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12:1-15:13 The final section of Romans is Paul's moral catechesis. His teaching in this section is not an afterthought, but a practical application of the theology expounded in earlier chapters. Instructions are given on matters of worship (12:12), life in the Church (12:3-21), responsibility toward civil governments (13:1-7), and avoiding scandal (14:1-15:13) (CCC 1454, 1971). Back to text.

12:1-2 The worship Paul describes in these verses is in glaring contrast to the idolatrous worship described in 1:18-32. Believers engage in rational worship; the idolater in irrational (1:22). Believers offer the body to God in sacrifice; idolaters dishonor the body through sexual immorality (1:24). Believers strive to renew their minds with truth; idolaters only darken their minds with error (1:21). Believers discern the divine will; idolaters spurn the divine will in preference to their own (1:32). For Paul, the difference between pagan and Christian worship is the difference between a degrading spiritual free fall (1:18-32) and an ascending spiritual sacrifice (12:1-2) (CCC 2031). Back to text.

12:1 mercies of God: Divine mercy is a leading theme in the preceding chapters (9:15-16, 18, 23; 11:30-32). living sacrifice: Sacrificing the body means putting to death the deeds of the flesh (8:13) so that our members can become instruments of righteousness (6:13). Virtues associated with the body are probably in view (chastity, temperance, etc.). • The body is made a sacrifice when the eye looks at nothing evil, the tongue says nothing filthy, and the hand does nothing lawless. More than this, the hand must give alms; the mouth must bless the one who curses; and the ear must listen to the reading of Scripture (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 20). spiritual worship: Or, "rational worship", that is, service to God that is proper to man as a rational and spiritual being. There may be an implied contrast with the sacrifice of irrational animals under the Old Covenant. Back to text.

12:2 Do not be conformed: Because worldly wisdom and values are often deformed (1:21, 28), Christians must allow God to transform them into the image of Christ (8:29; 2 Cor 3:18). The grace of the Spirit enables us to interpret our lives and evaluate the influences of our culture with respect to the gospel. In all things, God's will should be the central object of our discernment, for it alone is acceptable and perfect (CCC 2520, 2826). Back to text.

12:3 sober judgment: A renewed mind (12:2) is first of all a humble mind (Phil 2:3). God has assigned: God has deprived no one of gifts to be used in service to him and others. Ultimately these gifts are meant to build up the Church (12:6-8). Back to text.

12:4-5 Paul summarizes here what he elaborates more fully in 1 Corinthians 12, namely, that the Church is a mystery of unity and diversity. While all believers are one in Christ, they are individual members with differing gifts and tasks for the good of the whole body. The spiritual gifts, though diverse, are thus complementary. Back to text.

12:6 gifts: The Greek word (charismata) is related to the word "grace" (charis). The purpose of spiritual gifts thus falls in line with that of all graces, namely, to facilitate the salvation of ourselves and others. The short list of gifts in 12:68 is representative, not exhaustive, covering instruction and practical service (CCC 2003-4). in proportion to our faith: Or, "according to the analogy of faith". Although some connect this with the personal faith of the one who prophesies, it more likely refers to the deposit of Christian faith expressed in early creeds, the teaching of Jesus and the apostles, and the books of the Bible. The Church's doctrinal tradition was the standard for measuring the truthfulness of early prophecies, not vice versa (1 Tim 6:20-21). • Traditionally, the "analogy of faith" denotes the unity and coherence of Christian doctrine. Since no tenet of faith is isolated and independent from others, the whole mystery of God and our salvation can shed light on every part of what Christians believe. This principle was discussed briefly in 1870 at Vatican I (Dei Filius, chap. 4) (CCC 114). Back to text.

12:10 love one another: In actions, not merely in words and emotions (1 Jn 3:18). Sincere and unselfish love marks Christians as true disciples of Christ (Jn 13:34-35). brotherly affection: Familial love is rooted in familial relations. Because we are younger brothers and sisters of Christ (8:29), we are spiritual siblings who should love and care for one another in the family of faith. Back to text.

