The Epistle to the Romans
Unfortunately, Romans is placed in Bibles as the first of Paul's epistles primarily for its length, although it was his 5th or 6th epistle, written between 55-57 AD. Considered by many to be the crown jewel of the New Testament, it shows how quickly Paul's revelation of justification had coalesced into its final written form, and the epistle became the cornerstone of Christian thought as the faith made its final divorce from the Jewish understanding of the Scriptures, righteousness, and justification.
Just how the Roman church came into existence is a complete mystery. The best guess made by scholars is that some Roman Jews who were in Jerusalem during the events of Acts 2 converted and returned home--probably with one or two unknown elders--to spread word that the Messiah had come. The church quickly flourished, incorporating both Jews and Gentiles into it until violence flared up between Christian and Orthodox Jews in the time of Claudius, resulting in the Jews being expelled from Rome for a time (49 AD). By the time of this epistle, some Jews had apparently returned to Rome, for the letter clearly is written to both Jew and Gentile.
Many miss the fact that this epistle was brought to Rome by Phoebe (16:1-2). In doing so, she would have read the document to the church there, speaking in a tone that conveyed Paul's overall emotions as he wrote the letter. (This was a custom of the time.) She would also have explained--i.e., taught--any passages that needed further clarification.
This would certainly call into question the claim of some that Paul forbade women to teach men under any circumstances. (He was actually referring to wives and husbands, as we'll see in our study.)
Finally, I recommend reading Galatians and Romans together since parts are closely related.
1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle1, separated unto the gospel of God,
2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)
3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
4 And declared to be the Son of God2 with power, according to the spirit of holiness3, by the resurrection from the dead:4
5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:
7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit5 in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;
10 Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.
11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift6, to the end ye may be established;
12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
13 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 Gentiles7.
14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians8; both to the wise, and to the unwise.
15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.9
17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith10: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;11
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.12
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;13
29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection,14 implacable, unmerciful:
32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
1-4 Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ, who has been called to be an apostle, and separated to proclaim the "Good News" of God, which He had promised in earlier times by His prophets in the Holy Scriptures concerning His son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was incarnated and descended, humanly speaking, from King David, and also declared to be Son of God with power through the Holy Spirit in being resurrected from the dead!
5-6 Through Christ, we have been given the grace to carry out our apostolic commission: To reach out to all nations in Christ's name with the goal of bringing them to the obedience both to and from faith--including you, who are among those called to belong to Jesus Christ.
7 To all in Rome, beloved of God, and called to be righteous: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
8 First, I would like to say that I thank my God through Jesus Christ because of your faith, which is spoken of throughout the whole world.
9-10 For God, whom I minister before with all the zeal in my innermost being in proclaiming the Gospel of His son, is my witness that I never cease to make mention of you in my prayers, requesting that it be in His will for circumstances to work out just right so that I might have the opportunity to travel there.
11 For I long to see you, that I may impart some gift from the Holy Spirit to help more fully establish you (in Christ),
12 So that we may both be comforted together by our mutual faith.
13 However, brethren, I would not have you unaware that while I had often planned to come visit you so that I could have some fruit among you in Rome as I have in other nations, I found it necessary to delay.
14 For I am indebted to reach both the civilized and uncivilized worlds, the educated and uneducated.
15 So, with all the passion I have in me, I cant wait to come preach the Gospel to you in Rome also (as soon as time permits)!
16 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. It is the very power of God that grants salvation for everyone who believes it--to the Jew first, but also the Gentile.
17 For within the Gospel of Christ, the righteousness of God is manifested, start to finish by faith (--and only by faith--) for it is written: The just man shall (escape judgment, and) live by faith.
18-19 For the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness on the part of men who actually know, yet suppress the truth of God by supplanting it with unrighteousness--for the truth of God is actually manifested deep down inside of them by what He has shown them (on the outside).
20 For the fact that there is an invisible realm with a God behind it has been made plain from the beginning of time by virtue of the visible universe we can see with our own eyes. The things in the visible universe display His eternal power and godhood over all things, so unbelievers are considered by Him to be without any excuse whatever!
21 You see, there was a time when all men knew God, but they refused to glorify Him as the true God, and also were unthankful. Then they became caught up in their own philosophies and ideas, causing their foolish hearts to descend into the darkness of spiritual deception.
22-23 Thinking themselves to be intelligent, they actually became fools, transforming the glory of a perfect, unchanging God into a carved statue made in their own corrupt image (reflecting their own human philosophies and ideas). Others changed God's true form and nature into that of some sort of bird, four-footed beast, or creeping reptile.
24 For this reason, God (withdrew the convicting power of His Spirit in the human conscience, and) let them go all the way in the growing, unclean urges of their deceived hearts that were turning from Him, even allowing them to yearn for, and yield themselves up to, (homosexual) defilement with their bodies between each other.
25 Such was the fate of those who turned the truth of God into their own lies, thus worshipping and serving the creation more than the Creator who is blessed forever more. Amen.
26 This is why God allowed them to eat the full fruit of what is in man's unregenerate heart by permitting them (without the hindrance of conscience) to give in to perverted sexual desires--for even their women burned with sexual lust for one another, twisting one hundred and eighty degrees what God had
27-29 In the same way, the men--leaving the natural use of the woman--burned with lust for one another, so they did that which is improper, receiving in return the full recompense for their error, which was unavoidable. For even as they did not like to retain God (and His truth) in their knowledge, God thus gave them over to a polluted mind to justify and even take pride in things like: Unrighteousness, sexual sin, wickedness, greed, envy, murder, arguing, deceit, malice, and gossip.
30-31 They became backbiters, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boasters, inventors of new ways to commit evil, disobedient to their parents, unteachable, oath-breakers, lacking love for even their own families, stubborn, and unmerciful.
32 Even though they knew (deep down) that in Gods view those who do such things are deserving of death, they not only went ahead and did them, but they even approved of others doing likewise.
1. The word apostle in Greek originally referred to someone who undertook a military or commercial expedition on behalf of someone else. In Hebrew, the word was used to refer to someone who was sent out with a message either from God or the religious authorities.
2. Son of God, as stated elsewhere, is a synonym for the Messiah, or King of Israel, and not always a reference to the virgin birth or Trinity.
3. There has long been a debate as to whether the term Spirit of holiness refers to the Holy Spirit or Jesus own spirit. It may be a reference to Jesus, and Paul was making a statement about Christs righteousness, pointing out that even His own spirit, unlike ours, was the essence of purity and Deity. In the paraphrase, however, I take the view it refers to the Holy Spirit because the text flows more naturally with that understanding.
4. The fact God resurrected Jesus from the dead was, in and of itself, a sign that He had Gods approval.
5. Pauls reference to his spirit comes from the fact that, in Hellenic thought, mans spirit was believed to be the highest and deepest part of himself.
6. Not referring to so-called Spiritual Gifts mentioned in 1 Cor. 12, but more of an impartation of encouragement and spiritual blessing of fellowship, testimony, and instruction.
7. Absolutely should be translated as: Nations, as it is in verse 5, not Gentiles!
8. Greeks and Barbarians refers to the civilized and uncivilized world.
9. Should be understood as: To the Jew first, but also the Gentile.
10. The term faith to faith has always been a bit confusing. Paul may be using an idiom to refer to the oracles of God being revealed to men of faith from Abraham onward. That, or he means something like: From start to finish, by faith.
11. To hold the truth in unrighteousness means to ultimately know the truth, but pervert it. An example, appropriate to the topic discussed in this section, would be theologians who attempt to prove Pauls denunciation of homosexuality actually referred only to male temple prostitution.
12. This reference to animals will be shown in the next few verses to be speaking of making idolatrous images.
13. The whole section here has been talking about the departure from God by humanity over the ages, culminated by idolatrous worship of imaginary gods as a means of justifying debased human passions. In Judaism, there is a notion that one of the natural penalties for sin is to commit yet another sin. The text here is thus saying that God permitted the unrighteous to continue on in their sinful practices by withdrawing His presence and conviction, allowing the sins they pursued to turn them into their own image.
14. Without natural affection is not a reference to homosexuality, but is a translation of a word indicating lack of the sort of love one should have for his own family.
1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.1
2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.)2
14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)3
16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
17 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,
18 And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;
19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,
20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.
21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?4
22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege5?
23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you.
25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.
26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?
27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?6
28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.7
1 Therefore, O man, you who do the same things, yet judge yourself better than the next man, are without excuse, and only condemning yourself (out of your own mouth).
2 We are sure that the God will justly punish everyone who does those sorts of things (whether in or out of the church).
3 Do you really think that you, O man, who condemns others for the same things you do (in secret), will escape the judgment of God?
4 Or do you scorn the riches of His goodness and long-suffering patience toward you, not realizing that the goodness of God (in withholding judgment against you) is actually beckoning you to repentance?
5-6 Your hard and unrepentant heart is ultimately storing up for you a measure of Gods wrath that will be revealed on the Day of Wrath, when the righteous judgment of God will be let loose, and every man will experience judgment based on what he has done.
7 Those who have patiently pursued doing good will find glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life.
8-9 But those who have been contentious and did not obey the truth, but instead chose to follow the path of unrighteousness, will find indignation and wrath, and tribulation and anguish. This will fall upon all who do evil--the Jew first, but also the Gentile.
10 But every man who does good shall receive glory, honor, and peace--the Jew first, but also the Gentile.
11-13 For God shows no partiality, and as many who have committed sin outside of the Torah will also perish outside of the Torah; while as many who have known the Torah and yet sinned will be judged by the Torah--for it is not the hearers of the Torah who will be in right standing with God, but those who hear it, and do what the Torah said to do.
14 So when the Gentiles, who do not know the Torah, do by nature what the Torah teaches, these Gentiles--though they dont have or know the written Torah--show by their conscience that they understand the heart of what the Torah teaches.
15-16 You see, they show the presence of the universal precepts of the Torah in their hearts, and their consciences will either condemn or console them on Judgment Day, when God shall judge the secret parts of mens lives through Jesus Christ, as the Gospel I teach illustrates.
17-18 Look--you might be called a Jew, and boast of your security in God from the fact you have been taught the Torah, know His will, and can discern the essential points of right and wrong the Torah teaches.
19 You may be confident that your knowledge makes you a guide to the blind, and permits you to shine as a light to those who walk in darkness.
20 You may believe, because you have the knowledge and truth in the Torah, that you are qualified to teach the foolish, and the new converts.
21 But do you, who teach others, learn from your own teachings? If you preach that a man should not steal, do you steal (and somehow justify it)?
22 You, who say that a man should not commit adultery--do you commit adultery (and somehow justify it)? Do you, who abhor idols of false gods, rob sanctuaries?
23 Do you, who boast of your knowledge of the Torah, dishonor God by your breaking of that Torah?
24 For you (who behave like this) are an example of what the Scriptures say: The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you.
25 You see, circumcision is profitable if you actually keep the Torah. But if you are a transgressor of the Torah, your circumcision is the same as uncircumcision. (In other words, your circumcision will not keep you in covenant with God if you walk in sin.)
26 Therefore, if a physically uncircumcised Gentile upholds the righteousness that the Torah teaches, wont that be counted as if he were physically circumcised?
27 So if someone, though uncircumcised by background, keeps the morality of the Torah--wont he pass judgment upon you who, despite having circumcision and (knowledge of) the written Torah, transgress it?
28 For a Jew is not what a man looks like on the outside; neither is true circumcision that which pertains to an operation on the flesh.
29 But he is a Jew, who is one on the inside; and true circumcision is that of the heart performed by the Spirit, rather than one who has simply had an operation on the flesh to uphold the letter of the Torah. Such a Jew, whose heart is circumcised, is the one whose praise is not of men, but of God.
1. This is a badly rendered verse, for it is translated in such a way that it sounds like a person who criticizes someone for sin is treated by God as if he committed that sin himself even if he did not. But it actually refers to those who were literally committing the same sin, while they criticized others for the identical thing. (See verses 3 and 4.)
