Chapter 1
A Famous Faith

Romans 1:1-8

There are three vital books in the Bible that the Christian needs to have a good grasp. Those books are:

  1. Genesis, which gives a grasp of the past and our beginning.
  2. Revelation, which gives us a grasp of the future.
  3. Romans, which gives us a grasp of the present. It explains key doctrines that are dear to Christianity and our responsibilities as Christians now while we live our lives on this earth.

Many Christians preachers get spooked when it comes to the book of Romans because of some of the difficult passages found within it. Some feel it is a boring book because of its doctrinal emphasis. On the contrary, it is a very exciting and wonderful book. Because of the doctrinal shallowness in many of our Baptist churches and Bible colleges today, I felt it was necessary to write this book on Romans now. The false teachings that permeate in some of our Baptist churches and schools are appalling, and to me, a tragedy. If you are called to preach, study the Word of God. If you are not willing to do this, then stay out of the pulpit! God did not call us to entertain the saints with a bunch of stories and jokes, He called us to preach the Word, so preach it! If you are going to preach or teach, then be prepared when you step behind that pulpit or else sit down and let someone who has labored in the Word do the speaking.

It is my goal and intention in writing this commentary on Romans to make this book as understandable and practical as possible. It is my prayer that by the time you finish reading this book, you will have a strong understanding and grasp of the wonderful doctrines within it and that you will be blessed and challenged to live for Christ. I hope that you will understand what we believe as Christians and why we believe it and realize this book is not as difficult to understand as we have been led to believe by some. This is a great book of the Bible!

The book of Romans has been called the Fort Knox of Bible doctrine. It is the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution of the Christian Faith. Paul wrote three epistles which were pivotal. One was the book of Ephesians, which explained the mystery of the church. Paul wrote the Thessalonian books which explain the mystery of Christ's coming and Romans which explains the mystery of Christ's cross. It is a very powerful book. The great revivals and reformations of history are linked to the book of Romans. The theologian Augustine was transformed from pagan to preacher after reading Romans 13:13, 14.

Romans 13:13, 14—Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

One thousand years later, a Roman Catholic monk was saved after reading the book of Romans. His name was Martin Luther who realized the truth that we are justified by faith in Christ. Luther said, "Romans is the chief part of the New Testament and the very purest gospel." In 1738, after hearing the preface to Martin Luther's commentary on Romans in a church service, a doubting and confused missionary, John Wesley, got assurance of his salvation in Christ. It was Romans that turned John Bunyan into a spiritual giant. Romans was instrumental in the writing of Pilgrim's Progress.

Jesus refers to books like Romans in John's Gospel.

John 16:12—I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

The "many things" includes the book of Romans.

This letter was written to the church at Rome. Rome started around 753 b.c. There were about one million people in the city by Paul's time. The church at Rome existed several years before they got this letter. There was no mother church or central church in the city. People met in a number of homes (Romans 16).

The church at Rome was not started by Peter. Paul would not go there if this was the fact.

Romans 15:20—Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:

Peter's main ministry was with the Jews (Galatians 2:9).

How was the church at Rome started? It was not started by Paul because he has not been there yet. It is believed that converts at Pentecost went back to Rome and started churches. Notice Acts 2.

Acts 2:10—Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

Three thousand were saved on Pentecost and more later in the following years.

The Roman church had no New Testament. The Gospels had not been circulated yet in their final form. This may have been the first piece of Christian literature. The book of Romans is listed first in Paul's epistles, but it was not his first epistle.

Who wrote the letter to the Romans? This is a trick question. The author of Romans is Paul through the person of the Holy Spirit. Paul did not write the words on the parchments. A man named Tertius did this.

Romans 16:22—I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.

Paul loved the folks at Rome. He was eventually martyred in this city (2 Timothy 4:6-8). God used the heartaches of Paul's family to bring glory to God. In 70 b.c., Pompey came into power. In 63 b.c., he captured Jerusalem. Many Jewish captives were led to Rome and were enslaved. It is believed that Paul's father was one of these captives. Their family was treated kindly. Later, many of these captives were set free by their masters and became Roman citizens. When Paul was born, he was free-born as a Roman citizen, a privilege that became a valuable asset in his ministry. God can turn your trials into blessings!

How did the letter get to the Romans? It was 1500 miles away from Corinth. There were no UPS or Federal Express offices at that time. The letter was delivered by a wealthy woman on a business trip to Rome. Phebe was the postwoman who carried this treasure.

Romans 16:1, 2—I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.

Little did she realize what she really had on her person. It was dynamite. Her simple, everyday action is affecting people 2000 years later. No task for God is insignificant.

When we examine the book of Romans, we find several key words popping up.

  1. Sin—60 times
  2. Faith—62 times
  3. Righteousness—66 times
  4. All—71 times.

The key phrase is "the righteousness of God." Romans reveals that God is righteous; He demands righteousness; He provides righteousness; we are told what is righteousness and what it is not; we are taught who needs righteousness and why; we are told where we find righteousness and where we can't find it.

A survey of Romans teaches...

The book of Romans meets a number of needs.

1. The need for a reality check. This is found in chapters 1-3. Sin has hooks. We need help and salvation. We are without excuse before God.

2. The need for a standard to re-organize our lives. This is explained in chapters 4-5. Christ is our standard for living. We are to live by faith.

3. The need to understand the working of the Gospel in our lives. This truth surfaces in chapters 6-8. We find our struggle with sin and our victory is through the Holy Spirit's power and presence in us. One of the most precious chapters is Romans 8. One of the most comforting verses for the distressed is Romans 8:28.

