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ROMANS 15:1-15:33
Last updated 06/29/01

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. 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. Now the God of patience and consolation 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. 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: 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. 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. 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 one another. 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. 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 of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. 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. 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. 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.

Introduction

The first few verses of this chapter conclude the sub-section of 14:1-15:3, and continue with several summary statements.

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

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

The "strong" in this context includes Paul as this includes both Jew and gentile in Yeshua. (Though his instruction is directed toward gentiles within this sub-group.) Paul's instruction is to "bear the infirmities of the weak" and "to please his neighbor," for the purpose of "edification."

Again, note that it is the "strong" (the gentiles he is addressing), who have the responsibility, as part of their faith, to understand and respect the halakha of the Jews, even to the extent of modifying their own behavior as to not offend them as this may permanently drive them away from Yeshua, and even inadvertently blaspheme God. (See notes to Romans 14:16.)

The term "edification," is oikodomee in the Greek, and  has to do with the "act of building." This is consistent with Paul's message here and in his other letters (i.e., Ephesians) where he is concerned with the Jewish and gentile followers of Yeshua, coming together as "stones" that build up the body of Messiah.

Note that Paul refers to the "weak" as the "neighbor" to the strong, establishing a link back to Romans 13:9-10.

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

The model for gentile believers to follow is Messiah Himself, who did not exercise His rights, serving others instead so they would be built up. The "ability" of the "strong" carries with it an obligation. Gentiles are not to to "slaves of sin" (asserting their "right" to act any way they want within their faith), but are to be "slaves of righteousness" who are able to please their "neighbor" (the Synagogue Jew), by observing dietary lawas, thereby building them up.

In this way, these Jews (the "weak"), will see the grace of God that has come to the gentiles through Yeshua, giving validity (in their eyes) to Paul's ministry, resulting in more of them coming to faith. (Refer to Romans 11:11-13 where Paul's desire to "provoke" these Jews to jealousy is tied directly to "magnifying his office.")

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

The "things written aforetime for our learning" is the Tenakh (the "Old Testament"), which was the only "Bible" at the time the letter of Romans was written.

Paul's comment resembles that which he made in his letter to Timothy, where he instructed him that the Scriptures were all Timothy needed for his faith. Thus, the entirety of faith in Yeshua in Messiah is based in the Tenakh. The Tenakh was all the disciples used to preach Yeshua from. When Paul praised the Bereans (Acts 17:11), for checking the Scriptures to see if what he taught about Yeshua was true, it was the Tenakh they were looking at.

When Yeshua, Paul or any of the other "New Testament" writers, speak of "the Word of God," it is the Tenakh they refer to. When both Paul and James said we are to be "both hearers and doers of the Word," they meant we are all to learn God's Torah from the Tenakh, and make it part of our lives. When John wrote (1 John 2:2-4) that that those claiming to be of the faith yet not following his "commandments" were liars, he meant those who did not follow the Torah.

Another way to consider this is as follows. If any first century gentile heard Paul preach about Yeshua, and asked the apostle, "What am I to learn and do, now that I want to follow the Messiah?", that gentile would have been told to attend the Sabbath services at the local synagogue as this was the only place he would hear the Scriptures taught (i.e., Acts 15:21). There was no "New Testament" written yet -- Paul did not have any "What Would Jesus Do?" booklets to hand out. Faith in Yeshua remained the faith of Israel with its Torah. Gentiles were now welcome to be part of this with it (Torah) ordinances (Ephesians 10:10-13), not some new Torah-less faith.

It is ta strange twist of history, that today, when someone comes to "Jesus," their entire faith is based not on the Tenakh, but on some interpretation of the "New Testament" which typically stands in opposition to what the Tenakh teaches. (i.e., We no longer follow the faith of Israel and God's Torah, but a replacement faith not grounded in Torah.) How many churches actually hand out paperback "New Testaments" (without the Tenakh), to "new believers?" The cart is continually placed in front of the horse.

The book of Romans and the rest of the books of the "New Testament" were never meant to be read outside of the context of a Hebrew understanding of the Tenakh. (See, Not Subject to the Law of God? in the YashaNet Library.)

5-12

The Shema is the foundation behind the verses in this section. Gentiles are to learn from the Hebrews Scriptures the instruction needed so they could be of "like mind in Yeshua," worshipping God with the faithful of Israel in one voice. (Re: 4:1-25)

This portion is really the climax of the entire letter. Paul's vision is for a body of unified Jews and gentiles that fulfills the eschatalogical promises of Scripture.

Now I say that Yeshua the Messiah was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:

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.

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

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

In these sumamry verses, Paul defines how Yeshua establishes Torah and is its goal. Yeshua has become a servant to the gentiles and so must the "strong" (i.e., gentile believers, see 12:1-4, 15:1-3.)

Again, key to understanding these verses is Paul's view of the Shema. Paul illustrates from scripture that the eschatalogical expectation of gentiles worshipping in the midst of Israel had begun. God is to be the One God of the Jew (first) and also the gentile (i.e., Romans 1:16).

Verses 13-32

The theme in these verses is one of (gentile) obedience. Paul preaches a gospel that is to result in the obedience of faith. We see a further appeal to oneness in Yeshua and Torah. Paul mentions his bold reminder again, so his offerings of the gentiles may be acceptable and sanctified, and he again speaks (boasts) of obedience of the gentiles as a result of his proclaiming of the Gospel (echoing 1:5).

16  That I should be the minister of Yeshua the Messiah to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

17  I have therefore whereof I may glory through Yeshua the Messiah in those things which pertain to God.

18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Messiah hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed.

Paul reiterates his opening statement from chapter 1, that his mission to the gentiles is one of teaching them "obedience." The reference to "word and deed" in verse 18, is the same as taught by Paul, earlier in this letter and also by "James" (Jacob!) in his espistle -- We are to be both hearers and doers of the Torah.

What will make the gentiles "acceptable" is a humble faith that looks to the higher purpose of God, particularly with regard to Israel.

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

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

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

This is an interesting sequence of verses. In verses 20 and 21 Paul states how his mission has been to "preach the gospel" in various places. In verse 22, he says this has also been his plan for those in Rome -- yet these are already "believers." Why would they need to hear "the Gospel?"

Clearly, something has been "missing" from what they are practicing -- that being a proper Torah-based foundation, as the Roman congregation seems to not have ben founded by one of Yeshua's direct disciples, but rather came up on its own, following the events of Acts, chapter 2.

Paul clarifies his desire in verse 29, below.

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

The "fulness of the blessing of the Gospel" is the key term. Although the congregation knows of Yeshua, they do not have the "entirety" of what they need -- that being the complete message of the relationship of their faith to the destiny of Israel.

It is interesting how many lessons are taught in Christianity, that are based from Romans. The book of Romans is considered by many to be the doctrinal bastion of the Christian faith. The message for Christians is taught primarily out of chapters 1 through 8. Rarely if ever, does one hear a sermon preached on the themes found in chapters 9 through 11, or one on any part of Romans as interpreted in the context of chapters 9-11.

The "fulness" of the gospel has been lost and replaced by something alien to Paul, Yeshua, and the faith of Israel.


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