2. In the past verses, Paul has been showing that the moral precepts of the Torah were actually its heart and soul, and that righteous men (in a temporal sense) have the same things in common in their behavior just as unrighteous men do--irrespective of whether or not they are familiar with Mosaic Law. Also, both he and James exhort people to be doers, and not just hearers of the Word, which harkens back to many Old Testament verses, among them Deut. 6:3. Paul is not, however, making a theological point that a man in the New covenant is declared righteous by keeping commandments of any sort since no man but Christ ever achieved justification by obedience, and all generations prior to Him utterly failed to keep God's Law to His standards (Malachai 3:7).
3. Paul now confirms that the true Torah--its moral precepts--have always existed in the heart of mankind, for no Gentile, in and of himself, ever concluded independently it was righteous to not trim the corners of ones beard...to not wear clothes of two different materials...to not kindle a fire on the Sabbath. But all men intrinsically know it is wrong to steal, murder, cause harm, commit adultery, and so on. Thus, the conscience of every person, having been placed there by God, lets man know in his heart when he is doing right or wrong, and so Jew and Gentile--with Torah or without Torah--all know they are guilty of sin even if they are otherwise good people. All men thus face punishment for those sins, and all that remains from that point is how to be reconciled to God. But he also has shown that this conscience can be seared and rendered dead throiugh unrepentant sin (Rom. 1:26).
4. Paul here may be criticizing some Jewish trains of thought that would have held that an Israelite must treat his fellow Jews righteously, but Gentiles are outside the covenant, and so stealing from them is not forbidden by the Torah. It actually required a ruling from Gamaliel to formally make it a sin to steal from Gentiles. (Source: Dr. Reuven Hammer, Jewish Theological Seminary.)
5. Possibly a reference to Jews who were accused of despoiling idolatrous temples--who may have pocketed some of their valuables for themselves in the process. Otherwise, Paul may be pointing out that the Jews correctly renounce idolatry, but many of them hypocritically get around their obligations to God through the ordinances of their sages (Matt. 15:3).
6. This verse could be paraphrased as: Therefore, if a physically uncircumcised Gentile upholds the righteousness that the Torah teaches, wont that be counted as if he were physically circumcised?
7. One could, and should, substitute the word Christian for Jew in this and the previous verse!
1 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?
2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles1 of God.
3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief2 make the faith of God without effect?
4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
5 But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)
6 God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?
7 For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?
8 And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.
9 What then? are we better than they?3 No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:
17 And the way of peace have they not known:
18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.4
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
21 But now the righteousness of God without5 the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.6
1 Well, then--what advantage is there in being a Jew? Or what good is there in being circumcised?
2. There is actually quite a bit. It was to the Jews that the Scriptures and revelations of God were given.
3 And what if some (of the Jews) were unfaithful? Shall their unfaithfulness cancel out Gods faithfulness?
4 God forbid, no! Let God be absolutely true even if everyone is a liar. As it is written: That thou (God) mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
5 But if our unrighteousness helps, by contrast, to show how righteous God actually is--shall we say that God Himself is being unfair if He sends His retribution upon us for our unrighteousness? Im looking at this the way some man might think.
6 God forbid, no--for how then could God send judgment upon the world (for sin, which He indeed does, and shall do)?
7 (Some might say:) If Gods truth is shown more clearly by my lie, and thereby brings God glory, why would He send judgment upon me for being a sinner?
8 If such a ridiculous statement were true, then--as some whose damnation is warranted claim we teach--we may as well go on and say: Lets do evil, because good will ultimately come out of it!
9 So--am I saying we Jews are better than the Gentiles? No, not at all, for we have already proven that both Jews and Gentiles are equally condemned as sinners.
10 As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one:
11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together
become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:
17 And the way of peace have they not known:
18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
19 Now we know that the (curses, warnings against sin, and other points contained within the Torah) were meant for those who were given the Torah, and were expected to be under it! (Why?) So that no one can boast, and that all the world can know mankind is ultimately guilty before God (--even those who have the Torah, and thus have absolute knowledge of what sin is).
20 Therefore, by the deeds of the Torah (--either the abstaining from sin, or the performance of positive commandments and righteous deeds--) no human shall ever be placed in right standing with God, for the purpose of the Torah is to impart the knowledge of sin (leaving men accountable when they see their inability to truly keep the Torah).
21-22 But now the righteousness of God outside of the Torah has been revealed, even though it was actually attested to by the Scriptures and the prophets (in the Torah): the righteousness founded on faith in Jesus Christ, which comes to all, and rests upon all who believe, for all are treated equally.
23-26 You see, all have sinned, and come short of the perfection of God. Even so, they are placed in right standing with God freely--by His graciousness--through the redemption that comes through Christ Jesus, the agent God sent to take away the penalty for our sins through faith in his blood. Gods strategy in this has finally been revealed in our time, so we now understand how God was actually righteous in withholding the deserved penalty for mans sins in the past (and letting the punishment for those sins fall upon Christ instead), thus explaining how He can remain unwavering in His own perfect righteousness when placing in right standing an otherwise condemned sinner who believes in Jesus!
27 With that understanding, where is our right to boast (about what we have done or can do to be accepted by God)? There is none. That being the case, then by what law is our right to boast excluded? Is it by the Torah, which is based on works (of deeds and obedience, and not faith)? No, not at all. It is by the law of faith.
28 Thus, we conclude that a man is placed in right standing with God through faith, totally independent of anything he does under Mosaic Law.
29-30 Since thats so, can we still hold the view that God is the God only of the Jews (and those physically descended from Abraham)? By extension of our conclusions, is He not equally the God of the Gentiles (who must likewise come to Him as do the Jews--through faith)? Yes--on that basis, He must be the God of the Gentiles also, seeing it is the same God who shall place in right standing both the circumcised man and the uncircumcised man through faith (independent of anything else).
31 But do we void out the guidelines and warnings of the Torah about sin through our faith? God forbid! Rather, through faith, we actually set right what the Torah tries, yet fails to do despite its threats of judgment for sin: Make men truly righteous before God!
31 (Alternate reading): But do make void the Torah in the sense of now having a license to sin because we've come to faith? God forbid! Rather, we actually stand on what the Torah teaches--the need to come to faith to achieve true righteousness before God!
1. Referring to the Scriptures and prophecies contained in them.
2. This verse is better understood as: For what if some (of the Jews) were unfaithful? Shall their unfaithfulness cancel out Gods faithfulness?
3. They are the Gentiles who do not know God, nor follow Torah.
4. Better paraphrased as: Now we know that the curses and warnings against sin contained within the Torah were meant for those who were given it and were expected to keep it! Why? So that no one can boast, and that all the world can know mankind is ultimately guilty before God--even those who have the Torah, and thus have absolute knowledge of what sin is!
5. Without should be translated: Outside of.
6. In this final verse, Paul condenses about a paragraphs worth of theological teaching into just two sentences, which results in our missing the depth of what he is saying! This is because the sentences, in and of themselves, seem to convey a simple message: that we do not negate the Torah because of faith in Christ, but rather through faith in Him we establish it.
That sounds fine, but what does that actually mean? Theologians then go on to try to explain Pauls words.
First, some modern day Judaisers claim that Paul is saying that coming to faith in Christ then enables Jew and Gentile to keep all of Mosaic Law in the proper way through the power of the Holy Spirit, which, though it sounds nice, advances the notion that Paul is saying everyone must thus keep Mosaic Law. That, of course, is a distorted and heretical assumption.
More orthodox Christians speculate that Paul is saying that through faith we put the Law on its proper footing; or that he is making some generalized statement about the true Law being the Law of faith--a fact illustrated in the Old Testament example with Abraham he goes on to cite, which redeems and remakes us into the image of Christ.
The debate centers on the word histemi, translated in the KJV as establish. Histemi is a term for business, and relates to weighing something out in a set of balance scales. Paul typically uses it to mean stand upon or take our stand on something firm. But because of the KJVs choice to render it as establish, this had led to a misunderstanding of the verse by a wide variety of people, especially the cultists. The cultist and false teacher, coming to God through the eyes of Law, perceives this as saying: Aha! Now that we've come to faith in Christ, we must now go keep Gods holy Law!
Now that we've come to faith in Christ, God enables us to keep His holy Law in a manner that we can meet His standards of obedience to assure we make heaven!
These errors spring from reading one verse at a time--because they're numbered--and isolating each verse individually, trying to understand them on an individual basis rather than as a whole, which is how the document is actually written.
But what Paul has actually done here is to sum up his initial points about sin, righteousness, and God's judgment against sin, be one a Jew who knows the Law or a Gentile who does not. His point is not to say that people who come to faith in Christ then go out and perfect their walk by keeping the Law (Gal. 3:3); he is actually saying:
1. That you don't make void the Law's warnings against sin simply because you have come to faith, so sin is not allowed (see chapters 1 and 2).
2. That the Law shows our inability to achieve righteousness in Gods eyes, and leads us to Christ for justification.
3. That through faith in Christ, we accomplish without the Law what the law could not do because it was weak through the flesh, that being to truly make us righteous in God's eyes, something that neither it nor man can ever do (see the point of chapter 3, particularly verses 21 and 22).
So when Paul ends the chapter by supposedly saying we establish the law by faith, in no way, shape, or form is he saying keep the torah, or keep the 10 Commandments, nor is he making reference to keeping any law as any part of the righteousness he declares is of faith alone--yet God forbid one use this utter freedom from keeping a law as a license to sin!
But the child of the flesh will never get this, and will always see Paul as saying, We have come to faith, so we must now go keep (this law or that) or be lost!
Or, said another way: Get saved by grace/stay saved by Law.
1 What shall we1 say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.
10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:
12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.
13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.2
14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:3
15 Because the law worketh wrath:4 for where no law is, there is no transgression.
16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations5,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb:
20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
1 What can we Jews learn from Abraham--our father, physically speaking--about these revelations?
2 If Abraham was somehow placed in right standing with God on account of something he did, then he obviously had something to boast about. But from Gods view, it was not on the basis of Abrahams deeds (that he was placed in a position of right standing).
3 For what did the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
4 Now to the man who works, his reward is not given out of goodness, but is earned by what the man has done. (In other words, he is entitled to payment for his service.)
5-8 But to the man who does not work for [and earn] reward, but instead believes on Him who places the ungodly in a position of right standing, his faith is likewise credited as righteousness, even as David illustrated this concept when he wrote in the Psalms about the blessedness of the man upon whom God bestows righteousness independent of his own deeds: Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
9 (So, with this concept in mind,) does this blessing of imputed righteousness come only upon those who are circumcised, or does it come upon uncircumcised men as well? Remember, we have shown that faith (--and not circumcision and Torah observance--) was the basis upon which Abraham was reckoned to be righteous by God.
10 And when did this reckoning by God occur? After Abraham was circumcised? Or before? The answer is: before!
11-12 And he received the sign of circumcision as a stamp of acknowledgment and approval on the righteousness he already had when he was uncircumcised. It was done that way so that Abraham could be appointed both the father of all those with faith--even if they are uncircumcised--so that they could be credited with the same righteousness he had, while at the same time he would also be the father of circumcision to all those who are physically circumcised, but yet follow in the footsteps of faith that he, himself, had when he was still uncircumcised.
13 For the promise that Abraham would inherit the earth was not made to him or his seed through the Torah (which came much later), but was made on the basis of the righteousness obtained through faith.
14 And if those who are his heirs inherit through the Torah, then faith is rendered void, and the promise made to Abraham is nullified.
15 This is unavoidable, because the Torah can only place men in the position to inherit Gods wrath (due to mans imperfection). Thus, only where there is no binding Torah to be observed in the first place can there be no transgressions of it.
