Romans 


It seems odd that a letter to Gentiles would contain so much emphasis on Old Testament law. Three reasons...

  1. Perhaps many of the Roman Christians were God-fearers. And perhaps these were well-to-do, having a lot of influence.
  2. The Judaizers, as the first heretics of the Church, were stirring up so much trouble everywhere that Paul felt he must refute their claims often. By the time Paul wrote the letter to the Romans, he had endured much hardship at the hands of the Judaizers, including bodily harm. (In later centuries of the early church, the church fathers were just as aggressive in opposing heresy as Paul was.)
  3. Perhaps many of the Roman Christians were Greek-speaking Jewish Christians.
  4. I think Paul was so steeped in Judaism he couldn't see things from the Gentile perspective; he was unaware the Gentiles did not understand the Jewish stuff he talked about.

The main groups of Christians having Jewish interests...

  1. Aramaic-speaking Jewish Christians (called Hebrews). The Judaizers were probably from this group. (The Judaizers seemed anti-Christian in their dealings with Paul and others.)
  2. Greek-speaking Jewish Christians (called Greeks). This was probably the largest category of new Christian converts.
  3. God-fearers, Gentiles who had converted partway to Judaism, and who were steeped in Jewish teaching. They then converted to Christianity.

Part of Paul's purpose in writing this letter was to clarify what law is and how faith is the ingredient that was so often missing. He was not teaching we are saved by faith only.

The best God could do before Christ was to offer his Law, the moral code that assures us we can please God. But God knew this was not sufficient, so he withheld final judgment until after Christ truly conquered sin and provided redemption. The first thing Christ did after his death, even before his bodily resurrection, was to preach the gospel to those who had previously died, offering them salvation. Note that in order for Christ's preaching to the captives in Abraham's Bosom to mean anything, the souls of those listening needed to have the real opportunity to accept or reject the gospel message.


Faith vs Works

Many interpret Paul to be speaking of only two opposing choices, but there are three...

  1. faith — repent from sin; love and worship the unseen God
  2. good works pleasing to God (the law) — the 10 commandments and other moral laws
  3. mere ritual, faithless works (the law) — mere actions performed without faith or love of God

The letter to the Romans opposes only option #3.


Law

The 10 commandments are binding on Christians today; God never revoked these.

In a few places, the word "law" is interpreted by some to mean "principle" or "power"; this to avoid the otherwise clear contradiction of the false Protestant doctrine of salvation by faith only. But law means law and it is always the same Greek word. The ingredients of law...

  1. A lawgiver, preferably God, but Satan and self and tyrants can give laws.
  2. Law has subjects, those who are to obey it.
  3. A consequence for disobedience.
  4. Laws specify behaviors — do this or don't do this. Law is about works.
  5. Law establishes loyalty between the lawgiver and the law receiver.
  6. People may follow laws for various reasons. They may have deep respect and loyalty to the lawgiver. They may fear the consequences. They may wish to conform and not be noticed as an outcast.
  7. Law is for the purpose of a good benefit. Unrestrained immoral behavior destroys the individual and society as a whole.
  8. Law is not an abstract philosophical construct but, rather, a concrete instance of specific laws given by a specific lawgiver to specific recipients. Law is living and is therefore spiritual.
  9. Law is an expression of free will; we can choose to obey or disobey.

(Romans 1:1) Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

Jesus singled-out Paul to be an apostle, appearing to him supernaturally and later instructing him supernaturally. Perhaps in opposing Jesus so strongly, Paul's soul was calling out to God in some way, seeking truth. When Jesus appeared to him, Paul converted instantly.

Calvinists might think this verse supports Calvinism because Paul was chosen individually and specifically. Perhaps we are chosen for our proper role in life and given a suitable personality, but all are called to redemption. Some may not respond until after death.

(Romans 1:2) (Which he had promised afore [beforehand] by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)

The Jews strongly disagree with the Christian claim that the gospel of Jesus Christ is contained in the Old Testament. But the 70–7's of Daniel chapter 9 is unmistakable.

(Romans 1:3) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed [descendant] of David according to the flesh;

Jesus was a descendant of David. The gospels of Matthew and Luke go to great pains to demonstrate this fact.

Notice the assumption by the writer of a prophetic meaning of the Old Testament, in this case, that the Messiah would be a descendant of David.

Other translations have the phrase "Jesus Christ our Lord" in verse 4.

(Romans 1:4) And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

Power is the capability of affecting change in events. Certainly, allowing a corpse in a tomb to again come to life and be animated by the same soul; that is power. Normally the soul, once separated from the body at death, never again inhabits the body as it decomposes, lifeless.

The bodily resurrection of Jesus proves his claim to be deity, the second person of the Trinity. Those who reject the historical fact of the resurrection are rejecting the heart of Christianity.

It is unclear what the phrase "spirit of holiness" refers to: (1) perhaps the Holy Spirit who prophesied via the Old Testament prophets the coming of the Messiah in the flesh; or (2) perhaps Christ's divine spirit which empowered his resurrection.

Other translations have the phrase "Jesus Christ our Lord" from verse 3 in this verse.

(Romans 1:5) By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:

Paul and the other apostles received this, were called to this, by Jesus himself, through no deserving act or capability originating from themselves. The purpose of their calling was to share the gospel that those who would receive it would obey in faith.

The purpose of the gospel is that we obey Jesus. The revealed faith, the gospel, the Christian message of salvation is to give us something to obey. Faith alone is not sufficient, we must obey the faith.

The focus of saving faith is Jesus, his name. The word "name" doesn't mean a mere spoken collection of syllables referring to someone or something; rather, it refers to the essence of the thing named. For example, in asking God for something in the name of Jesus you are asking for something Jesus would approve of, agree to, and delight in; you are interacting with God through Jesus himself.

The apostles were called for a purpose, to share the truth of the gospel to others, to all nations and peoples. The audience of Paul's letter to the Romans is those who are among the nations, to Gentiles as well as Jews.

Not all who reject the Christian message are rejecting Christ. Sadly, the gospel is often distorted so badly or is associated with non-essential baggage so thoroughly that it should be rejected.

Obedience to the faith means works have a role in salvation.

(Romans 1:6) Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:

Just as Paul was called to be an apostle, so also, all Christians of faith are also called.

Everyone is called to salvation: some hear the gospel while alive, some at death. Those who hear it while alive are called by virtue of hearing it. Those who accept Jesus as savior are members of "the called".

This verse says who the Christians were called by (Jesus Christ), the next verse what they were called to (holiness).

Not only are Christians called to obedience, they are also called to holiness.

(Romans 1:7) To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints [holy]: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The audience of this letter is Christians ("the called") living in Rome.

The word "saint" is the same word "holy" used for the Holy Spirit.

This is a Trinitarian verse, having God the Father and Jesus the Son, both as deity.

Notice all the Christians are called to be holy. Just as Paul was called to be an apostle, they were called to be holy. Neither use of the word "called" refers to Calvinism, to being called to salvation. Why would Paul use the same phrase, "called to be xyz", three times in two different ways: (1) for his mission as apostle and for Christian holiness, and (2) for salvation only for those who are called to it (as Calvinism teaches)?

(Romans 1:8) First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

Christians all over the Roman world speak of the faith of the Christians at Rome. From history we learn that the Roman Church was the only one that remained free from heresy for the first 800 years of Church history. (But the Roman Church was not very involved in the early ecumenical councils — Catholics ignore this fact, claiming the pope ruled the church from the beginning.)

(Romans 1:9) For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;

Paul prays for the Christians in Rome often. Probably as he travels or works he mentally cycles through the various people and Churches he has encountered, praying for them all. He habitually does this constantly.

Notice two kinds of spirit: (1) man's spirit, and (2) the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ.

(Romans 1:10) Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.

Paul wants to visit them but hasn't been able to — he's been requesting God to allow it, to work out the details. Paul recognizes he is not totally in control of events; that God must intervene. This is a good way to live our lives; to take the things we want to God in prayer. But notice: Paul's desire is completely selfless; he desires something to bless others. He doesn't desire a large screen TV, or a new video game console. If we're having a hard time praying maybe it's because we aren't doing anything for anyone else.

(Romans 1:11) For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end [so that] ye [you] may be established [strengthened];

Paul can impart spiritual gifts. Perhaps he ordains Church leaders. Or perhaps he is simply referring to teaching them or preaching the gospel to them.

The verb "impart" has a lot of meanings, so this sentence is somewhat vague; we don't know what Paul is referring to.

The phrase "spiritual gift" is vague; it could refer to various things. I can't imagine he means gifts of the Spirit because those can't be imparted by anyone, in fact, there is no mention anywhere in the New Testament about how you get them, only how to recognize them once you have them, and to suggest you should have at least one.

(Romans 1:12) That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

He clarifies his intent of the previous verse — he wishes to enjoy their fellowship, to be comforted by their faith. And them by his. Like puppies cuddling, cozy and warm.


Evangelism

(Romans 1:13) Now I would not have you ignorant [unaware], brethren, that oftentimes [often] I purposed to come unto you, (but was let [prevented] hitherto [until now,]) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.

The audience of this letter is primarily Gentile Christians.

Paul wants to come to Rome to preach to unbelievers using the Christian community there as a base of operations. He has successfully done this in other cities.

Notice Paul's care to inform people of his plans and desires. A good leader effectively communicates with others.

The word "until" here doesn't imply that Paul was now able to visit them.

Notice Paul calls them brothers even though they are not related to him. Saying Jesus had blood brothers because the word "brothers" was used is just plain wrong.

(Romans 1:14) I am debtor [under obligation] both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.

When Paul wrote this, Latin and Greek were the predominant languages of the Roman empire. The upper class (the wise) spoke Greek. A barbarian is one who doesn't speak Greek well, probably they mainly speak their local language. People from all kinds of backgrounds lived in Rome. The "wise" are probably the educated class and the "unwise" are others.

Paul is a debtor because he owes his knowledge to the whole world. Perhaps this is because he persecuted Christians before becoming one himself.

So far in the letter, Paul seems to be focusing on those who are not Jewish and who are not God-fearers (converts to Judaism but not circumcised). The words "Greeks" and "Barbarians" refer to these.

Barbarians are merely those who don't speak Greek and who were therefore not Hellenized either.

(Romans 1:15) So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

Paul seems to shift the tone from affection toward his audience to treating them as strangers needing to hear the gospel. Often, while sitting through a long boring sermon in which the preacher assumes we are all unsaved I felt insulted at being treated like a stranger. I wonder what Paul's readers felt during this transition in this letter?

Even though Paul has been speaking to these Roman Christians as if they are holy and devout, he knows some are phony, living lives of debauchery, enjoying the sinful lifestyle all too prevalent in Rome. He turns his focus to them.


Gospel 

(Romans 1:16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

The gospel message of salvation was first presented to the Jews, to God's covenant people, then to the Gentiles and Greeks. The purpose and focus of the gospel is salvation for all. But we must receive the gift in faith. Those who reject the free gift of God's grace are in big trouble.

God will impart his power to save, to redeem, only to those who accept it, who believe it, who receive it in faith. This verse does not teach the Calvinistic teaching that Christ only died for those who would receive, etc. That is utter nonsense!

Some cultures have a strong emphasis on conformity; non-conformists are to feel shame. Paul is above all this — his concern is for God's opinion of him, not man's. His concern is for truth, for God's truth, for the gospel. We should reject untruth just as Paul did.

(Romans 1:17) For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

The gospel message began with the Jews having the Old Testament which contained the accounts of the great men of faith such as Abraham. It then proceeded to the Gentiles with the advent of Jesus. The Gospel message is from faith (the Jews) to faith (the Gentiles).

The quotation is from Habakkuk. The proud person who thinks they are redeemed by their own efforts are not redeemed, but those who come to God humbly in faith and who live a righteous life pleasing to God.

Whatever does the phrase "from faith to faith" mean? Some think it refers to our faith journey as we accumulate more and more faith after becoming saved. But it seems Paul is talking only about the faith needed to get saved to avoid God's wrath, not the benefits we receive after. Probably it means that faith originates with God in the gospel message delivered by preachers (from faith) and that upon hearing we receive salvation (to faith); it's faith from God and to us.


God's Judgment

(Romans 1:18) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold [suppress] the truth in unrighteousness;

Unrighteousness, unholiness, and wickedness result in judgment from God, in wrath. This judgment occurs at death for everyone. Everyone will have to give an account for all the harm they have caused others.

God's judgment comes from heaven as does his judgment.

The subject of God's judgment of sin is merely a continuation of the gospel. After all, what are we saved from if not from God's wrath? Jesus came from heaven so you could say his coming in the incarnation is a manifestation of God's wrath, of God's judgment. God judges the world by revealing his truth and light. Those who reject it are rejecting God himself.

(Romans 1:19) Because that which may be known of God is manifest [evident] in them; for God hath shewed [made it evident] it unto them.

God has shown those aspects of his nature and character which may be known by people in observing reality around them. Everyone can see sin and its horrible effects; everyone intuitively knows that humans are to be treated with dignity; and everyone is painfully aware that a world without love of one for another is a dismal world indeed. Yet people have created various philosophical guiding principles which allow them to rape, pillage, plunder, enslave, beat, and exploit one another. Only by becoming hard of heart can someone treat others like this.

(Romans 1:20) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

In seeing the dignity of our fellow humans we can see God's creative power and his love for those he created. But humans create various philosophical perspectives which nullify the obvious. You simply cannot explain such things as consciousness and love by mechanistic naturalistic explanations — yet this is what modern atheists do. Those at the time of the apostles believed in the existence and power of the gods; but everyone knew that these gods were flawed, fickle, and untrustworthy guides of righteousness.

Everyone can clearly see that there is a source of life, of truth, of goodness, and of human dignity. This perfect source is God. And everyone can sense the power of some unseen spiritual presence which guides human events and which ultimately results in our death — and hopefully redemption.

Everyone is without excuse when, at death, they meet Jesus Christ who will unmistakably identify himself as deity to all and ask them to accept his offer of redemption. Some (many?) will reject his offer. Those who deny God's moral law and disobey its commands while alive are at risk. Those who deny the obvious existence of a creator God are at risk; perhaps they will delude themselves into denying the real presence of Jesus Christ when they encounter him, preferring, instead, to think it is merely some sort of dream of death to be ignored, just as they ignored the obvious presence of God while they were alive in this world.

(Romans 1:21) Because that, when [even though] they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain [futile] in their imaginations [speculations], and their foolish heart was darkened.

This verse assumes people all know God, at least in part, but reject his proper role in their lives. We are to glorify God, to give him preeminence, to thank him for his many blessings including creating us.

The consequences of rejecting God: (1) we have a wrong understanding about reality, and (2) our soul becomes spiritually dark.

(Romans 1:22) Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

A life not focused on God is a wasted life.

(Romans 1:23) And changed the glory of the uncorruptible [undecaying] God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

Idols. Changed. Corruption.

They don't change God, rather, they hold a false view of God, or should I say, no view of God, preferring instead idolatry.

(Romans 1:24) Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

Notice the context: idolatry.

Sinning makes you unclean. I wonder why people watch movies and TV and listen to songs having unwholesome lyrics. It seems to me that stuffing all these unwholesome images and words in your head would make you unclean. These will need to be removed sooner or later, in purgatory if not sooner.

(Romans 1:25) Who changed [exchanged] the truth of God into [for] a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Changed. Nothing is true unless it has God's presence mixed in. Of course, there are many false views of reality which have some sort of spiritual aspects, even a deity or deities, so it is important to have the correct view of God and his nature.

We are created as worshippers. If we don't worship God we will worship his creation, including creatures. Atheistic scientists seem to worship human reason and the universe (but they don't think of what they are doing as worship). Worship of anything except God is idolatry. But Paul probably has in mind pagan idolatry, not watching too much TV or playing video games or following actors or music artists or politicians.

(Romans 1:26) For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

Notice the context: idolatry.

Being ignorant of modern biology and evolutionary biology, Paul is ignorant of examples in which the standard norms of human heterosexuality is not natural at all. Perhaps Paul is referring specifically to the design of certain organs of the physical body but I doubt it. Referring to this as vile is like referring to the mating habits of other creatures as vile because they don't conform to human standards. Anyway, I don't want to discuss this topic.

Personally, I find the emphasis on boy-girl male-female relationships in our society to be vile. I realize our hormones make us obsessed about the topic but, being civilized, we should control this better. Even fundamentalist evangelical Protestants do this, always talking and thinking about finding a mate and getting married, and dressing up the women to be sexually attractive and the men so obsessed with women's attractiveness (the men are the ones who should wear makeup — most of them are ugly).

An example of using natural law to come up with a false conclusion.

The statement, "if the barn needs painting, paint it", is an example of a vile opinion of women and of their relationship with men. This is no different than the way the animals relate, having different appearances for each sex.

(Romans 1:27) And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet [suitable].

Notice the context: idolatry. These people Paul refers to have no thought of whether their actions please God; they are thinking only of pleasure.

God judges our deeds using the law as a guide for what pleases or displeases him. This verse contradicts faith only by emphasizing works in the context of judgment.

(Romans 1:28) And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate [depraved] mind, to do those things which are not convenient [proper];

God releases them to enjoy the wages of their sin which is death. We must keep God in our mind, we must have knowledge of God. When we push God from our mind and life, we become depraved. Lucifer did this. Notice the emphasis on works. It is the works of those having a depraved mind which matters. Just so, it is the works of one who retains God in their mind that matters. That which is in our mind and heart leads to works which either please or displease God.


