A Theological Outline of Romans 1-8
Jack W. Cottrell

Volume XXII --  Number  1
March, 1976
pp. 26-49
(C)opyright 1976
All Rights Reserved
The Cincinnati Bible College & Seminary

Text versions:  Word Perfect 6/7/8 (.wpd)   Word 97 (.doc)

PREFACE, 1:1-17.
A. What has the gospel to do with Paul? 1:1. It is his God-appointed task to preach it.

B. What has the gospel to do with the Old Testament? 1:2. It is in harmony with it. God has always had only one way of saving men. The Old Testament contains the gospel in promise, and it was through faith in the promise that people in Old Testament times were saved.

C. What has the gospel to do with Jesus Christ? 1:3-7. Christ is the subject or subject-matter of the gospel. The gospel is what Christ does to save us.

1. The gospel is the work of Christ FOR US, vv. 3-4. This is not a reference to the two natures of Christ (human and divine), but a reference to the two states of his incarnate existence: his humility and his exaltation. See the parallel in Philippians 2:5-11.

2. The gospel is the work of Christ IN US, vv. 5-7.

a. The response demanded: the obedience of faith. This may be the obedience which consists in faith (Murray), or the obedience which results from faith (McGarvey).

b. The result produced: we belong to Jesus Christ, and we are made holy (saints).

D. What has the gospel to do with the book of Romans? 1:8-15. Romans is the most thorough explanation of what the gospel means for the Christian.
1. Paul expresses his joy and concern for the Christians at Rome, and mentions his desire to come to Rome in person, vv. 8-12.

2. Why does he want to go to Rome? He earnestly wants to preach the gospel in person to the Romans, but circumstances have thus far prevented it, vv. 13-15.

a. Since he could not go to Rome and preach the gospel in person, Paul did the next best thing: he preached the gospel to them (and to us) in a letter. The book of Romans is Paul's own studied statement of the gospel, sent to the Romans in lieu of a personal visit. It is "a clear summary of the Christian faith" (Erdman). It is "the real chief part of the New Testament and the very purest gospel" (Luther).

b. Romans shows us that "the gospel" includes more than the saving events themselves (the death, burial and resurrection of Christ). Indeed, it is the MEANING of these events for our lives which constitutes the bulk of Paul's presentation of the gospel. Romans is the expansion of the "for our sins" in I Corinthians 15:1-4.

E. What has the gospel to do with us? 1:16, 17. We are its object. It is for us, for our salvation. It reveals to us that salvation, in terms of being right with God, is by faith. (This is the theme of Romans, the gospel in a nutshell.) The "good news" of the gospel is not simply that we can be saved rather than lost. The good news is that we can be saved by FAITH rather than by works of law (Romans 3:28; Ephesians 2:8-10). So the main point of Romans is not primarily a contrast between sin and salvation, but a contrast between two possible ways of salvation: by grace through faith, or by law through works. Thus there are, in theory, two roads to God. But Paul's point is that one of these roads (works of law) has been thoroughly and permanently and irreparably blocked by our sin. But God has graciously provided the alternate route (faith). This latter is now the only genuine road to salvation and way to God. But it is a way that is available to all, since the basic condition (faith) is one that all can meet.
1. This contrast is implied in verse 17, when Paul says that the gospel reveals a "righteousness of God." The implied contrast is between human righteousness (human works in fulfilment of some law) and divine righteousness (the gift of righteousness which God gives to us and on the basis of which we are declared righteous before him). See Isaiah 61:10; Romans 3:21; 10:3; II Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9.

2. Why is this GOOD NEWS? Because the ONLY alternative to salvation by faith is salvation by works. If the latter were the only way to be saved -- if our salvation depended upon our own righteousness (our works), then who could be saved? The outcome of such a system for sinners like us would be hopeless despair in this life and eternal damnation in the next. For who has lived perfectly in accordance with the law that applies to him? Who can plead innocent to the charge of transgression of the law? Not one. But here is the gospel, the good news: our salvation does not depend upon OUR righteousness, our ability to maintain sinless perfection. Our salvation rather depends upon a righteousness OF GOD earned by the works of Jesus Christ (verses 3, 4) and bestowed freely upon all who put their whole-hearted trust in him. In other words, salvation is by grace through faith, and not of works (Ephesians 2:8-10). On such gracious terms as these, who COULD NOT be saved? Here is a condition everyone can meet. Despair and doubt concerning our own salvation are replaced by happiness and hope and assurance, when we realize that our own personal salvation does not depend on our weakness but on God's strength. Is this not good news?


