Romans - Lesson 8

Class Discussion on Romans 1:18-28

This lesson is a class discussion regarding Romans 1:18-28.

Lesson 8
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Class Discussion on Romans 1:18-28

Discussion on Romans 1:18-28

A. The Ungodliness and Unrighteousness of People

B. The Choice of Following God

C. The Exclusivity to the Claims of Christ

D. Sin and Wrath is Universal

E. We Live in a Pluralist Word where Truth is Lost

F. We Live in a sinful World but God’s spirit is Active within it

G. Homosexuality and Idolatry

  • This lesson offers a deep dive into Paul's Letter to the Romans, revealing its pastoral aims, Paul's intentions to visit Spain, Jerusalem, and Rome, and its relevance to early Christian dynamics and theological inquiries about the Law in Christ's time.
  • This lesson offers a fresh view of Paul's theology, focusing on Romans. It emphasizes the first-century context, highlighting Gentile inclusion and unity in Christ, challenging traditional views. Gain insights into Paul's message and its relevance today.
  • Explore the book of Romans for modern faith conflicts: balance tradition with contemporary practices, learn from history, and grasp Paul's ministry and Gospel's complexities.
  • Follow along with Dr. Moo as he begins a thorough review of Romans 1:2-5. You will learn how Paul emphasizes Jesus' earthly life, resurrection, and his appointment as the Son of God in power. This lesson examines the interconnectedness of faith and obedience, underscoring that while faith initiates salvation, genuine faith inherently entails obedience to Christ as Lord, maintaining a balanced Christian life.
  • By delving into Romans 1:16-17, you'll understand the Gospel extends beyond individual salvation, encompassing God's reign over creation and His establishment of justice. The Gospel challenges worldly powers, offering hope and transformation to all who embrace it.
  • Listen along as the class discusses questions and answers revolving around Romans 1:16-17.
  • In Romans 1:18-28, you learn that all people are held accountable by God, having knowledge of Him through natural revelation but some turn away. This passage highlights the manifestation of God's wrath against sin, the exchange of truth for falsehoods, and the absence of excuses for humanity's actions, ultimately emphasizing God's fair judgment.
  • Listen in as the class and Dr. Moo discuss aspects of Romans 1:18-28.
  • The lesson discusses Romans 2:1-11, it highlights the use of the diatribe device and the transition from focusing on Gentiles to Jews. It underscores the Jewish belief in their special status and their potential misunderstanding of God's judgment. The lesson reviews the focus of the text on key themes such as judgment, righteousness, and the relationship between faith and good deeds.
  • In this lesson, you'll review the significance of the Law, notably the Law of Moses, in God's judgment. Paul stresses that mere knowledge of the Law isn't sufficient for righteousness; obedience is key. The primary message is that salvation ultimately relies on God's grace and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as human efforts and consciences alone cannot secure salvation. This lesson highlights the importance of understanding these concepts in interactions with people of different religious beliefs.
  • The key takeaway in this lesson is that while being a Jew comes with a great heritage, it doesn't guarantee salvation. Obedience to God's law is crucial, and reliance on religious heritage or rituals won't save you. The lesson emphasizes the universal human condition of being under the power of sin, and people cannot be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the Law or by the works of the Law. Only through faith in Christ are we made righteous.
  • This lesson explores the New Perspective on Paul, emphasizing that the Law was for Jewish covenant status, not just salvation. It promotes a holistic faith view, balancing vertical and horizontal aspects, Spirit-led obedience, and 1st-century Judaism diversity, enriching Pauline teachings in the church.
  • In exploring Romans 3:21-26, you'll gain insights into the relationship between righteousness, faith, and salvation. Paul highlights God's righteousness, which is accessible to all through faith in Jesus Christ. By weaving together themes of righteousness, faith, and inclusivity, Paul challenges conventional Jewish and Gentile perspectives, emphasizing the continuity of God's salvation plan while underscoring the centrality of faith in Christ for all believers.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insights into the potential challenge in translating Romans 3:23-24, particularly the term "all" and its connection to the debate on universalism in evangelicalism. Dr. Moo stresses the importance of coherence in biblical interpretation and explores the themes of God's righteousness, faith, and grace in justification. The lesson reviews the cultural background of redemption, drawing parallels with the Greco-Roman slave market and emphasizing the need to understand both the problem of sin and the Gospel solution.
  • Embarking on this lesson, you'll gain insight into the historical development and contemporary challenges surrounding the doctrine of justification. Through exploring classic Reformation principles and contemporary reassessments, you'll understand the tensions between Protestant and Roman Catholic perspectives, particularly regarding the infusion of righteousness and the role of grace.
  • The lesson explores the intricate connection between faith and works, justification, and sanctification in contemporary theological discourse. It delineates divergent views on justification, with scholars like Piper advocating for the preservation of biblical distinctions amidst modern theological trends. The lesson examines key questions regarding the meaning, basis, time, and means of justification.
  • Students in Dr. Moo's class ask multiple questions about justification.
  • By studying Romans 3:27-4:25, you gain insight into Paul's theology, where faith, exemplified by Abraham's righteousness, transcends works and ethnicity, emphasizing the universal scope of salvation through Christ.
