The Book of Romans Paul

The Beginning —– part 2
Romans 15: 14-19 (NRSV)

Then in verse 17 Paul delivers his theme for the rest of the letter.

14 I myself feel confident about you, my brothers and sisters,* that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another.
15 Nevertheless, on some points I have written to you rather boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God
16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast of my work for God.
18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished* through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed,
19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God,* so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news* of Christ.

The most brilliant theological essay is complete, and Paul has returned to the reader to explain his motive in writing, but now Paul has their attention and hopefully their appreciation. And in chapters 12-14, Paul spoke of righteousness lived out in the life of a Christian, so now Paul says as far as you are concern, I am convinced you are full of goodness, meaning moral perfection.

In verse 15 Paul returns to his defense for waiting so long to write and come to them. Paul’s only mission was first and foremost an apostle to Gentiles and he must focus on Gentile conversion. The tremendous Gentile conversion and acceptance of the gospel stood as a testimony of God’s work through Paul. Paul preached the gospel.

Romans 15: 20-25

20 Thus I make it my ambition to proclaim the good news,* not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on someone else’s foundation,
21 but as it is written, ‘Those who have never been told of him shall see, and those who have never heard of him shall understand.’
22 This is the reason that I have so often been hindered from coming to you.
23 But now, with no further place for me in these regions, I desire, as I have for many years, to come to you
24 when I go to Spain. For I do hope to see you on my journey and to be sent on by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a little while.
25 At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem in a ministry to the saints;

Paul’s goal was to preach the gospel where it wasn’t, not where it was already. It was done so that the scripture be fulfilled that the Gentiles would hear and believe the gospel (Isaiah 52). But now the region has been covered and it is time to move on, so now Paul can go to them. Now Paul tells them that he is coming to see them on his way to Spain, plus he needs their help to fund his work in Spain. But before he sees them he needs to go back to Jerusalem one last time. And Paul say why….

Romans 15: 26-33

26 for Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to share their resources with the poor among the saints at Jerusalem.
27 They were pleased to do this, and indeed they owe it to them; for if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material things.
28 So, when I have completed this, and have delivered to them what has been collected,* I will set out by way of you to Spain;
29 and I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing* of Christ.
30 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,* by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in earnest prayer to God on my behalf,
31 that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my ministry* to Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints,
32 so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.
33 The God of peace be with all of you.* Amen.

Paul has a donation for the poor Jerusalem church from the wealthy Gentile churches in Asia Minor. After finishing his work in Jerusalem, Paul will be going to Spain and will come to the Roman church first. Paul ask them to pray for his work in Jerusalem for the disobedient. Interesting — believing Jews saw unbelieving Jews as disobedient.

Paul’s purpose in writing this letter was to establish a new base in Rome for spreading the gospel to a new region of Gentiles. And he is asking their help for his mission.

May the Peace of Jesus Christ be with You

The Book of Romans Paul

The beginning
Romans 1: 1-7 (NRSV)
1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures,
3 the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh
4 and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,
5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name,
6 including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
7 To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul’s salutation to the Romans is very similar to many other letters. Paul first identifies who he is, that he serves the Lord with joy and personal commitment. He also defends his authority to teach and that he was called to be an apostle and set apart to preach the Gospel. The Roman church, the Jewish believers probably remember turmoil that a man called Saul committed against the church in Jerusalem. Paul let them know that God took him off that path and set him on this new mission of life, a mission he felt obligated to pursue.

Then Paul describes what his mission was, and that is the gospel, through the prophets in the Scriptures concerning Jesus, the descendant of David by the flesh. And yet Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power over the resurrection of the dead by the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ the Lord. This is Paul’s mission to spread the good news. The beginning of Paul’s letter appeals to the Jewish believers.

