Chart ROMANS 1 OUTLINE
1. Paul greets the saints, introduces himself, exalts the resurrected Christ (Ro 1:1-7).
2. Expresses his strong desire to visit and preach in Rome (Ro 1:8-15).
3. The gospel is the power of God (Ro 1:16, 17). 4. God's wrath against Gentiles who failed to live righteously (Ro 1:18-32).
In the first chapter of Romans[ 1 ] Paul greets the saints. He introduces himself as
he exalts the resurrected Christ. He expresses a strong desire to visit and preach
in Rome. He extols the gospel as the power of God to save. He points out the
reality of God's dreadful wrath against Gentiles who failed to live righteously (see
chart ROMANS 1 OUTLINE).
1:1-4 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated
to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the
Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born
of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of
God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from
Paul, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ [Paul, bondman, a servant, of Jesus
Christ].[ 2 ] As Christ's servant, Paul gave himself wholly to the will of Christ. As
the Lord's slave he did God's will, not his own. To obey as a bond-servant of
Jesus Christ was not demeaning to him. He regarded it as an honorable position.
He realized that Moses, like himself, was called the DOULOU THEOU slave or
servant of God (Jos 1:1 Septuagint; compare Heb 3:5).
Some think the twelve disciples who were personally aware of what Christ was
doing on earth obeyed as friends, not with blind obedience as slaves. Subsequent
NT writers, however, referred to themselves and other Christians as DOULOI
bond-servants (see Ac 2:18; 4:29; Ro 1:1; 6:16, 17; 1Co 7:22; 2Co 4:5; Ga 1:10;
Eph 6:6; Php 1:1; Col 4:12; 2Ti 2:24; Tit 1:1; Jas 1:1; 1Pe 2:16; 2Pe 1:1; Jude
1; Re 1:1; 2:20; 7:3; 10:7; 11:18; 19:2; 19:5; 22:3, 6).
Called to be an apostle [a called apostle].[ 3 ] In the NT, the Greek adjective
KLEETOS called is used to indicate a calling that God does (see note on verse
6).[ 4 ]
Separated to the gospel of God [set apart for, unto, God's glad tidings, the
gospel of God].[ 5 ] Paul was separated from men. He was a chosen vessel for
Christ (Ac 9:15; compare 13:2). Although he had been definitely set apart, he
does not stress any personal greatness. Instead he emphasizes the gospel of Christ.
The purpose of his being set apart was for the gospel. He was separated unto, or
for the service of, the gospel. Some elements of the gospel such as Christ's
descendance from David, His death and resurrection are given in Romans 1:3, 4.
Note it is the gospel of God. It is His good news for man.
[1:2] Which.[ 6 ] "Which" refers back to the gospel mentioned in verse 1.
He promised before [he had, which he, before promised, promised afore, beforehand].[ 7 ] God had announced something about the gospel in Genesis 3:15. That early promise stated that the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent's head. It dimly pictures the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Later on, a blessing was promised to the seed of Abraham (Ge 12:3). This, too, alludes to the gospel (see Ga 3:8).
Christ brought "light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles" through the
preaching of the gospel (see Ac 26:22, 23). The promised gospel had to do with
the remission of sins (Lu 24:46, 47; Ac 2:38, 39) and eternal life (Tit 1:2). The
gospel promise was likewise a promise of a new covenant (Jer 31:31-34). In
foretelling the gospel, various prophets "prophesied of the grace that would come
to you" (1Pe 1:10).
Through His prophets [by his prophets].[ 8 ] In the present context, God's
prophets are all who, in the OT, prophesied the Gospel--men such as Moses,
David and Samuel (see Ps 19:4; 68:11; Isa 40:2, 9; 42:4; 52:1; 7; Mic 4:2; Na
1:15; Ac 3:24; Heb 1:1). Other predictions about Christ state that the Messiah
would come out of Jacob (Nu 24:17), of the tribe of Judah (Ge 49:10) and of the
seed of David (compare 1Ki 2:45; 2Ch 21:7; Ps 132:17; Mt 1:1; Mk 12:35; Lu
3:31; Lu 20:41, 42; Joh 7:42; 2Ti 2:8; Re 22:16).
The gospel was promised by many OT prophets.
To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were
ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those
who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--
things which angels desire to look into (1Pe 1:12).
In the Holy Scriptures [in holy writings, in the sacred Scriptures]. [ 9 ] The absence of the Greek article emphasizes the nature of the Scriptures as being holy. God's holiness passes on to whatever He has a direct connection. The Scriptures are holy because they are the product of God by the Holy Spirit. They are holy because they are able to make holy those who believe and obey them.
The NT Scriptures as well as those of the OT are holy (see Joh 14:26; 16:13;
1Pe 1:16; 2Pe 1:20, 21; 3:16). Although not law for the church, Paul and other
NT writers regarded OT Scriptures not only as holy but authoritative for the pre-church era (Ac 17:2; Ro 4:3; 9:17, 28; 11:2; 1Co 2:13; 2Co 2:9 Ga 3:8, 22;
4:30; 2Th 2:13; 2Ti 3:16, 17; see also Mt 21:42; 26:54; Mk 14:49; Joh 5:39;
7:38; 10:35; Ac 7:32; 17:2, 11; Jas 2:8).
[1:3] Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord [concerning his Son, his Son
Jesus Christ].[ 10 ] The gospel that was promised before (verse 2) is good news
concerning Jesus Christ the Son of God. The central theme of the gospel is not
political. It is not merely a better plan of law-keeping. It is a wonderful scheme
of redemption.[ 11 ] Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God who brings salvation, is the
very heart of it.
Who was born [come, who was descended, which was made].[ 12 ] The root
word in the Greek (GINOMAI) basically means to become and signifies a change
of condition, state or place.[ 13 ] Jesus was born in weakness as a child.[ 14 ] He
Of the seed of David [of David's seed, from David].[ 15 ] Translators with "of
a descendant of David" and "of David's stock" have paraphrased the text[ 16 ] Arndt
and Ginrich as well as others correctly translate with "seed," "male seed" or
Instead of saying Christ's throne is in heaven, some versions have "in the sky" or as "the sky is faithful" (see chart CHRIST AS DAVID'S SEED A; Ps 89:35-37).
Is it possible that the change in translations was made to avoid a strong
argument against premillennialism?
God chose a certain lineage through which Jesus would come. His reasons for
this are not totally clear to me. Was it of value for the Messiah to be born in
Bethlehem, and then to move to Galilee? Did God foreknow the character of
various individuals through whom Christ would come? For example, did He
choose David because he was a man after His own heart? Was it because David's
kingdom was united? Because when he sinned he repented quickly and genuinely?
Because he never turned to idolatry? Because he was always the Jews' hero, the
sweet singer of Israel, and an honored prophet? Perhaps because of all of this,
God choose him as an ancestor of Christ. He gave the Jews a prophetic witness
so they might understand and believe that the Messiah was coming.
According to the flesh [according to flesh].[ 17 ] "The flesh" refers to the
physical ancestry of Jesus from David on (see Mt 1:1-16; Lu 3:23-38).
Although Christ was the Son of God before his resurrection, yet he was
openly appointed such [AV declared) among men by this transcendent and
crowning event.[ 19 ]
Jesus was mightily declared, shown and proven to be the powerful Son of God
by the resurrection. Paul preached about the promise to the patriarchs, saying:
That God hath fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up
Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, "Thou art My Son, Today
I have begotten thee" (Ac 13:33; compare Ac 26:23; 28:20).
To be the Son of God with power [ Son of God in power].[ 20 ] Does "power"
refer to the mighty act of raising Christ (see Eph 1:19, 20)? Does it refer to
Jesus' own power that raised Lazarus (Joh 11:43, 44)? Jairus' daughter (Mt
9:25)? The widow's son (Lu 7:15)? The saints who came forth from the tombs
after His resurrection (Mt 27:52, 53)? Or does it refer in general to the powerful
evidence of the resurrection that caused the disciples to believe (Joh 2:19-21;
20:30, 31)? Does it mean that He was powerfully made both Lord and Christ (Ac
2:36)? Positive answers may be given to all the questions.
