Yesterday I began teaching Romans in one of the adult Sunday school classes in the church of which I am a member. Here are the notes I gave out to supplement the lesson. Please take time to study them through. Don’t rush – there a lot of material here. Read Romans 1:1-17 first, then the material on the importance of the book, then go through Romans 1:1-17 looking back and forth from the notes to the Scripture. Romans is well worth the effort. God bless you.
Because of Calvary,
Romans 1:1-17 (ESV)
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF ROMANS
“…When this letter arrived in Rome, hardly anyone read it, certainly no one of influence. There was much to read in Rome — imperial decrees, exquisite poetry, finely crafted moral philosophy — and much of it was world-class. And yet in no time, as such things go, this letter left all those other writings in the dust. Paul’s letter to the Romans has had a far larger impact on its readers than the volumes of all those Roman writers put together…. This letter…has become the premier document of Christian theology.” [Eugene H. Peterson, The Message, (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1993), p. 303]
“…It is a striking fact that whenever there has been a really great revival in the Christian Church, it has been associated with the rediscovery by someone…of the essential message of Romans.” [Archibald M. Hunter, Introducing the New Testament, Second Edition, (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1957), p. 96]
“The history of the Christian church is…witness to the fact that the Epistle to the Romans has in a peculiar way been able to supply the impulse for the renewal of Christianity. When man has slipped away from the gospel, a deep study of Romans has often been the means by which the lost has been recovered. It is enough to recall what the epistle meant, in such connection, to Augustine or to the men of the Reformation…. What the gospel is, what the content of the Christian faith is, one learns to know in the Epistle to the Romans as in no other place of the New Testament.” [Anders Nygren, Commentary on Romans translated by Carl C. Rasmussen, (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1949). p. 3]
“Coleridge calls the Epistle to the Romans ‘the profoundest book in existence.’ Chrysostom, had it read to him twice a week. Luther, in his famous preface, says, ‘This Epistle is the chief book of the New Testament, the purest gospel. It deserves not only to be known word for word by every Christian, but to be the subject of his meditation day by day, the daily bread of his soul…. The more time one spends on it, the more precious it becomes and the better it appears. Melancthon, in order to make it perfectly his own, copied it twice with his own hand. It is the book which he expounded most frequently in his lectures. The Reformation was undoubtedly the work of the Epistle to the Romans, as well as of that to the Galatians; and the probability is that every great spiritual revival in the church will be connected as effect and cause with a deeper understanding of this book…. ‘What book of the New Testament,’ says Meyer, in his preface to the fifth edition of his commentary, ‘less entitles the expositor to spare his pains than this, the greatest and richest of all the apostolic works?’… M. de Pressenaé has called the great dogmatic works of the Middle ages ‘the cathedrals of thought.’ The Epistle to the Romans is the cathedral of the Christian faith.” [Frederic Louis Godet, Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1883), p. 1]
“In a very basic sense Western civilization is a by-product of Paul’s epistle to the Romans…. Nothing written by man has had a greater impact upon modern history than this epistle…” [Richard Halverson, The Gospel for the Whole of Life, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1964), p. 17]
“…When any one understands this Epistle, he has a passage opened to him to the understanding of the whole Scripture.” [John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries XIX, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, n.d.), p. xxiv]
“…When any one gains a knowledge of this Epistle, he has an entrance opened to him to all the most hidden treasures of Scripture.” [Calvin’s Commentaries XIX, p. xxviii]
“Romans is the grandest treatise on grace ever written.” [Max Lucado, In the Grip of Grace: He Will Love You Forever, (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1996), p. xiii]
“In the summer of AD 386 Aurelius Augustinus, native of Tagaste in North Africa, and now for two years Professor of Rhetoric at Milan, sat weeping in the garden of his friend Alypius, almost persuaded to begin a new life, yet lacking the final resolution to break with the old. As he sat, he heard a child singing in a neighboring house, Tolle, lege! Tolle, lege! (‘Take up and read! take up and read!’). Taking up the scroll which lay at his friend’s side. He let his eyes rest on the words: ‘not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof’ (Rom. xiii.13b-14). ‘No further would I read,’ he tells us, ‘nor had I any need; instantly, at the end of this sentence, a clear light flooded my head and all the darkness of doubt vanished away.’ [Confessions viii.29] What the Church and the world owe to this influx of light which illuminated Augustine’s mind as he read these words of Paul is something beyond our power to compute.
