Notes on Romans

Notes on Romans


Word Studies Expository Studies

Below are notes from a group Bible study going through the book of Romans. These are my private notes, so they may not be as polished as notes created for traditional publication. In the study the text is considered from multiple translations, but for simplicity of coding and to avoid the overuse of a single copyrighted text, the Bible popups below are in different translations for various chapters.

The following chapters are currently available:
Romans 1: Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
Romans 2: Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
Romans 3: Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
Romans 4: Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
Romans 5: New King James (NKJ)
Romans 6: New King James (NKJ)
Romans 7: New King James (NKJ)
Romans 8: Berean Study Bible (BSB)
Romans 9: Berean Study Bible (BSB)
Romans 10: New Living Translation, 2004/2015 (NLT'04/'15)
Romans 11: New Living Translation, 2004/2015 (NLT'04/'15)
Romans 12: The New American Standard Bible, 2020 (NASB'20)
Romans 13: The New American Standard Bible, 2020 (NASB'20)
Romans 14: New International Version, 2011 (NIV'11)
Romans 15: New International Version, 2011 (NIV'11)
Romans 16: New International Version, 2011 (NIV'11)

Romans 1

Romans 1:1Romans 1:1 (CSB)
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God —
Paul identifies himself from the start, and then lays out who he, by inspiration of the Spirit, sees himself to be. Before anything else, he is a doulos (Strong's G1401), which is translated as "servant" in the ESV, NIV, KJV, CSB, BSB, RSV, NRSV, ISV, WEB, NHEB, and YLT; "slave" in the NET; "bond-servant" in the NASB, NKJ, and AMP; and "devoted slave" in the Message paraphrase. The Message may be the best translation, followed by the NET, as a doulos was indeed a slave, but in the case of Paul, we know he was a devoted slave.

From RC Sproul: The Greek word Paul used here is doulos. A doulos was not a hired servant who could come and go as he pleased. A doulos was a person who had been purchased, and once purchased he became his master’s possession.

It is the same word used in 1 Corinthians 7:211 Corinthians 7:21 (CSB)
Were you called while a slave? Don’t let it concern you. But if you can become free, by all means take the opportunity.
, which shows that doulos is the opposite of one who is a free man. Similar comparisons are seen in 1 Corinthians 12:131 Corinthians 12:13 (CSB)
For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free — and we were all given one Spirit to drink.
; Galatians 3:28Galatians 3:28 (CSB)
There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus.
; Ephesians 6:8Ephesians 6:8 (CSB)
knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord.
; Colossians 3:11Colossians 3:11 (CSB)
In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.
; Revelation 6:15, 13:16, 19:18Revelation 6:15, 13:16, 19:18 (CSB)
6:15Then the kings of the earth, the nobles, the generals, the rich, the powerful, and every slave and free person hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains.
13:16 And it makes everyone — small and great, rich and poor, free and slave — to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead,
19:18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of military commanders, the flesh of the mighty, the flesh of horses and of their riders, and the flesh of everyone, both free and slave, small and great.”
.

It is the same word use in Matthew 10:24Matthew 10:24 (CSB)
A disciple is not above his teacher, or a slave above his master.
which contrasts the slave to the master. While some translations obfuscate the original Greek for doulos, this contrast is also seen in Matthew 13:27Matthew 13:27 (CSB)
The landowner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from? ’
; Luke 12:46Luke 12:46 (CSB)
that servant’s master will come on a day he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unfaithful.
; John 15:15John 15:15 (CSB)
I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father.
; Ephesians 6:5Ephesians 6:5 (CSB)
Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as you would Christ.
; Colossians 3:22, 4:1Colossians 3:22, 4:1 (CSB)
3:22 Slaves, obey your human masters in everything. Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.
4:1 Masters, deal with your slaves justly and fairly, since you know that you too have a Master in heaven.
; 1 Timothy 6:11 Timothy 6:1 (CSB)
All who are under the yoke as slaves should regard their own masters as worthy of all respect, so that God’s name and his teaching will not be blasphemed.
; Titus 2:9Titus 2:9 (CSB)
Slaves are to submit to their masters in everything, and to be well-pleasing, not talking back
.

We were bought by Jesus, so we should not become slaves of men: 1 Corinthians 7:231 Corinthians 7:23 (CSB)
You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of people.
. Our slavery to sin is the same word: John 8:34John 8:34 (CSB)
Jesus responded, “Truly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.
; Romans 6:17, 20Romans 6:17, 20 (CSB)
But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching to which you were handed over... For when you were slaves of sin, you were free with regard to righteousness.
; 2 Peter 2:192 Peter 2:19 (CSB)
They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.
.

While Jesus said he no longer called his disciples slaves, it was not because they were "free" but because he told them what he was doing (see John 15:15John 15:15 (CSB)
I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father.
However, in the same discourse, Jesus goes on to describe their relationship as that of a slave to a master (See John 15:20John 15:20 (CSB)
Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
). Additionally, the epistle writers regularly referred to themselves as slaves: Romans 1:1Romans 1:1 (CSB)
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God — 
; Galatians 1:10Galatians 1:10 (CSB)
For am I now trying to persuade people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
; Philippians 1:1Philippians 1:1 (CSB)
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus: To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons.
; 2 Timothy 2:242 Timothy 2:24 (CSB)
The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient,
; Titus 1:1Titus 1:1 (CSB)
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness,
; James 1:1James 1:1 (CSB)
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: To the twelve tribes dispersed abroad. Greetings.
; 2 Peter 1:12 Peter 1:1 (CSB)
Simeon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ: To those who have received a faith equal to ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.
; Jude 1:1Jude 1:1 (CSB)
Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James: To those who are the called, loved by God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ.
. These greetings fly in the face of those who take Jesus words of John 15:15John 15:15 (CSB)
I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father.
and try to say we are not slaves. Jesus didn't even say we are not slaves... he said he didn't call his disciples slaves because he told his disciples what the Father had told him. It is possible for slaves to be friends with their masters.

Next, Paul states he is called to be an apostle - which he seems to define as one set apart for the gospel of God, through him and on behalf of his name. Acts 1:20-26Acts 1:20-26 (CSB)
“For it is written in the Book of Psalms: Let his dwelling become desolate; let no one live in it; and Let someone else take his position. “Therefore, from among the men who have accompanied us during the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us —  beginning from the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us — from among these, it is necessary that one become a witness with us of his resurrection.” So they proposed two: Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, “You, Lord, know everyone’s hearts; show which of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry that Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias and he was added to the eleven apostles.
sets up the Spirit's thinking for the choosing of an apostle (see also 1 Corinthians 9:1, 15:8-91 Corinthians 9:1, 15:8-9 (CSB)
9:1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?
15:8-9 Last of all, as to one born at the wrong time, he also appeared to me. For I am the least of the apostles, not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
). They needed to have seen or been with Jesus, have been witness to the resurrected Jesus, and have been chosen by Jesus. Paul is a bit atypical as he did not participate in the earthly ministry of Jesus, but he did witness the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus (See Acts 9:1-19). Jesus also says in Acts 9:16Acts 9:16 (CSB)
I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
that He would show Paul how much Paul would have to suffer for His name, suggesting that Paul was, like the twelve, taught by Jesus. Apostles were also foundational (Ephesians 2:20Ephesians 2:20 (CSB)
built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.
), and while God can certainly make exceptions, Jesus does not typically appear to men, in person, today (consider 1 Peter 1:81 Peter 1:8 (CSB)
Though you have not seen him, you love him; though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy,
and John 16:10John 16:10 (CSB)
about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me;
). (The reported Muslim appearances leading to salvation seem to be exceptions, but the Muslims often act as persecutors of Christians, much like Paul).

As Paul lays out his thesis in Romans, it's good to remember who Paul had previously been. No one is beyond salvation. Consider Acts 7:58, 8:1-3, 9:1-2Acts 7:58, 8:1-3, 9:1-2 (CSB)
7:58 They dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. And the witnesses laid their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.
8:1-3 Saul agreed with putting him to death. On that day a severe persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the land of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen and mourned deeply over him. Saul, however, was ravaging the church. He would enter house after house, drag off men and women, and put them in prison.
9:1-2 Now Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. He went to the high priest and requested letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
; 1 Corinthians 15:91 Corinthians 15:9 (CSB)
For I am the least of the apostles, not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
; 1 Timothy 1:13-151 Timothy 1:13-15 (CSB)
even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an arrogant man. But I received mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” — and I am the worst of them.
.

Sometimes Christians may see themselves as separated "from" the world and from sin, which is true - but the greater point of Paul was that he was separated unto or set apart for the gospel of God - which was his first proclamation everywhere he went (Romans 1:16Romans 1:16 (CSB)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.
; 1 Corinthians 1:17-18, 2:1-2, 9:16, 15:1-41 Corinthians 1:17-18, 2:1-2, 9:16, 15:1-4 (CSB)
1:17-18 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ will not be emptied of its effect. For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved.
2:1-2 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, announcing the mystery of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
9:16 For if I preach the gospel, I have no reason to boast, because I am compelled to preach — and woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
15:1-4 Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand and by which you are being saved, if you hold to the message I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
; Ephesians 6:19-20Ephesians 6:19-20 (CSB)
Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough to speak about it as I should.
; Acts 20:21, 24Acts 20:21, 24 (CSB)
20:21 I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.
20:42 But I consider my life of no value to myself; my purpose is to finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.
).

Romans 1:2Romans 1:2 (CSB)
which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures — 
The gospel Paul has been set apart for is the gospel has been promised beforehand in the scriptures. It is not a new message - it is an unveiled message. The message of the Old Testament and the New Testament are the same message. The gospel was first proclaimed in Genesis along with the curse (See Genesis 3:14-15Genesis 3:14-15 (CSB)
So the Lord God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than any livestock and more than any wild animal. You will move on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.
). In being bruised for our sins, Jesus crushed Satan. Abraham was promised that he would be the father of many nations, not just the one nation of the Israelites (Galatians 3:8Galatians 3:8 (CSB)
Now the Scripture saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and proclaimed the gospel ahead of time to Abraham, saying, All the nations will be blessed through you.
). See also Luke 24:27Luke 24:27 (CSB)
Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures.
.

Romans 1:3Romans 1:3 (CSB)
concerning his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was a descendant of David according to the flesh
Paul declares that Jesus is God's son but was a descendant of David according to the flesh (See also 1 Corinthians 15:451 Corinthians 15:45 (CSB)
So it is written, The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
- Henry Morris, in his study bible, argues that the prepared egg implanted into Mary was made fully by God). It was from the line of David that the Messiah was to come. Note 1 Chronicles 17:111 Chronicles 17:11 (CSB)
When your time comes to be with your ancestors, I will raise up after you your descendant, who is one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom.
; Psalms 89:4Psalms 89:4 (CSB)
‘I will establish your offspring forever and build up your throne for all generations.’ ” Selah
; Isaiah 9:7, 16:5Isaiah 9:7, 16:5 (CSB)
9:7 The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Armies will accomplish this.
16:5 a throne will be established in love, and one will sit on it faithfully in the tent of David, judging and pursuing what is right, quick to execute justice.
; Jeremiah 23:5Jeremiah 23:5 (CSB)
“Look, the days are coming” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “when I will raise up a Righteous Branch for David. He will reign wisely as king and administer justice and righteousness in the land.
. The promised good news/gospel of verse 2Romans 1:2 (CSB)
which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures — 
is concerning God's Son in verse 3Romans 1:3 (CSB)
concerning his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was a descendant of David according to the flesh
; anything else is likely not the gospel.

Romans 1:4Romans 1:4 (CSB)
and was appointed to be the powerful Son of God according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection of the dead.
It was the resurrection that ultimately declared Jesus to be the Son of God; with no resurrection, our faith is worthless (also stated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:12-191 Corinthians 15:12-19 (CSB)
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say, “There is no resurrection of the dead”? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain, and so is your faith. Moreover, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified wrongly about God that he raised up Christ — whom he did not raise up, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Those, then, who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.
). Jesus said the resurrection would be the only sign given in Matthew 12:38-40Matthew 12:38-40 (CSB)
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” He answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.
and John 2:18-21John 2:18-21 (CSB)
So the Jews replied to him, “What sign will you show us for doing these things? ” Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up in three days.” Therefore the Jews said, “This temple took forty-six years to build, and will you raise it up in three days? ” But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
. Note the humanity of Jesus in verse 3Romans 1:3 (CSB)
concerning his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was a descendant of David according to the flesh
(son of David) and the deity in verse 4Romans 1:4 (CSB)
and was appointed to be the powerful Son of God according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection of the dead.
(son of God).

The resurrection did not make Jesus the son of God. The NET Bible study note is helpful here:

Appointed the Son-of-God-in-power. Most translations render the Greek participle ὁρισθέντος (horisthentos, from ὁρίζω, horizō) “declared” or “designated” in order to avoid the possible interpretation that Jesus was appointed the Son of God by the resurrection. However, the Greek term ὁρίζω is used eight times in the NT, and it always has the meaning “to determine, appoint.” Paul is not saying that Jesus was appointed the “Son of God by the resurrection” but “Son-of-God-in-power by the resurrection,” as indicated by the hyphenation. He was born in weakness in human flesh (with respect to the flesh, v. 3) and he was raised with power. This is similar to Matthew 28:18Matthew 28:18 (CSB)
Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.
where Jesus told his disciples after the resurrection, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

Romans 1:5Romans 1:5 (CSB)
Through him we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the Gentiles,
So Paul has the Gospel of separation and a calling - a calling to call Gentiles to obedience that comes from faith. Our calling is to obedience - but not obedience spearheaded by our will (this will fail, as we will see in Romans), but an obedience that comes through faith of belonging to Jesus Christ (Romans 1:5-6Romans 1:5-6 (CSB)
Through him we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the Gentiles, including you who are also called by Jesus Christ.
). All of us who are called belong to Jesus Christ.

Everything we do should be for the glory of his name. His name alone should be motivation for us. Consider 1 Corinthians 10:311 Corinthians 10:31 (CSB)
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.
.

Apostleship = Strong's G651. Apostle in verse 1 = Strong's G652. Both are from Strong's G649. Sometimes a noun is just a noun and not a designation or title.

Romans 1:7Romans 1:7 (CSB)
To all who are in Rome, loved by God, called as saints. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace are typical of Jewish greetings, and are used by Paul in many of his letters: Galatians 1:3Galatians 1:3 (CSB)
Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ,
; Philippians 1:2Philippians 1:2 (CSB)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
; 2 Timothy 1:22 Timothy 1:2 (CSB)
To Timothy, my dearly loved son. Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
; Titus 1:4Titus 1:4 (CSB)
To Titus, my true son in our common faith. Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
. Also used by Peter (2 Peter 1:22 Peter 1:2 (CSB)
May grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
) and Jude (Jude 1:2Jude 1:2 (CSB)
May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
). Paul's greeting is to those loved by God and called to be saints - not to the world at large. The call to the world at large is to repent and believe. See Acts 17:30Acts 17:30 (CSB)
“Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent,
, 1 John 3:231 John 3:23 (CSB)
Now this is his command: that we believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another as he commanded us.
.

Romans 1:8Romans 1:8 (CSB)
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you because the news of your faith is being reported in all the world.
While our individual faith may not be proclaimed beyond our small circles, the faith of the church should be proclaimed throughout the whole world. This would make a good point of prayer. The word for "world" not only can mean the whole of the earth, but the universe as well (Strong's G2889). At the time of Paul's writing, though, the concept may have been the whole known world (the Mediterranean world). Paul may have been expanding his example as much as possible.

Romans 1:9Romans 1:9 (CSB)
God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in telling the good news about his Son — that I constantly mention you,
Like Paul's, our prayers should be "without ceasing" even if it only to "make mention." (NKJ). In admonishing others to put on the armor of God, he requested such prayer for the saints (See Ephesians 6:14-20Ephesians 6:14-20 (CSB)
Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit — which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough to speak about it as I should.
, especially Ephesians 6:18-19Ephesians 6:18-19 (CSB)
Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.
).

Romans 1:9-10Romans 1:9-10 (CSB)
God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in telling the good news about his Son — that I constantly mention you, always asking in my prayers that if it is somehow in God’s will, I may now at last succeed in coming to you.
Paul uses God as a witness for his words, showing the sincerity of his prayer and desire to visit Rome. We have to realize this in light of Matthew 5:34-37Matthew 5:34-37 (CSB)
But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God’s throne; or by the earth, because it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. Do not swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. But let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ mean ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.
and James 5:12James 5:12 (CSB)
Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “yes” mean “yes,” and your “no” mean “no,” so that you won’t fall under judgment.
. Paul's prayers were answered, though he was in chains.

Romans 1:10Romans 1:10 (CSB)
always asking in my prayers that if it is somehow in God’s will, I may now at last succeed in coming to you.
While some say that praying "if it be thy will" shows a lack of faith, Jesus did not avoid praying this way in the garden (Luke 22:42Luke 22:42 (CSB)
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me — nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
) and Paul here prays, hoping that the answer is within the will of God. See also Jesus with the leper in Mark 1:40-41Mark 1:40-41 (CSB)
Then a man with leprosy came to him and, on his knees, begged him, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched him. “I am willing,” he told him. “Be made clean.”
.

Romans 1:11-12Romans 1:11-12 (CSB)
For I want very much to see you, so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, to be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
Paul desired to impart a spiritual gift. Some may interpret this as a miraculous gift given by the laying on of hands, but Paul defines this gift in verse 12Romans 1:12 (CSB)
that is, to be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
... "that is..." that Paul and the Romans might be mutually encouraged by each other's faith. The gift Paul wanted to share was the sharing of their testimonies and faith. As Paul states in verse 11Romans 1:11 (CSB)
For I want very much to see you, so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you,
, this gift will strengthen us.

Romans 1:14Romans 1:14 (CSB)
I am obligated both to Greeks and barbarians, both to the wise and the foolish.
Paul didn't reserve his message or desire for comradery to the elite, but he felt indebted to all. He felt he had a "gospel debt" to preach the gospel to all.

Romans 1:15Romans 1:15 (CSB)
So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
Paul was eager to preach the gospel to those who already had the gospel. The good news always bears repeating. Why? For it reveals the righteousness of God that comes by faith. If this has become boring to us, we must ask ourselves... why.

In Mark 1:1Mark 1:1 (CSB)
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
, the narrative he wrote was called the beginning of the gospel of Jesus, so the gospel can be the story of Jesus and by connection, the things Jesus taught. Jesus regularly proclaimed the kingdom of God, both in his direct messages and in his parables (Matthew 6:33, 12:28, 19:24Matthew 6:33, 12:28, 19:24 (CSB)
6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.
12:28 If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
19:24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.
; Mark 1:15, 4:11, 26, 30Mark 1:15, 4:11, 26, 30 (CSB)
1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news! ”
4:11 He answered them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to those outside, everything comes in parables
4:26 The kingdom of God is like this,” he said. “A man scatters seed on the ground.
4:30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use to describe it?
, etc.). In other words, Jesus taught the gospel, which was about the Kingdom of God... Everything he taught pointed to the kingdom. So much of what is said to be the "gospel" today points to us and what we want and desire and can have if we accept Jesus.

Romans 1:16Romans 1:16 (CSB)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.
For Ashamed, see Luke 9:26Luke 9:26 (CSB)
For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and that of the Father and the holy angels.
and 2 Timothy 1:7-9, 122 Timothy 1:7-9, 12 (CSB)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment. So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me his prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God. He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began... and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.
. For the power of God, see 1 Corinthians 1:181 Corinthians 1:18 (CSB)
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved.
.

Romans 1:16-17Romans 1:16-17 (CSB)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.
The gospel of God is tied with the righteousness of God; the two cannot be separated, as much as the "church" tries to separate them today. The gospel is also the power of God to salvation - no other message has the power of the gospel. No feel-good message has power. You may get a big church, but it'll be a big church where the power of God for salvation has not been able to do its work.

The Just shall live by faith... a quote from Habakkuk 2:4Habakkuk 2:4 (CSB)
Look, his ego is inflated; he is without integrity. But the righteous one will live by his faith.
. It is also used in Galatians 3:11Galatians 3:11 (CSB)
Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith.
and Hebrews 10:38Hebrews 10:38 (CSB)
But my righteous one will live by faith; and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him.
. In the original context, Habakkuk was frustrated as he watched the pagans winning against Israel. He cried out to God, and God told him to be patient, for the wicked will not win in the end and the righteous will live in faith of this truth.

In the rest of the book of Romans, Paul will open up what it means to live by faith in God. As stated by RC Sproul in his commentary on Romans:

When we do not trust God, it is because we transfer to him our own corrupt qualities, but God does not have any of those corrupt qualities. You can trust him with your life, and that is the theme of this epistle—the just shall live by faith—and from that vantage point, Paul opens up the depths and the riches of the whole gospel for the people of God.

Romans 1:18Romans 1:18 (CSB)
For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth,
Just after Paul mentioned the righteousness of God and living by faith, he abruptly moves to the topic of the wrath of God against all that is not righteousness. The first example of the sin of the people is "suppressing the truth."

Romans 1:19-20Romans 1:19-20 (CSB)
since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse.
Nature makes God's existence and attributes plain. The atheist who says there is no evidence for God is denying/suppressing the truth. We must believe God's word about this. That atheist will be without excuse. Psalms 19:1-4Psalms 19:1-4 (CSB)
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands. Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge. There is no speech; there are no words; their voice is not heard. Their message has gone out to the whole earth, and their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun.
. (Ps 19 as a whole shows God's revelation in creation (Psalms 19:1-6Psalms 19:1-6 (CSB)
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands. Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge. There is no speech; there are no words; their voice is not heard. Their message has gone out to the whole earth, and their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming from his home; it rejoices like an athlete running a course. It rises from one end of the heavens and circles to their other end; nothing is hidden from its heat.
) and in his Word (Psalms 19:7-11Psalms 19:7-11 (CSB)
The instruction of the Lord is perfect, renewing one’s life; the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise. The precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad; the command of the Lord is radiant, making the eyes light up. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are reliable and altogether righteous. They are more desirable than gold — than an abundance of pure gold; and sweeter than honey dripping from a honeycomb. In addition, your servant is warned by them, and in keeping them there is an abundant reward.
).

Romans 1:20Romans 1:20 (CSB)
For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse.
"The things that are made" from the NKJ is from the Greek Strong's G4161 a word only used here and in Ephesians 2:10Ephesians 2:10 (CSB)
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.
. Here, it describes the creation apart from man - one of God's masterpieces, and in Ephesians, it describes us, Made in Christ (saved people) - the other of God's masterpieces.

Romans 1:21Romans 1:21 (CSB)
For though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became worthless, and their senseless hearts were darkened.
For those who have not heard the gospel, we know that God has made himself plain to them so that they are without excuse. We don't know how God will judge those who have not heard the gospel, but we know he is just. For the unbeliever/untaught, giving thanks to the obvious creator may be a step on the path of seeking the true God (and if he is sought, he will be found). See Deuteronomy 4:29Deuteronomy 4:29 (CSB)
But from there, you will search for the Lord your God, and you will find him when you seek him with all your heart and all your soul.
; 2 Chronicles 15:22 Chronicles 15:2 (CSB)
So he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Asa and all Judah and Benjamin, hear me. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you abandon him, he will abandon you.
; Proverbs 8:17Proverbs 8:17 (CSB)
I love those who love me, and those who search for me find me.
; Jeremiah 29:13Jeremiah 29:13 (CSB)
You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.
, Luke 11:9Luke 11:9 (CSB)
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you.
.

Nature is God's wisdom, calling to all of humanity to seek God. Mankind ignores God, but calls to him when calamity strikes - this does not work when such calling is due to the calamity and not due to a sincere heart to know God: Note Proverbs 1:20-33Proverbs 1:20-33 (CSB)
Wisdom calls out in the street; she makes her voice heard in the public squares. She cries out above the commotion; she speaks at the entrance of the city gates: “How long, inexperienced ones, will you love ignorance? How long will you mockers enjoy mocking and you fools hate knowledge? If you respond to my warning, then I will pour out my spirit on you and teach you my words. Since I called out and you refused, extended my hand and no one paid attention, since you neglected all my counsel and did not accept my correction, I, in turn, will laugh at your calamity. I will mock when terror strikes you, when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when trouble and stress overcome you. Then they will call me, but I won’t answer; they will search for me, but won’t find me. Because they hated knowledge, didn’t choose to fear the Lord, were not interested in my counsel, and rejected all my correction, they will eat the fruit of their way and be glutted with their own schemes. For the apostasy of the inexperienced will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them. But whoever listens to me will live securely and be undisturbed by the dread of danger.”
.

Romans 1:22Romans 1:22 (CSB)
Claiming to be wise, they became fools
See Psalms 14:1Psalms 14:1 (CSB)
The fool says in his heart, “There’s no God.” They are corrupt; they do vile deeds. There is no one who does good.
.

Romans 1:23, 25Romans 1:23, 25 (CSB)
and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles... They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served what has been created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.
The truth of God's existence is so within us that when we suppress the truth of God, our innate desire to worship still comes out, and we worship images we make and images that we can control. To us, this is better than the God we can not control. See Psalms 106:20Psalms 106:20 (CSB)
They exchanged their glory for the image of a grass-eating ox.
, Acts 17:29Acts 17:29 (CSB)
Since, then, we are God’s offspring, we shouldn’t think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image fashioned by human art and imagination.
.

At this point, though, worship is not specified. We are merely giving glory to the creature that is due the creator. The false theory of evolution does this.

Romans 1:24-28Romans 1:24-28 (CSB)
Therefore God delivered them over in the desires of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served what has been created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen. For this reason God delivered them over to disgraceful passions. Their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. The men in the same way also left natural relations with women and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error. And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a corrupt mind so that they do what is not right.
God gives us over to the desires of our hearts (v. 24Romans 1:24 (CSB)
Therefore God delivered them over in the desires of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves.
), to dishonorable passions (v. 26Romans 1:26 (CSB)
For this reason God delivered them over to disgraceful passions. Their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.
) and to a depraved mind (v. 28Romans 1:28 (CSB)
And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a corrupt mind so that they do what is not right.
). God is infinite, but his mercy is not (despite what people may say). There will come a time when he will no longer strive with man, and he will give them over to their sins. At the final judgment at the second coming, there will no longer be a time for mercy. In theological terms, the "giving over" is known as "Judicial Abandonment." May we pray that God never give us over to our sins, just as Jesus taught in the Lord's prayer (Matthew 6:13Matthew 6:13 (CSB)
And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
and Luke 11:4Luke 11:4 (CSB)
And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone in debt to us. And do not bring us into temptation.”
). Consider Hosea 4, specifically Hosea 4:6Hosea 4:6 (CSB)
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from serving as my priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your sons.
. Also Psalms 81:11-12Psalms 81:11-12 (CSB)
“But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel did not obey me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own plans.
.

Romans 1:25Romans 1:25 (CSB)
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served what has been created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.
Did Paul need to stop and give some praise in the midst of his writing about the degradation of the people?

Romans 1:26Romans 1:26 (CSB)
For this reason God delivered them over to disgraceful passions. Their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s Commentary on Whole Bible, in noting women mentioned first (lesbianism), says "that sex whose priceless jewel and fairest ornament is modesty, and which, when that is once lost, not only becomes more shameless than the other sex, but lives henceforth only to drag the other sex down to its own level..."

For those who try to claim that Romans 1:26-27Romans 1:26-27 (CSB)
For this reason God delivered them over to disgraceful passions. Their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. The men in the same way also left natural relations with women and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error.
speaks only to those who go against their personal nature, Matthew 19:4-5Matthew 19:4-5 (CSB)
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that he who created them in the beginning made them male and female, and he also said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?
, 1 Corinthians 11:91 Corinthians 11:9 (CSB)
Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man.
and Hebrews 13:4Hebrews 13:4 (CSB)
Marriage is to be honored by all and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers.
makes this false interpretation difficult.

Romans 1:28Romans 1:28 (CSB)
And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a corrupt mind so that they do what is not right.
There is alliteration in the original Greek here... not exactly, as the exact translation isn't alliterative in English, but something similar to "And even as they reprobated retaining God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind" (JFB). Another alliteration is found in verse 31Romans 1:31 (CSB)
senseless, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful.
.

Genesis 6:3Genesis 6:3 (CSB)
And the Lord said, “My Spirit will not remain with mankind forever, because they are corrupt. Their days will be 120 years.”
notes that God will not always strive with man (this was said 120 years before the flood - showing that God will eventually let judgment come) (some mistake this verse to mean man should live to be 120 years old).

Romans 1:29-31Romans 1:29-31 (CSB)
They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, senseless, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful.
These are the things that come from the heart of man (See Mark 7:21-23Mark 7:21-23 (CSB)
For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, self-indulgence, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a person.”
). Other lists of vices can be found in Paul's writings: 1 Corinthians 6:9-101 Corinthians 6:9-10 (CSB)
Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or males who have sex with males, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom.
; Galatians 5:19-21Galatians 5:19-21 (CSB)
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things — as I warned you before — that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
; 1 Timothy 1:9-101 Timothy 1:9-10 (CSB)
We know that the law is not meant for a righteous person, but for the lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinful, for the unholy and irreverent, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral and males who have sex with males, for slave traders, liars, perjurers, and for whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching
; 2 Timothy 3:2-42 Timothy 3:2-4 (CSB)
For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
.

Romans 1:32Romans 1:32 (CSB)
Although they know God’s just sentence — that those who practice such things deserve to die — they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.
Worthy of death... A preview of Good News - Romans 5:6-9, 6:23Romans 5:6-9, 6:23 (CSB)
5:6-9 For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person — though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. How much more then, since we have now been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from wrath.
6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
,

An example of people showing they know sin is worthy of death is shown in the reaction of the islanders in Acts 28:1-4Acts 28:1-4 (CSB)
Once safely ashore, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The local people showed us extraordinary kindness. They lit a fire and took us all in, since it was raining and cold. As Paul gathered a bundle of brushwood and put it on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. When the local people saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “This man, no doubt, is a murderer. Even though he has escaped the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.”
.

Romans 1:21-32Romans 1:21-32 (CSB)
For though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became worthless, and their senseless hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles. Therefore God delivered them over in the desires of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served what has been created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen. For this reason God delivered them over to disgraceful passions. Their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. The men in the same way also left natural relations with women and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error. And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a corrupt mind so that they do what is not right. They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, senseless, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. Although they know God’s just sentence — that those who practice such things deserve to die — they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.
Here Paul shows the process of the fall of a people/nation/tribe/etc. Note this is all to a people, not an individual. The steps are as follows:

  1. Despite God's revelation we do not give God glory or thanksgiving. For this, we become futile in our thinking, claiming wisdom, but becoming fools.
  2. Since we are not giving glory to God, we give glory to something else (images of mortal man and animals). It is as if we are designed to give glory. Because of this, God gives us over to the desires of our hearts.
  3. Sexual sin (non-specific).
  4. In addition to giving glory, we now worship and serve the creature rather than God. With this, God gives us over even more - to dishonorable passions.
  5. Lesbianism and homosexuality. For this, we receive in ourselves the due penalty (STDs). With this, God gives us over even more - to a depraved mind to do what should not be done.
  6. We become full of wickedness, evil greed and depravity (some examples are envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossiping, slander, God-hating, being insolent, arrogant, and boastful, inventing new forms of evil, disobeying parents, being senseless, faithless, heartless and without mercy).
  7. All the while, we still know God's righteous decree and that doing the above is worthy of death, but we continue and approve those who practice the above sins.

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Romans 2

In the previous chapter, Paul brought hopeless accusation against all of humanity for denying the God obvious to them in nature. Now Paul turns to those with the law. Paul shows their equally sinful state before God. Jews of the time thought that because they had the law and the gentiles did not, they were okay with God, but Paul shows it's not knowing the law that brings justification, but doing the law.

Romans 2:1Romans 2:1 (CSB)
Therefore, every one of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things.
The "Therefore, every one of you" of verse 1Romans 2:1 (CSB)
Therefore, every one of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things.
may be the ones who have denied God and are sinning from the previous sentences in Romans 1; later in this chapter Paul will be speaking specifically to the Jews. Whether Paul here is speaking to the previously mentioned people or more to the Jews, or even simply to people who consider themselves morally superior, the warning refers to people who are passing judgment while doing the very same things they are judging. Paul may be speaking more towards Jews about both Jewish and Gentile judgment. Note the "O Man" comment for verse 3Romans 2:3 (CSB)
Do you think — anyone of you who judges those who do such things yet do the same — that you will escape God’s judgment?
, below.

The "Therefore" may reference back to Romans 1:18-19Romans 1:18-19 (CSB)
For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them.
, which set up the conversation of our guilt. It may reference the second half of chapter 1. The change in subject from them to a singular "you" makes determination difficult.

The "you" in verses Romans 2:1-5Romans 2:1-5 (CSB)
Therefore, every one of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is based on the truth. Do you think — anyone of you who judges those who do such things yet do the same — that you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you despise the riches of his kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Because of your hardened and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed.
and Romans 2:17-29Romans 2:17-29 (CSB)
Now if you call yourself a Jew, and rely on the law, and boast in God, and know his will, and approve the things that are superior, being instructed from the law, and if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light to those in darkness, an instructor of the ignorant, a teacher of the immature, having the embodiment of knowledge and truth in the law —  you then, who teach another, don’t you teach yourself? You who preach, “You must not steal” — do you steal? You who say, “You must not commit adultery” — do you commit adultery? You who detest idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? For, as it is written: The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you. Circumcision benefits you if you observe the law, but if you are a lawbreaker, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So if an uncircumcised man keeps the law’s requirements, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? A man who is physically uncircumcised, but who keeps the law, will judge you who are a lawbreaker in spite of having the letter of the law and circumcision. For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart — by the Spirit, not the letter. That person’s praise is not from people but from God.
below is singular, though, so he's likely not speaking to all of Jewish people (or all of people), but to those for whom what he says would be appropriate. The style of speech is a diatribe. It is an conversation with an imagined opponent.

Contrary to some preaching, judging another does not cause you to do the same things... the rebuke is for judging while doing the same things (per verse 3Romans 2:3 (CSB)
Do you think — anyone of you who judges those who do such things yet do the same — that you will escape God’s judgment?
). In this transition verse, moving from speaking about the fall of a people for denying the God made obvious to them in nature, Paul could have been saying, "You Jews judge the people I have just been speaking about who deny God, but you are guilty too, as you also deny God in what you do - because you rejected Christ."

Hypocrisy is the sin of verse 1Romans 2:1 (CSB)
Therefore, every one of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things.
, and both Jews and non-Jews (self-proclaimed moral people) are capable of the sin of hypocrisy. We condemn ourselves because in judging another, we show that we are aware of the wrongness of the action - the very actions we also are doing.

Biblical examples of such judgmental hypocrisy:
1) Genesis 38:12-26Genesis 38:12-26 (CSB)
After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had finished mourning, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went up to Timnah to his sheepshearers. Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” So she took off her widow’s clothes, veiled her face, covered herself, and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the way to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had grown up, she had not been given to him as a wife. When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. He went over to her and said, “Come, let me sleep with you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, “What will you give me for sleeping with me? ” “I will send you a young goat from my flock,” he replied. But she said, “Only if you leave something with me until you send it.” “What should I give you? ” he asked. She answered, “Your signet ring, your cord, and the staff in your hand.” So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him. She got up and left, then removed her veil and put her widow’s clothes back on. When Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get back the items he had left with the woman, he could not find her. He asked the men of the place, “Where is the cult prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim? ” “There has been no cult prostitute here,” they answered. So the Adullamite returned to Judah, saying, “I couldn’t find her, and besides, the men of the place said, ‘There has been no cult prostitute here.’ ” Judah replied, “Let her keep the items for herself; otherwise we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send this young goat, but you couldn’t find her.” About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law, Tamar, has been acting like a prostitute, and now she is pregnant.” “Bring her out,” Judah said, “and let her be burned to death! ” As she was being brought out, she sent her father-in-law this message: “I am pregnant by the man to whom these items belong.” And she added, “Examine them. Whose signet ring, cord, and staff are these? ” Judah recognized them and said, “She is more in the right than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not know her intimately again.
Judah sleeping with his daughter-in-law Tamar, after not living up to his promise to give his son to her for a husband to raise up heirs to her husband (Judah's older son, who had died).
2) 2 Samuel 12:1-92 Samuel 12:1-9 (CSB)
So the Lord sent Nathan to David. When he arrived, he said to him: There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very large flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing except one small ewe lamb that he had bought. He raised her, and she grew up with him and with his children. From his meager food she would eat, from his cup she would drink, and in his arms she would sleep. She was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man could not bring himself to take one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for his guest. David was infuriated with the man and said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! Because he has done this thing and shown no pity, he must pay four lambs for that lamb.” Nathan replied to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from Saul. I gave your master’s house to you and your master’s wives into your arms, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah, and if that was not enough, I would have given you even more. Why then have you despised the Lord’s command by doing what I consider evil? You struck down Uriah the Hethite with the sword and took his wife as your own wife — you murdered him with the Ammonite’s sword.
David getting mad about the sheep in Nathan's story when it was David himself who had sinned a much greater sin.
3) John 8:1-11John 8:1-11 (CSB)
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he went to the temple again, and all the people were coming to him. He sat down and began to teach them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, making her stand in the center. “Teacher,” they said to him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say? ” They asked this to trap him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse him. Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with his finger. When they persisted in questioning him, he stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then he stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only he was left, with the woman in the center. When Jesus stood up, he said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? ” “No one, Lord,” she answered. “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”]
The woman accused of adultery by the Jews, who realized they too were not without sin.

Romans 2:2Romans 2:2 (CSB)
Now we know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is based on the truth.
God always knows the full truth about every situation. Hebrews 4:12-13Hebrews 4:12-13 (CSB)
For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.

Romans 2:3Romans 2:3 (CSB & ESV)
CSB: Do you think — anyone of you who judges those who do such things yet do the same — that you will escape God’s judgment?
ESV: Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?
Several versions use the phrase "Old man" in this verse (retained in the NKJ/KJ/ESV/NASB-95/LSB/AMP). Per RC. Sproul:

"O man" was a common form of address in antiquity used between Jews. When Paul uses "O man," he is clearly addressing Jewish people.

Because God sees everything, there is no escape from his judgment. A visual example of this is seen in Amos 9:1-3Amos 9:1-3 (CSB)
I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and he said: Strike the capitals of the pillars so that the thresholds shake; knock them down on the heads of all the people. Then I will kill the rest of them with the sword. None of those who flee will get away; none of the fugitives will escape. If they dig down to Sheol, from there my hand will take them; if they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down. If they hide on the top of Carmel, from there I will track them down and seize them; if they conceal themselves from my sight on the sea floor, from there I will command the sea serpent to bite them.
.

Romans 2:4Romans 2:4 (CSB)
Or do you despise the riches of his kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
God's kindness leads us to repentance... his kindness is not so we can have whatever we want, or because he does not see our sin - such a view of God's kindness disregards or holds in contempt the true nature of his kindness, which is patience and longsuffering, that we may have time to repent. We must not think so lightly of God's kindness, or so greatly of ourselves when we think we are getting away with something.

Verse 3Romans 2:3 (CSB)
Do you think — anyone of you who judges those who do such things yet do the same — that you will escape God’s judgment?
showed us we can not run from God. Verse 4Romans 2:4 (ESV)
Or do you despise the riches of his kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
shows us that we must run to God in repentance.

Romans 2:5Romans 2:5 (CSB)
Because of your hardened and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed.
Every sin adds to the bank account of the wrath that is coming. Repentance can clear this account. We should live a life of repentance - not so that we can continually be "re-saved" but because sin damages our relationship with God, and repentance restores that relationship.

Romans 2:6Romans 2:6 (CSB)
He will repay each one according to his works:
God's judgment will be fair - to each according to his deeds. There do seem to be degrees of punishment coming for those who are not saved. Consider Psalms 62:12Psalms 62:12 (CSB)
and faithful love belongs to you, Lord. For you repay each according to his works.
; Proverbs 24:12Proverbs 24:12 (CSB)
If you say, “But we didn’t know about this,” won’t he who weighs hearts consider it? Won’t he who protects your life know? Won’t he repay a person according to his work?
; Jeremiah 17:10, 31:19Jeremiah 17:10, 32:19 (CSB)
17:10 I, the Lord, examine the mind, I test the heart to give to each according to his way, according to what his actions deserve.
32:19 the one great in counsel and powerful in action. Your eyes are on all the ways of the children of men in order to reward each person according to his ways and as the result of his actions.
; Matthew 12:36-37, 16:27Matthew 12:36-37, 16:27 (CSB)
12:36-37 I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will reward each according to what he has done.
; 2 Corinthians 5:102 Corinthians 5:10 (CSB)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
; Revelation 20:12-13, 22:12Revelation 20:12-13, 22:12 (CSB)
20:12-13 I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books. Then the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them; each one was judged according to their works.
22:12 Look, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me to repay each person according to his work.
. Also Luke 12:47-48Luke 12:47-48 (CSB)
And that servant who knew his master’s will and didn’t prepare himself or do it will be severely beaten. But the one who did not know and did what deserved punishment will receive a light beating. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be expected.
.

Romans 2:6-11Romans 2:6-11 (CSB)
He will repay each one according to his works: eternal life to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality; but wrath and anger to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth while obeying unrighteousness. There will be affliction and distress for every human being who does evil, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does what is good, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For there is no favoritism with God.
is a chiasm with an A,B,C,C′,B′,A′ structure. The subject of this section is judgment, not salvation.

A: God will judge everyone equitably (v. 6)
    B: Those who do good will attain eternal life (v. 7)
       C: Those who do evil will suffer wrath (v. 8)
       C′: Wrath for those who do evil (v. 9)
    B′: Glory for those who do good (v. 10)
A′: God judges impartially (v. 11)

Romans 2:6-11Romans 2:6-11 (CSB)
He will repay each one according to his works: eternal life to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality; but wrath and anger to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth while obeying unrighteousness. There will be affliction and distress for every human being who does evil, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does what is good, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For there is no favoritism with God.
There are various possibilities in this section.

1: We can store up good rewards. While justification is by faith alone, we are still told to treasure up things in heaven (Matthew 6:20Matthew 6:20 (CSB)
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.
). Paul often equates faith with obedience (Romans 1:5; 2:25-27Romans 1:5; 2:25-27 (CSB)
1:5 Through him we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the Gentiles,
2:25-27 Circumcision benefits you if you observe the law, but if you are a lawbreaker, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So if an uncircumcised man keeps the law’s requirements, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? A man who is physically uncircumcised, but who keeps the law, will judge you who are a lawbreaker in spite of having the letter of the law and circumcision.
; 6:15-23Romans 6:15-23 (CSB)
What then? Should we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Absolutely not! Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey — either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness? But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching to which you were handed over, and having been set free from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. I am using a human analogy because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free with regard to righteousness. So what fruit was produced then from the things you are now ashamed of? The outcome of those things is death. But now, since you have been set free from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification — and the outcome is eternal life! For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
).

What this section is not saying is that we can earn eternal life by our good works (the book must be read in context). We do earn rewards based on good works and we do show good works as a result of our salvation. Salvation itself though is a result of faith, and only faith. See further in Romans 3:28Romans 3:28 (CSB)
For we conclude that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.
and in Romans 4:5Romans 4:5 (CSB)
But to the one who does not work, but believes on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited for righteousness.
. We need not just repayment for good works we have piled up, but under it all, we must have justification.

Additionally, who really qualifies as good? Consider Romans 3:10, 12, 23Romans 3:10, 12, 23 (CSB)
3:10 as it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one.
12 All have turned away; all alike have become worthless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one.
23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;
. What we might consider goodness is not as good as we think (Isaiah 64:6) and any goodness without faith is not pleasing to God as God's rewards are to those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6Hebrews 11:6 (CSB)
Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
). Once we are saved, the goodness we do is from the working of God (Philippians 2:13Philippians 2:13 (CSB)
For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.
, Ephesians 2:10Ephesians 2:10 (CSB)
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.
).

2: Paul could be making the argument that perfect obedience will save, but that is in the midst of his argument that no one is perfect - thus, this is a legitimate salvation method, but one no one can earn.

Romans 2:12Romans 2:12 (CSB)
For all who sin without the law will also perish without the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.
and onward must not be detached from the previous verses. In isolation, much of Romans can be taken out of context and misused. Verse 12Romans 2:12 (CSB)
For all who sin without the law will also perish without the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.
continues the thought of no favoritism from verse 11Romans 2:11 (CSB)
For there is no favoritism with God.
. Having the law will not save the Jew any more than not having the law will save the Gentile.

