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Friday, May 17, 2013

The Gospel of God's Grace # 7

A General Survey of the Epistle of Romans


Paul turns to the believer (chapters 12-15). In this division four areas of personal conduct are treated.


Paul returns in the twelfth chapter now to the thought of the eighth chapter which had been interrupted. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God [these mercies that I have been telling you about], to present your bodies ... be not conformed to this world." Here is the end product of looking at Jesus. "But be ye transformed." Look at the end of the chapter: "If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink." There is need for transformation to occur so a man will act mercifully and not react vengefully to the person who hurt him. God has no place in the heart of a Christian for revenge, anger, or malice. Perhaps the worst sin is for a person to hold malice and spite; maybe more heinous in God's sight than being a drunkard, because it indicates a terrible state of heart.


This means subjection to political and governmental powers. The Christian needs to know how he ought to live in relation to the state. "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ' (13:14). What does that mean? It means to adopt His attitude toward human government. He was subject to it. Pharisees sent disciples to Christ who asked, "Teacher, is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?" (See Matt. 22:15-17). He asked for a coin: "Whose is this image and superscription? ... Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's" (See Matt. 22:19-21). In our attitude toward the government, we ought to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ' and act as He did.


Paul indicates that we have a responsibility to the "weaker brethren" (chapter 14). "Him that is weak in the faith, receive ye" (Romans 14:1). Don't cast him out. This chapter is important for a Christian to read. There are many things that may be permissible for one person, but which might cause somebody else to stumble, especially the man that is spiritually weak. This chapter was written for that purpose. "Now we that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak" (15:1). Paul was trying to pay a compliment to those folks. He was saying, "Do you feel strong? Well then, you ought to help out with the shortcomings of the weak. That is the reason God gave you the strength."


Paul refers to his own life and labors as an example.


The final division of the book is contained in chapter 16. Four items form the conclusion: 1. a commendation (1-2); 2. a salutation (3-16) and greetings (21-24); 3. exhortations (17-20); 4. and a benediction (25-27).

Paul began his book by referring to a gospel that had always been known; and he closes by referring to a mystery that had never been known. This mystery he mentions is not discussed in the letter to the Romans but in the letter to the Ephesians. He begins by saluting all the saints that are at Rome, and then he closes by saluting particular saints that are at Rome.

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 1 - "A Declaration of Paul's Official Relation")

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