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Mutual affection and unity among believers
The apostle Paul continues in this chapter his plea for mutual affection and unity among believers. He is not talking of unity among all religious people. Our Lord condemned those who sought acceptance with God by their own righteousness, saying, ‘Leave them alone, they are blind leaders, whited sepulchres.’ Paul would not tolerate those who departed from the gospel. ‘If any man preach any other gospel, let him be accursed.’ Paul is pleading for love and forbearance among those who know and love the Redeemer who find their peace and hope in the sacrifice of Christ.
Romans 15:1 . ‘We then that are strong.’ These mature, believers are not strong in themselves (2 Corinthians 12:10); but they are strong in the faith of Christ strong and sure of their deliverance in Christ from meats and drinks, the observance of days, and the bondage of ceremonial law.
‘Ought to bear with the doubts and fears, the failings and frailties of the weak.’ Their weakness arises usually from immaturity of faith (babes in Christ) or from a lack of knowledge of their freedom and blessings in Christ. Welcome them, love them (1 Peter 4:8; Proverbs 10:12), and don't seek only to please yourselves (Galatians 6:1-2); but seek to make all brethren feel wanted, needed, and appreciated.
Romans 15:2 . No part of the gospel is to be sacrificed for peace. No part of the revealed word of God is to be denied to keep weak brethren happy. This would certainly not be for their good or edification. We don't edify a man by encouraging him in doctrinal or moral error. But in the matter of personality, temperament, things indifferent, meats and drinks, we should sacrifice our liberty and rights to make all comfortable and happy, while seeking to instruct one another in the word.
Romans 15:3 . Our Lord sought not his own comfort, ease, profit, nor glory. He subjected himself to every inconvenience and suffering for the good of his people. If our Lord acted in such a manner, how it ought to condemn us when we indulge our own rights and desires at the expense of the whole family of God! He had no sins; it was for our sins that he was subjected to evil and death. ‘He was rich, yet he became poor for our sakes.’ I suppose we should be able to deny ourselves a few personal rights and desires for the general welfare of others.
Romans 15:4 . The previous Romans 15:3 is a quotation from Psalms 69:7-9. When the apostle teaches a doctrine or exhorts us to a practice or principle, he proves it by the word of God! (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 1 Peter 2:2). We ought to read the Scriptures not to gratify our curiosity or to prove our position but to nourish and increase our hope in Christ (Romans 10:17).
Romans 15:5 . In Romans 15:5-6 Paul offers a prayer for all believers. It would be well for us to spend much time with this prayer!
‘Now the God of patience and comfort.’ This is his attribute. He has been patient and long-suffering with Adam's race, with his church, and with you and me. He has borne our sins, healed our backslidings, and heard our confessions. He has comforted us! All real, solid comfort comes from him against whom we have sinned. He has comforted us in every trial, stood by us through every fall, and encouraged us in every error.
‘Grant you to be like-minded one toward another.’ May God make you patient, long-suffering, forgiving, and a source of comfort to one another.
‘According to his example.’ The example is Christ (Ephesians 4:30-32). When I have forgiven every wrong against me, when I have borne every hard word or thought, when I have overlooked every weakness and comforted every fallen friend, I still have not endured one atom of what Christ bore for me and from me! (Matthew 18:21-22.)
Romans 15:6 . God is glorified when the perfections of his nature are recognized, when the work of his hands is praised, when his mercy and grace in Christ are received, when his people approach him in worship and adoration, and when our lives and conversation are agreeable to his calling! How can we glorify him when we are divided in heart, spirit, and doctrine?
Romans 15:7 . ‘Wherefore receive one another’ into your hearts and affections. Embrace one another, Jew and Gentile, weak and strong, old and young, male and female.
‘As Christ received us’ just like we were unlovely, weak, sinful, and having all the infirmities of human nature (Romans 5:8).
‘To the glory of God.’ This ought to be the motive and chief end of all that we do!
The glory of God The believer's concern
This study must begin with Romans 15:7, ‘Receive ye one another.’ Welcome into your hearts, communion, and fellowship all believers in Christ whether weak or strong, poor or prosperous, male or female, bond or free, Jew or Gentile. Welcome and love them all as Christ loved and received you into himself for the glory of God!
Romans 15:8 . It is true that the Lord Jesus was born a Jew, made under the law, circumcised and obedient to the laws of Moses. He was the promised Jewish Messiah, the seed of woman, of Abraham, and of David. This was to confirm and fulfill every promise, prophecy, and type given to Israel regarding the Messiah. But this was not to indicate (as some thought) that his mercy and salvation were not for the Gentile. He disproved this himself in Luke 4:25-27.
Romans 15:9-12 . These prophecies from the Old Testament reveal that the Gentiles were included in the purpose and redemptive work of Christ. ‘That the Gentiles might glorify God.’ This is the highest object of all of God's work his glory!
Another word here is mercy. All believers glorify God for his mercy in Christ. There is not a word in the scripture anywhere to encourage either Jew or Gentile in hoping for salvation through his own merit or righteousness. Salvation is God's mercy to the unworthy. These prophecies are from 2 Samuel 22:50, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalms 117:1, and Isaiah 11:10. Also read Revelation 5:9.
Romans 15:13 . Paul (as in Romans 15:5) expresses another prayer for us.
‘Now the God of hope.’ God is called the God of hope because all true hope with respect to forgiveness of sin and divine favor is from God and is effected in the human heart by God himself. Any hope of which he is not the Author and Giver is false and fatal!
‘Fill you with all joy and peace in believing.’ True joy and peace are the gifts of God in Christ and are not the natural effects of human nature. Joy and peace generated by human philosophy and fleshly comforts are temporary. (‘There is pleasure in sin for only a season.’) The joy of redemption and the peace of Christ are eternal and are real even in the midst of human misery and severe trial.
