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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Romans 15

Verses 1-13

  1. Intro:
    1. Phillips Brooks (great preacher, saw his church in Boston. Wrote “Oh Lil Town of Beth”) once asked the operator of a local livery stable for the best horse he had. He said, “I am taking my wife for a ride & I want the very best for the occasion.” The livery man hitched up the buggy & led the horse out, & said, “Dr. Brooks, this animal is as perfect as a horse could be. It is kind, gentle, intelligent, well-trained, obedient, willing, responds instantly to your every command, never kicks, balks, or bites, & lives only to please its driver.” The good doctor listened to it all & then whispered to the owner, “Do you suppose you could get that horse to join my church?
    2. We continue our discussion from ch.14 regarding strong & weak Christians…& their unity.
      1. We move from: don’t despise other Christians for their liberties or lack thereof in gray issues. And, don’t hinder their conduct. To now in the positive, to follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    3. Remember what we learned from Cain in Gen. 4:8,9 when asked where his brother Abel was, he responded, Am I my brother’s keeper?
      1. New Cent. Vers. "I don't know. Is it my job to take care of my brother?"
      2. NLT "Am I supposed to keep track of him wherever he goes?"
        1. Cain was a careless worshipper, an angry son, a murderer, & a ruthless wanderer. Knowing his history we would be safe in listening to his opinion…& GOING THE OPPOSITE WAY!
        2. The world says, “Am I my brother’s keeper”; but we should say, “I am my brother’s keeper”!
          1. Let’s learn how to care for them, as they are our kinsmen both in this life & in the next!
  2. UNITY! (1-6)
    1. Importance of Unity – It was on Jesus’ mind right before He died. When He prayed in Jn. 17:20,21 I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
      1. Are we making this come true?
      2. Are you making this come true?
        1. We ask Jesus, “why wont You answer my prayer?” Jesus asks us, “why wont you answer My prayer???”
      3. We like disputing doctrine with each others rather than gathering around the cross!
    2. Our Obligation! (1,2)
    3. (1) The strong must bear the weak & help them grow, & that takes love & patience. (www)
      1. And remember, Strength is for service not for status!
    4. Bear – not just putting up with them, or tolerating them. It means to personally shoulder their burdens…as if they were your own.
    5. (2) Why should we do this? Because we love them enough to want to help them toward maturity, toward their highest good.
      1. We need to stay close enough to them to be able to reach out & give them a little bit of steadying when it is needed.
      2. You probably did that when you taught your child to ride a bike!
        1. ​​​​​​​1st you held him/her up. Then, as they began to learn how to balance you just kept a hand in place, w/a light touch, & corrected the beginnings of a fall. Then you ran along side as they gained confidence in staying upright. Then you stood & watched & cheered. You cleaned up a few cuts & sent them out again. Then you watched them ride off on their own...Competent! Stronger! You helped!
    6. Our Example! (3)
    7. If we live to please ourselves, we will not follow the example of Christ who lived to please the Father & help others. (note: pleasing is Key, 3 x’s)
      1. Jesus didn't come to gratify self but to give self.
    8. Christ didn’t regard His equality w/God, as something to be used for His own pleasure.
      1. He didn’t come as a reigning Sovereign(though He could have)…but as a Sacrifice!
    9. (3b) From Ps.69:9. Not only did Christ give up His robes of deity & His very life…but He even sacrificed His innocence in exchange for our guilt. - For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us.
      1. I suppose we could sacrifice a few of our own freedoms to bring another believer to greater freedoms.
    10. Our Motivation! (4)
    11. Since He just quoted the O.T. he briefly comments about its nature & purpose.
      1. Like Paul, we too can look to them for truth & guidance.
      2. The OT is still relevant in the modern world, & will meet our deepest needs!
      3. It encourages us…by reading about God’s Attributes & character. By Reading the biographies of saints who overcame great obstacles. By direct Scriptures that call for endurance & speaks encouragement.
