For God has shut up all mankind together in disobedience, in order that he might show mercy to all. Romans 11:32
St Paul preaching in Athens by Raphael (1515) - Victoria and Albert Museum UK
This page is here to give access to a series of podcasts of studies of Paul's letter to the Romans - all of it.
The author is greatly indebted to David Pawson for his teaching on Romans 9-11 and to David Stern for his Jewish New Testament translation of Romans and his Jewish New Testament Commentary. The studies are conducted using the JNT/CJB because of David Stern's care to make clear concepts that do not come out well in most translations. The studies follow the thread of Paul's discussion of salvation for Jews and Gentiles through Yeshua the Messiah / Jesus the Christ.
These studies are not aimed at competing with much excellent teaching on Romans that is available, but to point out the path to the section that is very rarely taught. For this reason, you will notice that the early studies are very short. I hope the coverage of this path is sufficient to allow you to get an overview of Paul's reason for writing and to take to heart his concern that we understand God's purpose correctly.
The podcasts, that may be listened to or downloaded, are preceded by the intros and followed by the outros that contain each study.
You might like to make use of the pause button to think about or discuss stuff as you go through these studies.
Paul introduces himself, because he did not plant this church in Rome and has not yet visited. Having introduced himself as a preacher of the Good News, he sets out to paint the background of the Bad News of mankind's Sin.
So we leave our first study on a pretty gloomy note, apart from the fact that Paul introduced himself as an emissary of the good news from God, so we know that good news will be coming after the bad. Paul has introduced the Good News that he preaches; good news for both Jews and Gentiles.
But then he explained that everybody is guilty before God and we have no excuse, whether we had the Torah or not.
He says that we have deliberately rejected God and become worse and worse, and encourage each other in wrongdoing.
Chapter 2 starts with "Therefore" so we will see what the outcome of this state of affairs will be.
In Chapter 1, Paul introduced the good news about salvation from God, but noted that mankind has largely rejected the knowledge of God that was there for all to see, even without access to the scriptures. Furthermore, God has given them over to their chosen vileness, and the consequences they will suffer in their own bodies.
Chapter 2 starts with a "Therefore", suggesting this is not a new topic, but a conclusion drawn from what has just been discussed.....
Pity about the chapter breaks.
Having looked at the sins of THEM....... Paul is now considering the implications of the fact that none of us is without sin.
So Paul has moved on from the bad state of humanity to looking at the choices between sin being right with God or not. And he started contrasting both the righteous and unrighteous and the Jews and the Gentiles. He looked at the implications of having or not having the Torah. He points out that the Torah will condemn the Jew who fails to follow it but those without will be condemned by their conscience. He pointed out how difficult it is for the Jew to be right with God by keeping the Torah, and still we look forward to the good news.
Although Chapter 3 is a new chapter Paul was in the middle of a discussion about whether having the Torah was a good thing for the Jews or whether it condemned them. So he starts by asking the question "what advantage has the Jew?" and starts to tackle the assumption that God has rejected the Jews because of unfaithfulness.
Paul answered the of the questions from his imaginary adversary suggesting that God's dealing with the Jews were a failure, with the strongest possible negative. He asks if the Jews are better off, but homes in on the issue of sin that affects us all. He has introduced God's way of making people righteous is not the Torah itself, although the Torah points to it. The way is trusting in the faithfulness of Yeshua the Messiah. Again, Paul is cut off in mid-stream.
Having established that the way to righteousness is not legalistic observance of the Torah, but trusting in God and His provision of righteousness, he now takes Abraham as the primary example of one who trusted God and was considered righteous.
Paul developed his case from the importance of trust to the fact that it is God's grace that brings us forgiveness. He also pointed out that Abraham was not circumcised at the time he became right with God, so both circumcised and uncircumcised have access to this grace and can become Abraham's spiritual descendants.
Click here for parallel teaching with podcast about Abraham, by Paul Parkhouse of ICEJ.
Having introduced God's grace, given to both Jew and Gentile who will trust like Abraham did, Chapter 5 starts with "So", indicating that the argument continues across the join.
Notice too that the next two verses also start in this way "Also" and "but not only that." Paul is building up to increasingly great implications.
Paul moves on from trust, he moved on to consider that we must maintain this trust through troubles, but that God's grace is able to bring us through because God's love is poured into us. He started using "How much more" arguments to emphasise how great is the power of Yeshua's sacrifice and that it is in every way sufficient to deal with the sin that Adam brought upon us all. And Chapter 5 ends with a reminder that the Torah serves to point out sin and our need of Grace.