12:11 zeal: Spiritual energy and enthusiasm. Christians should resist temptations to apathy by responding to the guidance of the Spirit (8:14). Back to text.

12:12 be constant in prayer: Conversation with God should be unceasing, whether in times of trial or refreshment (Lk 18:1; 1 Thess 5:17). Prayer can be continuous, too, when our work is done faithfully and for the glory of God (Col 3:17; 4:2) (CCC 2745). Back to text.

12:14 Bless those who persecute: Recalls the teaching of Jesus (Mt 5:44; Lk 6:28). Back to text.

12:15 Rejoice with . . . weep with: Paul allows no room for Christian indifference (1 Cor 12:26). United with one another, believers must extend compassion and maintain solidarity among themselves through the "highs" and "lows" of daily life (Sir 7:34). Back to text.

12:18 live peaceably: Peacemaking is part of the Christian mission (Mt 5:9; Heb 12:14; Jas 3:18). Since harmony is sometimes impossible, Paul qualifies his command, recognizing that peace cannot be forced on others (CCC 2304). Back to text.

12:19 Vengeance is mine: Reads like a translation of the i Aramaic Targum Neofiti at Deut 32:35. It is also possible that Paul has combined the wording of the Hebrew ("Vengeance is mine") and Greek versions ("I will repay") of this passage. • God promised through Moses to avenge his enemies and vindicate the faithful. Paul takes this as a prohibition against private retaliation. Christians must recognize that God overlooks no evil or wrongdoing but will exact justice on the Day of Judgment. Our duty is to extend mercy to our enemies as Jesus did (Lk_23:34). See note on Mt 5:38Back to text.

12:20 if your enemy: A reference to Prov 25:2122. • The meaning of the Proverb is mysterious, but it seems to indicate that serving an enemy stores up his future punishment so long as he continues in his ways. • Heaping coals of kindness on one who has wronged you can cure him of vices, burn away his malice, and move him to repentance (St. Jerome, Homilies on the Psalms 41). Back to text.

13:1-7 Paul touches on the relationship between Church and State, challenging every believer to be a model citizen. Since God is the author of the political order, it follows that allegiance to Christ entails reasonable submission to earthly governments (1 Pet 2:13-17). Back to text.

13:1 no authority except from God: Scripture teaches that God grants political authority to civil rulers (Prov 8:15; Wis 6:1-3; Jn 19:11). By design, governments provide society with goods and securities that individuals and families could not provide for themselves. Note, however, that the State obliges the obedience of the Christian only when it legislates in accord with divine law. If it oversteps its boundaries and frames laws contrary to the law of God, the believer must resort to civil disobedience and seek to change its laws by moral persuasion or other means. Paul urges us to pray for government leaders in 1 Tim 2:1-4 (CCC 1897-1900, 2238). Back to text.

13:4 the sword: Paul is alluding to the ius gladii (Lat. "right of the sword"), the authority of the Roman Empire to administer capital punishment by decapitation. Here and elsewhere Paul accepts that such extreme measures are acceptable if done at the service of justice (Acts 25:11). •Christian tradition asserts that governments have the right to enforce capital punishment for the good of society, eliminating its most dangerous offenders. In modern times, the practice is discouraged in all but extreme cases (CCC 2266-67). Back to text.

13:6 pay taxes: Financial obligations to the State are consistent with the Christian faith. This and other civil responsibilities have their proper place (13:7) but are subordinate to our supreme duty toward God (CCC 2240). See note on Mt 22:21Back to text.

13:8 Owe no one anything: Obligations to governing authorities (13:7) are surpassed by the duty to love others—a debt that always remains outstanding and is never paid off. Our ability to obey the commandments is possible only by the inward help of the Spirit, who pours divine love into our hearts and makes consistent obedience possible (5:5; 8:4) (CCC 1827). Back to text.

