Romans 1:1-17 – Bible study notes

Romans — Paul’s masterpiece on grace, written in 57 or 58 AD from Corinth during Paul’s 3rd missionary journey — difficult to have an understanding of grace without a proper understanding of this letter.

Rom 1:1-7: Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, (2) which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, (3) concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, (4) who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, (5) through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, (6) among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; (7) to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Paul begins the letter by telling us who he is… this sets the tone for the entire letter
    • it reveals his heart — how he sees himself identified in his co-union (oneness) with Christ
  • I like the Mirror translation of v. 1 — Paul, passionately engaged by Jesus Christ, identified in him to represent Him, my mandate and message is to announce the goodness of God to mankind.
  • In verse 1 he tells us 2 key things about himself…. his relationship with Jesus and the outflow of that relationship
  • He is a bond servant
    • bond servant is doulos in Greek.  It means slave from deo, meaning to be bound or knitted together like a husband and wife;
    • this relationship with Jesus is an intimate oneness or union
    • Paul is not using the word to tell us he’s a servant of Jesus… but rather to focus on the love and oneness of a marriage covenant.  
    • It is the two becoming one
  • And out of that relationship flows his purpose and mission…
    • He is called as an apostle
    • called is kletos comes from kaleo, meaning called, to identify by name, to surname;
    • apostle is apostelo, means an extension from him, a representative;
      • Apostle is more than a title or a position of the five fold ministry
      • His identity is IN CHRIST… he is a representative of Him to the world…. an expression of an indwelling God
  • Finally he tells us what this message that he is called to release to the world looks like
    • to announce the goodness (or the good news) of God to mankind
    • not the justice of God… not calling out people’s sins
    • but to proclaim His goodness to ALL mankind
  • Verse 2 – which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,
    • This Gospel is not some kind of new religion
    • it’s ancient…. established before the foundation of the world (1 Pet 1:18-20; Rev 13:8; 2 Tim 1:9-10; Titus 1:3; Eph 1:4)
    • it was before the law
      • Genesis 3:15 – it’s promised in the garden after the Fall
      • Gal 3:8 – it was preached to Abraham
    • the law was to point them to the Gospel (or the good news) of Christ
      • 2 Tim 3:15 says the Old Testament Scriptures were able to make the Jews wise unto
      • salvation through faith which is in Christ — they pointed towards Jesus
      • John 5:39-40 — Jesus said the Old Testament Scriptures testify about Him
  • The gospel (the good news) of the success (or the finished work) of the Cross gives content and context to Scripture.   
    • It is our lens for reading ALL Scripture
      • Heb 1:1-3a: Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. (2) And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. (3) The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God,
  • Verse 3 – concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh
    • tells us the Son of God has His natural lineage from the seed of David
    • Beginning in Genesis and going forward, there were many prophecies about the lineage of the Christ coming through the line of King David — born of flesh
    • For the Jews, this would have been critically important information.
      • In Matthew 22:41-45 Jesus asked the Pharisees, “What do you think of the Christ? Whose son is he?”
      • They said to him, “The son of David.”
  • Verse 4 – who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,
    • declared is horizo, meaning to mark out beforehand, to define or locate, literally horizon
      • although He was the son of David in the flesh, He was marked out beforehand as the Son of God with power (dunamis – supernatural manifestations of miracle working power)
    • by the resurrection of the dead by Holy Spirit
      • The relevance of the resurrection is the revelation of mankind’s inclusion in Christ
        • Col 2:12 your co-inclusion in Christ is what God’s faith knew when he powerfully raised him from the dead.
        • 1 Pet 1:3:  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
        • Mirror:  He has reconnected us with our original genesis through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead!
      • Hosea 6:2 is the only scripture that prophesies the third day resurrection, and here in this single dramatic prophesy, we are co-included in his resurrection!
        • Hosea 6:2 “After two days he will revive us, on the third day he will raise us up!” [RSV]
      • This is the crux of the mystery of the Gospel — Isa 66:8, 9 “Will the earth be brought forth in one day? Can a nation be born in a moment?”
      • Without waiting for us to make the first move, God’s grace gathered and sealed the whole human family as joint-heirs with Christ.
      • putting our faith (our belief) in that allows us to experience the benefits of being a joint heir… but it doesn’t make it true – it is true regardless of our believing it — on the 3rd day He will raise us up!
  • Verse 5 – through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake,
    • Paul gives new definition to the term, “obedience,” no longer by law (by doing) but of faith.
      • obedience, from upo + akoo, means to be under the influence of what is heard; hearing from above.
      • to understand it I think we have to look at it in Hebrew – NT is in Greek but Paul was a Jew with a Hebraic mindset (or way of thinking)
      • In Hebrew it is shema — which is to hear and respond;  it is a hearing heart;
      • Jesus had a hearing heart — I only say what I hear My Father say and I only do what I see My Father do — a hearing heart is rooted in love and oneness (or co-union) with God.
    • He said we received grace and apostleship to tell Gentiles what God has done for them (NLT)
      • We have all received grace and “apostleship” — we’re all builders… representatives of Him to release and declare the goodness of God to all men
      • to bring about a faith-inspired lifestyle in all the nations — to bring about a hearing heart among the Gentiles that responds in love and oneness with the Father
    • Verse 7 – to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
      • Paul describes them “beloved of God”
        • beloved comes from the root agape — loved, to take pleasure in, preferred.
          • we are the object of His love… he didn’t pity us or feel morally obligated to save us.
          • He saved us because of His infinite love for us (John 3:16).
        • Eph 3:19: and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  
          • that we would know (that we would be intimately acquainted with) the love of Christ on the deepest possible level (far beyond a mere academic, intellectual grasp)
          • An intimate personal knowledge of His love is the key to awakening to the consciousness of His closeness! Separation is just an illusion! Oneness was God’s idea all along!
          • He desires to express himself through your touch, your voice, your presence; he is so happy to dwell in you!
          • There is no place in the universe where He would rather be!
    • He also called them saints
    • saints is hagios which means holy.  
    • He has made us and called us holy IN CHRIST!
    • we are loved and holy — made in His image and likeness
    • I like a translation I read recently:  To all who dwell in Rome, loved and breathed after of God, created and appointed holy: May you experience happiness, joy, be well-off and experience your peace with God our Father; the peace Jesus Christ revealed

