Romans

The Gospel of God's Son Jesus

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An Introduction to Courses

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Taster Course

A short introduction

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Starter Course

Getting into the guts of what’s going on

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Main Course

The meat! And what to do about it!

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Dessert Course

Material for Church leaders and Tertiary level students

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The Key
The Key to unlocking the dynamic

Introduction to the letter of Romans: Having successfully planted churches in the capital cities a several of the Roman provinces in the Eastern Mediterranean, Paul writes to the Christians in Rome ahead of his forthcoming visit to the imperial city. His purpose in this letter, (which is written to a city has not visited), is to unite the Jewish and Gentile believers into one church, which will then serve as a platform for his gospel mission throughout the Roman Empire. In order to achieve this Paul articulates his gospel in which through faith in Christ and his atoning work both Jews and Gentiles are saved equally and jointly into one community of faith and love.

Paul’s articulation of the gospel in ‘Romans’, (1:16 – 11:36) is the leading, the longest, and the most thorough and detailed expression of the gospel in the New Testament, and as such has inspired, shaped and directed all the leading renewal and mission initiatives throughout 2,000 years of church history. But Paul’s argument tests the finest minds and the theological and Biblical study of this letter at the beginning of the 21st Century is as lively as ever. I have therefore provided a short glossary of Paul’s key words.

 

 

Key Words:

See the glossary with explanations of some key words.

 


hear
Hear
Listen Here

Listen to the Bible for Life podcasts on Romans

 

Download a Bible App for your smart phone and listen when you’re at the gym, travelling in the car …


Read
Read

Read Romans through aloud in one sitting.

 

Or in the four sections:

(1) 1:16 – 5:11,

(2) 5:12-8:39

(3) 9:1-11:36

(4) 12:1 – 15:22


Watch
Watch

Film:   Sin City

A film that shows the destructive effects of immorality.


Study
Study

Study the Bible for Life material and answer the ‘meal course’ questions relating ‘Romans’ to the 21st Century.

 

 


Meditate
Meditate

Suggested verses for meditation …

 

Atonement               Romans 3:21-26

Sanctification          Romans 6:11-14

Sonship                     Romans 8:13-16

Transformation       Romans 12:1-2

Unity                          Romans 15:5-9


learn
Learn

Consider learning:  Romans 8:13-16

For if you live according to the sinful nature you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship and by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

Maps

The Eastern Mediterranean

taster course

Overview

Questions

5 mins

    • Video - The book explained in 4 minutes
    • Video
    • /
    • Summary

    Summary

    Between 56-57AD, having successfully planted churches in the capital cities of several Roman provinces in the Eastern Mediterranean, Paul sets his sights on visiting the imperial capital Rome. He had heard reports that the church there is divided between the Jewish Christians, who were continuing to practice the demands of the Mosaic law such as circumcision, food laws and the Sabbath, and Non-Jewish believers, who having been converted out of a pagan background and were not following these laws. So he writes this letter, first to unite them, and secondly to envision the Roman church to be a platform for his gospel mission throughout the Western part of the Empire.

     

    In the letter of ‘Romans’ Paul writes a magisterial statement of the gospel in order to demonstrate that Jew and Gentile believers are equally united in Christ by their common righteousness (right-standing before God) which is established solely on the basis of faith in Christ Jesus, and brought into effect through the gift and work of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s overruling exhortation is that they stand together united ‘with one mind and voice’ and thereby ‘glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (15:6). Paul begins, (1:16-4:20), by arguing that although no-one will be judged righteous because of their obedience to the Mosaic law righteousness is now both possible and freely given to everyone who has faith in Jesus Christ. Indeed the first Patriarch Abraham is the primary example of someone declared righteous by God on the basis of his faith in God (Genesis 15:6). Believers are therefore free from the constraints of the law, and the power of the sinful nature to live in the Spirit (5:1-8:39).

     

    Therefore everyone who confesses with their lips that Jesus is Lord and believes in their heart that God raised him from the dead will be saved; (10:10-11). And in response we are to live our lives as a holy and acceptable sacrifice to God (12:1), and ‘accept one another, just as Christ has accepted you’ (15:7). Finally, we must not pass judgement on each other over secondary disputable issues (14:2).

     

     

     

    Summary >
    taster Questions - Questions to start you off

    Question 1 -

    One interesting example of the use of the word sin today is the “Sin Bin” on the Rugby pitch – players who make a serious foul are sent there for 10 minutes. Can you think of other ways the secular world uses of the word “SIN” today?


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    Question 2 -

    John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote; “All you need is love”. Where they right? (Romans 12)


    watch video

    Question 3 -

    Are there Jewish believers in your church? Does your church have members of other races, ethnic groups? How does your church celebrate the equality (and diversity) of all believers in Christ?


    starter course

    podcasts

    the essentials

    Questions

    10 mins

    • podcasts - 3 to 5 minute ‘Teach-Ins’ on key themes
    • Podcasts

    Romans 6 - Released from the control of sin

    Romans 14 - Handling disagreements in church

    Nick reads and comments on Romans 12-15

      the essentials - The literary features explained
    • Context
    • /
    • Literary Genre
    • /
    • Structure
    • /
    • Themes

     

    Context: Around AD56-57, while on his 3rd Missionary journey visiting the churches he had planted in the capital cities of the Roman provinces around the Eastern Mediterranean, the Apostle Paul wrote from Corinth to the Roman Christians ahead of his forthcoming visit to them. He planned first to deliver a gift of money to the Christians in Jerusalem and then   travel to Rome (Romans 15:18-29) ahead of his intended mission to the Western Mediterranean.

     

    The Situation in Rome: The Christians in Rome appear to have become polarised into two groups. The Jewish believers continued obeying the laws of Moses concerning; 1) Food, (not eating prohibited foods such as pork), 2) Observing the Sabbath and other Holy days, and 3) practicing Circumcision. But those believers   converted from a pagan (Gentile) background did not observe these laws. It is not  unlikely that the church had begun to split with these two groups meeting in separate house churches. So there was division suspicion and some hostility both within the believing community, and between the church and the wider Jewish community in the capital of the empire.

    Genre: The ‘letter to the Romans’ contains all the main elements of a letter: Greeting, Thanksgiving, a substantial body of closely and carefully argued theological and moral exhortations, personal greetings followed by a final benediction. The main substance, diatribe, contains catechism, question and answer responses and arguments. Paul uses rhetorical questions with imaginary opponents.

    1st – Paul introduces himself, his gospel and his apostolic authority (1:1-17.)

     

     

    2nd – The gospel of salvation (1:18-11:36.)

     

     

    1:18-5:11Human sin and atonement by faith.
    5:12-8:39The law, the sinful nature and the life of the Spirit.
    9:1-11:36God’s promises, His mercy, and the place of the Jew.
    12:1-15:13The lifestyle of all believers united in community.

     

     

    3rd – Paul’s apostolic ministry and his plans to visit Rome (15:14-16:27)

    The leading Themes in Romans:

     

    Paul is writing to unite Jewish and Non-Jewish believers

    The whole argument of the letter works towards the prayer and exhortation of 15:5-7; that the Jewish and Gentile believers accept and welcome each other and stand together, a unified church.

     

    Paul unites the Jewish and Gentile believers by demonstrating that both are made righteous by God solely on the basis of their faith in Christ.

    Jews and Non-Jews are both under the tyranny of sin despite the Jewish privilege of having the law. Since they are saved on exactly the same basis they must now stand together united. Paul’s overruling exhortation is that they stand together united ‘with one mind and voice’ and thereby ‘glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus ’ (15:6)

     

    Righteousness by faith:              (1:16 – 4:20)

    Righteousness (right-standing before God) is now possible for every human being solely on the basis of faith in Christ Jesus.

