The Bible Knowledge Commentary includes notes on the book of Romans by John A. Whitmer. It begins with a basic introduction into the book of Romans, along with a precise and detailed outline of the book. Pages 435-450 provides commentary on the first three chapters of Romans.
It is noted that in the first seven verses of chapter one, we have an Epistlotary greeting. This includes: naming and indentifying the author, naming and indentifying the recipient, and a word of salutation. In verses 8-15, we find Paul establishing a rapport with his readers. He mentions how he longs to see them and share with them the things that God has revealed to him. Verses 16-17 give us the theme of the book of Romans. The theme is established as the righteousness of God revealed in the Gospel. Here we are introduced to the term ‘justify’ of which Paul uses frequently in the book of Romans. To be justified by God, is to be declared righteous. It should be noted that justification is a declaration of righteousness and not a making of righteousness.
After the introduction is given, we come to the first major section of the book of Romans (1:18-3:20) which is God’s righteousness revealed in condemnation. Before someone can come to grips with the Gospel, he or she must understand that they are condemned before God because of their sin. In 1:18-32, we find the condemnation against pagan humanity. Even those who never hear the Gospel are without excuse due to the natural revelation of God in creation and the inner innate knowledge of God found in every human being. Those who respond to what light they do have from God, is given more light by God in order to lead them to a place where they can hear the true Gospel and have the opportunity to accept it. However, Paul demonstrates how that man does not naturally respond in such a way, instead, man has an inclination to turn away from the truth of God that they do know and suppress that truth and turn to the worship of creatures and idols rather than to the one true God. In 2:1-16, we find that this condemnation is according to divine standards. The point here is that everyone in the entire human race has turned away from God. The judgment of God on sinful humanity is based on three basic standards: truth, impartiality, and Jesus Christ.
Once Paul establishes the point that all stand condemned before God and no one has an excuse, he then deals more specifically with the condemnation of unfaithful Jews. He tells them that just because they have been given the oracles of God, they cannot escape the judgment of God. They are condemned for several reasons: because of their hypocrisy, because of their trust in rites, and because of their unbelief.
Paul concludes this section in chapter three by concluding that God’s righteousness is revealed in the condemnation of the entire human race. The fact is, we are all sinners and because we are sinners, we are condemned. Therefore, God is righteous and just to condemn us due to our sin. However, not all is hopeless. As we will see beginning in verse 21 of chapter 3, God does have a plan. That plan has to do with a beautiful word: Justification.