The Epistle to the Romans

Romans class notes: Andrew Fountain, December 2008

Romans: Introduction to the Epistle

“Every Christian should learn it by heart”

—Martin Luther

“If we understand this Epistle, we have a passage opened to us to the understanding of the whole of Scripture”

—John Calvin

“it appears as if in this Epistle St Paul desires to... provide an access to the whole of the Old Testament. For there is no doubt that he who carries this Epistle in his heart carries the light and power of the Old Testament with him. Every Christian ought therefore to know this Epistle and study it persistently.”

—Martin Luther

“When, on the third day of my first term in May 1925, full of curiosity, I attended Mr. Peterson’s lecture on Romans, the course of my study, and in some sense my life, was decided.
Now, as my life’s work comes to an end, I seek to show in my own commentary what the apostle says to me.”

—Ernst Käsemann

Date and Place of Writing

The Epistle was written when Paul was about to set out for Jerusalem (15.25), bringing money for the poor saints. This fits in well with Acts 24.17 and puts the time to near the end of Paul’s third missionary journey. It is highly probable that he wrote it during his three month stay at Corinth because: Paul commends Phoebe who is a diaconos of the church in Cenchrea, the port of Corinth. (She was going to Rome and so probably carried the letter). Paul is staying with Gaius (16.23)—he baptized a Gaius in Corinth (I Cor 1.14). Also Timothy and Erastus are with him when writes the letter, and Acts 19,20 tells us they were at Corinth with him.

The church at Rome seems to have been started by individual Christians who had moved there, rather than by a special missionary enterprise. It was a huge city of sheer magnificence, the capital of the empire. Some called it the glorious crowning achievement of mankind, others said it was the sewer of the universe. There were impressive and beautiful buildings, and shameful urban social problems—similar to our big cities today.

Brief Outline

  1. [1:18-4:25] Justification by Faith
    • We cannot gain righteousness from the law
    • Righteousness by faith
  2. [5-8] New life and New hope
    • Reconciled by Christ’s death
    • Freedom from sin through grace
    • Inability of the law to bring freedom
    • Victory in Christ through the Spirit—Nothing can separate us from the love of God
  3. [9:1-11:36] God’s Future for Israel
    • Introduction—Paul is grieved by Israel’s’ rejection of the Gospel
    • Israel has no automatic right-
    • Israel has “missed the Gospel” and is totally without excuse
    • but God has purpose for Israel that will demonstrate his kindness & mercy
  4. [12:1-15:13] The life that pleases God—how the New Covenant people should live
    • Life in the Kingdom (the body of Christ)
    • The laws of the Kingdom
    • Unity (problems concerning
    • Conclusion: unity, hope, joy and peace by the power of the Spirit


Some Problems in Romans

Form of Romans

Greetings and Theme [1:1-17]

  • Introduction [1:1-15]
    1. Greeting [1:1-7]
    2. Paul loves them and plans to visit them [1:8-15]
  • Theme of the book [1:16-17]

The Letter to the Romans compared with other letters of the time.

  1. From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.
  • [1:1] Slave of Christ Jesus, “inverted” title!
    • O.T. common designation “servant of God” (literaly slave of Jahweh)
    • Paul substitues Christ Jesus
  • [1:1]Called to be an apostle, set apart
    • When was Paul set apart? (Acts 13:1,2)
    • How was this by Jesus rather than by men? It was a prophetic word, directly from the Holy Spirit
    • In a sense Paul was also set apart even before he was born (Gal. 1:15,16)
  1. This gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
  2. concerning his Son who was a descendant of David with reference to the flesh,
  3. who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.
  • [1:4] When was Jesus appointed as the Son of God? at his resurrection
    • Some translations weaken this to declared, (what does your translation say?)
      • but the sense is that there is something new here
    • There was some new aspect to his sonship that he entered into
      • A human, united with a race of humans, bringing them together into sonship and adoption
  1. 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. 6. You also are among them, called to belong to Jesus Christ.
  • [1:5] “Obedience of faith” sounds a contradition in terms. What does it mean?
    • Is faith a work?
      • Obviously not, but...
    • Faith always “looks like something”
      • it cannot exist in a vacuum of nothingness, but has to be expressed to be faith
    • E.g. When God told Abraham to leave his city and head out into nothing
      • what faith looked like was packing his bags and going
      • Abraham was not “saved by travelling” but by a heart of faith
    • Similarly, when God told the Israelites to sacrifice animals
      • It was not the blood of the animals that saved them, but a heart of faith
      • If they did it in faith, believing
    • Faith is an act of surrender
      • e.g. Muslim heroin addict at Betel —required a response
    • Putting faith in Jesus who says “follow me” must mean that we actually follow him!
    • This is Paul saying the same as James: “Faith without obedience is dead”
  1. 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!
  • [1:7]Notice that Paul doesn’t just wish them grace, but grace and peace.
  • What he is doing is beautifully blending in the Jewish greeting (peace) with the Greek one, and so emphasizing his words in Rom. 10:12 “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon him.”
  • What is more, although Paul is using the same words grace and peace that an unbeliever would unthinkingly use, Paul uses them to mean something special—the grace of God in salvation and peace with him through Jesus Christ. So we see that Paul takes the standard form of a letter and makes use of it to convey the warmth of Christian truth.
  1. First of all, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world.
  2. For God, whom I serve in my spirit by preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness that I continually remember you
  3. and I always ask in my prayers, if perhaps now at last I may succeed in visiting you according to the will of God.
  • [1:10] Does it look as if Paul has ever been to Rome?
    • no
  • [1:9-15] Why does he stress his love for them and how important they are to him?
    • to make a way for his letter
  1. For I long to see you, so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you,
  2. that is, that we may be mutually comforted by one another’s faith, both yours and mine.
  • [1:11] He wants to impart to them a spiritual gift
    • [12:6] He uses the same word Charisma (gifts) to mean gifts of the Spirit. (also 1 Cor 12:4)
    • This is evidence of impartation, along with 1 Tim 4:14 (elders’ laying on hands) and 2 Tim 1:6 (Paul’s hands)
  • [1:12] Some people argue that v.11 cannot refer to gifts of the Spirit because v.12 says it is mutual
    • If you read it carefully, it is the comfort and encouragement that is mutual
  1. 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.
  2. I am a debtor both to the Greeks and to the barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.
  3. Thus I am eager also to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome.
  • [1:13] Is this written to Jews or Gentiles?
    • both, but probably mainly Gentiles
  1. 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.
  2. 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.”
  • [1:16-17] Theme verse
    • “The Gospel is the power of God for salvation, and reveals God’s righteousness which is by faith”
    • Why Jew first?
      • simply time order, since they had been promised it for so long
    • believes... faith to faith... faith —repetition for emphasis
    • Some ideas today are:
      • “It doesn’t matter what you believe in as long as you have faith”
        • Hindenburg Airship?
      • People talk of “different faiths”, or “faith communities” as if faith was the important thing
      • Muslims are included as a “faith” but they do not believe we are saved by faith!
    • Actually it is not the faith that is important, but what you have faith in
      • Hindenburg airship disaster—they had faith!
    • Paul uses faith as a shorthand here, but he is very clear that it is faith in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection as our only grounds for forgiveness and reconciliation with God

Purpose for letter

Part 1 [1:18-4:35] Justification by Faith

In part 1, Paul deals with the topic of the need of every human being for salvation. He shows that none of us are able to save ourselves and then he describes God's free gift of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.

