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Bible Commentaries

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible
Romans 15

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

Romans CHAPTER 15

OUTLINE AND COMMENTARY-MARK DUNAGAN

I. OUTLINE OF CHAPTER 15:

I. Please Your Neighbor:

II. The Basis for Mutual Acceptance:

III. Paul"s Purpose in Writing to Them:

IV. Plans Past, Present and Future:

V. Paul Desires Their Prayers:

II. INTRODUCTION TO CHAPTER 15:

"Paul concludes his words on Christian liberty and Christian charity by adducing the example of Christ. Who was more free from taboos and inhibitions than He? Yet who was more careful to bear with the weaknesses of others?..."Even Christ pleased not himself"; if He had done so we might wonder in what respect His life and ministry would have taken a different course from the course they did take. But the sense is that Christ did not put His own interests or welfare first (cf. Philippians 2:5 ff)."

"In the preceding chapter the apostle has urged the "weak" not to condemn the "strong" and the "strong" not to tempt or needlessly offend the "weak". Here he enjoins both classes to show mutual forbearance and love, following the example of Christ as set forth in the Scriptures."

"In Romans 14:1-12, the "strong"..are instructed to receive the "weak" brother. In 14:13-23, they are told to edify him. And now in 15:1-7 they are told to please him. In doing so, Paul demonstrates that one will be following Christ."

III. COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER 15:


Verse 1

Romans 15:1 Now we that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

"Now"-"is progressive; it means, "to proceed with the matter in hand." (McGarvey p. 532)

"we"-"It is a characteristic of Paul"s to identify himself with those on whom he lays especial burdens." (McGarvey p. 532) Paul places himself in the "strong" category.

"strong"-in the sense described in Chapter 14. Those who have been able to bring their consciences in line with the truth on such things as food.

Point to Note:

This section isn"t teaching that the spiritually mature must allow "weak" Christians to remain in their sins. A different approach is to be taken when sin is involved. (Matthew 18:15 ff; Luke 17:3). Strong and weak in these verses don"t refer to "moral" strength and weakness. For God doesn"t excuse or make allowances for anyone, even the most recent of converts when it comes to immoral behaviour. (Acts 8:20-23; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21)

Compared to Jesus, everyone was "weak". But the areas that Jesus didn"t "put up with", were areas that involved the violation of God"s will. Those areas often received a swift rebuke. (Matthew 16:23; Matthew 19:23-24; Luke 9:55; Matthew 23:1-39; Mark 16:14)

"ought"-"Most scrupulous brethren would tend to place themselves in the "strong" column. But, if so, such demands attendant obligations." (Green p. 14)

-"under obligation we are" (Lenski p. 857) "Strength in the gospel always brings upon it"s owner the obligation and command to SERVE (Galatians 6:2), and the one who truly serves must eliminate his self-conceit and arrogance." (McGarvey p. 532)

"bear"-941. bastazo {bas-tad"-zo}; perhaps remotely derived from the base of 939 (through the idea of removal); to lift, literally or figuratively (endure, declare, sustain, receive, etc.): -bear, carry, take up.

-"bear with or tolerate" (Hodge). To bear with, to be indulgent to, to endure patiently, not to contend with. (Barnes p. 318)

"infirmities"-in the context, the "infirmity" of the weak brother is his inability at this point in time to line up his conscience with something that God says he can do.

Points to Note:

1. "We are not to bombast him, ridicule him, despise him or isolate him." (McGuiggan p. 410)

2. Placing yourself in the "strong" category is placing yourself under obligation to serve, bear with and accommodate yourself to the tender consciences of others in matters of indifference. Paul did. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)

3. The word "bear with", suggests that this may be an inconvenience at times. Forgoing a juicy steak for a weak brother will test our love and patience. But the truly "strong", are willing to make such sacrifices without complaint.

4. "The Christian fellowship should be marked by the consideration of its members for each other. But it is to be noted that this consideration must not degenerate into an easy-going, sentimental, pliable laxity. It must always be designed for the other person"s good, and for his upbuilding in the faith. It is not the toleration which tolerates because it is too lazy to do anything else.."

"and not to please ourselves"-"It is so easy for a man whose own conscience is quite clear about some course of action to snap his fingers at his critics and say "I"ll please myself."" (F.F. Bruce p. 254)

Often the temptation of the "strong", is to think, "Well, I don"t have any problems with this, it doesn"t bother me and if you can"t handle it, that"s your problem. And I"m not about to let the silly "scruple" of another Christian to spoil my fun." Such an attitude makes us into liabilities rather than assets.


Verse 2

Romans 15:2 Let each one of us please his neighbor for that which is good, unto edifying.

"Each one of us"-this applies to all Christians.

