Romans

Salvation for the Gentiles, 3


THE BLESSINGS OF SALVATION

Romans 8:16-30, Glory awaits us
Romans 8:31-39, God loves us
Romans 9:1-13, Israel was privileged to be chosen by God
Romans 9:14-24, God is mercifully patient with our sinful selves
Romans 9:25-33, God saves all those who have faith in him
Romans 10:1-13, Moses pointed to Jesus
Romans 10:13-21, The importance of preaching
Romans 11:1-15, Of course God has not rejected the Jews!
Romans 11:16-32, Instead, temporary disobedience of the Jews led to salvation of the Gentiles
Romans 11:33-35, God is great; God is good!

BEHAVE APPROPRIATELY TO YOUR SALVATION

Romans 12:1-8, The relationship between worship, grace, and behavior
Romans 12:9-21, Love your neighbor
Romans 13:1-7, Obey civil authorities
Romans 13:8-14, Love your neighbor
Romans 14:1 – 15:7, You have a particular duty to love those who are weaker in faith than you are

PAUL'S MINISTRY TO THE PAGANS

Romans 15:8-13, God loves the pagans, too
Romans 15:14-21, God sent Paul to the pagans
Romans 15:22-33, Paul really wants to visit the church in Rome
Romans 16:1-16, Hello to everybody
Romans 16:17-27, Postscripts

More of Romans

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THE BLESSINGS OF SALVATION

Romans 8:16-30, Glory awaits us (2/13/17)

Time out. Paul tends to write very long sentences, with clauses, subordinate clauses, asides, and examples all jammed into one lump. Verse numbers typically break these lumps up into several pieces, and translators often break them up into several sentences that may or may not follow the verse numbers. As a very rough rule of thumb, you may assume that any verse starting with and, for, because, or but is really all one piece with the previous verse. This passage is an example of why, left to my own devices, I would translate Romans using a lot of bullets, parenthesis, indents, and indented indents! I went back and picked up vss. 16-17, because vss. 18-23 are really a series of “bullet points” elaborating on 16-17. Verse 24b is the start of the next section, and so on with vss. 26 and 28. It’s also a great example of why you really need to read at least 10 verses before and after whatever you are interested in – especially in the letters of Paul!

“All things work together for good for those who love God and who are called according to his purpose,” true, but that simple summary rests on a complicated structure of the suffering of Christ, the redemption of creation, hope in the dark, weakness, aid and comfort from the Spirit, conformation to the image of Christ, and calling and justification. “All things” really does mean “all things,” including a bunch of things we might not enjoy.

Romans 8:31-39, God loves us (2/14/17)

A common cliché is that “God is on our side,” usually meaning, “we are right and they are wrong, so we will win.” Paul says something slightly different, namely that God is for us and loves us; therefore neither tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, nor sword can separate us from the love of Christ. They may well separate us from this earthly life – but even death will not separate us from the love of God. Romans 8:38-39 is one of the greatest affirmations of faith ever made.


Romans 9:1-13, Israel was privileged to be chosen by God (2/15/17)

Paul’s greatest grief was his frequent failure to convince his fellow-Jews that the Messiah had come. All God’s promises had been made to the Jews, but now they were rejecting the fulfillment of those promises. The only light that Paul could see in the situation was that God used the opportunity to save Gentiles as well.

Paul uses Jewish scripture, our Old Testament, to show that God always intended to include the Gentiles in his plan for salvation. Abraham had many children (Hagar’s son Ishmael, Isaac, and, after Sarah’s death, the children of Keturah). But the promises came only to the offspring of Isaac. Isaac and Rebekah had two sons, but the promises came only to the offspring of Jacob. Paul is demonstrating that God can save whomever he wants to save – the Jews were saved by God’s choice, and they are not in a position to deny salvation to the Gentiles!


Romans 9:14-24, God is mercifully patient with our sinful selves (2/16/17)

Paul continues to justify the salvation of the Gentiles on the basis on the Jewish scripture.

