Redone 08/06/10 ©2012 Dr. Irene Bonney Faulkes DD
Paul was about to visit Rome when he wrote this letter around 57 A.D. He visited Rome about 60 A.D.
From 47 to 57 A.D. Paul had evangelized the areas on the Aegean Sea - Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia and Asia. Along the main roads and in the chief cities the gospel had been preached and churches planted. From all those areas and other places thousands of traders and others went right across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, India, Tibet, China, Japan and on to Indonesia. Many were converted to Christ and churches came into being. This began in the first century and continued for centuries.
Then persecution and antagonistic rulers caused most of Christianity in those places to die down. This history has been unknown to the West as there were few manuscripts available to scholars. In Europe, churches came into being in different countries, including England, Scotland and Ireland and followed that of Rome around the beginning of the fifth century. Now this history of Asia has come to light.
The church did grow and it did not change for at least one hundred years. During that time millions were persecuted and even killed.
In 56-57 A.D. Paul was at Corinth with Gaius, with a view to visiting Jerusalem soon after. He was to hand over a gift of money from the Gentiles, to the poor, 1 Corinthians 16:1-3; 2 Corinthians 8:1-6; Galatians 2:1-10. These verses, as taught by many in the West, do not relate to Pastors and churches as being recipients but the poor believers. Paul was a pioneer, an apostle. He wanted to go to new areas, Romans 15:28. He hoped to go to Spain. En route he would see Rome which he had always wished to visit. He was a Roman citizen, Acts 22:28. There were already churches there.
Notice that there is no mention of any "leading of the Lord" as some people "religiously" follow or of having a "covering"!
It appears from history that there were a few copies of this letter made and sent to other churches. The letter taken to Rome was still there after the persecution of 64 A.D.
As there was squabbling between Jewish Christians and Gentile believers, Paul sets forth in his letter the answer to that major problem. He commences with both Jew and Gentile before Christ, under Law and law of conscience in the heart. This leads him on to the necessity under the gospel for faith and not works of law, the outworking of it all being by the Spirit. He proclaims the righteousness of God as being of most importance. Sometimes we people have our eyes on ourselves so much that we tend to forget the effect of our sin upon God, which is far more important than our emotions and human thoughts about the matter.
This righteousness is expressed through His dealings with Jew and Gentile who now together consist of the Israel of God. Love, each for the other, is to overcome the way each group kept apart from the other. In chapters 9-11 Paul outlines the victorious working out of their problems in now what has become the true people of God through the gospel.
Phoebe is about to go to Rome. Since his long-time companions, Priscilla and Aquila are back in Rome (who with their house church are the obvious first recipients of this letter, 16:3-4), he sends along this, "Spirit gift", the Letter to the Romans, with Phoebe. He trusts that it will be his present means of "having fruit" among them, as in verse 13. As we look at 1 Corinthians 5:3 -4, we see that Paul, who considered himself to be a prophet 1 Corinthians 14:3-6, also considered his letters to serve as something like prophetic words, given by the Spirit. They were so to be received when read in the church, in the meetings where the Spirit was present collectively and was to be manifested.
The book can be said to be divided in this way. It commences with the problem of sin in both the Jew and the Gentile world. It shows that the wages of sin is death but that there is a gift of life from God. This is through Jesus Christ our Lord. The end of the Law for righteousness has come about and instead the way of faith in Christ alone is emphasized. Even Abraham came by that way of faith.
Grace is elaborated upon, the grace of God in Christ Jesus. Because of faith in Him, His crucifixion and resurrection, we are declared righteous. This has brought us into a position of favour or grace before God and enables us to reign in life.
Christ’s crucifixion was a matter of us being crucified with Him, risen with Him and living in and with Him. Thus the carnal man has been dealt with and instead of yielding the members of our body to sin we now yield them to God. The way of justification by faith alone without Law is exemplified.
Paul deals with the problem of sin that controls the carnal nature and cannot be overcome without Christ who has brought power over sin. This is by the Spirit of God and the believer has thus left the place of condemnation and come into living by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is set out as the One who is the enabling power.
The matter of natural Israel is dealt with and Paul shows how God has always reserved for Himself an election. This is the remnant and he magnifies the election of God citing instances from the Old Testament, such as the choosing of Jacob above Esau. He also shows how God had priests who did not bow the knee to Baal in the time of Elijah. There are two kinds of Israel, the natural one and the spiritual one. This latter is the olive tree, with Christ as the root, the natural branches, being believing Jews, brought back in along with the Gentiles who originally had no part in it. A time for the coming in of the Gentiles is given but not specified. They, with the remnant of natural Israel, will form the new Israel of God, that olive tree with Christ as its stump.
This leads Paul to give praise to the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God. He ascribes wonder to Him who has done all this without any human input.
In chapters 12-16 Paul shows the body of Christ with many members, setting out some principles of righteous living. This includes life here in the nations with their governments and powers. He goes on to deal with Jewish observances and their intrusion into the church in Rome. He speaks against quarrelling and puts forward a case for love and consideration. Everything they do naturally is to be in faith. The fact that there are Jewish and Gentile believers in the church in Rome has its problems but Paul encourages them to be at peace together in the assembly of the saints. Both parties are in the same body of Christ.
The last chapter commends various servants of
the Lord, who are servants, or ministers, in the same sense as he is. It is
vital that we take note of the fact that there are a few female servants,
similar to what he is, mentioned here. There are about nine females who are
termed apostles and some pastor/teachers at least.
Romans 1:1. Romans begins with a long greeting. He gives a thanksgiving, prayer and a report about his ministry and his relationship to the church in Rome Paul called himself a "doulos" a servile term to mean a "slave". He was "A called apostle" - kaleo, "called to assume an office He had been "separated" by God from all mankind for his apostleship, set apart for one purpose, the gospel.
He was a divinely called and sent ambassador of the Lord Jesus, sent by Him on a commission with credentials. The commission was to evangelise the Gentile world. His credentials included miracles, as those given by the Lord Jesus until the end of the gospel age, as in Mark 16:17,18. He said we were “to go and preach the gospel to all creation”. Creation will exist until the end of this age. He said that signs would follow.
It was also that Paul preached in the power, dunamis, of the Holy Ghost. He says this in 1 Thessalonians. 1:5 Our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians2:4,5 he said “my proclamation was not with plausible words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, dunamis.
Romans 1:2. This shows that the gospel follows on from the old covenant as the fulfilled promise. Christ is of royal David's descent verses 2-3. Paul and the early church, with its apostles etc. were convinced that the saving acts of Christ were foretold by the prophets. The prophets mentioned in this passage refer to the Old Testament prophets. The prophets gave us the Scriptures by the Spirit of Christ, 2 Timothy 3:16, "All scripture is inspired by God"; 1 Peter 1:10,11, "the prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours made careful search and inquiry, inquiring about the person or time that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated when it testified in advance to the sufferings destined for Christ and the subsequent glory".
Romans 1:3. "Concerning his Son, who came from the seed of David according to the flesh", a. See 2 Corinthians 1:20. "According to the flesh". Verb “came” means "became" as John used, John 1:14. Christ entered into a new state or condition by taking on a human body and putting Himself under human limitations. Flesh here refers to the physical part of man, His body. Re His earthly descent, His birth was like that other men. Of course, His conception was different.
Romans 1:4. "Concerning his Son, who came from the seed of David according to the flesh, who was declared Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness from the resurrection from the dead Jesus Christ our Lord". declared Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord."
This seems to be a kind of creed, of which there were a few. They would have been sung in many of their meetings.
In relation to the divine essence of Jesus Christ it was "declared". The resurrection declared Him to be what He truly was. He was the Son of God in conception, in the womb, in birth, in boyhood, in adulthood, in ministry, on the Cross, in death and in resurrection.
Here is the first mention of the Spirit. It is Christological. It would be for Jewish Christian readers. The gospel, which is about Christ, is the fulfilment of God’s promises in the Old Testament. Christ is the fulfilment of Jewish messianic hopes as in verse 3.
The promises include God's blessing on the Gentiles. That is the theme of this letter.
Spirit in this verse means "in keeping with or with respect to, the Spirit of holiness." The "flesh" has to do with "the sphere of his human life". The Spirit phrase has to do with "the sphere of Spirit life". This also refers to the sphere of our final eternal existence, which will be Spirit life in a wonderful way. Thus, very much like the first two lines of the hymn about Christ n 1 Timothy 3:16, these two phrases describe what is characteristic of our two kinds of life. The one hat is the flesh is truly human and belonging to the present evil age that is passing away. The other, the spiritual part, is belonging to the End Time (Age) begun by the resurrection and the coming of the Spirit.
The sonship is declared in the resurrection. It refers to His Divine essence, that of Spirit of holiness. See 2 Corinthians 3:16,18; 4:5. "turns to the Lord", "the Lord is the Spirit"; "this comes from the Lord, the Spirit"; "we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord". In contrast to his earthly descent, Christ's heavenly existence as "Son of God with power" is to be understood as of the Spirit. Christ is both the content and therefore the source of the gospel. He gives "God's righteousness" freely to all who trust him. The Spirit, in whose sphere the exalted "Son of God with power" now lives, is not simply the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit of holiness itself who comes to us through Christ, God and Man, and therefore understands us. He is the One who brings about the "righteousness of God" in the lives of the believers, Jew and Gentile.
We notice two things about Christ –
a. Regarding his earthly life, it is shown that Christ fulfilled Jewish messianic hopes by being of the "seed of David." He descended from David. All the promises to David find their fulfilment in Christ. The Old Testament is full of shadows. The New Testament shows the realities.
b. His earthly life was followed by his present exalted status as "Son of God with power," because He was raised from the dead.
The contrast seems obviously to be between his being Son of God "in weakness" during his incarnation and his having received divine "appointment" as Son of God with power on the basis (or from the time) of the resurrection.
The true belief about the Father and the Son in the New Testament is found in 1 Corinthians 8:9 “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist. And one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”
Swete, a scholar (favourite one of mine) says, “As the Word before the incarnation dispensed the Spirit as His own, now that He is made man He sanctifies all with the Spirit... When the Lord gave the Holy Spirit to His disciples, He showed His own Godhead and majesty, and that He was not the Spirit's inferior but His equal...Through whom and from whom could the Spirit be given but through the Son, whose Spirit He is".
This passage refers to the Spirit in such a way that, although he is closely related to the Son, indeed in 8:9-11 He will be declared to be the "Spirit of Christ". He is plainly distinct from Christ. The passage does not say that Christ has now assumed Spirit existence, neither does it imply that the Spirit is the "means" whereby God raised Christ from the dead. Here, God himself raised Christ from the dead, with no reference here to his having done so by His Spirit. Rather the Spirit in the passage probably has to do with the heavenly sphere of life, into which Christ by resurrection has now entered, and into which all who are his will finally enter.
Romans 1:5-7. Paul the Apostle was to win men to: -
a. become obedient to Christ.
b. put their faith in Him.
There were other apostles, one or more, who had founded the church of Rome, Romans 11:13; 15:16,18. To "saints" "holy persons", are not people of the world but the same as "holy people" in Exodus 19:6.
Romans 1:8. This means "the faith as you hold it", that it is not "like all other Christians", maybe relating to Judaizers.
Romans 1:9. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son (to whom I render spiritual service in proclaim the gospel of His Son). "Spiritual" service means "in" or "by" the Spirit. This service was from his inner man but done in the body. It also refers to the Spirit of God at work in his own spirit. He uses the term in 1 Thessalonians 5:23;1 Corinthians 7:34, where there is a clear connection between the human spirit and the divine (cf. Romans 8:16). Note the four grace benedictions, where he prays for "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to be with your spirits" (Galatians 6:18; Philemon 25; Philippians 4:23; 2 Timothy 4:22).
He serves God with his own spirit: but he does so, as always, because his spirit is yielded to the Spirit of God. Just as the Spirit prays or sings through his own spirit 1 Corinthians 14:15, so the Spirit is the source of Paul's serving God through his spirit, “I serve with my spirit."
There he says believers in Christ "serve by the Spirit of God and put no confidence in the flesh." The contrast is between that which belongs to the former covenant, in the former age and that which belongs to the present Gospel Age and covenant, through the work of the Spirit. As in 2 Corinthians 3:3-11, the new covenant of Spirit has done away with the old. Under the New Covenant we are baptized with the Holy Ghost and pray, worship and intercede in the Spirit. This always relates to speaking in other tongues.
Paul serves God "with my spirit". Life in the Spirit, the new service to God (cf.12:1), contrasts to all former ways of serving, especially all of those related to the time of the Law. Service to God is now rendered by one's spirit by means of the Spirit, as over against that rendered in the flesh that is clinging to the Law. The "grace that has been given" him (verse 15) is a way Paul speaks about his own ministry. His ministry is described as by the Spirit working, also Romans 15:18-19.
This is a Trinitarian text. Just as in Philippians 3:3, one serves God, by the Spirit, because of the prior activity of Christ (in Philippians 3:3 it is said as “boasting in Christ Jesus and not in the flesh”). He speaks of serving God in his proclamation of the gospel of his Son.
Romans 1:10,11. Paul although he submits himself to God’s will, wishes to visit Rome. Was this his own human wish or was it a Spirit impressed wish? He does not say. We do not know. Believers can worry too much about whether it is the will of God. ”For I long to see you, so that I might share with you some Spiritual gift so that you might be strengthened". This is a substitute for a personal visit. Since he cannot go, 15:25-29, Paul writes this letter to express what he would have said had he been able to be among them.
He wishes to impart some spiritual gift. It
is “pneumatikon charisma”, "a favour received without merit on the part of the
one receiving". It is something provided under the gospel he preaches. Paul uses
it to mean extraordinary powers given by the Holy Spirit, such as gifts of
healing, tongues, prophecy etc. As in Romans 1:11, "Impart" is "to share a thing
with any one". It is not to transfer something or give something.
This belief is common in getting people slain. laughing or some other operation. It is wrong and incorporates the work of the flesh, sometimes of demons. The English-Greek Dictionary explains it as above. We cannot "give" or "impart" spiritual things as we do money, for instance. We can only share what we have, as the Giver is God. "Metadidomi" is the Greek word used for all these Scriptures. In Romans 1:11 it has a different meaning as stated above. Any minister who "imparts" something in the sense of "giving" as is common with Charismatics and often Pentecostals, can be imparting something not from God. (Particularly saying they impart the Anointing, or Getting Slain i.e. falling over). It is soulish, carnal and demonic. Watchman Nee writes about the soul very clearly, showing the demonic is the soulish. The heathen know evil spirits in the soul but believers know God in the spirit by the Holy Spirit.
In the Old Testament, the word translated "imparted" in Job 39:17 "neither has He imparted to her understanding" means “deal, distribute, divide, give away a part”. It is to be translated "share", as in other places in the Old Testament. The same meaning is here. God is the Giver who gives a share Under the New Testament in our ministry, He "impart" as we exercise His spiritual gifts. We cannot impart if we consider the true meanings. The doctrine of impartation now prevalent is therefore wrong. Thus we see God gives people a share of what He has given us. In that way we share it with them. However, we do not “impart” or "give" We certainly do not give in the sense we give something as say, money. It is with God we have to pray and receive. It is always by the Holy Spirit working within us even if He is working through someone else for us. Man likes to do it himself.
The Spirit is the Risen Lord’s present existence among us. In the Spirit, Paul serves the Risen Lord. It is by the Spirit with His Gifts that Paul hopes to come among the Roman believers with truths of the gospel. His manner of preaching was in the power of the Spirit. In other epistles he taught that there were ways for the church to meet with gifts of the Spirit, the power of the Spirit, ministration of the Spirit and exhortations. All are from the Spirit and given by the Spirit.
Romans 1:12,13a-15. Here is pointed out Paul’s desire to preach the gospel in Rome.
Romans 1:13b-15. "In order that I might have fruit also among you.” He wanted to go and preach the gospel in Rome. This is like 15:15. Paul shows his concern is always about the Gentiles receiving the gospel.
Romans 1:16,17. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek or Gentile”. The gospel itself is shameful, of One crucified in weakness". 2 Corinthians 13:4. "He is not ashamed to preach this shameful gospel".
The word “dunamis” is used for power. It means here, “mighty power” or “miracle power”. This is the same kind of power that one also receives in the baptism with the Holy Ghost that gives us “dunamis”. This means “worker of miracles”, “the miracle itself” and “miracle power”.
This being the case, we should never esteem the miracle of speaking with other tongues or languages, or miracles of healing, to be higher than the miracle of salvation. These are included in the miracle of salvation but do not bring salvation. The preaching of the gospel, particularly in the power of the Holy Ghost as Paul did, has great miracle power.
We should not consider the gifts of healings, miracles and faith from the Holy Ghost to be more important than praying in other tongues that comes from Jesus Christ who baptizes us with the Holy Ghost. Praying in other tongues is the most important and chief supernatural operation we can receive. It is far more important to have believers being baptized with the Holy Ghost and speaking in other tongues than any healings, miracles or raising of the dead. Praying in other tongues is meant to be a continuous experience in every believer’s life. Just because it is not so does not take away from its importance. It is of most importance.
The gospel in its message is of such miracle power that it brings about the miracle of the new birth, the miracle of being changed into the image of Christ and the miracle of eternal life within. The principal thing is the message of the gospel which is the dunamis of God for salvation. Speaking in other tongues or performing of miracles of healing are not the power of God unto salvation.
This gospel has to do with power and salvation, power made perfect in weakness, 2 Corinthians 12:9 and salvation that lies in the future, Romans 13:11, "For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers". The "salvation ready to be revealed in the last time", at the second coming of the Lord, 1 Peter 1:5. It will be complete when the Lord returns in glory.
Many may think that healing meetings show the “power of God” to effect salvation. The gospel is that power of God. From the beginning it was marked by power, in the miracles, in the resurrection and in the work of the Holy Spirit.
The gospel is therefore the operation of God's power working when heard, towards the salvation of those who believe. The gospel itself is a power leading either to life or to death, 1 Corinthians 1:25; It is God's power at work in the Gospel, not man's. It is not human goodness or wisdom, nor works done in obedience to any law. It is not ‘accepting” Christ, “deciding” or using “one’s will”. The gospel is the operation of God's power acting to salvation, for everyone who has faith. According to Ephesians 2:9 that faith is given by God.
It is the divine way to salvation. "God’s righteousness" is shown in it. On God's side, salvation means the operation of His righteousness that is not simply His attribute of being right, or righteous. It also is His activity in doing right, seeing right done. Isaiah 51:5; Psalm 24:5.
Man is required to be found righteous before God. He must get a favourable verdict. If guilty, there must be punishment. Before salvation can be completed, righteousness must be shown. God, the righteous judge, must do righteous judgment in His court. In this court, man must get the verdict, "Righteous" to be acceptable to Him. Paul says it is now being revealed.
As a Jew, Paul had believed that man's righteousness before God was by obeying the law. He refers to the situation in the church in Rome. The point of this letter as in Galatians and elsewhere (2 Corinthians 3; Philippians 3) is about the Gentiles coming in with Jews to the covenant promises made to Israel. Together, they form Israel, a new kind of Israel.
The gospel is God’s power unto salvation for everyone who believes, Gentile as well as Jew. In the gospel God's righteousness has been made available to the one who has faith, since "the righteous will live by their faithful trust in God". The gospel is God's power unto salvation for every one who believes, 1:16-17. Such a gift of righteousness is for all who have faith, Romans 1:18-3:20. Paul's point is that the Jew also is related to God if he has faith in Christ. Therefore there is no point in keeping Law or in being circumcised.
As a Christian, he now believed that God, gracious as Jesus had shown Him to be, justified men freely on the basis not of works done in obedience to the law but of faith. It took place because God had sent His Messiah to suffer humiliation and death. God manifested His righteousness so that faith could come. This is required of man as his attitude in responding to God's grace. God's righteousness is revealed on the basis of nothing but faith, "from faith to faith”, Romans 1:17. This is a quotation of Habakkuk 2:4. It could be that we go from faith under the Old Testament to faith under the gospel. See Psalm 84:7; "from strength to strength"; "from glory to glory", 2 Corinthians 3:18; "from grace to grace", John 1:16.
The source of giving righteousness to man or that which is the means whereby righteousness is given, is faith, God-given faith. It is a trustful receiving of the truth about Christ, His death and resurrection. In this, the person realises he cannot do anything towards having salvation and righteousness. He knows he has poverty of spirit, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.
The righteousness of God saves through faith every one who believes. This salvation through the atonement of Christ has many parts or aspects. It brings eternal life, forgiveness and deliverance from sin, cleansing, justification, sanctification and redemption. "It is he who is righteous (justified) by faith that will live (be saved).
Romans 1:18,19. Paul begins speaking about the great mass of paganism at his time. Paganism filled the earth. Pagan literature dates well back to B.C. and at the time of Christ and until the present it shows its terrible evil. Why? Because of man in his wickedness refused to know about God. This was not blind unbelief because the knowledge of the true God was open to men. Instead of appreciating the glory of the Creator by looking at the universe which He created, they gave to created things that glory belonging to God alone. With idolatry comes terrible immorality.
There is an example of God’s hatred of idolatry in 2 Samuel 5:19-21 David defeated the Philistines at Baal-perazim because the Lord gave them into his hand, "And they abandoned their idols there".
The wrath of God is not revealed in the gospel, except to fall upon Jesus Christ on the Cross. It is revealed in the facts of history. God is continually angry at the world. It is righteous anger. Verse 18, “Who hold the truth in unrighteousness" means "Who suppress the truth (of God)."
Romans 1:20. Here is moral blindness. In Psalm 106:20, "They exchanged their glory for the image of an ox that eats grass." Think of the golden calf, Exodus 32. God has made in nature the revelation of Himself. It is not the personal God that any man may know through nature. He can be known only by the revelation of Himself in His Son (through the Spirit). Through nature, they could know His divine attributes, His majesty and glory, that there is a supreme Being who created all; to whom worship and obedience are due.
Romans 1:21-23. “To know God” here is not a saving knowledge of Him. It is a knowledge of Him as the God who has been revealed through the light of nature as Creator. Failure to glorify Him made men unthankful for His gifts.
“Changed" - the human race exchanged the glory of God for idols. Man exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for a likeness which is an image of corruptible man. "Image" is a likeness. From worship of images of men they went to worship of birds, beasts, snakes. Serpent-worship was common in Chaldea, in Egypt, now India.
Romans 1:24. God it was who gave them up. In Acts 7:42, regarding the Israelites "God ...gave them up to worship the host of heaven". Since men gave up God and worshipped the creature, God could do nothing but give men into the control of the sinful things they preferred to God.
When men followed their depraved, sinful natures, God allowed them to do this. The result was immorality of the vilest kind. Sin begets sin. Darkness brings deeper darkness. Divine wrath hardens men and hurries them on to more depravity. "Lusts" means "a passionate craving, longing, desire" - a sinful one. This is happening even in our Western nations supposedly Christian.
Romans 1:25-27. “Change" is "to exchange one thing for another". Instead of the truth of God, men took on a lie. This is the way of the world outside of Christ. God gave them up to degrading passions that are affections, a disgrace, the whole world of active lusts and desire. There is a wage for such perversion. Jude 11, uses the "error" (same word) as the idolatry and fornication of Baal-peor into which the Israelites were seduced by Balaam's counsel, Numbers 25:1; 31:16.
Thus God gave them up to their terrible lesbianism and homosexuality. This divine punishment was severe, as they were given over to these terrible conditions and not just to evil desires.
Romans 1:28. "Their own depraved reason". Man's ignorance is deliberate, "did not like to retain God in their knowledge". They ignored the truth and took on the lie. As a result, "God gave them up" to the consequences. A "tireless (or debased)" mind is one not able to understand and find salvation. This was how He showed His "wrath". God's wrath is because of His holiness. It is against wickedness and rebellion. Wherefore God...gave them up..." verses 24,26,28.
Romans 1:29-31. "Being filled" is a completed action in the past, having present results. These who had disapproved of holding God in their knowledge were completely filled as a consequence with the twenty-one sins mentioned in these verses.
"Without natural affection" is without love of parents for children, children for parents, husband for wife and wife for husband.
Romans 1:32. "Inexcusable" means “deserve to
die”. No one can say he is innocent of the charge of failing to live up to the
light he has. Neither can the heathen. The whole of mankind is morally bad and
knows this is so. No one stands innocent at the judgment bar of God But needs
His mercy and pardon.
Idolatry is shown in Romans 1 and Divine judgment is passed according to what men have done. Men were accountable for the knowledge of truth that they had. Paul has argued that the visible evil of pagan life proves that the wrath of God is still being poured out. This wrath is one aspect of His righteousness. It is coming upon those who have rejected Him. Is it possible that those who are not under wrath because of heathendom have no need of salvation? Of course they do.
Jews are to be judged on the basis of the
Romans 2:1. The one who judges someone else for his sin as pointed out in chapter 1 is no better than anyone else. Paul imagines some person objecting. He answers with a rebuke - "God forbid". In this portion and particularly from verse 17 on, Paul is thinking of a Jewish critic of Gentiles. He speaks to the Jews. The Jew is ready to condemn the Gentiles, non-Jewish pagans. He forgets the same principle condemns him also. This is, that he does evil in spite of better knowledge.
He (the Jew) who judges is without excuse when he does wrong. He knows the Law. Paul points out that while judging, the Jewish judge is involved in the same kind of sin. It is the sin of idolatry. Idolatry is man's desire to put himself in the place of God and so to be his own lord, even to the extent of his making his own idols as replicas of his own evil nature. Such idols are said to be as in 1 Corinthians 8:4, “We know that an idol is nothing in the world (having no life).”
Romans 2:2,3. There is judgment with no favouritism. The Jew thought the privilege of birth would ensure his entrance into the kingdom but Jesus said in Matthew 3:8,9 "Do not presume to say We have Abraham for our ancestor”.
Romans 2:4. This verse is about the critic Paul has in mind. This critic thinks he is superior to the idolater. Even if he does sin he avoids the really basic sin of idolatry. He belongs to the people of God, and thinks that thereby he has salvation. Not so. God has no favouritism.
Romans 2:5. The Jew looked forward to a day of wrath, Zephaniah 1:14,15, "the great day of the Lord is near ...That day will be a day of wrath, distress, ruin, darkness etc." God has declared that for the Jew also, that day will be darkness and not light, Amos 5:18, "Alas for you who desire the day of the Lord it is darkness and not light". Paul shows that the Jew thinks he has God's forbearance and mercy because he deserves it. He should repent and be thankful. He supposes that by his love of the law, he is storing up for himself merit, but in reality he is storing up wrath.
These Jews who think they are all right, are being spared so that, if they do not repent, they may receive their full share of wrath later. Romans 2:9,10 "to the Jew first and also to the Greek". He shows the Jews are the first to get the judgment of God as well as the first to receive the good news of His saving grace, 1:16.
When we look at 1 Thessalonians 2:15,16 we notice how the judgment of God came upon the whole race of Israel. This book was written about 51 A.D., well before 66 A.D. The verses read, "The Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last". From 66 A.D. to 73 A.D. the whole nation suffered awful judgment from God. Roman Emperors and their soldiers invaded. "There was tribulation such as never was and never will be" as spoken by Jesus in Matthew 24:21 and Mark 13:24.
At that time there were many so-called "Messiahs" and false prophets. The Jews themselves even killed each other. Some ate their own babies. In 70A.D. the Temple was totally destroyed by Titus. As Jesus said, "Not one stone shall be left upon another", Matthew 24:2.. The place where the Temple had stood became just empty soil, where a farmer ploughed his field. The priesthood finished. Temple worship finished. Most of the Jews were killed. The whole land was devastated. Those who were left were dispersed amongst other nations and a few were made slaves.
