The Wrath of God

Romans 1:18-20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse

‘For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven’ – the wrath of God is also revealed in the gospel as part of God’s righteousness.

‘Wrath of God’ this phrase is found ten times in Scripture (1:18; Ps. 78:31; John 3:36; Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:6; Rev. 14:10, 19; 15:1, 7; 16:1).

‘Against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men’ this is what God’s wrath is against. In Romans 1:18-32, Paul proves the utter ungodliness of the Gentile world and its deserving God’s wrath. In Romans 2:1-3:8 he proves that the Jews are also ungodly and deserving of God’s wrath. In Romans 3:9-20 he sums up the case of both Jews and Gentiles, proving the whole world guilty.

‘Ungodliness’ [Greek: asebeia] impiety; no reverence for God or sacred things; irreligious (2Tim. 2:16; Tit. 2:12; Jude 1:18). ‘Unrighteousness’ [Greek: adikia] all wrongdoing; immorality; wickedness of heart and life (1:18, 29; 2:8; 6:13; Luke 18:6). ‘Hold the truth in unrighteousness’ hold down, suppress; imprison or bridle.

‘For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made’ Romans 1:20 explains 1:19. All invisible things, even the eternal power and Godhead, are clearly seen by the visible things of creation. Deuteronomy 29:29 says: “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

‘Eternal’ [Greek: aidios] ever-during (forward and back-ward, or forward only): – eternal, everlasting. ‘Godhead’ [Greek: theiotes] Deity. ‘Without excuse’ no excuse for people to be ignorant of the invisible things.

Salvation

Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 

‘Ashamed’ [Greek: epaischunomai] Paul here fulfils Isaiah 28:16: “he that believes shall not make haste” – he that confides and trusts in the sure foundation is secure and will not make haste or be ashamed (Rom. 9:33; 1Pet. 2:6).

‘Gospel of Christ’ another term for “gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1). ‘Power’ [Greek: dunamis] inherent power; the ability to reproduce itself, like a dynamo. The Gospel is God’s power: To produce the new birth (1Pet. 1:23); to give salvation (1:16; Eph. 1:13); to impart grace (Acts 20:24); to establish people in the faith (16:25); to generate faith (10:17); to set free (John 8:31-36); to nourish spiritual life (1Pet. 2:2); to cleanse the church (Eph. 5:26); to search the life (Heb. 4:12); to make partakers of Christ (Eph. 3:6); to impart immortality (2Tim. 15:29).

‘Salvation’ [Greek: soteria] translated “salvation” 40 times; “saved” (Luke 1:71; Rom. 10:1); “deliver” (Acts 7:25); “health” (Acts 27:34); and “saving” (Heb. 11:7). Salvation is the all-inclusive word of the gospel, gathering into itself all the redemptive acts and processes. It is used 119 times in the Old Testament. There are 7 Hebrew and Greek words for “salvation.” They are used 388 times and are translated by 23 English words, some with various endings, which mean salvation, deliverance, save, health, help, welfare, safety, victory, Saviour, defend, avenge, rescue, and preserve.

Salvation is used of: Deliverance from danger (Ex. 14:1-31); victory over enemies (1Sam. 14:1-52); healing of the body (Acts 3:6; 4:12); forgiveness of sin (Luke 19:9; Rom. 10:9-10; Ps. 38:18-22; 51:1-13; 79:9); freedom from prison (Php. 1:19); deliverance from captivity (Ps. 14:1-7); deliverance from wrath (1Thess. 5:9).

Salvation from sin comes through: Confession (Rom. 10:9; 1Jn. 1:9); grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9); sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth (2Thess. 2:13); godly sorrow (2Cor. 7:10); faith in His blood (Rom. 3:25); faith in His name (Acts. 4:12).

‘For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith’ God’s righteousness is revealed in the gospel on the ground of faith as the absolute condition of salvation, and is only effective in those who believe.

‘The just shall live by faith’ quoted from Habakkuk 2:4. It means that the just must live by continued faith, and go from faith to faith (grow in trust) as light (knowledge) is received (1Jn. 1:7).

