Romans Chapter One
I. Content of the Chapter
The Theme ---- the Gospel of God
A. The messenger of the gospel of God ---- Paul, the called apostle, separated to God's glad tidings (v.1);
B. The content of the gospel of God ---- our Lord Jesus whom God had before promised in the holy scriptures (v,2-4);
C. The object of the gospel of God ---- all the nations (v.5, 14);
D. The fellowship of the gospel of God ---- greetings, intercession and fellowship (v.5-12);
E. The burden of the gospel of God ---- preach with one’s whole heart in the position of a debtor (v.13-15);
F. The power of the gospel of God ---- to save everyone that believes (v.16-17);
G. The necessity of the gospel of God ---- all the world is judged by God
1. Because of the ungodliness of the world before God ---- neither seek God nor glorify God, but worship idols (v.18-25);
2. Because of the unrighteousness of the world toward God and men ---- the vile lusts and the reprobate mind to practice evil things (v.26-32);
II. Verse by Verse commentary
Rom. 1:1 “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God,”
YLT: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, a called apostle, having been separated to the good news of God --”
Meaning of Words: “bondservant”: salve, bondman; “Paul”: minuteness; “separate to”: to set off by boundary, appoint; “gospel”: good news, the glad tidings;
The Background: “a bondservant of Jesus Christ”, the bondservant in the original means “slave”, which has two kinds of background:
1) The opposite of the word “slave” is “master”, which in Greek means that one has the absolute ownership of a certain man or thing. Therefore, Paul called himself “the bondservant of Jesus Christ”, indicating that he was no longer of himself, but of Jesus Christ completely.
2) In the Old Testament, if one was called “a bondservant of Jehovah”, it meant that he was different from the common people (Jos. 1:2; 24:29). Therefore, one would count it an honor if he could call himself “the servant of Jehovah”. Therefore, Paul in his mind also had two points of understanding toward his ministry ---- on one hand, he responded to the love of Christ who gave Himself. And on the other hand, he deeply took it as an honor that he could serve this Lord of lords.
Literal Meaning: “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ”, “bondservant” in the original means slave who has sold himself and lost his liberty of life. “Paul” was firstly called Saul (Acts 7:58-60; 8:3; 9:1) and was called Paul after being saved. There are several meanings of this verse:
1) To be the servant of the Lord is neither voluntary, nor of hired, but is purchased by the Lord.’
2) The servant of the Lord has neither his own right or liberty nor his own choice.
3) The servant of the Lord will be of the Lord all his life and shall live according to the Lord’s will.
4) The Lord will be responsible for the life and works of His servants by provision, revelation and guidance.
“Called to be an apostle”, “called” means “being called by God”; “apostle” refers to “those who are sent out”;
“Separated to the gospel of God”, “the gospel of God” shows the nature of the gospel, which is of God, by God and unto God. The gospel is generated by the love of God and be perfected by the power of God so that the righteousness of God shall be manifested and thanks be given unto God.
This verse unveils three conditions of Paul:
1) Status ---- the bondservant of Jesus Christ;
2) Ministry ---- called to be an apostle;
3) Work ---- to preach the gospel of God;
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Only those who are bought with the precious price of the Lord’s blood (1Cor. 6:20) have the right of preaching the gospel. We are all those who are bought by His precious blood, and we certainly have the obligation to preach the gospel everywhere at any time and bear witness of the Lord.
2) We have no reason of not preaching the gospel, for it is woe to us if we should not announce the glad tidings (1Cor. 9:16).
3) The works of the servant is “service” and the way of him is “obedience”. He who preaches the gospel should humble himself without regard for face and have made himself bondman to all (1Cor. 9:19).
4) The more we draw near to the Lord, the more will we remain before the Lord and the more will we desire to serve others.
5) The reason for one who becomes a vessel of being sent to preach the gospel is the calling of the Lord beforehand, which means that the burden is neither of men nor through man (Gal. 1:1), but purely of God Himself, who is the originator of everything.
6) Any true servant of the Lord is of his “own will”, but of the Lord’s calling of coming to serve Him. It is not the servants that choose the Lord, but the Lord that choose them (John 15:16).
7) When we come to serve the Lord, what we are thinking shall not be what kind of men we want to become, but what kind of men God desires of us.
8) We Christians are also “called” and “separated” by God ---- we are separated from the world to undertake the work of preaching the gospel.
9) Paul became firstly the bondservant of Jesus Christ and then was called to be an apostle. A Christian should be firstly one who serves the Lord humbly and faithfully. Then the Lord will entrust more important mission to him.
10) We shall not preach the gospel occasionally, for God set us apart from our mother's wombs (Gal. 1:15) so that our life shall be devoted to the divine ministry of preaching the gospel. Therefore, preaching the gospel is our regular occupation, not side occupation. All that we do shall be for the purpose of the gospel so that we may be fellow-partaker thereof with others (1Cor. 9:23).
Rom. 1:2 “which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures,”
YLT: “which He announced before through His prophets in holy writings --”
Literal Meaning: “promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures”, “His prophets” referred to those prophets who prophesied the Lord Christ would come in the Old Testament, and they did not refer to the authors of the Books of the Prophets only, for the whole Old Testament prophesied the Lord Jesus (see Luke 24:27, 44). “The Holy Scriptures” here refers to the scriptures of the Old Testament. “Promise” means that God ensures that everything in the scriptures shall be fulfilled in His faithfulness.
This verse indicates that the gospel is not brought forth occasionally by God, but was early planed by Him in the past eternity and was revealed to us by the prophets in the times of the Old Testament (see Gen. 3:15; 22:18; Gal. 3:16; 2Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:2).
This verse points out three things concerning Jesus Christ:
1) He is whom God prophesied. All that of Him has fulfilled the prophecy of God, so Christ is true.
2) He is whom God promised. Therefore, the Savior is gifted by God, not imagined by men.
3) He is whom God revealed. Therefore, the gospel is not produced by men’s thoughts, but out of God’s revelation.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The gospel is neither an occasional measure nor sudden fancy, but a plan of God’s love before the foundation of the world. Therefore, the effect of the gospel shall be abiding for ever.
2) The Scriptures is the words of God preached by the prophets. If we want to know the will of God, we shall read and search the Bible diligently.
3) All the promises of God will be fulfilled at the appointed time. We should appropriate His promises by faith and that will become our portion.
Rom. 1:3 “concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh,”
YLT: “concerning His Son, (who is come of the seed of David according to the flesh,”
Literal Meaning: “concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord”, it states that the gospel is about the Son of God. This gospel is neither how to reform the society, nor how to bring benefits to the people nor other matters, but merely relates to the Son of God, who is the subject, center and essential content of the gospel. “His Son” speaks of His nature ---- He has the divine life and character of God and is the manifestation of the invisible God. “Our Lord” emphasizes His position, who exists over all and receive the worship of all those who are of Him. “Jesus” shows His status of a person ---- the Nazarene Jesus who was incarnated and humbled Himself and took his place in likeness of men. “Christ” points out His ministry, and He is the “Messiah”, who is anointed by God and sent by God to come to keep the will of God and fulfill His mission.
“Who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh”, according to the flesh, He was born by Mary, the seed of David (see Luke 3:23-31, Heli was Mary’s father), proving that He was “the son of man”, who had the life and disposition of man. Therefore, he had the right to stand on the position of man to be judged by God and be crucified on the cross. “Who was born of the seed of David”, it carries the meaning of inheriting the throne of David to be king. Jesus Christ will reign among the people of God.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The gospel in the Old Testament was the promise of God (v.2), and in the New Testament is Jesus Christ.
2) The “gospel” that we normally understand is only men’s being saved. Actually, it is just a part of the gospel. What the gospel really involves is all the grace of God to men in His Son, for the gospel is the Son of God. Christ Himself is the gospel ---- who is the subject as well as the content of the gospel.
3) The Lord Jesus was incarnated and took his place in likeness of men so as to make us like Him.
