Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 2nd, 2023
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
Take our poll

Bible Commentaries
Romans 1

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors


Romans 1:0


SalutationGreetings SalutationsSalutationSalutationAddress
Romans 1:1-7Romans 1:1-7Romans 1:1-6Romans 1:1Romans 1:1-2
Romans 1:2-6
Romans 1:3-7
Romans 1:7aRomans 1:7a
Romans 1:7bRomans 1:7b
Paul's Desire to Visit RomeDesire to Visit RomeThanksgivingPrayer of ThanksgivingThanksgiving and Prayer
Romans 1:8-15Romans 1:8-15Romans 1:8-15Romans 1:8-12Romans 1:8-15
Romans 1:13-15
The Power of the GospelThe Just Live By FaithThe Theme of the LetterThe Power of the GospelThe Theme Stated
Romans 1:16-17Romans 1:16-17Romans 1:16-17Romans 1:16-17Romans 1:16-17
The Guilt of MankindGod's Wrath on UnrighteousnessGod's Judgment Upon SinThe Guilt of MankindGod's Retribution Against the Gentiles
Romans 1:18-23Romans 1:18-32Romans 1:18-23Romans 1:18-23Romans 1:18-23
Romans 1:24-32 Romans 1:24-25Romans 1:24-25Romans 1:24-25
Romans 1:26-27Romans 1:26-27Romans 1:26-27
Romans 1:28-32Romans 1:28-32Romans 1:28-32

* Although they are not inspired, paragraph divisions are the key to understanding and following the original author's intent. Each modern translation has divided and summarized the paragraphs. Every paragraph has one central topic, truth, or thought. Each version encapsulates that topic in its own distinct way. As you read the text, ask yourself which translation fits your understanding of the subject and verse divisions. In every chapter we must read the Bible first and try to identify its subjects (paragraphs), then compare our understanding with the modern versions. Only when we understand the original author's intent by following his logic and presentation can we truly understand the Bible. Only the original author is inspiredreaders have no right to change or modify the message. Bible readers do have the responsibility of applying the inspired truth to their day and their lives. Note that all technical terms and abbreviations are explained fully in the following documents: Brief Definitions of Greek Grammatical Structure, Textual Criticism, and Glossary.



This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five modern translations. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


A. Romans 1:1-7 forms the introduction to the letter. It is the longest introduction of any of Paul's letters. He was trying to introduce himself and his theology to a church who did not know him personally and may have heard negative information about him.

B. Romans 1:8-12 is an opening prayer of thanksgiving. This was characteristic of Greek letters generally and of Paul's writings specifically.

C. Romans 1:16-17 states the theme of the book.

D. Romans 1:18 through Romans 3:20 form the first literary unit and the first point of Paul's gospel; all humans (3 groups) are lost and need to be saved (cf. Genesis 3:0).

1. immoral pagans

2. moral pagans

3. Jews

E. Romans 1:18-20 reflects Genesis 3:0 (surprisingly the rabbis do not focus on this text, but Genesis 6:0, as the origin of sin). Humanity was created for fellowship with God, in His very image (cf. Genesis 1:26-27). However, mankind chose enlightenment and the promise of power and independence. In effect, humans exchanged the exaltation of God for the exaltation of themselves (atheistic humanism)!

God allowed this crisis. To be in God's image is to be responsible, to be morally accountable, to be volitionally free with consequences. God separates humans by both His choice and theirs (a covenant relationship)! He allows them to choose self with all its consequences. God is grieved (cf. Genesis 6:5-7), but humans are free moral agents with all the rights and responsibilities that brings. The repeated phrase "God gave them over" (cf. Romans 1:24, Romans 1:26, Romans 1:28) is the recognition of that freedom, not a willful rejection by God. This was not God's choice. This is not the world that God intended (cf. Genesis 3:22; Genesis 6:5-7, Genesis 6:11-13)!

F. The theological summary of Romans 1:18-20 is found in Romans 3:21-31. This is the first theological point of the "good news" of the gospel-all humans have sinned and have need of God's forgiveness. God graciously provides a way back to intimate fellowship (i.e., Eden experience, compare Genesis 1-2 with Revelation 21-22).

G. In this first literary unit of Paul's presentation of the gospel it is interesting to note that fallen mankind is held responsible for their rebellion and sin without any reference to Satan or the demonic (cf. Romans 1:18-20). This section certainly reflects the theology of Genesis 3:0, but without a personal tempter. God will not allow fallen mankind to blame Satan again (cf. Genesis 3:13) or God Himself (cf. Genesis 3:12). Humans are made in God's image (cf. Genesis 1:26; Genesis 5:1, Genesis 5:3; Genesis 9:6). They have the right, power and obligation to choose. They are responsible for their choices both corporately in Adam and individually in personal sin (cf. Romans 3:23).


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why did Paul write to the Roman church?

2. Why was Romans such an important theological statement of Christianity?

Romans 1:3. Outline 1:18-3:20 in your own words.

4. Will those who have never heard the Gospel be rejected for not trusting Christ?

5. Explain the difference between "natural revelation" and "special revelation."

6. Describe human life without God.

7. Do verses Romans 1:24-27 address the issue of homosexuality?

Verses 1-6

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Romans 1:1-6 1Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name's sake, 6among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;

Romans 1:1 "Paul" Most Jews of Paul's day had two first names, one Jewish, one Roman (cf. Acts 13:9). Paul's Jewish name was Saul. He, like the ancient King of Israel, was of the tribe of Benjamin (cf. Romans 11:1; Philippians 3:5). His Roman name in Greek form, Paul (Paulos), meant "little." This referred to

1. his physical stature which was alluded to in a second century non-canonical book, The Acts of Paul, in a chapter about Thessalonica called "Paul and Thekla"

2. his personal sense of being least of the saints because he originally persecuted the Church (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:9; Ephesians 3:8; 1 Timothy 1:15)

3. simply the name given by his parents at birth

Option #3 seems best.

