THE BOOK OF ROMANS
Chapter 1, The Introduction and The Study
The good news - and the bad news

J. Deering, AncientPath.net


THE BOOK OF ROMANS
The Summary Outline


The Book of Romans

  1. INTRODUCTION: The Introductive Sentences, 1:1-15

  2. THE TRUTH: Concerning Man Apart from the Grace of God, 1:16-2:29

    1. The Power of God, 1:16-32

      1. 1:16-17, Unto Salvation

      2. 1:18, Unrighteousness, the Suppression of the Truth

      3. 1:19, God is Evident to Mankind

      4. 1:20-23. The Lost Person is Without Excuse

        1. 1:20, God's Invisible Attributes are Clearly Seen

        2. 1:21, The Lost Person Does Not Honor God as God

        3. 1:22, The Lost Person is a Fool

        4. 1:23, The Lost Person is an Idolater

      5. 1:24, God gave the Lost Person Over for Dishonor

      6. 1:25, The Lost Person Exchanges Truth for a Lie

      7. 1:26-27, Homosexuality as the Sign of the Lost Person

      8. 1:28-31, The Characteristics of the Lost Person

      9. 1:32, The Lost Person Flees from God to Unrighteousness

    2. The Predicament of The Lost, 2:1-4

      1. 2:1a, There is No Excuse for Judging Each Other

      2. 2:1b, Judging Another Produces Condemnation for You

      3. 2:1c, Being Condemned You Condemn Others

      4. 2:2-4, God's Purpose is The Lost Person's Repentance

        1. 2:3, Acting as a Judge Does Not Prevent Condemnation

        2. 2:4, The Lost Person has forgotten God – God Leads to Repentance

    3. The Judgment of God, 2:5-11

      1. 2:5, Ignorance is only Temporary Bliss

      2. 2:6-8, The Impartiality of God

        1. 2:7, 10, To the Righteous, Good

        2. 2:8, 9, To the Unrighteous, Wrath

      3. 2:11, There Is No Partiality With God

    4. The Equality Found In Christ, 2:12-29

      1. 2:12, All will be Judged, without Partiality

      2. 2:13-2:25, Doers of The Law, Not Hearers

        1. 2:13-16,

          1. 2:13, Jews Live by Their Laws

          2. 2:14, Gentiles Live by Their Laws

          3. 2:15-16, God Will Judge the Secrets of People's Hearts

        2. b. 2:7-25, Who's Law Do Your Keep and Why?

          1. 2:17-20, Who the Jew Should Be

          2. 2:21-23, Condemnation Based on the Heart

          3. 2:24, Proof of Unrighteousness

          4. 2:25, Transgressions Yield Unrighteousness,

      3. 2:26-29, The Keeper of the Law is the One Who Keeps the Law Because He Wants To, his Praise is From God.


THE BOOK OF ROMANS
THE STUDY
Chapter 1:1-15


 

(1:1)
Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus,
 called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,

Paul begins his letter with an introduction to himself. After he names himself as the writer he enters into a six verse parenthetical address concerning His Apostleship.

He speaks of himself first as a servant of Jesus Christ. Later in this book, and in his other writings, we find Paul further identifying his servant-hood as one of the "bond servant." This is the exalted position of a former slave who has been set free but continues in his position of "slave" to his master out of love and respect – even though a freeman. He is always aware of his "now free" relationship to Jesus Christ and takes every opportunity to express the worthiness of the one he serves. Paul, once in the bonds of sin, once a persecutor of The Lord Jesus Christ and His church, but now a "called" apostle of the Master Himself.

Paul also speaks of himself as a "called apostle." He is not a man who is called an apostle, he is a man who has been called, in his case, directly by The Lord Jesus Christ into service as "an apostle."

