Romans - Lesson 52

Romans 14:1–15:13

Lesson 52
Watching Now
Romans 14:1–15:13

V. The Transforming Power of the Gospel: Christian Conduct (12:1-15:13)

A. The Heart of the Matter: Total Transformation (12:1-2)

B. Humility and Mutual Service (12:3-8)

C. Love and Its Manifestations (12:9-21)

D. The Christian and Secular Rulers (13:1-7)

E. Love and the Law (13:8-10)

F. Living in Light of the Day (13:11-14)

G. A Plea for Unity (14:1-15:13)

1. Do Not Condemn One Another! (14:1-12)

2. Do Not Cause Your Brother to Stumble! (14:13-23)

3. Put Other People First! (15:1-6)

4. Receive On Another! (15:7-13)

  • This lesson offers a deep dive into Paul's Letter to the Romans, revealing its pastoral aims, Paul's intentions to visit Spain, Jerusalem, and Rome, and its relevance to early Christian dynamics and theological inquiries about the Law in Christ's time.
  • This lesson offers a fresh view of Paul's theology, focusing on Romans. It emphasizes the first-century context, highlighting Gentile inclusion and unity in Christ, challenging traditional views. Gain insights into Paul's message and its relevance today.
  • Explore the book of Romans for modern faith conflicts: balance tradition with contemporary practices, learn from history, and grasp Paul's ministry and Gospel's complexities.
  • Follow along with Dr. Moo as he begins a thorough review of Romans 1:2-5. You will learn how Paul emphasizes Jesus' earthly life, resurrection, and his appointment as the Son of God in power. This lesson examines the interconnectedness of faith and obedience, underscoring that while faith initiates salvation, genuine faith inherently entails obedience to Christ as Lord, maintaining a balanced Christian life.
  • By delving into Romans 1:16-17, you'll understand the Gospel extends beyond individual salvation, encompassing God's reign over creation and His establishment of justice. The Gospel challenges worldly powers, offering hope and transformation to all who embrace it.
  • Listen along as the class discusses questions and answers revolving around Romans 1:16-17.
  • In Romans 1:18-28, you learn that all people are held accountable by God, having knowledge of Him through natural revelation but some turn away. This passage highlights the manifestation of God's wrath against sin, the exchange of truth for falsehoods, and the absence of excuses for humanity's actions, ultimately emphasizing God's fair judgment.
  • Listen in as the class and Dr. Moo discuss aspects of Romans 1:18-28.
  • The lesson discusses Romans 2:1-11, it highlights the use of the diatribe device and the transition from focusing on Gentiles to Jews. It underscores the Jewish belief in their special status and their potential misunderstanding of God's judgment. The lesson reviews the focus of the text on key themes such as judgment, righteousness, and the relationship between faith and good deeds.
  • In this lesson, you'll review the significance of the Law, notably the Law of Moses, in God's judgment. Paul stresses that mere knowledge of the Law isn't sufficient for righteousness; obedience is key. The primary message is that salvation ultimately relies on God's grace and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as human efforts and consciences alone cannot secure salvation. This lesson highlights the importance of understanding these concepts in interactions with people of different religious beliefs.
  • The key takeaway in this lesson is that while being a Jew comes with a great heritage, it doesn't guarantee salvation. Obedience to God's law is crucial, and reliance on religious heritage or rituals won't save you. The lesson emphasizes the universal human condition of being under the power of sin, and people cannot be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the Law or by the works of the Law. Only through faith in Christ are we made righteous.
  • This lesson explores the New Perspective on Paul, emphasizing that the Law was for Jewish covenant status, not just salvation. It promotes a holistic faith view, balancing vertical and horizontal aspects, Spirit-led obedience, and 1st-century Judaism diversity, enriching Pauline teachings in the church.
  • In exploring Romans 3:21-26, you'll gain insights into the relationship between righteousness, faith, and salvation. Paul highlights God's righteousness, which is accessible to all through faith in Jesus Christ. By weaving together themes of righteousness, faith, and inclusivity, Paul challenges conventional Jewish and Gentile perspectives, emphasizing the continuity of God's salvation plan while underscoring the centrality of faith in Christ for all believers.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insights into the potential challenge in translating Romans 3:23-24, particularly the term "all" and its connection to the debate on universalism in evangelicalism. Dr. Moo stresses the importance of coherence in biblical interpretation and explores the themes of God's righteousness, faith, and grace in justification. The lesson reviews the cultural background of redemption, drawing parallels with the Greco-Roman slave market and emphasizing the need to understand both the problem of sin and the Gospel solution.
  • Embarking on this lesson, you'll gain insight into the historical development and contemporary challenges surrounding the doctrine of justification. Through exploring classic Reformation principles and contemporary reassessments, you'll understand the tensions between Protestant and Roman Catholic perspectives, particularly regarding the infusion of righteousness and the role of grace.
  • The lesson explores the intricate connection between faith and works, justification, and sanctification in contemporary theological discourse. It delineates divergent views on justification, with scholars like Piper advocating for the preservation of biblical distinctions amidst modern theological trends. The lesson examines key questions regarding the meaning, basis, time, and means of justification.
  • Students in Dr. Moo's class ask multiple questions about justification.
  • By studying Romans 3:27-4:25, you gain insight into Paul's theology, where faith, exemplified by Abraham's righteousness, transcends works and ethnicity, emphasizing the universal scope of salvation through Christ.
