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Romans Introduction

The letter of Paul to the church of Rome may be the most important theological work in history, communicating truths that are at the heart of the good news of Jesus. Since Rome was then the command center for the Western world it is not surprising that Paul would feel it important to communicate the heart of the Good News as he saw it to the church that might influence so many people.

Paul’s communicates his primary motivation in writing both at the beginning and end of the letter. In Romans 1:5 he cites his calling to bring the good news to the nations in such a way that they could be fully obedient to the truth. But near the end in Romans 15:15-16, he reminds them of his unique call to bring the good news to the non-Jews.

Paul reveals a number of truths that were in fact mysteries until he expressed them in this letter:

  • Everyone, both Jew and non-Jew, are subject to sin and were so even before the Law was given

  • Law and human effort don’t deliver men from sin; in fact, they increase sin, both by an enhanced understanding of what is sinful, and by stimulating the rebellious streak in us that characterizes sin

  • Faith in Jesus brings a right standing with God, and with it many other benefits – being declared, "Innocent", in God’s eyes, reconciled with God, receiving eternal life and, in the future, resurrection of our bodies

  • Believers in Jesus are also given the Holy Spirit as a resident internal witness, and if they follow the Spirit they will live righteously as well as be considered righteous

  • The whole world is laboring because of its fallenness and is waiting for those who will follow Jesus and the Spirit to be revealed as sons of God who rescue the world

  • God has a plan of redemption and selects both people and people groups to carry out specific roles in that plan.

  • The Jewish people were selected by God to bring forth the law and later the savior who would fulfill the law, but the Jews themselves have been unable to either fulfill the Law or to say yes to the savior.

  • God has used the Jewish failure to follow a savior to cause the word to be spread to the non-Jews, who have been more able to understand and follow a savior

  • God’s plan, still remaining to be fulfilled, is to use the non-Jews to reach the Jews, who will complete the plan of salvation on the earth when, as a people group, they come to Jesus.

Rome was not only the political and military center of a major empire, but it was the commercial center as well. That Paul knew and greeted so many (he mentions 28 by name in Chapter 16) means that many of them had traveled between Rome and Corinth and other cities in the eastern Mediterranean where Paul had met them, though he may have known a few of them as friends of friends. Though this is the only letter on record that Paul wrote to the church in Rome, it is quite likely that much of his theology had already influenced them, especially through those whom he had trained and mentions earliest in the last chapter, Priscilla and Aquila, Epaenetus, Mary, Adronicus and Junia. This was helpful since what he was teaching the Roman world was new and far reaching for both Jews and Gentiles and to be honest, most of the church does not understand these ideas even today. Few truly walk in the freedom that Jesus paid for and that Paul explained.

Romans Introduction

In his doxology at the end in Romans 16:25-27, Paul refers to the revealing of the mystery which had been hidden since the beginning, and that is the heart of what he intends and in fact accomplishes in the letter. All of the apostles well understood and communicated the heart of what Jesus had accomplished, which was to die in place of all men, taking the penalty for our sin, and giving us his righteousness, for all those who are willing to receive it and follow Him as Lord. But Paul saw far beyond his peers, and he saw deeply into God’s plan for the ages.

We cannot do justice here to the many subtle details of all God reveals through this letter. It is important that we come back to it over and over because of how great a salvation God has paid for us to have, and here we get to see it spelled out theologically better than any other place.

Romans Guide to the Transcommentary

Romans Guide to the Transcommentary

This is a little bit more than a translation and a bit less than a full commentary.  It serves a similar function to the Amplified Bible, though that work’s purpose was to provide a complete sense of the meaning of the words used by the writers of scripture.  This work has a somewhat different purpose:

  • To convey as close as possible the actual meaning of the sentences as they would have been understood at the time they were originally spoken or written.  To accomplish this for twenty-first century Americans, dynamic equivalent words and sayings have been used at a sentence level.  An attempt has been made to preserve intended wordplay and irony from the original author.

  • We have attempted to clarify ideas, references, and thought sequences that would have been clear to first century audiences but are not clear to modern audiences because of differences in culture, customs, language, or degree of familiarity with Old Testament scriptures and Messianic prophecies.  The phrasing of the translation itself aims at that clarity, but we have also added words, phrases, and sentences to the narrative for improved understanding.  All such additions are in brackets [].  This allows the reader to have the explanatory additions when reading but also insulate these additions from the translated scripture – indeed, with a little effort they can be skipped entirely when reading aloud.

  • Color codes for different types of additional material are intended to further aid understanding:

- As in many editions, the words of Jesus are shown in red.

- Words of Father God or the Holy Spirit are shown in blue.

- Green is used for words added to descriptive narrative because they are implied or as commentary to explain the context.

References to scriptures are shown in gold.

  • As in many translations and editions, we have added headings in bold to help understand when a new theme is introduced by the author.

  • The author frequently refers to "Christ" or to "Jesus Christ".  We have employed the words “the Anointed One” rather than "Christ", since that is the meaning of “Christ”.  We wanted to avoid the sense of "Christ" as Jesus’ surname, yet still recognize it as a well-known title.

  • We have also added study questions at the end of each chapter to help you think more thoroughly about the meaning and application of the author’s writing.

We will have succeeded in this translation if you the reader find that you can read this work of scripture with greater comprehension and enjoyment than ever before. Please let us know if you find the various supplementary materials helpful. or too distracting, or if you have any other suggestions about how to improve this approach to translation.

