Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Romans Chapter 3 - Study Notes

Chapter Three

  1. Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?

This is the logical question of any Jewish listener at this point. If possessing the Law and
circumcision doesn't protect them from God's wrath and judgment, then what good is it?

  1. Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.

Objection #1: Paul's teaching undermines God's covenant. Paul lists one advantage
here that he seemed to consider the greatest. They had the oracles, God's Word. This agrees
with what Moses and the prophets had said. (Deuteronomy 4:8; Psalm 147:19-20)
(He continues this list in 9:4-5: They have the adoption! The glory! The promises! The
worship!) (Look at what Moses tells them in Deuteronomy 4:7.)

So who could look at these things and count them as worthless? Only an unregenerate Jew.
What is God's Word, glory, and worship to them? All they want is their ticket to heaven
punched and they will be happy.

  1. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?

Objection #2: Paul's teaching nullifies (invalidates) God's faithfulness. Literally:
“If some to whom God's promises were entrusted did not respond to them in trust, will
their lack of trust destroy God's trustworthiness?” -Stott-
If God's people are unfaithful, does that necessarily mean that He is?

  1. By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”

“So far is it from the truth that human unfaithfulness undermines God's faithfulness, that even
if every single human being were a liar, God would still be true, because He remains invariably
(always) Himself and true to Himself.” -Stott-

Even if every Jew were unfaithful to the Covenant, God would still be faithful.

“God is equally faithful when He judges His people's sins and when He fulfills His promises.”
-Moo- (Psalm 51:4)

  1. But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)
  2. By no means! For then how could God judge the world?

Objection #3: Paul's teaching brings into question (impugns) God's justice.
“The more sinful we are, the more glorious the Gospel seems.”
“Our unrighteousness benefits God, because it displays His character all the more brightly.”
“Would it not be unfair of Him to punish them for something which is to His advantage?”
“If He were really unjust, how could God judge the world?” -Stott-

Paul knows that for the Jews it is a universal truth that God is both the supreme judge of the
earth and, as Abraham said, “the Judge of all the earth will do right.” (Genesis 18:25)

  1. But if through my lie God's truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner?
  2. And why not do evil that good may come? - as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.
Objection #4: Paul's teaching falsely promotes God's glory.

First, why am I still condemned as a sinner if my sin is to God's advantage? How can God
condemn me for glorifying Him?

This time Paul does not answer the questions raised. They are self-evidently perverse. It is
enough to say of these objectors, “Their condemnation is just.”

  1. No good results can justify the encouragement of evil.
  2. Evil never promotes the glory of God.

Similarity of this verse and 6:1: 6:1 is the question of a Christian in light of the abundance of
God's grace; the objection here is posed by a Jew questioning whether his actions really have
any meaning in light of Paul's assertion that even sin leads to God's glory.

The Whole Human Race Guilty

  1. What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,

“What then?” - What shall we conclude? Paul is summing up his argument: His case against
mankind. What is his conclusion? All are under sin! We are all guilty, and his about to
demonstrate this fact by quoting passage after passage from the Old Testament. But first we
must deal with two issues in this verse:

  1. All under sin – Paul appears here to personify sin as a cruel tyrant who holds the human race imprisoned in guilt and under judgment. The problem with people is not that they just commit sins, but they are enslaved to sin. (John 8:34; Romans 6:16-20; Titus 3:3; 2 Peter 2:19) What is needed is a new power to break in and free us from sin.
  2. In verse 1 Paul asks a similar question as here, “What advantage has the Jew?” The first time he that question he claims that there is an advantage to being a Jew, but now he says, “Not at all!” Is Paul so quickly contradicting himself? In verse 1 he is speaking of the Jews privilege and responsibility because of the revelation that God has entrusted to them, but here he is speaking of there being no favoritism for the Jew with God. Besides the already stated fact that the Jew is first in salvation and in judgment; God will not exempt the Jew from His judgment.

  1. As it is written:
Paul is now going to back up his claim of the universality of the sin of mankind by citing
numerous Old Testament passages: five from the Psalms and one from Isaiah. Most of the
quotations are especially against the wicked and unrighteous of Israel but can equally be
applied to Gentiles alike. The purpose of citing mainly texts against the Jews is to back up
his argument from 2:1 – 3:8 that even faithful Jews cannot claim righteousness.

“None is righteous, no, not one;
  1. no one understands; no one seeks for God.
  2. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

(Psalm 14:1-3)

Notice first the universal nature of these first accusations: none, no one, all, together, not even
one. Paul is using these passages to hammer home the extent of sin's power over mankind. It
is total!

The essence of sin is godlessness. “Sin is the revolt of the self against God, the dethroning of
God, with a view to the enthroning of our self. Ultimately, sin is self-deification, the reckless
determination to occupy the throne which belongs to God.” -Stott-

    13. “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is
      under their lips.”
14. “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”

(Psalm 5:9; 140:3; 10:7)

The focus on the universality of sin among men is now changed to a focus on the extent of the
effect of sin upon each man. The whole body is infected.

15. “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16. in their paths are ruin and misery,
17. and the way of peace they have not known.”
18. “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

(Isaiah 59:7-8; Psalm 36:1)

“These bodily limbs and organs were created and given us so that through them we might serve
people and glorify God. Instead, they are used to harm people and in rebellion against God.”

19. Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.
Who is under the Law? (Psalm 147:18-20) No one is arguing that the Gentile world is subject to God's wrath, but
Paul is specifically targeting the Jews and their reliance on their covenantal privileges.

