Faithlife Sermons

Romans

Notes
Transcript
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

Introduction to Romans

Faithlife Study Bible Introduction to Romans

Introduction to Romans

In his letter to the Roman church, Paul lays out his argument for unifying Jews and non-Jews in Christ—and in the process, instructs his readers on how to restore their relationship with God. As Paul explains, we only find unity with God and with one another through God’s Son, Jesus. Christ represents the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises, going all the way back to Abraham. Paul proclaims that Christ is the very righteousness of God and the means for us sinners to become righteous—to be saved.

Backgound

While visiting Achaia and before taking the money from Macedonia and Achaia to the poorJerusalem, Paul wrote a letter to the Romans with the help of Tertius and sent it with Phoebe a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae. (; ; , )
Faithlife Study Bible Introduction to Romans

Background

The book of Romans dates to the end of Paul’s third missionary journey; he most likely wrote this letter from the Greek city of Corinth in the mid-50s AD (Acts 19:21; 20:3). Gaius, whom Paul mentions is his host (Rom 16:23), is likely the same Gaius mentioned as a resident of Corinth in another of Paul’s letters (1 Cor 1:14).

Paul had not met the Christians at Rome (Rom 1:13), but the circumstances he mentions in the letter provide clues about his reasons for writing. Paul wanted to take the gospel to Spain, and he thought that Rome might make a good launching point for a westward mission (15:22–24)—much like Antioch had been his home base in the east. In addition, Paul deeply desired to promote unity between believers in Jesus who were Jewish and those who were not Jewish (called “Gentiles” or “Greeks”; see, for example, 1:16). The Roman church probably was a mix of Jews and Gentiles. Paul wanted to communicate to these Christians that the gospel includes everyone.

9 May The Hope of Glory

Structure

Faithlife Study Bible Introduction to Romans

Structure

Romans is structured as an ancient letter, with an opening (1:1–17), a body (1:18–15:13), and a closing (15:14–16:27). The two main parts of the letter’s body include a section focusing on what God has done in Christ (1:18–11:36) and a section instructing Christians how to live the truths set forth in the first part (12:1–15:13).

In the first section, Paul’s discussion focuses on four major points. First, everyone—including Jews and Gentiles—is under God’s judgment (1:18–3:20). Second, Christ has become the living revelation of God’s righteousness, so that everyone who believes—both Jews and Gentiles—can be made right and brought into God’s family (3:21–5:21). Third, God’s righteousness gives us hope in our battle against sin (6:1–8:39). Finally, despite many Jews’ rejection of Christ, the people of Israel nevertheless have a role to play in God’s redemption of the world (9:1–11:36).

In the section on Christian ethics, Paul aims to help the Roman believers put their faith into practice, particularly when it comes to living together as the diverse yet unified Church (12:1–15:13). For Paul, Christians ought to have their entire lives—in terms of both belief and action—centered first and foremost on Christ. The good news of Jesus’ saving act is meant to be transformative, and this good news should be unapologetically proclaimed.

Romans 5:1~11
If the letter is read from back to front, Paul’s purpose for the epistle is more obvious.

Outline

Faithlife Study Bible Introduction to Romans

Outline

• The gospel and God’s righteous judgment (1:1–3:20)

• The gift of God’s righteousness (3:21–5:21)

• The power of God’s righteousness (6:1–8:39)

• God’s righteousness toward Israel (9:1–11:36)

• Righteousness in relationships (12:1–15:13)

• Paul’s ministry and personal greetings (15:14–16:27)

By Dees
14:!4-16:27 gave the reasons for his writing and the approximate date when the letter was written.
16 May The Gift of Life

Theme

Romans 5:12~21
By Lees
Faithlife Study Bible Introduction to Romans

Themes

Romans’ major themes—righteousness and salvation—ring forth most clearly in Romans 1:16–17, Paul’s declaration of the power of the gospel. Here, Paul proclaims that the good news of Jesus opens God’s salvation to Jews and Gentiles alike. Further, this salvation fulfills the Old Testament promises God made to the people of Israel—showing God’s faithfulness to His covenant. Paul shows us that in Jesus we clearly see God’s power to save all who believe. In Christ, our righteous God unites Jews and Gentiles alike into one people of God. All cultures, races, and people can come to God for salvation. Christ’s righteousness is enough for any and all of us to be saved.

