The New Testament book by Paul
King James Version
(Romans 1:1) Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
Paul's credentials: Jesus called him to be an apostle. He was separated from among his peers to become a preacher, teacher, and evangelist.
(Romans 1:2) (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)
The gospel appears in the Old Testament. Jesus explained this to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:27). Various prophecies and promises in the Old Testament are fulfilled by Jesus and the Church.
This was not obvious and certainly contradicted Jewish belief; it was a completely new understanding of the Old Testament. It was completely understandable that Jews would have trouble accepting it. Early heresies such as gnosticism rejected it.
(Romans 1:3) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
The gospel concerns Jesus. Jesus is of the lineage of David (Matthew 1:17; Luke 3:31).
(Romans 1:4) And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
God demonstrates to us his will and truth by displaying his acts of power in signs (John 20:30; Acts 2:22) and miracles. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is proof that he is Lord and God. God is holy in all he does.
(Romans 1:5) By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
God is the source of Paul's and the other apostles' authority and calling. This calling was a grace from God to the apostles. The purpose and mission of the apostles is that the people of the world (the nations) including the non-Jewish people, the Gentiles, would become obedient to the faith; obedient to the gospel. All acts of faith that we do as Christians are done in the name of Jesus, meaning that we do it out of our love of God and faithfulness to him. We wish to be pleasing to God, thus we obey him and his Son, Jesus Christ.
(Romans 1:6) Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:
Paul refers to his audience; those Christians who were alive at the time Paul wrote this letter and who hear his letter read during the liturgy. Of course, this letter now applies to all of us as well.
Notice that Christians are called to faith in Jesus Christ from among the nations. This does not mean that our free will had no role. God calls; we respond to his call.
Notice that it is Christians in all the world that are called, not individuals. Just as the apostles were called to preach the gospel to all the world, so are Christians called to obey this gospel and receive it in faith.
(Romans 1:7) To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul's primary audience is the Christians in Rome. He refers to them as those who are "called to be saints." Salvation is a grace given to us by God. Salvation originates from God. God has established the plan of salvation and has provided the means of redemption. Our role is to receive it in faith.
Christians are saints. But I think there is the assumption that these saintly Christians are living the faith. I doubt Paul would consider the Christians that he rebukes in his letters as saints.
I doubt that Paul's use of the word "saints" to refer to living Christians implies that there are no Saints in heaven who intercede for us.
Paul greets his audience with the words grace and peace. The word peace is the greeting among Jews.
(Romans 1:8) First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
Paul remarks on the faith of his audience in general. Some of them are not living up to the holy standards as we learn later in the letter. But in general, the Christians in the Roman church are known throughout the whole world for their exemplary life of faith.
The Roman Church was noted for the purity of its faith for the first 800 years of the church.
(Romans 1:9) For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;
Paul mentions the Christians in Rome when he prays. I suppose he had a regular routine of daily prayer; of reciting prayers and praying for the various churches he was involved with.
Paul says that he prays for them "without ceasing". I doubt he means minute by minute — I suspect he is referring to his regular prayer sessions.
Paul's service of God is performed by his acts of faith in the gospel. It is the gospel which motivates him and directs him. The gospel message is not limited to merely evangelism — it encompasses all aspects of our lives.
Paul serves God in his spirit. But the word "spirit" I suspect that he is referring to his soul, his volition, his will, his firm purpose of mind.
(Romans 1:10) Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.
Paul wants to visit Rome again and prays to God for this.
He sounds a bit like a charismatic.
The way Paul mentions God's will is unexpected. Rather than asking God whether it is in His will to send him to Rome, Paul instead asks God to allow the trip — Paul initiates the transaction expecting God to cooperate. Thus we see that God does not have a perfect will for every situation which we can either accept or thwart; rather, there are many areas in which God allows us to do as we please and in these God's will is limited to preventing outcomes that are outside of His will.
(Romans 1:11) For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;
Paul knows these people and longs to see them. He wants to bless them, presumably by encouraging them in their faith to live holy lives and to resist the temptation to be drawn back into their worldly ways. He wants them to be established in their faith which implies that they remain firm and faithful to the commands of Jesus.
The gift spoken of is likely not the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 but rather the kind of gift referred to in 1 Corinthians 1:7
This verse does not support the Catholic and Orthodox teaching that the sacrament of Holy Orders is imparted by the laying-on of hands as is often claimed. 1 Timothy 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6 are used to support this teaching by claiming that the gift that Paul and the other presbyters imparted to Timothy through the laying-on of their hands was the office of bishop. But in Romans 1:11 we see that Paul wants to impart a spiritual gift to the Christians in Rome — certainly he does not want to ordain them.
(Romans 1:12) That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
The spiritual gift that Paul wants to impart to the Christians in Rome will provide them comfort and encouragement.
Paul also needs the same comfort and encouragement from them.
(Romans 1:13) Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.
Paul has planned to visit them on many occasions but has not been able to. He wants all the churches and Christians he is involved with to be fruitful. His primary focus is churches composed mainly of non-Jews (Gentiles).
It seems odd that Paul spends so much of this letter addressing topics of interest to Jews since his audience is primarily Gentile Christians. I suspect he thinks that refuting the false teachings of the Judaizers requires that he refute their claims. After all, these Judaizers want the Gentile Christians to become Jewish to be a Christian. Paul warns them using Jewish arguments and Jewish terminology to equip these Gentiles in their debates with the Judaizers.
(Romans 1:14) I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.
He owes his service in the gospel to everyone: to the cultured and educated (Greeks and wise), the uneducated (Barbarians and unwise). Paul considers that he owes his very being to Christ and to the work of the gospel.
(Romans 1:15) So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
He preaches the gospel to unbelievers and believers. He wants to do this in Rome. Presumably he wants to come to Rome to preach around the city to gather more converts to the Church. I suspect that the leaders of the church in Rome would have no objection to this.
There seems to be a dual level of leadership in the church. The first level is the local bishop who has charge over his flock. The second level is the apostles and others such as prophets and evangelists who wander from region to region preaching the gospel, building up the church, and even rebuking the bishops when needed.
It seems that Paul's reflection on evangelizing triggers his long sermon which follows concerning what it takes to end up in heaven or hell. This is in contrast to his reflections on how holy and righteous the Roman Christians are. Why would he write such a long section about God's judgment of sin to such holy people? Perhaps he is hoping that they will become more motivated to evangelize the unsaved. Perhaps he knows that many of these Christians living in Rome are not really living the faith as they should.
(Romans 1:16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Paul is bold; he is not shy about preaching an unpopular message. The gospel contains the message of God's plan for salvation. When people hear it, believe it, and commit their lives to it, the power of God's salvation works within them and they are heaven-bound.
Paul mentions the Jews. This is the beginning of the theme of the purpose of the Jews in God's redemptive plan and their role in the Christian era.
A common theme in the New Testament is that the gospel was first presented to the Jews and then later to the Gentiles. God began his redemptive work with the Jews through Abraham and Moses. But in the Christian New Testament era, God's message of salvation is targeted to everyone, not only Jews.
(Romans 1:17) For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
We enter God's family by faith, not by being a member of the Jewish nation. This is a key point in many New Testament writings so I will discuss it a bit.
God's first covenant was with the nation of Israel. This covenant prescribed laws and sacrifices and established a priesthood. God certainly intended that they be faithful to these laws but that it be done with faith, not merely as works. The external practices were intended to demonstrate to the people that they were sinners in need of God's mercy. They could express their repentant hearts by bringing their various sacrifices to the priests. They were to participate in various liturgical practices such as prayers and celebrations on feast days.
Over the years and centuries they fell away. Through the prophets God exhorted them to return to him in their hearts. Some did from time to time. By the time of Jesus their religion had become works-based instead of Spirit-based as it was in the beginning. It was this works-based attitude to religion that Paul often referred to by the phrase "works of the law." He did not intend that Christians don't need to perform good works; to the contrary, he was always exhorting Christians to good works. He was contrasting "faith" with the "works of the law." The just; those who are justified, who are heaven bound, who are children of God; these have the spirit of faith, not "works of the law."
The phrase "from faith to faith" refers to the faith of those of the old covenant of Israel and the faith of those in the new covenant of the gospel. God's plan of salvation is revealed from one to the other. Even in the old covenant it was people's faith which saved them.
(Romans 1:18) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
God judges sinners, those who do not live in faith. Those who live in faith may sin but they will repent and ask God to forgive them. The wrath of God, the condemnation to hell, is for those who reject God, who do not repent when they sin, and who live unholy lives. They reject the truth and live according to the standard of the lie from the powers of darkness.
(Romans 1:19) Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them.
This statement is remarkable. It claims that everyone knows enough to be saved. It seems that if people are aware of the moral side of life and if they strive to be true to what they know to be moral behavior, that they can be saved even if they never hear the gospel. For those who hear the gospel presented in a responsible manner they have the responsibility to consider it and to accept it. (Unfortunately, many so-called "evangelists" are doing great harm to the cause of Christ by preaching a distorted gospel.)
I wrote an article about this topic.
(Romans 1:20) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
People can perceive the invisible world of the spirit. And by noticing the amazing created world around them it is clear that there is a Creator. There is no excuse for anyone. If someone's sin blinds them to the truths of the spiritual and moral realm, then they have damned themselves. If they fail to sense the awesomeness of the created world and instead attribute its existence to mere chance, then they have damned themselves.
(Romans 1:21) Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
In acknowledging that there is a creator we are obligated to worship him. How can someone recognize that God created the world and not have an emotional response?
(Romans 1:22) Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
Paul defines true wisdom. It is not mere intellectual knowledge which rejects spiritual truth; that is foolishness, not wisdom.
(Romans 1:23) And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
Paul is referring to idolatry. Because the people of his day were involved with idolatry, he mentions it. People would sense the spiritual and moral realm but would respond inappropriately. He is mocking them for thinking that worshipping statues of people and animals are a proper response to their spiritual inclinations. If they thought about it they would realize that neither these statues nor the spiritual powers they represent are capable of creating the world.
Protestant anti-Catholicsoften accuse Catholics of being idolaters because they use statues in their devotion. But this is incorrect. Catholics do not worship the statues. Catholics venerate and honor the saints in heaven represented by statues of Saints (including Mary). Catholics worship Jesus who is represented by statues of Jesus. Other physical objects which Catholics use are meant to remind them of certain truths. Using their logic, I could make the claim that these anti-Catholicsworship television because they watch images of people, animals, and other things.
