Romans 14:1-16:27 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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A Minister of Christ Jesus
Comments for Study 11

Romans 14:1-16:27
Memory Verse: 15:16


I. A Spirit of Unity with one Heart and Mouth (14:1-15:13)
Do Everything in the Lord (14:1-12)

>1. What conflict arose in the Roman church between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians? (1-5)

* Romans 14:1-5 "Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind."

* They passed judgement on each other. (1)

* There was disputing. (1)

* They looked down on each other. (1)

* There was no one big problem, just a whole lot of little problems.

* "weak" -The Jews who followed the letter of the law.

* "strong" -The Gentiles who accepted the message of grace.

* Mark 7:18 Jesus taught that nothing that enters a body is unclean.

* "one day more sacred than another" -the Jew who accepted Jesus as the Messiah wanted to follow the Feasts of the Lord that was in Leviticus 23 and other feasts days that the Jews had set up since they returned from captivity in Babylon. Not only did the Jews follow the few requirements laid down in the Old Testament, but they built up social and family traditions around the Lord's Feasts. The traditions sometimes meant more to the Jesus believers in Jesus than the actual meaning of the Feasts. These Jews are on different then the Messianic Jews today.

* "another man considers every day alike" -The Roman Christians knew little or none of the meaning of the Feasts. They had no history of them in their society and family traditions built up around the feasts like the Jewish believers did. Many of the Roman believers saw the fulfilment of many of them in Jesus and therefore didn't consider them that important to keep.

* The difference of opinions, beliefs and traditions caused disharmony between Jewish and Gentile believers.

* Every day I make decisions that concern matters of my faith in Jesus just like many of Jesus's followers (1). Interesting is that we have many different ideas on how to express and exercise our Christian faith. Put 100 Christians in one room to discuss matters of faith on a particular subject and they will express 157.54 different ideas.

What is faith? Faith is being sure of what I hope for and certain of unseen things (Heb. 11:1). Unseen things are hard if not impossible to define and explain. A decision of faith is thus based on what I believe Jesus taught.

Faith and decisions of faith are not simply a matter of yes and no, nor just do or don't. Can I eat meat? Or should I only eat vegetables (2)? Should I observe every Passover in Jerusalem according to the Law? Should I go to church on Saturday (Sabbath) or is going Sunday acceptable (5)? Should I run for my life, or should I make a stand of faith and possibly die (7). Should I get a vaccine or not? Should I become a monk, pastor, priest, or remain a layman?

Not everyone has the same degree of faith, just like not everyone has the same degree of love and hope (1). Faith is a verb more than a noun just as love and hope are. Faith is like my muscles. Exercise and eat right and my muscles grow. Thus is it with faith. This is the reasons we Christians have such varying degrees of decisions of faith.

God accepts and welcomes any degree of faith (3). I must accept this. Acceptance includes no judgment of others. No judgment means that I cannot criticize (4, 10). They, like me, will give an account to Jesus for the de unions made (12). They don't have to give an account to me just as I don't have to give an account to them.

>What similar problems are according today as more and more Jews accept Jesus as the Messiah, and more and more Gentiles are returning to the early church's holy days?

* The Lord walks everyone in a different customized life of faith. Everyone has different backgrounds and spiritual maturity. Everyone has different tendancies and habits. Everyone's brains are wired differently and we have unique personalities. Everyone has different futures in this world. Often we find it hard to separate our personal life of faith from where God is leading all of us to. Added to this is the fact that we all are in a weak body that is part of this cursed sin filled world. We have not been fully changed. Our salvation is not complete as Paul stated at the end of the previous chapter. Therefore, while believers in Jesus have the same core belief we often differ on the grey areas. At the same time we may even have different opinions on what is core and what is grey. The church today is no different than the church in Rome that Paul was writing to.

>2. What should be the fundamental motivation of believers in Jesus in solving these problems? (1, 6, 9)

* Romans 14:1 "Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. "

* Romans 14:6-9 "He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. "

* Do all for the Lord. (1)

* Accept him who we consider weak in faith.

* Try to see the motivation of the other's actions. If they do what they do with faith and the will to bring glory to God then we should not condemn.

* Jesus is the final judge.

