Romans 16

Bridget Jack Jeffries (“Ms. Jack”) is a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church. She blogs at ClobberBlog.

Romans 16 has often been overlooked and underappreciated when compared to the rest of Romans. It’s far lower in theological content and subsequently tends to warrant less space in commentaries and fewer mentions in sermons so that many end their reading of Romans without taking a careful look at this chapter. I find this unfortunate, because I consider Romans 16 to be the “cool-down” at the end of a high-energy theological cardio work-out. And as anyone who works out can testify, while it may be tempting to turn off your television and step away from your exercise video once the trainer initiates the cool-down phase, you’ll only be cheating your body if you do. Likewise, Romans 16 does have important lessons to teach us, even if they’re of a much different tone and nature than the heavy theological treatises of the preceding 15 chapters, and we cheat ourselves out of a portion of God’s “revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past” (v. 25) when we skip over this chapter and call it a day.

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Romans 15

Alex T. Valencic is a life-long Mormon, born and raised in central Illinois. He served a full-time mission in southern California (ostly in Victorville), and spent a semester studying abroad in Melbourne, Australia. He is currently the Webelos Den Leader in his ward and works as a substitute teacher in his community. He also unabashedly uses non-American English spellings.


Romans 15 continues on from the advice started in chapter 12, giving practical advice to how the Saints can “present [their] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is [their] reasonable service.” Having discussed a variety of aspects of practical Christian behaviour in the previous chapter, Paul starts off by admonishing the Romans to “bear the infirmities of the weak” and to “every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.” Paul then gives counsel that we be “likeminded one toward another” that we “may with one mind and one mouth glorify God”.

Paul acknowledges that the people to whom he was writing were “full of goodness” and “filled with all knowledge” but he had written boldly to them on several subjects because it was his duty. He then talks about his own mission among the Gentiles and admits that he was worried about building on the foundation others had started—he felt his mission was to go to those who had not yet heard of Jesus.

He ends by promising to visit the Romans the next time he goes to Spain, but, first, he had to stop at Jerusalem because the Saints in Macedonia and Achaia had a contribution for the benefit of the poor in those parts. He asks for them to pray with him and for him, so that he can avoid being arrested by their persecutors in Judaea.


There are three items that Paul brought up in this chapter that I find of particular application to my life:

I. How are we to bear the infirmities of the weak, and how does this help strengthen them?

I can’t help but draw a comparison to the classic sermon in Mosiah in the Book of Mormon, in which Alma tells those desiring to join the fold of Christ to “mourn with those who mourn” and to “comfort those who stand in need of comfort”. It is one thing to feel bad that someone else is sad. We can make them a casserole, drop it off, say the trite things that don’t really help, and then we carry on with our day. But to truly mourn with others, we feel their sorrow as if it were our own. To bear another’s infirmities, we feel the struggle they go through. Their struggles become our struggles. A friend of mine is trying to help one of her friends stop smoking. For every day that her friend goes without a cigarette, Sarah is going to go a day without shaving. Another friend of mine attends AA meetings with his friend, to be a support to his buddy. The LDS church has recently implemented an Addiction Recovery Program, patterned after AA, that allows people to attend simple to help those struggling with addictions. All of these examples show how we can bear the infirmities of the weak. Having a support system helps the weak overcome and become strong. And, by being that support system, we often find ourselves growing stronger, as well.

II. How can we be likeminded one toward another?

I don’t actually have a complete answer to this. I am reminded of Paul’s angry letter to the Corinthians:

10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.

This should be one of the great issues facing the Christian world today, but I don’t think it is. I fear that this is a passage that is glossed over or ignored. Or, worse, we all blame everyone else for what’s wrong. I am interested to know how others respond to this verse.

III. Paul teaches that we are full of goodness.

In several places in the scriptures, we find passages that tell us that “there are none that are righteous”, that “none of us are good”, and that what we think is good is really “as filthy rags before the Lord”. Even the Book of Mormon teaches us that we are lower than the dust of the earth. Yet here we have Paul saying, “Look guys, you really aren’t that bad. Yeah, I know, I’ve called you to task on a lot of stuff. But really, by and large, you are good people. You mean well. You do well. You’re smart, you’re funny, and, gosh darn it, people like you!”