16-17 Therefore, the promise is received through faith that it might be given through grace, so that all the heirs can be certain of obtaining the inheritance--and not just those heirs who know the Torah, but also those outside of it with faith like Abraham, who is father to us all because he, himself, believed God, who gives life to the dead and declares things which are not seen yet as if they were already here. That is why the Scripture says about him: I have made thee a father of many nations.
18 Thus, Abraham believed against all hope that he would become the father of many nations based on what God had said: (As the stars in the sky,) so shall thy seed be.
19 Not being the sort of man with weak, superficial faith, he ignored the fact that his body was now impotent--since he was about a hundred years old--and he did not consider the fact that Sarah had gone through menopause.
20-21 Abraham did not weaken his faith by debating in his mind whether or how what God had promised would happen, but through faith he became strong, gave glory to God, and believed, being fully persuaded that God was able to do what He had promised to do.
22 This belief was thus, imputed to him for righteousness.
23 Now the words, it was imputed to him were not meant only for Abraham.
24-25 But that was also written to and about us, who will receive the same imputed righteousness if we believe on (God) who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was given over to death for our offenses, and then raised again for our justification!
1. Clear evidence Paul is talking not just to Gentiles, but also to Jews.
2. Paul has spent the last few verses clearly outlining that the first righteous man with whom God made an everlasting covenant was Abraham, who obtained that covenant not because he was willing to embrace and follow Torah, but because he was willing to believe and follow a God who asked nothing more of him than to believe His promise. Abrahams act of circumcision was merely a physical memorial to the covenant he had already accepted. Thus, because Abraham was both uncircumcised and non-Torah-observant when God first deemed him righteous, Paul makes the point that an uncircumcised, non-observant Gentile is equally as qualified as Abraham to be deemed righteous if he does what Abraham did: Believe what God had promised.
3. Paul now turns his attention to overturning the presumption that the promises made in Mosaic Law equated with the promises made to Abraham outside of the Torah, for if righteousness and the promises of God come through obeying a list of commandments, then the promise God made to Abraham would be canceled out since he obtained them outside of Mosaic Law, and so did not deserve them through obeying the Torah.
4. By saying the Law worketh wrath, Paul continues the point he summed up in the last verse of chapter 3--that the Torah, because of its built-in punishments for transgressions, can:
Never make men holy.
Never reconcile men fully to God because of mans inability to fully keep it.
Never result in the promise to Abraham being fulfilled as a reward solely on the basis of keeping Torah, because even the most pious man will constantly face some level of Gods wrath because of his shortcomings; and the promise cannot be manifested until a man is fully in Gods favor--which cannot happen outside of justification through faith, and the accompanying impartation of a greater righteousness than a man can obtain on his own.
5. This was one of Pauls chief revelations: That Abraham was father not to those physically descended from him, nor to those who entered into the Mosaic covenant, but to those from many nations who would follow his example of simply believing. Also, note that the author has restructured the two verses to read more clearly. A more precise paraphrase would be: Therefore, the promise of inheritance is received through faith, that it might be given through grace, so that the heirs can be certain of obtaining the inheritance--and those heirs are not just those who know the Torah, but also those outside the Torah with faith like Abraham, who is father to us all, as the Scripture says: I have made thee a father of many nations--and this because Abraham believed God, who gives life to the dead, and declares things which are not seen yet as if they were already here.
1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace1 with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:2
13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.)
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.
18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.3
20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:4
21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Therefore, being placed in a state of right standing with God through our faith, we have obtained peace with God (and averted our justly-deserved punishment) through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 By whom we also--again through faith--have access to the grace by which we stand and rejoice in confidence of someday knowing Gods glory.
3 Not only do we look forward to that, but while we wait, we shout for joy in the trials we endure, understanding that those trials help develop our persistence.
4 Persistence, meanwhile, molds character, and character develops confidence.
5 And our confidence is not for nothing, because the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us, has poured out Gods love in our hearts.
6 For when we all were still powerless (and trapped in our sins), at the precise time God appointed, Christ died on behalf of the ungodly.
7 Its hard enough to find someone willing to lay his life down for a righteous man, though its possible that someone would be willing to die for a good man.
8 But God displayed His love for us in that Christ died for all of us while we were still sinners!
9 And now that we are placed in right standing with God through Christs blood, we will much more be protected from Gods coming wrath through Christ.
10 For if, when we were still in the position of being enemies of God, we were reconciled to God by His sons death, now that we are in that state of reconciliation, we shall be saved (from wrath) by the fact that Christ is alive.
11 Not only do we enjoy this benefit, but we can also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the agent of our atonement.
12 Thus, as sin entered the world, bringing death with it because of one man (--Adam--) so death is the natural inheritance of all men descended from him, for all have sinned.
13 For until the Torah came, there was indeed sin in the world. However, sin is not credited to mans account where there is no Torah.
14 Even so, death ruled from Adam down to Moses, even over those who had not committed the same sort of transgression as Adam, who prefigured (Christ) who was to come.
15 But there is no comparison between what Adam passed down to his descendants, and the free gift (that Christ bequeaths to us). For if death came to many through one mans sin, look how much greater the effect of Gods grace has had, coming to so many--in such abundance--through one man, Jesus Christ.
16 There is also no comparison between the free gift and the offense of the one man. For judgment, resulting in condemnation, came through the one man, but the free gift (from the other man) restored right standing despite the many offenses.
17 For if--by and through one man's sin of offence--death reigned as king, much more shall they who receive the abundance of Gods grace, and the gift of righteousness, have life reign in them through another man (and his righteousness), Jesus Christ!
18 And therefore, as by the sin of one man, judgment to condemnation came to all men, even so by the righteousness of one man--Jesus Christ--the free gift of righteousness came upon all men, giving them right standing in Gods eyes, and life with that!
19 For as by one mans disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of another man shall many be made righteous.
20-21 Moreover, the Torah came in and amplified the point and problem (by defining sin and causing our sin nature to manifest itself more clearly). But where sin was in abundance, the abundance of Gods grace exploded by comparison, so that--as sin has reigned over mankind and resulted in death--even so, grace would eventually rule through righteousness and lead to eternal life through another man, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1. Paul does not mean saved people feel like theyre forgiven; the peace he refers to is Gods being placated, and our averting His wrath through the atonement of Christ.
2. Paul is now going to deal with the issue that even though God did not necessarily hold man fully accountable for sin before the Torah had been given to define what sin was, man was still guilty, and paid the price of death for his transgressions.
3. This is the foundation of the Pauline doctrine of justification: That Christ passed down to us the benefits of righteousness and eternal life just as Adam passed down to his descendants the nature of sin and the wages of death.
4. Verses 20 and 21 go together, and could be paraphrased like this: Moreover, the Torah was given to define sin and cause our sin nature to manifest itself more clearly. (See 1 Cor 15:56.) But where sin was in abundance, Gods grace was in greater abundance, so that--as sin has reigned over mankind and resulted in death--even so, grace would eventually rule through righteousness and lead to eternal life through another man, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?1
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.2
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.3
15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.4
22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 So what should we conclude then--that we should feel free to commit sin so that Gods grace can abound toward us?
2 God forbid! How shall we we, who are dead to sin, live in sin any longer?
3 Do you not realize that the many of us, who were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore, we were buried with him through baptism, representing his death, that we should arise to walk in newness of life just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father.
5 For if we have been grafted together with him and experienced his death, we shall also likewise experience resurrection as he did,
6 Knowing that our old man has been crucified with him in order that our body of sin may be destroyed (along with its propensity to sin), so we might thereafter be freed from serving sin.
7 For he who is dead is freed from sin.
8 Now if we are dead with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him one day,
9 Knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, can no longer die, for death has no power or authority over him.
10 For having undergone physical death one time to deal with sin, he has triumphed over it and now, being alive, he (forever) lives in, with, and to God.
11 In the same way then, consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
12 Therefore, dont let your sin nature rule over your mortal body and drive you to obey its desires.
13 Neither should you yield any part of your body as a tool of unrighteousness, giving into sin--but yield your will to God as someone who is alive from the dead should; and yield every part of your body to be a tool of righteousness to God.
14 For sin shall no longer have control over you, seeing you are not under the Torah (and thus trapped in a cycle of sin), but under (the liberation of) Gods grace.
15 But does the fact we are no longer under the Torah, but under grace, mean that we are now permitted to go ahead and commit sinful acts that the Torah said were morally wrong? God forbid!
16 Dont you know that you become the slave of whatever master you give yourself over to listen to, whether it be sin leading to and ending in death, or obedience leading to and ending in righteousness?
17 But thank God that while you were once the slaves of sin, you ended that when you obeyed from the heart, and conformed yourselves to the doctrine delivered to you.
18 And being freed from the clutches of sin, you became the (willing) slaves of righteousness.
19 I am using human terms (about slaves serving a master) so you can understand me more easily. My point is that as you formerly yielded your bodies to uncleanness, participating in increasingly debase willful transgression after willful transgression--in like manner, you should now yield your body parts to ever-increasing righteousness leading to holiness.
20 For when you were the slaves of sin, you didnt concern yourself with righteousness.
21 What good fruit was there in any of the things you once did that you are now ashamed of? Those things can only lead to death.
22 But now that you have been made free from sin (and its domination over you), and become servants to God, you now have fruit of the choice you made which leads to holiness, and in the end everlasting life.
23 For the final reward for sinning is death, while Gods free gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
1. Then and now, this has been the stumbling block many have encountered in Pauls teachings: mistaking the eagerness of God to forgive, the power of Christs atonement, and the security of the believer as the basis for being any less stringent in fleeing from sin than the Pharisee who believes he is saved by his own righteousness.
2. There is a whole lot of meat in these verses. Pauls underlying point is that through faith in Messiah and the baptism that confirms us in the faith, we depart from sinful humanity into a state of righteousness before God. How then, he asks, can we walk as though we were yet sinners, living by the dictates of our own flesh? How indeed? Yet all too often, we do!
Beyond this, there is a crucial point in this regarding why the believer is freed from observing Mosaic Law: Even Judaism holds that a dead man is not required to keep the Torah. Paul here may have used Christian baptism as one justification for relieving the Gentiles from the requirement of Torah observance as he alludes to in verse 15. Some, however, view his words as only teaching that it is through grace that we are freed from achieving justification by keeping the Law.
3. Before Christ, even the most righteous man still had an unregenerate spirit. He spent his whole life in a fallen state doing his human best to serve God, while guided by little more than his own conscience. After the Torah was given and sin had been carefully mapped out, far more was required of him to follow God than he had to do before. His fallen nature now began to rebel in ways it did not before, now that it was less free to live by its own dictates. Thus, men now came under the bondage of trying to obey God with their flesh either fighting them every step of the way, or else maneuvering them to a point of self-deception in thinking they had achieved true righteousness through their own discipline and self-control. All the while, mans spirit had yet to be reconciled to God, despite His forbearance regarding sins.
After Messiah, mans spirit had the opportunity to be regenerated into a state of purity and righteousness. From that point, his eternal essence achieved its full justification with God only through Gods grace and Christs sacrifice. Once that had occurred, the Torah became moot in the sense that all it could do was to give knowledge of sin, and regulate behavior. The man himself was saved completely outside of the Torah because of the sacrifice of Christ. And by Gods moving men beyond the limitations of the Torah through the element of grace, mans spirit, which was previously unregenerate and indistinguishable from his impure human nature, no longer was tied to his soulish fallen nature, thus averting the extra empowerment toward sin which it knew under the Law before Christ (1 Cor. 15:56).
4. Pauls never-ending problem with his converts was that he just could not get the majority of them to understand or believe they had passed from death to divine life, for they seemed to have a problem walking in the newness of life that had been implanted into their spirits. They were saved, but their stubborn immaturity resulted in their behaving carnally as they continued to walk in selfishness, lust, etc., while even looking for justification to continue in sin without losing their salvation!