Romans 8:28—And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

4. The need for clarification on how we fit into God's plan is found in chapters 9-11. We are reminded of God's power and working in this world and in us.

5. The need for love and encouragement is addressed in chapters 12-16. We see the love of God for us and that love should motivate us to live for Him.

Now that we have a basic background laid for this book, let's dig into it and find some of its treasures. As we work our way through Romans, we will list the alternate translations in the 1611 KJV marginal notes to demonstrate the truth there is more than one way to translate a verse or Greek words in the New Testament or Hebrew words in the Old Testament. The KJV translators did not believe they were personally inspired of God or that their English translation preceded the Greek or Hebrew text. The authority for translation was in the Greek or Hebrew, not the English. We will also show that the KJV did not always agree with the majority of Greek manuscripts and that there were variations among the 30 different Textus Receptus manuscripts. So let's get our spiritual shovels out now and start digging for treasures from Romans.

I. THE SERVANT—1:1

Paul is a servant of Jesus Christ. What does he mean by that statement? The Greek word for "servant" is the word doulos. It's used in 119 verses of the New Testament. It is a wonderful word packed with truth.

1. It is a word of desire. Doulos was used of a person who voluntarily served others. He was a bondslave. Exodus 21 spoke of a bondslave.

Exodus 21:5, 6—And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.

2. It is a word of dedication. A doulos is one bound to a master with chords so strong that only death could break them. He was forever on duty.

3. It was a word of delight. The word was used to describe positions in the kingdom known as slaves of the empire. These were positions of honor. They were held by slaves of the king himself. Paul considered himself as a slave of the King of kings. Doulos was mainly a term of subservience and insignificance. A slave was considered as a piece of property, not a person. He had no rights at all. He existed to fulfill the will of another person.

Paul understood this word very well since there were about sixty million slaves in the Roman empire. Most of them despised slavery and servitude and the humiliation attached with it. When a new slave arrived in the Roman slave markets, chalk was put on his feet and he had to wear a sign telling his good points and bad points. This is why the choice to be a slave was absolutely unthinkable.

Paul was a willing slave of Jesus Christ who existed to do God's will and not his own. Paul considered himself on duty for the Lord always.

Galatians 6:17—From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

The word "marks" is the word stigmata. It forms our English word "stigma." It means: 1) a mark pricked in or branded upon the body. To ancient oriental usage, slaves and soldiers bore the name or the stamp of their master or commander branded or pricked (cut) into their bodies to indicate what master or general they belonged to, and there were even some devotee's who stamped themselves in this way with the token of their gods. The marks were also marks of suffering that came from the discipline of the master. Paul suffered greatly for the Lord Jesus Christ. These were probably the marks he was referring to on his body.

1 Corinthians 6:19, 20—What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

We are bought with a price.

Are you a willing servant of Jesus Christ? Servants are:

1. Separated—

Romans 1:1—Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

2. Sealed—

Ephesians 1:13—In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

His image and mark are upon our lives.

3. Supported—

Philippians 4:19—But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

4. Strengthened—

2 Timothy 4:17—Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.

5. Secure—

2 Timothy 4:18—And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Paul had a "servants" attitude. This is one of the key reasons why God used him and will use us too! He was a minister.

1 Corinthians 3:5—Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

The word "minister" is diakonos and it means "table waiter." It is the same word used to translate the word "deacon." Deacons are servants, not the masters of the church.

1 Corinthians 4:1—Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

The word "ministers" is the Greek word huperetes. It was a word for servant but was also used to describe an under rower on a ship, which was the lowest level of rowers in the galley of a Roman ship. It was the hardest and most dangerous work for any slave.

When a person has a servant's attitude, it will squelch pride, cockiness, and selfishness. When a pastor gets cocky, he kills his ministry and effectiveness for Christ. May we not forget we are to be willing servants of Jesus Christ. Are you a servant of the Lord?

II. THE SENT ONE—1:1

Paul was called an "apostle." The words "to be" are not in the Greek text, but were inserted by translators. The actual Greek manuscripts read, "a called apostle" with the word "called" being an adjective, not a verb. The Greek word for "apostle" is apostolos, which is used 80 times in the Bible. An apostolos was a person sent by an authority with a commission, such as an ambassador. Cargo ships were called apostolic ships because they were dispatched with a specific shipment with a specific destination. The idea of the word "missionary" comes from the word "apostle." We are to be like apostles in the sense that we are ambassadors for Christ, missionaries sent to this world for a specific mission.

An apostle of Jesus Christ, such as Paul, met several requirements.

  1. He was chosen by God (Acts 9:15).
  2. He was personally commissioned by Jesus Christ (Acts 9:6).
  3. He had seen the risen Savior (1 Corinthians 9:1,2).
  4. He was a recipient of divine revelation (Galatians 1:10-12).

There are no apostles today. We have God's complete revelation of truth in the Scriptures.

III. THE SEPARATION—1:1,2

Paul is separated unto the gospel of God. This word "separated" is the Greek word aphorizo which forms our English word "horizon." It comes from the word horizo which means "to define, mark off by boundaries, or mark out by an unmistakable sign." The idea behind this word is the boundaries of Paul's life were marked out by the Gospel. He was set apart and devoted to a special purpose of preaching the Gospel. The Gospel of Jesus Christ determined his path. Paul's horizon or path, was determined by the message of Jesus Christ. What influences the