New Testament Proverbs (Romans 12-13)
Contributions made by members and visitors at the Richmond-Petersburg Christadelphian Ecclesia
Verse 1: Paul begins this chapter by using the term “therefore.” A brother once said that whenever you see the word “therefore” in Scripture, you should try to find out what it’s “there for.” This chapter is preceded by what had gone wrong in Rome, which Paul was addressing. He says “therefore” to mean, “because of what I have just said, here is the ‘bottom line.’” In the previous eleven chapters, Paul had written about the dysfunctionality of mankind, and about the righteousness of God.
The modern-day phrase, “Your body is a temple” may come from the Bible; Paul says to the Corinthians, “know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).” We are to be a living sacrifice: God does not eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats, but he wants our obedience and thanksgiving (Psalm 50:13-14).
Verse 2: There are many examples in Scripture of people who did not conform to the “world” around them but chose God’s way instead. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego come to mind, as people who would not worship Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image even if it meant that they would be thrown in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:16-18). The word “conform” means to be shaped or patterned. The remedy to being conformed to the world is knowledge of Scripture. As a caterpillar goes through metamorphosis and turns into a butterfly, it is not an overnight process, and it involves consuming the right nutrients first before a change can be made. Peter writes, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversations; because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy (1 Peter 1:13-16).”
Verse 3: It is hard to not think highly of one self; it is the human way. But we should remember who we are in God’s sight: he knows that we are dust (Psalm 103:14), but we are also his children now, this very day (1 John 3:2).
Verses 4-5: One of the concepts in Scripture that we may just read over without giving much, if any attention to, is the idea of the one body. What part is so hard to understand? Paul emphasizes this concept: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10).” He also says to the Ephesians, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in the hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all (Ephesians 4:4-6).” It’s Christ’s body, not ours. Do we look at certain brothers and sisters and say “Forget them”? Are we better off without them? Which of us can claim perfection?
Verses 6-8: We all have different talents (Matthew 25:14-30) and are a different part of the body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). We therefore each have different roles and cannot expect others to fulfill them. Some are good at Bible knowledge but maybe not too good at showing love. We’re not all robots or clones.
Some were just given one talent, and that is fine: maybe you didn’t write Elpis Israel, maybe you never taught a class (some people don’t get baptized because they think they’ll have to speak). Maybe your talent is just being a nice person. It does not matter how many talents we have, but rather, how we use them. If you’re asked to serve in some way, it may be the Lord asking you, through someone else, to use the talent that he has given you. We need to be careful as well, to not think that one talent is more important than another. We live in a society where public speakers get the best treatment, never mind anyone who does work behind the scenes. Paul puts prophecy (or what we would call “speaking”) here on the same level as ministry, teaching, exhorting, giving, ruling, and showing mercy.
Many times, we are the beneficiaries of someone else’s talent: when a well-known “speaker” comes and shares his knowledge and studies, we benefit. If we all had that talent, there would be too many shepherds and not enough sheep.
Verse 9: Love must be given in sincerity; there can be no such thing as fake love, in fact, if it is fake love, it is not love at all. Love requires us to want the best for our neighbor; to desire their well-being above our own. That is impossible to fake. The only one who can know someone’s motive is the individual, as well as God.
Notice in the second half of this verse that there are two parts: many times we may think we can “get by” just by avoiding evil. We do have to depart from evil, but that is only half of it: God wants us to do good (Psalm 34:14).
Verse 10: Paul writes to the Philippians, “Let nothing be done through strife and vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem each other as better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).”
Verse 11: It is with a fervent spirit that one can show love without dissimulation.
Verse 12: Without hope, we perish. We have the greatest hope; if it is in vain, we are of all men most miserable (1 Corinthians 15:19). Earlier in the letter to the Romans, Paul says that “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:1-2).
To be patient in tribulation means to know that there is an end, and to wait through it. God is the first one to be consulted in tribulation or in joy. Paul tells the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).” Jesus used two parables to teach his disciples of how they should pray (Luke 11:5-13, 18:1-7). James says that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16).
Verse 13: One great thing about the body of Christ is hospitality: chances are that a brother or sister could probably call any other brother or sister in the world, even if they have never met, and they would have a place to stay when they are traveling. If they are flying, they may not even get to the end of the conversation before the person on the other end asks for their flight number and what time they’ll need to be picked up. The Good Samaritan did not know the man who had been beaten and robbed (Luke 10:25-37). Under the law, they were not “brothers,” but it did not matter. We are to do good unto all men as we have opportunity, but even more for our brothers and sisters (Galatians 6:10). To be hospitable also means to extend and provide, but also to protect.
Verse 14: If you hate someone, pray for them (Matthew 5:44-48); it will be hard for you to hate them if you are asking God to help them. Humble yourself before them and speak well of them. Paul writes to “speak evil of no man (Titus 3:2),” even if you think they may deserve it.