Part 1a - All are Guilty of Sin [1:18-2:5]

  1. [1:18-4:25] Justification by Faith
    1. [1:18-3:20] We cannot gain righteousness from the law
      1. [1:18-32] Sin is Universal
      2. [2:1-5] You are just as much under judgement as those you condemn
  1. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness,
  2. because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.
  3. 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.
  • [1:18]In what sense do all unbelievers know God?
    • “General Revelation” (creation & providence)
    • “Special Revelation” (Scripture, direct revelation through a vision)
    • Both are only through Jesus—he is the revelation of God
  • Humans supresses it
    • The stars on a clear night are “shouting” that there is a God, a creator

Downward Spiral

  v.21-24 v.25-27 v.28 (summary)
For although they knew God, They exchanged the truth of God (knowledge of 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, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.
for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God,
Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonour their bodies among themselves. For this reason God gave them over to dishonourable 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.
God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done.
  1. They are filled with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, malice. They are rife with envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility. They are gossips,
  2. slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, contrivers of all sorts of evil, disobedient to parents,
  3. senseless, covenant-breakers, heartless, ruthless.
  • Is homosexual sin the worst?
  • Does everyone fit into the category of [1:29-32]?
  • So what is Paul doing here?
    • The key is [2:1]
  1. 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.
  • Summary: they knew and they rejected
  • Remember the story of David’s sin and the Prophet Nathan’s trick into getting him to condemn himself
  • Paul is picking homosexuality as an example they would strongly agree with
    • Imagine a synagogue full of self-righteous Jews who are tut-tuting against these terrible Gentiles.
    • “Amen, brother Paul! Preach it!”
  • They once they are in “condemning mode” he gets them with [2:1] and they are caught
  1. Therefore you are without excuse, whoever you are, when you judge someone else. For on whatever grounds you judge another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge practice the same things.
  • See from [2:17] that this passage is directed against Jews
  • Do the Jews practice the very “same things” ?
    • look at v.29-31 —they are pretty universal
  1. Now we know that God’s judgment is in accordance with truth against those who practice such things.
  2. And do you think, whoever you are, when you judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape God’s judgment?
  • What standard does God use to judge?
    • he is impartial—it is according to truth
  1. Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?
  2. But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourselves in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed!
  • “God has not judged me yet, even though I am sinning. In fact things are going very well for me!
  • Complete misunderstanding of why God has not judged them. Why not?
    • to encourage them to turn to him because of his kindness

Part 1b - No Righteousness by the Law [2:6-3:20]

  1. [1:18-4:25] Justification by Faith
    1. [1:18-3:20] We cannot gain righteousness from the law
      1. [1:18-32] Sin is Universal
      2. [2:1-5] You are just as much under judgement as those you condemn
        • [2:1] If you judge others, you automatically condemn yourself
        • [2:2] God has a standard of judgement
        • [2:3] Do you think that the fact that God has not judged you yet, means he has forgotten?
        • [2:4-5] Whereas actually he is giving you time to repent, else you will be punished in the end
      3. [2:6-11] God’s judgement is according to his standards and impartial for both Jews and Gentiles
      4. [2:12-3:8] Having the law does not give Jews a special status
        • [2:12-16] On the Day of Judgement will not be about what law you have, but how well you do what the law requires
        • [2:17-29] The limitations of the Old Covenant
          • [2:17-24] You may think you have a very special relationship with God because you have the law, but if you don’t keep it, the opposite is true—you dishonour God.
          • [2:25-29] Your status as a Jew through circumcision is worth nothing unless you keep the law. A Gentile who obeys the law is more Jewish than you!
        • [3:1-8] Problems
          • [3:1-4] Problem 1: What advantage is it to be a Jew? —there are many advantages
          • [3:5-8] Problem 2: Is God unjust to condemn actions that bring him glory —no, else he couldn’t judge anyone
      5. [3:9-18] Jews can be as evil as Gentiles
      6. [3:19-20] Therefore no-one can make themselves righteous by the law

Structure of [2:6-11]

  1. He will reward each one according to his works:
    1. eternal life to those who by perseverance in good works seek glory and honour and immortality,
      1. but wrath and anger to those who live in selfish ambition and do not obey the truth but follow unrighteousness.
      2. There will be affliction and distress on everyone who does evil, on the Jew first and also the Greek,
    1. but glory and honour and peace for everyone who does good, for the Jew first and also the Greek.
  1. For there is no partiality with God.
  • Is this teachine we are saved by works?
    • Is the Justification by works in [v.6]
      1. Hypothetical?
      2. Fulfilled by Christians through the Spirit?
      3. We really are saved by works?
    • in the context here, the purpose is [v.11] to establish God’s impartiality
    • but later, in [8:4] we see that in fact the Christian does fulfill the law

  1. [2:12-3:8] Having the law does not give Jews a special status
    • [2:12-16] On the Day of Judgement will not be about what law you have, but how well you do what the law requires
      • Two laws?
        • Paul is “leveling the playing field between Jew and Gentile” (Moo, p.127)
      • [2:15] “the work of the law written on our hearts”
        • this is an important concept
          • Adam
          • defaced in the fall
          • New Covenant
        • relationship with conscience
    • [2:17-29] The limitations of the Old Covenant
      • [2:17-24] You may think you have a very special relationship with God because you have the law, but if you don’t keep it, the opposite is true—you dishonour God.
      • [2:25-29] Your status as a Jew through circumcision is worth nothing unless you keep the law. A Gentile who obeys the law is more Jewish than you!
    • [3:1-8] Problems
      • [3:1-4] Problem 1: What advantage is it to be a Jew? —there are many advantages
      • [3:5-8] Problem 2: Is God unjust to condemn actions that bring him glory —no, else he couldn’t judge anyone
  2. [3:9-18] Jews can be as evil as Gentiles
  3. [3:19-20] Therefore no-one can make themselves righteous by the law

Part 1c - Righteousness by Faith [3:21-4:25]

  1. [3:21-4:25] Righteousness by faith
    1. [3:21-26] Justification and the Righteousness of God
    2. [3:27-31] By Faith Alone: initial statement
    3. [4:1-25] Proof from Abraham
      • [4:1-8] Faith & Works
      • [4:9-12] Faith & Circumcision
      • [4:13-22] Faith, Promise and the Law
      • [4:23-25] Abraham’s faith related to ours

Justification and the Righteousness of God [3:21-26]

  1. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed—
  2. namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe.
  • Introduction
  1. For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
  2. But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
  • Statement of Justification by faith
  1. God publicly displayed him at his death as the mercy seat accessible through faith.
  • What God did and why
  1. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because God in his forbearance had passed over the sins previously committed.
  • Reason 1 (the past)
  1. This was also to demonstrate his righteousness in the present time, so that he would be just and the justifier of the one who lives because of Jesus’ faithfulness.
  • Reason 2 (present and future)
  • Demonstrates God can forgive sin without being unjust
  1. [3:27-31] By Faith Alone: initial statement
    • read verses

There are three views of how this Justification actually works

  1. [4:1-25] Proof from Abraham
    • [4:1-8] Faith & Works
    • [4:9-12] Faith & Circumcision
    • [4:13-22] Faith, Promise and the Law
    • [4:23-25] Abraham’s faith related to ours

Part 1d - Justification: Three Views

1. Martin Luther

  • The word “justify” does not mean actually make us righteous, but declare that we are righteous
    • (Luther is absolutely correct here)
  • But the problem is that we are still sinners
  • So how can we be sinners and yet righteous at the same time
  • His answer is that in justification, it is as if there is a mirror in front of us.
  • “Legal fiction”

2. Catholic church at the time:

  • What Christ does for you is just the starting point
    • Start off with a clean robe (at baptism) but then you have to keep washing it.
    • Any failure to wash it is paid for:
      • purgatory
      • indulgences
      • penance


  • Arose from the concepts that -
    • The punishment for a sin could be converted to a monetary value (as originally set forth in the Mosaic law for civil crimes)
    • The church had a treasury of grace (from its good works) and accumulated suffering of the saints
    • The extension of forgiveness of past sins to forgiveness of future sins
      • a realization that the only place that the forgiveness made a difference was after this life anyway
  • Selling Indulgences in Luther’s time:
    • “At the very instant,” continues Tetzel, “that the money rattles in the bottom of the chest, the soul escapes from purgatory, and flies liberated to heaven. [15] Now you can ransom so many souls, stiff-necked and thoughtless man; with twelve groats you can deliver your father from purgatory, and you are ungrateful enough not to save him! I shall be justified in the Day of Judgment; but you—you will be punished so much the more severely for having neglected so great salvation. I declare to you, though you have but a single coat, you ought to strip it off and sell it, in order to obtain this grace. . . . . The Lord our God no longer reigns, he has resigned all power to the Pope.”
  • Story of the weathly Barron who wanted to buy forgiveness for all future sins...

