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Chapter 1 Bible study

The Preacher of the Gospel

 

1:1 From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.

 

Paul had never visited Rome but the Romans had no doubt heard of him. He introduces himself as  an apostle of Jesus Christ - someone sent by Christ to preach the gospel. In v8 Paul tells us that his whole life and soul were taken up with this work to which Christ had called and separated him.

 

The Promise of the Gospel

 

1:2  This gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures,

 

The gospel message is nothing new. God promised this gospel before the world began. Titus 1:2

 

God’s purpose has always been to save men and women through Jesus Christ. He has revealed this purpose to man ever since the beginning of creation by his chosen prophets.

 

e.g. Abraham. To Abraham it was revealed that he would have a descendent who would bring God’s blessing to all nations. This blessing was to be the justification of all nations by faith in that descendent, who is Christ. Gen 26:4  Just as Abraham himself was justified by faith. Gen 15:6

 

In the garden of Eden God describes this person as the “seed of the woman”. Gen 3:15

 

To Isaiah he was the son of a virgin: Isa 7:14

 

God promised David that one of his descendants would be the Christ. Psalms 132:11

 

David himself spoke of the blessedness of a man whose sins are forgiven, foretelling God’s purpose of justification by faith in Christ.  Psalms 32:1-2

 

In this letter Paul identifies the promised seed as Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son.

 

The Person of the Gospel

 

1:3-4 concerning his Son who was a descendant of David with reference to the flesh, who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Jesus Christ fulfills all the descriptions which the prophets gave of him. He was a descendent of David (and therefor Abraham) according to the flesh. Jesus was fully human. As a man, Christ knew what it was to be tired, hungry and thirsty. He suffered grief, loss and extremes of agony and pain.

 

Yet Christ was more than fully man, he was also fully God. This fact was attested by his resurrection from the dead. Eph 1:20-21

 

It is because of who Jesus is and what he has done that we may be justified by faith in him.

 

1:5-6  Through him we have received grace and our apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles on behalf of his name. You also are among them, called to belong to Jesus Christ.

 

With Christ’s call for Paul to preach the person and work of Christ came the grace and enabling strength to do his will. Paul preached the gospel in Christ’s strength and as he did, the faith that comes through the gospel made men obedient to  Jesus Christ. By the gospel, Christ calls all men to himself, and those who respond, as the Roman believers did, are “among the called of Jesus Christ.”

 

The Purpose of the Gospel

 

That Believers might be Sanctified.

 

1:7  To all those loved by God in Rome, called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

 

In v7 Paul speaks of those in Rome who are called to be saints - or sanctified persons. When we are justified we are made holy positionally. We are right with God by virtue of our relationship with Christ. Being sanctified makes us holy practically as God calls us to live a new life of holiness day by day. If justification means righteousness imputed then sanctification means righteousness imparted.Once God has reckoned the righteousness of Christ as ours, we can begin to live that life by the power of his spirit within us. As we learn to live a new for God by the power of Christ who lives in us, we are being sanctified - made holy. God changes us to make us more like Jesus. 2 Cor 3.18. In the second part of chapter one Paul tells how God’s righteousness is revealed by his anger against sin. So it ought to be obvious that the righteousness which comes by faith should lead us to obedience and right living.

 

1:8-13 First of all, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world. For God, whom I serve in my spirit by preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness that I continually remember you and I always ask in my prayers, if perhaps now at last I may succeed in visiting you according to the will of God. For I long to see you, so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually comforted by one another's faith, both yours and mine. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I often intended to come to you (and was prevented until now), so that I may have some fruit even among you, just as I already have among the rest of the Gentiles.

 

 Paul’s constant prayer for the Romans was that they might be built up in the faith through God’s word, being fully set apart for God. John 17.17; 1 Thess 5.23. This was the reason why he longed to visit them; although his responsibility for other churches with the many problems they were experiencing had prevented him until now; was that he might impart the spiritual food of Christ’s teaching so that they might grow in him.

 

That Believers might be Saved.

 

1:14-15 I am a debtor both to the Greeks and to the barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. Thus I am eager also to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome.

 

Paul speaks of being a debtor to all men. It was to the fact that Christ died for all men that Paul owed his salvation. Therefore he felt obliged to make that salvation known to all men. The gospel has the same power today. Wherever it is made known, men and women are trusting Christ as their Saviour and so are being saved from their sin.

 

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

 

Paul was not ashamed to preach the gospel of Christ, for it is the POWER of God for the salvation of all who believe (Rom. 1:16). To be saved means to be rescued from sins power and sins penalty. The power of the gospel is so great that it could turn a blasphemer and hater of Christ like Paul into an apostle and servant of God. It was the same power of the gospel which had produced the conversion of these Roman citizens. (6,7) Their conversions may have been less dramatic they were effected by no less power.

