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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Romans 15:4

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Adam Clarke Commentary

For whatsoever things were written aforetime - This refers not only to the quotation from the 69th Psalm, but to all the Old Testament scriptures; for it can be to no other scriptures that the apostle alludes. And, from what he says here of them, we learn that God had not intended them merely for those generations in which they were first delivered, but for the instruction of all the succeeding generations of mankind. That we, through patience and comfort of the scriptures - that we, through those remarkable examples of patience exhibited by the saints and followers of God, whose history is given in those scriptures, and the comfort which they derived from God in their patient endurance of sufferings brought upon them through their faithful attachment to truth and righteousness, might have hope that we shall be upheld and blessed as they were, and our sufferings become the means of our greater advances in faith and holiness, and consequently our hope of eternal glory be the more confirmed. Some think that the word παρακλησις, which we translate comfort, should be rendered exhortation; but there is certainly no need here to leave the usual acceptation of the term, as the word comfort makes a regular and consistent sense with the rest of the verse.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/romans-15.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

For whatsoever things … - This is a “general” observation which struck the mind of the apostle, from the particular case which he had just specified. He had just made use of a striking passage in the Psalms to his purpose. The thought seems suddenly to have occurred to him that “all” the Old Testament was admirably adapted to express Christian duties and doctrine, and he therefore turned aside from his direct argument to express this sentiment. It should be read as a parenthesis.

Were written aforetime - That is, in ancient times; in the Old Testament.

For our learning - For our “teaching” or instruction. Not that this was the “only” purpose of the writings of the Old Testament, to instruct Christians; but that all the Old Testament might be useful “now” in illustrating and enforcing the doctrines and duties of piety toward God and man.

Through patience - This does not mean, as our translation might seem to suppose, patience “of the Scriptures,” but it means that by patiently enduring sufferings, in connection with the consolation which the Scriptures furnish, we might have hope. The “tendency” of patience, the apostle tells us Romans 5:4, is to produce “hope;” see the notes at this place.

And comfort of the Scriptures - By means of the consolation which the writings of the Old Testament furnish. The word rendered “comfort” means also “exhortation” or “admonition.” If this is its meaning here, it refers to the admonitions which the Scriptures suggest, instructions which they impart, and the exhortations to patience in trials. If it means “comfort,” then the reference is to the examples of the saints in affliction; to their recorded expressions of confidence in God in their trials, as of Job, Daniel, David, etc. Which is the precise meaning of the word here, it is not easy to determine.

Might have hope - Note, Romans 5:4. We may learn here,

(1)That afflictions may prove to be a great blessing.

(2)that their proper tendency is to produce “hope.”

(3)that the way to find support in afflictions is to go to the Bible.

By the example of the ancient saints, by the expression of their confidence in God, by their patience, “we” may learn to suffer, and may not only be “instructed,” but may find “comfort” in all our trials; see the example of Paul himself in 2 Corinthians 1:2-11.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/romans-15.html. 1870.

Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans

Forwhatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning; that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope.

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning. — This observation appears to refer to the Apostle’s reason for making the preceding quotation. He might have referred, as already remarked, immediately to the history of the life of Christ; but instead of this, he quotes from a passage in the Psalm. Here he justifies his doing this, and makes an observation which applies generally to the Old Testament and shows us in what manner we ought to use it. Some persons have blasphemously said that the Old Testament is now out of date. But the writers of the New Testament give no such view of the Old. Instead of this, they refer to it as proof, and treat it as of constant use to the people of God. All that is therein written, whether history, types’ prophecies, precepts, or examples, although under another dispensation, is intended for the instruction of believers, to train them to patience, and to impart the consolation which the Scriptures provide for those that have hope in God. ‘take, my brethren,’ says James, ‘the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.’

The passage quoted in the preceding verse is not only useful to us, as applicable to Christ, but it is, as the Apostle shows, useful as an example.

If the reproaches of those who reproached God fell upon Christ, the people of God ought to live and act in such a manner as the Apostle elsewhere enjoins, when he says ‘Let us go forth, therefore, unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.’ If Christ did not please Himself, neither ought His people to please themselves, but to please Him and His people for their edification.

That we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures. — Mr. Stuart understands this of our patience, and translates the second word by admonition or exhortation: ‘That through patience, and by the exhortation of the Scriptures, we might obtain hope. But it is through the patience exhibited in example in the Scriptures that we are to have hope. And though the original word signifies exhortation as well as comfort, yet here the latter is to be preferred. In the next verse, with reference to this declaration, God is called the God of patience. Now God is the God of consolation, that is, the God who is the author of consolation to His people. But to call God the God of exhortation, would be an uncouth expression.

Might have hope. — We ought to read the Scriptures with a view not to gratify our curiosity, but to increase and nourish our hope of future glory. This passage teaches that we should encourage ourselves by the example of those who, amidst similar temptations, have overcome. For this purpose, the conduct of those who obtained a good report through faith is set before us, that we may not be slothful, but followers of them who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises.


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Bibliography
Haldane, Robert. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans and Hebrews". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hal/romans-15.html. 1835.

The Biblical Illustrator

Romans 15:4

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning.

The Holy Scriptures

I. What were the scriptures given us for?

1. “Our learning.” They are God’s gift of light to a dark world when it had lost its way and was groping for the wall like the blind.

2. That through the patience and comfort which these Scriptures afford to the troubled soul we might have hope. We rejoice in hope of the glory of God; that is, of the glory which shall be revealed hereafter--the mighty developments of the world unseen. And this hope comes to us, is strengthened and kept alive by patience and comfort of the Word. The Word is our hope, especially in all times of affliction. Over and over again, in the 119th Psalm, does David back up his petitions for all good with the argument, “according to Thy Word,” and he well knew his warrant. The Scriptures were given for that very end.

II. The feelings with which we should approach the study of the Scriptures.

1. Deep reverence. God will have His name hallowed, for it is holy; but His Word He seems to make holier still--“Thou hast magnified Thy Word above all Thy name.” We are to receive it, not as the word of man, but as it is in truth, the Word of God.

2. Diligence, earnest effort, a high appreciation of its worth. “I rejoice at Thy Word as one that findeth great spoil,” says David. As in prayer, we have not, because we are not; so in our Scripture reading, it is to be feared, we find not because we seek not. Is there any human science in which proficiency would ever be obtained if its first principles were to be studied with no more of concentration and of thought than most men give to the study of the Bible? If we will not be at the pains to learn, we can have no claim either to the comfort or the hope.

3. Strong faith, large expectations, a deep persuasion of the sufficiency of Scripture for all its ordained and appointed ends. A book is commonly nothing more than just an assemblage of words which move not, neither do they speak; but the Word of God has all the properties of the most active and powerful agents in the universe. It is a spirit, and can breathe; it is a fire, and can consume; it is a hammer, and can crush; it is a sword, and can cleave; it is a rain, and can soften; it is leaven, and can spread; it has a vitality which can be claimed by nothing else. The only limit which can be put to its power is that imposed by our own unbelief. If not restrained by this, every promise becomes endorsed with a yea and amen. (D. Moore, M.A.)

Inspiration

The connection between the different parts of the text is this: First, the apostle lays down a Christian’s duty (Romans 15:1-2). After that he brings forward, as the sanction of that duty, the spirit of the life of Christ (Romans 15:3). Next he adds an illustration of that principle by a quotation from Psalms 69:1-36. Lastly, he explains and defends that application (verse 4). So we have the principle upon which the apostles used the Old Testament, and we are enabled to understand their view of inspiration. This is the deepest question of our day. In the text we find two principles.

I. That Scripture is of universal application.

1. This passage quoted was evidently spoken by David of himself. Nevertheless, Paul applies it to Christ. Nay, more, he uses it as belonging to all Christians (verse 4). “No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation.” Had the Psalm applied only to David, then it would have been of private interpretation; instead of which, it belongs to humanity. Take, again, the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem. That seemed limited to Jerusalem; but had it ended there, then you would have had a prophecy of private--i.e., peculiar, limited--interpretation: whereas our Redeemer’s principle was this: that this doom pronounced on Jerusalem was but a specimen of God’s judgments. The judgment coming of the Son of Man takes place wherever there is evil grown ripe, whenever corruption is complete.

2. Promises and threatenings are made to individuals, because they are in a particular state of character; but they belong to all who are in that state, for “God is no respecter of persons.”

3. And this it is which makes this Bible our Book. The teachers, the psalmists, the prophets, and the lawgivers of this despised nation spoke out truths that have struck the key-note of the heart of man; and this not because they were of Jewish, but just because they were of universal application. The orator holds a thousand men for half an hour breathless; but this Word of God has held a thousand nations for thrice a thousand years spell-bound; held them by an abiding power, even the universality of its truth; and we feel it to be no more a collection of books, but the Book.

II. That all Scripture bears towards Jesus Christ.

1. St. Paul quotes these Jewish words as fulfilled in Christ. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” We must often have been perplexed at the way in which the apostles quote passages in reference to Christ, which originally had no reference to Him. In our text, e.g., David speaks only of himself; and yet St. Paul refers it to Christ. Promises belong to persons only so far as they are what they are taken to be; and, consequently, all unlimited promises made to individuals can only be true of One in whom that is fulfilled which was unfulfilled in them. Take the magnificent destinies Balaam promised to the people whom he was called to curse. Those promises have never been fulfilled, nor does it seem likely that they ever will be fulfilled in their literal sense. To whom, then, are they made? To Israel? Yes; so far as they developed God’s own conception. Balaam says, “God hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath He seen perverseness in Israel.” Is this the character of Israel, an idolatrous and rebellious nation? Jesus is that pure and spotless One. Christ is perfectly all that every saint was partially. Consequently St. Paul would not read the Psalm he quotes as spoken only of David. The promises are to the Christ within David; therefore they are applied to the Christ when He comes.

2. Now, let us extract from that this application. Scripture is full of Christ. From Genesis to Revelation everything breathes of Him--not every letter of every sentence, but the spirit of every chapter. Get the habit of referring all to Christ. How did He feel?--think?--act? So then must I feel, and think, and act. Observe how Christ was a living reality in St. Paul’s mind. “Should I please myself?” “For even Christ pleased not Himself.” “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (F. W. Robertson, M.A.)

Scripture the birthright of all

I. The argument for the universal study of the Scriptures.

1. There are different modes in which God might be pleased to reveal Himself to mankind.

2. Observe at this point, however, that neither volume discloses what it is most essential for a human being, such as man actually is, to be informed of. And therefore it was quite to be expected beforehand that God should make some clear revelation of His will and design respecting our race. This revelation we have in His Word.

(a) The Scriptures have been in use from the earliest times by the people, as well as by the priesthood (Deuteronomy 17:18; Deu_31:11, etc.).

(b) The people were commended for studying them, and sometimes rebuked for the neglect of them. How repeatedly Christ, in addressing the people, presupposes them to have read the records of inspiration! “Have ye not read?” or, “Have ye never read?” The New Testament Scriptures contain not one single intimation to any other effect than that they were to be universally studied. In the Acts we find the Bereans commended for the study of them. When St. Paul “charges” the Thessalonians, “by the Lord, that this Epistle be read unto all the holy brethren,” and tells the Colossians, “when this Epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the Church of the Laodiceans, and that ye likewise read the Epistle from Laodicea.” The Revelation opens with, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein.”

II. The objections that are alleged against the universal study of the Scriptures.

1. The best that Rome has to allege is, “the evil which has in some instances arisen, and may again arise, from the indiscreet use of God’s Word.” We freely admit that many have drawn from the Scriptures doctrines opposed to God’s truth, and pernicious to man’s welfare. But what if some few have perverted a blessing into a curse? Is that any reason for withholding the blessing from others? Who made the Romish Church the guardian to step in and prevent the Scriptures from working injury? We know that in support of this objection the Romanists will appeal to the assertion of St. Peter, that in Paul’s Epistles “are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” But this proves that in Peter’s time the Scriptures were in free use, or how could the abuse of them have arisen? But if they are “unlearned and unstable” persons who wrest the Scriptures, surely it were a strange mode of rectifying the mischief to keep them still in a state of ignorance. And the apostle does not throw out the shadow of a hint that the Scriptures were not to be used.

2. But the objection referred to is not the real secret of Romish opposition to the free use of the Bible. That Church dares not let her doctrines and her practices be brought to the standard of Scripture. She knows that if people are allowed to read the Holy Scriptures otherwise than by the permission of, and under colour of the interpretation of the priest, they will find the doctrine of justification stated very differently from the way in which it is put forth in her teaching. They will find far less made of outward means, and a vast deal more of the inward and spiritual grace; far less of human, and a vast deal more of a Saviour’s merits. (Bp. R. Bickersteth.)

Dispositions for reading the Scripture

The book of nature obscured by the Fall. Philosophy from it could not find out God. The Scriptures given to reveal Him. Let us consider--

I. The grand design of the Scripture.

1. For the communication of knowledge of

2. For our comfort in every state of mind and condition of life.

3. For our hope. The hope of eternal life, founded on true faith as a solid foundation. Knowledge, consolation, and hope constitute the things for which we should look.

II. The dispositions with which we should read them.

1. Attention.

2. Frequently, regularly, and diligently, they should be read. This will--

Thus, as we take food for nourishment every day, so shall the soul receive its proper aliment which will nourish it unto life eternal.

3. With judgment and discrimination.

4. We must read them with faith and submission.

5. We must read them with piety and prayer.

That we, through, patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope.--

The twofold genealogy of hope

There is a river in Switzerland fed by two uniting streams, bearing the same name, one of them called the “white,” one of them the “grey,” or dark. One comes down from the glaciers, and bears the half-melted snow in its white ripple; the other flows through a lovely valley, and is discoloured by its earth. They unite in one common current. So in these two verses (4 and 13) we have two streams, a white and a black, and they both blend together and flow out into a common hope. So both halves of the possible human experience are meant to end in, the same blessed result.

I. We have, first of all, the hope that is the child of the night, and born in the dark. “Whatsoever things,” says the apostle, “were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we, through patience”--or rather the brave perseverance--“and consolation”--or rather, perhaps, encouragement--“of the Scriptures might have hope.” The written word is conceived for the source of patient endurance which acts as well as suffers. This grace Scripture works in us through the encouragement which it ministers in manifold ways, and the result of both is hope. So, you see, our sorrows and difficulties are not connected with, nor do they issue in, bright hopefulness, except by reason of this connecting link. We cannot pass from the black frowning cliffs on one side of the gorge to the sunny tablelands on the other without a bridge--and the bridge for a poor soul from the blackness of sorrow to the smiling pastures of hope, with all their half-open blossoms, is builded in that book, which tells us the meaning and purpose of them all, and is full of the histories of those who have overcome, have hoped and not been ashamed. Scripture is given, among other reasons, that it may encourage us:, and so may produce in us this great grace of active patience, if we may call it so. The first thing to notice, then, is how Scripture gives encouragement--for such, rather than consolation, is the meaning of the word. It seeks to make us strong and brave to face and to master our sorrows, and to infuse into us a high-hearted courage. It would be a poor aim to comfort only; but to encourage--to make strong in heart, resolved in will, and incapable of being crushed in spirit by any sorrows--that is a purpose worthy of the Book, and of the God who speaks through it. This purpose, we may say, is effected by Scripture in two ways. It encourages us by its records, and by its revelation of principles. Who can tell how many struggling souls have taken heart again as they pondered over the sweet stories of sorrow subdued which stud its pages, like stars in its firmament? We are all enough of children to be more affected by the living examples than by dissertations however true. But Scripture has another method of ministering encouragement to our often fainting heart. It cuts down through all the complications of human affairs, and lays bare the innermost motive power. It not only shows us in its narratives the working of sorrow and the power of faith, but it distinctly lays down the source and the purpose, the whence and the whither of all suffering. They all come from my Father, and they all come for my good. With that double certitude clear before us, we can face anything. The slings and arrows that strike are no more flung blindly by an “outrageous fortune,” but each bear an inscription, like the fabled bolts, which tells what hand drew the bow, and they come with His love. Then, further, the courage thus born of the Scriptures produces another grand thing--patience, or rather perseverance. It is something to endure, and even while the heart is breaking, to submit unmurmuring; but, transcendent as it is, it is but half of the lesson which we have to learn and to put in practice. For if all our sorrows have a disciplinary purpose, we shall not have received them aright unless we have tried to make that purpose effectual by appropriating whatsoever spiritual teaching: they each have for us. Nor does our duty stop there. It is that dogged persistence in plain duty, that tenacious continuance in our course, which is here set forth as the result of the encouragement which Scripture gives. Many of us have all our strength exhausted in mere endurance, and have let obvious duties slip from our hands, as if we had done all that we could do when we had forced ourselves to submit. Submission would come easier if you took up some of those neglected duties, and you would be stronger for patience if you used more of your strength for service. Take the encouragement which Scripture gives, that it may animate you to bate no jot of heart or hope, but still bear up and steer right onward. And let the Scripture directly minister to you perseverance as well as indirectly supply it through the encouragement which it gives. It teaches us a solemn scorn of ills. It summons us to diligence by the visions of the prize, and glimpses of the dread fate of the slothful, by all that is blessed in hope and terrible in foreboding, by appeals to an enlightened self-regard, and by authoritative commands to conscience, by the pattern of the Master, and by the tender motives of love to Him to which He Himself has given voice. All these call on us to be followers of them who, through faith and perseverance, inherit the promises. But we have yet another step to take. These two, the encouragement and perseverance produced by the right use of Scripture, will lead to hope. The lion once slain houses a swarm of bees, who lay up honey in its carcase. If we can look back and say, “Thou hast been with me in six troubles,” it is good logic to look forward and say, “and in seven Thou wilt not forsake me.”

