Romans 1 - Outline of Romans (Book Notes menu page)
This epistle {letter} answers the ancient question: ''How can man be just before God?'' (Job 9:2)
by stating that the Gospel of Christ reveals a righteousness from God (Rom 1:17) for those who merit the wrath of God (1:18).
This epistle provides the most complete NT examination of ''the righteousness of God''
as it applies to the salvation of the believing sinner, the sanctification of the Spirit indwelt saint, and the reconciliation of God's promises to Israel with His provision for believing Gentiles.
A careful comparison of the scripture text with the Outline of Romans should assist the reader in following the apostle's argument.
The reader should also observe that the teaching of this epistle distinguishes between
''sin'' {ie., man's sinful nature} and ''sins'' {ie., the works of that nature}. Christ, as the believer's justification, releases him from the doom of judgment for his sins (1:16-5:11). Christ, as the believer's sanctification, releases him from the dominion of sin (5:12-8:39). [adapted from GWms]

I. Greetings and Theme - (1:1-17)
1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,
called [to be] an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
1:2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)
1:3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
which was made of the seed of David according to
{ie., as pertaining to} the flesh;
1:4 And declared [to be] the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness,
by the resurrection from the dead:
1:5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship,
for obedience to the faith among all nations
{cp. Psa 22:27-31; 68:31},
for his name
{cp. Eph 1:12}:
1:6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:
1:7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called [to be] saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The author identifies himself as...
  • Paul- his name means ''little.''
  • a servant {lit., bondservant} of Jesus Christ-
    A bondservant was totally and irrevocably the possession of another. His sole purpose in life was to please his master. In the OT, a Jewish servant was offered his freedom after seven years. However, he could voluntarily become a bondservant (Ex 21:1-6). Likewise, Christ will not force anyone to serve Him (cp. Luk 13:34; Joh 5:40).
    From the moment of his conversion, Paul bound himself as a slave to Christ: 'Who art thou, Lord?... What wilt thou have me to do?' (Acts 9:4-6)
    What do you mean, when you call Christ, 'Lord'? Luk 6:46
  • called to be an apostle {lit., 'a sent one'}- the phrase is lit., 'a called sent one.' cp. Jer 1:4-10
    The messenger & his message must always be subservient to the One who sent him. Joh 13:16
    Many who claim to represent the Lord have not been sent by Him. cp. Jer 23:21,22; 2Pet 2:1
    Some claim authority, as sent by church leaders. But Paul's call was direct from the Lord (1Cor 9:16; Gal 1:1,10-19; 1Tim 1:1).
    Paul was eligible to be a NT apostle since he had seen the risen Christ. cp. Acts 1:22; 1Cor 9:1; 15:8,9
  • separated unto the Gospel of God...-
    'Separated' is GK=aphorizo, 'from the boundaries,' 'from the limits.'
    Compare the English word 'horizon,' which is the boundary (limit) between earth and sky.
    Paul rejoiced in being 'marked off' from other pursuits to proclaim the 'good news'. 1Tim 1:11-17
    By 'separation unto...' the Gospel, the believer's 'horizons' have been broadened, not narrowed (as in legalism, which is a 'separation from...'). We have been released from bondage to the earthly to serve the heavenly. We are given freedom from the struggles with temptation, and power to soar above them.
The Gospel (unto which Paul was separated) is described as...
  1. of God- It is the 'good news' which God Himself has designed, defined, and declared.
    Paul sometimes refers to it as 'my gospel' (eg., Rom 2:16). But it is his only because of his identification with the Lord.
  2. promised by God, through His prophets and His written Word (v.2; cp. Luk 24:27).
  3. concerning {GK=peri, surrounding, encircling} His Son...-
    The Gospel is centered around Jesus Christ our Lord,
    • who was fully man, pertaining by nature to the family of King David (v.3).
    • who was fully God, pertaining by nature to the Holy Spirit (v.4),
      as His resurrection 'declared' {GK=horizo, marked out by a clearly visible division. cp. 1Cor 15:47}. The resurrection did not make Him God's Son, but rather identified Him for what He already was.
      The resurrection demonstrated the truth...
      1. of His testimony concerning Himself (Joh 2:18-22; 8:23), and
      2. of Mary's story concerning His virgin birth (cp. Luk 1:35).