Richard Tittle,

Romans Chapter 1

Romans Chapter 1

Paul’s purpose to visit the Roman church

[From] Paul, servant of Jesus, the Anointed One.  I was appointed [by God] to be sent out [Acts 9:15-16]. I was assigned [to announce] the Good News [of God], which was promised in advance by the prophets in the Holy Scriptures [as I am about to show you][This news] was about his son, our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. [Jesus was qualified to be the Anointed One] in terms of his humanity since he was born a descendant of David [as declared in Jeremiah 23:5]But, [more importantly,] the Spirit of holiness powerfully declared [him] to be the son of God by his resurrection from the dead. [Jesus’ resurrection fulfilled the Messianic prophecies in Psalms 16:10 that the Anointed One “would not see corruption”, and in Isaiah 53:11 “that he would see life” after “the suffering of his soul”, and it fulfilled what Jesus repeatedly had said concerning himself in Matthew 16:21, Matthew 27:62-63, John 2:19.]

Paul's purpose to visit the Roman church

From Jesus I have received [both the] grace [ability] and apostleship [the assignment from God to go everywhere and share the truth] to bring to obedience [to the truth of the Good News of Jesus the Anointed One] people from all nations for [the glory of] his name. And you are among those called by Jesus [to be his followers and to receive an understanding of all that he has done for you].

To everyone in Rome, you who are loved by God and called to be his holy ones. May God's favor and peace be with you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One [The Father and Son both agree, working together to send their power to bless us through the agency of the Holy Spirit.]

Before I say anything else, I thank my God through Jesus the Anointed One[, knowing you each have an amazing story about how God has saved you in spite of many trials,] for all of you [the believers and followers of Jesus in Rome, both Jews and non-Jews]. For your faith is talked about throughout the world [that there are strong believers in the capital of the very Empire that is known for its persecution of believers]. For God is my witness, whom I serve with all my breath in the Good News of his Son, that I never fail to mention you 10 in my prayers, pleading with God that it might be within his will that I finally succeed in completing a journey to visit you.

11 For I long to see you so I might provide you some spiritual gifting that would more firmly establish you. 12 In that way we will be mutually encouraged, receiving each other's faith [you will receive a strengthening gift and I will be strengthened by seeing your faith]. 13 I don't want you to be unaware that for a long time I have tried to visit you but have always been prevented [either by other responsibilities or by the schemes of our enemy]. I have wanted to experience the same kind of fruit [results] among you as I have among other people groups. [I have helped many of the gatherings of Christians to come to a stronger, more vibrant faith.]

The process and result of turning away from God

Process and result of turning away from God

14 [If you are trying to understand why I care so much,] I have been given a responsibility to both Greeks and non-Greeks, to both the educated and the unlearned. 15 So, with everything that's in me, I'm eager to preach the Good News [of Jesus] to you who are in Rome. 16 I have complete confidence in the Good News, for to those who believe the truth of it, it is the very power of God to save [them from sin, heal them from sickness, and deliver them from evil] - for the Jew first and then the non-Jew also. [It’s not that the Jews are more important to God, but that it was his plan to reach the Jews first and through them the non-Jews.] 17 For in it [the Good News] is revealed that right standing with God comes from trust [in what God has done for us through Jesus] to all who have that trust. It is just as the scripture [Habakkuk 2:4] said, “The righteous shall live by faith [in God].”

18 For the displeasure of God has been shown from heaven against the lack of responsiveness [by his people] to God and the sinfulness of men. [Even with God's great patience there is judgment for continued sin without repentance.] For men [actually] have the truth in their hands [but hold it hostage] by their unrighteousness. 19 For what can be known about God is clear, because God has made it clear. 20 Even the invisible qualities of God can be understood by [examining] all God made at the time of creation, including even his eternal power and the Godhead. [That God loved man is clear from all that he created to benefit us. That he has the power to do anything is evident from the scale and complexity of creation.] So men are without any excuse.

21 Men were aware of God but did not honor him as God or thank him [because they did not want a higher authority even though he was the source of their life]. Instead, they indulged in foolish speculation, [inventing their own philosophies], and their minds became clouded. 22 Puffing themselves up as wise, they became [complete] fools 23 by exchanging the image of an immortal God into [idolatrous] images of mortal man, or birds, or creeping things.

24 Because of this, God gave them over to the uncleanness of their hearts' desire, as they dishonored their own bodies with one another. [When we do not regard God as the authority over our life, then our lives become unrestrained - “anything goes” - which results eventually in all kinds of lusts and degrading acts.] 25 They also traded in the truth of God for something fake [idols], performing acts of worship towards created things rather than toward the Creator [of all things], who is forever blessed. Amen.

26 Because of this [false worship], God gave them over to shameful desires. Even the women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural. 27 In the same way, the men abandoned their natural sexual relations with women, and burned with lust towards one another. When men do shameful things with each other, they receive in themselves the necessary results of their wrongdoing. [There are many kinds of shameful sexual actions, which tend to result in diseases or other forms of destruction to the mind, body, and spirit, not as punishment but because they go against God's design.]

28 And because they did not value holding on to a knowledge of God, God allowed their minds to be unrestrained from harmful thoughts, which led them even further into shameful behavior. [Valuing knowledge of God protects our minds from harmful thoughts and actions.] 29 They have become filled with a desire to twist what is good, harm others, possess what is not theirs, and disrupt peace. They have nothing in them but jealousy, murder, strife, trickery, and evil intent. They gossip about others, 30 spread lies, hate God, put others down, pump themselves up, pretend to be what they aren't, invent evil schemes, rebel against authority. 31 They are without understanding, without honor, without love, without mercy. 32 They realize that it is the very judgment of God that committing such acts is worthy of death. But even so, they continue to do them and approve of others who do the same.