II. So much then for the genealogy of one form of the Christian hope. But we have also a hope that is born of the day, the child of sunshine and gladness. “The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope.” So then “the darkness and the light are both alike” to our hope, in so far as each may become the occasion for its exercise. We have seen that the bridge by which sorrow led to hope was perseverance and courage; in this second analysis of the origin of hope, joy and peace are the bridge by which faith passes over into it. Paul has found, and if we only put it to the proof we shall also find, that the simple exercise of simple faith fills the soul with “all joy and peace.” Gladness in all its variety, and in full measure, calm repose in every kind, and abundant in its still depth, will pour into my heart as water does into a vessel, on condition of my taking away the barrier and opening my heart through faith. “Trust and thou shalt be glad.” In the measure of thy trust shall be the measure of thy joy and peace. Notice, further, how indissolubly connected the present exercise of faith is with the present experience of joy and peace. It is only while we are looking to Jesus that we can expect to have joy and peace. There is no flashing light on the surface of the mirror, but when it is turned full to the sun. Any interruption in the electric current is registered accurately by an interruption in the continuous line, perforated on the telegraph-ribbon; and so every diversion of heart and faith from Jesus Christ is recorded by the fading of the sunshine out of the heart, and the silencing of all the song-birds. Always believe and you will always be glad and calm. Observe, again, how accurately the apostle defines for us the conditions on which Christian experience would be joyful and tranquil. It is “in believing,” not in certain other exercises of mind, that these blessings are to be realised. And the forgetfulness of that plain fact leads to many good people’s religion being very much more gloomy and disturbed than God meant it to be. For a large part of it consists in sadly proving their spiritual state, and gazing at their failures and imperfections. There is nothing cheerful and tranquillising in grubbing among the evils of your own heart, and it is quite possible to do that too much and too exclusively. Then, the second step in this tracing of the origin of the hope which has the brighter source, is the consideration that the joy and peace which spring from faith, in their turn produce that confident anticipation of future and progressive good. Herein lies the distinguishing blessedness of the Christian joy and peace, and that they carry in themselves the pledge of their own eternity. It is not true of this gladness that “Hereof cometh in the end despondency and madness,” but its destiny is to “remain” as long as the soul in which it unfolds shall exist, and “to be full” as long as the source from which it flows does not run dry. So that the more we experience the present blessedness, which faith in Christ brings us, the more shall we be sure that nothing in the future, either in or beyond time, can put an end to it; and hence a hope that looks with confident eyes across the gorge of death to the “shining tablelands” on the other side, and is as calm as certitude, shall be ours. I saw, not long since, in a wood a mass of blue wild hyacinths, that looked like a little bit of heaven dropped down upon earth. You and I may have such a tiny bit of heaven itself lying amidst all the tangle of our lives, if only we put our trust in Christ, and so get into our hearts some little portion of that joy that is unspeakable, and that peace that passeth understanding. (A. Maclaren, D.D.)

Patience, comfort, and hope from the Scriptures

1. This is the text from which old Hugh Latimer was wont to preach continually in his latter days. Certainly it gave him plenty of sea room.

2. The apostle declares that the Old Testament Scriptures are meant to teach New Testament believers. Things written aforetime were written for our time. The Old Testament is not outworn; apostles learned from it. Nor has its authority ceased; it still teaches with certainty. Nor has its Divine power departed; for it works the graces of the Spirit in those who receive it--patience, comfort, hope.

3. In this verse the Holy Ghost sets His seal upon the Old Testament, and for ever enters His protest against all undervaluing of that sacred volume.

4. The Holy Scriptures produce and ripen the noblest graces. Let us carefully consider--

I. The patience of the Scriptures.

1. Such as they inculcate. Patience--

2. Such as they exhibit in examples.

3. Such as they produce by their influence.

II. The comfort of the Scriptures.

1. Such as they inculcate.

2. Such as they exhibit.

3. Such as they produce.

III. The hope of the Scriptures. Scripture is intended to work in us a good hope. A people with a hope will purify themselves, and will in many other ways rise to a high and noble character. By the hope of the Scriptures we understand--

1. Such a hope as they hold forth.

2. Such a hope as they exhibit in the lives of saints. A whole martyrology will be found in Hebrews 11:1-40.

3. Such a hope as they produce.

Let us hold constant fellowship with the God of patience and Consolation, who is also the God of hope; and let us rise from stage to stage of joy as the order of the words suggests. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The Holy Scriptures a source of comfort

There is much in this text as to the Scriptures.

1. Written for our learning.

2. Help to patience.

3. Full of comfort.

4. Support of hope.

Let us take one branch--the “comfort of the Scriptures.” Whatever are our burdens, there is comfort here.

I. Are we burdened under a sense of sin? Many are so, like David (Psalms 51:1-19). The Bible does not make light of this, but rather reveals the greatness and number of our sins. Yet it is full of comfort, telling of the way of forgiveness, pointing to the fountain opened. It is a proclamation of mercy, a message--yea, many messages--from a loving Father.

II. Are we troubled by difficulties of christian life and conflict? There is “comfort in the Scriptures.”

1. The Bible tells of “grace sufficient for thee.”

2. It points to One who can be touched in our behalf, who is our Captain and Deliverer.

3. It gives bright examples, too, of many who “out of weakness were made strong.”

III. Are we anxious about temporal affairs? How many words of direction and encouragement meet us! Promises in the sermon on the mount, and lessons from the lilies and the fowls. Invitations to cast every care on Him who careth for us in the Scriptures also the veil over the future is uplifted, and the better and enduring inheritance exhibited.

IV. Are we suffering from bereavement? With our Bible in hand we suffer not as others who have no hope. Our minds are diverted from second causes to “It is the Lord.” We read the eleventh chapter of John, and are soothed by the sympathy there manifested.

V. Are we burdened with fear of death? There is still comfort in the Scriptures. Only let us come to Him in whom is salvation, and then the last enemy is destroyed. They promise victory (1 Corinthians 15:1-58.); a house not made with hands (2 Corinthians 5:1-21.); a prepared place (John 14:1-31). No evil to be feared (Psalms 23:1-6), and from the Apocalypse gleams of glory to be seen. (J. Lancaster, M.A.)

The Scriptures the foundation of Christian hope, and patience a means of it

These words in their connection show us that Christ and the great truths of Christianity are to be found where a superficial observer would not expect to find them. The preceding verse, quoted from Psalms 69:9, would appear to be meant only of David; and yet the apostle was taught to consider them as also referring to Christ, of whom David was a type. We have similar instances in Psalms 22:8; Psa_22:18; Psa_69:21; Psa_11:6-7; Psa_102:25-26. Indeed, our Lord Himself intimates that He is the great subject of the Old Testament (John 5:39).

I. What is the “hope” of which the apostle speaks, and how it appears that it is of importance we should possess it.

1. It will be readily allowed that spiritual and eternal, not carnal and temporal, things are the objects of a Christian’s hope--viz., God and His salvation (Lamentations 3:26), or the privileges and blessings of the gospel.

2. But as the subjects of this hope are already believers in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-7; Colossians 1:13), the attainment of these things is not properly the object of their hope, for these are already possessed; but a continuance of these blessings, together with guidance, protection, succour, and consolation in all difficulties and trials, timely deliverance from them, perfect holiness and meetness for heaven (Galatians 5:5), perseverance in grace, and, especially, eternal life (Titus 1:2), or the glory of God (1 Chronicles 5:2).

3. The Christian hope is an earnest desire after this, in consequence of a discovery of its great excellency, by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-10). Thus the first Christians (Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:4-8), and even pious Jews, expressed their desire (Psalms 17:15; Psa_73:24).

4. It is, moreover, a well-grounded and lively expectation of it, arising from our being entitled to it--

5. The fruits of this hope are joy (Romans 5:1-2), gratitude (1 Peter 1:3), humility, and patience (1 Thessalonians 1:3), not being weary of well-doing (Galatians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:58), aspiring after complete purity (1 John 3:3).

6. Hence we learn the vast importance of this hope; it is closely connected with the whole of religion.

II. The provision God has made for our attaining this hope in giving us the Scriptures.

1. The Scriptures reveal the great object of this hope, and bring life and immortality to light, which neither the light of nature nor any other religion can do.

2. They discover the foundation on which we must build it--the death and resurrection of Christ.

3. They furnish the seed and ground, as of faith, so of hope, in their doctrines, precepts, and promises, laying a foundation for faith, the root of hope, and showing us the way in which we may arrive at the object of it.

4. They furnish us with many and very bright examples (Hebrews 11:13; Heb_11:16; Heb_11:26).

III. The means through which we may retain as well as attain it. “Through patience,” etc.

1. In one point of view patience is the effect of hope; in another it is a cause. An appetite for food is an effect of health, and yet a cause of it; an inclination and ability to use exercise and be active is an effect of health, and yet a cause thereof. And thus may we say of patience. Thus it is mentioned as a fruit of hope (1 Thessalonians 1:3) and as a cause of it (Romans 5:2).

2. As to the respects in which patience is necessary, there must be--

3. But how shall this “patience have its perfect work” in us? Through the consolation of the Scriptures. They must be the medicine and food, the strength and refreshment of our souls. (J. Benson.)

The Bible is

1. A lesson book of instruction.

2. A school of patience.

3. A well-spring of comfort.

4. A solid foundation of hope. (J. Lyth, D.D.)

The Bible

In it--

I. We converse with the past--acquiring lessons of--

1. Instruction.

2. Patience.

3. Experience.

II. We finn comfort for the present.

III. We derive hope for the future. (J. Lyth, D. D.)

The value and use of the Bible

I. The Bible comes to us with three great powers, each of which is a guarantee of its truth, and should cause us to value it above all other books. It comes to us with the power of--

1. Tradition. Sayings that are handed on byword of mouth become altered; and so doubtless it would have been with God’s words had He not caused them to be written, and then to be delivered to appointed guardians, charged to keep them inviolate. We should thank God, then, that He has given us His holy Church, Jewish and Christian, to be--“a witness and keeper” of His Word, thereby enabling us to know that, in believing it, we are not following “cunningly devised fables.”

2. Prophecy. The Bible contains the history not only of the past and present, but also of the future. And we feel sure that all that is predicted will be fulfilled, just because all that was prophesied concerning the Jews, and Jerusalem, and Christ has been fulfilled. And then, if the prophecies of the Bible are true, all else which it contains, we may be sure, is true.

3. Edification. Parts of the Bible may be hard to understand, but none, however unlearned, ever yet studied it, prayerfully and humbly, without finding that it built them up in faith and love. Did ever you find any other book like it in this respect?

II. How, then, should we use the Bible so as to prove that we really value it?

1. We should read it every day. Although we talk much about the blessing of an “open Bible,” yet to a large number the Bible is kept like some rare treasure to be looked at, not used. It is a very good thing to read the Bible through continuously, endeavouring to grasp the teaching as a whole. But it is a good thing also every day to read a few verses, that all day long we may have in our minds some word of God to rest upon. And if we can commit them to memory, so much the better. Then, in time, we should have our minds stored with holy thoughts, and when Satan approached, “the sword of the Spirit” would be ready to our hand.

2. We should read with the definite desire of hearing God’s voice. And this implies that we must read in a humble and teachable spirit; not approaching the Bible with our minds prejudiced, or that we may find some confirmation for our own theories and practices, but saying simply, “Lord, what wouldest Thou have me to do?”

3. In order that, in the reading of the Bible, we may thus listen for and respond to the voice of God, we must prepare our hearts and minds by earnest prayer.

4. As the Bible is the best book of private devotions, use it as such.

5. Do not be perplexed because there are some things in the Bible which you cannot understand. “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine.”

6. Try to see Jesus there, and to realise the work that He accomplished and the example that He set. (J. Beeby.)

The Old Testament: its trustworthiness, value, and purpose

The apostle’s purpose in making the quotation of verse 3 was to bring about a more brotherly feeling between the two great divisions of the Roman Church (verse 1). He might have illustrated his point by referring to many acts in our Lord’s life, but he refers to a passage in Psalms 69:1-36. instead. But although David in it is describing his own troubles, a Jewish Christian would not have been surprised at St. Paul’s applying the words to our Lord, for he would have known that some Jewish books already understood these words of the promised Messiah; but a convert from heathenism would have had many difficulties to get over in accepting this. “Why should a psalm written by David, and referring to David’s circumstances more than a thousand years before, be thus used to pourtray the life and character of Jesus?” This difficulty Paul meets by laying down a broad principle which includes a great deal else besides. “Whatsoever things,” etc. Consider some of the truths which this statement seems to imply.

I. The trustworthiness of the Old Testament.

1. Unless a book or a man be trustworthy, it is impossible to feel confidence in it or in him, and confidence is the very first condition of receiving instruction to any good purpose. Just as wilful sin is incompatible with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the soul, so inveracity is incompatible with the claim of a book to have been inspired by the Author of all truth. Thus in the Book of Deuteronomy, long addresses are ascribed to Moses, and Moses describes a series of events of which he claims to have been an eyewitness. If, then, these addresses and narratives were composed by some Jew, who lived many centuries after Moses, and imposed the book upon the conscience of the Jewish people as the work of Moses himself, such a representation is irreconcilable with the veracity of the book. Or if a striking prediction in Daniel 8:1-27 about Antiochus Epiphanes was really written after the event, the book in which it occurs is not a trustworthy book. Unless there be such a thing as inspiration of inveracity we must choose between the authority of some of our modern critics and any belief in inspiration--nay, more, any belief in the permanent value of the Scriptures as source of Christian instruction. Nobody now expects to be instructed by the false Decretals. Certainly every trustworthy book is not inspired; but a book claiming inspiration ought at least to be trustworthy, and a literature which is said to be inspired for the instruction cf the world must not fall below the level which is required for the ordinary purposes of human intercourse.

