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Thursday, October 29 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Paul wrote the book of Romans to Christians, some of whom were Jews, in the capital of the Roman Empire. Claudius, the previous emperor, had expelled the Jews from Rome a few years before because he viewed them as dangerous (Acts 18:2). The Jews hated being under Roman rule. This is similar to the unrest we are experiencing in many countries of the world today. So Paul wanted the Roman Christians to be clear on how they should relate to the civil government. The same applies to us today.
1. Since God has ordained government authority, we must be subject to it (Verses 1-2).
“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” (NASB)
Paul first lays down a general principle (Vs. 1a), “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities.” Then (Vs. 1b) he explains the reason behind this principle: “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” He follows this in Vs.2 with a logical conclusion: “Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.”
God has ordained various spheres of authority for the blessing and protection of those under authority: the government, the local church, the family, etc. But due to sin, those in authority are often prone to misuse their authority for their own benefit. But Paul, writing under wicked Nero, does not allow for exceptions. He states categorically (13:1b), “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Therefore, every person is to be subject to their civil government.
When Paul says (13:2) that those who disobey government authority “will receive condemnation upon themselves,” he was primarily referring to the judgment that the government brings on law-breakers. In verse 4 he says that the government “bears the sword,” which refers to the authority to punish law-breakers. He also calls it “an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” These expressions do not refer to God’s eternal wrath, but to a temporal wrath inflicted by the government on evildoers so that it can uphold law and order.
Having said that, when a government commands us to do something that is disobedient to God’s Word, we must resist the government and obey God instead. (Acts 4:19-20, 5:29) “We must obey God rather than men.” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow before Nebuchadnezzar’s idol (Dan.3). In defiance of the king’s edict, Daniel continued to pray (Dan. 6). If the government forces us to abort babies as population control, we should resist. If a government forbids us to gather as believers, we should gather anyway. If the government bans the Bible, we should own and distribute Bibles anyway. If the government commands us not to say anything against homosexual behaviour, we should teach what the Bible says anyway.
2. The Government is to protect law-abiding citizens and punish law-breakers (Verses 3-4).
“For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behaviour, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” (NASB)
In these verses, Paul presents the general purpose and practice of government: to protect those who do right and to punish those who do wrong. We cannot deny that there have been many exceptions throughout history where corrupt governments punish law-abiding citizens who speak out against the corruption and they reward scoundrels who help keep them in power.
If God’s purpose for civil governments is to protect law-abiding citizens and punish law-breakers, then it follows that we should use civil authorities for protection and due process. Paul himself did this in Philippi, where he was unjustly beaten and imprisoned without a trial, although he was a Roman citizen. When the authorities realized their error and wanted to quietly usher him out of town, Paul wouldn’t stand for it (Acts 16:35-40). He also invoked his Roman citizenship to avoid a scouring and to appeal to Caesar rather than face a kangaroo court (Acts 22:25; 25:11).
This means that if someone is physically or sexually abusing you, you should report it to the proper authorities. If your husband is physically abusive, if he is a church member, let the elders know so that we can implement church discipline; otherwise, call the police. If you have been defrauded by a church member, first attempt to resolve the matter in the church (1 Cor. 6:1-8). If it can’t be resolved, you may have to take your case to secular courts. The purpose of government is to protect law-abiding people and punish evildoers. The highest form of love will be to accept to be defrauded but be wise in the future
3. Be Subject to the government because it is for our good, and it is the right thing to do. (Vs 5)
“Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake.” (NASB)
Paul means that we should be subject to our government not only because we fear punishment if we break the law, but also because we fear God, who knows our hearts. This makes keeping the laws of our land not just a matter of outward compliance, but also of inward obedience to God. With outward compliance, you are honest on your income tax forms because you’re afraid that if you aren’t, you might get caught. With inward obedience, you are honest because you want to have a clear conscience before God
4. Paying taxes and respecting government officials is part of submission (Verses 6-7).
“For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” (NASB)
For the third time Paul mentions that government officials are servants of God, but this time he uses a different word that is sometimes used for those who serve in the temple and also of angels (Heb. 1:7). By saying that they are “servants of God,” Paul wants us to see the importance of submitting to them, paying taxes, and giving them proper honour.
