Romans 15 - May The God Of Peace Be With You

INTRODUCTION: Paul wanted his readers to know that whatever things were written before in scripture were for instruction to the believer's, to produce a firm hope through patience and through encouragement by application of those recorded words. Paul used a variety of Old Testament references, as well as statements about Christ Jesus, to validate the points he made for both Jew and Gentile believers. He had very warm regard for the believers at Rome and had wanted to visit there for many years. This chapter of Romans is in my own paraphrase, to some extent in an amplified style, prepared by examining several translations, and with some use of Greek and Hebrew lexicons.

NOTE: Verses in the comments are from the 1769 King James Bible.


A - LIVE IN HARMONY AFTER THE MANNER OF CHRIST JESUS

Romans 15 "1 Now we who are secure in our faith should support those who need more assurance, and not be satisfied to only please ourselves. 2 Let each one of us be agreeable to others around us for that which is good, to be building them up. 3 For even Christ didn't seek his own pleasure. But, as it is written, The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me. 4 And other passages such as that one were given that we might learn that through patient endurance and encouragement from the scriptures we could have hope. 5 Now may the God of patient endurance, consolation, and encouragement permit you to be in agreement with each other in harmony after the manner of Christ Jesus. 6 Then as you are of similar nature together you may be unified as you openly speak out to glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore accept one another, even as Christ also accepted you, to the glory of God. 8 For I say that Christ has been made a servant of the Jewish people for the truth of God, and he has established the certainty of the promises given to their forefathers. 9 Now the Gentiles can glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, Therefore will I give praise to you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name. 10 Again scripture says, Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people. 11 And, Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Let all the peoples praise him. 12 Isaiah says, There will be the root of Jesse, he who arises to rule over the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles will hope."

COMMENTS: Paul continued from the previous chapter, to present the idea of believers emulating the servant nature of Jesus as his earthly ministry was to present the gospel to all who would receive it into their hearts. Paul referred to some passages from Psalms and Isaiah to show that the ministry of Christ was verified in the Old Testament before he came in the flesh. Scriptures are recorded that can give us hope as we have commitment and encouragement shared among believers in harmony as we serve the Lord. Therefore as we accept one another we can speak out to glorify God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ.

Paul said Christ became a servant of the Jewish people for the truth of God, and thereby he established the certainty of the promises given to their forefathers. Many scriptures verify that Christ also opens the way for Gentiles to glorify God as they experienced his mercy to them. Therefore all people who accept the gift of mercy and grace from the Lord can together praise him as it was stated even in the Old Testament scriptures.

Though the truths were in part concealed within certain scriptures, they are now revealed through the first appearing of Christ. Paul had alluded to the reproach which had fallen on Jesus Christ, and that was a segment of a Psalm of David. Psalm 69 "7 Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. 8 I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children. 9 For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me."

The gospel of John gives the record of Jesus being quite zealous at the temple. John 2 "13 And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, 14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; 16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. 17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. 18 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? 19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said."


B - ABOUND IN HOPE BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

Romans 15 "13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may be fully supplied and overflow in a secure hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit. 14 I am convinced that you my fellow believers are full of goodness and kindness, liberally supplied with all manner of understanding, able also to advise, warn, and remind each other. 15 But I now write in a bold manner to remind you, on account of the merciful kindness that was bestowed upon me by God, 16 that I should be a servant of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. I serve as a preacher and teacher to deliver the Good News of God that the Gentiles may become as an offering made acceptable, through the setting apart to holiness and consecration by the Holy Spirit. 17 I have therefore my rejoicing and boasting only in Christ Jesus in those things relating to God. 18 For I will not presume to speak of anything except that which Christ has done through me, for the willing compliance of the Gentiles, by my speech and conduct, 19 in the power of miracles and amazing signs, in the power of God's Spirit; so that from Jerusalem, and all around as far as to Illyricum, I have to the full extent preached the Good News of Christ; 20 purposely making it my goal not to preach that gospel in places where Christ was already named, so as not to build on the foundation of another. 21 But, as it is written, They will see, to whom no news of him came. They who haven't heard will understand."

COMMENTS: Our secure hope is in the power of the Holy Spirit within us, and we need to accept all other believers because that is true for them as well. Paul commended the believers at Rome for their maturity in the faith, being able to accept and build up each other. But he went on to write about his designated ministry while giving all glory to God. He said he was to deliver the gospel of salvation to Gentiles, and that process was guided through him by the Holy Spirit so they could be consecrated as an acceptable offering to the Lord. So the joy he had was from the things he shared through his speaking and personal conduct, including the power of miracles and signs which Christ had done through him.

From Jerusalem and throughout many territories and cities he moved around to preach the gospel message where there were no established churches. Paul had been at various points in Asia, Macedonia, and Achaia in his travels over many years. when he used the reference of "all the way to Illyricum" he was speaking of an area west of Thessalonica, which would have been the farthest point west in his travels at that time. Illyricum is not mentioned anywhere else in scripture. Paul did not want to take the gospel message to areas that had already been evangelized by someone else, as he respected the gospel foundations that had already been laid. Paul applied the general sense of a passage he referenced from Isaiah as the purpose of his appointed ministry. Isaiah 52 "15 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for [that] which had not been told them shall they see; and [that] which they had not heard shall they consider."


