Themes from Romans [Series]

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Passage: Romans 1:17 - 32

Introduction: In this letter to the Romans, Paul sets out for Christian people he has never met his understanding of "the Gospel". It is also to prepare the way for a personal visit (see 15:28‑32) when possibly his plan would be to use Rome as his base for a mission to Spain. Romans 1: 16 and 17 may be seen as encapsulating the theme of the letter and of the Good News, which is the revelation of the righteousness of God.

Paul commences his exposition of the Gospel with the theme of judgment "the wrath of God" summarised in verse 18 and elaborated upon in the remainder of the section. In a word God's righteousness is demonstrated in judgment on sin. He begins with wrath rather than grace to show the depth of the human predicament and the extent of our need. Notice the reasons for such righteous judgment:

1. Suppressing the Truth (18‑20)

As will as God's righteousness being revealed, God's wrath is being revealed. We don't like to think of that too much. C.K. Barrett defines wrath as "God's personal (though never malicious or in a bad sense, emotional) reaction against sin". Some regard "ungodliness" as sins against God and "wickedness" as sins against human beings. What they are suppresses, hinders, obscures, the truth about God as who He is!

Consider the appeal to general revelation, (19‑20) i.e. God manifest in creation. Notice the outcome. Although such revelation is only partial, "they are without excuse". This conclusion will be worked over in the next couple of chapters and the bottom line will be "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (3:23).

DISCUSSION: We think of "judgment" as future. From the context (1:18) Paul sees it as at least partly present. How can you see "the wrath of God is being revealed...."

2. Supplanting the Lord (21‑25)

See how Paul presents sin not in terms of human peccadilloes and spiritual trivia, but with tragic dimensions and cosmic proportions. Knowing the truth about God ‑ cf. v.20 - they rebelled against Him, withholding worship and praise.

·        Their thinking became futile and their understanding was darkened.

·        They claimed "wisdom" but acted as fools, exchanging the glory of God for man‑made idols.

·        "They exchanged the truth about God for the lie" (v.25).The tragic outcome is that "God gave them up or over . . . . .”

DISCUSSION:  How can society today exchange the truth about God for the lie?

3. Subverting the People (26‑32)

This section is a summary of horror. Here is society “given up and handed over” to dishonourable passions, base minds and improper conduct. Notice the progression is from the inside outwards, from Mat is within humanity, rather than environmental factors.

Not content with rebellion against God, they repudiate Him. They cast Him off. Their end is not a new humanity at all; rather they are dehumanized ‑ "senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless" (31). The outcome is topsy-turvy values, where evil becomes good and desirable. Sin is condoned, legalised and applauded. Those who live like that are the new heroes.

DISCUSSION: Compare the picture of judgment in Hebrews 10:31 with that of Romans 1:24, 26 and 28





2 The Righteousness of God

Passage: Romans 3:21‑4:5

Introduction: You come to one of the most crucial passages in Romans. All kinds of key words and ideas are contained in it as well as the pictures or associations they call up. We fail to grasp the full implication of what is set forth in these verses unless and. until we appreciate the black background of the previous two chapters. Paul has been setting out the seriousness of the human situation due to sin and the solemnity of God's judgment. Read through the last section  (3:9‑20) ‑ and the conclusion is "that all men, Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin". This has come about to leave us speechless before and accountable to the living God. (19) Having brought us to this  point Paul proceeds to explain more fully “the righteousness from God” ‑  "But now".


1. The Dilemma of Righteousness: Justification

The problem clearly is that having established God's holiness and glory as well as our sorry human sinfulness ‑ how can we possibly be "declared righteous" or set right with God? This righteousness has been manifested (c.f. 1:17), quite separately from the Law ‑ although both the Law and the prophets look forward to it. How can God who is righteous, set us right with himself and still maintain his integrity? In 4:5 God is described as "him who justifies the ungodly". Justify/justification is essentially a figure from the law court. The accused, tried, found guilty and condemned, is rather acquitted and released. Thus just as "all have sinned" (23) so "all who believe" (22) receive the righteousness of God and are justified. This is a gracious, saving, act of God ‑ undeserved and unmerited.         

