Paul’s Epistle to the Romans

Paul’s letter to the Romans was written from Corinth in the spring of A.D. 57 or 58 while on his third missionary journey, and making preparations to return to Jerusalem with an offering from the mission churches for the believers there. His letter was dictated to Tertius (16:22) and delivered by Phebe, servant of the church at Cenchrea (endnote to Romans in KJV). Paul longed to visit the church now established in Rome, but first wanted to personally deliver the collections from the Gentile churches to Jerusalem.  The Roman church had not received the gospel from an apostle, so Paul prepared the way for his coming by laying out God’s plan of redemption and salvation for all mankind in this letter. The systematic way in which he does this makes Paul’s letter to the Romans perhaps the most important of his letters for Christian study. The outline can be considered in terms of ‘righteousness’, similar to that given in the New International Version Bible: Introduction Unrighteousness of mankind Righteousness imputed: Justification Righteousness imparted: Sanctification Righteousness vindicated: Israel’s rejection and ultimate purpose Righteousness practised Final words, commendations and greetings

Introduction

[1:1-17]

Paul’s longing to visit Rome

Paul introduces himself and relates his divine call and mission. He salutes the church in Rome, commending their faith, and expresses his eagerness to see them and share the gospel of Christ. At this point, Paul tells them the gospel reveals God’s righteousness and declares The just shall live by faith.

The unrighteousness of mankind

[1:18-3:20]

The Gentiles

[1:18-32] Evidence of the Creator is all around for everyone to see, but the Gentiles choose to worship creation rather than the Creator. For this, God didn’t prevent their corruption through freedom of choice, which included homosexual depravity of both sexes. Paul lists all the sins symptomatic of unrighteous Gentiles; not only do they commit these sins, but take pleasure in doing so.

The Jews

[2:1-3:9] Those who judge others, but are guilty themselves, will not escape God’s wrath,  whether they be Jew or Gentile, for God is no respecter of persons. The Gentiles will be judged according to the law written on their hearts; the Jews according to the written law they have failed to obey.The Jews have the written law and are confident they know better because of it, but their failure to practise what they preach has been a cause for Gentiles to blaspheme God. Their circumcision is an outward sign of the law, but is of no consequence if the law does not produce a change of heart. It is the change of heart that receives God’s recognition. Despite the advantage and privilege enjoyed by the Jews in receiving the oracles of God, some concocted the ridiculous notion that unbelief would somehow be acceptable, as it would enable further proof of God’s faithfulness to them. Do the Jews then excel because of the advantage they have had? No, they have simply shown they are no better than the Gentiles, since all have sinned and are accountable to God.

All people

[3:10–20] None are righteous before God, since all mankind is corrupt in many ways, and none can be justified by the law itself.

Righteousness imputed: Justification

[3:21-5:21]

Through Christ

[3:21-26] Now the righteousness of God has been revealed, apart from the law, through Jesus Christ whose sacrifice is the redemption for all mankind, and the pathway to forgiveness of sins for all who believe in Him.

Received by faith

[3:27-4:25] Salvation then is established for both Jew and Gentile through faith, not through works of the law, but this does not mean the law is set aside. Abraham is our example of justification by faith, since God declared him righteous before the law was established. Salvation, then, is available to both Jews and Gentiles, for it is not dependent on the law. The promise made to Abraham, that all the nations of the earth should be blessed in him, was made before he was circumcised. If salvation was for the Jews alone, then the law would have nullified the promise, but it didn’t, for David testified to Abraham’s righteousness and to the law. The account of Abraham’s justification through faith is given as a lesson, that we might believe in Christ as our means of salvation, apart from the law, having been crucified for our sins and raised from the dead for our justification.

The fruits of righteousness

[5:1-21] Being justified by faith, we have peace through Christ and access to grace, allowing afflictions, through patience and experience, to bring about hope. There is no shame in this hope, for the love of God is poured out in abundance, as Christ was crucified whilst we were still sinners, being our atonement by which we can now be reconciled to God. Sin and death entered the world by one man, Adam, and through his transgression all became guilty before God, the law exposing that guilt. Now, through the obedience of one man, Jesus Christ, the grace of God abounds much more than sin ever could, with the gift of righteousness and eternal life.

Righteousness imparted: Sanctification

[6-8]

Freedom from the power of sin

[6] We must not abuse grace by thinking that sin can somehow be excused because it allows grace to abound even more. Through our baptism into Christ, we have declared our old sinful selves to have been crucified with Him, and for sin to no longer reign in our lives. We are ‘resurrected’ to live to the glory of God, freed from the bondage of sin and now slaves to righteousness, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Freedom from the law’s condemnation

[7] The Mosaic law has power over a man as long as he lives, illustrated by marriage whereby a woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. Christian believers are delivered from the Mosaic law by Christ Jesus and united to God. The law provided knowledge of sin, but no means of overcoming it, yet was in itself holy, just and good. Despite being free from the bondage of sin, there is still an inner struggle between the flesh and the spirit, between sin and righteousness. We thank God that deliverance from the curse of sin is available through Christ our Lord.

