Romans 1
Romans 1 Kingcomments Bible Studies


Outline of the Letter to the Romans

I Romans 1-8
God's righteousness by faith (doctrinal part)

1. Romans 1:1-17 Introduction

2. Romans 1:18-3:20 The need for justification

--1:18-32 The godless heathen: sinners
--2:1-16 The self-righteous people: sinners
--2:17-3:8 The Jews: sinners
conclusion: all are sinners
--3:9-20 There is none who does good

3. Romans 3:21-5:11 The justification by faith

--3:21-26 The righteousness of God
--3:27- 4:25 Only by faith
--5:1-11 Peace with God

4. Romans 5:12-8:39 In Adam – in Christ

--5:12-21 Two families
--6:1-7:14 Grace and law
--7:15-25 Experiences
--8:1-39 In Christ: no condemnation

II Romans 9-11
The problem of Israel (historical part)

Romans 9:1-33 The sovereignty of God

--10:1-21 The failure of Israel
--11:1-36 Israel accepted again

III Romans 12-16
The efficacy in the Christian life (practical part)

1. Romans 12:1-15:13 Christian responsibility

--12:1-21 Service and life
--13:1-14 Relationship to the government
--14:1-15:13 Strong ones and weak ones

2. Romans 15:14-16:27 Closing words

--15:14-33 The personal service of Paul
--16:1-27 Greetings and praise

The Gospel of God

Rom 1:1. Romans is the first letter of the New Testament. If you have just started your journey to read through the Bible with Romans, you have made a good choice. In it you’ll discover how God saw you while you were unsaved and how He sees you now that you know Him. This knowledge will give you assurance of having made the right choice. You will still have to learn how to walk on the Christian pathway, but at least you will know the pathway itself is correct.

Paul (as inspired by the Holy Spirit) was chosen by God to speak to you about this pathway in this letter. In Rom 1:1 he tells what he is going to talk about – the gospel of God. The gospel you accepted was not devised by man, but it went out from God. It is His gospel.

Rom 1:2. In the past God spoke of this gospel through His prophets. You can read about it in the Old Testament, called “the holy Scriptures” in this verse. During the time of the Old Testament, God tested people repeatedly to see if they would serve Him, but they failed each time. Finally, God made it known that He Himself would act. This happened when He sent His Son.

Rom 1:3. The contents of the gospel of God are centered in the Son of God. It is the gospel of God “concerning His Son”. This gospel is not a religion, but rather about a Person with Whom you now have a living relationship through faith. Much can be found regarding the Son of God in the Bible. You can only begin to grasp the real meaning of any portion of Scripture if you are able to see what it has to say about the Lord Jesus.

Rom 1:3-4 mention two things regarding Him that are important to be able to understand the contents of this letter. First, He was “born of a descendant [lit. seed] of David”. As the Son of David, He was entitled to the throne of Israel in Jerusalem. Since Israel has rejected Him, His ascent to the throne has been delayed. In Romans 9-11 you will see how God will fulfill all the promises He made to David.

Rom 1:4. Secondly, what is spoken of the Lord Jesus comes from the rejection of Him by His people, Israel. He, Who as Man died on the cross, “was declared the Son of God with power” when He rose from the dead. That He is Son of God with power not only was made clear by His own resurrection, but already during His life on earth, when He raised up other persons who died. Think of Lazarus, the young man of Nain and the daughter of Jairus.

His resurrection from among the dead (since everyone else has remained dead) was “according to the Spirit of holiness”. This is an important addition. Everything the Lord Jesus did during His life was in total agreement with the Holy Spirit. Since all was in harmony with the will of God, we know He committed no evil in His life.

But in the three hours of darkness He certainly did come into contact with evil. He was made sin and bore our sins in His body. Therefore God judged Him for our sins and gave Him the wages of sin, which is death. When He rose from the dead, the Spirit of holiness could unify Himself completely with Him since all sin and wrong deeds were completely judged by Him. If you can now see Who the Lord Jesus is and what He has done, it will not be difficult to acknowledge Him as the Lord of your life, as Paul says at the end of Rom 1:4.

