Romans 15

Introduction

This is a continuation of Romans 14. Notice that God is described as patient and encouraging. Romans 15:5. He is also described as the God of hope. Romans 15:13. And also the God of peace. Romans 15:33.

Notice also how the Holy Spirit is described. He is powerful. Romans 15:13 / Romans 15:19. He sanctifies. Romans 15:16. Also, He loves. Romans 15:30. This shows his personality.

“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbours for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Romans 15:1-4

‘We then who are strong’, links to the thoughts in chapter 14. The word, ‘ought’ means an obligation, a responsibility. This is not a command and that’s because there are some things you can’t command.

‘To bear’ means to carry, to bear. It means more than ‘bearing with or tolerating,’ but involves shouldering their burdens along with them.

‘And not to please ourselves’ means we should not be concerned only with our own interest, but with the interest of others. Philippians 2:4 / 1 Corinthians 10:24.

The pleasing of ourselves above and beyond any regard for how it affects others is what is condemned here. Paul’s point is to exercise control to deal with the weaker brother properly.

‘Please his neighbour for his good’ means, in context, refers to a brother, however, the application can be made to everyone. Jesus in the story of the Samaritan said, ‘Go, and do thou likewise.’ Luke 10:30-37

‘To build them up’ means to lead others toward spiritual edification is what’s important in this life. Ephesians 4:29 / 1 Corinthians 10:33 / 1 Corinthians 14:12 / 1 Corinthians 14:26.

‘Christ did not please Himself’ 2 Corinthians 8:9. He lived and died for the benefit of all mankind. John 15:13. ‘Your will, be done’, Luke 22:42

Jesus was sinless and He was more sensitive to sin and its consequences than we are. John 8:57 tells us that the Jews thought Jesus looked ‘fifty years old’, Jesus looked older because He saw the consequences of sin. John 11:35 ‘Jesus wept’ because He saw the consequences of sin. He wasn’t crying for Lazarus because He was about to raise him back to life. We tend to please ourselves but Paul says to be like Jesus. In Romans 15:3 he quotes Isaiah 53:5 and Psalm 69:9. Jesus is our sin-bearer.

‘For’, this shows that the above Scripture, as well as all, applies to us as well.

‘Whatever things were written before’ obvious reference to the Old Testament Scriptures.

‘Were written for our learning’ and so, a study of the Old Testament is good. 1 Corinthians 10:6 / 1 Corinthians 10:11. The Old Testament Scriptures are there, not only for the benefit of the people who lived under them but for us as well. The Old Testament Scriptures teach us by example, principle, type, prophecy, etc.

‘That we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures, the Scriptures produce patience (perseverance) and give comfort (encouragement). ‘Might have hope’ means without the Scriptures (those who do not study and rely on them), there is no hope of being saved eternally.

The Holy Scriptures have the solution for every emergency and problem from the cradle to the grave. If we believe the Bible is the Word of God we should be listening to what He says.

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:5-7

Paul now makes a request (prayer) to God for them.

‘May the God of patience and comfort’, remember it is God (a Person) who gives the patience and comfort. The Scriptures themselves are not to be worshipped, they are only the means by which God gives patience and comfort.

‘Give you the same attitude of mind toward each other’ means Christians need to be like-minded (of the same disposition and will) as they live and work together. And so, he is asking God to help them to do the things required in Romans 14. See also Romans 12:16 / Philippians 1:27 / Philippians 2:2 / 1 Corinthians 1:10.

‘That Christ Jesus’ means in accord with His example and will. And so, Paul is beseeching God, the great giver of patience and comfort, to grant them to be of one mind as they follow Christ. And so, Christians should be of one mind with one another so they can unitedly and harmoniously praise God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

‘And one voice’ means Christians, both the strong and weak, should be perfectly united with one voice praising and honouring God. Hebrews 13:15.

Romans 15:7 refers back to Romans 14:1-3. And so, the division of the chapter should have been here because it closes Paul’s comments on the subject of receiving one another.

‘Just as Christ also received us,’ means just as Christ received us to the praise of God, we ought to accept one another to His praise and honour. And so, our action is based on the action of Christ. Colossians 3:13.

To reject the weak brother runs completely contrary to Christ’s will and example. When we receive one another in the way as revealed in Romans 14:1-15:6, God is glorified.

