Romans Chapter 15 Commentary – Are You Strong?

Today, let’s dive into the beautiful New Testament letter to the Romans, specifically Romans chapter 15. But before we jump into the heart of this chapter, let’s take a quick stroll through its neighboring streets in chapter 14.

Chapter 14 of Romans addresses the delicate dance of Christian liberty and love. Paul paints a picture of a community struggling with differences in matters like diet and observance of certain days. Yet, woven into this discussion is a profound call to unity and love. Paul urges us not to let our freedoms become stumbling blocks for others but to prioritize the edification of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Now, fast forward to Romans chapter 15, where this theme continues to unfold. Here, Paul encourages believers to imitate Christ’s example of selflessness and bear with the failings of others. It’s a powerful reminder that our liberty in Christ isn’t just for our own benefit but to uplift and strengthen those around us.

As we unpack Romans 15, we’ll discover how our faith isn’t lived out in isolation but within the context of community. It’s about more than just what we can do; it’s about how we can use our freedom to build up, encourage, and support one another in our walk with Christ.

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Romans Chapter 15:1-8 – The Example of Christ Jesus

In this first section of Romans 15, the apostle Paul uses the example of Christ to show the importance of using our liberty to build up others.

Verses 1-2

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

From the context of Romans chapter 14, we understand that the phrase “we who are strong” refers to those who are strong in faith compared to those who are weak in faith. 

If a person considers themself to be stronger in faith than another they should use that strength to encourage and edify the other, not only to serve themselves and certainly not to ridicule or look down on the weak one. Strong believers need to use the truth of God and the comfort of the scriptures to encourage the weaker brother.

As we maintain this kind of attitude we are better equipped to walk in the footsteps of Christ.

Verse 3

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For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”

The ministry Christ accomplished during His time on earth was not for the sake of Himself. He came as a servant giving His life as an offering for the glory of God.

Philippians 2:5-8 – Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

At the end of Romans 15 verse 3, Paul quotes King David from Psalm 69. Jesus was persecuted and suffered wrongly for God’s glory. This command fulfilled by Jesus applies to us as well. We must persevere in faith and righteousness even when it’s hard. 

As we walk in love serving others, we imitate our Lord and bring glory to God and His kingdom.

Romans Chapter 15:4

Romans 15:4

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

The authors of the various books in the Bible may not have been writing to us who are reading their words today, but all scripture has been God-breathed and written for us. The scriptures reveal to us the very character and nature of God, and they impart wisdom, knowledge, strength, and encouragement to endure in faith and righteousness. 

Verses 5-7

May the God of patience and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

The strength and endurance these believers in Rome needed was strength to live in unity with each other. Very early in the book of Romans, we learn that the church in Rome consisted of Jew and Gentile believers. This brought an interesting mixture of ideas and religious practices. 

Instead of allowing these differences to cause division, Paul wanted them to focus on what unites them. They have been brought together as one body through Christ.

Ephesians 2:11-16 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 

We are to welcome each other as Christ has welcomed us to share in the inheritance of His chosen people.

Romans Chapter 15:8-13 – Christ The Hope of Jews and Gentiles

For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
    and sing to your name.”

10 And again it is said,

“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”

11 And again,

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
    and let all the peoples extol him.”

12 And again Isaiah says,

“The root of Jesse will come,
    even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Paul quotes from a number of Old Testament references to show that God has always wanted to receive praise from the Gentiles. While there may have been multiple reasons for the Jewish Christians and Gentiles to separate from one another, they all could unite to give praise to God as servants of Christ Jesus.

Isn’t this still true for us? If we look around at our churches today it doesn’t take long to find reasons to divide and separate. I believe this is why we see so many denominational walls. It grieves my heart. 

Like these believers in Rome, we must focus on what unites us instead of all that divides us.

Romans 15:14-21 – Paul’s Ministry to the Gentiles

Romans 15:13

In this portion of Romans 15 we see Paul’s great desire for his ministry to the Gentiles.

Verses 14-15

I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. 15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God

Paul didn’t write this letter to the Romans because they lacked the knowledge or ability to live the Christian life, but rather he wanted to remind them to walk in the things that they knew were right.

