Romans 15 - Outline of Romans (Book Notes menu page)
VI. Righteousness Practiced- Application, Service (12:1 - 15:13)
E. In Relation to Other Believers, regarding matters of legitimate disagreement. 14:1 - 15:13
3. Do not please yourselves. (15:1-13) -
    The principle of Consideration for the weaker brother...
  1. As Christ carried our Reproaches (15:1-4)
  2. As Christ Received us to glory (15:5-7)
  3. As Christ Removed the walls of separation (15:8-13)
15:1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak,
and not to please ourselves.
15:2 Let every one of us please [his] neighbour for [his] good to edification.
15:3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written,
The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
{quotes Psa 69:9}
15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime
{ie., in earlier times}
were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
The mature believer is...
  • not to live to please himself (ie., to indulge his liberty in disputable matters).
  • to live in consideration of the weak brother. cp. Rom 14:15,21; 1Cor 8:13; 10:24; Gal 6:2
  • to live for the purpose of building up his brother. Rom 14:19
Lest any man feel constricted in bearing another's narrowness... consider Christ...
For even Christ pleased not Himself...- Rather, He pleased God (Joh 4:34),
whose Will was for the salvation of His weak enemies. Rom 5:6-8
Christ's path of sorrow was full of joy in serving the Father. Joh 15:11-13
the reproaches, of them that reproached thee, fell on me.- (quoted from Psa 69:9)
These words, from a Messianic Psalm, were prophetic of the cost to Jesus of obeying God's Will.
Jesus provided far more than an example to us. He bore our infirmities.
The full weight of our sin was placed upon Him. 2Cor 5:21; Psa 69:20,21
Should we complain that he asks us to bear with the scruples of our weak brothers? v.1
for whatever things were written beforetime were written...
...for our learning {GK=didaskalia, instruction, endoctrination}...
...that we... may have hope {GK=elpis, confident expectation}...
...through patience {GK=hupomone, endurance, patient continuance}
...and comfort {GK=paraklesis} of the scriptures...
Alternate translation: "For as many things as were written before, for our instruction were written before, that through endurance, and the exhortation of the Writings, we might have hope." [YLT]- cp. 1Cor 10:11
     The OT record is full of biographies of God's servants who denied themselves for God's glory (eg., Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David...). Towering above them all is the prophetic picture of Christ and His self-sacrifice. These real accounts were not written to entertain us with 'Bible stories,' but rather, so that we could learn what it means to walk with God.
     Who knows the confidence and joy of walking with God? Only those who follow what He says (submitting to the exhortation of His Word), and who trust Him to do what He says He will do (patiently enduring through many difficulties, by faith in His Word).
     It is to such folks that Paul addressed v.1, "We then that are strong..." But many who think themselves strong are among the weak, having fallen down at v.4. "The greatest sin in the church of Jesus Christ in our generation is ignorance of God's Word. Many times I have heard a church officer say, 'Well, I don't know much about the Bible, but...' and his opinion... actually contradicts the Word of God." [McGee]
     Are we living according to fleshly wisdom, or according to the mind of Christ?
15:5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you
to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
15:6 That ye may with one mind [and] one mouth glorify God,
even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15:7 Wherefore receive ye one another,
as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
Now the God of patience {GK=hupomone, endurance} and consolation {GK=paraklesis, comfort, exhortation}...-
Are not these the very characteristics that God desires to form within us through His Word (v.4)? Yet, these are characteristics of God Himself, which caused Him to reach out to us in our weakness, and to continue to bear with us in our often unstable walk toward maturity.
...grant you to be likeminded... with one mind... one mouth...- 1Cor 1:10-13,17-18; Php 2:1-5
If we are likeminded with Him, we can be likeminded with each other.
Though we may hold differing views on disputable matters, we are to be one in Christ, living for one purpose: the glory of God.
...receive ye one another, as Christ also received us...-
The words 'receive' and 'received' are GK=proslambano, to take to oneself. It implies a special interest in the one who is received, on the part of the receiver. cp. Rom 14:1,3
Christ... received us to the glory of God.- 1Joh 1:3-6
By Grace, He took our sin away and brought us into the sacred, secret place to share His fellowship with the Father. We, who were totally unworthy have been brought into fellowship with the God who is Light, and in whom there is no darkness at all.
     Should we not set aside our brother's scruples, and draw him to our hearts, and into our fellowship?
Christ receives both Jew and Gentile.