  • Hear the questions the students ask regarding Romans 3:27–4:25. And discover Dr. Moo's answers to the questions posed.
  • In Romans 5 – 8, you gain insights into profound theological concepts like justification, identity in Christ, and the tension between present reality and future hope, guiding you to embrace your changed identity and hope for future transformation amidst life's trials.
  • Students as deep questions about Romans 5-8. Hear what Dr. Moo presents as answers to their questions.
  • Through Romans 5:1-11, you'll review the contrast between the Old and New Realms, understanding the essence of living in grace, finding hope amid suffering, and experiencing the assurance of eternal security rooted in Christ's sacrifice and God's love poured into believers' hearts by the Holy Spirit.
  • In Romans 5:12-21, Paul contrasts Adam's sin with Christ's redemptive grace, emphasizing humanity's hope and victory over death through union with Christ, while various interpretations of original sin underscore the universal need for redemption and Christ's pivotal role in restoring humanity to God.
  • Listen to the thorough questions the students ask regarding Romans 5:12-21.
  • The students ask excellent questions of Dr. Moo in this insightful discussion on Romans 6:1-14.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain a deeper understanding of the theological implications of Christ's death and resurrection as explained in Romans 6. You will explore different interpretations of Paul's language regarding the old self and the new self, considering the implications for the Christian life. Ultimately, you will be challenged to recognize your identity in Christ and to actively live according to that identity, rejecting the slavery of sin and embracing servitude to God.
  • Hear the questions the students ask of Dr. Moo regarding Romans 6:1-23.
  • In diving into Romans 7, you'll explore the Law's role in Christian life. Paul's discourse clarifies the distinction between law and gospel, emphasizing the Torah's significance in understanding divine commandments.
  • Class discussion on Romans 7:1-6
  • In Romans 7:7-12, Paul explores the Law's role in intensifying sin and contrasts it with Christ's liberation. His narrative prompts reflection on individual experience and collective identity, enriching understanding of Christian faith.
  • The class discusses the previous lesson on Romans 7:7-12.
  • This lesson covers interpretations of Romans 7:13-25; whether Paul's description is of pre- or post-conversion struggle with the Law.
  • In Romans 8:1-22, discover the Spirit's transformative power over sin, leading to a life free from condemnation, intimacy with God, and anticipation of future glory amid present sufferings.
  • Explore the theological insights on environmental stewardship, emphasizing Christian responsibility in light of Romans 8:19-22.
  • Gain insights into Romans 8:23-27, understanding destined glory despite present suffering. The Spirit intercedes, bridging current and promised futures, offering assurance amid weakness.
  • Romans 8:28 offers profound insights into the nature of God's providence and the believer's journey of faith. Beyond its surface meaning, the verse challenges misconceptions about 'good' and underscores the transformative power of God's grace. It invites believers to trust in God's unfailing love amidst life's trials, anchoring their hope in the assurance of His sovereign care and redemptive purposes.
  • Romans 9:1-5 highlights Paul's profound concern for Israel's salvation and the theological complexities surrounding God's promises. Reviewing salvation history, you'll learn that God's offer of salvation for both Jew and Gentile, fits within the Old Testament narrative.
  • Paul discusses Israel's role in God's plan, emphasizing grace over race. He illustrates divine choices and sovereignty, sparking debates on salvation.
  • Discover diverse views on election, Israel's struggle with faith, and the significance of overcoming theological narrowness in Romans 9:30-10:21. Gain insights into law versus faith in attaining righteousness and the importance of engaging deeply with Scripture for a comprehensive understanding.
  • Gain insights into faith versus works, Christ as the culmination of the Law, and the inclusivity of righteousness through Him. Embrace unity in Christ, transcending cultural divisions, and embodying love and holiness.
  • Gain insight into contrasting righteousness by law vs. faith in Romans 10:5-13. Accessibility of salvation through Christ bridges Old and New Testament teachings, emphasizing unity and continuity.
  • Gain insights into Romans 10:14-21, emphasizing faith, preaching, and Israel's reception of the message. Dr. Moo highlights Paul's use of Old Testament quotes and God's ongoing relationship with Israel, revealing the significance of faith and salvation.
  • Gain insight into Romans 11:11-15. Paul discusses Jewish rejection, Gentile salvation, and Jewish inclusion, aiming to provoke Jewish envy. The phrase "life from the dead" hints at spiritual renewal or future resurrection.
  • Gain insights into the Olive Tree analogy in Romans 11:16-24. Understand humility, faithfulness, and the purpose of warning passages in Scripture.
  • Discover the mystery of Israel's salvation in Romans 11:25-32. Paul reveals unity of Jews and Gentiles, challenging arrogance and emphasizing God's inclusive love.
  • Gain deeper understanding of Christian-Jewish ties, navigate theological challenges, address Israel-Palestine tensions, and embrace God's inclusive grace.
  • Gain deep insights into Romans 12:1-2: True worship extends beyond rituals, urging sacrificial living and transformation in response to God's mercy.
  • In Romans 12:3-8, Paul stresses humility, unity, and diverse gifts within the body of Christ, urging faithful stewardship for the edification of the body of Christ.
  • Gain insights into love's complexity in Romans 12:9-21. Paul urges sincere affection, alludes to Jesus' teachings, and prompts contemplation on love and judgment.
  • Gain insights into balancing submission to authorities with obedience to God. Understand the context of Paul's exhortation to Roman Christians and the complexities of submission, emphasizing humility, unity, and love in the Christian life within God's sovereignty.

