Sep. 23. Paul Appears Before Governor Felix

Acts 24:1-27

Five days after Paul had been brought to Caesarea, he appeared before Felix as Ananias, the elders and Tertullus, an orator (lawyer) made their case against him.

Tertullus began his testimony against Paul by being highly complementary of Felix to gain immediate favor in the governor’s eyes. He then listed three things of which Paul was accused. First, he had caused dissension among all of the Jews in the world. Second, he was the ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. Third, he had tried to profane the temple.

The prosecution further stated that the commander Lysias had removed Paul by great violence from the Jews and ordered them to appear before Felix. Tertullus further suggested that if he questioned Lysias about the matter, he would get the same information.

When Paul was given permission to speak, he reasoned that in the short time that he had been in Jerusalem, he could not have caused the uproar that Tertullus had described. He did state, however “that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.”

As for profaning the temple, Paul stated that after many years he had brought alms and offerings to his nation. This was the contribution that he had collected from the Gentiles in Macedonia and Achaia. He said that the Jews from Asia who had seen him in the temple should have come to state their charges against him. Their only possibility of a case was his statement concerning the resurrection of the dead, of which the majority of the Jews believed.

Felix was convinced that Paul’s problem was with the Jews and that he was innocent of any crime against Rome. If he had been truly concerned for justice, he would have released Paul for lack of evidence. Since he was a corrupt politician and wanted to please the Jews, he continued to hold Paul until he could question the commander, Lysias. Even though he was at liberty to visit his friends, Paul was chained to a soldier to prevent his escape.

After a period of time, Felix along with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess called for Paul to explain things concerning the faith in Christ. Felix was familiar with Christianity and Drusilla was closely related to the kings who had persecuted Christians.

Paul explained the evils of the sins that Felix and Drusilla had committed and the consequences that they faced in the judgment if they did not turn from their wickedness. Even a tyrant can be touched by the gospel for Felix was terrified by Paul’s teaching, but Satan prodded Felix to say, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” As far as we know, he never again had a “convenient time.” Today is the day of salvation!

Felix, hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe for his freedom called him many times, but the bribe did not come. After two years, Nero removed him as governor and named Porcius Festus as his successor. Even then, in order to gain favor with the Jews, Felix left Paul in prison.

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Sep. 22. Jewish Plot Against Paul

Acts 23:12-35

While Paul was being held in protective custody by the Romans, a group of more than forty Jews bound themselves together by an oath that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed him. They went to the chief priests and elders and suggested that they send for Paul to be brought before them under the pretense of further questioning. Their plan was to ambush the soldiers and kill him as they were bringing him to the council.

Paul’s Roman citizenship allowed him more privileges than just a Jew would have received. His nephew had heard of the scheme and had reported it to him in the barracks. A centurion was then called to escort the young man to the commander, “for he has something to tell him.”

Upon hearing the scheme of the Jews, the commander gave orders to two centurions. They were to prepare two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to take Paul safely during the third hour of the night to Caesarea. There he would stand before Felix, the governor.

The commander, Claudius Lysias wrote the following letter to Felix: “This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them. Coming with the troops I rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman. And when I wanted to know the reason they accused him, I brought him before their council. I found out that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains. And when it was told me that the Jews lay in wait for the man, I sent him immediately to you, and also commanded his accusers to state before you the charges against him.”

Paul and the letter were presented to Felix the next day. When he had read the letter, the governor asked him where he was from. After learning that he was from Cilicia, he ordered him to be kept in Herod’s headquarters until his accusers had come.

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Sep. 21. Paul’s Defense Before Mob and Sanhedrin

Acts 22:1-23:11

Paul reviewed his Jewish heritage with the people who were assembled. He told of his background, training and zeal in persecuting the early Christians. The high priest and elders could attest to the fact that Saul (Paul) once had the authority to bind Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem to be imprisoned for their faith.

As Paul continued his defense, he related the events that happened on the road to Damascus when he had seen the bright light from heaven and the voice of Christ telling him what to do. He told how Ananias by divine authority had directed him to be baptized to wash away his sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

The people listened attentively until Paul stated that the Lord said, “Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.”

It was hard for the Jews to imagine their Messiah giving orders to preach to the Gentiles. At that point, they went into a frenzy, and cried out, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live.”

