12/18/11 Romans 16:25-27
Leader: Pastor Biebert
Meeting Time: 8:00 AM & 10:15 AM
GOD’S PLAN IS OUT OF THE CLOSET
The Christians in Rome did not know Paul personally, except for the ones he greeted by name at the end of this letter. He had planned to use this sizable group as a support center for his push farther west, to Spain. So Paul wrote to solicit their assistance. He took the pen in hand to personally write the closing words here (2 Thessalonians 3:17-18). He wanted to make sure that whatever they decided, they did for the right reasons. At the beginning of this letter he had said, “I long to see you so I may import some spiritual gift to make you strong” (1:11). At the end of the letter he uses the same Greek words again, “to establish you.”
Why is so important for the Christians in Rome to be strong (16:25)?
Rome really was the center of things in the Roman Empire of Jesus’ and Paul’s times. Look at all the people Paul knew who had found their way there.
Are Paul’s “gospel” and “the proclamation of Jesus” the same things (16:25)? Why does Paul mention them individually?
This letter to Christians in Rome is Paul’s longest and most complete presentation of the message he passed along to people as he did God’s work. Here and in 2:16 he called it his gospel (2 Tim. 2:8).
What’s the connection from Paul’s gospel to building strong Christians (16:25)?
Earlier in this letter (3:21), Paul had explained that God had brought His plan to rescue humanity out of the closet thousands of years before Jesus’ conception. Some Old Testament Bible books like Daniel (2:18-47) use the word “mysteries” to describe special information that only God could help people understand.
4. What’s “the mystery hidden for long ages past” (16:25)?
Remember, God came up with this plan before creation, way into the deep, dark past. He unveiled it in the millennia before Jesus because sinners were in the dark without it. The Holy Spirit had the men He used to write the New Testament utilize this word “secret” to describe God’s plan. Check Colossians 1:26-27 and Ephesians 3:3-11. Even the prophets who described God’s plan to people hundreds or thousands of years before Jesus didn’t fully understood every detail of what they wrote (1 Peter 1:10-12).
5. Why is it a secret?
Luke tells us in his gospel that after Jesus came back to life He “opened the minds” of the apostles. Jesus used the Old Testament to lay out God’s plan (Luke 24:44-49). Paul revealed that the light went on in his head when Jesus Himself explained the Old Testament to him (Galatians 1:11-12). Missionaries used the same strategy when they made contacts with Jewish people worldwide (Acts 17:10-12).
6. How did God use the prophets to reveal this mystery (16:26)?
Paul’s closing thoughts are the longest we have from Paul. They reflect his special interest in non-Jews. God had always planned to merge believing Jews and non-Jews into the one group (Ephesians 2:11-18). This had also been mysterious to serious Jews.
Why did God plan to release details about His plan piece by piece over incredibly long periods of time (16:26)?
How is it possible to take sinful human beings, motivated by selfish and sinful passions, separated by racial prejudice and huge social differences, and create a vast group tied to each other by selfless love? Only God could do it in the world of the 1st century. And only God can do it today. 16:27 is saying that you can never appreciate how wise God is unless you know about and depend on what Jesus did in your place (Colossians 2:3). That’s the same thing the Christmas angels sang about that night.
Is “obey” really the best word to use to describe our response to the news that Jesus has successfully done it all (16:26)? Doesn’t that put the burden of faith squarely on our shoulders?
Sometimes it seems like there’s an alliance between hell and our society to punch holes in everything eternal we hold near and dear. That’s because there is. God gives us a powerful resource – His Bible, Old and New Testaments. He lays out His rescue plan for humanity, plus Christian tools.
1. What details of the Son’s arrival here as a human were pretty mysterious?
How can we kick up our level of participation in the publicity machine God uses for life’s most important task? Is this task more of a grim duty or a tremendous privilege? What does it matter?
How does this section connect to Luke 1:26-38? What’s the connection to 2 Samuel 7:8-16?