Romans: Final Thoughts from Ryan

Paul’s life is defined by his identity in God. He challenges us to see ourselves and live in the same way. It is easy to get off track, however; to allow our own works or heritage to define use; to lose sight of our need for God. Therefore, Paul takes us on a journey to put us in our place and remind us where we’ve come from.
He begins by affirms the faith and actions of the Romans. He contrasts this with the sinfulness of the world around them. He points out that the sinful men know what they should do and choose not to do it. His audience would surely agree and so they’ve taken the bait that he has laid for them.
Immediately, Paul turns his readers on their ear by stating that none of us has an excuse, we are all condemned and subject to God’s judgement. Our own attempts to fulfill the law and our religious heritage are not enough to justify us. Further, we are all under the curse of sin. We are, in fact, thoroughly sinful. We don’t seek God of our own will. But God made a way. He reached our to us to give us something we could never do for ourselves.
Abraham is a great case study: He was not great because of who he was or what he did. He was made great because of what God did on his behalf. Abraham was chosen and given the gifts that he could never bring about on his own.

It is not the decendants of Abraham who are heirs to his promise. It is those who share the same faith as Abraham.
So, while we were hopeless and helpless, God did what only He could. He showed love and mercy to us by sending Christ to die. We didn’t deserve it and could never do enough to become entitled to it. It was a pure and simple gift beyond our imagination.
This gift is not without a cost to us, though – no matter what anyone might say. It demands our life. The life that we have lived is put to death when faced with Christ. We were slaves to sin. We are still slaves, but now we are slaves to Christ, and live our lives in Him.
This is not simply a cognitive assent to the work of Christ. It is a complete exchange of death for life.

The Law that we thought provided a pathway to righteousness is really just a blueprint for our sinfulness and our atempts to keep it have driven us further from God. The Law is good, but we are – by nature – slaves to sin. We will never be able to uphold the Law. Only Christ can do this on our behalf.
Because he has done this, we are no longer condemned. Therefore we must put our sin to death and set our minds on things above, the things of the Spirit. We should anxiously await the future glory that we will find when we are fully united with Christ.
Paul is grieved because many of the Jews just don’t get it. Hee knows, though, that it is God’s choice of who He will save – and God is always just. What is the Jews’ loss has become the Gentiles’ gain. Even though they did not seek God, He came for them.
The Jews believed in God, but they did not submit and surrender their hearts and lives to Him. The key element of salvation is not an academic knowledge of God, but a submission to His lordship.
Gentiles shouldn’t take this as a means of superiority over the Jews. This is all a part of God’s will and His action. Instead, we should find a renewed sense of awe, fear, and gratitude for bringing us into His family.
In light of this, our response should be distinct: putting self to death and becoming alive in Christ. We are to hate evil, prefer one another, and persevere in tribulation. These are not acts of our own will, however. These are the results of a heart transformed by the love of God.
Motivated by that love, we should submit to authority. We should love one another because of the love that God has shown to us. Love is the fulfillment of the Law and should permeate everything we do.
After all, everything we do is for the Lord, not for ourselves. Therefore, any and all actions we take should arise from our convictions from God.
Any strength we have is a gift from God and should be used for other, not for ourselves. This follows the example of Christ. As such, Paul could only boast in Christ.
Paul begins his letter by rooting his identity in Christ. He concludes his letter by identifying his friends in the same way. This is not a simple title that any of them bear. It is born out of lives changed by the love of God.
In conclusion, the Christian life is not about what you do, what you know, or where you’ve come from. It is about who you are. Are you someone who has been transformed in heart and mind by the love of God and the work of Christ? Or are you simply trying to do it yourself – constantly striving against your own inability?

We are all hopeless and helpless but for the love of God that puts self to death and makes us alive in Christ.