DISCUSSION: "Nothing in my hand I bring" ‑ how can we appreciate more the fact that it is God who sets us right with himself?  In what ways do we forget this truth? 

2. The Demand of Righteousness: Propitiation/Expiation

See again verses 24 and 25a. Depending on your version the work of Christ on the cross is described as "propitiation" or "expiation". The Greek “hilasterion” should be translated literally as the former, although both ideas are related. Donald Guthrie shows that the difference is important. Expiation relates to sins. Propitiation relates to God. Expiation is an act which permits the removal of the consequence of sin. Propitiation is an act which enables God to receive the sinner. Clearly, in the death of Christ God himself is involved ‑ He is not just being appeased or bought off. Notice verse 25 "God put (him) forward" (cf. 2 Cor  5:19). In this event God is indeed taking seriously both his own holiness and righteousness and our sin and condemnation. Redemption always implies more than mere  liberation (!) ‑ it includes Christ's offering up of himself/his life as a ransom ‑ cf. Mark 10:45.

DISCUSSION:  Read again verses 24‑25a, now share with one another something which has become precious or meaningful to you from them.

3. The Demonstration of Righteousness: Grace and Faith

The principle by which this righteousness from God can be received is set out.

·        We are “justified by his grace as a gift” (24) or "freely by his grace" (NIV ). The emphasis is on the initiative, goodness and generosity of God. 

·        “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ” (22) The element of faith is emphasised "to all who believe". Faith, not works, merit or boasting is what is important! Even faith itself is a gift of God (cf. Eph.2:8).

·        A pattern of this principle at  work is given in Abraham (4:1‑5) who “believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”.  Thus Paul goes back before Moses and the giving of the Law to the father of the people of God!

DISCUSSION:  How is the word. "faith" sometimes misused? What should it involve?




Passage: Romans 5:1‑11

Introduction:  William Barclay has described these verses from Romans 5 as “one of Paul's great lyrical passages”. Now we have the dominant notes of wonder, confidence, assurance and exultation. “Therefore” (1) introduces us to the results of “the righteousness from God through faith in Jesus Christ” (3:22). Like the parlour game, “another consequence was” - Paul spells out the consequences which. flow on to us from God's gracious activity in justifying us.

1 . The Fruits of Justification (1-5)

See the blessings which flow on to us through God's saving action:

·        “peace with God” rather than the wrath/judgment which was our due. No longer estranged - we are at harmony with God in a new relation­ship.

·        “access by faith to this grace” ‑ access not merely in terms of an effective introduction to God, but going on from there, by virtue of our new relationship having confidence in his presence. Thus we enjoy "every spiritual blessing in Christ" (Eph.1:3).

·        Our “hope of sharing the glory of God” - We who, apart from Christ, were under condemnation and had "no hope" now rejoice in this glorious presence forever! God's glory once held terror for us as sinners. Now it occasions joy, praise and worship.

·        Notice, “we rejoice in” something else ‑ our sufferings/tribulations. Here is a spiral of discipleship. Tribulations are these things which put pressure on us in life. These things produce in us perseverance or steadfast endurance ‑ the ability to bear up and to withstand it. That in turn produces tested character of proven value or worth, which in its turn brings forth hope - true confidence for the future.

·        The Holy Spirit is constantly at work pouring God's love into our hearts.

DISCUSSION:  Share with one another one of the blessings from justification in which you particularly rejoice.

2. The Foundation of Justification (6‑8)

Having touched on the theme of the love of God, Paul now explores something of its depths as revealed in the cross.

·        What three words does he use to describe our condition outside of Christ ?     _____________________

            __________________________                    __________________________

·        Christ offering up his life runs counter to human experience. For a righteous man or even for the Greek ideal of “the good man”, some might be willing to sacrifice themselves. Jesus gave himself for the unworthy, the undeserving and the unlovely.

