Introduction to Romans

 

Preface

 

2Peter 3:15-17, “Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. (16) He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. (17) Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.”

 

  • The Holy Spirit, through Peter, recognizes that Paul’s letters contain some things that are hard to understand
  • Ignorant people distort Paul’s writings to their destruction:
    • They use Romans 10:9 to contradict:
      • Jesus’ spoken words: Mark 16:16 (Paul against Jesus)
      • Peter’s spoken words: Acts 2:38; 1Peter 3:21 (Paul against Peter)
      • Paul’s own words in Romans 6:3-4 (Paul against Paul)
    • They use Ephesians 2:8 to contradict the above passages too
    • Ever notice how religious groups run to Paul’s letters to contradict other verses of the Bible?
    • In the religious world, there is a “salvation technique” used called: “The Romans Road
      • They use the book of Romans to bring someone to their understanding of salvation:
        • Romans 3:23 – all have sinned
        • Romans 6:23 – wages of sin is death; gift of God is eternal life through Christ
        • Romans 5:8 – while we were sinners, Christ died for us
        • Romans 10:9 – if you believe and confess Him as Lord, you will be saved
        • Romans 10:13 – whosever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved
          • Then they use this to back up what they call “the sinner’s prayer”
          • The Bible says we call on His name at baptism (Acts 22:16)
          • And as far as Romans 10:9 is concerned, they skip:
            • Repent and be saved (Luke 13:3)
            • Be baptized and be saved (Mark 16:16)
        • Romans Road excludes Romans 6:3-4
  • They distort the letters of Paul, especially Romans, to define “faith” to mean that the commandment of baptism is not essential for forgiveness of sins
    • Faith and action is saving faith (James 2:14, 24, 26)
    • By faith, the people marched around the walls of Jericho, and it fell. The walls did not fall before they marched, but after they marched.
      • Hebrews 11:30, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.”
    • In the same manner, since Acts 2:38 says be baptized FOR the forgiveness of sins, faith moves us to be baptized, trusting what God says – “be baptized for the forgiveness of sins”
      • If anything, a person who rejects Acts 2:38 does not have faith.

 

Charles Finney, the lawyer turned preacher, in the 1700s, admitted that the "anxious seat" -- aka the sinners prayer/altar call -- replaced the purpose baptism had in the first century. Here is Charles Finney's quote:

 

"The church has always felt it necessary to have something of this kind to answer this very purpose. In the days of the apostles, baptism answered this purpose. The gospel was preached to the people, and then all those who were willing to be on the side of Christ, were called out to be baptized. It held the place that the anxious seat does now as a public manifestation of their determination to be Christians"

 

Background

 

Written in AD 57-58 by Paul when he was in Corinth (Acts 18:23; 20:3), at the close of his third missionary journey; to the members of the church in Rome, the capital of the most powerful empire the world had known. This city was the center of Roman law and government. It was the pride of the Roman citizen. Phoebe of Corinth was on her way to Rome so Paul availed himself of the opportunity to send this letter by way of her since there was no public postal service in Rome except for official business.

 

History of the church in Rome:

1-     There is no evidence that any apostle ever visited Rome

2-     There is no Scriptural proof that Peter ruled in Rome as the first pope for 25 years.

a.       At the end of the letter (Romans 16), he mentions at least 26 friends, but he didn’t mention Peter the Pope?!

b.      Peter could not be Pope because:

                                                               i.      He was married – Matt 8:14; 1Cor 9:5

1.      Catholic teachings says the pope is to be celibate

                                                             ii.      He did not let any one bow to him – Acts 10:25-26

1.      Catholics teach that the kissing of the pope’s foot is an act of reverence

3-     The church was probably established by Jews who had witnessed the powerful events at Pentecost in Acts 2 (Acts 2:10)

4-     The church in Rome had miraculous gifts of the Spirit (Romans 12:6)

a.       These gifts could only be imparted by an apostle (Acts 8:14-21)

b.      This means some members had been where the apostles were.

c.       Paul’s reason for wanting to go to Rome was to impart more spiritual gifts unto them for their strength and encouragement (Romans 1:11-12)

 

Problems in the church:

1-     Many had to be admonished as to how to live as a Christian in the great pagan city of Rome

2-     Many had to be instructed as to the meaning of Christian liberty. What it meant to be “free in Christ”.

3-     Jew and Gentile Christians were at odds as to how to obtain the favor of the Lord

4-     Because of the differing paradigms between the Jew and Gentile Christians, several doctrinal problems had to be addressed:

a.       Both groups are alike under sin and need God’s righteousness

b.      God’s righteousness can only come by faith and not by observing the law

c.       God has accepted the Gentiles as much as He has extended the Gospel to the Jews alike

 

The Jews insisted Gentile converts needed to become Jewish proselytes first before accepting the Gospel of Jesus. Common Jewish belief was that the Mosaic Law was the expression of God’s Will and therefore binding on all those who would wish to have God’s righteousness. Circumcision was the way to become a Jewish proselyte (convert). Christianity began as a Jewish religion and certain powerful Jewish leaders were determined it should remain so.

 

Purpose of Romans:

1-     To let the Roman Christians know that Paul was on his way to Rome

2-     To establish the fact that the Gospel of Christ is God’s saving power to all who believe, whether Jew or Gentile.

3-     To emphasize that the Gospel is God’s Plan for Man’s Righteousness – God’s only saving plan.

4-     To highlight that justification comes through faith apart from the law. Grace is not based on the merit system.

5-     To prove the vindication of God in the apparent rejection of Israel.

6-     God calls out to man with grace and forgiveness through a cross, not a badge or an iron fist!

 

The Book of Romans contains the most complete and detailed exposition of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. By this book alone we can come to the knowledge of the truth and so be saved through the justification, sanctification and vindication by propitiation of sins through our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Only by grace through faith in Christ and altogether apart from the Law are we saved! How this faith is put into action and practiced is detailed within the book.

 

THEME: God’s Power for the Salvation of Man – The Gospel

 

Key verse: Romans 1:17

For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

 

Paul’s Main Argument:

Man’s justification before God rests solely on the mercy of Christ; not on the Law of Moses, since man, on account of his fleshly nature, cannot live up to God’s Law which is an expression of His holiness. Christ, however, being God in nature and being merciful and obedient to the Father, provided justification and redemption from sin through His blood in the veil of a fleshly man; that mankind may be able to stand before God by faith in Jesus’ imputed righteousness, not on his own righteousness which cannot wholly satisfy the holy requirements of the Law. Man’s final stance before the presence of the Almighty depends not on what he has been able to do for himself, but on what Christ has done for him; and therefore Christ Jesus is entitled to the absolute and whole-hearted allegiance and loyalty, obedience and devotion of every human being in the universe. Apart from the righteousness of Christ there can only be certain spiritual death (in the lake of fire) for those who are impostors in the faith (hypocrites).

 

Context of Chapters in Romans:

CH 1-4 What sin is and who is a sinner. Convicts everyone of sin

CH 5-6 What is grace and how to receive it

CH 7 How to maintain that grace

CH 8-15 How to give and share grace with others

CH 16 Conclusion

 

References used:

1- Halley’s Bible Commentary

2- Nave’s Topical Dictionary

3- Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Lexicon

4- Notes on Romans – World Video Bible School

5- Coffman Commentary on Romans