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The Letter of Paul to the Romans: Chapter 15

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1We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor. 3For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 4For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. 5May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

7Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

“Therefore I will confess i Or thank you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name”; 10 and again he says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people”; 11 and again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him”; 12 and again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope.”

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

14I myself feel confident about you, my brothers and sisters, a Gk brothers that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another. 15Nevertheless on some points I have written to you rather boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16to 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. 17In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast of my work for God. 18For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished b Gk speak of those things that Christ has not accomplished through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, 19by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, c Other ancient authorities read of the Spirit or of the Holy Spirit so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news d Or gospel of Christ. 20Thus I make it my ambition to proclaim the good news, d Or gospel not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on someone else's foundation, 21but as it is written,

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

22This is the reason that I have so often been hindered from coming to you. 23But now, with no further place for me in these regions, I desire, as I have for many years, to come to you 24when I go to Spain. For I do hope to see you on my journey and to be sent on by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a little while. 25At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem in a ministry to the saints; 26for Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to share their resources with the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27They were pleased to do this, 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 things. 28So, when I have completed this, and have delivered to them what has been collected, e Gk have sealed to them this fruit I will set out by way of you to Spain; 29and I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing f Other ancient authorities add of the gospel of Christ.

30I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, a Gk brothers by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in earnest prayer to God on my behalf, 31that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my ministry a Other ancient authorities read my bringing of a gift to Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. 33The God of peace be with all of you. b One ancient authority adds 16.25–27 here Amen.


i Or thank

a Gk brothers

b Gk speak of those things that Christ has not accomplished

c Other ancient authorities read of the Spirit or of the Holy Spirit

d Or gospel

e Gk have sealed to them this fruit

f Other ancient authorities add of the gospel

a Other ancient authorities read my bringing of a gift

b One ancient authority adds 16.25–27 here

Text Commentary view alone
Commentary spanning earlier chapters

12.1–15.13 : Exhortation to holy living.

On the basis of the argument in previous chapters, Paul now exhorts the Christians of Rome to right conduct.

12.1 :

Holy living is spiritual worship ( 15.15–16 ), the op posite of “ungodliness” ( 1.21–28 ), made possible through baptism ( 6.12–23 ). Paul makes his “appeal” (the Gk phrase marks exhortations in his letters: 1 Cor 1.10; 2 Cor 10.1; 1 Thess 4.1; Philem 9 ) on the ba sis of the mercies of God ( 11.22–23,30–32 ) and the “grace given” to him as apostle (v. 3; 1.5; 15.15 ).

2 :

Christians are to live no longer as belonging to this world (Gal 1.4; Phil 2.15; 1 Cor 7.29–31 ). The renewing of … minds, possible because of baptism ( 6.4 ), enables discerning the will of God (see Phil 1.9; 3.8–9 ).

3–8 : A warning against arrogance.

3 :

I say, direct speech echoes 11.1,11,13 . Not to think … more highly, similar Gk phrases are translated “do not become proud” in 11.20 , and “do not be haughty”in v. 16 .

4–8 :

Gifts are given to nourish the community as one body in Christ; 1 Cor 12.4–31 provides a similar list.

14.1–15.13 : Exhortations regarding those who observe Torah.

The observance of special days (vv. 5–6 ) and a kosher diet (vv. 2,14n. ) are marks of Jewish observance. The Gentile Christians of Rome must not despise the observant (v. 3 ).

1–12 : Tolerance for others’ observance.

1–2 :

Those who eat only vegetables are most likely keeping kosher by avoiding “unclean” meat (v. 14 ), or meat “sacrificed to idols” (Acts 15.29; 1 Cor 8.1; Dan 1.3–16; Esth 3.28; 14.17; Jdt 12.1–2 ). Paul calls them weak in faith (or “conviction”), not because they adhere to the Torah (see vv. 4,6; 7.12 ), but because they are scandalized by Gentile Christians who eat nonkosher food (vv. 13,15,20 ).

4 :

The Lord is able, 11.23 .

5–9 :

Jews and Gentiles can, each in their own way, live in honor of the Lord.

11 :

Isa 45.23 .

13–23 : Freedom is notlicense to give offense.

13 :

Stumbling block … hindrance, 9.32–33; 1 Cor 8.9 .

14 :

Nothing is unclean in itself, lit. “common,” as opposed to “clean” (v. 20; 1 Macc 1.47,62; Mk 7.19; Acts 10.14; 11.8 ). For the observant, however, nonkosher food is unclean.

17 :

The kingdom of God, a rare phrase in Paul's letters (1 Cor 4.20; 6.9–10 ).

19 :

Peace … mutual upbuilding, 1 Cor 14.3–5,12,26 .

20–23 :

Faith does not allow one to violate the conscience of others, e.g., by encouraging them to act against their conscience.

15.1–13 : Christ's example.

1 :

Put up with the failings of the weak, lit. “sustain the powerless in their weaknesses” (Gal 6.2 ).

2–3 :

Ps 69.9 is read in terms of Christ's humbling himself (Phil 2.5–8; 2 Cor 8.9 ).

4 :

See 4.23–25; 1 Cor 9.10 .

5–6 :

The goal of Paul's exhortation is that Gentiles and Jews should with one voice glorify … God.

8 :

Christ came to confirm the promises given to Israel ( 9.3–5 ).

9 :

Ps 18.49 .

10 :

Deut 32.43 .

11 :

Ps 117.1 .

12 :

Isa 11.10 . (The Gk word for Gentiles in vv. 9–12 also means “nations.”)

15.14–32 : The letter's argument brought to a close.

14–16 :

Despite confidence in the Romans ( 1.8,11,12 ), Paul has written boldly, compelled by the grace given him ( 1.5 ).

16 :

Minister … priestly service, Paul will present a holy offering to God, i.e., the Gentile Christians themselves ( 1.9; 12.2 ).

17–32 : The broader context of Paul's apostolate.

As at the letter's beginning ( 1.1–15 ), Paul links his letter to the Romans with his work for God.

19 :

Signs and wonders, 1 Cor 12.10; 2 Cor 12.12; Gal 3.5 . Illyricum, a Roman province on the east coast of the Adriatic Sea, mentioned only here. Good news, see 1.16n.

21 :

Isa 52.15 .

22–29 :

Travel plans and further requests.

23 :

No further place, Paul sees himself as a herald more than a pastor.

24 :

Paul says nothing now of wishing to “proclaim the gospel” to the Romans ( 1.10–15 ); perhaps this letter has done that.

25–29 :

The ministry to the saints, the collection mentioned in 1 Cor 16.1–4; 2 Cor 8–9; Gal 2.10 .

26 :

Macedonia and Achaia, Roman provinces in Greece.

30–33 : Apprehensions regarding Jerusalem.

The Roman Christians may participate in the “offering of the Gentiles” (v. 16 ) through their own holiness ( 12.2 ) and their earnest prayer for Paul. The unbelievers in Judea, Jews who have not believed in Jesus ( 9.1–5; 10.1–2,14 ), are the ultimate targets of his work ( 11.13–14 ). On the fate of this ministry to Jerusalem, see Acts 21.7–28.31 .

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