13:9 The commandments: Paul distills four of the seven commandments of the Decalogue (Ex 20:13-17) into one: love your neighbor as yourself (Lev 19:18; Gal 5:14). One's "neighbor" has the widest possible application and includes enemies (Mt 5:44) and anyone in need (Lk 10:25-37) (CCC 2196). Back to text.

13:11 salvation is nearer: With reference to our personal judgment as well as to Christ's future return in glory (Heb 9:27, 28; 1 Pet 1:5). Back to text.

13:12 the night: The present evil age, when death and darkness still pervade the world (Gal 1:4). It is essentially a time for conversion, until the unending day of eternity dawns (Rev 22:5). In the meantime, Christians must be on guard against the devil, protecting themselves with the armor of light (Eph 6:11-17; 1 Thess 5:8). Back to text.

13:14 put on the Lord Jesus: That is, renew the commitments you made at Baptism, when you were first clothed with Christ (Gal 3:27). One has to flee the occasions of sin that entice the flesh. See note on Rom 7:5Back to text.

14:1-15:13 Paul's final instructions are directed toward two groups in the Roman Church, called the weak (14:1) and the strong (15:1). The weak are mainly Jewish Christians; the strong are mainly Gentile Christians. Apparently the strong have a condescending attitude toward the weak that needs correcting. Back to text.

14:1 weak in faith: A Jewish Christian minority who maintain a distinctive vegetarian diet (14:2), observe the liturgical feast days of Israel (14:5-6), and may adhere to the food laws of the Torah (14:14). • The behavior of the weak, especially their abstinence from meat and wine (14:21), is probably a conscious imitation of biblical heroes who avoided Gentile foods while living in Gentile lands. Among those who maintained this type of Diaspora diet were Tobit, Judith, Esther, and Daniel (Tob 1:10-11; Jud 10:5; 12:2; Esther 14:17; Dan 1:8; 10:3). Back to text.

14:3 pass judgment: To inflate differences of opinion is to cause division and strife. The strong should accommodate the weak without gloating over their Christian freedom or looking with contempt on them. In this case, preserving peace is a higher priority than the exercise of liberty. The weak and the strong are answerable to God, not to each other (14:10-12). Back to text.

14:5 one day as better: Refers to the sacred days of the Old Covenant calendar, including the weekly Sabbath. These ceremonial times belonged to the Mosaic age that expired with the coming of the messianic age (Gal 4:10; Col 2:16). For this reason, they are not binding on the Christian conscience, although Jewish converts are still permitted to observe them in the earliest days of the Church. Note that Paul is not indifferent to holy days as such, but only to the ritual feast days of Judaism. See note on Acts 21:21Back to text.

14:8 we are the Lord's: Christians belong to Christ in both life and death, having been purchased at the price of his blood (1 Cor 6:20; Rev 5:9). Our highest aim is thus to please him—a pursuit that often requires the suppression of our self-interests and opinions. Back to text.

14:11 As I live: A reference to Is 45:23. • Jewish theology read the passage as a prophecy of the Last Judgment. Paul follows this tradition in an attempt to dissuade the weak and the strong from judging one another (14:3, 10, 13). Paul moves Christ into the center of this Isaian oracle in Phil 2:10 (CCC 679). Back to text.

14:13 a stumbling block: A moral obstacle that may cause the weak to fall and despise the gospel (14:16). It would be irresponsible and injurious for the strong to flaunt their Christian freedoms before the weak. Back to text.

14:14 nothing is unclean: Alludes to the dietary distinctions between clean and unclean foods in the Torah (Lev 11). For the nullification of these distinctions in the New Covenant, see notes on Acts 10:14 and 10:15. Back to text.

14:15 for whom Christ died: Since the weak are loved by God, the strong should support them, not scandalize them. Personal consideration is more important than personal convictions in nonessential matters. Back to text.

15:1 We who are: Paul counts himself among the strong Christians set free from Mosaic regulations and their claims upon the conscience. to bear with: Not just tolerate, but lovingly encourage and uphold. the failings: Literally, "the weaknesses". These are not sins, but the scruples of the weak about various foods (14:14). Back to text.