·        In the cross God is showing his own great love to us. The Father and the Son are at one in the cross.

DISCUSSION:  What does it mean "at the right time" (our old friend "kairos") Christ died?

3. The Fulness of Justification (9‑11)

The salvation thus secured for us in Christ is full (not deficient in anything); final (nothing needs to be added to it) and everlasting (its validity will never run out). It will stand for time and eternity. Again notice our justification is described as "by his blood" (RSV) "by Christ's sacrificial death" (NEB) and "at the cost of his blood" (C.K. Barrett). It cannot be taken lightly.

Paul changes the figure in verse 10. By his “dying for us" (Phillips) Christ reconciled us to God even when we were his enemies. Now that we have believed, now we are justified, now we are his disciples indeed we can be certain and assured of our final salvation "through his living in us" (Phillips).  

A further ground of assurance our present rejoicing in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. The burden is lifted. We are accepted in the Son. The terror is gone. There is only rejoicing in the God who gives us such reconciliation to possess and enjoy.

DISCUSSION:    How can we "rejoice in God`?          






Passage: Romans 6:1‑23

Introduction: Now that God has set us right (justification), freed us from the bondage of sin (redemption), brought us into a new relationship with Himself (reconciliation) and put new life within us (regeneration)  -how can we keep going             on  for God? In chapter 6 Paul demonstrates how God in Christ has set us free to live for him. In Christ, by his blood he has sanctified us ‑ set us apart for himself ‑ and throughout our lives will keep on sanctifying us, making us more and more like Jesus.

1. The Christian and Sin (1‑2)

Remember, Paul was often accused of preaching an easy Gospel because of his talk of grace and faith without works or any human merit. God forgives our sin and we receive his pardon. In this he is glorified. Does this mean as believers ‑ we glorify him all the more by deliberately continuing in sin. That is the point of the question in (1). In the 1st Century church people thought like this. In our own day sometimes we sit very lightly to sin. What should be our attitude to sin? Paul says (2) remember you are dead to sin.

DISCUSSION:   How do we presume upon God's goodness, on his abounding grace?

2. The Christian and Christ (3‑10)

Paul now spells out the practical realities of our relationship with Christ. So often we think it is "only" a case of repenting, believing in him and committing ourselves to him. “Do we not know” says Paul, and explains the significance of their baptism.                                                                                                                                                                                    .

·        By faith we die with him on the Cross ‑ see verses 4,5 and 6.

·        By faith we are buried with him ‑ verse 4.

·        By faith we are raised with him.

Notice this resurrection is not only in the future (verses 8‑10) but present (4) so that "we too might walk in newness of life".                                                                                                    

DISCUSSION: How do you feel about such a dramatic solidarity with Christ? Share some other verses that speak of our real union with Christ.

3. The Christian and Temptation (11‑14)

Because we are living in union with Christ we must adopt some practical attitudes if this "body of sin" (6) is not to reassert itself.

·        What has to be considered/reckoned/”counted” ‑ see verse 11. How can we do this?

What does it mean  - negatively and positively?

·        What has to be let or allowed ‑ or not see verse 12. What does it mean?

·        What has to be yielded/offered/surrendered or not ‑ see verse 13. how can we do this?

4. The Christian and Righteousness (15‑23)

The key concept in this section is obedience (e.f.1:5). The figure he uses is slavery. As, Harrison points out: "the believer must face the fact that his salvation actually means a change of bondage. As he once served sin, he is now committed to a life of practical righteousness." We are not set free to set our own standards or go our own way or to please ourselves. Either sin is reigning in our lives or grace is reigning (5:21). Remember Jesus' words about trying to serve two masters. Notice the summation of the contrast in (22‑23) beginning “But now” .  Follow it through for yourselves:


Sin reigns Grace reigns
instruments of wickedness instruments of righteousness
fruitlessness and shame righteousness
  eternal life




