Romans 15:1-3 God through our salvation has created unity that we did not have before. The unity of believers is the concern of our Messiah (John 10:16). God’s plan is that all who believe in Him will become unified in Him through faith in His Son (John 17:11).
It is through the indwelling of the Spirit that spiritual unity of believers is to be expressed in selfless service to each other. This was one of the unique marks of the first century Church where we see them day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people (Romans 15:41-42, 44-47).
This is what God calls us to today as Paul writes in Ephesians 4:2-3. The key ingredient for this kind of unity and harmony in the church is “a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other” (Colossians 3:12-13).
Peter call Believer’s to live in brotherly harmony with humility and meekness (1 Peter 3:8). Romans 15 teaches us about the vital importance of unity in the church it is based on two principles. The first is pleasing one another by following the example of our Lord (Romans 15:1-6), and the second is rejoicing with one another over God’s plan of redemption (Romans 15:7-13).
The responsibility for pleasing one another falls on all believers, but especially to those of us who are strong who should be able to carry the weak. This is exactly what the Lord did for His disciples and for us as well (1 John 2:6;3:16;4:11). The Lord tolerated their selfishness and self-centeredness this was Paul’s call to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9:19-22).
We have been set free not to just please ourselves, not looking out for our own interests but primarily on the interests of others. We are called to please our neighbors for their edification and not our own. The “attitude … in Christ Jesus” was not to please Himself (Philippians 2:6-8). Yeshua came to please His Father and to accomplish His Father’s will (John 4:34). The Father did not force His Son to leave His glory and take on flesh and to die for the world’s sins, He did it willingly.
Romans 15:4-6 Submission to God’s Word gives us the ability to please one another rather than preferring to please ourselves. As we study God’s dealings with Israel and understand their failures and their victories we learn. Understanding God’s Law reveals to us the character of God and the history of Israel shows us how obeying and disobeying the call to abide in His commands yields either blessings or judgment. Paul reminded believers of this in 1 Corinthians 10:1-11.
The word in the NIV endurance is elsewhere translated as perseverance, which is closely related to patience. Perseverance or endurance is both commanded of us and given to us by God, as Paul assures us in verse 5. God gives us the encouragement we need to persevere by means of the Scriptures which gives us the faith we need to keep believing (Romans 10:17). The Scriptures and the faith that it brings also gives us hope; We know that God’s living Word, His Son “Christ Jesus, … is our hope” (1 Timothy 1:1).
What is so wonderful about our God is that endurance that God calls us to is given to us by Him. We are granted the endurance we need when we come to Him in prayer according to Romans 15:5. In answer to prayer God will also give us the unity and harmony that He calls us to.
Essentially prayer is calling on God and agreeing that His Will should be done. It is asking Him to conform our minds to His. He is calling us to be untied in areas that the Scriptures allow us to have freedom, and areas that His Spirit has caused us to be different for the complete work of God in the world through His church.
The consummate purpose of Christian unity, however, is not to please other believers, as essential as that is, but to please the Lord, both inwardly and outwardly and both individually and corporately. When we are in unity through our prayer and worship that we are truly able fully glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This also is a call to us to understand the unique relationship that Yeshua has with the Father and a further reference to His deity.
Romans 15:7-12 This verse is a summary of v 5-6 calling us to accept one another just as Yeshua has accepted us. We need to always remember in dealing with other believers all that God put up with us when we were new or immature in our faith. Yeshua said in (Matthew 10:40) “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. To accept other believers is to accept our Messiah.
We are to learn from Messiah His ways in dealing with each other Matthew 11:29. From the context of these verse and many other passages throughout this letter to the Romans we can see that Paul has in mind the unity that God calls us to and especially between Jews and Gentiles. Consider these verses that are completely through this letter (Romans 1:4-5;13-14,16;2:24;3:29;10:12-13;11:11-12,25).
Yeshua was of course born Jewish to be a servant first among His own than through His Spirit and the Church to call the Gentiles to faith. Paul was able to explain the mystery of God by explaining to the Jewish believers His work among the Gentiles. For it in Messiah that the Messianic Rule of Israel will come about among the Nations, since Israel failed to bring them to obedience because of their failure to comprehend the love of God through the Law or Scriptures.
