Romans Bible Study Lesson 61

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Paul’s Closing Thoughts

Romans 15:26—16:27

As Paul closes out the epistle to the Romans, he throws in some dispensational gems. We have worked our way through eight chapters on Paul’s theological treatise on who we are in Christ; from our lost condition through God’s provision and our secure position. We then studied Israel’s position in this new dispensation of the Grace of God in chapters 9—11. Chapter 12 begins practical application of everything written before this. We learn how we should act and our responsibility toward other believers.

Verse 26
It’s interesting to compare early Acts with what Paul says in this verse about the poor saints in Jerusalem.

Acts 2:43—45 43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.

Acts 4:32—35 32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. 34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.

What happened in the 20 or so years that elapsed from the saints lacking nothing to becoming poor and needing financial assistance?

First there was a famine that hit around 45 A.D. Agabus predicted this famine in Acts 11. However, this famine was to be quite widespread and would have affected more saints than just those in Jerusalem so this famine does not seem to fully explain why the saints in Jerusalem were particularly in need of the offering money.

Acts 11:27—28 27 Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius.

Second, 10 years previous to this the saints in Jerusalem sold all they had and were waiting for the Kingdom to be set up. One of the hallmarks of the Kingdom was that the King (Jesus Christ) would supply all of their needs. Selling their possessions indicated that they were willing to place their entire trust on Him for their supply. Those who did not do this were not true disciples. The Israelites who were called the little flock were the ones to whom the Kingdom was to be given. One of the requirements was giving up their possessions.

Luke 14:33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

Luke 12:31—34 31 But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. 33 “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Since the Tribulation was to begin shortly after the early events in Acts, I believe that putting all things in common was a way to get the group of Kingdom believers through the coming seven-year Tribulation period. Since Israel rejected her Messiah, the program for Israel was put on hold and the new Mystery program was revealed to Paul. The King was rejected and the glorious Kingdom program was put on hold.  Instead of King Jesus, members in the newly formed Body of Christ were now supplying sustenance to the poor saints in Jerusalem.

Verses 27—29

This verse contains an important concept that helps us to understand our relationship with Israel. There are many who say that we have become spiritual Israel and have therefore taken over any blessings that have been promised to them. When a passage is spiritualized, the real meaning of a passage is replaced with a metaphorical (or allegorical) meaning. Israel is now the Church. The 1000-year Millennium is now a long period of time. The promised physical, earthly Kingdom is now heaven. The promise of a plot of land in the Middle East is now heaven for the Church. A quick reading of Romans 11 should make it clear that what God promised to Israel will come to pass to Israel without trying to explain it away through the Church.

This verse now clears up our relationship with the promises God gave to Israel. Promises given to Israel are both physical and spiritual in nature. The physical promises include; they will become a great nation (Genesis 12:2), they will be given much land (including Jordan, parts of Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia) (Genesis 12:7), they will act as priests in the Millennial Kingdom (Exodus 19:5—6; Zechariah 8:20-23) and the world will glorify Israel and bring them riches (Isaiah 60).

Israel is also promised spiritual blessings some of which are listed in Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36. These spiritual blessings were a part of the New Covenant to Israel and made possible at the cross but were not given to the Gentiles. The Cross broke the power the Old Covenant (Law) had over mankind but the effects of the Cross were not fully explained until revealed through Paul. Even though Jesus came to die for Israel, the far-reaching effects of His death were not revealed at that time. From the Mystery are revealed many spiritual blessings that we share with Israel. We see a list of spiritual blessings in Ephesians 1. It’s interesting to note that the New Covenant does not contain any physical promises.
Paul uses the argument that if the Gentiles can share in the spiritual blessings of Israel that they can reciprocate and share with the poor saints in Jerusalem a physical gift of money. Paul then says he will first deliver the generous gift to Jerusalem and then he planed to visit the church at Rome on his way to Spain.

Verses 30—33

Paul closes out this chapter with a plea for those at Rome to pray for him. To strive together is to struggle together. He saw the work of those in the local church as important as his work in traveling throughout the known world to preach the gospel. This praying together caused them to come together as one in Christ.

Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.

2 Corinthians 1:11 you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.

The reason for praying was for his rescue from unbelieving Jews in Jerusalem. Romans was written just before he went back to Jerusalem from Greece and he knew there was going to be trouble (Acts 20:22—23). The prophet Agabus confirmed this in Caesarea when he foretold that Paul would be bound in Jerusalem (Acts 21:10—14).

Romans 16

I find it interesting that Paul had never been to the church at Rome but yet he had some deep relationships with many of them. Some were related to him while others he apparently had met as he traveled. We know this is true of Aquila and Priscilla who were laboring with Paul in Greece (Acts 18). At least seven were related to Paul; Andronicus and Junias (verse 7), Herodion (verse 11), Lucius and Jason and Sosipater (verse 21).

