Paul’s Letter to the Romans Part 16

This entry is part 15 of 15 in the series Paul's Letter to the Romans

The Jews had reached the point where they thought much and practiced little. We are reminded of what Jesus said of the Jewish leaders: “they say, and do not”. No one should be guilty of adultery, and certainly the man who preaches against it should not be guilty of it. 

Part 16

“For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written” (Romans 2:24). What then is the use of your teaching when ye teach not your own selves? You not only neglect to teach the things of the Law, but you instead teach the opposite. The circumcision, one will say, is a great thing. Yes, I also agree, but when? When it is the inward circumcision. The Jews sought to make proselytes. Jesus said they would compass sea and land to make one proselyte. They might have had great success, if they had lived up to their preaching. It is hard to make anyone believe there is any good in your doctrine, if it has not done you any good. The Jews had so lived as to cause the gentiles to blasphemy their preaching instead of believing it. The Jews had become a hiss and a byword. Read Isaiah 52:5. “Now therefore, what have I here, saith the Lord, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the Lord; and my name continually every day is blasphemed.” The right kind of living on the part of professed Christians gives them a favorable hearing when they present the gospel. Do not try to sell the gospel by mere talk; show them a sample of what the gospel will do for the people who really believe it. You will then likely make a believer instead of a blasphemer. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).“For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision” (Romans 2:25). Of circumcision God said to Abraham: “And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you” (Genesis 17:11). What is circumcision? Is it a good deed on his part that has it? Is it a manifestation of a right choice? It is surely a victory, when taken in the right regard or when held by them in reverence. Descendants of Abraham and Jacob were not brought into the covenant by circumcision, they were born into that kind of covenant, and were circumcised as a sign of their membership in the covenant. If one was not circumcised, he was cut off from his covenant relationship. “And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant” (Genesis 17:14). Consequently, to the Jew circumcision was indispensable to continued membership in the covenant and it was profitable to him; if he lived in obedience to God. But if he did not obey God’s commands, his circumcision was worthless to him, it was the same as if he had not been circumcised. It was a sign, or token, of the covenant. Paul was seeking to show the Jews that this sign of covenant relationship was worthless to the one who did not live up to the covenant requirements. How does it benefit me to show a written covenant between me and another man, if he can show that I have broken every covenant requirement?

Paul’s Letter to the Romans Part 15

This entry is part 14 of 15 in the series Paul's Letter to the Romans

Has God set limits on His love towards us? What lengths has He gone to prove His love? Should we respond to His love with our love towards Him? Instead we insult Him. We have turned aside from Him when He calls us and draws us to Him, He has run Himself unto us, and held us back, when fleeing, and we have shaken Him off and leaped away to the Devil. This is everyone’s story. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Even with such a horrible response toward Him, He has sent numberless messengers to call us to Him again, Prophets, Angels, Patriarchs. After all this we killed the Prophets, we stoned them, we did them other cruel wrongs without number. What then? In their place He sent no longer Prophets, no longer Angels, no longer Patriarchs, but the Son Himself. He too was killed when He had come, but even this act did not quench His love, but kindled it even more. He never ceases loving us. We however, are not impressed by His love, we value money above Him, and man’s friendship, and ease of body, and power, and fame, before Him who values nothing more than us. What can we have to say for ourselves, if even Satan’s commands we value more than the Laws of Christ, and are thoughtless of our own salvation choosing wickedness, before Him who suffered all things for us? And what pardon do these things deserve?

“Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law” (Romans 2:17-20). During the captivity and thereafter “Jew” became the common name of all the people. They were proud of the name “Jew” and of what, in their estimation, the name stood for. And they gloried in God and not in idols. They were confident that they were able to teach all who foolishly worshiped idols. There privilege’s, their belief in the one God, and their knowledge of his will, should have made them humble and ashamed that they had made such poor use of their privileges and blessings; but, instead of that, they were boastful, and they maintained an air of superiority over all other people. Therefore, every blessing has its corresponding danger. Is there no danger when we fall into a similar state of mind? We have the bible, abhor creeds, glory in the name we wear, and feel able to teach the whole world. Are we not inclined to be proud and arrogant? Should we not rather feel humble and ashamed that we have not made better use of what we have?“Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?” (vs. 21-23) These are probing questions. Any man is a poor teacher if he does not teach himself while he is teaching others. He is a poor preacher that cannot preach better than he can practice, but he is a poorer preacher if he does not try hard to live up to his preaching…

Paul’s Letter to the Romans Part 14

This entry is part 13 of 15 in the series Paul's Letter to the Romans

Paul shows his admiration for the Gentile when considering they required no law, and yet exhibited all the actions of the Law, having the works, not the letters, graven upon their minds. Paul does not say that the gentiles lived up to their natural law anymore then the Jews lived up to the reveal law. On the contrary, he was seeking to show that all are sinners and need the gospel of Christ to save them. But they did have an idea of right and wrong. 

