New Testament Week 32: “For Those Who are Lead by the Spirit of God are the Children of God.” – Romans 7-16

Saint Paul In Prison Painting; Saint Paul In Prison Art Print for sale

The second half of Romans continues similar themes related to doctrine as the first half. We will talk more about sin, the law, salvation through Christ. We learn a lot about the current state of his audience as Paul references the Old Testament heavily in this portion of the letter. He is addressing the cultural Jews who believe in Jesus. They are having a very hard time giving up their pet doctrines, which Paul insists are not eternal but temporary with new doctrines that need to take their place.

This is a very important thing to consider in our own lives and belief systems. We need to try and understand what Paul is teaching rather than wresting it to fit our already built theology. Paul makes it clear that God changes things to fit what we as His children need and understand. Our certain knowledge of what things actually mean and whether they can or cannot be changed is limited. When our entire foundation rests upon ideas or doctrines and not on Jesus Christ, then our foundations can be cracked much easier.

When it comes to our own discipleship, we need to have open minds and faithful hearts directed to Christ. This will help us as things continue to evolve and bring the gospel to all of God’s children.


– Choosing Jesus Christ over giving in to Sin will make us joint-heirs in Eternity.

– We should not put limits on what kind of person can become part of the Body of Christ, including limits on their beliefs and actions.

– Being a member of the church, or Body of Christ, is a charge to be the most loving and compassionate of God’s children. The love that we share will help others strengthen their faith in Christ.

Context and Timeline:
– Chapters 9-11 of Romans reference the Old Testament heavily as Paul is seeking to use the scriptures of the day to prove out the gospel and the need for Jesus Christ.

– The word brothers in Romans is a Greek word that is better translated as brothers and sisters.

– Abyss in this context is a subterranean realm where the dead reside in torment or what traditionally we picture as hell.

– Altars mentioned in Romans are referencing altars of the temple where sacrifices are made, not pagan altars.

– Apostle is most often a reference to being a dedicated missionary rather than the leadership council of the church. Although the apostles did function as that as well.

– First portion of dough was the dough set aside for shewbread used in the temple ordinances. It had very sacred meaning and only priests could partake of it.

– Chapter 11 has imagery of the allegory of the olive tree which is similar to Jacob 5 in Book of Mormon.

– Chapter 12 is the first written change to animal sacrifice as a part of the Law to Christians. Paul says the old sacrifices need to be changed to sacrificing our own will and desires to God.

– Adultery is a word that actually means any sexual impropriety. Riotous Extravagance is better translated as drunken partying.

– It is important to remember how important clean and unclean foods were to the Jews. It was a fundamental part of their identity as the children of Abraham and the chosen people of God.

– Illyricum is the location of modern Croatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Montenegro. We know very little of Paul’s journeys to those areas and to Spain.

– Christians were considered a branch of Judaism not a separate religion at the time of Paul’s writings. It functioned as a separate group but the adherents considered them more complete Jews and additions to the House of Israel. The complete separation happens in the century after the apostles death.

History About Epistle:
The most unique part of Paul’s epistle to the Romans is that he had not visited Rome yet. In all of his other epistles he is writing to people and groups with whom he had preached and built the church. However, in Rome, he appeared to have enough friends and contacts that he could write them a letter as well. It appears that many in Rome had been critical of his message preaching among the Gentiles, particularly they felt like he had condoned the dismissal of following the Law of Moses. Paul’s letter seems an effort to explain his teachings and soften them to him for when he does visit. This might explain why it is so much longer than other letters.

A central issue that has been discussed in other posts is the conflicting beliefs and requirements that were being introduced to the church. Jewish born converts were required to follow the Law of Moses and much of its oral law, things like only eating kosher food, circumcision, and Sabbath rules. While Gentile converts were not required to follow those, but there were other deeper issues like Jews believed their salvation was their birth into Abraham’s lineage and covenant, but the new ideas was that salvation was through faith in Jesus Christ, baptism, and all that was taught as truth by the new apostles. I chuckle to think what it would be like in the modern church if it were formal that people who were born in the church had to follow different requirements than converts. Anyway, this was deeply serious issue that was intensifying as the church was growing.

Rome is split into 4 major sections
Chapters 1-4 – Paul’s Thesis Statement – Justification through Faith in Christ
Chapters 5-8 – Justification and Salvation
Chapters 9-11 – Adoption in the House of Israel
Chapters 12-16 – Exhorting to be Kind, Loving, and Accepting in the Church

Doctrinal Teachings:

  • Lower and Higher Law (Chapter 7-8)
    • Paul goes deeper into the purpose of the Law, but calling it temporary for mortality. It’s purpose is to bring sin into the world so there is opposition. However the Law can change and will change as we as people change.
      • This does not mean the Law is bad, it is holy, good, and a righteous endeavor.However, it is the cause of our failures and so it is directly tied to sin. Our nature is to need the Law because we generally desire the opposite of what is holy and spiritual, so the Law helps us know what to work on.
      • That conflict puts us in a place where if we choose to need Jesus Christ where we will seek His help.
      • When we make the choice to believe and need Jesus Christ then, even when we fail and sin, Jesus Christ will send the Spirit to change us, guide us, and give us a higher Law to live
      • If we follow the Spirit, even while failing, we will become joint-heirs of all that Jesus will inherit from God the Father. This is the blessing of taking on the cross of belief, repentance, and following the Spirit.
      • “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God”
      • Having the Spirit and faith in Jesus Christ brings a joy and confidence that we can endure any opposition.
  • Adoption into House of Israel (Chapter 9-11)
    • Paul goes to great lengths to emphasize how important the Law, the prophets, the revelations, the temple ordinances, covenants and promises are to Israel. We likewise must not be lost on their importance when we are focusing on Grace and Jesus Christ.
      • It is important to consider, however, all of the people who lived and will live outside of that covenant. That is why Jesus Christ is necessary.This is one of the most powerful beliefs of the Restored Church in modern times. That all people can be saved, not just those who were fortunate to be born, or run into the gospel while living. Paul then tackles the real problem that we all face. If someone lived their whole life outside the gospel and then accepts right at the end of their life, or even after this life, how is it fair that they get the same blessings.
      • Paul rejects fairness in our framework. He turns fairness upside down by saying how is it fair that people who are born into the covenants are saved and others who were raised completely differently are denied.
      • Paul teaches us that if we believe in Jesus Christ enough to use words to declare our faith that we will likely be saved. Not because the declaration is key to salvation, people can certainly declare who do not believe, but that if our faith is motivating us to change then our words will be a window into that realization.
        • Words are powerful, not just words of declaration, but words of how we treat each other. Gentiles are therefore adopted into the covenants and made the same as those with the birthright.
        • Paul knows that this idea will offend and push Jews out of the gospel. He hopes that as the Gentiles thrive and manifest the blessings of the Lord that this will bring Israel back to having faith in Jesus Christ and quotes scriptures saying they will eventually come around.
  • Lived Christianity and Church Membership (Chapter 12-15)
    • Sacrifice
      • To make the Body of Christ work we must all be willing to give our talents and who we are to each other. That is what makes us strong and closer to Christ, unity and love.
    • Christian Life
      • Genuinely love each other
      • Try to avoid evil and celebrate the good
      • Honor and celebrate each other, including differences.
      • Rejoice and Mourn with those who rejoice and mourn.
      • Do not be haughty but serve each other in the lowliest of things.
      • Do not gossip, or give retribution when bad things are done to you.
      • Trust God and try to live peaceably with all people, not seeking to condemn them but love them and bless them.
      • Live in harmony with the government, seeking to be involved but follow the laws.
    • Love one Another
      • We do not owe each other anything except to love each other. That genuine love is the fulfillment of much of the Law.
    • Take on the Responsibility
      • Be a Christian all the time, not just when it is convenient.
    • Do Not Judge
      • Do not condemn others who are weak (we all are.)
      • Do not contentiously debate disagreements in doctrine of policies.
        • We must let the path to Jesus settle things in our own minds personally.
    • Try Not to Offend Others, but seek to Lighten their Burdens
      • Think about our words before we teach them, we have to try not to cause stumbling blocks for others faith. Instead we should anticipate their concerns and try to help lighten their burdens and build their faith.
      • The Spirit working in people is what changes them, not our opinions about how they or others should live or believe.
      • We should, when our faith in Christ is solid, seek to build others up. Engage with the margins and help them come closer to Jesus.
    • Everyone should be accepted into the Gospel
      • Welcome everyone and let the gospel work within them. Then we will rejoice together in the Lord.
    • It isn’t Going to be Easy
      • We are all good inside our hearts and we are all going to struggle in these efforts. That is why love and compassion matter so we can do this all together. Having faith and being obedient does not make things easier. However, those things coupled with helping each other makes our joy, hope, and strength greater.
  • Concluding Doxology (Chapter 16)
    • “To Him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery … according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith.”
      • Paul concludes with his parting doxology or prayer to God of what we should learn. He wants us to know that the strength and desire to be obedient comes from our faith and the Grace of Jesus Christ, not the consequences of the Law. Even the consequences of the Law (sin, punishment, etc.) are only there to drive us back into the arms of Jesus Christ so we can increase our faith and receive Grace and strength to be obedient.
    • This is something powerful to think about and pray about as we consider our own relationship with Jesus Christ, our relationship with the Church, with the Law, and with our own weakness and sin.

Key Moment or Scripture: Romans 8:12-17
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 
13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 
16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 
17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Aside from the doctrinal framing of our eternal destiny to inherit all the God has with Jesus Christ. These scriptures teach us two very important things.

1. Being the children of God means specifically developing a relationship with God. We must seek Him, try doing what He wants and when we fail, seek His help. It requires real humility and desire that comes from admitting we are all broken. These conditions bring the Spirit into our lives and that Spirit connects us with God. The connection, no matter how short in duration, is what strengthens our relationship with our Father.

2. Once we connect with God, then we go about connecting and loving others and the connection with God becomes even stronger. This loving and ministering to others is what brings us the closest to God because we feel what He feels, and the love that grows in us helps us feel the glory that God feels. Jesus Christ is our example and our partner in this journey. When we love and minister then we feel the Holy Spirit.

Having a relationship with God and knowing that He loves us is so important to our lives. I cannot overstate it. However, as Paul teaches in many other spots in Romans, focusing on love, faith, and justification through Christ is not an excuse to cast out the Law and to remove the importance of trying to keep the commandments. Our growing relationship with God means we love Him more and if we love God we will have increased desire to keep the commandments. Not out of justification, but out of love and faith.

Final Thoughts:
Romans is probably the most developed theological letter we have from Paul, but it is also challenging to traditional Latter Day Saint thinking. We jump into Corinthians next week and it is also very theological, but probably more familiar to Latter Day Saints. I love Paul and his letters and I hope that you find value in this part of the year’s study.