The commander ordered that Paul be bound and scourged to get him to confess to why the Jews were so against him. As the soldiers prepared to beat him, he asked the centurion if it was lawful for them to scourge a Roman, and uncondemned. Upon learning that they were about to scourge a Roman citizen, the commander ordered Paul to be released from the scourging. Since there were still no charges against Paul, the commander ordered the Sanhedrin to meet and state their case against him.

As Paul began to address the council, he stated how he had lived in all good conscience before God until that day.

Ananias, the high priest commanded that Paul be slapped across the mouth. In a rare outburst of anger, he spoke harsh words against the high priest. On other occasions of persecution, he had patiently and humbly defended himself. After being reprimanded for reviling “God’s high priest”, he apologized and continued his defense.

Jews were divided into two distinct sects—Pharisees, who believed in the resurrection of the dead, angels and spirits and Sadducees who did not believe in either. Paul identified himself as a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee and hoping to set them against one another stated that he was being judged concerning the “hope and resurrection of the dead.”

Upon hearing of Paul’s Pharisaical belief, the Pharisees stated, “We find no evil in this man; but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God.”

The conflict between the Pharisees and Sadducees became so intense that the soldiers forcibly removed Paul to the barracks for his protection. Having failed to hear definite charges, the commander of the Roman soldiers was still at a loss as to how to proceed next with him.

One can only imagine the state of mind that Paul was surely suffering at that time. He had been warned previously, and these warnings had been fulfilled—he was a prisoner. The Lord recognized his condition and stated to him that night, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”

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Sep. 20. Paul’s Stormy Return to Jerusalem

Acts 21:18-40

The day following Paul’s arrival in Jerusalem, he met with James and the elders of the church there. He reported on the things that he had accomplished with the Gentiles during his journey. Those present rejoiced at his news, but they reported to him that there was a problem among the Jews because of him.

Jewish Christians in Jerusalem had been informed that Paul had taught, “All the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.”

Paul continued to face accusations from the Jews. He did not command them to refrain from circumcision and the other Jewish customs, but taught that those things were unnecessary for salvation and should not be forced upon the Gentiles.

In order to become all things to all men as he had stated in his first letter to Corinth, Paul participated in a vow with four other men. He had hoped that this act would show his respect for the Law of Moses and pacify the Jews without violating a Christian principle.

Jews from Asia who had probably heard Paul preach had come to Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. When they saw him in the temple completing the vow, they stirred up a mob.

These Jews charged Paul with teaching, “All men everywhere against the people, the law and this place.” Since they had seen Trophimus, a Greek with him in the city, they supposed that he had defiled the temple with a Gentile. They added that charge to Paul also.

Mobs are not noted for being polite or organized. The people ran together, seized Paul, dragged him from the temple to kill him and immediately shut the doors; probably to prevent it from being defiled by his blood.

However, before the Jews could carry out their plan, the Roman garrison commander was notified that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. He took soldiers, arrested Paul, tied him up with two chains and asked who he was and what he had done. Because the commander could not understand what the mob was yelling, he commanded that Paul be taken to the barracks near the temple. This fulfilled the prophecy of Agabus.

As the soldiers reached the stairway leading into the barracks, Paul asked the commander for permission to speak to the mob. After he had explained his identity to the commander, he was allowed to address the Jewish multitude. When the people realized that Paul wanted to speak and had addressed them in Hebrew, their native language, there was a great silence.

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Sep. 19. Third Missionary Journey Concluded

Acts 20:2-21:17

With the contribution to the Jerusalem church in hand, Paul left Corinth. He had planned to go directly from Corinth to Syria, but because of a plot by the Jews, they traveled through Berea, Thessalonica and Philippi in Macedonia and on to Troas. Paul had sent Timothy and several other men ahead to meet him at Troas. Luke had rejoined Paul’s company at Philippi.

Since the Jews would be observing the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread, Paul probably remained in Philippi long enough to preach to as many Jews as possible before leaving for Troas.

Paul stayed a week in Troas and met with the church to worship on the first day of the week. The purpose of the church’s meeting was to break bread (observe the Lord’s Supper)—not to hear Paul or someone else preach. However, since the church was assembled, it was proper and convenient to hear God’s word proclaimed.

The church did, indeed hear the word preached! Paul continued speaking until midnight and Eutychus who went to sleep fell out of a third-story window and died from the fall. This gave Paul an opportunity to show the power of God. He fell on the dead young man, embraced him and said that his life was in him. After raising Eutychus from the dead, Paul had many instructions for the church and continued to talk until daybreak.