Part 14

“Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another” (Romans 2:15). The moral requirements of the law are just such things as any decent set of people would recognize as proper and right, even if they never had a revelation. There conscience, like the conscience of those who had a revealed law, would accuse them when they failed to live up to their standard of right, and approve them when they did right as they saw it. That is the office of conscience. Your moral judgment may tell you that a certain person did very wrong, but his act does not affect your conscience in any way, unless you feel responsible for his action. Saul of Tarsus always did what he thought was right, and therefore always had a good conscience. But his information was wrong, and therefore his moral judgment was wrong. As to moral judgment, no man can safely say that he is right on everything. Gain all the information you can, so that you can form correct judgments, and give heed to the urge of conscience.“In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (v. 16). Let each man enter into his own conscience, and reckoning up his transgressions, let him call himself to a strict account, that we are not condemned with the world. “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Cor. 11:32). Call to mind what is said in the Gospel, the Angels running to and fro, of the bridechamber being shut, of the lamps going out, of the powers which drag to the furnaces. And consider this, that if a secret deed of any one of us were brought forth into the midst, today, before the Church only, what could he do but pray to perish, and to have the earth to gape for him, rather than have so many witnesses of his wickedness? How then shall we feel, when, before the whole world, all things are brought into the midst, in a theatre so bright and open, with both those known and those unknown to us seeing into everything? What is to become of us then when bound, and gnashing our teeth, we are led away to the outer darkness? Or, rather, what shall we do when we offend God? This is why Paul states: “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Corinthians 15:9). Also, listen to David, when he is set free from the punishment, calling vengeance down upon himself, “And David spake unto the Lord when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house” (2 Samuel 24:17). Therefore, we ought to know having offended God is more distressing than to be punished. But sadly, we have no fear of hell.

Paul’s Letter to the Romans Part 13

This entry is part 12 of 15 in the series Paul's Letter to the Romans

Part 13

“For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law” (Romans 2:12). Here Paul shows us the equality of the Jew and the Gentile. He also shows that the Jew had a heavier burden by the gift of the Law because the Gentile is judged without law. The Jew thought they needed no grace, being justified by the Law, however, Paul shows that they need it more than the Gentiles, considering they are liable to be punished more. “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). We are sure of two things with reverence to the Gentiles, one, they had sinned, and two, they had not sinned under the law of Moses. This being true, they would not be judged by the law of Moses, but would perish without the law. From Mount Sinai to the cross of Christ the children of Israel were under the law of Moses. The sins they committed were committed under the law and against the law, and by the law they will be judged. Paul’s language clearly shows that only those who were under the law will be judged by the law. As the law did not extend to the gentiles, they will not be judged by it. 

“For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Romans 2:13). If the standard currently was that you were saved by the law, then the Jew would be ahead of the Gentile; especially those who were doers of the law. Why would the Jew be before the Gentile? Because they have heard the law. The law was not known by the Gentiles. The Jew trusted too much in the fact that God had made them custodians of the law, and that it was always with them. They could read it when they so desired, and they heard it read in the synagogues every sabbath. They put too much stress on their hearing the law and on their knowledge of the law. As a result, they neglected the doing of the law. That was a fatal mistake, for not hearers, but doers of the law were justified. The law condemns the guilty and justifies the innocent. Paul does not affirm that any Jew had so kept the law that he would be justified by it. He merely lays down the principle that the doer of the law shall be justified. Absolute justification by the law could be had only by perfect obedience to the law. But no one kept the law perfectly, and for that reason the law justified no one. “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16). It is plain, therefore, that no Jew kept the law so perfectly as to be justified by it. The law convicted the violator instead of justifying him.“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves” (Romans 2:14). Paul would never reject the Law, but when they are obedient intuitively, he justifies the Gentiles. He does not vilify the Law, but on the contrary exalts it and in showing its greatness he simultaneously strengthens his whole position. Paul shows his admiration for the Gentile when considering they required no law, and yet exhibited all the actions.