      Christ's resurrection was "with power"-
      1. The power of God to raise Him (Acts 5:30,31; Eph 1:19-23).
      2. The power of God vested in Christ, who is in heaven interceding for His own, and who will return from there to judge the earth. cp. Mat 28:18; Acts 17:31
      3. The power of God for salvation: ''The resurrection of Christ is the central potency of salvation. Both justification & sanctification are secured by it. These things rest not on our ability to keep the Mosaic Law, but on the power of an endless life for all who believe.'' Heb 7:16 [Stifler]
by whom {ie., the resurrected Christ} we {ie., the apostles} have received...-
  • grace- ie., God's gracious provision of...
    1. the message of God's mercy through Christ, to all who believe (Rom 3:24).
    2. the ministry of proclaiming the message of salvation by Grace, and the enabling to fulfill the task entrusted to them. (eg., 2Cor 5:18-21)
  • apostleship- ''a sending forth''
    ie., The commissioning, authority and responsibility to carry the message of God's grace.
for obedience to the faith among all nations...-
This was the purpose of Christ's gifts to the apostles.
Obedience to the faith involves believing the truth concerning the grace of God in Christ, and living accordingly. 'Believing' and 'doing' go together. cp. Rom 6:17; 16:19,25-26
That is, 'doctrine' and 'discipline' are complementary, as seen in this basic outline of Romans:
  1. Doctrine, ch.1-11 (the Faith, defined from scripture)
  2. Discipline, ch.12-16 (the Faith, demonstrated in practical living)
Belief in Christ should make a profound difference in my life, as one 'separated unto' Him.
...for His name.-
Obedience to the faith exalts the name of Christ. (see Acts 15:14; Eph 1:6,12; 1Pet 2:9,10)
The Gospel is not merely a set of precepts to be believed, or principles to be practiced. It is a Person to be trusted and obeyed: the living Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have received grace and for whom we live.
obedience... among all nations... among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ...-
Many, who have heard the apostolic message about Christ, do not know Him personally.
The called are those who have heard Him and follow Him. Joh 10:27
To all that be in Rome...-
  • beloved of God- God regards each believer, as He regards His Son. Eph 1:6
  • called [to be] saints {GK=hagios, holy}- ie., those who are set apart for Christ.
    The bracketed words 'to be' (italicized in the KJV), are not in the GK text. Believers are 'called saints' or 'called as saints.' Sainthood is not a potential future status, but the present reality for those who belong to Christ, because we are 'marked out' or 'separated unto' Him.
    All true believers are saints, having been set apart unto God by the blood of Christ. Heb 10:10-14
    A 'saint' is not one who has been elevated by the church, but one who has been ''raised up together'' with Jesus Christ. Eph 2:4-9
grace & peace... - is the lot of those who have such a standing before the Lord. Rom 5:1,2
1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all,
that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
1:9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son,
that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;
1:10 Making request, if by any means now at length
I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.
1:11 For I long to see you,
that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;
1:12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you
by the mutual faith both of you and me.
1:13 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren,
that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,)
that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.
Paul begins his letter from the position of prayer.-
  • 'First...'- the priority of prayer.
  • 'I thank my God...'- the priority in prayer.
    Paul rejoiced in their response to the Gospel message.
    They had become obedient to the Faith. v.5,6; cp. 1The 1:5-10
  • 'through Jesus Christ...'- the access to God for prayer. Joh 14:6; Heb 10:19-22
  • 'without ceasing... always...'- Paul exercised faithfulness & persistence in prayer.
    But he did so in private, in the secret place, not to be seen of men. cp. Mat 6:6
    'God is my witness'- only He knew the reality of Paul's prayer life.
    'whom I serve with my spirit...'- Paul poured himself into his ministry. Whether preaching or praying, he gave it all he had. cp. v.15
  • 'making request...'- the petition of prayer.
    The servant looks to his Master for provisioning for the task. cp. Psa 123:2
    1. 'if by any means... by the will of God...'-
      The servant asks in submission & surrender to God's will.
    2. 'that I might have a prosperous journey...'-
      Near the end of his third missionary journey, "Paul purposed in the spirit" to visit Rome. This letter to the Romans was written around that time, as he traveled first to Jerusalem, in about 60 AD (Acts 19:21).
          Paul did travel to Rome a few years later. His route would be through a long imprisonment, a storm at sea, a shipwreck, a snake bite... Although physically costly, his journey would prove spiritually prosperous. (See Acts ch.21-28 for the full account.)