Paul departed from Troas and walked a few miles to Assos where he met his co-workers whom he had sent on a ship. They sailed from there to Mitylene, passed near the island Chios and arrived at Samos, another island between Ephesus and Miletus. From Samos the ship sailed on to Miletus.

The Feast of Pentecost was only a few days away and Paul wanted to be in Jerusalem at that time. It was not his purpose to observe the Jewish Pentecost in a religious service, but to present evidence of the unity of Gentile and Jewish Christians to the multitude of Jews who would be there. He had the contribution of aid for Jewish Christians that had been sent by Gentile Christians.

Upon arriving at Miletus, Paul sent for the elders of the Ephesian church, which was only a few miles away. In his farewell message to these men, he reviewed the three years that he had been with them. He reminded them of their responsibilities of keeping themselves pure and caring for and feeding (teaching) the members.

Paul concluded their meeting with a warning to watch for false teachers, and that some of them would even teach false doctrine. After kneeling in prayer, weeping and kissing Paul, the elders went with him to the ship to continue his voyage to Jerusalem.

Luke states that Paul and his companions sailed from Miletus to Cos, Rhodes and Patara. They changed ships (probably to a larger open-sea type vessel) at Patara and sailed toward Phoenicia passing by Cyprus and docked about three hundred fifty miles later in Tyre. While in Tyre, they visited with some of the disciples there for seven days while their ship was being unloaded.

As Paul and his group prepared to leave Tyre, the families that they had visited went with them to the shore. After a prayer, they boarded the ship and the disciples returned home. Notice that the people traveling with Paul and those whom they met were just like we are today with the same feelings, emotions and fears that we experience.

The next stop for Paul and his company was at Ptolemais. They stayed with the brethren there for one day and departed for Caesarea. Upon their arrival in Caesarea, they came to the home of Philip the evangelist and stayed many days. He was not one of the twelve apostles, but was probably one of the seven deacons who was chosen to help care for the Grecian widows more than twenty years earlier.

Paul was in great danger. The Holy Spirit had warned him; his plans to go directly from Corinth to Syria and Jerusalem had to be changed; and the disciples in Tyre had urged him not to go to Jerusalem. At Caesarea, the prophet Agabus came from Judea and took Paul’s belt and bound his own hands and feet. He said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’”

Upon hearing the warning from Agabus, Paul’s traveling companions pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. As a man of strong courage and convictions, he refused to turn back. He replied, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Are we that strong? Are we ready to die for Christ? Paul’s purpose in life was to serve. If it cost him his life, his attitude was, “SO WHAT?”

When Paul’s companions saw that he was determined to continue to Jerusalem, they said, “The will of the Lord be done.” That should be the attitude of every Christian.

Paul completed his third missionary journey when he arrived at Jerusalem. He did not complete a circle and end at Antioch as he had done on the first two journeys.

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Sep. 18. Concluding Remarks to Roman Christians

Rom. 15:14-16:27

As Paul concluded the main emphasis of his letter it was his prayer that the Romans would be filled with joy and hope from God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul expressed confidence in the Romans that they had the strength to encourage and admonish one another. They had received the signs and wonders earlier that were necessary to establish their faith. Like people everywhere, they needed to be reminded of the basic principles of obedience and Christian living.

As he began to conclude his letter, Paul pointed out his policy of not preaching or building on foundations where others had established churches. In the case of the Roman church, he felt a strong desire to impart some spiritual gifts on them also. He reminded them again that as an apostle to the Gentiles, he most definitely wanted to visit them.

Since Paul had completed most of the work in the areas where he had established churches, he was prepared to go by Rome as he traveled to Spain. Spain was the next mission field that he had determined to work. He planned to make that trip after delivering the contribution from Asia, Macedonia and Achaia to the church in Jerusalem.

Paul expected confrontations with the Jews in Jerusalem and asked the Romans to pray for him as he made his journey from Corinth to Jerusalem and ultimately to Rome and Spain.

As was his custom, Paul closed his letter by greeting various special individuals in the Roman church. He also sent greetings from other Christians who were with him at the time.

Phoebe received specific mention because she was the courier of this letter. She also would probably need assistance with her business matters while in Rome.