C - PAUL ASKED FOR PRAYER FOR HIS TRIP TO JERUSALEM

Romans "22 Because of my desire to teach in unevangelized territory, I was hampered and impeded these many times from coming to you. 23 But now that I no longer have any new place within these regions, and for many years I have greatly longed to see you, 24 whenever I start my travel to Spain, I will stop in Rome. For I have confident expectation to visit with you on that journey, and to receive support from you to continue on to Spain, if first in some measure I may be satisfied and refreshed by being with you. 25 But for now I will complete my trip to Jerusalem to serve the believers there. 26 For the Gentile believers in Macedonia and Achaia have willingly and with great pleasure made a collection of contributions as gifts for the poor among the believers who are at Jerusalem. 27 Yes, they have done this willingly with love, and they indeed are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have come into fellowship with them in spiritual things, they have a duty also to sacrificially share with them in material things. 28 When therefore I have arrived with the collections, and have completed delivery of this gift of love to them, I will then come to you before I go on to Spain. 29 I know with certainty that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness and overflowing abundance of the blessing of the gospel message of Christ. 30 Now I earnestly and humbly ask you my fellow believers, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit, that you vigorously pray, also as I will be praying to God, 31 that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient and unbelieving in Judea, and that my charitable service which I have for Jerusalem may be well received by the believers there. 32 And afterward that I may come to you in joy and delight through the determined will of God, and find rest and refreshment together with you. 33 Now may the God of peace be with you all. Amen."

COMMENTS: Paul had longed to visit with the believers in Rome because he knew a number of them personally, as will be shown by his greetings in the final chapter of this letter. But he was dedicated to his primary service to the Lord to take the gospel especially to Gentiles in places that had not been given the gospel message. Now that he believed the territory all around had been adequately reached by him and others, his desire was to go west as far as Spain. But he had a generous gift from believers in Macedonia and Achaia to take to some needy believers in Jerusalem, and despite the danger he knew this could entail, he was determined to see that accomplished. This was important to him because the Gentiles who now shared in the spiritual blessings that first came to the Jews, could sacrificially share material gifts to show their common love for the Lord.

When that joyful task was completed, Paul wanted to go to Rome where he looked forward to having a time of refreshment with the believers, and perhaps even to get additional support for the work in Spain. Paul was filled with joy because many had received the abundant blessing of the gospel message of Christ. Paul said he was earnestly praying for the Lord to rescue him from those who were disobedient and unbelieving in Judea, and that the charitable gift he delivered would be well received, and that afterward he could enjoy time with them in Rome. He humbly asked that the believers in Rome pray for him about these matters. Paul then gave a blessing to them as he wrote, now may the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

The next outline section gives a variety of previous events that took place with Paul before he wrote this letter. Paul had wanted to go to Rome for some time as he said in the letter, and there were significant factors for the timing and for the route of his trip. It is interesting to see how the Lord remained faithful to Paul with answers that probably had not been in the thoughts of those who prayed.


D - PAUL TRAVELED TO ROME BY A DIFFERENT PLAN OF GOD

Acts 19 "19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all [men]: and they counted the price of them, and found [it] fifty thousand [pieces] of silver. 20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed. 21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. 22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season."

Acts 21 "18 And the [day] following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. 19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. 20 And when they heard [it], they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: 21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise [their] children, neither to walk after the customs. 22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come."

Acts 21 "30 And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut. 31 And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul. 33 Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded [him] to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done. 34 And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle."

Acts 23 "26 Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix [sendeth] greeting. 27 This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. 28 And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council: 29 Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds. 30 And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what [they had] against him. Farewell."

Acts 24 "26 He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. 27 But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound."

Acts 25 "8 While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all. 9 But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me? 10 Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. 11 For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar. 12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go."

Acts 28 "30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, 31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him."

COMMENTS: While Paul was at Ephesus for his last recorded visit, he "purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome." When Paul finally arrived at Jerusalem he was advised by the elders to observe a ceremonial practice at the temple to demonstrate that he still followed the laws of Moses since there were thousands of Jewish believers who had heard he was teaching Jews to ignore those customs and laws. While at the temple he was viciously attacked by Jews who wanted to kill him, and a large mob quickly formed and caused a great disturbance. However, he was rescued from the crowd by Roman soldiers, who later transported him safely to the Roman governor Felix at Caesarea to protect him from a plot to kill him on the way.

Paul was a prisoner at Caesarea for two years because Felix did not take any final action in favor of either Paul or the deceptive Jews who wanted Paul killed. When Festus replaced Felix as governor at Caesarea, Paul eventually appealed to Caesar which was his right as a Roman citizen. That set in motion his journey to Rome as a somewhat privileged Roman prisoner. That turned out to be a perilous journey by ship. We have no record in scripture of his release after he arrived at Rome, and the book of Acts closed by stating that he was in his own rented house for two years. Paul was able to continue sharing the gospel with people in Rome, and to write letters to various churches while under Roman guard in house arrest. Paul was indeed rescued, but it probably was in much different ways from the expectations as prayers were offered for him.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord, I ask that by your Spirit I will make it my continuing goal to live in harmony with other believers because you are the God of patient endurance, consolation, and encouragement. Thank you Jesus for coming in flesh to show the manner of living for those people all around the world who will trust in you alone for eternal life. Though I may struggle against my fallen nature, I know my God can supply the joy and peace that I need to live for my Lord and Savior. Thank you for the reminder to me from Paul that I have become as an offering made acceptable, through the setting apart to holiness and consecration by the Holy Spirit. This is more than I can fully comprehend, but I praise my God for the mercy and grace I have received through the finished work of Christ. May I also remember that it is excellent to share spiritual blessings, but also good to share material blessings as all things belong to God our creator. When I make request in prayer, give me the confidence and trust that your provision will always be sufficient to my need, and the best results for furtherance of your kingdom. The peace supplied by my Lord and Savior surpasses all understanding, and the true joy of salvation can never be lost! Amen.

Published 22 July 2016