Today we are going to look at Romans 1:17 one more time. Just to remind you, this is the key verse for the entire book of Romans. To understand this verse is to understand the book of Romans. It is the mountain peak of this epistle, the very summit, and it comes at the end of the prologue, which is Romans 1:1-17. Everything has been building up to verse 17, and we now find ourselves standing at the top of this extraordinary peak of truth. In Romans 1:17, Paul writes:
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith’ (Romans 1:17).
This was the text that ignited the Reformation 500 years ago. This was the verse that God used to convert an Augustinian monk, who had become a professor of Bible at the University of Wittenberg. His name was Martin Luther. On October 31, 1517, Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the front door of the church in Wittenberg. This was a protest as well as a call for a public debate regarding how a man could be right before God. At the time when he posted the Ninety-Five Theses, Luther was unconverted. It would be two years later, in 1519, that Luther would be saved.
At the time of his conversion, Luther was in the tower of the Castle Church, meditating on this very verse, Romans 1:17. He had assumed for many years that the righteousness of God was what God required of him. He knew he could not meet that standard, and he was angry with God. In fact, he hated God, because God had set a standard of righteousness that he could not meet. Luther’s understanding of God’s requirement of moral perfection is true for every one of us. The standard that God has set is absolute sinlessness. God does not grade on the curve or lower the bar to come down to our level, so that we can get over the bar. The bar is God's own holiness and His own moral perfection. We have all sinned and fallen short of that standard.
Luther understood that. He pushed himself by fasting and praying, and he would even beat up his own body in order to show God how sincere he was, to try to commend himself to God. He would sleep outside in the freezing cold without a blanket just to buffet his own body. But in all of these efforts, he felt like he was growing further and further away from God, rather than closer and closer. He realized that there was nothing he could do to commend himself to God, yet he realized that God required this perfection.
Luther was well taught in the Bible’s original languages, including the Greek language in which Romans was written. As he was meditating on Romans 1:17, it was like a light bulb suddenly came on, and he saw the truth. This righteousness of God is, in reality, the righteousness that comes from God. It is the gift of God. What God requires, God gives in the gospel.
Righteousness from God
This word “righteous” means to be right with God. It means to be declared right before a holy God in heaven. That is not something that we can work up. It is something that comes down from above, from God Himself. God provides the righteousness that every one of us so desperately needs in order to be made right with God. If we do not have this righteousness of God, we are not right with God. If we do not have this righteousness, we are going to hell.
As Romans 1:18, the very next verse, says, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." This includes every person who has ever lived. This wrath of God is the vengeance of God, it is the fury of God, it is the holy anger of God by which He damns sinners forever. And rightly so, because God is a holy God.
As Luther meditated on Romans 1:17, he finally understood the gospel. He said, "It was as if the gates of paradise were slung open to me, and I was born again." That is what it is to be a genuine Christian, a real authentic Christian. It is to be born again. The gates of paradise are swung open, and we enter into the kingdom of God. The only way is for us to receive the righteousness of God that has been secured for us through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
I have already discussed it, but it was Jesus’ sinless life and His substitutionary death that secured this perfect righteousness. He obeyed the law of God perfectly in our place, and He died upon the cross in our place. Those two aspects come together to achieve this perfect righteousness. By His life and death, Christ secured this righteousness on our behalf.
How Righteousness is Received
Now we must ask: How is this righteousness received? How will you receive it? It is the Giver of righteousness who sets the terms. We see clearly in verse 17 that this righteousness of God is received by faith alone. Faith, apart from any works. It is not faith and works. By faith alone.
Paul begins verse 17, "For in it..." The word "for" gives a reason why. We have to look back at verse 16, which says, “It is the power of God for salvation.” Verse 17 is an explanation of “the power of God for salvation.” It says, “For in it,” and the "it" refers to the gospel, "the righteousness of God is revealed."
This word for “revealed” is the word from which we derive the English word apocalypse, which means ‘an unveiling.’ Something was hidden, and then it is uncovered. For example, if a museum commissioned an artist to construct a statue of a famous person, there would be a public ceremony, and the statue would be there before the front door of the museum with a canvas that would drape over it. The people would be gathered, and at the proper moment in the ceremony, the canvas would be removed, and there would be an unveiling of the statue. Everyone would be able to see what had been previously hidden.
