Romans XII-XVI
(Principles of Christianity)
November 28th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

- Acts 12:10 (NAB)

Summary of Chapters

In this last group of chapters, Paul provides instruction on how to live as a Christian and then concludes with personal greetings to many individuals in Rome with whom he was personally acquainted.

In chapter 12, Paul instructs the Romans (and us) to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God. This means that we ought to use the talents of our body to serve God and also respect that each of us has different talents to contribute to the church.

Paul also discusses the concept of Christian love. We show love by caring for those in need and blessing those who persecute us. Paul advises us to leave vengeance to God. Instead of taking revenge, he suggests we follow the advice of Proverbs 25:21-22 (NIV): “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this you will help burning coals on his head.”

The next behavior Paul discusses is in chapter 13: Submission to authorities. Paul states that God has allowed these parties to be in leadership positions, and therefore they are servants of God.

    Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities

    -Romans 13:1 (NIV)

In this chapter, Paul points out that love is the central tenet that is the foundation of all of the commandments. If we sincerely love other people we will not break any of God’s commandments. Paul also notes a sense of urgency for us to “put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light (13:12 - NIV)” so that we are focused on true love and not sinful desires.

In chapters 14-15 Paul concludes his theological treatise by encouraging us to accept other believers, regardless of their level of faith and regardless of practices that they adhere to with regard to the day of Sabbath. We are called to encourage others, not condemn them. Paul follows his own advice by telling the Romans that he knows they are full of goodness and knowledge.

At the end of chapter 15, Paul takes a moment to explain his ministry to the Gentiles and describe his plans to visit Rome. He explains that he has been hindered from visiting the Romans because God had been calling him to various places where the Gentiles had not yet heard the Word.

In chapter 16, Paul closes the letter with a series of personal greetings to women and men in Rome, followed by a final verse of praise to the “eternal God (16:26 - NIV).”

Reflection and Application

For many of us, this last group of chapters may be easier to comprehend than the previous groups. Whereas the previous chapters were relatively complex explanations of Christian theology, these chapters are calls to action, telling us his views on the expected behavior of Christians. The Biblical expert, William Barclay, explains that this type of ending is typical for Paul, who "always ends his letters with practical advice. The sweep of his mind may search through infinities, but he never gets lost in them; he always finishes with his feet firmly planted on the ground (1)."

We are to use our talents, care for those in need, bless our enemies, obey authorities, love one another, and encourage the faithful without condemning their shortcomings. When we stumble, we may find other Christians encouraging us, and we should do the same.

Relatively easy to understand, but relatively hard to do. And if we fail, does that mean we are no longer Christians? I believe Paul would say certainly not! He admits his own struggles in earlier chapters and emphasizes that we are saved by Grace not by our works. If we accept Jesus in our lives and “put on the armor of light” than we are going to naturally be drawn towards these principles.

Paul includes a long list of friends at the closing of the letter. Perhaps he does this so that his audience recognizes that he is well-known, and consequently will respect his opinion because they respect the opinion of those that he knows. You might conclude that Paul was ahead of his contemporaries in the use of Social Networking, which employs a similar line of thinking to expand one's network of friends and contacts.

We think we are just discovering this concept of leveraging our relationships with our friends to gain other friends or colleagues through LinkedIn, Facebook, and other services, but Paul has demonstrated the same technique here. Note also that the first person he mentions is a woman, and that he includes both men and women in his list, demonstrating that both genders are important servants of the church. Let us follow his lead in respecting the role of both genders and all types of people in our churches.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is one of your favorite restaurants?
    2. How can you encourage someone in their faith today?
    3. Which enemies could we bless and feed?

    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we thank you for your servant Paul who describes your character in such eloquent terms. Strengthen us to be living sacrifices for your cause.

    Prayer Concern
    Woman Leaders in the Church


    (1) Barclay, William, The Letter to the Romans, the New Daily Study Bible, John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 1975, pages 183-184

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: 1 Corinthians Overview and Study of 1-4 (Unity in Church)

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