Such a great application for us! So often, our disobedience to to walk in God’s righteousness is not because we lack the knowledge or ability. It’s because we choose to live according to the flesh rather than according to the Spirit. Paul spent most of Romans chapters 6-8 explaining what it means to live in the Spirit. The Spirit empowers us to overcome our flesh and walk in righteousness.

Verse 16

 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 

Paul relates the gospel ministry to the priestly ministry of the Old Testament. The role of the priesthood was to represent man to God by offering sacrifices that would atone for sin and bring pleasure to God regarding His people.

God had called Paul to take this ministry to the Gentiles. This was his priestly service and offering to God.

As children of God we have been given a similar priestly ministry. Christ has commissioned us to share the gospel message with the people around us as an act of worship. 

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19

Sharing the gospel is how we present offerings to God that are acceptable and pleasing.

Romans Chapter 15:17-19

In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. 18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ.

Jesus Christ gets all the glory for Paul’s ministry. Paul does not attempt to take any credit for his work in bringing the gospel to the Gentiles, but rather he boasts in what the Spirit has done through Him.

There are a couple of really good applications in this for us. First of all, we must remember to lean on the power of the Holy Spirit in our ministry. Our own strength is not sufficient to bear lasting fruit for God’s Kingdom. 

Secondly, our work is for the glory of God. So often we fall into the trap of wanting to receive the glory for ourselves. Our ministry becomes more about building our own name and our own kingdom that we lose sight of God’s glory. 

If you’ve ever been caught in this web, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It only leads to burnout and disappointment.

We must continually ask God to give us a desire for His glory and let that motivate all do.

Verses 20-21

and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, 21 but as it is written,

“Those who have never been told of him will see,
    and those who have never heard will understand.”

The main focus of Paul’s ministry was to the Gentiles who had never heard the gospel. He wanted to spread the name of Christ into every region. 

In Acts 13 we see the Jews continued refusal to accept Paul’s message of the gospel. This leads to a shift in his ministry to take the gospel to the Gentiles. 

Romans 15:22-33 – Paul’s Plan to Visit Rome

In this final section, Paul lays out his plan to visit the Romans after his journey to Jerusalem.

Verses 22-24

This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. 23 But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, 24 I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while.

This pioneering work which God has called him to has hindered him from visiting these Roman Christians, yet he longs to see them.

He wants them to know that he plans to visit them on his way to Spain. If we read the last chapters of Acts, we learn that Paul did in fact make it to Rome, not as a missionary but as a prisoner. God orchestrated a plan to give Paul an opportunity to share the gospel with Ceasar.

Verses 25-29

At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. 28 When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. 29 I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.

Paul announces that his plan to visit Spain must wait until after he travels to Jerusalem. Paul had just spent time with the Gentile believers in the regions of Macedonia and Achaia. They have given a monetary gift to Paul to be delivered to the Jewish believers in Jerusalem. Paul mentions that this gift is good and proper because they have come to share in the spiritual blessings of the Jews. 

It seems as though there may be a hidden message in this statement. Remember that these Christians in Rome were made up of Jews and Gentiles. In a way, Paul is using the Gentile believer’s generosity to the Jewish believers in Jerusalem as an example of how the Romans are to love one another.

Verses 30-33

 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. 33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Paul finishes off this section of his letter with a request for prayer. The phrase “strive with me” is an invitation to share in his ministry. The believers in Rome could partner with Paul in his work among the Gentiles by praying for him. 

This applies to us as well. We can partner with others through the power of prayer. In fact, this is one of the greatest ways we can help and support each other. 

Paul asks, specifically, that he be delivered from the unbelievers. Paul had faced much persecution for his ministry. He didn’t want this persecution to hinder his ability to visit them. He also asked that they pray for the success of his ministry in Jerusalem and that his message would be accepted.

As we come to the close of our journey through Romans 15, may our hearts be stirred with gratitude for the boundless grace and love of our Savior, Jesus Christ; the Word of God. Let’s not only be hearers of the Word but doers, putting into practice the principles of love, unity, and selflessness that Paul so beautifully articulates.

As we stand on God’s promises, let’s embrace the challenge to use our liberty in Christ not for our own will, but as an opportunity to pursue the will of God. Let’s walk hand in hand, bearing one another’s burdens, and rejoicing in each other’s victories. As the people of God let’s set our ambitions on the things of His Kingdom.

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