This is what this word “revealed” means. It is the unveiling of the message of how sinful man can be made right with holy God. God must reveal it. We cannot discover it on our own. We cannot find it. We cannot make it up or invent it. God must take the initiative and reveal it, or unveil it, to us. It is all by God's initiative. You will also note “reveal” is in the present tense, meaning this gospel is always being revealed as the word of God is being taught and being preached. It is the continuous, ongoing unveiling of this message that we are looking at today.
As we continue in verse 17, “…is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’” Three times in this one verse we see the word “faith.” That is very significant. This is a rare verse in which the same word is used three times, and it becomes very obvious that the building focus that Paul has here – this righteousness from God, secured by Christ – is received exclusively by faith. So, what can we say about faith – saving faith? We are going to look at this word, “faith,” and I will give you ten headings that will help us understand it better.
I. The Meaning of Faith
Number one is the meaning of faith. What does faith mean? Faith (pistis) means a commitment to, it means a trust in, it means a reliance upon. Those are all synonymous statements for what is true saving faith. It involves the mind, the heart, and the will. With the mind, you must know the truth of the gospel. You must know the truth about your standing before God, that you are unrighteous and under the wrath of God. Then with your heart, you must be persuaded of the truthfulness of that reality. Then with your will, you must make the firm commitment with your life to Jesus Christ in order to receive the righteousness you desperately need.
You must take the step of faith and entrust all that you are to the Lord Jesus Christ. No one else can make this decision for you. It is a commitment that only you can make. Your wife cannot make it for you, your parents cannot make it for you, and your kids cannot make it for you. This is the commitment of your life that you must personally make, and it happens at a fixed point in time.
This is the decisive moment when you enter through the narrow gate. One moment, you were outside the kingdom, and the next moment you are on the inside. By faith alone, you come to Jesus Christ and receive His righteousness. Charles Spurgeon said that faith is the eye that looks to Christ. It is the hand that reaches out and grasps Christ. It is the mouth that devours Christ. And I would add it is the feet that run to and after Christ.
That is what faith is. Faith does not sit still. Faith does not sit back. Faith does not simply think about it. Faith does not merely have warm feelings about it. True, saving faith goes yet further. Faith gets up and goes to Christ and looks to Christ and embraces Christ and receives Christ. That is the meaning of faith. So that is number one. We must be crystal clear about what faith is.
II. The Object of Faith
Second, we see in this prologue the object of faith, because faith by itself is impotent. Faith is no more powerful that its object. It is the object of faith that saves, and the object of faith is found in Romans 1:2-4. In this prologue, it is the object of faith that is written in the Holy Scriptures. Do you see that in verse 2? Specifically, the holy Scriptures testify about the Lord Jesus Christ. They tell us that He is the Son of God, He is the Son of David. The Bible clearly testifies to the person and work of Christ.
We do not have faith in our self. We do not have faith in a church. We do not have faith in a Bible study. We have faith in the person of Jesus Christ. If you put faith in anything else, you are unconverted and without hope. You cannot have faith in faith. It must be faith in Jesus Christ, as presented in the word of God. He is the sole object of saving faith.
III. The Evidence of Faith
Third, as we come to verse five, we see the evidence of faith. Paul talks about the obedience of faith, which means ‘the obedience that comes from faith.’ In other words, it is faith that produces obedience. Disobedience is the result of unbelief. Obedience flows from faith. The book of James will tell us that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). That means disobedient faith is no faith at all, it is just religious talk. Genuine saving faith is an obedient faith. With this decisive step of faith, you come under the authority of the lordship of Jesus Christ, and you immediately begin to walk in obedience to the word of God. As soon as you come through the narrow gate, you are under new management, as you are now under the authority of the word of God.
A lifestyle of living in obedience to the Lord Jesus is not something that happens five years later. It is not something where you finally go to a men's retreat ten years later and you say to yourself, "You know, I think I now need to get committed to Jesus Christ and His word." No, this kind of obedience is first activated on the front end of the Christian life. The moment you take the step of faith through the narrow gate and enter into the kingdom, you immediately are in submission to the authority of the word of God. It is not a one-two delayed reality.
