Romans 1

The Word Made Fresh

1Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the good news of God, 2the gospel God promised many years ago through the prophets of the sacred scriptures, 3the good news about God’s Son who, according to the genealogical records, was a descendant of David, 4and who is declared to be Jesus Christ our Lord through his resurrection from the dead. 5Through him we have received grace and been given a mission to bring faith to all the Gentiles for his name’s sake. 6This includes all of you who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ.

7To all of you in Rome, God’s beloved ones, who are called to be saints:

Grace to you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

8First of all I want to thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you because your faith has been reported throughout the world. 9I serve God with all my heart, announcing the good news of his son, and God who is my witness knows that I am constantly praying for you without ceasing. 10I ask God that I might somehow find a way to come to you in person, 11because I yearn to see you face to face so that I might be able to strengthen your faith through some gift of the Spirit. 12I pray that we might be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13I want you to know, friends, that I have been longing to come to you, though I have been prevented, so that I might enjoy some success among you as I have with the other Gentiles. 14I am indebted to both Greeks and others, whether wise or foolish, 15and that is why I am eager to also proclaim the gospel to you who are in Rome.

16I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the tool God uses to bring salvation to everyone who believes; first to Jews, but also to the Gentiles. 17In the gospel God’s righteousness is revealed through faith to give us faith. It is written, “Those who are righteous will live by faith.”

18God’s anger is seen from heaven, against ungodly and wicked suppression of the truth, because they have been shown what can be known about God. 19What can be known about God is clear to them because God has revealed it to them. 20Since the world was created God’s power and holiness, though invisible, are obvious because of the things God has made. So, they have no excuse. 21They knew God, but weren’t grateful nor did they honor God as God. Thus, their ideas were futile, and their minds were dark and senseless. 22They claimed to be wise, but had become foolish, 23They ignored the glory of the eternal God and made images resembling mortal humans, or birds, or four-footed animals, or even reptiles.

24Because of that, God gave them up to their lust and impurity and the degradation of their own bodies 25because they traded the truth about God with a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.

26This is why God gave them up to their sinful passions. Their women gave up natural sexual behavior for things that are unnatural. 27And the men gave up natural intercourse with women and were consumed with passion for one another. Men performed shameless acts with other men and received the penalty due because of their perverted activities.

28Then, since they didn’t think it good to acknowledge God, God surrendered them to their wickedness and to those things that should not be done. 29They are full of every wicked thing with their covetousness and sinfulness. They are envious, murderous, full of division and deceit and craftiness. They gossip. 30They slander. They hate God. They are insolent and haughty. They are braggarts who invent all kinds of evil. They rebel against their own parents. 31They are fools who are faithless, heartless, and cruel. 32They are well aware that God has decreed that those who engage in such things deserve to die, but they not only continue to do them, but even applaud others who embrace such practices.


There are 22 books remaining in the Bible, and 21 of them are letters (though a couple of them read more like sermons). Most scholars accept the traditional designation of Romans as a genuine letter of Paul’s. It is dictated by Paul to a companion whose name is Tertius, who serves as his secretary (see 16:22).

1-7: One reason the letter seems genuinely to be from Paul is that the opening paragraph melds comfortably with Paul’s closing speech in Acts (Acts 28:23-29). Paul is convinced that the coming of Jesus, including his death and resurrection, was foretold by the prophets, and convinced as well that his particular calling is to proclaim Jesus to the Gentiles. He found followers of the Way in Rome and in some of the nearby towns (Forum of Appius and Three Taverns are mentioned at Acts 28:14-15) when he first arrived there, and this letter purports to be for them. It was circulated widely throughout the Mediterranean world pretty quickly, though. We have seen how groups of Christians seem to have sprung up nearly everywhere Paul has traveled, and I have marveled at the mobility of the population throughout the Roman world. Verse 4 is the first time in the Bible the name “Jesus Christ our Lord” is used, and verse 7 is the first occurrence in the Bible of “God our Father” and “the Lord Jesus Christ.” It is clear that in Paul we meet the premiere theologian of the apostolic age.

8-15: Paul gives thanks for them and tells them about his longing to visit them, and from that most scholars conclude that the letter is being written from Corinth or thereabouts just before Paul makes his final trip to Jerusalem. But his statement that he has thus far been “prevented” from traveling to Rome leads me to imagine that this letter may have been written from Caesarea where he had been held as a prisoner for a couple of years. Perhaps the reason Paul appealed his case to Caesar was for the purpose of finally getting to Rome.

16-17: The good news of Jesus Christ reveals the righteousness of God through faith, he says. In other words, the rightness of God’s plan to use the Jews to reach the rest of the world can only be discerned through faith.

18-23: Those who do not have faith have no excuse, he says, because the very existence of creation is evidence enough of God’s power. Those who deny it are fools regardless of how wise they seem to be in the ways of the world. He takes a jab at idol worship. How can a carved image of an animal replace the immortal, invisible God who created the universe?

24-25: It is this mistaken direction of worship toward idols instead of toward God that causes people to behave in ways that degrade the human spirit.

26-31: God’s reaction to their worship of non-gods is to simply give them up to their passions and allow them to give up the gift of eternal life. It is not so much that God condemns sinners; God simply allows us to choose life or death, and if we choose death he honors our choice. Paul provides a long list of the kinds of behaviors practiced by those who do not submit to God’s rule, illustrating how godlessness spreads through the whole community as those who have no morals corrupt others by encouraging them in the same sinful behaviors.


Faith in God through Jesus Christ is the way to salvation and eternal life.