Okay, maybe that’s not exactly how he put it, but that is what I hear him saying. I hear Paul telling us that, yes, we screw up. A lot. And we are so very, very fortunate to understand that it doesn’t matter how badly we screw up, because Christ can overcome everything. His mercy, His grace is stronger. To paraphrase a children’s song, Jesus is bigger than the boogeyman. And because of that, we don’t need to be flogging ourselves every night. We don’t need to be groveling on the floor saying, “We’re not worthy, we’re not worthy, we’re not worthy.” We know we aren’t worthy, but Christ can make us worthy, and He will, if we will let Him. So, instead of beating ourselves up, we can acknowledge that we are capable of doing good and that, in so doing, we are going to have a positive influence on others.

Romans 14

This review of Romans 14 is provided by BrianJ, a Mormon.

NET: Now receive the one who is weak in the faith, and do not have disputes over differing opinions.

NIV: Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.

NKJV: Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.

NRSV: Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions.

receive/accept/welcome: It seems as though Paul meant this as an instruction to “receive in full fellowship; i.e., as a member,” as opposed to merely “welcoming as a (temporary) guest.” Still, I wonder if he wouldn’t extend this advice to the latter as well. Do we receive/welcome/accept guests or visitors the same as we do new converts of our denominations? Should we?

One problem with interpreting Paul here is that he was writing with a Christianity in mind that is quite different than today. I realize that there were differences in doctrines taught in the different cities during Paul’s day, but the delineations were not nearly as demarcated as they are today. Is it reasonable to extend Paul’s admonition to include interfaith relations? Would Paul encourage a Catholic to receive a Baptist? an Evangelical to accept a Mormon? a Mormon to welcome an Anglican?

weak: I confess that I’d like to misread Paul here as well. I’d like to read this verse as an indication of his self-awareness: Paul wrote some confusing, difficult stuff in the chapters we’ve already covered, and here he is backing down (intellectually speaking) to acknowledge that a lot of people aren’t going to understand everything at first pass.

But that would require misreading what Paul means by “weak in faith.” “Weak” must refer back to Paul’s use of “weak” in previous chapters to mean someone who is holding onto old religious traditions; their weakness is made manifest by their inability to let go of the outwardness of the Law and make the leap to the new covenant. Thus, Paul makes no concession (at least here) to those who don’t understand—or trust—his previous chapters.

disputes/quarrels over opinions: This is where I saw some irony if I purposefully misread Paul. Throughout our group study, we’ve had many disputations—in fact, to some degree that was one of the purposes of our group discussion. So even though Paul, in chapter 14, wasn’t talking about discussions like ours, I wonder what he would tell us. Some sort of adaptation of this verse, encouraging flexibility and friendship, or would he favor a more hard-lined approach? Would Paul tolerate differences of opinion over matters of doctrine, or just over something he sees as trivial (such as what one eats)?

Actually, that’s the kind of question we’ve had all along in regards to Paul: How far is Paul willing to take his rhetoric? How far would Paul extend this forbearance? Some of us have taken Paul’s words with full force, whereas others have suggested that Paul might be exaggerating his doctrinal positions for effect.

Verses 5-6: What I still don’t get from Paul is whether he is merely tolerating the idea of holding on to certain religious “rules” or if he actually respects the practice. It seems the former, since he keeps referring to such people as “weak.” Is this why (some) Evangelicals criticize Mormons for our adherence to rules of Sunday dress, Sabbath activities, Word of Wisdom, etc.?

Verses 7-9: I find this analysis very odd. Not that I dispute the conclusion in verse 9, but it seems kind of thrown in there—almost like a reflex “amen!” If I just look at the logical flow of these verses, I come up with: Christ died and was resurrected so that he could be Lord of…people who eat pork and people who don’t (?).

Verse 13: Okay, I promise never to put a stumbling block in my brother’s way…but tell me: what is a stumbling block? How am I to know if I’ve placed one? Paul’s teaching seems straightforward enough, but in practice…. Paul used as an example the eating of kosher foods, telling both “sides” not to make it an issue for the other “side.” That’s a fine example, because it’s easy to see how pork chops or crab cakes could cause disputations between early Christians, but where I get a bit lost is in knowing how to apply this today. How can I know what will cause my brother to stumble? (And isn’t it, at some point, still his decision whether or not to stumble?)

