The Doxology of Romans, Glorify God (Romans 16:25-27)

The Doxology of Romans, Glorify God (Romans 16:25-27)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Saturday, November 27 and Sunday, November 28, 2021

When Rebecca Pippert was an agnostic, she had one question she continually wrestled with: How can finite limited human beings ever claim to know God? How do they know they are not being deceived?

Pippert writes:

One sunny day I was stretched out on the lawn … when I noticed that some ants were busy building a mound. I began to redirect their steps with twigs and leaves. But they simply bounced off and started a new ant mound. I thought, This is like being God! I am redirecting their steps, and they don’t even realize it!

At one point, two ants crawled onto my hands and I thought, Wouldn’t it be funny if one ant turned to the others and said, “Do you believe in Becky? Do you believe Becky really exists?” I imagine the other ant answering, “Don’t be ridiculous! Becky is a myth, a fairy tale!” How comical, I thought–the hubris of that ant declaring that I don’t exist, when I could easily blow it off my hand. But what if the other ant said, “Oh, I believe that Becky exists!” How would they resolve it? How could they know that I am real? I thought. What would I have to do to reveal to them who I am?

Suddenly I realized: the only way to reveal who I am, in a way that they could understand, would be to become an ant myself. I would have to identify totally with their sphere of reality. I sat upright, and I remember thinking, What an amazing thought! The scaling-down of the size of me to perfectly represent who I am in the form of an ant! I know; I would have to do tricks! Things that no other ant could do!

Then it hit me: I had just solved my problem of how finite creatures could ever discover God. God would have to come from the outside and reveal who he is.[1]

My theme today is:

Paul closes Romans with a sentence worshipping God.

  1. Glory to the only wise God
    1. Now, we finally come to the conclusion of Romans. Paul is going to conclude with a beautiful doxology. A doxology a liturgical formula of praise to God. It comes from the mid 17th century: via medieval Latin from Greek doxologia, from doxa ‘appearance, glory’ (from dokein ‘seem’) + -logia (see -logy). Logy has to do with a subject of speech or interest. So, doxology means glory word.
    2. This doxology rehashes some of the themes of Romans. It is even similar to his introduction showing how well thought out the epistle of Romans was.
    3. The final three verses of Romans (one sentence in Greek) form a doxology that is liturgical in character.85
    4. Look at verse 25-27: 25Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
    5. Paul begins with, “now,” or “and” which is just moving the thought forward.
    6. To Him…
    7. By context we know that he is writing about God, the Father.
    8. To Him Who is able…
    9. Do you know we could have a sermon on just that phrase? We could have a whole sermon on the idea that God is able. But Paul does get more specific.
    10. Paul says, “strengthen you.” To Him Who is able to strengthen you.
    11. God is able to strengthen you… but how?
    12. “according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ…”
    13. This does not mean that the Gospel is literally Paul’s. No, Paul just had a stewardship in preaching the gospel.
    14. God is able to strengthen you by the Gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ.
    15. I think that is what this is about and he is going to expand on it.
    16. Paul continues: “according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages…” God is able to strengthen you according to the gospel and the revelation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, what is that mystery? In the Bible a mystery was something that had not been revealed but now was revealed. So, in this case the mystery is how Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again. Further, I think this mystery is about how God planned to bring all nations together.
    17. Paul says this mystery was kept secret for long ages but now has been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—
    18. Remember all those Old Testament passages that Paul has been referencing? Paul has been using all of these Old Testament passages in order to show how the Old Testament prophesied about the gentiles believing. The mystery was kept secret, but now is revealed.
    19. “Mystery” is a common idea in Paul’s writings: Matt 13:35; Rom 11:25; 1 Cor 2:1, 7; 4:1; Eph 1:9; 3:3, 9; 6:19; Col 1:26f; 2:2; 4:3; 1 Tim 3:16[2]
    20. Paul used the prophetic writings to reveal this mystery. This mystery was revealed to the nations, in other words to the gentiles. The mystery is about salvation by faith alone, in Christ alone, and the salvation is for Jew and gentile.
    21. Romans 1:1-5 is about the mystery of the Gospel, Jesus risen from the dead.
    22. In mentioning the obedience of faith, Paul concludes his letter where he began (1:5).[3]
    23. This came about according to the command of the eternal God.
    24. This is a theological statement.
    25. The eternal God, God is eternal. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is outside of time (Colossians 1:17; Revelation 1:8; 21:6; and 22:13).
    26. This mystery is according to the command of the eternal God and what is the purpose? To bring about the obedience of faith. God wants Jews and gentiles to believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior to have faith in Him.
    27. The Holman Christian Standard Bible is really good here: but now revealed and made known through the prophetic Scriptures, according to the command of the eternal God to advance the obedience of faith among all nations—
    28. One source: When Paul began this letter, he explained that he had received grace and apostleship ‘to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith’ (1:5). Towards the end of the letter he says that he won’t boast except of what Christ has accomplished through him ‘in leading the Gentiles to obey God’ (15:18), and in 16:19 he tells his audience that he rejoices because ‘everyone has heard about your obedience’. The mystery that has been revealed clearly now is that Gentiles as well as Jews should come to ‘the obedience that comes from faith’. What Paul means by ‘the obedience that comes from faith’ is primarily the obedience that consists in faith in the gospel.[4]
    29. Verse 27: is a powerful statement.
    30. To the only wise God…
    31. As the only God, He is the God of both Jews and Gentiles (cf. 3:29–30).[5]
    32. God is wise.
    33. Romans teaches that God is wise. Romans 11:28 and the following verses: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
    34. Romans 11:34: Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    35. God is wise.
    36. To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ, amen.
    37. Give glory to God. That statement gives glory to God, because the statement itself says that He is the only wise God.
  2. applications
    1. We must recognize that God is able.
    2. God is able to save us.
    3. God is able to take care of our needs.
    4. God is able to strengthen us.
    5. God is able to strengthen you by the Gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ.
    6. We must trust God.
    7. God has revealed Himself and His way of salvation to us.
    8. We must worship God.
    9. He is the only God.
    10. He is wise.
    11. He deserves glory.

God is powerful:

Why do we people in churches seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? …

On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning.

It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.[6]


[1] Source: Rebecca Pippert, Stay Salt: The World has Changed Our Message Must Not, (The Good Book Company, 2020), pp. 39-40

85 Dunn lays out the Greek text in graphic form to show the orderly relationship between clauses (Romans, 2:913).

[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

[3] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1806.

[4] Colin G. Kruse, Paul’s Letter to the Romans, ed. D. A. Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Cambridge, U.K.; Nottingham, England; Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Apollos, 2012), 588–589.

[5] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 16:27.

[6] Source: Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk (Harper Perennial, 1988), p. 52.

Paul’s Personal Greetings and Appreciation of Christian Workers (Romans 16:1-24)

Paul’s Personal Greetings and Appreciation of Christian Workers (Romans 16:1-24)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, November 20 and Sunday, November 21, 2021

The neighborhood bar is possibly the best counterfeit there is to the fellowship Christ wants to give his church. It’s an imitation, dispensing liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality, but it is a permissive, accepting, and inclusive fellowship. It is unshockable. It is democratic. You can tell people secrets and they usually don’t tell others or even want to. The bar flourishes not because most people are alcoholics, but because God has put into the human heart the desire to know and be known, to love and be loved, and so many seek a counterfeit at the price of a few beers.

With all my heart I believe that Christ wants his church to be unshockable, democratic, permissive—a fellowship where people can come in and say, “I’m sunk!” “I’m beat!” “I’ve had it!” Alcoholics Anonymous has this quality. Our churches too often miss it.

—Keith Miller and Bruce Larson, Edge of Adventure[1]

My theme today is:

Paul’s final greetings.

We must be thankful for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

  1. Phoebe (verses 1-2)
    1. So, we are finishing up Romans this week and next week.
    2. Paul has shared deep theology in Romans chapters 1-11.
    3. Paul has shared a lot about Christian living in Romans chapters 14-15.
    4. Now, Paul is giving final greetings.
    5. MacArthur: 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 of the early church.[2]
    6. I have heard some share that Paul cannot say “hello” without declaring the Gospel. We see that in this section as we see some great theology in verse 20.
    7. Thomas Schreiner suggests that the repeated phrases “in Christ” and “in the Lord” throughout Romans 16 demonstrate that Paul’s relationships were “rooted in the new life of Christ.” This makes the greetings of Romans 16 far more than pleasantries — rather, they are concrete expressions of the very gospel about which Paul writes so powerfully earlier in the letter.[3]
    8. Let’s read verses 1-2, Romans 16:1-2: I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.
    9. N. T. Wright points out that we cannot prove it, but it is likely that the one who delivers the letter read the letter. In this case that is Phoebe. This would be a woman giving the public reading of Scripture.
    10. Notice that the ministry of women in the Roman church is quite evident in this chapter. Paul referred to nine prominent women: Phoebe, Prisca, Mary, Tryphena, Thyphosa, Persis, Rufus’ mother, Julia, and Nereus’ sister.[4]
    11. This is really powerful how Paul commends Phoebe and calls her a servant. It could actually be rendered as “deaconess.”
    12. This also tells where she is from “Cenchrea.”
    13. In verse 2 Paul tells them to “welcome” or “receive her,” but receive her “in the Lord.”
    14. Paul wants them to help her in whatever she needs from them.
    15. She has been a patron, or “helper” of many including Paul. Phoebe served as a patron, probably with financial assistance and hospitality.[5]
  2. Other greetings (verses 3-16)
    1. Paul sends greetings to 26 individuals (16:3–16).[6]
    2. Let’s read verses 3-16, Romans 16:3-16: Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
    3. Paul gives quite a list of greetings, with a few additional details.
    4. Prisca and Aquila (2 people): fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their life for Paul. Paul gives thanks to them and all the churches among the gentiles, including the church in their house. 1 Cor 16:19; Col 4:15; Philem 2[7] are all similar.
    5. Prisca is given the diminutive name Priscilla in Acts (Acts 18:2–3, 18, 26).[8]
    6. Epaenetus (total of 3 people now): Paul’s beloved and the first convert in Asia.
    7. Verse 6 mentions Mary (total of 4 people) (This is not the mother of Jesus, but another Mary).
    8. Verse 7: Andronicus and Junia (6 people greeted now). Paul calls them outstanding among the apostles, fellow prisoners and they were in Christ before Him. Junia is a female.
    9. CSB: The word “apostle” can be used in a nontechnical sense, referring to a messenger rather than a commissioned apostle such as Paul.[9]
    10. Verse 8: Ampliatus (7 people greeted), beloved in the Lord. MacArthur: A common name among the emperor’s household slaves at that time; he may have been one of those in “Caesar’s household” (Php 4:22).[10]
    11. Verse 9: Urbanus, fellow worker and Stachys (9 people greeted). Stachys is beloved.
    12. Verse 10: Greet Apelles, approved in Christ… that is a powerful statement. Also, the household of Aristobulus (9 people greeted). Since Paul does not greet him personally, he was probably not a believer, although some relatives and household servants apparently were. One noted biblical scholar believes that he was the brother of Herod Agrippa I and the grandson of Herod the Great.[11]
    13. Verse 11: Herodian, Paul calls him a kinsman. Maybe this means he is Jewish. Household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord (11 people greeted).
    14. Verse 12: Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord; also Persis, beloved, who has worked hard in the Lord (15 greeted).
    15. Verse 13: Rufus (16 greeted). Paul says that he is chosen in the Lord. His mother has been a mother to Paul.
    16. Verse 14: Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas (21 greeted) also the brothers with them.
    17. Verse 15: Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas (26 greeted), and all the saints who are with them.
    18. Verse 16: now greet one another with a holy kiss.
    19. All the churches of Christ greet you.
    20. Paul wants them all to greet each other in an affectionate way.
    21. The idea of a holy kiss is throughout the Scriptures: 1 Cor 16:20; 2 Cor 13:12; 1 Thess 5:26; 1 Pet 5:14[12]
    22. The kiss was a way of showing affection then and still is in other cultures.
    23. Notice how important community and hospitality was to the apostle Paul.