The Twelve apostles of the Gospels were all called to their ministries by Jesus Christ right out of the ministry of John the Baptist. They had all walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus, and experienced His miracles. They were all Jews serving in special capacity as apostles to Jesus Christ. When Judas died another was appointed. It was important that the number remain twelve. There are twelve tribes in the nation of Israel that came out of the twelve sons of Abraham. When God handed Moses the Law it contained repeated directions that the number of twelve was to be incorporated into the Altar to God through columns, chargers, spoons, bowls, and the largest of the animal sacrifices were to be in sets of twelve – specifically to remember the twelve tribes of the Children of God. And so it goes throughout the Old Testament, the number twelve represents the tribes and their leadership.

In the New Testament Jesus calls the twelve apostles to serve him. In Matthew 10:5-6, Jesus give them their charge to go unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel – they are not to go into the world at that time. Peter questions Jesus in Matthew 19, "We have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?" Jesus replies, "Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

So you see, the twelve Gospel apostles have a particular ministry in the future – that of sitting upon twelve thrones and judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

But what about the church, what about the Gentiles who come to faith. They have Paul (and Paul calls Barnabas and apostle as well) for their apostles. They have been called after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. Their ministry is to us who come after.

(1:2-3)
which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,

The second half of Chapter 1:1 is the introduction to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, often called the Gospel of God.

Paul states that it is God the Father who had promised in the past, through the Prophets writing the Holy Scriptures in the Old Testament, of this Gospel "Of The Good News of God." This good news concerns God's Son, Jesus Christ, who according to the scriptures was born of the seed of David, and born in the flesh.

(1:4)
who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,

In verse four Paul says that Jesus Christ was declared to be "The Son Of God." His Deity was made clear by His ability to raise people from the dead. It was Jesus, and no one else – ever, who raised dead people back to life. There was Lazarus (John 11:1-44), Jairus' daughter (Mt 9:18-19), and the widow's son (Luke 7:11-17). His own resurrection from the dead was clear evidence of who He was after His own death.

The Gospel contains not only good news but also the plan of God to create a new body of people who have been called to it called the assembly of called-out ones. We call that body "The church of Jesus Christ," "The Bride of Christ," and other names. This is new information being revealed. The Body of Christ – concealed in the Old Testament and revealed in the New Testament. Most, if not all, who studied the Old Testament before the death of Jesus, missed an important matter – that not only was the Jew offered a premier position before God, but all those who, by simple faith, would believe would also hold a premier position, but a different one.

God's promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was to make them a great people who would bless THE WHOLE WORLD. Isaiah wrote (Isaiah 9) concerning the Gentiles that a son would be given and a child born – not only to the Jew, but to the whole world, and that Son would be God in the flesh, Jesus Christ.

In later chapters Paul will make this connection between the Jew and the Gentile even more clear when Paul reminds his readers that Abraham, the "Father of the Jews," was not himself a Jew. Until Abraham had Isaac there were no acceptable offspring to become the first Jews. The Jew is a member of the Gentiles (a member of the Nations), but he has a special relationship to the Father because His love of their physical father, Abraham.

(1:5-6)
through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name's sake, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;

In verse five Paul lays claim to his and Barnabas' apostleship in the matter of bringing the Faith to the gentiles to resurrected Lord Jesus. Paul certifies that the grace of God flows in this matter directly from Him.

The Obedience of Faith is mentioned here. God sees all those who choose not to believe upon His son as disobedient. He sees all those who choose to believe upon His son as obedient. He has done everything to make the way straight for every man, woman, and child to recognize God for who He is and give Him the glory by believing upon His Son as a matter of faith. Paul sees his ministry of bringing the Gospel that Gentiles may be saved, as a matter of obedience – for him in the bringing and for them in the matter of believing.

At the end of this verse he reminds the members of the Roman assembly that they also have come by the calling of Jesus Christ and that they also have come out of the nations who were not Jews.

In verses one we are introduced to Paul.

Verses 1b through 6 form an ellipsis (a statement that is complete in itself, but is not about the original thought – a parenthetical expression, a thought enclosed in parenthesis – like this!)

In this parenthetical expression we are introduced to the Gospel of God (verses one and two). In three and four – things concerning Jesus Christ, then in five and six things concerning the gentiles. All this has happened between, "Paul," and "to all who are beloved."

