.” It is about his Son. Christianity is based on the rock-foundation of this fact: Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God. Certain Jews were offended by this claim (see Luke 22:67-71). He was born. Christ was uniquely the “child of the woman” (see notes on 1 Timothy 2:15; Galatians 4:4). This made him a descendant of David by his human birth, since his human mother belonged to “David’s family.” Compare Matthew 22:41-46. As to his divine holiness. Jesus had no human father, but God himself by means of the Holy Spirit was directly the father of Jesus. But more than this, Jesus was the Eternal Logos in human form. Both humanity and divinity were united in him. Compare Romans 8:3. He was shown. The “raising from death” proved him to be the son of God!!! Through him God gave me. Christ chose the apostles directly. Compare John 17:6-12. An apostle. “Apostle” originally meant one of the ships which transported grain on the Mediterranean Sea. Apostles had all the miraculous “gifts from the Spirit,” and only they could pass these on to others (Acts 8:14-17). Paul was an apostle and could do these things. In order. “To believe and obey” = “unto obedience of faith.” Paul’s mission was to proclaim the Good News so people could believe and obey. Compare Romans 10:17; Acts 26:16-18. [On faith, see note on James 2:19.] This also includes you. These Christians at Rome had believed and obeyed. God had called them to Christ through the Good News. And so I write. Paul sends this letter to all who are “God’s people” in Rome. Rome was the capital of the world, home of Emperor Nero, a city of some two million. Whom God loves. Compare Colossians 3:12 and note. His own people. Christians are uniquely God’s own people. [Saint originally meant “one consecrated to God” = “God’s own people.”] Give you grace and peace. This is Paul’s greeting to them. It is a prayer for God and Jesus to bless them. Note that Paul was not a “Unitarian.” [Paul states the gospel in this introduction: (1) Jesus is the Son of God; (2) he took our humanity; (3) he demonstrated divine power; (4) he was raised from death; (5) men are saved when they believe and obey.]

Verses 8-15


First, I thank my God. Paul made it a habit to thank God through Jesus Christ for each and every believer. Here he directs these words to the Christians at Rome to show his deep interest in their spiritual health. Because the whole world. Rome was the center of civilization, and therefore the church at Rome would be known and talked about everywhere. God can prove. Only God could know Paul’s private prayers. God does hear his people pray (see Revelation 8:1-5 and notes). Whom I serve with all my heart. Paul made his whole life a living sacrifice! [“All my heart” = “in spirit” (John 4:23-24).] That I always remember you. This shows his deep love for all God’s people. Compare Ephesians 1:15-16; Philippians 1:3-4; Colossians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:2. I ask that God. Paul asked God to allow him to go to Rome. God did do this, but in an unusual way (see note on Acts 28:16). For I want very much to see you. Compare 1 Thessalonians 2:11 and note. To share a spiritual blessing with you. This means that so far, no apostle had ever been at Rome. The spiritual blessings (gifts from the Spirit) were passed on by the apostles. See note on Acts 8:17. To make you strong. See note on 1 Corinthians 12:7. This would give them “instant maturity.” Both you and I will be helped. No hint of despotism here! They were partners and co-workers in Christ. Many times I have planned. Such as Acts 19:21. But the time had not been right. When Paul did go, the whole church watched him (so to speak). I want to win converts. This fierce desire burned in Paul like a fire! The Gentiles were his special responsibility (Acts 9:15). For I have an obligation. God had put Paul right with himself. Now Paul is sent to proclaim the Good News to everyone everywhere!!! The civilized Greeks and Romans had contempt for other people; and the educated had contempt for the ignorant. But Paul’s obligation applied to all (ours does too). So then, I am eager. Not just willing, but eager!

Verses 16-17


I have complete confidence in the gospel. Paul is making a positive declaration and the TEV words it sol The gospel is the Good News of God’s act in Christ to set men free! It is God’s power to save all who believe. The gospel includes facts to be believed, commands to be obeyed, and promises to be received! The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) form the focal-point of God’s offer to put men right with himself. Compare 1 Corinthians 1:23-25. First the Jews. This offer from God came first to the Jews. Also the Gentiles. [Greek = Gentile.] God’s same terms of salvation were preached to both Jew and Gentile. For the gospel reveals. The obedient believer has the righteousness of Christ ritually credited (imputed) to him. Compare Romans 3:21-26; Romans 8:3-4. It is through faith. Eddins says: “Further, the actions of obedience are actions growing out of faith. When considered this way God’s plan is “faith from beginning to end.” [Faith is obediential: See note on James 2:19.] As the scripture says. The quotation is from Habakkuk 2:4. The Old Testament had predicted this system of righteousness by means of faith.