2. For Christians it will be enough to know that our Lord has set the seal of His infallible sanction on the whole of the Old Testament. He found the Hebrew canon just as we have it, and He treated it as an authority which was above discussion. Nay, more, He went out of His way to sanction not a few portions of it which our modern scepticism too eagerly rejects. When He would warn His hearers against the dangers of spiritual relapse, He bade them remember Lot’s wife; when He would point out how worldly engagements might blind the soul to the coming judgment, He reminds them how men ate and drank, etc., until the day that Noah entered the Ark; when He would put His finger on that fact in past Jewish history which, by its admitted reality, would warrant belief in His own coming resurrection, He points to Jonah three days and nights in the whale’s belly; when standing on the Mount of Olives with the Holy City at His feet, He would quote that prophecy, the fulfilment of which would mark for His followers that this impending doom had at last arrived, He desires them to flee to the mountains, when they shall see “the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the Holy Place.” The trustworthiness of the Old Testament is inseparable from the trustworthiness of our Lord.

II. That the Jewish Scriptures have a world-wide and enduring value. Some instruction, no doubt, is to be gathered from the literature of every people, but on the other hand, there is a great deal in the very finest uninspired literature that cannot be described as permanently or universally instructing; and, therefore, when the apostle says of a great collection of books of various characters and dates, and on various subjects, that whatsoever was contained in them had been set down for the instruction of men of another faith and a later age, we think it an astonishing assertion. Clearly, if the apostle is to be believed, these books cannot be like any other similar collections of national laws, records, poems, and proverbs. There must be in them some quality or qualities which warrant this lofty estimate. And here we may observe that as books rise in the scale of excellence, they tend towards exhibiting a permanence and universality of interest. They rise above the local and personal incidents of their production; they show qualities which address themselves to the minds and heart of the human race. This is the case within limits of our own Shakespeare. And yet by what an interval is Shakespeare parted from the books of the Hebrew Scriptures! His great dramatic creations we feel are only the workmanship of a very shrewd human observer, with the limitation of a human polar of view, and with the restrictive moral authority which is all that the highest human genius can claim. But here is a Book which provides for human nature as a whole, which makes this profession with aa insight and faithfulness that does not belong to the most gifted. Could any moral human author ever have stood the test which the Old Testament has stood? For what has it been to the Jewish people through the tragic vicissitudes of their wonderful history--to Christendom for nineteen centuries? It has formed the larger part of the religious note-book of the Christian Church, it has shaped Christian hopes, largely governed Christian legislation, supplied the language for Christian prayer and praise; the noblest and the saintliest souls have fed their souls on it. Throughout the Christian centuries the Old Testament has been a mine constantly worked, and far to-day from being exhausted. Its genealogies, apparently so long and so dry, may remind us when we examine the names attentively of the awful responsibility which attaches to the transmission of the gift of life, of a type of character which we had ourselves perchance modified, to another, and, perhaps, a distant generation; or sometimes they suggest the care with which all that bears upon the human ancestry of our Lord and Saviour was treasured up in the records of the people of revelation. Those minute ritual directions of the law should bring before us first one and then another aspect of that to which assuredly they point--the redeeming worth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

III. That a second or deeper sense of Scripture constantly underlies the primary literal, superficial sense.

1. Nobody, of course, would ever expect to find the second sense in an uninspired book, however well written. In Macaulay’s History, e.g., we read what he has to say about the events which he describes, and there is an end to it. But this is not true of the Old Testament Scriptures. In the account in Genesis of Abraham’s relations with Hagar, Sara, Ishmael, and Isaac, the apostle bids us see the Jewish and the Christian Covenants, and the spiritual slaves of the Mosaic law, and the enfranchised sons of the mother of us all. And in like manner St. Paul teaches the Corinthians in his First Epistle to see in the Exodus and in the events which followed it, not a bare series of historical occurrences, but the fellowship of Christian privileges and of Christian failings.

2. The neglect of this secondary and spiritual sense of Scripture has sometimes led Christians to mis-apply the Old Testament very seriously. Thus, for instance, both the soldiers of Raymond of Toulouse and the Puritans appealed to the early wars of the Israelites as a sanction for indiscriminate slaughter. Dwelling on the letter of the narrative they missed its true and lasting but deeper import, the eternal witness that it bears to God’s hatred of moral evil, and the duty of making war upon those passions which too easily erect their Jericho or their Ai within the Christian soul itself, and are only conquered by resolute perseverance and courage.

3. This second sense of Scripture is especially instructive as a guide to the knowledge and love of Christ, who is the end as of the law, so of the whole of the Old Testament, to every one that believeth. Prophecies such as Isaiah’s of the virginal birth, and of the Man of Sorrows, or of Psalms 22:1-31; Psa_110:1-7, can properly be referred to no one else. But there is much which has a primary reference to some saint, or hero, or event of the day, which yet in its deeper significance points on to Him. All this great deliverance from Egypt and Babylonia, foreshadowed a greater deliverance beyond; all these elaborate rights of purification and sacrifice, which have no meaning apart from the one sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, and that succession of saints and heroes who, with all their imperfections, point onwards and upwards to One who dignifies their feebler and broken lives by making them in not a few respects anticipations of His glorious self. (Canon Liddon.)

The Bible meets life’s deepest necessities

The psalmists never hesitated to say that the Bible, as they had it, met all life’s deepest necessities: “This is my comfort in my affliction, for Thy word hath quickened me” (Psalms 119:50); “I remember Thy judgments of old, O Lord, and have comforted myself “ (Psalms 119:52); “Unless Thy law had been my delight, I should then have perished in my affliction” (Psalms 119:92); “Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet Thy commandments are my delights” (Psalms 119:143). A book of which all this can be said the world will not willingly let die. Whatever is held by the heart is held longest. The friend that will sit up all night when we are in pain and weariness is not a friend we can easily cast off. Many a summer-holiday acquaintance we can well dismiss; but the friend that knows us, that sticketh closer than a brother, that is the same in winter and in summer, that is tenderer in affliction even than in joy, is a friend whose name will stand at the top, and will survive the going away of many whose affection was superficial, and whose relation to us, though ostentatious, was flimsy. If the psalmists could say all this, what can we say? If the dawn was so beautiful, what of the mid-day? If the spring was so trim, what of the harvest? (J. Parker, D.D.)

Comfort of the Scriptures

The best commentary upon the Bible is experience. The man who can stand up and say, “I have been in affliction, sorrow, darkness, weakness, poverty, and the Bible has proved itself to be a counsellor and light and guide and friend,” is one of the best annotators the Bible ever had. (J. Parker, D. D.)

Patience, comfort, hope

Among the manifold changes and chances of this mortal life, there are three things which we all need, and which, the more we have, the happier we shall be. These are patience, comfort, and hope. The three are closely connected. Hope produces patience, and in the patience of hope there is comfort amid all the trials of life. All these three are to be sought from God.

1. Patience. How much need we all have of it! How it sweetens life and lessens its ills! On the other hand, what mischief impatience does! Patience finds difficulties in God’s Word, mysteries too deep for human intellect. Impatience turns away in a rage from these and takes refuge in the dreary darkness of unbelief. But patience waits in quiet trust upon God for mysteries to be unfolded. Patience is not blind to the many dark problems in the history of the world and in human nature. It sees them. It grieves over the slow progress of good, the seeming triumph of evil. But impatience scoffingly denies that there can be a God and a superintending Providence.

2. Comfort. Ah, what a rich store of that is to be found in the Scriptures of God! There the soul that is weighed down by the burden of its sin, the heart that is broken learns how though its sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow. There the afflicted learn that they are not suffering under the strokes of an angry God, but that “whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.” They see the Captain of their salvation made perfect through sufferings.

3. Hope. Ah, how richly hope is sustained by the glorious promises of which the Scriptures are full! (J. E. Vernon.)


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

Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Romans 15:4". The Biblical Illustrator. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/romans-15.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

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

This verse has left a mighty impact upon the minds of all who ever contemplated it. Adam Clarke, the great scholar of the 19th century, made this the motto of his life's work of a commentary on the entire Bible. The immediate application of the first clause in this verse is to the things writhed in Psalms 69, just cited; but it has a wider scope of application to all of the sacred scriptures, showing that the Old Testament, no less than the New Testament, bears a precious freight of relevance to all people of all ages; and, although many of the forms and shadows of the old order have been replaced by the realities of the new institution of Christ, a proper understanding of those glorious principles which, in the New Testament, have supplanted the types of the Old Testament, is surely promoted and enhanced by the study of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. John 5:39; 1 Corinthians 10:11, and many other New Testament passages affirm such to be the case, as well as the hundreds of New Testament quotations from the Old Testament, as here, and throughout the New Testament. Matthew alone quoted the Old Testament 66 times; and practically all of Hebrews is written with the Old Testament in view.

The patience of the Old Testament heroes of faith provides strong encouragement for Christians who must struggle with many of the problems and situations which confronted them. Glorious comfort is provided in the record of their ultimate triumph. It is a mistake, therefore, for Christians to confine their studies to the New Testament alone. There is many a cup of joy awaiting the careful student of the Old Testament.


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/romans-15.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

For whatsoever things were written aforetime,.... In the books of the Old Testament; the apostle says this, to vindicate the pertinency of the above citation, and to prevent any objection that might be made against it; since whatsoever was written in that psalm did not belong personally to David, but to Christ; and what is written concerning him, is designed for the use and instruction of his people; yea, whatever is written anywhere in the sacred Scriptures,

were written for our learning; to instruct in the knowledge of Christ, of his person, offices, grace, righteousness, obedience, sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension; and of the great salvation and redemption he came to obtain, and has obtained; and to teach us the doctrines of grace, of pardon through the blood of Christ, atonement by his sacrifice, justification by his righteousness, acceptance in his person, and eternal life through him; as also to inform us of our duty, and how we ought to behave both towards God and men:

that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope; the Scriptures are not only written for our present instruction, but for the ingenerating, encouraging, and establishing, an hope of eternal Life in another world; which they are the means of, under the influence of divine grace; since they give us a clear account of eternal life; of the promise of it in Christ; of its being procured by him, and secured in him; of the means of enjoying it, through his blood and righteousness; of the declarations of God's free grace and mercy to sinners, and of the various instances of persons who have been made partakers of it; all which encourage to hope in the Lord, and to rejoice in hope of the glory of God; believing we also may have and enjoy the thing hoped for, "through patience and comfort of the Scriptures"; both which are encouraged thereby: the "patience of the Scriptures" is not a stoical apathy, a stupid indolence; and is of a different kind from that patience the writings of the Heathen philosophers define and recommend: the Scripture gives an account of the true nature of patience, in bearing all sorts of evils for Christ's sake; of the excellency and usefulness of it; and do strongly exhort unto it upon the best principles, and with the best motives; and are full of promises to the exercise of it, and furnish out the best examples of suffering affliction, and patience: "the comfort of the Scriptures" is such as is not to be met with elsewhere. These writings abound with exceeding great and precious promises, and excellent doctrines, big with consolation to the saints; and both serve much to cherish, support, and maintain an hope of eternal happiness; all which prove the divine authority, excellency, and usefulness of the sacred writings, and recommend the reading of them by us, and the hearing of them explained by others.


Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/romans-15.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

3 For whatsoever things were written c aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the d scriptures might have hope.

(3) The preventing of an objection: such things as are cited out of the examples of the ancients, are propounded unto us to this end and purpose, that according to the example of our fathers we should in patience and hope bear one with another.

(c) By Moses and the prophets.

(d) The scriptures are said to teach and comfort, because God uses them to teach and comfort his people with them.


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

Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/romans-15.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning — “instruction”

through, etc. — “through the comfort and the patience of the Scriptures”

might have hope — that is, “Think not that because such portions of Scripture relate immediately to Christ, they are inapplicable to you; for though Christ‘s sufferings, as a Savior, were exclusively His own, the motives that prompted them, the spirit in which they were endured, and the general principle involved in His whole work - self-sacrifice for the good of others - furnish our most perfect and beautiful model; and so all Scripture relating to these is for our instruction; and since the duty of forbearance, the strong with the weak, requires ‹patience,‘ and this again needs ‹comfort,‘ all those Scriptures which tell of patience and consolation, particularly of the patience of Christ, and of the consolation which sustained Him under it, are our appointed and appropriate nutriment, ministering to us ‹hope‘ of that blessed day when these shall no more be needed.” See on Romans 4:25, Note 7. (For the same connection between “patience and hope” see on Romans 12:12, and see on 1 Thessalonians 1:3).


Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/romans-15.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Were written aforetime (προεγραπηproegraphē). Second aorist passive indicative of προγραπωprographō old verb, in N.T. only here, Galatians 3:1 (which see); Ephesians 3:3; Judges 1:4.

For our learning (εις την ημετεραν διδασκαλιανeis tēn hēmeteran didaskalian). “For the instruction of us.” Objective sense of possessive pronoun ημετεροςhēmeteros See Matthew 15:9 and note on 2 Timothy 3:16 for διδασκαλιανdidaskalian (from διδασκωdidaskō to teach).

We might have hope (την ελπιδα εχωμενtēn elpida echōmen). Present active subjunctive of εχωechō with ιναhina in final clause, “that we might keep on having hope.” One of the blessed uses of the Scriptures.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/romans-15.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Rom

Old writings for new times.—The mercy and wisdom of God are shown in the gift of a written revelation. Nature teaches only in symbols, and her writing must be interpreted by the writing of revelation. Human reason is at best a blind guide, and must be enlightened by divine reason; thus our need of a revelation. Men receive much light from the Bible, and yet too often treat it as if it were of no account in either the intellectual or moral sphere. Perhaps they do not know how much they owe to the "god of books." The pride and ingratitude of men are seen in the fact that they are hypercritical in studying the Bible. We owe to it what is best in our modern civilisation. We cleave to these writings, for by them patience and comfort are imparted, and hope is begotten and confirmed.

I. These writings are ancient in their origin.—The modern cry is for new books and for something sensational. Strong men are made by strong food. Samson lost his strength in Delilah's lap; and the Delilah lap of a light modern literature may destroy intellectual and moral manhood. Plagiarism in sermons has been a well-worn topic. We may now treat of plagiarism in our intellectual magazines and our first-class novels. The truth is that ancient writings are great intellectual storehouses; and the most precious of all are the Scriptures. These writings are confessedly the most ancient, and are surrounded by evidence more various, copious, and exhaustive than that which can be adduced in support of any other ancient writings—written in the childhood of the race, and yet contain depths of wisdom unfathomed. Moses is pelted with geological stones, confronted with mathematical puzzles, and attacked with evolutionary theories, and yet he still rules from Sinai and speaks from his unknown sepulchre in Nebo. David is charged with immorality; still his lyrics charm the universe, and his sublime melodies float through our ancient structures. What modern publisher would dream of giving ten thousand pounds to that old Jew, of whose race and tribe we are ignorant, for his Hebrew manuscript of Isaiah! And yet the greatest modern singers give utterance to his poetry, and the most celebrated musical composers are inspired by his lofty periods. We do not go the length of blindly accepting the old because it is old; but surely the ancient has a claim upon respectful consideration. This is wonderful, that time has not impaired the vitality of these writings. A declaration this that they came from Him who fainteth not, neither is weary. That these writings appeared in the childhood of the race, and should by majesty of thought, by purity of influence, and by sublimity of language have lifted themselves up above surrounding darkness, ignorance, and corruption, is no small evidence of their superhuman origin. These ancient writings may be compared to strong rocks, and modern criticism to feeble wavelets. They move in impotent endeavour. When they have done their worst and retired, men will be ashamed of their folly in fearing lest God's Scriptures should be swept into oblivion.

II. These ancient writings are prophetic in their scope.—St. Paul does not confine himself to the prophecies, his quotation being from the Psalms. The prophecies remain as evidence to the inspiration of the Bible. Beyond these the ancient writings are prophetic because they forthtell the truth for all time. The writers stood in times beginning, and looked to after-time, and wrote both for St. Paul and his compeers, and for that army who should receive the same faith and follow in the same pathway. In this sense few modern writers are prophetic; their names will perish, and their works be forgotten. Those who have made a cheap reputation by attacking Moses and the prophets, if they could rise from the dead would be surprised to find themselves forgotten, while Moses and the prophets were still influencing mankind. Modern science of infidel tendencies may let the prophets down into deep pits, but their voices still roll forth with majesty. The prophets' scrolls may be thrown into the fire, but the flames illuminate their messages. Moses, the prophets, and the apostles are time's great teachers and true prophets because they have been taught in heaven's school.

