Sermon for Sunday, August 28, 2022

Urge Along

Romans 16:17–20 (NIV): 17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. 19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.

20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

The final chapter gives a final summary for the entire book.  Paul mixes commendations, listing those who have helped the cause of the church.  Some of those people held important positions within the city itself, like Erastus. 

  • Personal Appetite compared with Serving
  • Self-centered or Self Denial?
  • Manipulative or Reconciler?
  • Remember, reconciliation literally means “to be at peace” or “as one”!
  • The whole book of Romans is summed up in these three verses.  It is this statement that leads to the whole letter to the Romans.  It is as if we need to reread the who Book of Romans again, so that, we can put the context into what Paul is talking about.  Paul is concerned about “people” who are causing divisions and persuading people to live contrary to the Gospels.  Therefore, Paul was so eager to make it to Rome as he did not plant this church!  However, someone went there with the genuine Gospel about Jesus, and this gave birth to the church in Rome.  If you are a Catholic, you are taught that this was Peter.  Indeed, this is plausible as it says in Acts:
    • Acts 12:17 (NIV): 17 Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place.
    • However, it does seem odd that Peter would go to Rome after he basically broke out of prison.
  • I suggest a more obscure person was the cause of the Roman church.  Look here in Acts:
    • Acts 6:8–15 (NIV): 8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.

11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”

12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”

15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

  • Chapter 7 has Stephen explaining the prophecies of the Old Testament and comparing them with the life and teachings of Jesus.  This passage of Scripture is right in between people arguing and fighting with each other.  Stephen is stoned to death because of this “blaspheme” yet he was peaceful in his actions.  Now, the Synagogue of Freedmen was a place of “freed slaves” of the Roman Empire.  These were Jews from ALL over the place, from Egypt (Alexandria), Libya (Cyrene), Middle East (Asia), and Greece (Cilicia).  These are all places that once were controlled by the Greek Empire and are now part of the Roman Empire.
  • These men owed allegiance to Rome because they were once slaves by Rome gave them their freedom.  These freedmen had a positive attitude about Rome.
  • However, Caesar Claudius was always suspicious of the Jews.  In the year 49 AD, Claudius made an edict to forbid Jewish assembly within the city of Rome.  His predecessor, Caesar Tiberius often pushed the Jewish people out of Rome because of his suspicions against them.  So, this letter is written after the Jewish expulsion, meaning this is one church full of Judeo-Christians and then the former “pagan” Christians.
  • Priscilla and Aquilla are missionaries that end up being the product of Claudius’ edict, initially being cast out of Rome and ended up in Corinth.  They were able to return to their home in Rome as Paul make mention of their names in Romans 19:3-4.  Paul was a close friend, and one could make an accurate assumption on how Paul, who had yet to be in Rome, knew what was going on in Rome. 

THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS!

  • …their own appetites (selfish)
  • …smooth talk (manipulative)
  • …flattery (not genuine)
  • …wrong spirit (not the Holy Spirit)

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