(Romans 1:24) Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Typically in pagan religious practices involving idols, there was sexual immorality as part of their "worship." This illustrates that their so-called spiritual lives were motivated by lust and desire rather than holiness.
(Romans 1:25) Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
They mistake the truth about God, about his nature, and about his work of creating the world. They worship the things God created instead of the one who created them. Their concept of the spiritual life and the spiritual realm is based on a lie, it is untrue.
Paul uses this occasion to pray. Acknowledging God's works in praise is a form of prayer.
(Romans 1:26) For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
Once people reject the spiritual truth which they have perceived and begin to express their devotion and emotion inappropriately, there is nothing to prevent them from falling into grievous sin. Paul gives only one example of grievous sin, the practice of homosexual relations. It is hard to understand how so-called Christians who are practicing homosexuals and who think that homosexual practices are biblical can justify this from the Bible.
(Romans 1:27) And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet [suitable].
Sin causes effects. In verses 29 - 31 Paul lists the bad effects which results from the practice of sin.
(Romans 1:28) And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient [proper];
The only way to become holy and virtuous is to value and desire holiness and a life of virtue. When someone rejects these as values worth living for, they slide into depravity.
(Romans 1:29) Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
I wouldn't want to be best friends with a person who had these attributes.
(Romans 1:30) Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Unfortunately, in our modern culture our heroes and role-models often have these characteristics.
(Romans 1:31) Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
When we do our daily examination of conscience we should refer to various lists of bad behavior to determine whether we have these. If we do we should strive to replace them with the corresponding virtue.
(Romans 1:32) Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
These people know that these personality traits are very undesirable in others but they feel that they are somehow justified in behaving that way themselves.
People are judged by God for their deeds. Even Christians are judged by God based on their deeds. It is not enough to have faith; we must also have good works.
(Romans 2:1) Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
A person who is sinning has no right to judge another who is sinning in the same way. In doing so they are actually judging themselves. The "Our Father" prayer also says this: "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors" (Matthew 6:12).
(Romans 2:2) But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
God will judge truthfully based on his knowledge of the heart of each person.
People are judged by God for their deeds. Even Christians are judged by God based on their deeds. It is not enough to have faith; we must also have good works.
(Romans 2:3) And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
No one who sins grievously can escape God's judgment.
(Romans 2:4) Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
We should be grateful that God forgives our sins when we repent of them. When we love God and see his goodness it should cause us to hate our sins and desire to stop sinning. God is very patient with us and forgives us whenever we come to him with a penitent attitude. People who are committed in their sinful lifestyles do not see this aspect of God.
(Romans 2:5) But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
Wicked people deserve the eternal damnation they receive.
Just as we are to "lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven" (Matthew 6:20) by performing good works and being obedient to Christ's commands, so also wicked deeds are stored up for the day of judgment.
(Romans 2:6) Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
Notice that all people are judged based on their works.
(Romans 2:7) To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
Notice that God judges Christians based on their works done in faith. The typical Protestant teaching that God does not judge Christians for salvation is false.
(Romans 2:8) But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
God judges the wicked with eternal damnation.
(Romans 2:9) Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
The Jews are not exempt from God's judgment.
(Romans 2:10) But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
The new covenant is for Jews and Gentiles.
(Romans 2:11) For there is no respect of persons with God.
God does not show preference to anyone.
(Romans 2:12) For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
Notice that Paul considers the holy law of God, the Old Testament law, to be a means of God's judgment. If the Jews who are under the law sin through disobedience to the law (the spirit and the letter of the law) then the law judges them. God has given them the law as a standard for God's judgment. In the Church we have a similar situation. The moral law of the Church provides a basis for God's judgment of Christians. Those Christians who violate the moral teachings of the Church are judged by these teachings.
(Romans 2:13) (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
Paul has stated many times that it is our works which matter. If we have faith but no works, then we are not justified — this kind of faith is not saving faith. I am surprised that Martin Luther was able to come up with his false doctrine of salvation by faith alone from the book of Romans.
(Romans 2:14) For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
Paul is noticing that the natural law of God is imprinted on everyone's heart and that all are bound by this law.
(Romans 2:15) Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
Even without the Old Testament there is the natural law so that everyone is without excuse. Paul seems to now be continuing his discussion from 1:20.
(Romans 2:16) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
This day is the day of final judgment. When people die they are judged but later at the second coming of Christ this judgment finally results in eternity in heaven or hell.
(Romans 2:17) Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,
Paul is now speaking to Jews. He does this a lot. Apparently there were many Jews dispersed throughout the Roman Empire and some of them converted to Christianity. Some of those, the Judaizers, thought that Christians still needed to obey the Jewish law. The writers of the New Testament spend a lot of time refuting this idea.
Paul remarks that Jews rest in the law, that is, they use the law as a guide for living a holy and righteous life which pleases God. This is a good thing since God's law is holy and good. These Jews know that God is the source of this law and that in following the law in faith they are pleasing God.
(Romans 2:18) And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;
Because God revealed the Old Testament law, the Jews who know the law and are obedient to it also know God if their religious practice is based in faith and not mere ritualistic observances. Unfortunately, this misuse of the law was all too common at the time of Jesus and during the early church.
(Romans 2:19) And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,
Because faithful Jews are representing God and his law, they are a light in a dark world. The Old Testament contains the seeds of the New Testament and the plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. Christians consider the Old Testament to be the inspired, inerrant word of God, and so it is.
(Romans 2:20) An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.
Faithful Jews are able to properly teach of spiritual things.
(Romans 2:21) Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?
Here is the problem. When Jewish leaders and teachers are not themselves living according to the law, this invalidates their ability to teach truthfully. This is not true only for Jews but also for Christians.
(Romans 2:22) Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?
Paul lists two mortal sins — adultery and idolatry.
(Romans 2:23) Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
Paul is exhorting Jewish teachers to live holy lives.
(Romans 2:24) For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.
This is a problem even in the Christianity of today. Unrighteous and corrupt Christian leaders and laity give Christianity a bad name. This prevents some people from considering Christianity.
(Romans 2:25) For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.
The sign of God's covenant with Israel was circumcision. If a circumcised Jew does not live a righteous life, the sign of circumcision had no value. The same is true of Christianity. If a baptized Christian lives a sinful life, their baptism has no eternal value.
(Romans 2:26) Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?
The covenant sign of circumcision only has value when the person lives a righteous, God-honoring life.
(Romans 2:27) And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?
Paul states the same point again.
(Romans 2:28) For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
(Romans 2:29) But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Notice that Paul never states that circumcision is useless. He merely states that the outward sign needs to be accompanied with a righteous lifestyle.
(Romans 3:1) What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?
Paul has been using the Jews as an example for quite a while. To ensure that people don't get the wrong idea and think that Judaism is useless he now begins to defend the Jewish faith and to mention various positive aspects.
(Romans 3:2) Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
The inspired, inerrant Old Testament was entrusted to the Jews. The Jews wrote it and they preserved it.
(Romans 3:3) For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
Paul makes a very important point. How many times have I heard someone say that Christianity must not be valid because particular Christians are sinners. Or that the Catholic Church is not the church that Jesus established because there have been immoral priests, bishops, and popes. Paul refutes this kind of argument. He states that God's truth is true whether or not people obey or disobey it. Christianity is true whether or not Christians are immoral. And true Christianity is true even though there are Christian leaders who teach untrue things including heresy. True Christianity, God's Christianity is true no matter what Christians do or teach.
Catholic claims are not false because there have been immoral Catholic bishops but, rather, because it claims to be infallible but has made provable errors.
(Romans 3:4) God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
God is true no matter what people do. Paul quotes Psalm 51:4. God's judgments of our sins are just. We must judge ourselves based on God's criteria for judgment.
(Romans 3:5) But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)
Paul responds to two ridiculous objections that he has probably heard. The first: Presumably some will think that their unrighteous behavior will trigger God to make a righteous judgment so that, therefore, their unrighteousness is a good thing (since it "triggers" God to judge righteously). The second: How can a loving God judge weak sinners based on his holy standards which are above our means (since we are weak sinners by nature)? Surely God should be merciful and not judge us weak sinners so harshly. But because he does judge us so harshly he, himself, must be unrighteous.
(Romans 3:6) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?
Paul answers the second objection. If God judged us based on our incredibly low standards he would not be able to judge the world at all. He would no longer be a judge at all. There would be no measure of righteousness in the world for us to use to guide us in determining how to behave righteously and morally. Once again we see that God provides the moral standards, the "law" which we must adhere to.
(Romans 3:7) For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?
Paul answers the first objection. If my wickedness gives glory to God then I am not really sinning after all because I am doing something which gives God glory. This is a good thing (so the argument goes). But in reality sin is sin even if it triggers a righteous response from God. Our sin is still sinful. God's righteous actions do not make us sinless, we have to actually be sinless. This refutes the notion among some Protestants that when we are saved our sin is merely covered;that when God looks at us he doesn't see our sin because he sees Christ's righteousness instead. But this is incorrect. God sees our sin. In order to be righteous our sin needs to be cleansed, it needs to be removed. This originally occurs in baptism.
(Romans 3:8) And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.
Paul is plagued by people who willfully misrepresent his teachings. When I converted from Protestantism to Catholicism I noticed that every (I am not exaggerating) teaching of the Catholic Church was misrepresented and distorted by the Protestants I had been listening to.
These critics said that Paul was teaching that, since we have God's grace and forgiveness when we sin, that we can sin all we want. This is a notion that some Protestant groups have. The Catholic teaching (and Paul's teaching) is that we must not sin and when we do we must seek God's forgiveness with a true attitude of contrition. Notice that Paul considers that these critics of his are damned because they are so unconcerned with truth and because of their mortal sin of character defamation.
(Romans 3:9) What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
Paul asks whether Christians are better than Jews (since than Jews sinned).
Paul doesn't consider himself any better than anybody else. We are all in the same predicament. We are sinners and we must all deal with our sins.
(Romans 3:10) As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Paul quotes Psalm 14:3 and 53:3-4. These passages refer to the human condition, that we all have a sin nature which we must contend with. God, of course, provides the solution to this problem.