III. These prophetic writings are spiritual in their design.—Above all other books they have been promotive of learning from a mere intellectual point of view. Biblical students greatest scholars. Tongue cannot tell what the Bible has thus done. Young minds have been quickened by its matchless stories; the dormant intellect has been touched to energy by its magical power, and shown unexpected ability; eloquence has risen to loftiest strains when inspired by the inspired word. It has created sublimest musical melodies, and strengthened the poet's wings for highest soarings. The novelist, while attacking, will quote a sentence to conclude and grace the page; and the historian will check his narration to admire the flowers culled from this divine garden. But secular learning is dangerous if it be not accompanied by sacred. The former too often breeds impatience and discomfort, while the latter produces patience and comfort. By that study we are introduced to "quiet resting-places." We meditate upon the patience of the saints until we catch somewhat of their spirit. Reading these ancient writings is good; keeping them stored in the memory is good. But patience is the crowning quality. "Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy." These writings record the incomparable drama of Job's sufferings and triumphs. Patience taught by the example of the saints. Consolation imparted by the promises.

IV. These writings are benevolent in their purpose.—A benevolent work to produce and strengthen hope; for when a man loses hope he becomes poor indeed. How much of our modern writing is for the destruction of hope! Attempts are more largely made to destroy the foundations of our faith; and if these be destroyed, where are our hopes? These ancient writings teach us hope in the wisdom of the divine plans, in the benevolence of the divine arrangements, and in the final good to be secured by divine proceedings; they give the hope of "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." They keep hope in lively exercise. Men have tried other writings in vain. But here is found a hope which maketh not ashamed; which has enabled its possessors to resist the "temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil"; to breast a dark sea of troubles and overcome; to raise hymns of praise in the prison-cell; to turn the dark dungeon into a palace beautiful; and to sing while the flames were scorching the poor body,—

"There is a blessed land making most happy;

Never thence shall rest depart, nor cause of sorrow come."

And truly glorious is the death scene of those who are rightly sustained by Christian hope. The Scriptures only can give this divine grace.

SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Rom

Things written for a purpose.—"For whatsoever things were written afore-time were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." A quotation in the preceding verse from Psa leads the writer of this epistle to speak of whatsoever things, besides this, were written in ancient times. The particular instance suggests the universal truth as to the nature and object, not of all writings, sacred and profane, but of those regarded as sacred by the Jews.

I. The apostle we see, then, had in mind "the law and the prophets," or all the canonical books of the Old Testament.—These are believed to be and to contain a revelation to man of duty and hope—a revelation for the development of spiritual life and moral principle and habit. And whatever theory we may adopt, verbal, substantial, or in effect, of inspiration, we must acknowledge that St. Paul taught and believed that all the Old Testament Scriptures were given for a direct purpose, not from man, though by man—given in some way by divine authority, or they would not be a sufficient foundation for our hope—"hope that maketh not ashamed," and which we have "as an anchor of the soul." The ten commandments were claimed to have been "written with the finger of God." "Holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." The Scriptures are called "lively oracles." "Thus it is written," said Christ. "As it is written," the evangelists frequently say. "In the volume of the book it is written of me," said the psalmist—words which St. Paul quotes in the Epistle to the Hebrews. The first copies of the law were probably written on papyrus; the later on parchment, which was unrolled from right to left from a staff, and rolled on another as it was read; hence the word "volume." The Jews had profound regard for the sacred writings, and their learned men knew the number of words, and even of letters, in them. It is not necessary to hold that the Holy Scriptures were miraculously preserved, but the reverence for them would tend to preserve them uncorrupted. That the books were all written by the men whose names they bear it may be difficult to prove; but the theory of imposture is impossible under all the circumstances. We must believe that they were written—written by men, but on the authority and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Much the same may be said of the books of the New Testament. They were written for a purpose. They, it is believed, were written by divine inspiration, if not by dictation. They are the spiritual law of the kingdom of Christ. In them, nay, in the whole Bible, we are furnished with all necessary instruction, guidance, reproof, and counsel. "In them ye think [are satisfied that] ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of Christ." These books have been received from very early times by the Christian Church, guarded, taught to the people, cited, and preserved, and are plainly worthy of all acceptation.

II. The purpose for which the Holy Scriptures were written is one plain enough and easy to be understood.—

1. They were written for our learning. This has necessarily been anticipated; but too much cannot be said upon it. We need instruction as to our natural condition and sinful state, as to the means of grace and spiritual renewal, as to the need of worshipping and serving our Creator, as to the life which we have in and through Jesus Christ our Lord, and as to the way of finding life eternal, with its fulness of joy and rivers of pleasure.

2. The Scriptures were written that we might be patient learners in the kingdom of God, studying His word and pleasure, that we may prove "what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." We are to be patient students, until we become as "scribes instructed unto the kingdom of heaven." Patience in suffering, as well as in doing, is to be learned. "If we suffer with Him [i.e., with Christ], we shall also reign with Him." "The trial of our faith being much more precious than gold that perished, though it be tried with fire, may be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." We are appointed both to do and to suffer; and how we shall act and live is taught us in Holy Scripture.

3. The Scriptures were written that we might have hope. Man without them is in darkness. He may reason out for himself a way of life; but it will not bring him an assured and earnest hope. But hope is to come, in great part, by doing the commandments of God, and patiently submitting to affliction, being "kept by His mighty power through faith unto salvation." Thus come unto us sure comfort and peace, and hope becomes stronger and brighter as we advance in our Christian course, and this hope reacts upon our souls, and is an incitement to purity of life, and gives satisfaction in the very article of death.—Dr. Burrows, Ashtabula, New York.

The things that were written aforetime.—What St. Paul said of the Old Testament we may say of the New—of the whole Christian Bible—not least of those glorious epistles which are St. Paul's own contributions to it. All of these Scriptures, New as well as Old, are written for the learning of us who live in these later ages. Our business is to make the most of the lesson. Scripture is a manual of moral or spiritual learning. It is addressed to the heart and to the will, as well as the intellect. It is a book for the understanding; and much more, it is a book for the spirit and for the heart. There are, no doubt, many other kinds of learning to be got from the Bible. It is a great manual of Eastern antiquities. It gives us information about the ancient world which we can obtain nowhere else. It carries us back to the early dawn of history, when as yet all that we commonly mean by civilisation did not exist. It is a handbook, again, of political experience. It shows us what a nation can do, and what it may have to suffer—how it may be affected by the conduct of its rulers—how it may make its rulers like itself. Again, it is a rich collection of moral wisdom as applied to personal conduct, and a man need not believe in divine revelation in order to admire the shrewdness and penetration of the Book of Proverbs. Again, it is a mine of poetry. It contains the highest poetry which the human race possesses—poetry before which the great masters of song must bow. It is a choice field for the study of language. In its pages we trace one beautiful language, the Hebrew, from its cradle to its grave. It gives us lessons in the use of language, to describe the emotions and the moods of the human soul, which are not to be found elsewhere. Learning of this kind has its value, and some of it is necessary if we are to make the most of this precious book; but it is not the learning which St. Paul says that the ancient Scriptures were meant to impart to Christians. A man may have much of this learning, and yet he may miss altogether the true lessons that Scripture has to teach him. "That we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope"—that is the end of the highest learning which Scripture has to give us. The Bible is the book of God, so it is the book of the future. At first sight it seems to be altogether a book of the past. The Bible helps us as no other book does or can. It stands alone as the warrant and stimulant of hope. It speaks with a divine authority; it opens out a future which no human authority could attest. Here is consolation and hope in Scripture for those who need and who will have it. Those who will may find in Holy Scripture patience, consolation, hope. Not in its literary or historical features, but in the great truths which it reveals about God, about our incarnate Lord, about man, in the great examples it holds forth of patience and of victory, in the great promises it repeats, in the future which it unfolds to the eye of faith, is this treasure to be found. A more constant, more reverent, more thorough use of Holy Scripture is surely one of the appropriate duties of a season like Advent, for "Scripture is a long letter sent to us from our heavenly country," and we who hope in time to reach its shores should learn what we can about it and about the conditions of reaching it while we may. Thus, indeed, shall we prepare for that event which surely waits us all, the future judgment, if we shall read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest those Scriptures which God has given for our learning, that by patience and comfort of this His holy word we embrace and hold fast that hope of everlasting life which He has given us in and with His adorable Son.—Canon Liddon.

Our duty to study things written.—"Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning." For our welfare Moses wrote, David sang, Solomon spoke lessons of wisdom, and the experiences of Job were recorded; Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the other prophets opened out their scrolls for our moral well-being; the great Teacher unfolded lessons of heavenly wisdom, the four evangelists observed and recorded, Paul argued, Peter laid down practical rules, John wrote his poem of love, and the sublime work of the Revelation was penned, for our learning. God's revelation has been gradual. The knowledge of God's material works has been progressively acquired, and God's word has been given to mankind in parts. The Bible, thus given in parts and at long intervals, is possessed of striking unity. All the parts converge towards one central object—Jesus Christ. God gave to mankind a perfect world, and could at once have given a complete revelation. God revealed for the learning of the men of the olden time; and now He has blessed by giving the gathered writings of all His inspired servants. God gave one authoritative collection of writings. Men collect the wit and wisdom of Shakespeare, or gems from voluminous authors; here, in the Bible, is treasured the wisdom of the ancients. Some overlook the wisdom, and fix only upon what they call the follies; let it be ours to look to the wisdom. It is surprising that in these ancient writings we find purest types of composition, most correct and sublime thoughts, loftiest flights of poetry and eloquence, and brightest pearls of wisdom. But more than that, the writings of the Bible contain the true standard of morals. It is our duty prayerfully to study these writings. This book bears the impress of divinity. Let the objectors write psalms like David, show powers of imagination like the prophetic bards, let fall from their lips pearls of truth equal to those of the great teachers, persuade like Paul, and touch like the apostle of love, and then we may patiently listen to their diatribes. Meanwhile we will reverently attend to those Scriptures which have been given for our learning.

Things written best.—God speaks by His Scriptures. "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning; that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope." Scripta sunt—they are written. Things that go only by tale or tradition meet with such variations, augmentations, abbreviations, corruptions, false glosses, that, as in a lawyer's pleading, truth is lost in the quœre for her. Related things we are long in getting, quick in forgetting; therefore God commanded His law should be written. Littera scripta manet. Thus God doth effectually speak to us. Many good, wholesome instructions have dropped from human peris, to lesson and direct man in goodness; but there is no promise given to any word to convert the soul but to God's word. Without this antiquity is novelty, novelty subtlety, subtlety death. Theologia scholastica multis modis sophistica—School divinity is little better than mere sophistry. Plus argutiarum quam doctrinœ, plus doctrinœ quam, usus—It hath more quickness than soundness, more sauce than meat, more difficulty than doctrine, more doctrine than use. This Scripture is the perfect and absolute rule. Bellarmine acknowledgeth two things requirable in a perfect rule—certainty and evidence. If it be not certain, it is not rule; if it be not evident, it is no rule to us. Only the Scripture is, both in truth and evidence, a perfect rule. Other writings may have canonical verity; the Scripture only hath canonical authority. Others, like oil, may make cheerful man's countenance; but this, like bread, Strengthens his heart. This is the absolute rule: "And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God" (Gal ). Oh that we had hearts to bless God for His mercy that the Scriptures are among us, and that not sealed up under an unknown tongue! The time was when a devout father was glad of a piece of the New Testament in English—when he took his little son into a corner, and with joy of soul heard him read a chapter, so that even children became fathers to their fathers, and begat them to Christ. Now, as if the commonness had abated the worth, our Bibles lie dusty in the windows; it is all if a Sunday handling quit them from perpetual oblivion. Few can read, fewer do read, fewest of all read as they should. God of His infinite mercy lay not to our charge this neglect!—Adams.

The Scriptures an arsenal.—I use the Scriptures, not as an arsenal to be resorted to only for arms and weapons, … but as a matchless temple, where I delight to contemplate the beauty, the symmetry, the magnificence, of the structure, and to increase my awe and excite my devotion to the Deity there preached and adored.—Boyle.

Every passage fruitful.—Scarcely can we fix our eyes upon a single passage in this wonderful book which has not afforded comfort or instruction to thousands, and been wet with tears of penitential sorrow or grateful joy drawn from eyes that will weep no more.—Payson.

This lamp, from off the everlasting throne,

Mercy took down, and in the night of time

Stood casting on the dark her gracious bow,

And evermore beseeching men with tears

And earnest sighs to hear, believe, and live.

Pollock.

Scriptures remarkable as a literary composition.—Even as a literary composition the sacred Scriptures form the most remarkable book the world has ever seen. They are of all writings the most ancient. They contain a record of events of the deepest interest. The history of their influence is the history of civilisation and happiness. The wisest and best of mankind have borne witness to their power as an instrument of enlightenment and of holiness; and having been prepared by "men of God who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" to reveal "the true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent," they have on this ground the strongest claims upon our attentive and reverential regard.—Angus.

Not to be discouraged if we do not understand.—We often read the Scriptures without comprehending its full meaning; however, let us not be discouraged. The light, in God's good time, will break out, and disperse the darkness, and we shall see the mysteries of the gospel.—Bishop Wilson.

The great excellency of the word.—All things which are written are written for our erudition and knowledge. All things that are written in God's book, in the Bible book, in the book of the Holy Scripture, are written to be our doctrine. Consider that the words of Paul are not to be understanded of all Scriptures, but only of those which are of God written in God's book; and all things which are therein "are written for our learning." The excellency of this word is so great, and of so high dignity, that there is no earthly thing to be compared unto it. The Author thereof is great—that is, God Himself, eternal, almighty, everlasting. The Scripture, because of Him, is also great, eternal, most mighty and holy. There is no king, emperor, magistrate, and ruler, of what state soever they be, but are bound to obey this God, and to give credence unto His holy word, in directing their steps ordinately according unto the same word. Yea, truly, they are not only bound to obey God's book, but also the minister of the same, "for the word's sake," so far as he speaketh "sitting in Moses' chair"—that is, if his doctrine be taken out of Moses' law. For in this world God hath two swords; the one is a temporal sword, the other a spiritual. The temporal sword resteth in the hands of kings, magistrates, and rulers under Him; whereunto all subjects, as well as the clergy as the laity, be subject, and punishable for any offence contrary to the same book. The spiritual sword is in the hands of the ministers and preachers; whereunto all kings, magistrates, and rulers ought to be obedient, that is, to hear and follow, so long as the ministers sit in Christ's chair, that is, speaking out of Christ's book. The king correcteth transgressors with the temporal sword; yea, and the preacher also, if he be an offender. But the preacher cannot correct the king, if he be a transgressor of God's word, with the temporal sword; but he must correct and reprove him with the spiritual sword, fearing no man, setting God only before his eyes, under whom he is a minister to supplant and root up all vice and mischief by God's word; whereunto all men ought to be obedient, as is mentioned in many places of Scripture, and amongst many this is one, Quæcunque jusserint vos servare servate et facite: "Whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do." Therefore let the preacher teach, improve, amend, and instruct in righteousness with the spiritual sword, fearing no man, though death should ensue. Thus Moses, fearing no man, with his sword did reprove King Pharaoh at God's commandment. All things that are written in God's book, in the Holy Bible, they were written before our time; but yet to continue from age to age, as long as the world doth stand.—Bishop Latimer.