We have come to a tricky little argument that absolutely requires us to refer to the Old Testament, specifically to Jeremiah 18:1-17. Paul pretends to argue with a foolish and ungrateful person who says that if he sins, it’s all God’s fault, because no one can resist the will of God. Paul answers, “God made you like a potter makes a pot. Who are you to question God?” Well, at this point I might feel a little sympathetic to the foolish person’s point of view, to be honest.

However, remember that Paul is arguing from the Jewish scripture. If I go back to Jeremiah 18, where the image of God as a potter with power and authority over the pot originates, I discover a really important point. Namely, God justly and mercifully rebuilds the “pots” depending on what the pots are doing! If an evil person – a bad pot – repents, God will take him back and build him up. If a good person – a good pot – turns to evil, God will turn his back on him. So, Paul concludes, God has been patient with the Gentiles for their good and to show the glory of his mercy. The foolish person has either forgotten or misunderstood the image of the potter in his own holy scripture!

Romans 9:25-33, God saves all those who have faith in him (2/17/17)

Paul continues to pound home the point – by using scripture – that salvation is available to anyone who has faith. Those who have faith are acceptable to God – Jew or Gentile. Those who do not have faith are unacceptable to God – Jew or Gentile.

Romans 10:1-13, Moses pointed to Jesus (2/20/17)

One reason that Paul’s arguments can be difficult to follow is that he expects us to know the entire context for the scripture that he quotes, and that’s why I’ve been putting the references in for you in brackets. Another reason is that sometimes he quotes something and then applies it in a completely new way; for example, he applies the quotations from Deuteronomy in vss. 6-8 directly to Christ, even though in Deuteronomy Moses is talking about God’s commandments and God’s word. Well, maybe that’s not such a stretch for us, because we know Jesus as the Word, but we still have to think about it for a bit. It must have been very difficult for Paul’s readers, who didn’t yet have John’s gospel.

Fortunately, Paul’s main point is clear and easy to understand: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”

Romans 10:13-21, The importance of preaching (2/21/17)

Sometimes Paul argues backwards. Look at vss. 13-15. First, someone must be sent by God to preach. Second, people hear what is preached. Third, those who hear may believe. Fourth, believers call on him in whom they have believed. Finally, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Paul is working backwards from Joel’s conclusion.

Romans 11:1-15, Of course God has not rejected the Jews! (2/22/17)

After writing at length about God’s plan to save the Gentiles, Paul points out that by no means has God rejected the Jews! Rather, the temporary estrangement between God and some of the Jews has provided a wonderful opportunity for the message of salvation to be brought to the Gentiles. But, he says, if the current sad state of affairs has brought about the reconciliation of the world to God, think about the riches that would be brought forth by the acceptance of God’s plan by all Jews!

Romans 11:16-32, Instead, temporary disobedience of the Jews led to salvation of the Gentiles (2/23/17)

Paul’s continual reliance on the Old Testament shows that he has been speaking to Jewish Christians about God’s ancient plan to save both Jews and Gentiles through faith. Now he wants to say something specifically to Gentile Christians. It is this: Don’t get proud of yourself! Just remember that God was willing to cut off some of his own chosen people – the children of the covenant – because of their lack of faith, in order to let you in. What do you think will happen to you if your faith falters? Fortunately, God is merciful to all who have faith in him, even though all of us are disobedient.

Romans 11:33-35, God is great; God is good! (2/24/17)

Every once in a while Paul is so overcome by the greatness and majesty and goodness and mercy and glory of God that he just bursts into astonished praise. The praise chorus isn’t necessarily related to anything that went before or that comes after.

BEHAVE APPROPRIATELY TO YOUR SALVATION

Romans 12:1-8, The relationship between worship, grace, and behavior (2/27/17)

Jews are saved by faith. Gentiles are saved by faith. What are we going to do about it? Through the grace given to us, we are each going to use our gifts to the very best of our ability in the service of God, valuing not only our own gift but the gifts of our fellow-worshippers as well. Everybody has a gift; all gifts are necessary and valuable; put them to work! This section probably reminds you of 1 Corinthians 12.

Romans 12:9-21, Love your neighbor (2/28/17)

God saves both Jews and Gentiles by faith. What are we going to do about it? Love our neighbors. This section probably reminds you of 1 Corinthians 13.