Verse seven is in two parts but is the content of the salutation of the letter. What a wonderful way to begin. "To all who are beloved of God in Rome called as saints." The original carries with it the sense of "called as Holy." This is a "positional truth." That's a true statement that is about you but you don't experience it. The saints (every one who believes in Jesus Christ) become saints the same way Paul became an apostle – by Divine calling. You are not a saint because you act like one. You are a saint because, based upon your faith, He proclaimed you a saint. You are holy; you are set apart; you are a saint because He said so.

The second half of this verse is like a blessing upon the assembly at Rome. "Grace and Peace from God: our Father and The Lord Jesus Christ." This is a common expression of Paul's love for those to whom he ministers. The blessing of grace, the "much more" flowing of favor and family relationship to God.

He is a good God and He gives good gifts. Then there is peace. We often speak of the peace of God "that passes all understanding," but what about peace with God? Is not that one of the greatest blessings you can have. Always, at every moment, during every trial, during every situation, you are always the benefactor of having peace with God. How awesome is that? Those without Christ are without that peace with God. He will war with them until they submit to "the obedience of faith," or until they die without ever submitting to His love.

(1:7-8)
to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.

The next five verses (1:8-12) move into a discussion of The Love of God. Paul first lets the Romans know of his thankfulness for their evangelistic fervor.

It is important to note here that he is also teaching us the proper way to express thanksgiving – always through Jesus Christ to God the Father. That is the only acceptable way. That is the point of what God has done – given His son as a sacrifice on behalf on those who would believe. So when you want to thank God – thank Him through His Son. Let God know that you "get it." Let God know that because of His Son you have the opportunity to be thankful.

Paul says he is thankful for them. He's thankful for them because they are actively promoting Jesus Christ God's Son. He says that "the whole world" has heard of their faith. I take this as hyperbole (a writing technique to emphasize something by making it seem larger than it really is). Hyperbole is not a lie; it is an acceptable technique that we all use every day to communicate. "I've told you a million times not to lie," goes the old phrase. It is an amusing way to instruct a child not to lie. Certainly the small church in Rome had not reached out to the whole known world with the Gospel – but they certainly did their part and in many places Paul heard of their faith.

James says that faith without works is a dead faith. Here we have evidence of the opposite – a true evidence of saving faith. The Romans worked at their faith, shared their faith, and could show the results of their faith. This was no matter of the past, for the text here indicates that the proclamation of their faith throughout the whole world was in the present tense; "I thank my God… because your faith is presently being proclaimed…."

(1:9)
For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you,

In verse nine Paul's attention is again drawn to "the Gospel of His Son." That Gospel is not The Law, nor is it a New Law. It is neither a code of ethics nor a set of morals. It is not a creed or a religion, and it is certainly not just "good advice."

John Calvin wrote about the Gospel: "A divinely given message concerning a divine person, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, our Lord. True man and very God. He is a resurrected dead person, He resurrected dead people back to life, He is blessed, worthy of all worship and praise, adorable, now and forever more."

Now that's all available to you through His death, to you upon placing your faith in him – becoming justified in every way before the righteous demands of Almighty God.

C.I. Scofield said, "All the world is found guilty, and a redemption is revealed as wide as the need, upon the alone condition of faith."

(1:10)
always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you.

In verse ten Paul lets the Roman know how much he cares for them by telling them how many times he has desired to come and visit them.
This is a good place to talk a little about the way God deals with prayer. God only answers prayer according to His almighty knowledge, wisdom, and will.

He has told you to pray, that's your responsibility. He has promised to answer prayer – but never promised to satisfy your wants, your desires, or even your need. He answers prayer based upon His wisdom and will. Sometimes the answer to a prayer is yes, sometimes no, sometimes not now. Sometimes that answer seems to contradict what we think he wants most. Paul thought he should be allowed to visit the Romans – but God's wisdom needed him for other ministry somewhere else. The process is that He asks you to pray – pray for and about everything. That develops a lasting strong bond of fellowship between you and Him. That also requires you to understand that He answers every prayer, but the answer is according to His wisdom and will, not yours.