Jesus had said, "Your house is left unto you desolate", Matthew 23:28. He had told the parables showing Matthew 21:43 "the kingdom will be taken from you and given" to others, who became the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, mostly consisting of Gentiles with some remnants of Jews who accepted Christ. God judged Israel as Moses, Joshua, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Zechariah had prophesied. Jesus Himself foretold the coming judgment upon them, as in Luke 19:12-14 “Jesus told them this story: A prince once went to a foreign country to be crowned king and then to return.”
Verse 13 “But before leaving, he called in ten servants and gave each of them some money. He told them, ‘Use this to earn more money until I get back.’” (Note: We should not take this verse and the others in relation to it, out of the context of the whole parable as is freely done by Charismatics and Pentecostals.)
Verse 14 “But the people of his country hated him, and they sent messengers to the foreign country to say, "We don't want this man to be our king."
Verse 27 “Now bring me the enemies who didn't want me to be their king. Kill them while I watch!"
There is a warning to believers today, in Romans 11:21 "Do not be arrogant but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, Jews, perhaps he will not spare you either".
Romans 2:6. “You repay to all according to their work"; "Will He not repay all according to their deeds?" or "I the Lord test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways."
The "works" are explained in verses 7 and 8 below. Later in his epistle, Paul clearly states, "by works of law no flesh can be justified before God", Romans 3:20.
There is a repayment. We look at the consequences of man’s sin. “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done", Matthew 16:27; "For all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil", Romans 14:10; "Alexander did me great harm; the Lord will pay him back for his deeds" 2 Timothy 4:14; "I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve", Revelation 2:23 ; "And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books", Revelation 20:12; "See, I am coming soon … to repay according to everyone’s work", Revelation 22:12; “Our God is a consuming fire”, Hebrews 12:29. Dare we treat these matters lightly?
Romans 2:7-11. "It will be given to those who with patient endurance look beyond their own well-doing to glory, honour, and incorruption". Their trust is not in their good works, but in God. He is the only source of glory, honour and incorruption. "Tribulation and anguish" are the result of God's wrath and anger.
As for the Gentiles, they did not have the law of Moses but they had the law of conscience. The difference between right and wrong is in their hearts. When they go against that law within, they know they are doing wrong. By that knowledge they will be judged on the Judgment Day, Acts 17:31.
Romans 2:12. Paul concludes Jew and Gentile are equal before God as are all peoples of all nations. Then there is an objection. The difference between Jew and Gentile is not simply a matter of race, but of religion, or rather of revelation. Paul shows the Gentile guilty of a responsible act of rebellion against the Creator. Lack of special revelation did not excuse him.
Romans 2:13. Paul knows the reality of the law is a matter of doing, 10:5; Galatians 3:21, "Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that the person who does these things will live by them." How can man find this state of "rightness" with God? It is not a moral quality but a relation - a relation of gracious favour, and peace between God and man. Often hearing the word relationship in Charismatic circles, I do wonder what they really mean. Do they have the Bible understanding about it? Or are they following the modern psychology ideas where people emphasize “relationships”? The believer is born again into the family of God thus is in relationship as a son.
Now for the Jew, hearing the Law does not make righteous. The Gentile has not heard the law. Why should he perish? The answer is that he is not outside law, even though he is outside Moses’ Law.
Romans 2:14-16. Paul says those Gentiles who have not heard the Law can keep the righteous requirements of the law. When there is Law it requires believing obedience. Paul is saying that the Gentiles come into judgment with the Jews as all have disobeyed and are in rebellion against God’s Law.
a. The Gentiles' conduct shows some law written in their hearts.
b. Their conduct shows they have a conscience. Paul's gospel is to judge all.
Romans 2:17-20. Literally, it is "rest upon the Law”. The Jew relied upon the law to give him a secure standing before God. God's intention was that the Law was to give him a way to stay within the God-given covenant. Now the Jew is in trouble. He cannot rest upon the law because it accuses him. He cannot glory in God, because God is his Judge. The Jew knows the law is truth in visible form. Romans 7:12,14, "The law is holy… the law is spiritual".
Romans 2:17-24. The nation was guilty inwardly - Matthew 5:21-48. They already had profaned the Temple of God, Jeremiah 7:1-15. Isaiah 52:5 "all day long my name is despised among the Gentiles". The Jews were guilty of idolatry, They exalted self as judge and lord. Given the privilege of pointing God to the world, they did not point Him but themselves.
In view of these verses, showing they had lost all privilege, where is the Biblical foundation for the occurrence of any restoration of the nation of Israel in its own land by God, that indeed is claimed has already occurred? Those Jews who are there cannot be said to be there by any supernatural acts. There have not been any.
In addition, history tells us that most of these Jews are so by religion because they have descended from the Khazars, a nation that took on Jewry around the seventh century. It was conquered a few hundred years later and its inhabitants spread all over Europe, and said to be Jews.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only answer for Jew and Gentile. There is only one doctrine of any salvation for both Jew and Gentile and it is that found in the Gospels and in the Epistles.
Romans 2:25-27. It amounts to this. Being circumcised is worthwhile, if you obey the Law. But if you don't obey the Law, you are no better off than people who are not circumcised. Paul tells them that in fact, if they obey the Law, they are as good as anyone who is circumcised. Then he informs the Jews that everyone who obeys the Law, but has never been circumcised, will condemn them. The reason he says that is that even though they are circumcised and have the Law, they still don't obey its teachings.
God had never given a national Israel to be the basis for religion. He had given the Law. Nonetheless, “Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness”, Romans 10:4 or “But Christ makes the Law no longer necessary for those who become acceptable to God by faith”. The system of faith replaces that of the Law.
Let us understand from the New Testament that there was:
a. Pauline Christianity.
b. Judaizing Christianity, rebuked in Romans, Galatians, Colossians. It reminds one of Messianic Jews of today!
If Jesus was Messiah and Lord, it must be believed that "old things had passed away and all things had become new" 2 Corinthians 5:17. These were the old things of Judaism.
Romans 2:28. "A person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. Rather a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God." This is what a true Jew is. We also are Jews.
Romans 2:29. The outward Jew is the one having works of the law, whose religion is external with an emphasis on circumcision. He thinks his membership of the people of God is a visible privilege. He boasts of being a Jew but the real Jew is shown not by outward signs but by an inward obedience by the Spirit. This obedience is to Christ and the gospel and now circumcision is of the heart by the Spirit.
It had been promised in the Old Testament Deuteronomy 30:5-8, when "the Lord your God will circumcise your hearts, so that you will love the Lord ...with all your heart." This shows circumcision of the heart and the giving of new hearts and spirits, promised in the Old and fulfilled in the New. It happened under the gospel.
The Holy Spirit is important as in 2 Corinthians 3:6, "who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life". It is by the Spirit now that the new covenant is applied in the life of those who believe.
There is no real Jew before God today if he
is merely circumcised. In fact, a real Jew in God’s eyes is some one who
believes in Christ alone for salvation. Therefore, natural Jews or Israelis have
no standing before God. Only those who are in Christ have any standing or favour
WITH REGARD TO BOTH JEW AND GENTILE
Before going on to Romans 3:1 we look at this subject.
Paul deals with it in Romans 1:18 through to 3:20. All must live by faith because all, Jews as well as Gentiles, are equally in trouble through sin. Now Paul brings an argument: a. In 1:18-2:11, because God has no favourites, he argues that all who are wicked, ungodly and suppress the truth in their wickedness are without excuse. Therefore all are equally under divine wrath. Both Gentile and Jew are without excuse before God, who will judge each alike. b. In 2:12-17 there is no advantage to Jews in their having the Law, since Jews sin like Gentiles the one with and the other without Law.
He concludes these particular matters in 3:19-20. The Law means all are under sin. It gives no help. It merely shows up sin. Just as Jews are also sinners (this is emphasised) despite having the Law, so Gentiles can show righteousness, although not having the Law. "For, true circumcision is not a matter of literal, fleshly circumcision according to the written code." Rather, true circumcision, as is said through Moses, Deuteronomy 10:6, is a matter of the heart so that with such "heart circumcision" one will readily walk in the ways of God and receive God's "praise". If Gentile believers were circumcised it would be for praise.
In making this point Paul sets up a series of contrasts as to what constitutes a "true Jew", i.e. one who truly belongs to the people of God. Such a "Jew" is;
a. "inward" not "outward". b. their circumcision is not in the "flesh" (literally) but "of the heart" c. By the Spirit and not by "letter", i.e. "written code"), d. so that the net result is praise from God and not from humans. All who expect Jews and the present nation of Israel to be under the care of God are in error. He wants those people and Gentiles to accept Christ.
We see that as in Galatians 3:3, it here refers first of all to the literal flesh that is circumcised; but it also means that to live on the basis of Law is for Paul still to live "in the flesh". This "boasts" in human achievement rather than in God's grace. To live in the flesh is to continue in all the sinful practices for which the Law has no remedy. Here is reference to Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26-27; 37:1-14, in which the promises of Deuteronomy 30 had already been taken up by the prophets in terms of a new covenant, the Spirit being the key to making the obedience of the heart a possibility.
All of this has been fulfilled in the "new
covenant of the Spirit available to all Gentile and Jew alike who put their
trust in Christ". The Spirit has performed the "circumcision of the heart," that
makes one a true Jew inwardly. The "righteousness required by the Law" is
fulfilled by those who walk in the Spirit, Romans 8:4.
The contrast is with "not by letter". The Spirit is mentioned here as the way God now creates a people for his name. They will walk in His paths in fulfilment of the promised new covenant. "The letter" to which the Spirit stands in contrast refers to the written requirements of the Law. The Jewish Christians thought the Law to be still binding on the people of God, including Gentiles who come to faith in Christ. Paul shows that this is not the case.
Israel failed and broke the covenant. God had
decided on a new covenant, a covenant of the Spirit which "fulfilled" the aim of
Law. It did away with the regulations requiring "observance." A person is no
longer a part of the people of God by adhering to the Jewish laws but by having
the Spirit of Christ within. This concept will never be changed even though
those following the Millennium teaching believe it will be, by going back to
sacrifice of animals. Strangely, they also include the preaching of “another
gospel” by Jews themselves, to whom were given the gospel of Jesus Christ before
its being sent to the Gentiles. Paul said if anyone preached any other gospel
than what he had received, “Let him be accursed”, Galatians 1:9
Romans 3:1-8. Paul always shows there was an advantage in being Jewish. To them was given the revelation of God in the commandments and promises. He continues in these verses with both q1uestion and answer.
Men's unfaithfulness never alters God's faithfulness or stops His purpose. The gospel insists that "fruits of righteousness" must follow justification. Believers are not to sin in order that grace may cover it. There is a change of life from one of following sin to one of living holy in Christ.
Romans 3:9-19. The Jews as the elect nation, had privileges. However, they need His grace as do the Gentiles. Here the whole world is shown to be on trial and found guilty. Righteousness did not come by following Law. Law reveals sin.
The problem between man and God is one of sin. Modern and popular preachers do not wish to use that word “sin”. They do not wish to offend the sinner, the unbeliever. They prefer to make the gospel one of enticement for the good things of this life, health, wealth and success.
The terrible fact that “There is no one who is righteous, not even one” is mostly ignored. Indeed the fact of our sin, Christ’s atonement for sin and then our acknowledgement as to being a sinner before God is the only basis for a relation with God. Those who are told to come to Jesus some other way, such as just “accepting Christ” are preaching another gospel.
“The whole world may be held accountable to God” in verse 19 shows that God considers the matter of our sin to be of supreme importance.
The Law brought the knowledge of sin to Israel. Gentiles had something written in their hearts. In the Old Testament following the Law is not so much fulfilling a legal demand as showing by way of national and personal life that a sphere of Divine blessing had been entered. Their following of the Law was to be in relation with God. This came with the covenant given on Mt. Sinai. God gave the Law not through the mediation of Moses but directly speaking to the people, that says in Galatians 2:19-21 "of angels". The covenant was given to Israel through Moses, Exodus 21:1, "These are the ordinances that you shall set before them".
Romans 3:20. "Deeds" are "works". The Law was written both in the Old Testament and in the hearts of Gentiles covering the moral deeds of both Jews and Gentiles. Flesh here is "man". The Law was never given to save men but to show up sin. Sin is so deep within the heart that the Law instead of helping man pushes him into sin.
Romans 3:21. The Old Testament is to be understood in the light of the New. We do not understand the New Testament by means of the Old Testament. We understand the Old through the New. "Manifested" really means "openly shown in view". God's righteousness in the saving sense of the gospel is prophesied in the Old Testament. It is God's righteousness openly shown through faith in Jesus Christ and given to all who have faith not a work of faith, but faith as a gift, Ephesians 2:8,9.
In fact, the giving of Law meant finally it would be overtaken by grace . This is hinted at in Exodus 19:4;20-23 "How I bore you on eagles wings and brought you to myself". Israel first had redemption and then was given the Law and commandments. “Who brought you out of the house of Egypt, out of the house of slavery". The Law could not be received by Israel without first the act of redemption and the reminder that they stood only in the grace of God. God's covenant with them was to be honoured by their following His commandments. The Law must always point them back to the redemption provision. They were given a relationship with God in grace. This had to be adhered to by their life within the Law. Law has commandments and guides and instructs how to live. They always fail.
Following Moses’ Law, Old Testament rules, church rules, Pastors’ ways that induce a work, following a cultic or charismatic leader, domination by a Pastor, leader of church requirements for water baptism or church membership are all part and parcel of legalism. Such are carnal and do not produce Spiritual results. In grace, somehow or other, the Holy Spirit does have some manifestation in the midst. Those following such things are really under a curse.
The other great error is worldliness or anything brought into the church of this evil age and that is outside of the perimeters of total Bible doctrines. Rock music and dancing, that come straight from the rock concerts of the past decades, brought in as a worship so-called, are not of the Holy Spirit. Rock music has been a great factor in the huge moral decline we face in the world. Its impact worsens as the years go by. This also is great carnality. As believers, we should shun all of these things.
Romans 3:22. The righteousness apart from Law has come and its agency is faith, without law. To follow law is to go away from the way of faith. The provision for this is the grace of God, shown in verse 24. It is shown through faith. It is for all who have faith, Gentile and Jew. It is the opposite of man's self confident or self despairing attempt to establish a good relationship between himself and God by legal (i.e. by moral or religious) means. We walk in faith, having the works of faith as mentioned in James 2:26, “Faith without works is dead”.
Through faith we have that relationship with God. It is self effort and works if we “do” to have a right relationship with God. We have fellowship with God by walking in the Spirit, being filled with the Spirit, by having the blood cleanse us. Our relationship with God exists because of new birth into the family of God as His child, Ephesians 2:19.
Relationship in this regard can only mean the way in which one stands in relation to another. For us, it is the way in which we stand with God, as children declared righteous.
Now, his hope is not upon himself, but towards God. In particular it is a creative act of God's grace. Only those who have faith are restored to a true relationship with God, since faith is against works of law.
Romans 3:23. “Have sinned" is "missed the mark", or "failed in obeying the Law". It means lawlessness and unrighteousness, trespasses, iniquity and sin. Because of sin man falls short of the ideal God had in view when He brought him into being - Isaiah 43:7 "I have created him for My glory". There is no difference between Jew and Gentile. All have sinned. For all there is one Gospel, one message of salvation for all time.
There is some teaching in the west that demons need to be cast out because believers have sin. It appears that they think sin is not the problem but that it is Satan and demons. That is error. Demon possession has other reasons.
Sin is mentioned in the New Testament on over one hundred occasions. Not once is there a direct association of sin in us with Satan or demons. It shows clearly that “sin” is the sum total of all that is wrong in us, of all that is rebellion and disobedience to God and of all that causes us to “miss the mark”. It is not the result of Satan affecting us or of demons attacking us. We are “born in sin and shaped in iniquity”. We were born with natures of sin.
Adam and Eve went into sin due to Satan’s temptation but he did not cause the sin. The reason for their sin lay in themselves. They followed their innate sinful tendencies. They listened to Satan. They disobeyed God. They followed their own wills. They chose to ignore God’s will. There was something in them that was happy to do what Satan suggested and to go their own way. In actuality, they wanted to be as God. It was their own pride, not Satan’s.
Mankind did not take on the nature of Satan. Man followed the lusts and desires of his own heart. He allowed his own nature to sin. It was his animal, earthy and lower nature. His sinful act brought him into bondage to sin, to death and thus to Satan, to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Thus sin entered the world. Romans 5:12 says, “Just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned”. We were the sinners. Satan or demons cannot be blamed. When preachers teach that, they are doing what Adam did when he sinned. He blamed Eve. These preachers blame Satan instead of admitting “I am the guilty one who is a sinner”.
Romans 3:24. Paul before Christ found him with the thought that trying to observe the law of God would eventually make him "righteous" before the Judgment-Seat of God. Philippians 2: . However, righteousness is revealed as being apart from the law. God pronounces a man righteous at the moment of his salvation experience. He, a sinner now is seen at once, to be justified before God without any record being kept of his past sin. Justification is "an act of God's free grace, wherein He pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in His sight". We are "justified freely by His grace". He makes us know this.
The redemption is the act of buying a slave out of bondage in bondage. Abraham is said to be "redeemed", in Isaiah 29:22, the only time Abraham is said to be redeemed in the Bible. This occurred in Genesis 15:1 “After these things the word of Jehovah came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward.”
Jehovah changed his name to Abraham, that includes a letter that is breathed out. God was breathing life and redemption into Abram who became Abraham. The I Am became his portion, similar to the way Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life”. This is the revelation of “The Lord our Righteousness” in seed form.
Israel, as a nation, had redemption in Isaiah 51:11, "The redeemed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing". Here in Isaiah God gives redemption for His people, i.e. return from exile and in the future, it would happen in actuality for them when Christ would be born and die on the cross. "Redeem" is 57 times in the Old Testament. It is redemption from slavery. Christ bought us in the slave market of sin with the ransom of His blood of atonement. Galatians 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.” Redemption is from all iniquity, Titus 2:14 “who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works” and 1 Peter 1:18,19 “You were redeemed , with precious blood, as of a lamb without spot, even the blood of Christ”. The grace of God, justifying those who believe, is revealed in the redemptive work of Christ. It is freely given, for nothing.
Romans 3:25. “whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, in his blood”. The Greek word is "Hilasterion" - "To propitiate" and it is the “means of dealing with sin, or to appease (wrath)". It is atonement or reconciliation. It refers to the act of getting rid of sin that has come between God and man. It alters the character of that which brought about a necessary alienation of fellowship. Hilasterion, the Greek word from Leviticus 16:14, refers to the golden cover on the Ark of the Covenant. It comes from the Septuagint which is the translation of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew to Greek, begun in the 3rd Century B.C.
In the Ark below the cover or Mercy Seat were the tablets of stone. The ten commandments were written there but the stones had been broken by Moses. He was angered when he carried them down the mountain to see the golden calf being worshipped and the lewd dancing of the people, Exodus 32:19. Once a year on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest came before the Ark and sacrificial blood was sprinkled on the cover. Then it would cease to be a place of judgment and became a place of mercy. The blood came between the broken law and those who violated the Law, i.e. the sinners, the people.
This was a type of the blood of Jesus that satisfies the just requirements of God’s holy law that mankind broke. It pays the penalty for man and thus removes what had separated between a holy God and sinful man. This was his sin, its guilt and penalty. "Hilasterion" also is the place of satisfaction, as in 1 John 2:1,2 “And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only”. There before the throne of God is our Advocate, the propitiation for our sins, standing in the place where satisfaction for our sin was given.
Jesus is both the Mercy Seat and the Sacrifice. Before God’s throne was a judgment seat, judging us guilty of sin. It has been changed to one where mercy is given a sinner on the basis of justice satisfied by the atoning sacrifice of Christ.
Preaching about the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is missing from our churches world-wide, particularly those on T.V. The cross of Christ is made of little effect when its proclamation is missing.
The benefits of that sacrifice of Jesus are only available to one when he places his faith in the power of that blood which was shed. Jesus died for those who believe and in Revelation 1:5 He “loosed us from our sins by his blood; and he made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father.”
Romans 3:26(25b). “for a demonstration of His righteousness through the passing over of the sins having previously occurred, in the forbearance of God. It was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.”
So God could save believing sinners under the Old Testament without having their sins paid for. It happened in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. He bestowed mercy without having justice satisfied by this atoning death. It would make God appear as if He passed over sin. However, in the reckoning of God the Cross is an eternal fact as "Lamb slain before the foundation of the world", Revelation 13:8.
“Forbearance" is "a holding back". In this case, it is something temporary that may pass away under new conditions. "Passing by" is about the sins committed by those with faith before Christ came. It is the holding up of wrath. That does not mean the wrath will not fall eventually. It will fall, unless there are new conditions of repentance and obedience. For believers, the wrath of God fell on Jesus on the cross. All unbelievers are in a condition of being under God’s wrath now. This would only change on their repentance and faith in Christ. The goodness of God means goodness, forbearance, longsuffering. If a man does not know, or ignores His goodness, it is contempt. Paul preached in Acts 13:27 "Because the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognise him or understand the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath, they fulfilled those words by condemning him." He says of the Jews in Romans 10:3 “For being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness".
Romans 3:27,28. Cassirer translates it “What room then is left for any boasting? It is shut out once and for all”. Boasting is glorying that is done by the Jew, even today. Paul says this is a reasoned conclusion that “a person is justified by faith”.
Romans 3:29-31. "By faith" is “out of a source of faith". It is by faith alone, that given by God, and not by legal works or by any other fancied means of justification. This would be making a god of human imagination and human ideas. This is using human ideas in place of God and His ways.
"Establish or uphold the Law" means "fulfil the Law"; giving the Law “a surer footing”, or “put the Law in its proper place”. It was the “school master to lead us to Christ”. It is “holy, just and good”. Abraham did just that - through receiving God's gift of righteousness by faith. He acknowledged his sinfulness, his need of righteousness and that it could only come through faith. Law can never give righteousness. The Law was fulfilled by Christ in His total obedience to God. He fulfilled it for us. God’s laws are now written on our hearts and we are under the law of love. It is now as was said in the Gospels, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and your neighbour as yourself”. Love is the fulfilling of the Law but it is only done by the Spirit, as we learn in chapter 8. No one has the capacity in himself to love God.
Looking at the whole passage, Romans 3:21-31.
God's provision is by way of faith in Jesus Christ - for both Jew and Gentile.
It is for right relationship and acceptance by Him. God shows His righteousness.
He could pass over the sins committed before the coming of Christ, instead of
demanding full penalty. He showed mercy in the Old Testament because of His
purpose of the showing forth of His righteousness now under the New Testament.
He remains righteous while pardoning believers.
Romans 4:1-3. Humanly, Abraham is the ancestor of the Jewish race. Paul says, “Abraham had faith in God, and it was put to his account as righteousness.” He is quoting Genesis 15:6. It does not mean actual righteousness but it is "put to one's account, credited to, placed on deposit for".
Romans 4:4,5. “The reward is credited to him
who does works, not as of grace but as a debt.”
"Works" are "to do that from which something results". The workman works in order to earn wages. "Grace" is "favour". "Debt" is that which is justly or legally due, a debt. God gives us His grace. We are sinners and are debtors, having a debt to God that we could never pay. Jesus paid it for us.
A sinner cannot do good works to try and earn salvation. Instead, he must place trust in the God who justifies the ungodly person. That act of faith is put down to his account. It is the only way through which God gives a righteous standing for that person. Faith and works are opposites. Abraham is among those who do not do works with a view to justification but put their trust in God himself. He is thus justified, receiving a favourable verdict. Justify is to acquit legally from a crime but here from sin.
Romans 4:6-10. Justification, the "counting of righteousness" which is the "not counting of sin" is "forgiveness or acquittal". Paul quotes Psalm 32:1 “there is a blessing on the man to whose account God puts righteousness without works.”
Romans 4:11-15. Circumcision followed faith and was an external seal of the righteous state that Abraham already had as God's gift. It did not bring about that righteous state nor make that state any better. That faith itself is not "righteous in quality". Faith thus can never be such that it is a “work” from one’s own self. Faith is given by the grace of God. Abraham was to be the father of all those of faith , who believe in Jesus Christ as Saviour. It is a spiritual kingdom.
“Heir of the world" is the Jewish idea of the universal dominion of the Messiah King. This was typified by the inheritance of Canaan. Copeland and others falsely teach that we as children of Abraham under the Abrahamic Covenant, are “heirs of this world”. They fail to see that the promise to Abraham transferred over under the New Covenant, to new heavens and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness. They are looking for dominion in this world. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world”, John 18:36.
When Abraham's heritage is shown by geography, it is between Egypt and the Euphrates, Genesis 15:18; 13:14. According to Joshua 21:43 “The LORD gave the Israelites the land he had promised their ancestors, and they captured it and settled in it.” They have at one time already possessed it. The promise of a natural land has been fulfilled already.
The phrase “the heir of the world” refers to Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18 regarding "all families of the earth", and "all the nations of the earth", being blessed by the Messiah, Jesus Christ as Saviour, who died on the cross and rose again.
In the spiritual and permanent sense those promises are interpreted in the New Testament, about Abraham as in Hebrews 11:10, "He looked for the city which has the foundations, whose builder and maker is God". The promise was given to him as one already justified by faith and this faith rests in Christ for eternal salvation. He did not look for his descendants acquiring a whole land in a millennium. His eyes were on the heavenly city, Zion, the New Jerusalem. Also, it was to his "seed", Galatians 3 "seed", a collective singular, refers primarily to Christ, verse 16, and then also to the people of Christ, Verse 29. God's people do not look to inherit present lands but God's city, "we look for new heavens and a new earth", according to 2 Peter 3:13. We will reign with Christ there and not on this present earth.
Romans 4:16-18. "Of faith" is out of faith as a source. God has a way. He gives eternal life (the inheritance) and it is taken by the sinner. The sinner uses faith and it is not by his doing of works. Salvation comes to the sinner through the channel of faith. It is by grace. Faith is the hand that reaches out for salvation, and takes it as a gift. There is no righteousness in this act. It is the act of God who in grace gives that faith, Ephesians 2:8,9 "This is not your own doing; it is the gift of God". This faith is not any kind of man's effort. Man receives it.
Faith is a turning to God with a sense of need and weakness and emptiness and a willingness to receive what He has to give. It is the voice of God by the Spirit that arouses, wakens and causes a man to think and inquire. It is the power of God that gives strength to act. It is the same power that makes provision for the need of the new life.
"A father of multitudes". God quickens usually the dead but here it was Abraham's body and the deadness of Sarah's womb. There was no existence then of those nations. It did not seem possible, naturally, they would ever be.
Romans 4:19-25. "Consider" is "to fix one's eyes or mind upon". “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.”
"Staggered" is "to switch between two opinions or decisions". He did not do that. He was not divided in his mind by unbelief. "Strengthened" is given strength, i.e. his faith was strengthened in God to meet his impossible difficulty with a miracle. Our faith also is to be counted. We look forward to justification at the last judgment. We are justified now also. The object of our faith is God who gives life to the dead, Ephesians 2:2 “And to you he gave life, when you were dead through your trespasses and sins.” ”Who was delivered up for our transgressions, and was raised for our justification”, verse 25.
”Delivered" is the judicial act of God the
Father delivering God the Son to the justice that required the payment of the
penalty for human sin. "Raised for our justification" is He was delivered up for
our sins, to make atonement. He was raised on account of our justification which
by dying he had already accomplished. He was raised that it might become an
accomplished fact for us when we believe. Glory to God.
