THE BOOK OF
This study notes provide the core content of a group of bible studies in the book of Romans. While the core message of the study has been captured for you to read, written text can not fully express the sense of anointing upon the discussion of the word or the joy of corporate fellowship. We encourage you to pray before you begin reading that the Lord would open your heart and mind to be receptive and responsive to God’s message contained within this study. There may be times when you find it difficult to reconcile God’s truth to your own opinion or worldview, God’s truth is eternal, it does not change, our understanding of the truth does change as we allow God to work in our hearts and minds.
ROMANS Introduction Written in AD58 (and probably Paul’s last letter before he was imprisoned in Rome) the letter to the Roman church is different to the other letters in that Paul had never been to Rome and did not know the people. Therefore the style is one of exposition rather than dealing with actual problems; this makes the letter less personal, although that changes in the last chapter. Paul does, however, give a very clear outline of Christian doctrine. Paul’s desire is that everyone will be in right relationship with God, based on faith in Christ alone, righteousness being the central theme of his writing. This letter is for Jews and gentiles and therefore is for the whole church. Read chapter 1v1-7 Paul begins by calling himself a servant (doulos = slave) of Jesus Christ. If we call someone Lord it follows that we are his subject. But Paul was a slave with a calling – to be an apostle and to tell people about Jesus Christ who was fully human and fully divine, the fulfillment of prophecy (2-4). And we also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ (v.6)! Read chapter 1v8-17 Even when we don’t know people personally we can still pray for them. Christians in many countries where there is war, dictatorship, communism, and religious hatred value our prayers. And like Paul we can find it mutually encouraging. They can feel encouraged by our prayers – we can feel encouraged by their perseverance and testimony. Q. Does our love for God result in our praying for others? Paul says 3 “I ams”: I am bound, I am eager, I am not ashamed (v14-16). Greek thinking would say that the gospel of Christ was foolishness, but Paul says it is the power of God for salvation. It: a) delivers us from the justice of God b) brings us into God’s righteousness – which can only be achieved by faith. Paul quotes from Habakkuk 2v4: The righteous will live by faith – right standing with God dependant on his grace alone. Q. Are we like Paul - duty bound, eager and proud to share the gospel with others? Read chapter 1v18-32 And we think things are bad today! God has seen it all before. When he sent Jesus into the world, the world was at its lowest point morally. Paul was describing the situation as it was for many people before the power of the gospel brought about revolutionary change and an escape from God’s wrath. The wrath of God (v.18) can be revealed in two ways: a) punishment b) salvation – yes, sin incurs God’s wrath but God’s desire is to deal with sin (on whatever level) not with punishment but with mercy, if only we are willing to repent. Q. How is God’s power different from the power of man? Memory verse: The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. (v16) 2
Read chapter 2 verses 1-5 We can all judge society as a whole and list the sins we don’t like but when we point the finger at someone else there are three fingers pointing back at ourselves. But we like to find excuses for our behaviour. Paul says, “Don’t judge them, worry about yourself – you have no excuse (v.1) By judging others and not ourselves, we are showing contempt for God’s mercy. Only God’s judgment is righteous because it is based on truth. When we make judgments about people we very often are not in possession of all the facts. What prevents us from seeing ourselves as God sees us (v5)? What should be the outcome of our self-examination (v.4)? Q. What standard should we judge ourselves against (the world’s or God’s)? Read chapter 2 v 6-11 We’re all in this together, no-one is exempt – God does not show favouritism (v.11). Graeme Rutherford says: Judgment is light showing up the fact of the matter. And actually the nearer you get to the light the more you will be aware of any tiny imperfection or flaw. Because God is the source of light his judgment will be based on truth. The outcome will be eternal life for those who seek God’s glory, and wrath and judgment for those who reject the truth (v.7). We all depend on God’s mercy and grace. Read chapter 2v12-16 “Those who obey the Law will be declared righteous” (v.13). Do we have any excuse if we haven’t heard about God’s Law? Paul talks in verse 15 about the instinctive knowledge of right and wrong through our consciences. In other words gentiles cannot claim ignorance as an excuse. Their conscience will be their judge. Read chapter 2v17-24 “If you call yourself a Jew” (v17) could just as easily read “if you call yourself a Christian”. It applies to us all. It is a warning not to be hypocritical – that is, to say one thing and do another. It will bring God’s name into disrespect. Remember, if we point a finger at another, we have three fingers pointing back at ourselves! Read chapter 2v25-29 The Jews were proud of, and relied on, the fact that they had the Law and Circumcision. But Paul makes the statement that these are only outward things. What is important is the heart and the Spirit. Are we right with God? Are we genuinely in step with his Spirit? Are we humble because of our sin or proud because we think we have no sin? Q. As Christians, what things might represent the Law and Circumcision for us? Are we Proud because we keep certain rules or ordinances? Read chapter 3v1-8 Under the new Covenant some Jews were questioning their position , if as Paul said, Jew and gentile were the same before God. But Paul reminds them that it was they who were given 3