List of Mortal Sins

Christians should seriously consider the following list of mortal sins. Those who do these should realize that their salvation is at risk. Saving faith requires good works, this contrary to the "saved by faith only" teaching so common in Protestantism.

(Romans 1:29) Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate [strife], deceit, malignity [malice]; whisperers [gossips],

(Romans 1:30) Backbiters [slanderers], haters of God, despiteful [insolent], proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

(Romans 1:31) Without understanding, covenantbreakers [untrustworthy], without natural affection, implacable [warlike], unmerciful:


(Romans 1:32) Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Even the Greek philosophers taught the necessity of virtue.

Why do Christians partake of entertainment and fiction involving people committing mortal sins? I simply do not understand it. In my view, the only time we should involve ourselves with such things is in studying history or current events. But even reading the news about seedy individuals seems unwholesome to me; it is hard to view the home page of most news websites without feeling morally violated in some way. It's like seeing the tabloid covers in the supermarket line — but now it's literally everywhere! on billboards and buses; in the art museums; on the sound systems in supermarkets; on TV's and video game consoles of even many Christians; you can't escape it.

Those who commit mortal sins are deserving of not being redeemed, of eternal spiritual death.

(Romans 2:1) Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

Paul informs us who these people are who do the same, who judge others — it's Christians who don't live to high moral standards, those who commit the mortal sins listed above.

Paul has been speaking about non-believers and how wicked they can become. Now he warns Christians not to be judgmental in their attitude toward them because they can be just as wicked. He seems to spend a lot of time warning Christians not to be so wicked; I wonder why they had such a low moral standard in that day? Perhaps many of them were soldiers?

Paul's audience: people living a very depraved lifestyle. I suppose those who don't can ignore this section.

(Romans 2:2) But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.

The judgment from God is against those performing the horribly wicked acts mentioned at the end of chapter 1.

(Romans 2:3) And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

Paul states that everyone, including Christians, are judged by their works, by whether they commit mortal sins.

(Romans 2:4) Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness [moral excellence] and forbearance [tolerance / self restraint] and longsuffering [patient endurance]; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

(Romans 2:5) But after [according as] thy hardness [stubbornness] and impenitent [unrepentant] heart treasurest up [stores up] unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

Since they are waiting for Christ's coming, this implies he comes at their death; that everyone encounters Christ at death and they are received into the kingdom of heaven at that time. It doesn't make sense for them to be exhorted to wait for Christ's coming if it occurs thousands (millions?) of years after they have died.

The "day of wrath" is the day of judgment; it occurs at death for everyone.

Confirming that Paul is, indeed, referring to habitual sin and those who will end up eternally damned because of this.

(Romans 2:6) Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

Salvation by works.

Note that we are judged by our works. It is hard to understand how so many Christians can deny this fact when there are so many verses clearly stating it. In a sense we judge ourselves: when we come into God's presence we respond to his holiness based on our habits and behaviors and attitudes. Those who cling to their sin will be repulsed; those who love God more than their sin will run to him, will run into the brightness his glory, trusting in his mercy. Salvation is more than a mere intellectual exercise, more than a mental believing in facts of history. Will we jump off into his arms like a trusting child when we encounter Christ in person on judgment day? Our habitual behavior while in this life will dictate that answer.

(Romans 2:7) To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

Notice that good works are necessary for salvation and that it is possible to do these good works.

(Romans 2:8) But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

Those who reject righteousness and holiness in their dealings with others are in big trouble.

Notice that truth is not a mere intellectual or philosophical construct, rather, it embodies God's divine will for all creatures. Thus, obeying truth requires living a life pleasing to God, a life of love and service to others. The quest for truth has a moral component.

(Romans 2:9) Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

Paul is not shy about mentioning the bad consequences for those who do evil works; he mentions it again and again.

Previously Paul had contrasted Jew and Greek; here it is Jew and Gentile. He is finally settling-in on his main topic for his main audience: proving that Christians don't need to first be Jewish; that Gentile (non-Jewish) Christians do not have to become Jewish to be Christian. In presenting his argument, Paul must carefully explain the role in God's plan for the covenant with the people of Israel. Christianity builds on Judaism, it does not supplant it.

(Romans 2:10) But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

Notice that Christians and non-Christians are all judged the same way; by their works.

(Romans 2:11) For there is no respect of persons with God.

Even though Christians have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, he still judges them the same way as non-Christians. Thus, the idea that our sins are merely covered and that God looks at Jesus' righteousness and judges him in our place; this is simply incorrect. We are each individually judged for our faith in God expressing itself through works of devotion, love, righteousness, and holiness; this resulting in a changed life and heart.


Law

Paul first uses the word "law" in this verse and uses it often after this.

(Romans 2:12) For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

Those without law are non-Jews, the Gentiles; those with law are the Jews. So much of the New Testament addresses the topic of salvation for Jews and for Gentiles, but this question means nothing for us today.

Judgment of sin is a reality for both groups.

Everyone is bound by God's law. It is incorrect to say that Christians do not have to obey the law. It is a common theme in the New Testament that Christians are to practice obedience to Christ, to his law.

Different groups of people at different times have a different law, but all these lead to the same goal — obedience, devotion, and loyalty to God. Some examples...

Even those without law can sin; having the law is not a prerequisite. Later Paul states you can only sin if you have law; he's a confused thinker at times. Three categories of people...

  1. 200,000 B.C. to Adam — had no law
  2. Adam to Moses — had no law
  3. Moses to Jesus — Gentiles had no law

I reject dispensationalism in which God has completely different plans and purposes for different groups at different times. Even for those of the Old Testament nation of Israel, their salvation was based on performing works pleasing to God performed in faith. Everyone of all eras must act out their faith based on their knowledge, so the details of how and why they choose holiness over sin differ, but everyone must choose to repent of sin and to follow God.

(Romans 2:13) (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

Only Jews who followed the law were saved. Some claim that it was impossible to follow the Old Testament law and that, therefore, no Jews were ever redeemed. This is absurd! The next verse states that even Gentiles can do it.

The problem is that the Jewish leaders added to the law making it impossible even for them. In fact, often when they accused Jesus of breaking the law, it was this added law they were referring to.

(Romans 2:14) For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

People often interpret this verse as meaning that Christians are saved in a different manner than Old Testament Jews; that Old Testament Jews must obey the Mosaic Law for salvation but Christians need only have faith to be saved. This is not what this verse says.

Everyone has their own life experiences and their minds contain the information they received from their senses. Those who lived in Old Testament Israel were to conform to God's law revealed in the Old Testament; they were trained in this law from birth. However, non-Jewish Christians did not have any of this training or experience so their relationship with God is formed in the context of their non-Jewish life experiences. When the Judaizers attempted to demand all Christians must adopt Judaism as a prerequisite, the apostles disagreed in the council of Jerusalem.

Gentiles do the law? I don't think so. They don't have the temple sacrifices or feast days or ritual cleansing and a million other things from the Old Testament. We might think Paul is referring only to the moral law, to the 10 commandments, but not so.

Paul's use of the word "law" is very loose, sometimes morphing mid-sentence.

Two categories of Gentiles...

  1. God-fearers
  2. Non-Jews

(Romans 2:15) Which shew [show] the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

The essence of the 10 commandments is even discernable by those not knowing of it.

As a fundamentalist evangelical Protestant I was taught that conscience is formed in each person with a complete set of moral laws built into it; in studying psychology I learned that this is not true, that some people's conscience is deficient. That being said, I do believe that each person's soul has a connection with the Holy Spirit who guides them in choosing what to do and not to do. Catholics call this prevenient grace. This is one (of many) examples in which I prefer Catholic teaching to Protestant; the Protestant teaching just doesn't make sense and it contradicts the Bible.

(Romans 2:16) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

The day in which God will judge each one is the day of their death; this day comes soon for each person, within a short lifetime of a maximum of 125 years.

Judgment for sin is part of the gospel. Those who neglect to mention this are not preaching the true gospel but a false gospel. Notice that God judges the condition of our heart. He judges us for our works and our thoughts and attitudes.


To Jews

(Romans 2:17) Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest [rest] in the law, and makest thy boast of God,

Paul seems to be addressing Jews. Perhaps he knows that Jews interested in Christianity will be listening-in during the church service when his letter is publicly read. They didn't have inexpensive printed Bibles available back then, and there was no New Testamant at all; it was still being written.

In the early days of Christianity many Christians were former Jews who still practiced Judaism. The Judaizers demanded that even Gentiles should first become Jewish in order to become Christian — the first heresy of the Church. Much of the New Testament addresses this heresy of the Judaizers.

Paul is speaking to morally depraved Jews. They steal, commit adultery, rob from the temple.

(Romans 2:18) And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;

Jews had advantages over Gentiles in knowing God and his revealed will for humans. Notice this comes from their having the law. God's will is expressed in his law, in his communications via divine revelation.

(Romans 2:19) And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,

The Jews were able to teach others about God and his ways.

(Romans 2:20) An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form [embodiment] of knowledge and of the truth in the law.

It seems Paul holds the Jewish law to a high standard, thinking it to accurately convey the mind of God. Through the Mosaic Law we learn of God, his nature, his commands, the moral law, and how to treat one another with dignity.

The law contains knowledge and truth. Having the law, the Jews could teach others.

(Romans 2:21) Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?

Teachers and preachers who themselves do what they teach and preach against. In my opinion, hypocrisy like this in Christian leaders invalidates their leadership credentials.

Apparently, having revealed knowledge is not so useful after all since those having it didn't follow it. The same warning applies to Christians today.

(Romans 2:22) Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege [rob temples]?

It's hard to understand just who Paul is speaking to; is it to committed Christians who yet do the most horrible of things? Or perhaps to Roman soldiers who would likely be pressured into committing all kinds of grave offenses? But these would be Gentiles, not Jews.

From verse 17 above we see that Paul is speaking to Jewish Christians, those claiming you must be Jewish to be a Christian. Are these really that poorly behaved? I doubt these Jewish Christians would recognize themselves in Paul's description; they would think he is talking about somebody else.

There is no temple to rob in Rome. Paul is probably referring to the Jewish leaders who covet the offerings of the worshippers and who steal or materially benefit, living an extravagant lifestyle.

(Romans 2:23) Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?

(Romans 2:24) For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.

Still speaking about Jews in this extended passage beginning in verse 17.

(Romans 2:25) For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.

Paul jumps to the topic of circumcision. I don't see how the Gentiles would find any of this interesting in the least.

The Gentile God-fearers were not circumcised so this passage is not directed toward them. Paul's audience...

  1. Jewish Christians who may become influenced by the heresy of the Judaizers
  2. Jews who may be interested in Christianity
  3. Not Gentiles

Paul uses the word "circumcision" to refer to the Jews; those of the covenant of Abraham and Moses. Paul later reminds them that it was Abraham who first introduced circumcision.

Notice that Paul states the Mosaic Law is beneficial; but only for those who keep it. Merely being a cultural Jew is useless; they are no better than Gentiles.

(Romans 2:26) Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?

Paul emphasizes that keeping the law is necessary, even for Gentiles. Later in the letter Paul turns to the subject of faith and it seems everyone forgets all these passage emphasizing the need for works.

(Romans 2:27) And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?

Those who keep the law are judges of those who break the law. In this case, Paul refers to righteous Gentiles as those who judge unrighteous Jews. This is not the kind of thing proud Jews would want to hear. Paul is very bold, perhaps foolhardy, to speak this way to Jewish Christians.

(Romans 2:28) For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

The word "flesh" refers to the body.

(Romans 2:29) But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

Paul redefines Old Testament circumcision.

A true Jew doesn't follow the Old Testament law? If they don't follow the Old Testament they are not Jewish at all except as an ethnic Jew, but I don't think Paul is talking about that.

Paul appears to redefine the word "Jew" but actually invents a new meaning for the word. He is not invalidating any of what the word "Jew" refers to nor is he demeaning it in any way. He takes the spiritual essence of what it means to be a Jew (having a mind, heart, and life focused on God) and applies the concept to Christianity. Thus, Christians and Jews are, in essence, the same. People usually interpret this verse to mean the opposite, that Christianity superceded Judaism and Judaism is, therefore, invalid. All that is missing from the life of Jews is their failure to recognize their awaited Messiah. In my view, Jesus will reveal himself to them at the time of their death and those who are truly lovers of God will receive him at that time.

Paul equates circumcision with the law. Just as removing the foreskin resulted in joining-in to God's covenant, so also, cutting away Original Sin through receiving the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at salvation results in redemption.

(Romans 3:1) What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?

Paul doesn't want people to interpret his "spiritualizing" of being a Jew as denigrating and criticizing God's work in choosing the Old Testament nation of Israel and giving it the law.

(Romans 3:2) Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

The Jews were given the Old Testament, the word of God.

Some interpret this verse as if Paul is saying that the only reason God gave the Old Testament to the Jews is so they could pass it along to the Christians; that they received no benefit to themselves from their special role as a covenant people. This is, of course, absurd.

(Romans 3:3) For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?

Many interpret Paul to be speaking of only two opposing choices, but there are three...

  1. faith — repent from sin; love and worship the unseen God
  2. good works pleasing to God (the law) — the 10 commandments and other moral laws
  3. mere ritual, faithless works (the law) — mere actions performed without faith or love of God

The letter to the Romans opposes only option #3.

It seems every topic Paul speaks about, he has to refute silly and idiotic objections.

(Romans 3:4) God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings [words], and mightest overcome [prevail] when thou art judged.

An outrageous comment by Paul; he doesn't think before he writes. Why would he want everyone to be a liar?

The verse in Psalms 51:4 means that God is just when he judges sin. It's hard to imagine why Paul feels he needs to provide support from the Old Testament for this notion. Are the people he is writing to really claiming that God is unjust in judging sin? Or has Paul merely backed himself into a logical corner in his usual tangled web of argumentation?

(Romans 3:5) But if our unrighteousness commend [demonstrates] the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)

God is supremely righteous and so he is qualified to judge. This implies there is something unjust for God to judge against. But critics accuse God of being no better than a human when he judges sin because he is acting unrighteously (so they say) in punishing someone. I think they are thinking of someone screaming at their child to not scream, something like that. The idea is that in judging, God becomes unrighteous because punishment is inherently unrighteous.

I think there is an element of truth in this objection and that God does not actively and willfully throw people into eternal fire. In my view, people are judged when their wicked souls flee from the holy presence of God. The further they flee, the less of God's blessings they receive. Paul hints of this earlier. Some are stupid enough to even reject eternity in the presence of God and instead choose the lake of fire, as far from God's presence as you can get. Now that is pure hatred!

It seems every topic Paul speaks about, he has to refute silly and idiotic objections.

(Romans 3:6) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?

God is righteous. For how is someone who is unrighteous qualified to judge at all? Since God is the judge, he is, therefore, supremely righteous. The error of these critics is to think bad of God; to demean and minimize God. The essence of proper praise and worship of God is to proclaim of the best of God in every aspect possible.

(Romans 3:7) For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?

Another thoughtless objection. Since my unrighteousness makes God righteous as a judge, therefore, I am not really unrighteous after all since my unrighteousness causes God to do a righteous act (righteous judgment). Whoever thought of this objection can't think clearly. Our unrighteousness makes us righteous? Really? Are they serious?

Eastern philosophy makes a similar mistake. In claiming that good and evil are really just two aspects of the One reality, this implies that reality is not morally good since it contains evil and that evil is eternal alongside the eternal goodness of God. Thus, God or deity is stripped of moral purity and goodness; deity can be evil after all. They inadvertently end up having to worship evil as an aspect of God. This is what prompted me to abandon forever eastern philosophy. I was offended by evil and did not wish to accept it as part of the God I worshipped.

(Romans 3:8) And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.

Don't you just hate it when people blatantly misrepresent the views of others? I found this to be the case when I converted to Catholicism; fundamentalist evangelical Protestants misrepresented everything (I'm not exaggerating; I mean everything) about Catholic teaching, doctrine, and history.

(Romans 3:9) What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;

I think Paul is returning to his comparison of Jews and Gentiles from verse 3. Jews are not better than Gentiles just because they were the caretakers of God's law. Only in obeying God is someone righteous. It was not enough that the Jews were citizens of the nation of Israel, they needed to live a holy life of faith and good works in order to please God. Old Testament history shows that, in general, they did not do this leading to God's judgment on multiple occasions.

The word "all" means "some", those who disobeyed God's law; some of all categories (of both categories, Jew and Gentile).

(Romans 3:10) As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Thus begins an extended quotation from Old Testament passages, loosely quoted.

This is one of those verses that mindless robotic Protestantsuse to prove their doctrine of total depravity. But in looking at the Old Testament verses we see that this is not what was intended at all.

This is one of those verses in which mindless robotic Protestantsinsist that the word "all" or "none" means each and every last one with no exceptions. But there is at least one exception: Jesus.

From Psalms 14:3 describing the general wickedness of the culture of the day.

(Romans 3:11) There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

From Psalms 14:2 describing the general wickedness of the culture of the day.

(Romans 3:12) They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

(Romans 3:13) Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

From Psalms 5:9 contrasting the righteous with the wicked. From Psalms 140:3 asking for protection from the wicked whose characteristics are described in detail. From Psalms 10:7 asking God to protect the Godly and judge the wicked.

(Romans 3:14) Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

(Romans 3:15) Their feet are swift to shed blood:

Again, Paul's audience is murderers.

From an extended passage in Isaiah 59:7—8 describing wicked people who will be judged.

(Romans 3:16) Destruction and misery are in their ways:

(Romans 3:17) And the way of peace have they not known:

(Romans 3:18) There is no fear of God before their eyes.

