Romans 15 & 16
So last week we discussed those who are weak and strong in the faith; those who needed more rules and regulations to stand and those that simply needed Christ.
Here, Paul begins to close his letter to the Romans thru a series of triune exhortations to live the example of Christ and finally closes with a series of personal encouragement to his brothers in the faith.
I\’ve discussed building your brother, or neighbor, previously; but what are we to build them up to? What is the goal of our building?
Here, Paul emphasizes self-sacrifice in building or strengthening, his brother. The goal of our building is to forge our brother to be increasingly holy, or more fruitful in their Christian walk.
Whom did Christ please if not Himself?
God. We, following the model, are to do likewise.
Here, Paul quotes Psalm 69:9 to teach us by showing us that the insults that men throw on to Christ were ultimately towards God. Likewise with us in our work for the kingdom; do not be surprised when men insult and hate you for you are of God. Knowing that these insults are to God this helps us endure in our faith because we know that is not one who is slow to repay and take vengeance for His people.
Where in Scripture do you find encouragement or hope?
Our first, last and only hope are found in the word of God; and not the world or our own strength. The word not only shows us how to endure, by example, and it also aids in the process.
What are some words that you would use to describe what modern church is like?
What are some words that you would use to describe what the Church should be like?
According to Paul, the Chruch is to be a place of unity, encouragement, and endurance in the faith; both with those weak and strong, Jew and Gentile, easy and hard to love for the purpose of glorifying God with one voice (as Paul states in 15:6).
I asked last week what you were most excited to see in Heaven. One answer for your consideration is this: That you will never be alone again for all eternity. There will be no more sin and suffering, you will always have friends in Heaven to go and communion with and sing with for eternity.
Paul is exhorting us to have unity both real, in our mind, and apparent, in our voice; or perhaps to be sincerely unified in the faith. This is not to please ourselves or to go along to get along, but to glorify God. If one cannot honor God with their brother, due to false doctrine or bad practice, then you are free to leave your kin and find a new community.
What is your chief goal in life?
What should be your chief goal in life?
To quote the Westminster catechism, \”What is the chief and highest end of man? A: Man\’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy Him forever.\” (Westminster, 1).
Or, as Paul says, to glorify God. Particularly in God\’s our household, the Chruch. If the perfect, sinless Son of God was willing to bring sinners into God\’s family, how much more should forgiven believers be willing to warmly embrace and accept each other in spite of their disagreements.
All this explains 15:7.
To show that God\’s plan has always been to bring Jew and Gentile alike into His kingdom and to soften the prejudice of Christian Jews against their Gentile brothers, Paul quotes from the Law, Prophets, and Psalms proving God\’s plan from their own scriptures.
When you have you ever, doubted God? If so, what did you do about it?
Here, Paul is telling us that Christ died to confirm the promises of God; perhaps the chief promise being mercy.
Christ died, taking on the wrath of God for our sin so that God would be merciful to you; so that God could forever be kind and delight in you as a father delights in his children. When we doubt God, in this case-doubting His mercy/goodness/faithfulness, we must look back at the death of Christ and meditate on all that God was doing for us there; mainly the forgiveness of all our sin against Him and new life with Him forever.
Here we have the third title of God used by Paul in today\’s section. This is one of the triune exhortations I was talking about.
God is the source of eternal hope, life, and salvation. All of that is shown to us by the scriptures thru the power or working, of the Holy Spirit.
Likewise, with me, brothers, for I am most satisfied in you all.
In what way can you instruct your brothers?
(Instruct, or admonish, encourage, warn or advise).
Like I said last week, this is your homework; think on them hard.
By the grace given to me, I am to remind you all of some points, I just need to know what those points are.
Who is Paul a servant of?
On reminders, here\’s one for you Sara and Jacob: When you teach you do so not toward us but to God first and foremost. THEN the people of God. Your teaching is worship.
Paul uses this term to mean minister; he is borrowing language that the Jews would know and applying it to their current situation.
I myself am in a likewise situation; I am indeed proud of my work for God in yall.
Now, the question is, how do I be proud without pride?
Pride is glory in yourself.
Proudness is personal honor, or humility, in recognizing that God has and is working thru you and being grateful for it.
What was Paul\’s goal in his mission toward Gentiles?
Obedience; thru his words and actions, and signs and wonders by Holy Spirit.
How does one bring anyone to faith?
Thru God; not ourselves. Focus on God, submit yourself to His will, pray for the heathen, and love them. And, should it be the will of God, they will be saved. God loves Himself and His glory above and before anything or anyone, and He is most glorified in saving the lost. Thus, people will be saved the question is: will you be a willing, submissive, obedient vessel for Him to do you? That part is your responsibility; the salvation itself is God\’s part; therefore, rest-you responsible child of God-and let God work through you.
