Southern Christian University

James A. Turner

A Study of Romans #2

Please read all of the references. They will help you to get a fuller understanding.


Chapter Three

"What advantage then hath the Jew?  Or what is the profit of circumcision?  Much every way  (first of all) they were entrusted with the oracles of God”.  They were entrusted with the Old Testament scriptures and then later with the New Testament scriptures.  "What if some were without faith?  Shall their want of faith make them none effect the faithfulness of God?  God forbid.  (no sir) Yeah let God be found true but every man a liar.  As it is written:  That thou might be justified in thy words, and may prevail when thou comest into judgment."  Many of the Jews turned away from the way of faith unto unbelief, but that did not do away with the faithfulness of God. I think we need to try to remember verse four in respect to, that any time a man teaches contrary to what God said, this passage says, “let God be found true, but every man a liar”.  And sometimes there is a place for reminding that God says this, and what you are saying is contrary to what the Bible teaches on this subject, and Paul said, “Let God be found true.”  "But if our unrighteousness  (Jewish people)  commendeth the righteousness of God, what shall we say?  Is God unrighteous who visiteth with wrath?  I speak after the manner of men.  God forbid! For then how shall God judge the world?”  The unrighteousness of the Jews commended the righteousness of God in that because of their unbelief, the gospel was then given to the Gentiles (Acts 13:44-49; Romans 11:11-22). Paul declares very plainly that God is not unrighteous when he visiteth wrath on the disobedient. "God forbid! For then how shall God judge the world."  "But if the truth of God through my lie abounded unto his glory, why I am also still judged as a sinner?  And why not, as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say, let us do evil that good may come whose condemnation is just."  I think when we put that statement with what is recorded in chapter five, “but where sin abounded, grace abounded more exceedingly (5:20)”.  And on the basis of that, some came with the slander that he was teaching, let us sin more and more that God's grace will abound more and more.  Well, slander is not truth, but is always contrary to truth.  "As some affirm that we say; let us do evil that good may come whose condemnation is just."  In other words those who were falsely accusing Paul as teaching that, “let us do evil that good may come?” that they were unfaithful, and they were slanderers, and their condemnation was just. 


Verse nine, "What then?  Are we better than they?  (are Jews better than Gentiles)  No, in no wise, for we are before laid to the charge both of Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.  For it is written," and here he begins putting together several short references from the Psalms to prove that those under the law were sinners before God.  "There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understandeth; there is none that seeketh after God.  They have all turned aside. (not born aside, but turned aside)  They are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one”. Ps. 14:1ff. He is just putting together several passages primarily from the Psalms. “Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.  Their feet are swift to shed blood.  Destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known.  There is no fear of God before their eyes.  For we know that whatsoever the law saith, it speaketh to them that are under the law."  And the Jews were the ones that were under the law.  "That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God.  Because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight, for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin."  Well, he taught that plainly in the Galatian letter, and he is teaching it plainly here, that no man is going to be saved by the works of the Old Testament law.  "Because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight, for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin."  And remember that the law gave promise of life on the basis of perfection in keeping the law, Leviticus 18:5.  We will get to that later as we study this book. 


Romans 3:21, "For now apart from the law.  (Old Testament law)  A righteousness of God has been manifest being witnessed by the law in the prophets."  The Old Testament prophets continued to speak of the day when the Gentiles would have salvation and when the kingdom of God would be established.  Joel had prophesied (Joel 2:28-32) that in the last days that God's spirit would be poured out upon all flesh, and this passage was quoted in that first gospel sermon (Acts 2: 16-21), and that Pentecost Day was the beginning of the fulfillment of (Joel 2:28-32).  In the last days”, The Christian age constitutes the last days (Isaiah 2:1-4 and Micah 4:1-3).  Isaiah and Micah said that the church, the house of God, would be established in the last days (I Tim. 3:14-15).  "Even as the righteousness of God, through faith in Christ, to all them that believe.  For there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned."  (Jews and Gentiles alike)  And fall short of the glory of God."  Verse twenty-three is still saying that there is not an accountable person on the face of the earth that has not sinned.  All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, but God has provided a way of justification.  "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus whom God set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to show his righteousness, because of the passing over of sins done aforetime in the forbearance of God."  So there is a way of redemption that God has given apart from the law, and that way is through Jesus Christ. Christ's blood was shed in his death, and a sinner shows faith in the power of his blood when he believes, repents, and confesses the name of Christ and then is baptized into Christ in the likeness of his death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-7, 6:17-18).