"a bond-servant" NKJV, NRSV, TEV and JB translations read "servant." This concept was either

1. antithetical to Jesus as Lord

2. an OT honorific title (cf. Moses in Numbers 12:7 and Joshua 1:1; Joshua in Joshua 24:29; and David in the Psalms (title), and Isaiah 42:1, Isaiah 42:19; Isaiah 52:13)

NASB, TEV, NJB, REB"Christ Jesus" NKJV, NRSV"Jesus Christ"

"Christ Jesus" is more unusual and, therefore, probably original (cf. MSS P10, B). The UBS4 gives it a "B" rating (almost certain).

However, the other form has really good attestation (cf. MSS P26, א, A, D, G, and most early church Fathers).

See Appendix Two on the assumptions of Textual Criticism. Most of the textual variants are like this one in the sense that they do not affect the basic meaning of the Greek text.

"called as an apostle" This was God's choice, not his (cf. Acts 9:15; Galatians 1:15; Ephesians 3:7). With this phrase Paul is asserting his spiritual qualifications and authority, as he does in 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:1; Titus 1:1) to this church he had never met. See SPECIAL TOPIC: CALLED at Romans 1:6.

The Koine term "apostle" in Palestinian Jewish circles of the first century meant "one sent as an official representative" (cf. 2 Chronicles 17:7-9). In the NT this term was used in two senses: (1) of the Twelve special disciples and Paul and (2) of a spiritual gift that continues in the church (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:28-29; Ephesians 4:11).


"set apart" This is a perfect passive participle, which implied that he was set apart by God in the past (cf. Jeremiah 1:5 and Galatians 1:15) and this continued as a state of being. This was a possible play on the Aramaic word for "Pharisee." They were separated to Jewish legalism (and Paul also [Philippians 3:5] before his Damascus Road encounter with Jesus), but now he was separated to the gospel.

It is related to the Hebrew word for "holy" (BDB 872), which meant "set apart for God's use" (cf. Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:5). The terms "saint," "sanctify," and "set apart" all had the same Greek root, "holy" (hagios).

"for the gospel of God" The preposition eis in this context (and Romans 1:5) shows the purpose of Paul's "call" (Romans 1:1b) and being "set apart" (Romans 1:1c).

Gospel is a compound word from "good" (eu) and "message" (angellos). It became the term that described the doctrines revealed in the New Covenant (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:22-32) related to God's promised Messiah (cf. Romans 1:3-4). It is the "gospel of His Son" (Romans 1:2).

This is God's gospel, not Paul's (cf. Romans 15:16; Mark 1:14; 2 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:2, 1 Thessalonians 2:8, 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Peter 4:17). Paul was not an innovator or cultural adapter, but a proclaimer of the truth he received (cf. Acts 9:0; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25).

Romans 1:2 "He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures" This verb is an aorist middle (deponent) indicative. It is used only in Paul's writings (here and 2 Corinthians 9:5). The gospel was no afterthought with God, but His eternal, purposeful plan (cf. Genesis 3:15; Genesis 12:3; Exodus 19:5; Isaiah 53:0; Psalms 118:0; Mark 10:45; Luke 2:22; Acts 2:23; Acts 3:18; Acts 4:28; Titus 1:2). The early sermons in Acts (the kerygma) present Jesus as the fulfillment of OT promises and prophecies.

The OT is referred to in the NT in two common ways.

1. "it is written" (or "writings," i.e., 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 3:16)

2. Scripture(s)

It is also referred to in connection with the prophets. In the Jewish mind prophets wrote Scripture.

1. "the Law or the Prophets," Matthew 5:17-18; also note Luke 24:44

2. "prophecy," Luke 24:27

3. "writings of the prophets," Matthew 26:56

4. "prophetic writings,"Romans 16:26; Romans 16:26 (Romans 1:2 also mentions "prophets")

5. "prophecy of Scripture," 2 Peter 1:20

There are two instances of the adjective "holy" attached.

1. "holy Scriptures" (full clause also mentions "prophets"), Romans 1:2

2. "sacred writings," 2 Timothy 3:15


Romans 1:3 "concerning His Son" The central message of the Good News is a person, Jesus of Nazareth, virgin-born son of Mary. In the OT the nation, the king, and the Messiah were called "son" (cf. 2 Samuel 7:14; Hosea 11:1; Psalms 2:7; Matthew 2:15).

In the OT God spoke through servants and prophets. Jesus was not a servant of God. He was a family member (cf. Hebrews 1:1-2; Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 5:8; Hebrews 7:28). Surprisingly this is the only place in the book where Paul focuses on Christology. Romans is not a complete systematic theology.


"who was born a descendant of David" This relates to the prophecy of 2 Samuel 7:0. The Messiah was of the royal line of David (cf. Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 11:1, Isaiah 11:10; Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 30:9; Jeremiah 33:15) from the tribe of Judah (cf. Genesis 49:4-12; Isaiah 65:9). In Matthew's Gospel Jesus is acknowledged as David's descendant several times (cf. Romans 1:6; Romans 9:27; 12:23; Romans 15:22; 20:30,31; 21:9,15; 22:42), which reflected the Jewish hope of a coming Davidic savior.

It is surprising that Paul did not emphasize this aspect of Jesus. He mentioned it only here and in 2 Timothy 2:8; both passages may have been quotes from an early church's creedal formula. The NIDNTT, vol. 3, p. 61, lists several NT Scripture texts which may reflect early Christological creeds/hymns/liturgy (i.e., Romans 1:3-4; Romans 8:34; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Philippians 2:6-11; 1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Timothy 2:8; 1 Peter 3:18-20).

NASB, NKJV, NRSV"according to the flesh" TEV"as to his humanity" NJB"according to human nature"

This was fulfillment of prophecy and an affirmation of Jesus' humanity, which was often denied in the eclectic religious world of the first century (cf. 1 John 1:1-4; 1 John 4:1-3). This verse clearly shows that Paul did not always use the term "flesh" (sarx) in a negative sense (cf. Romans 2:28; Romans 9:3). However, usually Paul used "flesh" to contrast "spirit" (cf. Romans 6:19; Romans 7:5, Romans 7:18, Romans 7:25; Romans 8:3-9, Romans 8:12, Romans 8:13; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:17; 2 Corinthians 11:18; Galatians 3:3; Galatians 5:13, Galatians 5:16, Galatians 5:17-19, Galatians 5:24; Galatians 6:8; Ephesians 2:3; Colossians 2:11, Colossians 2:13, Colossians 2:18, Colossians 2:23).