Romans 2:13-16Romans 2:13-16 (CSB)
For the hearers of the law are not righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be justified. So, when Gentiles, who do not by nature have the law, do what the law demands, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts. Their consciences confirm this. Their competing thoughts either accuse or even excuse them on the day when God judges what people have kept secret, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus.
This speaks well to the question, "What about that guy in a missing tribe somewhere who never heard the Gospel?" They will be judged by the witness of their consciences.

Romans 2:13Romans 2:13 (CSB)
For the hearers of the law are not righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be justified.
While the doers of the law will be justified, no one but Jesus has or ever will meet this standard. All others have fallen short and thus are not fully "doers of the law." (see Romans 3:10-12Romans 3:10-12 (CSB)
as it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become worthless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one.
). Salvation by doing the law, for humanity, is only a theoretical possibility. The law is an all-or-nothing proposition. Because of this, instead of bringing salvation, it becomes a curse - but Jesus took that curse for us (Galatians 3:10-13Galatians 3:10-13 (CSB)
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, Everyone who does not do everything written in the book of the law is cursed. Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith. But the law is not based on faith; instead, the one who does these things will live by them. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written, Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.
).

Romans 2:14-15Romans 2:14-15 (CSB)
So, when Gentiles, who do not by nature have the law, do what the law demands, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts. Their consciences confirm this. Their competing thoughts either accuse or even excuse them
The non-Jews have a law of conscious, which because it too is not kept perfectly, will condemn them. Acts 28:3-4Acts 28:3-4 (CSB)
As Paul gathered a bundle of brushwood and put it on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. When the local people saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “This man, no doubt, is a murderer. Even though he has escaped the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.”
shows us that the heathen know that murder is wrong and Genesis 26:7-11Genesis 26:7-11 (CSB)
When the men of the place asked about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he was afraid to say “my wife,” thinking, “The men of the place will kill me on account of Rebekah, for she is a beautiful woman.” When Isaac had been there for some time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked down from the window and was surprised to see Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. Abimelech sent for Isaac and said, “So she is really your wife! How could you say, ‘She is my sister’? ” Isaac answered him, “Because I thought I might die on account of her.” Then Abimelech said, “What have you done to us? One of the people could easily have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us.” So Abimelech warned all the people, “Whoever harms this man or his wife will certainly be put to death.”
shows us that pagans know that adultery is wrong.

Romans 2:16Romans 2:16 (CSB)
on the day when God judges what people have kept secret, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus.
Paul's gospel presentation included speaking about God's judgment; does ours? Nothing will be hidden at the judgment (Matthew 10:26Matthew 10:26 (CSB)
“Therefore, don’t be afraid of them, since there is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered and nothing hidden that won’t be made known.
, Revelation 20:12Revelation 20:12 (CSB)
I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books.
).

Romans 2:17-20Romans 2:17-20 (CSB)
Now if you call yourself a Jew, and rely on the law, and boast in God, and know his will, and approve the things that are superior, being instructed from the law, and if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light to those in darkness, an instructor of the ignorant, a teacher of the immature, having the embodiment of knowledge and truth in the law — 
With verse 17Romans 2:17 (CSB)
Now if you call yourself a Jew, and rely on the law, and boast in God,
, Paul specifies that he is speaking to the Jew. Paul speaks to the Jewish self-righteousness that Jews feel - they feel superior because they have been given the law of God (and rely on just having the law making them right before God - not the same as relying on doing what the law says). The Jews felt they were the ones who should teach others because they had the truth (again, not because they practiced the truth)...

Romans 2:17Romans 2:17 (CSB)
Now if you call yourself a Jew, and rely on the law, and boast in God,
Compare Micah 3:11Micah 3:11 (CSB)
Her leaders issue rulings for a bribe, her priests teach for payment, and her prophets practice divination for silver. Yet they lean on the Lord, saying, “Isn’t the Lord among us? No disaster will overtake us.”
, where the people, despite their sin, believe the Lord will still support them.

Romans 2:21-23Romans 2:21-23 (CSB)
you then, who teach another, don’t you teach yourself? You who preach, “You must not steal” — do you steal? You who say, “You must not commit adultery” — do you commit adultery? You who detest idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?
now Paul will call them out for their hypocrisy. They tell people what to do, but do not do the same, including stealing, adultery, idolatry, and not practicing what they boast in (see Matthew 23:3Matthew 23:3 (CSB)
Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach.
, and Psalms 50:16-21Psalms 50:16-21 (CSB)
But God says to the wicked: “What right do you have to recite my statutes and to take my covenant on your lips? You hate instruction and fling my words behind you. When you see a thief, you make friends with him, and you associate with adulterers. You unleash your mouth for evil and harness your tongue for deceit. You sit, maligning your brother, slandering your mother’s son. You have done these things, and I kept silent; you thought I was just like you. But I will rebuke you and lay out the case before you.
) - which brings...

Romans 2:22Romans 2:22 (CSB)
You who say, “You must not commit adultery” — do you commit adultery? You who detest idols, do you rob temples?
NLT "use items stolen from pagan temples." Pagan is assumed by the translators. It could be Jews robbing their own temple or financially abusing temple-goers, which they were known to do. See Nehemiah 13:10-12Nehemiah 13:10-12 (CSB)
I also found out that because the portions for the Levites had not been given, each of the Levites and the singers performing the service had gone back to his own field. Therefore, I rebuked the officials, asking, “Why has the house of God been neglected? ” I gathered the Levites and singers together and stationed them at their posts. Then all Judah brought a tenth of the grain, new wine, and fresh oil into the storehouses.
; Malachi 1:13-14, 3:8-9Malachi 1:13-14, 3:8-9 (CSB)
1:13-14 You also say, ‘Look, what a nuisance! ’ And you scorn it,” says the Lord of Armies. “You bring stolen, lame, or sick animals. You bring this as an offering! Am I to accept that from your hands? ” asks the Lord. “The deceiver is cursed who has an acceptable male in his flock and makes a vow but sacrifices a defective animal to the Lord. For I am a great King,” says the Lord of Armies, “and my name will be feared among the nations.
3:8-9 “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me! ”
“How do we rob you? ” you ask.
“By not making the payments of the tenth and the contributions. You are suffering under a curse, yet you — the whole nation — are still robbing me.
; Matthew 21:12-13Matthew 21:12-13 (CSB)
Jesus went into the temple and threw out all those buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “It is written, my house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of thieves! ”
.

Romans 2:23Romans 2:23 (CSB)
You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?
This sentence may be a statement (NET, ESV, NLT) rather than another rhetorical question (NASB, NKJ, NIV, CSB).

Romans 2:24Romans 2:24 (CSB)
For, as it is written: The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.
...God's name being blasphemed among the Gentiles. Isaiah 52:5Isaiah 52:5 (CSB)
So now what have I here” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “that my people are taken away for nothing? Its rulers wail” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “and my name is continually blasphemed all day long.
is possibly the verse Paul is using. From the New International Commentary of the New Testament (NICNT):

In Isaiah, the blaspheming of God’s name occurs through the oppression of Israel, God’s chosen people, by foreign powers. Paul ascribes the cause of the blasphemy to the disobedient lives of his people. Perhaps Paul intends the reader to see the irony in having responsibility for dishonoring God’s name transferred from the Gentiles to the people of Israel.

Romans 2:25-29Romans 2:25-29 (CSB)
Circumcision benefits you if you observe the law, but if you are a lawbreaker, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So if an uncircumcised man keeps the law’s requirements, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? A man who is physically uncircumcised, but who keeps the law, will judge you who are a lawbreaker in spite of having the letter of the law and circumcision. For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart — by the Spirit, not the letter. That person’s praise is not from people but from God.
Paul tears apart the idea that it is circumcision itself that saves the Jews. However, this does not mean circumcision had no value; the value of circumcision will be discussed starting in Romans 3:1-2Romans 3:1-2 (CSB)
So what advantage does the Jew have? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Considerable in every way. First, they were entrusted with the very words of God.
. Just because circumcision does not justify does not mean it does not have value (or at least did not have value to the Jews - to Gentiles, there never was a value in circumcision). Regarding the value, consider this quote from Albert Barns:

The mere sign can be of no value, The mere fact of being a Jew is not what God requires. It may be a favor to have his Law, but the mere possession of the Law cannot entitle to the favor of God. So it is a privilege to be born in a Christian land; to have had pious parents; to be amidst the ordinances of religion; to be trained in Sunday schools; and to be devoted to God in baptism: for all these are favorable circumstances for salvation. But none of them entitle to the favor of God; and unless they are improved as they should be, they may be only the means of increasing our condemnation; 2 Corinthians 2:162 Corinthians 2:16 (CSB)
To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life. Who is adequate for these things?
.

Or John Calvin:

The true character of circumcision was a spiritual promise, which required faith: the Jews neglected both, the promise as well as faith. Then foolish was their confidence. ...

They thought that circumcision was of itself sufficient for the purpose of obtaining righteousness. Hence, speaking according to such an opinion, he gives this reply — That if this benefit be expected from circumcision, it is on this condition, that he who is circumcised, must serve God wholly and perfectly. Circumcision then requires perfection.

Romans 2:25-26Romans 2:25-26 (CSB)
Circumcision benefits you if you observe the law, but if you are a lawbreaker, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So if an uncircumcised man keeps the law’s requirements, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?
Breaking the law negates the Jew's Jewishness because it is as if they become uncircumcised. The Jews thought that being Jewish, having the law, put them outside of God's judgment. Here, Paul is breaking their shield, and showing that they are, in all reality, exposed to God's judgment. After Paul here shows that circumcision does not have the value the Jews believe it has, he will confirm there is still value in circumcision in Romans 3:1-2Romans 3:1-2 (CSB)
So what advantage does the Jew have? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Considerable in every way. First, they were entrusted with the very words of God.
. The value will be in what they are entrusted with (the words of God), and not what they believe they are protected from (the wrath of God - all are under God's wrath outside of Christ).

Romans 2:26-27Romans 2:26-27 (CSB)
So if an uncircumcised man keeps the law’s requirements, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? A man who is physically uncircumcised, but who keeps the law, will judge you who are a lawbreaker in spite of having the letter of the law and circumcision.
Paul is not saying that non-Jews can be saved by keeping the law, as Paul will and has made clear - no one keeps the law. This is either 1) a hypothetical used to point out that anyone who keeps the law can be saved, and thus there is no difference between Jew and Gentile in how God judges, or 2) Paul referring to Christians who are credited with justification (I prefer the former).

Romans 2:27Romans 2:27 (CSB)
A man who is physically uncircumcised, but who keeps the law, will judge you who are a lawbreaker in spite of having the letter of the law and circumcision.
Note Matthew 12:41-42Matthew 12:41-42 (CSB)
The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at Jonah’s preaching; and look — something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the south will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and look — something greater than Solomon is here.
.

Romans 2:29Romans 2:29 (CSB)
On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart — by the Spirit, not the letter. That person’s praise is not from people but from God.
Circumcision of the heart, by the spirit, opens up the Gentiles to the possibility of being included in the grouping of true Jews. God has always looked for a circumcision of the heart (Deuteronomy 10:16Deuteronomy 10:16 (CSB)
Therefore, circumcise your hearts and don’t be stiff-necked any longer.
, Jeremiah 4:4Jeremiah 4:4 (CSB)
Circumcise yourselves to the Lord; remove the foreskin of your hearts, men of Judah and residents of Jerusalem. Otherwise, my wrath will break out like fire and burn with no one to extinguish it because of your evil deeds.
). The devaluation of the circumcision of the flesh is new here.
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Romans 3

Romans 3 summary: Paul has shown that all are guilty before God in the previous two chapters. The purpose of the law is to show our guilt, not to make us righteous. Righteousness comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Since the One God is the God of both Jew and Gentile, then the One Method of righteousness is the same for both - faith in Jesus Christ. However, this truth does not nullify/overthrow/make void the law, but it upholds the law.

Romans 3:1Romans 3:1 (CSB)
So what advantage does the Jew have? Or what is the benefit of circumcision?
Paul supposes the question that may be asked in response to what he has recently said in Romans 2:25-26Romans 2:25-26 (CSB)
Circumcision benefits you if you observe the law, but if you are a lawbreaker, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So if an uncircumcised man keeps the law’s requirements, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?
. (If a pagan can be treated as if he were circumcised, then what good is circumcision?).

Romans 3:2Romans 3:2 (CSB)
Considerable in every way. First, they were entrusted with the very words of God.
While Paul does not elaborate here, "First of all" suggests that his list is bigger than this initial item, though this is the primary item (they were given the Word of God). See also Romans 9:4-5Romans 9:4-5 (CSB)
They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises. The ancestors are theirs, and from them, by physical descent, came the Christ, who is God over all, praised forever. Amen.
, Deuteronomy 4:7-8Deuteronomy 4:7-8 (CSB)
For what great nation is there that has a god near to it as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call to him? And what great nation has righteous statutes and ordinances like this entire law I set before you today?
and Psalms 147:19-20Psalms 147:19-20 (CSB)
He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and judgments to Israel. He has not done this for every nation; they do not know his judgments. Hallelujah!
. We have Bibles - we too have been given the Word of God. Do we realize what a special privilege this is?

Romans 3:3Romans 3:3 (CSB)
What then? If some were unfaithful, will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness?
The Jews assumed they were saved because of the initial promises to Abraham, regardless of their actions. The hypothetical question blames God for the individual decisions of the Jews who did not believe the Messiah when he came. The blame is that God chose them, and then condemns them, but the condemnation is not because of God's unfaithfulness in his choosing, but in the Jew's unfaithfulness. See 2 Timothy 2:132 Timothy 2:13 (CSB)
if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.
.

Romans 3:4Romans 3:4 (CSB)
Absolutely not! Let God be true, even though everyone is a liar, as it is written: That you may be justified in your words and triumph when you judge.
From the LXX version of Psalms 51:4Psalms 51:4 (CSB)
Against you — you alone — I have sinned and done this evil in your sight. So you are right when you pass sentence; you are blameless when you judge.
(Psalms 51:1-5Psalms 51:1-5 (CSB)
Be gracious to me, God, according to your faithful love; according to your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion. Completely wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me. Against you — you alone — I have sinned and done this evil in your sight. So you are right when you pass sentence; you are blameless when you judge. Indeed, I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me.
). As Albert Barnes states:

The promise made to Abraham, and the fathers, was not unconditional and absolute, that all the Jews should be saved. It was implied that they were to be obedient; and that if they were not, they would be cast off; Genesis 18:19Genesis 18:19 (CSB)
For I have chosen him so that he will command his children and his house after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. This is how the Lord will fulfill to Abraham what he promised him.”
.

Paul will go into this in greater detail Romans 10:11, 16-21Romans 10:11, 16-21 (CSB)
For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on him will not be put to shame... But not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message? So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ. But I ask, “Did they not hear? ” Yes, they did: Their voice has gone out to the whole earth, and their words to the ends of the world. But I ask, “Did Israel not understand? ” First, Moses said, I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that lacks understanding. And Isaiah says boldly, I was found by those who were not looking for me; I revealed myself to those who were not asking for me. But to Israel he says, All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and defiant people.
. Also see Nehemiah 9:32-33Nehemiah 9:32-33 (CSB)
So now, our God — the great, mighty, and awe-inspiring God who keeps his gracious covenant — do not view lightly all the hardships that have afflicted us, our kings and leaders, our priests and prophets, our ancestors and all your people, from the days of the Assyrian kings until today. You are righteous concerning all that has happened to us, because you have acted faithfully, while we have acted wickedly.
.

Let God be true and every man a liar... what if all churches held this standard. How much compromise and false teaching would be stopped. How many will die and find out that they held God's words as only true where they wanted, and in the end, were really only worshiping a god of their own making.

When you judge (NIV, CSB) / when you are judged (ESV, KJV, NASB). I believe the best Greek is "when you judge." However, either way works, for if it is "when you are judged" then Paul is saying that when the sinner is condemned by God, he will judge that condemnation by God as right and correct, and his judgment will be that God has been proven true by the very judgment he makes.

Romans 3:5-8Romans 3:5-8 (CSB)
But if our unrighteousness highlights God’s righteousness, what are we to say? I am using a human argument: Is God unrighteous to inflict wrath? Absolutely not! Otherwise, how will God judge the world? But if by my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner? And why not say, just as some people slanderously claim we say, “Let us do what is evil so that good may come”? Their condemnation is deserved!
The foolish human position - "If my sin makes God look so good, how can He punish us for sinning and making him look so good?" Paul replies that if this foolish notion were true, then God would not even be able to judge the world. Note the Jews did fully believe that God would judge the world (Genesis 18:25Genesis 18:25 (CSB)
You could not possibly do such a thing: to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. You could not possibly do that! Won’t the Judge of the whole earth do what is just? ”
; Ecclesiastes 11:9, 12:14Ecclesiastes 11:9, 12:14 (CSB)
11:9 Rejoice, young person, while you are young, and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth. And walk in the ways of your heart and in the desire of your eyes; but know that for all of these things God will bring you to judgment.
12:14 For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.
), so this argument was foolish and contradictory on that point as well. Christians may be accused of teaching this idea - that we should do evil so that grace may come - because we teach salvation by faith alone - not by works (If it's not by works, then we might as well sin, so that we can receive grace to forgive our sins) (see Romans 6:1-2Romans 6:1-2 (CSB)
What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
). Grace actually teaches the opposite of this (Titus 2:11-12Titus 2:11-12 (CSB)
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age,
).

While I have not heard Paul's worldly argument said today in this exact form, by actions many churches seem to follow a similar logic with statements like, "let us bless gay unions so that love or acceptance may result." This notion is equally foolish and should be equally condemned. The perceived positive end is never justified by the unrighteous means. For example, "We'll make our church look just like the world and never speak of sin so that we may have a chance to bring in unbelievers." We must follow God's rules in this race we are running (See 2 Timothy 2:32 Timothy 2:3 (CSB)
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
).

While Paul does not answer his objection in Romans 3:8Romans 3:8 (CSB)
And why not say, just as some people slanderously claim we say, “Let us do what is evil so that good may come”? Their condemnation is deserved!
, he does pick up this topic more fully in Romans 6.

Romans 3:9Romans 3:9 (CSB)
What then? Are we any better off? Not at all! For we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin,
Romans 1 spoke primarily regarding the Greek's condemnation and Romans 2 spoke primarily regarding the Jew's condemnation. Nature condemns the one and the law condemns the other. Verse 9Romans 3:9 (CSB)
What then? Are we any better off? Not at all! For we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin,
goes back to the idea of verse 1 - "what is the advantage of being a Jew" Paul had listed the primary advantage, but Jews being better than Gentiles was not the stated advantage - both Jews and Gentiles are under sin. The next several verses describe the condition of both Jews and Gentiles.

Romans 3:10-12Romans 3:10-12 (CSB)
as it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become worthless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one.
*From Psalms 14:1-3Psalms 14:1-3 (CSB)
The fool says in his heart, “There’s no God.” They are corrupt; they do vile deeds. There is no one who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there is one who is wise, one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one.
and Psalms 53:1-3Psalms 53:1-3 (CSB)
The fool says in his heart, “There’s no God.” They are corrupt, and they do vile deeds. There is no one who does good. God looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there is one who is wise, one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one.
. See also Isaiah 53:6Isaiah 53:6 (CSB)
We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished him for the iniquity of us all.
. Regarding understanding, note 1 Corinthians 2:141 Corinthians 2:14 (CSB)
But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.
.
Romans 3:13Romans 3:13 (CSB)
Their throat is an open grave; they deceive with their tongues. Vipers’ venom is under their lips.
From Psalms 5:9, 140:3Psalms 5:9, 140:3 (CSB)
50:9 For there is nothing reliable in what they say; destruction is within them; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongues.
140:3They make their tongues as sharp as a snake’s bite; viper’s venom is under their lips. Selah
.
Romans 3:14Romans 3:14 (CSB)
Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.
From Psalms 10:7Psalms 10:7 (CSB)
Cursing, deceit, and violence fill his mouth; trouble and malice are under his tongue.
.
Romans 3:15-17Romans 3:15-17 (CSB)
Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and wretchedness are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known.
From Isaiah 59:7-8Isaiah 59:7-8 (CSB)
Their feet run after evil, and they rush to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are sinful thoughts; ruin and wretchedness are in their paths. They have not known the path of peace, and there is no justice in their ways. They have made their roads crooked; no one who walks on them will know peace.
and Isaiah 48:22Isaiah 48:22 (CSB)
“There is no peace for the wicked,” says the Lord.
.
Romans 3:18Romans 3:18 (CSB)
There is no fear of God before their eyes.
From Psalms 36:1Psalms 36:1 (CSB)
An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked person: Dread of God has no effect on him.
. Not fearing God may undergird much of the above, for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (See Proverbs 1:7, 9:10Proverbs 1:7, 9:10 (CSB)
1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.
9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
). We are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12Philippians 2:12 (CSB)
Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
).

*Regarding no one seeking God, we can be thankful that God is the great seeker of us. From Middletown Bible Church: (Before reading below, read Acts 15:12-18Acts 15:12-18 (CSB)
The whole assembly became silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul describe all the signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they stopped speaking, James responded, “Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has reported how God first intervened to take from the Gentiles a people for his name. And the words of the prophets agree with this, as it is written: After these things I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. I will rebuild its ruins and set it up again, so that the rest of humanity may seek the Lord — even all the Gentiles who are called by my name — declares the Lord who makes these things known from long ago.
and Hebrews 11:6Hebrews 11:6 (CSB)
Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
).

"There is none that seeketh (who seeks diligently) after God" -- But does not this contradict Acts 15:17Acts 15:17 (CSB)
so that the rest of humanity may seek the Lord — even all the Gentiles who are called by my name— declares the Lord who makes these things
and Hebrews 11:6Hebrews 11:6 (CSB)
Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
which both teach that men do seek after God? The main point of Romans 3:11Romans 3:11 (CSB)
There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.
is this: Man if left to his own depraved nature would run away from God rather than run to God. Do men naturally go God’s way or do they go their own way (Isaiah 53:6Isaiah 53:6 (CSB)
We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished him for the iniquity of us all.
)?  Do men naturally love the light and come to the light (John 3:19-20John 3:19-20 (CSB)
This is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed.
)? Did God seek lost Adam or did lost Adam seek God (Genesis 3:6-10Genesis 3:6-10 (CSB)
The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you? ” And he said, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”
)? Do lost men seek after the Saviour or does the Saviour seek after lost men (Luke 19:10Luke 19:10 (CSB)
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”
)? By analogy to 1 John 4:191 John 4:19 (CSB)
We love because he first loved us.
we might say, "We seek Him because He first sought us!" By analogy to 1 John 4:101 John 4:10 (CSB)
Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
we might say, "Herein is God’s seeking and saving love, not that we sought after God but that He sought after us!"  By analogy to John 15:16John 15:16 (CSB)
You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.
, "Ye have not sought Me, but I have sought you."  Every believer should thank God for the gracious work that He is willing to do and that He does do in the human heart (see Acts 16:14Acts 16:14 (CSB)
A God-fearing woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying.
; John 6:44-45, 65John 6:44-45, 65 (CSB)
6:44-45 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets: And they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to me — 
6:65 He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by the Father.”
).  God is the great Initiator. As the hymnwriter says:  "Lost in the darkness I stumbled alone, Far from the sunlight of day. Then Jesus found me and made me His own. He drove my darkness away. Before I loved Him, He loved me.  Before I found Him, He found me.  Before I sought Him, He sought for me. Yes, Jesus cares for me" (Ron Hamilton).  God sought us when we were His alienated enemies (Romans 5:6-10Romans 5:6-10 (CSB)
For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person — though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. How much more then, since we have now been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.
) and when we were yet dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1-5Ephesians 2:1-5 (CSB)
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!
). Before Adam ever turned to God, God turned and called to him, "Where art thou?" (Genesis 3:9Genesis 3:9 (CSB)
So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you? ”
). God IS THE GREAT AND GRACIOUS SEEKER!   Have you been found by Him?

Romans 3:19-20Romans 3:19-20 (CSB)
Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are subject to the law, so that every mouth may be shut and the whole world may become subject to God’s judgment. For no one will be justified in his sight by the works of the law, because the knowledge of sin comes through the law.
Paul has stated in verse 9Romans 3:9 (CSB)
What then? Are we any better off? Not at all! For we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin,
that the Jews are no better (as they are under sin), then he uses old testament scriptures to point to the universal sinfulness of man. However, Jews at the time may have well seen these scriptures as pointing only to the Gentiles, with the Jews themselves being an exception (for they were God's chosen people!). However, Paul sums it up in verse 19Romans 3:19 (CSB)
Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are subject to the law, so that every mouth may be shut and the whole world may become subject to God’s judgment.
, showing that due to the law, they too are under sin, for the law points out their sin, just as nature and conscious does to the non-Jew.

The purpose of the law wasn't to make the Jews righteous; the purpose of the law was to point out the severity of their unrighteousness. When we become aware of the law, it does the same for us. The law acts as a mirror, showing us just how ugly we really are (spiritually speaking).

At this point, both Jew and non-Jew have been shown to be condemned, whether by nature, conscience, or the Law. These things do not give a place for justification, but instead, only show us condemned (our mouths are shut - Romans 3:19Romans 3:19 (CSB)
Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are subject to the law, so that every mouth may be shut and the whole world may become subject to God’s judgment.
). So at this point, all should be hopeless and all should ask, "what must I do to be saved?!" Paul will now show a route to righteousness, apart from the law.

Romans 3:21Romans 3:21 (CSB)
But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been revealed, attested by the Law and the Prophets.
"But now" indicates a turning point in history and in Paul's narrative. Compare Ephesians 2:11-13Ephesians 2:11-13 (CSB)
So, then, remember that at one time you were Gentiles in the flesh — called “the uncircumcised” by those called “the circumcised,” which is done in the flesh by human hands. At that time you were without Christ, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
. "The Law and the Prophets" does not mean the 10 commandments, but the writings of Moses and the writings of the prophets. David is called a prophet of God (Acts 2:29-31Acts 2:29-31 (CSB)
“Brothers and sisters, I can confidently speak to you about the patriarch David: He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn an oath to him to seat one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah: He was not abandoned in Hades, and his flesh did not experience decay.
), so his writings may also be included - this is a summary way of saying "the old testament."

The Jews thought they had righteousness because they had the law, but Paul has shown above that all that Law did was confirm their sinfulness. Here, Paul adds that a righteousness apart from the law was attested by the Law and Prophets (something the Jews had missed).

Paul last mentioned righteousness as a possibility for man in Romans 1:17Romans 1:17 (CSB)
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.
, but takes significant time to stress our sinfulness and need of righteousness before returning to the subject of how we may obtain righteousness. This righteousness is completely apart (Strong's G5565 - the same "without" that described Jesus' being "without" sin) from the Law yet is still the righteousness of God. Just as Jesus was completely separate from sin, so our righteousness is completely separate from the law. The law ONLY points out our sinfulness and need of salvation.

Romans 3:21-26Romans 3:21-26 (CSB)
But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been revealed, attested by the Law and the Prophets. The righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe, since there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented him as the mercy seat by his blood, through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. God presented him to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so that he would be just and justify the one who has faith in Jesus.
is one sentence in the Greek.

Romans 3:22Romans 3:22 (CSB)
The righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe, since there is no distinction.
If righteousness comes completely separate from the law, then how does it come? By faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (not to everyone without this exception), whether Jew or Gentile.

Romans 3:23Romans 3:23 (CSB)
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;
See 1 Kings 8:461 Kings 8:46 (CSB)
When they sin against you — for there is no one who does not sin — and you are angry with them and hand them over to the enemy, and their captors deport them to the enemy’s country — whether distant or nearby —
, John 7:19John 7:19 (CSB)
Didn’t Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me? ”
and 1 John 1:8-101 John 1:8-10 (CSB)
If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
.

Romans 3:24Romans 3:24 (CSB)
they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
The justification we have in Christ is that God sees us as righteous - us who had no righteousness. The righteousness God sees in us is not a lesser, human righteousness, but the very righteousness of God himself (see 2 Corinthians 5:212 Corinthians 5:21 (CSB)
He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
). It is not based on our works, but on our believing (see Romans 4:3-5Romans 4:3-5 (CSB)
For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness. Now to the one who works, pay is not credited as a gift, but as something owed. But to the one who does not work, but believes on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited for righteousness.
). This is given freely to him who believes. It is not earned. See Titus 3:3-7Titus 3:3-7 (CSB)
For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us — not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy — through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. He poured out his Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior so that, having been justified by his grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.
. And while all of this is free to us, it was not cheap (see 1 Peter 1:18-191 Peter 1:18-19 (CSB)
For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb.
).

Romans 3:25-26Romans 3:25-26 (CSB)
God presented him as the mercy seat by his blood, through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. God presented him to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so that he would be just and justify the one who has faith in Jesus.
The Mercy Seat was where the blood was sprinkled annually on the day of atonement (Yom Kippur) for the sins of the people (it was the lid of the ark of the covenant, located in the Most Holy Place or the Holy of Holies. See Exodus 25:17-22Exodus 25:17-22 (CSB)
Make a mercy seat of pure gold, forty-five inches long and twenty-seven inches wide. Make two cherubim of gold; make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at one end and one cherub at the other end. At its two ends, make the cherubim of one piece with the mercy seat. The cherubim are to have wings spread out above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and are to face one another. The faces of the cherubim should be toward the mercy seat. Set the mercy seat on top of the ark and put the tablets of the testimony that I will give you into the ark. I will meet with you there above the mercy seat, between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the testimony; I will speak with you from there about all that I command you regarding the Israelites.
). Jesus not only became the place where the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled, but he became the sacrifice itself.

God passed over previous sins for those who had faith, knowing that ultimately in Christ, those sins would be punished and forgiveness and justification to the sinner would be official. In the OT, they looked forward to this ultimate justification. Today we look back at it. In both cases, it is appropriated by faith, and not by works; it is also not simply given or appropriated to all men, regardless of whether they have faith or not (universalism). One must have faith in Jesus to receive justification.

Romans 3:27Romans 3:27 (CSB)
Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By one of works? No, on the contrary, by a law of faith.
IF our salvation was by our works, we could boast in our works, but as it is, there is no self-boasting. The law of faith will only boast in God. See Ephesians 2:8-9Ephesians 2:8-9 (CSB)
For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift —  not from works, so that no one can boast.
, Titus 3:5Titus 3:5 (CSB)
he saved us — not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy — through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
and 1 Corinthians 1:26-311 Corinthians 1:26-31 (CSB)
Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world — what is viewed as nothing — to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one may boast in his presence. It is from him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us — our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption —  in order that, as it is written: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.
.

Romans 3:28Romans 3:28 (CSB)
For we conclude that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.
Some skeptics may try to show an incongruence between Paul's statement here and James' statement about faith and works in James 2:18-26James 2:18-26 (CSB)
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith by my works. You believe that God is one. Good! Even the demons believe — and they shudder. Senseless person! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless? Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works in offering Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was made complete, and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works in receiving the messengers and sending them out by a different route? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
, and specifically in verse 24James 2:24 (CSB)
You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
. We must remember - Paul is showing how an unsaved man may become saved (by faith alone). James is showing how an already saved man may show his faith to others (by faith and works to demonstrate that faith). We don't do good works to get saved, but once saved, we will do good works, as agreed by Paul (Ephesians 2:10Ephesians 2:10 (CSB)
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.
, Titus 3:8Titus 3:8 (CSB)
This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed God might be careful to devote themselves to good works. These are good and profitable for everyone.
, Galatians 5:6Galatians 5:6 (CSB)
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision accomplishes anything; what matters is faith working through love.
).

Paul worked to correct the error that salvation is by the works of the law; Paul here has the sinner in view. James worked to correct the error that works were unnecessary after someone is saved; James here has the believer in view. Paul refers to Abraham of Genesis 15 and James refers the already justified Abraham of Genesis 22.

The Reformers added a footnote to the formula of justification by faith alone. The full phrase was this: “Justification is by faith alone but not by a faith that is alone.” (RC Sproul)

Romans 3:29-31Romans 3:29-31 (CSB)
Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then nullify the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
After taking time to show that both Jews and Gentiles were condemned, Paul has shown that both Jews and Gentiles can be justified by faith in Jesus Christ. Justification is by faith for both, though this does not nullify the law (v 31Romans 3:31 (CSB)
Do we then nullify the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
).

Romans 3:31Romans 3:31 (CSB)
Do we then nullify the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
The Amplified Bible version of this verse reads:

Do we then nullify the Law by this faith [making the Law of no effect, overthrowing it]? Certainly not! On the contrary, we confirm and establish and uphold the Law [since it convicts us all of sin, pointing to the need for salvation].

The law was given to a people where justification by faith was already established (in Abraham, 400 years before the law was given - see next chapter).

Further, in taking penalty on Jesus for the violations of the law committed by men, God shows respect to his law and enforcement of it. Jesus also showed respect to the law, and showed how it was not just a list of rules, but it was a heart matter (as seen in the sermon on the mount). As further stated by Albert Barnes:

The plan of justification by faith leads to an observance of the Law. The sinner sees the evil of transgression. He sees the respect which God has shown to the Law. He gives his heart to God, and yields himself to obey his Law. All the sentiments that arise from the conviction of sin; that flow from gratitude for mercies; that spring from love to God; all his views of the sacredness of the Law, prompt him to yield obedience to it. The fact that Christ endured such sufferings to show the evil of violating the Law, is one of the strongest motives prompting to obedience. We do not easily and readily repeat what overwhelms our best friends in calamity; and we are brought to hate what inflicted such woes on the Saviour’s soul.

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Romans 4

Review Romans 3:27-31Romans 3:27-31 (CSB)
Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By one of works? No, on the contrary, by a law of faith. For we conclude that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then nullify the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
, as Paul here will use Abraham and David as examples of the point he has just made - that the one God justifies both Jew and Gentile by faith, apart from the law, though this does not nullify the law.

Romans 4:1-5Romans 4:1-5 (CSB)
What then will we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? If Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about — but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness. Now to the one who works, pay is not credited as a gift, but as something owed. But to the one who does not work, but believes on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited for righteousness.
Abraham, the father of the nation, was declared righteous by faith - because he believed what God had told him. If it had been by works, Abraham would have reason to boast and the pay (being declared righteous), would be something due (payment for the work). Paul stresses in verse 5Romans 4:5 (CSB)
But to the one who does not work, but believes on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited for righteousness.
that belief is not work, which stands against Calvinist theology that states that believing is work, and thus regeneration must come first and is only granted to the elect.

Romans 4:2Romans 4:2 (CSB)
If Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about — but not before God.
We cannot boast (Romans 3:27Romans 3:27 (CSB)
Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By one of works? No, on the contrary, by a law of faith.
, Ephesians 2:8-9Ephesians 2:8-9 (CSB)
For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift —  not from works, so that no one can boast.
). The principle of faith excludes boasting. All boasting must be in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:311 Corinthians 1:31 (CSB)
in order that, as it is written: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.
).

Romans 4:4-5Romans 4:4-5 (CSB)
Now to the one who works, pay is not credited as a gift, but as something owed. But to the one who does not work, but believes on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited for righteousness.
Righteousness is a gift. Our works do not earn righteousness - they are sinful, and they earn death (Romans 6:23Romans 6:23 (CSB)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
).

Romans 4:6Romans 4:6 (CSB/NKJ/NLT)
CSB: Likewise, David also speaks of the blessing of the person to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
NKJ: just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:
NLT David also spoke of this when he described the happiness of those who are declared righteous without working for it:
Credits (CSB)/Imputes (NKJ)/Declared (NLT). Sin and death was imputed to the whole human race via Adam (Romans 5:12, 18-19Romans 5:12, 18-19 (CSB)
5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.
5:18-19 So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act there is justification leading to life for everyone. For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
). Man's sin was imputed to Jesus at the Cross (2 Corinthians 5:212 Corinthians 5:21 (CSB)
He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
). Upon faith in Jesus, God's righteousness is imputed to us (Romans 3:22, 4:5-6Romans 3:22, 4:5-6 (CSB)
3:22 The righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe, since there is no distinction.
4:5-6 But to the one who does not work, but believes on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited for righteousness. Likewise, David also speaks of the blessing of the person to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
; 2 Corinthians 5:212 Corinthians 5:21 (CSB)
He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
).

Romans 4:6-8Romans 4:6-8 (CSB)
Likewise, David also speaks of the blessing of the person to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: Blessed are those whose lawless acts are forgiven and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the person the Lord will never charge with sin.
David also speaks to God crediting righteousness apart from works. From Psalms 32:1-2Psalms 32:1-2 (CSB)
How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How joyful is a person whom the Lord does not charge with iniquity and in whose spirit is no deceit!
.

Romans 4:9-11Romans 4:9-11 (CSB)
Is this blessing only for the circumcised, then? Or is it also for the uncircumcised? For we say, Faith was credited to Abraham for righteousness. In what way, then, was it credited — while he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? It was not while he was circumcised, but uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while still uncircumcised. This was to make him the father of all who believe but are not circumcised, so that righteousness may be credited to them also.
This is a blessed/happy thing! And this blessedness is for both the Jews and Gentiles (see also Galatians 3:7-9Galatians 3:7-9 (CSB)
You know, then, that those who have faith, these are Abraham’s sons. Now the Scripture saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and proclaimed the gospel ahead of time to Abraham, saying, All the nations will be blessed through you. Consequently, those who have faith are blessed with Abraham, who had faith.
). Abraham is the father of both - of Gentiles, as he was not circumcised when his faith was credited to him as righteousness...

Romans 4:12Romans 4:12 (CSB)
And he became the father of the circumcised, who are not only circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith our father Abraham had while he was still uncircumcised.
...and of Jews because they are circumcised - but the imputation is by faith, even for the Jews, because they walk in the footsteps of Abraham in that his faith was credited to him while he was yet uncircumcised. Note that non-believing Jews are not sons of Abraham, but sons of the devil / vipers (Matthew 3:7-10Matthew 3:7-10 (CSB)
When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. And don’t presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones. The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
and John 8:39-44John 8:39-44 (CSB)
“Our father is Abraham,” they replied. “If you were Abraham’s children,” Jesus told them, “you would do what Abraham did. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You’re doing what your father does.” “We weren’t born of sexual immorality,” they said. “We have one Father — God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I came from God and I am here. For I didn’t come on my own, but he sent me. Why don’t you understand what I say? Because you cannot listen to my word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.
).

Romans 4:13Romans 4:13 (CSB)
For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would inherit the world was not through the law, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.
Galatians 3:8, 16Galatians 3:8, 16 (CSB)
3:8 Now the Scripture saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and proclaimed the gospel ahead of time to Abraham, saying, All the nations will be blessed through you.
3:16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say “and to seeds,” as though referring to many, but referring to one, and to your seed, who is Christ.
points out that this promise is ultimately to and through Christ, the one seed of Abraham. Through Christ, the entire world will be inherited by those who have placed their faith in Jesus. This promise has yet to see completion.

Romans 4:14-15aRomans 4:14-15a (CSB)
If those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made empty and the promise nullified, because the law produces wrath.
Paul may be saying that since no one would be able to uphold the law, then no one would be saved, and the promise that Abraham would be the father of many would then be abolished and unfulfilled.

Romans 4:15bRomans 4:15b (CSB)
And where there is no law, there is no transgression.
Considering what Paul has previously said in Romans 2:12-16Romans 2:12-16 (CSB)
For all who sin without the law will also perish without the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For the hearers of the law are not righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be justified. So, when Gentiles, who do not by nature have the law, do what the law demands, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts. Their consciences confirm this. Their competing thoughts either accuse or even excuse them on the day when God judges what people have kept secret, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus.
, we can not apply the idea that if we don't have the law we don't have trespass - everyone has the law of God in some form, whether in their hearts, as the Gentiles do, or via the very words given to the Jews.

But since Paul seems to be speaking specifically to the Law, as given to the Jews, As Calvin puts it: “He who is not instructed by the written law, when he sins, is not guilty of so great a transgression as he is who knowingly breaks and transgresses the law of God.” (from NICNT), so for this reason, the law brings wrath, but all sin, as noted in Romans 2 brings condemnation.

From the ESV Study Bible:

Paul uses the word transgression technically, so that it is distinguished from sin. Transgression is defined as the violation of a revealed command, which means that the Jews, who had the written law, had even greater responsibility for their sin and as great a need to be saved from God’s wrath and justified by faith. (Paul elsewhere argues that sin also exists where no written law specifies the malfeasance; see Romans 2:12Romans 2:12 (CSB)
For all who sin without the law will also perish without the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.
).

From Bob Utley:

"the Law. . .law" The first use of this term has the Greek article, while the second does not. Although it is dangerous to draw too much attention to the presence or absence of the Greek article, it seems in this case to help show that Paul was using this term in two senses.
  1. the Mosaic Law with its Oral Tradition in which some Jews were trusting for their salvation
  2. the concept of law in general
This wider sense would include the self-righteous Gentiles who conformed to this or that cultural code of ethics or religious rituals and felt accepted by deity based on their performance.

Romans 4:16Romans 4:16 (CSB/NLT)
CSB: This is why the promise is by faith, so that it may be according to grace, to guarantee it to all the descendants — not only to the one who is of the law but also to the one who is of Abraham’s faith. He is the father of us all.
NLT: So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham's. For Abraham is the father of all who believe.
"of the law" or "under the law" refers to Jews - not to people who perfectly keep the law. The NLT's "who live according to the law of Moses" means the Jews - this should not be interpreted as those who perfectly live what the law of Moses commands. If the promise were not via grace through faith, how could we know we had met the qualifications - worked hard enough? This is the problem with many fake religions.

Romans 4:17Romans 4:17 (CSB)
As it is written: I have made you the father of many nations —  in the presence of the God in whom he believed, the one who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist.
God said, in the past tense, that he had made Abraham a father of many nations before he was the father of a single child. God's plan has always been - past tense.

Some hyper-charismatics hijack this verse to claim that they can bring life from the dead and call things into existence because they say that they can do everything Christ did and more. That is not the meaning of this verse (obviously).

Romans 4:18-22Romans 4:18-22 (CSB)
He believed, hoping against hope, so that he became the father of many nations according to what had been spoken: So will your descendants be. He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about a hundred years old) and also the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that what God had promised, he was also able to do. Therefore, it was credited to him for righteousness.
If we read Abraham's story, we see doubt, poorly designed plans to carry out God's promise on their own (resulting in Ishmael), etc. However, Abraham is described as a man of faith in the New Testament. The Lutheran Study Bible notes for this passage:

These things can only be truly said of Abraham as a forgiven sinner. His actions demonstrate some doubts (cf Gen 16). When sins are forgiven, only the fruit of faith remains.

Romans 4:23-24Romans 4:23-24 (CSB)
Now it was credited to him was not written for Abraham alone, but also for us. It will be credited to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
This same credit - righteousness, is also credited to us, just as it was with Abraham, if we place our faith in Jesus. Our sins, too, will be washed away, and only the fruit of faith will remain.

Romans 4:25Romans 4:25 (CSB)
He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
If Jesus only died, we are not saved. He died due to our sin, but it is because he is raised that we are justified. The ESV Study Bible note reads:

When God the Father raised Christ from the dead, it was a demonstration that he accepted Christ’s suffering and death as full payment for sin.... Since Paul sees Christians as united with Christ in his death and resurrection (Romans 6:6, 8-10Romans 6:6, 8-10 (CSB)
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be rendered powerless so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin... Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him, because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over him. For the death he died, he died to sin once for all time; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
; Ephesians 2:6Ephesians 2:6 (CSB)
He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus,
; Colossians 2:12, 3:1Colossians 2:12, 3:1 (CSB)
2:12 when you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
3:1 So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
), God’s approval of Christ at the resurrection results in God’s approval also of all who are united to Christ, and in this way results in their “justification.”