From Psalms 36:1 describing how God will judge the wicked.

(Romans 3:19) Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

Referring to the Jews who were under the law. By observing God's interactions with his chosen people the Jews we can learn of God's moral standards. But technically, only the Jews were under the law.

(Romans 3:20) Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

The Jews under the law did not turn out to live out the law; rather, as we learned from the prophets, many, especially the leaders, lived wicked lives and corrupted the people.

This verse applies only to Jews, not to Gentiles, since Gentiles were not under the law.

Only in having a clear standard for comparing our actions to, do we clearly recognize the goodness or sinfulness of our actions. This is why the Old Testament law still applies to Christians even today, so we will know what pleases and what displeases God. If we know God's heart we can change our ways to please him.

We might ask how the knowing of sin neutralizes a person's ability to please God through performing good works? The unspoken assumption seems to be that once we know what God demands of us our abilities of performing actions pleasing to him are neutralized. It's as if knowledge of the law destroys our willpower like a powerful magnet attracting us uncontrollably toward sinful deeds. Certainly we see this in the history of Old Testament Israel; a general degradation of moral standards in the culture resulting in God's judgment of the nation. Perhaps this is what Paul is referring to; to historical Israel in general, not to each Jew in particular.

Some teach we are totally depraved and cannot hope to perform actions pleasing to God, therefore, our only hope of salvation is through faith disconnected from works. Unfortunately, the New Testament as a whole does not corroborate this teaching.

Implies that without the Old Testament there would be no knowledge of sin, and, therefore, that Paul is only talking about the 10 commandments. But he clearly isn't; after all, he just finished discussing circumcision which is not one of the 10 commandments.

(Romans 3:21) But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

Even God's standards for those not under the law are revealed by God's prophets in the Old Testament. Thus, any religious system accurately representing God's mind and heart comes from the Bible. The further away any philosophical or religious system is from having a biblical basis the more errors there will be. Thus, even Christianity is "Jewish" at heart.

Through Jesus Christ, God has established a new covenant apart from the Old Testament covenants, especially with the nation of Israel. The Old Testament laws and the Old Testament prophets speak of redemption through Jesus Christ, via the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity. Merely imposing law was not adequate to reform the soul of humankind; human nature required "deification" by Christ as deity taking on human nature himself and redeeming it for all humans.

(Romans 3:22) Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

Redemption requires appropriating God's grace of salvation offered to all humans through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. Salvation by works only is not sufficient.

Sadly, people often misinterpret the idea that we are not saved by only faith (works also having a role) as meaning we are saved by only works. I think of it this way: just as a coin has heads and tails, so salvation has two aspects: faith and works. Both are part of the same coin, of saving, redemptive faith. True repentance leading to good works is inseparable from saving faith. Mere faith of the mind only is not saving faith; true saving faith requires the body. Even the thief on the cross exhibited works: with his spoken words he defended Jesus and proclaimed his trust and loyalty to him.

People often assume that salvation through faith means works have no role, however, this notion is not corroborated in the New Testament.

(Romans 3:23) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

How does an infant sin? Or a fetus in the womb? Perhaps Paul is limiting his discussion to those after the age of accountability who have certainly by then willfully sinned. Or perhaps he is referring to the human soul which is damaged by original sin and is incapable of demonstrating the clarity of moral influence on the body to avoid sin.

This verse is an example of the word "all" meaning "some". Jesus did not sin nor did he come short of the glory of God.

If it wasn't for our sinning we would be in the image of God, we would be "deified". In my view the new heavens and new earth is merely this world, this universe, but with sin removed. Our soul is no longer tempted to sin; our soul is truly cleansed of sin, made perfect in purgatory; and God longer has the covenant obligation to Lucifer which has been the cause of all pain and suffering since the creation of life in the universe maybe 1 to 3+ billion years ago.

We humans are to be the glory of God. He desires nothing but the best for us. In creating us, God planned that we would some day manifest his glory (once redemption is fulfilled in the new heavens and new earth). This speaks of "deification" as I mention above.

(Romans 3:24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

We are redeemed as a grace from God, this, through the intercessory work of Jesus Christ in the incarnation, in his sacrificial death, and his resurrection. Everyone who ends up in the new heavens and new earth, the redeemed, are there as a direct result of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, there is no other way. Notice that this verse doesn't mention faith nor works, but rather, God's role in salvation, in his work that makes it possible.

(Romans 3:25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [appease] through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance [holding back] of God;

The word "propitiate" means to appease; in this case God's wrath against sinful humans is appeased by the blood sacrifice of Jesus.

Why is sacrifice needed? God hears us when, in sorrow and suffering, we call out to him to save us. Jesus called out to God the Father to redeem the human race and all life in the universe when he endured the same kind of suffering experienced by everyone. Out of love for us, Jesus allowed himself to experience the worst of human misery so his heart's cry to the Lord would be genuine. How could God the Father resist answering this?

We appropriate God's grace of redemption through our faith in God's redemptive plan through Jesus Christ. But how can we have this kind of saving faith without also admitting of our need for redemption from our sins and without truly repenting of these sinful deeds, in other words, by doing good works. Repentance is a work, it requires doing and not doing things, it requires changing behavior and attitudes.

The word "forbearance" merely means not to do it, in other words, God doesn't kill the sinner if there is a suitable blood sacrifice offered in his place and if the sinner has true redeeming faith in the efficacy [effectiveness] of this blood sacrifice, faith in the God who honors the blood sacrifice. As we saw in Genesis, this death of the sinner is both spiritual and physical. Spiritual death means eternal separation from God; physical death doesn't occur immediately but eventually we all die.

God the Father sent Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, to be the blood sacrifice for all time. Once God himself provided the sacrifice for sin, there was no need for any more blood sacrifices. In the Eucharist, Jesus is not offered again as a sacrifice, rather, his once-for-all sacrifice is entered into again mystically. This is similar to when we remember an event; the event doesn't actually occur again but we relive it in our mind.

The mere dying in our place of Jesus is not sufficient for our redemption; we must appropriate it via faith. This implies there is a point in time in which we each accept or reject it. And this point in time must of necessity occur as the last event in our life, or even just after death. Here's why: if it happens too soon, any subsequent sins will not be covered. We can't ask God to forgive our yet-future sins; this is a violation of the covenant of redemption with God. In order to receive salvation we must seriously repent from the sins of the past; we must seriously intend to never do them again. (This is why works are required for faith.) Thus, God can only forgive past sins, not potential future sins. At the end of our life we will each one of us be given the opportunity to review all our sins causing eternal death (mortal sins) and to receive Christ's atoning sacrifice in our place for each of these. Even those who have never heard the gospel will be given this opportunity.

To atone for our sins via blood sacrifice, the victim must be without sin. In the Old Testament this was acted-out by an unblemished animal, by not offering up an animal known to be defective in some noticable way. In the true scheme of things it requires that only God himself can be our blood sacrifice. This of course requires the incarnation, that God himself would take on human nature as his nature, that God would "deify" human nature. Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, did just this.

The blood sacrifices of animals in the Old Testament were necessary because of the horrific enormity of sin. In like manner, to truly appease God, to gain favor again with God; this also required a blood sacrifice. Just as the first sin of Adam resulted in death, so also God would require a substitutionary death to atone for sin. I think this is because God proclaimed that sin leads to death. As a consequence, to avoid the death requires the death of an innocent victim. In a sense the sacrificed animals of the Old Testament are unwitting and unwilling martyrs to provide redemption for the sinners. This doesn't seem fair somehow but neither does the operation of the universe in which animals must eat each other to survive. This pain and suffering, this death and dying inherent in the very fabric of the universe was created by Lucifer (and allowed by God). God honors his covenants, including his covenant with Lucifer, and must work out his redemptive plan in the context of this covenant of death he made with Lucifer before the creation of the universe. God allowed Lucifer to create this kind of universe, but God will finally redeem it all at the new heavens and new earth.

(Romans 3:26) To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

God is just and righteous because he has provided a way for everyone to become redeemed, if only we would each accept this gift. Once Lucifer's dastardly influence on this world system is removed, the redeemed will enjoy the universe as God intended it to be. God is just in these ways...

  1. He honored his covenant with Lucifer and righteously disposed of it.
  2. He created creatures and tested them whether they would truly love God and follow him into eternal paradise.
  3. In spite of his covenant with Lucifer, God provided a way that our sin and its consequences could be neutralized.

Critics of God might object that God is not righteous because he allowed sin to enter and to mess things up in the first place. But consider: the only way God could create creatures and guarantee they don't sin is to create them without free will. Thus, in creating creatures capable of freely loving God he also created the potential space outside of his holy nature in which sin could occur. Of course, Lucifer all-too-happily filled this space in his quest to be like God. I for one am unwilling to object of God's choice to do things the way he did. But I must endure the scourges of sin and am all-too-happy to accept redemption via faith in Jesus Christ the savior of the world. I long for eternity with God in the utopian paradise of the new heavens and new earth.

(Romans 3:27) Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

Paul refers to faith as a law of the same order as the law of Moses. Just as the Old Testament law provided a framework for living and worship and community, so also the law of Christian faith provides the same.

Redemption comes from God, not from us. We shouldn't be too puffed-up if we are smart enough to receive in faith the gift of eternal salvation offered by the grace of God, through Christ's sacrificial death. We should, rather, be thankful and grateful that God enlivened our soul via the Holy Spirit to clearly see our predicament and to choose life over death. And we should be thankful and grateful that we did this while yet alive so we can enjoy the benefits of living a life pleasing to God. Some who have never heard the gospel accurately presented will have to wait until death to learn of this.

Paul now contrasts what he has been calling the law with the new law, with the gospel message of salvation. Even the Mosaic law required faith to be useful and effective. Later, God told the people their sacrifices and offerings were not acceptable because they did not walk in the ways of God and did not listen to God's anointed prophets, in other words, they did not have faith. The Old Testament law was always intended to be performed in the context of faith — the faith of the individual and the faith of the community as a whole.

[law] People who wish to support their notion of saved by faith only abruptly change the meaning of the word "law" in this verse to mean "principle" or "power". But it's the same Greek word as used many times previously. The next verse uses the same word again but it clearly doesn't mean principle.

(Romans 3:28) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

For some reason, Protestants seem to think this verse nullifies all the preceding verses, that all the truths proclaimed in the first chapters of the letter to the Romans can be safely ignored.

These Protestants completely miss the meaning of this verse. They think it means we are saved by faith only without the need for works, but it really says we are not saved by works only.

Paul previously stated that even those not having law obey law. Now he says we don't need law, meaning, Old Testament Mosaic law. We still need moral law, the "law of faith".

Yes we are saved by faith as opposed to works of the law. Both Protestants and Catholics believe this.

(Romans 3:29) Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:

Many Jewish converts to Christianity mistakenly believed only Jews could be saved; that Gentiles must become Jewish to become true Christians. But just because Christianity is based on Judaism doesn't mean we are required to practice Judaism.

Some Jewish Christians even thought Gentiles were irredeemable, forever rejected by God. In the New Testament we find much discussion of such topics. These mean nothing to us today; these questions have been long settled.

(Romans 3:30) Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

In this verse we see that Paul uses the term "circumcision" to refer to Jews. Thus, using the word this way it is not a figure of speech but, rather, an idiom defined by Paul himself. Idioms are not figures of speech, at least not according to several dictionaries.

There is only one path to salvation: faith.

This verse does not define faith as being void of works although Protestants often read that meaning into verses such as this.

Only the God-fearer Gentiles would care about Paul's continual reference to circumcision and how it's not needed.

(Romans 3:31) Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

How do you establish the law by rejecting the law?

Paul is careful to mention that the precepts of the law are included in faith, in other words, you have to have good works to please God. What good is it to live a life unpleasing to God while proclaiming to the world we have saving faith? Faith requires having both good behavior and a proper attitude. Someone who hates God doesn't have faith. Someone who hates others doesn't have faith. Someone who habitually commits mortal sin doesn't have faith.

Paul is careful not to negate the law. Thus, Christians are still bound by the precepts of the 10 commandments, of the moral law of God.

Protestants must downplay the necessity of our obedience to the law. However, the law is still in operation in its proper relationship to faith.


Abraham

(Romans 4:1) What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

Going back before Moses to demonstrate Mosaic law is not binding nor absolute.

(Romans 4:2) For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

(Romans 4:3) For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

This verse is so mysterious. All Abraham did was believe it when God supernaturally informed him that he would have a son in his old age. How does that qualify as saving faith, as righteousness?

In the early days of the Church, the Old Testament was utilized often to support the teaching of the apostles and the early church fathers. Once the New Testament writings became readily available, these were also used.

(Romans 4:4) Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

(Romans 4:5) But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

(Romans 4:6) Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth [credits] righteousness without works,

It is a blessing from God to be considered as righteous by God without our having earned it by our good works. This is because we don't earn favor from God by our works.

(Romans 4:7) Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities [transgressions] are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

Sins are forgiven, not ignored. But unrepented sins are not forgiven.

(Romans 4:8) Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

(Romans 4:9) Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.

Paul brings up circumcision yet again. He's clearly talking to "God-fearers" who are being pressured to get circumcised by the Judaizers.

(Romans 4:10) How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.

(Romans 4:11) And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed [credited] unto them also:

Abraham was commanded to practice circumcision only after he believed God. Paul considers this timing all-important. It's as if God had two covenants with Abraham...

  1. Of faith, for all who believe, Jew and non-Jew
  2. Of circumcision, later the law of Moses, for Jews only

But this makes no sense; the Jews of Moses' day were also descended from this same Abraham, the father of faith. Judaism was based on Abraham's faith also (based on Paul's argument) since circumcision came after Abraham's faith. But Judaism is not based on the covenant of circumcision at all but, rather, on Moses and the Exodus. Not only that, Abraham's child of promise, Isaac, was conceived and born after the covenant of circumcision. Paul is trying too hard to prove (to himself?) that Christianity supercedes Judaism.

It is Jesus who was descended from Abraham; non-Jewish Christians are not descended from Abraham. It's through faith in Jesus we are redeemed, not in believing Abraham was the ancestor of a great nation and numerous descendants. And it's through faith in Jesus we are redeemed, not because we have faith in God's promises just as Abraham did. Even Jesus was Jewish. The reason Christianity departs from Judaism is because Jesus as deity took on human nature and redeemed it. Even Jews can be redeemed.

You could make the case that Paul is demonstrating the society and rituals of Judaism are not required for Christianity. This is true, but Paul's argument does not demonstrate this. Also, Paul seems not to be discussing this topic at all. Rather, he seems to be making the point that redemption comes through faith, not law. His conclusion is, of course, correct.

(Romans 4:12) And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

We should consider the nature of Abraham's faith since he is our spiritual father. His faith is not anything like what is taught by fundamentalist evangelical Protestants.

Paul looks to Abraham as the Old Testament human ancestor providing spiritual continuity allowing for salvation of gentiles. But I doubt if gentiles cared about any of this; Paul is really trying to convince Jewish Christians to accept gentiles as validly Christian. This Jewish-gentile debate occupies much of the New Testament but means nothing to us today, yet fundamentalist evangelical Protestants seem to think they must somehow emphasize this topic too. They needn't bother; it was for those of that time, not for us of today. It is only of interest to us as a historical side note.

There are other ways for Christians to understand the Old Testament without needing an antecedent human ancestor to somehow nullify the necessity of the Mosaic covenant. In Paul's day this was not an option; the Jews were trying to abolish Christianity and the Judaizers were trying to make Christians become Jews first. We can (and should) safely ignore this whole debate. This topic is an example of why Sola Scriptura (scripture only) leads to distorted teaching, emphasizing the wrong topic merely because the New Testament emphasizes it. (But why don't fundamentalist evangelical Protestants also emphasize being unmarried since Paul emphasizes it?)

(Romans 4:13) For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

In the book of Genesis, God promised Abraham his descendants would be a great nation. Jesus was born of this nation and provided redemption to the world. But Paul overstates what God actually promised; Abraham never thought his descendants would be the whole world as Paul states it here.

Paul's main point is that Christians are not redeemed by practicing the Mosaic Law. Many Christians misrepresent this by insisting Paul is contrasting faith with works, but he is not.

(Romans 4:14) For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:

(Romans 4:15) Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

No law = no violation.

It was not the purpose of the Mosaic law to demonstrate that we can't keep law and must therefore reject it. Why would God waste people's time and lives for over a dozen centuries to make this point? Is history to be our source of truth; as we look to see which ideas worked out and which didn't? That's not Christian thinking.

Before Adam and Eve there was no law, so the modern humans before then were not accountable in the same way. (Note: the first true modern humans came into existence 200,000 years ago.) But even so, each of them encountered Jesus when he "went to hell" and they had to choose to follow him to be redeemed.

(Romans 4:16) Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

The topic at hand is the promise to Abraham, that he and his promised descendants would be heirs of the world. It's for those of the Mosaic Law and those having the faith of Abraham.

We should consider the nature of Abraham's faith since he is our spiritual father. His faith is not anything like what is taught by fundamentalist evangelical Protestants. We receive the grace of faith by coming into a right relationship with God as Abraham did.

(Romans 4:17) (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth [gives life to] the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

The phrase from the NASB translation I listen to all the time caught my attention: "calls into being that which does not exist". In most translations this phrase seems to not refer to the previous phrase, that of giving life to the dead, of the resurrection. What caught my attention was the present tense word "calls"; that God is continually calling into being that which doesn't exist. This perfectly matches my Creative Frames theory of the cosmos in which God creates the universe out of nothing a trillion trillion trillion times per second in the same manner as he created it all the first time.