“In November 1515, Martin Luther, Augustinian monk and Professor of Sacred Theology in the University of Wittenberg, began to expound Paul’s Epistle to the Romans to his students and continued this course until the following September. As he prepared his lectures, he came more and more to appreciate the centrality of the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith. ‘I greatly longed to understand Paul’s Epistle to the Romans,’ he wrote, ‘and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, “the righteousness of God”, because I took it to mean that righteousness whereby God is righteous and deals righteously in punishing the unrighteous…. Night and day I pondered until…I grasped the truth that the righteousness of God is that righteousness whereby, through grace and sheer mercy, he justifies us by faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before “the righteousness of God” had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gateway to heaven.’ [Luther’s Works, Weimar edition, Vo. 54, pp. 179ff.] The consequences of this new insight which Martin Luther gained from the study of Romans are writ large in history.
“In the evening of 24 May 1738, John Wesley ‘went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine,’ he wrote in his journal, ‘while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for my salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken my sins away, even mine; and saved me from the law of sin and death.’ That critical moment in John Wesley’s life was the event above all others which launched the Evangelical Revival of the eighteenth century.”[F. F. Bruce, “The Epistle of Paul to the Romans,” The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1963), p. 58-59]
“’Romans’ is the most systematic of all Paul’s Epistles, and its importance cannot possibly be exaggerated. Coleridge called it ‘the most profound writing extant.’ Godet spoke of it as ‘the greatest masterpiece which the human mind has ever conceived and realized; the first logical exposition of the work of God in Christ for the salvation of the world.’ Luther described it as ‘the chief part of the New Testament, and the perfect gospel.’ Calvin said that ‘every Christian man should feed upon it as the daily bread of his soul.’ Tholuck called it ‘a Christian philosophy of human history.’ Meyer of Hanover described it as ‘the greatest and richest of all the Apostolic works.’ Farrar said, ‘it is unquestionably the clearest and fullest statement of the doctrines of sin and deliverance from it, as held by the greatest of the Apostles.’ Chrysostom used to have it read to him twice every week. And one more testimony: William Tyndale wrote, ‘Forasmuch as this Epistle is…a light and way unto the whole Scripture, I think it meet that every Christian man not only know it by rote and without the book, but also exercise himself therein evermore continually, as with the daily bread of the soul. No man verily can read it too often, or study it too well; for the more it is studied, the easier it is; the more it is chewed, the pleasanter it is; and the more groundly it is searched, the preciouser things are found in it, so great treasure of spiritual things lieth hid therein.’
“If this is what such men thought of the Epistle to the Romans, for any Christian not to have an intimate acquaintance with it, is something to be ashamed of, and to be remedied without delay.” [W. Graham Scroggie, Salvation and Behavior Romans 1-8; 12-15, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1952), p. 8]
“This epistle is really the chief part of the New Testament, and is truly the purest gospel. It is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but also that he should occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. We can never read it or ponder over it too much; for the more we deal with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes.” [Martin Luther, “Preface to the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans,” Luther’s Works XXXV, (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1955-1967), p. 365]
“Wherefore it appeareth evidently, that Paul’s mind was to comprehend briefly in this epistle all the whole learning of Christ’s gospel, and to prepare an introduction unto all the Old Testament. For without doubt whosoever hath this epistle perfectly in his heart, the same hath the light and the effect of the Old Testament with him. Wherefore let every man without exception exercise himself therein diligently, and record it night and day continually, until he be full acquainted therewith.” [William Tyndale’s prologue to Romans in the 1534 edition of his English New Testament in Bruce, p. 9]
“…The Epistle to the Romans is the very marrow of lions to the taste of faith.” [Alexander Whyte, The Apostle Paul, (Edinburgh: Oliphant Anderson and Ferrier, 1903), p. 218]
“…Paul, writing without any of the aids of human wisdom, draws his precepts from the fountain of heavenly truth, and inculcates on the disciples of Jesus a code of duties, which, if habitually practiced by mankind, would change the world from what it is ― a scene of strife, jealousy, and division ― and make it what it was before the entrance of sin, a paradise fit for the Lord to visit, and for man to dwell in.” [Robert Haldane, “Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans,” The Geneva Series of Commentaries, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1874), p. 14]
FOR FURTHER STUDY OF ROMANS
John R. W. Stott, “Romans: God’s Good News for the World,” The Bible Speaks Today, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994)
Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988)
Charles Hodge, “A Commentary on Romans,” The Geneva Series of Commentaries, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1864)
John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1959, 1965)
THE INTRODUCTION TO ROMANS
“During the winter of AD 56-57, which he spent at Corinth in the home of his friend and convert Gaius, he looked forward (with some misgivings) to a visit which had to be paid to Jerusalem in the immediate future — for he had to see to the handing over to the elders of the church there of a gift of money which he had been organizing for some years past among his Gentile converts, a gift which he hoped would strengthen the bonds between the mother church in Judaea and the churches of the Gentiles.
