This study was used each day as we did group devotional time every morning while on mission with Hands and Feet Honduras in July 2016.
English Standard Version
1 Brothers,[a] my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.[b]
So Paul, who used to be the Saul that murdered Christians for their beliefs as a zealous Jewish Pharisee, has completed some missionary journeys from Jerusalem to Rome and back, establishing new churches. We believe that he wrote this letter in about 57 AD, or about 20-25 years after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension. This takes place most likely while Paul is visiting his favorite church which he planted in Corinth. Around the world, Buddhism is spreading to China. In the Roman Empire, Nero has just assumed the throne as Caesar after Claudius’ wife poisoned him. And in just a few years the great fire of Rome which precipitated the beginning of the end of Rome was blamed on Christians, who were still a small odd sect of a new religion. In fact, the earliest of the synoptic gospels written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John won’t be started for 3 more years. So now that you know a little bit about the time and events surrounding this letter, lets look at its contents.
In this passage we see Paul continuing his discussion from Chapter 9. He is calling out the Jews as legalistic rule creators and as hardly rule followers. They sought to set up fences around God’s declared sins in order to prevent themselves from sinning. In doing so they set up a religion of rules and regulations instead of focusing on a repentant and right relationship with God himself. He is also simultaneously discussing the fact that there was a problem between Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome. The Jews claimed that since they were following the Jewish traditions along with the new ways of Jesus that they were more Christian than the Gentiles. The Gentiles claimed that since they were not entangled in the a Jewish tradition and were only and solely saved by their faith in Jesus and not by their actions that they were more Christian. So here in this passage Paul is stating that Jesus came to end the law. Does that mean we no longer need to follow the law? No. It’s more about the reason behind the law. Before Jesus death and resurrection, the Jews had to follow the Mosaic law and the sacrificial practices of Leviticus in order to connect with God. The temple in Jerusalem was the location of sacrifices for the Jews from the time it was built until the moment of Jesus’ death. They brought animals each sabbath to sacrifice as offering and atonement, or substitution, for their sins. Then once a year, every year, the high priest was to go behind the veil, into the holy of holies where God’s presence dwelled on earth, and sacrifice for the entire Jewish people’s sins. At the moment of Christ’s death that veil ripped from top to bottom. This signified the end of the dwelling of God in only the holy of holies as well as the need for a high priest to sacrifice on behalf of the people any longer. In fact, although the Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah, they stopped sacrificing in the temple after the veil was torn and indefinitely after the temple was destroyed. Jesus had become the ultimate sacrifice, the high priest, and the savior of the world in one fell swoop.
How do we act like the Jews sometimes in our Christian walk?
How do we act like the Gentiles?
What ways do you find yourself pointing out the sin or shortcomings of others?
If you are honest with yourself, what are your sins and shortcomings?
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