The Old Testament was the Bible, which the apostles and other believers in the early Church used in their proclamation of the Gospel. In A. D. 57 Paul dictated to his friend Tertius – a Christian secretary – a letter destined for the Roman Christians. The house Church was the regular Christian meeting in these days. The Christians of Rome were used by Nero as the scapegoats for the fire of Rome. They were unpopular – reputed to be the enemies of the human race and credited with incest and cannibalism. Ethnic cleansing is not new. The Romans cleared all the Jews out of Rome under Nero and later when they were allowed to return the Church was being run by Gentile converts. This was not the same Church they had left. Churches change with new leadership. Paul may well have met some of the Jewish believers who had fled Rome and had a second hand idea of what life in Rome was like for believers.
The spirit in man is his breath, his disposition and his vitality. In Paul the human spirit may perhaps be described as the God-conscious element in a man, which is dormant or dead until it is stirred into life by the Spirit of God. Under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit the conscience of a man bears true witness. In the proclamation of the Gospel, God supplies the power to make the message effective to the hearers. “Christ in you and the Spirit in you are synonymous.” The Holy Spirit is the sanctifying agency in the lives of believers. Paul knew his own spiritual life to be a struggle. The giving of the Spirit is a pledge of the future. His presence guarantees the resurrection life of a day yet to come.
There is nothing about the Church, communion, Heaven or Hell or many other aspects of Paul’s preaching in other letters. The theme is how to learn to get right with God and live in a relationship with Him. There is a strong contrast between living under the law and living in the Spirit. It is a part of the whole counsel of God. The theme of the letter is how to be right with God. It was written in Corinth and carried to Rome by Phoebe. Paul took a Greek name in order to be relevant to the Gentiles to whom he had been sent. Paul was an aristocrat but now he was a slave. Fifty percent of the people of the Roman Empire were slaves. Many today are slaves to money, reputation, careers or alcohol. Paul was a slave to Jesus. The word “Gospel” meant good news and was used in the context of victory over an enemy. When the news arrived the people were free from concern about being in bondage to their enemy. The good news is that Jesus can change the situation. The World stated that Jesus deserved to die. God stated that Jesus deserved to live and He brought Him back to life. Grace comes before apostleship. Some want to be apostles before grace is evident in their lives.
v 1-7 is an introduction. Paul presents his credentials, and explains who is calling. He focuses on Christ as the one who is the fulfilment of Scripture.
v 8-15 is a statement of the purpose of the letter. There is always a reason behind what a man does.
v 18-32 looks at the state of man outside of God. It is good to be reminded of where a believer would be without the grace of God and the final destiny of a man who ignores the call of God. The World needs God.
If God has given a person a special understanding or teaching it is natural to want to share it with others. Paul desires to build up the Fellowship in Rome. Paul was ready to go to Rome but the timing was in God’s hands. Christianity is the only religion in the World where the leader is still alive. What Paul taught was against the Greek thinking of the day and the Jewish theology of the day. Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel or that it was an affront to the Emperor of Rome. “How can the blood of one man mean so much?” It is a natural question to be asked. The Romans worshipped power in their economic control and their legions. Righteousness – right living – can only come in one way – through faith in Jesus.
Rome was the centre of the World at the time. The Church was flourishing in Rome with Jewish and Gentile believers. The founder of the Church had faced treasonable charges and the authorities did not let the Church forget that. The theme of the Book is “Faith in Christ”. Paul pulls no punches in describing the state of the World. First he tells the bad news before he tells the good news. Man is determined to go his own way and God lets him. Wrong thinking and wrong doing go hand in hand. Rejection of reason means rejection of conscience. Darkness results. v 19. The truth about God is known instinctively. God has put this knowledge about Himself in the hearts of men. When men stand before God on judgement day they will have no excuse. The scandal of particularity. God chose the Jewish people. “Why not us?” God saved Paul. “Why not me?” The answer is that any man can be saved also – if he wants to be saved. Paul describes himself as a slave. A slave has no rights and is owned by his master. The error in religion is to scale down its gods to a size it can accommodate.
From v 18 there is a contrast with the rightness of God. Love and anger are both revealed by God. The wrath of God does not involve malice, getting back or vindictiveness. There is a need to punish one child, if the behaviour of that one child is putting the life of the other at risk. Wrath is the harsher side of love. God reacts when man vandalises His World. Man has vandalised his own paradise. Man has created global havoc in places like Iraq. God resists ungodliness. Man is living as if God does not exist. It is His World and He wants it back. Most people give God not a thought. God longs to heal and bless. God created man to be godly. The ungodly become unrighteous. When the commandments are broken people lose their love for God and respect for the property of others and their relationships. The command to love God leads to godliness. The command to love your neighbour leads to unrighteousness. Eventually God destroys what is evil and one day will destroy all evil. The final day of wrath will come at the end of time. Hell was designed for Satan and his demons but those who choose to ignore God will end up there. From time to time bowls of wrath are poured out on mankind.
Paul saw it all happening in the Roman Empire. When men give up God He gives them up. It starts when men stop doing what is right – worshipping God and thanking Him. They are then on a slippery downhill slope. They may be highly educated but are moral fools. When people change their religion or worship an idol they change their morality. The god of materialism results in lower morality in advertising their goods to the worshippers. There are virtually no moral rules in materialism. There are no brakes on a man’s behaviour when the Holy Spirit is removed. The law cannot change the heart of a man but can only restrain his actions to a limited extent. Prisons are penal dustbins unless the hearts of the prisoners are changed. Three times it says that God gave them up. It is hard to abandon children and let them go their own ways.
God is entitled to be angry. Only a fool says that there is no God in face of the overwhelming evidence in creation. The whole of creation speaks about God the Creator. Believing a lie leads to confusion. A man may be sincere yet be sincerely wrong. Disobedience leads to confusion. Deut ch 28 v 20. The worship of creatures places no demand on the people. Worshipping the sun is as foolish as bowing down to a light bulb. Human pride takes away the need for thankfulness. Man’s desire is to enthrone himself as god. This was an age of unabashed vice and moral decadence. God withdrew His grace and gave them up. A man reaps what he sows. It was not a case of sudden sin but the result of concerted action. Men deliberately chose to believe lies, such as evolution, cults, homosexuality, etc. God let them go and the thoughts of their minds sank to a new low. v 28. Since men did not bother to retain the knowledge of God, which they had been given, God let them go. They were no longer sustained by His grace. Instead every kind of wickedness and sin crept in and the enemy was allowed to come in like a flood. Knowing what was wrong, they did it anyway and encouraged others to do the same. A man encourages violence, if he watches it himself. Life is controlled by chance, fate or providence. The first two lead to uncertainty and hopelessness. If a rich man wins the lottery there is injustice when a poor man does not. Man knows the truth in his heart. If someone steals from him or beats his wife, he knows instinctively that it is wrong and that the person ought to be punished. v 21. A man either pushes the truth away from him and will not face it or v 28 cannot be bothered to retain it. A man cannot blame God, if God allows people to do what they want and others are hurt in the process. Knowing it is wrong man went ahead and did it. The World mocks believers and laughs at the problems of others or is indifferent about their problems. v 32. The Government makes the people to sin when it passes laws against the law of God.
