This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on December 18th, 2016.
In Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome, we have the gospel he has developed over his twenty years as an apostle. This is the gospel he has been preaching and teaching as he has planted churches on three missionary journeys throughout the eastern Mediterranean world. This is the gospel that he crafts especially for the Christians in Rome. This is the gospel that he hopes to take to the western Mediterranean world, including Spain.
Paul begins his longest letter with the longest greeting in any of his letters. It is longer because he did not start, nor had he visited, the Christians in Rome. He describes himself with three phrases: 1) “a servant of Jesus Christ;” 2) “called to be an apostle;” and 3) “set apart for the gospel of God.”
This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on December 11th, 2016.
How should Christ-followers face life situations of adversity, suffering, and persecution? James offers some instruction in his letter to the predominantly Jewish Christians (“the twelve tribes scattered among the nations”) who were forced to move away from their homes in Palestine.
From this letter, the adversity that these Christians were going through included being poor, being taken to court by the wealthy and powerful, and being oppressed by landowners.
James advises these Christians to live in these oppressive and challenging circumstances with patience. Also, James instructs these Christians to frame their adversity within an eschatological hope—the reality of the Lord’s return. Might one think of this patience as an attitude of living through challenging, unpredictable, uncomfortable and painful situations with a calm confidence?
This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on December 4th, 2016.
We are not the only ones to live during times when people are divided by their differences. That describes the reality of the first-century world, too. As the Apostle Paul comes to the close of his letter to the Christians in Rome, he focuses on their “harmony with one another.”
Paul begins this passage with a reference to the scriptures that have been written down, read aloud, studied silently, preached, taught and discussed. He describes the purpose of the scriptures. They are instructional. They are steadfast and patient. They encourage and comfort. If you put it into a formula, it looks like this: Instruction + Steadfastness + Encouragement = Hope.
Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome is the culmination of his 20 years of thought, prayer, life experiences, preaching, teaching, being in conversation and receiving God’s revelation on how to explain the gospel, both theologically (relationship with God) and ethically (relationship with people, the world, and creation).
This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on November 27th, 2016.
It’s a common question. “What time is it?” A person may ask it in order to make it on time for an event or to know how much time is left before starting something else. The Greeks had two words for time. One word (chronos) was for the movement of time, and the other (kairos) was for the meaning of time. It is clear in this text that both meanings are relevant.
The Apostle Paul begins this passage with the phrase “besides this.” In general, he can be referring to his theological explanation of the gospel (Romans 1-11). This is his description of how God is at work in the world and in the church through Jesus Christ.