Introduction to Romans – Christian persecutor Saul, who became Paul and a leading Christian teacher after meeting a resurrected Jesus on the Damascus Road, wrote this letter to the Christian Jews & Gentiles in Rome in 60 AD. Much about the saving Gospel of Christ is explained in definitive terms so we can more fully understand how it works. Paul was a Roman citizen, a Pharisee in the Jewish faith, and a highly educated man.

Romans 1:

v1-7: Paul gives loads of credibility to Jesus being the Christ for both Jews and Gentiles.

v8: Alludes to the fast spread of Christianity “throughout the whole world.” This quoted phrase may be a bit tricky, i.e., not the way we would probably interpret it. Some think it means the “inhabited earth” (which, to the writers, could mean the Roman Empire and a bit beyond – it probably would not include the Americas and all ocean islands). Others believe it means the “land of Israel alone.” There is historical evidence that the Gospel reached England just prior to 300 A.D., and by 303 A.D. they were being persecuted. So when Paul wrote that phrase in 60 A.D, I find it hard to believe that it literally means the “whole inhabited earth.” In other words, Paul was using hyperbole here. The point is that it spread fast to many areas.

v11: Emphasizes the importance of not only believing in Jesus but to be “established.” I think that means “grounded” so you will not fade away from faith and walking in the Holy Spirit.

v14: When referring to preaching the Gospel, Paul states that he is “under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, to the wise and to the foolish.” For a staunch Jewish Pharisee and Roman citizen to follow this charge is really something! It shows how much God had changed him, and it shows how important non-Jews are to God.

v16: When we feel God prompting us to share with someone about Jesus, let’s remember what Paul says here, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel….” Fear of man and rejection are the two biggest stumbling blocks we face and must overcome through Him. What helps me when this hits is saying “It’s all about Him, not me.”

v17: Reveals that even the Old Testament says that faith is the way to righteousness (Habakkuk 2:4).

v18: “Suppressing the truth in unrighteousness” – many people and mediums today suppress truth because of personal bias. Evolution promotion is a great example. There is so much scientific evidence against it, and that is not allowed to be taught in public schools. Furthermore, professors and researchers, such as Robert Gentry, have lost jobs and grants when they discover evidence against evolution. The movie “Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed” documented some of these stories. I am not in favor of Biblical Scientific Creationism being taught in public schools because many science teachers would not do it justice. They just do not know a lot about it. Hopefully that will change as the word gets out. But I am in favor of allowing all the scientific problems with evolution to be taught at this point in the growing controversy. The Bible does not need to be brought up in the discussions. Just stick to the science and creation wins. Selfish political discourse also serves to suppress truth. Hollywood movies suppress truth about premarital sex. The vast majority of sexual behavior in movies is portrayed by unmarried people sending a loud message against God’s law.

v19-20: God says that His creation is enough to convince people that He exists. True science will lead scientists to believe in a Creator, unless they are not willing to obey Him (John 7:17).

v21-24: God darkens the hearts of those who reject Him, even though they think they are so wise. The scientific term “homo sapien” means “wise man.” I’ve seen an arrogant spirit within the scientific community today. Historically, I think it started with the Age of Reason (Enlightenment) and has grown from there with more knowledge that has been acquired (1 Cor. 8:1). They should take some lessons from one of the greatest surgeons in the world – Ben Carson. When human pride reaches a certain point, God gives people over to impurity, so that even their bodies will be dishonored among them.

v25-32: All people, because of sin, have an intangible void inside. This emptiness will seek to be filled. All people therefore will worship something. Even the atheist will worship self. Eastern religions offer many gods. Humanism offers self. Many in America worship materialism. The list goes on. When we worship what God has made rather than the One who made it, we are darkened. This can spawn all sorts of ungodliness and perversion as verses 26-32 reveal. It will become so bad that many people in this state of mind (or spirit) will heartily approve of practicing those behaviors.

Romans 2:

v1-11: God warns us to be careful how we judge others if we do the same things. No one will escape God’s judgment, whether Jew or Gentile. All are lawbreakers of God’s rules and will be treated fairly without partiality. Just because God deals with Jews first and Gentiles (Greeks) second (v9), it does not mean that both will be treated unfairly. Many Jews, because they received the Law, thought they would get “special treatment” from God. Not so. God was radically changing the covenant Jews had been exposed to for centuries, so He needed to explain much to them first. This is why Jesus did not heal a non-Jewish woman at first, but did when He saw her faith.

v12-24: All wrongdoing has negative consequences. It doesn’t matter if you are  Jew since they know the Law, nor does it matter if you never heard of the Laws of God because everyone instinctively knows about doing wrong. Jews tended to think they are holier than Gentiles because they had the Laws but they sinned like anyone else. They were supposed to be beacon light to Gentiles but they failed.

v24: A modern-day update to this verse is that “non-Christians mock Christianity because the state of many churches.”

