Paul in Macedonia and Greece
20 After the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples, and when he had encouraged them he told them goodbye, and set off to go to [a]Macedonia. 2 After he had gone through those districts and had encouraged the believers, he came to Greece. 3 And he stayed three months, and when a plot was formed against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia (northern Greece).Read full chapter
- Acts 20:1 Northern Greece.
The Gospel Exalted
1 Paul, a [a]bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle (special messenger, personally chosen representative), set apart for [preaching] the [b]gospel of God [the good news of salvation], 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the sacred Scriptures— 3 [the good news] regarding His Son, who, as to the flesh [His human nature], was born a descendant of David [to fulfill the covenant promises], 4 and [as to His divine nature] according to the Spirit of holiness was openly designated to be the Son of God with power [in a triumphant and miraculous way] by His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 It is through Him that we have received grace and [our] apostleship to promote obedience to the faith and make disciples for His name’s sake among all the Gentiles, 6 and you also are among those who are called of Jesus Christ to belong to Him;
7 [I am writing] to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called to be saints (God’s people) and set apart for a sanctified life, [that is, set apart for God and His purpose]: Grace to you and peace [inner calm and spiritual well-being] from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith [your trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness] is being proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God, whom I serve with my spirit by preaching the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how continuously I mention you 10 in my prayers; always pleading that somehow, by God’s will, I may now at last come to you. 11 For I long to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift, to strengthen and establish you; 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged and comforted by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, [c]brothers and sisters, that many times I have planned to come to you, (and have been prevented so far) so that I may have some fruit [of my labors] among you, even as I have among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I have a duty to perform and a debt to pay both to Greeks and to barbarians [the cultured and the uncultured], both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, for my part, I am ready and eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.
16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation [from His wrath and punishment] to everyone who believes [in Christ as Savior], to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed in a way that awakens more faith]. As it is written and forever remains written, “The just and upright shall live by faith.”(A)
Unbelief and Its Consequences
18 For [God does not overlook sin and] the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who in their wickedness suppress and stifle the truth, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them [in their inner consciousness], for God made it evident to them. 20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense.(B) 21 For even though [d]they knew God [as the Creator], they did not [e]honor Him as God or give thanks [for His wondrous creation]. On the contrary, they became worthless in their thinking [godless, with pointless reasonings, and silly speculations], and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God for [f]an image [worthless idols] in the shape of mortal man and birds and four-footed animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their own hearts to [sexual] impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them [abandoning them to the degrading power of sin], 25 because [by choice] they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.(C)
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading and vile passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural [a function contrary to nature], 27 and in the same way also the men turned away from the natural function of the woman and were consumed with their desire toward one another, men with men committing shameful acts and in return receiving in their own bodies the inevitable and appropriate penalty for their wrongdoing.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or consider Him worth knowing [as their Creator], God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do things which are improper and repulsive, 29 until they were filled (permeated, saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice and mean-spiritedness. They are gossips [spreading rumors], 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors [of new forms] of evil, disobedient and disrespectful to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful [without pity]. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree and His judgment, that those who do such things deserve death, yet they not only do them, but they even [enthusiastically] approve and tolerate others who practice them.
