Romans 15


Romans 15

1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.

We are one body in Christ. We are told to love our neighbors as ourselves. In order to act in that way, the strong need to take up where the weak fall down. Those who are weak in one area, may be stronger in another area and will take up for those weaker there. In that way, the entire body of Christ keeps in balance. The strong taking up for the weak and it is a continual process. I get the image of waves on the oceans. It keeps going and changing, ebbing and flowing. When people focus on others and not on themselves, great things can happen.

2 Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.

Edification – Oikodome: the act of one who promotes another’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness, holiness.

Whenever I read the word edification or edify, for some reason I always have to go back and look it up to remind myself what it means. I don’t know why I have such a problem remembering this word but maybe it’s because we just don’t see it very often.

Online we read the comments and see believers tearing other believers down rather than edifying them. It has become such a foreign concept that I think Satan is right there waiting to snatch the meaning out of our heads.

We have the entire psychology/psychiatric field touting that being a people pleaser is wrong, like it’s some form of mental disorder. And of course, the whole concept of dependency and co-dependency is also wrong and “unhealthy”. It’s all about looking out for #1 and standing on your own, not “needing” anyone or anything, making your way in this world “alone”.

And yet when I read Christ’s teachings, the whole of it is to be a people pleaser; it is saying to be dependent and co-dependent on each other. We are told to put others first and look out for their interests too. We are taught the importance of fellowship, of listening to the elders, of obeying the will of the church rather than going off on our own. We are taught how many people can shed wisdom on our lives better than we can do ourselves. We are taught to care for widows and orphans and any others in need. Maybe I am reading God’s Word all wrong but to me, the Bible is not teaching against being dependent and co-dependent on the brethren. (Now, I’m not talking about taking advantage of the brethren, that’s a whole separate issue.) We are told to care for each other and provide for each others needs. If cannot depend on the brethren for support (emotional, psychological, financial, spiritual), wo can we depend on?

3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU FELL ON ME.”

Here Jesus is saying to us that whenever we are insulted or suffer reproach for our belief in Him, while we might suffer for it here, every single insult and reproach falls on Him too. We do not suffer alone but He shares the burdens. In fact, He states here that all of those reproaches ultimately “fell on Me” so ultimately the entire burden is His.

That is love. That is the example for us again. It’s not about what happens to you, or me, or them, or him over there, or her … if it happens to one, it happened to all and if it happened to all, it ultimately falls on Jesus.

We are not to please ourselves and forget everyone else. We cannot bury our heads in the sand when bad things happen or others suffer. As Christ didn’t please Himself and leave us to fend for ourselves, so we shouldn’t pretend that because it didn’t happen to us, it doesn’t affect us. It does. Love your neighbor as yourself – if it happened to them, it happened to you.

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.

Christ is our hope. Our hope for eternal life. I believe Paul is referencing the prophets and the promises here that speak of the Messiah. He is saying that “whatever was written in earlier times” – meaning we shouldn’t disregard the OT or the Prophets just because they were prior to Christ. They are for us too.

5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now this is a prayer worth repeating daily for all believers. Can you imagine what those comment sections that are currently so filled with bickering and hate would be like if we were all of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus? Can you imagine if all believers were to sing the praise of God the Father and of our Lord Jesus Christ with one voice, one mind? Well, that might just break a few eardrums! Not to mention thinking on this sends chills running up and down the spine because that would be like…heaven?

7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.

This is a big one. If a person is accepted and loved by Christ, what arrogance another believer would have to have to reject them! Now not everyone will get along with everyone else. After all, the body of Christ is like a huge family. And let’s face it, not everyone in a family gets along either. But as with any family, once you are a part of the family, you are part of it and no one would question your right to be there. They may not want to hang around you but they accept that you are there too.

8 For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers,

Ok, so this verse is a bit confusing in its wording for me. So I looked at a commentary for it. http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/romans-15-8.html You can read the commentary here if you want to.

Anyway, Christ came to earth as a servant to the people. He was God in the flesh but He came as a servant. “To the circumcision” is referencing, not the act of circumcision, but the spiritual nature of it. Therefore it means Christ came ultimately as a servant to all believers (Jews and Gentiles). However, when He first came, there were no believers so this is actually referencing Jewish non-believers because Christ didn’t allow for Gentiles to believe until after His resurrection when the Jews still rejected Him.

“to confirm the promises given to the fathers” is referencing all the promises given to Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Isaac…all down through the line… all promises are fulfilled in Christ.