v28-29: These two verses hold deep truth. Jewish circumcision was instituted to represent a “cutting away” from the heathen world. The purpose of the Jewish race was to be godly and reveal the only true God to the rest of the earth. Over the centuries, God had His hands full trying to keep them holy. Now, in New Testament (covenant, agreement), God emphasizes that to be a true Jew one must be circumcised inwardly, of the heart. Salvation, or the right to be a child of God, does not depend on race or genetic background (it NEVER did). When we go through that “born-again” experience mentioned in John 3, we nail to the cross our selfish natures (and every person has this as a root problem). God supernaturally circumcises our hearts during this experience. A modern-day update of this concept is: Just because a person has been raised a Presbyterian, or Baptist, or Catholic, etc., it doesn’t mean they are a child of God. If one thinks they are favored by God or are okay in His sight simply because they go to a church, they have made the same mistake as many Jews in Jesus’ day. If one is raised in a Christian home, that alone does not make them saved. God does not have any “grandchildren.” At some point in our life, we all must turn away from our sinful self-centeredness, and ask Jesus to forgive us and to take over the control of our lives. This is what it means to be “Born-Again.” It is something we did not make up. It is something we cannot perform. It is something that He does for us, if we humble ourselves as a little child and ask. It does not matter what a person has done in their past or what non-Christian religion they have been reared in. God loves all people from all backgrounds and creeds (not that all creeds are correct), but He gives eternal life through only One Person – the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). Why only one person?

1) He is God, no one else is.
2) Jesus is the only person to fulfill all of the Messianic prophecies.
3) Jesus is the only person to conquer our actual enemies – Satan, sin, and death.

Romans 3:

v1-4: Paul asserts that being Jewish still can have some benefits. They were chosen by God to reveal His Laws to the world and to obey them as much as they could in order to see how God can bless individuals and even nations that follow His Word. also, through Jewish failure God still kept promises because He loves people. He does not lie. The Jewish nation gives us all hope.

v5-6: “But some might say, ‘our sinfulness serves a good purpose, for it helps people to see how righteous God is. Isn’t it unfair then for Him to punish us?'” Does that mean we are examples to be made of? Paul is making statements about how great God is by the fact of how much He forgives. Paul also is thinking like the “other side of the debate” and reveals how they would rebut with “Then the worse we are the better God is, so if we are helping God look good by the magnitude of our sinfulness, then He should not punish us.” In v6 Paul says, “Nice try, guys.”

v11-18: This describes the depth of depravity we are born into. It hinders us from seeing how offensive and evil our nature is. We see only a part of it. The angels can see it because they see both God in His Holy state and us in our sinful state which causes me to understand why the angels long to look at what God is doing (1 Peter 1:12). They do not see the finished picture as God does. They happily serve Him, but they probably wonder how He can make creatures such as us into Holy Perfection.

v19-20: Because The Law exists (whether it comes from the Jews or Gentile consciences) it causes sin. This concept goes back to the beginning with the fall of man via Adam and Eve. Once humans had the knowledge of right and wrong, they would choose wrong. Therefore trying to be good can never lead to holy perfection, which is required for eternal life with our Creator. Extra note: So because Jesus was perfect as a human, and because was willing to become our sacrificial lamb on the cross, and He has chosen to clothe us in His righteousness, we can gain back eternal life.

v21-26: The bad news is every single person has sin in and on them. The good news is that Jesus provides the way back by what He did on the cross and in life by never sinning.

v31: The Living Bible translation is good – “Well then, if we are saved by faith, does this mean that we no longer obey God’s laws? Just the opposite! In fact, only when we trust Jesus can we truly obey Him.”

Application for Today: I think the biggest mistake Christians make is trying to live up to the “Christian Standard.” Uhhhh….hello?….earth-to-believer…..WE CAN’T! We receive everything by faith and grace (unmerited favor) – see Galatians 3:1-7,24. Indeed do not strive to be good, but be filled with faith and love for Jesus and you will be surprised about how much “gooder” you will be, and you will even exceed expectations. If we strive within our own power to be and do good, then we will also lose the joy of the Lord (which is our strength (Psalms 28:7). If we strive to be good and think we are doing a pretty good job of doing that, we may tend to judge others more harshly because, after all, “THEY are not doing it!”

The Bible also says, “Cease striving and now that I am God” (Psalms 46:10). We will need to cultivate our love for Jesus from time to time, however. And, if we struggle even with doing that, just confess it to the Father and ask Him for His help and it will be done FOR you. I think King David realized all this and this is why God could say about him – “he is a man after My own heart.” Jesus simply said, “If you love Me you will obey Me” (John 14:15). We are all surprised about how easy the Christian walk becomes when we apply this advice.

Romans 4:

This chapter makes it clear that physical circumcision is not necessary to be saved. Furthermore, the true descendants of Abraham are those males and females who are circumcised in their hearts. This means they have confessed they are not worthy enough for God’s Kingdom and have trusted in the righteousness of Jesus Christ to clothe them in order to have eternal life. Pride is dealt a death blow in the “born-again” experience. Every human being needs to go through this before they die in order to gain eternal life.

v3: Even the Jewish father (first Jew) Abraham was justified before God by his faith. He actually believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead after killing him for a sacrifice!

v4-5: Good works do not gain eternal life for us.

v6-8: Even king David recognized the joy of being forgiven of sin.