Father of many nations: Paul emphasizes non-Jewish nations. Paul didn't know at the time that Islam would come from these nations or he might not have been so eager to cast-off Judaism.

(Romans 4:18) Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.

Notice that Abraham's faith consisted in believing that God would grant him a son and that he would have many descendants through that son, becoming a great nation. His faith is not anything like what is taught by fundamentalist evangelical Protestants.

(Romans 4:19) And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred [100] years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb:

His affair with Hagar shows that Abraham was weak in faith at first. He believed he would have a son but not with his wife. But God didn't mention who the mother would be until after Ishmael was born. Abraham's faith was weak because he committed a mortal sin (relations outside of marriage) in his misguided zeal to accomplish God's will. He thought God's promise was impossible with Sarai, his wife, but he still believed God's promise, meaning, he had faith. After that incident, Abraham's faith became strong as God continued to speak with him.

Abraham had to perform works to activate his faith. He had to continue trying to conceive a child with Sarai.

(Romans 4:20) He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

(Romans 4:21) And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

Abraham's faith is not anything like what is taught by fundamentalist evangelical Protestants. It was not directed toward his individual salvation but, rather God's promises and power. This is the case with all the heroes of faith.

(Romans 4:22) And therefore it was imputed [credited] to him for righteousness.

Abraham was righteous because God promised him something and he believed it; he directed his hopes and dreams toward God and his promises and his power to accomplish them. Abraham was not believing in God for his personal salvation.

(Romans 4:23) Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed [credited] to him;

Abraham's faith was for an example to us, a model. This is how God teaches, by choosing persons and events in the past for us to study and emulate. We don't just figure out this stuff on our own, rather, God intervenes in human affairs to teach and direct us. This started with Adam and Eve.

(Romans 4:24) But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed [credited], if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

Just as Abraham believed God's promise to him and that God had the supernatural power to accomplish it, so also we believe in Christ's work for our redemption.

(Romans 4:25) Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Jesus was Jewish and a descendant of Abraham. Paul's argument of going back to Abraham unravels.

Jesus redeemed human nature, deifying it, to make it possible for humans to one day enter in to the new heavens and new earth for eternity. Abraham knew nothing of any of this.

The soul/spirit of Jesus was delivered from the usual consequences of death. Once detached from his body, his deity was activated. Satan should have known that killing Jesus would redeem human nature.

In Paul's long argument involving Abraham's faith, this is the first mention of sin and our need for redemption from its effects. Paul uses Abraham's faith in God's promises as a model of believing God's word, not of receiving redemption from sin. This is odd; we should expect Abraham's example of faith to be all about redemption, but Abraham's faith is not at all directed towards redemption. This is the case also with all the heroes of faith.

(Romans 5:1) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

We are justified by faith. Fundamentalist evangelical Protestants assume this means works are not needed to have true faith, as if faith is purely mental. But faith is mere belief, in the mind, until activated by action.

Paul's argument does not prove that Christians who believe in God's promise of a savior will feel at peace with God, after all, Abraham believed in God's promise of a son and felt at peace; there was no need for him to know anything about Jesus.

The implication is that those under the Mosaic covenant did not have peace with God, did not feel peace with God, because they still feared God's wrath upon them. But this is incorrect: they did feel at peace with God, or should have. Perhaps those Jews of Paul's day had lost sight of their connection with God (I doubt if modern orthodox Jews have these concerns).

Certainly Paul knew what it felt like to be Jewish and whether or not they felt at peace with God but he was one of the fanatics, killing Christians in the name of Judaism. And Christians historically were no better than the Jews in feeling at peace with God.

This all highlights my observation that the early Christians having a Jewish background spent an excess of time and energy convincing themselves that, somehow, Christianity was merely a continuation of Judaism. This means nothing for us today and meant nothing to the non-Jewish Christians back then.

(Romans 5:2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

(Romans 5:3) And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

Paul makes it sound like persecution and tribulations are a good thing, even necessary for making progress on the spiritual path. Weird!

(Romans 5:4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

(Romans 5:5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Yes, we should have hope in the new heavens and new earth because only then will life finally be what was intended.

(Romans 5:6) For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

(Romans 5:7) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure [perhaps] for a good man some would even dare to die.

(Romans 5:8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

(Romans 5:9) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Notice we are justified not just by Christ's death but by his blood. Shouldn't we then use images of blood in our worship such as Catholics do? (Crucifix, Sacred Heart of Jesus, Divine Mercy Chaplet, Eucharist.)

(Romans 5:10) For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

(Romans 5:11) And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement [reconciliation].

In redemption we become united again with God. Formerly we were separated from God due to original sin such that, at final judgment, we would have chosen to reject God's mercy; the guilt of our soul blinded us from feeling worthy of redemption; we would flee in shame from God's presence as Adam and Eve did after they ate the forbidden fruit. Really this is the essence of redemption: do we run to God assured of forgiveness for our obvious shortcomings, or do we flee ultimately into the Lake of Fire?

(Romans 5:12) Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

In the day Adam sinned he died, but didn't physically die for centuries. Therefore, the death that came into the world with Adam's sin was spiritual death, not physical death. This spiritual death was only for humans, not animals. At the fall, animals did not suddenly grow fangs and begin eating each other, nor did humans only begin eating animals at that time; humans were hunter/gatherers long before agriculture developed. The young earth creationist view makes no sense whatsoever and it has destroyed Christianity's credibility in the culture.

Spiritual death passed to all humans because it invaded human nature in the spiritual realm. Justification from sin involved Jesus reclaiming human nature by deifying it. Other ideas about atonement (ransom theory, penal substitution) make no sense at all.

The word "all" doesn't mean all— Jesus is not included. (Nor is Mary.)

(Romans 5:13) (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed [credited] when there is no law.

People seem to assume this verse means there was no sin in the world until the Mosaic law but, of course, this is absurd. Because of original sin everyone sins, even without law (as verse 14 states).

The word "until" doesn't imply there was a change of condition afterwards. In this case, sin is still in the world even after the coming of Christ.

(Romans 5:14) Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

The sin of Adam caused death to all of humanity even though only Adam (and Eve) ate the forbidden fruit.

Not typology. Redemption history started with Adam. Jesus came to solve the sin problem, but not as a second Adam, a "good" Adam who made the right choice this time. That is the kind of conclusion Typology should demand.

(Romans 5:15) But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

It's not Typology. The two events are not alike.

(Romans 5:16) And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

It's not Typology. The two events are not alike.

(Romans 5:17) For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

(Romans 5:18) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

(Romans 5:19) For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

(Romans 5:20) Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound [increase]. But where sin abounded [increased], grace did much more abound [increase]:

God did not institute the Mosaic law to make people sin more. Paul is so obsessed with providing continuity from the Old Testament to Christianity that he overstates the meaning and significance of every detail.

God desires holiness for each person. The giving of the Mosaic Law was to increase people's holiness — for those who desired holiness. This had a side effect of increasing their awareness of sin. But note that most of the contents of the Mosaic Law had nothing to do with not sinning but, rather, with the rules and regulations of a spiritual nation. Paul doesn't distinguish between these aspects of the law and neither do most commentators resulting in complete confusion in understanding these passages.

God's grace is always available to provide redemption from the effects of sin for those who repent of it.

(Romans 5:21) That as sin hath reigned [ruled] unto death, even so might grace reign [rule] through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

In choosing to sin we give in to the power of wickedness in the spiritual realm; it rules over us.

God's Spirit rules over us when we accept God's grace and repent of sin. There are two kingdoms, two influences, and we choose one. God's kingdom is righteous and holy having no place for sin. People in the modern world who reject the concept of sin do not have the proper understanding of the workings of the spiritual realm nor of God's nature as holy.

(Romans 6:1) What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound [increase]?

I'm surprised Paul wastes his time refuting such idiotic questions. Perhaps he has learned that people are looking for any excuse to have permission to sin, by purposively misunderstanding Paul's meaning.

It seems every topic Paul speaks about, he has to refute silly and idiotic objections.

(Romans 6:2) God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

(Romans 6:3) Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

Salvation by baptism. Baptism is not merely a symbol or a mere act of obedience.

By baptism we are united with Christ.

"Into his death" — we can receive the benefits his death procured for us.

(Romans 6:4) Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

"Buried with him" — an add on phrase to "into his death".

"Raised from the dead" — we enter into the blessings of eternal life; this includes benefits while yet alive before we die.

(Romans 6:5) For if we have been planted together [united with him] in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

The hope of resurrection, of the new heavens and new earth.

Paul only mentions death and resurrection, not being buried. He repeats this again in 6:8, 6:10, 6:11.

(Romans 6:6) Knowing this, that our old man [self] is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth [no longer] we should not serve [be slaves to] sin.

Paul is now finally addressing true Christians who have truly repented of their sins.

Our body is not literally crucified with Jesus, however, I interpret Paul's words literally just the same — the crucifixion of the old man is not a mere figure of speech. The body of Jesus was crucified, as was his soul (the seat of conscious experience and of our life itself). The spiritual powers of darkness buffeted his soul attempting to destroy it. In like manner, the spiritual powers of darkness that have invaded our soul are crucified and destroyed when we become redeemed. This same exact process occurs with us. The difference is, of course, that the powers of darkness were not tangled up inside the soul of Jesus as with us, rather, there were merely crawling around on the surface of his soul, so to speak, unable to penetrate it.

Paul seems to believe sin resides in the body. He doesn't want our entire body to be destroyed, just that part ruled by sin. But sin resides in the soul in the spiritual realm.

(Romans 6:7) For he that is dead is freed from sin.

(Romans 6:8) Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

Three kinds of death...

  1. Bodily death. Just as Jesus died bodily, so will we.
  2. Spiritual death — sin kills our spirit by separating us from God.
  3. Dying to sin. In choosing redemption through repentance from sin and from faith in Christ's redemptive work, we "die" to sin.

Paul is probably referring to option 3. But Jesus had no sin, and so we are not dead with him in this sense — he was never "dead to sin". Paul's use of these metaphors is very loose and we should not try to find deep hidden meanings in them. It's hard enough to even understand what he is talking about.

Just as Jesus was resurrected after bodily death, so will we be — but not until his second coming.

(Romans 6:9) Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

(Romans 6:10) For in that he died, he died unto [to] sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto [to] God.

Sin leads to death. We should wonder why Jesus died since he was sinless. It's because he, as deity, took on human nature becoming subject to the conditions of humanity. Thus, it's not just our personal sin that affects us but the the current corrupt reality with the powers of wickedness pervading in the spiritual realm. We have no control over these and neither did Jesus because he was truly human. All we can do is call out for God's grace to redeem us from sin and to grant us the power to truly repent. After death, as pure spirit, Jesus was able to manifest his deity to transform the human condition. The full effects of this will only finally appear when Satan is cast into the lake of fire.

The word dead in this verse is used twice with a different meaning each time...

  1. in that he died — his body ceased to function as his soul left it. This is what happens to all humans.
  2. he died unto [to] sin — the power of sin no longer affects him; he is immune to it.

Jesus lives, meaning, he was bodily resurrected. In being resurrected he conquered sin bringing ultimate redemption to humans also in God's kingdom, to those who repent of sin and accept redemption.

(Romans 6:11) Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto [to] sin, but alive unto [to] God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In repenting from sin and being redeemed through God's grace, we unite with Jesus receiving the benefits he obtained for us. The word dead in this verse means the same as the second meaning in the previous verse.

(Romans 6:12) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

We are renewed but yet we must still avoid temptation and sin.

Apparently we have control over whether or not we sin. This implies we can be free from sin, that we can be perfect. The tendency to sin may attempt to influence us, to "reign in us", but we can disobey these promptings and remain free from sin.

This does not mean we can conquer sin without God's help; we need God's help. But by relying on God and asking God in times of difficulty, we can overcome.

None of this means we are saved by works only — we certainly are not.

Paul seems to believe that sin resides in the body and that lust originates in the body.

(Romans 6:13) Neither yield [offer] ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield [offer] yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

The soul is in control of the body. It commands the body to act.

(Romans 6:14) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Those under the Mosaic law were slaves to sin? Nonsense!

(Romans 6:15) What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

This is the same dumb question as before.

Some use this verse to prove that those under the Mosaic Covenant were redeemed by keeping the law instead of by faith. This is wrong. Faith requires works and the Mosaic Law defines mortal sin. They had faith in God as displayed by their good works.

It seems every topic Paul speaks about, he has to refute silly and idiotic objections.

(Romans 6:16) Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

It appears that the kind of slavery Paul is referring to was willingly entered into, perhaps a form of long-term employment. But I wonder if the one seeking such an arrangement had little choice, having no other opportunities available and starvation as the alternative.

The key to a holy life pleasing to God and to eternal redemption is to obey God.

(Romans 6:17) But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

(Romans 6:18) Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

(Romans 6:19) I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness [sanctification].

Implies that even the good Christians lived lives of debauchery. What kind of culture did they live in? Sounds much worse than our modern culture today having at least some sense of decency.

(Romans 6:20) For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

You cannot be holy and righteous while at the same time sinning. These are mutually exclusive concepts; it's one or the other, not both.

In this verse, Paul's use of the opposing images of slavery and freedom causes confusion. Yes, we were in bondage to sin before redemption but we weren't free from anything; we were in bondage. Only upon becoming redeemed are we free; free from the bondage to sin with its effects. Part of the reason Paul was hard to understand was his confusing use of language.

(Romans 6:21) What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

(Romans 6:22) But now being made free from sin, and become servants [slave] to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness [sanctification], and the end everlasting life.

Those accepting salvation by faith only typically make a strong distinction between justification (salvation) and sanctification. But notice in this verse, repenting from sin (a work) results in salvation and sanctification.

Notice that it's possible (and required) to be free from sin. Thus, sinless perfection is desirable and achievable.

(Romans 6:23) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Eternal life vs. eternal death. Eternal life is a gift of God's grace; eternal death is the natural consequence of sin, since it drives God away and he doesn't, therefore, grace them with the gift.

(Romans 7:1) Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?

How is Paul the apostle to the Gentiles? Why would they know the law? Only God-fearers would fit this category.

(Romans 7:2) For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

Not a very good illustration. Just as a woman is free to remarry if her husband dies, so also we are released from the Mosaic law in accepting Christ's redemptive work of dying for us. Released from the law by Christ's death just as the woman is released from her marriage contract through her husband's death. But why are non-Jewish Gentiles released from the law at all since they were never under the Mosaic law? Paul is not speaking to Gentiles en masse, only to those who had accepted Judaism as God-fearers.

(Romans 7:3) So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

(Romans 7:4) Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

Jews, who are under the law, become "dead to the law" by no longer being subject to the curses for disobedience to the law.

Paul's argument is weird; we should not take it too seriously. Since the law died (they became dead to the law) when Jesus died, they are no longer bound by their covenant to the law; they are free to join the new covenant in Christ. This would all be simpler to understand if Paul merely stated that the new covenant supercedes the old. Perhaps he is tying to disguise the meaning to avoid conflict with the Jewish leaders.

I suppose there is a sense in which Jesus, as deity, was mystically and spiritually united with the old covenant; it was part of him, a piece of his being. When he died, the old covenant died also. But Jesus only died bodily and physically, not spiritually.

Jesus, as deity, subsumed the old covenant into his person, into his nature, by being born a member of the old covenant. The problem is how the old covenant can be forever binding on its members yet superceded by the new covenant. I suppose Jesus in some way fulfilled the full purpose of the old covenant and then established the new covenant. In becoming a member of the new covenant you unite with Jesus mystically and fulfill the old covenant through him, as part of him. In a similar way to uniting with him by consuming the consecrated bread and wine in the Eucharist. That's the nice thing about Catholic (and Orthodox) doctrine; it provides a way to understand difficult concepts.

The phrase "body of Christ" clearly refers to the actual flesh and blood, physical, material body of Jesus which was crucified on the cross.

(Romans 7:5) For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins [sinful passions], which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

Many Christians view law, spiritual law, religious law, as a bad thing with their wrong view that law forces us to sin (by tempting us). Paul's assumption is that the rules of the Mosaic Law in some way provoke the weakness in the soul (caused by original sin) and triggers it to sin. I doubt the law does this. The law merely provides a way of measuring our actions to determine if they were sinful. Living under law makes our perception of sin keener. I suppose in that sense it is proper to say that law triggers sin.

(Romans 7:6) But now we are delivered [released] from the law, that being dead wherein we were held [bound]; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Many Christians view law, spiritual law, religious law, as a bad thing with their wrong view that law was abolished by Jesus. Paul says the law is void for Christians so they are now free to serve (as if a slave) in the spirit. This assumes, I think, that there is content in the dictates of the spirit (whether this is the human spirit or the Spirit of God) making it too a law of sorts. We are to obey this spirit.

(Romans 7:7) What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

We wouldn't know we were sinning without law?

  1. 200,000 B.C. to Adam — no sin at all
  2. Adam to Moses — only sinned due to...which law did these break?
  3. Moses to Christ — only Jews can sin?
  4. Christ to now — only Christians can sin?

Something is wrong with Paul's teaching.

Sin consists in: the soul's acting on the evil impulses placed there by Lucifer, and the soul's ignoring the prompting to goodness, beauty, and love placed there by God.

In other words, you can sin without knowing you are doing so. The action itself combined with the intent is the source of sin; not our comparison of behavior to a law.

It seems every topic Paul speaks about, he has to refute silly and idiotic objections.

(Romans 7:8) But sin, taking occasion [opportunity] by the commandment, wrought [worked] in me all manner of concupiscence [desire to sin]. For without [apart from] the law sin was dead.

