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09 August 2019

Righteousness and Wrath Revealed

SYNOPSIS - Just as sinners await the future judgment of God, so believers are waiting to receive their full salvation at the resurrection – Romans 1:16-23

Sun Rays - Photo by Micah Hallahan on Unsplash
In his epistle to the Romans, Paul introduced his ministry and the “gospel” he proclaimed to Christians residing in the city of Rome. This “gospel” or “glad message” had been promised centuries earlier in the Hebrew scriptures, a message concerning the Son of God, but has now been revealed to all the nations in Jesus Christ, to both “Jew and Greek” - [Photo by Micah Hallahan on Unsplash]:
  • (Romans 1:1-7) - “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, a called apostle, separated unto the glad-message of God — Which he promised beforehand through his prophets, in holy scriptures — Concerning his Son, — who came to be of the seed of David, according to flesh, Who was distinguished as the Son of God — by power, according to a Holy Spirit, through means of a resurrection of the dead, — Jesus Christ our Lord; Through whom we have received favour and apostleship for obedience of faith among all the nations in behalf of his name, Among whom are you also called of Jesus Christ: Unto all that are in Rome, beloved of God, called saints, favour unto you and peace from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ” – (The Emphasized Bible).
His resurrection from the dead is the irrefutable proof of his messiahship and the validity of his message to all nations. The central theme of the letter is that the “gospel” is the power of God “for salvation to everyone who believes,” whether Jew or Gentile. The “gospel” proclaimed by Paul empowers men and women to receive salvation “from faith,” not from ethnicity or the performance of any deeds required by the Torah - The law of Moses - (Romans 1:16-17).

Present Realities

In the gospel, the “righteousness of God is being revealed from faith for faith.” The clause translates a present tense verb - apokaluptetai - meaning, “reveal, disclose, unveil, uncover.” The Greek present tense signifies action in progress - The ongoing process of revelation, not a singular event in the past.
  • (Romans 1:16-17) – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For in it is being revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live from faith.
The “righteousness” of God, His faithfulness to His promises, is being revealed. This is demonstrated whenever Jews or Gentiles respond in faith to the “glad tidings.” Thus, there is a definite present tense to the “righteousness” of God. He validates his “righteousness” – His faithfulness - by saving men and women who respond in faith to what He has done in His Son, Jesus Christ.

In contrast, His “wrath” is likewise “being revealed from heaven” against all “who possess the truth in unrighteousness.” Thus, the Apostle contrasts two present processes – The unveiling of “righteousness” and of “wrath” – Both occur in the present age whenever the gospel is proclaimed.
  • (Romans 1:18-19) – “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them.
Thus, anyone who embraces the “gospel,” whether Jew or Gentile, is empowered to receive salvation. At the same time, “wrath” is revealed against everyone who does not submit to the gospel – Against every man or woman who “opposes the truth in unrighteousness.”

Elsewhere, Paul links “wrath” with the final judgment, but here he describes an aspect of His “wrath” that occurs within the present age, a process evidenced by the very sins embraced and practiced by the sinners and reject the gospel, especially the sin of idolatry.
  • (Romans 1:20-23) – “For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.
Idolatry is the transgression that leads to all the others – The refusal to acknowledge God as God - (Romans 2:5, 5:9, Ephesians 5:6, Colossians 3:6, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 5:9).

Because sinners “exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for the likenesses of corruptible man, birds, four-footed beasts and reptiles,” He has turned them over to the lusts of their hearts “for impurity.” Thus, they “exchanged the truth of God for falsehood and rendered worship to the creature rather than to the Creator.”
Giving the world over to the sins for which its lusts demonstrates that His “wrath” is being exercised even now. Though men and women “acknowledged the righteous sentence of God that they who practice such things are worthy of death, not only are doing the same things but are even delighting together with them who are practicing them.”
Humanity wallowing in idolatrous sin is the present state-of-affairs, one that proves the world order is under the “wrath of God” and validates the justice of the final judgment at the end of the age. Fortunately, individuals living under this “wrath” will not remain in this state if they respond in faith to the gospel.

Future Tense

Since believers have been “declared righteous through his blood,” they also “will be saved through him from the wrath.” Although believers have been “set right” before God, like “inheritance” and “promise,” “salvation” has a very definite future aspect - (Romans 1:18, 2:5).

If we have been “reconciled unto God through the death of his Son,” how much more “will we be saved by his life.” For though “through one man” – Adam - “sin entered into the world and through sin death,” how much more will they who “receive the superabundance of the grace and the free gift of righteousness reign through the one man” - Jesus Christ - (Romans 5:9-21).

Condemnation because of sin is in the past for believers - Their right-standing before God is a present reality. However, final salvation and everlasting life remain to be received in the future. Just as sinners still await the final judgment of God, so believers await their final salvation at the resurrection from the dead when Jesus arrives in glory.
  • (Romans 8:16-23) – “The Spirit itself beareth witness together with our spirit that we are children of God; And, if children, heirs also — heirs, indeed, of God, but co-heirs with Christ, — if, at least, we are suffering together, in order that we may also be glorified together. For I reckon that unworthy are the sufferings of the present season to be compared with the glory about to be revealed towards us; For the eager outlook of creation ardently awaiteth the revealing of the sons of God, — For unto vanity hath creation been made subject — not by choice, but by reason of him that made it subject, in hope That creation itself also shall be freed — from the bondage of the decay into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God; For we know that, all creation is sighing together and travailing-in-birth-throes together until the present, — And not only so, but we ourselves, also, who have the first-fruit of the Spirit — [we] even ourselves within our own selves do sigh, — sonship ardently awaiting — the redeeming of our body.” – (The Emphasized Bible).



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