Marcella, who was born to a noble Roman family in 325, was highly revered by Jerome, the 4th-century translator of the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible. This noblewoman offered her palace as a sanctuary for Christians who were being persecuted, and was active in leading Bible classes and prayer meetings among the other noblewomen.

Though widowed at an early age and having no children, she chose to not remarry and instead devoted herself to serving Christ and the church. When Pope Damasus commissioned scholar Jerome to make a newly revised translation of the Gospels, taking the latest available Hebrew and Greek texts and translating them into Latin, Jerome moved into Marcella’s retreat house palace for the duration of his task. For three years, he depended upon Marcella and her other house guests to critique his ongoing work, which eventually became a classic, the Latin Vulgate Bible.

Marcella founded the first convent for women in the Western church, and gave liberally of her wealth to help other Christians, clearly showing to her fellow noblewomen that greater rewards and fulfillment come from storing up treasures in heaven than from hoarding treasures on earth.

  • Paul’s appeal (verses 17-20)
    1. Read with me verses 17-20, Romans 16:17-20: I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
    2. Watch out for those who cause divisions.
    3. Notice that Paul says that he “appeals” to them. This is a final instruction.
    4. Watch out!!! This is important.
    5. Those who cause divisions or create obstacles, but Paul does not leave it at that. Paul is talking about those who cause divisions or create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that he has taught.
    6. Paul says to avoid them.
    7. They do not serve the Lord Jesus Christ but their own appetites (verse 18).
    8. They deceive the hearts through what “smooth talk and flattery…”
    9. In verse 19 Paul compliments them. Their obedience is known to all. That is really nice. In Romans 1:8 Paul wrote about this.
    10. Paul rejoices over them.
    11. Paul wants them to be wise to what is good and innocent to what is evil.
    12. Verse 20 is powerful. No matter what you face, the God of peace. God is a God of peace, BUT He will soon crush satan under “their” feet. Notice that? Paul says that God will crush satan under their feet.
    13. One writes: Note Paul’s careful grammar: God himself is the one crushing Satan; he happens to use our feet. We are involved in the fight, but any victories in our fight are not merely our work, but God’s (cf. 1 Cor. 15:10).[13]
    14. It was God who established peace in the church (16:20), not Satan, who probably placed the dissenting teachers in proximity to the body to disrupt it. On the role of believers in judging angels, including Satan, see 1Co 6:3.[14]
    15. Then, The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
  • More greetings (verses 21-24)
    1. Let’s read verses 21-24, Romans 16:21-24: Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen. 22 I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord. 23 Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
    2. Paul gives more greetings.
    3. ESV Study Bible: In vv. 21–23 those who are with Paul greet the Romans. Timothy is Paul’s most famous coworker (see 1 Timothy) and was probably his most beloved colleague in ministry. Lucius is likely not Lucius of Cyrene mentioned in Acts 13:1, nor is he Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke and Acts. Jason is likely the same person named in Acts 17:5–7, 9. And Sosipater is probably the same person as Sopater from Berea (Acts 20:4)[15]
    4. Timothy, Paul’s fellow worker.
    5. Lucius, Jason, Sosipater, Paul calls them his kinsmen. They were likely Jewish.
    6. Verse 22: Tertius was his scribe, his amanuensis.
    7. Verse 23: Gaius is his host. The whole church greets them. Erastus is the city treasurer and then Quartus also greets them.
    8. Verse 24 is not in the earlier manuscripts.
    9. I need to make a quick note about verse 24: it is not in the oldest manuscripts. Please know that these manuscripts were copied and copyists worked hard for accuracy and we have well over 5000 manuscripts of the Greek New Testament and most all of them do not differ. Where there are differences something like 99% are grammatical and the rest of the differences are not doctrinal. This is one of those cases. Whether this was original or not it does not affect the doctrine of Christianity. What likely happened is that a copyist made a marginal note and the next person copying the text thought it belonged in the text.
  • Applications:
    1. Do we give people thanks like Paul does in this passage?
    2. Can we be a servant like Phoebe (verse 1)? She helped many (verse 2).
    3. Do we receive God’s servants like they were instructed to (verse 2)?
    4. Can we be fellow workers “in Christ” like Prisca and Aquila? (verses 3-4)?
    5. Can we work hard for the gospel like Mary (verse 6)?
    6. Are we ready to go to prison for the faith (verse 7; see also 2 Tim. 3:12)?
    7. Can we find something good to say about others? Look how encouraging Paul is in this passage? He is encouraging all of them. He is finding good things to say about them. He is positive.
    8. We may not greet with a holy kiss, but can we love one another (verse 16)?
    9. We must stay away from those causing stumbling blocks and dissension (verse 17). We must stay true to proper doctrine/teaching (verse 18).
    10. We must NOT be a slave to our own desires, but to Christ (verse 18).
    11. We must NOT be deceived and we must not deceive others (verse 18).
    12. May the report of our obedience to Christ spread (verse 19).
    13. We must be wise to what is good (verse 19).
    14. We must pursue innocence in evil (verse 19).

A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going.  After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him.

It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.  Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited.

The pastor made himself at home but said nothing.  In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs.  After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone then he sat back in his chair, still silent.

The host watched all this in quiet contemplation.  As the one lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more.  Soon it was cold and dead.

Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.  The pastor glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave.  He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire.  Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek,  ‘Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the firey sermon. I will be back in church next Sunday.’

Prayer


[1] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 92.

[2] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 16:1–27.

[3] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/loneliness-limits-ministry?utm_campaign=Daily%20Email&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=138604941&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-82OKv5HnPP_vA63J3gtxgXbM6hM9tTC6Gz639zXI1NrUDael8IXA6Wg8Q8VIseUEbC7WjLbwOGIdRbUjDF7mhNtX6WtQ&utm_content=138604941&utm_source=hs_email

[4] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 16:1.

[5] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2184.

[6] H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), Ro 16:3–16.

[7] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

[8] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2184.

[9] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1805.

[10] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 16:8.

[11] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 16:10.

[12] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

[13] https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/biblical-theology-david-goliath/

[14] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1770.

[15] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2185.

Paul’s Plan to Visit Rome (Romans 15:22-33)

Paul’s Plan to Visit Rome (Romans 15:22-33)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, November 13 and Sunday, November 14, 2021

Do we care about missions?

A few years ago I stood on the banks of a river in South America and watched a young man in western clothes climb out of a primitive canoe. The veteran missionary with whom I was traveling beamed at the young man and he whispered to me, “The first time I saw him he was a naked Indian kid standing right on this bank, and he pulled in my canoe for me. God gave me a real concern for him, and eventually he came to Christ, committed himself to the Lord’s work and is just returning home after graduating from seminary in Costa Rica.” I could understand the beam on the missionary’s face, and I think Paul beamed when he talked of his men. And he had good cause to be thrilled with them.

—Stuart Briscoe, Bound for Joy[1]

My theme today is:

Paul’s Plan to Visit Rome (Romans 15:22-33)

My application is:

Pray for the gospel impact.

  1. Paul’s travel plans (verses 23-29).
    1. Paul has now wrapped up his theology section. That was Romans chapters 1-11.
    2. Paul has now wrapped up his ethics section. That was Romans chapter 12:1-15:7.
    3. Paul has written about his passion to reach the unreached with the gospel. That was Romans 15:8-21.
    4. Now, Paul continues that theme. Paul continues writing about his passion to take the Gospel to those who have never heard the Gospel.
    5. I have told you that it seems that Paul wanted to use Rome as a staging point to take the gospel to Spain.
    6. Read with me verse 22, Romans 15:22: This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you.
    7. Why was he hindered? What reason? It seems that he was busy taking the Gospel to the unreached people groups. He wanted to take the gospel to those who have never heard. In verse 19 he was specific about the places he has declared the gospel.
    8. In Romans 1:13 he also referenced this.
    9. Now, look at verses 23-24, Romans 15:23-24: But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while.
    10. He has no room for work in these areas. It seems this means that his work is either complete or hindered.
    11. He hopes to see them in passing as he goes to Spain.
    12. He hopes they will help him on his journey to Spain.
    13. First, he wants to enjoy their company for a while.
    14. Isn’t it amazing to think of the gospel going from the middle east to Spain?
    15. That is quite a distance in maybe 30 years.
    16. Spurgeon said every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter!
    17. Look at verse 25, Romans 15:25: At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints.
    18. Paul wants to do gospel ministry in 2 different directions. He wants to go to Spain but now he is taking aid to Jerusalem. In 2 Cor. 8-10 he was doing a fundraising drive to help victims of a famine in Jerusalem. It seems he is doing the same now.
    19. Look at verses 26-27, Romans 15:26-27: For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27For they were pleased to do it, 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 blessings.
    20. Now, he continues with this by writing about Macedonia and Achaia giving to the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. Notice how he calls them “saints.” Notice how he says they are “pleased” to contribute.
    21. Then, verse 27 is interesting: they owe it to them. They were gentile believers who received spiritual blessings from the Jewish believers and so now they should give them material blessings.
    22. Look at verse 28, Romans 15:28: When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you.
    23. This is Paul’s travel plans. He will take the offering to Jerusalem and then go to Spain, but see them on his way.
    24. We do not know if he ever made it to Spain. It is not recorded in the Bible.
    25. Look at verse 29, Romans 15:29: I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.
    26. When he comes… He is confident that he will come.
    27. He will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.
    28. Little did he know he would be taken to Rome in custody (Ac 25:11–28:14, 30–31).[2]
    29. By the first century a.d. Spain was firmly a part of the Roman Empire. Spain provided significant crops to the empire, and it was the fatherland of several important Roman authors (and a few later emperors); thus it would have been a strategic location for Paul to evangelize. No visit of Paul to Spain is recorded in the NT, but it is possible that he went there after his release from prison in Rome (after Acts 28:30–31). There is some historical evidence after the NT suggesting that Paul did preach in Spain, but it falls short of clear proof.[3]
    30. He represents Christ.
  2. How to pray for Paul (verses 30-33).  
    1. Look at verses 30-32, Romans 15:30-32: I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.
    2. Paul is appealing to them and he is calling them “brothers,” or “brothers and sisters.”
    3. There is a sort of natural trinitarianism to v. 30, where Paul speaks of praying to God, but beseeches the Roman Christians through Jesus and through the love which the Spirit engenders in them.[4]
    4. He is appealing by the Lord Jesus Christ.
    5. He is appealing by the love of the Spirit.
    6. This phrase occurs only here in Scripture and refers to Paul’s love for the Holy Spirit, not the Spirit’s love for him (cf. Ps 143:10).[5]
    7. His appeal has the power of the Lord.
    8. His appeal is in the love of the Spirit.
    9. ESV Study Bible: Two prayer requests are found here: (1) that Paul would be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and (2) that his offering would be acceptable to the saints in Jerusalem. Some think the first request was not answered since Paul was arrested in Judea at the impulse of the Jews. But it seems his prayer was answered, for the Jews desired to put him to death (Acts 22–28), and this desire was frustrated, so that Paul did go to Rome, even if not in the way he anticipated. Further, Acts suggests that the offering was accepted in Jerusalem (Acts 24:17).[6]
    10. His appeal is that they would strive, it has the Greek connotation of agonizing.
    11. The language of “striving” together in prayer19 is “agonistic” language, using the athletic metaphor of the straining of an athlete toward a particular goal (cf. Phil. 1:27; 4:3; Col. 4:12). The Christian is viewed as a spiritual athlete wrestling or striving diligently and earnestly in prayer.20 Paul does not seem to mean simply that the Romans should strive with him, rather than strive in prayer.21[7]
    12. He wants them to agonize with him in prayer for him. He is praying for himself and he needs them to pray to.
    13. What is his prayer? It is not selfish. It is that his ministry in Jerusalem is acceptable to the saints… He wants prayer so that he is “delivered” or “rescued” from those unbelievers in Judea. It seems that some would want to cause him harm.
    14. He wants that so that he can go to Rome, but only in God’s will.
    15. He wants prayer that the gifts are favorably received. The only indication that it was is found in the cryptic statement of Ac 21:17, “… the brethren received us gladly.” No wonder! Paul showed up with a crate full of relief funds for them.[8]
    16. He wants to be refreshed by their company.
    17. Are we refreshed by the company of other believers?
    18. I think they were because they faced more difficulties.
    19. Look at the end, look at verse 33, Romans 15:33: May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
    20. That is a caring and wonderful exhortation.
    21. He is asking that God be with them all.

