Romans Study with Terry Smith and Jerry Hollis. Welcome to a Zoom class that is interactive with significant  stories shared. Below is that video, and under it is the document.




A friend of mine, who is my mentor in many ways, wrote a book several years ago about “living with biblical tensions,  (Klyne Snodgrass, Between Two Truths). The Apostle Paul addresses this specifically in chapters 14 and 15 of Romans. But Paul’s awareness of these tensions can be seen throughout the letter.

Tensions arising from two different interpretations of the same Scripture have resulted in divided churches, church splits, and in many cases, broken relationships between people who were lifelong friends. Can both interpretations be right? Yes! And that’s where the tension is! An urban church may have a completely different way of doing things than a suburban church (e.g., how they worship, how they dress, even how they smell).  If those two churches decide to merge there will be some tension. But that does not mean they cannot be one church. As we move forward in this magnificent letter we will discover how that is possible.

Let’s begin with the most unlikely (impossible) and incomprehensible Truth:  Sinful Human Beings can have a relationship, not just as servants, but as CHILDREN of  GOD, who is Perfectly HOLY, RIGHTEOUS, and JUST.

  1. Martin Luther, as a young Augustinian monk, struggled with the meaning of the phrase iustitia Dei (“the justice of God”) in his Latin Bible. (“In Greek the phrase is δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ, which is better translated ‘the righteousness of God.’”— Epistle to the Romans (NIGTC) by Richard N. Longenecker.
  1. LUTHER:  “I greatly longed to understand Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, “the justice [‘ righteousness’] of God,” because I took it to mean that justice [‘ righteousness’] whereby God is just [‘ righteous’] and deals justly      [‘ righteously’] in punishing the unjust [‘ unrighteous’]. My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage him. Therefore, I did not love a just [‘ righteous’] and angry God, but rather hated and murmured against him.”
  1. THINK ABOUT THIS:   Your neighbor comes  over to your house one evening. He/she is distraught! He/she relates to you his/her despair and anger toward God. What would you say to them to give them hope?  (Jot some thoughts down.) 


Romans 1:18-32 God’s Wrath against Human Rebellion, Idolatry, and Debauchery 

  1. Paul does not usually begin his letters with such scathing remarks. As is true today for many of us, this kind of teaching was reserved for a pastoral teaching setting after someone became a Christian. But we do have to address these life and death issues. There is the view now which is permeating our teenagers’ thinking that sex outside of marriage is okay and anything short of sexual intercourse is not sex. 
  1. Paul uses material drawn from Wis 13–14 (the Apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon)  in speaking about idolatries, immoralities, and injustices, but he does not use the word ethnos (Gentiles, nations, heathen. This is an indictment of humanity. If you read the Old Testament you will see these same sins among Israelites. The punishment for many of them was death by stoning. {We are horrified today that this is still true in much of the Arab world, especially in Muslim countries. But also in primitive societies.}
  1. What lies at  the root of all this behavior? Look in your Bible!
  1. God views behavior in relationships, first of all, our relationship with him, but also, our personal relationships as determined from the beginning. Therefore, whatever threatens these relationships by
  • Challenging the moral order of established by God or 
  • Perverting relationships among people or
  • substituting worship of idols, which were created by human beings, are capital offenses! (Do you agree with that statement? Support your.answer.)
  1. God’s Wrath (orge). Share your concept of God’s wrath.
  1. Many believe God’s wrath is something reserved for the end times. The wrath of God is being revealed against all the godlessness and wickedness of people who suppress the truth 4by their wickedness. This passage highlights the present expression of God‘s wrath and the fact that divine judgment is directed against every type of godlessness and wickedness.
  1. What would you say is the antidote for all of these? Respond to this question before you read the next paragraph.
  1. Thank Paul declares here in 1:21 that the antidote to idolatry, immorality, and injustice is a heart that glorifies God by praising him and giving him thanks –both for who he is and for what he has done (and continues to do) in his works of creation and redemption. That antidote appears in many ways throughout Paul’s letters. 

Romans 2:1-16. God’s Condemnation of All Who Sin Is Just and Impartial.

  1. We sometimes hear the words, “Life is not fair!” What they are really saying is, “God is not fair. God is not just. God is arbitrary.”
  1. Let’s think of our Supreme Court. When they make a ruling it is not supposed to be based on what they think or feel. It should be based on an interpretation of the Constitution of the United States. God‘s statements about how we should live this life were established before Creation.

Romans 2:17-29. It is no longer true that the Jews get special privileges because they have had the Mosaic Law for 1400 years 

  1. Wisdom of Solomon points out in Wis 15 that the sins listed in Wis 14 didn’t apply to the Jews, because they had a special relationship with God—even if they were guilty of the same sins.
  1. Paul refutes that idea. “God judges people not on the basis of what they know, believe, or affirm about him and his will, but on the basis of their doing what they know to be the will of God. Throughout 2:1-16 Paul reverberates the central theme of the importance of actually doing God‘s will, not just claiming to know God‘s will.” (RNL)
  1. The name “Jew” became prominent during the Maccabean period. Origen points out that the real Jew is not the one who wears the name, but the one whose circumcision is in the heart, who keeps the law in spirit and not according to the letter, whose praise is from God and not men. Cf. Romans 2:25-29.
  1. As Christians, what can we learn from what Paul says in this chapter?