Passage. Romans 7:7‑25

Introduction: Undoubtedly this is one of the most difficult sections in a very difficult letter.' Small comfort perhaps, but remember it is a bridge, a link between what is taught about sin and our attitude to it in chapter 6 and what he has to say about life in the Spirit in chapter 8. Bearing this in mind, and Remembering some of the practical advice Paul gave in 6:11‑14, here we see something of the reality of the continuing inner struggle with sin. In Christ we have died to sin (6:2) and now, says Paul, to the law (7:4,6) to the end that we‑serve God "in the new life of the Spirit. 'What is the relationship between the eternal triangle of sin, law and ourselves as humans. This, Paul now seeks to explain.

1. Sin and the Law (7‑12)

By saying we have died to the law ‑ is it suggested that “the law is sin" (7)? Paul is still too much of the pious Jew ever to say anything like that! "By no means". The law - not merely in command­ments and prohibitions ‑ but in the gracious teaching is from the holy, just and good Lord of all. Thus the conclusion is (12) "the commandment is holy, just and good" also. The law shows up sin, that is how we recognize it for what it is (c.f. James 1:22‑25). He cites the tenth commandment and the principle of coveting, no specific  is given. Twice (8,11) he speaks of "sin ‑finding opportunity in the­ commandment". In the original this is a military term referring to a base of operations. Say to a child, "Don't do that, go there or touch the other" ‑ and what happens?

* DISCUSSION:  So often we regard our soul struggle as against specific sins or habits. What is Paul saying here

2. Sin and the Self (13‑20)

The law is spiritual, we are “unspiritual” (NIV) that is we are men and women of flesh. It should be noted Paul uses the present tense from here on. He cannot understand his actions ‑ in the sense of recognizing and approving of them.

·        Sin has another "base of operations" ‑ the human nature we cannot completely shed so long as we are in this life. While not seeking to avoid personal responsibility Paul names the real culprit as indwelling sin (17).

·        He affirms the inability of human nature to deal with the problem; the difference between the will and the deed (18).

·        He sums up his experience in (19).

Blaiklock says, "This must be an utterance of his Christian experience no mere recollection of unregenerate days”. We may consider sin to be dead - but the old nature won’t lie down!

* DISCUSSION:  How does your experience relate to 7:18? Does 1John 1:8 have  relevance here? 

3. Sin and the Struggle (21‑25)

Paul acknowledges the constant war with sin (23). The practical principle/law he has found in his Christian life is that when he wants “to do right, evil lies close at hand” (21). Is that not our experience too? Sanctification does not come by means of the law -  knowing what is right and doing it. Paul says he delights in the law of God, but cannot do it. He is "captive to the law of sin" through his human nature (23)

Hence the impassioned cry for deliverance (24). Immediately the reply comes: “Who...” ‑ “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” As the battle is Now, so is the victory! The scene is set for Chapter 8.

DISCUSSION:  Do you experience this struggle?   Why should the struggle be a witness to being born again

rather than not?





Passage: Romans 8:1‑17


Introduction: We come to one of the great chapters of Romans. Some commentators see "therefore now" (8:1) as relating to the experience described in 7:13‑25. Others, say the link is directly with 7:6. Still others regard it as the pinnacle growing out of chapters 5,6 and 7 or even from chapter 3 onwards. Anyway the chapter begins with instruction (our present study), rises to consolation, and culminates in jubilation.

1. The Release of the Spirit (1‑4)

The condemnation from which we have been set free is both present and future. We have been released from the bondage and futility of "the law (principle) of sin and death". By what? ‑ "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus". "Law" in verse 2 refers to the certainty and regularity operative in sin on the one hand and the Spirit on the other.

