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Romans Chapter 8

We can be righteous only by following the Spirit

[Those who try to follow the Law or their own will still struggle with guilt and shame, but] there is no longer any judgment of guilt for those in the Anointed One, Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of Life in the Anointed One Jesus releases me from the law of sin and death. [When we make Jesus our Lord, we are married to him and become part of him, and the power of his life replaces the power sin and death formerly had over us.] For what the Law could not do since it was made ineffective by our flesh, God himself did. He gave his own son a body with fleshly human nature [so that he would be subject to temptation just like all men], and sin itself was overturned [when he did not give into it][He represented all of us, and we confirm this and receive this overturning of sin for ourselves, when we choose to follow him as our Lord. We then live in him and he lives in us. Sin no longer can dominate us.]

We can be righteous only by following the Spirit

In this way, the righteousness [required by] the Law was fulfilled in us, [because] we are the ones who don’t walk according to our fleshly human nature but instead walk according to the Spirit. [When we chose to follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit came inside of us and gave our heart and spirit new life. We were released from the penalty of sin, including the unrepented sin of our ancestors. As a result we are now free of guilt in God's eyes. The Spirit shows us how to live, and we can choose to follow the leading of the Spirit rather than following our old nature.] For those who focus on the things of their fleshly human nature will follow their flesh, and [those who focus on the things] of the Spirit will follow the Spirit. For being focused on the fleshly human nature [is] death and being focused on the Spirit [is] life and peace.

7 Because the fleshly mind is opposed to God [that is, it wants what it wants rather than trusting God], it is not obedient to God’s Law, nor can it ever be. In fact, those who are in the flesh [, focusing on what our human nature desires,] cannot please God. But you [believers who are reading or hearing this] are not [focused] in the flesh but in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. If anyone doesn’t have the Spirit of the Anointed One, then he [has not chosen Jesus as Lord and] does not belong to Him. 

[The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to connect us to all the fullness of God just like Jesus. As soon as someone decides to give their life to Jesus, the Spirit of God comes in and renews the heart and spirit of the believer and then resides in the believer to guide and empower. Therefore, if someone does not act as though guided by the Spirit, we may question if they have ever truly given their life to Jesus.]

10 Yet if the Anointed One is in you, [though] the body is dead through sin [since Adam’s sin brought death to all men], the Spirit is life [in you] through [the] righteousness [of Jesus who lived sinless and gave us his righteousness when we trusted him to stand in for us]. 11 In fact, since the Spirit of Him that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, [you can trust that] the one that raised the Anointed One from the dead will also bring life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who lives in you. [This life includes the ability to hear God and follow his way of life as well as to overcome the power of sickness and death.]

12 Therefore, brothers, we don’t owe it to our bodies to do what our bodies want, especially since if you live according to your body’s inclinations you will die. 13 But, if through the Spirit, you put to death the works of the body, you shall live. [If we are unrestrained and do what our bodies want then it kills our soul, but if instead we die to doing what we want, then our soul becomes more alive.]

The promise of future glory helps us past present suffering

14 For whichever ones among us who live following the Spirit are sons of God. For the Spirit we have received does not make us slaves again to fear [like Adam after he followed his flesh]. 15 But instead, the Spirit we have received makes us into adopted sons, so we cry out, “Daddy”, to our Father [turning towards him rather than running away in fear]16 The [Holy] Spirit brings a witness to our own spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if we are children, we are heirs – who will receive an inheritance from God, right along with the Anointed One. [Our inheritance includes God's declaration of our innocence, our right to be treated as God’s child, our inclusion in the family of believers, the ability to hear and to follow God, life forever with God, and the resurrection of our body. Our destiny, even during this life on earth, is to be the sons of God and walk in that sonship just like Jesus.]

The promise of future glory helps us past present suffering

If we are willing to suffer along with him [, denying ourselves what our flesh desires,] then we will also be glorified along with him. 18 [In fact,] I have figured out that whatever we suffer [, all the trials of this life, no matter how painful,] during this present time [on the earth] is a small price compared to the future glory yet to be revealed in us.

[This glory is progressive in its revelation. We get to share some of the glory in this life as we allow Jesus to work his works through us, which is also how we demonstrate we are God’s sons. But Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before him (Hebrews 12:2) – the glory of returning to his Father and heavenly home, but also the glory of so many followers joining him both in heaven and his future kingdom at the time of his return to the earth. Then, after his earthly kingdom will be the full and complete glory shown in us who follow him, and the earth itself will be replaced by a new earth greater than the garden of Eden. All of creation is waiting for the glory of that restoration and the end of the suffering of this present earth.]

All of creation waiting to be released

19 [In fact], all of creation is watching with eager expectancy for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For all that was created was subjected to a common sentence of decay and frustration, not through its own decision but because of God’s decision. [This was God’s judgment in response to Adam and Eve’s sin (Genesis 3:17). Not only all humans would be under this curse but all of creation.] [God allowed this,] 21 anticipating when creation itself would be set free from its slavery to corruption [and come] into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 For we know that the entire creation groans and suffers together [like a woman giving birth] right up to the present time. 23 [In fact,] not only creation but we also groan within ourselves. Even though we have received the Spirit as the down payment, we are waiting for [the final act of] our adoption, when our bodies are set free [and God gives us a resurrection body].

All of creation waiting to be released

24 For it was through expectant hope that we were saved, but our hope included what we have not yet seen, or else it wouldn’t be hope. [Our initial faith allowed us to believe in Jesus as our savior, and we have received many things that we now see as a result of that initial faith. We were born again, received a new heart, the Spirit came within us, we were set free from guilt, and we received guidance and courage from the Holy Spirit.  But our expectancy from our salvation includes much that we have yet to see, including our life in eternity and the resurrection of our body.] 25 If what we are hoping for we have not yet seen, we are waiting for it with patient expectancy. 

26 [I have already expressed how both the creation and our own selves are expectantly waiting and groaning in the pains of childbirth.] Likewise, the Spirit also helps us through our weakness, for we don’t even know what we should pray for, but the Spirit intercedes on our behalf with groanings deeper than words. For the one who searches all hearts, also knows the thoughts of the Spirit, and intercedes for the saints [believers] exactly in accordance with God’s will. [God inside us will pray the perfect prayer that moves God and expresses our heart and need.]

Nothing can keep us from God’s love and purpose

28 In fact, we know that for those who love God, those who are called [by God] to carry out his purpose, all things work together for good. [This does not mean as often supposed that life is supposed to be easy when we are following God – just the opposite is true. As we call out to God, and the Spirit shows us how to pray, God will work everything out to accomplish his purpose through us. Even the difficulties of this life God will use to grow us up in him and to help others. For God has a plan to perfect each who respond to his call.]

