Romans 1

Highs and Lows

Prayer 

 

First a quick intro to the book and the author:

Author:

    Paul a man of a Biblical mind (given his many quotations of the OT in this letter), a Resolute will (given his determination to preach the Gospel), and a loving heart (given his desire to see the Romans grow in their faith).

The book:

    This is one of the most, if not the most, dense books of the bible but also one of the most binding books of the bible where Paul explains the problem between man and God and how God solved our problem for us. If Matthew is the bridge between the OT and NT then Romans is the highway between OT and NT. 

    Paul, at the time of this writing, didn’t know anyone from the Roman church but wrote to them out of His love for His fellow kinsman in the faith; the Romans in the middle of Roman’s idolatrous culture seem to have been far too influenced by it and     Paul writes to correct this error. 

    Paul’s key concern in writing this letter is to set forth the righteousness of God in the gospel (1:16, 17). It is a righteousness that we lack (1:18-3:20), but it is a righteousness that God is pleased to accomplish and to give in Christ (3:21-26). This righteousness of God accomplishes the singular need of humanity, to move from being under the wrath of God to have peace with God. Only justification by faith alone in Christ alone accomplishes this.

General questions: 

How many of y’all have read Romans? 

If so, what did y’all get out of it? 

If you haven’t read Romans before then I’d definitely recommend reading through it asap; so that you might get a better understanding of Romans and therefore get more out of this study and be more prepared to participate in the discussion. 

 

1:1-7

1:1-2

What does Paul mean when he says, “the gospel of God”? (1:1) IE is he saying the Gospel is from God or its content concerning God?

    It seems to be both really. The gospel is the message of the good news of salvation in Jesus; it is the message of God IE God is both the source and theme of the gospel. 

“which He promised before through His prophets…”(1:2)  Can y’all think of a couple different places in the OT where God promised the gospel/the Christ?

    Genesis 3 where God promises to crush the serpent through the messiah

    Exodus where God promised that one greater than Moses will come to lead the Israelites out of bondage. 

    2 Samuel 7 where God promises David that David’s lineage will continue on to the messiah and that He would rule     forever; as Paul shows us in 1:3

    Etc. 

1:3-5

“concerning His Son” (1:3) while the Gospel includes many great doctrines of the faith its’ chief concern is the Son of God. 

    Here we have a description of the 2 stages of the Savior’s ministry, that is His humiliation and exaltation/His humanity and His deity. Although He is the Son of God He was born as a “descendant of David” (1:3) in order to share our weakness, but was transformed by the “Spirit of holiness” (1:4) at the resurrection and brought into a new age of His personal human existence. 

1:5-7

How do we be “obedient to the faith”(1:5)? IE How do we practice obedience/become obedient to God?

    By continually and increasingly rejecting sin in all of our lives and continually, and increasingly, seeking/pursuing God. 

Speaking of seeking God, how are y’all’s private devotions going? What are y’all reading and what is God showing you in the reading? [Chris this is a vital question. Take your time with it. I would like it if everyone answered this question. Encourage, rebuke, further question the fellow believers here as you see fit. Please note: you may ask Alaina if/what she’s reading or what she and Sara have been discussing recently; however she is an outsider and isn’t directly addressed in this question, therefore, you don’t have to get an answer out of her if you chose not to. Your call either way.] 

    “in Rome” (1:7) as stated and as we’re about to see, Paul had never been to Rome. It seems that the Church in Rome was not planted by any of the apostles but was probably born out of one, or more, of the listeners of Peter’s sermon in Acts 2. While Paul wanted to be with His brothers in Roman to minister to them he was hindered and therefore chose to reach them via this letter. 

 

1:8-15

1:8-10

“your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” (1:8) What did Paul mean when he said the “whole world”?

    Paul spoke of the whole Roman empire/the whole Mediterranean region; not literally the whole globe. 

“I thank my God…for you” (1:8) Paul was grateful for his brothers that he had never even met. He was grateful for them; not envious of them. 

Do y’all struggle with envy in any way? And what are some ways to combat envy?

    Clearly, gratitude is the key to combatting envy. When we think of being thankful we usually think of gratitude in reaction to things IE The waiter brings me food and I am grateful as a reaction to the food. 

