October 15, 2017 – Romans 12:1 – 15:13
As we move into this section of the letter, we read Paul’s encouragement to his readers to live the new life (=righteousness) they have received from Christ’s atoning, liberating work (Romans 3:21-8:39). In contrast to offering dead animals for sacrifice, believers are urged to use their bodies as living sacrifices to serve humbly in the church and society with genuine love for one another and with respect for authority. In the community of God’s people, the strong and the weak are called to welcome one another, looking out for each other without favoritism. In that way, they will join in a beautiful chorus praising God.
October 16 – Romans 15:14 – 16:27
Here we see Paul’s desire to enlist the Roman churches to help him do missionary work also in Spain. He wants everyone to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Finally, chapters 15 and 16 reflect the mutual love and concern that binds Christians together in the one family of God.
October 17 – Ephesians 1:1 – 3:21
This letter begins in the typical fashion – author, recipients, greetings, doxology to God in place of the usual thanksgiving, followed by Paul’s prayer for his readers. What strikes you about this opening chapter? While it follows the standard approach, it seems to have a different tone to it. It’s almost lyrical in its form. How do you account for that? What transformation does grace effect in the life of God’s people as described in chapter two? How did God’s grace impact the life of the Apostle Paul? What’s Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians and us, his latter day readers?
October 18 – Ephesians 4:1 – 6:24
The second half of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians applies the soaring truth of God’s grace to the down-to-earth everyday lives of His people. According to 4:1-16, what should characterize the inter-relationships of God’s people? What gifts has Christ given to the church to help make it happen? What needs to instruct our minds so that we do not do that which is divisive and destructive of community? (see 4:17-5:21) What example should we follow? What motivates us to do so? When we follow that example, what will likely result? Paul then gives specific advice for different relationships (5:22-6:9). What enables you to be strong in the Lord? (6:10-18)
October 19 – 1 Timothy 1:1 – 3:16
How would you summarize the advice the apostle Paul gives to Pastor Timothy who is serving the church(es) in Ephesus (1:3)? What comes through in Paul’s reference to himself in 1:12-17, as he reflects on how he became an apostle? Note what underlies Paul’s encouragement to pray for all people (2:1-8). Chapter 3:1-13 provides good guidance for those in leadership positions in the church. Does 3:15’s comments about “behaving in the household of God” perhaps shed some light on Paul’s comments in 2:8-15? If so, what?
October 20 – 1 Timothy 4:1 – 6:21
What concern does 1 Timothy 4:1-5 address that still surfaces in our time? (Recall how Paul addressed it in Colossians 2:16-23.) What personal advice does Paul share with young Pastor Timothy in 4:6-16? In Chapter 5, it appears that Paul is advising Timothy how to deal with widows – whether they should be enrolled in an order of widows or not (vv. 3-16), and then in 5:17-6:2, with elders and slaves. You can sense the concern that our behavior not undercut our witness. How can Paul’s advice in 6:3-10 help us today? doesn’t 6:17-19 dovetail with this? Because of the temptations that come with prosperity, what does Paul urge Timothy to do?
October 21 – Titus
As one reads this letter, Paul leaves the impression that our conduct and behavior have a lot to do with ow the good news of Jesus Christ (see especially 2:11-14, 3:4-7) is received – and also that the Gospel should result in people who are “zealous for good works” (2:14) and believers should “devote themselves to good works” (3:8). We are to do them, not to get saved, but because “we have been saved.” Surely a timely message for the church in our time too!