Romans

ROMANS

Chapter 1

This letter is from Paul, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.  God promised this gospel to me long ago through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures.  It is the Good News regarding His Son, who came as a man and was born a descendant of David.  And Jesus Christ was shown to be the Son of God when God powerfully raised Him from the dead by means of Holy Spirit!

Through Jesus and for His name’s sake, Paul had received grace and apostleship to call the Gentiles everywhere to the obedience that comes from faith. And I am among those who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ!  To all the dearly loved of God in Rome and to me:  Grace and peace is extended to us from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

Paul first wanted to thank God through Jesus Christ for all of the saints at Rome because their faith was becoming known throughout the world.  He was serving God with His whole heart in preaching the gospel of His Son, and he also prayed constantly for them with God as his witness.  Paul also was praying that God would give him the opportunity to visit them, for he longed to see those in Rome, so that he could impart to them some spiritual gift to establish their faith.

Paul’s desire was that they would mutually encourage each other by their faith! Paul also wanted his brothers and sisters in Rome to know that many times he had planned to visit them but was prevented from doing so.  He wanted to work among them to produce good fruit, like he had done among the other Gentiles.  Paul believed himself to be under obligation to both Gentiles and non-Gentiles, and to both the wise and the foolish.  That is why he was so eager to come to those in Rome – so that he could preach the gospel to them!

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ!  For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes – for the Jew, then for the Gentiles!  In the gospel the righteousness of God is made known to me; a righteousness that is accomplished from start to finish by faith.  As the Scriptures say in Habakkuk 2:4, ‘the righteous will live by faith.’

But the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness.  Because what may be known about God is evident to me because God has made it plain to me.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen.  I am able to understand them from what He has made, so I am without excuse!

For although some people had known God, they did not honor Him as God or even give thanks to Him.  They became futile in their speculations and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools instead by exchanging the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal men, birds, animals, and reptiles.  So God let them go ahead and do whatever sinful things their hearts desired resulting in sexual impurity and the degrading of their bodies with one another.

They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather the Creator, who is to be praised forever!  Amen! Because they worshiped created things, God abandoned them to their shameful desires.  Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. And in the same way, the men also abandoned their natural relations with women and burned with lust for one another.  Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

When they refused to acknowledge God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done! They live their lives filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malicious behavior and gossip.  They are slanderers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful.  They are forever inventing new ways of sinning and are disobedient to their parents.  They are senseless, faithless, heartless, and ruthless.  They are fully aware of God’s death penalty for those who do these things, yet they not only continue to do these things, but also they approve of those who practice them.

Chapter 2

Therefore, I have no excuse if I pass judgment on someone else.  For at whatever point I am judging others, I am actually judging myself.  I am attempting to pass judgment, yet I do the same things.  I should realize that it is God who rightly judges those who practice such things.  So when I, a mere human, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do I suppose that I will escape God’s judgment? Am I taking lightly the riches of His kindness and His tolerance and patience, and then not realizing that the kindness of God leads me to repentance?

If I am stubborn and my heart is unrepentant, I would be storing up wrath for myself on the day of God’s wrath when His righteous judgment is revealed.  For God will give to me according to what I have done.  He will give eternal life to me if I persistently am doing good by seeking after the glory, honor and immortality that God offers.  But He will pour out His wrath on me if I am self-seeking, reject the truth, and follow evil.

There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on sinning; for the Jew first, then also for the Gentile.  But there will be glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good; for the Jew first, then also for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism!

It doesn’t matter if I sin without the knowledge of the law or with a knowledge of it, as everyone is accountable to God’s judgment.  For it is not merely knowing the law that makes me righteous before God, but it is whether or not I obey it!

Even when the Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, instinctively follow what the law says, they demonstrate that they know right from wrong.  By their behavior they show the work of the law written in their hearts.  Their conscience accuses them or tells them they are doing what is right.  Then, according to the gospel, the day will come when God, by Jesus Christ, will judge all of the secrets of everyone.

Paul now addresses those who are Jews who rely on the law and boast about their relationship to God.  They know His will and know right from wrong because they have been taught His law.  They are convinced that they are a guide for the blind and a light to those who are in darkness.  They consider themselves instructors of the foolish and teachers of the immature.  For they are certain that in God’s law they have complete knowledge and truth. Well then, if they go about teaching others, do they not also teach themselves?

Well then, if they (the Jews) go about teaching others, do they not also teach themselves?  They tell others not to steal, but do they steal?  They say that people should not commit adultery, but do they commit adultery?  They abhor idols, yet do they rob the temples?  They are so proud of knowing the law, but do they dishonor God by breaking it?  No wonder it is written in Isaiah 52:5, “The world blasphemes the name of God because of them.”