    Perhaps one of the biggest keys to gratitude is to not only react to the gift given (in this case the church in Rome given to us by God) but also the motivate of the giver. Per example: God is love (1 John 4) therefore God always acts out of love. So when Chris gets a job in ministry and I don’t; I can still be grateful to God for Chris because I know in my head and heart that God is still acting out of His love toward me; even though it may not seem that way at the moment. 

    Thus, we chiefly consider the motive of God (His love toward us) when we combat envy and cultivate a spirit/attitude of gratitude.

 

1:11-15

1:11

“…that I may impart to you some spiritual gift…” 

What was this spiritual gift that Paul is talking about?

    1:12 “that I may be encouraged together with you by mutual faith” It doesn’t seem that Paul is using the phrase “spiritual gifts” as he is in 1 Corinthians 12, where he talks about gifts from the Holy Spirit. But rather a gift of mutual and spiritual grace between Paul and the Roman church. 

1:13

    Based off of this verse it would seem that the Roman church was composed of mostly Gentiles and the Jews were a minority. Given that Paul goes so in-depth with the Jews and their relation to God later in Romans it seems that there was some sort of conflict between the 2 parties. 

1:14-15

What do y’all know about the Greeks and the Barbarians? 

    The Greeks could refer to literal citizens of Greece but here it seems to reference anyone who embraced Greek language or education. They were the elite of Paul’s day due to their interest and understanding in Greek philosophy; because of this, they were considered “wise”. 

    The Barbarians was a term coined by the Greeks to describe anyone non-greek. Because of the Greeks, someone who spoke in another language sounded like “bar-bar-bar”/unintelligible chatter. The Barbarians were the “un-wise” of the world. 

    Paul’s main point here, given his obligation to God to minister to Jew and Gentile, is that God is no respecter of persons; IE the gospel must reach both the wise and unwise of the world/its elites and outcasts. Moreover, given that Paul was “eager” to preach the Gospel to the saints we are also reminded of our need of the Gospel as well.

 

1:16-17

1:16

And here we have the thesis for the entire book of Romans-the gospel of Jesus Christ which Paul will expound and explain in the following chapter. 

So talk to me about the Gospel. 

If someone came up to you, believer of Christ, and asked “what is the Gospel?” what would be your response? [Chris; It is preferred that every Christian present to give an answer to this question; particularly those that don’t often say much during the study]. 

    The Gospel, according to Paul, is “the power of God to save those who believe” (1:16). 

Given this, for what reason would you be ashamed of the Gospel?

    It’s foolish to the world, you would lose friends and family, employment, it could cost you imprisonment or death. 

Have you ever been ashamed of the Gospel? Have you ever not shared the Gospel because you were afraid of what might happen to you or what you might lose as a consequence of proclaiming the gospel? If so, how do you combat that shame?

So how do we become unashamed/bold in our sharing/proclaiming of the Gospel?

    Someone, somewhere at some time, was bold enough and loving enough to proclaim the Gospel to us. Let us not be so un-loving toward our neighbor as to rob them of the telling of the glorious Gospel. We become bold by our zealous love of God and man and burning desire to see God work/save sinners around us. Our confidence in the Gospel is God. It is God’s Gospel; not ours. It is He who raises us from our sin; when we proclaim the Gospel it is merely Him using/speaking through us. 

“…to salvation for everyone who believes” So according to 1:16 who does this Gospel save?

    Those who believe. Universalism be damned. It is the power of God throughout the whole Gospel that saves us. 

“for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (1:16)IE the Gospel first came to the Jews and then the Gentiles. 

1:17

“the righteousness of God” (1:17) This is a curious term because depending on the context when used elsewhere, it could refer to the righteousness/justice of God OR the righteousness that is from God/given to us by God upon our belief in the Gospel. 

So, given this, I ask y’all how do you think Paul is using the phrase “righteousness of God” here?

    The righteousness that is given to us from God upon our belief in the Gospel. This is clearly the definition being used given the surrounding context where Paul speaks of our belief in the Gospel of salvation. 

    This phrase refers to the righteousness of Christ that is imputed/transferred to the one who believes. This imputation of righteousness to sinners who believe is fully consistent with the personal righteousness of God. As a just and righteous judge, God on the merit of the obedience and death of His Son alone justifies/declares righteous, sinners throughout true faith in Christ and not through anything that they have done. 

