After eleven chapters of the most profound theological thinking ever penned, the Apostle Paul ends the didactic part of his epistle to the Romans with a response praising God for the wonder of His Person and His ways, as they have been seen in the incredible truths which Paul has just been presenting. These truths have not remained lodged in his head alone, but have filled his heart as well; and he apparently cannot contain himself as he bursts forth with a song of praise to the God who has made these things possible. Paul has dug deeper into the depths of the divine mystery than anyone ever had, and there is still plenty of cause for standing and wondering at the still unplumbed depths of God’s wisdom and understanding and grace and love:
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?
Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again?
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever. Amen! (Romans 11:33-36)
Paul was not just a great theologian; he was also a great worshiper. For Him, theology was not an end in itself; it was a means to the infinitely greater end of knowing God better and hence being able to praise Him more fully. He understood that it was for that purpose that He had been made and saved and called into ministry.
J. I. Packer once wrote: “The purpose of theology is doxology. We study in order to praise.”
—Ron Man, “The Principle of Praise: Theology Serves Doxology”
As Karl Barth says, the wrath of God, the “no” of God against our sin in Romans 1, is the “next-to-last word.” And the next-to-last word is for the sake of the last word, the “yes” of the gospel. Realignment comes first with the atoning work of Christ in Romans 3, the resulting new life in the Spirit in Romans 6-8, finding our place in God’s story in Romans 9-11, and the resulting new community in Romans 12-16.
—Don Williams, “A Charismatic Worship Response,” in Exploring the Worship Spectrum, 245
Paul’s account of man’s wickedness [Romans 1] has been deliberately stated in terms of the Biblical narrative of Adam’s fall.
—M. D. Hooker, “Adam in Romans I,” New Testament Studies 6 (1960), 301
The sequence of events outlined in Romans 1 recalls the story of Adam in Genesis 1–3. God revealed to Adam what can be known of Him (Rom 1:19), and that from the creation onward, God’s attributes were clearly discernible to him in the things that had been made and that he was thus without excuse (v. 20). Though Adam knew God, he failed to honor Him as God, and grew vain in his thinking and allowed his heart to be darkened (v. 20). Adam’s fall was the result of his desire to be God, to attain the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 3:5), so that, claiming to be wise, he in fact became a fool (Rom 1:21).
—M. D. Hooker, “Adam in Romans I,” New Testament Studies 6 (1960), 300
You’re never more like Satan than when you’re trying to be God. [Isaiah 14:14; Genesis 3:5; Romans 1:21,25]
Romans 1:18-23 captures the essential nature of idolatry as consisting precisely in the confusion of the creature with the Creator.
—Larry W. Hurtado, At the Origins of Christian Worship, 110
Romans 1:18-32 is a foundational passage for understanding all of Paul’s theology. . . . [It] centres on the nature of worship. Human beings are clearly portrayed as creatures who must worship, and whose sin lies in the fact that they do not choose to worship as they should. . . . The real goal and scope of redemption [is] the restoration of true worship and the destruction of the false.
—Noel Due, Created for Worship, 29