The power of Christ is shown by prophecies.
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this (Isa 9:6, 7).
Behold, the Lord GOD shall come with a strong hand, and His arm shall
rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.
11 He will feed His flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs with His
arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with
young (Isa 40:10, 11).
According to the Spirit of holiness [according to the spirit of holiness].[ 21 ]
Jesus loved righteousness and hated iniquity (Heb 1:9).
As God is spirit, the divine nature of Christ is spirit, and its characteristic
quality is holiness[ 22 ]
As to his spiritual or divine nature, which though a Sonship, was birthless,
and hence did not come into being, but existed from the beginning for he
was pointed out, declared or demonstrated to be the Son of God with power
. . . .[ 23 ]
Although I tend to agree with Vincent and McGarvey, I refuse to split hairs with
those who say the spirit of holiness is the Holy Spirit.
By the resurrection from the dead [by resurrection, the resurrection, his
resurrection, of the dead].[ 24 ] The word NEKROON from the dead is plural as
in Acts 26:23 and elsewhere. The power of Christ is shown in raising the dead
generally of which Christ was the firstfruits (see Ro 6:5; 1Co 15:20, 23). He was
also raised from among other dead ones. Paul was alluding to the resurrection of
Christ when he spoke of "the sure mercies of David" (Ac 13:34; compare Isa
Jesus Christ our Lord, [even Jesus Christ our Lord].
1:5-7 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to
the faith among all nations for His name, 6 among whom you also are the
called of Jesus Christ; 7 To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be
saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus
Through Him we have received grace [by, through, whom, we received
grace].[ 25 ] Grace, in this particular verse, means apostolic power. When Paul
says "we" he probably alludes to Jewish men who received the apostleship, which
he was one. Some think that since he alone was the writer (verses 1, 8, 9), he
was merely using "we" in an editorial or categorical sense.
And apostleship [a commission].[ 26 ] Paul became an apostle of God by the
agency of Christ (Ac 9:15, 16; Ga 1:1, 15, 16). He was the apostle to the
Gentiles (Ro 15:15, 16; compare 12:3; notes on 1Co 3:10; 15:10; Ga 2:9; Eph
For obedience to the faith [unto, to bring about, the obedience, of faith].[ 27 ]
Although there is no article in the Greek, in this verse, "faith" is the same as "the
faith." It is a positive body of truth received and believed. After Paul was called
by God's grace (Ga 1:15), he preached the faith (Ga 1:23). That is, he preached
"the truth of the gospel" (Ga 2:5, 14; Eph 1:13). His preaching was for the
purpose of leading people to obey the truth (Ga 5:7; compare Ro 2:8; 6:17; 16:26;
2Th 1:8; Heb 5:9).
Among all nations [among all the nations, the Gentiles].[ 28 ] Paul was the
apostle to the nations, that is, to the Gentiles (Ac 9:15; 22:21; 26:17; Ro 11:13;
15:16; Ga 1:16; 2:9; Eph 3:2, 8; 1Ti 2:7; 2Ti 4:17). As James Coffman pointed
out, he was the special name-bearer before Gentiles and kings and the children of
Israel (Ac 9:15).
For His name [in behalf of, for the sake of, for his name's sake].[ 29 ] In view
of the authority of Christ's name, all are obliged to obey Him.
[1:6] Among whom you also are [among whom are ye also, you are also,
including yourselves].[ 30 ]
The called of Jesus Christ [the called of, who are called to belong to, Jesus Christ, called to be Jesus Christ's].[ 31 ] To modern readers, "called" seems like a verb but in the Greek in verses 1, 6 and 7 it is an adjective modifying saints. The Roman Christians were called saints. In the present verse, they are called Jesus Christ's, as are all Christians then and now. They were called[ 32 ] by the gospel (2Th 2:14). Most likely some of the Jews and proselytes present in Jerusalem on Pentecost returned home to Rome (see Ac 2:10). But here, Paul especially addresses Gentile Christians. They were called disciples, called "obeyers," called in order to submit to "the obedience to the faith" (verse 5).
[1:7] To all who are in Rome [to all, to all that are, that be, in Rome].[ 33 ]
The Roman letter was addressed to all Christians in Rome, whether residents or
transients, slaves or freemen, Gentiles, Jews or proselytes. PROSEELUTON
proselytes, in the NT, include converts to Judaism or, in particular, foreign
converts to the Jewish religion (Vine 897, 907; see Ac 2:10). Some of these had
become Christians. They were no longer literal Jewish proselytes but, in a figure
of speech, could be called proselytes just as an ex-president is sometimes called
president. For estimates of the size of the church of Christ in Rome see SIZE OF
CHURCH in the Introduction to the Roman letter.
Beloved of God [God's beloved].[ 34 ] Let us capture the freshness, wonder and
grandeur of the words "beloved of God." The words apply to all Christians.
AGAPEETOS beloved is the word John used to tell us that "God so loved[ 35 ] the
world" (Joh 3:16). In the present verse, Paul refers to baptized believers as
especially beloved (see Ro 6:3, 4; compare 2Co 9:7).
Called to be saints [called saints, who are called to be saints].[ 36 ] KLEETOIS
called is an adjective describing the saints. The Christians in Rome were called
saints in contrast to angels who were not called by the gospel although they are
HAGIAIS holy ones, saints (Eph 1:18; Col 1:12). "Called" saints are "all those
who believe" (2Th 1:10), all those called by the gospel (2Th 2:14). Those who
do not obey the gospel are lost and, of course, not saints (see 2Th 1:8; notes on
Ro 1, 6).
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
[grace to you all, and peace from God our Father and Lord, and our, Lord
Jesus Christ]. Paul earnestly wishes for his readers grace (favor, salvation and
all spiritual blessings in Christ) with which comes peace from God. Grace always
precedes true peace (see all verses where the two are mentioned together).
1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith
is spoken of throughout the whole world.
First.[ 37 ] Paul was not beginning a list of numbered points. He simply used
"first" as a beginning. He makes many other points but does not number them.
I thank my God through Jesus Christ. Christ is our mediator in thanksgiving
as well as forgiveness (see Ro 7:25; Eph 5:20; Col 3:17; Heb 13:15). The words
"thank" and "think" are from the same Anglo-Saxon root and their spelling differs
only in a single letter. Thinkers are thankful. Those who are thankful are
thoughtful.[ 38 ]
For you all [concerning all of you]. In prayer and thanksgiving, it is good to mention all Christians .
That your faith is spoken of [because your faith is, is being, proclaimed].[ 39 ] The wickedness of the city of Rome was known far and wide. So was the faith of the Lord's people.
The church at Rome was large in numbers and strong in
faith. Paul did not recognize their faithfulness in order to ingratiate himself to
them. He meant it as he sincerely prayed and earnestly gave thanks to God.
Throughout the whole world [in the whole world, in all the world].
1:9, 10 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of
His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers,
10 making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will
of God to come to you.
For God is my witness.[ 40 ] Since God inspired Paul to write, He was bearing
witness that Paul's prayers had ascended to heaven (see 1Co 2:13; 14:37).
Whom I serve with my spirit [whom I serve in my spirit].[ 41 ] Paul served sincerely, devotedly and voluntarily. "With my spirit" means the greatest degree of mental quality. "Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit," rejoiced greatly (Lu 10:21). "Being fervent in spirit," being exceedingly zealous (Ac 18:25). "Paul purposed in the Spirit," firmly purposed (Ac 19:21). "Behold I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem," I go with a firm resolution (Ac 20:22). "Whom I serve with my spirit," serve with the greatest zeal (Ro 1:9).[ 42 ] "In my spirit," therefore, describes Paul's fervent, effectual prayers and service (compare Jas 5:16).
