Romans 1: Those Perverted Gentiles

Imagine you are one of the Jewish Christians in this ethnically divided, prejudicial church and you hear Phoebe read the last part of this chapter aloud.  You know Paul can only be talking about Gentiles.

They knew God, but didn’t honor him as God or thank him. (1:21)

They swapped the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of the image of mortal humans — and of birds, animals, and reptiles. (1:23)

They dishonored their bodies among themselves. (1:24)

Men performed shameless acts with men, and received in themselves the appropriate repayment for their mistaken ways. (1:27)

They were filled with all kinds of injustice, wickedness, greed and evil. (1:29)

They know that God has rightly decreed that people who do things like that deserve death. (1:32)

Andrea Mantegna, “Bacchanalia with a Wine Vat” (c. 1500)

If you are one of the Jewish Christians who had started this church in Rome after returning home from Jerusalem after that first Pentecost of the Church (Acts 2), who then had been expelled from Rome by Claudius only to return to a very different, Gentile church, what are you thinking?

See, we were right!

Look what they come from.

Sure, they are Christians now, but can anyone really reform that much?

Their heritage is riddled with perversion, idolatry, and revelry.

We are so much better than they are!

Get rid of circumcision?  What comes next?  Some pagan festival like the Bacchanalia?

We should be the leaders in this church.  You can’t trust people like this.

If you are a Jewish Christian in this Roman church, you are liking this new letter from Paul, a fellow Jew.  Preach on, brother!

What grabbed your attention in this chapter?

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Categories: Romans | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Romans 1: Those Perverted Gentiles

  1. Carl Slate

    Jason,
    Thank you so much for the background information. This really helps when reading the chapter and the entire letter.

  2. There is much in the more popular second half of this chapter that stands out. It is a vivid picture of what life becomes when people let go of God. We see that everyday in the news.

    Following a conversation with Eddy two nights ago in which we were talking about the human search for identity, these two sentences from the start of the book caught the attention of both of us (God seems to have a way of bringing related scriptures before your eyes following an important conversation, doesn’t he?).

    “His unique identity as Son of God was shown by the Spirit when Jesus was raised from the dead, setting him apart as the Messiah, our Master. . . . You are who you are through the gift and call of Jesus Christ!”

    This is a book all about identity. Jewish Christians argued with Gentile Christians over what it meant to follow Jesus. Paul starts by saying, we are not Jews or Gentiles. We have a new identity: follower of Jesus. Period. We have been baptized into a new identity.

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