These passages do not state that there can be no exceptions to the general rule. God redeemed Mary, the mother of Jesus, and took away her sin (including concupiscence) at her conception so she would be a suitable vessel for Jesus (but this was the exception, not the rule). Since the stain of Adam's original sin affects the physical flesh in some way (it is passed on from generation to generation) and since Jesus took his sinless human nature from his mother, Mary, it was appropriate the she be free from the stain of original sin. Jesus mingled his deity with human flesh in some way, thereby making humanity part of God's nature. Jesus is now in heaven as a resurrected human, not merely as a spirit being.
(Romans 3:11) There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
We are deficient even in our ability to seek God for the cure to our sin. But God reaches out to us, he calls us through an act of grace on his part to enliven our spirit to desire God and salvation. We must respond to this call.
(Romans 3:12) They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
In our fallen, sinful state we are useless to God. Those in hell are also useless to God. God desires better things for us.
(Romans 3:13) Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
Paul quotes Psalm 5:9. He is listing sinful practices to illustrate his point that we are sinners.
(Romans 3:14) Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
Paul quotes Psalm 10:7. More sinful practices...
(Romans 3:15) Their feet are swift to shed blood:
Paul quotes from Psalm 59:7-8. More sinful practices...
(Romans 3:16) Destruction and misery are in their ways:
The results of these sinful practices are misery and destruction for the sinner.
(Romans 3:17) And the way of peace have they not known:
Sinners know no peace.
(Romans 3:18) There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Paul quotes from Psalm 36:1. Sinners feel free to sin because they are unconcerned with the afterlife. Either they don't believe there is a God or a place called hell, or else they are simply not concerned with the consequences of their actions.
There is something very interesting about the selection of passages which Paul quotes in Romans 4-18. They are all from the Psalms and each is near the beginning of the Psalm. Likely Paul daily recited various Psalms as part of his devotional practice. The Catholic devotional called the "Liturgy of the Hours" also has an emphasis on the Psalms. People who daily recite the prayers from the Liturgy of the Hours would become very familiar with the Psalms within a few years.
(Romans 3:19) Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
Paul continues with his train of thought from verse 3. He interrupted his flow of ideas to address the topic of why some Jews didn't follow God's law. His conclusion is that there is no fault with God; it is we who are sinners.
In this verse Paul is referring to the Old Testament law which is specifically targeted to Jews who are under the law.
This verse is used by Protestants to support their notion that works have no role in salvation but this doesn't verse can't be used to prove this for 2 reasons:
Notice that "all the world" become guilty before God because the Jews are bound by the law. I suppose Paul is referring to the idea that even though the Gentiles don't have the law as the Jews do, they have the law in their hearts which binds them (2:14). Therefore, if the Jews who disobey the law are guilty before God, then the Gentiles who disobey the law of God in their hearts are also guilty.
(Romans 3:20) Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Paul is referring to the Old Testament law (for Jews) and the law written in our hearts (for Gentiles).
Paul has been referring to those who didn't follow the law of God. He gave many examples of Gentiles who ignored the light which God gave them and fell into depravity. He gave examples of Jews who had the Old Testament law given by God but yet they disobeyed this law and fell into sin.
For those who refuse to obey the law, the law merely points out and judges their sin.
Protestants often use this verse to mean that law is useless and has no role in the plan of salvation. They assume that no one can keep the law. But notice that Paul has so far been neglecting to consider those who are righteous, both Jew and Gentile. He has emphasized those who are disobedient to the law. This should not be taken to mean that no one is capable of being obedient to the law.
Even in 3:9-18 in which Paul emphasizes the point that all are sinners he is not saying that all are hopelessly depraved in all they do, merely that we are all born with original sin which will lead to a wicked and depraved life if we choose to ignore the law which God has given us.
(Romans 3:21) But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Paul provides the answer, the gospel, the good news, of why so many choose to ignore God's law which he gave to all.
Faith is the missing ingredient in all the previous examples of sinners. They did not have faith. They heard God's law and ignored it because they had no faith. Faith requires turning from sin; faith requires choosing to obey God's truth, God's law.
This is a repeat of 1:2. The gospel appears in the Old Testament. Jesus explained this to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:27). Various prophecies and promises in the Old Testament are fulfilled by Jesus and the Church.
The gospel is a new system which is not founded on law but on the saving work of Jesus Christ. By way of contrast, the Old Testament covenant did not focus on a savior (such as Moses) but instead on the righteous law of God. The new covenant still has law, but the focus has shifted to Jesus and the grace of God which enlivens our spirits and allows us to obey the law.
Protestants use this verse to support their notion that works play no role in salvation. But this interpretation has 2 serious side effects:
One solution to this is to assert that the Old Testament Jews were looking forward to salvation from a future Messiah. But I doubt if this was a source of spiritual motivation for most Jews. They were likely focused on the present realities of the sacrifices, feast days, and laws. If God wanted the Jews to end up in heaven he would have to use the law he gave them as the means of grace.
Hebrews 11 provides the answer. In interacting with God and the law he gave them, they were expressing faith in God and in his promises. But notice that this faith always involved works of some sort. Mere intellectual assent is not saving faith.
Therefore, Protestants who claim that works have no role in saving faith are simply mistaken. Our works do play a role in our salvation. The Protestant doctrine of salvation by "faith alone" is false and unbiblical.
(Romans 3:22) Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
The "righteousness of God without the law" is obtained by faith in Jesus. Notice that this righteousness of God is "unto all who believe" and "upon all who believe". Paul is specifically speaking of Christians. He is not addressing the Old Testament Jews.
This new plan of God for salvation, the gospel, is not just for Gentiles, but it is for Jews also. Jews should recognize that the gospel is merely "phase 2" of God's covenant with them. In "phase 1" (the Old Testament covenant) God promised a Messiah; in phase 2 he provides this Messiah, Jesus. In phase 1 God provided sacrifices for the people to atone for their sins; in phase 2 God provides the once-for-all sacrifice, Jesus.
Paul spends a lot of time trying to persuade Jews of this two-phased plan of redemption and that they should accept it in faith as God's will for them. They should become "fulfilled Jews" by accepting the gospel, getting baptized (Acts 2:38), and joining the Church (Acts 2:47).
(Romans 3:23) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Paul is restating his words in 3:10 in which he was making the point that disobedience to God's law is sin and that everyone, Jew and Gentile, have a problem with original sin which inclines them to disobey this law of God. No one is immune to the effects of original sin.
(Romans 3:24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
We are saved by grace. The source of this grace is Jesus Christ.
(Romans 3:25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
The word propitiation means a sacrifice which makes satisfaction for our sins. This reference to sacrifice is based on the Old Testament concept of sacrifice in which sinners brought animals to the priests to have them killed as a sacrifice for their sin. This sacrifice satisfied God's requirement as he specified in the Old Testament law. It was necessary for the sinners to have the proper disposition and to truly repent of their sins; the sacrifice was not a magical external act but required an act of faith by the sinner.
Jesus made such a sacrifice on our behalf so we no longer need to offer up an animal. Now we offer up Jesus as the sacrifice.
The word "forbearance" means that God refrains from judging sinners as guilty by applying the sacrifice of Christ to them. Sinners who in faith accept the sacrifice of Christ for their sins, past, present, and future, are made righteous.
In providing this plan for salvation God is declaring his own righteousness. God is righteous because in his mercy he has provide a means for us to be justified of the effects of our sins.
(Romans 3:26) To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
God is righteous and just. He justifies those who, in faith, accept the sacrifice of Jesus. Paul is not referring to mere intellectual assent.
(Romans 3:27) Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
The plan of salvation comes from God, not from us. We have no right to boast that we are justified for the reason that God provided the plan of salvation and the grace we need to accept this plan through faith.
Salvation is not from following a system of law such as that of the Old Testament. Even for the Jews who were under the Old Testament system of law, they had to follow the law with faith. It is clear from the rebukes of the prophets that a mere external adherence to the law was useless.
Notice that Paul calls faith a "law." Faith is the means by which we are saved. Faith is given by God as a tool for us to use to deal with our sin problem.
(Romans 3:28) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
We are justified by faith, not by our deeds performed under the Old Testament law.
(Romans 3:29) Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
This salvation is not only for Jews but also for Gentiles.
(Romans 3:30) Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
Both Jews and Gentiles are justified by faith.
(Romans 3:31) Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
Paul anticipates that some will interpret his statements to mean that the law of God is now unnecessary.
Paul's basic flow of ideas:
(Romans 4:1) What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
Paul uses Abraham as an example of the proper role of faith and works in the life of righteousness.
(Romans 4:2) For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
Paul is addressing the Jews who had come to believe that we are saved by following the Jewish system of works. He refutes this by referring to Abraham who was not under the Mosaic law because it didn't exist yet.
(Romans 4:3) For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
In believing God's words to him, Abraham was righteous. Abraham always believed God and acted on his words.
(Romans 4:4) Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
Paul gives an example from everyday life. When someone works for us we owe them payment. This payment is not grace but was earned.
(Romans 4:5) But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
If someone receives God's grace without earning it, then they received their righteousness through faith.
Notice that Paul is talking about earning salvation by works. He is not saying that we don't co-operate with God in faith. Just because we participate in receiving God's grace does not mean that we are earning it by our works. In receiving God's grace there is always some sort of "works" involved, for example, we stop sinning or we confess our faith or we ask to be baptized. Saving faith is always accompanied by works, it is not mere intellectual assent to a set of propositions. Until faith is "acted out" it is not saving faith.
(Romans 4:6) Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
Paul now refers to David's words on this topic. Paul is addressing the question, "Are we saved by works only?" The answer is, of course, no — we are saved by fruitful faith which works.
(Romans 4:7) Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
The whole point is to have our sins forgiven.
This verse is used by some Protestants to claim that having our sins forgiven by God does not actually change our hearts; that we are still wicked and depraved, but God merely covers over the sins so that he doesn't have to judge us for them. There are many verses which refute this notion.
(Romans 4:8) Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
We are blessed when our sins are not judged. This occurs if God has forgiven us of our sins. God will only forgive us of our sins if we repent of them and ask him for forgiveness.
(Romans 4:9) Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.
Now Paul addresses the Jewish idea that only the Jews are blessed. Paul refers to the Jews with the term "circumcision" since circumcision is the sign of the Old Testament covenant. He uses Abraham as an example since Abraham lived long before the Mosaic law was given.
