How long will it take to get through 16 chaptes of Romans? It took almost 8 months for the first 1/8th. Just saying… I’ll pause each two chapters along the way for an index with links and a few sentence summary of the section. Then we’ll go on with Romans 3 and other domains of knowing truth and knowing each other.
Introduction – – as much as possible, a plain language, apply to today approach to what Christian believers call the greatest letter and skeptics call an example of fine ancient literature in high Greek.
Romans 1:1-7 – – Paul introduces himself as a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ. Did Paul exist? Did Jesus exist? These are relevant questions of modern skepticism. The text says yes – – open to all assertions of circularity. We’ll have to look for external corroboration in scripture and in cognitive resonance. All three persons of the trinity are introduced, a theme to which we’ll return. The key word of Romans, in my opinion the key word of life, is penned: grace.
Romans 1:8-15 – – Gratitude for believers and a constant desire for mutual encouragement. A fellowship of believers can be, should be, a beautiful thing. Why then do we fail? We are selfish and fallen. Paul is obliged to share the good news of grace to as many as will listen. Burdened? No. Obliged. There is a difference.
Romans 1:16-17 – – Not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the core of who I am. I believe that faith in Jesus is reasonable. I’m not angry with atheists, agnostics, free thinkers or skeptics. Neither am I ashamed of what I believe. It is fair to ask me to explain it.
Romans 1:18-20 – – Why is God angry? The very concept of an angry God may be a reason to disbelieve. However, is it consistent? We are supposedly made in God’s image. Do we get angry? What can be known about God through nature? Will biology and physics prove or disprove God? Or – – can we know God’s invisible attributes: eternal power and divine nature, through the limits of the very small and the very large?
Romans 1:21-23 – – Who are they? The they that are without excuse. Who are they? Any definition of they that excludes us is fatally flawed. Start here and stay here. I am they, so I will not despise or marginalize another.
Romans 1:24-27 – – I wrote an introduction to this passage here. I was (and am) concerned that believers have reduced Romans 1 to an injunction against the practice of homosexuality. Read slowly and with compassion. Hard questions came from this passage. Please ask these questions. Please listen to others for their answers.
Romans 1:28-32 – – Who are they? We are they. Any sin required all of Christ’s blood. That is the offense of the cross. That is what I want to yell from the pews in church this morning. We are they. Stop marginalizing. No one needed a savior more than me. You will never understand grace if you think wrath is for another.
Romans 2 introduction: Romans 2 stands against Christian hypocrisy. How many people have barriers to belief because I fail to follow Christ authentically? More than a few.
Romans 2:1-3 – – The fallen heart in Romans 1 will be judged. Not by me – – I’m just as corrupt.
Romans 2:4-5 – – How were we turned from God’s wrath? By his kindness. How then could we withhold his kindness from another?
Romans 2:6-11 – – Is it just for disobedient self-seekers like me to receive wrath and fury? Yes it is just. Is it just for me to receive trouble and distress for the evil I do? Yes it is just. Do I want God to be just? I do. I agree with the skeptics that a God of injustice clashes with the moral sense that I claim he put within me. Yes – – I want God to be just. Can I afford that justice? No. No I can’t.
Romans 2:12-16 – – What does this paragraph in Romans 2 teach me? God will judge us by the knowledge that he gives us. What about hell? If you are not perplexed and disturbed by hell with the sense of justice that God authored in your soul – – you should be.
Romans 2:17-24 – – The only problem that I have with the comprehensive lists that skeptics have compiled of wrongs done by Christ-followers is this – – I think that the Christ-followers should have written the lists.
Romans 2:25-29 – – Who are the Jews, both then and now? A small tribe in a vast land that just hasn’t gone away. Does God break his promises when we do? Is there a reasonable basis for Christian anti-semitism or should it be confronted as false?
Selah and shalom my friends. I’m going to address Rafols as to why truth is truth. Its time to expound on Plato, and the arrow of time, and the weight of history. I will return, will always return, to scripture. It is meaningful to me because it provides the lens through which I view the world. But I am almost insatiably curious about life and the world and I hope our journey together will last many years. Thank you so much for joining.