v9-12: Abraham BELIEVED God before any Jewish law came about, including circumcision. Therefore no law or rite or ritual has the power to forgive sins. Therefore, an uncircumcised man can be saved while a circumcised man is not. And visa versa. Jewish males still get circumcised today. In fact, some Gentile males do too. It actually has health benefits. Without foreskin, the man can keep that area cleaner. This benefits women as well. A long time ago researchers noticed that Jewish women had a low incidence of cervical cancer. Well, many Jewish women marry Jewish guys. In uncircumcised males, the Smegma bacillus can grow easily. Certain microorganisms, such as Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), have been known to cause cervical cancer. In fact HPV, is the leading cause in the U.S. now. When God set up this practice for OT Jews, He commanded that it be done on the 8th day of life. On the 8th day, the levels of prothrombin and vitamin K rise to their highest levels then gradually decrease throughout his life. These two elements are necessary for blood clotting. So the best time for a male to get cut is on the 8th day of his life.

v21-22: Righteousness in this context means “as though we’ve never sinned.”

Romans 5:

v1: Salvation will bring inner peace that this world cannot give (John 14:27).

v3-5: When I look back at my personal trials and tribulations, I now see growth. Plus whatever we overcome during our stay on earth will also determine what we will have for eternity.

v6-9: This calls attention to God proving His righteousness by demonstration through Christ – actions do speak louder than words. The cross was His demonstration of His love for us. In God’s creation, the life or soul of a person is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). Therefore the highest possible form of righteousness would be a willingness to give this up for someone else since it was the most important part of a living being. This also may explain why one of God’s rules is that there is no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22). God’s redemption plan for sinful mankind is so perfect that it is spiritually legal (He bought us back at a high price), all will be happy, and no one will boast.

v10-13:  This means that even though we were in an “enemy state” against God, He still reconciled (elevated us to a friendship basis) us with Him through what He accomplished in Christ. Notice that we did not make a first move toward Him, but He toward us. This is spelled out in verse 8. Reconcile means to restore friendship after a period of separation due to conflict. In order for reconciliation to come about, however, one side alone cannot do it. We must accept or receive His initiated gift. If we reject or ignore it, we have no hope for everlasting life. Due to sin we are all orphans and need to get back to our father.

v12-21: Paul describes a fantastic comparison between the “First Adam” and the “Second Adam,” and how the Second Adam (Jesus) overcame what the First Adam did. Paul also rivets home the concept of sin being our real enemy that must be conquered. This is why other religions do not give eternal life because they have nothing that conquers our enemies – Satan, sin , selfishness, and death (John 14:6 and Acts 4:12).

Romans 6:

v1-11: Paul is emphasizing that once we are born-again, we no longer have to sin. Before we were reconciled to God, we were basically “programmed” to sin, i.e., a slave to sin. We are still accountable, however. That’s why I put “programmed” in quotes. It’s like being an alcoholic. While under the influence of alcohol, alcoholics will do immoral things (as would anyone). They are basically programmed to do something wrong when they allow “king alcohol” to rule them. They are, however, still responsible for their actions. Alcoholics Anonymous believes that alcoholism is a “disease” that a person can only suppress and never be free of, yet alcoholics are still responsible for their actions. In other words, once the booze gets inside, that person will automatically act out his/her “disease.” While I do not subscribe to “addict forever” or the “disease concept” of modern thought, I do see some truth in what experts of this world claim.

Paul is anticipating what critics would say about being saved by faith. That is, “Hey, I can do anything I want now!” What these critics fail to understand is that when a person realizes how much God has forgiven them and they fall in love with Jesus, that person is not of that mindset any longer. That person actually WANTS to do good now. This is not to say that they will never sin. All people have habits and strongholds within their personalities that will cause some “bumps in the road” as we walk with Jesus (James 3:2). But now, we have a power source to plug into to help stave off temptation. We do not have to sin any more! That programmed system has been destroyed by the Blood of Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:17 states: “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

I once had a Christian friend who constantly wondered where the line was for sin concerning various issues. Furthermore, he wanted to come as close to that line as he could, so he could do what he wanted to do without actually sinning! I asked him if he had fallen in love with Jesus yet. He said he hadn’t. I told him that when you love Jesus, you don’t even think about where “lines” are because you don’t walk that close to ever see them!

Regarding “sin”…Have you ever noticed how many times pop songs will express a desire to “be free”? It’s a symptom of what is wrong with mankind. The problem is the secular songwriters do not know the source of this deep, heart-felt plea. It’s sin. In these end times, have you noticed how this word is not even used in secular society unless they mock the term? They have created many substitutes such as “mistake, error in judgment, misspoke, an affair” etc. People who do not have a heart to follow the only true, righteous God, will try sinful things in an attempt to feel or be “free.” Drugs, sex, meditation on things not from God, money, power, etc. All these things do not work to tame our selfish disposition, rather they enslave us to something not healthy. Even if a Buddhist becomes so well disciplined to reach nirvana (extinction of the soul or desire), they have merely suppressed their sin nature they’ve inherited from Adam’ seed. Only God can clean us up and make us NEW, and it is from the inside out that He does His “surgery” (again – 2 Cor. 5:17).

v23: “The wages (results) of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Science is still trying to find out why we grow old and die. They have discovered how the cells work and live to some extent, and they see the potential for our bodies to live forever due to scheduled cell repair. But I say that there is something invisible working against our bodies that science will never see, and this verse nails it. This death process started the moment Adam and Eve sinned, and we have all inherited that process via the seed of the First Man. Thank God for the Second Man whose seed did not come from Adam and He passed all the difficult tests.

