By the end of the eighth chapter, Paul had completed his main task, of explaining the gospel of righteousness by faith.
It remains, then, to remind his readers in Rome what follows on from righteousness by faith.
He appeals to them (ch12 v1) “by the mercies of God”.
That is, God’s mercy in grace, which he’s already described, is the reason why they should seek to conduct themselves according to God’s
The mercy of God was made possible by the self-offering of Christ, the only kind of sacrifice that God ever wanted.
In response to this, those who belong to Christ should be presenting themselves to God as a “living sacrifice”.
They need to renew their minds, to transform their mindset away from conforming to the world and towards conforming to God’s will (vv2-3).
This can be expressed in many practical ways.
Paul begins with the way the individual believer fits into the community of believer s(vv4-8)
The starting-point must be humility, to protect him from the self-exalting pride of exalting himself above the others
Paul regards the community as a single corporate body.
On the analogy of a human body, it needs to be recognized that different parts of the body have different functions.
We all have different gifts from God, which we will apply in proportion to our faith.
Life in the church should bring out our love towards the brethren (vv9-10).
And also our zeal towards the Lord (vv11-12).
It’s well to pay attention to the different verbs being used here;
Rejoicing (in hope); being patient (in tribulation); being constant (in prayer).
Love to the brethren and zeal to the Lord are combined in the practice of contributing to the needs of the saints.
Appeals to live peaceably with others alternate with appeals to be patient with those who are not living peaceably with us. Bless those who persecute
you, do not take vengeance (vv14-21).
This theme of submission to others leads into a discussion of submission to authority, but perhaps, nowadays, that needs to be given separate
At the end of that discussion, Paul urges them to pay respect and revenues wherever they are due.
Picking up that point, he tells them they should have no debts to anyone, except the continuing obligation to love one another.
Love, in itself, is the fulfilment of the “law” in the real sense of that word (ch13 vv8-10).
They need to make themselves ready to meet their God. For the time when they will meet him is necessarily closer than it was when they first
He draws on metaphors which he has used before. It is a time for waking, not for sleeping. A time to live in the light, and not in the works of
darkness. It is a time for soberness, not for drunken debauchery and other kinds of uncontrolled behavior.
They need to make no provision for the illegitimate demands of “the flesh”. But experience shows that they cannot resist the demands of the flesh
in their own strength, so they need the strength of Christ.
That is why they must [continue to] “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ, like a garment, allowing him to take over the running of their lives (v14).
[I postpone to another occasion the long discussion of how to deal with fellow-believers who are “weak” in their faith.]
Finally, Paul excuses himself to the Roman church for giving them all this advice (though he is not, strictly speaking, their own apostle and pastor).
He is confident that they are really full of goodness and knowledge, and well able to instruct one another even without his help.
However, he has ventured to remind
them, because that task, in a general way, is part of the grace and therefore part of the duty which has
been given to him by God as a general minister of Christ towards the Gentiles. So he has come back to the address which opened this letter.
He is entitled to be proud (because it is God’s work, not his own) of the ministry he has been able to fulfil all the way round the Levant from
Jerusalem to the coasts which we would now call Dalmatia. Evidently the account in Acts is only a selection of his journeys. The needs of this work
have prevented him from getting around to visiting Rome, but he hopes to repair that omission once he has carried out the task of taking the money
collection to Jerusalem. He asks for their prayers, that the saints in Jerusalem will find that service acceptable, and that he will be kept safe from
the unbelievers there.
Of course all readers of Acts know how that worked out. And how God fulfilled Paul’s intention of visiting Rome by means of the very circumstances
which might have been an obstacle.
After the list of greetings, the last paragraph of this letter returns to the topic of the first, marveling in the mystery of God’s plan for
In the opening verses, Paul emphasized how the gospel had been promised beforehand in the prophecies of scripture.
He now shows the other side of the coin. The exact nature of the mystery had been kept as an unguessed secret, until the secret had been exposed by
events and by “prophetic writings”, which may now include the Christian prophets.
Either way, the object is the same; “To bring about the obedience of faith” (ch1 v5, ch16 v26).
All glory, then, to the all-wise God for evermore, through Jesus Christ.
edit on 22-11-2019 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)