This week we shall be reading the letter written by the apostle Paul to the believers in Rome, who would have been a mixture of Jews and Gentiles. One of the main issues which concerned the early believers was whether or not they needed to keep all of the laws contained in the Law of Moses (see Acts 15:5), and if their lives were not to be governed by those laws, how should they in fact live?
Sunday – Romans 5
At the beginning of chapter 5, Paul, the writer of Romans, concludes his reasoning in the previous chapters, ‘Therefore being justified through faith’. ‘Justified’ means declared righteousness. Paul has previously shown that we can never become righteous by our actions, by keeping the Law, because we all fail and sin against God. Rather it is our faith, our belief in what God has said, that gives us access to God’s grace and the hope of salvation.
Now Paul moves on to different but closely related matters. He shows that trials and difficult times in our lives will actually help us and build us up. Verses 2 to 5 tell us that these difficulties will work towards the strengthening of our hope.
Then by comparing Christ with Adam from verse 12 onwards, we are shown how great the gift of Christ is in its ability to save us. Verse 19 explains that through Adam’s sin in the garden of Eden many were made sinners, but now because of Christ’s obedience many can be made righteous. It is through the undeserved grace of God that believers will be saved (verse 21).
Monday – Romans 6
After showing in the previous chapters that we are able to be saved by God’s grace, through our faith in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul now deals with the question, “If we are saved by grace, should we now just carry on sinning and be forgiven?” We read in chapter 5 and verse 20 that where sin abounds, grace is found in much more abundance, so it is clear where this question has come from. Chapter 6 verse 6 sums up the answer succinctly. Baptised believers have died with Christ, which is what their baptism represents (verse 4), and so they have also died to sin and must therefore live their lives accordingly.
Note Paul’s use of rhetorical questions in this chapter (verse 15 for example) and elsewhere. It shows the kind of questions he was being asked and the sorts of arguments he was facing. They are the reasons he had to write these letters and the answers to these questions give us a very clear guide to the subjects they address.
Tuesday – Romans 8
In this chapter we have shown to us the difference between those who follow the ways of the flesh and those who are changed and are now trying to live in accordance with God’s commands and principles. Verses 13-17 tell us that those who have changed will have eternal life and be heirs of the promises that God has made to those who are faithful to him (Galatians 3:29).
The chapter then deals with the subject of trials and difficulties that are faced in this life. Verses 18 and 28 should give us great comfort in that not only are these trials meant to strengthen us but that they are all parts of God’s plan. The fact that God is in control and that he is working in our lives helps us feel secure in the knowledge that we are being watched over. The final crescendo of verses 37-39 really gives the believer great courage, knowing that nothing at all can stand in the way of the love of God for us.
Wednesday – Romans 9
Paul now begins to look at the extending of the gospel message from the Jews to the rest of the world, the Gentiles. This clearly was an issue for the believers in Rome and so Paul spends much time detailing the background and comprehensively dealing with the questions raised about the Gentiles now being brought into God’s saving plan. Verse 15 is partly a quotation from Exodus 33 verse 19, where God was speaking to Moses. This reference from the Old Testament is used to illustrate the reasons for the opportunity being given to the Gentiles to be saved through the work of the Lord Jesus. Paul uses it as evidence of the consistency of God’s intentions. He will show mercy to the Gentiles. Throughout the book of Romans and in all of Paul’s writings, quotations from the Old Testament are used to support what is being explained. They show the harmony of the scriptures by showing that what is stated in the New Testament is in line with what has been said in the Old Testament. The fact that Paul’s words were written hundreds of years after the writings in Exodus shows the reliability of the Bible. Its message is clear and consistent despite being written over such a long time period.
Thursday – Romans 10
The Jews, God’s chosen people (Deuteronomy 7:6), are now no longer the sole recipients of God’s goodness and graciousness. ‘Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved’: verse 13 quoting Joel 2:32. But notice it is only those who call on him that are to be saved. We must be willing to actively seek God and then also to put into practice his commandments in our lives. We must take an active role in our own salvation, not sitting passively waiting for change to come about. This chapter and the next also consider the future of the Jewish people. They still are God’s chosen people, and so the promises he made to them are still sure. What he has promised will still take place (verse 26 of chapter 11). But now the hope that the people of Israel have has been extended to the Gentiles also, as verse 12 of chapter 10 shows.
Friday – Romans 12
After spending the previous chapters looking at the opening of the gospel to include the Gentiles, Paul now focuses on what they must do in light of this magnificent hope that they now have. The ‘therefore’ in verse 1 shows that he has rounded off his argument and is moving on to another subject, namely that of how the lives of the believers should be as a consequence. They must be kind, they must be loving, they must honestly try to serve their God, and the reason they must do this is because of what has been explained in chapters 1 through 11. All of Paul’s previous arguments have been leading up to this. What the believers are called to be, how they should live, is of great importance and we must keep this in our minds at all times.
Saturday – Romans 13
Our relationship with governments and officials is a subject that Jesus spoke about (Mark 12v17). Rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s is what Paul discusses here as well. Again the teaching is quite clear. We must comply willingly with the laws of the land we live in, showing respect to the authorities, bearing in mind that we serve God first and foremost. Should a government ask or require us to do something that goes against or compromises God’s laws then we must refrain from doing it (Acts 4:19). Our respect for governments and ruling powers comes from the fact that they have been put in place by God in accordance with his will and plan for the world (John 19:11, Daniel 2:21).