Bible Discussion — Romans 1

August 29, 2007, 1:00 pm; posted by
Filed under Bible, Chloe, David, Djere, Josh J, Steve, Tom  | No Comments

This week, Bweinh.com looks at our first chapter from the New Testament, Romans 1.

Genesis: 1-4 | 5-9 | 10-14 | 15-18 | 19-22 | 23-26
27-29 | 30-32 | 33-36 | 37-39 | 40-43 | 44-46 | 47-50

Exodus: 1-4 | 5-8 | 9-11 | 12-14 | 15-18
19-22 | 23-26 | 27-30 | 31-34 | 35-40

 
INTRODUCTION:
Steve:
Welcome to our first trip to the New Testament! After a few months working our way through Genesis and Exodus, we’re postponing Leviticus for a while and skipping a few hundred pages forward. Selfishly, I feel much more comfortable in the doctrinal books of the New Testament than I do in the narrative books of the Old, and I’m curious to see how this format and these people handle this very different part of the Word!

David:
Christianity would have remained an obscure sect of Judaism without the brilliant Pharisee we call Paul. He alone grasped the scope of what had to change. Jesus did not come to reform Judaism but replace it. The Book of Romans articulates that fact better than any other book in the Bible.

 
SOMETHING YOU’D NEVER NOTICED BEFORE:
Tom:
Debate is mentioned among the unrighteousness of 1:28. I wonder why that is?

David:
The Holy Spirit is here called the Spirit of Holiness. No wonder he is so rarely comfortable around us.

Josh:
Paul opens his letter with a tone that seems like he felt he owed them apologies or explanations — sorry I couldn’t come see you, I mean I really wanted to, you have to know that, but I just couldn’t. I’m sure you understand. But I’ve been praying for you a lot, God as my witness.

Djere:
In 1:7, Paul writes, “To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints.” I don’t think he means there are only a handful destined to sainthood. All believers are loved by God and all are called to be saints.

Steve:
The first four verses of the letter are an amazingly concise restatement and preview of the following sixteen chapters. Paul declares himself to be both a slave of Christ and an authoritative apostle. He tells us that the Gospel fulfilled Old Testament prophecy, identifies Jesus as both the Son of God and the seed of David, then closes by referencing the Holy Spirit, holiness, and the resurrection from the dead. Wow.

 
BEST BAND NAME FROM THE PASSAGE:
Josh: Without Excuse
Tom: Natural Affection
David: The Barbarians
Steve: Both of You
Djere: Birds and Animals and Reptiles

 
STORY IT REMINDS YOU OF::
David:
It reminds me of Edgar Parkins illustrating “debtors to all men” from 2 Kings 7:9, where the lepers say, “Wait we do not well; this is a day of good tidings and we hold our peace.” These outcasts realize that they owed a debt to the people who had cast them out as unclean — to share the good news with them.

Chloe:
Romans 1:5 mentions “the obedience that comes through faith.” In Mudhouse Sabbath, Lauren Winner talks about the phrase in Exodus 24: Na’ahfeh v’nishma, or “We will do and we will understand.” These two phrases summarize the Jewish and Christian beliefs pretty well. Judaism is centered around celebrations, traditions and laws which will bring the people closer to God. Christianity, on the other hand, starts with the closeness to God (the “personal relationship”). Because of that relationship, the believer is supposed to desire obedience to God.

Steve:
Senator Larry Craig.

Tom:
1:22 says, “Professing themselves to be wise they became fools,” which reminds me of the story of the builders of the Tower of Babel. It’s hard to seem wise and build a great tower when suddenly, your companions are speaking Swahili.

DEEP THEOLOGICAL MEANING:
Djere:
The Gospel of Christ is revealed to all mankind, first for the Jew, then to the gentile, for everyone who believes, a righteousness by faith.

Chloe:
Paul longs to see the Roman believers so that they “may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” I have heard time and time again of Christians who have abandoned the idea of church because they’ve been wounded or they’re just sick of the hypocrisy. There are myriad reasons for not going to church, and some of them are valid, I’m sure, but what those giving the excuses seem to always forget is that, while it isn’t necessary to go to church in order to go to heaven, it is necessary in order to sustain our Christian walk. Without that mutual encouragement of the body of Christ, we will become weary amongst the non-believers, and we may even forget why we do what we do.