He has something ultimately better – but you may not think so now.

(1:11)
For
 
I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established;

In this section Paul, in the process of letting the Romans know of his desire to visit them, brings up one of the most misunderstood areas of normal Christian life – that of the Spiritual gifts.

He begins by telling them that he longs to see them with the purpose of imparting the knowledge of the Spiritual gifts upon them. There is nothing mystical in the knowledge and use of the Spiritual gifts. They are simply the enablement of God's Holy Spirit in the lives of believers to the building up of the body of Christ. They are not miraculous powers granted to a few to make them more important, they are God enabled ministries given to every individual and usually given in abundance. No believer is without them, every believer is the recipient of them.

He uses a Greek word that is translated "impart" that carries with it the sense of giving a share of something that you don't originate. Paul is saying that I am sharing these gifts but they don't come from me, they are the enabling power of God's Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.

Paul makes a point of telling them that these gifts that the Holy Spirit gives are for the purpose of establishing them in their faith. Often we see evidences within the Christian community of those who think that the gifts of the Spirit are for the building up of the one with the gift. But, nothing could be further from the truth. The gifts are given to every individual for the purpose of giving the ministry results of that gift away to other members of the Body of Christ, building them up. That which the Holy Spirit has given me, I give to Bob (and the rest of the body). The gifts that Bob has received are used to benefit Sally (and the rest of the body). Sally's ministry benefits me (and the rest of the body). The individual gifts of the Holy Spirit of God are for the purpose of building up the body – not for the building up of the individual who has received that gift.

In 1 Corinthians Chapters 12-14 Paul writes concerning the problems that the immature Corinthians church faced with their misunderstanding of these Spiritual gifts. They were seeking and using these precious gifts as instruments of self aggrandizement. "Look at the gift the Spirit has given to me," "I have something you don't," "I have something better than you," "If you don't have this gift - you just don't belong!" How distorted was that way of thinking about these precious gifts. Christianity is all about servanthood, not about self. The upper room event teaches that Christ did not come to show off His knowledge, His great spirituality, and His great power. He came instead to wash men's dirty feet. The Holy Spirit of God as given these gifts to men to serve men and women with dirty feet through them.

Paul is saying that you can only become established through the ministry of God's Holy Spirit through the gifts he gives others. This is the establishment in faith through mutual encouragement. In 1 Corinthians 13:12 Paul says that seeing these principles in this life is like seeing through a darkened piece of glass. Everything here is just a reflection of the wonder and fullness of the presence of God. These gifts that we see as evidences of His gifts to us are but a glimmer of the way we will serve each other in the heavenlies for eternity.

We also need to consider the differences in the roles of the Spiritual gifts given to the Apostles and those remaining in the church following them. It should be obvious that special enablements and powers would be needed to get Christianity up on its feet and running in the early life of the church. It is confusing for some when they read of the miraculous things that the Apostles did in the early church. Why don't we see that kind of gifts and power exercised today? An analysis of those areas of scripture where these wonders are performed should lead us to certain conclusions about these events.

We could start with the miraculous events in the life of Jesus; the healings, the raising of people from the dead, the feeding of the 5000 from a simple meal, etc. "Who is this man?" everyone said. The answer came back, "we know you are from God, for who else can do these things?" Miracles and signs are for the authentication of either the messenger or the message. Yes the one who gets healed benefits, but the importance is placed upon the one who did the healing, or the message of that person. A second question we could ask is "who requires a sign in order to believe?" It is the Jew who requires a sign from God. In the Gospels it is the Jew who is being sought for repentance to their God and belief in His Son. It isn't until the last chapters of the Gospels that the ministry of going into all the world is announced – after the Jews have rejected Jesus and His kingdom offers to them.

Take this knowledge into the book of Acts and see the Apostolic use of Spiritual gifts there. Mostly Jews seeing and witnessing the signs and miracles of the Apostles – authenticating their office and their message. "These men come from God," is their testimony.