This grammatical construction kata (according to) plus an accusative is paralleled in Romans 1:4. Jesus is both human (according to the flesh, Romans 1:3) and divine (according to the Spirit, Romans 1:4). This doctrine of incarnation is crucial (cf. 1 John 4:1-3). It may also be the implication of Jesus' self-chosen designation, "Son of Man" (cf. Psalms 8:4; Ezekiel 2:1 [human] and Daniel 7:13 [divine]).


Romans 1:4

NASB, NKJV, NRSV, NIV"declared" TEV"shown" NJB, RSV"designated" NET"appointed" REB"proclaimed"

This is an aorist passive participle. God definitively appointed Jesus "the Son of God." This does not imply that Bethlehem was the beginning of Jesus or that He is inferior to the Father. See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE TRINITY at Romans 8:11. See third paragraph below.

"to be the Son of God with power" The NT authors did not often refer to Jesus by the title "Son of God" (cf. Matthew 4:3) because of the false implications from Greek mythology (the same is true of the virgin birth). The concept is usually qualified by "unique, one of a kind" (monogenes, cf. John 1:18; John 3:16, John 3:18; 1 John 4:9). Thus the meaning is "Jesus, the only true Son of God." See Special Topic at Romans 1:3.

The NT has two theological poles related to God the Father and Jesus the Son.

1. they are equal (cf. John 1:1; John 5:18; John 10:30; John 14:9; John 20:28; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3)

but 2. they are separate personalities (cf. Mark 10:18; Mark 14:36; Mark 15:34)

It is possible that Paul was quoting an early Christological creed or alluding to YHWH's Messianic King in Psalms 2:6, Psalms 2:7 or 110:1 (cf. Acts 2:34-36). In so doing he was emphasizing the whole phrase "the Son of God with power" (NIDNTT, vol. 2, p. 79) which focused, not on His birth or baptism, but His ascension. However, Adoptionist Christologies (see Glossary) took the verse and quoted it for their own reasons. With this proof-texting method of Bible interpretation, one can make the Bible say anything (see my seminar on Biblical Interpretation free online at www.freebiblecommentary.org).

"by the resurrection" God the Father affirmed Jesus' life and message by raising Him from the dead (cf. Romans 4:24; Romans 6:4, Romans 6:9; Romans 8:11; Acts 2:31-33). The deity (cf. John 1:1-14; Colossians 1:15-19; Philippians 2:6-11; Hebrews 1:2-3) and resurrection of Jesus (cf. Romans 4:25; Romans 10:9-13; 1 Corinthians 15:0) are twin pillars of Christianity.

This verse was often used to advocate the heresy of "adoptionism" which asserted that Jesus was rewarded and elevated by God for His exemplary life of obedience. The heretics asserted that He was not always (ontologically) deity, but became deity when God raised Him from the dead. Although this is clearly untrue, which is obvious from many texts such as John 1:0 and 17, something wonderful was conferred on Jesus at His resurrection. It is difficult to express how deity can be rewarded, yet that is what happened. Even though Jesus shared eternal glory with the Father, His status was somehow enriched by the perfect fulfillment of His assigned redemptive task. The resurrection was the Father's affirmation of the life, example, teachings, and sacrificial death of Jesus of Nazareth; eternally divine, fully human, perfect savior, restored and rewarded, unique Son! See Appendix three - Adoptionism.

NASB, NKJV"according to the Spirit of holiness" NKJV"according to the spirit of holiness" TEV"as to his divine holiness" NJB"in the order of the spirit, the spirit of holiness"

Some translations capitalize the "S" in Spirit, implying the Holy Spirit, while the lowercase "s" would refer to the human spirit of Jesus. As God the Father is Spirit, so too, is Jesus. The ancient Hebrew and Greek texts had no capitalizations, no punctuation, and no chapter or verse divisions, so these are all points of tradition or the interpretation by translators.

There are three ways to view verses Romans 1:3 and 4.

1. as a reference to Jesus' two natures, human and divine

2. as a reference to two stages in His earthly life, human and resurrected Lord

3. as a parallel to "Jesus Christ our Lord"

"Jesus" The Aramaic name Jesus is the same as the Hebrew name Joshua. It was a compound of two Hebrew words "YHWH" and "salvation." It can mean "YHWH saves," "YHWH delivers" or "YHWH is salvation." The thrust of the meaning can be seen in Matthew 1:21, Matthew 1:25.

"Christ" This was the Greek translation of the Hebrew term messiah (BDB 603), which meant "an anointed one." In the OT several groups of leaders (prophets, priests, and kings) were anointed as a sign of God's choice and equipping. Jesus fulfilled all three of these anointed offices (cf. Hebrews 1:2-3).

The OT predicted that God would send a special "anointed one" to usher in the New Age of Righteousness. Jesus was His special "servant," "son," and "Messiah."


"Lord" In Judaism the Covenant name for God, YHWH, became so holy that the rabbis substituted the title "Lord," (Adon) when reading the Scriptures because they were afraid they might take God's name in vain (cf. Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 5:11) and thereby break one of the Ten Commandments. When NT authors called Jesus "Lord" ("Kurios") in theological contexts, they were affirming His deity (cf. Acts 2:36; Romans 10:9-13; Philippians 2:6-11).


Romans 1:5 "we" Paul mentions no other person in his introduction, as he often does in his other letters. This first phrase refers to Paul's Damascus Road conversion and appointment (cf. Acts 9:0), which strongly implies the editorial use of "we."

"we have received grace and apostleship" Paul is affirming not only the gift of salvation through Christ, but also and connected to it, the call to be the apostle to the Gentiles. All of this occurred instantaneously on the road to Damascus (aorist active indicative, cf. Acts 9:1-22; Acts 22:3-16; Acts 26:9-18). It was not from merit, but purposeful grace!

It is possible that "grace" and "apostleship" are to be taken as one unit, "the gift of apostleship" (NET note #13). All of the various translations listed in The New Testament in 26 Translations (p. 646) see it as a hendiadys also.