Verse 15 anticipates this concern, even if it does not explicitly answer it. “Do not destroy by your food someone for whom Christ died” (NET). Ahh, well said Paul: you expertly call us petty. There’s no room to complain about another’s “weak faith,” saying anything like “What? I have to give up meat because my (ignorant) brother doesn’t understand that it’s okay to eat? What’s next? Give up milk, cheese, bread? How about my clothes or musical preferences? Maybe my brother should just grow up!” No, there’s no room for any of that because, after all, Jesus gave up his very life! Points like this make me very grateful for Jesus’ example of charity.

Verses 19-20: I’ve hinted at this already, but what if we took “food/meat” in these verses as merely a metaphor. A metaphor for…doctrine? ritual? worship style or ritual? etc.? Is that taking Paul’s words too far out of context, or would Paul endorse that exercise?

Romans 13

Todd is pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Ammon, Idaho.  He grew up in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Romans 13 is the shortest chapter in the book, but don’t let that lessen its impact and relevance for today.  Whereas the opening message of Romans brought justification to Martin Luther and later in church history to John Wesley upon hearing Luther’s preface, the message of Romans 13 changed the course of Augustine’s life.

The chapter could primarily be broken up into three sections:  commandments in relation to your government, commandments in relation to your neighbor, and commandments in relation to Christ.  I think that one’s obedience in these three areas is directly connected to how much one is willing to grow in gospel grace, for it is only the gospel that enables one to live out any of this stuff.

The Christian’s Relationship to Secular Government (vv. 1-7)

First of all, I don’t quite understand some of Joseph Smith insertions in the text.  He is thinking of the church:  and punishment instead of damnation, a rod instead of the sword, and consecrations instead of tribute.  What did he think about the U.S. President during the time of these translational notes?

Paul is talking about civil authorities in this opening paragraph.  And Richard Holzapfel and Thomas Wayment in their book, Making Sense of the New Testament, make a fair observation, “[Paul’s] comments on government . . . should be interpreted in light of the fact that the rulers he was speaking of were not democratic leaders but foreign oligarchs with their own interests and agendas” (p. 338).  Just imagine the political leaders in Paul’s day.  Wow.  I am glad to live in America.

But can we apply this passage to President Barak Obama?  Certainly.  Paul was not a political revolutionary.  And in light of this passage, Christians would be in disobedience for dodging the paying of taxes.  And we ought to seriously take note that our city, county, state, and national servants are God’s deacons (v. 4).  Christians display the glorious Christian gospel and trust in God by their submission to government.  Christians can be accused of a lot of things.  But they shouldn’t be accused of being political rebels or rabble-raisers.

The Christian’s Relationship to His Neighbor (vv. 8-10)

Paul and James join hand in hand with one another.  Paul writes, “For the commandments . . . are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” . . . and “love is the fulfilling of the law.”  James writes in James 2, “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well.”

But how do we do this?  And who really is the consistently good Samaritan?  We don’t have the strength within ourselves to love our neighbors as we should, let alone an enemy.  We need something or more specifically Someone – the one who perfectly loves neighbors and enemies – to live and love through us.

It is interesting how Eric Shusten and Charles Sale seek application from this text.  In their book, The Biblical Roots of Mormonism (2010), they write, “While the Bible is clear about the sin of homosexual sex, it is equally clear about love (Matthew 22:39).  Love the sinner, not the sin (Romans 13:9-10)” (p. 238).

The Christian’s Relationship to Christ (vv. 11-14)

A Christian does not get saved by grace and then try to live the Christian life by his or her effort.  It is all grace.  There must be a daily putting on of the Lord Jesus Christ by grace through faith.  Yes, Paul exhorts us in regards to our responsibility.  We must cast off by faith, our sinful tendencies.  We must put on by faith, the gospel armor.  Simply put, we must put on Christ.

So, we cast off.  We put on.  And we walk forward in the daily spiritual battle.  And we can do it all through only one – the Lord Jesus Christ.  Going beyond earthly politics, this King is our ultimate freedom fighter.  He set Augustine free.

Let me conclude with a snippet from Augustine’s testimony.  I finished reading his Confessions last month.

“I sent up these sorrowful cries:  “How long, how long?  Tomorrow and tomorrow?  Why not now?  Why not this very hour make an end to my uncleanness?”

