1. INTRODUCTION – Paul’s Epistles Paul’s Conversion
If you turn to the Contents page of the New Testament in a Bible (NIV), you will find 21 epistles or letters sandwiched between the Book of Acts and the Book of Revelation. Out of the total 27 Chapters in the New Testament, 21 (77.8%) of them are letters to various churches. And 13 (16.9%) of them were written by Paul, who sent two letters to the church of Thessalonia, one to Galatia and two to Corinth and one to Rome during his missionary journey. While he was a prisoner in Rome, Paul sent letters to the churches at Ephesus, Colossians, Philemon and Philippians. After imprisonment, Paul wrote two letters to Timothy and one to Titus–13 all told.
Paul Called by God
In Galatians 1:11- 23 Paul said,
I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles. I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.
Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles–only James, the Lord’s brother. …Later I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.
Paul was born in Tarus, Cilicia, of pure Jewish stock, as a Roman citizen. He received Greek education and Hebrew religion. His teacher was Gamaliel, the greatest teacher of the Pharisees. Paul said in his letter to Galatians that the gospel he preached was not something that man made up; he received it by revelation from Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11). Not long before, Paul (known as Saul at that time) was present at the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. The Bible says, “Saul was there, giving approval to his death” (Acts 7:60).
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison (Acts 8:4 –48).
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
Who are you, Lord? ” Saul asked.
I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.”
The man traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything (Acts 9:1 – 9).
So the young Pharisee had a head-on collision with Jesus Christ. After the miraculous conversion, Saul was later baptized and he received the mission to preach the gospel. (Act 9:15).
Dr. Bruce Walthe says in his book Finding the Will of God ,
There were very few occasions in Scripture where the Lord stepped directly into the life of a believer to reveal some new truth. Christ met Saul on the road to Damascus and revealed Himself as the Messiah. It was an incredible situation, with Paul being knocked to the ground in a blaze of light and hearing the voice of Jesus speak to him. However, we certainly cannot make Paul’s conversion experience for all Christians. Most of us have never and will never speak to the Lord face-to-face while on this earth. If we used Paul’s dramatic conversion as the model for all conversions, there would be very few people in the kingdom. Other disciples in the early church did not have this sort of conversion experience. There certainly is no history of God’s people regularly experiencing anything like this in Christendom. So we must take it on faith what happened to Paul was a unique experience, arranged by God to develop the greatest missionary of all time. Do not misunderstand me, God still gives His people visions and miraculously calls them to ministry. . . . (Walthe, 170-171).
Tradition says that Paul was beheaded at Rome and buried at the catacombs about 66 – 67 AD.
- GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS – THROUGH FAITH WE ARE JUSTIFIED BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST
Jesus Christ (our righteousness)
The church in Rome was possibly founded by visitors from Rome, in Jerusalem for the Passover and converted at Pentecost. They returned to Rome with the seed of the gospel and established this new center in this capital.
Paul was eager to visit this church, and wrote from Corinth, from the home of Galus, a wealthy Corinthian Christian “to all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints” (Romans 1:7). Paul was in his third missionary journey. The letter was written in the year of Nero, then Emperor of Rome (57AD).
In a nut shell, Paul sets forth His gospel in Romans 1:16 –17:
. . . [T]he gospel. . . is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentiles. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’ (Habakkuk 2:4).
Paul called himself “a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God “(Romans 1:1). He served wholeheartedly in preaching the gospel (Romans 1:9) because the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. (Romans 1:16).
God’s Wrath against Mankind
The sinfulness of man had reached its peak in Rome. Sinners had suppressed the truth by their wickedness. They completely ignored God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–although since the creation of the world these were clearly seen.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles (Romans 1:21 – 23).
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts . . . (Romans 1:24).
God gave them over to the shameful lusts. . . (Romans 1:26).
God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. . . (Romans 1:28).
[Consequently], they have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanders, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boasting; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless . . . (Romans 1:29-31).
