Part 3 of Paul's Letter to the Romans

Discovery for Students

Part 3 of Paul's Letter to the Romans

OVERVIEW
DAYBREAK

SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
Romans 12:1 through 16:27

KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“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. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)

BACKGROUND

Having concluded his discourses concerning the Gospel (chapters 1-8) and God’s dealings with the nation of Israel (chapters 9-11), at this point in his epistle Paul transitioned to practical application. As he instructed his readers regarding the basics of Christian behavior, his primary emphasis was how the transformed life was to be exemplified both in secular society and within the body of believers.

In chapter 12, the Apostle began this section by pointing to the necessity for entire consecration, admonishing the Roman believers to give themselves to Christ as living sacrifices. They were to resist conformity to the world and embrace the transformation that comes through Jesus Christ. He went on in this chapter to describe how Christian love should be demonstrated among believers (verses 3-13), and then toward one’s enemies (verses 14-21).

In chapter 13, Paul dealt with the Christians’ responsibilities as citizens and outlined principles related to submitting to authority. Since it is God who grants the power held by governmental rulers, he encouraged the Roman Christians to submit to “the powers that be.” Specifically, this submission was to manifest itself through the paying of taxes and demonstrating respect for those in authority.

Chapters 14 and 15 focus on the relationship between weak and strong believers. The words “weak” and “strong” found in this passage represent two tendencies of the spiritual mind: one that is exceedingly hyper-sensitive, and the other that is more liberal. While liberty in the Gospel was one of Paul’s themes, the limits of liberty and the importance of not causing a weak brother to violate his conscience is the emphasis of the last half of chapter 14, where Paul cautioned against putting a stumbling block in another brother’s way. Seemingly harmless behaviors could damage others whose consciences were particularly sensitive, so Paul stated that spiritually mature individuals should be willing to forego personal liberties in consideration of the potential impact on their weaker brethren. The liberty that Paul enjoined was not a disregard for distinctions between right and wrong, but referred solely to matters such as ceremonial observances and differences of opinion.

Near the end of chapter 15, Paul began to draw his epistle to a close. The remainder of the letter contains an outline of his plans, along with a series of personal greetings and final words of encouragement. The Apostle related his intention to stop in Rome on his way to Spain, after first taking a contribution from the brethren in Macedonia and Achaia to the poor saints in Jerusalem. Realizing that such a trip would entail danger, he asked to be remembered in prayer. The quantity and variety of individuals named in his salutations illustrate the unifying bond of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul’s companions at Corinth added their greetings, and then the Apostle concluded his epistle with a brief but characteristic benediction invoking the peace of God toward all the saints in Rome.

QUESTIONS

  1. Paul’s words in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you . . .” indicate a fervent appeal. In essence, he was saying, “I strongly appeal to you; I implore you.” He went on to urge the believers to present (or consecrate) themselves completely to God. What three words did the Apostle use to describe the sacrifice he was encouraging them to make? What was the significance of each word?
  2. Paul went on in Romans 12:2 to state that believers were not to be “conformed” to the world, but rather “transformed.” The Greek word translated conformed literally means “to be molded or stamped according to a pattern.” Withstanding pressure to conform will take effort. What are some ways we can actively resist being “molded” or “stamped” with the characteristics and philosophies of the world?
  3. In verses 9-21 of chapter 12, Paul gave a series of brief injunctions that emphasized how an inward transformation was to be evidenced in love for the brethren. Review the list of instructions in these verses. Which directive stands out to you as being particularly applicable to the circumstances of your life, and how might you put the principle into action?
  4. In Romans 13:8, Paul stated that followers of Christ have an obligation of love to others, “for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” He repeated the same thought in verse 10. Why do you think the Apostle regarded love as a “fulfillment” of the Law?
  5. In chapter 14, Paul addressed interactions between strong and weak (or spiritually immature) believers. He admonished strong Christians to be cautious and protective in their dealings with the weak, not to pass judgment on a weaker believer’s perspective, and to refrain from contending with him about insignificant details. In verses 2-3, what example did Paul use to make his point clear?
  6. Romans 15:13 is a brief prayer that Paul prayed for the Roman believers, expressing his desire that they might “abound in hope.” Studies show that a common factor among those who are depressed and discouraged is that they lack hope. What does Paul identify as the source of hope and how do we obtain it?
  7. As Paul explained his future travel plans, he requested the prayers of the saints in Rome. What is implied by the fact that he requested they “strive” in their prayers to God for him? Romans 15:30-32
  8. Paul closed his epistle in chapter 16 by sending greetings to a lengthy list of individuals (verses 1-16). His personal comments went to both men and women, Romans and Greeks, prisoners and prominent citizens, slaves and free. Some of these people are mentioned elsewhere in Scripture; others are referred to only here. In verses 21-23, a number of fellow workers with Paul joined him in extending greetings to the saints in Rome. What does this wide-ranging exchange of greetings reveal about the nature of the fellowship of believers?  

CONCLUSION

Paul’s epistle presented the Gospel to Jewish and Gentile believers in Rome, but through the ages his words have encouraged Christians of all backgrounds to faith in and obedience to Jesus Christ.