Priscilla and Aquila had been very prominent in Paul’s work. They had assisted him on his first visit to Corinth; had accompanied him to Ephesus; risked their own lives for him and had taught Apollos more completely regarding the baptism of Christ. At the time of Paul’s Roman letter, they had returned to Rome and had a congregation of the church meeting in their house.

Many of the people that Paul greeted had been converted by him. Some had been converted before he had become a Christian. Probably some of these Christians had been converted on Pentecost. Whatever their background, they had all been involved in Paul’s previous works.

It was the custom to greet one another with a kiss. It still is in some cultures today. Paul admonished the Romans to use a holy kiss—a warm affection for brothers and sisters in Christ. In our society, one would greet another with a holy handshake—a warm affectionate greeting.

Paul had used a large portion of the body of his letter to point out the errors and dangers of keeping portions of the Law of Moses in their worship. As he is closing the letter, he gave the Romans another reminder and warning against following the Judaizing teachers. Those people were to be identified and avoided.

In addition to the greetings of Paul to various Christians in Rome, several of the people with him in Corinth sent greetings to the church. Timothy was the most notable of those mentioned. Tertius, the penman who wrote the letter for Paul also sent his personal greetings.

Paul ended his letter with an invocation, “To God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.”

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Sep. 17. Relationship Between Strong and Weak Christians

Rom. 14:1-15:13

There were some weak Jewish Christians in the Roman church who needed special care and encouragement. They still observed some of the outdated laws and traditions of the Old Testament.

The Law of Moses forbade eating certain kinds of meats, but Paul stated that under the new law all meat is fit for human consumption. God has not given a law forbidding certain meats. It just doesn’t matter. Therefore, a person eating meat should not condemn one who does not eat meat. A person who does not eat meat also should not condemn another who does eat meat. If God is silent on a matter, man also should be silent on the same matter.

There were persons who felt the need to keep the Sabbath day, new moon or other special festival days as days of worship. God has directed that the first day of the week be utilized for worship, but if someone wanted to worship on the Sabbath or another day also, it was permissible as long as he did not bind it upon other Christians. Other Christians should not condemn him for worshipping on other days as long as the first day or Lord’s Day was not forsaken.

Paul urged the Romans to remember that Christians do not live to themselves, but to the Lord. Christians must leave the judgment of those matters up to the Lord who is the Judge. One should remember that he is not the judge, but will himself stand before the judgment seat of Christ. There are some judgments necessary for Christians to make. They must recognize false prophets and their false teachings and in areas of specific commandments, erring brothers are to be admonished.

One of the most sobering thoughts in the Bible was stated by Paul regarding the judgment. “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” This is personal. One person will not be judged for another. Instead of being so intent on condemning his brothers for their weaknesses, one needs to keep his own soul prepared for the ultimate judgment.

The Law of Moses specified certain meats to be clean or unclean. Paul pointed out that under Christ, no food is unclean. However, if a brother felt for some reason that a kind of food was unclean, it then became unclean to that individual. Because of Christian love, one must refrain from actions, which within themselves are acceptable to God, but would cause a brother to violate his conscience. A selfish attitude is contrary to the love of Christ.

It is a little thing for a person to forgo certain desires or pleasures. Those things are not the goal of Christian living. Paul stated that peace and edification of one another are the things that are acceptable to God.

A person’s conscience is that wee small inner voice that warns him of evil. Paul urged the Romans to avoid doing anything that would cause another to violate his conscience.

The weak brother should be taught the differences between the old and new laws in a spirit of love. The teacher must not force his personal opinions upon others, but he should guide his hearers to the truth.

If one’s faith leads his conscience to believe a certain action is sinful, he indeed sins when he indulges in that action. Paul stated, “But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith, for whatever is not from faith is sin.”

As Paul continued his thoughts regarding relationships with weaker Christians, he admonished the stronger Christians to respect their weaknesses. Strong Christians must use Christ as an example of forgoing pleasures of this life in order to please others.

The Romans were told how the examples of God’s relationships with His people during the Old Testament eras were to encourage and admonish Christians during the New Testament dispensation.

Since Jesus had died for all, Jews and Gentiles alike, Paul admonished the Romans to work together and receive one another as equals. They were to be like-minded as they glorified God.

Paul quoted several Old Testament prophecies regarding the future relationships between Jews and Gentiles. Those prophecies showed them that it was God’s plan from the beginning to include the Gentiles in His promises.

