Here are a few additional thoughts that we didn’t cover in yesterday’s Bible class at Brown Trail.
When you run out of time in class and can’t cover all the material you prepared, what do you do? Why not cover the material in a video?
Introduction: Chapters 10-11 continue to take the reader deep into a discussion of how the sovereignty of God relates to the Jewish rejection of Jesus and Gentile inclusion in the church. These chapters contain some of the more difficult material in the letter, but also some of the most beautiful.
I. Paul’s Prayer for Israel (10:1-4)
A. Paul’s deep desire is to see Israel embrace the gospel of Jesus and be saved. His Jewish kinsmen are certainly zealous for God, but their enthusiasm is misguided (10:1-2).
B. They are ignorant of the way that God makes men righteous, and in trying to establish their own plan for righteousness, they rejected God’s way (10:3-4).
II. The Basis of Salvation is the Same for All (10:5-13)
A. If righteousness were ever to be attained by law-keeping alone, the requirement would be perfect obedience (10:5).
B. But righteousness that is based on faith does not require the impoosible, like bringing Jesus back to earth to finish any unfinished work. It simply trusts in what Jesus has already accomplished (10:6-10).
C. And this means of justification – faith, not merit – is the same for everyone. There is no distinction in this regard between Jew and Gentile (10:11-13).
III. Israel Has Squandered its Opportunities (10:14-21)
A. The gospel message has been made available through the sending of preachers, and the Jewish people have heard it, but they have not believed it (10:14-18).
B. Instead, the Gentiles have been the ones who have been more receptive, even though God’s benevolent hands remain open for the Jews (10:19-21).
IV. There is Still a Jewish Remnant (11:1-10)
A. Paul puts himself forward as “Exhibit A” that God has not completely abandoned the Jews. He is among the Jewish remnant who have embraced the gospel and justification by faith (11:1-6).
B. Israel, as a whole, “failed to obtain” the justification it was seeking (because they were seeking it through the law itself, not the one to whom the law pointed). Those who understood the gospel and didn’t stumble over Jesus obtained it (11:7-10).
V. The Grafting in of the Gentiles (11:11-32)
A. To illustrate the rejection of the Jews and the acceptance of the Gentiles, Paul uses a comparison that his readers would have been familiar with – the cutting off and grafting in of branches on an olive tree.
B. Paul’s hope in God’s inclusion of the Gentiles is that the Jews, in turn, would desire what the Gentiles had obtained in Christ, and eventually embrace the gospel, too (11:11-16).
C. Speaking to the Gentile Christians in Rome, Paul offers the following:
1. There were natural branches (Jews) who were broken off of the tree and wild branches (Gentiles) who were grafted in, or attached, to the tree (11:17).
2. But just because the Gentiles were grafted in, they should not show arrogance toward the Jews who had been cut off (11:18).
3. While it is true that the breaking off of the natural branches made it possible for the wild branches to be grafted in, that does not mean that the wild branches cannot be broken off, too (11:19-21).
4. God will cut off any branch that does not remain in his goodness and nourish any branch that does (11:22). The key is for each branch to keep living lives of faith.
5. What’s more, if the cut-off Jews cease their unbelief and place their trust in Jesus like the Gentiles did, they will be grafted back in (11:23-24).
6. In summary, Paul affirms many Jews hardened their hearts while many Gentiles opened theirs; but if the Jews want to be saved, it will be in the same manner that the Gentiles were saved – through “the deliverer” that came out of Zion, that is Jesus (11:25-27).
7. Though Jew and Gentile have, in a sense, switched places (from included to excluded), that doesn’t mean that it has to stay that way (11:28-32).
VI. Praise for God’s Wisdom (11:33-36)
A. After this lengthy and deep discussion of the sovereignty of God and how his plan to make men righteous has affected both Jew and Gentile, Paul erupts in words of praise for the God behind it all.
B. His wisdom and judgments are far beyond human ability to fully understand.
Introduction: Paul concluded chapter five with a strong statement about the power of God’s grace. “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (5:20). If that is true, some might try to make the case that we should actually sin more in order to obtain more grace. But Paul will counter that idea in chapter six and explain the relationship that should exist between a Christian and sin.
I. Dead to Sin (6:1-14)
A. Paul asks a question that may have been on the minds of some, “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” His answer is an emphatic negative. Those who have died to sin cannot continue to live in it (1-2).
B. Next he explains that when one is baptized, there is a death, a burial, and a resurrection that take place (3-4).
1. We die to the habitual practice of sin when we make up our minds that we are going to believe in, trust, and follow Jesus. We call that “repentance.” While we will still commit momentary, isolated sins, we will no longer live in sin. It will not dominate our lives like it once did (1 John 3:4-10).
2. Having died to the practice of sin, we are buried in water, and raised from the water into a new life (4). This marks the moment that our lives and our status before God change.
3. An important application point as it relates to baptism and salvation: just as Jesus was not raised to new life until he was first buried, it is the same with one who is baptized. The new life begins after the burial, not before.
C. Explaining further, Paul says that our “old man (self)” was, in a sense, crucified so that our sins would no longer enslave us (6-7; cf. Col. 3:9-10; Eph. 4:20-24).
D. Having been released from the enslaving power of sin, we can now live eternally with him (8-10). Therefore, the Christian should consider himself dead to the practice of sin, but very much alive in relation to God (11).
E. The practical application of the “dead to sin, alive to God” principle is that we are not to allow sin to rule us. We are to present ourselves as instruments of righteousness (12-14).