Dr. Douglas Moo, from Wheaton College Graduate School, offers an exegetical examination of the book of Romans. This course was recorded during a D.Min. seminar at the Carolina Graduate School of Divinity in May 2012.

Please note that the audio mp3 file numbers on downloaded files are two greater than each lecture number beginning with number 15.

Dr. Douglas Moo 
Class Discussion on Romans 1:18-28  
Lesson Transcript


Class Discussion on Romans 1:18-28

A. The Ungodliness and Unrighteousness of People:

I’m having a hard time building the bridge with the “every person.”

Dr. Moo:  
In terms of why we are thinking of every person?

Right. Are you saying literally, numerically every single individual?

Dr. Moo:  
I think that is what Paul is implying here.  You’re absolutely right, he doesn’t use the language, ‘every person’ here. But he does talk about the wrath of God being revealed against all ungodliness and wickedness of who suppress the truth by their wickedness.

So, when we use the word “people”, that is historically different from “persons.” There is the idea of a geographical people or ethnicity of a people, which is not necessarily inclusive of every person

Dr. Moo:  
But the way Paul is using the word here, the word is the Greek Anthropos, human beings, we can translate it also. So it is not talking about a people group or a limited ethnic or geographic entity, he uses the very vague general word that simply means human beings. I think the way Paul argues this point, particularly when he comes to his conclusion in 3:9 where he says that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin, I think that it is clear that he intends these words to apply to all humans.

As a people, and not necessarily enumerated individuals?

Dr. Moo:  
No, individuals. Paul is not using the language here of people groups or nations, again, he is using human beings.  The way he describes human beings is in terms of their turning from God, idolatry, sexual sin, and pretty clearly, those are choices individuals are making. Paul is not saying an entire people group is characterized by those sins, but individuals within those groups are. So, I think it is an individual focus here.

I wasn’t even on the punishment side of it, I was more so on the promotional side of it.

Dr. Moo:  
I think it is on both sides. 


B. The Choice of Following God:

The question I have is that I want every person to have a choice, and it seems in verse 25 it says the choice is whether you worship the Creator or the creation. It seems to me that verse 25 is offering a choice to people who can still worship the Creator as a result of “natural revelation,” even though they don’t understand the “special revelation.”  And I know we disagree here, but that is where my struggle comes from.  My struggle comes from this: I want those folks who have never had the “special revelation” to have had a choice they can make for or against God, and I think that verse 25 offers that choice.

Dr. Moo:  
I see what you are saying, but it is just that in verse 1:25, it says that they, whoever theyare, exchanged the truth about God for a lie. He is not saying that they had a choice, and some went one way, and some went the other.  He said that whatever group he is talking about all went the same way.

