PAUL’S ALLS (Conclusion)

Chapters 13-16 in Romans contain instructions on how to live the Christian life.   The church in Rome comprised of Gentiles had no knowledge of the Jewish law, no knowledge of the prophecies of a coming Messiah, and no knowledge about following the teachings of Christ other than what had already been passed on to them.

Chapter 13 begins with, “EVERYONE must submit himself to the governing authorities…”

13: 7 “Give EVERYONE what you owe him.”

14: 2 “One man’s faith allows him t eat EVERYTHING, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats ONLY vegetables.”

14:7 “For NONE of us lives to himself alone and NONE of us dies to himself alone.”

14: 10-12 “You then, why do you judge your brother?  Or why do you look down at your brother?   For we will ALL stand before God’s judgement seat.  It is written, ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘EVERY knee will bow before Me, EVERY tongue will confess to God.’  So then, EACH of us will give an account of himself to God.”

14: 18 “… because ANYONE who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by man.”

14: 19 “Let us therefore make EVERY effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification…ALL food is clean but it is wrong for a man to eat ANYTHING that causes someone else to stumble.”

14: 23 “…EVERYTHING that does not come from faith is sin.”

15: 2 “EACH of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”

15: 4 “For EVERYTHING that was written in the past was written to teach us…”

15: 11 “And again, ‘Praise the Lord, ALL you Gentiles, and sing praises to Him ALL you peoples.’”

15: 13 “May the God of hope fill you with ALL joy and peace as you trust in Him…”

15: 18-20 “I will not venture to speak of ANYTHING except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done- by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.  So from Jerusalem ALL the way around to Illyricum, I have FULLY proclaimed the gospel of Christ.  It has ALWAYS been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known….”

15: 29 “I know that when I come to you, I will come in the FULL measure of the blessing of Christ.”

15: 33 “The God of peace be with you ALL. Amen.”

16: 4 “They risked their lives for me.  Not only I but ALL the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.”

16: 19 “EVERYONE has heard about your obedience…”

16:26-27 “…but now revealed and made known through the prophets’ writings by the command of the eternal God, so that ALL nations might believe and obey Him- to the ONLY wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.”

This quick walk through Romans shows that Paul doesn’t use these words lightly; there may be some exaggeration in some places (“EVERYONE has heard about your obedience…”).  Probably not a true statement but it serves to make a point- that the church at Rome was well known among Christians for their obedience and they had a good reputation among the other followers of Christ.

How about us?  When we use these words are we exaggerating or drawing some conclusion that cannot be proven?  Let us choose our words carefully, for once spoken, they cannot be recalled.

PAUL’S ALLS (Cont)

We are continuing our walk through Romans looking at Paul’s use of “all” and its synonyms and antonyms and his inclusivity and exclusivity.

In chapter 9 Paul begins to explain to the Roman Christians that not all of Jews are Christians and that being an Israelite is not required to accept Christ. That theme continues through chapters 10 and 11 as follows:

9: 6-7 “…for not ALL who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they ALL Abraham’s children.”

10: 4 “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for EVERYONE who believes.”

10: 11-12 “As the scripture says, ‘ANYONE who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.’ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile- The same Lord is Lord of ALL and richly blesses ALL who call on Him, for EVERYONE who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

10: 16 “But not ALL the Israelites accepted the good news.”

10: 18 “Their voice has gone out into ALL the world.”

10: 21 “But concerning Israel He says, ‘ALL day long I have held out My hands to a disobedient people.’”

11: 3 “Lord, they have killed Your prophets, and torn down Your altars; I am the ONLY ONE left, and they are trying to kill me.” (Quoted from Elijah)

11: 26 “And so ALL Israel will be saved…”

11: 32 “For God has bound ALL men over to disobedience so that He may have mercy on them ALL.”

11: 36 “For from Him and through Him and to Him are ALL things. To Him be the gory forever! Amen.”

After Paul has explained the relationship between Israel and God and that Jesus came for all people as we’ve just read, Paul jumps into chapter 12. As an introduction to this chapter, let me just say I am a highlighter. My Bible is full of passages that I have marked in yellow, but there are not very many chapters that are highlighted in their entirety. Romans 12 is one that is solid yellow (and blue). It is one of the most significant chapters in my life and in fact I had about 4 posts on the first two verses back in July 9-14, 2017. He starts the chapter by addressing the Roman Christians (Gentiles) as brothers:

12: 1 “Therefore, I urge you BROTHERS, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God…”

12: 3 “For by the grace given to me I say to EVERY ONE of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought…”

12: 4 “Just as each of us has one body with many members and these members do not ALL have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each member belongs to ALL the others.”

