Romans 1 - Called Of God

INTRODUCTION: In August 2002 I completed a Bible study on Romans Chapter 12 because of the rich content, not planning to do all the chapters of Paul's letter. Almost two years later, in June 2004, I began a study with the first chapter of Colossians, and finished the last chapter in October. Since 2004 I have done Bible studies on every chapter of sixteen New Testament letters. So, I have decided to return to Romans and begin with chapter 1 for some additional Bible studies. Chapter 12 of Romans was done in my own paraphrase by examining several translations, as well as referring to a Greek lexicon through Strong's numbers. I have used that style for the study of this chapter, and to some extent it is an amplified paraphrase.

NOTE: Verses in the comments are from the 1769 King JamesBible.


A - PAUL BEGAN BY SPEAKING OF THE CALL OF GOD

Romans 1 "1 Paul, a bond slave of Jesus Christ, called by him and given the gift to be an apostle, that is, separated to spread the gospel of God. 2 This gospel was promised by God in earlier times by His prophets as they wrote the Holy Scriptures. 3 Those gospel prophecies Concerned His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was a descendent of David in his humanity, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by his resurrection from the dead. 5 By whom, that is Christ, we have received grace and apostleship, to offer obedience to the faith among all people of all nations for His name. 6 You are also among the called of Jesus Christ."

COMMENTS: Paul identified himself by his name and humbly referred to himself as a bond slave or servant, and said he had been set apart as an apostle called specifically by Jesus Christ to spread the gospel that has come to pass. In two of Paul's letters written after this one to the Romans, he gave more thorough detail about why he was qualified as an apostle to teach the authentic gospel. Galatians 1 "1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead ;)"

Then the next group of verses adds to what Paul said in verse 1. Galatians "10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. 11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught [it], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."

Paul wrote the following to the saints at Ephesus about his apostleship. Ephesians 3 "4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power." Some details about Paul's experience with the risen Christ are recorded in various passages in the book of Acts. Paul became a servant to Christ for the rest of his life, and his specific calling by God was as an apostle.

Paul declared that certain inspired writings of the prophets as recorded in the Old Testament scriptures represent the promise that was fulfilled by the appearing of the Son of God. Paul said unequivocally that Jesus Christ is the Lord. Jesus was a descendent of David when he was born in the flesh, and he was declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead. The authority of apostleship was given by Christ to those he had chosen to present the offer for people to become obedient to the faith. This was to be offered among all people of all nations for the name of Christ. Paul wanted the believers at Rome to know that they were also among the called of Jesus Christ.


B - PAUL GAVE GREETING TO THE SAINTS IN ROME

Romans 1 "7 To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints, that is, those separated to God for His purposes: greetings with Grace, loving-kindness, favor to you and peace, tranquility of heart, security of soul, 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 spirit in the gospel of his Son, that I unceasingly mention you always in my prayers; 10 as I make request, if by any means now finally I may have a fruitful 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 gift, to the end you may be made firm and secure; 12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith we all share."

COMMENTS: Paul's letter was not addressed to a congregation at a single identified location, but rather to all Christians in Rome who could benefit from the content. He addressed them as the beloved of God, adding that they were called to be saints; and he wanted them to experience that incomparable grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Peter opened his second letter in very similar manner to Paul's greeting to the saints. 2Peter 1 "1 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 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."

Paul and Peter were Jews, but the gospel of Christ is truly good news to all people, not just the Jews. Ephesians 2 "19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner [stone]; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit."

That makes the following Old Testament verse precious to all those called to be saints by Christ. Psalm 30 "4 Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness."

Because they had responded wholeheartedly to the call of Christ, Paul was thankful to God that people in many diverse places spoke of the kind of faith in the Lord exhibited by the believers in Rome. Paul had not founded the church in Rome, but he told them by an oath with God as his witness, that he continually prayed that God would provide the opportunity for him to be with them. Paul said he served God with his own spirit in the gospel of God's Son, and he longed to be with the believers at Rome that he might be able to impart to them some spiritual gift to help them to be even more firmly established in their faith. Paul looked forward to the comfort they could enjoy together through their mutual faith.


C - PAUL WANTED THE BELIEVERS AT ROME TO GROW EVEN MORE IN CHRIST

Romans 1 "13 Now I want you to be aware brethren, that quite often it has been my intention to come to you though not able as yet, that I might have some spiritual fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. 14 I have an obligation both to the Greeks, and to other cultures; both to the wise, and to the unwise. 15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 16 For I have no reservations about preaching the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith."

COMMENTS: Paul wanted the believers at Rome to know that he had often been prevented in some way from being with them in Rome; though it was his desire to be there to share in their growth in the Lord, even as he had experienced with other Gentiles. He was obligated to Christ as if paying a debt, to take the gospel to the Greeks and all other people groups, without regard to whether individuals among them were wise and discerning, or were lacking in education. So, to the full extent that Paul was able, he was eager to preach the gospel to those at Rome. Paul had no hesitation or reservations about preaching the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God that gives salvation of the soul to everyone who believes, whether they are Jew or Gentile.