So... in this chapter we have “faith apart from works” (vv. 3-8Romans 4:3-8 (CSB)
For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness. Now to the one who works, pay is not credited as a gift, but as something owed. But to the one who does not work, but believes on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited for righteousness. Likewise, David also speaks of the blessing of the person to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: Blessed are those whose lawless acts are forgiven and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the person the Lord will never charge with sin.
), “faith apart from circumcision” (vv. 9-12Romans 4:9-12 (CSB)
Is this blessing only for the circumcised, then? Or is it also for the uncircumcised? For we say, Faith was credited to Abraham for righteousness. In what way, then, was it credited — while he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? It was not while he was circumcised, but uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while still uncircumcised. This was to make him the father of all who believe but are not circumcised, so that righteousness may be credited to them also. And he became the father of the circumcised, who are not only circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith our father Abraham had while he was still uncircumcised.
), “faith apart from the law” (vv. 13-16Romans 4:13-16 (CSB)
For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would inherit the world was not through the law, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. If those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made empty and the promise nullified, because the law produces wrath. And where there is no law, there is no transgression. This is why the promise is by faith, so that it may be according to grace, to guarantee it to all the descendants — not only to the one who is of the law but also to the one who is of Abraham’s faith. He is the father of us all.
) and “faith apart from sight” (vv. 17-21Romans 4:17-21 (CSB)
As it is written: I have made you the father of many nations —  in the presence of the God in whom he believed, the one who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist. He believed, hoping against hope, so that he became the father of many nations according to what had been spoken: So will your descendants be. He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about a hundred years old) and also the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that what God had promised, he was also able to do.
). Salvation is by faith alone - with nothing else.
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Romans 5

In Romans 4, the line of thinking has been that just as Abraham was justified by faith, and not by the works of the law, so too we are justified by the same faith...

Romans 4:23-25Romans 4:23-25 (NKJ)
Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
Jesus was delivered/crucified for our trespasses and was raised for our justification. Our justification depends on his being raised - not simply crucified.

Romans 5:1Romans 5:1 (NKJ)
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Jesus' being raised then brings us peace with God through Jesus, who was raised for our justification. It is our being justified that brings us peace.

Romans 5:2Romans 5:2 (NKJ)
through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Our being justified also brings us access to the Grace God has for us; in this we can boast and have hope of the glory of God (*hope is multi-faceted).

*Hope: For example, we hope in the ultimate return of Christ and our being finally completely changed into his likeness to be with him forever (1 Corinthians 15:49-521 Corinthians 15:49-52 (NKJ)
And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed– in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
, 1 John 3:2-31 John 3:2-3 (NKJ)
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
).

We have no idea how great God's glory really is. We hope in God's glory now, but by definition, hope is of something that we don't see now, but of something we eagerly wait for - to be seen later (Romans 8:24-25Romans 8:24-25 (NKJ)
For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
). It's this hope that keeps us going during the tough times of this life - it keeps us joyful (Romans 12:9-13Romans 12:9-13 (NKJ)
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
).

Our hope is for the future. Our best life is not "now." See 1 Corinthians 9:101 Corinthians 9:10 (NKJ)
Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.
; Galatians 5:4-5Galatians 5:4-5 (NKJ)
You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
; Colossians 1:3-5Colossians 1:3-5 (NKJ)
We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,
; Titus 2:11-14Titus 2:11-14 (NKJ)
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
; 1 Peter 1:13-161 Peter 1:13-16 (NKJ)
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.
. In fact, those who are having a good life are warned not to place their confidence in it (1 Timothy 6:17-191 Timothy 6:17-19 (NKJ)
Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
).

Notice how 1 Peter 1:13-161 Peter 1:13-16 (NKJ)
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
and 1 John 3:2-31 John 3:2-3 (NKJ)
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
work together; we can work to live more pure lives due to the hope of what we will ultimately be in Christ.

Romans 5:3-4Romans 5:3-4 (NKJ)
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Because of all this hope, we can therefor boast in afflictions, knowing that God will use these to produce good in us (endurance, character, and an even greater hope - which will not disappoint).

A test of a true Christian may be the hard times. While the tare may fall away during these times, the true Christian should have an endurance, improved character and an even greater hope in what will come - they will know the love of God even more, as it is poured out in their hearts. We must remember, Biblical hope is assurance; earthly hope is mere wishing.

On Faith vs. Hope, from RC Sproul:

In one sense our faith looks backward so that we put our trust in what Christ has done for us. In another sense our hope looks forward with the same assurance to what he will do when he completes his work of redemption in us, a work that cannot fail.

Romans 5:1-5Romans 5:1-5 (NKJ)
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
summary by RC Sproul:

Salvation is not like receiving just one gift under the Christmas tree but gift after gift all wrapped up together. The first package we find is our justification, and when we open that package, we find inside it another—peace with God. Inside that package is access into his presence, and inside that gift is the ability to rejoice in glorifying the glory of God. Inside that package we find there is joy in the midst of tribulation, and that very tribulation gives us another gift—perseverance. Tear off the ribbon from that gift, and there is another one, which is the character that perseverance gives us, and within that gift is hope that will never embarrass or disappoint us. Finally we open one more present, and it is the love of God poured profusely into our hearts by the grace of God. All these are the gift of our justification. Do we wonder, then, at that doxological writing of the apostle Paul, who rejoices in these things over and over again? For Paul, Christmas never ends.

Romans 5:6-11Romans 5:6-11 (NKJ)
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
summary: Because Christ died for us, even though we were sinners, we are justified (made right with God). Because we are justified, we will also be saved from the wrath (to come). For both our justification and the salvation from wrath, our boast is in God through Jesus - not in ourselves.

Romans 5:6Romans 5:6 (NKJ)
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
Regarding helpless, see John 6:44John 6:44 (NKJ)
“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
(we can not come on our own strength) and Ephesians 2:1Ephesians 2:1 (NKJ)
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,
(we were dead - dead men don't make decisions to become alive, because they are dead).

Romans 5:8Romans 5:8 (NKJ)
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God loved the world (John 3:16John 3:16 (NKJ)
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
), but he died for us. Titus 3:4-5Titus 3:4-5 (NKJ)
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,
God loved mankind, but saved us. Note also Hebrews 9:28Hebrews 9:28 (NKJ)
so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
.

Romans 5:9-10Romans 5:9-10 (NKJ)
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Salvation from wrath comes through justification, which is by his blood - it is not simply an expectation based on "how could a loving God..."

Some see the wrath as being the final wrath (the text is future tense), but others point to current wrath, as Paul will soon talk about how to be currently saved from sin despite the continuous struggle while in the body. I think both are appropriate applications - we will be saved from all wrath of God in this life, and in the life to come (this does not mean that we will not have to face the natural consequences of our sin, and this also does not mean that we can escape the Lord's chastisement - Hebrews 12:4-7Hebrews 12:4-7 (NKJ)
You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?
).

I have been to a local church that insists nothing more than blood was needed for our salvation, and this is insisted to the exclusion of Jesus' death, yet Paul clearly says in Romans 5:9-10Romans 5:9-10 (NKJ)
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
that we are justified by his blood and reconciled to God through Jesus' death. Our complete salvation is in the shed blood of Jesus who died for us. The bleeding alone was not enough. There had to be a death - the death we had earned as wages for our sin (Romans 6:23Romans 6:23 (NKJ)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
).

Romans 5:11Romans 5:11 (NKJ)
And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
We should always make sure our boasting is in God through Jesus our Lord. In our flesh, our nature is to take our own credit. The NLT's "made us friends of God" is a notable deviation from the Greek.

Romans 5:12-17Romans 5:12-17 (NKJ)
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned– (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
On the surface this passage may appear to teach universalism. However, this is incompatible with the rest of scripture, or even the whole of Romans (Romans 10:9-17Romans 10:9-17 (NKJ)
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
). The key lies in verse 17Romans 5:17 (NKJ)
For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
. For the gift must be received. Universalism teaches that salvation will be foisted upon all.

Romans 5:12Romans 5:12 (NKJ)
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned–
Translation note from the Net Bible regarding ἐφ᾿ ᾧ (eph hō) ["because" in the NKJ, NET and CSB]:

The translation of the phrase ἐφ᾿ ᾧ (eph hō) has been heavily debated... Only a few of the major options can be mentioned here: (1) the phrase can be taken as a relative clause in which the pronoun refers to Adam, “death spread to all people in whom [Adam] all sinned.” (2) The phrase can be taken with consecutive (resultative) force, meaning “death spread to all people with the result that all sinned.” (3) Others take the phrase as causal in force: “death spread to all people because all sinned.”

For option 1, the idea would be that we sinned with Adam, as if we were there, because we were "in the loins" of Adam already. Consider the same concept regarding Levi having given tithes to Melchizedek in Genesis 14:18-20Genesis 14:18-20 (NKJ)
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.
and Hebrews 7:4-10Hebrews 7:4-10 (NKJ)
Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.
.

However, we must remember, that if in a sense "we were there" when Adam sinned, we might also say we were there when Christ died! Consider Galatians 2:20Galatians 2:20 (NKJ)
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
.

I think option 2, above, may be the best option. Adam is a type of Christ in the sense that his sinful act brought the result that we would all be sinners. Christ is the anti-type; his better act brought the result that we would all be saved (if we receive the gift).

Romans 5:13-17Romans 5:13-17 (NKJ)
(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
may be thought of as parenthetical, so re-read Romans 5:12, 18Romans 5:12, 18 (NKJ)
5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned–
5:18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.
for clarity.

Romans 5:13Romans 5:13 (NKJ)
(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
See Romans 4:15Romans 4:15 (NKJ)
because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.
and notes. See Romans 2:12Romans 2:12 (NKJ)
For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law
. While sin was in the world, and death was already resulting, the law came to give a personal charge of the sin to everyone's account. This made sin much worse; this made the sinfulness of sin much more apparent (Romans 7:13Romans 7:13 (NKJ)
Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.
).

Romans 5:14Romans 5:14 (NKJ)
Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
Paul is careful with his words here. We all sinned (before the law was given), and death reigned, but Adam "transgressed." Transgression is the breaking of a specific divine command. The NLT for verse 14 is good:

Still, everyone died—from the time of Adam to the time of Moses—even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did. Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come.

Adam was a type of Christ in that what he did had consequence for all who came after him (We are represented by Adam). Christ has saving consequence for all who put their faith in him (We are represented by Christ). Our death is in Adam, but our resurrection to life is in Christ. The first Adam became a living being and in his trespass, brought death to all of us. The last Adam (Christ) became a life-giving spirit, and did for us what the first Adam did not (Consider 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45-491 Corinthians 15:22, 45-49 (NKJ)
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive... And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
).

Romans 5:15-19Romans 5:15-19 (NKJ)
But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
Note all the contrasts and comparisons between the gift and the trespass.

Romans 5:15Romans 5:15 (NKJ)
But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.
The "much more" (CSB, NET, NKJ) of Jesus is a gift, but this does not mean it was free (1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:231 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23 (NKJ)
6:20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
7:23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.
; Revelation 5:9Revelation 5:9 (NKJ)
And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
).

Romans 5:16Romans 5:16 (NKJ)
And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.
Note the inverse. Through Adam, one act of trespass caused many to die. For Jesus, the one act of obedience brought justification (Philippians 2:8Philippians 2:8 (NKJ)
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
). However, Jesus' one act involved him taking on all the sins of the world - so "from many trespasses came the gift" Consider Mark 14:36Mark 14:36 (NKJ)
And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”
.

Romans 5:18-19Romans 5:18-19 (NKJ)
Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
Again, the gift must be received (verse 17Romans 5:17 (NKJ)
For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
). The gift of life is available to all and the work done at the cross is able to give life to all... who believe. These verses must be taken in context with the rest of the chapter, book and the whole of the Bible.

Romans 5:20Romans 5:20 (NKJ)
Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,
As noted above, death reigned before the law was given (Romans 5:13-14Romans 5:13-14 (NKJ)
(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
), because there was still consequence to Adam's sin (death). The law was given to further show the severity of the sin. Seeing the severity of sin, we also see the greatness of grace.

Romans 5:21Romans 5:21 (NKJ)
so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Again we see the comparison between the result of Adam's sin (it reigns in spreading death) and Christ's righteousness (spreads grace leading to eternal life through Jesus).
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Romans 6

Previously, Paul has talked about justification - our being granted the righteousness of God by having faith in Jesus (this redeems us from the penalty of sin). With chapter 6, Paul will begin to speak about our sanctification - our being purified and conformed to the image of Christ, which is a lifetime journey for the believer (this saves us from the power of sin). For this journey, Paul will lay down some positional truths that need to be reckoned to assist us in traveling the path towards sanctification.

Romans 6:2Romans 6:2 (NKJ)
Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
We have died to sin. We may not see this in our lives. Sin may still be present around us and in our members, but the true "us" has died to sin.

Romans 6:3Romans 6:3 (NKJ)
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
We have died to sin because we have been "baptized into Jesus' death." This is not water baptism, but our salvation - the true baptism into the kingdom via the death and resurrection of Christ that water baptism pictures. Galatians 3:26-27Galatians 3:26-27 (NKJ)
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
. IE: I don't believe that water baptism does anything, but instead pictures for the world what has been done by faith. OT symbols pointed forward to Christ. This NT symbol points back to Christ.

From Middletown Bible Church:

The word "baptism" comes from a verb which means "to immerse, to dip, to place something into something, and thus to identify totally with something."  The believer has been immersed into Jesus Christ and placed into God’s Son with the result that he is "IN CHRIST." This is where he has been positioned (placed, put).

Just as we have been placed into Christ, Christ has been placed into us. Jesus spoke of this in John 14:20John 14:20 (NKJ)
“At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
. This is our oneness in Christ and our oneness with each other. Also see John 17:22John 17:22 (NKJ)
“And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:
and 1 John 4:131 John 4:13 (NKJ)
By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
.

Romans 6:4Romans 6:4 (NKJ)
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
That newness of life includes our position in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 2:6Ephesians 2:6 (NKJ)
and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
). While we don't see it all now, we are much more one with Jesus than we realize. In Acts 9:4Acts 9:4 (NKJ)
Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
, we see this oneness - when Paul was persecuting Christians, Jesus said to Paul that Paul was persecuting Jesus (who was one with the Christians Paul was persecuting).

Romans 6:5Romans 6:5 (NKJ)
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
Notice the past tense nature of our being united with him in his death and the future tense nature of our being in his likeness. Our death to sin was at the cross, but the sanctification takes time and will not be completed until we see him at his coming, and will then be like he is (1 John 3:21 John 3:2 (NKJ)
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
). Our Christian life is to seek those things that represent the position we have in Christ (Colossians 3:1Colossians 3:1 (NKJ)
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
).

Romans 6:6Romans 6:6 (NKJ)
knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
The old man, our sinful selves, represents our former way of life in lust and deception and lying (Ephesians 4:22Ephesians 4:22 (NKJ)
that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,
; Colossians 3:9Colossians 3:9 (NKJ)
Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,
). All this is what has lost its power - it has been crucified with Christ; we are no longer sin's slaves. It was the law that gave sin its power. Romans 7:1-6Romans 7:1-6 (NKJ)
Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another–to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
will expand on Paul's concept here. Because our old self has died, our sinful nature has been crucified and is no longer bound or held in dominion to the law. Just as a woman is no longer bound to her husband if he dies, and the woman is free to marry another, we are also free to marry Christ and serve him in the newness of the Spirit.

Romans 6:7-10Romans 6:7-10 (NKJ)
For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
We are no longer sin's slaves, but we are dead, and thus free from sin in our having died to it. This death is in Christ, who both died and was raised, so we too, who are in Christ, are also raised and made alive to God.

In Romans Romans 6:1-10,14Romans 6:1-10,14 (NKJ)
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God... For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
the verbs are indicatives (what is/truths). Romans 6:11-13Romans 6:11-13 (NKJ)
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
are imperatives (what we must do).

From Middletown Bible Church:

The believer does not need to die unto sin every day. Christ died unto sin ONCE. The believer died unto sin ONCE (nearly 2000 years ago). I do not need to keep dying . . . I DIED! When Christ died, I died! But there is something that I do need to do every single day. This brings us to verse 11Romans 6:11 (NKJ)
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- RECKON!

Romans 6:11Romans 6:11 (NKJ)
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Reckon is Strong's G3049. This is the first command of the chapter. Based on the truths of Romans 6:1-10Romans 6:1-10 (NKJ)
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
(that we have died in Christ and that we have been made alive in Christ), this is the result. This is the command for the Christian. Other uses of Strong's G3049 in scripture include Romans 3:28, 6:11, 8:18Romans 3:28, 6:11, 8:18 (NKJ)
3:29 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.
6:11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
; Hebrews 11:19Hebrews 11:19 (NKJ)
concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.
; Philippians 4:8Philippians 4:8 (NKJ)
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.
; James 2:23James 2:23 (NKJ)
And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.
.

Romans 6:11Romans 6:11 (NKJ)
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
From the NICNT:

Yet the nature of Christian existence is such that the believer can, at times, live in a way that is inconsistent with the reality of what God has made him in Christ. It is not sin (who has died), but the believer, who has “died,” and sin, as Wesley puts it, “remains” even though it does not “reign.” Therefore, while “living in sin” is incompatible with Christian existence and impossible for the Christian as a constant condition, it remains a real threat. It is this threat that Paul warns us about in verse 2Romans 6:2 (NKJ)
Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
. (parenthetical mine)

Romans 6:12-13Romans 6:12-13 (NKJ)
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
With the correct reckoning from verse 11Romans 6:11 (NKJ)
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
, we are then told to not let sin reign in our bodies that we obey it (sin). This too is an imperative. Further, we are not to present ourselves (or parts of our body) to sin, but we are to present ourselves to God as one who is alive from the dead. Do we walk into an ungodly movie and say "Here I am!" or do we present ourselves to the Word of God and say "Change me from Glory to Glory!" (2 Corinthians 3:182 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJ)
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
; Romans 12:1Romans 12:1 (NKJ)
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
). Success in this depends on our knowing the facts of Romans 6:1-10Romans 6:1-10 (NKJ)
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
and the correct reckoning of Romans 6:11Romans 6:11 (NKJ)
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
. Otherwise, sin will reign. Also, to prevent becoming a believer in perfectionism (that we never sin), we must concur with many other scriptures (Romans chapter 7; 1 John 1:81 John 1:8 (NKJ)
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
). Our bodies, which can harbor sin, have not yet been redeemed. That comes at the resurrection (Romans 8:23Romans 8:23 (NKJ)
Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
and 1 Corinthians 15:51-541 Corinthians 15:51-54 (NKJ)
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed– in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
). If sin could not express itself once we were saved, then verses like Romans 6:11-13Romans 6:11-13 (NKJ)
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
and many others would not be necessary.

However, as stated by R.C. Sproul:

We can no longer use the excuse that the Devil made us do it unless, indeed, we are unregenerate. Even then, it is no excuse. “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.” We are not to obey sin anymore. Paul personifies sin as if it has an individual existence, as if it were a tyrant that would try to enslave us again. We are not to let that happen.

Romans 6:14Romans 6:14 (NKJ)
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
"Shall not" or "will have no" is an indicative verb as in Romans 6:1-10Romans 6:1-10 (NKJ)
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
, not imperative as in Romans 6:11-13Romans 6:11-13 (NKJ)
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
. The reckoning and presenting and letting we do in verses 11-13Romans 6:11-13 (NKJ)
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
is because of the truths presented before in verses 1-10Romans 6:1-10 (NKJ)
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
and here in verse 14Romans 6:14 (NKJ)
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
. The law brings knowledge of sin to make it more sinful. We are not under law. We can not present ourselves to God as one under the law (trying to follow rules and regulations). We must present ourselves to God by acknowledgment of his grace and our justification. If we don't focus on the many facets of the moral law and instead restrict ourselves to the 2-pronged gist of the moral law as Jesus taught it, we will seek to show our love to God and to others (Matthew 22:35-40Matthew 22:35-40 (NKJ)
Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the first and great commandment. “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
). If we truly do this, the rest will take care of itself. We will find we do not do things, not because the law says not to do them, but because we know those things hurts God's heart (consider the placement of "grieve" in the midst of Ephesians 4:25-32Ephesians 4:25-32 (NKJ)
Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
), and we won't want to hurt the heart of one we love.

The verb for "under" in Romans 6:14Romans 6:14 (NKJ)
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
is Strong's G5259 (hupo), which per Thayer, in the context of this verse, means "to be under, i.e. subject to the power of, any person or thing" (Definition II, 2). We are not Subject to the Power of Law, but are Subject to the Power of Grace. This same verb is used in this manner in Matthew 8:9Matthew 8:9 (NKJ)
“For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
. See Galatians 5:18Galatians 5:18 (NKJ)
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
. Grace loves and grace leads (but we must submit to that leading, as Paul will discuss next).

Romans 6:15Romans 6:15 (NKJ)
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!
Paul has brought up similar rhetorical questions previously. Romans 3:8, 6:1Romans 3:8, 6:1 (NKJ)
3:8 And why not say, “Let us do evil that good may come”?–as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just.
6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
. The KJV uses "God forbid!" in response to the question, but this is merely to show the force of Paul's denial - the word "God" is not used in the Greek.

Romans 6:16-19Romans 6:16-19 (NKJ)
Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
Paul here states that slavery to sin leads to death and slavery to obedience leads to life. In American and Western culture, freedom to do whatever we want is often seen as the ideal. Freedom is a foundational pillar behind many of the moral revolutions of our day. This concept of freedom is not biblical, and because of that, can be dangerous. When the Bible speaks of freedom, it is always in the confines of our slavery to Christ - obedience to God is true freedom. Consider how freedom is described in 2 Corinthians 3:15-182 Corinthians 3:15-18 (NKJ)
But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
(freedom to understand the gospel and be changed by it); Galatians 2:4, 5:1Galatians 2:4, 5:1 (NKJ)
2:4 And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage)
5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
(freedom to not be circumcised in following the letter of the law); Galatians 5:13-14Galatians 5:13-14 (NKJ)
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
(freedom is an opportunity to serve fellow Christians rather than pushing circumcision and legality); 1 Peter 2:13-171 Peter 2:13-17 (NKJ)
Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men– as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
(in our freedom we should honor human authority); and 2 Peter 2:192 Peter 2:19 (NKJ)
While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.
(read this whole chapter for the context - the secular concept of freedom is really a form of bondage and brings extreme damage when brought into the church).

What we submit to will become our master. If we continuously give ourselves over to sin, we will find ourselves enslaved by that sin (John 8:34John 8:34 (NKJ)
Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.
). If we give ourselves over to obedience to God (by believing the gospel), we will find that God is our master... and we will also find that his burden is light (Matthew 11:30Matthew 11:30 (NKJ)
“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
). We may think we can "play" with sin and it will be a one-time thing, but alas, we often find ourselves enslaved to that very sin.

Romans 6:17-19Romans 6:17-19 (NKJ)
But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
Before we get discouraged, we must note that we "were" slaves to sin, but because we believed the gospel, we have been delivered, and have become slaves of righteousness (these are indicative verbs). With this truth, we are now told to "present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness" (verse 19Romans 6:19 (NKJ)
I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
, NKJ). "Present" is an imperative verb. We are told to correctly present our members because we have become slaves of righteousness.

Note in these verses Paul is telling the truth of who we are in Christ (using indicative verbs). In chapter 7, Paul will deal with the incongruity we often face as Christians who struggle with sin. While Jesus has died to sin once and for all (verse 10Romans 6:10 (NKJ)
For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
, an indicative verb), we are to reckon ourselves dead indeed to sin (verse 11Romans 6:11 (NKJ)
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
, an imperative verb).

Romans 6:19Romans 6:19 (NKJ)
I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
Presenting ourselves to sin leads to more sin and more lawlessness. We may think we can compromise on a point and it'll stop there - but it won't. We'll become slaves and we'll move deeper into unrighteousness. Sadly, we see the effect of such compromise in many churches today (note 2 Peter 2, referenced above).

Romans 6:20Romans 6:20 (NKJ)
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
In Genesis 6:5Genesis 6:5 (NKJ)
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
we see the total depravity of man before the flood. When we were slaves to sin, we were free in regard from righteousness. We were not in bondage to righteousness. It was not something that had a hold of us. There are no "good people" outside of Christ and even for those in Christ, their righteousness is not their own, but God's, and it has been given freely as a gift (Romans 5:17Romans 5:17 (NKJ)
For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
).

As stated by Joseph S. Excell in the Biblical Illustrator:

Very often the slaves of sin do not know that they are slaves. They talk about their freedom from restraint, they tell us they are their own masters, that the godly are slaves. Once I visited a madhouse. Some had one delusion, some another. One thought he was a king, another the heir to a fortune. But one thing they all believed, that they were in their right minds.

And in Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s Commentary:

Since no servant can serve two masters, much less where their interests come into deadly collision, and each demands the whole man, so, while ye were in the service of Sin, ye were in no proper sense the servants of Righteousness, and never did it one act of real service; whatever might be your conviction of the claims of Righteousness, your real services were all and always given to Sin.

And William MacDonald:

When they were slaves of sin, the only freedom they knew was freedom from righteousness. It was a desperate condition to be in—bound by every evil and free from every good!

And the NICNT:

As “slaves to sin,” people are “free” from the power and influence of the conduct that pleases God; they are deaf to God’s righteous demands and incapable of responding to them even were they to hear and respect them. For Paul makes it clear that those outside Christ, to varying degrees, can recognize right and wrong (cf. Romans 1:18-32Romans 1:18-32 (NKJ)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 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, 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. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 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. 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; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 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.
; 2:14-15Romans 2:14-15 (NKJ)
for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)
); but the power to do the right and turn from the wrong is not present. “All are under sin” (Romans 3:9Romans 3:9 (NKJ)
What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.
) and therefore incapable of doing God’s will.

Romans 6:21Romans 6:21 (NKJ)
What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
Many people think that they have to "give up" something to become a Christian; they want to cling to their lives as their own, but what are those things really? They are the things we were enslaved to - the freedom we thought we had was slavery. They are the things that were fruitless - they brought no good or life or health or vitality. They are the things that brought shame to our lives. They are the things that were leading to death. Yet so many want to hang on to these things, because they think in them is freedom, and life, and happiness. This is the deception. People are blind to what they need because they think they already have it.

Romans 6:22Romans 6:22 (NKJ)
But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
The statement of this verse is a truth. The verb "you have" (your fruit) (CSB, NKJ) is in the indicative tense (like verses 1-10,14Romans 6:1-10,14 (NKJ)
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God... For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
). Fruit which results in sanctification is a result of salvation and being freed from the power of sin. Like in verse 11, we must reckon or consider ourselves to bear fruit to sanctification (We should strive to reckon ourselves to all the truths taught in scripture).

Romans 6:23Romans 6:23 (NKJ)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Sin earns death. Death is the earned payment or wage of sin. Eternal life is not earned, but is a gift - it is given freely, even to those who have not earned it. Righteousness, resulting in eternal life, is a gift to us.
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Romans 7

Romans 7:1-6Romans 7:1-6 (NKJ)
Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another–to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
In Romans 6, Paul had been discussing how we are dead to sin, and because of that, sin has no power or authority over us (though it is still present in our members, as realized by the teaching concept of not submitting ourselves to sin). Here, Paul will use the analogy of a marriage. In marriage, once a husband dies, the wife is no longer under the authority of her husband - the death brings a release of that authority. Similarly, we have died to the law, and because of this, the law no longer has authority over us. In addition, because we are no longer "married to" the law, we are free to "marry" Christ (Romans 7:4Romans 7:4 (NKJ)
Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another–to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.
). The difference is in that it is not the law (the husband, the one with authority) who has died (for the law can not die in this age - Matthew 5:17-18Matthew 5:17-18 (NKJ)
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
, Romans 3:31Romans 3:31 (NKJ)
Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
, Mark 13:31Mark 13:31 (NKJ)
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
, Isaiah 40:8Isaiah 40:8 (NKJ)
The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”
), but it is we (the wife) who have died through the body of Christ (Romans 7:4Romans 7:4 (NKJ)
Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another–to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.
). In our death, we are then released from the authority the law had over us, but we are raised again and made alive with Christ and given to his authority so that we can bear fruit for God. Consider Romans 6:4Romans 6:4 (NKJ)
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
and Colossians 3:1-6Colossians 3:1-6 (NKJ)
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,
.

It may at first appear that the analogy doesn't work well because the analogy says the husband has to die to release the wife. However, the husband (the law) can not die, so the wife dies instead. The analogy works because the wife's death is in the wife (who represents us) being crucified with Christ - dying with him. However, this also gives us a new life (Romans 6:4, 8Romans 6:4, 8 (NKJ)
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life... Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him
), and in that new life we can be married to Christ. We are the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:22 Corinthians 11:2 (NKJ)
For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
, Hosea 2:19-20Hosea 2:19-20 (NKJ)
“I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me In righteousness and justice, In lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, And you shall know the Lord.
, Revelation 19:7Revelation 19:7 (NKJ)
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”
).

Romans 7:1Romans 7:1 (NKJ)
Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?
Study note from the NLT Illustrated Study Bible:

Paul may be paraphrasing a rabbinic saying: “If a person is dead, he is free from the Torah and the fulfilling of the commandments.” (Babylonian Shabbat 30a, baraita Shabbat 151).

Romans 7:7-12Romans 7:7-12 (NKJ)
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.
So that there be no confusion that the Law is somehow bad or sin, Paul makes clear that the law is holy, but that it causes us to know sin, and makes the sin in us alive, which then kills us (the wages of sin is death). The evil is not the law, but the sin that is in our members.

Rom 7:6+ (Spoiler alert) We have been released from the Law by dying to it, so we can now serve God, and because of this we should not sin. However, a gracious text follows. Paul shows us how sin was made alive by the law, and in this, the law revealed what sin is (verse 7bRomans 7:7b (NKJ)
I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”
, with the example of coveting). Paul shows us that the sin exposed by the law was the very sin that killed us (verse 10Romans 7:10 (NKJ)
And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.
) - through deception (verse 11Romans 7:11 (NKJ)
For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.
). This is all past tense (through verse 13Romans 7:13 (NKJ)
Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.
). But when describing continued struggles between Paul's mind/spirit and his flesh (sarx), Paul uses present tense verbs, as we will see below. If our minds desire to serve Christ and we struggle with sin, we can be encouraged by seeing that Paul too had this struggle. Paul's ultimate answer was assurance that there is no condemnation in Christ. He knew not to look to himself for the answer, but to Christ. We too can find this same assurance.

Romans 7:9Romans 7:9 (NKJ)
I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.
From R.C. Sproul's commentary on Romans:

Apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died (v. 9). We were at peace. We were happy. We were getting along fine without the law. “I was being one of the guys. I did not go to sleep at night wallowing in guilt. I was happy”—that is the language used today to describe the difficult metaphors Paul is using here. Paul says he was feeling great, without guilt, and then he died when the law revived sin in him. If we think back to our pre-Christian days, were we overburdened by a sense of sin and guilt? Not until the Holy Spirit brought his conviction on us, quickened our consciences, and made us alive to the law did we feel for the first time the weight of our guilt. That is what drove us to Christ and gave us a new life.

To be alive without the law is to be alive without the mirror (consider James 1:23James 1:23 (NKJ)
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;
). We may have spinach in our teeth and mud on our faces, but until we look in that mirror, we will not realize our "dirtiness." The law is like the mirror in that it can only show us our dirt. It can not clean us.

Romans 7:11Romans 7:11 (NKJ)
For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.
"Do this and you'll be happy" is the deception of sin, but the reality is "do this and you will die." People confuse temporary pleasure with happiness. Never finding happiness, we continue to seek it out in pleasure, but in all reality, we are killing ourselves all the more.

Consider James 1:12-15James 1:12-15 (NKJ)
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
In times of trial we may be drawn away by evil desire, which leads to sin, which brings death. James is speaking to Christians. We must always be vigilant.

Consider Hebrews 3:12-15Hebrews 3:12-15 (NKJ)
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.
Speaking to Christians, the writer of Hebrews says we can have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns us away from God. We need to encourage each other today because sin is always waiting to deceive us. This is the continual war until the end (sin will always be attempting to draw us away in this life).

Jeremiah 17:9Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJ)
“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?
says that "The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable - who can understand it?" Some commentators say that this verse only applies to the unregenerate sinner and not to Christians, especially as the Word says in Ezekiel 11:19Ezekiel 11:19 (NKJ)
“Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,
that God will remove the heart of stone and give Israel integrity of heart and a heart of flesh (see also Ezekiel 36:26Ezekiel 36:26 (NKJ)
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
). Others warn that Christians should be careful not to trust their hearts.

Things to consider:

  1. In both Ezekiel verses, the prophecy seems to be for a time of restoration for the Jewish people to their land that has not yet occurred (an end-time restoration). If this is the context of the verses regarding a new heart of flesh, then the passage is not yet fulfilled and the Jeremiah warning still stands.
  2. When read in the context of the whole chapter, this verse is applied to God's people (Judah). God speaks of those who trust in their own flesh/strength and then of those who trust in the Lord. Immediately after this, the warning about the heart is given. Context completely changes the possibilities regarding how this verse should be understood.
  3. In Romans, Paul distinguishes among the part of him that is saved ("in my inner self I delight in God's law"- Romans 7:22Romans 7:22 (NKJ)
    For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
    ) and the part of him that he is stuck with while still on this earth ("but I see a different law in the parts of my body," - Romans 7:23aRomans 7:23 (NKJ)
    But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
    ). Our "body of death (verse 24Romans 7:24 (NKJ)
    O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
    ) is not just our physical body, but it includes an aspect of our thinking and heart - and this aspect of us can not be trusted even after we are saved. This part of us is deceitful and incurable. It is against this aspect of ourselves that we must war until we are finally changed at the resurrection (or when we die).

In Romans 7:5, 18, and 25Romans 7:5, 18, 25 (NKJ)
7:5 For when we were in the flesh [sarx], the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.
7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh [sarx]) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
7:25 I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh [sarx] the law of sin.
, Paul uses the Greek G4561 (sarx) to refer to his flesh (NKJ, NET, CSB) / sinful nature (NLT). Thayer's fourth definition for this word is:

The flesh, denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God.

If we know people/preachers who, rather than continuously turning to the word of God, instead speak mostly of what they feel/believe/see/envision "in their heart" we should be wary of these people.

Romans 7:12Romans 7:12 (NKJ)
Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.
Paul is careful to note that the law and commandments are holy.

Romans 7:13Romans 7:13 (NKJ)
Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.
In verse 7Romans 7:7 (NKJ)
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.
we saw that the law reveals sin (see also Romans 3:20Romans 3:20 (NKJ)
Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
). We saw in verses 5 and 9Romans 7:5, 9 (NKJ)
7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.
7:9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.
that the law arouses sin. Now in verse 13Romans 7:13 (NKJ)
Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.
we see that the law magnifies sin and gives sin its power (see also 1 Corinthians 15:561 Corinthians 15:56 (NKJ)
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.
). Paul is clear here in showing that it is not the law which brings death, but sin.

Romans 7:14-25Romans 7:14-25 (NKJ)
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
There are a few common interpretations of this section of scripture:

  1. Paul is speaking about his former unsaved self and this passage does not apply to his new Christian self. This is the common view of the holiness movement (those who believe in perfection from sin in this life).
  2. Paul is speaking of the unsaved world in general and this passage does not apply to Christians.
  3. Paul is speaking to his current struggles as a Christian - a Christian who still lugs around his "flesh" and has not yet been made perfect (I believe this is the only true interpretation).

To assume option #1, above, you have to assume that Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has suddenly forgotten how to use past-tense verbs, even though his writings as a whole prove his knowledge of the past tense (as do the immediately proceeding verses). This is a ludicrous position which is sadly proclaimed by many in the church in their efforts to dismiss this difficult passage as non-relevant to the Christian life.

To assume option #2, you have to find reason Paul keeps using the personal pronoun "I" in the present tense to refer to the unsaved world.

Romans 7:14Romans 7:14 (NKJ)
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.
Note the switch to the present tense. Consider 1 Corinthians 3:1-41 Corinthians 3:1-4 (NKJ)
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?
. It is possible for those who have been saved and thus who have died to the law and been raised into Christ to be worldly. As Paul became closer to God, he seemed to be acutely aware of his own failings. Those who get closer to the light realize their true condition (Isaiah 6:5Isaiah 6:5 (NKJ)
So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.”
, 1 Corinthians 15:91 Corinthians 15:9 (NKJ)
For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
, Ephesians 3:8Ephesians 3:8 (NKJ)
To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
, 1 Timothy 1:151 Timothy 1:15 (NKJ)
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
).

Romans 7:15Romans 7:15 (NKJ)
For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.
Why does Paul complain he is a slave to sin? Because he does what he doesn't want to do and doesn't do what he wants to do.

Romans 7:16Romans 7:16 (NKJ)
If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.
He doesn't rejoice in what he does/doesn't do. He agrees it's wrong, and the law, which points out his sin is good. This is a difference between Christian who sins and the heathen who doesn't care about his sin. Paul not only knows the sin he does is wrong, but he also agrees that the law is good. Some non-Christians may agree that what they do is "wrong," but it is only "wrong" by society's standards, or because it would embarrass their mother, not because they agree that the law of God is good.

But even still, as Christians, we all sin (1 John 1:8-101 John 1:8-10 (NKJ)
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
).

Romans 7:17Romans 7:17 (NKJ)
But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
Paul, who has made a clear case about his deliverance from sin, must rectify this incongruity. He must resolve this cognitive dissonance. And here is the key... there is a true Paul, who is saved and in Christ, and there is this sin which still lives in him - these are the two that will be at war with each other until the day of death or the final redemption (see verse 23Romans 7:23 (NKJ)
But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
).

We also see a similar distinguishing between the inward man and outward man/physical bodies in 2 Corinthians 4:162 Corinthians 4:16 (NKJ)
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
.

As stated in Joseph Benson's commentary (and credited to Macnight):

By distinguishing his real self, that is, his spiritual part, from the self, or flesh, in which sin dwelt, and by observing that the evil actions which he committed were done, not by him, but by sin dwelling in him, the apostle did not mean to teach that wicked men are not accountable for their sins, but to make them sensible of the evil of their sins, by showing them that they are all committed in direct opposition to reason and conscience, the superior part of their nature, at the instigation of passion and lust, the lower part.

Paul is not making excuse for sin, as he still holds that if you live according to the flesh, you will die (Romans 8:13Romans 8:13 (NKJ)
For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
). Paul also does not claim to be sin, but instead says that sin is a separate... thing... that dwells in him. This same verb (G3611) is used of the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:9, 11Romans 8:9, 11 (NKJ)
8:9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 8:11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
and 1 Corinthians 3:161 Corinthians 3:16 (NKJ)
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
. It is used of husband and wife in 1 Corinthians 7:12-131 Corinthians 7:12-13 (NKJ)
But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him.
. This suggests that the dweller does have influence over the house the dweller dwells in (so sin influences us, and it is this that we must battle)

As stated by Thomas Constable:

It comes as a terrible discovery for a new believer, or an untaught believer, to realize that our problem with sin is complex. We are sinners not only because we commit acts of sin (ch. 3) and because, as descendants of Adam, we sin because he sinned (ch. 5). We are also sinners because we possess a nature that is thoroughly sinful (ch. 7). Jesus Christ paid the penalty for acts of sin, He removed the punishment of original sin, and He enables us to overcome the power of innate sin.

As discussed by Arno C. Gaebelein in the Annotated Bible:

It is a great discovery to find out by experience, that although the believer is born again, he has a nature in him which is evil, which cannot bring forth a good thing. But the will is present with him to do good, because he is born again; however, he finds not the power in himself to perform what is good. And now the conflict between the two natures is on. It brings out some important facts. “It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.” He as born again, no longer loves sin; he hates it. Because he does that which he does not want to do he can truthfully say “it is no more I that do it.” Furthermore he delights in the law of God after the inward man. This can never be said of an unconverted man, but only he who has a new nature can delight in the law of God. But he finds himself in helpless captivity to the law of sin which is at work in his members. He finds out that while he has a new nature to will good and to hate evil, he has no power; sin is too strong for him. And this is to teach the believer that he must get power to overcome outside of himself. All his resolutions and good wishes cannot supply the strength to do. That he is self-occupied, seeking power by what he does and tries to do, is seen from the use of the little word “I.” The name of the One in whom we have deliverance, Christ, is not mentioned once. The case is clear, it is the description of the experience of a believer, who is justified, born again, in union with Christ, dead with Him, risen with Him and indwelt by the Holy Spirit; but he lacks the knowledge of this and tries by his own efforts and in his own strength, through keeping the law, to obtain holiness. Having discovered that nothing good dwells in his flesh; that the flesh is not himself, but sin in him and that, because it is too strong for him, he is powerless, the cry of despair is uttered by him. “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” He has reached the end of self. He looks now for deliverance from another source, outside of himself. The answer comes at once. “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In Him there is deliverance and what that deliverance is, we shall learn from the first four verses of the eighth chapter. The two laws are mentioned once more in the last verse of this chapter. With the mind, as born again, he serves the law and the law gives him no power; in the struggle with the old nature he is enslaved by the law of sin.

Romans 7:18Romans 7:18 (NKJ)
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
Even though Paul is saved and in Christ, in his flesh (Sarx), nothing good dwells. We must recognize this as believers. If we trust in our selves, that is, in our flesh, to do good, we will always fail. Recognizing that we carry around these bodies of flesh (not simply our physical bodies, but that part of us that still needs sanctified), we place our dependence in Christ and not in ourselves, and as we will see below, when we do fail, we don't forget that we are still saved and in Christ, and thus, there is no condemnation. Paul has the mind of Christ (the willing to do good), but in himself, he does not have the ability.

The ability to do good is only found in God's working in us (Philippians 2:13Philippians 2:13 (NKJ)
for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
). On this side of heaven, the power to do good will never be in ourselves. We will always be weak, but as we lean on Jesus, his strength will shine through us, both in making us better and in his great mercy revealed to us when we fail. After Paul lays out the struggle with our remaining flesh in chapter 7, he will speak to God's work in us in chapter 8. The two must be read together.

Romans 7:22Romans 7:22 (NKJ)
For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
Per the NLT Illustrated Study Bible, the Greeks used the phrase "inner man" ("all my heart" in the NLT) for the spiritual or immortal side of human beings. See 2 Corinthians 4:62 Corinthians 4:6 (NKJ)
For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
and Ephesians 3:16Ephesians 3:16 (NKJ)
that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,
.

From R.C. Sproul's commentary on Romans regarding verse 22Romans 7:22 (NKJ)
For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
:

If there is any question about whether Paul is talking about his pre-conversion state or his ongoing struggle after his regeneration, this one text should put that to rest forever, because no unregenerate person delights in the law of God in the inward person.

For the Sproul quote above, consider Gen 6:5; Psalms 14:1-3, 53:1, 74:18Psalms 14:1-3, 53:1, 74:18 (NKJ)
14:1-3 THE fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.
53:1 THE fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; There is none who does good.
74:18 Remember this, that the enemy has reproached, O Lord, And that a foolish people has blasphemed Your name.
; Romans 3:12Romans 3:12 (NKJ)
They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.
.

Romans 7:23Romans 7:23 (NKJ)
But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
The word "members" or "parts" are always used in the Bible to represent a portion of the whole (a part of the body -something that lies within us - within our body as a whole (G3196).

When we are saved, the Spirit of God moves into us. However, as long as we remain with unglorified bodies, the part of us that sins also still rests within us (Romans 7:18Romans 7:18 (NKJ)
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
). The new nature, which our mind agrees is Holy, still wrestles against our old nature, which is still within us. See Galatians 5:17Galatians 5:17 (NKJ)
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
.

Because of the new nature, we better know the extent of the uncleanness of our old nature, yet we have to battle it until we die or until Christ comes and we are perfected in the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:521 Corinthians 15:52 (NKJ)
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
). This battle is our present sanctification. Note Romans 8:23Romans 8:23 (NKJ)
Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
.

From Middletown Bible Church's study on Romans:
On the one side On the other side
The one who agrees with and delights in God’s law (vs. 16, 22Romans 7:16, 22 (NKJ)
7:16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.
7:22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
)
Indwelling sin (vs. 17, 20Romans 7:17, 20 (NKJ)
7:17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
7:20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
)
The one who hates sin (v. 15Romans 7:15 (NKJ)
For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.
)
The flesh in which is no good thing (v. 18Romans 7:18 (NKJ)
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
)
The one who desires and wills to do good (vs. 18-19Romans 7:18-19 (NKJ)
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
)
Ever-present evil (v. 21Romans 7:21 (NKJ)
I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.
)
"The inward man" (v. 22Romans 7:22 (NKJ)
For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
)
The "wretched man" (v. 24Romans 7:24 (NKJ)
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
)
The renewed "mind" (vs. 23, 25Romans 7:23, 25 (NKJ)
7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
7:25 I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
)
The flesh that is under the law of sin and death (vs. 23, 25Romans 7:23, 25 (NKJ)
7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
7:25 I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
)

Who is winning this war? Verse 23Romans 7:23 (NKJ)
But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
says that I have already lost! I am a prisoner of war! A captive! I’m defeated!