Nothing can keep us from God's love and purpose

29 For he determined in advance that they [the ones who have chosen to follow Jesus] would become just like his son, so that he [Jesus] would be the firstborn of many brothers. 30 These for whom he planned such a great destiny, he also called [to be used in his plan for saving the many who would follow them]. And those he called, he also declared righteous [so that they would no longer be held back by guilt and fear] and brought them to glory. [Just like for his son Jesus, the process of becoming glorified includes the willing submission of this life on earth for his sake in exchange for receiving a crown of glory in our eternal life as well as a resurrection body.]

31 What can we say about all this? If God has a plan to benefit us, who can stop it? 32 Since he [God] did not withhold his own son but gave him up for our sake, how can he not give us all things? [He gives us first reconciliation, then sonship, a calling to carry out his plan, innocence before God, eternal life, and the glory of a crown and a resurrection body.]

33 [The enemy, Satan, will attempt to bring all kinds of opposition against you, both in your thoughts and through people he manipulates to oppose you.] Who can bring an accusation against those God has chosen, since it is God [the judge] himself who has already declared them innocent! 34 Who can condemn us? For it is the Anointed One who died, and even better, who is risen again, and who is at the right hand [the favored position of power] of God, who is our defense attorney! [In the courts of heaven, your victory is assured.]

35 Who [or what] can separate us from the love of the Anointed One? [Can] trouble?   Or hardship? Or persecution? Or famine? Or poverty? Or anger? Or violence? 36 As the scripture says [Psalms 44:22], “We are in danger of death every day, counted as sheep already set aside for slaughter.” [For the sake of the Good News of Jesus, we are marked by the enemies of the Anointed One as those who should be destroyed, and we are willing just as he was willing to give our lives for the sake of sharing the good news.]

37 In fact, in all of these [challenges], we are more than conquerors, through him who loved us. [He inspired us by how he lived through challenges, and he strengthens us for our own challenges.] 38 I am convinced that nothing can separate us from the love of God [he has provided us] in the Anointed One, Jesus, our Lord. Death can’t [because we will be with him when our life on the earth is over]. Life can’t [because he is with us through every difficulty]. Angels can’t [because even those that rebelled and turned to darkness are no match for the power of God][Demonic and earthly] princes can’t [because whatever their rule over people on the earth, we who follow God are ruled and protected by God]. The present state of affairs can’t [because God works all things together for our good]. The future can’t [because God has a plan to prosper us and not to harm us]. Powers [astrological influences such as the planets and stars] can’t. 39 The heights or depths [highest or lowest points of objects on astrological charts] can’t. Anything else that was created can’t [for something created by God can’t be more influential than God himself][Every period of human history could describe forces people believed were arrayed against human success – gods, demons, astrological influences. Or human nature, genetic inheritance, disease, and environment. But though these are influential forces, none of these can stop God’s plan for an individual or for God’s people.]

1. The Old Testament teaches us about how the Mosaic Law (“the law of sin and death”) works, but how might you sum it up? How would you also sum up how the “law of the Spirit of Life in the Anointed One Jesus” works? What are the advantages of the second one versus the first? How do you get under the second one and out from under the first? [vs 1-6]

Romans Chapter 8 discussion questions

Discussion questions

2. If your “old man” died, why do we still have flesh that is attracted to sin? Why is a “born again” person able to not satisfy his flesh? What’s different? What’s the advantage of becoming a child of God.  [vs 7-14]

3. What kind of suffering do we go through when we follow the Spirit rather than following our flesh? What do you imagine the “glory” will be like of our eternal life that makes it so much worth the suffering in our earth life? [vs 15-18]

4. Why would God allow all of creation to go through decay and death and sin? Who are the “sons of God” and when and in what way will they be revealed? What is the Spirit interceding for “with groanings too deep for words”? [vs 19-27]

5. Does God have a plan for each one of us who have chosen to follow him? When bad things happen to us, what is God’s response? What are some of the things that might try to interfere with God’s plan? Is there anything that can stop us from fulfilling God’s plan for us? [vs 28-39]

Romans Chapter 9

Romans Chapter 9

Paul’s grief over Jews' reluctance to accept the Anointed One

[I have shown you that it was God’s plan to rescue all of mankind from a fruitless pursuit of God by their own efforts and through following law, which made clear what was sin but did not have the power to bring freedom from sin. And this rescue was through the life of Jesus and his paying the penalty for our sin in our place, and for us who received his sacrifice, we were declared innocent and given an inheritance as sons as well as rewarded with eternal life and a future resurrection. Amazingly enough, it is the non-Jews who have received the benefits even though they had no spiritual benefits or history, just because they were open to receiving the Good News about Jesus which, when they believed in Him, they were freed from their sins. But the Jewish people, from whom came our Savior, have not understood God’s plan and have therefore up until now not received for themselves the salvation that came into the world through them.]

Paul’s grief over Jews' reluctance to accept the Anointed One

1 [You may think I care only for the non-Jews who have received my ministry and not the Jews who are my countrymen, but] the truth is – and this is not a lie [since I tell you this as one who is] in the Anointed One and through [the witness of] my conscience in the Holy Spirit – that I have great sorrow and uninterrupted grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed [and separated] from the Anointed One for the sake of my brothers, my family according to the flesh [if they could only have their eyes opened and be reconciled with the one who is their savior].

They are the Israelites, who were given adoption as God’s [special chosen] people and have the [experience of] the glory [God’s manifest presence among them], and the covenants [God made with the patriarchs], and the giving of the Law, and the ministry of worship [in the Temple services], and the promises [given them by God and recorded in the scriptures], and to whom belong the patriarchs [Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob]. And it was through their bloodline that the Anointed One came, who is the one who is above all. May God be praised forever, amen!

God's soverignty to appoint whom he will

God’s sovereignty to appoint whom he will

It is not as though the word of God was of no effect [or that God did not keep his promises]. For not all who are [descended] from Israel are [truly] Israel. Not all of Abraham’s descendants are the children [that God promised as his heirs], since “It is through Isaac that your descendants shall be counted [and considered heirs][Genesis 21:12]For it is not the children of the flesh but rather the children who fulfilled the promise that are the descendants [spoken of by God]For this was the words of the promise, “At the appointed time, I [God] will come back, and Sarah will have [given birth to] a son.” [And it was this son, Isaac, who was born of Sarah, who fulfilled the promise, not Ishmael, who was also a child of Abraham. God in fact blessed Ishmael and his descendants, as described in Genesis 17:20, but he chose Isaac to demonstrate his covenant.]

10 Another example [of how God sovereignly carried out his promise] is when Rebekah conceived [twin sons] through the patriarch, Isaac. 11 Before the children were born and had done any good or evil, God had already decided how to carry out his purpose, so that it would be based on his call, not man’s works, 12 when he said [Genesis 25:23] to Rebekah, “The elder will serve the younger.”  13 As it is written [Malachi 1:2-3], “I love Jacob, but I hated Esau.

