|April 16th||April 17th||April 18th||April 19th||April 20th|
|Romans 12||Romans 13||Romans 14||Romans 15||Romans 16|
Paul really gets to basics with living as a Christian over chapters 12-15 before finishing off with his wonderful list of people, a real who’s who of everyone linked to the church in Rome.
Basics No. 1
This relationship starts with worship. The Old Testament started with worship but OT worshippers brought animals. The quality of the animals determined whether the sacrifice was accepted; If your sacrifice was accepted then you were accepted. What a contrast in the New Testament! Here we bring ourselves. We are the sacrifice! Totally acceptable.
Everything else needs to change! No matter whether Jew or Gentile we need a renewed mind. The exciting part of this renewed mind is knowing, understanding and being able to not only approve but also do the will of God. No more praying “If it be your will” from a place of ignorance. Just as Jesus understood the Father’s will when praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, so too should we pray from knowledge.
That knowledge gets worked out in:
- Humility: thinking right about ourselves and others
Relationship; not isolation but seeing ourselves as part of God’s family
- Submission: to all leaders both those in the church and in the world, and also godly and ungodly leaders
- Gentleness: caring for all, not just those who can bless us but seeing our responsibility for our whole family
This means judgement has no place in our lives, our thinking or our language. Truly a renewed mind is a basic requirement. We have to work on our vision and how we see others. This is actually a decision we make ahead of events. Spending time in prayer and allowing God to reveal our own heart attitudes to us and then allowing Him to correct us. The outcome is tremendous hope; if we can change then so can others!
Even at the end of this theological masterpiece Paul is people focused. Not wanting to miss anyone out but also exalting leaders both men and women before the church by his personal comments. What a great attitude! one we do well to replicate.
Phoebe is so well spoken of that it is unclear why the church thought women could not be in leadership. She is a Deacon, a minister and one of high reputation. Paul commends her as “standing before” or “presiding over” or “ruling” in the church in Cenchreae. Making it even clearer that she has personally spoken into his life.
Priscilla and Aquila get special mention … fellow workers … Paul gives them great honour, treating them as equals.
Questions to consider
- Are you living for God or living for yourself? Do you know what you are gifted in? If you are unsure, ask those closest to you what gifts they see in you.
- Do you pray for those in authority? As a family/household spend some time praying for each child’s school teacher. You could also pray for your boss at work.
- In Chapter 14:19 (NKJ) Paul urges us to pursue peace and to edify one another. Are you pursuing peace? Are you building others up?
- Chapters 12-15 are like a spiritual health check of our love walk! Chapter 15:7 says “accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God”. Let’s bring praise to God by accepting others and not standing in judgement.
- Following Paul’s example in Chapter 16, who can you commend and who are you speaking well of to others.
The church in Rome was not started by Paul, though he knew many leaders there. The church was made up of Jews and non-Jews, and in the period from A.D. 49-54 all Jews were expelled from Rome by the Roman Emperor. When they were allowed to return years later, the Jewish and non-Jewish Christians had a difficult time co-existing peaceably. They disagreed about the exact meaning of the Gospel and how exactly to practice the life of following Jesus, especially in the area of religious customs and holy days.
Paul’s larger dream was to make the church in Rome a staging ground for the Gospel to spread further west to Spain and beyond (15:22-24). However, if the Roman Christians were divided between Jew and non-Jew and could not agree on the meaning of the Gospel, then Paul’s mission would be compromised.
Paul uses his letter to explain the Gospel is salvation through faith in Jesus. He especially highlights that Jesus is the fulfillment and focus of God’s relationship with Israel, and that the Gospel was always meant to spread beyond Israel to non-Jews. This is why he focuses so much on key Old Testament themes (Abraham, Torah, circumcision) and on the implications of the Gospel for the Jew/Gentile relationship.
Paul is generally accepted as the writer of this letter, probably written while he was in Corinth around late 55 or early 56 AD just before he left to travel to Jerusalem (Acts 20).
Some church history reports suggest that Paul did actually get to travel to Spain after being released from prison in Rome before being re-arrested and executed in 65AD. Vision was still driving him in his latter years, unwilling to settle down but push forward constantly while he still had time.