(Romans 4:10) How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
The sign of circumcision was given to Abraham. The event of Abraham's faith being credited to him as righteousness occurred before God gave Abraham the sign of circumcision.
(Romans 4:11) And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:
Abraham was the father of Jews. After he proved himself a man of faith, then in response God gave him the sign of circumcision. His descendents who received the law from Moses received the law of faith when they received the sign of circumcision.
Christians are "children of Abraham" in faith. The sign of circumcision is not required for Christians in order to receive the blessings of God. All that is needed is a fruitful faith that works.
(Romans 4:12) And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.
Christianity is for the Jews and the Gentiles.
(Romans 4:13) For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
The promise to Abraham that his descendants would be blessed by God was made to two groups of people: (1) Those to whom God gave the law through Moses, and (2) those who accept Christ's righteousness through faith.
(Romans 4:14) For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:
It is not only the Jews who are to receive the promise of God to Abraham because God made these promises before circumcision was given and before he gave the law to Moses.
(Romans 4:15) Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
Paul now discusses the benefits of law. When we know the law of God we know how to please him. Unfortunately, our sin nature interferes so we fall short. The law in not enough, we also need a way of forgiveness from God when we sin. The Mosaic law included the sacrificial system for this purpose.
Whenever people under God's law transgress his law they incur God's wrath — his judgment based on the conditions of the law. If the law says not to do something and we do it, then God is just in judging us. This is so because God's law is holy.
Before God gave the Mosaic law God could not judge anyone based on the Mosaic law. However, as Paul has already stated in 1:20, all men are under the natural law. When Paul uses the word "law" he is specifically referring to the Mosaic law, not the natural law.
Whenever anyone of any era transgresses the natural law, they are judged by God and receive his wrath. They must repent and ask God for forgiveness. God will forgive them if their contrition is genuine. Paul is not speaking about this interaction with the natural law. He is specifically addressing the Mosaic law. As Christians we are still bound by the natural law. This is why it is improper to say that we are saved by "faith only." Genuine faith will result in fruit and will result in good works. If there is no fruit and if there are no good works there is no faith. There is no faith apart from works. But conversely, works without faith are useless when it comes to our relationship to God. We cannot earn our way to heaven. Our works must be done in faith to be pleasing to God.
(Romans 4:16) Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
Righteousness is obtained through faith, not through the Mosaic law. Even for the Jews who were under the Mosaic law it was their faith which was pleasing to God. They demonstrated their faith by obeying the law and by bringing sacrifices when they sinned. All this was done in the context of their belief in God and their love of him. Later, when their love for God grew cold and they started to practice the law without faith, without any concern for pleasing God, he sent them prophets to exhort them to turn back to God in their hearts. God did not tell them to stop observing the law but to observe it in faith.
(Romans 4:17) (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
Abraham is the father of many nations, the Old Testament Jewish nation and the New Testament Christian nation which is the Church.
We are born in original sin and are spiritually dead. Through our faith God brings us back to life. When we commit mortal sin we die spiritually. Through repentance and confession of our sin (performed in faith) God brings us back to life again.
(Romans 4:18) Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
Abraham believed that he would have a son, an heir of many future nations. He believed God could and would do this even though he and his wife were both past childbearing age. This is the essence of faith; to believe that God can do what he promises to do even when, to us, it appears to be impossible.
(Romans 4:19) And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb:
Abraham ignored the fact of Sarah's and his physical condition.
(Romans 4:20) He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
Well, he did stagger when he had that affair with Hagar. But Paul is not referring to that aspect of Abraham's faith. Yes we sin, but if we repent and ask for forgiveness God forgives.
Living in faith gives glory to God.
(Romans 4:21) And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
Abraham was convinced that God was able to perform what he promised even though there was evidence to the contrary.
(Romans 4:22) And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
This tenacious faith of Abraham was imputed to him for righteousness. Notice that the word "imputed" is used to indicate that when we perform works of faith, God considers us righteous. It does not mean that we are unrighteous and that God merely thinks of us as unrighteous in spite of that. When God considers us righteous we are righteous. It is God's judgment of us as righteous that makes us righteous. It is impossible for us to be unrighteous at the core of our being but to have God think that we are righteous. If God thinks we are righteous it is because we really are righteous.
(Romans 4:23) Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
The example of Abraham is for us to consider and to learn from.
(Romans 4:24) But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
Just as Abraham was righteous because he believed God, just so we are righteous when we believe the gospel. One of the essential facts of the gospel is that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.
(Romans 4:25) Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
Jesus was resurrected from the dead after paying the penalty of God's righteous judgment for our sins.
(Romans 5:1) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Now that our sins are forgiven because of Christ's work, we have peace with God. Before we came to Jesus in faith, we were at enmity with God.
(Romans 5:2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
God wants to shower us with his grace but he can only do so when we come to him in faith. We are saved by grace only, but we must participate to receive God's grace.
(Romans 5:3) And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
Now that we are receiving God's grace through faith, we are happy to receive the trials and persecutions that go along with it.
We learn patience when we endure tribulations.
(Romans 5:4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
We gain experience when we practice patience.
Our hope in the goal of eternal life becomes stronger as we gain experience.
(Romans 5:5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
When we have a strong hope in the goal of eternal life we will not be ashamed when we are ridiculed for our faith.
It is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to love those who ridicule us.
(Romans 5:6) For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
Christ came to earth at the time appointed by God. He died for those who were ungodly and therefore did not deserve to be loved by God.
(Romans 5:7) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
Humans don't have this kind of sacrificial love as Christ exhibited in dying for us. He gave his life for sinners.
(Romans 5:8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
God expressed his love for us while we were sinners by sending his son to die for us.
(Romans 5:9) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
This should give us the confidence to know that in accepting Christ's gift of salvation through faith in him, we will not suffer God's judgment of sin. Paul is not saying that we can now sin with impunity and that God doesn't notice or care. To the contrary, there are many passages in the New Testament which make it clear that by committing mortal sin we will again be subject to God's wrath.
(Romans 5:10) For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
If God loved us when we were sinners, how much more he loves us now that we are redeemed.
(Romans 5:11) And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
Because God first loved us, we now love God.
(Romans 5:12) Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Sin entered the world through the disobedience of Adam. God created Adam and Eve without sin but he allowed Satan to tempt them. When Adam disobeyed God he tainted humanity in some fundamental way. This is original sin. Original sin is passed down from generation to generation. We have original sin from the moment of our conception. Original sin is in some way associated with our fleshly bodies.
Jesus took his fleshly human nature from Mary, his mother. It was therefore proper that she be free from original sin — certainly original sin could not be passed on to Jesus the Redeemer, or Satan would have achieved his goal of conquering God by making God unrighteous. Mary received the same grace that God originally gave to Adam and Eve. Her sinlessness was made possible by her son's sacrifice on the cross for her. When Mary died she received the same blessing that God would have given to Adam and Eve if they had not sinned.
A common objection to the sinlessness of Mary is the speculation that Jesus could have been conceived in a sinful womb since he is sinless and is not tainted by sin. But this ignores the fact the Jesus actually took on human nature from Mary's flesh. Because sin is in some way associated with the flesh, it was fitting and proper for Jesus to take on his human nature from someone who had their original sin removed first.
Another objection is that in order for Mary to be sinless, her mother would have to be sinless. But Mary was granted freedom from original sin by the sacrificial death of Jesus being applied to her at the time of her conception. Just as the Holy Spirit comes upon us at baptism and removes our original sin, he also came upon Mary at her conception and removed her original sin.
The Catholic Church does not teach that it was necessary for Mary to be sinless so that Jesus would be sinless, only that she was graced with sinlessness from her conception and that Jesus did take on her sinless human nature.
(Romans 5:13) (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
Paul is stating that there was sin in the world even before the Mosaic law. God did not judge this sin by the Mosaic law before he gave this law.
Paul is not saying that all these sinners before the Mosaic law were not judged for their sin. They certainly were judged for their sin. But they were judged by the natural law, not by the Mosaic law. I need to stress that when Paul uses the word "law" he is referring to the Mosaic law. Protestants typically interpret the word "law" to mean "works" but this is not how Paul uses the word "law." This is clear because there are many passages in which Paul states that our works matter, that we can lose our salvation by sinning (which involves works, doing things), that God judges even Christians by their works, that we must strive in order to achieve the goal (faith requires fruit and works).
(Romans 5:14) Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
Those who lived before Moses were living under original sin. The consequence of original sin is that it leads to eternal damnation for those who do not repent of this sin.
Only Adam (and Eve) disobeyed God's original command. Note that this command of God to Adam and Eve was the first "law" which God expected to be obeyed. Disobedience of this law resulted in eternal damnation. Presumably Adam and Eve repented after this and God forgave them of this sin, of this disobedience to his law.
(Romans 5:15) But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
Adam's transgression resulted in original sin for many (to all). Christ's sacrifice on the cross resulted in the offer of God's grace to many (to all). Christ's sacrifice is the antidote to the effects of Adam's sin, but in order for the antidote to work we must believe that it will work and take it. If we don't believe the antidote will work we will not take it.
(Romans 5:16) And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
Christ's one sacrifice is sufficient to pay the price for all the sins of all people of all time.
(Romans 5:17) For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
One sin by one man, Adam, brought original sin to the human race. One act of sacrifice by one man, Jesus, brought salvation to those who believe to the human race.
(Romans 5:18) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
Original sin came by disobedience to God's law by Adam. Salvation came by obedience to God's law by Jesus. Note that the issue of sin and salvation concerns obedience, or works. It is what we do that makes us a sinner and it is what we do that saves us. These works of obedience must be accompanied by faith to be effective. Works without faith are dead works (they don't provide salvation), just as faith without works is dead faith (James 2:17), it doesn't provide salvation because it is not really faith but is mere intellectual assent.
(Romans 5:19) For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Sin entered the world by a transgression of the law of God (not the natural law and not the Mosaic law but the direct command of God). Christ's obedience to the law of God (God commanded Jesus to perform his sacrifice) brought redemption.
(Romans 5:20) Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
When God gave the Mosaic law to the Jews, they were now bound to follow this law. They were now bound both to the natural law and to the Mosaic law. Their opportunity to transgress God's law increased. But God also provided in the Mosaic law the sacrificial system for the forgiveness of sins. God was willing to forgive the sins of the Jews provided they exercised their faith by being faithful to God and desiring to please him. This meant that they had to offer up sacrifices for their sins.