5. Practical Application in living right (Verses 8-10).
“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the law. For this, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET," and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilment of the law.” (NASB)
Interestingly, Paul starts off with debts in verse 8. “Owe no one anything” The MSG version says: “Don’t run up debts”
Debts create pressure and pressure is unhealthy. The Bible also warns against the dangers of debt. Proverbs 22:7 says, “The borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” Often debt reveals underlying greed that drives us to buy things that we can’t afford. Or it reveals that we love the world and the things that are in the world (1 John 2:15). The only debt we are allowed to run up is love. 1 Cor.13:4-7 tells the characteristics of this love.
In one of our previous studies, we emphasized that the secular moral laws of the world are mostly coined from the ten commandments. In verse 9, we see Paul while discussing being subject to governing authorities cites the ten commandments: “For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,”
As Christians, loving others fulfils God’s law. Paul says this severally in these verses; (Vs. 8, “he who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the law”; (Vs. 9 “it is summed up,”) and a third time in Vs 10, “love is the fulfilment of the law”)
I have observed an amazing truth in how the Lord deals with us in relation to living by the Word and not just being hearers only. He always brings situations our way as a church or as individuals to practice what we preach or what we have heard. Last week we looked at 9 tasks that differentiate us; and in today’s study, we have been presented the opportunity to be different or behave like everyone else. Especially as it relates to the last week’s sad events.
Are we going to hate or love? Curse like the rest of the world or bless? Are we going to repay evil for evil, or overcome evil with good?
It is possible for people to think that we are experiencing a more difficult time than Paul’s time. By the time of Paul’s writing, Nero was the Roman emperor in rule. His reign was associated with tyranny, extravagance and debauchery. During his rule, he murdered his own mother, his first wife, and allegedly, his second wife. In addition, ancient writers claim that he started the great fire of Rome in A.D. 64 so that he could re-build the city centre. Hundreds of people died in the fire and many thousands were left homeless. He then blamed the devastation on the Christian community in the city, initiating the empire's first persecution against the Christians. Paul, writing under this wicked emperor, does not allow for exceptions. He states categorically in verse 1b “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Therefore, every person is to be subject to their civil government. Here is what he also told Timothy during the reign of Nero
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NKJV)
Parts of this study was culled from: https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-88-government-and-you-romans-131-7
Thursday, October 22 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Romans 12:1-8 establishes the foundation upon which 12:9-21 is built. In verses 1-8, we saw Paul painting with a “broad brush”, showing us generally what Christian discipleship requires; offering our bodies as a living sacrifice, etc. In today’s study we will see him stepping closer to the canvas, working with a finer brush to colour in detail regarding specific attitudes and actions that must grow out of the principles established in verses 1-8.
PART 1 - VERSES 9-13: THIRTEEN ESSENTIAL ATTITUDES/BEHAVIOURS
“9 Love is to be sincere and active [the real thing—without guile and hypocrisy]. Hate what is evil [detest all ungodliness, do not tolerate wickedness]; hold on tightly to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another with [authentic] brotherly affection [as members of one family], give preference to one another in honour. 11 never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; 12 constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength], 13 contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality.” AMP
In these five verses, Paul lists thirteen behaviours that the Christian should adopt. The list begins with love. Love sets the tone, and the other dozen desired behaviours grow out of love. They are as a matter of fact, natural expressions of love.
1. Exhibit Sincere and Active Love (Vs 9a). The NLT says “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” Paul refers to Agape - love without a selfish agenda—love that seeks what is good for the beloved.
2. Hate Evil (Vs 9b) Hate is a strong word meaning to dislike, to abhor, or to have a horror of. The proper Christian response to evil is not simply to avoid it, but to be repelled by it. We hate evil, because evil has the potential to destroy the beloved. We must hate the sin while loving the sinner; evil-hating is one of the ways that we demonstrate genuine-loving.