Paul used everyday marketplace language to describe the situation before his own eyes. God saw the idolatry of the Israelites and responded by sending them into Babylon. He saw the sin of the people and responded by sending Jesus to rescue them from their sins. He saw their rejection of truth and gave them up so that finally they would be God forsaken. A man is not ignorant of God though he may not know about Jesus and the Bible. He passes judgement on his fellow human beings and he is quick to cry for mercy when one of his family is kidnapped. When a man deliberately suppresses the truth he pushes it down into his subconscious mind. The power and divinity of God can be seen from nature itself. Man has never claimed to have created the Universe. He claims it happened by chance. This is absurd.
By v 21 man becomes ungrateful. Man lives in an ungrateful society. Man does not look to the older generation for advice – even in the Church – but thinks that he knows it all. The minds of men have rejected God. This leaves a vacuum and man has filled the vacuum with something else – creation and the false gods of Gad and Meni. In so doing he has exchanged the truth about God for a lie. If man does not worship in Spirit and truth then he worships in a lie. Man makes his own ideas of what God is like and finally makes God in his own image – to be like himself. A materialist likes to see what he worships and looks for physical representations. God said that man should have no graven images but the materialist wants to have an image on which to focus his worship. Man tones down the truth.
v 24. When God is rejected in the hearts of men they focus on their bodies. Finally God is not only ignored but hated. They become God-haters. People tend to hate the name of Jesus now when before they were indifferent. Eventually they believe that what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right – paving the way for anti-Christ. Society then finds sin pleasurable and they approve of liars and adulterers. The brakes are off in society and the car is going downhill progressively faster with the inevitable result that there will be a crash. God does not send anyone to Hell. He puts up warnings signs all over the place but, if a man ignores all the warnings, he will drive his life over the edge of the rocky road to Hell. Once the lid is taken off society it is very difficult to place it back on. The permissive society simply surrendered to lust. Male/female relationships have altered. The roles are reversed. Confusion arises. Confusion is the first curse in Deut ch 28. In the days of the Roman Empire communications were excellent as they are today. There is the same immorality. The old man does things of which he would be ashamed.
1. The liking for the wrong thing.
2. The desire to hurt others
3. Coveting and greed and the lust for material things.
4. Depravity and viciousness.
5. Envy and a desire for recognition.
6. Murder – thinking about it is as bad as the actual act.
7. Strife – ambition and self-presentation. Bullying at work.
8. Ulterior motive is the real agenda.
9. Malice is a desire to distort. Gossip. Proverbs keeps a man in a right relationship with others.
11. God haters. The enemy fills the vacuum.
12. Insolent. It is impossible to talk to them.
13. Proud and arrogant. Heartless. They cannot make close friends.
14. They invent ways of doing evil in books and in sexual exploits.
15. Covenant breakers. Cruel and pitiless to others. Sin loves a companion. The rotten apple in a barrel of good apples can never be made good.
CHAPTER 2. It is easy to condemn others while being guilty of the same things, perhaps in different degrees. No one is perfect and without sin. There will come a day of wrath, when God judges the World. All will be judged – believers and unbelievers. Those who have rejected God will face terrible punishment. God will treat all alike – whether Jew or Gentile. God will punish sin wherever it is found. The non-believers ignore their conscience. Man was made in the image of God and each person has a conscience built into his being. It may become seared but when people judge others it shows that the conscience is still active. Blessings should encourage a man to repent and agree with God that he is wrong and God is right. The tragedy of humanism is that man ascribes the blessings of God to himself and declares himself righteous in God’s sight without the need of a saviour. The self-righteous consider themselves good enough for Heaven. The Jews ignore the law. The believers are also judged. They ought to know the vital importance of not sinning. If sin was so serious that Jesus had to die to pay the price how much more serious is it for a believer to sin, knowing the consequences and the seriousness. The non-believers will be judged for what they have done. God will judge the secret parts of a man’s life – the inmost thoughts and motives. There is a great responsibility on the Jews, because they have had the moral laws given to them to pass on to others. A real Jew is one who is in a right relationship with God. Circumcision was only a badge, like a dog collar. The real test is the heart of man. Circumcision of the body is only symbolic of the circumcision of the heart. The books will be opened on Judgement Day and will reveal everything, which has been done and thought in the life of each person. There was great responsibility on the Jewish people because they had the laws of God. In the same way there is great responsibility on Church leaders, because they know the Scriptures. They will be severely judged, if they fail to teach the Scriptures to the people and if they fail to do what they teach others. A man will never go for surgery until he is sure that he is seriously ill. It is easy to fall into the thinking that a man has it all together and knows the Bible inside out. If a person does not practice what he preaches, he will be despised by others. People will not easily overlook in others what they will overlook in themselves.
In this passage Paul stops talking to men in general and speaks to man in particular. Ch 1 is the universal guilt of mankind. Ch 2 is the personal guilt of the individual. All peoples have their codes of practice. Society takes the middle ground. Things acceptable to a man are not acceptable to God. In the way a man judges others the same standard will be applied to him. A man tends to condemn in others what he does not like in himself. To judge means to pass sentence and condemn. It is so easy to become self-righteous.
The passage raises certain questions. If everything is judged by what a man does, what is the standard by which men are judged? God’s pass mark is 100%. If a man breaks one link in the chain the whole chain is useless. God wants man perfect in His sight. Even Jesus was made perfect in His suffering. The Jewish people felt that they were favourites. Not so! In the parable of the wise man, it is not possible to tell from the outside which house is built on rock and which is built on sand. Time will tell, when the storms of life come along. Then only one will stand the test. In order to build the house properly it takes time and cost to excavate and build the foundations on the hard. It may be necessary to dig trial bores to find the depth of the topsoil.