Verse twenty six, "For the showing I say of his present righteousness at this present season, that he might himself be just and the justifier of him that has faith in Jesus."  By sending Christ as a sin offering, as a propitiation or as a sin offering for us, this is a way that God could be “just and the justifier of him that has faith in Jesus”.  Man deserved to die, but God could be just by giving this way of redemption.  He can grant mercy and still uphold the justice of the law and still justify those who have faith in Jesus.  "Where then is the glory?  It is excluded.  By what manner of law?  Of works?  (Old Testament law)  Nay, but by the law of faith. (the New Testament law),  we reckon therefore that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law."  It is talking about the Old Testament law.  Now, it does not mean that men are justified by faith apart from law, but he is justified by faith apart from the works of the Old Testament law, or that a man does not merit salvation by his works. 


Verse twenty-nine, "Or is God the God of Jews only?  Is he not the God of the Gentiles?  Yea, of the Gentiles also.  If so be that God is one he shall justify the circumcision by faith  (the Jewish people) and the uncircumcision (the Gentile people) through faith."  By faith and through faith, would amount to the same thing.  So God justifies all people alike through faith in Christ, those who have faith in power of his blood to cleanse them from sin by being obedient to Christ.  "Do we then make void the law through faith?  God forbid! Nay we establish the law. 


Chapter Four

What then shall we say that Abraham our forefather has found according to the flesh?  For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.  For what then saith the scripture?  And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness."  (Again, that is a quotation of Genesis 15:6) When Abraham didn't have a single son, and God said if you can count the stars so shall thy seed be.  They will be innumerable!  Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness.


Remember he quoted that in Galatians 3: 6, and that is quoted by James where James joins Abraham's faith and works together.  Maybe we need to turn and look at the passage from James.  James chapter two, verse twenty, beginning, "But will thou know, vain man, that faith apart from works is barren.  (vain, it's worthless)  Was not Abraham our father justified by works in that he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar?" Some may reason that there is conflict between Paul and James, but not so. 

James 2:22, "Thou seest that faith wrought with his works and by works was faith made perfect?  And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness.  And he was called a friend of God.  You see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith."  Well, James is not saying that faith is not necessary, but he says that they go together, that faith and works go together.  You see that by works a man is justified and not only by faith. So faith and works have a part in our justification. 


Now back to Romans 4:4, "Now to him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned as of grace but as of debt."  A man who works hard for his employer all the week, does not have to turn his back to receive his paycheck, does he?  He feels like he has earned it!  And if there were such a thing as a man doing works of merit to earn his salvation, then salvation would be paid him on the basis of debt.  "But to him that worketh not, but believest on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness.  Even as David pronounces the blessing upon the man unto whom God reckoneth righteousness apart from works.  Saying blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not reckon sin."  


Primitive Baptists and others may use this passage to say that God will not count sin against a child of God, “once in grace always in grace” and then quote this passage, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whom the Lord will not reckon sin”.  I heard a Primitive Baptists in debate with Brother Gus Nichols many years ago at Tallassee, Alabama.  He reasoned, if I were to commit murder, why, God would not reckon it against me?  It would just be because of the weakness of the flesh.  Under each man's shirt, there are two men, the inward man and the outward man.  And no man can control the outward man.  And so you know the thing that makes the difference is whether that inward man's heart wants to do what is right.  So you see how they use this passage.  Well, turn back to where the passage is quoted from Psalms thirty-two, and David tells us the Lord's hand was heavy upon him until he repented and confessed his sins.  Notice the reading in Psalm 32:1-5, David says,  "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  Blessed is the man whom Jehovah imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile."  Now, what kind of man is it that the Lord forgives his transgression and “whose sin is covered”.  "When I kept silence, my bones wasted away.  Through my groaning and all the day.  For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me:  My moisture was changed as with the drought of summer."  So as long as David did not repent, the Lord's hand was heavy upon him.  "I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity did I not hide.  I said, I will confess my transgressions unto Jehovah; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin."  So what man is blessed?  The man who repents and turns from his sins.  And so the child of God who repents and turns from his sin, the Lord forgives his iniquity.  His sins are covered, his sins are no longer reckoned against him anymore (John 1:7-9). 