      Despite the hardships, his journey would indeed be 'by the will of God.'
  • 'for I long to see you...'- the motivations to pray: love (v.11) and responsibility (v.14) for others.
    1. 'That I may impart some spiritual gift... that ye may be established {stabilized, fixed}.'-
      'Establishing' is the work of God (2Cor 1:21,22), which is accomplished by the Word of God (2Pet 1:12).
      'Spiritual gifts' are for the purpose of establishing the church. Eph 4:11-14
      Paul himself was a gift to the church, as he taught the Word of God to build up believers in the Faith. Col 2:7; 1The 3:2
    2. 'That I may be comforted together {GK= sumparakaleos, to come alongside together} with you...'-
      Ministry is not one way (ie., preacher to pews), but rather every member has a part in building up the Body. As Christ and the Holy Spirit 'come alongside' to minister to and with the Body, so believers are to encourage one another. Compare the application of these similar NT words:
      • GK= parakletis, 'comforter'. re: the Holy Spirit. Joh 14:16; 15:26
      • GK= paraklesis, the 'consolation' of Israel. re: the Messiah (Luk 2:25);
        our 'advocate' with the Father. re: Christ. 1Joh 2:1
      • GK= parakaleo, exhortation, encouragement. re: believer to believer ministry. Rom 12:8; Heb 10:25; cp. Eph 4:13-16
  • 'That I may have some fruit among you also...'-
    Although 'fruit' can refer to new converts, Paul specifically desires fruit (ie., spiritual growth) 'among' the believers to whom he is writing. The church had already been planted in Rome. Paul was looking forward proclaiming the Gospel to unreached people, beyond Rome, in Spain (Rom 15:24; cp. 2Cor 10:16). On the way, Paul wanted to build up the saints in Rome, to enable them to proclaim the Gospel in their region (cp. 1The 1:6-8). However, since he would not have built on another man's foundation (Rom 15:20), the church there was probably established by some of Paul's converts (eg., Priscilla & Aquilla, cp. 16:3-5).
1:14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians;
both to the wise, and to the unwise.
1:15 So, as much as in me is,
I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:
for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;
to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith:
as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Here are the three 'I ams' of Paul.-
1. I am debtor... - cp. Rom 8:12; 15:27
The Gospel has been entrusted to believers. We are trustees of great riches offered to all men. (To the Greek mind, 'Greek and Barbarian' encompassed the whole spectrum of humanity.) cp. Rom 13:8a; 2Cor 5:14,15,19
2. I am ready {ie., predisposed, willing}...- cp. v.9
Paul was eager to pay his 'debt' at Rome, as soon as circumstances would allow.
3. I am not ashamed...- cp. Mark 8:38
  • Why might he have been ashamed of the Gospel of Christ?
    1. Christianity, at that time, was a 'poor' religion, boasting no great temples, etc.
      Today, true Christianity still does not lay up treasures in the earth.
    2. The Gospel goes against natural human thinking. It is not popular.
      The world considers it 'foolish' and offensive (1Cor 1:18-25; Gal 5:11; 2Tim 3:12).
  • Why was Paul not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ? Because...
    1. the Gospel is the power {GK=dunamis, strength, ability} of God.-
      It is the effective work of God to meet man's desperate need.
      1. unto salvation {GK=soteria, deliverance}-
        It is effective for delivering men from the penalty, power and presence of sin. All facets of salvation are in view here, from justification to glorification.
      2. to everyone... the Jew first and also to the Greek {ie., gentile}-
        The offer of salvation extends worldwide to every people group.
        Chronologically, it was offered 'first' to the Jew, and later to gentiles (Acts 1:8; 13:46).
      3. to everyone that believes.- The Gospel is limited, in its effectiveness, by the condition of faith in Jesus Christ. cp. Joh 1:10-12; Rom 10:14
    2. the Gospel reveals 'righteousness from God'-
      (In v.17, the definite article is not present in the GK text.)
      'The righteousness of God' is the theme of this epistle.
      • Righteousness is one of God's attributes. When we see Him in His righteousness, we are convicted of our unrighteousness (cp. Isa 6:1-5).
      • As applied to man, Righteousness ''is the state commanded by God, and standing the test of His judgment; the character and acts of a man approved of Him, in virtue of which the man corresponds with God and His will as His ideal and standard.'' [Dr. Cremer, quoted by JVMcGee]
      • God demands righteousness from man. But man cannot provide it (Isa 64:6).