Why, you ask? For the same reason most of the Israelites didnt enter the Promised Land. Their carnal minds just plain couldnt understand it, and thus wouldnt believe it, so they behaved as what their rational minds thought they were: Not the righteous of God, redeemed from the power of sin--but simply saved sinners. Had they believed otherwise, they would have focused on seeking God and spending time in fellowship with Him, secure in their relationship, and receiving as an outgrowth of that a more visible representation of Christ in their lives and personalities.
The same holds true today.
1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?1
2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.2
7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid.3 Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.4
8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.
11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.
12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.5
14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.6
16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
1 Brethren--and Im talking to the Jews who know the Torah--do you not know that the Torah has authority over a man for as long as he lives (but then its authority over him ends)?
2 For example, a Jewish wife is bound, under the Torah, to reserve herself only to her husband for as long as he is alive. But if that husband dies, she is freed from the responsibility of keeping the various commandments that apply to a married woman.
3 If she were to marry another man while her husband was still alive, for instance, she would be in a state of adultery. But if her husband has died and she becomes free from the obligations that the Torah imposes on her as a married woman, she can marry another man and not be an adulteress.
4 Therefore, my brethren, you have become dead, so far as the Torah is concerned, by the body of Christ (who was crucified and died for you to free you from the Torahs authority over you), so that, you could marry another husband: the same Jesus who was then raised from the dead, so that we can all bring forth fruit unto God.
5 For (before Christ freed us,) when we were still living in a fleshly, sinful manner, the sinful desires aroused and amplified within us through the power of the Torah impelled our flesh to commit sinful actions to bring forth fruit resulting in death.
6 But we have been delivered from (the power and authority of) the Torah, so that now we are considered dead through and to that which bound us. Thus, we can now serve with a whole new attitude: Not one born from slavish obedience to written commandments, but in the new life of the Spirit (with renewed minds that think an entirely different way).
7 But am I saying that the Torah is sinful? God forbid! For had it not been for the Torah, I would not have realized what sin was (or the depth of sin inside of me). I would never have known, for instance, my own sense of covetousness and greed had the Torah not said: Thou shalt not covet.
8 But the sin hiding inside of me (that I didnt even realize was there otherwise), awakened and came to life from the commandment, and awakened all sorts of impure covetousness in me. For without the Torah, sin is dormant inside of a person (though it is still there, hiding).
9 You see, I was once alive outside of the Torah. But when the commandment (not to covet) was made known to me, sin came to life against it (--empowering my covetous nature--) and thus I died.
10 And the commandment, which was made to teach me what life is, and to lead me to life, I found instead only led me into death.
11 For the sin inside of me tricked me by usurping the life meant for me by the commandment, and instead used that life to power its evil effects inside of me, which ultimately caused me to perform the will of sin--and this slew me.
12 And so I want you to know that the Torah itself is holy, and its commandments holy too, just as they are also just, and good.
13 But did the Torah, which is good, function as something created to kill me? (Or am I somehow denouncing the Torah?) God forbid, no! (Its me I am denouncing, while extolling the Torah!) You see, sin--so that it could be seen for what it is--used that which was a good thing to power its deadly effects and through the commandment cause what was inside of me to come to the surface to be seen so clearly I could not possibly mistake it!
14 For we know that the Torah is spiritual. But I am carnal, and sold to be the slave of sin.
15 I am reminded of this every time I inexplicably find myself unable to do what I know to be right, but instead doing what I hate and know to be wrong!
16 If then I keep doing what I know is wrong and dont want to do (no matter how much I hate it, and no matter how much my conscience convicts me,) I give my affirmation that the Torah itself is good (while I am the one who is bad).
17 But it is not the true Paul who commits sin, but the sin inside of Pauls flesh (that drives him to commit sin).
18 For I know that inside of my flesh there is nothing good whatsoever. For the desire to do good is in my mind, but my body fights me every step of the way, and I don't know how to do good in such a way that both my body and spirit are in full agreement with it.
19 For the good I would like to do, I all too often do not do, but the evil I don't want to do? Well, all too often I do that!
20 Now if I do precisely what I dont want to do, it is no longer the true Paul who does that, but the sin still living inside of Pauls flesh.
21 So I find that there is an unbreakable principle at work that when I would want to do good, there is a part of me that is still evil, which wants to oppose that and do something else.
22 For in the deepest parts of me, I delight in Gods Torah.
23 But I see an entirely opposite sort of Torah engrafted into the limbs of my flesh, at war with what I purpose in my mind to do, and it drags me into bondage to the law of sin that lives inside of my physical body.
24 O wretched man that I am! Who can deliver me from this dead body that I am chained to and unable to be freed from?
25 And so I thank God that He will through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then with my mind I serve the Torah of God, yet with my flesh I still serve the opposite Torah of sin.
1. This is a difficult verse. Some Messianics take the view that this affirms that all must keep Mosaic Law. Others, reading past the first verse to the fourth and sixth, understand Paul to instead be saying the opposite: That through Christ we are freed from the obligation of keeping the Law. However, Paul may actually be returning again to an exegesis of justification through faith, trying again to divorce the Jews in his audience from the notion that they better keep the Torah, and keep it well--or else. The husbands mentioned in verse 3 allegorically refers first to being bound to justification through Torah and obedience; and secondly, to justification through grace and faith.
2. Here, although we have confirmation that the Christian is freed from having to keep Mosaic Law to be accepted by God, Pauls main point is that we can now serve God without fear. In a sense, he is pointing out that the Jews, even though they kept the Law, were still condemned as sinners, so--through baptism--we now die with Christ (6:4) and are freed once and for all from the authority the Torah had over mankind, replacing it with the anointing of the Spirit which aids us to walk in newness of life, naturally fulfilling the morality of God, which is not conveyed merely by regulating behavior through a list of commandments.
3. Paul quickly interjects that his revelation about the Torah is not to be taken as condemning the Torah itself as somehow bad, or that by giving the Law, God somehow forced mankind into becoming sinners by formulating hosts of commandments no one would really like following, knowing all the while that those who even tried to keep them would ultimately fail. Paul instead goes on to reveal in verses 8-13 that the true purpose of the Torah was to clearly reveal the sin nature in humanity, along with humanitys inability to overcome it without divine aid.
4. This sentence is very interesting, for Paul reveals that, despite his fanatical observance of the Torah prior to his conversion, he had a major problem with covetousness that arose by Gods simply giving the command not to covet as a principle of life. Pauls rebellious fallen nature then took strength from the commandment and actually impelled him to do the very opposite of what the commandment tried to impart!
5. Here, in verse 13, Paul makes the very conclusion that the Law revealed the innate sinfulness of mankind by focusing in on humanitys natural inclination toward sin and actually strengthening it so that it could be seen more clearly.
6. How appropriate are Pauls words here, and how clearly they illustrate the battle many devout Christians undergo between serving sin and serving righteousness. The irony is, the closer one gets to God, and the more revelations he receives, the greater is the potential for the sin within his fallen nature to rise up and manifest itself! Why? Simply because the closer one gets to God, the closer to the presence of true righteousness he comes, and thereby the more his sin nature is empowered to rebel, just as the existence of the Torah did something similar with much less effect, and just as the presence of Christ brought out what was in the hearts of those He came into contact with (Luke 2:34-35). This is the very reason why the unregenerate can never enter into eternal life--the core being of an unsaved but good Jew, Hindu, Moslem, etc., as it beholds the presence of Gods absolute righteousness in eternity, will have his capacity for unrighteousness revealed and amplified to its full potential, akin to the way the redeemed become righteous as Christ is righteous merely by seeing Him as He is (1 John 3:2).
This fact is also one reason why its possible for a person who has had an abundance of experiences with God to fall so far on occasion.
This is also why Paul wanted to keep the Gentiles as far away from Torah observance as they could possibly get, for the more knowledge they had of the Torahs commandments, and the more they endeavored to keep them, the more the sin in them would rise up in opposition and actually keep them in bondage!
How does one guard against this? By striving without ceasing to walk in the power and anointing of the Spirit, using the power of the Holy Spirit to combat the flesh. Otherwise, the flesh will overcome the spirit of a man and bring about his downfall, barring intervention by God.
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.1
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.2
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.3
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.4
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.5 Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.6
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit7 do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.8
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,9
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities:11 for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.12
27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.12
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.13
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 Therefore, there is no longer any condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit).
1 (Alternate reading--Syrian): Therefore, there is no longer any condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (who, in the flesh, walk after the Spirit).
2 For the Torah of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has enabled me to become free from the written Torah and the unending sequence of sin and death (that it causes in me).
3 For what the Torah could not do, because its power was frustrated and perverted by the weakness of my own flesh, God--by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to deal with sin--condemned sin in the flesh,
4 So that the righteousness of the Torah might be fulfilled inside of us who walk not according to the flesh, but of the Spirit.
5 For they who are of the flesh concern themselves with the carnal longings of the flesh, but they who are of the Spirit concern themselves with the things of the Spirit.
6 You see, to be natural-minded is death, while to be spiritually-minded is life and peace.
7 For the natural mind is in opposition to God since it does not subject itself to the Torah of God, neither can it.
8 So then, they who are in the flesh (--that is, in an unregenerate state, as evidenced by their rebellious thinking and behavior--) cannot please God in any way.
9 But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if it so be that the Spirit of God lives inside of you. Now if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not one of Christs!
10 And if Christ be in you (through the Spirit), your physical body is dead as a result of sin, but your own spirit shall not die with it, but rather will live because of his righteousness.
11 So if the Spirit of God, who raised up Jesus from the dead, lives inside of you, He who raised up Christ from the dead shall also make your mortal bodies live again by His Spirit, who dwells in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are obligated not to the flesh, to live in the manner of the flesh.
13 For if you live after the manner of the flesh, you will truly die. But if you, through the (power of) the Holy Spirit, put to death the evil lusts of your body, you will find true life.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.
15 Remember you have not received the spirit of bondage (to mandatory Torah observance) once again so you can live in fear (over your sins); but you have received the Spirit of adoption that allows us to cry out the word Daddy! to God.
16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.
17 And if we are children, then we are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, assuming we suffer with him so that both he and us can be glorified together.
18 Thus, I reason that the sufferings of this present life are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us.
19 For the entire universe eagerly waits for the sons of God to be manifested.
20-21 The whole of creation, you see--against its will--was given over by God to perversion from what it was meant to be so that it would likewise have the same hope of deliverance from its present state, because the universe itself shall also be delivered from the bondage of its corruption into the same glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole universe groans and suffers in birth pains even up to now.
23 And not only that, but we also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inside of ourselves, waiting for the completion of our adoption, which is the redemption (and perfecting) of our body.
24 For we were saved in this hope. But a hope that is seen is not hope--for why would a man be in hope for something he can already see?
25 But if we hope for what we do not see yet, then we endure until we receive it.
26. Likewise, the Spirit partners with us in our (lack of understanding), for we don't know what we need to be praying for as we should. But the Spirit Himself makes intercession (for us) with "groanings" beyond words.
27 And God, who searches the hearts, knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit makes intercession for the righteous according to the will of God.
28 And we know by experience that all things work together for the ultimate good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
29 For those whom God knew from the beginning of time, He also predestined to be conformed into the likeness of His Son, that Christ would be the firstborn among many brothers.
30 Moreover, those God predestined, He also called. And those He called, He also justified. And those He justified, He also glorified.
31 So what should we say then? This: If God be for us--who can be against us?!
32 How shall God hold back any (good) things from us, seeing that He spared not His own Son, but was willing to deliver him up for us?!
33 So who can make any condemnation of Gods elect people (based on their weaknesses and sin) since it is God Himself who justifies them?
34 For who will condemn us, given the fact that Christ died for us--or rather, rose again--and even now is at the right hand of God, pleading our case for us?
35 Who or what shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? Distress? Persecution? Famine? Nakedness? Peril? Or sword?
36 Remember, it is written: For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 But no! In all these things we are more than conquerors through (Christ) who loved us!