Is that is about what we were talking about, people versus persons again? Every individual person went that way, or that the people as a whole went that way, and whether it is possible that an individual person might have made a different choice.

Dr. Moo:  
It is difficult for me then to understand the direction of the argument in terms of Paul’s conclusion in 3:9; that all are under sin’s power. This seems to imply that the argument he has been building includes every Gentile and every Jew, without exception. There is this universal state of sinfulness and therefore a universal situation of being found under God’s wrath apart from the Gospel and apart from Christ.


C. Exclusivity to the Claims of Christ:

These become very significant matters in our day.  I’m sure the situation here is no different than the world I live in, in the Western Suburbs of Chicago. Just two miles from our home is one of the largest Hindu temples in North America, a beautiful huge ornate structure. The people of other religions are all around us now and people are making all kinds of choices and the question about the exclusivity of the Gospel becomes very important in those contexts where on the one hand, we want to understand peoples of other faiths, what their views are and how they are understanding matters. But at the same time, in faithfulness to the Scripture to say that nevertheless, there is exclusivity to the claims of Christ. Christ is the way and what Paul is saying here contributes to that understanding. There is this universal tendency among humans to go their own way; to turn away from God rather than to God. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that enters into the situation and holds the promise of reversing that situation. It is the only means of reversing the situation; otherwise, I don’t think Paul would have put things in the way he has here.


D. Sin and Wrath is Universal:

Does this have any relationship to every man being given a measure of faith? Is that any relationship to what the Apostle Paul thought? Every man having… Because I think about a child born in a third world country being told that the stove is hot.  Not that every third world country hasn’t been exposed to technology. But the technology of an electric stove, without the knowledge of the stove and the characteristics of the element being red, would the child understand that the stove is hot? It’s just a color.  I know I’ve brought that down to an elementary idea.  But does “every man being given a measure of faith” qualify?

Dr. Moo:  
I don’t see any evidence biblically that every person has been given a measure of faith.

I guess then that is my question about the wrath of God.  I know we deal with the wrath of God.  In the wrath of God, is there tolerance and accommodation for people who did not know?

Dr. Moo:  
As I read Romans 1, Paul is saying that every human has been given sufficient evidence of God. They have turned from that evidence in a way that makes them accountable and rightly condemned for turning away from it. I do see Paul putting the point out quite universally here.

Now the question becomes on the other end, and I’m sure there will be disagreements among us about this, what does God do precisely to rectify that situation? How does he enter into human history to enable people to escape that universal situation of sin and wrath? There I am sure again we will have disagreements on what shape that takes, but for now the more basic point I want to make, whether you want to agree or not, is that all humans are universally in this dire predicament of being sinful and suffering under God’s wrath. Every human therefore needs to respond to the Gospel in order to escape that situation. That is sort of the argument Paul is building here so he can explain why was it that God had to send His Son into the world as a sacrifice, sending Him to the Cross. This was the way of providing an escape from the universal context of sin and wrath.


E. We Live in a Pluralistic World Where Truth is Lost:

It is interesting that Paul could get away with saying something like that.  He couldn’t get away with it today.  Was there something about Greco-Roman society?  He pretty well walked through the Greco-Roman Empire and said things like this and everybody would say “okay.”  In our day and age, you can’t get away with it. I could go three blocks over and try to say something like that, and get shot. You can’t do that.  It’s interesting. I wish we had those days back where we could say things like that.

Dr. Moo:  
You raise an interesting point; I think it is accurate, as least to some extent that in Paul’s day there certainly would have been many competing views about the gods and human’s relationship to the gods. But I think there would have also been a sense that some views are right, and others are wrong. So, you might say, the Roman gods is the way I am going; or I am going with the Greek gods, or I’m going with this mystery religion, or I’m going with Judaism, and people would recognize these as distinct mutually exclusive choices.

In our day the problem I think the problem is that people don’t want to think that way. They want to mush everything together and live in this sort of pluralistic world in which truth itself gets lost. So, there are different ways to God, all religions have some truth, and so forth and so on. I think what we will get in trouble for in our culture is not proclaiming Christ but proclaiming the exclusivity of Christ. That is the one thing that people will not tolerate and that is intolerance, in our time. I think you’re right in that sense.

Obviously, Paul went around saying these things and equally obviously, he got into a lot of trouble for doing it. He was persecuted; he was stoned; he was hounded out of towns. It wasn’t an easy thing for him to say either in his day.