“every mouth may be stopped” - “brings up the image of a defendant who has no more to say
in response to the charges brought against them.” -Moo-
Without making themselves more accountable or incriminating the further.

“whole world” - if even the Jew, who has the Law, is unable to satisfy the demands of the Law,
but is found guilty by that Law, then by works righteousness none can be saved and all are
accountable before God.

But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ
might be given to those who believe.” Galatians 3:22

It is the whole Old Testament (Scripture) that condemns Israel. The law, here mentioned by
Paul, is really a synonym for Scripture.

This is so that every mouth may be stopped and all be brought accountable to God, so that
what was promised (righteousness apart from the Law) might be given. As long as we continue
to proclaim and hope in our own righteousness we will never see the need for Christ's

20. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the
law comes knowledge of sin.

“Nothing a person does, no good deed, whatever the object or whatever the motivation, can
bring them into favor with God.” -Moo-
“The purpose of the Law is to make men not better but worse; that is, it shows them their sin,
that by the knowledge of it they may be humbled, terrified, bruised, and broken, and by this
means may be driven to seek grace, and so come to Christ.” -Luther-

Justification and Righteousness of God


Paul is now prepared to explain how the righteousness of God empowers the Gospel to
mediate (intervene and bring) salvation to sinful human beings. This comes after he has
spent considerable time demonstrating the need for this righteousness.

1St – Paul states again the revelation of God righteousness (1:17) and relates it to the
Old Testament. (21)
2Nd – He focuses on the way in which all human beings, who are equal in their sin,
have equal access to God's righteousness through faith. (22-23)
3Rd – He shows that the source of God's righteousness is in the gracious provision of Christ
as an atoning sacrifice. (24-25a)
4th – Paul demonstrates how the atonement not only provides for the justification of sinners but
also defends the “just-ness” of God throughout the process. (25b-26)

    21. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it -

“But now” - Paul is shifting his focus. He has just concluded that all mankind (Jew and
Gentile) are under the dominion of sin. “But now” he is going to reveal God's remedy for
the situation. His rescue plan. A plan that enables Him to both justify sinners and remain
just Himself. Not only justifying all those who believe after the cross but before it also.

“righteousness of God” - the justifying activity of God. In 1:17 Paul said that this
“righteousness” is constantly revealed in the preaching of the Gospel; here he simply declares
it has been made known or manifested (referring to the cross and its consequences).

“apart from the law” - This righteousness has been “manifested apart from the law”. This
is not comparing a righteousness by the law/ apart from the law but instead announcing
the way in which it has been made known. The law was not given to produce righteousness
but to reveal sin. (Romans 3:20; 5:20; Galatians 3:19-25) Justification has always been by
faith, apart from the law.

“Law and the Prophets bear witness” - This was not an afterthought. God has been preparing
this forever.

    22. the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:

“God's righteousness is available only through faith in Christ – but it is available to anyone
who has faith in Christ.” -Moo-
“there is no distinction” - in judgment or salvation!

Why is this righteousness available to all and why do all need it?

23. for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Paul has just spent the last 64 verses proving that point and backing it up with Scriptures.
All have sinned and are under its power!

“and fall short of the glory of God” - Because all have sinned, all are falling short of God's
glory. All people (because of our sinfulness) fail to exhibit that “being-like-God” for
which we were created.

24. and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Justification: legal term; means to be acquitted (cleared) by God from all charges that
could be brought against a person because of his or her sins. This is not merely forgiveness.
Pardon or forgiveness is the remission or lifting of punishment. Justification is a declaration
that no ground for the infliction of punishment exists.
Where does this justification come from? God and His grace. The saving initiative, from
beginning to end belongs to God the Father. We could not take the initiative. We were sinful,
guilty, condemned, and helpless. (Ephesians 2:1-10)

The initiative cannot be credited to Jesus, as if He did something which the Father was
reluctant of unwilling to do. Christ came voluntarily and gave Himself freely but in
submissive response to the Father's initiative. (Hebrews 10:7)

And it was gracious: it was His absolutely free and utterly undeserved favour. God's
justification is totally unmerited.

Redemption: commercial term; used of slaves who were purchased in order to be set free.
Jesus Christ redeemed us, bought us out of captivity, shedding His blood as the ransom price.
(Mark 10:45; John 10:15; Acts 20:28; Hebrews 9:12; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 5:9)
It means liberation through payment of a price. Christ's death is a ransom, a payment that
takes the place of that penalty for sins owed by all people to God.

“in Christ Jesus” - This redemption is available only in Jesus and faith in Him and what He
has accomplished for us on the cross.

25. whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

Propitiation: means to placate someone's anger. Paul is describing God's solution to man's
predicament, which is not only sin but God's wrath upon sin. (1:18) Where there is divine
wrath, there is the need to avert it.

“God's own great love propitiated His own holy wrath through the gift of His own dear Son,
who took our place, bore our sin, and died our death. God Himself gave Himself to save us
from Himself.” -Stott-

Consider this comparison between Christian propitiation and pagan propitiation:

Need- Christian: God's holy wrath is against evil
Pagan: gods are bad tempered, moody

Author- Christian: God in His undeserved love has done for us what we could never do
(Colossians 2:16-17; Hebrews 10:1-4; 11-14)
Pagan: we have offended the gods, so we must appease them

Nature- Christian: God gave His own Son to die in our place and in doing so gave Himself
Pagan: bribe the gods with sweets, vegetable, animals, money, etc.

“through faith” - The means by which we appropriate (receive) the benefits of Christ's
“in his blood” - The means by which God's wrath is propitiated. (Ephesians 2:13;
Colossians 1:20) Christ's blood is the means through which salvation is secured.

