Romans 15

Think like Christ toward one another, Christ works through Paul, and Prayer

Summary

The strong believer should help the weak believer understand and outgrow his spiritual weaknesses. All believers, Jew and Gentile, should seek to live in such a way that all may grow in the faith. Christ demonstrated this in his life by pleasing God, not himself. Paul takes a line from Psalm 69.9 to illustrate this and to instruct us to put up with the weakness of another, but God and Paul also want us to grow out of our spiritual weaknesses, doctrinal misunderstandings, and taboos. He then asks that God will give them Christ’s kind of thinking toward one another so all may glorify God. Christ was a servant to both Jews (to confirm the promises to their fathers) and Gentiles (to glorify God for his mercy) and Paul wants Jews and Gentiles to accept each other and serve each other as Christ did. He uses Psalm 18.49, Deuteronomy 32.43, Psalm 117.1, and Isaiah 11.10 to demonstrate that God will accept Gentiles who come to him by faith. He prays that both Jew and Gentile believers will have joy, peace, and hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15.1-13). Paul is confident about the Romans’ relationships with each other, and even though he admonishes them, he commends them for their desire and ability to serve. Regarding his own ministry to the Roman believers and regions beyond, Paul is a priest of the gospel and serves so that his work will be acceptable to God and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. He is only interested in what Christ has done through him for the Gentiles, not what he has done by himself (Romans 15.14-21). He wants to visit them on his way to Spain, but first he must go to Jerusalem to deliver the money that the churches of Macedonia and Asia have collected (Romans 15.22-29). Paul then asks the Roman believers to pray for him in his ministry: for protection, that his service will be acceptable to the believers, and afterward he will have joy and rest when he comes to Rome (Romans 15.30-33).

Outline

  1. Romans 15:1-13. All Jewish and Gentile believers, especially the stronger, should seek to live in such a way that all may grow in the faith and accept each other to God’s glory as Christ demonstrated.
  2. Romans 15:14-21. Paul’s apostolic ministry does not reflect what Paul has done, but what Christ has accomplished through Paul.
  3. Romans 15.22-29. Paul plans on visiting the Romans on his way to Spain, but he must first take a contribution to Jerusalem.
  4. Romans 15.30-33. Paul asks the Romans to pray for his Jerusalem trip and for his trip to Rome.