3. Hold Tightly (Cling) to Good (Vs 9c). What Paul is calling us to do here, is to have a very strong attachment, to glue ourselves, or connect ourselves to what is good. Just as tendons bind bone to muscle.
4. Be Devoted to Each Other (Vs 10a). Paul shifts from agape love to family love and brotherly love. Family love is special, because the family is special. Members of healthy families know each other’s weaknesses, but love each other anyway. When trouble looms, the family is a refuge and strength second only to God. The same should apply to the Body of Christ.
5. Prefer One Another (Vs 10b). Instead of wanting to outdo others in the sense that we win and they lose. So we can feel better about ourselves and have people admire us, Paul calls us to different kind of ambition-behaviour. He calls us to “be tenderly affectionate one to another in honor”—to focus on satisfying the other person’s need for approval. There are many ways to accomplish this: remembering birthdays, saying thanks, complimenting them, encouraging them to understand that they have important gifts, etc.
6. Make Diligence Your Watchword (Vs 11a). Never be lazy; instead be careful and persistent in your work. The AMP says: “never lagging behind in diligence” instead be in the forefront!
7. Be Zealous (Passionate) (Vs 11b). Paul admonishes us not to let our zeal subside. Whatever you are engaged in with the Lord, let it convey passion, enthusiasm and conviction.
8. Serve God Enthusiastically (Vs 11c). The Greek word used here speaks of slave-like service—service under bondage. As Christians, we serve under obligation.
9. Rejoice in Hope - constantly (v. 12a). Because of our confidence in Christ; not because of things (money, power, prestige) that, in the eyes of the world, should produce joy and hope because they don’t. They may provide “joy” that feeling of great pleasure and happiness but it fades quickly, leaving the individual feeling as restless and empty as ever. We find joy and hope in the assurance that our lives count, not just now, but also for eternity. (Titus 2:13) tells us what this hope is.
10. Be Steadfast and patient in distress” (v. 12b). Paul refers to Christians exhibiting tough endurance. To keep the faith, even though suffering. To bear our afflictions bravely.
11. Be devoted to prayer (v. 12c). The AMP adds: “continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength.” Prayer is one of the channels through which the Christian receives strength. First century Christians, suffering persecution, required constant prayer to gain the strength to keep the faith. So do we.
12. Contribute to the needs of God’s people (v. 13a). Don’t be an onlooker when it comes to meeting the needs of God’s people. Take a constant interest in their needs. (Acts 6:1; 2Cor. 8:13-14, Jas1:27)
13. Pursue [the practice of] hospitality (v. 13b). Paul is advocating that we actively look for opportunities to provide hospitality. To be pursue a thing implies we are invested in it.
PART 2 - VERSES 14-19: NINE ACTIONS THAT DIFFERENTIATES
“14 Bless those who persecute you [who cause you harm or hardship]; bless and do not curse [them]. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief]. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty [conceited, self-important, exclusive], but associate with humble people [those with a realistic self-view]. Do not overestimate yourself. 17 Never repay anyone evil for evil. Take thought for what is right and gracious and proper in the sight of everyone. 18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath [and His judicial righteousness]; for it is written [in Scripture], “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” AMP
1. Bless Don’t Curse (Vs. 14) Paul calls us to meet violence, not with violence, but with blessing—a shocking idea, but not original with Paul: Jesus calls us to turn the other cheek, to go the second mile, to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:38-44). In the Lord’s prayer (Luke 6:37). At the cross. (Luke 23:34). Stephen (Acts 7:60), Paul in (1 Corinthians 4:12), and finally (1 Peter 3:9).
2. Identify with the Joys and Sorrows of Others (v. 15). We often observe people jealous of other people’s good fortune and judgmental about their bad fortune. We should be different!