the Law. It was a privilege, but with privilege comes the responsibility to obey the Law. And he also addresses 2 other questions: • Our lack of faith can never alter God’s faithfulness (v3&4) • If you knowingly sin expecting God’s forgiveness, you deserve condemnation (v8) Read chapter 3v9-20 Here Paul quotes 6 passages from the Old Testament in order to get his point across. Paul stresses that both Jews and gentiles (i.e everyone) are all under sin – born in sin; there is noone who is perfect. Verses 13-18 describe the various effects of sin. • v.13&14 – our throats, tongues, lips and mouths let us down (think of examples!) • v.15-18 – our feet take us to the wrong places and enable us to do the wrong things Paul finishes in verse 20 by saying that the crux of the argument is that through the Law we become conscious of sin. There is no question that we are all sinners. The Greeks would have argued differently, as will many people (e.g. New Age) today. But Paul is clear on the matter: we are all sinners and we all need God’s grace and mercy. Read chapter 3v21-31 Praise God for the “BUT” at the beginning of this next passage!! Verses 23&24 explain that all have sinned, but all are justified freely and can be forgiven by accepting the work of Christ on the cross at Calvary. Paul then explains how it works: • We were redeemed (v24) – paid for with a ransom price, the blood of Jesus. Our salvation is free, but not cheap. • Our sins were atoned for (v25). We should have paid the punishment, but God’s wrath was appeased by the vicarious (substitute) sacrifice of Jesus (literally in our place). • We are justified (v26,28). Justice was served. Sin had to be punished. God condemned our sin and Jesus satisfied the just requirements of God’s Law on our behalf. • We can now stand as righteous before a holy God (v21,22). Praise God! Righteousness Martin Luther called it “God-acceptedness”. It is being in right relationship with God who is righteous. It is having right-standing with God. It can only be achieved through faith in Jesus Christ and not by any effort of our own. Righteousness brings sanctification, by virtue of us being grafted into Christ’s body through faith. For Christians to walk a righteous life they need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is only through the Spirit that the Christian can experience a continuing release from the bondage of sin on a day to day basis. Memory Verse For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace. (Romans 3v23&24a) Q. If we are late- if we let someone down – if we gossip when we shouldn’t have done – if we don’t pass our driving test or haven’t learnt the memory verse, what do we do? 4
In our daily life we all try to defend or excuse our actions to some degree. We feel we have to offer an explanation to justify our action or inaction. We do it because we don’t want to be blamed or to feel guilty. We have a need to be justified. Justification – dictionary definition :– proving something to be right, and showing yourself to be free from blame and guilt. This chapter ends the first part of Paul’s argument: We can all know that we are forgiven, accepted by God, and reckoned to be righteous – all by his grace alone. Paul uses the example of Abraham to persuade his readers. Read chapter 4v1-8 If anyone had a right to boast it would be Abraham (Genesis 26v5). But Abraham’s acceptance with God (his being made righteous) came from his faith and not from his works. But beware: faith should not be something we produce, else it becomes ‘works’. The person who says, “I’ve got my faith to see me through” or “I’m saved because I surrendered” could be relying on themselves rather than on God. It is our implicit trust in God which is credited to us as righteousness. It is God’s grace that saves us, it is nothing of ourselves. Read chapter 4v9-12 The matter of circumcision was very important to Paul’s Jewish readers. But he points out that Abraham was justified before he was circumcised (14 years before – see Gen 15v6 and Gen 17v10). Circumcision came after faith, as a seal – a symbol of his genuine faith showing his acceptance by God – an identification that he belonged to God. Q. Bearing this in mind, how important these days is Baptism? Read chapter 4v13-17 Paul’s argument: Abraham didn’t earn salvation by being circumcised or by keeping the Law. The Law merely makes people aware of sin and punishment. No-one (apart from Jesus) could ever fully obey it. How could anyone be justified? It can only be because the Law has been replaced by grace, works by faith, merit by the free gift of salvation. Nothing depends on us – on our works or on our state of faith or on our self effort. Read chapter 4v18-25 Abraham’s faith was in a promise which was largely unseen: the promise of a child in old age (Genesis 17v17), the promise of a nation of descendants, the promise of the Land of Israel. Abraham’s faith was in the promise which seemed impossible, but he still believed. His faith was credited to him as righteousness. For us who believe without having seen, the same goes (v24). We are all justified by the death and resurrection of Christ. Memory verse: He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification (v.25)
Read chapter 5 v1-5 The paradox: suffering but joy; struggle but peace; endurance but hope. Suffering, struggles and endurance come from our human existence; they are things we encounter as we go through life. Joy, peace and hope come from our spiritual standing with Christ – because we have been justified (v.1) and this has brought us access into God’s presence and life (v.2). This access means that God is with us through the difficult times, and this brings joy. It’s often said, “Where there’s life, there’s hope”. But the Christian can say, “Where there is difficulty and even death, there is hope”. Our hope is based on the sure foundation of God’s love being given to us (v.5). Read chapter 5v6-11 Paul refers to us before our salvation as ‘powerless and ungodly’ (v.6); ‘sinners’ (v.8); and ‘enemies’ (v.10). And yet – God’s greatest desire was to reconcile us to himself! He loved us so much, he sent his own son to die for us. Reconciliation: The previous verses showed we were out of favour with God because of our sin; but reconciliation is God, by his grace, restoring us to favour. In reconciliation we have a new basis for relationship which is based on God’s grace and not anything we can do. Moreover, God