Commentary

  1. Romans 15:1-13. All Jewish and Gentile believers, especially the stronger, should seek to live in such a way that all may grow in the faith and accept each other to God’s glory as Christ demonstrated.
    1. Romans 15.1. This what the strong ought to do (pres act indic). The verb to bear (βασταζω pres act infin) is used in Galatians 6.2,5 for the activity of those walking by the Holy Spirit. Weaknesses are the misunderstandings about Christian liberty caused by the weakness of faith. See Romans 14. We are not to misuse our liberty if it harms the weaker believer.
    2. Romans 15.2. Edify the neighbor. We please (pres act imper, αρεσκω) and think of his good (αγαθος high standard, value, benefit) and for his edification (προς οικοδομην building up, 1 Cor 14.12; Eph 4.12; 5.29).
    3. Romans 15.3-5. Christ is Paul’s example. Christ demonstrated this in his life by pleasing God, not himself. Paul takes a line from David’s life in Psalm 69.9 to illustrate this and to instruct us to put up with the weakness of another. Comment of the use of the OT in the NT. (mstf 441). The Scriptures give perseverance (`υπομονη) and encouragement (παρακλησις) through the examples and instructions. God is characterized by perseverance and encouragement. Paul asks God to give (optative of wish) them and us the Christ’s thinking toward the weaker believer. Review both words. Source of these characteristics—Scripture and God.
    4. Romans 15.6. Purpose, in all of us glorifying God the Father happens when we bear the weaknesses, not pleasing self, demonstrating perseverance and encouragement, and having Christ’s attitude
    5. Roman 15.7. We are to accept each other (Jew Gentile, strong weak. Accept is προσλαμβανω (pres imperative, to take for a personal need, Acts 24,33,34,36; to take aside, Mark 8.32; Acts 18.26; to take aside, to receive into one’s home or circle of acquaintance, to take along with you, Romans 14.1,3; 15.7; Acts 28.2; Philemon 17; to take along, Acts 17.5). Paul’s usage in this context is to receive into one’s acquaintance. They are believers, so accept them. Do not shun them. Here he is addressing the Jew-Gentile controversies and the weak-strong controversy. The point is to receive them with the hope to bring about correct biblical understanding and application (to the glory of God).
    6. Romans 15.8. Christ came for the circumcision—Jews. Servant to the circumcision: he fulfilled God’s to the Old Testament people (Genesis 12.1-3; Isaiah 53; Matt 15.24; Mark 10.45; Gal 3.16; 1 Peter 1.10).
    7. Romans 15.9. Mercy to Gentiles: Gentiles are also recipients of salvation and God’s blessings without becoming an Israelite. We understand this, but this was not so easily accepted in the early years of the church. See Acts 10 when Peter at Joppa was told to go to the house of Cornelius in Caesarea. There he explained that Gentiles also could have eternal life. Also Acts 15; Galatians 2; Ephesians 2.11-22; many others.
    8. Romans 15.10-12. Paul verifies that Christ also accepts Gentiles. See Deuteronomy 32.23, Gentiles and Israelites praising God; Psalm 117.1 Gentiles praising God; Isaiah 11.10, Gentiles following Messiah. Here comment on NT use of OT.
    9. Romans 15.13. Prayer for inner life of hope brought by the agency of the Holy Spirit. God the Father is characterized by hope and gives hope. Descriptive genitive. Those related to him can have hope in life now (Christian life) and hope for the future (heaven). Fill you (aor act optative of πληροω). Joy (χαρα) and peace (ειρηνη) in believing (εν τω πιστευειν)—when you believe or by believing God. The result of joy and peace allows us to experience his kind of hope or confident expectation. Inner joy and peace foster hope that the Holy Spirit produces in us. Holy Spirit in Romans 15.13,16,19,30. Purpose is to abound in hope (εις το περρισευειν `υμας εν τη ελπιδι (confident expectation for the future) that the Holy Spirit works in us. Abound is used in John 6.12-13 for bread left over. We should be people of hope, not of despair.
  2. Romans 15:14-21. Paul’s apostolic ministry does not reflect what Paul has done, but what Christ has accomplished through Paul.
    1. Romans 15.14. Paul commends the Roman believers. He knows that there are misunderstandings and conflicts (Jew Gentile, weak strong) but has confidence that they will come through it all. He uses some slight exaggeration to get his points across: goodness (moral quality of interest in the welfare of others), knowledge (getting the grasp of the truth), admonish (to counsel, instruct, talk it out).
    2. Romans 15.15. Paul reminds them. He can do so because God gave him grace (χαρις) for Christian service. Paul received grace from God so that he may serve as an apostle. Here Paul had the authority and ability to remind the Roman believers that God has accepted both Jew and Gentile into his salvation plan. They should apply their position in Christ, their purpose in Christ, their privilege in Christ, and their power or ability in Christ to live and serve. Conflicts should be rejected.