    The gospel is good news. But immediately after stating the grand theme of justification by faith (1:16, 17), Paul plunges into a frightening discussion of man's sinfulness and condemnation. Why? Because this is the situation to which justification by faith is the only answer. The depth of sin from which Christ saves us reveals just how good the good news is.' Unless one sees the terribleness of the wrath (1:18), he will not see the blessedness of the righteousness of God that is by faith (1:17).

    So Paul's point in this section is that all men are sinners and stand under the wrath and condemnation of God. This not only shows us the misery of the condition from which we are saved: it also shows us the impossibility of being right with God by means of works of law.

    The important element in this section is the LAW OF GOD. All men stand within the framework of God's law and must make some response to it. We cannot escape this decision. But within the framework of law, there are only two possible responses. One can keep the law, and thereby receive the blessings it promises; or one can break the law, and consequently pay the penalty it prescribes. Certainly any sane person would choose the former alternative and reject the latter. But herein lies the human predicament, as Paul shows so well in this section of Romans. When measured by God's law, ALL MEN are found to be law-breakers who stand under the penalty of the law. This means that NO ONE can choose the alternative of keeping the law and therefore being justified by works of law. Therefore those who trust in the law (i.e., in their own ability to keep the law) are either deceiving themselves with a false self-righteousness or leading themselves into a hopeless despair.

  I. The sinfulness of the Gentiles, or heathen (those under General Revelation only) 1:18-32; 2:14, 15.

A. General Revelation. 1:18-21; 2:14, 15. The special problem regarding the Gentiles or heathen is this: how do they know God's law? By what form of God's law can they be measured, found guilty and condemned? The answer is that they know the law of God as it is given through GENERAL revelation (i.e., the revelation which is given to everyone in general).
1. God's revelation of himself in and through nature. 1:18-21 (see Psalm 19:lff.; Acts 14:17) God reveals himself through the created universe, thereby placing on all men a duty to worship and serve him.
a. The FACT of such revelation, verses 19, 20. Ever since the time of creation, God has been revealing his eternal power and divinity through the created objects themselves.

b. The KNOWLEDGE which is received through such revelation, verses 19-21. Paul speaks of that which IS KNOWN and CLEARLY SEEN. He says unequivocally that men KNOW GOD through the created universe. This includes all men who have an awareness of created things, even the most primitive and isolated peoples on earth.

c. The DUTY which accompanies this knowledge and for which all are held responsible, verse 21. Paul condemns the Gentiles for failing to glorify God and give him thanks. This is the fundamental LAW which they are obligated to obey, and there is no excuse for ANYONE who breaks this law (verse 20).

2. God's revelation of his law within and from human nature. 2:14, 15. In this parenthesis to a discussion of the Jews, Paul indicates that the works of God's law are written upon the very hearts of all men. Though the Gentiles do not have the written law, in some way the law of God is built into the structure of human nature. Thus certain aspects of the law of God are "inwardly revealed" through "inward, natural promptings" (McGarvey). A general knowledge of what is right and what is wrong is somehow implanted in human nature. How? In virtue of the fact that man is in the IMAGE OF GOD. See Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:9, 10. The renewed image, and thus by implication the original image, consisted in a kind of KNOWLEDGE. Romans 2 suggests that even in the unrenewed man, vestiges of this (ethical) knowledge remain. All men know enough to be without excuse (Romans 1:20), enough to be condemned for their disobedience.
B. General Rebellion. 1:18, 21-32. The question now is, how have the Gentiles responded to this law? Have they obeyed it or rejected it? The answer is that they have rebelled against it. The rebellion takes two forms.
1. The UNGODLINESS of men, or the reversal of their proper relationship to God. 1:21-23, 25. A willfully darkened understanding has led to false speculations about God and the substitution of idols for the true and living God.