Paul explains that all have all sinned and face the consequence of death (3:23; 5:12; 6:23). But God has provided the salvation we need through the death and resurrection of His Son (6:5–11; 8:1–4), and nothing can separate us from His love (8:38–39). Despite our wrongdoings against God and other people, Jesus saves each of us who believe. While our sin previously stood in the way, Jesus makes a way for us to have a relationship with God again. Jesus makes a way for us to be unified in His name. We are empowered to collectively and boldly proclaim—and live—the good news of Jesus.

23 May The Freedom from Sins

Key Verses:

Romans 1:16 NKJV
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
Romans 1:17 NKJV
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
romans 1:
Romans 6:1~14
Romans 1:20 NKJV
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
romans
By Tangs
30 May The Beauty of Slavery
Romans 2:4 NKJV
Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
romans 2:
Romans 6:15~23
Romans 2:11 NKJV
For there is no partiality with God.
Romans 1:13 NKJV
Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles.
By Chuangs
Romans 2:14 NKJV
for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,
romans
Romans 2:13 NKJV
(for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;
romans 2:
Romans 2:29 NKJV
but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.
(R&W travel, meet at Andrew place)
6 June The Release From Law
Romans 3:23 NKJV
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
romans 4:
Romans 4:3 NKJV
For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Romans 7:1~6
By Chuas
Romans 4:8 NKJV
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”
Romans 5:3–5 NKJV
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
romans 5:3-
13 June The Work of Holiness
Romans 5:8 NKJV
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 7:7~25
romans 5:15
Romans 5:15 NKJV
But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.
By Thiens
20 June The Sprit of Life
Romans 6:14 NKJV
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Romans 6:23 NKJV
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
romans 6:
Romans 8:1~11
romans 7:15
Romans 7:15 NKJV
For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.
By Dees
Dees will be traveling for three Wednesday 27/6, 4/7 and 11/7.
romans 8:1
Romans 8:1 NKJV
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
( Can we meet at Andrew place )
romans 8:15
Romans 8:15 NKJV
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:26 NKJV
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
romans 8:26
27 June The Spirit of Adoption
Romans 8:28 NKJV
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:12~30
Romans 8:31 NKJV
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
romans 8:31
By Ooi
Romans 8:38 NKJV
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
romans 8:38
Romans 8:38–39 NKJV
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
romans 8:
4 July The Promise of Victory
romans 10:9-10
Romans 10:9–10 NKJV
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Romans 8:31~39
Romans 10:17 NKJV
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
By Lees
Romans 12:1 NKJV
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
romans 12:1
11 July The Privileges of Israel
Romans 12:2 NKJV
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 9:1~5
Romans 12:9 NKJV
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
romans 12:9
By Tangs
romans 12:
Romans 12:14 NKJV
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
18 July The Sovereignty of God
Romans 12:15 NKJV
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
romans 12:15
Romans 9:6~33
romans
Romans 12:21 NKJV
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
By Dees
Romans 14:19 NKJV
Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
25 July The Salvation of Israel
The Bible Guide Human Sin and God’s Anger

Human sin and God’s anger

God’s anger against humankind

(1:18–32)

God is invisible, but his work is clearly seen in creation. Humankind has turned away from the truth about God and instead worships images of his creatures. Men and women have spurned a holy relationship with God and looked for satisfaction in perverted sex. This is particularly true of the Gentiles.

People still have consciences and know what is right, but they encourage one another to abandon all self-control. Now the human race is hostile to God, ignorant of his ways and depraved in its behaviour. Instead of being the living image of God, humans are now the most corrupt animals on earth.

God is angry at this state of affairs. But he has given human beings free will, and he allows their choice even if it means they go from bad to worse.

A word with the Jews

(2:1–29)

While Gentiles have plunged into idolatry and perversion, the Jews have known better. They can look at the Gentiles and condemn them as godless.

But have the Jews actually lived according to God’s law, or have they merely listened to it? Merely listening isn’t enough. The Jews have been stubborn towards God and need to repent. One day God’s searchlight will also turn on them. Indeed, God will judge them first.