Alongside the Apostolic authentication gifts God's Holy Spirit has given Spiritual gifts to every believer for the building up of the Body of Christ. When the Apostles ceased – the Apostolic authentication gifts ceased, but the gifts to the Body continue. If you haven't got new revelation, direct from God, then you won't have any need for an authentication gift. But the Body of Christ is still in the process of growing and expanding. It has real need of the Spiritual gifts of body enablement.

(1:12)
that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine.

This is why Paul sought to come to the Romans, in order to teach them about the body gifts to that they might be established as the Body of Christ in Rome.

Paul says "together with you." three Greek words combine to make up this one expression; Sum which means "very," Par(a) which means "alongside," and Kalleo, which means "called." Very Alongside Called – that's how Paul felt about being with the Romans for the purpose of the mutual building up of each other's faith. My faith encourages you, your faith encourages me, round and round, for the establishment of faith.

(1:13-15)
I do not want you to be unaware,
 
brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to  barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, for my part, I am eager to  preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

These verses were written to show Paul's love for the Body of Christ in Rome. He had made many plans to visit them, but something more important always came up. How often we see God's will as a hindrance. This is what I want, but God won't let me have it. Back at verse ten we talked about the wisdom of God and His methods of answering prayer. In our home we love to say "It's not about you, It's not about me, It's about Him!" It's clear from Paul report that God was producing fruit among the Romans, as well as other Gentile churches, without his physical presence. God needed Paul elsewhere.

A word here about "fruit." There is only one kind of fruit that brings a beautiful aroma to the nostrils of God, the fruit of His Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. Galatians 5:22 tells us that the "fruit" that is the result of the Holy Spirit of God's ministry in the life of believers is: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control. Do you have these? In your activities do you show forth this fruit, or is it all about you, and what you want?

Paul felt that his ministry was an obligation. That, in no way, should have a negative connotation to us. His obligation was to serve. I had a dear old friend who was a Scot. Instead of saying "thank you," as is our American way, he always said, "Much obliged." Because of a gracious act, because of his love for those he walked with – he felt "much obliged." What a picture of Paul's obligation.

The ministry that God had given to Paul was given directly by Jesus Christ Himself. Paul was to be the "apostle to the Gentiles," (those who were not Jews). Amongst the Gentile world there were many nations. Some considered wise, like the Greeks, some considered foreigners, barbarians (those who speak like barking dogs), and some foolish. But Paul says, for my part… "I am eager to preach the Gospel," and I am eager to preach the Gospel to you at Rome.

One final not on this section, we should be ever conscious that the Gospel is not just the message of salvation. Paul was not saying that he should come and continue to preach salvation to the Body of Christ at Rome. He should come and teach the whole gospel of God – the whole Good News of this new life In Christ. Jesus said, "Come unto me, for my burden light, and my yoke is easy." Not a comment just to get saved, but a comment upon the entire Christian experience and life.


II. THE TRUTH: Concerning Man Apart from the Grace of God, 1:16-2:29
A. The Power of God, 1:16-32
1. 1:16-17, Unto Salvation

"Faith alone secures the perpetuity of Life" ( John Calvin)

(
1:16)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Paul introduces this statement with the preposition "for" which refers back to the presentation of the Gospel. He states "I am not ashamed of the gospel." His first fifteen verses should make it clear that it is his office and calling to present the gospel to the Gentiles - and he is not ashamed of this calling. It is, after all, the "Power of God for Salvation." Paul continues his declaration, reaffirming his specific office and calling to the Gentiles with the remainder of this sentence: "to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." The message of God's purpose under the new covenant is that there is a new economy established by the Blood of Christ, and that economy is based on ALL may look to God's salvation to become a part of this new body of believers. No longer is the good news of God administered by the Jew alone, it is now the offering of the Son of God directly to ALL who would Believe.

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

Paul further delineates the offering of the Gospel. In the Gospel of Christ the righteousness of God is revealed. Paul's argument throughout the book of Romans is how the Righteousness of God is demonstrated through the process of offering His salvation to not only the Jew but the Greek, Pagan, Gentile, Barbarian, etc.