“from faith to faith” (1:17) 

    IE the righteousness of justification is received exclusively through faith; the faith held by either Jew or Gentile, Greek or barbarian. It matters not who holds the faith but that they have the faith and therefore have the righteousness of God. 

“shall live by faith” (1:17) How are the righteous (us) to live by faith?

    The whole of the Christian life, from beginning to end, is lived in trust and dependence on God who graciously justifies the sinner. We live our whole life in reliance/trusting in God. 

    Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4, here, to provide and prove the biblical basis for all that follows; which is the way of justification by faith alone was already known in the OT. 

 

1:18-23

    This portion of the text, while difficult due to its’ content, is frankly one of the easier texts we’ve ever dealt with. 

    Let me explain, over the past decade many have begun to wake up and come to the faith through the evil of the modern world; as one man said, “the evil of the today’s world proves to us the existence of God”. It was easy in generations past to simply ignore the faith and its doctrine. 

    Our current generation is paying the cost of their denial of God. I need not illustrate the evil of the modern world here; you can simply step outside and see the upside-down world we live in and Paul describes in this section. While our chapter ends on a bleak note, I hope to render the text in such a way where we look to God and have hope. 

1:18-19

“…the wrath of God is revealed” (1:18) In what way is God’s wrath (his judgment/anger against sin) made known/revealed to us today? Keep in mind the immediate context where Paul just spoke on the Gospel. 

    The most graphic revelation of God’s holy wrath against sin was when He poured out His wrath upon His Son on the cross. To anyone who thinks that the God of the OT and NT are, somehow, 2 separate Gods let them primarily look to Christ crucified, as well as our text here, and be silenced. Including Christ crucified there are 6 main ways God reveals His wrath

Eternal wrath, which is Hell

The wrath that is to come in the last days before the return of Christ

Cataclysmic wrath IE the flood of Genesis

Consequential wrath, IE reaping what one sows

The wrath of abandonment, which is God removing all restraining grace from a sinners life and letting them go headlong into their sins. 

Christ crucified and the wrath of abandonment seem to be what Paul speaks of here. 

“against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (1:18)

Do y’all think that Paul speaks of 2 separate actions here or just one?

    I take the view that it is a singular action that Paul speaks of here. It would seem that theological rebellion/rebellion against God comes first then a moral rebellion

Talk to me about godliness for a minute, what exactly does it mean to live a godly life? 

    Paul opened with “To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints” (1:7) Broadly speaking, sainthood and godliness seem to be the same thing. It is a life spent with God; centered/focused on God/totally living for Him. Living outwardly, in our actions, and inwardly, in the desires of our heart. 

1:19-23

“…for God has shown it to them.” (1:19) In what way has God revealed Himself to the world?

    As Paul writes, “For since the creation…” (1:20) Thus Paul uses what is referred to as the Teleological argument (AKA the intelligent design argument) as proof of God’s very existence. It is also my second favorite argument for God due to its simplicity. 

    This argument was also used by the Greek philosopher Socrates a few hundred years earlier. Given Rome’s proximity to Greece, it is unquestionable that the Romans were familiar with this argument, and were likely taught it in their schooling. 

    Thus, Paul states that God is clearly seen in creation. IE if there is creation then there must be a creator. 

“…so that they are without excuse” (1:20) Have y’all ever heard the phrase “true ignorance”?

[Let them answer]

    Basically, true ignorance is the name of the question/debate ‘what does God do with those who have never heard the gospel?’ It\’s a fine question to ask so we’ll discuss it here. 

What are y’all’s thoughts on this “true ignorance” debate?

[Let them discuss]

    Paul says that none are excused for denying Him. That is, God holds all men responsible for their refusal to acknowledge what He has shown them of Himself in His creation. 

    Even those who have never had an opportunity to hear the Gospel have received a clear witness about the existence and character of God-and have suppressed it. 

    If a person will respond to the revelation He has, even if it solely natural revelation (God revealed through creation), then God will provide some means for that person to hear the Gospel. 

“…although they knew God…” (1:21)

Once more Paul emphasizes man’s knowing/consciousness of God’s existence, power and divine nature through creation. 

If you could re-phrase 1:21 in the positive form what would you say?

