TODAY’S READING: ROMANS 1- 3
The righteousness of God required by the heathen (chapter 1); the righteousness of God required by the hypocrite and Hebrew (chapter 2); the righteousness of God required by all of humanity (chapter 3).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
To this point in our reading through the New Testament we have been in the historical section. In the four Gospels, we were able to see four historical perspectives of Jesus Christ’s person and ministry. The Book of Acts revealed to us the history of the early church through the “acts of the apostles,” and allowed us to see the transition that occurred from God’s dealing with the Nation of Israel to God’s dealing with the Church. As we have learned, there are three transitional Books in the New Testament:
1) Matthew, which bridges from the Old Testament to the New Testament.
2) Acts, which bridges from the Nation of Israel back to the Church.
3) Hebrews, which bridges from the Church back to the Nation of Israel.
We have just crossed the bridge provided by the Book of Acts, and are now entering the doctrinal teachings of the Church Age.
The Book of Romans is the greatest Book in the Bible on Christian doctrine. It is very different from the other New Testament Books in that Paul is not writing to address doctrinal or practical problems with this church. What the content of this Book actually becomes is the handbook that gives us God’s viewpoint on what He is doing in and through His church. That’s why God placed this Book immediately following the Book of Acts. Right after you come through the historical section of the New Testament, and prior to getting into the other church epistles, God gives us His handbook for understanding the doctrine of the church. It is interesting that the order of the letters to the churches in the New Testament follow the prescription laid down in II Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for :
•DOCTRINE – Romans (the New Testament Book on Christian doctrine) •REPROOF – I and II Corinthians (Books that reprove sin) •CORRECTION – Galatians (A Book specifically written to correct false doctrine) •INSTRUCTION IN RIGHTEOUSNESS – Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I & II Thessalonians (Books teaching righteous living based on sound doctrine)
The apostle God used to write this epistle (letter) is identified in the first word of the first verse of the first chapter of the Book. It was written by Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15), as were all of the letters to the churches. Paul was uniquely qualified to be the one God chose to write the Book of Romans in that he was born a Jew (Acts 21:39; 22:3), was completely familiar with Greek culture (Acts 21:37), and was the possessor of Roman citizenship (Acts 16:37; 22:25; 23:37).
It is important to note that though God chose to use Paul to write this epistle to the Romans, Paul himself had never actually been to Rome. He had a passion within him to get there to minister to the believers, but somehow in God’s sovereignty, He had not allowed it. In Paul’s introduction in chapter one, he feels compelled to let the Romans (and us!) know that. He writes, “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; Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you !
also, even as among other Gentiles.”
I don’t know how your mind works, but when you read verses like that, don’t you just have to ask, why wouldn’t God let Paul get to Rome sooner? I mean, if he’s the apostle to the Gentiles, why wouldn’t God allow him to go and minister to his heart’s content? And don’t you think Paul had that very same question? But then think about it. Do you realize that most of the believers to which God would use the Apostle Paul to establish in Christian doctrine (1:11), would be people just like the Romans, who had never and would never see Paul face to face? God uses his ministry through Paul to accomplish the same purposes in us that He did in the believers in Rome in the first century! It’s a very subtle reminder, that when we have a passion for a good thing that God doesn’t bring to pass, it is most likely because He is serving a much more grand and glorious purpose! In this case, if Paul would have gotten to Rome on his time schedule, we wouldn’t have the Book of Romans!
Following the introduction in 1:1-15, beginning in 1:16, Paul identifies two ways God exhibits His power.
First, He demonstrates His righteousness to those who receive the gospel by faith (1:16,17). Second He demonstrates His wrath to those who reject His truth by ungodliness (1:18, 21). In the remainder of chapter one, Paul catalogs the sins of the Gentiles, beginning with their rejection of His glory (1:21-23), which resulted in their perversion physically (1:24-25), emotionally (1:26-27), and mentally (1:28-32).
Having proven the ungodliness of the Gentiles in chapter one, he now turns the spotlight on the sins of the hypocrites (2:1-16) and the Hebrews (2:17-29). He begins chapter two by showing the hypocrites the inexcusability of their behavior (2:1-4). Anticipating their objections, Paul informs them of an inescapable appointment with God’s judgment (2:5-16). Paul concludes the chapter by exposing the unreliable confidence the Jews place in the law (2:17, 24) and in the unprofitable ritual of circumcision (2:25-29).
In chapter three, Paul will reach the conclusion to which he has been moving since chapter one, verse 18. The conclusion is identified in 3:9, “For we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all UNDER SIN.” Whether you’re a HEATHEN (1:21-32), a HYPOCRITE (2:1-16), or a HEBREW (2:17-29), the scriptures conclude that “there is none righteous, no, not one” (3:10). You see, Paul realizes that before someone receives the “good news” of the gospel, they must acknowledge the “bad news” of their sinfulness. So chapter three begins by proving all of humanity’s condemnation before God (3:1-20), and concludes by manifesting the availability of righteousness to all who choose to receive it (3:21-31). Take note of the fact that God’s righteousness is offered with three conditions:
1) It must be received apart from the law. (3:21)
2) It is only available through Christ. (3:22-26)
3) It can only be accepted by faith. (3:21-31)
Note some key facts and figures about the Book of Romans:
Approximate date of writing: 60 A.D.
Key Verse: Romans 1:16, 17
Key Words: Righteousness; appears 39 times Christ is seen as: our righteousness (Romans 3:23, 24)
Here is a simple outline to guide you through the Book:
The Revelation of Righteousness In The Gospel:
The Righteousness Received In Salvation (Chapters 1-8)
The Righteousness Rejected By The Jews (Chapters 9-11)
The Righteousness Reproduced In Sanctification (Chapters 12-16)