Verse eight, "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not reckon sin.  Is this blessing then pronounced upon the circumcision, or upon the uncircumcision also,  for we say, to Abraham his faith was reckoned for righteousness.  How then it was reckoned?  When he was in circumcision, or uncircumcision?"  The facts show that it was in uncircumcision. As recorded in Genesis 15:6, "His faith was reckoned for righteousness."  In Genesis seventeen, and Genesis is in chronological order, is where God gave Abraham the law of circumcision, and he was ninety- nine years old and Ishmael was thirteen.  And they were circumcised, and all the men of his house that same day.  And so Abraham was in uncircumcision when God gave him the law of circumcision.  "How then was it reckoned?  When he was in circumcision or in uncircumcision.  Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.  And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of faith which he had while he was in uncircumcision."  So the writer is saying that circumcision was a sign of the righteousness of faith that he had back there before God gave the law of circumcision.  "That he might be the father of all them that believe, though they would be in uncircumcision, that righteousness might be reckoned unto them, and the father of circumcision to them who are not only of circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of that faith that our father Abraham which he had in uncircumcision."  So all of those who have faith like Abraham, Jews and Gentiles, are justified by their great faith, but it is not just an intellectual faith, it is an obedient faith!  And think of Abraham, how he was ready to offer up his son, he was ready to take the life of that son that God had said, “Through thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed.”  But Abraham was ready to take the life of even that son (Genesis 22:1-19).  "For not through the law was the promise made to Abraham or to his seed that he should be the heir of the world,  (Genesis 12:3) but through the righteousness of faith.  For if they that are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is made of no effect" (4:12-14) Do you remember how he reasoned the same way in the third chapter of Galatians that the law that came four hundred thirty years after God gave the promise to Abraham, that it did not disannul the promise that God had made to Abraham, that through his seed all nations of the earth would be blessed? 


Verse fifteen, "For the law worketh wrath."  In other words all the people under the law violated the law, and so the wrath of God because of Lev. 18:5 and Deuteronomy 26: 27.  "But where there is no law neither is there transgression.  For this cause it is of faith, that it maybe according to grace; to the end that the promise maybe sure to all seed.  Not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.  As it is written, a father of many nations have I made thee before him whom he believed, even God, who giveth life to the dead and calleth things that are not as though they were.  The father of many nations have I made thee." (4:15-17)  Notice that is a quotation from Genesis chapter seventeen.  At that time Abraham had only one son by Hagar the handmaiden, and this is in Genesis chapter seventeen, and as given in this chapter God gave the law of circumcision and changed his name from Abram to Abraham because “the father of many nations have I made thee.”  Please note that God spoke in past tense! Well, God has the ability to bring it about and the Bible speaks a lot of times as though it has already happened, and sometimes it would be hundreds of years before it actually happened. But God had decided, and he would bring it about.  If we started talking like that, we would be found liars in a hurry, wouldn't we?  But God is not restricted by time, and is not restricted by all of those inabilities to do like we are.  And so he changed Abraham's name from Abram to Abraham, “the father of many nations have I made thee, before him whom he believed, even God, who giveth life to the dead, and calleth the things that are not as though they were (4:17) --"   “God giveth life to the dead.  Abraham, was ninety-nine years old when the promise was given to him that his wife Sarah was going to have a son, and it was also past time for her to be able to bear children (Genesis 18:11).  And he is describing God here as one who  calleth the things that are not as though they were. 


Verse eighteen, "Who in hope, believed against hope.  (Abraham)  to the end that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which hath been spoken, so shall thy seed be."  What does he mean by saying that Abraham “in hope believed against hope?”  He hoped because God had said it would be.  From a human standpoint, there was no room for hope.  Genesis 18:11says, “it had ceased to be with Sarah according to the manner of women”, meaning that she had gone through menopause or the change of life and from a biological standpoint, it was impossible for her to have a son.  But because God said it, Abraham believed it.  "Who in hope believed against hope.  There was no room for hope just on the basis of natural law.  "To the end that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which has been spoken, so shall thy seed be."  And again that is part of Genesis 15:5-6 "And without being weakened in faith, he considered his body, already dead, he being about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb."  See, that is emphasizing again why in “hope he believed against hope”.  Yet Looking unto the promise of God, he wavered not through unbelief, but waxed strong through faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what he had promised he was able also to perform.” (4:18-21) O, if we could just all believe the promises of God, and thereby lay claim for ourselves the blessing of those wonderful promises.  He has given us many wonderful, exceeding great, and precious promises as the apostle Peter said (II Peter 1:3-4).  Abraham believed in the promises of God, being fully assured that what he had promised he was able also to perform. 


Verse twenty-two, "Wherefore also it was reckoned unto him for righteousness.  (Genesis 15:6) Now it was not written for his sake alone that was it reckoned unto him, but for our sake also.  Unto whom it shall be reckoned.  Who believe on him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification." (4:22-25) So Christ was delivered up because of our sins.  II Corinthians 5:21 reads, "Him who knew no sin.  Him he made to be sin in our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God through him."  So He was delivered up for our trespasses and he was raised for our justification”,  just like God through the prophet Isaiah said that he would do more than seven hundred years before Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary!  “ But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray. (not born astray) we have turned everyone to his own way: and Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all”. (Isaiah 53:5-6) Please note that Isaiah 53:5-6 reads in past tense, and yet it was more than seven hundred years before Christ was born of Mary (Luke 1:26-35). We are saved by the resurrection of Christ; he was raised for our justification. 