[It would happen that Esau would not value his father’s blessing and Jacob would, and so God disapproved of one and approved of the other. God’s call may not seem fair to us, since Jacob gained his father’s blessing because of God’s favor and his mother’s conniving, not because he earned it. However, God foreknew which of the two, Jacob or Esau, would value the blessing. Regardless, it was God’s call of Jacob rather than Jacob’s talent or legal right which determined that Jacob would receive his father’s blessing and fulfill the promise God made to Abraham.]

God is not unjust

14 What shall we say, then? Is God unjust? No way! 15 For, as another example, he said to Moses [Exodus 33:19], “I will be kind to whomever I choose. I will take pity on whomever I want.” 16 So then, it’s not about man’s desire or effort but it’s up to God, the merciful [one]17 Likewise, the scripture records [God saying] to Pharaoh [Exodus 9:16], “This was my purpose in raising you up, that I might demonstrate my power in you, so my name would be declared throughout the world.”  [God gave Pharaoh power so that God’s much greater power would be on display.] 18 So then, God is merciful to whomever he desires and he [even] hardens someone if he desires to.

God is not unjust

19 You might say to me, “Then how can God find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 [But I say,] “Who are you to answer God? Shall the created thing say to the creator, ‘Why have you made me this way?’” 21 For doesn’t the potter have control over the clay? From one lump of clay, he can make two vessels – one for an honorable use [for example to hold valuables] and the other for a dishonorable use [for example a chamber pot].

22 Even if God wanted to show his anger and demonstrate his power, [we should understand] he patiently put up with the vessels of his anger which [through their sinful lives and hardness of heart] made themselves fit for destruction. 23 And at the same time He wanted to demonstrate the riches of his glory on [those who were] the vessels of his mercy, which he had already destined for glory [Romans 8:30].  

[So, for instance, he had designated Moses as an honorable vessel, and had a plan to bring him to glory. However, Moses could have resisted God, and in some ways did, but God was patient with Moses. Pharaoh was born into a position of power as God intended. It was already God’s choice that this Pharaoh would be the one whom God would use to demonstrate his power and free his people. In this sense, he was chosen as a vessel of dishonor. However, this does not mean that Moses and Pharaoh had no choice, only that their lives had a pre-determined destiny. All of us have a degree of pre-determined purpose, but we also have a measure of freedom to choose. Galatians 5:13 tells us we have freedom to choose. If we had no freedom, God would not review our life and give us either reward or punishment.

God still has a plan to bring the Jews into his fold

24 We [who follow Jesus] are those he called, not only from among the Jews, but also the non-Jews. 25 Just as in Hosea [Hosea 2:23] he said, “I will call [the one named] “Not My People” [with the new name] “My People”, and the one [named] “Not Loved” [with the name] “Beloved”. 26 And in the very place where they were told [Hosea 1:10], “You are not my people”, they will be called, “The children of the Living God”. [Hosea had been instructed to name his children, “Not My People” and “Not Loved” to represent God’s people who had fallen away but renamed them to show his mercy and their ultimate destiny.]

God still has a plan to bring the Jews into his fold

27 Isaiah also declared about Israel [Isaiah 10:22-23], “Though the numbers of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, [only] a remnant will be saved, 28 for the Lord will finish his work [of judgment] on the earth speedily.” 29 And as Isaiah had said earlier [Isaiah 1:9], “Unless the Lord of the angel armies had left us a seed [of survivors], we would have been made just like Sodom and Gomorrah [Genesis 19:24-25] [completely destroyed][Over and over, the Jewish people received favor, but over and over they acted more like Pharaoh than Moses and followed their own way rather than God’s. Each time, he sent punishment, and only a remnant survived. Would the Jews claim that God did not fulfill his promise to that portion of his chosen people who died? That would be a misunderstanding of his covenant through Abraham. God promised to protect his people if and only if they would follow him.]

30 What then shall we say [to sum all of this up]? The non-Jews, who weren’t pursuing right standing with God, yet attained it through faith. 31 But Israel, who was pursuing righteousness through following the Law, did not find it through the Law. 32 Why? Because they [Israel] did not pursue it through faith but by works. [For the same reason,] they stumbled over the “stumbling stone”, 33 just as it is written [Isaiah 8:14, 28:16], “See, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone, a rock of offense, and whoever believes in him shall not be ashamed.” [Faith in Jesus was the way to righteousness and relatively easy for the non-Jews. However, for Israel, faith in a man rather than the Law seemed wrong to them, so they stumbled and were offended and therefore had a harder time finding faith.]

Discussion questions

1. Why is it so painful to Paul that the Jewish people resisted following Jesus? Have you ever felt that way concerning family or friends who resisted the Good News? [vs 1-5]

Romans Chapte 9 discussion questions

2. Do you believe it is true that God pre-selects some to specific purposes? Do you think it is fair that God chose Jacob over Esau, or that he hardened Pharaoh’s heart? Do you believe that some are destined for glory and some for destruction? What is your destiny?[vs 6-23]

3. Is Paul saying that God had a purpose in the Jews being hard-hearted towards him? Then, is it their fault or responsibility? [vs 24-33]

Romans Chapter 10

Romans Chapter 10

Pursuing the Law has kept Israel from following Jesus

Brothers, it is my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for Israel that they might be saved. I can testify that they fiercely pursue God. However, it’s not because they know him. 3 In fact, they aren’t acquainted with the way God makes people right with him. They try to establish their own right standing [as they try to follow the Law], but they have not surrendered themselves to God’s way of righteousness [by trusting the Anointed One, Jesus,  whom God sent].

Pusuing the Law has kept Israel from following Jesus

For [following] the Anointed One fulfills the Law for everyone who trusts him. [Trusting Jesus fulfills everything that the Law intended and therefore replaces the Law for believers. When we accept Jesus as lord and savior, we are immediately declared righteous in God’s eyes. God begins to live in and through us, and we are guided by the Holy Spirit, which helps us to live righteously. Jews don’t want to give up the Law as their vehicle of righteousness because they are the ones who uniquely received it and they want to get credit for their efforts in observing it. If righteousness comes only through believing in Jesus, no one gets to boast.]

Moses describes right standing [with God] through [following] the Law [requires complete obedience] - “Whoever obeys these commands shall live by them.” [Leviticus 18:5] [That is, they can’t simply have the Law or state the Law, they must follow the Law. The Jewish people were perhaps good at observing the sacrificial system and keeping the ceremonial days and traditions at some level, but over and over God told them their hearts were far from him and that they had not kept his Law (Isaiah 42:24). While the people “knew” the Law, they did not keep it!] 

But the right standing that comes through faith is expressed like this [also from Moses, in Deuteronomy 30:11-14], “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to bring down the Anointed One to us? Nor descend into the depths to bring the Anointed One from among the dead.’” But it says, “Instead, the word is near you, even in your mouth and in your heart!”

