Commit adultery

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22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? If you do these, the law will condemn you as an offender. The weight of the law descends on you and you suffer the result. The enforcers penalize you and you suffer.

23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? When you boast about the importance of the law, and then break it yourself, you do God a double disservice. He has a right to be twice as angry with you, not half as angry.

24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. It says do not blaspheme, and a Jew would be careful not to offend in this matter, and yet the whole nation is called to account. Psalm 51:4 records these words; “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” It is a horror to be accused by God of such a thing, but the eyes of the world are on them, and these people want to see the God of Israel. Break the law and you blaspheme God.

25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. When you break the law you are as the uncircumcised to God. Being uncircumcised is bad enough, being made one is something else. Circumcised to connect to the faith of Abraham. Described in the law, but related to faith. When we betray the law we show what we believe. It is clear we believe it does not matter.

26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? Gentiles believe it does matter. That is a reasonable argument. If you break the law you become like them, if they keep the law they become like you. It comes down to what we believe.

27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? You are busy judging Gentiles because they are uncircumcised, but when they are counted as circumcised, they can judge you.

28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh. This was all news to the Jew, who preferred not to look at things after the spirit of the law, but rather according to the letter of the law.

29 But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God. You keep the law, and men see what you do and applaud. If you walk in the spirit of the law God is the one who sees this and he applauds this person. Who are you trying to please, men or God? The person walking in the spirit believes God sees and knows. The person pleasing men, imagines God does not see and know.

The Gentiles

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12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law. It was the same law that applied whether people were under that law or not. If we sin, we die. Gentiles sinned because they did not know godliness. Jews knew about it, but did not do it. Both die because of sin. We cannot compare yourself with those who know not the truth, and imagine we are righteous. If we are aware of the truth and sinned against that, then condemned according to it.

13 (For not the hearers of the law [are] just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. Knowing what to do and not doing it is as if we did not know it. Those who do what the law says, are the only ones who can be justified according to that law. Note, the parenthesis begins at the first word of this verse and extends to the last word of verse 15.

14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves. In the same way Gentiles who do what the law says, even though not taught them as the law, and not condemned by the law, because they did godly things.

15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and [their] thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.) They have a conscience, they think about what is right and wrong. They do what they believe is godly, and God accepts them.

16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. Why suppose automatic condemnation? They will be judged according to Christ’s gospel. Consider for a moment the argument being put by the Jews.

17 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God. The argument begins with a claim to be the chosen people of God. It moves to imply they do what God wants because they keep the Law of Moses.

18 And knowest [his] will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law. Knowing what God wants gives a huge advantage to the Jew. Knowing is not the end of the story. We act on what we believe. The Jews does what he can to keep the commandments and teach others to do the same.

19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness. Jews do not walk in the dark. We can see what is right and what is wrong, and avoid things that cause people to fail. They know enough to lead others around obstacles. They have a head start on everyone.

20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. If you do not know where you are going you will make mistakes others avoid. Babes need teaching or they will get it wrong as well. They can teach people who do not know because they have the law.

21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Do you imagine as an instructor of those who do not know anything, or who cannot work it out for themselves for whatever reason, that you are free from doing what it says? When it says, do not take what is not yours, or do not lust after your neighbor’s goods or his wife, or do not worship idols, and you do these things, are you not guilty of breaking the law. It was sport to take a carved image from the open doors of an idols temple and ignore it. But you have broken the law.

Romans 2

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1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. Everyone that takes the time to read this will say; God did what he did to these men because they deserved it. Our judgment is as God’s judgment, we condemn them. How can Paul say we condemn ourselves because we do the same?

2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. We accept that what God did in giving them over to a reprobate mind was just, according to all we should expect of him. But the question remains, in what way did he give them over?

3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? The man that judges them that do such things would not admit to doing the same. He sees guilt as a matter of degree. Their behavior is way beyond the bounds of reasonableness, where my offenses meet society standards.

