Keith Hunt - Bible Story, NT - Chapter Seventy-five: Paul writes Romans - Part seven   Restitution of All Things
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New Testament Bible
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Chapter Seventy-five:

Paul writes Romans - Part seven

                        NEW TESTAMENT

                         BIBLE STORY

                          ACTS #29

               Paul writes Romans - Part seven


CHAPTER FOURTEEN

     This chapter has special significance towards the "strong"
and the "weak" in the faith. It is quite natural that the Church
of God would always be made up of those strong and weak in the
word and faith of God. Obviously those who have been a long time
in the Lord's word and as Christians, should be grounded deeper
in the ways of God, and those "new" to Christ and the heavenly
Father would be weaker in understanding the deep things of the
Lord.
     The Christians at Rome were indeed comprised of these two
groups. Some, who were according to Paul "weak" in the faith,
believed that God's perfect diet of physical eating should be
that of a vegetarian. Others, who were stronger in the word and
understanding of the Lord, knew that eating meat was fine and
within the food laws of God.
     The problem was that each group did not merely "judge" each
other but were CONDEMNING each other, both groups claiming the
other was sinning by what they practiced on the physical side of
eating food, and in this specific case, the eating of flesh
meat or not eating it.
     The context has nothing to do with "clean and unclean" food
laws that God gave to Israel in the Old Covenant. That question
is not raised at all by Paul here. If it was to do with the
question of eating clean or unclean foods, then it cannot be
possible that Paul would have NOT clearly addressed the issue
with plain words. And the word used in verse 14 is NOT "unclean"
(as to do with clean and unclean food laws under the Old
Covenant) but is as the margin of many KJV Bibles gives you,
"common" or "ceremonially unclean." And of course in the mind of
some, ANY flesh meat, even from clean animals (as given under the
Old Covenant in Lev.11 and Deut.14) is unclean to eat, in that
they believe God's original food laws in the first chapters of
Genesis, taught the holiest way of eating was by being a
vegetarian. 
     Paul is addressing here this concept of theology as opposed
to the theology that God allows flesh meat to be eaten if
desired. It is also very obvious if admitting to yourself, which
idea was the "weak" and which one was the "strong" theology. No
matter what a person understands from other Scriptures on this
subject, Paul makes it very clear, under inspiration of the Holy
Spirit, that to hold the theology that being a no meat eater is
the correct way to live, is the "weak" theology of the faith, and
that knowing God's does allow a person to eat flesh meat, is the
"strong" theology of the faith. But condemning others as if
sinning or as if not as close with God, is also NOT the way to
be thinking or acting.
     
     We need to realize that there are SOME issues regarding HOW
we live as Christians, that have NO right or wrong side to them.
Both sides of the issue are very acceptable to God. Yes, there
may be a more correct stance in a technically correct theological
position, but with God the bottom line is that people on  BOTH
sides of the matter, are acceptable before Him. It is with the
Father not an issue of salvation importance. 

     The same goes for FASTING, not eating at all on this or that
day. The Pharisee Jews had TWO days of the week they would often
fast upon. Some were noted as always following this man-made law
and traditions of their religion, and the followers of this
practice would often hold it up as a kind of "super
righteousness" of the way of God. In reality, the word of God had
no such law, nor ever came even close to such a law like
this, that the Pharisees had invented and established. Yet, some
in Rome were obviously thinking that "their" day to fast upon was
greater than some other day that others fasted upon. They were
condemning each other in such a way as to make each other feel
LESS "righteous" or further away from God's pathway of living.

     Paul, noting these two topics of "flesh eating and not flesh
eating" and "fasting on certain days" was making an OVERALL very
important point.  Not everyone, on SOME ways of living HAVE to be
EXACTLY doing the same thing. 
     We do not all have to be wearing exactly the same kind of
suit or dress, or color of suit or dress, at Church services.
Milk in its natural form, without man-made pollutants in it, is a
very healthy and nutritional drink, but we have freedom in God's
sight to either drink it or not drink it. Grapes may be good for
you to eat, but I do not HAVE to eat them. God accepts the grape
eater and the no grape eater. And so it goes with many other
things. There is freedom in God's sight to do or not do many
things, neither the doing or not doing, is sin. But as human
nature goes, some people do want to make sin issues out of that
which is not sin.

     Condemning one another over such "no salvation" matters,
Paul makes plain, should never be done. He tells us that Christ
died  for those on both sides of the matter. And God will judge
us according to how we have judged and even condemned others,
on matter the points that are quite within His law, and upon
which He gives us no absolute right or wrong way to live (verses
1-12).

     But in all of this, there is one VERY important point that
Paul wants everyone to understand. A Christian who technically
KNOWS the "stronger" basic truth of God's word on a particular
matter, such as on the subject of eating meat or not eating meat,
that stronger in the faith Christian, is NOT to offend the yet
"weaker in the faith" brother or sister. Those stronger are to
make sure they follow the way that makes "peace."
     Sometimes flouting your superior knowledge of God's word,
sticking it in the face of someone who does not have that
knowledge, or trying to cram it down their throat at we
say, is NOT the correct way to live with your Christian brother. 
Sometimes in giving out that which is perhaps technically "good"
or "stronger in the faith" we end up having our "good" evil
spoken about. It does not bring about the desired results we may
have thought would have materialized from "giving forth our
good." 