"to bring about" This is a second use of eis in a purpose context (cf. Romans 1:1). The gospel restores the image of God in mankind through faith in Jesus. This allows the original purpose of God to be manifested, which is a people in intimate fellowship with Him who reflect His character (cf. Romans 1:7).

NASB, NJB"the obedience of faith" NKJV"for obedience to the faith" NRSV"to bring about the obedience of faith" TEV"to believe and obey"

This is the first usage of the pivotal term, "faith," in Romans (see Special Topic at Romans 4:5). It was used in three distinct ways in this chapter and book.

1. Verse 5. It is used of a body of truths or doctrines related to Jesus and the Christian life (cf. Acts 6:7; Acts 13:8; Acts 14:22; Acts 16:5; Romans 14:1; Romans 16:26; Galatians 1:23; Galatians 6:10; Jude 1:3, Jude 1:20).

2. Verse 8. It is used in the sense of personal trust in Jesus. The English terms "believe," "faith," and "trust" all translate one Greek term (pistis/pisteuo). The gospel is both conceptual (doctrine) and personal (cf. v. Romans 1:16; John 1:12; John 3:16). See Special Topic at Romans 4:5.

3. Verse 17. It is used in its OT sense of trustworthiness, loyalty, or dependability. This is the meaning of Habakkuk 2:4. In the OT there was not a developed doctrine of faith, but example after example of lives of faith (cf. Abraham in Genesis 15:6), not perfect faith but struggling faith (cf. Hebrews 11:0). The hope of mankind is not in their ability to perform or believe correctly, but in God's character (cf. Romans 3:24; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9). Only God is faithful (cf. Malachi 3:6)!

There is a series of acts that can be called the salvation event.

a. repentance (cf. Romans 2:4; Mark 1:15; Luke 13:3, Luke 13:5; Acts 3:16, Acts 3:19; Acts 20:21)

b. belief/faith (cf. Romans 1:16; John 1:12; John 3:16; Acts 16:31, baptism is the public declaration of one's faith)

c. obedience (cf. Romans 2:13; 2 Corinthians 9:13; 2 Corinthians 10:5; 1 Peter 1:2, 1 Peter 1:22)

d. perseverance (cf. Romans 2:7; Luke 18:1; 2 Corinthians 4:1, 2 Corinthians 4:16; Galatians 6:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:13)

These are the conditions of the New Covenant. We must receive/believe and continue to receive/believe God's offer in Christ (cf. Romans 1:16; John 1:12).

SPECIAL TOPIC: Believe, Trust, Faith, and Faithfulness in the Old Testament (אמן)

NASB "for His name's sake" NKJV"for His name" NRSV"for the sake of his name" TEV"for the sake of Christ" NJB"for the honor of his name"

See Special Topic at Romans 10:9.

"the obedience of faith" The literal Greek phrase is "for (eis) obedience." The gospel has an

1. immediate obedience of repentance and faith

2. lifestyle obedience of Christlikeness and perseverance

The gospel is a grace gift but with expected results! The NT is a covenant like the OT. Both demand a faith/obedience response. They both have benefits, responsibilities, and expectations (i.e., E Philippians 1:4; Philippians 2:10). This is not a works righteousness but a works confirmation (cf. James, 1 John)! Eternal life has observable characteristics!

NASB, NRSV"among all the Gentiles" NKJV"among all nations" TEV"people of all nations" NJB"to all pagan nations"

This is the universal gospel. God's promise of redemption in Genesis 3:15 included all mankind. Jesus' substitutionary death included all of the fallen children of Adam (cf. Romans 5:18; John 1:29; John 3:16; John 4:42; John 6:33, John 6:51; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Ephesians 2:11-13; 1 Timothy 2:4; 1 Timothy 4:10; Titus 2:11; Hebrews 2:9; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:14). Paul sees his special call as preaching God's gospel to Gentiles (cf. Acts 9:15; Acts 22:21; Acts 26:17; Romans 11:13; Romans 15:16; Galatians 1:16; 2:29; Ephesians 3:2, Ephesians 3:8; 1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 4:17).


Romans 1:6 "you also" Paul was an extreme example (i.e., persecutor of the church) of the grace of God, but his readers were also examples of the undeserved, unmerited grace of God.

NASB, NKJV"the called of Jesus Christ" NRSV"who are called to belong to Jesus Christ" TEV"whom God has called to belong to Jesus Christ" NJB"by his call belong to Jesus Christ"

This may be

1. a play on the term "church," which meant "the called out ones" or "gathered ones"

2. a reference to divine election (cf. Romans 8:29-30; Romans 9:1ff; Ephesians 1:4, Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 3:21; Ephesians 4:1, Ephesians 4:4)

3. the Revised English Bible translation of the phrase, "you who have heard the call and belong to Jesus Christ."

This also reflects the understanding of this phrase as translated in the NRSV, TEV, and JB. See Special Topic below.


Verse 7

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Romans 1:7 7to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:7 "beloved of God" This phrase was often used of Jesus (cf. Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5). Now it was used of the church in Rome! This shows the depth of God's love for those who trust in His Son. This kind of transfer can also be seen in Ephesians 1:20 (God's actions on behalf of Jesus) and Ephesians 2:5-6 (Jesus' actions on behalf of believers).

"in Rome" Paul did not start this church. No one knows who did (see Intro.). Romans was a letter introducing himself to a church already established. The book of Romans is Paul's most developed presentation of the gospel he preached. It is least affected by a local situation although there existed tensions between Jewish and Gentile believers to whom he comments throughout the letter (esp. chaps. 9-11).

NASB"called as saints" NKJV, NRSV, NJB"called to be saints" TEV"called to be his own people"

The term "saints" referred to the believers' position in Christ (see Special Topic at Romans 6:4), not their sinlessness. It should also describe their progressive Christlikeness. The term was always plural except in Philippians 4:21. However, even in this context it is corporate. To be a Christian is to be part of a community, a family, a body.