3. Live in harmony with one another; (v. 16a) literally, “thinking the same thing toward one another.” While this does not require us to agree at every point, it does require us to be agreeable.
4. Be Humble (v. 16b). Be as mindful of another’s worth as you are your own. Remember you are what you are by God’s grace and not your effort. Rom 3:24
5. Do Not Overestimate Yourself (v. 16c). This is good advice for every human relationship. Humility draws people near, but conceit repels.
6. Never repay anyone evil for evil (v. 17a) is similar in meaning to “Bless those who persecute you; bless, and don’t curse” (v. 14).
7. Live Nobly in the Sight of All (v. 17b). We must be careful, not only about proper conduct, but also about appearances. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. This is not eye service but preventing those who are weak in faith from stumbling. The more visible our position, the more careful we must be.
8. Live at Peace with Everyone (v. 18). Here, we see Paul inserting two qualifications for living at peace with everyone (a) “If possible” and (b) “as far as it depends on you”. There are, unfortunately, people who will not allow us to live in peace, and Paul says that we do our part to establish peaceful relationships. He doesn’t hold us responsible for the other person’s response to our efforts. We can’t control the other person; we can control only ourselves.
9. Don’t Seek Revenge (v. 19). Paul tells us not to seek vengeance (also see 14, 17). The reason is simple—we can trust God to do the right thing. If a person deserves punishment, God will take care of it, whether now or in the Day of Judgment. Seeking revenge is consuming! Leaving the matter in God’s hands solves a host of problems. For one thing, God is a perfect judge, and will not make a mistake. For another, God is in a position to insure that justice is served, whereas we might put ourselves in physical or legal jeopardy by seeking vengeance.
Verses 20-21 CONCLUSION
““20 But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome and conquered by evil, but overcome evil with good.” AMP
When Paul tells us in verse 20 to feed and to give drink to our enemy, he was using food and drink as metaphors for any kind of needed help. If we were to see our enemy stuck in a ditch, this verse would call us to lend a helping hand, instead of saying “serves them right!” “You will heap burning coals on his head” implies you will make the recipient of your grace burn with shame at having treated you badly. Do not be overcome and conquered by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Vs 21). Does the end really justify the means? This verse says that it doesn’t. If we use evil means to achieve a worthwhile end, our evil means will compromise both our character and our witness. If we are to accomplish what Christ has called us to do, we must accomplish it through the ultimate Christian virtue, love. That expresses itself in these attitudes and actions.
Wednesday, October 14 2020
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
Apostle Paul is considered a man filled with the knowledge of God’s Word and His grace. His letters and books in the Bible testify of this truth. Despite this, he was a modest man and would go on to say in 1 Cor.13:9 that “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part [for our knowledge is fragmentary and incomplete].”. Also in 1 Cor.15:10, “But by the [remarkable] grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not without effect. In fact, I worked harder than all of the apostles, though it was not I, but the grace of God [His unmerited favor and blessing which was] with me”. In appreciation of his privileged position and calling, Paul in the concluding verses of Romans 11 will go on to express his awe at God’s depth of riches of knowledge and wisdom, and His Sovereignty (supreme power and authority). In today’s lesson, we will consider Paul’s injunction to the Spiritually transformed Christian and the Body of Christ in general.
Romans 12: 1-2 [Present Your Bodies a Living Sacrifice]
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.” NIV
“Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God” (v. 1a). The word, “therefore,” links this chapter to what went before—namely, Paul’s treatise regarding God’s grace and our faith.
“to present your bodies (Greek: soma) (v. 1b). There are two Greek words for body: (1) Sarx, often translated “flesh” the external, physical body that was seen as worldly and opposed to God and (2) Soma one aspect of the person, who is united as body and spirit.
So Paul said, “Don’t let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey its lusts” (6:12). In his view, there is nothing incompatible in body and spirit. Both are important. Both are sacred. Both are essential to human life, and both are compatible with Christian discipleship and our relationship to God.