    No-one will be judge “righteous” before God through having obeyed the Mosaic law, because sin has caused all humanity to fall.

    Abraham, the Patriarch, is the primary and leading example in scripture that human beings are declared righteous by God solely on the basis of their faith in Him – Genesis 15:6. Abraham was declared righteous because of his faith, (his trust in the promise God had made to him). He was then circumcised as a sign of his faith.

     

    Freed from the Law, and Sin to live in the Spirit:    (5:1 – 8:39)

    Paul uses three illustrations to demonstrate that the believer has been freed from the Law and the controlling power Sin in order to live in the Spirit:

    • United in death & resurrection with Christ (6:1-14)
    • Set free from slavery (6:15-23)
    • Set free through the spouses death (7:1-3)
    • The Spirit fulfills the law’s requirements (8:1-4). The Spirit overcomes the sinful nature (8:5-13). The Spirit confirms our inherited status in God’s family (8:14-17). The Spirit leads us into God’s future plans for us (8:18-25). The Spirit forms Christ in us (8:26-30)

     

    Literary Genre >
    starter Questions - To help you think carefully about the key issues

    Question 1 -

    Your Jewish friend Reuben chooses to believe that “Yeshua ben Joseph” (Jesus, the son of Joseph), is the Messiah and as a public demonstration of his new faith is baptised. He then asks you if he should obey the strict Sabbath rules. What do you say to Reuben? (Romans 14)


    Question 2 -

    Reuben decides to keep the Sabbath rules, and a few months later comes to you and tells you that you should be should be keeping them to. He adds; “if you do this then the Spirit will really come in power”. How do you reply to Reuben?


    Question 3 -

    “Hell Houses” are a sort of 21st Century equivalent of the Medieval Morality plays in which the aim is to scare the audience, (usually young teenagers) into the arms of God. They take real life issues such as abortion, homosexuality, the devil and work on the fear element. If this is effective should Christians do this?


    watch video

    main course

    Verse by Verse

    Questions

    • Verse by Verse - For a thorough understanding of the Biblical text
    • Romans 1:1-17
    • /
    • Romans 1:18-4:25
    • /
    • Romans 5:1-8:39
    • /
    • Romans 9:1-11:36
    • /
    • Romans 12:1 - 16:27

    Part 1: Paul introduces himself, his gospel & his forthcoming visit to Rome.

     

    Romans 1:1-15

    The place of Romans 1:1-15 in the Context of …

    … the whole letter: Paul introduces himself with apostolic authority to proclaim the Gospel. He explains his intention to visit the Christians in Rome. The importance of this section is that it provides a ‘life context’ for his exposition of the gospel from 1:16 – 11:36 and its outworking in Jew-Gentile community in 12:1 – 15:13.

     

    Structure:

    The Circumstances of the letter                              1:1-15

    Paul introduces his Gospel                                       1:16-17

     

    1:1-15 – The Circumstances of the Letter:

    This falls into distinct parts. V1-6 begin the letter with a succinct summary of the gospel of God’s Son Jesus Christ, and Paul as God’s chosen apostle. In V7-15 Paul speaks of his intention to visit Rome and explains that he is writing ahead of his visit

    V1-4 – These verses are a crucial summary of the gospel. Basically Paul writes: “the gospel … regarding his Son … Jesus Christ our Lord.” We should note that the Jewish heritage of Jesus is emphasised, and there is no statement of atonement here (although there will be a lot more later).

    V5 – Paul tends to link his authority, his apostleship and the gospel together. The clearest example is Galatians 1, but it is definitely underlies 1 Corinthians 14:33b to 15:4. These three are mentioned in these opening verses.

    1:16-17 – Paul introduces Righteousness by faith as the power of the gospel for the salvation of all people.

    These two verses serve as a bridge from the life circumstances of Paul’s missionary team into the statement of the gospel. (Verses 15:8-13 function in a similar way but in reverse returning Paul and his hearers to their life situations.)

     

     

     

     

     

    Part 2: The Gospel of Salvation.

     

     

    Romans 1:16-32          Paul begins his exposition of the gospel.

    The place of Romans 1:16-32 in the Context of …

    … the whole letter: Paul begins his exposition of the gospel by describing humanity’s fall under the tyranny of sin.

     

    1:18-32 – God’s wrath is being revealed against all human wickedness.

    God’s power and nature are clearly perceived in Creation, but humanity suppresses truth and as a result neither honours God nor thanks Him. The result is that distortion comes to all human beings in three ways. Instead of worshipping God humanity turns and worships false Gods – this is the distortion in the spiritual realm v21-22. Second, humanity discards monogamous hetrosexual lifelong marriage as the God given arena for sexual expression and turns to other expressions of sexual behaviour. This is the distortion in the realm of the body. And third, humanity rejects the knowledge of God and chooses to behave in ways completely unlike God’s character. This distortion is in the realm of the soul.

    V18 – Wrath: 21st Century humanity has difficulty with the concept of the wrath of God. I think we should understand it as the God’s righteous and entirely consistent opposition to evil. Since God usually judges people by giving them the very results of what they have chosen, we should understand the wrath of God as being revealed through His allowing people – ‘he gave them over’ (v24, 26, 28) – to the results of their foolish and disobedient choices. So the one who worships an idol (which is anything that takes the place of God), becomes a slave to the idol. The one who practices sex outside monogamous hetrosexual marriage will receive all the results of such a choice. And the one who chooses to behave contrary to the character of God finds his character to become fallen and evil and marked in different ways by some of the catalogue of vile descriptions that Paul lists. I fully and openly admit that in my unguarded moments when people do evil to me every sin and fault that Paul lists in verses 29-31 pours out of my heart like a gushing fountain. Every human being is a magnificent creation, towering in beauty, potential and true greatness (because we have been made in God’s image and given authority to steward all creation), but we are also all fallen. We tower like magnificent castles in the Austrian Mountains, but we are castles in ruins with broken walls, and rats plaguing the open sewers. Who can honestly say they would like their daily thoughts published as a film for all to watch? Paul’s emphasis and point is that humanity is fallen and under the power of something far, far stronger and greater than us. It is so powerful and persuasive we hardly even know it is there. The problem with being deceived is that we are not even aware that we are deceived.

     

     

     

    Romans 2

    All humanity is guilty of sin, held by sin, and deserves judgement.

     

    The place of Romans 2 in the Context of …

    … the whole letter: Paul continues his argument (1:18-3:20) that every human being has broken God’s law, is a slave to sin, and deserves God’s punishment.

     

    Structure:

    All humanity is guilty of sin; so we cannot judge each other – 2:1-4

    The principles of God’s impartial judgement –  2:5-11

    The Righteous obey the law (which is written on our hearts) –  2:12-16

    The Jews ought to obey the law – but they don’t –  2:17-24

    Circumcision counts for nothing if you disobey the law –  2:25-29

     

    2:1-4    All humanity is guilty of sin; so we cannot judge each other

    v1 – Every single human being is guilty of falling short of God’s high standards in the three areas of; spirit-worship (1:22-25), body-sex (1:26-27), soul-character (1:28-32). So no one is an any position to judge another human being.

    V2 – God judges people on the basis of the true facts – because He is the only one who knows the true facts. This is the second reason why God and not humans should do the judging.

    V3 – no human can judge another because we ourselves are guilty of the same ethical and moral crimes.

    V4 – God in His merciful forebearence is giving humanity time to repent – and we must take this opportunity now.

     

    2:5-11 The principles of God’s impartial judgement

    v5 – Stubborn refusal to repent will lead directly to the full force of God’s wrath on the day of judgement.

    v6 – This verse states the leading principle of judgement. The punishment is directly proportional to the offense: Lex Talionis.

