Preface: Why Paul Wrote to the Saints in Rome


Why Paul Wrote to the Saints in Rome

 Theme:  The righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel.  Romans 1:17

Faith in the gospel is God’s power to save mankind from sin, death, the wrath of God and Law.  (All law such as the Law God gave to Israel through Moses).  See Romans 5:12-21.  This righteousness of God was personally revealed by God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus practiced His Father’s righteousness  (I John 3:7).  His mission on earth was to do the will of God (John 4:34).  The righteousness of God is the rule by which all behavior is measured and thereby judged.  The righteousness of God is a truth godless and wicked men have suppressed by their wickedness (Rom. 1:18).  God’s faithfulness to His own righteousness, even to the point of sacrificing Jesus’ physical life, justifies God to forgive sin and to judge mankind (3:26).  * (All scriptures not designated are found in Romans).

In Paul’s quote from Psalms 51:4; the “you” is God in this context.

Let God be true and every man a liar. So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.  Romans 3:4

Righteous people live by faith in the gospel (1:17).  We live in obedience to the level of faith we possess (1:5; 6:16).  Our obedience increases with our faith (II Cor. 10:6, 15, 16).  We are slaves to the faith we have in God’s righteousness Jesus revealed to us.   This is good news because this is the path to holiness.  Please read Romans 6:17-23.  Sanctification is the narrow road to the eternal life Jesus spoke of in His sermon on the mount (Matt. 7:13, 14).

Faith comes to us only as we study and understand the gospel from the words of Christ (10:17).  Hearing the gospel can open the “door of faith” for all mankind (Acts 14:27).  Since we have been endowed with imagination we can hope for what we hear in God’s word.  This door of faith opens into what is not seen by our natural mind’s eye (6:19).  As our eye of faith develops our “room of life,” the space within our ego boundaries, slowly fills with the spiritual realm.  This is real reality, the complete truth (Eph. 1:18).  Our hope in this truth is the focus of our faith.  What we hope for is evident and it has substance (Heb. 11:1).  It becomes a part of our present reality while we live in what is seen by our natural eye (II Cor. 5:7).  In order to enjoy our new combined world of what we see with our natural eye and what we see with our “eye of faith,” we will need to set higher goals for our inner-man.  The goal of the gospel of Jesus Christ is this: We develop the strength of character and the type of personality that will produce behavior on the “righteousness of God” level.

God is spirit (John 4:24).  Jesus showed us the Father (John 14:9).  We have Jesus’ description of God in His words in the Bible.  We cannot see the holiness of God but we can see the righteous behavior of God’s holiness in Jesus’ revelation of the righteousness of God.  We see God’s faithfulness to His decrees in that He willed Jesus’ death on the cross (1:32; 3:25, 26: John 12:27, 28).  We can see God, even though He is spirit, by our eye of faith.  Christians see what the natural eye cannot see.  We see God’s invisible qualities:

                                             Eternal power,                Divine nature.                  Rom. 1:20.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.  Through these He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.  II Peter 1:3, 4

I.       Historical analysis.       

On the lighter side we can say Paul wrote a letter to the Roman saints because he planned to make Rome a stopover point on his way to Spain (Rom. 15:24).  He had known and served with several of these Christians in Europe and Asia before they went to Rome (16:3-15).  Perhaps his purpose in writing was to let them know he was coming and ask them to assist him on his journey.  He did have a desire to be mutually encouraged by a “faith sharing” fellowship with the members of the church of Christ in Rome (1:11, 12; 15:32; 16:16).  A request for their favorable acceptance of Phoebe into the church fellowship was included in his letter (16:1).

Paul believed the Christians in Rome were “full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.”  15:14.  He said:

Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.  Rom. 16:19

We understand this letter was not written because of a specific doctrinal or a spiritual growth problem in the church (1:8).  However, he did mention two immediate issues.  He asked them to struggle with him in prayer on behalf of his ministry in Jerusalem.  The Jewish unbelievers were an ever-present challenge to the church.   See Rom. 15:30, 31; I Thess. 2:14-16.  Another evil was the threat of self-serving smooth talking people who preyed upon the brotherhood of Christians from its beginning (16:17, 18).  See Acts 8:18, 19; II Cor. 2:17; I Thess. 2:5.  It was a problem for the church in the first century and it is yet a problem.