Romans Chapters 13-16 Recap

Chapter 13

  • We are under the authority of others for our good.
  • Love should be our motivation in all relationships

Chapter 14

  • Everything we do is a response to God
  • Whatever is not from faith is sin

Chapter 15

  • We are responsible to one another for encouragement and support
  • Paul was clear in his mission and purpose and could take no personal credit for it

Chapter 16

  • Paul identifies his co-laborers in terms of their service and identity in Christ
  • You must keep a vigilant watch that you not be led astray

Summary Thoughts

Identity defines motives

Motives drive actions

Actions testify to identity

Identity: in Christ (ch 16)

Motive: love of God (ch 13-14)

Actions: care for, support, encourage one another (ch 15)

Whatever is not from faith is sin 14:23

Romans 16:1-27

The Word

1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea;2 that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well.

3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,4 who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles;5 also greet the church that is in their house. Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia.6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you.7 Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord.9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.10 Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus.11 Greet Herodion, my kinsman. Greet those of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord.12 Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord. Greet Persis the beloved, who has worked hard in the Lord.13 Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine.14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brethren with them.15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.

20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

21 Timothy my fellow worker greets you, and so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.

22 I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord.

23 Gaius, host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer greets you, and Quartus, the brother.24 [tThe grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.]

25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past,26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.

Romans 16:1-27

What is it saying?

  • Many greetings
  • In the Lord/In Christ
  • Keep your eye on those who cause dissension and hindrances
  •  – they are slaves of their own appetites
  • Be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil
  • Tertius was the scribe who wrote this letter for Paul
  • God is able to establish you according to the gospel
  • Glory to God through Christ Jesus

What does it mean?

Identity and Relationship

  • There are many people that Paul is close to
  • He identifies them very specifically by what they have done
  •  – but more importantly he roots their identity “in the Lord”

Steadfastness

  • Lest we try and take a moment to relax, Paul reminds that we must be vigilant and always be on gaurd
  • It is all dependent on God

What am I going to do with it?

  • Do I praise/honor others for what Christ is doing through them?
  • Am I remaining vigilant in guarding my heart against those who would overtake me?

Romans 15 Overview

Example of Christ

  • The strong should bear with weaknesses of others because of the example of Christ.
  • God gives endurance and encouragement to live in harmony and glorify Him together.

Gentile’s Inclusion through Christ

  • Christ came for the Jews fulfilling OT promises to the Jewish patriarchs.
  • Christ coming for the Gentiles shows God’s mercy and was part of God’s plan all along.

Paul’s Role

  • Paul is called to be a minister to the Gentiles and has reason to be proud of success there.
  • Paul will only speak of what Christ has accomplished through Paul’s words and actions. No pride in his own efforts.
  • Paul’s calling is taking the Gospel to places where it has never been heard.

Paul’s Plans

  • Gentile churches support (and even owe a debt to) Jewish churches.
  • Paul encourages the Romans strive together with him in prayer.

Overview Thoughts

Paul’s clarity for what God has called him to really jumps out to me in this chapter. He is a minister to the Gentiles, taking the Gospel to places where it has never been preached. He has a very clear purpose and has been fulfilling that purpose, yet he’ll only speak of what Christ has accomplished through him. The single focus and the lack of ego around it are both good challenges.

Romans 15:22-33

The Word

22 For this reason I have often been prevented from coming to you;23 but now, with no further place for me in these regions, and since I have had for many years a longing to come to you24 whenever I go to Spain-for I hope to see you in passing, and to be helped on my way there by you, when I have first enjoyed your company for a while-25 but now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints.26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.27 Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things.28 Therefore, when I have finished this, and have put my seal on this fruit of theirs, I will go on by way of you to Spain.29 I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.

30 Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me,31 that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints;32 so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God and find refreshing rest in your company.33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Romans 15:22-33

What is it saying?