Discussion questions

1. Since Paul had influenced so many others, why was it so important to him to have an influence on the church in Rome? [vs 1-16]

Romans Chapter 1 discussion questionsns

2. Do you agree with Paul that the truths about God’s existence and who He is are clear from observing the created order? What would you say should have been obvious to everyone from seeing the created order?  If people did not see God in front of them, is Paul saying that is a matter of choice? [vs 17-20]

3. Why does Paul say that men and women become more and more deviant and unrestrained as they ignore or dishonor God? [vs 21-32]

Romans Chapter 2

Romans Chapter 2

Our judgment of others indicates our unrighteousness

It is just as inexcusable for you who pass judgment on the others [I have been describing], for you who judge [are covering up that you] do the same acts yourself, and so you are pronouncing judgment on yourself as well. [If we find ourselves critical of others for a particular sin, we need to examine ourselves to see if we are covering up our inclination toward the same sin.] God has the right to judge these things for he does it according to truth. But pointing the finger at others when we do the very same things will not allow us to escape God's righteous judgment.

Judgment ofothes indicates your own unrighteousness

Or do you despise the riches of God’s goodness and tolerance and patience [as he endures our sinfulness]? Do you not realize that it is the goodness of God that leads us to change our hearts? But it is your hardness of heart and resistance to change that stores up punishment for the [Judgment] Day when God’s anger and righteous judgment towards sin will be revealed.

Our works will be judged concerning righteousness

[On that Day of Judgment,] God will pay back men according to their actions [during their lives on the earth]For those who patiently continue to do good as they seek glory, honor, and immortality [as reward from God] will receive eternal life. For those who bring trouble, and steer away from the truth, but follow paths of unrighteousness, will receive God’s anger and punishment.

All will have their work judged

There will be great anger and distress for the soul of every man who does evil, for the Jew as well as the non-Jew. [Being part of the chosen people will not save your soul from God’s judgment.] 10 And there will be glory and honor and peace for those who actions were good, for the Jew as well as the non-Jew. 11 For God does not play favorites. [Being Jewish should have given an advantage in terms of being taught God’s word, but God judges how we live our life, no matter who and what we are.]

12 For whoever has sinned [as measured by] not following the Law is destined for destruction, and whoever has sinned when following the Law shall [likewise] be judged.  13 For it is not those who hear the Law who are in right standing before God, but those who actually follow the Law who will be judged righteous.

Outward marks do not produce inward obedience

14 Those who are not Jewish don’t have the Law, but when they instinctively follow the Law, they show that they have a law inside themselves, 15 and that the intention of the Law is already written in their hearts, their conscience telling them when their acts are right or wrong. So their own thoughts will be used to accuse them or defend them, 16 on the day when God shall judge the hidden thoughts of all men through Jesus the Anointed One, according to my account of the Good News.

Outwad marks do not produce inward obedience

[Those not guided by the written Law still have a knowledge of good and evil inside them, and when Jesus judges all men, those not under the Law will have the secret thoughts of their conscience revealed as evidence for or against them. Paul’s reference to “my account” is an indication every believer should have an account to share with others the essential points of the Good News of salvation through belief in Jesus.  For Paul, one of the essential points is that Jesus will be the final judge for all men. That this was part of Paul’s Gospel account can be seen in Acts 17:31 and 1 Corinthians 4:5.]

17 If you call yourself a Jew, then you make your boast on the Law 18 that you know God’s will and discern what’s best by following the instruction of the Law. 19 And you are convinced that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light for those in darkness, 20 an instructor of those untaught, a teacher to the immature, and that in the Law you have the formula for knowledge and truth.

21 So if you [have the knowledge and truth so you] can teach others, why haven’t you taught yourselves? You who teach that a man should not steal, aren’t you stealing? 22 You who teach that a man should not commit sexual sin, aren’t you committing sexual sin? And you who hate idols, aren’t you yourself robbing temples [taking home souvenirs for yourselves as though they are of value]23 You boast about God’s Law but you are dishonoring God by breaking that same Law.

24 The scripture [Isaiah 52:5] says, “Because of you, the [non-Jewish] peoples dishonor the name of God”. 25 It’s only if you obey the Law that your circumcision [that marks you as a Jew] has value. If you disobey the Law, you might as well not be circumcised. 26 Therefore, if those who aren’t circumcised follow the right ways specified in the Law, then the uncircumcised ones shall be considered [righteous by God] as though they were circumcised. [It’s not that being circumcised was supposed to make a Jewish person righteous, it was simply a mark that they were a member of the people group God had selected to demonstrate his ways to the world, which should have been motivation to keep the Law.]

27 And the uncircumcised one who keeps the Law will [have the right to] judge the one who is physically circumcised yet breaks the Law. For what marks one as Jewish - being physically circumcised? Or is it the inward circumcision of the heart? [Righteousness is motivated] from the spirit rather than [from following] the written Law, from a desire to please God rather than man.