What is the basis of our fellowship?

We’re all members of the family of God. We are not all alike and we have different opinions but we’re all born of the same Father despite being different. That’s why we need toleration, compassion and understanding. Romans 14:22.

“For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written: “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.” Again, it says, “Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.” And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him.” And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.” Romans 15:8-12

‘For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews’. Although Jesus was a minister to the Jews, most of them rejected Him. John 1:11.

‘For the truth of God’ means, He came on behalf of (for the welfare and benefit) of the truth of God.

‘To confirm the promises made to the fathers’ means Christ came to fulfil those great promises. 2 Corinthians 1:20.

Romans 15:9 we get the first mention of the Gentiles in this chapter. He uses the word 10 times throughout this chapter. Remember that the Roman church was very cosmopolitan, there was a mixture of Jews and Gentiles who all had their own cultures and religious baggage.

Remember the Gentiles were seen as unclean, dirty, even using the word Gentile was classed as a dirty word. And so now here in Rome, we have the Jewish Christians worshipping with the Jewish Christians.

‘And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy’, those great promises God made to the Jewish fathers also included the Gentiles. Mercy to the Gentiles (salvation, repentance to life) was an integral part of the promises made to the fathers and fulfilled in Christ. Acts 11:18.

Paul quotes several passages which show that the Gentiles were to be included in the Gospel system.

‘For this reason, I will praise you among the Gentiles,’ are quotes from 2 Samuel 22:50 and Psalm 18:49. Paul quotes David who represents himself as confessing and singing to God among the Gentiles.

Romans 15:10-11 are quotes from Deuteronomy 32:43 and Psalm 117:1. In Romans 15:10, the Gentiles are represented as being glad among the Jews. And so, the Gentiles were to rejoice and praise God along with the Jews.

In Romans 15:11, the Gentiles were to praise the Lord (the one true God) along with all other peoples. And so, the design of the verses is the same, to establish mutual acceptance of each other.

Romans 15:12 are quotes from Isaiah 11:1 / Isaiah 11:6-10. And so again, the Old Testament Scriptures clearly showed that the Gentiles were to have a part in the gospel system.

And so, quotations from the law, prophets, and the Psalms establish that God had promised salvation to the Gentiles along with the Jews. In the Messiah (the root of Jesse), the Gentiles would also submit and have hope.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Paul makes a beautiful request as he moves toward the conclusion of the epistle.

‘The God of hope’, God is the author, source, means, and fountain of true hope.

‘Fill you with joy’ means the Christian has manifold blessings of which to rejoice. Romans 5:1-5 / Romans 8:1-2.

‘And peace’ means Christians have a peace that passes all understanding. Philippians 4:6-7 / Hebrews 6:18-19.

‘You trust’ means as one continues to believe, or because he believes.

‘That you may overflow with hope’ means when filled with joy and peace by believing, our hope increases.

‘By the power of the Holy Spirit’, the power of the Holy Spirit makes this hope possible. The Holy Spirit plays an important part in making this hope possible because He has revealed the will of God to us. 1 Corinthians 2:10.

“I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another. Yet I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:14-16

Notice Paul’s politeness, he says he knows he’s been hard on them but it was for good purposes. Notice also the three things Paul had confidence (was persuaded) regarding them: ‘Full of goodness’ means kindness, generosity of heart and actions. Galatians 5:22 / Ephesians 5:9.

‘Filled with all knowledge’, this comes through study and meditation on the Word of God, and by means of experience in living the Christian life. 2 Timothy 2:15 / 1 Peter 1:1-2 / 2 Peter 3:18.

‘Able also to instruct one another,’ instead of depending on one man (the preacher), every saint should be capable of admonishing others. Colossians 3:16 / 1 Thessalonians 5:14.

Unlike the Hebrews (Hebrews 5:12-14), the Roman Christians had grown to the point where they could mutually teach and admonish one another.

Despite their maturity, he had to boldly write to them regarding certain points. Some in Corinth were accusing Paul of being bold in his letters, but weak in presence 2 Corinthians 10:10. However, Paul was both gentle and bold as the need arose.

Most of our teaching is simply reminding people of what they already know.