In verse 5 Paul begins to make a path between the wounded pride of the Roman church and himself. Paul tells them that through Jesus, we have received grace and apostleship, meaning that the Jewish church shares a common mission of apostleship. And together they have received grace, the opportunity of sharing the gospel message to others, mainly the Gentiles. Paul suggest a common mission with the Jewish church, to bring about the obedience of faith to the Gentiles for Jesus sake.

Paul says to the Jewish church that he is writing to glorify the grace of God to them. In this salutation Paul knows that he needs to repair damage and he needs to win them over. Paul begins to appeal to their pride, at least for the moment, and he appeals to their sense of superiority as Jewish believers. Paul is carefully bring them to his side by describing to them as sharing in his mission. Paul plays to their pride, their feeling of superiority that they are above the rest of the church.

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world.
9 For God, whom I serve with my spirit by announcing the gospel of his Son, is my witness that without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers,
10 asking that by God’s will I may somehow at last succeed in coming to you.
11 For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—
12 or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
13 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as I have among the rest of the Gentiles.
14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish
15 — hence my eagerness to proclaim the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Paul continues the charm in verse 8, though his words are completely sincere and honest. Paul thanks the Lord for this church, because their faith is well known through out the Empire. The Jewish church was rich, it was wise and very knowledgeable group of believers, it was a large group and they were still growing; and yet they weren’t known for their money, knowledge or size. This church was known for there faith, their strong belief in the gospel. Paul let them know that he holds them up as an example to the other churches. That Paul thinks highly of them and their work for the sake of the gospel.

Paul says his prayers are to be able to grace them with his presence and offer a spiritual gift. This does not mean he’s giving gifts, but rather a spiritual benefit or gift to the church that they would be a source of help to him in establishing and maintaining other churches. Paul continues to place his ministry on equal terms with the Roman church. Paul in verse 13 saying, I really want you to know that I want to come bear spiritual fruit with you – even as I have within the Gentile church, but he has been prevented from coming. And what or whom would prevent Paul from coming to them? It’s been hinted at or pointed to the Holy Spirit, and why would God prevent Paul from going to the Roman church? Paul does say he has a commitment to Greek and barbarians, to the wise and foolish. Paul tells them he is under authority by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel to these people rather than them, the Roman church. Paul defends his absence by saying he wasn’t ashamed of the gospel and that he’s to bring the gospel to everyone, even the learned Jewish believers. The words of the gospel hold the power to save men. Unless we deliver the gospel of Christ, we do not bring the power of God to save. Paul says the message must go to the Jews first then the Gentiles.

Study Questions on Romans

Chapter 1

1. What does it mean to be a “servant” of Christ?
2. What is the doctrine of “election”? What bearing does 1:1 have on your concept of the doctrine? What bearing does 1:7 have?
3. Is there any evidence in Paul’s writings that he had knowledge of Jesus’ virgin birth?
4. What concept do we think of when we find the Scriptures called “holy”?

5. What “part” of the nature of Christ is spoken of when Paul uses the word “spirit of holiness”?
6. What evidence is adduced to prove that Jesus is the Son of God?
7. What is the significance of the plural word “dead” (1:4)?
8. Explain “obedience of faith.” Give at least two possibilities.
9. What evidence of the deity of Christ is found in chapter 1?
10. If the saints in Rome received what Paul wished for them as in verse 7, what would it mean to them? Just what is the “grace” that God and Christ were to give to them?
11. What is significant in the order “grace” and then “peace”? Can peace come before grace? Why?
12. What ideas about prayer life can we learn from chapter 1?
13. What is included in the “spiritual blessing” which Paul wished to impart to the Romans?
14. Compare and contrast the “Gospel” and the “Law.”
15. What is the “righteousness” of God?
16. List several interpretations of what is meant by the words “from faith unto faith” found in verse 17. Give the strong points and weaknesses of each interpretation. What can be said about Today’s English Version’s translation “faith alone”?
17. Beginning at 1:18, what is the point of Paul’s argument?
18. Where has the “wrath of God” been revealed? Not From where, but where? To say simply “from heaven” will not answer the whole question. If you wanted to show someone the revelation of God’s wrath, where would you look?
19. What is the difference between “ungodliness” and “unrighteousness”?
20. What is meant by “divinity” (v. 20)?
21. What ideas are included in the language “God gave them up”?
22. Where did men get a “true knowledge” of God? (1:28)
23. List the sins –in terminology you understand –that men do when they reject God. Then examine your own life prayerfully in the light of this list.
24. How did “men” know God’s “ordinance”? (1:32)
25. According to chapter 1, why had Paul become an apostle?

