I, Paul, an apostle whom God appointed to proclaim the good message about Jesus Christ, am writing this letter to all you believers who are in Rome. I pray that God will continue to act kindly toward you and grant you peace.
I thank God that people everywhere are talking about how you believers in Rome are trusting Jesus Christ. I pray that God will permit me to visit you soon. I want you to know that I have longed to visit you, but things have always prevented me. I am eager to proclaim the good message to you who are living at Rome also.
I very confidently proclaim the good message about what Christ has done, both to Jews and non-Jews, because by that message God reveals his way of declaring all people righteous.
Everyone can clearly know what God is like; so no one has a basis for saying, “We never knew about God.”
So God let the non-Jewish people feel compelled to do disgraceful things, which resulted in their dishonoring their bodies sexually. He did this because they worshipped idols and things that were created instead of worshipping God. As a result of both men and women having unnatural sexual relations, they have been punished as they deserve.
The result of God's letting people become obsessed by their own depraved thoughts was that they themselves began to do all manner of evil things that God says are improper. They even approve of others doing such things.
Any one of you Jews who condemns non-Jews for doing evil will be condemned by God, because you also do the same evil things.
Because God is not influenced by a person's status, he will recompense each person according to what that person has done.
All non-Jews will be eternally separated from God for their sin and all Jews will be condemned for their sin, since it is only those who have continually obeyed his laws whom God will justify.
It is disgusting that any one of you who has all the advantages of being a Jew would disobey God's law and, by doing so, insult God.
God will consider non-Jews acceptable to him if they obey his laws, and such non-Jews will declare God is right in condemning those who disobey his laws, because it is only those who are changed inwardly who are true Jews and acceptable to God.
My reply to the objection that there is no advantage in being a Jew or being circumcised is that there is much advantage, especially since God entrusted his promises to us. My reply to the objection that God has not kept his promise is that he certainly has, for his promises are always true. My reply to the objection that it is not right for God to punish us Jews is that it certainly is right for him to punish us, because if God did not judge us Jews he could not judge anyone.
My reply to a query about whether God will treat Jews more favorably than non-Jews is no, because the Scriptures make clear that all people are condemned by God for their sin.
In summary, no one is able to object to God's condemnation; everyone has been declared guilty by God.
Now God erases the record of sins of everyone, Jew and non-Jew, who trusts in what Jesus Christ has done for them. God presented Christ as the one who would atone for sins by dying on the cross.
So we are prevented from boasting that it was because of our obeying the Mosaic laws. And God will also accept non-Jews on the same basis. And by agreeing that people are declared righteous by their trusting in Christ, we actually confirm, not nullify, the Mosaic laws.
We can draw conclusions from Abraham's life about how God erases the record of our sins. Abraham could not boast about his accomplishing that because the Scriptures record that it was because he believed what God promised that God erased the record of his sins. God's doing that was a gift, not a reward.
This happiness of knowing that God has erased the record of our sins is also for the non-Jews. Remember that it was before Abraham was circumcised, when he was still in effect a non-Jew, that God did that. He later received circumcision simply as a sign of God having erased the record of his sins because of his faith. The result was that he became a spiritual father of all who believe in God as he did, whether they are circumcised or not.
It was because Abraham trusted in God that God erased the record of his sins and promised him many blessings. So what God promised is guaranteed to all, both Jews and non-Jews, who trust in God as Abraham did.
It was because Abraham confidently believed God's promise to give him many descendants, when there was no physical basis for his hoping that this would happen, that God erased the record of his sins.
The words about God erasing the record of Abraham's sins were written also to assure us who believe in God.
Because God has erased the record of our sins, we have peace with him, we experience his acting kindly toward us, we rejoice because we expect to receive God's glory, and we even rejoice in suffering because we know the results that it brings.
Because Christ died for us ungodly people, he will certainly save us from God's eternal punishment, and so we boast of what he has done for us.
Although the sin of one man, Adam, led to all people dying and God declaring that they deserved to be punished, Christ's righteous act of obedience when he died led to many people experiencing God's kindness and being declared righteous and living eternally, and it will also result in their ruling with Christ.