The Jewish ceremony of circumcision has value, but only if you, the Jews, observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as if you had not been circumcised.  So if uncircumcised men keep the requirements of the law, won’t they be considered as circumcised?  If someone is physically not circumcised, but keeps the law,  they will be much better off than you Jews who are circumcised and know so much about God’s laws, but don’t obey them.  For one is not a Jew if they are only one outwardly, and neither is circumcision merely outward and physical.  No, someone is a Jew if they are one inwardly, as true circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by God’s Spirit and not by the letter of the law.  Whoever has been changed like that seeks praise from God, not from people.

Chapter 3

            Then what would be the advantage of me being a Jew; or what value is there if I were circumcised?  Well, there are many advantages!  First, they were entrusted with the very words of God!  Although it is true that some of them did not believe, does their lack of belief nullify God’s faithfulness?  Not at all!  Let God be true and everyone else a liar.  As it is written in Psalm 51:4b, ‘God will be proven right in what He says, and He will prevail when He is judged.’

 I might argue that my sins serve a good purpose by making a clear distinction between me, a sinner, and a righteous God.  Therefore, according to this human line of reasoning, God is unjust to punish me.  May this never be!  If that were the case, how could God judge the world?  I could also make the argument that when my sin increases, the glory of God is also increased when He forgives them.  So why am I still condemned as a sinner?  The more I sin, the better God’s goodness is, so many conclude that they should do more evil so that more good may result.  If I truly thought this way, I would deserve to be condemned!

I know that whatever the law says, it applies to those who are under the law, so that I am without excuse, as the whole world will be held accountable to God. I cannot be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law because the function of the law is so that I become aware of my sin.  But now God has made known the fact that I can attain the righteousness of God apart from the law, as was foretold by the law and the prophets.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ when I believe, and this is available to all – it makes no difference who they are.

For I, and everyone else, have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Yet God freely justified me by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.  God sent Jesus as the sacrifice for me through faith in His blood.  He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed.  And He is entirely fair and just in this present time when He declares me to be right in His sight because I believe in Jesus!

Am I able to boast?  No, it is excluded!  Why is it excluded – because of observing the law?  No, I cannot boast because of the law of faith!  For Paul maintains that I am justified by faith apart from works of the law.  Or is God the God of the Jews only?  Isn’t He the God of the Gentiles also?  Of course He is!    There is only one God, and He will justify the circumcised by faith, and also the uncircumcised through that same faith.  Because God emphasizes faith, does that mean I can forget about the law?  On the contrary, only by faith do we truly fulfill the law!

Chapter 4

What did Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, discover regarding the law and faith?  For if Abraham had been justified by works, he would have had something to boast about – but not before God!  What does the Scripture say in Genesis 15:6?  ”Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

When I work, my wages aren’t credited to me as a gift; I earned what I received.  But when I don’t do any works, but believe in the One who justifies the ungodly, I am declared righteous because of my faith!  King David also speaks of the blessings I receive when God credits me with righteousness apart from any works: ‘Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered.  Blessed are those whose sin will never be counted against them.’  Is this blessing only for the Jews, or also for the Gentiles?  Paul has been teaching that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness, so how then was it credited to him?

 So how then was righteousness credited to Abraham?  Was it after he was circumcised or before?  God declared him righteous before he received the sign of circumcision – a seal declaring Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous!  So Abraham has been made the spiritual father of me and all of those who have faith but have not been circumcised. We have been made righteous by faith!  And Abraham is also the spiritual father of me and those who have been circumcised, but only if we walk in the footsteps of the faith our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

It was not through the law that Abraham and his descendants received the promise regarding being heir of the world, but through a new relationship with God through faith.  For if I live by the law and therefore am an heir, then faith has no value and God’s promise is worthless.  Trying to obey all of the law brings about God’s wrath, but where there is no law there is no violation of it.

 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and be guaranteed to all of Abraham’s descendants.  Not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham!   For Abraham is the father of all who believe.  That is what the Scripture means in Genesis 17:5, ‘I have made you a father of many nations.’  He is my father in the sight of the God he believed in; the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were!  Even though there was no reason to hope, Abraham did have hope and believed.  He then became the father of many nations, just as it was recorded in Genesis 15:5, ‘Your offspring shall be like the stars of the heavens.’

Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though he acknowledged the fact that his body was too old to be a father at the age of one hundred, and that his wife, Sarah, had a womb that also seemed dead.  Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding God’s promise, but his faith grew stronger and he gave glory to God!  He was fully persuaded that God was able to do what He had promised.  This is why his faith was credited to him as righteousness.

