Romans Chapter Fifteen

Lifting Up The Weak

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In our study of Romans chapter fifteen, we will look at what it means to lift up the weak. We will begin by defining weakness and strength as it is related to our faith. Then we will look at how we all can be lifted up during our times of weakness.

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Romans 15:1

So we who are strong have a duty to bear the weaknesses of those who are not strong, rather than please ourselves.

This is related to the end of chapter fourteen as Paul was talking about religious restrictions on different foods. As we saw, when Paul was talking about being "strong in the faith" he was actually talking about Christians that were secure in the freedom that they had obtained through Yeshua Messiah. This freedom allowed them to eat any food that was put before them. The weak are those who felt that they could not eat the food without risking their salvation (they did not understand the freedom that was given to them on the cross). Here, Paul goes on to say that we who understand and are walking in our freedom should "bear with" those who don't understand. This is talking about the fact that we are not just to tolerate the actions and attitudes of those that are weaker in their faith but to lift them up. When they have doubts, we are to lovingly remind them of the freedom that they possess. When he speaks of "not to please ourselves", he is talking about the fact that, if our freedom makes the weaker brother uncomfortable, we willingly limit our freedom. In the case of the food, it was better to not eat it when your brother was around as it made him uncomfortable.

Romans 15:2

Each of us should please his neighbor and act for his good, thus building him up.

The purpose of our willingly limiting our freedom is to strengthen the faith of the weaker brother. How do we "build them up"? That is talking about the fact that we do not beat them up with our freedom by reminding them that God is happy with our obedience. If a Spirit filled believer listens to the prompting of the Spirit and follows, they are pleasing God. We can build them up by reminding them of the fact that they are acting on their convictions and that is a good thing.

Romans 15:3

For even the Messiah did not please himself;

Paul quotes from Psalm 69:9 where David was facing trouble in his own family and was still concerned about glorifying God. Paul is reminding the Romans that, in the same way, Yeshua left heaven and took on the form of man. He suffered through the punishment that we deserved so that we might have the freedom that we enjoy. In the same manner, we can bear with our fellow Christians that may be a little weaker in their understanding of that freedom.

Romans 15:4

For rather, as the Tanakh says, 'The insults of those insulting you fell on me.' everything written in the past was written to teach us, so that with the encouragement of the Tanakh we might patiently hold on to our hope.

The Scriptures that are referred to is what we would call the Old Testament and, here, we see their purpose for us New Testament saints. We might ask ourselves how this can bring encouragement and endurance in our faith. The answer is simple in that the whole Old Testament is a testimony of God's patience and love for his people. We get to see the failures of God's people and the fact that he never forsakes them. He is patient with their failings as over and over again they turn their backs on him. Through reading them we can have hope for those times when we fail as we remember that God never abandoned them. This can also help us to bear with other saints as they fail too.

Romans 15:5 & 6

And may God, the source of encouragement and patience, give you the same attitude among yourselves as the Messiah Yeshua had, so that with one accord and with one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.

Not only do we have the example of the Old Testament but we also have that of Yeshua. The "attitude of mind" that is referred to is that of peace. Often when a brother or sister in Christ is not doing what we think is scriptural, we will treat them like they are not even Christians. That is not the bearing with them that Paul is talking about and it is not the attitude of peace that Yeshua demonstrated.

Romans 15:7

So welcome each other, just as the Messiah has welcomed you into God's glory.

Yeshua met people where they were at in their lives and loved them with all of their faults. How much more should we as his disciples? Division in the family of God does not demonstrate his glory to the world. So, what does it mean to "accept"? It means we acknowledge the fact that those who are weaker in their faith still are of the same faith. It means accepting the fact that they are responsible for listening to the Spirit and following. It doesn't mean that we have to all get together and worship in the same place (that will happen when Yeshua returns).

Romans 15:8

For I say that the Messiah became a servant of the Jewish people in order to show God's truthfulness by making good his promises to the Patriarchs,

The entire Old Testament points to the fact that Yeshua would come into the world to deliver the Jews. God made promises to Abraham and Yeshua fulfilled them. It encourages us to know that God does not forget but instead keeps his promises even today.

Romans 15:9-12

and in order to show his mercy by causing the Gentiles to glorify God - as it is written in the Tanakh, "Because of this I will acknowledge you among the Gentiles and sing praise to your name." And again it says, "Gentiles, rejoice with his people." And again, "Praise ADONAI, all Gentiles! Let all peoples praise him!" And again, Yesha'yahu says, "The root of Yishai will come, he who arises to rule Gentiles; Gentiles will put their hope in him."

Not only did the entire Old Testament reveal the coming of Yeshua as Messiah but it also told of the fact that he would also come for the Gentiles. From the very beginning, God's plan was for both Jew and Gentile to be joined in worship of him. With this in mind, it makes anti-Semitism seem ridiculous!