  • Hear the questions the students ask regarding Romans 3:27–4:25. And discover Dr. Moo's answers to the questions posed.
  • In Romans 5 – 8, you gain insights into profound theological concepts like justification, identity in Christ, and the tension between present reality and future hope, guiding you to embrace your changed identity and hope for future transformation amidst life's trials.
  • Students as deep questions about Romans 5-8. Hear what Dr. Moo presents as answers to their questions.
  • Through Romans 5:1-11, you'll review the contrast between the Old and New Realms, understanding the essence of living in grace, finding hope amid suffering, and experiencing the assurance of eternal security rooted in Christ's sacrifice and God's love poured into believers' hearts by the Holy Spirit.
  • In Romans 5:12-21, Paul contrasts Adam's sin with Christ's redemptive grace, emphasizing humanity's hope and victory over death through union with Christ, while various interpretations of original sin underscore the universal need for redemption and Christ's pivotal role in restoring humanity to God.
  • Listen to the thorough questions the students ask regarding Romans 5:12-21.
  • The students ask excellent questions of Dr. Moo in this insightful discussion on Romans 6:1-14.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain a deeper understanding of the theological implications of Christ's death and resurrection as explained in Romans 6. You will explore different interpretations of Paul's language regarding the old self and the new self, considering the implications for the Christian life. Ultimately, you will be challenged to recognize your identity in Christ and to actively live according to that identity, rejecting the slavery of sin and embracing servitude to God.
  • Hear the questions the students ask of Dr. Moo regarding Romans 6:1-23.
  • In diving into Romans 7, you'll explore the Law's role in Christian life. Paul's discourse clarifies the distinction between law and gospel, emphasizing the Torah's significance in understanding divine commandments.
  • Class discussion on Romans 7:1-6
  • In Romans 7:7-12, Paul explores the Law's role in intensifying sin and contrasts it with Christ's liberation. His narrative prompts reflection on individual experience and collective identity, enriching understanding of Christian faith.
  • The class discusses the previous lesson on Romans 7:7-12.
  • This lesson covers interpretations of Romans 7:13-25; whether Paul's description is of pre- or post-conversion struggle with the Law.
  • In Romans 8:1-22, discover the Spirit's transformative power over sin, leading to a life free from condemnation, intimacy with God, and anticipation of future glory amid present sufferings.
  • Explore the theological insights on environmental stewardship, emphasizing Christian responsibility in light of Romans 8:19-22.
  • Gain insights into Romans 8:23-27, understanding destined glory despite present suffering. The Spirit intercedes, bridging current and promised futures, offering assurance amid weakness.
  • Romans 8:28 offers profound insights into the nature of God's providence and the believer's journey of faith. Beyond its surface meaning, the verse challenges misconceptions about 'good' and underscores the transformative power of God's grace. It invites believers to trust in God's unfailing love amidst life's trials, anchoring their hope in the assurance of His sovereign care and redemptive purposes.
  • Romans 9:1-5 highlights Paul's profound concern for Israel's salvation and the theological complexities surrounding God's promises. Reviewing salvation history, you'll learn that God's offer of salvation for both Jew and Gentile, fits within the Old Testament narrative.
  • Paul discusses Israel's role in God's plan, emphasizing grace over race. He illustrates divine choices and sovereignty, sparking debates on salvation.
  • Discover diverse views on election, Israel's struggle with faith, and the significance of overcoming theological narrowness in Romans 9:30-10:21. Gain insights into law versus faith in attaining righteousness and the importance of engaging deeply with Scripture for a comprehensive understanding.
  • Gain insights into faith versus works, Christ as the culmination of the Law, and the inclusivity of righteousness through Him. Embrace unity in Christ, transcending cultural divisions, and embodying love and holiness.
  • Gain insight into contrasting righteousness by law vs. faith in Romans 10:5-13. Accessibility of salvation through Christ bridges Old and New Testament teachings, emphasizing unity and continuity.
  • Gain insights into Romans 10:14-21, emphasizing faith, preaching, and Israel's reception of the message. Dr. Moo highlights Paul's use of Old Testament quotes and God's ongoing relationship with Israel, revealing the significance of faith and salvation.
  • Gain insight into Romans 11:11-15. Paul discusses Jewish rejection, Gentile salvation, and Jewish inclusion, aiming to provoke Jewish envy. The phrase "life from the dead" hints at spiritual renewal or future resurrection.
  • Gain insights into the Olive Tree analogy in Romans 11:16-24. Understand humility, faithfulness, and the purpose of warning passages in Scripture.
  • Discover the mystery of Israel's salvation in Romans 11:25-32. Paul reveals unity of Jews and Gentiles, challenging arrogance and emphasizing God's inclusive love.
  • Gain deeper understanding of Christian-Jewish ties, navigate theological challenges, address Israel-Palestine tensions, and embrace God's inclusive grace.
  • Gain deep insights into Romans 12:1-2: True worship extends beyond rituals, urging sacrificial living and transformation in response to God's mercy.
  • In Romans 12:3-8, Paul stresses humility, unity, and diverse gifts within the body of Christ, urging faithful stewardship for the edification of the body of Christ.
  • Gain insights into love's complexity in Romans 12:9-21. Paul urges sincere affection, alludes to Jesus' teachings, and prompts contemplation on love and judgment.
  • Gain insights into balancing submission to authorities with obedience to God. Understand the context of Paul's exhortation to Roman Christians and the complexities of submission, emphasizing humility, unity, and love in the Christian life within God's sovereignty.