has (and continues to) change us so that we can stay reconciled to him. Read chapter 5v12-21 Paul compares and contrasts Adam and Christ, Adam being the first of those born into the human race and Christ being the means of those being ‘born again’ to a new life. Both influence the destiny of many. Adam Jesus Christ one man one man started pure took our sin on himself sin cleansing corrupt nature forgiveness ruin rescue, salvation condemnation justification death life old human nature new creation in Christ separation reconciliation physical connection we must decide to respond to God’s grace Memory verse While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (v.8) Read chapter 6v1&2 Following on from the argument in chapter 5v20 Paul goes on to explain how we should live as Christians in the light of God’s grace. Paul is only too aware that even though we died to sin when we accepted Jesus, it doesn’t mean that our struggle against sinful desires is forever over. In fact Paul says of himself in 1 Corinthians 15v31, “I die daily”. Read chapter 6 verses 3-7 Using baptism as an example, Paul explains how that we died with Christ. Jesus was the substitute for our punishment. He took our sins and they were nailed to the cross with him. 6
Our sinful nature therefore died with Christ (v.3). Not only that but it was buried with Christ (v.4). Jesus death on the cross includes our own death to sin. Baptism is symbolic of this fact. But it is also symbolic of resurrection, the new birth (John 3v3) and a new creation (2 Corinthians 5v17) – a newness of life, powerful resurrection life. So the point Paul is making is that living right is a result of that that newness of life. His resurrection life is our resurrection life. Q. Is Paul saying we will never sin or that we will never be slaves to sin? Read chapter 6 verses 8-14 Here we have the answer. Firstly we must have the right attitude (v.11) and then we must act in the knowledge that we are dead to sin. It is up to us to not let sin take hold of us (v.12). Just as we died with Jesus we also live (continue to live) with him each day. We cannot separate parts of ourselves from Jesus. Rather, we are to live right in the knowledge that we are in union with him. Christ’s death and resurrection are as important for living out our faith as they are for our salvation. Q. If we understand the theology of this and get our thinking right, how can it help us? Does what we understand with our mind affect our actions? Read chapter 6 verses 15-18 Paul uses the example of slavery to make his next point. Slavery was common under Roman government (there were millions of slaves – so the concept, which is alien to us, was a familiar one when Paul wrote to the Romans). He is saying we have a choice. We can be slaves to sin/death or slaves to obedience/righteousness. Jesus promises that we can be set free from sin – not to become slaves to our own self – but slaves to Christ who offers us a loving relationship and a lightness of our burdens (Matt 11v28-30). Read chapter 6 verses 19-23 If we are slaves to whatever route we choose to take (sin, self, substitute religion), we cannot be free to do anything else. When we freely give ourselves as slaves to Christ we see every part of our being (thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, choices etc) as coming under his lordship. And the wonderful thing is, that although we deserve no more than a slave, He freely gives us the gift of eternal life and his eternal presence with us. Memory verse (6v23) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Paul’s argument so far: Justification: We are right with God because Jesus has atoned for our sins. Sanctification: We should continue to live right as we grow fully into Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to help us. Read chapter 7v1-6 Paul now writes about the benefits of dying with Christ and how it helps us to live sanctified lives. He first of all uses the example of marriage to illustrate freedom from the Law. So that, just as the death of a husband or wife frees a person from marriage, in the same way 7
our death with Christ frees us from the past (wrong thinking; wrong associations; wrong loyalties; wrong deeds; wrong ways of trying to be right before God etc.). We are also free (and this applies to everyone) from trying to earn God’s favour by keeping His Law; the point being that living right in God’s eyes comes from the work of the Holy Spirit, and not by our own efforts. Q. Does knowledge of the Law guarantee it being obeyed? Can you think of any everyday examples? (e.g. Keep off the grass; don’t drink and drive etc.) Read chapter 7v7-12 What the Law cannot do: 1. It cannot take away sin – it only makes us aware of it (v 7&8). 2. It cannot justify us or remove blame – it only condemns. 3. It cannot free us from condemnation 4. It cannot give us eternal life (v 9-11). But the Law is Holy, of God, and it is good. It’s our sinful nature that’s the problem! Q. What should the Law do? See Deut 30v15-20 Read chapter 7v13-20 Paul identifies with every believer in this passage in his frustration with his “flesh”, recognizing the struggle between desiring to do what is right, and hating himself when he does what is wrong. However, that in itself is proof of the Holy spirit at work in a believer’s life; because paradoxically the more we grow in Christ the more we become aware of our sinful nature. We are subject to Christ’s Law. We are still part of Adam’s race; we are still part of a sinful world; we still face temptations; we will still all die a physical death. BUT Jesus Christ overcame the world and through his death and resurrection we can also be overcomers (as symbolized in Baptism – chapter 6v1-7). Read chapter 7v21-25 Paul talks about the Law of God versus the Law of the Flesh. Who could rescue him from this dilemma – only Jesus Christ (v25). We learn to please God and do his will, not by striving to keep every detail of the Law, but by trusting in God’s grace and rejoicing in what he has done for us. We shouldn’t be satisfied with being justified by grace; we should seek to be sanctified by grace also. Memory verse – verse 6: We have been released from the Law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit.
