Serving Jesus is the way to produce true fruit that glorifies God. Our own goodness — or our own ideas of goodness — are worthless for producing spiritual fruit. We must leave our own efforts at spiritual excellence — we must divorce ourselves from them — in order to join ourselves to the Resurrected One, in whom is the promise of life and vitality. In Christ we possess all possibility for effective service.

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you could be joined to another, to the one who was raised from the dead, to bear fruit to God.
Rom 7.4

Our God and Father, reinforce in us the purpose to live in and for Christ and to glorify you by our fruit.

What to do when differences arise between followers of Christ? Continue following Christ!

Therefore, accept one another, even as Christ has also accepted you, for the glory of God.
Rom 15.7 JRM

To accept means to receive, welcome, regard as worthy of fellowship and working together, in spite of failings and personal differences. Paul has used the word already twice before, in Rom 14.1,3. Paul uses it of Philemon’s acceptance of Onesimus, Phile 17. Continue reading

Here’s one proposal to the book, taken from this webpage.

Chart of chiastic structure of Paul's letter to the Romans

If this proposal is correct, it ought to focus more of our attention on chapters 9-11 and the great plan of God who, in his justice and mercy, brought the church into existence as the melding of Israel and the Gentiles. It also means that Romans says much more about ecclesiology (the church) than a cursory glance might indicate.

GraceGrace takes care of sin, breaks its power, releases from its condemnation. But some take a lax approach to sin because of grace. After all, God is going to forgive, regardless — so they think. Such an approach comes close to the attitude that Paul anticipates when he writes about grace.

What shall we say then? Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase?
Romans 6.1 NET Continue reading

When you count your blessings, where do you start? When considering your advantages, which stands out? Paul didn’t hesitate to name the Jews’ first advantage.

Therefore what advantage does the Jew have, or what is the value of circumcision? Actually, there are many advantages. First of all, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.
Romans 3.1-2 NET

Oracles refers to God’s revelations, his words, what God had said, be they commandments, prophecies, or promises./1 Continue reading

imitation of ChristOn a table in my living room sits a picture of my face (see image, right) sketched by a student, done—as it had to be, right?—in the classroom. I liked it so much that the class put it in a frame and gave it to me as a present.

The picture is a caricature.

A caricature is the representation of a person whose features are exaggerated or distorted in order to produce a comic or grotesque effect. Continue reading

Nothing more appropriate in a letter that deals with the essence of faith than to end with a doxology, an exclamation of praise, which is dense with content and full of key terms and phrases which were dealt with throughout the work:

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that had been kept secret for long ages, but now is disclosed, and through the prophetic scriptures has been made known to all the nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith — to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be glory forever! Amen.
Romans 16:25-27 NET

Paul ends with a phrase that he had written at the beginning of the letter, giving us an idea of its content: “the obedience of faith.” The placing of this phrase is called an inclusio. Continue reading

GospelIf all roads lead to Rome, then all roads leave Rome for the world. If the capital of the Roman Empire was the center of all, she should also be the center for the preaching of the gospel.

But I have written more boldly to you on some points so as to remind you, because of the grace given to me by God 16  to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. I serve the gospel of God like a priest, so that the Gentiles may become an acceptable offering, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:15-16 NET

Think beyond Rome. That’s what Paul wants the Roman Christians to do, recognizing that the gospel is for all, and that he was sent to the Gentiles to preach to them the Good News of Christ. His plan to go to Spain serves as a great opportunity for them.

Think beyond our congregation, our neighborhood, our city. The letter to the Romans ought to serve the same purpose for us.