Romans

Salvation for the Gentiles, 2


IN ANY CASE, SALVATION IS BY FAITH, NOT LAW

Romans 4:1-8, Abraham was justified by faith
Romans 4:9-12, Abraham was justified before he was circumcised
Romans 4:13-17, Abraham was justified before the Law was given
Romans 4:18-25, To repeat, Abraham was justified by faith, and so are we
Romans 5:1-11, Faith in Jesus Christ reconciles us to God

DELIVERANCE FROM SIN, DEATH, AND LAW

Romans 5:12-21, Paul compares and contrasts Adam and Jesus
Romans 6:1-11, We are dead to sin but alive in Christ
Romans 6:12-19, Paul compares and contrasts sin and holiness
Romans 7:1-6, Christians are not bound by the Law of Moses
Romans 7:7-13, By taking on the persona of an unsaved soul, the “wretched man” of 7:24, Paul illustrates the relationship between the Law and sin
Romans 7:14 – 24, Paul continues in the persona of the wretched man
Romans 7:25 – 8:17, Christ Jesus has set us free from sin and death and made us children of God

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IN ANY CASE, SALVATION IS BY FAITH, NOT LAW

Romans 4:1-8, Abraham was justified by faith (1/26/2017)

Paul has argued for two and a half chapters that Jews and Gentiles are in the same boat with regard to salvation because all have sinned by continually breaking the Law. Now he shifts the emphasis of his discussion: in the absence of the righteousness that would result from keeping the Law, how can we be saved? Paul begins by quoting scripture to show that the father of the Jews, Abraham, was actually saved by faith. Notice vs. 3: “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Abraham’s faith was counted as the righteousness that he did not have on his own. Salvation is by faith, not Law. Salvation is a gift, not something we have earned by keeping the Law.

Romans 4:9-12, Abraham was justified before he was circumcised (1/27/2017)

Paul spent a couple of chapters arguing that the Law isn’t going to save any of us, Jew or pagan, because we don’t keep it, and circumcision isn’t going to save us, because it’s a symbol. Now he begins a long argument that it was never really the purpose of the Law or circumcision to save us; it is God who saves us through faith. He starts with some questions about Abraham and circumcision. He quotes Genesis to show that Abraham was justified by faith – that is, made righteous before God – before he was circumcised. Thus Abraham is the father both of the Jews, who are circumcised, and of the pagan believers, who are not circumcised.

Romans 4:13-17, Abraham was justified before the Law was given (1/30/17)

Paul reminded us that Abraham was justified – that is, made righteous in God’s eyes – prior to his circumcision; therefore justification can’t depend on circumcision. Abraham was also justified prior to the time that the Law was given to Moses, but Paul’s argument about the Law is slightly different from his argument about circumcision. Instead of saying that Abraham’s justification couldn’t depend on the Law because it didn’t exist, he says that Abraham’s justification didn’t depend on the Law because that would cut out the Gentiles, who did not receive the Law, even though they were specifically covered under the “all nations” clause. He also points out that Abraham couldn’t very well violate the Law when it didn’t exist yet, but that is a secondary point.

Romans 4:18-25, To repeat, Abraham was justified by faith, and so are we (1/31/17)

Abraham was a sinner like the rest of us, but he had faith that God was able to do and would do what he had promised to do. This faith was counted as, or substituted for, the righteousness that Abraham did not have on his own. And, Paul says, what was true for Abraham is also true for us.

Romans 5:1-11, Faith in Jesus Christ reconciles us to God (2/1/17)

Paul demonstrated earlier that we are all sinners. Jews continually break the Law that they know about, and Gentiles break the laws of God that are obvious to the most casual observer. God hates sin and wants us to be righteous before him, but we are all sinful and unrighteous. Therefore God’s wrath is completely reasonable. Nevertheless, God counts our faith in him as righteousness, as he did for Abraham. So far, so good.

In this passage, the discussion gets really tricky. If you don’t read carefully, it looks like – and lots of people mistakenly think this – that Jesus came to save us from God. God forbid! Look at vss. 6-8. God loved us so much while we were still sinners that he sent Jesus to bail us out of trouble. Romans 5:9 is the first verse (in Romans) that Paul uses the word “saved,” which in Greek also means delivered, protected, healed, or made whole. Always before he has used “justified,” which means “made righteous.” So our faith in God and Jesus Christ “makes us righteous,” and then Jesus saves us, or “makes us whole.”


DELIVERANCE FROM SIN, DEATH, AND LAW

Romans 5:12-21, Paul compares and contrasts Adam and Jesus (2/2/17)

Before I get to Paul’s comparison of Adam and Jesus, I have four things to say about original sin: Paul is writing to people who know all about Adam and are unclear about Jesus. He uses the classic teaching method of “compare and contrast,” using what his readers know to teach them something new. Paul knew very well that Eve, not Adam, committed the first sin, but he uses Adam as a representative of humankind (adam means human being). This prototype human brought sin, and therefore death, into the world. Similarly, the new human, Jesus, brought righteousness, and therefore life, into the world. Vss. 15 and 16 present important contrasts. Adam committed one sin that resulted in death for all, but God’s gifts of grace and justification apply to many sins. Pay attention to vss. 20-21, where Paul says that grace is always bigger than sin, because he is going to come back to that.