      4. It gives us Hope – God has promised us a wonderful future. The O.T. underlines, highlights, & illustrates that promise!
    12. Our Application! (5,6)
    13. (5) Jesus Christ is our model for Christian conduct.
      1. Check out all other deities, from the Assyrians, Babylonians, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Romans…check out all other Holy Books…No holy book calls God by such sympathetic & attractive names as the NT!
        1. He is the...God of all comfort, God of compassion, God of consolation, God of patience, God of peace, God of grace, God of glory, & the God of Hope.
    14. (6) One mind & One mouth - Someone said to General Eisenhower, "It's great how you were able to coordinate all the teams in that great enterprise(WWII)." The General quickly corrected him: "Not teams," he said, "but team."
      1. How can we be a united team?
      2. How can we be like-minded, 1-minded, 1-mouthed?
      3. Does it mean we as Christians should never disagree?
        1. I like Ruth Graham’s philosophy, she said regarding marriage, “If 2 people agree on everything, one of them isn’t needed.”
      4. See, it’s not about agreeing on everything, or coming to the same conclusions. (obvious from his discussion of weak/strong in ch.14)
      5. He is looking for unity of perspective. Think as Christ thinks. Take on His values & priorities.
      6. Unity produces symphony of praise to God.
        1. In a choir there are those who sing Alto, some that sing Soprano, some Tenor, some Baritone, & some Bass.
          1. Different parts & different pitches…but, beautiful harmony!
            1. And all are following the same choir director.
        2. In an orchestra there are those who play different instruments.
          1. Some play French Horn, some play flute, some clarinet, some Baritone, & some violin, trumpet, trombone.
          2. Different parts & different sounds…but, same song!
            1. All following the same conductor.
        3. The body of Christ is no different.
          1. Ps: Remember before an orchestra plays, each musician must tune his own individual instrument! (you in tune?)
    15. (6b) One mouth/voice Glorify God – What a goal!
      1. I think of the smile of the conductor at the end of a piece when he turns & bows to the audience.
        1. Saw this at Biola when Zach was in their choir. He was sure proud of his group!
        2. I picture God the same way, so proud of His kids.
  3. EXAMPLE (7-12)
    1. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​(7) Receive/Accept one another = to open our arms and hearts to each other.
      1. To value the individual so much that he or she experiences warmth and belonging.
    2. (7b) This is the standard by which acceptance is to be measured. “Just as Christ has received/ welcomed us”.
      1. So, how do we receive/accept them? As perfect, flawless? Of course not!
        1. When we trusted in Christ, He accepted us as forgiven & as having promise.
      2. “We had to accept being accepted even though we were unacceptable!”
        1. So we must accept one another though we may see some things in the other that are unacceptable!
        2. One man was asked, “Are you associating with that brother who is in error?” To which he replied, “That’s the only brothers I have!”
      3. Receive one another = (pres. Imper) “keep on accepting or receiving one another”.
        1. How? Greet those you normally don’t talk to. Minimizing differences. Seek common ground for fellowship.
          1. Christ exemplified this unifying spirit when he brought Jews & Gentiles together in one body.
    3. (9-12) Praise!
      1. ​​​​​​​These quotations are taken from all 3 divisions of the OT - The Law, The Prophets, and The Psalms.
        1. David in a song vowed to Praise God among the Gentiles. (9) Ps.18:49; 2 Sam.22:50
        2. Moses sang in his great hymn of victory over Pharaoh. (10) Deut.32:43
        3. The Psalmist called the Gentiles to lift their voices in praise to God. (11) Ps.117:1
          1. From both the shortest and the middle chapter of the Bible.
        4. Isaiah shares the messianic prophecy of the Messiah coming as a shoot springing up from the stump of David’s family line. (12) Is.11:10
      2. No less than five different Greek words for praise are used in three brief OT quotes, reminding us how significant praise is in God’s sight.