This is critically important. This obedience begins when the gospel is presented to you, because the gospel is more than a free offer. It is a divine command. We are commanded to repent. We are commanded to believe in Jesus Christ. Either we are obedient to the gospel or we are disobedient. It is a serious thing to hear the gospel. When we do, we must make the choice, to either be disobedient or obedient to the command of the gospel to believe upon God's Son, Jesus Christ.
This obedience of faith continues throughout the entirety of our Christian life. It is not just an obedient first step. It is obedient steps, plural, for the rest of our lives. Do we ever disobey? Of course we do, but we confess that disobedience, and we repent. We then continue on our journey of faith.
IV. The Cause of Faith
What produces faith? Where does faith come from? Faith does not originate within us. We were spiritually dead in our trespasses and sin. Nothing can come out of death, apart from God working within us to raise the dead.
I will never forget the day I was in seminary, and the professor asked this question, "What can a dead man do?" Someone on the back row yelled out, "Stink." That is all a dead man can do, just stink. With that one question, my entire understanding of salvation came crashing down, like taking one rock, throwing it into a glass window, and the entire window is shattered. In that moment, as we were studying the preaching of George Whitefield, I saw that there is nothing that a spiritually dead sinner can do. Dead men do not come to Christ. Dead men do not believe. Dead men only stink and, really, run away from Christ. God must give the gift of faith, and that is what God provides.
Verse 6 is tied in with the call of Jesus Christ. In verse 6 Paul says, "Among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ." This is the effectual call of Jesus Christ. It is a divine summons that apprehends the one called. It is even stronger than a summons, it is a subpoena. When Jesus calls, He makes us willing in the day of His power, and we come. This is just like when Jesus stood before Lazarus' grave and said, "Lazarus, come forth." If He had not said, "Lazarus,” the whole graveyard would have risen and come forth. That is how powerful His call is. He calls us individually by name, and in the day that He calls us, we come to faith in Jesus Christ.
In that same moment, Jesus grants us the gift of repentance. He gives us the gift of saving faith. That we repent and believe is all of grace. It is all the result of God working in us. That is why Romans 11:36 says, "From Him and through Him and to Him are all things." Even the faith we exercise in Jesus Christ is from God. So the cause of faith is God Himself. It is God alone who birthed you into the kingdom.
I could put the question this way, "What did you do to be born?" Very little, like zero, with the edges trimmed off. You had less than nothing to do with your physical birth. You just showed up. Jesus intentionally chose to use that metaphor of being born again, because it is all a work of grace. The cause of faith is the call of God. When God summons us to faith, He gives us faith in that split second. When He calls us, we believe.
V. The Priority of Faith
Number five, the priority of faith. I want you to look at verse 8, because faith is mentioned multiple times in this opening prologue. Paul says, "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world." Do you see how Paul elevates faith and establishes its priority? In other epistles, he will say, "faith, hope, and love," and that triad of Christian virtues is really the priority in the Christian life. But the letter to the Romans is such a gospel-centered book that he mentions only faith, because that is the dominant theme running through this opening prologue. He will mention faith again in verse 12. He will mention it again in verse 16 with the word "believes," and he will mention it three times in verse 17.
Their faith is what was being proclaimed throughout the whole world. Look at what is happening under Cesar's watch in Rome. Look at what is happening in the most immoral, pagan, wicked, foul, cesspool of a city. These believers are sparkling diamonds in this dark coalmine. It is their faith that is shining so strong and bright in this dark place. Because of their faith in Christ, they are not being squeezed into the mold of the evil world system. They are not trying to be like everyone else in the culture. They do not want to be lukewarm and blend in with the environment around them. They are distinctively standing out, and what is causing them to stand out is their faith. Everyone is talking about it. Even the unbelievers are talking about it – the whole world, referring here to the whole known world in the Roman Empire.
The importance of faith is understood in Hebrews 11:6, which says, "Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." In simplest terms, that is precisely what faith is. It is diligently seeking after God and living in obedience to God. The priority of faith is clearly seen here, and there must be this priority of faith in your life.
There must be that aspect of your life which cannot be explained apart from your faith in God. It cannot be explained by your natural gifts and abilities. It cannot be explained by your intelligence. It cannot be explained by this or that. There is no explanation for what is going on in your life, apart from your faith in God.
