Week of April 14 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: Romans 14:22-23

The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. 

Reflect: What do you think Paul meant when he wrote, “Do you have a conviction? Keep it to yourself before God”? What do you think Paul means by a “conviction”?

Consider: The final clause of v. 23 (“Everything that does not come from faith is sin”) is applicable on a much wider scale than the immediate context. Whatever is done without the conviction that God has approved it is by definition sin. God has called us to a life of faith. Trust is the willingness to put all of life before God for his approval. Any doubt concerning an action automatically removes that action from the category of that which is acceptable. This principle will be of special help to the Christian in what is sometimes called the “gray area.” If it is gray to you, it is wrong—not in itself necessarily but for the one who is considering it.5

Respond: How could someone condemn themselves by the things they approve? What are some things in your life you might need to be more aware of as potential stumbling blocks?

5 Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 258–259.


Week of April 14 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.  

Reflect: Who encourages you regularly? Who do you seek out to encourage?

Consider: Help is a literal equivalent for Paul’s metaphorical “build one another up”. Both verbs, encourage and help, suggest continued action over a period of time, and this is made explicit by the following words, just as you are now doing. This clause may be rendered as “that is, of course, just what you are now doing,” or “you are, of course, doing just that.”4

Respond: What are some practical ways we encourage each other to live for Christ as we wait for His return? Accountability is one way that Christians “keep awake” and progress in godly character. Have you ever considered forming accountability with other believers? What might this look like in your own life?

4 Paul Ellingworth and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on Paul’s Letters to the Thessalonians, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1976), 114.


Week of April 14 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: Romans 14:16-21

So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 

Reflect: What is Paul’s primary point in this passage? How do we distinguish between a conviction and a preference?

Consider: Paul is moving toward a conclusion in light of what he has just stated. And the conclusion is that the building up of the church—peace and … mutual edification—is the goal. Oikodome—the act of building up, edification, strengthening; a building—is an oft-employed theme of the apostle in his letters. If anything, it can be said that the apostle Paul loved the church, the body of Christ. After all, it was the church that was the great mystery revealed to him, a mystery hidden from the Old Testament saints. It was the church that he set out to destroy as a zealous Pharisee. And it was the church to which he had given the rest of his life after being confronted by its Head on the road to Damascus.3

Respond: Is there ever a time we ought to be vocal about minor issues such as eating and drinking? If so, when, and what might that entail? What do you think it means to “make your brother stumble”?

3 Kenneth Boa and William Kruidenier, Romans, vol. 6, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 427.


Week of April 14 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: 1 Corinthians 8:7-13

However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.  

Reflect: How are the issues surrounding things like what we eat, drink, or watch on TV different than issues surrounding moral absolutes? What approach do you tend to take toward things that may fall into a “gray area”?

Consider: The word conscience simply means “to know with,” and it is used thirty-two times in the New Testament. Conscience is that internal court where our actions are judged and are either approved or condemned (Rom. 2:14–15). Conscience is not the law; it bears witness to God’s moral law. But the important thing is this: conscience depends on knowledge. The more spiritual knowledge we know and act on, the stronger the conscience will become.2

Respond: How do we demonstrate with our actions that we consider the spiritual health of the body more important than exercising our rights? How can you ensure that you aren’t becoming a stumbling block to others?

2 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 59.

Week of April 14 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: Romans 14:19

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.  

Day 1 Read: Romans 14:13-15

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.  

Reflect: What advice does Paul give for how we can show genuine love to our brothers and sisters in Christ?

Consider: Paul’s opening sentence is both the final charge on the previous subject and the introduction to the new one: Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on (krinōmen, “condemning”) one another (pres. tense subjunctive, “no longer let us keep on judging or condemning one another”). Instead a Christian should judge himself and his actions so that he does not place a stumbling block (proskomma, lit., “something a person trips over”; cf. 1 Cor. 8:9 and comments on Rom. 14:20–21) or obstacle (skandalon, lit., “trap, snare,” and hence “anything that leads another to sin”; cf. 16:17) in his brother’s way (lit., “to the brother”).[1]

Respond: Do you think that criticism is always unhealthy? When can it be a good thing? What is the difference between good and bad criticism? How can love for others help us in disagreement?

[1] John A. Witmer, “Romans,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 493.


Week of April 7 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: Matthew 7:1-20

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! 12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. 

Reflect: As we judge others, what sins may take root in our hearts and minds that merit God’s judgment? What does Jesus’ analogy reveal about the way sin compromises our vision and perspective? What test did Jesus give us to identify false teachers? How can we properly apply this test without falling into the judgmental attitude Jesus warned against in Matthew 7:1-5?

