This week has so much packed into such a short amount of time. We have 10 chapters of Romans and in all of it Paul teaches so much about how to live with faith in Jesus Christ and follow his example. Part of me wishes that these chapters were split across two weeks just because there is so much to cover and talk about. I hope that you can take the time to study this week’s chapters that they deserve.
I know that Romans in particular can be a struggle to read. There are many resources out there that can help improve our understanding of Paul’s words. You can seek resources on the Church’s official website, such as the Church’s Institute “New Testament Student Manual” which has helpful commentary and gives some historical context to the scriptures.
There are also many other translations of the New Testament that can shed light on the original meaning of the text. While the KJV is the official translation of the Church, I find it to be a bit lacking when it comes to clarity. Especially considering our modern English language is 400 years removed from the original English in which it was translated. This language barrier can give us the impression that the church leaders all spoke with Shakespearean levels of sophistication, when in reality they were normal people that were just called by God regardless of their nobility or education.
Because of that I am particular to Thomas A. Wayment's "The New Testament: A Translation For Latter-day Saints". Wayment's translation offers a more modern approach to the text that offers clarity to the more difficult to understand passages of the New Testament. The commentary is insightful and the footnotes offer greater understanding to the purpose of the text.
Watch or read President Nelson’s April 2023 General Conference talk. Compare to Romans 14-15.
Read Romans 14 and 15:1-13 as a family.
Encourage discussion about ways family members have noticed other family members or church members follow the commandments. What does Paul say about how we should react to the way other saints follow the commandments?
Demonstrate this by having each family member go through a course you setup, or performing a simple task, like making a sandwich. Note how each family member does the task differently, but they still all end up in the same place. Also note what parts of the task each family member had to do the same in order to complete the task. Discuss what the identical parts of the task symbolize (both according to Paul and to what you can think of) and what the dissimilar actions symbolize.
Read Romans 7:7-25 as a family.
Then go outside and play a game, decide what game you are playing but don’t tell anyone (soccer, basketball, tag, hide and seek, etc.). Call out anyone who is breaking the rules of the game you decided to play. After everyone is sufficiently frustrated at not knowing what they are doing, tell them the game and the rules of that game.
After you’ve finished your games discuss why it’s important to know the rules of the game. Talk about why we need to know God’s commandments and why it’s important to follow them.
Consider the historical context of the Paul’s epistle to the Roman’s. Christianity was an infant religion that was growing fast throughout the Roman empire. Romans and government did not understand the religion and it had close ties to Judaism, often it was considered a minority sect of Judaism as at that time Christianity does not seem to have established itself to the outside world as a separate religion. Tensions between the Roman government and Judaism rose as group of Palestinian Jews advocated for rebellion against Rome (this happened about 10 years before the actual rebellion in Jerusalem in 66 AD which led to the destruction of the temple there.)
This sort of tension between the newly restored or revitalized Church of God and the government (or with the general population) is a recurring circumstance throughout history. It happened with the Hebrews in Egypt, and several times more throughout Jewish history. It happened when Lehi took his family into the wilderness and his sons had to flee from the wrath of Laban. Again it happened when Nephi had to flee from the families of his brothers as their wickedness threatened their lives. And again when Christ came to fulfill the law of Moses and established his Church. Then it happened as well when Joseph Smith was called by God to restore again His Church.
Why do you think it is that these circumstances repeat throughout history as the Church is restored with different prophets in different cultures?
What similarities do you find between Paul’s advice to the Roman followers of Christ and the revelations given to Joseph Smith for us? Why do you think God wants his people to respect authority and to follow the laws of man?
How does Paul, in Romans 13, say civil leaders should act in their capacity as authority figures?
Read Daniel 3. How do you think Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego are justified in their refusal to submit to the authority of King Nebuchadnezzar?
Think about how you react when you hear of the ways other live their lives or how other members try to follow God’s commandments. As you go about your week, remember Paul’s words in Roman’ 7:19: “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for apeace, and things wherewith one may bedify another.” When you see or hear of someone’s attempt to show their faith in Christ, try to understand their place in faith and do no judge or in Paul’s words: “aFor meat destroy not the bwork of God.”