    V7 – Those who have dedicated their lives to the persistent seeking of good will be rewarded with eternal life. We should understand that Paul is addressing those who have not heard of Jesus.

    V8-10 – But there will be wrath and anger for those who are ‘self-seeking (selfish), reject the truth, and follow evil’. Paul is establishing a perfectly fair principle here, although the problem that he will go on to show is that no one actually does this – all fall short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23. Verses 9 & 10 elucidate this principle and spell it out; ‘there will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil’, and ‘glory, honour and peace for everyone who does good’. The second principle is that because of their election as God’s people it is the Jews who are judged first, and after them the non-Jews.

     

    2:12-16   The Righteous obey the law (which is written on our hearts)          

    v12 – those who have never heard of the law (Torah), or Christ, and sin will be judged for their sin outside the law. And those who have heard the law (the Torah) and then sin will be judged by the law they have disobeyed.

    V13 – What matters is obedience, not simply hearing the law.

    V14-15 – Some non-Jews show by their obedient lives that the requirements of the law have already been written in their hearts and consciences.

    V16 – God will use these very principles of judgement when through Jesus he judges the world.

     

    2:17-24            So the Jews ought to obey the law – but they don’t          

    v17 – 24 Paul, the Jew, turns on his fellow Jews and states that although they are privileged to have God’s law they do not obey it! And because of this hypocrisy God’s name is held in contempt by non-Jews.

     

    2:25-29            Circumcision counts for nothing if you disobey the law

    v25-27 And it’s no use bragging about being circumcised if you don’t keep the law, because God is far more concerned about obedience than the outward sign of circumcision.

    V28-29 Paul answers the question; Who is a Jew? By saying that a Jew is someone whose heart has been circumcised by the Spirit of God. God looks on the heart, not on the outward cutting of a bit of the body – which anyone can do.

     

     

     

    Romans 3          God has provided righteousness by faith in Christ.

    The place of Romans 3 in the Context of …

    … the whole letter: Paul summarises the first part of his argument: the Jews and indeed all humanity are under sin. But God enables men and women to stand righteous before him through believing in Jesus.

     

    Structure:

    The unfaithfulness of the Jews, despite their privileges does

    not invalidate the righteousness of God –  3:1-8

    The law (Torah) demonstrates that all humanity is under sin –  3:9-20

    God has provided righteousness for humanity and this is dependent on faith in Jesus –  3:21-31

     

    3:1-8    The unfaithfulness of the Jews, despite their privileges does not invalidate the righteousness of God.

    V1-2 – Is there in fact any advantage in being a Jew, (since circumcision is of no advantage if you don’t keep the law). Yes, there are many advantages, for a start they have been given the very words of God – (which is a strong statement about the authority of scripture).

    V3-8 – Our sinful unrighteousness in no way limits or detracts God’s righteousness as judge and His perfect ability to judge humankind.

     

    3:9-20  The law (Torah) demonstrates that all humanity is under sin.

    V9 – Jews are no better than non-Jews; all humanity is under sin.

    V10-18 – Paul lists a whole flood of quotations from the Old Testament describing the total falleness of humanity. This is the scriptural validation of the description of humanity at the end of chapter 1.

    V19-20 – When judged on the basis of the law (Torah) all humanity must be declared to be under sin. Instead of declaring us righteous the law has the opposite effect of making every man and woman conscious that they have fallen short of God’s standards, His desire and His intentions for us.

     

    3:21-31   God has provided righteousness for humanity and this is dependent on faith in Jesus

    v21-22 – God has provided a way by which men and women can be in right standing with Him, and this is by believing in Jesus.

    V23-24 – We are justified by faith in Christ and his redemption.

    V25-26 – God presented Christ as a sacrifice, and we are atoned when we believe in him.

    V27-31 – Jews and Non-Jews are justified equally through faith in Christ, and not on the basis of obeying the Torah, so no one can boast that they are unique, special and spiritually privileged.                                              

     

     

     

    Romans 4      Abraham the Patriarch was justified by his faith in God.

     

    The place of Romans 4 in the Context of …

    … the whole letter: Having argued that all humanity are guilty of sin and stated that humankind can now be justified by faith Paul sites Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, as the leading example. Abraham was himself considered righteous because he believed the promise God made to him.

     

    Structure:

    Abraham was justified by his faith. Circumcision followed later –  4:1-12

    Abraham is the father of all who have faith, Jews and non-Jews –  4:13-24

     

    4:1-8    Scripture declares Abraham righteous because he believed.

    Paul quote Genesis 15:3 as ‘prima facie’ evidence that the father of the Jewish nation was declared righteous solely because he believed God’s promise to him, and lived on the basis that it was true. King David also believed this.

     

    4:9-12 Abraham is the father of all who believe, regardless of circumcision

    Since Abraham’s circumcision was simply a sign of his faith (on the basis of which God had already declared him to be in right-standing with Him), Abraham is therefore the father of all who have faith in God in the same way that had faith in God, regardless of whether they are circumcised or not.

     

    4:13-15 Because of human sin the law was incapable of bringing humanity into the great purposes of God.

    In these verses Paul lays a foundation for what he will discuss and take further in the following chapters. Paul’s argument develops very quickly in these statements, but his argument is that the law simply proved humanity unworthy of any blessing from God – in fact worthy only of wrath! But because Abraham believed God’s promise to him, he was considered righteous. And because he was considered righteous God gave him the astonishing promises that will benefit all humanity – ‘many nations’.

    V14 needs careful consideration. Paul states that if the way to being declared righteous is by obeying the law (contrary to Abraham’s experience in Genesis 15:3), then God’s promise to humanity is worthless because no one can keep the law.

    V15 And where there is no law there is no transgression’ If there are no boundaries then no one can go “out of bounds”, and as a result be judged a sinner. In the realm of faith there are no boundraies, so there are no transgressors, and so no one who believes is judged a transgressor – a sinner.

     

    4:16-24 Paul studies Abraham’s faith and the process of his believing

    In this section Paul examines how Abraham set about believing God’s promise that he would be the father of many nations, despite the fact that he had no son from Sarah, and both him and Sarah were both incapable of having children. Crucially; ‘he was strengthened in his faith as he gave glory to God’. In other words worship causes faith to grow, (compare with the word of God being the origin of faith in Romans 10:17).

    V25 – Again Paul states a summary statement that he will later go on to elucidate. It is through faith in Jesus’ death that we are delivered from our sins, and it is through faith in his resurrection that we are declared righteous – ‘in right standing with God’. In Baptism (Romans 6:2) we are united with Jesus in His death, this is why it is imperative to be Baptised.

     

     

     

    Romans 5

    Paul describes the results of faith: justification, grace, reigning with Christ.

     

    The place of Romans 5 in the Context of …

    … the whole letter: Having argued that all humanity are guilty of sin and stated that humankind can now be justified by faith Paul begins to describe the benefits of being justified. He describes how Christ’s work of grace and reconciliation is far greater than the sin of Adam, which brought death.

     

    Structure:

    The benefits of justification by faith –  5:1-11

    The effect of Christ’s grace is far greater that the effect of Adam’s sin –  5:12-21

     

     

    5:1-11  The benefits of justification by faith.

    Justification by faith in Christ immediately places the believer in a place of peace with God, where he or she stands in grace now, with the quiet certainty of the prospect of the living in future in the glory of God. Even the daily sufferings of life are now means of his blessing because God uses them to make us more like Christ. The great work of the Spirit is to cause us to love God and this is the motivation for turning from all sin and falling short. And the second reason we love God is because Christ died for us while we were even sinners (while we were wicked), v6-8. And since we are justified and at peace with God we no longer need fear the day of His wrath. We were reconciled to God through Christ’s death, and are being saved by his life.

     

    5:12-21   The effect of Christ’s grace is far greater that the effect of Adam’s sin.

