Lesson 102

Romans 12–16

“Lesson 102: Romans 12–16,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)


Introduction

Paul taught Church members in Rome to present their bodies as living sacrifices to God and to obey God’s commandments. Paul also taught the Saints how to promote peace when differences arose because of personal preference. When concluding this epistle, Paul warned of those who seek to deceive.

Suggestions for Teaching

Romans 12–13

Paul teaches the Saints to present their bodies as living sacrifices to God and to obey God’s commandments

Bring to class two containers of different shapes and a cup of water. Display the water and one container.

  • If I pour the water into this container, how will the shape of the water change? (It will conform to the shape of the container.)

Pour the water into the container. Then pour the water into the second container and point out how the water again conforms to the shape of the container.

Explain that in this demonstration the water represents people and the containers represent different worldly beliefs and practices.

  • What dangers can come from continually conforming to worldly beliefs and practices?

Invite a student to read Romans 12:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul exhorted Church members in Rome to do.

  • What did Paul exhort these Church members to do?

Explain that in entreating Church members to give their bodies as “a living sacrifice” (verse 1), Paul was drawing a parallel to the Old Testament practice of sacrificing animals. These animals were dedicated offerings to God.

  • What do you think Paul meant when he wrote “present your bodies a living sacrifice … unto God”? (verse 1). (Church members are to dedicate themselves completely to God by giving up sinful desires.)

  • Based on Paul’s exhortation in verses 1–2, what does God expect of us? (Help students identify the following truth: God expects us to dedicate our lives to Him and refrain from conforming to the world. Write this truth on the board.)

handout iconExplain that throughout Romans 12–13, Paul taught Church members many principles that would help them dedicate their lives to God and refrain from conforming to the world. To help students explore some of these principles, divide students into groups of three. Provide each student with a full sheet of paper that includes the following instructions at the top. (Before class, circle one of the three scripture references on each paper. Make sure that each student in each group receives a paper with a different scripture reference circled.)

handout

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual—Lesson 102

Romans 12:9–16

Romans 12:17–21

Romans 13:8–13

  1. Read the scripture passage circled at the top of this paper.

  2. Select one of Paul’s teachings in the verses you read, and write it in the space below. Also write how living this teaching can help us dedicate our lives to God and refrain from conforming to the world. (If you are not the first person to receive this paper, either add your thoughts to what previous writers have written below or write about another teaching in the circled verses.)

Explain to students that they will have three minutes to complete the activity as instructed on their paper. At the end of the three minutes, invite them to pass their paper to another student in their group. Repeat this activity so that each student reads and comments on all three scripture passages. Be sure that students receive their original paper back.

Give students time to review the comments on their papers. Invite several students to report something they learned about how we can dedicate our lives to God and refrain from conforming to the world.

Invite a student to read Romans 13:14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what Paul counseled the Saints to do.

  • What do you think Paul meant by the phrase “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ”?

  • How can the teachings we have studied in Romans 12–13 help us become like Jesus Christ? (After students respond, revise the truth previously written on the board so it reads as follows: If we dedicate our lives to God and refrain from conforming to the world, we can become more like Jesus Christ.)

  • How is the Savior an example of dedicating one’s life to God and refraining from conforming to the world?

  • How can we refrain from conforming to the world’s standards? (You might want to give some specific examples such as Sabbath day observance, dress styles, or perhaps views on cultural or social issues that run counter to gospel principles.)

Ask students to think about someone they know who strives to dedicate his or her life to God and refrain from conforming to the world.

  • Whom did you think of? Why?

  • In what ways has this person become more like the Savior?

Invite students to write in their scripture study journals or class notebooks one way they can dedicate their lives to God and refrain from conforming to the world. Encourage students to apply what they wrote.

Romans 14:1–15:3

Paul counsels Church members to avoid conflicts in matters of personal preference

Ask students to raise their hands if they would answer yes to any of the following questions. You might change some of these questions so that they better reflect the culture in which you live. If you do so, select examples that are matters of personal choice, not matters of obedience to clearly defined commandments. The answer to all these questions should be yes.

  • Is it acceptable for a Latter-day Saint to (1) follow a vegetarian diet? (2) eat chocolate? (3) wear shorts in public? (4) use technology on the Sabbath? (5) participate in holiday celebrations that are rooted in other religious or cultural traditions?

Explain that while some behaviors are clearly required or forbidden by commandments from the Lord, others are left to the preference or discretion of individual Church members. These matters can include some choices in areas like entertainment, clothing, diet, Sabbath day observance, and parental rules for children. The Lord has provided standards and commandments to guide our choices in some of these matters, such as wearing shorts that are modest, but some decisions are left to personal discretion. Members may sometimes base decisions in such areas on inspiration for their specific situations or needs.

Invite students as they study Romans 14:1–15:3 to look for truths Paul teaches about how we should handle matters of personal preference in the Church.

Summarize Romans 14:1–5 by explaining that one matter of personal preference that Church members in Paul’s day faced regarded a person’s diet. Some people observed no dietary restrictions. Others abstained from meat and ate only vegetables as a continuation of dietary laws under the law of Moses, even though these restrictions were no longer required (see verse 2, footnote a). In addition, some Church members chose to continue to observe Jewish customs, practices, and holidays.

  • What problems do you think could have arisen within the Church as members made different personal decisions in these matters?

Invite students to read Romans 14:3 silently, looking for what the personal preferences in diet may have led some Church members to do.