    Mine would go something like; ‘although we know God, we, therefore, glorified Him and thanked Him and became hopeful/profitable in our thinking and our wise hearts were enlightened.’ 

    We are saved by grace through faith; it is grace that brought us to God and caused in us to will to glorify Him and hope in Him. 

But back to Paul directly: 

“futile” (1:21) is an interesting word to use. In what way is the unsaved sinner “futile”?

    The unsaved sinner is without hope or meaning apart from God. 

    Because I have already introduced y’all to one big brain argument for God I wish to introduce you to my personal favorite argument for God; that is the Ontological argument.

Have yall ever heard of it before? 

[Let them answer]

    The idea to it is this: If existence as a purpose then that purpose must come from a higher authority than myself. If there is no higher authority from which a purpose could come then there is no purpose to existence.

    I bring this up as a reminder to you Christian that existence is meaningful; particularly your existence is meaningful. As we’re about to see in a moment, you have the glory of God to behold all your days; when you are low in spirit look to Christ crucified and see His wounds and be healed by them; when you are high in spirit look to Christ crucified and see the Savior lifted up high not the cross for you and continue in your joy for you know that all is under your Father’s loving hand and therefore all, yourself included, have meaning and then your life is truly worth living. 

“Claiming to be wise…” (1:22) They thought so high and mighty of themselves but later “became fools” (1:22).

“…they exchanged the glory…” (1:23) What was the height of their foolishness according to 1:23?

    The exchange the higher glory for a lesser, lowly glory. 

For what reason does man turn from God to sin?

    Look at 1:24 “in the lusts of their hearts” Man turns to sin because there is sin in him; not because of a lack of education or poverty though these things could magnify his sin it is not the cause of it. He is the cause of his own sin and therefore the wrath of God upon Him is indeed just. 

 

1:24-32

1:24-25

So in 24, we see the abandonment of God and in 25 the essence of that abandonment “…for a lie” 

Talk to me about this “lie”. What is this lie the heathen live?

    The lie that God doesn’t exist and that their ‘gods’ are somehow better than the One True God. It could easily be inferred that the “lie” also includes the deception that their life of sin-the dishonoring of their own body- is a life worth living/brings satisfaction to them. 

    Here is another reason as to why I keep hounding y’all to be in the word (besides the fact that its commanded by, you know, THE CHRIST. Anyhow) Your life, as a Christian, is meaningful but it is meaningful because it is a life of truth; the truth is the bread and butter of your life; literally your sustenance. 

    I submit to you that if you are not in the word (reading and studying and questioning etc) then you are not living out your own God-given nature of beautiful truth (for truth is beauty) and you therefore not only dishonor God but also yourself. 

    Here, I exhort you to be true to who you are and to whom you belong; IE your childhood of God and God *your* Father. All you are and all that you need is bound up within the word of God, therefore, I beg you “take up and read” and read with all your heart.

“…and worshiped and served the creature…” (1:25)

Talk to me about worship. How do we, Christians, worship?

    Simply put, We sacrifice/give all our ourselves and all we have to God in daily living.

Given this definition, does the heathen worship in a similar manner? And to what/who do they worship?

    I submit to you they worship, just like we do-self sacrificially- but not to God but mainly to themselves. Even if they should claim the demon Allah or 8-fold path or some creation as their god their worship is ultimately to themselves. Allow me to explain:

    You see this come up a lot in Conservative circles actually. It takes the form of the question [Chris feel free to do your best Shapiro impersonation here] 

    “How could these 3rd/4th wave feminists align themselves with Islam? I mean don’t they know that those 2 philosophies aren’t compatible?” 

    The answer to their question is simply: Legalism. 

    That is that they wish to puff themselves up with their own righteous deeds and then, therefore, think themselves good and worthy of salvation to hellish god. 

    IE their worship/sacrifice is ultimately to themselves and not to their god. 

One more point on theses verses before we continue; take notice of the sweetness of Paul’s words even as he speaks of the wrath of God “the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen”. (1:25) 

Help me figure this one out: In what way is God “blessed forever”? IE what does that mean?

[Chris take note that I ask this one genuinely because I\’m not 100% certain as to what Paul means here but I have done my best to answer my own question]

    “Blessed”, as we have covered in past studies, usually refers to man’s happiness/joy in relation to God. Given this, as well as the immediate context, I think what Paul might be saying here is that God Himself is happy in the past, present and future work is doing through His people. 