Having introduced God's grace to the story, and its power to see us through, Paul then builds on the discussion of Adam's sin infecting us all, but Jesus' righteousness redeeming us all. He starts with another challenging wrong question from his imaginary opponent with another strong negative.
Having brought us to the point where we have forgiveness through God's grace, Paul has now warned us not to take this grace lightly, but to rely on God's ability to keep us trusting and faithful. He has emphasised the spiritual significance of immersion into Yeshua's death and the fact that we are no longer enslaved by sin and we must live in newness of life.
Chapter 7, is not a new argument, but a continuation of the discussion about the implications of our having died with Christ and no longer being slaves of sin. The wording, "Surely you know" suggests that this is a continuation.
Speaking of the Law - Paul uses the Greek Nomos, meaning Law or regulations - it is used generally of the Law of Moses; the Torah. But Torah means teaching and instruction rather than legislation.
He discusses our relationship with the Torah, now that we have died with Jesus the Messiah and have access to a new way by the Holy Spirit.
So Paul has brought us through the implications of being dead to our old nature and the deadly power of the Torah to condemn us if we are not trusting and living in Holy Spirit power. But this raised the question how something good became a source of death and why there is conflict within the person who is seeking to follow God. Paul sums this up with the anguished cry of one who seeks to do right but finds himself condemned by of the handicap of his physical nature, and then answers his cry with the Answer that God will save him through Yeshua the Messiah.
So Paul brought us to the top of the argument about the deadly power of the sin that we all have within, but we ended the previous study with the glorious contrast, What a miserable creature I am! Who will rescue me from this body bound for death? Thanks be to God [, he will]! - through Yeshua the Messiah, our Lord!
So now we are really into the Good news, everybody's favourite chapter - even everybody's favourite verse. But is it really right to quote it out of context; without all that led up to it - and all that follows on from it? - We aren't half way through the epistle yet! Paul still has more to say about the need to keep living in the new life and not to give room to the old life.
So, having started from the news that God will deliver us through Jesus, Paul continues with the classic Rom 8:1 Therefore, there is no longer any condemnation awaiting those who are in union with the Messiah Yeshua. Why? Because the Torah of the Spirit, which produces this life in union with Messiah Yeshua, has set me free from the "Torah" of sin and death. So he developed the story with an explanation of how God has achieved our newness of life and position of sonship if we are led by the Spirit. From all that has led us to this point, we are assured that God is able to keep us through whatever comes our way as long as we keep trusting. We need to remember who "we" are in this teaching. It is those who have believed and trusted God's word about his saving grace through the Messiah promised in the Jewish scriptures - both Jews and Gentiles. In the next chapter Paul opens his heart to tell us of his grief about his fellow Jews who have not accepted his message.
I will recap what has gone before, because we are venturing into less taught territory - although it is still part of the one teaching from Paul.
Paul introduced himself to all those God loves in Rome, as emissary of good news about God's son, descended from David, resurrected from the dead - Yeshua the Messiah.
That is Good News to both Jew and Gentile
God is angry with the wickedness of all who suppress the truth and has given them up to their degradation and worthlessness.
Concerning God's law - those who sin outside its influence will die there and those who sin within the framework will be judged by it.
Nobody will be considered righteous for legalistic following of Torah, because we have all fallen short.
But we are granted righteous status because of Jesus' sacrifice. So no grounds for boasting. Same for Jews and Gentiles
Abraham is the first example because he trusted God - and God counted it righteousness.
How much more, we who trust in Jesus will be delivered from God's judgement.
Sin entered world - thus death - to all mankind; because we all sin.
But as sin came by one man - righteousness was won by one man.
Thanks to Jesus, we are dead to sin and no longer have to be slaves to sin and are free from subjection to trying to follow the Torah legalistically.
Where I was once captive in a body bound for death, God will deliver me, so I am no longer under condemnation and am set free from the old way of sin and death.
So - now we don't owe our old life anything, and must keep on putting our old ways to death,. We are led by God's spirit, and are joint heirs with Jesus - but we will suffer with him.
The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and pleads for us.
God works everything for the good of His people who are called in his purpose, because he knew us in advance and is working in our lives
With God on our case...
Who can accuse us?
What can separate us from God's love?
Remember - all this applies to both Jews and Gentiles.