God will judge everyone by whatever light they have: the light of the law (in the case of the Jews) and the light of conscience (in the case of the Gentiles who do not have the law).

Paul intensifies his attack on self-righteous Jews. They are proud of the law, but they break it like everyone else. They are proud of circumcision—but it means nothing without obedience to God. In God’s sight, true circumcision is an attitude of heart.

God’s faithfulness

(3:1–8)

Having demolished Jewish self-confidence, Paul now gets the Jews to count their blessings.

For one thing, the Jews have access to God’s word. For another, they are part of God’s plan to save not just the Jews, but the whole world. Even their failures can show how God acts in justice and mercy.

No one is righteous

(3:9–20)

Paul concludes, using quotations from the Old Testament, that both Jews and Gentiles are in the same situation. All have sinned. For Jews, the law has merely shown them the full extent of their sin. If they think otherwise, they are adding pride and self-deception to their long list of failings.

The gospel answer

But now Paul comes to the good news. Forgiveness and peace with God are freely available through Jesus Christ.

Right with God through faith in Christ

(3:21–26)

Paul declares that it is possible to be right with God in a way that is quite different from keeping the Jewish law. It sounds scandalous, but the Old Testament always knew of it.

This righteousness is open to all. Just as Jews and Gentiles are together in sin, so they can be together in salvation.

The means by which human sin can be forgiven is the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. A sacrifice is the payment of an innocent life for a guilty life. Animals and birds are killed in the temple so that the lives of their owners can be spared. But all these sacrifices are inadequate and have to be constantly repeated. Now Jesus has become the perfect sacrifice—not an animal, bird or human hero, but the Son of God. His perfect life has been freely offered for the sins of the whole world and for all time. His righteousness has been credited to us.

Paul says that through the sacrifice of Jesus we are ‘justified’. Our punishment has been borne by Christ, and now it is as if we had never sinned. The sacrifice of Jesus is an ‘atonement’—bringing God and human beings together and making peace.