Consider: Since there are false prophets in the world, we must be careful of deception. But the greatest danger is self-deception. The scribes and Pharisees had fooled themselves into believing that they were righteous and others were sinful. It is possible for people to know the right language, believe intellectually the right doctrines, obey the right rules, and still not be saved. Jesus used two pictures to help us judge ourselves and others. 5

Respond: Consider the ever-present discomfort that would result from harboring a plank in your eye. What personal pain and blindness would you have to try and ignore? What could be the danger of doing so? What would you include as examples of the “good fruit” to look for in a good teacher’s or leader’s life?

5 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 30.


Week of April 7 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Romans 14:7-12

For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. 10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. 

Reflect: What do you think Paul means by “none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself”? How does that make a difference in how we treat one another?

Consider: “None of us lives to himself alone” (v. 7) often has been understood in the sense of John Donne’s “No man is an island.” Paul’s statement, however, is not a sociological observation regarding the unity of the human race. What he was saying was that all believers live out their lives accountable to God. Decisions about such matters as special days and eating meat are not made in isolation but in accordance with the will of God as understood by the individual. Even in death believers maintain their relationship to God. To live means to honor the Lord. To die is no different. Whether we live or die we belong to the Lord (cf. 1 Thess 5:10). Since each believer belongs to God, it is out of place for any to question the decisions of another in matters not central to the faith.[1]

Respond: How can being aware of our own accountability to God help temper our judgments against our brothers and sisters?

[1] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 253.

Week of April 7 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: Romans 14:5-6

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.   

Reflect: Why do you think celebrating days might have been a big issue in the church in Paul’s day? Why would what someone ate make a big difference to people in the church?

Consider: Both parties are supposed to be equally desirous of serving God. The eater of whatsoever is set before him is so, as is shown by his thanking God for it—observe “for he giveth,” etc.—and no creature of God can be polluting “if received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim. 4:5); the abstainer gives thanks too; and so his dinner of herbs is also hallowed to him. (Though it is not necessary to confine the thought to the practice of saying grace before meat, this is doubtless in view as expressing the asserted thankfulness. For proof of the custom, cf. Matt. 15:36; Acts 27:35; 1 Cor. 10:30; 11:24; 1 Tim. 4:4, 5.) The general principle on which, in eating and drinking, as in all beside, Christians are of necessity supposed to act, and which both parties are to be credited with desiring to carry out, is set forth in vers. 7, 8, 9, which follow.[1]

Respond: How can either eating or not eating something give glory to God? How can we guard ourselves against being judgmental of others in their personal decisions?

[1] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., The Pulpit Commentary: Romans, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 410.

Week of April 7 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: Galatians 4:8-14

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

12 Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. 13 You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, 14 and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. 

Reflect: How did Paul contrast the Galatians’ lives before Christ and their lives after coming to Christ?

Consider: On his initial preaching visit to Galatia, the Galatians had embraced him warmly. Now Paul appeals to that reception and the resulting relationship to motivate them to return to grace. Paul had become like the Gentiles by rejecting the Jewish law as a way to right standing with God. Now he challenges the Galatian Gentiles to become like him by also rejecting legalism. The irony of this is that the Galatians were returning to legalism after their conversion to Christianity.[1]

Respond: What was Paul asking in his rhetorical questions in verse 9? How would you respond if you were asked the same thing?

[1] Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 51–52.


Week of April 7 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: Romans 14:10-12

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. 

Day 1 Read: Romans 14:1-4

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.  

Reflect: What does Paul command us NOT to do as we relate to one another, especially those who are weaker in the faith? What are some examples of opinion-based quarrels we often have within the church?

Consider: The focus in these verses is on him whose faith is weak (lit., “the one being weak in faith”), which appears in the emphatic first position in the sentence. Paul commanded believers to accept (pres. middle imper., “keep on taking to yourselves”; cf. 15:7) such a person, without passing judgment on disputable matters (lit., “but not unto quarrels about opinions”). A believer with certain scruples is not to be welcomed into the fellowship with the intent of changing his views or opinions by quarreling with him about them.[1]

Respond: What steps can you take to assess whether your thoughts about certain things are grounded in scripture truths versus personal preference opinions? Pray that God will reveal these to you and that He will give you a Spirit of cooperation with those you might have differing opinions.

[1] John A. Witmer, “Romans,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 492.

Week of March 31 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.  