Rom 1:5-7. Paul was so impressed by this Person that he wanted to go out to all nations to bring people to obedience of faith to Him. I hope something will radiate from your life and mine, both in our words and deeds, so others will come to obedience of faith in the Lord Jesus.

Now read Romans 1:1-7 again.

Reflection: Tell God in your words Who the Lord Jesus is to you.

Paul’s Longing

Rom 1:8. “First, I thank my God.” One of the first things Paul conveys in almost every letter he wrote is to thank God for the believers. We live in a world full of unthankful people. We even allow ourselves to become influenced by this thankless attitude and forget that God knows of it. This is why He often reminds us in the Bible to give thanks. Giving thanks is an expression of joy and happiness. We thank God for things we receive from Him because we know He only gives us good things.

I once read of a man who fractured his spine during a fall and ended up in a wheelchair. At first he cursed God for it, but after he was saved he said: ”When I stand before God’s throne, I will thank Him for breaking my back. If God would have let me live the way I was living, I would have gone to hell.” The things God does will at last always make us thankful. Have you ever thanked God for your brothers and sisters? You certainly know some believers. You now belong to them. Your former friends have abandoned you, but others have taken their place.

Rom 1:9. Paul heard about the believers in Rome because their faith was being spoken about in the whole world. The thoughts that occupied his mind were connected with their faith. His spirit and his thought-life were saturated with one thing: serving God in the preaching of the “gospel of His Son”. If you have just been saved, many thoughts of your previous life may still occupy your mind. This is why it’s good to think on things that have to do with the Lord Jesus.

Rom 1:10-11. Paul longed to go to the believers in Rome. He had never seen them, but he was interested in them. He constantly remembered them in his prayers. They needed encouragement and he could give it to them by imparting “some spiritual gift” to them.

Rom 1:12. After this he immediately presents an explanation: “That is, that I may be encouraged together with you [while] among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.” We also need this strengthening of our faith. This is why we should seek to come together and share the experiences of our faith with each other. It is a comfort for both, and it doesn’t matter where you or the other believers are in spiritual growth, whether newborn or mature. This was true of Paul and the Roman believers. Paul had much experience in the faith, but was still able to receive comfort from the believers in Rome who had fewer experiences. So visit your fellow believers; you need them and they need you.

Rom 1:13-15. Paul had often wanted to go to Rome because he wanted to have “some fruit” among them. He wasn’t looking for glory, but was indebted to God because He had called him to this service and responsibility. He could only discharge this debt if he fulfilled his service by preaching the gospel. But didn’t these people already know the Lord Jesus? Yes, but the gospel implies more than preaching repentance and faith.

The word gospel means ‘good news’. It’s called “the gospel of God” (Rom 1:1) since the heart of God is expressed in it. God has much more to say to us than: ”Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus.” In fact, it is not until we have repented from our sins that we are capable of discovering all He wants us to know from His heart.

It’s good for us that Paul wasn’t able to go to Rome since he then wrote this letter to the Christians there, and therefore we can now be better acquainted with the gospel he wanted to preach to them.

Now read Romans 1:8-15 again.

Reflection: Thank God for your brothers and sisters in Christ. Mention their names to Him.

The Gospel Is the Power of God for Salvation

Rom 1:16. Have you ever felt ashamed of the gospel? I have. I think the reason for this is we haven’t yet fully realized the active power of God in the gospel. We pay too much attention to what people think because we are more concerned with their reaction toward us. But haven’t you discovered the effect of the gospel: salvation for lost people? Don’t you believe this? You have become a partaker of this salvation through faith. Maybe in the past you tried to earn your salvation by living as good as possible. At some point you had to acknowledge that man has no strength in himself to be saved.

Rom 1:17. This doesn’t mean God comes to assist a person in his attempts to be saved and that He will cause the good things to outweigh the wrong things. The gospel shows that if God saves man by faith and not through his efforts, He does this in a righteous way. This is the meaning of the expression “righteousness of God”. The righteousness of God is one of the main themes of this letter. This phrase means that God is righteous in His deeds.