“I was saying these things and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when suddenly I heard the voice of a boy or a girl—I know not which—coming from the neighboring house, chanting over and over again, “Pick up, read; pick up, read” [Tolle, lege; tolle, lege].  Immediately I ceased weeping and began most earnestly to think whether it was usual for children in some kind of game to sing such a song, but I could not remember ever having heard the like.  So, damming the torrent of my tears, I got to my feet, for I could only think that this was a divine command to open the book and read the first passage I should light upon.  For I had heard how Anthony, accidently coming into church while the gospel was being read, received the admonition as if what was read had been addressed to him:  “Go and sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me.”  By such an oracle he was immediately converted to you.  So I quickly returned to the bench where Alypius was sitting, for there I had put down the apostle’s book when I had left.  I snatched it up, opened it, and in silence read the paragraph on which my eyes first fell:  “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.”  I wanted to read no further, nor did I need to.  For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away.”

Romans 11

In chapter 11 Paul continues his explanation of Israel’s place in God’s plan of salvation.  He explains that God didn’t reject his people, but saved out a remnant (such as Paul); just as in the time of Elijah, God saved 7,000 who remained faithful.  Paul explains that this remnant has been saved purely by God’s grace.  He states in verses 5 and 6:

So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.  And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

Verse 6 is totally a side note in Paul’s overall message in this passage, but I love the nugget we find here.  In chapter 10 Paul explains that there is a righteousness that comes from works and a righteousness that comes from grace.  The righteousness from works is basically unobtainable. So the only thing we can hope for is the righteousness that comes from grace.  Here he further sets works and grace apart from one another. Grace and earning are opposed to each other and can’t be reached for simultaneously.  Grace is something that is freely given and undeserved.  Righteousness-by-works is something a person would deserve.  Grace, by definition can’t be earned.  To give someone something through grace is to acknowledge that they don’t deserve it. The ONLY thing a person can do to qualify for the gift of grace is to be undeserving of it.  No one can ever deserve grace, if they could, it would no longer be grace.

I think grace, by definitions, stands in contrast to any idea of us paying off a debt and then God swooping in to pay off what remains because he saw that we were trying our best to pay it off.  God already knows our best efforts aren’t going to do it, so grace pays the entire debt.

Paul goes on to explain how parts of Israel have been broken off from the vine, this allows Gentiles to be grafted in even though we are like wild olive shoots.  Though parts of Israel may be cut off from the root, it’s not a permanent condition.  If something foreign and untamed like Gentiles can be grafted in, so too can the natural branches be rejoined.  This condition the Jews find themselves in is a temporary hardening of their hearts “until the full number of the Gentiles has come in”.

There’s something perplexing in verses 28 -31 pertaining to our freewill.  Paul explains that Israel will always be loved by God because of his covenants with the patriarchs.  Though they are disobedient God will show mercy to them just as he showed mercy on those of us who were disobedient Gentiles.  Then in verse 31 he states

For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

I’m not sure what being “bound over to disobedience” means.  But I love how “The Message” explains this passage: In one way or another, God makes sure that we all experience what it means to be outside so that he can personally open the door and welcome us back in. There’s bad news in there for everyone, but the good news is bigger than the bad, God wants to have mercy on everyone.

The chapter ends with a closing prayer that echoes the final chapters of Job.  Who can know God’s mind?  Who can give him advice?  Who does God owe any favors to?  No one.  Everything ever given to us is from God, through God and ultimately for God.  All glory goes to God.  If you’re ever looking for a good novel on this topic I recommend “Till We Have Faces” by CS Lewis.  Lewis claimed it was his own personal favorite.

Romans 10

This review of Romans 10 is provided by Sarah, an Evangelical

Verses 1-4
Paul seems to be saying that the Israelites are zealous—passionate, devoted, and earnest—about following God, but their zeal does not result in righteousness, because the God from whom righteousness flows is not the one they are seeking after. In lieu of having God’s righteousness, it seems that the Israelites have done what Paul warns the Colossians against: created regulations that “have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but [they] lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” (2:23).

Verses 5-8
Paul paraphrases Deuteronomy 30:11-14:  Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

Verses 9-13
Paul exposits the passage in Deuteronomy. The path to righteousness is not impossible; we need not climb up to heaven or cross the sea to get it. All that is necessary is having faith—trusting God with our hearts—and from the overflow of the heart, testimony pours forth. But just as a marriage certificate is no good to a husband in love if the wife’s heart is absent, intellectual assent and verbal affirmation are worthless to God if our hearts are not inclined toward his. It is our hearts that God wants, and he is eager to include in his embrace all who desire inclusion.

Verses 14-15
In order to trust God with their hearts, people need to know who he is. How can they know if no one tells them?