[This is a powerful concept. In the Deuteronomy passage, Moses says it is “the word” that is near to them. Yet even that near, they could not follow it. Paul replaces “the word” in the Deuteronomy passage with “the Anointed One” to make several points: 1) No one went any place to find the Anointed One. He came to us. 2) Jesus, the Anointed One, was also called “the Word” because his life was God’s very expression (John 1:1-2) 3) It required a person, the Anointed One, to live and die in our place for us, for us to ever fulfill the Law, and 4) We still individually need to speak a “word” – the word that is “near us” - a word of confessing by faith what the Anointed One has done for us, and this is a stumbling block for many, especially the Jews.] 

Salvation is as easy as believing and confessing

That word [Moses is referring to] is this expression of faith that [sums up what] we have been declaring to you, “If you confess with your mouth [the truth that] Jesus is Lord [promising you will follow and obey him], and you believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved [from an eternity apart from God].” [We need to believe and speak out loud our agreement with the truth that Jesus was sent by God for us and that he is our leader and guide whom we have decided to follow and obey. And we need to believe that God raised him from the dead because that means Jesus is alive now, so that we are following a living king. To be raised from death is also our destiny as believers.] 10 Believing in our heart gives us right standing with God and confessing with our mouth brings us salvation [from God’s judgment].

Salvation is as easy as believing and confessing

11 For the scripture [Isaiah 28:16] says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” 12 There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek [non-Jew], for the same Lord is over all and gives abundantly to everyone who calls to him. 13 [As Joel 2:32 says,] “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Israel has heard but not believed

14 But how can they call on the one [Jesus] whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe if they have not heard [the Good News about him]? And how can they hear without someone proclaiming [the word]15 And how will anyone go out proclaiming unless they are sent [by God]? As it is written [Isaiah 52:7], “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the Good News!” [While all people need the Good News proclaimed to them, especially the Jewish people need to hear the Good News about Jesus.]

Israel has heard but not believed

16 But not everyone [who hears the proclamation] has responded to the Good News. As Isaiah said, “Lord, who has believed our report?” [Isaiah 53:1]17 For belief [results] from hearing [the Good News], and hearing [with understanding requires] revelation from God.

18 But I ask, haven’t they [the Jewish people] already heard [the word preached]? Of course they have! [As the scripture Psalms 19:4 says,] “The sound of their voice went into all the earth. And their message went to the farthest reaches of the world”. [The prophets spoke about God throughout the history of the Jewish people. And the psalm is saying that the beauty and complexity of God’s creation as seen in the sky should convince everyone that there is a God who is the architect of such beauty, which is the same thing Paul himself says in Romans 1:19-20.]


19 Again I ask, didn’t Israel understand? [Of course they did, but they refused to believe.] Moses was the first to say, “I will provoke you to jealousy by [those who are] no people. [They have no well-defined culture and religion.] I will make you angry by a nation of fools” [Deuteronomy 32:21]20 Isaiah is even bolder when he says [Isaiah 65:1-3], “I was found by those who didn’t even seek me. I was shown to those who didn’t even pursue me.” 21 But to Israel, he says, “All day I have stretched out my hand to those who disobeyed and rejected me.” [The Jewish people have heard over and over about God, and yet refuse to submit to him. Yet the non-Jews who have heard much less of the Good News and were not even trying to follow the Law have often responded to the Good News as soon as they heard it.]

Discussion questions

1. How would you say that pursuit of the Law has hampered the Jewish people from hearing the Good News about Jesus? [vs 1-8]

Romans Chapter 10 discussion questions

2. Why do you think that “confessing with your mouth” is an important part of becoming saved?

3.Based on the scriptures Paul cites, is God surprised that the Jewish people have not easily responded to the truth of God’s love for them or the Good News about following Jesus being the path to right standing in place of the Law?

Romans Chapter 11

Romans Chapter 11

God always preserves a remnant of the faithful among his people

I ask, then, [since God’s chosen people the Jews know about him yet have rejected him,] has God rejected his people? Never! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin [, and he pursued me rather than rejected me even though I persecuted those who followed him]God has not rejected his people, whom he knew in advance [both their waywardness and their restoration] [Psalms 94:14]. Do you not remember how, with Elijah, the scripture [1 Kings 19:10,14] says he appealed to God? “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars, and I am the only one left. And they are seeking my life too!” But how does God answer him [1 Kings 19:18]? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed to the image of Baal.”

God always preserves a remnant of the faithful among his people

It’s the same way now. There is a remnant of faithful ones, chosen by God’s grace [unearned but purposeful favor][It’s grace to those who are chosen but also to the world who will be blessed through them.] And if it is by grace, it can’t be [that it was accomplished] by their works, or else grace is not really grace.

7 What are we saying then? That Israel [as a people group] did not obtain what they were seeking [through their own effort], but some who actually became “the chosen” [by grace] did obtain it, while the others remained hardened. This is just as it was written [Deuteronomy 29:4, Isaiah 29:10], “God has given them the spirit of slumber, so that their eyes will not see and their ears will not hear, until this day”.

And David says [Psalms 69:22-23], “Let them be caught and trapped at their dining table, and stumble and fall, as just payment [for their unfaithfulness to God]10 May their eyes continue to be darkened so they cannot see and their backs always be bent [with troubles]”.

11 I ask then, “When the Jewish people stumbled, did they fall to their complete ruin? [Was it God’s intention that they fall and never be restored? No, God allowed his people to pay a price for disobedience but always had in mind their restoration – see Jeremiah 30:3.] Of course not! Instead, [God used their fall] so that salvation could come to the non-Jewish people, which would [also] provoke the Jewish people to jealousy. [The primary way that the Good News spread to the non-Jews was that, as Paul and the other apostles brought the Word wherever they went, when most of the Jews rejected it, Paul preached to the non-Jews, who received the word with joy.]

God's plan is not complete until the Jews come to faith in Jesus

God’s plan is not complete until the Jews come to faith in Jesus

12 If the sin of the Jews [by killing Jesus has led to] riches for all the world [since Jesus took the penalty for our sins] and the failure [of the Jews to achieve right standing with God has led to] riches for the [non-Jewish] peoples [who received the message of Good News instead of them], then how much more [will we all be blessed] by their fulness [when the Jewish people receive their Anointed One and the forgiveness of sins and right standing with God that comes through Him].

13 I am speaking to you [non-Jewish] peoples, since as long as I am the apostle [appointed and sent] to the [non-Jewish] peoples, I will take full advantage of my assignment, 14 hoping I may stimulate through jealousy my own people [the Jews] to imitate me [in following Jesus] and thus save some of them. [Though my primary job is to reach the non-Jews, I am hoping this may help me to reach my own people as well.]

15 For if the rejection [of the Good News] by the Jewish people [causes] the world to be reconciled [to God by hearing and responding to the Good News about Jesus], then what will the acceptance of the Jewish people mean [when they turn to the Anointed One]? [It will be as amazing as] life from the dead!