Rom. 1:4 “and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”
YLT: “who is marked out Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of sanctification, by the rising again from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord;”
Meaning of Words: “holiness”: sacredness; “declare”: to mark out, bound ("horizon"), appoint, decree, specify;
Literal Meaning: “according to the Spirit of holiness”, Jesus Christ has both humanity (see v.3) and deity. According to the flesh, he had truly been born on the earth to be a man. According to the inner nature, since Mary was found to be with child of Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18), He had the spirit of holiness. “Holiness” is opposite to the word “commonness”, indicating that He was different from men in the world. In fact, He is God who came to be a man, and therefore He is holy, harmless and undefiled (Heb. 7:26). He had accomplished the redemption for us, “the innocent for the sinful, the just for the unjust” would be fulfilled (1Pet. 3:18), thus bearing and getting rid of the sins of men before God (1Pet. 2:24; John 1:29).
“Declared to be the Son of God with
power…by the resurrection from the dead”, the death reigns in men by sins
(1Cor. 15:55-56). No one can come out of the power of death once he has entered
in, for all have sinned (
The third and fourth verses suggest the being of the “three Persons” of God professed by the Christianity. God the Father sent the Son to the world to be the seed of David, and the Spirit partakes in the ministry of the resurrection of the Son of God from the dead.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Jesus Christ is the “Son of man” (v.3), referring to His humility. He is also the “Son of God”, referring to His glory. Such a full and perfect Christ, possessing both divinity and humanity, is “the gospel of God” as well as the totality of the blessedness of God given to men.
2) Since Jesus Christ whom the gospel relates to is both the Son of man as well as the Son of God, He can grant perfect salvation to men. Therefore, this gospel is a perfect gospel.
3) We were dead in trespasses and sins, and God has quickened us with the Christ (Eph. 2:1, 5) and makes us the sons of God by rebirth.
4) If Jesus had not been raised from the dead, He was merely one among all those great men. However, He rose again and lives forever and enables us to experience the true and living Lord. This is the distinction of Him from all the founders of all the religions.
5) The Lord Jesus is the Son of God and has the life and nature of God. All those who believe Him and are jointed to Him will have the divine life (1John 5:12) and be partakers of divine nature (2Pet. 1:4).
Rom. 1:5 “Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name,”
YLT: “through whom we did receive grace and apostleship, for obedience of faith among all the nations, in behalf of his name;”
Meaning of Words: “obedience”: submission;
The Background: the words “grace” and “rejoice” share the same etymon, whose primitive meaning is that one matter brings pleasant feeling to men, such as beauty. Later it gradually evolved into the meaning of “favor” and had no longer relation with beautiful feeling.
Literal Meaning: “we have received grace”, “grace” indicates that it is a gift that one obtains without paying any cost and is actually unworthy of receiving it. Believers are saved by receiving grace. That believers are called to preach the gospel is more due to the special grace, which is grace upon grace (John 1:16).
“And apostleship”, it shows that preaching the gospel is a mission bestowed and entrusted by God. Even if it is not of our own will, we are entrusted with the administration (1Cor. 9:17). However, thanks the Lord! If we do this voluntarily, we will not only have rewards in the future, but will also have enjoyment in this age (1Cor. 9:17, 4, 14).
“For obedience to the faith among all nations for His name”, this is the explanation of the “apostleship”, stating the responsibilities of preachers of the gospel:
1) The realm of preaching the gospel is “all the nations” and its object is “all the people” (Matt. 28:19).
2) To preach the gospel is to make the “name of the Lord” sound out so that men shall call upon the Lord’s name (Rom. 10:13) and sanctify the Lord’s name in their hearts (1Pet. 3:15) and be unto the Lord’s name ---- let men experience the reality of the Lord’s name (namely, the Lord Himself).
3) To preach the gospel is to
make men have the “obedience to the faith”, i.e. make one subject to the Lord
and believe Christ only instead of walking according to his hardness and impenitent
heart (Rom. 2:5). In a word, to preach the gospel is to make one believe in his
heart and confess in his mouth (
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The gospel enables us to enjoy the grace and be saved. Though the experience of us is different, we are saved from the same gospel.
2) What we have obtained in the Lord today are all free grace, not because we are worthy of them or we have paid any cost.
3) We must firstly receive God’s grace from Christ (1Cor. 15:10), for only those who have first-hand experience in the Lord can then supply the living Lord to others.
4) We received the grace of God when we were just saved, and continued to receive God’s grace after we have been saved ---- it is not that we can do anything for God, but that God does everything for us.
5) Paul’s whole life was completely transformed because of the gospel. He was a man who went against fiercely the gospel, but now became a man who spread the gospel. Obviously, the gospel can transform men’s life, way and direction. All those who have really tasted the goodness of the gospel will spontaneously share it with others.
6) Paul’s words indicated that his apostleship was not out of his advantages, but God’s grace. What we believers can accomplish in the assembly is not because we are better than others, but on account of God’s grace purely.
7) The gospel can extend our breadth of mind and deliver us from the narrow self-regard to the liberality of being willing to share the goodness of the gospel with “all the nations”.
8) Those who have truly obeyed the faith will only exalt the Lord’s name, not the name of any spiritual giant. Neither would they honor anyone going beyond the things which are written in the Scriptures (1Cor. 4:6).
9) “Obedience” refers to faith and obedience, or obedience in faith. To Christians, faith is inseparable from obedience. Faith without obedience is not true faith.
Rom. 1:6 “among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;”
YLT: “among whom are also ye, the called of Jesus Christ;”
Literal Meaning: this verse points out two features of believers:
1) They are “called”. Apparently, if a man is willing to hear the gospel and believe the Son of God, it seems to be of his own will. Actually, if he is not called by God, he cannot make this choice through himself (Rom. 9:16).
2) They “are of Jesus Christ”.
It is a transfer of a man’s being saved ---- from the authority of darkness to
the kingdom of the Son of his love (Col. 1:13), thus becoming a man of the Lord
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The announcement of the gospel is without limit, for the gospel is the power of God (see v.16), which has the power of spreading life.
2) We are called according to the will of God. God called us in order to perfect His will in us (Rom. 8:28-30). Therefore, our life has orientation and goal.
3) We are not of our own (1Cor. 6:19), but of
Jesus Christ. Therefore, if we live, we live unto the Lord. If we die, we die
unto the Lord (
Rom. 1:7 “To all who are in
YLT: “to all who are in
Meaning of Words: “grace”: favor, joy, liberality, pleasure, thanks;
“to all who are in
2) Who are “beloved of God”; God chose and preordained us before the foundation of the world in love so that we can be called the children of God (Eph. 1:4-5; 1John 3:1).
3) Who are “called” by God; According to the selection and predestination of God before the foundation of the world, God called us by the gospel in time (2The. 2:14).
4) Who are “sanctified” (the meaning of “being saints” in the original). The calling of God makes us be separated and sanctified from the world unto God (2Cor. 6:14-18).
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” ---- Grace is the free gift bestowed by God. The greatest grace for men is that they can possess and enjoy God Himself. “Peace” does not refer to peaceful and smooth environment, but quite and restful mood in one’s heart. In other words, peace is a kind of mood of those who have already enjoyed God’s salvation, which brings peace between God and men, and men themselves.
“From God our Father”, it shows that God the Father is the origin of grace and peace. We believers are vessels of enjoying grace and peace.
“And the Lord Jesus Christ”, Paul presented God the Father and the Lord Jesus as a pair of appositives. Here, it mentions the Lord Jesus, for we can only enjoy grace and peace through Him.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) This gospel is bestowed to all the “beloved ones of God”, which unveils that the gospel is produced because of the love of God. This gospel is planed with the purpose of satisfying the love of God.
2) That men can be saved by grace is due to the love of God. God’s love is the only motivation and origin. It is by no means because of men’s qualifications or conditions.
3) All those who are saved are called to be saints. It is all because of the calling of God that we can be saved and be separated to be saints.