Romans 7:24Romans 7:24 (NKJ)
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
If Paul left it here, we would be miserable indeed, but there is a salvation in this war between the spirit/mind and the flesh/body. Fortunately, the letter continues in the next verse. Note that Paul doesn't ask what he can do. Paul doesn't ask what penance he needs to make. Paul doesn't look to himself at all, but recognizes that he needs a deliverer. We must have the same recognition.

Albert Barnes, in commentary on the final verses of chapter 7:

O wretched man that I am! - The feeling implied by this lamentation is the result of this painful conflict; and this frequent subjection to sinful propensities. The effect of this conflict is,
  1. To produce pain and distress. It is often an agonizing struggle between good and evil; a struggle which annoys the peace, and renders life wretched.
  2. It tends to produce humility. It is humbling to man to be thus under the influence of evil passions. It is degrading to his nature; a stain on his glory; and it tends to bring him into the dust, that he is under the control of such propensities, and so often gives indulgence to them. In such circumstances, the mind is overwhelmed with wretchedness, and instinctively sighs for relief. Can the Law aid? Can man aid? Can any native strength of conscience or of reason aid? In vain all these are tried, and the Christian then calmly and thankfully acquiesces in the consolations of the apostle, that aid can be obtained only through Jesus Christ.
I thank God - That is, I thank God for effecting a deliverance to which I am myself incompetent. There is a way of rescue, and I trace it altogether to his mercy in the Lord Jesus Christ. What conscience could not do, what the Law could not do, what unaided human strength could not do, has been accomplished by the plan of the gospel; and complete deliverance can be expected there, and there alone. This is the point to which all his reasoning had tended; and having thus shown that the Law was insufficient to effect this deliverance. he is now prepared to utter the language of Christian thankfulness that it can be effected by the gospel. The superiority of the gospel to the Law in overcoming all the evils under which man labors, is thus triumphantly established; compare 1 Corinthians 15:571 Corinthians 15:57 (NKJ)
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
.

Romans 7:25Romans 7:25 (NKJ)
I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
Paul has been describing his struggle in carnality as a Christian. We all face this struggle. Even though we still have sin, we are to serve God with our mind (the mind and the inward man seem to be the same aspect of ourselves in these verses). While we do still sin, our thoughts should desire to obey the law of God. If we don't hate our sin, we have a problem. If we don't hate our sin, we must ask ourselves if we "really want to obey God's law" (NLT for v. 25Romans 7:25 (NLT'04)
Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God's law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
) despite our continued struggles with sin.

We need to look ahead to the instructions in Romans 12:1-2Romans 12:1-2 (NKJ)
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
, to present our bodies as a sacrifice to God AND be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we may prove was is good and the will of God. A sacrifice is put to death (our body). Our minds should want to live sinless, even though the body we are killing still remains with us.

Additionally, see the discussion at verse 11Romans 7:11 (NKJ)
For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.
, above.

In discussing Romans 7, R.C. Sproul's commentary on Romans includes the following:

When we are born again of the Spirit, the carnal disposition of our original nature is not destroyed. We have to fight against it from the day we are converted until the day we enter the gates of heaven. We all have a residual force of the flesh, the sarx, and we have to fight against it. In that sense, every Christian is a carnal Christian, but there is no such thing as a completely carnal Christian. The completely carnal are not Christians. On the other hand, there is no such a thing as a Christian who is carnal-less, one who is so Spirit filled that he does not have to struggle with the remnants of his own carnality. Such is the Christian life.


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Romans 8

Chapter divisions are not original so we should be careful not to divorce this section of scripture from Paul's overall thesis of Romans. Consider what Paul has been saying in Romans 7 regarding our continued struggle with sin, which is always lurking in our members, and which is contrary to that aspect of us that desires to obey/serve the law of God (Romans 7:14-25Romans 7:14-25 (BSB)
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do. But what I hate, I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I admit that the law is good. In that case, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh; for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do. Instead, I keep on doing the evil I do not want to do. And if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So this is the principle I have discovered: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law. But I see another law at work in my body, warring against the law of my mind and holding me captive to the law of sin that dwells within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I serve the law of God, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
). Paul realizes he can not solve this problem in his own strength, but that he must have a deliverer. That deliverer is Christ.

Some points to remember, which become obvious as we read Romans and the rest of scripture:

  1. As Christians, we are IN Christ and Christ is IN us (This is our permanent position) (Romans 6:11, 8:9, 12:5Romans 6:11, 8:9, 12:5 (BSB)
    6:11 So you too must count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
    8:9 You, however, are controlled not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
    12:5 so in Christ we who are many are one body, and each member belongs to one another.
    ).
  2. Only those who are IN Christ can please God (Hebrews 11:6Hebrews 11:6 (BSB)
    And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who approaches Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
    ) and belong to God (Romans 8:2Romans 8:2 (BSB)
    For in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set you free from the law of sin and death.
    ) (If we are IN Christ, we must be Christians).
  3. As Christians, we are not controlled by the flesh, but by the Spirit (Romans 8:9Romans 8:9 (BSB)
    You, however, are controlled not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
    ).
  4. Those "controlled by the flesh/in the flesh" are not Christians and cannot please God, no matter what good they appear to do (Romans 8:6-8Romans 8:6-8 (BSB)
    The mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind of the flesh is hostile to God: It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the flesh cannot please God.
    ).
  5. Even though we are not "controlled by the flesh" we are still have the flesh with us - so we are not "in the flesh" but rather, the flesh is still "in us" (Romans 7:18, 23Romans 7:18, 23 (BSB)
    I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh; for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out... But I see another law at work in my body, warring against the law of my mind and holding me captive to the law of sin that dwells within me.
    ).
  6. Our bodies might be "dead" because of sin (Romans 8:10Romans 8:10 (BSB)
    But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.
    ), but the Spirit has given us life. However, we still have "mortal" bodies (Romans 8:11Romans 8:11 (BSB)
    And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.
    ).
  7. Our "mortal" bodies are not yet redeemed; this is a future event (Romans 8:23Romans 8:23 (BSB)
    Not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
    ).
  8. Because we still have mortal bodies, they are still subject to decay (this will eventually be done away with - 1 Corinthians 15:53-541 Corinthians 15:53-54 (BSB)
    For the perishable must be clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come to pass: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
    ).
  9. Until that time, we groan (2 Corinthians 5:42 Corinthians 5:4 (BSB)
    So while we are in this tent, we groan under our burdens, because we do not wish to be unclothed but clothed, so that our mortality may be swallowed up by life.
    ), and our bodies can be subject to sin (Romans 6:12-13Romans 6:12-13 (BSB)
    Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires. Do not present the parts of your body to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and present the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness.
    ).
  10. When we succumb to sin, we must review the previous items on this list as well as Romans 8:1Romans 8:1 (BSB)
    Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
    , lest we become discouraged. See also Romans 8:31-39Romans 8:31-39 (BSB)
    What then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, freely give us all things? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is there to condemn us? For Christ Jesus, who died, and more than that was raised to life, is at the right hand of God— and He is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “ For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    .

Romans 8:1-2Romans 8:1-2 (BSB)
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set you free from the law of sin and death.
Read the first two verses of Romans 8 as a whole including at least Romans 7:24-8:2Romans 7:24-8:2 (BSB)
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I serve the law of God, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set you free from the law of sin and death.
. Paul reminds us that we are justified because with the mind we serve the law of God (Something we can only do as regenerate Christians), thus there is no condemnation. We have been set free from the power of the law by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (this is the law that did the setting free). All this is because we are in Christ Jesus. We are in Christ by faith. Even if our hearts condemn us, there is still no condemnation. God is greater than our hearts (1 John 3:201 John 3:20 (BSB)
Even if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and He knows all things.
).

John 3:18John 3:18 (BSB)
Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
shows that our condemnation is removed because of our belief in him (faith). Those who have not come to this point are still in their state of condemnation - why? Because they have not believed. Our being in Christ is by faith, and thus our state of non-condemnation is because of that same faith. This is done by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

As we'll see in this chapter (and in the whole of the New Testament), this is the state of the Christian. This is not a state we vacillate back and forth in depending on how spiritual we are on a given day, or on whether or not we have a sinful thought in a given moment. This is our permanent state in Christ. The verbs are always indicatives.

Romans 8:3Romans 8:3 (BSB)
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man, as an offering for sin. He thus condemned sin in the flesh,
The law, which is holy, was unable to accomplish this for us, due to the weakness of our flesh. It is for this reason that Christ came. His sacrifice brought us the justification we could not and can not earn on our own, as we are too weak.

Romans 8:4Romans 8:4 (BSB)
so that the righteous standard of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
The righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us by the Holy Spirit. It is not fulfilled by us because of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:5Romans 8:5 (BSB)
Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh; but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
Those who live according to the flesh "set their minds" (indicative). This shows us that Paul is speaking to our permanent states (either unsaved - who live according to the flesh, or saved - who set their minds on the things of the Spirit). Verses 6-8Romans 8:6-8 (BSB)
The mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind of the flesh is hostile to God: It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the flesh cannot please God.
support this as well.

Romans 8:7Romans 8:7 (BSB)
because the mind of the flesh is hostile to God: It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
The mind of the flesh is against God and always will be. Yet, while we see this law (of the flesh) at work within us, warring against the law of our minds and holding us captive to the law of sin that dwells within us (Romans 7:23Romans 7:23 (BSB)
But I see another law at work in my body, warring against the law of my mind and holding me captive to the law of sin that dwells within me.
), we also recognize that we are not controlled by the flesh or "in the flesh" (verses 8 and 9Romans 8:8-9 (BSB)
Those controlled by the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
). But even though we are not controlled by the flesh, it is still with us, and we are held captive to that while we still have these mortal bodies. Because of this captivity, we must always put our dependence on Christ, and never ourselves.

Romans 8:8Romans 8:8 (BSB)
Those controlled by the flesh cannot please God.
The unsaved cannot please God (Proverbs 15:8-9Proverbs 15:8-9 (BSB)
The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight. The Lord detests the way of the wicked, but He loves those who pursue righteousness.
). The world does not like this truth, but it is truth none-the-less. See also Hebrews 11:6Hebrews 11:6 (BSB)
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who approaches Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
.

Romans 8:9Romans 8:9 (BSB)
You, however, are controlled not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
"You are not in the flesh" and "Spirit of God lives in you" are indicatives. We are not controlled by the flesh because we are controlled by the Spirit because the Spirit of God lives in us because we are saved and belong to God. This does not negate that there is still sin living in us. This does not negate that we still have mortal bodies (verse 11Romans 8:11 (BSB)
And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.
). It does not negate that in a sense we are held captive to our mortal bodies while we are awaiting our final redemption.

In isolation, chapter 8 may make one think that he cannot sin if lead by the Spirit (especially if the differences between indicative and imperative verbs are not realized), but Romans 13:12-14Romans 13:12-14 (BSB)
The night is nearly over; the day has drawn near. So let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.
(along with several other scriptures) shows that this is not the case.

Romans 8:10-11Romans 8:10-11 (BSB)
But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.
Our body is dead, because sin brought death. As a Christian, the life we live is because Jesus gives life to our mortal bodies (which are dead in Christ - buried with him).

Sin will ultimately kill us. The wages of sin is death. When we accept Christ, we are buried with him - we die, and are raised with him to life - ultimately, in glorified bodies, but currently, in our mortal bodies, which are given life by the spirit. It's almost as if the method by which we are alive changes upon salvation; formerly - as "dead men walking" because of sin and now, as those with mortal bodies made alive only by Christ.

Romans 8:12Romans 8:12 (BSB)
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation, but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.
Therefore, we are to not live according to the flesh, but to God. We still have a choice. The obligation we have ("have" is an indicative verb - we cannot deny this obligation to to live to God) is a choice we can make, which includes the choice to do wrong.

Romans 8:13Romans 8:13 (BSB)
For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
These are indicatives. These are spiritual truths. We (ourselves) can not put to death the deeds of the body in this sense - only the Spirit of God can do that, and God did that in Christ (verse 3Romans 8:3 (BSB)
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man, as an offering for sin. He thus condemned sin in the flesh,
). We must remember we are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit (verse 9Romans 8:9 (BSB)
You, however, are controlled not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
). Our flesh has been crucified (Galatians 5:24Galatians 5:24 (BSB)
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
- crucified is an indicative verb). This is our position in Christ. We are no longer obligated to the flesh (verse 12Romans 8:12 (BSB)
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation, but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.
). It is because of these truths of our position in Christ that we are told to put to death our earthly nature (Colossians 3:5Colossians 3:5 (BSB)
Put to death, therefore, the components of your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry.
). Our Christian life seems to be to live out and grow into, via sanctification, our already established position in Christ. One day, at his return, we will see him as he is and that sanctification will be made complete in the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:521 Corinthians 15:52 (BSB)
in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
). Until then, we fight and strive towards the high calling of God (Philippians 3:12-14Philippians 3:12-14 (BSB)
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.
).

Romans 8:14Romans 8:14 (BSB)
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
We know we are God's children. We are all led by the Spirit. It may not seem like it as we do rebel, but even then, the Spirit convicts us and leads us back to the correct path. We can grieve the Spirit and we can work with him, but he sticks with us regardless, sanctifying us as we allow him to do so. For some, most of their works here will indeed burn, but the Spirit will not leave us and we will still be saved (1 Corinthians 3:13-151 Corinthians 3:13-15 (BSB)
his workmanship will be evident, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will prove the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive a reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as if through the flames.
- The rewards here are not salvation, but post-salvation rewards for good works done as a Christian. Some Christians, sadly, will do no good works, but they will still be saved because God is faithful, even when we are not).

The verb "led" in Romans 8:14Romans 8:14 (BSB)
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
is in the present tense: we are constantly and continually being led by the Spirit. He is ever working in our lives. He is either leading us along the right path or He is leading us back to the right path. He is either controlling us or convicting us, but He is always at work in us (He will never leave us--see Ephesians 4:30Ephesians 4:30 (BSB)
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
). We are either grieving Him or pleasing Him. With salvation, the true "us" is in the realm of the Spirit and we can never get out of that realm. Remember, we are "in the Spirit" (Romans 8:9Romans 8:9 (BSB)
You, however, are controlled not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
).

Romans 8:15-16Romans 8:15-16 (BSB)
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery that returns you to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
The term Abba is Aramaic for "Father" and means "father." It is a family term and can represent a son calling his father "dad," but it does not seem to mean a blind-faith cry of "Daddy!" as from a toddler or infant, despite this being a common preaching point. This seems to be a newer interpretation that "appeared" in the last century or so with no historical basis. Only used three times in the NT, the term is always attached to the Greek term for father. If I were to guess, Jesus introduced this term to show that he was not merely calling God "Father" (Something the Jews did not do) as a title (such as the Pope being a "Father), but to stress that God was also his "Dad." This idea would have been a shock to the Jews of Jesus day. Paul uses the term for similar reason - to show that his adoption as a son results in a true and full Sonship.

Abba adapted from A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Third Edition (BDAG):

Vocative form, orig. a term of endearment, later used as title and personal name; rarely used in ref. to God; father, translit. abba, Aram. form used in prayer (Dalman, Worte 157) and in the family circle, taken over by Greekspeaking Christians as a liturgical formula... Mark 14:36Mark 14:36 (BSB)
“Abba, Father,” He said, “all things are possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.”
; Romans 8:15Romans 8:15 (BSB)
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery that returns you to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
; Galatians 4:6Galatians 4:6 (BSB) And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” . Not found in patristic lit (literature of the ancient Church fathers).

1828 Websters:

AB'BA, n. In the Chaldee and Syriac, a father, and figuratively a superior. appen. In the Syriac, Coptic and Ethiopic churches, it is a title given to the Bishops, and the Bishops bestow the title, by way of distinction, on the Bishop of Alexandria. Hence the title Baba, or Papa, Pope or great father, which the Bishop of Alexandria bore, before the Bishop of Rome.

It is used in the Jewish Targum for Genesis 19:34Genesis 19:34 (BSB)
The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Look, I slept with my father last night. Let us get him drunk with wine again tonight so you can go in and sleep with him and we can preserve our father’s line.”
("I slept with my father last night").

From the CSB Worldview Study Bible:

Abba is an Aramaic term used by Jesus (Mark 14:36Mark 14:36 (BSB)
“Abba, Father,” He said, “all things are possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.”
), which suggests close familial connection. The term is more reverential than “Daddy.” It is more like “Father.”

Romans 8:17Romans 8:17 (BSB)
And if we are children, then we are heirs: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ— if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him.
See Galatians 4:7Galatians 4:7 (BSB)
So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, you are also an heir through God.
. Just as Jesus was received by the Father after his resurrection, so to will we be received by the father. We are "heirs of God." Getting to this point will involve suffering (Persecution, Strong's G4841. Only used here and in 1 Corinthians 12:261 Corinthians 12:26 (BSB)
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
.).

Romans 8:18Romans 8:18 (BSB)
I consider that our present sufferings are not comparable to the glory that will be revealed in us.
We will have troubles now. Paul had amazingly great troubles (2 Corinthians 11:23-282 Corinthians 11:23-28 (BSB)
Are they servants of Christ? I am speaking like I am out of my mind, but I am so much more: in harder labor, in more imprisonments, in worse beatings, in frequent danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea. In my frequent journeys, I have been in danger from rivers and from bandits, in danger from my countrymen and from the Gentiles, in danger in the city and in the country, in danger on the sea and among false brothers, in labor and toil and often without sleep, in hunger and thirst and often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from these external trials, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
), yet he called them light and momentary (2 Corinthians 4:172 Corinthians 4:17 (BSB)
For our light and momentary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that is far beyond comparison.
). If he could say his troubles were not comparable to the glory that will be revealed, then how great that coming glory must be.

Romans 8:19-21Romans 8:19-21 (BSB)
The creation waits in eager expectation for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will, but because of the One who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
It is not only us, but all of nature and the earth has been cursed by God because of our sin, and all of the earth is waiting for the final redemption, which will come when we are finally revealed at Jesus' coming. Just as our slavery to sin brought creation (the world around us) to slavery to decay, so too our freedom in Christ will bring creation freedom from its corruption and decay.

Romans 8:23Romans 8:23 (BSB)
Not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Our redemption is not yet complete, which is why we have the struggles we have. Like all of nature, we groan inwardly awaiting our final adoption (or the completion of our adoption which corresponds with the redemption of our bodies).

There are some aspects of our final redemption that we have currently. We have forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7Ephesians 1:7 (BSB)
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
, Colossians 1:14Colossians 1:14 (BSB)
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
). We are "in Christ Jesus" who is wisdom for us regarding righteousness, holiness and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:301 Corinthians 1:30 (BSB)
It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God: our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.
). We have knowledge that we have been redeemed from the empty way of life in which we once lived (1 Peter 1:18-191 Peter 1:18-19 (BSB)
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life you inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or spot.
).

Romans 8:24-25Romans 8:24-25 (BSB)
For in this hope we were saved; but hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he can already see? But if we hope for what we do not yet see, we wait for it patiently.
There are some aspects of our final redemption that we do not have currently, but that we know will be granted to us. We have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is a pledge of what will come at the final redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14, 4:30Ephesians 1:13-14, 4:30 (BSB)
1:13-14 And in Him, having heard and believed the word of truth— the gospel of your salvation— you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the pledge of our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession, to the praise of His glory.
4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
). Here in Romans 8:23Romans 8:23 (BSB)
Not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
we see that we have the "firstfruits" of the Spirit, yet we still groan inwardly as we await our final adoption and "the redemption of our bodies." (consider the ramifications of having not-yet redeemed physical bodies). This redemption (of our bodies) is our hope - something we do not yet see (Romans 8:24-25Romans 8:24-25 (BSB)
For in this hope we were saved; but hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he can already see? But if we hope for what we do not yet see, we wait for it patiently.
). Philippians 1:6Philippians 1:6 (BSB)
being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
shows that the work of salvation has been "begun" but will continue until it is completed at the day of Christ.

Romans 8:26Romans 8:26 (BSB)
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words.
This occurs at the same time as the waiting Paul has just been discussing. While we are waiting, groaning inwardly (verse 23Romans 8:23 (BSB)
Not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
) hoping (defined as confidently expecting a future event), and awaiting the final redemption of our bodies, at the same time, the Spirit is helping us in our weakness, especially in prayer. I do not see reason to assume this action of the spirit is "speaking in tongues" as even unknown tongues are assumed to be words, whether human or angelic, depending on one's beliefs, and these groanings are defined as being too deep for words (ESV, NASB, LSB, AMP, RSV, NRSV), too deep for utterance (AmpCL), inexpressible (CSB, NET) or which cannot be uttered (NKJ, KJV).

<tangent> Note how different every scholarly translation is from the imaginations of Brian Simmons in his Passion "Translation" of Rom 8:26:

And in a similar way, the Holy Spirit takes hold of us in our human frailty to empower us in our weakness. For example, at times we don't even know how to pray, or know the best things to ask for. But the Holy Spirit rises up within us to super-intercede24 on our behalf, pleading to God with emotional sighs25 too deep for words.

Footnote 24: The Greek word hupererentugkhano is best translated "super [or hyper]-intercede for us." We can only imagine how many blessings have poured into our lives because of the hyper-intercession of the Holy Spirit for us!

The word in question is Strong's G5241, which is defined as follows:

  • Thayer: to intercede for one.
  • Strong's: make intercession for.
  • NASB and LSB Greek Dictionaries: to intercede, to make petition for.
  • Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: “to intercede,” “plead for,” “supplicate on behalf of”
  • Abbott-Smith: to intercede or make petition for
  • Liddell & Scott: to intercede, ὑπέρ τινος for one
  • BDAG: to intercede in behalf of another, plead, intercede

As is often the case, Brian Simmon's translation has no basis in reality. First, he imagines that the Spirit's work in this verse "rises up within us." In reality, the text does not say this work of the Spirit is within us at all - it only says this is something the Spirit does on our behalf. Second, he footnotes a fake definition of a Greek word to support his idea of "super-intercede." Many readers will blindly assume Simmons is correct and revel in their new knowledge, not simply of the intercession of the Spirit, but of the hyper/super intercession of the Spirit that rises up within them. With this, Hindu-like ecstatic states of unintelligible "prayer" are now justified with scripture. Simmons should note Proverbs 30:5-6Proverbs 30:5-6 (BSB)
Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you and prove you a liar.
. </tangent>

Romans 8:26Romans 8:26 (BSB)
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words.
seems to refer to a ministry of the Holy Spirit who, on his own, intercedes for us with things we cannot express or utter. The text does not say here that the Spirit intercedes "through" us via our own tongues. All respected versions say "for" and not "through." Some original Greek manuscripts do not even contain the preposition in the first place. Similar to what is ascribed to the Holy Spirit in this verse, Christ also intercedes for us, from his position at the right hand of God: Romans 8:34Romans 8:34 (BSB)
Who is there to condemn us? For Christ Jesus, who died, and more than that was raised to life, is at the right hand of God— and He is interceding for us.
. Also Hebrews 7:25Hebrews 7:25 (BSB)
Therefore He is able to save completely those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them.
.

Romans 8:27Romans 8:27 (BSB)
And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
We can trust the Spirit's prayers because God knows both us (he searches our hearts) and the will of God, and therefore can intercede with perfection. The "He" of this verse is not specified, though we know it is God (The NLT Specifies it as "the Father" but this is the translator's assumption which is unsupported by the Greek pronoun). It could be the Spirit, as the Spirit searches all things (1 Corinthians 2:101 Corinthians 2:10 (BSB)
But God has revealed it to us by the Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
), but Jesus also examines the minds and the hearts (Revelation 2:23Revelation 2:23 (BSB)
Then I will strike her children dead, and all the churches will know that I am the One who searches minds and hearts, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
) as does the Father (Jeremiah 17:10Jeremiah 17:10 (BSB)
I, the Lord, search the heart; I examine the mind to reward a man according to his way, by what his deeds deserve.
). Every member of the trinity is God and all fully know the will of God and the hearts of men.

Romans 8:28-29Romans 8:28-29 (BSB)
And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.
And what is the result of this intercession? The glorious truth that we can trust that ALL Things work together for our good if we love God and are called according to his purpose. This does not say that all things will be wonderful in the moment - but that they will work together for our good - and that good is that we will be conformed to the image of his Son. As we have seen, the sanctification that conforms us can be trying in the moment (Romans 5:3-5Romans 5:3-5 (BSB)
Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.
, James 1:2-4James 1:2-4 (BSB)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
).

Romans 8:30Romans 8:30 (BSB)
And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.
Romans 8:29Romans 8:29 (BSB)
For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.
says that those God foreknew, he predestined. Some say this creates a five link chain: foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. We should note that Romans 8:29Romans 8:29 (BSB)
For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.
specifically says that those whom God foreknew he also predestined. The "also" is accurate from the Greek (Strong's G2532) and does not mean "then." The text does not say that those God foreknew he then predestined. Some need the text to state this for their interpretations of the text to work (this seems especially true of the "tunnel of time" people). It is quite possible from the text that the predestination and foreknowledge have both always been the case for the believer. Adding verse 30Romans 8:30 (BSB)
And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.
, it is quite possible that our predestination, foreknowledge, calling, justification and glorification have always been spiritual "facts" regarding our position in Christ. Because we do not see all fully worked out in our lives now (we will be like him when we see him as he is), it may seem to us that one follows the other, but in this passage, even things not fully worked out in the present time are stated in the past tense. Some commentators state this past tense is Paul's way of stating his absolute surety of our ultimate glorification, but it may also be that in God's eyes, these things have already been accomplished, and thus, are written in the past tense.

Note also that foreknowledge means "to have knowledge of beforehand; to foreknow." This word does not mean "to look down the corridors of time to learn what will happen." God does not learn from us. While some things are revealed to us as time passes, those things have always been known to God. This is how this word is used by Peter in reference to Jesus (1 Peter 1:201 Peter 1:20 (BSB)
He was known before the foundation of the world, but was revealed in the last times for your sake.
).

Calvinists use these verses to prove predestination (which we won't take a deep dive into here), but the idea of predestination as being "no one can come to Christ unless God makes them able, and thus some, no matter how much they want to, still go to hell" is not an accurate representation of the whole of scripture, or even of Calvinism. We must remember scripture shows the universal call and choice we must all freely make: Isaiah 55:1Isaiah 55:1 (BSB)
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you without money, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost!
; Matthew 10:32, 11:28Matthew 10:32, 11:28 (BSB)
10:32 Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father in heaven.
11:28 Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
; Luke 12:8Luke 12:8 (BSB)
I tell you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will also confess him before the angels of God.
; John 3:16, 7:37-38John 3:16, 7:37-38 (BSB)
6:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
7:37-38 On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and called out in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said: ‘Streams of living water will flow from within him.’”
; Romans 10:9-13Romans 10:9-13 (BSB)
that if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved. It is just as the Scripture says: “Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Greek: The same Lord is Lord of all, and gives richly to all who call on Him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
; Revelation 21:6, 22:17Revelation 21:6, 22:17 (BSB)
21:6 And He told me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give freely from the spring of the water of life.
22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let the one who hears say, “Come!” And let the one who is thirsty come, and the one who desires the water of life drink freely.
.

John 6:35-37John 6:35-37 (BSB)
Jesus answered, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never hunger, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst. But as I stated, you have seen Me and still you do not believe. Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never drive away.
shows an interesting mix of the two sides of this argument. The father gives us to Jesus, but at the same time, any one of us who comes to Jesus will be accepted.

Matthew 23:37Matthew 23:37 (BSB)
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling!
shows God's desire that the Jewish people would have always come to him, yet they refused of their own will.

While we may never find the perfect words to explain this wisdom of God, as the perceived incongruities seem foolish to us, we must be careful to not dismiss the facts of the matter: God calls us with an irrevocable call and all who freely choose to turn to him will be accepted. Note 1 Corinthians 1:18-251 Corinthians 1:18-25 (BSB)
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks search for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
.

Romans 8:31-34Romans 8:31-34 (BSB)
What then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, freely give us all things? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is there to condemn us? For Christ Jesus, who died, and more than that was raised to life, is at the right hand of God— and He is interceding for us.
Having spent a great deal of time talking about the sinfulness of man, whether Jew or Greek, and having discussed how we can not save ourselves, or even do what we want to due to sin living in us, Paul says that the answer is in Jesus; in him, there is no condemnation (this takes us to Romans 8:1Romans 8:1 (BSB)
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
). Paul has assured us that even though we still sin, we are not "controlled by the flesh" (Romans 8:9Romans 8:9 (BSB)
You, however, are controlled not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
) and that the Spirit of God lives in us (Romans 8:10-11Romans 8:10-11 (BSB)
But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.
).

Yet still, we have the flesh with us as we are awaiting our final adoption (completed adoption) and the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23Romans 8:23 (BSB)
Not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
). While we wait, the Spirit helps us (Romans 8:26Romans 8:26 (BSB)
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words.
). We know that everything works for good and that we will be conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29Romans 8:29 (BSB)
For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.
). We know we will be glorified (which is already true in the past tense in a sense that we do not always live up to) (Romans 8:30Romans 8:30 (BSB)
And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.
).

But - because we are human, and still have our frailties, Paul knows we may well condemn ourselves when we see our own failings, even though he has already told us there is no condemnation. He knows others may condemn us - even for being a Christian in this non-Christian world. He knows that the enemy will accuse us (Revelation 12:10Revelation 12:10 (BSB)
And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ. For the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down— he who accuses them day and night before our God.
). To this self/world/demonic condemnation, Paul tells us in Rom 8:31 that "if God is for us, who can be against us?" To this rhetorical question, the answer is "NO ONE."

If God gave up Jesus for us (Romans 5:8-9Romans 5:8-9 (BSB)
But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Therefore, since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from wrath through Him!
), how will that same God not freely give us all things (salvation, justification, sanctification, etc.)? Who can bring a charge against us? No one - for God has justified us (Romans 8:33Romans 8:33 (BSB)
Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
). Because Jesus died and rose again, and is interceding for us, there is no one to condemn us. If in our inner being we delight in God's law (Romans 7:22Romans 7:22 (BSB)
For in my inner being I delight in God’s law.
), no matter the mistakes we make, we know we are safe in Christ. This is not a license to sin (I'm almost surprised Paul didn't make yet another rhetorical question to that effect here as hedid in Romans 3:8, 6:1, 6:15, 7:7, 7:13Romans 3:8, 6:1, 6:15, 7:7, 7:13 (BSB)
3:8 hy not say, as some slanderously claim that we say, “ Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is deserved!
6:1 What then shall we say? Shall we continue in sin so that grace may increase?
6:15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law, but under grace? Certainly not!
7:7 What then shall we say? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed, I would not have been mindful of sin if not for the law. For I would not have been aware of coveting if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”
7:13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? Certainly not! But in order that sin might be exposed as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
), but it is our comfort when we find we have sinned. It is to this point that Paul now asks his next rhetorical questions in Romans 8:31 - "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

Romans 8:35-39Romans 8:35-39 (BSB)
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “ For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In addition to no one condemning us, nothing can separate us from God's love either. In this world, it may seem like we are outside of God's love umbrella due to trouble, or distress, or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword, but that is not the case. We may face death in this world, but it is for the next world that God is ultimately concerned. Even in these negatives we are more than conquerors as the sufferings work towards our sanctification (Romans 5:3-5Romans 5:3-5 (BSB)
Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.
). See also John 10:27-30John 10:27-30 (BSB)
My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
.

The NLT translates "height nor depth" as "No power in the sky above or in the earth below" Quite possibly Paul's intention, but the Greek is simply height or depth. Similar use is found in Ephesians 3:18Ephesians 3:18 (BSB)
will have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth
, where Paul uses the term "width and length and depth and height" to show the complete expansiveness of the love of Christ. Just as in Romans 8:39Romans 8:39 (BSB)
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
, there is no clear object to the directional dimensions.
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Romans 9

Romans 9 overview points (Romans 9-11 are a single thought and should be considered as a whole):

  1. Romans 9 is the Calvinists' "Proof Chapter." Before addressing this chapter, note that even the apostle Peter said that Paul wrote some things which were hard to understand (2 Peter 3:14-162 Peter 3:14-16 (BSB)
    Therefore, beloved, as you anticipate these things, make every effort to be found at peace— spotless and blameless in His sight. Consider also that our Lord’s patience brings salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom God gave him. He writes this way in all his letters, speaking in them about such matters. Some parts of his letters are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
    ).

  2. Many Jews today will dismiss Jesus as not being the Messiah because most Jews in history have not accepted Jesus as Messiah (the assumption seems to be the Messiah would not be missed, and because of this, Jesus could not have been the Messiah). In this chapter, Paul will address why so many of his fellow countrymen have not accepted the Messiah. The arguments used here may be beneficial in witnessing to Jews today.

Romans 9:1-4Romans 9:1-4 (BSB)
I speak the truth in Christ; I am not lying, as confirmed by my conscience in the Holy Spirit. I have deep sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my own flesh and blood, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory and the covenants; theirs the giving of the law, the temple worship, and the promises.
a Having just discussed the greatness of what we have in Christ - forgiveness and the promise that we will be conformed to His image and that no matter what we face in this life, nothing can separate us from His love, Paul now expresses his longing that his fellow Jews would come to the knowledge of the truth. His longing is so severe that he wishes he could himself be lost, if it would mean their salvation (verse 3Romans 9:3 (BSB)
For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my own flesh and blood,
). Do we have such a desire to see others saved? Compare Moses in Exodus 32:30-32Exodus 32:30-32 (BSB)
The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. Now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made gods of gold for themselves. Yet now, if You would only forgive their sin.... But if not, please blot me out of the book that You have written.”
, after the golden calf incident. Paul may have had Moses in mind here, as he does reference Moses in this section of scripture (Romans 9:14-18, 10:19Romans 9:14-18, 10:19 (BSB)
9:14-18 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Certainly not! For He says to Moses: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then, it does not depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden.
10:19 I ask instead, did Israel not understand? First, Moses says: “I will make you jealous by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation without understanding.”
).

Consider: If Paul had such a heart for his own people, do we think that God does not also have a heart of longing for his chosen people (Matthew 23:37Matthew 23:37 (BSB)
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling!
), or the world in general (John 3:16John 3:16 (BSB)
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
)? If we do not have such a heart, we should pray that God softens our hearts so we too would have God's desire for the lost. However, know that the answer to this prayer may bring sorrow and grief for those we love who are not saved. Paul had great sorrow and continual grief (verse 2Romans 9:2 (BSB)
I have deep sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.
). This does not say that God did not give Paul greater grace and comfort in the midst of his sorrow and grief, but we must acknowledge that the sorrow and grief was there as a part of his Christian life.

Paul's primary mission as an apostle has been to the Gentiles, so some may assume that this means that Paul has "abandoned" the Jews or thinks God has done so, but this passage should put to rest such misconceptions. Antisemitism among self-righteous Christians can fully be put to rest with Romans 11:13-24Romans 11:13-24 (BSB)
I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in the hope that I may provoke my own people to jealousy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the first part of the dough is holy, so is the whole batch; if the root is holy, so are the branches. Now if some branches have been broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others to share in the nourishment of the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, remember this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” That is correct: They were broken off because of unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will certainly not spare you either. Take notice, therefore, of the kindness and severity of God: severity to those who fell, but kindness to you, if you continue in His kindness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut from a wild olive tree, and contrary to nature were grafted into one that is cultivated, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
. While it might seem so, Romans 9 is not a sudden diversion into speaking of the Jews in Romans. In Romans 1:16Romans 1:16 (BSB)
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, then to the Greek.
, Paul has already stated that the gospel is for the Jew first, and also for the Greek. Similar language is used in Romans 2:9-10Romans 2:9-10 (BSB)
There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil, first for the Jew, then for the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, first for the Jew, then for the Greek.
.

Romans 9:4b-5Romans 9:4-5 (BSB)
the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory and the covenants; theirs the giving of the law, the temple worship, and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them proceeds the human descent of Christ, who is God over all, forever worthy of praise! Amen.
It was to the Jews to whom so much of God's grace and truth had been given. The following belonged to the Jews: adoption as sons (as a nation - Exodus 4:22Exodus 4:22 (BSB)
Then tell Pharaoh that this is what the Lord says: ‘Israel is My firstborn son,
), the glory (God's glory was with the children of Israel in the wilderness and it led them with the pillar of smoke by day and fire by night - Numbers 14:13-14Numbers 14:13-14 (BSB)
But Moses said to the Lord, “The Egyptians will hear of it, for by Your strength You brought this people from among them. And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have already heard that You, O Lord, are in the midst of this people, that You, O Lord, have been seen face to face, that Your cloud stands over them, and that You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
; the glory of God was with the ark, which went with them - 1 Samuel 4:21-221 Samuel 4:21-22 (BSB)
And she named the boy Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel,” because the ark of God had been captured and her father-in-law and her husband had been killed. “The glory has departed from Israel,” she said, “for the ark of God has been captured.”
; the glory filled the temple upon its dedication - 2 Chronicles 7:1-32 Chronicles 7:1-3 (BSB)
When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. The priests were unable to enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord: “For He is good; His loving devotion endures forever.”
), the covenants (the covenant with Abraham was an unconditional promise ultimately of and to Christ - Galatians 3:16Galatians 3:16 (BSB)
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say, “and to seeds,” meaning many, but “and to your seed,” meaning One, who is Christ.
; See also Jeremiah 31), the law (a conditional covenant - blessed if obeyed, cursed if not), the order of worship/service of God (which pictured Christ), and the promises [of Christ, such as in Isaiah 2:1-4Isaiah 2:1-4 (BSB)
This is the message that was revealed to Isaiah son of Amoz concerning Judah and Jerusalem: In the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways so that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Then He will judge between the nations and arbitrate for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer take up the sword against nation, nor train anymore for war.
, 7:14Isaiah 7:14 (BSB)
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel.
, 9:6-7Isaiah 9:6-7 (BSB)
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from that time and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this.
, 11:1-11Isaiah 11:1-11 (BSB)
Then a shoot will spring up from the stump of Jesse, and a Branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him— the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord. And He will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what His eyes see, and He will not decide by what His ears hear, but with righteousness He will judge the poor, and with equity He will decide for the lowly of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth and slay the wicked with the breath of His lips. Righteousness will be the belt around His hips, and faithfulness the sash around His waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the goat; the calf and young lion and fatling will be together, and a little child will lead them. The cow will graze with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play by the cobra’s den, and the toddler will reach into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the sea is full of water. On that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples. The nations will seek Him, and His place of rest will be glorious. On that day the Lord will extend His hand a second time to recover the remnant of His people from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
, Isaiah 28:16Isaiah 28:16 (BSB)
So this is what the Lord God says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will never be shaken.
, and so on; of the land (Genesis 15:18, 17:8Genesis 15:18, 17:8 (BSB)
15:18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I have given this land— from the river of Egypt to the great River Euphrates—
17:8 And to you and your descendants I will give the land where you are residing— all the land of Canaan— as an eternal possession; and I will be their God.”
- fulfillment, but without everlasting peace or purity in Joshua 21:43-45Joshua 21:43-45 (BSB)
Thus the Lord gave Israel all the land He had sworn to give their fathers, and they took possession of it and settled in it. And the Lord gave them rest on every side, just as He had sworn to their fathers. None of their enemies could stand against them, for the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel had failed; everything was fulfilled.
); that Abraham would be a great nation forever (Genesis 12:2Genesis 12:2 (BSB)
I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
, Jeremiah 31:36-37Jeremiah 31:36-37 (BSB)
“Only if this fixed order departed from My presence, declares the Lord, would Israel’s descendants ever cease to be a nation before Me.” This is what the Lord says: “Only if the heavens above could be measured and the foundations of the earth below searched out would I reject all of Israel’s descendants because of all they have done,” declares the Lord.
); of a time of future peace (Micah 4:3Micah 4:3 (BSB)
Then He will judge between many peoples and arbitrate for strong nations far and wide. Then they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer take up the sword against nation, nor will they train anymore for war.
- the peace noted in Joshua 21:43-45Joshua 21:43-45 (BSB)
Thus the Lord gave Israel all the land He had sworn to give their fathers, and they took possession of it and settled in it. And the Lord gave them rest on every side, just as He had sworn to their fathers. None of their enemies could stand against them, for the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel had failed; everything was fulfilled.
was not everlasting); and a promise of future peace and cleanness of God's people (Jeremiah 31:31-34Jeremiah 31:31-34 (BSB)
Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt— a covenant they broke, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord. I will put My law in their minds and inscribe it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they will be My people. No longer will each man teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquities and will remember their sins no more.”
), even as a nation in their own land (Ezekiel 36:24-29Ezekiel 36:24-29 (BSB)
For I will take you from among the nations and gather you out of all the countries, and I will bring you back into your own land. I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes and to carefully observe My ordinances. Then you will live in the land that I gave your forefathers; you will be My people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will summon the grain and make it plentiful, and I will not bring famine upon you.
)]. From the Jews was the human lineage of Christ, who is God over all, forever worthy of praise.

Consider: Do the covenant with Abraham, which was unconditional, and the covenant of the law, which was conditional, show that the promises of God are sure, while at the same time show we have freedom to choose?

In the midst of his sorrow and grief, we see Paul's hope immediately, for first "theirs is the adoption as sons." Paul has spoken of the Christian's adoption (Romans 8:15, 23Romans 8:15, 23 (BSB)
8:15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery that returns you to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
8:23 Not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
; Galatians 4:5Galatians 4:5 (BSB)
to redeem those under the law, that we might receive our adoption as sons.
; Ephesians 1:5Ephesians 1:5 (BSB)
He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will,
), and here he uses the word in application to the Israelites even though they have not accepted Christ. There are various options as to what Paul means here:

  1. The use of the term reflects Paul's confidence that God has not given up or abandoned Israel. Note "Adoption" is not an Old Testament term, so Paul is applying this New Testament revelation to his fellow Israelites (The word Adoption first appears in the Bible in Romans 8). I believe this is the best option.
  2. Some believe Paul is using the term as a summary of how God treated Israel in the Old testament, as they were a nation set aside, separated from the other nations around them, for God's purposes. This would not include salvation, but it would include the promises made which lead to the ultimate offer of salvation through Christ.
  3. Some use this passage of scripture to show that there are "two separate but equal" paths to heaven - the standard Christian path and the path of simply being a Jew. This is not supported when scripture, or even in the book of Romans, is read in context (recall chapters 2 and 3, and note what Paul will say later in this chapter, beginning with verse 6).

For those who want to write off the Jews as irrelevant or no longer loved now that Christianity has come, we must note what Paul will soon say in Romans 11:25-28Romans 11:25-28 (BSB)
I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you will not be conceited: A hardening in part has come to Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come from Zion; He will remove godlessness from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them when I take away their sins.” Regarding the gospel, they are enemies on your account; but regarding election, they are loved on account of the patriarchs.
(The Jehovah's Witnesses seem to want to do this, stating that God has transferred his love from the Jews to them).

Romans 9:5Romans 9:5 (BSB)
Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them proceeds the human descent of Christ, who is God over all, forever worthy of praise! Amen.
While the patriarchs/fathers belong to the Jews and it is from their ancestry that we receive the Christ, Paul does not say that the Christ is automatically "theirs." This is the reason for Paul's lamenting in the previous verses, and will be the point of much discussion in upcoming verses.

<JW Relevant Side Note>
The JW's wording of Romans 9:5 removes Jesus' deity, but their translation is possible from the Greek, due to lack of punctuation in the original:

2013 NWT: To them the forefathers belong, and from them the Christ descended according to the flesh. God, who is over all, be praised forever. Amen.

1984 NWT: to whom the forefathers belong and from whom the Christ [sprang] according to the flesh: God, who is over all, [be] blessed forever. Amen.

1969 Interlinear: to whom the forefathers belong and from whom Christ [sprang] according to the flesh: God, who is over all, [be] blessed forever. Amen. See Appendix under Romans 9:5. (Pictured below)

1969 NWT Interlinear Bible footnote for Romans 9:5
1969 NWT Interlinear Bible footnote for Romans 9:5

The NET Note for this selection is:

Or “the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever,” or “the Messiah. God who is over all be blessed forever!” or “the Messiah who is over all. God be blessed forever!” The translational difficulty here is not text-critical in nature, but is a problem of punctuation. Since the genre of these opening verses of Romans 9 is a lament, it is probably best to take this as an affirmation of Christ’s deity (as the text renders it). Although the other renderings are possible, to see a note of praise to God at the end of this section seems strangely out of place. But for Paul to bring his lament to a crescendo (that is to say, his kinsmen had rejected God come in the flesh), thereby deepening his anguish, is wholly appropriate. This is also supported grammatically and stylistically: The phrase ὁ ὢν (ho ōn, “the one who is”) is most naturally taken as a phrase which modifies something in the preceding context, and Paul’s doxologies are always closely tied to the preceding context. For a detailed examination of this verse, see B. M. Metzger, “The Punctuation of Rom. 9:5,” Christ and the Spirit in the New Testament, 95-112; and M. J. Harris, Jesus as God, 144-72.

