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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Hundred-Ninety-Fifth (Romans Part 24)

We’re coming to the end of our study of Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome.  In the last two chapters, Paul includes a lot of things like travel plans, listing of various believers for the readers to know and welcome when they visit, greetings from other believers and the standard closing statements.  While most of these things have their place in certain types of studies, they’re extraneous for our purposes since we’re not looking deep into the various people that were with Paul or that he interacted with, and we’re not trying to figure out when or where Paul wrote this letter.  Our purpose for now is to look at the spiritual aspects of Paul’s message and his statements about how believers should live in Yeshua.


The chapter starts with a continuation of the previous chapter in that Paul says we are to be mindful of the weak in faith (Romans 15:1).  The way he puts it though, is key.  What he’s saying is that the reason those strong in the faith were challenging and rebuking those weak in the faith, and the method in which they were doing it, was to make the strong feel good about themselves.  You can take this a number of ways, in terms of it meaning they were being prideful, like they were showing they knew more, or they were genuinely trying to help but then patting themselves on the back for doing it.  Either way, the bottom line is our goal should be to emulate Yeshua (Romans 15:2-3), and He did not live to make Himself feel good.  He lived for us.


Paul quotes Psalms when talking about this (Psalm 69:9), and this particular Psalm was also quoted by John during the account of Yeshua driving out the money changers from the temple (John 2:17).  The verse Paul quotes is a reference to the fact that while Yeshua was trying to teach people the truth, in order to help them become right with YHWH, they were scorning Him (the Hebrew word for insult in this verse means reproach, which is disapproval, criticism or scorn).  In other words, Yeshua didn’t tell the people what they wanted to hear so that they would like Him, He told them what was the truth, despite how much they like or dislike it.    


Paul then emphasizes the importance of scripture in the life of the believer (Romans 15:4).  Remember, at the time of Paul writing this letter, the only thing considered scripture is what you find in our Old Testament.  This statement by Paul not only bolstered what the Jewish believers in Rome already understood and lived by, it told the Gentile believers that you can’t live your life to YHWH and following Yeshua without being instructed by what’s in our Old Testament.  That’s the same message we need to hear and understand today.  You absolutely cannot know and understand the full weight of the New Testament without delving into the Old Testament, and I personally believe you can’t have a truly deep and intimate relationship with Yeshua without doing that either.  


As Paul says, what is written in the Old Testament is encouraging, and gives us hope, and maybe even more so than the New Testament.  The reason being, as we’ve seen in this letter written by Paul and as we’ve seen in the other studies of scripture previously, the Old Testament is actually what points to Yeshua.  Without the Old Testament, we would have no confirmation that Yeshua is the Son of YHWH.  The number of prophecies that He filled, and the probability of those prophecies being fulfilled randomly by anyone other than the Son of YHWH, is staggering.  Yes, all the things we read in the New Testament about Him are amazing and astonishing in and of themselves, but when connecting it to the Old Testament, everything about Yeshua becomes too unbelievable to not be believed!

   

Paul also brings it back again to living in harmony with each other as believers in Yeshua, with the whole goal of glorifying YHWH (Romans 15:5-6).  Again, look at the New Testament and its focus.  It’s the life of Yeshua and how we, as believers, should live.  How do we know and understand our Father, YHWH, what He wants, and how to glorify Him except that we read the Old Testament where He was the dominant figure?  The place that He had recorded His instruction to His people on how to glorify Him?


Paul then gives even more proofs to the Gentile believers that scripture is meaningful to them and should be studied by quoting even more verses (Romans 15:7-13, 2 Samuel 22:50, Psalm 18:49, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalm 117:1, Isaiah 11:10).  This time, they had a focus on the Gentiles themselves and showed that they were always in YHWH’s plan.  Quoting these had the added effect of making sure the Jewish believers saw that the Gentiles had as much a right to follow Yeshua and glorify YHWH as they did.  I mean, if YHWH said the Gentiles should rejoice with His people and have hope in Yeshua, who were the Jewish believers to say or act otherwise?


These quotes by Paul are yet another proof of the truth of Yeshua since they clearly prophesy a time where Israel and the Gentiles would be united in their worship of YHWH and submission to Yeshua.  Historically, as you read throughout the Old Testament and even non-biblical writings, Gentiles were vehemently opposed to YHWH and His people.  They worshipped their own gods, which are actually representations of fallen angels, and even persecuted the Israelites because of their following YHWH.  So, how else would they have come to write of a time where these same Gentiles would praise YHWH except that they were inspired by His spirit to write what He already knew was going to happen?


