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Wrath of God in Romans

February 12, 2013

In Romans 1 and the first few verses we read that the book was written to believers (saints) in Rome. That is an important concept to remember as we read the rest of the book.

In 1:16 read that the power of God for salvation is available to those that believe. Now most Christians I know read “salvation” and think “heaven”, but as a good student of literature, bible or otherwise, we should seek what the author meant and find what that salvation is from e.g. we should ask ourselves “salvation from what?” Rather than reading into it we should read what it says. In verse 18 we get our answer “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven” In the verses following 18 Paul explains examples of the wrath of God “God gave them over” (vs. 24, 26, 28) it is a scary thought that one aspect of the wrath of God is that he would let us “do what we want” but that is consistent with a free-will view of the bible. If you’re not convinced that the salvation in the book of Romans is from a temporal experience of God’s wrath I’ll come back to it.

When we get to cheaper three Paul is into a section on justification (note the word used is not salvation of saved) and explains that by the works of the law will no flesh be justified (v3:20). “being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets” the Jews should know these things because the prophets told them(v3:21). Even in verses 3:25-26 explaining that the forbearance of God put the punishment of the past Jews sins under the law that believed, put their sins on Jesus. Paul in the whole chapter is emphasizing that there is no living under the law that is righteous; we are only justified by faith. In chapter 4:3“For what does the [OT] Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’”

Then in the middle of chapter 5 he starts bringing back the concept of being “saved” that he is talking about in chapter 1. Explaining in verse 9 that “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” (Note we are justified now not later, but we shall be saved, they are two things) then concluding the chapter with “as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

In chapter 6 of Romans Paul is saying don’t continue in sin just because the grace of God will continue to cover the sin. (6:1-2, 15) We are not slaves we have the Power of God (1:16) so we don’t have to be.

Now fast forward to chapter 10 I think is even clearer that Justification/Righteousness and Saved/Salvation/Sanctification are two concepts in Romans.

Romans 10:9 confess and believe to be saved; 10:10 Paul explains “for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness” and “with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” two things not one.

Now is this saying there are two conditions for eternal life? or that just because someone believes doesn’t mean that are “saved” from the wrath of God?

Paul explains what he is saying in reverse order in 10:14-15: to call you must believe->to believe you must hear->to hear one must preach->to preach one must be sent. Each one is built on the next.

The one major point of Romans is that believers don’t only receive justification (eternal life) but we also have access to the Power of God (1:16) to no longer be slaves to sin and be saved from the wrath of God here on earth.


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