“a living sacrifice” (v. 1b). Torah law required Jews to observe a complex system of animal sacrifices to atone for sin and to remind the people of the significance of their sins. Only animals without blemish were acceptable offerings (Leviticus 23:18). Christians are not allowed to substitute an animal’s life for their own but are instead required to sacrifice their own lives. The requirement, however, is no longer ritual slaughter, but is instead the presentation of the living person to God—a living sacrifice—a life dedicated to the service of God—a life committed to doing God’s will—a life lived in faith and lived out in faithfulness. They are to present their bodies for God’s purposes on Sunday in worship and on Monday in the workplace.
This living self-sacrifice, Paul declares, is “holy, acceptable (Greek: euareston - well-pleasing) to God” (v. 1). Animal sacrifices were holy, because they required taking something precious (a life) and offering it to God.
The slaughter of the animal reminded the person that, apart from the grace of God, it would be his/her animal life required on the altar. Now Paul tells Roman Christians that it is indeed their lives that are required, but not on the temple altar. Instead, they are to offer themselves as living sacrifices. Such sacrifices are holy and pleasing to God, offered in the right spirit, were holy and pleasing to God. Living sacrifices are holy in that they represent lives lived in accord with the will of God.
“which is your spiritual (logiken—rational, genuine, true) service” (v. 1). The word logiken has a variety of meanings, and it would seem that Paul chose it for its breadth. To present our bodies to God as living sacrifices is, indeed, a spiritual act. To live lives dedicated to God’s service, whether as clergy or laity, is genuine worship—the logical outcome of a decision to follow Christ.
“Don’t be conformed to this world (aioni—age), but be transformed (metamorphousthe) by the renewing of your mind” (v. 2). The word that is translated “conformed” has to do with conformation that is malleable—that can change from day to day or year to year. The person who is “conformed to this world/ age (aioni)” is free to embrace the next popular philosophy or fad at will. Being “conformed to this world” is rather like being a leaf blown by the wind, never knowing exactly where you are going next—or why [Engineering Illustration of Plastic Mould/ Frozen Water Bottle].
The word that is translated “transformed,” however, is quite different, and involves transformation at the core of one’s being. If being “conformed” would leave us adrift like a leaf, being “transformed” leaves us with feet on the ground—anchored—steady. Paul is calling us not to be caught up in every fad or wafted by every breeze, but instead to let the Spirit transform us at our core so that we can have a faith strong enough to maintain course in spite of the winds of popular opinion.
What are the things of this age that mold and shape masses of people? They include popular culture, such as motion pictures, movies, music, and sports. They include popular philosophies e.g. New Age thinking. They include incentives to succeed, even at the expense of vulnerable people. They include racism, nationalism, sectarianism, and denominationalism—forces that teach that our tribe is good and other tribes are bad, etc.
“but be transformed (metamorphousthe) by the renewing of your mind” (v. 2b). Metamorphousthe is the word from which we get our English word, metamorphosis. The example of metamorphosis that comes to mind is the caterpillar, which is transformed into a butterfly. For a time, it is one thing, but then it becomes, by the grace of God, a wholly different thing. The caterpillar is not beautiful, but the butterfly is. The caterpillar crawls, but the butterfly flies on gossamer wings. So it is by the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit that we who were one thing (conformed to this age) can be transformed (metamorphosized) into something wholly different—people who are Godly and holy.
Paul calls us to permit the Holy Spirit to transform our minds, knowing that the person who learns to think Godly thoughts will soon experience a changed heart as well [see 2 Cor.3:12-18, Philippians 4:8]. Godly thoughts transform every aspect of our being. As an example, the person who adopts Godly thinking often enjoys improved health, because he/she learns to regard his/her body as a temple of the Holy Spirit and is therefore more likely to treat his/her body with new respect. That is not to say that Christians do not engage in unhealthy practices, but the more Godly our thinking, the less likely we are to become victims of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, tobacco, promiscuous sex, workaholism, worry, and other unhealthy practices.