God’s Righteous Judgment
Though God is love, holy and righteous He does not show favoritism for human sins. Human beings were born with sinful nature for we were born as “children of Adam.” But we may not be aware of that and we often continue to do wrong yet we may still think that we’re doing right by the worldly standard, and within the law systems of the countries.
This is a common human perspective. And I had had too the same point of view before I received Jesus Christ as my savior and was baptized. The Webster’s Dictionary defines “sin” as “transgression of divine law, any reprehensible action, serious fault, or offence”. “Sin” is influencing our way of life. “Sin” is being self-centered and egoistic. It is of interest to note that the alphabet “i” is in the center of “sin”. Yes, we are sinful if we put “I” in the center of things, i.e., the ego. If we would behave in such a way, we expect that the world revolves around us. In fact, God wants us to be different and to see the reality. Have you ever had the kind of feeling that everything in the circumstances just didn’t seem to fit in your desire, your plan, your family or your relationships and so on ….I have met people who always fume and fret. Nothing seems to turn out right any times so they never have peace and joy in their hearts.
In Christianity, “sin” is like a “gully” that separates men from God. This “gully” prevents them from having an intimate relationship with God. God seems to be distant from men, beyond their understanding, their knowledge and their hope; some men are skeptics who do not know or disbelieve there is the God. Ancient tribes and even today men still worship totems or idols except the true God. Clearly the Bible says, anything falling short of His glory is a sin against God. Therefore, men’s stubbornness in walking their own ways together with their ignorance store up God’s wrath against them for the last judgment when His righteousness will be revealed. (Revelation 6:15-16).
If any one’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15).
This simply means those who have not been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ will suffer the second death which is the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14).
But no one is righteous:
There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. . . . There is no fear of God before their eyes. (Romans 3:10 – 11, 18).
Righteousness through Faith
But Paul assured us that the righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
[ We are justified] freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus… God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood (Romans 3:24 – 25).
Redemption from Sin
The Bible explains in detail how sinners can be redeemed and are able to die to sins because of Jesus Christ atonement which has become a free gift of salvation only if they will repent and believe in Him.
[Because Jesus] himself bore our sin in his body on the tree, . . . we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds [we] have been healed (1 Peter 2:24).
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst (1 Timothy 1:15).
. . . [H]e was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53: 5-6).
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 1:7).
Who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God Father (Galatians 1:4).
So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him (Hebrews 9:28).
Because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy (Hebrews 10:14).
Paul then continued to say that Abraham was also not justified by works. The Scripture says that “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3; Genesis 15:6).
The words “ it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness–for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification (Romans 4:23 – 25).
Peace and Joy
“As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Jesus Christ, the Head of a spiritual race is “a new creation” by which we, who believe in Him, are reborn in the family of God and we would have Christ’s nature, which is holy. Have you yet received “eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord”? Are you a sinner “in Adam,” or are you a son “in Christ”?
God demonstrates his own love for the world by sending His only Son, Jesus Christ, as our savior. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice on our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 5:1-4).
3 HOW TO LIVE A CHRISTIAN LIFE? – HOW to abandon to GOD?
How to live a Christian Life? (Romans 6–7)
Paul said that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death. Since Christ was raised from dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires (Romans 6: 11 – 12). Do not offer the parts of your body to sin. . . but offer yourselves to God (Romans 6:13). And offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:14).
This means Christians must be learning to abandon to God.He or she must learn to “let go” and “let God”. Thusly God would live through us. Let God work His will in us and through us. Though we used to be slaves to sin which leads to death, we have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness—leading us to holiness. Only if we “let go” and “let God” will we be able to live our lives of victory and blessing–dead to sin but alive to God!
Nevertheless, we cannot live a victorious life by ourselves; because of our sinful nature, it is impossible to live a holy life.
[Paul said,] I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing (Romans 7: 18-20).
For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the laws of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from the body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! ( Romans 7: 22 – 25).