Romans 5:1-4. To this point it has been about righteousness, judgment and justification by faith. Paul now deals with the results of these. They accompany justification being peace with free access to God but also joy in hope of the glory of God. Through Christ something has occurred for us that is our present knowledge and experience. We have been brought by Christ personally, each one of us who believes in Him, into this condition and position. He brought us into the grace or favour of God. Now we stand in that condition and position. Here Paul is not speaking about being brought into the presence of God in heaven but rather into the actuality of being under His grace, His favour. The Greek is “we have had access”, meaning it has happened.
"Access" is "the act of bringing to, a moving to", or it is "that friendly relation with God whereby we are acceptable to Him and have assurance that He is favourably disposed towards us". It also is about someone who deserves punishment but asks for mercy before a king, It is "To present or introduce". All this has happened. God has given us mercy and we have been introduced to Him as one who has been given great pleasure and favour with Him. Glory!
Wuest translates it as "Through whom also our entrance we have as a permanent possession into this unmerited favour in which we have been placed permanently, and rejoice upon the basis of hope of the glory of God". We could look at `Ephesians 2:18 "Through Him we both (Jewish and Gentile believers alike) have access in one Spirit unto the Father".
This favour or grace is greater than all of Law's observance, Christ's dying for the helpless sinners, Jew and Gentile alike, shows God's impartiality toward Jew and Gentile alike. All were enemies. All are alike beloved.
It has given us a legal standing of "peace with God". It is our legal position. We should know this is so even if at times we do not feel it or lack an experience of peace because of a recent sinning or emotional upset. When that occurs we should still realise we do have a legal standing of being at peace with God and should confess our sin to receive His forgiveness and the cleansing of the blood of Jesus. Our legal position has never altered. It is good to know that this legal standing may not yet be sanctification or a certain right action. Sanctification is dealt with in 5:12-21 as positional sanctification and in 6:1-8:27 as progressive sanctification. God deals with us in relation to the legal position in which He has placed and then on a daily basis by the Spirit and the Word in our walk with Him in this world.
The "peace with God", here made possible by Christ means, the stopping of enmity. "Peace" in Greek is eirene, "to bind together that which has been separated". It is through the blood of His cross", Colossians 1:20. Because of the First Adam we had been separated from God. Now through faith in Him, we are bound again to God in our new standing in the Last Adam, Jesus Christ. This is the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross and not in the grave or in hell.
Rather than we “boast” in our hope it is that we “rejoice” in our hope which is that in heaven God will place His glory upon us. We will have redeemed bodies without sin, sickness, sorrow, pain or death. We will have this glory because we are in Christ, as in 1 Peter 5:10 “May the God of all grace, the One having called you into His eternal glory in Christ Jesus.” It is hope for a wonderful and eternal future. To know this is to be spiritually and not carnally minded.
At the same time because of rejoicing in this hope, we also rejoice in the tribulations we have and endure. These are persecutions, temptations and trials that will always come in our way. The early disciples rejoiced when they were persecuted, in that they were “counted worthy to suffer for His sake”. Jesus said we were blessed if we are persecuted. James tells us that to endure temptation will give us approval with the Lord and receive a crown of life and that trials are to be received with joy because they test our faith.
Romans 5:5. God's love for us", literally,
"the love of God". Such love is poured out and in abundance in our hearts. God's
love, shown in Christ, is to be experienced, a reality in the heart of the
believer by the presence of the Spirit. We are moved by God himself because of
His love. Christ has done so much that we should enjoy the benefits, "peace with
God" now and "boasting" in our inheritance of God's final glory.
We notice that it is Past Tense. This love has been poured out in us through the Holy Spirit who became our portion when we believed in Christ. Love from God was poured in at that time. It is still there and we need to walk in it by faith and the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit was poured out through Christ at that conversion to bring about the new birth as seen in Titus 3:5,6 “Through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit Whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour”. It is the same Greek word that is found twice in relation to salvation.
It is also used in Acts 10:45 “because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.” Luke in Acts was not speaking about the experience of the new birth but rather about the pouring out of the Holy Ghost as it occurred on the Day of Pentecost that was another occasion where we find “poured out”. Thus a pouring out of the Spirit for believers to be baptized with the Spirit happened twice. It figuratively means a bestowing, or giving. First it was for the Jews and then for the Gentiles.
The Old Testament background for “pouring out” is in Joel 2:28, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh”; Malachi 3:10 “God will pour out his Spirit on his people”. Also it relates to the Holy Spirit being poured out to give grace and a spirit of prayer to His people, Zechariah 12:9,10 “In that day I will pour out a spirit of grace and supplication”. “In that day” occurs about twenty two times in Zechariah and refers to the day of salvation of the Lord, through Jesus Christ and His gospel.
Romans 5:6-8. “For while we were still weak, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” This has to do with when the time for God’s purposes had arrived as also in Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of the time came, “God sent forth His Son, being born of a woman”. Jesus announced this in His first call regarding the Kingdom of God, Mark 4:15 when He said, “The time is fulfilled”. He was probably referring to the times that had been set out in Daniel 9:25 where Daniel was shown the vision about the 69 weeks or 483 years of history for the Jews, at which time at the end of those years, Christ appeared.
He had come to die for the ungodly, including us. The verses show that one would hardly consider dying for a godly person but we were ungodly and Christ died for us while we were in that state of sin. This proves the love of God for us.
Romans 5:9-10. The phrase “His blood" shows He laid down His life as a sacrifice. See 3:25, "whom God put forward as an atonement by his blood, effective through faith", "from wrath"; 1 Thessalonians 5:9, "not appointed to wrath". "Atonement" "at-one-ment" is to reconcile. There is reconciliation. God or Christ is the Reconciler and man the object. “Life" means life principle. It is a comparison with death. John 14:19, Hebrews 7:25, Christ had ”lived through” his death, being resurrected with an immortal, spiritual body. He is able to save us. "Saved by His life" refers to sanctification within and glorification of our bodies. We are not saved by His example but saved by His Blood.
Romans 5:11. The guilty past has been cancelled, the glory of the future is promised. Now we have the presence and power of the Spirit of God, for grace, against evil and to live as one who is declared righteous.
Romans 5:12-14. "World" is the human race, John 3:16. Though sin, death came into the human race, physical and spiritual - literally, "And thus into all men death came throughout". Adam is the head of the race, and when he sinned, all of humanity sinned in him. Adam’s initial sin made him a sinner in which all human beings participated. This brings death upon all. We are sinners not because we committed acts of sin. We were born in sin. Sin is a personified power. Between Adam and Moses no sin was charged to their account as there was no written law. Yet all died - by reason of Adam’s sin and subsequent death. Also, Adam is the "type, figure" of Him who came, Jesus Christ. Either people are slaves to sin and demonic powers or have chosen Jesus as Lord who sets us free as His bondslaves.
Sin reigned from “Adam to Moses”. It used death as the instrument of its power. 1 Corinthians 15:56, "Sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law".
Romans 5:15,16. "The free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died though one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the effect of the one mans sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification."
“Trespass” or “Offence" is a falling alongside, going from the right path, transgression. Adam's sin was against the known will of God. Eve was "deceived", 1 Timothy 2:13,14. "Free gift", a gift of grace, a favour one receives without merit of his own, gift of eternal life.
Righteousness" is a righteous act or deed. Here in Romans, it is the righteous act of our Lord in satisfying the demands of the law that mankind broke. "Justification" is the act of God declaring men free from guilt and acceptable to Him. Mankind has either condemnation or justification. "Disobedience" is one of the nine words for sin in the New Testament. It describes the nature of Adam's first act of sin, the one act, not Eve's, that plunged the race into sin. "Sinners" and "righteous" are words of relationship, not character. They were born into mankind that had separated itself from the true and only God.
The two occurrences of "gracious gift" in this passage show the word does not primarily mean "gift of the Spirit." It is about "a real expression of grace," thus "gracious gift". The association with "grace" and "gift" in Romans 5:15b is clear. To refer to Adam's deed, means "a real expression of sin". Christ's act is here referred to as "a real expression of grace."
Romans 5:17-20. Death reigned and so there is also to be a reign of life. It is the Law that ministers unto death. It does not produce death, 2 Corinthians 3:7,8. It was not to kill as it came in glory. Christ's obedience did not mean that henceforth men did nothing but righteous acts. In Christ they were related to God as Christ himself was related to the Father. The obedience of Christ to which His people owe their justification and hope of eternal life is not only in His death. He had active obedience all His life. He offered up in death on His people's behalf, a perfectly righteous life.
The righteous life in itself would not have met our need had He not carried His obedience to the point of death. The fall of Adam brought the race under death. The obedience of Christ has brought a new race triumphantly into the realm of grace and life. Law has no permanent significance in the history of redemption. It was a temporary measure. Sin was brought to light by Law. The gospel introduced a completely new principle, that of God's grace.
We can see that in Romans 5:12-21 Paul
contrasts human origin in Adam with that in Jesus, the Second Adam. Jesus is not
a mere replacement for Adam. He had to deal with the trouble caused by old Adam.
Death; sin; universality of it; Israel's misuse of Law, Romans 9:30-10:4.
Looking at Romans 6:1-13 we find it is about believers in crucifixion with Him on the cross. Paul mentions the law in his letters over 100 times. He says the time of Mosaic Law is now over, (Galatians 3). The main point is still that of "righteousness". Now it relates to daily living. The answer to the question, what happens to righteousness, or what do we do about sin if the Law is removed is answered in Romans 6:1-7:6 and 8:1-30, a. Romans 6:1-7:6, being in relation to the work of Christ and b. Romans 8:1-30 in relation to the work of the Spirit. Such righteousness is available to all, Jew and Gentile alike, apart from the Law. It is through the death and resurrection of Christ and the gift of the Spirit.
Thus the gift of righteousness is not just a matter of good standing with God. Our justification is based on co-dying with Christ. We were one with Adam in disobedience and one with Christ in obedience. It is as if we died. We are one with Him in His death to sin. The old man with his hold over us and our inward corruption through Adam is defeated. Christ's death for us was in our place. It was not a mystical experience with us when we believed in Jesus. It is an objective death. He died for us and objectively, legally, we died in Him, 2 Corinthians 5:14. We have a new relationship with God in Christ crucified. He is our Surety or Guarantee that God accepts us. It is because we are in Him. The life of Christ enters us, subjectively. We are renewed and holiness is given, Titus 3:14-18.
It is all of grace and not by law. These verses regarding baptism, relate also to Galatians 3:23-25. They are about faith and not water baptism. This chapter 6 of Romans must be read as following on from Romans 5. We are legally dead to sin in Christ. We are dead to its guilt.
Verses 1-14 of chapter 6 are about our death and also our resurrection with Christ. This leads to a new life in Him. This is by the Spirit and not by following law. It is not by trying or doing. It is by the Spirit. Note Romans 7 and 8 and Galatians 2:20,21; 3:26,27; Romans 2:29.
It is also a matter of living out the life of this righteous God in the present gospel age of grace. The way to such a lived-out righteousness is by the gift of the Spirit, 8:1-30. In 6:4, Paul urges, "thus let us also walk in newness of life," 7:6 "in newness of Spirit", 8:2 "the Spirit of life" is the Spirit who give life, and 8:4 "walk according to the Spirit".
We look at this portion more intently.
Romans 6:1,2. It is not right to sin so as to repent and experience God's grace. In fact, that path leads downward to hell, for any believer who chooses it. The gospel does not give us freedom to do as we like. Some in Corinth thought that sexual irregularities were matters of small importance. 1 Corinthians 5 they followed Christian liberty and did not disapprove of the scandals. Thus some said, get the law of Moses into people.
When a person yields his life to Christ, his inward being is transformed, a new creation takes place. He gets a new nature, the nature of Christ within. As a new creation this means Christ is in him. This will produce the fruit of the Spirit, graces in the perfection of Christ. Some think this impossible. But Galatians 4:19 shows Christ must be "formed" in us. Formed is to be wrought or made. This can only happen when we do not rely on anything we do but on the righteousness of Christ to be produced in us by the Spirit. Believers are to reckon themselves "dead to sin, alive to God".
Death means separation. Physical death is separation of a person from his body; spiritual death, separation of a person from God. When born again, there is a cut between the person and his evil nature. It is inward “circumcision”, Romans 2:29. This happened in the mind of God when that believing sinner identified with the Lord Jesus in His death on the cross.
Romans 6:3-7. God separated the believing sinner from the evil nature, He did not take it out of him, but left it in his inner being. 1 John 1:8 shows that evil nature remains throughout the earthly life and is not removed until that believer dies or Jesus comes again. John says, "If we say that sin we are not constantly having, ourselves we are deceiving (nobody else), and the truth is not in us". Sin here is the nature, not the act. There is a separation of the person from the sinful nature. Yet it remains in him until he dies or is glorified.
Because of the frailty of man, believers do give in to the evil nature and sin. We need not do so. We see our “carnal nature on the cross with Christ”. We “reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God”. We by faith, “Put off the old man and put on the new”. We “offer ourselves (our bodies) a living sacrifice to God” so that the Spirit within us can “quicken our mortal bodies” in righteousness. Thus we have victory over sin.
God has given a share of the divine nature, partakers of that divine nature through the promises. These give the believer a hatred of sin and a love of righteousness. 2 Peter 1:4 (participate in); John 3:3; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Romans 8:1. 1 John 4:15 God dwells in us and we dwell in God. We have "the seed of the divine remaining in us", 1 John 3:9. "We know that we have our origin in God", 1 John 5:19, and "we dwell in his Son, Jesus Christ", 1 John 5:20. Note, "How is it possible for such as we, who have been separated once for all from the sinful nature, any longer to live within its grip?"
The baptism in these verses is into Jesus Christ, not into water. It is into His death and then into His resurrection. That makes us His property, He whose death, resurrection and ascension began a new age. Christ must always be thought of in terms of crucifixion and resurrection. Baptism into Christ means baptism into Christ crucified. Baptism into His death is a spiritual fact. It is not water baptism.
His death was a "baptism", “I have a baptism to be baptized with”, Mark 10:38,39; Luke 12:50. Our baptism is brought about by God’s act of legally baptizing the believing sinner into Christ so that the person shares His death on the Cross, crucified with Christ. This "legal" identification of the believing sinner with Christ in His death, brought about the separation of that person from the sinful nature. We experience the power of His suffering and death. It is not a mystical union with Christ in His death. It is “like” His resurrection. We were raised with Him. We receive His life of that resurrection When we are born again. Our resurrection with Christ has become a real experience.
In water baptism, the significance of the
above is re-enacted. The actuality is not present in water baptism. We already
are joined in faith to Christ in His death and resurrection. Water baptism is a
type, 1 Peter 3:21, but we are saved "through the resurrection of Jesus Christ"
that gives a good conscience.
Paul shows how the cutting from sin was made. It was by God's act of baptizing the believing sinner into Christ so that the person would share His death on the Cross, thus separating him from the sinful nature. As in Romans 5:11. Christ died regarding the sinful nature (ours) once for all. His death was a substitution. As to the death of the Lord regarding sin, 3:21-5:11, He died with reference to our acts of sin. He paid the penalty for us that the Law demanded. In 6:11 it is that we are to consider, or reckon our sinful nature dead and we alive.
It means "the act of God introducing a believing sinner into vital union with Jesus Christ in order that that believer might have the power of his sinful nature broken". "We were not only placed in Christ by God the Holy Spirit in order that we might share his death and be separated from the evil nature, but we were placed in Him in order that we might share His resurrection and thus have divine life imparted to us".
The divine nature that is the principle of the new life, is implanted through a person's believing "that God raised Him from the dead" together with confession of Jesus as "Lord" and salvation occurs, Romans 10:9,10.. See Titus 3:5, "the bathing in water which brings about regeneration and the renewal which has its source in the Holy Spirit".
Thus it is not water baptism and indeed one is not bathed in that water. It is that in regeneration we are washed and renewed, all the work of the Holy Spirit. Water is a type of the Holy Spirit. There is a connection to Hebrews 9:14, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purge our conscience from dead works” and Hebrews 10:22, “Let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water”. The pure water typifies the Spirit who sanctifies, making us holy as we stand before God. He sanctifies us or separates us to God. This all happens because of the sacrifice of Christ. We are given new life, "You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God", 1 Peter 1:23.
This alters the condition of that sinner regarding his previous state and environment. It brings him into a new environment, the kingdom of God. We have been taken out of the kingdom of darkness and placed in the kingdom of light. We who believed have died with Christ by faith. We have been justified and separated from the evil nature as part of our salvation. Our new environment is Christ. The old one was the First Adam, and we as were sinners under condemnation. In our new environment in Christ we have righteousness and life. Our condition is changed from sinner to saint.
We experience death with Christ only by faith, not mystically. It is not that we ideally or spiritually ourselves died in Christ in "identification". We personally did not participate in His death. His death was a substitution, "Christ died for our sins", "He bore our sins", Hebrews 9:20, 1 Peter 2:24. He did not bear our sinful nature. He bore our sin away. He did not take on our sinful nature or our sin, but He died our death on the Cross. His death was equivalent to our death. It was not identification here but substitution.
Because of His resurrection, we receive resurrection life. The newness of life does not refer to a new quality of experience or conduct. It is a new quality of life imparted. Romans 6 does not deal with the believers experience or behaviour but shows how. That is found in chapters 12-16. Romans 8:10 shows Christ lives in believers by His Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who gives life. The born-again one does not have a spirit quickened enough to give life from itself. It is the life of Christ by His Spirit. Man's spirit does not have the nature of God. The nature of God is within in the Person of Christ and as a new principle of Life. We have become "one spirit with Him". Our spirit is in His Spirit who lives within, in the born again experience. That is how we are a new creation 2 Corinthians 5:17. Also, "We are hid with Christ, in God", Colossians 3:3.
Regarding 2 Corinthians 5:17, In Christ, the believer is a new creation with old opinions, views, plans, desires, principles, Law-keeping and affections passed away, He is a new creation in a new order that brings now eternal life and continues on into and through eternity. The old world of sin, death and flesh have gone. Instead the believer is a new creation in a new world under a new covenant. It is not so much subjective as in relation to being a new creation in the new age, now and to come, 2 Corinthians 3, Ephesians 2:10.
The believer is the "re-created man in Christ". His spirit is re-created in Christ and in that sense there is the nature of God. Kenyon’s and Copeland’s ideas are totally wrong. We should note it is not the old "I", whether spirit, soul or body that has the nature of God. That "I" is dead, crucified with Christ. He is exhorted to "put on once for all the new nature (self) which was created after God’s likeness, in righteousness and holiness of truth", Ephesians 4:24. This new creation is wholly good, “You have clothed yourselves with the new self which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its Creator”, Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 2:10, "created in Christ Jesus"; Galatians 6:15, "A new creation is everything".
"Joined together" in verse 5, means “grown together with”. Literally, "If we have grown together with Him by means of the likeness of His death". Our experience is grounded in a death and resurrection dependent upon Christs. It is about the past in Greek. Those united by faith to Christ are reckoned as having been crucified with Him when He was crucified, Galatians 2:20; 6:14. It is a present state produced by the past event of Romans 6:16. "For the destruction of the sinful self"; or the "flesh", the "unregenerate nature with its downward tendency", the "old Adam", to make it legally unable to operate. It is more than an individual affair. It is that sin and death we all share "in Adam". It is not the human body; it is the "old man", Colossians 4:22. In Christ, we are united to Him.
“He who is dead has been justified from sin” as in verse 7. In this matter we can never say that we have a mystical experience with Him in His death. That would be something added to His atonement. Nothing can be added to His atonement. When He died, He said, “It is finished”. He cried “Into your hands I commit my spirit”. At the point of His death, our atonement had been completed with His giving of His spirit into the hands of His Father. In that Spirit He ascended into heaven with His blood. See Leviticus 16:11-14. The High Priest had to take the blood of the offering on the day of Atonement into the Holy of Holies. He went in and he went out, typifying the atoning blood of Jesus on the cross. Therefore, in fulfilment, Christ entered heaven with His own blood, see John 19:30; Hebrews 9:12,13. as he died on the cross. He took with Him the Spirit, Divine form of His shed blood that poured out on to the ground. He offered it there before God as atoning blood. He thus “cleansed the heavens” also.
Then He came out as did the High Pries and rose Himself from the dead, entering His resurrected and immortal new body. Christ’s death to sin belongs to us. It is as much ours as if we had carried the penalty. We are justified because of such a foundation.
Romans 6:8-13. If you have died with him you will also live with him. "with Him", is “with respect to Him”. The new life imparted at the moment of believing, is Christ. Because of our oneness with Him, sin is no longer master. We were one with Him in His death, objectively and are one with Him in His life, subjectively. We will live by means of Him. "He died unto sin once for all", not to acts of sin. The relation of Christ’s death to the sinful nature breaks the power of indwelling sin in one’s life.
What must the believer do if he is to get results from this inner change God made in him? Two things - a. Reckon himself dead to sin; b. reckon himself alive to God. "Reckon" is "count, compute, take into account". As we try to live a life in accordance with the Word of God, we must consider that we are dead to sin, that it no longer has power. We must not act according to the evil nature. We say "No" to sin. We must count on the fact that the Divine nature, its principle and life, is within because we are born of the Spirit with Christ living in us. We are united to Christ. Our sinful nature has not been changed into the Divine nature. We can never say we had the nature of Satan and that now we have the nature of God. We still have the sinful nature within and partake of the Divine nature, 2 Peter 1:4. The same Divine Nature God has eternally and infinitely, can never be in us. He is the “I Am”.
We see that Verse 11 shows that to try and control our nature is to deny this verse. To try to deal with ourselves psychologically also denies the power of this verse. Psychology has no part in the “death to self” that we are to reckon or consider to be ours. Our total salvation is found in Christ alone and in the provision of His Word and Spirit. To try to improve our old nature by psychology is a denial of the truth of the gospel. That old nature is to be considered “dead”. So why try and improve something that is dead?
Ishmael is a type of what happens with the old man, Galatians 4:20; Colossians 1:12; 2:13; Hebrews 4:19. The old man is “cast out”, as was Ishmael. We should not try and improve it or make it better by fasting or through psychological or self-help, self-improvement means. All this is popular on present-day Christian T.V. programs and in their books. We are to reckon or consider the old man dead.
Romans 6:14-16. In a sense we are no longer "under the Law”, Galatians 5:18. That does not mean its demands are no longer good. Love demanded of us is the fulfilment of the Law, Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14. Love does not mean we do not have commandments, for love and obedience cannot be separated, John 15:10. How we obey is by the Spirit. Man under Law faces a terrible situation. It is not because the Law is an inferior revelation connecting us to a limited or even false knowledge of God. Before faith there was no true fulfilment of the Law. Jesus fulfilled it for us, and now the Spirit has set us free from the law of sin and death, and writes the law of God on our hearts, Jeremiah 31:33.
Yet we have been released from the law by the death of Christ. Law in terms of the Mosaic covenant has ceased. Rules regarding food, special days and circumcision do not apply. Ritual law has been removed. Ministration of the Law is one of death, and does not give life because we transgress the Law and are guilty, 2 Corinthians 3:8,9. The Holy Spirit within convicts of sin. We have changed our masters. We were a servile slave first of Satan due to our sinning and now of the Lord Jesus. We have a new nature, the divine, and the evil nature forcing us to serve the Devil has its power broken. We hate sin and try to keep it out. If you sin, use 1 John 1:9.
A slave is one whose will is swallowed up in the will of another. Before it was the will of Satan, now the will of God. The believer’s identification with the Lord Jesus in His death, broke the bands which bound him to Satan, Colossians 1:13.
The difference between letter and spirit shows a. the law as externally written at Sinai on tablets of stone and b. the same law as written internally in the heart of the Christian believer. Formerly, the unrighteous, all people, were sinful and condemned. The letter of law teaching us not to sin, kills, if the life-giving Spirit is not there. Sin is known but not able to be avoided. When the works of law are written on tables of stone to alarm the carnal mind, there arises the law of works and "the letter which kills" the sinner.
Sin was revealed and the verdict, death, Ezekiel 18:4,20; Proverbs 11:19; Romans 5:12. It is death of the body, which is dissolution and death of the everlasting spirit, being eternal separation from God and in a place of torment, Hell. “The wages of sin is death”, Romans 3:23.
The new covenant is life giving through grace. Christ, who as God is the Law Giver and as Man as the only law-keeper, suffered the sinner’s death penalty. This removed the legal document with its accusations and nailed it to His cross for all to see, Colossians 2:14. At Pentecost when the New Covenant came into being, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was the means and still is, whereby His life and obedience are communicated to every believer in the salvation experience.
"The form of doctrine into which you were delivered". There is the only true doctrine and it is as Paul preached and what the Romans knew. In salvation, God acted inwardly in the believer according to verses 1-14. This was so that he would react to the doctrines of grace by his new nature, to receive and obey them. Having been set free from the evil nature, the believer was made a slave of righteousness. The "members" are also faculties.
Romans 6:21-24. Following the way of sin
means death. Now believers are freed from sin and have become slaves of God.
This means sanctification, holiness and separation to God. Its end is eternal
life that is a free gift of God through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 7:1-6. The subject of chapter 6 continues. By death the Christian is freed from the law that is good in itself and in God’s purposes. Owing to the corruption of man’s nature, instead of helping to make him good, law always stirs up sin. Our “marriage” was one with sin, the flesh through which sin operates and with the Law that arouses sin. These verses are about freedom from the law. A Christian putting himself under law and thus failing to avail himself of the resources of grace is a defeated Christian. It is the same as his previous experience. It is a dangerous place to be in as Paul declares in Galatians where he considered some of them had “fallen out of Christ” by following Law.
Believers are made dead to the law as the wife is dead in marriage in respect of the marriage relation, by her husband’s death. "You were made dead, put to death". Spiritual death is fellowship with Christ’s death which was by violence. "In the flesh" refers to the condition of a person in the absolute control of his evil nature. This was the experience while still unsaved. The sinner outside of Christ only acts in the fallen nature. Any goodness in his living is because of a. Providential grace; b. The little light left within; c. Certain law written on his heart; d. The ethics of Christianity in which he was reared if he lives in a so-called Christian country. "Passions" means “an affection, a passion, impulse”.
By the believer's death with Christ on the Cross, he was discharged from the law as the woman was discharged from the law which bound her to her husband. I like Cassirer’s translation of verse 6, “But now we have been set free from the law, having died to that which once held us captive; and so it is that we render service in a new manner, according to the spirit; not according to the letter as of old”. We do not follow the Old Testament moral Law as a code or rule of life. We know the Law is good and righteous but its coming did not bring life. Instead, because of the sin in us, it brought judgment and death.
Now, we are to understand that Christ fulfilled the Law for us. We serve God in righteousness but it is not by doing what the Law says but by having the Spirit within us, live out the life of Christ and His righteousness through us. This is clearly seen in the translation of verse 6 by Wuest (Moody), “But now we are discharged from the law, having died to that in which we were constantly being held down, insomuch that we are rendering habitually a slave’s obedience in a sphere new in quality, that of the Spirit, and not in a sphere outworn as to usefulness, i.e. in a sphere of that which was put in writing”.
We are not bound to a legalistic approach because we have been set free from that way. Now it is by the Spirit of God. Joshua was commanded in Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it”. That is now are position and it is not an instruction given to us who are not under Law but in the Spirit. In fact, Romans 8 clearly emphasizes that we now have the Spirit of Christ within and not Law. 2 Corinthians 3:7,8 reveals “Now if the ministry of death chiselled in letters on stone tablets came in glory, a glory now set aside; how much more will the ministry of the Spirit come in glory?” This is not to be understood as some kind of visible glory descending in a meeting. The glory is contained in the Spirit’s ministering of the freedom without Law. This is the ministry of justification, verse 9, whereby the Spirit of the living God writes on human hearts, verse 3.
