Lesson 101: Romans 8–11

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

Paul taught about blessings of being spiritually reborn and submitting to Heavenly Father’s will. He also taught about Israel’s rejection of God’s covenant and about spreading the gospel among the Gentiles.

Suggestions for Teaching

Romans 8

Paul describes blessings of being spiritually reborn

Begin the lesson by asking the following questions:

  • What is an inheritance?

  • If you could inherit anyone’s possessions, whose possessions would you choose and why?

  • Who typically inherits someone’s possessions?

Ask students to consider the blessings someone could receive as an heir of all Heavenly Father possesses. Invite students to look as they study Romans 8:1–18 for what we must do to inherit all that Heavenly Father has.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Romans 8:1, 5–7, 13. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul taught about walking “after the flesh,” or yielding to the tendency to sin, and following “after the Spirit” (verse 5).

  • What does it mean to be “carnally minded”? (verse 6). (To be focused on satisfying the passions and lusts of the physical body.)

  • What does it mean to be “spiritually minded”? (verse 6).

Explain that to “mortify the deeds of the body” (verse 13) means to put to death or subdue the weaknesses, temptations, and sins related to our mortal bodies (see verse 13, footnote b; Mosiah 3:19).

  • What principle can we learn from verse 13 about what can help us overcome the tendency of the natural man to sin? (Help students identify the following principle: If we follow the influence of the Spirit, we can overcome the tendency of the natural man to sin. Write this principle on the board.)

Invite a student to read Romans 8:14–16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Paul refers to those who follow the Spirit.

  • How does Paul refer to those who follow the Spirit? (Explain that the word sons in this context means both sons and daughters [see D&C 25:1].)

Point out the phrase “Spirit of adoption” (verse 15). Explain that “our spirit” (verse 16), meaning our spirit bodies, was created by Heavenly Father, making every person literally a spirit child of Heavenly Father. However, it is by making covenants with God through ordinances and then keeping those covenants that people are spiritually reborn, or adopted, as His sons and daughters in the gospel covenant. The companionship of the Holy Ghost indicates that such people are not only God’s spirit children by virtue of creation, but they are also His covenant children.

Invite a student to read Romans 8:17–18 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what God’s covenant children can become.

  • What can God’s covenant children become? (Write the following principle on the board, leaving a blank in place of the word faithful: If we are faithful covenant children of God, we can become joint-heirs with Jesus Christ of all Heavenly Father has.)

  • What is a joint-heir? (Someone who receives an equal inheritance with other heirs.)

  • According to verse 17, what must God’s covenant children do to become joint-heirs with Christ?

Explain that to “suffer with [Jesus Christ]” (verse 17) does not mean that we suffer what the Savior did as part of His atoning sacrifice. Rather, like the Savior, we are to deny ourselves of all ungodliness, keep the commandments, and faithfully endure opposition (see Matthew 16:24; Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 16:26 [in the Bible appendix]). Add the word faithful to complete the principle on the board. Draw a three-column chart on the board. Label the first column Requirements, the middle column Opposition, and the third column Inheritance. List students’ responses to the following questions in the appropriate columns.

  • What are some things we are required to do to be considered God’s faithful covenant children?

  • What are examples of opposition we might experience as we strive to live as faithful covenant children of God?

  • What blessings can we inherit from Heavenly Father if we strive to live as His faithful covenant children? (One possible answer is that we can become like Heavenly Father [see Romans 8:17, footnote a].)

Ask students to ponder the lists on the board.

  • After reading Paul’s teachings in verse 18, how do you think the requirements of being joint-heirs with Christ compare with the blessings? Why?

Explain that in Romans 8:19–30, we read that Paul taught that the Spirit helps us in our weakness and helps us know what to pray for. We also read that Jesus Christ was called in the premortal existence to be the Savior of God’s children (see Joseph Smith Translation, Romans 8:29–30 [in the Bible appendix]).

Note: In Romans 8:29–30, the word predestinate means foreordain or call. Students will study some of Paul’s teachings on foreordination in the lesson on Ephesians 1.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Romans 8:28, 31–39. Ask the class to follow along, looking for truths Paul taught about God’s love as related to the opposition, challenges, and tribulations of mortality. Point out that the Joseph Smith Translation of Romans 8:31 replaces the phrase “be against” with “prevail” (see verse 31, footnote a).

  • What truths can we learn from these verses? (Students may identify a variety of truths, including the following: If we love God, all things will work together for our good. Through Jesus Christ we can overcome all the challenges and tribulations of mortality. Nothing can separate us from God’s love, which is manifest in the Atonement of Jesus Christ.)

  • How can Jesus Christ and His teachings help us overcome the challenges and tribulations of mortality?

  • Considering the challenges and tribulations of mortality you have experienced, which statements in these verses stand out to you? Why?

  • How have you experienced God’s love amidst your challenges and tribulations?

Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals what they feel prompted to do so that, through Jesus Christ, they can overcome their challenges and tribulations. Encourage them to apply what they wrote.

Romans 9–11

Paul teaches about Israel’s rejection of God’s covenant and bringing the gospel to the Gentiles

Ask students to ponder how they would respond in the following scenarios:

  1. 1.

    You accompany your bishop to visit a young man whose family is active in the Church, but he is not. When your bishop kindly tries to help the young man understand the consequences of not living the gospel, the young man says, “Don’t worry. I’ve been baptized, and my parents are active. God won’t withhold any blessings from me.”

  2. 2.

    You recently befriended a young woman of another faith. She asks about the standards you live by. After you describe some of the Lord’s standards, she says, “I don’t understand why you do all that. All you have to do to be saved is believe in Jesus Christ.”

Invite students to look for truths as they study Romans 9–11 that can help them understand what is required to receive the blessings of the gospel.

Invite a student to read the following explanation about Paul’s teachings in Romans 9–11:

As recorded in Romans 9–11, Paul used the terms Israel and Israelites instead of Jews in discussing choices many Jews had made. God’s covenant children are sometimes referred to as the house of Israel. In Old Testament times, God chose the descendants of Jacob, or Israel, to be part of His covenant with Abraham (see Romans 9:4–5), which included great blessings such as the gospel, priesthood authority, eternal life, eternal posterity, a land of inheritance, and the responsibility of blessing the world with the gospel.

Invite a student to read Romans 9:6, 8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul taught about members of the house of Israel.

  • What do you think Paul meant by “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel”? (verse 6). (Many Jews falsely trusted that their lineage through Abraham guaranteed them the blessings of the covenant.)

Explain that in Romans 9:25–30, we read that Paul taught that Gentiles who joined the Church could receive all the blessings of the covenant and become righteous by exercising faith in Jesus Christ.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Romans 9:31–33; 10:1–4. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how some Israelites in Paul’s day sought to become righteous before God. Explain that “the law of righteousness” (Romans 9:31) refers to the law of Moses; the “stumblingstone” (Romans 9:32, 33) is Jesus Christ; and “the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3) refers to Jesus Christ and His gospel.

  • According to Romans 9:31–33, how had some Israelites sought to become righteous before God? (By strictly performing the works of the law of Moses.)

  • According to Romans 10:3–4, what had these Israelites rejected? (Jesus Christ and the righteousness made possible through Him.)

Explain that as recorded in Romans 10:8–13, Paul expounded on how “the righteousness which is of faith” (Romans 9:30) can be obtained. Invite several students to take turns reading Romans 10:8–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how to obtain this state of righteousness.

  • What must someone do to obtain the righteousness that comes from faith?

Explain that the Greek word translated as confess in verse 9 denotes an open acknowledgment of acceptance, or covenant, and the Greek word translated as believe denotes a trusting commitment. This deep trust in the Savior leads people to openly acknowledge their acceptance of Him in ways He has appointed. These ordained ways include obedience to God’s commandments, repentance, and receiving saving ordinances such as baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost.

  • According to Paul’s teachings, what must we do if we desire to receive the blessings of God’s covenants, including salvation? (Help students identify the following principle: If we accept and obey Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can receive the blessings of God’s covenants and be saved. Write this principle on the board.)

Point out that some people have used Romans 10:9, 13 to claim that all we must do to be saved is verbally confess our belief in Jesus Christ. Remind students of the scenarios presented earlier in the lesson.

  • How could the truths in this lesson help you respond in these scenarios?

Summarize the remainder of Romans 10–11 by explaining that Paul taught that hearing the word of God is essential to developing faith in Christ. He used an analogy of grafting branches from a wild olive tree into a tame olive tree to represent the adoption of Gentiles into the house of Israel (see also Jacob 5:3–14). He also taught that the gospel will again be offered to the Jews.

Conclude by testifying of the truths discussed in this lesson.

Commentary and Background Information

Romans 8:14–17. “We are the children of God”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles testified of our divine heritage as children of God:

“Your Father in Heaven knows your name and knows your circumstance. He hears your prayers. He knows your hopes and dreams, including your fears and frustrations. And He knows what you can become through faith in Him. Because of this divine heritage you, along with all of your spiritual sisters and brothers, have full equality in His sight and are empowered through obedience to become a rightful heir in His eternal kingdom, an “[heir] of God, and joint-[heir] with Christ” [Romans 8:17]. Seek to comprehend the significance of these doctrines (“To Young Women,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2005, 28).