At this point it is sufficient to know that the power of God and the righteous deeds of God have saved you. So your salvation isn’t dependent on how you feel, nor is it a requirement for you to feel a certain way.

Having faith in God’s plan of salvation is the key to receiving His salvation, and as long as you live on earth you will live by this faith. This faith (or belief) doesn’t have a sense of uncertainty that people often associate with the word. Faith in the Bible refers to steadfast trust. Faith is therefore a firm confidence in God and a steadfast trust in Him Who has done all for you to save you. He will also do all for you to guide you safely through this life until you are with Him.

Rom 1:18. How vitally important it was to be saved! “The wrath of God.” These are striking words! How many people contemptuously ridicule the thought of the wrath of God! This wrath is revealed against all forms of ungodliness. It is ungodly to ignore God. This wrath also comes on all the unrighteousness of people who hold the truth in unrighteousness. These are people who claim to know the truth, but manipulate it for their purposes. Therefore God includes them among those against whom His wrath is revealed.

Rom 1:19-21. The awful part of it is that man doesn’t pay attention to “that which is known about God”. No person could have apprehended anything concerning God unless He had revealed it to man. In creation, the work of His fingers, God made visible His eternal power and Godhead. Every rational person must conclude there is a God because of the wonders of what he observes around him in creation. The fact that there must be a God should lead him to glorify and thank God.

However, the sad result is that he who shuts God out of his mind lapses into foolishness (such as evolution) and loses any light of the origin, the meaning and purpose of life. Their foolish hearts are darkened. What can be expected of such people?

Now read Romans 1:16-21 again.

Reflection: Ask God to help you not to be ashamed of the gospel.

Mankind Without God

The verses in this section would not impress you with the greatness of man. Attempts are often made to get us to believe that people are basically good morally and everything is getting better. The opposite is true, and God bluntly says so. He honestly describes (maybe this is why it seems stern) how deep mankind has fallen after turning their backs on Him. What God says here was true of both you and me before we accepted the Lord Jesus as our Savior. It is a description of the way we lived.

God didn’t create mankind in wickedness. Genesis 1 says: “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). This includes mankind, but when a person abandons his connection with God, he is given over to himself by God. We read this phrase three times in this portion (Rom 1:24; 26; 28).

Rom 1:22-27. When people abandon the glory of the incorruptible God and replace Him with something else that looks like a perishable man or animal, God gives them over to it. He then gives them over to uncleanness in the lusts of their hearts. You can see the result of it all around you. People who exchange the truth of God for a lie are given over by God to degrading passions: homosexuality among both women and men. Today this is called an alternative lifestyle that we should accept. Rather, we read here that this is a judgment of God; they receive in themselves what they deserve for their error. If the creature is honored and served above the Creator, then this is the result.

God created man to honor and serve Him. God has instilled this within the very nature of mankind. The ability to attain to true humanity only comes when mankind lives for God. If he does, he will experience the greatest of joy and happiness. This was what God desired when He created man. But if man doesn’t act accordingly, God gives him over to a life of abnormal relationships as Paul has described here. We can see this more and more around us, and the unnaturalness of it is openly denied. It is considered wrong to say anything against it, and we are supposed to accept it as normal and even face prosecution for discrimination. This is how the truth of God is being exchanged for a lie within the so-called Christian western countries.

Rom 1:28. The third time God gives people up to themselves and how this happens is described in this verse. Since they push God out of their thoughts, God gives them over “to a depraved mind” or perverted way of thinking. This is why they begin to act disrespectful.

Rom 1:29-32. At this point quite a list is summed up. You may recognize with shame some things you also have done. All you gained was “death” (Rom 1:32) rather than the satisfaction and pleasure you expected. All these things are present in man’s heart and revealed in his deeds when he lives without considering God. He produces, for himself and others, things that must only be reckoned as dead. There is nothing good toward God in these things. Deep down in their hearts they know what God thinks about these things, but they don’t care. They live their life as they please, and express their agreement with others who live the same way.

Now read Romans 1:22-32 again.

Reflection: Tell God that He is right in His judgment of mankind.

© 2023 Author G. de Koning

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