Romans 15:13

May God, the source of hope, fill you completely with joy and shalom as you continue trusting, so that by the power of the Ruach HaKodesh you may overflow with hope.

Because God's mercy has been extended to us, we have peace with him. This brings us joy which wells up and springs forth through the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We can feel more secure in this hope as we read and study the Old Testament. As we see his plan in action we can be confident that he is in control and has his eyes on us. We can trust him because of the faithfulness that he demonstrated to Israel through the many years.

Romans 15:14

Now I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and well able to counsel each other.

Paul begins to wrap up this letter by explaining that he has confidence in them and their faith. Paul never acted like a "super saint" but instead imitated Yeshua in humility.

Romans 15:15 & 16

But on some points I have written you quite boldly by way of reminding you about them, because of the grace God has given me to be a servant of the Messiah Yeshua for the Gentiles, with the priestly duty of presenting the Good News of God, so that the Gentiles may be an acceptable offering, made holy by the Ruach HaKodesh.

Paul speaks here of what we would call accountability. He told the believers that they had the knowledge to know what to do but he had to boldly remind them. As Christians, we need to be a part of the body so that we have this type of accountability.

Romans 15:17-19

In union with the Messiah Yeshua, then, I have reason to be proud of my service to God; for I will not dare speak of anything except what the Messiah has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience by my words and deeds, through the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Yerushalayim all the way to Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the Good News of the Messiah.

Paul imitated the humility of Christ. He reminds the Romans that it is only the power of God at work that has accomplished his ministry to the Gentiles. This is the pattern that any Christian leader should follow.

Romans 15:20-22

I have always made it my ambition to proclaim the Good News where the Messiah was not yet known, so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation, but rather, as the Tanakh puts it, "Those who have not been told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand." This is also why I have so often been prevented from visiting you.

Paul was a church planter which involves going into areas that have not heard the gospel. He quotes from the prophet Isaiah (52:15) which was speaking of the beating of Yeshua to the point where he was nearly unrecognizable. Paul goes on to explain that he was busy traveling in the areas that had not heard the gospel. Even though he wanted to visit Rome, he desired more to complete the mission that God had given him. This too was a part of his humility as, instead of taking a victory lap to the churches, Paul was busy working.

Romans 15:23 & 24

But now, since there is no longer a place in these regions that needs me, and since I have wanted for many years to come to you, I hope to see you as I pass through on my way to Spain, and to have you help me travel there after I have enjoyed your company awhile.

Paul's work was done in the region and so he had plans to extend the gospel into Spain. He had put off visiting Rome to finish his mission and now was planning to visit them on the way.

Romans 15:25-27

But now I am going to Yerushalayim with aid for God's people there. For Macedonia and Achaia thought it would be good to make some contribution to the poor among God's people in Yerushalayim. They were pleased to do it, but the fact is that they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared with the Jews in spiritual matters, then the Gentiles clearly have a duty to help the Jews in material matters.

Before going to Spain, Paul had to deliver a collection for the poor Jews of the church in Jerusalem. It was not easy to be a Jew and a Christian in Jerusalem and so many of the believers were struggling and needing help. The churches that Paul had started collected an offering and sent Paul to share their concern with the church in Jerusalem.

Romans 15:28 & 29

So when I have finished this task and made certain that they have received this fruit, I will leave for Spain and visit you on my way there; and I know that when I come to you, it will be with the full measure of the Messiah's blessings.

Did Paul hint to the believers in Rome that he would face persecution in Jerusalem? It appears that he did and that he was convinced that he would be delivered to Rome.

Romans 15:30

And now I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Yeshua the Messiah and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God on my behalf

Paul knew that he was going to go into a battle when he went to Jerusalem. He asked the Roman believers to pray for him in this struggle.

Romans 15:31

that I will be rescued from the unbelievers in Y'hudah, and that my service for Yerushalayim will be acceptable to God's people there.

Paul was specific in what he wanted the Roman believers to pray about for him. We know from our study of Acts 20 that Paul knew that he was facing trouble when he went to Jerusalem. He asked the Romans to pray that he would be kept safe from that and that the offering that he was bringing would be acceptable to the church in Jerusalem. He was asking that the church in Jerusalem would understand that the offering was sent specifically for the poor brethren there and not to build a big building or to pay a pastor, etc.

Romans 15:32

Then, if it is God's will, I will come to you with joy and have a time of rest among you.

Paul made it clear that he would like to be delivered from the trouble but, even more than that, he wanted to be in God's will for his life. Avoiding the trouble (which he had been advised to do) would have made more sense but he knew that, if God allowed it, there was a greater purpose for it. The same goes for us today as, when we are going through troubles and facing opposition, God has a bigger purpose in mind.

Romans 15:33

Now may the God of shalom be with you all. Amen.

Paul asks God to comfort the believers in Rome and to give them peace. They would have been worried about his travel to Jerusalem.

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