Steve:
Guess what? Like it or not, this chapter squarely addresses homosexuality, in a way that leaves no doubt about Paul’s — and God’s — position. It’s characterized here as a punishment, the result of a people hardening their hearts toward God and exchanging his Truth for the lie of self-gratification. It’s not singled out as any worse or better than the rest of the list, which includes a vast and vile array of sins, but it’s there nonetheless.

David:
Both “the righteousness” and “the wrath” of God are being revealed from Heaven. The choice is ours.

Josh:
At first glance, 1:18-20 could seem to downgrade the importance of witnessing. After all, men can see for themselves in the world the truth about God. In reality, it is an important reminder of the urgency of the situation. No one can claim ignorance as an excuse. Since not proclaiming truth to them won’t save them from accountability, we must go forth with “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”

 
RANDOM THOUGHT:
Steve:
Paul realized that he would receive as much (or more) from the Romans’ impressive faith as they would from his teaching.

Chloe:
Paul describes most evil people as gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventing ways of doing evil, and the real kicker — they disobey their parents. Right up there with hating God is disobeying one’s parents. Kind of puts the importance of that into perspective.

 
WHERE IS JESUS IN THIS PASSAGE:
Josh:
Calling Romans to belong to Him.

Tom:
Verses 2 and 3.

David:
He is the author and initiator of the Gospel being preached in His name.

Steve:
All over the place — but first and foremost, identified as master of the great Apostle Paul.

Djere:
Calling all to His salvation through grace and peace.

 
VERSE TO REMEMBER:
Tom:
1:20 — “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”

Chloe:
1:11-12 — “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established — that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.”

Josh, David, Steve, Djere:
1:16 — “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

 
PORTION YOU WOULD MOST LIKE EXPLAINED IN HEAVEN:
Djere:
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Having been born after the revelation of Christ, I can’t fully grasp what it’s like to live without Him. Is the miracle of creation really enough to hold people accountable to the saving knowledge of God?

Steve:
What and who exactly did Paul have in mind when he wrote about (a) changing God’s glory into the image of men and animals, and (b) the punishment of homosexuality?

David:
I’d love the full reckoning of verse 20. How glorious, how undeniable, how irrefutable, was the witness left in nature before our senses were clouded with sin after sin?

 
LESSON TO TAKE AWAY:
Josh:
In a list (1:29-31) that contains some fairly deplorable descriptions — God-haters, murderers, inventors of ways of doing evil, heartless — one accusation almost seems to jump out at me: they disobey their parents. It seems so benign by comparison, perhaps because we’ve all done it, but its inclusion here is an important reminder that this stands in direct defiance of God’s commands. Listen to your Mom and Dad.

David:
We are without excuse. Idolatry, nature worship, sexual immorality, vain traditions, none of it can be explained away before God. We are all guilty.

Tom:
Don’t, don’t, don’t hold the truth in unrighteousness. Bad idea.

Steve:
Paul was ready, in the face of persecution, to preach the Gospel in Rome — because He was compelled by, rather than ashamed of, Jesus Christ and the power of God. In some ways, I think it’s easier to be unashamed in the face of actual persecution, because it gives you the impetus to take a stand for Christ. Our work is to apply his focus and commitment to life here in fat, indifferent America.

 
GENERAL RESPONSE TO THE PASSAGE:
David:
We must preach the Gospel.

Steve:
I love the book of Romans and I love how Paul starts this great doctrinal masterwork with powerful encouragement, reminding the Romans they are “called to be saints,” and providing an example of wholesale commitment to the Gospel. Then he starts laying out the argument — first he must expose the sinfulness of man, so he can move onto its only cure.

Djere:
Yikes. The punishment for sin is pretty rough toward the end of the chapter. I wonder how that fits into many people’s New Testament theology, what with this gracious God revealing wrath from heaven in our “age of grace.”

 
CONCLUSION:
Djere:
Don’t mess with Texas.

Er… if you know God, glorify and give thanks to Him, or else!

David:
The last verse draws the distinction that exists between those who sin, and those who not only sin, but enjoy the company of those who sin. When believers sin, we grieve; we do not congregate with like-minded sinners and rejoice in it.


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