Verses 16-21
Hearing the message does not always result in acceptance. God has offered himself to Israel and his advances have been rebuffed.

Verses one through four can seem to be saying that earnestly seeking God does not necessarily result in finding him, but I don’t think they are (because that seems to me to contradict the rest of scripture). So do what you will with those verses, but I don’t think they can be used as a bludgeon to inform people that they’re in the wrong religion and they need to get into the right one before they can find God.

I believe evangelicals tend to disastrously misuse verse 9. I grew up being taught that if we believe that Jesus was resurrected (that it actually happened historically) and speak it out loud, we are saved. But this is no more beautiful, compelling, or life-giving than following a faith that necessitates our good works for salvation. Jesus gives the greatest commandment as, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.” In the end, we are saved not by obedience and not by a formulaic prayer. We’re saved by the love Christ has for us and the love we have for him. And love is the means as well as the end. John 17 says it is eternal life to know God (who, John says elsewhere, is love). Communion with God is salvation, and it is reached the way any communion is reached—through relationship.

Romans 9

This review of Romans 9 is provided by Aaron, an Evangelical Christian.

In an effort to make myself even more unpopular among some of the regular visitors of this blog I have offered to cover Romans 9. 🙂 Actually, it seemed like a providential opportunity, since on Reformation Sunday I preached a sermon on Romans 9:1-23 at a church in Santaquin, UT. I predict that what I will promote here is, for most of you, completely foreign to the worldview that you were brought up with. I only ask that you make a valiant effort at understanding the text itself before approaching the issues using traditional philosophy.

I also want you to know that I have an emotional and spiritual connection with this text, for a number of reasons. You see, Romans 9 and I have a history together. It was a source of controversy in my college days. It was something I originally vehemently disagreed with. It was something that, once it clicked, was hard for me to handle with maturity. But it was also something that, in the long-run, explosively enlarged my view of God and catapulted me forward with a confidence that God was far bigger than I ever imagined. A big reason why I am in Utah today (and not closer to family on the East Coast) is that I believe that the God of Romans 9 can effectively call people to himself, including Mormons.

My theology among evangelical Christianity: I am a 4.5 point Calvinist who maintains that God has a desire for all to be saved and that ethnic Israel still has a privileged future. Many Calvinists are confused over the former issue (or worse, are “hyper-Calvinistic”), and some Calvinists outright reject the latter claim. Calvinism (inasmuch as it refers to belief in unconditional election, etc.) has gone from being the dominant view in the Reformation to a minority position today in evangelicalism. See however a related book:

Sources: I not only quote from the commentaries of Tom Schreiner and John Piper (Calvinists) on Romans (,, I also loosely borrow phraseology at times without always including a citation.

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Romans 8

This review of Romans 8 is provided by Seth, an active Mormon

People sometimes gripe that a chapter-by-chapter treatment of a book like Romans cannot possibly do justice to the full message of the work taken-together. On this I completely agree. You simply cannot read a single chapter of Romans in isolation and get a real sense of what Paul is talking about. I think many casual students of the Bible – both in Mormon and Protestant contexts – do themselves a real disservice in their studies in their tendency toward the “chapter-a-day” method of scripture study. However, we need these artificial divisions to keep life and discussion manageable, so an approach like this is probably unavoidable. But I’d still like to provide a quick overview of where we are, and where we’ve come from when we arrive at Romans chapter 8. I think focusing mainly on chapters 6 and 7 (with reference to other scripture passages), will be sufficient for this purpose in a bare-bones sort of way.

The first eight chapters of Romans might be broken down in this fashion:

  1. Man’s sin and need for justification – Chapters 1-3
  2. The nature of justification: its basis and its benefits – Chapters 3-5
  3. Justification and the goal of righteousness – Chapters 6-8

I am only focusing in this intro on #3 – Justification and the goal of righteousness. This run of three chapters in 6-8 has often been popularly referred to by Protestant scholars and speakers as “The Agony and the Ecstasy.” We go through the impossible dilemma and “agony” of the problem facing Paul in chapters 6 and 7, and then in chapter 8 are treated to the “ecstasy” of the glorious vision and promise of chapter 8.

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Romans 7

This review of Romans 7 is provided by KatyJane, a former-mormon now emergent Christian.

