Romans Lesson 4

Last week we discussed that the faith that gained Abraham his status of righteousness did not include works (Romans 4:3–8) or circumcision (Romans 4:9–12). Now, we are going to see that it also excludes the law.

Faith versus the Law in Abraham’s Justification (4:13–17) 

Gen 17:5  No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.

Abraham and his descendants received salvation not through the law, but in faith in God’s promise. Paul explains if the law could bring the inheritance of blessing, then faith would have no meaning. Human beings are unable to produce works that would bring about their salvation. In v 14, Paul tells us what the law cannot do, and in v 15 what the law does do. Paul uses the word “transgression”, which means the violation of a specific law or commandment. Paul also emphasizes that Abraham was declared righteous prior to being circumcised, which would indicate to Jews and gentiles that Abraham was the father of all believers, not just Israel.


Faith versus Sight in the Experience of Abraham (4:18–25)

Paul speaks generally about Abraham’s faith, never arguing it was perfect or without doubts. However, Abraham held onto his faith, and God credited to him as righteousness. Our faith must also rest in God’s promises.

Romans 5:1-11

Paul turns to the subject of hope.

Rom 5:1  Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Rom 5:2  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Paul explains that believers will have three wonderful blessings, “peace with God (v 1), “access….into this grace in which we now stand” (v2a) and the “hope of the glory of God” (2b).

Note: “Peace with God” is not the same as Peace of God (Php 4:7). Paul is speaking here of the end of our hostility with God, that we have been justified, given eternal salvation. Peace of God refers to the assurance we have in our relationship with our heavenly Father, in regard to the cares of this world.

We have been given access to God for a friendship with him, and can anticipate with certain anticipation our future in glory with God.

Romans 5:12-21

Before the law was given, man died for breaking laws that would have been generally understood as God’s will. The coming of the law brought death for transgressions of specific commands from God.

With the bringing of the law, people are directly responsible for specific transgressions. We are more accountable when we have more knowledge. The parallel Paul wants us to see and rejoice in is that just as Adam’s sin is imputed to us because we were in him, so Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us because we are in him.

Two Adams

Federalism is essentially one person acting on behalf of another. Since Adam sinned, his sin is the sin of all humans.1 (1Co 15:45)

Paul is arguing that Adam is the covenantal head of the original creation, Christ is the covenantal head of the new creation. Note that this infers that Adam was a real person and existed as the first human being. According to Paul, not only the sinful nature but also the guilt of sin was transmitted (“imputed”) to Adam’s seed, all of humanity. The culpability of humanity on account of Adam’s transgression cannot be understood apart from federalism. Humanity in general and individuals in particular are held accountable for and are guilty of sin in that they participated in Adam, their federal head, who acted for them.

“We cannot point the finger at [Adam] in self-righteous innocence, for we share in his guilt. And it is because we sinned in Adam that we die today.”– John Stott

Original Sin

What original sin refers to is this fallen sin nature that is part of the punishment for the first sin. When Adam and Eve acted against God, they didn’t act as private individuals.2


Rom 5:14  Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

Adam is a type (pattern) of the one to come. A biblical type may be described as how God provides a shadow ahead of real salvation history events in the N T. 3

Types in redemptive history can be more than simply people. This is important because we can say that the Ark was a type of the Temple and the New Creation in which man and animal are redeemed to dwell together.

An example would be Joseph, who was hated by his brothers, suffered at their hands and eventually was exalted. Joseph was a type of Christ.

David is another example

Eze 34:23-24  And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken

Adam  is a type of Christ in that he was a representative of humanity. His federal headship of man is contrasted with Christ’s obedience and atoning death for his people.

As Adam’s transgression resulted in condemnation for all those in Adam, so one man’s righteousness resulted in justification for all those in Christ. The translation “made righteous” (Romans 5:19) could be misleading because to be justified is for God to declare one to be righteous, not to make one righteous personally.4


WSC Q. 33. What is justification? A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

The imputation of Christ is seen as a shadow in the O T sacrificial system. The sins of the people were transferred to an animal (the scapegoat) by the high priest on the Day of Atonement, just like our sins transferred to our scapegoat, Jesus Christ.

It is helpful to see what the Roman Catholic Church believes about justification. They teach that righteousness is infused, not imputed and that the believer is actually made righteous, not declared righteous.

“In reality, the Roman view of the gospel, as expressed at (the Council of) Trent, was that justification is accomplished through the sacraments. Initially, the recipient must accept and cooperate in baptism, by which he receives justifying grace. He retains that grace until he commits a mortal sin. Mortal sin is called “mortal” because it kills the grace of justification. The sinner then must be justified a second time. That happens through the sacrament of penance, which the Council of Trent defined as “a second plank” of justification for those who have made shipwreck of their souls.

The fundamental difference was this. Trent said that God does not justify anyone until real righteousness inheres within the person. In other words, God does not declare a person righteous unless he or she is righteous. So, according to Roman Catholic doctrine, justification depends on a person’s sanctification.” 5

As reformed believers, we can have assurance of salvation since it does not depend on us, on our works, but only on the atoning work of Christ, and like Abraham, our righteousness is credited to us by faith. We believe God’s promises!

Council of Trent (1545–1563)  Rome’s response to the Reformation

“If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.”

“CANON XI.-If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.”


The footnotes below include the full articles, and offer further clarification to our discussion. I encourage you to read through them to increase your understanding.