“so that you may prove (dokimazein—prove, test) what is the good, well-pleasing (euareston—well-pleasing), and perfect will of God” (v. 2c). The renewing of our minds enables us to “discern the will of God” (v. 2). The world is full of people who assume that God’s will mirrors their own. If we are to discern God’s will, it will not be by trying to remake God in our own image—by having God conform to our prejudices—but by allowing the Spirit to renew our thinking, by becoming putty in God’s hands, so to speak, by allowing God to shape our thinking and our lives.
Romans 12: 3 [Not to Think of Himself More Highly]
“3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” NKJV
Paul had come from a background where Jews thought of themselves as God’s chosen people (true)–chosen for privilege rather than service (false). He wants to make sure that Christians don’t take on that superior attitude. Unfortunately, Christians often fall heir to that failing nevertheless, even to the point that we tend to disparage other Christian brothers and sisters whose views differ from ours.
Romans 12: 4-5 [So We Are One Body in Christ]
““4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”
Paul further appeals to the Roman Christians to think of themselves realistically, humbly, by comparing the church to a human body. He uses this same metaphor in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, where he speaks of the interdependence of the various parts of the body. Each member of the human body has a specialized purpose, whether a hand, foot, eye, ear, or nose. The various members do not compete for prominence but cooperate for mutual benefit. Each member contributes to the body’s welfare in accord with its ability, and each member enjoys the benefits of contributions made by other members. If the various members were to be of a different frame of mind, competing rather than cooperating, seeking to gain advantage instead of contributing unselfishly, the body would cease to function effectively, and all the members would suffer as a result.
So it is with the church, which has many members, each with differing gifts and able to contribute in particular ways “according to the grace (charin) that was given to us” (v. 5). Instead of competing or quarreling, which would render the church body less effective to the detriment of all its members, the church works best when all its members work in harmony—just as members of the human body work in harmony.
Conclusion: Romans 12: 6-8 [Having Gifts Differing According to Grace]
“6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
“Having gifts (charismata) differing according to the grace (charin) that was given to us” (v. 6a). Paul mentions seven specific gifts in these verses—prophecy, ministry (or service), teaching, exhortation (or encouragement), giving, leadership, and compassion (or showing mercy).
Some have thought of these seven gifts as corresponding to official church offices, but many of these gifts have been distributed generally to believers without respect to church offices. The fact that Paul addresses himself “to every man who is among you” (v. 3) makes it unlikely that he intends these gifts to apply only to holders of official church offices. God grants grace (charis) and gifts (charismata) to every Christian, and the church is best served by honoring and celebrating each person’s grace and each person’s gift.
Difficulties arise not only when Christians begin “to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (v. 3)—in the sense that they value their personal gifts more highly than they value the gifts of others. Difficulties also arise when, like James and John, Christians seek seats of honor for selfish purposes (Mark 10:35). Our motives in seeking or accepting church offices are crucial. If we serve out of love for Christ, we can expect that Christ will bless our service (but not that he will make it easy for us). If we serve for selfish reasons, we cannot expect that our service will be a blessing to anyone.
This study is culled from https://sermonwriter.com/biblical-commentary/romans
Wednesday, October 07 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
The first 11 chapters of the book of Romans cover amazing truths about the foundation of our faith. In these chapters Paul shows God’s faithfulness to His Word and that He has a saving purpose that will not fail! He has a gracious purpose in election, and choosing a remnant of Jews. He also has a sovereign plan for the inclusion of Gentiles in His saving purpose! In last week’s study we saw how God in His sovereignty allowed the rejection of Jesus by the Jews become an avenue for the rest of the world to be saved. Interestingly, we saw that He is ready to allow the hearts of the Jews continue to be hardened until all the Gentiles He’s determined to be saved are; and then He will release the grace for salivation to the Jew so that all the Jews will be saved! The point of all the deep doctrinal truths of Romans Chapters 1-11; and the knowledge of God’s sovereignty; how He designed and carried out His plan for salvation history is one that should instinctively bring a person to the place of awe and worship. It is the proper response to God and His sovereign purposes. And so Paul begins verse 33 with the exclamation, “Oh!”