Man has a choice – either keep all the laws of God or trust in Jesus. Even the worst of men knows what is right and wrong, when he passes judgement on others. The criminals in prison pass judgement on the sex offenders. Man may change the rules of society but God’s laws never change. In all pagan societies stealing is regarded as wrong. When believers sin in public God’s name is blasphemed. Truth costs money and time. The Queen of Sheba spent a lot of time and money visiting Solomon to find the truth to the big questions in life. Truth prevents a man from the frivolities and superficialities in life. The man who makes no preparations for death and life beyond death is a fool.
CHAPTER 3. What are the benefits of being a Jew? Other peoples have brought great blessings to mankind. Italians brought art. Europe brought great music in the persons of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and others. Britain has brought a common language to the World. People appreciate what has been done for them in these areas. The Jewish people have brought the Bible and the oracles of God to the World. Jesus said salvation is of the Jews. For the first 15 years of the early Church the members of the new Church were entirely Jewish. If it were not for the Jewish people mankind would not have access to the Word of God. The Jews had a special opportunity to know God and to see His perfect standards in the law. While there are advantages in being a Jew in that there are privileges, when it comes to standing before God there is no difference since all men are sinners. In the Court before God all have to plead guilty. Paul produces six quotations from the Old Testament to prove his point. These are from the Jewish Scriptures. The Law points to man’s sinfulness but does nothing to cure it. Both Jew and Gentile need the grace of God. God has Himself opened up a new way of salvation – only it is not all that new since the Scriptures speak about it. Both Jew and Gentile are now acceptable to God by faith in Jesus. There is greater judgement on the Jews because of their greater knowledge of God. The more a man knows of God’s laws the clearer it becomes that the man is not obeying them. Keeping rules never makes a man righteous. Keeping the moral law is like cosmetic surgery. It makes a man look better but does not make him a better person. Like death coming out of an open grave. Even believers speak death when they gossip and pull down others.
The Moral Law serves 4 purposes.
1. It shows the moral perfection of God.
2. It reveals the guilt of man and convicts him of sin.
3. It provides a standard by which human society is governed.
4. It is a guide to believers as to how they should live.
The big division in Paul’s day was between Jew and Gentile. Today the division is between black and white, rich and poor, the advanced World and the Developing World. So far as God is concerned there is no difference. Paul had previously hoped to be justified before God by his actions. But the problem with salvation by works is that a man can never be sure when he has done enough works to earn salvation. When a man relies on his own works to earn salvation, he becomes self-righteous, which is the very thing Jesus said of the Pharisees was their undoing. In effect they declared themselves righteous in God’s sight without the need for a saviour to pay the price for their sins. As a recipient of salvation by grace a man can go on to do the works of God without worrying as to whether the work is enough or not. No one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what the law requires.
v 21. Paul deals with those asking difficult questions. Once saved a man needs to obey the laws of God. It is only when he is saved that he can truly obey Jesus and keep the laws of God. The power of the Holy Spirit enables the man to obey the laws of God. Jesus said to follow Him. It is like a coach coupled to the engine of the train. The coach goes where the engine leads and under the power of the engine.
v 22. Now there is a new way of solving God’s problem of bringing people back into a relationship with Him. Man was not created to sin. It is natural for fallen man to sin. Pride and faith cannot go together.
CHAPTER 4. Satan’s alternative religion is salvation by works. Paul rebuts this and shows that salvation is by faith in God. The battle continues to this day as people attempt to please God by their good works. This was nothing new Paul was preaching. The best of a man’s works is grace. Abraham’s good works were the fruit of his faith in God. There was nothing he did except believe that God had spoken to him. Had he not first believed God, he would never have lived his life in the light of what he knew of God’s will. He took God at His word and acted accordingly. David simply acknowledged his guilt before God in faith that God heard him and would forgive him. The Jews considered circumcision as evidence of the covenant, but Paul points out that Abraham’s faith came first and the circumcision was the outward sign of the covenant made as a result of his faith and this was made fourteen years later. The physical sign was not relevant to the standing before God. It was merely evidence that Abraham already had faith. Abraham is the father of all uncircumcised believers on account of their faith. The law was given 430 years later, so it had nothing to do with the righteousness of Abraham. Even so Abraham continued to sin and did some things of which he would have been ashamed during his life. Abraham’s descendants are those who share his faith in God. What did Abraham see in Ur? The occult. What does a man see today – the emptiness of the World around him? Grace is a different thing from the law. A worker is entitled to his wages. They are not a gift. Salvation is a gift to those who do not work for it. Through justification the penalty of sin is cancelled and the rewards promised to the obedient are declared to be the portion of the believer. The demands of the law are not simply waived. They are fully satisfied. When a man tries to gain God’s blessing by keeping the moral law, he always ends up breaking God’s laws and under the anger of God. God says: “I made you like a little boat and you sailed away. Now I have bought you back.”
Luke ch 22 v 31. Peter made a mistake and Jesus prays that Peter’s faith will not fail. The bottom may drop out of a man’s life and he asks the question “where is God in this mess?” But do not give up believing. In Mark ch 4 v 38 the Disciples asked Jesus “Do you not care?” It was a rhetorical question. Of course He cared. Surely they had seen Him heal all who came to them and confront the demons. They really knew the answer. When a man knows the Lord, he has no need to covet anything. What can compare with the gift of eternal life? Abraham relied totally on God. So does every man who wants to get to Heaven. “How shall we get there?” Peter asked Jesus. “Trust me!” What a man believes makes a man right with God. Abraham believed in the future saviour. Man believes today in the past work of redemption.
CHAPTER 5. “Therefore.” What is it there for? After conversion life takes on a different dimension. Even difficulties are seen as good for a man, since they are used by God to forge his character. He has not only wiped out the past but allows a believer to be seated with Christ in the heavenly places. Now believers are regarded as friends of God. Sometimes believers do not grasp that God actually likes them as well as loves them. Sometimes believers do not like themselves very much. Obedience is the key to success. Adam disobeyed and many fall from grace. Jesus obeyed His Father even unto death and many have been saved as a result. The lives of believers will be successful when they obey the teachings of Jesus. Deut ch 18 v 19. The 10 Commandments were given so that all could see the extent of their failure to obey God’s laws. As well as receiving the gift of eternal life the believer is saved from the wrath of God, which rested on each believer before conversion. Peace is the first blessing when a man is put right with God. In the present crisis and troubles the World needs peace more than ever. The word ”access” means in Greek access into the harbour for a ship with safety and security. It also means a ticket into the throne room of God. Grace gives a man a private audience with Jesus. Grace can enable a man to stand under pressure and spiritual attack. The World seeks an answer to the complex problems facing it. The answer may be complex and take time to work through. Sufferings are essential to forge character and character is the only thing a man can take with him into eternity. The tribulation is not to be feared but to be used to strengthen character. The word used is a “tribulum”, which was a thresher to hammer out the grain and separate it from the chaff. Satan sifted Peter. God got the wheat and Satan got the chaff. It is all part of God preparing a man for Heaven in order to be like Jesus, who was perfected in His suffering.