It is made very plain in Hebrews 10:16,17 that we are not under the Old Covenant, or Testament, that is now obsolete. We are under the New Covenant that the Lord has made, with Jesus Christ as its Surety. Therefore this covenant will last forever, not like the former one. Instead, “the Lord says: I will put my law in their hearts and I will write them on there minds.” Some people decry experience. Well, this is experience and what a marvellous one it is. By the Spirit, Christ, our Lord, who is at the right hand of God in a position of power and glory, writes on our hearts, which are our spirits. This is a Divine action that enters experience because the writing is the enabling by the Spirit of the performance. Christ made one offering to God the Father for our sins and lawless deeds. Forgiveness has been given us through Christ and there is no need for any other offering for sin. Praise God for His Grace and work of salvation in Christ for us.
In Galatians Paul is very explicit when he says in chapter 3 that to rely on the works of the law is to be under a curse because of the fact that no one can do those works. Christ was the only One who did and this was on our behalf. Law does not justify before God because it does not rest on faith. The promise of the Spirit, which is the blessing of Abraham for us who believe, is because the inheritance does not come through Law but through the Seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ. We are justified by faith because in our crucifixion with Him on the cross, we were baptized into Christ, the Seed and so have the blessings that do not come by Law but faith.
The believer is not under the law anymore, nor subject to it. "Having died" to that in which we were constantly being held down: i.e. the evil nature. The power of this evil nature is broken for the believer, but it is very much alive in him. We are no longer "in the flesh", meaning here the state in which men are dominated by law, sin and death. "New" = that which is new as set over against that which has seen service, the outworn or spoilt because of age. The new sphere of the believers (bondslaves) obedience is that of the Spirit. We no longer serve God in the old life, by observing the written law, but in a new life because the Spirit renews us when we are saved (the Spirit of Christ).
Romans 7:7-13. This passage is about the actual working of the law. The law is the word of God, a gift of His grace to His chosen people, 7:12,14;9. Only through law we come to know sin. "Desire" = exaltation of the ego, the meaning of sin. Regardless of his place in creation and God’s command, man has desires and his desires become the law of his being. He, rather than God, becomes Lord. The Law cannot allow this. Man is a creature. Law says "You shall obey". "I" = man, seeing and taking part in sin. The law gives commandments; sin shows itself by transgressing them. v.13, "sin might become sin to an excessive degree". Adam, as was Paul, was not conscious of any sinful inclination until his obedience was tested. Within, Paul knows, sin sprang to life. Eve was deceived, 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:14 but Paul's doctrine is that mankind sinned "in Adam" and not in Eve. The Law did not bring me into sin. It is good. It was sin itself.
Romans 7:14-20. The working of the law against us is not due to anything in law, but to the power of sin in the flesh. We can understand the need of freedom from sin. Paul is concerned about freedom from law. God’s law forbids sin, and wants righteousness. Men of God in Israel found the law to be a safeguard only, against sin, Psalm 1;2; 119:165; 19:7 "Love Your law, nothing shall trip them up"; "Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul". No, following law cannot give merit. It is a yoke, a bondage, Acts 15:10 as Peter said at the Council in Jerusalem.
Man is "natural", the unsaved man dominated by his reason and emotions, soulish, 1 Corinthians 2:14, "carnal". The saved man who is not living in deliverance from the power of sin and is more or less following his evil nature, is living like the "natural" man. "Spiritual" is the believer living his life in the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 3:1. The Christian lives in two worlds, this world, as a man of flesh and blood, subject to the conditions of mortal life - a "son of Adam", "in Adam all die". Spiritually, he passed from death to life, from darkness into the kingdom of light.
The believer has shared in Christ's death, burial and resurrection, having been raised to walk in newness of life, a citizen of the new world, a member of the new creation, "in Christ". One day this order will pass, the new age will be established in glory. Now "between the times", "the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; these are contrary the one to the other so that you cannot do the things that you would " (“has a passionate desire to suppress the Spirit, and the Spirit has a passionate desire to suppress the flesh".
Talking about himself Paul, while a Jew under the law, knew of the presence and power of indwelling sin in his life, a master he hates. He now realises despite his desires to do the law of God, and delighting in it, he was compelled by evil powers within to disobey it. In doing what he hates, i.e. evil against his will, his will agrees with the law, that it is good. "It is no longer I (ego) that am doing it". "My personality proper, my moral self-consciousness which has approved the law”. In self there is no cause whatever for glorying or commendation. Self-boasting is false. It is against saying "To God be all the glory". How can we glory in "ourselves" in an experience that comes from God alone? It is not the self knowing right that acts like this but the sin that has its home in the man. To be saved from sin, a man must at the same time own it and disown it. "Will" is the being always desiring.
Now, as a believer, that sinful, carnal nature is still within and can overcome him while he is not living in Romans 8. The nature he inherited in Adam does not like the law. It is an unspiritual nature. There is something in man - even regenerate man - that objects to God and seeks to be independent of Him. It is the "flesh", the "carnal mind" but there is an independent witness within, the voice of conscience that condemns. The natural man is this kind of man. The one outside of Christ, hates Jesus and had he been there at the scene of the Cross, would have crucified Him.
Romans 7:21-23. "This is what I find, the law - a life under the law - comes in my experience: when I wish to do good, evil is present with me". I can sing, "O how I love thy Law": and all else in Psalm 119; yet I am not hereby justified. The "inward man" is "the new man in Christ" that is daily renewed in the Creators image, 2 Corinthians 4:16; Colossians 3:10. The law of sin is the evil principles or the power of sin within. Paul sees two authorities within saying to him, "Do this". The higher one gives to the lower.
Romans 7:24,25. Believers are perfect in their justification, but their sanctification as a way of life has just begun. It keeps on going on. Sanctification is also a position, as in Hebrews 10:10,14, "For by a perfect sacrifice he has perfected for all times those who are sanctified"; "And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all".
Phillip’s translation of Romans 7:21-23,25b aptly reads “My experience of the Law is that when I want to do good, only evil is within my reach. For I am in hearty agreement with another law in my bodily members, which is in continual conflict with the Law which my mind approves, and makes me a prisoner of the law of sin which is inherent in my mortal body. For left to myself, I serve the Law of God with my mind, but in my unspiritual nature I serve the law of sin”. That is the condition of a believer trying to live under Law. This brings us to the point; we need the Spirit.
Paul wants to live a sanctified life and
says, "Who shall deliver me?" This deliverance from indwelling sin (and notice
the evidence of the carnal nature remains) may be appropriated as described in
chapters 6 and 8. "I myself" is emphatic. "I by myself" only know defeat. "I" as
a Christian, with Christ, have victory. "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ
Jesus" has come to dwell within me and His presence and power make a difference.
CHAPTER 8 – 1st SECTION
This is a long chapter so we look at it in
Romans 8:1-4. "Condemnation" is "punishment following sentence; serving as in a prison". Now follows a long comment regarding these three verses.
In relation to these verses I quote Cassirer’s translation of Romans 7:22 to 8:1-9 as this portion shows clearly what we should read into the fact of our carnal nature and its sinfulness, not needing to feel condemned and the answer through the death of Christ and His sending the Holy Spirit.
“In my inmost self I delight in the law of God. 23 Yet I discover in my bodily powers another law that is at war with that law of which my understanding approves, and which enslaves me to the law operative in the various parts of my body, the saw of sin. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from a body doomed to a death such as this? 25 Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I – my true self – am in servitude to the law of God, while as regards my lower self I am in servitude to the law of sin.
“1 Well, then, no sentence of condemnation stands against those who are in union with Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit which issues in life has set me free, in Christ Jesus, from the law issuing in sin and death. 3 There was one thing which the law was unable to achieve, because our lower nature had deprived it of all its power. And this God has effected. Sending his Son in a form like that borne by our own sinful nature, and doing so for the purpose of dealing with sin, he passed a judgment of condemnation on sin right within its own field of operation, 4 so that the just requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who rule our lives not in accordance with our lower nature but in accordance with the dictates of the Spirit. 5 For those whose lives are ruled by what their lower nature bids them do have their minds set on the things pertaining to that nature, while those whose lives are ruled by the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit. 6 And to set the mind on what our lower nature would have us do means death, while to set the mind on the Spirit means life and peace. 7 That is because the mind which is set on what are the requirements of our lower nature is in a state of enmity towards God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot. 8 It is impossible that those whose lives are ruled by their lower nature should please God. 9 But your lives are not such as to be ruled by your lower nature. They are ruled by the Spirit, if indeed it be true that the Spirit of God dwells within you.”
This translation is the clearest and most understandable of any of the many translations I have read over the many years of my life.
When we read this translation, the following meaning comes across.
A paraphrase of the above verses as I see it is as follow:-
“It is about believers. I say this because verse 6 of chapter 7 reads, “But now we have been set free from the law, having died to that which once held us captive”. He speaks not of Jews but of believers in Christ. Now to verse 23, chapter 7. Paul, as a believer, had an understanding of the law of God in its righteousness. He accepted it. However, he also knew that within him was another law. This law had such power within that he did not have the ability to obey the law of God. He could not obey the law of God. It was beyond his powers. He could only see himself as one who while agreeing to the law of God, was in bondage to another law. This law was in his whole body. Every part of his body was subject to that law – the law of sin that always meant death. Death of spirit, soul and eventually body.
At the same time he recognized there was a way out of this situation. He thanked God for it. While recognizing that his true self was a servant of the law of God he also could see that his lower self was a servant to obeying the law of sin.
There was an alteration in his condition and the condition of all those who believe in Christ. To believe in Him is to be in union with Him. Because of that union with Christ, God cannot place a sentence against us bringing us under condemnation. Because we are in Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit now in us has freed us from the power of the law of sin in us that results in sin and death.
The righteous law of God had no power to overcome sin in us. It was not because the law was not righteous but rather because sin had such a power and a hold over us. Rather than the law of God being able to control we were under the power of the law of sin within our bodies. This kept us out of the righteousness of the law. We were unable to comply with the law of God.
God intervened by sending his Son to be like us with a human nature, in order to deal with sin. Being His Son, Jesus Christ is divine and deity, unable to sin. He Himself did not need judgment. God judged sin in human nature by passing judgment on Jesus who stood in our place. He was condemned to death on the cross instead of us. Where sin had the power, in the human body, God effected His judgment against it in the person of His Son.
The sin was judged and the law could then be master of it. This occurred because Jesus Christ fulfilled all the requirements of the law. He even submitted to the baptism of John that was not believers’ baptism but a baptism for repentance of sin under the Law. The Law was still operative for Israel when John came. Christ did not have any sin. He acted his submission to the requirements of the law as He did in every jot and tittle and so was baptised.
He fulfilled the Law in our place.
The Law still exists. It is the righteous Law of God. It is fulfilled in us practically as we submit to the Holy Spirit and not to the demands of our lower nature. In this way we are not at enmity with God any longer. Our lives are ruled by the Holy Spirit. Then we please God.”
We are not to act as prisoners as though we have never been pardoned and never freed from the prison of sin. "In Christ Jesus" means the new way of life through faith in Christ. Baptism, not by water, is "into Christ" by union with Christ through faith in Him. We are counted as having died with Him, buried with Him. We are “counted” as having died with Him. He, sinless humanity, the Son of God, could not have united to Himself anything sinful. His humanity was always only lived in purity. Having no earthly father, he was never under the curse of sin on Adam. He was the curse-bearer, in His flesh - not in His Divine Spirit. He was the sin-bearer. He as our Surety, Guarantor, who bore the weight of our imputed sin.
In considering these verses, we should go back to the beginning of Romans and see the relationship to the cross of Christ. He "was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification", 4:25. His death is mentioned in 5:6-11,17 as being the basis of our salvation. Chapter 6:1-11 deals with the death and resurrection of Christ and our participation in it. Now there is no condemnation for us. We are delivered from the law of sin and death. It is not only that we live, but Christ lives in them. He lives in us, we live in Him. To be in Christ is to be a member of the true church. "Who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit" should be at end of Romans 8:4b. "Law" here means "principle".
Christ satisfied the Divine claims on us by His perfect obedience and by His sinless sin-bearing, Galatians 4:4, Philippians 2:8. God condemned sin on Him who was the sinless sin offering. He officially took our sin. Sin was never personally inherited in Him. He took on Himself the load of imputed guilt of our sin. This had the effect of penal consequences. This included all that He suffered of abasement, humiliation, heaviness in the Garden of Gethsemane, temptation, human suffering and mortality.
The "law of the Spirit" here is contrasted to the "law of sin and death". The law of the Spirit is the law of life. The Spirit by His influence or power produces right action without any rules. With the entry of "the Spirit" in this letter, there is no further talk of defeat. The warfare between the two natures still goes on but where the Holy Spirit is in control the old nature must give way. (There is no mention of warfare in the believer’s inner being between him and Satan). Jesus was sent in the "likeness of sinful flesh", not "flesh" but "sinful flesh" (flesh of sin). "In sinful flesh" alone would mean sin in Him. He came in likeness. He was the eternal Son by “eternal generation”. There was never a moment in time when He was not the eternal Son. Yet He came in our likeness. There was no obvious difference. He looked like us. He was poor, He toiled like us, He suffered hunger, thirst and tiredness and mortality. Yet He knew no sickness. He bore the marks of our sin because He took on Himself the load of our imputed guilt of sin.
"And for sin" as a sin offering (sacrifice for sin). 2 Corinthians 5:21. He did not become sin itself as the Faith Movement teachers say. They spring from Kenyon (Christian Science College), Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth and Gloria Copeland. It is blasphemy to say Christ became sin itself, i.e. a sinner. 1 Peter 2:22 “He committed no sin” and Hebrews 7:26, “holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens”.
He "Condemned sin in the flesh", in the flesh of Christ, in His human nature, sentence was passed and executed on sin. We are united to Christ know the power of sin broken, Romans 6:6. Sin destroys a person. It is much like a person and so becomes personified (5:12-8:3). Sin as a person was righteously condemned and judged in Christ Jesus. It was judged in His flesh.
Romans 8:4. Here is the fulfilment of Jeremiah 31:33; Isaiah 54:10; Ezekiel 36:26. Holiness is not following an external law. It is the Holy Spirit producing His fruit, reproducing graces in the perfection of the life of Christ. He gave up His life as a sin offering on His peoples behalf. So the death sentence has been passed on indwelling sin. Sin is still dwelling within us.
Sin had no foothold in Jesus. Sin as power over sinners, was overcome in His death. The fruits of that victory are now made good to all who are "in Him". After the "Spirit" who is the Spirit of God? The human spirit is not excluded. The spirit is dead until aroused to life in Christ by the Spirit of God. "Walk after the spirit" means the action of the human spirit in response to the guidance of the divine Spirit. "Who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit", shows that this walk does not spring from our emotions (seated in our soul) but from the Holy Spirit in our spirit. Emotionalism is not the sign of the Spirit’s work in and through us. We may become emotional but it is not the sign. It can be the result of the Spirit working within us. It can be the result of mass psychological response. That can even do us good.
However, there is something deeper and better for us as believers than that. We should aim for the best and greatest of the inheritance there in the heavenly places, for us. "Fulfilled in us" is "find its full accomplishment, not merely performed by us", in our sanctification, the ultimate end of our redemption, Colossians 1:22; Ephesians 2:10. Passive Tense shows the work is not ours, but of God by His grace.
Romans 8:5-8. "Dominated" in an unsaved person who is habitually dominated by the indwelling sinful nature. "Mind" is the setting of ones mind deliberately upon a certain thing. The unsaved puts his mind on those things that the sinful nature has always welling up within itself, the things of sin. "Carnally minded" means the mind of the flesh (evil nature). In the unsaved, the mind is controlled by its evil nature. He is dead in trespasses and sins, i.e. separated from God and His life. He is on his way to a final and everlasting state of death in eternity. "Spiritually minded" means "the mind possessed by the spirit i.e. controlled by Him". This person has the life that God is, and peace. He is tied together with God and His life after having been separated by sin. The reason for death is enmity against God. "Subject" is a military term, "to arrange in order under". That mind is not under the command of God but of Sin, not able to please God, unsaved. The seat of indwelling sin is the flesh, in permanent rebellion, "living to please themselves".
Romans 8:9-11. "You" is emphatic. Believers' true, eternal lives, are not in the sphere of the flesh but of the Spirit. The Spirit of God has His home in them. He is actively there, living in them. This, together with our having been made partakers of the divine nature, and the fact that God has broken the power of the evil nature, puts that person out of the sphere of the evil nature. It puts him within the sphere of the Holy Spirit. The saved are not in grip of the evil nature that has the spirit of this world, Satan, working in it, but under the control of the Holy Spirit as they yield themselves to Him.
The "body" here is human body. "Spirit" of man is that part which gives him God-consciousness and enables him to worship God when that spirit is made alive in Christ in a new creation by the Holy Spirit. The believer's human body is dead in the sense that it has death with sin in it. Adam's sin brought both spiritual and physical death to each member of humanity. It is healed at the resurrection. The believer's spirit is alive now because the Holy Spirit energizes it with divine life that is righteous in its quality. The Spirit is the Spirit of God. Only through Christ is the Spirit known and received. Eternal life is not only unending in its nature, but also ethical and "spirit"-ual in its make-up.
"Quicken" is to cause to live, make alive, give life. It is our "Mortal bodies". If we have died, we do not have a mortal body any longer. Therefore, this verse is about the mortal body which we now have. It will be made to live with the Spirit of Holiness that raise Jesus from the dead. We have been "raised with Christ", Ephesians 2:5,6 and "God made you alive together with Christ", Colossians 2:13, will do this to the body as we present it as a living sacrifice to God, Romans 12:1,2. This will produce sanctification in our lives through the body's quickening by the Spirit., Sin is not only in the nature but it comes through the genes at birth into the body. It is passed on from generation to generation.
Romans 8:12-14. "So then, since the saint is not within the sphere of evil nature, the power of the latter having been broken, and since he is within the sphere of the Holy Spirit, he is under no obligation to the evil nature to live under its dominion." "Sons", huios, as in Galatians 4:5 used of a mature child of God in a legal standing as against a child of God, teknon, in his minority, Galatians 4:1-3.
"Adoption" from huiothesias, "to place as sons". "The processes of legal adoption by which the chosen heir became entitled re property - and with regard to becoming one with the one giving him the status". The Holy Spirit places children of God, "teknon" "born ones", as adult sons in a legal standing before God and in relation to Him. The adopted son of God becomes in a close sense, one with the heavenly Father.
"Cry" a loud cry, expressing deep emotion, saying "Father" and repeated as by a child. The Holy Spirit bears witness to our spirit that we are "teknon" "born ones", by nature. Our Spirit-energized spirit joins the Holy Spirit in a joint-testimony. "Testifies to our spirit". Our own spirit tells us we are God’s children, but the voice it uses is by the divine Spirit. This witness is something different from a feeling or conclusion. It is the certainty of the presence and work of the Spirit within.
Romans 8:15. "Your reception of the Spirit did not issue in your returning to slavery and fear, rather it issued in your adoption as sons". Good News Bible has the best translation of all - "For the Spirit that God has given you does not make you slaves and cause you to be afraid; instead, the Spirit makes you God’s children".
"Slavery" equally describes Jews under the tyranny of sin awakened by Law and thus fearful of God, or Gentiles under the power of sin without God and therefore without hope and full of fear. The Spirit person is no longer full of fear and bondage but is free.
In Galatians 4:5 our "receiving adoption as "sons" was the result of Christ's sacrificial death. God sent his Son "in order to redeem those under the Law, in order that we might receive adoption as `sons." Christ is not mentioned here. The Spirit is the central thought. He is called "the Spirit of adoption [as sons)", a phrase used against its opposite, "Spirit of slavery." The effect of the Spirits presence is emphasised. The Spirit, who does not lead to slavery, on the one hand, is in fact the agent of "adoption as sons". Here again we can see Paul’s basic belief in the Trinity. Such adoption was secured for us by Christ, as Galatians makes clear. Here it has been made effective in the life of the believer through the work of the Spirit. Here it is on the day by day relationship to God as his children. So it is "By whom we cry `Abba, Father’. "
This emphasis follows into the next sentence, "The Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are God’s children." It is on the present reality of the Spirit for both "sonship" and righteousness. Paul is interested in the ongoing life of the Spirit, who assures us in the midst of the "already/not yet" that we are God’s children and heirs of His glory. In Galatians 4:6 it is the Spirit himself who cries "Abba, Father" from within the believers heart.
Romans 8:16. "When we cry Abba! Father! it is that very Spirit "bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God". That is, as we cry "Abba" to God, we do so knowing we are God's children. We do this by the Spirit who has given us birth, Titus 3:6 and is now causing our cry. How do "we" know that we are God's children? Because by inspiring us to cry "Abba-Father," the Spirit of God thereby bears witness with us (i.e. our own spirits) that we belong to God as his children. "Inner witness" results, but it is not just some deep interior witness that the Spirit makes within us. By our spirits we see Spirit. The Spirit is the presence of God living within us. We are still human. He has redeemed our humanity and now works through it.
The Spirit is not there in a forceful way. It is to be according to our own will. Rather the Spirit has come to do what Law could not. He writes obedience on the heart in such a way that God’s people will follow in God’s ways by His direct help. The Christian life is by the Spirit; but we cry, or walk, or conform our behaviour, or follow, as the case may be. Thus, the Spirit is present, and in this case "bears witness," but he does so as Someone apart from ourselves. We yield to Him and His leading we follow or are inspired by Him to speak.
The Spirit is personal. We should commune with Him. By both "the Spirit himself" and the verb "bears witness with" Paul declares the Spirit’s personal existence. One does not speak of "the influence itself" as "bearing witness with" another person. Combined with verses 26-27 that follow, this text shows that the Spirit is a Person. This leads directly to the next section, to verses 18-30. Present suffering and future glory both have promise because of the first fruits of the final eternal harvest, the Spirit of God himself.
Romans 8:17. Now is the final outcome of our "adoption as sons”. The real importance of our being "children" of God means we are his "heirs." We are "fellow-heirs" with Christ. Heirs of all of God’s eternal glory, that is the present and future hope. It is wonderful. Joint-heirs if we suffer with Him sharing His sufferings by faith, and in spiritual death and resurrection with Him. Verse 15, we "must put to death the activities of the body" by refusing a life directed by the "flesh". The suffering of tribulation and persecution also indicates union with Christ, Colossians 1:24, "fill up".
The final word of verse 17, "if indeed we share in his sufferings, we shall also share in his glory", reminds us of, "let us boast in our hope of God’s glory" "let us also boast in our sufferings".
Romans 8:18. There are sufferings in our living in this world. If the sufferings are for Christ, blessed are we in that regard. Whatever they are, they cannot be compared with the glory reserved in heaven that is to be revealed in us when we finally arrive there.
Romans 8:19-21. "Creature” vv.19,20 in the KJV should really be “creation”. Some say this is all about the world of nature including animals. My own view is that such are irrational and therefore could never have an eager longing as v.19, “the creation waits with eager longing”. Indeed, the verses that mention “creation” here are followed in v.24 with a “For – in hope we are saved”. “For” is also “Because” and means that the “we” who are saved are those spoken about in the preceding five verses.
Please bear with us in this as there is major importance to be attached to the passage vv.19-23 for two long comments. I find they explain the whole position most clearly.
This is confirmed by Barnes who explains it as follows:
“The main design of the passage is, to show the sustaining power of the gospel in the midst of trials, by the prospect of the future deliverance and inheritance of the sons of God. This scope of the passage is to guide us in the interpretation. The following are, I suppose, the leading points in the illustration.
(1) The word “creature” refers to the renewed nature of the Christian, or to the Christian as renewed.
(2) He is waiting for his future glory; that is, desirous of obtaining the full development of the honours that await him as the child of God;, Romans 8:19.
(3) He is subjected to a state of trial and vanity, affording comparatively little comfort and much disquietude.
(4) This is not in accordance with the desire of his heart, “not willingly,” but is the wise appointment of God, Romans 8:20.
(5) In this state there is the hope of deliverance into glorious liberty, Romans 8:21.
(6) This condition of things does not exist merely in regard to the Christian, but is the common condition of the world. It all groans, and is in trial, as much as the Christian. He therefore should not deem his condition as especially trying. It is the common lot of all things here, Romans 8:22. But,
(7) Christians only have the prospect of deliverance. To them is held out the hope of final rescue, and of an eternal inheritance beyond all these sufferings. They wait, therefore, for the full benefits of the adoption; the complete recovery even of the body from the effects of sin, and the toils and trials of this live; and thus they are sustained by hope, which is the argument which the apostle has in view.”
Then again we read that Clarke quotes Dr. Lightfoot, a great commentator, as follows:
Dr. Lightfoot’s mode of explanation appears to me to be the best, on the whole. “There is,” says he, “a twofold key hanging at this place, which may unlock the whole, and make the sense plain and easy.
The first is the phrase, πασα ἡ κτισις, which we render the whole creation, Rom. 8:22, and with which we meet twice elsewhere in the New Testament, Mar.16:15. Preach the Gospel, πασῃ τῃ κτισει, to every creature; and Col.1:23. The Gospel was preached, εν πασῃ τῃ κτισει, to every creature. Now it is sufficiently apparent what is meant by πασα κτισις in both these places, viz. all nations, or the heathen world. For that which in St. Mark is, preach the Gospel to every creature, is, in St. Matthew, go and teach, παντα τα εθνη, all nations. And this very phrase in this place lays claim to that very interpretation. And the Hebrew כל הבריות col habberioth, which answers to the Greek πασα ἡ κτισις, every creature, is applied by the Jews to the Gentiles, and that by way of opposition to Israel.
The second key is the word ματαιοτητι, Rom.8:20, which is not unfitly rendered vanity; but then this vanity is improperly applied to the vanishing, dying, changing state of the creation. For ματαιοτης, vanity, does not so much denote the vanishing condition of the outward state, as it does the inward vanity or emptiness of the mind. So the apostle, speaking of the Gentiles concerning whom he speaks here, tells us εματαιωθησαν, They became vain in their imaginations, Rom. 1:21; and again, The Gentiles walk εν ματαιοτητι, in the vanity of their mind, Eph. 4:17; so also, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, ὁτι εισι ματαιοι, that they are vain, 1 Co.3:20. To all which let me add this farther observation, that throughout this whole place the apostle seems to allude to the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt, and their deliverance from it; with a comparison made betwixt the Jewish and the Gentile Church. When God would deliver Israel from his bondage, he challenges him for his Son, and his first-born, Ex. 4:22. And in like manner the Gentiles earnestly expect and wait for such a kind of manifestation of the sons of God, within and among themselves. The Romans, to whom the apostle writes, knew well how many predictions and promises it had pleased God to publish by his prophets, concerning gathering together and adopting sons to himself among the Gentiles; the manifestation of which sons the whole Gentile world with a neck as it were stretched out, as the word αποκαραδοκια implies, (απο, from, and καρα, the head, and δοκαω, to expect), doth now wait for.” See the observations at the end of this chapter, Rom. 8:39.
To continue in verse 19 with "Earnest expectation" or “eager longing” means watching with the head erect and outstretched; a waiting in suspense; the attention turned away from other objects and as in Philippians 1:20 with Paul.
“Patiently waits”; NRSV has it “waits with eager longing”. See Genesis 3:17. The “for the creation” was subjected to “futility”. This creation is the Gentile world. Commencing with the building of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11, they all went into the deepest of idolatry. This remained the total condition of the whole of the Gentile world until the gospel began to be preached and brought some out of it. Israel also was often in idolatry.
"Vanity" or “futility” means idle, without result, useless, aimless and does not measure up to that intended. Adam’s sin and not God’s will was the direct and special cause of it. God’s righteousness was shown in the punishment of sin and He is the One who subjected them to be fixed in their condition. The eventual cause of it was as above.