“But when that business had been transacted, Paul looked forward to the launching of a….mission in….Spain, the oldest Roman colony in the west and the chief bastion of Roman civilization in those parts.
“But a journey to Spain would afford him the opportunity of gratifying a long-standing ambition — the ambition to see Rome…. During the early days of AD 57, therefore, he dictated to his friend Tertius — a Christian secretary perhaps placed at his disposal by his host Gaius — a letter destined for the Roman Christians.” [Bruce, p. 11-12]
“According to Acts ii.10 the crowd of pilgrims who were present in Jerusalem for the Pentecost festival of AD 30, and heard Peter preach the gospel, included ‘visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes’ (RSV)…. It may be significant that the Roman visitors are the only European contingent to receive express mention among the pilgrims.
“In any case, all roads led to Rome, and once Christianity had been securely established in Palestine and the neighboring territories, it was inevitable that it should be carried to Rome. Within a year or two, if not, as Foakes-Jackson thought, ‘by the autumn following the Crucifixion, it is quite as possible that Jesus was honored in the Jewish community at Rome as that He was at Damascus’ [Peter, Prince of Apostles (1927)…. It was evidently members of the Christian rank and file who first carried the gospel to Rome and planted it there — probably in the Jewish community of the capital.” [Bruce, p. 13]
“But in AD 57 the Christians in Rome included Gentiles as well as Jews, although Paul reminds the Gentile Christians that the base of the community is Jewish, and that they must not despise it even if they outnumber it (Rom. xi.18).” [Bruce, p. 15]
I. The Author (1:1-6)
“The beginning of an ancient letter was divided, like ‘all Gaul’, into three parts: the sender’s name, the recipients, and a greeting: for example…(Acts 23:26). This conventional framework Paul elaborated into a summary of his credentials and his gospel…. Of himself he says three things. First, he is A SERVANT OF JESUS CHRIST…. Second, he is a called APOSTLE…. Finally, his sphere of service is specific — SEPARATED UNTO THE GOSPEL OF GOD….
“Of his gospel Paul says two things. First, it was PROMISED AFORE in the prophetic scriptures…. Second, the good news concerns God’s SON.” [Archibald M. Hunter, “Romans,” Torch Bible Commentaries, (London: SCM Press Ltd., 1955), p. 24-25]
“Paul. Also called Saul. Jews often with two names, Acts i.23. Saul indicates his Jewish extraction Paul his Roman citizenship. Saul used mostly before his conversion. Paul after it. Paul preferred by himself after that event. 1. More agreeable to his office as apostles of the Gentiles, Rom. xv. 16; 2. More likely to conciliate Gentile hearers. ‘All things to all men.’” [Thomas Robinson, Studies in Romans: Expository and Homiletical, 2 volumes, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1878) I, p. 3]
“In the Greek text, as well as in nearly all the English versions, the first word of this most important New Testament book is ‘Paul.’ It is a miracle that the word is even there.” [James Montgomery Boice Romans: An Expositional Commentary I, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991), p. 22] Cf. Acts 9:1-22
“Thirteen New Testament epistles begin with the word Paul.” [Henry Allen Ironside, Ephesians, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1920), p. 8]
“He designates himself as ‘a servant of Jesus Christ.’ The word is doulos, the most abject, servile term used by the Greeks to denote a slave…. He puts this ahead of his apostleship.” [Kenneth Wuest, Romans in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955), p. 11-12]
“I like the King James Version of the Bible, but sometimes I get upset with it. For example, when we start to read Romans we find that the opening verses say, ‘Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle.’ I look at this and want to weep. Servant of Jesus Christ? Servant of God? The word in the text is doulos, and it does not mean ‘servant.’ A servant is someone who is employed, who is given wages. A servant is a domestic helper who can leave his employment any time he feels like it. He can have a day off. He can change jobs, move to another town, do whatever he wants. This is not what a doulos is. A doulos is a slave. He has no rights, only obligations. A slave is one who is purchased, owned, and becomes the personal property of the kyrios.” [R. C. Sproul, “Lord of Lords,” Our Savior God edited by James Montgomery Boice, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980), p. 95]