Read chapter 8 verses 1-4 “Therefore” . . . what a bold, confident and glorious conclusion to the arguments set forth in the previous two chapters! The Law brings condemnation and death, but Jesus brings righteousness and life – according to the Holy Spirit within us. Even though we continue to struggle with sin (which is different for every one of us) we will never be condemned or receive everlasting punishment for our failures. What we could not attain ourselves, Christ has done for us by dying in our place. 8
Read chapter 8 verses 5-8 Q. What is your mindset? Has it changed since you became a Christian? Think about what things you set your mind on, then and now (materialism, recognition, pleasure). Paul reminds us in these verses that a mind controlled by the Holy Spirit brings life and peace because it doesn’t dwell on, and long for, the desires of the flesh. We should actively set our mind on what the Spirit desires, and not just passively wait to be changed (v5). See what Paul also says in chapter 12v2. Q. What can we do to train our mindset to be in tune with the Holy Spirit? Read verses 9-11 Paul repeats the fact that our mind is either controlled by the Spirit or by our old sinful nature. If we have trusted Christ for salvation and righteousness, it follows that we should be controlled by, and trusting, the Spirit. We can choose to overcome sin because we know that the power of the Spirit within us is greater than the power of our sinful nature. Q. If we are offended, cross, proud, self-absorbed or hard-hearted, is this sin? How can we deal with some of our wrong attitudes? Read chapter 8 verses 12-18 Now Paul develops the argument into something wonderful. The Spirit of God that we have received is a Spirit of Sonship. God has adopted us into his family, so that we can call him “Abba” – Daddy (Daddy, in the sense of a trustful relationship). Gone are all the arguments and restraints and shortcomings of the Law that Paul has been discussing. Instead, is this beautiful concept of loving family relationship:- sons of the Father and co-heirs with Christ Jesus and all that that involves . . . suffering (yes), joy, love and the glory of his presence. The Holy Spirit gives us the assurance of all this. It is not just a head-fact, but a heartfelt reality. Verse 18: suffering is relative – relative to the glory that lies ahead. Paul’s sufferings were often great (see 2 Cor 11v24-29) but here he dismisses them as not worth anything compared to Christ’s glory/presence in us. Our sufferings are part of what make us a fellow heir with Christ, and our sufferings lead us to God’s glory/presence. Q. If we suffer pain does it help us to identify with Christ’s agony on the cross? If we lose a loved one (particularly a child) can it help us to identify with the Father’s heart when Jesus gave up his life for us? Can you think of any other examples where suffering enables us to experience God’s heart and his presence?
Read chapter 8 verses 19-23 Since the time that Adam sinned and broke that close relationship with God, the whole of creation has suffered the results: people, animals, land, weather systems etc. In fact, Paul says it has been groaning (v22) like a mother giving birth – waiting for that glorious day when hope will be fulfilled and all creation will no longer be subject to death and decay. The earth, like us, will be a new creation – restored to eternal perfection. Read chapter 8 verses 24-27 This is a certain hope and it means that whatever life throws at us, we know that our eternal destiny is secure. And whilst creation is groaning, and whilst we groan, the Holy Spirit also 9
groans. He prays for us to the Father, he intercedes for us. In our bereavements, our disappointments, our trials and our pain the Holy Spirit is with us linking us to God’s mercy and love. We accept the pain of childbirth as paving the way to something far greater – the pain has a purpose. Q. Do we view suffering, pain or trial as being purposeful? Read chapter 8 verses 28-30 It is quite clear in verse 28 that God uses all things for our eternal good. (It doesn’t say we will feel good, necessarily!) When we know Christ the events in our lives do not happen by chance, our lives are ordained by God – we are controlled by the Spirit (v9). If we do not accept this, are we doubting God, are we not really trusting him? Paul goes on to say that God’s plan for us is that we will be conformed to the likeness of his Son. Everything that we go through is designed to make us more like Jesus – both in his suffering and in his glory (see again v17). It is like the analogy of a diamond cutter who starts with a rough stone and chips and polishes away until a perfect diamond is made. Verse 30 shows how God chose us, called us, justified us and will glorify us. Q. How can fear or pride stop us from trusting God in all things? Note on verses 29&30 – two sides of the debate Predestination? Verses 29-30 imply that only those whom God has predestined/chosen/elected will be saved. There are other Scriptures that have a similar message: Matt 22v14; John 15v19; Rom 9v18; 1 Thess 5v9. Does God direct that some will be saved and others damned? Or free will? There are many other scriptures that