  • What problems were Church members experiencing? (Some Church members were despising and judging other members whose choices differed from theirs.)

  • Why do you think this would have happened?

Write the following scripture reference on the board: Romans 14:10–13, 15, 21. Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from these verses. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul taught Church members to refrain from doing in this matter of personal preference. Direct the student who will read verse 15 to also read the excerpt of the Joseph Smith Translation of Romans 14:15 (in Romans 14:15, footnote a).

  • Based on what Paul taught in verse 13, what truth can we learn about what we should refrain from doing in matters not addressed by specific commandments? (Students’ answers should reflect the following truth: In matters not addressed by specific commandments, we are to refrain from judging others’ choices.)

  • Why is it a problem when Church members look down on or condemn other Church members who make different choices in matters where no commandment requires or forbids a certain behavior?

Point out the phrase “put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall” in verse 13. Explain that this refers to influencing someone else to spiritually stumble or fall in their efforts to believe in Jesus Christ and live His gospel.

  • How might Church members eating certain foods influence others to spiritually stumble or fall?

  • What did Paul counsel Church members to do if their personal choice of diet could spiritually harm someone else? (Paul counseled the Saints to be considerate of the effect of their personal practices on others and be willing to forgo actions that could influence others to stumble spiritually.)

  • What truth can we learn from Paul’s instruction regarding our actions in matters not addressed by specific commandments? (Help students identify the following truth: In matters not addressed by specific commandments, we are to be considerate of how our choices affect others. Note: A similar truth will be discussed in greater depth in 1 Corinthians 8.)

Invite a student to read Romans 14:19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what Paul encouraged Church members to pursue.

  • How can following Paul’s counsel regarding matters of personal preference influence the peace and edification Church members experience together?

Remind students of the matters of personal preference listed earlier. Ask students to describe how Church members could follow the counsel of Paul in matters such as these.

Romans 15:4–16:27

Paul concludes his epistle to the Romans

Explain that as Paul moved toward the conclusion of his epistle, he provided additional counsel to Church members in Rome. Invite a student to read Romans 15:4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul taught about why the scriptures were written.

  • What truth can we learn from verse 4 about why the scriptures were written? (Students’ answers should reflect the following truth: The scriptures were written to teach us and to give us hope.)

Explain that Paul then illustrated this truth by quoting several Old Testament scriptures to reassure the Saints that missionary work among the Gentiles was in accordance with God’s plan (see Romans 15:9–12).

Summarize the remainder of Romans 15–16 by explaining that Paul concluded his epistle by describing his efforts to preach the gospel. He also warned about those who cause divisions, teach false doctrines, and seek to deceive others (see Romans 16:17–18).

Conclude by testifying of the truths discussed in this lesson.

Commentary and Background Information

Romans 12:1. “Present your bodies a living sacrifice”

President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about the kind of sacrifice we can offer to God:

“We are still commanded to sacrifice, but not by shedding blood of animals. Our highest sense of sacrifice is achieved as we make ourselves more sacred or holy. This we do by our obedience to the commandments of God. Thus, the laws of obedience and sacrifice are indelibly intertwined. … As we comply with these and other commandments, something wonderful happens to us. We become disciplined! We become disciples! We become more sacred and holy—like our Lord!” (“Lessons from Eve,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 88).

Romans 13:1–7. “Be subject unto the higher powers”

The Joseph Smith Translation of Romans 13:1–7 indicates that Paul’s statements in these verses apply to following not only civic authorities but also Church authorities. For example, in Joseph Smith Translation, Romans 13:1, the Prophet Joseph Smith added the words “in the church”: “There is no power in the church but of God.”

In Joseph Smith Translation, Romans 13:4, “sword” was changed to “rod.” And in Joseph Smith Translation, Romans 13:6, “tribute” (taxes) was changed to “your consecrations.”

Paul’s counsel to “be subject unto the higher powers” (Romans 13:1) reflects the principle of the twelfth article of faith: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” By describing civil authorities as being “ordained of God” and “God’s ministers” (Romans 13:1, 6), Paul acknowledged that all who hold positions of power are accountable to God, and they hold power only to the extent that God allows (see John 19:11). Paul also reminded the Saints that by bringing forth good works, they would not need to be afraid of the power of the leaders they were subject to. Rather, by doing “that which is good,” the Saints would receive the leaders’ praise (see Romans 13:2–4).

Romans 14:1–15:3. Matters for which specific commandments have not been given

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated that rather than teaching specific rules in some matters, Church leaders and teachers teach doctrines and principles of the gospel. He then said the following:

“Teachers … should generally forgo teaching specific rules or applications. For example, they would not teach any rules for determining what is a full tithing, and they would not provide a list of dos and don’ts for keeping the Sabbath day holy. Once a teacher has taught the doctrine and the associated principles from the scriptures and the living prophets, such specific applications or rules are generally the responsibility of individuals and families” (“Gospel Teaching,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 79).

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency warned about the dangers of allowing individual amplifications of gospel principles to become expectations for others:

“Sometimes, well-meaning amplifications of divine principles—many coming from uninspired sources—complicate matters further, diluting the purity of divine truth with man-made addenda. One person’s good idea—something that may work for him or her—takes root and becomes an expectation. And gradually, eternal principles can get lost within the labyrinth of ‘good ideas’” (“The Love of God,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2009, 21).