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 15

Rom . President Webster on the Bible.—On one occasion, when seated in the drawing-room with Mr. and Mrs. Ely, at Rochester, Mr. Webster laid his hand on a copy of the Scriptures, saying with great emphasis, "This is the Book!" This led to a conversation on the importance of the Scriptures and the too frequent neglect of the study of the Bible by gentlemen of the legal profession, their pursuits in life leading them to the almost exclusive use of works having reference to their profession. Mr. Webster said: "I have read through the entire Bible many times. I now make a practice to go through it once a year. It is the book of all others for lawyers, as well as for divines; and I pity the man that cannot find in it a rich supply of thought and of rules for his conduct. It fits man for life; it prepares him for death." The conversation then turned upon sudden deaths, and Mr. Webster adverted to the then recent death of his brother, who expired suddenly at Concord, N.H. "My brother," he continued. "knew the importance of Bible truths. The Bible led him to prayer, and prayer was his communion with God. On the day on which he died he was engaged in an important cause in the court then in session; but this cause, important as it was, did not keep him from his duty to his God. He found time for prayer, for on the desk which he had just left was found a paper, written by him on that day, which for fervent piety, a devotedness to his heavenly Master, and for expressions of humility I think was never excelled."

Rom . Robin Hood before the word of God.—I came once myself to a place, riding on a journey homeward from London, and I sent word overnight into the town that I would preach there in the morning, because it was holiday; and methought it was a holiday's work. The church stood in my way, and I took my horse and my company and went thither. I thought I should have found a great company in the church, and when I came there the church door was fast locked. I tarried there half an hour and more. At last the key was found, and one of the parish comes to me and says, "Sir, this is a busy day with us. We cannot hear you; it is Robin Hood's day. The parish are gone abroad to gather for Robin Hood: I pray you let them not." I was fain there to give place to Robin Hood. I thought my rochet should have been regarded, though I were not; but it would not serve—it was fain to give place to Robin Hood's men. It is no laughing matter, my friends. It is a weeping matter, a heavy matter—a heavy matter, under the pretence of gathering for Robin Hood, a traitor and a thief, to put out a preacher, to have his office less esteemed; to prefer Robin Hood before the ministration of God's word; and all this hath come of unpreaching prelates. This realm hath been ill provided for, that it hath had such corrupt judgments in it, to prefer Robin Hood to God's word. If the bishops had been preachers, there should never have been any such thing; but we have good hope of better. We have had a good beginning. I beseech God to continue it! But I tell you, it is far wide that the people have such judgments; the bishops they could laugh at it. What was that to them? They would have them to continue in their ignorance still, and themselves in unpreaching prelacy.—Latimer.


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/romans-15.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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

Aforetime — In the Old Testament.

That we through patience and consolation of the scriptures may have hope — That through the consolation which God gives us by these, we may have patience and a joyful hope.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/romans-15.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

4.For whatsoever things, etc. This is an application of the example, lest any one should think, that to exhort us to imitate Christ was foreign to his purpose; “Nay,” he says, “there is nothing in Scripture which is not useful for your instruction, and for the direction of your life.” (440)

This is an interesting passage, by which we understand that there is nothing vain and unprofitable contained in the oracles of God; and we are at the same time taught that it is by the reading of the Scripture that we make progress in piety and holiness of life. Whatever then is delivered in Scripture we ought to strive to learn; for it were a reproach offered to the Holy Spirit to think, that he has taught anything which it does not concern us to know; let us also know, that whatever is taught us conduces to the advancement of religion. And though he speaks of the Old Testament, the same thing is also true of the writings of the Apostles; for since the Spirit of Christ is everywhere like itself, there is no doubt but that he has adapted his teaching by the Apostles, as formerly by the Prophets, to the edification of his people. Moreover, we find here a most striking condemnation of those fanatics who vaunt that the Old Testament is abolished, and that it belongs not in any degree to Christians; for with what front can they turn away Christians from those things which, as Paul testifies, have been appointed by God for their salvation?

But when he adds, that through the patience and the consolation of the Scriptures we might have hope, (441) he does not include the whole of that benefit which is to be derived from God’s word; but he briefly points out the main end; for the Scriptures are especially serviceable for this purpose — to raise up those who are prepared by patience, and strengthened by consolations, to the hope of eternal life, and to keep them in the contemplation of it. (442) The word consolation some render exhortation; and of this I do not disapprove, only that consolation is more suitable to patience, for this arises from it; because then only we are prepared to bear adversities with patience, when God blends them with consolation. The patience of the faithful is not indeed that hardihood which philosophers recommend, but that meekness, by which we willingly submit to God, while a taste of his goodness and paternal love renders all things sweet to us: this nourishes and sustains hope in us, so that it fails not.

In our version it is “comfort” in Romans 15:4, and “consolation” in Romans 15:5; but it would have been better to have retained the same word. — Ed.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/romans-15.html. 1840-57.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE UNITY OF THE BIBLE

‘Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.’

Romans 15:4

We are convinced that the value and reality of the Christianity of any country depend very largely upon the thoroughness with which that country reads its Bible. If we do not ground our religious life upon a conscientious study of the Bible, we either fall asleep morally and spiritually or we develop upon false lines which do not produce those fruits of righteousness and social well-being which follow upon true religion.

I. English people still hold this faith widely and firmly, but we can hardly claim that we practise it as our forefathers did.—We are all aware of tendencies around us that make against that steady and serious reading of the Bible which can claim that it ‘reads, marks, learns, and inwardly digests.’ These tendencies affect all our intellectual energies. We are always in a hurry, and this makes us neglect the more solid and wholesome forms of literature. We wish our reading to be provided for us in the shortest, easiest, most exciting and concentrated form. We have no time for reading, and as a consequence we can give no effort to reading. The Bible is not easy enough, not exciting enough, not short enough. And connected with this temptation to read as we run, is the temptation to read about a book instead of reading the book, as a short cut to reading the book. All the greater classics of our language—Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton—are talked about rather than read. The Bible also is talked about rather than read. We read books about the Bible rather than the Bible.

II. Further difficulties.—But I shall be told that there is another reason, or class of reasons, why the reading of the Bible is ceasing to hold the place in our spiritual education that it used to hold!

(a) What has been known as the theory of verbal inspiration has broken down. As a consequence people do not know what to think about the Bible. They have a vague idea that it has been discredited, and therefore they cease to read it or to listen to it. No one can pretend that this doctrine has been without its drawbacks. It has got between the reader and the Book. It has prevented that full and free comparison of the spiritual power of the different parts of the Book which is so distinctive a feature of Luther’s criticism; and thus it has been one cause of the tendency to fall back from the New Testament to the teaching and Spirit of the Old Testament, which has again and again hindered the progress of Christ’s Kingdom. It has made the different parts of the Book all alike in authority and inspiration.

(b) And again, the anxious endeavour to harmonise discrepancies and differences of fact has brought discredit upon the sincerity and honesty of Christian divines and apologists.

(c) We may go even deeper than this. The letter killeth; the spirit giveth life. If we make our Bible an infallible guide in the ordinary sense, if we make it a code of rules which saves us from spiritual energy and effort, we kill our own spiritual freedom; we make the Bible a letter instead of a spirit; we make the Word of God of none effect by our tradition. For these reasons we need not take it too much to heart if doubts of the doctrine of verbal inspiration drive from our ranks some who look upon religion as a mere refuge or shelter from the growing pains of an active spiritual life.

(d) But there is still the question of miracle left. There are those who say that their Bible is taken from them by the difficulty about miracles. This I believe to be a very real difficulty, but it will not be without its use if it persuades us to consider more deeply and more carefully what the Bible essentially is. Are we right in making the Bible depend upon miracle? Does not rather miracle depend upon the Bible? Every thoughtful reader of the New Testament must feel that the Lord Jesus Christ in all kinds of subtle ways makes Himself more than His miracles, which are not allowed to prove Him or to force faith in Him, but are subordinated to His Divine personality and spiritual perfection. Most of us find it easy and natural to accept miracle in the life of Christ and in the lives of the first disciples; but, if such an expression may be permitted, it is a natural miracle, a miracle which is there because of the intense reality of the spiritual life. The intense reality of the spiritual life is the essence of the New Testament; and also the intense reality of the spiritual life is the wonderful thing in the Old Testament, which makes it unique and gives it an everlasting value for mankind.

III. If recent research has been in some directions trying for our faith, in others it has been full of help.—It has only made more apparent the intense reality of the spiritual religion of the Old Testament. The prophetical books especially—Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel—have had a flood of light thrown upon them by recent scholarship which brings their teaching nearer to us and nearer to the problems of our own day and life. The consciousness of God, the spiritual intuition, the passion for righteousness in Church and State, of the Hebrew prophets make them for our own time and country full of inspiration. The spiritual splendour of the Old Testament, if we consider it rightly, has not abated; rather it has blazed out afresh. I dwell especially upon the prophets because they deal with just those social questions—those problems of justice between class and class—which we to-day find so urgent and so difficult. But I might also have quoted the Psalms. ‘Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks, so longeth my soul after Thee, O God!’ Are we to cease to use for our soul’s health the religious passion of the psalter and the vision of righteousness which the prophets create for our strengthening until we can settle the exact relation to history of the earlier half of the Old Testament? We can understand to-day more clearly than ever before the unity of the Bible as a revelation of God; as a book which puts before us the history of a nation that is led by God and finds in the invisible Father of the souls the source of all social justice, purity, and truth. This revelation culminates in the incredible fact of the life of Christ—incredible till our souls believe it, and use it for their healing and purification.

—Rev. Ronald Bayne.

Illustration

‘Take the Word of God, as that which God has meant it to be to you—take it as a revelation of Himself in Christ Jesus. Who is Himself the key to these Scriptures. “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” If only we studied them more carefully, if only we longingly desired that Christ might be revealed to us through the Holy Spirit, what a comfort and a strength it would be both in life and in death! A lady in London presented a Japanese man, who also lived in London, with a New Testament. Some time afterwards that Testament came back to her, but it was stained with blood. The man belonged to the reservists of the Japanese army, and had been called back to his country and met his death on the field of battle. In his eagerness for the conflict he stripped himself of every encumbrance—his water-bottle, his haversack; but when his body, stark and cold, was found on the hillside, there was the New Testament right on his heart, and the Russians who found it—all honour be to them—sent it back to his mother; and the mother returned it again to the lady who gave it—stained with his blood. Let us pray that the Word of God will be a guide and a stay in life and in death, and lead to a blessed eternity.’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

THE WORK OF THE BIBLE

I. The purpose of the Bible.—Written for our learning.

II. The use we are to make of the Bible.—We are to (a) read, (b) mark, (c) learn, and (d) inwardly digest the Bible.

III. What will follow its proper use?—It will (a) make us wise unto salvation, and (b) enable us to hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life.

IV. Note the Bible points to the source of all life, even Jesus Christ Himself.

—Rev. Forbes Winslow.

Illustration

‘On the shore of one of the fairest of England’s lakes, Windermere, there lies the picturesque town of Bowness, and, amongst the other curiosities of the parish church, you are shown a Bible which was used many years ago for the purpose of public worship; it is in a very fair state of preservation, but is especially remarkable for a very strong iron chain, which is firmly attached to it by a thick ring. In the old time so rare and so valuable was the Word of God that it was found necessary to take stringent measures to prevent those Bibles which were used in church from being stolen, and so they were attached by strong iron chains to a ring of the same metal, which was firmly imbedded in the wall. How different times are now! The Bible has found its way all over the wide world.’


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

Bibliography
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/romans-15.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 4. For whatsoever things, &c.] Here the apostle meets with an objection. For some man might say, that that saying of the Psalms pertains to David, how therefore is it applied to Christ? He answers, Whatsoever things, &c. q.d. We must learn to see Christ in David; David in the history, Christ in the mystery; David as the type, Christ the truth.

That we through patience] Hence the Scriptures are called, The word of Christ’s patience, Revelation 3:10, because they patient the heart under God’s holy hand; and are better called medicine for the soul ( η της ψυχης ιατρεια) than ever was the library of Alexandria.

And comfort of the Scriptures] As the blood and spirits are conveyed by the veins and arteries, so is the Spirit by the promises, helping the soul to lay itself upon Christ by faith, which is a grace of union, and so of establishment.


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

Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/romans-15.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Romans 15:4

What is the true purpose of Holy Scripture? Why was it written? St. Paul replies, "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning." And what kind of learning? we ask. St. Paul answers again, "That we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have, not merely information, but hope." Scripture, then, is a manual of moral or spiritual learning. It is addressed to the heart and to the will, as well as, or rather than, to the intellect.

I. We need hope. Hope is the nerve—it is the backbone—of all true life, of all serious efforts to battle with evil, and to live for God. For the majority of men, especially as the years pass, life is made up of the disheartening; the sunshine of the early years has gone. The evening is shrouded already with clouds and disappointment. Failure, sorrow, the sense of a burden of past sin, the presentiment of approaching death—these things weigh down the spirit of multitudes. Something is needed which shall lift men out of this circle of depressing thought—something which shall enlarge our horizon, which shall enable us to find in the future that which the present has ceased to yield. And here the Bible helps us as no other book can. It stands alone as the warrant and the stimulant of hope; it speaks with a Divine authority; it opens out a future which no human authority could attest. There are many human books which do what they can in this direction; but they can only promise something better than what we have at present on this side the grave. The Bible is pre-eminently the book of hope. In it God draws the veil which hangs between man and his awful future, and bids him take heart and arise and live.

II. Those who will may find, in Holy Scripture, patience, consolation, hope, not in its literary or historical features, but in the great truths which it reveals about God, about our incarnate Lord, about man—in the great examples it holds forth of patience and of victory, in the great promises it repeats, in the future which it unfolds to the eye of faith, is this treasure to be found.

H. P. Liddon, Penny Pulpit, No. 848.

Practical Use of the Old Testament.

Consider some of the departments of Christian knowledge, for which the study of the Old Testament Scriptures is requisite.

I. The history of the chosen people of God is very full of needful instruction for us. The seed of Abraham were selected as the vehicle of God's will, and ultimately of the blessings of redemption to the world. But they were also selected for the great lesson to be read to all ages, that the revelation of a moral law of precepts and ordinances never could save mankind. And this fact is one abundantly commented on in the New Testament. A man is equally incapacitated from reading the Gospels and the Acts to much purpose—from appreciating the relative position of our Lord and the Jews in the one, or the Apostles and the Jews in the other—without being fairly read in the Old Testament.

II. Again, one very large and important region of assurance of our faith will be void without a competent knowledge of the prophetical books of the Old Testament. It is only by being familiar with such portions of God's Word that we have any chance of recognising their undoubted fulfilment, when it arrives as a thing announced to us for our instruction and caution. If God has really given these announcements of futurity to His Church, it cannot be for us who are lying in His hands—the creatures of what a day may bring forth—to neglect them or cast them aside.

III. As an example of life the ancient Scriptures are exceedingly rich and valuable to the Christian.

IV. The direct devotional use of the ancient Scriptures is no mean element in the nurture of the Christian spirit. They are full of the breathings of the souls of holy men of God; full also of the words of life, spoken by Him to the soul. Search the Old Testament Scriptures, for they are they that testify of Christ. To find Him in them is the true and legitimate end of their study. To be able to interpret them as He interpreted them is the best result of all Biblical learning.

H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. v., p. 260.


The Scriptures Bearing Witness.

St. Paul is here speaking of things in the Old Testament respecting Christ. They are there written, he says, that we may dwell and ponder on the same, as seeing how they have been fulfilled in Him; and, so being supported and comforted by them, may have hope. But as the inspired Scriptures are of no avail unless God Himself, who gave them, enlighten us, he takes up the same words of "patience and consolation," and proceeds: "Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," that God may shed abroad His peace in our hearts, and that His peace may make us at peace with each other; and so, having love to each other, we may render to God acceptable praise and united worship. This, the firstfruits of the Word and of the Spirit, must be by brotherly kindness, uniting Jew and Gentile, bond and free, rich and poor, fragrant as the sacred ointment, and, as the dew from heaven, rich in blessing. "Wherefore receive ye one another," he adds, "as Christ also received us to the glory of God."

