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LDS New Testament Notes 23: Romans

LDS New Testament Notes 23: Romans

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Published by Mike Parker

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Published by: Mike Parker on May 19, 2011
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New TestamentWeek 23: Romans
1)
Introduction.a)Background.i)Paul’s Epistle to the Romans is widely regarded as Paul’s preeminent work and thefullest expression of his mature theology.ii)Romans has had a deeper impact on Protestant Christianity than any other book inthe Bible, including the Gospels. Christian thinkers of every era—from St. Augustineto Martin Luther to Karl Barth to N. T. Wright—have shaped the development of Christianity through their exploration of Romans.(1)The downside to this is that Romans is practically worshipped by someProtestants. In Bruce R. McConkie’s opinion, “It is the source of more doctrinalmisunderstanding, misinterpretation, and mischief than any other Biblical book,not even excepting the Book of Revelation.”
1
iii)Curiously, Romans is as much ignored by Latter-day Saints as it is over-read by Protestants. Aside from a handful of passages,
2
Mormons are largely unacquainted with this letter. b)Occasion and date.i)Romans was probably written from Corinth during Paul’s third missionary journey in
 A 
.
D
. 55 or 56.
3
ii)Paul had not been to Rome yet, but hoped to make a missionary journey to Spain, with the support of the Roman saints (15:23–29).
4
iii)The purpose of this letter was to introduce Paul to the Jewish and Gentile Christiansin Rome, and to teach them his understanding of the doctrine of salvation by Christ.
2)
1:16–17. Paul’s theme.
KJV Romans 1:1617NRSV Romans 1:161
16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:for it is the power of God unto salvation toevery one that believeth; to the Jew first, andalso to the Greek.
16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is thepower of God for salvation to everyone whohas faith, to the Jew first and also to theGreek.
17
For therein is the righteousness of Godrevealed from faith to faith: as it is written,The just shall live by faith.
17
For in it the righteousness of God is revealedthrough faith for faith; as it is written, “Theone who is righteous will live by faith.”
a)Paul’s main point in Romans, summed up here, is that God saves everyone (both Jewsand Gentiles) in the same way (by faith) by the same means (the gospel), and thusdemonstrates his righteousness (covenant faithfulness).
1
Bruce R. McConkie,
 Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Volume II: Acts–Philippians
(Bookcraft, 1971), 211.
2
I’m thinking mainly of Romans 1:15–16; 3:23; and 8:16–17.
3
Paul writes that he is staying with someone named Gaius (16:23), who is presumably the same person in 1 Corinthians1:14, and he anticipates an imminent journey to Jerusalem with a collection he has taken up (15:25–33), which corresponds to Acts 20:1–21:17 and 2 Corinthians 8–9.
4
Paul eventually 
did 
make it to Rome, but not as a free man able to travel on, as he had hoped. He came instead as aprisoner (see Acts 28:16–31).
© 2011, Mike Parkerhttp://bit.ly/ldsarcFor personal use only. Not a Church publication.
 