2. The UNRIGHTEOUSNESS of men, or the reversal of their proper relationships among themselves. 1:24, 26-32.

a. There is a causal relation between ungodliness and unrighteousness. The former naturally leads to the latter.

b. The emphasis is on the unnatural character of sin. Homosexualism is condemned. Lenski: "Let go of God, and the very bottom of filth will be reached. Even the most unnatural will be called quite natural. . . . The moment God is taken out of the control in men's life the stench of sex aberration is bound to arise. . . . Without God, sex runs wild."

c. Verse 32 shows the depth of depravity: even though they know that God's judgment on such things is death, they do them anyway and applaud others who do the same. (Paul does not mean to imply that all men everywhere have reached the depths of depravity described here.)

C. General Rejection. 1:24, 26, 28. Because of their abandonment of him, God's wrath (verse 18) and judgment are upon the Gentiles. He has abandoned them to the full consequences of their sinful desires; he leaves them to suffer the penalty of death.
1. "God gave them up" means more than mere permission yet less than causation. It is a deliberate decision of God to withdraw his restraint of sin in the lives of individuals.

2. "Reprobate" means rejected, worthless, unfit, unworthy of praise, not standing the test. When measured by God's law, which they DO know to some extent, the Gentiles do not stand the test. They are condemned sinners.

 II. The sinfulness of the Jews (those under special revelation also), 2:1-3:8. Besides their knowledge of God and his will through general revelation, the Jews ALSO had a specially revealed version of the law: the Old Testament. This raises a problem with which Paul now deals: did God give this law as a favor to the Jews, as a safe-guard against his wrath? Does the Jews' special position as possessors of this special revelation -- symbolized by circumcision -- mean that they will receive privileged treatment in the judgment? NO!
A. The Jew receives no special favors because of his privileged possession of the specially revealed law. Where God's law is concerned, no matter in what form it is possessed, the principles of judgment are the same for all, Jew and Gentile alike. Where law alone is the standard of judgment, all alike are responsible to it. 2:1-16. (But remember: where law alone is the standard of judgment, all alike are condemned by it. This is the very point. See 3:20. The possibility of being saved by works is hypothetical only. Here Paul is only stressing the EQUALITY of all before the law.)
1. God will not be partial to the Jews when it comes to judgment, as many Jews thought. God renders to each according to his works, whether he be Jew or Gentile. If you obey, you are saved; if not, you are condemned. That's just the way it is where LAW is "the name of the game," 2:1-11.

2. Why are no favors shown to the Jews? Because there is only ONE LAW, though revealed in different ways and in different degrees of clarity; and the required response to it is the same for Jew and Gentile: obedience. Possession of the law in a special written form is no substitute for obedience, 2:12-16.

B. The Jews are condemned by the very law they glory in, 2:17-29.
1. The Jews' pride in -- even TRUST in -- the Old Testament law, 2:17-20, 23.

2. The Jews' transgression of the law (and thus their condemnation by it), 2:21-24.

3. The standard of judgment under a system of law is whether one keeps or breaks that law, not whether one bears the symbol of the law (in this case, circumcision) or not. Once one commits himself to living by the law, his only justification is to KEEP the law. There is no substitute. 2:25-29.

C. Paul vindicates God, who both gave a special revelation and yet condemned those under it, 3:1-8.
1. Someone might object, What then is the advantage of being a Jew? Why has God taken so many pains with the Jews if they have no more privileges than the Gentiles? Isn't this a bit odd of God? No, says Paul. It is not that the Jews have no privileges at all. Above all else, they WERE given the spoken word of God, the very possession of which IS a definite advantage. 3:1, 2. (See 9:4ff. for further discussion of this question.)

2. The objecter continues, So the Jews have the spoken word of God. Big deal. It didn't do them any good. They didn't keep it. They were unfaithful, and God condemns them. Doesn't this mean that God has failed in his purpose or has somehow proved unfaithful? NO, says Paul. Even if all the Jews should reject God and he should condemn them all, he is still righteous. For every unrighteousness of man all the more by contrast shows the righteousness of God. 3:3, 4.

3. But if our sin thus enhances his glory, why should he punish us? Oh, what a wicked thought, says Paul. Away with it! Whoever thinks such blasphemous things deserves to be damned. 3:5-8.

III. The sinfulness of all men, 3:9-20.
A. As declared by the Old Testament itself, 3:9-18.
1. The Old Testament testifies to the universality of sinfulness, 3:9-12.