Chapter 9 does appear to be a change of direction in Paul's teaching; but he is explaining these things in order the we Gentiles may understand the way our salvation was obtained through God's covenants that he made with the Jews.
Even though I cautioned against relying on chapter and verse numbers, chapters 9 10 and 11 do seem to be convenient and reasonable divisions of Paul's developing case. This is not to commend reading one chapter on its own, but I does help to see when Paul is taking his teaching to the next level.
(the Verse numbering is not very helpful)
Paul turns to a matter of great concern to him - the Jews; because something is clearly wrong.
Paul shares about his great pain that his flesh and blood, the people of Israel have, mostly not received their Messiah, in spite of all the things that are theirs as God's chosen people.
Then comes the big BUT, in case we conclude that the Jews have blown it with God. Israel's present condition does not mean the word of God has failed. Paul sets out to discuss why in this chapter and ten and eleven. He discussed the issue of God's sovereign choice to use some but not others and the fact that there is a distinction between those who are physically descended from Abraham and those who trust and are thus spiritually descendants of Abraham. What God did to us as objects of his mercy, he did to show his glory. This chapter ends with Paul summarising how Gentiles not striving for righteousness, obtained it by trusting; while the Jews who were pursuing righteousness failed to obtain it because they were doing it by legalism.
The reason for this paradox is made clear at the end, where Paul quotes Jesus, quoting Isaiah about the stone that God laid in Zion that would make people stumble but that would support those who trusted.
So we do not yet have the solution to Paul's concern for the Jews, and must read on.
Paul has explained his heartache about his people - the Jews who have so much going for them (covenants etc) BUT. . .
He looks at the present condition of Israel (the vocal majority) that is violently opposed to the Gospel of Yeshua as Messiah
But their present condition does not mean God's word failed.
Don't adopt replacement theology
Points out that not all Israel is God's faithful Israel and introduces the idea of being chosen for good or bad.
We are not in a position to judge God for this.
God did this to reveal his glory to the Jews, but now to us Gentiles as well.
God's plan does not need every single Jew; his plan will work with only a remnant.
The Jews who stumbled over the Rock God laid in Zion, did so by seeking legalistic righteousness instead of trust.
Paul started (as for chapter 9) with his concern for his fellow Jews who have missed the point of God's way of making people righteous, even though the object of the scriptures was to point to the Messiah in whom they should trust. He points out that this truth is not hard to find, and that it can save everyone who calls on the name of God. Somehow, the news was told to them but they failed to pay attention.
He then introduces the idea of the Jews being provoked to jealousy because we, ignorant Gentile sinners have heard and accepted the message and been taken in to God's family. But that is jumping ahead a bit, to the next chapter
The division between chapter 10 and chapter 11 appears to break Paul's argument.
Starting a passage with "In that case" is very strange.
We must remind ourselves what "that case" was.
Paul's explained his desire for Jews to find salvation.
They are zealous but misguided, seeking their own route to righteousness; not God's way through trusting.
The goal of Torah is Messiah, who gives righteousness to those who trust yet somehow, for the Jews, Torah became a set of rules to follow
Paul's imaginary adversary suggests they didn't hear - No they did
Then perhaps they didn't understand - Paul does not answer directly, but quotes from the prophet Isaiah about God seeking to provoke the Jews to jealousy - that he is found by Gentiles.
God has been giving salvation to those not seeking him - as he has been trying to reach Israel who were seeking so hard but wrongly.
So Paul introduces the idea that God is provoking the Jews to be jealous of us. Wow!
So God hasn't said "That's it! - I've finished with the Jews and found a new chosen people."
Sadly, there have been many Christians who have done just that.
It is known as Replacement Theology, meaning the church has replaced Israel as God's chosen people.)
But chapter 11 continues from chapter ten with Paul's adversary asking if God has finished with the Jews and getting a very strong "Heaven forbid" answer. So now we are coming to the essence of God's plan for both Jews and Gentiles to come to salvation.
So we have it very plainly, God has not repudiated his people, but has kept a remnant for himself, even if many have missed it.
Now it gets difficult, God has made most of them stone like. Why?
Because of their stumbling, deliverance came to the Gentiles, but that is in order to provoke the Jews to Jealousy. Wow!
Then - if their stumble brings reconciliation for the world, think how much their accepting Yeshua will bring - life from the dead!
This is where the story really begins - with the picture of the olive tree.