“In many passages of Scripture, where our translation uses the term ‘servant’, the true word is ‘slave’; and I think the time has come when we had better speak of it as it ought to be, that we may learn the full force of the expression. We do not mean that there is any cruel slavery of Christ’s people to himself; but we do mean that, just as much as the slave completely belonged to his master, to do his master’s bidding, to live or die at his master’s will, so have we given ourselves up unto Christ; he has become our sole Master. There are others who struggle for the mastery over us; but no man can serve two masters. He may serve two rival powers, — one struggling against the other for a while, — but they cannot both be masters; only one can be supreme within the spirit. In this way, Christ has become so completely the believer’s Master that sin shall not have dominion over him, and he shall not be any longer under the domination of Satan. Christ is the Master of all his people, whatever happens to them. We may wander like sheep; but Christ is still our Shepherd, and he will bring the straying sheep back, for they are still his property even when they are wandering away from him.” [Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit XLV, (London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1899), p. 483]
“His servant ― 1. By nature, as a creature made for His service; 2. By purchase, as redeemed by His blood; 3. By personal and hearty choice, through the grace of the Spirit.” [Robinson I, p. 7]
“The relation of Paul to Christ is a relation of love; and love exists only between persons. It is not a group of ideas that is to be explained, if Paulinism is to be accounted for, but the love of Paul for his Savior. And that love is rooted, not in what Christ had said, but in what Christ had done. He ‘loved me and gave Himself for me. There lies the basis of the religion of Paul; there lies the basis of all of Christianity…. The religion of Paul was not founded upon a complex of ideas derived from Judaism or from paganism. I was founded upon the historical Jesus…the Jesus of the whole New Testament and of Christian faith; not a teacher who survived only in the memory of His disciples, but the Savior who after His redeeming work was done still lived and could still be loved.” [J. Gresham Machen, The Origin of Paul’s Religion, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1925), p. 317]
“…It is a greater honor to serve Christ than to have kings serve us.” [Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1692), p. 190]
“Paul had not seen the Romans when he wrote this epistle. They were strangers to him, and therefore he begins by asserting his apostleship…” [Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit XXXVIII, (1892), p. 250]
“Apostle. One sent; a messenger, ambassador, legate, agent… Mark a high and important office. Highest in the church, 1 Cor. xii.28; Eph. iv.11…. “(1). Apostles chosen and called by Christ himself, Acts i.2, 24; Gal. 1.1, 12. (2.) Had seen the Lord after His resurrection, Acts i.22; 1 Cor. xi.1; xv. 5, 7, 8. (3.) Had power to work miracles and communicate the same to others, 2 Cor. xii.12; Acts viii.14-18; Gal. iii. 2, 5. (4.) Were invested with the general rule of the church, 2 Cor. xi.28; 1 Cor v.4, 5; 1 Tim. 1.10; (5) Spoke or wrote by the inspiration of the Spirit, 2 Cor. xiii.3.”” [Robinson I, p. 8-9]
“By calling himself an apostle in Romans, Paul reminds his readers that he is writing as no mere ordinary man but rather as one who has been given a message that should be received by them as the very words of God.” [Boice I, p. 27]
“Paul defines his apostleship by the words, ‘separated unto the gospel of God,’ that is, he as an apostle is separated to the gospel…. We find a reflection of this in his words, ‘This one thing I do’ (Phil. 3:13). ‘Separated’ is a perfect participle in the Greek text, the tense speaking of a past completed action having present results.” [Wuest, p. 13]
“Gospel…. The gospel is good news in respect both to the past, the present, and the future.” [Robinson I, p. 9]
“The gospel ‘promised,’ therefore no novelty.” [Robinson I, p. 12]
“Christ and His salvation foretold by all the Old Testament prophets, Luke xxiv.27; Acts iii.18; x.43. (1) By Moses, as the woman’s seed, Gen. iii.15; Abraham’s seed, xxii.18; Shiloh, xlix.10; the prophet like unto Moses, Deut. xxviii.15; (2) By David, as his Son, Ps. cxxxii.11; his Lord, cx.4; the Anointed, ii.2; lxxxiv.9; the Priest-King, cx.1; the Pierced One, xxii.16; (3) By Isaiah, as the Virgin’s Son, Isa. vii.14; Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, ix.6; Rod of the stem of Jesse, xi.1; Man of sorrows liii.3; wounded and bruised Surety, liii.5, 10-12; God’s righteous servant, xlii.1; lii.13; liii.11; (4) By Jeremiah, as the righteous Branch, xxiii.5; the Lord our Righteousness (xxiii.6); (5) By Ezekiel, as the true David, the Shepherd-King, Ezek. xxxvii.24; (6) By Daniel, as Messiah the Prince, Dan. ix. 25, 26; (7) By Micah, as the Judge of Israel, Mic. v.2; (8) By Haggai, as the Desire of all nations, Hag. ii.7; (9) By Zechariah, as the Pierced One, Zech. xii.10; the Man who was Jehovah’s Shepherd and Fellow, xiii.7; (10) By Malachi, as the Messenger of the Covenant, Mal. iii.1; the Sun of Righteousness, iv.3.” [Robinson I, p. 13]