Wuest's Word Studies speaks well to this section of scripture, as does the NICNT. To take the NWT rendering is to ascribe to Paul a violation of his otherwise consistent writing style, in both content and grammar.

In this passage, Paul is lamenting the Jew's rejection of Christ, and is showing that Christ, their God, has been born to them, fulfilling the covenants, the picture of the temple worship, and the promises. This is the flow of the passage. To say that Paul randomly gives a doxology to God in the midst of his lamentation breaks the flow of the passage and denies the climax of the list of what has been given to the people of Israel (Christ himself). Nowhere else in the NT are Paul's doxologies independent of the subject matter he has been speaking about, so we should not assume such a separation here.

Footnotes for the CSB, NIV and NLT acknowledge the possible alternate translations.
</JW Relevant Side Note>

Romans 9:6Romans 9:6 (BSB)
It is not as though God’s word has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.
+ Paul has just listed all the promises/blessings/etc. that were given to the Jews. Here he states that even though it appears that the Jews may have been cut off, God's word has not failed. The first explanation is that not all those who descended from Israel (Abraham's son) are Israel (true Jews of the promise). Going back a generation, he says the same thing with Abraham (the promise progressing through Isaac and not Ishmael). In the next few verses, Paul will show that the promise follows a specific line and is not simply to all biological children of Abraham. It was only of those who came from Isaac - not Ishmael, and after Isaac, it was only through Jacob, not Esau. Note this seems to be, not about salvation of two individuals (Isaac but not Ishmael and Jacob but not Esau) or the ability to accept Christ for salvation, but about God's election of the line of people who would carry the promise forward leading to the birth of Christ.

Romans 9:6Romans 9:6 (BSB)
It is not as though God’s word has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.
Some might argue that Paul is including Gentile Christians as part of "Israel" in this verse. However, verses 1-5Romans 9:1-5 (BSB)
I speak the truth in Christ; I am not lying, as confirmed by my conscience in the Holy Spirit. I have deep sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my own flesh and blood, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory and the covenants; theirs the giving of the law, the temple worship, and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them proceeds the human descent of Christ, who is God over all, forever worthy of praise! Amen.
make it clear that Paul is speaking specifically about his ethnic kinfolk, and not Christians in general. However, accepting the point that Paul, in this discussion, is specifically speaking about ethnic Jews as the true "Israel" does not negate that outside of this discussion Paul does consider all Christians to be the Israel of God under the new Covenant. Consider the discussion of Romans 4:1-16Romans 4:1-16 (BSB)
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, has discovered? If Abraham was indeed justified by works, he had something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “ Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now the wages of the worker are not credited as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. And David speaks likewise of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are they whose lawless acts are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” Is this blessing only on the circumcised, or also on the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. In what context was it credited? Was it after his circumcision, or before? It was not after, but before. And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but are not circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised, but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world was not given through the law, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who live by the law are heirs, faith is useless and the promise is worthless, because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law, there is no transgression. Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may rest on grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring— not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.
where Paul states that whether circumcised or uncircumcised, those who have faith are made Abraham's children. Also note that in Philippians 3:3 Christians, whether circumcised or uncircumcised are accounted as Christians and circumcision is not needed for this designation. In Galatians 6:15-16Galatians 6:15-16 (BSB)
For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything. What counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who walk by this rule, even to the Israel of God.
Paul uses the term "Israel of God" to refer to the church as a whole. In a few verses, in Romans 9:24Romans 9:24 (BSB)
including us, whom He has called not only from the Jews, but also from the Gentiles?
, Paul specifically includes the Gentiles as those who are called (rather than only those who came from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). So, while this discussion can not negate that modern day Christians are a part of the True Israel, for the purpose of Paul's discussion in these chapters, it does seem Paul is referring to his ethnic kinfolk specifically, as a subset of the True Israel. For this conversation, Paul is referring to the subset of Israel from within ethic Israel.

Romans 9:7-13Romans 9:7-13 (BSB)
Nor because they are Abraham’s descendants are they all his children. On the contrary, “Through Isaac your offspring will be reckoned.” So it is not the children of the flesh who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as offspring. For this is what the promise stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.” Not only that, but Rebecca’s children were conceived by one man, our father Isaac. Yet before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad, in order that God’s plan of election might stand, not by works but by Him who calls, she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” So it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Jews of the day thought they were okay because they were Abraham's descendants. Matthew 3:9Matthew 3:9 (BSB)
And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.
and John 8:33-47John 8:33-47 (BSB)
“We are Abraham’s descendants,” they answered. “We have never been slaves to anyone. How can You say we will be set free?” Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know you are Abraham’s descendants, but you are trying to kill Me because My word has no place within you. I speak of what I have seen in the presence of the Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” “Abraham is our father,” they replied. “If you were children of Abraham,” said Jesus, “you would do the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. You are doing the works of your father.” “We are not illegitimate children,” they declared. “Our only Father is God Himself.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on My own, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you are unable to accept My message. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out his desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, refusing to uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, because he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me! Which of you can prove Me guilty of sin? If I speak the truth, why do you not believe Me? Whoever belongs to God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
.

Paul here specifies who is the True Israel (as a subset of Ethnic Israel) of verse 6Romans 9:6 (BSB)
It is not as though God’s word has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.
. Paul shows that the True Israel followed a specific lineage within the line of Abraham and does not refer simply to all of those who were born from one of the multiple sons of Abraham (Genesis 17:21, 21:12Genesis 17:21, 21:12 (BSB)
17:21 But I will establish My covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this time next year.”
21:12 But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to everything that Sarah tells you, for through Isaac your offspring will be reckoned.
). The same is true regarding Isaac's children with Rebecca. From the NICNT:

Paul begins where anyone seeking to define “Israel” must begin: with Abraham. God’s call of and promises to Abraham were the basis for both physical and spiritual Israel. Jews therefore looked to their descent from Abraham as the source of their spiritual benefits: they were the “children” or “seed” of Abraham. It is this assumption that Paul calls into question: “Not all of Abraham’s children are his seed.” To be a child of Abraham in a physical sense, Paul is saying, is not necessarily to be his descendant in a spiritual sense. Salvation is not a Jewish birthright.

God still blessed Ishmael (Genesis 17:20Genesis 17:20 (BSB)
As for Ishmael, I have heard you, and I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He will become the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.
), but it was only through Isaac that the covenant went forth (Genesis 17:21Genesis 17:21 (BSB)
But I will establish My covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this time next year.”
). Ultimately, Paul shows elsewhere that the true Seed (singular) of Israel is Jesus himself (Galatians 3:16Galatians 3:16 (BSB)
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say, “and to seeds,” meaning many, but “and to your seed,” meaning One, who is Christ.
).

Romans 9:8Romans 9:8 (BSB)
So it is not the children of the flesh who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as offspring.
Just because you are a descendant of Abraham doesn't mean you are a child of God, because being a child of God is about God's promise - it is not something given in or by the flesh. It's not about genetics.

Romans 9:11-13Romans 9:11-13 (BSB)
Yet before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad, in order that God’s plan of election might stand, not by works but by Him who calls, she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” So it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
With Rebekah's children, there was one parental set, so there is no genetic distinction between the children (whereas with Abraham, the sons had different mothers). One child would claim the promise and one would not. This was decided before they were born or had done good or bad. The younger would receive the promise, going against patriarchal tradition that the eldest received the greater inheritance. If Paul's point is that only those individuals God chooses can be saved, and no one else can choose salvation, then we are stuck with a form of Calvinism that states that even if one wants to be saved, he cannot be saved if God has not chosen him (though Calvinists may point out that if God does not choose someone, that someone will not want to be saved). Alternately, if Paul's point is that the plan of salvation moves forward through people fully chosen by God without regard to the persons themselves or their natural birthright (while still keeping the promise of lineage made to Abraham), then we see reason for why many Jews of Paul's day rejected Christ even though they were "sons of Abraham" (though a remnant always remains to keep the promise - Romans 9:27Romans 9:27 (BSB)
Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites is like the sand of the sea, only the remnant will be saved.
). Being a "son of Abraham" could be fleshly (as in Ishmael and Esau - who did not move the plan of God forward) or spiritual (as in Isaac and Jacob - who did move the plan of God forward). We also see why many Gentiles had accepted him. While God does keep his promise to Abraham regarding his lineage (the remnant always remains), God, by sovereign choice, moves the gathering of his people forward not only from those of genetic tie to Abraham, through Isaac and Jacob, but from whatever group he wishes, including Gentiles (as will be seen in Romans 9:24Romans 9:24 (BSB)
including us, whom He has called not only from the Jews, but also from the Gentiles?
). From the NICNT:

Paul’s use of the word “election” to characterize this plan reflects his purpose in this part of Rom. 9: to demonstrate that God’s plan has unfolded in the OT by a series of free “choices” that he (God) has made. Isaac was chosen; Ishmael was not. Jacob was chosen; Esau was not. By these choices God has seen to it that his plan to bring into existence a people who would be his “peculiar possession” would “remain.” If God’s plan depended on the vagaries of sinful human beings for its continuance, then, indeed, God’s “word” would have fallen to the ground long ago (see v. 6a). But God’s purpose in history is fulfilled because he himself “elects” people to be part of that purpose.

Romans 9:11Romans 9:11 (BSB)
Yet before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad, in order that God’s plan of election might stand,
Just as one can not work for salvation, Israel could not work to move God's plan of salvation forward. Salvation and the moving forward of God's plan is not by works, but of Him who calls.

Romans 9:6-13Romans 9:6-13 (BSB)
It is not as though God’s word has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are Abraham’s descendants are they all his children. On the contrary, “Through Isaac your offspring will be reckoned.” So it is not the children of the flesh who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as offspring. For this is what the promise stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.” Not only that, but Rebecca’s children were conceived by one man, our father Isaac. Yet before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad, in order that God’s plan of election might stand, not by works but by Him who calls, she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” So it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Consider: If you're Jewish, you may automatically assume that you are a carrier of the promise, and you may ask, "Why have not all the Jews automatically accepted Christ as the Messiah? Are we not all automatically carriers of the promise?" Paul is answering here - it is not all who are descendants of Abraham who carry the promise, but there is a narrowing of the promise (while still keeping the promise); there is a selection going on. This selection is not based on who your father was or the works you do. It is God's sovereign selection.

In Paul's example with Isaac, we see that it is not the bloodline of Abraham that carries the promise forward. With the example of Jacob, we see that it's not about works carrying the promise forward (Jacob was a rascal!). For Jews (then and today) who look back and say "Jesus must not have been the Messiah because we did not accept him" the logic of Paul's argument may make them realize that they should not have expected everyone to accept the Messiah because not everyone born of Abraham is Abraham's seed and a recipient of the promise (Ishmael was not. Esau was not.).

Romans 9:13Romans 9:13 (BSB)
So it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
"Esau have I hated." Some things to consider. The concept of "hate" used here may be an idiom known to Jews at the time that references not the opposite of love, but a secondary position to the preferred item. Jesus spoke this way in Luke 14:26Luke 14:26 (BSB)
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters— yes, even his own life— he cannot be My disciple.
. No one assumes Jesus meant that to serve him you must hate everyone in your family, as well as yourself. Our preference must always be to Jesus, and in that comparison, the word "hate" is used.

Similar language is used in Genesis 29:30-31Genesis 29:30-31 (BSB)
Jacob slept with Rachel as well, and indeed, he loved Rachel more than Leah. So he worked for Laban another seven years. When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren.
where Leah is less loved than Rachel (Genesis 29:30Genesis 29:30 (BSB)
Jacob slept with Rachel as well, and indeed, he loved Rachel more than Leah. So he worked for Laban another seven years.
), which is also called hated (Genesis 29:31Genesis 29:31 (BSB)
When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren.
- unloved in some translations - the same Hebrew word from the Malachi passage, discussed below).

Rebekah was told in Genesis 25:23Genesis 25:23 (BSB)
and He declared to her: “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”
that two nations were in her womb. Each child represented a nation. Esau was born first, and he was the father of the Edomites. Jacob was born second, yet his position was that of the first as he obtained his brother's birthright. His name was later changed to Israel (Genesis 32:28Genesis 32:28 (BSB)
Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men, and you have prevailed.”
) and he was the father of Israel. Note that in Genesis, God simply says the older will serve the younger. In Genesis, God does not say that he loved one or hated the other. The idea that these two children are two nations is made clear before their birth.

The phrase, "Jacob have I loved but Esau I have hated" is from Malachi 1:2b-3aMalachi 1:2-3 (BSB)
“I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you ask, “How have You loved us?” “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated, and I have made his mountains a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”
. It is clear from the context of these verses that in Malachi, God is speaking about the nations and not the individual children (Malachi 1:1Malachi 1:1 (BSB)
This is the burden of the word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi:
shows this word is to the nation of Israel). This was written about 1500 years after the original children were born. In the course of Israel's history, the nation of Edom had turned against Israel as one of her enemies. In God's original promise to Abraham, He had told Abraham "I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you; and all the families of the earth will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12:3Genesis 12:3 (BSB)
I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you; and all the families of the earth will be blessed through you.”
). The nation of Edom had turned against Israel in a time of Israel's need and so being cursed for this would be expected (as recorded in the one-chapter book of Obadiah).

The promise had been narrowed, and given to Jacob (Israel), but not to Esau. Because of God's promise, we know that no matter how bad it was for Israel or how bad Israel behaved, they would be restored and have a future (for God was moving his plan of salvation forward through Israel). Edom, on the other hand, did not have such a promise, so they were judged without a promise of restoration.

We should not over-apply the passage here or take it out of its context. This does not say that all those who are descendants of Esau are destined to be damned and all descendants of Jacob will be saved (if this were true, then Paul would not be lamenting the Jews' rejection of Christ). Also, we must remember that God is Love (1 John 4:81 John 4:8 (BSB)
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
). While we were still sinners, God loved us (Romans 5:8Romans 5:8 (BSB)
But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
). He loves the whole world (John 3:16John 3:16 (BSB)
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
). Also consider Matthew 5:44Matthew 5:44 (BSB)
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
. Does God expect a higher standard from us than himself? However, he is also a just judge who does not accept wickedness in his presence and who does not turn a blind eye to wickedness (Psalms 5:5, 7:11Psalms 5:5, 7:11 (BSB)
5:5 The boastful cannot stand in Your presence; You hate all workers of iniquity.
7:11 God is a righteous judge and a God who feels indignation each day.
). This is why we had to be justified and made righteous. As we will see in Romans 11:28-33Romans 11:28-33 (BSB)
Regarding the gospel, they are enemies on your account; but regarding election, they are loved on account of the patriarchs. For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. Just as you who formerly disobeyed God have now received mercy through their disobedience, so they too have now disobeyed, in order that they too may now receive mercy through the mercy shown to you. For God has consigned everyone to disobedience so that He may have mercy on everyone. O, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and untraceable His ways!
, it can be complicated.

The common perception might be that traditional Calvinists would disagree with my above interpretation and would state that Paul is indeed speaking of Jacob and Esau as individuals with the implication that God chooses individuals to be saved, not based on their works or their faith, but merely by the election of God (the same Calvinists stipulate that there is no room sneak faith in as an exception in Romans 9:11Romans 9:11 (BSB)
Yet before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad, in order that God’s plan of election might stand,
). I personally think this interpretation goes against the obvious context of Malachi 1, that God is speaking of nations - one of which has been chosen to move God's plan forward, and one of which has not.

If the proposed Calvinist interpretation of Romans 9 is correct, I still find that there is a choice we are all told to make and a faith we are all told to have. IE: if Calvinist have the correct interpretation, it should not negate the choice we seem to be told we can make. (Again, Isaiah 55:1Isaiah 55:1 (BSB)
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you without money, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost!
; Matthew 10:32, 11:28Matthew 10:32, 11:28 (BSB)
10:32 Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father in heaven.
11:28 Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
; Luke 12:8Luke 12:8 (BSB)
I tell you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will also confess him before the angels of God.
; John 3:16, 7:37-38John 3:16, 7:37-38 (BSB)
6:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
7:37-38 On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and called out in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said: ‘Streams of living water will flow from within him.’”
; Romans 10:9-13Romans 10:9-13 (BSB)
that if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved. It is just as the Scripture says: “Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Greek: The same Lord is Lord of all, and gives richly to all who call on Him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
; Revelation 21:6, 22:17Revelation 21:6, 22:17 (BSB)
21:6 And He told me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give freely from the spring of the water of life.
22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let the one who hears say, “Come!” And let the one who is thirsty come, and the one who desires the water of life drink freely.
). Some Calvinists may state that some people do not choose or have faith because they have not been elected to do so. If this is true, then punishment for not choosing would still be just, as punishment shows God's earned justice and Mercy shows God's unearned grace; no one receives injustice and no one receives an unearned punishment. However, with this idea, I still ask, "Why would God call those who are thirsty to come if he has elected some to not listen to the call?" (to me, the answer to my rhetorical question is "God would not do this."). The complexity and ultimate answer may be beyond our abilities to understand (1 Corinthians 1:18-251 Corinthians 1:18-25 (BSB)
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks search for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
), but my sense of God's justice from the verses listed above tells me that everyone has an individual choice to make, while my reading of the Word also tells me that all who are saved have been called and drawn by God (John 6:44, 65John 6:44, 65 (BSB)
6:44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. 6:65 Then Jesus said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless the Father has granted it to him.”
; Luke 10:22Luke 10:22 (BSB)
All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”
; John 12:32John 12:32 (BSB)
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw everyone to Myself.”
). Personally, I can accept the two seemingly incompatible sides to this argument and I recognize that the sense in the apparent incongruity may never be fully understood or articulated by mere creatures.

We must remember that if these verses have been speaking of God making choices in who to use to move his plan forward, we should be careful in application of these verses to individuals. In reference to personal salvation and choices we make, there will be considerations in the continued discussion below.

Romans 9:14-16Romans 9:14-16 (BSB)
What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Certainly not! For He says to Moses: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then, it does not depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
Paul knows what he has said will raise concerns; Paul knows that God's justice will be questioned. Without hesitancy, Paul states that God is not unjust at all. It is God's prerogative to show mercy or justice as he wills. It is not ours to question this. If we take this section of scripture to refer to God moving his plan forward, we see from verse 16Romans 9:16 (BSB)
So then, it does not depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
that no plan or desire of man could do this (We clearly see this in the story of Abraham sleeping with Hagar). If we take this section of scripture to refer to individual salvation, we then note it is God's mercy which has saved us and no effort of our own could have worked our salvation no matter how much we desired it or worked to accomplish it. Whichever intent we give to the passage, the principle taught may expand to the other.

No one should be asking, "why doesn't God give mercy to everyone?" The question we should be asking is "Why does God give mercy to anyone?" (because not a single person deserves mercy). Consider Ephesians 2:3-5Ephesians 2:3-5 (BSB)
All of us also lived among them at one time, fulfilling the cravings of our flesh and indulging its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature children of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our trespasses. It is by grace you have been saved!
.

In Romans 9:15Romans 9:15 (BSB)
For He says to Moses: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
Paul quotes from Exodus 33:19Exodus 33:19 (BSB)
“I will cause all My goodness to pass before you,” the Lord replied, “and I will proclaim My name— the Lord— in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
. God told Moses he would give mercy to whom he would give mercy when he allowed his goodness to pass before Moses while Moses was protected in the cleft of the rock; this occurred after the golden calf incident at the mountain (Read Exodus 32-34 for context).

Romans 9:16Romans 9:16 (BSB)
So then, it does not depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
The subject of "it" in the original Greek is vague. It could refer to how God's plan moves forward, salvation, or mercy/compassion. Note the NLT assumes "it" refers to "mercy" with their unique translation, "So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it." Mercy is a logical choice but I would prefer the vagueness of the original be retained in the translation. The "mercy" could easily be God's mercy in whom he chooses to move his plan forward. A similar commentary is noted for the NLT in verse 18Romans 9:18 (BSB)
Therefore God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden.
("So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen." - italics mine, to show the subtle commentary in this translation).

Whether we consider this passage to refer to God moving his plan forward or to individual salvation, we may ask, "But what about those who don't appear to want God's plan for salvation?" Paul's discussion of Pharaoh in the next few verses seems to speak to that. Some might argue that God created Pharaoh as evil in order to damn him, but a careful reading of the scripture doesn't support that argument. Pharaoh was already contrary to God when he was hardened. Paul has already argued that evidence for God is abundant (Chapters 1-3). Pharaoh had enough evidence of God to turn to him before the whole issue with the Israelites, and additional evidence was given through Moses. God may not have shown Pharaoh mercy or compassion (or maybe he did in longsuffering), but he did reveal himself in the world around him and through Moses. God did not show Pharaoh injustice; nor was God unjust with Pharaoh.

Calvinists take verse 16Romans 9:16 (BSB)
So then, it does not depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
to mean that we have no free will. It is for this reason that Calvinists say that God has to regenerate us before we can be saved, an idea that seems backwards from the Biblical description of salvation (they say we are born again by the Spirit before we put faith in Jesus). Calvinists see faith as our response to God saving us, not the thing/action/belief which brings our salvation. For him who wills and him who runs, Romans 10:2-3Romans 10:2-3 (BSB)
For I testify about them that they are zealous for God, but not on the basis of knowledge. Because they were ignorant of God’s righteousness and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.
says that the Jews have a zeal, but not according to knowledge (so their will is misplaced) and they seek their own righteousness instead of God (so their running is incorrect). (Credit for this paragraph to Mike Winger)

Romans 9:17-18Romans 9:17-18 (BSB)
For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden.
Note Paul does not say that Paul created Pharaoh for destruction or that God created him to do evil. God simply raised up an evil man to show God's power. The text does not say more than that so we should be careful not to imply more than is there. If we look at the OT history of Pharaoh, we see that Pharaoh was already hardened against God's people long before any hardening from God (The story of this Pharaoh starts in Exodus 1). In several instances, God predicts that he will harden Pharaoh's heart (Exodus 4:21, 7:3, 14:4, 14:17Exodus 4:21, 7:3, 14:4, 14:17 (BSB)
4:21 The Lord instructed Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders that I have put within your power. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.
7:3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I will multiply My signs and wonders in the land of Egypt,
14:4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he will pursue them. But I will gain honor by means of Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So this is what the Israelites did.
14:17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. Then I will gain honor by means of Pharaoh and all his army and chariots and horsemen.
- with the last verse including hardening the Egyptians).

For Exodus 4:21Exodus 4:21 (BSB)
The Lord instructed Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders that I have put within your power. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.
, the Hebrew for "harden" is Strong's H2388; the NET Translation Note for this verse is:

Heb “strengthen” (in the sense of making stubborn or obstinate). The text has the expression וַאֲנִי אֲחַזֵּק אֶת־לִבּוֹ (vaʾani ʾakhazzeq ʾet libbo), “I will make strong his will,” or “I will strengthen his resolve,” recognizing the “heart” as the location of decision making (see Proverbs 16:1, 9Proverbs 16:1, 9 (BSB)
16:1 The plans of the heart belong to man, but the reply of the tongue is from the Lord.
16:9 A man’s heart plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.
).

Overview of Pharaoh's Hardening:

With Pharaoh, God shows that he can harden whomever he wants, even the powerful king of Egypt. In Pharaoh's example, the hardening seems to be judicial, and occurs after Pharaoh has hardened his own heart multiple times. It seems God wanted to raise up a man who would have a hard heart (Exodus 7:13, 22; 8:19; 9:7Exodus 7:13, 22; 8:19; 9:7 (BSB)
7:13 Still, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.
7:22 But the magicians of Egypt did the same things by their magic arts. So Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.
8:19 “This is the finger of God,” the magicians said to Pharaoh. But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.
9:7 Pharaoh sent officials and found that none of the livestock of the Israelites had died. But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not let the people go.
) - God is not credited with these acts of hardening) so that he could show his glory among the Egyptians and so they would know he is the Lord (Exodus 7:5Exodus 7:5 (BSB)
And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out from among them.”
). In Exodus 8:15, 32Exodus 8:15, 32 (BSB)
8:15 When Pharaoh saw that there was relief, however, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.
8:32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time as well, and he would not let the people go.
, it is specified that Pharaoh hardens his own heart. It is not until Exodus 9:12Exodus 9:12 (BSB)
9:12 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said to Moses.
that the Lord is credited with hardening the heart of Pharaoh. But even later, when God relents a curse, Pharaoh again hardens his own heart, as do his servants (Exodus 9:34Exodus 9:34 (BSB)
When Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had ceased, he sinned again and hardened his heart— he and his officials.
). But just two verses later in Exodus 10:1Exodus 10:1 (BSB)
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials, that I may perform these miraculous signs of Mine among them,
, God takes credit for the additional hardening of Pharaoh and his servants. Is there synergy in hardening at this point?

While much more could be said in a study in Exodus, the overall point is that scripture does not specify that God caused Pharaoh's evil resolve against the Israelites, but he did strengthen the resolve. In a sense, God gave Pharaoh over to his sin more fully (Remember Romans 1, especially Romans 1:24Romans 1:24 (BSB)
Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity for the dishonoring of their bodies with one another.
). This same Hebrew word is used in Exodus 14:17Exodus 14:17 (BSB)
And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. Then I will gain honor by means of Pharaoh and all his army and chariots and horsemen.
for the Egyptians as a whole. In 1 Samuel 6:61 Samuel 6:6 (BSB)
Why harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened theirs? When He afflicted them, did they not send the people on their way as they departed?
the scripture says that the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their own hearts. Similarly, Israel is told not to harden their own hearts (Psalms 95:8Psalms 95:8 (BSB)
do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, in the day at Massah in the wilderness,
). In Romans, Paul supports that it is not unjust for God to raise up a hardened man, to not show that man mercy, and to instead show God's own glory in giving that man over to his own hardening, even strengthening his evil resolve. This is different than creating a man without choice so that he must resist God even though he may want to do otherwise. While the scripture does not specify that God only hardens those who have chosen to harden themselves first, the examples of God's hardening in scripture do follow this judicial pattern.

As we move to Romans 9:18Romans 9:18 (BSB)
Therefore God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden.
, it should be acknowledged that God hardens whom he wants to harden. If we assume this hardening is based on an already hard heart (such as in Pharaoh's example), then some may argue that God has all of humanity as eligible vessels for hardening, and they may cite scripture such as Romans 3:9-18Romans 3:9-18 (BSB)
What then? Are we any better? Not at all. For we have already made the charge that Jews and Greeks alike are all under sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The venom of vipers is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery lie in their wake, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
to support their point. However, being "under sin" and being "hardened against accepting the Gospel when we hear it" are not necessarily the same thing. All are under sin, but the scripture call seems to imply that all can accept the Gospel if they wish.

Still, God is completely sovereign and not subject to our will or desires. Because of the condition of man, God would be completely just in any hardening he enacts. But nowhere in this Romans passage does it say that God gives mercy or hardens arbitrarily or without reason. With Pharaoh, the hardening was clearly a judicial hardening after Pharaoh had already hardened his own heart.

Could God be doing the same thing here with the Jews? Could this be a judicial hardening because they had rejected their Messiah when he was revealed? This will be discussed more in Chapter 10.

Other passages related to hardening:

Romans 1:18-32Romans 1:18-32 (BSB)
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. For what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and darkened in their foolish hearts. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images of mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity for the dishonoring of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is forever worthy of praise! Amen. For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. Likewise, the men abandoned natural relations with women and burned with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, He gave them up to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful. They invent new forms of evil; they disobey their parents. They are senseless, faithless, heartless, merciless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things are worthy of death, they not only continue to do these things, but also approve of those who practice them.
God progressively gives man over to the evil of his heart as they reject him. These verses seem to describe a judicial hardening. Man's rejection of God came first.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-122 Thessalonians 2:9-12 (BSB)
The coming of the lawless one will be accompanied by the working of Satan, with every kind of power, sign, and false wonder, and with every wicked deception directed against those who are perishing, because they refused the love of the truth that would have saved them. For this reason God will send them a powerful delusion so that they believe the lie, in order that judgment may come upon all who have disbelieved the truth and delighted in wickedness.
Those who perish are deceived (by the anti-christ), but they were able to be deceived because they did not receive the love of the truth. Rejecting the love of God and taking pleasure in unrighteousness comes first.

In Mark 4:11-12Mark 4:11-12 (BSB)
He replied, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to those on the outside everything is expressed in parables, so that, ‘ they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven.’”
Jesus taught in parables to prevent some from seeing and understanding and being saved (sins forgiven). This passage goes against the Calvinist's belief that we are so depraved that we can't say yes. If that idea were true, why would Jesus have to speak in parables to prevent people from saying yes? Jesus spoke in parables regularly. In calling himself the bread from heaven in John 6, and in speaking of eating and drinking his flesh and blood (John 6:55-58John 6:55-58 (BSB)
For My flesh is real food, and My blood is real drink. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent Me and I live because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your fathers, who ate the manna and died, the one who eats this bread will live forever.”
), Jesus actively speaks in such a way that many left and stopped following him. However, this was not out of the blue. Unbelief was already there, as Jesus said in John 5:46-47John 5:46-47 (BSB)
If you had believed Moses, you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”
. Jesus is not changing their hearts, but is simply teaching, and the condition of their hearts leads to the rejection of the teaching.

The hardening that comes through Jesus' parables is not stated to be permanent, nor is it stated to be to damnation. Jesus had not yet been crucified, so the opportunity to accept his sacrifice was still to come. Jesus was timing his own crucifixion, and if the crowds had been allowed to believe and understand everything immediately, the Jews would not have had the opportunity to betray him (consider John 6:15John 6:15 (BSB)
Then Jesus, realizing that they were about to come and make Him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself.
, as the crowds were just about to take him by force to make him king). At Pentecost and beyond, consider how many of the crowds now get saved.

Addendum: Eight points about hardening (adapted from Mike Winger):

  1. Hardening does not change your mind - it prevents you from changing your mind so that you continue in the direction you were already going.
  2. God may harden through specific acts rather than heart surgery (such as via Jesus' parables or through a negative circumstance). This does not negate God's ability and right as the creator to do what he wants.
  3. Hardening isn't necessarily about salvation. Pharaoh's hardening was about saying no to God, not his salvation.
  4. Hardening isn't always complete or permanent. Pharaoh was hardened multiple times and he still let the Egyptians go. Romans 11:23Romans 11:23 (BSB)
    And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
    states people can be grafted back in.
  5. Those who are hardened in the Biblical examples deserved it (the hardening was earned).
  6. Though mercy is specifically stated to not be of works, the same is never said regarding hardening.
  7. It's not a choice between mercy and hardening in scripture. God hardens specific people in specific circumstances for specific reasons.
  8. You can become hardened. You can harden yourself and you can rebel against God and be hardened. Always be sure your heart and will are soft before the Lord.

Romans 9:19-23Romans 9:19-23 (BSB)
One of you will say to me, “Then why does God still find fault? For who can resist His will?” But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to Him who formed it, “Why did You make me like this?” Does not the potter have the right to make from the same lump of clay one vessel for special occasions and another for common use? What if God, intending to show His wrath and make His power known, bore with great patience the vessels of His wrath, prepared for destruction? What if He did this to make the riches of His glory known to the vessels of His mercy, whom He prepared in advance for glory—
Paul predicts objections which are presented in a continued diatribe. My first thought is that the objection itself is somewhat misguided: "But God, how could Pharaoh resist you if you solidified his position of hatred towards you after he hardened his own heart by his own choice several times?" or "You knew Pharaoh would have free will and would reject you, so it's your fault for making him in the first place." This is not a new attitude: "The woman, whom YOU gave me, made me do it." (Genesis 3:12Genesis 3:12 (BSB)
And the man answered, “The woman whom You gave me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
). Remember Romans 3:5-6Romans 3:5-6 (BSB)
But if our unrighteousness highlights the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unjust to inflict His wrath on us? I am speaking in human terms. Certainly not! In that case, how could God judge the world?
. To the man who thinks he can speak against God, or to the atheist who thinks he's going to put God on trial when he dies is a fool. The height of folly is to think God is wrong/unjust and we're the ones with the better moral compass.

In the story of Pharaoh God said that he could have struck Pharaoh dead instantly (Exodus 9:13-16Exodus 9:13-16 (BSB)
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, stand before Pharaoh, and tell him that this is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: ‘Let My people go, so that they may worship Me. Otherwise, I will send all My plagues against you and your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. For by this time I could have stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with a plague to wipe you off the earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display My power to you, and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth.
). Instead, he judged slowly, so that God's glory could be seen and his name declared in all the earth. In Joshua 2, we see the story of Rahab, who was brought to faith in the God of Israel after hearing the miraculous works of God in the release of the Israelites from Egypt (specifically see Joshua 2:9-10Joshua 2:9-10 (BSB)
and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that the fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who dwell in the land are melting in fear of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the waters of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites across the Jordan, whom you devoted to destruction.
). Also consider 1 Samuel 4:5-81 Samuel 4:5-8 (BSB)
When the ark of the covenant of the Lord entered the camp, all the Israelites raised such a great shout that it shook the ground. On hearing the noise of the shout, the Philistines asked, “What is this loud shouting in the camp of the Hebrews?” And when they realized that the ark of the Lord had entered the camp, the Philistines were afraid. “The gods have entered their camp!” they said. “Woe to us, for nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness.
.

A "potter and clay" story is pictured in Jeremiah 18:2-4Jeremiah 18:2-4 (BSB)
“Go down at once to the potter’s house, and there I will reveal My message to you.” So I went down to the potter’s house and saw him working at the wheel. But the vessel that he was shaping from the clay became flawed in his hand; so he formed it into another vessel, as it seemed best for him to do.
. There, the symbology seems to say "Israel, if you are not going to do what I want you to do, I will still make you into something I can use, even in your rebellion." Jeremiah 18:5-10Jeremiah 18:5-10 (BSB)
Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “O house of Israel, declares the Lord, can I not treat you as this potter treats his clay? Just like clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel. At any time I might announce that a nation or kingdom will be uprooted, torn down, and destroyed. But if that nation I warned turns from its evil, then I will relent of the disaster I had planned to bring. And if at another time I announce that I will build up and establish a nation or kingdom, and if it does evil in My sight and does not listen to My voice, then I will relent of the good I had intended for it.
shows that the message of the potter is that Israel should repent. They don't repent (Jeremiah 18:12Jeremiah 18:12 (BSB)
But they will reply, ‘It is hopeless. We will follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’”
) and they persecute the prophet (Jeremiah 18:18Jeremiah 18:18 (BSB)
Then some said, “Come, let us make plans against Jeremiah, for the law will never be lost to the priest, nor counsel to the wise, nor an oracle to the prophet. Come, let us denounce him and pay no heed to any of his words.”
) so God brings disaster upon them. Jeremiah 19:15Jeremiah 19:15 (BSB)
“This is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: ‘Behold, I am about to bring on this city and on all the villages around it every disaster I have pronounced against them, because they have stiffened their necks so as not to heed My words.’”
specifies that the destruction was brought because they had stiffened their necks and refused to hear God's words. Here, the pottery and clay analogy supports both the sovereignty of God and the freewill of man, as does the story of Pharaoh. Other potter/clay analogies are noted in Isaiah 29:16Isaiah 29:16 (BSB)
You have turned things upside down, as if the potter were regarded as clay. Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “He did not make me”? Can the pottery say of the potter, “He has no understanding”?
and Isaiah 45:9Isaiah 45:9 (BSB)
Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker— one clay pot among many. Does the clay ask the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘He has no hands’?
.

Romans 9:22-23Romans 9:22-23 (BSB)
What if God, intending to show His wrath and make His power known, bore with great patience the vessels of His wrath, prepared for destruction? What if He did this to make the riches of His glory known to the vessels of His mercy, whom He prepared in advance for glory—
"Prepared for destruction" (CSB, NET, NKJ) / "Destined for destruction" (NLT) - Note the comparison to verse 23Romans 9:23 (BSB)
What if He did this to make the riches of His glory known to the vessels of His mercy, whom He prepared in advance for glory—
, where those prepared for glory were "prepared beforehand" (CSB, NET, NKJ) / "Prepared in advance" (NLT). Verse 22Romans 9:22 (BSB)
What if God, intending to show His wrath and make His power known, bore with great patience the vessels of His wrath, prepared for destruction?
does not add "beforehand." Completely different Greek words are used in the two verses (Strong's G2675 - prepare vs. Strong's G4282 - prepared beforehand).

Notice that it does not say God prepared those in verse 22Romans 9:22 (BSB)
What if God, intending to show His wrath and make His power known, bore with great patience the vessels of His wrath, prepared for destruction?
for destruction (maybe they prepared themselves with their free-will choices?), but it does say that God did prepare those in verse 23Romans 9:23 (BSB)
What if He did this to make the riches of His glory known to the vessels of His mercy, whom He prepared in advance for glory—
for glory. Those in verse 23 receive mercy while those in verse 22 receive justice. No one receives injustice. No one is specifically MADE for damnation/reprobation. Verse 22Romans 9:22 (BSB)
What if God, intending to show His wrath and make His power known, bore with great patience the vessels of His wrath, prepared for destruction?
does not state God actively hardens those prepared for destruction, so we should not input that thought to the text; rather, the text specifies that God endures with longsuffering the vessels of wrath. We allot damnation to ourselves or God shows us mercy and saves us from ourselves. Whichever the case, we are the ones without excuse. Even the place where we are damned to was not prepared for us (it was prepared for the demons). Only heaven was specifically prepared for us (compare Matthew 25:34Matthew 25:34 (BSB)
Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
with Matthew 25:41Matthew 25:41 (BSB)
Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
). Verses 22 and 23Romans 9:22-23 (BSB)
What if God, intending to show His wrath and make His power known, bore with great patience the vessels of His wrath, prepared for destruction? What if He did this to make the riches of His glory known to the vessels of His mercy, whom He prepared in advance for glory—
do seem to be about salvation, and not simply about God moving his plan forward, unlike earlier verses in this chapter.

Strong's G4282 - prepared beforehand, is used in Ephesians 2:10Ephesians 2:10 (BSB)
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life.
regarding the good works for us to walk in that were prepared beforehand (these are the only two places in the NT where this verb is used).

As noted in the study by Middletown Bible Church:

"Fitted to destruction"--These vessels of wrath are perfectly suited for the destruction which is deservedly theirs. "Fitted"=fit, prepared, ready, ripe for destruction, deserving destruction. "Prepared for destruction" (NKJV, NASB, NIV). "Ripe for destruction" (Amplified). There are some who understand the verb in the middle voice, "having prepared themselves for destruction" (Bauer, Arndt & Gingrich). Vine--"here the middle voice signifies that those referred to fitted themselves for destruction" (see also McClain in Romans). It does not say that God so fitted them (contrast with verse 23 where it clearly says that God afore prepared).

Strong's G2675 adapted from BDAG:

  1. to cause to be in a condition to function well, put in order, restore. a:restore to a former condition, put to rights (by cleaning, mending, folding together - Matthew 4:21Matthew 4:21 (BSB)
    Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. Jesus called them,
    ; Mark 1:19Mark 1:19 (BSB)
    Going on a little farther, He saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat, mending their nets.
    ). Also in Galatians 6:1Galatians 6:1 (BSB)
    Brothers, if someone is caught in a trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him with a spirit of gentleness. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
    and 2 Corinthians 13:112 Corinthians 13:11 (BSB)
    Finally, brothers, rejoice! Aim for perfect harmony, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
    . b:put into proper condition (to fix up any deficiencies in your faith or to complete what is lacking in your faith 1 Thessalonians 3:101 Thessalonians 3:10 (BSB)
    Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking from your faith.
    ) (make you complete in every good thing Hebrews 13:21Hebrews 13:21 (BSB)
    equip you with every good thing to do His will. And may He accomplish in us what is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
    ) (adjusted / made complete in the same mind and the same conviction 1 Corinthians 1:101 Corinthians 1:10 (BSB)
    I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree together, so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be united in mind and conviction.
    )
  2. to prepare for a purpose, prepare, make, create, outfit (Hebrews 11:3Hebrews 11:3 (BSB)
    By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
    , Romans 9:22Romans 9:22 (BSB)
    What if God, intending to show His wrath and make His power known, bore with great patience the vessels of His wrath, prepared for destruction?
    , Hebrews 10:5Hebrews 10:5 (BSB)
    Therefore, when Christ came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You prepared for Me.
    , Matthew 21:16Matthew 21:16 (BSB)
    “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked. “Yes,” Jesus answered. “Have you never read: ‘From the mouths of children and infants You have ordained praise’?”
    )

So while we can agree that the Bible does teach election (Ephesians 1:4Ephesians 1:4 (BSB)
For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. In love
; 2 Thessalonians 2:132 Thessalonians 2:13 (BSB)
But we should always thank God for you, brothers who are loved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning to be saved by the sanctification of the Spirit and by faith in the truth.
, 2 Timothy 1:92 Timothy 1:9 (BSB)
He has saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works, but by His own purpose and by the grace He granted us in Christ Jesus before time began.
), we can not equally say that the Bible teaches reprobation; only poor logic says that option A requires option B. Consider 2 Thessalonians 2:10-132 Thessalonians 2:10-13 (BSB)
and with every wicked deception directed against those who are perishing, because they refused the love of the truth that would have saved them. For this reason God will send them a powerful delusion so that they believe the lie, in order that judgment may come upon all who have disbelieved the truth and delighted in wickedness. But we should always thank God for you, brothers who are loved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning to be saved by the sanctification of the Spirit and by faith in the truth.
(the saved may be saved because they were chosen from the beginning, but the damned are damned because they refused to love the truth that would have saved them - NOT because they were chosen for damnation from the beginning).

If you are saved, your only boast is in God (1 Corinthians 1:29-311 Corinthians 1:29-31 (BSB)
so that no one may boast in His presence. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God: our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
, Ephesians 2:8-9Ephesians 2:8-9 (BSB)
For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.
, Matthew 16:16-17Matthew 16:16-17 (BSB)
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven.
and John 6:44-45John 6:44-45 (BSB)
“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from Him comes to Me—
). If you are lost, the blame rests on your alone (1 Timothy 2:41 Timothy 2:4 (BSB)
who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
, Matthew 23:37Matthew 23:37 (BSB)
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling!
, John 5:40John 5:40 (BSB)
yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.
).

Romans 9:24Romans 9:24 (BSB)
including us, whom He has called not only from the Jews, but also from the Gentiles?
Paul has spent much time talking about God's sovereign choice, whether in how he moves his plan of salvation forward or in how he hardens or shows mercy. For those he has shown mercy, it is not about works or lineage, but about his sovereign will, and his desire to create a church from all tribes, tongues and nations (Revelation 5:9, 7:9, 14:6Revelation 5:9, 7:9, 14:6 (BSB)
9:24 And they sang a new song: “Worthy are You to take the scroll and open its seals, because You were slain, and by Your blood You purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
7:9 After this I looked and saw a multitude too large to count, from every nation and tribe and people and tongue, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
14:6 Then I saw another angel flying overhead, with the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on the earth— to every nation and tribe and tongue and people.
; John 1:29John 1:29 (BSB)
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
; Zechariah 8:23Zechariah 8:23 (BSB)
This is what the Lord of Hosts says: “In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue will tightly grasp the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”
). For this reason, God chooses people from both Jews and Gentiles. In God's church, there is neither Jew nor Gentile - all are one in Christ (Colossians 3:10-11Colossians 3:10-11 (BSB)
and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, or free, but Christ is all and is in all.
; Galatians 6:15Galatians 6:15 (BSB)
For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything. What counts is a new creation.
). To support his point, Paul points to prophecies from two OT books, Hosea and Isaiah. Paul uses the prophecies from Hosea to focus on the Gentiles of verse 24Romans 9:24 (BSB)
including us, whom He has called not only from the Jews, but also from the Gentiles?
and he will use the Isaiah prophecy to focus on the Jews noted in verse 24Romans 9:24 (BSB)
including us, whom He has called not only from the Jews, but also from the Gentiles?
(it is noted that the NLT specifies the connection to Gentiles in its translation of verse 25Romans 9:25 (NLT'04)
Concerning the Gentiles, God says in the prophecy of Hosea, "Those who were not my people, I will now call my people. And I will love those whom I did not love before."
, though the specification is not found in the original Greek).

