Romans 15

1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 4 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.

5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. – Romans 15:1-7 NIV

Examples of Christ

From chapter 14 we learned what Paul was referring to when you used the terms weak and strong. Paul opens this chapter up pushing right in with the obligation we have to other Christians. There is no way you can read these chapters and justify isolation and independence. If anyone did you can tell that they are cherry-picking scripture and not taking the book in its entirety as the truth.

We are not called to be just people-pleasers, we must remember to not just go with the flow. Our standard needs to be Christ. In Galatians chapter 1, Paul goes into detail a bit more:

10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10 ESV

We need to make sure that we are not self-pleasing, only looking out for ourselves. We need to set our foundation on Christ and the scriptures of the Holy Bible as our standard. We are suppose to set aside willfulness and self-pleasing actions for the sake of building others up for good. Our Christian convictions must not be a disguise for coldhearted treatment of our brothers and sisters. Also to not build up resentment when helping others. We are told here to “bear with the failings of the weak”, but don’t let your judgement creep into your heart. This is also an important area where you need balance in your life. If you surround yourself with a multitude of weak people, you will get burdened, weak and rundown. You need to have a good network of disciples to keep you sharp and strong.

What does Paul mean when he indicates we should please our neighbor for their good, to build them up?

Discipleship can be viewed like a physical therapist. When you to physical therapy, it is not to sit around and admire and discuss our pains. It is not to dwell on how well we used to be able to do things. There are discussions of limitations and of needs, but it does not take long and the therapist is beginning to encourage and lead us to take action. Now a good physical therapist does not just throw everything at the patient at once. They know the variety of exercises and techniques to build up the patient. Likewise, we should come along those weaker with the same objective. To help them get strong, to work out their weakness. We can acknowledge their weaknesses but work with them to build themselves up. We must be wise and not codependent enablers.

In verse 4 Paul gives us a great tool; the scriptures. We can get great insight and encouragement by reading the scriptures. This knowledge affects our attitude toward the present times and the future. The more we know about what God has done in the years past; the greater confidence we have about what he will do in the days ahead. We should have a practice of diligently reading our bibles to increase our trust that God’s will is best for us.

Multiple times Paul hits on the idea of endurance and encouragement.

Do you have any insight to why he paired these terms together?

row-teamTo really endure something it is going to take energy. It is going to be difficult. That is where encouragement comes in. If we don’t have encouragement we can become weak, and weakness leads us to vulnerable. This folds back to the idea of don’t immerse yourself into a situation where there is no one to build you up and encourage you. If you hang around with the weak too long, you will pick up their ways and adapt to fit in. You need your own encouragement and support. That is also why it is vital to support and encourage missionaries. They are in situations where they need encouragement for their own well-being. They are susceptible to transition into who they reach.

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. – Romans 15:8-13 ESV

Christ the Hope of Jews and Gentiles

When the bible refers to the circumcised, it is referring to the Jews, which were circumcised as a ritual. Paul is describing in this section the fact that Jesus came and fulfilled prophecy, being from the root or descendent of Jesse (David’s father).

Do you bound in hope?
If not, do you have any ideas what is limiting you?
If you do abound in hope, how to you obtain and maintain it?

We are given the slightest hint here of what Paul will cover in great detail when he writes to the Corinthians and to the Galatians, about the fruit of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit works in our hearts to shed love abroad and to produce the fruit of joy, peace, hope, forbearance, patience, kindness, goodness and humility. That is what the God of all hope does when he fills us with his love in the power of the Holy Spirit.

14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, 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.” – Romans 15:14-21 ESV

Paul the minister to the Gentiles

As Paul brings this theology heavy letter to a close he gets personal. Paul is aware that those who will receive this weighty epistle already know all he is writing to them about. Paul gives all credit to God, Jesus and not to his own works. He goes in full circle back to chapter one where he introduced himself as a bondservant of Jesus Christ.

One thing that Paul is famous for besides being a Christian murder is his constant credit to God for all his works. Paul did not glory in what he had done, but in what God had done through him. Being proud of God’s work is not a sin – it is worship. If you are not sure whether your pride is selfish or holy, ask yourself this question: Are you just as proud of what God is doing through other people as of what he is doing through you?

Can you share a time when you caught yourself not giving credit and thanks to something God was doing with others?

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, 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 blessing 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. – Romans 15:22-30 ESV

Paul’s visit to Rome

We know that Paul was writing to the Roman church, prior to his exile to be tried before Caesar. He indicates that he was intending to visit Rome but he was hindered.

What hindered Paul from going to Rome?

Paul had heard many good things about the Roman church and he felt is most productive time would be sharing the gospel, the good news, to areas that had not heard the message of Jesus Christ. It was very common for an early apostle to not go where another person had planted a church. Paul had planned to visit Rome on his way to Spain.

Why did Paul want to go to Spain?

As we know from Paul’s history in Athens, he loved a good challenge. Paul loved to share the truth about Jesus and he really enjoyed engaging with high-fluent people. Paul believed that had many great minds and influential leaders at the time. Paul thought that the Gospel would advance in that environment. Some new territory to get the “low-hanging” fruit.