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The use of Christian liberty (14:1-15:13)
Although Christians are free from religious rules and regulations such as those found in Moses’ law, some have difficulty living with such freedom. Because their faith is not strong, they have their own laws which they feel bound to keep. Other Christians should accept such people warmly into their fellowship and not argue with them about personal opinions (14:1).
Some of the Jewish Christians in the church in Rome had grown little in their faith and still kept old Jewish food laws, but stronger Christians ate any food at all. Paul warns the stronger Christians not to look down on their weaker fellows, and warns the weaker ones not to criticize those who feel free to eat anything. Christians are servants of the Lord, and he is able to uphold them even when their fellow Christians might think they will fall (2-4).
In addition to keeping food laws, some Jewish Christians observed special holy days. The principle of the individual’s responsibility to Christ again applies. Both strong and weak Christians recognize Christ’s lordship in such matters, and all should make up their minds about what they believe is right for them in the circumstances (5-6). Christians live not to please themselves but to please Christ, who bought them for himself through his death and resurrection. They are answerable to him for all their actions (7-9). Christ the Lord is the one who will judge his servants. Those servants have no need to judge each other (10-12).
It is better that all Christians, instead of judging each other, make sure they do not damage others by causing them to do wrong. Things that are harmless to some people are sinful to others (13-14). Weaker believers may feel that a certain action is wrong, but if they see stronger believers doing it and they follow their example, they sin against their conscience. The liberty of the stronger believers therefore becomes a cause of sin. It leads weaker believers to do what they feel is wrong, and this in turn could bring ruin to their Christian lives (15-16). The important things in the Christian life are not food and drink, but the things that bring about peace and upbuilding (17-19).
Happy indeed are Christians of strong faith whose consciences are not in bondage to laws and rules concerning matters of lesser importance. But in certain circumstances they should refuse to exercise the freedom that their consciences allow, so that their actions do not spoil the work of God in the lives of others (20-23).
The strong must have a sympathetic understanding of the weak, and not act to please only themselves. Christ is the perfect example of one who always acted out of consideration for others, no matter what it cost him (15:1-3). Through the Scriptures, as well as through the example of Christ, God encourages Christians to live in unity with one another (4-6).
Christ received all and served all, whether strong or weak, Jew or Gentile, and Christians must do the same (7-9). Jewish Christians should be thankful for Christ’s faithfulness in fulfilling the promises given to Israel. Gentile Christians should be thankful for his mercy in extending salvation to them (10-12). Both should rejoice together in the hope, joy and peace that God gives through the Holy Spirit (13; cf. 14:17).
15:14-16:27 PLANS, GREETINGS AND FAREWELL
Mission to Gentiles and Jews (15:14-33)
Paul has not written to the Roman believers because he doubts their ability to understand or teach the truth. He has written because he wants to give them added assurance in the principles of the gospel that they have already received. This is because, as apostle to the Gentiles, he wishes that the work among the Gentiles everywhere, including Rome, be acceptable to God (14-16). Paul has good reason to be pleased as he thinks of his mission among the Gentiles, though his emphasis is not on what he has done but on what God has done through him (17-19a). He has preached the gospel among the Gentiles from Jerusalem to Illyricum (a region north-west of Greece), mainly in places where it has not been preached previously (19b-21).
This concern to make the gospel known in the unevangelized regions is the reason why Paul has not yet visited Rome (22). Now that he has finished his work in Greece, he feels free at last to go to Italy. From Rome he wants to move farther west and preach the gospel in other unevangelized areas, even as far as Spain (23-24). First, however, he is going to deliver a gift of money from the Gentile churches to the poor Christians in Jerusalem. He believes it is fitting that the Gentiles make this offering to their Jewish brothers, since they owe their salvation to the Jews in the first place (25-27). He will then come to Rome and go on to Spain (28-29).
Paul requests the prayers of the Christians in Rome on two specific matters. He asks them to pray firstly that the unbelieving Jews will not attack him, and secondly that the Jerusalem church will accept him gladly (30-33).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Romans 15". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24