For an “insightful rush”….read about the “stone” in Daniel 2:34-35; 44-45. That “stone” is Jesus Christ (not coming from the sinful human race – “cut out of the mountain with out hands”) and how His Kingdom will be the only one left standing on the earth at the end of this Age. See also Isaiah 28:16. Very exciting stuff revealed in those OT Books!

Romans 7:

v1-6: Paul is using lawful marriage as an example for us to understand how we are now no longer bound by The Law. If my wife dies, then I am free to marry another because I am no longer legally bound to her. We cannot depend on obeying The Law for salvation because we are now “married” to Christ who fulfilled The Law while we could not. Because Jesus Christ lives in us, God looks at us as though we have fulfilled all that He commanded because He does not remember our sin (Hebrews 8:12) and sees Jesus in us.

It is quite extraordinary that a man such as Paul had come to the conclusion that The Law was impossible to keep therefore powerless to lead to eternal life because he was a Pharisee, educated under a famous intellectual if his day named Gamaliel (Acts 22;3). Pharisees were sticklers for The Law. Paul’s sudden change is a testimony to the reality of the risen Christ (who knocked him to the ground and spoke to him). It would take such an event to change this type of religious leader so quickly.

v7-25: The Law is not evil or wrong. Sin is the culprit that makes things wrong. it takes advantage of us because we are aware of the knowledge of good and evil ever since the fall of mankind. so we are still susceptible to give in to it. Paul sensed there were two forces inside of him: one wants to do evil and the other one wants to do good. We can take comfort in this. Even Paul admitted doing things that he knew were wrong and not just one time either! He recognized that it was still the power of sin within him and he takes that sin right to Jesus Christ in verses 24-25. Sometimes we Christians can get so down on ourselves because we know how Holy Jesus is and how unholy we are. But take courage from Paul’s words here. Furthermore, remember that King David was an adulterer and a murderer, yet God said that he was a “man after His own heart.” How can God say that about David? David humbly believed in God’s mercy and had a passionate love for God’s Word. So if we ever think that we’ve blown it with God, or that He does not love us any more because of what we do…remember He loves King David. God loves us so much and is very much looking forward to “wiping away every tear” in the after life (Revelation 7:17). The next verse which begins the next chapter should be part of chapter 7. Paul states that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:

v1: There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus! But if we read 1 John 3:4-9 it would seem like we are all in trouble. I think there is a difference in “practicing sin” and dealing with weaknesses. Practicing sin means to me that we justify it, and do not repent, and want to continue it, and never want to change. I have sinned as a Christian. So am I going to the Lake of Fire? No, I know those things were wrong and I’ve confessed them to God. Jesus’ blood covers them. I still have some struggles with sin and I realize they hold me back from what God wants for me. This gives me motivation to get better with my thoughts and behavior. Paul had the same angst about this and I take comfort in that. Remembering King David’s struggles is also comforting. Satan all to quick to condemn us, but remember, our sin was and is not against Satan, but against God. If the Son sets us free we are free indeed! (John 8:36).

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Remember this one and quote it out loud if need be when Satan tries to condemn you for your deeds or attitudes that are wrong. The Holy Spirit will convict us of sin in our life, but does it with gentleness and love, not with mean-spirited accusations. Satan is the Accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10) and hates us. It behooves us greatly to discern which voice is pointing out to us our faults. One needs to be rebuked, while the other needs to be humbly heeded leading us to repentance.

v3-8: The phrase “in the flesh” refers to a person thinking and acting carnally or in a worldly fashion, opposite of what God would have us do or be like. Galatians 5:16-24 describes this difference.

v9-16: Our bodies are dying due to our sin, but Christ is alive in us. Therefore, we will rise to eternal life with Him. While he is with us in Spirit, we will battle against sin and have victories over it, and we will then know that we are truly His children. This means that if you are saved, you will know it. Not out of arrogance, but due to the Holy Spirit bearing witness from within us. People who respond to the question, “Are you going to Heaven when you die?” by saying, “I hope so,” or , “Yes, because I am good enough,” are not born-again. Christians need to immerse themselves in this blessed assurance because no other religion or group of people can have this.

v17: “Suffering with Christ” can include many things such as physical persecution, emotional persecution, discrimination, cold shoulders, rejections, and, in extreme cases, martyrdom.

v18-25: Our sufferings cannot compare to the glory and joy await us in heaven. Once we enter eternity, our life on earth will seem very brief. Even angels are looking forward to all that God will do with us in heaven. In v23 it reveals that we believers are the beginnings of this great stuff coming our way because we are the “first fruits of the Spirit.”

Other comments: Young-earth creationists who believe the earth is only 6,000 to 10,000 years old, defend this belief by asserting that there was no death on earth until Adam and Eve sinned. So if dinosaurs died BEFORE humans came into existence, there was death before sin – a major conflict with what Scripture teaches. Old-earth creationists, who believe the earth is billions of years old, assert that “death causing sin” refers only to humans and not animals. This is not what the above verses 20-22 are saying. I think the young-earthers have a good point here. They also identify several weak assumptions that all the dating methods are based on.