2. It also tells us something of the awful depth of human corruption and depravity, 3:13-18.

B. As declared by the very nature of the law, 3:19-20.
1. The law brings judgment upon all, 3:19.

2. The law justifies no one, 3:20a.

3. The law only shows us how sinful we are, 3:20b.

CONCLUSION. The purpose of this first main section has been to drive home to all of us the utter hopelessness and helplessness of our situation as breakers of the law. After all, there are only two possibilities open to us under law.

A. We can keep the law and escape the penalty. But this is impossible, for we are already sinners, lawbreakers.

B. Or we can break the law and pay the penalty. This is the dreadful alternative, but this is where we actually stand. When we depend on our own abilities and our own righteousness, we cannot help being condemned.

    Awareness of our desperate condition leads us to cry out to God, "Is there no alternative to your law? Deliver me from the curse of the law, or I die!" God answers, "For Me, there is no alternative, BUT for you there is. I, the Great Lawgiver, must abide by the terms of my own law. I must exact the penalty which my law demands. But at the same time, I offer you an alternative to my law: I offer you my grace, my pardon, an escape from the law and its penalty."

    How can God do both? The answer is in Romans 3:21-31.

Second Main Section: JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH. 3:21-5:21.

    The apostle has established the fact of the universal sinfulness and condemnation of men. All men are guilty; they stand in a wrong relationship to God's law. The fact of guilt raises the problem of justification. How can men be justified, or brought back into a right relation with God's law? Can a person perhaps work himself back into a proper relation to this law? Perhaps with a little extra effort, we can exert ourselves "above and beyond the call of duty" in the Christian life. Is this possible? NO! According to the parable of the unprofitable servant (Luke 17 :7ff.), EVERY good work we do is itself owed to God (required by his law) and therefore cannot be used to pay the debt for past sin. This is why WORKS CANNOT JUSTIFY.

    What possibilities are left, then? How can God justify us, or treat us as if we had never sinned? How can we escape the wrath and condemnation of God? Does any provision of the law allow a sinner to go unpunished? Can we remain within the framework of law and still be justified? NO! If we are to be justified, we must come outside the framework of law and into the framework of grace. This is the point of this section, as summed up in 3:28. We are justified by faith APART FROM works of law.

  I. God's way of justifying men is explained, 3:21-31.

A. We are justified by faith, 3:21-23. This is the gracious alternative to the unattainable justification by works.
1. Justification is a legal term and refers to the verdict pronounced by the judge. A person is justified if he is pronounced NOT GUILTY by the judge. Of course, we ARE guilty; and this is the wonder of grace: the judge declares us NOT GUILTY anyway, and treats us just as if we had never sinned.

2. No rule of law provides for such justification of sinners. It is "apart from law."

a. There is no article before "law." It is not just apart from the Old Testament law, but apart from law as such.

b. The preposition "apart from" carries an absolutely disjunctive force. Our justification has NOTHING to do with law. (This means that Luther's sola was not so much an addition to the text as it was an exposition of the text.)

3. We are justified by a righteousness which is FROM GOD. It is a God-given righteousness, not a self-originated one. "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and (Jesus') righteousness." See Philippians 3:9; also Romans 1:17; 10:3; Isaiah 61:10. Luther's comment on Romans 1:1 says, "For God does not want to save us by our own but by an extraneous righteousness which does not arise on our earth but comes from heaven. Therefore, we must come to know this righteousness which is utterly external and foreign to us. That is why our own personal righteousness must be uprooted."

4. "Justification by faith" means that this righteousness which justifies us is received by faith in Jesus Christ, instead of and apart from works we do or fail to do. The gift of righteousness is given not to the Pharisee who trusts in himself, but to the publican who puts all trust in God alone. Now, what is this faith that is able to appropriate the righteousness of God (something which all the works in the world cannot do)? It involves two things.

a. Assent: a judgment of the mind regarding the truth of a statement, a belief that something is true. Cf. John 11:27; Rom. 10:9; Heb. 11:3.

b. Trust: a decision of the will regarding surrender to a person. This is more than intellectual judgment; it involves commitment or surrender of yourself and what is in your power into the hands of someone else. It is an ATTITUDE of confidence and trust in another person. It is not just believing THAT; it is believing ON or believing IN. Cf. John 3:16; Acts 16:31; II Timothy 1:12.