4) All Christians are saints ---- who are “separated” unto God in standing, and are in the process of “being sanctified” through the working of the Holy Spirit in experience.
5) Unless we have realized that we are “saints” and what honorable and important position and nature we have in the Lord, we cannot live the separated and triumphant life on the earth.
6) A separated Christians should still seek to be holy in life. Because God is holy, all those who are of Him should also be holy (Lev. 19:2). Therefore, we should purify us and seek to be sanctified (2Tim. 2:21).
7) God’s grace is the premise of us to obtain peace. He who has not received the grace of God shall never obtain true peace. According to the wickedness of us before God, we are only worthy of being punished and suffering troubles.
8) Grace has been in connection with our salvation, and peace relates to our life. In other words, grace is the source of peace, and peace is the fruit of grace. It is impossible for men to have peace without seeking God’s grace earlier.
9) Grace and peace are of God given to us by God through the Lord Jesus. We can only enjoy the grace and peace of God unto Christ.
10) Christians are those who have enjoyed the grace of God, and therefore, their life must have its pleasantness. The Christianity that has no attraction is not real Christianity.
11) Grace is a gift that men can not obtain by themselves, for men are unworthy of receiving grace through themselves.
12) We should not seek peace outside of God. The shortcut of true peace is keeping the will of God.
13) The “peace” of believers has nothing to do with objective environment and will not be affected by things outside.
14) “May” every Christian of us be the channel of conveying the grace and peace of God to others!
Rom. 1:8 “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.”
YLT: “first, indeed, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is proclaimed in the whole world;”
Meaning of Words: “speak”: declare, announce;
Literal Meaning: “through Jesus Christ”, we can only draw near God and have fellowship with God through Jesus Christ.
“I thank my God for you all”, the gospel is the free grace of God. As far as our nature concerned, we are totally unworthy of obtaining the gospel, but we are still bestowed the mercy (1Tim. 1:16). Considering our strength, we are unable to believe the gospel by ourselves, but God becomes to be our leader of faith (Heb. 12:2). Therefore, the result of the gospel is to make men give thanks to God.
“That your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world”, “the whole world”, it referred to all the places where the gospel was covered.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Some people like to fix their eyes on the mistakes of others and open their mouths to criticize others. However, seeing and praising the advantages of others may be more edifying than criticizing others.
2) There is a dozy heroes in the one who is only worthy of going to the hell. Sometimes, a word of praise may awake him, but criticism can only drive him into rage and disappointment.
3) He who knows how to shepherd the flock may firstly give milk to men and then the solid food.
4) A true servant of God is always concerned about the conditions of the saints before God everywhere. He will rejoice when seeing their growth in life and pray for them when they are confronted with difficulties.
5) It is worthy of preaching the Christians’ life witness of faith, because such witness can encourage the faith of others as well as glorify God.
Rom. 1:9 “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, ”
YLT: “for God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the good news of His Son, how unceasingly I make mention of you,”
Literal Meaning: “in the gospel of His Son”, namely, the gospel of God (see v.1) ---- it is the realm and content of Paul’s serving God.
“Whom I serve with my spirit”, “serve”, the word means among the Jews
the ministration of priests in the
“For God is my witness that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers”, “God is my witness”, he does not boast of himself, but testifies that God is his witness. “Without ceasing”, it did not mean the prayer occupied the whole twenty-four hours in a day, but that he prayed for them frequently without disremembrance.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Serving God can never be separated from worshiping God (see Phil. 3:3; Heb. 9:9; 10:2). Therefore, the work of serving God shall be started from the spirit.
2) The true significant service is neither the outward works nor religious assignments ---- holding various ceremonies unceasingly, reciting many scriptures and prayers rigidly ---- but being immersed in zealous prayers in full faith.
3) We shall not only preach the gospel with our mouths and feet, but also preach the gospel and serve God in spirit, for God is a spirit. Therefore, we shall be in newness of spirit and serve Him in spirit and truth, and not in oldness of letter (John 4:24; Rom. 7:6).
4) We shall serve God according to the feeling in our inner part, namely, the feeling in one’s spirit, not our affection or thoughts. If the origin of our service is wrong, even though the things are done, it will still not please God.
5) The true service unto God shall only be through the spirit instead of one’s nature or flesh, and take the Son of God as the central content only instead of any other model.
6) The announcement of the gospel is a service unto God, which demands our spirit more than our soul and body. Therefore, it is not persuasion by reasoning, but deep calls unto deep (Ps. 42:7). Only that comes out of one’s spirit will reach into others’ spirits, evoking spiritual concordance.
7) To pray for others is the right and responsibility of Christians. We shall also bring our relatives’ names or other Christians’ names to the throne of grace.
8) We may commonly pray for those whom we draw near frequently or we are familiar with, but those whose hearts are large and who have great love (2Pet. 1:7) will pray for all the churches and all the saints.
9) Paul was concerned about the assembly in
10) The true condition of our spirit may not be made known to others, but cannot be hidden toward God. Therefore, God is the best witness of our spiritual conditions.
Rom. 1:10 “making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.”
YLT: “always in my prayers beseeching, if by any means now at length I shall have a prosperous journey, by the will of God, to come unto you,”
Literal Meaning: “in the will of God”, the gospel is a great matter in the mind of God. The plan and dispensation of the gospel are according to His will, so are the announcement and popularization of the gospel.
“At last I may find a way to come to you”, it contains the meaning of “being brought to you smoothly” in the original.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The will of God can be known through prayer so that the announcement of the gospel will be effective. Therefore, the way of preaching the gospel shall be paved by prayers. Prayers first, and ministry of the words afterwards (Acts 6:4), and thus the words will be powerful.
2) Though Paul had his own will of his route ---- “now”, “at last”, he knew that he was still influenced by the environment ---- “a way”. What was more important was that he committed himself fully unto the will of God ---- “in the will of God”.
3) If an evangelist wants to preach the gospel to someone in some place, though it seems to be a desire from God, he shall still pray to God and commit this desire to God and let God direct his steps (Jer. 10:23).
4) No matter what place a Christian wants to go, he shall firstly seek the will of God instead of acting on his own (James 4:13-15).
5) What Paul prayed was not that the will of God had to match up his plan and route, but that his plan and route had to meet the will of God closely.
Rom. 1:11 “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established-- ”
YLT: “for I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, that ye may be established;”
I may impart to you some spiritual gift”, the spiritual gifts in the Book of Romans were not supernatural
power, but gifts of teaching and government and etc. (see
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) All the workers of God should take the responsibility of making believers be strengthened in faith instead of seeking to be honored by them.
2) We should see all the believers in the bowel of God. No matter those whom we bring to the Lord or other ones whom others bring to the Lord, they shall be both regarded as the children of God in the house of God and belong to the flock of the Lord. Therefore, we should earnestly care about them.
3) From this verse, we can see that there was not the so-called idea of “domain”, namely, a certain local church receives only the guidance of a certain man or group, in the early church.
4) The principle of this verse can also be applied in the service of the announcement of the gospel:
a) The one who preaches the gospel shall not only be of no sense of shame (v.16), but also take the responsibility of imparting spiritual gifts to others.
b) The gospel not only brings material and immaterial blessings to men on the earth, but also enables men to obtain every spiritual blessing in the heaven (Eph. 1:3), namely, to obtain the spiritual glory in mystery that God had prepared for men.
5) Men shall be strengthened in spirit by only obtaining and tasting the riches of the glory of God.
Rom. 1:12 “that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. ”
YLT: “and that is, that I may be comforted together among you, through the faith in one another, both yours and mine.”
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) There is a mysterious union and response of faith (Titus 1:4; 2Pet. 1:1; 2Cor. 4:13) between the preacher of the gospel and the receiver of the gospel.
2) The result of preaching the gospel is to make the preacher of the gospel and the receiver of the gospel enjoy the benefits of the gospel together (1Cor. 9:23).