The Jewish believer can not be upset that God did in the Gospel what they failed to do through the truth of God’s Law. In the same way the Gentile cannot be upset with the Jews because it was through the Jews that God brought them the message of salvation in the Gospel.
Romans 15:13 – Paul closes this passage with a benediction of prayer on behalf of all of God’s people. He calls upon God to grant them His joy and peace and hope through the power of the indwelling Spirit of God, who makes them one in Jesus the Messiah their Lord.
In Romans 15:15-16 Paul explains why in spite of such a good report about God’s work in the Church of Rome he wrote this letter to them. While this letter to Rome contains no rebukes it does give some serious warnings of problems that were looming on the horizon and that were somewhat present in the hearts of believers that were there.
He reminded them that we were to be “dead to sin and alive to God in Messiah Jesus” He warned them not to be proud that they were fully accepted as part of God’s people through the New Covenant Romans 11:24-25, and that they should not think of themselves more highly than they ought to think (Romans 12:3), to be in subjection to the governmental authorities, because they were established by God (Romans 13:1), and to pay taxes and to have proper respect for those to whom it is due (Romans 15:8).
These and other commands and admonitions were given not only as warning for them but as part of the authority given to him by God in explaining the laws or truths of the New Covenant. God had given him the grace and authority to do this. His letter was written with the full authority of God and has demonstrated over the ages that God’s hand was clearly on him to explain His truths to both Jew and Gentile alike showing how the law established the truths of the New Covenant. Paul sees his ministry as part of his role as a priest of God for which we all have been called (1 Peter 2:5,9).
Paul was very much aware that he was not born of the priestly tribe but rather called to be part of the universal priesthood of all believers, just as Israel was called universally to be priests to the nations. But Paul sensed that he was called in a special way to be the a priest to the nations interceding for them as well as legitimizing them to the Jewish Believers based on his understanding of Torah and the calling of God to Israel. Paul saw the Gentiles faith as an offering to God who through the Spirit of God were sanctified and made acceptable for holiness and fellowship with the God.
Romans 15:17-19 Paul saw all the fruit of his ministry as the work of God through him and not his work. This really is true of any fruit that comes from us that is pleasing to God it is the work of God’s Spirit in us causing us to walk and produce the good works that God has prepared through us Ephesians 1. Paul speaks of this to the church at Corinth when he says “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31;2 Corinthians 10:17).
Paul also saw his work as God causing obedience of the Gentiles to God. It is one thing to come to faith and then we are to become obedient, Israel’s failure to obey resulted in all kinds of discipline. Paul also saw that his ministry was to be by example not just in the proclamation and the call of the Gentiles to obedience. Then Paul shares with them that God confirmed his ministry with powerful signs and miracles that were the work of God’s Spirit.
Miracles are not always the sign of God’s approval but they were in Paul’s case. But the work of the Spirit in changing other people’s lives is certainly an affirmation. The apostolic age was rife with miracles since the transition from the Old to the New was so dramatic for both Jews and Gentiles; God gave his stamp to its authority by significant signs. This certainly was the case with Israel when God brought them out of Egypt.
He demonstrated to Egypt that these miracles were not the work of mere men. Even Pharaohs magicians bore witness that it was the hand of God after the third plague struck the land in Exodus 8:19. Finally Paul shares with them in this section that he has fully shared the Gospel to all who would hear.
To have fully preached the Gospel might mean that he withheld none of the essential truth’s of the Gospel or it might be a reference that he shared with every corner of the empire either personally or through those he has led and discipled in the Lord.
Romans 15:20-24 – Paul’s ministry was one of being a pioneer. There are some who are especially gifted in going to areas that have never been penetrated before with the Gospel and among other gifts this was a great gift that was given to Paul. Paul wrote most of this letter dealing with doctrinal truths, but as he closes his letter he shares with them his desire to be with them personally. In his closing we learn some of the plans Paul had if he had lived long enough to carry them through.
