Romans 15:1-13

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, December 7, 2015 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.’ For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written: ‘Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.’
Again, it says, ‘Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.’
And again, ‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him.’
And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.’
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:1-13)

As always, we need to read each passage of Scripture in its broader context. Here, Paul is wrapping up his discussion from Romans 14 on the disagreements between those with strong faith and those with weak faith in the Roman church. He wraps up his argument here with a couple main concluding thoughts: (1) put others before your own needs, and (2) seek unity so that God will be praised.

Paul’s whole point in this discussion is that as followers of Jesus Christ, we should put the needs of others before our own desires. But why is that important? So that God will be praised. This is what Paul is saying in verses 5-6: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We need to strive to have the same attitude as Jesus, which is to constantly encourage one another. This can only happen if there is unity among the believers, and unity among the believers can only happen if we are unified in Christ.

But what is unity? Unity doesn’t mean that we all have to agree on every little detail, but rather that we’re all working together for a common goal. As followers of Jesus, our common goal must be to give God glory and praise. If we’re all fighting with one another, we’ll showing our selfishness and our lack of unity, not praising God. Unity means coming together to praise God, and to put Him above all else in our lives. When we are unified, we share the same overall beliefs and the same purpose.

We can’t be unified if we do not accept one another, and that language of acceptance is shown through Paul’s discussion. Back in Romans 14:1, he encouraged the strong to accept the weak. In Romans 14:3, he pointed out how God accepted all of them. Here in Romans 15:7, Paul tells the Romans (and us) to accept one another as Christ accepted you. All of this acceptance leads to unity, which leads to God being praised. Unity is not the end goal, but simply a stepping stone to our ultimate purpose of giving God glory.

Unity can only happen when we don’t have divisions and barriers between us. For the church in Rome, the fact that some were Jews and some were Gentiles was a huge barrier for them. Paul is trying to break down that wall in verses 8-12. When God’s promises are fulfilled, both the Jews and Gentiles benefit from them. All of the Old Testament quotes that Paul gives here support that idea. It’s interesting to note that Paul is quoting from all 3 main sections of the Jewish Scriptures here: the Torah (law) with Deuteronomy 32:43, the prophets with Isaiah 11:10, and the writings with Psalm 18:49. Paul is using the unity of the sections of of the Old Testament to unify the Gentiles with the Jews.

The gospel is what breaks down any barriers, whether between Jews and Gentiles, or any other groups. It’s Paul’s desire for the church in Rome to be filled with hope, joy, peace, and the power of the Holy Spirit (verse 13). These can only happen when the church is unified as a body, and that unity can only happen when they are all unified with Christ.

Are you filled with hope, joy, peace, and the power of the Holy Spirit in your life? If not, what disunity is holding you back? Think about that this week.

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