5. This way of saving men is not a new way, 3:21. It was foretold and foreshadowed in the Old Testament, which in itself was only a preparation for the unveiling of grace.

6. This way of salvation is universally valid because it answers to a situation that is universally identical: all have sinned, all have transgressed the law of God. 3:22b-23.

B. We are justified by his blood, 3:24-26 (5:9). How is justification by faith possible, in light of the requirements of God's law? The law requires that its transgressors be punished. Does justification by faith mean that God has simply relaxed the law and its requirements? Has God sacrificed his JUSTICE for the sake of JUSTIFICATION? NO! He is both JUST and JUSTIFIER. But how can he be both? How can he both justify sinners, and uphold the sanctity of his own law which requires the punishment of sinners? The answer: only through Jesus Christ and his substitutionary death on Calvary. We are "justified by his blood," i.e., the death of Christ is the God-provided ground for justification by faith. Christ bore the penalty for our sins in our place. Thereby the law of God is upheld even though sinners are justified by their faith alone. Only because Christ has satisfied the requirements of the law for us can the law be removed as a means of justification. (Romans 10:4)
1. Our sin raises a problem that is "fit for God." Why cannot God just sweep our sin under the rug and say "I forgive you"? Why is the death of Christ necessary for our justification? The answer: because of the very nature of God.
a. God is JUST. The law of God is the expression of his own nature; therefore sin against the law is a contradiction of the very nature of God. His justice therefore demands that sin be punished. That which contradicts the holiness of God is consumed by it. "Our God is a consuming fire," Hebrews 12:29.

b. God is LOVE. If justice were all that needed to be satisfied, then hell would be sufficient. But the love of God seeks the salvation of his creatures.

c. Here is the problem: God is love, and love desires our salvation; but God is also just, and justice requires our damnation. How can God do both? How can he punish the sinner and save him at the same time? How can he be just and justifier?

2. God solves the problem raised by our sin with a solution that is "worthy of God." He justifies us by the blood of Christ. Jesus bore the penalty of the law, thus upholding the justice of the lawgiver; and he bore it FOR US, thus allowing God to justify us by faith alone. (Though justification is appropriated at baptism, it is appropriated only by faith. See Colossians 2:12.)
a. Christ is our redemption, 3:24. He paid the debt of eternal punishment which we owed because of our sin.

b. Christ is our propitiation, 3:25. Propitiation is "the turning away of wrath by an offering." Christ satisfied the wrath of God by taking the penalty of sin upon himself. He bore the full force of God's wrath against sin.

"Many hands were raised to wound him;
    None were interposed to save.
But the deepest stroke that pierced him
    Was the stroke that justice gave."

c. Christ is our substitute. He satisfied the wrath of God not for his own sins, but for ours. To say that Christ bore our sins means that he bore the punishment for them. See I Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53;Galatians 3:13; II Corinthians 5:21. Christian friend, your sins have already been punished in Christ. This is how God can look at you, a sinner, and say "I forgive you" and still be just.

3. Let us not forget that this solution to the problem of sin is provided by God himself. "God set him forth," says Paul. The atonement is the gracious provision of the wisdom and love of God.
C. We are "justified freely by his grace." 3:24.
1. Our justification was purchased at infinite cost to God, i.e., the blood of the blameless lamb. Cf. Acts 20:28; I Peter 1:l8ff.

2. But justification is free to us. It is a matter of grace, not law.

a. We do not earn it or deserve it. It is a gift, a handout. God's love, not our works, solved the problem of sin. The righteousness which justifies us is no more our own than the sins which Christ took were his own: II Corinthians 5:21.

b. Since it is free, we can do nothing at all in payment for it. Nothing we do is a payment for our forgiveness. T6 think so would be to doubt the efficacy of Christ's blood! Implications:

- The believer has a marvelous freedom from fear and concern regarding his salvation. There is no price tag on salvation; i.e., our salvation does not depend on our ability to perform a certain amount of good works. Here is the source of great joy and relief and peace. This is true Christian freedom.

- We learn to see our works, our Christian life, our conIformity to the law, in a different light. Our obedience is not an effort to earn something we do not have as yet, but rather is an expression of thanksgiving for something already ours as a free gift.