F. The bottom line is that when one decides to become a Christian, he is making a commitment to live differently. One cannot be joined to Christ in baptism and come up from the water content to live as he did before.
1. So if one is living in adultery, he cannot become a Christian and continue to live in adultery (Col. 3:5-7).
2. If one is a thief, he cannot become a Christian and continue to steal (Eph. 4:28).
3. The Corinthians are a great example of this: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
II. Slaves to Righteousness (6:15-23)
A. Just in case someone might try to contradict Paul’s teaching a different way, the apostle closes that door, too. The possible objection: “If we live under the grace of God, then it shouldn’t matter if we sin. Grace gives us license to live however we want, right?” Wrong (15).
B. Paul explains again, but in different words, what he explained earlier. Everyone serves either sin or righteousness (16). The Christians in Rome had been servants of sin, but when they obeyed the gospel they became servants of righteousness (17-18).
1. The “form” of doctrine refers to what Paul described in 6:3-4. “Form” means pattern. There was a pattern that they imitated when they became Christians.
2. Just as Jesus died FOR sin, was buried in the earth, and raised from that grave, we die TO sin, are buried in water, and raised again. This is how one “obeys the gospel” (1 Cor. 15:1-4; Rom. 10:16; 2 Thess. 1:8; 1 Pet. 4:17).
C. Paul admits to using a rudimentary comparison, but it serves his purpose to communicate the necessity of not being slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness (19).
D. When they were living as slaves to sin, they were producing no fruit worthy of praise. Instead, they were producing things that bring shame and death (20-21). But now as slaves of God, they produce fruit that leads to holiness and eternal life (22).
E. Living in sin brings death. But God offers eternal life as a gift through Jesus Christ (23).
Conclusion: Grace is a blessing too valuable to adequately describe. It is impossible to out-sin the power of God’s grace (Rom. 5:20). But that does not mean that we have the right to try (Rom. 6:1-2). Our attitude toward sin should be, “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on” (Prov. 4:14-15).
Introduction: Douglas Moo wrote, “Romans is one of the most interesting and engaging books in the Bible – precisely because it shapes the way we think about so much of the universe we inhabit” (16). I cannot argue with that assessment. In this letter, Paul discusses the sinful condition of all mankind, the consequences of that sinful condition, the lengths God has gone to justify us in spite of our sin, the faith response required of us to obtain that justification, and how the justified should live in view of that justification. Romans is deep, theologically challenging, and imminently practical. In this first section of the letter, Paul introduces the reader to the underlying theme – the good news of Jesus is God’s power to save because it reveals his plan to make men righteous.
I. Introduction and Greeting (1:1-7)
A. Paul identifies himself (1) as “a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.”
1. Each of those terms emphasizes Paul’s understanding that his life was not really his own. He belonged to another.
2. Galatians 2:20; Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Romans 14:8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:15
B. Paul identifies some key elements of the gospel (1b-4)
1. It originates with God, it was promised in the Old Testament scriptures, and Jesus is its subject (cf. Luke 24:44; Acts 26:22-23).
2. Regarding Jesus, Paul calls attention to his humanity, his deity, and his resurrection. These are key components of the gospel message (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
C. Paul explains his apostolic mission (5-6) – “to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations” (cf. Rom. 16:26). The good news of Jesus is designed to produce obedient trust in him.
D. Paul identifies the recipients of the letter (6b-7) – they belong to Jesus, God loves them, and they were called to be saints.
II. Gratitude and Prayer (1:8-15)
A. Paul’s reasons for being thankful and his requests for them (8-10).
1. Paul is grateful for their faith, through which they had developed a widespread reputation (8).
2. Paul prays for them “without ceasing,” longing to be able to come to Rome and visit them (9-10).
B. Paul explains his desire to visit them personally (11-15)
1. His desire to visit them revolves around his desire to strengthen them through the imparting of “some spiritual gift” (11) that Paul believed would result in mutual encouragement and deeper faith in both him and the Roman church (12).
2. To reinforce how much he wanted to visit them, Paul further explains his motivation, sense of obligation, and eagerness to preach (13-15).
III. The Theme Statement of the Book (1:16-17)
A. The gospel of Christ is God’s power to save (16).
1. The gospel of Christ can be viewed from different angles: there are basic facts that must be believed (1 Cor. 15:1-4); there are commands that must be obeyed (2 Thess. 1:8; Rom. 6:17); there are promises that can be enjoyed (Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 1:3-4).
2. This good news saves anyone who believes it – whether Jew or Gentile (cf. Rom. 2:9-11).
B. The gospel reveals God’s plan to make men righteous (17).
1. The “righteousness of God” in the book of Romans is not a reference to a characteristic of God’s nature; rather, it is a reference to the righteous status that God bestows on those who believe the gospel.
2. In other words, Romans 1:17 is affirming that God’s plan for making men righteous is revealed in the gospel. It is a plan that is both rooted in faith and leads to additional faith.
3. To supplement his point, Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4, which affirms that spiritual life is obtained by trusting in God.
Conclusion: When one stands before the book of Romans he stands on holy ground. To understand Romans is to understand the message of the entire Bible – the sinfulness of man, the grace of God, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the redemption of Jew and Gentile, the power of faith, and the necessity of showing our faith in submission to the authority of Christ. It should be a wonderful study!
Moo, Douglas J. Romans. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2000. Print.