Discussion questions

1. Is it necessarily wrong to point out what others do wrong? Do you agree with Paul, that people are more reformed in their behavior because of God’s love and kindness than they are because of fear of his punishment?  [vs 1-5]

Romans Chapter 2 discussion questions

2. Do you agree that men may know what is right even without a written law?  [vs 14-16]

3. What are some indicators that Paul is writing both for Jews and non-Jews? Do you think it is an advantage or a disadvantage to be circumcised as a Jewish man? Do you think it is an advantage or disadvantage to know the Law of Moses? [vs 1-27]

Romans Chapter 3

Romans Chapter 3

Jews not more righteous despite advantages over non-Jews

What then is the advantage of being a Jew? Or is there any value to circumcision? [Though the cutting off of a male’s foreskin was the mark of being part of God’s chosen people, the Jews (described in Genesis 17:10), submitting to “circumcision” is simply a stand-in for the responsibility for following all of God’s commands.] Actually, there are quite a few advantages! First, because they are the ones who were entrusted with God’s promises. So what if some of them did not respond with belief. Did their lack of faith cancel out the faithfulness of God? Of course not!  “Even if every man is a liar [Psalms 116:11], God is still true [to what he says].” Just as it is written [Psalms 51:4], “You [God] are always right in what you say. Your judgment will never be overturned.” [There may be times when it seems to us God has not kept his word, but it will always turn out that he has spoken truly, because he is God.]

Jews not more righteous despite advantages over non-Jews

“But if our unrighteousness makes God’s righteousness stand out, then isn’t it wrong of God to punish us [when we are doing him a favor by making him look good in comparison]?” I’m just saying what men say! And [they say,] “If God can’t punish us [without seeming unjust], then he certainly can’t judge the world!” For [they say], “If the truth of God has more clearly stood out to glorify him because of my falsehood, then why should I be judged as a sinner [since God takes advantage of it]?” Why not say then [, taking it to the extreme], “Let’s do evil so that good may come of it?” This is what some have accused me of saying, and they will be condemned [for trying to make me and our God look bad].

[Am I saying that] we [Jews] have done better [than the non-Jews since we have the scriptures]? No, for as we have already proved, both Jews and non-Jews all are under [the rule of] sin. 10 As it is written [in the following sayings of God]:

“None are righteous, not even one. 11 There is no one who understands and seeks after God. 12 They have all strayed away and become worthless. There is none who does what is right. No, not one!” [Psalms 14:1-3]
13 “Their throat is an open tomb! Their tongues are full of lies.” [Psalms 5:9]
“Snake poison is under their lips.” [Psalms 140:3]
14 “Their mouths are full of curses and bitterness.” [Psalms 10:7]
15 “Their feet are quick to shed blood. 16 Destruction and misery are their ways. 17 They have not known the way of peace.” [Isaiah 59:7-8]
18 “They do not look at God with reverence.” [Psalms 36:1]

19 We all know that everything [written] in the Law applies to those who are living under the requirements of the Law [the Jewish people], in order to stop all human excuses and bring the whole world [including the Jews] under God’s judgment. [The passages I just quoted from the Law indicate that the Jews, who live under the Law, fail in observing it. So, having the Law does not justify the Jews. Rather it makes clear they do not do any better in pleasing God than the non-Jews.] 20 For no one is righteous in your sight [Psalms 143:2], [not even seeking] to follow what the Law requires. Rather, the Law causes us to recognize sin. [The purpose of the Law is to reveal sin and our sinfulness. It was never designed to make us righteous.]

Righteousness through faith in Jesus

21 But now a way has been revealed to be made righteous, but not through the Law, and the Law and the Prophets testify to this way [as I will prove to you in a minute]22 God makes people righteous through their faith in Jesus, the Anointed One. This applies to all who believe [in Jesus] for there are no differences [from one person to another]. 23 All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. [No one behaved well enough to receive God’s approval and blessing.] 24 But everyone [who believes that Jesus died in our place and decides to follow him as Lord] has been made righteous through the benevolence of the redemption that is in the Anointed One, Jesus.

Righteousness through faith in Jesus

25 God considers [what Jesus did for us] to be the [blood sacrifice that makes] complete payment through [our] faith in his blood. [To receive that payment, we need to have faith that Jesus’ shedding of his blood in fact was accepted by God as payment of the penalty for our sins.] 26 This was God’s [way of demonstrating his] righteousness and his kind patience, to remove all past sins. In this present time, he is declaring that he is completely righteous and just, and he has declared us righteous as well as soon as we believe in Jesus.

27 Do we have anything then we can boast about? No, nothing [, because is is God's goodness that saves us]! What could we boast in? The Law? Our works? No, only “the law of faith”. [We can only be happy that we have followed the path of faith.]

28 In conclusion, therefore, a man is made righteous only through faith [in Jesus' righteousness being assigned to us as we place our faith in him], not by works of following the Law. 29 Is he God of the Jews only, or also of the non-Jews? He is also God for the non-Jews! 30 We see that there is only one God, who justifies those who are circumcised, by faith, and those who are not circumcised, by faith. 31 Does this mean that by faith we do away with the Law? No, not at all! [Actually, it is by faith] we can satisfy the Law.

