Teaching and Commentary on ROMANS 1-5
Updated: Jul 26
Dr. Bill Peters teaching and commentary on
An EXPOSITION by W.J. Ern Baxter
New Covenant Publications Canada
I. RIGHTEOUSNESS NEEDED BY SINFUL MAN
II. RIGHTEOUSNESS PROVIDED BY GOD
III. RIGHTEOUSNESS RECEIVED THROUGH FAITH
IV. RIGHTEOUSNESS EXPERIENCED IN LIFE
These studies were organized and presented to Bible study groups in the churches where the author has been privileged to serve as pastor. They were first issued in this form when being given to the congregation of Christian Centre, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada in 1970-72.
While the entire book was expounded, only the material in chapters 1 - 5 was made available in print. It is our intention to issue three more similar study manuals. The second one will cover chapters 6 - 8, the third one chapters 9 - 11, and the fourth one, chapters
12 - 16.
In ministering, there was no attempt to bring the study "workshop" to the people,
but rather to offer in the simplest and hopefully, most understandable form, an understanding of the text.
This material has been received warmly and appreciatively by the members of the various congregations we have been permitted to serve, and we trust it will have some usefulness beyond this limited area of responsibility.
"RIGHTEOUSNESS" is the key word in the Roman epistle.
It means “BEING RIGHT". This is the whole of the salvation matter - how can a man be "right" with God first of all, and then "right" in relation to every other person, and thing, as a result of being "right" with God?
Righteousness is the "essential characteristic of the Gospel as brought forth in this epistle”. It reveals not only God's love, mercy, and grace, but MAINLY HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS. God, being perfect in all His ways, is infinitely righteous in His character. In the Gospel is revealed the way by which sinners can become righteous through the gift of His grace .
Righteousness in this epistle "is that righteousness which His own righteousness required Him to require”.
~It is “the sum total of all that God commands, demands, approves, and provides”.
~It is "that righteousness which avails before God, which meets and secures His approval”.
~It is "CHRIST JESUS ...made unto us ...RIGHTEOUSNESS" (1 Cor. 1:30).
There are many fine outlines of this epistle available, however, we are going to use a modified form of the outline given by Dr. Griffith Thomas in his work on Romans.
I. RIGHTEOUSNESS NEEDED BY SINFUL MEN (1:16-3:20)
In this section, Paul depicts universal unrighteousness, and delivers an unanswerable indictment against the whole human race. "ALL HAVE SINNED!" Therefore, ALL ARE UNRIGHTEOUS and must secure a righteousness outside of themselves if they
would stand before a holy God.
II. RIGHTEOUSNESS PROVIDED BY GOD (3:21-26)
God has REVEALED HIS PLAN for providing sinful men with the divinely required
righteousness through Jesus Christ.
Ill. RIGHTEOUSNESS RECEIVED THROUGH FAITH (3:27-4:25)
Man must abandon all hope of providing his own righteousness, and cast himself in faith upon the promise of God which declares that God will justify the ungodly man who believes.
IV. RIGHTEOUSNESS EXPERIENCED IN LIFE 15:1-8:39)
As we are righteous BEFORE GOD through Jesus Christ, so we are righteous in LIVING EXPERIENCE as Jesus Christ the Righteous One lives in and through us by the Holy Spirit. What Christ accomplished FOR us in His great redemptive act, He works out IN us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
V. RIGHTEOUSNESS REJECTED BY THE JEWISH NATION (Ch. 9-11)
Religiously zealous, the Jewish nation ·in its unbelief and rebellion rejected Jesus Christ, and in turn were rejected by Him.
VI. RIGHTEOUSNESS MANIFESTED IN PRACTICAL LIFE (Ch. 12·16)
"Righteousness is as righteousness does." Having received "the gift of righteousness''
(5:17), the believer should "be right" in every relationship of life.
In three epistles Habakkuk 2:4 is quoted• "The just shall live by faith." In each usage the emphasis is on a different part of the verse.
A. Romans 1:17 · "THE JUST shall live by faith."
The purpose of the Roman Epistle is to reveal how a sinner is made just before God, therefore the emphasis is on the first two words, ''THE J:.JST".
B. Galatians 3:11 · "The just SHALL LIVE by faith."
Justification makes possible the reception of the Holy Spirit, and as the believer walks in faith the Holy Spirit reproduces the LI FE of Christ in him. The Galatians had "begun in the Spirit" but had been influenced by false teachers who "seduced" them from complete dependence on the Spirit to dependence on religious works and they were seeking to be "made perfect by the flesh" (3:3). Justified life is
life in the Spirit. Romans tells us how a sinner can be justified, while Galatians shows that the justified man lives by faith.