    V12-14 – Sin reigned in death from Adam to Moses

    V15-21 The grace of God through Christ has a far greater effect than the sin of Adam. The free gift brings justification to many, and those who receive the grace and righteousness from Christ reign in life through Christ which is ‘eternal life’.

     

     

     

    Romans 6          The believer has been set free from the prison of sin.

     

    The place of Romans 6 in the Context of …

    … the whole letter: Having argued that all humanity are guilty of sin and stated that humankind can now be justified by faith, Paul continues to describe the benefits of being justified. Since the believer is justified and stands in a place of grace the law has no rights over the believer and consequently the prison door of sin is open. The believer has been set free from the power of sin and can now leave the prison of sin and live as a slave of righteousness, which leads to sanctification and eternal life.

     

    Structure:

    United to Christ in Baptism we are now dead to sin –  6:1-4

    United with Christ, we are set free from sin, and alive to God –  6:5-11

    Present yourself to God as an instrument of righteousness –  6:12-14

    Live as slaves of righteousness which leads to sanctification –  6:15-19

    The fruit of righteousness is sanctification and eternal life –  6:20-23

    6:1-4    United to Christ in Baptism, we are now dead to sin.

    Baptism unites the believer with Christ in his death. So just as Christ was raised by God to new life, so the believer is raised into a life free from the power, dominion and control of sin.

     

    6:5-11 United with Christ, we are set free from sin, and alive to God.

    This paragraph rehearses and enlarges on 6:1-4. Our old self was crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20), and buried with him in his death through our baptism. Now, united with Christ, we are also raised with him and consequently sin has no legal control over us. The door of the prison of sin is open and there is no legal charge against us, (because it has been completely cleared by Christ). We are free from the control of sin and law and the resulting death, and so we must understand and view ourselves as free to live with Christ.

     

    6:12-14 Present yourself to God as an instrument of righteousness.

    Don’t allow yourself to be driven and motivated by the passions of the sinful nature, but now that you are living in grace present yourself to God (who redeemed you through Christ), and present your members (all your gifts and abilities and potential) to God as instruments of righteousness.

     

    6:15-19   Live as slaves of righteousness which leads to sanctification

    We have been set free from the legal control of sin and are now a slave of righteousness – which leads to sanctification.

     

    6:20-23   The fruit of righteousness is sanctification and eternal life  

    A life under the control of sin leads only to death, but a life lived under grace leads to righteousness, sanctification and eternal life (John 10:10).

     

    Argument of 6:15-23

     

    QQQ   Can’t we just do what we like because we are saved by grace, and are not under the (now redundant) law ?

     

    AAA    No, because even though law is redundant we are still slaves to what we

    follow.

     

    17a  You used to be slaves of sin

    17b  BUT NOW – you wholeheartedly obey this new teaching

    18  AND – you are now a slave of righteousness

    19  You used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and ever increasing wickedness, BUT NOW – you should offer them in slavery to righteousness which leads to holiness

    20 When you were slaves of sin you were free from the control of righteousness …

    21   … the result was shame and death

     

    22  BUT NOW – you have been set free from sin,  and have become slaves to God. AND the benefit you reap leads to holiness, AND the result is eternal life

     

    Topic Before Now
    Ownership Slaves to sin – v16 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness – v18
    Action & Strategy You used to offer the parts of your body to impurity and increasing wickedness – v19 Wholehearted obedience to the (gospel) teaching – v17

    Offer the parts of your body in slavery to righteousness v19

    Benefit Nothing but Shame v21 Leads to Holiness v22
    Results Death Eternal life

     

     

    The verb tenses are important. The best illustration is that our prision cell doors have been thrown open by the superlative atoning work of Christ. Every person is free to walk out of prison IF THEY WANT TO. Only those who love prison will stay there.

     

     

    The way out of the prison (of binding sinful behaviour) is:

    1st   v11 – Consider yourself completely dead to sin – (utterly unable to sin) !!!

    Corpses don’t sin

    Area: THE MIND: change in thinking understanding & perspectiv

     

    2nd v13 – Offer yourselves to God – v13 – Offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of Righteousness (and v 19)

    Area: THE BODY – a change behaviour, action & service

     

    3rd   v17 – Wholehearted obedience to the gospel (new testament) teaching

    Area: THE HEART – 100% devotion to obeying Christ, simply and solely because we are devoted to him. You do not hurt those that you love. This love of Christ is implanted in us by the Spirit whom he has given to us. Paul exhorts Timothy to “train yourself in godliness” – these activities involve the practice of Spiritual Disciplines.

     

    4th   In Romans 8:13 Paul summarises this clearly – but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body …

     

    The motivation, strength and drive for this comes from our love for Jesus – for who he is (1:4), for what he’s done (5:8), and because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (5:5). While it is absolutely true that the fear of the Lord keeps a man from sin, it is also much more wonderfully true undivided devotion to Christ motivates us to love what he loves and hate what he hates.

     

    Are we then teaching perfectionism? – No, but we are teaching that if you offer yourselves to God in this way (as described above), you will reap the fruit of sanctification which leads directly to the free gift of eternal life. – v22&23.

     

     

     

     

    Romans 7        The believer has been set free from the tyranny of sin.

     

    The place of Romans 7 in the Context of …

    … the whole letter: Having argued that all humanity are guilty of sin and stated that humankind can now be justified by faith, Paul continues to describe the benefits of being justified. Since the believer is justified and stands in a place of grace the law has no rights over the believer and consequently the prison door of sin is open. The believer has been set free from the power of sin and can now leave the prison of sin and live as a slave of righteousness, which leads to sanctification and eternal life.

     

    In Romans 6 Paul argued that the prison of sin has been broken open and the believer is now able, and should now, leave a lifestyle of sin. He then argued that licentiousness, (doing anything we want because we are under grace and not law), is not an option because a life committed sin will still lead to death. His point is that the believer can and should leave the lifestyle of sin. But before describing the life of the Spirit (in chapter 8), Paul deals with the place of the Law, (the Torah) in chapter 7. The law is good, holy and spiritual, but it has caused, and been implicated in the just judgement and death of humankind and the (temporary) frustration of God’s good purposes. In chapter 7 Paul vindicates The Law and places the blame firmly on sin itself. This is arguably the deepest and most complicated chapter in Paul, because it describes the way sin works in human beings and at points describes the human condition as utterly and hopelessly controlled by the titanic power of sin.

     

    Structure:

    Just as the marriage covenant is terminated by death, so the believer’s covenant with the law has ended, and we are in a new covenant with the Spirit.  7:1-6

     

    The law is good, holy and spiritual but sin in humanity is utterly sinful and titanically powerful  7:7-25

     

     

    7:1-6    Just as the marriage covenant is terminated by death, so the believer’s covenant with the law has ended, and we are in a new covenant with the Spirit.

    Illustration: Marriage covenant is ended by death. The believer is released from the covenant to Torah, (through being joined – by faith and baptism – with Christ in his death), and is now joined in covenant to the Spirit. Instead of being bound in covenant to Torah we are now bound in covenant to the Spirit

    • First we (humanity) were bound in covenant to Torah – this lead directly to death, because of our sinfulness.
    • Torah demanded death; The Messiah, (representing humanity died, and we through baptism have become united with him in that death).
    • So we are now bound in (marriage) covenant to the Spirit, (who is the Lord).

     

    7:7-25  The law is good, holy and spiritual but sin in humanity is utterly sinful and titanically powerful.

    The law itself is holy, righteous and good, (& spiritual v14). But SIN, working in the sinful nature, which is thoroughly wicked, is empowered by the law itself to justly condemn humankind.