        1. Of all the songs in the book of Revelation, did you know not one is a solo!
          1. Ex: 4 living creatures sing; 24 elders; a multitude of angels; every creature.
        2. Spurgeon said, If someone asked what we want the Church to be, we would be pretty close to right if we said that we wanted it to be a choir. We should be anxious to build lives, belonging to Jesus, which harmonize w/each other in praise to God!
  4. PROVISION! (13)
    1. ​​​​​​​Hope = Confident expectation.
      1. This is one who has complete assurance about the future.
      2. There is a Natural hope and a Spiritual hope:
      3. ​​​​​​​Natural hope: (Dict. a feeling of expectation)
        1. Benjamin Franklin said, "He that lives upon hope will die fasting."
        2. An anonymous writer said that "hope is a quivering, nervous creature trying to be bright & cheerful but, alas, frequently sick abed with nervous prostration & heart failure."
      4. Spiritual hope:
        1. Hebrews 6:19 says, This hope we have as an anchor of the soul.
      5. Hopes overflow is what? but…Joy & Peace.
        1. They are also the 1st things to flee when you loose hope.
      6. Being glad is a decision of my will, not an expression of my emotions.
    2. By the power of the H.S. – We can start building bridges of unity today!
      1. Jesus & Paul placed a very high premium on unity…will you?
      2. Will you work toward making Jesus’ prayer of unity come true?
    3. The Order Paul laid out...We believe in Christ(vs.12 in him); then we experience fullness of joy; then we experience fullness of peace; then we abound in Hope.
      1. Our one great hope then is to believe on him. Will you?
    4. END - A famous wagon once stood in the city of Gordium in Asia Minor. Its yoke and pole were tied with an intricate knot. It was said that whoever untied the knot would be ruler of Asia. Alexander the Great came, severed the knot with one stroke of his sword, and the Gordian knot became proverbial.
      1. 1. We were bound by sin. Christ from his cross set us free with one stroke!

Verses 14-33

  1. Intro:
    1. One pastor said, “On my first pastorate, I had requested $20 per month from the board to pay someone to mow the lawn and care for the flowers on the church's property.” "The former pastor did that himself," the oldest board member quickly pointed out."I know," I replied, "But he doesn't want to do it any more!"1. That reminded me of Paul’s boldness in dealing with church situations he ran into.
    2. Verse 15:14 marks “the beginning of the end” of Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians.
  2. Slide#6 COMPETENT CHRISTIANITY! (14-21)
    1. Slide#7a Three Areas of Competence! (14)
      1. Full of Goodness – Not just an occasional virtuous act. But “goodness in plentiful supply.”
        1. It means: moral excellence, purity, kindness, uprightness, honesty, & good deeds.
        2. How will you know if you are “full” of goodness? – Well, as believers we are all like sponges. [As soon as you press on a sponge…you know exactly what it is full of!]
          1. Let’s watch what comes out of your life when you get placed under a little pressure!!!
      2. Filled w/all Knowledge – A little hyperbole. Of course they didn’t know all things.
        1. Filled w/all knowledge = “the whole range of”, or “every kind of”.
          1. “The implication is that the Romans had a firm grasp on the teachings required to skillfully fulfill their Christian duties.” Swindoll Romans pg.76
          2. When it comes to biblical knowledge...it isn’t supposed to be just to gain information; but to grow in our love & understanding of God & our fellow man.
      3. Able to Admonish one another – “to set things right”.
        1. Ever try to tell someone they were wrong, or that they needed to change? (one wrong word & KaBoom!)
          1. In this situation we need to “correct the mind, to put right what is wrong, & to improve the spiritual attitude.” Theological Dict. of the NT, pg.1019
        2. Still how do we do this? – To effect & influence fellow believers toward growth & change…we must engage in a loving relationship w/them!!!