It wasn’t easy for him to say that Jesus Christ was exclusive but he pretty well diagnosed the situation and he could probably get a number of people to agree with him on that basis.  What I am saying is, you were talking about it In the pastoral role, it’s a tough situation evangelistically. I’m not sure that there is an argument here that is evangelistic.  We accept it, but we’re Christians, of course. But I’m not so sure I would use something like this in an evangelistic situation.


F. We Live in a Sinful World but God’s Spirit is Active Within it:

Obviously, when we bring the truth into different contexts, I would want to argue that we want to be faithful to that truth but then we also want to be creative and loving in how to present that truth in ways that can gain a hearing. There is no question that there are various ways of having to do that.  And there is no question that sometimes we will be scorned in doing it. We are going to be strongly opposed. That is going to happen and most of us have experienced probably that at one time or another.

But I also like to think number one, that there are a number of people out there who are open to hear this Word; particularly when we argue the issue of sin. One of the ways I try to argue this is to ask: Isn’t it interesting that almost every generation is appalled at a genocide? Look at what happened in Rwanda, for instance.  Look what happened at the Holocaust.  But, in fact, that has been the typical phenomenon of human history. Every generation has had genocides, that kind of brutality. To some extent, I want to commend the Christian world view in saying, the Christian world view at least explains why things are so badly messed up; why people keep doing these things. It is sin; the evidence is all over the place. Quit trying to shut your eyes to it Quit trying to pretend like Rwanda is the exception. It is not the exception; it is the rule. It is the habit of humans throughout history. I think there is some resonance that you can build with people at that point, who at some point say, we’re getting tired of all the politicians and philosophies that never solve anything. They don’t; it’s exactly right.

The other point I was going to make is that in proclaiming that truth, we are going to be like the text I was talking about on Saturday, “the aroma of Christ, to some for life, and some for death.”  It is the Spirit ultimately who is going to work in human hearts to soften those hearts to receive the message. We have to realize that our job is to proclaim that truth and some people are going to resist it, reject it and reject us but in other hearts, God’s Spirit will be working to gain a hearing ultimately. 


G. Homosexuality and Idolatry:

Idolatry seems to be a major theme and within the same context homosexuality is thrown into the picture. Is there a link between homosexuality and idolatry for Paul in Romans 1, as if homosexuality is the ultimate idolatry?

Dr. Moo:  
I am not sure that I would say that it was the ultimate idolatry. I would say that for Paul, and here he is picking up typical Jewish teaching of his day, that homosexual activity is one of the more obvious instances or effects of idolatry. Turning from God and making idols of your own means that you are ultimately turning away from the way God has intended the created order to work. Homosexuality is a particularly obvious example of people trying to twist creation in a way that creation was never intended to operate.

So, it is a great example of the exchange of God for the creature?

Dr. Moo:  
It is an example of the result of that exchange, I would say.

I didn’t think I needed to talk too much about homosexuality here. It is so much in the news about this; we are all having to study, think about it, figure out how to teach about it, preach it. I am not sure that I have much to bring to the table here except to say passages like Romans 1, 1Corinthians 6, and 1t Timothy 1 are the three New Testament texts that clearly talk about homosexuality as being sinful and outside the purposes of God. The two best books on the subject from a biblical standpoint are by Robert Gagnon and Richard Hays. I would particularly commend to you Robert Gagnon’s book if you’re interested in getting a through biblical, theological grounding in the issue. It is a marvelous book.  He has gone all around the U.S. debating on the issue, presenting the biblical perspective on that.   

I’ll just conclude before lunch with a little story about that.  One of the things that happens for someone like me, I am very well known, among my immediate family at least. I like to say.  You write on certain things.  People get to know you have written on something and so, they send you manuscripts unsolicited. I made the mistake in writing on eschatology some years ago and so about 15 years ago there arrived in my mail a very thick document in which the author had labored immensely, spent years and years and years of work, conclusively proving that Prince Charles is the anti-Christ. What was extraordinary about it is that he had done an extraordinary amount of historical research top notch historical research. You get these manuscripts.  

So, one day, I get a manuscript in the mail on homosexuality, and I thought, oh, homosexuality, this will be fun to read.  And so, I started to read it and thought man, this is really good! And it was Robert Gagnon, pretty much unknown at that point. He asked whether I would recommend it to one of the publishers. I was very thankful that I had the chance to recommend the book to a publisher, and again, I think it is probably the best book now available on a biblical view of homosexuality, for those of you, and probably all of us in one way or another, trying to struggle to figure out some of the specifics on where to take stands on those issues.