ローマ1:8-15 『ローマ2 福音の中心性l』 2017/06/24 David Hawley

Passage Romans 1:8-15
Parallel Passages
Background Content: Just after the salutation. Next up is his assertion of gospel power, followed by people’s culpability.

·       Church at Rome had been around for a while (AD 49 or earlier, so 11yrs+). Mixed Gentile (mostly) and Jewish background. Probably 5 household churches.

·       Written ~55-58 from Corinth, on Paul’s 3rd mission trip.

·       (Imprisoned and arrives at Rome 60-62)

Synopsis of the passage This is Paul’s personal message to the Roman church before he launches into the theological treatise.

He expresses thanks for their faith and its impact, and expresses a long standing wish to see them and minister to them in person. He roots this in an allusion to his apostolic calling – which is an obligation – to both Jews and Gentiles (which constitute the church at Rome).

It is helpful to understand this section by also looking at ch 15, where he revisits the above in a kind of chiasmic structure:

15: 14-22 his calling to the Gentiles

15:23-33 plan to visit, and ending

ch16 – conclusion- greetings from others and commendations

 

Also note v1,5 as to his calling, and v6 as to its relevance to them.

Application
Title The centrality of the gospel

 

[Rom 1:8-15 NIV] 8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong– 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles. 14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.

 

 