Shortly after Dallas Theological Seminary opened its doors, their doors almost closed because of bankruptcy. Before their 1929 commencement day, the faculty gathered in the president’s office to pray that God would provide. They formed a prayer circle, and when it was Harry Ironside’s turn, he circled Psalm 50:10 with a simple Honi-like prayer: “Lord, we know you own the cattle on a thousand hills. Please sell some of them, and send us the money.”

The time lapse between our requests and God’s answers is often longer than we would like, but occasionally God answers immediately.

While the faculty was praying, a $10,000 answer was delivered.

One version of the story attributes the gift to a Texas cattle rancher who had sold two carloads of cattle. Another version attributes it to a banker from Illinois. But one way or another, it was God who prompted the gift and answered the prayer.

In a moment that is reminiscent of the day Peter knocked on the door of the house where his friends were praying for a miraculous jailbreak, the president’s secretary interrupted the prayer meeting by knocking on the president’s door. Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, founder and president of DTS, answered the door, and she handed him the answer to prayer. Turning to his friend and colleague, Dr. Harry Ironside, President Chafer said, “Harry, God sold the cattle!”[9]

  • Applications:
    1. We also must care about the Gospel and even alter plans for the gospel ministry (verses 22-24).
    2. Will we alter our day if it means Gospel ministry?
    3. Will we alter our travel plans for the gospel?
    4. Maybe it is direct gospel ministry of sharing the gospel, or maybe serving.
    5. Will we serve at the rescue mission?
    6. Will we serve a neighbor in need?
    7. Will we get our hands dirty in ministry?
    8. Will we go on a mission trip?
    9. Will we volunteer in the youth ministry, children’s ministry, worship ministry, or help in other ways in the church?
    10. Are we praying for Gospel ministry?
    11. Paul wanted to visit them and then go further to Spain (verses 23-24). Do you want to visit Christian brothers and sisters you do not usually see?
    12. Are we serving? In verses 25-28 Paul was talking about churches that donate to the needs of Jerusalem and Paul was delivering it.
    13. Have you thought about donating to the pregnancy help center or the rescue mission?
    14. Are we praying for Christian ministries (verses 30-33)?
    15. Pray for the praise team.
    16. Pray for the youth ministry.
    17. Pray for the children’s ministry.

A missionary couple came home aboard a ship after many years of faithful service in Africa. It so happened that there was a very important diplomat also on the same ship who got special treatment and special attention. When the ship arrived, this couple stood back and watched from the deck as the band played and the people had gathered and there was great applause. As the diplomat walked down the gangplank and was whisked off in a lovely limousine to the sounds of music and applause, this dear fellow put his arm around his wife and he walked off with her and got into the streets of New York. “Honey,” he said, “it just doesn’t seem right after all of these years that we would have this kind of treatment and here this fellow gets that kind of special treatment.” And she put her arms around her husband and said to him, “But, honey, we’re not home yet.”[10]

Prayer


[1] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 376–377.

[2] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1805.

[3] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2183.

[4] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 366.

[5] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 15:30.

[6] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2183.

19 Synagōnizomai is found in inscriptions from before the NT era with the meaning “strive together with,” referring to a sort of tug of war with ambassadors from other countries. See NewDocs 3:84.

20 See Barrett, Romans, p. 256.

21 Against Dunn, Romans 9–16, p. 878.

[7] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 366–367.

[8] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1770.

[9] http://www.faithgateway.com/pray-hard/#.Vp6jczY0nq0

[10] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 377.

Paul the Minister to the Gentiles (Romans 15:14-21)

Paul the Minister to the Gentiles (Romans 15:14-21)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, November 6 and Sunday, November 7, 2021

A small bottle containing urine sat upon the desk of Sir William Osler. He was then the eminent professor of medicine at Oxford University. Sitting before him was a classroom full of young, wide-eyed medical students listening to his lecture on the importance of observing details. To emphasize his point, he reached down and picked up the bottle. Holding it high, he announced:

This bottle contains a sample for analysis. It’s often possible by tasting it to determine the disease from which the patient suffers.

Suiting action to words, he dipped a finger into the fluid and then into his mouth, as he continued—

Now I am going to pass the bottle around. Each of you please do exactly as I did. Perhaps we can learn the importance of this technique and diagnose the case.

The bottle made its way from row to row as each student gingerly poked his finger in and bravely sampled the contents with a frown. Dr. Osler then retrieved the bottle and startled his students with the words:

Gentlemen, now you will understand what I mean when I speak about details. Had you been observant you would have seen that I put my index finger into the bottle but my middle finger into my mouth![1]

We continue our trek through Romans. Today, observe Paul’s passion for the gospel.

My theme today is that Paul desired to take the Gospel to the UNCHURCHED, those who had NEVER HEARD the Gospel.

The Application: I hope we also take care to SHARE the Gospel.

  1. Paul’s ministry (verses 14-18)
    1. Paul has written about conscious issues and sacrificing for each other and now he moves on.
    2. The last section really ended with a prayer.
    3. Now, he talks about his mission, his passion.
    4. This is interesting because in Romans we see the mutual need for Jews and gentiles to know Christ.
    5. Romans 1: gentiles need a Savior.
    6. Romans 2: Jews need a Savior.
    7. Romans 3: all need a Savior.
    8. Paul continues weaving these themes in the letter.
    9. Now, Paul talks about his ministry to the gentiles.
    10. Look at verse 14, Romans 15:14: I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.
    11. Paul begins by complimenting them.
    12. He is satisfied about them. They are full of goodness.
    13. They are filled with knowledge.
    14. They are able to instruct each other.
    15. It could be that the knowledge he has in mind is knowledge about what food and drink they are permitted to eat and drink. It could be he means that they have knowledge about their freedom in Christ.
    16. Now, look at verses 15-16, Romans 15:15-16: But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 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. Paul is coming back to his purpose.
    18. Verses 15–16 provide the closest thing Paul gives for a purpose statement for this epistle.[2]
    19. But… he is inserting a contrast here. He was very satisfied in them, they are full of goodness, but on some points he needed to write boldly.
    20. He needed to remind them of the grace he was given from God, or “by God.”
    21. The grace was to be a minister of Christ Jesus… Who is he to be a minister of? Christ Jesus. To be a minister means to be a servant, or an ambassador. Who does he represent? He represents Christ Jesus.
    22. Who does he represent Christ Jesus to? The gentiles. This means the nations, this means non-Jewish people groups.
    23. What else? He is in the priestly service of the gospel of God…What did a priest do? A priest gives sacrifices on behalf of the people. What did Paul do? Paul told them about Jesus’ sacrifice on behalf of the people. But what else? It looks like he was offering the gentiles. See the rest of verse 16.
    24. So that the offering of the gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. To be sanctified means to be set apart for a purpose.
    25. It seems like Paul wants to reach the gentiles with the Gospel and present them back to the Lord sanctified, that is, set apart by the Holy Spirit.
    26. In Acts 9:15 God says that Paul is a chosen instrument of His for the gentiles and in Romans 11:13 he calls himself an apostle to the gentiles.
    27. Look at verse 17, Romans 15:17: In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God.
    28. He can he be proud, but only in Christ Jesus, he can be proud of his work for God. What is his work? Reaching the gentiles with the Gospel.
    29. Are we proud of our work for God?
    30. Now look at verse 18, Romans 15:18: For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed
    31.  So, look, Paul will only talk about what Christ has accomplished through him as it related to gentiles coming to obedience to Christ.
    32. Paul will expand on this in the next verse, but this verse is about how Paul’s words and actions brought the gentiles to faith.
    33. Do we care that our words and actions bring people to salvation?
    34. Are we able to restrain ourselves to only speaking about what Christ does through us?
    35. Now, Paul is building up to a powerful conclusion which we will see in verses 20-21, but first Paul mentions miracles.
  2. Paul’s miracles and mission field (verse 19).
    1. Let’s read verse 19, Romans 15:19: by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ
    2. Verse 19 is continuing about how God has worked through Paul to reach the gentiles with the gospel.
    3. What this verse makes clear is that Paul did perform miracles, or, better said, miracles were performed through Paul. There are of course various accounts of this in places like Acts 13–14, but Paul is notably reticent to talk about such things, probably precisely because it would lead people to focus too much on himself rather than on his Lord. The same sort of considerations may be in play with this matter as in regard to Paul’s reticence to talk about his social status as a Roman citizen. Paul wants the gospel and the gospel work to speak for itself without the usual honor and status conventions coming into play. What Paul adds in v. 19b is that his preaching has “completed” or fulfilled the gospel of Christ. “As the world is permeated by the Gospel, the Gospel itself comes to fulfillment. It is of the essence of the Gospel that it is not just proclaimed but that it fashions an earthly sphere of validity for the lordship of Christ.19[3]
    4. God has worked through Paul by word and deed and also by the power of signs and wonder, further by the power of the Spirit of God. What has this accomplished? From Jerusalem and all the way to Illyricum, he has fulfilled the ministry of the Gospel of Christ. These were 2 key cities, Jerusalem was the home base for the Gospel and Illyricum was a Roman Province on the northwest Balkan peninsula, east of the Adriatic Sea, which included modern Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Montenegro. The northern limit of Paul’s ministry.[4]
    5. The region that roughly corresponds to former Yugoslavia and current northern Albania. In Paul’s day, this area was more commonly known as Dalmatia (2Ti 4:10). Jerusalem to Illyricum covered some 1400 miles.[5]
    6. The book of Acts does not mention Illyricum explicitly, but Paul probably went there on his third missionary journey after leaving Ephesus (Ac 19) and before arriving in Greece (Ac 20:1–2). It formed the farthest northwest area Paul reached before going to Rome. In keeping with his call as apostle to the Gentiles, Paul sought to evangelize in previously unreached areas (v. 20), and justifies doing so with a citation from Is 52:15 regarding God’s spread of the renown of the Suffering Servant among the nations.[6]
    7. So, the power of the Holy Spirit has worked through Paul using signs and wonders, miracles, to bring people to salvation.
  3. Paul’s strategy (verses 20-21).
    1. Let’s read verses 20-21, Romans 15:20-21: and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”
    2. I love these 2 verses: Paul had talked about what God had done through him to reach the gentiles and now he concludes.
    3. “and thus…” Now we see Paul’s goal, his ambition.
    4. He desires to preach the gospel, but NOT where Christ has already been named.
    5. Why doesn’t he want to preach where Christ has already been named? He does not want to build on another’s foundation.
    6. Verse 21 is a quote from Isaiah 52:15.
    7. Paul sees his ministry as a fulfillment of Isaiah 52:15.
    8. The OT quotation refers primarily to Christ’s second coming, but in its broader application it refers to the process of evangelism that began in Paul’s day and continues throughout church history until Christ returns.[7]
    9. I remember being a child and hearing my World War II veteran great uncle share a joke. He said a priest came to talk with a parishioner about the hereafter. She was upstairs and he saw nuts on the table. So he decided to help himself to some nuts. She eventually came down and he said, “I hope you don’t mind I helped myself to some nuts.” She commented back, “That’s okay, I already licked the chocolate off of them!”
    10. The priest in the story was there to talk about eternity. Eternity matters.
    11. Paul wanted to take the gospel to unreached people.
    12. On a broad scaled, the millennials are unchurched. Unchurched means they have not been to a church in 5 years.
    13. Dr. Tennant of Asbury Theological Seminary said that there was a study showing that 7 percent, just 7 percent, of the millennials claim Christ. If that number is less than 5 percent, we are considered an unreached people group in mission standards.
    14. My unreached people group are for sure this generation. They need Jesus.
    15. I have heard another statistic that said that 15 percent, just 15 percent, of the millennials are Christians.
    16. There are many who have an improper understanding of the Gospel. Many think we are saved by works. They need to understand God’s grace. I read about a conversation John MacArthur had with a man dying of cancer. This was 1985. MacArthur said, “You are dying do you know where you are going?” The man said that he was going to Heaven. MacArthur asked how he knew. He said that he was a good person. MacArthur talked to him about God’s standard and grace and the man accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. The man then asked MacArthur to preach his funeral so that he could share that the man accepted Jesus.
    17. So, an application:
    18. Let all that you do be about the Gospel.
    19. You are on the frontlines of the Gospel. Many times we think pastors and missionaries are the only ones on the front lines. This is not true at all. In Acts chapter 8 Stephen had been stoned and the Christians flee (Acts 8:1). Later the church in Antioch forms and grows, but get this, we don’t know who planted the church in Antioch. It was not Paul or an apostle. It was the lay people. Most of the churches in history were started by lay people.
    20. God has given you a sphere of influence. God has given all of us a sphere of influence. These are people who are in our lives and we are called by God to represent Jesus to them. We are called to share Jesus with them.