Paul felt constrained to write quite boldly on some points, to remind the church, because he was a “minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles.” 15:16.  By examining these points we may be able to discover a much deeper purpose for Paul’s letter to the saints in Rome.  It is a great document!

Before we examine these “bold points” in this letter let us recall Paul’s commission given to him by Jesus to take His ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; Rom. 1:1, 5; 11:13; 16:25-27).  However, before we think about the Gentiles coming into the church, we want to keep in mind the relationship the people of Israel had with God (Rom. 9:1-5).  The Jews had enjoyed being “number one” with God for centuries before He “granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”  Acts 11:18.  Jesus came to fulfill prophecy concerning God’s forthcoming change in His relationship with physical Israel and the other nations (Isa. 9:1; 11:10; 42:1).  The Holy Spirit revealed the mystery about “Israel of promise” to Paul (Rom. 9:8; Eph 3:2).  The following is the new relationship of God with people from all nations in the new “Israel of God.”  Gal. 6:16.

 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ.  Eph. 3:6

Most Jews rejected this new arrangement in the first century.  Thousands accepted the new “togetherness” arrangement; however, with reservations (Acts 15:5).  Please read Acts 21:17-25.  The Jews rioted when Paul used the word Gentile.  This was the actual situation he encountered in Jerusalem soon after he wrote the Roman letter.  We need to understand the general view of the Jews who had believed Jesus of Nazareth was truly the Messiah.  Their belief did not include Jesus’ parable in Luke 5:36-39.  They were not ready to accept the all new administration of God’s kingdom.  They were not ready for Jesus’ worldwide mission.  They had not understood what Paul carefully explained to the Galatians.  See Gal. 3:17, 18.

The Jews who believed the promises God made to Abraham were passed on to the church by the way of circumcision and the law of Moses would not find it easy to give up those ideas (Acts 11:1-3).  Paul worked very hard in this letter to help them understand.  We can be sure it was a cultural problem for all the Jews.  Peter had to have a special message from God before he would even enter a Gentile’s house (Acts 10:9-23).  Later, he and Barnabas reverted to their early culture (Gal. 2:11-13).

Then there were the Pharisees.  The Galatian churches were being “cut in on” by Jews who had their own agenda at about the same time Paul wrote to the saints in Rome (Gal. 5:7).  They were not the same cast of Jews who believed but misunderstood.  They were the “troublemaker Jews” – like Paul was once.  See Gal. 4:17; 5:7-12; Acts 9:1.

After we add some new Gentile Christian “boasters” to the foregoing Jewish scene in the churches, we can know why Paul spoke “quite boldly on some points.”  See I Cor. 1:26-29; 3:1-3; 4:6-8, 18.  The Gentile’s sexual promiscuity equalled the low morals of the world today.  See I Cor. 5:1; 6:18; Acts 15:22ff.  The question Paul may have had in mind was; “How could Jesus be head over a church that functioned as His body with these diverse cultural traits?”  See Romans 12:3-8.  How could they be the family of God with their diverse religious beliefs?  See Acts 14:11-18; Heb. 2:11-14.  How could they accept one another without arguing about who had been right in the past?

Paul started his work on these diversities by quoting from various Psalms.  See Romans 3:9-18.  The quickest way to stop an argument about who is right is to show “there is none righteous, not even one.” 3:9.  Jesus did not plan to build a Jewish church of Christ and a Gentile church of Christ any more than He planned to build denominational churches.  See Matt. 16:18; John 17:20, 21: Acts 4:32; Eph. 3:2-6.  After all, there is only one kingdom of God.

It will be noteworthy to consider Paul’s repetition of identifying the Jews and Gentiles after he made several of these “bold points” in his letter.  See Romans:  1:5, 6, 13, 14, 16; 2:9, 10, 24, 28; 3:1, 9, 22, 29; 4:9, 11, 17; 7:1; 8:34;  9:24, 30, 31; 10:12; 11:7, 11-13, 25, 32; 13:8; 15:9-12, 16, 18, 27; 16:4.

We have completed our historical analysis.   We will now attempt to follow the style of the writer in order to hear what Paul said to the situation the new churches were facing all over the Roman Empire.  This will be our literary analysis.