The command of verse 1 applies to every Christian. "The weak one may indeed be a man of outstanding character and faith in all other areas and the strong may be weak in many other areas. The principle is true that the strong (in any area) ought to bear the infirmities of the weak (in any area)." (McGuiggan p. 410)

"please his neighbor for that which is good"-"for that which is good", reminds us that this "pleasing", doesn"t refer to allowing a brother to remain in sin, or tolerating the evil practices of another Christian. (1 Corinthians 5:1-13) "Not to please men just for popular favors, but for their benefit." (Robertson p. 417)

"unto edifying"-"where it serves a good purpose by building up his faith" (Knox); "for good ends, to build him up" (Con); "to help him grow." (Beck); "and help in his development" (Gspd). "Good" here is defined as that which promotes the spiritual advancement of another. This isn"t "men-pleasing" (Ephesians 6:6), but rather pleasing a neighbor in a way that pleases God. The same truth is taught in 14:19 and 1 Corinthians 10:33.

"The only objection that the strong can urge against yielding to the weak is that to do so involves them in great sacrifice. In answer to this argument Paul sets forth the example of Christ. How can he that is self-pleasing and that shrinks from sacrifice, make claim to be the disciple and follower of the One whose life was the supreme self-sacrifice of the annals of all time?"


Verse 3

Romans 15:3 For Christ also pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell upon me.

"also pleased not himself"-"Summing up the life of Christ, Peter (Acts 10:38), speaks of him as going about "doing good". Paul here scans his life and says, "He pleased not himself". The first words ever recorded of Christ were, "I must be about my Father"s business" (Luke 2:49)....Some of the things Christ did were utterly astounding. Think of his feeding five thousand with so little. Think of his walking on the sea and think of his calm rebuke of the winds and the waves. Some of the things he didn"t do are equally astounding. He refuses to feed his hungering body with bread he could have make out of stones. He stopped a twelve-year flow of blood for a poor miserable lady but bled himself dry in suffering. He pleased not himself! He angrily protested the abuse of people by the servants of Annas in the temple and painfully endured the abuse the son-in-law and servants of Annas heaped on him before and during the crucifixion."

We don"t like to hear what Paul said in verses . We are always thinking about "our rights". We don"t like our liberties to be limited by the conscience of another. We don"t like to give up anything in matters of indifference. We feel that if we give in once, people will abuse us and take advantage of us and that we"ll be the one"s doing all the sacrificing. Well, are those fears going to stop us? I can think of many reasons why I shouldn"t apply what Paul taught in 15:1-2. But verse 3, makes all those reasons look so selfish and weak. Verse 3 is the make it or break it verse. Am I simply pretending to be a Christian, or, am I willing to follow Christ all the way? Are we First Century Christians in name only? Or do we act like true disciples of the Master?

"as it is written"- Psalms 69:9. This Psalm is used over and over again in the New Testament in application to Jesus. See John 2:17.

"the reproaches of them that reproached thee fell upon me"

"reproaches"-3679. oneidizo {on-i-did"-zo}; from 3681; to defame, i.e. rail at, chide, taunt: -cast in teeth, (suffer) reproach, revile, upbraid. "The abuses of those who abused you fell on me." (Ber)

Points to Note:

1. "Christ was willing to suffer reproach and contempt in order to do good to others." (Barnes p. 320)

2. Christ was so willing not to please himself, that abuse and violence didn"t even deter him from serving and dying for others. What insignificant things are we unwilling to give up for others? What "small" things do we allow to come between us and our brethren?

"If we think that we are making some monumental sacrifice when we give up some little liberty for the sake of another"s welfare, let"s try measuring our effort by the cross of our Lord!" (Green p. 14)

3. Christ so identified himself with those in need, that he was ridiculed for it. (Luke 15:1-2)

"He was bearing the reproaches for God that were being directed at God....It is not bearing the weaknesses of the weak to walk with them and at the same time berate them so that onlookers can see that we are "slumming" with the weak. No, he who would bear the weaknesses of the weak identifies himself with the weak; refuses to isolate him..." (McGuiggan p. 411)

Jesus endured much ridicule for associating "too closely" with people who needed salvation. (Matthew 9:10-11; Matthew 11:19)


Verse 4

Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the scriptures we might have hope.

"For"-and here is why Paul quotes from the O.T. "Paul could have easily presented evidence for the preceding point (that Christ pleased not himself) from many actual examples in the life of Jesus. But instead he made use of an O.T. passage and thereby taught a most important lesson." (Green p. 14)

"whatsoever"-not only this Scripture (Psalms 69:9), but all others, "whatever else was written down too!"

Points to Note:

1. "This passage clearly implies the accuracy in the transmission of the O.T. Paul takes for granted that the Scriptures have been handed down to us so accurately that we can rely on what we read." (McGuiggan p. 412) A corrupted Bible, wouldn"t be able to teach us anything for sure about anything!