VI. The Power of Faith
Number six. I want you to see the power of faith. The next time faith is mentioned is in verse 12. Paul says, "That is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith." Do you see how powerful faith is? When we come together as believers, we encourage one another to trust God more. My faith is contagious with you, and your faith is contagious with me. We ignite one another’s faith, and we encourage one another by our faith.
When we are spiritually dull and our faith is not strong, we have a minimal effect upon other believers. But when I am living full-tilt for the glory of God, when I am sold out, when my emergency brake is not on, when I am in fifth gear, when I am pressing on to live for God, that has a ripple effect with others who are around me. It is not just me – it is you and every one of us in this room. I need your faith to be strong so you can encourage me. You need my faith to be strong so that I can encourage you. In that sense, we rub off on one another. Even the apostle Paul needed the faith of the Romans to encourage him.
In this light, none of us are immune to discouragement. None of us are immune to the danger of cooling off in our spiritual life. We all need other believers to stoke the flames of our heart in our fellowship with one another. That is what Paul is acknowledging here in verse 12. This is the power of faith. It impacts other people. It impacts your wife. It impacts your children. It impacts your work associates. It impacts others who come in contact with your life.
VII. The Necessity of Faith
Number seven, the necessity of faith. Verse 16 is the next time we see the same root word. It is the word "believes." That is the verb form of faith, which is used as a noun in verse 17. Belief and faith come from the very same Greek word. In verse 16 he says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." This is the necessity of faith. We cannot experience the salvation of God, the deliverance from the penalty of sin, and deliverance from the power of sin, except by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Please note, it is not faith and anything else. The hymn rightly says, "In my hands no price I bring, simply to thy cross I cling." This is the necessity for everyone. We must believe in Jesus Christ, or we are doomed to perish. There is no other way to come to God except through faith in Christ.
This begs the question, "Have you believed in Jesus Christ? Have you committed your life to Christ?" It is very possible to have this truth in your head, and it is very possible to have warm feelings in your heart. But in true salvation, you come to the altar, almost like in a wedding ceremony, and commit your life to the head of the church, the Lord Jesus Christ. You must take the decisive step of faith, as an act of your will, whereby you entrust your soul to Jesus Christ.
VIII. The Perseverance of Faith
Number eight, the perseverance of faith. As we continue in verse 17, Paul says, "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith." Among reliable commentators, there are numerous ways to interpret that statement. We would have to come back tomorrow morning for an entire study just to go through all of these different options. Great men have differed on this, but I am convinced that this is correct interpretation. When Paul says "from faith to faith," he is saying, "it is by faith from start to finish." You began the Christian life by faith, you continue by faith, and you will conclude by faith. That is, ‘from faith’ is saving faith. Then, when he says "to faith," that is daily faith. That is living by faith. That is pursuing faith, moment-by-moment and day-by-day.
This is very important, because it is not that someone merely prays a prayer, walks an aisle, raises a hand, and joins the choir, and they think they are in the kingdom of God. Because they are baptized, they think they are in. But then, they go back to the world and live the same way they previously did, where nothing has changed. That is not a true conversion to Jesus Christ. That is a false conversion of self-deception. True conversion begins with genuine faith, and it continues day by day in a walk of faith, a life of faith. That is the meaning.
“Live By Faith”
I will tell you the second reason why I am convinced that this is the proper interpretation. Look at the end of verse 17. Paul says, "But the righteous man shall live by faith.” This person is converted by faith. That is assumed from verse 16 and the first use of the word faith in 17, but he is talking about a living, daily, practical faith, in which "the righteous man shall live by faith."
When Paul says "the righteous man," he is referring to the man who has exercised saving faith in Jesus Christ. He has been justified by faith and declared righteous by God. His legal standing before God has now been changed. He is right before God under the law, because of Christ and what He has done for him.
But it is not that he only stands by faith. He now lives by faith, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is the daily reality of the direction of his soul. True faith is not just a Sunday morning deal. This is not a one morning a week thing. This is not just a Christmas experience or an Easter experience. This is living by faith throughout the entirety of one’s life.
You persevere in this life of faith regardless of the challenges, regardless of the temptations, regardless of the difficulties, regardless even of the persecution and the rejection. You live by faith. You press on in this lifelong journey of faith that you have begun. This is the perseverance of faith.