II.      Following the style of the writer.

A.      Romans 1:1-3:20.

The theme of Paul’s letter to the Romans is “The righteous will live by faith.”  Under this banner Paul quickly sets the record straight for anyone in the church, be it a person with a Jewish or Gentile background, who might want to “point the finger.”  Please read Romans 3:9-18.  If all members of the church accept the fact that “there is no one righteous” a loving church fellowship will be enjoyed.  This may be Paul’s aim in this block of scripture.

B.      Romans 3:21-5:11.

However, if a person is not righteous in God’s eyes, he or she cannot have a peaceful relationship with our Creator.  In this block Paul presents the doctrine of justification by faith with the blood of Jesus as the “sacrifice of atonement.”  3:25.  At the same time in this discourse Paul is working on maintaining a happy church family – a church made up of saints with both Jewish and Gentile backgrounds.  There were two issues to be put in their proper perspective; circumcision and the Law of Moses.

C.      Romans 5:12-21.

Therefore, just as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death passed to all men, because all sinned – even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam … .  Rom.  5:12, 14

At this juncture in his letter Paul presented the “in Adam/in Christ” dichotomy.  (Dichotomy refers to two mutually exclusive or contradictory groups).  Even though Adam was a pattern of Jesus, in that they both came in the flesh, the contribution they made for mankind was mutually exclusive in every aspect.  See I John 4:2, 3; I Cor. 15:22, 45-49.

Please note the four problematic issues “in Adam” that controls the mental/spiritual environment for mature people in the “world realm.”   See John 18:36; Acts 26:18.  The problems are: Sin – Death – Condemnation of God (wrath) – Law (Moses’ Law belongs in the same category as secular law).

Paul presented the solution for the problem of the wrath of God in Romans 3:21 – 5:11.  He showed how the doctrine of justification by faith gives Christians peace with God.  This is the same doctrine God graced His people with before Christ came (Heb. 11:4, 7, 8).  The improvement is in the quality of the sacrifice (Heb. 10:1-3).

D.      Romans 6:1-23. 

Why do all mature people “in Adam” become sinners?   The answer:  We got the knowledge of good and evil when Adam and Eve broke covenant with God.  See Gen. 3:22; Rom. 2:14, 15; 16:19; Heb. 5:14; I Pet. 3:11.  Paul showed how all men and women can be free from sin as a master over us in this block.  It happens in the final process of the new birth, baptism (6:4).  Please see John 1:12, 13; 8:34-36; II Pet. 2:19.

E.      Romans 7:1-8:4.

A law, such as the law of a State and the Law of Moses is not conducive for rearing children.  It is not the category of law God is using to rear His children in the church (8:28-30).  However, God did find it was necessary to put Israel, His firstborn, under the Law of Moses because they transgressed the law of the Spirit of life.  See Exodus 4:22; Gal. 3:19; Rom. 8:2.  He put them under a schoolmaster until He sent Jesus to redeem them from this Law (Gal. 4:1-5).

In this block of scripture Paul showed the Jews how to be free from the Law of Moses.  Christians are free from the Law of Moses and all law belonging to this category.  See Gal. 5:1, 13; I Peter 2:16; I Cor. 6:12; 10:23; Rom. 13:1.  This category of law is for the lawless (I Tim. 1:9).  Freedom from law is attained for Christians at the same time we are freed from sin (7:1-4).  Christians have the law of life (8:1, 2).  It belongs in the category of the law of nature.  “Sin is not taken into account when there is no law.”  5:13.

F.      Romans 8:5-39.

The alternate to death is life.   This applies to our spirits and our bodies.  “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.”  I Cor. 15:22.  The presence of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life is the answer to both of these issues of death.  Paul sums up the first section, chapters 1-8, of his great letter by showing how the Holy Spirit works for God’s purpose for creating mankind.  “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.”  8:19, 29.  Please note how a person’s problem with sin, the wrath of God and the Law must be solved before the Holy Spirit will fellowship a Christian “in Adam.”  A Christian must have a healthy relationship with the Holy Spirit to have life.  “The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”  V. 6.  Christians are “in Adam, in Christ.”

III.     Romans 9:1-11:36.  “For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”

In this part, Paul is still working to enhance the Jew/Gentile church fellowship scenario.  He had some special words for the Gentile members (11:13):

–    Don’t boast against your Jewish brothers and sisters (11:18).

–    Be kind to them in the manner God has been kind to you (11:22).