  • Paul longs to visit the Romans, but has a number of others to visit as well.
  • Macedonia and Achaia have helped support the church in Jerusalem.
  •  – Gentiles received a spiritual blessing from the Jews and are giving back a physical blessing
  • Pray with Paul for himself
  •  – protection in Judea
  •  – be an acceptable blessing in Jersualem

What does it mean?

Responsibility

  • Paul feels a responsibility to stay involved in the care of the churches
  • This is not a demand on him, rather it is the result of his love for them
  • He has instilled this idea in the churches that they would support one another
  • Paul urges them to reciprocate his care for them by praying for him

What am I going to do with it?

  • Do I feel a responsibility for the spiritual well-being of others?
  • Do I labor in prayer for them?

Romans 15:14-21

The Word

14 And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.15 But I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God,16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.17 Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God.18 For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed,19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.20 And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was alreadynamed, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation;21 but as it is written, 
“THEY WHO HAD NO NEWS OF HIM SHALL SEE,  AND THEY WHO HAVE NOT HEARD SHALL UNDERSTAND.”

Romans 15:14-21 NASB

What is it saying?

  • Paul is generally satisfied with the goodness, knowledge, and ability to instruct one another that Romans have.
  • Paul is writing to remind the Romans of things they have heard previously
  • Paul’s Role
    • Because of grace given by God, he’s a minister to the Gentiles
    • He acts as a priest in service of the Gospel
    • The Gentiles are sanctified by the Holy Spirit and an acceptable offering to God
  • Paul can be proud of his work for God and what Christ accomplished through him to bring Gentiles to obedience
  • Paul has fulfilled his ministry by preaching from Jerusalem to Illyricum
  • Paul’s ambition is to preach the Gospel where Christ has not been preached before

What does it mean?

  • “Regular” Christians are expected to be able to teach and minister to one another as they grow.
  • Paul describes his role as a priest in the OT sense.  He is a priest for the Gospel and the Gentiles who have accepted Christ are the offering he brings to God. This offering is pure and clean because they have been set apart by the Holy Spirit.
  • Paul’s “pride” in His work is centered on what Christ has done through him, and not on his own effort.
  • Paul’s calling was to go to places where the Gospel had never been been preached (Isaiah 52:15), but others would come behind him and continue to spread the Gospel and build the church in places where he had preached.
What am I going to do with it?
  • Can I be described as “full of goodness, filled with knowledge, and able to instruct”? If so, am ministering to others or just being a consumer?
  • What am I proud of that is not rooted in what Christ had done for me or is doing through me?

Romans 15:1-13

The Word

1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.2 Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU FELL ON ME.”4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.8 For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers,9 and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written,
“THEREFORE I WILL GIVE PRAISE TO YOU AMONG THE GENTILES,
AND I WILL SING TO YOUR NAME.”10 Again he says,
“REJOICE, O GENTILES, WITH HIS PEOPLE.”11 And again,
“PRAISE THE LORD ALL YOU GENTILES,
AND LET ALL THE PEOPLES PRAISE HIM.”12 Again Isaiah says,
“THERE SHALL COME THE ROOT OF JESSE,
AND HE WHO ARISES TO RULE OVER THE GENTILES,
IN HIM SHALL THE GENTILES HOPE.”13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:1-13

What is it saying?

  • We who are strong should bear the weakness of others
  •  – not just please ourselves
  •  – Christ did not please Himself
  •    – He took our sins on Himself
  • God gives perseverance and encouragement
  • May He give us the same mind so that we will glorify Him together
  • Acceptance of the Gentiles was prophesied numerous times
  • May the God of hope fill you with peace and joy
  •  – so that you will abound in hope in the Holy Spirit

What does it mean?

Strength

  • if you are strong, God has not made you that way for your own benefit
  • Just as Christ leveraged His strength to save others, so should we
  • As we strengthen one another, we can be united in heart and mind to glorify God

Gentiles

  • God has always had a plan for the Gentiles. They should not be shunned.

What am I going to do with it?

  • Am I utilizing my strength for my own sake or for the sake of others?