Study Guide

Epistle to the Romans Community

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For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (NRSV 10:12-13)

For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (KJV 10:12-13)

Paul's God seems pretty welcoming. Here, Paul wants us to know that God doesn't draw dividing lines—he brings along anyone who wants to take the ride.

As regards the gospel [the Jewish people] are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (NRSV 11:28-29)

As concerning the gospel, [the Jewish people] are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father's sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. (KJV 11:28-29)

Paul struggles with this issue throughout the letter. Non-Christian Jews are obviously not saved, but he can't shake the feeling that God needs to do something for them. Here, he's telling the Romans that they are still part of the fold because God's election is a no take-back kind of situation.

For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. (NRSV 12:4-5)

For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. (KJV 12:4-5)

Sure, all the members of the community are distinct and different. But they've all got to work together to get this church up and running.

Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. (NRSV 12:13-16)

Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. (KJV 12:13-16)

Everyone can use a few rules for living in a community, right? Like, you know, don't eat that sandwich in the office fridge that very clearly has someone else's name on it. Paul is big on people taking care of each other, and this section provides some guidelines for living in harmony.

Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. (NRSV 14:1)

Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. (KJV 14:1)

If you want to invite a non-believer to hang out with you, it's cool. But don't just invite them over so you can argue. Paul must have been to a few tense Thanksgiving dinners before he came up with this one.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. (NRSV 14:10)

But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. (KJV 14:10)

According to Paul, Christians have no right to judge each other. It reminds us of something Jesus said: "Do not judge, so that you may not be judged" (Matthew 7:1). Look at them: two peas in a pod.

Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble. (NRSV 14:19-21)

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. (KJV 14:19-21)

This is a big one for Paul. He doesn't think these squabbles over what's safe to eat and what's not are helping anyone. Christians should be building each other up instead of creating divisions in the community over a slice of bacon.

Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor. (NRSV 15:2)

Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. (KJV 15:2)

As Bill and Ted might say, "Be excellent to one another."

May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NRSV 15:5-6)

Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (KJV 15:5-6)

Paul says a little prayer that the Christians can sort things out and stop fighting amongst themselves. Why is this so important? Because they need to be speaking in one voice in order to move forward. Plus, it's hard to hear over all that arguing.

I myself feel confident about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another. Nevertheless on some points I have written to you rather boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. (NRSV 15:14-16)

I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God, That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. (KJV 15:14-16)

Paul's got a good feeling about the Romans, but that doesn't stop him from doling out tons of advice. So, what gives him the right to do advise any Christian community? Oh, yeah—God.

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