Notice what the Father has done (3). He has sent his own Son - grace and compassion. He sent him "in the likeness of sinful flesh" - incarnation. He sent him "for sin" (RSV) or "to be a sin offering" (NIV) ‑ expiation /atonement. Christ's death on the cross has gained the victory over sin in its very base of operations ‑ the flesh. The outcome is that we are set free to “walk . . . . according to the Spirit” (c.f. 6:4).

DISCUSSION:  In what ways should "the law of the Spirit of life" be emphasised by supernaturalness and

spontaneity in us?

2. The Realm of the Spirit (5‑8)

Paul now begins a fairly extended contrast between “flesh” and “Spirit” (Can you think of another place where he does this?) The contrast is what is the regulating principle of our lives, and what governs, controls and directs our lives.  Notice his use of the idea of "minds set on" or mind‑set. Not merely concentration is envisaged but desire (cf. Phil.2:5ff; Col.3:2). What are the marks of the unbelieving life with the mind set on the flesh? See verses 7‑8. As believers are our minds set on the indwelling Spirit, producing life and peace?

DISCUSSION: Share the force of the figure "minds set on" for you?  Does it remind you of the words of Jesus?

3. The Reality of the Spirit (9‑11)

The "if" in verse 9 is not raising doubts about their Christian standing ‑ a positive answer is assumed. What three things has verse 9 to say about the Holy Spirit in relation to all believers? Now verse 10 "Christ is in you" ‑ thus although the "body" is dead on account of sin, the Holy Spirit is giving life ‑ because you are righteous before God (C.K. Barrett). In verse 11 the Spirit is the harbinger of the life to come.

* DISCUSSION: Share something that blesses you from this section.

4. The Reassurance of the Spirit (13~17)

The Spirit is given to help us in our pilgrimage and to assure us we belong to God.

·        We have an obligation (NIV) to put to death the wrong things ‑cf. 6:11‑14. The Spirit helps us to do this (13).

·        We are “led . . .  by the Spirit” - cf. John10 ‑ guided and protected (14)

·        We are not slaves but "family" - adopted into God's family by the  Spirit of sonship (15).

·        We have the Spirit "bearing witness with our Spirit" ‑ so we can cry "Father".

·        We have been transformed from slaves to sin, to children in the family, to heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ (17).

* DISCUSSION: Praise God together for his loving mercy and gracious purpose for us. 




7. The Hope of Glory

Passage: Romans 8:18 ‑39


Introduction: In Bunyan’s classic tale, Pilgrim leaves the City of Destruction and after many adventures, difficulties and trials arrives at the Celestial City. So for Paul in his Gospel, the sinner - once rightly given over to judgment, but now justified by grace through faith, is sustained through his life in the Spirit and is brought at last safe to glory.

* 1. Our Consolation with regard to present Sufferings [18-25]:

The suffering and the difficulties are real [cf 5:3-5] but we look beyond them to the even greater reality of the coming glory. Notice creation itself eagerly awaits that time [19] for at present everything is in bondage to futility [20] and to decay [21]. Creation is said to “groan” waiting for the birth of the new order. Believers also “groan” as they too wait. Meanwhile we have the first fruits of the Spirit [23]. He is the indwelling Spirit constantly at work within us, transforming us in the present, and fitting us for the future. The references to adoption, redemption and salvation in this section relate to the future aspects of these blessings rather than our present experience and enjoyment of them.

DISCUSSION:  Share with one another how you see the “futility and hope” message of this section to be relevant today.

* 2. Our Convictions with regard to inner Fears [26-30]:

It is one of the functions of the Holy Spirit to be our helper. He helps us in our prayers [26-27]. When words fail, He takes over with “sighs too deep for words”. Thus He bears us up in the face of every difficulty.

In verses 28-30 we are assured of our security because of God’s sovereignty. “In everything God works for good with those who loive him”. Do we truly believe that? Paul now gives a short summary of God’s sovereign purpose for his people. From eternity he destined us to become like his Son. He called us to himself. He justified us by his grace. He will bring us safe home to the glory of his presence.

