Romans 15


Romans 15:1
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

This is another excellent example of where a chapter break should not be as there has been no change of subject from chapter 14. To ensure we understand what Paul is saying here, let's read the end of chapter 14 again and see how the narrative flows through into chapter 15.

For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.

It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

Hast thou faith [believing]? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.

And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith [believing]: for whatsoever is not of faith [believing] is sin.

Romans 15:1
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

We then that are strong in what? Who are the weak? Without following the narrative from chapter 14 this is prone to private interpretation. The context from chapter 14 makes it unquestionably clear who the strong and the weak are. 

Romans 14:1,2
Him that is weak in the faith [believing] receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

For one believeth that he may eat all things [someone who is strong in believing and eats meat]: another, who is weak [in believing], eateth herbs [is a vegetarian and eats fruit and vegetables].

Now read verse 1 again.

Romans 15:1
We then that are strong [in believing] ought to bear the infirmities of the weak [in believing], and not to please ourselves.

As there should never have been a chapter break here, we can supply the word believing as an ellipsis, an omission of words that are superfluous because they can be clearly understood from the context.

Romans 15:2
Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.

Edification means to build up, which is the opposite of to tear down. Tearing down may be the way the world works, but we are to help build each other up. This edifying can be thought of as construction work, the same way a building is constructed. Indeed, some large imposing buildings are often referred to as edifices because they have been built from the ground up.

Tearing down is easy, but building someone up takes patience, understanding, empathy, thoughtfulness, kindness and love. Foundations have to be laid, walls have to be constructed brick by brick, the roof has to be put on, windows installed, electric cables and plumbing laid, and once the main construction is finished you then have to plasterboard the walls and ceilings, install fittings like light switches, sinks, toilets and kitchen units, and finally you plaster, decorate and furnish the place to make it home. Even once a home is finished it still requires work to maintain. People need to be built up and loved for their entire lives.

Romans 15:3,4
For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.

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

The quote in verse 3 is from Psalms and it would be worth looking at it.

Psalm 69:9
For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.

This aforetime refers to the times before this administration, before the day of Pentecost, before the Age of Grace. So everything written before this administration, which means everything in the old testament, which includes the gospels, was written for our learning. This verse in psalms therefore, although it was written thousands of years ago, was written for our learning. God had the old testament written down in the languages of men and put in the bible for us, so we could learn from it. The children of Israel had the word in the stars, remember? The old testament wasn't written for them, it was written for us. That's what verse 4 says. Read it again.

Romans 15:4
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Everything in the old testament is for our learning, and that was the purpose, the intent behind the old testament being written. It was written for us so we could learn from it. That's logical when you think about it, because everybody who was alive during the old testament is dead now, so it can't be for their learning, can it? The old testament may not be addressed to us, but it is for our learning. Here's another way of looking at it - the old testament may have been addressed to the Judeans, not us, but it wasn't written for their learning, but ours.

Let's take this a step further and pull Psalm 69:9 into the context of Romans chapter 15. God had the Old Testament written for our learning, and here we see an old testament scripture being used by Paul to help us solve problems today between believers who were vegetarians and believers who ate meat. If Christ didn't live life just to please himself, then neither should we. Do parents just do what they like and ignore their children? Think about that, selah.

Romans 15:5
Now the God of patience and consolation [paraklēsis - comfort] grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:

God is a god of patience and comfort. This makes sense because he is our father and we are his children. Like any good parent he does his best to help us all get along with each other as we grow and mature. We can glimpse some of this in psalm 103.

Psalm 103:8-13
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.

He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him [hold him in awe and respect as children do their fathers].

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Like as a father pitieth [cares for] his children, so the LORD pitieth [cares for] them that fear him [hold him in awe and respect as our father].

Here is verse 13 of Psalm 103 from the Geneva bible.

Psalm 103:13
As a father hath compassion on his children, so hath the Lord compassion on them that feare him.

We really need to quit thinking of God as some horrid old dude looking for an excuse to punish us. We need to think of him as our father who loves us and cares for us more than anything else in the universe.

Romans 15:5-7
Now the God of patience and consolation [paraklēsis - comfort] 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.

Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

There still has been no change of subject from chapter 14. Paul is still addressing vegetarian believers and believers who were eating meat not getting along with each other. We are all to be likeminded according to Christ Jesus. It is the word that brings us together and we are to receive one another as Christ also received us. Did Jesus Christ receive you reluctantly? Did he grudge receiving me despite what a shitehole human being I was? No, of course not, we are all welcome in the family of God, and that's how we should receive one another.

Romans 15:8
Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:

Now we have a change of subject, and this would have been a good place for a chapter break. We have finished dealing with the food issue and we have a new thought. First thing that comes up in this change of narrative is that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision. We need to stop and consider this because I sometimes hear people wish they had been with Jesus. If folks understood what Paul was saying here they would have nightmares about wishing for such a thing. If they were somehow granted their wish and went back in time, not only would they lose their holy spirit, but Jesus Christ would have had nothing to do with them.

Matthew 15:22-28
And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord,
 thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

But he answered and said, It is not meet [appropriate] to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.