Paul’s Letter to the Romans Part 12

This entry is part 11 of 15 in the series Paul's Letter to the Romans

It was an easy matter to get the Jew to agree that the gentiles were sinners; but, for his own good, it was necessary for the Jew to see himself as a condemned sinner, else he would not see his need of the gospel.  

Part 12

To convince the Jew that he was a sinner and needed salvation was a task that demanded a good deal of skill. Paul’s first point was that the Jew had no right to condemn the Gentile, for he was also guilty of the same sins. The Jew boasted that he was the object of God’s special favor. Because of this Paul asked, “or despises thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long suffering, not knowing that the goodness of god leadeth thee to repentance?” That is, the goodness of god was intended to lead them to repentance, but they despised it and were treasuring up, or heaping up, wrath for themselves. “Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God” (Romans 2:6-11). We must not add to the teaching of salvation by works; that, will contradict the doctrine of salvation by grace. On God’s side, our salvation is wholly a matter of grace, for he received no pay for saving us. On our side, salvation is wholly a matter of works, for we cannot furnish grace. Eternal life is to be rendered “to them that by patience in well doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption”. Jesus spoke to the rich young ruler in Luke 18. The ruler asked, “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus’s response was, “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother…he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me”. When the young man refused the offer, Jesus said, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Who then can be saved? To have eternal life, to be enjoying treasure in heaven, to be in the heavenly Kingdom, and to have eternal salvation are the same. Eternal life is conditional, for eternal life must be sought by patience in well doing. Any person who can think at all should be able to see that, if damnation is conditional, salvation must also be conditional. One cannot be conditional and the other unconditional. If doing wrong causes a person to be lost, then, to be saved he must leave off the wrong and do right. If being lost is conditional, so is being saved. There is no way to escape that conclusion. When the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus said, “if thou wouldst enter into life, keep the commandments.” If eternal life is not conditional, no one can give a reason why one person is saved and another lost, for there is “no respect of persons with God.”

Paul’s Letter to the Romans Part 10

This entry is part 10 of 15 in the series Paul's Letter to the Romans

Nothing ruins a man as much as slipping from this anchor. Consider what safety we shall enjoy by having God before our eyes! Even the Devil himself will hesitate to attack us when we are so conditioned. 

Part 10

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Romans 1:28). Paul often compares the behavior of the Jewish Christians to that of the gentiles. They often act as though they have no religion at all or worse than the gentiles. He points this out when saying, “Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the other Gentiles which know not God.” (1 Thessalonians 4:5) And later, “sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (vs. 13). Paul shows them their error and leaves them without excuse. It would be one thing if he had said, “they knew not God”, but what he actually said was, “they did not like to retain God in their knowledge”. This is a worse evil on their part. They did not think that it was important to know God. So, God allowed them to become like prisoners to their own wicked minds. As a result, they acted in ways that were not right and proper. God ‘allowed’ them to do these sinful deeds. This does not mean that their behavior is acceptable. It means that God gave to people the opportunity to make decisions. People should realize that they will suffer the results of their actions. 

“Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers. Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents” (Romans 1:29-30). Worse than being sinners they did so with a conceited mind. He warned the Corinthian Church of the same concerns saying, “Ye are puffed up.” (1 Corinthian 5:2) They sin in every kind of way. They are completely wicked, evil and greedy. They are jealous. They murder. They fight and they cheat. They hate other people. They gossip. They tell lies about other people. They hate God. They do not respect other people and they are proud. They boast. They think of new ways to do evil things. They do not obey their parents. 

“Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful” (vs. 31). They are foolish. ‘Foolish’ means that people do not learn from experience. They are not loyal. They do not remain loyal to any agreement. They do not show any natural love, even for their own children. They have no love or pity. ‘Without pity’ is an accurate description of the way in which many masters dealt with their slaves. Masters thought that slaves were mere possessions rather than people. Roman law allowed masters to punish and even to kill slaves because of a very small mistake or accident. This was a very wicked law. 

“Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (vs. 32). The people in this congregation sinned openly, and they knew exactly what they were doing, yet transgressed willingly. Could this situation be any worse? Yes, to make the situation worse they “not only do such things,” he says, “but have pleasure in them that do them.” They knew that this behavior was wrong.

Paul’s Letter to the Romans Part 9

This entry is part 9 of 15 in the series Paul's Letter to the Romans

Even Paul grew brighter out of those that thwarted him and plotted against him, Job out of the many scourges, Jeremiah out of the miry pit, Noah out of the flood, Abel out of the treachery, Moses out of the bloodthirsty Jews, and Elisha, each of the worthies of old, not out of relaxedness and softness, but out of tribulations and trials, came to be attired with their bright crowns. Much more so was Christ, who knew this to be the groundwork of a good report, said to His disciples, “In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). He that “with the temptation maketh also an escape, so that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor 10:13), may He stand by all of us, and reach forth His hand, that being gloriously proclaimed victorious we may attain the everlasting crowns. 