38-39 For I am fully persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor demonic powers in the heavens, nor things in the present, nor things that will come, nor (mythical astrological influences), nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
1. The words, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit are an addition to the text, taken from verse 4, that was added because a little bit of legalism seemed to balance out Pauls comments, which seemed overly gracious otherwise.
2. The law of sin and death is commonly viewed as a synonym for Mosaic Law. There is some problem with this in that Paul, as a Jew, would never hold that the Torah was a bad thing. But in one sense, pointing out that the Torah was a vehicle that ultimately brought condemnation to humanity is perfectly appropriate. Pauls chief point, though, is to illustrate the notion that through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, reconciliation and life are produced in the believer, in comparison to the Torah, which reveals mankinds sinfulness and inability to attain true righteousness. In fact, since the strength of sin is the law, (1 Cor. 15:56), Paul again reveals that the Torah, by its very existence, brings out mans sinful nature and actually empowers him to sin by arousing and amplifying mans fallen spirit to clearly show its existence through its desire to disobey! Through Messiah, however, that circle is broken as the spirit of man is regenerated. Thus, while mankinds unredeemed flesh still manifests its variance with God through its continuing desire to sin, the cycle of desire to sin + sinful actions = physical and spiritual death is broken, for the mans spirit is redeemed and reconciled to God apart from his fallen nature so long as he continues to accept through faith Christs atonement for the sins that will still haunt him all the days of his life. And so the cycle in the life of the redeemed now is: Desire to do right + sinful actions= physical death, but eternal life through Christ!
3. Paul absolutely does not mean that the righteousness in the law is in any way appropriated by not walking after the flesh--i.e. through holy living! This has been the downfall of many Christian denominations that return to the trap the Pharisees fell prey to, substituting carnal self-control and carnal repentance from sin over true Spirit-empowerment. While its always good and proper to avoid sin, the Spirits activity in our lives is never activated as a result of simple repentance! He only becomes active and noticeable as we seek God in faith, and respond to the Spirits leading--and not as any sort of recompense for simple repentance or adoption of a Christian lifestyle! Paul is therefore saying that those who walk according to the Spirit are those who are doing that as a fruit of the Spirits presence, not through their own efforts at repentance.
How do we know Paul isnt merely referring to the choices one makes, whether good or bad? By verses 5 and 14, which show its not a question of simply doing good or evil, but rather a question of what (or Who) is leading and empowering the Christian, who then undertakes good or evil actions as an outgrowth of Who or what he is following. Thus, the Spirit can never grow or manifest His presence because of what one does; He only manifests as one yields to His prompting, and thus He becomes more noticeable as one yields to Him. (See also the commentary on Acts 5:32.)
4. How critical is this verse to Christians, yet its full implications are so often unrecognized. Paul is not just talking about a mind that seeks after sin, but he is acknowledging that the whole of mankinds human logic and wisdom is incapable of comprehending or receiving Gods truth.
5. Note Pauls words here confirming that we are in the Spirit not through repentance and lifestyle, but through His indwelling presence!
6. This is a somewhat confusing verse. It could be paraphrased more along the lines of: And if Christ be in you (through the Spirit), your physical body is dead as a result of sin, but your own spirit shall not die with it, but rather will live because of his righteousness. It is yet another indictment against soul sleep.
7. Here then, is the heart of true sanctification and godly living: the power of the Spirit. It is through Spirit-empowerment that one ultimately breaks free of propensity and slavery to sin. This all goes back to Genesis, where God revealed He had created two lights in the heavens: The greater light of the sun, and the lesser light of the moon. The moon has no light whatever in itself; it can only reflect the light of the sun. So too, we were created to reflect the communicable attributes of God through the indwelling of the Spirit. This is why so many religions and denominations fall short of true spirituality. Even some good denominations fail to grasp that it is only through Spirit-empowerment that true sanctification takes place--and so they substitute repentance and adopting an outwardly godly lifestyle for the true life that only comes through the Spirit.
8. How one could wish that Christianity could understand that the covenant of Christ is a covenant of adoption and not a covenant of servanthood! The fist covenant was that of slavery and servanthood, in which God approved or disapproved, or accepted or rejected a person on the basis of his lifestyle and obedience. The New covenant is one of adoption, where God can never accept or reject a person based on how godly he manages to live. God can only accept or reject a man on the basis of his belief or unbelief in His Sons atonement. This is why the line between sanctification and legalism is nearly impossible to see without the enlightenment of the Spirit, and why the effects of mans sanctification are pointless unless done under the unction of the Spirit.
Here are some examples:
A man hears a minister ask how someone can call himself a Christian if he only attends services once a week since the Bible says not to forsake the assembly of ourselves together. So he feels guilty and starts attending Wednesday night prayer meeting and Sunday night services as well. Thats great--but theres no righteousness in that.
A woman hears a Holiness preacher chastise women for looking too much like the world, and so she throws away any clothing with style, and starts wearing obnoxiously long dresses with no makeup so God will be pleased with her. Thats fine--but theres no righteousness in that.
These are examples of people in bondage to works, who have been conned into substituting a so-called godly lifestyle over reflecting Christs righteousness through the Spirit. Gods Spirit could move on a person to do any or all of these things at a specific time, for a specific purpose, and under a specific anointing to do them. But the difference is that the one who does these things under the unction of the Spirit, rather than because of his own guilty conscience, is the one who is truly being conformed into the image of Christ, because the Spirit is leading him, while the other person is being led by his own flesh--and the flesh, Paul notes, profits nothing.
9. Another tough verse by Paul. He is probably saying that the inbred flaws and frustration that nature and mankind endure has come upon them to show the need for a redeemer as he alludes to in verse 22.
10. Infirmities, while an acceptable translation (though weakness is better), probably fails to convey Pauls true thoughts here. The word astheneia is related to astheneo, a word used in Rom. 14:1 regarding someone who is weak in the faith. Pauls use of the word there refers to someone who lacks intellectual knowledge of the faith, and thus is still bound by some extraneous points of Jewish Law. Since Paul twice uses astheneo in Romans to refer to someone in this state of insufficient knowledge, his use of astheneia here can reasonably be inferred as stating that the Spirit helps us not in our weakness, but in our lack of understanding, which fits perfectly with the rest of the sentence.
11. Possibly a reference to praying in Tongues. The point should also be made that some non-Trinitarians attempt to use the fact that Paul calls the Spirit an it in this verse, to deny the Personhood of the Spirit. Actually, itself is used because of a flaw in the Greek language. Since the word for Spirit is neuter, unlike it is in Hebrew, it technically requires the usage of itself over himself. It is thus not a theological statement by Paul that the Holy Spirit is an it rather than a He.
12. A favorite verse quoted at funerals. But its main point is to say that God may not necessarily send death, pain, and strife into His childrens lives, but He makes use of all circumstances, good and bad, when those who follow Him remain faithful.
13. Better paraphrased as: Who can make any condemnation of Gods people based on their weaknesses and sin since it is God Himself who justifies them?
1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,
2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.
3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:
4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
8 That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
9 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.
10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;
11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?1
20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted2 to destruction:
23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.
26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.
27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:
28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.
29 And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.
30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.3
31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
1 What I am about to say is the truth in Christ, my conscience bearing witness with me in the Holy Ghost:
2 I have great heaviness and constant sorrow in my heart.
3 For I could even wish that I were accursed from Christ for my brother Jews,
4 All of whom are Israelites--and the people adopted by God; who were the ones who saw Gods glory (on Mt. Sinai); who received the covenants and the Torah; who had the honor of ministering to God as priests; who were the ones in line to inherit Gods promises;
5 Who are descended from the Patriarchs; and from whom, so far as physical descent goes, Christ came, who is preeminent over all things--God--blessed forever! Amen.
6 (Now despite their current situation,) this does not mean that the decree of God has somehow failed to come to pass. You see, not everyone in the physical family of Israel is considered by God to actually be a part of Israel.
7 Neither does mere physical descent from Abraham make them true all children of Abraham. Remember the Scripture: In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
8 This meant that the children that came from Abrahams human efforts at procreation (--Ishmael, and those descended from him--) were not deemed to be the children God promised. Instead, the children that came out of Isaac, the child of promise, are the ones God acknowledges as the children.
9 For this was the promise in question: At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.
10 Not only this, but the principle was again shown when Rebecca conceived (her own child of promise) by our ancestor Isaac.
11 For before her children were even born, and before either had done anything good or bad, that the plan of God--independent of deeds, but through sovereign election alone on the part of Him who issued the call--might be accomplished,
12 It was told her, The older child shall serve the younger one.
13 As it is written: Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
14 What shall we say then? That God is unfair? God forbid, no!
15 For God told Moses: I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
16 So then, it is not a question of he who wants (the blessing), or of he who runs (in order to get the blessing). It is a question of to whom God chooses to show mercy.
17 The Scripture also notes this concept elsewhere when it points out that Pharaoh was told: Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
18 Therefore, God will show mercy to whomever He chooses; and He will harden whom He will harden.
19 Now you might say to me, Well, why does God condemn me if Im only doing what He forces me to do through His own sovereign will? No one can resist that!
20 No, sir--who are you to question God? Shall the thing created say to its creator, Why did you make me like this?
21 Doesnt the potter have the power to make either a plain bottle or a beautiful vase from the same lump of clay?
22-24 What if God, though wanting and planning to show His wrath, and to make His power known to people, patiently put up with those people destined for His wrath and constructed for destruction, so that He could make known the riches of His glory on those people He prepared beforehand to receive His mercy--even us, whom He has called not just from the Jews, but from the Gentiles too?
25 As He said in Hosea: I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.
26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.
27 Isaiah also said, concerning Israel: Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:
28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.
29 And Isaiah even said earlier: Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.
30-31 So what shall we say, other than that the Gentiles, who did not seek righteousness, actually found it through faith, while Israel, which followed after the Torah of righteousness, missed the whole point, and never achieved righteousness!
32 Why did they never achieve it, you ask? Because they did not seek it by faith, but instead by their deeds and obedience based on the Torah. You see, they stumbled on the stumbling block that God foretold.
33 As it is written: Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
1. Verses like this have given birth to a teaching that God is so in control of all the universe that He applies an irresistible will to force all things to do exactly what He wants, including causing men to sin. This notion is debatable, and part of a big argument over the form and basis of Predestination, which often is the most divisive thing to argue about in the whole of Paul's writings.
2. This word means something like assembling a jigsaw puzzle or repairing a broken vessel. Beyond that, this whole chapter is misused by those with an unhealthy view of Predestination to conclude God destines some people for damnation, and exerts an irresistible will to conform them into vile sinners in order to pour out His wrath upon them in eternity so that the redeemed can appreciate what He has saved them from. Homosexuals in particular are singled out by some as examples of this, but the truth as shown in the beginning of Romans, and elsewhere, is that in some cases God abandons the stubborn rebels, withdraws conviction from them, and gives them over to a reprobate mind, allowing them to debase themselves in sin, maximizing their own damnation by their own free will, unhindered by the Spirit's conviction, not by some capricious role on His part through conscious design.
3. Paul here draws out the irony that the Gentiles, who in ages past rejected following God, actually came to embrace the path of true righteousness through faith, while the Jews, who accepted God's commandments, wound up rejecting true righteousness. There are a variety of reasons why Israel failed so completely: Primarily, it was because the Jews, as a people, were never any better than the Gentiles, and age after age tended to reject God and the prophets--and the final fruit of that continuous rejection was the rejection of the Messiah Himself.
1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.1
5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)2
7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?3
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.4
18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
1 (Even so,) brethren, my hearts desire and prayer to God is that Israel would (come to the truth, and) be saved.
2 For I admit they have a zeal for God, but a zeal not based on correct knowledge.
3 For they, being ignorant of Gods righteousness and going about to counterfeit it through their own Torah observance, have not submitted to the (true) righteousness of God.
4 For Christ is the ultimate personification of all that the Torah points to: the very source of righteousness to everyone who places faith in him!