3) Paul never thought he did not need the help of other saints. Those who serve the Lord shall not only often prepare for supplying others but also prepare for receiving the provision from others.
4) The relation between the evangelists and all the believers is not a nonreciprocal one of provision, but a bidirectional one. Therefore, the evangelists should also learn to be humble, thus being benefited from the fellowship with others.
5) “Iron is sharpened by iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend (Pro. 27:17)”. Teaching benefits teacher and student alike. Believers in the assembly can always find comfort and encouragement from each other, and everyone can mutually discover precious things from others.
6) Only the faith that we hold can confirm our faith and comfort our spirit.
7) The true and sweet fellowship among all the saints comes from the knowledge of and faith in Christ. Actually, the difficulties of the fellowship among the saints and the division in the assembly are often caused by the lack of the knowledge of Christ. Therefore, the more we seek the knowledge of Christ, the truer and deeper fellowship among the saints will be.
Rom. 1:13 “Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. ”
YLT: “And I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, that many times I did purpose to come unto you -- and was hindered till the present time -- that some fruit I might have also among you, even as also among the other nations.”
Literal Meaning: “that I often planned to come to you”, he “often planned” it, but he had not done it, showing that he was hindered by the environment and yet he did not give up.
“That I might have some fruit among you also”, “fruit” is the manifestation and expression of the inner life. The condition of the tree will decide the condition of its fruit (see Matt. 7:17). Paul here compared preaching the gospel to gain men with bearing fruit.
There are at least the four kinds of “fruit” that Christians may bear as below:
1) The fruit in life ---- the natural expression of God’s life, namely, making men see God or Christ Himself (see Matt. 7:20; 1Tim. 3:16; Phil. 1:20);
2) The fruit in walking ---- the natural expression of God’s nature, namely, manifesting many good virtues (see Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 5:9; Phil. 1:10; James 3:17-18);
3) The fruit in works ---- bring men to the Lord (see Rom. 1:13);
4) The fruit of lips ---- offer the sacrifice of praise to God (see Heb. 13:15);
as among the other Gentiles”, obviously, gentiles occupied most of the
believers in the assembly in
“But was hindered until now”, the reasons for the hindrance of Paul’s desire might be:
1) Others places had more urgent need.
2) He had not found proper time and opportunity.
3) The direct prohibition of the Spirit (see Acts. 16:6-7);
4) The hindrance of Satan (see 1The 2:18);
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Here the words like, “often planned”, “without ceasing” (v.9), “always” (v.10) and “long to” (v.11), showed that Paul was earnest in the matter of preaching the gospel to Romans instead of planning it randomly or routinely. The announcement of the gospel should be out of the burden in us.
2) When we seek the will of God, though we have to consider the manifestation and proof in the environment, the factor in the environment is not the only element of God’s guidance, for the burden and guidance in us are also rather important.
3) The hindrance in the environment does not mean God’s prohibition. The will and guidance of God relates to the time. If it is not fulfilled, it may be done in other time.
4) Someone quotes the words in the Book of James partially and holds that Christians should not have plan in their conduct but only look unto the guidance of God (see James 4:13-15). Actually, it is misunderstanding of the Bible. Christians may have their plans, but should rely on God’s guidance in their plans and performance.
Rom. 1:14 “I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. ”
YLT: “Both to Greeks and to foreigners, both to wise and to thoughtless, I am a debtor,”
“Greeks”, it referred to the gentiles who lived in the Greek way of life or
spoke Greek in the
“And to barbarians”, they were the people who language was hard to understand, namely, those who had not influenced by Greek culture. Therefore, they stood for the uncivilized people.
“Both to wise and to unwise”, they had intellectual distinction, having nothing to do with the civilized level.
“I am a debtor both to…”, it had dual meanings in Greek. To a debtor, he might often have a feeling of burden in his heart. However, when his debt was paid, he would feel as if relieved of a heavy load and be comfortable. Paul thought he was a debtor to all kinds of people. On one hand, he had the responsibility of preaching the gospel to them. On the other hand, he would obtain from them the benefit of preaching the gospel to them.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The announcement of the gospel is open to all, all men are the object of the preaching of the gospel, for God desires that all men should be saved (2Tim. 2:4) and is unwilling that any should perish (2Pet. 3:9). For this sake, we have the responsibility of making everyone hear the gospel. Otherwise, we shall be like a debtor who has always the feeling of iniquity and cannot be free.
2) The Lord Jesus is the preserver of all those that believe. He treats all men alike, no discrimination in race, class, education, culture and etc. There should be no division in the body (1Cor. 1:10; 12:25).
3) Paul thought he was “a debtor to men” concerning the gospel. Therefore, the announcement of the gospel is the duty of us. Just like repaying a debt, the debtor must do it.
Rom. 1:15 “So, as much as is in me, I
am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in
YLT: “so, as much as in me is, I am ready also to you who in
Literal Meaning: “as much as is in me, I am ready”, “ready” means that one has the spirit of gospel ---- whatever he does, he labors at it heartily (Col. 3:23). “As much as in me”, it indicates that one has devoted himself all to the gospel of Christ without any reservation.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) God only asks every preacher of the gospel do his own utmost. God has never set a high standard and only those who have reached the standard can preach the gospel for Him. Otherwise, the mission of the gospel cannot be fulfilled by any believer.
2) Every one who is disposed to devote himself to the Lord will be used by the Lord in the ministry of the announcement of the gospel.
3) He who preaches the gospel shall be gladly spend and be utterly spent for the souls of men (2Cor. 12:15).
Rom. 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. ”
YLT: “for I am not ashamed of the good news of the Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation to every one who is believing, both to Jew first, and to Greek.”
“for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ”, to preach the gospel is to
preach the Nazarene Jesus.
Literal Meaning: “for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ”, the word “for” revealed one reason that Paul preached the gospel so earnestly. Paul was despised and mocked everywhere for the purpose of preaching the gospel. However, he felt honored of the gospel. It unveils that the gospel has a kind of power that makes men able to overcome all the opposition and resistance.
“For it is the power of God”, it shows that the gospel is the power of God that can overcome everything. The gospel can save every sinner in the world (1Tim. 1:15-16), and can deliver men from all the sins (Matt. 1:21).
“To salvation for everyone who believes”, the preposition “to” (“eis” in Greek) in the verse shows the immediate effect of the salvation.
“Save”, it indicates that men are just in the brink of death and can not save themselves. They are in dire need of a super mighty one, namely, God, to save them. God would save men and has already prepared the salvation for men and has sent preachers of the gospel to declare His salvation. Therefore, now the problem does not lie in God, but in men.
salvation for everyone who believes”, it shows that “believing” is the only
condition of receiving the gospel and that God cannot refuse to save those who
have believed. He who wants to obtain the salvation has to receive the gospel.
To believe is the only way of receiving the gospel ---- to believe Jesus is
Christ and is the Son of God (John 20:31). To receive Him in spirit is to
believe Him (John. 1:
“For the Jew first and also for the Greek”, “the Jew first”, because salvation comes from the Jews (John 4:22); “and also for the Greek”, the Greek here represents all the gentiles, showing that the gospel of God is also prepared for all the nations (see v.5). “First…and also…”, it is the order of time, not importance.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) If we want to preach the gospel, we should be not ashamed of the gospel. Therefore, we should have the spirit of the gospel. If we have possessed the spirit of the gospel, we shall not only be not ashamed of the gospel, but also take it as an honor. If believers have not taken the gospel as the most glorious thing, they will naturally have the sense of shame and be afraid of being despised by others.
2) Satan often makes believers feel ashamed when they are preaching the gospel, especially when they start to learn to preach the gospel. If we have really known the glory of the gospel and have personally tasted the goodness of the gospel, we will say that “we are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” like Paul.
3) We may often think in our mind that some kind of men is easy to be saved, but some is impossible to be saved. However, the gospel of God is the “salvation for everyone who believes”, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. There is nothing to hard to God. We should have such faith to preach the gospel to man, no mater whom he is.
