Romans 15 – The Unity of Strong and Weak Christians – Spirituality Means – Prayer is to be – Providence
1We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
2Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
3For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, £“The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”
4For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
5May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,
6that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God has always been deeply concerned about the unity of His people. Through ‘salvation’ He has effected a real spiritual oneness. God’s Purpose expressed in Jeremiah 32:38 – 38And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
There to be “no divisions” among the flock of Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:10(ESV)
10I appeal to you, brothers,£ by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
THUS – no distinction between Greek and Jew but all to have “a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other”
11Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,£ free; but Christ is all, and in all.
12Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
V.1 –To accomplish we are to bear the weaknesses of one another – especially the strong. We are to do nothing of our own selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind…” – lovingly refrain from exercising their liberty in ways that might needlessly offend the consciences of less mature brothers..
We are to please our neighbor….
V.3 – An attitude: Not to please self, but look to Christ as our example. Christ selfishly resolved to lay down his glory for a time in order to save mankind.
V.4 – We are to have a willing and unreserved submission to God’s Word. Lifesaving faith, perseverance is both commanded of us and given to us by God. Col. 1:22-23says:
22he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,
23if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation£ under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
V.5 – Whatever God demands of us HE gives us by His sovereign grace!
V6 – The purpose of Christian unity is not to please other believers but is essential to please the Lord. We are to peruse peace from within and outwardly of ourselves.
7Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
8For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs,
9and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, £“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”
10And again it is said, £“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”
11And again, £“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.”
12And again Isaiah says, £“The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”
13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
We are to accept one another as Christ accepted us.
There are four characteristics of Christ’s accepting sinners:
1. He accepts them joyously. “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden…(John 7:37)
2. He accepts sinners for salvation in spite of their sin. God demonstrates His love to us while sinners.
3. He accepts sinners impartially and unequivocal. John 6:37 John 6:37(ESV)
37All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
4. He accepts sinners to the glory of God. “Christ also accepted us to the glory of God”…
Quote John MacArthur
“The saved Jew primarily praises God for His truth, which He verified in Christ. The saved Gentile primarily praises God for His mercy, which He provided in Christ.”
V.13- The benedictory intercession…
14I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers,£ that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.
15But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God
16to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
17In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God.
18For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed,
19by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ;
20and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation,
21but as it is written, £“Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”
V.14-15- They were commended for their:
1. “goodness, their high moral character and living”…
2. For being “filled with knowledge” – a deep knowledge with virtue and truth. To have a pure heart and a good conscience with sincere faith.
3. That they were Christians who are full of goodness and filled with all knowledge are able also to admonish one another. (We are to admonish one another – not just an assigned counselor.)
V. 16 – Under the new covenant, Jesus Christ is our perfect and eternal High Priest. (Heb. 2:17; 3:1)
v.17-21 – Paul was assigned by Christ to be a preacher to nations without a church there to tell them of Him. Paul did not boast of himself – instead he would boast in the cross of Christ, the grace and mercy that God to save unworthy sinners as himself. He showed the Power of ‘transformation’ in himself the worst of sinners.
Features of a faithful preacher in Paul:
1. He took no credit for himself. He says: “I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me.
2. He emphasized obedience to the Lord. Paul’s preaching resulted in the obedience of the Gentiles. The Gospel not only calls men to faith in Christ as Savior but to obedience to Him as Lord.
3. He had personal integrity as he preached by word and deed. Paul preached without hypocrisy or self-righteousness.
4. He was given the mark of a faithful preacher by divine affirmation of his ministry. The power of the spirit was evident in him. V. 19 – By signs and wonders and miracles (2 Cor. 12:12… “…The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by sings and wonders and miracles.”
5. He was thorough in his work. He completes what God has called him to do as he states where ever he went he preached the gospel of Christ.
V.20-21- 20and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation,
21but as it is written, £“Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”
22This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you.
23But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you,
24I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while.
25At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints.
26For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem.
27They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings.
28When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected,£ I will leave for Spain by way of you.
29I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing£ of Christ.
30I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf,
31that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints,
32so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.