–   Don’t be conceited (11:25).  Conceit led to boasting in the Gentile dominated Corinthian church (I Cor. 1:31; 3:21; 4:7, 20).

However, he has taken a different approach in these three chapters to solve the fellowship issue.  The approach in the first eight chapters was “all have sinned.”  Thereafter, he revealed how the “just shall live by faith” in doctrines based on the “sacrifice of atonement.”  3:25.  Paul showed how “Jesus was delivered over to death  for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” 4:25.  His approach in this block is to reveal the great and awesome difference in God and man.  We are the pot and God is the potter; therefore, God chooses (9:20, 21).  The people who belong to God are His people because of His choice; therefore, Christians are the elect (11:7).

A.      Romans 9:1-29.

His theme in this block begins with; “It is not as though God’s word had failed.”  9:6.  His aim is to identify the true Israel of God.  Paul used the analogy of a tree to identify God’s people in the last days.  We will need to find the root before we will be able to identify the branches (11:17-21).  When this is accomplished the church can understand God’s word has never failed for His people.  God’s people have always been “children of promise.”  9:8.  Isaac was a child of promise.  9:9.  Jacob (Israel) was a child of promise.  9:13.  The people of Israel were children of promise.  9:1-5.  God, who makes promises and is able to keep them, is the root for the life of His people.

The Jewish people in the church believed God’s people were “children of promise.”  What Paul called to the Roman Christian’s mind (and all others who would read his letter) is this; members of the church with a Gentile background are also “children of promise.” Please read 9:24-26.  God has promised all people who walk by faith in His promises He made to Abraham` are “sons of the living God.”  9:26.  God’s word has not failed.  Jesus and the Holy Spirit have made the “son of God, identity, each Christian’s identity (8:16-21, 28-30). 

B.      Romans 9:30-10:21.

Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.  Rom.10:4.

Jesus became a stumbling stone to the Jews who were seeking to attain a gift of God’s righteousness by their works of law.  Some Jews, as well as many Gentiles, did not stumble over the cornerstone, thus they attained a gift of God’s righteousness.  Question:  If Christians have attained God’s righteousness where does it reside, what does it do and what is its benefit?  To answer these questions we need to trace the gift of righteousness by faith back to its source.  It came from the word of God (10:8).  His word tells us Jesus is Lord and God raised Him from the dead.  We take this word into our minds by our study of God’s word.  We take it into our hearts by faith.  The word of God is in our hearts.  Our obedience to our faith in God’s word speaks through our behavior (10:8-10).

Faith is a heart thing.  Emotions that have their roots in faith are manifested in our “self.”   Our “selves” use our bodies as an instrument for righteousness (6:13).   The righteousness by faith, God’s righteousness, speaks and acts from within Christians (10:9).  It manifests itself in our behavior when we are obedient to our faith (Rom. 1:5; Jas. 2:12-14).  Our faith in God’s word is Jesus’ power to save (10:13).  It saves us from our own futile thinking and darkened hearts (Rom. 1:21; Eph. 4:17-19).

Did God’s word fail or did Israel fail to obey God’s word?  Paul raised this question about God’s word and the salvation of physical Israel.  Paul helped the church work out the answer in 10:16-21.

C.      Romans 11:1-36.  Did God reject His people? 

No doubt, Paul anticipated someone would ask this question.  He, himself, was the answer.  God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew.  There is a remnant of Israel chosen by grace who are saved (11:5).  At the time Paul wrote this letter some Jews were members of the church of Christ in Rome, namely, Priscilla and Aquila (16:3).

Paul drew a proverbial “line in the sand.”  See Isaiah 28:17.  On one side is “the elect.”  They were the Israelites who had been saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8).  They were members of the church and Paul was one of them.  God’s purpose in election “does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”  9:16.  On the other side of Paul’s line was Israel who pursued a law of righteousness by works (9:32).  The result: They were “hardened.”  This is a bad word when it describes the heart of a human being.  At the time this letter was being written most of the Jews in the first half of the first century had stumbled over Jesus.  See Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11.  Peter drew this line in his letter by quoting Isaiah 8:12 and 28:16.  See I Pet. 2:4-10.