In the gospel of His Son [in the glad tidings of his Son].[ 43 ] Paul served by living according to the gospel of the Son of God who gave it. He served in worship, in benevolence, in suffering, in preaching and in defense of the truth.
That without ceasing [how, of how, unceasingly].[ 44 ] Paul faithfully, consistently, and repeatedly prayed for the Christians in Rome.
I make mention of you [I mention you]. Paul's prayers were specific.
Always in my prayers [always at my prayers].[ 45 ] An important part of Paul's
service in the gospel was to continuously pray for others.
[1:10] Making request [ beseeching, asking].[ 46 ]
If, by some means now at last [if that somehow, if by any means, now at length, that now at last].[ 47 ] Paul prayed that "by some means now at last" he could travel to Rome. This was his way of saying "if God wills" (see Ac 18:21). He had confidence that he would do so. He would go, if it was God's will, after he carried the contribution to Jerusalem.
I may find a way in the will of God [ I may be prospered by, it may be in, God's will]. The "will of God" here is not the written inspired word but more like God providentially moving as He often answers prayer.
I may succeed to come to you [I may succeed, have a prosperous journey, in coming, for me to come, unto you].[ 48 ] Paul's prayer was answered. However, his trip was not what some would call a prosperous journey. In spite of the hardships of the trip, God provided compensations (see charts PAUL'S PROSPEROUS JOURNEY A and B). Yes, his journey was successful. It was prosperous in the sense that, with the gospel of Christ, he had a powerful effect on the people on the ship, on the island, in Italy and, especially, in Rome.
1. A prisoner (Ac 27:1).
2. Long without food (Ac 27:21, 33-35).
3. Threatened with death (Ac 27:42).
4. Shipwrecked (Ac 27:41).
5. Bitten by serpent (Ac 28:3-5).
1:11, 12 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift,
so that you may be established-- 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together
with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
For I long to see you [for I greatly desire to see you]. Paul did not hope to
go to Rome as a tourist. He travelled there as a prisoner but he was received as
an honored apostle (see Ac 19:21).
That I may impart to you some spiritual gift [to impart, in order that I may impart, bring you, unto you, some spiritual gift to you].[ 49 ] Marvin Vincent explained the imparting of a spiritual gift as follows:
The word shows that he had in view the Christian character no less than
their instruction in doctrine.[ 50 ]
Nevertheless, it appears to me that Paul had in mind imparting extraordinary
powers by the laying on of his hands (compare Ac 6:6; 8:17; 2Ti 1:6). Before the
written word was available, miraculous gifts served a much needed purpose. Their
purpose was to establish and strengthen the church in the word (its proclamation
and confirmation) and, indirectly, in practice. The church in Rome was not
entirely lacking in spiritual gifts. That may be accounted for by gifted individuals
travelling to Rome from Jerusalem, Samaria, Antioch or other places. Gifts listed
in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11 include healing, miracles, tongues, prophecy,
interpretation of tongues and others. The church in Rome needed more. If Peter
and/or other apostles had been in Rome, they would have been imparted gifts
themselves. This suggests that no apostle had as yet spent much time there.
So that you may be established [that you, ye, to the end ye, may be
established, to establish, strengthen, you].[ 51 ] Paul here uses the word "gift" in
its technical sense of imparting miraculous gifts (although he uses the singular).
If he meant a gift in the general sense of his encouragement or his teaching, he
might have done that by letter. He had to be present to pass on a miraculous gift
by the laying on of his hands (2Ti 1:6; see Ac 8:18). Did the gift of prophecy
already exist in the church at Rome (Ro 12:6)? Was it the only miraculous gift
they had? Even if it was, prophecy was still a needed gift that Paul sought to
impart (see 1Co 14:1).
[1:12] That is, that I may be encouraged together with you [ that is, to have
mutual comfort among you, that we, that you and I, that I with you, may be
mutually comforted, may be comforted in you, while among you].[ 52 ] Mutual
comfort today may be accomplished by one another's faith. The Christians in
Rome could comfort Paul and he them but only Paul (or another apostle) could
impart a spiritual gift.
By the mutual faith both of you and me [each, each of us, by the faith which is in the other, by the other's, by each other's, one another's, faith, both yours and mine].[ 53 ] Christians benefit by association with others of strong faith and wisdom (Heb 10:24, 25). "He who walks with wise men will be wise" (Pr 13:20; compare 15:31). The church in Rome was fairly strong already. What a privilege to have Paul come teaching and preaching! His faith and dedication to God would set hearts on fire with faith and zeal. In a sense, Paul is with us today when we read his letters. What effect does he have on us?
Paul expected to be encouraged by the faith of Christians in Rome. If that
church had been as weak and corrupt as churches in Corinth and Galatia, I doubt
they would have encouraged his faith very much. As it was, he hoped to be
satisfied with their company (Ro 15:24). Would he be satisfied with ours?
1:13 Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to
come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among
you also, just as among the other Gentiles.
Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren [but I, and I, do not wish
you to be, would not have you, ignorant, I want you to know, brothers].
That I often [that I have often, often I, oftentimes].[ 54 ] Often in the past, Paul
had considered preaching in the chief city of the Empire with more than a million
souls. Estimates of the size of the church of Christ vary from 175,000 to 400,000
members per generation.[ 55 ] Other main centers of the church in the first century
were in the principal cities of the Roman empire--Antioch, Ephesus and Corinth.
Ferguson recognized Rome to have the largest number of Christians.
By the end of the second century Rome had replaced Ephesus as the
strongest and most influential church, although Asia and adjoining provinces
continued to be the area where the largest concentration of Christians
was.[ 56 ]
Planned to come to you [proposed, intended, to come unto, you].[ 57 ] Paul had
a longing to go to Rome "these many years" (Ro 15:23). We have a record of an
instance when he declared his purpose to go to Rome (Ac 19:21).
But was hindered until now [and was, and have been, but thus far, though,
prevented, was let, hitherto, until the present time].[ 58 ] Was Paul hindered by
Satan (compare 1Th 2:18)? Was he hindered by the Holy Spirit (Ac 16:6)? Some
think the latter because the word EKOOLUTHEEN includes the idea of being
forbidden. Could not the Holy Spirit negate a powerful Satanic hindrance? One
reason that Paul was hindered many times in coming to Rome because there were
many other places where Christ was not already named (Ro 15:20-22). It was the
will of the Spirit that he fulfill his preaching assignments in the territory not yet
evangelized. Since he had fully preached the gospel of Christ in all these places,
even in the wild mountain areas "round about even unto Illyricum" he was ready
to visit Rome (see Ro 15:19).
That I might have some fruit among you also [in order that I may reap, obtain, some harvest in you too, as well].[ 59 ] By "fruit" Paul no doubt meant "the obedience of the Gentiles" (Ro 15:18; compare 15:15, 16). However, he now addresses the church of Christ in Rome. He did not limit his preaching to saints. He also taught sinners the way of salvation. To convert the lost was to bear fruit and glorify God (Joh 15:8, 16). This is not intended to deny that good works of Christians are counted as fruit-bearing.
Just as among the other Gentiles [even as among other Gentiles, the other nations also, as, as I have, in, among, the rest of the Gentiles]. Paul had converted many Gentiles in Corinth, Ephesus and other cities. He was known as the apostle to the Gentiles (Ro 11:13; compare Ga 2:9; 1Ti 2:7; 2Ti 1:11).
1:14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to
I am a debtor both to Greeks [I am debtor, under obligation, both to the
Greeks].[ 60 ] Paul was not indebted to the Greeks and others for what they had
done for him personally. He was indebted to Him whose bondslave he was. No
man had done anything to deserve Christ's sacrifice. No one had merited the
gospel being preached to him. Somehow, it was because of what Christ had done
for Paul that made him debtor to all men of all races and nations.[ 61 ] His debt was
one of obedience to the wise God (Ac 9:15; Ro 11:13). He owed a debt of love
(Ro 13:8). He wanted to pay his debt. He said, "Woe is me if I do not preach"
And to barbarians [and, Barbarians, and the, and to the, Barbarians].[ 62 ]
To the Greeks, barbarians were foreigners. To those not familiar with their rude
speech, they sounded like they were saying "Bar, bar, bar."