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Sep. 16. Various Christian Responsibilities Explained

Rom. 12:1-13:14

Paul utilized a great portion of his letter to the Roman Christians explaining how one is saved through faith in Christ instead of works of the Law of Moses. He also reminded them that the gospel had been presented to the Jews first, but after their rejection, it had been extended to the Gentiles. The latter part of his letter dealt with acceptable Christian living.

The Jews had for many generations, under the Law of Moses offered dead animal sacrifices to God. Christ had offered Himself as a sacrifice for all mankind. Paul admonished the Romans to present a different type of sacrifice—their bodies as a LIVING sacrifice.

As previous sacrifices involved a death, a living sacrifice entails a death also. One dies to sin, rejecting the sins and so-called pleasures of the world and grasping a spiritual life of service for Christ.

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church a few months earlier, he had pointed out the different abilities of Christians. He made these same observations to the Romans. As the human body has different organs with different functions, the church also is made up of different members with differing abilities and functions. Christians are to perform these functions vigorously but with humility. All members are essential.

The family is the closest human relationship on earth. Paul explained how that brothers and sisters in the church are to have that same kind of loving kindred relationship with one another. They were living in a world of sin, hate and persecution. It was and is imperative that Christians have a deep love and affection for one another in order to defend themselves from the world. When one member of the physical family is in pain or rejoices, all members are affected the same way. The same care and concern should be present within the spiritual family. That also includes sharing their blessings with the needy Christians.

Paul commanded the Romans to abhor (hate) what is evil. Jesus said that one is to love his enemies. Christians are to hate the sin, but to love the sinner. People of the world today still have a problem with Christians speaking out against sin. They think that when a Christian condemns a sin, that he is actually judging and hating the person that is involved with the wickedness. Christians should avoid leaving that kind of impression when rebuking sin.

The apostle Paul, stated, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” If you cannot be at peace with your neighbor, be sure that it is his fault.

Human nature leads one to seek revenge for evil that is done against him. Paul admonished the Romans to leave vengeance to God who will repay the evildoers. Instead of seeking revenge, Christians are to do good to their enemies. Being kind and helpful to one’s enemies can make them ashamed and even lead them to Christ. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

As Paul continued his admonitions regarding Christian living, he turned to the relationship that Christians are to have with civil governments. During the earliest history of the world, one finds that God had placed authorities to oversee the civil affairs of man. It is the responsibility of government to punish the evildoers under their authority.

According to Paul, it is man’s responsibility to obey the laws that are enacted by the government. This command is as binding on Christians as any other that the Holy Spirit guided the apostles to write. One who breaks the laws of government breaks the commands of God. Think about this when you are exceeding the speed limit on the local highway.

However, when the laws of the land are in direct conflict with the laws of God, Christians “must obey God rather than men.”

Paul said, “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”

Christians are expected to show their love for God and their fellowman by completing their obligations regarding spiritual, governmental and social debts. They will do good and not evil to others. Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself.

Paul urged the Romans to become alert to the occasions that they had to serve others. One does not know how much time he has before Christ will return or that death will end all opportunities for service. He encouraged them to turn from the sinful fleshly works of darkness and to clothe themselves with the spiritual works of light.

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Sep. 15. Jews Can Still be Saved if They Return to God

Rom. 11:1-36

After pointing out the rejection of the Jews, Paul asked, “Has God cast away His people?” He answered his own question by stating that there was still a remnant of Jews who were still obedient to Christ and that he also being a Jew was included in that remnant.

Paul reminded the Romans of the story of the prophet Elijah, who felt alone because he had thought that all of Israel had forsaken God and were seeking to kill him also. Even in the darkest hours of the relationship to God’s people with Him, there was still a remnant who had remained faithful.

The grace of God as opposed to works relating to man’s salvation was mentioned again by Paul. Even though works do not save a person, there are certain conditions of obedience that must be met in order to receive God’s grace. Consider a blind man that Jesus healed. He had to wash the mud from his eyes.

Paul used a parable of an olive tree to explain how that through disobedience the Jews had been broken off from the main tree (Christ). The Gentiles through obedience had been grafted into the tree and accepted. That same principle of disobedience breaking one off the tree and obedience grafting one onto the tree is true with individuals today.

“Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God:” Paul warned the Romans that even though God is a God of love and is merciful to those who obey, He is also severe on those who fail in their obedience. If He had cut off the natural branches, the Jews because of disobedience, He would also cut off the grafted branches, the Gentiles if they disobeyed. He also stated that if the Jews would turn again to God, He would graft them back into the olive tree.