To this new creation, the renewal by the Holy Ghost, was given the hope. It awaits its "redemption". This “Creation” seems to be that of the “new creation” of 2 Corinthians 5:17. As it is part of us in this “body of humiliation”, it also shares both in our groaning and in our pain. We cannot relate it to Isaiah 55:12, where said to be at the restoration (final and eternal) of Israel, "the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you and the trees of the fields will clap their hands”. That is metaphorical language and we should note it is in the midst of all the Scripture’s prophecies about the Saviour, in salvation, coming to die so that His kingdom of righteousness can be established first of all in the hearts of believers.
There is to be for each particular person who is a new creation, a deliverance from the corruption of death. It is now bound to decay. The final redemption will change us so that this “mortality will put on immortality”. “The creation itself” indicates it will be each individual who will go into eternity in heaven as the same individual but with a total redemption of body as well as of soul and of spirit forever.
Romans 8:22,23. “The whole creation "We too moan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free," Verse 23, "We know that has been groaning in common travail until this very hour”. “The whole creation groans together and suffers birth pangs together to this very hour; not only so but even we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, also groan within, as we eagerly await adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."
It has been taught that this means the animals will take part in a renewing on earth. Possibly this belief relates to the non Scriptural belief of a millennium on earth, “When the lion will lie down with the lamb”, Isaiah, taught wrongly in a literal way and not poetical or metaphorical manner.
To me, it speaks of “nature pictured in the pangs of childbirth”. This is a forerunner to the clear revelation of Peter’s “What we may expect in accordance with the promise which God has made, is this, that there will be new heavens and a new earth, righteousness having its dwelling place in them”. God’s salvation is for mankind and does not include the animals. His eternal purpose is to have a created world where there is no disorder but rather complete righteousness where He himself will dwell among men and He shall be their God and they shall be His people. “God Himself will be with them. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no longer – for the old order of things has passed away”, Revelation 21:3,4. Oh blessed hope! Oh blessed day!
It is for this day that we, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, also groan within. We have our salvation but only in the sense of waiting for it in hope. Our bodies will be free and we will be changed, the mortal then putting on immortality. We are eagerly waiting for God’s adoption of us as sons for eternity with Him. We shall then have the redemption of our bodies that until that day, will always be under the curse of sin bringing forth natural death.
The Holy Spirit is the anticipation of final salvation and a pledge that we who have the Spirit shall in the end be saved completely. (This is not the baptism in the Spirit but the Spirit in salvation). The Spirit is not God's final gift. The redemption of our body is future, Romans 3:24, 1 Corinthians 1:30; Colossians 1:14. There will be a spiritual body, instead of a natural body, 2 Corinthians 5:7. We are "Saved" regarding the future. Not yet saved fully. It is only in hope, supported by the Holy Spirit. We walk now by faith, not by sight. The resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Spirit are the reasons we know our hope for the future will be fulfilled.
Thus we, the created order, not only anxiously awaits our "revelation," but also "groans and suffers birth pangs together." Once that point is made, Paul returns to the point with which he began in verses 17c and 18, our present suffering and future glory. Having described the created order in terms of "groaning" and "eagerly awaiting," he now uses that same language with regard to our own present existence. Because we have received the first fruits of the final harvest, the Spirit himself, even though we also "groan" in the present, we do so as those who are know we will have the final "adoption as `sons " in the form of the "redemption of our bodies."
“First fruits" is the third image of its kind used by Paul to illustrate the role of the Spirit in our present existence as "already" but "not yet." As with "the down payment of the Spirit," means "the first fruits, the Spirit himself." The others are "down payment, first instalment"; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:14 and "seal"; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13.
Paul uses this in 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23, to refer to the Risen Christ as the "first fruits" of the final end-time harvest of resurrection, which the resurrection of Christ has guaranteed. Here and as with the imagery of "down payment," the presence of the indwelling Spirit acts for us as God’s guarantee of that which we "eagerly await." The reason for the use of this imagery, and not "down payment," is that the present setting is end-time, and "first fruits," with the idea of "harvest," fits that context better than "down payment," with its emphasis on present "instalment."
The outpouring of the Spirit and the resurrection of the dead are the main proofs of hopes for the future. For the early church, the outpouring of the Spirit meant that the future had already arrived in some measure. The future had begun. In another sense, it had not yet come.
Romans 8:24-25. At the present time believers live by faith. We are the children of Abraham the father of the “faith-ful”. Scriptures say a few times, “The just shall live by faith”. These two verses clearly indicate the faith we have been given and possess. As it says in Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is the assurance of things not yet seen”. KJV uses “substance” but that is not a good translation as faith is not material. Rather, “faith is the assurance”.
Cassirer’s translation of these two verses say it very beautifully – “We have indeed obtained our salvation, but only in the sense of our reposing our hope in it. But then, an object of hope is such no longer when it is present to view; for if we can see a thing,, how can we be said to hope for it? On the other hand, what is implied in our hoping for something which as yet we do not see is this, that we should be waiting for it with patience”.
After a brief word about our hope, the conclusion in vv. 26-27 states the nature of the Spirit’s role in our present groaning.
CHAPTER 8 – 2nd SECTION
Romans 8:26-27. Once again, please bear with a long explanation, this time of these verses. Here the theme is "groaning" again,” which is really means praying in the Spirit. This, of course, is with other tongues. The groaning comes out as tongues. It is not literal groans or the person being silent. This kind of praying also is full of hope, both because the Spirit helps us in our weakness when we do not know how to pray as we ought. Also because God knows the mind of his own Spirit. This assures us that such praying is "according to God’s will" and "on behalf of the saints." There is faith in tongues prayer but first of all, it takes faith to pray in other tongues.
This was not the only way they prayed. These verses are about a normal happening for the church then. Wuest, a non-Pentecostal Greek scholar says, "Speaking to God in the Spirit with tongues”. 1 Corinthians 14:2 may be included in this expression that covers longings and hopes welling up from the spiritual depths and not able to be said in ordinary everyday speech."
The Spirit does the praying here but we are involved in it in some way. The meaning of "assists in our weaknesses" refers to the weaknesses associated with the present suffering, as in 2 Corinthians 10:10-12. These verses mean that often when we pray and in view of the present life of suffering and tribulation, we just do not "know". Our "not knowing" is related to our present weaknesses. These relate to our future redemption, our final revelation as God’s children, clothed in resurrection bodies which have then replaced the present ones that are subject to the same decay as the groaning creation.
I have found a few English translations that read something like this - "We do not know how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit knows, and with words (from His Mind) He expresses what is the will of God". Origen an "early Church" preacher, understood these sentences and this phrase in particular to refer to a kind of private "to oneself" praying in tongues that Paul speaks about in the worship of the church in Corinth. In our devotions we are to often pray in other tongues. We note 1 Corinthians 14:28 recommends the possibility of “praying to God and to oneself”.
A non-Pentecostal scholar has said that verses 15,16 and 23-25 of 1 Corinthians 14 deal with the individual believer and he states, "On the basis of his understanding of verses 15,16, that these verses deal with speaking in tongues in the assembly". Most people do not understand about the possibilities of private praying in tongues and the whole assembly praying in tongues at the same time in a meeting because they misunderstand about Tongues in 1 Corinthians 14. There Paul is mainly dealing with the use of the Gift of Tongues that should be interpreted.
However, Paul is describing private, as over against public praying in tongues in 1 Corinthians 14:12,13-15,19,28. Of Romans 8 this same non-Pentecostal scholar says it is the believer in verse 25 and the worshipping church in v.26. I believe this is the correct understanding and view, as I have seen people praying in tongues together in a meeting and noted it to be very blessed, productive and "in order".
For ourselves personally, we are to pray in other tongues as intercession, according to these verses.
History records that for one hundred years of the church's early existence, the believers prayed in tongues together and sang worship in tongues together at their meetings. This continued for about fifty years after the apostles had all died or been martyred.
In relation to the word “groaning”, much of the understanding about this language in Romans 8:26,27 in Western churches is because they only understand a Western culture in which the majority of people who, when praying privately in Orthodox churches and the equivalent of C.S.I. Churches, (Church of South India) do so silently. They do not speak aloud or "mouth words", except during the Order of Service. When reading, even in the ancient world, and in India and Asia today, learning and memorizing is done aloud. It used to be the custom to pray aloud.
It is apparent that it does not mean prayer without word, that is, inaudible, and neither does it mean a literal groaning. I have heard Pentecostals in Indonesia "groaning" as they prayed - and not using Indonesian words or praying in tongues. That is not praying. Rather, that is the expression of soulish feelings. Also, in Australia and in other parts of the word, people used to "groan" using this verse as a basis, in the so-called “Toronto Blessing”. Their groaning is generally the result of some emotional upset. In any case, it should be noted that we cannot base a doctrine or practice on only one verse of Scripture.
A reference to this in the New Testament, is Philip "hearing" the Ethiopian eunuch as he is "reading" from Isaiah Acts 8:30. They also prayed aloud. In Daniel 6 Daniel obviously prayed aloud when praying alone. Also the parable of Jesus in Luke 18:9-14, and Luke’s account of Jesus as well as the Synoptic narrative about his prayer in the Garden. In all of these cases the narrator assumes a culture where people prayed "aloud," that is, spoke as they prayed.
These verses, Romans 8:26,27 are also similar to what is stated in other places as being "praying with the Spirit", see 1 Corinthians 14:14-l5; Ephesians 6:18.
(a) the Spirit intercedes, the Spirit within us and
(b) the persons praying do not understand what the Spirit is saying. These two points always occur when we pray in the Spirit, i.e. in Tongues – 1 Corinthians 14:2, “speaks to God for nobody understands”.
This is how Paul prayed often, in 1 Corinthians 14:14-15. It is of two kinds: praying - with his mind and praying with his spirit. With his mind still was in the Spirit of God, Ephesians 6:18. It was often a supernatural flow of words as he prayed in a kind of prophecy - or it was as the Holy Ghost flowed out from him and he prayed with his spirit in other tongues.
Paul was "praying in tongues". It was stated by him to be "to himself and to God". He also says that he does this more than all of them praying in tongues 1 Corinthians 14: 2,13-15,19,28. In 1 Corinthians 14:18 he wishes such prayer in other tongues for all of them v.5 because it edifies the one so praying v.4.
It is quite strange, but sadly typical of we humans, that the gaze is on “signs and wonders”, now meaning strange actions such as laughing, crowing etc. and healings with falling over. Of course, most of these are not of the Spirit and are unscriptural, hence not of God. We seem to miss that in Mark 16, Jesus listed “signs following” to include with healing and casting out of devils, speaking in other tongues. We should realise that speaking in tongues is as much a sign for unbelievers and ‘unbelieving’ believers as healing is meant to be. We must not under rate speaking in other tongues because the Holy Spirit in giving us the Scriptures, did not do so.
In the meetings, there is a need for a variety of gifts and ministries, so as to edify the whole church when it gather together. All the gifts of 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14 are meant to operate in meetings of the local assembly. These chapters not only cover the gifts of the Spirit but they also cover praying, singing and worshipping in the Spirit in other tongues. Those tongues are not the Gift of Tongues. They are the tongues given on reception of the Baptism with the Spirit, which experience is given not by the Holy Spirit but by the Lord Jesus Christ, as is stated in Acts 2:32,33, “This Jesus God raised up. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear.”
Looking again at Romans 8:27. "He who searches the hearts (note the plural) knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He intercedes for the saints (plural)". In this verse we are to understand the subject matter is about all the people in the meeting praying together in other Tongues, in the Spirit. In this kind of praying in the assembly, the Spirit is able to pray through and for all the saints at the one time.
I have noticed that praying in Tongues by all the people in a meeting at the one time when it is in order, without undue shouting, any shaking, clapping, or shaking of chairs etc., does not cause the unbelievers to stumble. I have experienced that many unbelievers become believers and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour when they see this orderly demonstration of the supernatural Lord of glory in the midst. I have known them to join in with the speaking in Tongues, some from heathen backgrounds and others, Christians from C.S.I. churches or other denominations. This was because those needing salvation, instantly believed in Jesus Christ, and experienced what they did in the house of Cornelius, as found in Acts 10:44-48. All believed this miracle of speaking in other tongues was supernaturally from Jesus Christ.
I have had meetings where the unsaved attended, found Christ and then began to speak in other tongues. The unbelievers see it as a sign and generally do not scorn it. It is other believers from different denominations that, strangely enough. tend to scorn it. This is really unbelief.
In 1 Corinthians 14:22, one translation says, “Then strange languages are not meant to warn believers but unbelievers” whereas another reads “to attract unbelievers” then again, “tongues speak as a sign to them”. This latter is in line with Isaiah 28:11 which is what Paul quotes in verse 21. In actuality, in Isaiah 28, the people were so rebellious that God said they “would fall over backwards”. This is the only time falling over backwards is mentioned in the Bible. Despite that one sees it as a common event in Australia and other parts of the world.
The importance of “tongues” is found in the words of Jesus Christ, Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you”, which happened in Acts 2:1-4. “Power” in our English Bibles is from the Greek “dunamis”. I think that most who use this verse misunderstand it, as I did for many years. The dictionary sys it means “authority”, “right to act”, “potential”, “power in reserve”, “power to do miracles”, “the right to act” and very importantly, “the miracle itself”.
What is “the miracle itself”? If we check Acts 2:4, we find “they began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave utterance”. The miracle was and is “speaking in other tongues”. The power is in that miracle of “speaking in other tongues”. I have proved this. We went to Indonesia that had Pentecostal churches void of the experience, with perhaps 1% only having received. We ministered in many of them and with Charismatics as they came into being in the late seventies.
We knew we had one night, two nights perhaps to get whole churches baptized with the Spirit, all speaking in other tongues. That naturally would have been an impossible situation. We would speak hours before meetings praying in other tongues. The whole church would receive, in one meeting, two meetings or sometimes pastors who had been in Pentecostal ministry for nearly thirty years, would receive and speak in other tongues.
Continually for forty years in our experience, there has been ministry according to the book of Acts. We have seen the Lord do all kinds of healings and miracles with even the raising of the dead on three occasions. We have seen whole churches worshipping in the Spirit, some people receiving gifts of the Spirit. Yes, there is power in praying in other tongues. Then, as we preach the Truth of the gospel and the epistles, the Lord “confirms the Word with signs and wonders and gifts of the Holy Spirit”. That is the reason the apostles had the signs, wonders and gifts of the Holy Spirit. We also, if we pay the price in prayer and knowledge of Bible Truth and instruction of people.
Let us look at various other praying in tongues in 1 Corinthians 14:
a. There is a difference between the uninterpreted tongues in private prayer or people praying or worshipping together in other tongues, and the use of the Gift of Tongues that needs interpretation 1 Corinthians 14:19.
b. 1 Corinthians 14:14-15 shows that private "praying in tongues" needs no interpretation. The prayer is "by him/herself" and "to God" verses 2 and 28. In such praying "the mind" does not enter into the prayer as such v. 13.
c. Such prayer is "by the Spirit", verse 2, and in verses 14-15 he says "my spirit prays," i.e., "the Spirit prays in tongues through me".
d. In such prayer by the Spirit one speaks mysteries to God.
e. Such praying is with words and aloud.
f. Even though such prayer is not from the mind, Paul says that he will pray this way verses 14 and 15 and that those so praying are "edified", verse 4.
g. Since this is the only form of prayer in Pauls letters that is specifically said to be "by the "Spirit" Paul wishes that all would so pray, 1 Corinthians 14:2. He urged believers to "pray by the Spirit" Ephesians 6:18. The same Greek word, 1 Corinthians 14:2,14,15, is used here as in all other places regarding "praying by the Spirit".
h. The Spirit prays within the believer, and does so with "words" that are not understood by the person praying. There is a connection between "speaking mysteries by the Spirit" in 1 Corinthians 14:2 and "the Spirit interceding with inarticulate groanings" in Romans 8:26,27.
3. Note the similarity regarding "groaning" in Scriptures. Verse 27 continues on from v. 23; yet in v. 23 we groan, while here the Spirit intercedes with groanings. This is like 1 Corinthians 14 where "by the Spirit" in verse 2 becomes "my spirit prays" in. Likewise with the Abba cry, which in Galatians 4:6 is expressly that of the Spirit, "the Spirit-cries Abba, Father", but in Romans 8:15.16 above it is by the Spirit that we cry, "Abba Father". It seems the Spirit indeed does the praying/crying through our own "spirits," using our mouths, but in one instance the emphasis is on the Spirit, while in the other it is on our participation.
4. That Paul now describes such prayer in the language of "groaning" is the way he generally uses words in relation to the context. Where it says "groaning" it cannot be literal groaning, but rather with words. A prayer always must have words. To groan is not to use words. It is the Spirit Who prays through us, even though we pray. This can only be other tongues - not our own language, not words from our mind and neither a literal groan. Emotion is not a feature that is mentioned in the Scriptures as being involved when we "pray in the Spirit". The use of emotions does not prove anything is from the Spirit.
5. We understand that the "praying in the Spirit" here is certainly tongues because "God knows what the Spirit" is "saying" even if we do not. Such a sentence is unnecessary if what Paul is describing is a form of personal prayer, in which the Spirit is merely "helping" our own praying in our own language where we know what we are praying. The Father knows the mind of the Spirit is what gives one confidence, even though he intercedes with-"inarticulate groaning"-
6. Paul is speaking about a common, everyday, experience of prayer for himself and others. He also says that this kind of praying is "intercession by the Spirit", on our behalf.
7. There is no other known phenomenon, either in Paul or the early church apart from the prayer in the Spirit described in 1 Corinthians 14, that resembles what Paul now describes in such a matter-of-fact way. A point also made by Kasemann, but which has largely been ignored by others. Scholars treat this rather as an "isolated" phenomenon that is not related to 1 Corinthians 14, as a kind of everyday thing. However, they reject the one "everyday thing" in Paul. i.e. his praying in tongues very often. Even Pentecostals and Charismatics would replace tongues with falling over, laughing, crying, shaking, groaning, clapping saying, "Praise the Lord" and "Hallelujah" etc. It is amazing how little mention is made of praise in one's own language and none of "Hallelujah" in the epistles. It is to be in and of the Spirit.
Many commentaries are by scholars who have never experienced speaking in tongues. We should not listen to them. Unless we have experienced these things, it is not possible to fully understand what could happen in an assembly. Yet at least one commentator, who was not Spirit-filled according to Acts 2:4, acknowledges that these verses are about speaking in tongues.
"Praying in tongues" was a common experience in the early churches. This is how the Roman Church would have understood Paul's letter. Silence about it in some of the other epistles, at least in the language of "speaking in tongues," counts for little, as we would not know the Lords Table was celebrated in the early churches were it not for the abuse of it in Corinth. This makes certain that speaking in tongues was the common, everyday experience of the early churches to pray in this manner. We learn about this mainly because it was abused in the gatherings of God's people in Corinth. That Paul prayed in this way more than even the Corinthians shows this was a regular way of his own personal spiritual life. See 1 Corinthians 14:4,5a,15,18.
The historical record shows that for the first one hundred years of the church, assemblies of believers prayed in tongues together and sang in tongues together as a regular feature of their services. This meant their private prayer also involved prayer and worship in other tongues. The common procedure happened long after the apostles and their disciples had passed away.
Paul shows that it is "the Spirit" and "God". This makes us confident when we are engaged in such praying in tongues.
a. Let us read about the Spirit and God in 1 Corinthians 12:10-12. The Spirit can perfectly know God's mind. Since only our own spirits know our minds, the same is true with the Spirit. God's own Spirit knows the purposes of God. What we do not understand, God does. He knows the mind of the Spirit. Here is more evidence of the Trinity.
b. God the Father knows the mind of the Spirit. He also knows that the Spirit is asking "in accordance with God himself", Romans 8:26. That is, his appeal will never be affected by our own plans or prayers from our own soulish or intellectual desires. The Spirit appeals "on behalf of the saints". He who is very God, as is the Father and the Son, prays God's will and His ways. The one who leads us in the ways of God, testifying that we are children of God, Romans 8:14, will intercede on our behalf with supernatural language according to the will of heaven. "The just shall live by faith" and in this spiritual life of prayer in the Spirit, in other tongues, faith is necessary. The scriptures here show praying in tongues is a very important way to pray. We can always have faith that all will be well, despite present weaknesses, suffering and the need to endure. The Spirit is praying according to God's will. As the Bible reads, with "inarticulate groanings" that God himself well understands. He knows the mind of the Spirit. The Spirit is given as the first fruits and pledge of our heavenly inheritance, Ephesians 1:14. Prayer is to be a heavenly exercise. We enter the very Holy of Holies in the Spirit. We need a heavenly language and not one springing from the earthly life.
Romans 8:28-30. "And we know that for those
who love God, the Spirit works all things together for good, to those called in
keeping with God's purpose; because whom he knew in advance, he also predestined
to be conformed unto the likeness of his Son, so that he might have the status
of Firstborn among many (brothers and sisters; and whom he predestined, these he
also called; and those he called, these he also justified; and whom he
justified, these he also glorified". We are full of faith. The Spirit works all
things for the good of those whom God has called. They are predestined to be
conformed to the likeness of the Son.
The Spirit is the firstfruits of the future harvest, God's guarantee that He is the one who brings final redemption and the redemption of the body, Romans 8:23. In "groaning" by interceding, the Spirit helps us as we pray in other tongues. We continue to wait for the final revelation. Then we will experience the ultimate "working all things" for the good of those for whom He now intercedes.
We live now a life in the "already" that is identification with Christ in his sufferings. In a sense we live in the life that is "not yet" and even now we identify with him in his present glorification. "They who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution". The believers in the early churches knew the Person of the Holy Spirit. He was in and with them. Particularly in their prayer life in the Spirit in other tongues, they would realise this. He was not just a power or Manifestation. In Acts 9:31, after the terrible persecution they suffered at the hands of Saul who was now converted, they were living in "the comfort of the Holy Spirit". This would have been in two ways. Firstly, as they prayed in other tongues, privately and together in meetings, they were comforted, as we ourselves often experience. Secondly, as the Gift of Prophecy is for "upbuilding and encouragement and consolation", 1 Corinthians 14:3, they would have been comforted through this Gift operating in their meetings.
Paul now closes this portion by pointing out God's present and future purposes in the lives of those whom he has called and who also love him. God purposes our good which takes the form of our being "conformed" into the image of his Son-this is what we have been predestined for-which in turn concludes with our finally being glorified with him. What began in verse 17 is now brought to conclusion. Paul looks at the future for a moment. He also looks back on the whole of our relationship with God. This began in His divine purpose and foreknowledge. It concludes with our being glorified with Christ.
Below are the various statements about the Spirit in this chapter:
1. On the basis of the work of Christ, the Spirit, as the Spirit of life, sets us free from the "law" of sin and of death.
2. As we walk in the Spirit, the righteous requirement of Law is fulfilled in us. This brings its time of usefulness to an end.
3. People who live by the Spirit act differently from those who live by the flesh. The presence of the Spirit is shows that we are God’s people in the present age. This could be the Spirit of Christ in all believers. It could be as well, the added being “filled with the Spirit” according to Acts 2:4.
4. The Spirit is both "the Spirit of Christ" and "the Spirit of God." Since He lives in the believer in the present age, it means Christ and the Father are now present with God’s people. There is no room here, either for Jesus Only or Oneness. It is evident that here is the Trinity.
5. As the Spirit within us now gives life to God's people, it is the Spirit who is the present guarantee of the future. This refers in particular to the resurrection of the body.
6. Since God’s people are Spirit people, they must not live in following the ways of the flesh. It is by the Spirit that they are to "put to death" the deeds of the flesh, that is, the sin that belongs to the carnal nature and their past.
7. On the positive side, God’s people are described as "being led by the Spirit," which means that he leads them in the paths of righteousness that fulfil Law.
“Whom He did foreknow" a term often used, Amos 3:21; Hosea 13:5; 1 Corinthians 8:3; Galatians 4:9. The purpose of God’s predestinating grace was the creation of a new race displaying their Creators glory. God foreknew and foreordained in eternity; calling and justifying in His peoples experience; the glory in the future.
8. The Spirit is the certain evidence that God’s people are his children, having been "adopted" as children through the work of the Spirit and having the Spirit. The Spirit evidenced by the Abba-cry which the Spirit inspires himself bears witness with us that we are God s children.
9. The Spirit is the "firstfruits" of the final future harvest. He it is who is our life in future eternity. His presence now in the lives of believers is both evidence that the future has begun and guarantee of its glorious consummation, wherein the children gain their full inheritance.
10. Now in this life, during our present sufferings and weaknesses, the Spirit helps us in prayer. By praying in the Spirit, believers have the assurance that the Spirit is not only appealing on their behalf before God, but is doing so according to God’s own will and ways, He is working all things together for their good.
11. Our confidence in such praying is because it is the Spirit, the Spirit of God himself, whose mind God knows and thus guarantees that what the Spirit prays through us is heard and understood.
Romans 8:31-39. Amazing grace of God who does
all this vv.1-30 for us sinners. We once walked in the ways of the flesh that
led to death. Now by the Spirit we know the love of God in Christ from which
nothing can separate us. These verses show victorious faith. As in Genesis
22:12, Isaac. Matthew 6:33 "Seek first ...all things added". "Justified" as in
Isaiah 50:8 "He is near that justifies me; who will contend with me? Let us
stand together: who is my adversary. The Lord God will help me; who is he that
shall condemn me"? Silence of Satan, re Joshua, Zechariah 3:1. Psalm 110:1 "The
Lord said unto my Lord". "Intercession", Isaiah 52:13;53:12. Psalm 44:22;
Regarding Romans chapters 9-11, these are about the covenant faithfulness of God seen in the history of the people of God. The big question is, "Who is a Jew?" Is it one of those who go back to Israel or return briefly, where they pray on the Wailing Wall? Is it those who pray "Next year in Jerusalem?" and who wait for a Messiah? Romans 2:28,29 tell us clearly that "a person is not a Jews who is one outwardly nor is true circumcision something external and physical. Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart – it is spiritual and not literal."
Looking at Romans 9:6,14,19-23 this shows God's Word is unfailing. "Is God unrighteous?"; why He still finds fault; He has rights of the potter over clay. Chapter 11 is about the future of the Jews and the character of God. Romans 1-8 was the revelation of the righteousness of God. This was through Jesus Christ, the cross and resurrection and through the Spirit. See 10:4.
Chapter 11 is about the future of the Jews and the character of God. It is a remnant of Jews who will not be rejected by God because they believe in Christ. In that way, God will "save some of them". Romans 1-8 was the revelation of the righteousness of God. This was through Jesus Christ, the cross and resurrection and through the Spirit. See 10:4, "For Christ is the end of the law, so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes". This is for Jew and Gentile.
Israel has been finally rejected as a nation, in accordance with verse 7, "Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened". Cassirer translates it, ""How then does the matter stand? That Israel has failed to attain what it is seeking. The chosen have attained it, while the rest have had their hears made callous".
Paul shows the events of Israel's rejection of the gospel of Jesus Christ are a puzzling outworking of God's faithfulness according to His covenant Only by Israel's unbelief, then by His turning to the Gentiles with a continual offer of salvation to Jews also, can God be true to the promises to Abraham. His promises to Abraham, Genesis 12,15,17 said both that He would give him a worldwide family and that his own seed would share in the blessing. Because of this, Paul expects the church in Rome to be ready to support fully his own mission (to Spain) and to the Gentiles. He wants them to be united, ignoring racial barriers, as in chapters 14,15 that relate to 9-11. In chs.9,10 he rejects a special privilege for the Jews, but in ch.11 seems to reinstate such a position. This seems inconsistent. The answer is in 11:25-27 which is not a large scale last-minute salvation of Israel. Understanding the whole passage leads to the right conclusion.