indicate we have a choice – it’s up to us to put our trust in Jesus: John 3v16; 1 Tim 2v3&4; 2 Peter 3v9; Rom 10v9; Rev 22v17. There are three schools of thought on this debate: Universalism All men and women will be saved. Armenianism Jesus died for every individual and anyone who chooses to believe in Jesus can be saved. Calvinism Some people (the elect) are predestined to be saved; and therefore those who are not are predestined to hell. Predestination or free will is the wrong question. The Bible talks about both predestination AND freewill. It’s one of the paradoxes in the Bible – contradictory statements that are both true. (As for example Justice and Mercy; Jesus the Shepherd and King; God being Holy and separate but loving and in relation with us etc.) God didn’t create robots, he created people who would choose to love and serve him. When we choose to follow him we are predestined to be conformed to His image – Romans 8v29, and to share in the glory of resurrection and eternal life. Romans 9 continues the theme. Read chapter 8 verses 31-39 Paul asks a series of rhetorical questions in these verses: (Try answering them) 10
If God is for us who can be against us? (v31) If God gave his Son for us, won’t he also give us all things? (v32) Who can accuse us or blame us? (v33) Who makes it his business to condemn us? (v34) Who can separate us from the love of Christ? (v35) Paul answers his questions with absolute confidence, “I am convinced . . . “ Memory verses: (38&39) For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us form the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Read chapter 9 v1-5 Remember there were no chapter divisions in the original manuscript, and therefore verse 1 continues on from the last verse of chapter 8. Nothing can separate us (who trust in Jesus) from the love of God and yet Paul would give his life (if it were possible) to see those of his own race brought into the kingdom. He was broken-hearted over the lost, especially those who had the opportunity and threw it away. The Jews had seen/experienced many advantages: the Shekinah glory of God’s presence, the covenants, the Law, Temple worship, and the promises – all of these things were representative of the work of Christ – all were there to bring all men to God. But when Jesus came the Jews (not all) rejected him – they failed in the purpose for which they had been chosen. And then Paul mentions the Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (the line of promise) and this begins another thread of his argument - Israel’s rejection of the gospel; and at the same time God’s faithfulness. (Notes that follow in italics are a summary of Paul’s argument)
The Israelites (historically): We are all right – we are descended from Abraham Read chapter 9 v6-13 Paul refers first to Isaac and Ishmael (See Gen 21v12&13 and Gen 17v19-21); and then to Jacob and Esau (Gen 25v23-26), to support his previous case for selection. So, not all of Abraham’s descendents were part of the chosen race. Historical selection of Isaac and Jacob proves that God predestines what will happen. The purpose of the chosen line was to lead people to God, and not to exclude others – proselytisation was not uncommon. Therefore some were selected but it didn’t follow that others were rejected without mercy. Therefore God is not unjust. He will still have mercy on the ‘whosoever’. Read chapter 9v14-18 It is because God is Sovereign that he can choose what he chooses to do. We rest in the knowledge of his character – i.e God is LOVE and God is HOLY – and we can trust that what he does is good and right and what is best for us. Paul uses the example from Scripture of 11
Pharaoh as an extreme example of what he means. Paul is still setting his argument in the context of history. God has a plan for ALL mankind throughout the ages. God is Sovereign. Actually he can do what he wants and we have no right to complain. There is predetermined judgment on the wicked (e.g. Pharaoh). We deserve nothing – and yet God was willing to give us everything, in His Son Jesus Christ. Read chapter 9v19-29 Because God is sovereign he can form us as a potter forms the clay. (See Jer.18v4-10) Paul is implying here that we do not have free will at all! But actually he’s not saying we shouldn’t have free will, he’s saying we shouldn’t have a spirit of rebelliousness. The potter has control of our destiny. The rejection of the Jews and acceptance of the gentiles was foretold by the prophets. God’s plan was that ultimately the gentiles would also be predestined to have the opportunity of salvation. Paul quotes Hosea and Isaiah to show how the gentiles and only the remnant of Israel will become God’s people. Hosea 2v23 and Isaiah 10v22&23. Are Christians the new ‘pot’, the new Israel? (Jer. 18v4) Q. In what ways can we identify with Paul’s grief at Israel missing out on the blessing? Think of family members who do not know the Lord. Read chapter 9v30-33 Both the Jews and the gentiles can attain righteousness by faith and trust in Jesus – not through any claim to their line of descendancy or through any merit gained from good works. Jesus, the Stone, is the only way to salvation and as many as believe on him will be saved.