2. Everything that was recorded, was recorded for a definite purpose. To teach a specific lesson. Hence all the examples and events that compose the O.T. have a relevant lesson for all time. (1 Corinthians 10:1-13)

3. Scripture always has a broader application than to just those that lived during the event recorded. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Exodus 13:14 ff) Likewise, the N.T. letters were intended for a wider audience than just those that first received them. (Colossians 4:16)

4. Nothing is in the Bible by accident. (2 Peter 1:20-21) "Get your concordance and see for yourself how often Bible writers talk about their commission "to write"." (McGuiggan p. 412)

5. The God of the O.T. is the same as the God of the N.T. God still feels the same way about rebellion and disobedience to His commands. (1 Corinthians 10:1-13)

6. "Since "whatsoever" things written were written for our learning it"s clear that God teaches us by bad example as well as good. The unsavory elements in the lives of Abraham, Lot, Jacob, David and others were written so that we would learn to avoid what they didn"t avoid. In fact, this is what Paul explicitly said in 1 Corinthians 10:6-11)" (McGuiggan p. 413)

7. The person that claims that the O.T. is merely a collection of myths, stories and fables doesn"t have the support of Jesus or the apostles for such a view. (Matthew 22:31-32)

8. Never let anyone convince you that studying the O.T. or preaching from it consititutes an unprofitable exercise or a waste of time.

"that through patience"-"patient endurance and through the encouragement drawn from the Scriptures, we might hold fast to our hope." (TCNT) "It is that brave, steady "remaining under".." (Lenski p. 861)

"Patience is courageously staying in the battle under adverse circumstances. It isn"t resignation, it is a choosing to remain under in times of affliction; a refusing to back off. It doesn"t wait grimly for the end but grasps life and makes it serve its purpose." (McGuiggan p. 413)

"and through comfort of the Scriptures"-"from that study of Scripture the Christian draws encouragement...it gives us the record of God"s dealings with a nation, a record which is the demonstration that it is always better to be right with God and to suffer, than to be wrong with men and to avoid trouble...it gives us the great and precious promises of God...promises of a God who never breaks His word." (Barclay p. 214) From the Scriptures we learn that it always works out well, in the final end for those that hold on to God. (James 5:10-11)

"Comfort"-3874. paraklesis {par-ak"-lay-sis}; from 3870; imploration, hortation, solace: -comfort, consolation, exhortation, intreaty.

"A comforter..was someone called in to help. Not just to commiserate with but to encourage and strengthen...."Comfort" usually conjures up a welter of tears and someone gently empathizing with the weeping one. And that"s nice. And that"s legitimate. But comfort came from "fortis" (strength) and to comfort meant also to give strength to. It is to "encourage" (to put courage in)." (McGuiggan p. 413)

The Scriptures give us a tremendous amount of good reasons to hang in there. Just about the time we are tempted to think that nobody is serious about serving God anymore, we are reminded of Elijah"s miscalculation. Just about the time we start thinking that non-Christians enjoy a happier life than Christians, we are reminded of Psalms 73:1-28. Just about the time we start thinking that our nation has been completely taken over by humanists, we are reminded that God is still in control (the book of Daniel).


Verse 5

Romans 15:5 Now the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be of the same mind one with another according to Christ Jesus:

"Now the God of patience"-God doesn"t ask of us, what He Himself isn"t already doing. He has been and continues to be patient with us. (2 Peter 3:9; Ephesians 4:32) Through His word, God is also the provider of reasons to remain patient and endure. In addition, only God alone can give "true and real" comfort.

"Fortitude is an attitude of the heart to life...it is far more than patience; it is the triumphant adequacy which can cope with life.." (Barclay p. 214)

"grant you to be of the same mind"-"of one mind together" (Con) Here, "the same mind" means, the same disposition and attitude towards each other in matters of indifference. The same mind as outlined by Paul in verses 1-2.

"with another"-"Here both the "strong" and the "weak" are subjects of the apostle"s entreaty." (Green p. 14)

"according to Christ Jesus"-"agreeable to the example and command of Christ...either after the example of Christ, or according to His will, or both." (Green p. 16) "According to the character or example of Christ Jesus." (Robertson p. 418) The character or example of Christ has just been discussed. () Paul says, "treat each other and view each other as people who aren"t out to please themselves!" (Philippians 2:1-5)

"The one mind he calls for is a mind that is "according to Jesus Christ". One may play poker according to Hoyle, build automobiles according to Ford, play chess according to Fisher; but he must live unto God according to Jesus Christ. No substitute is acceptable says John 14:6. He who refuses to have the mind of Christ is not a Christian." (McGuiggan p. 415)

"Paul wishes here that the minds of his readers--their moral judgement and temper--may all be determined by Jesus Christ." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 709)


Verse 6

Romans 15:6 that with one accord ye may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

"one accord"-3661. homothumadon {hom-oth-oo-mad-on"}; adverb from a compound of the base of 3674 and 2372; unanimously: -with one accord (mind).

"With one accord speaks of unanimity of purpose and aim. It implies that all who are "of one accord" are aiming for the same thing." (McGuiggan p. 415) (Acts 1:14; Acts 2:1; Acts 4:24)

"glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"

Remember, God isn"t glorified by sin or teaching things that aren"t true. But God is glorified, when Christians treat each other with mutual patience in matters of indifference. God is glorified when Christians are seen to be more concerned about their brothers and sisters in Christ, than themselves. When Christians count their brothers more important than personal liberties that might cause someone to stumble. Paul says, Magnify God by demonstrating what Christianity can really do in your life!

