New Testament Survey: Acts-Revelation - Lesson 14

Romans (Part 3)

The law doesn’t give life because commands don’t transform us. Romans 8 says we need the Spirit to transform us. The witness of the Spirit that we are his children is a mystical sense and evidence of our obedience. Paul says all the promises for relationship to God are for the gentiles as well as the Jews. God is in charge of everything. (44:25)

Thomas Schreiner
New Testament Survey: Acts-Revelation
Lesson 14
Watching Now
Romans (Part 3)

Flow assignment on Colossians 1:15-20

D. The triumph of grace over the power of the law (Romans 7:1-8:17)

E. Assurance of hope (Romans 8:18-39)

V. God's righteousness to Israel and the Gentiles (Romans 9:1-11:36)

VI. God's righteousness in everyday life (Romans 12-15)

  • Acts is a continuation of the gospel of Luke, which is a historical account of the life and ministry of Jesus. Acts begins with the 40 days that Jesus was on earth after his resurrection, and continues with his ascension and the work of the Holy Spirit in the early church.

  • Dr. Schreiner was not able to record this lecture for the class, but he provided a transcript that we were able to read to create an audio recording. 

    Acts Chapter 1 is an account of Pentecost and the first times the apostles proclaim gospel publicly.

  • The kerygma is the proclamation of the gospel to nonbelievers. The first presentations were made to people who were familiar with the teachings of the Old Testament. (Begins on page 6 of the outline)

  • The kerygma is the proclamation of the gospel to nonbelievers. The first presentations were made to people who were familiar with the teachings of the Old Testament. Steven’s speech and Paul’s conversion are significant events.  (Begins on page 6 of the outline under Acts: Outline Summary, point I, F.) (43:40)

  • Description of the expansion of the gospel to the gentiles.

  • Beginning in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, Paul calls us to watch for the second coming of Jesus by being aware that there will be a great falling away from the faith in the body of Christ and the Lawless One will appear. When God calls us, his calling creates life. (43:16)

  • God chose not the wise, powerful or noble, but the foolish, weak and despised so that we would know that our relationship with God is based on what Christ did, not what we do. Paul boasts in the power of God, not the wisdom or eloquence of his arguments. The only way we know about God is when the Spirit reveals him to us.

  • The core problem of the Corinthians is pride. God turns everything for our benefit, even things that cause pain or death. The fight of faith is to believe this, even when circumstances are difficult. Only God can judge a person’s relationship to God. (43:36)

  • It’s better to be cheated than to take a fellow believer to court. If you are a fully devoted follower of Christ, your behavior will show it. (44:35)

  • Paul believes in cultural flexibility and contextualization. Paul uses the example of a race as a picture of be motivated to live well. He is saved and needs to live in a way to be saved. Whether or not to eat meat offered to idols is still a significant issue in some cultures. (41:23)


  • Audio content is missing at this time for 1 Corinthians chapters 12-16, 2 Corinthians and Romans chapter 1.

    However, a transcription and outline for this material is provided.  

  • The first of a three-part overview of Paul's epistle to the Romans.
  • Romans 4 tells us what kind of faith Abraham had that was saving faith. You are not saved by working for God, but by believing in God. Hope is confident, sure expectation. Paul’s main rhetorical question is, “Can the law transform us?” His implied answer is "no!" (43:03)

  • The law doesn’t give life because commands don’t transform us. Romans 8 says we need the Spirit to transform us. The witness of the Spirit that we are his children is a mystical sense and evidence of our obedience. Paul says all the promises for relationship to God are for the gentiles as well as the Jews. God is in charge of everything. (44:25)

  • Christ is the very image of the invisible God. He partakes of his essence. Jesus is preeminent, because he’s God and he’s the reconciler of all things. Jesus is Lord of Creation and Lord of the Church. Paul calls the Philippians to unity. (46:43)

  • Summary of main themes in Ephesians. The first three chapters communicate who and what we are in Christ. Chapters 4-6 is the practical outworking. Paul equates maturity with doctrinal purity and stability, not being swayed by every idea. The Christian life isn’t mathematical because it’s a relationship with the Spirit. (43:54)

  • Your view of authorship of biblical documents and how you translate those documents depends quite a bit on your presuppositions. Some people think that because of the vocabulary and the way some subjects are addressed in the Pastoral epistles that Paul did not write them. However, others are convinced that Paul wrote them and offer responses to objections that others have raised. (42:24) This lecture was given by a teaching assistant of Dr. Schreiner's because he had planned to be out of town.