The stone/rock upon which everything is built
Isaiah 28v16: Daniel 2v31-35: Psalm 118v22: Matt. 21v42: Acts 4v10-12: Eph.2v19-22: 1 Peter 2v4-6: Rev. 2v17:
God says that built into Zion is a precious corner stone and a sure foundation, referring to Jesus. talks about the stone/rock that conquered iron, clay, bronze, silver and gold - the 5 great empires of Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Roman. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone/corner stone. Jesus applied this text to himself. All history leads to Jesus. He is the pivotal point. He came for the Jews and they rejected him. Peter confirms this, under the leading of the Holy Spirit (v8) when he stands on trial before the Sanhedrin. And we, as members of God’s household, are built together on the foundation of Jesus Christ, the chief cornerstone. Because of the resurrection we are living stones. One day these old, worn out stones will be changed for pure white stones and they will be given new names, as they will be part of the heavenly city. 12
Paul goes on to conclude that there is no difference between Jew and gentile when it comes to being saved. Read chapter 10v1-13 Righteousness is all about faith, faith alone, and nothing we can do of ourselves. The Jews’ self-righteousness was not what God required; they thought they earned merits by their obedience to the Law. God is looking for faith-righteousness in us, based on what Jesus has done for us. These things are not out of reach (v6-8), but near, not hard but easy. Memory verse: If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (v9) Read chapter 10v14-21 Paul uses scriptures to show how the Jews could not claim ignorance as an excuse. Israel’s unbelief was not out of ignorance (v18) but out of rebelliousness and Paul quotes 12 verses from the Old Testament to support this. The important thing for us to note in verses 14-16 is that everyone needs to hear the gospel, so that then it is up to them to respond. To believe they need to hear; and to hear someone needs to tell them the gospel. Who will it be? Read chapter 11v1-12 The Israelites had not been rejected – just set aside (v1). Even though the majority rejected the Messiah God would not reject them. God has always been faithful to the remnant – Paul cites the occasion during Elijah’s time (v3) when God revealed that he had reserved a remnant of 7000 people who still trusted in him. God’s faithfulness is a work of grace. Certainly Paul, a Jew, knew this in his own life. The anomaly was that what Israel sought after by their works could only be obtained by grace through faith. Reaching the Gentiles through the Jews’ unbelief was part of God’s plan all the time. Q. What is our attitude toward Jews today? Paul said salvation has come to the gentiles in order to make Israel desire it also. Read on ... Read chapter 11v13-24 “If the root is holy so are the branches”. Here we have a parable of a cultivated olive tree that has been pruned and wild olive shoots have been grafted on. The olive tree represents the chosen line from Abraham – God’s covenant people, the Israelites. It represents the place of privilege. The pruning represents chastisement and removal of “bad wood” i.e. the Israelites who have rejected the Messiah. The wild olive shoots represent the gentiles who have been grafted into God’s plan. The life-sap is God’s Life and Word and Promises which come through the roots and feed wild and cultivated branches alike. The gentiles should not boast in their position because they are dependent on the roots. 13
All branches stand by grace alone, because of the kindness of God. Read chapter 11v25-36 We have received mercy as a result of their disobedience, and the Jews will receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy on us. This thought spurs Paul on to write the wonderful hymn of praise in verses 33-36.
Read chapter 12v1&2 In 1 Corinthians 3v16 Paul says our bodies are ‘temples of the Holy Spirit’. And here he is saying that therefore we don’t, or shouldn’t, worship God in mind only, but with our body too. What we do in our flesh is all part of our spiritual sacrifice to God. Paul debated the difficulty of doing this in chapter 7; but here he says the answer is that we can control our bodies by renewing our minds. We cannot separate out the two. Our thinking affects our actions and will also help us to know what God’s will is. Read chapter 12v3-8 Paul says we should judge ourselves, or in other words consider ourselves in relation to the whole body of Christ – of which we are a part. What is our function? How are we serving/worshipping God? In verses 7 & 8 Paul mentions several ways in which we can do this. If we look at New Testament Scriptures as a whole we will see that we can all have a ministry, and a service for God – and be in his ‘good, pleasing and perfect will’. TASK Look up the following Scriptures. Write down what ministry or gift is mentioned and write down your idea of the definition of each in practical terms. 1 Cor. 14v1&5; Eph. 6v7; 1 Tim. 4v13; Heb. 10v25; Rom. 12v8; Titus 1v5; Luke 6v32-36; 1 Cor. 12v8 (x2); Eph. 6v16; Acts 19v11&12; 1 Cor. 12v10 (x4); Eph. 4v11; 1 Thess. 5v14; 2 Cor. 8v16-21; 2 Tim 4v5; Eph. 4v11; Acts 13v2 & 20v18-21; Acts 22v20; 1 Tim 3v2; Acts 12v24 & 25; 1 Tim. 2v1; Luke 10v19&20; Eph. 5v19; Acts 18v3 & 16v14; To all these can be added the writing of the epistles – correspondence & communication. And we are reminded to carry out our service to God cheerfully, and with willingness. Read chapter 12 v 9-13 Love is the key. Can we honestly say we are devoted to one another? That we are consistent? That we always put others first? That we are always joyful? Always remember to pray for each other? And share with each other? These things are a big ask – and will only flow from love – love which is more than words – sincere love (v9). Read chapter 12v 14-16 Tony Blair introduced the concept of respect for all people and a tolerant society – but has it made any difference? I don’t think it has because the idea wasn’t rooted in love for God. Only God’s love can help us to bless those who persecute us, those who are marginalized and those who in the world’s eyes are unlovely. 14
Read chapter 12v 17-21 Vengeance belongs to God, because we do not have the right to judge. William Barclay said, “Vengeance may break a man’s spirit but kindness will move a man’s heart” and move them to shame (the burning coals). If we avenge, we ourselves sin. Love is the antidote to vengeance. Q. What are we called to be? Chapter 13 - Historical context • • • •
At the time of Paul’s writing (approx. AD 58), Nero was the Emperor of Rome. The Romans had been in Britain for 100 years and they had founded and built London (Londinium) in AD 50. Boadicea (Boudicca – from the Icene tribe in Britain) was busy amassing troops to fight against them. Roman soldiers had built roads from Rome to Northern England and all over their Empire. They also left a legacy of Bathhouses and Villas (some highly decorated and with mosaic tiled flooring). Roman soldiers were conscripted from the country of occupation – making Boadicea’s army a rebel army.