 

That Believers might be Justified.

1:17 For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written, "The righteous by faith will live."

 

Here the righteousness of God is expressed in his justification of sinners. Justification is Christ’s righteousness imputed. To impute something is to reckon it to someone’s account. When we trust in Christ, God takes the account book of our lives, crosses out the sin and failure writing these words “Christ has paid in full.” Then he reckons to our account the righteousness of Christ - the perfect sinless life that Christ lived. Because of this no charge can ever be laid to your account. Your soul’s salvation will never come into question again - for you are justified. When God looks upon you he sees the life and righteousness of his son- so that you can never more be condemned. The verse also speaks of sanctification as part of Christian growth, a continuing in the faith. For as we have begun in Christ by faith, so we are to go on in Christ from faith to faith. 2 Peter 3:18

 

What Sin is

 

Adam Clarke said    “The apostle has now finished his preface, and comes to the grand subject of the epistle; namely, to show the absolute need of the Gospel of Christ, because of the universal corruption of mankind; which was so great as to incense (anger) the justice of God, and call aloud for the punishment of the world.”

 

1:18  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness,

 

What God thinks of sin He has clearly made known when He gave His Son as a sacrifice for it upon the cross.   The wrath of God was poured out upon the Lord Jesus Christ as He paid the penalty for sin.   What is Sin ?  Basically it is “ungodliness and unrighteousness” that is wickedness and everything contrary to the Law of God this leads to a suppressing (squashing) and distorting of the truth of God.

 

1:19  because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

 

God has made Himself known to everyone through their inner consciousness (Rom. 2: 14 - 15).  

 

1:20  For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.

 

He has also revealed His invisible attributes (nature)  and eternal power and Divinity through the things that He created.  This He has done so that all can plainly understand and therefore no excuse can be made.

 

1:21-22 For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools

 

When God was known and recognised by man he choose not to acknowledge or give Him His rightful place in their lives.   Instead man gave himself over to useless and godless thoughts and so their minds were blinded with the darkness of sin.   Considering themselves to be wiser than their creator they  made themselves to be fools.   A. Barnes.   “The apostle here is showing that it was right to condemn people for their sins. To do this it was needful to show them that they had the knowledge of God, and the means of knowing what was right; and that the true source of their sins and idolatries was a corrupt and evil heart.”

 

1:23  and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

 

They made statues of the things that God had created out every conceivable material to hand and bowed down to worship these.

 

The Results of Sin

 

1:24-25  Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves.  They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

 

Because of man’s choice to sinfully rebel against God, who never enforces Himself because He gave man a free will, He gave them over, or ceased to restrain them to fulfil the evil impure and immoral desires of their sinful hearts.  Three times Paul uses the phrase “gave them up” (24, 26,28).   He wants to make it clear that God had no part in the downfall and sin of man. They wilfully choose to change the glory of the immortal God into corruptible images\idols of himself and created things such as; man, sun, moon, stars and animals etc.   Preferring to believe the lie and bow down and worship the creation instead of the Creator, who is to be praised fand exalted forever.

 

1:26-27 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

 

In these verses we have a catalogue of every conceivable act of sin that has and is committed because of Sin.  Here he clearly states the sins of sexual immoralitywhich brought the penalty of sexually transmitted diseases.  

 

1:28  And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done.

 

Because they did not see fit to acknowledge God or consider Him worth knowing God gave the over to their corrupted minds so that they do these things.

 

1:29-31 They are filled with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, malice. They are rife with envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, contrivers of all sorts of evil, disobedient to parents, senseless, covenant-breakers, heartless, ruthless.

 

He continues his list of sins going from those committed with the body to those committed by the heart i.e. greed, malice, envy, deceit, slanderers, haters of God, arrogance, disobedient.

 

We can clearly see that these are entirely opposite to the nature of God and in opposition to Him.  They are all marked by the absence and the main attribute of God, that is Love.   How can it be any other when man has endeavoured to completely obliterate the image of God from every part of his life ?

 

1:32 Although they fully know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them.

 

Although those who practise such things are fully aware that the penalty for sin is death yet they not only continue to them but approve and encourage others in them.  The purpose of Paul included this portion in the opening chapter of his letter is to show the exceeding sinfulness of man (Rom. 3: 23) and that he deserves the penalty of sin (Rom. 6: 23).  It is not to send us into the depths of despair and hopelessness but to bring home to our hearts the exceeding grace, love and mercy of God in provided a Saviour.      

 

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