 

Rom 1:8-15: First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world. (9) For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, (10) always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you. (11) For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; (12) that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine. (13) I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles. (14) I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.  (15) So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

  • the whole world was hearing of their faith  — of this new life now lived in co-union in oneness with Christ
  • Wow! These believers who had never had an apostolic visit and, as far as we know, had very little teaching, were spreading the Gospel throughout Rome and stories of that faith had spread throughout the known world at that time.
  • verses  11-12 – For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.
  • Paul wanted to come to the Believers in Rome so that he might impart unto them some spiritual gift
    • gift is metadidomi, which translates as the kind of giving where the giver is not distanced from the gift but wrapped up in it!
      • The apostles, prophets, preachers, pastors, and teachers are gifts to the church to establish them in their faith and to present everyone in the full and mature stature of Christ [Eph 4:11-16].
      • There is such a vast difference between a gift and a reward!
      • We are God’s gifts to one another – to the world — What we are in our individual expression is a gift
      • These gifts are not a reward for personal diligence or achievement this 5 fold ministry is a gift to the church from Christ to help them mature
      • These gifts were never meant to establish one above the other, or to become mere formal titles
  • Paul understood that he was a gift to the body of Christ and that an impartation from him would help them grow and mature in Christ
  • And that it would be mutual encouragement of faith — all of them, including Paul, refreshed
  • Paul was not a one-man show with a title needing no one else
    • They would encourage him and refresh him as well

 

  • verse 14-15 – I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.  (15) So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

here we see another glimpse of Paul’s heart — how he saw mankind

understanding his heart — seeing as he did — will keep us accurate in reading his letters in context

  • Paul is completely convinced of everyone’s inclusion in the Gospel
    • He is saying he owes this message to everyone – even those considered outsiders
    • Today we “believers” consider all who are outside the church walls as outsiders – we refer to them as the world, the lost, unbelievers, ungodly, unrighteous and even sinners or heathens – separating humanity into 2 categories
    • To the Jews everyone who was not a Jew were called “Gentiles” – outside of the covenant
    • Like the Jews, the Greeks also divided the world into two distinct populations. There were Greeks, and everyone else were Barbarians.
    • Greeks – was anyone who spoke Greek and was part of Greek society – including the Romans
    • Barbarians – referred to savages or uncivilized people; non Greek speaking people; outsiders of Greek culture
    • Greeks considered themselves superior to Barbarians – Just as Jews considered themselves superior to Gentiles and unfortunately we in the church can consider ourselves superior to those outside of the church.
    • But the good news is God has no outsiders of His covenant!!
    • His covenant is with Jesus and ALL mankind are beneficiaries or recipients of that covenant
    • he owes this message to ALL
    • indebted is opheiletes in Greek, it means to be in debt to another, it obliges one to return something to someone that belongs to him or her in the first place.
      • This gospel of grace belonged to ALL mankind in the first place
      • Gal 3:8: Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”

 

Rom 1:16-17: 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. (17) For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”

verse 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.