Discussion questions

1. Has God been faithful to the Jews? Have the Jews been faithful to God? Then was there truly an advantage to being part of “the Circumcision”, the people chosen by God? [vs 1-4]

Romans Chapter 3 discussion questions

2. What excuses do we make for not following God’s ways? To what extent do we blame God rather than turn to him for his help? [vs 5-8]

3. According to scripture, is God surprised that men sin even though they have the Law? Why does God want all the world to be “under judgment”? [vs 9-20]

4. What is required for a man to be declared righteous by God? Does it make any difference if you are a Jew or a non-Jew? [vs 21-31]

Romans Chapter 4

Romans Chapter 4

Abraham’s faith made him father of all who believe

What then shall we say was demonstrated by Abraham, who is the father of our people? For if Abraham was made righteous by what he accomplished himself, then he had something to boast about, though no one boasts before God. Instead, what does the scripture [Genesis 15:6] say? “Abraham believed God, and righteousness was credited to his account”. When someone works, his pay is not considered a gift but rather what is owed him. But God treated [Abraham as] one who believed rather than who worked [to gain merit], declaring him innocent even though he [, like everyone else,] was guilty [of sin], thus counting his faith as righteousness [that cancelled his sin].

Abraham's faith made him father of all who believe

David also describes [Psalms 32:1-2] the blessedness of someone whom God credits as righteous without his having worked to earn it, “Blessed are those whose unrighteousness is removed and whose sins are cancelled. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not account sin.”

9 Does this blessedness apply to those who are circumcised [that is, the Jews] only, or also to the uncircumcised [the non-Jews]? For we are saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 When was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or when he was still uncircumcised? It was not after his circumcision, but before! 11 In fact, when he received the sign of circumcision, it was a mark he received to remind [him and us] of his faith. Thus, since he was uncircumcised [when he believed], he became the “father” of all the uncircumcised who believe. 12 He is also the father of those who are circumcised – that is, those who in addition to being circumcised also walk in the same steps of faith Abraham walked in before he was circumcised.

13 For [God made] the promise to Abraham and to his seed that they would inherit the world, not through [obedience to] the Law [which had not yet been given], but through the righteousness of faith. [Because of Abraham’s obedience through faith, God gave Abraham increasingly great promises - that he would receive all the land he was on (Genesis 12:7), that his descendants would be as numerous as the sand or stars (Genesis 13:14-17), that he would be the father of many nations (Genesis 17:4), and that the whole earth would be blessed through his descendants (Genesis 22:15-18).] 14 For if they were heirs through law, then faith is of no value and the promise worthless. [The point is that the promises were obtained because God was faithful and Abraham trusted God’s promises.]

15 [In fact, if you seek to be justified by the Law, you will find] the Law produces punishment instead [of righteousness][When we try to satisfy the Law but fall short of full obedience, our God who is holy, penalizes us when we break the commands of the Law.] But when there is no law, there can be no breaking of the law. 16 That’s why God determined that righteousness would be through faith, so that it would be his gift [rather than our effort which is destined to fail]. That allowed all of Abraham’s descendants to receive the promise – not only those who follow the Law, but also those who follow Abraham in faith. Abraham is therefore father of all of us [both Jew and non-Jew alike who walk in faith].

The faith that makes us righteous

17 Exactly as it was written [Genesis 17:4], “I have made you the father of many nations”, Abraham believed God, [knowing God is the one] who gives life to the dead and calls things into being that don’t yet exist. 18 [Though his situation seemed] beyond hope, Abraham more than hoped – he believed he would become the father of many nations, according to what had been spoken, and that the same would be true for his descendants.

The faith that makes us righteous

19 [Let me illustrate that] Abraham’s faith was not weak. He didn’t think about the deadness [inability to reproduce] of his own nearly one hundred-year-old body or the deadness of Sarah’s womb. [She was both barren and considerably past child-bearing age.] 20 Because of the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but was empowered by faith, giving glory to God. 21 He completely believed that God was fully able to perform what he had promised. 22 And because of that trust [in God], he was credited with righteousness [in God’s sight].

[When someone trusts you, it is easier for you to trust them. Because Abraham trusted God to the point of obeying him and acting on his word, even without evidence, and because Abraham knew that God would keep his word, God therefore trusted Abraham and treated him as a friend. This was despite Abraham’s occasional sin, such as treating Sarah as his sister rather than wife or trying to use his slave Hagar to give him an heir. Abraham was completely accepted in God’s eyes because of his faith.]

23 Yet it was not for Abraham’s benefit alone that the words were written [Genesis 15:6], “It was credited to him as righteousness”, 24 but also for us. For we will be credited as righteous if we trust in him who raised Jesus, our Lord, from the dead – 25 [Jesus,] who was betrayed [and executed to pay the penalty] for our offenses [against God] and was raised [to life] again to declare us righteous. [Abraham had to trust that life could come out of that which was barren and lifeless (his and Sarah’s bodies). Likewise, we must trust that Jesus died on our behalf to remove our sins and then rose to life again to confirm our righteousness and eternal reward.]

Discussion questions

1. Why was it so important to God that righteousness be a gift rather than be earned? Why isn’t faith considered effort, since it is apparently uncommon? [vs 1-8,13-16]

Romans Chapter 4 discussion questions

2. Which type of fatherhood does Paul seem to count as more valuable, by faith, or by blood? [vs 9-25]

3. How would you say Abraham was able to believe God’s promises, if he had no basis on physical evidence, and it seemed to be beyond hope? How then can you have faith for things that seem beyond hope? [vs 17-22]

4. Can you explain the similarity of the leap of faith involved in our trusting Jesus and Abraham trusting God to fulfill his promise to provide a son? [vs 23-25]

Romans Chapter 5

Romans Chapter 5

Benefits of faith in Jesus

Since we have been counted innocent of sin [in God’s sight] because of our faith [in Jesus’ having paid the penalty for our sins], as a result we now also have peace with God [our Father] through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. [We no longer need to fear God’s punishment for our sins and therefore no longer need to hide from him.] Through Jesus, we not only have access into this gift [of innocence] in which we now stand, but we are joyfully anticipating [experiencing] the full glory of God [, living with him in heaven forever when we die and receiving a resurrection body].