Dr. Douglas Moo, from Wheaton College Graduate School, offers an exegetical examination of the book of Romans. This course was recorded during a D.Min. seminar at the Carolina Graduate School of Divinity in May 2012.

Please note that the audio mp3 file numbers on downloaded files are two greater than each lecture number beginning with number 15.

This transcript follows the main points of the speaker but is not always word-for-word.

Romans 14:1-15:13

A. Strong Verses the Weak in Faith: We want to talk about this passage of exhortation where Paul now addresses the situation that has come about in the Roman Christian community. There could be a number of different house churches plying for a sort of strong or even weak position. There are clearly two different groups that Paul is addressing in 14:1 through 15:13. This is a classic text on the competing of virtues of liberty and love. This is a text that Paul has prepared for throughout the letter, the theology he has provided for us. I don’t think that that this is the high point of the letter like others do. I think that is giving it too much credit. Nevertheless, there is a lot of the theology here that Paul has been talking about as we have seen in chapters 12-13, a concern about boasting, etc. This feeds into what he is now telling the Christians in Rome. Rather than going through verse by verse, we are going to take a more thematic approach. This is part of Scripture where Paul repeats himself a lot. It is more conducive to a more topical or thematic approach than some of the other texts we have looked at. You can see in verse 1, Paul talks about the need to accept the one whose faith is weak. That is the NIV rendering here. Another way to translate that would be, ‘those who are weak with respect to faith.’ So, what is Paul talking about here? I don’t think he is talking about faith in an absolute sense. When he talks about the weak in faith verses the strong in faith, it isn’t a matter of saying here are some mature and solid believers and here are some immature beginning superficial believers. Paul immediately uses the language of faith in verse 2. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another whose faith in weak, eats only vegetables. The language of a person’s faith allowing them to eat gets to the heart of what Paul wants to say about being weak in faith. I would paraphrase that as being what we think our faith will allow us to do. It isn’t a matter of talking about believers who are mature or immature. I think it is possible for some of those people who Paul calls weak in faith, might be more mature in their faith overall than some who are strong in faith. It is in terms of what we think our faith in Christ allows us to do or not to do. That is the issue Paul is addressing here in these chapters.