"Richard Halverson has written: "What a phenomenon would a congregation like this be in our modern mind, twentieth century world: a congregation where each of the members was outdoing the others in serving each other, in loving each other, in caring for each other, in concern for each other."

Point to Note:

Many religious bodies want to make it where everyone can retain their own views and practices, nobody has to change anything, nobody has to give anything up and we can all just agree to disagree. But such doesn"t glorify God. In fact, such an attitude only glorifies the opinions of men and the people who hold them.


Verse 7

Romans 15:7 Wherefore receive ye one another, even as Christ also received you, to the glory of God.

"Wherefore"-"Therefore welcome one another" (Wey). Do this that God may be glorified.

"Receive"-same as

"one another"-this command is addressed to both the strong and the weak.

"even as Christ also received you"-they should receive each other, because Christ already has! Paul is not commanding Christians to embrace people who refuse to repent, rather he is commanding Christians to embrace Christians that God accepts. () Don"t despise each other, for Christ doesn"t despise either one of you.

"to the glory of God"-"God isn"t like a vain woman. He doesn"t insist that we praise him and tell him how wonderful he is. He is one who calls us to his service because it is in his service we find fulness of joy. Yes, of course he finds joy in our faithful serving of him but that joy is the result of his children doing themselves good by serving him. You parents know exactly what I mean. Even though you are sinners you know what it is to find real joy and pleasure in your child being a blessing to himself as he chooses to submit to your guidance." (McGuiggan p. 418)

"Jews are to receive Gentiles and Gentiles Jews..the rich are to receive the poor and the poor the rich; the ignorant are to receive the learned and the learned the ignorant; employers and employees, male and female--and all other categories, they are to receive one another "even as" Christ received them. Freely, lovingly, fully and happily, with great cost to himself.." (McGuiggan p. 417)

"There are a lot of "even as" passages which merit our consideration. We are to forgive one another "even as" God for Christ"s sake hath forgiven us. (Ephesians 4:32; Ephesians 5:2; Colossians 3:13) Here is the test for all areas of our lives. Live in them "even as" Christ has lived in them. Husbands are to love their wives "even as" Christ loved the Church...this isn"t sinlessness; it is a call to saints to live according to their capacity as Christ lived." (McGuiggan p. 418)


Verse 8

Romans 15:8 For I say that Christ hath been made a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, that he might confirm the promises {given} unto the fathers,

"For I say"-"verses 8-13 imply that the differences over foods and days which have been discussed was based upon the religious and cultural differences between Jews and Gentiles. Yet, Jesus received both Jews and Gentiles." (Green p. 13)

-"I affirm or maintain" (Barnes p. 322)

Paul now elaborates on "how" Christ received both Jews and Gentiles.

"hath been made"-"is a perfect passive. Christ was made (by God) a minister of the circumcision and was still a minister of the circumcision while Paul wrote. Paul has made it clear that God hadn"t changed his mind about blessing Jews. ()" (McGuiggan p. 418)

"a minister of the circumcision...that he might confirm the promises given unto the fathers"

"minister"-Christ came to "serve" (Mark 10:45; Luke 22:27).

"of the circumcision"-"became a servant of the Jewish people" (NEB). (Matthew 15:24)

Here Paul reminds the Gentiles, the Messiah was Jewish! This was Israel"s Messiah to begin with. Jesus came to this earth to confirm the truthfulness of the promises that had been made to the ancestors of the Jews (the promises to Abraham- Genesis 12:1-20/22; Isaac- Genesis 26:1-35; Jacob- Genesis 28:1-22; David- 2 Samuel 7:1-29), He fulfilled what the prophets had said, He was Israel"s deliverer. (Luke 24:44-46; Acts 3:24-26)

"confirm"-950. bebaioo {beb-ah-yo"-o}; from 949; to stabilitate (figuratively): -confirm, (e-)stablish.

"To confirm means by fulfillment." (Lenski p. 868) "In carrying out the promises made to our forefathers." (Gspd) That is, "to maintain the truth of God by making good his promises to the patriarchs" (NEB)

Point to Note:

Christ came to confirm the truthfulness of God"s promises to the patriarchs, by fulfilling those promises. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob or even David were fulfilled by Christ. The Premillennial viewpoint is false.


Verse 9

Romans 15:9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, Therefore will I give praise unto thee among the Gentiles, And sing unto thy name.