‘Because of the grace given to me by God’ means as shown in the next verse, this refers to his apostleship.

‘A minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles’, Acts 9:15 / Acts 22:21 / Acts 26:17-20 / Romans 11:13 / Galatians 1:16 / Galatians 2:7+8 / Ephesians 3:7+8 / Colossians 1:25-27 / 1 Timothy 2:7.

‘Ministering the gospel of God,’ all Christians must do the same, 2 Timothy 2:2 / 1 Peter 3:15 / Luke 14:23. The word ‘ministering’ is from a word meaning ‘one who does priestly service.’

‘That the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable’ means by preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, he converted many to God, and these converts were his offering to God.

And so, Paul saw his apostleship as a sacred duty (ministering in the fashion of a priest) which resulted in various Gentiles being offered as an acceptable sacrifice.

‘Sanctified by the Holy Spirit,’ if it were not for the work of the Holy Spirit, none would be set apart to God. The Holy Spirit sanctifies through the inspired Word which was preached by Paul. John 17:17 / Ephesians 5:26 / 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14.

“Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done—by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.” Romans 15:17-20

‘Therefore’, is the word that connects the preceding (his ministering to the Gentiles) which was his reason to glory in Christ Jesus.

‘Glory in Christ Jesus’. Paul’s cause of boasting was not in himself.

‘In the things which pertain to God’, in the things he had done as an apostle to the glory, honour, and praise of God. He did not glory in his Jewish heritage, but only in those spiritual things which are in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:3-11.

Paul certainly would not boast regarding another’s labour as though it were his own. 2 Corinthians 10:13-17.

‘In word and deed’, Paul both taught and set a good example before the Gentiles. 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9.

‘To make the Gentiles obedient’, Paul was Christ’s agent for bringing about obedience among the Gentiles, and in that way, Christ worked through him in word and deed. Paul would boast only in that which Christ had worked through him.

‘In mighty signs and wonders’, Paul’s credentials as an apostle. 2 Corinthians 12:12.

‘By the power of the Spirit of God,’ both Jesus and the apostles attributed their power to work miracles to the Holy Spirit. Matthew 12:28 / Hebrews 2:3-4. Paul says his message was backed up by signs and wonders.

‘Illyricum’ is the territory lying between Italy and Macedonia and Achaia. ‘From Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum’ shows the wide scope of territory Paul covered in his teaching.

‘I have fully preached the gospel of Christ’ means he always preached the whole counsel of God, Acts 20:20 / Acts 20:26-27, but he probably means here that he fully fulfilled his mission by preaching in many localities. It staggers the imagination as to how much this man was able to accomplish in his life. He always attributed his success to the Lord.

It was Paul’s main aim to preach the Gospel where Christ had never been named. He did not want to be a rival or competitor of other preachers. It is not wrong to preach where Christ had been named. Some must do the ‘watering.’ 1 Corinthians 3:6-11. Sadly, many today have the opposite spirit of the beloved apostle, Paul.

The three most common questions for many preachers as they consider moving to a congregation are,

1. Do you have elders?

2. Are you self-supporting?

3. Do you have a preacher’s home? Often if a church does not meet this criterion, they are not willing to move there.

Paul’s work for the most part consisted of planting churches. He left the watering in the hands of others. While there is a divine place for watering, planting is an indispensable part of carrying out the great commission. When there is no planting, there soon comes a time when there is no longer a need for watering.

“Rather, as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.” This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.” Romans 15:21-22

What Paul did was in keeping with the Scriptures as written in Isaiah 52:15 which has reference to the conversion of the heathen, the very work to which Paul was referring.

And so, Paul’s main mission was to provide an opportunity to hear and understand the gospel to those who had never been taught. Because his preaching where Christ had never been named had been so extensive and time-consuming, he had been hindered from coming to them.

“But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.” Romans 15:23-29

‘But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions’, he did not have further opportunities in those places to preach where Christ had never been named.

‘And having a great desire these many years to come to you’, for many years he had a deep longing to visit the Christians in Rome. Romans 1:8-13 / Romans 15:32.

‘Whenever I journey to Spain’, Paul himself had travelled to nearly all of the parts of the then known world. He now wanted to go to the far West. Peter, it appears, was working in the other direction. 1 Peter 5:13. They were to ‘go into all the world,’ and it appears they did. Colossians 1:23.

