Daily Bible Reading for February 16, 2014, with Commentary: Romans 15-16
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Context and Meaning: The beginning of chapter 15 is a continuation of last week's reading, emphasizing that as Christians, we are to help fellow believers in their faith, not lead them into temptation. The four quotes that Paul includes from the Old Testament all include reference to Gentiles, indicating that salvation for Gentiles was part of God's plan from the beginning. As Paul concludes his letter to the Jews and Gentiles of Rome, he reveals his heart to them: a commitment to building the church, serving others, and shepherding those who are wandering away from the flock. Paul also reveals that he wants the Roman church to be a partner in his dream to expand the church to Spain and beyond. Paul concludes his letter to the church of Rome by including greetings to several people. As we look back on this letter, we see that many topics were covered, each building on the other: sin (ch 1-3), salvation (ch 4-5), sanctification (ch 6-8), God's sovereignty over all (ch 9-11), sacrifice, submission, and service (ch 12-15), and being sent (ch 16).
World History: The Bible never states whether Paul fulfilled his desire to minister in Spain. Few documents suggest that he did make it to parts of Spain. Timelines of Paul's travels do allow for the possibility of him traveling to Spain. Christian tradition holds that Paul was executed in Rome during the rule of Nero, around the same time that the apostle Peter was also executed in Rome. Tradition holds that Paul was beheaded while Peter was executed using an inverse crucifixion because he did not consider himself worthy to be executed in the same manner as Jesus Christ. Paul is considered by many to be a martyr. It is believed that Paul's tomb has been found under the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls in Rome. Archeologists discovered the tomb in 2009. A slab above the sarcophagus contains the inscription "Paul, apostle, martyr." Carbon dating has dated to the tomb to the time of Paul and Pope Benedict XVI has officially recognized the tomb as that of the apostle Paul.