Think about how important it is to take the gospel to people.

Dr. Witherington III shares:

Yet there is something especially inspiring about stories like that of Jim Elliot, the missionary who lost his life working with the fierce Auca Indians in South America, giving the last full measure of his devotion by pouring out his life. Shortly before Elliot died, when he was asked about why he kept risking his life with such an inhospitable and seemingly ungrateful and unpromising audience, he said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” Recently, one of the Auca tribesmen spoke at an evangelistic event in Florida. After Elliot died, this man was converted to the Christian faith, in part due to the enduring impact of Elliot’s witness. Now there is a significant group of Christians among the Aucas. There is then still truth to Tertullian’s older claim that “the blood of the martyrs is seed for the church.”[8]

Prayer


[1] https://insight.org/resources/daily-devotional/individual/observation

[2] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1769.

19 Käsemann, Romans, p. 394.

[3] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 356.

[4] Michael S. Guyer, “Illyricum,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

[5] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 15:19.

v. verse

[6] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1769.

[7] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 15:21.

[8] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 358.

Christ, the Hope of Jews and Gentiles (Romans 15:8-13)

Christ, the Hope of Jews and Gentiles (Romans 15:8-13)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, October, 30 and Sunday, October 31, 2021

Think about something different about the church.

Philip Yancey shares: As I read accounts of the New Testament church, no characteristic stands out more sharply than [diversity]. Beginning with Pentecost, the Christian church dismantled the barriers of gender, race, and social class that had marked Jewish congregations. Paul, who as a rabbi had given thanks daily that he was not born a woman, slave, or Gentile, marveled over the radical change: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

One modern Indian pastor told me, “Most of what happens in Christian churches, including even miracles, can be duplicated in Hindu and Muslim congregations. But in my area only Christians strive, however ineptly, to mix men and women of different castes, races, and social groups. That’s the real miracle.”

Diversity complicates rather than simplifies life. Perhaps for this reason we tend to surround ourselves with people of similar age, economic class, and opinion. Church offers a place where infants and grandparents, unemployed and executives, immigrants and blue bloods can come together. Just yesterday I sat sandwiched between an elderly man hooked up to a puffing oxygen tank and a breastfeeding baby who grunted loudly and contentedly throughout the sermon. Where else can we find that mixture?

When I walk into a new church, the more its members resemble each other—and resemble me—the more uncomfortable I feel.[1]

My theme today is:

Christ is the hope of both Jews and gentiles.

Application: Don’t look down on anyone because Jesus is the Savior of all who believe.

Remember that the previous chapters have been about conscious issues. Now, Paul is bringing this to a conclusion that Jesus is the Savior, Jesus is our hope. This is true of the Jews and the gentiles.

  1. Christ came for the Jewish people in order to show God’s promises to the patriarchs, and so the gentiles will glorify God (verse 8).
    1. Read with me verse 8, Romans 15:8: For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs…
    2. Paul is continuing from the previous verses.
    3. In verses 1-7 Paul used the example of Christ in order to motivate us to love others and not judge one another over conscious issues.
    4. In verse 8 Paul continues to give the example of Christ.
    5. Witherington III: It becomes apparent in vv. 8–9 that Paul is thinking back to and building on the discussion in chs. 9–11. There are especially echoes of 9:4–5. One could argue that 15:8 and 9 sum up much of the argument and rhetorical aims of the whole deliberative argument. [2]
    6. Christ became a servant.
    7. We know that, right. In Philippians 2:3-11 Paul writes about how Jesus left His heavenly abode to become a man and die on the cross for us.
    8. Christ became a servant to the circumcised.
    9. Who are the circumcised? The Jewish people. Going all the way back to Genesis 17:10-14 the Jewish people have been required to circumcise their males.
    10. So, Christ came as a servant to Israel.
    11. For what purpose: to show God’s truthfulness.
    12. Jesus fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophesies of the Messiah.
    13. Jesus confirmed all of the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They are identified as the patriarchs.
    14. This continues into verse 9. Paul is about to mix together Jesus’ purpose to the Jews and to the gentiles.
  2. Paul uses the Old Testament to show God’s promises to the gentiles (verses 9-12).
    • Read with me verses 9-12, Romans 15:9-12: and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.” And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.” And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”
    • Verse 9 continues on from verse 8. Christ had a further purpose.
    • MacArthur: 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, the Prophets, and twice from the Psalms—all the recognized divisions of the OT—proving God’s plan from their own Scriptures.[3]
    • Christ had a purpose that the gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.
    • “as it is written…” This means Paul is about to quote the Old Testament.
    • Verse 9 quotes: 2 Sam 22:50; Ps 18:49: God will receive praise among the gentiles. If you look up that passage and the following in your Old Testament you will find out that most of the time it is translated as nations. Gentiles are all those nations other than Israel. In Ps 18:49 the Messiah stands among converted Gentiles and offers their praise, along with his own, to the Father.[4]
    • Romans 15:10 Quoted from Dt 32:43. Rejoicing from the gentiles with His people. This would be Jewish people rejoicing with gentiles.
    • Romans 15:11 Quoted from Ps 117:1. Again, praising the Lord from the gentiles and all the nations.[5]
    • Romans 15:12 Quoted from Is 11:10. root of Jesse. A way of referring to Jesus as the descendant of David, and thus of David’s father Jesse.[6] From the descendants of David there will be a ruler over the gentiles, and He will give the gentiles hope. This is clearly about Jesus.
    • Paul strung together these Old Testament quotes in order to show that God is being consistent with His Word.
    • Paul’s prayer (verse 13)
    • Read with me verse 13, Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
    • It seems that in this verse Paul is back to his prayer from verses 5-6.
    • This is really more of an exhortation.
    • He identifies God as the God of hope.
    • Is our hope in God?
    • Is our hope for salvation in God?
    • Is Jesus our ultimate hope? Is He your daily hope?
    • Someone wrote: Someone without hope lives without a sail to drive him, without ballast to stabilize him, without a rudder to guide him, without an anchor to hold him. In every relationship, he is driven by the stormy winds of disappointment, conflict, and self-pity. But we hope in God. If that hope is real, it will slowly erode, and then wash away, the awful bricks sin builds between us in love.[7]
    • Paul asks that God, the God of hope, fills them with all joy and peace…
    • Do you have joy in Jesus?
    • Do you have peace in Jesus?
    • Paul asks that the God of hope fills them with all joy and peace in believing…
    • Luther comments that “the Apostle places joy first and then peace, because it is joy that gives peace to men, engendering it in their hearts” (Romans, 198–99).[8]
    • Are you believing?
    • Then Paul gives a purpose.
    • May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, [and here is the purpose] so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
    • Wow!
    • Through the power of the Holy Spirit… There is power in the Holy Spirit.
    • Through the Power of the Holy Spirit, he asks that they abound in hope.
    • God is the God of hope.
    • God fills them with all joy and peace in believing.
    • The joy and peace are connected with believing. Believing what? John 3:16 and what he has written about Jesus saving Jews and gentiles.
    • Again, let’s continue to break down verse 13, I am starting from the beginning again:
    • God is the God of hope.
    • God fills them with all joy and peace in believing.
    • Then, by the power of the Holy Spirit Paul asks that they abound in hope.
    • We get the hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. We do not get just a little bit of hope, but Paul prays that they abound in hope.
    • We also get the hope by God filling us with joy and peace in believing, but this all comes by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  3. Applications:
    1. Don’t look down on anyone because Jesus is the Savior of all who believe.
    2. Remember that the previous chapters have been about conscious issues. Now, Paul is bringing this to a conclusion that Jesus is the Savior, Jesus is our hope. This is true of the Jews and the gentiles.
    3. We must be encouraged that Christ came as a servant to the Jewish people in order to show God’s truthfulness (verse 8).
    4. We must be encouraged that Christ came as a servant to the Jewish people in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs (verse 8).
    5. We must be encouraged that Christ came as a servant to the Jewish people in order that the gentiles might glorify God for His mercy (verse 9).
    6. We must see these Scriptures from verses 9-12 and remember that God is faithful, we can trust Him.
    7. God has acted in a way that is consistent with His Word.
    8. May God be our hope (verse 13).
    9. May God fill us with all joy and peace (verse 13).
    10. May we receive this joy and peace because we are believing the promises of God (verse 13).
    11. May we seek the power of the Holy Spirit through believing the promises of God so that we abound in hope (verse 13).

Christians come together in unity and we make a difference:

In 2011 New York Times editorialist Nicholas Kristof wrote a column praising the work of many evangelical Christians. Kristof begins by noting that at times evangelical leaders act hypocritically and don’t reflect Christ. However, he also goes on to write:

But in reporting on poverty, disease and oppression, I’ve seen so many others. Evangelicals are disproportionately likely to donate 10 percent of their incomes to charities, mostly church-related. More important, go to the front lines, at home or abroad, in the battles against hunger, malaria, prison, rape, obstetric fistula, human trafficking or genocide, and some of the bravest people you meet are evangelical Christians (or conservative Catholics, similar in many ways) who truly live their faith.

I’m not particularly religious myself, but I stand in awe of those I’ve seen risking their lives in this way—and it sickens me to see that faith mocked at New York cocktail parties.[9]

Pray


[1] Philip Yancey, “Denominational Diagnostics,” Christianity Today (November 2008), p. 119

[2] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 343.