The Impartiality of God
2 Therefore you have no excuse or justification, everyone of you who [hypocritically] [g]judges and condemns others; for in passing judgment on another person, you condemn yourself, because you who judge [from a position of arrogance or self-righteousness] are habitually practicing the very same things [which you denounce]. 2 And we know that the judgment of God falls justly and in accordance with truth on those who practice such things. 3 But do you think this, O man, when you judge and condemn those who practice such things, and yet do the same yourself, that you will escape God’s judgment and elude His verdict? 4 Or do you have no regard for the wealth of His kindness and tolerance and patience [in withholding His wrath]? Are you [actually] unaware or ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness leads you to repentance [that is, to change your inner self, your old way of thinking—seek His purpose for your life]? 5 But because of your callous stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are [deliberately] storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 He will pay back to each person according to his deeds [justly, as his deeds deserve]:(D) 7 to those who by persistence in doing good seek [unseen but certain heavenly] glory, honor, and immortality, [He will give the gift of] eternal life. 8 But for those who are selfishly ambitious and self-seeking and disobedient to the truth but responsive to wickedness, [there will be] wrath and indignation. 9 There will be tribulation and anguish [torturing confinement] for every human soul who does [or permits] evil, to the Jew first and also to the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and inner peace [will be given] to everyone who habitually does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality [no arbitrary favoritism; with Him one person is not more important than another].(E)
12 For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without [regard to] the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged and condemned by the Law. 13 For it is not those who merely hear the Law [as it is read aloud] who are just or righteous before God, but it is those who [actually] obey the Law who will be [h]justified [pronounced free of the guilt of sin and declared acceptable to Him]. 14 When Gentiles, who do not have the Law [since it was given only to Jews], do [i]instinctively the things the Law requires [guided only by their conscience], they are a law to themselves, though they do not have the Law. 15 They show that the [j]essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts; and their conscience [their sense of right and wrong, their moral choices] bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or perhaps defending them 16 on that day when, [k]as my gospel proclaims, God will judge the secrets [all the hidden thoughts and concealed sins] of men through Christ Jesus.(F)
The Jew Is Condemned by the Law
17 But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely on the Law [for your salvation] and boast in [your special relationship to] God, 18 and [if you claim to] know His will and [l]approve the things that are [m]essential or have a sense of what is excellent, based on your instruction from the Law, 19 and [if you] are confident that you are a [qualified] guide to the blind [those untaught in theology], a light to those who are in darkness, 20 and [that you are] [n]a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the [spiritually] [o]childish, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth— 21 well then, you who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal [in ways that are discrete, but just as sinful]? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, [p]do you commit adultery? You who detest idols, do you rob [pagan] temples [of valuable idols and offerings]?(G) 23 You who boast in the Law, do you [repeatedly] dishonor God by [q]breaking the Law? 24 For, “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written [in Scripture].(H)
25 Circumcision [the sign of the covenant of Abraham] is indeed of value if you practice the Law; but if you habitually break the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision [it is meaningless in God’s sight]. 26 So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded [by God] as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps [the spirit of] the Law will judge you who, [r]even though you have the written code and circumcision, break the Law. 28 For he is not a [real] Jew who is only one outwardly, nor is [true] circumcision something external and physical. 29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and [true] circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by [the fulfillment of] the letter [of the Law]. His praise is not from men, but from God.
All the World Guilty
3 Then what is the advantage of the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? 2 Great in every respect. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God [His very [s]words].(I) 3 What then? If some did not believe or were unfaithful [to God], their lack of belief will not nullify and make invalid the faithfulness of God and His word, will it? 4 Certainly not! Let God be found true [as He will be], though every person be found a liar, just as it is written [in Scripture],
“That You may be justified in Your words,
And prevail when You are judged [by sinful men].”(J)
5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? God is not wrong to inflict His wrath [on us], is He? (I am speaking in purely human terms.) 6 Certainly not! For otherwise, how will God judge the world? 7 But [as you might say] if through my lie God’s truth was magnified and abounded to His glory, why am I still being judged as a sinner? 8 And why not say, (as some slanderously report and claim that we teach) “Let us do evil so that good may come of it”? Their condemnation [by God] is just.
9 Well then, are we [Jews] better off than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles) are under the control of sin and subject to its power. 10 As it is written and forever remains written,
“There is none righteous [none that meets God’s standard], not even one.(K)
“There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God.(L)
“All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”(M)
“Their throat is an open grave;
They [habitually] deceive with their tongues.”
“The venom of asps is beneath their lips.”(N)
“Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”(O)
“Their feet are swift to shed blood,
Destruction and misery are in their paths,
And they have not known the path of peace.”(P)
“There is no fear of God [and His awesome power] before their eyes.”(Q)
19 Now we know that whatever the Law [of Moses] says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that [the excuses of] every mouth may be silenced [from protesting] and that all the world may be held accountable to God [and subject to His judgment]. 20 For no [t]person will be justified [freed of guilt and declared righteous] in His sight by [trying to do] the works of the Law. For through the Law we become conscious of sin [and the recognition of sin directs us toward repentance, but provides no remedy for sin].