12: 17-18 “Do not repay ANYONE evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of EVERYBODY. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with EVERYONE…”

These are tough instructions for us, but he does say “if it is possible.” He also says “as far as it depends on you”; we can’t control how others will react, but we can make every effort from our perspective to “live at peace with everyone.”

We should conclude this series of posts next time. It’s been a little longer than I anticipated; likely because I underestimated how much Paul had to say in this letter and how important it is to our Christian walk.

 

PAUL’S ALLS (Cont)

For the past couple of posts we’ve been working through the book of Romans, albeit slowly, looking at Paul’s use of the word “all” and its synonyms and even use of definitive opposites (such as “nothing”).  The point of this exercise is simply to emphasize that the Gospel of Christ is for ALL; Paul uses this letter to drive that point home to the Romans, to the Jews, and to us. And I find it interesting that he makes so many emphatic and definitive statements throughout the letter.

The previous posts have looked at the first five chapters so, moving into chapter six, verse 5 says that ALL of us who were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death.  That is death from sin and birth into a new life He has given us; verse 7 “…ANYONE who has died has been freed from sin.”  Verse 8 says He died this death once for ALL.

Chapter 7: 18 takes the negative by saying, “I know that NOTHING good lives in me, that is, my sinful nature.”

And we need to spend some time in chapter 8 from the beginning verse to the end so I’m just going to type them out.

Verse 1:  “Therefore, there is now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

9:  “…And if ANYONE does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”

22:  “We know that the WHOLE CREATION has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

28:  “And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who loved Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

32:  “He Who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us ALL – how will He not also, along with Him graciously give us ALL things?”

36: “As it is written For your sake we face death all day long…”

37- 39:  “No, in ALL these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present or the future nor ANY powers, neither height nor depth, nor ANYTHING else in ALL CREATION, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Verses 28-39 in chapter 8 are often quoted but they are always worth reading again and again.  It is overwhelming to think that no matter what we have done, how badly we have messed up and how much trouble we may have caused, God still loves us and that NOTHING in ALL creation can separate us from that love!

PAUL’S ALLS (Cont)

Until the very end of Romans chapter 1, Paul’s use of “all” was mostly positive. Then he turns to the darker use by referring to ALL the godlessness and EVERY kind of wickedness… This dark theme is continued in chapters 2-5 until the very end of chapter 5. Chapter 2 tells us that “God will give to EACH person according to what he has done” (vs 6) and “there will be trouble and distress for EVERY human being who does evil… but glory, honor and peace for EVERYONE who does good.” (vs 9) Finally in 2: 12 Paul says “ALL who sin apart from the law will perish apart from the law and ALL who sin under the law will be judged by the law.”

Chapter 3 shifts to the synonym “no one”: in vs 10-12 NO ONE is righteous, NO ONE understands, NO ONE seeks God. ALL have turned away and there is NO ONE who does good. Vs 20 says NO ONE will be declared righteous in His sight…Then a more positive shift in verses 22-23 “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to ALL who believe. There is no difference, for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Chapter 5 explains that sin entered the world through one man and death came to ALL men, because ALL sinned. But vs 18 corrects that by saying that the result of one trespass was condemnation for ALL men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for ALL men.”

So far we have only looked at five chapters of Romans but we see that Paul has no issues using the word all and its synonyms.  We’ll continue to see that throughout the remainder of the book.

PAUL’S ALLS

There are several definitions of the word “all”; it can be a pronoun, adverb or a noun. The one of interest for this discussion is the pronoun version: “used to refer to the whole quantity or extent of a particular group or thing” such as “all the people I met.” Some synonyms of interest include everyone, everybody, each person, and every person. In our conversation “all” can be a dangerous word and easily be overused or an exaggeration. If we are talking about people and use the word all, whatever we say applies to every person in the world. So, I’m not sure we can say too many things using “all”.