(Romans 5:21) That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
The New Covenant is phase two of the Old Covenant. The higher standard of the Mosaic law is meant to apply to Christians. Christians are under the moral law of the Christian faith which has much higher standards than the Mosaic law. For example, it is not enough that we don't murder, we can not even be angry. It is not enough that we don't commit adultery, we are not to lust. But God provides forgiveness for our sin through the righteous sacrifice of Jesus. We become righteous when we receive forgiveness from God through the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf. There must be a sacrifice for sin and Jesus provided himself as that sacrifice.
(Romans 6:1) What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
Paul now addresses objections and ridiculous false conclusions that some will raise to his arguments. Presumably he has heard people address these arguments and he includes them in his letter.
Paul already addressed this argument in 3:5. Apparently there are people who are looking for any excuse to sin. This reminds me of certain homosexual Christians who claim that the Bible does not oppose homosexuality.
(Romans 6:2) God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Paul clarifies this point. When we are in Christ we should not be sinning.
(Romans 6:3) Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Our entrance into Christ is through baptism. Baptism is not a mere act of obedience but it is a sacrament as the Catholic Church teaches.
I sometimes hear Protestant anti-Catholicsobject to the Catholic use of the crucifix. They say that we should be focusing on Jesus's resurrection. Certainly the resurrection is important but this verse emphasizes the importance of Jesus's sacrificial death.
(Romans 6:4) Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Through baptism we die to sin and are raised with Christ to new life. We are to walk in this new life. Walking is a work.
(Romans 6:5) For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
One day we will also be resurrected.
(Romans 6:6) Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
(Romans 6:7) For he that is dead is freed from sin.
We are dead to sin because we are alive in Christ. Once we are in Christ we should not sin anymore.
(Romans 6:8) Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
Now that we are in Christ we can live our lives with the righteousness of God.
(Romans 6:9) Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
Christ has conquered death. Jesus, in taking on human nature, conquered death through his resurrection.
(Romans 6:10) For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
Jesus has redeemed human nature.
(Romans 6:11) Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Our fallen sin-tainted human nature has been redeemed by Christ.
(Romans 6:12) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
We are not to sin.
(Romans 6:13) Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
We can choose to avoid sin. We are to use our bodies to serve God.
(Romans 6:14) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
Sin no longer rules over us. Paul refers back to the idea that the Jews under the law were convicted of their sin by the law. When they compared their actions with the commands of the law they could see that they were sinning. But as Christians we should be guided by our properly-formed conscience.
We are saved by grace. Salvation is a free gift from God.
(Romans 6:15) What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
Another foolish objection. Many of these objections deal with people who think it is OK for them to sin. Paul's answer is that we should not sin. The gospel does not provide a license for us to sin.
(Romans 6:16) Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
We are to obey righteousness. We are not to obey the temptations to sin. We are to be obedient to Christ's commands. In so doing we will be righteous. When we sin we are not righteous. If we commit mortal sins we can lose our salvation.
(Romans 6:17) But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
Notice that our obedience to Christ's commands must be from the heart.
Paul emphasizes that doctrine matters. Some Christians try to de-emphasize doctrine or claim that we don't need to think about doctrine. But sound doctrine provides the basis for our life of faith.
(Romans 6:18) Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
In becoming a Christian we were freed from sin. We are not to sin.
(Romans 6:19) I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
The reason Paul emphasizes the topic that we are not to sin is because we have a natural tendency to sin (concupiscence) due to the weakness of the flesh. But we are not to be slaves to this form of human weakness any longer. Instead we are to live holy lives and to live out the virtues.
(Romans 6:20) For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
In receiving salvation from Christ we are no longer slaves to our sinful nature. Before then we were not free to live righteousness. Some Protestants teach that we are not really free from sin but, rather, that we are still totally depraved to the core of our being. They teach that we are merely considered as righteous in the eyes of God. This extended passage refutes that false notion. We truly are freed from sin and we are to live holy, righteous, and sin-free lives. This is made possible by God's grace.
(Romans 6:21) What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
We should be ashamed of our past sins. Those past sins committed before salvation were the cause of our spiritual death.
(Romans 6:22) But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
The goal is heaven, everlasting life.
(Romans 6:23) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sin leads to death. We have entered into the kingdom of God through faith in Christ.
(Romans 7:1) Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
This verse clearly demonstrates that Paul is using the word "law" to refer to the Mosaic law. He is speaking to those who know the law, to Jews. He calls them brothers and sisters.
The Jews were bound to the Mosaic law for life.
A few observations about what issue Paul is addressing with his lengthy discussion about law:
What does the word "law" refer to? A few observations:
(Romans 7:2) For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
In the Jewish law marriage is for life (Matthew 19:7-9). A spouse is only released from the marriage contract by the death of the other.
(Romans 7:3) So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
The Catholic Church teaches that remarriage after divorce is adultery unless the former spouse dies.
(Romans 7:4) Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
Our commitment to Christ is permanent, just as the commitment of married couples is permanent. In becoming a Christian we are to exhibit fruit (good works). We are no longer under the law which exposes our sins but instead we seek to obey Christ and to please him with our life of faith (which includes good works).
(Romans 7:5) For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
Paul is contrasting our attempts at pleasing God by our good works with our desire to please God through faith. By faith we acknowledge that we have original sin and call out to God to save us from the separation from him which results from original sin. After addressing the problem of original sin, in our day to day lives, when we sin we again call out to God in faith for him to restore us to fellowship with him. This requires repentance.
(Romans 7:6) But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
Notice that Paul says that we should have proper behavior, not that we will have proper behavior. When our behavior is not proper, when we sin, we must repent and seek God for forgiveness in order to be restored to full fellowship with him.
(Romans 7:7) What shall we say then? is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
This verse provides more evidence that Paul uses the word "law" to refer to the Mosaic law. He specifically refers to one of the ten commandments as an example of a law.
It is the Mosaic law which demonstrated to the Jews what God's standards of behavior are. This Mosaic law was true and Holy. Catholic moral theology teaches that we are to obey our well-formed consciences, that we are to form our consciences so that they are in line with Catholic teaching. Once we have done that we have the freedom to act in accordance with our conscience. I think that Paul is objecting to those Jews who teach that we are to follow the letter of the law, that the law is an external set of rules which we must follow. Paul seems to be contrasting that external use of law with the internal formation of conscience.
(Romans 7:8) But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
Notice that it is concupiscence which causes Paul to sin, not the law. Concupiscence is the tendency and desire to sin which results from original sin. Concupiscence remains even after baptism. The law helps Paul in dealing with sin because it magnifies the effects of concupiscence. The law keeps him from sweeping his sin under the carpet.
The only moral standard that people had before the Mosaic law was the natural law. The moral standards of these people were very low. Because they didn't have the Mosaic law, they didn't know God's standards. In this sense "sin was dead". They could not compare their inclinations and behaviors with the dictates of the law and therefore they did not notice that they were sinning.
Concupiscence is the desire to sin.
When God introduced the Mosaic law to the Jews the moral standard was raised significantly. In this sense "sin became alive". Once they knew God's standards they were conscious of sin. Non-Jews didn't have the advantage of having the Mosaic law.
(Romans 7:9) For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
Paul states that he was once without law. I wonder if he is referring to humans in general and not himself personally, but perhaps he is referring to the age of reason in which a person becomes aware of the moral law. When young children do the outrageous things they do they are often unaware that these actions are not good. Their parents need to train them proper behavior and attitudes. Their conscience is formed by their parents. Once these children grow old enough to understand moral and spiritual things they become aware that these actions are sinful and they are now under the bondage of sin. Through their knowledge of the rules of God's moral law they become sinners. Now they must deal with the sin problem.
(Romans 7:10) And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.
The purpose of the Mosaic law was to increase the righteousness of the Israelites so they could have a closer relationship with God. Unfortunately, over the history of the Jewish nation, they disobeyed. At the time of Jewish the Jewish leaders had instituted a works-based version of the Mosaic law which is not what God intended.
When a person judges his deeds by the law, his sin is revealed. The purpose of the law is to bring us to life by revealing our sin. Presumably we will deal with this sin by repenting from it.
(Romans 7:11) For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.
Notice that it is the sin which leads to death, not the law. The law is good. It results in death because it reveals the sin which was there all along.
(Romans 7:12) Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
The definitive statement that the Mosaic law (and the natural law) is holy, just, and good. It is sin which is the problem, not the law. It is the misuse of the law through faith-less legalism which is the problem, not the law.
(Romans 7:13) Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
It is not the commandment that causes death, rather, it is our choice to disobey the commandment that causes death.
(Romans 7:14) For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
The sin problem results from us being carnal. If we were truly spiritual we would follow the law perfectly.
(Romans 7:15) For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
There is a contradiction between the desires of our spirit and the desires of the flesh. The flesh is tainted by original sin. Even when original sin is removed by baptism, the flesh is still affected by concupiscence.
Jesus took his human nature from Mary. This is why God caused her to be free from original sin including concupiscence. Otherwise, Jesus would have inherited original sin.
(Romans 7:16) If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
The law is good because it provides a trustworthy standard of behavior. Notice that Paul is referring to his deeds, his actions, his works. In sinning we violate the law. Since sinful behavior is a violation of the law, and since sin is bad, the conclusion is that the law is good. If we never violated the law we would not sin. If we never sinned, we would never violate the law. Thus, the law provides a trustworthy guide about what is and what isn't sin. The law shows us the mind and heart of God.
The problem with the law is when we attempt to follow the law as an end in itself. Our object in following the law should be to please God. This is the source of Paul's seeming objections to the law. It is not that there is a problem with the law but that there is a problem with our attitude towards the law, if we use the law as a replacement for God.
The other extreme is just as problematic. That is when we think that the law doesn't matter to God, that God looks at our so-called faith without any reference to whether this faith results in good works. But faith without works is dead (James 2:17). This is the problem with some forms of Protestant doctrine. In attempting to address the error of seeking to please God by our works rather then by living a life of faith, some Protestants teach that our works don't matter to God — that even with dreadfully sinful lives God will still save us.
(Romans 7:17) Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Paul indicates that there is a sense in which we all have a split-personality. I am reminded of the image of a person pondering whether or not to do some sinful deed and there is an angel on each shoulder whispering in his ear. The good angel counsels him to not do the deed and the bad angel tries to tempt him into committing the sin. We should follow the Spirit which always desires that we follow God's law.
