The Relevance of Romans 1, 2, and 14 for A Faith That Works
In Part I of this lesson, we examined how Paul used Habakkuk 2:4 in Romans 1:17. In Part II, we consider the relevance that Romans 1, 2, and 14 have (when they are considered together) for our understanding of a faith that works.
Pauline Teaching about Faith in Romans 14
In Romans 14, Paul first challenges believers concerning their making unrighteous assessments about one another (Rom. 14:1-13). He then challenges them about not being an ungodly spiritual influence on others so that they are spiritually harmed (Rom. 14:13-23).
In both sections of Romans 14, Paul stresses the importance of faith. Speaking about receiving weak brethren “in the faith” (Rom. 14:1), he contrasts those who believe one way versus those who believe another concerning some debatable matters (Rom. 14:2). In the latter section, he underscores the need for faith on the part of any believer in everything that he does (Rom. 14:22-23).
The Importance of Romans 14:9
Romans 14:9 is central to Paul’s challenge to believers to stop judging one another and to stop regarding one another with contempt (Rom. 14:10-13a). In a crucial purpose statement, Paul explains that Christ died and rose again in order that “He might be Lord both of the dead and living (Rom. 14:9).
Because the death and the resurrection are the two central elements in Paul’s teaching about the gospel (1 Cor. 15:3-5), we have a vital statement here about the gospel—Christ experienced both key events for the purpose of becoming the God-exalted supreme judicial authority over all. Romans 14:10-12 confirms this interpretation by specifying that the aspect of being Lord over all that Paul has in mind here concerns who is authorized to assess all believers in those debatable areas (as well as in everything else).
He supports his teaching by citing Isaiah 45:23 as Scriptural teaching that all will bow the knee to God and confess to Him (Rom. 14:11). All of us, therefore, will give an account to God (Rom. 14:12).
Paul taught earlier in Romans that God will judge all through Jesus Christ (Rom. 2:16); the same truth is in view in Paul’s purpose statement here (Rom. 14:9) about the death and resurrection of the Christ! Because we all will give an account to Jesus one day, we must stop judging one another (Rom. 14:13).
Only someone who knows the secrets of each person’s heart can judge them righteously—Christ is that God-appointed Judge (Rom. 2:16)! We, therefore, must diligently concern ourselves with not harming others through what we choose to do in debatable areas of our Christian living (Rom. 14:13b).
Whatever we choose to do in such matters must be of faith (Rom. 14:23) because that is the only way we can please God with anything we do (cf. Heb. 11:6). If we do things that we are unsure whether they are right, we sin.
From Romans 1:1-2:16 and Romans 14, we understand that genuine faith in Jesus Christ displays itself in our stopping our judging others hypocritically (Rom. 2:1-5) or without authorization in debatable matters (Rom. 14:1-13) and in our diligence not to cause others spiritual harm through our choices and actions (Rom. 14:13-21). Those who are just by faith must believe that Jesus is the supreme judicial authority who will judge all people, both unbelievers and believers (Rom. 2:16; 14:9-11), and live their lives as believers who are ever mindful of that truth (cf. Rom. 14:13-23).
The Significance of Key Parallels between Acts 17 and Romans 1, 2, and 14
From our study of Acts 17 and Romans 1, 2, and 14, we note many key parallels between what Paul says in both places:
1. Testimony to God as Creator (Acts 17:24; Rom. 1:20)
2. Information about idolatry being wrong (Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:23-25)
3. Explanation about the connection of God’s withholding His judgment and repentance (Acts 17:30; Rom. 2:4-5)
4. Testimony to God’s appointed Day of Judgment as the reason people must repent (Acts 17:30-31; Rom. 2:5)
5. Testimony to God’s appointed Judge (Acts 17:31; Rom. 2:16)
6. Testimony to the relationship between the Resurrection of Jesus and His appointment to be the Judge of all (Acts 17:31; Rom. 2:16; 14:9)
7. Testimony to the gospel significance of Christ as the God-appointed Judge (Acts 17:18-20; cf. 17:30-31; Rom. 1:3-4; 1:16-18; 2:4-16)
These key parallels show that testimony to Christ as the God-appointed Judge was an important part of Paul’s gospel ministry to both unbelievers (Acts 17:30-31; Rom. 2:16) and believers (Rom. 2:16; 14:9-13)! The just who live by faith must have a faith that works by believing and testifying to these same truths to everyone, just as Paul did.
See all the lessons in this series here.