DISCUSSION:  “If the Spirit indwells the Christian - and that has been the chapter’s insistent theme - then God’s mind mingles with ours in our prayers”. - E M Blaiklock

* 3. Our Confidence with regard to future Glory [31-39]:

This section is full of assurance, victory and jubilation. As we face the future of time and eternity, sometimes we ask ourselves if it will all work out. See how God has acted on our behalf [32]. Notice the series of questions and answers in verses 33, 34 and 35. Think them through for yourself.

“In all these things” we are super-victorious. We are not absolved from trouble, suffering and danger in the world. We triumph over them because nothing can come between us and the love of God mediated through Christ Jesus our Lord.

DISCUSSION:  Share with your group one blessing you have found in this section.






Passage: Romans 9 ‑11 (selected)

Introduction: Too often we jump from the end of chapter 8 to the beginning of chapter 12. We ignore 9‑11, having a vague recollection of familiar verses in chapter 10. These three chapters cannot be ignored. They are an integral part of the letter, rather than an "aside". In them Paul now vindicates the righteousness of God in his dealings with Israel. Even in his summary (11:16‑17) he has spoken of the Gospel as "for the Jew first and also to the Greek". In these chapters however, while referring to God's people as the Jews twice ‑ he now consistently speaks of them as Israel (10 times) ‑ the people of promise, the covenant nation.

1. The Tragedy of God's People

Paul sets out the various elements in this unfolding drama:

·      See who they are ‑ their identity, their background, their blessings, their opportunities ‑ read 9:4‑5.

·      See Paul's burden for them ‑ in this regard he is like the OT. prophets in his anguish of spirit and agony of concern for his people - read 9:1‑3; 10:1. Do we have a similar burden for our community or our country?

·      See their blindness ‑ They are zealous for God but it is not enlightened. They prefer their traditions to the truth God has made plain in Jesus. They are concerned to be righteous on their own terms ‑ rather than through the righteousness which comes from faith in Christ ‑ read 10:2‑4.

·      See their willfulness ‑ They stubbornly persist in going their own way. They refuse to yield to the gracious call of God. Read 10:21

DISCUSSION:  From the example of Israel how can our spiritual privileges be a danger to us?

2. The Testimony of God's Power

•         With the calling of the church what has that to say about Israel. "Has God rejected his people?" (11:1). No way, says Paul. He may have judged them but there is a faithful remnant (see 11:2‑7). Notice salvation has always been by grace ‑ see also 9:6ff. ­Further note the emphasis on God's sovereignty (9:14‑24).

•         What is the relationship between the Church and Israel? Has the new superseded the old? Paul says rather the Gentiles are like "a wild and live shoot" grafted onto the olive tree (11:17f). Elsewhere he says salvation has come to the Gentiles to provoke Israel to "jealousy" (10:19;   11:11).

•         See Paul's warning to believers about their attitudes towards God and his mercies ‑ see 11:19‑22.

DISCUSSION:   What can we learn from these passages of God's judgment and grace?

3. The Triumph of God's Purpose

Earlier Paul has spoken of a "remnant" within Israel. Now he speaks of "the others" (11:23) having opportunity to repent and return. He speaks again of the "hardening" which has come upon a part of Israel. To what end ‑ see 11:25ff. Until the full numbers of the Gentiles come in “and so all Israel will be saved”. The principle is that "the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable" (11:29). The summary of God's gracious purpose of salvation ‑ the righteousness which comes from faith ‑ is in 11:32! Notice the twofold use of “all”. The apostle concludes with a blessing -  praising God for who he is and what he has done (33‑36). 

DISCUSSION:   Read the concluding blessing together (11:33-36) and share with one another something that has grabbed you in it.




Passage: Romans 12

Introduction: Now begins the practical section of the letter. In the light of all that has been discussed  hitherto, how shall we then live? In chapter 12 Paul makes an impassioned plea for real consecration in key areas of Christian living.