But what Paul makes clear here is that his plans depend on the will of the Lord. In the book of Acts Paul and Silas intended to go in a different direction but the Spirit of Yeshua did not allow them and then they were given the vision of the Macedonian call, and they saw why the Spirit was hindering them, He had other doors that He wanted to open and that is why at times other works were hindered (Proverbs 16:9).
Paul planned to go to Spain, but as we know he never made it there because he became a prisoner of the Roman government and was martyred for his faith. Spain was known earlier as Tarshish, the place to where Jonah sought to flee (Jonah 1:3). It was the western edge of the Roman Empire and it was made accessible because of the Roman roads.
Seneca, the Roman statesman and philosopher who tutored Nero and was prime minister of the Empire was from Spain, so it was a ripe area for the furtherance of the Gospel. It would be another 200 years before Spain would be evangelized. It was his plan to go to Spain by way of Rome which was the hub for major travel to the foreign outposts of the Empire and that the brethren would help him on his way. The help he was looking for was likely both logistical as well as perhaps some of the brethren to accompany him.
Romans 15:25-28 – But before Paul would go to Rome he needed to first go in the opposite direction to Jerusalem to help the believers there. The Jerusalem congregation was suffering from both persecution and from that poverty. The Book of Hebrews discusses or alludes to much of the persecution that they were experiencing and because it became so difficult many were considering denying the Lord and returning to Rabbinical Judaism.
In addition many foreign Jews who were coming to Jerusalem in obedience to the Law to celebrate the feasts were coming to faith and decided to remain in the city that they might grow. These new believers had to be provided for and so because of that great need, Paul had made an appeal to the churches of Macedonia and Achaia, who made a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:2-4).
Paul was committed to taking that offering, along with representatives of the Gentile churches who gave it, in order to promote harmony in the Body of Messiah, because there was distrust by the Jews of the Gentiles. The gifts from the Gentile churches that were also poor, was a powerful gesture of love and reconciliation.
Romans 15:25-29 – Before Paul would go to Rome he needed to first go in the opposite direction to Jerusalem to help the believers there. The Jerusalem congregation was suffering from both persecution and from that poverty. In addition many foreign Jews who were coming to Jerusalem in obedience to the Law to celebrate the feasts were coming to faith and decided to remain in the city that they might grow in their new faith.
These new believers had to be provided for and so because of that great need, Paul had made an appeal to the churches of Macedonia and Achaia, who made a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:2-4). Paul was committed to taking that offering, along with representatives of the Gentile churches who gave it, in order to promote harmony in the Body of Messiah, because there was distrust by the Jews of the Gentiles.
The gifts from the Gentile churches that were also poor, was a powerful gesture of love and reconciliation. Believers in Macedonia and Achaia not only were willing to give generously, but were pleased to do so. They gave because they acknowledged they were indebted to them because of the spiritual blessings they had received from the Jews.
This debt was not only for the past faithfulness of the Fathers but of the present as well in nurturing the new believers as well as writing the letters that was explaining the New Covenant. In return Paul tells them that when he comes to Jerusalem it would be with the blessings of Christ. It is the “gospel of Christ” and the blessing of it that Paul served. There is no other message or truth that can meet the needs that Rome had and us as well.
Romans 15:30-33 Paul then calls the Church at Rome to pray for him. It is not for himself that he asks but for the sake of the Lord Jesus. Paul’s one purpose in his life was for Jesus to be praised, worshiped, and served by all men. It was for the cause of His kingdom that asked for prayer. His request was for three areas in particular:
1) He needed deliverance from unbelievers who were rejecting, mocking, threatening, and persecuting him while he was sharing the Good News of eternal life with them.
2) He needed prayer that his ministry would be accepted by the Believers. Paul was constantly being opposed by fleshly believers. He wanted prayer that the believers understand his call and ministry. The churches to which he ministered needed to receive his spiritual gifts and to grow under his ministry.
3) And prayer that he might be allowed to carry out his world-wide vision and be refreshed by believers where he was called to go. While in the midst of requesting prayer, Paul broke out into prayer for the Roman believers that the God of peace be with them. It was the blessing of the God of peace that Paul sent to Rome and it was with the presence of the God of peace that he himself went to Jerusalem with all its threats. The man who has the peace of God in his heart can meet all the difficulties of life without worry or fear.