Romans 10:1~21
Human sin and God’s anger
God’s anger against humankind
(1:18–32)
God is invisible, but his work is clearly seen in creation. Humankind has turned away from the truth about God and instead worships images of his creatures. Men and women have spurned a holy relationship with God and looked for satisfaction in perverted sex. This is particularly true of the Gentiles.
By Chuangs
People still have consciences and know what is right, but they encourage one another to abandon all self-control. Now the human race is hostile to God, ignorant of his ways and depraved in its behaviour. Instead of being the living image of God, humans are now the most corrupt animals on earth.
God is angry at this state of affairs. But he has given human beings free will, and he allows their choice even if it means they go from bad to worse.
A word with the Jews
(2:1–29)
While Gentiles have plunged into idolatry and perversion, the Jews have known better. They can look at the Gentiles and condemn them as godless.
But have the Jews actually lived according to God’s law, or have they merely listened to it? Merely listening isn’t enough. The Jews have been stubborn towards God and need to repent. One day God’s searchlight will also turn on them. Indeed, God will judge them first.
God will judge everyone by whatever light they have: the light of the law (in the case of the Jews) and the light of conscience (in the case of the Gentiles who do not have the law).
Paul intensifies his attack on self-righteous Jews. They are proud of the law, but they break it like everyone else. They are proud of circumcision—but it means nothing without obedience to God. In God’s sight, true circumcision is an attitude of heart.
God’s faithfulness
(3:1–8)
No boasting!
Having demolished Jewish self-confidence, Paul now gets the Jews to count their blessings.
For one thing, the Jews have access to God’s word. For another, they are part of God’s plan to save not just the Jews, but the whole world. Even their failures can show how God acts in justice and mercy.
No one is righteous
(3:9–20)
Paul concludes, using quotations from the Old Testament, that both Jews and Gentiles are in the same situation. All have sinned. For Jews, the law has merely shown them the full extent of their sin. If they think otherwise, they are adding pride and self-deception to their long list of failings.
1 Aug. The Remnant of God
The gospel answer
But now Paul comes to the good news. Forgiveness and peace with God are freely available through Jesus Christ.
Right with God through faith in Christ
(3:21–26)
Paul declares that it is possible to be right with God in a way that is quite different from keeping the Jewish law. It sounds scandalous, but the Old Testament always knew of it.
This righteousness is open to all. Just as Jews and Gentiles are together in sin, so they can be together in salvation.
The means by which human sin can be forgiven is the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. A sacrifice is the payment of an innocent life for a guilty life. Animals and birds are killed in the temple so that the lives of their owners can be spared. But all these sacrifices are inadequate and have to be constantly repeated. Now Jesus has become the perfect sacrifice—not an animal, bird or human hero, but the Son of God. His perfect life has been freely offered for the sins of the whole world and for all time. His righteousness has been credited to us.
Paul says that through the sacrifice of Jesus we are ‘justified’. Our punishment has been borne by Christ, and now it is as if we had never sinned. The sacrifice of Jesus is an ‘atonement’—bringing God and human beings together and making peace.
Knowles, A. (2001). The Bible guide (1st Augsburg books ed., pp. 568–569). Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg.No boasting!
(3:27–31)
Romans 11:1~10
So Jews have nothing to boast about. They haven’t worked out their own salvation by keeping the law. They are saved by faith in Jesus, just as the Gentiles are. The law is still immensely valuable—but only as a guide to living, not as a way of being saved.
By Chuas
Abraham was saved by faith too!
8 Aug. The Fall of Israel
(4:1–25)
Romans 11:11~24
Paul shows how justification by faith worked for Abraham. Abraham was the father of the Jewish race—so what was true for him should be true for everyone.
By Thiens
Abraham was a pioneer of faith. He spent his life believing God for impossible things. He believed God was giving him a land, although he could never conquer or own it. He believed God was making him the father of a nation, although he and his wife were old and childless. And even when he had a son, Abraham was prepared to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, if that was what God wanted.
15 Aug. The Mind of the Lord
God counted Abraham’s faith as righteousness (). It wasn’t a righteousness achieved by keeping God’s law. God’s law wasn’t known until the time of Moses. It wasn’t a righteousness through being circumcised, or offering Isaac—because both of those experiences were still in the future. It wasn’t a righteousness based on Abraham’s perfect choices—his mistakes are recorded for all to read. Abraham wasn’t perfect—but he had faith.
Romans 11:11~24
Paul says this is exactly the kind of faith we must have in Christ. We trust that God will do what he has promised—which is far beyond our own ability to achieve. It is not Jews but believers who are Abraham’s spiritual descendants.