Both to the wise [both to wise, to the learned].[ 63 ] At Corinth, not many SOPHOI wise were called (see note on 1Co 1:26). From the inscriptions in the catacombs in and near Rome, one may infer that a few rulers and their families became Christians. There were saints in Caesar's household (Php 4:22).
And to unwise [and, unintelligent, the unwise, the foolish].[ 64 ] The "unwise"
may have included those with less than average education such as a few sailors and
slaves. Paul did not limit his teaching to educated men, rulers or philosophers.
Someone in Rome used visual aids such as a fish, a shepherd and sheep. Some
of these may still be seen on the catacomb walls.
1:15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are
in Rome also.
So, as much as is in me [so, as far as depends on me, as in me is, thus, for
my part].[ 65 ] The great apostle was maligned almost everywhere. Had his
opponents considered the sophisticated city of Rome off limits to him whose
"bodily presence" was weak (2Co 10:10)?
I am ready to preach the gospel [am I eager to announce the glad tidings].[ 66 ]
Preaching the gospel was Paul's purpose, mission and object in life. No
considerable part of his trip to Rome would be vacation. His desire was to go
there to preach the word. What would he preach? If he used points stressed in
other places he would preach facts about the death, burial, resurrection and
ascension of Christ (1Co 15:1-8). He would preach obedience to Christ in faith,
repentance, confession, baptism and faithful living (Ro 2:4; 5:8, 9; 6:3, 4; 10:9,
10; Ga 5:19-22). He would also preach the church of Christ including its worship,
mission and organization (see Ac 20:28; Eph 1:23; 4:4; Col 1:18). He would
preach the future resurrection of Christians (1Th 4:13-18; 5:1-6). He would
preach heaven as the home of the soul (2Co 5:8; Php 1:23; 1Th 4:17).
To you who are in Rome also [to you also that are, who are, in Rome, at Rome too].[ 67 ] "You" refers to the "beloved of God," those "called to be Jesus Christ's" (verses 6, 7), and "brethren" (verse 13). It is interesting that Paul would preach the gospel to the church. In fact, "In every verse, from 6 to 13, HUMEI you refers to the church."[ 68 ]
1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God
to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the
For I am not ashamed.[ 69 ] Paul showed fearlessly that the hopes and promises
of the gospel were his most precious treasure.[ 70 ] He was not ashamed of his
profession. He was a workman who did not need to be ashamed (2Ti 2:15). In
spite of slander he was not ashamed as Christ's ambassador to preach the gospel
in what was then the most splendid city of the world.
Of the gospel of Christ [of the glad tidings, of the gospel].[ 71 ] The gospel is
historical (facts), doctrinal (commands) and dependable (divine promises).
For it is the power of God [it is the power of God, for it is God's power].[ 72 ]
Emphasis should not be placed on the because it does not appear in the Greek
sentence. Someone might suggest that God's love, kindness and mercy are
"powers" for salvation. Emphasis may be placed on the divine origin of the
gospel. It is "of God." It has been granted by His divine power (compare 2Pe
1:3). Through the foolishness of preaching God saves believers (1Co 1:21). One
must hear, believe and obey the gospel to be saved. Sinners are called (2Th 2:14),
begotten (1Co 4:15; Jas 1:18; and saved by the gospel of God (Ro 1:1, 16; 15:16;
1. It is the power of God.
2. It is to salvation.
3. To everyone who believes.
4. In it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith.
5. Preaching it engenders faith (Ro 10:17).
To salvation [for, unto, salvation].[ 73 ] Emphasis may be given to the gospel "to
salvation" because it is the word of truth and the gospel of salvation (Eph 1:13).
For everyone who believes [to every one that believes, who has faith, that
believeth, believes].[ 74 ] There are no exceptions to the offer of salvation. It is to
everyone who believes.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name (Joh 1:12; compare Joh 3:18; 8:24).
Believing is not to be taken in isolation as some evangelicals are prone to do.
No Scripture should ever be used for the purpose of excluding other divine
requirements such as baptism for the remission of sins (see Mk 16:16; Ac 2:38;
22:16; Ro 6:3, 4; 1Pe 3:21; note above on To salvation).
For the Jew first and also for the Greek [to, both to, Jew first and to, also to, and also to, Greek, the Greek].[ 75 ] Although Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles (see note on verse 5), when he first entered a city to evangelize it he went first to the Jews, usually to their synagogues (see Ac 9:20; 13:5; 14, 15, 46; 14:1; 16:13; 17:2, 10, 17; 18:4, 19; 19:8; 28:17).
1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it
is written, "The just shall live by faith."
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed [for therein God's
righteousness, for, for a righteousness of God is revealed therein].[ 76 ] God's
righteousness has been shown in that through the blood of Christ He forgave sins
committed before the cross (see Ro 3:25, 26). Someone said His righteousness is
His way of righting a wrong. The absence of the article with DIKAIOSUNEE
righteousness implies a peculiar source of righteousness--a righteousness of God,
a God-appointed righteousness. It did not originate with man. The gospel does
not reveal the righteous nature of God. That was already taught in OT Scriptures
(see Ex 9:27; Ezr 9:15; Ne 9:8; Ps 7:9; 11:7; 48:10; 65:5; 97:2; 119:137; 129:4;
145:17; Jer 23:6).
Does the righteousness of God have anything to do with justice? Yes. With truth? Yes. With love? Yes. The righteousness of God is His love shown in the saving of sinners (Joh 3:16; Eph 2:4; 2Th 2:16; 1Jo 4:8). God demonstrates His own love toward us (Ro 5:8). One thing for sure, without God's part, man could not become righteousness. The righteousness of God is not a perfect keeping of the OT law. The whole gospel purpose is to make men and women righteous so they may have eternal fellowship with God. God's righteousness is that by which He can count sinners as righteous. That is, He forgives them. Because of faith God forgives. Righteousness, in the sense of forgiveness, is taught in many Scriptures (Ro 3:24, 26, 28, 30; 4:5; 5:1; 8:30; Ga 2:16, 21; 3:8, 24; Ro 3;21; 4:3, 6, 13; 9:30). Righteousness in other passages means salvation (Isa 56:5, 6; 62:1; Da 9:24). Salvation is somehow accomplished by faith and it is impossible to separate saving faith from obedience.
Many times in Roman letter "righteousness" has to do with the salvation of
sinners as in Romans 1:17. Righteousness is also living by faith.
The righteousness is of God because it is a righteousness appointed by Him. He
ordained that righteousness be obtained by faith. That kind of righteousness is
revealed in the gospel. In other words the word of God specifies that men can be
made righteous from faith. The preaching of the word of God produces faith in
the hearers. God's plan of justification, of making man righteous, of salvation,
is revealed in the gospel. When man hears the gospel he believes it.
The gospel makes those who accept it righteous, and that great benefit to be
found in the gospel induces men to believe it.[ 77 ]
From faith to faith [through, for, unto, out of, on the principle of, faith].[ 78 ]
God has made it possible for man to be counted righteous, not by perfect law-keeping but by the gospel plan of salvation, that is, EK PISTEOOS from faith.[ 79 ]
"From faith" is identical in meaning to "from the faith," "from the gospel." "To
faith" implies that the gospel (the faith) produces faith. Belief comes by hearing
the word of God (Ro 10:17).
James Macknight translated the phrase: "For the righteousness of God by faith,
is revealed in it, in order to faith." He discerningly commented:
This translation, which results from construing the words properly, affords
a clear sense of a passage, which in the common translation, is absolutely
unintelligible. Besides, it is shown to be the right translation by other
passages of Scripture in which the expression DIKAIOSUNEE PISTEOOS
righteousness by faith is found, Romans 3:22; 9:30; 10:6; Philippians 3:9.