If someone were to say that perhaps we should continue to sin in order that God may continue to act more kindly toward us, I would reply that we who ought to consider ourselves unresponsive to sinful desires should certainly not continue sinning. We must keep remembering that it is as though our former sinful nature has ceased to function, and it is as though we have become unresponsive to sinful desires, living in a new way. So do not let the desire to commit sin control you. Instead, present yourselves to God to do righteous things.
If someone should conclude that people can sin now because they are not obligated to obey the Mosaic laws, I would say, “Certainly not!” Instead, let your minds compel your bodies to act righteously.
You know that after people die they are freed from being required to obey any law. Similarly, God has freed us from being required to obey all the Jewish rituals and laws.
My reply to the objection that the laws of Moses are evil because they cause us to sin is that the laws are holy and good; what the laws do are simply to reveal that what we are doing is sinful.
My reply to the objection that God's law, being good, causes people to become spiritually dead is no, it is our desire to commit sin that causes us to sin and become spiritually dead.
The laws came from God's Spirit, but you and I are influenced by our sinful natures. We often do not do the things that we desire, and we do the things that we detest because of a desire to sin that permeates us and prevents us from doing good, unless Christ frees us from being controlled by these desires.
God will not in any way condemn those who are united to Christ Jesus, because God's Spirit has freed us from the inevitability of sinning and from spiritual death.
We are compelled to live as the Spirit directs, not as our self-directed nature directs, because if we do the latter we will be eternally separated from God, but if we cease doing the latter we will live eternally.
Because we who allow the Spirit of God to guide us are God's children, we will also inherit eternal blessings from God.
Since everything that God has created is eagerly awaiting the time when he will reveal who are his true children, I consider that what we suffer now is not worth paying attention to.
God's Spirit helps us when our spirits feel weak; he prays for us and God understands what his Spirit intends.
God works out all things in a way that produces good spiritual benefits for us who love him. He does this because, having known that we would be saved and thus we would have the character of his Son, he chose us and declared us righteous, and he will surely give us future splendor.
We must conclude from these things that no one can prevail against us, and absolutely no one and nothing can separate us from Christ's loving us and God's loving us.
I tell you very sincerely that I grieve greatly about most of my fellow Israelites having rejected Christ. I would be willing to be separated from Christ if that would help them believe in him.
This does not prove that God has failed to do for Abraham what he promised, because, as Scripture illustrates, it is not all who are naturally descended from Jacob or Abraham whom God considers to be his children, but it is those who were born as a result of what God promised whom he considers his children.
As the Scriptures indicate, God's choosing people depends not on their wishes or efforts. He helps whomever he wants to help, and he makes stubborn whomever he wants to make stubborn. We cannot conclude that God is unjust in choosing the ones he wants to choose.
My reply to anyone's objection to this doctrine is that God has a right to carry out his purposes; he tolerated the people who caused him to be angry, in order that he might disclose how gloriously he acts toward those on whom he intends to have mercy.
The non-Jews found the way by which God could declare them righteous. The Jews did not succeed in fulfilling what the Mosaic laws require. Instead, they tried to find a way to be declared righteous by doing things in order that God would accept them.
My deep desire and earnest prayer is that God will save the Jews, who do not understand how to seek him correctly.
The message of Scripture is that those who confess publicly that Jesus is their Lord and who believe inwardly that God raised Jesus from the dead will be saved, because God accepts people only because of their faith, Jews and non-Jews alike.
There may be those who object by saying, “If God does not send someone to preach to the Jews, they cannot ask Christ to save them.” My reply to them is that God has sent people to preach about Christ to them, but most of the Jews have not accepted the gospel. However, some Jews do believe in Christ, and many other people are indeed hearing the message.
In reply to a query of whether the Jews have heard or understood about Christ, I would say that, as is supported by the Scriptures, they have heard it and should have understood it, because even the non-Jews, who were not searching for God, understood it.