The righteousness of God is revealed as it begins and ends with faith, just as it had been written even in the Old Testament, that the just, those who were justified by God, shall live by faith. Habakkuk 2 "4 Behold, his soul [which] is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith."

Paul wrote again about faith in his letter to the Galatians, that belief in Christ provides what cannot be accomplished by the best efforts to keep God's law. Galatians 3 "11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, [it is] evident: for, The just shall live by faith." Eternal life comes only through faith and belief in Christ as John wrote in his gospel. John 3 "36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."


D - GOD MUST JUDGE THOSE WHO DO NOT ACCEPT HIM BY FAITH

Romans 1 "18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who ignore the truth and remain immoral, unjust, wicked; 19 Because that which may be known of God has been made apparent and obvious; for God has shown it to them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, available to be understood by the things that are made, even God's eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because when they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, neither were they thankful; but they became worthless and fruitless in their imaginations, and their foolish heart lost the light of truth. 22 claiming that they were wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the everlasting, indestructible, immortal God into an image that looked like mortal, short-lived man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and reptiles. 24 Therefore God also abandoned them to follow detestable practices through the intense and obsessive desires of their own hearts, to dishonor and degrade their own bodies with each other: 25 they changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served those things that were created more than the Creator God, who is blessed, praised, and to be worshipped forever. Amen."

COMMENTS: Paul began to describe the depraved condition of all mankind from the beginning of time, that can only be changed by placing faith and trust in the Lord God. Man cannot have true wisdom unless he has a faith and belief in God that is demonstrated by a respectful obedience with awe and praise. Job 28 "28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that [is] wisdom; and to depart from evil [is] understanding." Psalm 111 "10 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do [his commandments]: his praise endureth for ever." Proverbs 1 "7 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction."

Paul had declared the everlasting relationship with God that is available through faith in Jesus Christ, then he began to describe how so many have made a mockery of God's offering of love. Additional verses from Proverbs 1 illustrate the continual rejection of God by man, and the unchangeable nature of God. Proverbs 1 "20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: 21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, [saying], 22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? 23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. 24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; 25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; 27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. 28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: 29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: 30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. 31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. 32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. 33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil."


E - GOD LEAVES IN THE DEPTH OF THEIR SIN THOSE WHO REJECT HIM

Romans 1 "26 Because they changed the truth into a lie, God gave them up unto vile, despicable affections: for even their women did change from natural sexual relations into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, forsaking natural sexual relations with a woman, burned in their lust toward other men; men with men in sexual relations which are improper and detestable, thereby receiving in themselves the deserved reward for those immoral perversions. 28 And even as they would not acknowledge God, God let them be guided by their morally unprincipled, debased mind, to do those things which are abnormal, vile, and despicable; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual relations without marriage, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, argument, deceit, intense hatred; gossipers, 30 slanderers, haters of God, despiteful, haughty, boastful, contrivers of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, breaking promises, without natural affection, unyielding, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but are pleased with those who do them."

COMMENTS: In the above passage, Paul wrote quite an extensive list of various characteristics of those who strongly deny or reject God in all matters of daily living. As items from the list grow within the heart, a person becomes more callous to the truth, and seeks the company of those who also want to live without being accountable to anyone else or even to God. They become like a god in their own minds, which was the basic temptation of Satan to Adam and Eve. Paul had opened his letter indicating that the faith of his readers at Rome was well spoken of in many places, and he was eager to be in their company. His transition to this topic was important for all who would read this letter. It is crucial to fully comprehend the fact that no person is inherently good, and no person can become acceptable in God's site through their ancestry or their own efforts to meet any set of standards. The grace of God is required for both Jew and Gentile to have a relationship with Christ through faith.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord, I thank you for calling me by grace to be among the many saints separated over the centuries, to follow your holy purposes as long as we are still in this world. The opening of Paul's letter prompted me to reflect on the way your design was recorded in history with many prophecies brought to fruition in the coming of Christ to walk with men in the flesh. Then he was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by his resurrection from the dead. Paul said the believers at Rome were known by their faith, and I pray that I may be an active part in my own church that our reputation may be a witness for Christ. The stark reality that Paul presented about the base and depraved nature of man through rejection or denial of the power and authority of God throughout all time has helped me to have a deeper appreciation for what Christ has done for me. Help me, Lord, to be used of you in whatever way you have designed for me: first to give all praise and glory to the true and living God, then to be consistent in prayer for myself and other believers to avoid those unholy things that can so easily be manifested in our lives. Finally help me to be willing to point others to the grace that can provide the only real escape for them from such a foolish and rebellious way of life. Amen.

Published 23 January 2016