Paul makes it clear, the only advantage Jews have over gentiles is that they were entrusted with the oracles of God—the Scriptures—in order for the whole world to be blessed. Their unbelief and belief, though, are equal to that of the gentiles. The unbelief does not nullify the faithfulness, justice, or judgment of God. Paul quotes Psalm 51:4 to show that this is not a new doctrine. In fact, he does so to exposit the word of God to the unincorporated in Rome. Here, we learn something about the immutable nature of God. Even though we change and react, God is unchanging and nonreactive. He has perfect knowledge, faithfulness, justice, and judgment. We also learn something about the acts of evangelism and preaching. Evangelism is making disciples of all nations (cf. Matthew 28:18-20), which means teaching the precepts of God from Scripture—not merely telling people Christ loves them and died for them. Preaching and teaching means bringing out the meaning of Scripture—what we refer to as exegesis. Paul’s exegesis in Romans is technically topical, but it is expository. He has begun with the text in order to bring out its meaning. He has not begun with his own ideals and searched for verses on the internet to support what he feels he wants to say—which is never okay because we are not to be concerned about preaching our own messages but the message of God alone.
Paul quotes from a few psalms and from one passage in Isaiah, putting them together to make his point. Though it should not be regular practice, it seems okay to do this when we are addressing a topic instead of walking through Scripture. We must be very careful. When Paul lists these references out, he does not abandon each one’s context and is sure to use the verses to say what they mean in their contexts. When we read, it is important for us to examine each one in its context to understand it as we read through letters like Romans. If we place verses together in a sermon or lesson, we need to go to each verse we use to do the expository work for that verse so that we can be sure that we are not misusing it or accidentally insisting on something that verse is not trying to say—which I hear often from pulpits around the world. That is how people become accidental heretics even if they want to be faithful. A basic rule, then–pick a topic and set out to discover what Scripture says in context about it, don’t decide on a topic and appropriate Bible verses out of context to say what you think the Bible might teach.
Paul’s point is singular. All people, Jew and gentile, are under sin, have sinned, and are selfish; they have turned aside and are worthless. God is impartial. He will judge each one according to his works. That should terrify us in the flesh because our works are sin. Everyone will die and enter into torment unless another way that does not depend on works or religiosity is revealed. Paul is preparing to make this way of faith known. It is why, in his letters, faith is always contra to works.
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