Faith that Perseveres
We must understand that saving faith is the gift of God. When God gives this gift of faith, it is a faith that will never implode. It is a faith that will never stop believing. It may weaken. It may slow down at times, but it will never dissolve. A believer will never become an unbeliever. For faith in Jesus Christ to ever become unbelief again is theologically impossible, doctrinally impossible, exegetically impossible, any way and every way you want to slice it.
Look at verse 17 one more time, "From faith to faith." It is impossible to go from faith to unbelief. You can only go from faith to faith. It is impossible to go from faith to apostasy. It is impossible to go from faith to unfaith. No, true faith can only go in one direction, because this involves such a powerful work of God in the soul. This is not what we do. Instead, this is what God does in us. It is from faith to faith, that is, saving faith can only move forward. It goes from faith to faith. “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13)
Spurgeon said, "Noah fell down many times in the ark, but he never once fell out of the ark." We can fall down in the Christian life. But we will never fall away from the Christian life. It is not a matter of me holding onto God; it is a matter of Him holding onto me. There is a huge difference in that.
I have my son James here. When James was a very young boy, we would be crossing the street, and I would have ahold of his hand. He would be holding my hand, but there would be times he would let go of me. He would step off the curb, but he would be swinging in mid-air, because I have ahold of him, and I would never let go of him, even if he let go of me. That is the way it is in genuine, true salvation. God gives us a faith that goes from faith to faith. God will never let go of us.
IX. The Dynamic of Faith
Number nine, the dynamic of faith. We see this in verse 17 also. I have already underscored this, and perhaps I got ahead of myself a little bit earlier. The dynamic of faith is found in the word "live." That is not a static word, but an active word. That is a dynamic word. We live by a living faith.
Genuine faith, as I have already said, is full of energy. It is energetic. That is why we have to move out. We cannot say, "Let us just pray about it." We do need to pray about whatever is before us. But we also need to do more than pray about it. We need to take steps of faith to obey.
X. The Breadth of Faith
Finally, we see the breadth of faith. This is implied when Paul says, "live by faith." This refers to the entirety of our Christian life, which is to be lived by faith. This refers to not just our church lives, not just our spiritual lives, but to our business lives, our family lives, our recreational lives. Every component part of our lives, every room in the house of our lives, the entirety of our lives is to be lived by faith.
Throughout our Christian lives, we are not meant to be self-reliant. None of our lives should be lived in self-dependence. We should always be anchored to God in every aspect of our lives. We need God, not just to go to heaven, but to go to work. We need God, not only for our relationship with Him, but in all of our relationships upon the earth. Every aspect of our lives is to be lived by faith. It is our whole lifestyle.
What I want us to see in this study is this major theme of faith that runs throughout this opening prologue. Faith is specifically mentioned in Romans 1 verse 5, verse 8, verse 12, verse 16 as a verb, and three times in verse 17. The importance of faith is clear.
You cannot be saved apart from faith. You cannot be sanctified apart from faith. You cannot be what God desires you to be and experience the abundant life that Christ has come to give you apart from faith. Remember, though, it is an active faith, it is a faith that works, it is a faith that moves out, and it is a faith that produces obedience. Nevertheless, faith is the fountain from which your daily life of active faith flows. “From faith to faith.”
I will drop anchor here. As we have gone through these verses, tell me what leaps off the page and grabs your attention? What is tapping you on the shoulder? What is pulling on your lapel as you look at these verses? It may be something that you have already known, but is a needed reminder, or it may be a new insight that we have uncovered today.
Audience: I was thinking how it is comforting to know that I am inadequate. I am not anything spectacular at all. It is comforting to know that everything was done by the Lord. I need to remind myself of that, and trust in Him that he is going to provide. As you were saying, "What God requires, God provides." That is in my mind. I do not know how He is going to do it, but He does know how. I know that everything is possible with Him. That is something I need to cling to everyday, because, as you were saying, wherever I go, I need the Lord.