Another question:  “Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery?”  Paul works this out for the church in 11:11-24.   We will need to carefully work through this block of scripture with Paul in order to understand his statement; “And so all Israel will be saved.”  11:26.  Many people have not personally worked this out and it has caused much trouble for the church and people in the world, especially in the last century.  To work through this block of scripture with Paul we need to keep in mind Jesus’ mission:  His mission is the reconciliation of the world to God.  See Romans 5:10; 11:15 and II Cor. 5:16-21.  Also, God has bound all men to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all (11:32; 16:26).

In Paul’s “dough and root” analogy, Jesus is the root.  That is, He is the head of the church and the One though whom God’s promises He made to Abraham are being kept.  The elect are the branches (members of the church).  See Romans 12:5; John 15:1-8).  The elect are the people who are obedient to our faith we have in God’s promises and righteousness (9:8, 11, 30; 11:7).

While keeping the foregoing in our minds we can properly understand how all Israel will be saved.  However, we must use the words “unbelief” and “stand by faith” in their normal application.  All of the people who make up physical Israel will be saved if they do not continue in unbelief.  See Romans 11:23.  Gentile Christians will fall from grace if we fall from faith.

We need to start our thought process with the true identification of God’s people (9:8).  We are all children of promise; however, we must have faith in the promise.  “The righteous will live by faith.”  Rom. 1:17.  We, who have faith in the promises of God, are the elect, whether or not we have a Jewish or Gentile background.  Members of the church of God “in Christ” are now the Israel of God (Gal. 6:16; I Thess. 2:14).

For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh… .  Phil. 3:3.

All born again Christians are children of God and we are Abraham’s seed.  We are heirs according to the promise.  See Gal. 3:26-29.

IV.    Romans 12:1-15:22.  Your spiritual act of worship.

A.      Introduction.

Paul closed the first part of his letter, chapters one through eight, with a great exhortation for us to live courageous lives and let nothing separate us from God’s love “in Christ.”  8:31-39.  He could say this because he had shown how much God loved us while we were yet sinners (5:8).   His exhortation is based on this reasoning:  If God and Christ loved us while we were sinners – then how much more will He continue to love us; who are justified by Jesus’ blood (5:9); who have peace with God (5:1); who God’s Holy Spirit is working with us for our sanctification (8:13).

Paul closed out the second part of his letter with praise to God for His wisdom, knowledge and unsearchable judgments in the way He worked with people of faith (11:33).  The main point Paul wanted the church to be very clear about was this: God’s word had not failed.  Indeed, Israel as a people had fallen short of God’s glory – as well as everyone else on earth (3:23).  God’s word had not failed because there was a remnant presently saved by grace (11:5).

It must never enter a Christian’s mind that God’s word has ever failed.  After all He is the same God who is keeping the natural elements in cycle.  He is the same God who arranges for our food (Acts 14:15-17; Matt 6:31-33).  The creation itself shouts to “whoever will listen,” God’s word has not and does not fail (1:20; John 1:1-3; Heb. 1:3).  Christians believe God’s word has not failed in the physical creation.  More importantly, we are slaves to our faith in His word about His promises for our eternal spiritual life.

After presenting these great discourses Paul opened this section with a simple, therefore.  Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices (12:1).  How could anyone have faith in what we have heard up to this point in this letter and not be willing to do this very thing?  This is Jesus’ appeal to His church to function as His body for His mission to seek and save the lost.  He will show us how the church can keep “herself” healthy in love and at the same time show the world how to love.

Paul was a servant of Christ who lived by faith (1:1).  He made his approach to promote a loving Jew/Gentile fellowship “in Christ” from the practical side in these four chapters.  He will approach this issue from the personal growth point of view.  Paul knew the solution was not in the doctrines he had presented.  The solution would be in the obedience of the individual church members to their individual faith in the doctrines he presented hitherto in this document.

B.      Romans 12:1-21.  “This is your spiritual act of worship.”

Some theology to keep in mind: 

–         God’s will and God’s kingdom are mutual entities (Matt. 6:10).

–        God’s will is good, pleasing and perfect (Rom. 12:2).

–        God’s kingdom is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). 

–        The kingdom of God is an inside thing with Christians (Luke 17:20. 21).

In view of God’s mercy Christians enjoy peace with God and embark with the Holy Spirit on the path of our sanctification.  See Rom. 5:1-6; 12:8-14.  Before we were born again we were slaves to sin; however, we whole-heartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which we were entrusted (Rom. 6:17).  See Rom. 6:1-11 for the final process of the new birth.  The following are the markers on our path of sanctification:

–       The new life. Rom. 6:4.        