>3. Why shouldn't believers in Jesus condemn and judge each other? (3-4, 10-12)

* Romans 14:10-12 "You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written: "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'" So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. "

* God has accepted him. (3)

* They aren't our servant but christs. (4)

* They stand before Christ. (4, 10)

* Each believer will stand before Jesus and give account for their actions. (12)

Acting in Love (14:13-23)

>4. For what should believers in Jesus make every effort?

* Romans 14:19 "Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification."

* We should not put stumbling blocks in other people's ways. This is done by not doing what we think in right, especially in the grey areas. We should always act in the love of Christ.

* We have power of influence. We should not discourage. This does not mean that we shouldn't pray for them and if it is our place to teach we should teach.

* We should be conscience of what we do. We should not strike back.

* The freedom in Christ's kingdom is so grandeur and extensive. God's kingdom is about pleasing God, living in peace, and true happiness (17). It's not about dietary plans and laws. In fact, it has nothing to do about any law.

I read a book by a man who thought he knew what heaven was like, though he himself never went there. In his book he describes his meeting with a Texas man while traveling and speaking about the kingdom of heaven. The Texas man asked, "Is there steaks in heaven? I love steaks, and if there is no steaks in heaven, then it isn't heaven to me. I don't want to go there." The author thought about it and said, "If eating steaks is heaven for you, then you will eat them in heaven.' (I am not directly quoting.)

Here, Paul says that the kingdom of heaven is not about eating and drinking (17). In this life I can eat and drink whatever i want as long as i don't hinder the life of faith of other believers (20), and as long as my conscience is not smeared by some false understanding (22-23).

Do you not know God? Do you not experience his presence, even for a little while every once in awhile? Have you even briefly tasted God? Taste and see that the Lord is good food (John 6:48-58)! Drink from the well that takes away all thirst (John 4:13-14)! That little taste of the kingdom of God I experience in this life is barely an appetizer to what awaits the faithful.

The two men talking about meat in heaven is missing one bright truth about the kingdom of God: it is all about God in his pure perfect experience. Taste Jesus and drink Jesus and you'll never want to eat steak again Mr. Texas Steakman. Ingest Jesus and all you will crave is Jesus there on. Be brought to heaven and experience God satisfy your peace and true happiness, then all you will want for the rest of your life is to go back there again forever and feast forever on the goodness of God.

>What should be its motivation?

* Romans 14:20-23 "Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin."

* We should not destroy the work of God. (20)

* sometimes it is important to keep quiet on the grey areas. (22)

* We should live by faith in Jesus. (23)

That We Might Have Hope (15:1-13)

>5. What should be the attitude of strong believers in Jesus toward their neighbors? (1-2)

* Romans 15:1-2 "We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. "

* Self denial is important. We should live for the benefit of others in the body of Christ.

* We should do all we can do to build up others.

* Know others weaknesses and pray for them to overcome. It is OK to know, but it is wrong to judge.

>In doing this, what pain do they have to overcome?

* Romans 15:3-6 "For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me." For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

* Others insult believers. The most damaging insults come from family, friends and co-workers. Even worse than these is the insults of those who confess they are followers of God and Jesus.

* "through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures" -Bible study is important.

* "with one heart and mouth" -God loves unity in worship.

* How is it possible to have hope and peace in troubled uncertain times, with people in power who only think of themselves at the expense of the weak and helpless? Looking at the terrible actions of many can suck hope out of anyone.

The answer to the question is in verse 5. God gives endurance and encouragement. When I am down, God can and will loft me up. I have learned to stop, turn to him, and sing a song of prayer and praise.

Added to that direction verse 4 also gives qnotjer direction as to where to find hope. The Bible teaches endurance and encouragement. Endurance and encouragement provide hope. When I think of those in the Bible who had no way to hope find hope, I endure. Jesus said, "I leave you peace." His words provide hope.

>6. What do we have to remember to overcome the difficulty of building up others? Think about the example of Christ and the hope God gave us.

* Romans 15:7-9 "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: "Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name.""

* Jesus endured so much so that I could be saved. He endured the crowds constantly pressing on him. He endured the religious leaders who worked to destroy his name and ministry. He endured the rejection of his hometown and family. He endured the stubborn hearts of the apostles and those who followed him. He endured the weather and lack of food.

* We should not live according to our feelings and desires, but according to the world mission vision that Jesus gave us.

