Sunday, July 31, 2011

Commentary on Scripture: Romans 15

Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not just please ourselves.

Romans 15:1 ~~ Those who are strong are to be self-denying out of consideration for the weak.

Romans 15:2-3 ~~ "Each is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification." Paul draws an immediate comparison to Christ: God, being stronger than us, takes our weakness upon Himself and acts for our edification and not solely for His own glory.

Romans 15:4 ~~ "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction that through perseverance and the encouragement of Scriptures we might have hope." Interesting transition from "even Christ did not please Himself" to this thought, on the value of Scripture.

Romans 15:5-6 ~~ "Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement" [that is, the God who gave the Scriptures] "grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." God is Truth, Truth is one, and He intends for us to be of one mind. The unity and catholicity of the Church is absolutely essential.

Romans 15:7 ~~ "Therefore accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God." See also the section of the Lord's Prayer: "And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."

Romans 15:8-9 ~~ "Christ has become a servant to the circumcision" (that is, the Jews) "on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, and [a servant] for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy." Here's another element in the distinctions between Jews and Gentiles: God is faithful to the Jews for the sake of His truth, and to the Gentiles for the sake of His mercy.

Romans 15:9-12 ~~ Paul presents four passages on God's desire and outreach to the Gentiles, from Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalms 18:49 and 117:1, and Isaiah 11:10.

Romans 15:13 ~~ Paul launches a brief impromptu blessing as the epistle winds down. Lots of good and meaningful words here. I'm rather struck by the multiple endings that Romans contains: see also 15:33, 16:20, 16:24, and 16:27.

Romans 15:14 ~~ Paul speaks of three traits he saw in the Roman Church: that they were full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and (thus?) able to admonish one another. I think this is a particularly interesting formulation: in order to admonish (to correct and to teach), we must be filled with both a profound desire for the good and a profound wisdom, or understanding of the good.

Romans 15:15-16 ~~ Paul speaks of "the grace that was given me from God, to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit." This strikes me as a pretty direct statement treating the ordination of priests as a legitimate sacrament (sacrament being a vessel of special grace from God).

Romans 15:17-19 ~~ Paul has reason to boast: what God had accomplished through Him among the Gentiles, and the obedience he inspired among them by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit.

Romans 15:20-21 ~~ Paul intended to preach specifically where the name and gospel of Christ had not yet been heard.

Romans 15:22-25 ~~ Other obligations intervened, but Paul had long intended to take a trip to Spain and had hoped to stay in Rome during the trip.

Romans 15:25-28 ~~ Paul was sent to Jerusalem with an offering from Macedonia and Achaia. The Gentiles were indebted to the Jews to minister to them in materials things as they shared in spiritual things.

Romans 15:30-32 ~~ Paul asks the Romans to strive with him in prayer for (1) his rescue from "the disobedient," which we presume to be the unsaved Jews, and (2) his acceptance among the saints in the church at Jerusalem.

Romans 15:33 ~~ Paul offers an impromptu blessing to end the letter... again. He promptly continues with the personal greetings to actually conclude the letter.

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