Verse Romans 1:1 indicates that Paul was called to be an apostle. Believers are "the called of Jesus Christ" in verse Romans 1:6. Believers are also called "saints" in verse Romans 1:7. This "calling" was a NT way of asserting the truth of the initiating priority of God (see Special Topic at Romans 1:6). No fallen human ever called himself (cf. Romans 3:9-13; Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 2:25). God always takes the initiative (cf. John 6:44, John 6:65; John 15:16). He always brings the covenant (see Special Topic at Romans 9:4) to us. This is true of our salvation (our imputed righteousness or legal standing), but also our giftedness for effective service (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:7, 1 Corinthians 12:11), and our Christian lives. See Special Topic following.


"Grace to you and peace from God" This is Paul's characteristic opening blessing. It is a word play on the traditional Greek term "greetings" (charein) and the uniquely Christian term "grace" (charis). Paul may have been combining this Greek opening with the traditional Hebrew greeting shalom or "peace." However, this is only speculation. Notice that theologically grace always precedes peace.

"from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" Paul regularly uses only one preposition for both names (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4). This was his way of grammatically linking these two Persons of the Trinity. This would emphasize Jesus' deity and equality with the Father.


Verses 8-15

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Romans 1:8-15 8First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world. 9For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, 10always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you. 11For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; 12that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine. 13I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

Romans 1:8 "First" In this context "first" means "from the beginning" or "I must begin" (J. B. Phillips).

"I thank my God through Jesus Christ" Paul normally addresses his prayers to God through Jesus Christ. Jesus is our only way to approach God! See Special Topic: Paul's Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving at Romans 7:25.

"for you all" This use of "all," like Romans 1:7, may reflect the jealousy and conflict between the believing Jewish leaders who fled Rome under Nero's edict and the resultant believing Gentile leaders who had replaced them for a few years. Romans 9-11 addresses this same issue.

It is also possible that the inclusion is addressed to "the weak" and "the strong" of Romans 14:1-13. God loves all of the church at Rome and He loves them equally!

"because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world" Romans 16:19 made allusion to the same truth. This was obviously an Oriental overstatement (hyperbole) referring to the Roman world (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:8).

Romans 1:9 "God. . .is my witness" Paul was taking an oath in God's name (cf. Romans 9:1; 2 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 11:10-11, 2 Corinthians 11:31; 2 Corinthians 12:19; Galatians 1:20; 1 Thessalonians 2:5). This was his Jewish way of asserting his truthfulness.

NASB"how unceasingly" NKJV, NRSV"without ceasing" NJB"continually mention" NIV"how constantly"

This theme of Paul's constant and urgent prayers (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 1:3) should be an example church leaders diligently follow (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer opens a powerful spiritual door. We have not because we ask not (James 4:2).

"in my spirit" This is a good example of the use of pneuma for the human spirit (cf. Romans 8:5, Romans 8:10, Romans 8:16; Romans 12:11) used in the sense of human life (i.e., breath, Hebrew ruach, BDB 924, cf. Genesis 6:17; Genesis 7:15, Genesis 7:22).


Romans 1:10 "always in my prayers making request" Paul did not start this church and yet he consistently prayed for them (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:28), as he did for all his churches! See SPECIAL TOPIC: INTERCESSORY PRAYER at Romans 9:3. However, Paul had many friends and co-workers in the Roman church as chapter 16 clearly shows.

"if" This is a first class conditional sentence which is assumed to be true from the author's perspective or for his literary purposes. Paul planned to visit Rome on his way to Spain (cf. Romans 15:22-24). He probably did not plan to stay a long time. Paul always wanted to minister in a new field where no other person had worked (cf. Romans 15:20; 2 Corinthians 10:15, 2 Corinthians 10:16). It is possible that one of the purposes of the Roman letter was to solicit funds for his missionary journey to Spain (cf. Romans 15:24).

"by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you" This is paralleled in Romans 1:3 and 15:32. Paul did not feel that his life and travel plans belonged to himself, but to God (cf. Acts 18:21; 1 Corinthians 4:19; 1 Corinthians 16:7). See Special Topic at Romans 12:2.

Also notice that God's will can be affected by believers' prayers!

Romans 1:11 "'For I long to see you'" This parallels Romans 15:23. For a long time Paul wanted to meet the believers in Rome (cf. Acts 19:21).

"that I may impart some spiritual gift to you" The phrase "spiritual gift" was used in the sense of spiritual insight or blessing (cf. Romans 11:29; Romans 15:27). Paul saw himself as uniquely called to be the Apostle to the Gentiles (cf. Romans 1:15).

"that you may be established" This is an aorist passive infinitive of histçmi. The word has three meanings.

1. establish, Romans 1:11; Romans 16:25; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 2 Peter 1:12

2. strengthen, Luke 22:32; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; James 5:8; Revelation 3:2

3. a Semitic idiom for making a firm decision, Luke 9:51

See Special Topic at Romans 5:2.

Romans 1:12 This is the purpose of Christian fellowship. The gifts are meant to unite believers into a ministering community. Believers are gifted for the common good (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:7). All gifts are relevant. All the gifts are given by the Spirit at salvation (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:11). All believers are called, gifted, full-time ministers (cf. Ephesians 4:11-12). Paul clearly states his sense of Apostolic authority, but also a community-wide mutuality. Believers need one another! Believers are the Body of Christ.

Romans 1:13 "I do not want you to be unaware, brethren" This is an idiom which Paul uses often to introduce important statements (cf. Romans 11:25; 1 Corinthians 10:1; 1 Corinthians 12:1; 2 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:13). It is similar in literary purpose to Jesus' "Amen, amen."

"and have been prevented thus far" This is a passive verb. This same phrase occurs in 1 Thessalonians 2:18 where Satan is the agent. Paul believed his life was guided by God but disrupted by Satan. Somehow both are true (cf. Job 1-2; Daniel 10:0). The use of this term in Romans 15:22 implies the hindrance was Paul's missionary work in the eastern Mediterranean area, which is not yet complete (but close).

"that I might obtain some fruit among you" In this context "fruit" may refer to converts, but in John 15:1-8 and Galatians 5:22 it referred to Christian maturity. Matthew 7:0 says "by your fruit you shall be known," but it does not define the term fruit. The best parallel is probably Philippians 1:22, where Paul uses this same agricultural metaphor.

Romans 1:14 "I am under obligation" Paul uses this term several times in Romans.