[3] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 15:9–12.

[4] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1804.

LXX Septuagint

MT Masoretic Text

[5] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004).

[6] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 15:10–12.

[7] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-to-love-the-hard-to-love?utm_campaign=Daily%20Email&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=80509707&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–pckFz68aJvhZnx0cZIBjtVMMnaQZ_K7FpaaB8RYlVr9yhY9d7smR7L8L4bBa9WBwaNotedH0WjopFkgDPuITpLgoWcQ&_hsmi=80509707

[8] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995).

[9] Source: Nicholas D. Kristof, “Evangelicals Without Blowhards,” The New York Times (7-30-11)

The Example of Christ (Romans 15:1-7)

The Example of Christ (Romans 15:1-7)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, October 23 and Sunday, October 24, 2021

Joni Eareckson Tada shares:

My husband, Ken, serves as a track-and-field coordinator for Special Olympics. There is always band music, colorful banners, and flags everywhere. Scattered across the infield are teams of mentally disabled young people.

A few years ago at the games, Ken blew his whistle to signal the contestants for the 50-yard dash. A girl with Down syndrome with thick glasses and a short, stocky boy in baggy shorts were the first to line up. There was a moment of stillness, then a “bang” from the starting gun. Off they sprinted six contestants bobbing and weaving down the track.

Suddenly the boy in baggy shorts began running toward his friends in the infield. Ken blew his whistle to direct him back to the track, but it was no use. At that point, the girl with Down syndrome, who was just a few yards from the finish line, turned around, ran toward him, and gave him a big hug. Together they got back on the track and completed the race arm-in-arm, long after the rest of the contestants had crossed the finish line.

We must run the race not to please ourselves, but to please the Lord. That often means taking time to stop and put our arms around a weaker friend who needs to get back on track.

Have you watched a fellow believer get spiritually confused, and yet you’ve kept on going? Jesus doesn’t seem as preoccupied with “winning” as we do. The important thing is how we run the race. And we are called to run it, bearing with the failings of those who are weak.[1]

We are going to talk about a passage that deals with that subject; we must love and support each other.

My theme today is:

We are to accept others following Christ’s example.

  1. The example of Christ (verses 1-4)
    1. Witherington III: Origen offers a telling comment on this section of Paul’s discourse: “Eating meat and drinking wine are matters of indifference in themselves. Even wicked people may abstain from these things, and some idol worshipers, in fact, do so, for reasons which are actually evil. Likewise quite a few heretics enjoin similar practices. The only reason abstinence of this kind is good is that it may help to avoid offending a brother.”[2]
    2. Let’s read verse 1 (Romans 15:1): We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
    3. Remember that in context Paul has been talking about conscious issues. Paul has been encouraging them to respect their conscious and respect the conscious of each other.
    4. The conscious issues they are dealing with seem to be either Jewish dietary laws or food sacrificed to idols. Paul had said that as Christians they are free to eat the meat, but if their conscious is not comfortable with it then follow their conscious.
    5. Paul has encouraged them to respect each other.
    6. In Romans 14:13 Paul said never to put a stumbling block in front of another.
    7. So, now Paul continues this discussion.
    8. Paul says “We who are strong…” What does he mean? The strong are those that feel free to eat without following Jewish practices. Paul includes himself among the strong.
    9. Paul says they have an “obligation” strong term, they have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak.
    10. It seems that the lack of a true understanding of the weak is viewed as a failing. The weak feel that they must follow certain dietary laws because they do not know better.
    11. Paul says that they are not to please themselves.
    12. MacArthur: to bear: The word means “to pick up and carry a weight.” It is used of carrying a pitcher of water (Mk 14:13), of carrying a man (Ac 21:35), and figuratively of bearing an obligation (Ac 15:10). The strong are not to simply tolerate the weaknesses of their weaker brothers; they are to help the weak shoulder their burdens by showing loving and practical consideration for them (Gal 6:2; cf. 1Co 9:19–22; Php 2:2–4).[3]
    13. Look at verse 2, Romans 15:2: Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
    14. So, instead of pleasing ourselves, each of us is to please his neighbor, why? For his good. Of course, “his” could also be “her.”
    15. We are to be about building up our neighbor.
    16. In Luke 10:30-37 Jesus answered “Who is my neighbor” with the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
    17. Now, verse 3, Romans 15:3: For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”
    18. So, now we have the example of Christ.
    19. Christ did not please himself. Now, he quotes the Old Testament with “as it is written.”
    20. That is a quote from Psalm 69:9.
    21. Reproaches of those who reproached God fell upon Him.
    22. MacArthur: “Reproaches” refers to slander, false accusations, and insults. Men hate God, and they manifested that same hate toward the One He sent to reveal Himself (cf. Jn 1:10, 11, 18).[4]
    23. Let’s look at verse 4, Romans 15:4: For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
    24. So, he gives the example of Jesus and then talked about former days. Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction.
    25. Through endurance and encouragement of Scriptures we might have hope.
    26. Do you ever think about endurance?
    27. Do we endure through hard times while walking with the Lord?
    28. The Christian life is a marathon, not a short race. We must have endurance to keep going.
    29. Endurance gives us hope. Enduring through difficult times gives us hope.
    30. Also, encouragement of the Scriptures gives us hope.
    31. Are you in the Bible?
    32. The Word of God is endorsed here for our encouragement.
    33. Do you have hope, do you need hope?
    34. Read the Bible and focus on endurance.
  2. Paul’s prayer for the people (verses 5-7)
    1. Verses 5-6 read, Romans 15:5-6,: May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    2. Let’s break down these two verses. Now, Paul has a request: May the God of endurance– remember we just talked about endurance- and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another. So, Paul considers it important that we are in harmony with one another. That is why he has been saying not to argue over dietary issues.
    3. Paul continues, and this is VERY important. Live in harmony with one another, IN ACCORD WITH CHRIST JESUS. That is very important. They are to live in harmony with each other in Christ.
    4. To use another church metaphor, Christ is the groom, and we are the bride.
    5. But Paul is not finished yet. We are to live in harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus with the purpose that with one voice we glorify God the Father.
    6. MacArthur: God and Father: This expression emphasizes the deity of Christ. Jesus is not an adopted son of God; He is of the same essential being and nature as God. This is such an important connection that it appears frequently in the NT (2Co 1:3; 11:31; Eph 1:3; Col 1:3; 1Pe 1:3).[5]
    7. Isn’t that powerful? Are we united in harmony?
    8. In Harmony we worship the Lord (Rev 7:9-10).
    9. We come together and worship the Lord with one voice.
    10. I love it when I can look out on the congregation, and everyone is worshipping the Lord with one voice.
    11. Now, look at verse 7, Romans 15:7: Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
    12. We might say, “Any friend of his is a friend of mine.”[6]
    13. This verse wraps it up.
    14. Welcome one another.
    15. Christ has welcomed you.
    16. Christ welcomed you for the glory of God.
    17. Some translations say “accept one another to the glory of God.”
    18. ESV Study Bible: Such mutual acceptance will bring great glory to God.[7]
  3. Applications:
    1. We who are more mature in our understanding must bear with the failings of the weak.
    2. This is about conscious issues. This is NOT about specific things that the Bible is very clear.
    3. In matters of conscious we must not flaunt our freedom. We must love and support one another. This is very clear. We have an obligation to bear the failings of the weak.
    4. We must all think of how to build up our neighbor (verse 2).
    5. Our neighbor includes our enemy (Luke 10:29-37).
    6. We must really think of how to build up our neighbor. Do we do this? Do we really think about how to build up others?
    7. Christ did not please Himself (verse 3).
    8. We must be in the Scriptures (verse 4).
      1. Are we lacking in our Bible time?
      2. Are we meditating on the Scriptures?
      3. Are we ruminating on the Scriptures?
      4. Are we studying the Scriptures in Sunday School/small groups, etc.
      5. Those of you who are not in Sunday School, why not? Are you in a small group to take the place of Sunday School? Someone once told me he did not like any of our adult classes. My thought was, “So you are saying that no Sunday School is better than a class you do not like.”
      6. We must be in the Word and in the Word with the community of Christians.
    9. We must focus on persevering in the Christian life. We must focus on endurance (verse 4).
    10. Are we living in harmony with other Christians? Do we realize how much it glorifies God when we worship in unity (verses 5-6)?
    11. We must welcome others as Christ has welcomed us (verse 7).

Dr Witherington III shares:

Philip Hallie’s Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed recounts a story of the transforming, subversive power of shared living—what the author terms a “kitchen struggle”:89 Nineteen hundred years after Paul wrote Romans, André Trocmé, a Huguenot pastor in the village of Le Chambon in the Haute-Loire region of France, underscored the recognition of commonality. Refusing to ostracize the Jews of France despite their religious “otherness,” he affirmed, “We do not know what a Jew is. We know only men.”90 Pohl asserts, “When, by acknowledging difference, we only endanger, then we must only acknowledge our common human identity.”91 Trocmé’s commitment and that of his village to such a way of living made Le Chambon the safest place in Europe for Jews during WWII. Through the subversive practice of Christian hospitality, a kitchen conspiracy of goodness, this small, impoverished village of three thousand in occupied France saved an estimated five thousand Jewish refugees from the Nazi extermination camps. Like the Israelites before them, the Huguenots of Le Chambon recalled their own history of persecution and realized that Christian faith demanded a refusal to participate in oppression and violence, always the first fruits of focusing on differences.[8]

Prayer


[1] Devotion 05.26.2021

[2] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 345.

[3] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 15:1.

[4] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 15:3.

[5] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 15:6.

[6] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 261.

[7] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2182.

89 Philip Hallie, Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed (New York: HarperPerennial, 1994), p. 9.

90 Hallie, Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed, p. 170.

91 Pohl, Making Room, p. 83.

[8] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 348.

Do Not Cause Another to Stumble (Romans 14:13-23)

Do Not Cause Another to Stumble (Romans 14:13-23).

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, October 16 and Sunday, October 17, 2021

It was 2018. I was ready to start my first and my only Tough Mudder competition. This is a 10 mile competition with super muddy obstacles. It is something in which you work as a team. So, one has to work with others to climb over 10 foot walls and crawl through mud under barbed wire. There are obstacles in which one is literally swimming through mud. I wore old shoes because I knew how muddy it would be. That was a mistake. I was at the starting line. It was crowded. It was sunny and it was hot. I look down and I see that the toe of my shoe was split open. I asked around for duct tape and no one had any, so I tied my shoelaces around it. I go through the first obstacle okay. The second obstacle was one in which we run and jump to climb over a wall. There were things sticking out of the wall to hold onto. I run and as I go to grab hold of the wall my foot slams into the wall. That would have been okay, but the toe was now opened. I got over the wall. But my toe was broken. I kept going and by the 3rd or 4th mile I was swimming through mud and got mud splashed into my eye. To make matters worse I had contact lenses in. My brother was ahead of me trying to pull me out, but I could not see. My eye was burning and my toe was throbbing. I had to reach into my eye and pull the contact lens out, throwing it on the ground. It is probably still there. Maybe they will find it in an archaeological dig in the future. At mile 5 I left the competition.

What I just described was a competition in which I experienced multiple “Stumbling blocks.” These caused me to exit the competition before the finish line. In today’s passage Paul will exhort the Christians not to cause a stumbling block in another Christian’s path.

My theme today is:

Do not cause another to stumble.