“The gospel has a single center around which all revolves. From beginning to end it treats of the Son of God. It was through His coming that the new age entered. The law speaks about man and what he must do. The gospel speaks about God and what He has done by sending His Son into the world. So Paul can simply characterize the content of the gospel of God: it is the gospel about the Son of God.” [Nygren, p. 47]
“Jesus in Hebrew = Jehovah the Savior, or Jehovah shall save…. Jesus a Savior from sin ― 1. As to its guilt and punishment; 2. Its power; 3. Its practice; 4. Its presence…. Jesus the Greek form of Joshua. Joshua called Jesus, Acts vii.45; Heb. iv.8.” [Robinson I, p. 7]
“Christ. Anointed. Greek word for the Hebrew Messiah, Dan. ix.25-26…. Prophets, priests, and kings anointed with oil as types of Christ, 1 Kings xix.16; Ex. xxviii.41.” [Robinson I, p. 8]
“As man, sharing our common humanity (kata sarka), He is descended from David — in harmony with the Old Testament promise which calls the Messiah the son of David.” [Nygren, p. 47-48]
“He was the Son of God before. He is always the Son of God. He was the Son of God before the incarnation and from all eternity…. Where then is the variation?… It is in the form that he assumes; and what we have been told in verse 3 is that when he came into this world he did not come as the Son of God with power. No! He came as a helpless babe…. Though He was still the Son of God, He was weak; He was helpless… He had to be fed and cared for… He was not ‘Son of God with power’… He was Son of God ― yes, but not Son of God with power. In other words, when he came as a babe, the power of the Son of God was veiled in the flesh…. What the apostle says is, that in the resurrection he is ‘declared to be the Son of God with power; It is there that we realize how powerful he is.” [David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans: The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Chapter1, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1985), p. 115-116] Cf. Philippians 2:5-11
“Four things are in the text: (1) The Apostle’s equipment ― he had received ‘grace.’ (2) The Apostle’s commission ― he had received grace ‘and apostleship.’ (3) The Apostle’s sphere ― his apostleship was to be exercised ‘among all nations.’ (4) The Apostle’s motive ― ‘for his name’s sake.” [The Speaker’s Bible XIII edited by James Hastings and Edward Hastings, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, n.d.), p. 18]
“Paul is the great Apostle of Grace. Of the 155 New Testament references to grace, 133 belong to him. Grace opens his epistles, grace closes them, and grace is the keynote of everything in between.” [David Seamands, Healing Grace: Let God Free You From the Performance Trap, (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1988), p. 109]
“Grace infuseth a spirit of activity into a person. Grace doth not lie dormant in the soul; it is not a sleepy habit, but it makes a Christian like a seraphim, swift-winged in his heavenly motions. Grace is like fire; it makes on burn in love to God.” [Thomas Watson in Gray & Adams Bible Commentary V edited by James C. Gray and George M. Adams, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, n.d.), p. 8]
“…It seems to me that one of the main problems in connection with evangelism, especially today, is our failure to realize that sin primarily is disobedience. Sin is not just that which I do that is wrong and which makes me feel miserable afterwards; sin is not just that which spoils my life and makes me feel miserable and unhappy; sin is not just that thing which gets me down, and which I would like to overcome. It is all that, but, my friends, that is not the first thing to say about sin; indeed, that is not the most important thing to say about it….
“What is sin? Sin is the transgression of the law. Primarily, it is rebellion against God. Sin is refusal to listen to the voice of God. Sin is a turning of your back upon God and doing what you think…. What was the original sin? Was it not to accept the suggestion of Satan, who said, ‘Hath God said?’ The original sin of man did not consist in murder or adultery or any one of those things; it consisted in just this, that he stopped listening to the voice of God. He stopped obeying God. That is sin in its essence.” [Lloyd-Jones, Romans: The Gospel of God, p. 138-139]
“We often think of Paul as a pioneering evangelist. And we would expect an evangelist to claim that his purpose is to bring people to faith. Yet Paul is not content to say simply ‘faith’ here; he speaks of ‘the obedience of faith.’ At the very beginning of Romans, Paul sends a clear signal that obeying God is a basic part of what Christianity is all about (p. 37)….