3. What Paul is teaching

  • Relational, not “a cold legal thing”
    • This is because the law we have broken is about a relationship (a covenant)
  • Real transformation by redemption
  • Much of Paul’s concern is to show that God is not unjust to freely pardon people
  • The basis is union with Christ, as we shall see later

Good explanation on Catholic website:

  • The simplest way to explain the differences between Catholic and Protestant [Luther’s] Justification is using analogy.
    • Suppose our state before justification is like wearing a dirty robe, which does not entitle us to enter heaven.
    • We cannot clean our robe using our own efforts.
  • In Protestant’s [Luther’s] Justification, Christ will give us His spotless robe to cover up ours at the time we accept Him as our Lord and Saviour.
    • Christ needs to do it only once.
    • We still wear our dirty robe, but it is now covered with Christ’s.
    • When God look at us He will see us wearing the spotless robe of Christ and declares us clean.
    • Note that with the robe from Christ we are renewed outwardly but inside we still have our dirty robe.
  • In Catholic justification, on the other hand, God through Christ will help us to wash our dirty robe.
    • At our conversion, Christ makes it clean for the first time through Baptism (if we have the chance to have it).
    • After this whenever we dirty our robe through sinning, Christ will again help us to wash it (through sacrament of penance). -The process is continued through out our life.
    • When we die with our robe still stained with venial sins, it will be cleansed in purgatory because nothing unclean can enter heaven (Revelation 21:27).
    • At the end of Justification, we enter heaven wearing our clean robe. Obviously what is made clean is also declared clean.

Paul teaches that we are united with Christ

  • so our dirty robe is washed in his blood, not merely covered up
    • and we are truly clean and acceptable to God
  • Also we enter a new relationship in which our faith is counted as righteousness
    • so he takes joy in our faith and our sins are truly washed away

Summary of Paul’s teaching

  1. Enemies [5:10]
    • as an unbeliver, we have a broken relationship with God
    • we are guilty of sin
      • living self-centred lives and breaking God’s perfect standards
      • rejecting the love he has shown us which was designed to draw us to himself [2:4]
  2. The “faithfulness of Jesus” in dying for all who believe [3:22]
    • His death satisfies God’s justice [3:25]
    • It makes it possible for God to forgive people without being unjust [3:25-26]
  3. Redemption, forgiveness of sins [3:24]
    • On the basis of Jesus shed blood, God give us the free gift of forgiveness
    • God gives this gift to those who trust him, not by merit, but as a free gift
    • Our sins are really cleansed and put as far as the east is from the west [Ps 103:12]
    • and we become white as snow [Is 1:18]
    • Jesus promises to continually intercede for us [Heb 7:25] and provide us ongoing purification [Heb 9:12-14]
  4. Justification: God then declares the verdict that we are “not guilty”
    • Justification does not do anything to us, it just declares our status as a result of what has already been done
    • It is not a fiction, but on the basis of redemption [3:24]
  • Note that Paul often speaks of “justification by faith” as a shorthand for “justification through redemption by the blood of Christ which is a free gift given to those who have faith”
  • There are three important implications of Justification
    1. We walk in freedom from condemnation [8:1].
    2. We walk in a restored relationship with the Father. Our sin was personal against God, resulting in a broken relationship, and so justification is a statement that the relationship is restored and we are part of his family in good standing.
    3. Justification is an action as well as a statement:
      • A judge speaks the words “not guilty”, but he also commands the removal of chains and setting free
        • Justification is both of these and both are required
      • Romans [4:25] says Jesus was “raised for our justification”
        • Jesus’ resurrection was the action of justifying Jesus, and us as well (through our unity with him)
      • So, Justification brings us freedom at a deep and fundamental level, and releases us from the authority and power of darkness and the grave
        • The importance of this for the Christian life cannot be understated!
        • It is clearly expressed in Romans [6:8-11] where it says that “death no longer has dominion” over Jesus
        1. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
        2. We know that since Christ has been raised from the dead, he is never going to die again; death no longer has dominion over him.
        3. For the death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God.
        4. So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Part 2 [5-8] New life and New hope

Having descibed how we are saved, Paul goes on to talk about the new life and how we have victory through the power of the Spirit.

2a - Justification & Reconciliation [5:1-11]

  • Verses 1 & 2 are the perfect link between the two sections
look back look forward
we have been declared righteous by faith we have peace with God
we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory
  • Verse 5 is the first mention of the Holy Spirit, and a key verse (especially for me)

Passages in Paul that seem to equate justification with reconciliation

2 Cor 5:18f

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them

  • So reconciliation results in a new standing

Rom 5:8-11

  1. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that
    while we were still sinners,
            Christ died for us.
  2.                 Much more then,
                            having now been justified by his blood,
                                    we shall be saved from wrath through him.
  3. For if when we were enemies
            we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son,
                    much more,
                            having been reconciled,
                                    we shall be saved by his life.
  4. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
    through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Also: Col 1

  1. And you, who once were alienated
    and hostile in mind, [engaged] in evil deeds,
  2. now he has reconciled
    in his body of flesh through death

2b - Parallels in Chapter 5

Sin and Death — Adam

grace and life — Jesus Christ

12 So then, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all people because all sinned  
13 for before the law was given, sin was in the world, but there is no accounting for sin when there is no law.14 Yet death reigned from Adam until Moses even over those who did not sin in the same way that Adam (who is a type of the coming one) transgressed.  

15 But the gracious gift is not like the transgression.

For if the many died through the transgression of the one man, how much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one man Jesus Christ multiply to the many!

16 And the gift is not like the one who sinned.

For judgment, resulting from the one transgression, led to condemnation, but the gracious gift from the many transgressions led to justification.
17 For if, by the transgression of the one man, death reigned through the one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ!
18 Consequently, just as condemnation for all people came through one transgression, so too through the one righteous act came righteousness leading to life for all people.
19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of one man many will be made righteous.
20 Now the law came in so that the transgression may increase, but where sin increased, grace multiplied all the more,
21 so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

2c - The problem of original sin in Romans 5

Romans 5 seems to be saying that somehow, because of Adam’s sin, we are condemned (v18). Unbelievers find this a problem. How would you answer them?

There are various explanations of how we could have been involved in Adam’s sin:

  1. We are held responsible for Adam’s actual sin.
    1. The whole human race somehow was present in Adam at the moment of his sin, therefore we are all guilty of the original sin.
    2. Even though we were not involved in Adam’s sin, we are treated as if we are guilty of it because he was our representative.
  2. We are held responsible only for our own sins.
    1. Because of Adam’s sin, we are all born with sinful natures, and therefore inevitably sin.
    2. We all sin `in Adam’ because we inevitably follow his example and sin ourselves.
    3. When Adam sinned, the whole of Creation `fell’. We are born into a fallen world and therefore we inevitably sin.

Answers 1. & 2. cannot be true becuase in Ezekiel 18 God clearly states that we are never punished for the sin of another person, even if he is our father.

The best solution is to understand the difference between guilt and consequences

  • we suffer the consequence of Adam’s sin—a fallen nature
  • we are only held accountable for the guilt of our own sin

For this reason I would favour explanation 3.

