Dedication to Theophilus
1:1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah,1 of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”
Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed2 to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”3 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”4
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born5 will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant6 of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be7 a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat
46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
The Birth of John the Baptist
57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.
67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us8 from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
That is, legally pledged to be married
Some manuscripts add Blessed are you among women!
Greek since I do not know a man
Some manuscripts add of you
Greek bondservant; also verse 48
Or believed, for there will be
Or when the sunrise shall dawn upon us; some manuscripts since the sunrise has visited us
Romans 12-16 (12.3.22)
Grab your Bible, and let’s dig into Romans 12 today.
Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Paul says, “I appeal … I implore … I call … Therefore!”
In essence, he is saying, “As a result of what has come before this … based on this foundation just laid …” He is referring us back to chapters 1-11.
What is before? What is the foundation? What do chapters 1-11 teach us? In sum, they teach us about the mercies of God. God has been merciful to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
So Paul is saying, “If you have Jesus, if He is your holy Sacrifice and therefore you are brothers (or sisters) in Christ …”
“… Then sit back and wait for heaven, doing whatever you want in the meantime.” NO! NO! NO!
He says, then offer or “present your bodies as a living sacrifice.”
Build your lives on this mercy, and your new life will flow out with mercy.
Just look at the rest of Romans 12 and the life that flows out of those who act upon the mercies of God:
- Show mercy with cheerfulness
- Let love be genuine
- Give to the saints
- Bless those who persecute you
- Weep with those who weep
- Associate with the lowly
- Repay no one evil for evil
- Never avenge yourselves
- If your enemy is hungry, feed him
- Build your lives on mercy, and become merciful
His mercy produces mercy!
Our testimony, our service, our presence will truly change those He puts in our path.
Brothers, we are not here for ourselves; we are here to sacrifice—to give our lives away for the sake of Christ! We are here for the sharing of His gospel for the good of those He intends to save.
We are called by Paul to “PRESENT our bodies as a living sacrifice.”
Not a sacrifice that will be extinguished or consumed, but a sacrifice that will be refined.
The alter we are called to lay our lives on is not a cold slab of stone but the refining fire of God.
Present your bodies = put your lives in the refining fire as a living sacrifice.
We are not sacrificing as those who are dead in sin but as those who are living in Christ and who are now being made more and more in the likeness of Christ.
What this looks like is just as the faithful in the Old Testament denied themselves an earthly treasure (a goat or a bull) and carried their sacrifices to the altar of blood and fire, so we deny ourselves some earthly treasure or ease or comfort and carry ourselves—our bodies—for Christ’s sake to the places and the relationships and the crises in this world where mercy is needed.
This is what causes authentic sacrifice in our daily lives. So I ask you to make it personal today:
How is your submission to the refining fire that produces a living sacrifice?
As God refines you, does it equal more mercies, more forgiveness, more sacrifice in your life?
Do you see more joyful sacrifice in your calendar?
Do you see more joyful sacrifice in your finances?
Do you see more joyful sacrifice in your actions towards others?
This is the life of the Christian: not one who is sitting around waiting to be asked, but one who is submitting himself to the refining fire so that he is actively living a life that is holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship.
God has not just saved us from sin and death but to righteousness and life.
How do we live lives that are holy and acceptable to God as our spiritual worship?
Romans 6:13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.
So when Paul says in Romans 12:1 to present a living, holy body to God, he means give your members—your eyes, your tongue, your hands and feet—give your body to do righteousness and not sin.
The refining fire of God produces holiness, obedience to God’s law, submission to God’s will, worship to God’s glory, acts of mercy to the undeserving, acts of sacrifice to the selfish, acts of generosity to the needy, forgiveness to the guilty … This is our spiritual worship.
Look further into Romans 12 to see this at work:
Romans 12:9 Let love be genuine …
You can also translate this from the Greek to say, “Let love be without hypocrisy!”
Hypocrisy = pretending to be a certain way that is not true to who you are in the core of your being.