“to show God's righteousness” - “The cross was a demonstration as well as an acheivement. It not only accomplished the propitiation of God and the redemption of sinners; it also
vindicated the justice of God.” -Stott-

“passed over former sins” - “This does not mean that God failed to punish or overlooked sins
committed before Christ; nor does it mean that God did not really forgive sins under the Old
Covenant, but God postponed the full penalty due sins in the Old Covenant, allowing sinners
to stand before Him without having provided an adequate satisfaction of the demands of His
holy justice.” -Moo-

26. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

“God left unpunished the sins of former generations, letting nations go their own way
(Acts 14:16), and overlooking their ignorance (Acts 17:30), not because of any injustice on
His part, or with any thought of condoning evil, but in His forbearance (2:4) and only because
it was His fixed intention in the fulness of time to punish these sins in the death of His Son.”

“Through the sin-bearing, substitutionary death of His Son, God has propitiated His own wrath
in such a way as to redeem and justify us, and at the same time demonstrate His justice.” -Stott-

Luther called this, “the chief point of the whole Bible.” He said, “if that article (3:21-26)
stands, the Church stands; if it falls, the Church falls.”

By Faith Alone (Sola Fide)

Initial Statement:

27. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.

Just as in 3:1-8, Paul asks and answers three questions he anticipated from his Jewish listeners
related to his indictment of all mankind, including the Jews; Paul now asks and answers a
fresh set of objections relating not to judgment but justification and that by faith alone.

Question #1: Where then is boasting?
Paul is thinking particularly of Jews here and their boasting, though, all mankind are inveterate
boasters. (1:30) “Boasting is the language of our fallen self-centeredness.” -Stott-
Paul's reason for excluding boasting has to do with a contrast between faith and works – two
kinds of human response to God.
The boasting here is not in their covenant relationship with God (though there was certainly
plenty of that). Paul had already dealt with that issue in 3:1-20. The boasting here has to do
with their pride in their accomplishments in their obedience to the Law (works of the law).
It is the idea that by obedience to the Law they could make some kind of claim on God that
Paul rejects. There is nothing wrong with doing the Law. Indeed, we would not say that not
murdering, stealing, adultery, and dishonoring God was a bad thing, but when you are making
those things the basis of your relationship with God; your right standing with God; this is
wrong! Justification can only come by faith: not only now that Christ has come, but in the past

What is the law of faith?

28. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

There is nothing meritorious about faith. When we say that justification is by faith, or as
Paul terms it here, “the law of faith” we are not substituting one kind of merit (faith) for
another (works). Salvation is not a cooperative exercise between us and God, where He
contributes the cross and we contribute faith. No! The value of faith is not to be found in
itself but entirely and exclusively in its object, namely, Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
“All boasting is excluded except boasting in Christ.” -Stott- (Ephesians 2:8-9)

So what is the law of faith? A person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.
“No works, whatever their nature or their motivation, can play any part in making a sinner
right with God.” -Moo-

29. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also,
30. since God is one – who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

Question #2: Is God the God of the Jews only?
If justification is by works of the law, then only those “in the law” can be justified, and God
becomes the God of the Jews only.
“Paul takes one of the most basic of Jewish beliefs, monotheism, and turns it against Judaism.
The “oneness” of God.” -Moo-
“The LORD our God is one LORD.” Deuteronomy 6:4
“In the Old Testament the Law was not a means of salvation, but it served to “mark out” the
people of God; and for the Jews it became a great wall or impenetrable barrier between them
and the Gentiles. But for Paul monotheism, as seen in Christ, means that there can be no
such barrier; all must have equal access to God, and this can be guaranteed only if faith, not
works in obedience to the Jewish law, is made the requirement.” -Moo-
(Ephesians 2:11-16)

31. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Question #3: Do we, then, nullify the Law by this faith?
Paul's answer is, “By no means! We uphold the law.” But in what sense is the Law upheld?
And why would they consider Paul to be undermining the Law in the first place?

“Paul's emphasis on “faith alone” to the exclusion of “works of the law” in justification seemed to somehow make the Law appear to be of no use. But rather, Paul says that it is our faith in Christ and what He has accomplished for us on the cross that has provided, for the first time, the complete fulfillment of God's demands in His Law.” -Moo-

“Faith upholds the law by giving to it its proper place in God's purpose. The function of the
law is to expose and condemn sin, and so to keep sinners locked up in their guilt until Christ
comes to liberate them through faith. The Gospel justifies those whom the law condemns.”
-Stott- (Romans 8:3-4; Galatians 3:10-14; 19-25)


The doctrine of justification by faith alone: 1. humbles sinners and excludes boasting (27-28)
2. it unites believers and excludes discrimination (29-30) 3. it upholds the Law and excludes

antinomianism or licentiousness (31)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Romans Chapter Two - Study Notes

  1. Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.

“Therefore” - relates to the wrath of God revealed and the knowledge of God (1:18-19)

“you have no excuse” - who? “everyone of you who judges” - why? “For in passing judgment
on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.”
What same things? (1:29-31)

  1. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things.

Who is guilty of these things? Both Jews and Gentiles.

“rightly” - Paul is stating something that no Jew could deny: God's judgment against sin is
both true and just.

  1. Do you suppose, O man – you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself – that you will escape the judgment of God?

“Do you suppose” - Have you thought this through logically?

“and yet do them yourself” - He is keeping them pinned down!