Romans 9:25-26Romans 9:25-26 (BSB)
As He says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘My People’ who are not My people, and I will call her ‘My Beloved’ who is not My beloved,” and, “It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”
Paul first quotes from two places in Hosea, inverting their order from the book. Romans 9:25Romans 9:25 (BSB)
As He says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘My People’ who are not My people, and I will call her ‘My Beloved’ who is not My beloved,”
quotes Hosea 2:23Hosea 2:23 (BSB)
And I will sow her as My own in the land, and I will have compassion on ‘No Compassion.’ I will say to those called ‘Not My People,’ ‘You are My people,’ and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”
and Romans 9:26Romans 9:26 (BSB)
and, “It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”
quotes from Hosea 1:9-10Hosea 1:9-10 (BSB)
And the Lord said, “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people, and I am not your God. Yet the number of the Israelites will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or counted. And it will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’
. Unaware readers may not realize that the Hosea prophecy is not about Gentiles ("not my people") being called "my people" but is instead about Israel, whom God had called "not my people" due to their rebellion, once again being called "my people" due to God's restoration. Paul's point seems to be that just as God can restore and bring to him people from the Jews, even though the Jews had rebelled against God and been rejected by God because of their rebellion, so too can God bring people from the Gentiles. God can have mercy on anyone he wants, including anyone who has been in rebellion against Him, and God can bring them into a relationship with Himself.

As stated by RC Sproul:

The culture in which we live endlessly repeats the myth that God loves everybody equally, so it is no big thing to be loved by God. “Of course God loves us. He is a loving God. God loves everybody.” To the contrary, to be loved by God is a privilege, not a birthright. We have no claim on the love of God. Nothing in us would make him desire us, yet he has, by his mercy, turned his affection to all who put their trust in Christ.

Romans 9:27-29Romans 9:27-29 (BSB)
Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites is like the sand of the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out His sentence on the earth thoroughly and decisively.” It is just as Isaiah foretold: “Unless the Lord of Hosts had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have resembled Gomorrah.”
Paul now quotes from two places in Isaiah, inverting their order from the book. Romans 9:27-28Romans 9:27-28 (BSB)
Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites is like the sand of the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out His sentence on the earth thoroughly and decisively.”
quotes Isaiah 10:22-23Isaiah 10:22-23 (BSB)
Though your people, O Israel, be like the sand of the sea, only a remnant will return. Destruction has been decreed, overflowing with righteousness. For the Lord God of Hosts will carry out the destruction decreed upon the whole land.
and Romans 9:29Romans 9:29 (BSB)
It is just as Isaiah foretold: “Unless the Lord of Hosts had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have resembled Gomorrah.”
quotes Isaiah 1:9Isaiah 1:9 (BSB)
Unless the Lord of Hosts had left us a few survivors, we would have become like Sodom, we would have resembled Gomorrah.
. Here, Paul specifies that it is not expected that all Jews would accept the Messiah, for "only the remnant will be saved" despite the Jews themselves being "like the sand of the sea." This is due to judgment for their rebellion (verse 28Romans 9:28 (BSB)
For the Lord will carry out His sentence on the earth thoroughly and decisively.”
). In a pre-answer to an expected objection, Paul quotes from Isaiah 1:9Isaiah 1:9 (BSB)
Unless the Lord of Hosts had left us a few survivors, we would have become like Sodom, we would have resembled Gomorrah.
showing that unless God had chosen to leave descendants, all would have been lost, just as in the judgments of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The reality is, if God were to judge purely according to man's sin, no one would be saved. It is only due to God's mercy that anyone is saved, though all are called to receive that mercy. Only a select group accepts the call and turns for salvation. God sovereignly applies mercy to make sure that at least some turn from every nation, tongue and tribe.

Romans 9:30-32Romans 9:30-32 (BSB)
What then will we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because their pursuit was not by faith, but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone,
a The reasons the Jews had not come to Christ is they were pursuing righteousness, but according to their own merit and works. Paul has spent much time in Romans showing that our works are not as worthy as we would like to believe. The scribes and pharisees were zealous seekers of God's righteousness, but their boasting was in their seeking. Once Grace arrived, they tripped over it and were offended by it. Grace is the end of self-boasting. The Gentiles had not been pursuing righteousness, but they believed it when they saw it offered to them by grace, and thus, through no effort or boasting of their own, they were being saved.

Our own self-righteous efforts are our own attempts to jump over the Grand Canyon. Jesus is the helicopter that offers to take us to the other side. Some onlookers realize the grace in Jesus' offer, and even though they were not attempting to jump over the canyon, they take the opportunity offered by Jesus. Others get offended, yelling at the helicopter pilot, telling him to get out of the way because he is disturbing their efforts to jump.

Romans 9:32-33Romans 9:32-33 (BSB)
Why not? Because their pursuit was not by faith, but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense; and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame.”
Similar scripture quotes are used by Peter in 1 Peter 2:4-101 Peter 2:4-10 (BSB)
As you come to Him, the living stone, rejected by men but chosen and precious in God’s sight, you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “See, I lay in Zion a stone, a chosen and precious cornerstone; and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame.” To you who believe, then, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word— and to this they were appointed. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, to proclaim the virtues of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
. Why might the Jews have stumbled over Jesus? There are many possible reasons. One could be that because their expectations were that Messiah would a great political leader who would bring victory over Rome. They did not believe Jesus who arrived on the scene, meek and lowly, and who suffered the death of the lowest criminal. The strictest and most righteous of the Jews were seeking righteousness via their obedience to the law (IE, by their own working) and Jesus said their works were not good enough, and that they needed to trust him instead. This goes against the natural self-exaltation of man.

It was always God's plan to build his Church (we are each stones in this living temple - 1 Peter 2:4-51 Peter 2:4-5 (BSB)
As you come to Him, the living stone, rejected by men but chosen and precious in God’s sight, you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
) with the very stone that the builders (the Jewish leaders who were supposed to be building God's church) rejected (Psalms 118:22-23Psalms 118:22-23 (BSB)
The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
).

From Bob Utley:

"A stone" This was originally a title for God (cf. Psalms 18:1-2,31,46Psalms 18:1-2,31,46 (BSB)
18:1-2 For the choirmaster. Of David the servant of the Lord, who sang this song to the Lord on the day the Lord had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said: I love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer. My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
18:31 For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God?
18:46 The Lord lives, and blessed be my Rock! And may the God of my salvation be exalted—
; Deuteronomy 32:18Deuteronomy 32:18 (BSB)
You ignored the Rock who brought you forth; you forgot the God who gave you birth.
; 1 Samuel 2:21 Samuel 2:2 (BSB)
There is no one holy like the Lord. Indeed, there is no one besides You! And there is no Rock like our God.
; Psalms 28:1; 31:3; 42:9; 71:3; 78:35Psalms 28:1; 31:3; 42:9; 71:3; 78:35 (BSB)
28:1 Of David. To You, O Lord, I call; be not deaf to me, O my Rock. For if You remain silent, I will be like those descending to the Pit.
31:3 For You are my rock and my fortress; lead me and guide me for the sake of Your name.
42:9 I say to God my Rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why must I walk in sorrow because of the enemy’s oppression?”
71:3 Be my rock of refuge, where I can always go. Give the command to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress.
78:35 And they remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer.
), but it came to be a Messianic title (cf. Genesis 49:24Genesis 49:24 (BSB)
Yet he steadied his bow, and his strong arms were tempered by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, in the name of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
; Psalms 118:22Psalms 118:22 (BSB)
The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
; Isaiah 8:14; 28:16Isaiah 8:14; 28:16 (BSB)
8:14 And He will be a sanctuary— but to both houses of Israel a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, to the dwellers of Jerusalem a trap and a snare.
28:16 So this is what the Lord God says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will never be shaken.
; Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45 (BSB)
2:34-35 As you watched, a stone was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay, and crushed them. Then the iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold were shattered and became like chaff on the threshing floor in summer. The wind carried them away, and not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that had struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
2:44-45 In the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will shatter all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, but will itself stand forever. And just as you saw a stone being cut out of the mountain without human hands, and it shattered the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold, so the great God has told the king what will happen in the future. The dream is true, and its interpretation is trustworthy.”
; Matthew 21:42-44Matthew 21:42-44 (BSB)
Jesus said to them, “ Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”
). The key element of God's covenant promise (the Messiah) was misunderstood and rejected (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:231 Corinthians 1:23 (BSB)
but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
). The Jews misunderstood not only the Messiah's purpose, but the basic requirements of God's covenant. Christ became for the Jews a cause to stumble (cf. Isaiah 8:14Isaiah 8:14 (BSB)
And He will be a sanctuary— but to both houses of Israel a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, to the dwellers of Jerusalem a trap and a snare.
; Luke 2:34Luke 2:34 (BSB)
Then Simeon blessed them and said to His mother Mary: “Behold, this Child is appointed to cause the rise and fall of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against,
), but for the believers, both Jew and Gentile, He became the foundation stone (cf. Isaiah 28:16Isaiah 28:16 (BSB)
So this is what the Lord God says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will never be shaken.
; 1 Peter 2:6-101 Peter 2:6-10 (BSB)
For it stands in Scripture: “See, I lay in Zion a stone, a chosen and precious cornerstone; and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame.” To you who believe, then, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word— and to this they were appointed. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, to proclaim the virtues of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
).


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Romans 10

Romans 10:1Romans 10:1 (NLT'04)
Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved.
Paul's heart is again revealed, as it was in Romans 9:1-3Romans 9:1-3 (NLT'04)
With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness. My conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it. My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them.
. If Paul had understood his own words in Romans 9 with a strict Calvinist interpretation, it is unlikely he would have prayed to God for the salvation of the people of Israel.

Romans 10:2-3Romans 10:2-3 (NLT'04)
I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don't understand God's way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God's way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law.
See Romans 9:16Romans 9:16 (NLT'04, NKJ)
NLT'04: So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.
NKJ: So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.
From the NKJ - The Jew's "willing" and "running" were misdirected, even though their zeal is sincere. Many religious people are sincere and have great zeal (Islamic Jihadist come to mind). The Jews at this time, like all those in a false religion, do not correctly understand God's righteousness, his plan of salvation and how He makes people right with himself. For the Jews, they have misunderstood the law as being the path to righteousness in and of itself, not realizing that all are destined fail in attempting that path. While the law is not a viable path for mortal men, it is a reflection of the righteousness of God. Jesus expounded on the heart significance of this righteousness in the Sermon on the mount ("you have heard it said... but I say..."). Paul explained the Jew's failure to obtain the righteousness of God by the law in detail in Chapter 2.

See Galatians 3:19-29Galatians 3:19-29 (NLT'04)
Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. Now a mediator is helpful if more than one party must reach an agreement. But God, who is one, did not use a mediator when he gave his promise to Abraham. Is there a conflict, then, between God's law and God's promises? Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it. But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God's promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ. Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed. Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God's promise to Abraham belongs to you.
. What was veiled before Christ was that the law was set up as a "schoolmaster" or "guardian" to keep us until Christ came. It was set up because of sin and became our guardian. Thayer's definition of the word guardian/schoolmaster (Strong's G3807) in Galatians 3:24Galatians 3:24 (NLT'04)
Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith.
:

a tutor, i.e. a guardian and guide of boys. Among the Greeks and the Romans the name was applied to trustworthy slaves who were charged with the duty of supervising the life and morals of boys belonging to the better class. The boys were not allowed so much as to step out of the house without them before arriving at the age of manhood.

The law was not a replacement of the promise made to Abraham - it was our keeper until that promise would be fulfilled in Jesus. As Galatians 3:24Galatians 3:24 (NLT'04)
Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith.
says, the law became our guardian so that once Christ came, we could be declared righteous by faith; once faith came, we no longer need the guardian (Galatians 3:25Galatians 3:25 (NLT'04)
And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.
). Paul had said in Galatians 3:19Galatians 3:19 (NLT'04)
Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people.
that the law was given to show people their sins. When we realize our sins, we realize our continuing need for forgiveness. Paul put this succinctly in Acts 13:38-39Acts 13:38-39 (NLT'04)
"Brothers, listen! We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in him is declared right with God—something the law of Moses could never do.
. The law could not make us right with God (as it only revealed our sin - it did not save us from our sin). This shows the futility in attempting to obey the law for the purpose of being made right with God. Paul says that the forgiveness we need is in Jesus Christ!

The pharisees had a zeal for righteousness, but when pure righteousness entered into their midst, they stumbled over Him and were offended by him. They did not recognize in Him the righteousness of God, because even though they were attempting to follow the law, they were ignorant of the true heart righteousness it represented.

Romans 10:4Romans 10:4 (NLT'04)
For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.
brings summary to Paul's point. The goal/end of the law was to bring righteousness via belief and not works. Because the Jews had missed this, they were still trying to bring their own righteousness through the law.

Romans 10:5Romans 10:5 (NLT'04)
For Moses writes that the law's way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands.
is from Leviticus 18:5Leviticus 18:5 (NLT'04)
If you obey my decrees and my regulations, you will find life through them. I am the Lord.
, which states that to find life, you must keep the law. From the context of the previous verses (Leviticus 18:1-4Leviticus 18:1-4 (NLT'04)
Then the Lord said to Moses, "Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. I am the Lord your God. So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. You must not imitate their way of life. You must obey all my regulations and be careful to obey my decrees, for I am the Lord your God.
) we see that the law creates a "difference" between the Israelites and the people around them, among whom they used to live (the people of Egypt and Canaan). Assuming the Law represents God's ways and Egypt and Canaan represent the world's ways, the law is given so that we would not imitate the ways of the world. As we have seen in Romans, while this is a lofty ideal, our reality pales, and we find we are not able to keep the law as fully as we should, or as fully as we should want (Romans 7:25Romans 7:25 (NLT'04)
Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God's law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
). By not keeping the law, death results and eternal life was lost (Matthew 19:16-17Matthew 19:16-17 (NLT'04)
Someone came to Jesus with this question: "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" "Why ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments."
, Galatians 3:10-13Galatians 3:10-13 (NLT'04)
But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, "Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God's Book of the Law." So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, "It is through faith that a righteous person has life." This way of faith is very different from the way of law, which says, "It is through obeying the law that a person has life." But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."
).

Romans 10:6-7Romans 10:6-7 (NLT'04)
But faith's way of getting right with God says, "Don't say in your heart, 'Who will go up to heaven' (to bring Christ down to earth). And don't say, 'Who will go down to the place of the dead' (to bring Christ back to life again)."
Paul is using language similar to that found in Deuteronomy 30:11-14Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (NLT'04)
"This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you to understand, and it is not beyond your reach. It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, 'Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?' It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, 'Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?' No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.
. In Deuteronomy, Moses, near the end of his life, was stating that the commands of the law were clear and not a mystery the people needed to go seek out. They were told they could choose to follow the law, and that choice was the choice between life and prosperity or death and disaster (Deuteronomy 30:15Deuteronomy 30:15 (NLT'04)
"Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster.
). The command to keep the law was the command to love God and walk in his ways. This would bring life. But to disobey and turn away from God would bring death (Deuteronomy 30:15-20Deuteronomy 30:15-20 (NLT'04)
"Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy. "But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy. "Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
). Again, we find the standard is desirable, but impossible. We cannot jump the gulf of the Grand Canyon. We need a helicopter.

Consider the Queen of Sheba, who traveled with great treasures to seek out the wisdom of Solomon (1 Kings 10 and 2 Chronicles 9). Moses was saying in Deuteronomy 30:11-14Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (NLT'04)
"This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you to understand, and it is not beyond your reach. It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, 'Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?' It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, 'Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?' No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.
that such journeys are not required regarding the law. Moses had spoken about the law regularly; the Israelites knew what the law was and said. Paul is making a similar argument regarding faith. Just as the law was clear and present and understandable to the Israelites, so too is faith clear and present and understandable to the readers of Romans. Because they have heard it preached, it is near to them - even on their lips and in their heart. I see dual meaning in Romans 10:6b-7Romans 10:6-7 (NLT'04)
But faith's way of getting right with God says, "Don't say in your heart, 'Who will go up to heaven' (to bring Christ down to earth). And don't say, 'Who will go down to the place of the dead' (to bring Christ back to life again)."
. First, we do not need to make any great journey to find the truth about getting right with God (the message of faith in Christ). Second, we do not need to find our way to heaven to bring Christ down - He was sent to us by God! We don't need to find our way to the depths of the earth to bring Christ back to life - He was resurrected and ever lives to make intercession for us! (Hebrews 7:25Hebrews 7:25 (NLT'04)
Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.
). Everything we need for salvation has been made clear and has been made available.

Romans 10:8-10Romans 10:8-10 (NLT'04)
In fact, it says, "The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart." And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
In fact, the message of faith is "very close at hand." Just as the law of God was so close to the Israelites that they could find it on their lips and in their heart (seat of understanding/knowledge - Strong's H3824) in Deuteronomy 30:14Deuteronomy 30:14 (NLT'04)
No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.
, similarly, we can find life simply by confessing "Jesus is Lord" with belief in our heart that God raised Jesus from the dead. We need no long journey. We need not go to heaven or into the grave in search of it. We need not bring Christ down or raise him from the dead as both of these things were done for us. Faith in Christ is readily available and only needs to be confessed and believed.

As stated by P. Pett:

In contrast with the righteousness which is of the Law is the righteousness which is of faith. This presents us with a totally different picture. Whereas ‘observing the Law had required a constant, and unavailing struggle, the righteousness which is of faith was obtained solely by truly believing in the Messiah Who had died for them and risen again, and by genuinely confessing Him as Lord. It did not require great effort. It required submission and trust, and subsequently a whole change of attitude.

Romans 10:11-13Romans 10:11-13 (NLT'04)
As the Scriptures tell us, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced." Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
We will never feel shame if we truly trust in Christ. Each verse is building on the previous (note the word "for" in most versions, tying the text to what was just said). The word is near, even in our hearts, that we simply need to confess and believe (verses 8-9Romans 10:8-9 (NLT'04)
In fact, it says, "The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart." And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
). FOR this results in salvation and righteousness (verse 10Romans 10:10 (NLT'04)
For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
). FOR this salvation will never bring shame (verse 11Romans 10:11 (NLT'04)
As the Scriptures tell us, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced."
). FOR it is for both Jew and Greek (verse 12Romans 10:12 (NLT'04)
Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him.
). FOR it is for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord! (verse 13Romans 10:13 (NLT'04)
For "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
).

Chapters 9-10, the progression so far: Chapter 9 spoke of God's sovereignty in moving his plan forward and in salvation. The verses above have spoken of man's responsibility for his own salvation - he must call on the name of the Lord. The next section of this chapter will speak to man's responsibility to share the news of God's offer of grace with others.

Romans 10:13Romans 10:13 (NLT'04)
For "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
quotes Joel 2:32Joel 2:32 (NLT'04)
But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, for some on Mount Zion in Jerusalem will escape, just as the Lord has said. These will be among the survivors whom the Lord has called.
(which is also quoted more fully in Acts 2:16-21Acts 2:16-21 (NLT'04)
No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: 'In the last days,' God says, 'I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike— and they will prophesy. And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below— blood and fire and clouds of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives. But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'
). In the Joel verses, God is specified as Jehovah, but here in Romans, the Lord is specified as Jesus (which is a deity clam for Christ).

Romans 10:14-15Romans 10:14-15 (NLT'04)
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, "How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!"
We are called to preach the gospel. Paul knew he had an obligation to preach the gospel (Romans 1:14-15Romans 1:14-15 (NLT'04)
For I have a great sense of obligation to people in both the civilized world and the rest of the world, to the educated and uneducated alike. So I am eager to come to you in Rome, too, to preach the Good News.
). The order of calling after believing is important. You can't call on the Lord unless you believe in him. You can't believe in him unless you've been told about him. This proves that simply having someone repeat a prayer without an underlying belief does not lead to salvation. Osteen may have a sinner's prayer at the end of his pep talks, but without having any knowledge of sin or who the real Jesus truly is, the "prayer" is worthless to salvation for his listeners. Sadly, many false teachers claim to be sent by God (Jeremiah 14:14-15; 23:21, 32Jeremiah 14:14-15; 23:21, 32 (NLT'04)
14:14-15: Then the Lord said, "These prophets are telling lies in my name. I did not send them or tell them to speak. I did not give them any messages. They prophesy of visions and revelations they have never seen or heard. They speak foolishness made up in their own lying hearts. Therefore, this is what the Lord says: I will punish these lying prophets, for they have spoken in my name even though I never sent them. They say that no war or famine will come, but they themselves will die by war and famine!
23:21... 32: "I have not sent these prophets, yet they run around claiming to speak for me. I have given them no message, yet they go on prophesying... I am against these false prophets. Their imaginary dreams are flagrant lies that lead my people into sin. I did not send or appoint them, and they have no message at all for my people. I, the Lord have spoken!"
and Galatians 1:8-9Galatians 1:8-9 (NLT'04)
Let God's curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.
).

Romans 10:15Romans 10:15 (NLT'04)
And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, "How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!"
While a church can "send" a missionary, this verse does not specify the sender. God is the ultimate sender (Matthew 9:38Matthew 9:38 (NLT'04)
So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields."
). The NET Bible states that "beautiful feet" may also be a metaphor for "timely news." The NET translates this verse:

And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How timely is the arrival of those who proclaim the good news.”

Some who believe in pure predestination might say "It doesn't matter if I tell people or not - if God called them, they'll be saved." This is not a Biblical doctrine - we are called to tell people about Jesus. We may not all be evangelists by our natural talents or giftings, but we are all called to share when the opportunity arises (1 Peter 3:151 Peter 3:15 (NLT'04)
Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.
). Consider what Jesus says about Tire, Sidon, and Sodom in Matthew 11:20-24Matthew 11:20-24 (NLT'04)
Then Jesus began to denounce the towns where he had done so many of his miracles, because they hadn't repented of their sins and turned to God. "What sorrow awaits you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago, clothing themselves in burlap and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse. I tell you, Tyre and Sidon will be better off on judgment day than you. "And you people of Capernaum, will you be honored in heaven? No, you will go down to the place of the dead. For if the miracles I did for you had been done in wicked Sodom, it would still be here today. I tell you, even Sodom will be better off on judgment day than you."
. The implications seems to be that if Jesus had chosen to come to their cities rather than Korazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, they would have repented and been saved. Could this implication not also extend to say that if they had been told about Jesus, they may have been saved? While these cities fell due to their own sin, the implication seems to be that if they had been told about Jesus, they may have accepted the call. Other cities did see Jesus and rejected the call. We do not know who will accept Jesus, and some that would have may not if they do not hear the message. God has chosen the apparent foolishness of our preaching to spread the message of salvation (1 Corinthians 1:211 Corinthians 1:21 (NLT'04)
Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.
, or fully, 1 Corinthians 1:18-251 Corinthians 1:18-25 (NLT'04)
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent." So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world's brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it's all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God's weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.
).

Romans 10:16Romans 10:16 (NLT'04)
But not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, "Lord, who has believed our message?"
The rejection of the gospel was predicted along with Messiah's coming and sacrifice (Isaiah 53 - verse 1Isaiah 53:1 (NLT'04)
Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
- "Who has believed our message?"). Isaiah was sent to a sinful people who would reject his message due to their sin and being hardened accordingly (Isaiah 6:9-13Isaiah 6:9-13 (NLT'04)
And he said, "Yes, go, and say to this people, 'Listen carefully, but do not understand. Watch closely, but learn nothing.' Harden the hearts of these people. Plug their ears and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts and turn to me for healing." Then I said, "Lord, how long will this go on?" And he replied, "Until their towns are empty, their houses are deserted, and the whole country is a wasteland; until the Lord has sent everyone away, and the entire land of Israel lies deserted. If even a tenth—a remnant—survive, it will be invaded again and burned. But as a terebinth or oak tree leaves a stump when it is cut down, so Israel's stump will be a holy seed."
). John 12:37-38John 12:37-38 (NLT'04)
But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted: "Lord, who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?"
shows the same heart in Jesus' time, also credited as fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy (At this point in history it was a dual, or continuous fulfillment - immediately for Isaiah, but also in the coming of Jesus and his rejection by the Jews). Sadly, this pattern of rejection continued to the time of Paul's writing as seen in Paul's reference of Isaiah's prophecy of rejection. Still today, Isaiah's prophecy is being fulfilled; for even now not everyone accepts the gospel, yet there is always a remnant (from the Jews) who believe. Consider Acts 14:4, 28:24Acts 14:4, 28:24 (NLT'04)
14:4 But the people of the town were divided in their opinion about them. Some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles.
28:24 Some were persuaded by the things he said, but others did not believe.
and Hebrews 4:1-3Hebrews 4:1-3 (NLT'04)
God's promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn't share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said, "In my anger I took an oath: 'They will never enter my place of rest,'" even though this rest has been ready since he made the world.
.

Romans 10:16-17Romans 10:16-17 (NLT'04)
But not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, "Lord, who has believed our message?" So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.
The word for "message" or "report" in verse 16Romans 10:16 (NLT'04)
But not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, "Lord, who has believed our message?"
is the same word for both instances of "hearing" or "what is heard" in verse 17Romans 10:17 (NLT'04)
So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.
. (Strong's G189). The original Greek is a noun and can refer to the sense of hearing, the ear itself, and the thing heard. A fair translation of verse 17 might be "so, faith comes by the hearing the message, and the message comes by the word of Christ." See Ephesians 1:13Ephesians 1:13 (NLT'04)
And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.
.

Does this mean that the Jews (contrasted with the Gentiles) can say they have not believed because they have not heard? No, if they believe their own scriptures, as Paul will discuss in the next few verses.

Romans 10:18Romans 10:18 (NLT'04)
But I ask, have the people of Israel actually heard the message? Yes, they have: "The message has gone throughout the earth, and the words to all the world."
This is from Psalms 19:4Psalms 19:4 (NLT'04)
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.
, which in context of Psalm 19, shows that "Their voice" (CSB, NET) / "Their sound" (NKJ) / "The message" (NLT) is the declaration of the heavens (sky) of the glory of God. Psalm 19 shows the declaration of the heavens (nature) and the perfection of the law of God as a delight and warning. Paul seems to be reusing this quotation (so to speak) to show that the message of Christ has been plain to the Jews of his time. Verse 19Romans 10:19 (NLT'04)
But I ask, did the people of Israel really understand? Yes, they did, for even in the time of Moses, God said, "I will rouse your jealousy through people who are not even a nation. I will provoke your anger through the foolish Gentiles."
may show that the "they" who have not heard is specifically Israel (which is supplied in verse 18Romans 10:18 (NLT'04)
But I ask, have the people of Israel actually heard the message? Yes, they have: "The message has gone throughout the earth, and the words to all the world."
in the NLT, though the Greek only has the pronoun; the NET references Israel via a footnote) (Note some commentators disagree with the NLT and believe the "they" refers to the Gentiles, especially as Paul has used the argument of nature to show God has revealed himself to non-Jews, as in Romans 1, following the revelation pattern of Psalm 19).

We should be careful not to assume Paul means the entire world as being every place on the earth (Atheists may make this claim to show fault with the Bible). Here, Paul instead refers to the world (Strong's G3625) with which the Jews interacted and knew. Similar use of a similar word (Strong's G2889) is found in Romans 1:8. Also consider the phrase "every nation under heaven" in Acts 2:5Acts 2:5 (NLT'04, NKJ)
NLT: At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem.
NKJ: And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.
. We need to consider the context of the writer's thinking. Consider the use of Strong's G3625 in Luke 2:1Luke 2:1 (NLT'04)
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire.
; Acts 11:28, 17:6, 19:27Acts 11:28, 17:6, 19:27 (NLT'04)
11:28 One of them named Agabus stood up in one of the meetings and predicted by the Spirit that a great famine was coming upon the entire Roman world. (This was fulfilled during the reign of Claudius.)
17:6 Not finding them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the other believers instead and took them before the city council. "Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world," they shouted, "and now they are here disturbing our city, too.
19:27 Of course, I'm not just talking about the loss of public respect for our business. I'm also concerned that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will lose its influence and that Artemis—this magnificent goddess worshiped throughout the province of Asia and all around the world—will be robbed of her great prestige!"
contrasted with the use of the same word in Hebrews 1:6, 2:5Hebrews 1:6, 2:5 (NLT'04)
1:6 And when he brought his firstborn Son into the world, God said, "Let all of God's angels worship him."
2:5 And furthermore, it is not angels who will control the future world we are talking about.
; Revelation 3:10, 12:9 and 16:14Revelation 3:10, 12:9 and 16:14 (NLT'04)
3:10 "Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world.
12:9 This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.
16:14 They are demonic spirits who work miracles and go out to all the rulers of the world to gather them for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God the Almighty.
. If we consider "they" to be all people, including the Gentiles, then the "world" could be the whole world. If we consider "they" to be the Jews (as noted by the NLT translation and the NET footnote), then a more limited meaning of "world" would be appropriate.

Romans 10:19Romans 10:19 (NLT'04)
But I ask, did the people of Israel really understand? Yes, they did, for even in the time of Moses, God said, "I will rouse your jealousy through people who are not even a nation. I will provoke your anger through the foolish Gentiles."
In the time of Jesus, it seems the Jews did not fathom that the Good News of the Messiah would be offered to the various Pagan nations, yet they should have expected that based on their own scriptures. Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 32:21Deuteronomy 32:21 (NLT'04)
They have roused my jealousy by worshiping things that are not God; they have provoked my anger with their useless idols. Now I will rouse their jealousy through people who are not even a people; I will provoke their anger through the foolish Gentiles.
to make his point. Basically, God says, "You, my people, chose other gods, so I will choose other people." In his grace, God showed himself to a foolish people [(the Gentiles) Psalms 14:1Psalms 14:1 (NLT'04)
Only fools say in their hearts, "There is no God." They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!
(Strong's H5036); Proverbs 1:7Proverbs 1:7 (NLT'04)
Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
(Strong's H191)].

Romans 10:20-21Romans 10:20-21 (NLT'04)
And later Isaiah spoke boldly for God, saying, "I was found by people who were not looking for me. I showed myself to those who were not asking for me." But regarding Israel, God said, "All day long I opened my arms to them, but they were disobedient and rebellious."
And we should be thankful, for we were saved because God extended his good news beyond the Jews, to us Gentiles, with the goal of making the Jews jealous. Their rejection lead to our acceptance. This does not mean that they too can not be accepted (Romans 11:11-15Romans 11:11-15 (NLT'04)
Did God's people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient, so God made salvation available to the Gentiles. But he wanted his own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves. Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God's offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it. I am saying all this especially for you Gentiles. God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles. I stress this, for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them. For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead!
).

What Paul said Moses warned God would do in verse 19Romans 10:19 (NLT'04)
But I ask, did the people of Israel really understand? Yes, they did, for even in the time of Moses, God said, "I will rouse your jealousy through people who are not even a nation. I will provoke your anger through the foolish Gentiles."
, Paul confirms with a second quote from Isaiah (Isaiah 65:1-2Isaiah 65:1-2 (NLT'04)
The Lord says, "I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, 'Here I am, here I am!' to a nation that did not call on my name. All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people. But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes.
). Historical consideration shows that not long after these words were penned, the Jews underwent a horrible judgment in the late 60s to 70AD with the wars and full destruction of the temple. Proverbs 29:1Proverbs 29:1 (NLT'04)
Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery.
says "One who becomes stiff-necked, after many reprimands will be shattered instantly — beyond recovery." (CSB). For the Jews who remained rebellious and lost their lives in that time, there was no longer a remedy. Does that mean there is no hope for the Jews at all, even today? Absolutely not, as we will see in Romans 11. But we too must be careful, lest the deceitfulness of sin causes a hardening of our own hearts, and we too depart from the living God (Hebrews 3:12-15Hebrews 3:12-15 (NLT'04)
Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still "today," so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. Remember what it says: "Today when you hear his voice, don't harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled."
). We must not be conceited because we have accepted the truth the Jews rejected, and we must not loose hope for a future hope of salvation for the Jewish people.

In Isaiah 65:1Isaiah 65:1 (NLT'04)
The Lord says, "I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, 'Here I am, here I am!' to a nation that did not call on my name.
, the Lord was ready to be found. In Romans, Paul says Isaiah spoke boldly on behalf of God saying "I was" or "I have been" found. Paul is showing a fulfillment of this prophecy.

Romans 10:21Romans 10:21 (NLT'04)
But regarding Israel, God said, "All day long I opened my arms to them, but they were disobedient and rebellious."
Consider Jeremiah 7:13...25Jeremiah 7:13 (NLT'04)
While you were doing these wicked things, says the Lord, I spoke to you about it repeatedly, but you would not listen. I called out to you, but you refused to answer... From the day your ancestors left Egypt until now, I have continued to send my servants, the prophets—day in and day out.
and Proverbs 1:24Proverbs 1:24 (NLT'04)
"I called you so often, but you wouldn't come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention.
. All these verses show God's longsuffering. He opened his arms "all day long" and he called out repeatedly and so often. See Isaiah 65:2-7Isaiah 65:2-7 (NLT'04)
All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people. But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes. All day long they insult me to my face by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens. They burn incense on pagan altars. At night they go out among the graves, worshiping the dead. They eat the flesh of pigs and make stews with other forbidden foods. Yet they say to each other, 'Don't come too close or you will defile me! I am holier than you!' These people are a stench in my nostrils, an acrid smell that never goes away. "Look, my decree is written out in front of me: I will not stand silent; I will repay them in full! Yes, I will repay them— both for their own sins and for those of their ancestors," says the Lord. "For they also burned incense on the mountains and insulted me on the hills. I will pay them back in full!
for example of how the people were disobedient, ignoring the call of God.
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Romans 11

Romans 11:1Romans 11:1 (NLT'04)
I ask, then, has God rejected his own people, the nation of Israel? Of course not! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham and a member of the tribe of Benjamin.
has already been answered in Psalms 94:14Psalms 94:14 (NLT'04)
The Lord will not reject his people; he will not abandon his special possession.
and 1 Samuel 12:221 Samuel 12:22 (NLT'04)
The Lord will not abandon his people, because that would dishonor his great name. For it has pleased the Lord to make you his very own people.
. Paul, being a Jew, uses himself as example evidence that God has not rejected Israel. If God had, Paul would not have accepted the Messiah.

Romans 11:2Romans 11:2 (NLT'04)
No, God has not rejected his own people, whom he chose from the very beginning. Do you realize what the Scriptures say about this? Elijah the prophet complained to God about the people of Israel and said,
The people God foreknew (chose in the NLT) are not cast away. It may be that Paul here is giving reason for why He has not rejected his own people - he "foreknew" them (chose in the NLT). Foreknew was discussed at Romans 8:29Romans 8:29 (NLT'04)
For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
ff. Calvinist leaning people might speculate that "foreknew" here refers only to those elected to salvation, but the topic has been the Jewish people as a whole nation. God has not rejected the Jews, and proof of this can be found in the fact that a remnant of those are being saved. Verse 28Romans 11:28 (NLT'04)
Many of the people of Israel are now enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles. Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
states that even though much of Israel has rejected God, they are still the people he loves (Verse 28Romans 11:28 (NLT'04)
Many of the people of Israel are now enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles. Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
also speaks of the Jews as a whole, and not just an elected subset).

Romans 11:3-4Romans 11:3-4 (NLT'04)
"Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too." And do you remember God's reply? He said, "No, I have 7,000 others who have never bowed down to Baal!"
When Elijah was bemoaning that he was the only faithful one left, God revealed that he had 7000 others who also had remained faithful (1Kings 19). Paul is arguing that the same was true at the time of his writing (and I argue that the same is true even today - there is always a remnant).

Per Albert Barnes, the Hebrew from 1 Kings 19:181 Kings 19:18 (NLT'04)
Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!"
is "I have caused to remain." God caused it so not everyone in Israel would bow to Baal. If it were not for God, there would be no remnant. God has prevented some from becoming idolaters.

Regarding Calvinism, and being careful not to be seduced by its rigidness and the error that can lead one into, Tim Conway states:

Election never does away with the fact that there are decisions to be made. I set before you life and death. Choose Life. Isn't that how Scripture speaks?

Paul uses Elijah's complaint and God's response to find hope that there was, even then, a remnant of Jews whom God had saved for himself. Paul seems to have learned a lesson from Elijah's despondency, and unlike Elijah when he complained, Paul is not hopeless. It was in response to Elijah's complaint that God told Elijah to anoint his successor. It seems Elijah's complaint brought about the beginning of the end to his ministry (see 1 Kings 19:1-181 Kings 19:1-18 (NLT'04)
When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal. So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: "May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them." Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, Lord," he said. "Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died." Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, "Get up and eat!" He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again. Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, "Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you." So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. There he came to a cave, where he spent the night. But the Lord said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" Elijah replied, "I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too." "Go out and stand before me on the mountain," the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He replied again, "I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too." Then the Lord told him, "Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram. Then anoint Jehu son of Nimshi to be king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah to replace you as my prophet. Anyone who escapes from Hazael will be killed by Jehu, and those who escape Jehu will be killed by Elisha! Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!"
).

Romans 11:5-6Romans 11:5-6 (NLT'04)
It is the same today, for a few of the people of Israel have remained faithful because of God's grace—his undeserved kindness in choosing them. And since it is through God's kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God's grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved.
God has not accepted Israel because of any intrinsic worth that they may have. He has not rejected them only because of his grace. There is nothing Israel has done to warrant not being rejected. Their being accepted or chosen was undeserved; it was not by their works (Galatians 2:6Galatians 2:6 (NLT'04)
And the leaders of the church had nothing to add to what I was preaching. (By the way, their reputation as great leaders made no difference to me, for God has no favorites.)
, Ephesians 2:8-9Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT'04)
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
, Titus 3:5Titus 3:5 (NLT'04)
he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
). If God were not allowed freedom to give grace to whomever he wants, regardless of man's works, then he would be at the mercy of man's works, and would not be God. This is yet another reminder to the Jews that their sense of justification in attempting to follow the law was misplaced (Galatians 5:4Galatians 5:4 (NLT'04)
For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God's grace.
).

Romans 11:7Romans 11:7 (NLT'04)
So this is the situation: Most of the people of Israel have not found the favor of God they are looking for so earnestly. A few have—the ones God has chosen—but the hearts of the rest were hardened.
The word "elect" ("the ones God has chosen" in the NLT) is Strong's G1589. The word occurs 8 times in the NT: Romans 9:10-11Romans 9:10-11 (NLT'04)
This son was our ancestor Isaac. When he married Rebekah, she gave birth to twins. But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that God chooses people according to his own purposes;
(2), Romans 11:5Romans 11:5 (NLT'04)
It is the same today, for a few of the people of Israel have remained faithful because of God's grace—his undeserved kindness in choosing them.
, Romans 11:7Romans 11:7 (NLT'04)
So this is the situation: Most of the people of Israel have not found the favor of God they are looking for so earnestly. A few have—the ones God has chosen—but the hearts of the rest were hardened.
, Romans 11:28Romans 11:28 (NLT'04)
Many of the people of Israel are now enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles. Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
, 1 Thessalonians 1:41 Thessalonians 1:4 (NLT'04)
We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people.
, 2 Peter 1:102 Peter 1:10 (NLT'04)
So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away.
, Acts 9:15Acts 9:15 (NLT'04)
But the Lord said, "Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel.
.

The word "hardened" (CSB, NET, NLT) or "blinded" (NKJ) is Strong's G4456, and per Thayer, means:

1) to cover with a thick skin, to harden by covering with a callus
2) metaphorically
    2a) to make the heart dull
    2b) to grow hard, callous, become dull, lose the power of understanding

The word is used five times in the NT: Mark 6:52Mark 6:52 (NLT'04)
for they still didn't understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.
, Mark 8:17Mark 8:17 (NLT'04)
Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, "Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don't you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in?
, John 12:40John 12:40 (NLT'04)
"The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts— so that their eyes cannot see, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and have me heal them."
, Romans 11:7Romans 11:7 (NLT'04)
So this is the situation: Most of the people of Israel have not found the favor of God they are looking for so earnestly. A few have—the ones God has chosen—but the hearts of the rest were hardened.
, 2 Corinthians 3:142 Corinthians 3:14 (NLT'04)
But the people's minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ.
. A hardening of the skin, as with a callus, takes time and effort on the part of the individual. Could this show that God hardens us slowly, in a spiritual response to our spiritual works, just as our hands may become callused by the physical response to our physical works?

Romans 11:9Romans 11:9 (NLT'04)
Likewise, David said, "Let their bountiful table become a snare, a trap that makes them think all is well. Let their blessings cause them to stumble, and let them get what they deserve.
Bounty and blessing can become a snare. Gifts from God can cause us to turn towards ourselves, trusting all is well. We must always be wary of our heart. Moses warned about this in Deuteronomy 6:11-12Deuteronomy 6:11-12 (NLT'04)
The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant. When you have eaten your fill in this land, be careful not to forget the Lord, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt.
and <Deuteronomy 8:10-14Deuteronomy 8:10-14 (NLT'15)
When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. "But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt.
.

Romans 11:9-10Romans 11:9-10 (NLT'04)
Likewise, David said, "Let their bountiful table become a snare, a trap that makes them think all is well. Let their blessings cause them to stumble, and let them get what they deserve. Let their eyes go blind so they cannot see, and let their backs be bent forever."
The quote is from David from Psalms 69:22-23Psalms 69:22-23 (NLT'04)
Let the bountiful table set before them become a snare and their prosperity become a trap. Let their eyes go blind so they cannot see, and make their bodies shake continually.
. In the Psalm, this imprecatory request is made immediately after Psalms 69:21Psalms 69:21 (NLT'04)
But instead, they give me poison for food; they offer me sour wine for my thirst.
, prophesying that Jesus would be given sour wine at his crucifixion (as seen in Matthew 27:34Matthew 27:34 (NLT'04)
The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it.
). The implication may be that the Jews are being hardened as punishment for their treatment of the Messiah.

Romans 11:10Romans 11:10 (NLT'04)
Let their eyes go blind so they cannot see, and let their backs be bent forever."
seems to be the opposite of Psalms 146:8Psalms 146:8 (NLT'04)
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down. The Lord loves the godly.
. Here is a hint that the punishment is not forever, despite the original request of David. The next verse confirms the fall is not beyond recovery. "Let their backs be bent" is from the LLX of Psalms 69:23Psalms 69:23 (NLT'04)
Let their eyes go blind so they cannot see, and make their bodies shake continually.
; the implication seems to be of bearing burdens that are heavy to the bearer.

Romans 11:7-10Romans 11:7-10 (NLT'04)
So this is the situation: Most of the people of Israel have not found the favor of God they are looking for so earnestly. A few have—the ones God has chosen—but the hearts of the rest were hardened. As the Scriptures say, "God has put them into a deep sleep. To this day he has shut their eyes so they do not see, and closed their ears so they do not hear." Likewise, David said, "Let their bountiful table become a snare, a trap that makes them think all is well. Let their blessings cause them to stumble, and let them get what they deserve. Let their eyes go blind so they cannot see, and let their backs be bent forever."
, as commentated by Joseph Benson:

They loved darkness rather than light, and therefore were permitted by the righteous judgment of God to go on in darkness, while the blind led the blind. And such still continues to be the state of the Jews, notwithstanding the intolerable load of woe which in all ages, since their rejection of the Messiah, has bowed down their backs to the earth. By quoting these prophecies, the apostle showed the Jews that their rejection and punishment for crucifying the Messiah, was long ago foretold in their own Scriptures. It is justly observed by Macknight here, that “God’s ancient Israel, given up to deep sleep, to blind eyes, and deaf ears, and with the back bowed down continually, is an example which ought to terrify all who enjoy the gospel, lest by abusing it they bring themselves into the like miserable condition.”

Romans 11:11Romans 11:11 (NLT'04)
Did God's people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient, so God made salvation available to the Gentiles. But he wanted his own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves.
While some may say God's hardening is equivalent to reprobation (eternal damnation decreed by God), here, the hardening is stated to be so that the offer of salvation can be made to the Gentiles, for the purpose, not only of saving Gentiles, but also of making the Jews jealous so they turn to God and claim salvation for themselves. The hardening spoken of here seems to be corporate, and not individual. Hardening of individuals was discussed in chapter 9, and Biblical examples seem to show God hardening people by "locking" them into the sinful ways they had already chosen for themselves, similar to what we see in Romans 1:24, 26 and 28Romans 1:24, 26 & 28 (NLT'04)
24: So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other's bodies.
26: That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other.
28: Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.
.

Note the NLT translation of this verse says "But God wanted to make his own people to become jealous..." "But God Wanted" has been added by the translators and is not original to the text.