4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? Or are you one of those who just does not realize the distance you are away from the righteousness of God.

5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. Because of your imagined righteousness, and refusal to repent, and an inclination to compare yourself with those given over to a corrupt mind, you are storing up wrath for the day of judgment.

6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds. God will deal with men on an individual level. It will not be a class action, where one may consider themselves relatively safe.

7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life. Those who despite the distractions, the apparent ineffectiveness, the deliberate obstruction of those who ought to help, patiently do what they know they should while loving righteousness, and hating iniquity and looking forward the kingdom of God, eternal life. Notice it does not say: to those who are righteous, eternal life. Nor does it say: to those who keep the commandments, eternal life

8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath. Those who want to argue about what is right and what is not, who do not do what specifically directed to do, but do the opposite. Indignation and wrath,

9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile. The Jews have an advantage in that the gospel was first to them, but the down side is the judgment comes to them first also.

10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile. It is not sufficient to condemn sin one must work good. What we do confirms what we believe. Anyone can do it, regardless of ethnic background or national connections. The Jew struggled with this, for they thought they were superior to other ethnic groups, having practiced godly matters over a long period. Gentiles had no experience of godly behavior. With all their experience, Jews were not godlier. God will accept godly people, whoever they are.

11 For there is no respect of persons with God. God made all men. He divided people by language, and at Babel and men grew apart. Israel’s job was to teach godliness to these disparate groups. They decided to imply they were better than others claiming righteousness. Their righteousness was their version of what they wanted God to be. It was not righteousness as God is righteous. Jesus was the one to show this. What men saw in Jesus was godliness in truth. God welcomed any person who wanted that from all nations of our world. He did not show respect to their background.

Changed the glory

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23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. The image they preferred was more like themselves. If it was corruptible as they were, they were less beholden to it. The last thing they wanted was to belong to one who was much greater than they were. They embraced a lie, for this suited them.

24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves. A feature of the argument is this statement that “God gave them up”. Those who read the Genesis record have no difficulty accepting God’s view of these men, but for Paul to say God gave them up to the uncleanness, suggests that had he not done that, they might not have gone as far as they did.

25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. They deserved what they got. They changed the truth into a lie and worshiped the created thing, rather than the one that created.

26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature. Because they did this, God gave them up unto vile affections. And when they were given up even their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature. What came first, God giving them up, or the changed behavior. Vile affections, covers the behavior described.

27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. They received a fitting reward. At what stage did God give them up, before or after they displayed these vile affections. It seems to be before, which raises the question, would not God in someway be responsible for their later behavior.

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient. God gave them over to a reprobate mind means they developed this mind by themselves, and God allowed them to experience the results of doing that. Did God effect their mind in someway so they did things contrary to his wishes? This is not the proper question. God does not do this. They chose the path, and God left them with it. Their experience told them it was not convenient, for the social fabric broke down and behavior became intolerable.

29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers. Gangsters do not tolerate behavior like this. They have a moral code more concerned with us and them, than malicious evil. This is inconvenient to everyone. Nobody wants to live in a world where this is normal. Individuals employ some of it some of the time, but all ashamed when exposed for it. Many do not realize they chose this. When everyone does it all the time, even they balk.

30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents. Many claim they do not hate God. They just do not have anything to do with him, unless in serious pain. God knows what they mean, and it amounts to saying they have no need of him. Controls are inconvenient to them, and freedom is doing what you want to do at the time.

31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful. Believers take this to be conduct they never employ. They amount to everything a godly person should never be. If we quiz most people, they would say it is wrong but would allow much of it, as long as it does not affect them. That is the world they chose, as if they have no choice.

32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. God made it clear from the outset that behavior like this would result in death. The death sentence did not represent a deterrent to these. They did these themselves knowing the outcomes, and encouraged others to do the same.

I thank my God

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8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. Their faith was remarkable, and everywhere Paul went he mentioned it.

9 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. If they asked, God would tell them how constantly he mentions them in his prayers.