Paul makes it sound like law triggers sin by triggering our desire to sin (caused by original sin). It's as if we wouldn't sin if we weren't reminded of God's law. But of course this is nonsense; non-religious people sin all the time. They don't need the law to remind them to sin.

It is true that you can't break a law if there is no law. For example, if there is no speed limit, you can't speed. But this aspect of law is trite in the extreme. God did not give the law so people would start sinning; he gave it so they would know the heart of God (because they obviously didn't know this). Those who love God would adjust their behavior and attitudes to please God.

(Romans 7:9) For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

In order to redeem humans God must first highlight their offense by imposing his divine law.

This sequence of events never happened to Paul but only to Adam. Sin revived in the sense that it was waiting in the background to ensnare, then became activated. Notice that sin appears to be a living thing, and so it is; a wicked spirit, the spirit of Satan, living in the spiritual realm.

(Romans 7:10) And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.

(Romans 7:11) For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

(Romans 7:12) Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

This is a key verse. If the law is holy, why should Christians believe we are above the law, that we don't need the law? The truth is that faith and works are two aspects of the same thing. Only when we work do we express our faith. And works without faith do not result in redemption. The law provides parameters for our works, making clear the boundary between God's goodness and holiness, contrasted with rebelliousness causing sin.

(Romans 7:13) Was then that which is good made [cause] death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear [be visible as] sin, working [causing] death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

The law doesn't cause judgment; sin causes its own judgment. The law is merely a way for God to communicate the reality and essence of his goodness and holiness, making it easier to discern when we have sinned, making it easier to avoid sinning.

Paul refutes those claiming the law causes the judgment, implying that we would be better off without law, that God hates us by giving the law.

It seems every topic Paul speaks about, he has to refute silly and idiotic objections.

(Romans 7:14) For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

(Romans 7:15) For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

Paul is not talking about himself personally but, rather, explains the thought process of the human condition (before the new heavens and new earth).

(Romans 7:16) If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

(Romans 7:17) Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

(Romans 7:18) For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

This verse confused the Protestant Reformers. They taught that humans are totally depraved, that none of their acts are good, that every act we do is fully sinful. This is nonsense. Our human soul is basically good but being tainted by the sin nature makes it is difficult for us to clearly discern the good from the bad. This sin nature has severed our fellowship with God, and performing good works is insufficient to re-establish the broken fellowship. God demands absolute moral perfection which we simply cannot deliver.

Notice that Paul states that he wishes to do good; at least that part of his soul is morally connected with God's will. The difficulty is in the execution of the good, of not becoming distracted by the temptations and habits which distract us from doing the good. But the Protestant Reformers with their teaching about total depravity deny that we can even desire to do good, but this verse refutes that. Many fundamentalist evangelical Protestant denominations today teach total depravity using such crass images as menstrual rags and dung heaps. But we are created in the image of God and the fact that we have taken on a sin nature does not change that fact.

(Romans 7:19) For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

(Romans 7:20) Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

(Romans 7:21) I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

[law] People often interpret this use of the word "law" as "principle" but it is the same Greek word used just a few verses before as clearly meaning law. This law Paul refers to is a law that originates from with our self under the influence of the wicked spirits. God's law is to have the same kind of influence over us; it is to overwhelm our will with an irresistible urge to obey. When we jettison our faith, our will becomes weak as the Holy Spirit departs our soul and we listen to other voices, to other commands.

The various translations of this verse are quite different indicating they don't understand the meaning. Paul has just spent many verses describing the all-too-common phenomenon of knowing an action is not pleasing to God and of wanting to please God, but doing it anyway, from an inner compulsion that drives us forward almost against our will. This weakening of our will is original sin, concupiscence.

(Romans 7:22) For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

There are two laws: (1) the law of God, the law from God, and (2) the law from within us influenced by the wicked spirits, a law that rejects God's will for us.

(Romans 7:23) But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

There are two laws: (1) the law of God, the law from God, the law of the mind, and (2) the law from within us, from our members. It is unfortunate Paul describes this unhappy kind of law a being within our physical body. I think he was influenced by the philosophy of the day which thought of the soul as good and the body as bad. But we know this is not true. In the new heavens and new earth the resurrected body is quite good and we were in fact created very good. The badness is spiritual, from our soul inhabiting the spiritual realm and is influenced by the wicked spirits. The bodily appetites originate from the soul, not the body. The body only does what the soul commands; it does not have a mind of its own.

[law] People often interpret this use of the word "law" as "principle" or "power" but it is the same Greek word used elsewhere clearly meaning law. Paul refers to two kinds of law: (1) the law from God, and (2) the law from our carnal self. Just as God makes laws, so do we. We should always follow God's law rather than our own law, especially when our law is at odds with God's law. God's law comes to us from the Holy Spirit into the depths of our soul. Our self-made law comes from our soul, perhaps influenced by the wicked spirits inhabiting the spiritual realm in which our soul lives.

Paul contrasts the mind and the body claiming: (1) the mind is superior, and (2) sin originates with the body. This is straight from Aristotle. The Christian emphasis that the body is bad is misguided and has plagued Christianity even from apostolic times. Sin originates in the soul residing in the spiritual realm. Even the wicked spirits commit wicked deeds even without having a body at all. The human soul is tightly connected with its body but the impulses controlling it originate from the soul. The body merely provides sense information to the soul for it to interpret and act upon. Even Aristotle taught that the mind could control the passions; why should Christians wrongly ascribe the body as the source of sin?

(Romans 7:24) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

(Romans 7:25) I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Two aspects of us: (1) mind, and (2) flesh. Two laws: (1) law of God, and (2) law of sin. Later he changes to: (1) "mind set on the Spirit", and (2) "mind set on the flesh" — the mind now being both good and bad, willfully choosing between the two.

[law] People often interpret this use of the word "law" as "principle" or "power" but it is the same Greek word used elsewhere clearly meaning law.

The word "flesh" does not refer to the body but, rather, to the carnal aspect of our soul, the part which was weakened by original sin and influenced by the wicked spirits in the spiritual realm.

Paul seems to have adopted the idea of Aristotle and Plato that the highest good is the intellect, the mind, the reason. (I should note that the Catholic Church bases its doctrine on Aristotle, but I reject Aristotle and the other philosophers.) Likewise, the idea that the body is the source of trouble and badness. This has plagued the Church for about 2,000 years and has resulted in the notion that sex is bad. My view explains it all much better.

Paul is considering two aspects of humanity: (1) that which is not tainted by sin (called "the mind"), and (2) that which is tainted and tempted by sin. It seems he was influenced by Greek thinking in referring to the mind in this way.


Flesh vs. Spirit

(Romans 8:1) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Both words, flesh and Spirit, refer to aspects of the human spirit, of the soul, which lives in the spiritual realm. The word "Spirit" (with a capital S) refers to the Holy Spirit which is tangled-up with the soul of the Christian. Note that each person has the choice whether or not to activate the influence of the Spirit in their lives — whether to walk in the flesh or in the Spirit.

This verse doesn't state that there is no condemnation for those Christians who walk after the flesh. It is a common false teaching that our works have no role in our salvation; and so they misinterpret this verse to mean that every Christian walks after the Spirit, which of course they don't. Then they have to go to great lengths to try to explain how people who walk after the Spirit can be so wicked.

(Romans 8:2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

There are two kingdoms: the kingdom of God (the Spirit of life) and Satan's kingdom (causing sin and death). In becoming born again, we switch loyalties from one to the other. Of course, our souls still reside in the same spiritual realm with the wicked spirits so we are influenced and tempted by them, but our true destination is heaven.

The word "law" referring to the Spirit is the same kind of thing as the law of sin and death. The Mosaic Law was the law of sin and death because it did not empower the Israelites to obey it.

[law] People often interpret this use of the word "law" as "principle" or "power" but it is the same Greek word used elsewhere clearly meaning law. In fact, the very next verse uses the same word, this time clearly referring to the Mosaic Law.

Faith is a law too? Is everything a law?

  1. Is truth a law?
  2. Is the word a law?
  3. Is liberty a law?

Paul uses the word "law" to mean who-knows-what, as a container for his ideas.

(Romans 8:3) For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

By the word "law" Paul is not referring to the Mosaic law as such, but to the system of salvation based on following rules. In interpreting the word "law" as meaning the Mosaic law you must also conclude that no one in the Old Testament was saved since all they had was the law. This, of course, is nonsense! Those in the Old Testament were saved in the same manner as Christians today — by faith in God's mercy. In the Old Testament they worked out this faith in the context of the rules, rites, and rituals (but also having teaching about God's attributes, his grace, etc.) Christians still do this as well; we must obey the 10 commandments; we must form communities of believers; we must be baptized and partake of communion.

The key aspect of the law Paul refers to in this verse is that we do it: we obey it, we perform sacrifices to atone for our sin, we celebrate holy days, etc. But salvation is from God and of God; his grace is imparted supernaturally to us who will receive it in faith. This does not mean there is no works component in true faith. People usually make the false dichotomy between saved by faith only and saved by works only, but Paul is not saying this.

Notice the key ingredient in God's grace of redemption for the human race: God took on human nature and incorporated it into his divine nature. In other words, God "deified" human nature. As God's light and truth spreads eventuality into the whole of each person who is redeemed, sin will be finally and forever judged and cast away from God's presence into the lake of fire. This process of "deifying" human nature by Christ is only partially complete at this time. He will finish the work at the Great White Throne judgment.

(Romans 8:4) That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

The final goal of the Mosaic law and of Christian faith is righteousness.

We must actually walk after the Spirit to gain the benefits of righteousness. The phrase "walk after the Spirit" does not merely mean that we believed the gospel at some point in the past; we must walk with the Spirit day by day, moment by moment. Those who don't are walking after the flesh.

The law is still in full force; Jesus came to fulfill the law, not abolish it. The Spirit of Christ works in us who are redeemed to cleanse us of sin. This happens while we are living on the earth and also after death in purgatory. Our souls are finally purified before entering the eternal state. Notice that those of the Old Testament were not redeemed until finally Christ came to them and preached the gospel.

(Romans 8:5) For they that are after the flesh do mind [set their minds on] the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

Paul informs us that our words and behavior evidence whether we are walking by the Spirit or by the flesh.

A key ingredient in living a life pleasing to God, a life of the Spirit, is what we do with our mind. Presumably this refers to our affections, emotions, intellect, thoughts, will, attitudes, and every other aspect of our soul life. We are to keep out of our minds the garbage that comes from sin. This is why I boycott TV, movies, many novels, bad company, and the many depraved and polluting aspects of our culture. We are continuously bombarded with spiritual garbage.

(Romans 8:6) For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Two opposing aspects: (1) "mind set on the Spirit", and (2) "mind set on the flesh". The mind is both good and bad, willfully choosing between the two. Goodness or badness for us consists in our choices to act. God created us good but allowed for free choice to chose to reject this good.

Those who walk after the flesh will spiritually die, while those who walk after the Spirit will have eternal life and peace.

Those who will not end up in the new heavens and new earth (unless they repent and become born-again) are not only eternally dead, but they are spiritually dead now — their souls are not enjoying the benefits of being enlivened by the Holy Spirit.

Those who are born-again enjoy the gifts of the Spirit, such things as peace, joy, unity.

Flesh = the part of the soul rebelling against God. Spirit = the part of the soul in unity with God's plan and purpose, in love with God and desiring to love him and all created creatures. Flesh is not the same as body.

(Romans 8:7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

The law of God: Paul uses the word "law" to mean who-knows-what, as a container for his ideas.

Those whose soul walks after the flesh, who have a carnal mind, are enemies of God. In choosing Satan's kingdom they must reject God's kingdom. We can only be loyal to one; we must choose. Becoming saved is a matter of choosing sides.

In having a carnal mind, in walking after the flesh, they are being disloyal to God and his kingdom and are choosing Satan's kingdom. Mortal sin is when they have gone too far and are ejected from God's kingdom and again live in Satan's kingdom.

Notice that being born-again means that we are still following the law; we do not become free from the need to obey the law just because we become a Christian. The question is, which law are we following? Also, I should note: the Mosaic law was also God's law; it was not Satan's law. In obeying the Mosaic law in faith and love of God, they were following God's law. In treating the Mosaic law like a rule-based system as the Pharisees did, they are actually rejecting God's true Mosaic law and substituting a man-made law.

Those with a carnal mind reject God's law and refuse to be constrained by it. This implies that a necessary ingredient to being saved is conforming to God's law and obeying it. Thus, we are not saved by faith only but, rather, works have a role.

(Romans 8:8) So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

We are to please God. Living in the flesh does not please God.

(Romans 8:9) But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Christians possess the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

There are 2 possible conditions: (1) in the flesh, and (2) in the Spirit. But sometimes Christians who have the Holy Spirit indwelling them live in the flesh. In fact, preachers spend a lot of time trying to persuade Christians to stop living in the flesh. The teaching about this topic is a jumbled mess. In trying to get you saved they make much of how glorious it will be to have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. But then the flesh comes along and ruins everything.

I think the truth is that our soul dwells in the spiritual realm and is all tangled up with the spirit if darkness as a consequence of original sin. In receiving Christ, the Holy Spirit intervenes and shields our soul somewhat. But we can thwart this by allowing our attitudes and behaviors to be less than holy. It's a lifelong struggle. You "belong" to Christ if you have invited-in the Holy Spirit to indwell you and don't eject it by committing mortal sin.

(Romans 8:10) And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Notice the duality between body and soul. We have two components: one physical, the other spiritual. The soul lives forever; the body dies but lives again after the general resurrection. The body dies because of original sin

Christians are not immune to physical death. Having the indwelling of the Holy Spirit does not affect the condition of the body and the human condition in general. What is unsaid here is what becomes of those not having the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, of those unredeemed.

Paul seems to be saying that sin resides in the body but the Holy Spirit resides in the soul, in the spiritual realm. But actually, both reside within the soul, in the spiritual realm.

(Romans 8:11) But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [enliven] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

A Trinitarian verse — two times over. Just as God the Father raised up Jesus from the dead, so also he will raise us up at the last judgment.

The new heavens and new earth.

(Romans 8:12) Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

We don't owe it to our carnal, fleshly nature to follow after its promptings, rather, we are to resist these and follow after the Spirit.

(Romans 8:13) For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

In other words, don't do things unpleasing to God. Notice that works is a key ingredient of salvation. This verse directly connects salvation with works. I don't see how anyone can deny that works have a role in salvation. People usually claim this means we are saved by works only; that you are either saved by faith only or by works only. But there is a third option: true faith has works. If it doesn't have works it is not faith.

(Romans 8:14) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Salvation and redemption is a question of loyalty, of whether we will follow God and his commands, his law, or whether we will instead follow Satan and our own appetites. In choosing loyalty to God we allow God to lead us. This leading consists in obeying God's law, of living a morally pure and holy life pleasing to God, and of worshiping God. Some Christians having a charismatic leaning seem to think we should ask God what to do from moment to moment and he will clearly answer us. This is a risky proposition as these same people readily admit that it is hard to know for sure if you have heard the voice of God or of some other spirit being.

(Romans 8:15) For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

(Romans 8:16) The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

We know we are redeemed by the Spirit. This matches the Protestant reformers' view of the assurance of salvation, that we can know we are saved. The problem is when a person knows they are saved but they are not. A consideration of their works is key to determining whether or not they are redeemed; we are not saved by faith alone (nor are we saved by works alone).

(Romans 8:17) And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Not all Christians suffer for Christ. Paul seems to assume we should. Perhaps this is the source of...

  1. The martyrdom of Christians in the early years of the Church. This didn't have to happen if Christians would have clearly made known their loyalty to the state. Paul even promotes the idea that government (even by the Romans) is good. But the Christians flaunted it causing persecution; this was poor diplomacy by the bishops.
  2. Paul's imprisonment. He seemed to seek it out when he easily could have avoided it — he was repeatedly warned.

(Romans 8:18) For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Paul compares the condition in the present world with conditions in the new heavens and new earth. But he is not referring to the general suffering of the human condition but, rather, to the sufferings experienced by Christians as they are persecuted to various degrees.

God will one day reveal his glory in us who are the redeemed; we will be deified. Just as Jesus took on human nature into his nature as deity so also he will allow us to enjoy the benefits of living in this deified human nature. Of course, we will always remain created creatures.

(Romans 8:19) For the earnest expectation of the creature [creation] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

All the souls of all creatures of the universe are awaiting the revealing of the sons of God. I think the phrase "sons of God" refers to humans once they receive their eternal resurrection body in the new heavens and new earth.

I think people have a hard time with this verse because they interpret the word creation or creature to refer to the physical material universe instead of the souls of all created creatures residing within the spiritual realm. We must make a proper distinction between nonliving inert matter and living vibrant life, of souls. In my view the physical realm is not living; all life occurs in the spiritual realm. All creatures are awaiting the new heavens and new earth. This implies that all creatures will be resurrected just as humans are and will inhabit it as well. Humans will have a unique role in the new heavens and new earth and are therefore called "sons of God".

(Romans 8:20) For the creature [creation] was made subject to vanity [uselessness], not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,

All life before the final eternal new heavens and new earth is not operating in God's perfect will and God allowed this to occur for his plan and purpose. These several verses clearly refer to more than just humans, in fact, they seem to refer to all life living within this universe. The souls of all living creatures are hoping for redemption. Only humans have to make a choice whether or not to follow Christ; all other creatures are innocent of wrongdoing and have no original sin so they are, by God's grace, granted entry into the new heavens and new earth.