Prophets Hosea

Hosea    part 1

Hosea’s message was primarily for the northern kingdom of Israel, but there were times when he referred to the southern kingdom of Judah. Hosea’s prophecy began with Jeroboam II, and continued for the next 40 years until just before Samaria fell to Assyria in 722 B.C. Hosea means “Deliverance”, he was called “Prophet of Divine Love.”

About 200 years before the time of Hosea, the 10 tribes northern Israel had separated from the southern tribes of Judah and set up an independent kingdom. Israel was experiencing the greatest time of peace and prosperity since the separation when Hosea arrived on the scene. But the good times weren’t to last with the rise of social injustice, political disorder, and social moral decay.

Hosea was prepared for his work through the lessons which he learned from the sins of his unfaithful wife. Through the suffering which he encountered because of her sins, he understood how God was grieved at the wickedness of Israel and how her sins were not only against God’s law but an disgrace to divine love. In love and at great cost he restored his wayward wife and in that act saw hope of the restoration and forgiveness of Israel.

Hosea main theme of the prophecy is God’s mercy to a sinful Israel. Israel, is described as an unfaithful wife. Israel will come to God who will show mercy and compassion. This is also a theme of judgement that runs throughout the book.

Wealth and prosperity subdue the people of Israel into a false sense of security.
1. Which took them in a direction away from God and into a national decline and decay which was worsened by a self assured spiritual attitudes, including a rejection of God’s law,
2.  the pursuit of materialism as a dominant way of life,
3.  dependence on international alliances which demonstrates a lack of faith and trust in God,
4. moral corruption of the priests leading people way from God and His ways.
5. Worship of idols in Bethel (calf worship).
6. Hard-hearted they refuse to listen and respond to repeated warnings of doom.

These conditions and other factors led Israel into captivity and cruel bondage by the Assyrians.

Hosea used many metaphors to describe the relationship between Israel and God.
Chs 1-3 – the nation is an unfaithful wife
4:16; 10:11 – a stubborn heifer
6:4; 13:3 – evaporating dew and dwindling mist and smoke.
7: 3-7 – a hot oven
7: 8 – a burned cake
7: 11; 11: 11 – a silly dove
8: 7 – a foolish farmer
8: 8 – a useless vessel
8: 9 – a stray donkey
9:10, 16 – a worthless fruit tree
10: 1 – a bad vine
10: 7 – a hapless twig
11: 1-4 – a disobedient child.

Then there were the metaphors that were used to describe how God deals with His people. In matters of judgment He is referred to as:
5: 12 a moth that will eat away at the nation
5: 14-15; 13: 8 a wild animal that devours
7: 12 a hunter that traps wild birds
11: 4 a farmer who yokes Israel like an Ox.

Yet the God of mercy is also described as:
Chs 2-3 a forgiving husband
11: 1-4; 14: 3 a loving parent
14: 4 a healing physician
14: 5 a fresh dew.

These metaphors were meant to stir the heart and imagination of God’s people. Some were shocking, by exposing the ugliness and the depth of sin and the straight forward compelling repentance; others comfort and encourage the faithful to trust in the goodness of God and preserve through the coming judgement.