Paul likens God's family of trusting people to an olive tree (with Jewish trunk and branches) But we Gentiles, who he likens to branches from a wild olive tree have been grafted, illogically, into that tree. However, he quickly warns us not to get smug about this because we could get cut off and the Jews can be grafted back in. We don't support the root; it is supporting us.
Then Paul reveals a prophetic truth - that Israel' current stoniness will come to an end once the times of the Gentiles have run their course. Then God will take away their sins and all Israel will be saved; because God's gifts and calling are irrevocable.
Then comes the very climax of the plan - how God is going to save them and show mercy to all undeserving sinners.
Israel has been disobedient now so that they may receive God's mercy because we have shown them mercy. So that's it - the conclusion of world salvation. But have you ever heard this taught and realised that we have a duty to show mercy to the Jews? I doubt it, because the church has spent nearly 2000 years doing the opposite.
So, having brought us up to this glorious truth, Paul bursts into a song of praise.
From here onwards, Paul will be explaining how this truth should be working out in our lives.
Intro 12 & 13
We are coming down from the peak of Paul's discussion of God's purposes and plan for Jews and Gentiles together in his kingdom; into discussion of how this knowledge should affect our lives. Remembering of course that call Paul gave to us Gentile believers to show God's mercy to the Jews.
Note that Paul's exhortation starts with a "therefore", meaning, "in the light of all this."
So if a preacher just picks up and preaches chapter 12 without any mention of the chapters leading up to it, he is mishandling the word of God by taking scripture out of context.
Clearly, they still contain good advice, but let's see if what we have learned from the missing chapters adds new light to these teachings.
Because the last chapters of Romans contain advice for the Christian life in more general terms, there are probably better studies out there, but these last two are offered for completeness of the series and to look for any other issues related to chapters one to eleven.
Outro 12 & 13
So, because of all we have learned of God's plan to save the Jews as well as the Gentiles we look at what our response should be. Obviously this would not be the case if we had just skipped over chapters 9 to 11 as so many folks do.
So we start by offering ourselves as a living sacrifice and then allowing our minds be transformed so we stop conforming to the world. Having done that, we need to understand our position within the church (God's whole olive tree) as God sees us and not with pride. Paul gives a raft of practical tips for living right.
This includes a proper respect for authority that we might find counter-intuitive, living it the post-modern world, and concludes with a reminder to clothe ourselves with Jesus and not waste time satisfying our old sinful nature.
Intro 14 to the end
Paul is still teaching practical ways to live right as part of Jesus' church with an application of loving others as ourselves, in not making pitfalls for those weaker than ourselves. I would suggest that chapters 12 to the end of Romans should really just be one long chapter.
Outro to Romans
Paul wrote the longest known letter in the ancient world to the church in Rome because there was a problem with the church that had become Gentile growing arrogant and thinking that God had rejected the Jews in favour of themselves.
Paul walked them through the sinfulness of mankind and God's plan to bring salvation through trusting in his mercy to the world. God kicked off this plan through one man of exemplary trust and the family he supernaturally gave him, that subsequently became the Jews.
Having shown that we are all dead to God through sin, powerless to deliver ourselves and condemned by the Instructions that God entrusted to the Jews (or our own consciences if we are not Jews.
So both Jew and Gentile are dead under judgment. The Jews were trying really hard to live right and the Gentiles didn't know or care. But what was needed was to turn to God and trust in his mercy.
Chapter 7 into chapter concludes that we are powerless to save ourselves, but that God is able to save us, put to death our old sinful nature and give us the power we need to be able to begin to live righteously - even through the inevitable hardship.
Having looked at salvation for both Jews and Gentiles in parallel, Paul looks at where the Jews are missing the point, but will in God's time be opened up to trusting in God for his mercy. Paul illustrates our position in his olive tree picture and warns us not to draw the wrong conclusion from Israel's temporary disadvantage, because it is for our benefit.
He finally points out that God has an expectation of us to play a crucial role in turning the Jews to trust Him - by provoking them to jealousy and by showing them mercy, as we have been shown mercy.
The rest of the letter consists of practical instruction of the way we should live as Jews and Gentiles, all branches in God's olive tree.
Paul concludes with greetings and a prayer blessing us all with strength in the light of what he has been teaching us.
I think it likely that I will revisit some earlier studies in the light of what I have learned during this project.
We hope this has been of some help. Please let us know your thoughts.
Completed 08 /12/16
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