“I would like to suggest that he has deliberately coined a phrase that puts obedience and faith into a mutually supporting relationship. Paul wants to say that true Christian faith is always characterized by obedience and that no true obedience of God can be present without faith. Faith and obedience are two sides of the same coin. You cannot have the one without the other.” [Douglas J. Moo, “Is Obedience Optional?” Tabletalk, (January 2002), p. 37-38]
“Without a care and majoring in boredom, I began reading a nice Bible my high school girlfriend had given me as a graduation present. She was a pastor’s daughter who, in retrospect, should not have been dating me…. I…read the entire New Testament over the course of the next few weeks. God opened my eyes to the fact that I was a Pharisee and that the worst sinners are often the most moral and spiritual people who, like I was going, pursue righteousness apart from Jesus. As I was sitting on my dorm bed, the words of Romans 1:6, ‘And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,’ sounded in my head like an alarm. I realized that God had been pursuing me and was, in that moment, screaming into the three pounds of meat between my ears that I belong to Jesus.” [Mark Driscoll, The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out Without Selling Out, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), p. 13]
II. The Recipients (1:7)
“…Paul deftly brings in the Roman saints in the words ‘among whom (the Gentiles) are ye also the called of Jesus Christ.” [Wuest, p. 18]
“We might render these expressions: ‘Jesus Christ’s by calling,’ ‘saints by calling.’” [William R. Newell, Romans Verse by Verse, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1938), p. 9]
“‘Calling’ in Paul always includes obedience as well as hearing. It is effectual calling…” [James Denney, “St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans,” The Expositor’s Greek Testament II, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, n.d.). p. 587]
“…As he himself was ‘called’ to be an Apostle, so all Christians were ‘called’ to be Christians…” [William Sanday and A. C. Headlam, “A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, International Critical Commentary, (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1896), p. 12]
“They were saints because they were called, and they were called because they were beloved of God.” [Haldane, p. 33]
“…We are Christians for one reason only and that is that God has set His love upon us. That is the thing that brings us out of the world and out of the dominion of Satan… And therefore it is not surprising that the Apostle here should remind these Christians of this wonderful thing. The world hated them; it persecuted them. They might be arrested at any moment, at the whim of any cruel tyrant who happened to be emperor, and they might be condemned to death and thrown to the lions in the arena. They were oftentimes hated of all men, so Paul is anxious that they should realize this, that they are the beloved of God; that they are in Christ and that God loves them in the same way as He loves Christ…. My dear friend, if you only realized, as you should, that you are loved by God as he loved his own Son, you would learn the most important thing with respect to your sanctification without going any further.” [Lloyd-Jones, Romans: The Gospel of God, p. 159-160]
“What is meant by saints? It is easy to answer the question formally. In Scripture this means people belonging to God. When Paul speaks of Christians as called to be saints, he means that they are called to be His. The negative side of the idea is, ‘Ye are not your own’; the positive side of it is, ‘You are God’s you are His people.” [The Speaker’s Bible XIII, p. 21]
“There are no Lone-Ranger Christians, and the term saints is never in the singular. Grace is received and lived out in the community of faith.” [Seamands, Healing Grace, p. 33]
“Grace is always pronounced as from ‘God the Father’ as the Source, and ‘our Lord Jesus Christ’ as the channel and Sphere of Divine blessing.” [Newell, p. 9]
Peace “= the cessation of hostility to him and the peace of mind which follows it.” [Sanday and Headlam, p. 15]
“The juxtaposition of God as Father and Christ as Lord may be added to the proofs already supplied by vv. 1, 4, that St. Paul, if not formally enunciating a doctrine of the Divinity of Christ, held a view which cannot really be distinguished from it….
“Not only does the juxtaposition of ‘Father’ and ‘Lord’ mark a stage in the doctrine of the Person of Christ; it also marks an important stage in the history of the doctrine of the Trinity. It is found already some six years before the composition of Ep. to Romans at the time when St. Paul wrote…1 Thess. i.1; cf. 2 Thess. 1.2…. Although in this particular verse of Ep. to Romans the form in which it appears is incomplete, the triple formula concludes an Epistle written a few months earlier (2 Cor. xiii.14). There is nothing more wonderful in the history of human thought than the silent and imperceptible way in which this doctrine, to us so difficult, took its place without struggle and without controversy among accepted Christian truths.” [Sanday and Headlam, p. 16]
III. The Thanksgiving (1:8-15)
“The first thing that the Romans would have noticed from Paul’s explanation is the appropriateness of making plans (1:13). They may have known that on two or three specific occasions Paul had received special guidance concerning his geographic field of ministry (Acts 16:6-10); but no such revelation is mentioned here. God neither commanded Paul to go to Rome, nor forbade such a journey.