“that you will escape the judgment of God?” - He is appealing to their consciences. They know that they are guilty as well, and he is also appealing to their intellect:
  1. God's judgment falls on those who do “these things”.
  2. We, who are standing in judgment over the Gentiles, do “these things”.
  3. Therefore, even we, the self-righteous judges, stand under God's judgment.
  1. Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
“presume on” - show contempt for, Paul is showing that if you think that you can sin and yet avoid judgment that you are, in fact, showing contempt for God's mercy.

“goodness” - as opposed to His severity

“forbearance and patience” - God's goodness in withholding judgment

“being ignorant … lead you to repentance” - This patient goodness of God was not meant to
make them feel secure in their sin but stimulate repentance.

  1. But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.
“But” - Since you refuse to recognize God's goodness in delaying your destruction and repent

“because of your hard and impenitent heart” - They know they have sinned against God, but
they have not repented but rather have presumed upon God's grace based upon their “favored”
position as God's people.

“you are storing up...” - For every time they presume on God's kindness and continue in their
rebellion to Him, they are storing up for themselves wrath and judgment. There is a coming
day of final judgment and a pouring out of the wrath of God from which there will be no

  1. He will render to each one according to his works:
“Although justification is indeed by faith, judgment will be according to works.” -Stott-
(Matthew 16:27; 2 Corinthians 11:15)

  1. to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;
“well-doing” - what we do; our works

“glory and honor and immortality” - what we seek; our goal

“eternal life” - where we are going; our end

Persistence in good works (Mark 13:13; 2 Timothy 2:12) is made possible by God's
preservation. (Philippians 2:12-13; Hebrews 13:20-21; Jude 24)

  1. but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will wrath and fury.

What they do: disobey truth; obey unrighteousness
What they seek: their own glory, honor, and immortality
What is their end: wrath and fury

  1. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,
  2. but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.

There are only two destinies: 1. tribulation and distress 2. glory, honor, and peace (restored
relationship with God)

“the Jew first...” - The Jew has priority both in salvation (1:16) and in judgment.
  1. For God shows no partiality.

Note the chiastic structure of verses 6-11:
A – Vs. 6) The impartial judgment of God
  B – Vs. 7) Those who do good will receive good
    C – Vs. 8) Those who do evil will receive evil
    C – Vs. 9) Those who do evil will receive evil
  B – Vs. 10) Those who do good will receive good
A – Vs. 11) God is impartial in His judgment

A chiastic structure (or a chiasm (kee-az-um)) is a repetition of similar ideas in the reverse
sequence. It is a literary device used commonly by ancient authors to emphasize the point
that is being made. Similar to bold print or underlining or italics, the chiastic structure
highlights the main truth of the structure. There are many of examples of this device both in
the Old and New Testament scriptures. (Two specific examples are: Joshua 1:5-9 and Matthew

The truth that is being emphasized (highlighted) in verses 6-11 is that God is an impartial judge. This is the main point of this whole section. Not justification by works, but that God does not show favoritism in salvation or judgment. The Jew and Greek both stand equally before God.

This, among many reasons, is why we must be careful not to rip a text in Scripture from it's
context and use it to say something that the author (the Holy Spirit) never intended, even if what you are trying to say is true. It would be easy to take a verse from this structure and use it to demonstrate that Paul is teaching that justification is based upon our works, even though, he clearly says otherwise on either side of this section.
It is so very important that (as much as we are able) we come to the Scripture with pure hearts, not with our own ideas and traditions, and let the author (inspired by the Holy Spirit) say what he is trying to say. We should not merely search for verses that say what we want them to without reading the surrounding texts and interpreting that specific verse in light of the context.
  1. For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.
    For” - since God is an impartial judge
    law” - law of Moses
“all who have sinned without the law” - Gentiles

    To this the Jewish audience would say, “Amen!”. In their thought there was no salvation
    outside the law. But...
“all who have sinned under the law...” - The Jews too will be judged according to their know-
ledge. The Gentiles will not be judged by a standard they have not known. They will perish
because of their sin, not because of their ignorance of the law. Likewise, the Jew will be
judged by the standard they have known. God will be absolutely even-handed in judgment.

  1. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

Paul is writing here about judgment not salvation. No human being, except Christ, has ever
fully obeyed the law. His point is that merely possessing the law did not give the Jew
immunity to judgment. What was needed was obedience and that they didn't possess.

  1. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.

“who do not have the law” - In verse 12 Paul refers to the Gentiles as those who lived without
the law. Here he explains what he means by that phrase. They are not “without law” or “lawless”.

“By nature do what the law requires” - Gentiles have some knowledge of God's moral demands
upon them. Not all Gentiles are crooks, murderers, and adulterers and thieves. Some do obey
the authorities and practice honesty and love their families.

“they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law” - They show, by this,
knowledge of divine moral standards. This also shows that, contrary to what the Jews think,
they don't have a decisive advantage when it comes to knowing and doing the will of God.

  1. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them

Gentiles, apart from the law, have some knowledge of what God requires. Namely, they should
love God and love their neighbor as themselves, but they have already proven themselves
unable of keeping those “by their ungodliness and unrighteousness” (1:18)

“while their conscience also bears witness” - bearing witness both to themselves and will also
be a witness (mainly against them) in the final judgment

“conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them” - Their conscience is there constantly
accusing them when they do wrong, but sometimes (even), it excuses them.

  1. on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus

To review Chapter Two so far:
(1-4) – We cannot escape God's judgment.
(5-11) – It will be a righteous judgment, according to our works and ambitions.
(12-15) – It will be an impartial judgment as between Jews and Gentiles.