* God made promises to the patriarchs. He kept those promises even though it meant that their descendants, the Jews crucified him.

* Jacob understood God's plan for the Gentiles and that his descendants would reject the Messiah. That is why he blessed Joseph's sons. Joseph's sons were from and Egyptian mother, a Gentile. The Messiah came through Judah and so Jacob blessed him as such, but the blessings of the Messiah fell on Joseph's sons, the Gentiles. So now the Gentiles glorify God and the Jews hang on to traditions of men. Soon however, and even now the seeds are sown for Judah to come back to their God, Jesus the Messiah.

II. A Minister of Christ Jesus (15:14-16:27)
Apostle Paul, a Pioneer (15:14-21)

>7. What is Paul's motivation for writing this letter to them? (14-15)

* Romans 15:14-15 "I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me "

* Paul wanted to remind them of what they already knew. Jesus taught his disciples the same teachings over and over so it would stick with them.

* I am convinced from studying Paul's life and plans found in his letters and the book of Acts that Proverbs 16:1-3 is true even in the lives of the most blessed of Jesus's believers. "We humans make plans, but the Lord has the final word. We may think we know what is right, but the Lord is the judge of our motives. Share your plans with the Lord, and you will succeed."

Paul had the Holy Spirit and was greatly used by the Spirit. God used Paul to spread the gospel to the Gentiles 1,200 miles (2,000 Kms), from Jerusalem to Illyricum (16-19). During Paul's 3 main journeys God planted churches, raised future church leaders, and performed miracles. The Holy Spirit also used Paul to write or influence nearly half the New Testament. If the church were to decorate gospel heroes as the military does, Paul would be pinned with many ribbons.

Yet, even though all these amazing works of the Holy Spirit were performed through Paul, did Paul know about every step of the way he was to go all the time? No. Paul seldom knew though he made plans. Did the Holy Spirit always show him the way to go? Not right away in most if not any cases. Did Paul make plans that never happened as he planned? Often. Did it deter him?

Paul laid out his short and long-term plans in these verses as well as in his letters to Corinth. Acts 20 and 21 records his plans and what actually happened.

As Paul wrote this letter he was bringing a financial offering from the Gentile churches to the needy Jerusalem and Judean congregations. He planned after that to go to the yet unreached Roman territory Spain to preach the gospel, stopping on his way at Rome to get support for that planned missionary journey. Paul was so confident in this plan at this writing that he wrote, "I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ. (29)"

However, Paul's plans never transpired as he believed. Not only that, in Ephesus Paul would soon tell the believers, "And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me."

I am so glad to learn this about Paul. There is nothing wrong nor unusual about uncertainty when it comes to my specific future. Proverbs 16:1-3 is a comfort. "We humans make plans, but the Lord has the final word." I can and should make plans. I can then take comfort knowing that God has my back. Even if I make poor plans, God has the final determination. I tell him my plans and in peace see what transpires. He loves me and his plans are the best. Sure, Paul didn't want to be arrested and tried. Yet, he did make it to Rome under Roman protection and provision. He never did make it to Spain.

>8. What is the grace and power he received from God? (16, 18)

* Romans 15:16-18 "to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done--"

* God has called all his people to be ministers to others. Each in his own way.

* "minister" -The Greek word here is used only five places in the New Testament meaning, "a public servant, i.e. a functionary in the Temple or Gospel, or (genitive) a worshipper (of God) or benefactor (of man)."

>How did he bear this grace?

* Paul glorified Jesus in his service to God.

* "temple priest" -The priest made offerings and prayed to God in the temple which foreshadowed what has now happened in the church. Paul sacrificed himself as a living offering and prayed to God in the temple of his body. In doing so, Paul was following Jesus' example who sacrificed himself and prayed for his followers.

* "except what christ has accomplished through me" -Paul did only what he was lead to do by Christ.

>9. How do verses 19 and 20 show Paul's pioneering spirit? (19-20)

* Romans 15:19-20 "by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. 20 It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation."

* Paul had always wanted to preach Jesus to people who had not heard the gospel.

* "Illyricum" -Illyricum (Illyria) was a Roman providence in Europe meaning "the Balkans" and is now modern Yugoslavia.

* "I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ" -A mission for all of us if only to neighbors, family and friends.


>10. What is Paul's purpose in mentioning his priestly duty and pioneering spirit to the Roman believers at this time?