Righteousness by faith is called the righteousness of God, 1. Because God
hath enjoined faith as the righteousness which he will count to sinners, and
hath declared that he will accept and reward it as righteousness: 2. Because
it stands in opposition to "the righteousness of men" which consists in a
sinless obedience to the law of God. For if men gave that obedience, it
would be their own righteousness, and they might claim reward as a debt.[ 80 ]
1. Justified by faith (Ro 5:1).
2. Repentance (Ro 2:4).
3. Confession of Christ as Lord (Ro 10:9, 10).
4. Baptism into Christ (Ro 6:3, 4).
5. Faithful life (Ro 6:22; 8:12-17).
6. Righteousness which is from God by faith (Php 3:9).
As it is written [according as it is written]. Paul quotes part of Habakkuk 2:4:
Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by
his faith (compare Ga 3:11).
The just shall live by faith [but the righteous, the righteous man, shall live by faith].[ 81 ] The person who through faith, through the gospel of Christ, becomes righteous shall live, or gain life.
The words are part of the consolatory answer which the prophet Habakkuk
receives in the stress of the Chaldean invasion. Though his irresistible hosts
sweep over the land, the righteous man who puts his trust in God shall
live.[ 82 ]
At that time, some of the Jews trusted in themselves, in their own power. Their
souls were "puffed up" (Hab 2:4). God told them to submit to the invading army
because He had "ordained him for judgment . . . for correction" (Hab 1:12). If
they trusted in God and submitted to the Chaldeans they would live. If sinners in
the church ge submit to the gospel of God, they will live.
There is no reason to disagree with the logical import of the words in Habakkuk's time, nor Paul's. Faith, in the context of Habakkuk 2, implies submission to God's will. The words should be taken as, "The just who are upright or righteous by faith shall live." Those who trust in God for salvation through the merit of Christ's blood, who submit to His will in obedience become righteous by forgiveness (Heb 5:8, 9). They shall live. A faithful life is also implied by the quotation. This is essential in order to avoid eternal loss by "shrinking back" (see notes on Heb 10:38; Re 2:10).
At this point, Paul begins a different train of thought that has to do with God's
wrath on unrighteous and unforgiven Gentiles.
"The just shall live by faith" (Ro 1:17).
(F R C B)
1:18, 19 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness
and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19
because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown
it to them.
For.[ 83 ] The word "for" denotes that the apostle is about to give a reason for
what he had just said.[ 84 ] What Paul had just written is that the gospel is the
power of God to salvation. He continued that the righteousness of God was
revealed. In spite or that, unconverted Gentiles were without hope.
That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the
commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise,
having no hope and without God in the world (Eph 2:12).
Paul's next line of thought is to argue the truth of what he has just said. To do
so, he will show that all human plans to attain righteousness have failed.
The wrath of God [wrath, the wrath, of God].[ 85 ] All sin is ultimately against God (Ge 39:9; 2Sa 12:13; Ps 51:4). Believers see the righteousness of God revealed in salvation. Others will see His righteousness in His coming wrath.
Is revealed from heaven [ there is revealed from heaven].[ 86 ] God's wrath
against sin was revealed in the Law but Paul is speaking of the Gentiles who did
not have the OT Law. Sinners have experienced God's wrath in suffering, famine,
disease, death and the destruction by terrorism or war. They also fearfully
anticipate the judgment.
But a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which
will devour the adversaries (Heb 10:27; compare Heb 10:38, 39).
Against all ungodliness [upon all impiety].[ 87 ] God revealed his wrath against ungodliness when he drove out the nations before Israel. He did not drive them out because of Israel's righteousness but because of the wickedness of the other nations (De 9:5).
And unrighteousness of men [and wickedness of people].[ 88 ]
Who suppress the truth in unrighteousness [holding, who hold, who hinder,
the truth in unrighteousness, who by their wickedness suppress the truth].[ 89 ]
Paul waits until Romans 2:12 to begin his discussion of the Jews. By "the truth"
in the present verse we infer he means whatever truth the Gentiles had. Although
they walked in darkness (Isa 9:2), they had available to them patriarchal traditions,
reports of God's dealings with the Jews, inferences from the creation and
knowledge of His specific relationships and procedures with various men,
including holy men such as Melchizedek, and prophets such as Balaam and others.
Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Seneca, Pythagoras, Cicero and Solon knew of the one
God.[ 90 ]
The philosophers regarded all the popular superstitions as equally false: the
common people as equally true; and the politicians as equally useful."[ 91 ]
However, many who had the wonderful truth of God were not evangelistic with
it. Instead, they tried to avoid its influence in their own lives. Vacillate people
exchanged the truth of God for a lie when they went along with the idolatry of
their contemporaries (verse 25). Were they holding the truth? Possibly. Were
they suppressing the it? Absolutely. They held it in, winked at sin and tolerated
the most illogical idolatry and immorality.
Sinful men and women in the church age do the same thing when they ignore,
ridicule or fight the truth. Gibbon remarked that:
[1:19] Because what may be known of God [because that which, for what,
is, can be, known about God].[ 92 ] What the Gentiles knew about God included
such truths as His everlasting power and divine nature (verse 20). Beasts, birds,
fishes and the earth itself taught them about His hand in creation (Job 12:7-9; Jer
5:22). His handiwork revealed His care for insignificant man (Ps 8:3, 4) and His
glory (Ps 19:1). Rain and fruitful seasons are His witnesses (Ac 14:17; compare
If "what may be known" means that which is knowable (see footnote), is there not a suggestion that there are unknowable things about God (see De 29:29)?
An astronomy teacher in an eastern university, when discussing beginnings, ruled
out the possibility of creation of the universe. He would not consider it as a viable
option. His reason was that creation involved the supernatural and "therefore" we
just had to rule it out! Is that logical? Would it not be equally logical to rule out
all natural options with a wave of the hand, as if to say, "We have to rule out
Is manifest in them [is plain, evident, to, among, them].[ 93 ] The knowable
things of God were openly evident among the Gentiles as well as in them (see Ps
139:13-16). The flood bore witness to God's hatred of sin. Many who knew of
God's judgment upon an evil society went ahead to worshipped idols anyway.
They rejected what their own knowledge implied.
For God has shown it to them [because God has made it known, manifested.
hath shewed, it, unto them].[ 94 ] When the Israelites came out of Egypt, God's
judgment upon Pharaoh and his army was clearly shown (Ex 9:16). People in
other nations soon heard the news (Nu 23:18-22; 24:3-8; Jos 2:10-14). Gentile
peoples surely heard of God's destruction of Sodom and His dealings with
Nineveh. God made it plain but many Gentiles were just like the ruling Jews of
whom Jesus said:
For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of
hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and
turn, so that I should heal them (Mt 13:15; see Isa 6:9, 10; Jer 5:21).
1:20, 21 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly
seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power
and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew
God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile
in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
For since the creation of the world [since, for from, ever since, the world's
creation].[ 95 ] After God revealed His power by creation, some aspects of His
invisible nature have been plainly seen. Infallible proofs of His existence were
made available long before Satan and atheists had deceitful materials printed that
His invisible attributes [the, for the, invisible things of him, his invisible
nature, his unseen things].[ 96 ] The nature of God, His love, justice, power and
deity are invisible but are known by His creation. At least Will W. Slater thought
about this when he wrote, "Walking Alone at Eve."
Are clearly seen [has been, have been, perceived, clearly perceived].[ 97 ] Paul
uses a figure of speech called an oxymoron.[ 98 ] The divine attributes Paul speaks
of are clearly seen. Yet, they are invisible. Man may not know God's attributes
by the physical senses but he can know them with the mind.