Furthermore, recent research is beginning to suggest that emitting rates were much faster before the Flood and much slower after the Flood which would give the false appearance of old ages in lead, for example. Also, no evolutionists has properly explained why there is so much helium left around because, according to rates that are assumed to always be constant, all helium should be gone by now if we are millions of years old. Interesting stuff, and there is much more to this topic of “The Age of the Earth.” Many Christians think God used evolution to bring about life. But then you have a god that used death and suffering to create the species, including man. I do not want to worship that kind of god. My God did everything correct and complete the first time just like His Word plainly states. He certainly left some ability within each species to adapt and have minor changes to protect them from harsh environments, but cats always beget cats, dogs beget dogs, and humans beget humans from the beginning of creation. Adaptation is a far cry from Darwinian evolution where major changes are required over time. Furthermore, these imaginary major changes include scales changing into feathers and fins into legs. I’d like to see how those species survived when the changes were only 50% completed! Now they can’t fly, run, or swim! Survival of the fittest?! It actually takes more faith to believe in evolution than a sudden creation of separate species.

v26-27: We need the Holy Spirit to pray THROUGH us because we do not know how to pray as we should. So ask Him to help each time you pray.

v28: Anytime something bad happens to us, quote this verse back at the demons that are giving you bad feelings, and watch, over time, how true it is.

v29-30: Predestination does not take free will choice from us. It means that God saw the future and therefore knew that some fallen humans would believe His Word and be redeemed. some, like Judas, would walk away from the calling, even though Jesus said that He chose him. Because god knew the future He carried out His plan…that saved souls will be like His Son.

v31-39: “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” I LOVE this verse! Quote it when demons attack. Satan now has nothing on us because God Himself has taken care of everything. So Jesus Christ stands between us and our accuser. Guess who wins every time! And more good news – nothing can separate us from His love.

Romans 9:

v1-5: Paul, being a Jew by birth, laments over his countrymen because many of them were not believing in Jesus even though he established Jesus as being in the lineage of the Messiah and after God gave them much attention and blessings over the years.

v6-24: Paul asserts once again that being born Jewish does not mean you are a true child of God. In other words, not all Jews will gain eternal life, and if it wasn’t for His mercy, no one could be saved. regarding a seemingly harsh word on v13 – Harsh, if taken out of context. Esau had little or no spiritual assets. He did not regard his birthright (inheritance) but did regard trading it in for one measly meal. Jacob, though far from being an angel, seemed to be more spiritual and did get the birthright blessing that was supposed to go to Esau, albeit not in a very nice way. also the overall theme is that we are in no position to judge God. For example, the way I look at the Pharaoh example is that he had a hard heart to begin with and God realized he would never change. So God hardened his heart further so that MANY MORE people, both then and in the future, would hear about the One Only True God. And hear they did! And still do! The Jewish escape from the Egyptian army is still trumpeted to this very day. Now, some of the theories trying to explain the Red Sea splitting have been sad. But that’s a different issue.

v25-29: Again Paul explains that God was going to open heaven’s gate to Gentiles and Jews, but not all would be saved. In fact, v27 reiterates what the Old Testament asserted several times that only a REMNANT of Jews would be saved.

v33 translation:

Zion = Jewish Nation
Stone/Rock = Jesus
Offense = One cannot be saved by good works; no one deserves eternal life; no person is good enough.
Him = Jesus
Not Be Disappointed = Guaranteed Eternal Life.

Romans 10:

v1-4: Paul is still lamenting his Israelite brethren that still believed that to be righteous they need to follow and obey the law of God only. Also their being ignorant of the need to believe that “Christ is the end of (or fulfills) the law. ”

v6-8:  It may mean that we do not have to seek far away places or supernatural realms to get Truth/salvation because it is here among us. The Word is out now, and if we believe it and confess it before men (in public) that seals the deal (v9). We do not need to bring Jesus back in person to tell us.

v9-13: These verses are the “recipe” for personal salvation.

v14-21: Paul is pleading for believers to get the Gospel out to others even though some will reject it. He maintains that the only way to believe it is to hear it. People who share Jesus with others is a special gem in God’s eyes.

v17: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” This is why it’s essential for believers to read the Bible always and why I work on this Bible Commentary for myself and others. Our faith will wane if we skip days of reading God’s Word. I look at the situation like this: In this world, all its principles, beliefs, customs, and sin flow against walking in the Spirit of Christ. It’s like paddling a canoe upstream. As long as we keep reading God’s Word, we have the faith and motivation and power to continue in an upstream direction with our eternal reward waiting at the source of the stream. When we stop reading (paddling), however, we lose those attributes that keep us strong, and the canoe begins to flow backward as the flow of the stream (this world) begins to dominate once again. Soon old thoughts, attitudes, and habits begin to return. There is no such thing as being on a “plateau” with the Lord. Either we are going forward, or we are backsliding. I’ve seen many people since 1971 come and go with Christ. Those that never married their hearts to the Word, eventually floundered. People will disappoint us, we will be offended, churches may split, pastors may fall away, situations will not always go our way, we will be ignored at times. But if we love the Word and it is in our hearts, we will prevail. Therefore, pay strong heed to verse 17.

