-Paul begins his most complete theological epistle in his usual fashion by declaring himself a slave (a doulos, a bond-servant). This is significant and was a trademark of all Christians who had been bought with the price of Christ’s blood for redemption. This indicated total life change and submission to the will of the Lord in every facet of their being. *Application* Are you sold out as a slave to Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior?
-Paul also includes his calling as an apostle in the introduction to this letter to all the believers in Rome. He claims sanctification, or a setting apart, for the gospel (truth) of God, which the Lord had promised beforehand in the Old Testament Holy Scriptures through His prophets (Romans 1:1-2). This gospel concerned God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who was descended from David (another important and significant theme of the entire Word of God), according to the flesh (Christ was no mirage or spirit, He was incarnate in body form). His proving power by the Spirit of Holiness was His resurrection from the dead, which is a constant and necessary biblical doctrine that Paul emphasizes here (Romans 1:4). This Lord has given His believers grace, apostleship, and peace through faith (faithful obedience, Romans 1:5) in His work for the sake of His Name. This is to spread among all the nations as a righteous calling to a heavenly destiny as saints, loved by God (Romans 1:5-6). *Application* What a wonderful world it will be when we all are set free from the bondage of sin and depravity by the grace, peace, and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through faith in Him alone. God has called you to be His child and disciple. Submit to that revelation and live eternally with joy!
-Paul goes on to thank the Lord for these believers. This is also a trademark of Pauline authorship and a biblical mandate. *Application* We are to give thanks in all things (Ephesians 5:20). Have a heart of gratitude towards those that God has blessed you with in your life, especially those of like faith.
-Paul adds a personal note about how he mentions these Romans believers without ceasing, meaning that everywhere he goes he talks about them and their faith. He had not yet been to Rome we see in the text (Romans 1:10, 13). This letter was probably written in Corinth in approximately 57 A.D. before Paul went to Jerusalem and was arrested, which eventually landed him in Rome as a prisoner appealing to Caesar. He wanted to impart some spiritual gift to his brethren to strengthen them. Here we see another great theme of Pauline authorship. He was huge on edification (building up, Romans 14:19, 15:2, 1 Corinthians 10:23; 14:12, 26, 2 Corinthians 10:8, 13:10, Ephesians 4:12, 16, 29). *Application* Encouragement is so vital to our Christian walk. Paul talks about mutual encouragement and building up (Romans 1:12). Encourage others as you go through life in the Lord. Also, receive positive words of building up and meditate on their significance. Words are powerful (Proverbs 10:31, Matthew 12:36-37, Luke 19:22).
-We can see Paul’s eagerness to preach the gospel here in the passage, even stated (Romans 1:15). He is not ashamed of this gospel for a reason. It is the power of God for salvation (redemption, cleansing, perfection in God’s eyes) for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). It was for the Jew first, but also included is the Gentile, to whom Paul is writing (Romans 1:16b). Paul says that “in it” (the gospel), the righteousness of God is revealed from faith (a faithful God) for faith (our reciprocating free will choice by humanity) (Romans 1:17). It is all about faith as the author quotes Habakkuk 2:4, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
-Now that introductions are through and some insight gained, Paul begins to hit hard with his theological message beginning with the depravity of man who suppresses the truth by their ungodliness and unrighteousness, which justly brings on the revealed wrath of God the Father (Romans 1:18). Paul makes the point that man is without excuse for coming to the Lord in obedience even out of natural revelation (Romans 1:19-20). Even though people knew about God, they did not honor Him as God or give Him thanks (Romans 1:21). The rebellion made their thinking futile and their hearts became darkened (Romans 1:21). They thought they were wise, but became fools in this natural and demonic state (Romans 1:22). This led to an exchanging of glory. The immortal God was cast aside for images resembling mortal man, birds, animals, and creeping things (in another word: idols). God gave them over to these false gods as they exchanged the truth of God for lies and deception. *Application* In life it all comes down to your object of worship. You as a human being will worship something or someone. It is the natural way that God has designed. Cling to His truth and don’t be deceived. Satan is a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). God will let you go your own way if you choose. He is not a deterministic God, but He does love you and died for you so that you can come back to Him in faith and repentance for eternal life. By Jesus’ wounds we are healed (1 Peter 2:24)!
-Paul gives us the scenario for what happens in individuals and cultures that turn their back on the Lord and His ways. God in His freedom allows men and women to go their own way if they choose to abandon His glory and exchange it for something else. The result is a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. Paul lists some of these corruptions here including homosexuality, unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice (intent to do harm, hatred, meanness), envy, murder, strife, deceit, gossip, slander, hating God, insolence (disrespectful), haughtiness (pride), being boastful, inventors of evil, disobedience to parents, foolishness, faithless (perhaps the most important one here), heartless, and ruthless. Even though they know God’s righteous decree that those who do these things deserve to die, they do them and give approval to those who practice such atrocities (Romans 1:32). *Application* Paul paints a realistic picture of what we know the world to be in its unregenerated state apart from God’s forgiveness and mercy by faith. The point is that we are without excuse. God has demonstrated what He expects and has even provided the payment for sin on the cross through His Son’s work if we will accept it (Romans 5:8). Heed the call of the Lord in this power packed chapter of Scripture!
Verse to Memorize- Romans 1:16