Verse 15: Which of these is more difficult to do? We all love rejoicing and none of us like to weep, so we may say it’s much easier to rejoice with those who rejoice, but is it? To “rejoice with those who rejoice” implies that they have something that you do not have; that there is no bond, or nothing that both parties would celebrate together. An example of this would be for a single young man who sees all of his friends getting married while he is on a “dry spell.” He may even get tired after a while of hearing the news that yet another of his friends is engaged.
Everyone can relate to weeping, such as at a funeral, but we need to be careful that we do not say something wrong. Job’s three friends were considerate enough to go sit with him, but he called them “miserable comforters (Job 16:2).” Of all people, he knew how to weep with them that wept (Job 30:25).
We need to take care also that we do not go too far in rejoicing with those who rejoice; we cannot celebrate sin, we should not congratulate someone or be happy for them or wish them well when what they are doing is illegal or immoral, even if it makes them “happy.”
Verse 16: Help one another up. Stay humble, and don’t be a snob, a “know-it-all.” Paul says that the servant of the Lord “must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth (2 Timothy 2:24-25).”
Verse 17: Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, says, “You have heard it said…” followed by something such as “love your neighbor and hate your enemy” or “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth…” but then he says, “But I say to you…” “love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, pray for them that spitefully use you” and “turn the other cheek.” It is easy to recompense evil for evil, to give someone their “just desserts.” Jesus challenges us to do better, to do what is more difficult; to not seek revenge for wrongdoing, and even further than that, to do good to our enemies.
The Lord is always watching, and people may be as well. You never know when you are in the presence of an angel.
Verse 18: Sometimes it may not be possible to live peaceably with all men; but it is not an excuse to not give “as much as lieth in you,” and it does not mean that they are not your brother or sister. Sorry to use this example, but here in our own community of believers, with all the divisions, there is not really much peace.
A conservative radio talk show host said recently, “There are going to be days when you think your neighbor will be absolutely dead right and the smartest person in the world. And then there’s gonna be those days when you think your neighbor is the dumbest person you’ve ever met. But here’s what I want you to remember: no matter which day it’s on, they will still be your neighbor.”
Living peaceably with all men does not mean that you have to compromise your values or accept bad behavior. What Paul is saying is to not be a firestorm. A “still small voice” is a very powerful voice. Paul knew that brethren would “bite and devour each other (Galatians 5:15);” let us not be that way. It is serious enough that he says to the Hebrews, “Follow after peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).”
Verse 19: When you are wronged, who is offended, you, or Christ?
To take revenge on an enemy is to deny that God is able to take care of it himself. We are making a judgment call by responding with vengeance. God is aware of what is going on, and he will act in time (Deuteronomy 32:35). We are also commanded not to take brothers and sisters to court (1 Corinthians 6). Instead, take wrong patiently (1 Peter 2:19-25).
Verse 20: Again, we see the word “therefore;” Paul is saying, “because of what I just said before, do this.”
Do what you can; if you’re helping your enemy, you’re not taking revenge on him (Proverbs 25:22). Shame your enemy with kindness; sear his conscience. Abraham Lincoln once said that the way to destroy an enemy is to turn him into a friend. Many commentators have even suggested that to “heap coals of fire on his head” means that someone is so kind to his enemy that he gives him coal to help him keep warm.
21: A brother at a Bible School about ten years ago gave a lesson about
light and darkness; he said, “Say it was midnight here and there was no moon
outside, and everything in this room was pitch black, and someone came in here
and they lit a candle. That light would actually shine, you’d be able to see it
everywhere in the room. If they turned on a bright light, it would dispel all
the darkness that’s in the room. If somebody came in the door now and they had
a little box that was tightly closed, and you say, ‘Well, what’s in your box?’
and they say, ‘Oh well I’ve got a box full of darkness’–and they have; there’s
no light in there; if you were in there, it would be pitch black; they’ve got a
box full of darkness. And you come in the middle of the room and…you take the
lid off…what happens to the darkness, does it fill the room? So what’s that
telling us? It’s telling us that light overcomes darkness. You know, that’s a
golden principle to hold on in life.”
Night turns into day because the sun lights up the world. God did not create darkness; it was already there (Genesis 1:2), and he reversed the order from the beginning. Darkness does not comprehend light (John 1:5).
Verse 1: We pay taxes and obey the laws of the land, even if we don’t like them or the leader. But if we do like the leader, it’s even easier to obey.