It can be assumed that in Rome, the questions of diet and days were drawn along the line between the Jews and the Gentiles.
In vs.8-13, Paul quotes several OT scriptures to show that...
Christ removed the walls of separation between Jew & Gentile. (cp. Eph 2:14-18)
15:8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God,
to confirm
{ie., to establish} the promises [made] unto the fathers:
Jesus Christ's earthly ministry was limited to the Jews. cp. Mat 15:24; 10:5,6; Gal 4:4,5
He came to establish the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
But also, through Him, God's mercy was extended to the Gentiles, to whom no promises were given.
15:9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for [his] mercy; as it is written,
For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.
{Psa 18:49}
Psalm 18 is a Messianic Psalm which speaks of salvation through the Rock of Israel. At the end of the Psalm, the Messiah praises God among the Gentiles, implying that they also have been included in His salvation.
15:10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. {Deu 32:43}
15:11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.
{Psa 117:1}
15:12 And again, Esaias saith,
There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles;
in him shall the Gentiles trust.
{Isa 11:1,10}
The last word, 'trust,' is lit., 'hope' (ie., 'confident expectation'). cp. v.4
     The above quoted passages show that, though Christ came to and through Israel, He is the hope of all nations (for He bore the reproaches of Jew and Gentile alike, and He receives both Jewish and Gentile believers into His Glory).
    In making his point, Paul references...
  1. the three major OT divisions: the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, and
  2. three of Israel's heroes: Moses, David and Isaiah.
15:13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
The God of hope {ie., confident expectation}...- is also the God of patience and consolation (v.5).
Through patient endurance, He spanned the gulf between me, a sinner, and He, the Holy God, to bring me into right relationship with Him. The reproaches which I had committed against Him, He took upon Himself and bore them away. Since I began to walk with Him, He has proven Himself strong in my weakness... patiently enduring my faultering steps as I stumbled over doubts and temptations. But I am not unique. What He has done for me, He has been doing for you also, if you have put your trust in Him. He draws us to Himself, continually exhorting each of His own through His Word, and personally comforting us with His Presence.
     Through what He has done for each of His children, He also spans the distance between human enemies. Old hatreds and divisions fade away, for those who have entered into fellowship with God. Believing Jews and believing Gentiles are no longer separated from one another. "The middle wall of partition between us" has been broken down, in Him (Eph 2:14).
     For what purpose has He done these things?
that ye may abound in hope...- That we who believe would overflow with confidence in Him.
With such confidence in Him, any remaining barriers between His children (such as the 'matters of legitimate disagreement,' which have been the subject of ch. 14 - 15), are also brought down by the power of His Holy Spirit (working in our hearts to make us more like our Savior), so that all, who trust in Him, may, together, experience the joy and peace of fellowship with Him.
VII. Personal Messages and Benediction, 15:14 - 16:27
  1. Paul's Ministry and Plans (Rom 15:14-33)
  2. Paul's Personal Greetings (16:1-16)
  3. Paul's concluding Admonition and Benediction (16:17-27)
15:14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren,
that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge,
{1Joh 2:21,27}
able also to admonish one another.
15:15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort,
as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God,
15:16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles,
ministering the gospel of God,
that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable,
being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.
Paul is bringing his epistle to a close. At v.13, he stops teaching, and addresses his readers very personally.
He acknowledges that his letter has not been the easiest reading, dealing as it has with difficult matters.
    In this epistle, he has taught foundational Doctrines of the Faith (ch. 1-8), and explained Dispensational truth concerning the faithfulness of God's promises to Israel, and the graciousness of His mercy extended to both Jew and Gentile (ch. 9-11). His theme has been "the Righteousness of God." He has presented this Righteousness carefully -- not as philosophical theory for the curious mind -- but as practical necessity for daily life. Our desperate lack of Righteousness has been met in Christ. Through faith in Him, His Righteousness has been imputed to the believer's account, and imparted to his inner man. Now, it is our Duty to live according to that Righteousness (ch. 12-15).
    Paul is confident that his readers were spiritually prepared to digest these things, and also, that God has been working in their hearts, so that his readers are (v.14):
  • my brethren - They, too, had been born into God's family (Rom 1:7,8,13).
  • full of goodness {ie., uprightness}.
  • filled with {or, complete in} knowledge {GK=gnosis, understanding}.