4) If we have really know that “the gospel is the power of God” ---- the power of God that makes Christ break through the death and rise and ascend to the heaven (v.4; see Eph. 1:20), we will not ask for other power ---- encouragement of men or physical methods and etc. ---- when we are preaching the gospel. If what we have preached and testified is purely the Son of God, the risen Christ, the gospel Himself will bring forth enormous power to save “all those who believe”, from the Jews to the nations.
5) The announcement of the gospel does not depend on men’s own power, but the power of the gospel Himself. Therefore, we shall be bold to preach the gospel. Otherwise, no one can preach the gospel, because he who thinks he is incapable has no courage to do it, and he who thinks he is capable yet puffs up and is unwilling to do it, and consequently the gospel would not be preached out!
6) “To salvation for everyone who believes”, God desires that all men should be saved, but the salvation only comes to those who believe. To believe is the way of obtaining the salvation of God.
Rom. 1:17 “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." ”
YLT: “For the righteousness of God in it is revealed from faith to faith, according as it hath been written, `And the righteous one by faith shall live,'”
Literal Meaning: “for”, it shows that this verse is the explanation of verse 16 ---- why the gospel can save “all those who believe”.
“In it the righteousness of God is revealed”, “righteousness”, it indicates that the precondition of men’s “right” relationship with God is the satisfaction of the righteous demand of God.
“Righteousness of God” is different from “righteousness of man”. Righteousness of man is to meet the righteous demand of God through man’s own power and deeds. Righteousness of God is God Himself comes to meet the righteous demand of God and then gives the justified standing to those who believe freely. Strictly speaking, there is not a righteous in the world, not even one. By works of law no flesh shall be justified before God (Rom. 3:10, 20). However, the gospel tells men that the Son of God Christ has satisfied the righteous demand of God on the cross, and if a man receives Him, he will be his righteousness (1Cor. 1:30) and makes man has be made the righteousness of God in Him (2Cor. 5:21). Therefore, the gospel has manifested the righteousness of God (Rom. 3:25-26).
“From faith to faith”, or
“in the principle of faith”; it indicates that the righteousness of God
revealed by the gospel is given to men according to the principle of faith
(Phil. 3:9). “From faith to faith”, it unveiled that we were justified by faith
“As it is written, "The just shall live by faith."” “The just shall live by faith.” ---- It is quoted from the Book of Habakkuk (2:4), carrying two meanings therein: first, man is justified by faith, so is delivered from death and live before God (Gal. 3:11, 12). Secondly, since we believers have already justified by God, we should still live before God by faith (Heb. 10:38-39). One is “being quickened” when one had just been saved, and the other is “living by faith” after one has been saved.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Faith that enables men to be justified is a kind of faith that can still increase. It is of the realm of life.
2) That we can live before God is fully due to the faith in and obedience of the risen Lord.
Rom. 1:18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,”
YLT: “for revealed is the wrath of God from heaven upon all impiety and unrighteousness of men, holding down the truth in unrighteousness.”
Meaning of Words: “suppress”: retain, hold, withhold; “truth”: reality;
Literal Meaning: “for the wrath of God”, “the wrath of God”, it is the reaction of God to men’s offending His will and holy nature. The word “for” points out the reason for men’s need for the gospel ---- since men have offended God, the wrath of God on men is like the impending thunder. Therefore, the salvation is seriously needed for men to reverse the situation
“Is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men”, two aspects of sins have made men offend God:
1) “Ungodliness”, be ungodly before God ---- men do not glorify Him as God, neither are thankful, but change the glory of the incorruptible God into likeness of an image (v.21-25).
2) “Unrighteousness”, be unjust before both God and among men ---- they are unjust and unmerciful and disobey the holiness and righteousness of the nature of God (v.26-31).
The former word “ungodliness” emphasizes the faith, and the latter word “unrighteousness” focuses on works.
“Who suppress the truth in unrighteousness”, the word “who” shows that “godly and unrighteous men” refer to those who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness”. The ungodliness of men before God leads to the unrighteousness of men before God and among men. Since men are unrighteous, what they have done must be also unrighteous. The result of the unrighteousness of men is suppressing the truth. Therefore, the deprivation of men’s proper relation with God is the root of all sins.
“Truth”, it refers to the unchangeable truth that is generally acknowledged as well as the perfect reality. God Himself (Rom. 1:25; 3:7) and Jesus Christ (John. 14:6) and the word of God (John. 17:17) are truth.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Paul mentioned “ungodliness” first and “unrighteousness” afterwards, showing that men’s unrighteousness to men is on account of their ungodliness before God. If men are ungodly before God, they will be unrighteous among men.
2) Men are “ungodly” before God first and then “unrighteous” among men. If the condition of men before God is wrong, their condition before men will surely be wrong too. Therefore, we shall pay attention to our internal spiritual condition before God more than the external moral condition before men.
3) The most serious ungodliness of men to God is unbelief. However, every believer at least has the faith in God and the Savior sent by God, so they have got the elementary godliness.
4) God has prepared His love to everyone in the world. Those who do not receive it purposefully will surely suffer the wrath of God.
5) “Suppress the truth in unrighteousness”, if the conducts of believers make men misunderstand the truth of God, they will also suffer the wrath of God.
6) Although there are different kinds of men in the world. However, before God, there are only two kinds of men ---- those who suppress the truth and those who obey the truth. If one dose not obey the truth, he will suppress the truth. There is not the third kind of men.
7) All the deeds of suppressing or opposing the truth are “unrighteous” before God and shall cause the wrath of God.
8) The world needs the salvation of God because of their “ungodliness” and “unrighteousness”. If we believers want to preach the gospel to them, we should be shown of having not any “ungodliness” and “unrighteousness”. In other words, we should conduct ourselves worthily of the glad tidings of the Christ so that we may help others to obey the gospel.
Rom. 1:19 “because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.”
YLT: “Because that which is known of God is manifest among them, for God did manifest to them,”
Literal Meaning: “of God” refers to “His eternal power and Godhead” (see v.20).
“What may be known of…is manifest in them”, there is the instinct of knowing God in the spirit of men, because the spirit in men is created by God for men to touch, worship and feel Him.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Though we can not know all that is of God fully, at least, God has revealed Himself to us slightly, thus making us have some knowledge of Him.
2) Our knowledge of God is not external knowledge, but internal consciousness. It does not stem from logical reasoning, but inner revelation of God.
3) The Scriptures are not the only origin of our knowledge of God, because God not only speaks to us by the written words, but also by various men, matters and things.
4) Many times, believers lack the knowledge about spiritual things. It is not because God has not enlightened or revealed them, but their hearts are not upright (see Matt. 13:14-15).
5) Those who are proud have no God in them. Christians who consider themselves always right cannot understand the will of God.
Rom. 1:20 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, ”
YLT: “for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world, by the things made being understood, are plainly seen, both His eternal power and Godhead -- to their being inexcusable;”
Literal Meaning: “His eternal power and Godhead are clearly seen”, “eternal power”, it pertains to the limitless power of God. God’s eternal power can been seen from the creation and existence of all things, such as, the wonderful arrangement of stars and the beauty of flowers and grass. “Godhead” refers to the nature and attribute of God, which can bee inferred from the being and condition of all things, such as men’s conscience or moral human relations, and the common saying like “all men, good or bad, rarely ill-treat their own children” and etc.
“The creation of the world”, if men carefully observe the world and all things in it, they will figure out and know the existence of God (Acts. 17:24-28).
“Are clearly seen, being understood by”, it can be directly translated like this: “being understood…being perceived”. The former word refers to intellectual knowledge, and the latter pertains to visible things, showing that men can know that all the creation of the world is the work of God and the manifestation of God’s nature by observing and meditating all the visible things.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Verse 19 points that “men’s hearts” prove the existence of God. This verse shows that “all the creation of the world” also testifies the existence of God. Amen. If men put aside their prejudice, no matter examining their conscience or observing all the creation of the world, they cannot deny that there is a Master in the universe, who is the God that we believe. We shall worship Him!