In order to provide some encouragement to the believers in Rome, after not-so-subtly rebuking them for not getting along as they should, Paul tells them that he knows they can help each other learn and grow in Yeshua.  This is not just a statement to the Gentiles specifically, this is a statement to both the Jews and Gentiles, because the Jews were the ones with a better knowledge of scripture than the Gentiles.  Paul was encouraging them to help these Gentiles learn what being an offering to YHWH means by using what they knew and grew up with in scripture (Romans 15:14-16).


This next portion Paul writes is important to take as a whole because it tells us what Paul’s mission was, given to him by Yeshua (Romans 15:17-33).  He was sent to preach the gospel of Yeshua not only to the Gentiles, but to those of whom it was not yet known.  He states that he’s been focused on doing this, which has kept him from visiting the believers in Rome since they already had the gospel.  In fact, by providing his travel plans in this letter, we can see that although he was planning to visit them, he was ultimately trying to continue this mission by heading to Spain after.      


The other important thing to realize is that while Paul’s mission included preaching to those unaware of Yeshua’s gospel, that is not everyone’s mission.  Not everyone is meant to, or directed by YHWH to, travel to the ends of the earth and proclaim the gospel to those unaware of it.  He writes in another letter that we’re all given to do certain jobs, be in certain roles in Yeshua’s body, and some of those are evangelizing to non-believers but others are guiding believers or speaking for YHWH as prophets (Ephesians 4:11-13).  In his first letter to the believers in Corinth, he even made it a point to say he wasn’t sent to baptize (1 Corinthians 1:17) even though others were doing that.  


If you look at that passage, it’s very interesting some of the things he says, and it’s a caution to us today as well (1 Corinthians 1:12-25).  Not only is Paul rebuking those that elevate other believers, saying they follow those believers rather than saying they follow Yeshua, he is also warning against preaching with what he calls “words of wisdom.”  You see a lot of that today because people are trying to evangelize to those that are deceived into believing in man’s wisdom rather than YHWH’s power.  They're trying to "prove" to these people that they should believe in Yeshua.  More specifically, Paul is saying if he tried to “logic” his way into people believing in Yeshua, the true power, significance, and meaning of Yeshua’s sacrifice, His dying on the cross, would be lost to them.  


There is an abundance of things today that man has deemed we know and understand, but by believing that and proclaiming it they have blinded themselves to what’s truly going on in YHWH’s creation.  By a relatively small number proclaiming that, namely the scientists (both believers and non-believers at times), a majority of the world has been deceived into believing we have got it all figured out.  We “know” the world is billions of years old.  We “know” that supernatural events all have a rational, natural explanations.  These are things that even some Christians believe, but as Paul says, YHWH has made these “wisdoms” of the world foolish.  And if you don’t realize that, you are prone to fall for the deceitful tactics of The Adversary.  He even says that Satan’s trying to outwit and scheme us in his second letter to the Corinthians! (2 Corinthians 2:9-11)  He says in order for us not to be outwitted by Satan, we must test everything, be obedient in everything, and forgive each other.


In the final chapter of Romans, there are a lot of names of believers and even greetings by some, but Paul also includes a warning (Romans 16).  After essentially a whole letter of telling those in Rome to get along, Paul then tells them to watch out for others coming in that not only create division but also give false teaching (Romans 16:17-20).  Talk about being wise to the tactics of the enemy!  Paul is showing the believers, and us, that this is a common goal of Satan: to divide believers.  Sometimes it's through internal dissention and sometimes is from external influences.  Just as in the garden, smooth talk and flattery is used to lead believers away from the truth, away from Yeshua.  We still need to keep watch for these things today, because Satan has not stopped in trying to achieve this goal.


The close of this letter again emphasizes that Yeshua, what He did, and what YHWH’s goal was, to unite everyone in obedience to Him, was all already there in scripture before anyone actually understood what it was.  We, as believers today, just as Paul and the believers at that time, have been chosen by YHWH for this time and to know these things (1 Peter 1:2, Ephesians 1:9-12, Acts 17:26).  The question is, what are we going to do with that knowledge?!


Shabbat shalom and YHWH bless you!


-Rob and Sara Gene

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