Bruce Wilkinson in his Secrets of The Vine describes so well that our Lord Jesus taught His final message to His disciples at the night He was betrayed. It goes like this:
The disciples follow Jesus down the hill, through the winding streets of Jerusalem. Avoiding the temple mount and its noisy, celebrating crowds, Jesus turns right and leads them out of the city. Then they turn sharply left to follow the Kidron Valley up toward their destination.
Along the terraces that follow the curve of the valley, they pass through ancient vineyards. They walk in single file between rows of neatly tended grapes, plants that have been bearing fruit for generations. To the left above them tower the city walls and the ramparts of the temple. Ahead and to the right rises the Mount of Olives, where Gethsemane and betrayal await.
Here Jesus stops. Hemmed in by rows of vines, the disciples gather around. Lamps and torches sputter in the night air and flicker in their eyes.
Jesus reaches for a grape branch. Showing signs of new spring growth, its woody stem lies across His hand in the golden light.” (Wilkinson).
[Jesus said]:“I am the true vine, and my father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. . . I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. . . This is to my father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 14: 1 – 2, 5,8).
Remember, it is the “ I ” in “S-I-N” that must be removed. If you put “O” in its place, you will become “S-O-N.” Henrietta C. Mears puts it so well :
Finally, I find that there is One who is sufficient. Struggling yields to power; defeat is changed to victory; misery is transformed into joy. When “I” goes out, Christ comes in. (Mears).
Life Through the Spirit (Romans 8:1 – 17).
How can we step out of the self-life into the Spirit-filled life? Paul said, “the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). We Christians “are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit” (Romans 8:9). If the Spirit of God lives in us, we belong to Christ. If Christ is in us, our spirit will be alive because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10). Since the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in us, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to our mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in us. (Romans 8: 11.)
There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). . . because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Romans 8:14)
We are in the intimate relationship of the spirit of sonship. We are children of God; we call Him “Abba, Father” in our prayers. (Romans 15); “then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 17).
Romans 8: 18 – 39
This Chapter opens with “no condemnation” and ends with “no separation.” Paul assured us that nothing could separate us from the love of Christ.
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 from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38).
This is a picture of our life in Christ. The Christian is in God’s providence.
Romans 9 – 11
Paul continued to explain God’s sovereignty that is difficult to grasp. God’s sovereign choice to have set aside the Jews is not necessarily based on descendants of Abraham.
In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring (Romans 9: 8).
The Jews pursued a law of righteousness not by faith–they tried to set up their own righteousness but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone”. History has revealed to us that the Jews had been scattered throughout the world without a homeland. God is the potter. We are the clay. What right we have to talk back to God, the Creator, “Why did you make me like this?”(Romans 9: 20).
If God will put aside His chosen people, will He not put us aside if we are disobedient? This also serves as a warning to us that only “the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame (9: 33). . . . That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it” (Romans 9: 30 – 31).
The Jews do not know that:
- Righteousness will only come from God through faith. A man does not build up righteousness–he only receives it from God.
- “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for every one who” (Romans 10: 4).
[T]he word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming (Romans 10:8).
[That 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. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved (Romans 10: 9 – 10).
. . . [T]here is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (10: 12 – 13).
But concerning Israel Isaiah said, “All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations . . . ” (Isaiah 65:2).
What does this mean? Did God reject his people? Paul said that he was “a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin” (Romans 11: 1). Paul was called to be the apostle “to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith” (Romans 1:5).
[When Elijah] “appealed to God against Israel: ‘Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left and they are trying to kill me’ And what was God’s answer to Him? ‘ I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ ” (Romans 11:2 – 4).
Because of God’s grace and His covenant with their forefather Abraham, Israel will not fall beyond recovery. If the Jews do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in as healthy branches. Only because the branches were broken off (the Jews’ unbelief), the wild olive shoot had been grafted in (the Gentiles’ faith). There is nothing for the Gentiles to be proud of. Let us be careful lest we become arrogant and disobedient as the Jews.