15:3 The reproaches: A reference to Ps 69:9. • Psalm 69 describes the righteous sufferer who is persecuted for his faithfulness to God. Paul portrays Jesus in these terms, stressing that Christ followed the will of the Father for the benefit of others, even unto death (Mk 14:36; 2 Cor 8:9; Phil 2:8). His example should inspire the strong to lay aside their pride and unselfishly serve the weak. Back to text.

15:4 encouragement of the Scriptures: The Scriptures of Israel remain essential to the life and liturgy of the Church, being filled with wisdom for Christian living (1 Cor 10:11). The unity of the two Testaments, Old and New, rests on the unity of salvation history and the divine authorship of all the biblical books (2 Tim 3:15-17; 2 Pet 1:20-21) (CCC 121-22). Back to text.

15:7 Christ has welcomed you: Jesus is the model for Paul's exhortations (14:1, 3) (CCC 520). Back to text.

15:8 a servant to the circumcised: Jesus mainly confined his ministry to the people of Israel (Mt 15:24). Paul is here challenging the strong in Rome to serve the "weak" of Israel (Rom 14:1). Back to text.

15:9-12 A chain of OT verses that envision the international make-up of the Church, where Israel and the Gentiles come together to worship the Lord side by side. • The four OT passages are linked together by reference to Gentiles (Ps 18:49; the Greek version of Deut 32:43; Ps 117:1; Is 11:10). They support Paul's perspective throughout Romans that the Scriptures of Israel look forward to the full inclusion of the Gentiles in the family of God. Back to text.

15:12 The root of Jesse: A messianic title for Jesus (Rev 5:5). He was expected to be a descendant of King David (Rom 1:3), whose father was named Jesse (1 Sam 16:1-13). See note on Rom 11:16Back to text.

15:14-16:27 Paul's closing exhortations and greetings. He sketches briefly his plans to evangelize the world further with the enlisted support of the Roman Christians (15:24, 30). Back to text.

15:16 offering of the Gentiles: Paul views his missionary work as a priestly ministry. His sacrifice is the Gentile world converted to Christ and sanctified by the Spirit. • Paul seems to allude to the missionary prophecy of Is 66:18-20, where God sends out the redeemed to declare his glory among the nations and to bring them back like a sacrificial offering to the Lord. Paul's expressed desire to reach Spain (Rom 15:24, 28) may be influenced by the oracle's reference to the "islands afar off" (Is 66:19), which refers to southern Spain. Back to text.

15:19 I have fully preached: By the time Paul wrote Romans in the late 50s, he had evangelized the northeast quadrant of the Mediterranean world, from Jerusalem in Judea to the province of Illyricum along the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea. Back to text.

15:21 They shall see: A reference to Is 52:15. • Paul cites the beginning of Isaiah's vision of the Suffering Servant, an oracle that forecasts the rejection and death of the Messiah (Is 52:13-53:12). News of this was expected to startle many nations, opening their eyes and ears to God's message. Back to text.

15:24 Spain: Generally considered the western limit of the Roman world. Although not mentioned in the NT, Christian tradition holds that Paul preached the gospel to the western extremity of the ancient world before his martyrdom in the mid 60s. See note on Acts 28:30Back to text.

15:25 aid for the saints: A collection was taken up among Gentile churches on Paul's third missionary journey (2 Cor 89). This was an expression of both charity and solidarity between believers of different nationalities. See note on 1 Cor 16:1-4Back to text.

15:31 delivered: Paul was warned of dangers awaiting him in Jerusalem (Acts 20:22-23; 21:10-11). Back to text.

15:33 The God of peace: A familiar designation in Paul's letters (2 Cor 13:11; Phil 4:9; 1 Thess 5:23). Back to text.