The words ‘it was credited to him’ was not written for Abraham alone, but also for me!  Yes, God will credit me with righteousness when I believe in Him who raised Jesus, the Lord, from the dead.  Jesus was delivered over to death because of my sins, and was raised from the dead for my justification!

Chapter 5

Therefore, since I have been justified by my faith, I now have peace with God because of what my Lord Jesus Christ has done for me!  It is also by Him and through faith that I have gained access into this grace which I now stand!  And I am to rejoice in the hope of the glory of God!

I also can rejoice when I run into problems and trials, knowing that these trials will bring about my ability to persevere.  And perseverance develops my character; character brings hope; and my hope will not disappoint me.  For God has poured out His love into my heart through Holy Spirit, who was given to me!

For while I was still helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for sinners like me. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for an especially good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrated His own love for me in this: while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me!

Since I have been justified by the blood of Christ, how much more shall I be saved from wrath through Him!  For if, when I was God’s enemy, I was reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, now that I am reconciled with Him, shall I be saved by His life!  Not only this, I can also rejoice in my wonderful new relationship with God , all because of what my Lord Jesus Christ has done for me in making me a friend of God!

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death entered through sin, so death then spread to all humanity, for everyone sinned. Before the law was given sin was in the world, yet sin was not imputed when there was no law.  Nevertheless, death still reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not disobey an explicit command as Adam did. And Adam was a type of the One who was to come. What a difference between our sin and God’s generous gift of forgiveness! For if Adam’s sin resulted in the death of many, how much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many!

The gift of God is not exactly like the result of one man’s sin.  For on the one hand judgment arose from one sin resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift of God arose from many sins and resulted in justification.  For if the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over us, how much more will I, who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness, live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ!

Not only did the sin of one result in condemnation for all of humanity, but also one act of righteousness resulted in the justification that brings life for all! Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners, so also through the obedience of one man, many will be made righteous. God’s law was given so that people could see how sinful they were, but as sin increased, grace increased all the more. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s grace rules instead, giving me righteousness before God and resulting in me inheriting eternal life through Jesus Christ my Lord!

Chapter 6

So what should I conclude?  Should I keep on sinning so that God can show me more and more of His grace?  God forbid!  Since I have died to sin, how can I continue to live in it any longer? Or have I already forgotten that when I was baptized into Christ Jesus, I was baptized into His death?  For I died and was buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, I too may live in newness of life!

For if I have been united with Christ in His death, I will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.  My old sinful self was crucified with Christ, so that my body of sin might be done away with, and I am no longer to be a slave to sin. Because I died, I have been freed from sin!

Now if I have died with Christ, I can believe that I will also live with Him! I can be sure of this because Christ rose from the dead, and He will never die again. Death no longer has any power over Him!  He died once to defeat sin, and now He lives for the glory of God,  In the same way, I should consider myself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus!

Therefore, I am not to let sin reign in my mortal body or give in to its lustful desires. I am not to let any part of my body be an instrument of wickedness, to be used for sinning. Instead, I am to give myself completely over to God as one who has been brought from death unto life! I am to present my whole body as an instrument of righteousness unto God. Sin should no longer be my master, because I am not under law but under grace!

 What then?  Should I sin because I am no longer under the law but under grace?  Of course not!  I must realize that when I yield myself to obey someone as their slave, I am a slave to the one I obey – whether that be a slave to sin leading to death, or a slave to obedience leading to righteousness.  But thanks be to God that although I was once a slave to sin, I became obedient from my heart to the form of teaching which was entrusted to me.  Having been freed from sin, I have become a slave to righteousness!

Paul chose to write in human terms like slavery because humans are weak in their natural selves.  Before, I had allowed myself to offer parts of my body in slavery to impurity and to ever increasing wickedness.  So now I must choose to be a slave to righteousness which leads to holiness.  When I was a slave of sin, I wasn’t concerned with doing what was right.  And what was the result?  It was not good, since now I am ashamed of the things I used to do in my past – things that would have resulted in death.  But now that I have been set free from the power of sin and have become a slave to God, I am doing those things which lead to holiness and the result is eternal life!

For the wages of my sin is death, but my free gift from God is eternal life in Christ Jesus my Lord!

Chapter 7

I should know this, especially if I am familiar with the law, that the law has authority over someone only as long as they live. For example, when a woman marries, she is bound by the law to her husband as long as he is alive.  But if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So while her husband is alive, she would be committing adultery if she married another man. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and does not commit adultery when she remarries. Therefore, I also died to the law through the body of Christ, so that I might belong to the One who was raised from the dead. As a result, I am now to bear fruit for God!