Justification by Faith
21 But now the righteousness of God has been clearly revealed [independently and completely] apart from the Law, though it is [actually] confirmed by the Law and the [words and writings of the] Prophets. 22 This righteousness of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ for all those [Jew or Gentile] who believe [and trust in Him and acknowledge Him as God’s Son]. There is no distinction,(R) 23 since all have sinned and continually fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are being justified [declared free of the guilt of sin, made acceptable to God, and granted eternal life] as a gift by His [precious, undeserved] [u]grace, through the redemption [the payment for our sin] which is [provided] in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God displayed publicly [before the eyes of the world] as a [life-giving] [v]sacrifice of atonement and reconciliation (propitiation) by His blood [to be received] through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness [which demands punishment for sin], because in His forbearance [His deliberate restraint] He passed over the sins previously committed [before Jesus’ crucifixion]. 26 It was to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the One who justifies those who have faith in Jesus [and rely confidently on Him as Savior].
27 Then what becomes of [our] boasting? It is excluded [entirely ruled out, banished]. On what principle? On [the principle of good] works? No, but on the principle of faith. 28 For we maintain that an individual is justified by faith distinctly apart from works of the Law [the observance of which has nothing to do with justification, that is, being declared free of the guilt of sin and made acceptable to God]. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not also the God of Gentiles [who were not given the Law]? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since indeed it is one [and the same] God who will justify the circumcised by faith [which began with Abraham] and the uncircumcised through [their newly acquired] faith.
31 Do we then nullify the Law by this faith [making the Law of no effect, overthrowing it]? Certainly not! On the contrary, we confirm and establish and uphold the Law [since it convicts us all of sin, pointing to the need for salvation].
- Romans 1:1 I.e. a person in bondage. One who belongs to another.
- Romans 1:1 In ancient Greece the word translated as “good news” or “gospel” was used to denote, among other things, success in a battle.
- Romans 1:13 Lit brethren, includes all born-again believers: men, women, and children.
- Romans 1:21 Anyone who attributes the existence of the world to chance or to a different creator is already guilty of deliberately rejecting God, because to deny the true God one must set aside common sense.
- Romans 1:21 Lit glorify.
- Romans 1:23 Paul’s indictment of idolatry (images) is logical and devastating. He emphasizes that idols are essentially copies of living creatures, whether in human form (as, for example, in ancient Greek myth) or otherwise (as in Egyptian idolatry and metaphysics). These lifeless images are clearly powerless, and even the living creatures which they supposedly represent are either nonexistent hybrids and monsters, or else ordinary creatures on earth who could hardly create so much as a grain of sand.
- Romans 2:1 This is not a prohibition of judgment, nor is it a command to stop using godly wisdom, common sense, and moral courage together with God’s written word to discern right from wrong, to distinguish between morality and immorality, and to judge doctrinal truth. There are many judgments that are not only legitimate, but are commanded (cf John 7:24; 1 Cor 5:5, 12; Gal 1:8, 9; 1 John 4:1-3; 2 John 10); however, you cannot judge another if you are committing the same type of sin.
- Romans 2:13 Because of one’s personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, God graciously credits His righteousness to the believer. Justification denotes a legal standing with God as designated only by God. God declares a believer to be acquitted or innocent, then designates the believer to be brought into right standing before Him.
- Romans 2:14 Lit by nature.
- Romans 2:15 Lit work of the Law.
- Romans 2:16 Lit according to my gospel.
- Romans 2:18 Or discerningly distinguish between the things which differ.
- Romans 2:18 Or excellent.
- Romans 2:20 Or an instructor.
- Romans 2:20 Lit infants.
- Romans 2:22 In Judaism at that time, one of the leading schools of thought (that of Hillel) taught that a man could divorce his wife for any reason, such as cooking a bad meal. Paul may have in mind men who use a flimsy excuse to divorce their wives, with the real intent of marrying another woman. In God’s eyes, this is an act of adultery.
- Romans 2:23 The Pharisees were distorting and breaking God’s law by giving their own interpretations priority over the plain meaning of the Scriptures.
- Romans 2:27 Lit through the letter.
- Romans 3:2 I.e. the Old Testament promises.
- Romans 3:20 Lit flesh.
- Romans 3:24 I.e. His favor and mercy, extended to man who can do nothing to be worthy of it. It is God’s amazing gift.
- Romans 3:25 By laying his hands on the head of the sacrifice the person offering the sacrifice identified himself with it and through its death it became an atonement or covering for his sin. Because the unblemished sacrifice “covered” his sin it placed the person offering the sacrifice in a right relationship with God. Later under the new covenant the perfection and sacrifice of Christ would cover (atone for) the imperfection and sin of those who identified with Him and accepted Him as Savior.