3. "Justified by grace" and "justified by faith" are compatible, because faith is a gracious condition and not a meritorious work. See Romans 4:16; Ephesians 2:8-10.
D. Implications of the doctrine of justification by faith, 3:27-31.
1. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to boast, 3:27.

2. We are not justified by a combination of faith and works of law, 3:28. Mercy and merit do not mix.

3. This one way of justification applies to Jew and Gentile alike, 3:29, 30.

4. This way of justification is not destructive to the law, but in fact allows the law to do its proper work, 3:31. Here Paul is anticipating the criticism that if we are justified by faith, we can just ignore the law and live as we please. See 6:lff. How does this doctrine of justification by faith establish the law?

a. It honors the Christ who fulfilled the law.

b. It frees the law from a burden it was not intended or able to bear: that of justifying men. It was intended to show us that salvation is not of ourselves. When we believe in Christ, we are therefore acknowledging that the law has done its work.

c. Only the believer who has been regenerated is enabled truly to keep the law as a rule of life (not as a means of justification).

 II. Old Testament confirmation of the principle that justification is by faith and not by works of law, 4:1-25.
A. The outstanding proof and example of this principle: Abraham, 4:1-8. The Scriptures clearly say (Genesis 15:6) that he was justified by faith and not by works of law. The Psalms confirm this principle (Psalm 32:1-2).

B. Those who imitate Abraham's FAITH are members of his family and recipients of God's promised blessings, 4:9-17.

1. Abraham's faith, not his circumcision, is all that mattered as far as his justification was concerned. He is likewise the father of all who BELIEVE, whether they are circumcised or not, 4:9-12.

2. Abraham was not justified because of his relationship to any law, but because he believed in God and his promises, 4:13-17. Likewise the true descendants of Abraham and the sure heirs of the promises of grace are those who trust in the gracious God and not works of law.

C. The character of Abraham's faith: he gave God the glory, and rested completely on God's faithfulness and power to fulfill his promises, even if this meant doing the impossible, even to the point of resurrection from the dead. 4:17-22. See Hebrews 6:l3ff. His faith was focused upon "God, who giveth life to the dead." See Hebrews 11:11-19. For the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham, see Galatians 3; Acts 13: 28ff.

D. Those who believe like Abraham will be justified like Abraham, 4:23-25. We must give God the glory, and be absolutely confident that God can and will keep his promises to us.

1. God's promises to us involve the resurrection of our dead souls (Ephesians 2:1-5) and the resurrection of our dead bodies (Romans 8:10-11). The blessings of this life depend on the former, of the next life on the latter.

2. How do we know that God CAN and WILL keep these promises? What is the basis for our faith? The RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST. See Ephesians 1:19, 20.

3. The focus of our faith is "God, who giveth life to the dead." See Romans 4:24; 10:9; II Corinthians 1:9; 1 Peter 1:21; Colossians 2:12.

4. When is this faith exercised?

a. At baptism. Colossians 2:12.

b. Throughout life. Ephesians 1:13, 14; Romans 8:10, 11; I Peter 1:3-5; II Corinthians 5:lff.; Philippians 3:10.

E. Thus, after the pattern of Abraham, the faith that justifies us is a faith and confidence in the ability of God to keep his promises, and not in our own ability to keep the law. The former gives glory to God; the latter gives the glory to ourselves.
III. The blessed results of justification by faith, 5:1-11. The results? Nothing less than "blessed assurance," "the hope of glory." Paul's point here is that justification by faith is a firm ground for confident hope, because it assures us that the love of God which provided the unspeakable gift for us WHILE WE WERE HIS ENEMIES will not fail us NOW THAT WE ARE HIS FRIENDS.
A. Justification, which is a change in our relationship to God (from wrath to peace), is a firm basis for hope (confident expectation) of eternal life. 5:1, 2.

B. Even misfortunes are sources of hope and are not signs of God's disfavor, 5:3, 4.

C. How justification (the change in our relationship to God) gives a basis for confident hope, 5:5-10.

1. The Holy Spirit makes us conscious of the love of God, 5:5.

2. God showed this unqualified love toward us while we were yet his unreconciled, sinful, helpless enemies, 5:6-8.

3. If God would do that for us while we were his enemies, we can have every confidence that he will do even more for us now that we are justified and reconciled, 5:9, 10. When God first showed his love to us, we were his enemies. But now we are reconciled to him. Will not God save those at peace with him, if he went to the extremity of dying for his enemies? Will not his love suffice to make the less radical change which remains? Can God's love for his friends be less than his love for his enemies? If the love of God could span the vast chasm between wrath and grace (wherein we now stand), we are sure that this same love can span the relatively smaller chasm between grace and glory. And just as surely as we did not span the first chasm ourselves by any works of our own, neither will the second be spanned by our works. God spans them both by his grace, and we cling to this grace by our faith.

