Romans 2020

Paul was the apostle to the gentiles. As such, many of his letters involve explaining the character and requirements of 'the God of the Hebrews' to a world steeped in paganism. In this, he often goes contrary to Rabbinic Judaism, but never against Moses.

The letter to the Romans seems to be addressed to a community struggling to incorporate Jews and Gentiles into the Kingdom of God. 

In speaking to Jews, Paul admonishes them not to look down on the Gentiles coming to faith, nor to feel superior because of their heritage in the Scriptures.

To the Gentiles, his advice is not to get cocky because they have been admitted to the Kingdom. God is perfectly able to prune them off and restore the Jews.

Paul's effort to reconcile the two camps into a single body would ultimately fail as the Synagogue and the Church went their separate ways. 

  • Romans 1, The Just Shall Live By Faith
    The letter starts with an assertion of the TANAK principle that righteousness is by faith. The first chapter describes the pathologies of those who deny God, lack faith and follow after their own vain imaginations.
  • Romans 2, God Shows No Partiality
    There is a very human tendency to assume that God's mercy will be applied to oneself and that He will give that other fellow what he truly deserves. Such presumption is a grave error. God will judge everyone according to His own standards, not man's standards.
  • Romans 3, What Advantage Has the Jew
    Paul continues his discourse on the purpose of the law by explaining why the Jews have had a great advantage because God gave them the Torah. He did that because of His love for His people. The expectation was that they would then spread this blessing to the rest of humanity.
  • Romans 4, Justification by Faith
    The question of circumcision was a big deal in the apostolic age. In Romans 4, Paul explains that circumcision was not necessary for justification in God's eyes. He used the example of Abraham who was justified before he was circumcised. His justification was given because Abraham believed the promises of God.
  • Romans 5-6, Human Mortality
    When Adam ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, he became mortal just as God had warned. Once Adam and Eve had become mortal, their children were also mortal. This human mortality has passed from generation to generation ever since. The law simply describes how God's moral universe operates and serves as a guide to keep us out of trouble. It is not possible for good behavior - obeying the law - to confer immortality. That can only be done by God as a gift of grace.
  • Romans 7-8, A Creature of Flesh
    Paul says the the Torah is holy and good. The only reason it presents him a problem is that his flesh is weak and he is unable consistently to do the things that he knows are good. It is his own weakness that gives sin power over him. Since he is not able to change his mortal nature, he needs the power of Christ and the Spirit to lead him through to life.
  • Romans 8, Walking in the Spirit
    Walking in the Spirit as opposed to walking in the flesh does not mean that the Torah no longer applies. Rather it means that one has changed residence from a jurisdiction which has the death penalty to one that does not. The statutes and standards of behavior are the same in both places. Lying, stealing, covetousness, etc. are still wrong, but they are no longer capital offenses.
  • Romans 9, What Shall We Say Then
    In explaining why some Jews had rejected the Gospel and become enemies of the church, Paul asks a number of rhetorical questions about the justice of God's dealing with His people. In each case, his answer is that God is just and right in His actions.
  • Romans 10, Beautiful Feet
    How does anyone learn the truth of the Gospel? Paul says that faith comes from hearing the Word of God, and the only way that happens is if faithful preachers go out and proclaim it. He also says that the process is the same both for Jews and for Greeks
  • Romans 11, Grafted In
    Gentiles being grafted into the Kingdom of God has caused a great deal of confusion and strife over the years. Paul is not saying that gentiles have replaced Israel. In fact he goes out of his way to make clear that they are and will continue to be His people and that their eventual return and acceptance will be life from the dead. Their temporary pruning and exile was to give space for the grafted in gentiles to flourish and grow.
  • Romans 12-13, Civil Obedience
    Paul continues to talk about achieving harmony among the various groups in the Roman Church/Synagogue. One aspect of this concerns the interface between believers and the civil authorities. This is often interpreted to mean that disagreeing with the magistrate is a sin against God. That is not correct. Paul's exhortation is to do good - which is defined by God - not simply to be obedient which is defined by man.
  • Romans 13-14, Judging a Brother
    Dietary laws and table fellowship have been a big deal ever since the Garden. Can one eat meat? How about milk and meat? What about bacon? And on and on... The letter is not clear precisely what the issue is in Rome, but it is contentious. Paul counsels forbearance.
  • Romans 15-16, Servant to the Circumcised
    Paul finishes his letter with a discussion of why Y'shua had to come to the Hebrews first. In this, he fulfilled the prophecies in the TANAK. His death and resurrection also unlocked the mystery that the Kingdom would include gentiles.