Comparison to the grafting of trees

16 For if the first fruits are holy, then the whole loaf [is] also. [The Jews are like the first fruit offering of grain described in Numbers 15:19-21 required to bless the entire harvest.] If the root [the Jewish people are like the root of the tree representing all humans who would follow God] be holy, then the branches [all the other people groups are] also. 17 And if some of the branches are broken off [since some of the Jews have not chosen God’s way of coming to right standing], and you [a branch from] a wild olive tree were grafted in among them, as a result you now share what comes from the root, the richness of the olive tree. [You non-Jewish believers have received what has been produced from the spiritual life of the Jewish people – the worship, the theology, but most of all, the Anointed One.]

Comparison to the grafting of trees

18 But don’t [you non-Jewish believers] think yourselves superior to the branches who were broken off [the Jews who did not come to a saving knowledge of the Anointed One]. How can you be proud? You are not the root, but the root supports you. 19 [But you might say,] “Weren’t they broken off so that I might be grafted in? [In tree grafting, which was done to combine characteristics of two trees, branches of the one tree are broken off so that the other tree’s branches can be grafted in the same locations.] 20 [But remember,] the old branches were broken off because of unbelief, and you are standing [blessed] as you are because of belief. So don’t think highly of yourselves. Rather be afraid, 21 for if God did not preserve the natural branches [due to their unbelief], why would he then preserve you [if you don't nurture your belief in the savior Jesus]

[God allowed Israel to remain dull in their ability to understand because of their earlier rejection of him. He has been using this time where the Jews have not turned to the Anointed One, who came from among them, in order to attract all the non-Jews. But the time is coming when he will take the next step in this divine drama and use the belief and blessing of the non-Jews to draw the Jews back to him.]

22 See then, both the kindness and severity of God – severity toward those who fell, but kindness towards you – that is, if you continue in his kindness [and don’t think that salvation is automatically yours without giving your life to him]. Otherwise, [you too may experience] being broken off [as unbelievers]23 And they [the unbelieving Jews], if they don’t remain unbelievers, will then be grafted in, for God is certainly able to graft them in again. 24 For you [non Jewish believers], contrary to your nature as a wild olive tree, were grafted into a good olive tree. How much more [easily] shall natural olive branches be grafted into their own tree? 25 I don’t want you to remain ignorant of this mystery, thinking yourself wise [because you’ve obtained salvation and many of the Jews have not].  This hardness of Israel [towards the Good News] is temporary until the full complement of [non-Jewish] peoples has come in [to the kingdom by believing].

God has an amazing plan for bringing Israel to salvation

26 And this [which I have just described to you] is [exactly] how all Israel will be saved. As it is written [Isaiah 59:20-21], “The Redeemer shall come out of Zion and turn away all ungodliness from Jacob [Israel]27 For this is my covenant with them – that I will remove their sins.” [Paul is actually adjusting the understanding of Isaiah’s prophecy. For in Isaiah, the redeemer comes to Zion to those who turn away from sin, but Paul is saying that the Redeemer is actually greater than that, for he not only came to Israel, but from there redeemed the whole world. And the covenant with the Jewish people is greater too, for the Redeemer did not only come to those who turned away from sin but he came to remove all of their sin when they turn to him.]

God has an amazing plan for bringing Israel to salvation

28 So, [the Jewish people are] enemies of the Good News for the sake of you [non-Jewish peoples who now believe], but concerning [God’s] choice, [the Jewish people are] loved because of the patriarchs. [God made a covenant with Abraham and renewed it with Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, and even though for 3,500 years the Jewish people have not returned to God in faith, yet God still has plans to fully restore them.] 29 For God never takes back his gifts and calling [, so you can believe the times are coming when the Jews will turn back to him]30 For there was once a time when you did not yet believe yet now you have gained God’s mercy through the unbelief of the Jews. 31 Likewise, now those [of the Jewish people] who haven’t believed shall receive mercy [as you reach out to share with them the Good News that you have received]32 For God has subjected all to unbelief, so that he might have mercy on all.

33 How deeply rich are the wisdom and knowledge of God! “Who can explain his decisions and who understands his ways? 34 For who knows [all of the] mind of God? Who has been his advisor?” [Isaiah 40:13-14]35 “Who has ever given God anything, so that God had to pay him back?” [Job 41:11]36 For all things are from him, through him, and in him! To him be the glory! Amen!

Discussion questions

1. Now, two thousand years after Paul wrote this, what would you say is the state of the Jewish people towards belief in Jesus? Do you have any reason to believe this will change? What might be the part that non-Jewish believers will play in bring the Jews to faith? [vs 1-11]

Romans Chapter 11 discussion questions

2. In what ways is Christian belief rooted in the beliefs of the Jews?  Do you or Christians you know take your right to salvation for granted? [vs 12-25]

3. Do you believe that God will truly use non-Jewish Christians to bring the Jewish people to belief in Jesus? What would help Jewish people come to belief in a Jewish savior? [vs 26-36]

Romans Chapter 12

Romans Chapter 12

Live renewed and transformed

[God has done so much for all who are willing to receive the benefits of following Jesus, so that we owe it to him to further allow ourselves to be transformed from the inside out to become worthy of the way he has treated us.] I encourage you therefore, brothers, because of [all] the mercies of God [for both Jews and non-Jews], that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice [laying down your own desires but living for Him], set apart for his purposes and aimed at pleasing God. This is how we ought to worship [under the New Covenant].

Life renewed and transformed

[Under the Old Covenant, as part of our worship, we offered animals to have our sins covered, but under the New Covenant, Jesus was the sin offering, and we complete the covenant by receiving the gift of his offering. Animal sacrifices were presented alive and had to be without blemish or defect. Paul is telling us to treat ourselves just as we would an animal sacrifice. We are without blemish only because Jesus took our blemishes on himself before the cross, and by exchange he gave us his purity and righteousness.]

2 And don’t conform to the ways of this world, but be transformed through renovating your mind, that you will therefore show off what is good and pleasing and lacking nothing [in God’s eyes]. [When we choose to follow him, God restores our innocence and treats us as he would his perfect son, and the response he expects is for us to allow him to transform us until we completely conform to him.]  

Use your gifts fully and with faith

And I say to everyone among you, by the gifting [of fatherly wisdom] God has given me, don’t overestimate yourself, but be more sensible in your self-appraisal, since God has distributed a degree of faith to every man. [When you became a follower of Jesus and were filled with the Holy Spirit, he gave you spiritual gifts, but he didn’t give you every gift to the same degree.] For in one body [of believers] we have many members, and not all members have the same function. So even though we are many, we are one body in the Anointed One, and each one members of one another. [We are not made to function independently.]