C. Hebrews 10:38 - "The just shall live BY FAITH."
The quotation of the Habakkuk passage in Hebrews is followed by the great section on faith in Hebrews 11. It is by believing and responding to the Word of God that just men live. "Without faith it is impossible to please him" (Heb. 11 :6).
EVALUATIONS OF THE EPISTLE BY NOTABLE SERVANTS OF GOD
"Hearing read, as I do continually, the Epistles of the blessed Paul ... I delight in the enjoyment of his spiritual trumpet, and my heart leaps up, and my longings set me glowing, as I recognize the voice so dear to me, and seem to image the speaker all but present to me, and to see him in discourse. But I mourn and am distressed, because all do not know this man as they should know him . . . . It is from hence our myriad evils spring - from our ignorance of the Scriptures. Hence grows this epidemic of our heresies; hence our neglected lives, hence our unfruitful toil."
Chrysostom (4th Century)
"Forasmuch as this Epistle to the Romans is a light and way unto the whole Scriptures, I think it meet that every Christian man not only know it, by rote and without any book, but also exercise himself therein evermore continually, as with the daily run of the soul. The more it is chewed, the pleasanter it is, and the more groundly it is searched, the preciouser things are found in it, so great a store of spiritual things lieth hid therein."
Martin Luther (Translation by Wm. Tyndale)
"The superlative excellency of this Epistle!" Matthew Henry
"The most profound work in existence." Coleridge
"The greatest and richest of all apostolic works." Godet
"The greatest and richest of all apostolic works.” Meyer
"The Epistle of the Epistles.” Schaff
"That grand summary of the doctrine and practice of Christianity, the Epistle to the Romans.” Conybeare and Howson
"The thorough study of the Epistle is really a theological education in itself.”
"He who attempts to expound the Epistle to the Romans, when his sacred task is
over, is little disposed to speak about his commentary; he is occupied rather with an ever deeper reverence and wonder over the Text which he has been permitted to handle, a Text so full of a marvelous man, above all so full of God.” Bishop Moule
SALUTATlON AND INTRODUCTION
Paul had not yet been to Rome at the time this letter was written. His salutation anri. introduction is somewhat more elaborate than in other letters which he addressed to churches where he was personally known. This has value for us, since we are given a more extensive written account of Paul's life and activities than we might otherwise have nad.
Also, he must be more explicit about his beliefs and teaching in this letter, for the Romans have not heard him preach. Consequently, these opening verses are significantly valuable in giving us certain insights into the nature of apostolic life and times. We will consider this section under the headings •
A. THE SERVANT PAUL
Remember, this is a letter. It is not a systematic listing of the nature and qualifications of an Apostle. However, as Paul speaks of himself in addressing the Romans, we are provided with a verbal portrait that is most informative.
1. A SERVANT "Paul, a SERVANT of Jesus Christ" (vs. 1).
Slavery was a part of the social order of Paul's day. A slave was one who was under the absolute control of his master. His master owned him. Paul used this fact of life to indicate his relationship to his Master, Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, in Old Testament times, there were laws governing the master slave relationship. A slave under law was to be released at the end of seven years. However, if he had grown to love his master, he could then choose to stay with him forever and be his master's "love-slave". When this choice was made, the Bible tells us that "his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall SERVE HIM FOREVER" (Ex. 21 :6). The pierced ear probably meant that he would give loving and absolute obedience to his master's voice. Paul was such a love-slave.
The Greek word for slave is "doulos". It is the word which is used to describe the great men of God in the Old Testament. Moses was the servant, or slave of
the Lord (Josh. 1 :2) as were many others. It was a high honor for one to be a king's slave. What an honor to be the slave of King Jesus!
2. AN APOSTLE · "Called to be an APOSTLE" (vs. 1).
The word "called" means "chosen or appointed". When GOd had arrested Paul on the Damascus road, He had made known to him that he was "a CHOSEN vessel unto Me; to bear My Name" (Acts 9:15). An "apostle" is "an envoy,
missionary, an immediate delegate from the Lord, one sent to execute a commission". Paul knew he had been "called" and he knew what he had been called to be. Do we?
He was "an apostle by divine election, and a servant by personal devotion".