(Romans 8:21) Because the creature [creation] itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

I have never heard a satisfying explanation of this verse. How can the creation long for redemption? Is the universe redeemed? My system explains it all.

(Romans 8:22) For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth [suffers] in pain together until now.

This verse is usually interpreted figuratively; I prefer a strictly literal approach. In order for the physical universe to groan and suffer, it must be living; it must have a living soul. In my view, for each aspect of the physical world there is a corresponding aspect in the spiritual world. Thus, we each have a physical body, a spiritual body and a soul. Based on this verse we must conclude that even the universe operates this way; there is a physical universe, a corresponding spiritual universe, and a soul. This soul of the universe must have some aspect of consciousness, enough so that it can groan and suffer. Lucifer has corrupted even the universe, not just lifeforms.

The word "until" doesn't imply there was a change of condition afterwards. In this case, this condition persists even today — it didn't end when this letter was written.

(Romans 8:23) And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

The word "they" is not in the Greek text. Some translations substitute "this", some leave it out altogether.

Christians possess the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. But notice that our present indwelling is incomplete, there is more to come later in the new heavens and new earth.

(Romans 8:24) For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?

What is the point of salvation if not to be bodily redeemed? The hope itself does not actually save us as the King James suggests.

We only hope for something that does not yet exist. We hope for our resurrected body but once we have it we will no longer hope for it. An important question: how much of our time do we spend hoping for this and how fervently do we hope for it?

(Romans 8:25) But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

(Romans 8:26) Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

(Romans 8:27) And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

(Romans 8:28) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

This is good news for those who love God. (Those who don't are in big trouble.) The ultimate end is eternity in the new heavens and new earth in which sin is no longer present and we can live our lives as God originally intended, according to his plan and purpose. It doesn't get any better than that.

The condition for becoming redeemed is to love God. You can't love God if you commit mortal sins. You can't love God if you are merely neutral towards him or if you don't believe in him or if you hate him.

Does God call some but not others? God calls everyone but some refuse to hear his call. He can't call those into a deeper relationship with him if they won't hear his preliminary call to repentance. God is always calling us to him; at any time we can refuse to hear him, refuse to obey him.

God does not see evil and wickedness. He knows of their existence in some way, but he cannot experience the horror of the effects of sin and wickedness. What God does sense is that there is some kind of disorder needing repair. He considers all aspects of every situation and does what he can best do to bring things back into order, into right relation with his plan and purpose, and with his holy nature. He made some sort of covenant with Lucifer which he cannot break until certain yet-future conditions allow it. I think God could end the world at any time by decreeing that Christ come again at his second coming at any time, but he holds back so that more people, some as yet unborn, can finally enter into the new heavens and new earth. Thus, in a sense, we who are alive today are suffering so that others, yet-unborn, might also enjoy eternity with God.

(Romans 8:29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [predestined] to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

A key ingredient to becoming redeemed is becoming like Jesus, holy and righteous. Those who reject this transformative process will remain unredeemed.

God does not choose those who reject him nor does he choose those who will accept him. God desires everyone to accept him.

How can God force someone to become redeemed based on his foreknowledge that they one day are redeemed? This makes no sense at all. When God allowed the powers of darkness to invade the human realm, he foreknew of his plan for redeeming us through his Son, Jesus Christ.

We become an image of Jesus, modelled after him. Jesus, as second person of the Trinity, became human, took on human form, deified human nature; and he did this perfectly. We become like him, not the other way around.

(Romans 8:30) Moreover whom he did predestinate [predestined], them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

The 5 stages in the journey of a redeemed person...

  1. foreknown
  2. predestined
  3. called
  4. justified
  5. glorified

Notice these are all past tense from the perspective of someone who is redeemed, yet the final condition, the new heavens and near earth, is yet-future.

This appears to be in time sequence; each item manifests before the next.

These items each appear to be directed toward each individual person. Here's a helpful way of viewing it...

  1. Someone who became glorified was first justified
  2. Someone who became justified was first called
  3. Someone who became called was first predestined
  4. Someone who became predestined was first foreknown

Notice God foreknows us. Does this mean he foreknows whether we will become redeemed or merely that he knows the condition of our heart, whether we will begin the journey of redemption? If we are willing, it is inevitable we will become redeemed; we are predestined. God now actively pursues us by calling us. But he has been calling us all along; this is how he knows we were willing to take the next step, by observing our response to his repeated calling.

Is justification a moment-in-time event? One way to think about this is to consider what would happen if they died just before this event? Certainly they would be redeemed; this is the value of God's foreknowledge. He knows of our journey and what we will choose when we die and meet Jesus face to face.

Paul does not use the word "glorified" to refer only to the yet-future new heavens and new earth. Just as we glorify God, so also are we glorified.

(Romans 8:31) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

(Romans 8:32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

(Romans 8:33) Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.

(Romans 8:34) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

On judgment day at each person's death, and certainly at the Great White Throne judgment, others will bring accusations to God before us. These others will be both people and wicked spiritual beings. But one of the roles of God is to justly judge. He does this by judging in individual cases, not in some generic and glorious act of judgment. In taking on our sin and rising from the dead, Jesus took on the role of judge on our behalf. Those who call out to him for mercy in faith will be judged as innocent of mortal sin that results in eternal separation from God.

At the right hand of God the Father, Jesus works on our behalf in the power and will of God the Father. The right hand of God denotes his power and authority.

We should wonder why it's emphasized so strongly that Jesus sits at the right hand of God, after all, as second person of the Trinity he is God also and has always been so. The only sensible explanation is that he deified human nature.

(Romans 8:35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

A list of things that can't separate us from Christ, from God...

  1. no one
  2. tribulation
  3. distress
  4. persecution
  5. famine
  6. nakedness
  7. peril
  8. sword

(Romans 8:36) As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

(Romans 8:37) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

(Romans 8:38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

A list of things that can't separate us from God...

  1. death
  2. life
  3. angels — creatures in the spiritual realm
  4. principalities — creatures in the spiritual realm
  5. powers — creatures in the spiritual realm
  6. things present
  7. things to come

It is hard to understand how life can separate us from God.

Why would good angels try to separate us from God? Presumably the word "angel" refers to both good and bad. I suspect that the angels in the book f Revelation and elsewhere who bring plagues or calamity are not good angels.

(Romans 8:39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A list of things that can't separate us from God...

  1. height
  2. depth
  3. any other creature — including those in the spiritual realm

It is hard to understand how height or depth can have power over us to harm us.

God's love for us and his grace is more powerful than forces seeking to destroy us.

(Romans 9:1) I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,

(Romans 9:2) That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.

(Romans 9:3) For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

Paul seems to think the Jews were cursed. Since he was himself Jewish, he was cursed too. Perhaps if he could provide redemption for his fellow Jews by being in some way persecuted or sacrificed, he would do it, similar to the way Christ sacrificed himself for all people including the Jews to provide redemption. Perhaps this is what motivated Paul to allow himself to be imprisoned, as a form of redemptive sacrifice for the Jews?

Why would Paul sacrifice his eternal salvation for others? this is absurd. Something else is going on. Perhaps he's merely being melodramatic to illustrate his sincere wish for their redemption.

Paul is Jewish. So why is he writing to the Romans?

Perhaps Paul was so entangled in his Jewishness he sometimes didn't notice that those reading his letters would not be able to relate to his emphasis on topics of interest to Jewish converts to Christianity. Perhaps as in the letter to the Galatians the Judaizers were descending upon Rome en masse demanding Christians become Jewish.

Some commentators seem to think God rejected the Jews, at least most of the Jews. This is outrageous. A typical warped interpretation of fundamentalist evangelical Protestants. Paul, then, according to them, is saying he is one of these.

(Romans 9:4) Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

(Romans 9:5) Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

(Romans 9:6) Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

Paul's argument makes no sense. In the next verse he refers to Abraham's sons and that only one of these is the promised son. But all of Jacob's (Israel's) sons were promised sons.

(Romans 9:7) Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

The true promised seed consists only of the faithful redeemed of all ages.

(Romans 9:8) That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

The Old Testament nation of Israel was composed of descendants of Israel (Jacob). Foreigners could be adopted in but would always remain as second class citizens.

(Romans 9:9) For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.

(Romans 9:10) And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;

(Romans 9:11) (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

God calls us to our purpose in life before we are born, even before our soul is created at conception. This is his foreknowledge.

God the Father calls them.

(Romans 9:12) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.

(Romans 9:13) As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

The word "hate" means "neglect" or "love less". God loves everyone fully and completely but chooses different life journeys for each, some more glorious than others, some more of a struggle than others, all for his plan and purpose. But God hates sin and that part of a person that rejects God. This hatred is merely the absence of God's love since God vacates those aspects of the spiritual realm and our soul that are evil or that sin. God does not look upon sin — rather, he hates it. It is outside of his nature and experience.

(Romans 9:14) What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

It seems every topic Paul speaks about, he has to refute silly and idiotic objections.

The objection is that God is unrighteous because he chooses someone to reject him, then hates him for it.

(Romans 9:15) For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

(Romans 9:16) So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

(Romans 9:17) For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

(Romans 9:18) Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

(Romans 9:19) Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

(Romans 9:20) Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

(Romans 9:21) Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

(Romans 9:22) What if God, willing to shew [show] his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering [patience] the vessels [objects] of wrath fitted [prepared] to destruction:

The word "wrath" refers to final judgment.

The objects of God's wrath are those who reject him.

(Romans 9:23) And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

(Romans 9:24) Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

The quoted Old Testament passage refers specifically to Israel. However, Paul applies it specifically to the Church. Therefore, using literal Bible interpretation, the Church = Israel.

(Romans 9:25) As he saith also in Osee [Hosea], I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.

A quote from Hosea referring to God's drawing back to himself his nation Israel.

(Romans 9:26) And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.

(Romans 9:27) Esaias [Isaiah] also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:

This verse distinguishes between those descendants of the 12 tribes of Israel and the smaller number of these who truly love God, those who will be redeemed.

(Romans 9:28) For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.

(Romans 9:29) And as Esaias [Isaiah] said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.

(Romans 9:30) What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.

(Romans 9:31) But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.

(Romans 9:32) Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;

This verse gets to the heart of the matter. It is not a question of excluding works but of emphasizing faith.

(Romans 9:33) As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

(Romans 10:1) Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

(Romans 10:2) For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

(Romans 10:3) For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

(Romans 10:4) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

The word "end" does not mean termination but, rather, goal. The Old Testament Mosaic Law was leading up to the coming of the Messiah who would usher in the true law, the law of salvation by grace.

(Romans 10:5) For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.


(Romans 10:6) But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)

(Romans 10:7) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)

This seems to be based on a verse in Proverbs expressing the impossibility of going into heaven, the source of true knowledge, to learn something. A person without faith will reject the gospel with the flimsy excuse of, you can't bring Christ down from heaven to preach the gospel, nor can you bring him back from the dead — therefore, you can't really know the gospel. They pretend Christ has the truth, but this is useless because once he died, the knowledge was lost forever; in other words: that Christ failed to pass on the gospel to the apostles, or that the teachings of the apostles are untrustworthy.

Apparently Paul heard this dumb argument against Christianity but he showed great restraint — I would have just called them idiots and been done with the matter.

A person of faith trusts Jesus to have delegated trustworthy messengers, the apostles, to accurately transmit the message of salvation, the gospel.

(Romans 10:8) But what saith it? The word is nigh [near] thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

Once you have heard the gospel and learned it, you can preach it and it is just as trustworthy as if an apostle preached it. This is the role of the Church and infallible church teaching, to transmit the true gospel from generation to generation. This verse does not specify what the qualifications are for a person to be allowed to preach the gospel; it merely remarks that the person who, having heard it and believed it, can confess it accurately. Presumably, someone else, hearing their confession, could also come to faith.

Certainly there needed to be a way in early Christianity to guarantee that the dogmas were formulated correctly; the bishops were granted this role. Sadly, these bishops were wrong more often than right. Over time the Holy Spirit guided circumstances so that, finally, the true gospel was permanently discerned. Paul is not addressing any of this; he limits his focus to what is needed for a person to get saved and be saved. This is a problem with Sola Scriptura; this very important question of how to discern the true gospel from a counterfeit is simply not addressed in the New Testament.

(Romans 10:9) That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Notice the two ingredients of salvation...

  1. faith (believe in your heart)
  2. works (confess with your mouth)

Of course, these two go together; you can't confess what you don't first believe. But if you don't confess it, perhaps you don't really believe it. The act of confessing solidifies belief: you believe because you confessed.

The confession spoken of is probably confessing the creed during baptism. Just as Jesus was raised from the dead, so also are we spiritually raised from the dead when we come up out of the waters of baptism.

In the early days of the Church, people joined the Church via baptism. After this they could partake in the Eucharist. Therefore, note that being saved means we have joined the Church and are subject to its rules, teachings, leaders, and traditions.

Notice the object of all this confessing and believing: Jesus and his work to provide for our redemption. Some Churches seem to only consider him as an afterthought.

Notice this verse says you will be saved; in the future. A common interpretation by fundamentalist evangelical Protestants is that Paul is speaking to unbelievers, hoping they will receive salvation and in an instant confess Jesus as Lord. The idea is that you first confess these facts about Jesus in a flash of faith and then, in the future, the immediate future, you are saved. This doesn't make any sense to me. The future being referred to seems to be more than a mere flash in time.

Salvation is a yet-future event for each of us living and occurs at our death when come face-to-face with Jesus and confess him as Lord and Redeemer. While yet-alive we are to practice continual confession, as a lifestyle. We are also to call on the Lord and obey the gospel as a continual lifestyle.

Even in believing we must take action. It is not enough that we merely believe the gospel inwardly in our hearts but we must make our belief known to others by verbalizing it.

Salvation by confession. Not merely faith alone.

(Romans 10:10) For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

(Romans 10:11) For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Paul quotes scripture (the Old Testament) so we should go find the passage and see what it says in context: Isaiah 28:16

The verses just before Isaiah 28:16 refer to the leaders of Israel having made a covenant with death and hell but that God will reveal his truth via foreigners, non-Jews, via a foundation stone. Those who believe the true teachings about God, who accept this foundation stone as their salvation, these will not rush into hell but will be redeemed. Of course we now know that this foundation stone was Christ and that Christianity embraced all nations and peoples, not just Israel. The Jews should be listening to non-Jews teach them about Christ.

(Romans 10:12) For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

(Romans 10:13) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Is this calling on the Lord a one time event or a continual lifestyle? (Option 1): If it's a lifestyle then salvation occurs after death. (Option 2): If it's a one time event, we don't need to call on the Lord once we get saved. In my view, option 1 is correct. This means that telling people they got saved in an altar call is wrong. If they keep committing mortal sins they will not end up redeemed.

(Romans 10:14) How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

Notice the progression...

  1. Someone preaches the gospel
  2. You hear the gospel
  3. You believe the gospel
  4. You become redeemed by calling on the Lord

Preaching is for the purpose of sharing the gospel to someone who hasn't yet heard it or doesn't yet believe it. Hollering and pounding on the podium to a roomful of Christians is not preaching. To preach requires the correct message (the gospel) and the correct audience (the unsaved).

(Romans 10:15) And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

(Romans 10:16) But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias [Isaiah] saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?

Obeying the gospel is much more than a momentary act, rather, it occurs over our whole life. Salvation does not occur until we die.

The quoted passage from Isaiah is in the middle of an extended prophecy about Jesus and refers to those who will believe the information presented, the gospel.

(Romans 10:17) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Hearing the gospel doesn't cause faith, rather, it merely provides the opportunity for faith in those who believe it and act upon it. The only way someone can hear the true gospel is when God divinely reveals it. This is the mission of the Church, to proclaim God's divinely revealed word.

Faith comes by hearing the gospel, not by hearing waves breaking on the shore or songbirds singing. Paul doesn't say this but it is clear he means this. You can't have the gospel without first having the word of God. God first proclaims it, then someone preaches it, then someone hears it and believes it and receives it in faith.

We should wonder what the phrase "hearing by the word of God" means? Does it mean "hearing comes from . . . ?" Actually the word "come" is not anywhere in the text and so it should read, "faith because of hearing; hearing because of the word of God".

How does the word of God result in hearing? Some possibilities...

  1. The apostles (and others) obey God's command to proclaim the gospel to others.
  2. God (the word of God) created us including our ability to hear.
  3. A special kind of hearing is meant, a kind of "faith hearing" energized by the Holy Spirit. This kind of hearing is generated by those "chosen" by God to receive salvation. (I do not mean to imply Calvinism with this statement.)

But in any case, notice how unclear Paul's writing is: he prefers a lyrical, memorable sentence over clarity, confusing Christians now for thousands of years and providing skeptics something to mock and criticize.

(Romans 10:18) But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

The gospel had been preached everywhere; everyone had heard it so no one had the excuse of ignorance for rejecting it. But of course this is impossible for 2 reasons: (1) surely there were many (a large majority?) who had not heard it, and (2) many who heard it may not have fully understood it, needing more clarification, more time.

Paul mangles the meaning of the passage in Psalm 19. There it refers to the knowledge of God from observation of reality; Paul means the preaching of the gospel.

(Romans 10:19) But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.

From the Song of Moses, Deuteronomy 32:21 just before his death.

(Romans 10:20) But Esaias [Isaiah] is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.

A reference to the new covenant of Jesus in which non-Jews would seek redemption and eternity in God's presence.

(Romans 10:21) But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying [obstinate] people.