Romans 11:

v1-6: Paul uses the story of Elijah feeling like he was the only remaining prophet of the Lord during the reign of Ahab and Ahaziah to illustrate to the Jews that at that time God told Elijah, “I have reserved to myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal,” and that the same was true at the time of Paul, that God had a chosen remnant of believers among the Jews. God has not rejected individual Jews. The evidence is Paul himself, and like Paul other Jews will be saved until Jesus returns.

v7-11: Because many Jews would and did reject the idea of “faith rather than works” God hardened them further to use as an example of going the wrong way. This “woke up” Gentiles so many other people would find eternal life.

v12: I think this is saying that when all this history ends, there will many more obtaining eternal life (than maybe the angels had thought).

v13-15: Paul is looking forward to seeing God’s ways that will eventually mesh Jews and Gentiles together in eternal harmony.

v16-24: The “root” of the Gospel of Christ is found in the Jewish Old Testament Books, so the Jews that get saved (the remnant) are super strong in truth. The added Gentiles (“grafted in”) are there also because of God’s mercy, not because they are better than Jews. So all should remain humble because if God hardened Jews He can also harden Gentiles…so both need to walk humbly before God.

So God is faithful to His promises – but the Jew, like anyone else, must “bow the knee” to God’s plan of salvation. His OT promises were never unconditional, and the Jews broke the covenant many times throughout their history. Paul does stress the importance of being Jewish by blood in Romans 11. He seems to be saying that there will always be “Jewish blood” being saved but not all Jews will be saved. “Branches” (Jews) were definitely lopped off and “wild branches” (Gentiles) grafted in for salvation.

v25-26: This states that there was a partial hardening against Jews will last until the “fulness of the Gentiles has come in.” Then Paul says that “thus all Israel will be saved.” This is why many believe that a large number of Jews will accept Christ just before He returns. Does this mean EVERY Jew on earth will be saved at some future time? Well, that has never happened in history, so I don’t know how this could happen, especially when Paul keeps emphasizing that physical lineage does not automatically give eternal life. Romans 11:5 again emphasizes only a remnant from the Jewish lineage will be saved. But he does say “at this present time.” So will that suddenly change in the future? Time will tell. Perhaps “all Israel” in verse 26 means every Jewish person who is truly born of God (born again in Christ) will be saved, along with true believers among Gentiles. This is what makes up True Israel ( The Church). But certainly Paul is  emphasizing that heaven’s door is not closed to individual Jews since the nation’s rejection of Jesus.

v27-36: “…for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” This means that when God puts a calling on a life or gives special gifts to people for ministry, these are never canceled by God. We choose to use them or to let them waste. God allows disobedience to rule so He can show all the mercy He has. Talk is cheap, so He allowed bad things to happen so He could demonstrate His mercy in Christ. But it’s still impossible to figure everything out. Fortunately God has revealed enough Truth to us so that we can do right and live forever.

Romans 12 – Hot Coals on the Head?

v1-2: Be willing to do anything in God’s will. The way to be able to have this attitude is to not be influenced by the ways of this fallen world. The way to do this is to have our minds constantly renewed (by reading God’s Word). Then we will be able to know what His will is for us. This actually answers one of our biggest questions (often asked in frustration): “What do you want from me, God?!” In order to hear His voice consistently, we need to be devoted to Him in prayer, reading His Word, and fellowshipping with other strong believers. When we pray, we talk to God. When we read the Bible, He talks to us. In my life, I need to hear His thoughts more than mine. Our mind needs renewing because it lives in this world, and this world flows against God. How weak would our body become if we did not eat food for two weeks? How weak, then, will our spirits be if we don’t read His Word for two weeks? A renewed mind is closer to God and can hear Him speak more clearly.

v3: Do not think of yourself as better than others. We are all “parts” of one Christian body.

v4-8 – We all have our unique gifts and we are to use them to the best of our ability.  These gifts differ from those from the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. These are called the “motivational gifts.” God put these into the personalities (souls) of the members of a church, the Body of Christ (James 1:17). Sometimes people are unaware of these gifts given by the Father until after they get saved. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are listed in 1 Corinthians 12. It is always a healthy sign if you are seeking all that God has for you in this life. You will find it (Luke 11:13).

v9-13: A specific list of things to do when serving God.

v14-19: The only way we can have the power to bless those who persecute us, and all the other things listed here, is to be close to Jesus. He has that power to give us. This is a mark of a mature Christian.

v20: When it says, “heap burning coals upon his head,” it is referring to helping traveling people by giving them hot coals to start their next fire more easily and quickly rather that from scratch. It was an act of kindness back in that day. Women would carry these coals in something on top of their heads – much like African women carrying things on their heads.