Book of Romans

 

Paul    part 2

Paul has had a very busy life, he has traveled Asia Minor three times, he has founded a multitude of churches and to help them build a strong foundation he needed to revisit them. With these letters to these churches, he pretty much pen the New Testament. The farthest west he got was Greece and he never visited Rome, the powerful Roman church and after all those years of waiting for Paul to visit them, the Roman church was beginning to feel a bit slighted, just plain neglected. As we know the Roman church was Jewish believers in the beginning of the church. So the Roman church came up with all kinds of reasons why Paul neglected them. Some of the suggestions was that Paul favored the Gentiles, that he cared only for the churches that he founded, or maybe he was ashamed of the gospel and was afraid of confrontation with Roman authority, or that the Jewish believers were smarter that he, Paul, was and he would rather deal with the ignorant Gentile converts.

Paul had a challenge on his hands with the Roman church. He was going to visit them but he was going to do it on his terms. His plan was to travel to Rome, but mainly as a stop over on his way to Spain. On top of that he was planning to ask the rich Roman church for money. Paul’s plan was to have the financial support from the Roman church for a new church plant he planned in the western edge of the empire.

So we have Paul writing to the Roman church who is a critical piece of the next missionary focus, and they have a chip on their shoulder and they are holding a major grudge against Paul. What does Paul say to a church that he doesn’t know, and has never visited, and yet he desperately needs them? He would need to write the single greatest theological explanation of righteousness and redemption ever written. He would need to provide this church, which resides at the center of the known world, with a foundational writing on the Christian faith from which the truth can be spread to the world. And while writing all this he will explain his absence and his love for that church —-And in the end he will ask for money.

Before we get into the Book of Romans we will take a quick look at the beginning and the end.

John the Baptist Message and Death

John is a witness to the nature of Christ. As John gathers attention, priest and Levites go to him to see exactly who he is and by what authority he has to preach his message. John is not the Messiah nor the reincarnated Elijah, but he is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, John 1: 19-23.   John declares that he is unworthy to even carry Jesus’ sandals,       Matthew 3: 11, John 1: 27. Reading further John describes Jesus as “the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world,” John1: 29. John was baptizing “for the forgiveness of sins” Mark 1:4. John was hesitant to immerse Jesus when he approached him with the request Matthew 3: 14. Jesus was sinless, a lamb without blemish 1 Peter 1:19.

John, having heard the voice of God, and witnessed the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of the dove, he faithfully witnessed that Jesus “is the Son of God.” John 1:31-34. John preached repentance and the coming kingdom to all who would listen. Even Pharisee and Scribes were being baptized, Matthew 3: 7-8 “fruit worthy of repentance.” Without fruit there is no real repentance, fruit meaning a deep inner conviction. Repentance is more than saying………..”I’m sorry!”

John’s Death

Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, who slaughtered the babies in attempt to eliminate the baby Jesus, was a wicked and arrogant ruler. Herod Antipas had inherited portions of his father’s kingdom in Galilee and in Peraea, west of the Jordan. Herod Antipas was married to the daughter of king Aretas IV, but on a trip to Rome he stopped to visit Philip, his half brother and his wife Herodias, whom he became infatuated with and influenced her to leave Philip, and then Herod Antipas divorced his own wife. It was inevitable that these two, John and Herod, would clash. John who denounced sin and Herod who entered into an unlawful relationship. But on the other hand, Herod was some what interested in John’s message. Herod knew that John was a holy man, in away he feared John. But also he was afraid that John would gain so much popularity that he would start a revolt. Mark 6:20 indicates that Herod liked listening to John preach.
Herod’s wife, Herodias, did not like John and she talked Herod into putting John into prison.

Herod’s birthday set the opportunity for getting rid of John. Herodias sacrificed the virtue of her daughter, Salome, but she may have been as bad as her mother. Salome danced and Herod was well pleased! He offered her anything up to half of his kingdom. But she consulted with her mother, and the request was “Give me the head of John the Baptizer on a platter” Mark 6: 25. Herod wasn’t happy about this situation, and he lacked the backbone to deny the request.

John’s brief life ended on this earth, but what an impact he made.