Read chapter 13v 1-7 Read also: 1 Timothy 2v1&2; Titus 3v1; 1 Peter 2v13-17 Along with everybody else, Christians share the benefits of government – roads, water supply, electricity etc. and Christians therefore have a duty and a responsibility to the state, regardless of who is in power. Disobedience could result in anarchy. Q. Can you think of examples when Christians cannot obey the Law of the Land? What conflicts might they face? Q. In British legend, Boadicea was a heroine as she fought against Roman occupation. How should a Christian react in this kind of situation, perhaps in other places today? Christianity must be dissociated completely from political rebels, the ideals of terrorists, and any dissention against the governing bodies. Q. How can bad government be part of God’s will? In Paul’s time the Christians were not without difficulties, but Roman power had brought a kind of world peace (known as the pax romana). Roman government had actually (unbeknown to them!) made it possible for the Christian message to be taken to the world, especially with all the newly built roads. The Roman government was an instrument of God. Q. Can bad governments be good for the church? There are many countries today where imprisonment and atrocities are carried out Against Christians, but often the church grows larger and stronger than it does in the affluent, ‘free’ countries. But which ‘set-up’ would you rather be a part of? 15
Read chapter 13v 8-10 Having dealt with our debt to society, Paul moves on to look at how we relate to each other. He takes us back to Jesus’ summary of the Law – “Love your neighbour as yourself”. The only way to fulfil the Law is by loving each other; the way forward is love, not rebellion. Q. What did Paul mean by saying we have a debt to love one another? Read chapter 13v 11-14 Paul expected the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to happen at any time. If it was urgent to Paul then, how much more urgent should it be to us now? We do not know when it will be but we must be ready, and we are exhorted to live in the light of this. Q. How can we be ready for Jesus’ Second Coming? (See verse 14) This next chapter is very challenging to those who think they are strong in the faith, but also very encouraging to those who feel they are weak. Christians with scruples and principles regard themselves as being strong and immovable, but Paul refers to them as “weak in the faith”. Read chapter 14v1 This first sentence is like a summary of the whole chapter. Paul is saying there are many disputable matters (such as food, drink, Sabbath observance etc.) but if we disagree on them we should not judge each other as a result. The heart of the debate is Christian freedom versus Christian legalism; a broad view versus a narrow view; an acceptance of each other rather than judgment. Read chapter 14v2-4 Vegetarianism; Kosha food (very applicable to the early Christians); Halal meat (applicable in some parts of Britain today); alcohol etc. We all have opinions on what would be right or wrong and do as our conscience dictates. But we should not judge another who thinks differently to us. Paul’s view is stated in verse 14. Read chapter 14v5-8 Keeping the Sabbath/Sunday special is another area of debate. Is it special – or is every day special in God’s presence? Our aim is to be in God’s presence, not to be bound by a set of rules. Rule keeping is mere religion. Read Colossians 2v16&17 Q. Why could strict Sunday observance be considered wrong rather than right? And why does Paul call such Christians weak? Paul makes it quite clear that what we do (or think should be done) mustn’t be the standard for everyone else and we mustn’t be judgmental to others who think differently.
We are all shaped by our life experiences which differ enormously. Our experiences frame our view of things and our motives for doing things. We have to make allowances for each other, but we shouldn’t feel we have to make excuses for ourselves. We shouldn’t have to know about people before we accept them. All of us belong to the Lord who accepts each of us as we are. 16
Read chapter 14v9-12 We shouldn’t worry about other people, but we need to examine ourselves because the day will come when we have to give an account of ourselves to God. Read chapter 14v13-18 When making a decision our consideration should be whether our actions are encouraging to others or whether they are a stumbling-block. The kingdom of God is about “peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (v17) and not about rules and regulations. Read chapter 14v19-23 Therefore bringing the Holy Spirit’s peace should be our aim – to the lives of others, but also for ourselves, that we might know we are in God’s will. Q. How do you interpret the last phrase? Read chapter 15v1-4 The world says, “Please yourself”. Jesus says the opposite; he was our example. We are exhorted to help and encourage one another. In the last chapter we saw how all the experiences of our past colour the way we view things and affect our opinions. And here (in verse 4) Paul is saying that we also learn, and can be encouraged by, the experiences of others, and particularly those in the Scriptures. That’s why it is so important to read the Bible and to listen to it being preached on. Q. Can you think of an example of when someone’s experience has encouraged you? Read chapter 15v9-12 In these verses Paul quotes from Old Testament Scriptures to prove that God’s acceptance is not just for the Jews only, but also for the gentiles. Read chapter 15v5-8 and verse 13 Here we see the development of Paul’s argument: Acceptance of each other as we are leads to friendship and encouragement which will result in unity. And this will bring praise to God. Jesus was the fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham (and which were passed down through David. v12.) and made it possible for all to be part of God’s family. Q. So what should result when we put our trust in God? (v.13) Read chapter 15v14-22 Paul has written this letter to the Romans in preparation for his visit to them. So, just as he writes to an unknown congregation miles away, he also writes to us – his unknown audience – down the centuries. His only ambition was to see as many people as possible, Jews and gentiles, coming to faith in God. Paul had completed three long missionary journeys and was planning a fourth.