* Romans 15:21 "Rather it is written: "Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.""

* He wanted them to share in the blessings of Christ and the gospel mission.

* Paul wanted to go to them, but was hindered. (22)

Apostle Paul, a Missionary (15:22-33)

>11. What is Paul's plan for his mission?

* Romans 15:22-23 "This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you. But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to see you, "

* Paul wanted to preach and work amongst them.

* "have often been hindered" -sometimes we want to go somewhere for Christ and serve somewhere for christ, but God does not allow us. What was result of God hindering Paul? This letter which we have had for almost two thousand years.

* Paul's desire to go to them conflicted with his mission to preach where the gospel had not been taught. Paul did not start the church in Rome. God did it through others.

>What are his prayer topics for which he urges the Roman believers to pray for him?

* Romans 15:30-33 "I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen. "

* Paul personally knew how some Jews have been trying to arrest and kill him.

* "and be accepted by the saints there" -Even some of the Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah did not like Paul's work amongst the Gentiles especially teaching them that they live by grace and not keeping the laws. To this day there are people who still feel this way about Paul's teachings.

>Think about Paul's world mission vision.

* Romans 15:24 "I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to visit you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while."

* Paul was very specific in his prayer topics and goals. He did not go around vaguely.

* Paul knew that on his way to Spain he could stop by Rome.

* Paul did not know how God was going to bring him to Rome when he wrote this letter. We learn of how Paul got to Rome in the book of Acts chapters 21 to 28.

Apostle Paul, a Shepherd (16:1-27)

>12. What are the names and the characteristics of those Paul greets? (1-16)

* Phoebe - a servant of the church in Cenchrea.

* Pricilla, Aquila and the church that meets in their home. Acts mentions how they came to know the Lord and how they were greatly used by him.

* Epenetus - first convert in Asia.

* Mary -a hard worker

* Antronicus and Juneas - Paul's "relatives" meaning Jews. They were in Christ before Paul.

* Ampliatus, Urbanus, Stachys -slave names

* Rufus -perhaps the son of the man who was pressed into service by the Romans to help carry the Lord's cross.

* Asyncritus -believed to be grandson of Herod the Great

* The letter ends with a long list of names and greetings from the Corinthian (Cenchreae) and Roman congregations. Seemingly boring at a quick glance. Not so boring with some inspiration.

These people at one time did not know each other. Yet in Christ they came to know each other. They included men and women, leaders and laymen, Jew and Gentile, Roman and Greek, married and single.

Jesus brings people together. Jesus forms communities. Jesus is a congregation of diversity and divinity. Jesus is a group of individual tiles that are placed next to each other forming a colorful mosaic. We are not meant to be alone only watching a service on a screen.

Go to church early and talk to people. Ask to join a small group of people who meet on a regular basis. Go to congregational gatherings and celebrations. Invite others to your house, have a meal and a laugh. Invite acquaintances to join you at church and a meal after. Be hospitable and loving. Jesus loved and lived a public life doing these things. I can follow his example.

Yet be aware that not everyone in a congregation is in Christ. I have seen some like Paul that cause divisions and put obstacles in others' way that are contrary to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. Keep away from them (17-18).

>What is his word of admonishment to them? (17. 20)

* Romans 16:17-20 "I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. 19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. "

>What can we learn from Paul?

* Protect and warn people by teaching the word of truth.

* We are not a one man mission. We must work together.

* co-work with others and recognize God's work in others.

* Call everyone by name in love.

>13. Who are Paul's fellow workers (21-24)

* Romans 16:21-24 "Timothy, my fellow worker, sends his greetings to you, as do Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, my relatives. I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord. Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings. Erastus, who is the city's director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings."

* Each had a duty in his ministry.

>How did Paul treat them?

* With respect.

* Praised God's work through them.

* We all need help.

>14. How is the gospel revealed and made known to people?

* Through the prophet's writings by the command of the eternal God. (26)

>what is the purpose of the gospel? (25-27)

* Romans 16:25-27 "Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him-- to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen. "


* God slowly reveals his work. He have to live by faith in what we do not yet know or understand.

>Through this study, think about two points.

>First, how can we beak the cultural barriers in accomplishing God's will?

>Second, think about the challenging attitude that a minister of Christ Jesus must have.


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