Ezekiel 18:1-32

  1. The word of the LORD came to me again, saying,
  2. “What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying: ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?
  3. “As I live,” says the Lord GOD, “you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel.
  4. “Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine; the soul who sins shall die.
  5. But if a man is just and does what is lawful and right;
  6. If he has not eaten on the mountains, nor lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, nor defiled his neighbour’s wife, nor approached a woman during her impurity;
  7. If he has not oppressed anyone, but has restored to the debtor his pledge; has robbed no one by violence, but has given his bread to the hungry and covered the naked with clothing;
  8. If he has not exacted usury nor taken any increase, but has withdrawn his hand from iniquity and executed true judgment between man and man;
  9. If he has walked in my statutes and kept my judgments faithfully—he is just; he shall surely live!” Says the Lord GOD.
  10. “If he begets a son who is a robber or a shedder of blood, who does any of these things
  11. And does none of those duties, but has eaten on the mountains or defiled his neighbour’s wife;
  12. If he has oppressed the poor and needy, robbed by violence, not restored the pledge, lifted his eyes to the idols, or committed abomination;
  13. If he has exacted usury or taken increase—shall he then live? he shall not live! If he has done any of these abominations, he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.
  14. “If, however, he begets a son who sees all the sins which his father has done, and considers but does not do likewise;
  15. Who has not eaten on the mountains, nor lifted his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, nor defiled his neighbour’s wife;
  16. Has not oppressed anyone, nor withheld a pledge, nor robbed by violence, but has given his bread to the hungry and covered the naked with clothing;
  17. Who has withdrawn his hand from the poor and not received usury or increase, but has executed my judgments and walked in my statutes—he shall not die for the iniquity of his father; he shall surely live!
  18. “As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, robbed his brother by violence, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity.
  19. “Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?’ Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all my statutes and done them, he shall surely live.
  20. “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
  21. “But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all my statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.
  22. “None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live.
  23. “Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord GOD, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?
  24. “But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.
  25. “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ hear now, O house of Israel, is it not my way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair?
  26. “When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies.
  27. “Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive.
  28. “Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.
  29. “Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ O house of Israel, is it not my ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair?
  30. “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord GOD. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin.
  31. “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?
  32. “For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn and live!”

2d - The Two Worlds [Romans 6]

Romans 6:5-14

Old Creation New Creation
5 For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united in the likeness of his resurrection.
6 We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
7 (For someone who has died has been freed from sin.)
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

he is never going to die again; death no longer has mastery over him.
9 We know that since Christ has been raised from the dead,
10 For the death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires, 13 and do not present the members of your body to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and the members of your body to God as instruments to be used for righteousness.
14 For sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law but under grace.

1. There are two Worlds

  • Most of our problems as Christians are related to not understanding the two worlds we live in
  • We are born into the physical world
    • The old creation
    • Descendents of Adam
    • antagonistic towards God
    • unable to defeat sin in our lives
    • under the condemnation of the law
  • But Jesus was also born into this world
    • He triumphed over temptation
    • He kept all the law perfectly
    • He took on himself the condemnation his people deserved by dying for them
    • God raised him up, the first of a new race of beings
  • Jesus resurrection was not just him coming back to life
    • This was a bigger event than even the creation of the world
    • Jesus’s new body was the first evidence of an entire new creation
      • One day we will all have bodies like his
      • There will be a whole new universe without sin
  • Jesus saved us by uniting us with him
    • in his death
      • so that our sin was punished on the cross
    • and then in his resurrection
      • so that we are part of the new creation
      • which at present is just like a seed in our hearts
  • Romans 6:5-8
  • So now we are part of the new creation
    • we don’t have new creation bodies
    • but as Christians we have a new heart—invisible, but part of the New Creation

Jewish conception of the two ages

Romans 6:1-4 — Picture of two worlds, Jesus taking us out of one and into the other

The Two Worlds/Aeons_full screen_

  • The Two Worlds in 1 Cor 15:45-58
First Adam Second Adam (Christ)
living being life giving spirit
natural spiritual
of the earth, dust Lord from heaven
those who are of dust are like him those who are from heaven are like him
bore his image shall bear his image
flesh and blood  
cannot inherit kingdom inherit kingdom
corruption incorruption
mortal immortality
  • Comparison
Old creation New Creation
Born from Adam Born again from Jesus
Kingdom of Satan Kingdom of God
antagonistic towards God sons and daughters of God
unable to defeat sin in our lives free from the power of sin
under the condemnation of the law not under law but under grace
shorthand name: the world of “the flesh” shorthand name: the world of “the Spirit”
  • Our problem as Christians is that we are living in both worlds at the same time.
  • Two issues come out of this:
    1. freedom from sin
    2. not under law but under grace

2. No longer slaves to sin

Were slaves to sin —now freedom to serve God Romans 6:8-13
  • Examples:
    • Larry’s goldfish
    • Immigrating to Canada, leaving England behind

Jewish conception of the Age to Come

Jewish conception of the age to come

2e - Law and Grace [6:15-7:6]

  • No longer under the law?
  • Under law or under grace—the new life of the Spirit 7:5-6
    1. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful desires, aroused by the law, were active in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.
    2. But now we have been released from the law, because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code.
  • This is one of the most thorny issues that have taxed the minds of Christians for the last two thousand years.
  • There is a danger from both sides:
  • what are 2 extremes called?
Legalism Grace and Truth Antinomianism (lawlessness)
one extreme correct understanding other extreme
  • some examples of legalism
    • some clothing rules
    • focus on externals
    • no earings etc.
  • Pharisees concept of “fencing the law”
  • examples of antinomianism (someone I knew)
    • no car insurance
    • getting drunk
    • I will watch whatever movie I want to!
    • T.Virgo—grace or righteousness?
  • Look at the Scriptures: many commands in the New Testament
    • also sermon on mount—Jesus was a law giver
    • but he replaced the law (parable of the camel and needle’s eye)
  • Answer: The law does not change when you are saved, it is your relationship with the law
    • slave to a master
    • or law of love.
  • The master & the maid
  • The employee & the partner
    • steal from the till
    • go home early
    • long lunch breaks
    • help himself to company stationary
    • surf the internet instead of working
    • rude and unhelpful to customers
  • The need for the Spirit
    • This new relationship is through him
    • Romans 8:13-16
      1. ...but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.
      2. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.
      3. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.”
      4. The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are God’s children.
  • The tape recorder, playing in the background of our minds
    • I’m useless, I’m going to mess up again
    • I know what I’m like
    • That is a lie! Speak the truth to yourself! You are a new creation in Christ Jesus

“But now we have been released from the law,
because we have died to what controlled us,
so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit
and not under the old written code.” Romans 7:6

  • offending weaker brother ??

2f - Dead to the Law [7:1-6]