Read chapter 15v23-29 Paul was intending to go further afield to Spain, stopping at Italy on the way in order to visit his Christian friends and fellow workers in Rome. But, as if to stress unity in a practical way, Paul says he must first take money from the churches in Greece to support the church in Jerusalem. This reminds us that we are all part of the greater church and have a responsibility to support Christians in other parts of the world who are persecuted or suffering hardships. In verse 28 Paul repeats his plans, and although he longs to see the church at Rome his missionary heart is still set on Spain – on taking the gospel wider and wider afield. Read chapter 15v30-31 Here is a hint of what would actually happen to Paul, despite all his plans, “Pray that I might be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea”. Paul knew he was going into very difficult territory, because it was when he got to Jerusalem that he was arrested and imprisoned. He spent two years in prison in Caesarea and two in prison in Rome, where he ultimately died. In chapter 12 we looked at all the different gifts and ministries we can have and use in God’s service. Here, in the next chapter, Paul commends a wide variety of people for the many different ways they have used their gifts to support him and the work of the Lord. Read chapter 16v1-16 People are commended for: Working alongside Paul (v. 3, 9, 21) Running a house-church group (v.5) Accepting Christ (v.5, 11, 13, 15) Working hard (v.6, 12) Being relatives who were (implied) praying (v. 7, 11, 21) Being people who Paul loved in the Lord (v. 8) Having been tested and approved (v. 10) Being like a mother in the Lord (v. 13) Being like brothers in the Lord (v. 14) Read chapter 16v17-21 Paul warns again against division and counsels wisdom so that the unity of the church is protected. Read chapter 16v22-24 Now we have commendations and greetings from Tertius who scribed the letter (epistle) for Paul. He thanks Gaius for his hospitality.
Read chapter 16v25-27 But, thankful though Paul is for the people who have helped him, he reminds us that it is all about God and what he has done for us through Jesus Christ, and so the glory goes to him.
The following 2 pages are a list of all the people who are mentioned in the Book of Acts and they serve to remind us that the church is made up of all different people with varying gifts and ministries. Maybe some are called to be great apostles like Paul, but mostly we are called to serve God diligently and faithfully just where we are.
People mentioned in Acts â€“ highlighted names also mentioned in Romans 16 Antioch These men came together to form the new Christian Church here Barnabas (Acts 11v 22-26) Lucius (Acts 13 v 1; Rom 16v21) Simeon (Acts 13v1) Manaen ((Acts 13v1) John Mark ((Acts 12v25) Derbe Gaius (Acts 20v4; Rom 16v23)
Troas Luke (other sources)
Philippi Lydia (F) & family (Acts 16 v 14 & 40) Jailer & family (Acts 16 v 23-36) Epaphroditus (Philip. 2v25) Euodia (F) (Philip. 4v2) Syntiche (F) (Philip. 4v2) Clement (Philip. 4v3) Workers/Caesars palace M&F(Phi. 4v22)
Thessalonica Jason M (Acts 17 v 6-9; Rom 16v21) Aristarchus M (Acts 20v4) Secundus M (Acts 20v4)
Beroea Sopater son of Pyrrhus M (Acts 20v4)
Athens Dionysius M (Acts 17v34) Damaris F (Acts 17v34) Stephanas (M) (! Corinthians 16 v 15)
Corinth Titius Justus (M) (Acts 18 v 7) Crispus (M) & his family (Acts 18 v 8) Sosthenes (M) (Acts 18 v 17 & 1 Cor 1v1) Gaius (M) (Acts 19v29 - see Derbe) Phoebe (F) (Romans 16v1) Aquila(M)&Priscilla(F) & fam (Acts18v18) (& household of Onesiphorus) 2Tim 4v19 Chloe (F) (I Corinthians 1v11) Erastus (M) (2 Tim 4 v 20; Rom 16v23) Stephanus (M) (1 Corinthians 16 v 17) Fortunatus (M) .. Achaicus (M) ..
Ephesus & district Under leadership of Timothy Epenetus (Romans 16 v 5) Eutychus (M) (Acts 20v9) Trophimus (M) (2 Tim 4 v 20)
Crete Under leadership of Titus
Lystra Timothy (Acts 20 v 4 & Acts 16v1; Rom 16v21)
Cyprus Under leadership of Barnabas
Caesarea Under the leadership of Philip (Acts 21v8) Philip’s 4 daughters (F X 4 !) Acts 21v9
Judaea Agabus (M) (Acts 21v10)
Laodicea Nympha (F) (Colossians 4 v 15)
Colossae Epaphrus (M) (Colossians 4v12) Archippus (M) (Colossians 4 v 17) Jerusalem Silas Mnason James Peter
Rome Eubulus (M) (2 Tim 4 v 21) Pudens (?) .. Linus (M) .. Claudia (F) .. Mary (F) (Romans 16v6) Andronicus (M) (Romans 16v7) Junias (F?) .. Ampliatus (M) (Romans 16v8) Urbanus (M) (Romans 16v9) Stachys (?) .. Apelles (?) (Romans 16v10) Aristobulus (M) .. Herodion (M) (Romans 16v11) Narcissus (M) .. Tryphena (F) (Romans 16v12) Tryphosa (F) .. Persis (F) .. Rufus (M) (Romans 16v13, Mark 15v21) Rufus’ mother (F) .. Asyncritus (M) (Romans 16 v 14) Phlegon (?) .. Hermes .. .. Patrobas .. .. Hermas .. .. Philologus (M) (Romans 16v15) Julia (F) .. Nereus (M) .. Nereus’ sister (F) .. Olympas (M) ..