This morning I was drawn to Romans 15:7 by my Bible app. I was initially struck by the connection with our current sermon series. Paul is writing to Christians from many different churches in Rome. There must have been a reason he felt the need to challenge them to accept each other. I can only assume that there were some divisions between the local bodies, likely ethnic in nature. Their acceptance of each other brings praise to God. No small thing! I always like checking out the further context, which would include the entire book of Romans, but for today I mostly looked at this chapter and a little into 14, which leads nicely into it. My focus was really drawn to the first 13 verses.
The first section is almost like reading Philippians 2—having the same mindset as Jesus. This also echoes Jesus’ words in John 17, where he prays for the unity of the body, and his new commandment to love one another has he as loved us, so that the world will know we are his disciples.
Paul then goes on to reiterate that the purpose of Jesus making himself a servant was ultimately that the world would know who he is and to bring glory to his name. He came to save the world. You will notice that I’ve changed the word “Gentile” to “Nation” (below). I have been pondering my understanding of the term Gentile. I think I could have told you that it meant those not Jewish, yet, in my mind, I think my interpretation has limited that understanding to those in the area around Israel. In our language it is much better understood as Nations. And Paul is showing that it has been God’s plan all along to bring the Gospel to the whole world. God did not choose to take the gospel to the Gentiles (nations) because the Jews rejected it. It was his plan all along. So read this passage with the perspective of Nations, and with the perspective that this comes down to the world we live in. All who live in our city, regardless of skin color, socioeconomic background, ethnic origin, political leanings, etc., are covered by the term Nations. So, our unity as the Body of Christ speaks volumes. Let us “together with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (vs 6-7). And during this time of uncertainty I am choosing to claim verse 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.”
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 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. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
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, and in order that the Nations might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore, I will praise you among the Nations, and sing to your name.” And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Nations, with his people.” And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Nations, and let all the peoples extol him.” And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Nations; in him will the Nations hope.”Romans 15:1–13 ESV
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.