christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

romans 1

Read Romans 1 at Bible Gateway.

I read many articles on Romans written by Christian theologians preparing for this study. They all say that Romans explains the heart of Paul’s doctrine, and that it is his most clear exposition of the meaning of the Gospel. Even though Romans wasn’t the first letter Paul wrote, it is placed first in the order of his epistles, and this is why. So I want to systematically go through Romans with this in mind, since my practice differs from the practice of most Christians around me, and examine both faith and practice, to see if it is truly sola scriptura as we Protestants like to claim it is. And if we find anything in our faith and practice that differs from Scripture, we ought to align our faith and practice with Scripture. That is my goal and my intention.

You know me by now, I start with outlines! This is a general outline of the book of Romans:

Rom 1:1-7, Greeting and benediction;
Rom 1:8-15, Desire to visit Rome;
Rom 1:16-17, Theme of the letter: the Gospel reveals the righteousness of God;
Rom 1:18-5:11, Justification and the righteousness of God;
Rom 5:12-8:39, Sanctification and the righteousness of God;
Rom 9:1-11:36, God’s righteousness and Israel;
Rom 12:1-15:13, Practical application of God’s righteousness;
Rom 15:14-16:27, Conclusion.

Now I have found chiastic structures in Paul’s epistles before, so I am going to keep my eyes open for them. This will be my first time actively looking and asking God to reveal what is there. As we go through, I am also going to see if the whole letter forms a structure, which it might.

Rom 1
Rom 1:1-7, Greeting and benediction;
Rom 1:8-15, Desire to visit Rome;
Rom 1:16-17, Theme of the letter: the Gospel reveals the righteousness of God;
Rom 1:18, The wrath of God is revealed against all unrighteousness of men;
Rom 1:19-32, The unrighteousness of idolatry (denial of God as Creator).

Paul clearly sets forth, before he begins, what he is going to be talking about. The Gospel, or the Good News, reveals the righteousness of God. He is going to explain this Good News and explain this Righteousness. His first stop in explaining the Good News, according to our outline of the book, is explaining Justification, which he will spend much of the first five chapters on.

So, in order to reveal the Good News, the Gospel, he begins by revealing the Bad News: the wrath of God is revealed against all unrighteousness of men (Rom 1:18). A Jewish or Hebrew audience would get that immediately. In the Hebrew worldview, Torah clearly explains the difference between the righteousness of God and the unrighteousness of men. And when Israel committed its greatest sin, the golden calf idolatry upon receiving the Ten Commandments and the covenant (Exo 32), the Scripture (purposely) couches Israel’s consequence as the Bad News: the Presence of the Lord will not go up with them (Exo 33:4). That is separation, and man’s problem since the Garden!

But Paul’s audience is Romans, non-Hebrews, many of them. He is going to explain the unrighteousness of men to those possibly and probably unfamiliar with Torah and the Hebrew worldview.

The first thing we learn, from the contrast, is that righteousness is of God, while unrighteousness is of men. Let’s not get those two things mixed up!

The rest of Rom 1 explains the unrighteousness of idolatry. In the Hebrew worldview, Paul is describing Gentiles. In the Hebrew worldview, there are two kinds of people: Jews, who worship God, and everyone else (Gentiles, or Greeks, which meant Gentiles, any non- Jews) who worshiped anything and everything but God. And it is true, in the ancient world, the common religion of the ancient world was pagan idolatry.

This section is just as applicable today as it was then, though, because even though most men in first world countries no longer bow down to images made in the form of man and birds and four footed animals and creeping things (Rom 1:22-23), men in first world countries today still worship the creature rather than the Creator. Who do scientists say created the world and its life? They say essentially that the creature created itself. They have exchanged the truth about God for the lie (Rom 1:25), the foundational lie, which opens the door for every other error. Today, just as in Paul’s day, the ones who profess that they are wise the loudest, are the greatest fools.

Make no mistake: darwinism as an explanation for the creation of life is incompatible with and contradictory to the teaching of Scripture, both Old and New Testaments.

But, lest we begin to feel a little smug because we are at least not like those foolish Gentiles, there is Rom 2 …

For further reading:
romans 1, the attributes of God clearly seen (2011)
The Lie by Ken Ham

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