5 For Moses described the righteousness of the Torah in this way: The man which doeth those things shall live by them.
6 But the (true) righteousness that comes from faith speaks this way: Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (That is, to say: I will earn heaven through my own righteousness.) This dethrones Christ from his exalted position of Lord and Savior at Gods right hand, making him only a favored human man.
7 Nor does it say, Who shall descend into the deep? (That is, to say: I will atone for my own sins in Sheol, and then enter into eternal life.) This brings Christ up from the grave (negating the truth and power of his resurrection and Lordship, and again making him nothing more than a dead human prophet who must be atoning for his own sins in Sheol).
8-9 But what does the attitude of true righteousness say? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart. That is, the word about faith we preach: That if you will confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and you shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved!
10 For with the heart, man believes and receives righteousness. And with the mouth, confession is made to salvation.
11 For the Scripture says: Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord of both is rich toward all who call upon Him.
13 For: Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
14 But how shall people call upon him if they have not believed on him? And how can they believe on him if they have not heard of him? And how can they hear, unless they hear someone preach about him?
15 And how shall anyone preach about him unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
16 But they have not all obeyed the Gospel message, for Isaiah said: Lord, who has put faith in what we said?
17 So then ones faith comes by hearing, and hearing by someones proclaiming what God says.
18 But I ask: Havent they already heard? Yes, truly they have, for: Their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
19 And I ask: Did Israel, though it heard the message, understand it? For Moses himself orginally said: I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
20 And Isaiah later spoke boldly (about the Gentiles,) saying: I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me,
21 While he said about Israel: All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
1. This is a grossly misunderstood verse. Paul is not saying, The Torah has come to an end because Messiah has come. The end of the Law must be understood as, the goal of the Law, the ultimate embodiment of the Law, the ultimate form of righteousness, etc. Yes, Paul affirms the Law is fullilled and abolished (2 Cor. 3:11.13), but not in this passage.
2. Paul here is regularly criticized by Jews for misquoting Deut. 30: 11-13.
For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
The accusation has no basis, for Paul is employing traditional Jewish methods of teaching in that he uses a pshat: Citing part of a verse, which in Judaism was meant to call the hearers attention to the whole of the verse. Thus, every Jew to whom this epistle came knew these verses by heart, and it would have been impossible to fool any Jewish listener were Pauls intent to distort the Scriptures! Gentiles could have been conned, but Gentiles could have cared less about the Jewish Scriptures to begin with.
Having used a pshat to call to mind the surface text and its direct context of meaning, Paul goes on to make a sod, illustrating a deeper, more metaphysical, message he perceives beneath the surface text. Certainly, not every Jew would have agreed with his exposition, but the method he is using, far from being an intentional distortion of Scripture, is wholly rabbinic. And if Paul is somehow cheating by what hes doing, what criticism should Judaism thus make toward the Chassidim who make such cheating into a consummate art form?! Thus, Jewish criticism of Paul is, at best, misplaced, and, at worst, utterly hypocritical.
The point must now be addressed about Pauls apparent omission of part of verse 13, which seems to say that the Jews can keep a Torah Paul has denied they can keep! Judaism also loves to pounce on this one as proof of Paul contradicting what God says in the Old Testament.
So what is the truth?
Well, the fact is both sides have some truth going for them. The problem is that Judaism, once again, is ignorant of what Pauls philosophical approach to keeping the Torah is.
Pauls point was always that no human could keep the Torah in such a way that he could earn eternal life on the basis of how well he had obeyed the commandments, independent of Messiahs sacrifice for his sins and failings. (However, in verse 7, he seems to also be criticizing a purgatory-like belief in Judaism, then and now, that people can be punished for their sins in Sheol, and then enter into eternal life after atoning for those sins. Verses 6 and 7 are otherwise the most confusing verses Paul wrote, and it is impossible to make a dogmatic assertion on what he means.)
No Jew, for instance, would have accepted the notion that a man could so keep the Torah that he could refuse to make a sacrifice on Yom Kippur, relying on his flawless keeping of the mitzvot to exempt him from the need to sacrifice for his failings over the year. Thus, even Judaism itself acknowledges no one can keep the Torah flawlessly, year after year, without the need to seek Gods forgiveness of sin. And so, Judaism and Paul are in agreement on that.
Where the two part company is on the basis of forgiveness of sin, and what constitutes true justification with God. Paul says the forgiveness is accomplished on the basis of Christs sacrifice, and reconciliation is obtained by grace through faith in that sacrifice. Judaism instead believes reconciliation is obtained through repentance and devotion to6 the Torah; and forgiveness is obtained through prayer and penance.
Thus, both Paul and Judaism agree no one can keep the Torah flawlessly, but both could agree it can be kept in a general sense.
This is therefore Judaisms lesser truth: That, as God says here, the 613 commandments of the Torah (now whittled down to around 180 since there is no Temple or priesthood), are theoretically possible to keep as a way of life and in a general sense.
But even if we agree the Torah could be kept in a general sense, did the Jews keep it in a general sense? No! The entire history of the Old Testament, with a handful of exceptions for when the people had a godly king, is a history of the Jews rejecting the Torah, falling into idolatry, rejecting the prophets, rejecting the Sabbath, rejecting the Messiah, rejecting the Messiahs apostles, and establishing their own parameters of the Jewish religion based on the notion that the sages have a God-given right to determine what Judaism is, and how it is to be followed. And, from a Christian perspective, even those Jews who did keep the Torah--and who kept it blamelessly (like Zacharias and Elisabeth)--did not, and could not, keep it perfectly enough to be acceptable to God outside of Messiahs sacrifice for their failings and sins.
How do we know that?
By virtue of the fact that all the righteous dead went not to Gods presence in heaven, but to the holding tank of Abrahams Bosom in Sheol, where they awaited Messiah to redeem them and take them into Gods presence (Ephesians 4:8-10, 1 Peter 3:19).
Thus, Paul is not contradicting what God says; it is Judaism that never understood what God meant, substituting its own religious construct in place of Gods actual plan.
3. Absolute proof against the notion that non-Christians who never hear and respond to the Gospel can somehow be saved.
4. This absolutely does not mean, Faith coming by hearing, and hearing BY THE BIBLE! One of the greatest deceptions the devil has maneuvered the church into is the notion that the term word of God should automatically be viewed as a synonym for the Bible! In the 40 or so places in the New Testament where the phrase the word of God is used, you can count on one hand the times this should be translated as a synonym for the Scriptures. The predominant New Testament use of the term refers to something akin to the old town crier who would ring a bell and cry out, Hear, ye! Hear, ye! Then he would read off a proclamation by the king. So when the term the word of God is used in the New Testament, it refers to:
And finally, in rare instances, to the Scriptures.
Thus, Paul is not saying here that one builds his faith up by studying Scripture, or by somehow learning what the Bible supposedly promises the believer. True faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit, dispensed at Gods command, enabling a man to have the spiritual darkness lifted, and the light of Gods truth to penetrate his thinking. From that point, all man can do is fight against the unbelief his flesh will bring against what God has spoken. He might well do some positive confession or praise against what his flesh is telling him, but the faith that can literally accomplish miracles always, in one form or another, comes from God either in seed form or in fullness of manifestation:
Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. 2. Peter 1:1.
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. Rom. 12:3.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Eph. 2:8.
...To another faith by the same Spirit. 1 Cor. 12:9.)
Now a lot of people in the Faith movement misunderstand the primary nature of miracle-working faith by focusing on verses like these:
Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. Matt. 21:21
For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Mark 11:23.
Yet while these verses are infallibly true, theyre qualified in at least two places:
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. John 15:7.
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. James 4:3.
And so, while man might possess his own carnal innate faith, that faith, in and of itself, is not sufficient to work the miracle power of God, for anything that comes from man, apart from the Spirit, can do nothing! What God can, and does do, is empower mans carnal faith and energize it (in a sense, regenerate it as he does mans fallen spirit) through the Spirit, to where it can enact the supernatural. The qualification is that the man must be acting under the leading of the Spirit, working within the parameters of what God has called him to do. God thereafter anoints his faith into action. Here is an example:
Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. Ezekiel 37:4,7.
The bones did not arise because of Ezekiels strong faith or because he spoke his own faith-filled words; they arose because God anointed Ezekiel to bring about something He decreed should be done.
Ezekiels own level of faith very clearly did not exceed simple obedience. Yet this was enough faith to enact the miracle (even though it was in a vision) because Ezekiel was working within the parameters God established for him. In the same way, a Christian, under the anointing and revelation of the Spirit, might speak forth (that is, deliver Gods heavenly decree) a command for a miracle to happen, but that will happen only because he is acting in accord with Gods direct will, and his faith to enact the miracle will come from the Spirit.
Thus, it makes no difference whether one is a faith giant or Doubting Thomas in so far as how much faith he needs to enact the miracle power of God. This is why Jesus said one needs no more than faith the size of a mustard seed. The qualification is, the person must be acting in accord with something God has already decided to do. Its therefore not a question of seizing some promise in Scripture and then confessing it into existence; its a question of God first decreeing something from heaven and the Christian then exercising his energized faith to bring it about, although it is possible for a man standing in faith to see God move in his situation, not by energizing his human faith, but as a reward for his belief. God will sometimes do that to teach a person to believe He will do what He has said He would, despite what circumstances would seem to dictate. But there is nothing supernatural about the faith involved in this sort of miracle. About all a man can do in this sort of scenario is to avoid slipping into doubt and unbelief.
In connection with this, one factor man does have control over is whether or not he refuses to believe what God has said. In those circumstances, a faith giant is a world ahead of a Doubting Thomas in combating unbelief, for contrary to the teachings of some, unbelief on the part of man absolutely curtails Gods willingness and ability to work (Matt. 13:58)!
So if Paul says: Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, his greater truth is that mans faith and understanding is energized by God decreeing and enacting it through the Spirit. At best, it is only a lesser truth that a man is pumped up in his faith by study of the Scripture, etc. (Having said that, however, one can argue whether Paul is even meaning to deal with faith in the sense we have been talking about. He could well be referring to it only in the sense of one coming to faith in Christ for salvation. This idea is reinforced by virtue of the fact that some texts read word of Christ, rather than word of God, here.)
Below are some examples of how the phrase The word of God is actually used in the New Testament. It should take only a moment to realize that making the term a synonym for the Scriptures, as Christianity has done, has all but dismissed Gods actual use of the phrase.
Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. Mark 7:13.
Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. Luke 3:2.
And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. Luke 4:4
Now the parable is this: The seed is the the word of God . Luke 8:11.
And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:31.
And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. Acts 6:7.
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God , so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Hebrews 11:3.
1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,
3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars1; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.
4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.2
6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.3
7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.
8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber,4 eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompence unto them:
10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.5
12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?6
16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.7
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.
20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.
24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?8
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.9
26 And so all Israel shall be saved:10 as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes.
29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
32 For God hath concluded11 them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counseller?
35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
1 But I ask: Has God cast away His people? God forbid! For I am an Israelite myself, descended from Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
2 No, God has not cast away His people, whom He foreknew. Do you not remember what the Scripture mentions about an incident in the life of Elijah? How he tried to intercede against Israel, and said to God:
3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.
4 But what was Gods answer to him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
5 So even now, at this present time, there is (--and will always be--) a remnant of Israel in right standing with God, according to His election through His grace.
6 And since it is through grace, it is not of deeds, or else grace would no longer be grace. (Thus, if this remnant exists because of their deeds, then it is not a remnant through Gods grace.)
7 So what does this mean, you ask? It means that Israel as a whole did not obtain what it sought for, but the elect (--predestined by God through His grace--) did obtain it, and the rest of Israel was blinded.
8 This was in keeping with what was written: God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, even to this day.
9 David also said: Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompence unto them:
10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
11 I ask: Have they stumbled because God wanted them to fall altogether? God forbid! But He allowed them to fall so that through their fall, salvation could (legally--without compromising Gods unchanging nature--) come to the Gentiles, to provoke Israel itself to jealousy (so the nation would repent).