10 Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established. He had the opportunity of assessing firsthand the needs of many ecclesia’s and conferring the spiritual gifts they needed most. In Corinth he says he gave them more than any others.

12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Having done this, he would feel more comfortable, there being a link of faith between them.

13 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. They might feel neglected as if he thought other areas more fruitful, and wanted to reassure them. Circumstances prevented him, but he was eager to go.

14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. The most unlikely people determined what he did. He had little control, and he had them to thank for what happened.

15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. If my preferences apply, I am ready to go to Rome.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. I am not reluctant to preach the gospel to anyone, because it is the power of God to anyone who has faith. The message is to the Jew first, but does not exclude the Greek.

The gospel reveals the righteousness of God from faith to faith. Some might expect it was from law to faith but it was never so. From the beginning it was always faith.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. It is wrong to assume God’s wrath was only against Israel. It was a message intended for all men.

19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed [it] unto them. While specific instruction through the law directed to Israel, there was always the overriding witness built into creation intended for all to see. It involved faith, or believing in a creator.

20 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. What we cannot see about God, that is, his eternal power and Godhead, his power to create and his right to rule, clearly seen by the things he made. “There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their word to the end of the world ” Ps 19:3-4

21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Genesis records the response of men to the call of the truth. God included them until out of frustration he chose a nation, and a law, as a means to educate men.

22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. If we say we are wise and get it wrong, we are not wise at all. The conclusions they drew were shameful. They were so wrong it meant they were fools. It makes no logical sense.

Romans 1

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A letter is always about a single argument. Identify why Paul wrote the letter and we are well on the way to answering all questions. We expect to understand what Paul wanted to express to the Roman believers for it has direct application to them, as well as information to later generations. What we discover is this subject has human nature aspects to it, and therefore has a message for everyone in every age.

1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called [to be] an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God. Paul tells them I am an apostle sent to teach the gospel of God. There is only one who can send a person on such a mission, and that is God. That is the task given, and it is that task I intend to do. That may sound abrupt but it captures the spirit of this letter. There was an issue, and Paul needed to lay down some rules of engagement, for this is to be a serious debate.

2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the Holy Scriptures.) To make this point, even in parenthesis, suggests they questioned his role. God promised someone would do what I must do.

3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh. He was God’s son made of the seed of David according to the flesh. Jesus prepared for his role and scripture identified him clearly.

4 And declared [to be] the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. While son of David and declared to be the son of God by three witnesses:

  1. with power,
  2. according to the spirit of holiness,
  3. by the resurrection from the dead:

The power was the Holy Spirit of God without measure by which he did the many miracles. The spirit of holiness was his manner of life where none could accuse him of sin and who held fast his integrity even though wicked men took away his life. The resurrection, witnessed by many, gave the final and most compelling witness.

5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name. Paul needed to answer the questions people had about this new sect but also give an answer the believers could use when they are asked to account for their belief. We have received grace and sent to all nations for the obedience of faith of the people.

6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ. A criticism of Christianity in the mind of many was; it is too focused on a small center, and ignores existing religious groups. But then this is the argument. Men invented many religions, but there is only one that is true. Those in Rome invited to join the one that is true.  

     7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called [to be] saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. This group in the eyes of God is special. It is difficult to accept this is true when they did nothing to deserve being special. However, they needed to accept it is true, because they need to settle into their new status.

Thou art my people

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16 And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou [art] my people. Reference to the heavens and earth just give the scale of the measures God took to make everything happen. What God has done is beyond our ability to see. To measure it against our righteousness, and say it was all because of that, is perverse.

17 Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, [and] wrung [them] out. Everyone knows what has happened to Jerusalem and the land. So whatever happens is part of the story. What should the story say? Take it apart and analyze it, and you will find God was defending his name against defaming by the people occupying the land. He was defending the truth.