Faith is based on facts and not feelings. Feelings are very unreliable. There is no reference in the New Testament to feelings. Feelings change with the weather. God’s Word transforms a man’s thinking. It breaks down strongholds of the mind. A trespass leads people into forbidden territory. “Trespassers will be prosecuted.” Transgression breaks the commandments. If Jesus mounted a rescue operation in a hopeless situation, how much more will He accomplish now for His people?
There is a contrast between Adam and Jesus. Paul regarded Adam as a real person. 1 Cor ch 15 v 45-47. Adam was created out of nothing in the image of God. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. Each was a miraculous beginning. Only Adam had a special relationship with God and was able to commune with Him. Jesus had the same privilege but He never sinned. Adam was the head of the human race and made a bad decision. Jesus is the head of the Church and has made only good decisions. Both gave life – Adam physical and Jesus spiritual. Adam was to rule over the Earth – Jesus over the Universe. During a deep sleep God created a bride out of Adam. John ch 19 v 35. Out of the side of Jesus God created a bride. Both were tested. Adam failed but Jesus succeeded. The first Adam was defeated by pride. The second Adam was victorious due to humility. “Take my yoke of humility on you and work the fields of the World with me.” All the isms of the World are against humility and pander to pride.
CHAPTER 6. Paul was concerned that some converts were behaving as if the Gospel gave them licence to do whatever they liked. Later Paul directed the Corinthian Church to excommunicate a man who was living in an incestuous relationship. Paul did not regard baptism as an optional extra to the Christian life. The idea of continuing in sin was a moral contradiction in terms. Sin should not dominate the believer any more. Grace liberates a person from sin and enables that person to triumph over it. Sin pays wages to its servants i.e. death. God gives eternal life as His reward. Either the believer does not understand what is sin and what offends God or he has been drawn back into sinful areas where he should have dealt with them long ago. The Israelites never fully put to death the Spiritual Giants. They proved a snare for them.
The idea that man is released from the moral law is known as antinominism i.e. opposition to moral law. Paul refutes the view and shows that salvation means deliverance from the power of sin and death. Man is empowered to serve God. To what extent he does so depends on the exercise of free will but God has given him the opportunity to do so. It is clearly a battleground between sin and love. As God said to Cain: “Sin is crouching at the door of your life ready to pounce.” Gen ch 4 v 7. Either sin or obedience will master a man. There is a constant choice to serve one or other master.
If good works could not save a man, then bad works will not condemn the man. This was the thinking behind this chapter. However when a man knows that a thing is wrong and still does it guilt appears. A man must grasp the principles of God and then put them into practice. God wants a man to have the mind of Christ. Baptism is greatly under-rated. Alcohol is forbidden to an alcoholic after being freed from alcoholism. Sin is forbidden to sinners after they are saved. Baptism is a funeral for believers. Salvation is like a player transferred to a new club with different rules and procedures. Sin no longer bosses the saved man. Its power has been broken. There can be degrees of repentance, commitment and faith but baptism is a once and for all action. It releases power by the act of obedience. The believer is challenged to act as if he is dead to sin. Take one step and God will take the other 99 steps and supply the power. v 12. The tongue and other parts of the body can be tools of the enemy. No more gossip. The strongholds have to be broken. The roots need to be severed. Part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit is to say “No” to a man’s fallen nature. In 1 Cor ch 6 v 9 Paul says that some of the Corinthian believers were once like that. There is a danger that, if the saved man thinks that there will always be grace to help him, he may find that there is a day when grace runs out and he loses the power to repent of his sins. The conscience enables a man to know what is right and what is wrong. But there is a time when Judges ch 25 v 21 applies and everyone does what is right in his own eyes.
Slavery. Half of the population of Rome was in slavery. The slave belonged to the master and had no rights. There were some good masters but many bad ones. How did man get into slavery? He disobeyed God. Some were born as slaves. Some were sold into slavery by their parents. It is still happening today. Some were kidnapped. It is still happening today. Some chose to become slaves to provide money for their families. How does a man get out of slavery? He does it by death. The result of sin is death. A few have been able to buy their way our but it is seldom satisfactory. It was very hard for a former slave to live outside of the system. There is no other way out. However there is a choice. If a good slave master comes along and purchases the slave he can move into the household of a good master. He is still a slave but things are better. The blood of Jesus purchased a way out but only into service of a good master. Jesus invites each man to be a slave to Him and to righteousness. Jesus came into the market place and eyed up the slaves there. He chose some to join His household. Life is a lot better under the mastery of Jesus. It is still hard work. As Cain found out sin was lying in wait at the door of his life to master him. Satan knows the weaknesses of the individual. It is a voluntary surrender and the slave’s decision to accept the new master. The choice is to be a slave to Christ. Total freedom is not an option. Satan deceives a man into thinking that he can be as a god. This is a lie. A man has to serve someone. In the Roman army all the soldiers received was their wages. If they failed in their duty, death awaited them. It was a brutal regime. When a man is a slave to Jesus, sin robs the man of the energy and time, which should be spent in the service of his master. Today there is a culture of a “free gift.” “Two for the price of one.” “You have won a free prize.” Jesus offers a free gift of eternal life. Yet so few are interested enough to enquire how to collect the gift.
The letter so far:
1. The Gospel is God’s way of bestowing righteousness on the sinner.
2. There is a universal need of justification.
3. Justification is by grace on the basis of the blood of Christ, through faith. The proof is the resurrection. It should be evidenced by works.
4. This is not a new doctrine. Abraham started it.
5. There are blessings, which flow from justification; peace, access, joy, glory in tribulation and the love of God in the heart of man.
6. Where does sin fit in after justification? Can a man continue in sin? A man cannot have sin and Jesus.
7. After conversion there are struggles between the old nature and the new man.
8. The believer is called to walk in the Spirit. The old nature clings on but new life has begun. Holiness is a possibility and a command.
