- Romans 9-11 begin to get at an underlying problem many Jews had with Paul's understanding of the gospel. "Works of law" had been so central to God's relationships with the Jews, part of his covenant with Israel. How could God just throw all that away? How is it that Gentiles could bypass the Old Testament? And if Jesus was the Messiah, why hadn't more of Israel believed?
- Romans 9 is not about God predestining some but not others, no matter how Augustine or Calvin took it. It is about the fact that God is God--he can do what he wants. So if God wants to save the Gentiles, that's his business. And if most Israel doesn't accept it, they must not be true Israel.
- But Romans 11 will soon make it clear that unbelieving Israel can still be saved. Indeed, Romans 11:26 suggests that Israel will eventually accept Christ.
- In the middle, Romans 10 indicates how either Jew or Gentile might be saved--faith in Jesus as Lord... anyone who calls on the name of the Lord can be saved.
- Romans 12-15 then play out the practical implications of Romans 1-11. We should present our bodies to righteousness in practice, as Romans 6 had already set out theologically.
- Romans 12:4-8 give us some of the different gifts God gives his people.
- Romans 13, like Jesus, tells us that love sums up the whole of the Law.
- Romans 14-15 give fundamental guidelines when Christians disagree on issues. The key is that everyone is 1) not causing others to stumble and 2) is being true to his or her own conscience. When a person's intentions are not pure, that's when a person is sinning.
- In Romans 16, Paul either greets the Christians at Rome or, some suggest, it may have originally been a separate letter sent to Ephesus. In either case it is a letter of recommendation for Phoebe, a deacon from the area of Corinth. Paul may also refer to a woman as an apostle like him, Junia.
My personal focus:
- Romans 14 has been important for me for a long time. It suggests that being a Christian is not about getting what we have coming to us. It is not about our "rights." We are not free to follow what we believe is true no matter how it affects others. First, we live to give glory to God, not to get by with just as much as we can. And even when we are quite certain we know what God thinks, we live with a view to how our freedom might affect those who do not agree.