“The scriptures speak of us as ‘children of God’ in more than one sense (Romans 8:16). First, every human being is literally a beloved spirit child of Heavenly Father (see Malachi 2:10; Acts 17:29; Hebrews 12:9; ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World,’ Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129). Second, we are ‘reborn’ as children of God through a covenantal relationship when we manifest faith in Jesus Christ, repent, are baptized, and receive the Holy Ghost [and other ordinances] (see John 1:12; Galatians 3:26–29; Mosiah 5:7; D&C 11:30; [D&C 84:33–38;] Moses 6:65–68)” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 348).

Not only can the Spirit confirm that we are God’s covenant children, but it can also confirm to our spirits that we are literally beloved children of God and that we dwelt with Him before we were born.

Romans 8:15. “The Spirit of adoption

“Adoption was common in the Roman world and would have been a familiar concept to Paul’s readers. A person who legally adopted someone conferred on that person all the rights and privileges that a natural-born child would have. Therefore, when we receive ‘the Spirit of adoption’ (Romans 8:15) through entering the gospel covenant, we become the children of God and ‘joint-heirs with Christ’ (Romans 8:17)” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 348).

In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin also taught how we can become “children of Christ” (see Mosiah 5:5–10). President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that Jesus Christ also “becomes our Father” because He “offers us life, eternal life, through the atonement which he made for us.” President Smith explained, “We become the children, sons and daughters of Jesus Christ, through our covenants of obedience to him” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 1:29).

Romans 8:31–32. “If God be for us, who can be against us?”

“Paul taught that the Atonement of Christ shows that ‘God [is] for us’ and is committed to us and our eternal well-being. Because God gave His Only Begotten Son for us, we can be assured that God will continue to work for our salvation and prepare us to be heirs of all He wants to give us. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland similarly exhorted members of the Church:

“‘Considering the incomprehensible cost of the Crucifixion and Atonement, I promise you He is not going to turn His back on us now. … Brothers and sisters, whatever your distress, please don’t give up’ (‘Broken Things to Mend,’ Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 71)” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 350).

Romans 8:29–30; 9:11; 11:2, 5, 7, 28. Predestination, foreordination, and election

“In Romans 8:29–30, the Greek term translated as predestinate means ‘to appoint or determine beforehand’ and refers to the foreordination some people receive, based on God’s foreknowledge, to follow Jesus Christ and become like Him (see also Ephesians 1:3–4; 1 Peter 1:2). ‘Foreordination does not guarantee that individuals will receive certain callings or responsibilities. Such opportunities come in this life as a result of the righteous exercise of agency, just as foreordination came as a result of righteousness in the premortal existence’ (‘Foreordination,’ True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 69; see also Alma 13:3–4)” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 350).

The Bible Dictionary explains that election is “a theological term primarily denoting God’s choice of the house of Israel to be the covenant people with privileges and responsibilities, that they might become a means of blessing to the whole world. …

“The elect are chosen even ‘before the foundation of the world,’ yet no one is unconditionally elected to eternal life. Each must, for himself, hearken to the gospel and receive its ordinances and covenants from the hands of the servants of the Lord in order to obtain salvation. If one is elected but does not serve, his election could be said to have been in vain, as Paul expressed in 2 Cor. 6:1.

“… An ‘election of grace’ spoken of in … Rom. 11:1–5 has reference to one’s situation in mortality; that is, being born at a time, at a place, and in circumstances where one will come in favorable contact with the gospel. This election took place in the premortal existence. Those who are faithful and diligent in the gospel in mortality receive an even more desirable election in this life and become the elect of God. These receive the promise of a fulness of God’s glory in eternity (D&C 84:33–41)” (Bible Dictionary, “Election”; see also Alma 13:3–4).

The Prophet Joseph Smith explained that “unconditional election of individuals to eternal life [predestination] was not taught by the Apostles. God did elect or predestinate, that all those who would be saved, should be saved in Christ Jesus, and through obedience to the Gospel” (in History of the Church, 4:360). That is, all people who will be saved will receive salvation through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and in no other way.

Romans 11:25. “The fulness of the Gentiles”

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained what is meant by “the fulness of the Gentiles”:

“There was a period or time appointed for the Jews to hear the word, and then a period of time for the Gentiles to take precedence. The times of the Gentiles is the period during which the gospel goes to them on a preferential basis, and this will continue until they have had a full opportunity to accept the truth, or in other words until the fulness of the Gentiles. Then the message will go again to the Jews, meaning to the Jews as a nation and as a people” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 2:290).

Centuries before Paul wrote his epistles, Nephi taught his brothers that it would be through the fulness of the Gentiles in the latter days that the gospel would be taken to his posterity and the posterity of his brothers. This would enable them to “come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved” (1 Nephi 15:14). This gathering of Lehi’s seed is part of the latter-day grafting of the natural branches back into the olive tree as prophesied of by Paul and Zenos (see Romans 11:23–25; Jacob 5:52, 60, 63, 67–68).

When the angel Moroni appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1823, Moroni said that “the fulness of the Gentiles was soon to come in” (Joseph Smith—History 1:41).