In Chapter 6 Paul dealt with the consequences of conversion for the Jews. The believer is under new management and should use the power of the Holy Spirit to live a life pleasing to God. The purpose is to bear fruit. Sins are like weeds and need to be uprooted in order to allow the fruit to grow.
CHAPTER 7. Now Paul highlights the differences between living with Christ and living without Him. Now he becomes very practical and deals with the fact that sin still wells up within believers. He uses the illustration of marriage to demonstrate how before conversion the law was like a policeman enforcing them to behave in a certain way. Now the policeman is friendly since they want to please God and keep the moral law and so they are not afraid of the policeman but instead look to him to keep them right. They have as it were changed sides and are for God now, whereas before they were against Him. Their old nature was naturally inclined to disobey God but their new nature naturally wants to serve God and please Him. Before conversion they could not do any work, which was of value to God. Anything they did was the work of the grace of God in them. They had not started to serve God. They had not scored any points up on the “crown” chart and were still at nothing. Now, after conversion it is possible to start scoring points. It is like supporting a different team. They see life in a different way with new attitudes. Paul is attacking the concept of religion as law-keeping, the idea that by painstaking conformity to a law-code a man can acquire merit in God’s sight. The rich young ruler was not a liar or a hypocrite. He was morally good. But the law was useless to secure righteousness before God. Every time there is a word from God that a certain attitude or activity is wrong and offensive to God steps should be taken to eradicate it from the life of the believer. e.g. language or spiritual giants.
The purpose of the law is 1. To show sin and the need for a saviour. 2. To show a pattern of right and wrong and just laws. It is always wrong to tell a lie and murder. This is for the well-being of mankind.
v 7. The law is like a mirror. Until the law came and a man looked in the mirror he did not realise that he was sinning. But when he looked in the mirror he realised that he was dirty and sinful. It was not the mirror, which made him dirty, but it was sin. He was dirty before he looked in the mirror. It was bad enough being dirty but even worse to know that he was dirty and that everyone else could see that he was dirty. Unregenerate man does not feel too bad in himself until someone tells him how bad he is. That is why news of Jesus is not exactly welcome. He shows him up for what he is and how far short he falls. Without God there is no sin. The Law reveals the character of God and therefore it points to sin. An X ray does not bring a tumour but only confirms or reveals that there has been a tumour there all the time. The villain of the piece is sin.
Prohibitions tend to awaken a desire to do the thing that is forbidden, e.g. the smoker may forget how much he wants to smoke until he sees the “No Smoking” sign. The Law also speaks of the need for deliverance.
v 14. The conflict in man. Paul is not speaking of unregenerate man in verses 14-25. He is like any believer living simultaneously on two planes. His mind approves the will of God but the law of sin and death is pulling him in the other direction. Hence the state of tension. As in Adam all men die, so will Paul but at the same time he has passed from death to life in the spiritual realm. The day will come when the tension will pass away – either on death or on Christ’s return. Paul struggles against the tyrant of sin whose dictates he hates and which make him fall short and disobey the commands of God. Faith assures him that the end will come and he will be totally free. There is something in man – even regenerate man, which objects to God and seeks to be independent of Him. Believers are perfect as to their justification but their sanctification has only just begun. It is a progressive work -the present tense continuing. Sinful desires war against the souls. Is this personal to Paul? Is it occasional? Is it before or after conversion? The very name “Israel” means “struggle.” The memory is not obliterated at conversion. The believer remembers how it used to be and as long as he is in close touch with the World he will be constantly reminded as to how it was. It is easy for Satan to push a believer off course. The mind of the believer is bombarded with the thoughts of the World. Sin is crouching at the door and is located within the television set. Paul admits in 2 Cor ch 7 v 5 that in Macedonia he experienced fear in his life. There is a danger of giving an impression to others that the believer never sins. Others feel discouraged and deceived. There are more and more laws to make men behave as they ought to behave but only God can change the heart of a man.
The conclusion is that all believers need Jesus all the time to help them. It is essential to walk in the Spirit and in obedience. Temptation comes to everyone. Trials and difficulties may be sent by God to refine and challenge. There is a battle to be fought to overcome the World, the Devil and the flesh. Paul seems to have had a particular problem with coveting. v 7-8. A man is like a bowl. The bowl is biased against going in a straight live and veers to one side.
CHAPTER 8. There are two types of people in the World. Those who live in their old nature and those who walk in the Spirit. Now Paul concentrates on those who walk in the Spirit. They are joint heirs with Christ. If they have the Spirit, it should be apparent in their life. There is a constant battle to follow the leading of the Spirit. The unregenerate man cannot please God but the converted man can – by faith. A true son longs to support his father and wants to be available to help. v 8 asks the questions – Is it all worthwhile and is it really true? The answer is yes, of course. Even creation is affected by sin and longs for renewal. Isaiah ch 24. Creation is waiting for the sons of God. Isaiah ch 11 v 55. One day creation will work properly again. God will finish His task. The believers are longing for the work of sanctification to be finished.
v 18 is accountancy language – weigh it all up. Weigh the sufferings of the present against the joys of eternity. The inheritance of the believer is so immense. There may be more pain next year but there will be none in eternity. Hope is certainty that the time will come and Jesus will return and he will be made perfect. He is on the way to that date. He has an appointment with Jesus. Now that he has that all sorted out, is that not wonderful? Once saved nothing can separate him from the love of God. There will be troubles – that is obvious but God is for him, if he is for God. The believer has to be ready to die at any moment and be with God but meantime he should live for Him. At the end of chapter 8 it would be a fitting place to close the Book. But what about the Jews?
CHAPTER 9. There were no chapter headings and therefore this passage reads on from the end of chapter 8. Paul tackles the problem of Israel and where she fits in to God’s plans. The matter was of intense personal concern for him. It was also a real issue in the Church in Rome. The original Church there was composed of Jews, but now the Gentiles outnumbered them and tended to treat them as poor relations. So there was tension and it was vital for each to have a clear understanding of what God had to say on the matter. How did it all fit together? The history of the Jews reveals that some have always opened their hearts to God’s revelation while others have hardened theirs. The true Jew is the man whose life brings forth praise to God. Natural descent and physical circumcision are not the things, which matter most. There has always been an elect minority. Those who believe the promise of salvation to Abraham are true Jews. Still some receive the light and others do not. God is still merciful and compassionate. All the stubbornness of men like Pharaoh will not thwart the purpose of God. There is on the part of a man an answering back of unbelief and disobedience when a man tries to put God in the dock and sit in judgement on Him. It is this type of man Paul rebukes so sternly and reminds him of his creaturely status. God allows a man to question Him but will not be cross-examined on judgement day. The real question is why God postpones His wrath against men who have long since been deserving of destruction. They are storing up an increasing weight of retribution for themselves against the day of requital. Remember that all mankind is guilty before God. If it is justice a man demands, that is what he will get. He ought to ask for mercy. No one can demand of God that He explains the basis of His grace. It is clear from the mercy of God that He desired not the doom of a man but his salvation. God takes pity on those He wants to.
