Romans

 

 

There is no honest way to open up this discussion without first stating the obvious:  Romans is a hard book.  We love to pull out verses such as the ‘Romans Road,’ but seldom dig down much deeper.

Here’s my attempt.  

 

Chapter 1

Just some introductory stuff here.

  • Paul declares his unique role of bringing the Gospel of God to the Gentiles, which is us.  But at times he’ll go into pre- and post-Church times in order to make comparisons to us.
  • Notice the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes in v.16. We’ll look at that later. 
  • In the rest of chapter 1, he goes back in time to ‘since creation.’

 

Chapter 2

Paul begins chapter 2 by connecting the then-current Roman unbelievers back to the unbelievers in chapter 1.   He tells them (v.5) that they are guilty of the same and will experience God’s coming wrath/judgment.  Pay special attention to the basis of that judgment.

Romans 2:4-16 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of Godwho will render to each person according to his deeds: 

to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God. 12 For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; 

13-16

13 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

HUGE passage clarifying:

  • A) this is NOT a Church Age believer judgment.
  • B) judgment according to actions.
  • C) judgment of Jews and Gentiles separately.

This topic is addressed all over this site, so I’ll move on.

 

Chapter 3

Chapter 3:21 moves back to current day. 

Romans 3:21-31  21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

27-31

27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. 31 Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.

Since Chapter 3 is clarified by Chapter 4, let’s go to 4 first.

 

 Chapter 4

Romans 4 is too important not to put the whole thing in here. 

Romans 4 1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousnessjust as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered.
“Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”

Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.”10 How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised;11 and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.

13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; 15 for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.

16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,17 (as it is written, “A father of many nations have I made you”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.  

18-25

18 In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 

19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. 22 Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness23 Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, 24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

Super deep stuff.  I’ll try.

Clearly, Abraham had faith.  Faith in what?  What was he trusting in?  He believed God when God said He would do what was impossible to do humanly speaking.  He trusted God.  God then credited that to him as righteousness.  Righteousness of faith v. 13, NOT the righteousness of God given to us when we believe in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

I know we like to claim Romans 4:5 as ours, but Paul’s still talking about Abraham here.  He’s simply restating what he just said in the prior verses about no works being involved.  Look again.

Romans 4:1-5

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,

God justified Abraham without works.   He simply trusted/believed/had faith that God would do as He said.

All of this while uncircumcised.

Again, verses 10-12  10 How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised;11 and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.

 

Whoa.   

Why was righteousness was credited to Abraham before he was circumcised?  Due to his faith in God/belief that God would do what He said He would do.    

  • V.18 in hope against hope he believed.
  • V.19 without becoming weak in faith.
  • Vs.20-21 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith,giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.
Don’t skim over these verses — they’re key!

Next, vs.13-17 detail who the descendants are of God’s promise to Abraham of being heirs of the world.

An interesting part we tend to overlook is back in verses 11 and 12 relating to us.  Read it again from above. Righteousness was credited to Abraham pre-circumcision so righteousness might be credited to us who follow in his steps of faith. 

Which connects forward to verses 23-25.  23 Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, 24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. 

Similar to Abraham having faith credited to him due to his belief that even though his body was as good as dead, GOD would allow him to be a dad; we also are credited as righteous when we believe GOD that HE raised Jesus from the dead. 

 

Faith in what?

So to summarize the chapter, I’d like to remind you, again, to consider WHAT Abraham believed God about.  God did not tell Abraham to believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  But rather, to believe GOD, that He would somehow allow him to father at least a son so he could therefore be the father of many nations.  That’s it.

I know.  We look to Romans and say, “See!  Abraham was justified by faith so salvation by grace through faith believing in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection is true for all people of all times!”  That’s not what Romans 4 is saying.  You just read it.

Yes, our connection to Abraham is by faith in the power of God as mentioned above.  But we’re different in that our faith in God is that by His power He raised Jesus from the dead. (1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:5; 15:1-4; 2 Corinthians 13:4)

Notice just a few references to the power of God here.
  • Romans 1:16  16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:18,24 18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God….  24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
  • 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:14 14 Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power.
  • 2 Corinthians 13:4 For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you.
And my favorite… 
  • Beautiful.  Beautiful.  Ephesians 1:18-20 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,

The power of God, from Genesis to Revelation, should never be disregarded, or even taken lightly. We can see in these few passages just what it means to us.  (Want to grow in understanding and gratitude?  Read Ephesians!)

Now you can go back and re-read chapter 3. 

Better yet, I’ll just show part of it again.

Romans 3:21-26  21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

  • …the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe…
  • …being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus…
  • …so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus…

God justifies us with His righteousness as a gift when we have faith in Jesus.

 

Chapter 5

Vs.1-2 connect back to chapter 4.