(Romans 7:18) For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Concupiscence is the desire to sin. We all have it even after the stain of original sin is removed during baptism. We must resist the tug of concupiscence to do evil. If we don't and if our indulgence in sin becomes serious enough it can cause us to lose our salvation.
(Romans 7:19) For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Paul notices that he doesn't always make the right choice. Therefore, God has provided a way for us to again get right with him. We are not to simply ignore our transgressions. Notice that Paul is very troubled by these transgressions. A true lover of God will seek to restore his broken fellowship.
Not all sin leads to spiritual death, to eternal damnation (1 John 5:16-17). But there are serious sins (mortal sins) which do lead to death. But even smaller sins (venial sins) impair our relationship with God.
(Romans 7:20) Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Sin is the source of the problem. Sin is merely behavior (deeds, works) which are displeasing to God, which violate God's holy law. It is when we choose to sin that the problem begins. But we are tempted to sin and must resist the temptations.
(Romans 7:21) I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
Paul notices that the law and the sin are opposites. Sin is a violation of the law.
(Romans 7:22) For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
Paul's inward, Spirit-filled soul desires to please God, to follow God's holy law.
(Romans 7:23) But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Concupiscence is continually tempting us to sin, even when we know in our minds that such unlawful deeds are sinful and unpleasing to God. When we sin we become captive to sin and in so doing, we displease God.
(Romans 7:24) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
The struggles of the sinner should result in calling out to God for deliverance from sin.
(Romans 7:25) I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
This verse provides the key to Paul's very long discussion about law. The flesh which is tainted by original sin needs God's holy law to force it to behave righteously. We are to put God's law into our minds, into our conscience. The mind thus formed is to rule over the body so that the body no longer acts upon its sinful inclinations.
Notice that Paul is not against law. He merely wants us to put this law into our minds were it can be effective. If we don't have God's law strongly centered in our minds we will not be effective at resisting the sinful urges of the body.
(Romans 8:1) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Paul uses the term "spirit" to refer to the process of forming our conscience with God's law and then freely following the dictates of our conscience. When we know the ways of God we can freely choose to act in a way that pleases him. The Spirit of God should be our guide.
(Romans 8:2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
Paul is clearly referring to a new kind of law, a law which resides in our conscience and which guides us. The contents of this law is really no different that the Mosaic law. It is how we use the law that is different. We are to put the law inside us and let it work from within rather than think of it as an external thing which we must obey.
By way of illustration, consider traffic laws. One law is that we are to stop and wait when the light is red. If we are observing this in the letter of the law, we will always stop when the light is red even when there are no cars coming. A "new" law might be that we are to avoid collisions at intersections. Then we would be free to not stop if there were no other cars around. This new law reflects the spirit of the law. Of course, with traffic laws we don't have this luxury of living in the "spirit of the law" but with morality this is possible.
The commandment to not murder is a good law. We should not murder. But if our motive is to avoid murdering someone we have missed the point. The point is that we are to love one another and we would never murder someone we loved. The law of the Spirit is love. This law of the Spirit implicitly includes the commandment to not murder. I think this is Paul's basic point in discussing law. If we are merely trying to obey external rules without the internal desire to love God and each other, we will never quite get it right and we will always be violating these external rules. But when we are committed to the larger purpose, to God's law of love, we will not even need to be concerned with the rules of the law. In truly loving God and neighbor we will automatically follow the external law as well.
Apparently the Mosaic law was being practiced in the New Testament era in a very external manner. It is this mentality which Paul is objecting to. This attitude must have been very deep-seated because Paul goes to great lengths to try to explain what is wrong with it.
(Romans 8:3) For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
Without Jesus's work of redeeming human nature there is little hope that we can become Spirit-filled. The best we could ever hope for is to struggle to follow God's holy law. But now that Jesus has redeemed human nature, the Spirit can work within us. It is now possible to please God without merely trying to obey his laws. But in pleasing God by living in the Spirit, a side-effect is that we will keep God's holy laws. But it is the Spirit working within which provides the energy and motivation, not the external focus on the law.
(Romans 8:4) That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
God's good and holy law provides the standard by which our behavior (deeds, works) are judged. When we obey God's law we are judged to be righteous. This is the essence of the Spirit-filled life. It is not manifestations of the Spirit which are the thing which pleases God, but righteous actions in conformity with God's holy law. This law includes love of neighbor, works of mercy, etc.
(Romans 8:5) For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
When we are Spirit-filled we will exhibit the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). These fruits of the Spirit are all the various virtues which we should strive to habitually practice.
(Romans 8:6) For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Paul contrasts the Spirit-filled life with a carnal life. The Spirit-filled life is one in which the person strives to live virtuously, to please God, to obey the commands of Jesus. The carnal life is one in which the person follows the lusts of the flesh and disobeys God's holy law — it is a life of sin. A life of sin results in eternal damnation. Notice that Paul is speaking to Christians. Thus, it is possible for a Christian to lose their salvation by living a carnal life.
(Romans 8:7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
When we sin we express our hatred for God. This is what Lucifer did when he rebelled. The only way we can express our love for God is to be faithful to him.
By way of example: Someone who is married does not express love for their spouse by doing and saying hurtful things. They express their love by practicing virtue.
It seems like I have mentioned works, deeds, and law very many times in my comments on the book of Romans. But I am compelled to because Paul does. He speaks of law in verse after verse of chapter after chapter.
(Romans 8:8) So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
When we habitually sin we displease God. Do people really think that they will end up in heaven if they displease God?
(Romans 8:9) But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Why is Paul admonishing them to live a Spirit-filled life? Presumably so that those who are living a carnal life will change their ways, and so that those who are living a Spirit-filled life will continue to do so.
(Romans 8:10) And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Christians must remain sinless. If we act on the urges and desires of concupiscence we are carnal. Paul is contrasting the Spirit with the dead body. When we obey the dictates of the Spirit, we please God, we are righteous. When we sin we are spiritually dead.
Just as Jesus died in his body in order to provide the cure for sin, just so we have to die to our sin in order to receive the gift of salvation. We must obey the dictates of the Spirit of God by resisting temptation and the promptings of concupiscence. Paul is using the term "body" to refer to that aspect of our being which contains concupiscence. He is using the term "body" as he used the term "flesh" (Romans 7:5).
(Romans 8:11) But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
In order to be saved from our sin we must receive the Spirit of God into our being. Our original sin is removed when this occurs.
(Romans 8:12) Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
Paul is speaking about a person who has received the Spirit of God, someone who is saved. Yet these people apparently can live according to the flesh.
(Romans 8:13) For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
If a Christian who was saved lives according to the flesh, they lose their salvation. Thus we are not saved by works only but we can lose our salvation by works only. The life of faith requires works.
Living a life of faith requires mortification of the body. We must in some sense suffer by resisting the temptations to perform unlawful actions. And we must develop virtue by practicing virtuous actions. Being a faithful Christian is not a passive vocation.
(Romans 8:14) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
In order to be a son (child) of God we must be led by the Spirit. If we are led by the Spirit we will do and say things which are pleasing to God. We will respond to God's inner promptings. A Christian who is not led by the Spirit is not a son (child) of God.
Many Protestants teach that you cannot lose your salvation. Yet they also teach that we should live lives which are pleasing to God. Paul agrees that we should live lives which are pleasing to God but he also indicates that we are no longer sons (children) of God if we are not led by the Spirit of God.
(Romans 8:15) For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
What are these people afraid of? They are afraid of God's judgment (or at least they should be). As believers we are adopted into the family of God and we have intimacy with God. We can call out to him at any time.
(Romans 8:16) The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
Being a child of God is not merely a legal designation; we are actually changed. The Holy Spirit inhabits us.
(Romans 8:17) And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
As children of God we will some day be glorified with Christ. We will one day be given a glorified body just as Christ has.
Notice that we are to suffer with Christ. There are Christians who believe and teach that Christians are to be free from suffering. This passage states otherwise.
We live in a world full of suffering. There is hardship, sickness, and persecution for our faith. In enduring the various trials we are in actuality suffering with Christ. The Catholic Church has such a concept of redemptive suffering. We can offer our suffering up to God as a form of prayer. As we suffer we can meditate on Christ's suffering and thus become united to him in his suffering.
(Romans 8:18) For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
We will suffer in this life as Christians, sometimes as a result of our witness for the faith, sometimes just because of sickness, hardship, and struggles. But we should keep our minds fixed on the goal which is heaven. This will help us to endure the sufferings.
(Romans 8:19) For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
One day we will see our brothers and sisters in Christ in heaven.
(Romans 8:20) For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
It was God's plan that humans be buffeted by trials and hardships in this world. Without God our lives have no significance — they are in vain. We are to put our hope in God and look forward to a glorious future.
(Romans 8:21) Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
We shall one day be delivered from the bondage of being plagued by sin and concupiscence and from having to endure evil all around us. As children of God we will one day experience freedom from this world and experience the glorious beatific vision of God. We will be freed from the troubles and limitations of this world.
(Romans 8:22) For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
The whole world was created to be in a state of continual struggle: animals eat each other, sometimes it is too cold, sometimes too hot. God did not create this world free from struggle, it is very much a world of struggle at its very core.
(Romans 8:23) And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
As we struggle here on earth we groan in agony as we wait for the release we will finally receive in heaven.
Paul says that the Christians of his day have the firstfruits of the Spirit. I assume he knew that there would be generations and generations of Christians to come which would also receive the Spirit of God.
(Romans 8:24) For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
We hope for the glorious day in which we are freed from the bondage to this sinful and corrupt world. We don't see the future glory but we hope for it in faith. In faith we long for that day.
(Romans 8:25) But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
Paul is defining faith. Faith is when we know something to be true even though we don't see it now. Hope and faith are connected. When we have faith we will also have hope.
(Romans 8:26) Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
As we groan under our own sufferings and when empathizing in the sufferings of others, the Spirit understands our heartfelt desires and these groanings themselves become a form of prayer. We don't need to verbalize all of our concerns for God to hear them. Not all prayer is to be vocalized.
Some Charismatics use this verse to support their notion that we should speak in tongues and groan as part of our public prayer. This seems farfetched to me. It seems to me that Paul is discussing the human condition of struggles and suffering and that he is comforting us with the knowledge that God understands our dilemma. God listens to the cries and groans of our spirit and accepts them as a form of prayer. This is how we can pray without ceasing.