v21: “Be not overcome by evil, but over come evil with good.” THIS IS THE HEARTBEAT OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER! My favorite movie theme is when good/love conquers evil/hate…I wonder why :-). This will sound silly at first, but when I was in 6th grade, as I watched the two big movie reels rewinding after the movie was over (all the younger folks are wondering what I am talking about), one reel had little film in it at the beginning while the other reel was full. I would fantasize that the “little one” was humble and the “big one” was arrogant.” As they were rewound, the reel with little film gained and soon became bigger than the other reel. I used to stare at this scene taking comfort in the fact that the little one will turn out bigger (better) than the “big shot” one. This is similar to Jesus describing the “mustard seed.” I had no idea that this pleases God so much. He takes the humble and downtrodden and exalts them far beyond the proud ones that think they are rich in this life. But most off all, He conquers all the evil via His demonstration of love on the Cross. Because of that Cross, we now have the power within us to conquer evil by doing good. An exciting way to live. Humanists and eastern religions believe that this power is already within us without the “Cross Experience,” but it is NOT. This is one of the biggest lies on earth. Narrow minded? Judgmental? Pul-leeze…any disagreement is with Jesus, not me. He didn’t go through all that suffering because He made a political mistake or because people had the ability to do the right things without Him. God’s love is so great and beautiful. It’s so sad to see people find some angle to argue against it. Logic says, why not let God be God and just receive it? (Fallen human nature hates the concept that God has the right to make the rules…ah…and there’s the problem).

Ever wonder why a loving God would create a world knowing in advance that it would fall into evil? Well, I think He did it so He could have the opportunity to love those who did not love Him. If God loves only those who love Him, it is of little value (Matt.5:46). It is also not complete. Perhaps this is what God is saying to us in 1 John 4:17 & 19.

So if someone treats you badly, allow your Heavenly Father to shine through you. If you do this, you are dwelling in the midst of the Kingdom of God and are well-pleasing to Jesus. You have found His “heart beat.”

Romans 13 – No Golf?!

v1-7: Christians are not above the law. For example, if I drive 80 mph in a 55 zone, it does not matter what type of person that police officer is that tickets me. I couldn’t say, “Hey, you beat your wife so you can’t ticket me.” The actual authority in civil matters still comes from God. I know governments give out authority, but what makes it hold together is God. When Pilate thought he had authority to kill or spare Jesus, Jesus revealed that Pilate’s authority was there only because of God giving it to him. Bottom line, God wants us to be law-abiding citizens. If we do have authority, we have to use it fairly.

Brief Current Culture Tangent – Police have authority from God, so we should respect them and not resist them. If they make a mistake, it can be worked out later. Police will not shoot at people who comply. Police are great protectors and need to be supported. If not, we have chaos and anarchy ruling…and great crime and destruction will follow. Satan LOVES that (Jesus said he is a destroyer). Any officer who acts in an unfair manner should be trained better or removed from the job.

Now when government becomes corrupt and orders us to do evil (which would be rare) then we must obey God. The Book of Acts 4:20 and 5:29 speak of this.

v9-10: Loving people satisfies many Commandments. This only lists some of the Ten. The first four Commandments relate to God. The last 6 deal with human relationships. These verses are talking only about the latter, therefore “loving thy neighbor as yourself” would cover these.

v11-14: Because time is full of transition and peril, we all need to arm ourselves spiritually, and do not go out of our way to do things that are wrong, so we can be strong in the Lord. “Make no provision for the flesh.” In other words, if I have a weakness that can easily cause me to sin, then I should not put myself in a situation where it is more likely to tempt me. If I need to lose weight, then I shouldn’t hide candy bars around my house. Drinkers stay away from bars/parties w/alcohol. Ex-smokers stay away from people who smoke, at least for a while. Don’t hang with people who practice sin. If anger easily gets out of control, don’t play golf….at least until you’ve mastered your emotions! 🙂

Romans 14:

v1-3: I’m not a vegetarian. I do not believe people need to eliminate meat from their diet. But if some Christian thinks they should, I just let them go and will not say they are wrong (as long as they are getting enough protein…sorry, it’s the health educator still clinging to me even in retirement). Actually, a good protein vegetarian diet tends to be rather healthy because they often increase roughage (bulk) and take in little fat which is great for the intestinal system, may prevent colon cancer, and reduce heart disease and stroke. But, the bottom line is that the Bible says all food is okay (Romans 14:14 & Acts 10:15 – the context is the Lord showing Peter not to consider non-Jews as hopeless pagans forever, but the Lord did use what was considered to be unclean animals to be killed and eaten in His example).

v4: I think this means “mind your own business and stop criticizing other people who work for others.”

v5-13: A good example today is the Seventh Day Adventist Church. They are Christians who believe the Old Testament Sabbath (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown) should be kept. How the Jewish Sabbath was changed to a “Christian Sabbath” has been debated. Some say the early Christians changed it to Sunday morning because that is when Jesus rose from the dead and it is the first day of the week, so they celebrated the resurrection on Sunday morning and called it “The Lord’s Day.”  Others claim that Pope Gregory did it. Others say Constantine. Still others claim it was Pope Sylvester I (314-335 A.D.). Now, most people today desire to do right and honor the Lord with this issue. So I think the Lord is saying in these verses good to all because their hearts want to do what is good, as long as does not lead to legalism. Legalism is what ensnared the Pharisees. They valued outward obedience to religious laws (and some were man-made) rather than issues of the heart, i.e., loving God with all we have and loving others as ourselves.