Jacob, what is the focus of your (youth) ministry?
Gospel of Christ; let no one tell you otherwise. Your ministry, if it is to be any true ministry of God, MUST be a Gospel ministry; from that, the power/working of the Spirit will come. The foundation and the essence of our useful ministry is the Gospel. The truth of the Gospel is more powerful than you\’ll ever be. If your ministry is set up on you the moment you fail as does your ministry. If it is founded on the Gospel then it doesn\’t matter how imperfect you may be; for the Gospel is power alone to save, not you.
I\’m building on Chris\’ foundation. Is this wrong?
No. Paul was a missionary first and foremost. If Christ had already been named in that area then he was not needed there and had work to do elsewhere; in the work of ministry, it is permissible to build on another\’s foundation.
Paul speaks of Gentiles, us, here.
Do you feel you understand the gospel/the faith? Is there anything your struggling to understand about the faith right now? If so, how can we help?
Do you enjoy the company of other believers?
For this is one of the marks of true faith; that they seek and enjoy a brother\’s company. If you always prefer the company of heathen over your own family; then please take some time and reflect on wheater or not you are a part of the family at all.
One of the first \”oughts\” from Paul.
Who are some ppl that have blessed you spiritually? Is there a way to aid them physically/spiritually?
\”fullness of blessing\” Meaning what?
You heard a lot of the love of God but not so much of the love of the Spirit. This is because it is the only time in scripture that this phrase appears.
There are two ways to look at this \”love of the Spirit\” here.
Being the love of the Spirit toward you
The other being the love of the Elect/Church toward the Spirit
We can hold both views simultaneously. We will discuss both here.
What are some ways the Spirit loves us? (Hint: Think of what the Spirit does in our lives and how we are grateful, or love, in response).
The Spirit drew us to God and continues to do so; that alone is enough for us to love Him for. He also continually adds to our numbers; again, adding more family to us is more than enough for us to love Him for. He also forges in the heat of trials and afflictions, valleys and mountain tops, into the blessed image of our Savior; more than enough to love Him forever.
Thus, we love Him because He showed His love for us when He drew us to God when He is drawing others and is conforming us into the likeness of Christ.
Also, note how Paul appeals to God and not his authority; we will explore Paul\’s use of authority more in January.
We see some things that the Romans prayed for Paul. What sort of things should we pray for our missionaries?
Blessing of God, the love of God, the truth of God, and the encouragement of God.
After time in the company of believers, in fellowship, we should be joyous and refreshing.
Do y\’all feel this after the Lord\’s day/our studies?
If not, why do you think that is/what is stopping, or destroying, your joy?
What does it mean to have the \”God of peace\” be with us?
It means we are of God. If we have peace with God, it means that we aren\’t at war/in rebellion against Him; thus He is with us all always. The God of peace offers His peace to all through Jesus Christ; never hesitate to run to Him for peace with Him; He delights in forgiving His children and delights all the more in bringing in new children.
This chapter, which has almost no explicit teaching and contains several lists of mostly unknown people is the most extensive and intimate expression of Paul\’s love and affection for other believers and co-workers found anywhere in his NT letters. It also provides insights into the lives of ordinary first-century Christians and gives an inside look at the nature and character.
For this chapter, we will mainly look at the character of the early church and not its members so much. If you wish for more info on the members mentioned here your study bibles should be able to point you in the right direction.
Phoebe was defined as a servant of the church. What does that mean?
She was a care-giver or faithful steward for the Church body. In the early church, women servants cared for sick believers, the poor and those in prison. They instructed women and children (Titus 2:3-5). Whether Phoebe had an official title or not, she had great responsibilities, and likely was the carrier of this letter to Roman.
Paul mentions her home church, Cenchreae. Given its geographical proximity to Corinth, it is likely that her church was planted by the church at Corinth.
For those of you that have read the Corinthian letters; on a scale of 1-10 how screwed up was the church at Corinthian?
Probably a 10; they were pretty screwed up.
Paul also rebuked the church at Corinth for sexual immortality and false doctrine. If the church at Cenchreae was indeed a plant of Corinth I think it is fair to conclude that her church could have inherited the same issues as Corinth. Or if they didn\’t then they were incredibly strong in the faith. Given all this, it is possible to conclude that Phoebe was a woman of great holiness and power and purity in the early church.
Let Phoebe be a great example to us all.
Why do you think Prisca and Aquila were willing to risk their necks for Paul?
Ultimately it is because they loved him; he was their brother; that\’s what families do-love.
Is there any way that we can better love, or pray for you this week?
Why did they meet in houses?
That was all that they had. This is radically different from our age where churches are common and in plain view of the world. The early church did not have that luxury.
\”Mary\” probably a different Mary than one we\’ve encountered before.
In what way does someone \”work hard\” for the church? What kind of labor would they be doing?