‘That you may abound in hope.’ The more believers know the joy and peace of Christ, the greater will be their hope. Joy and peace, as well as all spiritual blessings, come from God through faith and in proportion to faith. The more we are able to rejoice in our blessings in Christ and enter into the peace of Christ, the stronger will be our confidence and hope of future glory.
‘Through the power of the Holy Ghost.’ The Father gives hope. He is the God of hope; but he gives it through the agency and power of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-18).
Romans 15:14 . ‘I am fully persuaded and confident that you are full of goodness,’ not naturally (for Paul himself said, ‘In my flesh dwelleth no good thing’); but what they had was of the Holy Spirit, whose fruit is love, joy, peace, goodness, and kindness (Ephesians 4:32). We are filled with all knowledge knowledge of our own infirmities, of our own dependence on his mercy, of our completeness in Christ. This being known, we are able to counsel, admonish, encourage, and sympathize with one another.
Romans 15:15 . Nevertheless, though I know you are aware of these things and are concerned for the glory of Christ, as the minister of Christ Jesus, I boldly write all these things to you to remind you of them. A person may be acquainted with them but still require a minister of Christ to exhort him to practice them.
Romans 15:16 . I was made a minister of Christ to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15) of the gospel of God, ministering not the service of the tabernacle, nor the law of Moses, nor the tradition of the fathers, but the gospel of Christ that the Gentiles themselves might be acceptable to God, through Christ, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit. We are ‘accepted in the Beloved,’ the Holy Spirit setting us apart and calling us to faith in him through the preaching of the gospel (Romans 10:17).
Romans 15:17 . In Christ Jesus I have reason to rejoice and glory in the things which God has accomplished through me. God does use men. He uses these vessels of clay to preach the gospel, to take the gospel to those he shall call (Romans 10:13-15); and we can rejoice in what God is pleased to do through these human instruments. But I will not take to myself any of the praise for the work of others. I have preached and God had been pleased to bless the word (Philippians 1:14-18).
Laborers together with God
Romans 15:18 . The apostle would not take unto himself any praise for the labor and success of others. He spoke only of the success which Christ had given to his own work. Many people suppose that it is wrong to give any praise to the Lord's servants for their labor, ministry, and works of faith. They say it will encourage self-righteousness and pride. This is wrong and not from God. Christ wrought it! All of our success is in Christ, as well as our ability and desire to labor. Faith is the gift of God! Faith is not to be ascribed to him who preaches nor to him who hears, but to Christ, who opens the heart. But the preacher, or teacher, or witness is employed as an ambassador of Christ. Christ brought about the obedience of the Gentiles through Paul, and God praises faithful servants (Matthew 25:21; Matthew 25:34-40).
Romans 15:19 . God confirmed the ministry of the apostles with signs and wonders (Mark 16:15-20; Hebrews 2:3-4). From Jerusalem to other countries I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. This is the supreme test of our ministry, our labor, and our efforts for the glory of God and the good of our hearers. Have we fully preached the gospel of Christ? (1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 9:16; Galatians 1:8-9).
Romans 15:20 . Paul was a pioneer missionary. His calling and desire was to occupy new ground for Christ and preach the gospel to those who had never heard. He who builds on the foundation is not inferior to the one who lays the foundation, but Paul was a foundation-layer (1 Corinthians 3:5-10).
Romans 15:21 . This prophecy is from Isaiah 52:15. Paul knew that God had raised him up for this work to preach to the heathen. He gives his servants the earnest desire to be the means to accomplish his divine purpose (Romans 1:14-16).
Romans 15:22 . For this cause I have been hindered from coming to Rome where the gospel had been preached by others. Paul was the apostle and missionary, not the pastor! (Ephesians 4:11-13.) Happy is the person who knows what God has called him to do and does it with all his heart unto the Lord, rejoicing in the ministry of others.
Romans 15:23-24 . My work here is done; so when I go to Spain, I will come to Rome; for I hope to see you and be delighted and blessed with your company. True believers delight in the companionship of other believers wherever they are found. We need the fellowship of one another, and we rob ourselves and others of a rich blessing when we forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Hebrews 10:24-25; Hebrews 3:12-13).
Romans 15:25-27 . The apostle wanted to go to Rome and to carry the gospel to Spain, but first he would go to Jerusalem to carry to the poor believers there money and gifts which had been provided by the believers of Macedonia and Achaia! (2 Corinthians 8:1-4.)
This was not a church tax or a required offering, but a generous gift from the hearts of the believers in these cities to help their poor brethren in Jerusalem. These Gentiles had benefited from the Jewish believers in things pertaining to God, and they felt indebted to them to share their material blessings (Galatians 6:6-10).
Romans 15:28-29 . When I have performed this task, I will come to see you; and my visit with you will be blessed of God to you and to me. We will rejoice together in the gospel of Christ.
Romans 15:30 . Paul requests their prayers for himself. He bases it on two things.
1. For the sake and glory of Christ. This must always be the foundation for any prayer for Christ's sake (Ephesians 4:32).
2. Because of your love for me which the Spirit has worked in you.
This is sincere, meaningful prayer. We genuinely love one another, wish the best for one another, and pray the blessings of God on one another for Christ's sake! The word strive here is a fervent, strong exercise. Prayer is not a formal exercise, but a sincere, fervent desire laid before God in the name of Christ (Ephesians 6:18-19).
Romans 15:31-33 . What was Paul's prayer request?
1. To be delivered from danger.
2. That his gift to the saints at Jerusalem should be received in the Spirit of Christ. This shows the feelings among the Jews for the Gentiles. It was not commendable in many cases.
3. That he may visit them by the will of God. Pray about everything (Philippians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:18).
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Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on Romans 15". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29