Part 9

“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet (Romans 1:26-27). The Roman women could not proclaim that they were being hindered of legitimate intercourse. They came to this conclusion, or that it was from having no means to fulfil their desires that they were driven into this monstrous insanity. Paul said, “They changed the truth of God for a lie.” With regard to the men, he shows the same thing by saying, “Leaving the natural use of the woman.” Paul points out that they had the means of gratification, and left that which they had, and went after another, but that having dishonored that which was natural, they ran after that which was contrary to nature. Genuine pleasure is according to nature or God ordered. But when God has left one, then all things are turned upside down. This is proof of the degree of corruptness in that congregation, when both sexes were left unrestrained, he that was ordained to be the instructor of the woman, and she who was bid to become an helpmate to the man, work the actions of enemies against one another. One might ask, where did these desires come from? It was from their abandonment from God. They became enemies to themselves and to one another, bringing in an evil kind of conflict, and one even more lawless than any civil war. “The twain,” it says, “shall be one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24.) This was God’s order; that man should be with woman and woman with man. But this desire the devil took away, and turned God’s plan into another fashion, he consequently divided the sexes from one another, and made the one to become two parts in opposition to the law of God. For it says, “the two shall be one flesh;” but he, the devil, divided the one flesh into two. If you mock when hearing of hell and don’t believe that fire exists, remember Sodom. Consider how great their sin was, to have forced hell to appear even before its time! Many, thought scornfully of His words, however, by His deeds, God showed them the image of eternal torment. Where did all this evil come from? Of indulgence; of not knowing God. When you cast out the fear of Him, all that is good immediately goes to ruin. Brothers and sisters, to prevent this, let us keep clear before our eyes the fear of God.

Paul’s Letter to the Romans Part 8

This entry is part 8 of 15 in the series Paul's Letter to the Romans

“And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (v. 23). 

Part 8

The Romans made many errors in not intuitively knowing God. They did not think to know the creator, although they seemed to be wise and had worldly knowledge, they did not seek God, and they also placed God at the same level as the created things of the earth; i.e. stones and rocks. Does God belong on the same level as the created things or is he above all? Paul writes similarly in the Corinthian letter when he says, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men” (1 Cor. 1:25). These people, instead, should have had some idea of who God truly is, for instance, that He is God, that He is Lord of all, that He made them, which were not, that He exercises providence, and that He cares for them. This is the “Glory of God.” However, in the absurdity of their minds they did not even place God in a similar level to man, but instead “to an image made like to corruptible man.”  

“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves” (v. 24). God leaves those that are not mindful enough to receive the gifts that come from Him, and who would rather turn away from him, although He Himself has fulfilled His part in its entirety. He gives all reason and understanding which will make them capable of perceiving what is needful. During that time, the Romans of that day did not use this knowledge to guide them unto salvation, but they perverted what they had received. How should God respond? Should he drag them by compulsion and force? 

“Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen” (v. 25). Paul makes his assertion strongly by not simply saying, “they served the creature,” but “more than the Creator”. Paul shows them here that it was not in self-defense that God left them alone and He, God, suffered nothing Himself. Even if these people treated Him insolently, He was not harmed, neither did it impact His glory, but He remains continually blessed. Often men, through philosophy, insult other men, however, if they are not offended by this much less would God be, the imperishable and unalterable Nature, the unchangeable and immovable Glory. Tell me now, if your little child were to insult you, would you then reason the insult an insult? Let us seek to be free from insults and when insulted to bear them. Remember that the children in the furnace were not burned? and that Daniel in the den suffered no harm? Insults will even now come to pass. There stand by us also lions, anger and lust, with fearful teeth tearing asunder him that falls among them. Let these affections never fasten their fangs into your soul. If we are sober-minded, those that try to hurt us might even profit us. Even Paul grew brighter out of those that thwarted him and plotted against him, Job out of the many scourges, Jeremiah out of the miry pit, Noah out of the flood, Abel out of the treachery, Moses out of the bloodthirsty Jews, and Elisha, each of the worthies of old, not out of relaxedness and softness, but out of tribulations and trials.