1. Paul is obligated to preach the gospel to all Gentiles (here).

2. Paul is not obligated to "the flesh" (Romans 8:12).

3. The Gentile church is obligated to help the mother church in Jerusalem (Romans 15:27).

"to Greeks" This referred to the civilized, cultured people around the Mediterranean Sea. Alexander the Great and his followers had Hellenized the known world. The Romans had taken over and assimilated the Greek culture.

"to Barbarians" This (onomatopoeia) term meant the uneducated or uncultured people groups, usually to the north. It was used of people who did not speak Greek. Their speech sounded like "bar bar bar" to the Greeks and Romans.

"to the wise and to the foolish" It is possible that this is parallel in the Greek text to "barbarians," but not necessarily so. This may be another way of referring to all people groups and individuals.

Verses 16-17

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Romans 1:16-17 16For 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. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "But the righteous man shall live by faith."

Romans 1:16-17 Verses Romans 1:16-17 are the theme of the entire book. This theme is amplified and summarized in Romans 3:21-31.

Romans 1:16

NASB, NRSV"I am not ashamed of the gospel" NKJV"I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ" TEV"I have complete confidence in the gospel" NJB"I am not ashamed of the Good News:"

Paul may be alluding to Jesus' words in Mark 8:38 and Luke 9:26. He is not ashamed of the content of the gospel or its resulting persecution (cf. 2 Timothy 1:12, 2 Timothy 1:16, 2 Timothy 1:18).

In 1 Corinthians 1:23 the Jews were ashamed of the gospel because it affirmed a suffering Messiah and the Greeks because it affirmed the resurrection of the body.

"salvation" In the OT, the Hebrew term (yasho) primarily referred to physical deliverance (cf. James 5:15), but in the NT the Greek term (sôzô) refers primarily to spiritual deliverance (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18, 1 Corinthians 1:21). See Robert B. Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament, pp. 124-126.


NASB"to every one who believes" NKJV"for everyone who believes" NRSV"to everyone who has faith" TEV"all who believe" NJB"all who have faith"

The gospel is for all humans (oh, how I love the words "everyone," "whosoever," "all," see note at Romans 1:5, 6th item), but believing is one of the conditions for acceptance (cf. Acts 16:30-31). The other is repentance (cf. Mark 1:15; Acts 3:16 and Romans 1:19; 20:21). God deals with mankind by means of covenant (see Special Topic at Romans 9:4). He always takes the initiative and sets the agenda (cf. John 6:44, John 6:65). But there are several reciprocal conditions (see note at Romans 1:5, 4th item).

The Greek term, here translated "believe," can also be translated in English by the terms "faith" or "trust." The Greek word has a wider connotation than any one English word. Notice it is a present participle. Saving faith is continuing faith (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 15:2; 2 Corinthians 2:15; 1 Thessalonians 4:14)! See special Topic at Romans 10:4.

Originally the related Hebrew terms behind this Greek term for "faith" meant a stable stance, a man with his feet apart so that he could not be easily moved. The opposite OT metaphor would be "my feet were in the miry clay" (Psalms 40:2), "my feet almost slipped" (Psalms 73:2). The Hebrew related roots, emun, emunah, aman, came to be used metaphorically of someone who was trustworthy, loyal, or dependable. Saving faith does not reflect fallen mankind's ability to be faithful, but God's! Believers' hopes do not reside in their abilities but in God's character and promises. It is His trustworthiness, His faithfulness, His promises! See Special Topic at Romans 1:5.

"to the Jew first" The reason for this is discussed briefly in Romans 2:9-10 and Romans 3:1-20 and fully developed in Romans 9-11. It follows Jesus' statements in Matthew 10:6; Matthew 15:24; Mark 7:27; John 4:22.

This may relate to the jealousy between believing Jew and Gentile leadership in the Roman church.

Romans 1:17 "the righteousness of God" This phrase in context referred to (1) God's character, and (2) how He gives that character to sinful mankind. The Jerusalem Bible (JB) translation has "this is what reveals the justice of God." While this does refer to the believer's moral lifestyle, it primarily concerns his legal standing before the Righteous Judge. This imputation of the righteousness of God to fallen, sinful mankind, since the Reformation, has been characterized as "justification by grace through faith" (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9). This is the very verse that changed Martin Luther's life and theology!

However, the goal of justification is sanctification, Christlikeness, or the righteous character of God (cf. Romans 8:28-29; Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 4:13; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 Peter 1:15). Righteousness is not only a legal pronouncement, it is a call to a holy life; the image of God in mankind is to be functionally restored (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21).


NASB, NKJV"from faith to faith" NRSV"through faith for faith" TEV"it is through faith, from beginning to end" NJB"it shows how faith leads to faith"

This phrase has two prepositions, ek and eis, which denote a transition or development. He uses this same structure in 2 Corinthians 2:16 and apo and eis in 2 Corinthians 3:18. Christianity is a gift which is expected to become a characteristic and a lifestyle.

There are several possibilities in translating this phrase. The Williams NT translates it as "the Way of faith that leads to greater faith." The main theological points are

1. faith comes from God ("revealed")

2. mankind must respond and continue to respond

3. faith must result in a godly life

One thing is certain, "faith" in Christ is crucial (cf. Romans 5:1; Philippians 3:9). God's offer of salvation is conditioned on a faith response (cf. Mark 1:15; John 1:12; John 3:16; Acts 3:16 and Romans 1:19; 20:21). See Special Topics at Romans 1:5; Romans 4:5; and Romans 10:4.

NASB"But the righteous man shall live by faith" NKJV"The just shall live by faith" NRSV"The one who is righteous will live by faith" TEV"He who is put right with God through faith shall live" NJB"The upright man finds life through faith"

This was a quote from Habakkuk 2:4, but not from the Masoretic Text (MT) or the Septuagint (LXX). In the OT "faith" had the expanded metaphorical meaning of "trustworthiness," "faithfulness," or "loyalty to" (see Special Topic at Romans 1:5). Saving faith is based on God's faithfulness (cf. Romans 3:5, Romans 3:21, Romans 3:22, Romans 3:25, Romans 3:26). However, human faithfulness is evidence that one has trusted in God's provision. This same OT text is quoted in Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38. The next literary unit, Romans 1:18-20, reveals the opposite of faithfulness to God.

