Exposition to the Book of Romans 1


Every time my spiritual children study the book of Romans, they come back to me bombard me with questions which I have had to attend to over and over in this year alone.
When you read the book of Romans, you are likely to conclude that faith is all it takes. But as true as that conclusion is, it has misled and it is still misleading many people. In fact, that is where the ‘once saved forever saved’ folks got their confusion from. Many years ago, I wrote a book titled “The Knot in Romans” where I discuss the book of Romans line by line but I am yet to publish it.
To understand a book especially the epistles, you need to understand the context of those books. That is, WHY IT WAS WRITTEN TO THOSE IT WAS WRITTEN TO WHEN IT WAS WRITTEN?
In Paul’s days, there were two types of believers: the Jewish believers and the gentile believers. The Jews were simply the Israelites while the gentiles were the non-Israelites. The Jewish believers were very possessive and were racists. At first, they argued that the gentiles should not be preached to at all. But after Peter’s encounter in Cornelius’ house and Paul’s aggressive evangelism among the gentiles, the argument shifted to ‘they must observe the works of the law before they can be saved’.
Let me inform you that, every time you come across ‘law’ or ‘works of the law’ in the book of Romans or in any other Epistles, it is largely referring to circumcision. Let me take that again. Eighty percent of the times Paul argued against the law in the book of Romans, he was talking about circumcision.
If you are a Christian today especially a gentile, you really have no idea why circumcision could be so much of an issue back then. And that explains why many of us find the book of Romans confusing. We try to relate it contemporary times but it doesn’t fit.
Then, the Jewish believers who were also known as circumcised believers insisted that for anyone (male) to become a Christian, such must be circumcised according to the Law of Moses. That is, a part of his genital must be cut off before such can be counted as Christian. (It should be noted that Jews do not relate with the uncircumcised). This argument was so fierce that the council in Jerusalem wrote a letter to the gentiles (uncircumcised believers) but it didn’t end there.
It was so serious that Paul had to circumcise Timothy, a full grown man. It was so serious that Peter stopped eating and mixing with the gentile believers when he sighted other Jewish believers. Paul had to scold Uncle Peter openly. It was so serious that Paul dedicated most of the book of Romans to it and mentioned it severally in other Epistles. It was so serious that Paul referred to those circumcision folks as dogs that is, “butchers of flesh” (Phil. 3:2). It was so serious that many Galatian converts were falling for the bait and Paul had to scream angrily “O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you”. As a result, the second book of the Bible that talks so much about Law, Faith and Grace after Romans is Galatians.
Back to the book of Romans, Paul repeatedly said faith is all it takes to be saved. And when you are saved, you are saved, no further work is needed. The circumcision sects however said, you can be saved but after you are saved, you need to be circumcised as well (Gal. 3:1-2).
The question here is, what kind of faith was Paul talking about and what kind of salvation was he talking about?
In case you don’t know, there are up to five classifications of faith, many types of grace and there are up to three levels of salvation (justification, sanctification and glorification). Paul mostly emphasized only one. The one he emphasized was the SAVING FAITH, the SAVING GRACE and the JUSTIFICATION level of Salvation.
After reading the book of Romans someone asked me that if we still need to serve in God’s house after salvation. Some have asked, “does it mean we will automatically make heaven whether we live in sin or not?” and many more similar questions.
Saving Faith means you believe that the death of Jesus is all you need to have all your sins forgiven, and to be acceptable before God when praying and relating with Him. It is just like a visa. With it you can enter United States of America without changing your skin colour into white. The Jewish believers however argued that the gentiles needed their skin colours to be changed.
After entering the United States, there are acceptable standard of behavior required of you to remain in the land. In Christianity, that is what we call holy living. Holy living is not what you do to be saved but what you do to remain saved and to be saved eternally. “…work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14 NLT)
Many miss this part when reading the book of Romans because Paul didn’t place much emphasis on it. He wrote more about the visa part which was the major argument at that time, most especially among the Romans.
The next time you are read the book of Romans, read it with this understanding. Where you see law, see it mostly as circumcision and where you see salvation, see it mostly as Justification. And try to read the book of Galatians before reading Romans. It addresses almost the same thing as Romans but in much simpler language.
Consider the extract below. The words in bracket are mine.
“Knowing that a man is not justified (saved) by the works of the law, but by the (saving-) faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified (saved) by the (saving-) faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law (act of circumcision); for by the works of the law (circumcision) shall no flesh be justified (saved).” (Galatians 2:16)


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