     We see from this whole context of Paul in this chapter, that
the subject is all to do with "meat and drink" - physical things,
where God accepts both sides of practicing certain physical
things such as eating meat or not eating meat, fasting on certain
days different from other days that others fast one, and drinking
wine or alcohol or not drinking alcohol.
     The important point is as Paul stated in verses 21, "It is
good neither to eat flesh, not to drink wine, nor any thing
whereby your brother stumbles, or is offended, or is made weak."

     We are to live in the physical aspects of our lives, trying
to make sure we do NOT offend our Christian brothers and sisters.

     Paul does end by stating that yes the person can be happy
who does understand, who is strong in the faith, and who knows
what God allows him or her to practice in the physical part of
their lives. Yet, for those who still have doubts, who do not
have that strong faith, it can be damaging, if they try to comply
with certain physical practices, because they are not doing it
from faith, hence to them it is still sin and wrong to do
(verses 13-23).

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

     The bottom line with Paul was that the strong are to bear
the lack of these still weak in certain aspects of the faith. And
the strong just CANNOT please themselves all the time. We are to
also please our brothers and sisters so their edification can
continue towards more perfect understanding. For even Christ did
not please Himself, but took our sins upon Him. Looking at it
from a selfish view, Christ could have said, "No, I do not want
to do all this, so others can have eternal life. I'm okay where I
am, living in perfect eternal life with God."

     We are to so receive each other, just as Jesus received us
to the glory of God, so that God's glory could be expanded and be
even more glorious (verses 1-7).

     Jesus came to CONFIRM the promises God had made, and one
LARGE promise was that the Gentiles, or non-Israelite, could have
salvation. He quotes a number of Old Testament passages to prove
that that was the plan of God all along.
     He desires that God fill them with all JOY and PEACE, that
they may ABOUND in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit
(verses 8-13).

     Paul in verses 14-21 states his main purpose in writing to
them at Rome. He knows they are basically full of goodness,
filled with knowledge, and so can admonish each other in the
right way. He tells them he was sent especially to declare the
Gospel to the Gentiles, as was also foretold by God that He would
send people to so do. He says he will not dwell upon the mighty
signs and miracles that God did though him wherever he went
preaching the Gospel. But he will says that he tried to go to
places where the Gospel had not been preached, so he would not be
thought of as trying to build on what others had already done. He
tried to do what God had foretold in old times by the prophets,
that those to whom God had not been revealed, to them truth and
light would be given, and they would come to understand
salvation.

     In verses 22-33 he tells them about his great desire to come
to them. He needs to go up to Jerusalem to serve the saints in
making sure the physical help of material goods from the brothers
in Macedonia, got there in safety. But after that was done, he
planned on going to Spain, and so along the way, he would come to
visit them in Rome. He asked for their prayers, that he would be
delivered from those in Judea that did NOT believe, and that he
would then with joy arrive among them, to be uplifted spiritually
and physically, in his journey to Spain.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

     Verses 1-16 is commendation of certain individuals to those
at Rome. I will make mention of Phebe and Priscilla in verses 1
and 3. Paul is often thought to be "against women"  - well at
least in a "church role" position. Nothing could be further from
the truth. And here Paul makes it abundantly manifest that he had
a very deep appreciation, nay, more than just appreciation. He
honored such ladies as Phebe and Priscilla. He tells the
Roman Christians to accept Phebe in such a way as to "assist her
in whatsoever business she has need of you." Now, I would say
that is FULL and unlimited CONFIDENCE and TRUST in this lady, as
much as he could have given to men like Timothy, whom he loved so
much in the work of the Lord.
     And Priscilla.....he calls her a "helper" in Christ Jesus,
but that hardly gives the meaning of the Greek here. It is more
like, "fellow-worker, co-worker."  Both her and her husband
Aquila, had laid down their lives for Paul, and it was not just
himself that thought so highly of them, but ALL the churches of
the Gentiles.
     The context of "church services" as in 1 Corinthians 14, is
one thing with Paul, but OUTSIDE of that context, there was no
limits, and he was just as thankful and grateful to women in the
work of the Lord as he was to the men who served faithfully in
the teaching of the Gospel.

     Verses 17-18. The context not at all as the context of 1
Corinthians 5, where in that context Paul makes it very clear the
individual practicing sin should be put out, or disfellowshipped
from the local church. Here it is to "note" such persons as cause
division and offenses contrary to the teaching they had learned
as truth, and to "avoid them" - stay out of their way. Such
persons were by their words and clever speeches able to
deceive the minds of the new spiritually weaker members of the
congregation. But it would seem that as yet Paul did not think
they had completely stepped over the line, so far as to have the
church put them out of fellowship with the members of the
congregation, as the man in Corinth had done (I refer you back to
the chapters I covered when going through the books of
Corinthians on the matter of that gross sin and the actions that
Paul said needed to be taken by the church).

     Paul's final words to them are in verses 21-27. He had this
epistle physically written by a man named Tertius (verse 22), who
sent them his greetings. Paul obviously dictated the words for
him to write down.

     The Gospel was a wonderful mystery of God that was now being
fully revealed to the world, as foretold in the Scriptures of the
prophets.  And "To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ
for ever. Amen."

                .............................

June 2004 

TO BE CONTINUED


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