It may be helpful to list how several modern commentators understand the last part of the phrase.

1. Vaughan: "begins in faith and ends in faith"

2. Hodge: "by faith alone"

3. Barrett: "on the basis of nothing but faith"

4. Knox: "faith first and last"

5. Stagg: "the upright out of faith shall live"

Verses 18-23

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Romans 1:18-23 18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

Romans 1:18 "for" Notice the number of times gar is used in the theme statement of verses Romans 1:16-17-three times, and now it introduces Paul's first point of the gospel (Romans 1:18-31), which is contrasted with the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16-17).

"the wrath of God" Verses Romans 1:18-23 depict the pagan world of Paul's day. Paul's characterization of the pagan world is also found in Jewish literature (cf. Wisdom of Solomon 13:1ff. and Letter of Aristeas, 134-38) and even in Greek and Roman ethical writings. The same Bible that tells us of God's love also reveals His wrath (cf. Romans 1:23-32; Romans 2:5, Romans 2:8; Romans 3:5; Romans 4:15; Romans 5:9; Romans 9:22; Romans 12:19; Romans 13:4-5).

Both wrath and love are human terms which are applied to God. They express the truth that God has a way He wants believers to respond to and live. One's willful rejection of God's will (the gospel of Christ) results in consequences both temporal, as in this verse, and eschatological (cf. Romans 2:5). However, God must not be viewed as vindictive. Judgment is His "strange work" (cf. Isaiah 28:21ff). Love is His character, compare Deuteronomy 5:9 to Romans 5:10; Romans 7:9. In Him justice and mercy predominate. Yet all will give an account to God (cf. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Galatians 6:7), even Christians (cf. Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10).


"is revealed" As the gospel is a revealed truth (Romans 1:17), so too, the wrath of God! Neither is an act of human discovery or logic.

"who suppress the truth" This referred to human willful rejection, not ignorance (cf. Romans 1:21, Romans 1:32; John 3:17-21). This phrase can mean

1. they know the truth but reject it

2. their lifestyle shows they reject the truth

3. their lives and/or words cause others not to know and receive the truth


Romans 1:19 "that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them" All humans know something of God from creation (cf. Romans 1:20; Job 12:7-10 and Psalms 19:1-6 through nature). In theology this is called "natural revelation." It is not complete, but it is the basis of God's holding responsible those who have never been exposed to God's "special revelation" in Scripture (cf. Psalms 19:7-14) or, ultimately, in Jesus (cf. Colossians 1:15; Colossians 2:9).

The term "know" was used in two senses in the NT: (1) its OT sense of intimate personal relationship (cf. Genesis 4:1; Jeremiah 1:5) and (2) its Greek sense of facts about a subject (cf. Romans 1:21). The gospel is both a Person to be welcomed and a message about that Person to be received and believed! In this verse it was used only in the sense of #2.


Romans 1:20 This verse mentions three aspects of God.

1. His invisible attributes (His character, cf. Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:27)

2. His eternal power (seen in natural creation, cf. Psalms 19:1-6)

3. His divine nature (seen in His acts and motives of creation, cf. Genesis 1-2)

"for since the creation of the world" The preposition apo is used in a temporal sense. A similar phrase is found in Mark 10:6; Mark 13:19; 2 Peter 3:4. The invisible God is now seen in

1. physical creation (this verse)

2. Scripture (Ps. 19, 119)

3. ultimately in Jesus (cf. John 14:9)

▣ "divine nature" From Greek literature theiotçs could be translated "divine majesty." This is seen supremely in Jesus. He uniquely bears the divine image (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4; Hebrews 1:3). He is God's full revelation in human form (Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:9). The wonderful truth of the gospel is that fallen mankind, through faith in Christ, will share Christlikeness (cf. Hebrews 12:10; 1 John 3:2). The image of God in humanity (cf. Genesis 1:26-27) has been restored (theios, cf. 2 Peter 1:3-4)!

NASB"have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made" NKJV"are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made" NRSV"have been understood and seen through the things he has made" TEV"have been clearly seen; they are perceived in the things that God has made" NJB"have been clearly seen by the mind's understanding of created things"

The combination of noeô (cf. Matthew 15:17) and kathoraô (both present passive) implies a true perception. God has written two books: (1) nature (cf. Psalms 19:1-6) and (2) Scripture (cf. Psalms 19:7-14). They are both capable of human understanding and demand a response (cf. Wisdom Romans 13:1-9).

"so that they are without excuse" This is literally "no legal defense." This Greek term (a plus apologeomai) is used only here and in Romans 2:1 in the NT. Remember the theological purpose of Romans 1:18-20 is to show the spiritual lostness of all mankind. Humans are responsible for the knowledge they do have. God holds humans responsible only for that which they know or could know (cf. Romans 4:15; Romans 5:13).

Romans 1:21 "for even though they knew God" Humans are not progressing religiously-they are progressively evil. Since Genesis 3:0 humanity has been going downhill. The darkness is increasing!

"they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks" This is the tragedy of pagan idolatry in Romans 1:23, Romans 1:24 (cf. Jeremiah 2:9-13). Believers "glorify" God by Christlike living (cf. Matthew 5:16; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Philippians 1:20; 1 Peter 4:11). YHWH wants a people who reflect/reveal His character to a fallen, blind world!

"but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened." The New Testament: A New Translation by Olaf M. Morlie has "rather they busied themselves with silly speculations about Him, and their stupid minds groped about in the dark." Human religious systems are monuments to spiritual rebellion and pride (cf. Romans 1:22; Colossians 2:16-23).

The word translated "futile" was used in the LXX to refer to the "vain," "non-existent" idols of Israel's neighbors. Paul was a Hebrew thinker who knew the Septuagint. The use of Greek words in the LXX is a better guide to the NT authors' thoughts than Greek lexicons.

The two verbs are aorist passive indicatives. Does the passive voice imply that their lack of understanding and proper response was because God veiled their hearts or that their rejection of the light had hardened their hearts (cf. Romans 10:12-16; 2 Kings 17:15; Jeremiah 2:5; Ephesians 4:17-19)? This is the same theological question related to Pharaoh in the exodus.