So when I was controlled by my sinful nature, sinful desires were at work in me.  The law aroused these evil desires that produced sinful deeds, resulting in death. But now, I have been released from the law by dying to what once bound me, so that I am to serve in the newness of the Spirit, not in the old way of the letter of the law.  What shall then be said? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known what coveting was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”  But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, aroused in me every kind of covetous desire. If there were no law, sin would not have that power.

I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, actually proved to be death for me. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.  But still the law itself is holy, righteous, and good. But how can that be? Did the law, which is good, become death to me?  Of course not! Sin used what was good to bring my condemnation. So I should know how terrible sin really is.  Through the law, sin became utterly sinful!

For I know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal and sold as a slave to sin. I don’t understand myself at all, as I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very things I hate. Since I do what I do not want to do, my bad conscience shows me that I agree that the law is good. So now, it is no longer I myself who do it, but sin which dwells within me.

I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my sinful nature; for I want to do the right thing, but am seemingly unable to perform it. I do not do the good that I want to do, and when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. But if I am doing what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one who is doing it.  The sin which dwells within me is doing it.

This principle is at work in me – when I want to do what is good, evil is right there with me. In my inner being, I delight in God’s law, but I see another law at work in the members of my body. It wages war against the law of my mind and makes me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.  What a wretched person I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So this is how it is: on one hand I myself  am serving the law of God with my mind, but on the other hand my sinful nature is a slave to the law of sin.

Chapter 8

Therefore, there is no condemnation for me when I am in Christ Jesus! For the law of the Spirit of the life of Christ has set me free from the law of sin and of death. For what the law was powerless to do because of my sinful nature, God did by putting in a different plan to save me. He sent His own Son in the likeness of a sinful man as an offering for my sin. And so He condemned sin within sinful humanity so that the requirement of the law would be fully accomplished for me, as I do not follow my sinful nature, but instead, follow the Spirit!

If I live according to my sinful nature, my mind will focus on sinful things. But if I live according to the Spirit, my mind is set on the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the sinful nature is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. The sinful mind is hostile toward God. It never did obey God’s laws and it never will. That is why if my mind is controlled by my sinful nature, I cannot please God.

But I am not controlled by my sinful nature.  I should be controlled by the Spirit if I have the Spirit of God living in me. Those who do not have the Spirit of Christ do not belong to Christ. Since Christ lives in me, even though my body will die because of sin, my spirit is alive because I have been made right with God! And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in me, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to my mortal body through His Spirit living within me!

Therefore, with my brothers and sisters in Christ, I do have an obligation – but it is not one to do what my singul nature urges me to do. For if I keep following it, I will perish. But if through the power of the Spirit I put to death the misdeeds of my body, I will live! For by being led by the Spirit of God, I demonstrate that I am a child of God. For I did not receive a spirit that again makes me a slave to fear, but I have been adopted by God as His child and can cry out to Him, “Abba Father!”

The Spirit Himself testifies with my spirit that I am God’s child! And since I am His child, I am also an heir – an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ. But if I am to share in His glory, I must also share in His suffering.

Yet, what I may suffer now cannot be compared to the glory that will be revealed in me. For all of creation waits in eager expectation when God will reveal who His children are. Against its will, everything on earth was subject to God’s curse, and all creation looks forward to that day when it will join me, a child of God, in being liberated from our bondage to decay and brought into His glorious freedom. For I know that all creation has been groaning as if in the pains of childbirth right up to this present time.

Not only creation, but as one who has the Holy Spirit, I too also groan inwardly as I eagerly wait for my adoption to be complete and my body to be redeemed! For I am saved by this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope at all. Who continues to hope for something they already have? But if I am truly hoping for something I don’t yet have, I must wait for it patiently!

In the same way, the Spirit helps me in my weaknesses; for at times I don’t even know what I ought to pray for. But the Spirit Himself intercedes for me with groanings that words cannot express. And He who searches my heart knows what the mind of the Spirit is, for the Spirit groans for me according to the will of God. And I know that God causes all things to work together for my good because I love Him, and I am called according to His purpose for me!

For God knew me in advance, and He then predestined me to become conformed to the likeness of His Son, so that His Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. He predestined me, then He called me. And after calling me, He justified me; and after being justified, God also glorified me. What am I to say in response to this? If God is for me, then who can be against me?

Since God did not even spare His own Son but gave Him up for me – how will He not, along with Him, freely give me all things? Who then dares to bring any charge against me, one whom God has chosen? God is the One who justifies, so who is the one who condemns? Will Christ Jesus? No, He is the One who died; more than that, He was raised and is at the right hand of God interceding for me!

Can anything separate me from the love of Christ? Can trouble or hardship or persecution or hunger or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written in Psalm 44:22, “For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things, I am more than a conqueror through Him who loved me!

For I am convinced that nothing can separate me from the love of God: not death nor life, nor angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, not any powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation. No, nothing will ever be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus my Lord.

Chapter 9

Paul is speaking the truth in Christ – Paul doesn’t lie – as his conscience and Holy Spirit confirmed this in him. Paul’s heart was filled with great sorrow and unending grief for his own people, his Jewish brothers and sisters. He would be willing to be cursed and cut off from Christ if that would save them! 

They are the people of Israel, to whom belong the adoption as God’s children; God’s glory was revealed to them; He made covenants with them and gave them His law; they were privy to temple worship; and they were the recipient of God’s promises. Their ancestors are the patriarchs and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ. And He is God who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise! Amen!

But it is not as though the word of God has failed, as not everyone born into a Jewish family is truly a Jew. Nor are they all truly Abraham’s children just because they are his descendants. For in Genesis 21:12 it states that “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. For God promised in Genesis 18:14, “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son!

Not only that, Rebekah’s conceived twins by one man, our father, Isaac. Yet before they were even born or had done anything good or bad, God told Rebekah something. What He told her was not based on any works anyone had done, but so that the purpose of God according to election might stand. God told her, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written in Malachi 1:2,3, “I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau.” So, what can I say about this? Is there injustice with God? Of course not! For God said to Moses in Exodus 33:19, “I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy, and I will show compassion on whom I show compassion!”

So then, it does not depend on my desires or my efforts, but on God’s mercy! For the Scriptures say to Pharaoh in Exodus 9:16, “I raised you up for the very purpose of displaying My power in you that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden. I could easily respond to this by asking, “Why would God still blame me? How can I resist His will? But who am I to talk back to God? Should the thing created say to the One who made them, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have a right to make from the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and make His power known, endured with great patience the objects of His wrath prepared for destruction? What if He did this to make the riches of His glory known to the objects of His mercy prepared in advance for glory? He has shown mercy to me, whom He also called, not only from the Jews, but also from the Gentiles. Concerning the Gentiles, God states in Hosea 2:23, “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’” And in Hosea 1:10, “It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘you are not My people,’ they will be called children of the living God.”

Concerning Israel, Isaiah 10:22,23 states, “Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand on the seashore, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out His sentence upon the earth quickly and with finality.” And just as it was foretold in Isaiah 1:9, “If the Lord Almighty had not spared a few of us, we would have been wiped out as completely as Sodom and Gomorrah.”  What then should I say? Just this: The Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained it – a righteousness obtained by faith! But Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it.

Why didn’t the Jews attain it? Because they were trying to attain righteousness by keeping the law and being good instead of by depending on faith. They stumbled over the ‘stumbling stone.’ God had warned them in Isaiah 8:14 and 28:14, “Behold I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. But because I believe in Him, I will not be disappointed!”

Chapter 10

Paul’s heart’s desire and prayer to God was that his Jewish brothers and sisters might be saved. They had great enthusiasm and zeal for God, but that was not based on knowledge. They did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to do things their own way. They would not submit to God’s plan. For Christ completed the law, so that there may be righteousness for all who believe!

For Moses wrote that if I practice righteousness based on the law, I must live by that standard of righteousness. But righteousness based on faith states in Deuteronomy 30:12-14, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven’ (that is, to bring Christ down) or ‘Who will descend in the deep?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” But what does it mean? The word is near; it is on your lips and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith that Paul was preaching. For if I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe with my heart that God raised Him from the dead, then I shall be saved!

For it is by believing in my heart that I become right with God, and it is confessing with my mouth that results in my salvation. As the Scriptures state in Isaiah 28:16, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed!”  For there is no difference if I am a Jew or a Gentile, as the same Lord is Lord of all and He richly blesses me when I call on Him!

When I call on the name of the Lord, I will be saved! But how can I call on Him to save me unless I believe in Him? And how can I believe in him if I have never heard about Him? And how can I hear about Him unless someone tells me? And how will anyone go and tell me without being sent? As the Scripture states in Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

But not everyone welcomes the Good News, as it states in Isaiah 53:1, “Lord, who has believed our report?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ. But what about the Jews? Did they not hear? Of course they did – as Psalm 19:4 states, “The message of God’s creation has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”

Did the people of Israel really understand? First Moses said in Deuteronomy 32:21, “I will make you jealous by those who are not a nation; by a nation without understanding will I anger you.” And later Isaiah spoke boldly for God in Isaiah 65:1, “I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who were not asking for me.” But regarding Israel, Isaiah speaks for God in Isaiah 65:2, “All day long I opened my arms to a disobedient and obstinate people.”

Chapter 11

So Paul’s question is this:  Has God rejected His people, the Jews? May it never be! For Paul also was an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham from the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Remember what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah – how in I Kings 19:10,14 he appealed to God against Israel, “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.” And what was God’s reply? In I Kings 19:18 He answered, ”You are not the only one left. I have kept for Myself seven thousand others who have not bowed the knee to Baal!” During Paul’s time it was similar, as a remnant remained according to God’s gracious choice. They remain by grace as it was not based on works anymore, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

What then? Israel did not obtain what it earnestly sought, but those who were chosen obtained it. The rest were hardened, as it is written in Deuteronomy 29:4, “God has put them into a deep sleep. To this very day He has shut their eyes so they could not see, and closed their ears so that they could not hear.” And David wrote in Psalm 69:22,23, “May their table become a snare or trap, a stumbling block and a punishment to them. May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.” Did God’s people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.

Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the Jews turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when the Jews finally accept it. Paul often spoke directly to Gentiles, for God had appointed him as the apostle to the Gentiles. Paul attempted to magnify his ministry to them, in the hope that he might arouse his own people, the Jews, to become envious and then save some of them. For since the Jews’ rejection meant that God offered reconciliation to the rest of the world, how much more wonderful will their acceptance be – life from the dead! If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.

Some of the Jewish branches have been broken off, and you Gentiles, although a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others. You became a partaker of the nourishing sap of the olive tree, so make sure you do not become arrogant toward the branches. If you are prideful, consider this – you do not support the root, the root supports you! You might then say, “Well, those branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” That is true, but remember, the Jews were broken off because of unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Don’t think so highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either!

I should take notice of the fact that God is both kind and severe! He is severe to those who fell away, but kind to me as I continue to trust in His kindness. Otherwise, I also will be cut off. And if the Jews turn from their unbelief, they will be grafted back in, for God is able to graft them back in again. For if God was willing to graft into His own good tree someone who was by nature a wild olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

Paul wants me to understand this mystery – As a child of God, I should not be wise in my own estimation for Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the complete number of the Gentiles have come to Christ. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written in Isaiah and Jeremiah, “The deliverer will come from Jerusalem, and He will turn Israel from ungodliness. And then I will keep my covenant with them and take away their sins.” Many of the Jews are now enemies of the gospel, which has been of benefit to the Gentiles. Yet the Jews are still His chosen people because of the Jewish patriarchs. For the gifts and call of God are irrevocable!

Once, the Gentiles were disobedient to God, but when the Jews refused His mercy, God was merciful to them instead. And now, the Jews are the disobedient ones and God’s mercy has come to the Gentiles, but the Jews will still receive God’s mercy. For God has imprisoned all of humanity in disobedience, so that He might have mercy on everyone.

Oh the depth of the riches of both the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and unfathomable are His ways! For who can know the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that God should have to repay them? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things! To God be the glory forever. Amen!

Chapter 12

Paul urges me by God’s mercies to present my body as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is my spiritual service of worship.  And I am not to be conformed to this world, but I am to be transformed by the renewing of my mind.  This will enable me to prove what the perfect will of God is – His good, acceptable and perfect will.

By the grace given to Paul by God, he writes that I should not think more highly of myself than I ought to think.  But I should think of myself with sound judgment, as God has allotted me a measure of faith.  For just like my body is comprised of many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body.  There are many members of His body, and I am a part of that body along with the other members.

We all have different gifts according to God’s grace, and I should exercise mine accordingly.  If my gift is prophecy, I should prophecy according to my faith; if my gift is service, I should serve; if it is teaching, I am to teach; if it is encouraging, I should encourage; if it is giving, I should give generously; if it is leadership, I am to lead with diligence; and if it is showing mercy, I should do that cheerfully.  My love must be sincere and without hypocrisy.  I am to hate what is evil and cling to what is good.

I am to be devoted to others with brotherly love, and honor others above myself.  I should not be lazy in my work, but I should be fervent in spirit as I serve the Lord.  My life should be characterized by being joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer, helpful regarding the needs of others, and by being hospitable.

I am to bless those who persecute me; yes, bless them and not curse them.  I should rejoice with those who rejoice, and also weep with those who weep.  I must be of the same mind toward everyone.  I should not be proud, but I should be willing to associate with those of low position.

I should never be conceited and think I know it all.  I must never pay back evil for evil to anyone, but I am to be careful to do what is right in the sight of everyone.  As much as possible, I need to do my part to live peaceably with everyone.