  • able to admonish {GK=noutheteo, warn, exhort} one another. cp. Col 3:16
    These believers had reached a level of maturity where, even without the oversight of the apostle, they were well founded in the faith and prepared to encourage and strengthen one another in their walk with God.
Yet, Paul has not hesitated to give them thorough teaching on these matters, because the Lord had committed to him the role of 'apostle to the Gentiles' (cp. Rom 1:5; 11:13). By God's Grace, Paul was...
the minister {GK=leitourgos}... to the Gentiles... ministering {GK=hierourgeo} the Gospel... offering up {GK=prosphora} of the Gentiles...-
The GK words, which Paul uses here, usually refer to the ministry of the OT priesthood.
Paul was "a spiritual priest to the Gentiles, not to offer sacrifice for them [which Christ had already done], but to minister to them the Gospel, so that they themselves might be an acceptable 'offering' unto God." [Stifler] cp. Rom 12:1,2; Eph 5:26,27; 2Cor 11:2
15:17 I have therefore whereof I may glory through {ie., in} Jesus Christ
in those things which pertain to God.
15:18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things
which Christ hath not wrought by me,
to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed,
15:19 Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God;
so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum,
I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
15:20 Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel,
not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:
15:21 But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see:
and they that have not heard shall understand.
{quotes Isa 52:15}
Paul gave a brief report of the work of Christ, through his ministry...
  • the Gospel was 'fully preached... from Jerusalem unto Illyricum.'-
    Illyricum was the province of the Roman Empire immediately to the east of Italy. Paul had long desired to go to Rome, but at the time he wrote this epistle, his extensive missionary travels had not reached that far. Accounts of some of Paul's journeys are recorded in the book of Acts. The only mention of his ministry in Illyricum is here (in Romans ch. 15).
  • through mighty signs and wonders...
    Paul, like other apostles, was engaged in laying the foundation of Jesus Christ (v.20; 1Cor 3:10,11; Eph 2:19,20). God provided signs and wonders to confirm the message of these pioneer missionaries (eg. Acts 14:3; Heb 2:3,4). But after the pioneer work was done and the NT was written, signs and wonders were no longer the identifying mark of God's messengers. Rather, the test was sound 'doctrine' (2Joh 1:10).
    In our day, some have put undue importance upon the sign gifts.
    "The kingdom of God is not meat or drink. Neither is it signs and wonders. The kingdom of God is righteousness. [Rom 14:17] The question is not 'do you speak in tongues?', but 'is your tongue clean?' " [McGee]
  • by the power of the Spirit of God.- cp. 1Cor 2:1-5
so have I strived {ie., made it my ambition} to preach... not where Christ was named...-
  • Paul's policy was to go into unreached areas.
    He laid the foundation upon which other ministers would build. 1Cor 3:10
    Since this was Paul's policy, and since he desired to go to Rome, we may infer that Paul (not Peter) was the founder of the church at Rome. Apparently, he started this church without setting foot in the city, through numerous converts won to the Lord in other places. Many of these are listed in ch. 16.
  • Paul's policy was based on the verse he quotes here (v.21; Isa 52:15).
    'To whom He was not spoken...'- As Paul quotes it, the message is the Person and work of Christ, as described in Isa 53 (not merely information about Him).
Paul, now returns to personal comments, picking up where he left off (in Rom 1:9,10) with his desire to come to them.
15:22 For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.
15:23 But now having no more place in these parts,
and having a great desire these many years to come unto you;
{cp. Rom 1:9-13}
15:24 Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you:
for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you,
if first I be somewhat filled with your [company].
for which cause...- The thing that had long 'hindered' Paul from journeying to Rome was
the abundance of the work (which he described in v.16-21).
but now, having no more place in these parts...- Apparently, Paul believed that
he had finished his task in the regions where he had already ministered previously.
He had 'fully preached the Gospel,' ie., the whole message, to every willing hearer. cp. Acts 13:48,49
whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you...-
We have no record of Paul's ministry in Spain.
However, it was on the itinerary that he believed God had appointed for him.
At the close of his life, he could say, ''I have finished my course'' (2Tim 4:7).
'to be brought on my way' {GK=propempo, to conduct forth, to accompany} there by you...-
Paul may have been requesting that some of the Roman believers accompany him to Spain.
In the NT, this word ''is used only in reference to this custom.'' [Stifler]
eg., Acts 15:3; 21:5; 3Joh 1:6 (and many others)
15:25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.
15:26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia
to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.
15:27 It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are.