  1. Do not cause another to stumble (Verses 13-15).
    1. In Romans 14 Paul began to talk about conscious issues.
    2. Last week we talked about that. Paul was talking about disagreements about whether it was okay to eat certain meats. It seems that the issue was whether or not it was okay to eat food sacrificed to idols. Though some think it could have to do with Jewish dietary laws. Some, who Paul calls “the strong,” thought it was okay to eat food sacrificed to idols and not follow the dietary laws. Others, Paul calls “the weak,” thought it was not okay. Yet, Paul calls everyone to live at peace with one another. Paul continues that idea in these verses.
    3. Remember, last week I shared that Paul is saying that we are not to judge in matters of conscious.
    4. Let’s read verses 13-15, Romans 14:13-15: Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.
    5. Paul says, “let us” and this is including himself. We are not to pass judgment on one another.
    6. We are not to put a stumbling block in the way of another.
    7. Paul gets more specific; we are also not to put a hindrance in the way of another.
    8. What is a stumbling block? Obviously, that would be something that makes a person stumble.
    9. I have ran many nights after dark. There have been at least a handful of times that I have stumbled on uneven sidewalks. That is what I think of when I read these verses.
    10. We do not want to make another stumble.
    11. We do not want to hinder their faith. We do not want to put an obstacle in another’s faith. “Hindrance” could be translated as “obstacle” or “snare.” I was fishing with Mercedes and she thought she caught a big fish. No, she caught a big rock. That is a snare.
    12. We do not want conscious issues to be a snare in someone’s faith journey.
    13. We do not want conscious issues to be a stumbling block in someone’s faith journey.
    14. Paul said something similar in 1 Cor. 8:13.
    15. In verse 14, Paul shares truth. He knows, and he is persuaded by the Lord, that nothing is unclean in itself. The food is technically clean. However, if someone thinks it is unclean, then for them it is a conscious issue which they must take seriously.
    16. In 1 Cor. 8:7 Paul builds on this.
    17. Later in verse 20 of this same chapter Paul will explain more of why this matters.
    18. In verse 15 Paul starts the “why” question which we will continue in the next point.
    19. We do not want to destroy a relationship. We do not want to harm someone’s faith. If we flaunt our freedom then we harm someone’s faith and Christ died for that person.
  2. Remember love (verses 16-18).
    1. Let’s read verses 16-18, Romans 14:16-18: So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.
    2. It seems now Paul is exhorting them to move beyond these things.
    3. So, do not let what is spoken of as good, what would that be? That would be the meat that some are offended by. Don’t let that be spoken of as evil. Why would that be? It would be spoken of as evil because it harms a relationship. Further, the other person’s conscious considers the meat as evil.
    4. In verse 17 Paul says the Kingdom of God is way more than that.
    5. Paul shares what the Kingdom of God is NOT and then what the Kingdom of God is.
    6. What is the Kingdom of God? I like how one person defined the Kingdom of God: God’s people in God’s place under God’s universal ruler, King Jesus, whose unique earthly ministry announces the already inaugurated but not yet consummated Kingdom of God/heaven.[2]
    7. The Kingdom of God is NOT eating and drinking. Moody: Drinking anticipates drinking wine in v. 21. Wine was used as libations in the temples, and Jewish believers refused to purchase and drink wine just as they did meat.[3]
    8. Here Paul says the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
    9. The Kingdom of God is not what they are arguing over.
    10. The Kingdom of God is about righteousness. This is pursuing living God’s way and recognizing that Jesus has made us righteous.
    11. The Kingdom of God is about peace.
    12. Paul has been exhorting them to be at peace with one another.
    13. The Kingdom of God is about joy, but the joy is in the Holy Spirit.
    14. Verse 18: whoever serves Christ… this means whether they eat the meat or not, is acceptable to Him and approved.
    15. So, Paul is telling them both sides are okay in this matter.
    16. Paul is telling them to let this go.
  3. Pursue peace (verses 19-23).
    1. Let’s read verses 19-23, Romans 14:19-23: So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 20Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
    2. Verse 19 encapsulates this whole argument.
    3. Paul makes an inference, “so then…”
    4. “pursue peace…” Now, that is a way to live, isn’t it?
    5. How many of us pursue peace?
    6. Paul then gives more detail about how to pursue peace. He gets more practical. Pursue what makes for mutual upbuilding.
    7. How are we doing with this?
    8. Are we critical of others?
    9. Are we trying to build one another up?
    10. In verse 20 Paul gives the truth again. Everything is clean, remember verse 14? In verse 14, he said something similar to what he shares now.
    11. IVP: The issue here is not eating meat or drinking wine per se, but that Gentile meat (suspected of having been offered to idols or not having the blood properly drained) and Gentile drink (some of it possibly used for libations to gods) were suspect to Jews. But like a good rhetorician, Paul calls his readers to concede his point even in the most extreme case, requiring abstinence from all meat or wine (and if it applies to the extreme, “how much more”—following a standard style of argument—to all lesser cases). (Although some Jewish groups abstained from wine for periods of time—Num 6:3; cf. Jer 35:5–6—diluted wine was a normal part of meals; thus the language here is probably hyperbolic.)[5]
    12. Do not… this is a command.
    13. “For the sake of food…” In other words, there are more important matters to champion. But look at the rest. For the sake of food, do not destroy the work of God. Wow! God is at work and when we argue and separate over conscious issues, we are hurting what God is doing.
    14. Even though it is clean it is wrong to make someone stumble.
      1. Now, I want to spend a few minutes on this verse.
      2. It is wrong to knowingly make someone stumble.
      3. I don’t think Paul expected them to go to the marketplace looking around and self conscious that they would make someone stumble.
      4. A contemporary example might be if you know someone is offended by alcohol don’t drink alcohol in front of them. Or, if you know someone is an alcoholic don’t drink alcohol in front of them. Don’t do anything that would trigger their alcohol addiction.
      5. However, I have heard people take this too far. One person might think they are free to drink alcohol and said person only has 1 glass of wine. However, others would say they better not even buy alcohol because suppose the cashier is offended by it.
      6. That is not the point of this passage. We ought not to knowingly be a stumbling block.
    15. Verse 21 goes into more detail. If meat is a stumbling block, or wine, or anything, don’t partake.
    16. We willingly alter our pace of walking while leading a small child by the hand so he or she will not stumble. How much more should we be willing to alter our Christian walk for the benefit of a weaker brother or sister in Christ whom we are leading.[6]
    17. Verse 22: This is interesting. The faith you have keep between you and God. In other words, if you feel that you have the freedom, keep it between you and God.
    18. Blessed… that is nice. Blessed is the man who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves. In other words, blessed is the one walking blamelessly, not causing strife.
    19. Verse 23: whatever does not come from faith is sin. In other words, if someone’s conscious says it is wrong, they must abstain.
    20. Cicero (De Officiis 1.30) says: “It is an excellent rule that they give who urge us not to do a thing, when there is doubt whether it is right or wrong; for righteousness shines with a brilliance of its own, but doubt is a sign that we are thinking of a possible wrong.”[7]
    21. “Faith” here as in verses 1 and 22 does not refer to the teachings of Christianity but to what a person believes to be the will of God for him. If a person does what he believes to be wrong, even though it is not wrong in itself, it becomes sin for him. He has violated what he believes to be God’s will. His action has become an act of rebellion against God for him.[8]
  4. Applications:
    1. We must not cause harm over conscious issues.
    2. We must not be judgmental of another believer over things that the Bible does not clearly condemn.
    3. If someone does not feel free to eat or drink certain substances we must respect them.
    4. At the same time, we must understand that we are not bound by a law, and all things are clean (Romans 14:14, 20; 1 Timothy 4:4).
    5. We must be walking in love and be less critical (verse 15).
    6. We must not allow the freedom to be spoken of as evil because of our lack of love (verse 16).
    7. We must seek God’s Kingdom, knowing that God’s Kingdom is about right living, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (verse 17).
    8. We must be seeking peace (verse 17).
    9. We must be seeking peace more than discord (verse 17).
    10. We must be walking by the Spirit (verse 17 and Galatians 5:22-23).
    11. Verses 19-23 seem to be a restatement for emphasis and that reminds us of how important these matters are.
    12. We must not destroy the work of God, in other words because trivial matters harm what God is doing in a believer’s life.
    13. We must obey our conscious so long as it accords with Scripture (verse 23). Further, we must not cause another person to go against his or her conscious.

I began this message talking about the Tough Mudder. The Tough Mudder is a competition that tries to put stumbling blocks in the path of each person. There is one in which you slide down into ice water. There is another one in which you get electrocuted. My brother is crazy, he has finished three of them! I, on the other hand, have competed in normal races. I have ran 10k’s and 5k’s and three marathons. In those races we run with no unnatural obstacles. The Christian life is a marathon and the goal, in the Christian life, is that we try not to put stumbling blocks in each other’s spiritual lives.

Pray.


[1] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 339.

[2] Dr. White, Cedarville University Chapel message on 09.17.2021

v. verse

[3] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1768.

[4] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995).

[5] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Ro 14:20–21.

[6] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 14:21.

[7] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 341.

[8] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 14:23.

Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another (Romans 14:1-12)

Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another (Romans 14:1-12)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, October 9 and Sunday, October 10, 2021

Jefferson shared:

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.[1]

In Colson’s book “Who Speaks for God” he writes about a 60 minutes interview with Mike Wallace and Yehiel De-Nur. De-Nur was a Jewish writer and Holocaust survivor. He spent 2 years at Auschwitz. In 1961 at the Nuremberg trials, on June 7, 1961 he came in the courtroom for the Eichmann trial.

In his opening statement, Dinur presented a different opinion about the Holocaust than other well-known Holocaust writers (such as Elie Wiesel), by presenting the Holocaust as a unique and out-of-this-world event, saying: “I do not see myself as a writer who writes literature. This is a chronicle from the planet Auschwitz. I was there for about two years. The time there is not the same as it is here, on Earth. (…) And the inhabitants of this planet had no names. They had no parents and no children. They did not wear [clothes] the way they wear here. They were not born there and did not give birth… They did not live according to the laws of the world here and did not die. Their name was the number K. Tzetnik.”[5]

After saying so, De-Nur collapsed and gave no further testimony.

In an interview on 60 Minutes, aired 6 February 1983, De-Nur recounted the incident of his fainting at the Eichmann trial to host Mike Wallace.

Was Dinur overcome by hatred? Fear? Horrid memories? No; it was none of these. Rather, as Dinur explained to Wallace, all at once he realized Eichmann was not the god-like army officer who had sent so many to their deaths. This Eichmann was an ordinary man. “I was afraid about myself,” said Dinur. “… I saw that I am capable to do this. I am … exactly like he.”[2]

Again: In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.[3]

Today, we look at a passage dealing with style, not principle. But we must realize how corrupt and evil we can be.

My theme today is:

We are not to judge other believers regarding matters of conscious.