2) Though God “is clearly seen”, He is invisible. Therefore, we shall walk by faith, not sight (2Cor. 5:7), nor appearance (2Cor. 5:16).
3) The living environment that we live in contains the law and works of God. All those who are of God should not be indifferent to the environment.
4) The law of Christ’s power and nature is filled in the whole universe. If we have the central revelation of Christ, we will increasingly find that all things are indeed bearing witness of Christ, from which we can also know Him more.
Rom. 1:21 “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
YLT: “because, having known God they did not glorify as God, nor gave thanks, but were made vain in their reasonings, and their unintelligent heart was darkened,”
The Background: in the days of Paul, most of the philosophers idled away their time everyday and were fond of arguing with others (Acts. 17:18). Therefore, the last half of the verse can be translated as: “they abandoned themselves in vain arguments so that they became dark in mind and saw nothing”.
Literal Meaning: “although they knew God”, here “they” referred to men in the world.
“They did not glorify Him as God”, though men knew God is God, they did not glorify Him as God. All the sins are not the fundamental sin. They originate from the sin of not glorifying God as God.
“And their foolish hearts were darkened”, since men did not regard God as God, their hearts became dark. Once their hearts were dark, they would commit other sins.
The three words “because”, “did not” and “became” show the progress of men’s fall and point out the main reason for men’s sins.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The most serious sin of men before God is not taking God as God. It is just like the children in a family do not regard their parents as parents and the people of a nation do not take the head of the nation as the head.
2) The fault in faith causes the faults in morality. All sins of men stem from the sin of not taking God as God.
3) If our “knowledge” cannot influence our conduct, such “knowledge” is of no effect and is equal of “ignorance”.
4) The reason why men’s “thoughts” became futile and “their foolish hearts” were darkened was that they “knew God, but did not glorify Him as God”. It tells that men shall be bright and calm in their hearts only when they take manifesting Christ and glorifying God as the significance and purpose of all.
5) If man refuses to receive light, he will never be illuminated. If man refuses to see, he will lose the power of sight.
6) Those who do not regard God as God must be dark in their hearts and be totally ignorant of things of God.
Rom. 1:22 “Professing to be wise, they became fools, ”
YLT: “professing to be wise, they were made fools,”
Literal Meaning: if men rejected of God on purpose, they would become futile in their thoughts and dark in their hearts (v.21). Therefore, they doubtless think they were wise, but become fools.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) A wise man can be ruined by the wisdom of himself. If man relies on his own intelligence and resource, it tends to be of no help to spiritual things but bring fool results.
2) God has chosen the foolish things of the world, that he may put to shame the wise (1Cor. 1:27). Though believers speak wisdom, it is not of the wisdom in the world, but the wisdom of God (2Cor. 2:6-7).
Rom. 1:23 “and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.”
YLT: “and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of fowls, and of quadrupeds, and of reptiles.”
Literal Meaning: verse 21 and this verse showed the reason why men went to worship idols:
1) Though men knew God’s existence in their conscience, they did not glorify Him as God nor honored God’s being nor were thankful to God (v.21).
2) The reason for men’s not honoring God or being thankful to God is the deterioration of their mind ---- from being concrete and sure to being abstract and empty, from being clear and bright to being futile and dark, and from being wise and keen to being fool and dull (v.22).
3) Once men became so fool in mind, they will supersede the incorruptible God by the corruptible ones ---- supersede the glory of God by the images of man, birds, four-footed animals and creeping things, namely, replace God with idols (v.23).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “Man, birds, four-footed animals and creeping things”, from men to creeping things, lower and lower. Men even make themselves degenerate to a degree of worshiping the objects baser than themselves.
2) Men will increasingly resemble what they worship. When men know God less and less, it is no wonder that their morality has become more and more decayed.
3) If we believers in the church honor the spiritual giants above what is written in the Scriptures (1Cor. 4:6), it will be like worshiping idols ---- worshiping the corruptible men as God.
4) If we neither honor nor thank the true God, we will surely create our own gods for ourselves.
5) Though the modern cultivated men do not worship the animals as gods, if they degrade their life style to the level of seeking to survive like animals ---- satisfy their own lust by seeking things outside of God, they will still unconsciously fall into the trap of the devil, being equal to worship idols.
Rom. 1:24 “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, ”
YLT: “Wherefore also God did give them up, in the desires of their hearts, to uncleanness, to dishonour their bodies among themselves;”
Meaning of Words: “gave up”: surrender, yield up;
Paul wrote the Book of Romans in
Literal Meaning: “therefore”, it is after the previous verse.
“God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts”, “gave up”, abandon something after passing the process from anxiety to grief; Since men had abandoned and rejected God, God had to give them up. God’s giving up men did not mean God authorized men to commit sins, but that God gave men up to choose unrighteousness without restriction. “Lust” means seeking the joy that satisfies men themselves beyond reason. Once men’s lusts are not governed by God, men will be like horses that have no robes, doing many dirty things.
“To dishonor their bodies among themselves”, the result of men’s lusts is the corruption of their bodies.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) God strived (see Gen. 6:3 the original) with men who had sinned before the blood. However, since men began to worship the idols, God “gave up” them and no longer restrained or controlled them in morally.
2) When men chose to refuse the way of God in their will, God would give them up and let them go out of the way. Though God is the almighty God, He does not walk beyond our free will.
3) The most terrible dealing with men of God is “giving up” (v.24, 26, 28). Therefore, it is better to be suffered in the hands of God’s discipline than to be loosed because of God’s giving up.
4) C. S. Lewis said, “The lost men had desired the terrible liberty, and they would ever have it, thus becoming the bondmen of their own. (translated from the Chinese version from the original)”
5) There is a cruel thing in life, i.e. sins bring sins. Sinners who have committed many sins will be more disposed to sin.
6) The result of worshiping the idols is bringing about adultery, which also causes the corruption of bodies. If men have other pursuit outside of God, they will indulge themselves and suffer loss.
7) The first sin that men had committed was not uncleanness in the lusts of their hearts, nor dishonor on their bodies among themselves, but that their relationship with God was wrong. Once men’s relationship with God went wrong, they would certainly commit these sins.
8) These words go after the mention of idolatry in the previous verse. Therefore, we can see that idolatry has relations with adultery. Where there is idolatry, there is adultery (see Num. 25:1-2; 1Cor. 10:7-8).
Rom. 1:25 “who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. ”
YLT: “who did change the truth of God into a falsehood, and did honour and serve the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed to the ages. Amen.”
Literal Meaning: “who exchanged the truth of God for the lie”, “suppressing the truth” in verse 18 just means “exchanging the truth of God for the lie” here. The definite article “the” before the word “lie” refers to the big “fault”, namely, false gods and idols (Jem.13:25), opposite to “the truth of God” (2The.2:11). Suppressing the truth is taking vanity as reality, and turning away one’s ear from the truth and turning aside to fables (2Tim.4:4; Titus.1:14).
“Worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator”, the certain result of men’s exchanging the truth of God for the lie is having perverted the truth, thus worshiping the creature rather than the Creator.
“Amen”, means “yes”, “trustworthy”, or “surely”.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) God abandoned idolaters, for they had first rejected the truth of God and turned to the fault of idols.
2) Not only sinners who do not believe the Lord worship the creation, but also many believers make the same mistake ---- they do not worship the Lord but worship the so-called “spiritual giants” who also belong to the creation, thus worshiping invisible idols without realization. Therefore, we should be watchful that we shall not respect the Lord’s servants not above what is written in the Scriptures (1Cor. 4:6).
Rom. 1:26 “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. ”
YLT: “Because of this did God give them up to dishonourable affections, for even their females did change the natural use into that against nature;”
Literal Meaning: “God gave them up to vile passions”, the “lusts” in verse 24 is different from the word “passions” in this verse. The former refers to unrestricted lusts, and the latter refers to wicked lusts.
