Day Three Hundred Forty, Romans 1-3
As I just finished the readings from II Corinthians, which contains some of my favorite NT writings, I now have the pleasure of moving into Romans. I'll just be honest and say that Romans contains some of my least favorite NT teachings, besides the book of Revelation. It's got some pretty weighty theological stuff that's just not easy. But we'll get to that soon enough.
I've heard it said by someone who's pretty knowledgable about the book of Romans, that "Romans is a better gospel than the gospels." I'm not sure I'm willing to go that far, considering my personal feelings toward that, but I'll give you this...Paul knows his stuff, and it shows more in this book than in any other of his. He starts out with, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith.'"
Paul begins his teaching by talking about the Gentiles and how they have lived without the law of God. He talks of all the things that they have done that are unlawful, and he claims that still, even without having been given the law, they should have known better. "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Paul says that even without they law, God should be evident from nature itself. However, the Gentiles refused to worship God and went off on their own way. So God let them go off on their own way.
However, just as he is finished making his case against the Gentiles and their way of life, Paul turns on the Jews and tells them that "you, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things."
Paul goes on to talk about how the law cannot justify--it only condemns those tho whom it was given. Neither can circumcision justify. So Paul's conclusion is plain. "Jews and Gentiles 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 on who does good, not even one.'"
That's a pretty bleak conclusion for this first day of Romans, if you ask me...doesn't sound too much like 'gospel' just yet...but it'll get better.