NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY
Dr. Robert R. Seyda
EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS
SUMMARY OF CHAPTER ONE
Paul is writing from Corinth to a congregation he had never visited and a church he did not start, nor was it the product of another Apostle’s ministry. But it is evident from the tenor of his writing that he did have some familiarity with several people who were part of this body of Christ in the capitol city of Rome. Instead of beginning the letter with his Jewish pedigree, Paul initiates the conversation with an open and unapologetic claim that the message he had to share was one verified by the Jewish prophets of old: That the Jesus he preached was not only a descendant of King David but the Son of God. Furthermore, because God sent His only Son into the world, he wanted people like Paul to spread the word that salvation is available to all through His grace in a second covenant.
He goes on to share the burden of his heart to visit this great city and share some spiritual gifts with them that God had given him through the Holy Spirit. But above all, to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of which he was not ashamed. This Gospel was so powerful that it was intended not only for the Jews but for every person around the world. Everyone, especially the Jews, was trying their best to get right with God and stay right with Him. And Paul wanted them to know that this could never be accomplished without receiving and believing in the Gospel given to him by Christ. No longer was God pleased with those who tried to get to heaven on their own. There was only one path, and that was to walk by faith in the One who died for all.
Paul spends the rest of this chapter explaining why the Gospel was so important. God despised wicked and evil behavior, whether or not practiced by the enlightened Jews or the barbarous heathens. And even though God had blessed the people of Israel with the teachings of Moses and the commandments, the heathens were also without excuse because God had also revealed Himself to them through creation. Who could look up at the stars at night, and then around them at the beauty of the fauna and flora during the day and not be impressed with its complexity and creativity? But instead of seeking the One who made all these things, they rather decided to worship the objects they saw, even going so far as to fashion out of wood, metal, silver, and gold, statues that resembled the gods of their imagination. Once these things were made, then the heathens began to worship them as though they were bowing before a real God.
As a result, says Paul, things only got worse. They not only wallow in all types of immoral activities, but they excelled in greed, depravity, envy, murder, strife, deceit, insolence, arrogance, boastfulness, godlessness, and lawlessness, but they promoted and encouraged those who did. It got so bad that they repressed everything they knew that was correct and godly until all that once was bad became good, and all that was wrong became right. But Paul is not finished. In the next chapter he calls into account all those who judge the heathens for their debauchery and revelry, yet practiced some of the same things under the false impression that because they claimed to know God, it was different.
God bless all of you who have allowed God to instill a love for His Word in your hearts and minds, and are committed to being the kind of person King David spoke of in Psalm 1. May the Lord bless you and inspire you to go even deeper in His Word and higher in your understanding.