Verse 2: The word “resist” has been used by the liberals from the moment this President took his hand off the Bible at his swearing-in. The whole objective of the political left has been to “resist” everything that this President does. They are resisting the ordinance of God. Here in this country, the government allows for rebellion; people take to the streets and block traffic and cause trouble for everyone else when the government does something they don’t like. Here in America, a lot of people are angry, and they have been for a while. They are angry at the political system, but what it really comes down to is that they are angry because they put their faith in man and have been shown time and time again that man fails. The middle verse of the Bible, in many ways a theme of the Bible, tells us that “it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man (Psalm 118:8).”
Submitting to our rulers does not mean we have to approve of or endorse everything they do or say. Many of us would not approve of President Obama’s more “liberal” agenda, and many of us do not approve of President Trump’s immaturity (such as taking to Twitter when someone upsets him, or using insults that one would normally hear in middle school). But we do have to recognize the authority and obey the laws of the land and pay taxes. God “rules in the kingdoms of men, and gives it who whomsoever he will, and sets up over it the basest of men (Daniel 4:17).” If we cannot show any respect the rulers that God has put in place, how can we respect God himself?
Verses 3-4: Have you ever slowed down or your blood run cold when you’ve seen a police car? Why? If you’re doing the speed limit, you have nothing to worry about. The more we obey the laws, the more quiet and peaceable life will be. There is no peace in running from the law. People who commit serious crimes are the ones who should experience anxiety and worry. As an example, I know someone personally (not a believer) who does not pay taxes, never has paid taxes, and has found a way to avoid getting caught, but I do wonder how this person sleeps at night, knowing that all it could take it one quick look by the IRS that could land them in really big trouble. To believers, obeying the law should be second nature.
Verse 5: We are supposed to be spotless; we are God’s representatives. How can we expect to be seen as Christians if we break the laws of the land we live in? The only exception is when the laws of the land go directly against God’s laws (such as not being allowed to read the Bible, or not being allowed to meet with fellow believers). Here in America, there are no laws that we have to break in order to obey God; American believers have no excuse. We also can’t break laws in the name of doing God’s work (one recent example was that a few people photocopied a hymn book and distributed digital copies, even though the book was copyrighted and it was illegal to make copies and distribute them, much like pirating music from the internet, but this was done in the name of “love” and “service to the Lord,” or something like that).
Verses 6-7: Peter wrote to “Fear God, honor the king (1 Peter 2:17).” Obviously, this can be applied to a President, Prime Minister, Governor, and so on. When Peter wrote that, the ruler was Nero, a wicked man who killed a lot of people just because he could. Compared to that time, we have it really good here with any President. Jesus said to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s (Matthew 22:15-22).” Solomon says to curse not the king, no, not even in your thought (Ecclesiastes 10:20).
Paul later wrote to Timothy that believers should also pray for their leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4). How many of you, from 2001-2009, prayed for President George W. Bush, or from 2009-2017 for President Barack Obama, or from 2017 to the present time for President Donald Trump? One brother wrote on his Facebook page, on January 20, 2017, “I pray that God will bless the new President of the United States, that he will come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved, and that we may be able to live a quiet and peaceable life during his term.” That prayer is straight out of Scripture, but it is one that is not said often enough. Paul said to king Agrippa, “I wish you were as I myself (Acts 26:28-29);” a Christian.
Verse 8: Some debts are necessary; this verse is not about house payments, car payments, or anything of the kind. But taking on debt can be insidious and pervasive (“fly now, pay later”). We always owe love, and it can never be paid in full.
Verses 9-10: To love someone means you want what’s best for them. If you love someone, get them into the Kingdom. If you love your neighbor, you will not kill them, steal from them, or lie to them. Love is all-encompassing (Leviticus 19:18, 1 John 4:12). Do good unto all men (Galatians 6:9-10); do not look for qualifications first. Ask not if they are your neighbor; ask if you are neighborly.
Verse 11: No matter when you came into the truth, every day that goes by is one day closer to salvation than it was when you became a believer.
Verse 12: The Sun of Righteousness is almost here (Malachi 4:2). When you see the planet Venus in the morning sky, you know that it may still be a little while before the Sun rises, but you can also be assured that the night is almost over; Venus never comes out in the morning but a few hours before sunrise at maximum elongation.
Verse 13: Walk as if it’s daytime and everyone can see you (Ephesians 5:8). Most crime happens at night. When it happens during the day, news stations even say “in broad daylight” as if it is a surprise. God is always watching, night or day.
Notice here that “strife and envying” are in the same sentence as “rioting and drunkenness.” The former two are just as bad. Another similar list is found in Galatians 5:19-21. The cure is the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Verse 14: Paul uses the title “Lord Jesus Christ” here for a reason: Jesus is the authority.
Sin is defined as “transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). We have justification if we walk after the spirit (Romans 8:1); God forgave David because his heart was in the right place (2 Samuel 12:13). Put on Christ’s mindset; his response to temptation was Scripture. Give no place to the devil; don’t walk on thin ice, stay away from the edge (1 Peter 5:8). ;\lsdpri