  • First there is a legal principle stated:
    1. Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?
  • Then Paul gives a simple illustration of how this works
    1. For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives.
          But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband.
    2. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress;
          but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.
  • Not an allegory or a parable, but a simple illustration of verse 1.
  • The message here is simply to give an example of how the death of one party causes the covenant to cease.
    • (Wrong to get bogged down in husband=law, new husband=Christ, because in reality it is us—the woman—who has “died with Christ”. The law has not died!)
    1. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ,
          that you may be married to another, even to him who was raised from the dead,
              that we should bear fruit to God.
  • Note here that we are raised from the dead
    • so the new creation is not subject to the old law.
    • Also the refence to “fruit” which is the underlying direction the whole argument is taking, since 6:1
    1. For when we were in the flesh,
          the passions of sins which were aroused by the law were at work in our members
              to bear fruit to death.
    2. But now
          we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by,
              so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
  • Here is the main statement that the illustration, and indeed most of chapter 6, has been building up to.
    • The rest of chapter 7 and part of 8 are there to explain it:

in the Spirit


               law  \

in the flesh            our members —-> fruit to death  (serving in the oldness of the letter)


               law X

in the Spirit —————>our members —-> fruit to God, serving in the newness of the Spirit



in the flesh

  • This seems rather strange, that the law is the power of sin,
    • but see: 5:20, 7:8-11,13 1 Cor 15:56 2 Cor 3:6 Gal 3:21,22 (Scrip = law)
    • How is this?
    • sin = pride & unbelief, Adam & Eve in the garden, see below by Cranfield and Ridderbos.
    • If God had said to Adam “You can chose whether to eat the fruit or not, but it would please me if you didn’t” —defeat Satan’s arguments.
    • The tremendous joy when we are living to please a God who delights in us, and will not hold a single sin against us.
  • It is important to recognise that our connection with the law has been severed. We now have a new kind of connection.
    • It is no longer a taskmaster, threatening condemnation, but a guide to pleasing God in the freedom and newness of the Spirit.(v6)
    • It is not the content of the law that is the problem, it is the condemnation of the law.
  • Paul is not opposing law and Spirit directly here (7:14 says that the law is spiritual)
    • but “letter” is the law as our accuser, a list of accusations written againt us and nailed to the cross by Christ (Col 2:14).
    • Spirit is the newness of life which belongs to the new age, letter belongs to this age which is passing away.

2g - The problem of whom Romans 7:13-25 is about

  • First question: Is the law sin?
    1. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not!
      On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law.
      For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘‘You shall not covet.’’
    2. But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in meall manner of evil desire.
          For apart from the law sin was dead.
      1. I was alive once without the law,
        but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
      2. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.
    1. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.
    2. Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.
    • “known” is stronger here than “become aware of”, the word implies a personal involvement, (as in Adam knew Eve)
    • “taking opportunity” is a military metaphor, almost “using the commandment as a bridgehead” (Dunn)
  • Comments by Cranfield: (v.8)
    • aphorme means ‘starting point’, ‘origin’... We should read “but sin having obtained a base for its operations worked in me through the commandment all manner of covetousness;”
    • How did “You shall not covet” give sin its foothold. Not mere psychological explanation like “forbidden fruit is sweetest”. It is rather that the merciful limitation imposed on man by the commandment and intended to preserve his true freedom and dignity can be misinterpreted and misrepresented as a taking away of his freedom and an attack on his dignity, and so can be made an occasion of resentment and rebellion against the divine Creator, man’s true Lord.
    • These verses are best understood as exposition of the Genesis narrative. The 10th commandment is mentioned because of its close connection with the fall. “You shall be as God”- Gen 3.5
    • Sin is still present without the law, but relatively inactive. Pictured as a serpent, still and waiting until the law is given.. then it strikes.
  • Comments by Ridderbos
    • The remarkable thing here is that Paul now represents the law as a power that provokes and, as it were, calls forth sin in the sinner. By upholding the commandment to man as the end of his liberty and by promising him life in the transgression of the commandment, sin draws man under its enchantment. It promises him just that which the law appears to take away, and leads him thus into death. ...the false delusion that for him liberty, happiness, etc., lie in the transgression of the commandment.

Section 7:13-25

Who is the “I” in 7:13-25?

  1. The Apostle Paul at that time and therefore is what all Christians should expect.
    • Dunn, Garlington, Calvin, Hendriksen, Haldane, Hodge, Murray, Philip
  2. The Apostle Paul (and the believer) in his weaker moments.
    • Morris
  3. A Christian living in their own strength before achieving a more mature stage, arrived at by a `second blessing’ or something similar.
    • Holiness movements
  4. The Christian life viewed from one aspect.
    • Cranfield,
  5. A believer under the old covenant, without the Spirit.
    • Käsemann
  6. Someone on the point of becoming a Christian.
    • Lloyd Jones
  7. Hypothetical Christian under the Law.
    • Manson, Harrison
  8. The highest that can possibly be achieved by a non-Christian under the Law.
    • Ridderbos, Djaballah, Powell, Adams, Doddridge, Blocher
  9. Paul’s non-Christain experience.
    • Denny, Dodd
  10. The unbeliever in general.
    • Most Early Church Fathers, Conybeare & Howson
  11. All mankind in a mystical sense.
  • 2,3: The book is full of sharp contrasts (8:6), totally out of context to introduce this.
  • 5: Abraham was full of faith: the prototype of a believer.
  • 6: no escape, they are still on one side or the other!
  • 7:
  • 9:
  • 10: They do not delight in the Law!
  • 11: does not match earlier view of mankind being in rebellion
  • Arguments for it being about a Christian (1,4)
    • Paul uses “I” in the present
    • Here is a person who hates breaking the law (v15), wills to do good (v21) and delights in the law of God according to the inward man (v22). What could be stronger?
    • It accords with our own experience, our struggle with sin
    • It is similar to Gal 5:17 which is clearly about a Christian
    • v25 “I serve the law of God” could not be an unbeliever from 8:7
      • Pretty convincing!!!?
  • Arguments for it being about “The highest that can possibly be achieved by a non-Christian under the Law”:
    • Paul does use “I” in a figurative sense (3:7)
    • The “I” in v9 is clearly not about Paul, but a figure of speech
    • v14 cannot possibly apply to a Chrsitian. A very strong statement (1 Kings 21:20) It cannot possibly be the believer in union with Christ.
    • Here is not a person struggling with sin, but someone totally held captive by it (v14...v23)
    • The Spirit is not mentioned at all in this section
    • We can only recognise it in ourselves to a certain extent. (totally imprisoned)
    • v13 is clearly not about a Christian, but is summing up the section before. Yet v14 starts “for we know...” in explanation of v13.
    • This struggle has not been completely taken away in the life of the believer, that is what Gal 5:17 is about, but the Gal 5 passage is different in that it is the struggle between the old and new man, and there is victory.
    • 8:7 doesn’t actually say “carnal mind” in the greek, but te phrenema tos sarkes = the way of thinking of the flesh (lit),
      • The “I” of 7:25 tries to serve the law of God, but is unable to because of the flesh, so the verses agree.
    • How can it be true that Paul does not understand what is happening in him? (v15) Is he really in a state of confusion?
    • Similar to 2:14,15 where unbelievers have the law written on their hearts.
    • If it is Paul’s own experience, where is the conversion transition? The tense changes at v14 which is an explanation of v13
    • constant repetition of “I” in the passage, with almost total absence of Christ. Not Paul’s normal state!
  • To summarize, the main problems within the passage, on both sides are:
    • If it is Paul, now, how can he be “sold under sin” (v14)
    • If it is an unbeliever, how can he “delight in the law of God after the inward man”?
    • Both seem strong statements, we either have to weaken one or the other!
  • Lets look at the context to decide:
    • Christians free from sin—6:6,14,17,18,20,22; 7:5,6; 8:2,6,7,8,9
    • 7:14,23—in bondage to sin
    • cf particularly 7:23 with 8:2
  • 7:5,6 talk about 2 states, in the flesh, and in the Spirit... Which is this passage refering to?
    • v5 seems to be the rest of Romans 7 and v6, Romans 8.
  • Doddridge sums this up well:
    • A man under the law, “and sincerely desiring to please God, but finding to his sorrow, the weakness ... and last of all .. discovering the Gospel, and gaining pardon and strength, peace and joy by it. But to suppose he speaks all these things of himself, as the confirmed Christian, that he really was, when he wrote this epistle, is not only foreign, but contrary to the whole scope of his discourse, as well as to what is expressly asserted, ch 8:2
  • The purpose of this passage seems to be to show the total inability of the law to deal with sin.
    • Something greater than the law is needed: Christ (8:1) and the Spirit he has given us.
    • So what Paul seeks to do is to take the very best that the law can produce. A man who is not a Christian, but is very zealous for the law.
  • Paul shows that it is very possible for even an unbeliver to “delight in the law”
    • Romans 9:31 “but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of r.”
    • 10:2 “ they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge”
    • Acts 22:3 “I am indeed a Jew... and was zealous toward God as you all are today”
    • Gal 1:14 (similar)
    • Phil 3:6 “concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless”
  • Can an unbeliever really fit this passage?
    • Quote from David Brainerd (J. Edwards Works, vol 2, p.317)
    • Quote from John Bunyon, Grace abounding §30
  • Many unbelievers have the idea that they have a good side and a bad side which are struggling.
    • It is a universal concept. What Paul is saying here is that without the Spirit, the “good” side will always lose.
    1. Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not!
      But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good,
      so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.
    2. For we know that the law is spiritual,
      but I am fleshy, sold under sin.
    3. For what I am doing, I do not understand.
          For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.
      1. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.
      2. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
    1. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells;
      • establishes the goodness of the law and holds before us what it means to be sold under sin
      • Paul is not dividing man up into 2 parts. Rather is is one and the same person which is being considered from two different perspectives
      • now goes on to focus on the principle found
      • for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
      1. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
      2. Now if I do what I will not to do,
        it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
    1. I find then a law, that evil is present with me,
      the one who wills to do good.
    2. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
    3. 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.
    4. O wretched man that I am!
      Who will deliver me from this body of death?
    5. 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.
    • “law” can be used to mean a principle, an inescapable pattern, as in another law, law of sin
    • There are 2 powers: “I” = inward man = the mind, and SIN
    • v24 anticipates 8:1, it is as if he cannot hold back.
    • v25 concludes the section.