II. St. Paul then returns to the fulfilment of the Scriptures, showing how the law and the prophets were in Christ altogether accomplished; inasmuch as He fulfilled the righteousness of the law, was the object of its types, the substance of its shadows, and as such the Apostle and High Priest to the Hebrews; and, according to the same Scripture throughout, was to bring the Gentiles to the obedience of faith, that there might be one fold and one Shepherd. The Epistle for the day ends as it begins, with hope as resting on the Scriptures, as strengthened by the fulfilment of them, as imparted by the God of all hope; and this hope is that blessed hope of seeing Christ soon return, and of being accepted by Him. Many and various are the signs of approaching summer, and manifold, in like manner, will be the tokens of Christ's last Advent which the good will notice—will notice with joy and comfort, as a sick man does the coming on of summer. No light hath been as the light of that day will be; no darkness that we know of will be like that which it brings. O day of great reality and truth! all things are shadows and dreams when compared to thee, and the falling of sun, moon, and stars in the great tribulation will be but as a light affliction, which is but for a moment, compared with thee, like clouds that break away when the sun appears!

I. Williams, The Epistles and Gospels, vol. i., p. 1.


I. There is no book which requires such constant, such daily study, as the Bible. Regard it first merely on what one might call its human side, and quite apart from the fact that it is the wisdom not of man but of God. Scripture is not a hortus siccus, where you can at once find everything you want to find, labelled and ticketed and put away into our drawers; it is a glorious wilderness of sweets, in which under higher guidance you must gradually learn to find your way and discover one by one the beauties it contains, but which is very far from obtruding upon every careless observer. Assume for an instant that Scripture differs in no essential thing from the highest works of human intellect and genius, and then, as other books demand patience and study before they give up their secrets, can it be expected that this book, or rather this multitude of books, should not demand the same?

II. But regard the Scripture in its proper dignity with those higher claims which it has upon us as the message of God to sinful man, and then it will be still more manifest that only the constant and diligent student can hope to possess himself of any considerable portion of the treasures which it contains. For what indeed is Scripture? Men uttered it, but men who were moved thereto by the Holy Ghost. It is the wisdom of God. If all Scripture is by inspiration of God, and all Scripture profitable for instruction in righteousness, must not all Scripture, putting aside a very few chapters indeed, be the object of our most diligent search?

III. Let us read, (1) looking for Christ—Christ in the Old Testament quite as much as in the New. (2) With personal application, for Scripture is like a good portrait, which wherever we move appears to have eyes on us still. (3) Whatever we learn out of God's Holy Word, let us seek in our lives to fulfil the same and strive to bring both the outward course and inward spirit of our lives into closer and more perfect agreement with what there we search.

R. C. Trench, Sermons New and Old, p. 267.


References: Romans 15:4.—H. P. Liddon, Advent Sermons, vol. i., p. 248; G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines, p. 204.

The Twofold Genealogy of Hope.

I. We have here the hope that is the child of the night and born in the dark. "Whatsoever things," says the Apostle, "were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we through patience"—or rather, the brave perseverance—"and consolation"—or rather, perhaps encouragement—"of the Scriptures might have hope." The written word is conceived to be the source of patient endurance which acts as well as suffers. This grace Scripture works in us through the encouragement it ministers in manifold ways, and the result of both is hope. Scripture encourages us, (1) by its records, and (2) by its revelation of principles. Hope is born of sorrow; but darkness gives birth to the light, and every grief blazes up a witness to a future glory. Sorrow has not had its perfect work unless it has led us by the way of courage and perseverance to a stable hope. Hope has not pierced to the rock and builds only on things that can be shaken, unless it rests on sorrows borne by God's help.

II. We have also a hope that is born of the day, the child of sunshine and gladness, and that is set before us in the second of the two verses which we are considering. "The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope." (1) Faith leads to joy and peace. Paul has found, and if we only put it to the proof we shall also find, that the simple exercise of simple faith fills the soul with all joy and peace. (2) The joy and peace which spring from faith in their turn produce the confident anticipation of future and progressive good. Herein lies the distinguishing blessedness of the Christian joy and peace, in that they carry in themselves the pledge of their own eternity. Here, and here only, the mad boast which is doomed to be so miserably falsified when applied to earthly gladness is simple truth. Here "tomorrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant." Such joy has nothing in itself which betokens exhaustion, as all the less pure joys of earth have. It is manifestly not born for death, as are they. It is not fated, like all earthly emotions or passions, to expire in the moment of its completeness, or even by sudden revulsion to be succeeded by its opposite. Its sweetness has no after-pang of bitterness. It is not true of this gladness that "Hereof cometh in the end despondency and madness," but its destiny is to remain as long as the soul in which it unfolds shall exist, and to be full as long as the source from which it flows does not run dry.

A. Maclaren, Christian Commonwealth, June 24th, 1886.

Reference: Romans 15:13.—G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines, p. 240.



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Bibliography
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/romans-15.html.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

The apostle here informs us what is the general use of the holy scriptures, and what is the particular reason for which they were written; namely, 1. For instruction, they were written for our learning; all the precepts, promises, threatening, rewards and punishments, recorded in the scriptures, are for our information, conviction, and direction.

2. They were written for our comfort and consolation also, that we through patience and comfort of them might have hope; that is, that we through patience in bearing the like censures and reproaches, which we find the scripture-saints have borne before us, might have hope of being rewarded as they were for it.

Learn hence, That the great end for which the holy scriptures were written, was the informing of our judgments, and the directing of our practice; that by the examples which we find there of the patience of holy men under sufferings, and of God's relieving and comforting them in their distresses, we might have hope, yea, confidence and assurance, that God will also comfort and relieve us, under the like pressures and burdens.


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Bibliography
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/romans-15.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

4.] The Apostle both justifies the above citation, and prepares the way for the subject to be next introduced, viz. the duty of unanimity, grounded on the testimony of these Scriptures to Christ. The ὅσα προεγρ. applies to the whole ancient Scriptures, not to the prophetic parts only. ἡμετ. viz. of us Christians,— προεγρ. implying πρὸ ἡμῶν.

ἵνα διὰ τ. ὑπ. κ. τ. λ.] τουτέστιν, ἵνα μὴ ἐκπέσωμεν· ποικίλοι γὰρ οἱ ἀγῶνες ἔσωθεν, ἔξωθεν· ἵνα νευρούμενοι κ. παρακαλούμενοι παρὰ τῶν γραφῶν ὑπομονὴν ἐπιδειξώμεθα· ἵνα ἐν ὑπομονῇ ζῶντες μένωμεν ἐπὶ τῆς ἐλπίδος. ταῦτα γὰρ ἀλλήλων ἐστὶ κατασκευαστικά, ἡ ὑπομονὴ τῆς ἐλπίδος, ἡ ἐλπὶς τῆς ὑπομονῆς· ἅπερ ἀμφότερα ἀπὸ τῶν γραφῶν γίνεται, Chrys. ubi supra. As in this comment, ὑπομονῆς, as well as παρακλήσεως, is to be joined with τῶν γραφῶν,—otherwise it stands unconnected with the subject of the sentence. The genitives then mean, the patience and the comfort arising from the Scriptures,—produced by their study.


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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/romans-15.html. 1863-1878.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Romans 15:4. In O. T. words Paul had just presented the example of Christ as an encouragement, and not without reason: for all that was previously written, etc. This reason(11) might, in truth, cause the example of Christ set before them to appear all the more inviting and involving the more sacred obligation to follow it.

προεγράφη] προ clearly obtains its definition through the ἡ΄ετέραν in the second clause, prefixed with emphasis; hence: all that was written before us, before our time,(12) by which is meant the collective contents of the O. T. Wrongly, therefore, Reiche and Hofmann think that it refers to the Messianic oracles written before their fulfilment. On διδασκ. comp. 2 Timothy 3:16

διὰ τῆς ὑπο΄. κ. τ. παρακλ. τ. γρ.] through the perseverance and the comfort which the Scriptures afford to us. That τ. ὑπομ. is to be connected with τῶν γραφ. (in opposition to Melanchthon, Grotius, Amnion, Flatt, van Hengel, and others), is clear from the fact, that otherwise τ. ὑπο΄. would stand severed from the connection, as well as from Romans 15:5 : θεὸς τῆς ὑπο΄. κ. τ. παρακλ. The ὑπο΄ονή is here also, according to Romans 15:3, and conformably to the connection with παράκλησις, self-denying endurance in all sufferings (see on Romans 5:3), opposed to ἑαυτῷ ἀρέσκειν; and the γραφαί are conceived as “ministerium spiritus” (Melanchthon). Incorrectly Hofmann understands the ὑπομονὴ τ. γραφ. as the waiting upon Scripture (namely, upon that which stands written in it), upon its fulfilment. Thus there is substituted for the notion of ὑπομονή that of ἀποκαραδοκία (Romans 8:19), or ἀνα΄ονή (Symmachus, Psalms 38:8; Psalms 70:5), which even in 2 Thessalonians 3:5 it by no means has (see Lünemann); and how strangely would the only once used τῶν γραφ. be forced into two entirely different references of the genitive!

τὴν ἐλπίδα ἔχω΄εν denotes having the hope (i.e. the definite and conscious Christian hope of the Messianic glory); for to promote the possession of this blessed hope by means of patience and comfort in Christians, is the object for which the contents of the O. T. were written for the instruction of Christians. Accordingly neither is ἔχωμ. to be taken as teneamus, with Beza and others; nor is ἐλπ., with Reiche and others, of the object of hope. Against the latter (see on Colossians 1:5) militates the fact that ἐλπίδα ἔχειν never denotes anything else than the subjective spem habere. Acts 24:15; 2 Corinthians 10:15; Ephesians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:13; 1 John 3:3, et al.; Wisdom of Solomon 3:18; Xen. Mem. iv. 2. 28; Polyb. i. 59. 2. Comp. Lobeck, Aglaoph. I. p. 70. But that the ἐλπίς refers to the conversion of the world of nations is a misunderstanding of Hofmann’s, which is connected with his erroneous reference of γάρ, Romans 15:4 (see on Romans 15:4). It is the hope of eternal salvation which, warranted and fostered by the influence of Scripture imparting patience and consolation, can and should merge and reconcile all separate efforts of αὐταρέσκεια, which divide men, into the mutual unanimity of Christian sentiment. Comp. Ephesians 4:3-4.


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Bibliography
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/romans-15.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Romans 15:4. γὰρ, for) This assigns the reason for the quotation just made.— προεγράφη) were written before the time of the New Testament; as was that, which is quoted, Romans 15:3, as having been written concerning Christ.— ἡμετέραν) our, or of us believers in the New Testament, ch. Romans 4:24; 1 Corinthians 10:11.— ὑπομονῆς, patience) of which Christ afforded an example, not pleasing Himself.— καὶ) a hendiadys [end.], the comfort [paraclesis] of the Scriptures leads us to patience. A summary of the ends [the main aim] of sacred Scripture.— παρακλήσεως, comfort) which holds the middle place between patience and hope; ch. Romans 5:4. There is comfort [paraclesis, consolation], when the soul re-echoes the sentiment, thou art δόκιμος [Comp. the Gr. James 1:3; James 1:12] approved. 2 Corinthians 1:6.— τῶν γραφῶν, of the Scriptures) It is in the plural, and corresponds with whatsoever. [The Scriptures testify of Christ, and teach us by His example, what we should do or what we should leave undone.—V. g.]— τὴν ἐλπίδα, the hope) The article must not be overlooked, comp. on patience and hope, ch. Romans 5:4, on hope, Romans 15:12-13. For from this mention of patience and comfort the fifth verse is deduced, and from the mentioning of hope the thirteenth verse.— ἔχωμεν, may have) The former part of this verse treats of the use of the whole Scripture, the latter principally of the use of the Saying quoted at Romans 15:3. Hence comes the twofold prayer, Romans 15:5; Romans 15:13, suitable to the approaching conclusion.


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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/romans-15.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Lest any should think, that the testimony before alleged concerneth only David or Christ, he showeth that it belongeth also unto us; that we may learn by their example to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Yea, he takes occasion from hence to inform us of the general use of the Scriptures, that whatsoever is written, in this or any other place, is written for our learning and instruction; we are concerned not only by all the precepts, but in all the promises, Hebrews 13:5, menaces, Acts 13:40,41, rewards, Romans 4:24, and punishments, 1 Corinthians 10:11, therein mentioned and declared: and though this passage is more especially to be understood of the Scriptures of the Old Testament, yet it is true also of the Scriptures of the New Testament; they, being written by the same Spirit, are profitable for the same ends: see 2 Timothy 3:16.

That we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope; he proceeds to show more particularly the use and benefit of the Holy Scripture, which is, to confirm our hope and assurance of eternal life; see 1 John 5:13. He saith,

the patience and comfort of the Scriptures, because they are both wrought in us by means thereof: see Revelation 3:10. We are armed with patience, and finished with consolations, from the examples and promises contained therein. It may be, the hope he here speaks of is to be understood not only of eternal life, but of salvalion and deliverance in this life: q.d. One principal use of the Scriptures is this, that by the examples we find there of the patience of holy men, and of God’s relieving and comforting them in their distresses, we might be confident that God will relieve and comfort us also in due time.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Romans 15:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/romans-15.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

Romans

TWO FOUNTAINS, ONE STREAM

Romans 15:4, Romans 15:14.

There is a river in Switzerland fed by two uniting streams, bearing the same name, one of them called the ‘white,’ one of them the ‘grey,’ or dark. One comes down from the glaciers, and bears half-melted snow in its white ripple; the other flows through a lovely valley, and is discoloured by its earth. They unite in one common current. So in these two verses we have two streams, a white and a black, and they both blend together and flow out into a common hope. In the former of them we have the dark stream-’through patience and comfort,’ which implies affliction and effort. The issue and outcome of all difficulty, trial, sorrow, ought to be hope. And in the other verse we have the other valley, down which the light stream comes: ‘The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope.’

So both halves of the possible human experience are meant to end in the same blessed result; and whether you go round on the one side of the sphere of human life, or whether you take the other hemisphere, you come to the same point, if you have travelled with God’s hand in yours, and with Him for your Guide.

Let us look, then, at these two contrasted origins of the same blessed gift, the Christian hope.

I. We have, first of all, the hope that is the child of the night, and born in the dark.

‘Whatsoever things,’ says the Apostle, ‘were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we, through patience,’-or rather the brave perseverance-’and consolation’-or rather perhaps encouragement-’of the Scriptures might have hope.’ The written word is conceived as the source of patient endurance which acts as well as suffers. This grace Scripture works in us through the encouragement which it ministers in manifold ways, and the result of both is hope.

So, you see, our sorrows and difficulties are not connected with, nor do they issue in, bright hopefulness, except by reason of this connecting link. There is nothing in a man’s troubles to make him hopeful. Sometimes, rather, they drive him into despair; but at all events, they seldom drive him to hopefulness, except where this link comes in. We cannot pass from the black frowning cliffs on one side of the gorge to the sunny tablelands on the other without a bridge-and the bridge for a poor soul from the blackness of sorrow, and the sharp grim rocks of despair, to the smiling pastures of hope, with all their half-open blossoms, is builded in that Book, which tells us the meaning and purpose of them all; and is full of the histories of those who have fought and overcome, have hoped and not been ashamed.

Scripture is given for this among other reasons, that it may encourage us, and so may produce in us this great grace of active patience, if we may call it so.