So do not judge other believers and remember that we all are individually accountable to God. And the way we judge others God will tend to judge us similarly. This fact alone should motivate us to cool it when it comes to thinking ill of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Furthermore, we NEVER know all the facts about situations for other people. God does. Let Him deal with things on His time schedule. That’s not to say we should never OCCASIONALLY take a friend aside and gently correct something that may be wrong, but we need to do this in the proper spirit, realizing that we all stumble in many ways (James 3:2).

Finally, don’t do anything that does not help build up another believer or cause them to stumble. Respect their individual beliefs if they think that it is an acceptable way to praise God. I do not think that this is saying that we have to accept how others praise God if it does not seem right to us.

v14-23: God is slaying the critical spirit here. Also, we should not flaunt our belief such as the Sabbath Day in front of someone who believes differently. Drinking wine is mentioned in v21. Some Christians believe wine in moderation is fine, while others think it is wrong. Well, then the former should not drink their wine in the presence of the latter for their consciences sake. Our whole approach is to consider God and others first and ourselves last.

Romans 15:

v1-3: Those who are strong need to help those that are not because it is the right thing to do.

v4: The Old Testament can help us have faith.

v5-6: The phrase “of the same mind” refers to our world view. All cultural topics/issues/controversies need to be handled by Christians coming from the same world view. Key elements in this view are: man is a fallen race (Genesis is literal true history), the Bible is from God, sin brings death and a curse, sin is our enemy, God intervened for us because we can’t resolve our sin problem ourselves, all meaning for life stems from Jesus Christ, there is life after death making our decisions and actions in this life extremely important. This view opposes almost all other “isms.” Those “isms” are man-made. Even something like “deism,” which recognizes the existence of some kind of supreme being, is in error because this denies the Bible being the Word of God, denies that Jesus Christ is above all authority, and denies that this being intervenes in human history. Several of our nation’s founding fathers were deists, or, at least they had strong deist tendencies.

v7-12: We all need to accept one another, especially Jews and Gentiles because both fulfill God’s promises.

v14: What does “admonish one another” mean? The word “admonish” means to warn or reprimand firmly. Here we need to be careful because few people are good at this. My advice: 1) pray for the person first, 2) love the the person, 3) don’t give the person the idea that we think we are better than they, 4) ask God if it His will that you should be the one to confront, 5) try to understand why they are doing something wrong

v15-33: Paul closes with reminders, his agenda, his hopes, relying on supernatural things to give his ministry credibility, and asks for prayer and protection.

Romans 16 – This contains Paul’s greeting list to many friends mentioned by name. He did, however, include an exhortation to be wary of people who cause divisions and hindrances by wrong teachings. He further describes these people as having selfish appetites who employ smooth and flattering speech to deceive unsuspecting people. He then proclaims that God will soon crush Satan under their feet. He closes by saying that the Truth about salvation through Jesus had been a mystery for ages but now has been revealed to the nations.

How to recognize one who divides – big ego who loves own ideas rather than God’s precepts.

Application for Today: When Jesus ascended to Heaven following His resurrection, He sat down at the right hand of God which, I believe, began His rule over the earth. “Right hand” always signifies power. Mark 16:19 says, “….He was received up into Heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.” In Psalms 110:1 it says, “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, until I make thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet. The Lord will stretch forth Thy strong scepter from Zion, saying, ‘Rule in the midst of Thine enemies.’ The people will volunteer freely in the day of Thy power….” I strongly maintain that these verses are referring to this Church Age. Yes, Jesus is ruling from Heaven and there are enemies still lurking about on earth. “Zion” in that verse can easily represent “The Church” (true believers all over the world) as millions of Christians in NT times have volunteered to do many exploits for Jesus’ sake. These volunteers flowed out of the world-wide church that started in Jerusalem. At present, there is a nation within the nations, and it is this nation (the kingdom of God) that will be the only one standing forever (Daniel 2:44). All others will crumble because they were formed by man and/or lust for power. God’s Nation is based upon One who willingly gave up all His power (Matthew 26:53). In Matthew 13:31-32, the “mustard seed” (Jesus buried) has become the biggest of all plants (kingdoms). Acts 2:17 reveals that the Coming of the Messiah marked the beginning of “the last days” or “End times.” The Old Testament talked about this era several times in different Books. This present time between Messianic comings is this “Church Age.” I believe that this is when Jesus starts putting His enemies under His feet (Romans 16:20). The degree to which God has spread His Truth throughout the world had never been done on such a vast scale as this! The spread of Christianity exploded on the planet like no other religion in history, and it is still permeating all over.

What does this all mean for us today? We can conquer much “territory” by destroying satanic strongholds through the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. Every believer has been given some sphere of influence. Some may have large spheres while others small. What matters is that we flow in the Spirit through whatever sphere God has given us. We can either choose to utilize His power or not. Thus, our time is an exciting age in which to dwell. We have so much to live for and so much power into which we can tap as long as we remain humble and submitted to Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to correct and guide us. Let us take full advantage of what the Lord has given us. Just as the Gospel eventually prevailed over the Roman Empire, formed our nation, and helped many other nations when they were in trouble, so other domains will be yet conquered by our ruling Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through people who truly follow and obey His Voice.