  • God wants to work in our hearts so we are full of love for him and others. Paul gives his testimony as an example that anyone can be saved. God desires to save all, and he elects some. Elders are described as people of character who lead and teach. In Titus, the ethical exhortations are anchored in the gospel. In 2 Timothy, Paul calls on Timothy to suffer for the gospel.

  • We should think of Hebrews as a sermon. The warning passages are exhortations following theological teaching. It was probably not written by Paul. The book was written to Hebrew Christians to warn them against committing apostasy.

  • Christ is more important than Moses. Warning passages encourage us not to drift away or harden our hearts. Since Jesus was fully human, he experienced the full range of temptation, but never gave in. (43:55)

  • The main points in the book of Hebrews beginning with chapter 6. Jesus was a priest in the order of Melchizedek because he was superior to the Levites. Christ’s sacrifice is better than the animal sacrifices because it is once for all. The sacrifices are good because they are a shadow and an image of what is coming, but the sacrifices are temporary and imperfect. (43:55)

  • The author of Hebrews concludes by exhorting people to put into practice the theological truths he has just explained.

  • Defining questions about the content and origin of the epistle of James. (43:01)

  • Summary of the teaching of James on justification and wisdom. (41:58)

  • Peter’s call to look forward to our future inheritance and live as God’s people. (42:35)

  • Flow assignment 1 Peter 2:18-25

    Peter calls followers of Jesus to persevere by responding to suffering in a godly way. (44:48)

  • Concluding verses in 1 Peter and the epistle of 1 John. The purpose of John’s epistles is to give people assurance of their faith.

  • God has given us everything we need for life and godliness.

  • The purpose of Revelation is to encourage suffering saints. (44:47)

  • This lecture was cut short because of technical difficulties during the recording. The audio covers point III. Visions of God, points A and B, beginning with Revelation chapter 4. The next lecture begins at point IV. The Seven Seals, point D.

  • Main ideas in Revelation chapters 6-13.

  • Summary of the last days of judgment and then the creation of the new heavens and new earth. The time for this lecture was shortened to give students time to complete an in-class evaluation. (30:15)

A study of the Acts to Revelation in the framework of the history of the early church. We are missing a few lectures that we hope to record the next time Dr. Schreiner teaches the class. These include lecture numbers 2 and 11, the lecture covering Acts chapters 16-22 and 1 Thessalonians, and the lecture covering Revelation chapter 6.

You may download Dr. Schreiner's complete course outline By clicking on the Resource link and then the Class Outline link. An outline for each lecture displays when you click on the Outline tab on each lecture page.

Dr. Schreiner has developed a system for exegesis. The "Flow and Tracing" handout gives you some information about how he does it. Some lectures include audio of Dr. Schreiner applying this method to specific passages. Dr. Schreiner recommends that you read the chapter in his book, "Interpreting the Pauline Epistles" along with this handout before you try this process.

Dr. Thomas Schreiner
New Testament Survey: Acts-Revelation
Romans (Part 3)
Lesson Transcript


This is the 14th lecture in the online series of lectures on New Testament Survey by Dr Thomas Schreiner. Recommended Reading includes: Article on Divorce and Remarriage – Craig Blomberg, Trinity Journal, 1990; The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross by Leon Morris; Are there Two Will in God by John Piper; Two views on Women in Ministry by James Beck and Craig Blomberg; Word Bible Commentary: Pastoral Epistles, Volume 46, by William D. Mounce and Recovering Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood, by Wayne Gudem and John Piper (article by Vern Poythress entitled, ‘The Church as a Family’)