“Second, Paul prayed about his plans (1:8-10). He asked that they might be accomplished. Apparently, there had been several plans to go to Rome (1:13), and Paul was asking that the Lord would bring this one to pass, hopefully soon (1:10).
“Third, through his prayers, Paul submitted himself and his plans to God’s sovereign will…. 1:10). To that point in time he had been ‘prevented’ (1:13). And though he did not indicate the direct cause of the hindrance, it was certainly clear that, as far as Paul was concerned, the ultimate cause was God’s sovereign will. Accordingly, he was able to accept delay without experiencing undue frustration….
“The fourth thing the Romans would have noted is that Paul’s plans were based on spiritual goals….
1. To provide spiritual ministry to the Roman believers (1:11).
2. To further establish and encourage the church in Rome (1:11-12).
3. To receive encouragement from them (1:12)
4. To win unbelievers to Christ (1:13-15).”
[Garry Friesen and J. Robin Maxson, Decision Making & the Will of God, (Portland OR: Multnomah Press, 1980), p. 136]
A. Paul is thankful (1:8)
“As it is through Christ that God’s grace is conveyed to men (verse 5), so it is through Christ that men’s gratitude is conveyed to God. The mediatorship of Christ is exercised both Godward and manward.” [Bruce, p. 76]
“It is not the piety of the saints at Rome, but their faith, that is here noticed…. He thus acknowledges God as the author of the Gospel, not only on account of His causing it to be preached to them, but because He had actually given them grace to believe.” [Haldane, p. 38]
“Their faith was…spoken of throughout the whole world. This is a popular hyperbole speaking of general diffusion throughout the Roman empire. This local church in the capital city was like a city set on a hill, occupying a prominent position in the world of that day.” [Wuest, p. 20]
“The church at Rome was then a flourishing church; but since that time, how is the gold become dim! How is the most fine gold changed! Rome is not what it was…. The Epistle to the Romans is now an epistle against the Romans.” [John Evans Matthew Henry’s Commentary VI, (Peabody, MA: Hendriksen Publishers, n.d.), p. 295]
B. Paul is prayerful (1:9-10)
“Prayer and labor ought to go together. To pray without laboring is to mock God; to labor without prayer is to rob God of his glory. Until these are conjoined, the gospel will not be extensively successful.” [Haldane, p. 40]
“We cannot serve God by accident. We must want to do it and plan to do it.” [Philip Melancthon in Gray & Adams Bible Commentary III, p. 352]
“Paul wanted to go to Rome; but I do not suppose that he ever thought that he would go there at the expense of the government, with an imperial guard to take care of him all the way. We pray, and God gives us the answer to our petitions; but often in a way of which we should never have dreamed. Paul goes to Rome as a prisoner for Christ’s sake. Now suppose Paul had gone to Rome in any other capacity, he could not have seen Caesar, he could not have obtained admission into Caesar’s house. The prison of the Palatine was just under the vast palace of the Caesars; and everybody in the house could come into the guardroom. And have a talk with Paul if they were minded so to do. I suppose that, whatever I might be willing to pay, I could not have preached in the palace of the Queen, even in this nominally Christian country; but Paul was installed as a royal chaplain over Caesar’s household in the guardroom of the Palatine prison. How wonderfully God works to accomplish his divine purposes!” [Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit XXXVIII, (1892), p. 251]
C. Paul is hopeful (1:11-13)
“The purpose of the impartation of these gifts was that they might be established both in their Christian character and their service.” [Wuest, p. 21]
“No one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” [Charles Dudley Warner in Timeless Quotations on Peace of Mind compiled by John Cook, (Minneapolis: Fairview Press, 1997), p. 64]
“Rome was a sink of iniquity; it was the den of the lions, where Nero was, who would speedily devour, like a lion, the minister of Christ. Paul wanted somehow to get into that old city on the seven hills, and to pluck some fruit for God even from the vine that was planted there; but he was hindered.” [Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit XXXIX, (1893), p. 383]
“The word ‘comfort’ usually carries with it the idea of consolation which is not Paul’s thought here. The word is sumparakaleō. ‘to strengthen with others.’ It is a mutual strengthening, brought about by Paul’s ministry among them and their association with him, that the apostle is speaking of.” [Wuest, p. 22]
“To the very fact that he had been hindered from realizing his purpose to visit the Roman congregation that was strange to him, are we indebted for our possession, in this epistle, of Christianity’s incomparably remarkable document, where the gospel speaks, more clearly than anywhere else, against the law as a background.” [Nygren, p. 8-9]