There are three facts concerning this judgment that we can obtain from verse 16:
  1. God will judge men's secrets. God knows our hearts. There will be no miscarriage of justice because all of the facts will be known.
  2. It will take place “by Jesus Christ”. John 5:22, 27; Acts 10:42; 17:31
  3. It is part of the Gospel. We cheapen the gospel if we represent it as a deliverance only from unhappiness, fear, guilt, etc., instead of as a rescue from the coming wrath. (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:9)” -Stott

The Law

“Paul's main point in 2:1-16 is that because Jews will be assessed by God in the judgment on
the same basis as Gentiles (works), they cannot assume, any more than Gentiles, that they
will escape God's wrath.” -Moo-

Paul is, however, well aware that his argument ignores a crucial matter: the Jew's claim to
possess a status, by virtue of the covenant, that puts them in a position entirely different from
the Gentiles. In verses 17-29 Paul takes up this matter.

Without dismissing the Jew's claim entirely (3:1-2), Paul insists that their privileges do not
exempt them from God's judgment. Paul takes up those two things that, more than any others,
pointed to the Jews' special status: the Law (17-24) and circumcision (25-29).

His point in this section is not to demonstrate that Jews commit sins (no Jew could deny that)
but that these sins, despite possession of the Law and circumcision, make Jews just as liable
to God's judgment as Gentiles.

“Whereas Jews tended to rely on their election and works of the Law, Paul insists that it is
faith -only and always- that is the basis for a righteous standing with God. Therefore, the
“signs” of election – Law and circumcision – are of no value without this faith” -Moo-
  1. But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God
“Now if you call yourself a Jew” - “To be a Jew suggests the special status enjoyed by the
people of Israel in distinction to all other peoples. It refers to the religious status shared by
anyone who belonged to the covenant people.” -Moo-

“and take pride in the law” - “Possession of the law was certainly a genuine blessing. But
the problem came because the Jews 'rely on the law'.” -Moo- Jews thought that their reliance
on the Law would exempt them from judgment.

“and boast in God” - The Jews' “boasting in God” is not wrong in itself (Jeremiah 9:23-24;
2 Corinthians10:17) unless it is a sense of human pride and arrogance. Again, presuming on
God's goodness. (2:4) (Micah 3:9-11)

  1. and know His will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law;

Compare this with the Gentiles in Chapter 1. Through the revelation of God, given in creation,
the Gentiles, Paul says, could know God's eternal power and His divine nature, but the Jews can
know God's will and have greater knowledge concerning right and wrong. Why? They have
the Law.

  1. and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,
  2. an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth -

Paul is repeating the Jews' own boasts of their importance in the world. This sense of mission
was rooted in the Old Testament, but they had fallen far short of this responsibility. (Isaiah
42:6-7; 49:6) Again Paul mentions the Jews supreme advantage over the Gentiles when it
comes to revelation, possession of the Law!

Love uses truth to teach others; but sin uses truth to exalt self.” -Piper-

  1. you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal?

In verses 17-18 Paul declares that the Jews possess the light (Law) and in 19-20 he reminds
them of their duty to shine that light. Now Paul is exposing their hypocrisy and how they have
used their advantage of possessing the law, not as a means of repentance but instead as a cover
for their sinfulness.

  1. You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?

The charges of theft and adultery are pretty straightforward, but what is this about robbing
temples? Some Jews were guilty of robbing pagan temples, that were unattended, of their
wealth, because they knew that the idols had no use for the goods that were being sacrificed
to them. But certainly the majority of the Jewish listeners could object, “We have never stolen
or committed adultery or robbed temples!”. It is possible that Paul is viewing each of these
sins in light of the deepening of the Law taught by Jesus. (Matthew 5:21-48)
Or “it may be that it is Paul's intention here to cite those breaches of the Law as examples of the contrast between word and works, possession of the Law and obedience to it.” -Moo-

“These are illustrations of all that the Law demands, 'Do you keep the whole Law? Are you without sin? Does your sin, even if different from these, put you in need of a Savior? Are you not under the power of sin, even though you have the Law and teach others?'” -Piper-

But consider this last interpretation of the verses from John Piper:
“I think Paul could say, 'Yes, you really do steal and commit adultery and rob temples. 'How
so?', you ask. Because you do not what the Law most essentially demands, namely, faith. Faith
in God for His gracious gift of forgiveness and a right standing with Him, and the enablement
to obey His commandments. But instead, you use the Law to establish your own righteousness
and thus rob God of the most basic thing He demands from you, humble trust in Him for His
mercy. And what is this but adultery as you give your heart and trust – that belong only to
God – to another? And what is this spiritual adultery except the taking of the very idols of the
world and making them your own – as if to rob their temples because God Himself is not good
enough for you. And do not the nations then blaspheme God, if you take their values, but call
yourselves the people of God?'” -Piper- (James 4:1-4) robbing temples – Deuteronomy 7:25-
26; Acts 19:35-37

  1. You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.

“It is not boasting in the Law that brings honor to God but obedience to it.” -Moo-

  1. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

Paul uses an Old Testament quote (Isaiah 52:5) to confirm the conclusion he has drawn in verse

Israel was created (and so were we all) to glorify God! (Isaiah 43:1-7) Instead, they were
bringing shame to His name. We Gentiles also have failed to live up to the revelation that
we have been given. (1:21) Altogether, (and this is where Paul is heading) we have become
unprofitable to God (3:12) worthless, broken, falling short of His glory. (3:23)


  1. For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.

Having taken away their hope of merely possessing the Law as a basis of right standing
before God, Paul now comes after the other thing that separates them from the Gentiles,

To become uncircumcised means to become like a Gentile and give up any defense that
one's membership in the people of God might provide on the day of judgment.
Paul, like the Old Testament prophets before him, is warning the Jews that their disobedience
to the Covenant obligations, namely obedience, voided any security they hoped to find from
divine judgment. (Jeremiah 7:3-11; 21-24)

  1. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?