‘And to be helped on my way there by you’, means he wanted them to help provide support for him in his journey and preaching in Spain. 3 John 5-8.

‘If first I may enjoy your company for a while’ before he went into Spain, he wanted to first enjoy for a limited time the richness of their fellowship.

Before he went to Spain, he had another mission to perform. He was going to Jerusalem to deliver contributions from the Gentile churches to the poor saints in Jerusalem.

From this and other passages, we know which churches were making contributions for the poor saints in Jerusalem, 2 Corinthians 8:1 / 2 Corinthians 9:2, how the funds were to be raised, 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, and how it was to be taken to Jerusalem, 1 Corinthians 16:3-4 / 2 Corinthians 8:16-24.

‘It pleased them indeed’, the Gentile churches were delighted to be able to share with the poor saints at Jerusalem.

‘They are their debtors,’ and so, he now gives the reason for the Gentile Christians helping the poor saints in Jerusalem.

‘Partakers of their spiritual things’, the spiritual things had their origin among the Jews. See also Romans 11:17-18.

‘Their duty is also to minister to them in material things’, means since the Jews had shared the blessings of the gospel with the Gentiles, it was only natural for the Gentiles to now share with the Jews their physical blessings. In 1 Corinthians 9:11, Paul makes this same argument for the support of those who preach the Gospel.

‘Made sure’, speaks of when he had secured it to them (the contribution to the poor saints in Jerusalem). To seal a writing, contract, deed, etc., was to authenticate it, to make it sure.

Paul was going to Jerusalem, himself, to see that it was placed securely in the hands of the poor saints.

‘This fruit’, means the contribution to the poor saints. The fruit (benevolence) that the Gentile churches had produced.

‘I shall go by way of you to Spain’, again, he mentions his desire and plans to go there; however, we have no record of his accomplishing it. ‘In the fullness of the blessing of the gospel,’ he would come to Rome with full and abundant blessings supplied through the Gospel of Christ. Romans 1:11-12.

Though he later went as a prisoner, he was able to preach to all, Acts 28:30-31, and no doubt to impart spiritual gifts to many, Romans 1:11-12. His mission was accomplished, though differently than he had expected.

“I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favourably received by the Lord’s people there, so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen.” Romans 15:30-33

‘I beg urge you, brethren’, Paul often incited his brethren to good works and so should we, Hebrews 10:24.

‘Through the Lord Jesus Christ’, he makes his appeal through (on account of, based on) the Lord Jesus Christ (because of His authority and will).

‘Through the love of the Spirit’, he also makes his appeal based on the love which the Holy Spirit compels to be in us.

‘Join me’, literally means, ‘to carry on a combat or conflict in company with another.’

He was striving (wrestling) in prayers and wanted others to participate in the same. 2 Corinthians 1:11. ‘For me’, Paul often asked for the prayers of the saints and so should we. Ephesians 6:18.

Paul asks the Roman Christians to make four requests for him in their prayers:

1. ‘That I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe’, his request here is the same as in 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2. The evil Jews in Jerusalem would have put Paul to death, but he was delivered by the Roman soldiers. Acts 21:27-32 / Acts 23:12 / Acts 23:23-24. And so, by God’s providence, he was delivered from those who did not believe.

2. ‘That my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints’, Paul feared that the poor saints in Jerusalem, through their Jewish prejudices, might decline relief from Gentiles. It appears that Paul was not disappointed, and the contribution served to cement the universal spirit of brotherhood among the saints.

3. ‘That I may come to you with joy’, Paul went there on an all-expenses-paid trip by the Roman government! Acts 25:10-11/ Acts 26:32 / Acts 27:1-28:14. ‘By the will of God,’ we can do something only if it is the Lord’s will. James 4:15.

4. ‘And may be refreshed together with you’, no doubt Paul was able to spend time with many of these saints who had read and studied his epistle. Acts 28:30-31. Paul was refreshed by the Roman saints before he arrived in Rome. Acts 28:14-15.

God is the author of peace and the One who imparts it. Paul often made this request. No greater blessing could be wished upon anyone. ‘Amen’, means may it be so, that is, may the God of peace be with all of you.

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