Romans 5:1-2 1Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

We’re justified by believing God that Jesus died for our sins and that He, God, raised Him from the dead.  Jesus connects us back to the Father.

V 9-11  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Beautiful.

Vs.14-21 Paul’s comparing now to back in time between Adam and Moses.  Again, we’re declared righteous/justified through the gift of Jesus’ righteousness being applied to our account.  

Chapter 9

Romans 9:30-32 30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works.

The Jews were misunderstanding God’s purpose behind the Law.  Or maybe they understood it but chose to ignore it. Outward obedience to the letter of the law without it having any effect on their thought processes, motives, or desires is not what God wanted from them.  I believe God wanted them to first of all, love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.  And then secondly, love their neighbor as themselves.  With this MINDSET, they were to willingly and gladly obey the rest of the Law.  “Obey Me out of love.”  Didn’t happen. 

Read Deuteronomy 26:16-19, Isaiah 48 and 58 and so many others. 

Chapter 10

Romans 10:1-13

Romans 10:1-13 1Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).”But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

V.5 Righteousness based on the law for the Jew then versus vs. 6-10, salvation in our time.   We can see again that v.9 confirms what we mentioned earlier about believing God raised Him from the dead.   (I’d love to go into the very important topic mentioned in v.5, but it’ll have to be some other time.  We’ll touch on it briefly in just a minute, though.)

 

 Chapters 12-15:13

The CA believer’s guide to what our lives should look like!

 

So that’s it for Romans.  But it would be crazy to talk about OT faith without mentioning Hebrews 11, wouldn’t it?  Later, you might want to read The New Covenant for a deeper study.  But for now, I’ll include the section I’m referring to below.  I’ve replaced the original bolding with how it connects back to what we just learned in Romans.

Here’s the excerpt: 

Now I’m going to step out there and offer you a slightly different take on Hebrews 11.  I think you need to go back to 10:36 to get the correct context.  Though we Church Age believers like to say chapter 11 is all about OT believers who ‘looked forward to the cross’ and ‘had faith in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection,’ I believe that is wrong.  Verses 37 through chapter 11 are using prior examples of faithfulness defined by those who didn’t shrink back; who believed God, had faith in what He said and acted accordingly. 

And you can forget all the confusion on Chapter 12:1-3:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

It’s the final tying together of this section.  The cloud of witnesses is the prior faithful Jews.  The soon-to-be Tribulation Jews are to look back at the just-listed prior faithful Jews and with that encouragement, ‘throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,’ etc., so they don’t lose heart and give up! 

 

Same faith?

Tribulation ‘believers’ will be required to have this same faith! 

And here we are reading into the text what we think ‘faith’ means.  Why?  So we can apply our Church Age truth to all people.   Are you willing to stop doing this and start believing what the Bible SAYS? 

Now read Hebrews 11.  You’ll see the faith the author of Hebrews was praising was faith in God!  Most often demonstrated by their actions, their obedience, their…

Check out the next section.  Remember, some of these are Jews under the Law, some are not.  Read the whole chapter yourself.

Hebrews 11 sample verses. 

1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.

[Read 1 and 2 again and again and again until you’ve let go of your commentary-taught belief that ‘faith alone in Christ alone’ is implied here and JUST READ WHAT IT SAYS.  And I’m not belittling ‘faith alone in Christ alone.’  I’m simply saying that’s not what’s written here.]

By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. 

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. 

6-8

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. 

By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going

11, 39

11 By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. 

39 And all these, having gained approval through their faith…

Faith in God’s power, God’s promises, God’s provision:  God will do what He said He will do.   

Are you seeing it now?

If not, open up a Word document and fill in the verses like this:

Vs.4 written out

Vs.1&2, 6, 39 all written out

 

Vs.5 written out

Vs.1&2, 6, 39  written out

 

Vs.7 same — you get the picture.

Vs.1&2, 6, 39

 

Vs.8

Vs.1&2, 6, 39

 

Vs.11

Vs.1&2, 6, 39

That should make it abundantly clear what’s going on here.

1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.2 For by it the men of old gained approval.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him

39 And all these, having gained approval through their faith…

Question from Romans:  Faith in what?

Answer from Romans (when talking outside the Church Age):  Faith in God, trusting that He’s a promise-keeping God who would do whatever He said He would do.  Therefore…

  • … if He said do something, DO it.  
  • … if He said believe something, BELIEVE it.  
  • … if He said go somewhere, GO there.  
Please read one more time Romans 4:20-22.

Romans 4:20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he [Abraham] did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. 22 Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness. 

THIS is what put OT ‘believers’ into Abraham’s bosom!  NOT ‘looking forward to the cross.’

Then, praise God, Jesus sealed the deal and brought them out, up to heaven!