Life in the power of the Holy Spirit

[8] There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ and walk according to the Spirit, for the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us through Him. One who is carnally minded cannot please God, but those who walk in the Spirit have the Spirit of God dwelling in them, the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead makes their mortal bodies alive through righteousness. Those who are led by the Spirit are adopted sons of God, and joint heirs with Christ, so that if we suffer with Him we may also be glorified together. The sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory, which is our hope through Christ Jesus. Along with the whole of creation, we groan and travail in pain while we wait with patience in the hope of things we cannot see. The Spirit helps us in all things, interceding for us in prayer. All things There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ and walk according to the Spirit, for the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us through Him. One who is carnally minded cannot please God, but those who walk in the Spirit have the Spirit of God dwelling in them, the same Spirit

Righteousness vindicated: Israel’s rejection and ultimate purpose

[9-11]

The justice of the rejection: God’s sovereign choice

[9:1-29] Paul expresses his great sorrow of heart for his kinsmen who were God’s chosen people, but had stumbled. God called Abraham as the father of the Israelites, but not all descendants of Abraham are called Israelites. The promise given to Abraham passed down  through Isaac, not Ishmael, and through Jacob, not Esau. Then, in time, He chose Pharaoh to be an instrument to show His power throughout the earth. God has mercy on whom He will have mercy, and none can question His authority, having power over mankind just as the potter has over his clay. The prophet Hosea foretold the calling of the Gentiles, and Isaiah the rejection of the Jews with only a remnant surviving.

The cause of Israel’s rejection: their unbelief

[9:30-10:21] The Gentiles learned that justification comes through faith, but the Jews, despite receiving the law of righteousness, stumbled because they considered righteousness to be gained through works of the law. Paul’s heart’s desire and prayer are for the Jews to be saved, for they have a great zeal for God, but do not recognise that faith in Christ is now the path to righteousness. All who confess the Lord Jesus and believe in their heart that God raised Him from the dead will be saved and not be put to shame. Faith comes through hearing the Word of God preached. The spread of the gospel throughout the earth, predicted by the prophets, is being accepted by the Gentiles, but not by most of the Jews.

Israel’s destiny

[11] Has God then completely rejected Israel? No, for as in the time of Elijah, when a remnant of seven thousand were saved, so by God’s grace there is a remnant in the present time. Being saved by grace, they are not saved by works of the law. Still, the body of Israelites is blinded as prophesied by David. The rejection is not final. Through their stumbling, salvation has come to the Gentiles, yet there is hope, for the Jews will become a holy people again. The Gentiles are not to boast over the plight of the Jews, for the Jews were the natural branches and the Gentiles have merely been grafted on in their place. If they do not continue to walk in faith, they too will be cut off. If the Jews do not continue in their unbelief, they will be grafted back in. Then, when a multitude of Gentiles have been converted, all Israel will be saved, for this is God’s covenant with them. God will again call them and the gospel will be given to them as it has been to the Gentiles. All this is according to the immense wisdom, knowledge and unsearchable judgements of God, through whom all things exist to His glory.

Righteousness practised: The Christian life

[12:1-15:13]

In the church

[12] Paul calls for all to give themselves to God, not to conform to this world, to be meek in their outlook, and for each to use their gift received from God according to the grace given him. Love is the dominant factor affecting all aspects of relationships and attitude to one another and to the world. We are to live peaceably with all, leaving vengeance to God and to overcome evil with good.

In the world

[13] We are to submit to the civil government over us, for there is no fear in living lawfully and paying all dues owed. We should not be in debt to anyone except in love, which is the fulfilment of the law and all its commandments. Our lives are to be lived in the expectation that Christ’s coming again is drawing near.

Among the weak and the strong Christians

[14:1-15:13] We should not dispute or judge one another on positions held on lesser issues. Nor should we do anything that might cause a weaker brother to stumble over lesser things. Rather, cultivate peace and brotherly affection. The strong are to bear the infirmities of the weak and strive to please their neighbours, rather than themselves, after the example of Christ. We should be of one mind in glorifying God, accepting one another as Christ accepted Jews and Gentiles according to scripture. In this, the God of Hope will fill us with peace and joy in our believing, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Epilogue

[15:14-16:27]

Personal summary

[15:14-33] Paul speaks of his mission and aim to preach the gospel where it has not previously been preached, and how his desire has been to visit the saints in Rome on his way to Spain. However, he must first go to Jerusalem and explains his reason, concerning the contributions for the poor there, and solicits their prayers that his desire to come to Rome will be fulfilled.

Commendations and greetings

[16] Paul concludes his letter with personal messages and greetings, a warning against those who cause divisions and offences contrary to the gospel and, finally, greetings are given from Paul’s colleagues.
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