It was concluded again that all Jews and Gentiles could be saved if they would accept and obey the Deliverer who was sent to take away their sins.

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Sep. 14. Salvation Is Open to all who Will Believe

Rom. 10:1-21

It is natural that one should desire that his household would be saved. Paul had that same desire for his Jewish family. In their ignorance of His purpose, they had rejected Christ and were zealous toward their own traditions in the Law of Moses. He desired that they would redirect their zeal toward the proper knowledge that justification and salvation were through Christ and that the Law of Moses had ended.

We see many religious people today who are greatly zealous, but because of a lack of knowledge, they are promoting religious error. Those who have the truth of God should be as zealous as those who are teaching man-made error.

Paul stated that the person who wanted to live by the Law of Moses was obligated to do the whole law completely, which they were unable to do.

Those who would desire to see Christ come back from heaven or return again from the grave would not benefit because He had been rejected when those events did occur. To bring Christ back from the dead again would be useless because they still would not accept Him.

Paul said that the way to salvation was to believe with all one’s heart that God had raised Jesus from the dead and to confess that faith with the mouth. He reminded the Romans that salvation was available to both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles). Saving faith is one of obedience and action.

Man must hear the truth of the gospel before he can believe it. The first teachers were selected by God and given the message to teach. Today, man still must hear the word of God, but he hears through reading and being taught the word as written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit. Many, however refusing to obey give up their heavenly home.

Again, Paul quoted Old Testament prophecies that foretold the rejection of Christ by the Jews and the acceptance of Him by the Gentiles. Those prophecies were being fulfilled during that period in man’s history.

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Sep. 13. Paul Explains why God Rejected Jews

Rom. 9:1-33

The apostle Paul showed in the first part of his letter to the Romans that righteousness and salvation are obtained only through faith in Jesus Christ. He had shown how the Jews had rejected this salvation and how it had been offered to the Gentiles.

As he began this second part of this letter, Paul explained that it was not he, but God who had condemned the Jews. He stated that he could even wish that he himself would be rejected from salvation if it would mean the saving of his Jewish countrymen.

Paul recounted how God had chosen His people, the fleshly Israel. After the age of natural childbearing of Abraham and his wife, Sarah, Abraham had been chosen as the father of all—fleshly Israel and spiritual Israel. Not all of Abraham’s sons had been chosen. Ishmael was rejected but Isaac became the chosen son.

Even before Isaac’s twin sons, Esau and Jacob were born, it was prophesied that the descendants of the older would serve the descendants of the younger. Jacob, being the younger became the father of twelve sons who were the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Paul stated that some might question the righteousness of God. He had told Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” God used those who were best fitted for His service and were obedient to Him as He formulated His plan of redemption for man. He willed to show mercy to those who obeyed and He willed to harden those who disobeyed.

In explaining how people digress from the purpose for which God has made them, Paul referred to the potter and the clay in the book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament.

God had chosen the Jews to be His people, but because they had rejected Christ, He, the Potter had reshaped them into a vessel of dishonor. The Gentiles had been disobedient, but after becoming obedient, they had been reshaped into a vessel of honor. God will make the best thing possible out of each piece of clay. His will is that all of mankind would be saved.

Paul quoted from prophecies of Hosea and Isaiah to show that the Gentiles would eventually receive the gospel, but only a few of the Jews would be obedient. The Gentiles were accepted because of their faith. Refusing to turn from works of the Law of Moses caused the Jews to stumble at the teaching of the gospel—the stumbling stone of Zion.

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Sep. 12. Blessings in Christ Far Outweigh Earthly Sufferings

Rom. 8:18-39

As Paul continued his letter to the Roman Christians, he further explained the blessings of living the Christian life. Even though they suffered extremely, this was insignificant. He stated that the glory of eternal life far exceeds the price paid by their temporary persecutions.

Man in his mortal state is unable to express all of his needs and desires to God in words. In addition to guiding Christians through the inspired Word of God, the Holy Spirit also takes these thoughts and intercedes to God for the saints according to the will of God.

All who hear the gospel are called by God to be obedient to it. According to Paul, it was predestined or foreknown that only those who were obedient would be justified and glorified.