I should never avenge myself, but I should leave that to God.  As it states in Deuteronomy, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  Instead, I should follow the instruction of Proverbs, “But if my enemies are hungry, I should feed them, and if they are thirsty, I should give them a drink, because in doing this, I will be heaping coals of fire on their heads.”  I should never be overcome by evil, but I should overcome evil with good.

Chapter 13

I am to submit myself to the governing authorities. For there are no authorities except from God, and those which exist are established by God! Therefore, if I resist the laws of the land, I am actually rebelling against what God has instituted and am bringing judgment upon myself.

For the authorities should not frighten me when I do what is right, but I should be fearful when I am doing wrong. If I want to be free from fear of those in authority, then I should do what is right, and they will commend me. The authorities are a minister of God to me for my good. But if I am doing something wrong, of course I should be afraid for I will be punished. The authorities are established by God for that very purpose – to punish me when I do wrong. Therefore, it is necessary for me to submit to the authorities for two reasons: not only to avoid possible punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience!

This is also why I am to pay my taxes, as government workers need to be paid so that they can keep on doing the work God intended them to do. I am to give everyone what I owe them: If I owe taxes, pay taxes; if import duties, pay them; if respect, give respect; and if honor, give honor! I should not owe anything to anyone except to love them! For if I love my neighbor, I have fulfilled the law.

For the commandments like, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and any other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying – “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor, so love is the fulfillment of the law!”

And I am to do this understanding the time. The hour has come for me to wake up from my sleep for the coming of my salvation is nearer now than when I first believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is almost here. Therefore I am to lay aside the deeds done in darkness and put on the armor of light!

I should behave decently, as in the daytime. And I am not to participate in wild parties and getting drunk, or sexual promiscuity and sensuality, or in fighting and jealousy. But I am to clothe myself with the Lord Jesus Christ, and I am not to think about ways to gratify the desires of my sinful nature.

Chapter 14

I am to be accepting of fellow Christ followers whose faith is weak and not argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For one person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but someone else, whose faith is weak, will eat only vegetables. If I believe it is all right to eat anything, I must not look down on others who do not. And if I choose not to eat everything, I must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them!

Who am I to judge someone else’s servants? To their own master they stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. I can choose whether to regard one day above another or to regard each day alike. I definitely should be fully convinced in my own mind. If I regard one day as special, I am to do that to the Lord. If I choose to eat all kinds of meat, I am to eat as unto the Lord and give thanks to God when eating. And if I choose not to eat every type of meat, I am to do that unto the Lord as well and also give thanks to God!

For I do not live to myself alone, nor do I die to myself alone. For while I live, I should live to please the Lord, and when I die, I will be with the Lord. So in life and in death, I belong to the Lord. Christ died and rose again for this very purpose – so that He might be Lord of the living and the dead.

So, why should I condemn another Christ follower? Or why should I look down on any of my brothers and sisters? I need to remember that I will personally stand before the judgment seat of God. For the Scripture states in Isaiah 45:23, “As surely as I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow before Me and every tongue will confess to God!” So at that point I will have to give a personal account of myself to God. Therefore, I should stop passing judgment on others. Instead, I am to make up my mind that my life will not be a stumbling block or obstacle in the path of my fellow Christ followers.

Paul was fully convinced in the Lord Jesus that no food is unclean in itself. But if I were to consider it wrong or unclean, then for me it would be wrong. If another Christ follower is distressed by what I eat, I would not be acting in love if I eat it. I should not let what I eat ruin someone for whom Christ died. Therefore, I should not let what for me is a good thing be spoken of as evil!

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. If I am serving Christ with this attitude, I will be pleasing to God and be approved by people as well!  Therefore, I am to make every effort to pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another! 

I should never destroy the work of God because of food. There is nothing wrong with these things in themselves, but it is wrong for me to eat anything if it makes another person stumble. It is better for me not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another Christ follower to stumble. So whatever I believe about these things, I should keep it between myself and God. I am blessed when I do not condemn myself by the things I approve. But if I have any doubts about what I eat, I shouldn’t eat it. If I do eat it, it would not be from faith. And everything I do that does not come from faith is sin!

Chapter 15

If I consider my faith to be strong, I am to bear with the failings of the weak, not just please myself. I am to please others for their good and to build them up. For even Christ did not please Himself. As it is written in Psalm 69:9, “Those who insult you are also insulting Me.” Such things were written in the past to help me, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures I might have hope! 

Now may God, who gives this endurance and encouragement, grant me the ability to live in unity with my fellow Christ followers. Then we all can join together in one voice and from one heart in praising and giving glory to God, the Father of my Lord Jesus Christ! Therefore, I am to accept others just as Christ has accepted me in order to bring praise to God. For I am to remember that Christ became a servant to the Jews to show that God is true to the promises He made to their ancestors.

