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Read an Excerpt
Life Application Bible Studies Romans
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2009
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter One ROMANS
PURPOSE: To introduce Paul to the Romans and to give a sample of his message before he arrives in Rome
ORIGINAL AUDIENCE: The Christians in Rome
DATE WRITTEN: About A.D. 57, from Corinth, as Paul was preparing for his visit to Jerusalem.
SETTING: Apparently Paul had finished his work in the east, and he planned to visit Rome on his way to Spain after first bringing a collection to Jerusalem for the poor Christians there (15:23-28). The Roman church was mostly Jewish but also contained a great number of Gentiles.
KEY VERSE: "Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us" (5:1).
KEY PEOPLE: Paul, Phoebe
KEY PLACE: Rome
SPECIAL FEATURES: Paul wrote Romans as an organized and carefully presented statement of his faith-it does not have the form of a typical letter. He does, however, spend considerable time greeting people in Rome at the end of the letter.
KNOWLEDGEABLE and experienced, the district attorney makes his case. Calling key witnesses to the stand, he presents the evidence. After discrediting the testimonies of witnesses for the defense by skillfully cross-examining them, he concludes with an airtight summary and stirring challenge for the jury. The announced verdict is no surprise. "Guilty" states the foreman, and justice is served.
The apostle Paul was intelligent, articulate, and committed to his calling. Like a skilled lawyer, he presented the case for the gospel clearly and forthrightly in his letter to the believers in Rome.
Paul had heard of the church at Rome, but he had not yet been there, nor had any of the other apostles. Evidently the church had been started by Jews who had come to faith during Pentecost (Acts 2). They had spread the gospel on their return to Rome, and the church had grown.
Although many barriers separated them, Paul felt a bond with these believers in Rome. They were his brothers and sisters in Christ, and he longed to see them face to face. He had never met most of the believers there, yet he loved them. He sent this letter to introduce himself and to make a clear declaration of the faith.
After a brief introduction, Paul presents the facts of the gospel (1:3) and declares his allegiance to it (1:16, 17). He continues by building an airtight case for the lostness of humanity and the necessity for God's intervention (1:18-3:20).
Then Paul presents the Good News: Salvation is available to all, regardless of a person's identity, sin, or heritage. We are saved by grace (unearned, undeserved favor from God) through faith (complete trust) in Christ and his finished work. Through him we can stand before God justified, "not guilty" (3:21-5:21). With this foundation Paul moves directly into a discussion of the freedom that comes from being saved-freedom from the power of sin (6:1-23), freedom from the domination of the law (7:1-25), freedom to become like Christ and discover God's limitless love (8:1-39).
Speaking directly to his Jewish brothers and sisters, Paul shares his concern for them and explains how they fit into God's plan (9:1-11:12). God has made the way for Jews and Gentiles to be united in the body of Christ; both groups can praise God for his wisdom and love (11:13-36).
Paul explains what it means to live in complete submission to Christ: Use spiritual gifts to serve others (12:3-8), genuinely love others (12:9-21), and be good citizens (13:1-14). Freedom must be guided by love as we build each other up in the faith, being sensitive and helpful to those who are weak (14:1-15:4). Paul stresses unity, especially between Gentiles and Jews (15:5-13). He concludes by reviewing his reasons for writing, outlining his personal plans (15:22-33), greeting his friends, and giving a few final thoughts and greetings from his traveling companions (16:1-27).
As you read Romans, reexamine your commitment to Christ, and reconfirm your relationships with other believers in Christ's body.
A. WHAT TO BELIEVE (1:1-11:36)
Paul begins his message to the Romans by vividly portraying the sinfulness of all people, explaining how forgiveness is available through faith in Christ, and showing what believers experience in life through their new faith. In this section, we learn of the centrality of faith to becoming a Christian and to living the Christian life. Apart from faith, we have no hope in life.
1. Sinfulness of humanity
Greetings from Paul
1 This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. 2 God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. 3 The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David's family line, 4 and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through Christ, God has given us the privilege* and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.
6 And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ. 7I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people.
May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
God's Good News
8 Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world. 9 God knows how often I pray for you. Day and night I bring you and your needs in prayer to God, whom I serve with all my heart by spreading the Good News about his Son.
10 One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you. 11 For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. 12 When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.
13 I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to visit you, but I was prevented until now. I want to work among you and see spiritual fruit, just as I have seen among other Gentiles. 14 For I have a great sense of obligation to people in both the civilized world and the rest of the world, to the educated and uneducated alike. 15 So I am eager to come to you in Rome, too, to preach the Good News.
16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes-the Jew first and also the Gentile. 17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, "It is through faith that a righteous person has life."
God's Anger at Sin
18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other's bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.
