Epistles of Thomas

October 29, 2008

Romans 13-16

Filed under: New Testament — Thomas @ 22:35
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Paul begins speaking about the relationship between Christians and earthly authority. This would be a very important question to his audience who lived in Rome, the capital of the empire. He cautions them against rebellion and commands that Christians pay taxes and revenue and also support their leaders through respect and honour. Paul then reasserts Christ’s statement that love of neighbour is the foundation for the commandments about adultery, murder, theft, covetousness and whatever other commands there might be (13:8-10).

In chapter fourteen he expands on the outworking of the love command. Christians are not to engage in behaviour that although fine for them causes their neighbour to stumble, this includes Jewish practices such as the food laws and special days. As 14:20b says, “All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.” He starts this statement with the fact that “all food is clean” so it is not surprising that we no longer have food prohibitions. However, at this point in history the number of Jewish Christians practicing their cultural norms was quite high.

In chapter fifteen Paul returns to the subject of Jews and Gentiles and provides several Old Testament references regarding the Gentiles praising God. In v22, Paul finally explains why he has been hindered from visiting Rome. He has been travelling far and wide where Christ is unknown proclaiming his gospel. Paul now plans to visit Rome on his way to Spain but first he must stop in Jerusalem to present them with financial support from the Gentile churches. Chapter sixteen includes a long list of people to greet which tells us that the church in Rome was quite large and included many Christians who had travelled around the empire. Some are Paul’s co-workers, some were in prison with him and one had even been a mother to him.

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