Originally believers in Rome were Jews, but at the writing of Romans they were now outnumbered by Gentiles. Gentile Christians tended to look down on Jewish brethren, and Jewish Christians resented others. Paul shows both sides of the whole in the purposes of God. Paul also showed the gospel was not a sudden and new plan of God. It was shown in the Old Testament. It was the fulfilment of God's promise to the fathers. It proclaimed that God's way of righteousness through faith by which Abraham was blessed, was open to all who believed as he did. Here is a problem. Abraham's descendants in the natural generally refused to believe the gospel.
Romans 9:1-3. "I am speaking the truth in Christ, I am not lying; my conscience bears witness with me by the Holy Spirit". He turns from the argument of 5:12-8:39 to the larger question of God’s faithfulness with regard to His ancient people, despite their present rejection of Christ. He feels deeply the nationally Jewish rejection since the argument to this point has stopped those rejecting Jews from being identified as Jews. He begins with this oath formula, one of four such in his letters where either the significance of what he is about to say, or else the unexpectedness of it, leads him to call on God as his witness. In the two previous oaths, He says, "I am not lying," and calls on God as his "witness." Here he claims, first, that the truth he speaks is as one who is "in Christ Jesus," Then to strengthen the oath, he says that not only is he about to speak sober truth, but neither therefore is he lying.
In this case, he calls as his second witness his own conscience, which as in 2:15 he appears to understand as an internal, somewhat independent, judge, who bears witness with himself as he speaks that he is not lying.
Paul grieved at the failure of Jews to believe.
Romans 9:4. "The very thing the Israelites are, the men to whom there belongs the adoption as sons of God, as well as the glorious presence, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises."
"And the glory", KJV, shekhinah of God, the created cloud of His dwelling among them the visible of the invisible God. This appeared in the tabernacle of Moses, Solomon's, Exodus 40:34; 1 Kings 8:10. "Covenants" are those of Abraham, Genesis 12:2,3;15:18 17:4; Israel, Exodus 24:8; 34:10; Deuteronomy 29:1 Joshua, Deuteronomy 27:2; Joshua 8:30; 24:25; David, 2 Samuel 23:5; Psalm 89:28. The New Covenant is found in Jeremiah 31:31. Giving of Law, Exodus 20:1; "Promises", Isaiah 55:3; Acts 13:23, 32-34; Romans 4:13-21. Note: Paul does not include "the land" of Israel that so many today revere! He knew that the geographical land was taken from Israel. He knew that "the land" promised to Abraham was the "eternal land, the heavenly city" looked for by Abraham in Hebrews 1:10, and emphasized in Hebrews 12:18-22.
This list shows privileges, throughout Romans until now, have been transferred to the Jews' Messiah. He is their representative. Through Him, the privileges are transferred to all those who are "in Him", Jew or Gentile. They are the Jews' sonship, glory, covenants, law, worship, promises, patriarchs: all have become the glory of the church in Christ.
The ultimate privilege is that the Messiah came, born as a Jew. Romans 1:3,4 has a statement about Christ for the rest of the letter, especially chaps. 5-8. What is said about Christ in 9:5 is at the head of chapters 9-11.
The Jews are the people of the Messiah but
they are this according to the flesh. Their Messiah to whom they belong is not
merely "theirs" but is also "God over all, blessed forever". This is according
to His eternal Being. Here He says Christ is God, but see Colossians 1:16;2:9;
Philippians 2:9 (Lord). Title "Lord" is equivalent of Hebrew Yahweh (Jehovah);
Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11. In Philippians 2:10, there is to be a confession of
"Jesus is Lord" meaning "Jesus is Jehovah" when He is exalted before all the
world in the future. Psalm 45:2,6; Hebrews 1:8. The sinner must confess with his
lips, "Jesus is Lord" on his believing in Christ, Romans 10:9. Because the
Messiah's coming is Israel's privilege and they refuse Him, it becomes their
loss as a nation. Their natural destiny is in Him, but He is God's salvation not
for national Israel alone but for the whole world. The Messiah, also, in His
death brought to a head Israel's own acting out of the sin of Adam. They then
needed the last Adam, 1 Corinthians 15:45, but rejected Him.
Romans 9:5. If Israel follows the privilege of being natural descendants of Abraham, she will miss out on God's intended salvation . She forgets that the God who made promises to Israel is also the Creator of the whole world. He made a covenant with Adam and with Abraham for the whole world. His promises are not for Israel alone, then or in the future. God's covenant with Abraham aimed at giving blessing to the whole world, including the fullest victory over sin and death.
The beginning of the covenant and smaller blessings were for Abraham and his natural offspring. This was the best way of extending them in the future as His covenant with all the blessings, to all the families of mankind. God made a covenant so as to make the people of the world. For the natural descendants of Abraham it could be seen as first fruits. Abraham never owned the land but his descendants did, up to a point. God's actual purpose was the heavenly country for all the saved of earth, Hebrews 11:9,10.
Romans 9:6. Here is revealed the fact that there is not now and never will be an Israel according to the flesh, i.e. a natural or national Israel – as many believe. "They are not all Israel which are of Israel". All Israelites are not in the true Israel of God, and never will be – even in any supposed "Millennium". Paul was much distressed because he knew that "all Israel" did not include the majority of his kinsmen. It shows clearly that Paul did not believe there would be a national Israel in future times. He made no mention of a millennium where a national Israel would exist and would be saved.
Israel is not those of natural descent. It is not national or natural Israel. The true Israel is created by the promise of God. It is a spiritual Israel. It is not true that all who claim to be in "Israel" are actually so. The seed came through the promise. Paul sees many in the "seed" but says the "seed" is Christ, as in Romans 4:13; Galatians 3:16. Considering Romans 9:4-8 we must ask, "What is Israel?" He shows in verse 8 "It is not the children of Abraham's flesh, born in the course of nature, who are children of God; it is the children who come by promise who are counted as his seed". Another thing to remember is that descendants of Abraham through Ishmael, his seed, were never to be counted in Israel.
Paul returns to Abraham and promises. These promises, in verses 6-13, were given to Abraham then to Isaac and then to Jacob. God never promised Abraham that all of his physical offspring would be within the covenant.
Already in this chapter there is a double Israel. Vv.6b,8 An Israel according to the flesh; and an Israel that is a "true Israel" the Israel of promise. God's purpose is not race, it is grace, Romans 4; Galatians 3,4. Paul insists that the same principle of grace continues to operate.
Romans 9:7,8. He made it clear in writing, "Neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children: but ‘in Isaac shall thy seed be called.’ That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise (believers in Christ, remnant Jews and Gentiles) are counted for the seed”.
Romans 9:9. The promised one would come through Sarah and he was the child of promise and not of the flesh. We must believe these verses – otherwise we are following a spirit of Anti-Christ, that teaches doctrines of demons.
When Israel made the golden calf - Israel as a whole was condemned, Deuteronomy 9:8-29. This shows that the Lord had intended to destroy the nation at that time and raise one from Moses. He had to plead with God. Time and time again in the ensuing centuries, God spoke of punishment during many of their generations and of curses upon them.
Paul shows Israel is a rebellious and sinful nation, showing them really not to be people of God. According to the flesh she is the people of God. God judges justly. Another thing to remember is that descendants of Abraham through Ishmael, his seed, were never to be counted in Israel.
In Deuteronomy 28;45-57 Moses even prophesies about the destruction of Israel as a nation. This happened in 70 A.D. He foretold that it would be the Romans, in verses 48,49 when he spoke of "an iron yoke" and "a nation from far away, to swoop down on you like an eagle". The eagle was the motif on the Roman Army’s banners. The remaining verses were fulfilled during the siege of Jerusalem under Titus and of the end of the nation, of the temple, of the priesthood, of the sacrifices, of the killing of at least one third and of the rest who would go into captivity and dispersion at that time. Jesus said it would be a time that never had been and never would be again, Matthew 24:21,22 and Luke 21. It surely happened. To read the history of those times shows the awfulness of those horrors.
Romans 9:10-16. Regarding the birth of Esau and Jacob, we must believe that God is absolute and free to do as He wills. In verses 11-14, before they were born, God "loved (elected) Jacob and hated Esau". God is sovereign. It had nothing to do with ancestry or with the character and actions that each child might have after birth. . The emphasis should not be on that Esau's character might have been foreknown by God before birth but on God's determined, sovereign will and purpose. God's purpose stands on the basis of "election". God has purposes in election. This leads to the thought of Calvinism. There is some truth in what those beliefs are. It is not to be dependent on man’s will but on God’s. It is not to be of the flesh, of carnality and self-effort, but of faith. The Holy Spirit convicts, the Father draws and gives the faith and the Holy Spirit renews the sinner who obviously has been chosen, as was Isaac.
The doctrine of Election is shown in all of the verses 10-26.
Romans 9:17. God said to Pharaoh, "I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed". We should just accept what God says and believe it. We should not argue against it. "So then He has mercy on whomsoever He chooses and He hardens the heart of whomever He chooses".
A general belief is that as in the case of Pharaoh, he had hardened his own heart first. Then God continued the hardening by His own act. See Romans 11:23; Exodus 4:21; 7:3; Isaiah 63:17. However, here, it is God who determined to harden his heart. God Himself hardened his heart. The emphasis should not be on the evil and hardened heart of Pharaoh but on the sovereign will and purposes of God.
This hardening by God contributed to the happening of His purposes of salvation and the manifestation of His glory, Exodus 9:16;10:2;14:4,17,18. The purposes of God included the redemption of Israel out of Egypt. There was to be deliverance through Moses. This would result in the Saviour's coming and redemption for mankind. It shows His sovereign purposes.
Romans 9:18. This is what the Spirit says, "So then He has mercy on whomsoever He chooses and He hardens the heart of whomever He chooses". A general belief is that as in the case of Pharaoh, he had hardened his own heart first. Then God continued the hardening by His own act. See Romans 11:23; Exodus 4:21; 7:3; Isaiah 63:17. Here, God determined to harden his heart. God Himself hardened his heart.
The emphasis should not be on the evil and hardened heart of Pharaoh but on the sovereign will and purposes of God. This hardening by God contributed to the happening of His purposes of salvation and the manifestation of His glory, Exodus 9:16;10:2;14:4,17,18. The purposes of God included the redemption of Israel out of Egypt. There was to be deliverance through Moses. This would result in the Saviour's coming and redemption for mankind. It shows His sovereign purposes.
Romans 9:19. Paul answers possible questions and shows it is dependent on God's righteousness. Now He is patient, restraining His righteous wrath, so that more may be saved. He is impartial, having no respect for persons.
Israel as a nation has no claim as a right to salvation. Throughout their history God acted on the principle that when she broke the covenant, she would be doomed.
Romans 9:20,21. Man has no right to question God's dealings and ways. God has a right to make what He will with the humanity He has created.
Romans 9:22-24. Those who follow Arminianism would place an emphasis on the fact that the objects of wrath were so because although they were “made” or “fitted” for destruction the verses here do not say whether it was God who made or they themselves who made or fitted because of their own will to sin.
Those who tend towards Calvinism can see in these verses that God could have made certain for destruction. His purpose would be to show forth the riches of his glory for those on whom He has mercy. Also, that He had prepared them “beforehand” in other words, deliberately chosen those, who in the case of the Jews, were the remnant. Well, He did call His own disciples! Again, in verse 24, the word “called” does mean “called forth”. Romans 8:29 translates “For those whom he called he also predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son. Ch.9:16 does read “So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy”.
Romans 9:25,26. Paul takes the promise in Hosea 2:23 ( 1 Peter 2:10) to relate to the chosen people. The Gentiles did not eagerly chase after a law of righteousness.
He was not ignorant of the original meaning in Hosea yet he saw the ultimate intention of God. Hosea originally spoke in 2:23 referring to ancient Israel. In Romans it speaks about all people. It is now for apostate Jew and Gentile who will believe in Christ. Hosea 2:23 shows this as well as Israel apostate and rejected, but afterwards the "remnant" will be converted, “I will show my love to the one I called, ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people, ‘You are my people’’ and they will say, ‘You are my God’.” Also, those not treated formerly with mercy do obtain, i.e. those who are called, "Not my people" (Gentiles). They are to be called "Children". Hosea 1:10;2:23.
God is calling to salvation, vessels of mercy, not Jews only but also Gentiles, in Romans 10:12; Joel 2:32; Galatians 4:27; Isaiah 54:1. First of all and primarily it was to the Jews. Now the Church of the New Testament, has an equal interest in the grace promised in the prophets of the Old Testament. This New Testament church consisted then and now, mainly of Gentiles with just a few Jews.
Many of the Jews heard the gospel and appropriated a righteousness which comes by faith through the gospel. Faith is the act of taking it. The Jews aimed to live according to the standard of a law in which righteousness was held but, but never achieved (Mosaic law).
The stumbling stone is faith in Messiah. In their foolish course Israel thought they were going the right way. All at once, there was an obstacle upon which they were broken. This was Messiah whom they had for centuries hoped for in all their prayers. Faith must be in Messiah who became a rock of offence. They expected a Messianic throne, but got a Cross. They should have brought their religious life, from the very beginning, to the foot of the Crucified. They owed a debt to Him no works could repay. Their own Scriptures, proclaimed the offensive Christ, Isaiah 8:14,28;1 Peter 2:6-8.
The Gentiles in this way got membership in the people of God. Israel missed out through following the Law in the wrong manner. Jewish membership was this - following the Sabbath, laws about diet, circumcision, works of the Law. This kept Jews separate. Israel misused the Law, using it to give her national privilege, which is idolatry.
Israel wanted a covenant for Jews only. So she did not submit to God's own covenant plan, because Christ all along was the secret goal of the Law. It was the "mystery" as revealed to Paul, Ephesians 3:4-10. The Messiah is the fulfilment of the long-time purposes of Israel's God. Law was given as a temporary way of administration. In Messiah God fulfills as Creator His purposes for Israel and hence for the world. Christ is the Seed, the fulfilment of the covenant.
Romans 9:27,28. "Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved". This is a quotation from Isaiah 10:22;1:9. After that period and other prophets, for 400 years before the time Jesus was born, there was no voice from heaven. There was no prophet or prophecy. Israel as a nation before God was not evident.
Then Christ came to form in Himself, the new people of God, the new nation of Israel. The remnant and seed was reduced to One, Jesus Christ, Galatians 3:14,16; (Genesis 15:5), "That the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus”, “The promises were made to Abraham and to his seed. It does not say ‘And to seeds’ referring to many; but, referring to one, 'And to your seed (offspring)'." Now the elect people of God are not natural Jews, but believing Jews and Gentiles "in Christ". The elect are in Him. God gave Abraham a promise to his descendants that can never be recalled. It is fulfilled in Christ.
There is one people of God, Ephesians 2:15,19,22, Galatians 3:26-29.
Peter realised the truth about the remnant in 1 Peter 1:1,2 when he wrote to “God’s elect (remnant of the Jews of Israel)”, “who have been chosen … for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood”. He also relates the situation of those chosen ones to Hosea 1:10,11, “Yet the Israelites ….In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called sons of the living God”.
Romans 9.29. "Lord of Savaoth" means "Lord of hosts", Isaiah 1:9, James 5:4. God had left "descendants" or "survivors", i.e. a remnant out of national Israel. The remnant would inherit the promises, even though God did away with the old covenant and made a new covenant, Hebrews 8:13, "By calling this one new He has made the old obsolete."
It was when the ark had been taken by Philistines and the priesthood was evil that the Name, Jehovah Savaoth appeared. The first to know this name was a woman, Hannah, who prayed for a child and received Samuel, 1 Samuel 1:2,11.
This Name means deliverance for the people of God, when trouble arises. Elisha in 2 Kings 6:11-18, knew there was a host from heaven here to defend them. In our prayers and worship, according to Hebrews 12:18,23, we come to the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels". We do not contact them but they are in heaven. Hebrews 1:14, shows this – "Are not all angels spirits in the divine service, sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? We are citizens of an unseen world, for our citizenship is in heaven.
Romans 9:30-35. This is the second main division where Paul discusses the problem of the relation of Jews to the gospel. It is still about the fall of Israel and the puzzle that this has with the promises and warnings of Scripture. Through this Gentiles are brought into the covenant family. The passage is about the way in which, through Messiah and the preaching that proclaims Him, Israel is transformed from being a national people into a worldwide family. This was what God always said He would do. God in pursuit of His purposes of election, has caused the partial rejection of Israel. With that has come the election and inclusion into the messianic people of the last age, of a number of Gentiles.
This follows on to Romans 10:1-13 which is the divinely appointed covenant way to salvation. It is the New Covenant that will never give way to the Old Covenant again. This New Covenant is enduring as in Hebrews 8:8,13 “I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel”, “and in speaking of a new covenant he has made the first one obsolete.”
Romans 10:1-3. Paul had followed zeal, as did
the Jews, also the way of Law. His prayer is that they may be saved. That is the
only message for Jews today. There is none other that could come in the future.
All must find the way of faith., through the atonement of Christ on the cross
alone. There was a principle of righteousness by law, Leviticus 18:5 but no one
succeeded. Anyone, Jew or Gentile, who hears the gospel of Christ and believes
it follows the way of faith.
Romans 10:4. The system of faith, brought by Christ, brings to an end and also excludes the system of law. The Jews, in following that system of law, do not obtain the righteousness which is by faith. Gal. 2:16 A person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ.
Romans 10:5. He quotes Habakkuk 2:4, “Look at the proud; but the righteous live by faith”. Then Deuteronomy 30:11-14 where Moses is giving blessings and curses. He carries these verses to be placed under the New Covenant of faith. This shows that the blessings and curses pronounced ended with the Law. Now that we are under faith, those who believe find salvation in Christ.
It is wrong to use this passage of Scripture as is now widely done, to place the children of God under the possibility of blessings and of curses. Those things were given to Israel, a nation under Law and never to the saints of the New Testament. For us, Jesus said, “Look at the lily of the field. Look at the ravens. But your heavenly Father knows you have need of these things. O you of little faith.” As our Father He cares for us in provision of shelter, food and clothing and all of our needs. This is the grace of God and not something given to us under any Law. The Word says, “My God shall supply your every need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus”. These riches are the promises of God and our standing in Christ as well as having Him as our Mediator ensures His care and provision.
Romans 10:6-7. God has brought His salvation and the righteousness of faith near to us, in Christ. We do not have to climb the heavenly places to get it, for Christ has come down with it. We do not need to go to the lowest depths for it. Christ has risen from the dead to make it secure to us. It is here, present, available. We must accept it by inward faith, and acknowledge Him aloud as Lord.
Romans 10:8,9. The Word, who is Christ, replaces the word given by Moses. Those today who teach the blessings and curses relating to prosperity have not really searched their Bibles or else they knowingly preach error and heresy.
This Word, Christ, is He whom we confess with our lips and not words of the Law. This Word, Christ and His written word are in our hearts bringing forth faith in Him for salvation.
Romans 10:10. "Confess" is "to speak the same thing"; i.e. to say and be in agreement with all that the Scripture says about Him, which includes all that these two names imply. "Jesus" means "Jehoshua, Jehovah saves". Lord, used for Jehovah, means deity. There must be a heart belief in His deity, incarnation, atonement done for us and bodily resurrection. Here, Paul brings out that the Jew had to trust Christ as God and the Gentile had to stop worshipping the emperor of Rome as lord.
"With the heart", means, "As the seat of the energy of the divine Spirit; mediating the personal life of the soul which is conditioned by the Spirit". It is not the affections as distinguished from the intellect. Believing with the heart is in contrast to oral confession and not to intellectual belief. Believing is a way of thinking, not of feeling. It is led to its object by the “preaching of the word of faith.” The object of faith is Jesus Christ in all that He is and has done.
Romans 10:11-12. The word "ashamed" means "defeated, disappointed". To believe is to be unafraid it will not work. It is to believe in its power to save. "Lord" means that here is Messiah, not God. However, Christ is indeed God. Saving faith is resurrection faith, 1 Corinthians 15:17. It is for Jew or Gentile, of faith. Christ is the goal or termination of the law, Matthew 5:17 Do not think I have come to abolish the law, or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. “Fulfil” means “accomplish, complete end”. See Romans 8:3, He is the end of the old order, replaced by the new way of the Spirit. This is under the New Covenant that replaces the Old.
Romans 10:13,14. It is quoted from Joel 2:32 relates to the period on the eve of the great and terrible day of the Lord, when God's Spirit is to be poured out on all flesh. The last days began on the Day of Pentecost. The gospel of Christ is to be preached. Strangely for some, this gospel does not include any exaltation of Israel as a nation or of Christ coming back to reign for a thousand years on this earth! Rather it speaks of the evil day for her as a nation when in 70 A.D. she was utterly defeated by the armies of Rome under Titus with her city and temple razed to the ground. Her Temple institutions were completely gone.
Now the preaching of the gospel by those who are sent is emphasized. "And how shall they hear the tidings if no messenger is sent to them" also reads, "And how can anyone spread the news without a commission to do so", NEB. This sending is a sending by God and not by men who give money to send some one person in their place (e.g. where millions would give money to one Television Evangelist to go and preach in huge campaigns overseas. This is not what the Scripture means).
Romans 10:15,16. “As it is written, How beautiful are the feet’," ; "beautiful" means "blooming maturity and vigour". "Feet", shows the fast approach of the messenger, spoken first of those who carried the good news to Jerusalem from Babylon that the days of exile were past and restoration at hand, in the Old Testament.” Isaiah 52:7. It also is for the New Testament in the proclamation of the gospel.
This whole section of Isaiah, chapter 40 on, is about the gospel age. Deliverance from Babylon under Cyrus, as the one from Egypt, was a foreshadowing of the greater and perfect deliverance by Christ for believers, Jew and Gentile, Isaiah 40:3, spoken of John the Baptist, Isaiah 42 about the Servant of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Romans 10:17-18. There could be a universal preaching of the gospel, but not a universal surrender or belief. The proclamation of the gospel produces belief, as preached in the power of the Spirit. The Spirit gives faith in the gospel message in the hearts of those who will be saved. Most will not.
Romans 10:19-21. Moses, in Deuteronomy 32:20,21, predicted God would provoke Israel to reject His salvation, ending in their jealousy of the Gentiles. This Song of Moses is sung in Revelation 15:3,4 as well as “the song of the Lamb”. This song of Moses is one of judgment on the nation of Israel. It is significant that it is sung during the Revelation given to Jesus for His people, a Revelation given prior to the judgment on the nation of Israel that came in 66-73 A.D.
It includes these words, “Great and amazing are your deeds, Lord God the Almighty!”. This is the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ as shown in chapters 1 and Revelation 21:22, 22:12,16. He is the One, seated on the throne according to Daniel 7:9,10 who poured out judgment on Israel. He is the “Almighty” or “The breasted One” (as of a woman) who “pours out” in this case, judgment. In other times He “pours out” mercy, as does a mother. This does not make for any femininity in God.
Paul dared to say all this to the Jewish nation. He added from Isaiah 65:2, "Arms outstretched all the day" which means "a symbol of continuous pleading love that Israel has always despised". "Disobedient" Israel, means she "will not be persuaded, stiff-necked, obstinate". "Gainsaying" is to “oppose one's self to someone, will not obey him, be against him, refuse to have anything to do with him”. Through His Son, in His incarnate person and by the apostles, God pleaded with Israel who rejected Him. This formed part of His eternal purpose.
Before going on to chapter 11 Paul shows, in line with Galatians; 1 Thessalonians 2; 2 Corinthians 3; Philippians 3; Romans 1-8 that there is no covenant membership for Israel because of race or circumcision.
Israel cannot be the people of God simply because God had chosen her out of all other nations. Israel was cast away. Jesus the Messiah was sent to her, as Israel was cast away and He suffered without the Camp. However, Israel rejected Him because they expected a King who would rule in their land. This all happened so that the world of elect believers might be brought into the family of God. This is how we are to understand these things. The cross and the resurrection is the clue to Romans 9-11. This is how there can be an Israel. It is the old one raised to new life. It is a new Israel, a spiritual Israel, the Israel of God, Galatians 6:16. This Israel will consist of believing Jews and believing Gentiles.
Jesus in Luke 20:16, said, “He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others”. Also, He said to the Jews in Mathew 23:43, “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom”. In verse 38, “See, your house is left unto you desolate”. In that “place” of desertion by God, also, there were those who later heard the preaching about Jesus being the Christ. This commenced on the Day of Pentecost when three thousand found Jesus Christ. A church was born in Jerusalem itself and in other places where the Jews lived, in their own land.
“The place” is where they were dispersed because of their sin. Judgment from God came upon them through the nations. They were no longer a nation, having no temple, no sacrifices and no prophets. In that “place” Jesus Christ was revealed to a remnant that had been dispersed. They believed. Thus they, with the Gentiles, prophesied about in Hosea 2: become the true Israel of God. God’s covenant must stand. He will have a people to inherit the promises given to Abraham. These promises carry over from the Old Testament meaning to the New Testament fulfilment of a spiritual Israel. They are a spiritual people to inherit with Christ all the promises, including land in the new heavens and the new earth that God will create. Heaven will descend upon it and the people of God will inherit for ever, the wonderful promises.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:15,16 , Paul says, “Of the Jews, I say: of the men who put the Lord Jesus and the prophets to death, who are persecuting us cruelly, who incur the displeasure of God, and who show themselves to be the enemies of all mankind, seeking to hinder us, as they do, from preaching to the Gentiles, that they might obtain their salvation. And so it is that they must ever be filling up the measure of their sins. The wrath of God has come upon them at last”.
Some years after this, history records that from 66 A.D. until 73 A.D. the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Israel faced a war such as had never been the like and never will happen again, as Jesus said would be, in Matthew 24. That chapter prophesies about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. by Titus. The whole city was razed to the ground, not one stone (and they were very huge) was left standing upon another. The people were cruelly killed or died of starvation, resisting the Romans to the last and listening to the false messiahs and false prophets.
Judgment fell upon that nation as was promised by Moses and in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah and other minor prophets, such as Zechariah. Jesus told them it would happen in their generation. It is now a matter of history.
Israel as a nation, with a priesthood, with a
temple and with a sacrificial system, was finished. It is no more. God has
raised up His Messiah, Jesus Christ, to be the Israel of promise, as stated in
Isaiah 44:1,5; 49:3; Galatians 3:16.
It is usually preached that in this chapter Paul predicts a large-scale entry of Jews into the Kingdom, in a further fulfilment of the old promise. This is after the Jews have been saved, some say, and during the Millennium. Most think it is another gospel that will be preached during that time. The gospel of the Kingdom of God, they say. Also, that the present gospel is the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven. They say the gospel of the Kingdom of God will be proclaimed to all Jews living at that time. (It does seem strange, according to this view, that the Jews living during this millennium would be saved, whereas the majority of Jews from the time of Abraham until the second coming, will not have that privilege).
However, this view of a mass conversion of Jews during a millennium does not fit into Romans 9 and 10. There, following Galatians and Romans 1-8, Paul clearly says there is no covenant membership, and thus no salvation, for those resting on their national privilege. For those who teach that during the millennium a different gospel (of the Kingdom of God) for the Jews will be preached, they have to admit it would rest on privilege as descendants of Abraham. Many Jews, they say, will welcome back Jesus Christ as Messiah on the Mount of Olives. It is to national Jews, they say. They will acknowledge Him as their Messiah. Those not doing so, will be saved during the Millennium under a "different gospel", they also say. All this makes it depend on ancestral privilege, which Paul has strongly denied. The whole of Romans 11, excluding verses 25-27 says something different. We will look at the whole chapter first.
Romans 11:1-10. "Can any Jews be saved?" Of course, Paul says, as he is a Jew. He is part of the remnant chosen by grace, not by race or by works. Verses 5,6, it is for those who with Paul, died and rose with Christ, under grace. The rest are hardened, as they refused the grace and patience of God. God has not given away all Israel. There are Paul and other Jewish Christians. This group are similar to the 7000 in Elijah's day. Now Verses 5,6b becomes the centre of the argument. It shows Paul's main point that God's dealings with men are based not on works but on grace.