Faith, and its transmission, are at the very center of Salvation in Christ. Paul uses the reference to Habakkuk 2:4 (again in Galatians 3:11; and Hebrews 10:38) as the core reminder that those who live without faith, and demand proofs of all things, do not live in a world where their God would have any power or abilities beyond the natural and physical. There would be no righteousness in a world that was controlled by man. The unrighteousness of mankind is demonstrated at every turn of events. Dr. Mae Stewart (Prof. Philosophy) of Philadelphia Biblical University has said, "I would not want to live in a world where God could be proved by finite beings" (personal interview, Philadelphia College of Bible, 1974). No, it is by FAITH that we live.

How could God justly weigh the intentions of the individual in actions of "faith" if the individual could know and prove Him. It is by Faith that we live as we demonstrate our love for Him, His Son, and His Holy Spirit. That is how we truly "Believe!" "The righteous man shall live by faith," dawn to dawn, dusk to dusk, a continuous cycle, faith to righteousness to faith to righteousness, etc.

Christ is here offered - by faith - whose proper office is to save that which is lost, and those who refuse to be saved by Him, shall find Him their judge." (John Calvin)

1:18-32 The Guild of the Gentiles
1:18, Unrighteousness, the Suppression of the Truth


(1:18)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

More delineation as Paul reveals what God's position is towards those who do not choose to live by faith. Throughout Paul's writings he refers to those who believe as "obedient," and those who refuse to believe as "disobedient." That disobedience is the primary dividing line for faith and righteousness and God's wrath is "revealed from Heaven" against the unrighteousness of disobedience and disbelief.

Even worse is the spread of such non-faith doctrines and unrighteousness teachings from the mouths of men and women. God's wrath burns against them! Their words, actions, and teachings suppress the truth of God.

But, God desires the hearts of men and women. However men and women without Christ find themselves in the position of having desperately wicked hearts (and lives) and God finds that an unacceptable situation. God has made the way for desperately wicked hearts to find forgiveness and faith through Grace. And it matters not whether you are Jew or Gentile - an important distinction during the years the body of Christ (the Church) was coming into being. Christianity was born with the Life, Death, and Resurrection of a Jew - Jesus Christ. The first assemblies of believers were of Jewish heritage. God, post-resurrection, revealed that a new body of believers was to gather and become "His bride." That body of believers was to come from all humanity, not just from the Jews. Paul is writing to the assembly at Rome revealing and defending this new body of believers. He is making sure that they understand that those who are against God's will in this matter - men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness - have the wrath of God burning against them.

1:19, God is Evident to Mankind

(1:19)
because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

Paul indicates that there is NO EXCUSE for not believing God, or believing in Jesus Christ. No one can be excused from the demands of God for obedience to Him. Every functioning human being has the capacity to understand that God exists and therefore everything else is secondary in importance.

"God made it evident to them." This statement is in the simple past - for every person - God has made the existence of God evident. There is therefore no excuse. Those who claim to be Atheist who get up in the morning and get dressed - are living as if there was a God holding the universe together. They are living a lie. And so are all those who deny Almighty God - living a lie. Natural revelation is enough to condemn the one who declares "there is no god." Even the natural mathematical Fibonacci patterns in so many plants, animals, and physics demonstrate the existence of a plan - and thus a planner (Leonardo Pisano Bigollo c. 1170-1250).

1:20-23. The Lost Person is Without Excuse
1:20, God's Invisible Attributes are Clearly Seen

(1:20)
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

What does God think you can discern from Natural revelation? Look at this list - His creation, His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and His divine nature. These things are clearly evident - so much so that the world is without excuse in coming to these conclusion based only upon nature.

1:21, The Lost Person Does Not Honor God as God

(1:21)
For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Paul focuses on those who should have clearly seen - but didn't. Those who choose disobedience over faith. Even though they knew God (Gk knowing based upon relationship - from the root word of Gnosko (know like you know your mother, not know like you know 2+2) they choose to dishonor God by not honoring Him as God. They choose rather to speculate - what if there were no God - instead with the result that their hearts were darkened.