Since the universe is still being seen it continues to speak the truth of God to open and honest hearts. The existence of the universe as an energy-imparting system tells us something about its beginning. According to the second law of thermodynamics, all things[ 99 ] tend toward randomness and disorder. How can this be happening unless something provided the order in the first place? Suppose a beginning is granted. If it occurred in the infinite past, everything should now be in a state of ultimate disorder. Reasoning about this tells us the universe had a beginning more recently than the infinite past. Think about it. The all-powerful God created an orderly universe. If there is no God, then the universe was made without a maker and now runs by perpetual motion. Nothing made it! Nothing started it in motion! Nothing keeps it going![ 100 ]
Being understood by the things that are made [being apprehended, being
perceived, by the mind through, in, the things that have been made]. [ 101 ] By
thinking about atoms and stars, life and all creation, one may quickly perceive
something of the power, glory and wisdom of the Creator. God's creative act was
secret but the creation is informative everywhere. Everyone has an opportunity
to read the pages of the created universe. For those who cannot see, it "utters
speech" (Ps 19:2). As a watchmaker is known by his watch, by the eye of reason,
God may be comprehended by means of His creation.
Even His eternal power [namely, both, his everlasting power].[ 102 ] The
sustained creation indicates not only power but "eternal power." The beginning
of the universe was accomplished either by everlasting power or by a created
power. If the latter, what or who created the power? Regardless of the position
one accepts, he must come back to an uncaused power (God).
And Godhead [and divinity, and deity].[ 103 ] Because of the eternal power seen in the unified and sustained creation, one may infer the supreme deity of God. Clear traces of His power and divinity may still be read in the dynamic pages of the heavens.
So that they are without excuse [so as to render them inexcusable, so they,
may be without excuse].[ 104 ] The steps of reasoning on the basis of a sustained
and unified creation to belief in an eternal and powerful Creator are not difficult.
Men and women who reject this may presume a defense for sinful conduct.
They did not glorify Him as God [they glorified him not, they did not honor
him, as God].[ 106 ] "To glorify Him as God" implies that people should have no
other gods before, along side of or under Him (Ex 15:11; 20:3-6, 23; De 5:7-10;
Ps 71:19). Jesus understood that glorifying God involved the doing of His will.
I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have
given Me to do (Joh 17:4).
Nor were thankful [neither were thankful, gave thanks, or give thanks, give thanks to him].[ 107 ] The people of whom Paul wrote arose without a prayer. They ate without giving thanks. They went to sleep without expressing gratitude to God. Failure to give thanks due to neglect or shame has led to many departures from the truth. For example, the idolatrous love of money is associated with unthankfulness (Col 3:5). The end result is spiritual disaster (1Ti 6:10). Man's first duty is toward God. Without proper thankfulness, reverence and worship of Him, what real basis is there for decent living?
But became futile in their thoughts [but fell into folly, but they became, have become, vain in their thinking, imaginations, reasonings].[ 108 ] The starting point for all reasoning should be God. The best scientists are believers. The best thinkers think His thoughts after Him. Speculative atheists who skip the divine starting point only imagine that they reason correctly about the origin and evolution of the universe. Since they fail to give God honor, the reasoning is faulty.
The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of
his thoughts (Ps 10:4).
"Useless things" or "vain things" is another name for idols (Ac 14:15). Did those who worshipped idols have knowledge? Yes. They could feel, see, hear, smell and taste God's creation. They had a thousand solid proofs of Him. Yet they quickly devised excuses for not accepting Him. They questioned and doubted every evidence. They repressed their own tendency to believe the truth and they ridiculed others who did.
And their foolish hearts were darkened [and their senseless, heathenish,
heart, minds, their heart without understanding, was darkened].[ 109 ] Why do
many today have such a vicious and unreasoning disbelief in the word of God?
This verse gives an answer. Their foolish heart has been plunged into darkness.
They did not combine the facts which were patent[ 110 ] to their observation.[ 111 ]
Why are morals so low? By rejecting God, man has become foolish and atheistic. Their hearts have been darkened in more than mere unbelief. At least some of them committed abominable iniquity and were "workers of iniquity" (see Ps 14:1-4; 53:1-4). They became corrupt and filthy.
1:22, 23 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory
of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man-- and birds
and four-footed animals and creeping things.
Professing to be wise [professing themselves, claiming, while saying, that
they are wise][ 112 ] (see charts PROFESSING TO BE WISE A and B).
They became fools [they became foolish].[ 113 ] An idolater is a fool. "The fool
has said in his heart, `There is no God'" (Ps 14:1; 53:1).
[1:23] And changed the glory [and exchanged the glory, the splendor].[ 114 ]
The Gentiles traded the inexpressible glory of the immortal God for lifeless, man-made, corruptible images. If they had traded for a rabbit, a raccoon or a rat they
would have been ahead. At least they would have had something alive. Instead,
they settled for lifeless images.
Of the incorruptible God [of the immortal God].[ 115 ] God is eternal and
immortal. Corruptible idols were poor substitutes. They were dumb, lifeless and
in the process of decay.
Into an image made [for images, the likeness of an image, in the form].[ 116 ]
Idols were not even perfect images. For the most part, they were look-alike copies
of other images (see footnote).
Everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge; every metalsmith is put to
shame by the carved image; for his molded image is falsehood, and there is
no breath in them. 18 They are futile, a work of errors; in the time of their
punishment they shall perish (Jer 51:17, 18).
Like corruptible man [of, like to, resembling, mortal people].[ 117 ] Deities in
human-like form prevailed in Greece. Those like animals were popular in Egypt.
Both animal and humanoid images were worshipped in Rome (see note on Ac
7:41). Serpent worship was common in both Chaldea and Egypt.[ 118 ] The
Babylonians were "insane with their idols" (Jer 50:38).
And birds and four-footed animals [or, and of, and to, birds or animals, and
quadrupeds, and fourfooted beasts][ 119 ] (see notes above).
And creeping things [or reptiles, and crawling things, creatures][ 120 ] (see
1:24, 25 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their
hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the
truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than
the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Therefore [wherefore, for this reason].[ 121 ] It was because the heathen and others exchanged the glory of God for images that God gave them over to impurity.
God also gave them up [God gave them over, gave them up also].[ 122 ] It is
a terrible thing when God gives up on people. He gave up the pre-flood world
(Ge 6:3, 13). He gave up Israel to Assyrian captivity (2Ki 17:18). He gave up
Judah to Babylonian captivity (Jer 18:17; see chart ABANDONED BY GOD).
To uncleanness [unto, to the, impurity].[ 123 ] Certain forms of idol worship
involved fornication including degrading homosexual activities.
In the lusts of their hearts [ through the lusts of their own hearts].[ 124 ] Those
who rejected God changed lawful desires into vile imaginations.
To dishonor their bodies among themselves [of, to the, dishonoring of their own bodies, that their bodies should be dishonored, between them].[ 125 ] Unlawful desires led to the consequent degradation of their own bodies.
For the lie [into falsehood, a lie].[ 130 ] Idolatry, by metonymy, is sometimes
termed "a lie" (see Isa 44:20; Jer 10:14; 13:25; 16:19, 20).
And worshipped [and honored].[ 131 ]
And served.[ 132 ] The flip-side is worshipping and serving the true God.
The creature, created things].[ 133 ] In general, idols were similar to created
things or beings, or combinations of them.
Rather than the Creator [more than him who had created it].[ 134 ] Compare
the usage of PARA rather than in Luke 18:14. The Pharisee in Luke 18 was not
justified at all. Those described in the present verse did not really worship God
at all (but see Ac 17:23, 30). Neither were they justified.
Who is blessed forever [who is blessed for ever].[ 135 ] In sharp contrast to the degradation of lifeless and decaying idols, the holy, pure and loving God of heaven is forever blessed and eternally praised.
Amen. The Holy Spirit expresses His approval of the condemnation of
unbelieving and sensual Gentiles with "Amen," (It is so!).