Reflect: What do you make of Paul’s instruction in verse 11? Is this characteristic of most Christians you know? Why or why not?

Consider: Paul did not encourage Christians to be social revolutionaries. In fact, the missionaries denied such charges when they were leveled against them (Acts 17:6–9). Earthly governments were, after all, part of the temporal economy of God (Rom 13:1–7). They were a part of the old world that was passing away, but it was not Paul’s intent that the church disrupt society or overthrow governments. Rather, he encouraged Christians to be good citizens and exemplary members of their families and of their society but to do so in a manner consistent with the teachings of Christ.5

Respond: Do you struggle with apathy, restlessness, meddlesomeness, or idleness in your life and your work? Is there anything you need to change in light of these verses? Why is the life we lead before those outside of the faith important to God? What does this mean for our lives at the places we work?

5 D. Michael Martin, 1, 2 Thessalonians, vol. 33, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 138.


Week of March 31 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Ephesians 5:14; Isaiah 51:17; 52:1; 60:1; Malachi 4:2

 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Isaiah 51:17; 52:1; 60:1

Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the Lord the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering.

Awake, awake,  put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

Malachi 4:2

But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.

Reflect: What common phrase is found in these passages?

Consider: When you think of light, you think of waking up to a new day, and Paul presented this picture (Eph. 5:14), paraphrasing Isaiah 60:1. You have the same image in Romans 13:11–13 and 1 Thessalonians 5:1–10. That Easter morning, when Christ arose from the dead, was the dawning of a new day for the world. Christians are not sleeping in sin and death. We have been raised from the dead through faith in Him. The darkness of the graveyard is past, and we are now walking in the light of salvation.4

Respond: In what ways do we “fall asleep” in our relationship with Christ? What safeguards can be put in place to prevent us from falling to sleep?

4 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 46.

Week of March 31 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: Romans 13:11-14

 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Reflect: What is Paul’s reasoning for the encouragement to “wake up”? What does he mean when he says, “salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed”?

Consider: Paul gives a reason in the nearness of salvation. This will point to the consummation of all that is implied in being saved. Salvation may be spoken of as something accomplished in the past (Eph. 2:8), in the present (1 Cor. 1:18), or in the future (5:9). Here the future is in mind: Paul is saying that it is nearer to us than at the time when we first believed. Paul writes elsewhere, “We eagerly await a Savior from there (i.e., heaven)” (Phil. 3:20), and it is something like that that he is saying here. There is the thought of eager expectation and the thought that the fullness of all that salvation means is yet to come.3

Respond: What do you think Paul means when he says it is time for us to “wake up”? What do you think it means to put on the armor of light? What do you think it means that the “daylight is near”? How does remembering this help us be better servants?

3 Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), 471.

Week of March 31 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: Romans 13:8-10

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.  

Reflect: How could being in debt hinder someone from being a good servant? What does it mean to owe someone love?

Consider: This is not a prohibition against a proper use of credit; it is an underscoring of a Christian’s obligation to express divine love in all interpersonal relationships. A Christian should never fall short, and so be “in debt,” in loving others (John 13:34–35; 1 Cor. 16:14; Eph. 5:2; Col. 3:14; 1 John 3:14, 23; 4:7, 11, 21).2

Respond: How does “love your neighbor” sum up “do not steal”? “Do not commit adultery”? “Do not covet”?

2 John A. Witmer, “Romans,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 491.

Week of March 31 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: Romans 13:8

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  

Day 1  Read: Romans 13:8

 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

Reflect: What is Paul’s two-sided command? What are we not to do? What ought we do?

Consider: Be in debt to no one is a very emphatic expression in the Greek text, and its most immediate meaning may be understood to be “Do not be under financial obligations to anyone.” It may also be understood in a somewhat broader sense: “Do not be under obligation to anyone.” The fact that the second clause refers to a debt of love may suggest that the first clause should also be understood in this broader sense.1

Respond: In what areas of your life have you limited love for others? What steps do you need to take to remove those limits? What influences need to change? What actions can you take to demonstrate your willingness to love with no boundaries?

1 Barclay Moon Newman and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on Paul’s Letter to the Romans, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1973), 249.

Week of March 24 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: Matthew 22:15-22

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words.16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone's opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius.  20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar's.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” 22 When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.  

Reflect: How do you think the Pharisees and the Herodians hoped that Jesus would answer their question? How did Jesus’ response expose the hearts of the Pharisees and the Herodians?