Romans 11:12-15Romans 11:12-15 (NLT'04)
Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God's offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it. I am saying all this especially for you Gentiles. God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles. I stress this, for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them. For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead!
If it were not for the Jews rejecting Christ, salvation would not have come to the Gentiles. But it does not stop there. When the Jews finally accept Christ, it will be an even greater blessing for the world. Simply in the natural, the Jews have survived as a vibrant people, even having rejected their Messiah, for 2+ millennia. Despite the world trying many times to eradicate them, they remain. Does this not suggest God is preserving them as a people for a purpose, and in honor to his promises to Abraham? Won't those who have been given the very scriptures that spoke about Messiah make great witnesses to that Messiah once they accept him?

Romans 11:13-14Romans 11:13-14 (NLT'04)
I am saying all this especially for you Gentiles. God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles. I stress this, for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them.
Even though Paul is appointed as the apostle to the Gentiles, he still has a heart for his countrymen and desires their salvation. Paul sees that God will use jealousy of the Jews for what the Gentiles have.

Romans 11:15Romans 11:15 (NLT'04)
For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead!
In a sense, it seems God always desires to give grace and mercy to rebellious people. He chose the Israelites for this, but after they continually refused, God then spread his mercy to the Gentiles (a much larger population). Through jealousy, grace will move back to the Jews. Man's rebellion and rejection can not stamp out God's offer of mercy.

Romans 11:16Romans 11:16 (NLT'04)
And since Abraham and the other patriarchs were holy, their descendants will also be holy—just as the entire batch of dough is holy because the portion given as an offering is holy. For if the roots of the tree are holy, the branches will be, too.
Paul may be taking the idea from Numbers 15:17-21Numbers 15:17-21 (NLT'04)
Then the Lord said to Moses, "Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. "When you arrive in the land where I am taking you, and you eat the crops that grow there, you must set some aside as a sacred offering to the Lord. Present a cake from the first of the flour you grind, and set it aside as a sacred offering, as you do with the first grain from the threshing floor. Throughout the generations to come, you are to present a sacred offering to the Lord each year from the first of your ground flour.
. In Numbers, God was telling the people to offer an initial offering from their baked goods from which they would eat. From the ESV Study Bible for Numbers 15:17-21Numbers 15:17-21 (NLT'04)
Then the Lord said to Moses, "Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. "When you arrive in the land where I am taking you, and you eat the crops that grow there, you must set some aside as a sacred offering to the Lord. Present a cake from the first of the flour you grind, and set it aside as a sacred offering, as you do with the first grain from the threshing floor. Throughout the generations to come, you are to present a sacred offering to the Lord each year from the first of your ground flour.
:

The book of Leviticus (Leviticus 19:24-25Leviticus 19:24-25 (NLT'04)
In the fourth year the entire crop must be consecrated to the Lord as a celebration of praise. Finally, in the fifth year you may eat the fruit. If you follow this pattern, your harvest will increase. I am the Lord your God.
; 23:10-11Leviticus 23:10-11 (NLT'04)
"Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. When you enter the land I am giving you and you harvest its first crops, bring the priest a bundle of grain from the first cutting of your grain harvest. On the day after the Sabbath, the priest will lift it up before the Lord so it may be accepted on your behalf.
) insists that the firstfruits of the crops must be given to God. This principle is now extended to baking. The first dough is given to the priests. Observant Jews today still remember this rule when they bake, by throwing a small lump of dough into the fire.

Ray Stedman notes:

Now, it would take a good Jew to really understand this. Paul is referring to the offerings and sacrifices in the tabernacle. For the offering of the firstfruits, a pile of dough was made up, and someone would take a handful of it and present it to God. Paul's argument is that if that first handful was acceptable and holy before God, the rest of the dough would be too. Now, the firstfruit here is Abraham, the father of the Israel nation. Abraham was accepted before God; therefore his descendants will be too. They are not cut off from God or from his relationship with them; they are claimed by God...

I think the point (when considered in context of the whole of this section of scripture) is that just as Abraham and the patriarchs were holy and accepted before God, so too are the remaining faithful Jews. God has not rejected the Jews because he no longer cares for them, but as will be seen in the more detailed description of the olive branches, many have been broken off, due to their unbelief. Even then, they are still able to be grafted back in.

Note by Matthew Poole:

Some make a difference between the first-fruit [Here defined specifically as an initial offering of dough taken from the whole batch of dough], and the root, in the latter part of the verse. By the first-fruit they understand the apostles and other godly Jews, that were at first converted to the Christian faith; and by the root they understand Abraham and the patriarchs. Others take them for the same, and understand Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with the rest of the patriarchs, to be both the first-fruit and the root. [brackets mine]

Romans 11:17-18Romans 11:17-18 (NLT'04)
But some of these branches from Abraham's tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God's special olive tree. But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root.
We (Gentiles) are the wild branches which have been grafted into God's Olive Tree, which initially was comprised of Israel. They had to be removed so we could be grafted in. We have no boast. Our support is by God, not the other way around.

Romans 11:19-21Romans 11:19-21 (NLT'04)
"Well," you may say, "those branches were broken off to make room for me." Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn't believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don't think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. For if God did not spare the original branches, he won't spare you either.
Unbelief caused Israel to be broken off. This should give us fear, as we too can be broken off because of unbelief. Faith/belief causes us to stand; our works do not cause us to stand, so we can not boast.

Romans 11:20Romans 11:20 (NLT'04)
Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn't believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don't think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen.
"Fear" in this verse means fear/afraid/fright. It does not mean mere reverence. The fear is not that we won't be accepted at Judgment (because we, as Christians, have committed some sin, for example), but that we too will be broken off because of unbelief. The natural branches were broken off due to unbelief, and just as God did not spare the natural, he may not (some translations: will not) spare you (Gentiles) either. In fact, verse 22Romans 11:22 (NLT'04)
Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off.
in the New Living Translation specifies:

But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off.

<Considerations to Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (21 Vols), Discourse 1897, Against Pride and Security for the following thoughts regarding why we should not be arrogant, but be afraid.>

Attached to not being afraid is our not being arrogant, proud, haughty, conceited, or highminded (various translations). It is shockingly easy for the mortal aspects of our nature to become arrogant even with Divine grace itself, for we come to be proud that grace is something we have smartly obtained while other, lesser people have not; this makes us think we are more special than they. Consider Psalms 30:6-7Psalms 30:6-7 (NLT'04)
When I was prosperous, I said, "Nothing can stop me now!" Your favor, O Lord, made me as secure as a mountain. Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered.
(we may think our mountain so strong that it can never be moved); Isaiah 65:1-5Isaiah 65:1-5 (NLT'04)
The Lord says, "I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, 'Here I am, here I am!' to a nation that did not call on my name. All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people. But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes. All day long they insult me to my face by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens. They burn incense on pagan altars. At night they go out among the graves, worshiping the dead. They eat the flesh of pigs and make stews with other forbidden foods. Yet they say to each other, 'Don't come too close or you will defile me! I am holier than you!' These people are a stench in my nostrils, an acrid smell that never goes away.
(specifically verse 5Isaiah 65:5 (NLT'04)
Yet they say to each other, 'Don't come too close or you will defile me! I am holier than you!' These people are a stench in my nostrils, an acrid smell that never goes away.
- our natural self tends towards saying, "Keep to yourself; do not come near me, for I am holier than you!"); Jeremiah 17:5Jeremiah 17:5 (NLT'04)
This is what the Lord says: "Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
(it is easy to trust in our flesh and mankind, turning our hearts away from the Lord); Proverbs 28:26Proverbs 28:26 (NLT'04)
Those who trust their own insight are foolish, but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe.
; and Romans 12:3Romans 12:3 (NLT'04)
Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don't think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.
(We must instead think soberly of ourselves).

We must guard ourselves and our flesh, making it our slave, lest we become disqualified by it. Our flesh will cause us to drift away; we must examine ourselves (1 Corinthians 9:271 Corinthians 9:27 (NLT'04)
I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
; Romans 6:18-19, 8:13Romans 6:18-19, 8:13 (NLT'04)
6:18-19 Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living. Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.
8:13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.
; 2 Corinthians 13:52 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT'04)
Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.
; Hebrews 2:1Hebrews 2:1 (NLT'04)
So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.
). Why must we do this?

  1. Because we have no stability in ourselves; we must work out our salvation leaning wholly on God; any good that is worked in us is his doing (Philippians 2:12-13Philippians 2:12-13 (NLT'04)
    Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
    ).

  2. Because others, who may have seemed to have been secure in their salvation, have been rejected. Consider 1 Timothy 1:191 Timothy 1:19 (NLT'04)
    Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.
    ; 2 Timothy 4:102 Timothy 4:10 (NLT'04)
    Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia.
    ; Jude 1:5Jude 1:5 (NLT'04)
    So I want to remind you, though you already know these things, that Jesus first rescued the nation of Israel from Egypt, but later he destroyed those who did not remain faithful.
    ; 1 Corinthians 10:11-121 Corinthians 10:11-12 (NLT'04)
    These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age. If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.
    (what happened to the Israelites who were destroyed in the wilderness is set forth as an example and a warning to us); Romans 11:21-22Romans 11:21-22 (NLT'04)
    For if God did not spare the original branches, he won't spare you either. Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off.
    .

  3. The frailty of man that prevented the Jews from entering into God's rest exists in all of us, which is why such a stark warning is found in Hebrews about not having a wicked heart of unbelief, hardened by sin's deceitfulness (Hebrews 3:6-4:1Hebrews 3:6-4:1 (NLT'04)
    But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God's entire house. And we are God's house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ. That is why the Holy Spirit says, "Today when you hear his voice, don't harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness. There your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years. So I was angry with them, and I said, 'Their hearts always turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.' So in my anger I took an oath: 'They will never enter my place of rest.'" Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still "today," so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. Remember what it says: "Today when you hear his voice, don't harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled." And who was it who rebelled against God, even though they heard his voice? Wasn't it the people Moses led out of Egypt? And who made God angry for forty years? Wasn't it the people who sinned, whose corpses lay in the wilderness? And to whom was God speaking when he took an oath that they would never enter his rest? Wasn't it the people who disobeyed him? So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest. God's promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it.
    ). But know, if we ever feel we have failed in this - we can turn back (Hebrews 4:12-16Hebrews 4:12-16 (NLT'04)
    For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
    ).

</end Charles Simeon considerations>

In reflecting on the above - should we be afraid of God? Not if we have faith in him as our justifier. We should be afraid of ourselves/our flesh. God did not arbitrarily remove the natural branches from the olive tree. He did this due to the unbelief of the branches. We know that once saved, no other person and nothing can take us out of the father's (and Jesus') hand (John 10:25-30John 10:25-30 (NLT'04)
Jesus replied, "I have already told you, and you don't believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father's name. But you don't believe me because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father's hand. The Father and I are one."
). However, it does seem from the whole of the scriptures that we can "jump out" of his hand if we so choose, being led astray by the deceitfulness of sin. Maybe those who do this were never saved in the first place and were merely tares (Matthew 13:24-30Matthew 13:24-30 (NLT'04)
Here is another story Jesus told: "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. "The farmer's workers went to him and said, 'Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?' "'An enemy has done this!' the farmer exclaimed. "'Should we pull out the weeds?' they asked. "'No,' he replied, 'you'll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.'"
). However, we know it is at least theoretically possible for true Christians to turn away as well. Consider the frightening warning of Hebrews 6:4-8Hebrews 6:4-8 (NLT'04)
For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame. When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God's blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.
. These people were saved for they had "shared in the Holy Spirit," and because of this, since they turned away from God, they can not be brought back (Note the writer's encouragement that this warning probably doesn't apply to his readers in the next verses, Hebrews 6:9-12Hebrews 6:9-12 (NLT'04)
Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don't believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God's promises because of their faith and endurance.
). Having been abandoned by God, these reprobates will not desire to return. Also note 1 John 2:191 John 2:19 (NLT'04)
These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.
where it say that those who leave, in leaving prove they never did belong. It is by examining ourselves that we can prevent disaster to our souls. Remember, fundamentally, salvation is NOT about what we DO, but it's about what we BELIEVE, though our doing will reflect our belief (Consider and compare Matthew 7:21-23Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT'04)
"Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, 'Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God's laws.'
with James 2:14-20James 2:14-20 (NLT'04)
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don't show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, "Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well"—but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn't enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, "Some people have faith; others have good deeds." But I say, "How can you show me your faith if you don't have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds." You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can't you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
, both speaking specifically to those who have claimed salvation by faith in Jesus). We must also remember that when we do struggle with sin, simply hating the sin we struggle with shows evidence of our salvation (Consider Romans 7:14-25Romans 7:14-25 (NLT'04)
So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can't. I want to do what is good, but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don't want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God's law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
). Our sin will not cause us to loose salvation (we are justified by his blood - Romans 5:9Romans 5:9 (NLT'04)
And since we have been made right in God's sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God's condemnation.
), but unbelief will. In regards to Jesus' warning in Matthew 7, I ask, was their belief in Jesus, whom they called "Lord," or in the fact that they were doing miracles and prophesying? Some say that if you are a true Christian you WILL do miracles - even greater miracles than Jesus (misinterpreting John 14:12-14John 14:12-14 (NLT'15)
"I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!
), but the scripture says faith in Jesus to forgive sins is what makes a true Christian. Our works in Christ do not cause our salvation, though good works should be evidence of it, and as seen in James 2:14-20James 2:14-20 (NLT'04)
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don't show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, "Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well"—but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn't enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, "Some people have faith; others have good deeds." But I say, "How can you show me your faith if you don't have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds." You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can't you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
, that evidence may be in providing food and clothing.

Romans 11:22Romans 11:22 (NLT'04)
Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off.
God is good/kind to us if we continue in his goodness/kindness. While nothing can take us out of his hand (John 10:29John 10:29 (NLT'04)
for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father's hand.
). From Romans 11:22Romans 11:22 (NLT'04)
Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off.
, it appears we can leave his hand by not continuing in his goodness/kindness. This may be merely an appearance of leaving (appearance as to whether or not those who leave were really Christians in the first place). We may not know who was truly a Christian until the very end (remember the tares, Matthew 13:24-30Matthew 13:24-30 (NLT'04)
Here is another story Jesus told: "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. "The farmer's workers went to him and said, 'Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?' "'An enemy has done this!' the farmer exclaimed. "'Should we pull out the weeds?' they asked. "'No,' he replied, 'you'll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.'"
). Those who jump out (or do not continue in his goodness) may have been tares all along (see the previous paragraph). Regardless, this verse stands firmly against a doctrine of "once saved by repeating the words of a prayer yet never living a Christian life, always saved." Such teaching is not found in the Bible unless single verses are taken out of context. Such teaching spreads a demonic and false assurance to those who should be afraid, to those who still need true salvation. Christianity is about believing and continuing in belief, not a one time moment of belief followed by a lifetime of no longer believing. The need to continue in belief is stressed throughout scripture. A few New Testament examples include:

  • Luke 8:13Luke 8:13 (NLT'04)
    The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don't have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation.
    - From the parable of the seed, some of those who initially believe fall away when faced with temptations;
  • John 8:31John 8:31 (NLT'04)
    Jesus said to the people who believed in him, "You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.
    - We are his disciples if we remain faithful/continue in his word;
  • Romans 2:7Romans 2:7 (NLT'04)
    He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers.
    - Eternal life comes to those who persevere in seeking what God offers;
  • 1 Corinthians 15:1-21 Corinthians 15:1-2 (NLT'04, CSB)
    NLT'04: Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.

    CSB: Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand and by which you are being saved, if you hold to the message I preached to you - unless you believed in vain.
    - Hold to the message preached, otherwise, the belief will have been in vain;
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:1-51 Thessalonians 3:1-5 (NLT'04)
    Finally, when we could stand it no longer, we decided to stay alone in Athens, and we sent Timothy to visit you. He is our brother and God's co-worker in proclaiming the Good News of Christ. We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles. Even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would soon come—and they did, as you well know. That is why, when I could bear it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out whether your faith was still strong. I was afraid that the tempter had gotten the best of you and that our work had been useless.
    - The tempter will try to tempt us with troubles to draw us away, making the work of those who brought salvation useless/for nothing;
  • Hebrews 3:6Hebrews 3:6 (NLT'04)
    But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God's entire house. And we are God's house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.
    - We are God's house IF WE KEEP our courage/hold firmly to our confidence (and many manuscripts add "until the end");
  • Hebrews 3:14Hebrews 3:14 (NLT'04)
    For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.
    - We must trust God until the end just as firmly as when we first believed;
  • Hebrews 10:35-39Hebrews 10:35-39 (NLT'04)
    So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. "For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away." But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.
    - We need patient endurance, because if we turn away, it will be to our own destruction

Romans 11:23-24Romans 11:23-24 (NLT'04)
And if the people of Israel turn from their unbelief, they will be grafted in again, for God has the power to graft them back into the tree. You, by nature, were a branch cut from a wild olive tree. So if God was willing to do something contrary to nature by grafting you into his cultivated tree, he will be far more eager to graft the original branches back into the tree where they belong.
Unbelief does not necessitate an eternal reprobation/damnation... if while in this life we again believe (just as if we initially believe), then we can be grafted in. God is always able to turn an unbelieving person around (if the person who has moved to unbelief proves willing). Paul here is speaking specifically, nationally, of Israel, but I see no reason the principals discussed can't apply universally and individually. The pronoun "you" at the beginning of verse 24Romans 11:24 (NLT'04)
You, by nature, were a branch cut from a wild olive tree. So if God was willing to do something contrary to nature by grafting you into his cultivated tree, he will be far more eager to graft the original branches back into the tree where they belong.
is a singular pronoun. Paul may be referencing, singularly, the Gentiles in Rome, but each reader can also read, singularly, him or herself in the "you." In fact, all instances of "you" in verses 20-24Romans 11:20-24 (NLT'04)
Yes, but remember—those branches were broken off because they didn't believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don't think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. For if God did not spare the original branches, he won't spare you either. Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off. And if the people of Israel turn from their unbelief, they will be grafted in again, for God has the power to graft them back into the tree. You, by nature, were a branch cut from a wild olive tree. So if God was willing to do something contrary to nature by grafting you into his cultivated tree, he will be far more eager to graft the original branches back into the tree where they belong.
are singular. Paul is contrasting Israel (plural "they") with the reader reading in Rome (singular "you"). Note: "You" will again become a plural with verse 25.

Romans 11:23Romans 11:23 (NLT'04)
And if the people of Israel turn from their unbelief, they will be grafted in again, for God has the power to graft them back into the tree.
Note the contrast. If Israel does not continue in unbelief, they will be grafted in, but in the previous verse, we saw that if Gentiles do not continue in belief, they can be cut off. It is fair to say that if Israel can be cut off and brought in again, we too can always return to our first love (Consider the severe warning to the Church in Ephesus of having their lampstand removed from the churches in Revelation 2:1-7Revelation 2:1-7 (NLT'04)
"Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands: "I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don't tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. "But I have this complaint against you. You don't love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don't repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches. But this is in your favor: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do. "Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.
).

Romans 11:24Romans 11:24 (NLT'15)
You, by nature, were a branch cut from a wild olive tree. So if God was willing to do something contrary to nature by grafting you into his cultivated tree, he will be far more eager to graft the original branches back into the tree where they belong.
Being cut off due to unbelief does not negate the Jew's belonging to the people of God's choosing. They remain "the natural/original branches."

Romans 11:25Romans 11:25 (NLT'15)
I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters, so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ.
Paul reminds us that we must realize the truth of what has happened in the partial hardening of the Jews and bringing of salvation to the Gentiles, so that we don't become proud/high minded of ourselves. When Paul writes of a mystery, he is not writing of something hidden, but of something that was (past tense) veiled in the Old Testament that has now been brought to light. 1 Timothy 3:161 Timothy 3:16 (NLT'15)
Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith : Christ was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations. He was believed in throughout the world and taken to heaven in glory.
and Ephesians 3:3-7Ephesians 3:3-7 (NLT'15)
As I briefly wrote earlier, God himself revealed his mysterious plan to me. As you read what I have written, you will understand my insight into this plan regarding Christ. God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now by his Spirit he has revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets. And this is God's plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God's children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus. By God's grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.
.

Romans 11:25-26Romans 11:25-26 (NLT'15)
I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters, so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ. And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, "The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness.
Interpretation Options:

  1. God, who is all knowing over all time, knows the full number of both Jews and Gentiles who will ultimately come to accept Jesus as their savior. While keeping a constant remnant of Jews, God is currently focusing on bringing in Gentiles, and when their full numbers have come, he will complete the number of Jews who are to be saved. "All Israel" here would be all of Israel (Jewish people) who are foreknown to be marked for salvation. The idea seems to be that a partial hardening will be in place until the Gentiles come in, and then after that, the hardening will be removed so that additional Jews can come in. Consider Zechariah 12:10Zechariah 12:10 (NLT'15)
    "Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died.
    (with consideration of at least Zechariah 12 and 13 for immediate context) as well as Jeremiah 31:33-34Jeremiah 31:33-34 (NLT'15)
    "But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days," says the Lord. "I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, 'You should know the Lord.' For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already," says the Lord. "And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins."
    /Hebrews 8:8-12Hebrews 8:8-12 (NLT'15)
    But when God found fault with the people, he said: "The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt. They did not remain faithful to my covenant, so I turned my back on them, says the Lord. But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, 'You should know the Lord.' For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already. And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins."
    . This is a possible interpretation, but it seems to fall short of the fullness of God's work, especially in terms of the branches just discussed, so if viewed, it should be viewed in cohort with Option 3, below.

  2. OR, it could be that all the living Jews in the final generation will be saved. This is not the likely interpretation as it doesn't mesh well with the totality of scripture (narrow road - few who find it, etc.); note the commentary regarding "all," below. It also doesn't mesh with what Paul has already said in Romans 9:27-28Romans 9:27-28 (NLT'15)
    And concerning Israel, Isaiah the prophet cried out, "Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth quickly and with finality."
    or Romans 10:21Romans 10:21 (NLT'15)
    But regarding Israel, God said, "All day long I opened my arms to them, but they were disobedient and rebellious."
    (the Isaiah 65:2Isaiah 65:2 (NLT'15)
    All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people. But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes.
    verse quoted, in context, does not seem to imply that this will suddenly end at one point and everyone will turn and be saved. In fact, Paul's point all along has been to explain why only a select portion of the Jews have been accepting of Christ).

  3. OR, considering Paul has just written about the Olive Tree, Israel could refer to the church as a whole (the natural branch Jews and wild branch Gentiles who have been grafted in), and thus, all of those who are to be Christians will be saved. In this interpretation, Israel is the fullness of the "Israel within Israel" now comprised of ethnic Jews and Gentiles. Paul, in this section of Scripture, has previously used the term "Israel" to refer to both the elect of Israel and separately, to ethnic Israel in the same sentence (Romans 9:6Romans 9:6 (NLT'15, CSB)
    NLT'15: Well then, has God failed to fulfill his promise to Israel? No, for not all who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God's people!
    CSB: Now it is not as though the word of God has failed, because not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.
    - not all Jews are "Israel") Per the NET Bible Translation note for Romans 9:6Romans 9:6 (NET)
    It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all those who are descended from Israel are truly Israel,
    , the Greek of this text is “For not all those who are from Israel are Israel.” Paul has made similar comment in Romans 2:28-29Romans 2:28-29 (NLT'15)
    For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.
    . Paul has spoken of Israel as his kinfolk in this chapter, but with the preceding discussion of the branches of the Olive Tree, Paul seems to move to a greater definition of Israel from merely his kinfolk to fellow Christians, whether from the natural or wild branches (with the idea: "God has partially hardened ethnic Israel so that the fullness of True Israel, which also includes Gentiles, can be brought to salvation"). Consider Galatians 3:28-29Galatians 3:28-29 (NLT'15)
    There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God's promise to Abraham belongs to you.
    and Galatians 6:15-16Galatians 6:15-16 (NLT'15)
    It doesn't matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God's peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.
    (And the NET Bible Note at Galatians 6:16Galatians 6:16 (NET)
    And all who will behave in accordance with this rule, peace and mercy be on them, and on the Israel of GodTN.
     
    Translation Note: The word “and” (καί) can be interpreted in two ways: (1) It could be rendered as “also” which would indicate that two distinct groups are in view, namely “all who will behave in accordance with this rule” and “the Israel of God.” Or (2) it could be rendered “even,” which would indicate that “all who behave in accordance with this rule” are “the Israel of God.” In other words, in this latter view, “even” = “that is.”
    ). Also consider Romans 4:16Romans 4:16 (NLT'15)
    So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham's. For Abraham is the father of all who believe.
    , Ephesians 2:11-21Ephesians 2:11-21 (NLT'15)
    Don't forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called "uncircumcised heathens" by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God's holy people. You are members of God's family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.
    , and 1 Peter 2:9-101 Peter 2:9-10 (NLT'15)
    But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God's very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. "Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God's people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God's mercy."
    . Following the discussion of the olive tree, this third option seems best. This option also shows what the Gentiles have come into - the True Israel! Note: The Gentile Christians have not REPLACED Israel, as some antisemitic "Christians" postulate.

Romans 11:26Romans 11:26 (NLT'15)
And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, "The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness.
IF Paul is talking about “all Israel” in reference to only the Jewish people (Option 1, above), then he is probably using "all" in the sense of the full complement of Israelites, in the same manner he says "the full number of the Gentiles" in the previous verse, rather than using "all" to say that every single person of Jewish descent is to be saved.

The NET translation note reads:

It is not clear whether the phrase καὶ οὕτως (kai houtōs, “and so”) is to be understood in a modal sense (“and in this way”) or in a temporal sense (“and in the end”). Neither interpretation is conclusive from a grammatical standpoint, and in fact the two may not be mutually exclusive. Some, like H. Hübner, who argue strongly against the temporal reading, nevertheless continue to give the phrase a temporal significance, saying that God will save all Israel in the end (Gottes Ich und Israel [FRLANT], 118).

From the NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible:

“All Israel” need not mean every single Israelite. The OT uses this expression for a significant or representative number of Israelites (e.g., Joshua 7:25Joshua 7:25 (NLT'15)
Then Joshua said to Achan, "Why have you brought trouble on us? The Lord will now bring trouble on you." And all the Israelites stoned Achan and his family and burned their bodies.
; 2 Samuel 16:222 Samuel 16:22 (NLT'15)
So they set up a tent on the palace roof where everyone could see it, and Absalom went in and had sex with his father's concubines.
; Daniel 9:11Daniel 9:11 (NLT'15)
All Israel has disobeyed your instruction and turned away, refusing to listen to your voice. "So now the solemn curses and judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured down on us because of our sin.
; cf. also Mishnah Sanhedrin 10:1). There are three main ways to explain this promise about one of the important results of God’s providential work in history: (1) God saves all his elect people, both Jews and Gentiles, as they respond in faith to God’s grace throughout history. “Israel” would then refer to the church (see Galatians 6:16Galatians 6:16 (NLT'15, NIV)
NLT: May God's peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.
NIV: Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule — to the Israel of God*

* the Israel of God. On the interpretation that lies behind the NIV text, Paul identifies such people as God’s (spiritual) Israel (cf. Phil 3:3). On the interpretation that lies behind the NIV text note, Paul extends the blessing to include ethnic Israel, which, though unbelieving now, is destined for God’s salvation (Rom 11:25–26).

Philippians 3:3 (NIV) "For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh — "
and note for this possibility). (2) God saves all elect Jews as they respond in faith to God’s grace throughout history. (3) God will save a significant number of Jews at the end of history. Whichever of these Paul has in mind, the salvation will be—as it always is since the coming of Christ into the world—through faith in Christ (Romans 10:9-13Romans 10:9-13 (NLT'15)
If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced." Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
).

Additionally, consider the following verses where the same Greek word for "all" (Strong's G3956, pas) most likely implies "a large number of" or "many": Matthew 2:3Matthew 2:3 (NLT'15)
King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem.
; Matthew 3:5Matthew 3:5 (NLT'15)
People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John.
; Matthew 21:10Matthew 21:10 (NLT'15)
The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. "Who is this?" they asked.
; Mark 1:5Mark 1:5 (NLT'15)
All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.
; Mark 11:18Mark 11:18 (NLT'15)
When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him. But they were afraid of him because the people were so amazed at his teaching.
; Luke 21:38Luke 21:38 (NLT'15)
The crowds gathered at the Temple early each morning to hear him.
; Luke 24:19Luke 24:19 (NLT'15)
"What things?" Jesus asked. "The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth," they said. "He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people.
; John 8:2John 8:2 (NLT'15)
but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them.
; Acts 3:11Acts 3:11 (NLT'15)
They all rushed out in amazement to Solomon's Colonnade, where the man was holding tightly to Peter and John.
; Acts 5:34Acts 5:34 (NLT'15)
But one member, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was an expert in religious law and respected by all the people, stood up and ordered that the men be sent outside the council chamber for a while.
; Acts 19:27Acts 19:27 (NLT'15)
Of course, I'm not just talking about the loss of public respect for our business. I'm also concerned that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will lose its influence and that Artemis - this magnificent goddess worshiped throughout the province of Asia and all around the world - will be robbed of her great prestige!"
; Acts 21:27Acts 21:27 (NLT'15)
The seven days were almost ended when some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul in the Temple and roused a mob against him. They grabbed him,
; etc.

Of course, if we consider "all" in verse 26aRomans 11:26a (NLT'15)
And so all Israel will be saved.
to mean "all the elect from both Jew and Gentile" then the above examples regarding the use of pas is moot to the present interpretation of this section of scripture (Option 3, above).

Romans 11:26-27Romans 11:26-27 (NLT'15)
And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, "The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness. And this is my covenant with them, that I will take away their sins."

In Ephesians 3:3-6Ephesians 3:3-6 (NLT'15)
As I briefly wrote earlier, God himself revealed his mysterious plan to me. As you read what I have written, you will understand my insight into this plan regarding Christ. God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now by his Spirit he has revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets. And this is God's plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God's children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.
Paul showed Gentile acceptance as fellow heirs and members of the same body was itself a mystery not revealed until his generation. Here, Paul expands on this revelation.

In verse 25Romans 11:25 (NLT'15)
I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters, so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ.
, Paul says he does not want us to be ignorant of the mystery; a partial hardening has come upon the Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in, and via this, all Israel will be saved. Paul then uses scripture to support his point. It is reasonable to assume that Paul's scriptural support is meant to cover both what he has said about the Gentiles in verse 25Romans 11:25 (NLT'15)
I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters, so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ.
and Israel in verse 26Romans 11:26 (NLT'15)
And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, "The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness.
(It is less reasonable to assume Paul is only using scripture to support his point regarding "all Israel will be saved" while ignoring what he has said about the fullness of the Gentiles).

Paul quotes, with a slight alteration, from the LXX of Isaiah 59:20-21Isaiah 59:20-21 (NLT'15)
"The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem to buy back those in Israel who have turned from their sins," says the Lord. "And this is my covenant with them," says the Lord. "My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children's children forever. I, the Lord, have spoken!
and Isaiah 27:9Isaiah 27:9 (NLT'15)
The Lord did this to purge Israel's wickedness, to take away all her sin. As a result, all the pagan altars will be crushed to dust. No Asherah pole or pagan shrine will be left standing.
. Whereas the LXX of Isaiah 59:20-21Isaiah 59:20-21 (NLT'15)
"The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem to buy back those in Israel who have turned from their sins," says the Lord. "And this is my covenant with them," says the Lord. "My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children's children forever. I, the Lord, have spoken!
reads "And the deliverer will come for Sion’s sake, and will turn away ungodliness from Jacob...," and the original Hebrew says "the Redeemer will come to Zion," Paul has stated "The Redeemer will come out of Zion." Whereas the original and the LXX would limit the Isaiah prophecy to Jewish recipients (to Zion/for Sion's sake), Paul's change opens it up to a wider recipientcy and thus supports his points from the previous verses.

Aside from Divine inspiration, it is uncertain where Paul obtained his "out of Zion" application of Isaiah 59, though it is possible he was considering Psalms 14:7Psalms 14:7 (NLT'15)
Who will come from Mount Zion to rescue Israel? When the Lord restores his people, Jacob will shout with joy, and Israel will rejoice.
. Regardless, God's covenant with Israel is not invalidated, but is instead opened up to all the nations, so that it can be fulfilled for all of True Israel. This will allow Paul to speak of God's mercy to everyone in Romans 11:32Romans 11:32 (NLT'15)
For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone.
.

For an excellent exegesis on the topic of who is the "all Israel" from verse 26Romans 11:26 (NLT'15)
And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, "The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness.
, see Peter Pett's commentary on Romans 11 and his excursus therein.

Note my conclusion regarding "All Israel" in verse 26Romans 11:26 (NLT'15)
And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, "The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness.
possibly referring to both believing Jews and Gentiles disagrees with a number of modern study bibles which do not give discussion to the various possible interpretations of this section of scripture. While their singular interpretations vary, these include the CSB Study Bible, the John MacArthur Study Bible, the New King James Study Bible, The Full Life Study Bible, the New Spirit Filled Life Bible and The Henry Morris Study Bible. The Lutheran study Bible supports my thesis while others discuss the various possibilities I have postulated above. Some of these others include the ESV Study Bible; The NIV Study Bible, 1984; the NIV Theological Study Bible; the NLT Illustrated Study Bible; and the Reformation Study Bible. This is a good reminder not to rely on a single source to discern what may be the best interpretation of a section of scripture. Of course, only glean from sources that would hold to the foundational tenants of scripture. None of the discussed interpretations regarding this section of scripture would constitute a first tier deviation from accepted doctrine, nor would any of the various interpretations be heretical to the fundamental doctrines of grace; I would recommend to one's library any of the study Bibles mentioned above.

Additional thoughts regarding these verses: Many proponents of the "Paul is only talking about ethnic Israel" view support their view by stating that in chapters 9-11 Paul is specifically speaking to why his kinfolk have not accepted Christ in large numbers. As he has been doing throughout Romans, Paul stresses that salvation is by faith alone. Paul has shown that not everyone who is a descent of Abraham is part of the True Israel. Paul has shown that it was prophesied that "only a remnant shall be saved." But Paul has expanded upon the idea. It is not merely that only a subset of ethnic Israel will be saved, but God's plan all along has been to see salvation come to the Gentiles as well. In fact, in God's wisdom, he has used Israel's stubbornness to bring his plan to pass! In explaining that it has always been God's truth that not all of Israel is the True Israel, Paul goes on to fully show who True Israel is - both believing Jews AND Gentiles! With this progression of thought, and with the obvious grafting in of Gentiles to the olive tree in the immediately preceding verses, it is only reasonable (in my opinion) to see that while "all Israel" in verse 26Romans 11:26 (NLT'15)
And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, "The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness.
may refer in part to ethnic Jews who will be saved at the end of this age, it must foremost refer to the method by which God brings salvation to all of True Israel - by the redeemer who comes FROM Zion! It is this redeemer who is the stumbling block to Paul's kinfolk, but who is also the power of God for salvation to all who believe, whether Jew or Greek, to fully reveal the True Israel of God.

Romans 11:27Romans 11:27 (NLT'15)
And this is my covenant with them, that I will take away their sins."
If verse 26Romans 11:26 (NLT'15)
And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, "The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness.
is referencing only ethnic Jews, the prophecy of verses 26-27Romans 11:26-27 (NLT'15)
And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, "The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness. And this is my covenant with them, that I will take away their sins."
still seems to be future. Israel will be turned away from ungodliness and their sins will be taken away. If verse 26Romans 11:26 (NLT'15)
And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, "The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness.
is referring to the elect Jews, then this prophecy has been being fulfilled since the time of Christ.

If verse 26Romans 11:26 (NLT'15)
And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, "The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness.
refers to both ethnic Jews and Gentiles, then the prophecy for both has been being fulfilled since the time of Christ - with the Gospel opened to the Gentiles and the elect Jews (but the remainder of the Jews are hardened, and in a similar way, we know that many Gentiles also do not believe). In this way, all (True) Israel will be saved - by being turned away from ungodliness and having their sins taken away (which Paul has preveiously stated comes only by faith, not works).

In support of the idea that both Option 1, above, and Option 3, above may be applicable to this text, it is noted that the full context of Isaiah 27 may well support an end-time return for ethnic Israel. It is thought Paul is referencing Isaiah 27:9Isaiah 27:9 (NLT'15)
The Lord did this to purge Israel's wickedness, to take away all her sin. As a result, all the pagan altars will be crushed to dust. No Asherah pole or pagan shrine will be left standing.
for the line "take away their sins" in Romans 11:27Romans 11:27 (NLT'15)
And this is my covenant with them, that I will take away their sins."
. As stated in the NCINT:

Isaiah 27 notes that the judgment God has brought on Israel (in the Exile) is different from the judgment God brings on other nations: for Israel’s judgment, it is implied, will be both temporary and sanitive (Isaiah 27:7-8Isaiah 27:7-8 (NLT'15)
Has the Lord struck Israel as he struck her enemies? Has he punished her as he punished them? No, but he exiled Israel to call her to account. She was exiled from her land as though blown away in a storm from the east.
). The prophet therefore foresees “days to come” when “Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots, and fill the whole world with fruit” (Isaiah 27:6Isaiah 27:6 (NLT'15)
The time is coming when Jacob's descendants will take root. Israel will bud and blossom and fill the whole earth with fruit!
); when God will regather his people and the exiles will return to “worship the Lord on the holy mountain at Jerusalem” (Isaiah 27:12-13Isaiah 27:12-13 (NLT'15)
Yet the time will come when the Lord will gather them together like handpicked grain. One by one he will gather them - from the Euphrates River in the east to the Brook of Egypt in the west. In that day the great trumpet will sound. Many who were dying in exile in Assyria and Egypt will return to Jerusalem to worship the Lord on his holy mountain.
). The parallel between this scenario and Paul’s teaching in Romans 11:11–32 that the hardening of Israel is temporary and intended to lead to her ultimate deliverance cannot be missed. Moreover, by focusing on “the forgiveness of sins” as integral to the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Israel, Paul ties this final deliverance to the cross, where the price for these sins has been paid (cf. Romans 3:21-26Romans 3:21-26 (NLT'15)
But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.
). With this quotation, then, Paul not only suggests when Israel’s deliverance will take place; he also makes clear how it will take place: by Israel’s acceptance of the gospel message about the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ.

Including believing Gentiles in with the elect of Israel does not negate the prophecy given to Israel; it merely expands it to a greater fullness. God will not abandon Israel as a people/nation (Consider the impossibility of that with Jeremiah 31:35-37Jeremiah 31:35-37 (NLT'15)
It is the Lord who provides the sun to light the day and the moon and stars to light the night, and who stirs the sea into roaring waves. His name is the Lord of Heaven's Armies, and this is what he says: "I am as likely to reject my people Israel as I am to abolish the laws of nature!" This is what the Lord says: "Just as the heavens cannot be measured and the foundations of the earth cannot be explored, so I will not consider casting them away for the evil they have done. I, the Lord, have spoken!
and Jeremiah 33:19-26Jeremiah 33:19-26 (NLT'15)
Then this message came to Jeremiah from the Lord: "This is what the Lord says: If you can break my covenant with the day and the night so that one does not follow the other, only then will my covenant with my servant David be broken. Only then will he no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. The same is true for my covenant with the Levitical priests who minister before me. And as the stars of the sky cannot be counted and the sand on the seashore cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of my servant David and the Levites who minister before me." The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, "Have you noticed what people are saying? - 'The Lord chose Judah and Israel and then abandoned them!' They are sneering and saying that Israel is not worthy to be counted as a nation. But this is what the Lord says: I would no more reject my people than I would change my laws that govern night and day, earth and sky. I will never abandon the descendants of Jacob or David, my servant, or change the plan that David's descendants will rule the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Instead, I will restore them to their land and have mercy on them."
.). This does not mean that God can't bring in others to share in his goodness given to the elect of Israel - the true Israel who are not merely the descendants of the man Jacob/Israel.

Romans 11:28-29Romans 11:28-29 (NLT'15)
Many of the people of Israel are now enemies of the Good News, and this benefits you Gentiles. Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For God's gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.
1 Thessalonians 2:14-161 Thessalonians 2:14-16 (NLT'15)
And then, dear brothers and sisters, you suffered persecution from your own countrymen. In this way, you imitated the believers in God's churches in Judea who, because of their belief in Christ Jesus, suffered from their own people, the Jews. For some of the Jews killed the prophets, and some even killed the Lord Jesus. Now they have persecuted us, too. They fail to please God and work against all humanity as they try to keep us from preaching the Good News of salvation to the Gentiles. By doing this, they continue to pile up their sins. But the anger of God has caught up with them at last.
shows how the Jews have been enemies of the Gospel. Paul had formerly been such an enemy. It is because they have rejected the Gospel that the Good News has moved on to the Gentiles, so this benefits us. This does not negate that the Jews are God's special people (the people through whom he moved salvation forward and into the world through Christ). The Jews are even the people whom God used by their rebellion to expand salvation to the Gentiles. None of this means that promises to the nation cannot still come to pass.

Romans 11:29Romans 11:29 (NLT'15)
For God's gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.
Recall Romans 9:6Romans 9:6 (NLT'15)
Well then, has God failed to fulfill his promise to Israel? No, for not all who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God's people!
. Consider Malachi 3:6Malachi 3:6 (NLT'15)
"I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.
.

Romans 11:30-32Romans 11:30-32 (NLT'15)
Once, you Gentiles were rebels against God, but when the people of Israel rebelled against him, God was merciful to you instead. Now they are the rebels, and God's mercy has come to you so that they, too, will share in God's mercy. For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone.
In anticipation of the Messiah, Israel had received mercy from God (despite her disobedience); at that time, the Gentiles were by nature disobedient as well (they had not honored God who is made evident in nature). When the Messiah came, and the Jews refused him, rebelling against God, God's mercy moved to the Gentiles. As Paul has previously said, he hopes that Israel will become Jealous of what the Gentiles have found and will claim it for themselves (Romans 11:11Romans 11:11 (NLT'15)
Did God's people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient, so God made salvation available to the Gentiles. But he wanted his own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves.
). In this way, they too will then share in God's mercy.

Romans 11:32Romans 11:32 (NLT'15)
For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone.
only works for universalism if isolated from the rest of Romans. Everyone imprisoned in sin would be "both Jews and Gentiles" so that both Jews and Gentiles would qualify for God's mercy (via salvation by Christ). Just as not all Gentiles now receive God's mercy (in fact, few find the narrow road), there is nothing in this portion of scripture to suggest that Israel's receipt of mercy would be any different (the way will still be by the narrow road). The point seems to be that God wants to make mercy available to everyone, and mercy is only mercy if it is the mercy given is undeserved, thus, being disobedient by nature is a prerequisite for mercy, and whether Jew or Gentile, we are disobedient by nature. See Galatians 3:22Galatians 3:22 (NLT'15)
But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God's promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.
.

Romans 11:33Romans 11:33 (NLT'15)
Oh, how great are God's riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!
The word for "riches" in this verse (Strong's G4149) is the same word used in Romans 11:12Romans 11:12 (NLT'15)
Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God's offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it.
where riches are described as the salvation offered to the world because of the Jew's rejection of the Messiah (see also Colossians 1:27Colossians 1:27 (NLT'15)
For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.
). We should be careful not to equate with God's riches mere material goodies. The world's riches/wealth are deceitful and draw us away from God (See Matthew 13:22/Mark 4:18-19/Luke 8:14Matthew 13:22/Mark 4:18-19/Luke 8:14 (NLT'15)
Matthew 13:22 The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God's word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.
Mark 4:18-19 The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God's word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced.
Luke 8:14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.
where the same word is used). This world's riches are uncertain (1 Timothy 6:171 Timothy 6:17 (NLT'15)
Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.
). Abuse suffered for Christ is greater riches than the treasures of Egypt (Hebrews 11:26Hebrews 11:26 (NLT'15)
He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.
). We must ask, "Towards what riches have I turned my affections?

Romans 11:33-36Romans 11:33-36 (NLT'15)
Oh, how great are God's riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord's thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.
The conclusion of the section that is Romans, chapters 9-11 ends with a doxology of praise to God for his great wisdom in his salvation plan. His ways are above ours, and we can not fully understand them. We can offer God no wisdom or anything else. All is from him, and all exists by him and for his glory.

