What does it say?
In Romans 11 Paul continues his discussion about God’s missional plan for Israel (Romans 9-10) and how this relates to the other nations of the world. This chapter is more forward looking, anticipating the completion of the plan begun in Abraham.
Romans 12 initiates a new section of Romans that deal with the practical applications of the theological foundation Paul lays in the first part of the letter. The emphasis here is on unity in the body of Christ.
Romans 13 explains how followers of Jesus Christ are to relate to authorities outside of the church. In the second part of the chapter, Paul summarizes the Law as Jesus did on a couple of occasions. Assuming love for God, Paul emphasizes the Law as having the intent of teaching us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
What does it mean?
Though many point to the amazing theology of Paul in Romans, he never lets God’s mission get far from his view. He is aware of the deep divisions between Jewish and Gentile believers in Rome and how this impacts the mission. He is planning to pass by Rome on his way to Spain and sees Rome as his natural base of operation.
All that Paul says about God’s future plan for Israel in Romans 11 is designed to bring balance to his work to heal the rift between Jews and Gentiles in the church. He is very pointed in his comments about God’s plan to use Israel to reach the nations, but here he is admonishing the Gentiles to understand that even with God actively reaching out to multitudes of Gentiles, he has not forgotten his promises to Israel.
Chapters 12 and 13 are also important to the healing process. While all Paul says about everyone having a place in the body of Christ, spiritual gifts, overcoming evil with good and loving one another applies to all believers at all times; the immediate context is to bring healing to the church in Rome between the ethnic and cultural factions.
How will I respond?
Waves of immigrants and refugees move around the globe and many are making contact with Christians and churches for the first time. Am I aware of new people around me? What application can I make to my life from this reading?