Romans 13:1-7, Obey civil authorities (3/1/17)

God saves us; what are we going to do about it? Especially right now in the U.S.A., we need to memorize this little passage. Obey the law, pay your taxes, and respect elected officials.

Romans 13:8-14, Love your neighbor (3/2/17)

God saves us, and what are we going to do about it? Love our neighbors! The great thing about loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves is that we don’t have to remember any of the other rules.

Romans 14:1 – 15:7, You have a particular duty to love those who are weaker in faith than you are (3/3/17)

This is a complicated little passage with a lot of examples and repetition. The crux of the message is this: you have a particular duty to love those who are weaker in faith than you are. Love them in four primary ways: By the way, Paul isn’t talking about being a vegetarian in the modern sense of the word. He’s talking about not eating meat sacrificed to idols, which was often the only meat available. This passage is similar to 1 Corinthians 8. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, a church he had founded, he laid out informally a lot of material that is covered more formally in Romans.

PAUL'S MINISTRY TO THE PAGANS

Romans 15:8-13, God loves the pagans, too (3/6/2017)

Paul quote four scripture verses back to back to pound home the point that God always intended to save the Gentiles, as well as Jews, by sending the Messiah.

Romans 15:14-21, God sent Paul to the pagans (3/7/17)

You know, from what I’ve read about Romans and from reading the whole book several times, I’ve always had the idea that Paul was writing about the theology of justification by faith. Now that I’ve gone through the book more carefully, a little bit at a time, I no longer think that’s the main point of the letter.

Paul does talk about the crucial role of faith in salvation, for both Jews and Gentiles, but he mentions justification 15 times, the Jews only 14 times, and the Gentiles 29 times. What Paul mainly seems to be writing about is God’s gracious plan to save the Gentiles, in part by sending Paul to bring them the gospel!

Romans 15:22-33, Paul really wants to visit the church in Rome (3/8/17)

Paul didn’t found the church in Rome, but he’d heard a lot of good things about it, and (as we’ll see tomorrow) he had friends there. Plus, of course, Rome was the capital of a vast empire – encompassing most of modern Europe, the British Isles, and much of northern Africa and the modern Middle East. Do you suppose he just wanted to see the city?

Anyway, Paul was only interested in preaching the gospel where no one had done so before, and he had been so busy doing that that he had never made it to Rome. By this time, however, he and others had founded so many churches in the Middle East, Greece, Italy, and eastern northern Africa that he wasn’t able to find any more places to work. He decided to visit the church in Rome on his way to Spain. We don’t know whether he made it to Spain or not.


Romans 16:1-16, Hello to everybody (3/9/17)

Remember that Paul had never been to visit the church in Rome, and then notice that he greets more than 20 people by name! Apparently the early Christians traveled a lot, and apparently Paul kept in touch with everybody he ever met. I’ll just point out a couple of things for you to consider. Phoebe (vss. 1-2) is described in the English Standard Version as a “servant,” although the word in Greek is diakonos, which is often translated “deacon” for men.

Junia (a woman) and Andronicus (vs. 7) are here said to be known to the apostles; most translations have among the apostles, which looks to me like a much better reading of the Greek. The latter reading suggests that there were apostles we don’t necessarily know about, and certainly at least two that we don’t think about. This gives me the opportunity to remind you to read more than one translation, at least one modern and with footnotes.


Romans 16:17-27, Postscripts (3/10/17) After writing the body of his letter and sending greetings to everyone in the church at Rome, Paul and others add a series of postscripts. The first one warns the Romans against false doctrine. Although he writes about false doctrine in the letters to Timothy, Titus, and the Ephesians, his warning here appears more or less out of nowhere.

Then it’s back to the greetings. Eight of the brothers with Paul want to say “hi” to the church at Rome.

Finally, Paul ends with a doxology praising God and pointing out that God has always intended to reveal himself to the pagans.


More of Romans
Introduction; Salvation is not by Law or Circumcision.
Romans – Salvation is by Faith.
Romans – The blessings of Salvation are for both Jews and Greeks.

Copyright 2017 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB. The English Standard Version is Copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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