This chapter starts out by talking about why we are no longer bound to the Jewish law. When we take on Christ’s name, when we make the decision to follow Jesus Christ, we are no longer bound by the written law, but by the law of the Spirit.

He then continues to talk about the law, and the relationship between the law and sin. Paul says that while the law is not sin, without the law we wouldn’t know what sin was.

For apart from the law, sin is dead.

And honestly, I don’t follow Paul’s logic in verses 11-12. He says:

For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.

I guess I don’t see that it necessarily follows that the law is holy and the commandment is holy, righteous and good, but Paul indicates that it is with the ‘so then’.

This chapter also makes me question whether the death that Paul is talking about is physical death. I think it makes more sense to think about it as separation from God.

But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

Earlier, he gave an example of coveting, and said that with the commandment against coveting, Paul coveted all sorts of stuff. And it would seem that applying that example here would mean that Paul knew that he shouldn’t be coveting, and so he was separated from God in all the ways he coveted. It produced separation from God in him through the following of the commandment not to covet.

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Romans 6

This review of Romans 6 is provided by Steve (The Old Adam)
background – I’m a Lutheran laymen who felt the weight of the shackles of my own spiritual project and religious wandering fall off when I heard the free gospel in it’s purity and gift of Christ handed to me, free of charge, no strings attached

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it?

This is pretty much an extension of Chapter 5. Paul is just anticipating the question that some, or many of the Romans he was writing to might ask. Many of us ask the same thing. A question like that shows a misunderstanding of the gospel to start with, or maybe someone who really has not heard the gospel (hasn’t grabbed hold of) yet.

Now to the meat of the chapter:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Paul is speaking here about Holy Baptism.
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Romans 4

This review of Romans 4 is provided by Kullervo. He is a former Mormon and someone who investigated most forms of Christianity before finding a home in Paganism.

So, up to this point, Paul has been creating an argument that runs something like this:

1. Jehovah is evident in the created universe, which means everyone in the world is aware of Him. That means everyone who is not a Jew or a Christian is intentionally and deliberately rebelling against the one true God. They might not know the specifics of the Law (either the Old Law of Moses or the New Law given by Jesus), but they do know, deep in their hearts, whether or not they have ever heard Christ preached to them, that their religions and traditions are false. This is illustrated by the wicked, depraved lives they lead: since they reject God, God leaves them to wallow in their filth. Because everyone knows about God, everyone who does not choose God is culpable for that choice.

2. Believers, whether under the Old Law or the New, are even more guilty. Unlike the unbelievers who merely reject the notion of the one true God, believers know all about the Law. They know God, they know what God expects of them, and yet they do not do it. They preach Jesus Christ but they do not do what He taught. They are worse than depraved; they are hypocrites. With full knowledge of what God expects of them, they nevertheless act otherwise.

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Romans 3

This review is provided by Katie, an active Mormon

I liked Eric’s format of summary, reflection and comment, and LDS application…so I’m gonna steal it.  🙂  The only difference is I’ll put LDS application ahead of personal reflection and comment, so I can close with my own thoughts, questions, and personal wrestling with this chapter.

Quick note: this is the first time I’ve read Romans in years.  Unlike many of the frequent commenters on this blog, I have limited understanding of the Bible.  I’m dealing with the text as best I understand it based solely on my own reading of it.


vs. 1-8. Paul continues his argument from chapter 2 that circumcision of the heart and spirit matters most to God, and not necessarily the physical act itself.  He reiterates that, while the Jews were entrusted with the very words of God, many of them did not have faith – and yet despite that, God proved faithful.  He points out that our unrighteousness more clearly demonstrates God’s righteousness by supplying a sharp contrast; yet he argues that we are NOT justified to sin because of this.  Instead, our condemnation is deserved.

vs. 9-19. Paul declares that no one is righteous, quoting Psalms.  He argues that no one is made righteous by observing the Law, because no one truly observes the Law – rather, the Law is the tool by which we are made aware of our failings.

vs. 21-27. Paul explains how we may be made righteous.  It is not by obedience to the Law, but by the free grace of Jesus.  As a result, none of us have any reason to boast; none of us is better than another – not Jew, not Gentile – for God justifies humanity through faith as opposed to personal merit.

LDS application. This chapter addresses the grace / works debate we Mormons and evangelicals often find ourselves in the middle of.  I think it’s interesting to note that, while we might disagree on the specific application of Paul’s words, paradigmatically, we have several things in common.   Specifically, we both believe that…

  1. Everyone sins.
  2. Even one violation of the law is enough to estrange us from God forever – in other words, we all inherently deserve eternal separation from our Heavenly Father as a result of sin.
  3. Jesus Christ is our only way “out.”