Benefits of faith in Jesus

3 In fact we rejoice [not only in our anticipation of eternal life after death but] also in our sufferings [now in this life], because we know that suffering produces persistence in us. And persistence makes us trustworthy, and trustworthiness results in hope. And our hope is not disappointed, because the love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. [Our decision to follow Jesus not only took away all guilt and gave us eternal life to look forward to, but we are given the power to endure and even prosper in the difficulties of this life. Because of our faith in Jesus, we win no matter what phase of our life we are in.]

6 For we were still helpless [before we chose to allow Jesus to help us], when [we learned the truth that] the Anointed One had already died at the appointed time for the ungodly [which included us]We would barely be willing to die for an innocent person, though maybe we would give our life for a really good person. But God showed us how much he loved us by the Anointed One dying for us when we were still sinners.

9 And since he has already made us innocent in his eyes through his blood [shed on our behalf], how much more then [we can be assured] we will be saved through him from God’s anger [on the Judgment Day when all souls are judged]10 If when we were enemies, we were made at peace with God through the death of his son, then how much more, [in addition to peace,] shall his life bring us salvation [from judgment]11 Not only that, but we can [thoroughly] enjoy what God has done for us through our Lord Jesus the Anointed One, since by him we have been [completely] ransomed. [It is amazing how free we are to live joyfully when we are no longer feel guilty and fearful towards our heavenly Father.]

Sin and death came through one man

12 Through one man [Adam], sin came into the world [and with it the inclination to sin], and through sin death [resulted]. Likewise, death spread to all men, since all sinned [as they followed their inclination to sin inherited from Adam][According to Exodus 20:5, iniquity, or the responsibility for deviation from God’s plan and purpose, is passed from one generation to the next, until someone takes responsibility and turns from sin. When a parent sins and does not repent, a door of sin is opened for all of the descendants of that parent. The children still have free will, but they will experience that opened door in the form of temptation. Sins of our ancestors and our own sins can be forgiven and completely washed clean when we confess and accept responsibility for these sins and receive forgiveness from God on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, according to 1 John 1:9. This corporate family responsibility for sin is the way God has designed the world so that sin can be stopped and erased.]

Sin and death came through one man

13 [Even] before the Law [was given from God through Moses], sin was [already] in the world, even though sin is not recorded [by men, or legal action taken against the sinner] when there is no law. 14 However, death [still] had its way [for all] between Adam and Moses, even for those who did not sin in the same way as Adam. [Even though there was not yet a basis for a keeping law on the earth by men, God had already declared the consequences of Adam’s sin, death, and it affected not only him but all his descendants, whether they had directly disobeyed God or not.] Adam set the precedent for the one [Jesus] who was to come. [As father of all humanity, what he did affected all men – they inherited both the inclination and the results of what he did. Jesus stood in for all men and thus became our spiritual father – and for all who accept Jesus as their redeemer and their Lord – they receive both the inclination and the results of what he did – which is to live an abundant life, following the Spirit.]

The gift of Jesus brings life to all men

15 But the gift [of God through Jesus’s death on our behalf] is different from the offense [of Adam’s original sin in a number of ways]. For through the one man’s offense [by believing the tempter rather than God], so many died, but how much more has God’s gift overflowed to so many through what Jesus freely gave us [by his trusting God even through a painful and humiliating death for the sake of others]16 And again, the gift of the one is so different from the sin of the other. Though one man’s sin led to the judgment of “guilty”, the gift [of Jesus’ death] resulted in the unearned declaration of “Innocent!” for many sinners.

The gift of Jesus brings life to all men

17 [Also,] through one man’s offense, death has ruled because of that one man, how much more will those who receive the overflow of God’s abundant favor and righteousness rule in life through the one man, Jesus the Anointed One! 

18 In conclusion, while the one sin [of Adam] caused all men to be condemned [with the sentence of “guilty” resulting in death], so by one man’s act of righteousness [Jesus’ death for us] we were made innocent, leading to [fullness of] life. 19 Similarly, while through one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one man, many shall be made righteous.

20 Furthermore, when the Law entered [through Moses], which would cause the offense to increase [because the Law brought into sharp relief the violation of God’s ways in every sin], how much more then did the gift [of innocence] increase [since no matter the degree of sin, Jesus’ death in our place took our punishment and wiped out our guilt]21 So that, as sin ruled [over all men] resulting in the death [of every man], grace [God’s gift of Jesus’ death in our place] rules through the righteousness of Jesus the Anointed One, resulting in eternal life [for all who make him their Lord].

Discussion questions

1. Are you living in the benefits of reconciliation with God? Do you walk in innocence or are you still scared of God’s judgment? Are you aware of God’s approval and love filling your heart as you walk through the trials of life? [vs 1-11]

Romans Chapter 5 disussion questions

2. What were the dire consequences for all mankind of Adam and Eve believing the deceiver and not trusting God’s goodness in the garden? How has that been reversed through Jesus’ death on the cross? [vs 12-21]

Romans Chapter 6

Romans Chapter 6

In the Anointed One we have died to sin

What then shall we say? [What is implied by all I have said so far?]  Shall we continue in sin, [knowing] that grace will increase? [Should we no longer be concerned about living a moral and loving life since Jesus’ sacrifice has paid the penalty for all our sins?] God forbid [such a thing]! We have died to sin [when we accepted Jesus as Lord and were baptized into Him], so how can we keep living in it! [Even though Jesus has provided an answer to our sin, why would we want to continue to live in sin in all its ugliness?]