Here is another glimpse at Paul’s heart — his confidence was not in his own ability

  • Paul was confident in this gospel that he preached – he was not ashamed
    • ashamed is epaischunomai in Greek which means to be disgraced or humiliated because they misplaced their confidence or wrongly identified or aligned with something.
  • Go to 1 Corinthians 2 – Paul is talking about preaching the Gospel
    • verse 1 – he did not come with eloquence (excellency or authority of speech) or human wisdom (skill, insight or intelligence) as he proclaimed to them the testimony of God
      • he did not engage them in theological debate or try to impress them with clever words about the evidence of God
    • verse 4 he says My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive (skillful, urgent) words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
    • verse 2 says he simply preached nothing else except Jesus Christ and Him crucified
    • he didn’t go to evangelism training, give out witnessing tracks or learn formulas like the “Romans Road to Salvation”
  • the key to not being ashamed of the gospel is having a revelation of what this gospel of grace is…. of the finished work of the Cross and Resurrection… of knowing that Jesus alone was successful for ALL mankind.
    • ashamed doesn’t mean that you are bold enough to declare it and that you’re not embarrassed to stand up for Christ.
    • Instead it means that you have confidence in it’s power to release God’s faith in someone to awaken them to the fact that they have been reconciled to the Father through Jesus and experience this abundant life in Him –  2 Cor 5:17-21
    • The message of the gospel is the means, by which God’s power is implemented bringing wholeness to all mankind.
  • When you declare this pure gospel of grace people have their “aha” moment because God’s faith awakens inside of them
    • Eph 2:8: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–
  • Paul didn’t preach the gospel to keep people from going to hell or to get them in to church
    • Verse 14 says that he was obligated — obliged to return to all men what had always belonged to them in the first place
      • Again Gal 3:8: Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”

I like this translation too:  I am not ashamed to announce the Good News: for it reveals the abundant power of God who preserved, causes to do well and keeps whole, everyone; of them who put their faith in what was provided before the foundation of the world; they will experience their wholeness. I taught this to the Judeans first and then to the Greeks, and now you.

 

verse 17 – For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”

I like the way the Mirror says v. 17 — Herein lies the secret of the power of the Gospel; there is no good news in it until the righteousness of God is revealed! The dynamic of the gospel is the revelation of God’s faith as the only valid basis for our belief. The prophets wrote in advance about the fact that God believes that righteousness reveals the life of our design. “Righteousness by his (God’s) faith defines life.”

  • Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 in verse 17
  • Paul would’ve read from the Septuagint which was the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible
    • In the Septuagint the phrase would be properly translated as “but the righteous out of the faith of Him shall live.”
    • The message to Habakkuk was that the just lives because of faith, not uprightness.
      • One translation says God’s faith IS his uprightness — our righteousness comes from His faith not our adherence to the law
      • Habakkuk sees a complete new basis to mankind’s standing before God!
      • Deuteronomy 28 would no longer be the motivation or measure of right or wrong behavior! Instead of righteousness as a reward to mankind’s efforts to obey the law, Habakkuk celebrates God’s righteousness based on God’s belief,
    • Habakkuk deals with the questions that come up when someone really believes God, yet looks around them and the world doesn’t seem to match up with how God wants
      • Hab 1:4 “the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails” — The failure of God’s law to produce the fruit of righteousness leaves Habakkuk dismayed and frustrated.
      • Habakkuk’s frustration has little to do with the sins of Judah (and their failure to keep the law) or the godlessness of Babylon.
    • It really has to do with Habakkuk’s own point of view.
      • Habakkuk only sees the letter of the law — which then makes him sin conscious
    • But God would open his eyes—like David—so he can behold things more wondrous than law (Ps. 119:18).
    • Clearly, Habakkuk’s own viewpoint has left him blind. He needs a revelation, and the Lord is glad to accommodate him:
      • Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay (Hab. 2:2, 3
      • Habakkuk’s eyes are now opened to a startling truth: God has appointed a time when He will execute justice and bring forth the fruit of righteousness.
      • Man’s anger will not achieve it, nor will prophetic ministry or law. “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith” (Rom. 1:17).
      • Now Habakkuk understands God’s master plan, justice for all would be gathered into the cross and carried out in one devastating blow.
      • For God does not judge, as Habakkuk does, one nation a little better and one a little worse.
      • Jew and Babylonian alike were all under sin (Rom. 3:9).
    • Righteousness, then, cannot be found in this world — in the law, through our own self efforts — but only comes through faith
  • From faith to faith
    • God’s faith awakened faith in us to believe (to trust and rest in) the Gospel of Christ and we then are able to experience this abundant life in Him
    • The righteousness of God is revealed when men come to faith, but it is also revealed as men live, by faith.
    • The righteousness of God is revealed through men, as they live out the gospel.
  • Habukkuk means embracer….
    • it’s an appropriate name for the prophet – He embraced God’s plan of righteousness for ALL men through faith apart from the law — He embraced the plan of Jesus
    • And for the message – God embraced all of us – He has no outsiders.

This is a really good translation:  For explaining and teaching the Good News, is revealing the love, character and nature of God as revealed by Jesus’ Passion; the religious cover and false perception is removed by constantly hearing and receiving the non-deceitful Word, as it is written, the righteous mindful person experiences and treads about in real Life.

If you don’t understand the first part of Romans 1, you won’t understand the 2nd part that talks about the wrath of God — we’ll get to that next week.

 

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