The law doesn’t give life because commands don’t transform us. Romans chapter 8 says we need the Spirit to transform us. The witness of the Spirit that we are his children is a mystical sense and evidence of our obedience. Paul says all the promises for relationship to God are for the gentiles as well as the Jews. God is in charge of everything. (44:25)

Flow Assignment on Colossians 1:15-20

This is a crucial Christological passage like we saw in Philippians. ‘He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him is all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.’ A word here is ‘for’ by him all things were created, but there are no key words. Of course there is a poetic nature to the text. We have a purpose clause in verse 18, ‘so that in everything he might be preeminent.’ ‘Having made peace’ is all one word in Greek, a participle. This is a very rich text.

E. Assurance of Hope (Romans 8:18-39)

So Paul has argued in chapter 7 against the typical Jewish view that the Law doesn’t give life. Commands don’t transform us. The Law itself gives us no capacity to change. It simply gives us commands; so we need the Spirit of God in our lives. We need God’s spirit to transform us so that we are able to keep God’s Law. Paul doesn’t argue that there are no commands at all in the Christian life. Instead he argues that when the Spirit comes, he grants us ability to keep God’s law. That is very clear in verses 1-4. The Law of the Spirit (8:2) of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. Christ died so that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, those who do not walk according to the flesh, but walk according to the Spirit. Those of us who have the Spirit do what the Law says, not perfectly but significantly; there is a changed life here. And that is what he goes on to say. Those who are of the flesh live according to the flesh. Those of the Spirit live according to the Spirit. Flesh and Spirit are ways of talking about believers and non-believers. This is about those who are in the new redemptive age of the Spirit and those who are in the old redemptive age of the flesh; so you are either one or the other. If you have the Spirit, you are a Christian; if you don’t then you are not a believer. Russell Morris preached on this passage in chapel. Verse 13, those who have the Spirit put to death the sins of the body by the power of the Spirit. The desire for sin still arises in us as believers, so Paul isn’t arguing for sinless perfection but he is arguing that the power of the Spirit grants us the ability and strength to say no. So when he says in verse 14, ‘for all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God’, he doesn’t mean all those who receive guidance from the Spirit. When we refer to the Spirit we usually use words like guidance, directing and letting. But here he means - are you obeying him? And all those who are led by the Spirit and obeying him; those are the children of God.

The evidence that we are the children of God is that we are different. Paul is still arguing against the Jewish view that the Torah changes people. His argument is that it is the Spirit who changes people. We have a supernatural source to live a new life; that source is the power of the Spirit. People think that Paul is talking about perfection but he is not. Instead Paul is talking about a remarkable change, not perfection. I think this is the way to solve the tension in these verses. Those of us who are Christians have the witness of the Spirit within us that we belong to God. I would argue that this is a mystical, ineffable, indescribable sense from the Holy Spirit that we are his children. But it is matched by obedience; so it is not just saying that you are a Christian without fully understanding the commitment that is associated with such a statement, especially without having any evidence of it. The Spirit tells us that we are saved and that we are different now. I am a different person from what I used to be because of the cross work of Christ within me. I think this is what Paul is arguing here.

In chapter 8:18 and following, Paul speaks of the groaning of the created world and in our own lives. We live in a fallen world, yet we have the Spirit of God within us in this fallen world. Ever since sin came into the world, sin has abounded ever increasing with death and destruction of the created order. The perfectly created and beautiful world is being corrupted by the fall. It is not just us who have fallen but it is also the created world and we look forward to a new heaven and new earth and a transformed universe also. That explained the horrors that take place in this world, evil rulers, natural disasters, etc., all being very destructive. The beauty that we see still shows itself from that which was once perfect. So Paul argues that we as Christians, we still groan, even though we are adopted as sons of God, we await that final adoption. This is that beautiful, already not yet character of Pauline theology. We are adopted and redeemed and we wait for that final adoption. We await the final redemption. In the mean time we groan of the difficulties of this life, because everything in it is still touched by the cruse, even though we belong to the Spirit. There are many good things in this life but there is nothing that is perfect. Everything has been touched by sin and this fallen nature. Sometimes people want heaven now and they leave jobs, friends, places, home and even marriage to look for that perfect situation. They leave good seminaries and schools to find perfect ones but they are not going to find it. People leave churches for that reason. Some people just hop from church to church to church as other people hop from marriage to marriage to marriage looking for perfection but they are not going to find it.