  • Sometimes the note of victory can be so absent from the Christian life that they can think that defeat is the normal way.
    • What sort of “normal” are we accepting? Romans is a book ringing with the cry of victory, especially the climax in the next chapter. Are we cheating ourselves by not allowing ourselves to believe what God has done for us?
      • Although Romans 7 is not about the normal life of a Christian, a believer can very easily start to behave like that, and the passage can be applied to the believer. (as it is in Gal 5:17)
      • It applies to anyone who is living “in the flesh”.
  • Does the law have any value to us?
    • We need the law so that we know what living in the flesh means. It seems we have to be told the character of the two ways of living:
    • Read Galatians 5:16-26.
    • The function of the law is to mark out the negative side, the way of the flesh.
    • It is totally inadequate to characterize the fruit of the Spirit.
  • 1 Tim 1:8,9
    • We shouldn’t get into the legalistic way of thinking that says we can please God by keeping a set of rules very carefully and exactly.
    • He does not wish to be served out of duty, but out of joy and fullness.
    • God is not counting up our failings, but waiting to welcome us as his dearly beloved children
  • A final application: This could also be applied to someone seeking God. They need to be pointed to Christ in Chapter 8.

2h - Romans 8 - Freed from the law, nothing can separate us from the love of God

  1. [8:1-17] Victory in Christ through the Spirit
    1. [8:1-4] Christ has freed us from the law
    2. [8:5-11] Christ lives in you through the Spirit
    3. [8:12-17] Let by the Spirit to cry “Abba”
    4. [8:18-25] Our hope of Glory
    5. [8:26-27] The Spirit’s help in prayer
    6. [8:28-30] Chosen and loved
  2. [8:31-39] Conclusion: Nothing can separate us from the love of God

Part 3 [9:1-11:36] God’s Future for Israel

Paul now turns his attention to the problem of why God's plans for Israel seem to have failed, and what God's ultimate purpose for them is.

3b - Romans 9-11 - God's Future for Israel (detailed notes)

  • Our understanding of this difficult passage must fit in with the context
    • i.e. the argument and purpose of the section.
    • The purpose is to show how Israel fits into God’s plan of salvation.
  • Connection with what has gone before
    • The theme of the book in 1:16,17 needs an answer to the “for the Jew first and also for the Greek”
    • The subject of election has been briefly mentioned (1:6,7; 8:28-33) and needed explaining.
    • Romans 3:1-3 and 9:6 point forward to 9-11
    • Romans 1:18-2:29 is resolved first by chapters 3-8 and then chapters 9-11 resolve the other issues.
    • Some say that chapters 9-11 parallel chapter 3.
  • The problem:
    • “how is it that Gentiles are entering into the promises to Abraham so readily while most of his own people to whom the promises were given seem to be missing out?” (Dunn)
    • The answers are in B, C & D below.

A. [9:1-5] Introduction—Paul is grieved by Israel’s’ rejection of the Gospel

  • Does Paul really want to be “cut off from Christ”?
    • Does he love the Jews more than he loves Christ?
    • Is there anyone else in Scripture who spoke like this?
  • To emphasise the seriousness of the statements, Paul uses the very effective method of saying everything twice.
    • It really comes across how weighty and important it is.
      • I tell the truth in Christ,         I am not lying,
        my conscience also bearing me witness         in the Holy Spirit,
        that I have great sorrow         and continual grief in my heart.
        For I could wish that I myself were accursed         [separated] from Christ
        for my brethren,         my kinsmen according to the flesh,
  • In the Greek, the next six lines all end with a similar sound, giving a poetic force to the words.
    1. who are Israelites,
          to whom pertain the adoption,
          the glory,
          the covenants,
          the giving of the law,
          the service of God,
          and the promises;
    2. of whom are the fathers and
      from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came,
      who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.
  • Paul’s strong wording here prepares the reader for the terrible things he will say about Israel in the next chapters.
    • It pre-empts the charge of being anti-Israel, and demonstrates his tact and sensitivity.
    • There is an allusion to Ex. 32:32 where Moses prays to be blotted out of God’s book for his people’s sake.
    • Paul is almost putting himself in Moses’ place and his love and self-sacrifice alongside that of Moses. Note:
      1. He does not say wish but could wish.
      2. The context is his feelings, not a precise theological statement. “There is something within me that would give myself in the place of my people”.
      3. The context of 8:38,39 shows that the reality of his union with Christ is so firm that this statement here is just a strong figure of speech.
    • This great list emphasises the mercy that God has shown them, and prepares against the criticism that God’s election is not merciful.

B. [9:6-29] Not all Israel are of Israel—God’s sovereignty (Israel has no automatic right)

  1. [6-9] Paul needs to explain the current spiritual state of Israel. Has God failed?
    • No, because he never intended to save every single child of Abraham anyway
      • This can be proved from the case of Ishmael
    • Two questions: How is his word to be performed and Who are the true seed of Abraham?
  2. [10-13] In order to answer these two questions, Paul needs to talk about election
    • Jacob & Esau are an even better example than Isaac & Ishmael
    • They were twins, and God had elected one of them before they were born
    • However, The Genesis account tells how much care God took over Esau
      • How can that be consistent with “hating” ?
      • hating is simply in comparison with the love to Jacob, not to be taken by itself
        • “not the one on whom God has set his love”.
    • The basic principle is that God has the right to make promises to some and not to others—because they have not earned it anyway!
  3. [14-18] Now Paul has to counter an accusation against God. Election is not fair!
    • He replies with two quotes from the O.T.
    • God is free to have mercy on any that he chooses, and may harden any by withdrawing mercy.
    • The first quote is very significant because it is part of God’s revelation of his glory and his name to Moses.
      • Mercy is the core of God’s being. Who can dare to call him unjust?
      • No-one deserves it so no-one can claim it. (“who runs”=“who tries by his own effort”)
    • The second quote is stronger, and brings with it the negative aspect.
      • Does God force anyone to sin? No!
        • So what does this mean? How should we understand it?
      • God’s saving power was shown in the Exodus, and in the 10 plagues that preceded it.
      • Exodus repeatedly says that Pharaoh hardened himself,
      • but Rom. 1 tells us that God punishes people for sin by giving them over to more sin.
      • The hardening is therefore Pharaoh’s fault, a punishment from God.
    • Hardening here is seen as the opposite of mercy.
      • When God withdraws mercy, it results in hardening.
      • Another example would be King Saul
  4. [19-23] There is another protest from the imaginary listener about God’s fairness
    • the picture of the potter is presented.
    • Who can question his right to do anything he wants?
    • Yet he has mercy and shows forth his power in salvation
    • The illustration of the potter is brought in to show how ridiculous it is to reply against God.
      • (dishonour = pot for a very lowly use.)
    • But God is not actually a hard-hearted potter (although he has a right to be), but is longsuffering.
      • The reference is to Jer. 18:1-6 where the potter is ready to re-make the spoiled pot into a good one.
  5. [24-26] Having dealt with the objections to election, he returns to the original questions
    • Having dealt with the objections to election, he returns to the question of who God has loved and called to be his children:
      • the Gentiles as well as Jews.. See above in 1. and 2. the references to call (counted) [9:7,11], children of God [9:8], and loved [9:13].
    • The true seed include the Gentiles
      • God has a right to extend mercy to the Gentiles as well as the Jews and call them his sons
  6. [27-29] But God will also save a remnant of Israel, bringing to pass his word
    • Now the original questions may be answered (v6,7):
      • How will God’s word be performed;
      • Who are the true seed.
    • Not only the Gentiles, but God will perform his word by saving a remnant of Israel. (This is expanded in ch. 11).
      • The word for work in the original is literally “word” as in 1. [9:6]
    • Compare with 9:6,7 and see how 6. answers them.