12 And if their fall has resulted in greatly enriching the rest of the world, and their diminishment has enriched the Gentiles too--how much more will be gained by their eventual fullness (in Christ)?
13-14 My points here have been made especially to you Gentiles, since I am the apostle to the Gentiles. As such, I take full advantage of my position and ministry if by some means I may provoke some of my fellow countrymen into jealousy, and thus save some of them.
15 For if Israels casting away (the Messiah) results in the world being reconciled under him to God--what shall their receiving (of the Messiah) do? Why, it will bring about the resurrection of the dead (and the return of Christ)!
16 For if the firstfruits (of the bread offering) is holy, the entire lump of dough is holy; and similarly, if the root is holy, so are the branches that sprout from it.
17 And if some branches were broken off so you Gentiles, being the same as a wild olive branch, could be grafted onto a cultivated olive tree, and so with the true branches be nourished by the sap of that olive tree,
18 Dont think yourself better than the branches that were broken off. If you do, then remember that you dont uphold the root, but the root upholds you!
19 Now you might say, The branches were broken off so I could be grafted in.
20 True, because of their lack of faith they were broken off, and you stand by faith. But dont be proud of that, but fear!
21 For if God didnt spare the natural branches, be careful, lest He not spare you either!
22 So keep in mind both how good God can be, and also how stern. Those who fell away saw how stern He can be. But you see His good side, provided you continue (--through faith--) to abide in that goodness, otherwise you will be cut off too.
23 And they also, if they overcome their lack of faith, shall be grafted back in, for God can easily graft them back onto their own olive tree.
24 For if you were taken out of a wild olive tree and grafted onto a cultivated olive tree (--which no one would ever do normally--) how much more will the Jews, who are the natural branches, be grafted back onto their own olive tree?
25 For I dont want you to be ignorant, brethren, about this mystery, lest you become wise through your own arrogance: You see, spiritual blindness has fallen upon the segment of Israel that is not elect, until God has finished bringing all the Gentiles He will call into His kingdom.
26 And so (--with the Gentiles coming in first, and finally the Jews at the end--) all Israel will be saved. For it is written: There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
28 Now presently, Israel is your enemy as regards the Gospel. But as regards their role in Gods election, they are beloved for the sake of the Patriarchs.
29 For God does not repent of his gifts and calling.
30-32 For as you Gentiles in times past did not believe and obey God, but found mercy through Israels own unbelief and rebellion, likewise Israel is now in a similar state of unbelief, that through the undeserved mercy shown you, they may obtain the same sort of mercy (when God is ready to deliver them). For God has caught all Israel up in a similar state of unbelief so that He can (show the exact same mercy toward them as He did the Gentiles, and save them)!
33 How incredible are the depths of Gods wisdom and knowledge! How unfathomable are His plans; and how beyond comprehension are His ways of doing things!
34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counseller?
35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
36 For everything comes from Him. Everything exists through Him. And everything is made for Him, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
1. Ralph Earle points out an interesting fact that in this quote from the Septuagint, the word for altars refers to places of blood sacrifice and burnt offering, showing that Elijah and the prophets of his day sacrificed to God in places other than the Temple, which was the one place mandated in the Torah.
2. Verses 4 and 5 are important, illustrating Gods sovereign dealings with the Jewish people, and how He, despite their rejection of Messiah, will always somewhere, someplace, reserve a remnant of Jewish believers who will be the recipients of His grace, giving them eyes to see and ears to hear the Gospel.
3. The second sentence in verse 6 is an addition to the text.
4. The spirit of slumber is when the eyes of faith are closing or shut tight, making one unable to believe and understand. Though it is offensive to Judaism, Paul notes that because of Israels hardness of heart, God has given the Jews over to this sort of blindness and spiritual deception, resulting in their remaining content and secure in their unbelief and rejection of Christ.
5. While some find this verse confusing in that the Jews have never seemed jealous of Christians or Christianity in any way--in fact, it shows the depth of deception the Jewish people have fallen prey to. Their hearts are so hard that they are virtually incapable of feeling the jealousy they should feel! For, as Paul is pointing out, the miracles and power of the Holy Spirit being done within the community of (primarily Gentile) believers of his day should have pricked their collective conscience--but did not.
6. A very important verse showing that the second coming of Christ will happen when the Jews--specifically its leaders--realize who He was, and say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. (Matt. 23:39) This verse otherwise is often incorrectly translated and understood as Israels being what is cast off. While the text does flow naturally with that understanding, it would be a direct contradiction to verse 1! Even so, only a few Bibles (two that I know of) render it as I likewise do here. It should also be noted that Paul does not use the word resurrection here, and some theologians, limiting themselves to the phrase life from the dead, view Paul as only saying that Israels receiving will mean that the Jews will have new life breathed into them as a people, once they have accepted Christ. While that statement is true so far as it goes, Paul cannot be limiting himself to only discussing Israels regeneration. Jesus Himself (Matt. 23:39) prophesied that when the Jews received Him as Messiah, He would return to the earth. Since we know that Paul also affirms that the resurrection of the dead and the return of the righteous dead to the earth occur at Christs return (1 Cor. 15:23), Pauls words must be inclusive of regeneration, resurrection, and the return of Christ. The author doesnt believe Paul could have somehow failed to note those facts are interrelated, hence the rationale for substituting the word resurrection for life in the paraphrase, in the belief that Paul was being inclusive of all these factors, the capstone of which is the resurrection and return of Christ to the earth.
7. The Christian church has, unfortunately, fallen into its own spiritual deception over the centuries. One form of this deception manifests itself in the doctrine of Replacement Theology, which holds that the Christian church has replaced Israel. Paul here quickly squashes that notion by pointing out that the Gentile Christian church is the newcomer being allowed to be grafted into the root of Israel, not that the church itself is the root to which Israel is allowed to come to, cap in hand, to submit to Gentile pre-eminence.
8. It should be noted that no one grafts a wild olive branch to a healthy cultivated olive tree, for the wild olive has an inferior taste. This illustrates Gods grace toward the Gentiles, to whom Christ reached out on the cross.
9. Contrary to what some would like to think, there is a time when God will end His activities with the Gentiles to reach out and restore the majority of natural Jews to fellowship through the revelation of the Spirit.
10. This verse appears to be saying that God will supernaturally rip the blindness away from the Jews, resulting in mass repentance once He has finished His outreach to the Gentiles.
11. The word concluded means to catch in a net. Paul is saying God has in effect separated much of His grace from the Jews in order to reach out to the Gentiles until He has finished His outreach to them.
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,1 that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;2
7 Or ministry, let us wait3 on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity4; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
9 Let love be without dissimulation5. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
11 Not slothful in business6; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant7 in prayer;
13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.8 Be not wise in your own conceits.
17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.9
18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
1 Therefore, I beseech you, brethren--because of the mercies of God--to offer up your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, which is the way to worship and serve Him (as His priests on earth).
2 And dont let the world mold you into its image, but be transformed by the renewal of your minds to Gods way of thinking. Then you will prove what is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.
3 Through the grace given to me, I warn every man among you not to think too highly of himself. Measure yourselves sincerely, each of you as has received a measure of faith from God.
4 For as our bodies have many limbs, and all limbs do not have the same function,
5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and each of us are fellow limbs of that body.
6 And since we have different gifts, according to the grace that has been given to us, let us use them. If we can prophesy, let us do so in proportion to the faith we have been given.
7 If we have a ministry, let us perform that ministry. If we can teach, let us teach.
8 If a man can exhort, he should exhort. If a man can give, let him give out of sincere compassion. If a man has been placed in leadership, let him lead diligently. If a man is in a place to show mercy to another, let him do that cheerfully.
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil, and hold on to what is good.
10 Show affection and love to each other as brothers should: With honor, esteeming everyone else more than himself.
11 Dont be apathetic, but be zealous in serving the Lord.
12 Rejoice in hope. Be patient in tribulation. Be steadfast in praying.
13 Help the poorer brethren. Be known for hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you. Bless--dont curse!
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
16 Treat everyone equally, and dont regard the rich and influential better than you do the common man. Dont be wise in your own arrogance.
17 Dont return evil for evil, but rise above that by living an honest and noble lifestyle in the sight of all men.
18 If it is possible, as much as you are able, live in peace with all men.
19 Dearly beloved, dont be your own judge and jury, and take vengeance for wrongs; leave vengeance to God, for it is written: Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
20 Therefore, if your enemy hungers, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him water, for in so doing this, you will heap coals of fire upon his head.
21 Dont let evil overcome you, but you overcome evil with good.
1. By the renewing of ones mind, Paul is referring to yielding the way one thinks to the promptings and enlightenment of the Spirit, which his mind has already been given (1 Cor. 2:16), and exchanging his carnal concerns for himself for those of others.
2. Prophesy here does not mean to stand up and say, Thus saith the Lord. It refers primarily to proclaiming or testifying about what God has done to the degree a man has had revelation or experiences to draw from. However, to have the courage to prophesy in the greater sense could be included in what Paul is saying.
3. Wait means to go out and do it, ala to wait on tables.
4. Simplicity means to do something in sincerity or out of true compassion.
5. Dissimulation means hypocrisy.
6. Business should be translated as zeal or diligence.
7. Another bad translation that should be rendered: Steadfastly.
8. Better paraphrased as: Treat everyone equally, and dont regard the rich and influential better than you do the common man.
9. One of Pauls more difficult-to-understand verses. It might be paraphrased like so: Dont return evil for evil, but rise above that by living an honest and noble a lifestyle in the sight of men.
1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.1
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that
which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the
sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.2
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.3
1 Let every person respect governmental authorities, for no government or earthly authority exists unless God has ordained it, and God puts all governments in power.
2 So whoever resists a representative of the government resists the ordinance of God; and those who resist will receive condemnation.
3 For authorities are not sources of fear for those doing good, but to those doing evil. You dont want to live in fear from government officials, do you? So do good, and be good citizens, and the authorities will praise you.
4 For the local official is, in a sense, the minister of God for your own good. But if you do that which is evil, you should indeed fear, for the ruler doesnt wield the sword in vain--he is a minister of God, a person to take revenge upon someone who does evil.
5 Thus, you should submit to the government, not only for the sake of avoiding its wrath, but also to keep a clear conscience.
6 For this reason you should also pay your national taxes, for the ruling authorities constantly devote themselves to their jobs.
7 So give everyone what is due them: State taxes to whom taxes are due; import fees to whomever collects them; respect to those who are entitled to respect; and honor to those entitled to honor.
8 Be in debt to no man--except to love one another! For he who loves another has fulfilled the Torah.
9 For these commandments: Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not give false testimony, Do not covet, along with any other commandments, are all summed up by: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
10 Love impels a man to do nothing wrong to his neighbor, and so love is the fulfilling of the Torah.
11 Live like this, realizing what times we live in, and that we should rouse ourselves from apathy--for our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.
12 The night is almost over, and the day is starting to dawn. Let us therefore cast off the deeds of darkness, and put on the armor of light.
13 Let us walk uprightly, as men walking in plain sight during the day, rather than walking in partying, drunkenness, sexual promiscuity--thinking anything goes--or strife and jealousy.
14 But (fix your attention fully on the example of Jesus Christ), and make no plans to fulfill the lust of the flesh.
1. We now come to some of Pauls most inconvenient and puzzling writings in which he extols the government of Nero as the servant of God, directing Christians to be in full obedience to it. Yet in a few years from the writing of these words, Nero will be throwing Christians to the lions and using them as human torches.
So how do we view Pauls words in a balanced manner? First, we can recognize he is articulating the idea that God is in control of everything, so if a government is in authority somewhere, God has apparently willed it in Pauls view. Secondly, this very notion of cooperating with civil authority in hope of being left alone is how the Jews managed to survive during the centuries of the Diaspora. Yet this also spelled their doom in Nazi Germany as they obediently complied with orders given them by the Nazi authorities, receiving the gas chambers as a reward.