At the same time Paul is remarkable optimistic. He doesn’t just say vanity, all is vanity. Paul’s attitude is realistic and optimistic at the same time. When you look at Pauline eschatology and Paul’s view of the Christian life; we see that there is hope. Chapter 8:26-27, because we live in an already, yet, not yet place, we don’t always know what to pray for. We don’t know what to pray for because of this. As Christians, we don’t always know what God’s will is. But then he says that the Spirit prays for us through our groaning. Those prayers are always answered because the Spirit knows what God’s will is for us. We are not conscious what the Spirit is praying but that He is praying for us. This is a great comfort to us, isn’t it? We are still encouraged to pray; Paul doesn’t say that we are not to pray. He is sayings that as we groan and not know what to pray for; the Spirit does this and is a remarkable help to us. Some interpretations say that this is praying in tongues; I don’t think this is what it’s talking about. If this were true, it would only comfort people who speak in tongues. There is no evidence that Paul is limiting this to tongues. Gordon Fee argues this very strongly.

8:28 and following; ‘we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.’ We know that everything works together for good; that is not the same thing as everything being intrinsically present. The good here is being conformed to the image of Christ. Everything that comes into our lives, God uses to make us like Christ and here he is thinking particularly of salvation. So you have the promise and you have the foundation. Everything is working for good because God fore knew us, predestined us, called us, justified us and glorified us. This has often been called the golden chain because every link in that chain is secure from fore knowing to glorifying. God promises that he will glorify you. It is as good as done. When it says that he fore knew us, this word ‘fore know’ when used of God doesn’t merely mean that God looks ahead and sees what we will do. He looks ahead and I see that you will believe. In the Bible, fore know means that God set his covenantal affection upon people. It means that God has chosen a certain people. This is within his covenantal saving grasp. In verse 2:3 it says that you only have I known among the nations of the earth. Of course he knows all the nations of the earth. But you are the only nation that I have set my covenantal affection. You are the object of my covenantal love. That is even related to marriage because in the Old Testament, sexual relations are described by the word ‘know’, a covenantal union. Verse 29, those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. All of those who are called are justified, therefore called can’t mean invited. All those who are called are justified. If you don’t hold to unconditional election, how can you possible hold to eternal security? The most difficult issue in the five points of Calvin is the issue of perseverance. If you would give up anything, it would be the perseverance of the saints. Preferential theology is choosing to get in through your own choice. But everything works together for good.

Verses 31-39 Paul sums this up by saying, ‘if God is for us, who can be against us?’ There are a lot of people against us: Satan, unbelievers, friends and even other Christians. But the point here that no one can conquer us now. No one can win against us now. God has already given us his son and when he has given us his son, he has given us everything. Nothing that comes into our lives can triumph over us because we have God’s Son in our lives. Who will bring a charge against us in the last days? Satan will and other people, even our friends and our family members! Our own consciences can remind us of all the sins we have committed. But what matters is what Christ has done in our lives. Christ is at the right hand of God interceding for us. We hold on to the fact that Christ died and rose from dead for us. Nothing can separate us from the love of God; neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor power, nor height, nor depth nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Sometimes Christians starve to death, sometimes we are persecuted and tortured and called all sorts of names even by the people we assume to be friends. What would cause us to abandon Christ? The Scriptures say that the love of God will keep us in Christ. He will not let you go.