All Israel will be saved
This is a mystery according to Paul.
Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
The deliverer will come from Zion; He will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins (Romans 11:25 – 27).
- HOW TO SERVE GOD? – CHRIST WANTS A “Living Sacrifice” – Not a dead one
How to serve God (Romans 12 – 16)
From Chapters 1 to 11 Paul had described God’s mercy on firstly the Gentiles (Chapters 1 – 8) and then on the Jews (Chapters 9 – 11) and because of God’s mercy and love that we have been justified by faith. Up to this point, surprisingly, we have not had to do a thing. Our salvation is purely a gift of God. God said to Moses,
I will have mercy, on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion (Romans 9:15; Exodus 33:19).
It is not due to our desire or effort that we are saved, but only God’s mercy (i.e., His sovereign grace.) Therefore, Paul urged us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God. What then is the meaning of “living sacrifices”? Until we have been saved by His grace and transformed by His love, we can do little for God. Now having been received into Christ Jesus, and become filled with His love, we can find much to be done. Christ wants a “living sacrifice,” not a dead one. (Romans 12:1).
Living Sacrifices (Romans 12: 3 – 8)
What may we do for God in church? Each of us has one body with members.
- These members do not have all the same function.
- In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
- We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.
- If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.
- If it is serving, let him serve.
- If it is teaching, let him teach.
- If it is encouraging, let him encourage.
- If it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously.
- If it is leadership, let him govern diligently.
- If it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Brotherly Love (Romans 12: 9 – 16)
- Hate what is evil.
- Cling to what is good.
- Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
- Honor one another above yourselves.
- Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
- Be joyful in love, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
- Share with God’s people who are in need.
- Practise hospitality.
- Bless those who persecute you.
- Rejoice with those who rejoice.
- Mourn with those who mourn.
- Live in harmony with one another.
- Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.
- Do not be conceited.
Live at Peace with everybody (Romans 12: 17 – 21)
- Do not pay anyone evil for evil.
- Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
- If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
- Do not take revenge, but leave room for God’s wrath.
- If your enemy is hungry, feed him.
- If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
- Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
What may we do for God in Government?
Submission to the Authorities (Romans 13: 1 – 14)
A Christian is also a citizen of his or her own country. He or she owns a duty to his or her governing authorities, “for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God” (Romans 13: 1)
- Pay taxes to the authorities.
- Give everyone what you own him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
- Do not commit adultery.
- Do not murder.
- Do not steal.
- Do not covet.
- Love your neighbor as yourself. (Love is the fulfillment of the law.)
- Put aside the deeds of darkness.
- Put on the armor of light.
- Behave decently… not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.
- Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Questionable things (Romans 14: 1 – 22)
Different races would have different cultural backgrounds, different ways of life and, therefore, would have different depth of faith. Some people, whose faith is weak, may only eat vegetables. But we should not judge them for God has accepted them.
- Accept him whose faith is weak.
- The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not.
- The man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does.
- None of us lives to himself alone. (If we live, we live to the Lord.)
- None of us dies to himself alone. (If we die, we die to the Lord.)
- Stop passing judgment on one another. (All will stand before God’s judgment. And confess to Him.)
- Not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.
- If anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. (This is lack of faith because no food is unclean in itself.)
- If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
- Make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
- It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.
5 HOW TO GLORIFY GOD? – PRAY TO GOD FOR A
SPIRIT OF UNITY AMONG CHRISTIANS
Conclusions (Romans 15 – 16)
How to glorify God?
- Those who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak.(Romans 15: 1.).
- Christians ought to please their neighbors for their good. To build them up. (Romans 15:2). For even Christ did not please himself. . . (Romans:15 3)
- Christians ought to accept one another, just as Christ accepted us. (Romans 15:7).