“Paul is again here citing God's standard of judgment apart from the Gospel as a means of
erasing the distinction at this point between Jews and Gentiles. Paul is not pointing the way
to salvation but is showing Jews that their position, despite their covenant privileges, is
essentially no different from that of the Gentiles: disobedience brings condemnation; obedience
brings salvation.” -Moo-

  1. Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law.

Their obedience to the Law itself will stand as accusatory evidence against the disobedient
Jews. (Matthew 12:41-42)

  1. For no one is Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical.
  2. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

“Circumcision minus obedience equals uncircumcision, while uncircumcision plus obedience
equals circumcision.” -Stott-

“The ultimate sign of membership of the Covenant of God is neither circumcision nor
possession of the Law but the obedience which both circumcision and the Law demand.
Their circumcision did not succeed in making them what their disobedience proved they
were not. This is not salvation by obedience, but obedience as the evidence of salvation.
In the end, the Jews are just as much exposed to the judgment of God as Gentiles.” -Stott-

Circumcise your heart! (Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 9:25-26)

Introduction to Romans

The Letter of Paul to the Romans
The Gospel According to Paul

Who: Paul or Tertius (Tertius was Paul's amanuensis (Romans 16:22))

What: A letter, a treatise of Paul's gospel to the Church at Rome.

When: Approximately A.D. 57, toward the end of Paul's 3rd missionary journey.

Where: Cenchrea, a town near the city of Corinth in Greece.

Why: There are various reasons, that can be gathered from the text, for why Paul wrote this letter to the church at Rome:
  1. To obtain help for his plans to go to Spain. (Romans 15:24)
  2. To collect funds for the Christians in Jerusalem. (Romans 15:30-33)
  3. To address the situation in the church at Rome:
    Claudius had “expelled the Jews from Rome because they were constantly rioting at the instigation of Chrestus” -Suetonius
This occurred in approximately A.D. 49 and is mentioned in Acts 18:1-2. After Claudius' death they were able to return about A.D. 54 (Romans 16:3). This expulsion of the Jews (ie. Jewish Christians) left the church in Rome largely in the hands of the Gentile Christians in Rome. The God fearers and proselytes now, no doubt, out numbered the Jewish Christians upon their return. They were not keeping the Sabbath nor enforcing circumcision upon new converts. This, of course, led to problems among the Jewish believers who held dearly to these customs. In writing this letter he hopes to lay a foundation for unity in the body of Christ at Rome between the Jews and Gentiles through the Gospel.
    1. The Gospel: The continuity of God's plan of salvation, the sin and need of human beings, God's provision for our sin problem in Christ, the means to a life of holiness, and security in the face of suffering and death.

Romans is God's Word to us and in reading it we seek to discover the message that God
has for us in it.

“Every Christian should know it by word and heart and read it often. The more it is read and studied the better it becomes.” Martin Luther

The Letter to the Romans is traditionally broken down into three distinct sections:
Chapters 1 – 8 – Justification by faith and its consequences
Chapters 9 – 11 – Rejection of the Jews and the inclusion of the Gentiles

Chapters 12 – 16 – Practical applications of the Gospel

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Romans Chapter One - Study Notes

  1. Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
    Paul introduces himself with three designations that respectively identify: His Master- slave of Jesus, his office- Apostle (11:13; Gal. 1:1), and his purpose- set apart for the Gospel (Aphorizo - literally Pharisee for the Gospel) “Gospel”- God's intervention in Christ
    Paul is claiming that his life is totally dedicated to God's act of salvation in Christ.” -Moo-
  1. which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
Paul is showing the connection between what God has promised in the past and declared
through the prophets to what He is now doing through Christ.

  1. concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh

“concerning his Son” - What or Who is the Gospel about? God's Son, Jesus!
“descended from David” - Here we see the humanity of Christ displayed and His qualifications for messiah-ship, His relation to David.

“God's Son” - messianic title Psalm 2:7

  1. and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,

“Declared” - Appointed (by virtue of His resurrection)
The pre-existent Son, who entered into human experience as the promised Messiah, was appointed on the basis of the resurrection to a new (and more powerful) position in relation to the world. (Philippians 2:6-11)
Before He was the Son of God in weakness and lowliness; (2 Corinthians 13:4) through the
resurrection He becomes the Son of God in power!

“The transition from v. 3-4 then, is not a transition from a human messiah to a divine Son of
God but from the Son as messiah to the Son as both Messiah and powerful, reigning Lord.”

“according to the flesh” / “according to the Spirit of Holiness”- It is possible that this is
referring to Christ's humanity and divinity or to the two eras or realities that he (Paul) will be
exploring in this letter.