  1. Don’t pass judgment on one another (verses1-8).
    1. So, we have been going through Romans. Last week we talked about fulfilling the royal law, that is to love one another. Now, Paul continues how to love.
    2. Verse 1 seems to be more of a summary. Verse 1 reads (Romans 14:1): As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.
    3. What does he mean by weak in faith? He will tell us in a few minutes. This is going to be about conscious issues.
    4. Paul knew that we have the freedom. It seems that this is really about eating food sacrificed to idols. One source shares: The weak were Jewish believers who felt that eating meat offered to a false god was an act of idolatry, so they ate vegetables only (v. 2).[4]
    5. This subject is addressed again in 1 Corinthians chapters 8-10. As part of a seminary class, I read someone’s dissertation on this topic.
    6. Paul believes as Christians they have the freedom to eat the food sacrificed to idols, but this does not mean participating in the idolatrous practice. In 1 Corinthians 10:25 Paul writes about eating meat that was sold at the market place.
    7. Regardless, I believe the principle is to welcome others. Paul says, the one who is weak in faith welcome him. But notice the rest of the passage, “not to quarrel over opinions.” Paul says welcome him, but don’t quarrel.
    8. LET IT GO.
    9. It needs to be noted that what Paul is writing about here concerns matters of conscious. This is NOT about things where the Scripture is very clear. If we talk to a brother or sister in Christ about something commanded in Scripture God is the judge and we are merely the mouthpiece.
    10. Again, the Moody Bible Commentary informs us: Food was offered in honor of the gods, and surplus fare was sold to the markets to provide income for the priests and maintain the temples. Gentile believers had the conviction (faith) that it was permissible to eat this meat. Paul directed the stronger Gentile believers to fellowship with Jewish believers, but not to coerce them to adopt the stronger brother’s position (v. 1).[5]
    11. Don’t judge based on diet (verses 2-4).
    12. Look at verse 2 (Romans 14:2): One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.
    13. Why does the weak person eat only vegetables? It is because the weak person believes that it is wrong to eat meat sold in the marketplace that had been part of a sacrifice to demons. In 1 Corinthians 8-10 Paul says that they are free to eat. But here Paul is saying not to judge one another. If another’s conscious does not allow it, that is fine.
    14. Look at verse 3 (Romans 14:3): Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.
    15. Paul is giving more detail of what he introduced in verse 1. Don’t despise one another. Don’t judge the person who eats the meat sacrificed to idols (gentiles), God has welcomed him.
    16. Look now at verse 4 (Romans 14:4): Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
    17. He is now asking questions. We are not in a place to pass judgment. It is before his own master that he stands or falls. The Lord will make him stand.  
    18. Don’t judge based on days (verses 5-6).
    19. Look at verse 5 (Romans 14:5): One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
    20. Now, Paul switches to days.
    21. He says that each person must be convinced in his own mind. It appears that Jewish people thought they had to follow sabbath days and certain holy days, though the gentiles did not feel obligated to do so.  
    22. The Bible does not give a direct command on this issue.
    23. Look at verse 6 (Romans 14:6): The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
    24. Paul is saying that they both want to honor the Lord. The one who observes the day, observes in honor of the Lord. The one who eats meat gives thanks to God; therefore, honoring the Lord. The one abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord.
    25. The reason: we belong to the Lord (verses 7-9).
    26. Look at verse 7 (Romans 14:7): For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.
    27. We don’t live for ourselves. We are not to live for ourselves. We must always live for the Lord.
    28. Look at verse 8 (Romans 14:8): For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
    29. That is self-explanatory. Whether we live or we die, we are the Lord’s.
    30. Then, look at verse 9 (Romans 14:9): For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
    31. Christ died and He lived again, through the resurrection. This is so that He is Lord of the dead and the living. What does that mean? He is Lord on both sides of eternity.
  2. Every believer will be judged by the Savior (verses 10-12).
    1. Now look at verse 10 (Romans 14:10): Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God
    2. Paul is now appealing to the ultimate judge, God.
    3. NET Bible: The judgment seat (βῆμα, bēma) was a raised platform mounted by steps and sometimes furnished with a seat, used by officials in addressing an assembly or making pronouncements, often on judicial matters. The judgment seat was a familiar item in Greco-Roman culture, often located in the agora, the public square or marketplace in the center of a city.[12]
    4. Look at verses 11-12 (Romans 14:11-12): for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
    5.  “as it is written” signals an Old Testament quotation.
    6. Every knee shall bow to God. Every tongue shall confess to God.
    7. This is a quote from Isaiah 45:23.
    8. Verse 12: we will all give an account to God.
    9. Dr. Constable points out: There is a strong emphasis on recognizing Jesus’ lordship in our lives in these verses. The word “Lord” occurs seven times in verses 5–9.[14]
  3. Applications:
    1. We are not to pass judgment regarding matters of conscious.
    2. This means if someone believes they must follow Jewish dietary practices (verses 1-4), we must not look down upon that person.
    3. If one person believes they are to follow other ascetic dietary practices (verses 1-4), we must not look down on them (some believe this could have to do with people who followed certain ascetic practices).
    4. If one believes they are okay to eat not following those practices they must be careful not to look down on others (verses 1-4).
    5. If one believes they should observe Saturday, or Sunday, as holy we must not look down upon them (verses 5-8).
    6. If one (the strong) believes they are free from observance of certain days they must not look down on others (verses 5-8).
    7. We must do whatever we do in honor of the Lord (verse 6).
    8. We must live for the Lord (verse 8).
      1. Are we living for the Lord?
      2. Are we organizing our affairs around the Lord?
      3. Are we making Jesus Lord of our life?
      4. What is in the center of our life?
      5. Jesus must be the center. Oftentimes we put our self in the center. Imagine your life like the solar system. Oftentimes we put ourselves in the center and everything revolves around self: hobbies revolve around self, sports revolve around self, job revolves around self, family revolves around self, church and Jesus revolves around self. If that is our life what can happen? You get busy and your relationship with Jesus can easily spin off of our mini-solar system. What needs to happen is that Jesus is in the middle COMBINED with self. Everything revolves around Jesus.
    9. We must recognize we will all submit to God as the ultimate judge (verses 9-12).
    10. We must not judge one another concerning matters of conscious.
    11. If the Word of God is clear about something anytime we talk about anything we must quote Scripture.
    12. We can easily substitute other things in place of days and food. What about alcohol? I was taught that Christians are not to drink alcohol. This was wrongful Bible teaching based off an inaccurate teaching that the alcohol in the Bible was non-fermented. Upon a little bit of study, I soon realized that was a wrong teaching. This passage is saying don’t judge someone regarding that. Now, don’t misunderstand, the Bible is clear about drunkenness. The Bible clearly calls that very sinful, but if someone drinks in clear and careful moderation that is not wrong. Don’t think someone is a better Christian because they have liberty to have a glass of wine with dinner, or because they abstain.
    13. We can apply other things. We can indirectly apply this to how one dresses for worship. Right, one thinks they must dress up, another thinks they are free to wear shorts to church.
    14. We can apply this to other sensitive topics. Vaccines… Facial coverings… In these cases, we are indirectly applying this principle. The principle is being applied.  
    15. The point is clear: DO NOT JUDGE ON MATTERS OF CONSCIOUS.

Again, from Jefferson: In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.[15]

Remember the illustration from the beginning of this message?

Yehiel De-Nur. De-Nur was a Jewish writer and Holocaust survivor. He spent 2 years at Auschwitz. In 1961 at the Nuremberg trials, on June 7, 1961 he came in the courtroom for the Eichmann trial.

He gave testimony and then collapsed. Why?

Was Dinur overcome by hatred? Fear? Horrid memories? No; it was none of these. Rather, as Dinur explained to Wallace, all at once he realized Eichmann was not the god-like army officer who had sent so many to their deaths. This Eichmann was an ordinary man. “I was afraid about myself,” said Dinur. “… I saw that I am capable to do this. I am … exactly like he.”[16]

Dallas Willard was answering “why are Christians so mean”? He said we are mean because we think we have to be right. So, we must settle down and not quarrel over things not commanded in Scripture.

The Scriptures from Romans 12:9-10:

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Prayer


[1] Thomas Jefferson, Christian Reader, Vol. 34.

[2] Swindoll shared the illustration. I tried to find it in writing but could only find wikipedia. I think it is accurate since Swindoll also quoted it (Insight for Living 09.08.2021).

[3] Thomas Jefferson, Christian Reader, Vol. 34.

 

[4] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1767.

v. verse

[5] Ibid.

[6] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 14:2.

[7] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 14:2.

[8] https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/how-not-to-correct-a-fellow-christian?utm_campaign=Daily%20Email&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=131213461&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9_Z88-JEcVlIoZninEQCskcovWMMH8B57fDjiVKq9IYZkgjIl27rRYg0I8CSLt87LUedMJUkGVUmqADl5aqQBx3qbOLQ&utm_content=131213461&utm_source=hs_email

 

[9] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1767.

[10] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1802.

[11] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 14:9.

[12] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Ro 14:7–10.

[13] https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/how-not-to-correct-a-fellow-christian?utm_campaign=Daily%20Email&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=131213461&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9_Z88-JEcVlIoZninEQCskcovWMMH8B57fDjiVKq9IYZkgjIl27rRYg0I8CSLt87LUedMJUkGVUmqADl5aqQBx3qbOLQ&utm_content=131213461&utm_source=hs_email

[14] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 14:12.

[15] Thomas Jefferson, Christian Reader, Vol. 34.

[16] Swindoll shared the illustration. I tried to find it in writing but could only find wikipedia. I think it is accurate since Swindoll also quoted it (Insight for Living 09.08.2021).

Fulfilling the Royal Law (Romans 13:8-14)

Fulfilling the Royal Law (Romans 13:8-14)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, October 2 and Sunday, October 3, 2021

Do you ever think about Christian conduct? How are we to behave?

Our conduct is to be decent and honorable (v. 13). It must be acceptable in the open light of day. One example is Augustine. In his Confessions Augustine tells of his conversion to Christianity (viii.12). In a.d. 386, at a time when he was deeply moved by a desire to break from his old way of living, he sat weeping in the garden of a friend in Milan. Suddenly he heard a child singing Tolle, lege! Tolle, lege! (“Take up and read! Take up and read!”). He picked up a scroll lying there, and his eyes fell on Rom 13:13–14, “Not in orgies and drunkenness …” Immediately his heart was flooded with a clear light, and the darkness of doubt vanished. No other theologian has made a greater contribution to the theology of the Western world.[1]

The passage today talks about these ideas.

My theme today is:

Christian living means loving our neighbor and clothing ourselves with Jesus, making no provision for the flesh.