D. We can only rejoice and plaise God, 5:11. Our hope can be as strong and as unqualified as God's love. To doubt our salvation is to doubt the love of God.
 IV. The triumph of grace over sin, 5:12-21. The thought of this passage is summed up in this statement by A. I. Hobbs: "What, without our will or consent, we lost in the first Adam, we have regained or shall regain in the second Adam, without our will or consent." The purpose of God is not thwarted by sin. Christus Victor!


    In Romans 1-5 Paul has taught the doctrine of justification by faith, not by works of law. In the next three chapters he shows how this also involves sanctification or holiness of life. Here he says that the person who is justified by faith is also under obligation to live for Jesus, and he shows how such a life is possible through the Holy Spirit.

  I. Paul answers objections to the doctrine of justification by faith, 6:1 - 7:25. The objections are to the effect that if we are not under law but under grace, then we are under no obligation to obey God. Wrong, says Paul. We are obligated to live a holy life.

A. The first objection, 6:1-14
1. It would seem that the nature of grace encourages us to sin, 6:1. (See 5:20, 21.)

2. The answer: whoever says this doesn't know what it means to be united with Christ. Union with Christ, initiated in baptism, means union with his death and resurrection. As Christ died to sin and rose to a new life, so do we when we are baptized into him, 6:2-11.

3. Therefore to continue in sin is a moral contradition which we must strive to avoid, 6:12-14.

B. The second objection, 6:15 - 7:6
1. If we are not under law, then we may sin as we please, 6:15.

2. The answer: whoever says this doesn't understand what it means to be free from the law. Freedom from law is not freedom from obedience. We are still servants, but we have a new master whom we must serve with even greater devotion, 6:16-23.

3. Being released from the law, we obey our new master from an inward compulsion (i.e., loving gratitude) and not from the outward necessity of the letter of the law, 7:1-6.

C. The third objection, 7:7-25.
1. The law must be sinful, then, 7 :7a.

2. On the contrary, the law is good, and I am sinful. The law simply reveals my sinfulness, 7:7b-13.

3. The Christian life is a continual struggle between the still-present sinful desires of the flesh and the inward desire to obey God's holy law. This inner conflict will persist until the day of final deliverance from this present body, 7:14-25.

 II. Life in the Spirit, 8:1-30. We are under obligation to live a holy life, but it seems to be a losing battle. How can we overcome ourselves and conform to God's will? We do so, progressively, through the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit within us. Despite the inner contradictions in this life, if the Spirit dwells in us now, we still have confident hope of eternal life.
A. The indwelling Spirit transforms us from death to life, 8:1-13.
1. The Spirit re-orients us away from ourselves and toward God, effecting both the resurrection of our dead souls (v. 10) and the resurrection of our dead bodies (v.11), 8:1-11.

2. We must therefore yield to the purifying and life-giving power of the Spirit, 8:12, 13.

B. The Spirit confirms our adoption as children of God, 8:14-30.
1. Those led by God's Spirit are sons and heirs of God, 8:14-17.

2. Amid present suffering, and in possession of the "first instailment" of our inheritance (v.23; see Ephesians 1: 13-14), we wait patiently and confidently for our full salvation, 8:18-25.

3. Meanwhile the Spirit helps us in times of distress, 8:26-27.

4. Knowledge of God's eternal and unchangeable purpose to gather together a Christ-like family gives us confidence in any situation, 8:28-30.

III. The triumphant conclusion to the doctrine of justification by faith: what God has done for us in Christ because of his love gives us (believers) joyful assurance of salvation, 8:31-39. (See 5:11)

(This ends the systematic statement of the gospel according to Paul. Chapters 9-11 form another unit [a return to the question in 3:1], and chapters 12-16 form a final unit giving some specific instructions concerning holy living.)

Scanned and Proofread:  Michael Riggs