PLUS Resource: 6 Prayers for When You Are Fighting Anxiety

Romans 1

SUMMARY.--Paul's Salutation to the Church at Rome. His Deep Interest in its Welfare. His Confidence in the Gospel. It the Power of God. The Argument Begun in Verse 18. The Sins of the Gentile World. The Gentile World under Condemnation.

      8-15. First, I thank God. The first thing he wishes to speak of is thankfulness for a fact he is about to state, viz., their faith is spoken of throughout the world. The church at Rome was as "a city set on a hill." From every country where the gospel was planted, people were constantly going to and returning from Rome, and hence the fact of there being a church in the great capital would be known everywhere. 9. For. This introduces a reason for his thankfulness. He feels so deep an interest in the cause of Christ in that great center that he prays for them daily. Serve with my spirit. Not an outward service, but of the whole heart, soul and life, in the gospel to which he is consecrated. The spirit is the highest part of a man's nature, and service with the spirit is the highest service. Make mention of you always. So, too, of the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians. See Ephesians 1:15 Ephesians 1:16 Phil. 1:3 Colossians 1:3 Colossians 1:1 1 Thess. 1:2 . Such statements show the deep solicitude of the apostle for the saints. 10. Making request. One of his petitions was that God might permit him to visit the church at Rome. While at Ephesus he had said ( Acts 19:21 ), "I must also see Rome." His prayers were granted, but not in the way that he now expected. When he went to Rome it was as "the prisoner of the Lord." 11. I long to see you. He had a special reason for visiting Rome. No apostle had ever visited the city. None of the spiritual gifts which were conferred by the imposition of apostolic hands had been conferred in Rome. If any of the brethren enjoyed them, as Rom. 12:6 seems to imply, they have received them elsewhere, and he desires to impart them there. Spiritual gift is used in the sense of a supernatural gift. See 1 Corinthians 12:1 1 Corinthians 12:4 . It is a gift conferred by the Spirit. Elsewhere the phrase "spiritual gifts" refers to extraordinary gifts. There is no recorded instance in the New Testament of any one working miracles who was not an apostle, or who had not received the gift through the imposition of apostolic hands. To the end. All these gifts of the Spirit were imparted for a purpose. The purpose in the mind of Paul was that they might be established; that saints might be strengthened and the cause of Christ made stronger. The agent would be the Holy Spirit; Paul the instrument. 12. That is. Such a result would minister to the mutual comfort of Paul and the church. If they are established, he will be comforted in them. The idea is that his faith will be a comfort and strength to them, and he will be encouraged and strengthened by their faith. Thus they will be mutual helpers. How different the humble apostolic style of address from that of a Roman bishop! 13. Oftentimes I purposed to come to you. See Acts 19:21 . Thus far he has been hindered. He desired to visit Rome to do the Lord's work. He had planted Gentile churches in many cities. He wished to have some fruit in the greatest Gentile city in the world, as well as elsewhere. 14. I am a debtor. He owed it, or was under obligation to preach the gospel both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians. The Greeks called other people but themselves barbarians, but in the apostolic age the Romans were excepted. The cultured Greeks and the proud Romans looked with contempt on all other races. Paul is a debtor to both, and must give them the gospel. Hence he is so anxious to labor at Rome. Both to wise and unwise. Here the division into two classes turns on knowledge, instead of race. His meaning is that the gospel must be offered to every class. 15. Ready to preach at Rome also. Where, in the great world center, were found all classes, Greeks and barbarians, wise and unwise.

      16, 17. For I am not ashamed of the gospel. Hence he is ready to preach it in Rome, in the very citadel of heathen pride and power. If there was any place where one would be ashamed of a crucified Savior that place was Rome in the reign of Nero. The gospel. God's plan of salvation in Christ. Its three great facts are the death, burial, and the resurrection of Christ ( 1 Cor. 15:1-4 ). For. He now states why he is not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God unto salvation. The gospel is God's only appointed means of salvation. The name of Jesus Christ "is the only name  .  whereby we must be saved." All God's saving power is manifested through the gospel. To every one that believeth. The great fundamental facts of the gospel (see above) must be believed, in order to the enjoyment of this saving power. They are embraced in the proposition that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. The gospel does not save unconditionally. Belief is a condition. To the Jew first. The first to enjoy this saving power were Jews. To them the gospel was first offered. But it is offered to the Greek also, on the same conditions. 17. For therein. In the gospel. It reveals the righteousness of God. This might mean (1) God's personal righteousness; (2) a righteousness acceptable to God; or, (3) a righteousness bestowed by God. The last is its sense in the Epistle to the Romans. The obedient believer in Christ is forgiven and clothed with Christ's righteousness. See chap. 3:21-25 . From faith to faith. This clause has caused much discussion. The generally received view is thus stated by Dr. Schaff: "The righteousness is revealed from faith, or through means of faith, in order to produce faith in others." It is revealed to us by believing (faith), and the duty of the believer is to extend the gospel, or to extend the faith. "Believing," says Dr. Schaff, "includes knowledge and belief, assent and surrender, appropriation and application." As it is written. Hab. 2:4 . The Old Testament had predicted this system of righteousness by faith, for the prophet had said, The just shall live by faith. The just. Those who have been forgiven and justified by the gospel.