Use your gifts fully and with faith

6 We [each one of us] have differing gifts given by God. [It’s not that each person has only one gift. But whatever gifts you have, be generous and expectant in their use.] If [you have the gift of] prophecy [inspired communication of what God is saying], then do so with the fullness of faith you have. [Likewise] for those who minister, teach, or preach. 8 Those who have a gift of giving should give with generosity. Those who lead should lead diligently. Those who serve should serve cheerfully.

Live totally unselfishly

[As one truly transformed, do everything for the sake of the Anointed One and those around you.] Love sincerely. Hate evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Love your brothers with devotion and honor. 11 Be eager and not lazy. Serve the Lord with the fire of the Spirit. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient through trial, persevering in prayer. 13 Share with those in need within the community, be hospitable to strangers. 14 Bless those who persecute you – bless instead of cursing them! 15 Celebrate with those who are celebrating. Mourn with those who mourn. 16 Treat all the same, and do not look down on anyone. Don’t think yourself wise.

Live totally unselfishly

17 Don’t repay evil with evil. Do what is right in the sight of all. 18 To the extent possible on your part, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not pay back evil but leave it to [God’s] vengeance. For the scripture [Deuteronomy 32:35] says, “‘I will take vengeance. I will repay’, says the Lord.” [Let God fight your battles for you.]

20 Therefore, if your enemy is hungry, feed him. Or if thirsty, give him a drink. “For by so doing, you will pile up coals of fire on his head” [Proverbs 25:22][Treat an enemy kindly so as to lead him to repentance.] 21 Do not let evil conquer you but conquer evil with good.

Discussion questions

1. How can we be both “living” and a “sacrifice”? Jesus had told his hearers to repent (“change the direction of their mind”). What do you think Paul had in mind when he told to renovate or renew our minds? How do we do it? [vs 1-2]

Romans Chapter 12 discussion questions

2. Do you think you underestimate or overestimate your gifts? What gifts do you believe you have? Do you use them with your full measure of faith? Do you use them in your church? If not, what do you think is needed for you to do so? [vs 3-8]

3. How would you rate yourself in each of the areas Paul describes that represent living unselfishly? Are you willing to ask God to help you in each of these areas? [vs 9-21]

Romans Chapter 13

Romans Chapter 13

Living as good citizens

[And don’t treat the authorities where you live as though they are enemies, even if they are idolaters and stand against your beliefs.] Let every person submit yourselves in obedience to the higher authorities [whether government or religious], for there is no power but what is arranged by God. [In fact,] whatever powers exist, are ordained by God. Whoever opposes the [governmental] authority is opposing what God has arranged and shall [therefore themselves] be judged. For rulers are not a source of fear to those who do good but only those who do evil. If you want to be unafraid of the authorities, then do what is good, and you will be praised by them, for they are God’s servants for your benefit. But if you do evil, then you should fear the authorities, for they bear the sword for a good reason, for as God’s servants, they brings punishment to those who do evil.

Living as good citizens

But you should be obedient not just for fear of punishment, but because of conscience [since you know what is right]You pay taxes for this purpose [enforcement of the law], because the authorities have to continually pay attention to this very thing [keeping the law][In fact, you should] pay whatever things you owe - taxes to the government, sales or custom’s tax [for your goods], respect for those in authority, honoring each one for its specific purpose.

Love and live in the Anointed One

[Therefore,] have no debts at all, except to love one another, for in loving each other, you [automatically] fulfill the Law. [To think of yourself as indebted is to live under the Law again.] For the commandments – “Do not commit adultery”, “Do not murder”, “Do not steal”, “Do not desire what belongs to someone else”, or any other commandments – are summed up in this expression, “Love your neighbor as yourself”. 10 Loving your neighbor never causes harm. [Since the purpose of the Law is to stop harm or compensate for harm already caused,] love fulfills the Law.

Love and live in the Anointed One

11 [Do] all that [I have been saying], knowing the time [we are living in], for it’s the hour we should be fully awake, since we are so much nearer to the time of our rescue [by the return of our Lord Jesus] than when we first believed [in Him]12 The night is nearly over, and the day is coming soon. Therefore, let us throw off ourselves all works of darkness and put on the armor and weapons of light, 13 properly equipped for the day. Let’s no longer walk in partying and getting drunk, nor sexual immorality or lack of restraint, nor in anger and jealousy. 14 But [everyone] put on the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, [as though you were wearing him as your clothing], and don’t provide [energy and thought] for the flesh and its desires.

Discussion questions

1. According to Paul, are even dictators of oppressive governments ordained by God and worthy of our support? Should we be obedient to laws that are oppressive or are anti-Christian? [vs 1-7]

Romans Chapter 13 discussion questions

2. Does your love, even towards those close to you, sometimes seem more like you are trying to follow the Law? How can we flow in love towards others? How do you put on the Lord Jesus? [vs 9-14].

Romans Chapter 14

Romans Chapter 14

Don’t look down on others for their principles

[Since we are talking about loving one another, let me address the issue of judging fellow believers for the way they carry out our beliefs.] Be supportive to the one [you see as] “weak in faith” instead of criticizing his beliefs. For one person thinks he can eat anything while another eats only vegetables. [Much of the meat sold in the markets in Biblical times had been offered to idols or was not sufficiently drained of blood. In some believers’ minds, it was wrong to eat such meat. Jewish believers had been brought up to observe the Law, which would have forbidden them to eat what came from a Roman market. These principles are laid out in Exodus 34:15. Others believed that by faith all things were ‘holy” and therefore they felt they could eat anything as long as they gave thanks to God. This entire line of reasoning is also discussed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:19-33.]

Don't look down on others for their principles

3 The one who eats everything should not think less of the one who restricts what he eats, nor should the one who restricts what he eats think less of the one who eats everything. If God has accepted him [then why would you reject him]Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? [Each believer is a servant of God.] It is his own master who will decide whether he stands or falls. And he will stand, because the Lord is able to lift him up.

5 [Likewise,] one person judges some days to have special importance over others. [Jewish followers of Jesus came from a background of celebrating Sabbaths, new moons, fast days, and feast days, whereas a non-Jewish believer may be unfamiliar with these celebrations and restrictions or have different ones from following pagan religions. Also, Christians came to celebrate Sundays as the Lord’s Day, but Jews kept Friday night to Saturday night as the Sabbath. The background of a believer leads to different assessments of how to regard the days.] But another person in his own mind sees all days as equal. Let each fully pursue what he believes. The one who sees a day as special observes it for the sake of the Lord. Or the one who eats all things give thanks to the Lord, just as the one who restricts what he eats also gives thanks for what he eats to the Lord.

For no one lives for himself or dies for himself alone. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, it is to the Lord. Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 It was for this the Anointed One died and received life again, that he would be Lord of [both] the dead and the living. [Following the Lord is worth dying for, but if we do die, we still are alive to him and belong to him. If death can’t rob a believer of belonging to God, then certainly the believer’s beliefs and practice with regard to food can’t take away his salvation and should never be the basis for my rejection or belittling.]