Romans Lesson 3

In Chapter 2, Paul is addressing the  religious Jew did not believe he could be under God’s judgement as he saw himself moral and religious. In Romans 3:1-8, we find Paul dealing with objections and confusion about Paul’s argument that Jews have no special advantage for salvation. Both Jews and gentiles have access to revelation about God, and both failed to respond appropriately. We will see him address the privileges of Jews, and God’s righteousness in condemning them.

In Romans 3:1-4, God equates scripture with the very words of God. In v 4 he quotes Ps 51:4, David’s confession. Paul uses numerous O T verses to show that both Gentiles and true Israel are part of God’s plan of salvation.

In Romans 3:7-8 he notes that even though sin can lead to God’s glory being seen, it still deserves punishment.

Romans 3:7-12

Paul emphasizes that we are not just sinners but under the power of sin. These verse are drawn from Psalm 14:1-3. Continue reading “Romans Lesson 3”

Romans Lesson 2

The Universal Need for God’s Righteousness(1:18–3:20)

                    1. Gentiles Are Unrighteous (1:18–32)
                    2. Jews Are Unrighteous (2:1–3:8)
                    3. All Humans Are Unrighteous (3:9–20)

People need to understand their sinful dilemma before they can take the gospel seriously. We can see this is Paul’s strategy in Romans.

Rom 1:18

After Paul has made his wonderful announcement of the good news of salvation through God’s righteousness, (Romans 1:15-17), you would think Paul would spend time teaching about the blessings of salvation. But he goes in a different direction: he writes about wrath, sin, idolatry, and judgement.

The wrath of God is not a welcome discussion, even for Christians. We would rather think about God’s love and His grace. In the rest of this section Paul will detail the ways in which God’s wrath is inflicted and, especially, the reason why he inflicts that wrath. At the end of 18, Paul tells us that God’s wrath is visited on those who “suppress the truth”. This implies that people have access to the truth.

Romans 1:19-21 includes a discussion of natural revelation. We see that God has manifested his truth to human beings.

In Romans 1:22-28 Paul describes the effects of man’s resistance to God. The act of God “giving them over” is not a passive “allowing” them to experience the consequences of unbelief, but rather an action taken by God. He responds by condemning people to the consequences of the sins they have chosen.

We need to keep in mind that idolatry is anything we put in the place of God-sex, money, power, hobbies, ministry-is and idol.

Romans 1:29 focuses on the evil that we do to one another. Paul ends this by telling us that we have a recognition of good and evil. He also condemns not only those who sin, but those who approve of it.

In Romans 2, Paul uses a literary style that would have been familiar to his audience. This style, called a diatribe, uses a debate with a fictional opponent to express his case.

In Romans 2:1 he discusses judgement. He is not arguing that judgement of others or sinful behavior is wrong. In Romans 2:2-11 he shows that man will be judged on his works, because his works reveal who he is. Paul argues that your actions are evidence that your faith is genuine. So your works or the lack of them indicates what you believe.

Romans 1:17-29 shows the contrast between Jewish teaching and Jewish behavior. He is teaching them that to belong to God’s people, one must be inwardly changed. Physical circumcision means nothing without circumcision of the heart.

In vv 28-29 Paul expresses a new concept of “Jew”. Paul is using the language of “Jew” here to mean “a member of God’s true people.” And he argues that membership in this people has nothing to do with outward or physical matters such as circumcision. In v 29, the word “letter” represents the old salvation historical era, while “Spirit” stands for the new era of redemption that has come with Christ and His resurrection.

Jews need to understand that their covenant status cannot, by itself, protect them from the judgment of God. And they need ultimately also to understand that only a relationship with Christ through the Spirit of the new age will bring them into the true people of God.1Douglas Moo Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey



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    Douglas Moo Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey

Romans Lesson 1

Are you ready to study what many theologians consider to be the greatest letter ever written?

It is important that we understand that this is a letter, a letter written by a particular person to a particular group of people, at a particular time, a particular place. We need to understand it in its context before we can interpret it for its meaning for us. In Acts we see the birth of the church and the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem to Rome. In the Book of Romans we are going to see the doctrine of salvation as it is seen through the bible. Continue reading “Romans Lesson 1”

Romans Upcoming Study Update

Are you ready to study what many theologians consider to be the greatest letter ever written?

We are excited to be getting together for our fall 22 study? We have a new format this year and hope this will enhance our Romans Study. It is similar to what we had used a number of years ago. We have a team teaching approach. I will be teaching the basic lesson each week, while Jeanette Baldwin and Lindsey Randow will be leading and teaching discussion groups. Stefanie Bennett will be a regular substitute for that position. Our discussion groups will include new content as well as discussing the weekly lesson. We will have no assigned homework, but you will have optional opportunities to dig deeper as your time permits.

I will keep up a blog each week with a short summary of the lesson. Sometimes I will add pertinent articles and updates. Also, our blog page will have the outline and discussion questions for you to print out if you are not in class. Please take advantage of that as we generally won’t have the past week’s lesson on hand in class. Every time I publish a new blog post, you will get an email like this one informing you of new posts. I will plan to update the blog within 24 hours after a class and usually that same day.

This week we will be studying Romans 1:1-17 plus we will have background info on the context. We encourage you to be early, as we need to start on time to cover all our materials this week. Nursery drop off starts at 9:50, so that should not make anyone late. We ask for your prayers and your patience as we navigate through this new format and this wonderful letter.

See you Wednesday

On behalf of the Romans Teaching Team,

Kathy Horan