No category

God’s Power Unto Salvation

1 January 1970

This is the second article of a series of articles on Romans 9-11, based on the book Rejoice, You Gentiles, with His People by Johannes Gerloff, which is expected to be published in early 2022.nnContext is critical if we wish to understand any statement properly. We have to know the framework within which the author communicates. For that reason, to understand Paul’s discussion of Israel in Romans 9-11, we need to get an overview of the first eight chapters of his Epistle to the Romans.n

“Context is critical if we wish to understand any statement properly”

nRomans 1-8 provide answers to the questions:n


  • How can I be justified before God?
  • n

  • How do I enter into a relationship with my Creator?
  • n

nThe starting point is his assessment in Romans 1:20-21:nn“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”nnThus, the Apostle reaches a conclusion: “So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”nnThe Jewish people have an advantage over non-Jews because: “To them, the words of the [one and only] God were entrusted” (Romans 3:2). However, considering their way of life, Paul has to reproach his kinsmen: “You teach others, but you do not teach yourself… You boast in the law (Torah), while [at the same time] you disgrace the [one] God by transgressing the law. For the name of the [one] God is being ridiculed because of you among the Gentiles” (Romans 2:21-24).nnPaul, known among his contemporaries as Rabbi Sha’ul of Tarsus, knew that: “Circumcision is useful if you practice the law. But if you violate the law, your circumcision has become invalid” (Romans 2:25). He realised that, concerning the problem of sin, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. “…for all have sinned. They lack the glorious presence of the [one, true] God” (Romans 3:23).nnThe way out of this dilemma is the fact that a person is justified through a trust- relationship with God. “…since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith“. (Romans 3:30). Paul explains to his readers step by step how they are able to enter into peace with God. The outstanding example is Abraham, the Father of our faith (Romans 4). Today, our faith is in the sacrificial death and victorious resurrection of Messiah Yeshua – our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5). He has provided the way to a life with God through His victory over sin and death on the cross of Calvary (Romans 6).nnPaul, however, does not evade reality. He knows about the struggles in the life of a believer: “I do not understand my own actions. Not what I want I do, but what I hate is what I do” (Romans 7:15). To his disciple Timothy he writes, “Messiah Yeshua has come into the world to save sinners,” without forgetting: “of whom I am the first” (1 Timothy 1:15). He does not state that he once was a sinner. Even after his justification he does not emphasise his own righteousness, but points to the One who saved him. Paul is completely aware that there is nothing within himself that might qualify as ‘good’. “I do have the ambition to do good things”, he writes, “but I am not able to produce the good” (Romans 7:18).nnDespite this ‘catch-22 situation’ which Paul describes in chapter seven, he knows that: “There is no condemnation for those who are in Messiah Yeshua” (Romans 8:1). The decisive point is that: “Those who are led by God’s Spirit, they are God’s children” (Romans 8:14). Recognising that, he concludes; “The sufferings of this present time are nothing in comparison to the future glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).nnSummarising, we conclude: Romans 1-8 focuses on the individual human being, his helplessness, his separation from God, the work of Messiah Yeshua for man’s sake, God’s grace, and the way to salvation from sin and death.n

nnChapters 12 to 16 describe how believers fit into their society – be it into the Church or into a secular environment. He addresses the following questions:n


  • How does this newly found relationship with God fit into the social environment?
  • n

  • How should believers live together?
  • n

  • How can a child of God live responsibly in a secular society?
  • n

nThese last five chapters of Romans describe everyday life as service to God. They also address topics like; life in the Church, spiritual gifts, love and serving one another (Romans 12). Relating to governmental authority comes up (Romans 13), as do relations within the community of believers as they live in a secular world that does not want to know God (Romans 14).nnPaul summarises all these instructions with the words: “None of us lives to himself and none dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord. If we die, we die to the Lord. Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:7-8). Both the purpose and the objective of our salvation is; “that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah” (Romans 15:6).n

“In Romans 1-8 Paul focuses on the salvation of the individual person, expressing the missionary or evangelistic concern”

nIn Romans 1-8 Paul focuses on the salvation of the individual person, expressing the missionary or evangelistic concern. If we want to fit this into today’s church-political landscape we could simply say: He expresses the motivation and concern of most of evangelical Christianity, with the saving work of Jesus Christ being the central focus.nnIn Romans 12-16 Paul discusses the question of the Church, the relationship of its members among themselves, and their stand as believers in society. In a caring way, he speaks as a church-builder. In summary we could say: Here the more “charismatic” aspects are being addressed, with life in the Holy Spirit being more central.nnNow that we know the context, in the next instalment, we will start our examination of Romans 9-11.nn