(Romans 8:27) And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
The Holy Spirit searches our minds and hearts. He knows our struggles, pain, and heartfelt desires. He intercedes for us based on God's will.
(Romans 8:28) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
All the various experiences and circumstances of life work out for the good. God uses all the painful and difficult trials of our lives for his good purpose.
Notice that God is only able to do such work for those who love him. For someone who hates God and ends up in hell forever, God is not able to work out things for their good. We must cooperate with God in order for him to fully bless us as he wishes.
Notice that those who are saved are referred to as the "called." God calls everyone but those who reject his promptings are not referred to as called. This verse does not say that God only calls certain people for salvation. There are many passages that refute this.
(Romans 8:29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
God knew from before he created us whether we would respond to the promptings of his grace. There is a sense in which God is in control of all aspects of our lives, even our free choice decisions. When someone freely chooses to reject God, there is a sense in which God predestined that situation. But this kind of predestination does not mean that the person never had a chance to choose. They had as much grace and as much opportunity as anybody else.
For example, there is a sense in which God predestined that a third of the angels would follow Lucifer in his rebellion. But these angels made a completely free will choice. God foreknew that they would choose this way. Their free will decision to reject God resulted in an outcome which affected all of humanity. Because God gave these angels free will to reject God, there is a sense in which God predestined that we would live in this world of sin and evil today. God did not predestine whether a particular angel rejected him but because he foreknew the outcome, God predestined that this choice would affect us today and would provide the backdrop for our lives today.
For those who choose to follow and obey God, they are predestined to become like Christ. Christ is the firstborn among many brothers because we who accept him become like him. We do not become God but we receive a glorified body just as he has. This is all a gift of God from his grace.
(Romans 8:30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
God predestined that he would grace all people who respond favorably to his prompting with salvation. Those who actually responded to his call are the ones referred to by the phrase "whom he did predestinate." God's predestination does not mean that God only predestined that certain people would respond to his call. It means that only certain people choose to respond to his call.
Those who respond to God's call are referred to as the "called" or the "chosen." This does not mean that God only called certain people for salvation and that he did not call others. Certainly no one can be saved unless God calls them and graces them. But for some unexplainable reason, some reject God's grace and his call. Those who do reject God's call are referred to by the phrase "not called."
Those who accept God's grace and accept his call are justified, saved. They end up in heaven. The word justified refers to salvation. Many Protestants use the term justification to refer only to the instant in time in which a person first accepted Christ. The Catholic view is that justification occurs throughout our whole lives. We must be in a state of justification at death in order to enter heaven.
Those who are justified, saved, will ultimately receive a glorified body and enter heaven.
(Romans 8:31) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
When we are plugged-in to God's plan for salvation we have nothing to fear, we will achieve the goal. This is not to say that we will be immune to troubles and struggles. But no matter what someone does to us, we still belong to God and he will redeem us.
(Romans 8:32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
Since God went to all the trouble to offer up his own son as a sacrifice to redeem us, surely he will apply his plan of salvation to us. We can count on it. This gift of salvation is a free gift of God. He desires that all are saved.
(Romans 8:33) Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
No one can accuse God's elect, those who are saved, with any accusation which will nullify God's commitment to our salvation. Once we are saved by faith in God's plan for our redemption, there is nothing anyone can do to us or say about us that will affect our salvation.
(Romans 8:34) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
If someone condemns us we should remind them that Christ paid the price for any wrongdoing on our part.
Jesus is in heaven where he intercedes for us.
(Romans 8:35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
No matter what happens to us we are still a child of God. Notice that Paul does not say that we will be free from these unpleasant conditions, but merely that they do not affect our salvation.
Some of the unpleasant conditions that Paul mentions are caused by other people, some are not. We are not promised guaranteed health and wealth by the Bible.
(Romans 8:36) As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
This is a quotation from Psalm 44:22. It refers to the suffering of righteous people. These people are suffering through no fault of their own and God allows it to happen.
(Romans 8:37) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
As Christians these hardships and sufferings do not affect our eternal salvation. Because God desires our salvation and because he has paid the price, there is now nothing external to ourselves which can take it away. The only thing that can take away our salvation is our own mortal sin.
(Romans 8:38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Paul lists the many things which are external to us which cannot take our salvation from us.
(Romans 8:39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
No external situation can take away our salvation. These two verses (vss. 38-39) do not say that we can't lose our salvation. There are plenty of New Testament verses which clearly state that we can lose our salvation.
(Romans 9:1) I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,
Paul wants his audience to understand that this point is absolutely true.
(Romans 9:2) That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.
Paul is troubled when he considers his brethren, the Jews, and the condition of their souls.
(Romans 9:3) For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:
Paul wishes that he could suffer in the place of his Jewish brothers and sisters. Some interpret this verse to mean that Paul wishes he could go to hell in their place. I reject that interpretation.
Just as Jesus was cursed by being crucified on our behalf, so Paul wishes that God would use his suffering for the benefit of his Jewish brothers and sisters. This is the Catholic idea of redemptive suffering; that God can use our suffering for the good of others just as he used Christ's suffering for our good.
(Romans 9:4) Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
Paul lists aspects of the Old Testament nation of Israel. They were chosen by God. They were adopted by God. They were given the glory of God. Presumably Paul is referring to the various miraculous manifestations of God at Sinai and in the history of Israel, as well as the glory of God which resided over the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant. God gave the Mosaic law and the 10 commandments to the Israelites. God provided for the priestly service and the priesthood. God promised various things to the nation of Israel.
Paul considers these Israelites to be his kinsmen according to the flesh; that is to say that he is Jewish.
(Romans 9:5) Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
The fathers of faith referred to in Hebrews chapter 11 are the fathers of the Jews.
Christ came to earth in the incarnation to save the Jews.
Paul worships Jesus.
(Romans 9:6) Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
Paul now addresses the topic of whether the promises to the Israelites apply to every person who descended from the patriarch named Israel, the father of 12 tribes. He is going to demonstrate that not all descendants of Israel are the "true" Israel.
Some might object that God went back on his promises because they don't seem to be fulfilled. Paul addresses this by identifying those who are the recipients of God's promises.
(Romans 9:7) Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
Not all the descendants of Abraham were given the promises of God to Abraham. Abraham had a son, Isaac, who was the son of promise. His son Ishmael was not the recipient of these promises.
(Romans 9:8) That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
The sons of Ishmael were not the children of God. To be a child of God, a member of God's chosen nation of Israel, one had to be a descendant of Isaac. The promise was made to the seed of Abraham, to those descendants of Isaac. Isaac was the promised seed of Abraham and Ishmael was not.
(Romans 9:9) For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.
The promise of God to Abraham is that he will have a son with Sarah. The nation of Israel will be formed from descendants of this son, Isaac.
(Romans 9:10) And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;
The promise of God to create the nation Israel is not to all descendants of Isaac. Only one son of Isaac would be the ancestor of the nation of Israel.
(Romans 9:11) (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
God chose who would be the ancestor of his chosen nation of Israel with no possibility for that person to earn the right through their deeds. The choice was totally God's. God "elected" or "chose" or "called" Jacob to be the father of his chosen nation.
(Romans 9:12) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
Jacob was chosen by God before he was born to be the ancestor of the nation of Israel. Notice that God's chosen people is a nation of those who are in the same family tree. Jacob was the younger of the two twins of Rebecca. Normally the elder son is granted the privileges, but God chooses the younger and informs Rebecca before the twins are born.
(Romans 9:13) As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
God loved both Jacob and Esau. In referring to hating Esau, Paul is referring to the fact that Esau forfeited his birthright. This hatred of God refers to the fact that he did not give the birthright to Esau because of Esau's unworthiness to receive it because he didn't value it.
(Romans 9:14) What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
God was not unrighteous in choosing Jacob over Esau. It seems that Paul often has to defend God's honor when discussing various historical events. He must be surrounded by skeptics and critics who are all too willing to cast God in a bad light. This is still true even today. But God's actions are always supremely righteous and just.
(Romans 9:15) For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
God has mercy and compassion for those who are not worthy of it. It is always righteous and loving when God chooses to exercise his mercy and compassion. But God is also righteous when he chooses to justly judge those who sin.
(Romans 9:16) So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.
We can't force God to be merciful to us through our actions or our efforts. God freely bestows his mercy as a grace upon those he chooses. But God always shows mercy to those who call out to him in repentance for their sins.
(Romans 9:17) For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
Paul refers to Pharaoh to demonstrate that he can even use a hard-hearted ruler as the means by which he shows mercy to his chosen people. God desires that all know God and worship him. He intervenes in human history in ways that demonstrate that he exists and that he is worthy of our praise and worship.
(Romans 9:18) Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
God hardened Pharaoh's heart after Pharaoh hardened his own heart. God judges us in response to our free-will choice to accept or reject his grace.
(Romans 9:19) Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
Paul again defends God's honor. The objection is that God has no right to judge us for doing evil since he is sovereign in everything; since he is in control of everything; since he pulls all the strings; and that we are merely puppets. The objection is that if we choose to have a hard heart it is because God hardened our heart and therefore God has no right to judge us for this hardness of heart.
(Romans 9:20) Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
Paul answers this objection in a very clever manner. The critics object to God's judgment of sinners because, they say, "God made us sin." These critics are pretending that they honor God's sovereignty over us. But if they really honored God in this way then they would have no reason to object to whatever choices God made, after all, God is God and he can do whatever he chooses. If he chooses to harden someone's heart and then send them to hell for having a hard heart, who can object? The criticism of these critics of God is inconsistent and if they followed their argument to its logical conclusion they should not have any cause to judge God negatively for his actions.
Needless to say, God is not really like this. He is not unjust and unloving.
(Romans 9:21) Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
If God has the power to harden someone's heart, then shouldn't God also have the power and right to choose whether or not someone should be saved or not? Paul is turning the objection of these critics on its head. Of course, God doesn't really create anyone for hell. He desires that all be saved. If someone ends up in hell it is because they willingly choose it instead of heaven.
(Romans 9:22) What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
God is just and he judges sin. God is holy so he must judge sin. This righteous judgment of sin is called "God's wrath." Notice that God is very patient with those who end up judged for their sins and who end up in hell. This verse does not say that God intended that certain people end up in hell. God wishes that all would choose heaven.