9 and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written, “THEREFORE I WILL GIVE PRAISE TO YOU AMONG THE GENTILES, AND I WILL SING TO YOUR NAME.”

And glorify Him we absolutely do! His mercy is new each morning and praise God for His Son, our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus!

10 Again he says, “REJOICE, O GENTILES, WITH HIS PEOPLE.” 11 And again, “PRAISE THE LORD ALL YOU GENTILES, AND LET ALL THE PEOPLES PRAISE HIM.” 12 Again Isaiah says, “THERE SHALL COME THE ROOT OF JESSE, AND HE WHO ARISES TO RULE OVER THE GENTILES, IN HIM SHALL THE GENTILES HOPE.”

This short little verse is actually hugely important. It would be easy to overlook this one verse when reading but we shouldn’t overlook it. What does he say? Rejoice, O Gentiles, WITH HIS PEOPLE. We are accepted with His people, otherwise why would we rejoice? We are to love His People and rejoice WITH them and we all, together, are to Praise Him. And Whom do we praise? And all the people shout…”Christ Jesus!”

13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I love these blessings from Paul. We should all sign our emails with a blessing just like this one!

14 And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another. 15 But I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God, 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Here Paul is “edifying” the brethren. He starts out complimenting them and then explains why he wrote about some of these things.

17 Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God. 18 For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, 19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

Here Paul is saying that if it sounds like he is boasting or full of himself, read again. He is boasting only in those things pertaining to God. He speaks only about what Christ has accomplished through him…so the boasting is really boasting of Christ. He does this in the hopes that the Gentiles will come into obedience.

20 And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation; 21 but as it is written, “THEY WHO HAD NO NEWS OF HIM SHALL SEE, AND THEY WHO HAVE NOT HEARD SHALL UNDERSTAND.” 22 For this reason I have often been prevented from coming to you;

Here Paul is explaining why he hasn’t had a chance to make his way to the readers of this letter. He wants to preach to those who have not heard the Gospel.

I’m sure Paul would be very confused by our current “minister” set up here in the US and in many other developed countries. Here we build churches so that people who are interested can go to a church. Back in Paul’s day, the ministers (like Paul) traveled out among the people from town to town to take the Gospel to the people.

Of course this was before there were many churches. But I still believe Paul would have his mouth hanging open upon seeing congregation after congregation on every street corner who never stand outside and preach the Gospel to the people walking by on the sidewalks. This definitely isn’t the “same” vision the Apostles had for the church.

I do think they would be happy with the support and funding of missionaries around the world, though not all churches partake in this.

23 but now, with no further place for me in these regions, and since I have had for many years a longing to come to you 24 whenever I go to Spain -for I hope to see you in passing, and to be helped on my way there by you, when I have first enjoyed your company for a while – 25 but now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. 27 Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things. 28 Therefore, when I have finished this, and have put my seal on this fruit of theirs, I will go on by way of you to Spain. 29 I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.

These verses clearly show the faith Paul had in the support of the various believers to take care of his needs. Verse 24 shows Paul mentioning being helped by them. He states he is going to Jerusalem to serve the saints first. He relates how others are contributing to the poor and how pleased they are to do it. Verse 27 relates an indebtedness of those who share in the spiritual things and that that translates over to material things if needed as well.

This is a really important concept. When we receive anything, whether it be spiritual or material, there is an invisible “debt” upon us. We know we are “indebted” to Christ for He purchased us through the shedding of His blood. But we are also “indebted” to those who edify us, to those who teach us, to those who build us up and someday, we will have opportunities to pay back some of that debt with joy. Whether it be by helping others who are in need, either spiritually or materially. I don’t believe God cares in which way we “Pay it forward”, as long as we do joyfully.

Many verses speak with the terms “credited” and “account” and “debt”. These are factual statements denoting columns and accounts, registers etc. People condemn the Jews because they are great with finances and such but when you start adding up the verses in the Bible that speak to accounts, well it’s not wonder. Their very existence (and ours) are made upon these concepts and understanding the checks and balances is part of it.

This can lead to legalism, yes, if taken to the extreme but I don’t believe (based on Christ’s examples) that the “personal accounting” is exact. For instance, in Matthew 25:35-40 Jesus addresses this at the Judgment:

35 ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

30 Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, 31 that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints; 32 so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God and find refreshing rest in your company. 33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

The power of prayer is a wonderful thing and Paul knows this.

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