“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” [William A. Ward in 20th Century Thoughts That Shaped the Church selected by Vernon McLellan, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2000), p. 181]
Livingstone’s “favorite maxim (was) ‘Try again.’” [W. Garden Blaikie, The Personal Life of David Livingstone, (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1880), p. 120]
“even as among other Gentiles” “…Nothing could indicate more clearly that the Church at Rome, as a whole, was Gentile.” [Denney, p. 588]
“We note…the delicacy with which the Apostle suddenly checks himself in his expression of his desire to impart from his own fullness to the Roman Christians: he will not assume any airs of superiority, but meets them frankly upon their own level; If he has anything to confer upon them they in turn will confer an equivalent upon him.” [Sanday and Headlam, p. 21]
D. Paul is Obligated (1:14-15)
“It was not a question of choice or charity whether he should preach the Gospel; it was a sense of debt and duty by which he was impelled.” [Marcus Loane, The Hope of Glory: An Exposition of the Eighth Chapter in the Epistle to the Romans, (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1968), p. 46]
“In Paul’s time, Greek was the language of the educated, while ‘barbarians’ were those who could not speak it. Thus, Paul is telling the Romans that he is sent to all of the world’s peoples, cultured and uncultured, educated and non-educated, sophisticated and simple alike. The Gospel is for all of them….
“All too many modern churches are homogeneous in terms of income, race, or nationality. Thus, they tend to reach out to their ‘own kind.’ Obviously, this should not be…” [Tabletalk, (January 2002), p. 30]
“All these individuals, of whatever category, Paul regards as his creditors. He owes them his life, his person, in virtue of the grace bestowed on him and of the office which he has received (ver. 5).” [Godet, p. 89]
“If it depended only on him, he would be exercising his ministry at Rome…. All that depends on me is eager, i.e., for my part, I am all readiness…. The contrast implied is that between willing (which Paul for his part is equal to) and carrying out the will (which depends on God (ver. 10).” [Denney, p. 589]
IV. The Theme (1:16-17)
“In the sixteenth and seventeenth verses of Romans 1, we come to sentences that are the most important in the letter and perhaps in all literature. They are the theme of this epistle and the essence of Christianity. They are the heart of biblical religion.” [Boice I, p. 103]
“THE GREAT THESIS. Problem: How is Righteousness to be attained? Answer: Not by man’s work, but by God’s gift, through Faith, or loyal attachment to Christ (i.16, 17).” [Sanday and Headlam, p. xlvii]
“The gospel tells us about this living by faith, this believing, this receiving righteousness through believing, and not through working. This is the sweet story of the cross, of which Paul was not ashamed.” [Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit XXXVIII, (1892), p. 252]
“Here eight great facts are affirmed of the Gospel. (1) As to its nature, it is ‘Good News’; (2) as to its source, it is ‘of God’; (3) as to its greatness, it is a revelation of God; (4) as to its design, its intention is salvation; (5) as to its scope, it is for ‘everyone’; (6) as to its efficiency, it is God’s power; (7) as to its claim, it must be ‘believed’; and (8) as to its outcome, it issues in life. Of the Gospel Paul says he is ‘not ashamed.’ And why should he be?” [Scroggie, Salvation and Behavior, p. 12]
“I greatly longed to understand Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, ‘the justice of God,’ because I took it to mean that justice whereby God is just and deals justly in punishing the unjust. My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God but rather hated and murmured against him. Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant.
“Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that ‘the just shall live by his faith.’ Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before the ‘justice of God’ had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven…” [Martin Luther in Roland Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1950), p. 48]
“The righteousness of Christ on the ground of which the believer is justified is the righteousness of God. It is so designated in Scripture not only because it was provided and is accepted by him; it is not only the righteousness which avails for him before God, but it is the righteousness of the divine person; of God manifest in the flesh.” [Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology III, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1873), p. 143]
“Discussing a new Neo-Melanesian (‘Pidgin’) version of the New Testament for New Guinea, H. K. Moulton says: ‘We salute strokes of genius such as the translation of ‘Justification’: ‘God ‘e say ‘im alrite’” [The Bible in the World, (Jan.-Feb. 1963), p. 100.0.0.-412444492oRs2rGs1dZm gR:058c8ab3 E:3097957