  1. Introduction
    • Last week Kentaro started our series on the book of Romans. We learned that
      • this book is a letter is to the Roman church, which Paul did not start and had not visited.
      • The letter is about the gospel of Jesus, who was crucified for our sins, and resurrected from the dead, proving that he is the divine Son of God, and the promised Messiah.
      • From the greeting, we see that Paul considered himself first of all as God’s servant, and secondly as an apostle – a messenger of the gospel. And these were the purposes for God’s call to him.
      • Christians are also called to be God’s servants, and we also have a calling to some mission in the world.
    • So that was the greeting that opens the letter.
    • This week we continue on with the opening section by studying Paul’s personal remarks to the Romans. Next week, we will get into the body of the letter, starting with Paul’s statement of the theme.
    • So today, we will cover the end of the introduction. The end of the beginning J
    • In this part of the introduction, Paul is trying to connect with the Roman church, who had never met him. So in a way, it is a personal introduction and some small talk. But with Paul, the small talk is never small, as we will see. So let’s copy Paul and just get into it.
  2. God’s calling brings focus
    • First of all, in v8-13a Paul tells the Romans that he had been constantly thinking about them, praying for them and desiring to minister to them.
    • v8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.
      • Rome was the center of the Roman Empire, and as they say ‘all roads lead to Rome’. Rome was a hub for trade, people, and of course ideas – like the gospel.
      • Paul’s strategy was generally to plant churches in large cities of note in major Roman provinces of the East: Galatia, Asia, Macedonia, Achaia. From those churches, the believers would spread the gospel to other locations in the area. Rome would be strategic to reaching the Western Roman empire, in particular Spain, which now is in Paul’s sights (Romans 15:23-28).
      • Any Christians traveling to Rome would have been in contact with the church, and would have brought news about the church when they returned home. Paul was very happy to know that the church at Rome had a genuine faith.
    • v9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
      • Paul’s preaching of the Gospel is as a service to God, something that he does genuinely, from the heart. What he does is directed towards the God, the audience of One. It’s not how people react, or the results from preaching that keep Paul going. He is doing it as a service to God, and that’s whose approval he wants. This is the same of Jesus. People rejected Paul and rejected Jesus, but that didn’t shake them, because their service was directed to pleasing God alone.
      • But that doesn’t mean he is not fully engaged. Paul is always thinking about both his mission and the people he is called to care for. So he keeps praying to God to remove the roadblocks to him fulfilling his mission. His desire to come to the Romans is kept alive as he prays.
    • v11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong
      • Paul wants to bless them in a spiritual way, to make them strong. Paul is focused and had a purpose in mind for his visit to Rome. And the Romans needed to be made
      • First of all, they needed to be strong because of opposition.
        • The Jews first and now the Christians were not popular with everybody in Rome. Believers were different, in the way they acted, in how they participated in society. And they were slandered as
          • superstitious and subversive – Roman integrated religion into public life. But the Christians couldn’t go along with it,, because they worshipped Jesus alone, rather than obeying the Roman rites, rituals and traditions, and wouldn’t serve in the army or take public office,
          • atheists — because they would not worship the Roman gods and the Emperor who was considered divine,
          • magicians, because they talked about all this weird spiritual stuff, and they performed miracles (just as Jesus was called a magician)
          • incestuous and cannibals – because they called each other brothers and sisters, greeted each other with a ‘holy kiss’ and had “love feasts” (fellowship meals), where they symbolically ate the body and blood of Jesus
        • Now, many people had heard rumors about the Christians (Acts 28:21), but didn’t actually know any Christians personally and didn’t really know what they believed and did. So every bad thing they had ever heard about, they said the Christians were doing.
        • So because the Christians wouldn’t compromise like everyone else, and because the Romans were ignorant and suspicious about them, the Christians were made into scapegoats. History records waves of horrific persecution, expulsion and murder. So the Roman Christians needed to be strong to withstand the pressure.
        • We need to be strong to stand up to the pressure to compromise, to patiently bear misunderstanding and mistrust, and to not simply hide our faith.
      • Secondly, the church at Rome needed to be stronger to make the impact that was needed from the strategic center of the Roman Empire.
        • The church in Rome was not started by an apostle. [Some claim Peter was there, and before Paul, but there is no evidence of it, neither in the bible nor in other sources.]
        • Rather, the church arose organically from Jewish travelers coming back from the backwoods of Jerusalem or Asian provinces, and possibly some liberated Jewish slaves, and the majority of believers were Gentiles attracted by the Jewish faith but not willing to become Jews.
        • We know that there were a half-dozen or so Jewish synagogues in Rome. But when Paul finally came to Rome in chains, 3 years after this letter, the Jewish leaders in Rome hadn’t even heard the gospel proclamation (Acts 28:21). So even though Paul praised the Roman church because their faith was known all over the world, the church had not been that effective in proclaiming the gospel in Rome. They needed to be made stronger.
        • Rome would also be a base for Paul as he heads out West to Spain as I mentioned.
        • So that raises the question in my mind about Tokyo? Do we also need to grow stronger for the sake of Japan and the world especially Asia? What do you think?
      • v12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
        • Paul is also knows what he wants to happen when he meets with the Roman Christians. He wants mutual encouragement to come out of their time together.
        • The word “encourage” can also be translated ‘comfort’. It is actually related to the name Jesus gave to the Holy Spirit in John’s gospel, the Comforter. The meaning of this word encourage or comfort is broad; it means to come along side, to comfort, to exhort, instruct, entreat, etc.
        • But here the encouragement is mutual. The encouragement is not one way from Paul to the others, but it is actually the comfort and counsel of God that is being shared from Paul to the Roman Christians and from the Roman Christians to Paul.
        • I think this is what we would really like in our church experience, this kind of mutual encouragement.
        • But we don’t always find it. There are reasons why it can be hard: if you don’t know the other person well enough to be able to encourage, or we don’t think the other person could encourage us. Sometimes there can be bad feelings and reasons to mistrust.
        • Or perhaps we may have low expectations for church, and aren’t looking for this in our church experience. But Paul is expecting really meaningful fellowship, and the other NT writers as well. We are told as a church, for example, to love one another, forgive one another, comfort one another, etc. etc. The phrase ‘one another’ occurs 55 times in the NT, 30 times in Paul’s letters.
        • We are meant to be interacting with one another at a level that makes a difference in our lives. We want this connection, and we hope to find a place where we can find it. But we struggle with making it happen, don’t we. We’ll talk a little more about this later.
      • So we’ve heard that Paul has had the Roman church on his mind. Now in verses v13b-v15 Paul tells us about his plans and what is motivating him.
      • v13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.
        • Paul had made many plans to visit, but things got in the way. So this wasn’t an idle daydream, or idea that came to mind from time to time. He planned and prepared. He had a clear goal and made plans to realize that goal.
        • His goal was to have a harvest, literally ‘fruit’ among the Romans. What is this fruit or spiritual harvest? Looking at other places in the NT, I think it could mean converts, or spiritual growth, most likely both.
      • 14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.
        • The word translated here in English as “non-Greek”, and in my Japanese bible as 未開の人 is ‘barbaros’, or barbarian (野蛮人) – crazy foreigners. Who does Paul have in mind? Well, we know that there was a large population of Celtic people in Galatia where Paul had planted a church. There were lots of Celts also in Spain. This could explain why Paul wanted to go to Spain, to continue his evangelization of the Celts.
        • The word ‘obligated’ in this English translation is literally ‘debt’ in the Greek, but also means an obligation or duty.
        • Paul says he has an obligation towards basically everybody. What is this obligation? From the sentence that follows that obligation must be to do with preaching the gospel.
        • From the earlier verses, it’s clear that at the major reason is his calling as an apostle to both Jews and non-Jews. God has called him to the task and so he owes it to God to do that task to the best of his ability.
        • This idea of obligation comes up in other contexts, for example
          • We have an obligation to serve God because of Jesus paid a high price to save us (8:12).
          • We owe something to people who have delivered spiritual truth to us, in particular the Jews (15:27), but I think also to the many people who have struggled and even died to get the gospel to us.
        • But here Paul says he is eager and ready to pay his debt by obeying God’s call on his life. For Paul, that is preaching the gospel (v1).
        • Our calling is different, but the same logic of obligation out of gratitude for what we have received applies to how we live our lives.
      • So we can see from this whole passage that Paul’s life is very simple: all that he does is focused on what God has called him to do.

 

 

  1. The centrality of the gospel
    • So let’s look at this gospel Paul is always talking about preaching.
    • What is the gospel?
      • We are probably going to take a year exploring this letter to answer that question in detail.
      • But we can summarize like this. The Gospel is that Jesus died for our sins and to reconcile us with God, and by believing in Jesus, that forgiveness and acceptance becomes ours, and many other spiritual benefits as well. Our relationship with God is the power that transforms us into what God created us to be.
      • All of these good things are a gift from God, not something we earn by our good deeds or piety.
      • The Gospel is the only way to be accepted by God and the only way to become our true self as God designed; the Gospel has all the power required to get the job done.
      • That’s the gospel.
    • Paul’s message is the gospel
      • Now Paul is writing to the Roman church, which is a group of believers, as we saw last week from verse 6 if we couldn’t guess.
      • So why does Paul want to preach the gospel to these Christians? Why does he write this very long theological explanation of the gospel to them? They are already believers!
    • Paul’s method is the gospel
      • It’s because the gospel is not only what brings us to believe, but it also is what transforms us.
        • The gospel is not only for our salvation, it is also for our sanctification, so we can live in the world and with each other as God intended, become what God intends for us.
        • And so when Paul wants to deal with some practical issue of attitudes and behavior, he always works from the foundation of the grace of the gospel.
      • So let’s take a quick overview of this letter to see how that works:
        • In chapters 1-11, Paul deconstructs the Roman Gentile’s and the Jews’ view of themselves as good people not needing the gospel.
          • To the Gentiles, Paul shows that they sin against their own intuition about the world, and they violate their own conscience.
          • To the Jews, he shows them that they break the Mosaic Law.
          • So both groups are guilty before God.
          • And then he explains God’s way, the grace of the Gospel.
        • And after that, Paul writes two short verses, which are the pivot point of the book:
          12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

          • This is the pivot point of the book. This is where Paul tells us what our response to the gospel must be. This is where Paul tells us how we rebuild our lives on the gospel.
          • Paul urges us in the light of God’s mercy, that we must offer ourselves completely to God, and let God change us from the inside out by renewing the way we think, how we perceive things, how we understand and make judgements.
          • So what is this mercy of God that he is speaking about? It is the gospel!
            • It is Jesus humbling himself, coming along side us, loving us, laying down his life for us. Jesus took upon himself the evil we do and paid for it. And instead the good that he did, and the glory that he won, is given to us. God sees Jesus, his beloved Son, when he looks at us.
            • Thinking about that, and letting it sink into us will change us.
          • As the Holy Spirit renews our thinking so that we understand the gospel, our inner being will be transformed.
          • We will be able to discern what God wants, what is best, and we will be able to do it sincerely and genuinely from our hearts.
        • So in these two verses, Paul has given us the basis for applying the gospel so we will live in a way that pleases God.
        • From this point on, in the rest of chapter 12 and what follows, Paul will walk his readers how this applies to issues in the Roman church. So let’s take a quick overview of the issues they were facing. Because we can learn something about how to deal with issues that we face.
      • Deep conflict
        • Remember that the Roman church is made up of Jews and Gentiles. There is a dividing wall between Jew and Gentile, based on ethnicity, customs, religious background, etc.
        • And the Jews had specific issues about paying taxes to Rome, what they could do on the Sabbath, eating meat offered to idols, and they tended generally to be judgmental about how people behaved.
        • And these are basically the issues that Paul talks about in the application section of Romans, ch. 13-15.
      • Applying the gospel
        • So what does problems was the Roman church experiencing? You’ve got two really different groups of people, and they are worshipping and fellowshipping together.
          • Now let’s imagine you sit down to a potluck, and the Jewish guys are kind hanging out together at a separate table, and they aren’t eating what you brought. So you ask, and after a bit of evasion they say: “is there pork in that? And what about those plates , did you make sure you didn’t put cheese on that plate which has the meatloaf on it now?”
          • Or you say, let’s get together Saturday at so-and-so’s house for worship. But the Jewish believers can’t come because it’s too far to travel on the Sabbath, and besides the house is probably ritually unclean, and I only want to sing psalms in Hebrew anyway.
          • Or maybe you get into a political discussion, and the Jewish guys are ragging on about Roman oppression in Judaea, and you are saying what about those terrorist Zealots and the assassinations? Or maybe the Romans came by the church to arrest some Jewish believers who wouldn’t pay their taxes.
          • And on, and on it goes.
        • How does Paul address the issues? Well, he doesn’t do this:
          • Paul could have said: just be nice, put up with each other. But I think we can see it wouldn’t have worked.
          • Because these issues are not minor differences and disagreements. They are deep, and bound up with people’s identities, the groups they belong to, and what is important to each person as a Roman or a Jew.
          • Paul could have said to the Jewish believers: lighten up, that’s old school. The Law doesn’t apply anymore, so don’t be trouble makers.
          • Or Paul could have said to both groups: let’s just agree to disagree and split the church into a Gentile meeting and a Jewish meeting. Because everyone would more comfortable that way.
        • But instead Paul takes a gospel approach.
          • He says that our identity as Christians is not built on these issues of ethnicity, or religious traditions. These matters are not important.
          • Instead our identity is based on the acceptance and love we have from God, based purely on his mercy.
          • And so we are freed to obey the law of love, to do what is right and necessary.
          • Honor one another. Acknowledge each other’s gifting. Be humble and self-denying.
          • Why eat stuff that will cause your brother to stumble? Why refuse to obey the government or pay necessary taxes out of national pride? Why insist others have the same opinions and act like you do?
          • Accept one another and strive to build each other up. Look to what others need, rather than just doing what you would prefer.
        • Although he had been a strict Jew, Paul learned from the gospel to live according to the needs of others, for the sake of his calling.
          • He learned this from Jesus.

Phillipians 2:  3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

  • And when we understand the gospel, we will do the same.

 

 

  1. Application:
    • So that was the Roman church. What can we learn from this for Crossroads?
    • Old and new wineskins
      • We heard a few weeks ago about new wine and old wineskins. The idea we got from Jesus, that when God does something new, we need to be able to change to accommodate that new thing. In particular, as the generations change, church needs to adapt to be attractive and meaningful to younger people. New wine needs new wineskins.
      • Now if you are old wine, you are traditional, and like the old ways. You also know that if you do things in a traditional way, few people will be able to criticize. And there is a feeling of safety in doing things in a tried and proven way.
      • But our identity in Christ is not built on our respectability or pleasing powerful authorities. And our safety is in Christ, not in human traditions, which we know have no power to save.
      • So we follow Christ, who followed the Father’s will, always doing what was best, whether it was old or new. We can be adventurous. We can take risks.
      • Or if you are new wine, you may want styles that fit you better. The old things don’t connect. You want to choose your own path, and change things for the better. Maybe making a change is a way to make a personal difference in the world.
      • But we know that it is the work of God we need. We don’t need to insist on either using old or new wineskins, or styles of doing church. The future is in God’s hands, and he is the one who builds his church.
      • So we can defer to the past out of love for traditionalists, we can lay down our personal freedom to choose for the sake of others. We can trust that God knows the time for bringing something new into being, and we can be patient and pray for it.
    • Disagreements
      • But we don’t only have different tastes in how to do church services. We will often have disagreements over many other things: How to run the church, what kind of leadership structure.  How to spend money. If, when, and how to plant a church.
      • Now some of these disagreements may be really significant to the life and health of the church. Some may be differences in priority or perspective.
      • We should be able to be cool and rational about these disagreements, and just talk them through, make a decision and move on.
      • But sometimes these disagreements are tied into our previous bad experiences, and so there may be an element of fear or regret. Or we have had good experiences, and we want to experience that again. Or we just want to make an impact by using our gifts or our ideas.
      • And so we can become upset if people don’t agree with what we want, or perhaps we feel we aren’t being heard.
      • But the gospel teaches us that God can work bad into good, so we don’t need to panic if we lose control.
      • The gospel teaches us to be humble because we are saved by grace, not by being excellent. We don’t have to try to impress others or fake it.
      • We don’t need to worry whether we are good enough, or whether our contribution is recognized. When our feelings are hurt, we can go to God for comfort, because he loves and accepts us, whether we are noticed or not, whether we feel we are making a difference or none at all. We can leave judgement up to God, and forgive.
      • Finally, the gospel teaches us to submit to one another, because even Jesus did not serve himself but became a servant.

 

 

  1. Summary and Closing
    • So what have we learned?
    • First, Paul was a very focused guy. His calling from God to serve Him from his heart, and his apostolic calling were the central focus of his life.
    • The gospel is Paul’s motivation as well as his message. It is also his means of calling people to faith and growing them to maturity.
    • Secondly, we also have a calling from God to live in a way that pleases God. But like the Roman church, we have deep-rooted issues that hinder us from doing so.
    • Understanding the gospel, what Jesus has done for us, motivates us to let God address these deep issues in our hearts. This worked for Paul, and it will work for us.
    • Understanding the gospel will show us what God really wants, and how good that really is.
    • Let’s look forward to what God will do as we explore the book of Romans together, and let the gospel change us.

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