Introduction: For the past eight years as part of my morning “think and pray” time  I have been making a careful study of Paul’s Letter to the Romans using the Greek text. Unlike some commentators I see Romans as one quite long and deeply connected argument from ch 1 right through to ch 16. I also see it as an overview of the Gospel so I have used Paul’s letter as the basis of this study. The text I am quoting is mostly from the translation by N T Wright: The New Testament For Everyone, London, SPCK, 2011.

  1. The Gospel (εὑαγγελιον = “good news”)  began in the heart of God and is about his son Jesus. Romans 1:1-4. [The gospel] was promised beforehand through his prophets in the sacred writings – the good news about his son, who was descended from David’s seed in terms of flesh, and who was marked out powerfully as God’s son in terms of the spirit of holiness by his resurrection of the dead:Jesus, the king (Xριστοσ = Christos = Messiah), our Lord. (Κυριος= Kurios =God)

promised beforehand in the sacred writings…Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12) The OT is important!

David’s seed (2 Samuel 7:12-14)

Resurrection (Mark 16:6) “He has risen; he is not here!”

2.  Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the good news! Neither must we be in 2017 in spite of the unelected, unaccountable media, the chattering classes,the Facebook trolls or the intellectual elites [see Roger Scruton: Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left, London, Bloomsbury, 2016]  Like Paul, we live in an age of persecution of Christians world-wide; we share Christ’s sufferings; this is an exciting thing. Beware when all people speak well of you!

3. Romans 1:18-21 …What can be known of God, you see, is plain to them, since God has made it plain to them. Ever since the world was made, his eternal power and deity have been seen and known in the things that have been made. As a result they have no excuse: they knew God but did not honour him as God or thank him.   All of mankind is accountable to God.  God will deal with the world. Our job is to respond to the revelation we have received…the kingdom of God is within and among us..our eternal life has already begun. We are predestined for vocation, not salvation,  and our task is the vocation of making God’s love known and living that love in the world.  [God’s Grandeur, Gerard Manley Hopkins]

4.  Romans 2:1 and 11 So you have no excuse —anyone, whoever you are, who sits in judgment! When you judge someone else, you condemn yourself, because you who are behaving as a judge, are doing the same things….God, you see, shows no partiality..  we are all accountable to God (even the most religious Jew/Hindu/Buddhist/Christian/Muslim/Sikh/Gnostic/Mormon/noble pagan/“good” atheist etc).

What will happen to those of other faiths/those who have never heard/those who have heard a confused witness/ those who have heard badly/Little children who die/the mentally unstable?  These are God questions; it is not for us to answer them. Our task is to be faithful and obedient…happy and trusting in God’s love. In the end “Love does win”. This phrase came from the title of an excellent book by Rob Bell before it was purloined for other purposes. Love does win! how is beyond our reason except we know the answer to Abraham’s question: Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?

5. Romans 3:22-24  God’s covenant justice comes into operation through the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah, for the benefit of all who have faith[fulness] = Greek πιστις = pistis = faith and faithfulness (depends on the context)]. For there is no distinction: all sinned, and fell short of God’s glory—and by God’s grace they are freely declared to be in the right…  [..who of thy tender mercy, didst give thy only son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption; who made there a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world…The Book of Common Prayer, 1662. Let God be God; He is saviour and Judge.

6. Romans 4:25  [Jesus, the one faithful Israelite ..the Messiah]  was handed over because of our trespasses and raised for our acquittal (δικαιωσις = dikaiosis = justification)

7.  Romans 5:1 …since we have been declared ‘in the right’ on the basis of faith[fulness], we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus the Messiah.

8. Romans 6:23 The wages paid by sin, you see, are death; but God’s free gift is the life of the age to come, in the Messiah, Jesus our Lord.  [  Life without God in the end becomes a living death; I see little point pontificating about Hell when we witness.  Without a God-centred life just living can become Hell.  Milton wrote:

a man’s life is its own place

and of itself can make

a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven] Paradise Lost Book 1.

9. Romans 7:24-25 ..who is going to rescue me from the body of this death? Thank God —through Jesus our king and Lord!

10. Romans 8:1  So, therefore, there is no condemnation for those in the Messiah, Jesus. 

[Charles Wesley: No condemnation now I dread, Jesus and all in Him, is mine (hymn: And Can it Be)

11. Romans 9 -11 Paul’s anguish about his own people the Jews and their particular responsibility to and relationship with God.

12.  Romans 12-16  In view of God’s love in action for us, How then, shall we live?