God has certainly not rejected all Jews. I am evidence of that. Just like in the past, there is also at the present time a small group of us Jews who have become believers.
The Scriptures confirm that the people of Israel as a whole did not find the way of being declared righteous, although those whom God had chosen did find it.
My reply to a query as to whether the result of the Jews' unbelief is a permanent falling away from God is, “No! God is saving many non-Jews to make the Jews envious and thus seek to be saved.”
I highly esteem the work that God has called me to do as an apostle among you non-Jews. I hope that I will make my fellow Jews jealous, and as a result, some of them will be saved.
You non-Jews who trust in Jesus must not despise the Jews whom God has rejected. You must not become proud, but instead beware. God will not spare you if you fall away from him, and he will certainly act kindly toward the Jews if they trust in Christ.
I want you to know that all the people of Israel will some day be saved, as the Scriptures say will happen. God still loves them because of their ancestors. It is his purpose to act mercifully towards them as well as toward all non-Jews.
I appeal to you that you present yourselves to God by making yourselves like living sacrifices, which is the appropriate way to serve him. Do not let anything non-Christian determine how you act, but instead let God change your way of thinking.
Do not think about yourselves more highly than you should. Instead, think about yourselves sensibly, in a way that corresponds to the abilities that God has given to you because you trust in Christ. May we do diligently and cheerfully what God has given us ability to do.
Instead of avenging yourselves, allow God to avenge you; and instead of being overcome by evil done to you, overcome evil deeds by doing good to those who do evil to you, because this is what the Scriptures command.
Be subject to civil authorities, because those who oppose them oppose what God has established and will bring punishment on themselves. Do what is good and then they will commend you. Give to all the authorities what you are obligated to give to them.
Do not leave any debt unpaid. Your only continual obligation is to love one another, because doing so fulfills all that God's law requires.
Because it is time for us to be fully alert and active, we must quit doing wicked deeds. We must do those things that will help us resist that which is evil, we must live properly, and we must be like Christ.
Accept those who are not sure whether they are permitted to do certain things. Anyone who thinks that it is all right to eat all kinds of food must not despise those who do not think that, and those who do not think that it is all right to eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, because God has accepted them.
Each person should be fully convinced about observing special days, thinking and deciding for himself and not for others. We should try to please God by everything we do.
You should neither condemn nor despise your fellow believers who believe differently about religious regulations than you do, because it is God who will say whether he approves of what we have done.
Instead of condemning each other, decide not to do anything that might lead your fellow believer to sin by following your example and which would then cause others to speak evil of you.
Try to do what will help fellow believers to be at peace with each other and to grow spiritually. Do not destroy what God has done in others' lives as a result of your eating certain things.
We should not be irritated by the practices of those who are uncertain whether God will condemn them for doing certain things that the Mosaic laws forbid. Instead, we should do things that please our fellow Christians, because Christ has set us an example.
Accept each other as Christ has accepted you, remembering that what Christ has done was both to help the Jews and to cause non-Jews to praise God.
I have written frankly to you in this letter because of what God has kindly commissioned me to do among the non-Jews.
I am happy about my work for God that I have now completed in this region by proclaiming the gospel in places where people have not heard about Christ.
Because of this work, I have often been hindered from visiting you, but I hope to see you as I journey through your area and I hope that you will give me what I need for my next journey. But now I am about to go to Jerusalem to take funds to God's people there. So later I will visit you in Rome, and I know that Christ will bless us there.
I urge you to pray fervently that God will protect me from the unbelieving Jews in Judea and that God's people there will accept the money that I take to them, and also that I may be refreshed by visiting you. May God be with you all.
I am introducing and commending Phoebe to you, and I ask that you receive her as a fellow believer and that you give her whatever she needs.
I send my greetings to many individuals among the believers there. All the congregations in this area also send their greetings to you.
Note those who are causing quarrels among you and those who cause people to turn away from God. Avoid them, because they only want to satisfy their own desires and deceive those who do not suspect their motives. If you avoid such people, God will soon crush Satan under your feet.