Paul’s Letter to the Romans Part 7

This entry is part 7 of 15 in the series Paul's Letter to the Romans

Therefore, he begins this way, but afterwards he introduces the subject of Christ’s judgment. “Against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” Here he shows that the ways of ungodliness are many, and that of truth, one.  

Part 7

“Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them” (Romans 1:19). God has invested in his children the knowledge of his glory. They, however, have become selfish in their dealings and made priority of everything besides God’s glory. An example is, they who received the knowledge of God and His glory, invested in idols, “held the truth in unrighteousness,” and dealt wickedly by the knowledge, by not using it appropriately. God placed in man the knowledge of Himself from the beginning. However, they used that knowledge to their own benefit and held the truth equal with unrighteousness. How is it that we know that He did actually place that knowledge within us, you might ask? “Because, Paul said, “that which may be known of Him is manifest in them”, in verse 19. He further made it plain by putting before them His creation, so that both wise, and unlearned, having through sight learned the beauty of the things which were seen and that they would ascend to God through this knowledge. 

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (v. 20). Through agreement with other scripture, the prophet said, long before Paul came into existence, “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1). In the end, can we really have an excuse, or is it possible to say, “we were ignorant of you God?” The creation in harmony had nights and days, seasons throughout the year, and order which continually preached God’s love. His purpose in creation was not to take away their excuses, but instead set before them as an amazing system of teaching that could help them to understand and come to know Him. Most, however, by not recognizing Him have deprived themselves of every excuse. 

“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (v. 21). It is evident that they knew God, think about what the scriptures say, “because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God.” How could they fall into such absurdity, you might ask? They trusted everything to their own reasonings. Paul implies this when he states sharply, “but became vain in their reasonings, and their foolish heart was darkened.” They, attempting to go the way leading to Heaven, and having destroyed the light from their own selves, and, in substitute, trusted themselves to the darkness of their own reasoning, and turned to manmade idols. 

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (v. 22). These having great pride in themselves, and not continuing to go the way which God had commanded them, they were plunged into the reasonings of senselessness. 

Paul’s Letter to the Romans Part 6

This entry is part 6 of 15 in the series Paul's Letter to the Romans

They (the Romans) were thus puffed up, but Paul was going to preach Jesus, who was thought to be the carpenter’s son, who was brought up in Judea, who had no body guards, who was not encircled in wealth, but even died as a culprit with robbers, and endured many other shameful things; for this reason he says, “I am not ashamed”.

Part 6

Do you worship the Crucified? The Cross is for us the work of unspeakable Love towards man, the sign of His great concern for us. Paul means to say, he came to preach the Cross, and is not ashamed because of it: “for it is the power of God to salvation.” The Gospel tells us of the account of hell, and that of the outer darkness, and of the venomous worm? And yet we know of these from no other source than the Gospel. In what sense then does he say, “the power of God unto salvation?”  

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). It is possible to be saved, yet not without shame. To prevent the Church from believing this he adds also righteousness; and not just your own, but that of God; hinting also at the abundance of it and its provision. You do not achieve it by hard work and labors, but you receive it by a gift from above, contributing only one thing from yourself, “believing.” These things seemed challenging to understand, being that adulterer and effeminate person, and robber of graves, and magician, are not only freed from punishment but also become just, with the highest righteousness. Paul confirms his defense using the Old Testament. He made mention of the harlot and of Abraham in Hebrews chapter 11; which is the chapter on the faithful. He again confirms what he had said from the Prophets, bringing in Habakkuk before them, crying, and saying, it is not the nature of the living, to live otherwise except by faith; for “the just,” he says, “shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). 

“For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold down the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). Paul says that the Gospel is the cause of salvation and of life, that it is the power of God, that it produces salvation and righteousness, and he mentions what might make them fearful to prevent their recklessness. Observe Christ’s actions, he came to bring forgiveness, righteousness, life, yet not in any way, but by the Cross, which is greatest also and wonderful, that He not only gave such things, but that He also suffered such things. If you carelessly mock His gifts, Paul tells us, penalties await you. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven.” The old testament speaks of famines and pestilences and wars: for each individually and all in common are punished. What will be the new thing then? The punishment from God shall be manifest, when the Judge, sitting upon the fearful tribunal, shall command some to be dragged to the furnaces, and some to the outer darkness, and some to other unstoppable and intolerable punishments. Why, might you ask, is it that Paul does not speak plainly? His hearers were novices, and therefore he draws them first by things commonly allowed by them. Therefore, he begins this way, but afterwards he introduces the subject of Christ’s judgment.