3. SEPARATED· "SEPARATED unto the Gospel" (vs. 1).
This very word is used twice of Paul. He was "SEPARATED from his mother's womb" in the PURPOSE of God (Gal. 1:15); and "SEPARATED unto the work" in the PROGRAM of God (Acts 13:2i. The word means, "to designate, to mark out by fixed limits, to bound, as a field". Paul was "set apart, or isolated from all other ruling aims". The Gospel was his "field".
4. RECIPIENT· "By Whom we have RECEIVED grace and apostleship" (vs. 5).
Paul had received two things. He had received "grace" for SALVATION,
and "apostleship" as the area of SE RV ICE. Every child of God has received a grace salvation and a divinely appointed place of service. Grace always precedes service. God never gives us work to do without first enabling us for the assignment.
5. THANKFUL· "I THANK my God ... for you all" (vs. 8).
Paul thanked God for the Christian community in general. We have all experienced that sense of gratitude to God for the wonderful fellowship of believers. Paul however, is also specific. He mentions the fact that the faith of the Roman Christians is "spoken of throughout the whole world". It is to be observed in all of Paul's writings, that he gives thanks for all the good he knows of his brethren. It seems so characteristic of men to be more often critical than complimentary.
Wherever possible Paul expressed praise and wherever necessary addressed censure.
6. SINCERE· "I serve V''ITH MY SPIRIT in the Gospel of His Son" (vs. 9).
The word "serve" indicates a service of worship. Worship is basic to all Christian service. Paul's service "in the Gospel" was "with his spirit". It was done with his whole heart, not external service only, but internal, real and sincere.
7. PRAYERFUL• "Without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers" (vs. 9).
Paul made a practice of systematically praying for "all saints". Since no one could know for sure that Paul was sincere or that he prayed unceasingly, he calls God to witness. He takes the solemn position of declaring that God knows he is telling the truth, both about his service in the Gospel and his prayer life.
8. SUBMITTING - "If by any means I might have a prosperous journey BY THE WI LL OF GOD to come unto you" (vs. 10).
He was submissive to "the will of God" in matters of circumstance. Whether
his trip to Rome was "prosperous" or not depends on one's point of view. It certainly was rough and physically distressing. None of these things moved Paul in his commitment to his Master.
"So God grants prayers, but in His love,
Makes ways and times His own."
9. IMPARTING· "That I may IMPART unto you some spiritual gift" (vs. 11 ).
God's servant must be an "imparter". He has been called to dispense the good gifts of God. Not to gain popularity, prestige, or material wealth, but rather to g: ·1e. Spiritual I gifts, as in 1 Car. 12 are doubtless intended, as well as all other spiritual enablements the apostle may be able to impart.
10. SHARING· "That I may be of comforted TOGETHER WITH YOU by the mutual faith both of you and me" (vs. 12).
Paul wasn't above receiving from his fellow Christians . As an apostle, he had a rich deposit of truth and inspiration and could offer a great deal to his brethren, however, he was still a member of "the body" and needed the nourishment and strength that other "members" could minister to him. No servant of God can function without the mutual sharing of the Christian life supply that is ministered not just through one but through the many.
11. EAGER · "Oftentimes I PURPOSED TO COME unto you, that I might have
some fruit among you" (vs. 13 ).
Paul was not disinclined to minister because of laziness or indifference. He often wanted to get to Rome and share with them the good things of God, but various other demands had thus far hindered. It was not from lack of eagerness that he had not come to them.
12. INDEBTED· "I am a DEBTOR" (vs. 14).
Lee has pointed out that Paul was a threefold debtor. He owed·
a. The debt of a trustee
If someone is entrusted with a sum of money for you, the moment they take possession of that sum, they become your debtor. God had entrusted the Gospel to Paul for a perishing world.
b. The debt of an ambassador
An ambassador, entrusted with an important message to a foreign state, is in debt to that state until he has delivered that message. We are the ambassadors of Christ, entrusted by Him with an important message for lost men.
c. The debt of a brother
We owe our fellow-man assistance if we see him in need. This is a recognized law. Paul knew men were in desperate need. He must warn them and assist them out of their peril.
13. PREPARED· "I AM READY to preach the Gospel" (vs. 15).
It is not enough to acknowledge indebtedness. There must be a readiness to pay. Paul recognized his debt and was prepared to pay.
14. BOASTING -- "I AM NOT ASHAMED of the Gospel of Christ" (vs. 16).
Dr. Moffatt translates this in the positive - "I AM PROUD of the Gospel".
Paul was humble about himself but proud of his product. He would bring a "power" to the capital of the most powerful nation in the world about which they knew nothing. He had a superior product and he was justly proud of it.