Dr. Lawson: Thank you for sharing that. This was really the heart of the issue with Augustine and Pelagius at the beginning of the fifth century. Augustine said, "What God requires, we cannot give." Pelagius, who was an unbeliever, said, "That makes no sense," and started the heresy of Pelagianism. Augustine responded, "What God requires and what I cannot provide, God supplies." That really became a major point in the development of doctrine in the church. It would be that very point that Luther, Calvin, and the Reformers would go back to 1,000 years later. Allen, you put your finger on a major point. That was a mountain peak of church history, and the whole issue, as Augustine saw, was that what God requires, God supplies. That is a huge point.
Audience: In verse 17 and verse 18, the verb "revealed" is used. It says righteousness is revealed in verse 17, and then unrighteousness is revealed, or specifically, “the wrath of God is revealed,” towards unrighteousness, in verse 18. Same verb, two diametrically different situations. Is there anything more that we can draw from that?
Dr. Lawson: Yes. I find it very important that these are both in the present tense. In verse 18, "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven." It is not that one day it will be revealed in hell. But right now, this very moment, the wrath of God is already hovering over every unbeliever and is ready to be unleashed upon the sinner the moment they die. There will also be other expressions of divine wrath that will fall upon them, even during this lifetime, certain cataclysmic events. It is a present reality in verse 18. It is not one day at the great white throne judgment, the wrath of God will be revealed. It will be revealed then, but it is already, right now, in the present tense. It is suspended and hanging over the unbeliever.
Likewise, in verse 17, it is in the present tense. You wanted me to dig down just a little bit on this. If you turn back to Romans 3:21, we see the verb used. It is translated in the American Standard as “manifested.” "But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested" (Romans 3:21), or revealed. It is in the past. That points back to the cross where the righteousness of God was supremely revealed 2,000 years ago at the cross.
The only time that phrase, "the righteousness of God" is used in the New Testament, outside of the book of Romans, is in 2 Corinthians 5:21. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” That is referring to the cross. My sins imputed to Christ, credited to Christ. His righteousness credited to me. That took place, according to Romans 3:21, 2,000 years ago at the cross. Here in Romans 1:17, it is present tense. That is why verse 17 refers to the present ministry of the word of God and the preaching of the gospel. There is this present revelation of what Christ did 2,000 years ago every time we open our Bible, and every time the word of God is preached. We preach Christ and Him crucified. There should be this revelation of the righteousness of God as we speak, and as we preach, and as we witness to one another.
This very second, the righteousness of God is being revealed to you through this verse as we are looking into God's word. For unbelievers, it is being revealed to them, but so also is the wrath of God being revealed to them. Now, that wrath is no longer being revealed to us, because in Romans 8:1 it says, "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
That is because Jesus propitiated, which means ‘satisfied or appeased or placated,’ the wrath of God in Himself. He became, not only our sin bearer, but also our wrath bearer. Upon the cross, Jesus bore the penalty for our sin, which was divine wrath inflicted upon Him. It is a package deal. If you bear the sin, you bear the wrath upon the sin. There is no wrath left for us.
The wrath of God, metaphorically, was in the cup as Jesus said, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." He knew He would have to drink that whole cup empty. All the foul dregs in that cup, He would drink, and take to Himself the judgment of God for our sins, the wrath of God. He drank every single drop for all for whom He died. There is not one drop of wrath left for any believer to ever have to undergo or to experience. Christ took it all to Himself.
If you have put your faith in Christ, I can think of no better news than this, that there is no wrath left. Christ perfectly propitiated, that is the biblical word in Romans 3:25, “propitiation.” That is an awkward word, I admit. We do not use it in day-to-day conversation. But it is God's word, it is a biblical word, and it means that the wrath of God has been fully satisfied and appeased toward all who put their faith in Christ.
The moment you believe, you go from being under the wrath of God to no wrath. That is a really big deal. Even with the elect, the wrath of God abided upon them before they were converted to Christ. In Ephesians 2:1-3, Paul says to the believers in Ephesus, “you were dead in sin, you were a child of wrath,” meaning a child deserving wrath. You walked according to the course of this world, and according to the prince of the power of the air. Everyone who was chosen in Christ, redeemed by Christ, and sealed by the Holy Spirit, was under the wrath of God until they came to faith in Christ, when God called them to Himself.
Thanks for the question, and teeing us up to dig down a little bit more in that verse. That is all we have time for today. Next week, we will look at Romans 1:18.