- ‘A Christian man is a most free lord of all, subject to none’ (Luther). What do verses 1-12 teach about Christian liberty?
- ‘A Christian man is a most dutiful servant of all, subject to all’ (Luther). For what reason should Christian liberty be qualified? What are the most important things to be preserved at all costs in the Christian community?
- If in doubt ourselves bout the lawfulness of a thing, can we do it because we see other true Christian people doing it? If not, why not?
- Verse 1. Cf. NEB: ‘Accept him without attempting to settle doubtful points.’
- Verse 5. There is no need to suppose that Paul was thinking of the weekly Sabbath here, but rather of Jewish holy days.
- 6. There is an important principle here, akin to that of verse 23b. It is that if we can thank God in what we do, receiving it as his gift, it is right to do it; otherwise not.
- The counsel given in verses 1, 2 is by no means easy to follow. What three sources of help and encouragement are suggested in verses 3-5?
- What does following Christ’s example involve (verses 7-12)? Why does Paul lay such emphasis on the inclusion of the gentiles?
- What should characterize the Christian church? See verses 2, 5-7, 13.
The epistle from 1:16 onwards has been more like a treatise than a letter. Paul now resumes the epistolary form, and there are many links between this closing section and 1:1-15.
- How does Paul in verses 15-21 describe his work – in relation to its nature, scope, power and results? How far is the description applicable to our own work in connection with the gospel?
- What matters lay nearest to Paul’s heart at this time, as shown in verses 20-25? Also, what can we learn about the importance that he attached to intercessory Prayer? Have we a kindred spirit and outlook?
- Verse 16. The figure here is that of the sacrifices of the Old Testament ritual. Paul’s work was to bring the Gentiles to God as an offering, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
- The contributions of the Gentile churches to the poor of the church in Jerusalem were the result of much labour on Paul’s part, and he looked for important results in the drawing together of Jewish and Gentile believers. Cf. 2 Cor. 8 and 9, especially 9:12-15.
- What can we learn about phoebe from her name and the place where she lived (see Note 1), from the description of her as ‘sister’ and ‘deaconess of the church’, and from the service that she rendered? What did Paul ask for her from the Christians at Rome, and on what grounds?
- Looking down the list of names, note the references to: (a) diligent service; (b) sufferings borne for Christ; and (c) Christian character. Cf. 2 Cor. 5:9, 10.
- How often do you find the phrase ‘in the Lord’ or ‘in Christ Jesus’ or ‘in Christ’? Notice also the different connections in which it is used. What significance do you attach to the phrase?
- (a) How can perverters of the gospel be recognized? Cf. 1 Tim. 6:3; Matt. 7:15-20. (b) How can we be safeguarded from them? Cf. 2 John 10; 2 Tim. 2:14-16; 1 Thess. 5:22. (c) What encouragement have we in the conflict?
- How is God described? How does the present age differ from all that went before? What is the one all- important end to be achieved? Cf. 1:5. What is the method to be adopted?
Note. Verses 25, 26. The mystery spoken of is fully expounded in the epistle to the Ephesians. Cf. e.g., Eph. 3:3-6.