With his use of an olive tree, Paul compared people to tree branches, using “cut off” to show that someone is removed from the tree (the Church) through unbelief. Through faith, God will “graft” in those branches, whether “natural” (of Jewish ancestry) or “contrary to nature (of Gentile ancestry).
Paul provides a warning not to rely on one’s own work or ideas when it comes to God, now focusing on the Christian Gentiles in Rome.
The Mystery of the Faith
Read Romans 11:25
“mystery”: Greek, musterion, hailing back to Daniel 2:18-47 in the Septuagint, referring to God reveals such mysteries. In a Jewish context, “mystery” ultimately referred to what will take place the end of time.
We see this flow in Paul’s use of “mystery” in 1 Corinthians.
- He and Apollos are “stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4: 1) and communicate those “mysteries of God” to the congregation at Corinth (1 Corinthians 2:1) concerning the cross of Christ, which is a “mysterious wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2: 7).
- By the Holy Spirit, people can know (1 Corinthians 13:2) and speak them (1 Corinthians 14:2).
- Most significantly, what will happen at the end-time is a “mystery.” “Behold, I am telling you a mystery” (1 Corinthians 15:51).
- What mystery does Paul want the Gentiles to understand?
- That he calls this “partial hardening” a “mystery” means what about their ability to make sense of fully understanding salvation?
- When “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in,” what will then happen? Why?
Read Romans 11:26-27
Here, Paul takes what took place in Masoretic Text through the Septuagint and develops it further.
|Isaiah 59:20 (Hebrew, Masoretic Text)||Isaiah 59:20 (Greek, Septuagint)||Romans 11:26|
|The Deliverer will come to Zion||The Deliverer will come for Zion||The Deliverer will come from Zion|
- Today, what is God’s “covenant” through which He takes away sin?
Read Romans 11:28-29
- Because most Jews became enemies of the Gospel, what was the result?
- Then why are they, the Jews, still loved?
- Walk through God’s calling to “Israel” being irrevocable?
Read Romans 11:30-31
- Though the human word to God is “no” (disobedience), what is God’s response back to us?
- What does this show us about God’s “punishment” in our lives versus His “grace”?
Read Romans 11:33-36
In this section, Paul quotes Isaiah 40:13 and Job 41:3 from the Septuagint.
- “Depth of the riches” to describe God’s mercy on all implies what in relation to us understanding God’s ways?
- Can we do anything to repay God back for His mercy?
What may not have been clear before, Paul now reveals through his use of “through.” Everything he has been describing about God is revealed to us “through” Christ.
- How does the Christian live his life?
The Great “Therefore”
In Chapter 12, Paul brings us to the great “therefore” in the book of Romans. This “therefore” follows his unfolding of how the Christian lives since all things are “from [God] and through Him and to Him,” flowing from the mercy of God.
Read Romans 12:1
- How is Paul’s call to sacrifice different from what took place in the Old Covenant?
“spiritual worship”: “spiritual,” is an adjective, logikos, based on “logos.” It means thoughtful or based on reason, not the emotions of the body. Yet, this is more than “thoughtful,” for it is based on who Jesus, the Logos, the “Word,” is. He is the mercy of God revealed for us. His sacrifice makes ours unneeded and, since He died for us, we now live based on who He is and who He makes us to be. Living in such a way, as a living sacrifice,” requires knowing what Jesus commanded His Apostles to teach to the Church.
Read Romans 12:2
- Who or what should shape our thinking?
- Paul says to test to “discern the will of God,” but doesn’t say how? What clue does He give us?
Only one Person was good, acceptable, and perfect to God the Father—Jesus, the “logos.” Therefore, to be transformed by the renewal of your mind is to have the teachings of Jesus, not the world, conform your mind. This is not something emotional, but thoughtful, where our Lord’s doctrines reveal to you what to believe and how to live.
Paul also sets the tone for understanding our daily vocations or callings as a continuation of our worship of God. Our Christian worship does not stop at the end of the Divine Service. Like the first 11 chapters of Romans brought out the fullness of the Gospel, the Divine Service does that for us. And then as the Gospel gifts in Romans 1-11 propel one on to live the faith-life we are live, so also does that happen after we leave the Divine Service. We continue to live out the life of liturgy in our lives as we serve others in our vocations.
Read Romans 12:3-5
- What is Paul getting at in these verses?
- In the Church, how does someone think more highly of himself than he should?
Read Romans 12:6-8
- In relation to the list in these verses, what three words does Paul use to show how the person got them? (vs. 6)
A “gift” is “grace” because another gives it to another. Notice the passive voice for “given.” This means someone doesn’t say he has a gift or decides he does, for that would make the “gift” something self-appointed and appropriated, which means it would not be a gift.
Someone from outside the person must “grace” him with a gift, which keeps grace being grace. How does this happen? A gift comes from God—through the Church—to the person.
How do we know such gifts come through the Church and not directly from God? The book of Romans demonstrates that. Paul is relaying this truth in his words through the church at Rome to the people there! The way the information came to them—through the Church, in his letter—shows that to be true.
Thus, someone doesn’t start using his gifts on his own apart from the giving, blessing, and authorization of Christ through His Church because those gifts will be used within the Church. To self-appoint and self-exercise your “gifts” would violate what Paul writes. How so? Those “gifts” would then not be “gifts” because they were not “given” but taken, not based on “grace” but someone’s own doing.
- Prophecy, according to the proportion (or agreement) of the Faith.
- If service, in the service (or the diaconate).
- If teaching (or if a teacher), in the teaching.
- If exhorting (if an exhorter), in the exhortation.
Note the direct article (the) before what was being done above. What may this imply?
- The giving (or giver) in simplicity
- The rule (or ruler) with diligence
- The showing of mercy (or shower of mercy) in gladness.