(Romans 9:23) And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
When people accept God's mercy and forgiveness of their sins, they can be called "vessels of God's mercy." In God's plan for redemption, he allowed for the possibility that some would choose to reject his mercy but that others would choose to accept it. God established his plan of redemption knowing that some would reject it and that some would accept it. God knew this from the beginning and allowed the possibility that some would reject his mercy. But he also knew that some would accept his offer of mercy and he prepared a glorious destiny for those.
(Romans 9:24) Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
It is the redeemed Christians who are the ones who have this glorious future in the presence of God for all eternity. Both Jews and Gentiles, everybody, have access to this glory if they receive the gospel, repent of their sins, and accept God's forgiveness.
(Romans 9:25) As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.
At the time when Paul wrote the letter to the Romans, neither the Jews nor the Gentiles deserved to be called children of God based on their lifestyles. This is not to say that there were none who were righteous because there were many righteous (e.g. Acts 10:22). But the cultures of the day at large were wicked and depraved. This is still true today. Our "modern" culture is getting worse but I suspect that it is not yet as bad as the culture in Paul's day.
(Romans 9:26) And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.
God is able to raise up righteous people from a corrupt society. Paul quotes from Hosea 1:10. God is speaking through Hosea to the people of Israel and is promising that he will raise them up again as a righteous people. He does this through the Church.
(Romans 9:27) Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:
Paul quotes from Isaiah 10:22-23.
(Romans 10:1) Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
Paul's desire for the Jews is that they would be saved.
(Romans 10:2) For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
The Jews are religiously zealous, but they do not have correct knowledge. Paul is referring to the Jewish religious culture of his day. The religious leaders have turned Judaism into a works-based religious system.
(Romans 10:3) For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
The Jews are not living a faith-filled life but are attempting to earn their salvation through their works.
(Romans 10:4) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
The salvation through Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, is the natural development of God's plan of salvation which started with the Jews. When we seek righteousness through obedience to the law of Christ, we rest in Christ; our spiritual quest is over; we have entered into God's family. We still need to busy ourselves with prayer, works of mercy and charity, and virtuous living.
(Romans 10:5) For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
Paul quotes from Leviticus 18:5. The passage in Leviticus states that to be saved the Israelites were to walk in God's statues, ordinances, and judgments. In other words, they were to follow the law. Paul refers to this as the righteousness of the law. Paul is saying that we are to do the same things if we want eternal life.
(Romans 10:6) But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 30:12-14. In the passage from Deuteronomy, Moses is making the point that the commandments of God, the law of God, is readily available to the people. This command is the law which they have heard from Moses. All they need to do is accept it in faith and live it. In quoting this passage from Deuteronomy, Paul is equating the doing of the word of God (Deuteronomy 30:14) with the righteousness of faith. The Old Testament Israelites were saved by faith when they heard God's law, God's word, believed it, and lived it. Christians are saved by faith when we hear the gospel, believe it, repent from our sins, accept Christ as savior, and obey his commandments. Thus, those in Old Testament times and those in the Church are saved in the same way. This is called "faith" but it includes repentance from sin and a fruitful life (deeds, works).
(Romans 10:7) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
We already have Christ's teaching. Paul's commentary on these two verses (in parentheses) indicates that Christ is the Word of God. In the passage from Deuteronomy 30:12-14 Moses is talking about the word of God. Paul equates this Word of God with Christ. This Word of God became flesh in the person (the God-man) of Jesus.
(Romans 10:8) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
The saving Word of God is the gospel which Paul preaches. Notice that this Word of God includes living a fruitful life. One who doesn't live a fruitful life is not saved.
(Romans 10:9) That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Jesus is the Word of God. We must confess this with our mouth and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead in order to be saved. From the very earliest times of the Church, a person was baptized (see Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38) in order to become a Christian; in order to enter the kingdom of God and ultimately, heaven. The rite of baptism included (and in the Catholic Church still includes) the following aspects:
(Romans 10:10) For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
We must believe and confess. Confession (profession) is a work. If we only believe, we are not saved. We must also do the works of righteousness.
(Romans 10:11) For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Paul quotes from Isaiah 28:16. Probably there were some who were considering becoming a Christian but they were afraid of what their peers, friends, and family would think. But we should choose to be rejected by these rather than to be rejected by God.
(Romans 10:12) For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
Paul stresses that both Jews and Gentiles can be saved. We must call upon God to be saved.
(Romans 10:13) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
To be saved we must call upon the name of the Lord. This doesn't say that we only have to do this one time. We need to call upon the Lord for our entire lives to be saved. If we quit calling on the name of the Lord we might not be saved anymore.
(Romans 10:14) How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
Paul describes the normal way of receiving salvation through the Church. This is not to say that people who don't have the benefit of all these steps will end up in hell. God will judge everyone based on how they responded to the grace they were given. But this is the normal way.
(Romans 10:15) And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
Who sends these preachers to preach? At the time Paul wrote this there was only one choice possible: The bishops sent the preachers. Paul was sent to preach by the bishops who laid hands on him and sent him off (Acts 13:3). Certainly God would not send a preacher who is from a heretical or schismatic group, yet throughout history there have been many in this category who send themselves (and others) to go out and preach a false or distorted "gospel." Unfortunately, the Protestant reformation was such a schismatic and divisive movement. The "saved by faith alone" message of Protestant evangelists is a distorted gospel (James 2:24).
People who are not sent by God to preach the gospel should not preach it. People who distort the gospel message are certainly not sent by God to preach a distorted, untrue message.
(Romans 10:16) But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
Hearing the gospel is not enough, it must be obeyed. Obedience requires doing things, it is a work.
(Romans 10:17) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Paul condenses this process of salvation into the beginning and ending steps: (1) First we hear, (2) Then we have faith. If we don't hear the Word of God, how can we have faith in it? This is not to say that people who don't hear the gospel preached don't hear the Word of God. As Paul made clear in the early chapters of his letter, God informs everyone through the dictates of their conscience about important aspects of the salvation message. But now Paul is discussing the normal way of becoming saved through the Church.
(Romans 10:18) But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
Paul quotes Psalm 19:4. The context of this passage is that "the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork." Whether or not someone hears the gospel preached, they still have knowledge from God sufficient for them to act upon.
(Romans 10:19) But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
Paul quotes Deuteronomy 32:21. Because Israel neglected to follow God's commandments and laws, he chose a new nation to reach out to — the Church of Christ.
(Romans 10:20) But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
Paul quotes from Isaiah 65:1. God has provided salvation to a people (the Gentiles) who had no desire for the truth. Certainly there were a few Gentiles who converted to Judaism but the non-Jewish world had little interest in the things which God revealed through his chosen people, the Jews.
(Romans 10:21) But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
God desired that his people, the Jews, would return to him. He sent prophets and various judgments to get their attention. By the time of Jesus, the nation of Israel was for the most part a works-based religion (although there were many devout Jews in spite of this).
(Romans 11:1) I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
Paul defends the Jews. Just because God turned to the Gentiles and provided salvation to them does not mean the he has rejected his people, the Jews. God never rejected the Jews. Even the judgments upon the Jews was performed by God out of love for them, so that they would return to him.
Paul proclaims his own Jewishness. He was a Benjamite and therefore, a descendant of Abraham.
(Romans 11:2) God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,
Paul states that God has not rejected his chosen people, the Jews. Notice that God foreknew these people. The only reason the nation of Israel came into being was because God made it so through many miraculous events. God did not choose Israel because he foreknew that they would become the nation of Israel; rather, God foreknew that they would become the nation of Israel because he chose it and intervened in human affairs to make it happen. Yet none of the people involved were forced into acting as they did — they all made free-will choices. God is very good at persuading people to perform the actions that he wills for them. Yet God is not always successful at this. If he were, no one would end up in hell including the angels. There are certain times in history when conditions are ripe and when people are ready to be persuaded by God to perform the actions that he wills for them. The mother of Jesus was one such person. She was willing to say yes to God (through the angel Gabriel) and to become the mother of the Messiah. Protestants often make light of Mary's choice but a little reflection will make clear how this was a heroic act of faith on her part.
(Romans 11:3) Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.
Paul quotes from 1 Kings 19:10,14,18 in which Elijah claims that he is the only true Israelite left.
(Romans 11:4) But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
Even though Elijah did not know there were others who were faithful to God, there were many who were.
(Romans 11:5) Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
Paul refers to the Christians as the remnant of Israel. God elected that the Messiah would come to earth and provide for our salvation. This was totally an act of grace on the part of God. No one merited that God do this.
(Romans 11:14) If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
Paul wishes that the Jews would recognize the salvation now present in the Church and that many would convert to Christianity. Paul refers to the Jews as those who are of his flesh.
(Romans 16:17) Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
Paul is very concerned that those who teach false doctrine not be allowed to influence Christians.
Paul's Gospel | The Faith of the Christians in Rome | Preaching the Gospel | No Excuse | Depravity of Sin | God Judges Sin | Jews and Gentiles | Jews — the Good and Bad | A Foolish Objection (Is God righteous since his chosen people failed?) | A Foolish Objection (Is God unrighteous to judge us since he is merciful?) | All are Sinners | Paul's Conclusion | The Solution to the Sin Problem | The Law is not Void | Justified by Faith, not by Works Only | Grace vs. Works | Is salvation only for the Jews? | Abraham's Faith | Abraham's Example of Faith | Peace through Christ | The Theology of Suffering | Christ's Selfless Sacrifice | The Cause and Cure of Original Sin | Grace | A Foolish Objection (Shall we sin to give God an opportunity to show Grace?) | Baptism Remits Sin | We Should Not Sin | A Foolish Objection (Shall we sin since we are not judged by Law; since God is merciful?) | Whose Servant Are We? | Delivered from the Law | A Foolish Objection (Is the Law sin since it results in judgment?) | A Foolish Objection (The good law does not kill me; my sin does) | We are not condemned | Spirit-led vs. Carnal | Present Suffering and the Hope of Future Glory | The Spirit Helps Us | God's Providence | God is for us: None can separate us from God | Paul's Concern for his Brethren, the Jews | True Israel | A Foolish Objection (Is God Unrighteous?) | God's Plan for the Gentiles | The Remnant of Israel | Not Salvation by Works Only | Salvation for all by Faith | Israel Rejected God's Call | Divisions |