The first thing to notice is, how Scripture gives encouragement-for such rather than consolation is the meaning of the word. It is much to dry tears, but it is more to stir the heart as with a trumpet call. Consolation is precious, but we need more for well-being than only to be comforted. And, surely, the whole tone of Scripture in its dealing with the great mystery of pain and sorrow, has a loftier scope than even to minister assuagement to grief, and to stay our weeping. It seeks to make us strong and brave to face and to master our sorrows, and to infuse into us a high-hearted courage, which shall not merely be able to accept the biting blasts, but shall feel that they bring a glow to the cheek and oxygen to the blood, while wrestling with them builds up our strength, and trains us for higher service. It would be a poor aim to comfort only; but to encourage-to make strong in heart, resolved in will, and incapable of being overborne or crushed in spirit by any sorrows-that is a purpose worthy of the Book, and of the God who speaks through it.

This purpose, we may say, is effected by Scripture in two ways. It encourages us by its records, and by its revelation of principles.

Who can tell how many struggling souls have taken heart again, as they pondered over the sweet stories of sorrow subdued which stud its pages, like stars in its firmament? The tears shed long ago which God has put ‘in His bottle,’ and recorded in ‘His book,’ have truly been turned into pearls. That long gallery of portraits of sufferers, who have all trodden the same rough road, and been sustained by the same hand, and reached the same home, speaks cheer to all who follow them. Hearts wrung by cruel partings from those dearer to them than their own souls, turn to the pages which tell how Abraham, with calm sorrow, laid his Sarah in the cave at Macpelah; or how, when Jacob’s eyes were dim that he could not see, his memory still turned to the hour of agony when Rachael died by him, and he sees clear in its light her lonely grave, where so much of himself was laid; or to the still more sacred page which records the struggle of grief and faith in the hearts of the sisters of Bethany. All who are anyways afflicted in mind, body, or estate find in the Psalms men speaking their deepest experiences before them; and the grand majesty of sorrow that marks ‘the patience of Job,’ and the flood of sunshine that bathes him, revealing the ‘end of the Lord,’ have strengthened countless sufferers to bear and to hold fast, and to hope. We are all enough of children to be more affected by living examples than by dissertations, however true, and so Scripture is mainly history, revealing God by the record of His acts, and disclosing the secret of human life by telling us the experiences of living men.

But Scripture has another method of ministering encouragement to our often fainting and faithless hearts. It cuts down through all the complications of human affairs, and lays bare the innermost motive power. It not only shows us in its narratives the working of sorrow, and the power of faith, but it distinctly lays down the source and the purpose, the whence and the whither of all suffering. No man need quail or faint before the most torturing pains or most disastrous strokes of evil, who holds firmly the plain teaching of Scripture on these two points. They all come from my Father, and they all come for my good. It is a short and simple creed, easily apprehended. It pretends to no recondite wisdom. It is a homely philosophy which common intellects can grasp, which children can understand, and hearts half paralysed by sorrow can take in. So much the better. Grief and pain are so common that their cure had need to be easily obtained. Ignorant and stupid people have to writhe in agony as well as wise and clever ones, and until grief is the portion only of the cultivated classes, its healing must come from something more universal than philosophy; or else the nettle would be more plentiful than the dock; and many a poor heart would be stung to death. Blessed be God! the Christian view of sorrow, while it leaves much unexplained, focuses a steady light on these two points; its origin and its end. ‘He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness,’ is enough to calm all agitation, and to make the faintest heart take fresh courage. With that double certitude clear before us, we can face anything. The slings and arrows which strike are no more flung blindly by an ‘outrageous fortune,’ but each bears an inscription, like the fabled bolts, which tells what hand drew the bow, and they come with His love.

Then, further, the courage thus born of the Scriptures produces another grand thing-patience, or rather perseverance. By that word is meant more than simply the passive endurance which is the main element in patience, properly so called. Such passive endurance is a large part of our duty in regard to difficulties and sorrows, but is never the whole of it. It is something to endure and even while the heart is breaking, to submit unmurmuring, but, transcendent as that is, it is but half of the lesson which we have to learn and to put in practice. For if all our sorrows have a disciplinary and educational purpose, we shall not have received them aright, unless we have tried to make that purpose effectual, by appropriating whatsoever moral and spiritual teaching they each have for us. Nor does our duty stop there. For while one high purpose of sorrow is to deaden our hearts to earthly objects, and to lift us above earthly affections, no sorrow can ever relax the bonds which oblige us to duty. The solemn pressure of ‘I ought,’ is as heavy on the sorrowful as on the happy heart. We have still to toil, to press forward, in the sweat of our brow, to gain our bread, whether it be food for our bodies, or sustenance for our hearts and minds. Our responsibilities to others do not cease because our lives are darkened. Therefore, heavy or light of heart, we have still to stick to our work, and though we may never more be able to do it with the old buoyancy, still to do it with our might.

It is that dogged persistence in plain duty, that tenacious continuance in our course, which is here set forth as the result of the encouragement which Scripture gives. Many of us have all our strength exhausted in mere endurance, and have let obvious duties slip from our hands, as if we had done all that we could do when we had forced ourselves to submit. Submission would come easier if you took up some of those neglected duties, and you would be stronger for patience, if you used more of your strength for service. You do well if you do not sink under your burden, but you would do better if, with it on your shoulders, you would plod steadily along the road; and if you did, you would feel the weight less. It seems heaviest when you stand still doing nothing. Do not cease to toil because you suffer. You will feel your pain more if you do. Take the encouragement which Scripture gives, that it may animate you to bate no jot of heart or hope, but still bear up and steer right onward.

And let the Scripture directly minister to you perseverance as well as indirectly supply it through the encouragement which it gives. It abounds with exhortations, patterns, and motives of such patient continuance in well-doing. It teaches us a solemn scorn of ills. It, angel-like, bears us up on soft, strong hands, lest we bruise ourselves on, or stumble over, the rough places on our roads. It summons us to diligence by the visions of the prize, and glimpses of the dread fate of the slothful, by all that is blessed in hope, and terrible in foreboding, by appeals to an enlightened self-regard, and by authoritative commands to conscience, by the pattern of the Master, and by the tender motives of love to Him to which He, Himself, has given voice. All these call on us to be followers of them who, through faith and perseverance, inherit the promises.

But we have yet another step to take. These two, the encouragement and perseverance produced by the right use of Scripture, will lead to hope.

It depends on how sorrow and trial are borne, whether they produce a dreary hopelessness which sometimes darkens into despair, or a brighter, firmer hope than more joyous days knew. We cannot say that sorrow produces hope. It does not, unless we have this connecting link-the experience in sorrow of a God-given courage which falters not in the onward course, nor shrinks from any duty. But if, in the very press and agony, I am able, by God’s grace, to endure nor cease to toil, I have, in myself, a living proof of His power, which entitles me to look forward with the sure confidence that, through all the uproar of the storm, He will bring me to my harbour of rest where there is peace. The lion once slain houses a swarm of bees who lay up honey in its carcase. The trial borne with brave persistence yields a store of sweet hopes. If we can look back and say, ‘Thou hast been with me in six troubles,’ it is good logic to look forward and say, ‘and in seven Thou wilt not forsake me.’ When the first wave breaks over the ship, as she clears the heads and heels over before the full power of the open sea, inexperienced landsmen think they are all going to the bottom, but they soon learn that there is a long way between rolling and foundering, and get to watch the highest waves towering above the bows in full confidence that these also will slip quietly beneath the keel as the others have done, and be left harmless astern.

The Apostle, in this very same letter, has another word parallel to this, in which he describes the issues of rightly-borne suffering when he says, ‘Tribulation worketh perseverance’-the same word that is used here-’and perseverance worketh’ the proof in our experience of a sustaining God; and the proof in our experience of a sustaining God works hope. We know that of ourselves we could not have met tribulation, and therefore the fact that we have been able to meet and overcome it is demonstration of a mightier power than our own, working in us, which we know to be from God, and therefore inexhaustible and ever ready to help. That is foundation firm enough to build solid fabrics of hope upon, whose bases go down to the centre of all things, the purpose of God, and whose summits, like the upward shooting spire of some cathedral, aspire to, and seem almost to touch, the heavens.

So hope is born of sorrow, when these other things come between. The darkness gives birth to the light, and every grief blazes up a witness to a future glory. Each drop that hangs on the wet leaves twinkles into rainbow light that proclaims the sun. The garish splendours of the prosperous day hide the stars, and through the night of our sorrow there shine, thickly sown and steadfast, the constellations of eternal hopes. The darker the midnight, the surer, and perhaps the nearer, the coming of the day. Sorrow has not had its perfect work unless it has led us by the way of courage and perseverance to a stable hope. Hope has not pierced to the rock, and builds only ‘things that can be shaken,’ unless it rests on sorrows borne by God’s help.

II. So much then for the genealogy of one form of the Christian hope.

But we have also a hope that is born of the day, the child of sunshine and gladness; and that is set before us in the second of the two verses which we are considering, ‘The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope.’

So then, ‘the darkness and the light are both alike’ to our hope, in so far as each may become the occasion for its exercise. It is not only to be the sweet juice expressed from our hearts by the winepress of calamities, but that which flows of itself from hearts ripened and mellowed under the sunshine of God-given blessedness.

We have seen that the bridge by which sorrow led to hope, is perseverance and courage; in this second analysis of the origin of hope, joy and peace are the bridge by which Faith passes over into it. Observe the difference: there is no direct connection between affliction and hope, but there is between joy and hope. We have no right to say, ‘Because I suffer, I shall possess good in the future’; but we have a right to say, ‘Because I rejoice’-of course with a joy in God-’I shall never cease to rejoice in Him.’ Such joy is the prophet of its own immortality and completion. And, on the other hand, the joy and peace which are naturally the direct progenitors of Christian hope, are the children of faith. So that we have here two generations, as it were, of hope’s ancestors;-Faith produces joy and peace, and these again produce hope.

Faith leads to joy and peace. Paul has found, and if we only put it to the proof, we shall also find, that the simple exercise of simple faith fills the soul with ‘all joy and peace.’ Gladness in all its variety and in full measure, calm repose in every kind and abundant in its still depth, will pour into my heart as water does into a vessel, on condition of my taking away the barrier and opening my heart through faith. Trust and thou shalt be glad. Trust, and thou shalt be calm. In the measure of thy trust shall be the measure of thy joy and peace.

Notice, further, how indissolubly connected the present exercise of faith is with the present experience of joy and peace. The exuberant language of this text seems a world too wide for anything that many professing Christians ever know even in the moments of highest elevation, and certainly far beyond the ordinary tenor of their lives. But it is no wonder that these should have so little joy, when they have so little faith. It is only while we are looking to Jesus that we can expect to have joy and peace. There is no flashing light on the surface of the mirror, but when it is turned full to the sun. Any interruption in the electric current is registered accurately by an interruption in the continuous line perforated on the telegraph ribbon; and so every diversion of heart and faith from Jesus Christ is recorded by the fading of the sunshine out of the heart, and the silencing of all the song-birds. Yesterday’s faith will not bring joy to-day; you cannot live upon past experience, nor feed your souls with the memory of former exercises of Christian faith. It must be like the manna, gathered fresh every day, else it will rot and smell foul. A present faith, and a present faith only, produces a present joy and peace. Is there, then, any wonder that so much of the ordinary experience of ordinary Christians should present a sadly broken line-a bright point here and there, separated by long stretches of darkness? The gaps in the continuity of their joy are the tell-tale indicators of the interruptions in their faith. If the latter were continuous, the former would be unbroken. Always believe, and you will always be glad and calm.

It is easy to see that this is the natural result of faith. The very act of confident reliance on another for all my safety and well-being has a charm to make me restful, so long as my reliance is not put to shame. There is no more blessed emotion than the tranquil happiness which, in the measure of its trust, fills every trustful soul. Even when its objects are poor, fallible, weak, ignorant dying men and women, trust brings a breath of more than earthly peace into the heart. But when it grasps the omnipotent, all-wise, immortal Christ, there are no bounds but its own capacity to the blessedness which it brings into the soul, because there is none to the all-sufficient grace of which it lays hold.

Observe again how accurately the Apostle defines for us the conditions on which Christian experience will be joyful and tranquil. It is ‘in believing,’ not in certain other exercises of mind, that these blessings are to be realised. And the forgetfulness of that plain fact leads to many good people’s religion being very much more gloomy and disturbed than God meant it to be. For a large part of it consists in sadly testing their spiritual state, and gazing at their failures and imperfections. There is nothing cheerful or tranquillising in grubbing among the evils of your own heart, and it is quite possible to do that too much and too exclusively. If your favourite subject of contemplation in your religious thinking is yourself, no wonder that you do not get much joy and peace out of that. If you do, it will be of a false kind. If you are thinking more about your own imperfections than about Christ’s pardon, more about the defects of your own love to Him than about the perfection of His love to you, if instead of practising faith you are absorbed in self-examination, and instead of saying to yourself, ‘I know how foul and unworthy I am, but I look away from myself to my Saviour,’ you are bewailing your sins and doubting whether you are a Christian, you need not expect God’s angels of joy and peace to nestle in your heart. It is ‘in believing,’ and not in other forms of religious contemplation, however needful these may in their places be, that these fair twin sisters come to us and make their abode with us.

Then, the second step in this tracing of the origin of the hope which has the brighter source is the consideration that the joy and peace which spring from faith, in their turn produce that confident anticipation of future and progressive good.

Herein lies the distinguishing blessedness of the Christian joy and peace, in that they carry in themselves the pledge of their own eternity. Here, and here only, the mad boast which is doomed to be so miserably falsified when applied to earthly gladness is simple truth. Here ‘to-morrow shall be as this day and much more abundant.’ Such joy has nothing in itself which betokens exhaustion, as all the less pure joys of earth have. It is manifestly not born for death, as are they. It is not fated, like all earthly emotions or passions, to expire in the moment of its completeness, or even by sudden revulsion to be succeeded by its opposite. Its sweetness has no after pang of bitterness. It is not true of this gladness, that ‘Hereof cometh in the end despondency and madness,’ but its destiny is to ‘remain’ as long as the soul in which it unfolds shall exist, and ‘to be full’ as long as the source from which it flows does not run dry.

So that the more we experience the present blessedness, which faith in Christ brings us, the more shall we be sure that nothing in the future, either in or beyond time, can put an end to it; and hence a hope that looks with confident eyes across the gorge of death, to the ‘shining tablelands’ on the other side, and is as calm as certitude, shall be ours. To the Christian soul, rejoicing in the conscious exercise of faith and the conscious possession of its blessed results, the termination of a communion with Christ, so real and spiritual, by such a trivial accident as death, seems wildly absurd and therefore utterly impossible. Just as Christ’s Resurrection seems inevitable as soon as we grasp the truth of His divine nature, and it becomes manifestly impossible that He, being such as He is-should be holden of death,’ being such as it is, so for His children, when once they come to know the realities of fellowship with their Lord, they feel the entire dissimilarity of these to anything in the realm which is subjected to the power of death, and to know it to be as impossible that these purely spiritual experiences should be reduced to inactivity, or meddled with by it, as that a thought should be bound with a cord or a feeling fastened with fetters. They, and death, belong to two different regions. It can work its will on ‘this wide world, and all its fading sweets’-but is powerless in the still place where the soul and Jesus hold converse, and all His joy passes into His servant’s heart. I saw, not long since, in a wood a mass of blue wild hyacinths, that looked like a little bit of heaven dropped down upon earth. You and I may have such a tiny bit of heaven itself lying amidst all the tangle of our daily lives, if only we put our trust in Christ, and so get into our hearts some little portion of that joy that is unspeakable, and that peace that passeth understanding.

Thus, then, the sorrows of the earthly experience and the joys of the Christian life will blend together to produce the one blessed result of a hope that is full of certainty, and is the assurance of immortality. There is no rainbow in the sky unless there be both a black cloud and bright sunshine. So, on the blackest, thickest thunder-mass of our sorrows, if smitten into moist light by the sunshine of joy and peace drawn from Jesus Christ by faith, there may be painted the rainbow of hope, the many-coloured, steadfast token of the faithful covenant of the faithful God.


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Bibliography
MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/romans-15.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Written aforetime; in the Scriptures.

For our learning; to instruct us in our duty.