1.     Discipleship (1‑2)

"Therefore" (1) links this new part of the letter with all Paul has said since 1:17 and not just the immediately preceding section. It is introduced by an urgent, passionate appeal to give ourselves unreservedly to the Lord. The basis is "the mercies of God" ‑ what do you think this means? We are to offer up our whole selves ‑ including our bodies ‑ to God. While the offer is made once‑for‑all, as it were, what is in view is a life of service to God. The next verse spells out what is involved in the "living sacrifice" being “holy” and “acceptable”, our "spiritual worship". What is called for is not superficial or cosmetic but radical, not token commitment but total commitment. This is how we enter into all God has for us. Rather than letting the world around us squeeze us into its mold, we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us.

DISCUSSION:  What is the significance of the reference to the renewed mind in this section? 

2. Membership (3‑8)

In view of verses 1 and 2 what of our membership of the Church, our life in the Body of believers and our participation in its ministry?

·        He calls for valid personal assessment (3) There is always the danger, as here, of over‑valuing the contribution we can make. But we can also under‑value ourselves (cf.1 Cor l2:15‑17).

·        He calls for real mutual recognition within the Body (4‑5). We belong to Christ. We belong to one another. We belong together.

·        He calls for the identification, affirmation and use of our gifts of ministry (6‑8). What is the principle of gifts set out here? ­Note the specific gifts mentioned in these verses. Can you recognise them in persons in your group? Feel free to say so! Appreciate one another's gift!

DISCUSSION:   What excites you in these verses?

3. Fellowship (9‑13)

Again, the appeal of the opening verses relates directly to the practical instructions of this section.

·        Authentic love, requires us to repudiate evil and to hold on firmly to the good. (9)                                        

·        Loving relationships means that the only rivalry to exist is to outdo one another in honouring one another. (10).            

·        Keep up the good work ‑ and how to do it (11)                                                                                               

·        Notice the link between hope ‑ troubles and prayer (12)                                                                                   

·        Generosity and hospitality (15)

DISCUSSION:   What attributes in these verses do we need to foster?    Why?

4. Hardship (14~21)

How we can apply the principle of the life‑offered up to God as an act of dedicated worship to the difficult situations of life? Paul enumerates some of these now. Read through them. Try to visualize such situations. He begins with persecution ‑ does that take our breath away? Do we always find it easy to "rejoice with those who rejoice"? Living in harmony sounds fine, but what about God's awkward squad? Don't seek to get your own back on others ‑ but turning the other cheek isn't easy!

DISCUSSION:   What lessons have you learned from these verses about living in the alien environment of the world?





10. Attitudes and Obligations

Passage: Romans 13

Introduction: What is presented to us here in chapter 13 is not in isolation from what has gone before. It deals with a consecrated, committed, practical Christian life-style in the world. It emphasises our attitudes and obligations in particular directions.

* 1. To submit to established authority [1-7]:

While this section is a self-contained treatment of a special theme, it does relate to Christian responsibilities as outlined above. “It is the most notable passage in the New Testament on Christian civic responsibility” [Harrison]. Remember our Lord’s words, “Give to Caesar, what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” [Matthew 22:21]. So then, what is the Christian’s attitude to the state, the civil power?

·        The Principles of Authority [1,2] - Here civil authority is linked to order for the general, public good. It is part of God’s purpose in creation. It is a delegated authority from the Creator.

·        The Purpose of Authority [3-7] - The fundamental purpose is to uphold good and to restrain evil. The concept of “justice” looms large and we need to remember God is the God of justice.

·        The Problems of Authority - What about protest or civil disobedience on grounds of conscience to particular government policy or legislation. The Church does have a prophetic role to play in relation to the state, but how is this best done? Remember in 19th century Britain successive governments had to bear in mind the non-conformist conscience of a significant proportion of the electorate. Remember the role of the Confessing Church in Nazi Germany. Not so long ago in New Zealand it would have been a very foolish government which did not consult with the appropriate committees of the mainline churches on proposed legislation - but now?

