We are finishing the letter from the Apostle Paul to the Romans today. We are in the Living Bible translation this week.
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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis
Rom. 13 is being written by a man who is going to be executed by the pathological government’s Caesar in a little over a decade. If he can take this with an upstanding attitude, we can too. Paul does not want Christians to be known as the “rebels of the nations” everywhere they go. . . . We are a growing movement that is blessed so to redeem [not start skirmishes] everywhere we go. Cheerful obedience and civil behavior are powerful tools in starting a wave that has Christians being perceived, “gee, they are awfully nice and friendly and giving.people!”
We are urged anew by Paul to be content people, our main trait is that we are loving, and our heart is to be eagerly awaiting the Return of Our Lord. This will be the trademark of a vast charitable “army” of people who will embody the largest movement the world has ever seen.
14 – Paul knew that as people came to Christ Jesus and joined in the Kingdom and joined church fellowships, and worshiped together, and dined together (Paul knew) that these people would be coming from numerous backgrounds and the natural tendency to unify would be jilted by prior habits and vows and commitments from former beliefs. People dining together would encounter either the commitment to or revulsion of certain foods. People of Jewish descent had the kosher laws that were superseded once Peter had his vision in Acts 10:9-16. Others had secular backgrounds and were oblivious to religions that were either sacred or profane. Others had cultic backgrounds and, now being a redeemed Believer, they would be sickened by how they once lived and did not want to eat anything that reminds them of their past. Well here they were together at “church potlucks” and some brought kosher “manna/matzoh” [ok, ok!], others brought pickled shrimp, others – vegan bread and/or (unkosher!)–> cheeseburgers, and … you could see the squabbles that erupted over diet rules to which there was no resolution except to love eachother more than their former laws, or vows, or regrets of the past. The Jewish Sabbath v.s. new Believers honoring Sunday as more important was another needless argument that needed to be put to rest too.. It was vital that they all NOT insist that everyone else adhere to / or live by their own personal preferences, hankerings, or idiosyncrasies. Christian community was more important. That meant they were not to be criticizing others.
15 – The onus was upon the more mature Christians to be accepting and welcoming, nurturing and even to be gently tutoring younger/newer/less mature Christians. They were to be exceedingly welcoming and warm to one another. Paul also wants Jews and Gentiles to get along. From 15:20, through chapter 16; to the end of the book, Paul is talking of preparations, further journeys and travels and his desire to keep the gospel spreading. He’ll be taking a trip through Jerusalem first before coming to see his Roman friends and Believers. Remember that being held back in Israel by the Sanhedrin and the Herod-family only caused the three years of anticipation to see Paul only become more pronounced. You can hear Paul’s impassioned concern that the church grow and grow in all ways everywhere.
16 – is a great listing of the people Paul wanted to remember. A case study dedicated to each of the names in this chapter is as entrancing as poring over the 58,000 names upon the Vietnam memorial wall. We should not become fickle and skip these over. Each one shined like a reflection of Christ in the first century church. Some of the names of these people can still be seen upon the homes and structures they occupied back when Paul came through ca. 1,965 years ago. Paul revered each of these. We ought also revere and welcome and honor each who visit our fellowships today … as Paul has been urging us to do for a few chapters now.
The week has been a colorful one going through each of the seven streams of Scripture. The thread throughout we’ll call, “Be Attentive. God is Moving. Move With Him, and Let Yourself Be Instructed.” After the Exodus, there was water-as-medicine that needed to be ingested, a new diet pattern (failproof food from the sky for 40 years!), Sabbath rules, battles to uphold, a “no whining” law and these would remain for the rest of YOUR lives – catch this! In II Sam. we are going to regroup in Jerusalem with the Ark for the first time (don’t get too close Uzzah!), it’s time to worship (Michal!) and David would have done better to keep his mind on the war v.s. the girl next door, eh?! Everyone would have been better off if they had moved with God wouldn’t they?? In Psalms, David is in pain from his sin and the results of it. God is moving him through it however and David learns from it. Come Psalm 40-41 he is finding relief in his God. David does right by his faith again. Jeremiah laments that Israel/Judahs’ love for God has grown cold. She has become a “queen” of prostitutes in many ways. God moves over them with an offering of repentance. They should move with God’s offer . . . but sadly they don’t let themselves be instructed. . Hosea brings a second antithetical story in a row as Israel is vapid/stupid and idolatrous, wretched to the core and refuses to be attentive and learn from God. So God is going to move a vicious army in their direction. Everything Jesus taught them in Mark this week were very moving and dramatic lessons loaded with vital instruction. Jesus used each “teachable moment” to the full and the disciples caught it eventually. Paul’s instruction to the Roman church was straight from the Holy Spirit. God was moving people from all ~walks of life and ~regions and ~refined faith and ~pagan faiths —> right into His Kingdom and the teaching he gave this week was a perfect application to help them understand the moving of God anew . Let’s let ourselves be instructed by God’s Spirit also so we do not miss what He has for us.