Paul opens his letter by identifying himself as a servant of Christ on a mission: Called and set apart by Christ to spread the gospel which brings grace and peace from God (1:1-7). He clearly affirms both the humanity and deity of Jesus. As a descendent of David, His human nature qualifies Him to be Israel’s Messiah (1:3-4; compare Is 11:1-5). The literal, physical resurrection of Jesus didn’t make Him God’s son, but demonstrated conclusively that He is the Son of God. Recognising this reality, in verse 4 Paul gives Jesus His appropriate title as deity: Jesus (personal name) Christ (O.T. identity as Israel’s promised Messiah) our Lord (identification with Yahweh, the personal name of God).
This has only just dawned on me preparing these notes, that every time I declare ‘Jesus Christ my Lord’ I am recognising Him as both Man, Messiah and God all at the same time - Hallelujah!
Paul longs to visit Rome, as their faith is being reported all over the world. I find this interesting that from the place where the great Roman Empire tried to ‘snuff out’ Christianity, faith in Christ is growing!
Paul is 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’ (Rom 1:16; also see Rom 2: 11). Paul then goes on to explain that God has made plain the things about Himself through all His creation, including human beings, so that no one is with an excuse (v.18-20).
Man’s sinfulness is not seen just in wicked acts but in the way people respond to God. Paul says that mankind ‘knew God’ but chose another path (v.21-23). Therefore there are consequences which Paul lists, the ultimate depravity in morals, sexual lifestyles (v.26-27); in character, wickedness and greed (v.28-29); in relationships, envy, murder, deceit, and malice (v30-31); in polity, publicly approving those things they know God condemns (v.32).
At this point most of Paul’s Jewish readers would with delight ‘pass judgement’ on the Gentiles Paul describes in v.26-32, but Paul quickly silences them, saying that they are the same (Rom 2:1-4) and that they are storing up judgement against themselves (v.5-9).
Paul in essence says God does not judge by what men approve, but by what they do, and He treats all mankind the same (v.11).
Prayer: Father, thank you that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Thank you Holy Spirit, for revealing Jesus to me so that I can truly call him Jesus Christ my Lord. Hallelujah! Amen.