B. Don’t Do Anything That Would Cause Your Brother to Stumble: He tells them to accept the one whose faith is weak. Paul’s concern is for reconciliation and for mutual acceptance and for a full accounting of each other for our faith in Christ. The specific issues that are dividing the two groups in Rome; Paul mentions several: first we see in verse 2 of eating meat which he returns to in verse 6. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord for they give thanks to God and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. The second issue involves the observation of holy days in verse 5. One person considers one day more sacred than another while another person considers everyday alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. So, these are the two things that Paul clearly says are dividing these believers. In verse 21, he introduces the idea of drinking wine. But he kind of uses this as an illustration as it isn’t entirely clear that this was one of the dividing issues. Don’t eat meat or drink wine or do anything else that would cause your brother or sister to fall. I think that it is likely that this was part of the issue, but again, this isn’t clear. We also get to recognize as we are trying to understand what the issue is exactly, that at the conclusion of this section, Paul focuses again on the way in which God is using Christ, not only to serve Jews and bring them into the kingdom but also to extend mercy to the Gentiles. So the theme of Jew and Gentile relationship which we have seen throughout the letter is important here again.  The very language of weak verses strong carried a bit of an implication about which side is the best to be on. He doesn’t choose neutral terms to describe the two. The word in the Greek as well in the English has a bit of negative sense to it.


C. Daniel and Kosher Laws in Babylon: Paul never gets to a point of clarity as to what exactly is the underlining problem is. Of what he mentions, this has given rise to a lot of scholarly options here. What was the real issue in the Roman church? I think there has been a growing consensus emerging of a difference over some of the stipulations of the Torah, or what one would broadly call Torah piety. The best illustration here is illustrated in the opening chapter of Daniel. Daniel and his three friends are in the court of the king, Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. Daniel had decided not to eat the royal food and wine that was offered. He had asked permission from the chief officer not to eat the food offered. Daniel was a faithful pious Jew in a Gentile dominated context decided to avoid the king’s food and wine at the court, out of faithfulness to his God. Otherwise, he would have defiled himself by eating it. What is reflected in Daniel, we know about this from many other Jewish sources of the time; Jews living in predominately Gentile environments would be very worried about going against their own food laws given in the Torah. This could be eating meat that was killed in local Gentile shops having had contact with pagan deities. It was certainly not killed in a clean way, obviously following the Jewish Kosher laws. It was the same with the wine which was often used in libations to the Greek and Romans gods later on. Jews felt that it was contaminated by the pagans in that way. So, we have fairly good evidence that Jews living in such environments would go beyond what the Torah required to make sure they were not contaminated. They did not violate their own food laws in regards to the way they were supposed to live.


So, the scenario fits what was seen in the Roman Christian community and the way Paul develops the theology of it in the letter. We have a community that started out as a Jewish Christian community, most likely following a lot of the law. They felt no need to abandon their childhood understandings of how to live as a people of God in a pagan environment. Then all of a sudden, the Jews had to leave Rome and so what are left are the Gentile believers who now dominate the church. So, these Gentiles don’t have the same religious history and developed culture as the Jews. Why can’t we drink wine and why can’t we eat meat; what is this business about the Sabbath; all of this is Jewish stuff. So, they didn’t observe the same rules as those of the Jewish Christians. Now, after the return of the Jewish Christians to Rome; they had been allowed back in by the Emperor. These Jews now see that their traditional piety is being scorned by the Gentile believers. So, the Jewish Christians began to say that they are the true pious people; we are the righteous remnant here in the Christian community in Rome. We are the ones trying to follow God’s will whereas you Gentile Christians are following your own ways, doing things that are going to harm you. You can sense these two groups going at each other in different ways.