10 Therefore, why do you judge your brother [believer] or look down on him, for all of us will stand before the judgment seat of God, 11 [just] as it is written [Isaiah 45:23], “’As I live’, says the Lord, ‘every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to God’ [that he is over all].” 12 So, every one of us must give an account of ourselves before God.

Protect others’ principles over insisting on your own

13 Therefore, let’s never again judge each other. Instead, let us decide to not to put a stumbling block in the path of our brother [believer] or anything that might cause him to sin. 14 [For example,] I know and feel an assurance in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but to someone who has concluded something is unclean, to him it is unclean.

Protect others' principles over insisting on your own

[Jesus was not made unclean by what he touched or ate.  For instance, when he touched a leper (Matthew 8:1-3) or the woman with the flow of blood (Matthew 9:20-22), by Law he would be made unclean. In actuality, however, he made them clean rather than becoming unclean himself. In Mark 7:1-23, he makes clear that it is not what you eat or your degree of hand washing that make you clean or unclean, but rather your thoughts. Jesus followed the scriptures but did not respect the many traditions required by Jewish leaders to control the people.]

15 If what you eat causes concern to your brother, then you are not walking according to love. Don’t let the food you eat bring harm to someone for whom the Anointed One died. 16 Don’t allow what is good for you to be spoken of as bad [by insisting others follow your way. It’s good for you to follow your own conscience and understanding for how to live, but don’t allow it to cause a problem for the wider community of believers.]

17 For the kingdom of God is not food and drink [and whether or not we eat them based on our principles], but right living, peace, and joy, [which we have] in the Holy Spirit. 18 For anyone who serves the Anointed One in these things [that come from the Spirit] is pleasing to God and approved by men. 19 Therefore, let us pursue what [leads to] peace and builds up one another.

20 Don’t destroy God’s work because of food. [For instance, Paul’s work had brought the non-Jews to faith, but if they had to conform to Jewish dietary Law, it may well have destroyed the fabric of the church which brought together Jews and non-Jews.] Even if all foods are pure [according to your own faith], it’s still evil for someone [else] to eat them if he is offended by them [that is if these foods are impure according to his faith]21 It’s better for you to not eat meat or drink wine or do anything else which causes your brother [believer] to stumble.

22 If you have faith [that you are not made impure by what you eat and so believe you can eat anything], then you can keep that to yourself [and thus help the conscience of your brother believer]. Every man is happy who avoids self-condemnation by doing only what he believes is right. [Your brother will be happy because he didn’t eat the meat he considered as defiling, and you will be happy because you protected your brother’s conscience.] 23 But if you had any doubt [that it was right to eat the meat] and ate the meat, then you have brought condemnation to yourself, because your actions were not based on faith. Whatever is not of faith is sin!

Discussion questions

1. What are the issues Christians judge each other on in today’s world? Should we care about those issues? For example, do you keep a Sabbath day? Are you offended if others don’t? [vs 1-12]

Romans Chapter 14 discussion questions

2. Do you take care to avoid things that might violate a fellow Christian’s conscience? For instance, if you were with a Christian who was a recovering alcoholic, would you avoid drinking alcohol? [vs 13-23]

Romans Chapter 15

Romans Chapter 15

Accepting one another as the Anointed One accepted us

We who are strong [in faith in our own eyes] ought to bear the concerns of those less strong and not please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor, building him up with what is good. For even the Anointed One didn’t live to satisfy himself, but instead, as it is written [Psalms 69:9], “The hostility that was against you [God] I have received”.  [If the Anointed One stood up for God, we can stand up for our friend who serves God.] In fact, whatever things were written long ago in the scriptures to teach us, were written to help us gain patience and encouragement and give us hope.

Accepting one anothe as the Anointed One accepted us

5 Now, may the God of patience and encouragement help you be the same attitude towards one another as the Anointed One, Jesus, so that with a unity of our minds and mouths we may glorify God, the father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. Therefore, accept one another just as the Anointed One accepted us, glory to God!

For I tell you, though the Anointed One lived to serve the Circumcision [the Jewish people] by showing God’s faithfulness and fulfilling his promises to the Patriarchs [Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph by providing a savior who was descended from them], he also showed his compassion to the [non-Jewish] peoples so they [also] might glorify God. As it is written [Psalms 18:49], “I will acknowledge you among the [non-Jewish] peoples and sing praise to your name”. 10 And he also said [Deuteronomy 32:43], “Rejoice, [non-Jewish] peoples, together with his people [the Jews].” 11 And again [Psalms 117:1], “Praise the Lord, all [non-Jewish] peoples, and praise him, every person. 12 And again, it is Isaiah who says [Isaiah 11:10], “There will be a root of Jesse [one descended from David’s father] and it is him who will rise up to rule over the [non-Jewish] peoples.  In him the [non-Jewish] peoples will put their hope.” 13 And now, may the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace in believing, and may your hope overflow through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul’s special commission to minister to the non-Jews

14 My brothers, I already feel sure that you are overflowing with good things [from the Good News], and that you know these things well enough that you can teach one another. 15 Even so, I have been bold in writing these things to you, just to remind you of these things because of the gift given to me by God that I would be the minister of Jesus, the Anointed One, to you, the [non-Jewish] people. 16 I am a priest [an intermediary], ministering the good news of Jesus the Anointed One, so the [non-Jewish] people might be acceptable [as an offering before God], having been made holy by the Holy Spirit.

Paul's special commision to minister to the non-Jews

17 I have much to feel good about in my service to God in [the power of] the Anointed One, Jesus. 18 I am claiming only the times the Anointed One used my words and actions to bring the non-Jews into obedience. 19 Through mighty signs and wonders, by the mighty power of the Spirit of God, from Jerusalem to Illyricum [the coastal area of modern Croatia just opposite Italy], I have completely established [the truth of] the Good News of the Anointed One. [Paul had brought the good news about Jesus through all the northeastern Mediterranean region, including northern Israel, Syria, all of Turkey, Macedonia, Greece, Croatia, and the islands including Cyprus, the other Greek islands, and Malta. Rome would become the farthest west of the lands he would directly touch with his ministry.]

20 My aim has been to bring the Good News to places where no one has heard the name of Jesus, rather than build on another man’s foundation, 21 just as is written [Isaiah 52:13-15], “Where no one had spoken of him, they shall see, and where they have not heard, they will understand”. [Throughout Paul’s ministry, he preached where others had already brought the Good News, but it was his primary goal to reach all who had never heard of Jesus. For example, the church in Syrian Antioch which sent him as a missionary was founded by others and made more solid by Barnabus and Paul – see Acts 11 :19-30.]

22 This cause [of bringing the Good News where it has not been carried before] has kept me from coming to you. 23 But there is no further place for me [to bring the Good News near where I am] and since I have been desiring for so many years to see you, 24 when I travel for Spain I hope to see you and receive your help to continue the journey, after I have spent some time with you.