    It is absolutely imperative to understand that in this chapter Paul is addressing questions about the Law (torah), and NOT the questions in the troubled breast of the committed disciple; The stated questions in verses 7 & 13 are clear. Paul’s description of “his” struggle with sin is first to show that Torah is exonerated because that is emphatically not where the problem lies, and second, to describe the human plight without all the benefits of the Cross – atonement (chp3), righteousness (chp4), grace (chap5), and above all – the Spirit (8:2, 13).

     

     

    1) First fact; Paul is describing human life without the effect of the atonement, grace, and the life of the Spirit, without the “wholehearted obedience to the teaching (6:17), and without the practice of “offering ourselves to God” (6:11).

    The passage describes what it is like to be under the law while in the clutches of sin and the flesh (sinful nature); and according to both 7:1-6 and 8:1-4 for the believer that all belongs to the past. Note especially 7:5 “WHEN we WERE in the flesh, the passions of the flesh USED TO BE AT WORK aroused as they were through the law.”)

     

    2) Paul is completing the horrific description of SIN and power of sin in humanity which he began in Chapter 1, continued throughout 3:9-18, and which leads to death in chapter 6. In Chapter 7 Paul takes the description to the very brink of personifying sin as a titanic demon in whose hands humanity is utterly and helplessly bound and blind. Sin is so woven into the very weft and warf of our human condition that we simply cannot climb out of the pit.

     

     

     

     

    Romans 8          Life in the Spirit

    The place of Romans 8 in the Context of …

    … the whole letter: Having argued that all humanity are guilty of sin and stated that humankind can now be justified by faith, Paul has described the benefits of being justified and given grace in Christ. In Romans 8 he describes how life in the Spirit with Christ far surpasses the life under the tyranny of sin.

    In this magisterial passage Paul elaborates what he had previously established in 7:5-6: the Spirit is God’s alternative to Torah and the antidote to the flesh. The coming of the Spirit (on the basis of the death of Christ);

    Is the experiential, life-giving power to life in Christ.

    Signifies the end of the time of Law (Torah)

    Makes both Jew and Gentile (equally) God’s children and thus heirs of God’s final glory.

    Makes possible the righteousness which the law, weakened through sin and by the flesh, could not establish.

    Is the escatological down payment , the first fruits of the future,including the final resurrection and glorification of our mortal bodies.

     

    Structure:

    The life of the Spirit is greater than the sinful nature –  8:1-17

    The renewal of creation and the revelation of God’s children –  8:18-30

    God is for us and nothing can separate us from his love  8:31-39

     

    8:1-17 The life of the Spirit far surpasses the sinful nature

    v1-2 The “third law” of the Spirit sets people free from the “second law” of sin and death. (8:3-8 will address freedom from sin, and 8:9-11 will address freedom fro death)

    v 3-4 Christ and the Spirit are God’s new way over against the “first law” of Torah as well, which was powerless in the face of the “second law” of sin and death. Through the Spirit believers are now able to walk in true righteousness.

    V5-8 Paul contrasts two kinds of existence, characterised by “flesh- sinful nature” and “the Spirit”. Those under the sinful nature are neither submitting, or able to submit, to God’s Torah and consequently cannot please God.

    V9-11Linking paragraph, introducing the escatological issues which will dominated the remainder of the chapter. (Torah now fades from the argument until 9:31)

    V12-13 The believer has an obligation to live according to the Spirit, by whom we are urged to put to death the misdeeds of the body. (The Sinful nature now drops from the argument, and is only mentioned once again in 13:14).

    V14-17 – Elaborate the believers new identity, adopted into God’s family, destined with Christ, to inherit the glory of God, if they share in his sufferings.

     

     

    8:18-30 The renewal of creation and the revelation of God’s children

    v18-21 The renewal of creation is inextricably linked with the children of God coming fully into their maturity. Paul identifies three essential aspects:

    v22-25 First; through the Spirit the believers are caught up in the labour groans (pains) of the new creation – which is our HOPE.

    8:26-27 Second; the Spirit enables God’s new children to pray

    v28-30 Third, God works in every situation for our good towards the ultimate goal of conforming everyone of us to Jesus himself.

     

     

    8:31-39 God is for us and nothing can separate us from His love in Christ v31-39 God has predestined, called, justified and glorified his children – there is absolutely no charge against them, and nothing, nothing, nothing, can separate us from his eternal love through Christ.

     

     

     

     

    Section 3                 9:1-11:36   In this third section of his letter Paul addresses the issue of how the Jews, as God’s chosen people, relate and respond to his gospel. This is obviously problematic; because Paul needs to explain why, in rejecting the gospel God’s people have rejected God’s purposes for them. Although Paul does answer this question the argument of these chapters is not very clear as evidenced by the confusion in many commentaries.

     

    My strategy here is to start from the overview and move towards the specific.

     

    So, what can we see about Paul’s argument in these chapters?

     

    1) Paul develops his argument in the same way that he develops his arguments in two of the main sections of 1 Corinthians; 8-11 and 12-14     

    1st he introduces the subject and eliminates basic misunderstandings (Romans 9, 1 Cor 8, 1 Cor 12)

    2nd he establishes the principle for addressing the question (Romans 10, 1 Cor 9, 1 Cor 13)

    3rd he applies the principle to the issue (Romans 11, 1 Cor 10, 1 Cor 14)

     

    2) Every statement of the gospel that does not include a proper reference to the Jews as God’s people is incomplete!

    Paul’s statement of the gospel runs from 1:18-11:36, three chapters of which concern the Jews and their place in God’s purposes.

     

    3) Whatever the complications of Paul’s argument in these three chapters the key summary statement seems to be 11:32, ‘For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.’

    This conclusion leads immediately into the wonderful song celebrating God’s wisdom and divine oversight that ends the section, and the whole statement of the gospel; 11:32-36.

     

    We should therefore make the following sub-points;

     

    • We cannot allow any double predestination! 9:16-23 must be understood in the light of 11:32. Christ came to save people not condemn them (John 3:17f). In order to save humanity God may need to work in strange ways with some (Pharaoh), but even in such extreme cases His purposes must be understood as to be for their salvation (1 Corinthians 5:5).
    • Salvation is now available to all human beings, Jew and non-Jew, solely on the basis of faith. The principle at the heart of God’s saving process is faith – as described at length in Romans 10. (Note the parallel argument about the principle of love determining the use of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 13 – exactly the same stage of Paul’s argument.) No one is privileged. ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ (Romans 10:13).
    • God seems to choose to work through a remnant. He chose to fulfil his purposes for humankind through only one of Abraham’s sons, and only one of Abraham’s grandsons (9:6-13), and even now in his sovereign purposes he chooses only a remnant of Abraham’s family (11:5). (Jesus chose to work only with twelve.)
    • We are left with an awareness of holy fear at the end of Chapter 11. God’s work is perfect and deeply loving, but there is absolutely no room for boasting or arrogance. Do not be arrogant but be afraid (11:20).

     

     

    Romans 9

    God’s work of salvation began with Abraham and then Abraham’s children, the Jewish nation. Paul now asks why the Jewish nation has rejected their Messiah?

    The place of Romans 9 in the Context of …

    … the argument of the whole letter: Having established the principle of salvation for every person who believes in Christ, Paul now addresses in chapters 9-11 the place of the Jews in God’s eternal salvation plans.

    … Romans 9-11: Paul turns to the question; why have God’s own people rejected their Messiah and God’s purposes, and does this mean that God has not fulfilled his promises to the Patriarchs, and that as a result His own righteousness is thereby brought into question.

     

    Structure:

    Paul longs for the Jews – who are privileged – to turn to Christ 10:1-5

    God has always used only a few of His people to fulfil his plans 10:6-13

    God does what He wants to do – we have no right to criticise  10:14-29

    The Jews stumble over ‘salvation by faith’  10:30-33

     

    9:1-5    Paul longs for the Jews – who are privileged – to turn to Christ

    Paul longs that his fellow Jews will be saved, even to the point of longing that he could forfeit his place so that they would be saved. They have all the great privileges but still refuse to turn, believe and be saved.