It’s also interesting to note who is not referenced. If Peter had formed the Roman church wouldn’t Paul have greeted him? The last we hear from Peter is six years previous at the council at Jerusalem (Acts 15). With the magnification of Paul’s ministry came the diminishing of Peter’s ministry. In Galatians 2:7 it was agreed that Peter would stick to ministering to the Jewish saints under the Kingdom program while Paul would minister to the Gentiles under the Mystery program. Peter held firm to this commitment even as he wrote 1 and 2 Peter in the early 60s. I also believe Paul held to this commitment and therefore is not the author of Hebrews.

Verse 7

There are many who point to this verse to prove that Paul was not the first person brought in to the Body of Christ or that there was no new Gospel being preached by Paul. It all hinges upon how you understand the term “in Christ.”

I believe this particular term is a generic reference to being a believer. Anyone who was a believer in the past is allowed to be in the presence of God because of the work of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:25). Anyone not in Christ redemptively cannot stand in God’s presence. This is, I believe, why Paradise could not be brought into heaven until after Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Before this Paradise was connected to the place of Torment both of which made up Hades. If anyone from Adam on has not had the Son standing in their stead then they are destined for hell. There is no other way for anyone to obtain eternal life. The extent of Christ’s work was not made clear until it was revealed to Paul. All those saved in the past were saved when they believed God and did what He told them to do. The idea that Christ would die for their sins was not understood until after He rose from the dead (John 20:8—9).

On the other hand, Paul makes it clear that he was the first member in the Body of Christ (Colossians 1:24-26; I Timothy 1:12-16). Paul says he is the example we are to follow, a pattern for future believers.

1 Timothy 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

Both Peter and Paul built on the same foundation—Jesus Christ. However, we are told to build only upon the doctrine of Paul (1 Corinthians 3:10—11).

Verses 25—26
We can only be established in Christ through the doctrine preached by Paul. He called it his gospel to distinguish it from the Kingdom gospel. If the Kingdom gospel and Grace gospel were identical Paul would not have needed to call it his gospel. This gospel was contained in the Mystery revelation given to Paul by Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12). This was a Mystery because it was hidden away in the mind of God from BEFORE the creation of the world. In other words, it was not plan B, C, or F but was His one and only plan finally revealed.
It is Jesus Christ who establishes or firmly plants us so that we will be unmovable and stand firm when our faith is under attack. He does this through the content and encouragement of Paul’s gospel of the Mystery. As a believer reads and studies God’s Word the Holy Spirit works in us to give us understanding as to what it means and how to apply it to our life. Scripture trains and explains while the Holy Spirit puts Scriptural concepts to work to help us conform to the image of His Son.

2 Timothy 3:16?All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

1 Timothy 4:6 In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.

We cannot be established by the Kingdom writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John or Peter. If we try to live out their writings (meant for Israel concerning the formation of the Millennial Kingdom) we will only become confused and frustrated. When they tell us to sell all we have most people interpret it to mean to be willing to sell all. When we are told to forgive or else God will not forgive us it is interpreted to mean that I should forgive as God forgives. When they tell us to begin making disciples in Jerusalem it really means to start witnessing in your own neighborhood. On and on it goes, spiritualizing one passage after another to make it all fit together when God intended for us to rightly divide Scripture. Separating truth from truth is the only logical way to interpret Scripture.

Peter contrasts Paul’s teaching on being grounded in the Mystery by describing Kingdom truths in 2 Peter 1. As Peter writes to the remaining Kingdom saints alive at that time he encourages them to bear fruit (Verses 5—7; see also Matthew 3:8—10). The reason for them to do this is so that they make their calling and election sure (verse 10) and by doing this the entrance into the Kingdom will be supplied to them (verse 11).  Peter wraps up this section by saying that they have already been established in this truth (verse 12). This truth cannot be Mystery truth for Paul makes it clear that there is nothing we can add to the salvation God has given to us by believing.

The phrase and by the Scriptures of the Prophets is usually misunderstood to mean that Mystery truths were revealed to prophets of old when they wrote Scripture. This comes about because of poor translations that add words to make it say what translators thought it said according to their bias or lack of understanding of mystery truth. The following literal translation seems to be the most accurate.

Romans 16:25—26 25And to Him who is able to establish you, according to my good news, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the secret, in the times of the ages having been kept silent, 26and now having been made manifest, also [this word is not in the original Greek], through prophetic writings, according to a command of the age-during God, having been made known to all the nations for obedience of faith (Young’s literal translation)


We first notice that the word prophets is actually and adjective modifying the word writings (or Scripture). In other words it is correctly translated prophetic Scripture. The NASB incorrectly makes it sound like Paul is referring to many prophets who wrote Scripture (even though Scripture was not all written by prophets). These prophetic writings Paul is referring to are his own writing and it is through these Pauline writings that God is making known to the world the Mystery.

Verse 27

Paul closes by appropriately giving glory to God for this wonderful revelation of God’s grace.