Romans (03): The Fall
Romans: An Exposition (03) - The Fall of Mankind
All Saints * Dr. Gregg Strawbridge * June 8, 2008
TEXT: For the wrath of God is revealed from the heavenly throne against all of the impiety and injustice of mankind who hold back the truth in unrighteousness 19 because the knowledge of God is manifest in them because God was manifest to them, 20 because His invisible realities from the creation of the world are clearly perceived through His handiwork, even his eternal power and deity, so that they are without a reasonable defense. 21 So, even though they knew God, they did not glorify God nor did they give thanks, but their reasoning was futile and their senseless hearts were blinded. 22 Alleging their own wisdom, they became worthless fools. 23 And they transformed the glory of the undying immortal God for a warped mirrored image of dying, corrupt man and birds and beasts, even creeping reptiles. 24 Therefore, God Himself handed them over to the lusts of their hearts into the impurity of degrading their own bodies with one another, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for lies and worshipped and served the creation instead of the Creator who is blessed into the ages. Amen. (Romans 1:18-25, GS trans.)
The Rising unto Life - In Romans 1:1-7, Paul gives the thematic declaration of the “Announcement” (“gospel”) in a “nutshell” - that Jesus is Lord. The declaration that Jesus is the “Son of God” by the resurrection (1:4) is a terse summary of the whole of redemption accomplished. Because: The covenant regards the restoration of true Israel which brings such salvation to all nations (Gen. 12:1-3; Is. 40ff). That Jesus is the True new Adam (“Christ”) via resurrection is foundational since “salvation” is deliverance from sin-death and restoration from alienation with God which came to be in the Fall of Adam & Eve. That is when the relational separation of “death” came into the world (5:12). Sin is fundamentally relational. All other aspects of death (separation) and futility flow from broken relationships. Thus, the right relations of Jews and Gentiles in Christ in churches like Rome are important in that they fulfill or nullify the gospel destiny of the covenant promise of restoration. The first topic then is to recap the entry of sin and death into the world.
The Fall into Death - Starting in verse 18, Paul explains the Fall of mankind with pagan overtones. This unpacks the rationale that the “righteous ones” (17) must live in faith and establishes that both Jews and Gentiles need Jesus. He argues that originally all people knew God. The knowledge of God is (present) in them because God “was” (aorist/past tense) manifest to them. Then in v 20 the argument is made that by the “handiwork” (poima) of creation His invisible realities are clearly perceived. The result is that for pagans, whether Greeks or Barbarians, that “they are without a reasonable defense” - literally they are without an “apologetic.” So, even though they knew God, they failed to give Him His due which leads to a further “blinding.” Then when they go to worshiping men, beasts, lizards and the like, the result of idolatry is immorality. “Therefore, God Himself handed them over to the lusts of their hearts into the impurity of degrading their own bodies with one another, who exchanged the truth of God for lies and worshipped and served the creation instead of the Creator who is blessed into the ages. Amen.” This leads straightway to homosexuality which is a radically distorted picture of the image of God in humankind, “male and female, He created them” to reflect His image (Gen. 1:27).
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more