"and that"-"This is also why Christ came...He also came to give Gentiles reason to rejoice over God"s mercy. There"s no point in denying that because Paul is able to quote scripture to support the notion." (McGuiggan p. 419)

"Let us be reminded of the fellow who wrote this. Paul had not been easily persuaded of this truth. He was Hebrew of the Hebrews and a Pharisee of the Pharisees! But once he accepted Jesus as his Lord, his attitude was: "Speak, Lord, thy servant heareth". And when he was commissioned as a special vessel to bear the name of Christ before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15), he did not argue or quibble. He went." (Green p. 13)

"as it is written"-"Isn"t it interesting to note that Paul viewed the Scriptures as the end of all argument? And isn"t it also interesting that he thought it would hold sway with those around him. Whatever else the modern views of the Bible"s authority are, they aren"t first century. Men in those days (and before) thought the Scripture couldn"t be broken. If the Bible said it, that was the end of that. And as I"ve already mentioned, such use of scriptures implies that the Scriptures have been transmitted faithfully throughout the centuries." (McGuiggan p. 419)

"Therefore will I give praise unto thee among the Gentiles, And sing unto thy name"- Psalms 18:49 "It pictures the Christ Himself in the midst of the Gentiles, praising God." (Green p. 13)

Point to Note:

It is interesting to note, that of all the "music" passages that exist in the O.T., only the ones that mention "singing" are quoted in the N.T. (See also Hebrews 2:12)


Verse 10

Romans 15:10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.

"he saith"- Deuteronomy 32:43. "His people" refers to the Jews, so here we have Gentiles being told to rejoice with the Jews, which implies that they could be "His people" also.


Verse 11

Romans 15:11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; And let all the peoples praise him.

"And again"- Psalms 117:1. A command for all peoples to praise the Lord, indicating that God was willing to accept such people, if they served Him.


Verse 12

Romans 15:12 And again, Isaiah saith, There shall be the root of Jesse, And he that ariseth to rule over the Gentiles; On him shall the Gentiles hope.

"Isaiah saith"- Isaiah 11:10

"That verse combines clearly the idea of Gentiles becoming servants to the Messiah who is of David"s line. In the one verse we have David"s successor and Gentile submission to him...it won"t hurt to mention that Paul thought Isaiah 11:1-16 was being fulfilled in his day. The salvation of the Gentile in his day was found written in Isaiah 11:1-16. Since in Paul"s day Isaiah 11:6 ff was not literally happening we conclude that Paul didn"t understand it literally. Had Paul believed that the "that day" of Isaiah 11:10 was the day when wolves literally laid down with lambs, he wouldn"t have applied it to his own day when wolves were not literally doing that...clearly Paul saw Isaiah 11:6 ff as a portrait of peace reminiscent of the garden of Eden." (McGuiggan p. 420)

"This prophecy is from Isaiah 11:10. Those of premillennial persuasion apply this O.T. text to a future utopia on earth..Yet, Paul quotes a verse from that very text and applies it to men of different backgrounds and cultures, Jews and Gentiles; in the church right now!" (Green p. 13)

"the root of Jesse"-i.e. Jesus Christ (Revelation 5:5; Revelation 22:16) The royal house that sprang from Jesse (David"s father) was cut down; from the root only a tender young sprout (Jesus) would grow up, so tiny and apparently so weak (considering His earthly background, advantages, and resources) compared with the old royal tree.

Point to Note:

Maybe many people are unpersuaded that Isaiah 11:6 ff is being fulfilled in the Church, when they fail to see truly changed lives! Maybe we are often the ones that cause the "problem in interpretation", by the selfish ways that we treat each other. Maybe if more of us actually applied Romans 15:1 ff, people might become more convinced of the proper interpretation of Isaiah 11:6 ff.


Verse 13

Romans 15:13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

"the God of hope"-the God who has removed us from the state of "no hope" (Ephesians 2:11-12). The God that the Gentiles could "hope" in also. (15:12) There is no hope apart from the God of the Bible. All other religious systems are "hopeless" systems. (Ephesians 4:4 "one hope"; 1 Thessalonians 4:13)

"fill you"-"When a person was "filled" with something he was acting under the impulse of that something. It was their motivating impulse." (McGuiggan p. 421)

"with all joy and peace"-to be filled with joy and peace, is to live a life characterized by such attitudes.

"in believing"-that"s the key. Truly trusting God and following His will, specifically His will outlined in the first part of this chapter, will bring true joy and peace.

"that ye may abound in hope"-"that...your whole life and outlook may be radiant with hope." (Phi) We need more members of the Church to "abound in hope", more members that refuse to abandon hope in converting others, or the success of the local congregation, or the belief that people can change.

"in the power of the Holy Spirit"-"by the power" (NASV). The Holy Spirit revealed this message of hope, peace and joy. How much joy, peace, faith and hope we are filled with, depends entirely on how willing we are to become 100% convicted of the Spirit"s teaching.


Verse 14

Romans 15:14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

"There are few passages which reveal Paul"s character better than this..Paul reveals himself as a man of tact. There is no angry rebuke here. He does not nag the brethren at Rome, nor does he speak to them like some angry schoolmaster...Paul was much more interested in what a man could be than in what a man was. Paul saw faults with utter clarity; and he dealt with faults with utter fidelity...He did not want to knock a man down and out; he did not criticize to cause hurt and pain; he spoke with honesty and with severity, but he always spoke because he wished to enable a man to be what he could be, and had never yet attained to being."