The theme in this section is choice. The choice, which God makes, is offensive to mankind, whose collective mind is soaked in sin. God makes His decisions without the permission of mankind. Does a man trust God’s decisions and timing? Paul saw his relatives outside of Christ and it troubled him as it troubles believers today when they see their relatives outside of Christ. It looks as if God has forgotten about the Jewish people. The great privileges afforded to the Jewish people had been refused and they had turned away from God and His provision. This is the peculiarity of selection. It is not popular and is the basis of anti-semitism. It was not God’s Word, which failed but His people. God chooses to exclude some people but His choices are always proved to be right. If a man likes to choose, why can God not be allowed to choose? A man should prefer God’s opinion to the opinion of experts. Insecurity dissolves when a man is gripped by the idea that God loves him as he is and that he has been chosen as a part of God’s eternal plan. The religious leaders wanted Jesus dead. The ordinary people allowed it by their silence. Where were all those who had been healed to stand up for Jesus? They should have been at the Passover festival. At least one might have spoken up for Jesus at the crucifixion. Only the thief on the cross spoke up for Jesus.
v 14. Paul answers the claim that God is not fair in choosing the Jewish people as against other people. Those who complain know about God and could ask for mercy also. No one deserved to be chosen. It was all mercy on the part of God. It is His privilege to choose. Paul quotes Hosea to show God’s grace. Those who were not my people are now my adopted people. Many Jewish people missed the coming of the Messiah. People miss Him today for the same reasons. They are too busy or have wrong expectations.
v 19. Paul then answers the next complaint: “Why then does God find fault with me? Why was I not born to better parents?” The answer is: “Who are you to question God’s decisions?” A man does not need to know all the answers. He does not need to be able to answer all the questions in the World.
The Remnant. There has always been a remnant of Israel. The saved remnant would become a saving remnant. Their existence was a guarantee of a wholesale turning to the Lord on the part of Israel on a day to come. The phrase “Jacob I have loved and Esau I have hated” refers to the nations of Israel and Edom – Malachi ch 1 v 2f – rather than their individual ancestors. Israel was the elect nation and Edom had incurred the wrath of God because of their un-brotherly conduct towards Israel in the day of Israel’s calamity. God’s mercy has its cause in Himself and not in the will or activity of men. God is not answerable to man for what He does. Yet He can be relied on to act in consistency with His character, which has been disclosed in Jesus.
Paul used the Hosea prophecy to explain the truth that those who are not His people – namely the Gentiles – will one day be His people and those who are His People will one day be accepted as such again. The Jewish people always had the way of salvation to hand through the Scriptures, for, whoever calls on the name of the Lord, will be saved. But faith was the stumbling block for them. Since they have stumbled there is a need to proclaim the Gospel to the World at large. Wherever there were Jews the Gospel had been preached. The Jews understood well enough but refused to obey. Paul planned to provoke his own people to jealousy by offering the Gospel to a no-people. To the Jews the Gentiles were a foolish people in that they were cut off from the knowledge of God. The Jews showed great enthusiasm for the honour of God but it was misplaced zeal. God keeps reaching out His hands to the Jews but they keep arguing and refusing to come to God. Isaiah ch 8 v 14 and 28. If a man will not take his stand on the rock of Jesus he will be dashed against it. A flood will come and unless a person is standing on the rock he will be swept away. 1 Pet ch 2 v 1 speaks of the same judgement against sin.
Israel’s alienation is not final. God has no more written them off now than in earlier days when they rejected Him. His purpose in choosing His people was safeguarded by His reservation of a faithful remnant. There had always been a remnant e.g. Elijah and the 7,000. The remnant was not to be a permanent feature of God’s relationship with Israel. Once they are jealous they will respond and when Israel as a whole responds words cannot describe the blessing, which their conversion will mean to the World. The fullness of the Jews is to be understood in the same sense as the fullness of the Gentiles. This means a large-scale conversion. The “first fruits” refers to those who like Paul had accepted Jesus as the Messiah. It was customary in Canaan 60 years ago to reinvigorate an olive tree, which was ceasing to bear fruit by grafting it with a shoot of the wild olive so that the sap of the tree ennobles this wild shoot and the tree again bears fruit. The writings of Columella make the same reference to this practice. The Jews had become weak and ineffective. But the Gentiles need not look down on the Jews. Unbelief in the grace of God led to the downfall of the Jews. The same thing could happen to the Gentiles. Paul sees the re-incorporation of the Jewish nation among the people of God when unbelief is replaced by faith as a miracle, which God is going to perform. When it happens it will be like dead people coming back to life.
The Restoration of Israel. Israel’s blindness is only temporary. This is a mystery, which Paul reveals. Then all Israel will be saved. This may not mean every single one but the nation as a whole. But it may mean every single Jewish person alive at that time. The temporary stumbling was foretold and so is the restoration. The New Covenant will not be complete until it embraces the people of the Old Covenant. This would happen because of the promises of God to the Patriarchs. It is not logical but it is grace. There is no merit involved. The fulfilment is based on grace and God’s faithfulness to His Word. God’s ultimate purpose for mankind is now revealed and it is mercy for Jew and Gentile alike. The election of a remnant is a token of God’s mercy to all without distinction. From God all things proceed, through Him all things exist and to Him all things return.
There are 3 reasons for not rejecting Israel
1. It raises doubts on the reliability of Scripture. God says He will restore Israel to the Land.
2. If a man cannot trust the promise of God not to reject Israel, how can he trust the promise of Jesus never to cast out those who come to Him?
3. It undermines the security of the Church. Will God cast out the Church from His protection?
Paul prays for his relatives. Satan tries to stop a man praying. The religious leaders tried to live lives, which were legally correct. They were sincere but sincerely wrong. A man cannot save himself. Religion tries to get right with God. The heart is the seat of the emotions and the will. If faith is real in the heart it will express itself through the mouth. Out of the heart the mouth speaks. Teachers teach children to learn things by heart. They do this by getting the children to repeat them by their words of their mouths. The heart and the mouth are linked together. Repetition means that the words have become part of a man.