33May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
Paul’s service carefully focused exactly on God’s will worked out with precision. He sought to follow what Christ said: “I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 5:30)
Quote by John MacArthur Commentary:
“The depth of ministry is always more important than breadth, thoroughness more significant than scope. God always demands depth of commitment, whether the field or service be large or small, constant or changing, public or private, and, in the world’s eyes, noble or ignoble.”
V. 22 – Providence
Paul shows that ‘providence’ controlled what he did, not what he desired to be done at the time frame he ascribed things. “I have been hindered from coming to you”…
(Enkopto) Hindered – means to cut into or cut out and was sometime used to dig across a road to impede an enemy army. Metaphorically the word can be used to mean any hindrance or impediment.
Joseph and Esther would be good examples of God’s indirect control to accomplish His will. For Joseph so he would be in a place to save the ‘nation of Israel’. For Esther it was for her to be in a place that she would have a part in saving the ‘nation of Israel’. (God had the same outcome planned for that saving of His people.
23 I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
V. 23-24 – Sensible and careful planning by God’s people does not necessarily indicate lack of trust in His providence. Waiting on the Lord’s providence does not preclude personal planning.
The phrase: “to be helped on my journey there by you” the verb (propempo) as in Acts 15:3says:
3So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers.£
The phrase “being sent on their way (propempo)” – The sending church was giving them supplies and needed things for their missionary trip.
Paul’s purpose in wanting to come to Rome was to impart spiritual gifts to them. He was delayed so we need to realize that no matter how spiritual sounding our plans are, they still need to be subject go God’s plan. Bottom line: Out personal plans must be subject to God’s plans for us.
V.25-28 – the setting of clear priorities…
The Christians were suffering great persecution and great poverty – there was also a famine in the land as well. Some foreign Jews came to Jerusalem to visit and remained there. This would be within the homes of the Jewish brothers there.
Paul works to get together a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. “the right hand of fellowship”
“Contribution” – (koinonia) the basic idea is of sharing and is most commonly rendered as ‘fellowship’ or ‘communion’. The Gentiles of Achaia and Macedonia were fellow heirs and members of the Body of Christ and were pleased to contribute to their brothers in need. In doing so they would be in communion with their Jewish brother & sisters in Jerusalem.
Duty does not exclude willing and joyful compliance to God’s direction. The most demanding duty or indebtedness can be fulfilled out of love. 2 Cor. 9:7 of a cheerful giver.
V.29 – A person who faithfully fulfills his divine calling is one having ‘spiritual prosperity’. Not the “health and wealth gospel’ But none of the outward problems in Paul’s life could rob him of his inner blessings.
V.30 – Purpose – To have a clear purpose in the service for the Lord. To do so to glorify our Lord, Jesus Christ. “I do all things for the sake of the gospel” – 1 Corinthians 9:23(ESV)
23I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
We do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord… The Holy Spirit certainly has the same love for the world as a whole and for believers in particular as do the Father and the Son.
V. 30-32 – “to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf” – the value of prayer.
The phrase, “strive together” (sunagonizomai) means to struggle or fight as in the English term “agonize”…. This can be illustrated as one would see the struggle between wrestlers or boxers in their matches.
V.31 – Safety – Paul’s prayer: 31that I may be delivered from the unbelievers (apeitheo) in Judea….
Safety from the unbelievers (apeitheo) carries the basic idea of being obstinate and unpersuadable. We recall that there was ridicule, imprisonments, lashings, beatings, and even stoning by Jews who fiercely opposed Paul.
Example for prayer: – We need to pray for God’s glory, not our deliverance from pain and suffering.
Paul’s request in prayer was not to be delivered from further persecution or even death. Instead he wanted to be delivered only to the extent necessary for him to complete the ministry the Lord had given him.
V.31b – Paul’s 2nd pray request was regardless of what dangers might befall him, his service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints.
Prayer that the gift would not offend the Jewish believers but rather would ‘prove acceptable to the saints’ there.
V.32 – 3rd request is of Satisfaction
He wanted to come ‘in joy’. Paul sought to do nothing but the will of God.
Paul’s goal and our goal should be ‘to do the will of God’.