I encourage you to read this chapter very closely. I refer to often as it has such relevance to our culture and to contemporary issues.
Paul packs a lot into his opening.
- He was specifically called to be an apostle (one who saw Jesus and carried his message).
- He is Jesus’ servant.
- He is sharing the Gospel foretold in the Old Testament.
- Jesus has two natures: Human and divine.
- Jesus was resurrected from the dead.
- Jesus came for the Gentiles as well as the Jews.
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. 6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul’s Longing to Visit Rome
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
Do we display the kind of faith that is worthy of being reported around the world, or even around the block? Are we serving God with our whole hearts and spreading his Good News?
11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.
No matter how strong our faith is, encouragement is vital. There are many times when I’m weighed down and someone will come along with an encouraging word to pick me up. When I see other people living out their faith it inspires me. You are not alone!
14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.
16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
V. 16 is powerful. In light of eternity, why should we be ashamed of the Gospel? The world hates the Gospel, because it convicts them of sin. The Gospel is for everyone. There is no other path besides Jesus.
This next section, which I put in bold, speaks volumes about why everyone should know there is a God. Note how it says that, “God has made it plain to them . . . God’s invisible qualities . . . have been clearly seen . . . so that men are without excuse.” People who think they’ll claim ignorance when facing God at their death are horribly mistaken.
God has revealed himself to us in his creation. He takes it very seriously when people mock that and completely ignore him. Deep down even atheists know there is a God, but they “suppress the truth by their wickedness.”
Theologian R.C Sproul said, “Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself.”
God’s Wrath Against Mankind
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Note how it repeats God “gave them over . . .” three times. Consider how fully our society has turned sexual morality upside down. It calls evil good and good evil. Homosexual behavior is not only accepted but glorified.
This is one of the clearest passages denouncing homosexual behavior as sinful. Some will try to read something into the text that simply isn’t there and claim that this was only about temple prostitutes, but there are many reasons that is wrong, starting with the fact the text doesn’t mention temples, prostitutes, or temple prostitutes.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
Some pro-gay theologians try to spin verses 26-27 to mean that it is only a sin to act outside your “normal” preferences – that is, if you are naturally gay then the sin would be to have heterosexual sex. If that sounds ridiculous to you, it should. The original Greek means natural function, which of course would mean male/female relationships are the norm and homosexual relationships are sinful. See Responding to Pro-Gay Theology for more information.
Romans 1 shows how the world is upside down and how people suppress the truth in unrighteousness and reject God, even though He is seen through his creation. Then Paul offers exhibit A as an example of people rejecting God’s created order: Homosexual behavior.
28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Before people grandstand on the sin of homosexual behavior, they should note the other things Paul listed as being seriously wicked: Envy, greed, deceit, arrogance, heartlessness, disobedience to parents, etc. Trust me, if you re-read the list you’ll find yourself in there somewhere!
People know better, yet they shake their fists at God anyway. I thank God that He took me from rebellion against him to faith in him. It is only by his grace that I am a believer. I pray that many people will read his Word, be convicted and turn to him for forgiveness and salvation.
What parts of this chapter stood out to you and why?