     

    9:6-13 God has always a few of His people to fulfil his plans

    God has always worked on the principle of choosing a few. This is seen in the choice of Abraham’s children, (Isaac not the others), Rebeckah’s children (Jacob not Esau),  

     

    9:14-29   God does what He wants to do – we have no right to criticise

    It is God who acts sovreignly from first to last. He shows his power and intervention in exactly the way He wants, even in the case of Pharoah whom Moses confronted.

    V20 – this principle of God’s election appears tyrannical at this point unless we look ahead directly to 11:32 ‘For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all’. We will not understand the sovereign action of God in this life, life will always appear unfair, but we do know that He works in order to have mercy on all. ‘while we were still sinners Christ died for us.’ 5:5. God works in order to bring the outsider in.

     

    9:30-33 The Jews stumble over ‘salvation by faith’ 

    This is Paul’s interim summary having introduced the problem of the Jewish rejection of Christ in this chapter. He has established three things. First God always works by choosing the few. Second, He is sovereign and does exactly what He wants, but His guiding motivation is always that He will have mercy on all. Third, that the Jews have stumbled over the primary ‘operating principle’ that salvation is by faith, not by works of the law. From the foundation of this interim summary Paul will develop ‘salvation by faith alone’ in Chapter 10.                    

     

     

    Romans 10

    Salvation is available to everyone, Jew and Non-Jew, solely on the basis of faith.

    The place of Romans 10 in the Context of …

    … the argument of the whole letter: Having established the principle of salvation for every person who believes in Christ, Paul now addresses in chapters 9-11 the place of the Jews in God’s eternal salvation plans.

    … Romans 9-11: Having opened up the important, (and difficult), question about the place of God’s own people and the problems raised by their rejection of the Messiah, in Chapter 10 Paul revisits, and re-establishes the principle that on the basis of the cross salvation is available to all people, Jews and Non-Jews, solely on the basis of faith.

     

    Structure:

    Paul longs for the Jews – who are privileged – to turn to Christ 10:1-4

    Paul describes the process of believing and confessing faith  10:5-13

    The great necessity of preaching the gospel  10:14-15

    The Jews have a history of not believing what God says  10:16-21

     

    10:1-4 Paul longs for the Jews, who are privileged by God, to turn to Christ.

    Their zeal, which Paul acknowledges, is misguided because it pursues righteousness based on law, not on faith.

     

    10:5-13 Paul describes the process of believing and confessing faith

    Righteousness by faith is based on believing with the heart (by which a person is justified), and confessing – speaking out publically – with the mouth (by which a person is saved.) The great overriding principle comes from the prophecy in Joel 2 – Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. And we should recognise that this is an extremely wide promise! This immediately puts substance on the assertion in Romans 5 that the result of the victory of Christ is far greater than the effect of Adam’s sin.

     

    10:14-15 The Great necessity of Gospel preaching

    Paul interjects in his argument two verses stressing the vital importance of Gospel preaching. His argument, which he argues backwards, culminates in the crucial importance of Gospel preaching, and touches Jesus’ great commission that all Christians pray ‘for labourers to be thrust into the harvest’ Matthew 9:38. Apart from the Lord’s Prayer, this is the only specific request that the Lord taught us to pray.

     

    10:16-21 The Jews have a history of not believing what God said.

    Paul sites Moses, the Psalmist and Isaiah to show that God’s words have always been perfectly clear, but his people ignored them, so as a result God will work with others, people who are not even a nation.

     

     

     

     

    Romans 11

    God has hardened the Jews in order to have mercy on everyone.

    The place of Romans 11 in the Context of …

    … the argument of the whole letter: Having established the principle of salvation for every person who believes in Christ, Paul now addresses in chapters 9-11 the place of the Jews in God’s eternal salvation plans.

    … Romans 9-11: In Chapter 9 Paul opened up the important question about the place of God’s own people and the problems raised by their rejection of the Messiah. In Chapter 10 he re-established the universal principle of Salvation by faith alone. In Chapter 11 Paul applies this principle to the problem, and states that in order that He may have mercy on everyone, God has temporarily hardened the hearts of the Jews.

     

    Structure:

    A remnant of the Jews, chosen by grace, do believe  11:1-10

    Jewish rejection has brought life to the Gentiles  11:11-12

    Jewish acceptance of the gospel will bring life from the dead 11:13-21

    God’s kindness and sternness  11:22-24

    God has hardened their hearts in order to have mercy on all 11:25-32

    Song of praise to God  11:33-36

     

    11:1-10            A remnant of Jews, chosen by grace, do believe in Jesus.

    God has always worked on the principle of choosing and using just a few people. God has not rejected his people wholesale, He is using a few, just as He always has. Paul sites himself as an example, and quotes from Elijah and David to make the point that some are chosen and others are hardened.

     

    11:11-12          Jewish rejection has brought life to the non-Jews

    Through their hardening the Gentiles have been blessed because they have come to believe in Christ and be saved. God’s purpose is that through the expansion of the gospel worldwide (which is exactly what has been happening for 2,000 years), the full measure of the non-Jews will be saved. The Jews will be jealous, and then when they turn to Christ, their acceptance of the gospel will bring about “life from the dead” – the return of Christ and the full inheritance of the Kingdom.

     

    11:13-21          Jewish acceptance of the gospel will bring life from the dead

    In these verses Paul elaborates the summary statement of 11:11-12. He uses the illustration of non-Jews being like wild branches grafted into the ‘Holy’ Jewish Olive Tree. The proper response should be fear and respect of God by the non-Jews.

     

    11:22-24          God’s kindness and sternness

    This is holy ground, God’s work of salvation is serious, and we should never ‘tick God off’ because He has chosen to do things in a way we wouldn’t.

     

    11:25-32          God has hardened their hearts in order to have mercy on them all.

    This section illuminates the entire argument of Chapters 9-11. It is God’s mercy that motivates all He does.

     

    11:33-36          Song of praise to God                                                      

    The only proper response to theology is worship. God’s work is often far beyond our understanding, and because we don’t understand we must never, never, never assume the worst! God is always merciful. He is always good. If our theology leads us to criticise God then our theology is wrong. Good theology always leads to greater, truer, purer worship; Worship in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23).

     

     

     

     

    Romans 12                Living a Godly life in Christ

    The place of Romans 12 in the Context of …

    … the whole letter: Having established the foundational axiom that all (Jews and Non-Jews) are saved into right standing with God solely on the basis of faith, (Romans 1-11), in chapters 12-15 Paul addresses the key issues that the Jew-Gentile Christians now face living together in Community.

    … the application section; Romans 12-16: Paul begins by describing in Romans 12 the inter-reaction of the complementary gifts of grace that God has given to the community, and then summarises in a series of aphorisms the main practices through which believers should love each other.

     

    Structure:

    Paul introduces the subject of godly living in Christ –  12:1-2

    Grace and gifts in the body of Christ –  12:3-8

    Jesus’ Community of prayerful love –  12:9-21

     

    12:1-2  Paul introduces the subject of godly living in Christ      

    The (only) proper response to God’s mercy is to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God. This restates the imperative of 6:13 offer yourselves to God as instruments of righteousness.

    V2. And the new lifestyle begins with the reversal of the change in 1:21, by a change in a person’s thinking. You also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11). A person’s mind is changed when it is influenced and transformed by the word of God. The first ethical imperative that the Paul wrote was 1 Thessalonians 4:3 ‘This is the will of God, your sanctification, that you abstain from immorality.’