We have no wisdom to offer God: Job 41:1-11Job 41:1-11 (NLT'15)
"Can you catch Leviathan with a hook or put a noose around its jaw? Can you tie it with a rope through the nose or pierce its jaw with a spike? Will it beg you for mercy or implore you for pity? Will it agree to work for you, to be your slave for life? Can you make it a pet like a bird, or give it to your little girls to play with? Will merchants try to buy it to sell it in their shops? Will its hide be hurt by spears or its head by a harpoon? If you lay a hand on it, you will certainly remember the battle that follows. You won't try that again! No, it is useless to try to capture it. The hunter who attempts it will be knocked down. And since no one dares to disturb it, who then can stand up to me? Who has given me anything that I need to pay back? Everything under heaven is mine.
; Isaiah 40:12-17Isaiah 40:12-17 (NLT'15)
Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale? Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him? Has the Lord ever needed anyone's advice? Does he need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach him what is right or show him the path of justice? No, for all the nations of the world are but a drop in the bucket. They are nothing more than dust on the scales. He picks up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand. All the wood in Lebanon's forests and all Lebanon's animals would not be enough to make a burnt offering worthy of our God. The nations of the world are worth nothing to him. In his eyes they count for less than nothing - mere emptiness and froth.
; Jeremiah 23:18Jeremiah 23:18 (NLT'15)
"Have any of these prophets been in the Lord's presence to hear what he is really saying? Has even one of them cared enough to listen?
;

Everything God does is from himself alone and is for his own purposes and to his own Glory: Proverbs 16:4Proverbs 16:4 (NLT'15)
The Lord has made everything for his own purposes, even the wicked for a day of disaster.
; 1 Corinthians 4:71 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT'15)
For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God hasn't given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?
; Ephesians 2:4, 3:9-12Ephesians 2:4, 3:9-12 (NLT'15)
2:4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,
3:9-12 I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning. God's purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God's presence.
; James 1:17James 1:17 (NLT'15)
Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
.
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Romans 12

Romans 12:1Romans 12:1 (NASB'20)
Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
The "Therefore" at the beginning of this section ties the upcoming instructions for Godly living to what Paul has said earlier in the letter. It is because of God's severity and kindness; because of his immeasurable wisdom and grace; because it is by faith that we stand, all otherwise deserving of condemnation, no matter who we are, that we are to attend to the upcoming instructions. In other words, having said everything leading up to this point, Paul is going to show us "the sum of the matter." Because of Chapters 1-11, we now have Chapters 12-16. We are moving from the doctrine of our salvation to the application of it.

And the first instruction is that we present our bodies as a sacrifice - but not a dead one. A living sacrifice, pleasing to God, which is our reasonable service. God sent Jesus, who was God, to die for us; the least we can do is present ourselves for service and live for him.

The NET translation and "dad joke" study note of verse 1 reads:

Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice—alive, holy, and pleasing to God —which is your reasonable service.

Study Note: Taken as predicate adjectives, the terms alive, holy, and pleasing are showing how unusual is the sacrifice that believers can now offer, for OT sacrifices were dead. As has often been quipped about this text, “The problem with living sacrifices is that they keep crawling off the altar.”

Paul knows this is a tough request, contrary to our nature. In the various translations, Paul appeals, exhorts, urges, beseeches, and pleads with his readers to make this offering of themselves.

Note 1 Thessalonians 4:1-81 Thessalonians 4:1-8 (NASB'20)
Finally then, brothers and sisters, we request and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received instruction from us as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel even more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no one violate the rights and take advantage of his brother or sister in the matter, because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you previously and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in sanctification. Therefore, the one who rejects this is not rejecting man, but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.
regarding sexual sin and controlling our own bodies.

Romans 12:2Romans 12:2 (NASB'20)
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Offering ourselves as a living sacrifice entails first and foremost, not being conformed to this world (the Greek is "to this age" - Strong's G165). This is to some extent, subjective, but it is a fundamental command that many seem to have forgotten in today's churches, which desire to look exactly like the word in an attempt to be "seeker sensitive." To this idea, recall that Paul has already noted that whether Jew or Greek, "no one seeks God" (See Romans 3:9-18Romans 3:9-18 (NASB'20)
What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written: “THERE IS NO RIGHTEOUS PERSON, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NO ONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NO ONE WHO SEEKS OUT GOD; THEY HAVE ALL TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME CORRUPT; THERE IS NO ONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” “THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,” “THE VENOM OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”; “THEIR MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”; “THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD, DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS, AND THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN THE WAY OF PEACE.” “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”
).

But not being conformed to this world doesn't simply mean avoiding all worldly things and thus being a blank slate that refuses to have any beliefs or personality. We are instead to be transformed, by the renewing of our minds - for the purpose of proving/discovering/discerning the will of God (which is well-pleasing/acceptable/perfect).

It's not merely that we must not be like the world, but that our minds, which by their nature are worldly, need to be transformed and renewed so that they match and reflect what God has done for us spiritually. Time in the word will wash us (See Ephesians 5:25-27Ephesians 5:25-27 (NASB'20)
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
).

The word translated "transformed" is Strong's G3339, metamorphoō, which as defined by Thayer means "to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure." Like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, we are to become something completely different.

Romans 12:3Romans 12:3 (NASB'20)
For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
The NLT adds "authority" to the grace/privilege given to Paul, seemingly to justify Paul's authority to give these ordinances; however, the word "authority" is not in the original text.

The world misuses the body through all kinds of lusts and desires, but we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices (Verse 1Romans 12:1 (NASB'20)
Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
). Fallen creatures have a corrupt mind which needs renewed (Verse 2Romans 12:2 (NASB'20)
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
). Even though Paul's flesh (sarx - Strong's G4561) was contrary to God, he "beat it into submission" (1 Corinthians 9:271 Corinthians 9:27 (NASB'20)
but I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
) and served God with his mind by renewing it to God's ways. Recall Paul's flesh/mind battle in Romans 7:14-25Romans 7:14-25 (NASB'20)
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, sold into bondage to sin. For I do not understand what I am doing; for I am not practicing what I want to do, but I do the very thing I hate. However, if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, that the Law is good. But now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I do the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully agree with the law of God in the inner person, but I see a different law in the parts of my body waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin, the law which is in my body’s parts. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
. Now we see that even if we do these things, we must not think too highly of ourselves (Verse 3Romans 12:3 (NASB'20)
For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
, Proverbs 16:18Proverbs 16:18 (NASB'20)
Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
). Everything we have is a gift (1 Corinthians 4:71 Corinthians 4:7 (NASB'20)
For who considers you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
, James 1:17James 1:17 (NASB'20)
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
). We must think soberly about who we really are. Even the faith we have is not of our own doing - it was given by God. We must be humble. Consider how Jesus humbled himself (Philippians 2:5-8Philippians 2:5-8 (NASB'20)
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross.
).

Romans 12:4-5Romans 12:4-5 (NASB'20)
For just as we have many parts in one body and all the body’s parts do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually parts of one another.
And why are we not so special that we can think highly of ourselves? Because as Christians, we do not stand on our own, but we are a part of a larger body, and all the parts of the body are needed, and none are more important than another (See 1 Corinthians 12:12-261 Corinthians 12:12-26 (NASB'20)
For just as the body is one and yet has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one part, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has arranged the parts, each one of them in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one part, where would the body be? But now there are many parts, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again, the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those parts of the body which we consider less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor, and our less presentable parts become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable parts have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that part which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same care for one another. And if one part of the body suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if a part is honored, all the parts rejoice with it.
ff). In our distorted view of things, we may think one part of the body is more important than another, but this is not true (Specifically, see 1 Corinthians 12:21-251 Corinthians 12:21-25 (NASB'20)
And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again, the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those parts of the body which we consider less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor, and our less presentable parts become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable parts have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that part which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same care for one another.
)

Romans 12:6-8Romans 12:6-8 (NASB'20)
However, since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to use them properly: if prophecy, in proportion to one’s faith; if service, in the act of serving; or the one who teaches, in the act of teaching; or the one who exhorts, in the work of exhortation; the one who gives, with generosity; the one who is in leadership, with diligence; the one who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Note the gifts are given by grace; while some of the gifts may appear more supernatural (prophecy), others may not be so obviously supernatural (we all know generous non-Christians who make great leaders as they serve people). However, all of these are God-given gifts. Paul is not speaking to the natural propensities of churchgoers. The gifts are distributed by the Spirit of God (see 1 Corinthians 12:111 Corinthians 12:11 (NASB'20)
But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
). As other gifts are listed elsewhere by Paul, we should consider this to be an exemplary list, not a complete list.

Regarding prophecy, we know the gift was to be controlled (only have two or three speak) and others were to pass judgment (See 1 Corinthians 14:291 Corinthians 14:29 (NASB'20)
Have two or three prophets speak, and have the others pass judgment.
). While predicting the future is still an acceptable definition, prophecy can be for the learning and exhortation of others, as well (See 1 Corinthians 14:31 Corinthians 14:3 (NASB'20)
But the one who prophesies speaks to people for edification, exhortation, and consolation.
). On this note, while not sinking into the debate too deeply, it is a thought provoking idea that before the full of the New Testament was written, prophecy, and even spirit-lead teaching, would have been more necessary for the unveiling of the old testament truths which had been hidden until Christ. It is also worth noting that there is nothing in the New Testament negating Old Testament rules regarding prophets or anyone who claims to speak for God. In the OT, if a prophet misspoke or prophesied falsely, he was to be put to death. While I believe prophecy (as a gift, not as an office) is still available today, I find the vast majority of self-proclaimed prophets are mere charlatans who know the Church will ignore all Biblical standards and the required judgment of their so-called prophesies.

I've noted that Charles Hodge (1797-1878) is often quoted here regarding prophets as being “men who spoke under the immediate influence of the Spirit of God, and delivered some divine communication relative to doctrinal truths, to present duty, to future events, as the case may be.” His original commentary is worth a read and gives many verses to support this point (publicly available).

The rest of the gifts are straightforward in their definitions: Service, exhorting, being generous, leadership and showing mercy. If we are gifted with a servant's heart, we should serve others accordingly. If we have the gift of teaching, we should teach [and study to do so] accordingly. It is the same with exhortation (calling, as in calling others to serve Christ, encouraging others in their service, comforting others, stirring up others, etc.). Leaders should serve with diligence (earnestness in accomplishing, promoting, or striving after anything). Those who show mercy should do so with a cheerful heart. (Parenthetical notes taken from Thayer's)

Romans 12:9-13Romans 12:9-13 (NASB'20)
Love must be free of hypocrisy. Detest what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor, not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
Having just spoken about how to use your God-Given gifts, Paul says that Love must be free of hypocrisy. Our use of our gifts should be in love, without hypocrisy. In doing this, we should detest evil and cling to good. Our work as a Christian should be in devotion to each other; seeing others as worthy of more honor than ourselves. We should be diligent in our service; we should be hopeful; we should persevere when times get rough, praying always and working to help others, contributing where needed. Hospitality is defined as "love of/to strangers" (Strong's G5381, per multiple lexicons).

Romans 12:14Romans 12:14 (NASB'20)
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Our good behavior and attitude should extend beyond our brethren to those who persecute us. Consider Matthew 5:43-47Matthew 5:43-47 (NASB'20)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may prove yourselves to be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors, do they not do the same? “And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Even the Gentiles, do they not do the same?
; Luke 6:27-31, 9:51-55Luke 6:27-31, 9:51-55 (NASB'20)
6:27-31 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who are abusive to you. “Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic from him either. “Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. “Treat people the same way you want them to treat you.
9:51-55 When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. And they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them.
; 1 Corinthians 4:121 Corinthians 4:12 (NASB'20)
and we labor, working with our own hands; when we are verbally abused, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;
; 1 Peter 3:8-91 Peter 3:8-9 (NASB'20)
To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, loving, compassionate, and humble; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you would inherit a blessing.
.

Romans 12:15Romans 12:15 (NASB'20)
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
See 1 Corinthians 12:261 Corinthians 12:26 (NASB'20)
And if one part of the body suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if a part is honored, all the parts rejoice with it.
and Hebrews 13:3Hebrews 13:3 (NASB'20)
Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are badly treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.
.

Romans 12:16Romans 12:16 (NASB'20)
Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
See Philippians 2:2-4Philippians 2:2-4 (NASB'20)
make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
. Be not wise in your own eyes. You may be wrong, and any wisdom you do have is from God, not yourself.

Romans 12:17Romans 12:17 (NASB'20)
Never repay evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all people.
Not only should we not curse others (verse 14), but we shouldn't take it on ourselves to exact revenge either (Verse 19Romans 12:19 (NASB'20)
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written: “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.
, below, Proverbs 20:22, 24:29Proverbs 20:22, 24:29 (NASB'20)
20:22 Do not say, “I will repay evil”; Wait for the Lord, and He will save you.
24:29 Do not say, “I shall do the same to him as he has done to me; I will repay the person according to his work.”
). This was even a problem within Christian circles (1Cor 6:5-8). Respect what is right: See Romans 14:19Romans 14:19 (NASB'20)
So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.
, 2 Corinthians 8:212 Corinthians 8:21 (NASB'20)
for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of other people.

Romans 12:18Romans 12:18 (NASB'20)
If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people.
"As much as it depends on you" (Proverbs 3:30Proverbs 3:30 (NASB'20)
Do not contend with a person for no reason, If he has done you no harm.
, Matthew 5:24Matthew 5:24 (NASB'20)
leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
). As stated in the NICNT,

Paul does not want Christians to use the inevitability of tension with the world as an excuse for behavior that needlessly exacerbates that conflict or for a resignation that leads us not even to bother to seek to maintain a positive witness.

Romans 12:19-20Romans 12:19-20 (NASB'20)
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written: “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM; IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.”
Continues the thought from verse 17Romans 12:17 (NASB'20)
Never repay evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all people.
. We need not worry about revenge because God will deal with all of that in the end. His justice will be perfect. While we still can, we should always be seeking mercy, as exampled in the OT quote from Proverbs 25:21-22Proverbs 25:21-22 (NASB'20)
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the Lord will reward you.
. Also see Leviticus 19:18Leviticus 19:18 (NASB'20)
‘You shall not take vengeance, nor hold any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.
, 2 Timothy 4:142 Timothy 4:14 (NASB'20)
Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.
.

Romans 12:21Romans 12:21 (NASB'20)
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
The goal in all this doing good in the face of evil? To overcome the evil with good.
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Romans 13

Romans 13:1-7Romans 13:1-7 (NASB'20)
Every person is to be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a servant of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a servant of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Pay to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; respect to whom respect; honor to whom honor.
In America, we live in a society where complaining about the government and rebelling against leadership in general have almost become official pastimes. We come up with every excuse for this behavior, but the scripture in Romans 13 is clear... we can make no excuses. This point becomes especially real when one considers that when Paul wrote Romans, he was living under the ultimate rule of Nero, who ruled in Rome from AD 54–68 (It is thought that this letter was written in 57). Nero was a despot of such magnitude that we can hardly fathom what life may have been like under his rule. Nero was a known hater and persecutor of Christians. Some reports say that Rome had more slaves than citizens. Paganism was rampant, as was nearly every vice known to man. If we think we have a right to complain about our government, the Christians in Rome had a much greater right.

This does not mean we can not (or even should not) point out immorality in our government, but we must do this while still submitting to that same government, recognizing that the government's very existence is by God's permission. In Titus 3:1-7Titus 3:1-7 (NASB'20)
Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to slander no one, not to be contentious, to be gentle, showing every consideration for all people. For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we did in righteousness, but in accordance with His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He richly poured out upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Paul shows us that in our submission we are not to insult/slander anyone or be argumentative, but rather gentile and courteous. We are not to "protest" in the modern sense. The reason? Because we too were once mislead before God showed us grace.

Peter had similar advice in 1 Peter 2:13-171 Peter 2:13-17 (NASB'20)
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God, that by doing right you silence the ignorance of foolish people. Act as free people, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond-servants of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
(Many think 1Peter was written during the time of persecution of Christians in Rome under Nero, though there is debate about the date of 1Peter).

Rather than complain, we should offer petitions, prayers and intercessions (See 1 Timothy 2:1-41 Timothy 2:1-4 (NASB'20)
First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made in behalf of all people, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
).

Also consider Exodus 22:28Exodus 22:28 (NASB'20)
“You shall not curse God, nor curse a ruler of your people.
; Ecclesiastes 10:20Ecclesiastes 10:20 (NASB'20)
Furthermore, in your bedroom do not curse a king, and in your sleeping rooms do not curse a rich person; for a bird of the sky will bring the sound, and the winged one will make your word known.
; Acts 23:1-5Acts 23:1-5 (NASB'20)
Now looking intently at the Council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life with an entirely good conscience before God up to this day.” But the high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law, order me to be struck?” But those present said, “Are you insulting God’s high priest?” And Paul said, “I was not aware, brothers, that he is high priest; for it is written: ‘YOU SHALL NOT SPEAK EVIL OF A RULER OF YOUR PEOPLE.’”

Romans 13:1Romans 13:1 (NASB'20)
Every person is to be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
Even bad government is established by God. It may be that bad government is a punishment for a people who reject God - a giving over of the people to their own folly, similar to what is seen in Romans 1. Also see Proverbs 28:2Proverbs 28:2 (NASB'20)
Due to a wrongdoing of a land its leaders are many, But by a person of understanding and knowledge, so it endures.
.

Romans 13:2Romans 13:2 (NASB'20)
Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.
It is because of this that resisting authority is resisting God. This actually results in condemnation to ourselves. The only exception would be when the government/authority orders you, specifically, to disobey God. Then we should follow the examples of the apostles. See the story in Acts 5:17-42Acts 5:17-42 (NASB'20)
But the high priest stood up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and leading them out, he said, “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple area the whole message of this Life.” Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple area about daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest and his associates came, they called the Council together, that is, all the Senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison for them to be brought. But the officers who came did not find them in the prison; and they returned and reported, saying, “We found the prison locked quite securely and the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” Now when the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them as to what would come of this. But someone came and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple area and teaching the people!” Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned). When they had brought them, they had them stand before the Council. The high priest interrogated them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this Man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you put to death by hanging Him on a cross. “He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. “And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” But when they heard this, they became infuriated and nearly decided to execute them. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, be careful as to what you are about to do with these men. “For, some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. “After this man, Judas of Galilee appeared in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he also perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. “And so in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and leave them alone, for if the source of this plan or movement is men, it will be overthrown; but if the source is God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.” They followed his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not stop teaching and preaching the good news of Jesus as the Christ.
(and note here, the "men" they were not going to obey in Acts 5:29Acts 5:29 (NASB'20)
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.
was the Jewish council, not the Roman government, though the principle would apply to government).

Romans 13:3-4Romans 13:3-4 (NASB'20)
For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a servant of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a servant of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.
Government has a purpose. It may become corrupt, but it still has a purpose. IF there were no police or government or authority, do we really think a utopia would develop, or do we know in our hearts it would be total anarchy?

Romans 13:4Romans 13:4 (NASB'20)
for it is a servant of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a servant of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.
seems to condone capital punishment (the sword).

Romans 13:5Romans 13:5 (NASB'20)
Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for the sake of conscience.
We should not simply obey the government for fear of punishment, but as a part of having a Christian conscious.

Romans 13:6-7Romans 13:6-7 (NASB'20)
For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Pay to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; respect to whom respect; honor to whom honor.
It is for these same reasons that we pay taxes. It is not our position to complain when they are spent poorly (though, as we should honor government, and as the government says we should vote, it is not dishonoring to God if we choose to vote, and vote wisely, no matter what any governing body may say). Even Jesus paid taxes to Caesar (Matthew 22:17-22Matthew 22:17-22 (NASB'20)
“Tell us then, what do You think? Is it permissible to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? “Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then pay to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” And hearing this, they were amazed; and they left Him and went away.
) and the corrupt temple (Matthew 17:24-27Matthew 17:24-27 (NASB'20)
Now when they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt. “However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a stater. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.”
).

While we may say "but our government doesn't deserve respect or honor" the context and implication of verse 7Romans 13:7 (NASB'20)
Pay to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; respect to whom respect; honor to whom honor.
is that we should pay respect and honor to our rulers, if only for their office, which is ordained by God, and their position in it, which is only given with God's authority.

Romans 13:8Romans 13:8 (NASB'20)
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the Law.
We should be careful not to assume Paul has begun a completely new topic. In hour paying obligations (taxes, respect, honor), we are showing love, and this is a continual debt we will always have to others.

The Greek here is "love one another" (Strong's G240, a pronoun plural reciprocal). While this can be interpreted to be specifically brotherly love among Christians, Jesus has previously taught that our "neighbor" is not just our kinfolk (See Luke 10:25-29Luke 10:25-29 (NASB'20)
And behold, a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And he answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” But wanting to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
ff). Also, in honoring government, we show love to our kinfolk by making life easier in general.

Some have taken verse 8Romans 13:8 (NASB'20)
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the Law.
to say that we can not have debt of any sort, but that is not what the text says. It says to not leave a debt outstanding. If we are regularly paying our debts according to what has been agreed, it is not considered outstanding (mortgage, car loan, etc.). This does not state to take on foolish debt either. Christians are not forbidden to borrow/loan, but they are forbidden to extract unfair interest from their brethren (Consider God's command in Exodus 22:25Exodus 22:25 (NASB'20)
“If you lend money to My people, to the poor among you, you are not to act as a creditor to him; you shall not charge him interest.
, Deuteronomy 23:19-20Deuteronomy 23:19-20 (NASB'20)
“You are not to charge interest to your countrymen: interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned on interest. “You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your countrymen you shall not charge interest, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to possess.
* and his complaint in Ezekiel 22:12Ezekiel 22:12 (NASB'20)
“Among you they have taken bribes to shed blood; you have taken interest, you have injured your neighbors by oppression, and you have forgotten Me,” declares the Lord GOD.
).

*From commentary by Peter Pett:

It was permissible to lend on interest to foreigners, demonstrating that there was nothing inherently wrong in lending on interest. In that case it would be commercial. The point was that advantage should not be taken of a fellow-Israelite’s hard luck. But they had no such covenant responsibility towards foreigners, and the foreigners would mainly be merchants and traders (which did not, however, justify extortionate interest rates). Then Yahweh their God would bless them in all that they put their hand to in the land ‘which they were entering in order to possess it’. They would from this see how Yahweh was the great lender, He was ‘giving’ them the land, they must behave in the same way towards the poor, and Yahweh Himself would then reward them.

Titus 3:9Titus 3:9 (NASB'20)
But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are useless and worthless.
Jesus has stated similar in Matthew 22:34-40Matthew 22:34-40 (NASB'20)
But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “Upon these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets.”
. See also Matthew 7:12Matthew 7:12 (NASB'20)
“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
, Galatians 5:14Galatians 5:14 (NASB'20)
For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

Romans 13:10Romans 13:10 (NASB'20)
Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law.
Love does not do harm. Adultery, murder, theft, coveting, etc. all harm another.

Romans 13:11-14Romans 13:11-14 (NASB'20)
Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we first believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let’s rid ourselves of the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let’s behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and debauchery, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
We must recognize the time we are in. We are in that grace filled time when sinners can come to Christ, freely, before his return. Once he returns, the opportunity will be closed. Because of this, we need to live in a way that will be a light to others (whether we are gifted as evangelists or not, we still have light to shine to this world).

As Christians, we are called to "wake up" so that we can serve the Lord (See Mark 13:33-37Mark 13:33-37 (NASB'20)
“Watch out, stay alert; for you do not know when the appointed time is. “It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay alert. “Therefore, stay alert–for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning– so that he does not come suddenly and find you asleep. “What I say to you I say to all: ‘Stay alert!’”
, 1 Corinthians 15:33-341 Corinthians 15:33-34 (NASB'20)
Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Sober up morally and stop sinning, for some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.
, Ephesians 5:11-16Ephesians 5:11-16 (NASB'20)
Do not participate in the useless deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.” So then, be careful how you walk, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
ff, 1 Thessalonians 5:4-81 Thessalonians 5:4-8 (NASB'20)
But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness, so that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then, let’s not sleep as others do, but let’s be alert and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who are drunk, get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let’s be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.
).
The "Day" in verse 12Romans 13:12 (NASB'20)
The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let’s rid ourselves of the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
is the Day of the Lord - the return of Christ.

Regarding our salvation being nearer than when we first believed, Peter Pett says:

The Scripture sees salvation as past, present and future. In the past we entered into salvation when we were accounted as righteous by faith, when we became reconciled to God through Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB'20)
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
). From that moment Christ began in us His saving work. In the present it is a day by day experience as God ‘works in us to will and do of His good pleasure’ (Philippians 2:13Philippians 2:13 (NASB'20)
for it is God who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure.
). We are ‘being saved’ (1 Corinthians 1:181 Corinthians 1:18 (NASB'20)
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
). But in the future it refers to the final completion of our salvation when we are presented perfect before God, and have been made ‘like Him (Christ)’ (Romans 8:29Romans 8:29 (NASB'20)
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters;
; 1 John 2:21 John 2:2 (NASB'20)
and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
).

Romans 13:14Romans 13:14 (NASB'20)
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
So much in this world is designed to make "provision for the flesh" (CSB, NASB, NKJ, ESV) or to get us to "think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh" (NIV) The Today's English Version (Good News Bible) translation of this verse is:

But take up the weapons of the Lord Jesus Christ, and stop paying attention to your sinful nature and satisfying its desires.

(Back to Top)

Romans 14

Romans 14:1-3Romans 14:1-3 (NIV'11)
Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.
Disputable matters, in Paul's examples, are about what can be eaten and what days are special. He uses the example of food in 1 Corinthians 81 Corinthians 8:1-13 (NIV'11)
Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God. So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.
as well (worth reading along with Romans 14). He references both food and days (festivals and Sabbath days) in Colossians 2:16Colossians 2:16 (NIV'11)
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.
. A great disservice to the Word has been made by people who want to lump sin in with "disputable matters" in an attempt to justify sin, often based on the statement "I'm not convicted about that."

Consider: The Bible says all meat is acceptable, so we can eat. Some, because they live in/come from a culture where meat is sacrificed to idols, wish not to eat lest they be seen as approving of the idolatry or associating with the demons behind idolatry.

The Bible does not say movies are bad (the Bible could have spoken to plays, telling fairy tales, etc.), but the Bible does say that course talk (Ephesians 5:4Ephesians 5:4 (NIV'11)
Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
), taking God's name in vain (Exodus 20:7Exodus 20:7 (NIV'11)
“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
), and sexual immorality are bad. While we should not judge those who are okay with seeing movies and we should not condemn those who do not presuppose such freedom, if the movie contains course talk (dirty jokes), blasphemy of God's name, or sexual immorality, we no longer can rely on our "conscious" or "convictions," as the Bible is clear about those matters of the film's contents. They are sin.

Films, TV, music, etc. - all of these are neutral mediums that can be used for good or evil; the prohibitions would be in participating in the evil use. There is a subjectiveness here, but the point at which something has entered the sin territory should be obvious to all at a certain point.

Romans 14:4Romans 14:4 (NIV'11)
Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
Paul is talking about judgment regarding disputable matters, not about sin. Our judging should not be on the neutral medium, but if there is blatant sin being enjoyed, then we should call out sin for what it is.

Romans 14:5-6Romans 14:5-6 (NIV'11)
One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.
Whether we eat meat or not, or honor the Sabbath (or other holiday of the Jewish Calendar) or not, we should do whatever we do to the Lord with thanksgiving to God. Some faiths, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, refuse celebrating any holiday, as doing so is an affront to God; this portion of scripture speaks well to that.

Romans 14:5Romans 14:5 (NIV'11)
One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.
While this can refer to Jewish festivals, it could also refer to the Sabbath, making this somewhat of an annulment of one (and only this one) of the ten commandments (from Exodus 20:8-11Exodus 20:8-11 (NIV'11)
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
). If one aspect of the Sabbath rest was to shadow the rest we would have in Christ now that Christ as come, we should enjoy that spiritual rest every day, and we should honor God, as we might on the Sabbath, every day. Consider Colossians 2:16-17Colossians 2:16-17 (NIV'11)
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
. There is still value to a Sabbath rest, as the Sabbath was given for the benefit of Man (Mark 2:27-28Mark 2:27-28 (NIV'11)
Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
).

However, don't use this verse to get out of regular fellowship with other Believers. Consider Hebrews 10:24-25Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV'11)
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
.

Romans 14:7-8Romans 14:7-8 (NIV'11)
For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
As Christians, our lives are not our own - whatever we do should be to the Lord. In both our life and death, we are God's. (see Matthew 16:24Matthew 16:24 (NIV'11)
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
; 1 Corinthians 6:20, 10:311 Corinthians 6:20, 10:31 (NIV'11)
6:20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
). Remember, verse 6Romans 14:6 (NIV'11)
Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.
said that whether we regard a day as special or not, as Christians, we do so to the Lord.

Note Paul never says in this passage that the disputable matters are unimportant - he says that we should be fully convinced in his own mind (verse 5Romans 14:5 (NIV'11)
One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.
).

Romans 14:9Romans 14:9 (NIV'11)
For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
If we die, we die for the Lord (verse 8Romans 14:8 (NIV'11)
If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
). Christ died and rose again so that even our death could be for him. Every aspect of our life is for God and his Glory. Whether we are alive on this earth or have passed on, Christ is still our Lord.

Romans 14:10Romans 14:10 (NIV'11)
You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
From the NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible on verse 10:

You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Addressed to the “weak” believer who judges the “strong” believer for ignoring standard Jewish piety (v. 3Romans 14:3 (NIV'11)
The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.
). why do you treat them with contempt? Addressed to the “strong” believer who views with disdain and condescension the “weak” believer’s insistence on clinging to certain rules. we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is God, not our fellow believers, to whom each Christian is ultimately answerable. We should not let other believers force us to violate our conscience, nor should we presume to stand in the place of God by judging fellow believers.

Romans 14:10-11Romans 14:10-11 (NIV'11)
You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’”
A single all encompassing judgment ceremony or separate judgment ceremonies of condemnation and rewards for believers?

Some commentators seem to think that God's judgment seat from verse 10Romans 14:10 (NIV'11)
You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
is not the great white throne judgment from Revelation, where those who are not in the book of life are condemned, but instead a separate judgment seat of Christ where believers either do or do not receive reward (Revelation 20:11-15Revelation 20:11-15 (NIV'11)
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
vs. 2 Corinthians 5:102 Corinthians 5:10 (NIV'11)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
). As Paul has been talking specifically to believers for the first 10 versesRomans 14:1-10 (NIV'11)
Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
, I'd say the judgment of verse 11Romans 14:11 (NIV'11)
It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’”
is both where rewards are given to believers and where the non-believers are condemned. The Isaiah verse Paul quotes (Isaiah 45:22-25Isaiah 45:22-25 (NIV'11)
“Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the LORD alone are deliverance and strength.’” All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame. But all the descendants of Israel will find deliverance in the LORD and will make their boast in him.
) seems to refer to all people. In my reading, the great white throne in Revelation 20:11-15Revelation 20:11-15 (NIV'11)
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
could easily also refer to those who believe along with those who do not (those who do not have their names in the Book of Life are condemned implies that some there do have their names in the book and are not condemned - but these people are still judged by what is written in the other books, and may receive rewards accordingly).

Romans 14:12Romans 14:12 (NIV'11)
So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
Ultimately, it is only to God that we are accountable. But, as Paul will immediately state, that does not mean we can run roughshod over fellow believers regarding things of conscious.

Here, the judgment seat is of God. In 2 Corinthians 5:102 Corinthians 5:10 (NIV'11)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
, the judgment seat we all must appear before is "of Christ." Jesus is the one who will judge (See John 5:22, 27John 5:22, 27 (NIV'11)
5:22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son,
5:27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
- in context, verse 27John 5:27 (NIV'11)
And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
is clearly speaking of the final judgment; and 2 Timothy 4:12 Timothy 4:1 (NIV'11)
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:
). The sum of these verses presents a deity claim for Christ.

Romans 14:13-15Romans 14:13-15 (NIV'11)
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.
Instead of judging others in such non-disputable matters, turn your judgment inward to be sure you are not a stumbling block to a fellow believer, attempting to push a freedom onto them that their conscious does not allow them.

If a brother does not feel comfortable with something, we should let that be and not participate in that item in their presence (don't eat meat in front of the believer who is not comfortable eating meat, etc.). Note the conflict in verse 14Romans 14:14 (NIV'11)
I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean.
. While Paul says he is fully convinced that nothing is unclean in and of itself, if a believer regards something as unclean, to him it is unclean, and to him if he eats/whatever, it is sin to that person, as he has violated his conscious (verse 23Romans 14:23 (NIV'11)
But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
). Note Paul's being convinced was "in the Lord Jesus" and not in his own personal convictions. Truly, nothing is unclean in itself. This is why it is the "weaker" brother who sees something as unclean.

Romans 14:15Romans 14:15 (NIV'11)
If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.
Forcing our "freedom" on those with less freedom can actually destroy them. Love does no harm to another. Destroy is Strong's G622, which speaks to a full, death-like destruction.

Romans 14:16-17Romans 14:16-17 (NIV'11)
Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
Rather than focusing on the disputable matters, we should focus on righteousness, peace and joy in the holy spirit. By putting righteousness first. and separating it from the disputable matters, Paul emphasizes that things that are not righteous are not included in the disputable matters.

Romans 14:18Romans 14:18 (NIV'11)
because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
By keeping our focus correct (see previous verses), then we are pleasing to God and we will be well received by our fellow man. This is not limited to fellow believers, but all people - for they will see that we do not dispute, that we hold to what we believe, that we stand for righteousness, and that we have peace and joy in our faith by our God. It is this that we should pursue (verse 19Romans 14:19 (NIV'11)
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
).

Romans 14:20-22Romans 14:20-22 (NIV'11)
Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.
The one with more freedom must curtail his freedom for the benefit of the one with a stricter conscious. This does not mean you give up believing in your freedom, and even practicing them when not before others who may not feel the same way. In front of the weaker brother, though, abstain from your freedom. See 1 Corinthians 8:12-131 Corinthians 8:12-13 (NIV'11)
When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.
.

Romans 14:23Romans 14:23 (NIV'11)
But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
The principle may apply beyond disputable matters - anything we do that is not with faith in God and from our faith can be sin to us. In this sense, we should listen to our conscious. However, our heart can be deceitful, so the opposite may not necessarily be true.

So: IF we do something we do not have faith in - something we doubt is correct - then it is sin.

BUT, just because we "feel" something IS right doesn't make it not sinful for us. A hardness of heart to an aspect of God's law may lead us to commit sin without conviction or our conscious bothering us about it. (Back to Top)

Romans 15

Romans 15:1-2Romans 15:1-2 (NIV'11)
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.
Even though the weak have been previously told not to judge the strong, it is the strong who are to bear up to the weaker brothers. The weak do not have to sacrifice a freedom (as they don't have the freedom due to conscious), but the strong do.

Romans 15:3-4Romans 15:3-4 (NIV'11)
For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
Read Psalm 69, which is prophecy for Jesus, as well as for us, as Paul has just tied it to us with this verse. The way in which Christ did not please himself is a far greater sacrifice than we may ever understand or realize. Our not pleasing ourselves, even if unto death, would be a smaller sacrifice than Christ's.

Romans 15:3-4Romans 15:3-4 (NIV'11)
For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
Whatever was written (in the OT) was for our instruction and is beneficial for endurance and encouragement. Those who try to "unhinge" the OT from the NT are doing the Word a great disservice.

Romans 15:3-4Romans 15:3-4 (NIV'11)
For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
And the endurance and encouragement we receive ultimately comes from God. The desired end is harmony with each other and God's glory.

Romans 15:3-4Romans 15:3-4 (NIV'11)
For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
Consider Ephesians 4:32-5:2Ephesians 4:32-5:2 (NIV'11)
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
.

Romans 15:8Romans 15:8 (NIV'11)
For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed
Jesus' work was in service to the Jews, as was prophesied to the patriarchs, but ultimately, this was for the Gentiles as well, as the next several verses show.

Romans 15:9-12, 21Romans 15:9-12, 21 (NIV'11)
15:9-12 and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written: “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.” Again, it says, “Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.” And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him.” And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.”
15:21 Rather, as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”
Great verses to show Jews that Gentile acceptance of the Messiah was always expected. The Law, Psalms and Prophets are quoted here. Note these verses follow the conversation about the weak and the strong. The ultimate goal of bearing with others is all people giving praise to God.

Romans 15:9Romans 15:9 (NIV'11)
and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written: “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.”
This quote is found in both Psalms 18:49Psalms 18:49 (NIV'11)
Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name.
and 2 Samuel 22:502 Samuel 22:50 (NIV'11)
Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name.
While in the original context, the appearance is that the Jew would give celebration in front of the Gentiles, Paul uses further scripture to show that the Gentiles will not only witness the praises of God's people, but they will join in with those praises.

Romans 15:13Romans 15:13 (NIV'11)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
and this should fill us with joy, peace, and overflowing hope.

Romans 15:14-15Romans 15:14-15 (NIV'11)
I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another. Yet I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me
No matter how knowledgeable we are, we can still receive instruction and it is good to be reminded of God's truths.

Romans 15:16Romans 15:16 (NIV'11)
to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
from the NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible:

the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God. Describing his apostolic ministry in priestly terminology, Paul identifies the offering he makes: the Gentiles themselves. Paul may have in mind the prophecy of Isaiah 66:19-20Isaiah 66:19-20 (NIV'11)
“I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations — to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations. And they will bring all your people, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord — on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the Lord. “They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the Lord in ceremonially clean vessels.
, which speaks of declaring God’s glory “among the nations” and of bringing people from “all the nations” to Jerusalem as an “offering to the Lord.”

Romans 15:19Romans 15:19 (NIV'11)
by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
a See 2 Corinthians 12:122 Corinthians 12:12 (NIV'11)
I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.
. Signs, wonders and miracles are signs of a true apostle (though they need not be limited to apostles). Other verses to consider: Matthew 24:24Matthew 24:24 (NIV'11)
For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
; John 4:48John 4:48 (NIV'11)
“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”
; Acts 2:43, 5:12, 14:3Acts 2:43, 5:12, 14:3 (NIV'11)
2:43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.
5:12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade.
14:3 So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.
.

Paul's gospel was a "fully proclaimed" gospel of Christ. He spoke not only the truth, but the whole truth, which is growing more and more difficult to do in today's world (though it was much more difficult in Paul's world within the Roman empire and among the Jews of the day).

Romans 15:19b-23Romans 15:19-23 (NIV'11)
by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.” This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you. But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you,
For many years, Paul had put off seeing those in Rome until he finished preaching the Gospel "from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum" because he wanted to make sure to preach to those who had not heard first.

Map of the Roman Empire in the New Testament Period
Map of the Roman Empire in the New Testament Period
Illyricum is to the east of Italy, across from the Adriatic Sea. Some maps have Illyricum wrapping around the entire top of Italy's "boot." Jerusalem is near the south-east corner of the Mediterranean Sea.

Romans 15:26Romans 15:26 (NIV'11)
For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem.
Despite the explicit teachings of Benny Hinn and others, Paul was taking an offering to the poor in Jerusalem; he was not asking the poor to give him their money so they could become rich in a "wealth transfer."

Romans 15:30-31Romans 15:30-31 (NIV'11)
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there,
See Colossians 2:1Colossians 2:1 (NIV'11)
I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally.
and Colossians 4:12Colossians 4:12 (NIV'11)
Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.
. We are to strive together in prayer with others. This was Paul's request. Prayer can be a battleground. See Acts 21-23 to read about how Paul fared when he went to Jerusalem.

Romans 15:30Romans 15:30 (NIV'11)
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.
Note that Jesus, the Spirit and God are all three mentioned in this verse.

Romans 15:31Romans 15:31 (NIV'11)
Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there,
a From the NICNT:

We find a somewhat ironic confirmation... in the way in which God “answered” Paul’s prayer here. He was delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, but only by being locked up by the Romans for two years.

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Romans 16

Romans 16:1-15Romans 16:1-15 (NIV'11)
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me. Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia. Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys. Greet Apelles, whose fidelity to Christ has stood the test. Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew. Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the Lord’s people who are with them.
Phoebe was a female. Deacon can also be considered a more generic "servant" though it does not need to be. A "deacon" (Strong's G1249) seems to be a lower position than "overseer" (Strong's G1984). See 1 Timothy 3 where both words are used.

Due to the modern-day to push, and attempts to confuse and justify the push, of going past the ordinances of scripture, the complexities of what roles females can take in the church is beyond the scope of just Romans 16 or this study. For an amazing exegesis of this topic, see Mike Winger's study on Women in Ministry. He looks at all sides to seek out the true Biblical teaching with more depth than most would even be capable.

However, we can note from Romans 16 that Phoebe was to be received. She most likely carried the letter to Rome. She was wealthy and a benefactor to many people (verse 2Romans 16:2 (NIV'11)
I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.
).

Further regarding women, Priscilla (f) and Aquila (m) were a husband and wife team who were co-workers in Christ who risked their lives for Paul (and for the Gentiles in general). They hosted a house church (verses 3-5Romans 16:3-5 (NIV'11)
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.
). Mary worked hard for the Church (verse 6Romans 16:6 (NIV'11)
Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you.
), as did the women of verse 12Romans 16:12 (NIV'11)
Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord.
. Rufus' mother was as a mother to Paul (verse 13Romans 16:13 (NIV'11)
Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.
). Others are mentioned as well.

Disregarding gender, we can see from Romans 16 that Christians should be known by the following:

  • Known for receiving people in a worthy manner (verse 2Romans 16:2 (NIV'11)
    I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.
    )
  • Known for giving help, both financial and not (verse 2Romans 16:2 (NIV'11)
    I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.
    )
  • Willing to risk their lives (verse 4Romans 16:4 (NIV'11)
    They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.
    )
  • Willing to host church gatherings (verse 5Romans 16:5 (NIV'11)
    Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.
    )
  • Be very hard working (verses 6, 12Romans 16:6, 12 (NIV'11)
    Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you... Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord.
    )
  • Willing to go to prison (verse 7Romans 16:7 (NIV'11)
    Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.
    )
  • Known for being faithful over time (verse 10Romans 16:10 (NIV'11)
    Greet Apelles, whose fidelity to Christ has stood the test. Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus.
    )
  • Be caring and supportive of others - specifically here in a motherly role (verse 13Romans 16:13 (NIV'11)
    Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.
    )
  • Obedient to the gospel/work of Christ (verse 19Romans 16:19 (NIV'11)
    Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.
    )
  • Be hospitable to the whole church (verse 23Romans 16:23 (NIV'11)
    Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings. Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings.
    )

Romans 16:16Romans 16:16 (NIV'11)
Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.
The "holy kiss" is likely cultural, and at the time, was even accepted practice among men (Luke 22:47-48Luke 22:47-48 (NIV'11)
While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
). The addition of "holy" assures of that no disagreeable connotation is connected with the kiss. As additionally stated by Joseph Benson:

The Jews considered the kiss as an expression of friendship. Thus Joab, pretending great friendship to Amasa, took him by the beard to kiss him, when he slew him, 2 Samuel 20:92 Samuel 20:9 (NIV'11)
Joab said to Amasa, “How are you, my brother?” Then Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him.
. Our Lord says to Simon, Luke 7:45Luke 7:45 (NIV'11)
You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.
, Thou gavest me no kiss; meaning, that he had not expressed such affection to him as the woman had done who kissed his feet.

Romans 16:17-19Romans 16:17-19 (NIV'11)
I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.
While in other letters Paul has spoken extensively about false doctrines and the divisions they cause, Paul has not brought up such teaching in Romans before this point. He has mentioned "weaker" and "stronger" believers in the previous chapters. However, Paul here seems to be speaking about those who act contrary to the true gospel message; people who are feeding their own appetites, talking with flattery (do we know any popular preachers who seem to want your money yet will compliment you the whole time?). The lesson seems to be that the naive are deceived by such people (verse 18Romans 16:18 (NIV'11)
For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
). It is wisdom to be sure you know the Word so you can spot the deceivers. It is wisdom to recognize that such deceivers really do exist. Don't be naive about this.

Romans 16:19-20Romans 16:19-20 (NIV'11)
Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
Innocent about what is evil does not mean without knowledge, but innocent or pure in the face of evil (Strong's G185). Consider Philippians 2:12-16Philippians 2:12-16 (NIV'11)
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed — not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence — continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.
. Verse 20Romans 16:20 (NIV'11)
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
hearkens back to the original promise after the fall in Genesis 3:15Genesis 3:15 (NIV'11)
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
.

Romans 16:23Romans 16:23 (NIV'11)
Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings. Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings.
Christians can work for the government, even a corrupt government (all earthly governments have some level of corruption).

Romans 16:25-27Romans 16:25-27 (NIV'11)
Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith — to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
Final benediction, and confirmation that the Gentile inclusion has always been the plan, and that this has now been revealed though Paul's gospel interpretation of the scriptures.

Romans 16:26Romans 16:26 (NIV'11)
but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith —
bookends the introduction of Romans at Romans 1:5Romans 1:5 (NIV'11)
Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.
.

A Somewhat Preterist Study of Matthew 24