      18-32. For. Now follows a declaration of the world's unrighteousness, of the wrath of God against unrighteousness, and hence the need of the righteousness of God through the gospel received by faith in order to salvation. The "for" introduces an argument which shows that Christ's gospel is the world's only hope. The wrath of God. His displeasure. Is revealed. Not only by the declarations of the Holy Scriptures, and his judgments, but by nature's teachings, and by the human conscience. Ungodliness. Irreligiousness. This is the fountain of unrighteousness. Hold the truth in unrighteousness. There is a measure of truth revealed to every man. See next verse . Many refuse to profit by the light they have, and love the darkness rather than the light. All who do not live up to the knowledge they possess, who do worse than they know, hold the truth in unrighteousness. They obstruct the truth, rather than let it have free scope. 19. Because. Here he begins to show why God's wrath is manifest. They are inexcusable because "that which may be known of God is manifest in them." The next verse shows what may be known of God by all. 20. The invisible things of God. God's attributes. Are clearly seen. Are manifested by his works. Nature speaks of nature's God. His eternal power and divinity. The attributes are especially shown in his works. The earth and the heavenly bodies are effects which must be due to eternal power and divinity. So that they are without excuse. No excuse is left for worshiping helpless idols. 21. When they knew God. Had the knowledge shown in verse 20 . They turned from their knowledge, did not glorify the invisible Creator, yielded neither adoration nor gratitude. Became vain in their imaginations. Thoughts or reasonings. When men turn willfully from truth, they will run to the extremes of error. The world (the pagan world) yielded to idle fancies, and were involved in deeper darkness. He who shuts out the light will finally be unable to bear it. Vain. Empty, useless. See Deut. 32:21 . 22. Became fools. The Greeks and Roman heathen boasted of their wisdom and held the rest of the world in contempt, but at the same time their idolatry showed their utter folly. 23. Changed the glory of the uncorruptible God. Turning from the glorious revelation of God in nature, they showed that they were fools by making an image, like man, or lower animals, and calling it a god. Man. The Greeks made their gods like men. Many statues still exist that were taken from old Greek or Roman temples. Birds. The Egyptians worshiped birds, quadrupeds, and reptiles. 24. Wherefore. Having chosen folly, God gave them up to the consequences of their folly, and there followed an awful moral degradation which is now described. Their false religion was no check upon their lusts. They engaged in the lowest and most disgusting lusts. Language cannot describe the pollution of the Gentile world, when Paul wrote, as revealed by the pagan writers of that period. 25. Who changed the truth of God into a lie. By giving up the worship of the great unseen God to worship an idol; a creature, rather than the Creator. At first, idols were probably designed as only representations, but they finally became objects of worship. Just so, the images in Roman Catholic churches were intended at first as helps in worship, but have become to great multitudes really idols. 26. For this cause. Because of the apostasy just described. God gave them up. Abandoned them to their own course, and thus it was shown to what depths men will fall without God. To vile passions. Vile, shameless, sensual indulgence, such as cannot now be named. The sodomy referred to here was common in the first century among the Romans, and is often spoken of without a sense of shame by their writers. It was prohibited neither by religion nor law, and was acknowledged without shame. 28. God gave them over to a reprobate mind. A thought is repeated here that has already been hinted, and is often taught in the Scriptures. The man who turns from the truth will be allowed to have his way, will fall deeper and deeper into error, and will reap all the evil consequences of loving darkness rather than light. Those who hate the truth are "given over" to a reprobate mind. A reprobate mind is one rejected of God. Which are not convenient. Not decent, or honorable. 29. Being filled. The characteristics of those given over to a reprobate mind are now described. Whisperers. Secret slanderers. 30. Haters of God. "Hateful to God," in the Revision. Hateful, because so polluted with sin. 31. Without understanding. Senseless, foolish. 32. Who knowing the judgment of God. The ordinance or decree of God condemning such sinners. That ordinances is next stated. It is that those who do such deeds are worthy of death. The heathen moralists admitted this. Yet in spite of this knowledge they not only continued in their vile sins, but took pleasure in them. No deeper degree of depravity can be found than when men call evil good, and cherish it. This dark picture of heathen vices, from verse 18 to 32 , is not overdrawn. It is fully confirmed by such heathen writers as Tacitus, Horace, Seneca, and Juvenal. The conclusion, from these facts, is that all such guilty persons are under condemnation.

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