1:26-27

Here, Paul will show us the content of His abandonment. 

“dishonorable passions” (1:26) What do you think Paul means here?

    Vile, degenerate passions. Chiefly homosexuality as we’ll see in the next verse. 

“for even their women” (1:26) Take note of this, Paul mentions women first to show the extent of degeneracy under the wrath of abandonment because in most cultures women are the last to be affected by the moral collapse. 

Before we continue in our discussion of degeneracy I want to take a minute and exhort the women of God that are present: 

[Chris be sure to make the time for this question. The Cult is rather harsh on our ladies most days. Let us not pass up the opportunity to encourage them when we can]

    In the role of society, and maintaining said society, women are the gatekeepers. 

    What I mean by that is this: however you chose to present yourself/conduct yourself will play a pivotal role in what kind of a husband you will acquire. 

    A godly woman, who lives and breathes the truth of God, will in time attract a man of likewise godly stature. 

    The inverse is also true: an unrighteous woman will attract a man of likewise unrighteous stature. 

    Whom you chose to marry and raise children with will determine the course of the society and therefore the course of the nation and therefore the course of history itself. 

    You determine the course of history in even the littlest of actions. 

    I don’t care how long you must wait or how tiresome said waiting might be; the wait for a godly man is worth it. 

    And I promise you that if you chose to not wait for a godly man you will regret it; you will have hardship within yourself with your faith; as well as your own house, if your husband is not a man of true religion and your children’s faith, will also suffer for it as well and your faith and your nation will suffer all the more great for it. 

    Wait for a man of God and your own faith, church and nation will be eternally grateful to you. 

    Women of God you are the key and (dare I say) hope for the future; with you, the nation and the church can stand or fall. Exercise extreme prejudice, discrimination and wisdom when seeking your husband. 

    Your nation, your church, and your God ask this of you.

    Should you need more wisdom on this matter review Ephesians 5:22-33 and see what great standard your husband is to love you and determine whether a heathen could ever reach such a standard. 

Now, on to our discussion of degeneracy.

1:27 

Paul uses homosexuality as the chief example of God’s abandonment. Why do you think that is?

    It’s unnatural. 

    God created man and woman to enjoy each other in marriage in the beginning. 

    He has yet to reverse this intended design for us and never will. 

    Homosexuality takes what is natural, beautiful, and fruitful and subverts it into an unnatural, ugly, fruitless act of self-pleasure/worship that does not help either party involved nor the society at large.  

“the penalty for their error” (1:27) So what is the consequence for this sin?

Spiritual death, a life of seeking but never finding satisfaction or peace and ultimately Hell. 

1:28-32

This brief passage could easily be titled “What is wrong with America?” A damning list for us today no doubt.  

“did not like to retain God in their knowledge” (1:32)

Given this, how do we retain God in our knowledge?

Intently reading the word for starters. It is one thing to have our eyes pass over the page; its another for use to read for the purpose of understanding the text and applying it.

Prayer. Frequent, constant, zealous prayer.

Fellowship with our kinsman; this is a hard life we would be wise to walk it together bearing one another burdens. On that note: we are called/commanded to love as Christ loves us. Should you ever need to walk with another through any trial/temptation never hesitate to reach out to any of us; we will joyfully receive you in love.

“deserving of death” (1:32) This chapter might be the most gut-punching one we’ve thus far dealt with. 

What have y’all gotten out of it? 

[Let them answer]

    Far be it from me to end on such a gut punch as 1:32. 

    For the Christian this text is your motivation to flee, fight and destroy indwelling sin in you; let us forsake sin and flee to Christ who took our deserved punishment (1:32) for our sin for us out of His great love for us. 

    To the heathen, this is your judgment: Death; death eternal and death here and now. You are to likewise flee to Christ for He will reject none that a come to Him. 

    As Isaiah wrote, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God and there is none else.” (Isaiah 45:22 KJV) Look and be saved.  

#RomansBibleStudy

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Jude

Questions: “Therefore” if you could summarize Romans thus far in a sentence or two what would you say? Why is there no condemnation for those in Christ? Is there condemnation for those outside Christ?