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Bible: What Does Romans 15 Teach Us About Salvation and Paul's Mission?
The Apostle Paul
Romans 15--Gentile Salvation/Paul's Mission to "Parts Unknown"
Strong Put up with Weak
Paul concludes that strong believers ought to put up with weak believers, not selfishly do what they want to do regardless of the latter’s feelings (v. 1).
Each Christian should aim to strengthen his neighbor’s walk with the Lord (v. 2).
Pointing to Jesus as his Example, the apostle asserts that if Christ took upon Himself reproaches against God rather than satisfy His own desires, then they should likewise bear with their brothers’ weaknesses and not take advantage of their liberty (v. 3; cf. Ps. 69:9).
[What desires would He satisfy? What would He do to “please Himself”?]
The Old Testament
Is the Old Testament Important to Know?
Old Testament Questions
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Paul's Sometime Source
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Learn the Older Testament
Almost as a parenthesis, Paul inserts a mini-tutorial about why New Testament era Gentile believers ought to learn the Old Testament.
By learning from the exemplars of strength (comfort) and perseverance Scripture provides, the saints of this age will gain the divine wisdom that produces hope (v. 4).
The apostle prays that the God who authored the older revelation would give the Romans the mind of Christ, so that they would engage in unified worship of the Father (vv. 5-6).
Paul instructs his readers to follow Christ’s example of accepting weak people; by so doing, they also will bring God glory (v. 7).
Jesus ministers as a servant to Jews in order to confirm OT promises; this ministry will cause Gentiles to honor God because He showed them mercy (vv. 8-9a).
To demonstrate that the Lord would indeed show mercy toward the nations, the apostle cites four passages from the LXX (vv. 9b-12):
First, verse 9b expresses David’s desire to testify to the Gentiles about God’s salvation (Ps. 18:49).
Second, verse ten records Moses’ prayer that Gentiles accompany Israel in their joy before God (Deut. 32:43).
Third, verse eleven cites the psalmist’s exhortation that Gentiles might sing praise to the LORD (Ps. 117:1).
Fourth, verse twelve quotes Isaiah’s prophecy detailing the Gentiles’ hope in Israel’s Messianic King (Isaiah 11:1, 10).
Paul’s benediction asks the God of hope to strengthen the Romans’ faith in such a way that they would experience His joy and peace—attitudes that the Spirit would use to produce an abounding hope (v. 13).
The apostle expresses confidence that his Roman brethren, who are “full of goodness and filled with all knowledge,” could adequately warn each other about proper Christian deportment.
Nevertheless, he also believes that, in order to fulfill his role as a specially gifted servant of Jesus to the Gentiles, he needed to write them a bold letter to remind them of their responsibilities in these matters, so that he might present them to God as an acceptable offering, set apart by the Holy Spirit (vv. 14-16).
Having done so, he knows that he can now boast not in what Christ has not done, but in what He has supernaturally accomplished through him in reaching the Gentiles living in places as diverse as Jerusalem and Illyricum (the eastern shore of the Adriatic) [Ryrie, New Testament Study Bible, 285; vv. 17-19].
Paul asserts that he intended to proclaim Christ where the Lord was unknown in order to fulfill Scripture that spoke about the “frontier” mission work that the Messiah’s followers would accomplish (cf. Acts 1:8).
He did not wish to preach the gospel among people whom someone else had already reached (vv. 20-21; cf. Is. 52:15).
The Place Where the Church Meets For Worship
Gospel Ministry to "Parts Unknown"
Paul designates this itinerant ministry to “parts unknown” as the reason he could not visit the Romans earlier (v. 22).
Having accomplished all that he could do in those regions, he now promises to fulfill his desire to see them whenever he is “in the area”—say, on his way to Spain—, and receive a love offering from them to help him arrive there (vv. 23-24).
Now, Paul intends to take ministry funds to the Jerusalem church from Grecian brethren who had contributed much to meet their needs (vv. 25-26; cf. 2 Cor. 8, 9).
As debtors to the saints in Jerusalem for sending them the gospel, the believers in Greece feel nothing but pleasure to help them financially (v. 27).
After he accomplishes this particular errand, Paul informs them that he plans to travel to Spain via Rome where he intends to come uplifted in spirit because of the blessings he will have received in Jerusalem (vv. 28-29).
The apostle’s final words before his last chapter—a lengthy passage in which he greets various acquaintances—consist of an urgent plea that the Romans pray earnestly for him (v. 30). He requests that God would
(1) protect him from Jewish unbelievers in Judea (v. 31a);
(2) make his service acceptable to the Jerusalem church (v. 31b); and
(3) give him a safe, joyful arrival in Rome and refreshment among them (v. 32).
Paul concludes his major remarks by praying that these brethren in Christ would experience God’s peace (v. 33).
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