Consider: The Pharisees and the Herodians were enemies; but their common foe brought them together. The Pharisees opposed the Roman poll tax for several reasons: (1) They did not want to submit to a Gentile power; (2) Caesar was revered as a god; and (3) they had better uses for the money than to give it to Rome. Since the Herodians were the party supporting Herod, they were in favor of the tax. After all, Herod’s authority was given to him by Caesar; and Herod would have had a difficult time staying in power without Rome’s support.[1]5

Respond: In saying “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s,” Jesus was asking, “What is it in life that does not belong to God?” What is the implied answer to that question? What things in your life are you most tempted to hold back from God’s influence, power, and glory?

[1]5 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 80.


Week of March 24 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Romans 13:5-7

Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.  

Reflect: What practical instruction does Paul give on how we can follow his declaration to submit earlier?

Consider: A Christian’s responsibility to civil authorities involves more than obedience (vv. 1, 5). It also includes support by paying taxes (cf. Matt. 22:21). This is because the leaders, as God’s servants (cf. Rom. 13:4), are supposed to give their full time to governing and need support through taxes from citizens, Christians included. So a Christian ought to give everyone what he owes him (lit., “repay everyone his dues”), whether substance (taxes and revenue) or respect and honor.[1]

Respond: Benjamin Franklin is known to have said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” The Bible also does not shy away from calling us to be civilly responsible. How does this affect your role of submission within society? Who in your life should be receiving honor?

[1] John A. Witmer, “Romans,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 490.

Week of March 24 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: 1 Peter 2:13-17

Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.  

Reflect: In what ways do you find it particularly difficult to yield to: government authorities? authorities at work? Pastoral authorities?

Consider: Peter gave a command that represents a general truth, that is, he specified what Christians should do in most situations when confronting governing authorities. Believers should be inclined to obey and submit to rulers. We will see, however, that the authority of rulers is not absolute. They do not infringe upon God’s lordship, and hence they should be disobeyed if they command Christians to contravene God’s will.[1]

Respond: In verse 14, Peter defines “good citizenship” as “respect for authorities.” Most of us likely have a firm grasp regarding good citizenship through obedience to the law. Is it disrespectful to be passive or indifferent with regard to one’s rights and responsibilities as a citizen? For example, is it disrespectful to not vote in elections? Why or why not? Compare and contrast “respect” and “love.” What might the relationship be between these things and “fearing God”?

[1]  Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 127.

Week of March 24 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: 1 Tim 2:1-4

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  

Reflect: What kinds of prayers did Paul say we should pray? For whom were the prayers to be offered? Based on Paul’s words in these verses, what will be the result of our prayers?

Consider: It can be seen from this brief summary that prayers is the generic word for prayer; thanksgivings is expressing gratitude and thanks to God; supplications is asking God to supply the needs of the Christian community; and intercessions is praying to God on behalf of other people, particularly those who are not yet members of the community of faith. Paul’s intention is not to make these terms exclusive of one another, as if one type of prayer was completely different from the other types, nor does he want to limit the prayer life of the community to these four types of prayers; rather, he wants to encourage and urge the Christian community to offer to God prayers of all kinds for all people.[1]

Respond: Why did Paul specifically urge the church to pray for people in authority? Do you believe “kings and all those who are in authority” have special God-given power? Why or why not?

[1] Daniel C. Arichea and Howard Hatton, A Handbook on Paul’s Letters to Timothy and to Titus, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1995), 45.

Week of March 24 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: Romans 13:1

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Day 1 Read: Romans 13:1-4

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.  

Reflect: What is the popular attitude toward governmental authority in our world today?

Consider: After Claudius’s death in A.D. 54, Nero assumed the throne and reigned until A.D. 68. Nero was emperor when Paul wrote Romans (A.D. 57)—the “governing authority” to whom Paul made specific reference in Romans (Rom. 13:1). His reign was no more salutary than those of his predecessors—and ultimately was much worse as far as believers in Christ were concerned. Nero became emperor at age 15, and at age 22 he had his mother murdered, followed three years later by the divorce (and later murder) of his wife. It is thought by many historians that the great fire that swept Rome in A.D. 64 was instigated by Nero, who blamed it on the Christians. He had Christians tortured and burned publicly, ultimately taking the lives of both the apostles Peter and Paul. Nero committed suicide under pressure against his policies in A.D. 68.[1]

Respond: We learn here that when authorities are working properly, bad actions are being punished. How might the authorities in your life act as your defender if someone sins against or harms you?

[1] Kenneth Boa and William Kruidenier, Romans, vol. 6, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 390.