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion ClassNew Testament: RomansWeek 23, Page 2
 b)The question Paul is grappling with is how to deal with the fact that the early Christianchurch was becoming dominated by Gentiles. Did this mean that God had abandonedIsrael, his covenant people? Or that his plans had been thwarted? Not at all—Paul setsout to demonstrate that God’s righteousness is evident in his acceptance of the Gentiles(chapters 1–8), and that inclusion of the Gentiles does not invalidate his covenant withIsrael (9–11).c)The phrase “from faith to faith” (εκ πιστεως εις πιστιν /
ek pisteOs eis pistin
) in 1:17 isdifficult to interpret.i)Many Protestant Christians who believe in the doctrine of 
sola fide
(“faith alone,” which we discussed last week)
5
believe it refers to exclusive requirement of faith onthe part of human beings.
6
ii)But recall that Greek word πιστεως (
 pisteOs
) can also mean “faithfulness” (as it doesin its next appearance in 3:3). In the context of 1:17 it seems more likely that Paul issaying that God’s faithfulness is recognized
by or through
human faith—in other words, when we exercise faith, God’s faithfulness in fulfilling his covenant isrevealed.
3)
1:18–8:39. Romans can be divided into three sections. The first begins in the middle of chapter 1 and runs through the end of chapter 8. In this first portion Paul writes aboutGod’s righteousness in the way he has justified and reconciled all mankind—Jews andGentiles.a)1:18–3:20. Paul first makes the case that human beings are generally wicked and unjust,even though they innately know that God exists and doesn’t want them to do such things(1:18–32). To Jews who would argue that they’re okay because they have God’s law, Paultells them they haven’t kept it, so they’re not in a position to condemn others (2:1–3:20).Therefore “both Jews and Gentiles…are all under sin” (3:9). b)3:21–31 are the capstone of Paul’s introductory argument, and the heart of his letter:Here Paul restates the theme he introduced in chapter 1—the righteousness of God.
KJV Romans 3:2126NRSV Romans 3:2126
21
But now the righteousness of God withoutthe law is manifested, being witnessed bythe law and the prophets;
21
But now, apart from law, the righteousnessof God has been disclosed, and is attested bythe law and the prophets,
22
Even the righteousness of God which is byfaith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon allthem that believe: for there is no difference:
22
the righteousness of God through faith inJesus Christ for all who believe. For there isno distinction,
23
For all have sinned, and come short of theglory of God;
23
since all have sinned and fall short of theglory of God;
24
Being justified freely by his grace throughthe redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
24
they are now justified by his grace as a gift,through the redemption that is in ChristJesus,
25
Whom God hath set forth to be apropitiation through faith in his blood, todeclare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearanceof God;
25
whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective throughfaith. He did this to show his righteousness,because in his divine forbearance he hadpassed over the sins previously committed;
5
See lesson 22, pages 4–5;
http://scr.bi/LDSARCNT22n
6
Hence the evangelical Protestant NIV translates it as “faith from first to last.”
© 2011, Mike Parkerhttp://bit.ly/ldsarcFor personal use only. Not a Church publication.
 
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion ClassNew Testament: RomansWeek 23, Page 3
26
To declare, I say, at this time hisrighteousness: that he might be just, and thejustifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
26
it was to prove at the present time that hehimself is righteous and that he justifies theone who has faith in Jesus.
i)3:21–22a. Setting the Law of Moses aside (and yet attested to by the Old Testamentscriptures), God’s righteousness—his complete fidelity and fulfilling of his promises—is now revealed in the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.(1)Once again we have the phrase “faith in Jesus” (or KJV “faith of Jesus”), wherethe word “faith” can also be translated “faithfulness.” In this case it makes muchmore sense to read
 faithfulness
, for how could God’s righteousness be revealed by man’s faith? Paul has just spent two chapters describing how men are
unfaithful 
and unable to obey God’s law. It seems more likely that Paul’s meaning is that“the righteousness of God is revealed through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ forall who believe” (see also 3:25; 5:8).ii)3:22b–23. Paul repeats that this applies to everyone—Jew and Gentile—because allhave sinned.iii)3:24–26. Justification is not earned; it is a gift, freely given by God. It is activated inthose who have faith in Jesus.(1)As we’ll see, this does not mean that it comes with no effort on our part. Toexercise faith means to put our complete trust in Christ and in his atonement.Nephi
1
referred to this as “relying wholly [
entirely
and
completely
] upon themerits of him who is mighty to save” (2 Nephi 31:19).(2)The Book of Mormon prophet Jacob explained:
24
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, andnot to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye arereconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye aresaved. (2 Nephi 10:24.)
(3)God’s justification not only frees us from sin, it also empowers us to liverighteously, and so we should.c)4:1– 25. In chapter 4 Paul turns to a scriptural example of being justified by faith: theprophet Abraham.i)He quotes Genesis 15:6—“Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him forrighteousness” (Romans 4:3)—and concludes that Abraham was declared righteous because of his belief, or trust, in God. This was done before he was circumcised (4:9–12) and apart from the Law, which came later.ii)With regard to the promise that Abraham would have a son:
20
No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong inhis faith as he gave glory to God,
21
being fully convinced that God was able to dowhat he had promised.
22
Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him asrighteousness.” (NSRV Romans 4:20–22.)
(1)The kind of faith that Paul has in mind is total trust and confidence that God isable to fulfill his promises.
7
Daniel Webster,
 American Dictionary of the English Language
, 1828 ed., s.v. “Wholly”;
http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/search/word,wholly
© 2011, Mike Parkerhttp://bit.ly/ldsarcFor personal use only. Not a Church publication.

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