V. God’s Righteousness to Israel and the Gentiles (Romans 9:1-11:36)

We see in Paul’s argument that God will fulfil his promises to the Jews. All those promises he made to the Jews will come true. But he never promised that every ethic Jew will be saved. In 9:6-13 it is through Isaac that our descendants will be counted. The children of promise are counted as descendants. If God chose Jacob and not Esau before they were born, this seems to be not fair but God said to Moses ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ Exodus 33:19 God says that he will make all his goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of Jehovah before you; and will be gracious to whom he will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom he will show mercy. This means that nobody deserves to be saved. It is not a deserved right to be saved. Those who are condemned deserve to be condemned. God is not an equal opportunity Savior in this sense. We do choose salvation but we being saved don’t depend on that choice. We being saved depend on God’s mercy. God even raises up evil to accomplish his purposes, but God is not evil. God is even in charge of wicked rulers like Pharaoh. God is in control and he raises up armies, leaders, dictators, people to accomplish his purposes and yet he is not stained with evil; a mystery of revelation. God is sovereign over everything and working his purpose out. He gives mercy to those he chooses and hardens those he chooses to harden. He finds fault on those who resists his will. Who are we to question God; he can do whatever he wants. Paul is explaining this to those who ask, ‘how does this work?’ For those who are rebellious and question God’s authority, Paul basically reminds us that we are nothing compared to God. Our intellect cannot challenge God. We should be careful in thinking that we could be smarter than God. We do not have anywhere the wisdom of what God has. To think this, borders on blasphemy.

God doesn’t explain everything to us as if he needs our agreement on any one thing. Job wanted an answer to why things happen, but God said to him, ‘I am God. I created the world and I keep it running. What do you have to do with it and what do you know about it? Hardly anything! Just trust me! I am sovereign and your job isn’t to figure it all out. You job is to trust me. I think this is what Job 38-42 is all about. Salvation history has been arranged in such a way that both his wrath and his mercy would be shown. But predestination doesn’t cancel out the significance of human choosing! Some people think it does but I don’t think it does in Scripture. God wanted to display his mercy which shines against the backdrop of wrath. It is seen as mercy when we see that others deserve judgement. So what is Paul’s point in Romans 9-11? God is a God of surprises. You have Israel, waiting in expectation to when the Messiah would come, thinking that they would be saved. After all they’re the chosen people! And God mainly said, ‘no’; no, I am going to save the Gentiles.’ Some wonder about why God chose the Jews as his people as there were others, but how like God to choose a little insignificant people to glorify himself. Then there was Israel thinking they were great because God chose them and when he came, he said no and chose the gentiles instead. And he tells the gentiles in Romans 9-11, ‘don’t you become proud. Don’t you begin to think that you are better.’ Interestingly how we struggle against pride and arrogance. God wants us to depend upon him and his mercy and his grace. Paul indicates that at the end of history, there is another surprise coming, all Israel will be saved! This is still to come (Romans 11:26). When the fullness of the gentiles come in at the very end of history, closely associated with the second coming of Christ. Christ will come and Israel will believe. I don’t think that every Jew in history and the world will be saved. Those who don’t believe in Christ will be damned forever. I think that there will be an end generation of Israel; a great majority of Jews will turn to Christ and be saved. Why, because God has chosen them. Some people consider this Israel to be the church but I don’t think this is the case according to the context. In Galatians 6:16, I have already argued that Israel there refers to the church. But here, I think it refers to the Jewish nation. So Israel will be saved by trusting in Jesus. Some think that Israel will be saved without believing in Christ but this doesn’t make any sense.

VI. God’s Righteousness in Everyday Life (Romans 12-15)

You can sum up the Christian life in Romans 12:1-2, give your whole life to God as a living sacrifice. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. God works this out in our lives in terms of spiritual gifts, loving one another and loving our enemies, and being rightly related to the state. The Jews were always concerned about purity laws, observant of the Sabbath and other days while the gentiles would not be. And Paul basically sides with the gentiles. Foods don’t matter, days don’t matter and he says that if it isn’t required for salvation, but you must be gentle with them. Paul tells them that they are not required to do what the Jews do but don’t cause them to stumble. Don’t crush them over these things; be gentle with those who have different views.