Friday, December 3

Pauline Epistles: Romans
(chapter 12-16, essay 7)

Well, finally back to St. Paul. I don't have any hanging question from the last few chapters. I'm going to start by summarizing the next few chapters and then end with a discussion of what I've read.

Chapter 12
The first few verses are certainly in the general lectionary path, they sound familiar. St. Paul first exhorts us to give of ourselves to God. And recall that the measure of faith God has given us may differ between believers. He follows that (vs 9-21) with a litany of exhortations to excellence, e.g., Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord
Chapter 13
We must all submit to our governmental authorities for no government exists without God's approval. Therefore rebelling against governmental authority is means rebelling against God. Give to the civil authorities what they require, be it taxes, revenue, respect, and honor.
Chapter 14
People worship in different ways. Who are we to judge the manner in which another worships. Instead of worrying about how your brother worships, make up your mind not to put any obstacles in his way. In these verses St. Paul speaks of dietary customs and habits and their relationship to worship. He says, All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.
Chapter 15
Finally, those who are stronger in their faith should assist and bear with the failings of the weaker. Finally, St. Paul tells the Roman Church of his plans to visit.
Chapter 16
This chapter consists of personally exhortations and salutations to those individuals he has heard of in the Roman Church itself.

Since posting the last essay, I have acquired a "Tyndale New Testament Commentary" for Romans. The Romans commentary is by F.F. Bruce. Skimming Mr Bruce's commentary for these chapters, he finds the moral precepts section of chapter 12 to be very important, describing it as the "Law of Christ", and a sermon which resonates with Jesus' Sermon on the mount. He also mentions that one of the sticker points of dietary practices that Paul is alluding to in Chapter 14 is that the Council of Jerusalem had forbidden Christians from eating meat offered in sacrifice to pagan gods. However, this was difficult in many cities, because at butchers stalls, sacrificial meat was mixed in with the rest as the temples often sold it back to the butchers for cash. This didn't cause much problem for some "stronger" Christians, but did for others. It was a point of contention for the early church.

My closing comments are sparse. I think I will close by quoting Romans 12:9-21 in full. Typing and reading it again, will further commit it my memory.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep you spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written, "It is mine to avenge: I will repay." says the Lord. On the contrary:
'If you enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head'
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good