–        In Christ.  Dead to sin >>> Alive to God. Rom. 6:11.

–        New transforming mind.  Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:23.

–        New self with armor of light.  Eph. 4:23, 24; Rom. 13:12-14.

–        We test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasant and perfect will.  Rom. 12:1.

–        Offering our bodies “as a living sacrifice” is how we begin our spiritual growth. Rom. 12:3.

–        We offer our bodies as instruments of righteousness.  Rom. 6:13, 19; 12:1.

–        We are obedient to our faith.  Rom. 1:5.  This is our spiritual act of worship.  Rom.12:1.

God’s kingdom is the real reality behind all else.  God is complete (Ex. 3:14; Jas. 1:17).  His kingdom is righteousness, peace and joy.  God’s will is that His kingdom be within us.  It is a new life and a new way of thinking – a new paradigm, a new way of perceiving life for Christians.  The acts of our bodies are self-controlled with Jesus as our Lord.  These acts are righteous – just.  We measure good and evil by God’s righteousness.  We are at peace with God because of the doctrine of justification by faith.  We joyfully accept our tribulations because they are for our upward climb on our path of sanctification.  We do not walk this faith path alone.   We are mutually encouraged along by “each other’s faith.”  1:12.

The foregoing is happening, or ought to be happening, in all our brothers and sister in the church; however, Paul warns us not to be arrogant (12:3).  This is an interpersonal relationship path.  We are not all on the same level of sanctification but we are all in the same program.  See Romans 14:1-15:2.  We, as Christians, each find our niche in the body of Christ.  We function at our own level of faith and spiritual growth (12:4-8).  Not one of us should think more highly of ourselves than we ought because we are all “objects of God’s mercy.”  See Romans 9:23 and 12:3.

This interdependent exercise in life (church life) will require each member to develop a sincere love for God, ourselves and others in the body.  The need for our love is especially true for the members who may be on the “beginning level” of their sanctification path.  Paul presented us with a number of practical exercises of love.  Love must be a verb for us before it can be a noun in us.  We can choose to do love or not to do it.  If we choose not to do love, the verb, it will not be love, the noun, in us.   We will find his list of exercises in Romans 12:9-21.  We must try them in order to test and approve that God’s will is good, pleasing and perfect (12:3).

God is love; therefore His will is that His children are love (I John 4:7, 8).  At the same time we must maintain a passionate hate for evil (12:9).  We acquired the knowledge of good and evil from Adam.  Mankind became aware.  Jesus will help us discern, that is, be aware of what is good and what is evil (Heb. 5:14).

Paul finishes his appeal for righteousness, peace and joy in the churches of Christ by delving into great detail about how the strong love the weak in the kingdom of God.  See Romans 14:1-15:13.  We do not want to destroy the work of God.  We will surely do damage to Jesus’ church, if we fail to love the weaker members – be they people with a Jewish or Gentile background.

In fact, we should be able to make the hypotheses at this point that the main reason Paul wrote this letter was for this very purpose.  That is, to remind the church of the mystery God had kept hidden for ages (15:15).  This mystery could only be revealed and worked out in Jesus Christ.  Paul had been given a revelation concerning God’s goal for unveiling this mystery (Eph. 3:2-6).  The following is emphasized again in this lesson because it is what Paul has “worked out.”  Gentiles are:

Heirs together with Israel.

Members of one body.

Sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

Again, we want to emphasize the repetition of “the Jew and Gentile” in Romans:  See Romans 1:1, 14, 16; 2:9, 10, 24, 28; 3:1, 9, 29; 9:24, 30; 10:12; 11:11-13, 25; 15:9-12, 16, 18, 27; 16:4.

Disciples of Christ must decide why a letter has been written before we will properly understand what the author said to the situation.  Disciples are learners and Bible learners must do interpretation.  We can do good interpretation by following a few key principles of Biblical interpretation.

The Christians in Rome were reminded in Paul’s letter that the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The righteousness of God is the one true measurement for justice in all circumstances between God and man (3:4).  It is also the measurement of justice between man and man, whether it is a relationship in the church or with outsiders (13:8-10).  God has ordained the civil authority in each place, be it a village, city, state or country (13:1-7).  The authorities are God’s servants; “consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted.”  13:2.

*All scriptures not designated are found in Romans.

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