1:26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women
exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
For this reason [for this cause, because of this].[ 136 ] The Holy Spirit has
given the reason for God's punitive action.
God gave them up [God has given them over].[ 137 ] The Gentile idolaters were
given up by God (Ro 1:24). One is reminded of the times when God gave up on
the Jews (see chart ABANDONED BY GOD at verse 24). Stephen said:
Then God turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven, as it is
written in the book of the Prophets: "Did you offer Me slaughtered animals
and sacrifices during forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?" (Ac
The Psalmist recounted,
But My people would not heed My voice, and Israel would have none of
Me. 12 So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their
own counsels (Ps 81:11, 12; compare Mt 23:37, 38).
To vile passions [unto dishonorable, dishonoring, affections].[ 138 ] Fornication is a sin against one's own body (1Co 6:18). How much more is the practice of homosexuality! Homosexuals are said to be given over to a debased condition, not just to an evil desire. The Scriptures suggest that their degenerate condition is a punishment for sin. Does God permit them to enjoy benefits of an alternate lifestyle? No. He gives them up to vile and degrading passions as a punishment! Homosexual sins are repugnant to God. Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them remind people of God's judgment against all who practice such shameful things (Jude 7).
For what is against nature [for, to, into, that, which is unnatural, contrary
to nature].[ 140 ]
1:27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in
their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and
receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
Likewise also the men [and the men likewise, likewise, the men].[ 141 ] The
Greek correlative for "likewise" relates the sin to its effects and to God's response
to it. The results of sin are proportional to it. They may be arithmetically or
geometrically proportional (Ho 8:7).
Leaving the natural use of the woman [left, gave up, natural function,
relations, with women, of women].[ 142 ] The men became homosexual in their
practices. They left women alone. They no longer had intimate relations with
Burned [and burned, were, and were, consumed, inflamed]. [ 143 ] Normal
heterosexual adults have difficulty in comprehending the unholy attraction between
people of the same sex.
In their lust for one another [with lust, their desire, passion, towards one another, one toward another, one for another].[ 144 ] The Spirit acknowledges the strong lust with which some homosexuals are afflicted. They have taken on an unholy, burning attraction along with an intention to satiate that desire.
Men with men committing what is shameful [men with men working,
practicing, unseemliness, that which is unseemly, shameful acts].[ 145 ] Normal
sex between husband and wife is pure, beautiful and uplifting. However, the Holy
Spirit speaks of "kinky" sex. Sodomy by males shamelessly behaving indecently
with males is immoral and shameful.
And receiving in themselves [and receiving in their own persons].[ 146 ]
Homosexuals cannot practice their sin without being paid back for it.
The penalty of their error [that recompense, for their error].[ 147 ] The reward
of error is never good and wholesome. Some have suggested that the AIDS
plague[ 148 ] may be a punishment from God. If so, the same would be true of
other sexually transmitted diseases.
Which was due [due, which was meet, fit, the due].[ 149 ] There are no
victimless sins. When God gives a person up, he or she receives what is due.
The mind and spirit are defiled and degraded. The body itself may also be harmed
(1Co 6:18). Divine condemnation is not necessarily the final sentence from a
forgiving God. He can save anyone. Cases are numerous of homosexuals being
converted, giving up the sinful lifestyle and eventually marrying and having
children. Few, if any, testify that this change occurred overnight.
1:28-32 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God
gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29
being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness,
covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud,
boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning,
untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the
righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of
death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
And even as they did not like [and since, and just as, furthermore since, they
did not see fit, did not wish, refused].[ 150 ] Why did people refuse God?
Because they did not like to serve Him. They did not see fit to ascribe to Him
much worth. He did not conform to their lifestyle.
To retain God in their knowledge [to acknowledge God, to acknowledge God
any longer, to have the knowledge of God].[ 151 ] The sinful Gentiles had a
rudimentary knowledge of God (verse 21), but they did not place a high value on
that knowledge. They did not develop or improve it. They were not interested
in knowing more of God and doing His will. Their failure in this led to all kinds
of sins of the mind and flesh (see Eph 2:3). Were they aware that they were
guilty of downright refusal of God? Perhaps not. Were they just indifferent?
Maybe God was not important enough to them to occupy first place in their lives.
At least they neglected Him. What about people today who are aware of the great
plan of salvation but treat it with less interest than they show in a political speech
or a boring lecture? I would that people showed at least as much interest in God
as they do in television reruns! What about Christians who never miss reading the
newspaper but who neglect regular Bible study, prayer and worship?
For this reason God gave them over [God gave them up][ 152 ] (see chart
ABANDONED BY GOD at verse 24).
To a debased mind [unto a reprobate mind, a base mind].[ 153 ] Paul uses a
play on words. They did not approve God. God gave them up to a mind
disapproved.[ 154 ] Refusing to have God in ones knowledge makes the mind such
that God cannot approve it. Poor soil that will not grow anything is reprobate or
disapproved. It is impossible for seed planted in barren soil to produce a good
crop. Salt that has lost its savor is cast out. Food left too long is disposed of
because it is no longer wholesome and nourishing even for animals.
Without God as its center, it is impossible for a mind to have true concord, unity
and purpose. Conclusions of a godless mind are out of harmony with great,
fundamental and universal truths. Thinking without considering the divine will is
like eating a total junk food diet. A reprobate mind is channeled into rubbish
thinking. A reprobate mind is against God. It is against others, against nature
and, sadly, against itself.
To do those things which are not fitting [to improper conduct, not
convenient, that which is detestable].[ 155 ] Note the connection between the heart
and "the results of his deeds" or "the fruit of his doings" in Jeremiah 17:10. A
reprobate mind leads to a reprobate life. An example of reprobate thinking is the
idea that one church is as good as another. This denies the possibility of the
existence, value and identity of God's true church. Another example of the
reprobate thinking of depraved minds is the atheistic dogma about "safe sex." Its
fruit is seen in ten million cases of sexually transmitted diseases. At this writing,
approximately one in fourteen people in our nation is infected.
I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man
according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings (Jer 17:10).
16. Inventors of evil things
17. Disobedient to parents
23. Approve of those who practice them
[1:29] Being filled [they were filled].[ 156 ] Solomon described those who despise
God's counsel of wisdom:
Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled to the full
with their own fancies (Pr 1:31).
Those who refuse to have God in their knowledge may become so occupied with
all kinds of sins that they become second nature. A comment by Paul follows:
Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others (Eph 2:3).
With all unrighteousness [with all manner of wickedness, injustice].[ 157 ]
Sexual immorality [fornication].[ 158 ] The similarity of the Greek PORNEEIA
fornication and the following term PONEERIA wickedness may account for an
omission in some Greek texts. Fornication or sexual immorality includes several
forms of uncleanness such as bestiality, fellatio and homosexual activities.
Wickedness [evil, mischief].[ 159 ] Wickedness is evil deeds prompted by a
malicious heart (see note below).
Covetousness [greed, rapacity].[ 160 ] The purpose of life is not to selfishly seek
gratification and possessions (Lu 12:15). The body is "for the Lord" (see note and
chart on 1Co 6:13). One who neglects his duty to God in order to amass wealth
is not submissive to the will of Christ (Mt 6:33). This very error is the cause of
much suffering, sorrow and the loss of many souls (1Ti 6:10).
Maliciousness [malice, wickedness].[ 161 ] A malicious person desires to hurt
others. Maliciousness is the evil, hateful and explosive disposition back of
PONEERIA wickedness (see note above).
Full of envy.[ 162 ] If the heart is full of a sin, then everything coming out of it
is tainted (Mt 12:34, 35). A sponge full of filthy water, it stains everything it
touches. The selfish and unloving actions of a person full of envy always hurt self
Murder.[ 163 ] One who hates his brother is a murderer (1Jo 3:15). A person
full of murder thinks thoughts such as, "I hate him/her," "I wish he/she would
drop dead" or "I would like to kill him/her."