          1. Prov.27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend.
        3. Haven’t our most painful experiences been when we've had a problem, and no one loved us enough to tell us about it?
    2. More Areas of Competence! (15,16)
    3. We are all ministers! (servants)
      1. Some are called to a Vocation as a missionary, pastor, para-church org., or on staff at a Church or Christian School.
      2. Others He calls as a Tentmaker, to witness for him as you make a living in a “non-religious” profession.
        1. No vocation is more sacred than another!
          1. A missionary is no more pleasing to God than a maid; A pastor no more spiritual than a plumber.
      3. What pleases God is obedience to His call, to serve wherever He places us.
    4. The offering – The figure is that of the OT sacrifices.
      1. Here, Paul uses it in reference to his own work in bringing the Gentiles to God as an offering, sanctified by the H.S.
    5. So, if we Yield to the Spirit’s power - we become morally good.
      By studying & applying the Scriptures – we can raise our level of knowledge.
      By admonishing one another – we can preserve the integrity of the body of Christ.
      By obeying & following our callings – we can participate in God’s plan, & thus it becomes an offering unto God.
    6. Are you fulfilling God’s calling on your life? (Simple test)
      1. Are you having a positive influence for God in the lives of others?
      2. Does your service give you pleasure?
      3. Are you passionate about your area of service?
      4. Are you making a difference with your life?
      5. Do you feel discontented, drained, & ineffective?
    7. Preaching Plans! (17-21)
    8. (17-19a) Glory in God’s doing…not my own, says Paul!
      1. He takes no credit for the extent of his ministry; the obedience of the Gentiles to Christ; the signs & wonders that accompanied his ministry; nor the power of the Spirit upon him!
      2. It wasn’t what he had done, but what God had done, through him!
      3. Paul could say, “God’s grace was my source; Jesus Christ my motivation; & the H.S. my power to accomplish it.”
    9. Round about (19) – To travel in a complete circle. The circle of nations Paul evangelized around the Mediterranean.
      1. Wow, what takes less than 10 seconds to say, actually took 10 yrs of strenuous labor to accomplish (his 3 missionary journeys).
    10. (20) To go where no man has gone before!
      1. It was Paul’s ambition to preach the gospel in pioneer areas that had never heard it.
      2. In Missions, it is our heart to do the same! (i.e. “un-reached people groups”)
        1. The Need is everywhere; but something else to consider is Availability or Access!
        2. In some areas the Word of God is readily accessible; for others there is no Church, no Scriptures, no voice!
    11. (21) This vs. from Is.25:15 lends credibility to his pioneering work.
  3. TRAVELOCITY! (22-29)
    1. ​​​​​​​Slide#11 Travelocity.com is that web site for planning your next travel plans.
      1. Here Paul reveals to us his travel plans!
      2. Oh, that we would be just as sensitive to the H.S. as Paul, when we are putting our itineraries & travel plans together!
      3. Slide#12 But let’s not romanticize his journeys too much.
        1. Yes, he’s sailing from Corinth soon (where he dictated this letter) to get down to Jerusalem. Then he planned to travel to Rome, then to Spain!
      4. Travel was risky: If all these travels were by ship the 1st leg would be 800 miles, the next leg 1,500, the next 700. So, a minimum of 3000 miles travel.
        1. Then add the uncertainties of travel because of weather. The uncomfortable travel conditions on board (no all night buffets). And other hazards of ancient travel.
    2. It’s all about relationships (22-24) - Never forget that!
    3. (24) Only here does Paul disclose his desire for the evangelization of España/Spain. [hints to Spain in 2 Cor.10:16 “the regions beyond you”]
      1. We are actually not sure if he made it there. Some non-canonical sources indicate that he did.
        1. Clement of Rome, writing to the Corinth Church in “1 Clement”, The oldest non-canonical book to have not made it in the NT(written around 96ad) said regarding Paul, “and having preached righteousness to the whole world, and having come to the extremity of the West, and having borne witness before rulers, he departed at length out of the world, and went to the holy place, having become the greatest example of patience.”
        2. The book of Acts leaves him in Rome...where he would have had to have been released for a time, & then re-arrested, incarcerated, then beheaded by Nero.