1:22, The Lost Person is a Fool

(1:22)
Professing to be wise, they became fools,

The Old Testament declares the state of the one who does not believe in God - It calls them "Fools" (Psalm 14:1), or how about "Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good (Psalm 53:1). The Old Testament contains hundreds of references to fools and the foolish. In almost every case their foolhardiness comes from acting as if there were not God.

1:23, The Lost Person is an Idolater

(1:23)
and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

This darkness has resulted in godless mankind inventing all kinds of idols (images) - physical symbols of their godless minds. Over the centuries they have taken all kinds of shapes - man gods, bird gods, animal gods, serpent gods, etc., etc., etc.

God gave man the image and likeness of himself at creation. We all seek "religion" but the many see their religion without the One True Almighty God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of the Scriptures.

1:24, God gave the Lost Person Over for Dishonor

(1:24)
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.

With the result that their intentional self-sought disobedience resulted in God "giving them over" to their natural inclinations. They desire to do that which is natural, and not that which God desires (supernatural). And since man's heart is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) that resulted in the lust of their hearts leading to impurity with their minds, hearts, mouths, and bodies. These things bring great dishonor to the doer.

1:25, The Lost Person Exchanges Truth for a Lie

(1:25)
For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Paul says the end result is that these "natural" based men and women willingly exchanged the truth of god for a lie, resulting in service to the created thing (images, idols) rather than service to Almighty God.

While some could ask the question, "Why didn't God make them righteous?" And God replies to us that we are the culmination of creation, we are intelligent, we are sentient, we are powerful, we have wills - it is our responsibility, knowing of Him through revelation, to seek and serve Him - according to His revealed word.

1:26-27, Homosexuality as the symbol of the Lost Person

(1:26)
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, (1:27)
and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

Paul uses homosexuality - a culturally iconic immoral issue - as representative of where the natural inclinations of men's and women's hearts leads them. This is not the place or time for an extended treaty on this problem, but is does bring to our attention that hearts and minds that are exclusively set upon satisfying self lead to self indulgent activities. The inclusion of active homosexuality as immoral has its basis that heart which seeks to satisfy it's flesh with same flesh. God's program was to find complete satisfaction in Him alone - with the help of an opposite sex partner. God's pattern is the ultimate joining of "The Bride of Christ" with Himself in the marriage union. He set this type to reflect His character and the essence of His ways. Homosexuality at its worst (sex for sex's own sake, sex with minors, etc.,) is so abhorrent to the general population that it is easy to see society and government acting to bring penalty for such activities.

God created us to have fellowship with Him - to love and enjoy Him forever. We are also blessed with loved ones and friends. When our affections and desires find their satisfaction in Him we find ultimate satisfaction in life. When we seek satisfaction without Him our lives become disconnected with ultimate satisfaction, we seek deeper and deeper forms of self satisfaction, until we reach that place where we become so offensive that even society seeks to bring penalty for our actions.

1:28-31, The Characteristics of the Lost Person

(1:28)
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,

So, while homosexuality become the symbol of the depraved godless mind, Paul now lists a lengthy list of activities that are the result of the mind that rejects God, His existence, or His right to total involvement in our lives. (1:29) being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, (1:30) slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, (1:31) without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;

being filled with all
unrighteousness,
wickedness,
greed,
malice;
(being full of)
envy,
murder,
strife,
deceit,
malice;
They are
gossips,
slanderers
haters of God
insolent
arrogant
boastful
inventors of evil
disobedient to parents,
without understanding,
untrustworthy,
unloving,
unmerciful;

1:32, The Lost Person Flees from God to Unrighteousness

(
1:32)
and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

We know that even the most faithful believer, dependant upon the Grace of God, full of faith, can have moments and times of doubt and excursions into wrongdoing ... Paul's words are directed to the unbelieving, self deluded, self indulgent, person who habitually seeks the "anything but God" approach to their lives. They are to be found as most foul, and deserving of death. To make matters worse for them, they are evangelical in their godless ways and attitudes.


2012-11-21