The Greek here suggests work to exhaustion. The context suggests that she may have been some sort of teacher at the church in Roman since its foundation. No doubt she played a fundamental role in its spiritual growth.
\”Andronicus and Junia\” Junia can be a woman\’s name. If that is the case here it is very likely that this was a married couple. Our study will operate under the assumption that this is indeed so.
What sort of marriage can endure imprisonment?
One whose focus is on God
One whose goal is growth in God
And one who\’s foundation is the gospel of God.
The married couple should be lead by the husband in leading his family to the Lord; this includes active (conscience listening/studying) church attendance, church practice in the home (leading \”family devotions\”, prayer and reading of the word) and the wife serving the household in its needs. In this, both people modeling the gospel in service in their own home and can survive and thrive in everything from your little fella getting bad poison ivy to life imprisonment for the Gospel.
Jacob, what are your thoughts on the phrase \”chosen in the Lord\”? Do you think that Paul is referring back to Romans 8 and 9? Or that Rufus was merely chosen for some church office/duty?
This verse could be several things:
Rufus was elected to salvation by God. This interpretation fits with Paul\’s theology but doesn\’t make complete sense in context. Though the same word for \”chosen\” here is the same one commonly translated \”elect\” IE \”Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short\” (Matthew 24:22) and \”Who will bring a charge against God\’s elect? God is the one who justifies…\” (Romans 8:33).
It is possible that Paul is referring to Rufus being chosen to some church office; the surrounding context could support this interpretation.
Or \”chosen\” may reflect the unique circumstances that brought his family into contact with Christ. Simeon of Cyrene, whom soldiers compelled to carry Jesus\’ crossbeam to the place of execution, had 2 sons-Alexander and Rufus, who are presumably known to Mark\’s readers.
Any of these views are biblically and theologically justifiable; take any view you wish. But my point for this rabbit hole is this: enjoy the scriptures and wonder at God in even the smallest of details. Similar to a painter detailing his landscape painting God does likewise in His creations, nature, you all, and the breathed-out word. You are to spend the rest of your days in awe and wonder at every detail God has put into your story and the story. As you do this, you may think that you are mastering the word; this is not so, indeed it is actually mastering you.
Why does Paul encourage us to \”greet…with a holy kiss\”? What\’s the point there?
I think Paul is making several points here:
Christians should feel true, tender affection for one another
They should seek to grow in that love for one another
Out for opportunities to prove/show your love for one another physically.
Include God in your affections and in your greetings.
Use cultural signs of greeting to love/edify your brothers.
What are some ways that you can apply the \”holy kiss\”? What are some ways you can show your love to the Church?
-Hugs: Embrace one another; open up and become vulnerable with one another and then join in unity- and in that unity, there is the protection of the vitals. Literally, become one unit-show your unity in Christ and refuge in the Church to the world
-Handshakes: show your unity in the work that you do. Hands are our ability to \”do\”. So we open up/become vulnerable, strengthen each other and join forces in our work.
-Fist bumps: Usually if I\’m moving my closed fist at you I\’m ready to do violence to you. But instead, I yield all my power to you, you yield all your power to me and we come together with outstretched arms (again vulnerable), connect and cancel each other\’s violence, or put it in a positive light, we make peace with one another.
One quick note on cultural context:
Kissing a friend on the forehead, cheek, or beard was common in the OT. The Jews in the NT church carried on the practice, and it became specially precious to new believers, who were often outcasts from their own families because of their faith, because of the spiritual kinship it signified.
Blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.
How does one watch out for \”divider\”?
Active membership in the church, and church events and involvement in church life.
And what sort of things have you been taught?
Gospel, salvation, the holiness of God, etc.
And what are you to do when you encounter those who contradict these teachings?
How do you more learned, mature in the faith protect you younger, naive brother?
Continue to teach and remind them of true doctrine. But will and able to rebuke them if necessary. Pray for them often.
Youth, how do you defend yourself from these wolves?
Stay in close community with the mature; we are charged with your protection, we dishonor God and do violence to you if you try and be a lone wolf.
In this whole list we have:
-Servant of the church (16:1)
-Hard workers (16:3, 6, 9, 12)
-Beloved of Christ (16:8)
-Approved of in Christ (16:10)
-Good steward (16:23)
The letter concludes with a beautiful doxology that praises God for His work through Christ and also summarizes Romans and shows us the head and heart of Paul.
In what way does God strengthen us through the Gospel?
By the example of Christ and by the power of Christ
We know the story of Christ but we also have the power of Christ indwelt in us in the Spirit.
It was through the Father that the Gospel was ultimately revealed, therefore, He deserves all the credit, praise and worship.
And before I close us in prayer, if yall could please summarize Paul\’s message in Romans as well as any particular favorite verse or chapters, or testimonies.