    3. Romans 15.16. Paul serves the Gentiles and offers them to God by the Holy Spirit working through him. The Holy Spirit has gifted him and set him apart. The word minister is a specialized word (λειτουργος emphasizing religious or priestly service, give assistance, even public service; Hebrews 8.2; Romans 13.6; Hebrews 1.7; Philippians 2.25). Ministering as a priest the gospel (ειρουργεω, pres act part sing accus masculine) refers to what Paul, the minister does. He performs a holy service. Here we see Paul’s high calling. He serves God’s gospel. His life and service produce an offering—the Gentile believers (προσφορα, voluntary and sacrificial offering, Hebrews 10.5,8,10,14,18; Acts 24.17; Ephesians 5.2). Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles (εθνος) resulted in the Gentiles being that free will offering to God. The only way this ministry would be acceptable and beneficial would be if the Holy Spirit sanctified the product (`αγιαζω perf pass part nom fem sing). Paul wanted his ministry to be worked out by the Holy Spirit—both the means and the result. The Holy Spirit sanctified his service and the result of his ministry. See sanctification, especially in the Christian life and service of all believers. See Plan for Christian living, Christian service Characteristics.
    4. Romans 15.17. Paul’s relationship with Christ is the only reason he can be proud. He cannot take personal credit.
    5. Romans 15.18. Christ accomplished his work through Paul. He realizes that anything of worth that he participated in was done (κατεργαζομαι aor midd indic 3rd sing, to achieve, accomplish, produce, Rom 5.3; 2 Cor 12.12) by Christ through him. The result was that Gentiles believed (obeyed) the gospel—the obedience of the Gentiles (Gentiles ‘εθων subjective genitive). God used Paul’s words and deeds.
    6. Romans 15.19. God worked through Paul by supernatural signifying spiritual gifts. They were his proofs of apostleship—by the power of signs (σημειον) and wonders (τερας) by the power of the Holy Spirit. Signs and wonders refer to the abilities that God gave Paul to carry out his apostolic ministry. Signs and wonders is used 15 times in the Bible. Pertinent ones are Acts 5.12; 14.3; 15.12; Romans 15.19; 2 Corinthians 12.12; Hebrews 2.4. Paul healed the man in Lystra (Acts 14.8-10), removed the spirit of divination from the slave girl in Philippi (Acts 16.16-18), he cast out demons and healed people in Corinth (Acts 19.11-17), in Troas he brought Eutychus back to life (Acts 20.9-12), and on the island of Malta he survived the snake bite and healed people (Acts 28.1-9). Later on, Paul did not or could not heal (2 Tim 4.20; Philippians 2.25-30). See temporary signifying spiritual gifts (Romans 15.18-19; 2 Corinthians 12.12 Hebrews 2.3-4; 1 Corinthians 13,8-11). He preached the gospel as far as Illyricum, which is north of Macedonia between the Adriatic Sea and the Danube River. This Roman province is 1400 miles from Jerusalem. It is now northern Albania, Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. He had fully preached (πληροω perf act infin) up to that time.
    7. Romans 15.20-21. Paul’s goal was to preach where the gospel had not been given out and no churches had been planted. He wanted all to hear. The Isaiah 52.12 reference is simply to use a known set of words and to apply to Paul’s point.
  3. Romans 15.22-29. Paul plans on visiting the Romans on his way to Spain, but he must first take a contribution to Jerusalem (1 Cor 16.1). Recall that Paul wrote Romans from Corinth near the end of his third missionary journey, AD 56 or 57 (Romans 16.1; Acts 19.21; 20.1-3). He went to Jerusalem (Acts 19.21; 20.16; 21.10-17), delivered the gift to the Jerusalem believers (Romans 15.26; Acts 24.17), was arrested (Acts 21.31-33; 22), was taken to Caesarea where he was in jail for 2 years, AD 58-60 (Acts 23.23), appeared before Felix (Acts 24), Festus (Acts 25), and Agrippa (Acts 26), and then finally sent to Rome (Acts 27) where he spent two years under house arrest, AD 60-62 (Acts 28).
    1. Romans 15.22-23. Paul has been busy in other areas, but now has completed his work for the present in Greece and Asia Minor. His long standing desire to visit Rome can now be realized.
    2. Romans 15.24. Paul indicates his plan for coming to Rome on his way to Spain. He does express hope that the Roman Christians might support him with money gifts. At times churches supported him and at times he did not take support (1 Corinthians 9; Philippians 4.10-18; 2 Thessalonians 3.7-9).
    3. Romans 15.25-26. Paul must first take the money that the churches in Macedonia and Greece have donated to help the poor believers in Jerusalem. The Gentiles received the Christian message from the Jerusalem saints. They in turn were pleased (pleased ευδοκεω to take delight in, aor act indicative) to give of their material help (1 Corinthians 16.1-4; Acts 24.17). We can be pleased to support those in genuine need.
    4. Romans 15.27. The Gentiles profited from the message about Christ. Now they can help the Jerusalem Jewish believers by giving financial aid (Acts 11.27-30; 12.25; Galatians 2.10 were earlier donations.
    5. Romans 15.28-29. On to Spain after delivering the gift to Jerusalem, and visiting Rome under Christ’s blessing (ευλογια favorable speech, praise, blessing). When he comes to Rome, Christ will approve and minister through him. We want this to be true of our Christian service every time and in every place. Did Paul go to Spain? The evidence favors that he did.
      1. 1 Clement 5.5-7. 5:5 Through envy Paul, too, showed by example the prize that is given to patience: 5:6 seven times was he cast into chains; he was banished; he was stoned; having become a herald, both in the East and in the West, he obtained the noble renown due to his faith; 5:7 and having preached righteousness to the whole world, and having come to the extremity of the West, and having borne witness before rulers, he departed at length out of the world, and went to the holy place, having become the greatest example of patience.