Be Established

Romans 1:8-15 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end you may be established; That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 

‘Whole world’ showed to the Roman Empire here. This is a figure of speech, synecdoche: a whole is put for a part, as in Genesis 6:17; 2Samuel 6:5, 15; 1Kings 11:16-17; Daniel 2:37-38; 7:23; Matthews 3:5-6; Luke 2:1-3; Romans 1:8; Colossians 1:23 and Revelation 13:8, 16.

‘With my spirit’ we must serve God with spirit and soul, as well as with our bodies (1Cor. 6:19-20).

‘That I may impart unto you some spiritual gift’ Paul had the fullness of God (Rom. 15:29) and could impart spiritual gifts by the laying on of hands (1Tim. 4:14; 2Tim. 1:6; Heb. 6:2). Not many in history can claims this even though so many false teachers/prophets (Matt. 7:15-20; 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22; 2Cor. 11:13; 1Tim. 4:1-2; 2Pet. 2:1; 1Jn. 4:1) deceive others very successfully without having the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) and the qualifications as laid down in 1Timothy 3:1-13.

‘To the end you may be established’ the purpose of all spiritual gifts (1Cor. 1:7; 12:4-11, 28-30; 14:1-40; Rom. 12:3-8) is that God – and not man or institutions – may be glorified through the body of Christ (1Cor. 10:31; 12:12-27).

‘That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me’ be blessed through their establishment by spiritual gifts.

‘Now I would not have you ignorant’ six things are mentioned by Paul in his letters to the congregations wherein he did not want people to be ignorant of: Gospel responsibility (Rom. 1:11-18); God’s purpose for Israel (Rom. 11:25-32); God’s judgments on backsliders (1Cor. 10:1-13); Spiritual gifts (1Cor. 12:1-31); God’s faithfulness in trouble (2Cor. 1:8-10); The resurrection and future life (1Thess. 4:13-18).

‘Debtor’ [Greek: opheiletes] one under an obligation or bound to some duty (1:14; 8:12; 15:27; Matt. 6:12; 18:24; Luke 13:4).

‘Barbarians’ [Greek: barbaros] It does not mean that they were uncivilized, for Greeks called any people “barbarians” who did not speak the Greek language. Paul himself used the term of those whose language he did not understand (1Cor. 14:11). The Egyptians also called all “barbarians” who did not speak their language. ‘Unwise’ [Greek: anoetos] unintelligent.

‘Ready’ [Greek: prothumos] ready, willing. Paul was ready to do that what he was called for – to do the work of an apostle of Jesus Christ (Acts 13:2; 26:16-18; 1Tim. 1:11-12) – in order to complete the New Testament as we have it today. Many teachers and preachers make the same claim without having a personal calling from Christ.

The Gospel of God

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

‘Paul’ we can see his history written in Acts 7:58; 8:1-3; 9:1-30; 11:25-30; 12:25; 13:1-28:31; Galatians 1:1-24; Philippians 3:1-21; 1Timothy 1:1-20 and 2Corinthians 11-12. His name heads up all of his epistles (except Hebrews). ‘Servant’ [Greek: doulos] bond-slave; one who is the entire property of another (1Cor. 6:19-20; 2Cor. 4:5).

‘Called’ [Greek: kletos] called. Here, called to an office and divinely selected and appointed to fill it (Rom. 1:1; 1Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:15). Believers can’t claim that they have the same calling as Paul (and the other apostles) had, because they were called to preach what they learnt (Gal. 1:17-18) from Jesus Christ as they wrote to the believers from various congregations.

‘Apostle’ [Greek: apostolos] a delegate, one sent with the full power of attorney to act in the place of another, the sender remaining behind to back up the one sent. In the case of Christians it means God sends them to do what He, Himself would do if He went. Twenty-four apostles are recorded of which the first twelve were Jesus’ disciples: Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, James, son of Zebedee and John his brother (Matt. 10:2); Philip and his brother Bartholomew (Matt. 10:3); James, son of Alphaeus and Judas his brother (Luke 6:16) and Matthew, son of Alphaeus, perhaps brother of James and Judas (Mark 2:14; Luke 6:15); Thomas (Matt. 10:3); Simon Zelotes, brother of James and Judas, according to tradition (Luke 6:15); Judas Iscariot (Matt. 10:4). Then there was Matthias (Acts 1:26); Barnabas (1Cor. 9:5-6; Acts. 13:1-3; 14:4, 14; Gal. 2:9); Andronicus and Junia (Rom. 16:7); Apollos (1Cor. 4:6-9); James, the Lord’s brother (Gal. 1:19; 2:6; Jas. 1:1); Silas and Timothy (1Thess. 1:1; 2:6); Titus (2Cor. 8:23);  Epaphroditus (Php. 2:25); Paul (Gal. 1:1; 2:8), and Jesus Christ (Heb. 3:1)

