Monthly Archives: January 2016

Romans 2

On Wednesday, January 27, we will discuss chapter two of Paul’s letter to the Romans, in the New Testament of the Bible.

After introducing the problem of universal sin, and introducing the Gospel of Jesus, the Savior of the world (see introduction to Romans 1), the apostle Paul now warns his readers of three possible misinterpretations of these introductory concepts. The warnings are particularly leveled against those with Jewish backgrounds; however, the truth of the warnings are universally applicable. (See verse 12.)

First, Paul stands firmly against those who understand God’s judgment and assume that it doesn’t apply to them, so they judge others. Paul is not here speaking of judgment in the sense of wisely distinguishing between what is right and wrong, and choosing carefully. He is speaking of the sort of judgment that belongs to God—that of righteously determining those whose wickedness will result in his “wrath and fury,” and his pouring out “tribulation and distress” upon those who do evil.

Stained glass of Moses holding the tablets of the Law; click through image to source
Stained glass of Moses holding the tablets of the Law; click through image to source

Second, the apostle warns those who believe that they are righteous law-keepers, because they misunderstand God’s law. Paul nullifies misinterpretations of the law with these points:

  • “…it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified”*; and
  • “…no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.”* Those who are outwardly circumcised1 but disobey God’s law in their hearts are hypocrites for condemning others. That is why this chapter says so much about hypocrisy. (See verses 1, 3, 21-22, and 27.)

Finally, inspired by the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul opposes the heretical view of the Gospel that assumes the grace of God is a license to sin. In the 4th verse, Paul indicates that “…God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.”* A deliberate refusal to repent of an ungodly lifestyle would exclude us from the mercy shown to those who have turned to Jesus Christ as their savior. For this reason, the apostle speaks of the wrath, fury, tribulation, and distress that will come to those who obey unrighteousness.

Paul is not contradicting his preaching that salvation is a gracious gift from God. He is teaching us that God’s gracious salvation package includes a new lifestyle of repentance. Without this genuine salvation, we would be judged by our works, which would result in condemnation.


Footnote

  1. Circumcision was the sign of the covenant (promise and agreement) that God made with Abraham in Genesis 17. A comprehensive discussion of the covenant is beyond the scope of this brief post. However, it is worth mentioning that circumcision marked the Jews as God’s covenant children, meaning that the promise was theirs for the taking. The apostle Paul intends to show that this sign, in itself, does not ensure one’s right standing with God any more than a presumptive outward adherence to the law would.

Romans 1

Introduction to the first chapter of the letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome.  (circa 57AD)

 

Paul begins by introducing himself.  He is a servant of Jesus Christ and an apostle.  These are qualities that give him authority to proclaim the truth of God’s message, and then also to demand respect or attention back.

He is a servant of Jesus Christ.  Not just any Jesus, but he who was Christ – that means “anointed”.  It is His message that he brings.  Paul goes on to describe Jesus Christ as having been promised in the time throughout the Old Testament days.  As one who had dual natures.  Paul explains that as to his human nature he was the son of King David, but as to his divine nature he was called the Son of God.  This dual nature of Christ is important when we talk about who can possible take away the sins of the world.

Paul then goes on to explain that he had longed to come to Rome for a long time, but was prevented from doing so.  It is a good indication that Paul did not do all the work just on his own, but that God directed his path.  We see in other places where God for example urges Paul to go to Macedonia.  So Paul was a tool in the hand of God to bring the message of salvation to the Gentiles  (Non-Jews). Paul then ends this portion of the letter with a beautiful description of this task

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,[a] just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”[b]

 

At this point Paul begins bringing his message of salvation. From verse 18 on, he begins to expound the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  He begins with explaining why we need a saviour.  He begins to point out why God is angry.  Paul points out that mankind could easily know God, because he can be seen in all of creation, and in the way he continues to govern the universe.  So men are without excuse.  But instead of glorifying and thanking God, man chose to live apart from God.  They traded in the wisdom that God had given them for foolishness.  Instead of serving a living and almighty God they made images of animals and other created things to worship.  They worshipped creatures instead of the creator.  Since they did not deem God’s gifts worthy of them, God gave them over to their own desires and lusts.  They did unspeakable things with one another as a result plunged themselves into all kinds of sins, further and further away from God’s will and wisdom.  This of course applies to all of us, and is the reason why we all need salvation.

 

We can see many of the things that Paul talks about in our society all around us.  Not only those who do the sins, but also those who approve of them.  In this respect we can talk about abortion, gay rights, war, poverty, drugs and many other sins.  We must however remember that there is no degree of sin.  All sin is wrong, so it it not my intent to pick on gays  or abortion as only being wrong, but also many other things such as gluttony etc.  We all have sinned and so we all stand in need of salvation through Jesus Christ.

 

After this introduction you may have some questions and you may pose those on the chat at this website.  Every Wednesday from 7:30 to 8:30 we gather with anyone who wants to join to discuss yours and other questions.

Is this the year?

Many thoughts swirl through our minds as one year fades away and another begins.  Memories  – good and bad – of the year just past mixed with questions about the year ahead.Is this the year?

Is this the year of new beginnings … a new career, a new marriage, a new baby?

Is this the year of endings…a job you never liked, children leaving home, the death of a loved one?

Is this the year?

Is this the year of global stability…or of global calamity?

OR is this the year when you take the time to confront some of the big questions in your life?

Why am I here?

Where am I going?

Does it even matter?

Is this the year you discover God’s meaning for your life? It could be.  Read your Bible; pray to  God; join a Bible study; come to church.  This could be the year that will make the difference for  all eternity!

God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son that whoever believes on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life! (John 3:16)

By Sarah & Lyn