So, like a lot of people, I dont like these verses as written since they seem to suggest a passive acquiescence to whatever ruling authorities happen to be in power, be they righteous or unrighteous. But theyre there, and we should at least accept that they call on us to be exemplary citizens.
2. It is interesting to note here that Paul summarizes the morality of the Torah by repeating several of the 10 Commandments (excluding the Sabbath, of course), affirming the view that only the moral precepts of the Torah are binding upon Christians.
3. Wise advice here, for Paul points out that Christians should not place themselves in a position where they can be drawn into sin.
1 Him that is weak in the faith1 receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.2
4 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.3
6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.4 He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.5
8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.
9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.
10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.
14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.6
15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.
19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.7
21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.8
22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
23 And he that doubteth is damned9 if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
1 A person who is (less-educated) in the faith than you are should be welcomed, but don't get into disputes over nonessential doctrines that might confuse him and hurt his faith.
2 For one man believes that he can eat anything; but another (with less understanding) thinks he can only eat vegetables.
3 Let he who eats everything not look down on he who restricts his diet; and let not someone who has a restrictive (--or kosher--) diet think himself better than the man who eats everything, for God has received that person.
4 Who are you to judge another persons slave anyway? Its in his masters eyes that he stands or falls--and he shall indeed stand, for God is able to help him stand.
5 One man esteems (the Sabbath and other Holy days) above other days, while another sees every day as the same. Let every man follow his own conscience.
6 He who honors the day, does so to honor God. He who eats, eats to the Lord, and gives God thanks, while he who does not eat certain foods avoids them because of the Lord, and gives God thanks as well.
7 For none of us should be living for himself or dying to himself (but we all should be living for God).
8 For if we live, we live for the Lord. And if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we are the Lords.
9 For this is why Christ died, rose, and revived: So that he could be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 So why then do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ (so worry about yourself).
11 Remember whats written: As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
13 Therefore, let us not judge one another anymore. Instead, live so as not to be a stumblingblock or a means of causing another brother to fall.
14 Personally, I have been given to understand by the Lord Jesus that no food is unclean to eat. But if someone still believes it is unclean, then to that person it is unclean.
15 But if another brother takes issue with the meat you eat, be charitable and dont eat it (in his presence). Dont cause him, for whom Christ died, to fall into sin over mere food.
16 Then your doing what is actually good to do will not be spoken evil of.
17 Remember, the Messianic Kingdom is not eating and drinking; it is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
18 For he who serves Christ in righteousness, peace and joy is acceptable to God, and has a good reputation among men.
19 So let us do what produces peace, and which places us in a position to build each other up.
20 Dont destroy the work of God over mere meat. All things are perfectly fine to eat, but it is sinful for a man to eat if his conscience convicts him.
21 It is good not to eat meat, nor drink wine, nor to do anything else that causes your brother to stumble or be made weak.
22 Do you have the understanding in the faith to do certain things that someone else does not? Then have it to yourself before God. Happy is the man who does not condemn himself for doing what he knows is permitted to do.
23 But another man, in a state of doubt, can be condemned if he eats something he thinks is not permitted, because he has not eaten out of his knowledge in the faith. For whatsoever is not done in accordance with ones faith is sin.
1. Weak in the faith means one whose education in doctrinal issues is incomplete. Specifically, the Jews being spoken of here seem to be those from an Essene perspective, who rejected meat and practiced vegetarianism. Some, however, would speculate this passage refers to those rejecting meats that might have been offered to idols.
2. Its good that Paul here acknowledges not all Christians have a complete unity in all nonessential issues, and that they should not be condemned, but rather accepted and shown courtesy.
3. Presumably a reference to Sabbath-keeping.
4. The words and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it, are an addition to the text.
5. The verse could be paraphrased as: For none of us should be living by his own dictates or dying by his own dictates (but we all should be living for God).
6. Probably a reference to the fact that the Gentile Christians were freed from the requirement of observing kosher dietary laws. Paul here is telling them not to flaunt their freedom in the face of traditional Jews who still observed the Kashrut traditions.
7. Interestingly, Paul is expressing the idea that a person who does something, believing it is sin, commits sin even if the action is itself not sinful!
8. A point needs to be made here that Paul is not saying that Christians are bound to adopt a legalistic lifestyle in order not to offend someone who lives by their own legalistic set of extra-biblical commands. In other words, one need not stop smoking because a Pentecostal Holiness person would be offended at seeing that, nor must he adopt Sabbath-keeping just because a 7th-Day Adventist would be offended at seeing a fellow Christian worshipping on Sunday. Rather, Paul is saying that a person should not let their liberty cause someone else to stumble if they adopt the same practices out of peer pressure, believing them to be sinful. An example would be trying to entice an observant Messianic into eating some pork ribs.
9. As always, damned is too strong a word. It means, condemned.
1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.
3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:1
9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.
10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.
11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.
12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.
13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.
15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God,
16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.
17 I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God.
18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed,
19 Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
20 Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:2
21 But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.
22 For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.
23 But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you;
24 Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company.
25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.
26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.3
27 It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.
28 When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.
29 And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.
30 Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;
31 That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints;
32 That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.
33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
1-2 So then, we who are strong (--being knowledgeable and mature in the faith--) should be conscious and supportive of newer believers who arent as developed in their knowledge and practice. So let us not just please ourselves, but rather let each of us concern ourselves with doing whats best for our neighbor so he may be built up too.
3 For even Christ pleased not himself, but as it is written: The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
4 For all the things written in ages past in the Old Testament were written for us to learn from so that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, could have hope.
5-6 Now may the God of patience and encouragement enable you all to achieve the same attitude (of love and servanthood) toward each other that Christ Jesus had, that you all--with one mind and mouth--can glorify God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 So (you Jews and Gentiles) accept one another as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
8-9 Now I point out that Jesus Christ was a servant to the circumcised (--the covenant people, the Jews--) fulfilling and showing the truth of Gods promises made to the Patriarchs, but also so that the Gentiles so could glorify Him for His mercy, for it is written: For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.
10 And again he said: Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.
11 And again: Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.
12 And Isaiah said: There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all His joy and peace in your faith so that you may be filled with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
14 Meanwhile, I am convinced, my brethren, that you are full of goodness, and in possession of everything you need to know, and can admonish one another.
15-16 Even so, brethren, I have been bold to write these things to remind you of what you already know, because of the grace given me by God that I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. My job is to minister the Gospel of God so that my offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable to God through their sanctification on the part of the Holy Spirit.
17 So it is no shame for me to be proud of what Jesus Christ has done through me in my doing the work of God.
18-19 For I will not speak about anything that Christ has not done through me in making the Gentiles obedient to the Gospel in word and deed, displaying mighty signs and wonders by the power of the Spirit of God. So, from Jerusalem to Illyricum (Crete and the Balkans), I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ.
20 Yes indeed, I have made every effort to preach the Gospel in places where Christs name is unknown, lest I should be building upon the work of some other man.
21 But instead, as it is written: To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.
22 Because of my constantly preaching in new areas, I have long had to delay coming to you.
23 But now, having finished my work of evangelism in the region here, and having wanted for many years to come to you,
24 When I depart for Spain, I will come by way of Rome, and I trust to see you on my journey and enjoy some time with you before you help supply me for the journey.
25 But right now, I must go to Jerusalem to deliver the relief fund to the righteous there.
26 For it has pleased the churches in northern and southern Greece to make a contribution for the righteous poor living in Jerusalem.
27 It has truly pleased them to do this, since they are certainly in debt to them. For if the Gentiles have been made sharers of the Jews spiritual blessings, it is their duty to show their thanks by ministering some natural blessings to the Jews in return.
28 So when I have taken care of all this, I will come by you on my way to Spain.
29 And I am sure that when I do come to you, I will (come and minister with signs and wonders) in the fullness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ.
30-32 Now I beseech you, brethren, for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ, and for the love in the Spirit, that you make fervent prayers to God that I will be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea. Also, pray that the relief fund I bring will be accepted by the righteous, so that I may come to you with joy, by the will of God, and be refreshed with you.
33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
1. This verse could be paraphrased like so: Now I point out that Jesus Christ was a minister to the Hebrews, fulfilling and showing the truth of Gods promises made to the Patriarchs. Even so, Paul then goes on in the next verses to remind the Jews in his audience that God, from days of old, had foreordained that the Gentiles should be equally acceptable to Him along with the Hebrews.
2. It is interesting that Paul specifically tells the assembly in Rome he will not become involved with churches he did not specifically start. It is thus possible that the Roman church had no formal beginning before Paul or his representatives arrived there to bring the believers into a specific group.
3. A reference to the collection mentioned in 1 Cor. 6:1.
1 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:
2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.1
3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:
4 Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.
5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.
6 Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.2
7 Salute Andronicus and Junia3, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
8 Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord.
9 Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys4 my beloved.
10 Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household.
11 Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.
12 Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord.
13 Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.
14 Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them.
15 Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.
16 Salute one another with an holy kiss.5 The churches of Christ salute you.
17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
21 Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius6, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.
22 I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.
23 Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city7 saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.
24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
27 To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe (who is delivering this letter). She is a servant of the church at Cenchrea.
2 Receive her in the Lord as is proper for the righteous to do, and help her with whatever she needs, for she has been of great assistance to many others, including myself.
3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my associates in Christ Jesus.
4 Both have risked their necks for me, for which I not only thank them, but all the Gentile churches as well.
5 Likewise, convey my greetings to the church that meets in their house. Say hello to my very beloved Epaenetus, who was my first convert to Christ in southern Greece.
6 Greet Mary, who worked tirelessly for us.
7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives, and my fellow prisoners, who are esteemed by the apostles, and who were believers before I was.
8 Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord.
9 Greet Urbane, our helper in Christ, and my beloved Stachys.
10 Greet Apelles, who is approved of by Christ. Salute those who are of the household of Aristobulus.
11 Salute Herodian, my kinsman. Greet all who are of the household of Narcissus, who are believers in the Lord.
12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who work for the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, who labored much for the Lord.
13 Greet Rufus, who is chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who is like a mother to me as well.
14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brothers who are with them.
15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and greet Olympas, and all the saints that are with them.
16 Greet one another with a holy kiss (from us). The churches of Christ salute you.
17 One more thing: I beseech you, brethren, take note of those who cause divisions and offenses that are contrary to the doctrine (of unity in Christ, independent of ones background) you were taught, and avoid them.
18 For people like this do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ--they serve their own bellies, and by their cunning words and crafty speeches deceive the simple-minded.
19 Your obedience, by the way, has been brought to the attention of everyone, and I am glad of this for you. You see, I want you to be wise about all that is good, and ignorant about all that is evil.
20 The God of peace, meanwhile, will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
21 Timothy, my fellow worker, along with Luke, Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, send greetings.
22 I Tertius, who penned this epistle, greet you in the Lord.
23 My current host, Gaius, and the whole church send greetings to you. Erastus, the chamberlain of the city, greets you as does Quartus, a brother.
24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
25-27 Now to the only wise God, who can keep you grounded through my Gospel and the preaching regarding Jesus Christ--according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret from the beginning of the world, but now manifested through the Scriptures of the prophets by decree of the everlasting God who made it known to all nations to lead them to the obedience to and from faith--be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.
1. Phoebe, as mentioned in the introduction, was the person who had delivered this epistle, and almost certainly was the one who read it to the church.
2. This was not the Virgin Mary.
3. This female cousin Junia (or Julia in some texts) may have held the rank of an apostle according to Pauls words here. That, or she had a great reputation amongst the various apostles.
4. This man supposedly became the Bishop of Byzantium.
5. As noted earlier, this was a mouth-kiss that the early church quickly limited to those of the same gender.
6. This is probably a reference to Luke.
7. In 1896, a piece of limestone was unearthed in Corinth stating that this same Erastus was responsible for paving the plaza in which it was found.