"Paul assures the Roman Christians that the teaching in his letter had not been given because he imagined they were incapable of teaching one another. He is well aware of their moral and intellectual quality, and what he has written is more by way of reminder of what they already know than instruction in the elements of Christianity." (F.F. Bruce p. 258)

"Yes, but what right had he to speak to them so? Did he think they were simpletons? He didn"t establish the church there. Who was he to lay down the law to people he hadn"t even seen? What follows is courtesy and explanation." (McGuiggan p. 426)

"I myself am persuaded of you, my brethren"-"I myself also am convinced" (NASV) Paul means every word that he says.

"that ye yourselves are full of goodness"-the situation described in Roman 14, wasn"t the whole story concerning the Church in Rome. In fact, only a small minority might have been causing problems.

"filled with all knowledge"-which leads to the next point. Having sufficient knowledge to:

"able also to admonish one another"-"well able to give advice to one another." (TCNT); "and well qualified to instruct one another." (Gspd); "Competent to counsel one another" (Wms)

"He wasn"t foolishly naive. He had some grounds for saying what he says here. Look at the kind of people he knew in at Rome (Chapter 16)." (McGuiggan p. 426)

"A preacher who scolds and criticizes all the time never brings out the best that is in men." (Whiteside p. 284)


Verse 15

Romans 15:15 But I write the more boldly unto you in some measure, as putting you again in remembrance, because of the grace that was given me of God,

"more boldly"-"very boldly to you on some points" (NASV), "rather boldly" (Lenski p. 877). Paul spoke real plain in various parts of this letter. (,19; 8:9; 11:17; 14:3,4,10, etc..)

"as putting you again in remembrance"-"Nevertheless he has written, even with considerable boldness and frankness, not so much to tell them new truths as to remind them of those they had already received." (Erdman p. 164) (2 Peter 1:12-13; Titus 3:1)

"because of the grace that was given me of God"-By God"s favor Paul had been appointed as the apostle to the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:8). In writing to them and reminding them of truths that some might have forgotten, Paul was simply exercising the privilege and responsibility given him by God.

"It is not wantonly, but in the exercise of a Divine vocation, and a divinely-bestowed competence for it, that he writes." (Gr. Ex. p. 711)


Verse 16

Romans 15:16 that I should be a minister of Christ Jesus unto the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be made acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

"that I should be a minister of Christ Jesus unto the Gentiles"-Paul was especially selected by God as the apostle to the Gentiles. (Acts 9:15; Acts 22:21; Acts 26:17)

"ministering"-to work in sacred things, to minister as a priest. (Robertson p. 420) Paul viewed preaching the gospel as a "sacred thing". The N.T. informs us that every Christian is in the business of offering up spiritual sacrifices, every Christian is a priest. (Romans 12:1; 1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9; Hebrews 13:15-16) "It takes no brilliant mind to see that this makes ministering the work of God an exalted and holy privilege." (McGuiggan p. 429)

"that the offering up of the Gentiles"-the "sacrifice" that Paul brought before God were those Gentiles that he had converted.

"being sanctified by the Holy Spirit"-as in the O.T. all sacrifices had to meet with God"s approval in order to be accepted by Him. Gentiles are acceptable to God when they have allowed themselves to be changed and set apart from the world by the teaching of the Holy Spirit. (John 17:17; Acts 20:32)

"We are said to be sanctified by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 10:29); by the word of God (John 17:17); by faith (Acts 26:18); by baptism (Ephesians 5:26)...It is clear the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the ones who sanctify us and that the Word and submission to it are elements in the process of accomplishing our sanctification." (McGuiggan p. 429)

Point to Note:

This verse should make us seriously reflect about the manner in which we teach people. We are bringing people to God as a sacrifice. But the sacrifice must be acceptable. We cannot change the plan of salvation, nor lower the standards of morality. We must impress people with the fact that God will not accept half-hearted followers. We must feel the responsibility of teaching others well.


Verse 17

Romans 15:17 I have therefore my glorifying in Christ Jesus in things pertaining to God.

"in things pertaining to God"-(1 Corinthians 1:31; Jeremiah 9:23-24). "Paul found personal gratification not in selfish goals and attainments but in preaching the gospel and in spiritual service." (Green p. 16)

"Some to whom he was writing might think Paul had his nerve to write to them. After all, they weren"t Paul"s work. What was he doing "cashing in on" the work of others. Perhaps he"s a glory-hunter. The reason Paul writes to them (and sometimes boldly) is not to butt in and gain glory. He was given a special commission by God to minister the word to Gentiles and this is what he is fulfilling ()" (McGuiggan pp. 429-430)

Note: Paul didn"t glory in Judaism, neither did he glory in the past. Rather, he took pride in what was being accomplished for Christ Jesus. After all, that"s really the only important thing there is.