      2. Muratorian Fragment translated by Bruce Metzger. http://www.bible-researcher.com/muratorian.html.
        1. “The Muratorian Fragment is the oldest known list of New Testament books. It was discovered by Ludovico Antonio Muratori in a manuscript in the Ambrosian Library in Milan, and published by him in 1740. * It is called a fragment because the beginning of it is missing. Although the manuscript in which it appears was copied during the seventh century, the list itself is dated to about 170 because its author refers to the episcopate of Pius I of Rome (died 157) as recent. He mentions only two epistles of John, without describing them. The Apocalypse of Peter is mentioned as a book which "some of us will not allow to be read in church." A very helpful and detailed discussion of this document is to be found in Bruce Metzger’s The Canon of the New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), pp. 191-201. Below is Metzger’s English translation of a critically amended text of the Fragment, from Appendix IV of the same book (pp. 305-7). I include Metzger’s footnotes, with their original enumeration, and add some supplementary footnotes of my own. —M.D.M.:
        2. Portion of the Muratorian Fragment that mentions Spain. “Luke compiled (36) the individual events that took place in his presence — (37) as he plainly shows by omitting the martyrdom of Peter (38) as well as the departure of Paul from the city [of Rome] [5a] (39) when he journeyed to Spain.”
      3. Comment found at (http://bibleforums.org/showthread.php/211382-Did-Paul-visit-Spain, June 24, 2010. “This period is wrapped in deep obscurity for, lacking the account of the Acts, we have no guide save an often uncertain tradition and the brief references of the Pastoral epistles. Paul had long cherished the desire to go to Spain (Romans 15:24, 28) and there is no evidence that he was led to change his plan. When towards the end of his captivity he announces his coming to Philemon (22) and to the Philippians (2:23-24), he does not seem to regard this visit as immediate since he promises the Philippians to send them a messenger as soon as he learns the issue of his trial; he therefore plans another journey before his return to the East. Finally, not to mention the later testimony of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Epiphanius, St. Jerome, St. Chrysostom, and Theodoret, the well-known text of St. Clement of Rome, the witness of the "Muratorian Canon", and of the "Acta Pauli" render probable Paul’s journey to Spain. In any case he can not have remained there long, for he was in haste to revisit his Churches in the East. He may have returned from Spain through southern Gaul if it was thither, as some Fathers have thought, and not to Galatia, that Crescens was sent later (2 Timothy 4:10). We may readily believe that he afterwards kept the promise made to his friend Philemon and that on this occasion he visited the churches of the valley of Lycus, Laodicea, Colossus, and Hierapolis.”
  4. Romans 15.30-33. Paul asks the Romans to pray for his Jerusalem trip and for his trip to Rome. 1. Strive together 2. Rescued from the disobedient 3. Service may be acceptable to the saints 4. Come to you in joy and rest. Paul then asks the Roman believers to pray for him in his ministry: for protection, that his service will be acceptable to the believers, and afterward he will have joy and rest when he comes to Rome (Romans 15.30-33).
    1. Romans 15.30. We now have a pattern for prayer for those who proclaim the gospel and Bible teaching. Paul will take an offering to Jerusalem. That could be dangerous.
      1. He urges παρακαλεω pres act indic, to encourage, summon aid, strongly appeal) prayer for himself. Prayer is directed to God the Father (see basics on prayer).
      2. His authority for this request is Jesus Christ (δια του κυριου `ημων ‘Ιησου Χριστου, agency), and the motivation is the love that the Holy Spirit puts in us (δια της αγαπης του πνευματου, genitive of source or subjective genitive. See Galatians 5.22). The Lord Jesus Christ wants people to pray for Paul.
      3. The Holy Spirit is the source of love in believers and he produces this love. This love motivates us to pray for those in the work of ministry. Love is the fruit of the Spirit.
      4. The action ”strive tgogether” (συναγωνιζομαι to join in a common effort, to fight pres midd infin indirect discourse). Remember the athletic saying, “the thrill of victory and the agvonyt of defeat.” Prayer is a struggle. It is firing the big guns. See Ephesians 6.18-20; 2 Corinthians 1.10-11; Colossians 4.12.
    2. Romans 15.31. The specific topics of prayer, the protocol for those in ministry. 1. Rescued (ρυομαι aor pass subjunctive, to rescue from danger, deliver, preserve) from the disobedient (απειθεω to disobey pr act part mas gen plural. Same as in John 3.36, refers to disobey the gospel, not believe it). 2. Service (διακονια) may be acceptable (ευπροσδεδκτος favorable, acceptable) to the believers in Jerusalem.
    3. Romans 15.32. When the ministry is finished, that he may come to Rome and 3. be happy (χαρα gladness, joy, 2 Corinthians 7.4; Philippians 2.2) and gain spiritual refreshment (συναναπαυομαι to relax in someone’s company) from the fellowship with the believers in Rome.
    4. Romans 15.33. The benediction. “of peace is genitive of description with an understood optative verb.

