Romans Study Lesson 3 – Romans 1:18-2:24

Romans 1:18-4:25 

The Heart of the Gospel:
Justification by Faith

Romans 1:18-3:20 – The Universal Reign of Sin

  • The righteousness group of words (righteous, righteousness, just, justify) 24x in this section. The faith group (faith, believe/trust) is used 27x!
  • The coming revelation of righteousness was expected
      1. (1) That it came as an act of grace and (2) could be experienced by Jew and Gentile alike was not.
  • “For only if sin is seen to be the dominating, ruling force that Paul presents it to be in this section (see 3:9) will it become clear why God’s righteousness can be experienced only by humbly receiving it as a gift—in a word, by faith.” – Doug Moo
  • Universal aspect
      1. Romans 1:18, 2:9, 3:9, 3:19, 3:20
  • From general to specific back to general
      1. All humans are under God’s wrath (1:18) 
      2. All humans apart from special revelation are “without excuse” (1:18–32)
      3. The Jewish people are also “without excuse” (2:1–3:8)
      4. All humans are under sin and helpless to change their situation (3:9–20) 
  • All people are accountable to God (1:18-1:32) – An Awful Exchange
    1. Does not exclude Jews because it is universal, but it is not speaking directly to them.
    2. Cranfield on v.18: Ungodliness characterizes sin as “an attack on the majesty of God,” unrighteousness as “a violation of God’s just order”
    3. v. 18 – “‘Truth’ in the NT is not simply something to which one must give mental assent; it is something to be done, to be obeyed.”
      1. Obedience that flows out of faith
        1. Luther: “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.”
        2. Barth: “They belong together, as do thunder and lightning in a thunderstorm.”
    4. v. 21 – The heart is the thinking, feeling, willing part of man, especially “with particular regard to his responsibility to God.”
    5. OT parallels of such an exchange: Ps. 106:20; Jer.2:11
    6. Human vs. divine responsibility in the exchange. v. 24 cf. Eph. 4:19
      1. As Godet puts it: “He [God] ceased to hold the boat as it was dragged by the current of the river.”
  • Jews Are Accountable to God for Sin (2:1–3:8)
    1. He switches from speaking of “they” to “you” — literary style of diatribe, which is imaginary dialogue in order to teach.
    2. The Jews and the Judgment of God (2:1-16)
      1. The one who feels like they can judge after chapter 1 stands under the same judgment
      2. While it generally applies to all “moral” people, v. 17 makes it clear that the Jew is being addressed
      3. Paul’s logic in v.1-5:
        1. God’s judgment falls on those who do “these things.”
        2. Even the self-righteous judge does “these things.”
        3. Therefore: even the self-righteous judge stands under God’s judgment.
      4. God is impartialv. 6-11
        1. v. 7,10 are challenging but are true. See 3:10-20
      5. Judgment and the Law (2:12-16)
        1. The distinction of those with and without the law–same as between Jew and Gentile
        2. Justify – to declare righteous
        3. v. 14-15 refer to “Gentiles who do some part of the law but who are not saved”
        4. God will even judge those without the Word by the keeping of their own (flawed) consciences
    3. The Limitations of the Covenant (2:17-29)
      1. Blessing of being a Jew (v. 17-18)
        1. Belonging to the chosen people.
        2. Reliance on the Law
        3. Special relationship with God
        4. Knowing His will
        5. Approves those things which are best
      2. As a result, Jews ought be (v. 19-20)
        1. Guide to the blind
        2. Light for those who are in darkness
        3. An instructor of the foolish
        4. A teacher of the immature
      3. The problem is they don’t keep the law either (v. 21-24)