28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God's justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.
God's Judgment of Sin
2 You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. 2 And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. 3 Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God's judgment when you do the same things? 4 Don't you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can't you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
5 But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 He will judge everyone according to what they have done. 7 He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. 8 But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. 9 There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil-for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 10 But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good-for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism. 12 When the Gentiles sin, they will be destroyed, even though they never had God's written law. And the Jews, who do have God's law, will be judged by that law when they fail to obey it. 13 For merely listening to the law doesn't make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in his sight. 14 Even Gentiles, who do not have God's written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. 15 They demonstrate that God's law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. 16 And this is the message I proclaim-that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone's secret life.
The Jews and the Law
17 You who call yourselves Jews are relying on God's law, and you boast about your special relationship with him. 18 You know what he wants; you know what is right because you have been taught his law. 19 You are convinced that you are a guide for the blind and a light for people who are lost in darkness. 20 You think you can instruct the ignorant and teach children the ways of God. For you are certain that God's law gives you complete knowledge and truth.
21 Well then, if you teach others, why don't you teach yourself? You tell others not to steal, but do you steal? 22 You say it is wrong to commit adultery, but do you commit adultery? You condemn idolatry, but do you use items stolen from pagan temples? 23 You are so proud of knowing the law, but you dishonor God by breaking it. 24 No wonder the Scriptures say, "The Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of you."
25 The Jewish ceremony of circumcision has value only if you obey God's law. But if you don't obey God's law, you are no better off than an uncircumcised Gentile. 26 And if the Gentiles obey God's law, won't God declare them to be his own people? 27 In fact, uncircumcised Gentiles who keep God's law will condemn you Jews who are circumcised and possess God's law but don't obey it.
28 For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. 29 No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God's Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise* from God, not from people.
God Remains Faithful
3 Then what's the advantage of being a Jew? Is there any value in the ceremony of circumcision? 2 Yes, there are great benefits! First of all, the Jews were entrusted with the whole revelation of God.
3 True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? 4 Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him,
"You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court."
5 "But," some might say, "our sinfulness serves a good purpose, for it helps people see how righteous God is. Isn't it unfair, then, for him to punish us?" (This is merely a human point of view.) 6 Of course not! If God were not entirely fair, how would he be qualified to judge the world? 7 "But," someone might still argue, "how can God condemn me as a sinner if my dishonesty highlights his truthfulness and brings him more glory?" 8 And some people even slander us by claiming that we say, "The more we sin, the better it is!" Those who say such things deserve to be condemned.
All People Are Sinners
9 Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin.
10 As the Scriptures say,
"No one is righteous-not even one.
11 No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God.
12 All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one."
13 "Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies." "Snake venom drips from their lips."
14 "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness."
15 "They rush to commit murder.
16 Destruction and misery always follow them.
17 They don't know where to find peace."
18 "They have no fear of God at all."
19 Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. 20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
2. Forgiveness of sin through Christ
Christ Took Our Punishment
21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses* and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard. 24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.
27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.
29 After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn't he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is. 30 There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. 31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.
The Faith of Abraham
4 Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? 2 If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God's way. 3 For the Scriptures tell us, "Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith."
4 When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. 5 But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners. 6 David also spoke of this when he described the happiness of those who are declared righteous without working for it:
7 "Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight.
8 Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin."
Excerpted from Life Application Bible Studies Romans Copyright © 2009 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of ContentsContents A Note to Readers....................ix
Introduction to the New Living Translation....................xv
Why the Life Application Study Bible Is Unique....................xvii
What Is Application?....................xix
Features of the Life Application Study Bible....................2
ROMANS from the Life Application Study Bible....................39
How to Use This Bible Study....................41
Lesson 1: The Gospel at the Crossroads Romans 1:1-17....................45
Lesson 2: Whatever Became of Sin? Romans 1:18-2:16....................49
Lesson 3: Not Guilty! Romans 2:17-3:31....................53
Lesson 4: Abraham, a Model of Faith Romans 4:1-25....................57
Lesson 5: Finding Peace with God Romans 5:1-21....................61
Lesson 6: Free to Choose Life Romans 6:1-23....................65
Lesson 7: Losing Sight of the Victory Romans 7:1-25....................69
Lesson 8: The Key to Confident Living Romans 8:1-39....................73
Lesson 9: Searching for God and Missing Jesus Romans 9:1-11:36....................77
Lesson 10: Becoming a Living Sacrifice Romans 12:1-21....................81
Lesson 11: Controlled by Love Romans 13:1-14....................85
Lesson 12: Living for Each Other Romans 14:1-15:13....................89
Lesson 13: Partners in the Gospel Romans 15:14-16:27