In the Anointed One we have died to sin

[When we realized that Jesus’ dying in our place was God’s legal solution to our guilt and sentence as sinners, we received our redemption by accepting Jesus’ willing substitution for us. But when Jesus took our place, he did it to a deeper degree than we may have realized. Legally, in God’s sight, when he died, we actually died too, along with our legal responsibility for our sins. We were born again as new beings, free and innocent. When we were baptized, we enacted the truth that Jesus took our place forever and we are now “hidden in him” (Colossians 3:3). This identification with him now becomes both a force and a standard for our life. While our will is trying to live like Jesus, we now have a force at work to help us – our being “in him”. Where the sin of our ancestors opened the door to sin tendency and death, we now have received Jesus, opening the door to righteous living and life. Because we still have to live in our flesh in a fallen world, so we still have to fight through those forces that draw us to sin. But with the help of the Spirit and the truth of our identification with Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are no longer slaves to our flesh and to sin.]

Don’t you know that whoever was baptized into the Anointed One Jesus was [in fact] baptized into his death? Therefore, we were buried with him when we were baptized into his death, so that, just as the Anointed One was raised from the dead by the glorious Father, we also walk in new life. For if we were planted together [as seeds buried in the ground] when we died with him, so were we with him in his resurrection [, rising as a plant from the ground][As soon as we believed and chose to receive Jesus as our Lord and savior, we received our identity with Jesus, which included death of old self and birth of the new. When we were baptized, we enacted the truth of this.]

We know this, that when our “old man” was crucified together with him, the body of sin was destroyed, so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin. For when you die, you are freed from sin! Now, if we are dead with the Anointed One, we have faith that we also live with him. Knowing that the Anointed One, having been raised from the dead, will never die again, death no longer rules over him [or us][Jesus loved us enough to go through the constraints and temptations of living on planet earth. Once he went through the crucifixion for us and rose again, he must have felt wonderfully free. No more temptation and no more constraint!]

10 The death he died was death to [the power of] sin [to tempt him] once and for all, so that living [since he was raised from the dead], he lives for God [totally without distraction]11 In the same way, you are to recognize yourselves as truly dead to sin, but alive to God, through the Anointed One, Jesus. [Jesus is now free from all temptation. Because we still live in a body of flesh in a fallen world, we still experience temptation and fleshly urges. But it helps us tremendously to know that we no longer are judged guilty because, in the eyes of God, we legally died when Jesus died. We also were born again, innocent and free. If we are no longer judged guilty, and if we are innocent and free, we may as well live up to our legal status. We won’t live in our full freedom until we receive our resurrection bodies. Until then, we live free through Jesus’ freedom.]

We ar slaves to God not to s

We are slaves to God not to sin 

12 Therefore, do not let sin rule in your mortal body so that your body will obey its desires. Nor offer any part of your body as instruments to help accomplish sin. 13 Instead, give yourselves to God as those who are alive [though once] dead. And [give] your [body] parts as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have lordship over you, for you are not under the Law but under grace. [If we were still under Law then we would still be under the rule of sin and death.  But under grace, we have received the gifts bought by Jesus - innocence before God, death to sin, and eternal life.]

14 What [else is implied by this argument] then? Should we keep sinning because we are not under the Law but under grace? God forbid! 16 Don’t you realize that any time you give yourselves over to servitude, you actually have become slaves to the one you obey, whether to sin [leading] to death, or to obedience [leading] to righteousness. 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were slaves to sin now are obedient with your whole hearts to the teaching you have received, 18 and being set free from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness. [It’s not that you can’t sin, but because you are now free from the eternal penalty of sin, in love and gratitude you choose to listen to the Spirit and follow Jesus.]

19 I need to speak [more graphically], just as men speak. Because of the weakness of your flesh [when sin ruled over you], you used to let your body parts themselves be slaves to uncleanness and sin for sinful purposes. But now you have turned the parts of your body over to righteous living so you could be set apart for God. 20 And when you were slaves to sin, you were free from righteousness. [You didn’t even think about living for God.] 21 But what was the fruit of that kind of living? Only the kind of things that now make you feel shame! For the final outcome of all of that is death.

22 But now that you have been set free from sin and become slaves to God, you have a fruitfulness of holy living and your final destination is eternal life! 23 For the wages we earn from sin are death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus, the Anointed One, our Lord!

Discussion questions

1. Did you realize that when you said “Yes” to Jesus, legally your old self died and that you have a new self with a new heart and the Holy Spirit on your inside? Does recognizing you are totally free of penalty for your sinful thoughts and behavior make you want to sin more or to totally avoid sin? If you are free of any penalty for sin as far as God is concerned, do you think other people will totally let you off the hook? [vs 1-9]

Romans Chapter 6 discussion questions

2. Does knowing you are in Jesus and He is in you help you to live free of sin? Why, or why not? [vs 6-13]

3. Do you think that it’s true that you used to be a slave to sin? What does that mean? What would it be like to be a slave to righteousness? If you are still a slave, why is that better? [vs 14-23]

Romans Chapte 7

Romans Chapter 7

We are no longer married or bound to the Law

[But you may think, if I follow the Law, I won’t be a slave to sin. I want you to see that the Law actually only increases my sin. I need to have something more fruitful operating in my life than the Law.]  I am speaking now, brothers, to you who are familiar with the Law. Do you realize the Law has dominion over a man only while he is alive? For a woman who has a husband is bound by the Law to her husband when he is alive, but when her husband dies, she is released from her husband by the Law. So then, while her husband is alive, if she lives with another man, she will be called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is free from the law [that bound her] and will not be an adulteress if she marries another man.