        If a man is to be acceptable before God, he must receive 'righteousness from God' (Php 3:9).
      • This righteousness, supplied by God, is...
        1. 'by faith'- It cannot be earned. It is put on one's account in exchange for simple trust in God's provision (Rom 4:21-25).
        2. 'from faith to faith'-
          Note that righteousness is 'revealed' by the Gospel, not by 'faith.'
          Yet, 'faith' is central to the character of this revealed righteousness.
          It is a righteousness {literally:} 'out of faith into faith' (or, 'by faith for faith'}. It begins by faith, it continually matures by faith, and it culminates in faith. It is a life of trusting God (as opposed to a life of self-sufficiency). In v.17, Paul quotes Hab 2:4. In the context of that verse, the "soul that is lifted up" (being self-confident and independent of God) is contrasted with the soul whose confidence is wholly in God, not in himself.
          A few elements of life 'from faith to faith' include:
          • by faith I see that God is righteous, and I am condemned in my sin (v.17,18).
            Gal 3:10-12 (where, in v.11, Hab 2:4 is also quoted), says that because I cannot do (fulfill) what God's law requires, I am cursed (under His condemnation).
          • by faith I receive forgiveness of sin. Joh 3:14-18,36
          • by faith I am clothed in Christ's righteousness before God. Php 3:9
          • by faith I grow more like Him in action, word and thought. Gal 2:20
          • by faith I proclaim the message of redemption, despite opposition. cp. 2Cor 5:7-11; Heb 11:6,7
          • by faith I endure present trials, assured of God's promises.
            eg., Job could not understand his losses, but he trusted his God (Job 13:15).
            2Cor 4:8-18; Heb 10:35-39 (where, in v.38, Hab 2:4 is also quoted)
          • by faith I wait for His provision, and for His coming. Psa 62:5; 130:5; Titus 2:11-14
    3. the Gospel provides deliverance from the wrath of God (v.18; cp. Heb 2:3).
Paul's introductory comments concerning 'the righteousness of God' (above)
have touched on topics that will be dealt with more fully as the epistle continues.
Where would you begin to explain the Gospel of Christ?
with God's love? with His desire for our good?
The Holy Spirit led Paul to choose another starting point.
II. Righteousness Needed - Condemnation for Sin (1:18-3:20)
1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven
against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,
who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
The wrath of God is revealed... against all... unrighteousness...-
The power of the Gospel 'unto salvation' is not appreciated without an understanding of our sinful condition, and our need for deliverance from sin.
- - Why do we need 'a righteousness from God'?
Because we are about to perish under His wrath because of our sin.
Paul is not attempting to prove that man is a sinner. He is stating fact. Man is sinful. God is righteous. We cannot stand for long in direct conflict with the very nature of God. cp. Joel 2:11; Mal 3:1,2
the wrath {GK=orge} of God...- The word 'orge' speaks of God's 'abiding passion against sin.'
He is intense in His anger, even though, for the moment, He withholds judgment. This word is often used in concert with the GK word 'thumos,' which speaks of the 'heat' of His anger. eg., Rom 2:8 (indignation {orge} and wrath {thumos}); Rev 16:19; 19:15 (the 'fierceness' {orge} of His 'wrath' {thumos}). revealed {lit., 'is being revealed'} -
Some see the God of the OT as a God of wrath, and the God of the NT as a God of love. But He has not changed. In every age, God reveals His anger against sin, regularly and continually. Psa 90:7-10
...against all ungodliness {GK=asebeia, impiety, irreligion} -
Ungodliness (in attitude or action) is disrespect or defiance of God's Person or character.
...and unrighteousness {GK=adikia, injustice, immorality} of men...-
Unrighteousness (in attitude or action) is 'wrong' against men, because it denies the rule of God (and defies the rules of justice and morality which God has established for man's benefit). cp. Psa 103:6
Note the order: Immorality follows irreligion.
Likewise, unrighteousness follows rejection of what is 'right,' as defined by the Holy God.
...who 'hold' the truth in unrighteousness- (cf. the same word trans. 'hold fast' in 1The 5:21,22)
These men, though aware of the truth, suppress it, smothering it under their preference for evil. Again, we see the pride of sinful man versus the humility of those who are declared righteous by faith (Hab 2:4).