     

    12:3-8  Grace and gifts in the body of Christ

    v3        First of all, everyone must have a sober a realistic and entirely sensible view of their gifts and the measure of faith given to them.

    V4-5    Each believer is gifted uniquely by God to serve the body of Christ.

    V6-8    By grace we are given gifts, by faith we use them. The reason and the significance of the gift of prophecy as the first mentioned is explained by its primary place in the imperative of 1 Corinthians 14:1. The following gifts; serving, teaching, encouraging, contributing, leadership and compassion are all either spiritual gifts, or ministries, (or both), through which the believer ministers to other believers and to outsiders. Leadership is probably mentioned at the end because Christ’s understanding of leadership is all about being in last place, Matthew 20:26-28.

     

    12:9-21  Jesus’ Community of Prayerful Love

    This paragraph is arguably the greatest description of Jesus’ community of prayerful love in all scripture, (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 was written in the negative to correct the specific failings of the church elders in that city.) Paul writes a whole list of short aphorisms, or ‘motos’, that are similar to the punchy imperatives he listed at the end of 1 Thessalonians 5. These are all addressed both to the individual and the community. They are relational,; they are maxims, deliberately short and memorable, easy to learn and easy to recite in the moment of crisis and testing. Generally the earlier ones are positive exhortations, and the later ones are warnings; ‘Do not …’ One should read these against the background of the leading imperative of Romans: 15:7. Paul’s leading concern in this letter is that Jewish and Non-Jewish Christians accept one another in Christ and live together at peace and as a community whose very existence witnesses powerfully to the pagan society around them.

     

     

     

    Romans 13       Christian Morality: Public, in Church and personal.

    The place of Romans 13 in the Context of …

    … the whole letter: Having established the foundational axiom that all (Jews and Non-Jews) are saved into right standing with God solely on the basis of faith, (Romans 1-11), in chapters 12-15 Paul addresses the key issues that the Jew-Gentile Christians now face living together in Community.

    … the application section; Romans 12-16: In Romans 13 Paul continues his exhortations to the community to live a life in obedience to the command to love one another by addressing three areas of ethics: First, how the believing community should relate to the Civil Authorities; Second how they should relate to one another in the body of Christ; and Third, personal morality.

     

    Structure:

    Civil morality – relating to society     13:1-7

    Christian morality – relating to the body of Christ  13:8-10

    Personal morality  13:11-14

     

    13:1-8 Civil morality – relating to society    

    These verses are particularly significant in the light of the civil unrest in the Jewish community in Rome which resulted in the expulsion of Jews from Rome, (Acts 18:2). If this unrest had been caused by tensions between Jewish Messianic believers and non-Messianic believers it is even more significant!

    Every follower of Christ should submit to the civil governing authorities because civil government has been given and instituted by God in order limit the practice and spread of evil. Submission means yielding, giving way to. Paul gives two reasons in v5; to avoid being punished, and to maintain a clear conscience before God, because in disobeying his appointed governor the disobedient Christian is disobeying God Himself. This is why those who love Jesus often chose of their own volition to steer substantially within the boundaries of the law and thereby keep to the spirit of the law, and the command to love one another, and obey Jesus who taught us to go the extra mile.

    Some find the idea of strict obedience to civil authority problematic when the authorities instruct disobedience to God himself. But that was not Paul’s intention at all. The point is that we obey God, through his appointed civil minister. But if that appointed civil minister instructs us to do something contrary to God’s law, then the appointed minister immediately ceases to be speaking for God, and places himself in a position of deserving judgement and will need to answer to God directly for his disobedience. In such circumstances the believer must obey God rather than the disobedient, errant civil minister.

    V4 is important in understanding “wrath”. We should understand the wrath of God as containing the judgements of the civil judges. They may even be unaware, but they are acting on His behalf. So one of the ways in which the wrath of God is being revealed (1:18), is through the just judgement of the guilty through the civil courts.

     

    13:8-10  Christian morality – relating to the body of Christ

    Morality in the body of Christ is concerned with loving one’s neighbour. At several places in the New Testament the Old Testament law is summed up in this way: By Jesus; Matthew 22:34-40. By Paul; Galatians 5:13-15, and here. By James in James 2:8.

     

    13:11-14    Personal morality                                                                        

    These four verses are a pithy summary of Paul’s teaching on personal morality for Believers. Here he sums up in a few short sentences his Christian ethics written in greater detail in; 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians.

    • Change your thinking: Live now in the light of your future reality! This is a central argument of Paul’s in 1 Corinthians.
    • Put away the deeds of darkness: orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality, debauchery, dissension and jealousy. (Ephesians 4:25-5:6, and Colossians 3:3-11 instruct the believer in ‘putting off’ and ‘putting on’.
    • Cloth yourself with Christ
    • Don’t even think how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature – Rom 6:11, 8:5b.

     

     

     

    Romans 14:1 – 15:13

    Living in Community with differences of opinion.

    The place of Romans 14:1-15:13 in the Context of …

    … the whole letter: Having established the foundational axiom that all (Jews and Non-Jews) are saved into right standing with God solely on the basis of faith, (Romans 1-11), in chapters 12-15 Paul addresses the key issues that the Jew-Gentile Christians now face living together in Community.

    … the application section; Romans 12-16: In Romans 14:1-15:13 Paul focuses on the crucial but difficult issue of how believers should live at peace in community with people who hold very different opinions on secondary issues. The main issue he sites is the issue of what food a believer is now free to eat.

     

    Structure:

    Welcome, and do not judge, those who have different opinions –  14:1-4

    Each person will answer to the Lord; you are NOT the judge –  14:5-12

    Do not do anything that will cause your brother to stumble –  14:13-19

    Do not allow secondary issues to destroy God’s saving work –  14:20-23

    Welcome one another, for the glory of God –  15:1-7

    The OT stated that Non-Jews would inherit alongside the Jews –  15:8-13

     

     

    14:1-4   Welcome, and do not judge, those who have different opinions  

    The key troublesome difficulty for the Jewish believer was what food he/she was now free to eat. We should welcome everyone who has different opinions. We should welcome each believer, because God has welcomed them, and will make them stand.

     

    14:5-12  Each person will answer to the Lord; you are NOT the judge

    At this point Paul introduces a second difficult issue; should a (Jewish) believer keep the Sabbath? Again the principle must be that we welcome them because as believers they have already been welcomed by God. Whether it is a matter of (‘holy’) food or ‘holy’ days what matters is that since the believer is trying to live in a way that honours God, other believers have no right to pass judgement on them. So don’t judge other believers since we shall all answer directly to the Lord himself.

     

    14:13-19  Do not do anything that will cause your brother to stumble

    Never behave in such a way as to cause a brother or sister in Christ to stumble.

    V14 – Paul states that all foods are clean – exactly as Jesus did in Mark 7.

    V15 – The greater principle is to withhold your freedom so that other believers are not caused to stumble – to loose their faith.

    v17 – Is a statement of magisterial importance in the New Testament. Jesus’ leading message is that; ‘The Kingdom of heaven is near/here’ – and it is not about food, holy days,. pilgrimages, the length of hair, religious rituals, circumcision, slaving obedience to religious laws. It is a place of peace and joy in the Holy Spirit NOW. So our guiding principle and goal is to pursue peace thoughout the body of Christ and work for everyone’s mutual upbuilding.

     

    14:20-23  Do not allow secondary issues to destroy God’s saving work

    Don’t allow any secondary issue like food, (or respecting certain days as more holy than others), to destroy the saving work of God. Living at peace and protecting the faith of our brothers and sisters is more important than proving yourself right, and/or getting what you want on these secondary issues. If necessary practice voluntary abstinence in order to protect your fellow believers from stumbling through aggressive anger or deliberate sin.