“For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.” ---- “the natural use of women” means that women get married to men and establish their family and cultivate their children. “What is against nature” means that women become harlots for the purpose of dealing with abnormal lusts (note that there are also Bible exegetes who interpret “what is against nature” here as women homosexuality)
Rom. 1:27 “Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. ”
YLT: “and in like manner also the males having left the natural use of the female, did burn in their longing toward one another; males with males working shame, and the recompense of their error that was fit, in themselves receiving.”
Literal Meaning: “men with men committing what is shameful”, the adultery in verse 24 is heterosexual. Here it is homosexual in this verse. Some of the leaders in the Christianity ignore this verse and permit or even defend homosexuality on the table. They attribute it to the problem of “genes” in biology. However, this verse clearly tells us that those genes “against the nature” are caused by men’s lusts of the flesh.
“And receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due”, the result of men’s such prurience is receiving “in themselves” the penalty of their error which was due (see 1Cor. 6:18). The popularization of AIDS in the modern times is an example of such case. “Receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due”, it is also translated as, “receiving in themselves the penalty of their abnormal deeds which was due”.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Sinners should repent and admit their sins and forsake their sins so that they shall be saved (see Acts. 2:38). Likewise, if a gay man or a lesbian neither repents nor forsakes his or her homosexual conducts, he or she cannot be regarded as one has been saved.
2) Everyone should pay a price for his sins in his body and soul ---- disease, guiltiness, the distortion of character and etc.
Rom. 1:28 “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; ”
YLT: “And, according as they did not approve of having God in knowledge, God gave them up to a disapproved mind, to do the things not seemly;”
Meaning of Words: “debased”: unapproved, rejected, worthless;
Literal Meaning: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge”, “retain God in their knowledge”, it was translated in the original in this way: “they did not approve of having God in knowledge”, namely, they did not bear sound teaching. Since they had committed their error, the existence of God would surely bring judgment or penalty to them. Therefore, they said, there was no God.
“God gave them over to a debased mind”, the word “give up” (see v.24, 26) is mentioned three times here. Being “abandoned” by God is the most lamentable thing. “A debased mind” refers to a corrupted mind (2Tim. 3:8). As the old saying goes, “the inner reality must be manifested in the outer appearance”. Once men’s mind is corrupted, they will be involved in various evil things (Matt. 15:18-19). Therefore, we shall keep our heart more than anything that is guarded (Pro. 4:23).
“To do those things which are not fitting”, “things which are not fitting” refer to “fitting things”, namely, things that are against men’s conscience and moral quality.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) It is not that men cannot know God, but that they do not approve God, nor take God as good. Men refuse to retain God in their knowledge on purpose, and they do not please the fact of God’s existence.
2) When men do not please the knowledge of God, God gives them up to the condition of life that God does not delight in. Since men do not please God, God will also do not please them.
3) This verse mentions God’s “giving up” for the third time. Men committed sins for the sake of the wrong relationship with God. The more terrible men’s relation with God is, the farther they are from God, and even they refuse to know God on purpose. Once men’s relation with God goes wrong, there will be a surge of sins thereafter.
4) If men refuse God, they will be fallen into sins, and deeper and deeper (see v.29-31).
Rom. 1:29 “being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,”
YLT: “having been filled with all unrighteousness, whoredom, wickedness, covetousness, malice; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil dispositions; whisperers,”
Literal Meaning: “being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness”, these are the general principles of all sins: “unrighteousness” is the opposite of righteousness. Righteousness is to give what is due to God and men to them, so unrighteousness means depriving God and men what is due to them. “Wickedness” does not refer to unconscious evil, but conscious evil that hurts others. “Covetousness” means sacrificing the advantages of others in order to earn more gains for oneself. “Maliciousness” refers to the one who is totally lack of good and upright character and is filled with vileness, by which all the sins are caused.
“Unrighteousness” emphasizes more the evilness in conducts; “wickedness” focuses on the evilness in nature; “covetousness” refers more to greed for materials; “maliciousness” is evil schemes toward men, including corruption, viciousness of one’s inner heart, or the venomous mental attitudes of hurting or destroying others.
“Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers”, “full of” it is not only full of envy but full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and evil-mindedness.
“Envy” means that one is jealous of the accomplishments and attainments of others with the thought that they are unworthy of possessing predominant status or possessions than himself. “Murder”, it may be caused by the one who thinks that those who are not profitable to him or harmful to him have no right of existence. This is an action out of a hostile heart, including those what is done in malice aforethought or fierce anger. “Strife”, it is an action out of envy, including emulation, quarrel, discord and etc. “Deceit”, it refers to the action of gaining one's ends by base means, including treachery, skullduggery, fraud and etc. “Evil-mindedness”, it means interpreting the hearts of others in corrupted mind as the worst motivation, including hatred, resentment, bitterness and etc.
“Whisperer”: those who speak ill of someone in public
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Those who are unrighteous are self-centered. They push God and others out of his life and regard him as the center of everything.
2) The love of money is root of every evil (1Tim. 6:10). Greedy men override others to seek their own satisfaction without considering morality or being restricted by justice or righteousness.
Rom. 1:30 “backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,”
YLT: “evil-speakers, God-haters, insulting, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,”
The Background: “boasters” is translated from the Greek word “doctor who traveled widely”, which referred to those who travelled widely and boasted that their art of healing was competent, or the goods they sold were good in quality. They often made an overstatement inconsistent with the fact for the purpose of promoting them.
“Disobedient to parents”, the Romans at that time, just like the Jews, paid great attention to filial piety for parents, especially “paternal right”. The father held the right of life or death of his whole family.
Literal Meaning: “backbiters”: to vilify someone in secret; it is worse than the whispers. Concerning public slander, there are at least chances for the victim being slandered to raise a protest or defend himself. But the secret slander damages the reputation of others who have no opportunity of defense.
“Haters of God”: those who dislike or hate the discipline of God. Men not only refuse to retain the knowledge of God in their mind, but also hate God in their affection.
“Violent”: satisfy one’s self by insulting others wickedly;
“Proud”: despise everyone except for oneself;
“Boasters”: to show off one’s self in an exaggerated way; “proud” is more in the aspect of attitudes, and “boaster” is more in utterance.
“Inventors of evil things”: to satisfy one’s self by inventing unceasingly new evil things or new means of committing sins.
“Disobedient to parents”: not respect parents nor take the responsibility of taking care of parents;
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Antitheists deny God, because if God is true, it will be badly unprofitable to them and they cannot do as they want. Therefore, they turn to be haters of God.
2) Haters of God cannot love anyone except for themselves. Therefore, they will do harm to others.
3) Proud cannot see God, for they are self-centered and think that everything exists for the purpose of satisfying himself.
4) A “boaster” likes to show off his riches and skills before others, thus making others know that he is superior to others. However, we Christians shall not think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think (Rom. 12:3).
Rom. 1:31 “undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; ”
YLT: “unintelligent, faithless, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful;”
The Background: “untrustworthy”, at that time, the Romans paid high attention to faithfulness. Even a verbal promise was as effective as the written contracts. However, the Greeks at that time would try to pick holes between the lines in order to free from the restriction of the contract that they had already signed.
“Unloving”, when a child was born at
that time, there might be someone who took the child to his father. If the
father took the child in his arms, it showed he admitted that the child was
his. However, if the father turned aside and left the child and no longer paid
attention to him, it showed that he rejected the child. Therefore, in the
“Unmerciful”, the Roman society at that time despised the life of salves. And the Roman laws gave the masters limitless power of dealing with the slaves cruelly at random. Thus the Coliseum emerged in response to that time. They put the slaves before the breast, and the salves had to fight with the beasts in order to survive. But the people just enjoyed the sight of the battle, having no mercy completely.
Literal Meaning: “undiscerning”: it means that one is too foolish to learn the lessons from his failures by the mind and understanding given by God. It also refers to the absence of moral and spiritual discernment.
