Studies in Romans (1)

Jesus, born of the seed of David in accordance with the prophetic words of Scripture, has been resurrected from the dead. This message of Jesus being raised from the dead is a message God’s apostles preached to “all nations” (the importance of “all nations” is in relation to the Jewish way of thinking concerning their special privilege). As Paul preached to the Jews, he also felt the obligation to preach to the Greeks and barbarians (the cultured/learned and uncluttered/unlearned).

Why is the message preached? Because in this world there is much unrighteousness. Paul states there is no one not guilty because within each there is knowledge of right/wrong and that God exists (1:18-20). In summary to this point, the following is the case: It is not possible for people to know an ultimate moral foundation without God. An utter impossibility! Try as one might, without God, all one can do is assert a position and hope others agree. But such an approach is fluid; what one considers right, or wrong today was the opposite a generation ago, and might be reversed a generation from now. In the long ago, Scripture attests to this approach. People did (do) not want to retain God in their knowledge. Thus, they gave (or give) up on God, so God gave (gives) up on them. Moral chaos reigns in society as a result. Many of these same people realize the emptiness of life, but instead of religion (God) they call themselves spiritual. In their spirituality they float back and forth as the wind moves them, never anchored to something greater than themselves.

In chapter 2, Paul calls out the Jewish way of thinking. God is partial to no one, not even Jews (when it comes to righteousness). While the non-Jews had no codified law from God, still he was (is) guilty. The Jews did have a codified law and by that Law they will be judged – and the same codified law demonstrated their guilt before God.

Having God’s Law, but not hearing and obeying it as designed by Him did not benefit a person (or nation) one single bit. “Circumcision” (a word that stands as representative of God’s Law), is not an exterior matter but an interior one (2:28-29).

In chapter 3, Paul continues with his point demonstrating the Jews, also, as guilty before God. Even though they received God’s oracles, or Law (in this regard they were privileged), it was their hypocrisy and the general failure to meet the standards of the Law that made them guilty, with Paul pointing this out in application to both Jews and non-Jews (3:9-20).

Even if one met the standards of the Law, still one would not be justified. Why is that?

By the Law (Law of Moses), no one is justified before God, but the Law does give testimony to two things: 1) one is justified by faith, 2) one is justified by faith in Jesus.

  1. Since all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, how can one attain the righteousness of God? (3:23).
  2. God’s righteousness is revealed apart from Law (3:21).
  3. God’s righteousness is witnessed by Law and Prophets (3:21).
  4. God’s righteousness is through faith in Jesus (3:22).
  5. God’s righteousness come freely because of what Jesus did (3:24)

God’s righteousness is not by anything in the Law, that is, the Law of Moses, but it is by “the law of faith” (3:27). What is this “law of faith”? It is the “law of liberty” (James 1:25), it is the “law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2), it is the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ” (Rom. 8:2).

“Law” is not and never has been a problem; it is always what man (a word that represents all people) does with that word that becomes the problem.