‘Separated’ [Greek: aphorizo] set apart. Three stages of Paul’s separation: At birth, in God’s mind (Gal. 1:15); at conversion, from Judaism to the gospel (Acts 9:15-16; 1Tim. 1:15-16); at his commission, from secular work to the work of God (Acts 13:2; 26:16-18; 1Tim. 1:11-12)

‘The gospel of God’ the gospel of God (Acts 1:1-5) can be summarized as follows: The gospel defined (Acts 10:15); fulfilment of the promises (Acts 1:2); a revelation (Gal. 1:11-12, 16); historical and prophetic facts of the gospel (Luke 24:44; 1Cor. 15:1-23); a manifestation of: (1) God’s creation (Acts 1:20; Eph. 3:9), (2) Man’s rebellion (Acts 1:21-3:23), (3) God’s love, mercy, and grace (John 1:17; 3:16; Tit. 2:11-12; 3:5), God’s wrath (Rom. 1:18-32),  (5) God’s salvation (Rom. 1:16; 3:24-31; John 3:16; 1Jn. 1:9), (6) God’s plan (Acts 3:19-21; Rom. 8:19-25; Eph. 1:10; Rev. 21-22), (7) Man’s destiny: rebels (Matt. 25:41, 46; Rev. 14:9-11; 20:10-15); the saved (John 14:1-3; Rev. 5:10; 21:1-22:5); confirmation of the gospel (Mark 16:15-20; Rom. 15:18-29; Heb. 2:1-4); ordinances of the gospel: (1) water baptism (Matt. 28:19) and (2) the Lord’s Supper (1Cor. 11:19-34).

Be Found of Him in Peace

2Peter 3:14-18 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that you look for such things, be diligent that you may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest you also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. 

‘Be diligent that you may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless’ three final commands in 2Peter that save the soul: Be diligent that you may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless (3:14); beware lest you also (like the backsliders of 2Peter 2:1-22), being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness (3:17); grow in grace, and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ 3:18).

‘Written unto you’ Paul has written the letter of Hebrews ‘unto the Jews’.

‘Some things hard to be understood’ the things that Peter refers to are not listed, so it cannot be known what he would consider hard to understand. Had he possessed the whole New Testament Peter might have had more light on some of Paul’s statements.

‘Unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction’ this should not be taken as proof that the Bible is hard to understand, or that the common man cannot understand it, for the unlearned and unstable not only stumble at the so-called things which are hard to comprehend by some, they also twist the so-called simple scriptures to their own destruction, not wanting to understand (Matt. 13:15-17; 1Cor. 2:14).

‘Beware lest you also, being led away’ here is another proof that it is possible for a Christian to be led into error and fall from his steadfastness. If such is not possible, then many scriptures like this are meaningless.

‘Error of the wicked’ the error of the wicked is to wrest (twist) the Scriptures to make them condone or excuse their lusts and sinful practices.

‘But’ this clause is connected to “fall from your own steadfastness” (3:17), meaning that one can backslide and fall from grace. See Galatians 1:6-9; 5:4 and Hebrews 12:15.

‘Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ the Christian life is growth. Every grace and blessing of the gospel is in seed-form and implanted in the newborn child of God (1Pet. 1:23; Jas. 1:18). If these seeds are watered from heaven and cared for by the individual in conformity to the Word of God, they will grow to full maturity. No single work of grace or even a dozen works of grace or anointing of the Spirit will make a person fully mature and beyond the growing stage of Christian experience. One must walk in the light as he receives knowledge and he will grow normally to maturity in Christ (1Jn. 1:7; 1Pet. 2:1-8).