Since we can say very little about an entire population of people, or an entire lot of a product we use statistics to draw conclusions about the whole based on a sample of the people or product. Even though we can draw these conclusions, we know that not every person or product will conform to the conclusions we draw from the sample. If we add modifiers to the word all, we incur even more risk. For instance if I make a statement about “all white males….”, or “all black females…” (or any other similar statement) I have taken too much for granted with the statement. I obviously do not personally know all of the white males in the world so I have no idea that my statement is true. In fact, the probability that it is true is very very low. These kinds of statements are based on the sample of, in this case white males, that we have encountered and the issue is the size of the sample is too small to draw any kind of conclusions. But we do anyway and that becomes a “stereotype” that we assume to be true of all white males. The bottom line is we must be careful with the word “all”. Having said that and having read Paul’s letter to the Romans, I was a little taken aback at the number of times Paul used the word all or one of the synonyms mentioned above in this epistle. I think it’s worth looking at, but there’s a lot to see.

“Through Him and for His name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among ALL the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.” 1:5 Paul was God’s “chosen instrument” to carry His name before the Gentiles (Acts 9:15) and he is writing “To ALL in Rome who are loved by God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 1:7 Since we know God loves everyone, Paul was writing to everyone in Rome. Next Paul thanks God for ALL of the Romans for their faith is being reported ALL over the world 1:8 and he makes sure they know he prays for them at ALL times 1:10.

Skipping ahead to verse 16 Paul says the “gospel is the power of God for the salvation of EVERYONE who believes”. In 18 “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against ALL the godlessness and wickedness of men…” and vs 29 “They have become filled with EVERY kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity.”

That’s eight times in the first chapter alone that Paul uses “all” or one of the synonyms. In total, he uses the word or a synonym at least 64 times (depending on the translation) in this letter to the Romans so I won’t take the time to write every one of them out. Not all of the 64 are used in the definition of interest that we described above. For instance, he often asks a question and answers “not at all”. So what I’d like to do is limit the remainder of the discussion to the uses that I think are most pertinent and the ones we should consider carefully in our lives.

We’ll spend a couple of future posts on Paul’s use of the word all and its synonyms throughout the remainder of Romans.

CHOSEN (Conc)

My initial thoughts on this topic were to look at all (or most) of the uses of the word “Chosen” throughout the Bible. But now I see that will take far too long, and there is a lot of repetition, especially in the Old Testament. But I don’t want to leave the topic without looking at some of the New Testament uses of the word; that’s the plan for this post and will conclude the series.

We can read how Jesus called each disciple independently, but He said to them collectively in Jn 6: 70, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” These men were chosen by Jesus to carry His message to the world after His death. They possessed the necessary skills, fortitude, courage, and love that would be necessary to revolutionize the world; except Judas Iscariot. As unpalatable as it is, Jesus knew when He chose Judas the he would be the betrayer; but in the unfolding plan to reconcile the world to God, the betrayal was also a necessary evil that initiated the events leading to the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus reinforced that in Jn 13: 18 when He said, “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: ‘He who shares My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’” And Jesus tells the disciples in Jn 15: 18-19 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

In the account of Paul’s conversion Acts 9: 15-16, Jesus specifically calls Paul “My chosen instrument to carry My Name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for My Name.” (See Post: “Chosen Instruments” dated June 8, 2017)

Peter tells us that even Jesus was chosen. “He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through Him you might believe in God Who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” 1 Pe 20-21. Then Peter tell us in 1 Pe 1: 9-12 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him Who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.”

And that, I think, is the essence of you and me being chosen.

CHOSEN (Cont)

I had not given much thought to a “God-chosen” career. I know that God calls ministers so He chooses a profession for them if they listen and are obedient. But what about us “ordinary” people? Does God choose our profession too, or does He give us freedom to choose and expect us to do His work in the profession we have chosen?

We saw in the last post, God chose Bezalel to be an artist and to do the work for the tabernacle. God also chose Saul to be the first King of Israel (1 Sam 10: 20-21) and Samuel said, “…Do you see the man the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people?” (1 Sam 10: 24) Then in 1 Sam 12: 13 the very same Samuel says, “Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see, the Lord has set a king over you.” So did God choose Saul or did the people? The people thought they wanted a king so God chose Saul who ultimately failed in leading Israel. Then God chose David (see 1 Sam 16: 8-13).

We also see some chosen to be gatekeepers (1 Ch 9: 22-23); He chose the tribe of Levi to be priests and ministers (Dt 14: 5), and chosen pray-ers;1 Ch 16: 41 says, “With them were Heman and Jeduthum and the rest of those chosen and designated by name to give thanks to the Lord.” 1 Ch 28 and 29 describe Solomon chosen to succeed David on the throne and chosen to build the temple. In 1 Ch 28: 10 David tells Solomon, “Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a temple as a sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.”

Whether God chose our profession or we chose it, we too have been chosen; let us “be strong and do the work.”