Verse 33: God Is Beyond Comprehension – A Trigger of Delight and Worship
“33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”
“Oh the depth of the riches . . .” Here, Paul runs out of words to express the greatness of God. “Both of the wisdom and knowledge of God.” God’s knowledge is His active involvement in the affairs of men. Not merely knowledge about, but making it happen. God’s wisdom is the execution of that knowledge in the world.
God’s judgments are unsearchable and His ways are incomprehensible! Here Paul gives praise to God, not just for what he knows of God, but also because of what he doesn’t know! For the apostle Paul, not being able to understand what God is doing was not a reason to abandon the faith. Instead it was a reason for praise. This is what God declares of Himself in Isaiah 55:8-9,
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
God is far greater than we can ever comprehend. His riches, wisdom, knowledge, judgments and ways are beyond comprehension! Matter of fact, we can never know Him completely on this side of eternity!
This awareness triggered in Paul a level of delight in worship that he expressed by starting off with “Oh!” It should have the same impact on us too!
Verses 34-35 God Is Above All – A Trigger of Silent Amazement in Worship
“For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counsellor?” 35 “Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?”
Not only was Paul filled with awe at the greatness of God’s plan, he was also speechless at God’s greatness! Who wouldn’t be? In these verses, Paul asks three rhetorical questions; all three have the assumed answer of “No one!” These questions have the effect of silencing all who hear them. Habakkuk 2:20 says “The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”
These questions serve to shut the mouths of all those who might seek to boast in God’s presence. In verse 34, the apostle uses the language of Isaiah 40:12-17 (which in its context is dealing with the return of the nation of Israel from the Babylonian captivity). The implication is that no one could have foreseen God’s deliverance of the nation of Israel from their Babylonian captivity. No human could have devised this plan. In a similar way, Paul uses this verse in Romans 11 to highlight that no human could have devised the plan for God to turn again to the nation of Israel in the last days and remove their blindness that they might experience salvation, but this is exactly what God has done.
Also, in Job 38:2, God begins by asking Job: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” He proceeds to hammer Job with question after rhetorical question, such as (38:4-5), “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it?” In the verses just before Job 41:11 (cited in Rom. 11:35), God continues pounding Job by asking whether he can draw out Leviathan with a fishhook. God taunts him (41:8), “If you so much as lay a hand on him, you won’t live to tell the story.” If neither Job nor anyone else cares to tangle with the Leviathan, God concludes (Job 41:10b), “Who then is he that can stand before Me?” In verse 35, the same question God asked Job in Job 41:11 is repeated - “Who has given to Me that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine.”
The question is who gave first to God, tell us and He’ll pay you back! Silence! There in the context of chapters 40-42, God questions Job and Job is reduced to silence! See Job 40-42.
Silence is usually the response of those who have encountered the greatness of God. They are silenced at His majesty! It should have the same impact on us too!
Verse 36a God Is All in All – A Trigger of Exalted Praise and Glory
“36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
Finally, in verse 36, Paul was struck by the centrality of God in all things! This is the basis of doxology, God Himself! God is shown here to be the source of all things, the means of all things, and the goal of all things!
Verse 36b CONCLUSION
To whom be the glory forever. Amen. Only God deserves the glory. Psalm 115: 1 says “We don’t deserve praise! The Lord alone deserves all of the praise, because of his love and faithfulness.” Also see Revelation 4:9-11
The primary desire for anything and everything we do and seek to have should be so that God is glorified. Whether it is in the rearing of godly children, or succeeding in our careers or to any other goal. Our main aim should be that Christ would be exalted through us, whether by life or by death (Phil. 1:20). It should all end up in Him and for His glory!
In concluding this I will like to read these four verses in the MSG version
“Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out. Is there anyone around who can explain God? Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do? Anyone who has done him such a huge favour that God has to ask his advice? Everything comes from him; everything happens through him; Everything ends up in him. Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes.”