“Spirit of holiness” - Romans 8:11; Acts 2:32-33

  1. through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,
Paul has received the special gift (grace) of apostleship from Jesus Christ for the purpose of
bringing men and women to the obedience of faith (submission to the Gospel). Faith in Jesus
must include submission to His lordship. (John 3:36)

“among all the nations” - Paul was set aside by God especially as an apostle to the Gentiles
(Acts 9:15)

“for the sake of his name” - The supreme goal of the Gospel is to bring God the glory that is due to Him. This leaves no room for distinction between races or classes (castes). (Gal. 3:28)

For the sake of His name.”
“The highest of all missionary motives is neither obedience to the Great Commission
(important as that is), nor love for sinners who are alienated and perishing (strong as that
incentive is, especially when we contemplate the wrath of God), but rather zeal – burning
and passionate zeal – for the glory of Jesus Christ.” -Stott-

  1. including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

The Romans are included among these “all nations”. Paul is their Apostle. Paul was called to
be an Apostle and the Roman church has been called to faith in Christ. Not an invitational
call but a powerful and irresistible reaching out of God in grace to bring people into His
kingdom. (John 6:44)

  1. To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Grace and peace” - (Numbers 6:25) This is an Old Testament blessing to the Jewish people
being given to a church composed primarily of Gentiles.

They are loved of God and called to be saints (an Old Testament term for God's people). Who
they are depends on God's love and call.

They are “saints”. Christians are those who have been sanctified. (1 Corinthians 6:11)

Summary of the importance of who Jesus is in relation to the Gospel:
  • He is the promised messiah of Israel (2)
  • He is the Son of God, the Lord (3-4)
  • He came to the earth as messiah (3)
  • He was exalted through resurrection (4)
  • Through His exaltation He has shared all of these things with us pertaining to salvation(5-6)

  1. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.

This is not a statement on the degree of their faith, but just an acknowledgment of the fact that
their faith had gone out to the Christian world. Just as we could say that believers back home in
the US have heard of the faith of the believers in Nepal and give thanks to God for a witness in
this country.

  1. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you
  2. always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.

Paul did not personally know most of the Roman Christians. He had not had a part in their
founding and had never been to Rome, but that did not keep him from consistently praying for them. He even calls on God as witness, showing that this was not just kind speech. He also lets them know of his desire to come to visit them.

“with my spirit” - his deepest being

“in the gospel of His Son” - Paul's main purpose: The Gospel

  1. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you -

Paul gives three reasons for his wishing to visit Rome: to share some spiritual gift (11), to have
a harvest among them (13), and to preach the Gospel (15)

We don't know what exactly Paul is hoping to share with them or what kind of gift, but we do
know that it is intended to strengthen them. This is the purpose of all gifts in the church: to
build up, to edify, to strengthen the church. (1 Corinthians 14:1-5;26)

  1. that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each others faith, both yours and mine.

Paul sincerely expects that he also has much to gain from his fellowship with the believers in
Rome, but he is also being diplomatic with them; not wanting them to get the idea that this
Apostle, who they do not know, is going to come and bless them with his gifts and wisdom.
He is attempting to establish his credentials with them as the Apostle to the Gentiles (as we
will see all through this letter), but he does not want to come off too heavy handed at the

  1. I want you to know, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles.
Paul had been busy spreading the Gospel around the Greek world but had now run out of
areas to preach the Gospel without over stepping another person's work. (Romans 15:20-24)
This harvest that he intends to reap is most likely evangelistic. He hopes to win converts and
help further build the church in Rome, as well as strengthen the present church. (11)

“as among the rest of the Gentiles” - Paul, here again, identifies the church in Rome as
predominantly Gentile.

  1. I am under obligation both to Greeks and barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.

Here is the reason for Paul's desire to come to Rome and make converts: He feels compelled
that it is his duty! (1 Corinthians 9:16) It is his obligation to them (Gentiles) before God.
(Ephesians 3:8) He had been entrusted with “the gospel of God concerning His Son”, and he
was, therefore, obligated to bring that Gospel to the whole Gentile world. Not just the Greeks
and the Romans, but to the far reaches of the Empire (barbarians and foolish).

  1. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

This “preaching of the gospel” is not just evangelism but refers to the ongoing work of
teaching and discipleship in the church which goes with evangelism. (Matthew 28:18-20)

The Theme of Romans

  1. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

In verse 14 Paul had said that he was “obligated” to preach the Gospel, in 15 he is “eager”, and
now in 16 he declares that he is “not ashamed”.

Even though to the world the cross may seem foolish, (1 Corinthians 1:18-25) Paul is not
ashamed! Why? Because it is the power of God for salvation! Without the cross, without
the Gospel we are lost. We are still under God's wrath and awaiting hell and punishment. But
because of the Gospel, because of what God has done through Christ we can be delivered!
How? By believing! Who is this for? To the Jew first and then us! (Acts 13:46) But, Jew or Gentile, we must come by faith in Christ.

  1. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Here is the power of the Gospel: the righteousness of God! Paul will later explain that what
the Law couldn't do (because we were not capable of keeping it) God has done in Christ!

“the righteousness of God” - This speaks both to His personal character and to His actions in
our salvation and something that He bestows upon us through Christ.

“from faith for faith” - In other words, it is all by faith from beginning to end.

“The righteous shall live by faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4) Literally: “He who through faith is
righteous – he shall live.”

“He who through faith is righteous shall live.” RSV

“He shall gain life who is justified through faith.” NEB

“Every person is 'without excuse' because every person – whether a first-century pagan or
a twenty-first century materialist – has been given a knowledge of God and has spurned that
knowledge in favor of idolatry, in all its varied manifestations. All therefore stand under the
awful reality of the wrath of God, and all are in desperate need of the justifying power of the
Gospel of Christ.” -Moo-

  1. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

Why is the righteousness of God being revealed in the Gospel? Why is it necessary? Why is
it so important? Because of the wrath of God! Who is this wrath against? Whoever or
whatever is under heaven and yet not under the Gospel is under His wrath! (John 3:36)
Paul sandwiches this indictment against all mankind between these two great declarations
of the gracious righteousness of God: Romans 1:17 and 3:21-22.

