Friday, July 25, 2014

Romans 16:17-20 - Beware of Them Who Cause Division

Romans 16:17-20 (KJV)
17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

Paul's final remark to his readers was a warning against them who cause divisions and offences which are contrary to the doctrine which they had learned (verse 17). They were to be avoided! Just like in our own congregations of today, there were those who came into the assembly with ideas and doctrines which were in opposition to sound Biblical teaching. Paul said they were to be avoided. However, this seems to be advice very contrary to how our churches respond today. There is such an emphasis on being seeker-friendly and relevant to today's culture that not only are sermons watered-down, but doctrines contrary to the Word of God are allowed to slip into our churches causing all kinds of havoc in the Body of Messiah. Instead, our assemblies should hold to Biblical truth and to teach thoroughly those truths. While there are honest variations in Biblical interpretation, reflected in the myriad denominations in our world today, there are major core teachings that should be non-negotiable, that anyone teaching or espousing anti-Biblical views must not be allowed in our assemblies.

Those who taught contrary to sound doctrine did not serve Messiah Yeshua, but themselves, by their good words and fair speeches (verse 18). They deceived the hearts of the simple. This is what is happening in our churches today, as well. These false teachers deceive those that are not grounded in Biblical truth. And today, there are too many who are Biblically illiterate and who fall prey to these teachers.

Yet, Paul's Roman believers were known to be obedient to Messiah Yeshua (verse 19). Paul was glad for this, but he also cautioned them to be wise unto that which is good, and to be simple concerning evil. Paul was not saying that believers should not have an awareness of what is evil, but that an over familiarity with evil was to be avoided.

Paul then encouraged the believers by saying that the God of peace would bruise Satan under their feet shortly (verse 20). Although nearly 2,000 years have passed since Paul's declaration, Satan's time is ever shorter and we are closer than ever to his defeat. Hallelu-Yah!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Romans 16:11-16 - More Greetings

Romans 16:11-16 (KJV)
11 Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.
12 Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord.
13 Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.
14 Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them.
15 Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.
16 Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.

Paul continued his greetings in verse 11 by mentioning Herodion, his kinsman, who possibly had some connection to the Herod family. Next he greeted those of the household of Narcissus who were believers. Next he greeted Tryphena and Tryphosa, two women who labored in the work of the Lord (verse 12). He also greeted the beloved Persis, another woman who labored in the Lord's work. In verse 13 Paul greeted Rufus, who was chosen in the Lord (perhaps meaning distinguished?).

Mark 15:21 (KJV)
21 And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.

This Rufus, whose father helped to carry Yeshua's cross, may be the same as the one Paul now greeted.

At the same time, the greeting was extended to Rufus' mother. Paul apparently felt so connected to this woman that he referred to her as "his own." Paul then greeted Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the fellow believers that were with them (verse 14). He also greeted Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints (believers) that are with them (verse 15). Julia and the sister of Nereus were two more women that Paul mentioned.

Then in verse 16 Paul tells his Roman readers to greet one another with an holy kiss, which was a Middle-Eastern custom. These greetings were also to be understood as coming from all the other congregations of Messiah.

Next, Paul would give some further advise.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Romans 16:1-10 - Commendation and Greetings

Romans 16:1-10 (KJV)
1 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:
2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.
3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:
4 Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.
5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.
6 Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.
7 Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
8 Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord.
9 Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.
10 Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household.

Paul had now come to the end of his letter to the Romans. The last chapter consists of some follow-up details. In verse 1 he commended Phebe to the Roman assembly. It is believed that Phebe was the one who carried Paul's letter to the Roman believers. She was a servant of the church in Cenchrea, which was the eastern seaport of Corinth. Although the term "servant" can mean any number of roles in the church, the Greek term is "diakonos," from which the term deacon comes from. It is interesting to note that "diakonos" is the masculine form of the word (Stern, David H. Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., Clarksville, MD. p. 439). This seems to indicate that Phebe had a very important role in the Cenchrea church. The Hebrew parallel would have been "shammash," the person who handled the practical tasks of keeping a synagogue going (Stern 439). Paul exhorted the Roman believers to receive her and to assist her in whatever business she had need of (verse 2). She had succoured many, including Paul.

