Study Guide

Epistle to the Romans Love

Love

God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (NRSV 5:5)

The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (KJV 5:5)

Paul starts off strong. God loves us so much, he's even filled up our hearts with this love. Living in his love must be easy then, right? According to this letter, is it?

God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. (NRSV 5:8)

God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (KJV 5:8)

Just in case you needed proof, God's given it to you. Even when we were all doing the wrong thing, God loved us enough to let his son die so that we could be redeemed. Does Paul just take this as a given or does he explain it any further?

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28, NRSV)

We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28, KJV)

This is some major certainty right here. If you love God and have been called by him, you can be sure things are going to work out well. Hmmm… remind us what happened to Paul again? How do we reconcile that?

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NRSV 8:35-39)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (KJV 8:35-39)

Wow, that is some strong love. Even the sword (a.k.a. getting beheaded) can't keep us from God's never-ending love. Too bad love alone isn't bullet proof.

As it is written, "I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau." What then are we to say? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." (NRSV 9:13-15)

As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (KJV 9:13-15)

Here, God gets a little selective with his love. Paul relates the story of Jacob and Esau to show why God has passed over the firstborn son for the second. He's trying to explain why God has set aside the Jews for the Gentiles. But is he just making God look bad?

As indeed he says in Hosea, "Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.'" "And in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' there they shall be called children of the living God." (NRSV 9:25-26)

As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. (KJV 9:25-26)

Paul uses this term, "beloved," from time to time. He's not talking about a romantic love interest, though. It's actually just anyone who is very, very loved. Here, the Jewish people were God's beloved, but now he's cast them aside. Ouch. That's gotta be a pretty big heartbreak. Break out the Spotify break-up playlist.

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. (NRSV 12:9-10)

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another. (KJV 12:9-10)

This is how Christians are supposed to be acting with each other. Everything's getting very lovey-dovey up in those churches.

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet"; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. (NRSV 13:8-10)

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (KJV 13:8-10)

Paul seems to be quoting Jesus here: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:31). But since the Gospel of Mark wasn't even written yet, this saying is probably just a really old one.

If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking NRSV 14:15)

But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. (KJV 14:15)

In other words, don't be a jerk.

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