The remnant existed because of a gracious act of election (of grace). This remnant is like a nation (spiritual) within a nation (national). They are chosen due to God' grace. In Chapter 9 Isaac received grace; Jacob and Esau received mercy. The remnant is not better than the rest. They can only say it is because of grace. The remnant consists of the vessels of mercy whom God chose as the vehicles of His glory.
His eternal plan, foretold in Scripture, show Israel's fall as no accident of history. They were "hardened", as was Pharaoh Exodus 4:21; 7:3; Romans 9:18;11:23; Isaiah 63:17. This was done so that the Gentiles could be brought in, Isaiah 42:6;45:22;49:6;55:5. Gentiles reached faith and were added to them. The elect remnant of Jews had faith not because they had no error, but because they learned to count their gains as Jews, loss, and to receive it by grace. As Paul did, Galatians 2:15,16; Philippians 3:7-9.
I would like to point out verses 4,5 where God says “’I have kept for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.” God is saying He has a remnant and these He has kept for Himself. They are not such because they are the natural descendants of Abraham but because they are chosen by grace. We notice they are “for Himself”, “kept” as such. This implies that the remainder, the Law keepers, the hardened ones, will never be “for Himself” and they have not been “kept” as such. This invalidates any claim for a restored natural Israel that really consists of those whose hearts are hardened. These would mean living Israelites but what of the centuries of dead? Will they come to life to participate in the “Millennial reign of Christ” so-called? We know they will not.
In fact, appearing in history has been a people called the Jews, who have spread all over Europe from an area in present day Russia. This was Khazaria, between the Black and Caspian Seas. Scholars from different European countries have written about this nation that took on Judaism in 740AD from real Jews, descendants of Abraham according to the flesh. They became a leading country for three centuries when they were overcome. These Judaistic peoples, called Jews, spread all over Europe. It is from them that Jews today have returned to the land of Israel. As far as I know there is no genealogy that would show descendants of the natural Jews, those who were left alive in 73A.D. and taken to Egypt as slaves. There would have been some descendants and indeed the possibility is that generations after the first century, there were Christianized Jews who returned to the religion of Judaism, as mentioned in the book of Hebrews.
The whole world has been given a hoax in its history, becoming Anti-Semitic over the centuries, against a people who were not the natural descendants of Abraham but were those who took on the Jews’ religion! This hoax has been believed in by much of the church, due to the indifference, unbelief and disregard to the things written down in the New Testament concerning what Jesus said about them, as well as Paul. It has been a turning away from the Truth of the gospel and of the New Testament.
God did not reserve for Himself the nation of Israel. Instead He reserved for Himself a remnant from them who became believers in Christ. These were the ones who escaped from Jerusalem before the terrible destruction of 70A.D. Paul wrote this book of Romans before that time and thus his words were prophetic of what the Holy Spirit of God indicated would occur. God “kept for Himself a remnant”. Philip Mauro, an early Brethren has written on this, as well as famous English writers.
From history, it would appear that anti Semitism in Europe and the world had its beginning around the thirteenth century. Philip Jenkins, Historian, has stated that the end of the 13th century the world had a time of climate change when it became much colder. The result was great famine and the world slipped into poverty. People in Christendom were hungry and desperate. They looked for a scapegoat that obviously had attracted God’s anger. They found this in Europe’s Jews. The church and European nations turned on them killing many of them.
At the same time the Mongols that had conquered lands as far west as Hungary, had taken on Islam. As the Koran and Islam have a determined hatred for Jews, there is no wonder that as well as Christendom, all the Moslem people vented their ire on those people. This Anti-Semitism found less amongst Christianised nations but entirely amongst Moslems, still exists today.
As for the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, all that has happened to it as shown by the Scriptures, was in accordance with Isaiah 6:10 “Make the mind of this people dull” and v.13 “’Even if a tenth part remain in it, it will be burned again, like an oak whose stump remains standing when it is felled’. The holy seed is its stump”.
This signifies that Christ the holy seed is the stump here from which the remnant would rise. Indeed it is shown that the nation will not rise again but only Christ will. The remnant in Christ alone are the only ones who would participate. The others are finished. The nation is finished, according to the prophecy.
Romans 11:8- 10. Even as it is written, "God gave them a spirit of stupor." "This is the one use of nvsuua (spirit) in Romans that "unquestionably neither refers nor alludes to the Holy Spirit". Paul is simply "quoting" Deuteronomy 29:4, using the language of Isaiah 29:10. The phrase refers to the way "stupor" came on the people, by means of a "spirit of stupor." This usage, "spirit of..," which is an Old Testament idiom, probably lies behind Pauls own occasional use of it. The rest of Israel stood outside and were thus hardened. They were not of the remnant. They were disobedient because they were hardened. Their religious enthusiasm was turned to sin. It was God's will. It was determined by his mercy, that this should be so.
Also, see Psalm 69:22 "Their own table" is their table-fellowship, the unity and inter-relatedness created by the law. This was highly valued in Judaism. It was no more than a delusion since they had a union in sin, not righteousness. A "bent back is the symbol of bondage". God has not cast off his people as a whole. He has hardened and cast off some, but he will save an elect remnant. The expressions "elect" in these chapters have to be received. They are in these Scriptures.
Romans 11:11-24. We must not interpret this portion in the light of Romans 11:25-27. The key is in Romans 11:14, "if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow-countrymen and save some of them". Paul treats his entire gentile mission, as a means to having Jews see their privileges, Romans 9:4 being taken up by Gentiles, Romans 9:30, and so should be jealous, Romans 10:19 and decide.
Thus the natural meaning of Romans 11:15 is when a Jew comes in it is a resurrection. If this is the reason for Israel's fall, there is no reason why she in the form of a remnant, should not be saved. There is every reason for some to be saved. These must let go of the Law, Galatians 2:19-21, and believe in Christ.
Then Paul speaks in verse 16 about the “root” being holy. Clarke’s comments briefly state “The ancestors of the Jewish people, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and, as these were devoted to God and received into his covenant, all their posterity, the branches which proceeded from this root, became entitled to the same privileges: and as the root still remains, and the branches also, the descendants from that root still remain: they still have a certain title to the blessings of the covenant; though, because of their obstinate unbelief, these blessings are suspended, as they cannot, even on the ground of the old covenant, enjoy these blessings but through faith: for it was when Abraham believed God that it was accounted to him for righteousness; and thus he became an heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”
Henry comments: “By the first-fruits understand the same with the root, namely, the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, from whom the Jews descended, and with whom, as the prime trustees, the covenant was deposited: and so they were the root of the Jews, not only as a people, but as a church. Now, if they were holy, which is not meant so much of inherent as of federal holiness - if they were in the church and in the covenant - then we have reason to conclude that God hath a kindness for the lump - the body of that people; and for the branches - the particular members of it.
”The Jews are in a sense a holy nation (Exodus 19:6), being descended from holy parents. Now it cannot be imagined that such a holy nation should be totally and finally cast off. Though real qualifications are not propagated, yet relative privileges are. The Jewish branches are reckoned holy, because the root was so. This is expressed more plainly Romans 11:28 They are beloved for the fathers' sakes. In this love to the fathers the first foundation of their church-state was laid Deuteronomy 4:37 Because he loved they fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them.
“And the same love would revive their privileges, for still the ancient loving-kindness is remembered; they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. It is God's usual method of grace. Kindness to the children for the father's sake is therefore called the kindness of God, 2 Samuel 9:3 David said, “Is there anyone remaining of the house of Saul to whom I may show the kindness of God?” Though, as concerning the gospel (namely, in the present dispensation of it), they are enemies to it for your sakes, that is, for the sake of the Gentiles, against whom they have such an antipathy.”
The explanations by these two church scholars are to my mind the real meaning that Paul was expressing.
Romans 11:17-24. Here there is an allegory of an "Olive tree". This shows Gentile Christians are not to boast. It would make them to be as bad as the Jews and they would receive the same sentence as the original Jews, Romans 11:21. This possibility is always there for the Gentiles. The chance that Jews, during the present age, will come to Christ, be grafted back in, as in verse 23 "if they do not remain in unbelief" is not a large-scale last-minute restoration of all Jews as some might wrongly interpret Romans 11:11. It involves always a remnant of the Jews that is often mentioned throughout the Old Testament Prophets. If any will come in the door of faith, God will graft them back in again as branches in the olive tree.
Romans 11:25-26a. We therefore have to say that verses hereon do not bring in a new idea from the previous verses, i.e. that there will be a large-scale, last-minute salvation of Jews. No. Such an idea has not been suggested by Paul. He would not suddenly bring in something new that would have no connection to any other chapters or verses of Romans. Romans 11:25a belongs to what has gone before, i.e. that Gentile Christians are not to think themselves better than Jews. The reason is given in the "mystery" pronounced from the beginning of this chapter. The "mystery" is that instead of immediately judging the people that rejected his Son, God has allowed a period of hardening. During this period, His salvation will spread to the ends of the earth. There had to be judgment and severity because Israel fell and was symbolized as being the branches that were broken off the olive tree. The remnant of them would be grafted in again even as the believing Gentiles were3 grafted in to the olive tree. This tree grew out of the holy root, who is Christ.
During this period of time, the Gentiles are to come in to the people of God. That is how God is saving "all Israel". The meaning is not "then" but "thus" Verse 26 NRSV. "And so all Israel will be saved" (Thus in this way, all Israel will be saved) in the manner shown in verse 25. Williams, "And so in that way all Israel will be saved". "Israel" in Romans 11:25 does not necessarily mean the same as "Israel" in verse 26. In Romans 9:6 Paul distinguishes between two "Israel's".
Elsewhere he transfers the privileges and attributes of "Israel" to Messiah and His people, Philippians 3:2-11; Galatians 6:16; Romans 2:25-9. God's method of saving "all Israel" is to harden natural Israel, not to judge her at once. It is to give a period of time so God's will for the remnant Jews might be shown by the process of "jealousy", and resulting faith. Paul's meaning is not natural order, first the Gentiles, then the Jews. Rather, it shows a particular process as the salvation of "all Israel".
“Thus (or And so) all Israel shall be saved". That all Israel shall be saved must be interpreted in the light of the “thus”. This means that the meaning is explained in all of the preceding verses. These go back to chapter 9:1. It cannot possible mean "all Jews" particularly during any Millennium. If "All Israel" did mean national Jews, it would need to include every Jew who has ever lived. That is an impossibility. "All Israel" must mean Spiritual Israel, as "the Israel of God" in Galatians 6:16. Romans 9:27 says that "only a remnant of them (Jews) will be saved", not a whole nation. Paul obviously is not referring to a Second Coming of Christ, but his own gentile mission.
Many forget history. The nation was judged from 66 to 73 A.D. as Jesus said it would be in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. Paul himself said strong words in 1 Thessalonians 2:15,16, "Of the Jews, I say, of the men who put the Lord Jesus and the prophets to death, who are persecuting us cruelly, who incur the displeasure of God, and who show themselves to be the enemies of all mankind, seeking to hinder us, as they do, from preaching to the Gentiles, that they might obtain their salvation/ And so it is that they must ever be filling up the measure of their sins. Still, the judgment expressing God’s anger has now overtaken them for good and all". There is no restoration of Israel as a nation in Paul’s eschatology.
Romans 11:26b. "the Deliverer will come from Zion" explains verse 26a, "so all Israel will be saved". Generally it is said this is a prediction of the Coming of the Son of Man, after seven years tribulation, at which time supposedly a great ingathering of Jews will suddenly take place. The text does not bear this out. It points elsewhere. Paul quotes, Isaiah 2:3;27:9;59:20; Jeremiah 31:34; Micah 2:4. "Let us go to the mountain"; "Come to Zion as Redeemer"; "All know Me". See Hebrews 12:22-24.
The Saviour in this age, comes out of the church, the Zion revealed in Hebrews 12:22, which is the church under the New Covenant. His coming out refers to the inclusion of Gentiles in the blessings of the people of God. In Isaiah 59:20, 21 it is "to Zion" not "out of it" the Redeemer was to come. In Isaiah "to those that turn from transgression in Jacob" differs from Romans, that is a coming to the Jews. Paul gives great importance to the prophecy in Isaiah but in accord with his purpose gives it a different understanding. The prophecy is to now have a different kind of fulfilment. According to the prophets, the Redeemer was to come, literally for Zion, somehow on its behalf; and on the behalf also of penitent souls in it. So, indeed, He has already come, as Messiah born a man and dying on the Cross.
The small remnant who turned from transgression recognised Him and hailed His coming. There will always be a remnant of Jews. In regard to natural Israel, it was not to be separate and apart from Gentiles. They were not to be distinct from believing Gentiles. Paul does not even hint at this. He excludes that very idea, by giving a more specific turn to the prophecy, so as to make it out of Zion, and to turn ungodliness from Zion.
The old natural Zion was gone. Its external order had to finish. The only Zion in this connection, from which the Redeemer could henceforth come, Hebrews 12:22, was that Zion in which He now dwells, the heavenly Jerusalem, the Church of the New Testament. He must come out of it, as He comes for it, on behalf of the natural seed of Jacob, as in verse 26. The prophecy is fulfilled in the case of natural Israel generally, as the result of a Saviour's gracious presence coming forth from His dwelling-place in Zion and acting through the instrumentality of a Christian Church. Converted Jews in Acts gave the gospel to Gentiles. Gentiles now have to give the gospel to Jews still in unbelief, and so "the life from the dead" which the conversion of some in Israel is to bring to the Church, began in the times of the New Testament, continuing till the end.
It is interesting to note that the apostle writes Romans 11:25b,26a “a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the number of the Gentiles has come in, And so all Israel will be saved”. I have never heard anyone or read a book that enlightens the meaning of “has come in”. It seems obvious that the Gentiles have “come in” to something. They, of course, have “come in” to Israel.
It is obvious that from Verse 23 they have come in to Israel: “And even those of Israel, if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in”. We have some from natural Israel who are “in again” and the Gentiles who “come in”, both lots obviously “coming in” to the same body of people. It is the new, spiritual Israel. The gentiles could never ”come in” to a natural Israel. This “all Israel” shall “be saved”. Being “saved” is only spoken of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and never about anyone merely belonging to the nation of Israel. The books of Acts, Romans and Ephesians in particular tell us how to be saved and what salvation is.
Now the apostle is looking beyond these, to the descendants of Jacob generally, verse 26b, for whom, in this and other similar predictions, he describes a purpose of mercy still there. He says that the promise of a seed of blessing to Abraham, through Jacob, was not confined to natural offspring. He declares this to have been always included, an elect portion out of it. When he wrote, there were many not included yet; an elect portion. This is to continue to be so until Jesus comes again, because of "gifts not taken back" by God. There will always be an elect from among the Jews. Gentiles who believe are part of "the elect."
As stated in Romans 9 there is a natural Israel and a spiritual Israel. There is no definite scripture that states a natural nation of Israel would ever be saved. It is impossible that there could be a natural Israel, as a whole nation, to be chosen to be a spiritual Israel. It could never happen. The reason is that millions of Israelites have already died and been excluded. If the whole nation is elect, that majority will never have the chance to be included. Why would God give one generation, in a Millennium, the exclusive right to be that nation?
Romans 11:27,28. These verses speak of the final renewal of covenant, restoration from exile, blessings to nations and the new Zion. In the Old Testament the covenant was thought of as being the Law. Law is now done away. Now it is Christ and the Spirit, under the New Covenant. The promises God made to the patriarchs when He called them are sure for their descendants. It is not on the ground of merit, but God's faithfulness to His word. It is God's election. It is the New Covenant, a reaffirmation of the promises to Abraham. Gentile Christians in Rome were not to try to stand in the way of all this being fulfilled.
Romans 11:29. "For God does not withdraw His gifts and His callings". This is another occurrence of the word "gracious gifts", this time in the plural, showing that the sense of the word has nothing to do with "gifts of the Spirit". The "gracious gifts" referred to are singled out in 9:4-5.35. These gifts are never to be taken back.
Romans 11:30-36. As Gentiles, they rebelled against the Creator, but they are now accepting the Gospel, see Romans 1:18-21, and the Jews also rejected the Gospel preached first of all to them, Romans 1:16. Both receive God's mercy. For both it came after disobedience. God wills and enacts the disobedience and the mercy. The Jews stumbled at the stone, the Messiah. The present age for them is disobedience, since they rejected Messiah. Any return to faith and being taken into the people of God, is to take place now in this present age, not during a "so-called" future millennium. It can only be by a present faith in the Christ of the Cross.
God has brought men into a position which merits nothing but His wrath so that His dealings with them may be through mercy. Only sinners can know mercy, Luke 15:7, "not righteous". All men go to disobedience and then to mercy. "O the depth of the wealth and wisdom and knowledge of God; How unsearchable, untraceable."
There are no real contradictions in Chapters
9-11 and together, they bring to a head, the themes throughout the letter - the
righteousness of God, revealed in Jesus the Messiah, not in Law, and the
revelation of the true meaning of the people of God, through the Cross and the
resurrection. This is the basis of Paul's ministry. This leads to chaps.12-16
where the whole of chaps.1-11 is applied to the church in itself and 14:1-15:13
where unity and mission of the church is emphasised. It is not reasonable to
take Romans 11 as a whole or in parts as a prediction of a large-scale
last-minute salvation of Jews.
We come now to another part of the letter, a letter that has mainly to do with Jew and Gentile as one people of God, apart from Law, who are built together on the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus and the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit.
All of the major concerns have been dealt with: -
a. That the righteousness of God has come for Gentile and Jew alike, through Christ, based on faith, and apart from Law, Romans 1:18-5:11;
b. That such righteousness includes righteous living, which Law called for but was unable to make possible. This has now been realised through Christ and the Spirit, Romans 5:12-8:39;
c. That, despite Jewish rejection of Christ and Christ's having brought the time of Law to an end, God's faithfulness is not thereby called into question, since He will still show mercy on His ancient people as He has on the Gentiles, Romans 9:1-11:36.
There remains the getting all this to work practically for Jew and Gentile as one people of God in their life together, as a believing church. That is the purpose of Romans 12:1-15:13. The "righteousness of God" argued for in chapters 1-11 is to work where Jewish Christians are still following parts of the Law and Gentiles are not.
Paul's concern now is that they might "together with one voice glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." They are to "accept one another," even as Christ has accepted them for "the glory of God", 15:5-6. This acceptance is not as the world and psychology teaches but as Christ says. We are to accept our brethren in Christ as being brethren in Christ. That is the acceptance. Jew and Gentile in the church in Rome were to thus accept each other. However, he has taught both the correct path and would expect both to adhere to what he says.
Romans 12:1-2. "l appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a sacrifice that is living, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your 'spiritual' act of worship; And do not be conformed to this age but be transformed (transfigured as in Matthew 17:2) by the renewing of the mind so that you may discern the will of God - what is good and acceptable and perfect.
At the time of our new birth, born again experience, we did receive a renewed mind by the Holy Spirit, as stated in 1 Corinthians 2:16, "But we have the mind of Christ". The natural thinking, however, must be transformed or transfigured, from carnal, worldly, directive ideas into spirit-ual ways of thinking.
The mercies of God call us to the service of God, with our renewed mind that pleases God. We serve God through Christ.
There is a teaching from followers of Kenyon, Hagin and Copeland that has been received by many Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches. It is that we help ourselves to a "renewed" mind by filling our minds with the Bible - and their teachings. The basis of all our beliefs of course is the Word of God. However, their teaching is based on the "works" of "doing" and on parts of the Law, and includes "confession".
Letting the Word of God be in the mind or even memorized was not sufficient for Israel. In Deuteronomy 6:6-9, "Keep these words in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them on your hand, forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house". They had it in their minds but their minds were not renewed. In fact, it did not guarantee the doing of it.
That is why Jeremiah 31:33-35 shows a new covenant is coming - after the time of Jacob's trouble, Jeremiah 30:7,8. This new covenant came to pass through the blood of Christ, Hebrews 8:6-13. It was a covenant of the Spirit, Ezekiel 36:26, "A new spirit I will put within you", Isaiah 59:21, "My spirit that is upon you", Isaiah 48:11,12, "Now the Lord God has sent me (the Son) and his spirit. Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer".
Let us look at what the Bible does say. Because Chapter 12 comes after Chapter 8 that is all about the Spirit, the Spirit is obviously at work also regarding the renewing of our minds. Re word translated "spiritual (worship)" it is a different Greek word group. Therefore it ties the passage to previous thoughts.
a. the "mercies of God" as the foundation.
b. "present your bodies" ties in with Romans 6:11-19 and is the language of Old Testament "sacrifice". However, the time of Law, with its power and tendency to "works" is over. Now we have the Law in a new form, much changed. Rather than the sacrifice of dead carcasses of animals, we now give ourselves back to God in the form of a "living sacrifice", i.e. our bodies, as those alive from the dead.
The renewed mind has to do with doing God's will and pleasing Him. The way of such a living sacrifice is to be with the "renewed mind" testing and knowing the will of God and by walking in His ways. It is far more than learning the will of God “for our lives and ministry”, taking us “to the next level”! It is worship in a way of life to be experienced particularly when the believers gather, vv.3-8. "Spiritual worship" includes the "renewed mind" of v.2.
Do we realise these verses also relate to our worship services, rather than do our much singing of hymns and choruses? The fire of the Holy Ghost is to consume the sacrifices. The manner of congregational worship is to be the result of renewed minds as we offer our bodies to God. This can only mean that the inspiration of the Holy Ghost with His Presence, ways and gifts is to guide us in our assembling together. We are not to follow our own way of thinking but the mind of Christ within us. Those who belong to this age live in the flesh and cannot minds, through the action of the Spirit in "transforming" them, no longer live in "conformity" to the present age, from which they have been delivered by the death and resurrection of Christ. This affects the way meetings are conducted and the manner of personal living.
Believers thus live no longer in "conformity" to the present age with its culture and old traditions. Believers are a people for eternity. In this activity the working of the Holy Spirit should be seen as in 2 Corinthians 3:18, where the Spirit is directly responsible for such "transformation" into God’s own likeness as one, by the Spirit, beholds His glory in the "face" of his Son. Galatians 4:19, where Paul uses the simple verb of Christs being "formed" in his people; in Romans 8:29, is the same idea.
We believers are a people for eternity who have experienced the first fruits of the future who is the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 1:14. We are to live and act differently as He is “to set us free from the present evil age”, Galatians 1:4, that is passing away with its cultures and traditions.
The present age was condemned on the cross and is now ending. It is the area of the flesh. As people of the Spirit whose minds have been renewed by the Spirit, we are now able to see what God's will is, the good and pleasing thing that they are to do as those who bear the likeness of Christ.
Romans 12:3-8. Paul shows how the renewed mind will 11:4-8 "praying" and "prophesying" are the basic kinds of speech that make up Christian worship, God-directed and people-directed.
Prophecy is the main way people are to use speech within the church. Prophecy showed Joel; 2:28-30 fulfilled. Prophecy became a renewed phenomenon, and to be for all, since all are to have the Spirit in fullness, Acts 2:17,18. It was a widespread, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Corinthians 12:10,11.
"Prophecy," was a manifestation of the Spirit in their midst. Note:
a. It is the first in the list. Prophecy was the most important way the Spirit showed Himself in the saints. If in 1 Corinthians 11:4-5 "praying" and "prophesying" are to be part of Christian worship, prophecy is the most important of Spirit-gifted speech to the Church. Prophecy paid a large part in Acts 9:31, where "the church was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers". This comfort was from the exercise of the Gift of Prophecy. 1 Corinthians 14:3, "Those who prophesy speak to other people for edification, exhortation and comfort". We notice that it is not for telling the future of a person! Paul’s "rule" appears in his earliest letter, 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21, "Do not disdain prophetic utterances" but "test all things". Such testing must be according to the gospel and the Word of God.
Another translation is "Do not put out the Spirit’s fire, do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good." Prophesying is not preaching although preaching can include prophesying. Sadly today there is very little of true prophesying in churches. Where it does happen it generally follows the wrong preaching of the Pastors or has moved into the class of false prophecies by false prophets.
b. Cassirer translates it, "let us prophesy in conformity with the faith which is in us". "In proportion to the faith" does not really mean "in keeping with that which corresponds to the faith, that is, the gospel which we have been expounding in this letter". That would have the Greek being objective whereas it is subjective.
"The phrase here is related to the measure of faith, Romans 12:3. It is subjective. It signifies according to the proportion defined by faith. The meaning is not the technical meaning expressed by the theological phrase analogy of faith, sometimes called analogy of scripture, i.e., the correspondence of the several parts of divine revelation in one consistent whole. This would require the faith, to be taken as the objective rule of faith, or system of doctrine and is not in harmony with, Romans 12:3, nor with according to the grace given.”
Those who prophesy are to interpret the divine revelation "’according to the strength, clearness, fervour, and other qualities of the faith bestowed upon them; so that the character and mode of their speaking is conformed to the rules and limits which are implied in the proportion of their individual degree of faith’". (Meyer). Prophecy is not to run as wildfire. It must be tested, not blindly accepted as the genuine working of the Spirit.
No church can become truly spiritual and God-like without much prophecy. Please note this well. The responsibility lies on the person prophesying. "The faith" means according to the faith that has been given to those who prophesy. Each one has a different measure of faith, not as quantity but different. It is the gift of faith to serve the believing assembly in keeping with the special gracious gift that God gave to each one.
He talks of the variety of ways each of them has been given a different expression of the grace of God for the sake of others.
Then there is "ministering". The idea is "he who is placed in front", i.e. in a position of superintendence. This could involve different aspects of church life. If a person has this gift he or she is to fulfil it, while health remains.
Teaching is an important gift. A Pastor is a Pastor/Teacher, as shown in the Greek and in translations “and Pastors and Teachers (both grouped as one). Probably all preachers should be able to incorporate something of this in their ministry. There will always be those who are not in the preaching ministry who are called to teach. We are to know our limitations and our possibilities, in the calling of Christ to which He gives enabling.
Regarding exhorting, I can remember a couple of men who had a wonderful gift of exhorting. They did not fill pulpits but their messages of exhortation whether in a small meeting or in a prayer meeting were wonderful to hear.
Some are called to be givers. There is to be a sharing of earthly possessions, particularly by those who have plenty. Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive". Generosity is mentioned as being a spiritual part of worship. There is not mention in the New Testament of our "giving to receive". We look at 2 Corinthians 8:9. Even as Christ showed grace to us, which means "unmerited favour", by becoming "poor" in the sense of having left heaven, according to Philippians 2:4-1, all in order to make us spiritually rich, so are we to minister to others. This is of our material goods. Leaders are to be diligent. Those who give compassion should do it cheerfully.
Romans 12:9-13. We are in love "to be genuine". We are not to "be an actor on the stage, to impersonate anyone, play a part; pretend; play the hypocrite". We are to “hold in abomination that which is evil”, Cass. I wonder how much on T.V. and on the Internet that has much evil is hated by us? "Honour" is that respect shown another according to how we evaluate another and we should allow others to be before us.
"Slothful" is to not want to hesitate. "Business", the moral earnestness with which one should give himself to his work. "Fervent", to boil with heat, be hot. Cass. Translates v.11 “As for zeal, I would have you unwearied, aglow with the Spirit, serving the Lord”. It is fervency from the Spirit and not produced by the flesh, soulish excitement or self-effort. It is a wonderful thing to be aglow with the Spirit of God.
"Be constant in prayer", to persevere, to give constant attention to a thing, to be devoted to. "Practise hospitality" is being generous to guests. "Hospitality" here is food, clothing, shelter, particularly to persecuted Christians. We "Bless" when to speaking well of others.