D. The Idea of Adiaphora: What is important to understand in regards to Paul’s teaching here is the issue that what Paul confronts here belong to a category that we call the adiaphora, things that are different which are neither commended nor prohibited by Scripture. It is very important to make that point because some interpreters have come to Romans 14 & 15 and used it with a sort basis to say that Christians need to accept one another regardless of what you disagree on. But Paul takes a very different approach to issues he considers central to the Gospel. Galatians is the obvious example where Paul talks about these people who have come in with a different Gospel; may they suffer under the curse of God. He pleads to the Galatians not to listen to them for they are putting their own justification in peril. This is a clear Gospel issue where there can be no compromise. This is a different kind of issue. One of the great challenges for Christians in our day is to know where to draw those lines. We have such a variety of Christian churches in North America where people draw those lines in different ways and places. A friend of mind from England tells a story of different taboos in different parts of the world in terms of what it means to be a Christian. One such visiting American Christian doing missionary work in Europe was talking to a Dutch woman, also a believer. The American woman was talking about things that she was doing in regards to her faith, etc. They were having a good conversation until the American mentions something about a movie she had watched the night before. The Dutch woman was horrified that she had gone to a movie, a sister in Christ desecrating herself in that way. She was so upset; tears begin streaming down her face onto her cigar and then into her beer. We are all familiar with people drawing lines in different places. In Wheaton, we don’t think it is a very good idea to smoke, but we don’t pay much attention to the Sabbath. You go about ninety miles east to Calvin where you had better observe the Sabbath but smoking a cigar in your office is not a problem. Granted the Biblical distinction between these two things; where do we draw those lines? Some Christians have a very small category of required things; a lot of adiaphora, other Christians have a huge list of requirements and a small adiaphora. Even in this room, we will have disagreement in regards to some of our different practices. So, are these things implicit and required with identifiable outgrowths of our Christian faith and the kingdom system of values or is it an entirely different matter that we can decide to observe with complete freedom.  So, the important point about Romans 14 and 15 is to recognize that it does belong in the category of adiaphora.


Yes, there are differences in attitude to many things in regards to whether it is wrong or not; some of the differences that are considered are out and out sin. What about immorality or pornia as the Greek refers to it; what does that include? What does it not include? We are told to love; what are the requirements under that? This goes on and on because we are not given those kinds of specifics nor obviously is the New Testament contextualizing within our own world in a way that would help us to figure all of these things out. There are a lot of practical issues of wisdom that come out of Scripture. It is one issue to say that as a Christian trying to live in and evangelize a particular group of people; I need to respect what their taboos and habits and customs are and fit into that. So it is one thing to say that I am not going to eat pork in this context in order to evangelize; but it is another thing to say that your faith doesn’t allow you to eat pork. These are two slightly different things. So, many of these things can be seen as an adiaphora as we think about contextualizing this text and preaching it. We need to apply this to issues in our churches where we have decided that this is not a Gospel matter; it is not something that our faith is requiring us to preach or have to live it. Any matter where people have a difference of opinion, whether it is strong or not the concern should be of acceptance and welcome giving full recognition to someone else. So, there is recognition of difference that nevertheless doesn’t necessarily divide.


E. Liberty and Love: So, Paul spent a lot of time focusing on the strong. He spent much more time talking about the strong and their need not to give up their liberty but to curtail the way they express their liberty by love. That comes back to our basic slogan of liberty and love. No other Christian has the right to take away my liberty in Christ, but my concern and love for fellow believers might lead me not to use that liberty in certain contexts and ways. Paul’s ‘bottom line’ here is not to do anything that causes a fellow believer to stumble. Don’t do anything that causes a fellow believer spiritual harm. I think spiritual harm is the issue here. What this doesn’t mean, if I am a strong believer in certain issues that I shouldn’t do something just because another believer disagrees with me. Neither does it mean that I shouldn’t do something because another believer is unhappy with me. The criterion is what I am doing, is it causing spiritual harm to that person? If it is then I need to try to curtail my liberty. However, if it is a matter of disagreement, then I don’t have to restrict my exercise in liberty at that point. The weak believer should never have the veto power over anything a strong believer wants to do. This could happen as we interpret this too strongly in that particular way. A similar point here is; let us recognize also that while we like Paul and want to be strong in our faith; we also appropriately recognize areas that we might be subject to particular temptation and be unapologetic about choosing to reframe from certain activities or habits that we think might cause us spiritual harm. We shouldn’t be embarrassed in saying that here are some things that I am not going to get involved in. I think that I have the liberty in Christ to do them, but I am not going to because I am afraid they might cause me spiritual harm. We shouldn’t let others look at these decisions we have made in a critical way or for them to make us feel less Christian than we really are. We live in a world where our history, family or simply the way which we are made are susceptible to certain kinds of sin. It is utter foolishness for us to pretend that such temptation for us may not exist and not do what we can do to make sure we avoid that particular temptation. We need to put some rules for ourselves in place. This is not to say that every Christian will observe the same rules as we do, but for me as I work out my faith in honoring God and avoiding falling into sin; these are some guidelines that I have established for myself. Now Paul is talking about our sacrifices instead of the animal sacrifices that were initially required.