The question then becomes how Christ is our way out; or in other words, how can we access the cleansing power of God in order to be found blameless at His judgment seat?

In this chapter, Paul says that justification comes by faith, apart from observing the law.

My experience is that most Mormons accept what Paul has to say about being justified by faith, with this caveat:  that faith is an “action word” — so if you’re not obedient and righteous, you don’t have true faith.

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Romans 2

This chapter’s review is provided by Eric, a former Evangelical and current Mormon.

Summary/analysis: Romans 2 is middle of a larger section, ending at 3:20, in which Paul lays out his thesis that both Jews and gentiles have sinned and are subject to the judgment of God. This section cannot be fully understood out of that context.

In 2:1-11, Paul suggests that when we judge others we are also judging ourselves. He speaks of a coming day of judgment and wrath (2:5) in which people, both Jew and gentile, will be repaid for their deeds, with those who did good receiving eternal life (v 7) and those who were self-seeking receiving wrath (v 8). This judgment of glory for the good and distress for the evil applies to all, as God shows no favoritism (v 11).

In vv 12-16, Paul teaches that those who are living under the law (presumably referring to the Old Testament law of the Jews) will be judged by the law, and those under the law who don’t follow the law severely dishonor God (vv 23-24). And for those who aren’t living under the Law, they have a “law to themselves” that they can sense inwardly, and they will be judged accordingly. In other words, the judgment applies to Jews and gentiles alike, even though they receive instruction in different ways.

In vv 25-29, Paul emphasizes that, at least for Jews, it isn’t just outward conformity that matters. In fact, he suggests in v 27 that those who are uncircumcised and follow the law they know are better off than those who are circumcised yet don’t follow the law. The real circumcision is something of the heart and spirit, Paul says, not an outward physical condition.

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Romans 1

Before jumping in to the heart of Romans 1, I’d like to point out two quick things found in verse 5:

Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.

The first is that Paul says that he received apostleship from Christ. That means he’s not just speaking to the Christians in Rome as a fellow believer. He’s speaking to them as one who has authority. The rest of what he says is not merely his opinion, it’s authoritative for the believers. The second thing I noticed in the verse was the phrase “the obedience that comes from faith.” People like to set the Book of Romans up against the Book of James as if they contradict one another. But right from one of the very first verses Paul affirms obedience and faith and then clarifies how the two books work together. Obedience comes from faith. Faith produces our obedience rather than our obedience producing our faith. Sometimes to help myself from getting confused by the word “faith,” I substitute it with “active trust.” In this instance, the verse would read “the obedience that comes from active trust”. The first eleven chapters of Romans are Paul’s exploration and explanation of what the good news of Jesus is all about. In verse 18 he jumps right in by explaining the problem confronting the world.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.

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A Reading of Romans

I heard Dr. Millett propose something that I’d like to give a try in our own forum. He suggested that someday he’d like to see Mormons and Evangelicals getting together to study the Book of Romans without shedding an ounce of their own convictions. Starting next week I’d like to do that here on this blog. I could write every post but I recognize how skewed that will make the study. So I’d like to invite any of my regular readers to read a chapter in Romans and then write a review for discussion based on that chapter. It doesn’t have to be a full theological treatise, just about 3-5 paragraphs of summary and reflection. I’d like the author of each post to explain how her own religious background interprets and applies each passage. Ideally each post would be released after two or three days of the last one. Would you consider signing up in the comment section for one of the following chapters?

Romans 1 – October 11 by Tim
Romans 2 – October 13 by Eric
Romans 3 – October 16 by Katie L.
Romans 4 – October 18 by Kullervo
Romans 5 – October 19 by David Clark
Romans 6 – October 22 by TheOldAdam
Romans 7 – October 24 by KatyJane
Romans 8 – October 26 by Seth R.
Romans 9 – November 1 by Aaron S.
Romans 10 – November 3 by Sarah
Romans 11 – November 6 by Tim
Romans 12 – November 10 by Jared C.
Romans 13 – November 12 by Todd Wood
Romans 14 – November 15 by Brian J.
Romans 15 – November 18 by Alex T. Valencic
Romans 16 – November 22 by Ms. Jack

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