For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things,
their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.
15:28 When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit,
I will come by you into Spain.
Before leaving on his missionary journey to Spain,
he must deliver a financial gift to the persecuted church in Jerusalem, from Gentile believers in Macedonia & Achaia (modern Greece). Paul's journey to Jerusalem, and eventual ministry in Rome is recorded in Acts 20:16 - 28:31.
     Paul wrote this letter to the Romans, during his third visit to Corinth, as this collection was being taken up for the persecuted believers in Jerusalem. The collection of this gift is mentioned in 1Cor 16:1-4, 2Cor 8:1 - 9:15 and Acts 24:17.
Paul calls the gift 'a certain contribution' {GK=koinonia, common fellowship},
because it represented the common sharing of both 'abundance' and 'want' among the members of Christ's Body. cp. 2Cor 8:13-15
  • it hath pleased them verily {truly}...- ie., The Gentiles were willing participants in this collection. It was truly their 'good pleasure' to give. cp. 2Cor 9:7
  • their debtors they are...- From the church in Jerusalem, the Gospel had gone out into the surrounding regions. The Gentile believers were spiritually indebted to those who had sent the Word of Life to them. So, they had determined to provide tangible assistance for the Jewish believers who had fallen on hard times, due to persecution.
  • their duty is... to minister {GK=leitourgoo, a priestly ministry}...-
    Although conveying a 'carnal' {fleshly} blessing, this was truly a spiritual ministry.
I will come by you... when...
  • I have 'performed' {ie., finished, completed, perfected} this...-
    This word is used of God's Grace, perfected within the givers, enabling them to finish gathering their gift (2Cor 8:6,11).
    The contribution would be completed, when Paul confirmed its delivery.
  • I have sealed to them this fruit.- This line may refer to either (or both)--
    1. When the gift would be delivered and receipted by the church in Jerusalem.
      The gift itself was a fruit of the Gospel, returning to those from whom it went out. Col 1:5,6
    2. When the gift would be put on the spiritual 'account' of those who sent it. cp. Php 4:17
15:29 And I am sure that, when I come unto you,
I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.
Paul could be sure that God would work through His ministry (Rom 1:11),
because He knew the richness and power of the Gospel (Rom 1:16) and of Christ (Eph 3:8,14-21).
(The words 'of the gospel' are absent in some MSS.)
15:30 Now I beseech you, brethren,
for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit,
that ye strive together with me in [your] prayers to God for me;
15:31 That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea;
and that my service which [I have] for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints;
15:32 That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God,
and may with you be refreshed.
strive together with {GK=sunagonizomai, agonize together with} me in your prayers...-
This is a call for serious prayer. The anticipated mission to Jerusalem (and beyond) could not be accomplished in his own strength.
Paul lists two motivations for prayer:
  1. for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake.- Paul was but a servant of the Lord. cp. 2Cor 4:5,11
    They should pray for fruit to the Lord's glory. Joh 15:8,16
  2. for the love {GK=agape} of the Spirit.- cp. Gal 5:22
    They should pray out of the love (which the Holy Spirit gave them) for their brother, a fellowservant of the Lord.
Paul lists three specific requests for prayer:
  1. that I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judea...-
    Paul feared that unbelievers would seek to destroy him. The danger became increasingly evident as he approached Jerusalem (Acts 20:22,23; 21:4-13). There, his life would be in question: in riot, in prison, and in court (Acts 21:27 - 23:15).
    The Lord preserved Paul's life, in answer to their prayers. Acts 23:16-24
  2. that my service may be accepted by the saints in Jerusalem...-
    Paul feared that the Jewish believers might refuse the gift from their Gentile brethren.
    But, ''they received him (and presumably the gift) gladly...'' (Acts 21:17-20).
  3. that I may come unto you...
    • ...with joy...- ie., of answered prayer:
      for the mission accomplished in Jerusalem, and
      for the mission anticipated in Spain.
    • the Will of God...- cp. Rom 1:10.
      God willed to bring Paul to Rome by way of prison, chains, storm and shipwreck. Yet, He would make it a 'prosperous journey.'
    • ...and may be refreshed with you. - lit., 'may take rest together with you.'
      ie., That we may be "refreshed by a common interchange of faith and its fruits." [Stifler] cp. Rom 1:12
15:33 Now the God of peace [be] with you all. Amen.
Paul had fears. The Roman believers feared for him. Both could rest in God. cp. v.13

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