We are no longer married or bound to the Law

4 In the same way, my brothers, you died to the Law through the [crucifixion of the] body of the Anointed One [once you accepted him as your redeemer who took your place], so that you can become married to someone else – to him who was raised from the dead – so that you could become fruitful to God. [We were bound to the Law as though married, but it was a barren marriage without children. We died through the death of Jesus when we chose him as our substitute. We became part of him, and we died when he died, and we rose when he rose to life again. Since we have died, our marriage is ended, and we are no longer bound to the Law and our former sinful way of life. This is true for us even if we are non-Jews, with no written law, yet still trying to be righteous through our own efforts. Instead, we are united with the Anointed One, and this marriage is not barren, but is very fruitful because of his life in us.]

5 For when we were in the flesh [before we were born again through our faith in Jesus], the desire of our sins, aroused by the Law, worked in our bodily parts to bear fruit toward death. [The life force that God put into man, once warped by sin, caused us to seek whatever we desire. And the Law through its rules, while making it clearer what was wrong, only heightened our cleverness to find ways around the rules to serve ourselves.] But now we have been set free from the Law to which we were bound, since we have died, so that we can serve in newness of [life following] the Spirit rather than the old way of [life following] the letter [, trying through the effort of our will to control our sinful pursuit of fulfilling our desires].

Sin uses the Law to bring about evil desire

[You are wondering,] am I saying the Law is sinful? Of course not! I didn’t even recognize sin except through the Law. [For example,] I wouldn’t even recognize [the sin of] of desiring [what’s not mine] until the Law said, “Don’t desire [what’s not yours][Exodus 20:17]But sin, taking [advantage of] the opportunity through the commandment, brought to fullness all the desire that’s in me. [Adding Law did nothing to curb my fleshly desire.  If anything, the Law simply fed my independent streak as I sought how to bypass the Law.]

Sin uses te Law to bring about evil desire

9 There was once a time when I was living without the Law. [I hadn’t read or heard it yet.] But once the commandment, “Do not desire what is not yours”, came, sin rose up, and I died. 10 And I found the commandment [given] for life [instead to be used] for death. 11 For sin, taking the opportunity, through the commandment, fooled me and, through that, killed me.

[In Genesis 2:17, Adam and Eve were given a single commandment, “Don’t eat the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”, which was given for their protection. But sin, in the form of the serpent, fooled Eve and Adam, twisting what was intended for good to bring about evil, and thus led to the spiritual and eventually physical death of Adam and Eve. In the same way, our mind with its sin nature intact, takes every command given to protect us, and twists it, believing we are being denied something good, and we are fooled into sin. We know this is true by observing “innocent” children who work hard at a very young age to get around their parent’s protective rules.]

12 Even though the Law is holy and the commandment is holy and righteous and good, 13 [are we saying] that what was good [when God created it] caused me to die? No! Instead, this just reveals the evilness of sin, that it could take the commandment, which was good, and cause it to bring about death. 

14 We know that the Law is of the Spirit but [, prior to my inviting Jesus into the center of my life] I am a fleshly man, bound to sin [, as though I were sold as a slave to a master]15 [Prior to receiving God’s gift of redemption through Jesus,] I don’t understand why I don’t do the [good] things I intend to do, and I do the [bad] things I don’t want to do. 16 Since I don’t want to do these things I do, that means I agree the Law [or commandment] is good. [If I were truly evil through and through, I would reject the Law.]  17 Therefore, it can’t really be me doing these things [since I don’t want to do them], it is sin that lives in me [which takes over and leads me to evil]

18 For I know [also] that nothing good lives in me [that is, until I invite Jesus into my heart], because I have the desire to do good but not the ability to perform what is good. 19 I don’t do the good things I want to do, but instead I do the evil things I don’t want to do. 20 Now, since I don’t want to do the things I do, it’s not me that does it, but sin that lives in me.

21 [Until I give my life to Jesus,] I find this law – when I want to do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I am pleased by God’s law in my inner self [my mind]23 But I see a different law in the rest of me, warring against the law of [God in] my mind and taking me captive to the law of sin in the rest of me. 24 [This battle makes] me a miserable man! Who will rescue me from the body [that leads me to] death?

25 Thanks to God through Jesus, the Anointed One, our Lord [that he has provided the way][I can sum up the battle this way - until I give my life to the Anointed One,] I serve the law of God with my mind, but my flesh [still serves] the law of sin. 

Discussion questions

1. Orthodox Jews are truly married to the Law. In Jesus’ time, this would have been especially the case for a Pharisee. What do you think Paul actually experienced when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus? Do you think it was like dying and starting a new life? Was he married to the Law, and now married to Jesus? How about you – were you married to human effort? Are you still? [vs 1-6]

Romans Chapter 7 discussion questions

2. Do young children improve in behavior when instructed what to do or not do (i.e., “given the law”)? Does their behavior get better or worse? How much do children learn to control themselves through guilt and shame? Do you agree with Paul that humans want to and believe they can do better to “do the right thing” but there is a war on the inside that we generally don’t and can’t win on our own? [vs 7-25]

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