16:1-27 Some scholars question the authenticity of chapter 16 and consider it a later addition to Romans. This is because the oldest surviving manuscript of Romans places the final doxology (16:25-27) after 15:33 and because shorter editions of the letter are reported to have circulated in Christian antiquity (missing chaps. 15 and 16). Scholars of this opinion regard Romans 16 as an independent letter of recommendation for Phoebe (16:1) or a letter originally sent to the Church at Ephesus. Textual criticism gives little support to the hypothesis and at present accepts the authenticity of Romans 16 as an integral part of the epistle. If shorter editions of Romans did exist, they were probably abridgments of the book adapted for liturgical use. Back to text.

16:1 our sister Phoebe: Possibly the carrier of Paul's letter. deaconess: The Greek diakonos can refer to an ordained minister of the Church (Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:8) or to a "servant" or "assistant" more generally (Rom 13:4; 15:8). Deaconesses in the early Church assisted with the baptism of women and similar tasks. • According to the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325, deaconesses are counted among the laity, not among the ordained clergy (can. 19). Back to text.

16:3-23 Paul addresses 26 Roman Christians by name, the longest list of greetings in the NT. The etymology of the names reveals a diverse background of believers, including Greeks, Latins, and Jews. Back to text.

16:3 Prisca and Aquila: A Christian couple who worked closely with Paul (Acts 18:2; 1 Cor 16:19; 2 Tim 4:19). Back to text.

16:5 the church in their house: The earliest Christians met together in private homes to pray and worship (Acts 2:46; 12:12; 1 Cor 16:19). This reflects the similar practice of Jews before separate synagogue buildings were in widespread use. Back to text.

16:7 Junias: The Greek is feminine, suggesting to many that Junias is a woman and possibly the wife of Andronicus. It could also be a shortened form of the Latin name Junianus and thus refer to a man. among the apostles: This can be understood to mean that (1) Andronicus and Junias were apostles in the broader sense of the word (messenger, Phil 2:25; 2 Cor 8:23), or that (2) they were esteemed by the original apostles. Either way, they were Jews who became Christians before Paul. Back to text.

16:13 Rufus: Possibly mentioned in Mk 15:21 as the son of Simon of Cyrene. Note that Paul and the evangelist Mark were both writing to Roman Christians. See introduction to Mark: Destination. Back to text.

16:16 a holy kiss: An expression of fraternal love in the primitive Church (1 Cor 16:20; 2 Cor 13:12; 1 Thess 5:26; 1 Pet 5:14). Back to text.

16:18 their own appetites: These troublemakers may be (1) some of the "strong" Christians in Rome who were more willing to define the kingdom of God by foods than by harmony with others (14:17; 15:1), or (2)those who practiced some form of Christianity in a vain and self-serving way (Phil 3:19). Back to text.

16:20 crush Satan under your feet: Paul desires the Roman Christians to understand the true difference between "good" and "evil" (16:19) and so share in Christ's victory over the devil (1 Jn 3:8). • Paul is alluding to the first biblical prophecy, Gen 3:15, which promises that a Redeemer will trample the satanic serpent underfoot. Paul extends this prophecy about the Messiah to the entire messianic people. Back to text.

16:21 Timothy: A longtime companion of Paul (Acts 16:14) and the recipient of two NT letters, 1 and 2 Timothy. Jason and Sosipater: Possibly those mentioned in Acts 17:5 and Acts 20:4. Back to text.

16:22 Tertius, the writer: Tertius was the secretary who wrote the letter at the dictation of Paul. Back to text.

16:23 Gaius: One of the first baptized Christians in Corinth (1 Cor 1:14). He graciously opened his home to Paul and other visitors. Erastus: Although a common name, probably the figure in Acts 19:22 and 2 Tim 4:20. Back to text.

16:25 the mystery: Jesus Christ fulfilled the plan of God hidden away in the Scriptures (16:26; 1:2). See word study: Mystery at Eph 3:3. Back to text.

16:26 the obedience of faith: The expression stands at the beginning (1:5) and end of the letter (CCC 143, 2087). See note on Rom 1:5Back to text.

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