And Jesus also came so that the Gentiles too might glorify God for His mercy; as it is written in various Old Testament Scriptures:  ”Therefore I will give praise to You among the Gentiles, and I will sing to Your name.” And in another place it is written, “Rejoice O Gentiles, along with His people the Jews.” And yet again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles: praise Him, all you people of the earth.” And the prophet Isaiah said, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, and He will rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in Him.”  Paul then prays that the God of hope will fill me with all joy and peace as I trust in Him, so that I may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit!

Paul was fully convinced that his Roman brothers and sisters were full of goodness; complete in knowledge; and competent to teach others. He wrote quite boldly to them on some points, knowing that all they needed was a reminder from him. By God’s grace, Paul was a special minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God!  He did this so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable unto God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Therefore in Christ, Paul found reason for boasting regarding the things of God, as he did not want to boast about anything else but what Christ had accomplished through him. The Gentiles were brought to God through his words and the way he lived before them. Powerful signs and miracles were done through him by the power of Holy Spirit, so that from Jerusalem all the way to Illyricum he fully proclaimed the Good News of Christ! It was always his ambition to preach this Good News where the name of Christ had never been heard, rather than where a church had already been started by someone else. He followed the Scripture in Isaiah 52:15, “Those who have never been told about Him will see, and those who have not heard of Him will understand.” Because he had been preaching in these various places, he was often delayed in visiting the believers in Rome.

So now there was no longer any place for Paul to minister in those regions, so after all of the years of waiting, he could now go to Rome. He planned to go to Spain, and on the way he would first stop off in Rome. There, he would be able to enjoy their company, and the believers in Rome could help him to continue his journey. At this point, however, he was on his way to Jerusalem to serve the saints there. For the believers in Macedonia and Achaia, cities in Greece, had eagerly taken up an offering for the believers in Jerusalem who were going through financial difficulties.

The churches in Greece were pleased to help, as they were indebted to the believers in Jerusalem. For if the Gentiles shared in the spiritual blessings of the Jews, they owe it to the Jews to share their material blessings with them. As soon as Paul had delivered their contribution and completed this good deed of theirs, he was going to see the believers in Rome on his way to Spain. And he was sure that when he visited them, he would bring to them the full measure of the blessings of Christ.

Paul now urges the Roman believers in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to join him in his struggles by praying to God for him. To pray that Paul would be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that the saints in Jerusalem would accept the donations he was bringing. Then God willing, Paul could come to them with joy, and they could both be an encouragement to each other. May the God of peace be with all of us. Amen!

Chapter 16

Paul goes on to commend Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchrea, to those at Rome. He asked them to receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints and to give her in anything she might need. For she had been a very great help to many people, including Paul himself. Paul then asks them to greet the following people: Priscilla and Aquila, who were his fellow workers in the ministry of Christ. They even risked their lives for Paul, and not only was he thankful for them, so were all the Gentile churches! Greet also the church that meets in their home. Paul asked them to greet his dear friend Epenetus, who was the very first person to believe in Christ in the province of Asia and to greet Mary, who had worked hard for them.

Greet Andronicus and Junias, Paul’s relatives, who had been in prison with him. They were respected among the apostles and became believers in Christ before Paul did. Greet Urbanus, their fellow worker in Christ and also Paul’s good friend Stachys. Greet Apelles, tested and approved in Christ, and greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. Greet Heroduon, another of Paul’s relatives, and those believers who are in the household of Narcissus. Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who are women who work hard in the Lord. And greet my dear friend, Persis, another woman who had worked very hard in the Lord.

Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his Mother, who has been like a Mother to me as well. And greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brothers and sisters who are with them. Also, send my greetings to Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send you their greetings! And now Paul urges me to watch out for those who cause divisions and are offensive in ways that are contrary to the teachings I have learned.

For divisive people are not serving the Lord Jesus Christ; they are serving their own personal interests. By their smooth talk and flattery, they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone had heard of the obedience of the believers in Rome, and Paul was full of joy over them. But I am to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil!

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under our feet, and the grace of our Lord Jesus is to be with me! Others now send their greetings – Timothy, Paul’s fellow worker, sends them, as do Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, Paul’s relatives. Tertius, who was the one writing this letter, also sends his greetings in the Lord. Gaius, whose house is where Paul and the whole church meets, also sends his greetings. Erastus, who is the city treasurer, and Paul’s brother Quartus send their greetings as well.

Now unto Him who is able to establish me by Paul’s gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now has been revealed as the prophets wrote by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey Him – to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen!

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