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The Access Bible New Revised Standard Bible, written and edited with first-time Bible readers in mind.

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Commentary on Romans

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1.1–17 .

1–15 :

Greeting and prayer of thanksgiving.

1–7 :

Greeting. The writer Paul identifies himself and his mission as they relate to Christ and God. Grace and peace combine standard forms of gentile * and Jewish address. This greeting is longer than most because Paul is writing to a church he has not yet visited and he wants to align himself with early Christian belief (vv. 2–6 ).

8–15 :

Prayer of thanksgiving. Opening thanksgivings in the Pauline letters often set the mood for the rest of the letter and signal key themes. Paul's mission to the Gentiles reflects a central concern of the letter (v. 13 ). There is no hint that he will reach Rome as a prisoner, as Acts depicts (Acts 28 ).

16–17 :

Purpose. These verses, which actually conclude the prayer of thanksgiving, summarize the main themes of the letter. I am not ashamed means “I have confidence in.” The gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ, tells a story about God's saving activity. It stems from God and expresses God's power to transform human lives. It also reveals the righteousness of God, either God's character as one who is reliable and trustworthy or what is given by the God who sets things right. The proper response to God's action in Christ is faith, which is both the means (through faith) and the end (for faith) of life before God. The Old Testament quotation is a distinctive Pauline rendering based on Hab 2.4 .

1.18–8.39 :

God's purpose and character revealed in Christ.

1.18–32 :

God's wrath against sinful humanity. Gentiles * are not mentioned specifically in 1.18–32 , but they appear to be in view (see 1.30 , God-haters; 2.14; 3.9 ). Paul thinks humanity can know God through creation. Yet rather than honoring God properly as creator, people devised inappropriate forms of worship: images of humans and animals (v. 23 ). Such worship is misguided because it gives honor to mortal things rather than exclusive honor to the immortal God (v. 23 ). Worshiping creatures instead of the Creator is here seen as the ultimate lie. Closely associated with idol worship were sexual practices regarded by Jews as impure and degrading to the body (vv. 24–25 ). Failure to acknowledge God leads to debased thinking and immoral behavior. The sins listed in vv. 29–31 mainly describe behavior that destroys meaningful relationships among friends and family, leading to chaos within society (1 Cor 6.10–11; Gal 5.19–21 ). Paul repeatedly emphasizes that God gave them up … (vv. 24, 26, 28 ), suggesting God's disgust with such arrogant, socially destructive behavior.

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