Having dealt with God’s sovereignty Paul now deals with a man’s responsibilities in response to the Gospel. Most men have rejected the call of God in their life. A man needs to call to God in order to be saved. God has sent Jesus who called people to respond. When the preacher preaches the Holy Spirit moves in and then God does His work of regeneration. Until that moment a man has his own ideas. When the Word of God has been rejected what else can a man rely on? If the Judeo/Christian beliefs are rejected what will replace them as the basis for medical and other ethics at Universities? Faith comes by hearing the Word of God and in no other way. Isaiah ch 52. The feet of the one who brings good news are beautiful.
People find time for what they want – eating, drinking, being married, hobbies, football and gardening. There is plenty time. When will they spend time on the Word of God? Prov ch 4 v 20-22. Pay attention to my Word. Ex ch 15 v 26. Take the medicine 3 times a day after meals and see that it works.
v 16. Just a few believed in Jesus when He walked the Earth. The people heard about Jesus but the majority paid no attention
CHAPTER 11. Paul even changed his name in order to reach the Gentiles. Grace makes God’s choice sovereign.
Paul anticipates a series of questions and then he answers them.
1. If all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved, how do they know to call? Answer – spread the news.
2. Did the Jews not hear the call? Answer – Yes they did.
3. If the Jews heard, did they not understand? Yes, but they refused to listen and obey.
4. Did God reject them? Answer – No. A remnant did hear and obey. It was the same in Elijah’s day. The rest turned away and became blind and deaf to the message.
5. Are the Jews finished then as a people? Answer – No. They are no more rejected now than before. Many times in the past God has drawn them back. He has promised never to leave or forsake them. The Jewish people are a picture of the World’s rejection of God. Paul would have known of the return of the Jews because of the prophecies, which had still to be fulfilled. The Jews were obstinate people. They would not come.
CHAPTER 12. After the theology Paul turns to practical matters. “Now that you know what life is all about, it is time to start living as God wants you to live.” This is like a Doctor out of medical school treating his first patient. The Bible is full of doctrine and practical teaching. Doctrine is never taught simply that it may be known – but that it may be translated into practice. Theology is to life what bones are to the body. They are no use on their own but a man cannot live without them. Paul has taught the theology and now he turns to the flesh to hang the bones on it. Therefore!
How is a believer to live? A believer lives in three spheres.
1. Within the family of God. The vertical relationship.
2. In his relationships with others.
3. As a citizen, with a responsibility to the State.
1. The Church is seen as a body of many parts. Believers are diverse but called to co-operate for the good of the whole. Each member has received a special grace, which is to be exercised for the good of all. “Faith” means the spiritual power given to each one to enable him to discharge his responsibility. A man is designed to complete others and not to compete with others. Each person has different work to do. God has given each the ability to do something well.
2. Mutual love, sympathy and honour within the Church is to be expected, but something more is demanded in the dealings with non-believers. The best way to be rid of an enemy is to turn him into a friend. This is hard teaching because it is contrary to fallen human nature, which seeks after self and has a desire to hurt those who hurt him and to take revenge on his enemies. But the believer is to be transformed in his mind and to depart from the ways of the World. The mind is the nerve centre of operations within the body. It is like a reception desk in a hotel. A believer should not copy the ideas of the World. God is not involved in their ideas. The World says that all are equal. God gives different gifts to people. They are not all the same. The head controls the members of the body. Christ is the head. A believer should access his gifts. If the Disciples had not exercised their gifts, there would be no New Testament to read. Gifts are not toys but tools for certain times and places and designed to build up the body. There are twenty two gifts in the New Testament. Seek them and develop them.
The hard parts of the Bible are not difficult to understand. They are difficult to do. “Do you believe this? Then behave as if you do.” It is creed and conduct. Bones and flesh. Doctrine and love. Believers are asked to lay their bodies on the altar alive. When an animal was sacrificed it was no longer the property of the one sacrificing it. The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Look after it. It is a gift from God to them. A man acts through his body and therefore ought to keep it in good trim. The body belongs to God. He created it and gave it to a man on loan to be the vehicle in which he exists. It is temporary. What a man feeds into it physically and emotionally will affect it. The Holy Spirit dwells within the body. “Where did you take it last week?” The injunctions of God are not there to deprive a man of fun but to protect believers from the consequences of sin. It pleases the Lord that the body is a living sacrifice. Man was designed to be part of a body. He needs to be part of a living body in order to function. A man cannot serve without a body.
There are 6 tests.
1. Is it lawful? If it is contrary to the Word of God, it is forbidden.
2. Is it beneficial? Will it draw a believer closer to Jesus?
3. Is it enslaving? Is it leading a believer into bondage?
4. Is it consistent with Christ’s Lordship? There are places where Jesus would not choose to go. Can He watch what the believer wants to watch?
5. Is it helpful to others?
6. Is it consistent with the example of God?
The one-man ministry kills off the one man and paralyses all the others. The promises of God are fulfilled to those who are committed to Him. To play with evil is to show a lack of love for God. A believer should be glued to doing good. Zeal for God should not be a problem, if a believer is filled with the Holy Spirit. David was a man after God’s heart because he was full of zeal for God. God hates lukewarm disciples. Discouragement takes its toll. Believers should encourage one another. Believers should eat more simply so that others may simply eat. Believers should develop their gifts and work at them. It is all very practical and physical. Jesus came to bring the best quality of life available to man. There is no hopeless situation for Jesus and no incurable disease. When Paul was writing to the Roman Church telling them to give hospitality he was speaking the Jews and Gentiles. That was a big barrier to overcome.
v 18. If possible. Sometimes it is not possible to live at peace with a person.
v 21. Be an over-comer. Rev ch 2 and 3. Jesus promises a special prize to those who are over-comers. Go in the opposite spirit to the spirit at work in the World.
The Jewish people were proud of their position in God and the Roman Christians living in the capital city of the Empire might well have suffered from pride also.