18 [There is] none to guide her among all the sons [whom] she hath brought forth; neither [is there any] that taketh her by the hand of all the sons [that] she hath brought up. So the question is: should Israel uphold her national identity so she can boast that God will always preserve her for her virtue. Or should God take her away and declare to the world their view of God is faulty. The answer is; God should destroy the nation. The world would agree, and none would have pity. How could God do anything else?

Whatever God does, the Jew is not going to be happy. But equally, he is not going to send the wrong signal to everyone else.

19 These two [things] are come unto thee; who shall be sorry for thee? desolation, and destruction, and the famine, and the sword: by whom shall I comfort thee? The faithful warned to flee Jerusalem when the destruction came, and they did. But the sons of Israel fought the Roman Legions and slain, culminating in the suicide of nine hundred at Masada. They need to read Romans and get the issue clear. We cannot hold on to a lie.

20 Thy sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, as a wild bull in a net: they are full of the fury of the LORD, the rebuke of thy God. Drunk with their own importance, they had no idea of the eternal purpose of God. But the message of Romans is; God has not abandoned his people. And Gentiles need to recognize, they enjoy the benefit through Israel’s loss.

21 Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine. And to further declare his righteousness, mention is made of Israel’s eventual delivery and destroying of their enemies. Paul says; and all Israel shall be saved. How righteous is that? Can any say they deserve it? Israel has suffered much in the period of their diaspora, but they will be a nation again, they will witness the truth of their God. He will destroy the enemy, and deliver them again. At some point the time to favor Zion will come, and their fortunes will turn.

22 Thus saith thy Lord the LORD, and thy God [that] pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, [even] the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again: If it is true that Israel are guilty, it is true also that her oppressors are guilty as well. And so the guilt of the world exposed, and the way of God’s delivery applauded. The prophets say the delivery will be spectacular.

23 But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over. It is clear Israel will accept the arrangements of God in the end. They will see his way and applaud with the rest of the world, the rightness of God.

In the introduction we applied the words of verse 23 to those who disrupted the true believers, those Jewish law keepers. We have just expounded that verse saying the persecutors of the Jewish nation are the one spoken about. Both of these opposed God and his people, and both will receive the dregs of the cup of God’s fury.

Comforteth

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12 I, [even] I, [am] he that comforteth you: who [art] thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man [that] shall die, and of the son of man [which] shall be made [as] grass. How can a man turn the eternal plan of God upside down using forceful words? We forget who it is that you are dealing with. Their argument may be difficult to answer, but answer it you must, and you will do this by going back to the root of the matter, to Israel’s beginnings. Not delivered because of righteousness, but because God was gracious to them. Just ask yourself where all the oppressors are, and you will answer your own question.

The law keepers were just angry men. They resented keeping the law, and were not going to let people get away without keeping it.

13 And forgettest the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where [is] the fury of the oppressor? The story is long in the telling, but so is the book of Romans, but there is no denying this is the issue, this is the thrust of the argument. The delivered need to keep in mind the basis of their delivery. They focus on their plight, and fail to see they have all they need to survive the ordeal, but the gates open, and there is no longer the need for despair. A little thought and they would understand how much better-off they were.

14 The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail. When you are in that position there is only one thing on your mind, delivery. And the delivery has nothing to do with the virtue of the redeemed, but the eternal plan of the deliverer. If you were to ask what the letter to the Romans is about, you will find it is about the righteousness of God. It shows how God has fulfilled, and will fulfill, what he said about the Gentiles and Israel. How perverse, to turn all these events around so they declare the righteousness of the delivered. Is there any wonder God balks at the way they look at it? If they were honest they would realize the law condemned them all.

15 But I [am] the LORD thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The LORD of hosts [is] his name. We can take this to be a description of the Red Sea crossing. These are momentous events that carry the idea of delivery. God calls on the Jew to wake up. There were many teachers in Israel at the time, but not one of them could explain to the people the way of the God they worshiped. They had suffered because of their unfaithfulness, as the scripture clearly states, and they now imagine deliverance is because they are righteous. How frail and sad.