In verse 3 Paul began his greetings, first to Priscilla and Aquila, Paul's helpers in Messiah Yeshua. According to Paul, they had laid down their own necks for him at some point, although, Biblically there is no record of any specific such incident (verse 4). For this, Paul and all the churches of the Gentiles were grateful. Likewise, Paul greeted the assembly or congregation that met in their home (verse 5). Some have believed that the mention of Priscilla before Aquila may have indicated her greater prominence.

Paul then greeted his well-beloved Epaenetus, who was the first fruits of those in Achaia (Greece) who came to Messiah. He greeted Mary, who had done much labor for Paul and his co-workers (verse 6). Next, he greeted Andronicus and Junia, his kinsmen and fellow prisoners (verse 7). They were important among the apostles and they had come to Messiah before Paul. Junia is a feminine name and may be Andronicus' wife. In any case she is counted among the apostles. In verse 8 Paul greeted Amplias, his beloved in the Lord. He greeted Urbane, his helper in Messiah, and Stachys, his beloved (verse 9). Paul greeted Apelles who was approved in Messiah, and those who were of the house of Aristobulus (verse 10).

Paul's greeting will continue in the next post.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Romans 15:22-33 - To Spain

Romans 15:22-33 (KJV)
22 For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.
23 But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you;
24 Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company.
25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.
26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.
27 It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.
28 When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.
29 And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.
30 Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;
31 That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints;
32 That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.
33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Next, Paul explained that he had been hindered from coming to the believers in Rome because of his desire to complete his mission of spreading the Gospel in the eastern Mediterranean area (verse 22). But now, because he felt his mission in the east was "done," and because he had felt a great desire for many years to go to Rome, he was going to do so (verse 23). He would come first to Rome and then continue on to Spain where he could spread the Gospel to those who had not yet heard (verse 24). Certainly, he would see the Roman believers on that journey and they would see him onward. But first, he wanted to be filled with the Roman believers' company. Paul's visit wouldn't necessarily be short, but would provide a starting place for his journey into Spain.

However, he was first going to go to Jerusalem to minister to the saints (verse 25). Macedonia and Achaia had collected contributions for the poor saints in Jerusalem that Paul would deliver (verse 26). They were cheerful givers because they felt they owed a debt to the Jewish believers in Jerusalem (27). Just as the Jewish believers shared their spiritual blessings, the Gentile believers would share their material blessings with the Jerusalem believers. Once Paul had carried out his delivery he would come to Rome (verse 28). He was sure that in going to Rome God's blessings were upon him (verse 29).

Paul asked the Roman believers to pray for him (verse 30). He specifically asked for prayer regarding his delivery from those in Judea that did not believe in Messiah Yeshua (verse 31). He also asked for prayer that the Jerusalem believers would accept the contributions that he brought to them. Paul lastly asked for prayer that he would come to the Roman believers with joy and that both he and the believers would be refreshed (verse 32). Paul ended by blessing his readers by asking the God of peace to be with them. (verse 33).

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Romans 15:13-21 - Paul's Testimony

Romans 15:13 (KJV)
13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

As Paul came to the end of his letter to the Romans he gave his readers a blessing, that God would fill them with all joy and peace, so that by faith they would abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit (verse 13).

Romans 15:14-21 (KJV)
14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.
15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God,
16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.
17 I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God.
18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed,
19 Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
20 Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:
21 But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.

He then stated that he was persuaded that the Roman believers were full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and were able to admonish one another (verse 14). Nevertheless, he had written to them boldly, as a reminder, because of his calling from God (grace) that he should be the minister of Yeshua the Messiah to the Gentiles (verses 15 & 16). He ministered the Gospel of God so that the Gentiles might be acceptable to God, having been sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

He therefore gloried through Messiah Yeshua in those things which God had accomplished (verse 17). However, he didn't dare to speak of any of the things which Messiah had not wrought by him, through word or deed, to make the Gentiles obedient. In other words he would confine his speech to only the things that he had been concerned in, and not to others' ministries (verse 18). Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Holy Spirit, he had fully preached the Gospel of Messiah from Jerusalem into Illyricum (verse 19). So, Paul preached the Gospel, not where others had preached so that he wouldn't build upon another man's foundation (verse 20). But as it is written in Isaiah:

Isaiah 52:15 (KJV)
15 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.

Paul brought the Gospel message to those who had not heard before (verse 21). Then they would see and understand.

Next, Paul would continue with his testimony.