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He sums it all up in the first seven verses of chapter 15. The strong should bear the burdens of the weak-as sympathetically entering into their difficulties-and not insist on liberty to please themselves. Rather let each one have his neighbor’s good in view, seeking his building up and not carelessly destroying his faith by ruthlessly insisting on his own personal liberty. True liberty will be manifested by refraining from what would stumble a weaker one.
In this Christ is the great example. He who need never have yielded to any legal enactment, voluntarily submitted to every precept of the law, and even went far beyond it, pleasing not Himself (as when He paid the temple tax, giving as His reason, “Lest we should stumble them”), thus taking upon Himself the reproaches of those who reproached God. His outward behavior was as blameless as His inward life, yet men reviled Him as they reviled God.
Verse Romans 15:4 stresses the importance of Old Testament Scripture. “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Link with this 1 Corinthians 10:6; 1 Corinthians 10:11. “All Scripture is not about me, but all Scripture is for me.” is a quotation well worth remembering.
He closes this section by praying that “the God of patience and consolation” may give the saints to be of one mind toward each other, with Christ whose blessed example he has cited, that all may unitedly glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Mind and mouth must be in agreement if this be so. And so he exhorts them to receive one another as Christ also received us to the glory of God. If Christ could take us up in grace- whether weak or strong-and make us meet for the glory, surely we can be cordial and Christ-like in our fellowship one with another. Again, I repeat, it is not the question of receiving into the Christian company that is in view here, but the recognition of those already inside.
Properly speaking the epistle as such-the treatise on the righteousness of God-is brought to a conclusion in verses Romans 15:8-13. All that comes afterwards is more in the nature of postscript and appendix.
What has really been demonstrated in this very full treatise? “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.” That is, he has shown throughout that our Lord came in full accord with the Old Testament promises. He entered into the sheepfold by the door (as John’s Gospel tells us in Chap. 10), and was the divinely appointed minister to the Jews, come to confirm the covenanted promises. Though the nation rejected Him this does not invalidate His ministry but it opens the door of mercy to the Gentiles in a wider way than ever, though in full accord with the Jewish Scriptures. And so he cites passage after passage to clinch the truth already taught so clearly, that it was foreknown and predetermined that the Gentiles should hear the gospel and be given the same opportunity to be saved that the Jew enjoyed. That this “mercy” actually transcends anything revealed in past ages we know since “the revelation of the mystery,” to which he alludes in the last verses of the next chapter. But his point here is that it is not contrary to the predictions of the prophets, but entirely consistent with what God had been pleased to make known beforehand. And so he brings this masterly unfolding of the gospel and its result to a close by saying, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit” (vs. Romans 15:13). In believing what? Why, simply in believing the great truths set forth in the epistle-the tremendous verities of our most holy faith-setting before us man’s ruin by sin and his redemption through Christ Jesus. When we believe this we are filled with joy and peace as we look on in hope to the consummation of it all at our Lord’s return, meantime walking before God in the power of the indwelling Spirit who alone makes these precious things real to us.
The balance of the chapter takes on a distinctly-personal character as the apostle takes the saints at Rome into his confidence and tells them of his exercises regarding them and his purpose to visit them. From the reports that had come to him he was persuaded that they were already in a very healthy spiritual state, “full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another,” so he had no thought of going to them as a regulator but he felt that he had a ministry, committed to him by God which would be profitable for them; and, besides, Rome was part of that great Gentile world into which he had been sent and to which his ministry specially applied, “that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” Israel was no longer the one separate nation but the gospel was for all alike.
It was therefore to be expected that he should visit them whenever the way was opened, and as it seemed to him that his mission to those in Asia Minor and eastern Europe was now in large measure fulfilled, he purposed shortly going westward as far as to Spain and hoped to visit them on the way. Meantime he was going up to Jerusalem to carry an offering from the saints of Macedonia and Achaia to the needy believers of Judea. As soon as this was accomplished he hoped to leave for Spain visiting them en route. What a mercy that the near future was sealed to him. How little he realized what he must soon be called upon to suffer for Christ’s name’s sake. “Man proposes, but God disposes.” And He had quite other plans for His devoted servant-though they included a visit to Rome, but in chains!
Sure that in God’s due time he would get to them and “come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ,” he beseeches them to pray for the success of his mission to his own countrymen and that he might be delivered from the unbelieving Jews. The prayer was answered, but in how different a manner to what he anticipated!
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Romans 15". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
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