1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest {ie., made evident} in them;
for God hath shewed [it]
{ie., made it evident} unto them.
1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen,
being understood by the things that are made,
[even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
The creation reveals the reality of God to all men.
Two specific things about God are clearly demonstrated by the natural world.-
  1. The supernatural power of God.-
    The closer we look at the things that have been created, whether we look out at the world and universe around us, or look inward at the workings of our own bodies, the more evident it should be that these things did not just occur by themselves. There must have been a Designer. There must have been a Builder and Maker, who had the power to frame the worlds from things which do not appear (Heb 11:3). This powerful Creator must have existed apart from what He created, and prior to the beginning of time. He must be eternal, without beginning or end.
    cp. Psa 8:3,4; 19:1-3; 139:14; Acts 14:17
  2. The deity {GK=theiotes, divine nature, godhead} of His Person.-
    The Creator of intelligent beings must Himself be an intelligent Being, who is far above (greatly superior to) those whom He has created. Furthermore, this Being is not an impersonal force, for the Creator's personhood is reflected in the beings which He has created. Acts 17:29
        By observing the creation, we, who are created beings, have a limited understanding of who God is. However, we should not imagine that the Creator has limited understanding of His creatures (cp. Isa 40:26-28; Psa 94:9).
        Although our understanding of God is very limited, through "general revelation" (the wordless revelation of His character through His creation), God has made known much more about Himself through the "special revelation" in His written Word, and in His Son (Col 2:9; Heb 1:1-3). Through the Word of God, we can come to know His Person, and His purposes. The Gospel of Christ "reveals" a righteousness from God which could not be known apart from the Bible which speaks of the Savior. Yet, even without the Bible, men are under God's wrath for rejecting "what may be known" and "clearly seen" about God, through creation alone.
The revelation, of these things about God, through the creation...
  • is not 'dim' but 'clearly seen' by all.
  • is read and interpreted to man's heart by God Himself. God has 'made it evident' to everyman.
  • leaves man 'without excuse' (or, 'inexcusable') for his willful ignorance of God. cp. Psa 14:1
1:21 Because that, when they knew God,
they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful;
but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
1:23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image
made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
Man responds irrationally to the revelation of God in nature.
Paul lists man's seven steps downward (in v.21-23)-
  1. they knew God {past tense} - Man is moving away from God. According to the traditions of all primitive tribes, their people once knew their creator. But none lived up to the light they had. Rather than advancing, man regresses as he forsakes his knowledge of the One who is the beginning of all things.
  2. they glorified {ie., honored} Him not as God.- Man does not give God His rightful place. He considers himself self-sufficient, without need of God. In effect, he elevates himself to the status of God.
  3. [they were not] thankful.- If you deny your dependence upon Another, why should you express gratitude to Him for life and all that sustains life?
  4. they became vain in their imaginations {GK=dialogismos, debate, discussion}.-
         ie., they engaged in 'empty reasonings.'
    Having been given a mind to comprehend God's creation, man seeks to explain his own existence, and the order of the universe, apart from "the eternal power and Godhead" of his Creator (cp. 1Cor 1:20,21).
    A few examples of man's 'wisdom'--
    • Astrology and horoscopes (The stars determine our destinies).
    • Theory of evolution (Chaos and time produced the cells from which man evolved... life is not from God... we are not accountable to Him... we have the right to determine our own destiny... man is the highest order of being.)
    • Various philosophies (Truth, if it exists at all, exists only in the mind of man).
  5. their foolish heart was darkened.- Having invented their own religious and social systems,
    which exclude the light of God's self-revelation, man revels in his self-enlightenment.
    The result, of man's refusal of the Truth, is his inability to discriminate between truth & error.
    The evidence of man's moral darkness is seen in the streets of our cities, and on the screens of our TV's. cp. Gen 6:5; Eph 4:17-19; Joh 3:19
  6. they became fools, while affirming their own wisdom.-
    cp. Isa 47:10,11; 1Cor 1:25; 3:18,19
  7. they changed the glory of... God... into an image like man... beasts...- cp. Psa 106:19,20
    They distorted God's likeness, from the 'uncorruptible' to the 'corruptible.'
    They preferred to worship the 'mortal,' rather than the Immortal, giving themselves to serve the 'decaying,' rather than the Ever Living One.
    Forgetting that man was made in God's image & likeness, they became unduly focused on lesser creatures, and on the creations of their own hands. cp. Psa 115:1-8; Isa 44:9-20
    It is not that man is not religious, but that his religion has degenerated from the knowledge of the true God. cp. Deu 4:15-19
1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness
through the lusts of their own hearts,
to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie
{lit., 'the lie'},
and worshipped and served the creature
more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections:
for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman,
burned in their lust one toward another;
men with men
{lit., 'male with male'} working
that which is unseemly
{ie., not fitting, shameful},
and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error
which was meet
{ie., fitting, proper, necessary}.
1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge,
God gave them over to a reprobate
{ie., unapproved, rejected} mind,
to do those things which are not convenient
{ie., not fit, not acceptable};
1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness,
{GK=porneia, illicit sexual activities},
{GK=poneria, depravity, the intentional working of evil},
{ie., greed for material gain},
{ie., vicious character, working evil without regard for laws};
full of envy, murder, debate
{ie., strife, contention}, deceit {ie., guile, subtilty},
{ie., characteristically causing suffering, distress, and harm};
{ie., slanderers},
1:30 Backbiters
{ie., those who defame (speak evil of) others},
haters of God, despiteful
{ie., insolent},
{ie., over estimating their self-importance},
{ie., empty pretenders},
inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
1:31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers,
without natural affection
{ie., lacking the ability to cherish family & friends},
{ie., unable to be pacified (requiring their own way)}, unmerciful:
1:32 Who knowing
{lit., fully knowing} the judgment {ie., rendered sentence} of God,
that they which commit such things are worthy of death,
not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
God gave them up {lit., 'handed them over'}...- (This phrase occurs 3x) -
God responded with definite action (not a passive attitude), to man's willful rebellion against Him.
  1. God gave them up - to uncleanness {GK= akatharsia, lit., 'not purified'}, v.24
    This refers to moral impurity.
    God created us 'male and female' in order to show us something about Himself. Gen 1:27
    In the context for which He designed it, sex is a beautiful and holy thing. Heb 13:4
    The depth of man's degeneration can be measured by his perversion of sex.
  2. God gave them up - to vile affections {ie., passions of dishonor or depravity}- v.25-27
    Because they 'exchanged the truth of God for the lie,' God gave them over to live according to the lie. 'The lie' is the willful worship of whatever is 'not God' (eg., an idol, a man, self, or Satan. cp. Joh 8:44; 2The 2:8-12).
        They live according to their false premise (that the creature is to be honored above the Creator, v.25), giving themselves to passions that run contrary to the laws of nature itself. In embracing homosexual practice, humanity has descended below the birds and the beasts (v.23), which have not forsaken the sexual pattern designed by God. If the lesser creatures were to abandon this order, even man's theory of evolution would be undermined.
        Man prides himself in his perversions, even while suffering their consequences:
    'that recompense {ie., corresponding reward} of their error which was meet {ie., fitting}' (v.27).
    These rewards 'received in themselves' include emotional damage, and various diseases.
    For more re: homosexual behavior, see the Book Notes at Gen 19:4.
    [NOTE: The above link will display in this window.]
  3. God gave them up - to a reprobate {ie., unapproved, unfit} mind- v.28-32
    Because man did not approve of God's revealed truth, and did not consider His ways fitting,
    God let them go their own way, in regard to sexual morality (v.24-27),
    and also in regard to every area of human consciousness.
Summary of ch.1-
Although man is in a state of rebellion against the God who has revealed Himself in Creation...
Although man willfully moves ever further from the Truth, shutting himself up to darkness...
Although man is under the wrath of God, bringing present destruction upon himself, and disregarding the future day of judgment...
...Yet, God, in great love and mercy toward His creatures, has provided the Remedy for man's condition (v.16,17).
This remedy is effective against all kinds of sin, including the deepest depravity (1Cor 6:9-11).
Through faith in Christ, sinners are:
  • washed - cleansed of their filth.
  • sanctified - made holy, set apart for God's service.
  • justified {GK=dikaioo, made righteous} - made righteous in the righteousness supplied by God.
This remedy does not immediately remove the effects of man's rebellion from the world, but those individuals, who acknowledge their condition and look to the Savior (by faith), receive the righteousness of God, and are removed from under under His wrath "against all ungodliness and unrighteousness." cp. Num 21:4-9; Joh 3:14,15

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