- Pray to God for a spirit of unity among ourselves so that we can glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.(Romans 15: 5 – 6)
Romans 15: 8 – 13
Jesus said that He was sent to the lost sheep of Israel. (Mathew 15: 24). Jesus had become a servant of the Jews “to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs” (Romans 15:8). Because of the mercy of God, the Gentiles were also saved. Paul quoted from the Old Testament to testify that God from the very beginning has included in His plan the salvation of the Gentiles. Reference can be made to (Romans 15: 9 – 12; Samuel 22:50; Psalm 18:49; Deuteronomy 32:43; Psalm 117:1 and Isaiah 11:10).
Romans 15: 13
Paul said his prayer
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
How precious is the truth that by our faith in Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit will bestow us with joy, peace and hope!
Romans 15: 14 – 33
Purpose of Writing:
Paul explained that he had written to the Christians in Rome quite boldly on some points as if to remind them again. Paul knew pretty well that they were full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. (Romans 15: 14 – 15).
Paul planned to visit Spain and wished to pass through Rome. (Romans 15: 22 – 29) For many years Paul was hindered to pay a visit to Rome because he was called
“to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15.16).
From Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum , Paul had proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
Romans 16: 1 – 16
In here Paul sent his greetings to many brothers and sisters and their names were mentioned. Some may think that these names and greetings are just a formality to conclude a letter, but it is not so in the records of a Bible for there are spiritual lessons to learn behind each name and in there service to God. Apart from commending sister Phoebe who served in the church in Cenchrea and had been a great help to many people and to Paul himself, more than 20 odd names were mentioned. Let’s see what we can learn from this list.
- One third of the names were sisters in Christ. This may represent the excellent stand of women in the church in Rome. The service in our Lord is always glorified as a gift from God irrespective of sex. This ought to be recognized today in our church.
- Paul greeted the church that met at their house. Do we today also meet at believers’ home in fellowship? Cell groups and fellowship meetings at home may provide a more friendly environment for non-believers to cultivate godly life by the study of the Bible and prayers.
- Some brothers and sisters even risked their lives for Paul and for the churches of the Gentiles in serving God and they suffered in prison because of their faith in God. Therefore, there shouldn’t be any surprise for those who, serving God in this world, have met with persecution or sufferings. But we believe the truth; “he who believes has everlasting life” (John 6: 47).
Romans 16: 17 – 27
Paul in his conclusion of his letter urged his brothers to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. (Romans 16: 17)
- Watch out for them. (For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites.).
- Keep away from them. (By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people.).
- To be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet (Romans 16:20).
The Bible says:
. . . The devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown . . . (Revelation 20: 10).
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21: 1 – 4).
SUMMARY OF ROMANS CHAPTERS 1 –16
Paul had 13 epistles collected in the New Testament.
- God called Paul and he claimed the gospel he preached was revealed to him from Jesus Christ – not from any man.
- Born in Tarus, Cilicia, of pure Jewish stock, as a Roman citizen, student of Gamaliel, received Greek education and Hebrew religion, persecuted the Christians before his conversion.
- Head-on collision with Jesus Christ near Demascus.
- Beheaded at Rome about 66-67 A.D.
God’s Righteousness – Though faith we are justified by the blood of Jesus Christ
In the year of Nero (Emperor of Rome), Paul sent his letter to Rome from the home of Galus (a wealthy Corithian Christian.)
- Paul was a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.
- The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.
- God’s wrath was against mankind for the sinfulness had reached its peak inRome.
- God does not show favoritism – anything falling short of His glory is sin against our God.
- People are justified by the grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood.
- Rejoice on the hope of the glory of God. Rejoice on our suffering, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
How to live a Christian life? How to abandon to God?
- We baptized into Christ Jesus, were baptized into His death. Since Christ was raised from death through the glory of God, we too may live a new life.
- Christians must have a surrendered life – have become slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.
- Only we remaining in Christ, he in us, we will bear much fruit. God will give life to our mortal bodies through His Spirit, who live in us.
- Then we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.
- Nothing could separate us from the love of Christ. The Christian is safe.
