BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 29, Day 5: Romans 16:25-27

Summary of passage:  Paul finishes this letter to the Romans with a shout out to God and Jesus, the ones who are responsible for their belief and obedience through the gospel and proclamation of Jesus who has finally been revealed after all this time.

Questions:

14)  Paul finishes this letter to the Romans with a shout out to God and Jesus, the ones who are responsible for their belief and obedience through the gospel and proclamation of Jesus who has finally been revealed after all this time.

15)  He is the Son of God who died for our sins and rose again so that we may be forgiven for our sins by God forever and may have eternal life with God.

16)  Through God’s grace, we all share together in the promise of Jesus Christ as our redeemer, our living sacrifice, our Lord.  This is the gift of the Holy Spirit, available to Gentiles and Jews, and our share in the promises of God to His children that we will be justified and sanctified by the body and blood of Christ Jesus forever.

17)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Living every day for Him.  Striving every day to be closer to Him and to fulfill His purpose for our life here on earth.  Praising Him.  Worshipping Him.  Giving Him the credit for everything in my life.  Putting Him at the center of my life.  Obeying Him.  This is what God wants:  us.

Conclusions:  I love how the first sentence and the last sentence of Romans is about Jesus and praising him.  Gratitude.  Humility.  Grace.  Mercy.  Awesome!

End Notes:  Paul means the whole plan of redemption through Jesus Christ. Though God announced much of the plan previously through prophecy, its final outworking wasn’t evident until revealed by God through Jesus.  And He calls all nations to faith and obedience.

My gospel:  not a gospel different from that preached by others but a gospel Paul received by direct revelation (Galatians 1:12)

In this conclusion Paul reflects on the wisdom of God’s plan in the gospel and the fact that such wisdom is beyond man. God had a plan no man would come up with, but the wisdom and glory of the plan is evident.

The Book of Romans explains from beginning to end the greatness and glory of this plan of God that Paul preached as a gospel – as good news. It’s entirely fitting that Paul concludes this letter praising the God of such a gospel.

The good news Paul devoted his life to: God chose to glorify Himself through the person and work of Jesus Christ, and who will glorify Himself that way forever. Amen!  The ultimate purpose of all things.

Final Thoughts on the Study of Romans: What an amazing book and gift from God.  What an amazing person Paul was and an amazing gift to us as well all these centuries later.  Definitely an anchor book in the New Testament.  I learned so much and grew so much with God over the past year.  My gratitude and faith are deeper.  My worship is better.  My humbleness as well.  With God all things are possible.  With God I am possible.

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BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 29, Day 4: Romans 16:20-25

Summary of passage:  Timothy, Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, Tertius, Gaius, Erastus, and Quartus send their greetings to the Roman church.

Questions:

11)  Timothy is Paul’s fellow worker.  Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater are relatives.  Tertius wrote this letter down to the Romans.  Gaius is hosting Paul.  Erastus is the city’s director of public works in Corinth.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Husband, kids, mom, sister, relatives, friends, other family members, church members, strangers even.  I encourage all of them to win the race for the Lord.  The little daily encouragements and the overarching goals.

13)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Life is all about relationships.  We were created so we wouldn’t be alone.  None of us could survive without each other.  We need to build each other up and treat each other as family.

Conclusions:  Wouldn’t it be cool to be mentioned in the Bible for all of eternity?  Help one another.  Enjoy one another.  Be with others.  Love others.  People is what makes life meaningful (along with God).

End Notes:  Timothy rightly rates a first mention, being one of Paul’s closest and most trusted associates.

Tertius was Paul’s writer as the apostle dictated the letter. This was Paul’s normal practice in writing letters to churches, but this is the only letter where Paul’s secretary is mentioned by name.

Gaius had such a reputation for hospitality that Paul can say he was regarded as the host of the whole church.

Jason is possibly the Jason mentioned in Acts 17:5-9.

Sosipater is probably Sopater, son of Pyrrhus from Berea (Acts 20:4).

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 29, Day 2: Romans 16:1-16

Summary of passage:  Paul commends Phoebe to the Christians in Rome and sends individual greetings to others in the Roman church.

Questions:

3)  Such recommendations were important because there was both great legitimate need for this kind of assistance and there were many deceivers who wanted to take advantage of the generosity of Christians.

4)  This list includes prominent women in the church (Phoebe, Priscilla, Junias, Tryphaena, Tryphosa, Persis), common slave names (Amphiatus, Urbanus, Stachys, Apelles) and possibly royalty (the household of Aristobulus–probably the grandson of Herod the Great).  All the social strata is included.  This means Christ came for all!

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Some risked their lives for Paul.  Some went to prison with him.  Some have been a mother to him.  All were hard workers for the Lord.  For me, too many to list.  Being there to listen to me.  Support me in all I do.  Encourage me.  Opened doors of opportunity for me.  Helped me when I needed it.  God works through people all the time–even in the little things.

6)  All really.  They all were risking their lives by being among the first to convert to Christ.  Risk-takers all of them with a heart for God.  Exactly what I want to be.

Conclusions:  Wouldn’t it be cool to have been a name on this list in the Bible for all of posterity?  And to have been mentioned by the great apostle Paul as having helped him?  Pretty cool!

End Notes:  This is a list of Paul’s friends and co-workers, many of whom would be unknown apart from their mention here.  Remember Paul has not yet visited Rome but a community of Christians already exists there.  Paul was writing from Corinth, where his friends included the city’s director of public works.  At Corinth archaeologists have dug up a block of stone that may refer to this man.  It bears the Latin inscription “Erastus, commissioner of public works, bore the expense of this pavement.”

Phoebe was probably the carrier of this letter to the Romans.  Our sister is a fellow believer.  Deacon is one who serves or ministers in any way.  When church related, it probably refers to a specific office.

Phoebe is the feminine form of a title given to the pagan god Apollo, the title meaning “the bright one.” Christians, on their conversion, seemed to feel no need to change their names even if there was some pagan significance to their name.

Servant is the same word translated deacon in other places. Phoebe seems to be a female deacon in the church, either by formal recognition or through her general service.  Paul gives Phoebe one of the best compliments anyone can give. This sort of practical help is essential in doing the business of the gospel.

Cenchreae was a port located about 6 miles east of Corinth on the Saronic Gulf.  Map of Cenchreae HERE

Priscilla and Aquila were close friends of Paul who worked in the same trade of tentmaking (Acts 18:2-3).  They are now back in the city of Rome.

In a city with a Christian community of any size, there would be several “congregations” meeting in different houses, since there were no “church” buildings at this time. Each house church probably had its own “pastor.”

Epaenetus was apparently among the very first converts of Achaia (where Corinth was and where Paul wrote the letter to the Romans). Epaenetus was also apparently dear to Paul; beloved isn’t a term Paul used cheaply.

Andronicus and Junia: These were apparently Jews (my kinsmen) and were imprisoned for the sake of the gospel (my fellow prisoners). They were well regarded among the apostles, having become Christians even before Paul did (sometime in the first 3 or 4 years after Pentecost).

Of note among the apostles has the idea that Andronicus and Junia are apostles themselves (though not of the twelve), and notable among other apostles. If there ever were women recognized as apostles – in the sense of being special emissaries of God, not in the sense of being of the twelve – this is the strongest Scriptural evidence. It isn’t very strong.

Amplias: There is a tomb dating from the late first or early second century in the earliest Christian catacomb of Rome which bears the name AMPLIAS. Some suggest that this is the same person mentioned in Romans 16:8.

Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus: The fact that the household of Aristobulus is greeted but not Aristobulus himself made Spurgeon think that Aristobulus was not converted but many in his household were. It made Spurgeon think of the unconverted who live with believers in their house.

Rufus may be the same man mentioned as a son of Simon the Cyrene in Mark 15:21. However, Rufus was a common name so this is merely speculation.

Chosen in the Lord has the idea that Rufus had some eminence among the Christians of Rome. It doesn’t refer to his election in Jesus.

Nereus: In 95 a.d. two distinguished Romans were condemned for being Christians. The husband was executed and the wife was banished. The name of their chief servant was Nereus – this may be the same Nereus mentioned here and he may be the one who brought the gospel to them.

Asyncritus . . . Phlegon . . . Patrobas . . . Hermes: Of the rest of these names, Paul finds something wonderful to say about almost every one of them – noting their labor, his special regard for them (beloved), their standing in the Lord (approved in Christ . . . in the Lord . . . chosen in the Lord).

This is a tremendous example. It shows Paul’s way of casting about uplifting words to build up God’s people. He was generous in paying compliments that were both sincere and wonderful.

The Holy Kiss was a regular part of the worship service in that time.  It is still a practice in some churches today.  See also 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14

Luke 7:45 shows how common a greeting a kiss was. Jesus rebukes a Pharisee because he did not give Jesus a kiss when He came into his house.

It seems that this practice was later abused. Clement of Alexandria complained about churches where people made the church resound with kissing, and says that “the shameless use of a kiss occasions foul suspicions the evil reports.”

Those mentioned in verses 14-15 cannot be further identified except they were either slaves or freedmen in the Roman church.

Leon Morris explains that this section demonstrates that the Letter to the Romans “was a letter to real people and, as far as we can see, ordinary people; it was not written to professional theologians.”

Spurgeon says of this passage: “They were like the most of us, commonplace individuals; but they loved the Lord, and therefore as Paul recollected their names he sent them a message of love which has become embalmed in the Holy Scriptures. Do not let us think of the distinguished Christians exclusively so as to forget the rank and file of the Lord’s army. Do not let the eye rest exclusively upon the front rank, but let us love all whom Christ loves; let us value all Christ’s servants. It is better to be God’s dog than to be the devil’s darling.”

Notice the women mentioned in this chapter: Phoebe, Priscilla, Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa, the mother of Rufus, and Julia. These are women who worked for the Lord.

Notice their work for the Lord: some, like Tryphena and Tryphosa, labored in the Lord. Others, like Persis, labored much for the Lord.  Spurgeon says: “So there are distinctions and degrees in honor among believers, and these are graduated by the scale of service done. It is an honor to labor for Christ, it is a still greater honor to labor much. If, then, any, in joining the Christian church, desire place or position, honor or respect, the way to it is this – labor, and labor much.”

Of the 24 names here, 13 also appear in inscriptions or documents connected with the Emperor’s palace in Rome. We know that there were Christians among Caesar’s household (Philippians 4:22). Paul may be writing many of the servants who worked for Caesar who became Christians.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 27, Day 2: Romans 15:1-6

Summary of passage:  We need to subjugate our needs to others’ needs.  The Bible was written to encourage us and give us hope.  We are to have unity amongst Christians  so that we can glorify God and Jesus.

Questions:

3)  We are to subjugate our need to others’ needs.  We are to have unity amongst Christians in order to glorify the Father and Jesus.  We are privileged to have the Bible to guide us and teach us.  We are strong and should bear with the failings of the weak and bear the weak up.  We are to lead by example as Jesus did.

4)  People pleasing is where we do things or tasks so that others are happy, which includes things we probably shouldn’t be doing.  Pleasing your neighbor is doing something that the neighbor needs doing and sincerely helping him do it.  It’s making others stronger through your help.  These are things that make the neighbor a better person and more confident and hopefully more Godly.  The difference is the intent behind the act and the results.

5)  The big one is where Jesus gave up his life for us.  The results are eternal salvation for believers.  Everything Jesus did was for others:  healing, feeding the 5000, teaching, serving, etc.  He is our greatest example.

6)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Selfish.  Greedy.  At times evil and corrupt.  Closed-minded.  Ultimately, miserable.  I can be very selfish.  Greedy.  Evil.  Definitely.  The difference is I fight against that with God’s and the Holy Spirit’s help and I hope I’m making progress, but oftentimes I don’t think so.

Conclusions:  I love the strong versus weak analogy.  I tend to think of myself as strong and I’m very impatient with those who aren’t.  This isn’t necessarily physical.  It’s emotional and mental as well.  This is a great reminder for me to see others with God’s grace.  I also love Paul’s reminder about unity with other Christians (BSF will explore this on Day 3).  I have drifted away from weekly church attendance (other than BSF) and I know I need a church home.  Desperately so.  Perhaps this will “kick me in the butt” to do something about it!

End Notes:  Paul says to use your strength to serve your brothers, not just yourself.  “Bear with” really means “bearing up” your brother i.e. holding him up.  This advice goes against the “me” society today.  Paul says if you build up others you will build yourself up in the process.

Paul gives the same advice in Philippians 2:3-4.  Put others first.  The goal is to make the weak strong.

We are to build each other up; not tear each other down.

Jesus is the ultimate example of one who did not please Himself, but put others first. Paul’s classic development of this idea is in Philippians 2:5-11.

Jesus took fulfilled what was written in God’s word, allowing the Father to vindicate him.

The commandment Jesus fulfilled from Psalm 69:7-9 was written for our learning so that we might have hope, knowing we are doing what is right even when difficult.  “You” refers to God and “me” is the righteous sufferer whom Paul identifies with Christ.

Responding rightly bothers people even more.  No one can hurt God’s children.

Paul then prays for the Holy Spirit to endow this attitude onto the Romans.  Other translations here have “God of patience” instead of endurance.  In essence, Paul is saying wait on God’s plan for your life.  God’s purpose for your life takes time.

Paul encourages believers not to necessarily have the same conclusions but to agree to disagree in love (Ephesians 4:1-6; Philippians 2:1-5).

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 24, Day 5: Romans 13:6-7

Summary of passage:  Pay taxes to the authorities who should be paid for governing.  Give everyone what you owe such as taxes, revenue, respect and honor.

Questions:

12)  In essence, Jesus said the same thing as this passage:  Give to those what you owe them.  Pay your taxes and pay God.

13)  Today, there are many purposes for taxes and many different kinds of taxes (like in ancient times as well but in a different way).  Here, it says pay taxes so that the officials may be paid for their time in running the government.  Taxes also go for the public good and items and services we consume collectively like roads, police, etc.  We should have an attitude of gratitude towards taxes that pays for the military and police who keep us safe, roads we travel on to visit loved ones, and so many other things we don’t think of.  Taxes are a part of life.  Accept it.

14)  Part personal Question.  My answer:

Exodus 20:12:  Father and Mother.  Honoring their wishes and what they’ve done for you.  Being there for them in their old age.  Loving them.
Leviticus 19:32:  The elderly and God.  Volunteer to help the elderly.  Care for them in their old age.  Visit them.  Care about them and their lives.
1 Timothy 5:17:  “the elders who direct the affairs of the church especially those who preach and teach”  Pastors and church leaders.  Pray for them.  Care for them.  Do random acts of kindness for them.  Give to them when they don’t expect it.
1 Timothy 6:15b-16:  God.  There is no limit to honoring God.  Prayer, obedience, evangelism, being kind to others, worship, etc.
1 Peter 2:13-17:  Governing authorities, rulers, respect everyone, respect believers, fear God, honor your king.  Obey laws, don’t bad-mouth leaders, pray for leaders and rulers, treat others as you want to be treated, obey God.

15)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Pray for them.  Pray for them to follow God’s will.  Honor their choices in life.  Give it to God.  It’s none of your business when it’s friends and families and acquaintances.  Treat them as you want to be treated.  Love them.

Conclusions:  The theme of Lesson 24 is honor and respect authority (both human authority and God’s authority).  Obey both human laws and God’s laws.  Overall, be good citizens and people.

End Notes:  We pay taxes so the officials can do their job in keeping an orderly society–not to enrich them.  But also so they can eat as well.  Paying taxes is supporting God’s work since He gave the government to help us.

Good question to ponder:  Is rebellion against government ever justified? If a citizen has a choice between two governments, it is right to choose and to promote the one that is most legitimate in God’s eyes – the one which will best fulfill God’s purpose for governments.  However, knowing which is right in God’s eyes is the challenge.  The Communists believe they are right. So do democracies.

These verses are easy for those of us living in a democracies.  We are the government; therefore, we are supporting ourselves when we pay taxes as the money goes for public good.

In ancient times, this would have been much more difficult when rulers were oftentimes evil.  The first generation of Christians benefited from the same freedom of worship and legal protection as the Jews.  But soon emperors such as Nero turned on Christians, torturing and murdering thousands.  History shows that most of them followed Paul’s difficult advice in this passage, refusing to revolt against the government no matter how hostile it had become.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 24, Day 2: Romans 13:1-5

Summary of passage:  You must submit to government authorities because God is the one who has given them authority so in essence you are submitting to God.  If you rebel against the government, you are rebelling against God and are therefore subject to judgment.  Do what is right and you have nothing to fear.  The ruler is God’s servant ready to punish the wrongdoer.  Thus, submit to authorities so you’re not punished and because of conscience.

Questions:

3)  The definition of submit according to Webster’s Dictionary is “to yield to governance or authority; to subject to a condition, treatment, or operation; to yield oneself to the authority or will of another”.  Everyone must submit to governing authorities because God is the one who had given them authority so in essence you are submitting to God.

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  The same reasons people struggle with submitting to God (which in this passage Paul says is the same thing i.e. God and authorities are the same):  people want to do what they want to do (selfishness) and not what others tell them to do.  Human nature is inherently evil and if a person wants to be able to kill another, that’s what he wants to do.  Man wants power and to lord over others.  God established rules/government so there would not be anarchy in this world.  I’m fine with following the government (when you’re brought up in society it’s relatively easy to obey).  It’s the daily selfishness I struggle with such as when I’m driving being nice to others or putting others needs before mine or giving up my time for others.

5)  When man/human authority asks us to go against God and His Word.  Daniel ignores the decree by King Darius to not pray to God.  This is against God.  When you’re asked to do something that goes against your conscience or that you know is wrong.  Then you can disobey.  Killing others, persecuting others, causing physical harm to others, etc.

Conclusions:  Great passage by Paul and very important today when people are so against governing authorities.  You may not like who is in office, but God put them there so respect them and the laws of your country.

End Notes:  Connecting Romans 12, people are not to take vengeance but the government can punish wrongdoers since God gave them the authority to do so.  Paul is speaking to some Jews who refused to acknowledge the authority of the rulers and thus paid no taxes.

“Be subject to” is a significant theme for Romans 13:1-7.  The civil rulers, all of whom were probably pagans at the time Paul was writing.  Christians may have been tempted not to submit to them and to claim allegiance only to Christ.  Even the possibility of a persecuting state did not shake Paul’s conviction that civil government is ordained by God (1 Peter 2:13-17).

Government authorities serve a purpose for God.  God appoints a nation’s leaders, but not always to bless the people. Sometimes it is to judge the people like we read in Daniel and how God used the Babylonian empire to judge His people.

Paul wrote this during the reign of the Roman Empire. It was no democracy, and no special friend to Christians – yet he still saw their legitimate authority.

“Your Savior suffered under Pontius Pilate, one of the worst Roman governors Judea ever had; and Paul under Nero, the worst Roman Emperor. And neither our Lord nor His Apostle denied or reviled the ‘authority!’ ” (Newell)

Since governments have authority from God, we are bound to obey them – unless, of course, they order us to do something in contradiction to God’s law. Then, we are commanded to obey God before man (as in Acts 4:19).  Paul is describing the ideal rulers here.  Obviously, man is fallen so this is not always the case the rulers will do what is right.

God uses governing authorities as a check upon man’s sinful desires and tendencies. Government can be an effective tool in resisting the effects of man’s fallenness.

Paul’s idea is that Christians should be the best citizens of all. Even though they are loyal to God before they are loyal to the state, Christians are good citizens because they are honest, give no trouble to the state, pay their taxes, and – most importantly – pray for the state and the rulers.

Paul describes government officials as God’s minister. They have a ministry in the plan and administration of God, just as much as church leaders do.

If the state’s rulers are God’s minister (servant), they should remember that they are only servants, and not gods themselves.

It is through the just punishment of evil that government serves its function in God’s plan of holding man’s sinful tendencies in check. When a government fails to do this consistently, it opens itself up to God’s judgment and correction.

The sword is a reference to capital punishment. In the Roman Empire, criminals were typically executed by beheading with a sword (crucifixion was reserved for the worst criminals of the lowest classes). Paul, speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has no doubt that the state has the legitimate authority to execute criminals.

We must be subject to government; not only because we fear punishment, but because we know it is right before God to do so.  Christian obedience to the state is never blind – it obeys with the eyes of conscience wide open.  Christians must duly honor the government in order to maintain a good conscience.

Fun Fact (taken from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary):  The Bible, by exhortation and commandment, requires submission and obedience to six principal authorities:

  1.  Parents (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20; 1 Timothy 3:4)
  2.  Teachers (Proverbs 5:12-13)
  3.  Husbands (Ephesians 5:21-22, 24; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1, 5-6)
  4.  Masters–or today, employers (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:22, Titus 2:9, 1 Peter 2:18)
  5.  Government (Romans 13:1-2, 5: Titus 3:1, 1 Peter 2:13)
  6.  God (Genesis 26:5, Ephesians 5:24, Hebrews 5:9; 12:9, James 4:7)

The supreme test of faith is obedience (1 Samuel 28:18).  The Bible often links obedience to faith (Genesis 22:18; Romans 1:5; 1 Peter 1:14).  Jesus obedience to the Father is the supreme example for Christians.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 17, Day 3: Romans 10:1-4

Summary of passage:  Paul’s heart’s desire and prayer is for all of the Israelites to be saved, to submit to God’s righteousness, and to believe in Christ as the fulfillment of the law.

Questions:

6)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Paul is an Israelite, and he desires all to know Christ.  God puts people on my heart and I pray for them.  It’s hard to know these days where everyone stands in their relationship with God so I just pray for Christ to fill them.

7)  They believed they could earn righteousness on their own through works and by following the law.  They lacked the faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, which is the true path to salvation.  Killing others in the name of Christ or God.  Persecuting those with different beliefs than yourself.  Hypocritical behavior of any kind.  Perverting God’s Word to be in line with your beliefs or to justify a particular sin.  Leading others astray as well.  Paul had misplaced zeal before his conversion as he persecuted Christians in the name of the Lord.  This is still happening today.

8 )  Belief in Christ as Lord and Savior fulfills the law and results in salvation.

Conclusions:  I love how Paul does not give up.  Ever.  I can picture him perpetually praying for his fellow brothers to know God’s Truth.  He dedicated his life to bringing as many as possible to God.  So must we.

End Notes:  Chapters 9-11 is Paul discussing the Jews and their unbelief in Christ.  Paul is distraught, so much so that in Romans 9:3 he offered his own relationship to Christ for the sake of the Jews.  Paul felt almost as if his family (the Jews) were rejecting what he’d dedicated his life to.

Paul needed to explain how the Jews were linked to God’s plan for them for the past, present, and future.  He offers hope.

Knowledge alone is not sufficient for salvation.  Action is required.  One must submit to God’s righteousness.  This is Free Will, a choice, and man’s responsibility to choose Christ.

The law ends for the believer in the sense that our obedience to the law is no longer the basis for our relationship with God. The law has not come to an end in the sense of no longer reflecting God’s standard or no longer showing us our need for a Savior.

“Christ did not come to make the law milder, or to render it possible for our cracked and battered obedience to be accepted as a sort of compromise. The law is not compelled to lower its terms, as though it had originally asked too much; it is holy and just and good, and ought not to be altered in one jot or tittle, nor can it be. Our Lord gives the law all it requires, not a part, for that would be an admission that it might justly have been content with less at first.” (Spurgeon)

“End” can be translated as “culmination”.  The Greek word (telos) can mean either termination, cessation or goal, culmination, or fulfillment.  Here fulfillment fits best.  Christ is the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:17) in the sense he brought it to completion by obeying perfectly its demands and prophecies.  We are no longer under the law (Romans 6:14) but it still plays a role in our lives.  We are free from condemnation and liberated by the Holy Spirit to fulfill its moral demands (Romans 8:4).

Righteousness is the righteous standing before God that Christ makes available to everyone who believes.