Paul’s plans to visit the Roman believers

25 But right now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the believers [there], 26 for those [churches] of Macedonia and Greece have decided to send a contribution to the poor among the believers in Jerusalem. 27 For they are pleased to do this, since they feel they owe the Jewish believers this. Since the Jews shared their spiritual [life] with the non-Jews [through the Anointed One who came from them], it is the [non-Jewish] people’s responsibility to minister to them from their life in the flesh [financially].

Paul's plan to viit the Roman believers

28 When I have finished this task and turned over to them the full collection for them, I will set off to visit you on my way to Spain. 29 I am sure that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of the Anointed One. [Do not worry that I am coming casually for a quick visit, but I will pour out to you all that I have received from the Lord.] 

30 I have a favor to ask of you, brothers. For the sake of the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, and for the love of the Spirit, make an effort together in your prayers to God for me, 31 that I may be saved from [the animosity] of the [Jewish] non-believers in Judea and that my service will be accepted by the believers in Jerusalem. [Paul recognized that Israeli Jews who were not followers of Jesus treated him as though he were a cult leader. And many of the Jewish followers of Jesus felt animosity towards him because they felt he was weakening their Judaism by not requiring the non-Jewish believers to follow Jewish Law.] 32 By the will of God, may I come to you full of joy and have a time of refreshment with you. 33 Now, may the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Discussion questions

1. Were you aware of how many scriptures foretold that the Anointed One would come to the Jews but also bring hope to the non-Jews? [vs 1-13]

Romans Chapter 15 discussion questions

2. Does it make sense to you that Paul gave a higher priority to establishing the Gospel in virgin territory than strengthening believers in existing churches? On the other hand, do you think he had a valid reason to want to come and spend time with the established church of Rome? [vs 14-24]

3. If you were at the church of Rome, would you have looked forward to Paul’s visit? How long did they have to wait, and under what circumstances did Paul finally come to Rome, as told in Acts 20-28? [vs 25-33]

Romans Chapter 16

Romans Chapter 16

Greetings to all the people Paul knows in Rome

[The many whom Paul greets indicate how connected Rome was with all of the Mediterranean world over which Rome ruled. In all, thirty-two individuals are mentioned by name. All of these are believers whom Paul had met and influenced in the churches of the Eastern Mediterranean, especially in Corinth, where Paul was when he wrote the letter.]

Greetings to all the people Paul knows in Rome

I recommend to you our sister [in the Lord], Phoebe, who is a deaconess of the church at Cenchrea [a seacoast village just east of Corinth][Since Paul was writing this letter in Corinth, he likely knew Phoebe well, and she may have been the one bringing the letter to Rome or at least was part of the team that came with the letter.] Receive her in the name of the Lord, just as God’s people should receive one another, and help her with any finances she may need, for she has been a great help to many including me.

I send greetings also to Priscilla and Aquila, my co-laborers in the Anointed One, Jesus, who have risked their necks for me. Not only I, but all of the churches of the [non-Jewish] peoples, give thanks to them, and to those in their house church. [Priscilla and Aquila were Jewish and had property in Rome but had left there a few years earlier because Emperor Claudius had expelled the Christians. They met Paul in Corinth, and then later helped him to start the church in Ephesus. By now they had returned to Rome.]

Greetings to Epaenetus, my dear friend, who was the “first fruits” [the first convert, likely in Corinth] in Achaia [Greece] to the Anointed One. Greetings to Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greetings to Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and fellow prisoners, who are noteworthy among the apostles [those commissioned and sent out to found communities of believers], who were [believers] in the Anointed One before me. Greetings to Amplias, whom I love in the Lord. Greetings to Urbane, our helper in the Anointed One, and Stachys, whom I love.

10 Greetings to Appelles, one [who has been tested and] approved in the Anointed One. Greetings to those from Aristobulus’ [household]11 Greetings to Herodion, my kinsman [a fellow Jew], and to the fellow believers [in the household] of Narcissus. 12 Greetings to Tryphena and Tryphosa, who are workers in the Lord. Greet Persis, my dear friend, who has worked so hard for the Lord. 13 Greetings to Rufus, who is special to the Lord, and his mother [who also treated me a son]14 Greetings to Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brother believers with them. 15 Greetings to Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the believers with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss [on behalf of] all the churches of the Anointed One [who] send their greetings to you.

Warnings to avoid listening to doctrine opposed to what Paul taught

17 I ask you, brothers, that you take note of those who cause divisions or go against the doctrine you have learned [from me and those whom I have trained] and avoid them. 18 For this type [of person] is not serving our Lord, the Anointed One, but rather [is concerned with] their own belly [and the foods they eat or don’t eat]. With good-sounding logic and flattering speech they lead astray the hearts of the unsuspecting.

Warnings to void listeing todoctrin opposed to what Paul taught

19 For your commitment [to the Lord and the Good News about him] has been heard about everywhere, and I am glad on your behalf. But I would like you to be wise about what is good and innocent concerning evil. [Hold on to and follow the good teaching you have received, and resist trying out other doctrines that will bring you confusion and conflict.] 20 And the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. [Entertaining conflicting doctrine allows Satan to work among the church, whereas resisting conflicting doctrine causes controversy to disappear and peace through unity to prevail.] The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you!

21 Timothy, my fellow worker, sends you his greetings, as do Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, who are fellow Jewish believers. 22 I, Tertius, who wrote this letter down, send my greetings in the Lord. 23 Gaius, who is my host, also sends you greetings, as does the whole church [of Corinth], including Erastus, the administrator for the house churches around the city, and Quartus, a brother believer.

Dedication of the letter to God

[Some manuscript copies of the letter include a verse 24 which says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus the Anointed One be with you all. Amen.”] 25 Now, to him, who is able to establish you in following the Good News through my sharing the truth of Jesus, the Anointed One, which reveals the mystery which was kept hidden since the world began, 26 and now is made clear through the writings of the prophets, and by the command of God is being made known to every nation, so that all may believe and obey, 27 to God, the only wise one, may there be glory for ever and ever through Jesus, the Anointed One. Amen.” [Paul is saying that this letter to the Romans is communicating the heart of the mystery of the power of the Good News to all the world. It was previously unknown that faith in Jesus both replaced and fulfilled the Law, and that it was available to everyone, both Jew and non-Jew, through faith.]

Dedication of the Roman church to God

Discussion questions

1. Why do you think Paul greeted so many in Rome in this letter? What effect would he have had by doing so? Which of the names did you recognize from elsewhere in the scriptures? [vs 1-16]

Romans Chapter 16 discussion questions

2. Do you agree with Paul that the church in Rome should not entertain doctrine that conflicted with what Paul was teaching them? How do you think a church should handle opposing viewpoints? [vs 17-23]

3. What is your assessment of the letter to the Romans? Do you agree with Paul that he was revealing a mystery that had until then remained hidden? How would you state that mystery? [vs 24-27]

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