Paul also stated, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Those “called according to His purpose” obviously are those who are obedient. It is difficult for man to understand how God can turn “all things” (pain, affliction, poverty, imprisonment, hunger, death or any other unpleasant thing) to any good result. God’s ways are not man’s ways; neither are His thoughts man’s thoughts.

Paul reasoned with the Romans that since God had given His Son for them, He would protect them and give them all the things necessary for their salvation. Even human wisdom can understand that after God and Christ have sacrificed so much for the salvation of man, eternal harm will not come to the one who continues in his obedience. A person walking with God is a majority against those who would do harm to him in this life or in the life to follow. Man may take the physical life of a Christian, but nothing but his own failure to faithfully continue serving God can harm his spiritual life.

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Sep. 11. War Between Flesh and Spirit

Rom. 7:13-8:17

Paul then turned his attention to the war (flesh vs. Spirit) that was raging within himself and that continues to attack Christians. Laws are good but Satan influences man to think that they are bad and puts into his mind the desire to break them. Sin then is the transgression of those laws.

The conflict within Paul caused him to do the things that he knew were sinful and to leave undone those things that were needful. The spiritual mind of him wanted to do the right but the fleshly man fought to do the evil. The law of sin seemed to be winning the war.

Paul asked the question, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” His own answer was, “Through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

The apostle pointed out that since deliverance from the war between his flesh and the Spirit is through Christ, there is then no reason for a person who walks according to the Spirit to be condemned. There was no salvation through the Law of Moses, but God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to live a sinless life in the flesh that He might condemn sin. The law of the Spirit (Given by the Holy Spirit to the apostles) is able to free man from the sins that would lead him to a spiritual death.

When a person turns from the flesh and submits himself in obedience to the gospel, the Holy Spirit dwells within him. He will remain as long as one allows Him to guide him.

One who allows the Spirit to lead him has rejected living for the flesh, which leads to death. Instead, he lives by the Spirit, which leads to eternal life. Christians then are adopted sons in the family of God and joint-heirs of God with Christ.

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Sep. 10. Relationship of Christians to Law of Moses

Rom. 7:1-12

After comparing the Christian life to slavery, Paul used another relationship to illustrate the change from the Law of Moses to grace. He reminded the Romans that in marriage, a husband and wife are bound to remain together until one of them dies. After that death, the survivor is legally dead to that relationship and is free to remarry.

God’s people were married to the Law of Moses until the death of Christ on the cross. At that time, the law was taken away (died). Man then became dead to the law and was free to remarry spiritually. One becomes married to Christ when he obeys the gospel, becoming a Christian.

Some may have asked if the law was sin since Paul had so vigorously taught that it had been superseded but the law had a purpose as he had stated before. It made man aware of sin by identifying it and by serving the Jews until the law of Christ would come into effect.

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Sep. 9. One Must Die to Sin to Avoid Dying in Sin

Rom. 6:1-23

In view of the fact that grace is more abundant to those who have the greater sin, some had reasoned that if they kept on sinning, they would receive a greater measure of grace. Paul pointed out that was contrary to the concept of obedience and forgiveness.

As one repents of his sins when becoming a Christian, his old sinful man dies to sin. This dead man of sin is symbolically buried in baptism just as Christ was buried. He then symbolically rises to walk a new spiritual life just as Christ rose to walk a new spiritual life. Even though a Christian may occasionally stumble and sin, if he has died to sin, he has stopped willingly living in sin or for sin.

Notice again that baptism is a burial—not sprinkling or pouring a little water on someone; just as a dead body is covered—not merely having been sprinkled with a little soil.

When a person becomes a Christian, he still has the same fleshly appetites and urges that he had before obeying the gospel. Paul urged the Romans to abstain from the lusts of their bodies. They were to use their bodies for righteousness to God instead of unrighteousness to sin.

The Law of Moses did not free man from sin. Grace however provides a way through obedience of the gospel to escape from sin and its rule.

Paul likened one’s obedience to crucifixion with Christ on the cross. Just as Christ was freed from the pain and suffering of this world, man is freed from his slavery to sin. He then becomes a slave to God.

The Romans knew well the relationship of slaves to masters and how that relationship changed when a slave was sold to another master. When a person becomes a Christian it is like he has been sold from slavery to sin to a new master—God. Paul was thankful that the Romans having been slaves to sin were then slaves to God. He reminded them of their responsibility to obey their new Master.

There is a vast difference in the wages from serving as a slave to sin and serving the Master, God. “For the wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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