Romans 6:1-11, We are dead to sin but alive in Christ (2/3/17)

Yesterday we read that grace always exceeds sin – the more sin, the more grace. But remember, don’t stop reading just because you’ve come to the end of the chapter! The very next sentence asks the question “So what shall we say?” (It’s definitely a question in Greek.) Paul continues rhetorically, “[We should/should we] continue in sin that grace may abound” – this is virtually always punctuated as a question, although remember that in the beginning there was no punctuation, and it could be just a wild statement that he wants us to think about; hard to say in the Greek.

Either way, Paul immediately repudiates the idea: By no means! He explains that having been baptized into Christ Jesus, we are united with him in his crucifixion for (our) sin (not his own) and his resurrection and eternal life. We should be dead to sin and alive to God. We should never sin on purpose, not even to increase the abundance of grace.


Romans 6:12-19, Paul compares and contrasts sin and holiness (2/6/17)

The great theologian Bob Dylan says, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody. It may be the devil, and it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” Paul says the same thing. You can serve sin, or you can serve God. You will serve one or the other, but you cannot serve both! When you serve sin, you earn death. When you serve God, God gives you life. Any questions?


Romans 7:1-6, Christians are not bound by the Law of Moses (2/7/17)

Paul has just talked about the Christian’s freedom from slavery to sin. Now he talks about the Christian’s freedom from servitude to the Law. His readers know the Law, and they know that you are only subject to it while you are alive. He gives an example that’s actually backwards – if one spouse dies, the other spouse is free – but his point is that those who live in Christ have died to the Law.

That doesn’t mean you can do just any old thing you want to, however. You now “serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code,” and we know from reading the Gospels that Jesus’ spiritual standards are actually higher than those of the Law, not lower, in most ways.


Romans 7:7-13, By taking on the persona of an unsaved soul, the “wretched man” of 7:24, Paul illustrates the relationship between the Law and sin (2/8/17)

There are two schools of thought about the passage from Romans 7:7-25. John Wesley says that this is a digression in which Paul is pretending to be an unsaved person:
There are several clues telling you that it’s a persona: Paul never was alive apart from the Law (vs. 9) until his conversion, because he was born under the Law; apparently he is speaking of Gentiles or Jews before they got the Law. Paul is still alive, not dead (vss. 9-13); or if he was dead (in sin) he’s now alive again in Christ. So these verses make no sense if we assume that Paul is talking about his own person. Tomorrow we’ll see the verse that most convinces me that Wesley is right. Of course, the other school of thought is that Paul is talking about himself and is still a slave to sin in spite of having new life in Christ.


Romans 7:14 – 24, Paul continues in the persona of the wretched man (2/9/17)

Admittedly a lot of people think that Paul is talking about himself in Romans 7:7-24. We especially like vss. 15-19. If Paul can’t do what is right, we say, how can I be expected to do what is right?

This question ignores both logic and scripture. Logically (and as pointed out by Wesley with reference to another passage of scripture), the fact that Joe Blow can or can’t do something has nothing to do with whether I can or can’t do that same something. For example, I can’t run the 100-meter dash at any speed whatsoever, but Usain Bolt has no problem with it; my failures are not his failures. If Paul were doing the things he hated and not doing the good he wanted, that really would have nothing to do with me.

Second, the idea that Paul is speaking of himself is completely at odds with vs. 24, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Are we to seriously believe that Paul thinks, while writing to the Romans, that he has not already been delivered from sin and death by Jesus Christ? Of course not! Paul believed absolutely in his present salvation. He is speaking in the person of an unsaved man, still subject to sin, death, and law.

Now, if you disagree with Wesley’s (and my) take on this, it’s okay. Probably most Christians agree with you. Read carefully and make up your own mind, that’s all I ask.


Romans 7:25 – 8:17, Christ Jesus has set us free from sin and death and made us children of God (2/10/17)

Paul has thoroughly explained the relationship among Law, sin, and death: the Law makes us aware of sin without helping us to overcome it, and sin leads to death. What’s the solution? The righteousness that comes through the indwelling Spirit of life has set us free in Christ Jesus our Lord! Amen!

Notice that vs. 7:25 is the transition between the “wretched man” of 7:7-25 and the children of God of 8:1-16. It both summarizes the problem and thanks God for the solution. According to John Wesley, 8:1 takes up where 7:6 left off, thus:
More of Romans
Introduction; Salvation is not by Law or Circumcision.
Romans – Salvation is by Faith.
Romans – The blessings of Salvation are for both Jews and Greeks.

Copyright 2017 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB. The English Standard Version is Copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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