C. [9:30-10:21] Israel has “missed the Gospel” and is totally without excuse

  1. [9:30-33] Israel tried to gain righteousness through the law
    • This section is full of contrasts.
      • 9:30 as against 9:31-33
  2. [10:1-4] They had a lot of zeal for their own way of serving God, but rejected Christ
  3. [10:5-13] The Gospel is not about self-effort but is about believing and trusting
    • The point of 10:5-8 is that the gospel is not hard, it is easy
      • So they do not have the excuse of complaining it is too hard for them!
    • 10:9-13 puts the gospel in a nutshell
  4. [10:14-21] God has constantly reached out to them, but they rejected him
    • They cannot give the excuse that they haven’t heard!
    • The conclusion to the problem is that it is their own stubborness [10:21]

D. [11:1-32] but God has purpose for Israel that will demonstrate his kindness & mercy

  1. [1-6] Even now there is a remnant saved (including Paul!)
    • v1 starts with “I ask then” or “I say then” (legō oun, mē) similar to 10:18,19 and 11:11, tying them all together.
    • The the questions in 10:18,19 raise the question in 11:1 about whether the Jews have indeed been cast away.
    • v1 God would hardly have chosen a Jew to be his special apostle to the Gentiles, had he cast off his people, the Jews.
      • “Tribe of Benjamin:” simply that he may be regarded as a true Israelite.
    • 1 Sam 12:18-22 —promise never to cast away his people.
    • Ps 94:14 —similar promise
    • v5-6 The very fact that it is a remnant “according to the election of grace”, and therefore not a remnant “standing by its own deserving”, makes its existence full of promise for the rest of the nation, a pledge of God’s continuing interest.
  2. [7-10] But many are hardened
  3. [11-15] Yet God has a purpose—to bring salvation to a greater number of people
    • If the present exclusion of the majority of Jews means so rich a benefit for the Gentiles,
      • what glory shall accompany their final restoration?
    • Purpose: to warn the Gentiles at Rome against an unchristian attitude to the Jews.
    • v12: fullness refers to full and completed number as against remnant.
    • v15 the reconciling of the world is the actual death and resurrection of Christ (Rom 5:10,11),
      • The casting away of the Jews is their rejection in the same event.
    • life from the dead must surpass salvation of v11.
    • v15 “life from the dead” —There seems to be a sequence:
      1. Jews reject and Gentiles receive the gospel
      2. Jews are accepted back (mass revival?)
      3. The final resurrection as Christ returns
  4. [16-24] Picture of root and branches—Gentiles should not be complacent
    • v16 picture of offering a cake from the first of the dough (Numb. 15:17-21)
      • The first fruit is the patriarchs, as is the root in the second illustration
    • There is a pattern in these verses:
      1. Natural branches broken off and wild ones grafted in [17,18]
        1. It was because of unbelief they were broken off, and the grafting in is by faith [19-20]
          1. Don’t be proud because you could suffer the same fate [21]
            1. Consider God’s goodness and his severity [22]
            1. Severity on the unbelievers, but goodness towards you
          1. Don’t be proud because you could suffer the same fate
        1. If they have faith they will be grafted in again [23]
      1. Natural branches will be grafted back in again to their own roots [24]
  5. [25-32] Future revival among the Jews, in God’s grace and mercy
    • Three separate stages in the divine plan:
      1. hardening in part has happened to Israel
      2. until the “fullness of the Gentiles” has come in.
      3. And so all Israel will be saved,
    • hardening in part has happened to Israel
      • Not all Jews were hardened
    • until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
      • ending the period of time during which it is mainly Gentiles being saved
    • And so (in this way) all Israel will be saved,
    • In this order, opposite to the order in which the Gospel message was offered (1:16).
    • What does “all Israel” mean?
      1. all elect
      2. all elect of Israel
      3. every single Jew alive at the time
      4. the nation as a whole, so that Israel becomes essentially Christian
    • my opinion:
      1. rejected: cannot understand Israel different to v25, especially in view of the sustained contrast between Israel and Gentiles throughout vv. 11-32.
      2. Also to be rejected, since the truth would be so obvious as to be an anticlimax. v12, v15 and the grafting references point to more.
      3. Impossible to define who is a Jew. The word all is often used in Greek qualitatively, rather than a strict numerical quantity (e.g. “all Judea went out to hear John preach”)
      4. is the most likely. Praise God!

E. [11:33-36] Conclusion: To him be the glory forever.

  • A song format in the original

3c - The Flow of Argument Regarding Election [9:6-23]

  • The problem the Jews has was that they regarded God’s blessing at their birthright
    • God owed it to them to bless them
  • In order to deal with them, Paul needs to point out the difference between
    • what is a free gift and what is a right
    • If someone gives a gift, then they can chose whom to give it to
  • Abraham was given a promise and this was to apply to his “seed” as well
    • But God is free to chose which child to give the gift to
    • If this were not true, then it woundn’t really be a free gift, but earned
  • We must be very clear that God was extremely kind to Esau and blessed him massively
    • (This is also true of Ishmael)
  • So the expression “Esau I hated” must be taken as comparative with Jacob, for the sake of emphasis

The argument flows like this:

  1. Because of the Jewish misconceptions, Paul needs to discuss election
    • otherwise it looks like God’s promises have failed
  2. The promise to Abraham didn’t apply to all his physical children
    • only the promised one, Isaac
  3. The promise then fell on Jacob
    • but this was nothing to do with his performance else it would be works, not grace
  4. This raises the question: Is God unjust not to treat everyone the same?
    • No, God has a right to give out his gifts of mercy to whomever he desires—it is his gift
  5. If God choses not to show mercy on someone, then they become “hard”
    • the way it is written could look like God’s fault that Pharaoh is hard
      • this is the hardest bit of the whole passage!!!
    • but Exodus tells us he hardened himself willingly
      • Here we up against the mystery of Pharaoh’s free will, and God’s overall sovereignty
      • both of them are true—God never compelled Pharaoh in any way, but showed only grace to him
      • however God is said to have “hardened him” —God “gave up” communicating with him in the end, which allowed him to go his own way
      • Parents might reluctantly give up trying to discipline a rebellious teenager
        • This action could cause the teenager to go into sin, but they are still responsible
    • Nobody forced Pharaoh to take the actions he did—it was from his own free volition
      • Yet doing what he did allowed God to give Israel the greatest picture of freedom from Satan’s power
    • There was a free choice about who was on the ark or not—Noah didn’t have to turn anyone away
      • God punished them all with destruction, but it was their own fault
      • Yet it was all in God’s plan
  6. In God’s sovereign plan, even rebellious people end up by causing good things to happen
    • Just because God used Pharaoh’s evil to accomplish so much good, doesn’t mean Pharaoh should be rewarded
    • e.g. Judas!
    • The same logic would reward Satan for his evil which allows God’s love to shine so brightly
  7. How then can God punish such a person, since good came of it?
    • God has a right to do what he likes, just like a potter
      • But God is not actually a hard-hearted potter (although he has a right to be), but is longsuffering.
    • Some people have come up with the idea of “double predestination”. Two reasons why not taught here:
      1. Paul does not say “God Does”, but “what if God”
      2. different words are chosen to describe the two groups.
        • The first is prepared (Greek: made-ready) for destruction
        • while the second is prepared beforehand, a different word in Greek.
      • Although the effect of God choosing some must mean that others are damned, it is not the same as saying that God has chosen some for damnation.

