The first 7 verses are an overview and summary of the entire book of Romans. (You could literally stop here). But I say we read it anyway!
Paul tells them that they have heard about their Faith: 8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you because your faith is being reported worldwide.
Then he assures them that he wants to visit them:13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned to come to you many times.
He has a desire to preach the Gospel!
16 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, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (the verse that began the Protestant Reformation through Martin Luther)
In the book of Matthew (22), Jesus was asked:
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The 10 commandments fall into 2 categories: the first 4 are about loving God, the last 6 are about loving others.
So Paul opens the Letter to the Romans about “wrath.” (What a way to start a letter!).
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,
“Godlessness” means a lack of reverence for God. Man’s neglect of God and rebellion against God are evidence of ungodliness. “Unrighteousness” or “wickedness” means injustice toward other human beings. Together these two words show human’s failure to love God and other people as we should, which are the two greatest commandments. (the 10 commandments)
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Four things characterize this passage.
- It is a clear testimony; everyone is aware of it
- everyone can understand it
- this revelation has gone out “since the creation of the world” in every generation.
- it is a limited revelation in that it does not reveal everything about God, but only some things (but speaks to everyone)
As you finish Chapter 1, it is essential to keep the scriptures together and in context. The last 4 paragraphs go together. Look at the transition words: For, Therefore, Because, and Furthermore.
(Cause) God’s reaction to the suppression of Truth and their choice worship idols of the world and not the Lord-(effect) God handed them over to their own desires. We suffer the consequences of being “on our own.”
Therefore, collectively as a world:
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Yup, that about summarizes Earth.
11 For God does not show favoritism.
Many have become “soil inspectors” and “fruit inspectors,” looking at others rather than ourselves. We mistake God’s “forbearance” (delaying judgment) and patience as a means of being Self Righteous.
Paul directly speaks to the Jewish people. They believe their status as Jews places them above Gentiles. (Security)
17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
We know how important circumcision is for the Jews. And it is. BUT Paul said it best:
28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people but from God.
Chapter 3- In short, Paul is telling us that no one has an advantage. The Jews do not have an advantage because they were given the law, Gentiles do not have an advantage because they can’t say they weren’t given the law.
9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:
As it was written…well, let me tell you how well Paul knows his scriptures: notice that the scriptures are many individuals’ “quotes.” So, for example, he connects Psalm 14, Psalm 9, Psalm 140, Psalm 10, Isaiah 59, Proverbs 1, Isaiah 59, and Psalm 36. WOW!