Verse 18

Romans 15:18 For I will not dare to speak of any things save those which Christ wrought through me, for the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed,

"For I will not dare to speak"-"Paul saw himself, in the scheme of things, as an instrument in the hands of Christ. He did not talk of what he had done; but of what Christ had done with him." (Barclay p. 222)

"which Christ wrought through me"-"what Christ has accomplished through me" (NASV). Paul allowed himself to be used as Christ"s instrument to bring Gentiles to obedience. Such was accomplished by preaching ("word") and the life that Paul demonstrated ("deed"). And there"s nothing mysterious about allowing Christ to accomplish things through you. All you have to do is submit to His Will. (1 Corinthians 3:4-7; Romans 6:13; Romans 6:16) This means that if we find ourselves not accomplishing much for God, it means that we aren"t cooperating with Him.


Verse 19

Romans 15:19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Holy Spirit; so that from Jerusalem, and round about even unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ;

"in the power of signs and wonders"-Jesus had also used Paul as an instrument to work miracles through. (2 Corinthians 12:12) These miracles were designed to get people"s attention, and point them to the message that was being preached by the worker of the miracle. (John 3:2; John 5:36; John 10:37-38)

"in the power of the Holy Spirit"-"in connection with the Holy Spirit"s power" (Lenski p. 884); "through the power of the Holy Spirit." (TCNT)

"so that from Jerusalem"-where we find him preaching at the end of Acts chapter 9.

"round about"-"He says that in a grand sweep through Asia Minor and southern Europe he delivered the gospel message and reached as far as Illyricum." (Lenski p. 885)

"I have fully preached the gospel Christ"-"He had done this by preaching it in every province between the limits named (not to every individual), and had thus discharged his apostolic commission in that part of the Gentile world." (F.F. Bruce p. 261)

"Illyricum"-"The area in which Paul preached the gospel covered some 1400 miles. Illyricum was a Roman province north of Macedonia which was in recent history part of Yugoslavia." (Green p. 16)


Verse 20

Romans 15:20 yea, making it my aim so to preach the gospel, not where Christ was {already} named, that I might not build upon another man"s foundation;

"making it my aim"-this was Paul"s ambition. His personal goal. "This man was unashamed to say what he aimed at." (McGuiggan p. 431)

"not where Christ was already named"-Paul"s goal was to preach the gospel where Christianity wasn"t yet known. Is there anything wrong in preaching in areas where Christianity is already established? No. (1 Corinthians 3:10) Others would build on the foundation that Paul laid in preaching, like Apollos that followed Paul at Corinth, or Timothy whom Paul left in Ephesus.


Verse 21

Romans 15:21 but, as it is written, They shall see, to whom no tidings of him came, And they who have not heard shall understand.

"as it is written"- Isaiah 52:15. Again Paul proves from Scripture that he is fulfilling God"s plan by preaching to Gentiles. "They who have not heard", are clearly Gentiles, and Scripture specifically said, "they...shall understand". Paul is fulfilling this by preaching the gospel to them.


Verse 22

Romans 15:22 Wherefore also I was hindered these many times from coming to you:

"hindered these many times"-this answers the question that some might have had, "If Paul is so eager to see us, as he claims, why the delay?" "He had been too occupied with preaching the gospel where Christ had not been preached, and thus laying the foundation in alien territory, to fulfill his long desired plans to visit Rome."

"hindered"-"imperfect tense, denoting continuousness, and implying a succession of hindrances." (Vincent p. 175) (Romans 1:13) These verses imply that Paul"s travel plans weren"t always inspired.


Verse 23

Romans 15:23 but now, having no more any place in these regions, and having these many years a longing to come unto you,

"no more any place in these regions"-Paul was apparently in Corinth when he wrote this epistle (; 16:23; 1 Corinthians 1:14). "He doesn"t tell us how he had determined this but he knew his situation." (McGuiggan p. 432)

"place"-Scope, opportunity. (Vincent p. 175). Territory where Christ isn"t known. (McGarvey p. 540) Oh, that we would so preach the gospel in our vicinity, that we would run out of "place", where people don"t know about the Church of Christ.


Verse 24

Romans 15:24 whensoever I go unto Spain (for I hope to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first in some measure I shall have been satisfied with your company)--

"whensoever I go unto Spain"-"Spain was at the very western end of Europe. It was in one sense the then limit of the civilized world, and the very fact that it was such would lure Paul on to preach there. He would characteristically wish to take the good news of God so far that he could not take it farther." (Barclay p. 223)

"This man is tireless. He"s a dreamer of dreams although is no "mere" dreamer. Dreamers for God are restless people. Always seeking out other ways, other places, other opportunities to minister for God." (McGuiggan p. 432)

"and to be brought on my way thitherward by you"-"that is, supply his needs. Be hospitable toward him...He invites them into fellowship with him in his work. Paul had learned not only to give but to receive...the one sure way to make friends is to put yourself in debt to others. (1 Corinthians 16:6; 1 Corinthians 16:11)" (McGuiggan p. 432) (2 Corinthians 1:16; Titus 3:13; 2 John 1:6).

"in some measure"-"Paul adds that he does not expect to get enough of this delightful, satisfying contact, only "in part", "in some measure"...He would like to make his stay much longer, but his apostolic work of laying new foundations will drive him on to new regions." (Lenski p. 890)

"satisfied with your company"-"Lit., filled full: satiated". (Vincent p. 175) "Get my fill of you" (Robertson p. 422) "After I have had the satisfaction of seeing you all." (Phi)

Point to Note:

We claim to be the Church of the First Century, we claim to be Christians, and yet do we have the desire to be with other Christians that these people had?


