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

 

 

Footnotes
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    Douglas Moo Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey