Romans Part 13: Therefore…

April 19, 2007

Rom 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.

“Therefore….” The pivotal word in the book of Romans introduces the twelfth chapter. The preceding eleven chapters answer the question, “Why?” In those chapters, Paul explains the gospel, providing the rationale and motivation for the Christian life. Then in the following chapters he exhorts us to live as God expects, in response to the gospel. God has provided richly for our salvation. Therefore, we should live in a certain way.

In particular, the Christians in Rome who first received Paul’s letter, were expected to respond in a certain way. Remember that they were experiencing tension between the Jews and the Gentiles in these increasingly Gentile churches in Rome. Paul wrote to address these tensions. Few differences in the church today can compare to the depth of difference between Jewish and Gentile Christians in the first century. A millenium and a half under the Mosaic Law had a profound effect on the very fiber of the heart and soul of the Jews. They had been bred to despise the nations around them. How could they now embrace these Gentiles?

Paul instructed these Roman Christians that they should offer their bodies as living sacrifices. They were no longer to live their lives from a self centered point of view, but to give themselves to God for His purposes. The gospel changed everything. They were not to conform to the world around them (neither to the heathen Gentile world nor to the Jewish world), but to have a new mind and a new outlook that transforms their lives. If they would do this, the Jew / Gentile friction in their church would vanish.

Jew and Gentile alike were to have a sober, humble view of themselves. Both groups equally, desperately needed the gospel. They were quite different from one another, yet were all part of the same body. They were a team. As the saying goes, there is no “I” in “team”. So whatever their individual gifts, they all were to be used for the good of the team, of the body. Those gifts do not belong to the individual, but to the body. God did not provide the gifts to stroke the ego of the individual, but to meet the needs of the body. We are gifted in order to serve.

He called upon them to love each other sincerely–both Jew and Gentile. They were to be devoted to one another like a family, because they are the family of God. He admonished them to honor one another, to be hospitable, to rejoice and to mourn with one another. And they were called to live in harmony with one another. Yes, even Jew and Gentile, even if they didn’t agree on everything. Even rich Gentiles and poor Jews were to associate harmoniously with one another.

When someone treated them wrong (and surely someone had done so), they were not to take revenge. Instead they were to respond to evil with good–even between a Jew and a Gentile.

Then he instructed them about submission to their government. Keep in mind, this was the same Roman government that, less than a decade later, would put Paul and Peter to death. Nero was emperor. Yet Paul commanded them to obey the Roman laws, to pay their taxes, and to give proper respect to the government. Both Jew and Gentile were to submit respectfully to the Roman government. That would be especially hard for the Jews, who had always resented their Roman overlords.

Paul then referred back to the Mosaic Law to remind them to love one another. He helped the Jews to see that love for the Gentiles was right, even in the Jewish law. He called them to leave the deeds of darkness. Time was short! They must be ready to meet their maker.

With this preparation, he then turned to address the specific conflicts between Jew and Gentile in the Roman church. Next time: Accept one another!

One comment

  1. Good post brother.Bobby

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