  1. Owe love to others (verses 8-10).
    1. Let’s read verses 8-10: Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
    2. Paul had just been writing about being submissive to authorities and now he begins to write about motivation. What motivates us, and how do we respond? Love must motivate us.
    3. We must owe loves.
    4. ESV Study note: Verses 8–10 focus on the Christian’s relationship to the Mosaic law. Owe no one anything links back to v. 7, and thus the command does not prohibit all borrowing but means that one should always “pay what is owed” (see v. 7), fulfilling whatever repayment agreements have been made. The debt one never ceases paying is the call to love one another. Indeed, love fulfills what the Mosaic law demands.[3]
    5. New American Commentary: The Christian is to allow no debt to remain outstanding except the one that can never be paid off—“the debt to love one another.”76 The obligation to love has no limit. We are to love not only those of the family of God but our “fellowman” as well. As God’s love extended to all, so must our concern reach out to believer and nonbeliever alike (cf. Matt 5:44–45).[4]
    6. We must love.
    7. What do we owe? Do we owe service? Do we owe money? Do we owe Bible teaching? No, this passage says that we owe love.
    8. For the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. Jesus said this (Matthew 22:38-40). James 2:8 is very similar as well.
    9. In verse 9 Paul lists some of the ten commandments (see Ex. 20:13ff and Deut 5:17ff) and says they are summed up in “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
    10. Paul lists 4 of the commandments dealing with human relations.
    11. You shall love your neighbor as yourself comes from: Lev 19:18; Matt 19:19.
    12. Remember in Luke 10 Jesus was asked “Who is my neighbor?” and Jesus responded with the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). The Good Samaritan served his enemy and so even our enemy is our neighbor.  
    13. In verse 10, Romans 13:10, he says that love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
    14. If we love someone, we do not make fun of them. If we love someone, we do not harm them physically. If we love someone, we do not try to have competing comments that are one-uppers. If we love someone, we care about them. If we love someone, we want them to know Jesus. If we love someone, we won’t cheat them out of money. If we love someone, we want the best for their children.
    15. Think of how you feel if something bad happens to your children. Go further, think of your children as a young, innocent, vulnerable child, how did you feel if they were mocked or harmed? We should strive to love everyone that way. We, as Christians, ought not to harm anyone. We should try to think of all people like an innocent vulnerable person and then I think we are more likely to love them.
    16. By the way, I think God likely thinks of us that way.
    17. Gal 5:14; James 2:8 are good cross references.
    18. augustine: The rule of love is that one should wish his friend to have all the good things he wants to have himself and should not wish the evils to befall his friend which he wishes to avoid himself. He shows this benevolence to all men. No evil must be done to any. Love of one’s neighbor works no evil. Let us then love even our enemies as we are commanded, if we wish to be truly unconquered. of true religion 87.[5]
  2. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ (verses 11-14).
    1. Now, Paul challenges them to step up. Now, Paul wants them to think in a wartime way. The time is coming for them to wake up in the faith.
    2. Look at verse 11, Romans 13:11: Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.
    3. Do you ever feel like you are sleep walking through the day?
    4. Do you ever drive somewhere and it was such habit you don’t really remember passing certain roads?
    5. Do you ever feel like you are almost in overdrive through life?
    6. Paul is urging us not to live the Christian life like that.
    7. It is time to wake up. This is a common exhortation for Paul: 1 Cor 15:34; Eph 5:14; 1 Thess 5:6.[6]
    8. ESV Study note: Sleep here is a metaphor for a life of moral carelessness and laxity. Salvation is viewed as a future reality here, and it draws nearer every day. the day is at hand. The nearness of the end summons Christians to put off all evil works and to live in the light.[7]
    9. Salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. What does that mean? I think it means Jesus’ coming is getting closer and our death is getting closer.
    10. Verse 12 expands on this, Romans 13:12: The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
    11. There is often a contrast of light and darkness in the Bible. Darkness is sin, and wrong, and evil. Light is good.
    12. So, we know Jesus, get rid of the works of the flesh, of the devil, of sin, and live for Jesus.
    13. Look at verse 13, Romans 13:13: Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.
    14. Walk properly… This means walk as Christians. Again, it is daytime, we know Jesus.
    15. Paul lists some of the sinful ways we are not to walk. Don’t walk in orgies and drunkenness.
    16. Don’t walk in sexual immorality.
    17. Don’t walk in sensuality. This is literally debauchery, that is excessive indulgence, sensual pleasures.
    18. Dr. Constable: The practices he urged us to avoid here were common in Corinth where Paul wrote this epistle. He observed them constantly. Intemperance often leads to sexual sin that frequently results in contention and quarreling.[9]
    19. Now, let’s look at verse 14, Romans 13:14: But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
    20. This verse really sums up verses 11-14.
    21. Put on the Lord Jesus.
    22. It is like we are clothed with Jesus. It is like Jesus is our uniform.
    23. ESV Study note: The metaphor of putting on clothing implies not just imitating Christ’s character but also living in close personal fellowship with him.[10]
    24. This passage is famous for bringing Augustine of Hippo to salvation (Confessions, 8:12.22).[11]
    25. Don’t give the flesh any chance. The flesh is the worldly ways. We are to be different. Why? Because we love one another.
    26. Don’t give the flesh any opportunity to gratify its desires. They are not of God.
    27. This is a common exhortation: Job 29:14; Gal 3:27; Eph 4:24; Col 3:10, 12[12]
  3. Applications:
    1. Do we aim to love another (verse 8)?
    2. Do we realize that we will always owe love to others (verse 8)?
    3. Do we view other people as created in the image of God, or do we objectify people? When we view them as created in the image of God it will help us to love them.
    4. How do we view that waitress and waiter? Chik-Fil-A, that is God’s chicken, once had a training video. It showed people coming up to the counter to order. Over their heads a little bubble was shown that shared what each person faced that day. For example, this person just got news that their husband died. This person’s child was just diagnosed with cancer. This person just got laid off of their job.
    5. We must remember everyone has something they are dealing with and they are all worthy of grace. We need grace too.
    6. We must give up the old ways and clothe ourselves with Christ (verse 14).
    7. This week, try to be less demanding and try to be extra gracious wherever you go. This week give a good tip at a restaurant even when the service is not worthy. This week try to think of others as created in the image of God.

Prayer


[1] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 248.

57 M. Volf, Exclusion and Embrace (Nashville: Abingdon, 1996), p. 276.

[2] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 320.

[3] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2180.

76 Moule says the debt of love is not like a forgotten account that is owed to a lender but like interest on capital that is continuously due and payable (Romans, 358).

[4] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 245–246.

[5] James Stuart Bell, ed., Ancient Faith Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bibles, 2019), 1409.

[6] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

[7] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2180.

[8] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 13:12.

[9] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 13:13.

[10] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2180.

[11] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1802.

[12] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

Submission to Authorities (Romans 13:1-7)

Submission to Authorities (Romans 13:1-7)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, September 25 and Sunday, September 26, 2021

Did any of you ever watch the show Andy Griffith? I used to watch that show. It was/is a comical and wholesome show. There was one particular episode in which Barney gives Gomer a ticket. Right after giving him the ticket Barney violates the law by a U-turn. Gomer immediately says, “Citizen’s arrest, citizen’s arrest!”

Well, today’s passage gets into the place of government in our life. God’s order is: God-State-people. The state submits to God, the people submit to the state. However, whether or not the state submits to God, we are to submit to the state. Let’s look at this passage.

My theme today is:

Christians are called to be submissive to authorities.

  1. Be subject to the government (Romans 13:1).
    1. Witherington footnote: It is very interesting to compare what Paul says here and how he describes Christian community life to what Tertullian (Apology 39) says at the end of the second century: “We are an association bound together by our religious profession. … We meet together as an assembly and society. … We pray for the emperors. … We gather together to read our sacred writings. … After the gathering is over the Christians go out as if they had come from a school of virtue.”[1]
    2. We are now in the ethics and moral section of Romans. Now, Paul addresses the government.
    3. Look at verse 1, Romans 13:1, Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
    4. There is a passive command and then there are two statements about governing authorities.
    5. I said that it is a passive command because the verb directly translated “let be subject” is an imperative command in the passive mood.
    6. It is a command, but it comes off more gently, “let every person…” He is not saying, “do this,” or “don’t do that.”
    7. The command is that we are to be subject to the government. This is throughout Scripture.
    8. Eph 5:21 tells us to be subject to one another.
    9. Titus 3:1 and 1 Peter 2:13 also tells us to be subject to authorities.
    10. Hebrews 13:7 and 17 tell us to submit to church leadership.
    11. Da 2:21 He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding
    12. Da 4:17 The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.’
    13. Jn 19:11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”
    14. Now, the next two statement are critical.
    15. “For,: this means he is about to explain something.
    16. There is no authority except God. What does that mean?
    17. It means every government is under the sovereignty of God. He has a purpose. He can use it.
    18. This does not mean that God endorses corrupt leadership. The Roman leadership at that time was very corrupt.
    19. This means that God is the ultimate authority. There is no authority above God. Every leader will have to submit to God.
    20. Those that exists have been instituted by God.
    21. We may all know that the kings during the Middle Ages would use this verse to keep people in submission.
    22. However, this is only endorsing the system of government. This is not endorsing an evil monarch.
    23. God ordained/setup the idea of government.
  2. Why (Romans 13:2-5)?
    1. Look at verse 2, Romans 13:2: Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
    2. There is an inference here, therefore is a logical, inferential, conjunction. Whoever resists authority, resists what God has appointed. What? What he means is that when we resist authority, we are resisting the government and God has appointed government. This does not mean resisting President Biden, or President Trump, or President Obama is resisting God because of them. No, we are resisting the government and God appointed a system of governance.
    3. If we resist, we will incur, that is be subject to, judgment, that is discipline.
    4. CSB: The Jewish nation rebelled against Rome in two costly wars, bringing judgment upon themselves at a cost of more than one million lives. Government is ordained by God to reward good and punish evil, providing peace and order for those whom it serves. The sword alludes to capital punishment. A government that rewards evil and punishes good will not long survive, for evil is innately destructive. “If a ruler listens to lies, all his officials will be wicked” (Pr 29:12).[2]
    5. Look at verses 3-4, Romans 13:3-4: For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
    6. This is very practical. If you do good the rulers will not bother you.
    7. Now, anyone of us could think of the exception, but we make rules based on the norms, not the exceptions. We could think of the times when someone was doing good and faced discipline, but most of the time, if we are doing what is right, we will be okay.
    8. If we do wrong, we are right to be afraid. The government does not bear the sword in vain, that means for no reason.
    9. The ruler is the servant of God. Meaning, by serving in the government, whether one realizes it or not, he/she is a servant of God. They are in God’s system.
    10. The leader is an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
    11. This means that oftentimes God punishes wickedness through His people.
    12. This is really all about common grace. Generally speaking, even non-Christians recognize right and wrong and can carry it out in government.
    13. Verse 5, Romans 13:5: Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
    14. This sums this section up. Therefore, is an inference.
    15. When we are subject to the government by obedience, we avoid God’s wrath. How? In obeying the government, we are obeying God’s system to keep up moral order in this fallen world.
    16. It is also better for our conscience because in obeying the government we are doing right.
  3. In obeying the government we pay taxes (Romans 13:6-7).
    1. Now, Paul deals with taxes.
    2. Look at verses 6-7: For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
    3. “For because of this,” because of what?
    4. Because of the government system which was instituted by God. We pay taxes because God setup government as part of His common grace and natural law.
    5. When did God setup government?
    6. Genesis 1:28-31; 2:24-25, He setup government with the family.  
    7. In Genesis 2:15 God told Adam to take care of the garden.
    8. In Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy God setup a system of government for the Israelites.
    9. Dr. Constable: God has established three institutions to control life in our dispensation: the family (Gen. 2:18–25), the civil government (Gen. 9:1–7), and the church (Acts 2). In each institution there are authorities to whom we need to submit for God’s will to go forward. Women are not the only people God commands to be submissive or supportive. Male and female children, citizens, and church members also need to demonstrate a submissive spirit.[3]
    10. God also put it in our hearts that we need government. Meaning, God taught us that through common grace.
    11. Again, in verse 6, authorities are ministers of God, again because they are taking care of God’s system.
    12. Verse 7: pay what is owed to them.
    13. Taxes to whom taxes are owed… taxes to government. Jesus addresses this in: Matt 22:21; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25[4]
    14. Revenue to whom revenue is owed…Pay your boss, pay those who you owe money to.
    15. Respect to whom respect is owed…respect leadership…
    16. Honor to whom honor is owed…
    17. There is a principle, it is subsidiarity. This means the closest people to a situation are most equipped to handle the situation. Your family is most equipped to take care of the needs of your family. Poland is most equipped to handle the needs of Poland. Ohio is most equipped to handle the needs of Ohio. It is not good to micromanage.
    18. The dictionary definition is:
    19. the quality or state of being subsidiary
    20. a principle in social organization holding that functions which are performed effectively by subordinate or local organizations belong more properly to them than to a dominant central organization.

Applications:

  1. We must obey the authorities.
  2. We must understand that God setup the system of governance so resisting authorities is resisting God.
  3. We must even submit to corrupt authorities. There is not an exception given for authorities that are corrupt or that we do not like.
  4. The only exception is when there is a conflict we are to obey the higher power, which is God (Acts 5:29).
  5. We must pay our taxes (verse 6).
  6. We must pay revenue to whom revenue is owed (verse 7).
  7. We must pay respect to whom respect is owed (verse 7).
  8. We must give honor to whom honor is owed (verse 7).

Prayer


[1] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004).

[2] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1801.

[3] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 13:1.

[4] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).