And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.

Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith [believing]: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Before the day of Pentecost and the giving of the gift of holy spirit, Gentiles were regarded as dogs, and God's people had nothing to do with them. Gentiles were animals to be avoided. Still wish you had been with Jesus? I'm glad I wasn't around in those days. Don't waste your life wishing you'd been with Jesus, he would have had nothing to do with you and his disciples would have sent you away. He was a minister of the circumcision who was only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Romans 15:8
Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:

Perhaps now we might be a little more thankful for and appreciative of what God accomplished for us in Christ Jesus when he raised him from the dead.

Ephesians 2:11-15
Wherefore remember, that ye
 being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;

That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

When God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, Gentiles were also reconciled to God in one body with the Israelites. Christ is our peace who abolished the enmity between us and brought us into the presence of God. Since the day of Pentecost, even those of us who are Gentiles can be born again and be a child in the family of God. Paul now lists a few more old testament scriptures prophesying of this.

Romans 15:9-12
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.

And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.

And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.

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.

Remember, this was new light to the believers back in those days. The Gentiles for the most part didn't know the new birth was available to them and the Judeans still regarded them as animals. Paul was letting the Gentiles know they were very welcome in the family of God. This new light would have been more than a little uncomfortable for some of the Judeans as well. Even Peter had problems with this despite being chosen to first take the word to the Gentiles through Cornelius and his household.

Galatians 2:11-16
But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.

And the other Jews [Judeans] dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew [Judean], livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews [Judeans], why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews [Judeans]?

We who are Jews [Judeans] by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Folks not getting along with each other in our home churches is not a problem, it's just life. Children will always be children. I will bet even Jesus Christ pulled his sisters' hair when he was a kid and had to be smacked for it. Look after people in your home churches, love them and help them to grow and learn to love each other.

People will come to your home churches from all walks of life, from all religions and nationalities, and they will come with all sorts of cultural and religious discriminations and bigotries. We deal with things as they arise in a kind but firm manner.

Romans 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 [holy spirit].

I always find it interesting when I see the Greek word pistis correctly translated as believing and not as faith, as in this case. They obviously knew what the word meant. If you look it up, the word faith is actually derived from an old French word around the 13th Century, and before that from a Latin word. Personally, I think the word faith in the bible is a forgery as it has absolutely no connection that I can find to the ancient Greek word pistis at all.

Romans 15:14
And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish [noutheteō] one another.

Admonish is the Greek word noutheteō which means to reprove gently, to warn, to caution, to put in mind. We don't shout at people, ridicule them in public, and bitch about them all over Facebook when they mess up, we look after them and gently but firmly put them back on track with the word. We are family, and we are all God's children, so let's treat each other as family and love each other and look after each other and look out for each other.

Romans 15:15-16
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,

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 [pneuma hagion - holy spirit]

It is the gift of holy spirit that sanctifies us and sets up apart, so pneuma hagion should be lower case.

Romans 15:17-19
I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God.

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,

Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit [spirit] of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

The power we have is in the gift of holy spirit, so again, spirit should not be capitalised.

Romans 15:20-24
Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:

But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.

For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.

But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you;

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.

Paul is now going to handle money, at least in small part. Money is such a huge subject it is worthy of a book in its own right, but I'm only going to handle a couple of points here. For a more thorough understanding of money, read my class Understanding the Bible where I handle the subject in much more detail.

Romans 15:25,26
But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.

For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.

First of all, this money was being transported from believers in one area to believers in another area. It was absolutely not being transported from the headquarters of some ministry or religious organisation where everyone sent all their tithe money. God's money was kept in the home churches, and the home church leaders were the ones with the responsibility to steward that money and spend it. In this case, the believers in Macedonia and Achaia gave Paul some of God's money to take to believers in Jerusalem who were struggling financially.

Listen, God does not meet our needs by showering us with bank notes that flutter down from the sky, he energises the gift of holy spirit in believers who walk with Christ as their head to spend money where he wants it spent. If we send all God's money away to a temple made with hands to keep a council of men in comfortable lifestyles at our expense, the word will never live. We have to learn to use our money to take care of people in our home churches.

1 John 3:16-18
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

The key to understanding these verses as I've mentioned before is to understand the shutting up of the bowels. Compassion that wells up inside us is often how God energises in us to help someone. If we are walking by the spirit and God wells compassion up inside us to help someone, and we do nothing, how dwells the love of God in us? When Jesus Christ fed the multitudes with bread and fish, he did it because he walked by the spirit and God moved him with compassion.

Mark 8:2
I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat:

Conversely, if there is no compassion and yet we give all our money away we are just being religious and stupid. Those believers in Macedonia and Achaia were giving some of the tithe money to help the believers in Jerusalem who were struggling to make ends meet. Paul was heading that way so they gave the money to him to take to Jerusalem with him. Nothing difficult to understand about this once you scrub all the religious poo from your head. We have to learn to take care of each other and ensure everyone in our home churches has all their need met. That's what God's money is for. That is why the word moved so dramatically back then.

Romans 15:27-33
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.

When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.

And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.

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;

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;

That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.

Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

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