By Ooi
Peace with God
22 Aug.The Practice of Righteousness
(5:1–11)
Romans 12:1~8
Through Jesus, we have peace with God, the gift of his Spirit and joy in the hope of glory. We may suffer for what we believe—but our suffering makes our hope all the more thrilling. It is absolutely astonishing that God should send his Son to die for us—the only possible remedy for our desperate situation. We didn’t design or deserve such a deliverance. It is God’s free gift. And if this is how much God loved us when we were his enemies, what a wonderful relationship unfolds, now that we are his friends!
By Lees
Death through Adam, life through Christ
29 Aug. The Conduct of Love
(5:12–21)
Romans 12:9~21
Paul describes how the death of Christ has been the answer to the sin of Adam.
By Tangs
Adam was the first human being, and his sin infected the entire human race. The penalty for that sin was death—even before the law was given, so that people knew what sin was.
5 Sep. The Duty of Citizens
Now, through the righteousness of one perfect man, Jesus Christ, life is spreading to the whole human race. Grace wins!
Romans 13:1~14
Dead to sin, alive to Christ
By Chuangs
Paul explores what it means to live the Christian life. Does being a Christian mean we are permanently forgiven, so that we can now sin as much as we like? Does it mean we won’t be tempted any more? Does it mean we are automatically good and holy?
12 Sep. The Treat to Unity
Paul teaches that we are still responsible for our choices and actions. There is nothing automatic about holiness. As Christians, we find ourselves in a lifelong struggle with our old nature, which refuses to die. But Paul has many insights and encouragements to offer.
Romans 14:1~23
The Christian and sin
By Dees
(6:1–23)
19 Sep. The Denial of Self
We have been baptized into Christ. Our baptism acted out our dying to sin and rising to new life with Christ. We are far too closely identified with Jesus to carry on sinning. We have died to sin. In theory, we can no more sin than a dead body can!
Romans 15:1~13
Of course, we still have free will. We can sin if we want to, but it will be out of keeping with our Christian character. But look at it positively: instead of letting sin dictate our actions, we are free to do right! And which master do we prefer? The only wage sin ever paid was death. But now God gives us eternal life. To serve him is perfect freedom.
By Chuas
The Christian and the law
26 Sep. The Spread of the Gospel
(7:1–25)
Romans 15:13~33
What about the law? Do we discard the law because we have died to sin and now live in grace?
By Thiens
Paul uses the picture of a woman being widowed and marrying someone else. She is free to marry again because her first husband has died; her legal contract to him has been cancelled. Paul sees a parallel with our experience: the death of Jesus has cancelled our obligation to sin. Now we are released for a new relationship with God; not bound by the law, but set free by the Spirit.
3 Oct. The Recognition of Character
Paul teaches that the law is good. The law tells us which actions are sinful. Of course, this tends to awaken temptation—but that’s not the law’s fault.
Romans 16:1~16
Paul describes the dilemma of someone who knows that the law is good, but can’t keep it. No doubt this was his own experience when he was a devout Jew, delighting in the law, but constantly ambushed by sin. It is from this constant and frustrating failure that Christ has so gloriously rescued him.
By Oois
The Christian and the Spirit
10 Oct. The Obedience of Faith
(8:1–39)
Romans 16:17~27
When we belong to Christ, we live in a new dimension. We have a new freedom, a new power, a new Father and a new hope. Paul says we are actually ‘in’ Christ Jesus! The Holy Spirit within us lifts us out of the gravitational pull of sin and death and sets us in orbit around Christ and our heavenly Father.
By Lees
Jesus, by his death for us, has met the law’s demands in full. When he died, he cried out, ‘It is finished!’ or ‘Paid!’ (). No further charges can be brought against us. No more condemnation. No more blame. No more penalties. No more guilt.
17 Oct. Chung Yeung Festival Holiday
God has done something for us that the law could never do. The law was beautiful and good—but it sentenced us to death. But God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful humanity and Jesus gave himself to die for us. Because of his sacrifice, we are forgiven and released.
No meeting
We are no longer on the dreary religious treadmill of knowing the right and doing the wrong. Instead, God has given us his own Spirit to live within us. The Spirit helps us overcome our old sinful nature, and assures us that we are now God’s children.
24 Oct. Wrap up of Book of Romans
Instead of crying in desolation and despair, ‘What a wretched man I am!’ (7:24), we cry ‘Abba!’—‘Dear Father!’ We have been adopted into God’s family and are heirs of eternal glory with Christ.
By Chuangs
So what’s going on now? Does this mean we lead a perfect life with no problems? No. We still live in the same world, with its wickedness, disasters, pressures and fears. Satan continues to test us—and death awaits us in the end.
31 Oct. Special Fellowship Night
But Paul says that we know who we are, and we understand what’s happening to us.
No bible study
We’re living in the overlap between the resurrection of Jesus and the final victory of God. We’re living in the old cosmos which is in the throes of giving birth to the new creation.
