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).