    4. (24b) Here is biblical backup for writing a letter of support. Paul writes for his mission West.
      1. Hmmm I guess it is ok to let your need be known for the furtherance of the gospel!
      2. Helped = “help on one’s journey w/food, money, by arranging for companions, means of travel, etc.”
    5. (25-27) Here is biblical backup for raising funds for international missions needs.
      1. Macedonia & Achaia were 2 whole regions (not just 2 churches). And the believers there gave generously & joyfully!
        1. Prov.3:9,10 Honor the LORD with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, & your vats will overflow w/new wine.
  4. PRAYERS SINCERITY! (30-33)
    1. ​​​​​​​The importance of intercessory prayer! (30)
    2. Why is asking for prayer so difficult?
      1. Often times Pride keeps us from asking for prayer.
      2. Our upbringing taught some of us to, “handle your own problems”!
      3. Paul wasn’t afraid to let others know he had needs.
      4. Of course Jesus wasn’t either, when he asked his disciples to pray for him in the garden!
    3. To reap the benefits of prayer we need to: open our hearts, admit our needs, & trust that others are more than willing to share our burdens in prayer.
    4. Prayer for Paul was serious business!
    5. Strive…in prayers – to fight or contend along w/someone.
      1. The Greeks used this word to describe Athletes who were pushing themselves to the limits of physical exhaustion.
      2. They also used it for Soldiers. Probably what Paul had in mind here.
      3. Kittel describes it this way, “In prayer…there is fulfilled the fellowship of conflict & destiny between man & man. In prayer one man becomes the representative of the other, so that there is here opened up the possibility of one standing in the breachfor all & all for one.”
        1. That reminded me of the black & white TV series in the 60’s, the 3 Musketeers & the motto they used as they sought to protect the throne of France…One for all & all for one.
    6. Paul wasn’t looking for a quickie prayer!...He was asking the Roman Christians to grab a weapon, to stand post, to put themselves in the spiritual line of fire, & to push themselves to the limit for his sake…& the furtherance of the Kingdom of God!
      1. We need to “get involved” in prayer!
      2. And be willing to pay the price for that involvement!
    7. 3 Prayer Requests:
      1. ​​​​​​​Delivered from unbelievers in Judea.
        1. Remember when Paul was at Philip the Evangelist’s house, Agabus took Paul’s belt & tied his own hands & feet & said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.” (Acts 21:11)
        2. So he had good reason to be concerned.
        3. But he didn’t go w/o help!
      2. That the contribution for the poor would be received.
        1. Some of them in Jerusalem thought Paul had a disregard for the Jewish Law now.
        2. If the gift was rejected, the Gentile church would take offense, which would cause a further rift between the Jews & Gentiles.
      3. That it would be God’s will for him to get to Rome.
        1. Acts 21-28 describes how God answered his prayers.
    8. Prayer #1 Answer? [Delivered from unbelievers in Judea]
      1. “Yes” & “No”! - “No” he was arrested, tried, imprisoned. “Yes” he was rescued from 3 mobs, a flogging, & an attempted assassination.
    9. Prayer #2 Answer? [That the contribution for the poor would be received]
      1. “?” we don’t know for sure. Luke never tells us in Acts.
    10. Answer? [That it would be God’s will for him to get to Rome]
      1. “Yes” - Just as Jesus promised him in Acts 23:11 Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.
        1. It just didn’t happen according to his plans.
        2. It was 3 years later…as a prisoner…& after an almost fatal shipwreck!
    11. Paul seals this chapter with a kiss! (33)
      1. English word good-bye is a contraction of the phrase God be with you.”
      2. The French adieu(a-dyoo) is a contraction of I commend you to God (until God)
      3. Similarly, the Spanish adios "to God".
      4. Aloha in Hawaiian means affection, peace, compassion, & mercy.
        1. Wouldn't all our partings be easier if we used the full expression? ​​​​​​​
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Romans 15". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/romans-15.html. 2017.