“Untrustworthy”: unfaithful; to disobey the promise, contract or agreement and etc. for one’s own sake.
“Unloving”: have no love to one’s family members; not meet the obligation to one’s family; not take the responsibility for one’s family;
“Unmerciful”: be unable to sympathize with others ---- men’s hearts are too hard to understand the meaning of mercy.
Rom. 1:32 “who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. ”
YLT: “who the righteous judgment of God having known -- that those practising such things are worthy of death -- not only do them, but also have delight with those practising them.”
Meaning of Words: “righteous judgment”: righteous order, an equitable deed;
Literal Meaning: there are two features of those who practice unrighteousness:
1) They know what they have done is unrighteous and must be punished by God, namely, the penalty of “death” (Gen. 2:17). However, they even quench the strong feeling of unrest and do the evil without considering the result.
2) They like to ask others to combine to do evil together (Micah 7:3).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) No matter what men say or think, it does not count. Only the righteous judgment of God is the ultimate judgment on men’s conduct.
2) Intentionally violation is the common fault of men in the world. Education can not decrease men’s inclination of sin, and even increase men’s knowledge and skill of committing sins.
3) George Bernard Shaw said, “No nation can survive without God”. Likewise, all those who forsake God will be forsaken by God. Their end is perdition (translated from the Chinese version from the original).
4) Men who go towards the way of sin will seldom remember their sins and may also feel joyful for the sake of being accustomed to being kept company with sinners.
5) Sinners often like to commit sins with others together. Therefore, the chances of one’s committing sins shall be spontaneous decreased by keeping distant from the wicked (see Ps. 1:1).
III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons
The Origin of the Gospel ---- God
A. The gospel is of God ---- “the gospel of God” (v.1);
B. The gospel is the promise of God ---- “which He promised” (v.2);
C. The gospel is of the love of God ---- “beloved of God” (v.7);
D. The gospel is according to the will of God ---- “in the will of God” (v.10);
E. The gospel is the power of God ---- “it is the power of God” (v.16);
F. The gospel is for the purpose of manifesting the righteousness of God ---- “in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed” (v.17);
G. The gospel is of God ---- “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (v.8);
The Announcement of God’s Gospel
A. The vessel for preaching the gospel:
1. Who is “the bondman of Jesus Christ” (v.1 the original);
2. Who is “called” by God (v.1);
3. Who is “separated to the gospel of God” (v.1);
4. Who has “received grace” (v.5 the original);
5. Who is “apostleship” (v.1, 5);
B. The example of the preacher of the gospel:
1. Who takes “all nations” as the object (v.5);
2. Who “serves with the spirit” (v.9);
3. Who “prays” without ceasing and seeks “the will of God” (v.9-10);
4. Who “has some fruit” in life (v.13);
5. Who thinks he is “a debtor” to all those to whom he will preach the gospel (v.14);
6. “Who is ready to”, “as much as is in him” (v.15);
A. God’s gospel (v.1);
B. God’s Son (v.4);
C. God’s beloved (v.7);
D. God’s will (v.10);
E. God’s power (v.16);
F. God’s righteousness (v.17);
G. God’s wrath (v.18);
H. God’s things ---- God’s eternal power and Godhead (v.19-20);
I. God’s glory (v.23);
J. God’s truth of God (v.25);
The Content of the Gospel ---- Jesus Christ
A. Concerning Jesus Christ ---- “the gospel …concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (v.2-3);
B. He is “the Son of man” ---- “who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh” (v.3);
C. He is “the Son of God” ---- “be the Son of God … according to the Spirit of holiness” (v.4);
The Existence of the Three Persons of the Divine Trinity (v.3-4)
A. God the Father ---- “His”, “God”;
B. God the Son ---- His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, the Son of God;
C. God the Spirit ---- the Spirit of holiness;
Why We Need to Preach the Gospel?
A. Because of Christ’s being ---- He is the theme and content of the gospel (v.3);
B. Because of Christians’ being ---- who are entrusted to preach the gospel and are debtors of all men (v.14);
C. Because of the being of men in the world ---- whatever of a person one is, he needs the gospel (v.15, 17);
D. Because of the gospel’s being ---- the gospel is a kind of good news and the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes;
E. Because of God’s being ---- God is righteous and will judge all those who practice unrighteousness (v.17-18);
The Receiving of the Gospel of God
A. Those who have received the gospel:
1. “Who are the called of Jesus Christ” (v.6);
2. “Who are beloved of God, called to be saints” (v.7);
B. The way of receiving the gospel ---- “salvation for everyone who believes” (v.16-17);
Paul to Believers in Rome
A. He thanked for them (v.8);
B. He made mention of them in his prayers (v.9-11);
C. He planned to go to them (v.13);
D. He was a debtor to them (v.14);
E. He was ready to preach the gospel to them (v.15);
F. He bore witness to them (v.16);
The Knowledge of the Gospel
right attitude towards the gospel ---- not be ashamed of… (v
B. The gospel itself ---- the power of God (v.16b)
C. The purpose of the gospel ---- to salvation ….(v.16b)
D. The condition of the gospel ---- believe (v.16b)
E. The sphere of the gospel ---- everyone who believes (v.16b)
F. The order of the gospel ---- the Jew first and also for the Greek (v.16)
revelation of the gospel ---- the unrighteousness of God (v
H. The result of the gospel ---- live by faith (v.17b);
Five Basic Principles of the Gospel (v.16-17)
A. The gospel is the power of God.
B. The gospel is to salvation for everyone who believes, and there is no difference.
C. The gospel is to reveal the righteousness of God.
D. The gospel is from faith to faith.
E. The just shall live by faith.
A. The righteousness of God is manifested in the gospel (v.17).
B. The wrath of God is manifested in ungodly and unrighteous men (v.18).
C. God’s existence is manifested in men’s conscience (v.19).
D. God’s eternal power and Godhead are manifested in the creation of the world (v.20).
The Necessity of God’s Gospel
A. God’s wrath is evoked by men’s sins in two aspects ---- “ungodliness and unrighteousness… suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (v.18).
B. Men’s sins in the first aspect ---- ungodliness and suppressing the truth:
1. They knew God, but they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful (v.19-21).
2. They changed the glory of the incorruptible God into idols … they exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature (v.22-25).
3. “They did not like to retain God in their knowledge… be haters of God” (v.28-30).
C. Men’s sins in the second aspect ---- unrighteousness… in unrighteousness:
1. “In the lusts of their hearts vile passions” (V.24, 26-27);
2. “A debased mind…do those things which are not fitting” (v.28-31);
3. “Not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (v.32)
The Proof of God’s Existence
A. Men’s hearts proves God’s existence (v.19).
B. The creation of the world proves God’s existence (v.20).
The Sins of Men
A. The basic reasons for men’s being condemned ---- reject God:
1. Men denied God’s manifestation in them (v.19).
2. Men denied God’s manifestation in the creation of the world (v.20).
3. Men ignored God’s true and glorious nature (v.21-25).
B. The sinful facts of men in conduct ---- sin against God:
1. The vileness of lusts (v.26-27);
2. The debasement of mind (v.28-29);
3. The corruption of conduct (v.30-31);
C. The result of men’s sins ---- being judged by God (v.32);
The Sins of Ungodliness
A. The first time ---- because men changed the glory of the incorruptible God into idols ---- God gave them up to the lusts of their hearts (v.21-24);
B. The second time ---- because men did not worship or serve the Creator, ---- God gave them up to vile passions (v.25-26).
C. The third time ---- because men did not like to retain God in their knowledge ---- God gave them over to a debased mind (v.28).
The Sins of Unrighteousness
A. Between men and women ---- the vileness of lusts (v.26-27);
B. Among men themselves ---- the debasement of mind (v.28-29);
C. In one’s conduct ---- the corruption of deeds (v.30-32);
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Mary Zhou