This is a stressful process. The creation is groaning with pain and frustration. We, living in the old creation but part of the new, are groaning with longing for release. The Spirit within us—a Holy Spirit in a sinful nature—is groaning with prayer that God’s will be done.
But God is winning. He is reversing the effects of the fall, and recreating his creation. He is transforming us from sinners into his children. If we doubt his commitment, then look again at the love he has already shown us by sending his only Son to die for us. He will surely finish what he has started.
Yes, we are stressed. We are living for God in a world which has rejected him. We share the suffering of Christ. But there is no power in earth or heaven which can stop God loving us now. Every dimension of creation—life and death, the invisible powers of the supernatural and everything that exists in time and space—is subject to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
What about Israel?
Paul turns again to God’s purpose for Israel. Jews in Rome will be reading this part of the letter very carefully!
Does the successful gospel mission to the Gentiles mean that the Jewish stage of God’s plan is now jettisoned like a burned-out rocket? Paul believes not—and he argues his case very thoroughly.
God’s sovereign choice
(9:1–5)
Paul’s heart goes out to Israel. He longs that they may turn to Christ and be saved.
The Jews are immensely privileged. They have lived and breathed God’s blessings throughout their history. From the call of Abraham to the birth of Christ, they have been at the heart of God’s plan.
Surely if God always finishes what he begins, then he will save Israel too. He hasn’t divorced the Jews to marry the Gentiles. His purpose is to unite Jews and Gentiles in one new people of faith.
God’s amazing grace
(9:6–29)
Paul explains that God hasn’t broken his covenant or discarded his people. But we need to think again about what ‘Israel’ really means.
The true Israel was never the race that shared Abraham’s blood group, but the people who shared his faith. And God has always sprung surprises. He chose Jacob instead of Esau, to assert his sovereign right to do so. He hardened Pharaoh’s heart, to highlight his own greater power.
In other words, God does what he wants! There are those God has chosen and those he hasn’t. If we cross-question God on this, we are like clay criticizing the potter.
Israel’s mistake
(9:30–10:21)
Israel has forgotten God’s sovereign mercy and right to choose. Instead she has defined herself by race and law, and rejected everyone else out of prejudice. In so doing, she has tripped over the grace and mercy of God which he has shown in Jesus Christ—‘a stone that will make people stumble’ (9:33).
Now Paul longs that Israel may be saved. The Jews are enthusiastic for righteousness—but they think they can do it themselves. Meanwhile, Christ has closed the road of law—it never was a way to salvation. Instead, he has opened wide the gate of grace. This grace is freely offered to both Jews and Gentiles. All have the same Lord and receive the same blessings.
This is the good news which Paul is preaching—but not all Jews are accepting it. They don’t yet see that this is their God at work, extending to the Gentiles the mercy he has already shown to them.
Israel will be saved
(11:1–32)
Paul is quite convinced that God hasn’t finished with Israel. He knows from his own experience that even the most self-righteous and militant Pharisee can be saved.
So why are so many Jews rejecting Christ at the moment? Paul believes their hostility will be useful—because it will show up the grace of God and the faith of the Gentiles. The fact that Jews don’t believe allows God to spring another surprise—that he chooses Gentiles. Paul adds excitedly: if Jewish rejection means Gentile selection, what wonderful things await us when the Jews accept Christ!
By preaching to Gentiles, Paul hopes to make Jews jealous. Israel is still the main stock of God’s people, into which the Gentiles are now being grafted. Gentiles must be careful not to make the same mistake of pride—or they will find themselves pruned out again.
So God still calls the Jews. Before Christ, the Jews were ‘in’ and the Gentiles were ‘out’. Now, for a time, the Jews are ‘out’. But the underlying trend has always been that God is wanting all people everywhere to be saved.
Paul’s hymn of praise
(11:33–36)
Paul has come to the summit of his gospel presentation. He surveys the mighty panorama of God’s plan—Jew and Gentile, creation and new creation, all united in Christ. He praises the majesty and mystery of our glorious God.
How to live the good news
Paul has set out his Christian beliefs. Now he outlines Christian behaviour. New life ‘in Christ’ isn’t just a beautiful theory, but a daily experience. His Jewish readers will want to see what has happened to sacrifice, community and the law.
Living sacrifices
(12:1–2)
Paul begins with sacrifice. A sacrifice is the offering of an animal in the temple—it’s a life paid for human sin. Such a sacrifice is costly—but second-hand and dead. Now, says Paul, make sacrifice direct, personal—and living. Offer yourselves to God. This is true worship. And don’t be moulded by the pressures of the world, but allow yourself to be transformed by the mind of Christ.
A humble community
(12:3–8)