Romans 12:14-21. "Curse" is calling down divine curses on someone. This is something that should not be done. "Not setting your mind upon lofty things" is having a humble opinion of one’s self; a deep sense of ones littleness, modesty, lowliness of mind; spiritual thinking of regretting the moral littleness and guilt. "Avenge" is to vindicate ones self. We are to hand the offender over to the vengeance of God but acts of kindness soften hearts.
People will do evil to and against us. This should not be a problem, particularly if we do good in return.
The whole chapter concerns our worship. Worship is "homage", "reverence". It is about "spiritual" "worship". It is of the Spirit and it is directed to God. It concerns our whole life. It involves our services where there is meant to be singing in the Spirit, gifts of the Holy Ghost, praying and worshipping in other tongues, ministering to each other and of course, the preaching of the Word of the Truth of the gospel. Personally, I do not know one church where this is done. Sadly we are in a situation ourselves where we are not involved in anything like this – getting old!
The present day so-called "Praise and Worship" , with its emphasis on rock music, music singing stars, loud bands, drums, rock concert styled jumping up and down is not Holy Ghost worship. Indeed the whole scene is fraught with idolatry. People, unsaved and unspiritual, love it. Music can be a powerful god.
The object of our worship under the New Covenant is Christ, who is the image of the Father and who is our Mediator in heaven. This is spelt out in 1 Timothy 3:16, Cassirer, "And indeed – there is no denying it – it is a great and profound mystery which is the object of our worship. It is he who was manifested in the body, vindicated as righteous by the Spirit, who was seen by angels, proclaimed to the Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up to glory".
This is the mystery of godliness – it is Christ. This mystery can only be peered at. It cannot be totally found out, this side of heaven. He came to earth and went into the body of Mary, as the Divine Son of God. There He, in His Divine nature, took unto Himself the nature of man, first of all in her womb. There were two natures, God and man, in union. This is a mystery that cannot be explained.
“Down from His glory, ever living story,
My God and Saviour came and Jesus was His Name,
Born in a manger, To this earth a stranger,
The great "I Am".
This was part of one of William Booth-Clibborn’s hymns, which hymn book sadly I have lost. This was the grandson of General Booth who founded Glad Tidings Tabernacle (Covenant Christian Church), Barry Parade, Valley, Brisbane in 1932.
One Person, yet distinctly God and man. As said 17th century John Owen the greatest English theologian of all time, "the Eternal was made in time, the Infinite became finite, the Immortal, mortal, yet continuing eternal, infinite, immortal – is that singular expression of Divine wisdom, goodness and power, wherein God will be admired and glorified unto all eternity".
Only the Infinite can understand the depths of this mystery. We are finite and yet we worship! This worship must be by the Spirit.
Sadly, the religious songs of today fall far
short of this.
Romans 13:1-7. The Roman Empire acted on Jewish law. Christians were treated differently from Romans. However, Paul says God Himself is the fount of all authority and those who have it on earth do so from Him. To disobey is to disobey God. Human government is a divine ordinance, for repression of crime and encouragement of right and justice. In matters not touching life as a believer they must be obeyed. Paul points out their relationships to the world, particularly regarding attitudes toward governing officials as well as taxes.
Romans 13:8-10. This as in Galatians 5:13-15 puts together all that preceded and what will follow. Observance of the Law has finished, since the love command "fulfils" its aim.
Romans 13:11-14. Living according to the flesh must not be followed. This is intended for Gentiles who are not to follow the works of darkness that filled their lives formerly. He is also speaking to the Jews and encourages both not to be quarrelling or to have jealousy one of the other. The way of victory is to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”. This was done in effect at conversion but there needs to be a continual application of this by faith. We are to live in Him and not according to our carnal nature that as chapter 6 reveals was crucified with Him legally.
There is a connection with this portion and Galatians. While saying there is a righteousness apart from Law, we are not subject to Law because there is the work of the Spirit within us, Galatians 5:16-25. While Paul does not always mention the Spirit, in all of his epistles regarding living as believers, it is his intention that it is always to be done through the Spirit within us.
We are reminded of chapters 6-8 by this last
verse that warns us not to follow in lusts of the flesh shown there to be a
powerful force but by the Holy Spirit in us. Jesus Christ has obtained
deliverance for us from living carnally.
Romans 14:1-4. This begins with a word to
Gentiles but then there is an appeal to both. It is about "food".
Romans 14:5-6a. Here it is about days some observed. It is clear God cares nothing at all about observance. Since both those who follow such and those who do not follow such are accountable to God alone any form of judgment or scorn must not happen. Both will appear before God in judgment. This is warning and assurance to both. These matters do not concern genuine righteousness.
Jews and Gentiles in the church are responsible to God alone on such matters. They must not judge or scorn each other. They must not despise each other. However, I think that today if we Gentile believers go back to observing Jewish days, such as Passover etc., we could stand condemned. I say this not as a Jew but as a Gentile Christian!
Romans 14:7,8. The purpose of the lives of believers, which is their ‘purpose driven life’ is shown. “If we live we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s”.
Romans 14:10-12. There is a serious note in verse 10 where we are all told we will stand before the judgment seat of God. “So then each of us will be accountable to God.
Paul urges them throughout to "accept one another." This is a Spiritual and Christian acceptance between Jew and Gentile in the one church. The glory of God is at stake, and the gospel must work out in real life even though there were real differences among them. Paul holds fast to what he has said elsewhere, "in Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, nor food, nor days, counts for a thing." He speaks mainly to the Gentiles, to encourage love for the Jews by not forcing Gentile freedom on them. It is just as clearly intended to get the Jews to take a different view of things in light of Christ and the Spirit.
Here the whole is directed practically toward the Gentiles but in fact takes the side of the Gentiles, thus destroying the position of the Jews. These principles apply to "wearing of gold" and "not wearing veils".
Romans 14:13-20. Jesus removed food-laws by pronouncing all "clean", Mark 7:19; Acts 9,10; Galatians 2:11-14. In Galatians Paul stood up to Peter who play-acted or pretended something he really did not believe. This was from fear of the Jews and the Judaizers. In Acts 15:20,29, Gentile believers had added to their faith a rule for the benefit of the Jews only, to abstain from food Jews hated, from blood, and to conform to Jewish marriage-laws. The Jewish believers in Jerusalem were never freed of their following of Jewish Old Testament customs.
The buying of butcher-meat in pagan cities such as Corinth and Rome gave believers a problem. Much of the flesh for sale came from animals that had been sacrificed to a pagan deity. This deity was given a portion, the rest sold by temple authorities to retail merchants and then to the public. Many believers knew that the meat was neither better nor worse for its association with the pagan deity and would eat. Others were not happy. They felt it was infected by "demons". Paul knew there was nothing wrong with the meat. A believer could eat. There were no demons attached to the meat.
If other believers ate and then felt they had the right to go to banquets in pagan temples, that was wrong as it was under a god. Could believers sit at the Lord's table and table of demons? Love would make it sometimes necessary for the strong believers not to eat so as not to harm another believer. 1 Corinthians 8:10. In Romans 14:14-16,17 we are told "the kingdom of God is not meat and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost". Ephesians 5:5 has sated “Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God”. God’s people must not be covetous.
Romans 14:21. ”To eat" and "to drink" seems
to mean that if on any particular occasion it seems likely that to eat flesh or
to drink wine will cause a brother to stumble, it is wrong to drink. Eating and
drinking are not wrong in themselves. We eat to live and drinking is allowed in
many other Scriptures. Over-eating means the belly is the god, Philippians 3:19,
and drinking too much is drunkenness. Such will not enter heaven.
Romans 15:1-6. Here is a final appeal to the Gentiles, that shows the example of Christ. It also brings in the Jews, by way of a final prayer.
Romans 15:7,8. First it is an appeal for both to accept one another, just as Christ has accepted each of them. Christ has accepted them both. He came through Judaism firstly to show that the promises of the Old Testament were fulfilled and also He came for the sake of Gentiles. He did so as a "servant from among those who are circumcised (the Jews)”.
The final result of this is Jew and Gentile are one people, together praising God, fulfilling the covenantal promises. We are reminded that in Romans 4:1 they are to accept the one who is weak as to the faith. In 15:7 they are to accept one another. In both cases this is strengthened by their looking at how God accepted them.
Romans 15:9-12. This is followed by Old Testament passages, all of which have to do with Gentiles sharing in the promises and thus "praising God." The last of these is from Isaiah 11:10 and concludes with the words, "in whom, referring now to Christ, the Gentiles hope."
Paul quotes Old Testament passages, all of which have to do with Gentiles sharing in the promises and thus "praising God." The last of these is from Isaiah 11:10 and concludes with the words, "in whom, referring now to Christ, the Gentiles hope." God has had a plan for the Gentiles that goes back to the promise given to Eve and to the covenant made with Abraham. Gentiles are to rejoice with His people of the Jews, all of them having come in by the door of faith. That is faith in Christ and His atoning death on the cross with His resurrection. He is son of David by way of being “the root of Jesse (David’s father)”.
Paul brings the whole of 14:1-15:13 to its conclusion with a final application to Jew and Gentile, the one people of God,. Paul has instructed them how to behave in relation to the observance of food laws and the observance of days as found in the Law. In the final prayer, verse 13, he trusts that they have faith to live as set out in the letter. This will be with joy, peace and hope. Three matters call for further observation.
Romans 15:13. Here is a prayer that the "God of hope" might-
a. fill them with the Spirit's joy and peace as they
b. continue to put their
trust in Christ, so that as they do so he (the God of hope) might cause them
c. to overflow with hope, by
d. the power of the Holy Spirit as the means whereby God fills them with joy and peace as they trust in Christ. The purpose finally is that they might overflow with hope by the same Holy Spirit.
Is it not worthy of note that there are no "Hallelujahs", once or repeated several times, in the prayer?
Romans 15:14-16. From now until the end of the chapter there is a similarity to Romans 1:9-15 where he set out his desire to visit them, share some spiritual gift with them, mutually encourage each other, to have fruit from them and all this because he says “I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians (both being the Gentiles)”. Also, it is about Paul's twofold concern for his writing such a long letter to a community which he long desired to visit and hopes soon to do so.
He apologizes : a. that he should write such a long letter to them, as though they needed his instruction at all: and b. for his ministry in the past. He hopes he will minister among them in the future and further west. The latter is emphasized more, since he wants, first, to make true to them his past and present ministry, and second, to explain why he cannot now come. At the same time he hopes that when he does they will not only warmly receive him but aid him on his way west. God has "graced" him especially to be Christ's "minister" to bring the gospel to the Gentiles, vv. 15-16, a passage referring to the nationalistic Jews.
We see in the following prayer that there is the Trinity, Christ Jesus, God (the Father) and the offering sanctified by the Holy Spirit - Christ is the one who accomplishes the work, by the Spirit, who again is designated as the "Spirit of God". The Trinity works salvation. Paul understands the Spirit (of God in this instance) to be the means whereby Christ accomplishes his work in the present age. This makes clear distinctions between Christ and the Spirit.
"So that I might be a priestly servant of Christ Jesus for the Gentiles, serving the gospel of God in priestly fashion, in order that the offering that consists of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified as it is by the Holy Spirit".
This expresses the goal of "the grace given to [Paul) by God", mentioned in the preceding main clause, v.15. God has in grace given him this "priestly ministry" with regard to the gospel, which has as its ultimate goal the salvation of Gentiles. His "offering" is the Gentiles themselves. They have been "sanctified by the Holy Spirit." It is used only by Paul here and in 2 Thessalonians 1:11; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 5:9 and means "to live in the Spirit".
Romans 15:17-22. He speaks of those things about which he has a "boast" before God, his worldwide ministry among Gentiles where others have not gone. This explains in part his long delay in getting to Rome. Christ is carrying out His own work in the ministry of the apostle. It is for the obedience of the Gentiles. The agency of Christ is the Holy Spirit, 1 Thessalonians 1:4, 5;1 Corinthians 2:5; 4:19; 2 Corinthians 12:12. Both workings of the Spirit through Paul by "word" and "deed" (through signs and wonders), were done by the power (“dunamis”, the same word as in Acts 1:8; Ephesians 1`:18; 3:16.20) of the Spirit of God". These signs and wonders were never laughing or falling over that did not have as their base this “dunamis”.
In light of such a text, and especially with its repeated emphasis on "power," one can easily fall into the trap of thinking of power only as visible and extraordinary, miraculous, manifestations of the Spirit's presence. Preaching and teaching are to be with that invisible power.
"Power" is “dunamis”, the same word of Acts 1:8 where Jesus said, “You shall receive dunamis, when the Holy Spirit comes upon you”, speaking of the baptism with the Holy Spirit of Acts 2:4. This always includes praying in other tongues that is the miracle and outworking base of “the power” intended. This in Paul’s ministry resulted in "signs and wonders". We should not neglect to understand that his preaching was also and more importantly, with this “power” or “dunamis.
There is no hint that what he describes is limited either to himself or to the apostolic age. This is simply the way Christ has been at work to bring about "the obedience of the Gentiles." It is necessary for such ministry to continue now, as long as there are still "Gentiles" who need to come to the obedience of faith. On the other hand, since this is something Christ does by his Spirit, it is not some kind of ministry that one can reproduce on one’s own. We need to learn to walk in the Spirit, praying in other tongues.
Romans 15:23-29. He announces his plans to come to Rome, and be sent on his way by them to further "unreached" Gentile places, Spain. Before that he must go to Jerusalem with his gift of money from the Gentile churches for the Jewish believers in Jerusalem. This is to let people know that he believes Gentile and Jew are one people of God.
He writes about the gift to be sent to them, "They were pleased to do this and indeed they owed it to them; for if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material things". This still should happen today. Those who receive spiritual things should give money or material things to the preachers (of whatever country) who preach to them; Galatians 6:5-7. Paul says there is a giving by those who preach and those who hear. Those who preach, give spiritual things. Those who hear (of whatever country), give money, food, accommodation and/or material goods.
Romans 15:30-32. He closes with a request for their prayers that in the two places, Jerusalem and Rome, he might have success.
Then comes an appeal to the "grace" of Christ for them. The second clause refers to the “love” [of God] known to them because of the Spirit in their hearts.
It is "through our Lord Jesus Christ," meaning "on the basis of what Christ has done for us all as outlined in the letter". It is "through the love of the Spirit," meaning "on the basis of the love for all the saints, including myself, that the Spirit stirs in us". "Love for one another" is because of the love of God as it has been demonstrated in Christ Jesus. It has been made an effective outworking in our lives through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
In the final mention of the Spirit in this letter, we see how we are to pray. Prayer is to be made to God, the Father. Such prayer is based on the work of Christ and the Spirit. Everything is based on the work of Christ on the cross. To stand to pray and then precede such prayer by many "Hallelujahs" is contrary to what the Spirit writes through Paul. We are told how our praying is to be in these verses.
It does not include any "Hallelujah". We
should note Paul mentions the ongoing work of the Spirit who gives the love that
will cause them to take notice.
This chapter of Paul's, shows clearly the importance he placed on his words in Galatians 3:28, "All distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and freeman, male and female, have vanished; for in union with Christ Jesus you are all one". Another translation says, "There is no room for Jew or Greek, no room for slave or freeman, no room for male and female, for you are all one through union with Christ Jesus". Dare we act as if this is not written for us? Paul believed these words and they were followed in his ministry as he had women ministries.
Romans 16:1,2. Let us look at all the women preachers that are mentioned in this chapter, whether women apostles, women pastors/teachers or women evangelists.
Phoebe, an Apostle. Romans 16:1
Theodoret, around 400 AD, says, "Phoebe was
famous". Theodoret was born at Antioch and was a theologian. He was given
position by the Council of Chalcedon in 451. It was after this Council that the
Syriac-speaking Christians began to be organised into three religious
denominations. One of these is the Syrian Orthodox Church, from the Jacobites.
This is the church that has had such an influence in Kerala. It is interesting
to note that this Syriac speaking theologian regarded Phoebe as a famous woman
She was a "servant" or “minister” of the church. This has no connection with a woman who works in a Pastor's church or Bible School, cooking and cleaning. The same Greek word for the "servant" or “minister”, Phoebe, is that used of the "servant" or “minister” of the Jesus Christ, Paul, in Romans 1:1. This Greek word is used of apostles, as the dictionary states, in the following scriptures, Galatians 1:10; Philippians 1:1;2 Timothy 2:24;Titus 1:1;James 1:1;2;1 Peter 1:1,Jude 1; Acts 4:29. Mentioned in this way as apostles, are Paul, Timothy, James, Simon Peter, Jude, the eleven, or twelve to include Matthias, and Phoebe.
Romans 16:3-5. Evangelist and Pastor/Teacher
Prisca (or Priscilla) Woman Apostle Called Priscilla, with her husband Aquila, were Christians before they went to Corinth. They were part of the expulsion of Jews from Rome about 49 AD. Those Christians probably date back to 30 AD because Luke in Acts 2:10 lists visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes. Their Christianity was particularly Jewish. Aquila, a tent-maker, was joined by Paul in this craft. The mention of this couple in the Bible includes that of naming Priscilla before Aquila. This leads us to believe that she was the one with the most prominent ministry. They pastored a church that met in their own home. The first convert in Asia, Epaenetus, was a member there.
Paul left Corinth in 52 AD with both husband and wife. Aquila and Priscilla stopped in Ephesus, Acts 18:2,18,26. Apollos arrived on the scene, 8 Acts 18:24-28. It states that Priscilla and Aquila spoke to him and taught him further. He knew the Jewish scriptures and the story of Jesus. He had a knowledge of "The Way" but it was defective, as is found in people all over many Christian churches throughout the world.
All Apollos knew was the baptism of John. They invited him to their house and gave him more instruction. This was not only about Christian baptism but would have touched on all the doctrines of the apostles and of Paul. Apollos came from Alexandria and presumably made contact with Christianity there. Alexandrian Christianity was for a long time different from true Christianity, Acts 18:25. Possibly Hellenistic believers took the gospel to Alexandria after Stephens death, Acts 7:59,60; 8:1-3.
It is Scripturally correct that when we find believers with an incomplete knowledge of the gospel or the Word, we should teach them further. This Priscilla and Aquila did with Apollos, from their great store of Scriptural and experiential knowledge. Priscilla taught Apollos herself. Here is a woman teacher teaching a man! Apollos became an apostle, 1 Corinthians 1:12, who later established churches. The ministry of this woman, Priscilla, with in her case her husband, was very productive.
They had returned to Rome and pastored a church. Priscilla was the leading pastor, as evidenced by the way Paul addressed them both. This letter to Rome was written about 57 AD. They are mentioned as being "fellow-workers" with Paul. See 1 Corinthians 16:19; and 2 Timothy 4:19. They were "missionaries" or "apostles", like Paul. They had been threatened with martyrdom for the sake of Paul, Romans 16:4. Women who visit other countries to "witness" or on a "Missionary tour with a team" are not apostles.
In 66 AD when Paul wrote to Timothy, this couple are mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:19. Again, they were pastoring another church in another city, in their home. Timothy had been left in charge of the work in Ephesus, and Asia Minor, 1 Timothy 1:3; 1 Timothy 4:13,14. Now Priscilla and Aquila are living in Ephesus. Shortly after that, it is thought they were martyred there.
We should mention two women ministers not in this list. These were Euodia and Syntyche, who laboured in the Gospel. In Philippians 4:2,3, they were quarrelling! Also, in 2 John that apostle addresses a lady who is pastor of a church.
Romans 16:6. The next mention in this chapter of a woman preacher is Mary, evidently Pastor/Teacher. She "worked hard" for the church. This can only be in ministry, including the preaching of the Word of God to the whole church, consisting of men and women.
Romans 16:7. Junias, a Female Apostle. In the original, the name is Janian (Greek). There is no masculine form (Junias) in any dictionary of Greek names. The English translations incorrectly use Junias. It should be Junia, a female.
Chrysostom, himself a Greek, about 390 A.D. wrote, "Oh, how great is the devotion of this woman, that she should even be counted worthy of the appellation of apostle!" Andronicus and Junias were husband and wife. Both were "outstanding among the apostles". Here is another woman apostle.
Romans 16:8-11. Now Paul sends greetings to quite a few workers and co-workers in Christ. These are males.
Romans 16:12,13 Here are two female workers in the Lord, Tryphosa and Persis. They were women preachers, pastors/teachers, and evangelists.
Romans 16:14. Hermas, is a female, mentioned with others, and the "brothers and sisters who are with them", NRSV Version.
Romans 16:15. Julia and also the sister of Nereus, both obviously Pastor/Teachers.
This makes ten women ministers in this portion of the Word of God.
Dare we forbid women today, who are called of God, from taking their place in the church of Jesus Christ? To forbid them is to forbid the Holy Ghost. It is to do what they did in the book of Revelation, when Jesus had to stand at the door of the Church knocking. They had left Him outside, Revelation 3:20.
In this day, women are to proclaim this great tidings of victory to the Church, which consists of men and women, as found in Psalm 68:11. In eleven English translations (and in a note in the King James Bible) this verse reads, "The Lord gives the command; great is the company of women who bear the tidings". These women are a great host. God’s decisive word shall go forth this time, according to this Psalm. Of these women preachers, pastors, prophets and apostles there shall be a great host. They will be like Miriam and Deborah. In the time of the outpouring of the Spirit, their work shall be much greater. Women in Christ, who are called to preach, arise!
A "servant" of the Lord is one as is Paul, Timothy, Peter, Barnabas, Philip, John, Phoebe and Priscilla and Aquilla. He or she is a minister and preacher of the gospel and of the Word. On women preachers, who are of necessity pastor-teachers, apostles, prophets or evangelists, as well as on the men preachers, God promises to pour out His Spirit. We are speaking of truly Spirit filled and Spirit empowered women of God, who preach the true Word of the Gospel of Christ.
Therefore, we wait to see the major fulfilment of this verse. It has not yet happened. It would appear it should happen before the Lord returns, or it could mean that part of His Word is made void, without fulfilment. Regarding the time of the return of the Lord, what can we say?
Romans 16:25-27. He closes his letter with
faith that God who is able, would indeed strengthen them. We note that it is
“according to my gospel”. This today is an important feature for all preaching.
It is always to be according to Paul’s gospel as set out in his epistles. It
should not have additions or removing of any portion. It should never be another
gospel. It is a mystery now revealed with nothing further to be revealed.
God’s purpose had been conveyed throughout all of the Prophetic writings in the Old Testament. They were hidden to most of the Jews but now under the gospel they could be understood. Through the preaching of the gospel, the mystery contained in the prophetic writings and revealed to Paul more than to most, is now being revealed to the Gentiles. They also are under “the command of the eternal God to bring about the obedience of faith”.
Paul then ends all of it with praise to God,
whom he says is “the only wise God”. He offers this praise through Jesus Christ
and to God he thus gives a “be the glory forever! Amen (meaning “truly” or
As Henry writes – “Through Jesus Christ. To God only wise through Jesus Christ. It is in and through Christ that God is manifested to the world as the only wise God; for he is the wisdom of God, and the power of God. Or rather, as we read it, glory through Jesus Christ. All the glory that passes from fallen man to God, so as to be accepted of him, must go through the hands of the Lord Jesus, in whom alone it is that our persons and performances are, or can be, pleasing to God. Of his righteousness therefore we must make mention, even of his only, who, as he is the Mediator of all our prayers, so he is, and I believe will be to eternity, the Mediator of all our praises”.
The theme is the Holy Spirit. The whole way
in which the Spirit is mentioned should also lead to a better understanding of
living in the Spirit. The Spirit is obviously the key to Christian life, both
conversion and every day living. The Spirit cannot be added to our own
programmes as is attempted all over the world.
Paul was addressing a specific situation. Our situations are different but principles remain. We are to have a passion for missions.
One situation that remains similar is that concerning Jewish Christians and the nation of Israel. Jewish Christians today are still under the message of Paul. The nation of Israel today is still not God’s chosen people, even as Paul declares, Romans 9:7, "For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel" and Galatians 6:15,16, "Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God". He taught that Israel of that day and today comprises believers in Christ, whether Jew or non Jew. We are to have a passion for missions. However, we should not be led into enterprises carried on by ministries in corruption. Also, there must be unity of the brethren, in particular those who know the Truth and the Spirit. There cannot be unity between those who believe the totality of the Gospel and those who preach a perversion of it. The Truth of the gospel is greatly emphasized by writers of the Epistles in dozens of instances and of course, by Jesus Himself, who is the Truth.
The book is against Christian pride (especially Gentile) that Romans 9-11 points out. Gentile Christians have not replaced Jews as the true people of God. Jewish believers also should not have pride. The two-covenant doctrine, one for Israel and one for the church, especially the "Gospel for the Jews in the Millennium" is based on race. Paul in Romans renounces and opposes it. There is a new humanity, one, in Christ.
God has acted within history to bring the old age to an end and has brought in the new. Paul teaches monotheism (One God), not deism (a natural religion) or pantheism (God is everything and everything God; or a worship of all gods).
This is shown to be true in the cross and resurrection and the sending of the Spirit. The church is called to do and be for the world what Messiah revealed as the Angel of the Lord, was and did for Israel. Christ was to choose a people in and through whom the world would be healed of its sin, 1 Peter 2:24,25, "In his own body he carried our sins up to the cross, so that, our sins having been done away with, we should spend our lives in the pursuit of righteousness. His wounds were the means through which we received healing. There was a time when you were like sheep who had lost their way, But now you have turned to him who is the shepherd and guardian of your souls". When we consider these two verses, we have to come to the obvious conclusion that they are about deliverance and healing from sin and its effects.
Every part deals with this subject so that the one word "healing" that is used to prove that every sick person can be healed of every ailment, is incorrectly used. The context is not about bodily healing, even though there can be a faith for healing today based on the effects of the Atonement and not on the Atonement itself. It is about sin and the salvation and deliverance by Christ on the Cross. This people, the church of the New Covenant, would have the Law's fulfilment in her by the Spirit. There would be the new creation's liberty because of the "manifestation of the sons of God", Romans 8:20-23. Paul cannot be speaking about this world and its creatures being renewed. 2 Peter 3:12,13 says it will be destroyed by fire and that we “wait for new heavens and a new earth”. John saw new heavens and a new earth with the Holy City coming down from heaven to this earth, Revelation 21:1,2.
The Assemblies of God in the U.S.A. in 1979 had a statement to the effect that the atonement only provided for healing in certain cases. They believed the atonement covered the fact that some people would be healed of illnesses. This is closer to the truth than what people do today by making the atonement give a blank cheque for all healings. God was Jehovah Rapha, the Lord our Healer, for a whole nation of Israel when they travelled through the Promised Land. For one thing, there was no natural way they could ease ailments or procure new clothing.
The Pentecostal churches in Australia today are following the modern trend where the Baby Boomers are in power and introducing their own wayward philosophies. This same section of the population is in power in our churches with grievous results in belief and practice. The old are slighted.
Israel's failure, her present and future history, are clearly revealed in chapters 9-11. The only reason the church cannot fail is that she is under the New Covenant and not under the Old Covenant and the Law. She is under grace., with a Surety who cannot fail, the Lord Jesus.
In particular, Jesus Christ Himself is the Surety of this New Covenant. He cannot fail. Therefore we do not fail if we keep our faith and walk placed in Christ. The church cannot fail if she walks according to the Gospel Message and the Spirit. She will fail in all those areas (and she does) where she allows sin, worldliness, humanism and heretical teachings, which today are many. Jesus said, "The gates of hell will not prevail against her". According to Ephesians 5:27, there will come a time when in heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ will present her to Himself "without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless". That will be after the coming of the Lord and the resurrection of the dead, when believers will have their redemption of body clothed with immortality and their spirits made perfect.