Exploring Paul's Letter to the Romans, Romans 1

This is my installment for the Blogger Small Group post on Romans chapter 1. There is always time for anyone to join in if they like (see Blogger Small Group Rules/Guidlelines). Right now we are a few weeks into the group, which started in James. No need to try and catch up, just start in the same place we are and post your opinions.

A Little Background on Romans

The book of Romans is of course a letter that Paul of Tarsus, or the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans. It was written from Corinth, Cenchrea (16:1) at the end of Paul's third missionary journey during the time he was in Greece for three months (Acts 20:3).

Paul was writing this letter for a few reasons.

  1. He wanted to let the Romans know he was planning a visit
  2. He wanted to give a detailed explanation of the Gospel message
  3. To address a conflict between Jewish and Gentile segments

It is believed that the letter was written somewhere around the Spring of A.D. 57 or 58, according to several verses in Acts 20.

From Paul's Letter to the Romans, Chapter 1

In the first chapter, the NASB version has the text separated into two sections. The Gospel Exalted and the Unbelief and Its Consequences. I will touch on a few points in each section. When I went to look at this chapter, it was well written over in my Bible.

I think last time I seriously looked at Romans 1 it took months, but that was by my design so don't let that discourage you from reading.

The Gospel Exalted

This section is very much like an opening salutation in a letter, which is basically what Paul is doing here. He greets and identifies his readers, establishes a connection with them, and then talks about the theme for Romans by talking about him impending visit.

The part that stands out to me is v15-17. Something Paul did even before he became a Christian, he was passionate about what he did. Statement like, "for I am eager to preach" and "I am not ashamed of the gospel" show how strong he feels about what he believes and I love how he quotes the old testament at the end of verse 17.

15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."

Sometimes I think we loose that passion over time. As we mature in our Christian walk or faith, to ride the roller coaster of passion. Some days we are, some we aren't, but look at the words Paul uses here, wow.

Part of it I think is a comfort level we have in this country (for those who live in the U.S.). Basically we need for nothing, and get excited about our baseball or football team (which I do). Do we get as excited about the Gospel as we do Auburn or Alabama football, or the race on Sunday afternoon?

Unbelief and Its Consequences

This is an extremely powerful section in the book of Romans and speaks about righteousness, one of those "religious" words. It is an examination of our faith and sinful natures that shows the human race is condemned before God, helpless and hopeless apart for God's grace and the sacrifice of Jesus.

Paul talks about several lifestyles and sins that condemn us as a people. Since the fourth is one that is a "hot topic" in our society today, I will make a few comments about that one in particular.

  1. Suppressing Gods Truth
  2. Ignoring God's revelation (v19-20)
  3. Perverting God's glory (v21-23)
  4. A call to abandon sexual perversions and other lifestyles

A Call To Abandon Sexual Perversions

Things are not so different today than when Paul wrote this chapter. We as a society still deal with all these same issues as they did back then. I think one difference is that we have become accepting of anything and everything. We are trying to see where we stand with verse 27 here in the U.S., so I felt it appropriate to at least mention the topic.

27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

Those who know me well know that I try my hardest not to judge or condemn. What I try to do is read and educate myself on the topics and issues in an attempt to try and better understand them. To me, ignorance is king, and the best way to quickly move out of God's will. On the topic of sexual relations and scripture, one commentary puts it like this:

The words translated women and men in these verses are the sexual words "females" and "males". Contemporary homosexuals insist that these verses mean that it is perverse for a heterosexual male or female to engage in homosexual relations but it is not perverse for a homosexual male or female to do so since homosexuality is such a person's natural preference.

This is strained exegesis unsupported by the Bible. The only natural sexual relationship the Bible recognizes is a heterosexual one (Gen. 2:21-24; Matt. 19:4-6) within marriage.

I think the most revealing thing about that statement is the very last part, within marriage. That makes no distinction between homosexual acts, premarital acts, and adultery, they are all in the same boat. There is basically no difference.

Let the Person Without Sin Cast the First Stone

So, what about those who rail about homosexuality and are active in adultery or sex outside of marriage? For me, the planks in my eye are far to big to worry about someone else. For those holding up the signs in protest, I hope self examination is part of their process as well.

I think Christ's focus was on love and compassion. I have had this discussion with friends over the years and one thing I have always try to point out is verse 29-31 of this chapter. This is not a one verse gotcha on homosexuality. Anyone who has a problem with verse 27 should also have a problem with verses 29-31

29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;

Look at that list, wow. Sin is sin. I find no difference or distinction in God's word between being a liar, a homosexual, or a gossip. All are departures from God's ultimate perfect plan for our lives. We all fall short.

I try to keep in mind, let the person who has no sin in their lives cast the first stone. Although we love to judge, it isn't up to us to do so. I have enough to worry about with my own life and my walk with God to try and decide what is best for another person, I'll let God do that.

Other Blogs of Note

Well, that should be enough keywords on all the above to keep my blog banned on Google for all sorts of things for a while. Other posts that have been released so far are below, be sure to check them out and leave a comment. Please leave a comment for this post as well, I would love to hear your comments.

If you haven't joined the Small Blogger group and would like to, now is a great time. Jump in on Romans Chapter 2 and let us know what you think.