DISCUSSION:  How can we relate biblically to the State - both personally and corporately?

* 2. To love one another [8-10]:

There is a powerful play on the idea of indebtedness or obligation [8]. Our continuing, never-ending obligation is to love one another. This was our Lord’s specific command [John 13:34, cf 15:12]. Indeed, this is the hallmark of our authentic discipleship [cf John 13:35]. We dare not equate love for our neighbour with love for people we like, or even people like-minded with ourselves. The attitude embraces any and all - including people very different from ourselves.

DISCUSSION:  What does verse 10 mean for you?  What kind of love “fulfills” the law?

* 3. To remember the future [11-14]:

Believers should always be living in the light of eternity, the bright promise of the day of Jesus Christ.

·        We should be alert to the situation - not snoozing or day-dreaming

·        We should be aware that our final salvation is coming progressively nearer

·        We should act decisively - putting off the works of darkness and putting on the armour of light.

·        We should be living absolutely for Christ the Lord

DISCUSSION:   In what ways have we been too complacent regarding the truths of this section? 






11. Kingdom ‑Motivations

Passage : Romans 15

Introduction: In this chapter Paul lays before his readers some biblical perspectives regarding their life together, as well as a strategy for mission and service. He raises issues which should cause us to think long and deeply about our motivations concerning the Church and the Kingdom.

1. A Ministry of Edification (1‑14)

Paul is concerned with building up the Church and individual believers. Internal divisions threaten fragmentation. He distinguishes between "the strong" and "the weak" (1). See the marks of such a motivation towards the building‑u ' of the Lord's people.

·      We understand the Church as a community of believers ‑ we cannot just "do our own thing", please ourselves (1,2).

·      We have the example of Jesus. (3)

·      We appreciate that feuding, friction and fighting detract from the Glory of God and oneness among believers is a positive testimony to the Lord.(5,6)

·      We are to "receive one another" (KJV) "welcome one another" (RSV) “accept one another” (GNB, NIV) because that is what Christ did for us. (7)

·      We know the Lord is working in his Church. (13)

·      We have confidence in others believing that they are growing and maturing in the Lord. (14)

·      DISCUSSION:       Share with one another how you respond to these components of a ministry of edification.

2. A Ministry of Evangelization (15‑21)

Another passionate concern of Paul's life was reaching out together with the Good News. We have seen it in his summary in the introduction to his letter (1:16f). In proclaiming Christ as Lord he sees himself as fulfilling "the priestly service of the Gospel of God" (16). While emphasising the glory is God's (17) he nonetheless dares to say his "ambition" has always been to be a pioneer on the frontiers of the Kingdom. (21) He can sum up his evangelistic endeavours: "I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ" (19).

DISCUSSION: What is our ambition for ourselves and for Greyfriars?

Is it right to speak of a holy ambition?

3. A Ministry of Administration (22‑29)

Now Paul talks of his plans and God's purposes. He is not afraid of thinking ahead ‑ of planning in his Kingdom‑tasks!

·      He plans ministry in Rome ‑ and using it as a base for a mission to Spain (24)

·      He has been concerned with the collection for the believers in Judea and is on the point of leaving for Jerusalem (25‑27).

·      He anticipates a time of rich blessing with them (28‑29).

·      DISCUSSION: Does planning negate faith or can we plan "in faith?”

4. A Ministry of Intercession (30‑33)

Notice ‑ "I appeal to you" (RSV) or “I urge you” (NIV). The same emphatic word used in 12:1 is used here. It is no light matter. There is the note of urgency'. You might say he is concerned for believers to be “getting in behind" in prayer. To be an intercessor means we are lifting up to God the cares and concerns of the Church and the world. It is hard work ‑ "to strive together with me in your prayers" (30). He foresees difficulty (31) and seeks deliverance. Notice how even apostles need spiritual refreshment with others (32) .

* DISCUSSION: Do you think we do not take praying for one another seriously enough - personally or in housegroups?


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