Chapter Five

"Being therefore justified by faith."  I believe I have read that Martin Luther wrote in the margin of his Bible, faith only.  And this was probably the beginning of that false doctrine of salvation by faith only.  Well, we have already read in verse twenty-five, that we are saved by the resurrection of Christ, right?  And Paul mentions some more things here in chapter five that we are saved by.  I included in the handout an outline entitled THINGS BY WHICH WE ARE SAVED, which lists, as I remember, eighteen or twenty things, and I am not sure that I got all of them then, that the Bible says that we are saved by.  "Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."  Surely no man can be justified who does not have that real faith.  Hebrews 11:6 reads, "Without faith it is impossible to please God.  For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."  That is surely more than just an intellectual faith.  It is the faith that believes that God is and that he will reward the man who does his will.  He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”, that God is a kind, loving and benevolent God.  He will reward those who obey him.  “Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace.  (unmerited favor) Wherein we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  And not only so, but we rejoice in our tribulations."  Sometimes we have trouble with that, rejoicing in our troubles, don't we?    But Paul said, “we rejoice in our tribulations; knowing that tribulations worketh steadfastness, and  steadfastness, approvedness, and approvedness, hope, and hope putteth not to shame, because the love of God has been shed abroad  in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given to us.  For while we were yet weak, in due season Christ died for the ungodly (5:3-6).”   Tribulations will either make a person stronger or weaker, he or she will never be the same! He or she who endures the trouble with real faith and a good attitude will be stronger, and all to the contrary will be weaker. Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.  He did not die for the righteous, because there were none, he died for the ungodly. 


Verse seven, "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; for peradventure the good man some would even dare to die."  The difference between the righteous man and the good man would probably be, the righteous man would treat everybody fairly, he would be just and honest in every way, but not necessarily a very compassionate man, described as a good man, in this passage.  When he says for the good man, that very compassionate man, “some might even dare to die.  But man did not meet either one of those conditions when Christ died for us.  "But God commended his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more, being now justified by his blood."  Again justified, saved by his blood!  So how can anyone get a faith only doctrine from the fifth chapter of Romans? It is not to be found in this chapter or any other chapter of the whole Bible!  "Shall we be saved from the wrath of God through him.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life."  How are we saved by the life of Christ? First it took a perfect person, who kept all of the requirements of the Old Testament to make atonement for sin (Hebrews 1:3-4, 1:9, 4:14-16, 5:8-9, 10:4-10,; I Peter 2:21-25). Secondly, we are saved by the example on His life. And Peter says that Christ has given us an example that we should follow in his steps.  Thirdly, we are saved by his life in that he is our high priest. Hebrews 7:25 reads, “He is able to save to the uttermost them that draw nearer to God through him seeing that he ever liveth to make intercession for saints.  So we are saved by the life of Christ in that respect.  "And not only so but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation,” Through Christ all believers are reconciled to God (II Corinthians 5:17-21). 


"Therefore as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, so death passed to all men, for all men have sinned."  When Adam sinned, he brought as a penalty for sin – spiritual death and physical.  God said to Adam by the sweat of your brow, you are to earn your living until you return to the dust of the earth, “for dust thou art and to dust shall thou return (Gen. 3:21)”.  And, of course, sin separated man from God.  So Adam brought spiritual death and physical death as a result of his sin.  Adam was separated from God by his sin. Genesis 3:24 reads, “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the Garden of Eden the cherubim and the flame of a sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” See also Isaiah 59:1-2. "For until the law."  Remember that it was a long time before the Old Testament law was given.  "For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law."  We understand that in regard to civil laws, don't we?  You do not charge a man for violating a traffic law when there is no traffic law.  If there is not a traffic light, you cannot arrest a man or charge him for running a traffic light.  "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam's transgression, who is a figure of him that was to come."  Adam was a type of Christ, not in likeness, but in the main his example is opposite that of Christ. Adam sinned and brought spiritual death, a separation from God, Isaiah 59: 1-2, and Christ did no sin and He gave spiritual life to all who receive Him (John 5:24-25; Romans 6:3-7; II Corinthians 5:17). One man sinned and brought death and the other man “did no sin” and brought life in righteousness.  Well, I guess we better just count verse 15 start next lesson.