- Righteousness will only come from God through faith, but the Jews didn’t seem to understand this, and pursued a law of righteousness, not by faith; but as if it were by works.
- Because of God’s grace and His promise to Abraham, Israel will not fall beyond recovery. The deliverer will come from Zion.
How to Glorify God? – Pray to God for a spirit of unity among Christians
- What may we do for God in Church?
- “Living sacrifices”
- One body – different functions, each belongs to all the others.
- Different gifts according to the grace given.
- Have brotherly love, sincerity, no hatred, cling to good, honor one another, joyful, patient, peaceful, share with God’s people, etc., etc.
- Live in peace, take no revenge, feed your enemies etc., etc.
- What we may do for God in Government?
- Submit to the Authorities.
- Pay Taxes.
- Love your neighbor.
- Behave decently etc., etc.
- Live for the Lord.
- Die for the Lord.
- Stop passing judgment on one another etc., etc.
- How to glorify God?
- Bear with the weak.
- Please their neighbor.
- Accept one another.
- Pray for spirit of unity.
- By faith in Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit will bestow us with joy, peace and hope.
- Purpose of writing – Paul reminded the church in Rome on some points and wanted to visit Spain via Rome to get support.
- Personal greetings and spiritual lessons:
- One-third women mentioned in the greeting list served God.
- People and church met at their house.
- Brothers and sisters had risked their lives in serving God.
- Warnings at conclusion:
- Watch out for division and contrary teaching.
- Keep away from them.
- To be wise what is good, innocent. . .
- God will soon crush Satan, which will be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur.
- The dwelling of God will be with men and be their God.
QUESTIONS on ROMANS (1 – 5)
- Introduction – Paul’s Epistles Paul’s Conversion
- To which churches had Paul sent his epistles?
- How important, in your opinion, is Paul’s contribution in the teaching of Christianity?
- Name the four epistles Paul sent out to the churches when he was in prison in Rome.
- Paul declared that the gospel he preached was not man made up, but from Jesus Christ. Why?
- What do you know about Paul before he was converted?
- Describe briefly Paul’s background and his education. How miraculously had he been converted?
- When did Paul pass away and where was he buried?
- God’s Righteousness – Though Faith we are justified by The Blood of Jesus Christ–Chapter 1 -5
- When and from where did Paul write this epistle to the Romans?
- What was Paul’s teaching in a nutshell? Explain. (1: 16 –17)
- What were the possible reasons for Paul to write this letter to the Romans?
- Why some people does not have peace in their hearts?
- What do you understand by the word “sin”?
- Why Paul said “no one is righteous”? What will be the only way out to righteousness?
- How was Abraham justified?
- Do you know as a Christian whether you have received “eternal life” by Jesus Christ? What are your reasons?
- Do you think you’re still a sinner “in Adam” or you’re a son “in Christ”? Explain.
- What could we gain from sufferings?
- How to live a Christian life? How to abandon to God?
Chapters 5 -11
- How should we live a Christian life?
- What was your life experience falling right within Paul’s mind-frame: “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”
- What do you learn from the parable of “the true vine”?
- How can we step out of the self-life into the Spirit-filled life?
- How can you be sure you’re safe as children of God?
- Who according to Paul are the descendants of Abraham?
- Why did Paul say, “Christ is the end of the law”?
- What do you understand by the metaphor: “the wild olive shoot”?
- What evidence can be found with reference to the Bible that all Israel will be saved?
- How to serve God? – Christ wants a “Living Sacrifice” – not a Dead One
Chapters 12 – 14
- What do you understand by a “living sacrifice”?
- What may we do for God in church?
- How do we adapt ourselves to others’ different ways of life in Christ?
- How to glorify God? –Pray to God for a spirit of unity among Christians
Chapters 15 – 16
- How can we glorify God?
- What spiritual lessons can we learn from Paul’s personal greetings?
- How did Paul caution us to be aware of those who may teach contrary to the truth?
. . . end . . .