3d - Election, God's Fairness and Man’s Responsibility

Sovereign Grace how do we reconcile them? Man’s Responsibility

Verses that support Sovereign Grace

  • Jn. 6:37 All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
  • John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.
  • John 6:65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.”
  • Jn. 15:16 “You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you.”
  • Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honoured the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
  • Acts 16:14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.
  • Gal. 1:15,16 But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother’s womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood . . .
  • Plus account of Paul’s salvation
  • Eph. 1:4,5 He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. 5 In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will . . .
  • In particular: Romans 9:11-24 “...For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills...
  • Romans 11:5-10 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever.”

Verses that suggest God does not have a choice

  • 2 Pet. 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
  • 1 Tim. 2:4 God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Verses that speak of God “forknowing

  • Rom 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;
  • 1 Pet. 1:1,2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.

Verses that indicate we have a choice

  • Josh 24:15 “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
  • Virtually every time the Gospel is preached

Holding Sovereign Grace and Man’s Responsibility in tension

  • David Ruis: “It’s not about balance, I hate the word balance, its about keeping these truths in tensionCatch the Fire, 2005
  • The problem is to not to let go of either truth
  • Dangers of under-emphasis of man’s responsibility
    • become fatalistic
    • fail to preach the gospel (because people are too dead spiritually to respond)
    • lack of evangelism or missions
    • become very passive in the Christian life
  • Dangers of under-emphasis of God’s sovereignty
    • fail to pray for people’s salvation
    • more trust in techniques than the Holy Spirit
    • can become very performance orientated
    • can lead to striving “if you don’t persuade them to accept Christ, then it will be your fault they are in hell”
    • put a guilt trip on parents whose children are not believers
  • We need to make sure we keep hold of both truths
    • “We must chose God, but in the end we discover that it is he who chose us after all” TACF Sunday morning, Sean Connigan, 2003
  • One of the ways of thinking that I find helpful, is that election is “outside of this universe”
    • God chose us before the world was created
    • We will not know exactly who he chose until after this world is ended
    • Within this world, we have absolutely no way of knowing who is elect
      • In some ways this information is “outside of time” because there is no time with God
    • Everybody is a candidate for salvation
  • Other truths are “outside of time” and we handle those ok
    • God knows the exact day we will die—does that mean we can be careless driving?
    • He knows what grades we are going to get—so we don’t need to bother working?
  • Almost every time predestination is mentioned in the N.T., the purpose is to comfort us
    • I am loved and chosen
    • It is not dependent on my performance
    • I do not believe that “double predestination” is taught in the N.T.

Even people who say they don’t believe in Sovereign Grace usually do in their hearts and are quite happy to sing songs like:

Martin Smith (Delirious)
Oh, lead me to the place where I can find you.
Oh, lead me to the place where you’ll be.
Lead me to the cross where we first met.
Draw me to my knees, so we can talk.
Let me feel your breath,
Let me know you’re here with me.
John Newton
Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
was blind, but now I see.

T’was grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear,
the hour I first believed!

Tim Hughes
Beautiful One I love you
Beautiful One I adore
Beautiful One my soul must sing

You opened my eyes to your wonders anew
You captured my heart with this love
‘Cause nothing on earth is as beautiful as you

Tim Hughes
Light of the world you stepped down into darkness
Opened my eyes, let me see
Beauty that made this heart adore you
Hope of a life spent with you
So here I am to worship, here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that you’re my God
You’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me

Conversation between John Wesley & Charles Simeon

  • “Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?
  • Yes, I do indeed.
  • And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?
  • Yes, solely through Christ.
  • But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?
  • No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.
  • Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?
  • No.
  • What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother’s arms?
  • Yes, altogether.
  • And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?
  • Yes, I have no hope but in Him.
  • Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree.” (Moule, 79f)

Ultimately this is Mystery

Once Saved Always Saved?

  • There are two perspectives that are both true
God’s Perspective both are true Our Perspective
God sees the heart
and knows if a person is truly saved
  We only see the appearance,
like the parable of the wheat and the tares
God chose us and will keep us by his grace and power
It is nothing to do with our performance
  We make a real choice to follow him
From a human perspective people really do fall away
If a person is united to Christ, they can never lose that,
but are secure for eternity
  We can never “see” their unity with Christ, but only the fruit of it
  • If someone who claims to be a Christian goes on to reject Christ, then ultimately they could not have been truly saved
  • However, the Scriptures give us many examples of people who manifested the Spirit externally but were not true believers
    • King Saul prophecied
    • Judas must have healed people
    • Jesus said in Matthew 7:
      1. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
      2. And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
  • But we can never be sure this side of eternity—It is not uncommon for someone to backslide for years, even decades and then come back to Christ. Only God knows the heart.
  • We are only responsible to respond to what we see:
    • If they are bringing forth good fruit, accept them as a believer
    • If they are living a life of sin, then preach the Gospel to them!

Part 4: [12-16] The life that Pleases God - How the New Covenant People Should Live

Paul concluded Romans by telling us how the people of the New Covenant should live. What kind of laws do they obey? How do they relate to government? How do they function as a group?

Holiness and Love

This material is not organized as formal lecture notes, but is available in two sets of sermon notes:

The Christian Sabbath

  • The Question: Are all the commandments regarding the Sabbath in the Old Testament binding on us?

Arguments for

  • Creation ordinance
  • 10 Commandments:
    • Moral
    • Ceremonial
    • Civil
  • The O.T. Prophets spoke very strongly
    • Isa 58:13 “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; 14 then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
  • Jesus rose from the dead on the 1st day, making it the start of the New Creation
  • Many people through the ages have been blessed by keeping it (and honoured by God)
  • It is healthy to rest one day in 7
  • The N.T. church met on the “Lord’s Day”

Arguments against

  • God rested at creation, but no command to keep it till the wilderness
    • Abraham didn’t keep the Sabbath
    • First mention was with giving of mana and was a total surprise
  • Ex 31:13 the Sabbath is the sign of the Covenant of Moses
  • Must be consistent:
    • Evening to evening
    • no cooking at all! or even heating
    • Didn’t have to go to church!
  • The main point was rest, which required faith in that society, to rest and see God provide all their needs.
  • no 3-part division
  • the other 9 are all repeated
  • This passage in Rom 14:5f
  • Col 2:16
  • Heb 3:7f
  • “Come unto me all you that labour and are heavy laden...”
  • Any command to meet together?
  • Jesus was “Lord of the Sabbath”
    • chose to do miracles on the 7th day
    • because they pointed to him as the fulfillment, the one who brought freedom
    • “A greater than David is here”

Is Sunday special in any way?

  • Yes, we remember Jesus’ victory. But not in any legalistic way

Closing greetings [15:14-16:27]

A. [15:14-33] Paul’s plans to be with them and blessings

B. [16:1-23] Closing greetings to individuals

C. [16:24-27] Final benediction