TODAY’S READING: ROMANS 12-16

 

OVERVIEW: 

The revelation of the righteousness of God reproduced in the church (chapters 12-16).

 

HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:

After introducing his theme to the Book of Romans, the revelation of the righteousness of God in the gospel of Christ (1:16,17), Paul walked us through eight chapters of PRINCIPLES related to that gospel.  Then, beginning in chapter 9 and continuing through chapter 11, Paul identified and addressed the PROBLEMS of the gospel as they related to the Nation of Israel.  We called this section a “parenthesis” because if you were to read from Romans 8:39 right into 12:1, it would make perfect sense!  Check it out:

 

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come – (8:38). Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord – (8:39). I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” – (12:1).

 

Now beginning with Romans 12:1, we move into the third and final section of this great epistle.  Having considered the PRINCIPLES and PROBLEMS of the gospel in the first 11 chapters, in these final five chapters (12-16), Paul takes us into an examination of the PRACTICE of the gospel.  What he is doing in these chapters is a classic Pauline pattern that we will be able to observe in all of his writings.  In each of the New Testament letters God inspired Paul to write, he always establishes the specific doctrines in the beginning of the Book.  Each letter then concludes by providing the reader with a series of practical DUTIES which are based upon the DOCTRINES he’s presented.  Paul was aware of the danger in laying down PRINCIPLES without identifying how those PRINCIPLES were to affect the PRACTICE of our lives.  As Bible believers, we must understand that DOCTRINE and DUTIES always go hand-in-hand.  Each time we approach the Word of God, we must ask ourselves two very simpl!

e questions: “What is it that God wants me to BELIEVE?” and “How is it that God wants me to BEHAVE?”  You see this pattern very clearly in the Book of Romans.  For the first eight chapters Paul identifies the DOCTRINAL PRINCIPLES related to the gospel; then in the final five chapters, he provides the PRACTICAL DUTIES based upon those principles.

 

Beginning in chapter 12 and continuing through chapter 14, Paul identifies the following relationships that have been dramatically affected by receiving the gospel.  With each relationship he provides a corresponding responsibility:

 

*Our relationship to God... Offer reasonable service. (12:1-2) *Our relationship to other believers... Minister our gifts. (12:3-16) *Our relationship to our enemies...Overcome evil, with good. (12:17-21) *Our relationship to rulers…Be subject. (13:1-7) *Our relationship to our neighbors... Owe nothing but love. (13:8-14) *Our relationship to weaker believers... Receive and edify. (14:1-23)

 

Realizing the benefit of an example when transitioning from theory to practice, in chapter 15, Paul provides three examples of people who ministered to others.  He begins with the ministry of Christ and how He pleased and received others (15:1-13).  Next, he provides himself as an example of one that forwarded God’s message (15:14).  Finally, he holds up the Gentile churches and their sacrificial giving to the impoverished saints at Jerusalem as an example (15:25-35).

 

In chapter 16, God finds an incredible way to teach us about the important keys to Paul’s ministry.  Paul sends his greetings to 26 individuals, two households, and several churches that are meeting in people’s homes.  That’s a lot of relationships, considering they reside in a city that he’s not yet been permitted to visit!  As you read this list, you can’t help but be impressed with the fact that Paul loved people.  No doubt, many of these names represented people he had personally won to Christ in other places who now resided in Rome.  It is more than apparent that Paul’s ministry centered around two key things:  the GREAT COMMANDMENT (Loving God and loving people), and the GREAT COMMISSION (Reproducing reproducers — i.e. Making disciples!)  May each of our ministries reflect the same.