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Romans 1 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Romans 1 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)

3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;

"Jesus ... was made of the seed of David according to the flesh."
Jesus is the son of David "according to the flesh." But this contradicts Matthew (1:18, 22:41-45) and Luke (1:34) which claim that Joseph was not Jesus' father.
Was Joseph the father of Jesus?
Although Jesus was not the son of Joseph according to the flesh, he was the son of Mary according to the flesh. On if Joseph was the father of Jesus, see Matthew 1:18.

4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:

6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:

7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;

10 Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.

11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;

12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

13 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.

14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.

15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

"Salvation to every one that believeth"
Is Salvation by faith alone?
The whole book of Romans is about salvation being by faith, so yes salvation is by faith alone as this verse clearly states, and the next chapters set out to prove.
There is a salvation by works as well, as Paul also states: if you keep the law perfectly, without a single fail, you can be saved as well. Unless we believe in Christ, we are under the covenant of salvation by works. But no man can walk this way of salvation anymore, as everyone sins. No one is perfect.

17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

"The just shall live by faith."
Has the ever been a just person?
As this verse says: yes, there are persons that can be called just. But see also Eccl. 7:20 where the author of the SAB reads a contradiction.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

(1:18-20) "The wrath of God" is on all unbelievers.

As they are under the law, they will be judged by the law.

19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

"They are without excuse."
Those who fail to see evidence of God's existence are "without excuse."
Can God be found from reason alone?
No one can fail to see the evidence of God. You can decide not to see it. But there are limits of what we can determine of the creator God, see Job 11:7. That is why we have his word in which God reveals himself fully.

21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

"Their foolish heart was darkened."
Atheists have dark and foolish hearts.
Ever met a happy atheist?

22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools."
Paul calls people fools, thus making himself worthy of "hell fire." (Mt.5:22)
Is it OK to call someone a fool?
It is not Paul who calls atheists fools, it is the Holy Ghost who drives him to write this. See also Matthew 5:22.

23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

(1:24, 26, 28) "Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness."
God abandons those who don't know him to "uncleanness and vile affections."
God abandons those who do not wish to know him. Who reject the evidence of a creator willfully. As we often see these people go into gross sins just to prove there is no God.

25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

"Served the creature more than the Creator"
The Religious Right often uses Romans 1:21-25 to condemn environmentalists. [more]
If we would ask the author of the SAB if he wants to save whales more than humans, what would his answer be? If he can rescue either 1 million whales or a single child, what would he do?

26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

(1:26-27) "God gave them up unto vile affections."
With his usual intolerance, Paul condemns homosexuals (including lesbians). This is the only clear reference to lesbians in the Bible.
What the Bible says about homosexuality
(1:27) "The natural use of the woman"
Paul explains that "the natural use" of women is to act as sexual objects for the pleasure of men.
(1:27 Jehovah's Witnesses) The Watchtower has also used this verse to condemn oral sex between husband and wife.
The author of the SAB reads this verse correctly. Modern theologians reinterpret this verse to say something it clearly does not.
On the Jehovah's Witnesses: the author of the SAB is correct, the Jehovah's Witnesses have described exactly what the allowed sexual interactions between husband and wife should be, causing great distress in many families. But as I have stated again and again Jehovah's Witnesses are not Christians. They do not believe a single doctrine of the Bible, but are guided by evil spirits. As Paul says elsewhere (Heb. 13:4): “The [marriage] bed is undefiled.” No church should ever take it upon themselves to proscribe in any shape or form the behavior of married people.

27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

(1:28-31) I'm not sure who Paul is talking about here, but they're all a bunch of proud, wicked, malicious, deceitful murderers, backbiters, and God-haters.
Paul is talking about those who “did not like to retain God in their knowledge.”

29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

(1:31-32) "They which commit such things are worthy of death."
Homosexuals (those "without natural affection") and their supporters (those "that have pleasure in them") are "worthy of death."
Will we see the destructiveness of this behavior for society as a whole only when it is too late?