Next Paul deals with community life. There is no place for pride. Christian living is humble giving. We belong to one another like different parts of the same body. We each contribute our gifts—speaking God’s word, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, caring. These are God’s gifts to us for one another. Instead of pride there is faith, humility, encouragement, generosity, hard work and good humour.
A standard of loving
(12:9–21)
Now Paul recasts the law. As always, it is a guide to loving relationships. But now love is not measured and mechanical, but genuine, joyful and from the heart. The old penalty clauses and guidelines for revenge are replaced by blessings and encouragements to make peace. Matters of judgment and punishment should be left to God. He is the One who is really wronged, and he alone gets perfectly angry. We should bless our enemies—and make them blush!
Be good citizens
(13:1–7)
The Roman Christians must respect their secular government. It has God’s authority to punish evil and promote good. Jews who have been dispersed around the world by persecution or business have always honoured the civil authority, and Christians should do the same.
Sometimes a dictator or regime goes beyond God’s brief. In that case, Christians must make a stand. But Paul is not thinking of such circumstances. He is talking about paying taxes—and showing respect.
Love your neighbour
(13:8–10)
The commandments still stand. The laws against adultery, murder, theft and covetousness all add up to loving others as we love ourselves. When we love like this, we keep all God’s law in its true spirit.
Live in the light
(13:11–14)
It is time to get ready to meet Christ. The darkness of this world and its ways are not for us. Wake up! Live in the light of his coming!
Accept one another
(14:1–15:13)
The Christian church is a new community. In Rome, Christians of Jewish and Gentile backgrounds are going into one another’s houses and sharing the same meals—for the first time in their lives.
Paul knows that some Christian Jews will still want to keep their food laws and observe their holy days. He describes their faith as ‘weak’. They don’t realize Jesus has done everything for their salvation. They feel they still have to add some details themselves.
Gentile Christians, on the other hand, may know they can eat anything, and regard every day as holy. If so, their faith is ‘strong’—but they must not be proud.
Paul tells Christians of different backgrounds to respect one another’s consciences. Everyone should take their lead from the Lord. Those who hold to a strict diet, avoid certain foods or refuse meat that has been killed in pagan temples do this to honour the Lord. Others thank God for everything and eat with grateful hearts. They, too, honour the Lord in their way. Each group should accept the other, as Christ has accepted both.
Paul knows all about food laws. He used to be a Pharisee. Now he can eat anything! But he is careful not to offend anyone with his new-found freedom. If someone will be misled or upset by what Paul eats, then Paul won’t eat it. Why should he distress his fellow Christian just to show off his liberty?
Paul gives Jesus as the perfect example. No one was more free to please himself than Jesus, and yet he always put himself out for the needs of others. This is the way that leads to unity and so gives glory to God. And diehard Jews can see their own scriptures coming true. Gentiles are being welcomed into the community of faith.
And finally …
Paul tells his Christian readers that they are good in God’s sight and able to teach one another (15:14–16:27). His own priestly duty is to proclaim the gospel, so that Gentiles may offer themselves as holy and lively sacrifices to God. In so doing, Paul carries on the true work of the temple in Jerusalem, proclaiming the greatness and goodness of God to the whole world.
Paul closes with an update on his own plans, and greetings to his many dear friends.
He commends Phoebe to the Christians in Rome (16:1). She comes from Cenchrea, the port of Corinth, where she is a servant or deacon of the church.
Priscilla and Aquila first met Paul in Corinth. They had been expelled from Rome by the emperor Claudius, along with other Jews. Like Paul, they were tentmakers, and the three worked together both in tentmaking and church-planting (). Since then they have also lived in Ephesus, but now they are back in Rome—and still with a Christian meeting in their home.
There is a saying, ‘You can tell a man by his friends.’ Here Paul makes special mention of twenty-four friends, including six women. Half of them have names which could link them with the emperor’s household, even though they may be slaves. Andronicus and Junias (a woman?) have been Christians longer than Paul, and he refers to them as apostles (gospel pioneers). Rufus may be the son of Simon of Cyrene, who was forced to carry the crosspiece for Jesus on his way to crucifixion ().
The number and variety of Paul’s friends, the range of their shared experience and the warmth of his greetings tell us much about the great apostle. We glimpse a fellowship of joy and suffering which is loving and hardworking, but vulnerable to division and deceit. Paul ends with praise that God will strengthen them and use them in his mission to the world.
Knowles, A. (2001). The Bible guide (1st Augsburg books ed., pp. 569–574). Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg.
Related Media
Related Sermons