Christians are famous for this, because when we put the grace and work of Jesus on the back burner, we make our work what is important, and to save face and stay in the club, we put on masks and pretend to be someone we are not.
If you struggle with trying to keep face by not being genuine in this family, realize this: It is impossible to receive love if you are hypocritical, because you will know deep down inside that they are loving the fake you—not the real you.
So how do we love each other genuinely? Without hypocrisy?
You have to grow into Christ. He is the One who firms up your identity to be authentic. He is the One who transforms your love from worldly selfishness to godly other-centeredness!
HOW DO YOU GROW INTO CHRIST? You grow by engaging in gospel community who are pressing and reorienting you into Him.
Romans 12:9b Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
Because I love my kids:
I don’t let our toddler taste the Windex bottle because it is a pretty blue and think he won’t like it as soon as he tastes it, so he’ll digest the little bit ok.
I don’t let my teenagers have unfiltered and unaccountable access to the internet or a smart phone because the worst of the world WILL find its way to them in the dead of night or the temptation of a peer to defraud their minds and tempt them to sinful indulgence.
But hear me: Is this not what we as God’s family do all too often to each other?
We stand by idly, watching someone we love struggling and then out of fear and no love at all, we stay distant and say nothing, thinking he or she will figure it out. We think, “I don’t want to cause conflict.”
“Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” This means we should grieve what is evil and we HOLD fast to what is good. Our love should cause us to fight for what is good and stand up to what is evil.
What this means is if we, as club, are not going to be distant and hypocritical, but are going to act in genuine love and mercy, we will pull aside those in our family that are openly practicing sin and say, “I LOVE YOU! I am concerned because what I see you pursuing here, I don’t see in God’s word.”
Realize none of us are immune from this. Eventually, we all are going to need to be confronted. This is life in the body; this is LOVE at work in our family.
You don’t let people you love struggle in things that they can be helped in without at least fighting for them. Realize you are fighting for them! You are not fighting them! You are loving them.
Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
This is not love one another just with deeds. It is saying, “Have feelings for each other.”
The idea is that our heart would leap a little when we are around each other because we are family!
When we are hypocrites, we can pull off the “do” verses, because we can muster up enough to just do what needs to be done.
But the heart is not as easy to change. To love each other from the heart—with our emotions, with that kind of buy in—is a different thing. It is harder to fake it!
I will tell you this, the only way we get to this is when we quit pretending. It has to be authentic. Genuine love is the only way you have and feel brotherly affection.
As I write this, I am overwhelmed at the opportunity before us to live lives of mercy and love for all those God puts in our path.
This is a picture of a life centered in Christ—a life of love and mercy! May it be so.
By His grace and for His glory
Joshua “Shepherd” Kirstine
Soldiers For Jesus MC
16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant1 of the church at Cenchreae, 2 that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.
3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. 5 Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert2 to Christ in Asia. 6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia,3 my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles,4 and they were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers5 who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
Final Instructions and Greetings
17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites,6 and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
21 Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.
22 I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord.
23 Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.7
25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
Or brothers and sisters; also verse 17
Greek their own belly
Some manuscripts insert verse 24: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen
The Example of Christ
15:1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Christ the Hope of Jews and Gentiles
8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
and sing to your name.”
10 And again it is said,
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”
11 And again,
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol him.”
12 And again Isaiah says,
“The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Paul the Minister to the Gentiles
14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers,1 that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. 15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. 18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; 20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, 21 but as it is written,
“Those who have never been told of him will see,
and those who have never heard will understand.”
Paul’s Plan to Visit Rome
22 This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. 23 But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, 24 I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25 At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. 28 When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected,2 I will leave for Spain by way of you. 29 I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing3 of Christ.
30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. 33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another
14:1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 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. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master1 that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
5 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. 6 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. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 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. 9 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 confess2 to God.”
12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Do Not Cause Another to Stumble
13 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. 16 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.3 22 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.4