(Romans 11:1) I say then, Hath [has] God cast away [rejected] his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed [a descendant] of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

The implication is that if God has rejected the Jews, then Paul would have no credibility since he is a Jew. This makes no sense whatsoever. As a Jew, Paul violently persecuted Christians until his conversion. All that matters is his conversion. There is nothing about his life as a Jew that qualifies him to be an apostle of Christ.

Some commentators seem to think God did reject the Jews, at least most of the Jews, but that Paul was among the few that were not rejected, the remnant. This is outrageous. A typical warped interpretation of fundamentalist evangelical Protestants.

(Romans 11:2) God hath [has] not cast away [rejected] his people which [who] he foreknew. Wot [know] ye [you] not what the scripture saith [says] of Elias [Elijah]? how he maketh [makes] intercession to God against Israel, saying,

Paul uses Elijah's interaction with God as an example that God did not reject his people Israel. Elijah tells God he is the only true follower of God, and God replies there are thousands of others. So even though it might seem according to Paul's logic there are no true Israelites, there is actually a remnant remaining.

Notice that foreknowledge and election are related. These verses directly contradict Calvinism because here foreknowledge and election refer to Jews whereas in Calvinism they refer to Christians.

(Romans 11:3) Lord, they have killed thy [your] prophets, and digged [torn] down thine [your] altars; and I am left alone [only I am left], and they seek my life.

(Romans 11:4) But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.

Paul argues that Christianity is true (fulfilled) Judaism, the remnant of those who have perverted it into a works-based religion devoid of the Spirit. Perhaps he implies there have been true believers in every age. Note that the true believers of Elijah's day, the remnant, were Jews who worshipped the true God instead of idols. Thus, this verse does not support the idea that Paul thinks Judaism is a false religion.

(Romans 11:5) Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election [choosing] of grace.

Paul changes the meaning of his previous quote of Isaiah to now refer to Jews who became Christians, calling them the remnant. This seems like an unfair comparison. In Isaiah's example the remnant were those who did not practice the worship of Baal. In Paul's example the remnant are devout Jews who converted to Christianity while other devout Jews remaining Jewish are not the remnant. Comparing devout Jews with Baal worshippers is just plain wrong.

Paul refers to Christianity with the phrase "election of grace". Redemption was provided by God's grace through Jesus Christ — by grace, not by man's works. God has chosen to redeem those who will receive it in faith. The word "election" in this verse does not refer to God choosing certain individuals to be saved while leaving others unsaved.

Notice that foreknowledge and election are related. These verses directly contradict Calvinism because here foreknowledge and election refer to Jews whereas in Calvinism they refer to Christians.

(Romans 11:6) And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Yes, we don't earn our entry to eternity in God's presence via works only; we receive God's offer of salvation by faith. Having saving faith requires we repent from sin and are free from mortal sin.

In this verse Paul refers to two distinct topics which are completely and hopelessly tangled together...

  1. God's offer of salvation (via God's grace, not man's works)
  2. Our receiving of salvation (via faith, not by works only)

Saving faith originates from God's grace and is not "earned" by our works.

(Romans 11:7) What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

The Jews were not seeking a Messiah such as Jesus was but, rather, a merely human political leader to free them from Roman rule. I suppose everyone is seeking for redemption and union with God; this is found through Jesus who most of the Jews rejected as Messiah.

(Romans 11:8) (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

(Romans 11:9) And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:

(Romans 11:10) Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.

(Romans 11:11) I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

(Romans 11:12) Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

(Romans 11:13) For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

If Paul is the apostle of the Gentiles, why does he spend so much time writing about Jewish topics? Probably his target audience is the God-fearers; Hellenized Romans or non-Jews who partially converted to Judaism and attended synagogue — but who were not circumcised.

(Romans 11:14) If by any means I may provoke to emulation [move to jealousy] them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.

Paul uses the word "flesh" to refer to Jews.

Paul wants people to become Christian and doesn't care what it takes. This has bad side effects. If people's motives are flawed it will warp their Christian experience and corrupt Christian congregations. (And there are plenty of examples of corrupt churches.) As an example from Church history, people were forced to convert to Christianity or be persecuted. Now, in modern days, people remember this and reject Christianity as a result.

Paul is aware of the rivalry between the Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles) and uses this to advantage.

(Romans 11:15) For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

(Romans 11:16) For if the firstfruit [of dough offered] be holy, the lump [whole batch] is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.

I prefer to interpret the Bible strictly literally but this verse clearly states that the image of the olive tree following is figurative. Israel is the firstfruit of dough and the root of the olive tree. The Gentiles are the lump of dough from which the firstfruit was taken and the branches of the olive tree which grew from the root. The salvation of Gentiles is based on the plan of redemption involving Israel.

Some might use this verse to support the notion that the Church is to be a political institution as Israel was but this verse doesn't support that. Yes, the nation of Israel was still considered God's covenant people even when they fell into apostasy but God established them to be a nation. Nowhere in scripture or the writings of the early church fathers do we find evidence that God intended the Church to be a political institution recognizable as such even when the leaders were corrupt, as occurred throughout much of church history. Nor do we find evidence that God intended the mantle of political, religious rulership of God's covenant to pass from Israel to the Church.

The images...

  1. firstfruit of dough / root of domesticated olive tree = Israel
  2. lump of dough / branches of wild olive tree = Gentiles (non-Jews)
  3. broken-off branches = corrupt Israel

These images collide and contradict: The firstfruit of dough is taken from the lump of dough but the new branches are grafted in to the root of the domesticated olive tree (which had its original branches removed).

(Romans 11:17) And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert [were] graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness [nourishment] of the olive tree;

Not all the branches were broken off. Therefore, the original covenant should still be in force, but Paul doesn't claim this. Instead the whole tree, including the roots, and having new branches grafted in; this whole tree shifts from being under the old covenant to the new covenant of Christianity. But in the image, only the "bad" branches are broken off; the root is left intact.

(Romans 11:18) Boast [be arrogant] not against the branches. But if thou boast [are arrogant], thou bearest [support] not the root, but the root thee.

The branches referred to are the ones that were broken off.

Perhaps the root refers to the early days of the old covenant, when it was pure and holy, before it was corrupted. Paul appears to say that once branches started growing, these were all corrupt since they were all broken off. Anyway, it's hard to derive any meaning at all from analysis of the image of the olive tree with natural and grafted-in branches because doing so raises unintended side effects as I've noted.

(Romans 11:19) Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.

Another idiotic objection. It seems every topic Paul speaks about, he has to refute silly and idiotic objections. The problem is that Paul agrees with it! He merely adds the reason why in the next verse.

(Romans 11:20) Well [correct]; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

Paul agrees with the previous verse, that God rejected the reprobate Jews for the purpose of adding the non-Jews. This is absurd for two reasons...

  1. There were still devout and holy Jews at the time of Christ.
  2. God does not destroy anything. Those who rejected following God's way of holiness caused their own rejection.

(Romans 11:21) For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

(Romans 11:22) Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

You must continue in God's goodness to be saved. This implies 2 things...

  1. You can lose your salvation (if you stop doing good works or start committing mortal sin).
  2. Works (of faith) are necessary for salvation.

(Romans 11:23) And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.

(Romans 11:24) For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?

(Romans 11:25) For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

The covenant people of the Old Testament nation of Israel failed to recognize Jesus as Messiah. One by one into the future some will realize their error, recognize Jesus as Messiah, and convert to Christianity. The blindness of many Jews will continue until the 2nd coming of Christ: the fullness of the Gentiles will only occur then — there will never be a day in which no more Gentiles become Christians so the Jews can have their turn.

The word "mystery" is used to indicate something not known or revealed. For example, the gospel was a mystery because its complete message was not expected based on the Old Testament (even though hinted at). The mystery in this verse is the future enactment of God's ongoing covenant with his chosen nation of Israel. Paul wants this to not be a mystery so he informs them — before then it had been a mystery why Israel would reject Jesus as Messiah and whether they would ever someday see the light and acknowledge Jesus as Messiah. The answer is: yes, the remnant will someday. This occurs with each new generation.

When it is God's time, the world will end and there will be no more conversions. Based on this verse, this implies there will be non-Jewish Christians until then. This verse also states that not all Jews will recognize Jesus as Messiah.

People usually interpret this verse to mean something it doesn't actually say. The flawed interpretation...

  1. First, the Gentiles will be Christians; the Jews will not.
  2. Once every last Gentile converts to Christianity, then there will be an en masse conversion of all Jews to Christianity.
  3. After a while, the end will come.

(Romans 11:26) And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion [Zion] the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

How is it even possible for all Israel to be saved since many had already died before Paul wrote this and even before Jesus appeared on the scene? This is an example of the word "all" meaning "some" or "all of a category". The phrase "all Israel" means "true Israel", the remnant.

The usual interpretation of this verse bears upon a yet future era (after the Antichrist) when the Jews living at that time will en masse recognize Jesus as Messiah. The context does not bear this out.

The discussion in chapter 11 highlights the history of Christianity founded on the Old Testament nation of Israel and their covenant with God. In rejecting Jesus as Messiah this covenant was put on hold forever; only by individually converting to Christianity can Jews become members of the kingdom of God. Merely being a faithful adherent to the Old Testament religious system is not sufficient for salvation (this does not mean these won't be saved; many will). The emphasis is on God's plan for salvation; the focus has shifted from Old Testament Israel to the coming of Jesus as Messiah and inaugurating of the kingdom of God.

So who are the Jews today? I suppose anybody claiming to be Jewish and having some sort of ethnic heritage with the Old Testament nation of Israel — the modern nation of Israel and all the Jews scattered among the other nations. Are converts to Judaism included? Probably. But only the remnant, those accepting Christ as Messiah, will be saved.

Some say that the time when all Israel shall be saved is a yet-future event. Some say the second coming of Christ will not occur until after this event. But note that the phrase "all Israel" refers to both Jews and Gentiles — the entire olive tree, to all the redeemed. These will each accept Christ at their death.

(Romans 11:27) For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

The new covenant Jeremiah speaks of is with Israel, but the new covenant Paul refers to is the Church. Therefore, the Church = Israel.

(Romans 11:28) As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes.

Referring to the unbelieving Israelites. Those of Paul's day are enemies of Christians; those of Old Testament times were still members of God's covenant nation (the election).

This verse has some scrambled ideas: (1) It sounds like Paul is saying of the unbelieving Jews that their rejection of the gospel somehow helps the Christian cause. (2) And of these same unbelieving Jews Paul claims they are beloved of God because of the Old Testament Patriarchs. (3) How can these reject the gospel, be enemies of Christians and of Christ, but yet be blessed because they are descendants of the covenant nation of Israel?

(Romans 11:29) For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance [irrevocable].

(Romans 11:30) For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:

(Romans 11:31) Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.

(Romans 11:32) For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

(Romans 11:33) O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

We can't completely know of God, but we know enough to give him true worship. We know he is supremely wise and all-knowing. God is the source of all wealth; of true wealth. God's essence and presence is the only true wealth.

Of necessity God is always judging; whatever occurs, he judges; whatever choices we make, he judges. Ultimately we will each one of us be judged to one of two eternal fates: (1) those deemed worthy will spend eternity in his presence in the new heavens and new earth, (2) those who tenaciously cling to their wickedness and sin will be pushed into outer darkness by his holiness.

(Romans 11:34) For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?

(Romans 11:35) Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?

(Romans 11:36) For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

(Romans 12:1) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service [spiritual worship].

We are each to be a living sacrifice. This does not mean we are to be slaughtered in sacrifice as were the animals in the Old Testament sacrificial system. Rather, it means we are to present to God our good works and life of devotion and holiness. Just as God was pleased with the animals brought before God by penitents, and just as God was pleased with Christ's offering of himself as a sacrifice, so also God is pleased with us when we offer our pure and holy lives to him.

The reason anyone has the ability to atone for their sin via sacrifice is that God is merciful; he provided a way for us to have our sins forgiven. For those of the Old Testament Mosaic law, they had animal sacrifices. Christ was the once-for-all sacrifice so that now, no other sacrifice is required. We enter in through Christ's sacrifice through our lives lived pleasing to God. Sacrifice for sins is a form of religious and spiritual worship. We worship this way by our holy living and in re-enacting Christ's sacrifice during the Eucharist.

It's ironic that those who reject the Eucharist as a sacrifice can accept themselves as a sacrifice.

(Romans 12:2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Godless and wicked people behave poorly and sin with impunity. Us Christians are not to be like them. We are to practice the virtues and live in charity. We must think differently; we must desire different things; we must be spiritually strong to resist sin; we must have the habits to worship God regularly. Only by living godly and holy lives can we do the will of God. In doing this, we will be perfect. God's will for us is that we be perfect; why would he want us to fall into grievous sin all the time out of weakness and indulgence? The various translations seem to imply that we demonstrate (prove) God's will by our doing such-and-such. I think what is really meant is that we conform our behavior to God's good, acceptable, and perfect will by renewing our minds and habitually living holy lives — and in doing these we also become good, and acceptable, and perfect in God's eyes.

(Romans 12:3) For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

We each have various amounts of faith and various kinds of faith. This harmonizes well with the hall of faith in Hebrews 11 in which people are said to have faith for things we normally wouldn't associate with being saving faith, of redemptive faith.

The idea is we should not think too highly of ourselves for our gifts and abilities because they are from God, not from ourselves. Presumably, in the new heavens and new earth we will have the same set of personality characteristics; we will be the same person we are now. Each human soul is created by God as a unique individual identity.

(Romans 12:4) For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:

(Romans 12:5) So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.


Gifts of the Spirit

(Romans 12:6) Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

There are two aspects to our gifts: (1) the grace from God of which gifts we possess, and (2) how much grace we have been given by God in the use of these gifts. Perhaps we can increase both of these through prayer, fasting, a devotional life of service, and using the gifts for the benefit of others. Thus, God grants us grace based, in part, on our desire and willingness to use the grace.

Seven gifts are listed here...

  1. prophecy

(Romans 12:7) Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;

  1. ministry
  2. teaching

(Romans 12:8) Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity [liberality]; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

  1. exhortation
  2. giving — those who give should not be stingy about it, but generous; and without a lot of rules and conditions attached.
  3. rulership — leaders are to be diligent.
  4. mercy — needs to be done cheerfully.

Notice that there is no mention of tongues or of miracles.


(Romans 12:9) Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

(Romans 12:10) Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

We should wonder how to relate and interact with fellow Christians who engage in sin, especially mortal sin. I personally am not too interested in spending much time with people who want only to talk about sports, or video games, or the latest gossip.

Christians should seek opportunities to serve one another. But I don't enjoy participating in "gossip prayer" which fills my head with sordid details of other people's sins.

It is difficult to find opportunities to be kindly affectionate with other Christians. There is no time at church since you have to quickly leave to make room for the next service. There is no opportunity as a Catholic since they have no concept of fellowship. Paul seems to assume the congregation all knows each other and interacts together all the time. The only time I could do this was in a small church when we were leaders in the church and when we had friends in the same church with children the same ages. I suppose if I were willing to sit patiently in the church service listening to long-winded sermons about "blue ducks" for hours a week — but this price of entry into fellowship with them is too difficult to bear.

(Romans 12:11) Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

(Romans 12:12) Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant [faithful] in prayer;

(Romans 12:13) Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

(Romans 12:14) Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

(Romans 12:15) Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

(Romans 12:16) Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

(Romans 12:17) Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

(Romans 12:18) If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

(Romans 12:19) Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto [leave room for God's] wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

We are not to seek revenge but to allow God to judge sin and wickedness.

(Romans 12:20) Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

We should love our enemy as our neighbor, feeding them.

The second part is the hard part, bringing up images of fighting an enemy in battle. If you were inside a city under siege, you might pour down hot coals on the heads of those below trying to breach the walls.

Should we refuse to defend ourselves and our families, allowing our enemies to vanquish us? This verse is not teaching pacifism.

(Romans 12:21) Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.


(Romans 13:1) Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained [established] of God.

Is Paul really saying God ordained the spiritual powers of Satan? Shocking! But perhaps Paul is limiting his discussion to secular authority and power, meaning, Roman rule. Again, shocking! Why would God ordain despots and tyrants? This teaching is in error. God allows sin and evil but does not establish it, nor ordain it, nor even see it.

Those interpreting this verse literally who think the teaching is not in error should accept laws allowing abortion since the God-ordained rulers created such laws.

We should obey our governments as best as possible for pragmatic reasons, but not speak so highly of them as being ordained by God.

Paul spends several verses discussing obedience to political rulers. There is no corresponding discussion of obedience to church leaders but based on claims of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches we should expect the apostles to emphasize this point.

Paul uses the word "soul" to refer to people.

(Romans 13:2) Whosoever therefore resisteth the power [authority], resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

God uses the political rulers he has appointed to maintain order in society. We are to obey them as long as they don't demand we disobey God.

Paul seems to be trying to persuade Christians to remain loyal to Roman rule, to avoid revolutionary uprisings, presumably to keep the peace and prevent persecution directed toward Christians. But in subsequent generations, fanatical hotheads insisted Christians become martyrs en masse rather than perform the secular rite of demonstrating loyalty to the government of offering a pinch of incense. As a result, all early copies of the Bible were destroyed and we have a Bible only because Constantine paid for an army of scholars to reconstruct it from surviving fragments.

(Romans 13:3) For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

Paul seems to be referring to righteous rulers. Certainly this verse doesn't apply to unrighteous, exploitative rulers?

Nevertheless we are to obey our laws to preserve peace and order; we should feel no obligation to refuse to pay taxes because some of the money is used to fund abortions or smut in public art museums.