What then is God's wrath? It is His deeply personal abhorrence of evil; His holy hostility to
evil. “sustained anger against sin because of His holiness for the failure of man to honor Him
as God.” -Moo-

Against what is God's wrath revealed? Against all ungodliness and wickedness of men.

“The essence of sin is godlessness. It is the attempt to get rid of God and, since that is
impossible, the determination to live as though one had succeeded in doing so.” -Stott-

The greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. (Matthew 22:
36-40) It is by this very sin, the not doing of this commandment, this injustice, unrighteous-
ness that they “suppress the truth”. They have made up their minds to live for themselves and
ignore any evidence of God around them.
What truth are they suppressing?

  1. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
  2. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So that they are without excuse.

The invisible God has made Himself visible in His creation. He has made Himself known
through what He has made. (Psalm 19:1; Isaiah 6:3)

General Revelation - made to everybody, everywhere
It is:
Natural – because made through natural means
Continuous – since creation it has gone on day and night (Psalm 19:2)
Creational – revealing God's glory through creation

Special Revelation - made to particular people in particular places
It is:
Supernatural – ie. Incarnation, inspiration of Scriptures
Final – finished in Christ and in Scripture
Salvific – revealing God's grace in Christ

This is natural revelation not natural religion. Paul ends these verses with, “So they are
without excuse”. Through natural revelation you can know God's power, deity, and glory
but not His saving grace through Christ. This knowledge is only enough to condemn because
they could not live up to even that . Instead, they suppress the truth about God by their
unrighteousness. (18)  They are guilty!  They have seen the truth about God around them but
have rejected Him and rejected those evidences to follow their own self-centered paths.

“Natural revelation leads not to salvation but to the demonstration that God's condemnation
is just: people are 'without excuse'.” -Moo-

“God has given mankind an adequate revelation of Himself (i.e. of His eternal power and
deity – His invisible nature and attributes) through the things which He created. But men,
because of their sinfulness, suppress the truth about Him.” -Steele & Thomas-

  1. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

“They knew God” - That is, they knew His eternal power and divine nature as revealed in
creation. But this knowledge did not lead to worship, but rather, they took His blessings and
“did not thank him as God” (Matthew 5:45) They, thereby, perverted their knowledge
concerning God and sank further into either idolatry or atheism. (Acts 14:14-18)

“At the very center of every person, where the knowledge of God, if it is to have any positive
effects, must be embraced, there has settled a darkness – a darkness that only the light of the
Gospel can penetrate.” -Moo-

  1. Claiming to be wise, they became fools,

False religions, philosophies, ungodly scientific theories, and every other attempt by man to
divert worship from the One True God and instead worship idols, wisdom, ourselves, or
material goods is an example of this foolishness masquerading as wisdom.

  1. and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Given the opportunity to bask in the glory of the immortal God, people have rather chosen, in
their folly, to worship the images of mortal human beings and beasts. This is a poor exchange
and shows the absurd nature of their reason.

  1. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,

“Therefore” - since they have rejected the knowledge of God available to them and have,
instead, given their worship to other things.

“God gave them up” - suggests that God has an active rather than a passive role in handing
the sinner over to the terrible cycle of ever-increasing sin.

Exchanging and Giving up
There are in these passages three exchanges of men and three giving ups or giving over of God:
v 23 – They exchange the glory of God for images
v 24 – God gives them up to impurity
v 25 – They exchange the truth of God for a lie
v 26a – God gives them up to dishonorable passions
v 26b-27 – They exchange natural relations (men and women) for unnatural ones
v 28 – God gave them up to a debased mind

“God often punishes one sin by abandoning the sinner to the commission of others, …
This judicial abandonment is consistent with the holiness of God and the free agency of man.
God does not impel or entice to evil. He ceases to restrain.” -Hodge-

  1. because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

What truth are they exchanging for a lie? The truth, the reality, the fact of God as He has
revealed Himself. (The Thessalonians had reversed this exchange: 1 Thessalonians 1:9)

What is the lie? Worshiping and serving the creation INSTEAD of the Creator!
The Creator who is blessed forever! The Creator who deserves all worship and service.
The Creator who has sustained them, shown His loving kindness to them in providing for
them and in not destroying them instantly for their sinfulness. This Creator they have
ignored and rejected to, instead, follow their sinful passions and worship and serve His
creation. Calling it wisdom, they have become mad!

  1. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;
  2. and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Natural means: God's created order, “To act against or contrary to nature means to violate the
order which God has established.” -Stott-

  1. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

This time God gives them up, not to immorality, but to an unfit mind.

“People who have refused to acknowledge God end up with minds that are 'disqualified' from
being able to understand and acknowledge the will of God.” -Moo-
And this “depraved” mind leads to a whole variety of antisocial practices:

  1. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,
  2. slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
  3. foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

This list begins with four general sins: all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, and
malice. Then goes into a more specific list of sins which lead to broken relationships: pride, and all inventions of evil and even the sometimes overlooked “disobedient to parents” or think of any authority which God has placed over you.

One translation lists the last four as, “Without brains, honor, love, or pity.” (This list is not
exhaustive but is meant to complete Paul's picture of the world without Christ and the Gospel.)

  1. Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

“The function of this concluding verse is to bring out even more fully the willful rebellion
against God that permeates humanity.” -Moo-

People generally, Paul claims, have some degree of awareness that the moral outrages they
commit are wrong and therefore deserve to be punished.

Who are these people Paul is describing in this passage? This is a vivid picture of what we were before the intervention of God in Christ. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 2:
1-10; Colossians 3:5-8)