    V23 – The person who acts against his conscience, (for example, a newly converted Jewish believer eating Pork when he is not sure that he is free to do so), is disobeying what he thinks God wants, and is therefore sinning. And since we don’t want to cause out brother to sin, we should not force him to eat (pork) if his conscience still tells him that God forbids him to do so.

     

    15:1-7  Welcome one another, for the glory of God

    Following Christ’s example, we who are strong should bear with the failings of the weak. Even though such self-restrained abstinence is frustrating, nevertheless through enduring in this way and through the promises of the scriptures we have hope (quiet confidence for the future). And so we in our Christian communities made up of very diverse types of people, must aim to live in harmony, and through living in this way we shall bring great glory to God as outsiders see very different people united together and at peace because of their love for Christ.

     

     

    15:8-13   The OT stated that Non-Jews would inherit alongside the Jews

    Paul quotes four OT verses to endorse his argument that God’s promises to the patriarchs always stated that the Gentiles would be included in God’s purposes.

    V8 The reason Christ became a Jew was to enable the fulfilment of God’s promises to the Patriarchs, (All nations will be blessed through you – Galatians 3:8).

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Part 3: Paul’s apostolic ministry& his plans to visit Rome:   15:14-16:27

     

     

     

    Romans 15:14 – 33             Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles

    The place of Romans 15:14-33 in the Context of …

    … the whole letter: Having established the foundational axiom that all (Jews and Non-Jews) are saved into right standing with God solely on the basis of faith, (Romans 1-11), in chapters 12-15 Paul addresses the key issues that the Jew-Gentile Christians now face living together in Community.

    … the application section; Romans 12-16: In Romans 15:14-33 Paul summarises his main argument, (that by faith the Non-Jews are now included in God’s salvation purposes), and returns to his plans to travel to the Christian community in Rome on his way to Spain.

     

    Structure:

    Paul explains his bold gospel ministry to the Gentiles –  15:14-16

    Paul’s apostolic gospel strategy in the power of the Spirit –  15:17-22

    Paul’s specific ministry plans to visit Jerusalem and then Rome 15:23-29

    Paul’s prayer for deliverance in Jerusalem –  15:30-33

     

               

    15:14-16  Paul explains his bold gospel ministry to the Gentiles    

    Paul is the apostle to the Gentiles.

    V15 – it is most significant that this reference to priesthood, (the only one in the new covenant), describes priesthood in terms of the proclamation of the gospel. The only priests in the new covenant are the evangelists – those who proclaim the gospel of God’s saving grace.

     

    15:17-22  Paul’s apostolic gospel strategy in the power of the Spirit

    Paul the apostle to the Gentiles, the evangelist priest, states clearly his proclamation of the gospel, his deeds for the gospel, and his miraculous ministry in the Spirit throughout the Western Mediterranean.

               

    15:23-29  Paul’s specific ministry plans to visit Jerusalem and then Rome

    Paul is travelling to Jerusalem to deliver a financial gift, but he understands this in terms of the Gentiles believers ministering to the Jewish believers by supplying their financial needs. (Remember it was Paul himself who led the persecution against the Jewish disciples and destroyed their property; Hebrews 10:32-34, Acts 8:1. He must have always been acutely aware of his indebtedness to them; Acts 11:30). This is a powerful tool for bringing honour to Christ. Christians in one area ought to support and serve Christians in need in another.

     

    15:30-33  Paul’s prayer for deliverance in Jerusalem

    Acts 20:22-24 sheds important light on the background to this prayer, which we should note was not answered, at least not completely. Paul was imprisoned, and between his arrest in Jerusalem and his final release after two years under house arrest in Rome, (Acts 28:31) spent at least four of the next five years in Roman custardy; (2 years in Ceaserea, several months travelling to Rome (Acts 27:1), and 2 years under house arrest in Rome). There are four requests in Paul’s petition in this prayer. Only the first; ‘that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea’, was not answered. Paul states that he is struggling in prayer, that is he is engaged in the advanced form of (adult) prayer that involves wrestling; Colossians 2:1, 4:12. We should study the benefits – even though they were painful – for the churches he had established that arose from him being in prison, not least the prison letters, and the emergence of new leadership.

     

     

     

    Romans 16     Paul greets and exhorts his friends in Rome

    The place of Romans 16 in the Context of …

    … the whole letter: Having established the foundational axiom that all (Jews and Non-Jews) are saved into right standing with God solely on the basis of faith, (Romans 1-11), Paul teaches the application of these truths in the new Jew and Non-Jew believing community in chapters 12-16.

    … the application section; Romans 12-16: In Romans 16 Paul shapes the customary end-of-letter greetings in a way that opens out, and establishes a base for, his forthcoming visit to Rome.

     

    Structure:

    Paul commends Pheobe to the Roman Christians –  16:1-2

    Paul greets around 30 Christians that he knows in Rome –  16:3-16

    Appeal to avoid divisive and evil people –  16:17-20

    Paul’s companions greet the Roman Christians –  16:21-24

    Final Doxology constructed around the gospel –  16:25-27

     

    16:1-2   Paul commends Pheobe to the Roman Christians                        

    Travelling from Corinth to Rome was dangerous, so as the one with responsibility for delivering this letter Pheobe was almost certainly accompanied by one or two male companions. Her prominence here testifies strongly to the high value of her ministry. It seems likely that Paul has commissioned her not only to deliver this letter to the Roman church, but also to take steps to prepare everything for Paul’s arrival in Rome. This would involve presenting and explaining the message of the letter – the unification of Jewish and Gentile Christians on the basis of their equal salvation in Christ – to both Jew and Gentile communities in Rome, and also to hostile outsiders. It would also involve working to ensure the establishment and growth of a united church in the capital city of the greatest empire of the era. Since it is difficult to find any woman in the New Testament commissioned with a more important work Phoebe must, especially in the light of Paul’s accolade in v2, be a strong candidate for the most impressive woman in Scripture.

    ‘…in a way worthy of the saints …’ the word ‘worthy’ has a high value in scripture. 3 John 6 speaks of hospitality in a manner worthy of God. And Paul judged those at Pasidain Antioch to consider themselves not worthy of the gospel. This use of the word originates from Jesus himself; ‘search for some worthy person’ Matt10:11.

     

    16:3-16 Paul greets around 30 Christians that he knows in Rome

    Studying these short personal descriptions, encouragements and accolades is highly illuminating, moving and informative. There is a general movement from the most important and significant, to the least important, and the presence of many women in the earlier verses is evidence of Paul’s strong reliance on them and their prominence in the church.

     

    16:17-20 Appeal to avoid divisive and evil people        

    In this context, and in the light of the summary imperative of Romans 15:7, this appeal should be understood as being specifically addressed against those who separate Jew and non-Jew and thereby divide the Christian mixed-race community.

     

    16:21-24  Paul’s companions greet the Roman Christians   

    As per Paul’s usual practice in his letters, for example; 1 Corinthians 16:19-21, Philippians 4:22, Colossians 4:7-14.

               

    16:25-27  Final Doxology constructed around the gospel                 

    Paul weaves a magnificent summary of his vision for the worldwide influence of the gospel into a final statement of glory to God through Jesus Christ.

               

    Romans 1:18-4:25 >
    main Questions - Important questions directly from the text

    Question 1 -

    QQQ Detreich Bonhoffer, the German Church leader plotted, with others, to kill Hitler? Would you have joined him? (Romans 13:1-7)


    Question 2 -

    QQQ Climate Change: A friend says that since Romans 8:21says the creation will be restored as it is brought into the “glorious freedom of the children of God”, and since the challenge of climate control is beyond our control, we should simply get on enjoying the abundance of the earth – after all God has specifically given us dominion over it! How do you reply to your friend? (Romans 8)


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