It is hard to know where and how to protest injustices and immorality in the political and social systems. One way, not often enough used by Christians, is the power of boycott. Don't consume offending entertainment (in other words, throw out your TV, stop going to moves and listening to secular music, and don't read most fiction); don't give money to any charitable organization funding abortion; vote against people promoting immorality and anti-Christian values; support and promote organizations protesting such things. But sadly, Christian dollars are helping fund the evils of our society.

Should we allow gay marriage? I say live and let live; Christendom failed miserably. And I'm not sure non-gays are qualified either to raise children, especially when subjecting them to all of the above. Nor should abusive non-gays be allowed to be married to mistreat their spouses.

I suppose, in like manner, we should change all aspects of pain and suffering inflicted on others, human and animal. We should stop eating meat (unless you are willing to humanely poke, stab, or chop the soon-to-be-dead animal yourself); don't have pets unless you truly give them only the finest quality of life (pets in small apartments alone all day, or abandoned in small smelly cages); refrain from working jobs whose purpose is to exploit money from the unsuspecting. But this is all off topic.

(Romans 13:4) For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

(Romans 13:5) Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

(Romans 13:6) For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

(Romans 13:7) Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.


(Romans 13:8) Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

In obeying the 10 commandments you are expressing love for God and love for others. Or to say it another way, if you don't love God and neighbor you cannot obey the 10 commandments.

Fundamentalist evangelical Protestants often interpret this backwards: they say it means that Christians are not bound by the law, even the 10 commandments; all that is needed is love. But the New Testament doesn't teach this.

(Romans 13:9) For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

(Romans 13:10) Love worketh no ill [harm] to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling [fulfillment] of the law.

This verse is commonly used to support the notion that Christians are no longer bound to follow the Old Testament law, but the verse doesn't say this.

In verse 9 Paul is referring to the ten commandments so verse 10 is about the topic of the ten commandments. The way in which love fulfills the law is that someone who truly loves God and neighbor will follow the ten commandments; this one law, the law of love, subsumes all other divine laws.

In like manner, Jesus, in coming to fulfill the law, does not do away with the law. The Old Testament law is subsumed within the person and will of Jesus Christ — he created the law and he judges based on the law.

(Romans 13:11) And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time [the hour has come] to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

Salvation is a future event, it gets nearer, we get closer to it. Salvation occurs at final judgment.

The phrase "the hour has come" refers to the "present time," the time when the book of Romans was written.

They should "wake up" because when they first believed they didn't realize the full truth (they were in the dark, in the night). But now they do (they are in the light, in the day). As they became more Christlike their "salvation was nearer". This points to the time of death of believers in which they are present with the Lord. It also has application to the second coming of Christ when he rewards believers with resurrected bodies.

Paul exhorts the believers to come to a full knowledge of the truth; to wake up from the slumber of ignorance. It is important they do this because they would soon enter a time of intense persecution and testing of their faith.

(Romans 13:12) The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour [armor] of light.

The day is at hand: Paul exhorts the believers to come to a full knowledge of the truth; to wake up from the slumber of ignorance. It is important they do this because they would soon enter a time of intense persecution and testing of their faith.

Paul wrote the book of Romans in 57 A.D. The persecution in Rome under Nero would begin in 64 A.D., only seven years in the future. The general persecution of Christians by Jews and the Romans is a prominent theme in the New Testament.

(Romans 13:13) Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting [boisterous] and drunkenness, not in chambering [cohabitation] and wantonness [immoral sexuality], not in strife and envying.

Paul list three examples of broad categories of sins. Presumably, this convers the major kinds of sins Christians were engaging in at the time...

(Romans 13:14) But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Certainly sin does not originate in the body but, rather, from the soul. It is the soul in the spiritual realm which is entangled with the wicked spirits of Satan's kingdom of darkness, and it is the soul which has a sin nature.

(Romans 14:1) Him that is weak in the faith receive [accept] ye, but not to doubtful disputations [disputes].

The weak in faith are not necessarily unsaved and a person can be saved but yet be weak in faith. There can be a tendency within Churches to be too harsh, judgmental, and unloving to those having weak faith.

Weak in faith but still saved. How can salvation be by faith alone if people with weak faith can be saved?

Christians should not spend so much time quarreling about non-essentials of the faith. It creates disunity in the body of Christ and discredits Christianity in our modern culture.

(Romans 14:2) For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.

The weak person is not weak because they are vegetarian, but rather, because they won't eat meat offered to idols, thinking it will make them unclean. Presumably they look down upon those who do eat meat offered to idols.

(Romans 14:3) Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.

(Romans 14:4) Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden [held] up: for God is able to make him stand.

Paul allows for various views regarding whether or not a person will eat food sacrificed to idols. Thus, he does not demand a fixed rule for all Christians on non-essential issues.

We should not judge other Christians, whether their walk with God is genuine and whether their beliefs and devotional practices are acceptable to God. I ignore, of course, those living in mortal sin; these we should judge, even rejecting them from fellowship when necessary.

(Romans 14:5) One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

The Catholic Church demands Catholics treat some days differently but this is not what Paul says. There is no reason to suppose Paul was speaking culturally (as he likely was regarding head coverings for women).

(Romans 14:6) He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

(Romans 14:7) For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

(Romans 14:8) For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.

(Romans 14:9) For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.

(Romans 14:10) But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought [regard with contempt] thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

We are not to judge our fellow Christians for the particular religious practices and traditions they adopt, certainly not regarding them with contempt. I think many fundamentalist evangelical Protestants are guilty of his toward Catholics, often without bothering to understand the Catholic perspective, preferring ignorance.

Each person is judged for their life choices, for their works. When does this judgment occur, this judgment seat? Three possibilities...

  1. While in this life, daily, moment by moment
  2. At death (this is my view) — our fate is sealed once we die. We are not in limbo after death, awaiting news of our eternal destiny
  3. The second coming

(Romans 14:11) For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

(Romans 14:12) So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

(Romans 14:13) Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.

(Romans 14:14) I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

The dietary laws of the Old Testament are not binding on Christians. Paul refers to a weak person who is not weak because they are vegetarian, but rather, because they won't eat meat offered to idols, thinking it will make them unclean. Presumably they look down upon those who do eat meat offered to idols.

(Romans 14:15) But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.

(Romans 14:16) Let not then your good be evil spoken of:

(Romans 14:17) For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

The kingdom of God is not the old covenant with it rules and laws. The kingdom of God never was this, but the Jews became confused, thinking the religious nation of Israel was the kingdom of God.

Catholic teaching that the Catholic Church is the kingdom of God is mistaken. The kingdom of God is not a visible human institution.

The kingdom of God is the internal spiritual condition of each human soul when connected with God and his holy attributes.

(Romans 14:18) For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

(Romans 14:19) Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

This verse addresses what Christians are to do in interacting with other Christians who have very different, strongly held opinions about things. Religious wars are caused by insisting that fringe aspects of Christianity are the core, and in demanding that others conform. You can tell whether something is fringe or core by observing church history. For example, the Catholic Church considered Martin Luther to be a heretic but now Lutherans are considered as "separated brethren". Therefore, the differences in the two views that led to the Protestant Reformation are fringe, not core. The reverse is also true: many Protestants consider the pope to be the Antichrist and the Catholic Church to be idolatry and pagan.

We must first determine whether someone is, in fact, a true Christian, that is to say, will they end up in the new heavens and new earth? Then, we are to be at peace with fellow Christians and to edify one another. This means overlooking our differences and accepting them as Christ accepts them. Rather than fight with one another about our differences we must build relationships of trust enabling us to edify one another.

In my opinion, a key reason Christianity has been rejected in this modern world is because Christians ridicule one another. This reminds me of the way the presidential candidates berate one another then wonder why the voters don't think very highly of any of them. As proof of this connection, consider when secularism first took strong root: it was after the 150 year-long religious war between Catholics and Protestants. Clear thinkers made the connection between religion and war.

(Romans 14:20) For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.

(Romans 14:21) It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

The idea of modifying your behavior to avoid stumbling someone else is untenable; I consider the idea to be just plain wrong. It sounds good but is impossible to put into practice. The correct answer it to instruct these weak Christians, not to restrict the freedom of strong Christians. Why should strong Christians have to pretend they are weak? It just doesn't make sense.

(Romans 14:22) Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.

If you have faith in the true notion that eating food sacrificed to idols is not a sin then you can do it (except if it might stumble someone else).

(Romans 14:23) And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

An odd verse. If you have faith in something untrue, in this case that eating food sacrificed to idols is a sin, then you must avoid doing it (even though it's not a sin to do it). The same for if you are unsure whether or not it is OK, you must avoid it.

Thus, we are to act upon our faith even if the contents of this faith is untrue. I can think of plenty of example in which this principle would be disastrous, for example, if you have faith that you don't need a parachute when you jump out of an airplane. A moral example is if you have faith that it's not a sin to slander the good name of someone, perhaps to teach them a good lesson.

We should wonder what kind of faith is required for saving faith, whether of not the content of our faith needs to be accurate in some essential key points. Can we be wrong in some of these and still be redeemed? For example, were the Arians saved? (thinking that Jesus was a created creature). Or what about Mormons? (whose ideas are simply not apostolic in the least). Or what about if you think all religions lead to God? Or there is no hell? My view solves all this: Jesus appears to everyone at their death and they then choose to follow him or to reject him.

(Romans 15:1) We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities [weaknesses] of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

Christians are to look after each other, especially those who are strong. Probably Paul targets the strong in this way because they are inclined to improve their position at the expense of the weak or by exploiting them. But the weak are those discussed in chapter 14 who don't feel free to reject certain Jewish traditions. The strong are not to reject these as worthy of Christian fellowship and should include them in their fellowship. I suspect some of these "weak" Christians are strong when it comes to forming groups having their views; the Judaizers are an example.

Paul includes himself as one of the strong, as having the correct views.

(Romans 15:2) Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.

(Romans 15:3) For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.

(Romans 15:4) For whatsoever things were written aforetime [in the past] were written for our learning, that we through patience [perseverance] and comfort [encouragement] of the scriptures might have hope.

We are to have perseverance and be encouraged. From the next verse we see that these are gifts from God. Does Paul mean to say that those lacking these qualities are not filled with the Spirit of God? It is easy to imagine people having life struggles beyond their ability to endure. Also, Paul seems to be saying that reading and understanding the Old Testament provides these qualities but I can imagine how the recounting of Jewish history with its sins of nearly everyone of every time period would be depressing for many.

The Old Testament was never intended to enslave people in law but, rather, to highlight God's holiness and his love for us.

The New Testament uses the word "scripture" to refer to the Old Testament, not to the New Testament; in fact, not one New Testament passage uses the term scripture to refer to the New Testament (this is not surprising since the New Testament had not yet been written).

(Romans 15:5) Now the God of patience [perseverance] and consolation [encouragement] grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:

Christians are to have a spirit of unity. This does not mean an institutional unity but that we love one another.

It's hard to be like minded with Christians who emphasize untrue nonessential doctrines. I'm tempted to list these in detail but instead here are some links to where I've already done this.

God encourages us. God gives us perseverance. Paul doesn't mention how this works. Perhaps he merely means that those having these desirable characteristics received them from God, not from themselves, and those lacking these should seek God to obtain them. In any case, perseverance and encouragement are desirable, perhaps essential, virtues.

(Romans 15:6) That ye may with one mind and one mouth [voice] glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Christians should have unity in these two respects: (1) praise and worship God together in community, and (2) right understanding of God as Trinity.

(Romans 15:7) Wherefore receive [accept] ye one another, as Christ also received [accepted] us to the glory of God.

Paul is strongly emphasizing Christian unity. Of course, the Church soon after fragmented into many opposing camps and into a division of clergy and laity. It's even worse today. If you are going to reject a Christian group from communion with you, you pretty much have to consider them as heretics of essential doctrine. Sadly, many have a wrong view of which are essential and so we have petty division.

(Romans 15:8) Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister [servant] of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:

Paul refers to the Jews with the word circumcision.

Jesus affirms the Old Testament because they refer to him; he fulfills the promises.

(Romans 15:9) And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.

Paul emphasizes unity between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. But it's hard to imagine why they would want to fellowship together since they have such different lifestyles and traditions. But at least they should acknowledge each other as validly Christian. The various Christian groups of today should do the same. Of course, some groups wishing to be called Christian should be rejected and considered as not Christian. These include groups not having historical continuity with the historical Christian Church, or rejecting its doctrines.

Paul is in error in using this quote from David as he does. It simply does not mean what he assumes it means nor is he justified in giving it this new meaning. This kind of thing is why Jews can reject Christian claims of being based on and fulfilling the Old Testament. Anti-religious skeptics of Christianity find verses like these useful as well.

(Romans 15:10) And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.

(Romans 15:11) And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.

(Romans 15:12) And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.

(Romans 15:13) Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

(Romans 15:14) And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

(Romans 15:15) Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God,

(Romans 15:16) That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

(Romans 15:17) I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God.

(Romans 15:18) For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed,

Salvation requires obedience.

(Romans 15:19) Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

(Romans 15:20) Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:

(Romans 15:21) But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.

(Romans 15:22) For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.

(Romans 15:23) But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you;

(Romans 15:24) Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company.

(Romans 15:25) But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.

Paul is taking money to the Christians in Jerusalem. Notice he limits his charity to Christians (the saints).

The apostles taught that Christians are not required to help non-Christians. That Christians are only to provide charity for other Christians. Examples: (1) sending money to Christians in Jerusalem, (2) helping Christian widows. There are no examples of Christian charity to non-Christians by the apostles. But Jesus did not teach this exclusivity.

(Romans 15:26) For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.

(Romans 15:27) It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.

The Jewish Christians were the first to receive the gospel. Later, they shared it with the Gentiles, Therefore, the Gentiles are indebted to the Jewish Christians and should help them in their current economic distress. Paul often makes people feel like they owe something to someone.

(Romans 15:28) When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.

(Romans 15:29) And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.

(Romans 15:30) Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;

(Romans 15:31) That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints;

(Romans 15:32) That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.

(Romans 15:33) Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Paul's letter ends for the first time here, but continues on in fits and starts.

(Romans 16:1) I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant [deaconess] of the church which is at Cenchrea:

(Romans 16:2) That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.

(Romans 16:3) Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:

(Romans 16:4) Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.

(Romans 16:5) Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute [greet] my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.

Notice that Paul refers to the gathering of people at this particular location as a church. Paul cares about the Church and so should we. Presumably there were many such churches in Rome, each serving a small group.

(Romans 16:6) Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.

(Romans 16:7) Salute [greet] Andronicus and Junia [Junias], my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

Paul became an apostle as did some others.

The people mentioned had also been in prison as Paul had. (They also became Christians before Paul.) The book of Romans was written just before Paul was imprisoned in Jerusalem and ultimately sent to Rome so this imprisonment does not refer to that.

The phrse "of note among the apostles" probably does not mean that Andronicus and Junia were themselves apostles, but it could mean this. Paul never singles out friendship with the other apostles so this is a bit odd. Also, Junia may be a woman, perhaps the wife of Andronicus. They are both kinsmen perhaps merely meaning "fellow Jews".

(Romans 16:8) Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord.

(Romans 16:9) Salute [greet] Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.

(Romans 16:10) Salute [greet] Apelles approved in Christ. Salute [greet] them which are of Aristobulus' household.

(Romans 16:11) Salute [greet] Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.

(Romans 16:12) Salute [greet] Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute [greet] the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord.

(Romans 16:13) Salute [greet] Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.

(Romans 16:14) Salute [greet] Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them.

(Romans 16:15) Salute [greet] Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.

(Romans 16:16) Salute [greet] one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute [greet] you.

(Romans 16:17) Now I beseech you, brethren, mark [watch out for] them which cause divisions and offences [hindrances] contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

(Romans 16:18) For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

(Romans 16:19) For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple [innocent] concerning evil.

The word "all" doesn't refer to everyone living in the whole world. For example, it excludes those living in North America. Those preachers who pound their fist on the pulpit insisting "all means all" are simply mistaken. The word "all" means: all those of the group being referred to, in this case, the many groups of people who have heard the report of the obedience of the Christians in Rome.

Paul is happy to hear of those living a holy life in Christ, as we all should be.

Notice Paul speaks of their works, not their faith. You can only observe someone's faith by observing their works.

Even though Paul mentions their obedience, he still adds on an exhortation. They are to embrace goodness and reject evil.

(Romans 16:20) And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

God curses the serpent.

The event mentioned will happen soon. It has been 2,000 years since Paul wrote this. 2,000 years is not soon. Therefore, this event occurs at each person's death. We encounter Christ at our death and are then redeemed, removed from the influence of Satan.

(Romans 16:21) Timotheus [Timothy] my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute [greet] you.

(Romans 16:22) I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute [greet] you in the Lord.

Paul dictated the letter to the Romans to Tertius, the scribe or secretary who actually wrote it. It may bear the imprint of Tertius' grammar, syntax, and writing style. Thus, you cannot use grammar, syntax, and writing style to identify who wrote a New Testament writing, yet modern interpretation of the Bible does just this.

(Romans 16:23) Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth [greets] you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth [greets] you, and Quartus a brother.

(Romans 16:24) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.


Paul's Final Statement

The greetings and chitter-chatter are now completed. We should expect these final few verses to be especially significant, and indeed, they summarize the entire gospel message.

(Romans 16:25) Now to him that is of power [able] to stablish [establish] you according to my gospel, and the preaching of [about] Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

Paul calls it his gospel.

(Romans 16:26) But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

Salvation requires obedience.

(Romans 16:27) To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.


King James Version