Patience and comfort of the Scriptures; received through the Holy Ghost from the Scriptures. The apostle uses the word patience here in the sense of the steadfast endurance of trials. See note to Romans 5:3.

Might have hope; hope of future glory, which shall sustain us in trials, quicken us in duty, and thus purify and fit us for heaven. The Scriptures were all written under the guidance and according to the direction of the Holy Ghost, to afford instruction and increase the excellence, usefulness, and enjoyment of men in all countries and ages. They should therefore be put into the hands of all as soon as possible.


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Bibliography
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "Family Bible New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/romans-15.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

4. ὅσα γὰρ κ.τ.λ. γὰρ in a manner apologises for a not very obvious quotation, and S. Paul takes the opportunity of insisting on the value of O.T. for Christians.

προεγράφη. Cf. Romans 1:2; Ephesians 1:12 τοὺς προηλπικότας; Galatians 3:8.

εἰς τὴν κ.τ.λ. ‘With a view to’—this was their purpose; cf. 2 Timothy 3:16.

ἡμετέραν. ‘Of us Christians.’ διδασκαλίαν, teaching, instruction. So perhaps always in N.T. (not = doctrine).

διὰ τῆς ὑ. κ. διὰ τ. π. τ. γρ. ‘By the endurance and by the encouragement of the scriptures.’ The repetition of διὰ seems to separate the two phrases and limit τῶν γρ. to the second (not so, Gif., Lid.): then = by means of the steadfast endurance proper to the Christian and with the help of the encouragement afforded by the scriptures. If, on the other hand, we connect both subst. with τῶν γραφῶν it is difficult to find a clear meaning for the first: Lid. “the patience of which the O.T. gives such bright examples”; Gif. “the patience is that which the scriptures give”; both seem strained. The two subst. have a special reference here to the ‘burdens to be borne.’

τὴν ἐλπίδα. The Christian attitude of hope. ἔχωμεν = maintain—the proper durative sense; cf. Romans 5:1. Moulton, p. 110. This statement of the use of the O.T. scriptures must be compared with 2 Timothy 3:16 : they imply [1] that the O.T. has a permanent value for the Christian, [2] that that value is two-fold, (a) for instruction, discipline and encouragement of the Christian, (b) as witnessing to Christ in whom is the Christian hope. The statements do not go beyond this, S. H.; cf. Lid.


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Bibliography
"Commentary on Romans 15:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/romans-15.html. 1896.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

4. For—Reason for adducing this example.

Written for our learning— The psalm is written for the very purpose of placing the highest example of self-sacrifice before our eyes.

Patience and comfort—Rather, patience and consolation. The graces needed by those who may endure the infirmities of others.

Of the Scriptures—Of these two graces the Scriptures are a fountain head, full of impressive examples and persuasive precepts and lessons.

Might have hope—Though these examples and lessons exact our sacrifice of self, it is not in a tone of severity and condemnation, but with a touching accent of consolation and the cheering inspiration of hope. Our endurance shall not be in vain; for the lesson of our great Exemplar, who pleased not himself, bids us to cherish a cheerful eye to the blessed recompense of reward.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/romans-15.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘For whatever things were written in former times were written for our learning, that through patient endurance and comfort of the scriptures we might have hope.’

And we should take heed to this because what was written in former time was written in order to teach us how to respond to situations, enabling us to endure patiently and obtain encouragement through the Scriptures as they provide us with confident hope for the future. The hope in mind may refer just to general confidence gained, or may have in mind our blessed hope, the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).


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Bibliography
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/romans-15.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Paul used his reference to David"s experience as an occasion to comment on the usefulness of all Old Testament Scripture. [Note: See George W. Knight, III, "The Scriptures Were Written for Our Instruction," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society39:1 (March1996):3-13.] It provides motivation for enduring and gives encouragement as we seek to remain faithful in our commitment to do God"s will. These Scriptures give us hope because in them we see God"s approval of those who persevered faithfully in spite of opposition and frustration (cf. Hebrews 11).


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/romans-15.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Romans 15:4. For. This introduces a justification of the previous citation, and a preparation for the subject which follows, the duty of being ‘of the same mind one toward another’ (Romans 15:6).

Whatsoever things were written aforetime. Evidently including the whole Old Testament.

Were written for our learning; to instruct us also; the immediate design does not preclude this further and permanent one, a principle which underlies many other citations made by the Apostle.

That we through the patience and through the comfort of the Scriptures. This is the literal rendering of the better established reading. ‘Of the Scriptures’ qualifies both words: ‘the patience and comfort produced by a study of the Scriptures; the repeated ‘through’ does not disconnect them, but gives rhetorical emphasis. ‘Patience’ is especially needed to hold out in not pleasing ourselves (Romans 15:1), and ‘comfort’ or ‘consolation,’ that we may find joy therein.

Might have our hope, lit., ‘the hope,’ the specific hope of the Christian, possessing more and more of it by means of the patience, etc. Those who neglect the Old Testament Scriptures may well remember that this expresses the Christian experience of an inspired Apostle.


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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/romans-15.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Romans 15:4. Here Paul justifies his use of the O.T. ὅσα γὰρ προεγράφη = the whole O.T. εἰς τὴν ἡμετέραν διδασκαλίαν ἐγράφη: was written to teach us, and therefore has abiding value. 2 Timothy 3:16. ἵνα introduces God’s purpose, which is wider than the immediate purpose of the Apostle. Paul meant to speak only of bearing the infirmities of the weak, but with the quotation of Psalms 69:9 there came in the idea of the Christian’s sufferings generally, and it is amid them that God’s purpose is to be fulfilled. διὰ τῆς ὑπομ. κ. τῆς παρακλ. τῶν γραφῶν κ. τ. λ.: “that through the patience and the comfort wrought by the Scriptures we may have our hope”. τὴν ἐλπίδα is the Christian hope, the hope of the glory of God; and the Christian has it as he is able, through the help of God’s Word in the Scriptures, to maintain a brave and cheerful spirit amid all the sufferings and reproaches of life. Cf. Romans 5:2-5. This is, if not a digression, at least an expansion of his original idea, and at


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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/romans-15.html. 1897-1910.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Romans 15:4. For whatsoever things were written aforetime — In the Old Testament; were written for our learning — As if he had said, Though this may seem to concern David or Christ only, yet it, and all other parts of Scripture, whether containing promises or threatenings, whether speaking of rewards or punishments, were intended to be useful to God’s people in after ages; and by this passage in particular, we may learn to bear with the infirmities of others, a matter of great importance in religion; nay, of absolute necessity, considering that we ourselves, and all around us, not excepting the wisest and holiest Christians, are compassed about with infirmity; that through patience and comfort of the Scriptures — By learning and exercising such patience as the Scriptures prescribe, especially in bearing with the infirmities of others, and by obtaining those comforts the Scriptures hold forth to us; we might have hope — Might be confirmed in our expectation of eternal life, or that through the consolation which God gives us by the Scriptures, we might have patience and a joyful hope.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/romans-15.html. 1857.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

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).


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

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

learning = teaching, as Romans 12:7.

that = in order that. Greek. hina.

patience = patient endurance. See Romans 2:7.

comfort = the comfort. See Acts 4:36.

Scriptures = the Scriptures. See Romans 1:2.

might = may.

hope = the hope. Compare Romans 12:12. This verse Romans 15:4 is an example of Parechesis (App-6), the two words of patience and hope in Hebrew (not in Greek.) having a similar sound.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/romans-15.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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

For whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning ('instruction'); that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures ('through the comfort and the patience, of the Scriptures'), might have hope: - q.d., 'Think not that because such portions of Scripture relate immediately to Christ, they are inapplicable to you; for though Christ's sufferings, as a Saviour, were exclusively His own, the motives that prompted them, the spirit in which they were endured, and the general principle involved in His whole work-self-sacrifice for the good of others-furnish our most perfect and beautiful model; and so all Scripture relating to these is for our instruction. And since the duty of forbearance, the strong with the weak, requires "patience," and this again needs "comfort," all those Scriptures which, tell of patience and consolation, particularly of the patience of Christ, and of the consolation which sustained Him under it, are our appointed and appropriate nutriment, ministering to us "hope" of that blessed day when these shall no more be needed.' (See the notes at Romans 4:1-25, Remark 7, at the close.) For the same connection between "patience" and "hope," see the note at Romans 12:12, and at 1 Thessalonians 1:3.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/romans-15.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(4) For. . . .—These words of the Old Testament may rightly be taken as having a bearing upon us, “For,” &c.

Through patience and comfort of the scriptures—i.e., “by the patience and comfort which the Scriptures afford.” The promises and consolations of Scripture support the Christian under his trials, and enable him to endure them not only patiently but cheerfully.

Might have hope.—Literally, the hope—i.e., the Messianic hope. The promises of Scripture centre in the hope of the future Messianic glory, and the fortitude with which the Christian endures his trials is to be sustained by that hope, and itself reacts upon the hope and makes it held with firmer tenacity.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/romans-15.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
whatsoever
4:23,24; 1 Corinthians 9:9,10; 10:11; 2 Timothy 3:16,17; 2 Peter 1:20,21
for our learning
Rather, "for our instruction."
that
5:3-5; 8:24,25; 12:12; Psalms 119:81-83; Hebrews 6:10-19; 10:35,36; James 5:7-11; 1 Peter 1:13

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/romans-15.html.

Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. The object of this verse is not so much to show the propriety of applying the passage quoted from the Psalm to Christ, as to show that the facts recorded in the Scriptures are designed for our instruction. The character of Christ is there portrayed that we may follow his example and imbibe his spirit. The προ in προεγράφη has its proper temporal sense; before us, before our time. The reference is to the whole of the Old Testament Scriptures, and assumes, as the New Testament writers always assume or assert, that the Scriptures are the word of God, holy men of old writing as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. God had an immediate design in the Scriptures being just what they are; and that design was the sanctification and salvation of men. The words, through patience and consolation of the Scriptures, may be taken together, and mean, ‘through that patience and consolation which the Scriptures produce;' or the words through patience may be disconnected from the word Scriptures, and the sense be, ‘that we through patience, and through the consolation of the Scriptures,' etc. The former method is the most commonly adopted, and is the most natural.‹77› Might have hope. This may mean, that the design of the divine instructions is to prevent all despondency, to sustain us under our present trials; or the sense is, that they are intended to secure the attainment of the great object of our hopes, the blessedness of heaven. Either interpretation of the word hope is consistent with usage, and gives a good sense. The former is more natural.


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

Bibliography
Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hdg/romans-15.html.

The Bible Study New Testament

Everything written in the Scriptures. The things in the Old Testament were written to teach us. In order that. In the Bible, hope is something you expect to happen! The patience and encouragement the Scriptures give us teach us to hope, even when we suffer for Christ. Compare Romans 5:2-5; James 1:2-4; 2 Timothy 3:15-17.


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Bibliography
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "The Bible Study New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/romans-15.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

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

Since the Old Testament law has been taken away ( Romans 7:1-4), many have wondered how Christianity is related to the Old Testament Scriptures. A partial answer to this question is found in "written aforetime" (prographo). This term describes "‘things previously written' for our present instruction" (CBL, GED, 5:295). Paul said the entire Old Testament is "for our learning" (didaskalia, our teaching or instruction). We do not live by the Old Testament because this system was given to the Hebrews ( Nehemiah 9:13-16), and it was given for a limited period of time ( Jeremiah 31:31). The time for observing the Old Testament law is now past ( Romans 7:4; Hebrews 8:13) and we are to live under the "New Testament." Though we live under a new covenant, and our rules for life and worship come from this New Testament, we may still learn (receive instruction from) the Old Testament. The rules, duties, and even the examples in the Old Testament contain many practical lessons for us (compare Luke 17:32).

The Old Testament examples that can help us are numerous. Stories such as Noah and the ark are filled with meaning. The story of Noah reveals the importance of obedience and the consequences of sin. This story shows God's grace and man's need for heaven's help. We also learn from this account that God has a plan for man and heaven's plan will save those who are obedient. Noah had faith, but this faith required obedience. There are many lessons in the Old Testament, though this part of the Bible does not contain the laws for Christian living and New Testament worship.

If the Old Testament were still in force we would be obligated to build an ark, have a priesthood, observe the Ten Commandments, have animal sacrifices, worship in Jerusalem, etc. Jesus' death cancelled every one of the Old Testament laws ( Colossians 2:14). The system described in the Old Testament has been removed, but we can still learn from the experiences that the people had under this law. This is the meaning of Romans 15:4.

The way Paul applied the Old Testament in the lives of the Romans is found in the words "patience," "comfort," and "hope." Paul realized the Christians in Rome needed all three of these things. Instead of providing laws to live by, the Old Testament provides us with examples of patience, comfort, and hope. Each of these things is found in the lives of Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and other Old Testament characters.

To fully demonstrate this usage of the Old Testament, we may use the life of Abraham. God made a land promise to Abraham ( Genesis 15:18). After this promise was made, forty years passed and Sarah "died in the land of Canaan" ( Genesis 23:2). Sarah died in a land that was promised to Abraham ( Genesis 15:18). Sarah died in a land God said Abraham would own. At the time of Sarah's death, however, Abraham did not own this land ( Genesis 23:4). Though God had promised him this territory, it was owned by others and Abraham had to buy a burial plot about twenty miles south of Jerusalem for his wife.

Today many would be disappointed or upset at having to buy part of the land promised to them. This was not true of Abraham. This patriarch willingly paid for the burial place. He patiently believed that God would fulfill His word. This is why the Hebrew writer said he "died in faith" ( Hebrews 11:8; Hebrews 11:13) and "did not receive" the promise. God's promise was fulfilled after Abraham died. Abraham went to his grave with patience. Reading the Old Testament and learning about men like Abraham helps us develop and keep patience. The stories in this part of the Bible also help us learn about God and His dealings with man. For additional information on the word patience (hupomone), see the commentary on Romans 5:3-4.

An illustration of how comfort (paraklesis) works comes from the Psalm (especially Psalm 23:1-6). Another example of comfort is found in the book of Job. David and Joseph are also excellent illustrations of how people can face tragic circumstances but still prevail. These Old Testament stories now help everyone who is a Christian. The word comfort (which is also found in Romans 15:5) shows that the Old Testament was partly written and preserved to make Christians feel better. If the Old Testament served no other purpose besides this, it would be a valuable resource for all Christians. Because the Bible is a book of comfort, it is in a different category than all other religious books. Other spiritual books such as the Book of Mormon and the Koran were not written to comfort people.

Another benefit from studying the Old Testament is described by the word hope (elpis). Though many of the hopes described by the Old Testament prophets have been fulfilled, there is still a lot of hope to be found in the Old Testament. Seeing how hopes were fulfilled in the lives of ancient men and women strengthens and encourages our faith and hopes (have hope is present tense in the Greek text). Seeing how people rose from terrible circumstances in the Old Testament provides us with a reason to hope that our status in life will be bettered. Knowing that some lived difficult lives but entered into a wonderful place after their tribulations gives us wonderful hope day after day.

The material in the Old Testament may be used to teach both positive and negative lessons. We can learn from good men like Noah and evil people like Jezebel. New Testament texts that show that the first Christians did not spurn the Old Testament include 1 Corinthians 10:6; 1 Corinthians 10:10-11 and 2 Timothy 3:15.

Paul believed the Old Testament to be inspired. When writing the New Testament epistles Paul often selected an Old Testament quotation (see verse3) and used it. He did not apologize for these quotations or attempt to justify them. He treated the quotations as having come from God, and this should be our view of the Old Testament. The material in Genesis -Malachi is inspired information that can help us in many ways, though the laws in the Old Testament are no longer a set of rules by which to live. Since we can find patience, comfort and hope in the Old Testament, what about finding these items in the New?!


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

Bibliography
Price, Brad "Commentary on Romans 15:4". "Living By Faith: Commentary on Romans". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bpc/romans-15.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, July 16th, 2020
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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