Understanding The Bible
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BY THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
The Message of the Book of Romans
The Epistle to the Romans, along with Galatians and Hebrews, is an explanation and exposition of the one verse, Habakkuk 2:4, with each book having the following emphasis:
Because Luther was greatly helped by this verse's N.T. quotation, Habakkuk 2:4 has been called "the grandfather of the Reformation"!
Romans answers the age‑old and supreme question of man's soul need:
"How can man be just with God?"
Romans has been called the law court book of the Bible, because it is closely reasoned and forensic in character. In Romans we see man brought before the judgment bar of God. The evidence of his guilt is heard and passed upon, whereupon God pronounces the verdict "condemned." It is as though the Son of God then comes in court as our attorney and pleads the fact that He has borne the full punishment of the law which we have broken. God accepts the validity of the evidence Christ presents and righteously forgives us, because the punishment for our sin has already been borne by Another.
What are we to do now as we walk from the court of justice free from all guilt? Leave to live unto ourselves and to continue in sin from which we have just been delivered? No, never! We are to live separated unto Him who died for us, doing that which is His will and accomplishing His work. By so doing we shall bring honor, and shall attract others, to the Altogether Lovely One who has saved us, who is keeping us, and who one day will come to receive us unto Himself.
The theme of the book is the righteousness of God as revealed in the gospel, character, and ways of God, and as displayed through the lives of believers. The key word is righteousness, and this word is used in three senses in the book:
Primarily, divine consistency in the forgiveness of sins, i.e., God's
consistency with His own self, His own character, e.g., 3:26. This is what
puzzled Socrates. He is reputed by Plato to have said, "It may be, Plato,
that the deity can forgive sins, but I don't see HOW!" How can a holy God
forgive sinful men without compromising His own holiness? Romans forever
settles the question, and vindicates God completely. He can forgive sin
because the penalty has been borne by Another.
That justification which God imputes ‑‑ His righteousness making me
righteous, e.g., 3:22, etc. (Note: it is never said that the righteousness
of CHRIST is imputed to us, but rather the righteousness of GOD.) In the
cross God has found a way in which to JUSTIFY sinners, i.e., make them as if
they had never sinned! Righteousness is all that Christ is before God. MY
sins put Christ on the cross, but God's righteousness put Christ on the
God's own personal inherent righteousness ‑‑ infinitely lofty, an
attribute of His very being. "Being ignorant of God's righteousness" (10:3).
Details concerning the Book
Time and circumstances of writing:
Before he had been to Rome, 1:11, 13
During his third visit to Corinth, Acts 20:1‑3, cp. 2 Cor. 13:1
Most authorities date it around A.D. 58
At the time he was collecting a gift for the poor saints at Jerusalem, 15:25‑26,21; Acts 19:21; 20:1‑3,22; 24:17; 2 Cor. 8:1; 9:1‑5
When he was purposing to visit Rome, after a visit to Jerusalem to present the gift he was collecting, 15:14‑32 (24‑25); Acts 19:21
The person who took the letter to Rome:
Why had Paul not previously visited Rome?
Hindered‑‑by necessity of evangelizing elsewhere, 1:13; 15:19‑25 (22).
How did he now hope to reach Rome?
Through his and their prayer, 1:9‑10; 15:30‑32, cp. Col. 4:2‑4 & Eph. 6:18‑20.
What was the spiritual condition of the Church at Rome?
Splendid! 1:8; 15:14; 16:19.
Why go then?
To impart a "spiritual gift" (message) 1:11, cp. 16:25‑26.
To establish them 1:11.
To be mutually comforted 1:12.
To have a harvest among them as elsewhere 1:13.
To fulfill his debt to them and to Rome 1:14‑15
To check the following disorders before they got beyond control (in the meantime, letting this letter prepare the way), 16:17‑18; 11:13,17‑21, 25; 14:1‑4,13,19; 15:1‑2,5.
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