Verse 18


God’s wrath is revealed. The balance of this chapter shows that God is justified in sending his wrath on the sin and evil of men. Salvation is not “make-believe!” The Law shows the reality of sin. Against the background of the Law, God’s ACT in Christ to set men free is clearly seen as a beautiful act of LOVE! Whose evil ways prevent. Evil men inflict blindness upon themselves and others, and so prevent the truth from being known.

Verse 19


God punishes them. God did not “cut off” the Gentiles and leave them with no knowledge at all of him. Melchizedek and Balaam were both priests of God outside of the Law of Moses. There could have been others, although the scripture is silent. The point is that there was enough about God which could be known that the evil men of Romans 1:18 have no excuse for their action. Compare Acts 17:27.

Verse 20


Ever since God created the world. “Have been clearly seen” is in the continuous tense. Ever since Creation, enough evidence has been present to prevent anyone from worshiping lifeless images. There is no excuse, then, since no one can claim ignorance.

Verse 21


They know God. MacKnight says: “The writings of Plato, Xenophon, Plutarch, Cicero, and other philosophers . . . prove that the learned heathens, though ignorant of the way of salvation, were acquainted with the unity and spirituality of God, and had just notions of his perfections, of the creation and government of the world, and of the duties which men owe to God and to one another.” When men in their pride deliberately blind themselves to Truth, they plunge deeper into the darkness of evil. [Heart = mind.]

Verse 22


But they are fools. Those who repudiate God, are fools. Intelligence does not keep anyone from making a fool of himself. The Greeks and Romans were proud of their wisdom, but their worship of images showed them to be fools.

Verse 23


Instead of worshiping the immortal God. Nature clearly shows there is an immortal God who is the Creator. When they made themselves blind to God, they began worshiping false gods and made images of them.

Verse 24


To do the filthy things. God himself did not cause their sin, but when they rejected him, he allowed them to bring trouble upon themselves. The false religions accelerated the moral decay of the Gentile world. Compare note on 1 Thessalonians 1:9.

Verse 25


They exchange the truth. Some think the images were originally intended to help focus the mind on God. In time, the image became “god” for them, and God the Creator was forgotten.

Verses 26-27


Because men do this. That is, because men make themselves and others blind to Truth. Even the women. They committed unnatural acts (such as lesbianism) with other women. In the same way the men. The Romans of the first century felt no guilt about homosexual activity. Natural sexual relations. See 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 and notes. They themselves are punished. Wrongdoing curses and finally destroys the one who practices such things.

Verse 28


To corrupted minds. Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12. Those whom God cannot convince, he confuses. See note on Matthew 24:21 for an example of what people bring on themselves by rejecting God.

Verse 29


They are filled. The language of the TEV shows us clearly the character of those who have corrupted minds.

Verse 30


They are hateful to God. Sin is a hateful thing to God. See note on Matthew 27:46.

Verse 31


They are immoral. ASUNETOUS = without insight into moral and religious things. These are so amoral that they have lost all sense of Good and evil. No kindness or pity. Compare Matthew 18:21-35 and notes.

Verse 32


They know that God’s law. “They” means the evil men and women just described. God’s “natural law of right and wrong” is written in the minds of every human being! Compare Romans 1:19. Deserve death. The Gentile philosophers showed they knew this, by the things they wrote. Yet, not only. This is a deliberate act, because they know what God’s law (of nature) says. Knowing the consequences, they sin, approve of others who do the same things, and actually taught people how to sin!!! Historians such as Tacitus, Horace, Seneca and Juvenal show that this picture of sin which Paul shows to us, is accurate in describing the Gentile world of the first century. This is conclusive proof of the mess man makes of things when he tries to escape God.

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Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Romans 1". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.