So What Application

  1. Remember the doctrine of doubtful things for weaker and stronger believers, for Jews and Gentiles, that Paul taught them in Romans 14. The strong believer should help the weak believer so that the weaker and stronger may grow and glorify God (Romans 15.1-2).
  2. Jewish and Gentile believers are to accept each other to God’s glory, and should demonstrate grace to each other, even if they are weak and confused (Romans 15.5-7).
  3. Our Christian service centers on Christ working through us, not what we do ourselves (Romans 15.18).
  4. The Holy Spirit works in believers for successful ministry (Romans 15.13,16,19).
  5. Prayer for those in ministry is authorized by Christ and motivated by the love that the Holy Spirit puts in us (Romans 15.30).
  6. Paul’s pattern of prayer for those in speaking ministries should include prayer for protection, prayer that the service will be acceptable to the believers, and that afterward God’s messenger may will reap joy and rest (Romans 15.30-32).

Select Doctrines

  1. Doubtful things (liberty, love, sacrifice, profit, restoration, burden bearing, Romans 14; 1 Cor 8; 1 Cor 9.9,14,18; 10.33; Galatians 6.1-2).
  2. Relationships among believers (Ephesians 4.1-6; Colossians 4.12-17, oneness is the principle, graciousness is the rule, separation from believers is the exception, Bible compromise is wrong).
  3. Promises to the Hebrew fathers and Mercy to the Gentiles (Deuteronomy 6.10; 9.5; Jeremiah 33.25-26; Micah 7.20; Luke 1.54-55, 69-74; Romans 10.12-13; 15.7-9).
  4. Faith life (rely on what God has said, Rom 8.28-32; Proverbs 3.5-6).
  5. Joy, peace, and hope (Galatians 5.22-23).
  6. Spiritual growth (Galatians 4.19; Ephesians 4.13; Hebrews 5.11-6.3; Colossians 2.7).
  7. Spiritual gifts, signifying and permanent (Hebrews 2.3-4; 2 Cor 12.12; Romans 15.18-19; 1 Cor 13.8-11).
  8. Ministry and spiritual production (Good works. what, service; why, glorify God; how, Bible, Holy Spirit, faith. Ephesians 2.10; 1 Peter 4.10-11).
  9. Apostles’ authenticating spiritual abilities (Acts 14.8-10; 16.16-18; 20.9-12; Philippians 2.25-30).
  10. Prayer for those in speaking ministry (Romans 15.30-32; Ephesians 6.18-19).