Verse 25

Romans 15:25 but now, I {say}, I go unto Jerusalem, ministering unto the saints.

"First, however, he must go in exactly the opposite direction; he must start eastward to carry relief to the needy Christians in Jerusalem." (Erdman p. 166)


Verse 26

Romans 15:26 For it hath been the good pleasure of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints that are at Jerusalem.

"good pleasure"-"have been pleased to make" (NASV). This contribution had been made with pleasure by the Christians in Macedonia and Achaia. For the passages concerning the collection of this money see (1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians Chapters 8-9).

"for the poor among the saints that are at Jerusalem"

"In a city like Jerusalem much of the available employment must have been connected with the Temple and the needs of the Temple. All the priests and the Temple authorities were Sadducees, and the Sadducees were the supreme enemies of Jesus. It must therefore have happened that many a man, when he became a Christian in Jerusalem lost his job and was sore in need." (Barclay p. 224)


Verse 27

Romans 15:27 Yea, it hath been their good pleasure; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, they owe it {to them} also to minister unto them in carnal things.

The Church in Jerusalem had sent out members preaching the word in all directions. (Acts 8:4) Some of those members had established the Church in Antioch (Acts 11:19-21), even then the church in Jerusalem had sent Barnabas to encourage these new converts. (11:22) The congregation in Antioch supported Paul in his various preaching tours. (Acts 13:3; Acts 14:26-28; Acts 15:1-3; Acts 15:35; Acts 18:22-23) The Gentile world of converts owed much to that original congregation in Jerusalem. "In view of this, an obligation rested upon them to now come to the rescue of these Jewish Christians who had become outcasts because of their faith in Christ." (Green p. 13)


Verse 28

Romans 15:28 When therefore I have accomplished this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will go on by you unto Spain.

"sealed to them this fruit"-"seen this contribution safely into their possession." (Gspd)


Verse 29

Romans 15:29 And I know that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of Christ.

"in the fulness of the blessing of Christ"-"Paul"s desire to visit them was not selfish. He knew that he would be a source of blessing to these saints. He believed that his efforts in Rome would be crowned with success, and would be productive of good in the lives of these brethren." (Green p. 13)


Verse 30

Romans 15:30 Now I beseech you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;

"by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit"-"if you have any regard to Christ, or if the Holy Spirit has wrought in your heart any love to Christ or his people, I beseech you to pray for me." (Plummer)

"strive together with me"-implies strenuous effort. Here earnest prayer. (Vincent p. 176) (Colossians 4:12; Acts 12:5)

"But the man doesn"t believe he is the only one with something to offer (). He doesn"t believe he is the only on with a "hotline" to the Godhead." (McGuiggian p. 436)

Think about it: An apostle is asking for the prayers of "ordinary" members! "Paul takes it for granted that prayers make a difference..and Paul refuses to hide his needs. When he needs help he asks for it..What a freedom this man must have enjoyed. True he endured much pressure and loneliness and tears; but for all that he must have been one of the freest men who ever lived. He was utterly enslaved to Jesus Christ and altogether free. He was unashamed to ask for help." (McGuiggan p. 437)


Verse 31

Romans 15:31 that I may be delivered from them that are disobedient in Judaea, and {that} my ministration which {I have} for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints;

"that I may be delivered"-Paul had some specific "requests". Paul knew the "den of lions" that he faced in Judaea. Judaea was filled with unbelieving Jews that hated him (Acts 21:20 ff.

"The highest courage is to know that something perilous awaits us and still to go on." (Barclay p. 225)

When one conscientiously undertakes a task, knowing beforehand there are some things difficult, even unpleasant, but does so anyway because it needs to be done, he is a hero.

"may be acceptable to the saints"-"Did Paul have reason to believe the contribution might not be well received?" (McGuiggan p. 437) How would Jewish Christians handle a gift from Gentile Christians? In fact, some of the Jewish Christians weren"t sure about Paul"s teaching, they had heard some misinformation (Acts 21:20-21).


Verse 32

Romans 15:32 that I may come unto you in joy through the will of God, and together with you find rest.

"and together with you find rest"-i.e. that we may mutually refresh ourselves. (Alford p. 969) "Find rest and refreshment in their fellowship." (Erdman p. 166) "Paul looks forward to a time of joy and rest beyond these anxieties and dangers." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 717) "To reach rest amid friends, in undisturbed fellowship, for this Paul"s soul longed." (Lenski p. 896) "May be refreshed in your companionship." (Con)

Point to Note:

Are Christians "refreshed" and uplifted by my companionship, or, do they feel worse after being in my company? Even the most energetic and talented of Christians (Paul), needed some "refreshment" from the company of other Christians. (Colossians 4:11)


Verse 33

Romans 15:33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/romans-15.html. 1999-2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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