Strife [debate, rivalry].[ 164 ] "Debate" (KJV) is used in an obsolete sense of
fighting, contention and strife.[ 165 ] Wrangling and quarreling is condemned. The
word debate now means a controlled, ordered discussion. This is not condemned
in Scripture. In fact, it is encouraged (1Pe 3:15; Jude 3). Unlike the clamorous
ruling Jews and doctors of the Law, Jesus was calm and ordered in His
discussions. Their loud yelling and wrangling was deafening. On the other hand,
Jesus' voice could not be heard "in the streets" (Mt 12:19). He seldom raised His
voice in teaching (see notes on Mt 23, Joh 7:28 37; 12:44).
Deceit.[ 166 ] Out and out lying is condemned (Eph 4:25; Col 3:9; Jas 3:14; Re
21:8, 27; 22:15). Deceit borders on lying. It is an effort to mislead another to
injury.[ 167 ] It includes false actions intended to delude family or associates. It is
involved in political maneuvers, business swindles and religious hocus-pocus.
Debaters and other speakers have been known to set up straw men and then utterly
defeat them with sound arguments. They deceitfully imply that their opponents
hold the false positions. Another example of deceit is the playing of "Let's
Pretend" by modern tongue speakers and so-called miracle workers. A twin sister
of deceit, evil-mindedness, malice or malignity (see note below).
Evil-mindedness [evil dispositions, malignity, craftiness].[ 168 ] Products of
malice or malignancy are libel and slander. A person with a malignant sneer and
a few choice words can turn a good deed of a fine Christian into something sinister
They are whisperers [whisperers, they are gossips, tale-bearers].[ 169 ] Whisperers are "secret" gossipers. With hints, sighs, intimations and rumors they destroy good reputations and hurt the cause of Christ.
[1:30] Backbiters [slanderers].[ 170 ] In contrast to whisperers who do it secretly, slanderers, scandal-mongers and backbiters openly defame the character of others (see verse 29). Judaizers defamed Paul (1Co 4:13). James said, the rich blaspheme "that noble name by which you are called" (Jas 2:7).
Haters of God [hateful to God].[ 171 ] "Haters of God" do not put Him first (Mt
6:33). They may hate Him in the sense that they love Him less than their
activities, possessions and projects. They may hate Him by utter rejection. They
not only feel hatred for Him but show it by such things as selfishness, rebellious
actions or idolatry (see 1Sa 15:23). Clement of Rome, in his letter to the
Corinthians, speaks of enmity towards God along with glorification of self and
other sins. He adds that not only those who do them but those who consent to
them "are held in detestation by God."[ 172 ] They also may hate God by strongly
opposing His Son Jesus Christ (see Joh 12:25).
Violent [insolent, despiteful].[ 173 ] Insolent people with snippy words or violent
actions are always injurious. The haughty snobs make impertinent remarks. Their
abusive put-downs cause hurtful separations. Insulting or harmful language about
another person because he is from another state, country or ethnic background, or
just because his personality is different is insolence.
Proud [haughty, arrogant].[ 174 ] Proud, arrogant and haughty people are the
opposites of the humble and lowly (see Lu 1:51, 52; Jas 4:6; 1Pe 5:5). The noun
HUPEREEPHANIA pride is one of the sins that come from the heart (Mk 7:22;
compare ALAZONEIA the vainglory of life (1Jo 2:16) and TUPHOOSEIS lifted
up with pride (1Ti 3:6).
Boasters [boastful].[ 175 ]
But now you boast in your ALAZONEIAIS arrogance. All such
KAUCHEESIS boasting is evil (Jas 4:16).
Inventors of evil things [inventors of evil, mischief].[ 176 ] Inventors of evil
promote violence, drunkenness and just about every form of immorality. Sinful
actions are paraded before gullible hearts by inventors of evil via the media.
"New" methods of committing crimes are made possible by the use of computers.
"New" teachings are being peddled to the youth. They include the "new"
morality, the "New" Age and the "new" hermeneutic. New ways make it easier
and faster to commit the old sins.
Disobedient to parents.[ 177 ] Loyalty and respect to parents was commanded in
the Law. The same was expected to be practiced by Gentiles if they understood
anything at all about God's love for them and their consequent love for each other.
[1:31] Without undiscerning [void of understanding, foolish].[ 178 ] Idolatry
is equated with ignorance and senselessness. A lack of discernment makes for a
weak or bad conscience. Evil deeds and darkened understanding go together.
Jesus said, "Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil"
(Joh 3:19). The Ephesians, for the most part, were formerly Gentile idolaters.
Paul wrote exhorting them:
This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk
as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their
understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the
ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart (Eph 4:17,
Nobody ever thought his way into unbelief but millions have sinned their way into
infidelity.[ 179 ] How can mental and spiritual darkness be overcome? By believing
and obeying the gospel thereby being made alive in Christ (Eph 2:5; 5:8).
Untrustworthy [faithless, covenant-breakers].[ 180 ] Violating a contract is
covenant-breaking. A Christian's word is his bond. If one breaks his word he is
guilty. The NT is the new covenant. It demands respect, honor and study.
Unloving [without natural affection, heartless].[ 181 ] "Unloving" or "without
natural affection" is characteristic of substance-abusing parents who push their
affection-hungry children away. It is entirely missing when babies are aborted.
When little children are sent away to boarding schools.
Unforgiving [implacable].[ 182 ] In 2 Timothy 3:3 the word ASPONDOI is
translated implacable, irreconcilable or truce-breakers in some versions. Family
feuds are condemned here.
Unmerciful [unmerciful, ruthless, without pity].[ 183 ]
1:32 Who knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice
such things are deserving of death, not only do the same, but also approve of
those who practice them.
Who, knowing [though they know, knowing].[ 184 ] Did the sinful Gentiles
know God (see verse 21)? Did they know the revelation of His wrath against
ungodliness and unrighteousness (see verse 18)? Through Jeremiah, God spoke
to some Gentiles:
You are My battle-ax and weapons of war: for with you I will break the
nation in pieces; with you I will destroy kingdoms (Jer 51:20).
When they punished the Jews, the Babylonians said,
We have not offended, because they have sinned against the LORD, the
habitation of justice, the LORD, the hope of their fathers (Jer 50:7).
Yet they were wrong. They were not guiltless. God said to Israel:
And I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea for all the evil
they have done in Zion in your sight (Jer 51:24).
The righteous judgment of God [God's decree, the judgment, God, the
commandments, of the God].[ 185 ]
That those who practice such things [that they who do, which commit, such
things].[ 186 ] These are those who practice any of the twenty-two sins mentioned
above, or such like (Ga 5:21).
Are worthy of death [deserve to die].[ 187 ]
Not only do the same [not only practice, continue to do, they not only do, them, not only these very things].[ 188 ] Committing sins is wrong, but Paul is preparing to lay responsibility upon those who know better and who do not oppose or refuse fellowship with the evil of others (see Eph 5:3-12).
But also approve [but approve, have fellow delight in, have pleasure in, give
hearty approval, consent, actually applaud].[ 189 ] Philosophers and rulers who
tolerate, approve or use to advantage the sinful actions of others are condemned
along with them. What about the average citizens who endorse the evils of
abortion on demand and wink at homosexual practices? What about Christians
who think nothing of their obsession with gambling, illicit sex and violence?
Of those who practice them [them that, those who, do them, that do them, of those who practice them, such practices, that practice them]. Do those who choose to watch evil on the screen consent and approve?
EIMI (Han 298); power of God; that which manifests God's power (Vine 868); not merely a powerful means in God's hands, but in itself a divine energy (Vincent 3.9); power, might, strength, force, (Arndt 207); by metonymy, things or persons in which God's saving power shows its efficacy EIS SOTERIAN [unto salvation] (Thayer 159); for it is God's power (Williams; Lenski 71).