God hardened his heart Pharaoh hardened his own heart
Exodus 4:21; Romans 9:12Romans 10:20; Romans 11:10Romans 14:4; Romans 14:8Romans 14:17Exodus 8:15; Romans 8:329:34

In Rom. 9:35 the hardening could refer to God or Pharaoh. This is the mystery of divine sovereignty and human free will!

"heart" This was used in the OT sense of the entire person. However, it was often a way of referring to the thinking and feeling process. See Special Topic at Romans 1:24.

Romans 1:22

NASB, NKJV"Professing to be wise, they became fools" NRSV"Claiming to be wise, they became fools" TEV"They say they are wise, but they are fools" NJB"The more they called themselves philosophers, the more stupid they grew"

From the Greek word "fool" we get the English "moron." The problem is in mankind's pride and confidence in their own knowledge (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Colossians 2:8-23). This goes back to Genesis 3:0. Knowledge brought separation and judgment. It is not that human knowledge is always wrong, it is just not ultimate!

Romans 1:23 Willfully ignorant humans who were made in God's image (cf. Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 5:1, Genesis 5:3; Genesis 9:6) turned God into earthly images such as

1. animals (Egypt)

2. forces of nature (Persia)

3. human forms (Greece/Rome)-idols! Even God's own people did this (cf. Deuteronomy 4:15-24)

Some new forms of this old sin are

1. environmentalism (mother earth)

2. New Age eastern thought (mysticism, spiritualism, and the occult)

3. atheistic humanism (Marxism, utopianism, progressive idealism, and ultimate faith in politics or education)

4. holistic medicine (health and longevity)

5. education.

"glory" See Special Topic at Romans 3:23

"corruptible man" See Special Topic following.


Verses 24-25

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Romans 1:24-25 24Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Romans 1:24, Romans 1:26, Romans 1:28 "God gave them over" This is the worst possible judgment. It is God saying "let fallen humanity have their own way" (cf. Psalms 81:12; Hosea 4:17; Acts 7:42 quotes several OT texts on this theological issue). Verses Romans 1:23-32 describe God's rejection (temporal wrath) of the pagan world and its religiosity (and ours)! Paganism was and is characterized by sexual perversion and exploitation!

Romans 1:24 "hearts" See Special Topic following.


Romans 1:25 "exchanged the truth of God for a lie" This can be understood in several ways.

1. the self-deification of mankind (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:4, 2 Thessalonians 2:11)

2. mankind's worship of that which he has made-idols (cf. Isaiah 44:20; Jeremiah 13:25; Jeremiah 16:19) instead of YHWH who created all things (cf. Romans 1:18-23)

3. mankind's ultimate rejection of the truth of the gospel (cf. John 14:17; 1 John 2:21, 1 John 2:27)

In context #2 fits best.

"worshiped and served" Mankind will always have gods. All humans sense there is someone, some truth, or something beyond themselves.

"who is blessed forever. Amen" Paul burst into a Jewish blessing, which is so characteristic of him (cf. Romans 9:5; 2 Corinthians 11:31). Paul's prays often as he writes (cf. Romans 9:5; Romans 11:36; Romans 15:33; Romans 16:27).

"forever" See Special Topic below.


"Amen" See Special Topic below.


Verses 26-27

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Romans 1:26-27 26For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

Romans 1:26, Romans 1:27 Homosexuality is one example of life apart from God's obvious will in creation (be fruitful). It was a sin and a major cultural problem

1. in the OT (cf. Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:18)

2. in the Greco-Roman world (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10)

3. in our day

Homosexuality is probably listed as one example of the fallen life because of the entire context's orientation to Genesis 1-3. Mankind was made in God's image (cf. Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 5:1, Genesis 5:3; Genesis 9:6). Mankind was made male and female (cf. Genesis 1:27). God's command was to be fruitful and multiply (cf. Genesis 1:28; Genesis 9:1, Genesis 9:7). Mankind's fall (cf. Genesis 3:0) disrupted God's plan and will. Homosexuality is an obvious violation! However it must be stated that this is not the only sin mentioned in the context (cf. Romans 1:29-31). All sins show mankind's separation from God and their deserved punishment. All sin, especially lifestyle sin, is abhorrent to God.


Verses 28-32

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Romans 1:28-32 28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Romans 1:28-31 This is one sentence in Greek. It characterized rebellious, fallen, independent mankind (cf. Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:10; Revelation 21:8).

Humanity's sin was that they chose existence apart from God. Hell is that existence made permanent. Independence is a tragedy! Mankind needs God; he is lost, inadequate, and unfulfilled apart from Him. The worst part of an eternal hell is God's relational absence!

Romans 1:29 "a depraved mind" What fallen mankind sees as freedom is self-worship: "Anything and everything for me!" The agent of the passive voice is stated as God in Romans 1:24, Romans 1:26, Romans 1:28, but in this context's relationship to Genesis 1-3 it is mankind's choice of knowledge and self which caused the problem. God allowed His creation to suffer the consequences of their own choices, their own independence.

"being filled with" This is a perfect passive participle. Humans are filled and characterized by what they dwell upon. The rabbis would say that in every human heart is a black (evil yetzer) dog and a white (good yetzer) dog. The one who is fed the most becomes the largest.

Romans 1:29-31 These are the results and symptoms of life without God. They characterize individuals and societies who choose to reject the God of the Bible. This was one of several lists of sins that Paul gave (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 2 Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 4:31; Ephesians 5:3-4; Colossians 3:5-9).


Romans 1:30 "arrogant" This is huperçphanous (see C., 3 below).


Romans 1:32 "those who practice such things are worthy of death" This statement reflects the Law of Moses. It is summarized in Romans 6:16, Romans 6:21, Romans 6:23; Romans 8:6, Romans 8:13. Death is the opposite of God's will and God's life (cf. Ezekiel 18:32; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9).

"but also give hearty approval to those who practice them" Misery loves company. Fallen mankind uses the sins of others as an excuse, "everyone is doing it." Cultures are characterized by their particular sins!

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Romans 1". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/romans-1.html. 2021.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile