Romans – Understanding the Gospel: Justified by Faith

(Nov. 4, 2020 version)

 

Paul generally had met or started all of the churches he wrote to except the Roman church. Paul undoubtedly knew a few individuals, but Paul had never been to Rome. Ultimately Paul wrote Romans because God wanted Paul to. But Paul served as an apostle not just to the churches he started, but he was an apostle om 16

of Christ for all believers. Romans is generally considered the most logical and organized book by a well-organized author who generally wrote logically. Paul wanted to write to them prior to his visiting them, and lay out, in detail, what is the gospel, why do we need it, and how does it work. He also wanted to explain salvation in the context of Jew and Gentile. Two main points in Romans are justification by faith, and life in Christ.

 

Sequence and Dating of Romans: Paul started his trip from Corinth to Ephesus, to Jerusalem, to Caesarea Philippi, and then on to Rome in the spring of 57 A.D. Paul died under Nero in 67 A.D. So Paul wrote before 57 A.D., probably from Corinth.

 

The 24 Pre-Nicene (up to 325 A.D.) writers who quote from Romans

Clement of Rome (96-98 A.D.)

Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.)

Polycarp (c.150 A.D.)

Moyses et al. (250-251 A.D.)

Theophilus of Antioch (161-181/188 A.D.)

Seventh Council of Carthage (258 A.D.)

Christians of Vienna and Lugdunum (177 A.D.)

Dionysius of Alexandria (c.246-265 A.D.)

Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.)

Adamantius (c.300 A.D.)

The Muratorian Canon (190-217 A.D.)

Victorinus of Petau (martyred 304 A.D.)

Clement of Alexandria (193-202 A.D.)

Peter of Alexandria (285-311 A.D.)

Tertullian (198-220 A.D.)

Methodius (c.250-312 A.D.)

Hippolytus (222-235/236 A.D.)

Athanasius (318 A.D.)

Theodotus, probable Montanist (ca.340 A.D.)

Lactantius (c.303-c.20/325 A.D.) allusion

Origen (225-254 A.D.)

Alexander of Alexandria (313-326 A.D.)

Novatian (250/254-257 A.D.)

Eusebius of Caesarea (318-325 A.D.)

Treatise Against Novatian (254-256 A.D.)

 

They have 524 quotes from Romans, quoting 60% (259.7) of the 433 verses.

 

Earliest manuscripts of Romans

p27 (3rd century)

Sinaiticus (Si) (340-350 A.D.)

p40 (3rd century)

p10 (4th century)

p46 (100-150 A.D.) 70% of Paul & Hebrews

Old Syriac (c.400 A.D.)

Green’s Collection (3rd century)

Bohairic Coptic (3rd/4th centuries)

p113 (3rd century)

Fayyumic Coptic (3rd/4th centuries)

Uncial 0220 (=Wyman’s fragment) (c.300 A.D.)

Sahidic Coptic (4th century)

Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.)

Total: 275/433 (63.5%) of Romans

p46 covers 227 verses of Romans, and p40 covers 33 1/5 verses.

 

Combining Pre-Nicene Writers and Bible manuscripts together, that is 369 out of 433 verses (85%) of Romans is preserved before 325 A.D.

 


 

An Outline of Romans

Rom 1:1-17 Paul’s urgent message

Rom 1:18-3:20 Our Condemnation for Sin

- Rom 1:18 God’s wrath against serious, spiraling, deadly sin

- Rom 2-3:20 Both Jews and Gentiles are without excuse, responsible for their guilt

Rom 3:21-5 Our Justification by Faith

- Rom 3:21-31 Christ justified us, not our works

- Rom 4 Abraham: Justified by faith

- Rom 5 Christ’s death gave our justification

Rom 6-8 Our Sanctification United with Christ

- Rom 6 We have been declared dead to sin

- Rom 7 Our ongoing struggle for sanctification

- Rom 8 The Holy Spirit: power for holy living

Rom 9-11 God’s Sovereign Choice in Israel & Us

- Rom 9 God’s past choice of Israel

- Rom 10 God’s choice today

- Rom 11 God’s future choice for Israel fulfilled

Rom 12-16 Living Out Our Salvation in Christ

- Rom 12 A consecrated life serving God & others

- Rom 13 A submissive life

- Rom 14 Receiving the weak in faith

- - Without judging them or stumbling them, but as Christ would

- Rom 15:14-16:27Appreciating others and Paul’s future plans

 


 

Romans 1 Paul’s Urgent Message

 

1. In Rom 1:4, since Jesus was declared the Son of God, was He the Son of God before?

 

 

 

 

2. In Rom 1:7 and 1 Cor 1:3, since the Greek word kai can mean “even” as well as “one”, does this mean that Jesus is God the Father, as Sabellians, Modalists and some (but not all) Oneness Pentecostals teach?

 

 

 

 

 

3. In Rom 1:8, how was the faith of the Roman Christians known throughout the whole world?

 

 

 

 

4. In Rom 1:11 and Rom 15:29, isn’t Paul a bit conceited to tell the Romans he wants to come to give them a spiritual gift?

 

 

 

 

5. In Rom 1:13-14, why was Paul prevented from seeing the Romans earlier?

 

 

 

 

6. In Rom 1:14-15, since Paul had never met most of them, how did Paul have a “debt” to pay to them?

 

 

 

 

 

7. In Rom 1:17, what does “from faith to faith” mean?

 


 

Romans 1:18-23 First the Bad News for Humanity 1

 

1. In Rom 1:18, how can it be true that God never gets angry?

 

 

 

 

2. In Rom 1:18, when God’s wrath is revealed, does it mean God wrath is revealed at the moment the gospel is preached, as Karl Barth taught, or is this preaching reminders of actions revealed in history?

 

 

 

 

3. In Rom 1:18, how can people hold the truth in unrighteousness?

 

 

 

 

4. In Rom 1:18, how did people suppress the truth?

 

 

 

 

 

5. In Rom 1:19-20, how can everyone know of God through nature?

 

 

 

 

6. In Rom 1:19-20, are all non-Christians going to Hell?

 

 

 

 

7. In Rom 1:18-23, how do you explain to non-believers that people have an obligation to God?

 

 

 

 

8. In Rom 1:20, to what extent can people learn God’s truth and the Gospel from observing Creation?

 

 

 

 

9. In Rom 1:20, could someone possibly be saved solely by believing what can be learned from Creation?


 

Romans 1:24-32 First the Bad News for Humanity 2

 

1. In Rom 1:24,26,28, since God does not like ungodliness, then why did God desire to give ungodly people over to greater ungodliness?

 

 

 

2. In Rom 1:24,26,28 three times it says “God gave them over”. How does God give people over, and are there different levels?

 

 

 

3. In Rom 1:24,26,28 was God handing them over for correction of themselves, or others, or punishment?

 

 

 

4. In Rom 1:25, the Greek does not say “for a lie”, but “the lie”. What exactly is the lie?

 

 

 

5. Does Rom 1:26-27 mean only that one cannot change to be a homosexual, but if one is born a homosexual, it is OK to practice it?

 

 

 

6. On Rom 1:26-27 the skeptic Bart Ehrman writes, “In thinking about which parts of the Bible have something to say in the modern context, it is important to recall the historical view that the biblical authors were all living in a different world from ours and reflected the assumptions and beliefs of people in their world. Their world, to pick a particularly cogent example, had no concept of what we think of as homosexuality. To put it differently, homosexuality didn’t exist in that world. Why? Not because men didn’t have sex with men (they did) or women with women (they did), but because there was no sense of sexual orientation in that world, or any world, until the notion of sexual orientation developed among Western thinkers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.” (Jesus, Interrupted p.280)

   Ehrman uses the two preceding examples to generalize. “So, too, with all the Bible’s teachings – about women, about same-sex relations, about extra-marital sex, about capital punishment, about war, about wealth, about slavery, about disease, about … well, about everything.” (Jesus, Interrupted p.281)

 

 

7. In Rom 1:26-27, how does God give people over to the lust of their hearts?

 

 

8. In Rom 1:30, how do some “invent ways of doing evil”?

 

 

9. In Rom 1:32, why is agreeing with evil almost as bad as doing it, if you are not the one doing it?

Romans 2:1-17 Even the Moral Aren’t Really

 

1. In Rom 2:1-11, why the shift in tone?

 

 

 

2. In Rom 2:2-11, what does this teach us about the judgment of God?

 

 

 

3. In Rom 2:5, what is stubbornness here?

 

 

4. In Rom 2:5, will all of God’s judgment be on one day?

 

 

5. Is Rom 2:6 a part of the section of Roman 2:1-5 or 2:7-11?

 

 

6. In Rom 2:6-7, are good works a condition of salvation?

 

 

7. In Rom 2:6, will judgment be different for different people?

 

 

8. In Rom 2:7, do we get immortal life now, or later?

 

 

9. In Rom 2:11, since God is not a respecter of persons, why did He distinguish between Jews and Gentiles (Rom 3:1-2), especially Moabites?

 

 

10. In Rom 2:12, are all who never heard of the Old Testament Law or Christ, going to Hell with no chance of being saved?

 

 

11. In Rom 2:14, how are Gentiles allowed to be a law unto themselves?

 

 

 

12. In Rom 2:14-15; Acts 23:1; 24:16; 1 Cor 8:7,10,12; 1 Tim 1:5,19, 3:9, 4:2; 2 Tim 1:3; Tt 1:15; Heb 9:14, 10:22; 13:18, what does the Bible say about people’s conscience?

 

 

13. In Rom 2:16, Ps 44:21; 139; Jer 23:24 Jn 21:17; 1 Cor 14:25; Isaiah 44:7; Luke 12:6 how does God judge people’s secrets?

 

 

14. In Rom 2:16, does Paul have “his own Gospel” he preaches?

Romans 2:17-29 Being a Jew Who Doesn’t Obey is Worth Nothing

 

1. In Rom 2:17-20, the Jews took something good from God, the Law, and put it in place of God. What are some other ways people can take something good from God, and put it in place of God?

 

 

 

2. In Rom 2:19, what is the difference between being a guide to the blind and a light for those in darkness, and how are believers to be both?

 

 

3. In Rom 2:20, what is the difference between being an instructor to the foolish and a teacher of babes, and how are believers to be both?

 

 

4. In Rom 2:21-23, how come it is so easy for people to teach things to others but not follow these same things themselves?

 

 

5. In Rom 2:21-25 before looking down on these Jews for being inconsistent, sometimes we as Christians are inconsistent and hypocritical too. What could you say to help a Christian who is hypocritical?

 

 

 

6. In Rom 2:24, how was the name of God blasphemed among the Gentiles through the Jews and because of believers in general?

 

 

 

7. In Rom 2:24, why does this blasphemy matter? In other words, who is hearing and seeing this blasphemy?

 

 

 

8. In Rom 2:25 and Php 3:2-5, apart from the Bible how do we know that the Jews in Paul’s day trusted in circumcision too much?

 

 

 

 

9. In Rom 2:25-29, was Paul against the Jews?

 

 

 

10. In Rom 2:27, why would Paul bring up that even moral non-Jews would judge Jews who did not keep the law?


 

Romans 3:1-20 It is Hopeless for All

 

1. In Rom 3:2, what does being entrusted with the oracles of God mean exactly?

 

 

 

 

2. In Rom 3:4, what does “let God be true and every man a liar” mean?

 

 

 

 

3. In Rom 3:5, how does people’s unrighteousness commend/demonstrate God’s righteousness?

 

 

 

4. In Rom 3:7, do people’s lies glorify God?

 

 

 

5. In Rom 3:8, why shouldn’t we do evil so that good may result? (The Russian Khlysty cult and evil libertine Grigori Rasputin taught this.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. In Rom 3:11, Ps 14:2-3, Ps 53:3, since no one seeks after God, how could David seek after God in Ps 27:8, 105:4; 31:1, 34:4; 28:1-2, 42:1-2; 120:1?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. In Rom 3:13-19, do these Old Testament passages refer to some evil people, or all people?

 

 

 

8. In Rom 3:20, was the law a failure?


 

Romans 3:21-31 A New Way of Justification

 

1. Some Bible passages could start a revival, or even change a whole city. But today we are going to look at a passage that changed half a continent (Romans 3:21-26). In his Bible Martin Luther called this, “the chief point, and the very central place of the Epistle, and of the whole Bible” How do you think this launched the Lutheran Reformation?

 

 

2. In Rom 3:22, is it our faith in Jesus, or Jesus’ faith?

 

 

3. In Rom 3:23, what would you say to a Christian who says all have sinned, but we do not have a sinful nature, as many Church of Christ people teach?

 

 

4. In Rom 3:23, what is the difference between “sins” and “sin”?

 

 

5. In Rom 3:23-24, if all who are justified are the same as all who sinned, then are all going to Heaven as universalists teach?

 

 

6. In Rom 3:24, what are six ways in which we are justified?

 

 

7. In Rom 3:24, what would you say to someone who thought people at earlier times or other places that were saved, were saved apart from Christ?

 

 

8. In Rom 3:25, to what extent is Christ’s death removal of God’s wrath, and to what extent is it removal of our guilt?

 

 

9. Does Rom 3:25 mean Christ saved us from our sins up until we were born again, and we are on our own after that?

 

 

 

10. In Rom 3:25, since Christ’s death is a propitiation for all our past sins, then if a Christian deliberately sins, does he or she go to Hell, as Heb 10:26-31 might suggest?

 

 

 

11. In Rom 3:27-28, is Paul speaking of works of the Mosaic Law, or good works in general?

 

 

12. In Rom 3:28, how is a man “justified by faith without deeds of the law”, while James 2:24 says “by works a man is justified, and not by faith alone”?


 

Romans 4 - Old Testament Justification by Faith

 

1. How does Rom 4 fit after Rom 3?

 

 

2. In Rom 4:1, how was Abraham Paul’s father as pertaining to the flesh?

 

 

 

3. In Rom 4:3,4,5,6,8,9,10,11 Paul uses the word credit/credited. How is righteous credited to us?

 

 

 

4. In Rom 4:4-5:15, what contrasts are mentioned between Adam’s fall and Christ’s sacrifice?

 

 

 

5. In Rom 4:8,22, if God did not impute sin to Abraham, was God just to those He does impute sin?

 

 

 

6. In Rom 4:10, why is it important that Abraham was pronounced justified before he was circumcised?

 

 

 

7. In Rom 4:15, what is the difference between sin and transgression?

 

 

 

8. In Rom 4:16, why do we need to have faith, instead of certainty?

 

 

 

9. In Rom 4:17,18, how was Abraham the father of many nations?

 

 

 

10. In Rom 4:18, how was Abraham’s faith both against hope, and in hope?

 

 

 

11. In Rom 4:18, what keeps us from having great faith, like Abraham?

 

 

 

12. In Rom 4:23-25, how does Abraham’s example give us hope?

Romans 5:1-12a Our Justification in the Great Exchange

 

With the start of chapter 5, the Book of Romans starts getting more detailed.

 

1. How does Rom 5:1-10 say the exchange of salvation occurs?

 

 

2. In Rom 5:2, 9-10, is salvation by grace, or by faith?

 

 

3. In Rom 5:3, does this refer to sufferings for Christ, or to sufferings in general?

 

 

4. In Rom 5:7, what is the difference here between a righteous man and a good man?

 

 

 

5. In Rom 5:9, how are we saved from God’s wrath?

 

 

 

6. In Rom 5:9,10,15,17,20 what is Paul’s point with the “much mores”?

 

 

 

7. In Rom 5:9-21, what results are mentioned because of Christ?

 

 

8. In Rom 5:10, were Christians reconciled by Christ’s death, or his life, and what is the difference Paul is trying to show?

 

 

 

9. In Rom 5:12, what does “Therefore / Because of this” refer to?

 

 

 

10. Does Rom 5:12 show that before birth we are only potential human beings, and not actual ones? (so that abortion would be OK)

 

 

 

11. In Rom 5:12-19, how was Adam’s curse to us a “type” of Christ’s imputation of righteousness?

 

 

 

12. In Rom 5:12-21, how do the curse and imputed righteousness differ?


 

Romans 5:12-21 Adam, Christ, and Us, Part 1

 

1. In Rom 5:12-21, how is the atonement of Christ linked with Adam’s fall?

 

 

 

 

2. In Rom 5:12-19, what is mentioned as the scope of each Adam’s Fall and Christ’s sacrifice?

 

 

 

 

3. In Rom 5:12-21, what are the links between us and Adam?

 

 

 

 

4. In Rom 5:12, how did all sin in Adam?

 

 

 

 

5. In Rom 5:12-14, if God condemned us with Adam’s guilt, then why?

 

 

 

 

6. In Rom 5:12-18, what is original sin?

 

 

 

 

7. In Rom 5:12-18, how is Adam’s guilt imputed to us (if at all)?

 

 

 

8. In Rom 5:12-19, who are some Christians who believe Adam’s guilt was not imputed to us at all?

 

 

 

 

9. In Rom 5:12-19, who are some Christians who believe Adam’s guilt was imputed to us?

 

 

 

 

10. In Rom 5:12-19, are there any other views genuine Christians have of whether or not we have Adam’s guilt?


Romans 5:12-21 Adam, Christ, and Us, Part 2

 

1. In Rom 5:12, are there any extra-Biblical Jewish writings resembling this passage?

 

 

 

2. In Rom 5:12, how did Augustine of Hippo and the Latin Vulgate mistranslate this passage?

 

 

 

3. In Rom 5:12, did God blame or “frame” everybody for Adam’s guilt as well as their own?

 

 

 

4. In Rom 5:15, does the physical death of all people mean that we are all guilty of Adam’s sin, even babies?

 

 

 

5. In Rom 5:16,18, by what process was condemnation the result of one sin?

 

 

 

 

6. In Rom 5:19, how were the many made sinners?

 

 

 

 

7. In Rom 5:19, if all are made sinners in Adam, and all are made righteous in Christ, does this mean everyone gets saved, as the heresy of universalism teaches?

 

 

 

 

8. In Rom 5:19, since universalism is refuted in other verses, in what way were all who were made sinners justified?

 

 

 

 

9. In Rom 5:19, does sin make us sinners, or does being a sinner make us sin?

 

 

 

 

10. In Rom 5:20, how was it the purpose of the law to increase sin?


 

Romans 6:1-14 The Four-Sided Balance – Part 1

 

1. In Rom 6, how does this tie in with Romans 5?

 

 

2. In Rom 6:1, what can you say to a non-Christian who says Christians think they can do anything they want because they have “fire insurance”?

 

 

3. In Rom 6:1, what can you say to an antinomian Christian?

 

 

 

4. In Rom 6:1-4, what does this say about a transfer of realm?

 

 

 

5. In Rom 6:4, what does this say about baptism?

 

 

 

6. In Rom 6:5-7 is this the resurrection of Christ or the resurrection of believers?

 

 

 

7. In Rom 6:5-7, how are we united with Jesus in death and new life?

 

 

 

8. In Rom 6:5-7; Gal 2:20; Col 3:9; Eph 4:22; how is our old self crucified in Christ?

 

 

9. In Rom 6:5; 8; and 1 Cor 15, had believers died with Christ but were not raised with Him yet, or were they are already raised with Christ in Col 2:13 and Eph 2:5-6?

 

 

10. In Rom 6:6, what exactly is the “body of sin”?

 

 

11. In Rom 6:7, since Christians are dead in Christ, and they are freed from sin, why do Christians still sin?

 

 

12. In Rom 6:11, how do we count ourselves dead to sin?

 

 

13. In Rom 6:14, how would you explain to a Seventh-Day Adventist that we are not under law but under grace?


 

Romans 6:15-23 The Four-Sided Balance – Part 2

 

1. In Rom 6:1-14, and Rom 6:15-23 what are the similarities and differences between Paul’s two arguments here?

 

 

2. In Rom 6:18,22, practically speaking, how are we set free from sin?

 

 

3. In Rom 6:19, when Paul speaks “after the manner of men”, is he giving a simplification here?

 

 

4. In Rom 6:21, what kinds of fruit of sin do people have that they should feel shame for?

 

 

5. In Rom 6:22, in evangelism how much should we emphasize that Christians are slaves of God?

 

6. In Rom 6:22, what are the benefits of holiness?

 

 

7. In Rom 6, what are four key concepts compared and contrasted?

 

7. What is a diagram of four aspects?

Some Church of Christ,

Pelagianism

 

Eastern Orthodox Theosis, Holiness movements

 

 

 

Free. Slaves of Christ

gave new life

 

 

 

Old Man needs to be crucified

Biblical

Balance

United with

Christ living in us

 

 

 

In bondage. Slaves of Sin

leads to death

 

 

Martin Luther,

Catholic flagellants

(including John Paul II)

 

Rasputin’s Khlysty,

Rom 6:1,15a Easy-Believism (Antinomianism)

 

8. In Rom 6, imagine that someone focused on just one or two edges of the square. What would their theology be like?

 

 

9. In Rom 6:23, how would you sum up this chapter?


Romans 7: How the Law is Like a new Husband

 

Believers used to have to be under the law, but no longer as Romans 6 says. Since the law was not bad, how can this be? This is the subject of chapter 7.

 

1. In Rom 7:5, why does “don’t” often seem to be a call to action to do it?

 

 

 

2. In Rom 7:6, in this illustration has the Mosaic law “died”?

 

 

 

3. In Rom 7:6b, how do we serve in the new way of the spirit, not the old way of the letter, since Jesus said in Lk 16:16-17 that not one jot [detail] would disappear from the Law?

 

 

 

4. In Rom 7:9, how was Paul alive apart from the law?

 

 

 

5. In Rom 7:9-11, how did the law kill him?

 

 

 

6. In Rom 7:11, what exactly is the “deception of sin”?

 

 

 

7. In Rom 7:14-24, Paul is not criticizing the law, but what exactly is he saying about the law?

 

 

 

 

8. In Rom 7:14-24, is this a pre-Christian or post-Christian experience?

 

 

 

 

9. In Rom 7:14-24, was there any Jewish teaching similar to this?

 

 

 

10. In Rom 7:18 why did Paul say no good thing dwells in his sinful flesh?


 

Romans 8:1-17 Assurance Walking in the Spirit, not the Flesh

 

This chapter is a climax which neatly ties up knotty predicaments in chapters 5 through 7 into a triumphant “bow” and then puts glorification on top.

 

1. In Rom 8:1 and Rom 7:25b what is curious about this transition?

 

 

2. In Rom 8:1, was the phrase “Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but according to the Spirit” in the original manuscripts?

 

3. In Rom 8:2 how does the life of life in Christ free us from the law of sin and death, since a law is a law?

 

4. In Rom 8:3 what is unusual about this phrasing?

 

 

5. In Rom 8:3 is our flesh bad?

 

 

6. In Rom 8:6-7, what are the four characteristics Paul lists of being carnally minded?

 

 

7. In Rom 8:9-11,14-15, can someone be a genuine Christian and not have the Holy Spirit living inside them?

 

 

8. In Rom 8:9-11,14-15, if the Holy Spirit must be inside you to be a son of God, and speaking in tongues is evidence of the Holy Spirit, then are all who do not speak in tongues not saved, as Oneness Pentecostal churches teach?

 

 

9. In Rom 8:9-11,15, if the Holy Spirit must be inside a person or else that person does not belong to Christ, then a) do all babies who die go to Hell because the Holy Spirit is not inside them, or b) is the Holy Spirit inside all babies, or c) other?

 

 

10. In Rom 8:9, why is the Holy Spirit called the Spirit of Christ?

 

 

11. In Rom 8:10, does body vs. spirit mean sinful flesh vs. our spirit, or all of us vs. the Holy Spirit?

 

12. In Rom 8:16,17, are all people children of God in this passage?

 

 

13. In Rom 8:17, exactly who is supposed to get glorified here?

 

14. In Rom 8:17, can we become exalted gods, as the cult of Mormonism teaches?


 

Romans 8:18-39 All Things work for Good for our Glorification

 

1. In Rom 8:19-22 and Rom 5:12-14, did the death of animals occur before the Fall?

 

 

2. In Rom 8:19-22, why does God allow evil in a fallen world?

 

 

3. In Rom 8:21, does freedom of a Christian include the freedom to do anything we want?

 

 

4. In Rom 8:23, do believers groan because we have the first fruits of the Spirit, or although we have the first fruits of the Spirit?

 

5. In Rom 8:23 are we adopted as sons of God, or born again as John 3:16 says, and is it present or future?

 

 

6. In Rom 8:26, is the Holy Spirit our Mediator, or is Christ our Mediator as 1 Tim 2:5 says?

 

 

7. In Rom 8:28, how can all things work together for good for those who are called?

 

 

8. In Rom 8:28-39, my friend was reading Charles Stanley’s book on Eternal Security to me and when she came to the part about God’s unconditional love, she opposed that by asking where in the Bible does it say God’s love is unconditional?  She is a member of the “Church of Christ” denomination and her view is that a condition to being saved involves water baptism---so therefore God’s love and salvation for us depends on the condition of being baptized.  How should I have responded to her?

 

 

9. In Rom 8:29, can any whom God foreknew go to Hell?

 

 

10. In Rom 8:29 and Eph 1:4, is predestination just a Calvinist doctrine?

 

 

11. In Rom 8:30, what percentage of people who meet one step go to the subsequent step?

 

 

12. In Rom 8:30, since we are going to one day be glorified creatures in heaven, how should we live like that now, without being arrogant?

 

 

13. In Rom 8:32, is the word “other” in the Greek as it is in the Jehovah’s Witnesses New World Translation (revised 1970 C.E. p.1227)?

 

14. In Rom 8:39, what is interesting about Paul’s words for height and depth?

Romans 9:1-18 Our Attitude Towards the Lost

 

After the triumphant news of Romans 8, Romans 9 is like a shadow suddenly falling across Paul’s face. What about those who rejected?

 

1. In Rom 9:1-4, should we have any sorrow for the lost?

 

 

 

 

2. In Rom 9:5 does this verse show that Christ is God?

 

 

 

 

3. In Rom 9:4f,6-9, since God’s promises are sure, why were they ineffective for some?

 

 

 

 

4. In Rom 9:8-9,27 and Rom 11:13-17,26 are all Jews going to Heaven, or not?

 

 

 

 

5. In Rom 9:13 and Mal 1:2-3, why did God hate Esau? Was that just?

 

 

 

 

6. In Rom 9:14, what is the difference between justice and fairness? Is God both?

 

 

 

 

7. In Rom 9:18, why can’t we blame God for hardening Pharaoh’s heart?

 

 

 

 

8. In Rom 9:18, who had what responsibilities in the hardening of the heart of Pharaoh, as well as other people?

 

 

 

 

9. In Rom 9:19-22 and Rom 11:8,10, how can God hold us responsible for what He makes us to be?


 

Romans 9:19-33 God’s Sovereign Choice

 

1. In Rom 9:19, why is God’s word calling these questions improper?

 

 

 

 

2. In Rom 9:19, do people have free will?

 

 

 

 

3. In Rom 9:19, are people like robots or puppets, or has God decided to grant to everyone the ability to make genuine choices and respond to God?

 

 

 

 

 

4. In Rom 9:19, if people are not like robots or puppets, what does the Bible say about man’s ability to make choices?

 

 

 

 

 

5. In Rom 9:19, could it be possible that non-Christians have no free will, Christians do have free will?

 

 

 

 

6. In Rom 9:20-21, how is God like a potter and we the clay?

 

 

 

 

7. In Rom 9:25-33. What is Paul doing here?

 

 

 

 

8. In Rom 9:32-33, how and why did God make Jesus a stumbling block to the Jews?

 

 

 

 

9. In Rom 9:33, what is unusual about this word for “stumble”?


 

Romans 10:1-13 Whosoever Shall Call Upon the Lord

 

1. In Rom 10:3, how could God justly punish the Israelites for ignorance?

 

 

2. In Rom 10:1-4, what are examples of someone’s zeal for religion getting in the way of their knowing God?

 

 

3. In Rom 10:4, how is Christ the end of the law?

 

 

 

4. In Rom 10:4, is the law still all applicable today for those who do not believe?

 

 

5. In Rom 10:5, do we live by keeping the Law, or does the law bring death as Rom 8:2 says?

 

 

 

6. In Rom 10:7, what is interesting about Paul’s example here?

 

 

 

7. In Rom 10:9-10, is simply saying “Jesus is Lord” all you have to do to get to Heaven?

 

 

 

8. In Rom 10:9, can be person be saved by trusting Jesus as Savior but not Lord?

 

 

9. In Rom 10:11, why does this say “never be put to shame”, when it is referring to Isa 28:16

 

 

10. In Rom 10:11, what is the basis for saying an inanimate rock represents a person?

 

 

11. In Rom 10:12, is it true that “the identity of the ‘Lord’ cannot be established with certainty from the context” as Jehovah’s Witnesses have taught (Watchtower 2/1/1977 p.95)?

 

 

12. In Rom 10:13, must one specifically call upon the name “Jehovah” to be saved, as Jehovah’s Witnesses teach?

 

 

13. In Rom 10:13, can a person accept Jesus as Savior and not as Lord?

 

14. In Rom 10:13, if everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved, how do you know if you were sincere when you called to God to save you?

Romans 10:14-21 What of Those Who Have Not Heard

 

1. In Rom 10:14f, how has this verse been misunderstood?

 

 

 

2. In Rom 10:14-15, if we don’t do our job and preach the gospel, will our disobedience cause people to go to Hell?

 

 

 

 

3. In Rom 10:14-15, can anyone go to Heaven if they never heard the Gospel?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. In Rom 10:14-15, can anyone go to Heaven if they never heard the Gospel, after Jesus rose from the dead?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. In Rom 10:18, how did the Jews not understand, since they of all people had the most knowledge about God?

 

 

 

6. In Rom 10:19, how has God made the Jews envious by those who are not a nation?

 

 

 

7. In Rom 10:21, 11:7, why did God (and Paul) sound disappointed that the Jews did not as a group accept Jesus, since God already foreknew they would be disobedient?

Romans 11 Grafting Peoples In and Out

 

1. In Rom 11:1,11 this state of affairs was not permanent. When does a bad situation seem permanent, when in fact it is not?

 

 

2. In Rom 11:14, was it God, Paul or both that tried to provoke the Jews to jealousy?

 

 

3. In Rom 11:16, how Christians now God’s chosen people, since in the Old Testament the olive tree was a symbol of the Israelites?

 

 

 

4. In Rom 11:16, what is the main trunk of the olive tree?

 

 

 

5. In Rom 11:17-24, what do we know about the cultivation of olive trees?

 

 

 

6. In Rom 11:17-24, why would someone graft wild olive branches into a domestic olive tree?

 

 

 

7. In Rom 11:20, what were some of the barriers to the Jews being fruitful to God?

 

 

 

8. In Rom 11:22, how can God be both kind and stern, without being contradictory?

 

 

 

9. In Rom 11:25, what is does the “fullness of the Gentiles” mean?

 

 

 

10. In Rom 11:26, do all Israelites go to Heaven?

 

 

 

11. In Rom 11:26-27, will God still fulfill some promises in the future for the biological descendants of Israel?

 

 

 

12. In Rom 11:32, how has God bound all people over to disobedience?


 

Romans 12:1-8 Fully Being Dedicated for God

 

1. In Rom 12:1, why does Paul say “Therefore” here?

 

 

 

2. In Rom 12:1, how are we to be sacrificed for God?

 

 

 

3. In Rom 12:1-2, what is the difference between walking and working for God, and what this is talking about?

 

 

 

4. In Rom 12:2, how many times do we need to be transformed?

 

 

 

5. In Rom 12:1, what is interesting about the tenses of the Greek words conformed and transformed?

 

 

 

6. In Rom 12:3, what are some ways people can think more highly of themselves than they ought?

 

 

7. In Rom 12:3, the opposite of that is to think that everything we have is nothing or no good, and the Bible does not say we should have that attitude either. What should our attitude be?

 

 

 

8. In Rom 12:6-8, why is the list of gifts different from the lists in 1 Cor 12:7-11, 1 Cor 13:8, and Eph 4:7-13?

 

 

 

 

9. In Rom 12:8f, what does it mean here to show mercy?


 

Romans 12:9-21 Love in Action

 

1. In Rom 12:9, what does “love without dissimulation / hypocrisy” mean?

 

 

 

2. In Rom 12:9 are Christians supposed to have any hate, and if so how?

 

 

 

3. In Rom 12:11 show can we cultivate not lacking in zeal?

 

 

 

4. In Rom 12:13; 1 Tim 5:10, Mt 25:35-45, what does the Bible say about practicing hospitality?

 

 

 

5. In Rom 12:14, what does it mean to bless those who persecute us, and what kind of persecution did Paul specifically mention?

 

 

 

6. In Rom 12:15, how should we rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn?

 

 

 

7. In Rom 12:16, why does it say to live in harmony with one another, since it already said to love, be devoted to, and honor one another in Rom 12:9-10?

 

 

 

8. In Rom 12:16, why might someone not want to associate with people of low position, and why should we?

 

 

15:2

 

9. In Rom 12:17, what are accepted methods in society of repaying evil for evil?

 

 

 

10. In Rom 12:18, what are some ways to live at peace with others, as far as possible?

 

 

 

11. In Rom 12:20 and Ps 25:21-22, what does it means to heap burning coals on someone’s head?


 

Romans 13 Love Submits

 

1. In Rom 13:1-6 and 1 Pet 2:13-14, how are we to obey governments?

 

 

 

2. In Rom 13:1-2 God tells us: Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. Does that mean governments like those under Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot etc. were appointed by God and the people were not meant to resist them?  I find this very hard to believe. If you could explain this to me I’d be very grateful.

 

 

 

3. In Rom 13:1-2,4, the skeptic Bart Ehrman asks if Christians were supposed to obey governing [Roman] authorities, or will the Roman authorities be wicked and evil in Revelation 17:18 (Jesus, Interrupted p.97-98)

 

 

 

4. In Rom 13:1-6, when should Christians engage in civil disobedience?

 

 

 

5. In Rom 13:6, what is the difference between tax evasion and tax avoidance?

 

 

 

6. In Rom 13:7, how were pagan and corrupt Roman government officials God’s ministers?

 

 

 

7. In Rom 13:8, why do Christians have debt?

 

 

 

8. In Rom 13:9-10, does love your neighbor as yourself really sum up all the Law? What about loving God too, as Mark 12:29-30 says?

 

 

 

9. In Rom 13:10, since we should have no ill will toward our neighbors, can a Christian be a policeman and arrest people?

 

 

 

10. In Rom 13:11-14, what is the significance of this passage?


 

Romans 14 Receive the Weak in Faith

 

1. In Rom 14:1, what exactly are “doubtful things” here?

 

 

2. In Rom 14:1-5, how were there Jews in Rome?

 

 

3. In Rom 14:5, is it now OK to work on Saturday or Sunday, or not?

 

 

 

4. In Rom 14:5, was Paul referring to the Sabbath here?

 

 

5. In Rom 14:5, what do you think of Eric Liddle, the main character in the movie Chariots of Fire, who refused to compete in the Olympics on his best event, because it was on a Sunday?

 

 

 

6. In Rom 14:5, when Paul had the perfect opportunity to settle the question on the Sabbath, why did he decline to do so?

 

 

 

7. In Rom 14:15, how can just “eating” destroy a fellow Christian?

 

 

 

8. In Rom 14:16, how are we to not allow what is good to be spoken of as evil?

 

 

 

9. In Rom 14:19, what are some ways we can actively work to promote peace and harmony in the church?

 

 

 

10. In Rom 14:2,14,17,20-21, as Catholic and Orthodox Christians refrain from non-fish meat during Lent, should all Christians do this to avoid stumbling weaker brethren? Likewise, as some Christians believe in never drinking alcohol, should all Christians refrain?

 

 

11. In Rom 14:20-21, A C5-ish believer (they sometimes don’t want to be called Christians) taught that Christians, even in America, should not eat pork, because it is offensive to some Muslims, even though they will eat shellfish and camel, which are against the diet of Jews in the Old Testament. People eating beef is offensive to some Hindus. The Jains teach you should not eat after sunset. The Pythagoreans taught that people should not eat beans? What would you say to those things?

Romans 15 Pleasing Others for God for their good

 

1. In Rom 15:2, should we try to please others, or please God and not be people pleasers as Eph 6:6; Col 3:22; 1 Th 2:4; and Gal 1:10 say?

 

 

2. In Rom 15:2, what are some good ways we can be more pleasing to others?

 

 

3. In Rom 15:1-3, how would a Christian who wanted to please God, and himself, not caring much about others, differ from one who lived to please God first and then others?

 

 

4. In Rom 15:4, Scripture gives us truth, but how has scripture also given us patience, comfort and hope?

 

 

5. In Rom 15:7, what does it mean to receive other believers as Christ has received us?

 

 

6. In Rom 15:14, how can we admonish other believers, in ways that they are more likely to listen to and accept?

 

 

7. In Rom 15:18, when should you not share the great things God has accomplished through you?

 

 

8. In Rom 15:20, what did Paul mean about not building on another man’s foundation, and why was it good to avoid that?

 

 

9. In Rom 15:23, after God has moved you to a place or situation, how do you know the time has come when you “no longer have a place in these parts”?

 

 

10. In Rom 15:24,28, did Paul ever travel to Spain?

 

 

11. In Rom 15:29, what is the “fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ”?

 

 

12. In Rom 15:30-32, what are Paul’s four prayer requests, and why are they important?

 

13. In Rom 15:30-32, why do you think Paul did not ask for more things, such as personal safety or comfort?

 

14. In Rom 15:32, how can we be better at “refreshing” others?


 

Romans 16 Appreciating Others

 

1. In Rom 16, does this long list of people in a city Paul had not visited indicate this letter was not really written to the Romans (Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.1097) or that Rom 16 was not really a part of Romans (Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.1093)?

 

 

 

2. In Rom 16:1-2, what is interesting about Phoebe?

 

 

 

3. In Rom 16:5, why would Christians meet in their house?

 

 

 

4. In Rom 16:7, were Andronicus and Junia apostles, since they were of note among the apostles?

 

 

 

5. In Rom 16:10, why were “households” greeted?

 

 

 

6. In Rom 16:9,12, what is interesting about the names Tryphena, Tryphosa and Urbanus?

 

 

 

7. In Rom 16:13, is this Rufus the same Rufus in Mark 15:21, who was the son of Simon of Cyrene who carried Jesus’ cross? (Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.1098 asked this.)

 

 

 

8. In Rom 16:15, how was Jesus Christ kept secret until He came, since so many Old Testament prophecies refer to the Messiah?

 

 

 

9. In Rom 16:17-18, why does Paul warn people so many times about false or ungodly teachers?

 

 

 

10. In Rom 16:17-18, how do divisive people serve their own “belly” or appetites?

 

 

 

11. In Rom 16:23, what archaeological evidence is there for Erastus?

 


Romans 1:1-17 Paul’s Urgent Message – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 1:4, since Jesus was declared the Son of God, was He the Son of God before?

A: Yes. Someone can be something before they are declared that to the world. Jesus is the Son of God in two distinct ways.

Before time began, Jesus was begotten (not created) of the Father. There never was a time before Jesus was the Son of God.

On earth, Jesus was asexually conceived by the virgin Mary. Genetic material not supplied by Mary (the Y-chromosome, etc.) was miraculously created by God the Father.

So while Jesus was always the Son of God, God waited until Jesus was born on earth to declare this to humanity.

   So is Jesus equal to God the Father or subordinate to God the Father? Let’s first detour and answer a simpler question; then we will use that answer to get back to this question. On earth is your little son equal to you or subordinate to you. If you say he is not equal to you, I think that is the wrong answer for two reasons. If there was some natural disaster and only one of you could live, would you choose to save yourself because your son is not so important as you (think you) are? If your son is less than you, then by the same logic is your father greater than you? Was his father greater than him? And his father? Then was your great-great grandfather superman? No, your son is by no means less than or not equal to you. But does your son obey you (at least hopefully most of the time). Or do you obey and submit to your son? I am sure it is the first, and not the second. You and your son have different roles, at least until he grows up and has children. Similarly, the Father, Son, and Spirit are co-equal in nature, glory, and honor. But they differ in role and rank. On earth, Jesus submitted (Hebrews 5:7) and learned obedience (Hebrews 5:8). But even now the Father can be titled as the God of Jesus Christ in Ephesians 1:3. (Unfortunately some Christians, such as Augustine of Hippo and Ambrose of Milan) would disagree on the last point.

 

2. In Rom 1:7 and 1 Cor 1:3, since the Greek word kai can mean “even” as well as “one”, does this mean that Jesus is God the Father, as Sabellians, Modalists and some (but not all) Oneness Pentecostals teach?

A: No. Let’s look at this objectively.

1. All agree that “and” is the primary meaning of the Greek word kai, but it does sometimes mean “even also”.

2. You cannot prove Oneness, Trinity, or any doctrine, based on a word that could be translated either way.

3. In this chapter of Romans, Jesus is distinguished from God the Father in Romans 1:9. Jesus is not an orphan, neither is He a Fatherless Son.

4. Jesus also is distinguished from the Father in many places in Scripture, including but not limited to Ephesians 1:3,17; Matthew 3:16-17; 12:18; Mark 10:38-40; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:1,33; 6:38; 14:16,26,28,31; 5:26; 6:28; 7:5; Acts 5:31-32; 1 Corinthians 11:3; 15:25-28; Hebrews 1:9; 5:7-8. At Jesus baptism, Jesus was not practicing a ventriloquism act.

   To support a doctrine on an ambiguous use of a word, where the primary meaning is “and” and it is only a rarer meaning of “even”, if this is the best they got, this is not much of anything.

   Sabellianism did not appear to have a wide following, except for a brief period in Rome. Here is some of what the pre-Nicene Christians taught that the Father and Son are distinct, yet they did not teach that they are separate.

Athenagoras (177 A.D.) says the Father, Son, and Spirit have distinction in unity. A Plea for Christians ch.12 p.134

Athenagoras (177 A.D.) “The Holy Spirit Himself also, which operates in the prophets, we assert to be an effluence of God, flowing from Him, and returning back again like a beam of the sun. Who, then, would not be astonished to hear men who speak of God the Father, and of God the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and who declare both their power in union and their distinction in order, called atheists? Nor is our teaching in what relates to the divine nature confined to these points; but we recognize also a multitude of angels and ministers,…” A Plea for Christians ch.10 p.133

Theophilus (168-181/188 A.D.) (partial) “God, then, having His own Word internal within His own bowels, begat Him, emitting Him along with His own wisdom before all things. He had this Word as a helper in the things that were created by Him, and by Him He made all things.Theophilus to Autolycus book 2 ch.10 p.98

Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) says “the Word, namely the Son, was always with the Father; and that Wisdom also, which is the Spirit, was present with Him, anterior to all creation.” He then goes on quoting Proverb 3:19,20 and so forth, showing that the Holy Spirit is the third person. Irenaeus Against Heresies book 4 ch.20.3 p.488

Tertullian (c.213 A.D.) “And if, to quote another passage, “Thus saith the Lord to my Lord Christ,” the Lord who speaks to the Father of Christ must be a distinct Being. Moreover, when the apostle in his epistle prays, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and of knowledge,” He must be other (than Christ), who is the God of Jesus Christ, the bestower of spiritual gifts. And once for all, that we may not wander through every passage, He “who raised up Christ from the dead, and is also to raise up our mortal bodies,” must certainly be, as the quickener, different from the dead Father, or even from the quickened Father, if Christ who died is the Father.” Against Praxeas ch.28 p.625

Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.) wrote an entire work against Noetus who “alleged that Christ was the Father Himself, and that the Father Himself was born, and suffered, and died.” Against the Heresy of One Noetus ch.1 p.223

Hippolytus (222-235/236 A.D.) “He [Jesus] did not say, ‘I and the Father am one, but are one.’ For the word are is not said of one person, but it refers to two persons, and one power.” and quotes 1 Corinthians 15:23-28. Against the Heresy of One Noetus ch.7 p.226

Origen (225-253/254 A.D.) “Now there are many who are sincerely concerned about religion, and who fall here into great perplexity. They are afraid that they may be proclaiming two Gods, and their fear drives them into doctrines which are false and wicked.  Either they deny that the Son has a distinct nature of His own besides that of the Father, and make Him whom they call the Son to be God all but the name, or they deny the divinity of the Son, giving Him a separate existence of His own, and making His sphere of essence fall outside that of the Father, so that they are separable from each other.” Commentary on John book 2 ch.2 p.323

Novatian (250/4-256/7 A.D.) (implied) spoke of Sabellius’ heresy as sacrilegious in believing Christ is not the Son, but the Father. Treatise on the Trinity ch.12 p.621-622

Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.) “The plant that springs from the root is something distinct from that whence it grows up; and yet it is of one nature with it. And the river which flows from the fountain is something distinct from the fountain. For we cannot call either the river a fountain, or the fountain a river. Nevertheless, we allow that they are both one according to nature, and also one in substance; and we admit that the fountain may be conceived of as father, and that the river is what is begotten of the fountain.” On the One Substance p.120

Lucian of Antioch (c.300-311 A.D.) “clearly of the Father who is really a Father, and of a Son who is really a Son, and of the Holy Ghost who is really a Holy Ghost; these names being assigned not vaguely or idly, but indicating accurately the special personality, order, and glory of those named, so that in Personality they are three, but in harmony one.” Creed of Lucian of Antioch in The Creeds of Christendom by Philip Schaff vol.2 p.27

Methodius (270-311/312 A.D.) “For the kingdom of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is one, even as their substance is one and their dominion one. Whence also, with one and the same adoration, we worship the one Deity in three Persons, subsisting without beginning, uncreate, without end, and to which there is no successor. For neither will the Father ever cease to be the Father, nor again the Son to be the Son and King, nor the Holy Ghost to be what in substance and personality He is. For nothing of the Trinity will suffer diminution, either in respect of eternity, or of communion, or of sovereignty. For not on that account is the Son of God called king, because for our sakes He was made man,” Oration on Psalms ch.5 p.397. (also The Banquet of the Ten Virgins discourse 8 ch.10 p.338 and ch.11 p.339)

   See When Cultists Ask p.207-208, 221 for more info.

 

3. In Rom 1:8, how was the faith of the Roman Christians known throughout the whole world?

A: This has the same meaning as 1 Thessalonians 1:8. Given the size and influence of the city of Rome, it is not an exaggeration to say that the Roman church had a great part in many people’s first impressions of Christianity.

Rome was known throughout the whole world. Soon after this there were even contacts between Rome and China. They already knew about India on the east, and Caledonia (Scotland) and Hibernia (Ireland) on the west. So Paul was excited that the message could spread from Rome to the entire world.

 

4. In Rom 1:11 and Rom 15:29, isn’t Paul a bit conceited to tell the Romans he wants to come to give them a spiritual gift?

A: If Paul were an ordinary man, perhaps. But since Paul was an apostle of Christ, Paul was being both candid and truthful without overstatement. It is OK to tell someone you can benefit them, if that is the truth. Paul does not have in mind a charismatic gift here, but rather the gift of understanding of God and salvation.

 

5. In Rom 1:13-14, why was Paul prevented from seeing the Romans earlier?

A: Paul does Not say it was due to Satanic opposition, as he does in 1 Thessalonians 2:18. Rather Paul had a lot of ministry to do where he east in Asia Minor and Greece. He also had to find a means of getting there. Sometimes it is Ok if fruitful ministry in one place delays you going to a second place. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.17 for more info.

 

6. In Rom 1:14-15, since Paul had never met most of them, how did Paul have a “debt” to pay to them?

A: There are two kinds of debts. In the first type, you loan me money and I am in debt to you until I pay it back. The second type is that Jack gives me money, and I won’t see Jack for a while, but John will. So, I give the dept repayment to John to give to Jack. Now John, as the transfer agent, owes that money to Jack. Paul was in debt to these people to give them the riches of the gospel which Paul received from God.

   If someone asks you what right you have to share the gospel with them, you can tell them “because I owe you a debt.” Salvation comes from God not from me. I am no more than one beggar telling another where to find bread. But since God has entrusted me, as well as every Christian, with the obligation to share the message of his riches, I am in debt to you to convey the message for your benefit.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1677 for more info.

 

7. In Rom 1:17, what does “from faith to faith” mean?

A: There are three possibilities

God’s faith to our faith.

Our faith is growing more and more

Starting with faith and finishing with faith

It is speaking of our faith, not God’s faith or faithfulness. It is not speaking of multiple faiths, but of our faith that started when we believed God and grows and carries us through to heaven.

See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1677 for more info.

 


 

Romans 1:18-23 First the Bad News for Humanity 1 – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 1:18, how can it be true that God never gets angry?

A: Let’s ask the people of Sodom and Gomorrah! God never getting angry is wishful thinking that goes against scripture. Unfortunately, this error of wanting our own thinking, instead of believing what scripture says, goes back to the Epistle to Diognetus (c.130-200 A.D.) Clement of Rome (96-98 A.D.) and Origen (225-253/254 A.D.) are inconsistent on this. However, 19 early Christian writers accepted that God has wrath: Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, Melito of Sardis, Theophilus of Antioch, Irenaeus of Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Commodianus, Novatian, Treatise Against Novatian, Cyprian of Carthage, Gregory Thaumaturgus, Victorinus of Petau, Peter of Alexandria, Methodius, Lactantius, Alexander of Alexandria, and Eusebius of Caesarea (318-325 A.D.). The heretic Marcion in copying Romans translated “wrath” instead of “wrath of God” according to The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.94.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.22 for more info.

 

2. In Rom 1:18, when God’s wrath is revealed, does it mean God wrath is revealed at the moment the gospel is preached, as Karl Barth taught, or is this preaching reminders of actions revealed in history?

A: It is the second way, People experienced God’s wrath even in Old Testament times before the gospel was given. See The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.95 for more info.

 

3. In Rom 1:18, how can people hold the truth in unrighteousness?

A: It is all too easy for people to agree at least partially on the truth of what is right and best for others, and not to practice it themselves. The Greek word here for godlessness, asabeian, means more than just not believing in God. It means lack of reverence for God, so if also refers to those who intellectually believe in God but do not live like it. Today some people call that “practical atheism”. They might not say they are atheists, but they live as though they were.

 

4. In Rom 1:18, how did people suppress the truth?

A: There are many ways, but here is one actual blatant way. The Romans had many pagan sacred institutions that they believed they had for various divine or miraculous reasons. Many of them were started by the early Roman King Numa Pompilius. The Roman historian Varro records that a Roman farmer Terentius, while plowing near the tomb of Pompilius, turned up books of Pompilius, in which were written the causes of the sacred institutions. He turned them over to the Senate, who after seeing the real reasons for the institutions, ordered the praetor to burn the books. You can read about this in Augustine of Hippo’s City of God (413-426 A.D.) book 7 ch.34 p.141-141. When people burn the earliest copies of books of their own religion that they allegedly believe, you have to wonder about their commitment to truth.

   See The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 by Douglas Moo p.91-92 for more info.

 

5. In Rom 1:19-20, how can everyone know of God through nature?

A: Five points to consider in the answer.

1. We can know many things about God through nature. For example, no created thing could create itself. There is a Creator, who is greater than created beings. We also can see God’s majesty, power, and beauty in Creation, though Creation is fallen.

2. People can make up their own strange interpretations of the facts. For example, the idea of spontaneous generation, a “scientific fact” of the Middle Ages, said flies could come from rotting meat, and life could come spontaneously from non-life.

3. Many important things about God we cannot know through nature, such as the Trinity, Jesus dying on the cross, and Jesus coming again.

4. While nature is not sufficient to teach the entire gospel of salvation, it is sufficient to teach people there is a God and to look for Him.

5. If someone rejects the truth that they know about the Most High God, God has not necessarily obligated Himself to give them more truth.

   See Now That’s a Good Question p.18-20 for more info.

 

6. In Rom 1:19-20, are all non-Christians going to Hell?

A: There is only one correct answer, but there are two aspects to it: no and yes.

No, for four reasons

N1. No, because some people who are not yet Christians will become Christians in the future and go to Heaven. The Biblical term for those who ultimately will be in Heaven is “the elect”.

N2. No, because in the Old Testament, many godly Jews, who obeyed the Law, died anticipating the coming of the Messiah, without knowing the Messiah (Ephesians 3:4-6; 1 Peter 1:10-11; 2 Peter 1:19; ~Hebrews 11:39-40). They died before Christ, but are in heaven.

N3. No, because God revealed Himself through Abraham, even though Abraham did not have the Law. God is able to work “outside the box” of our preconceptions, and to bring people to Himself through Christ as He chooses. We can be assured that all who died never hearing of Christ today, be they babies, the severely retarded, or people with severe ignorance, will be judged fairly by God, who is also merciful. (See Romans 4:15; 5:12; ~John 9:41)

N4. Some Christians think Christ preached to those who had already died based on 1 Peter 3:19-20 and 1 Peter 4:6. Clement of Alexandria in the Stromata (193-202 A.D.) book 6 ch.6 p.490, said those who were righteous according to God’s Law, only faith was wanting. For those who did not have the Law, but were righteous according to their philosophy, they needed both faith and repentance of idolatry. “Straightaway, on the revelation of the truth, they also repented of the previous [idolatrous] conduct.” See also Stromata book 6 ch.6 p.492. Irenaeus of Lyons (Irenaeus Against Heresies book 4 ch.27.1 p.499), Hippolytus (Fragment from Commentary on Psalm 19 or 20 p.170. Also ch.7.14 p.189), and Origen (Origen Against Celsus book 2 ch.43 p.448) also taught that Christ preached to the dead to convert some.

Other Christians disagree with this though.

Yes, for four reasons

Y1. All who are, were, or will ever be saved, are saved through the One and only Mediator and Savior, Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 10:7-8; John 10:26-28).

Y2. All need Jesus. Jesus told even the religious Jewish Pharisees, that if they did not believe in Him, they would indeed die in their sins. (John 8:24). Jesus warned them that their rejection of God would send them to Hell (Matthew 23:33-36).

Y3. Even infants who died before knowingly committing any transgression still need Jesus to sanctify them and cleanse them of their sinful nature. While they made no sinful choices, and never intended to do wrong, they still have a selfish, sinful nature and need transformation through Jesus before going to heaven.

Y4. Since Jesus saves everybody who will be saved, then everyone who goes to Heaven, sooner or later will believe in Christ (Romans 14:10-11; Philippians 2:9-11; John 6:37,45).

   On point Y3, a Christian once disagreed with me on this, and said, that if they cannot make a decision for Jesus, then they cannot go to heaven. However, we have to see, at the most basic level, what is the one “thing” that saves us? Ultimately the root cause is not our decision that saves us, because it is not even “us” that saves us. At the most fundamental level, it is God who saves us. He saves all the saved through Jesus, but we do not exactly how He will to that for infants, those who lived before Christ, etc.. What we know is that He is God!

   See When Critics Ask p.437-438 and Now That’s a Good Question p.301-303 for more info. Read the book Eternity in Their Hearts, for how the true God may have revealed Himself to others apart from Bible, as God revealed Himself to Abram.

 

7. In Rom 1:18-23, how do you explain to non-believers that people have an obligation to God?

A: Whether growing up or as adults we have obligations to our parents. In school we have an obligation to obey the teacher. As we drive cars we have an obligation to obey the laws, and obey the instructions of a policeman. With all of these obligations, which most people, outside of prison, accept, why would we think we don’t have any obligation to our creator?

   God gave us life, air, sustenance, and asks us to acknowledge and worship Him. For those who don’t want to worship the true God, after death God will set them off in their own universe, apart from Him. Of course, God is the source of all goodness and love. That other universe is the Lake of Fire.

   See David Geisler’s Conversations that Count presentation for more on this.

 

8. In Rom 1:20, what exactly can we learn to what extent can people learn God’s truth and the Gospel from observing Creation?

A: We can learn three things, but not learn a fourth thing.

1. The existence of some kind of Creator (personal or impersonal) from the existence of Creation.

2. God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature (Romans 1:20).

3. Some understanding of God’s moral law (Romans 2:14-16).

   From creation, people cannot learn of the mystery of Christ. (Ephesians 3:4-6,9; 6:19; Colossians 1:26-27; 2:2; 4:3; Romans 16:25-26; 1 Peter 1:10-12).

 

9. In Rom 1:20, could someone possibly be saved solely by believing what can be learned from Creation?

A: No. In reality, none are. Apart from God, none seek God, as Romans 3:9-20 says.

Hypothetically speaking, the question contains a false premise. The question assumes that God is passive, and if someone were seeking Him, God would simply sit there and not desire to draw them into the truth. Actually, God probably wants people to believe the truth more than people want to believe the truth themselves.

 


 

Romans 1:24-32 First the Bad News for Humanity 2 – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 1:24,26,28, since God does not like ungodliness, then why did God desire to give ungodly people over to greater ungodliness?

A: God does not like ungodliness, but if someone wants to be ungodly, God lets them move in the direction they want to go. Romans 1 shows that one of the consequences of sin is the desire for worse sin. Either you are desiring to sin more, or you are hungering and thirsting for righteousness as Jesus commended in Matthew 5:6. By the way, Christians should never stop hungering and thirsting for more righteousness. See Now That’s a Good Question p.165-166 for more info.

 

2. In Rom 1:24,26,28 three times it says “God gave them over”. How does God give people over, and are there different levels?

A: Some good artists can just draw a few strokes, and you already know what was drawn. In a similar fashion, Paul is drawing a brief sketch of people’s hearts. God successively gave them over to uncleanness, vile affections, and debased thinking. The sinful world is topsy-turvy. Animals have become more important than people, genders have changed, and wrong has become right, at least in the eyes of the world. This same term was used in the Old Testament where Israel’s enemies were handed over to Israel in Exodus 23:31 and Deuteronomy 7:23. More telling, it is also used when God handed rebellious Israel over to her enemies in Leviticus 26:25; Deuteronomy 7:23; Joshua 7:7; and Judges 2:14; 6:1,13..

   God handing them over is not just God passively withdrawing His blessing, as John Chrysostom, but also actively bringing enemies as Habakkuk 1 shows.

See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1678-1679, the New International Bible Commentary p.1319, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.931, and The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary p.105-106 for more info.

 

3. In Rom 1:24,26,28 was God handing them over for correction of themselves, or others, or punishment?

A: It does not have to be just one. For those who have ears to hear, it can be for correction. For the wise, they can learn from the mistakes of others. But for foolish people who do not heed correction, it serves only as punishment that can lead to further punishment. One can picture these sins as tall metal poles, attached to your roof’s wood shingles, during a lightning storm, attracting God’s wrath. See The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary p.105-106 for more info.

 

4. In Rom 1:25, the Greek does not say “for a lie”, but “the lie”. What exactly is the lie?

A: It is not any one of the individual sins pointed out, but rather the totality of “the lie” that they don’t need to pay attention to God and they have no obligation to obey God.

See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.25 for more info.

 

5. Does Rom 1:26-27 mean only that one cannot change to be a homosexual, but if one is born a homosexual, it is OK to practice it?

A: No. Romans 1:26-27 says that both men and women sin terribly in exchanging natural relations for unnatural homosexual relations. Now some have suggested that only the “exchanging” is wicked, and it is OK to be homosexual if you were born that way. But this cannot be so. Not only is the emphasis in this verse on the relations themselves being “shameful”, the word “exchange”, metallaso, is the same Greek word used for exchanging the truth of God for a lie. So the problem is not just the “exchanging”, but the “indecent acts with other men” as Romans 1:27 says. Since Leviticus 18:22,24; 20:13 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 show that the practice of homosexuality is evil, of course it is never OK to be in an evil state. This is true whether immorality is gay or straight, the point being that we all are born with a sinful nature and need to be born again to be holy. See also the discussion on Leviticus 18:22,24; 20:13, and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. As an aside, the Greek term “shameful lusts” can also be translated as “passions of disgrace” according to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.443 of “dishonorable passions” according to Wuest’s Translation.

   Paul was Jewish and other Jewish writes who wrote in Greek use this Greek phrase “unnatural use” para physin to mean homosexuality in Philo Special Laws 3:39 and Josephus’ Against Apion 2.273 according to The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 by Douglas Moo p.109.

   Here is a Jewish writing with some similarity to Paul’s writing. “Sun and moon and stars change not their order; so do ye also change not the law of God in the disorderliness of your doings. The Gentiles went astray, and forsook the Lord, and changed their order, and obeyed stocks and stones, spirits of deceit. But ye shall not be so, my children, recognizing in the firmament, in the earth, and in the sea, and in all created things, the Lord who made all things, that ye become not as Sodom, which changed the order of nature (Testament of Napthali 3:2-4). Quoted from The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.27

   Tertullian in de Corona ch.6 p.96 interprets Romans 1:26 as saying males and females changed among themselves the natural use into the unnatural “by way of penal retribution for their error.” See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.543-545, When Cultists Ask p.210, and When Critics Ask p.438-439 for more info.

 

6. On Rom 1:26-27 the skeptic Bart Ehrman writes, “In thinking about which parts of the Bible have something to say in the modern context, it is important to recall the historical view that the biblical authors were all living in a different world from ours and reflected the assumptions and beliefs of people in their world. Their world, to pick a particularly cogent example, had no concept of what we think of as homosexuality. To put it differently, homosexuality didn’t exist in that world. Why? Not because men didn’t have sex with men (they did) or women with women (they did), but because there was no sense of sexual orientation in that world, or any world, until the notion of sexual orientation developed among Western thinkers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.” (Jesus, Interrupted p.280)

   Ehrman uses the two preceding examples to generalize. “So, too, with all the Bible’s teachings – about women, about same-sex relations, about extra-marital sex, about capital punishment, about war, about wealth, about slavery, about disease, about … well, about everything.” (Jesus, Interrupted p.281)

A: Wow! Apparently Ehrman has not read the Old Testament in a very long time, especially Leviticus 21:22,29. Surely he does not think Leviticus 21 was “developed among Western thinkers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries”! Rather than the nineteenth century, it was actually the fifteenth century, - B.C.!

   Whatever pagan later people did many centuries later did not affect the concept of same-sex relationships being evil for a Jewish person (such as Saul of Tarsus or even Jesus), because they could read the Old Testament. By the way, long before western nineteenth century thinkers existed, at least 11 early Christian writers wrote specifically against homosexuality prior to 325 A.D. You can see these at www.BibleQuery.org/History/ChurchHistory/WhatEarlyChristiansTaught.html. In my opinion, Ehrman is simply amazing here.

 

7. In Rom 1:26-27, how does God give people over to the lust of their hearts?

A: One of the punishments of sin is more desire to sin. A consequence of sin is that it is a vicious cycle. You can think of unrepentant sin similar to an astronomical “black hole” that sucks in everything around it. It is almost like “leveling up” in a video game, except that instead of winning more and more, the person is ultimately losing more and more. Revelation 22:11 and Daniel 12:10 also imply that good and evil will both multiply. See Now That’s a Good Question p.165 for more info.

 

8. In Rom 1:30, how do some “invent ways of doing evil”?

A: Doing evil is not limited to things spelled out in the Bible, but going against God’s will and the good things in the Bible. “Do unto others…” vs. thinking of new ways to defraud people, either with small scams, or with investments, or a government official with quirky laws. Another way is thinking of new ways to hurt someone’s reputation. torture people, so that you can show it in movies. If a new movie is made showing a new kind of horror, do you want to watch it? If you are God’s child, then why?

   There is a fable about the heart of the wicked called the frog and the scorpion. It has been attributed to Aesop, but actually was not know until it was in two Russian novels in 1933 and 1940. In this fable a frog and a scorpion need to cross a river. The scorpion can’t swim, so it asks the frog for a ride on its back. The frog is reluctant because if the scorpion stings him, he will drown. The scorpion explains that he won’t sting the frog, because if he stings the frog they both drown. So the frog agrees and starts across. Midway through, the scorpion stings the frog. Asa the paralysis comes over the frog, he asks the scorpion why he did that, because now they both will die. The scorpion says he could not help it, it is in his nature. Evil can not only hurt others, but often be self-sabotaging too.

 

9. In Rom 1:32, why is agreeing with evil almost as bad as doing it, if you are not the one doing it?

A: You are encouraging other people to do evil. It can appear that it is right, or at least not too bad, if you agree with it too.

You are encouraging the people who did the evil to continue on, rather than repenting.

Finally, when you heard your own words enough, you might be encouraging yourself too.

See The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.116-117 for more info.

 


 

Romans 2:1-17 Even the Moral Aren’t Really – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 2:1-11, why the shift in tone?

A: Paul is anticipating his readers’ reactions. Romans 1 emphasizes what “they” did; “they” being wicked people who did not even want to try to follow God. Rather than the reader feeling this only applies to those other people Paul shifts the pronoun to “you” in Romans 2:1,3,17. This is a “diatribe” or a hypothetical two-way discussion with the reader.

   This shows that everyone seriously falls short, at least apart from Christ. But as one preacher said, you have to show people they are lost before you can show them they need a Savior. Paul systematically laws out the case of our hopelessness, sinking to the strongest point in Romans 3:23. Then Paul shows us the hope, when we were hopeless, in Christ.

   Some think Romans 2:1-29 applies to the Jewish reader. Others think Romans 2:1-16 refers to any moral-seeking reader, Gentile or Jewish, that feels they are righteous, perhaps more righteous than the others, and Romans 2:17-29 narrows the focus to specifically the Jewish reader. There were many Jews in Italy, and the Roman church likely had more Gentiles than Jews. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.28-29 and the New International Commentary on the Bible p.1320-1321 hold the first view. The “majority of commentators have argued that Paul refers to any non-Christian” according to The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary : Romans 1-8 p.139,154, which also supports this view. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.442, (inconsistently) The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary : Romans 1-8 p.125,127, and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1680-1681 hold to the second, and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.931 discusses both views but favors the second, and assumes the second on p.932.

 

2. In Rom 2:2-11, what does this teach us about the judgment of God?

A: It teaches us five things.

1. It is according to the truth Romans 2:2

2. It is inescapable unless a person is forgiven. Romans 2:3

3. It is often delayed. Romans 2:4

4. The severity depends on the accumulated of guilt. Romans 2:5

5. It is according to one’s deeds. Romans 2:6-11

See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1682-1683 for more info.

 

3. In Rom 2:5, what is stubbornness here?

A: The Greek word, skeroteta, is where we get our English word “sclerosis”. So instead of atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries, this is hardening of the soul. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.445 for more info.

 

4. In Rom 2:5, will all of God’s judgment be on one day?

A: Day here does not refer to twenty-four hours. It refers to the time when God will judge. There will be multiple judgments. A bema-seat judgment for believers, and a Great White Throne Judgment for everyone else. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.445 for more info.

 

5. Is Rom 2:6 a part of the section of Roman 2:1-5 or 2:7-11?

A: Grammatically one might think Romans 2:1-5 because of the pronoun “who”.

However organizationally it belongs with Romans 2:7-11, because Jewish people often wrote and thought in chiasms, and this is a chiasm. The word chiasm comes from the name of the Greek letter Chi, which looks like an x. A chiasm is a symmetric organization of thought, and the Old Testament is full of them. Here is this chiasm.

A1. Rom 2:6 God will equitably judge everyone

- B1. Rom 2:7 Do-gooders will get eternal life

- - C1. Rom 2:8    Evil-doers will suffer wrath

- - C2. Rom 2:9 Wrath for those who do evil

- B2. Rom 2:10 Glory for those who do good

A2. Rom 2:11 God judges impartially

See The Wycliffe Bible Commentary : Romans 1-8 p.135 for more info.

 

6. In Rom 2:6-7, are good works a condition of salvation?

A: No, this says rewards of good works, not saved by good works. Three points to consider in the answer.

1. All should be able to agree that good works have some relationship to eternal life; the two should go hand in hand.

2. Absent from this passage is any concept of Christ’s sacrifice being incomplete or insufficient. Also absent is the concept that people merit eternal life.

3. Since works are not a precondition of salvation, and they are related to salvation, then how are they related? Works are related as an output, a result of salvation, as both Ephesians 2:9-10 and James 2:18-26 show. They are a sign of salvation, just as a heartbeat is a sign that a person is alive.

   See When Cultists Ask p.210-212 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.445 for more info.

 

7. In Rom 2:6, will judgment be different for different people?

A: Yes, in a number of ways.

For unbelievers, the punishment for some will be more severe than others, as Matthew 10:15; 11:22-24 and Mark 12:40 indicate.

For believers, there will be different rewards in Heaven, as Matthew 5:12; 10:42; 6:19-21; Luke 6:23; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; and Revelation 22:12 teach.

In general, Jesus in Matthew 5:7 says that those who show mercy will be shown mercy.

   See Now That’s a Good Question p.502-503 for a complementary answer.

 

8. In Rom 2:7, do we get immortal life now, or later?

A: We get the fullness of eternal life later, but we receive the sure promise of it now. See the discussion on 1 Timothy 6:16 for more info. When Cultists Ask p.212-213 shows how a Christian has immortality from the moment she or he first believes.

 

9. In Rom 2:11, since God is not a respecter of persons, why did He distinguish between Jews and Gentiles (Rom 3:1-2), especially Moabites?

A: We first must distinguish between eternal justice and earthly situations and curses. The Bible teaches us that God is not a respecter of persons individually in many ways (such as salvation), but God is a respecter of persons and their nationality in other ways. Note that examples on both sides are found in the same books, so this contrast was not an accidental “mistake” by various authors, but a deliberate intention by Paul.

   God is not a respecter of persons in judgment and for those who seek or reject Him:

For there is no respect of persons with God (or God does not show favoritism) in Romans 2:11 and Acts 10:34-35 (Peter is speaking). All have the same value to God (Galatians 3:28). God saves all who call upon Him (Romans 10:11-12). Salvation the same for Jews and Gentiles (Acts 17:26-27)

Gud judges according to works based on Romans 2:6; Psalm 62:12; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Hosea 12:2; Proverbs 24:12 (LXX); (partial) Matthew 16:27; 2 Corinthians 11:15; 2 Timothy 4:14. In Jewish writings Mishna ‘Abot 3:15’.

God does favor some: Scripture never claims God had everyone born under equal circumstances. Observations of life confirm this. Aaron was ordained to be a priest, and his actions at Mt. Sinai show he was not necessarily more deserving. Everyone in every culture has the opportunity to know enough about God through Creation, that they could seek to know more. Jesus promised in Matthew 7:7-12, that those who ask, seek, and knock, will receive, find, and have the door opened for them.

In summary,

1. In this life some people have better circumstances than others.

2. God judges everyone justly, and He takes all factors into account.

3. No matter what a person’s circumstance, nobody has any excuse for not acting on the truth they already have now.

   See The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.135 for more info.

 

10. In Rom 2:12, are all who never heard of the Old Testament Law or Christ, going to Hell with no chance of being saved?

A: No. Job was not necessarily a Jew, and God revealed Himself to Job. Abraham and everyone up to Moses, who did not have the Old Testament Law. Ultimately, it is not obedience to the Gospel that saves, or even the Gospel that saves. It is God who saves through Jesus, and He can do things however He wants.

   See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.385-388, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.545-547, and When Cultists Ask p.208-209, and the book Eternity in Their Hearts for more info.

 

11. In Rom 2:14, how are Gentiles allowed to be a law unto themselves?

A: The stoic philosophers had the idea that law was rooted in nature, according to The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.153. But here in Romans this does not mean people can make up whatever law and morality they wish to follow.

This does mean

1) All have some idea of the truth, in nature and their conscience (Romans 1:19-20; 2:14-16).

2) All are responsible to follow all the truth they know (Romans 2:15).

3) All who try to follow the truth they know will fall short (Romans 3:23) and be conscious of that.

4) God is just; sin is not counted where there is no law (Romans 4:15; 5:13).

5) However, some ignorance is not innocent ignorance (Romans 1:21-22,25).

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1684-1685 for more info.

 

12. In Rom 2:14-15; Acts 23:1; 24:16; 1 Cor 8:7,10,12; 1 Tim 1:5,19, 3:9, 4:2; 2 Tim 1:3; Tt 1:15; Heb 9:14, 10:22; 13:18, what does the Bible say about people’s conscience?

A: It actually does not say the law is written on their hearts, but rather the work of the law. You can appeal to people’s conscience when witnessing. People have a generic idea of right and wrong. – but why? If there is not God. Would you want to go to a heaven where everyone, repentant or not, is there?

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1683, The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.148, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.446 for more info.

 

13. In Rom 2:16, Ps 44:21; 139; Jer 23:24 Jn 21:17; 1 Cor 14:25; Isaiah 44:7; Luke 12:6 how does God judge people’s secrets?

A: Of course, God’s is everywhere, and God knows everything, but these verses also say something beyond that. There is nothing you can do that is hidden from God, and won’t be revealed during judgment. As a Christian you could do anything you want to do, remembering that for everything you do, even in secrete, God sees, the angels, may see, even demons might see, and possibly people in heaven. So remembering that, go do what you want to do. As one Christian has said, “If it pleases you to please God, you can do as you please.”

 

14. In Rom 2:16, does Paul have “his own Gospel” he preaches?

A: There is only One true Gospel (Galatians 1:8), but it was also Paul’s, just as it is ours.

 


 

 

Romans 2:17-29 Being a Jew Who Doesn’t Obey is Worth Nothing – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 2:17-20, the Jews took something good from God, the Law, and put it in place of God. What are some other ways people can take something good from God, and put it in place of God?

A: When the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness were snake-bit, God told Moses to put up a bronze snake, and when people looked at it they would live. Later in Hezekiah’s time they called it Nehushtan and burned incense to it, so Hezekiah had it destroyed in 2 Kings 18:4. The Jews in Jeremiah’s time trusted in the Temple in Jeremiah 7:1-15. Since that time people have trusted in knowing the scriptures and in their leaders. Since 325 A.D. people have also trusted in the dollar, their church, their works, relics, and their sacrifices and offerings to God. They have trusted in helping the poor, or preaching the gospel, as substitutes for glorifying God by how they live.

   Our security is in God. There is no security in the law, or in circumcision, or in any of these other things. Even though Jesus called the Pharisees blind guides in Matthew 15:14, they still boasted about being guides for the blind.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.33, the New International Bible Commentary p.1321, and The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.158-159 for more info.

 

2. In Rom 2:19, what is the difference between being a guide to the blind and a light for those in darkness, and how are believers to be both?

A: When you are a guide to a blind person, you are telling them the right way to go, and helping them avoid specific dangers, barriers, and falling. This can be an active role. When you are a light for those in darkness you are in general setting an example, that they could follow the light of your lantern and eventually get out of the darkness. Of course, in a cave you don’t put the lantern in one place and stand in another. The lantern is with you, and they see the path based on where you are. They might not see the details, nor the traps along the way, but they see the direction they want to go, not so much from what you say, but form who they see you are. As believers are lives are to be a testimony, but these are two distinct aspects of our testimony.

   Once a Christian friend took a group taxi, and said she was a college student to get the college student discount, even though she had already finished college. I am not sure she even knew she did anything wrong, - until I scolded her about that. That is being a guide to the blind. When you go to a company dinner party, and many people are getting drunk, and you are not even though the alcohol is free, and they know you are a Christian, you are not saying anything specifically, but you are being a light.

 

3. In Rom 2:20, what is the difference between being an instructor to the foolish and a teacher of babes, and how are believers to be both?

A: To quote Mark Train, a fool is one who “knows too many things that ain’t so.” Fools need correction, to unlearn the false things they have learned, and more importantly, to differentiate between the false and true things they have learned. A babe or child knows they need to learn, and you need to teach them the truth, down at their level.

   A Persian proverb goes like this: He who knows, and knows not he knows is asleep; awake him. He who knows not, and knows he knows not, is a child; teach him. He who knows not, and knows not he knows not, is a fool, avoid him. He who knows and knows he knows is a wise man, follow him.

 

4. In Rom 2:21-23, how come it is so easy for people to teach things to others but not follow these same things themselves?

A: In Matthew 7:3-5 and Luke 7:41-42 say that people are so eager to remove the speck in another’s eye, when they have a plank in their own eye. With our sinful nature and natural fallen pride, we either consciously or unconsciously focus on our virtues and downplay our sins and faults, and often focus on others’ sins and faults. But at least if we realize that we ourselves have this tendency, then we are already one step ahead. The next step is to ask God to show you your faults, including your hidden ones. David said in Psalm 19:12-13a, “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me.” (NKJV)

 

5. In Rom 2:21-25 before looking down on these Jews for being inconsistent, sometimes we as Christians are inconsistent and hypocritical too. What could you say to help a Christian who is hypocritical?

A: You aren’t fooling God; actually, you aren’t fooling anyone. Even if you and your sin are not found out now, they may be found out later. Rather than frequently worrying about that, just don’t sin in the first place. You should want to be a good example to others. Don’t look to the short-term pleasure, but the long-term situation your sin will put you in. As a man sows, he reaps.

   Look in the rearview-mirror of your life, and look for toe goodness and mercy of God that He showed you. In the future, when you look back will you be happy with what you see? When you are before Christ’s bema-seat judgment, do you really want to explain to Him why you did what you did, when you knew better?

   To have help in your struggle get an accountability partner. Meet in person, by phone, or electronically once a week, or else more often, pray together, and honestly tell the other person who you are doing in the Lord.

 

6. In Rom 2:24, how was the name of God blasphemed among the Gentiles through the Jews and because of believers in general?

A: The Jews were God’s chosen people, yet through their disobedience, wickedness, and rejection of the Messiah, they did not act like God’s people. The evil actions of those who were considered God’s people dishonored God in the eyes of others.

   Non-believers know that the Jews (and believers in general) follow the Creator and the Scriptures. Yet when they looked at the lifestyle of some believers, and “stealing” (in trade and otherwise), and their “pragmatism”, towards evil religious things, they ask “what’s the difference?” and see no compelling reason to believe things that even some believers act as though they don’t believe.

   Today, every Christian who is known to others as a Christian is a witness for God. The issue then, is not whether or not you are a witness, but whether you are a good witness or a bad witness. As The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.34 says, the labeling in the bottle should match the contents.

   The Greek Epictetus castigates some stoics for not practicing what they preached, likewise Paul is rebuking Jews who do not obey what they intellectually believe. See The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.154 for more info.

 

7. In Rom 2:24, why does this blasphemy matter? In other words, who is hearing and seeing this blasphemy?

A: Romans 2:24 says the Gentiles (non-Jews) see the blasphemy by the Jews. It matters in two ways.

1. It tends to drive people away from God to see those who are called God’s people blaspheme God’s name.

2. God says He is a jealous God. Part of that is that God does not like His name and reputation slandered and dishonored.

3. It can stumble young believers, who thought that some sin was serious, but when they see more mature Christians doing it, then they might conclude it is not so serious after all.

 

8. In Rom 2:25 and Php 3:2-5, apart from the Bible how do we know that the Jews in Paul’s day trusted in circumcision too much?

A: It was believed that “no person who is circumcised will go down to Gehenna) Exodus Rabbi 19 (81c); See also Tanch. B. 60(b), 8: Genesis R. 9 [30(a)]. It was written that Abraham stood just outside the gate of Gehenna to ensure that no circumcised man would go there in Genesis R 48.

   See The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.163 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.34 for more info.

 

9. In Rom 2:25-29, was Paul against the Jews?

A: No. Some people make that claim, but this verse shows the opposite.

First of all, Paul is against hypocritical Jews.

Second, Paul says there are people who follow the truth but are not circumcised as Jews.

Finally, Paul here holds up as the highest standard being a real Jew. So Paul is complimentary of the real Jews who follow God’s law non-hypocritically.

 

10. In Rom 2:27, why would Paul bring up that even moral non-Jews would judge Jews who did not keep the law?

A: One reason likely is because Jews thought the righteous people would sit in judgment over the unrighteous people, in 1 Enoch 91:12; 98:12; The Apocalypse of Abraham 29:19-21; Wisdom 3:8. See The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.167 for more info. Yet Jesus said even the people of Nineveh (who repented in Jonah’s time) and the Queen of Sheba would rise up in judgment against the Jews who accepted Jesus’ words in Matthew 12:41-42 and Luke 11:31-32.

 


 

Romans 3:1-20 It is Hopeless for All – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 3:2, what does being entrusted with the oracles of God mean exactly?

A: Being entrusted does not just mean receiving them, but preserving and transmitting them too.

See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.35 for more info.

 

2. In Rom 3:4, what does “let God be true and every man a liar” mean?

A: It does not excuse anyone’s lying. Rather, it means that God is still true, even if every single person on earth were to think otherwise. God being true is an absolute. Psalm 116:11f and Psalm 5:4f have similar thoughts. Ephesians 4:25 says we are to put off falsehood and speak truthfully. See The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.186 and  The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.448 for more info.

 

3. In Rom 3:5, how does people’s unrighteousness commend/demonstrate God’s righteousness?

A: Righteousness and unrighteousness are not equal and opposites. Rather, unrighteousness is a deficiency or twisting of God’s righteousness. As evidence of this, even in their unrighteousness, people often recognize they are unrighteous, and they prefer righteousness, - at least in others.

 

4. In Rom 3:7, do people’s lies glorify God?

A: People’s lies never directly glorify God. However, Romans 3:7 is relating the amazing fact that despite people’s lies and deception, people in general still acknowledge God and his moral law.

 

5. In Rom 3:8, why shouldn’t we do evil so that good may result? (The Russian Khlysty cult and evil libertine Grigori Rasputin taught this.)

A: If this were true, then Satan would have caused more good than anyone else. God many times does use evil for good. That does not justify people doing evil, or keep people who lived like Rasputin from suffering the consequences in the Lake of Fire for their evil. See the discussion on Romans 6:1,15 for more info.

   When asked why he said that sin is indispensable before God, Rasputin answered “‘Certainly, little father’ he said, ‘our Saviour and the holy fathers have denounced sin, since it is a work of the Evil One. But how can you drive out evil, little father, except by sincere repentance? And how can you sincerely repent, if you have not sinned? …Away with your Scriptures!’ he thundered. ‘Scriptures! Truly, I warn you, little father, cease this vain and useless labour so that you may stand before the Lord. Take life as it is, for it alone is given you by God. And let me say this to you. Be not for ever brooding on whence comes sin, on how many prayers a man must say a day, and how long he must fast to escape from sin! Sin, if sin still lurks in you; only in this way can you overcome it! Sin, then you will repent and drive evil from you. So long as you bear sin secretly within you, and fearfully cover it up with fasting, prayer, and eternal discussion of the Scriptures, so long will you remain hypocrites and good-for-nothings, and such are hateful to the Lord. The filth must be expelled, do you hear, little father? Only then will your savour be well pleasing to the Lord?’” (Rasputin : The Holy Devil p.54-55)

   Notice his perverse logic.

1) Since this is bad, you should repent of sin.

2) You cannot repent of sin unless you have sinned.

3) Therefore to overcome sin in you, first go commit sin!

   People are clever enough to make up some excuse to justify almost any evil thing, at least in their own mind, if they try really hard.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.36 and the New International Bible Commentary p.1321-1322 for more info.

 

6. In Rom 3:11, Ps 14:2-3, Ps 53:3, since no one seeks after God, how could David seek after God in Ps 27:8, 105:4; 31:1, 34:4; 28:1-2, 42:1-2; 120:1?

A: Romans 3:11 is actually quoting from David in Psalm 14:2. There are five points to consider in the answer.

1. Many, including David, do genuinely seek God (Jeremiah 29:13; Deuteronomy 4:29)

2. No one, including David, seeks God on their own.

3. God loved us before we loved Him (1 John 4:19), and God sought us before we sought Him. No one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him (John 6:44).

4. Even our faith, and our seeking God, is a gift given by God.

5. A key role of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of guilt in regard to sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-11). Thus, God has given everyone some witness. Presumably everyone has been given the gift of at least some ability to seek Him. Some genuine Christians disagree on this last point, though.

   John Chrysostom (392-407 A.D.) said this in his Commentary on Galatians ch.2 verse 23 p.23 when referring to Psalm 63:1: “Moreover, this language teaches that each individual justly owes as a great debt of gratitude to Christ, as if He had come for his sake alone, for He would not have grudged this His condescension though but for one, so that the measure of His love to each is as great as to the whole world. Truly the Sacrifice was offered for all mankind, and was sufficient to save all, but those who enjoy the blessing are the believing only.” John Chrysostom mentions that the supper was prepared for all in Luke 14:16, yet when the guests did not come, he called in others. (This is from The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers First Series vol.13 p.23.)

 

7. In Rom 3:13-19, do these Old Testament passages refer to some evil people, or all people?

A: They refer to all of us, to some degree or another. One of the passages quoted, Psalms 14:1-3, explicitly says it refers to everyone. Besides that, James 2:10 says that whoever keeps all the law except one point, is still guilty of breaking the law.

 

8. In Rom 3:20, was the law a failure?

A: Your view depends on what you think it was designed to do.

If someone’s hope was that they could fully follow the law and be right with God by that alone, then yes. But Paul says otherwise in 1 Timothy 1:8 said the law was not made for the righteous, but for the unrighteous. It was a “pedagogue” to train us up in righteousness. A rich family might hire a pedagogue for their son. A pedagogue was a combination of teacher, tutor, and strict disciplinarian. Romans 3:20 likewise says the purpose of the law was to make us conscious of sin.

The law did not make people evil. Rather it was an ‘x-ray to expose what was inside of us. We would not know that a crooked line could be straight, if we had not seen a straight line.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1686-1687 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.450 for more info.

 


 

Romans 3:21-31 A New Way of Justification – some brief answers

 

1. Some Bible passages could start a revival, or even change a whole city. But today we are going to look at a passage that changed half a continent (Romans 3:21-26). In his Bible Martin Luther called this, “the chief point, and the very central place of the Epistle, and of the whole Bible” How do you think this launched the Lutheran Reformation?

A: Most of religion is working to do what you need to do to get yourself to go to heaven, nirvana, or even merging with a cosmic flame. In Roman Catholicism (but not eastern orthodoxy) it was to limit your time in painful Purgatory. But Luther discovered from Paul that true Christianity was not “doing” but “done”. It is not what we do, but what Christ has already done for us. All of those extra penances the priests said God wanted them to do when they sinned, were actually distracting and detracting from the finished work of Christ. When Martin Luther, and others, saw this afresh, I am sure they had to paused and take a deep breath. This was continent shaking.

 

2. In Rom 3:22, is it our faith in Jesus, or Jesus’ faith?

A: It is our faith in Jesus as the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.933, The Expositor’s Commentary on the Bible vol.10 p.41, and The Wycliffe Exegetical Bible Commentary Romans 1-8 p.224-225 say. But it is God’s righteousness, as Romans 3:21,22,25, and 26 all say.

 

3. In Rom 3:23, what would you say to a Christian who says all have sinned, but we do not have a sinful nature, as many Church of Christ people teach?

A: First let’s talk about two peripheral issues, and then the heart of the question.

Even lost people are not as bad as they can be (totally depraved), but since just one willful sin can keep a person out of heaven, then we are all doomed, on our own. So the chance that a human after the fall (besides Jesus) could live out a sinful chance is zero. Jesus did not die on the cross to make good people better; He died to make spiritually dead people alive

   But the heart of the question is this: is there something inside of us, a sinful nature. While the first part of the verse, “all have sinned” might leave open the possibility of not having a sinful nature (but still sinning), the last part of the verse says, “all have turned away.”

We are under the power of darkness according to Colossians 1:11.

Colossians 2:13 “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.”

Ephesians 2:1-5 “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world… (3) among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),”

   One verse they bring up is Ecclesiastes 7:27-29 “Here is what I have found, says the Preacher: ‘Adding one thing to the other to find out the reason, which my soul still seeks but I cannot find: One man among a thousand I have found, But a woman among all these I have not found. Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.’” This shows the ubiquity of sin, but it says that God made people upright. And God did, with Adam and Eve.

 

4. In Rom 3:23, what is the difference between “sins” and “sin”?

A: In Romans “sins” are things: actions, thoughts, or words against God’s will, or actions or words we should have done but omitted to do. “Sin” is the driving force behind those evil actions. “Sins” with an “s” is only in Romans 3:25; 4:7; 7:5; and 11:27. Similarly “sinned” is only in Roman 2:12 (two times), 3:23; 5:12,14,16. “Sin” without the “s” is used in 43 places in Romans, starting with 3:9 “Gentiles, that they are all under sin”

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1688 for more info.

 

5. In Rom 3:23-24, if all who are justified are the same as all who sinned, then are all going to Heaven as universalists teach?

A: No, universalism is a heresy. Universal condemnation, of both Jews and Gentiles, and a universal offer, of righteousness through faith, to both Jews and Gentiles, does not equate to every single person accepting the offer. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.42 for more info.

 

6. In Rom 3:24, what are six ways in which we are justified?

A: Here are the six ways.

We are justified by grace, through the redemption in Christ Jesus in Romans 3:24.

We are justified by faith in Romans 5:1.

We are justified by blood in Romans 5:9.

We are justified by power in Romans 4:24-25.

We are justified by God in Romans 8:33.

We are justified by works in James 2:24, meaning works are the evidence and fruit of our justification.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1689 for more info.

 

7. In Rom 3:24, what would you say to someone who thought people at earlier times or other places that were saved, were saved apart from Christ?

A: If this were true, then Christ’s death on the cross was not necessary, but only option. When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, asking God the Father if there was any other way, why wouldn’t God say, “Sure, you don’t have to go through with this”?

 

8. In Rom 3:25, to what extent is Christ’s death removal of God’s wrath, and to what extent is it removal of our guilt?

A: They go together like kindling and a fire. It is removal us being under God’s wrath, because it is a removal of our guilt by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.44 for more info.

 

9. Does Rom 3:25 mean Christ saved us from our sins up until we were born again, and we are on our own after that?

A: No. The idea that “if it’s to be, it’s up to me” is not Biblical. Many Church of Christ people believe you lose your salvation every time you sin, but you gain it back when you repent. Strangely, they don’t believe you have to be baptized again to be saved again. As one non-Church of Christ quipped, they believe in being washed once, and after that they are dry-cleaned. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1690 for more info.

 

10. In Rom 3:25, since Christ’s death is a propitiation for all our past sins, then if a Christian deliberately sins, does he or she go to Hell, as Heb 10:26-31 might suggest?

A: No. God not only gave us salvation, God sustains our salvation, as 1 John 1:8-10 and 1 John 2:2 show. God carries through our salvation by sealing us for salvation in Ephesians 1:11-14.

 

11. In Rom 3:27-28, is Paul speaking of works of the Mosaic Law, or good works in general?

A: First of all, there is only one law, God’s Law. While Paul has in view the commandments the Jews learned (Romans 3:21), Paul did not forget the parts of God’s Law the Gentiles had, as he specifically mentions them in Romans 3:29-30.

   Let’s assume as true for a second, what some have falsely said, that Paul is only speaking of the Mosaic Law not being able to help merit salvation, and therefore it is possible that good works can partially merit salvation. Now the Mosaic Law did not only say the bad things they could not do, it also specified the good things they should do. If what some have falsely said were true, then the Commandments God gave would not be able to help them merit salvation, but other commandments that God did not give (through forgetfulness, meanness, or some reason) would be able to do so.

   The root issue here is that there is only One God, and people either are trying to obey or disobey Him. Not only does this verse not show that good works can merit salvation, but Ephesians 2:8-9 proves they cannot.

   To better see the relationship between a faith expressing itself in action, and not being justified by works, see the very next chapter in the Bible, Romans 4.

   See also When Cultists Ask p.213-214 for more info.

 

12. In Rom 3:28, how is a man “justified by faith without deeds of the law”, while James 2:24 says “by works a man is justified, and not by faith alone”?

A: We are saved by grace through faith alone, but true faith is not alone, but accompanied by works. The answer is shown in an analogy: “It is impossible, indeed, to separate works from faith, just as it is impossible to separate heat and light from fire.” This quote was from Martin Luther. If you and your friends were around a campfire cooking your food, a “camper” named Paul might point out that it is not the light from the fire that cooks the food but the heat. He would also add that shining your flashlight on the campfire does absolutely nothing to help either. Another “camper” named James would say that you can’t tell if the fire is still there to cook the food except by the light. He would say, if there was no light, then there wasn’t any cooking.

   The rest of a copy of the answer on James 2:14-2.

A sound theology should not just be able to explain both these verses, a sound theology should require both these verses. Even Martin Luther, known for his stand on faith, said “It is impossible, indeed, to separate works from faith, just as it is impossible to separate heat and light from fire.”

   Three points about both Paul and James.

1. Both said nothing to minimize the role of faith as the means of God applying Christ’s justification to us.

2. Both said nothing to minimize the role works in the daily life of a Christian.

3. Neither said that we can merit God’s grace and mercy, either by all the works in the world or the greatest faith in the world.

4. Both show that works were an inseparable outward expression of faith. If people do not want to do good works for God, that is evidence they do not have faith and are not saved.

5. Just as God used different Gospels to accent different parts of Christ’s character, God used Paul and James to accent different aspects of justification. Paul emphasized more that we cannot merit any part of our salvation, we can only call upon the Lord in faith. James emphasized more that true faith is not mere intellectual assent, but a life-trusting decision that is accompanied by works.

In summary, works have no role in meriting our salvation, but works have an essential role in expressing the faith through which we are saved.

Historically, outside of the Bible the first instance we can find this view is in the letter of Clement to the Corinthians, (96-98 A.D.) Chapter 31 speaks of why Abraham was justified. Chapter 32 says, in part “And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men;’ to whom be glory for even and ever. Amen.

   What shall we do, then, brethren? Shall we become slothful in well-doing, and cease from the practice of love? God forbid that any such course should be followed by us! …” (Ante-Nicene Fathers volume 1 (Roberts & Donaldson editors, 1994) p.13)

   It is kind of neat to see that this theology, (of not saved by serving but saved to serve), was echoed and taught as Biblical truth by the early Christians even before the book of Revelation was written and the New Testament was completed. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.696-699 and The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.188-189 for more info.


 

Romans 4 - Old Testament Justification by Faith – some brief answers

 

1. How does Rom 4 fit after Rom 3?

A: Romans 3 makes they claim that there is a righteousness from God apart for the works of the law. Romans 4 provides a scriptural example: Abraham.

 

2. In Rom 4:1, how was Abraham Paul’s father as pertaining to the flesh?

A: Abraham, like us, was justified by faith in Genesis 15:6. The word for father was also used for ancestor, and since Paul was a Jew, Abraham was his ancestor. This is the only time the word “forefather” is used in the New Testament, according to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.452. It also says on p.453 that rabbis taught that Abraham had an excess of merit, available to his descendants. See The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.262-263,274 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.47-48 for more info.

 

3. In Rom 4:3,4,5,6,8,9,10,11 Paul uses the word credit/credited. How is righteous credited to us?

A: God is just, and if He is going to punish any sin, He to be just He must punish all sin. Jesus’ death on the cross satisfied God’s demand for justice for our sin. It is credited to us when we believed; the credit does not “grow” as we do good works or get filled up when we die. Romans 5 goes into details about this credit. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.49 for more info.

 

4. In Rom 4:4-5:15, what contrasts are mentioned between Adam’s fall and Christ’s sacrifice?

A: There are three contrasts.

1. One is a result, and the other is a gift (Romans 4:4-5).

2. The gift differed in degree from the trespass (Romans 5:15). The gift more than corrected the failing of the trespass.

3. They differed in kind. The gift brought justification and life, trespass brought condemnation and death (Romans 5:16-17).

 

5. In Rom 4:8,22, if God did not impute sin to Abraham, was God just to those He does impute sin?

A: Yes. Romans 4:23-24 says that imputing righteousness instead of sin to Abraham was not a solitary case. The same is true for us, if we believe on God. However, for those who trust in their own righteousness instead of God’s, they will be judged on what they did and did not do as Revelation 20:12 and Matthew 25:32-46 show.

 

6. In Rom 4:10, why is it important that Abraham was pronounced justified before he was circumcised?

A: If it was after, then one might think that Abraham earned his justification after the work that he did. But this way, Abraham had not done any work earning justification. Abraham only believed, and he was not circumcised until fourteen years later.

   Secondly, Abraham was not circumcised when he was justified, and so he can be the father in faith to the uncircumcised too.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1692 for more info.

 

7. In Rom 4:15, what is the difference between sin and transgression?

A: Sin is going against what God has commanded. Transgression is knowingly sinning against what God has commanded. All transgression is sin, but innocently ignorant sin is transgression.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1694 and The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.282 for more info.

 

8. In Rom 4:16, why do we need to have faith, instead of certainty?

A: Think about it: Angels do not have faith like us, they have knowledge. There is no salvation through Christ for fallen angels, who knew what they were giving up according to Hebrews 2:16.

   We do not have free will in the same manner that angels and demons do. They have certain knowledge, we have faith. God could have chosen to come to earth every year, prove beyond a shadow of any doubt that He was going to judge everyone, and then tell everyone to freely choose to accept or reject Him. It would not seem like as much of a choice. Rather, it is easy for one to choose not to look into these things, remain in uncertainty and doubt, and go their own way.

   God could have made beings that chose to follow Him because they knew for certain how everything was. God did, and they are called angels. God made us, fallen people. Despite our sinful nature, and despite us not having certain knowledge, God has enabled us to choose to come to Him.

 

9. In Rom 4:17,18, how was Abraham the father of many nations?

A: Abraham was the ancestor of the Israelites, Edomites, and Midianites, but that is not the main intent of this verse. Rather, Abraham was the father of all who believe (Romans 4:11) both Jew and Gentiles from all nations.

 

10. In Rom 4:18, how was Abraham’s faith both against hope, and in hope?

A: Abraham was neither blind, nor foolish, nor gullible. For a husband who was 100 years old, and a wife who was 90, there naturally was no hope of having any kids. If they were infertile before, reaching the century mark was not going to improve anything. There was just no chance. But God does not need chance, and Abraham knew that. If God promised a son, from Sarah and himself, the Sarah and he were going to remain alive, until after that son was born. Abraham had lost hope in his bodies, and in nature, as any reasonable person should have. Yet at the same time Abraham maintained hope in God, who is Almighty. You can see both aspects in Abraham in Genesis 17:17, where Abraham laughed with hopelessness when God told him Sarah and he would have a son. You can see similar in Sarah in Genesis 18:12.

  One kind of faith says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Php 4:13 NKJV). That is a great kind of faith to have, but that is not the kind of faith Abraham had here. Sarah and Abraham did not see how they could do anything on their own, even with God. But God could make a way when there was no way.

   See The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.288-289 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.52-53 for more info.

 

11. In Rom 4:18, what keeps us from having great faith, like Abraham?

A: There are at least four important things we might want to consider.

a) We might not have room inside us for such great faith; we are already mostly filled up with a flattering view of our own abilities. Abraham knew he needed to depend on God, and Abraham he did not want to stay somewhere when God wanted him to go.

b) It took steps of boldness for Abraham to leave things behind and follow God. We should look where God wants us to take steps of boldness, not to be have danger for no reason, but to obey Him.

c) But Abraham fell, many times, in his walk of faith. Fearing Pharaoh, fearing Abimelech, and wanting to take a shortcut with Hagar. But Abraham got up and kept on walking.

d) Abraham was looking where he was going. He did not dwell on where he had been, or even where he was now, but where he wanted to be, leaving a legacy of being a blessing to many nations.

 

12. In Rom 4:23-25, how does Abraham’s example give us hope?

A: We see hope in three different aspects.

By analogy, even though Abraham’s physical body was dead for having any more children, God could change that. Even though people are dead to sin, God can bring them to life.

By example, God justified Abraham before any works, crediting Abraham’s faith as righteousness. God likewise justifies us before any works, crediting out faith as righteousness.

By situation Abraham was justified fourteen years before he was circumcised. The promise of justification by faith is extended to Jews and Gentiles alike.

If God’s working in our life all depends on us, then I would be scared. But rather it depends on God working in us (Philippians 2:13), and we can have confidence in Him, if we will only trust Him to do His good work.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.53-54 for more info.


 

Romans 5:1-12a Our Justification in the Great Exchange – some brief answers

 

With the start of chapter 5, the Book of Romans starts getting more detailed.

 

1. How does Rom 5:1-10 say the exchange of salvation occurs?

A: There are nine aspects mentioned.

1. Justified through faith (5:1).

2. Peace with God (not only just peaceful feelings) (5:1)

3. Access by faith (5:2) into this grace (5:2).

4. The love of God is spread in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (5:5).

5. When we were powerless, Christ died for the ungodly (5:6).

6. God demonstrated His love (5:8).

7. While we were sinners, Christ died for us, the ungodly (5:8).

8. Justified by Christ’s blood (5:9).

9. Reconciled by the death of God’s Son, Jesus (5:10).

   As the New International Bible Commentary p.1324 teaches, justification is not just a doctrine to define and defend, but a cup of blessing to enjoy. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.56-57 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1695-1696 for more info.

 

2. In Rom 5:2, 9-10, is salvation by grace, or by faith?

A: The origin, power, sufficient strength, and effect is by God’s grace of sending Jesus to die for our sins. See Ephesians 2:5,8,9. God chose to mediate this gift through our faith in Jesus. The word here, “introduce” or “to have access” can refer to an introduction to royalty, according to The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.308.

 

3. In Rom 5:3, does this refer to sufferings for Christ, or to sufferings in general?

A: Nothing limits the word tribulation here to just sufferings for being a Christian. Many Christians have tribulations due to health, broken relationships, or loss of loved ones. See The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.310 for more info.

 

4. In Rom 5:7, what is the difference here between a righteous man and a good man?

A: A righteous man keeps the law, and perhaps nothing more. A good man is also a righteous man, but also loves God and loves others. Few people would die for a righteous hermit, though a person might be willing to die for someone they think cars about them. But Christi did neither. He did not die for “good people” or those “almost good enough”. Rather Christ died for the ungodly. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.59 for more info.

 

5. In Rom 5:9, how are we saved from God’s wrath?

A: Three points to consider in the answer.

1. We were not free from wrath from birth, because at one time even the elect (heaven-bound) were objects of wrath in Ephesians 2:3. (Charles Spurgeon makes the same point in “For Whom Did Christ Die?” Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit vol.20 no.1191 p.11)

2. We are free from God’s wrath at the last judgment.

3. However, God may still discipline us (Hebrews 12:5-11), and we still can suffer the wrath of men (Romans 8:36).

 

6. In Rom 5:9,10,15,17,20 what is Paul’s point with the “much mores”?

A: Roman 5:9 “much more” deliverance from God’s wrath

Romans 5:10 “much more” preservation by His resurrected life

Romans 5:15 “much more” the gift of grace

Romans 5:17 “much more” the believer’s reign in life.

Romans 5:21 “much more” abounding grace.

See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1697 for more info.

 

7. In Rom 5:9-21, what results are mentioned because of Christ?

A: This is actually a complex topic. Here are the mentioned results.

1. Justified by his blood. Save from God’s wrath through him. (Romans 5:9)

2. Reconciled to God through the death of his Son (Romans 5:10). Reconcile means the creating or restoration of a relationship. People who were formerly enemies or estranged are now friends.

3. Saved through his life (Romans 5:10).

4. God’s gift and grace overflowed to the many (Romans 5:15).

5. Brought justification (Romans 5:16).

6. Provision of grace and gift of righteousness reign in life (Romans 5:17).

7. Grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life (Romans 5:21).

8. Justification that brings life for all men (Romans 5:18).

9. Many will be made righteous (Romans 5:19).

 

8. In Rom 5:10, were Christians reconciled by Christ’s death, or his life, and what is the difference Paul is trying to show?

A: Paul is trying to show that Jesus did more than one thing for us. By His death, Jesus paid the price for our sin. By rising again, with His resurrected life He gives us life and has become our life. Finally, if we are justified by grace through faith, the evidence will be clear, by our good works.

 

9. In Rom 5:12, what does “Therefore / Because of this” refer to?

A: This directly refers to what has previously been said about justification in Romans 5:1-22. Since each chapter of Romans builds on the previous parts, one can see it referring indirectly to all the preceding book of Romans.

 

10. Does Rom 5:12 show that before birth we are only potential human beings, and not actual ones? (so that abortion would be OK)

A: No, there are many good pro-life verses in the Bible, but this is not one of them. This verse does not refer to the time between conception and birth, but the time of Adam before our conception. See also the discussion on Hebrews 7:9-10. See the New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology p.131-133 for more info on abortion.

 

11. In Rom 5:12-19, how was Adam’s curse to us a “type” of Christ’s imputation of righteousness?

A: All Christians agree on the following.

1. All people received death, corruption, sinful nature, and curses because of what Adam did. Adam and Eve received spiritual death right away, and their physical bodies started dying right away, though they did not physical die until almost a thousand years later.

2. Jesus bore the punishment for our sins.

3. The elect receive eternal life, righteousness, sanctification, and blessings from Christ.

Christians disagree on the following:

Some genuine Christians say that for Adam to us, us to Christ, and Christ to believers, the nature of the imputation is the same. (Charles Hodge in Systematic Theology p.194 and his Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans p.142-190). Some go so far as to teach that if God had not pronounced all humans, infants included, guilty and worthy of God’s wrath for what Adam did, then God would not have the “right” to impute Christ’s righteousness to all the elect. All die, even babies, thus proving they have the curse and the guilt of Adam.

 However, there are at least three key inconsistencies with this view.

1. If all people “merited” Adam’s guilt, then if the imputation is the same as Hodge says, Christ “merited” our guilt. And did Jesus merit Eve’s guilt?

2. If the reprobate took Adam’s guilt, then Adam did not have the guilt anymore, or else God gives actual punishment for the same guilt twice.

3. Baby animals die too. Nature bore the curse of Adam’s sin, but death no more proves baby humans are guilty for Adam’s sin, than baby puppies are guilty for Adam’s sin.

Many other genuine Christians strongly disagree that we have Adam’s guilt. Jesus was not guilty of any sin, not even ours. Rather Jesus chose to bear the consequences of our guilt by dying on the cross and descending to the grave. While Jesus bore our sin (Hebrews 9:28), and Him who had no sin became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), Jesus still remained without sin (Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 2:22), and in Him is no sin (1 John 3:5).

Perhaps in agreeing to disagree, here is something all Christians can agree on: We stood as guilty sinners for our own sins. We are as much a guilty sinner for Adam’s sin as Christ is a guilty sinner for our sin.

 

12. In Rom 5:12-21, how do the curse and imputed righteousness differ?

A: The view of Charles Hodge that the nature of the imputation is the same for both Adam and Christ is not correct for at least eight reasons.

1. Christ bore our punishment and we receive His righteousness in a great two-way exchange. On the other hand, the fall was a one-way transfer; Adam bore nothing from us.

2. Our guilt was removed by Christ, but Adam’s guilt was not lessened by us in any way.

3. Evil came into us, but evil did not come into Christ.

4. We received corruption and sinful nature from Adam, but Christ did not receive corruption, sinful nature, guilt, or blame.

5. Imputation of Christ’s righteousness is mediated by our faith, but there is no faith or even lack of faith involved in Adam’s sin. (Douglas Moo Commentary on Romans 1-8 p.338-339.)

6. Christ chose to atone for us; Adam did not voluntary choose to transfer anything to His offspring.

7. Christ’s righteousness is given to us with our consent with Christ. Adam’s curse (and some believe guilt) was involuntary on our part.

8. Christ’s righteousness was not “transmitted” through parents. Some Christians have what is called a traducian theology; they believe Adam’s guilt is transmitted through parents or else through the father.

   Unless someone would deny these eight differences (and I think even Charles Hodge would not), then it is inconsistent to say the nature of imputation is the same.

 


 

Romans 5:12-21 Adam, Christ, and Us, Part 1 – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 5:12-21, how is the atonement of Christ linked with Adam’s fall?

A: All Christians agree the atonement is linked with Adam’s fall in the following two ways.

1. “As we received sinful nature from Adam, we are being sanctified to be Christlike.

2. In addition, as we were born alienated from God due to Adam, we are reborn as God’s children in Christ.

All Christians do not necessarily agree with the following three ways.

3. The NIV Study Bible p.1713 says that Romans 5:18 “does not mean that everyone eventually will be saved, but that salvation is available to all. To be effective, God’s gracious gift must be received (see v.17)”

4. We received curses from Adam and grace from Christ, but Jesus is no more guilty for our sins than we are for Adam’s.

5. If God did not impute Adam’s guilt to us, God could not impute Christ’s righteousness.

6. If God does not punish the reprobate with extra torment in Hell, Jesus would be unable to choose to take our punishment.

 

2. In Rom 5:12-19, what is mentioned as the scope of each Adam’s Fall and Christ’s sacrifice?

A: Christians sometimes debate whether Christ’s atonement significant for everyone (universal), or only significant for some (particular). Both sides can see their favorite aspect here.

Adam’s sin: All (5:12,18), and the many (5:15,19).

Jesus’ justification: the same scope. All (5:18), and the many (5:15,19).

   Adam was the pattern (type), with contrasts, (5:14); condemnation and justification are very symmetric in the passage.

   See also 1 Corinthians 15:21-22,45-49.

 

3. In Rom 5:12-21, what are the links between us and Adam?

A: Scripture does not say, but here are possible views. Each view includes the preceding view.

1. People suffer in this life for what Adam did.

2. We all did the same thing. Adam is an example of us.

3. We inherited sin, that is, a sinful nature.

4. God decided we would inherit the guilt of the one God chose (Adam) to be our representative.

5. Children (including Jewish and Croatian children) inherit the guilt for the crimes of their ancestors. (1/3 of Traducian view)

 

4. In Rom 5:12, how did all sin in Adam?

A: Adam and Eve sinned without first having a sinful nature. We all sin, having Adam’s sinful nature. Beyond this, Christians disagree on this. Here are some views.

Demonstrated result: Because we all sin, that result demonstrates that death and sin came to all men born through Adam. (See Douglas Moo’s Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary on Romans 1-8 p.339.)

Participation in the Curse only: Because of the cause (Adam), the result is that we (humanity) all have the curses of death and a sinful nature. (Romans 5:14)

Participation in both Guilt and Curse: Because of the cause (Adam), the result is that we (humanity) all sinned by participation with Adam, and we also all have the curse of deaths and a sinful nature.

 

5. In Rom 5:12-14, if God condemned us with Adam’s guilt, then why?

A: Genuine Christians disagree, with three main views.

1. Adam’s guilt was not imputed to us, only his nature and curses.

2. Just as God is compelled to punish sin by the demands of justice and holiness in his nature, God is compelled by the demands of justice to impute Adam’s guilt to us.

3. God did not have to impute Adam’s guilt to us to satisfy the demands of justice, but He did it anyway for other reasons.

3a. If God had not framed us for Adam’s guilt, then He could not have justly “framed” Christ as a sacrifice for our sins.

 

6. In Rom 5:12-18, what is original sin?

A: Original sin is a concept with two parts:

1. We all inherited a sinful nature, and by birth are estranged from God.

2. We all have guilt, not just for our own sins, but also for Adam’s sin.

   Christians are in agreement with the first point, but most Christians believe the second point is wrong. Among the first people to teach the second point were Ambrose of Milan (370-390 A.D.) and Augustine of Hippo. Both of them were among the first Christians to support persecution of non-Christians. The New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology p.641-643 says on original sin “More seriously, there is an incompatibility between the notion of guilt and that of inheritance. Our language of the guiltiness of human persons seems meaningful only in the context of decision and acts in which we are ourselves in some means involved.”

 

7. In Rom 5:12-18, how is Adam’s guilt imputed to us (if at all)?

A: Romans 5:12-18 does not say exactly how. Christians greatly differ on the answer to this question. Here are some statements, and people can believe more than one.

1. We inherit Adam’s nature, but we never had Adam’s guilt imputed to us in any way.

2. All had Adam’s guilt, but in Christ, Adam’s guilt was forgiven and removed for 100% of all people. (Prevenient Grace theory)

3. Adam’s guilt is forgiven and removed for all, as in the previous, but it is reapplied for those who reject Christ (Millard Erickson’s view).

4. All had Adam’s guilt, but in Christ, Adam’s guilt is forgiven and removed for the elect.

5. Babies might possibly be in the Lake of Fire solely due to Adam’s guilt, with no personal guilt of their own.

6. People in the Lake of Fire can blame part of their suffering on Adam’s sin.

7. Because of our imputation, Adam’s own guilt was decreased.

8. Adam’s guilt was not decreased, and God counted guilt twice.

9. Adam’s guilt is imputed to us, but not in any meaningful way.

   Both Calvinists and non-Calvinists can agree with the Calvinist New Geneva Study Bible p.1775 here. It says all sinned in the sin of Adam but states Romans 5:12-21 does not say how.

 

8. In Rom 5:12-19, who are some Christians who believe Adam’s guilt was not imputed to us at all?

A: All of the pre-Nicene church writers never spoke of us bearing the guilt of Adam’s sin, even though they quoted from Romans 5.

Justin Martyr (wrote about c.138-165 A.D.)

Athenagoras (c.177 A.D.)

Clement of Alexandria (wrote 193- 217/220 A.D.)

Arnobius? (297-303 A.D.)

Athanasius of Alexandria (leader at Nicea) (326-373 A.D.)

Gregory of Nyssa (335-394 A.D.)

Basil of Cappadocia (357-379 A.D.)

Gregory of Nazianzus/Nanzianzus (330-391 A.D.) (implied) (On the Theophany ch.13 p.349)

John Chrysostom (392-407 A.D.) (Matthew homily 28:3)

Greek Orthodox church (traducian view of the soul, not no inherited guilt)

Conference of the Society of Friends 1675

Ulrich Zwingli (1454-1531) and Zwinglians (according to Menschreck p.198)

Andreas Karlstadt (Reformer) (1480-1541)

Menno Simons (1495/6-1561) (founder of the Mennonites)

Dirk Philips (1504-1568) (Mennonite)

John Smyth (1570-1612) (General Baptist)

Thomas Helwys (1575-1616) (General Baptist)

Johannes Wollebius (1626-1629)

John Wesley (1703-1791) (worked with Whitfield)

Conservative Methodists

Thomas Coke (1747-1814 Methodist)

Dan Taylor (1738-1816) (General Baptist)

Francis Asbury (1745-1816) (Methodist)

Lyman Beecher (1775-1863)

D.L. Moody? (1837-1899)

Charles W. Carter

Wolfgang Pannenberg (liberal theologian)

Stuart  Denney

Gore Sanday-Headlam

Cranfield

Church of the Nazarene denomination

Assemblies of God denomination

Vast majority of Charismatics

Walter Connor (influential professor at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary)

Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination

The New dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology (IVP)

Athanasius of Alexandria believed we inherited a sin nature, “But Athanasius of Alexandria never hints that we participate in Adam’s actual guilt, i.e. his moral culpability,...” (Kelly Early Christian Doctrines p.346-347)

   “Helwys’s understanding of predestination, except perhaps for the doctrine of the fall of humanity in Adam, is anti-Calvinist - in fact, typically Dutch Baptist. Any imputation of Adam’s sin, or the natural effect of Adam’s fall, is nullified with respect to salvation, since grace is granted to all, to choose for or against God. “(Calvin Augustine Pater in Karlstadt as the Father of Baptist Movements, the Resurgence of Lay Protestantism p.267-268)

   Is it granted to all, to choose for or against God with respect to salvation? The answer to this question is one of the main ways of demarcating a Calvinist from a non-Calvinist.

 

9. In Rom 5:12-19, who are some Christians who believe Adam’s guilt was imputed to us?

A: Augustine of Hippo (388-430 A.D.) (He also believed all unbaptized infants go to Hell.)

Ambrose of Milan (w.370-390 A.D.) On the Mysteries 6 (p.321). Shows Adam’s guilt removed after baptism by washing the feet.

Prosper of Aquitaine (390-463 A.D.)

Vincent of Lerins (c.434 A.D. semi-Pelagian)

Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274 A.D.)

John Wycliffe? (1331-1384)

Council of Trent (1546 A.D.)

Martin Bucer (b.1491-1551)

John Calvin (1509-1564) and Guillaume Farel (1489-1565)

John Knox (w.1546-1572)

Heinrich Bullinger (1504-1575)

Theodore Beza (1519-1605)

Westminster Confession (1646)

John Owen (1616-1683)

John Bunyan (1628-1688)

Johannes Cocceius (w.1669-1699) (main proponent of covenant theology)

George Whitfield (1714-1770) (Calvinist worked with Wesley)

John Gill (1697-1771) (hyper-Calvinist)

Augustus Toplady (b.1740-1778) (Wesley’s critic)

Charles Hodge (1797-1878)

A.A. Hodge (1823-1886)

C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)

B.B. Warfield (1851-1921)

A.W. Pink (1886-1952) (a hyper-Calvinist)

John Murray (1989-1975)

J. Vernon McGee (b.1904-1988)

Loraine Boettner (w.1929-1990)

Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994)

Baptists (Original Baptists and some today)

R.C. Sproul (1939-)

Douglas Moo (1950-) (tentatively, after a 42 page discussion)

Believers Bible Commentary

Wycliffe Bible Dictionary (p.589)

The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Federal Headship or Traducianism)

 

10. In Rom 5:12-19, are there any other views genuine Christians have of whether or not we have Adam’s guilt?

A: There are three other views.

1. All have Adam’s guilt, but Christ provided “prevenient grace”, which cancels Adam’s guilt for all.

H. Orton Wiley (1877-1961)

Norman L. Geisler and Thomas Howe When Critics Ask p.441)

2. Adam’s guilt is imputed only after we choose to sin

Millard Erickson (Christian Theology p.639)

Dr. Honer, Dave Geisler, James P. Boyce (1827-1888) (Baptist theologian)

3. We bear the guilt for Adam’s sin, and we also bear the guilt for our ancestor’s sin.

Anselm (1033-1109)

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Philip Melanchthon (Should kill those who differ) (1497-1562)

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

William G.T. Shedd (1820-1894)

A.H. Strong (1836-1921)

 


 

Romans 5:12-21 Adam, Christ, and Us, Part 2 – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 5:12, are there any extra-Biblical Jewish writings resembling this passage?

A: Yes. Jewish writings resembling Romans 5:12 are 4 Ezra 7:118 (=2 Esdras 7:118), Sirach 25:25, and 2 Baruch 23:4; 48:42; 54:19.

According to Hard Sayings of the Bible p.548, here is what 2 Esdras says,

“[Adam] transgressed … Thou didst appoint death for him and for his descendants….

   For the first Adam, burdened with an evil heart, transgressed and was overcome, as were also all who were descended from him. Thus the disease became permanent.” (2 Esdras 3:7, 21-22)

   “O Adam, what have you done? For though it was you who sinned, the fall was not yours alone, but ours also who are your descendants.” (2 Esdras 7:118).

   Note that this speaks of the consequences to us: we are fallen, diseased, and have death. It does not say we are guilty for Adam’s sin.

 

2. In Rom 5:12, how did Augustine of Hippo and the Latin Vulgate mistranslate this passage?

A: Romans 5:12 was misunderstood by Augustine (v.5 p.302), according to M. Erickson (p.636), C. Daniel (p.242), and J.N.D. Kelly (p.354), since the Latin Vulgate says “in whom” (in quo) while the Greek says “because”.

 

3. In Rom 5:12, did God blame or “frame” everybody for Adam’s guilt as well as their own?

A: From the start of the Middle Ages onward, the Catholic, Reformed, and many Lutheran churches have taught that we bear Adam’s guilt as well as our own. As some Reformed Christians have affirmed when I questioned them, only part of the suffering of people in Hell is for what they did. Part of the suffering is also not for anything they did, but they are being punished by God for what Adam did.

   However, this concept was absent from the early church, (until Ambrose and Augustine), and absent from those who spoke the koine dialect of Greek which was the language of the New Testament.

Justin Martyr (c.150 A.D.) “And again, unless the human race have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions...” (First Apology of Justin Martyr ch.43 p.177) “The words cited above, David uttered 1500 years before Christ... But lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain.”. (The First Apology of Justin Martyr ch.43,44 p.177)

Athenagoras (177 A.D.) “Just as with men, who have freedom of choice as to both virtue and vice (for you would not either honour the good or punish the bad, unless and vice and virtue were in their own power” A Plea for Christians ch.24 p.142

Basil of Cappadocia (357-379 A.D.) Prolegomena “On the other hand, of the evils of hell the cause is not God, but ourselves. The origin and root of sin is what is in our own control and our free will.” (Prolegomena in the Nicene & Post-Nicene Church Fathers Second Series vol. 8 p.lviii)

 

4. In Rom 5:15, does the physical death of all people mean that we are all guilty of Adam’s sin, even babies?

A: No. If physical death was proof of guilt in Adam, then animals would be guilty of Adam’s sin too, because they physically die. The physical death of Adam’s descendants is a curse and a consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin, but it does not prove God calls us guilty for the sins of someone else. Ezekiel 18 and Deuteronomy 24:16 show that a person does not die for his father’s sin, but only for his own.

   Lambs and baby bunnies die, so what sin did they have? But people, who could originally live forever, dying proves that there is something changed in our nature. Even when lambs and baby bunnies die, that shows that nature was cursed too at the fall.

 

5. In Rom 5:16,18, by what process was condemnation the result of one sin?

A: Christians disagree on this. Here are six possibilities, and one can believe a combination of them.

1. Not specified. New Geneva Study Bible footnote on p.1775 says, “Paul does not explain how all mankind was involved with Adam in his sinning, but simply asserts the fact. All sinned in the sin of Adam.”

2. Children (example: AIDS babies) can inherit, in this life, the consequences of sins, even though they were not the guilty ones.

3. More important than 2, God condemned each one of us (us and Adam) because of what each one of us has done.

4. In addition to 2-3, we inherited Adam’s fallen, sinful separated nature, and this nature guarantees we will sin and be condemned.

5. In addition to 2-4, because God pronounced people guilty for acts they did not do. (Thus it is not at all inconsistent with God’s justice to send unbaptized babies and fetuses to be tortured forever in Hell for though they never committed any sinful acts or transgressed any law. Even though they were unaware of the sins, and framed for another’s crimes, God is still just with a divine, incomprehensible justice.) (Federal Headship view) See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.388-390 for more on the Federal Headship view.

6. In addition to 2-5, children are condemned before man and God for the crimes of their parents and ancestors, since their souls were created from the parents’ souls. (1/3 of Traducian view)

 

6. In Rom 5:19, how were the many made sinners?

A: As in the previous question, Christians disagree on this. Again, here are six possibilities, and one can believe a combination of them.

1. This scripture does not explicitly say how.

2. We were made mortal and the door was opened for sin.

3. More important than 2, as God judged Adam for what he did, God judges each of us for what we did in the same way.

4. In addition to 2-3 we are not only sinners because we sin, but also we sin because we are sinners, in other words, we have a sinful nature.

5. In addition to 2-4, we are liable for what we are not personally guilty of (Boettner p.77-78), or sins we did not personally commit (ibid p.238).

6. In addition to 2-5, anyone born of a traitor, adulterer, or sinner, should be punished as a traitor, adulterer, or sinner. (1/3 of Traducian view, which is contrary to Ezekiel 18 and Deuteronomy 24:16.)

 

7. In Rom 5:19, if all are made sinners in Adam, and all are made righteous in Christ, does this mean everyone gets saved, as the heresy of universalism teaches?

A: No. The first “all” is all who are in Adam. The second “all” is all who are in Christ. Not everyone is in Christ. The Children of God cult taught this. Genuine Christians (at least after Rufinus) agree universalism is wrong, but Non-Calvinists and Calvinists have two very different reasons why.

Non-Calvinists include “4-point Calvinists”, Lutherans, “Calminians”, Arminians, and others. They say that Christ offered the payment for everyone. A common illustration is this: Say a man owed a million-dollar debt he could not pay. A generous, wealthy friend opened a bank account, in the man’s name with a million dollars in it, and told the man to withdraw a million dollars and pay the debt. Suppose the man did not believe the wealthy friend, or else withdrew the money and squandered it. Then the man would still be liable for his debt, despite the generosity of the wealthy friend.

   Scripturally, this is the conclusion of three teachings from Scripture.

N1. Christ atoned for all (1 Timothy 2:5-6; 1 John 2:2; Romans 11:32; 1 Timothy 4:10), and God offers and commands obedience to the Gospel for all (2 Thessalonians 1:8; Titus 2:11).

N2. Some will go to the Lake of Fire (Revelation 19:20; 20:10-15; 21:8; Matthew 13:24-43; 25:31-46).

N3. People will be in Hell eternally (Matthew 18:8; 25:41,46; 3:12, Jude 7; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 20:10; 14:9-11).

Calvinists, possibly excepting Amyraldian Calvinists, teach that the first “all” in Romans 5:18 has a different scope than the second “all” in 5:18, and the first “many” in Romans 5:19 has a different scope than the second “many” in 5:19. Perhaps the core tenet of hard-core Calvinism is not definitive atonement, but rather a denial of universal atonement, that Christ did not die for everyone. Many were created with no option to escape the flames of the Second Death.

   Why should some Calvinists think this way? I believe one of the two main reasons they think this way is a misunderstanding God’s Sovereignty. A second reason is mis-defining human depravity in such a way as to restrict God as incapable or unwilling to work in everyone.

Misunderstanding God’s Sovereignty: Some Calvinists have what I believe is a correct view of God’s Sovereignty. God, who can do as He pleases, can choose to delegate a portion of His sovereignty for a limited time. God can permit things to happen, such as sin, that make His heart sad. However, many Calvinists have not reached this understanding. Instead, they think the following.

#1. Many Bible verses speak of God’s special love and grace for the elect, and many non-Calvinists do not pay attention to these verses. (Two key examples are Romans 9:6-23 and Romans 11:3-23)

#2. Many Bible verses speak of God’s foreknown, unthwartable, plan that includes everything and everyone, even the wicked. (Examples include Ephesians 1:11; Proverbs 16:4)

#3. Because of a focused attention on the two previous truths, many (but not all) Calvinists downplay verses where God shows that people having genuine choices (Joshua 24:22-23), and that God has given people the freedom to break His heart (Jeremiah 9:1; Matthew 23:37-39, etc.)

   Why do Calvinists feel this way? I believe it is for two main reasons.

Calvinist error #1 (Absolute future certainty precludes genuine choices). It is difficult for people to comprehend that God is greater than time. When people do not comprehend this, then asking them to really understand that people having genuine choices, and God knowing, with absolute certainty, what to us is called the future, is like asking seventh grade students to understand calculus; it would seem too confusing.

   Many fine Christians are content to hold these two truths together, not being able to comprehend how they interact, but still believing both are true. Other people get into theological difficulties, similar to fatalism, by dropping the truth that we have choices, and making us into robots. Still other people get into theological difficulties of finite Godism by dropping the truth that God knows the future with absolute certainty.

Calvinist error #2 (no lost causes). A second reason Calvinists feel Calvinism is true is communicated well in a Calvinist book, Putting Amazing Back into Grace, by Michael Horton. He has a chapter entitled “No Lost Causes.” Since God is all-powerful, all-knowing, sovereign and nothing happens except what God allows, Horton asserts that God could not do anything in vain, or nothing could happen that God, in the greater sense, does not desire.

However, Jesus lamented over the Jews’ rejection of Him in Matthew 23:37-39.

The Pharisees “rejected God’s purpose for themselves” in Luke 7:30.

Paul implored churchgoers not to receive God’s grace in vain in 2 Corinthians 6:1.

Jesus wept over His people. Why weep, if God did not desire that they do anything differently?

   Finally, it must be mentioned that not all Calvinists go with “no lost causes”. The late Francis Schaeffer, a Swiss Calvinist, said in The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century: “We can glorify God, and both the Old and New Testament say that we can even make God sad. That is tremendous.” (Hymns for the People of God no.364) If others can realize, like Francis Schaeffer did, exactly what God did when God made it possible for people to make Him sad, our awe at God’s amazing grace will be that much more.

   See When Critics Ask p.442 and When Cultists Ask p.311-312, p.214-216 for more info.

 

8. In Rom 5:19, since universalism is refuted in other verses, in what way were all who were made sinners justified?

A: Christians disagree on this. Here are some of the views.

1. Basis for potential justification for all.

2. All elect actually justified, and all sinners means elect sinners.

3. Imprecise wording to demonstrate the parallel: Christ affects His own as certainly as Adam affects his own.

 

9. In Rom 5:19, does sin make us sinners, or does being a sinner make us sin?

A: Christians sometimes dispute this point, but the correct answer is both. A sinner is one who is separated from God. Sinning makes us sinners, but even by birth we were born in an initial state separated from God. Thus we are first born sinners by nature, and after we sin we become sinners by action.

 

10. In Rom 5:20, how was it the purpose of the law to increase sin?

A: Romans 4:15 and Romans 5:12 answer this, showing that God does not count sin as transgression where there is no law. In other words, God does not count unintentional sin until the person is aware it is a sin. Romans 7:7-13 goes into more detail, concluding by saying that the law was given in order that sin might be recognized as sin.

   The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.460 says that the word “added” can be better translated “came in beside”. This is the same verb used in Galatians 2:4 for false brethren who came in beside true believers.

   See also Hard Sayings of the Bible p.550-551 for more info.


 

Romans 6:1-14 The Four-Sided Balance – Part 1 – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 6, how does this tie in with Romans 5?

A: Romans 5 talked about two individuals, the old man - Adam and the new man - Christ. Romans 6 makes this personal, applying it to our lives. Romans 5 triumphantly ends with were sin increased grace increased all the more. Romans 6 balances out why can’t just go on sinning since we now have grace. See The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.391 for more info.

 

2. In Rom 6:1, what can you say to a non-Christian who says Christians think they can do anything they want because they have “fire insurance”?

A: There are four reasons not do, assuming they are a genuine believer going to heaven.

Romans 6:1-11 says you cannot, because positionally, you are united to Christ.

Romans 6:12-14 says you need not, because experientially, God’s grace has broken sin’s mastery over you.

Romans 6:15-19 says you must not, because emphaticallyfearful, you don’t want sin to master you.

Romans 6:20–23 says you had better not, because ultimately, the wages of sin are death.

See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1700 for more info.

 

3. In Rom 6:1, what can you say to an antinomian Christian?

A: There is a difference between living under grace and abusing grace. If you are a parent with a child misbehaving in a shopping mall, you would take the child home early. If we misbehave, our heavenly Father can take us home early too. Grigori Rasputin and the Russian Khlysty cult thought this.

   We need to understand that we were reborn for better than this. Once Augustine of Hippo was greeted by a woman who had been his mistress before he came to Christ. Augustine walked away quickly. She called after him, “Augustine, it’s me, it’s me!” He called back over his should, “Yes, I know, but it’s no longer me!”

See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1702, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.68-69 and The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.373 for more info.

 

4. In Rom 6:1-4, what does this say about a transfer of realm?

A: Just like a water-breathing tadpole becomes an air-breathing frog, and never goes back, we go from rushing towards death to living a new life. It is not just that the “old me” and my sin nature was crucified with Christ, but rather all me was crucified with Christ, because it needed to be. See The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.370-371,390-393 for more info.

 

5. In Rom 6:4, what does this say about baptism?

A: Being buried with Christ in baptism does not make much sense by sprinkling, only immersion does. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1701 for more info.

 

6. In Rom 6:5-7 is this the resurrection of Christ or the resurrection of believers?

A: Paul has in mind the resurrection of Christ here. As Christ was raised to life (past tense), we have new life now. We will be physically raised also, but the end-times is not specifically mentioned here. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.69 for more info.

 

7. In Rom 6:5-7, how are we united with Jesus in death and new life?

A: Romans 6 is a deeper explanation of how God works out His salvation in us in Philippians 2:12-13. Some see Paul’s writing about salvation as “judicial” justification and others as “participational” sanctification, but the truth is, Paul emphasizes both. We are not buried in our grave, but rather metaphorically buried alongside Christ in His. There are at least three ways to look at this.

A break with the old life, a transfer or realm, and a birth rising to a new life.

Renouncing an old master and submitting to a new master.

Turning away from an old destiny and embracing a new destiny.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.69-70 and The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.378-379 for more info.

 

8. In Rom 6:5-7; Gal 2:20; Col 3:9; Eph 4:22; how is our old self crucified in Christ?

A: It does not say “our sold sin nature”, but rather “our old self”, meaning all of us. We have desires, goals, ambitions, make decisions, and choose how to spend our time and money. Being crucified with Christ affects every one of those areas.

   The Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.937 see this as a “inevitable tension” between our authentic self and our inauthentic self. Coming to Christ does not mean you finished the battle; rather it means you are just now joining one.

See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.70 for more info.

 

9. In Rom 6:5; 8; and 1 Cor 15, had believers died with Christ but were not raised with Him yet, or were they are already raised with Christ in Col 2:13 and Eph 2:5-6?

A: Positionally we are already raised to life through Christ in our spirit, and our bodies will be physically raised with Christ in the future. Besides the verses in the question mentioning this, the following are additional verses Paul taught to illustrate both sides.

Romans 6:11 says, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:10-11 shows both aspects clearly: “But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is [present tense] alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will [future tense] also give life to your mortal bodies through this Spirit, who lives in you.” (NIV)

Likewise, Colossians 3:1-4 also shows both aspects. “Since, then, you have been raised [present perfect tense] with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the fight hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now [present tense] hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear [future tense] with him in glory.”

   Romans 6:5; 8, and 1 Corinthians do not deny that we are already raised with Christ in our spirit and positionally. Rather they affirm that it is not merely spiritual resurrection, but future physical raising too. Similarly, Colossians 2:13 and Ephesians 2:5-6 do not deny a future physical resurrection; rather they affirm that it is not merely a future event, put present life in the spirit too.

(Bible quotes from the NIV)

 

10. In Rom 6:6, what exactly is the “body of sin”?

A: In comparing and contrasting the old life and new, this describes two aspects of our old life. Prior to Christ, we in our body, are eager to sin, and live for sin. Second, we in our body, are slaves to our master: sin. Since coming to Christ, the physical body is the same, but what animates and motivates the body is now different. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.70 for more info.

 

11. In Rom 6:7, since Christians are dead in Christ, and they are freed from sin, why do Christians still sin?

A: While Christians will experience sinlessness in Heaven, that is not to what this verse is referring. Romans 6:7 does not say Christians are sinless, only that they are free from being slaves to the bondage of sin.

   However, as a slave might not have heard or believed the message that they are freed, sometimes Christians act as though they were still slaves to sin. If a Christian ever said, “I have to sin, I have no choice”, that Christian would be speaking falsely. Even though we already have new life in Christ, God through Paul sees the need to give us a command here, which we have a choice to obey or disobey. Even though God pronounced sin to no longer have control, we have to actively choose to dethrone in in our lives.

   All Christians agree that we are free from sin in two ways, but scholars differ over the primary intent of this particular verse.

We are free from the legal penalty of sin

“We are justified” New International Bible Commentary p.1328

“Here is the man, for example, who is sentenced to die in the electric chair for murdering a police officer. As soon as he died, he is freed (literally ‘justified’) from that sin. The penalty has been paid and the case is closed.” Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1702. (Bold is in the original.)

   The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.463 says, “The next clause (Rom. 6:6b-7) in effect explains the first clause (v.6a). In his unregenerate state a believer was enslaved to sin. But his ‘old man’ was crucified (identified) with Christ, and that is the basis for deliverance from enslavement to sin. Anyone who has died has been freed from sin. The words ‘has been freed’ are a loose rendering of dedikaiotai, literally, ‘has been justified or declared righteous.’ The perfect tense of this verse decries a past action with a continuing effect or force. Sin no longer has the legal right to force its mastery and control on a believer, for he has died with Christ.” (Bold is in the original.)

   The Expositor’s Greek New Testament vol.2 p.633 “Death clears men of all claims, especially (to come to the case before us) it clears us, who have died with Christ, of the claim of sin, our old master, to rule over us still.”

We are free from the bondage of sin

Douglas Moo discusses three views of this phrase: free from the legal penalty, dying with Christ, and free from the bondage, and says the third view is correct. “death severs the hold of sin on a person” Douglas Moo in The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary p.394 referring to commentators Godet, Michel, Kasemann).

“Set free form [sin’s] shackles and power” (NIV Study Bible p.1714)

“In our relationship with Christ we are free from the bondage to sin; yet it is possible even for the Christian to ‘let sin reign’ (Rom 6:12).” Hard Sayings of the Bible p.553. (Italics in the original)

“in Christ, believers are potentially masters over death and sin” Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.937

“Free from the hold of sin. It’s mastery is broken.” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.70.

   See also The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary p.394 and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.551-553 for more extensive discussions.

 

12. In Rom 6:11, how do we count ourselves dead to sin?

A: There are three aspects.

Paid in full in the past: Our sins were nailed to the cross by Christ dying for us. We are pronounced holy, as our debt is paid in full.

New Life in the present: Today we are freed from the dominion of sin, and we are being sanctified, to be made more holy day-by-day. We are not just to battle sin in our lives, we are to be victors and overcome sin in our lives.

Sinless in the future: Someday, in heaven, we will be totally sinless. The sinful desires, plans, and addictions will all be gone. But we should try to start living that way today.

 

13. In Rom 6:14, how would you explain to a Seventh-Day Adventist that we are not under law but under grace?

A: It’s not Mt. Sinai that makes saints in Christ, but the Mount of Calvary. First ask them if they believe we are not under law but under grace. If they disagree, then quote Romans 6:14 and ask if they believe Paul’s Letter is God’s Word or not? If they say that it is, then say we can discuss how we are not under law but under grace, but saying we are still under the law is not an option for a Bible-believing Christian.

   Seventh-Day Adventists might suspect that you are using “grace” as an excuse to do whatever you want and sin. They also might suspect (correctly), that you have cast aside the old written code. You have, because you serve in the new way of the Spirit, not the old way of the written code (Romans 7:6). See also 2 Corinthians 3:3, where we no longer follow the law God wrote on stone, but instead the law God wrote on the flesh or our heart. Romans 9:32 warns of being like the Jews were did not pursue righteousness by faith but by the works of the law. Christ canceled the written code in Colossians 2:14. The new covenant has made the old one obsolete, according to Hebrews 8:13.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1703 for more info.

 


 

Romans 6:15-23 The Four-Sided Balance – Part 2 – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 6:1-14, and Rom 6:15-23 what are the similarities and differences between Paul’s two arguments here?

A: Both parts have “bookends”. They both start mentioning grace, and going into its aspects. The first part ends with not under law but grace, while the second part ends with death and the [gracious] gift of eternal life.

The first part, Romans 6:1-14, emphasis our being united to Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, and our death to sin and new life in Christ It says nothing about being slaves.

The second part, Romans 6:15-23, emphasizes that everyone is a slave or sin or a slave of God. It says nothing about being united with Christ.

The first part should go first, because it is the root cause of the second. The first part emphasizes our identity, and the second emphasizes God’s command to us.

 

2. In Rom 6:18,22, practically speaking, how are we set free from sin?

A: We are set free from the mastery and dominion of sin now. If you, as a Christian, ever say, I am just a sinner, I can’t help myself, then you have forgotten the power that is within you.

 

3. In Rom 6:19, when Paul speaks “after the manner of men”, is he giving a simplification here?

A: Yes. The NIV translates this “I put this in human terms.” Paul is about to offer a simple anthropomorphic analogy in terms they can understand. Everyone is either a slave of a master named “Sin”, or a slave of a master named “Obedience”.

   A simplified view of truth is still true, as long as it is recognized as a simplification and not a mirror image of the reality.

 

4. In Rom 6:21, what kinds of fruit of sin do people have that they should feel shame for?

A: Here is one way to think about them.

Selfishness and Squandered time, ignoring God and others

Hatred and Hurting others, both loved ones and others

Addictions and Affections for experiencing short-lived pleasure

Materialism and Misused money, influence, and resources

Energy and Effort wasted pursuing the previous.

See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1704 for more info.

 

5. In Rom 6:22, in evangelism how much should we emphasize that Christians are slaves of God?

A: By the time a person becomes a Christian it should not come as a surprise to them. If we speak of accepting Christ as your Savior, but fail to speak of accepting him as your Lord, we have only given part of the message. Jesus is spoken of as Lord in sharing the gospel in Acts 10:36; 16:31; 17:24-31; 22:10,19-20. While Acts 13:16-41 does not speak of slaves and Lord, it does speak of repentance in Acts 13:24. On the other hand, in some brief speeches, Paul did not get to that part yet, such as in Acts 24:10-22.

 

6. In Rom 6:22, what are benefits of holiness?

A: There are both present aspects and future aspects.

Present: We are freed from slavery to sin in Romans 6:17-19

We will still sin (1 John 1:8), but we do not need to continue in any sin (1 John 3:6.9).

Sin does not reign in us anymore in Romans 6:12,14.

We can now stand unashamed according to Romans 6:21 and Ephesians 5:12.

We don’t have to hide what we do in secret any more, as Ephesians 5:12.

We have the peace of God in situations in Philippians 4:6-7.

We are not blind anymore in Ephesians 5:18

When we have lost feeling” because of sin, in can come back in Ephesians 5:19.

We are now wiser and less foolish in Ephesians 5:15

An often overlooked benefit is that once we stop persistent sinful activity, we have more time, as Ephesians 5:15-16. If someone who spends all their weekends partying or getting drunk and then sleeping off the hangover stops, now they have weekends free they did not used to have.

We live more thankful lives in Ephesians 5:20.

We are free to pursue righteousness. When we are holy we are more like God in 1 Peter 2:15.

We are changing, as we are currently being renewed according to Ephesians 4:23.

We stop becoming more and more corrupt in Ephesians 4:22

Future: It is the pure in heart who will see God in Matthew 5:8.

We have passed from death to life in 1 John 3:14 and Romans 6:13

We have an inheritance in the Kingdom of heaven in Ephesians 5:5

We will be holy in heaven, because no unholy thing is in heaven. Those who have “Washed their robes” will be in the new heaven and earth in Revelation 22:14-15.

 

7. In Rom 6, what are four key concepts compared and contrasted?

A: The destiny of who we are: (our old man leads to death, and new life of Christ in us), the power in us (slaves of sin, free as slaves of Christ). Paul already talked about people before and after Christ, sin and new life, and law and grace, but chapter 6 shows how they fit together.

Here are frequencies of words in this chapter.

you/yourselves/we/us/our (42X),

sin/sinning (17X),

and die/died/death (16X),

live/life (8X),

Christ/Jesus (6X),

slaves/mastery/reign (11X) (slave/enslave (8X)

Other words are:

Freedom (4X)

grace (3X)

law (2X)

United in Christ (2X)

 

7. What is a diagram of four aspects?

Some Church of Christ,

Pelagianism

 

Eastern Orthodox Theosis, Holiness movements

 

 

 

Free. Slaves of Christ

gave new life

 

 

 

Old Man needs to be crucified

Biblical

Balance

United with

Christ living in us

 

 

 

In bondage. Slaves of Sin

leads to death

 

 

Martin Luther,

Catholic flagellants

(including John Paul II)

 

Rasputin’s Khlysty,

Rom 6:1,15a Easy-Believism (Antinomianism)

 

8. In Rom 6, imagine that someone focused on just one or two edges of the square. What would their theology be like?

A: Lower left: If they focused on the bondage of the will, and that we need to have our sinful, selfish desires crucified, to the exclusion that we are now free and united with Christ, they might lose the concept that we are now free from sin. They might forget that the expectation is that we are now free from sin, and do not continue to sin. This does not mean we will never sin again, but no sin should have a hold on our life. If it does, then we do not have a normal Christian life.

Upper Left: If they focused on that the old man needed to be crucified, and the we should be free to live a holy life, to the exclusion of the extent of a lost person’s bondage in sin and the need for Christ’s power in us, then they might miss the fact that a person cannot do it on their own. It is almost as if a morally neutral person should hear the truth, and then go get holy all by themselves. It is not that God can help us be holy, but rather we have to have God working in us to be holy.

Upper Right: If they focused on that we are free to live a holy life, because of Christ living in us, they might not appreciate the power of sin that needs to be overcome in a Christian. Even as a believer, fully committed to loving and obeying God, we still have a battle going on in our heart. We are supposed to be winning the battle with Christ in us, but don’t downplay the severity of the battle.

Lower Right: If they focused on how much we are in bondage to sin, and Christ living in us, with little or no expectation that we are to be crucified in Christ and live a holy life, then they might think they can have the joy of being in God’s will without repentance, stopping their sin. We are supposed to purify ourselves according to 1 John 3.3

The problem with each of these four corners is not as much in what they teach, as in what they fail to teach.

 

 

9. In Rom 6:23, how would you sum up this chapter?

A: There are two masters (sin and God), two methods (wage and free gift), and two destinies (death and eternal life). See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1704 for more info.

 


 

Romans 7: How the Law is Like a new Husband – some brief answers

 

Believers used to have to be under the law, but no longer as Romans 6 says. Since the law was not bad, how can this be? This is the subject of chapter 7.

 

1. In Rom 7:5, why does “don’t” often seem to be a call to action to do it?

A: That is often how our sinful nature works. The Greek word for “opportunity” was originally a military word meaning a fort or base of operations. One part of having a sinful nature is wanting to be selfish as the expense of serving God. But another part is wanting to be a rebel about it. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.80 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1705 for more info.

 

2. In Rom 7:6, in this illustration has the Mosaic law “died”?

A: In a way, yes. Matthew 5:17 said that Christ did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it. He said in Matthew 5:18 that nothing of the law would pass away until all is fulfilled. By his crucifixion, Christ took the requirements of the law, and metaphorically nailed it to the cross in Colossians 2:14. On the other hand, in this illustration, in Romans 7:4,6 it is we who have died to the law.

 

3. In Rom 7:6b, how do we serve in the new way of the spirit, not the old way of the letter, since Jesus said in Lk 16:16-17 that not one jot [detail] would disappear from the Law?

A: The Law has not been changed, either by Jesus or anyone else. However, Jesus completely fulfilled the Law for us, and now we serve in the new way of the Spirit, not in the old way of the written law. Jesus said in Luke 16:16 that the law and prophets were until John. The Old Covenant is obsolete according to Hebrews 8:13. Paul said that the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life in 2 Corinthians 3:6.

   This differs from the Muslim concept of abrogation. Words given through Mohammed could “cancel out” previous words of Mohammed, Jesus, or any other prophet, seemingly at will. Jesus did not cancel the Law, He met it for us, and now we serve in a different way.

   For example, the Old Testament prohibited eating camel meat, shrimp, and pork. Jesus, in pronouncing all food clean (Mark 7:19), did not alter the Old Testament Law, but had us serve in a new way.

   As a side note, Muslims occasionally point out that Christians do not keep the Old Testament dietary laws. Muslims do not either though, because they view Mohammed eating camel meat was OK. Christians do not criticize Muslims (or anyone else) eating camel meat either. The point is that if Muslims were to criticize Jesus or Christians for teaching that supersedes the law, any reason they give would most likely also be a criticism of Mohammed for eating camel meat and claiming to abrogate some things.

 

4. In Rom 7:9, how was Paul alive apart from the law?

A: Romans 4:15 and 5:13 say that sin, while still existing, is not counted where there is no law. Paul felt free of guilt until he knew the law. A person judicially had no guilt of intentionally breaking a law (moral or otherwise) if they were in innocent ignorance of the law. Of course, even people unfamiliar with Judaism had the law of their conscience written on their hearts. Paul was not talking about a specific time in own life, but rather the state in every single person’s life. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.80 for more info.

 

5. In Rom 7:9-11, how did the law kill him?

A: It is not the law per se, but rather the sin of disobeying the law. Paul might be thinking of Leviticus 18:4, where life is promised to those who obey the law and death to those who disobey it. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1706 for more info.

 

6. In Rom 7:11, what exactly is the “deception of sin”?

A: Sin displeases God, sin is evil, hurts yourself, sin hurts others, sin infects, and sin grows, but there is another aspect of sin. Sin deceives, and it deceives in two ways. First, sin makes you think that what you are doing is not wrong, or at least not a very important wrong. Do people who covet think that their desire is wrong. – usually not. Second, sin rationalizes to justify its actions. They think yes it was wrong what I did to that person, but … they had it coming or they deserved it. Yes it was wrong to loot a store, but the business was a part of the establishment. Yes something was wrecked, but it does not matter, because insurance will pay for it. Yes I might not do wrong, but other people do it too, and I am not any worse than them.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.81 for more info.

 

7. In Rom 7:14-24, Paul is not criticizing the law, but what exactly is he saying about the law?

A: The law is outdated for we who are in Christ. Curiously, this does not say the law is outdated for those who are not in Christ. If they reject Christ, then the law is all they got to save them, and Paul says that not a single person will be justified by the law in Romans 3:20.

See The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.433 for more info.

 

8. In Rom 7:14-24, is this a pre-Christian or post-Christian experience?

A: On a practical level, Christians have experienced this battle in Romans 7:14-24 both before and after coming to Christ.

Before coming to Christ: Some non-Christians try to struggle with their sinful nature; others have completely stopped struggling and surrendered. It is true that some cults and some behavioral psychology have gotten people to give up some evil habits, like narcotic drugs, but these are only small tactical victories when the war against our sinful nature goes on. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.84 for more info.

After coming to Christ: After becoming a Christian, we still have our old flesh nature. However, now we have Christ, who gives us motivation and hope, and the Holy Spirit inside of us, who gives us help in overcoming. The problem is not just the external acts of sin that we do. The problem is far greater. Our hearts and minds are corrupt on the inside, and God gives us not just forgiveness, but cleansing and a transformation process to make us more Christ-like. Augustine, Calvin, Luther, and other reformers had this view. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.553-555, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.939, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.467 for more on this view.

Both: Paul did not want to specify because it can refer to both. He uses both past and present tense in the passage. Some non-believers have no struggle at all with sin: they are fully comfortable sinning as much as they want. Other non-believers struggle hard to try to live a good life. Others don’t commit gross sins, without struggle, and feel they already live a good life. Some change which of the three categories they are in. Think of a non-believer who struggles with smoking, or obesity, or something else, and then overcomes it. Some Christians are in the broken and disabled category, and some are in the healed up category. Some Christians are in the struggling category, and some are in the overcoming category. We should want to change to the overcoming category.

 

9. In Rom 7:14-24, was there any Jewish teaching similar to this?

A: Yes, similar in one part, but quite different in another. According to W.D. Davis in Paul and Rabbinic Judaism (1948) p.20-27 the rabbis taught there were two impulses in people: one good and one evil. The evil became more active when you were an adult. The good is stirred when you became a son of the law. Paul talks about two impulses here, but negates what the rabbis say about having power to do good through the law. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.82 for more info.

 

10. In Rom 7:18 why did Paul say no good thing dwells in his sinful flesh?

A: Because nothing does. People have the desire to be autonomous as little gods. We should look at Jesus ten times as much as we look at ourselves.

   On the other hand, we are not “utterly depraved”, as bad as we can possibly be. Even atheists can give to charity and help other people. But we are “totally depraved” in the sense that we are bad enough off that we cannot even come to God without God first coming to us.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1707 for more info.

 


 

Romans 8:1-17 Assurance Walking in the Spirit, not the Flesh – some brief answers

 

This chapter is a climax which neatly ties up knotty predicaments in chapters 5 through 7 into a triumphant “bow” and then puts glorification on top.

 

1. In Rom 8:1 and Rom 7:25b what is curious about this transition?

A: Paul often uses the Greek word for therefore when he goes to a new section of thought. However, in this case, Paul used therefore in Romans 7:25b and again in Romans 8:1, as if this was a really sharp division in thought. The first therefore summarized the previous section, and the second shows the ramification of the previous. See the New International Bible Commentary p.1330 for more info.

 

2. In Rom 8:1, was the phrase “Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but according to the Spirit” in the original manuscripts?

A: Probably not, though it is almost a moot point, because regardless, Romans 8:4b says “in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” (NIV) On Roman 8:1 there are three variations.

1. “Jesus” ending the verse. (shortest reading)

Origen (225-253/254 A.D.), the heretic Marcion according to the Orthodox writer Adamantius (c.300 A.D.), Vaticanus [B] 325-350 A.D, Sinaiticus (original) [Si] 340-350 A.D., Bohairic Coptic [Boh] 3rd/4th century, Sahidic Coptic [Sah] 3rd/4rth century, Claromontanus [D] 5th/6th century, (Ethiopic) [Eth] (c.500 A.D.), Athanasius of Alexandria (326-373 A.D.), Italic (b) (fifth century), Italic (d) (original) (fifth-sixth century)

Diodore (before 394 A.D.)

Ambrosiaster (Latin, after 384 A.D.)

Didymus the Blind (398 A.D.)

Augustine of Hippo (388-430 A.D.)

Cyril of Alexandria (444 A.D.)

2. “Jesus, walking not according to the flesh.”

Alexandrinus [A] (c.450 A.D.) (A member of the Byzantine family)

Victorinus of Rome (359-362 A.D.)

John Chrysostom (392-407 A.D.)

Gothic [Goth] (493-555 A.D.)

Armenian [Arm] (apparently in the manuscript) (from 5th century)

Jerome (373-420 A.D.)

Syriac Peshitta (400-450 A.D.)

Speculum (Latin, fifth century)

3. “Jesus, walking not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Cyril of Alexandria (lemma) 444 A.D.

Byzantine Lectionary [Byz] (The Byzantine family contains from 1,761 to 2,209 separate manuscripts. These are from about 850 A.D. to 1576 A.D.)

 

3. In Rom 8:2 how does the life of life in Christ free us from the law of sin and death, since a law is a law?

A: A law can supersede a law. For example, when I toss an object in the air, it does NOT come back down. Maybe it is because what I was tossing was a live parakeet. As the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1708-1709 says, the law of gravity never went away, the bird’s law of life superseded the law of gravity. The law we were given was not bad, but weakened by our human flesh it was incapable of giving us life.

 

4. In Rom 8:3 what is unusual about this phrasing?

A: In Greek as well as English, the main verb, which is obviously “God did” appears to be missing. It is supplied in italics in some translations. Paul started his thought off one way, and then mid-sentence apparently shifted. This is called an anacoulouthon, or a “broken construction” according to The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.509 This is unusual in both Greek and English. Paul’s Greek was actually quite good, but apparently Paul was getting excited here.

 

5. In Rom 8:3 is our flesh bad?

A: It was created good, but fallen. The Greek word here is “sinful flesh” (sarx), not “sinful man” as the NIV has. Jesus had the same flesh we had, and it was not bad. But when we do not keep our fleshly desires in check, then our flesh becomes sinful for us. Jesus was really in the flesh, but Jesus was only in the “likeness” of sinful flesh.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.87 for more info.

 

6. In Rom 8:6-7, what are the four characteristics Paul lists of being carnally minded?

A: Here are characteristics.

a) Death. This is not just physical death but remaining in spiritual death.

b) Has enmity against God. This is being against whatever God commands.

c) Is not nor cannot be subject to the law of God. Unwilling to be under God’s law.

d) Cannot please God. If they don’t want to be subject to God, have enmity with God, then even little good steps do not please God.

In English history there is the story of Robinhood, who robbed from the rich (which is bad), and gave to the poor (which is good), the idea being that the bad and good sort of evened out. This is thoroughly unbiblical; if you are “riding the fence” and are not spiritually minded, even in  “feeding the poor” you are not pleasing God.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.87 and The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.498-503 for more info.

 

7. In Rom 8:9-11,14-15, can someone be a genuine Christian and not have the Holy Spirit living inside them?

A: These verses say no. Once a Jehovah’s Witness asserted to me that she did not have the Holy Spirit living inside of her, as Jehovah’s Witnesses typically teach that only the 144,000 have the Holy Spirit inside of them. I showed her Romans 8:9-11, and she was almost in tears. While I would like to tell you that she then wanted to become a Christian and have the Holy Spirit inside of her, that is not what happened. Next week, she came back to my office and told me, that she guessed the Holy Spirit was inside her after all.

   See also Today’s Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.349-350 for more info.

 

8. In Rom 8:9-11,14-15, if the Holy Spirit must be inside you to be a son of God, and speaking in tongues is evidence of the Holy Spirit, then are all who do not speak in tongues not saved, as Oneness Pentecostal churches teach?

A: No. Speaking in tongues is not the only evidence of the Holy Spirit, and it is not even the primary evidence, as Galatians 5:22-24, and 1 Corinthians 13:1 show. Galatians 5:22-24 lists the fruit (not fruits) of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:29-31 shows that all do not speak in tongues, just as all do not work miracles and all are not teachers. 1 Corinthians 12:31-14:1 shows that the most central part is love, and John 14:15,21 show that an essential fruit of a Christian’s life is obedience to Jesus’ words.

   See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.54 for more info.

 

9. In Rom 8:9-11,15, if the Holy Spirit must be inside a person or else that person does not belong to Christ, then a) do all babies who die go to Hell because the Holy Spirit is not inside them, or b) is the Holy Spirit inside all babies, or c) other?

A: The answer is other, since Scripture does not teach a) or b). Three points to consider in the answer.

1. With the exception of Jesus, and John the Baptist (Luke 1:40-44), babies do not have the Holy Spirit. We are born separated from God (Ephesians 2:3).

2. God has shown in His word that all who are saved will be saved through Christ (John 14:6; Hebrews 9:15; 10:10,14,19).

3. However, just as God was free to save people in Old Testament times prior to the Gospel and even before the Law, God can save as He wishes through Christ.

Summary: Let us be careful in trying to put restrictions on how God has to work. It is true that God will not work contradicting what He has revealed in Scripture, but we must be careful not to go beyond what is written, as 1 Corinthians 4:6 and Proverbs 30:5-6 remind us.

 

10. In Rom 8:9, why is the Holy Spirit called the Spirit of Christ?

A: He is the Spirit of Christ for at least three reasons.

1. Within the Trinity, the Holy Spirit was sent from Father and Jesus.

2. Within the Trinity, the Holy Spirit in our life represents Jesus.

3. A deeper teaching of the Trinity shows that the members of the Trinity indwell each other, perhaps in a similar way as the Spirit indwells us.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.89-90 for more info.

 

11. In Rom 8:10, does body vs. spirit mean sinful flesh vs. our spirit, or all of us vs. the Holy Spirit?

A: Christian teachers disagree, and Paul sometimes uses body for our sinful nature, and sometimes for all of us. Paul uses the word “Spirit/spirit” 21 times in Romans 8 (17 times in verses 1-17), and at least 18 of them refer to the Holy Spirit. Paul uses the word “flesh” ten times in Romans 8:1-17, none in Romans 8:18-39. However, Paul does not use the word “glory” in Romans 8:1-16, and he uses it four times in Romans 8:17-39.

Sinful flesh vs. our spirit: This is a Greek way of looking at things and most commentators agree this is what Paul was thinking.

All of us vs. the Holy Spirit: This is a Hebrew way of looking at things. Many early Christians and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.90 takes this view.

   See The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.498-500,532 for more info.

 

12. In Rom 8:16,17, are all people children of God in this passage?

A: No. While the Mormon Church has taught that all humans are spirit children of God (and his many goddess wives), Romans 8:15 specifically says that we are God’s children by adoption. While it is true that every person, animal, plant, and demon is a part of God’s creation, Romans 8 is only referring to those who have been born again.

   See Mormons Answered Verse by Verse p.82-83 for more info.

 

13. In Rom 8:17, exactly who is supposed to get glorified here?

A: This is not a select group of people, but rather all believers. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1711 for more info.

 

14. In Rom 8:17, can we become exalted gods, as the cult of Mormonism teaches?

A: No. This is a very ancient error, that long preceded Mormonism. Adam and Eve were tempted with this erroneous teaching in Genesis 3:4. Satan himself wanted to become like God in Isaiah 14:12-15.

   As David said in Psalm 23:6, “…and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Thus Mormon men will not have their own planets, or their own harem of goddess wives. One Mormon once said to me, “I think God made a lot of mistakes, and when I become a god, I will do better.” Thus the goal of a Christian, to serve God forever in Heaven, and the goal of many Mormons, is very different.

   See When Cultists Ask p.218 for more info.


 

Romans 8:18-39 All Things work for Good for our Glorification – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 8:19-22 and Rom 5:12-14, did the death of animals occur before the Fall?

A: The death of microbes did; how else would fish eat plankton. So how far up in the complexity of life did death go before the Fall? Christians have two views on this.

Yes. These verses in Romans only refer to human death, so the Bible does not say. Fossil evidence indicates that large and small animals were eaten before the Fall of man.

No. These verses refer to death of all animals that have self-consciousness. While plants, microbes, and lower animals without “nephesh-life” (meaning self-consciousness) died prior to the Fall, higher animals did not die before the Fall. See Creation ex Nihilo June-August 1998 p.55, for more on this view.

 

2. In Rom 8:19-22, why does God allow evil in a fallen world?

A: Both the daily newspaper and the Bible show the world contains evil as well as good. According to John 9:1-3, the man was not born blind because of his sin or the sin of his parents. In Luke 13:1-5, the murdered Galileans, and those on whom the tower of Siloam fell, may have deserved these things, but they did not deserve them any more than everyone else.

   Romans 8:19-22 shows that after the Fall, God subjected creation to corruption. Corrupted man was not permitted to live in an uncorrupted creation. We have natural disasters, temporary injustice, and man’s inhumanity to man. Since the Fall, 1 John 5:19 says the whole world is under the influence of the evil one. The god of this age is Satan in 2 Corinthians 4:4. Satan is the prince of this world in John 12:31; 14:30,16:11; Ephesians 6:12; and Colossians 1:13. See also the discussion on Ephesians 2:2 and Now That’s a Good Question p.166-167 for more info.

 

3. In Rom 8:21, does freedom of a Christian include the freedom to do anything we want?

A: A cult called the Children of God, also called the Family of Love, taught that they should have sexual freedom outside of marriage.

   Apparently this issue came up in New Testament times too, because Paul addressed this question in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 and Romans 6:1.

1 Corinthians 5:9-11 says that we should not even eat with people who call themselves Christians and do these things.

Romans 6:1 shows that it is impossible to have this attitude and live in Christ.

   One riddle I have heard is this “what is the minimum you can do and still be a Christian?” The answer is: “if you are still thinking in those terms, you have not done it yet.”

   See When Cultists Ask p.219-220 for more info.

 

4. In Rom 8:23, do believers groan because we have the first fruits of the Spirit, or although we have the first fruits of the Spirit?

A: The grammar does not specify, and the most likely answer is both. Have you ever had a tiny taste of something delicious, and then you couldn’t wait until you could have all of it? Having the Spirit is like that. We have a tiny taste of the joy of the Lord in the Spirit, and we can’t wait until we have that completely. See The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.557 for more info.

 

5. In Rom 8:23 are we adopted as sons of God, or born again as John 3:16 says, and is it present or future?

A: Both metaphors express the truth. An adopted son has all the rights of a natural-born son. All of us, male and female, are sons of God now. Both born and adopted sons received the family inheritance, but we so far have only received a small fraction of what we will get as sons of God. See the Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.93, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.940 and The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.536-537 for more info.

 

6. In Rom 8:26, is the Holy Spirit our Mediator, or is Christ our Mediator as 1 Tim 2:5 says?

A: The Holy Spirit intercedes/pleads for us in prayer. The Greek word for “helps, synantilambanetai, suggests one person helping another carry a heavy load. The Holy Spirit did not mediate/atone for us at the cross, or mediate for us as High Priest, as only Jesus did that. See When Critics Ask p.443, Haley’s Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.131, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.473 for more info.

 

7. In Rom 8:28, how can all things work together for good for those who are called?

A: Millions of years from now, or however time is counted in Heaven, we can look back on how God used everything in life, even the evil things, to teach us, grow us, and refine us. See also Hard Sayings of the Bible p.555-557 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.474 for more info.

 

8. In Rom 8:28-39, my friend was reading Charles Stanley’s book on Eternal Security to me and when she came to the part about God’s unconditional love, she opposed that by asking where in the Bible does it say God’s love is unconditional?  She is a member of the “Church of Christ” denomination and her view is that a condition to being saved involves water baptism---so therefore God’s love and salvation for us depends on the condition of being baptized.  How should I have responded to her?

A: Charles Stanley has very good material on the Bible and salvation, and he is correct.

   Psalm 145:17 says that God is loving towards all He has made, that includes the mercies He has shown even to the eternally lost.

   However, the Bible never teaches that God is “all-loving”, because it is justice and wrath, not love toward Satan and demons that sends them to the Lake of fire. All people are not going to heaven, only the elect that God foreknew and predestined.

   But God has a special love for some, called the elect (the heaven-bound). Though Romans 8:28-39 teaches, that nothing can separate us (those who are called) from the love of God. For the elect, how much more unconditional can it be?

   Did our love “initiate” God’s love towards us, or did God’s love initiate our love for Him? 1 John 4:10,19 shows that God first loved us. In John 6:65 Jesus said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has drawn/enabled him.” Calvinists and non-Calvinists disagree on whether it is for all or some:

5-point Calvinists: The Father has only enabled some. Thus Jesus did not die for some, and they never rejected Jesus’ salvation for them, because God had no desire to give them any opportunity in the first place. God has no lost causes.

Everybody else: The Father has preveniently enabled all, but some choose to throw away what was offered to them. God the Son felt such sadness over the lost cause of those in Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37-39).

   Regardless though, many “Church of Christ” people just don’t get Ephesians 2:4,8-10. Our works are 0% involved in getting us saved. We are saved by Grace THOUGH FAITH, ... NOT WORKS. Faith is specifically excluded as a work here, and water baptism is a work that is a sign of our faith, but we are saved by God’s grace, not water. When you have to choose between what the Church of Christ person said and the apostle Paul, go with the apostle Paul.

 

9. In Rom 8:29, can any whom God foreknew go to Hell?

A: No. The word foreknew here means that God foreknew they were going to Heaven. This question contains a logical falsehood. Since God is beyond time, this question is like asking, “Can anyone who went to Toledo never have been to Toledo?”

 

10. In Rom 8:29 and Eph 1:4, is predestination just a Calvinist doctrine?

A: No. these verses show it is a Biblical doctrine for all Christians, non-Calvinist as well as Calvinist. Calvinists might have some errors on predestination, but some Calvinists have useful insights too.

God knows with certainty everything about the future, but His knowledge does not eliminate our free will or lessen our responsibility. We cannot say “God knew I was going to do it, so I had no choice, I had to do it.” In Acts 2:23, Jesus Christ was handed over to the Jews by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge, yet those who crucified Jesus were guilty of sin (John 19:11). Here is an example. We can read a book about George Washington crossing the Delaware River over 200 years ago. Our near-certain knowledge from the book did not force George Washington to do this. Suppose we could go back in a time machine to 400 years ago, and take the book with us. We have still done nothing that forced George Washington to do anything.

   God exists outside of time (Titus 1:2), as well as inside of it, and His foreknowledge did not force us to do anything.

   God’s foreknowledge of us precedes His predestination / choosing in the two verses that mention both together (Romans 8:29; 1 Peter 1:2). Calvinists tend to place these backwards. God chooses everyone He chooses, and then He foreknows. Armenians (not Armenians) tend to say God chose before the beginning of time based on His foreknowledge. However, if God truly is outside of time, then both could be simultaneous.

The sovereignty of Almighty God does not negate our free will, though Calvinists typically say otherwise. Some things happened that “did not enter God’s mind” such as the infant sacrifices in Jeremiah 32:35, and people died who should not have in Ezekiel 13:19. Some things happen that make God sad. Yet on the other hand, everything works together according to God’s plan (Ephesians 1:11). How do you reconcile these two ideas? - by the concept of “delegated sovereignty”. God could have total control over everything, in such a way that nothing could displease Him and we are all robots. However, God, who can do anything, apparently chose to delegate His sovereignty, for a time and within limits, such that we have the ability to choose to obey or disobey God. God apparently highly valued man, made in His image, that people could freely choose to love the Lord. God values this so highly, that He permits people to reject Him and suffer the consequences of their choice.

What is free will? Martin Luther wrote an entire book The Bondage of the Will where he said free will was a false doctrine. Luther missed the boat here, because he took things to unbiblical extremes. We are born with a will that is enslaved to sin (as Luther would agree), but we have free-agency to still cry out for help. We have free will, and a drug addict still has free will too. The drug addict might not have the power to break free of his habit, but he can stumble into a rehab center, fall on the ground and say “help me”. Some people would make the distinction between a morally-neutral, unbound free-will (which is unscriptural), and what we have, calling the latter free-agency. Other people, especially Christians in the early church, use the term free-will to refer to the Biblical concept.

In summary, God predestines us, and we also have free-will, properly understood. Before time began, God’s choosing who would go to heaven was not blind or capricious, but every single day of our lives was written in God’s book (Psalm 139:16) as He chose us.

 

11. In Rom 8:30, what percentage of people who meet one step go to the subsequent step?

A: 100%. Everyone who is predestined is called. Everyone who is called is actually justified. Everyone who is justified in glorified. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1713 and The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.557 for more info.

 

12. In Rom 8:30, since we are going to one day be glorified creatures in heaven, how should we live like that now, without being arrogant?

A: Since some day we are going to be sinless, without evil, we should try to live like that now. If we do, and we are as humble as can be, realize that some might still call us arrogant. (It is so arrogant that you think you are so good you won’t go out and get drunk with me.) But we should for real not have any arrogance, because God tells us to be humble. A second reason is that we really don’t have anything to be arrogant about. What good thing do you have that was not a gift from God?

 

13. In Rom 8:32, is the word “other” in the Greek as it is in the Jehovah’s Witnesses New World Translation (revised 1970 C.E. p.1227)?

A: No, it is not. The New World Translation adds the word “other” in italics places such as four times in Colossians 1:16-20. The italics show that it is not in the Greek. However, the word “other” is not in Romans 8:32 or Philippians 2:9 in Greek, and the Watchtower neglected to put it in italics. They also added “other” in Acts 10:36, putting it in square brackets.

   See Understanding Jehovah’s Witnesses p.66 for more info.

 

14. In Rom 8:39, what is interesting about Paul’s words for height and depth?

A: The precise meaning was starry objects above the horizon and starry objects below the horizon. Another way of thinking about it is that we don’t have to worry about anything in the heavens or hell, or even the superstitions of astrology and fate separating us from God’s love. See The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.588-589 for more info.


 

Romans 9:1-18 Our Attitude Towards the Lost – some brief answers

 

After the triumphant news of Romans 8, Romans 9 is like a shadow suddenly falling across Paul’s face. What about those who rejected?

 

1. In Rom 9:1-4, should we have any sorrow for the lost?

A: Yes. Paul certainly was heartbroken for these people. Likewise, Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet because of the sorrow he had for the lost, in Jeremiah 9:1-2 and other places. Jesus had a great sorrow for those in Jerusalem who rejected Him in Matthew 37-39. If we are to follow the example of the prophets, apostles, and Jesus, and we have no sorrow or regret for the lost, then something is wrong with us.

   The Jews had both blood and behavior, but they did not have faith in the coming Messiah, nor did they see a need for faith. Many of the Jews were proud that they tried so hard, but they would not accept that it was by grace, not their works. An interesting contrast is Paul’s view: sorrow for these people, and the unsaved Jews view: Paul was a traitor.

   There is a joke where a man was asking a lady in a Baptist church how their pastor was doing? The lady said, “Oh, we fired him a while ago because he said all who reject Jesus are all going to Hell.” The man was shocked, because that is what Christians, Baptists included, say. So he asked, “What does your new pastor say?” The lady responded, “Oh, he says all who reject Jesus are all going to Hell too.” The man asked, then what is the difference? The lady said, the first pastor said it with glee in his voice, and the second pastor said it with a tear in his eye.

   See the New International Bible Commentary p.1333-1334 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1716,1720 for more info.

 

2. In Rom 9:5 does this verse show that Christ is God?

A: Yes. Aland et al. records no manuscript variations on this verse, so this is strictly an English translation issue. First here are various English translations, and then some discussion taken from various commentaries.

Translations saying Christ is God in Romans 9:5:

“who is God over all, forever praised!” (NIV)

“who is over all, the eternally blessed God.” (NKJV)

“who is God over all, blessed forever” (RSV)

“who is God over all, blessed forever.” or “May he who is God over all be blessed forever.” (NRSV margin)

Translations that do not say Christ is God in Romans 9:5:

“who is over all, God blessed forever.” (KJV, NASB, NRSV)

“. God who is over all be blessed for ever” (RSV margin)

“who is exalted over all, God blessed forever” (Williams)

“who is over all. God be forever praised!” Or “God who is over all be forever praised!” (NIV margin)

“May God, supreme above all, be blessed for ever.” (NEB)

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 10 p.103 says “it is very awkward with NEB, to refer this to God in distinction from Christ. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.476 says “This is a clear affirmation of the deity of Messiah. Some take these words as a separate sentence (see NIV margin), but the NIV text seems preferable.” Both The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 10 p.103 and The Expositor’s Greek Testament volume 2 p.658-659 say that the traditional wording, which refers “God” to Christ, is preferable because

a) In Greek, “Who” can only refer to the preceding subject of the sentence, Christ.

b) Christ’s human relationship to Israel is stated as to call for a similar statement on the divine side.

c) This cannot be a doxology to God the Father, since the word “blessed” is put before the person who is praised.

d) The Greek uses the definite article (the) with the preceding words “the one being over all”.

e) While some translators emend the text to “wv o, hon ho” instead of “o wv, ho on” “whose is the God over all , blessed for ever”, there is no textual manuscript authority for this emendation.

Conclusion: As the New Geneva Study Bible p.1762 explicitly adds in a footnote on the NKJV, “the text correctly translates Paul’s words as directly ascribing deity to Christ.” The NIV Study Bible p.1719 says, “One of the clearest statements of the deity of Jesus Christ found in the entire NT, assuming the accuracy of the translation (see NIV text note). See also New Age Bible Versions Refuted p.22-23 for more info.

 

3. In Rom 9:4f,6-9, since God’s promises are sure, why were they ineffective for some?

A: God’s promises are good, but you have to look at the scope of the promise. Sometimes the scope is only for some, such as Isaac and not Ishmael and the Midianites, Jacob and not Esau, etc. Sometimes the scope is conditional, such as the children of Israel that abandoned God to worship Baals were gone, and outside of the promise. God’s salvation is sure, and for ever, for the scope of all who accept.

 

4. In Rom 9:8-9,27 and Rom 11:13-17,26 are all Jews going to Heaven, or not?

A: No. A few have thought this based on these two passages of Romans. However Romans 8-9 makes a point that it is children of promise, not biology, that go to Heaven. Romans 9:27 emphasizes that only a remnant of biological Israel will be saved. Romans 11:13-17,26 talks of both God’s “open invitation” to Jews today, and their future mass acceptance of God’s invitation.

   In addition, Jesus told the religious Jews in John 8:24, that if they do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah, they will indeed die in their sins. In Matthew 23:33, Jesus asks the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees how they will ever escape being condemned to Hell. Galatians 5:2 also shows that Christ is of no value to those who trust in circumcision.

   See the discussion on Jeremiah 31:37, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.566-570, Now That’s a Good Question p.135-136, and 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.138-139 for more info.

 

5. In Rom 9:13 and Mal 1:2-3, why did God hate Esau? Was that just?

A: According to R.C. Sproul in Now That’s a Good Question p.570, “First of all, we are dealing with a Hebrew idiom. It is the Hebrew form of speech we call antithetical parallelism, whereby the Scriptures speak in terms of direct opposites. To understand it, we have to see that whatever God means by hating Esau it means the exact opposite of what it means to love Jacob. … in the [O.T.] context in which this particular text occurs, when the Bible says that God loves Jacob, it means that he makes Jacob a recipient of his special grace and mercy. He gives Jacob a gift that he does not give to Esau. He gives mercy to Jacob. He withholds the same mercy from Esau because he doesn’t owe Esau the mercy and he reserves the right [to withhold it]. … The Jewish person describes the differential by using contradictory terms.”

   The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.160-161 gives essentially the same answer. See also Hard Sayings of the Bible p.559-561 and the discussion on Malachi 1:2-3 for more info.

 

6. In Rom 9:14, what is the difference between justice and fairness? Is God both?

A: The Bible says that God is just; it does not say that God is fair. Justice is giving people what they deserve. But sometimes God’s grace and mercy trump God’s justice. God gives us good things we don’t deserve, and He does not give us bad things that we do deserve, because Jesus died on the cross for us. God’s justice is still met though, because Jesus took the punishment for our sins. Fairness means giving everybody exactly the same thing, and exactly the same opportunities. The Bible and life show that God is not fair, nor does he have to be. Was God fair to Jacob and Esau. Some people say “yes and no”. I have a totally different answer: “No and yes”. God was NOT fair to Jacob. Jacob believed in God, but he was a lying, cheating, scoundrel that, if God were fair, God would have abandoned. On the other hand, Esau was godless according to Hebrews 12:16; Esau wanted nothing to do with God, and God had nothing to do with Esau, except that Esau was prospered financially.

 

7. In Rom 9:18, why can’t we blame God for hardening Pharaoh’s heart?

A: Seven times God said He hardened Pharaoh’s heart. But seven times God said Pharaoh hardened his own heart. First we have to understand the concept of hardening before looking at how God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.

Hardening of the heart of an ungodly person makes them more set in their ungodliness. On the other hand, God said he hardened the prophets Ezekiel and Jeremiah, and they were hardened in a good way. Ezekiel 3:8-9 says, “But I [God] will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone....”

In Jeremiah 1:18; 15:20 God made Jeremiah like a wall that would stand against everyone.

   Thus “hardening” does not always mean evil, but hardening means making one more set in their ways, as clay is hardened.

God sending the plagues might have softened some people’s hearts, but it had the effect of hardening Pharaoh’s heart. How much hardening of Pharaoh’s heart did God do without using external influences such as plagues? Scripture does not say. Regardless, God’s work moved Pharaoh’s heart in the direction Pharaoh already wanted it to go. When plagues come in our life they can be an invitation to harden our heart against God, or harden our resolve for God and against sin.

   Here is what some early church writer taught on this.

Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) “God hardens the heart of Pharaoh. He deserved, however, to be influenced to his destruction, who had already denied God, already in his pride so often rejected His ambassadors, accumulated heavy burdens on His people, and (to sum up all) as an Egyptian.” Five Books Against Marcion book 2 ch.14 p.308

Origen (225-254 A.D) said in effect that as the same heat from the same sun both hardens mud and melts wax, so the working of God’s spirit both hardens the rebellious and softens the repentant. Origen’s de Principiis (both Greek and Latin) book 3 ch.1.11 p.311.

   See also the next question for more info.

 

8. In Rom 9:18, who had what responsibilities in the hardening of the heart of Pharaoh, as well as other people?

A: Four points to consider in the answer.

A. God is responsible:

A1. Everything that happens is allowed by God. In other words, nothing happens except what God allows (James 4:15; Job 1:12; 2:6; Psalm 103:19).

A2. Everything that God decrees certainly happens. Isaiah 43:13; Isaiah 55:10-11; Romans 11:29). God promised (i.e. decreed) that the Israelites were going to leave Egypt after being slaves for 400 years (Genesis 15:13-14).

A3. God created Pharaoh, and allowed him to live.

A4. God worked through history and had Pharaoh be the king of Egypt at that time.

A5. God specifically sent the plagues to Egypt.

A6. Ultimately everything, even things that “did not enter God’s mind” (Jeremiah 19:5; 32:35), was, is, and will be woven together in God’s plan (Ephesians 1:11; Romans 8:28; Proverbs 16:4).

B. God is not responsible for things God allowed but did not directly cause, such as evil.

B1. Some things evoke God to have great wrath (Jeremiah 5:29; 8:19; 12:8; Ezekiel 8:6).

B2. Some things break God’s heart (Jeremiah 4:19-22; 9:1; Luke 19:41-44; Matthew 23:37-39).

C. Pharaoh was responsible:

C1. Pharaoh was not coerced. In fact, for most people the plagues would have been an “encouragement” to choose what was right.

C2. Pharaoh made his own choices.

D. Both were jointly responsible:

D1. Pharaoh also hardened his own heart, and Pharaoh’s own hardening was mentioned prior to God having hardened Pharaoh’s heart.

   See When Critics Ask p.444-445, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.390-395, Today’s Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.287-289 and the discussion on Exodus 7:22 for more info.

 

9. In Rom 9:19-22 and Rom 11:8,10, how can God hold us responsible for what He makes us to be?

A: Perhaps an illustration can help. Say that we were born and lived all our life aboard one ship. Suppose this ship was about to sink, and a lifeboat was available for us to get off the ship. If we stay on the ship and drown, we are responsible for our own death. We were not responsible for being born on the ship, but we were responsible for not choosing to get off the sinking ship. It would not only be improper, but also tragic and useless for a person to blame the circumstances of their birth for their own choice to refuse the offer of the lifeboat.

   Thus, we had no influence or responsibility on how we were born, and the fact that we have a sinful nature. However, people are responsible for not choosing to come to God for cleansing of their sinful nature and forgiveness of their sins.

   See also Hard Sayings of the Bible p.561-563 for more info.


 

Romans 9:19-33 God’s Sovereign Choice – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 9:19, why is God’s word calling these questions improper?

A: Two distinct reasons are given here.

Attitude: Any question is not good, if the attitude is one of talking back to God (verse 20). Rather than trying to learn God’s ways, the questions seek to make God have to justify Himself.

Content: Even when asked with a reverent attitude, the questions are still not proper because they assume some falsehoods. We need to realize two truths:

1. God has the right to make us however He wished (verse 21).

2. Furthermore, as verses 21-23 show, God did not make the elect and the reprobate different, we are all born being made out of the same “clay”. The difference is not in our origin, but in our destination. For many people, “the message will not be combined with faith” (Hebrews 4:2), and God will pour out His just wrath on them.

 

2. In Rom 9:19, do people have free will?

A: Yes, by the correct definition.

No, nothing outside of God’s desired and decreed will. If by free will you mean man can act totally beyond God’s limits, knowledge, or ability to control, then nobody, not even Adam or Satan, have free will. However, this is rarely what is meant by free will.

Yes, we do things outside of God’s desired will.

Free will often means that God has chosen to give us the ability to truly make choices, and to do things outside of what God desires. God knows all our choices, but it is we who made them. Our will is “free” in the sense that it is not coerced by God. We are not puppets or robots. However, our free will is not totally “free” because it is bound by sin. The dope addict who craves drugs has free will to completely quit cold turkey, but his will is in bondage.

   Non-Calvinist Christians say we have free will, including that everyone has some responsibility and ability to respond to God. Calvinist Christians say we do not. Some Calvinists say that believers have free will, but non-believers do not. The great nineteenth preacher (and Calvinist) Charles Spurgeon said we had “free will”, but it was a slave to our sinful nature, which is actually rather similar to what non-Calvinists say.

   However, others Calvinists say in effect that while people have “free agency”, they do not have free will, not just because God chose not to give it to us, but God allegedly could not give it to us and still be sovereign.

   Calvinist Loraine Boettner (p.222) says, “Furthermore, if we admit free will in the sense that the absolute determination of events is placed in the hands of man, we might as well spell it with a capital F and a capital W; for then man has become like God, - first cause, an original spring of actions -- and we have as many semi-Gods as we have free wills. Unless the sovereignty of God be given up, we cannot allow this independence to man.”

   Boettner is actually mixing categories here. If Boettner were to say that ‘we cannot admit free will in the sense that man could do things outside of what God has allowed’, then all Christians should agree with Boettner. However, if God has chosen to temporarily to have “delegated sovereignty”, where God has decreed that certain things, like a person’s eternal destiny, will happen one way or another based on a person’s response to God working in their life, and God has not coerced the response, then Boettner is wrong, unless you read so much into Boettner’s word “absolute” that the statement is a logical tautology that everyone could agree with.

   A more Biblical mention of human freedom, which both non-Calvinists and many Calvinists can agree with, was in part of a talk given by R.C. Sproul in a talk in Austin on March 9, 1991. This material is from R.C. Sproul’s talk in Austin on March 9, 1991.

   “I don’t believe as Christians we have to abandon the very important concept of human freedom and responsibility - not for a second. And it would be very painful for me to have to give up the idea of human freedom. But beloved, I could live with that. If I had to give up the idea that God is Sovereign, I have abandoned Christianity. I’ve abandoned hope, because I recognize now I live in a universe that is not under the authority of divine providence.” So R.C. Sproul is saying that God’s Sovereignty is more important to Him than human freedom, but He believes both are true. Again, Sproul is not talking about a total, absolute freedom, but he is teaching a genuine freedom.

In summary: All should agree that everyone has the responsibility to obey God, but in themselves nobody has the power to obey because of our sinful nature. Many, but not all, Reformed Christians say that God never gave the non-elect the option, choice, or ability to respond to God in any way. As one Reformed person put it, you are either a robot of God or a robot of Satan.

   As a side note, some moderate Reformed theologians (Spurgeon, Packer, Bunyon, etc.) say God gives all a sincere offer of the Gospel. Others (Pink, Gill, Hoeksma) say God does not offer the Gospel to all. Others say that we can sincerely offer the Gospel to all since we do not know who the elect are, but God could not give a sincere offer.

   Please see the next question for scriptural support of “free will/free agency” in the sense that even though our will is bound in sin, all have the ability to make genuine choices and to respond to God.

 

3. In Rom 9:19, are people like robots or puppets, or has God decided to grant to everyone the ability to make genuine choices and respond to God?

A: Joshua 24:22-23 shows that either people can make choices, or that God is content to have His people be deluded in thinking they are choosing to make a Covenant with Him.

   God has given people the freedom to break His heart (Jeremiah 9:1; Matthew 23:37-39, etc.). While some Calvinists say these are just anthropomorphisms, and God does not really feel this way, this opens up a whole Pandora’s box. Hypothetically speaking, if all the verses in the Bible about God feeling heartbreak and disappointment are not to be taken literally, then perhaps all the verses on God’s anger and wrath and anthropomorphisms are too, and God does not really have anger. Perhaps all the verses on God’s love would be anthropomorphisms and God does not really have any feeling of care or concern for us either. Thus, either the verses that describe God’s feelings do have meaning, or God spent a lot of ink in the Bible unnecessarily when He could have simply stated the consequences and said He was some kind of mere computer.

   See the discussion on Genesis 50:19-20; Deuteronomy 1:39 and Joshua 24:21-24 for more info on people being able to make choices.

   See the next answer for more extensive discussion on man’s ability to make choices.

 

4. In Rom 9:19, if people are not like robots or puppets, what does the Bible say about man’s ability to make choices?

A: Pardon me for belaboring the point, but many Calvinists fail to see that God gives people a real, genuine choice about seeking Him. First two points about God, and then some points about people.

THE FATHER AND JESUS: The Father chose, called, and sent Jesus to be our Savior. This is according to Matthew 12:18; 1 Peter 2:6; Hebrews 5:4; 3:2; Luke 23:35; and Isaiah 48:15; 49:1,6.

However, the Father’s choice, knowledge, and plan did not negate the fact that Christ Himself still freely chose to come and to obey, according to John 10:18; Luke 22:42; and Hebrews 10:9.

PEOPLE: All people are sinful and depraved. Apart from God’s working, no one will not seek God, according to Romans 3:11, which paraphrases David’s words in Psalm 14:2 and Psalm 53:2.

Yet, David himself claimed he sought God in Psalm 63:1 and Psalm 27:4,8.

Furthermore, many others with God’s help, have chosen to serve the Lord.

Joshua 24:22 “You are witnesses that you have chosen to serve the Lord.” said of Israel

Matthew 6:33 Seek ye first the Kingdom of God

Many seek God 1 Chronicles 16:10,11; 2 Chronicles 15:12; 30:19; Ezra 6:21; Psalm 34:10; 69:32; 70:4; Proverbs 28:5; Zechariah 8:21,22; Malachi 3:1

Set your heart on seeking God 2 Chronicles 11:16

1 Chronicles 22:19; 28:8,9; 2 Chronicles 7:14; 12:14; 14:4; 15:2; 15:13; 19:3

2 Chronicles 20:3,4; 31:21; 34:3; Hosea 3:5

Psalm 9:10 and Isaiah 45:9 are promises not to forsake those who seek God

Psalm 22:26 They who seek the LORD will praise him.

Psalm 24:6 Such is the generation of those who seek him.

Psalm 40:16; 105:3,4; 119:2,45 all who seek you rejoice and be glad

Psalm 119:94 I have sought out your precepts

Proverbs 1:28b-29 They will look but not find, since did not fear the Lord

Proverbs 8:17 Those who seek wisdom find her

Isaiah 51:1 you who seek the LORD

Isaiah 55:6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on Him...

Jeremiah 29:13 you will seek and find when you seek with all your heart

Jeremiah 50:4 Israel and Judah will seek God

Hosea 10:12 “...for it is time to seek the Lord”

Amos 5:4,6,14; 5:14 seek the Lord and live

Moreover, with God’s help, people can choose to do God’s will.

John 7:17 If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.

Jonah 2:8 “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs”

Psalm 83:16 God does things in order that men may seek him

Psalm 119:30 “I have chosen the way of truth;”

Psalm 119:173 “for I have chosen thy precepts”

Isaiah 7:15 “He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right.”

Isaiah 56:4 “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me...”

Proverbs 8:10, 16:16 We are commanded to choose wisdom’s instruction instead of choice silver

John 5:35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light

John 7:17 “If any one chooses to do God’s will, he will find out...”

Acts 20:21 “...They must turn to God in repentance and have faith”

Ephesians 1:13 You also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth.

Deuteronomy 30:19 Now [Israelites] choose life, that you and kids may live

Romans 11:32 God has bound all over to disobedience to have mercy on them all. (the word all, pantas is the same in both cases)

2 Thessalonians 2:10 perishing ones deceived because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved.

Titus 2:11 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.”

1 Peter 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth...”

2 Peter 1:10 “be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure.”

In contrast, people are responsible for not seeking their God.

Isaiah 9:12-13; Hosea 7:10 God angry because the people have not returned to Him or sought Him. Is God angry for what He decreed they should not do, and angry at what He did not choose to enable them to do?

Jeremiah 30:15 Because of your great guilt and many sins, God punished you

Psalm 10:4 The wicked do not seek God. (What would be the point if this verse if godly people like David did not seek God either?)

Proverbs 1:29 Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord.

SUMMARY: Since God’s calling did not eliminate Jesus’ choice, and the Bible says we with God’s aid can choose God, thus God’s calling does not eliminate our choice.

 

5. In Rom 9:19, could it be possible that non-Christians have no free will, Christians do have free will?

A: No, but this is an interesting suggestion a Calvinist friend of mine once told me. I have not heard this from any other Calvinists though. Four points to consider in why this is incorrect.

God is sovereign, in that He knows everything that will happen, including every choice we will make. He also controls, down to the finest detail, everything that He wishes to control, and not a single atom moves except as God allows. However, God can also restrain Himself. He can choose to temporarily, and within limits “delegate His sovereignty” such that we can make choices such that we, and not God, are responsible for the consequences.

What is free will? If one defined free will as the part of us that is totally independent, that even God is incapable of controlling, this kind of free will does not exist. However, the early Christian writers wrote of free will as our ability to make choices, and that God even permits us to make choices that displease Him, and have dire consequences. However, our free will is bound by sin, just as the free will of alcoholic or drug addict is bound by their sins. They might not have the power on their own to break free from their addiction, but they can stumble into a church or rehab center and cry for help.

Many Calvinists deny that people have free will in any sense of the word; they deny that people can make choices. It is almost that we are robots. Some Calvinists deny we have free will because God is sovereign. Other Calvinists, as well as Martin Luther, deny we have free will because we are fallen and bound in sin. This question implies that Calvinists deny free will for the second reason.

Non-Calvinists can agree God is sovereign, and that man’s will is bound in sin. However, neither reason makes our apparent choices a mockery, or makes man’s responsibility for what he is unable to even respond to an incongruous mystery.

 

6. In Rom 9:20-21, how is God like a potter and we the clay?

A: Paul is hearkening back to the illustration in Jeremiah 18:6; Isaiah 29:16; 45:9. In Genesis 2:7, when God formed man, the word for “formed” is the same root as potter. God can do with creation what he wants, and we have an obligation to follow our Creator. Of course clay that is untouched by the potter just stays as an unartistic shapeless mass.

   As Charles R. Erdman said, “God’s sovereignty is never exercised in condemning men who ought to be saved, but rather it has resulted in salvation of men who ought to be lost.” The Epistle of Paul to the Romans p.109. (from the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1719.)

   See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.944, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament p.478, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1717-1718, and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.107 for more info.

 

7. In Rom 9:25-33. What is Paul doing here quoting all these scriptures?

A: Paul is proving his point using scriptures one after another. This shows that this is not one side point in one verse, but rather is a common thread in scripture. There is a term for using one scripture right after another; it is called a catena. Both New Testament writers (especially Paul) used catenas, and at least 29 early church writers, prior to the Council of Nicea I used catenas, so they were a common medium of expression.

 

8. In Rom 9:32-33, how and why did God make Jesus a stumbling block to the Jews?

A: While this passage does not say why, we can observe a few things. Jesus said you had to be like a little child to come to Him in Matthew 18:3-5 and 19:14. Little children usually are not impressed by their own knowledge or wisdom, and don’t take pride in knowing more than others. They just humbly want to be close to someone who loves them and helps them in their weakness. God does not delight in our strength, but rather how His strength can shine through our weakness. God told Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9b-10 “… for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Not everyone is willing to have that attitude. God made a stumbling block for the Israelites, after their sin, in Jeremiah 6:21.

 

9. In Rom 9:33, what is unusual about this word for “stumble”?

A: This word does not mean to trip. Rather, its meaning is closer to falling off a cliff.

 


 

Romans 10:1-13 Whosoever Shall Call Upon the Lord – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 10:3, how could God justly punish the Israelites for ignorance?

A: There is no example in Scripture of God punishing someone for innocent ignorance. However, all ignorance is not necessarily innocent. For example, good parents do not punish an infant for ignorance, but a good teacher does penalize for ignorance a student who neglects to read the homework assignment. The Jews, as well as we today, have a “homework assignment” to know God’s word.

 

2. In Rom 10:1-4, what are examples of someone’s zeal for religion getting in the way of their knowing God?

A: Religion itself, even good religion, can be an idol. But then there is also toxic religion, that is not good. When religion says to burn a newly-widowed woman to death, or to kill people who are not fighting you, because they won’t accept your religion, then that religion is toxic. John 16:2 says, “They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering a service to God.” (ESV) See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.110 for more info.

 

3. In Rom 10:4, how is Christ the end of the law?

A: The word “end” or “termination” (telos) is emphasized because it starts the sentence. starts the sentence. In English it would be “The end of the law is Christ.” While Christ completely kept the law Himself, that would not be the end of the law.

Christ is the end of the law in a number of ways.

1. As high priest, Christ fulfilled the law for us. Once and for all He performed the sacrifice for us (Hebrews 9:13-14).

2. The purpose of the law is to lead us to Christ. Hebrews 10:1 says the law was a shadow of what was to come.

3. Christ is the end, or the destination of the law. The Old Testament sacrifices “covered over” sin (Hebrews 9:9-10; 10:2-4) prior to Christ completely taking the sin away.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.480, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.563-566 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.110-111 for more info.

 

4. In Rom 10:4, is the law still all applicable today for those who do not believe?

A: This refers to the Mosaic Law. Romans 10:4 does not qualify this with “only for those who believe”. So pagan non-believers are not supposed to think about following the Mosaic Law, but rather Christ and His commands. So the Mosaic Law has ended for all, but the law of right and wrong, on people’s hearts, is still there.

   This is applicable in evangelism. Should we non-Jewish non-believers be told “accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior”, or should they be told “first follow the Mosaic Law, and then I will tell you about Jesus.” This was actually an important controversy in the church, and was resolved in Acts 15:19-29.

 See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.111 for more info.

 

5. In Rom 10:5, do we live by keeping the Law, or does the law bring death as Rom 8:2 says?

A: An analogy might help here. Whether human law brings life or death depends on your perspective. A potential crime victim and a murderer sentenced to execution have different perspectives.

   If one perfectly kept the law, that would bring life. However, breaking the law that you are able to know about, brings judgment and death.

   See When Critics Ask p.445-446 and Haley’s Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.104-106 for more info.

 

6. In Rom 10:7, what is interesting about Paul’s example here?

A: Paul adapted this quote from Deuteronomy 30:13, where is says, “Who will go over the sea”, to say “We will ascend into the abyss.” We don’t have to descend into the abyss to get salvation (which would be impossible for us anyway), because Christ already did that for us. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1721 for more info.

 

7. In Rom 10:9-10, is simply saying “Jesus is Lord” all you have to do to get to Heaven?

A: No, that is not what this verse teaches. In Acts 8:13 Simon Magus “believed”, yet Peter said he was going to perish in Acts 8:18-20. The Greek word for “believe” in Acts 8:13, episteuse, is not the common word used in the Bible for “believe”. The common word, pestuvo, means to trust and have a saving faith in. The word used in Acts 8:13 means intellectual assent.

 

8. In Rom 10:9, can be person be saved by trusting Jesus as Savior but not Lord?

A: No, nothing in scripture gives that hope. Romans 10:9 says we must call Jesus “Lord” or “Master”. Just saying Jesus is a Savior, but Jesus it no my Lord, does not mean that you have received Jesus’ salvation. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1721 for more info.

 

9. In Rom 10:11, why does this say “never be put to shame”, when it is referring to Isa 28:16 which says in the Masoretic text, “never be dismayed”?

A: Romans 10:11 is like the Septuagint’s “no way be ashamed”, not the Masoretic text. In some many other places too, New Testament quotes are closer to the Septuagint than the Masoretic text.

   The word for “dismayed” in Isaiah 28:16 in the Masoretic text is chuwah (Strong’s Concordance 2363), which literally means “make haste” as the KJV has. This makes sense if you understand “shall hurry” as in hurry from battle in defeat. However, it also refers to emotions, such as being “greatly disturbed” in Job 20:2. So the Masoretic text and the Septuagint have a similar meaning here, but the Septuagint is a little more precise and easier for a non-Hebrew speaker to understand. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.6 p.182 for more info.

 

10. In Rom 10:11, what is the basis for saying an inanimate rock represents a person?

A: God is metaphorically a stumbling stone in Isaiah 8:14; 1 Peter 2:8. “The LORD is a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes people fall.” Psalm 118:22 says, “The stone the builder rejected has become the capstone;”. The Psalmist is not teaching us about buildings; this is a metaphor that fits naturally with the Messiah.

 

11. In Rom 10:12, is it true that “the identity of the ‘Lord’ cannot be established with certainty from the context” as Jehovah’s Witnesses have taught (Watchtower 2/1/1977 p.95)?

A: No. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, and many other verses show it is Jesus Christ.

 

12. In Rom 10:13, must one specifically call upon the name “Jehovah” to be saved, as Jehovah’s Witnesses teach?

A: No. Rather one must call upon the real and living God. The ancient Israelites themselves did not have the word “Jehovah”, as they did not have the “J” sound. So for the lack of a “J” sound, all of the saints in the Old Testament did not worship the true God? Of course, that is silly. God is concerned about our heart, and the words and actions springing from our heart, not with pronunciation.

   See When Cultists Ask p.220 for more info.

 

13. In Rom 10:13, can a person accept Jesus as Savior and not as Lord?

A: No. Unfortunately some have taught that one only has to accept Jesus as Savior, and accepting Him as Lord is a second part. One variation says that Lordship is optional. A second variation, advocated by The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.190 does not say it is optional, but that submitting to Jesus as Lord is not a pre-salvation decision to ask non-Christians to do, like accepting Jesus as Savior [apparently] is. Accepting Jesus as Lord comes about gradually as a Christian walks with Him.

   In Now That’s a Good Question p.122-123, R.C. Sproul points out that being saved without accepting Jesus as Lord is a distortion of the true Gospel called antinomianism. Calvinists claim to see this antinomian teaching in such men as Zane Hodges and Charles Ryrie.

   However, Jesus refutes antinomianism in Matthew 7:21-28 and John 14:21-24. In brief, those who love Jesus will obey His teaching, and those who do not love Jesus will not obey His teaching. Also, in Colossians 2:6 Paul says, “just as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord” (NRSV). In this passage, the Bible is not speaking to those who try to accept Jesus as Savior and not as Lord.

 

14. In Rom 10:13, if everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved, how do you know if you were sincere when you called to God to save you?

A: Let’s ask a simpler question as an analogy. How do you know you intended to eat lunch yesterday?

1. Did you eat the food accidentally instead of on purpose?

2. Did you not know you wanted to eat lunch before you actually ate your lunch?

3. Was anyone forcing you to eat the food, instead of what you freely desired to do?

   If you ate lunch yesterday, and the answer to the previous three questions was “no”, then you intended to eat lunch.

   In a similar way, calling on the Lord is not a complicated thing, like passing a test. If you called out to Jesus intentionally, you know what you were doing, you were not coerced, and freely desired to do so, then if you called out to Jesus to save you, you really called out to Jesus to save you.

 


 

Romans 10:14-21 What of Those Who Have Not Heard – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 10:14f, how has this verse been misunderstood?

A: The KJV and NKJV translates this a “how shall they hear without a preacher?” While this is technically correct, the Greek is not talking about the office of a clergyman, but rather a “preacher” here is anyone, male or female, who is preaching the gospel. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.113 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.481 for more info.

 

2. In Rom 10:14-15, if we don’t do our job and preach the gospel, will our disobedience cause people to go to Hell?

A: No. God is both almighty and sovereign, and God will make a way for all of the elect to come to Him. However, we can share the joy and privilege of being a tool that God uses to bring about His will.

 

3. In Rom 10:14-15, can anyone go to Heaven if they never heard the Gospel?

A: -People have. As proof, Enoch, Abraham, Job, and the believers in the Old Testament followed what God revealed to them, but they did not hear what to them was the mystery of the New Testament Gospel. Remember, it is ultimately God who saves, not the Gospel, and not our response to the Gospel. See also the next question for more info.

 

4. In Rom 10:14-15, can anyone go to Heaven if they never heard the Gospel, after Jesus rose from the dead?

A: Genuine Christians disagree on this.

Some say no. This does not necessarily mean they had no opportunity, though. If someone who never heard the Gospel would follow the truth they know and respond to the Holy Spirit working in their life, God can move Heaven and earth to bring them the truth. God providentially can cause a Christian to come and share the Gospel of Christ with them. One example of this in Acts 10:2,22,31 was a God-fearing Roman named Cornelius, who was just, prayed, and gave alms. God sent an angel to tell Cornelius to go send for Peter.

Others strongly disagree. While 2 Thessalonians 1:8 says that people who do not obey the Gospel of Jesus will be punished with everlasting destruction, Romans 4:15 and 5:12 say that sin is not counted where there is no law. While scripture does not teach anyone has a second chance after death, some see an opportunity for people to hear the Gospel and have a first chance after death, and/or during the Millennium. See the discussion on 1 Peter 3:19 (two questions) and 1 Peter 4:6 for Jesus preaching the Gospel to the dead. See the discussion on Revelation 20 for possible opportunities during the Millennium. Finally, since it is ultimately God that saves people, He could cause babies or whoever else to go to Heaven without hearing the Gospel if He wanted to do so.

Pivotal to the argument is Romans 10:14, which says that people cannot call on God without believing, they cannot believe without hearing, and they cannot hear without a preacher. If it were parallel, Romans 10:13 would say that none can be saved without calling on God; however, Romans 10:13 is not parallel. Rather, it only says that, “all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”.

   Romans 10:13-14 does not give any stronger a reason to say every single adult who never knew to call upon the Lord is going to Hell, than it is to say every single infant who never knew to call upon the Lord is going to Hell.

 

5. In Rom 10:18, how did the Jews not understand, since they of all people had the most knowledge about God?

A: It is not because they did not have the information, and it was not because they were not intelligent enough. Rather, they had an alternate paradigm, that keeping the law was all that was necessary, and they had no room for the truth, because it did not fit their paradigm.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.482 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.114-115 for more info.

 

6. In Rom 10:19, how has God made the Jews envious by those who are not a nation?

A: The Jews took God for granted. They also took for granted that they alone were chosen by God. God was going to show them that they had nothing to boast about. While they could envy other nations’ political power, the primary meaning here is religiously. You have many non-Jewish people who knew the Old Testament better than most Jews. They are more concerned about pleasing God than most Jews. An observant Jew might see something wrong with the practice of Judaism here.

   Here is what Irenaeus of Lyons (c.160-202 A.D.) said about this. He quotes 11/20 words of Romans 10:19f. “Moreover Moses in Deuteronomy says that the Gentiles should be 'the head, 'and the unbelieving people 'the tail.' And again he says: 'Ye provoked me to jealousy with those that are no gods, and angered me with your idols: and I will provoke you to jealousy with that which is no nation, and with a foolish nation will I anger you.' Because they forsook the God who is, and worshipped and served the gods who are not; and they slew the prophets of God, and 'prophesied for Baal,' who was the idol of the Canaanites. And the Son of God, who is, they despised and condemned, but they chose Barabbas the robber who had been taken for murder: and the eternal King they disavowed, and they acknowledged as their king the temporal Caesar. (So) it pleased God to grant their inheritance to the foolish Gentiles, even to those who were not of the polity of God and knew not what God is.Demonstration of Apostolic Preaching ch.95.

 

7. In Rom 10:21, 11:7, why did God (and Paul) sound disappointed that the Jews did not as a group accept Jesus, since God already foreknew they would be disobedient?

A: God is outside of time, and inside of time. Their disobedience was their fault, and God knew it was going to happen before the earth was even created. But God still has emotion at the time that it happens. Romans 10:21 is a heart-breaking picture: the almighty God of the universe, who can rip apart stars, is gently and patiently holding out His arms to those people and as a nation hey turn their backs, and don’t come to Him, - at least not yet.

 


 

Romans 11 Grafting Peoples In and Out – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 11:1,11, this state of affairs was not permanent. When does a bad situation seem permanent, when in fact it is not?

A: The rejection of the Jews was partial, provisional, and temporary. However, to the average observer it would appear permanent at the time. That is how things can seem today.

Unpleasant situations: Something can seem permanent, when we really hope it is not, and we can’t see any possibility of a light at the end of the tunnel. As someone once said, “I saw a light at the end of the tunnel, but it was only a train.”

Pleasant situations: Something can seem permanent when we wish it is, and fall into the trap of thinking that hoping it is so makes it so.

   But at the least we can acknowledge that we have a tendency to think some things are more permanent than they are. We should balance that by remembering that we cannot know what tomorrow will bring (James 4:14). Consequently, we should hold on to the things of this world only lightly, and recognize that every new day, for us and our loved ones, is a gift.

   See the New International Commentary on the Bible p.1336-1337 for more info.

 

2. In Rom 11:14, was it God, Paul or both that tried to provoke the Jews to jealousy?

A: The Greek in Romans 11:14 says “I”, so it was certainly Paul.

Not the answer: It was just Paul according to the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1725.

The answer: It as not only Paul, but also God as Paul acknowledges when he quotes Deuteronomy 32:21 in Romans 10:19.

   Provoking to jealousy is an interesting strategy. When people will not listen anymore, and they have a persistent, consistent, hardened deafness, then talk with someone else, with their knowledge, and they might wonder what they are missing out on.

 

3. In Rom 11:16, how Christians now God’s chosen people, since in the Old Testament the olive tree was a symbol of the Israelites?

A: The olive tree was not the symbol for ethnic Israelites, they just mistakenly thought it was, valuing their ancestry more than being right with God.

 

4. In Rom 11:16, what is the main trunk of the olive tree?

A: First what is not the answer, and then two views on the answer.

Not the answer. It does not represent Israel, as the Gentile show came in did not get circumcised and obey the Jewish law.

The spiritual stock of Abraham: including the patriarchs, according to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.484-485.

God’s line of privilege, or “favored-nation status”, according to the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1725-1726.

God’s chosen people

 

5. In Rom 11:17-24, what do we know about the cultivation of olive trees?

A: Olive trees were very valuable, but they required much work. During wartime, the Israelites were not allowed to cut down olive trees in Deuteronomy 20:19-20. If the olive trees were cut down, it would decrease the land’s food supply for at least 20 years. This also explains why cutting down olive trees was a disaster in Habakkuk 3:17 and Deuteronomy 28:40.

   The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1366-1367 has an extensive section on olive cultivation. At the conclusion it says, “Olive trees are grown from slips that are grafted on an old trunk or a wild tree when the shoots or suckers are about three feet long. Also new shoots may spring from the roots or stump of an old parent tree (Psalm 128:3; Isaiah 11:1). There is no fruit for three to four years, and no plentiful harvest for 17 to 18 years. All this time the tree requires careful attention, the soil plowed and fertilized each spring and faithfully watered. … properly cared for, a full-sized tree will produce a half ton of oil a year and continue until it reaches incredible age.” The New International Bible Dictionary p.802 and the Encyclopedia Britannica 1972 vol.16 p.936 have photographs of olive trees that are 1,000 years old. If I were a tree, I would like to be an olive tree, sturdy, bug-resistant, and live to be a thousand years old!

 

6. In Rom 11:17-24, why would someone graft wild olive branches into a domestic olive tree?

A: Normally one would want to do it the other way around. One would have a wild fruit tree, with its hardy characteristics, combined with domestic branches that produce fruit with pleasant characteristics. Five points to consider in the answer.

1. Paul was giving an example. He was not trying to instruct people how to grow olives, but giving an example of how the Gentiles were grafted in. As The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.726 puts it, “This deliberate inversion heightens the picturesque figure of speech conveying the eternal truth of the rejection of national Israel and composition of true Israel - all believers.” See also the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.402 for a similar description.

2. Many plants are not grafted at all. One normally would only graft out a domestic branch if it were weak, insect-infested, or diseased. Paul specifically says these branches were broken off because of the unbelief in Romans 11:20.

3. The analogy of the Israelites being an olive tree was already familiar to them, in Jeremiah 11:16 and Hosea 14:6. Thus, viewing it chronologically, with the root being the ancestors of a family tree, it was the Gentiles being grafted in, not the other way around.

4. If Paul had said the Jews were the wild root, and the Gentiles the domestic branches, then Gentiles might think God grafted them in because God needed some desirable characteristics in them, versus it being all of grace. Furthermore, it was not the Gentiles that were domesticated, but the Jews.

5. If the analogy were used where the Gentiles were the wild root and the Israelites the domestic branches, that would be backwards in a greater way. The Gentiles were grafted into God’s chosen people, and certainly not the other way around.

   The New Geneva Study Bible p.1787 claims that wild branches sometimes grafted into domestic plants to give new vitality to them. Apparently, if all the branches were domestic, the olive plant would not grow as much. However, Today’s Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.152-153, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1726, and The New International Bible Dictionary p.402 say that no plant breeder would do this, and agrees that Paul used this order to teach about the grafting out of Israel and grafting in of the Gentiles, not horticulture. Paul perhaps also implies this in Romans 11:24 saying that grafting the wild branch onto the domestic root was “contrary to nature.”

   The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.484 says that grafting a wild branch onto a domestic root was not the norm, though it was done.

Conclusion: Paul specifically tells us why it was the Israelites that were the root in this analogy. In Romans 11:18, Paul tells them to remember that they (the Gentiles) do not support the root, but rather the root supports them.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 10 p.122 and the New International Bible Commentary p.1337 for more info.

 

7. In Rom 11:20, what were some of the barriers to the Jews being fruitful to God?

A: They had unbelief. In addition, they had

Lack of love for the lost (like Jonah)

Idolatry and other sins up until the exile (Hosea 9:10).

Found no pleasure in God’s word (Jeremiah 6:10).

Forgot about the need to persevere (Hebrews 10:23,32-35).

Caught up in the cares of this world, as in the third soil (Matthew 13:23).

Reduce God’s word to only a set of rules for living

Forgot the commands to train up your kids (Deuteronomy 6:4).

Because they were disobedient, the Jews were hardened, or porosis in the Greek. The Bible prophesied that God would make them unseeing in Deuteronomy 29:4 and Isaiah 29:10-12. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1724 for more info.

 

8. In Rom 11:22, how can God be both kind and stern, without being contradictory?

A: The Greek word can mean both stern and harsh. On earth, a police officer can be kind by being helpful to a stranger who needs help. The same police office can be stern by shooting a murderer who is trying to kill someone. If a human can be both kind and stern, certainly you should not see a problem understanding that God can be the same way, giving mercy yet still being true to His holy nature. See the discussion on Romans 13:10 for more on how a Christian can be a police officer. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1726 for more info.

 

9. In Rom 11:25, what is does the “fullness of the Gentiles” mean?

A: This means that Israel was cast off as a people of God until the Gentiles who will believe have come into God’s Kingdom. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.135-136 for more info.

 

10. In Rom 11:26, do all Israelites go to Heaven?

A: No according to John 8:24 and Matthew 23:33. Romans 9:8-9,27 also shows this.

 

11. In Rom 11:26-27, will God still fulfill some promises in the future for the biological descendants of Israel?

A: This is one of the key differences between Christians who are covenant theologians and Christians who are dispensationalists.

Covenant Theologians say no. All future promises will be fulfilled not to physical Israel but to spiritual Israel, that is the church, comprised of all true believers of all nationalities. This is called Replacement Theology.

Dispensationalists say yes. Many promises will be fulfilled to spiritual Israel, but physical Israel will still inherit the land of Palestine forever. The 144,000 in Revelation 7 and 14 are from the tribes of Israel. See When Critics Ask p.446-447 for more info on the Dispensationalist perspective.

 

12. In Rom 11:32, what does it mean that God has bound all people over to disobedience?

A: God did not simply dismiss his standard of justice nor lower his standard of perfection for Heaven. Rather, God had mercy on their disobedience through Jesus, blood on the cross.

   This may also relate to the fact that God made at least five kinds of beings:

Non-moral:                         animals

Sinless and remain sinless: angels of various orders

Sinless to Fallen:                demons

Fallen to Sinless:                elect people

Fallen and remain fallen    reprobate people

Romans 11:32 shows that all people, excluding Adam, Eve, and Jesus, are in the last two categories.

   See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.570-572 for more info.


 

Romans 12:1-8 Fully Being Dedicated for God – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 12:1, why does Paul say “Therefore” here?

A: “Therefore” here means on account all of God’s mercies in the preceding chapters. It refers to all of the preceding chapters of Romans, not just chapters 9-11 according to The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.127, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1728, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.487.

   Paul splits many of his letters into two parts, a doctrinal part and a practical part. Or as A. M. Hunter says, “a believing side and a behaving side.” as the New international Bible Commentary p.1338 states. There are of about equal length in Ephesians and Colossians, but in Romans the doctrinal part of more than twice as long, according to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.487.

 

2. In Rom 12:1, how are we to be sacrificed for God?

A: Romans 12:1 does not say we are to be a dead or burned sacrifice, but rather a living sacrifice. Of course, a living sacrifice can have a tendency to want to crawl down off the altar, and we should not do that.

   A story goes like this. Once a chicken and pig were walking through the land, and saw a lot of hungry people. The chicken said, “I know what we can do, let’s make them breakfast!” The pig said, “That’s easy for you to say, but for me that a total commitment.” Now God does not call us to be chickens, but God does call us to have a total commitment to bring salvation to this world. The total commitment is not by dying in serving God (though for some people it is), but by all of us living for God.

 

3. In Rom 12:1-2, what is the difference between walking and working for God, and what this is talking about?

A: Verses 1 and 2 are technically is not about “doing”; that comes later starting in verse 3. Verses 1 and 2 are voluntarily offering yourselves to have a “change of being” done to who you are. Are you willing to have God change and transform you? Some people are not, because they are too satisfied with where they are now.

 

4. In Rom 12:2, what is interesting about the tenses of the Greek words conformed and transformed?

A: Summarizing this as “Don’t conform but transform” is totally wrong. These verbs are passive not active. So it does not say “do not conform” but rather “do not be conformed”. The same is true for transformed. So technically God is not commanding us to do anything here, but rather, paradoxically, God is commanding us, to have something done to us. Thus it is not that people are explicitly trying to conform to the world; but they are being conformed as they are following down the path they chose. Likewise, we are not commanded to transform, because we can’t transform ourselves. We are actively commanded to “be transformed” which is a byproduct our us renewing our mind through the Holy Spirit. In Psalm 40:8 David said God’s law was within his heart. God’s word should be in ours too.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.487 for more info.

 

5. In Rom 12:2, how many times do we need to be transformed?

A: Only once, but it is continuous from the time we first believed to the day we graduate from this earth. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.128 for more info.

 

6. In Rom 12:3, what are some ways people can think more highly of themselves than they ought?

A: In the world, people can think more highly than they ought of their intelligence, money, financial prowess, athletic or musical ability, attractiveness, ancestry, or status in society. Any good thing you have is a gift from God. It can also disappear at any time.

   For Christians in particular, there was a good Christian book, called The Seven Deadly Virtues. A point of that book is that any virtue, a good thing, becomes deadly when mixed with pride. Your faith, Bible knowledge, even your love can look ugly to both God and others when mixed with pride in that virtue.

   In the early church some might think they were better than other Christians because they were Jewish. Some educated Greeks might feel proud of their wisdom, and some, then and now, because of their wealth might feel more influential, or others might feel they are more influential, as James 2:2-5 shows.

   Even Paul apparently knew of this temptation because he said in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 because God gave him a “messenger from Satan” to torment him so that Paul would not become conceited. Even Paul had a struggle with this.

 

7. In Rom 12:3, the opposite of that is to think that everything we have is nothing or no good, and the Bible does not say we should have that attitude either. What should our attitude be?

A: Roman 12:3 says we should have “sober judgment”.

These things can help ground us in sober judgment.

It is fine to struggle win a race or prize (Philippians 3:14). Realizing that you are better at some things than some other people is not being arrogant, but can just be realizing the truth. But also realize that whatever you are very good, it unless you are the very best in the entire world at that thing, there is somebody better than you at that.

Our lives here are fleeting, and we are going to leave this soon enough anyway. See Job 14:1-2; Psalm 62:9; 103:13-16; Isaiah 40:6,7; (partial 1 Corinthians 7:31); James 1:10-11; 1 Peter 1:23-24). There is an organization to help Alzheimer’s patients, called “Still Me”, that reminds families that the Alzheimer patient might have lost some cognitive ability but as one patient said, “I am still me!”

Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a good thing he does not give (Proverbs 25:14 ESV). It does not matter what talents you have, if you do not do anything with them.

Our gifts are not for us; but for others. Philippians 2:17 says that Paul was “being poured out like a drink offering” for other Christians.

We are to use our gifts together with others, not just individually, as Romans 12:5-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 show.

Our abilities and talents are not who you are. Do you know a lot about a subject, are you smart or good at a certain thing? There may come a day when you put that down, and leave that behind, forever, and get something better, when you go to heaven. But you won’t lay those down with sorrow, unless you mistakenly think that those temporary, lesser things are all you are.

Love without hypocrisy (Romans 12:9). Another person’s talents and abilities are not who they are. Did you marry someone for their money? – what would happen if they lost their money? Did you marry someone for their looks? – would you leave them if they got in an accident or otherwise lost their looks? I knew of a guy in high school who had a girlfriend and a very nice car. But when he crashed his car, she broke up with him. She was not in love with him, just his car. Do we love others because of their talents or abilities, or what they can do for us?

 

8. In Rom 12:6-8, why is the list of gifts different from the lists in 1 Cor 12:7-11, 1 Cor 13:8, and Eph 4:7-13?

A: It is good that the gifts listed are different. If they were not, then someone might think the list was the comprehensive list of gifts, and there were not any gifts that were not on the list. These lists are given as examples of categories of gifts. God is free to give additional gifts, and even additional categories of gifts as He pleases and as the church has a need.

   See Today’s Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.361-365 for more info.

 

9. In Rom 12:8f, what does it mean here to show mercy?

A: This does not mean granting forgiveness, but rather helping those in need. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.131 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1730 for more info.

 


 

Romans 12:9-21 Love in Action – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 12:9, what does “love without dissimulation / hypocrisy” mean?

A: The KJV says “love without dissimulation” and the NKJV translates this “love without hypocrisy”, and this is also translated “love must be sincere”. In ancient Greek society a hypocrite was not always a bad term. It simply meant an actor who wore a mask to play a part different than how he really looked. Women characters in Greek plays were often played by men, so a mask was important. But when someone goes through life wearing a mask of covering up how they really feel, that is how the word got a bad reputation.

   Dissimulation meant in a way that was misleading or had ulterior motives. When people love others only because of what others can do for them, that is not a sincere love. Williams translates this, “Your love must be true.” See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1730 for more info.

 

2. In Rom 12:9 are Christians supposed to have any hate, and if so how?

A: We are not supposed to hate people but we are supposed to hate evil, and what it does to people. 1 John 3:10; 4:7-8 says we are not really believers if we have no love for our brother. But are the people we are supposed to love just believers? No, Jesus was asked who we should love, and He responded with the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37.

As Augustine of Hippo said, “hate the sin but love the sinner”. Don’t let our hatred of what is evil spill over into hating the person.

 

3. In Rom 12:11 show can we cultivate not lacking in zeal?

A: God has apparently given believers a responsibility to watch ourselves that we do not get lukewarm in our faith. The word for zeal here, zeontes, can also refer to boiling. Believers usually don’t get lukewarm all of a sudden. More commonly it is a gradual, day-by-day chipping away of our devotion and time with God, being replaced with other things. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1730 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.489 for more info.

 

4. In Rom 12:13; 1 Tim 5:10, Mt 25:35-45, what does the Bible say about practicing hospitality?

A: The Greek word here, philoxenos, literally means “love for strangers”. It has a broader meaning than just doing nice things for people you don’t know, but also genuinely loving people you don’t know. Here is what the Bible commands in general and then qualifications on that command.

Positive Command: Romans 12:13 and 1 Timothy 5:10 tell us to practice hospitality; this is for Christians and non-Christians alike. In Matthew 25:35-45, Jesus said if you gave food, drink, hospitality, clothing, or care of the poor, strangers, sick, or prisoners, it was as if you did it for him. Hebrews 13:2 also says some have entertained angels unawares.

Negative Examples: Job 31:32 mentions not showing hospitality to a stranger as a sin. Among other sins, Sodom and Gomorrah did not show hospitality in Ezekiel 16:49.

Qualification: 2 John 9-11 says that people who are heretics should not be given hospitality. Also, 1 Corinthians 4:11-13 says we are not to associate with any who call themselves a brother but who lives an ungodly life.

The early Church writer Clement of Rome (96-98 A.D.) must have thought hospitality was important because he mentions four examples.

 

5. In Rom 12:14, what does it mean to bless those who persecute us, and what kind of persecution did Paul specifically mention?

A: Paul did not specify any particular persecution, so this could be persecution for our faith, or for anything else. This means at minimum these things.

Do not get revenge or repay evil for evil. This is emphasized in scripture. Romans 12:19,17; Leviticus 19:18; 1 Peter 3:19; (implied) Matthew 5:38-46; Luke 3:27-36

Do good things for them. Repay evil with blessing, as 1 Peter 3:19 says. Do good things like feeding them, in Romans 12:20

Don’t hate them. We are to love everyone. 1 John 3:15 says that anyone who hates his brother does not have eternal life in him.

Love them. Don’t just stop hating them and become apathetic, but actually love them. 1 John 3:10-11,14 sternly says that loving one another is something we must do. Ultimately love is a choice, not a feeling.

Pray for them, that the best thing possible could happen to them; that they would know the Lord. Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27-28; Acts 7:60; Luke 23:34.

Fight Evil – with Good: We are to fight evil, but paradoxically Romans 12:21 says we are to fight evil with good, not a matching evil. This is sort of the opposite of “fight fire with fire”.

Remember, they are getting you a reward in heave. Matthew 5:10 says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (ESV) See also Luke 6:23.

 

6. In Rom 12:15, how should we rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn?

A: The first step to rejoice and mourn with them, without hypocrisy, is to care about them.

Rejoicing with them: If a promotion or something good happens to a friend of yours, are you happy about that, even though you don’t get any benefit from that? Or does jealousy eat away at the joy you should have for your friend? Without God, people are sad when good things happen to others our of envy. But 1 Corinthians 13:4 says that love does not envy. Or people can feel joy when bad things happen to others, which in the German language is called schadenfreude. Perhaps Jonah was looking for that when he was sitting outside of Nineveh. But 1 Corinthians 13:6 says that love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. For those who persecute Christians, we should both pray and wish for the best thing to happen to them that is possible; that they could come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, go to heaven after they did, and we can live together in heaven with them forever. We already know one person like that we will be living in heaven with: Saul of Tarsus, otherwise known as Paul the apostle.

Morning with them: Imagine someone who could rejoice with those who rejoice but could not mourn with those who mourn. They could enjoy the good times, but instead of being there to listen for the bad times they might withdraw, just joke about it, or just tell the person to be tough, with no empathy. Sometimes when someone experiences loss, and you can’t just “fix it”, they can get some comfort from your presence and your taking time just to be with them, because you value them. Sometimes they might need and want advice, but sometimes they don’t. Either way, show you care by spending time with them.

 

7. In Rom 12:16, why does it say to live in harmony with one another, since it already said to love, be devoted to, and honor one another in Rom 12:9-10?

A: We could ask Euodia and Syntyche in Philippians 4:2, and we could as Syzygus/yokefellow, whom Paul tasked with the wonderfully important job of helping these women get along. Jesus said that people will know we are Christians by our love in John 13:34-35, and that we are one in John 17:20-21.

   Do we demonstrate unity with other believers from different backgrounds, walks of life, denominations, and differences of belief on secondary matters? We should remember that Christ who unites us is greater than these things that can divide us.

 

8. In Rom 12:16, why might someone not want to associate with people of low position, and why should we?

A: Sometimes someone might want to avoid someone considered in a lower position because of arrogance, but more often it can be because they are afraid of what other people in position would think. For example, Peter would associate with and eat with Gentiles, but when other Jews came Peter would not, in Galatians 2:11-16. Since Peter did this publicly, Paul called Peter out publicly for his hypocrisy.

   But if you associated with people of allegedly lower position, you might find out something. We are all made in the image of God, and in the eyes of Him who counts, that is God, they are not really in a lower position than you. If anything, if you have pride and they don’t then it might actually be you who is in the lower position.

 

9. In Rom 12:17, what are accepted methods in society of repaying evil for evil?

A: Romans 12:17 says there are no accepted methods for Christians. But society in general might think it OK to talk behind someone’s back, slander and lies to ruin their reputation, make sure their work is of no effect, or play mean pranks on them or their car. Whenever you ask yourself the question “how can I get them back” you are sliding into sin. Romans 12:19 says the God is more capable of getting them back anyway than you are. So of all the things we need to be concerned about in life, how to get someone ack is not one of them.

   George Washington Carver once said, “I will never let another man ruin my life by making me hate him.”

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1731 for more info.

 

10. In Rom 12:18, what are some ways to live at peace with others, as far as possible?

A: Do your make the extra effort to heal strife or bad feelings between someone else and you? Are you a peacemaker, like Jesus encourages us to be in Matthew 5:9. We are to be merciful in Matthew 5:7.

   Sometimes we ought to be disagreeable for important reasons, and that is OK. But never be disagreeable just for the sake of being contentious.

   But beyond avoiding strife, ask yourself a question: are your neighbors happy that they live near you? Are your spouse and kids happy that they live with you? Do your co-workers feel blessed because they work with you? Maybe you are not doing anything overtly hostile, but are you doing things that are friendly?

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1731 for more info.

 

11. In Rom 12:20 and Ps 25:21-22, what does it means to heap burning coals on someone’s head?

A: Christians from Chrysostom to modern times unanimously interpret this as saying Christians should not get revenge. However, there are four views as to what the burning coals mean.

Showing the enemy’s unreasonableness: John Chrysostom in his Epistle to the Romans homily 22 vol.11 p.509 says that a Christian’s kindness and gentle laughing at insults shows our lack of animosity and the foolishness and needlessness of the enemy’s charges.

Assisting with Repentence: Being nice to your enemies will make them feel shameful and convict them when they realize they are acting evil toward you and you are acting loving toward them. The New Bible Dictionary (Eerdmans’ 1962 p.242) and the Geneva Study Bible mentions that coals in Romans 12:20 is a metaphor for shame. The NIV Study Bible p.1726 says that this might help bring about the person’s repentance.

Punishment: Psalm 140:10 says that burning coals falling on a person was a punishment for the wicked. Being kind to them, would both make them feel embarrassed, and leave them to the vengeance to God. The NIV Study Bible p.981-982 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.961 mention this view.

Assisting with Purification: Heap burning coals would be like God had a coal put in Isaiah’s mouth in Isaiah 6:5-7. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.572-574 for more info on this interpretation and how the author, Brauch, feels that burning coals has a positive meaning, not a negative one. Brauch also mentions an ancient Egyptian custom in which a person who had done wrong would show his penitence by carrying a dish of burning coals on his head. The NIV Study Bible p.981-982 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.961 also mention this. However, this could show shame, not that our kindness somehow purifies his sin.

General Assistance: A fourth view some have is that in ancient times when someone’s fire went out, they would travel around the village with a basket on their head, and the neighbors would each put one coal in so that they would have enough coals for a fire. This is mentioned in The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.961. However, I have seen no documentation for people ever carrying a pan on their heads for this purpose in ancient times. It would seem a single coal would go out before the other coals were added.


 

Romans 13 Love Submits – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 13:1-6 and 1 Pet 2:13-14, how are we to obey governments?

A: We are to obey and honor their laws in spirit and letter. We are both not to do evil, and not to have the appearance of evil (2 Corinthians 8:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 5:22). However, a nation’s laws supersede the laws of a province, God’s laws supersede the laws of nations. Any of a country’s laws that contradict God’s law we are not to obey. We are not to speak evil of the ruler of the people in Acts 23:5 and Exodus 22:28. Exodus 22:28 would refer to secular leaders too.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.490 and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.574-576 for more info.

 

2. In Rom 13:1-2 God tells us: Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. Does that mean governments like those under Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot etc. were appointed by God and the people were not meant to resist them?  I find this very hard to believe. If you could explain this to me I’d be very grateful.

A: Let me first give you a brief answer, and then a long answer.

   Briefly, No, we are never to obey any commands that are against God’s commands (such as don’t murder, etc.). Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, etc. were evil men, that God allowed to reign. But remember the Bible mentions the prince of this world, and that is Satan. But even though those men are evil, we are to respect government authority, to the extent that it is not contrary to God’s authority.

   Early Christians wrestled with this, because the Roman government ordered them, under threat of torture and death, to make sacrifices to the Emperor and worship the Emperor or Roman gods. They understood the they were to obey all Roman laws except when they conflicted with the higher law, God’s law. The way they phrased this is that there were legal laws, and illegal laws, which in Greek is sort of punning in the face of death. So even though they were supposed to disobey laws saying to sacrifice to other gods, they knew they still had to obey the other laws that were in conformance, or at least not against God’s law. 

   Let’s pretend we lived in the 1940’s in Nazi Germany. Hitler was certainly an evil man, and any commands to turn Jews into the government we should disobey. But we would still need to obey the traffic laws, and (unfortunately) pay income taxes.

   It gets trickier if we were drafted to serve in the army. I had read that it was rather obvious to the average German that many Jews were going into the camps, none were coming out, and the air around the camps stank of human flesh. If we had to join the army, we would have to see that we were in the evil army, and either surrender to the allies at the first chance, or even better, become a prison guard, and let Jews escape. There was a Nazi officer named Oskar Schindler, who was the only Nazi soldier who is honored in Israel. He knew first-hand what was happening in concentration camps, and he worked to save as many Jews as he could. There is a famous movie about him called Schindler’s List. What is not so well known is that there was a second Nazi party-member, who worked in Mainland China, named John Rabe who similarly did all he could to save the lives of Chinese in Nanjing and other places.

 

3. In Rom 13:1-2,4, the skeptic Bart Ehrman asks if Christians were supposed to obey governing [Roman] authorities, or will the Roman authorities be wicked and evil in Revelation 17:18 (Jesus, Interrupted p.97-98)

A: I asked my 14-year old daughter this, and she could see the answer clearly: both are true. Paul lived under one of the most despicably evil Roman emperors of all time: Nero. Paul would know in his own time how wicked the Roman Emperor could be; he would not have to wait until Revelation was written (almost 50 years after his martyrdom) to know that governing authorities could be very evil. Yet, Paul still taught us to obey the governing authorities. Early Christians did obey the governing authorities, except when their commands went against the higher commands of God.

 

4. In Rom 13:1-6, when should Christians engage in civil disobedience?

A: Christians in general are to obey the laws of the land. However, just as a federal law overrules a state law, God’s law overrules people’s laws. So if a law goes against what God has commanded, we have to obey God’s law first. During World War II some Christians, such as the ten Boom family broke the law and hid Jews from the authorities. They were right to protect oppressed people from a wicked law.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.1732 for more info.

 

5. In Rom 13:6, what is the difference between tax evasion and tax avoidance?

A: The Romans imposed both direct taxes and revenue of goods, like a sales tax or VAT tax. We are required to obey the law and pay both.

See the New International Bible Commentary p.1340 for more info.

 

6. In Rom 13:7, how were pagan and corrupt Roman government officials God’s ministers?

A: The Roman government by Paul’s time was extremely corrupt. Men amassed huge fortunes just by being governors of provinces such as Sicily. These people were not God’s ministers either by their conscious choice or by virtue of the morals. Rather, they were God’s ministers in the one (and only) sense that since they were the actual government, and Christians were to obey them as long as their laws did not contradict God’s. In general, the early Christians were very law-abiding, except that they refused to worship the Emperor as well as worship Christ. For this reason, tens of thousands of them were martyred.

 

7. In Rom 13:8, why do Christians have debt?

A: Romans 13:8 does not say to never have debt, but rather to let no debt remain outstanding, except for love for another. In other words, the first part of this verse is saying we can have debt, but we should pay our debts. Sometimes strange and unusual laws can free up someone from the legal obligations to pay a valid debt. However, regardless of strange human laws, we still have to obey God.

   This does not mean never have debt, but rather pay what you owe, according to the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1732 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.491.

 

8. In Rom 13:9-10, does love your neighbor as yourself really sum up all the Law? What about loving God too, as Mark 12:29-30 says?

A: Paul mentioned four of the Ten Commandments here. Actually the last five and a half can be generalized as “love your neighbor as yourself”. One can generalize the first four and a half commandments as “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.” So one point is that “love your neighbor as yourself” does generalize all laws concerning relationships with other people.

   A second point is that it is difficult to have the strength to really love your neighbor spiritually, emotionally, financially, and every other way, if you do not first love God.

 

9. In Rom 13:10, since we should have no ill will toward our neighbors, can a Christian be a policeman and arrest people?

A: Yes. For the love of other people, for the sake of society, and for enforcing laws against wrong-doers, a Christian policeman can arrest people, using force as necessary. However, they should do so without hatred, malice, anger, or ill-will against the wrongdoer. A good policeman should never have the attitude that he himself is above the law, or that others should treat him special.

   For a good example of what it is like to be a Christian policeman patrolling the “heroin capital of Australia”, see Creation ex Nihilo vol.3 no.3 June-August 1998, p.14-16.

 

10. In Rom 13:11-14, what is the significance of this passage?

A: People can choose to live however they wish. However, Romans 14:12 says they will have to give an account of how they lived. Since we do not know when the end of life on earth will come for us, Romans 13:11-12 mentions the urgency of awakening to the realities at hand.

   As a side note, Augustine of Hippo (388-430 A.D.) said he was brought to his knees by Romans 13:11-14. Prior to becoming a Christian, Augustine was living with his girlfriend by whom he had a son.


 

Romans 14 Receive the Weak in Faith – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 14:1, what exactly are “doubtful things” here?

A: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.492 says it literally says “but not unto quarrels about opinions”. Paul did not exactly define the doubtful things that Christians disagree on, so I guess we can disagree on that too! Paul only describes these doubtful things by two examples. He talks about the diet of a Christian, and considering one day (such as either the Sabbath or Sunday, he did not specify) as above another day. Good Christians an disagree on these things, and rather than answering these issues, as the apostle could have, he uses those to show how Christians should get along despite their differences on “doubtful things”. Doubtful things are things not explicitly spelled out in scripture, and not essential to have correct to be saved. It is not that all doubtful things are unimportant, but rather they are not as important as the clearly taught things.

 

2. In Rom 14:1-5, how were there Jews in Rome?

A: Jews were expelled from Rome in 139 B.C., and by Emperor Tiberius in 44 A.D. Emperor Claudius had expelled all Jews from Rome before he did, but they came back after his death in 54/55 A.D. So like the other churches, the Roman church likely had Jewish believers, but probably not as high a percentage as other churches. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.144 for more info.

 

3. In Rom 14:5, is it now OK to work on Saturday or Sunday, or not?

A: Genuine Christians, both back then and now, disagree. See the discussion on Exodus 20:8 for the answer. Paul said to collect money on the first day of the week in 1 Corinthians 16:2. Early Christians worshipped on Sunday, according to the

Following:

Letter of Ignatius to the Magnesians ch.9 p.62 (106-117 A.D.) “If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death”

Letter of Ignatius to the Ephesians ch.5 p.51 (-107/116 A.D.) “He, therefore, that does not assemble with the Church, has even by this manifested his pride, and condemned himself.”

Didache (=Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) (c.60-120 A.D.) ch.14 p.381 (Implied) “But every Lord’s day do ye gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure.”

Epistle of Barnabas (c.70-130 A.D.) ch.10 p.143 (implied) says that Christians keep the “eighth day” [i.e. Sunday] because that is the day Jesus rose from the dead. He later ascended into the heavens.

Justin Martyr (c.150 A.D.) “But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you [Emperor Adrian] also for your consideration.” First Apology of Justin Martyr ch.67 p.188

Dionysius of Corinth (170 A.D.) (partial) “We passed this holy Lord’s day, in which we read your letter, from the constant reading of which we shall be able to draw admonition, even as from the reading of the former one you sent us written through Clement.” fragment 2 vol.8 p.765

Irenaeus of Lyons (180-188 A.D.) (second-hand) is mentioned in the eponymous work Questions and Responses to Orthodoxy “This [custom], of not bending the knee upon Sunday, is a symbol of the resurrection, through which we have been set free, by the grace of Christ, from sins, and from death, which has been put to death under Him. Now this custom took its rise from apostolic times, as the blessed Irenaeus, the martyr and bishop of Lyons, declares in his treatise On Easter, in which he makes mention of Pentecost also; upon which [feast] we do not bend the knee, because it is of equal significance with the Lord’s day, for the reason already alleged concerning it.” (The footnote says that Sunday here probably refers to Easter Sunday.) ANF vol.1 Fragments of Irenaeus fragment 7 p.569-570.

Clement of Alexandria (193-202 A.D.) (partial, the Lord’s Day is the eighth day) “And the Lord’s day Plato prophetically speaks of in the tenth book of the Republic, in these words: ‘And when seven days have passed to each of them in the meadow, on the eighth they are to set out and arrive in four days.’” Stromata book 5 ch.14 p.466

Tertullian (200-220/240 A.D.) says that while Jewish feasts were the Sabbath and purification, Christians made Sunday their day of rest/festivity. Ad Nationes book 2 ch.13 p.123

Origen (225-253/254 A.D.) “But if it be clear from the Holy Scriptures that God rained manna from heaven on the Lord’s Day, and rained none on the Sabbath Day, let the Jews understand that from that time our Lord’s Day was set above the true Sabbath.” Homilies on Exodus (translated by Rufinus, who translated very freely) Homily 7 ch.5 p.308

Cyprian of Carthage (c.253-258 A.D.) (partial) “For in respect of the observance of the eighth day in the Jewish circumcision of the flesh, a sacrament was given beforehand in shadow and in usage; but when Christ came, it was fulfilled in truth. For because the eighth day, that is, the first day after the Sabbath, was to be that on which the Lord should rise again, and should quicken us, and give us circumcision of the spirit, the eighth day, that is, the first day after the Sabbath, and the Lord’s day, went before in the figure; which figure ceased when by and by the truth came, and spiritual circumcision was given to us.” Letters of Cyprian Letter 58 ch.4 p.354

Anatolius of Alexandria (270-280 A.D.) (partial) “the Lord’s resurrection, which took place on the Lord’s day, will lead us to celebrate it on the same principle; yet this should be done so as that the beginning of Easter…” Paschal Canon ch.16 vol.6 p.151

Victorinus of Petau (martyred 304 A.D.) “On this day also, on account of the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, we make either a station to God, or a fast. On the seventh day He rested from all His works, and blessed it, and sanctified it. On the former day we are accustomed to fast rigorously, that on the Lord’s day we may go forth to our bread with giving of thanks. And let the parasceve become a rigorous fast, lest we should appear to observe any Sabbath with the Jews, which Christ Himself, the Lord of the Sabbath, says by His prophets that “His soul hateth; “ which Sabbath He in His body abolished, although, nevertheless, He had formerly Himself commanded Moses that circumcision should not pass over the eighth day, which day very frequently happens on the Sabbath, as we read written in the Gospel.” On the Creation of the World p.341-342

Council of Elvira (306-307 A.D.) (21 undisputed canons) “If anyone who lives in the city does not attend church services for three Sundays, let that person be expelled for a brief time in order to make the reproach public.” Canon 21.

Peter of Alexandria (306,285-311 A.D.) discusses the fourth day and that Jesus suffered on the sixth day [Friday] for us. Then he says, “But the Lord’s day we celebrate as a day of joy, because on it He rose again, on which day we have received it for a custom not even to bow the knee. The Canonical Epistle Canon 15 p.278

Methodius (270-311/312 A.D.) (partial mentions the eight day) “His own Son to reveal to the prophets His own future appearance in the world by the flesh, in which the joy and knowledge of the spiritual eighth day shall be proclaimed, … before the Church was espoused to the Word, received the divine seed, and foretold the circumcision of the spiritual eight day.”

Among heretics and spurious books

The heretic Bardaisan/Bardesan (154-224-232 A.D.) says that we [Christians] meet on the first day of the week. The Book of the Laws of Diverse Countries p.733

After Nicea I (325 A.D.)

Hegemonius (4th century) (partial) discusses how Christ superseded the Sabbath as Lord of the Sabbath. The Disputation with Manes ch.42 p.216

Constitutions of the Holy Apostles (c.375/390 A.D.) “But keep the Sabbath and the Lord’s day festival; because the former is the memorial of the creation, and the latter of the resurrection.” book 7 section 2.23 p.469

Constitutions of the Holy Apostles (c.375/390 A.D.) “but assemble yourselves together every day, morning and evening, singing psalms and praying in the Lord’s house: in the morning saying the sixty-second Psalm, and in the evening the hundred and fortieth, but principally on the Sabbath-day. And on the day of our Lord’s resurrection, which is the Lord’s day, meet more diligently, sending praised to God that made the universe by Jesus, …” book 2 ch.8.59 p.423

   Deviations from this were mentioned by Justin Martyr (wrote about c.138-165 A.D.) (Dialogue with Trypho ch.47), calls Sabbath-keepers “weaker brethren”, and Eusebius of Caesarea (324 A.D.) mentions Ebionite heretics as keeping the Sabbath.

 

4. In Rom 14:5, was Paul referring to the Sabbath here?

A: It is applicable to both the Sabbath and Jewish holy days. Christians have two viewpoints. Paul explicitly specified neither Old Testament festival or Sabbath. Paul used the very generic phrase “special days” to cover both.

In contrast to this, the editors of the Calvinist New Geneva Study Bible p.1791 thinks Paul was only referring to Jewish holy days. It says, “If the Sabbath were in view it would have been more natural to say, ‘One man considers the Sabbath above the other days.’”

It is a moot point to add restrictions to the phrasing of Romans 14:5, because elsewhere (Colossians 2:16 NKJV) Paul specifically says we are not to judge others “regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths”. Thus, Paul covered believers having different views and not judging others for both festivals and Sabbaths.

 

5. In Rom 14:5, what do you think of Eric Liddle, the main character in the movie Chariots of Fire, who refused to compete in the Olympics on his best event, because it was on a Sunday?

A: Eric had a personal conviction that he please God by honoring Sunday as holy, and not do work on Sunday. Competing in a race would be considered as work. However, the Bible never said not to work on Sunday. In the Old Testament the Israelites were to do no work on Saturday, not Sunday.

 

6. In Rom 14:5, when Paul had the perfect opportunity to settle the question on the Sabbath, why did he decline to do so?

A: Because the point Paul was trying to make was more important than our view on the Sabbath. While Paul actually did give the answer obliquely on food (Romans 14:14,17,20), the main point of this passage is not food or the Sabbath, but the following:

1. Obedient Christians will differ on non-essential issues, and that is OK. We must not look down on those with other views. (Romans 14:1-4,10-13)

2. Do not let what you think of as good to be spoken of as evil. (Romans 14:16-17)

3. Do not be a stumbling block to others. If you know it is OK, it could still be a sin for weaker brothers, who do not do it out of faith. (Romans 14:13-15,20-21,23)

   See also the discussion on 1 Corinthians 8:9-13 for more info.

 

7. In Rom 14:15, how can just “eating” destroy a fellow Christian?

A: The food does not physically harm a fellow believer, but Paul is speaking of a way the action of eating can destroy a fellow Christian’s faith. If a Christian thinks it is wrong to eat something, and a second Christian tempts the first Christian to go against their conscience, then it can hurt the faith of the first Christian. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.576-578 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1736-1737 for more info.

 

8. In Rom 14:16, how are we to not allow what is good to be spoken of as evil?

A: &&&

See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.148 for more info.

 

9. In Rom 14:19, what are some ways we can actively work to promote peace and harmony in the church?

A: First look around and see where there is a need for better harmony. Sometimes it is one individual, that most others have trouble getting along with. Other times it is two factions, that don’t trust or don’t like each other. Sometimes it is an issue of the strong vs. weaker brethren. Paul is mainly appealing to the stronger brethren to be sensitive to the weaker ones. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1737, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.147-148, and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.953 for more info.

 

10. In Rom 14:2,14,17,20-21, as Catholic and Orthodox Christians refrain from non-fish meat during Lent, should all Christians do this to avoid stumbling weaker brethren? Likewise, as some Christians believe in never drinking alcohol, should all Christians refrain?

A: Here is a summary of what you should do.

1. Practice what you believe is right, but do not look down on those who practice differently.

2. Do not let what you believe be spoken of as wrong, if it is not unbiblical. (See Colossians 2:16-20)

3. If a person reminds you of this issue, mention that it is fine to do, but tell them if that is the way they believe, you will not do it in their presence.

   It is important to do 2 and 3 together. If you simply refrain from doing it at that time, they might get the impression that you agree not to do it again. If they find out you did it again when they were not around, it would have the appearance of hypocrisy. So, refrain from doing it around them, but make it clear you still believe it is right and you are not implying that you will refrain from doing it altogether.

 

11. In Rom 14:20-21, a C5-ish believer (they sometimes don’t want to be called Christians) taught that Christians, even in America, should not eat pork, because it is offensive to some Muslims, even though they will eat shellfish and camel, which are against the diet of Jews in the Old Testament. People eating beef is offensive to some Hindus. The Jains teach you should not eat after sunset. The Pythagoreans taught that people should not eat beans. What would you say to those things?

A: If you followed every custom of every single religion, life would be more difficult; especially if customs for a religion contradict the customs of a different religion. Four points to consider in the answer.

1) As Christians we have the freedom to eat whatever meat (or beans) that we want, when we want.

2) We should not let is pass when people say it is wrong to eat certain foods, or at certain times.

3) However, for the sake of another person’s conscience, we would not want to do what they consider offensive in their presence.

4) However, if asked, we should not lie, and tell them that we do eat.

 


 

Romans 15 Pleasing Others for God for their good – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 15:2, should we try to please others, or please God and not be people pleasers as Eph 6:6; Col 3:22; 1 Th 2:4; and Gal 1:10 say?

A: Both. There are four parts to the answer.

We are to please God foremost. Verses that show that we are to please God (not just go through motions of obeying Him) are Hebrews 11:6; 13:21; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; 1 John 3:12; Ephesians 5:10; 6:6; Colossians 3:20; 3:22, and Ecclesiastes 7:26.

Don’t please others first: Pleasing others should not be our highest goal, pleasing God should be. Jesus specifically said that loving your brother as yourself was the second commandment, not the first, in Mark 12:28-31; Matthew 22:37-30; Luke 10:27-28.

God commands us to love and please others, after Him. We are to please God first, and we can please Him by obeying His commandments, including 1 John 5:2 and 2 John 5-6. Jesus said the second greatest commandment is to love others as we love ourselves. Certainly that includes pleasing them (with one exception mentioned in the next point). So if we want to please God we will love others, and please them.

Please others for their good: Romans 15:2 adds “for their good”. When there might be things that could please someone, but are sinful or otherwise harmful to them, don’t do those things. In fact, sometimes because we love a person, we can and will do things that might not be pleasing to them. Of course, that goes against just pleasing others at all costs, but it is consistent with loving others and pleasing God.

 

2. In Rom 15:2, what are some good ways we can be more pleasing to others?

A: There are a number of things to do, but also a number of things to stop doing.

Don’t do things that make people feel put down. That does not just mean don’t put other people down; it also means try to avoid doing things that while not done to put other people down, will have the side effect of them feeling put down.

Don’t look down on others or give the impression that you do. Show that you respect them, value them, and give them honor. Treat others as more important than yourselves, as Philippians 2:3 says.

Be a servant, of God first, but then of others.

Have empathy for the other person, try to understand what life looks life through their eyes. Perhaps you can’t fully, depending on what they have been through, but you can still try.

Do you enjoy being around the other person, as Paul mentions in Romans 15:24,32. If so, then show that you like being around the other person.

Obey: God has given us an explicit commandment, that we love the children of God, in 1 John 5:2 and 2 John 5-6.

 

3. In Rom 15:1-3, how would a Christian who wanted to please God, and himself, not caring much about others, differ from one who lived to please God first and then others?

A: The first type would not even care about the answer to the previous question. &&&

 

4. In Rom 15:4, Scripture gives us truth, but how has scripture also given us patience, comfort and hope?

A: &&&

 

5. In Rom 15:7, what does it mean to receive other believers as Christ has received us?

A: &&&

Imagine thinking, I know that God forgives us, but I don’t know about other believers, because their standard is higher than God’s.

 

6. In Rom 15:14, how can we admonish other believers, in ways that they are more likely to listen to and accept?

A: First of all, whether or not a person actually accepts correction and rebuke that they should accept is the responsibility of the person receiving the admonishment. If someone gives you admonishment in a poor way, but their admonishment is proper, you should still do it. Nevertheless, as the person giving the admonishment, they are some things we can do to make it easier for them to accept.

- Not high to low &&&

 

7. In Rom 15:18, when should you not share the great things God has accomplished through you?

A: &&&

 

8. In Rom 15:20, what did Paul mean about not building on another man’s foundation, and why was it good to avoid that?

A: &&&

 

9. In Rom 15:23, after God has moved you to a place or situation, how do you know the time has come when you “no longer have a place in these parts”?

A: &&&

 

10. In Rom 15:24,28, did Paul ever travel to Spain?

A: Paul wrote Romans on the way to Jerusalem (Romans 15:25), so if he did, it had to be after Romans was written. Here is the evidence he did.

a) Paul intended to go there in Romans 15:24,28.

b) Eusebius suggested that Paul went in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History 2:22:2-3.

c) Paul did according to 1 Clement ch.5 p.6, the Muratorian Canon ch.2 lines 34-39 p.603, and the spurious Acts of Peter (4th century?) ch.1-3. I would not put much credence in the Acts of Peter, but I would tend to trust the other two sources.

   See The NIV Study Bible note under 1 Timothy 2:1 for more info on Paul’s journeys.

 

11. In Rom 15:29, what is the “fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ”?

A: This can refer both to Paul’s life and his words. He is coming to them with his life whole-heartedly full of the blessings of Christ. By his words he is going to preach and teach the entire gospel, not just a portion of it.

 

12. In Rom 15:30-32, what are Paul’s four prayer requests, and why are they important?

A: Do these sound like your prayer requests? Paul specifically asks for prayer

1) To be delivered from unbelievers in Judea. This was not answered as a “yes”.

2) His service to the saints in Jerusalem is acceptable. Paul is praying that he would meet their needs, as he says in Romans 1:10-11.

3) Paul would come to them in joy by the will of God. This is more than just Paul sharing the right words. This includes Paul entire person being a vessel of the gospel.

4) Paul and them may be refreshed together. Apparently having believers with refreshed spirits was important to Paul. Paul prays that the God of peace be with them in Romans 15:33.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.159-160, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.955, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1740, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.498 for more info.

 

13. In Rom 15:30-32, why do you think Paul did not ask for more things, such as personal safety or comfort?

A: Apparently Paul felt his physical safety and comfort were not as important as those things. &&&

 

14. In Rom 15:32, how can we be better at “refreshing” others?

A: Be a servant. First examine your heart. Consider that part of the reason God keeps you on this earth is to be a Christian waterboy, or watergirl, providing some refreshment to the important saints who are doing his work. Philippians 2:3 says to consider others as more important than yourselves&&&

Romans 16 Appreciating Others – some brief answers

 

1. In Rom 16, does this long list of people in a city Paul had not visited indicate this letter was not really written to the Romans (Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.1097) or that Rom 16 was not really a part of Romans (Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.1093)?

A: No. Of the more than 28 people Paul mentioned, one was from Asia, three were Paul’s relatives, and some were co-workers Paul knew from Corinth and other places. In addition, nothing says that Paul had met every one of these individuals in person; some may have been workers Paul heard of second-hand and wanted to commend. The Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.955 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.162 add that it would not be uncommon for people to travel a lot in the commercial world of the Roman Empire.

 

2. In Rom 16:1-2, what is interesting about Phoebe?

A: Either Paul sent her as his emissary, or else she was known by Paul to travel for the ministry.

We don’t know here though, if Paul directly sent her to Rome, or more likely, Paul just had her carry the letter because she was already going to Rome anyway. The Greek word for servant here, diakonon, is the same word used for deacons in Philippians 1:1; and 1 Timothy 3:8,10,12. It is also used in Romans 15:8 and 1 Corinthians 3:5.

   Phoebe is from the Greek word for bright, and a nickname of the god Apollo. It was a pagan name, but it was OK to keep a pagan name as a Christian.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.499, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1740, and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.160-161 for more info.

 

3. In Rom 16:5, why would Christians meet in their house?

A: All churches met in houses at this time. They went to catacombs and secret places once persecution started. Church building did not appear until the late second century. Aquila and Priscilla, both being tentmakers, apparently could afford a house large enough for a group of believers to meet at in Rome. When the lived in Corinth they also had a church in their house in too. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1740 for more info.

 

4. In Rom 16:7, were Andronicus and Junia apostles, since they were of note among the apostles?

A: No. This means Andronicus and Junia were especially noticed by the apostles. As a side note, they were never mentioned at all by church writers through 325 A.D. There is some ambiguity of the gender of Junia. However, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.956 says that the evidence favors Junia being a woman; if Junia is a man, this would be the only place in all Greek literature where it was a man’s name.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.164 for more info.

 

5. In Rom 16:10, why were “households” greeted?

A: The Greek here is “belong to”, so this probably did not primarily refer to a wife and children. A wealthy household would have a lot of slaves, and this referred to the slaves. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1741 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.500 for more info.

 

6. In Rom 16:9,12, what is interesting about the names Tryphena, Tryphosa and Urbanus?

A: These women’s names mean “dainty” and “luxurious”, which are not particularly descriptive of hard-working women. They might have been aristocratic, rather than lower-class or slaves. But Paul says, regardless of their names, they were hard-working women. Likewise Urbanus is a man’s name meaning “refined” or “elegant”, and it must have been nice to be served by a worker whose name meant “elegant”. On the other hand, Hermas, Hermes, and Ampliatus were common slave names. In the church you have “high-born” wealthy people, and poorer people and even slaves all working together in unity as equals, one in the Lord. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1741 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.165 for more info.

 

7. In Rom 16:13, is this Rufus the same Rufus in Mark 15:21, who was the son of Simon of Cyrene who carried Jesus’ cross? (Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.1098 asked this.)

A: It could be, but not necessarily. Rufus, meaning “red”, was a common name. The New Geneva Study Bible and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.165 mention this as a possibility.

 

8. In Rom 16:15, how was Jesus Christ kept secret until He came, since so many Old Testament prophecies refer to the Messiah?

A: Just as a person can mention a secret as a mystery without explaining it, the Old Testament frequently mentions the mystery of the prophecy of the coming Messiah, without explaining the Incarnation of Jesus.

 

9. In Rom 16:17-18, why does Paul warn people so many times about false or ungodly teachers?

A: It could be combination of what he saw in people, what he saw in their susceptibility, and prophecy in Acts 20:29-31. Paul also prophesied this in 1 Timothy 4:1-3 and 2 Timothy 4:3-4. The word for “obstacle” here, skandala, does not mean large blocks, but rather traps or snares. The people who are deceived are akakon in Greek, which means unsuspecting or innocent. The word “innocent” about what is evil is a related word, kakon in Greek, which can mean unweakened or unmixed.

   However, Paul’s legitimate concern about the church to guard against false teachers has not diminished over time. Though some have denigrated believer who guard the flock as “heresy hunters”, guarding the flock from spiritual wolves is important. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1741-1742 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.501 for more info.

 

10. In Rom 16:17-18, how do divisive people serve their own “belly” or appetites?

A: People are often divisive for their own purposes, though not necessarily smart or intelligent purposes.

It can be about themselves: They can be divisive or displeasing because it gives them a sense of self-importance and feed their pride. They can feel they are making a contribution, by being the watchdog, or not letting somebody get by easily with something. In a strange sense, they can be difficult, and then feel they are magnanimously making a contribution when they finally relent and allow it.

It can be about money: They might have more sales or opportunities if they bring someone else down. Or they think that their boss might be happier with them if the “gaslight” a person, to try to make them look bad.

It can be about the other person: They are divisive to try to bring someone else down, even if it brings themselves down a bit in the eyes of others. Some opposed Paul for that reaon in Philippians 1:15-16.

It can be about something: If they agree and go along with something, there could be a monetary loss for them.

It can be about their audience: They think it makes them look good in the eyes of others, - and sometimes it does. They can think it makes them look tough, smart, or a good executive or leader. To summarize, they think they can increase their esteem in the eyes of others, showing themselves a force to be reckoned with.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.501, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1741-1742, and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.167 for more info.

 

11. In Rom 16:23, what archaeological evidence is there for Erastus?

A: In Romans 16:23, Paul greets Erastus, the city treasurer of the city Paul was writing from (Corinth). This may be the same Erastus in 2 Timothy 4:20 and Acts 19:22.

   In 1929, in excavating Corinth, on a re-used paving stone, the following inscription was found: “Erastus, curator of public buildings, laid this pavement at his own expense.”

   See The New Testament Documents : Are They Reliable? (IV Press 1943) by F.F. Bruce p.95 , and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.169 for more info. See the Rose Book of Charts, Maps & Time Lines p.117 for a photograph.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


by Steven M. Morrison, PhD.

 

See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.7 for more info.

 

 

Q: In Rom, what is the difference between an epistle and a letter?

A: An epistle, from the Greek word epistole, is a type of letter that was intended to be read and circulated publicly. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.10 p.6-7 for more info.

 

Habakkuk 2:4 The just shall live by faith

 

Telling someone who is under the control of sin to stop letting sin run is sort of like encountering a drowning person, and helping them you by yelling “swim to shore”. See The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary Romans 1-8 p.399.

 

The lifeless law had no power to affect the life it commanded. See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.988 for more info.

 

 

D.L. Moody illustrated the two truths this way: ‘when we come to the door of salvation, we see the invitation overhead, ‘Whosoever will may come.’ When we pass through, we look back and see the words, ‘Elect according to the foreknowledge of God’” above the door. From the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1715.