CHAPTER 13. Paul goes on to teach about the attitude to the State. This had a special significance for the Early Church. The Jews were a religio licita. They were a law unto themselves. The first Christians were regarded as a “variety” of Jews. It was like a sect within Judaism. It has to be remembered that the founder had been convicted and executed by the sentence of a Roman Magistrate. Enemies said that the believers were claiming that there was another Emperor – Jesus – and He had been executed as a criminal. Acts ch 17 v 6-7. Paul teaches that to disobey the Authorities is to disobey God. Human Government is a divine ordinance and God gives it power to punish evil and encourage good behaviour. Therefore believers of all people should obey the law, pay their taxes and respect the Authorities because it is one way of serving God. There is an exception. When the decrees of the Authorities conflict with the commands of God, then believers ought to obey God rather than men. Then the Authorities have gone beyond the authority delegated to them from God. Believers can only effectively deny those bad laws, if they have kept all the good ones: e.g. paying tax and not parking on the double yellow lines are important, if they are to stand up to the offensive laws with any credibility.
When it comes to punishment and the death penalty the State is charged with a function, which has been specifically forbidden to the believer. The duty to the State is a temporary situation until the new order comes in on Christ’s return.
In all relationships the matter is summed up by doing unto others as a man wants them to do to him. “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Another reason for right living is that a believer never knows when the Lord might come for him. The return of the Lord to Earth was very much in the minds of the Early Church. A. D. 70 was imminent and would foreshadow the eventual end of the World.
CHAPTER 14. Then Paul returns to the question of the hour for the Roman Church. Disputes between members over what are really trifling matters. Little rules about eating and Sabbath observance. Believers are all at different stages of growth and see things from a different perspective. Leave God to sort out these matters and whatever they do, they should not criticise another for his behaviour in the peripheral matters. Each one will stand before God to give account for himself. Be sensitive to each other. There is no sin to which believers – especially keen believers – are more prone than that of criticising others. Paul himself was gloriously free from un-Christian taboos and inhibitions. But he knew that others were not.
God is interested in relationships, justice etc. Do not spoil the priorities over a piece of meat. If a believer flaunts his faith it is back to the question of status – “I am more important than you because …” Believers must obey their conscience, which will develop as they grow. Things, which they once saw as right, will become wrong. Things, which once were unimportant, will assume a new importance, as they are open to God’s Word.
The Jewish food laws, which had been observed by the nation from its earliest days, were one of the principal features distinguishing the Jews from the Gentiles. What are the modern day equivalents? Baptism? It is good to be emancipated but believers are members of a body and cannot live to themselves. There is a danger of being enslaved to a bad habit, which is not in itself sinful. Those things, which are of no use in running the race for Christ, need to be cast off. Anything, which is not done in faith is a sin, since only faith pleases God. On the question of meat there were two groups of believers who were sincere but not did agree with one another. Believers need to be convinced in their own minds but must not criticise others.
This passage deals with the origin of authority. It is grounded in God in Gen ch 2 v 16-17. Believers submit to authority not because it is a good idea but because it is God’s idea. If a man removes God, he removes the structure of authority. Authority makes freedom possible. God delegates His authority to governments, fathers, parents, teachers and employers. Denial of authority leads to chaos and tyranny. The authorities are in place to commend those who do right and to punish those who do wrong. The requirements of the moral law have been stamped on the heart of every man. A man knows what is right and wrong. Doing right is not the prerogative of the believers. There are a few occasions when it is right to oppose the State but generally the laws of the land are to be obeyed, even if not popular. Under Capitalism and Communism the state has exploited man.
CHAPTER 15. This continues the duties of the believers.
Firstly, there is to be no discrimination on the grounds of class or race or colour. The World is aware of problems in this respect and continually calls for Christian standards to be observed. Believers in the power of the Holy Spirit are called to put this into practise. Christ welcomes everyone regardless of background.
v 7. Therefore believers are to follow His example in this respect. Paul knew from the Scriptures – as did Jesus – that He had come for Jew and Gentile alike and he quotes several Old Testament passages to prove his point. Certainly He started with the Jews but He had to start somewhere and this did not mean that the others were second class or less favoured by God.
Secondly, believers are to consider others. This involves the thinking process. “Do unto others” is the basis for the Christian life. Gal ch 6 v 10. Again Jesus is the example in that He took man’s reproaches on Himself. The message must be born out by the life style. Paul claims in verse 19 that he has done so.
Thirdly, believers are to live in harmony with other believers. v 5. It is essential to God’s plan of reconciliation between man and God that man and man are reconciled. If Jew and Gentile believers can show the way, then the Church can grow. If not, then others will not be attracted. Believers are under a command not to fall out with their brothers and sisters in Christ. They must learn to disagree without falling out. It is not easy. There is a need to learn not to assert themselves.
Paul refers to Scripture to prove that Christ was in God’s plans all along and that if that has come true then all the rest of what God has said about judgement and the World to come will come true also.
Ps 69 v 21. Ps 18 v 46-49. God is the God of the whole World. Isaiah ch 11 v 10. Nations shall seek the Christ.
The letter is written to a fairly knowledgeable group. Paul is helping them sort out their doctrine and make it relevant to their everyday problems and their special problems in the Church at the time. He feels a special responsibility and discharges it towards them. He is giving them a filing system. He stresses that the Gentiles are indebted to the Jews, for salvation is of the Jews. This is why he is pleased that they have shown their concern for the Jewish believers in Jerusalem by taking a special collection for them. He wanted to go himself since it is the climax to his work and he is pleased to see that the new converts recognise their obligations to their Jewish brothers. He asks for prayer for this task. It will be difficult.
Paul is not satisfied with having finished his task and is looking for new work for the Lord. There is no word of retirement in the Bible. There is always plenty to be done. Believers are to work till they enter glory. So he is moving on from Asia to Jerusalem then to Rome and Spain. Paul had been instructed to do his work with the Gentiles by a word from the Lord. v 21. God had spoken to him. He had clung to that word and is delighted and satisfied that it has come to pass. God still speaks like that today. One sentence was relevant to Paul and yet the larger passage has a different meaning. The word of God is active. Paul gives God the credit for what was done. A personal encounter with Jesus is bound to make a man like Jesus to some extent. People tend to grow to be like their pets. Children copy their parents.
CHAPTER 16. The letter was taken to Rome by Phoebe. It is a personal letter and shows Paul’s concerns for the believers in Rome. Three men were hugely influenced by the Letter to the Romans – Augustine, Luther and Charles Wesley. God bursts through the normal religious duties of a man. Paul had finished his work in Turkey and Greece and knew that the Spirit was telling him to move to new fields. He had been appointed as an apostle to the Gentiles and Spain was in his mind. It is as if he is sending his sermon notes on ahead to establish his credentials with the Roman Church.