Romans 15–16: Encouragement & Love

Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 8: Sunday

Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his building up. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU FELL ON ME.”
Romans 15:1–3 LSB

Today’s Bible reading of Romans 15–16, finishes Paul’s letter to the church at Rome. The opening verses of Romans 15 continue his instructions of chapter 14 about relationships with those who are weak in faith. F. F. Bruce writes,

“Then comes a call for special gentleness and consideration to be shown to fellow-Christians, especially those who are “weak in faith and unemancipated in conscience…Christian liberty is a precious thing, not to be limited by any man’s dictation, but it should not be asserted at the expense of Christian charity. Christ, his people’s supreme exemplar, always considered the interests of others before his own; there­fore his people, while subject to none in respect of their liberty, should be subject to all in respect of their charity.”1

Romans 14 began with Now accept the one who is weak in faith. The reason Paul gave for accepting was in 14:3, for God accepted him. In Romans 15:7 Paul gives the same command for the same reason, Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. The Greek word translated here as accept means “take to yourselves.”2 F. F. Bruce writes:

“‘Welcome one another’ (RSV); take your fellow-Christians to your hearts as well as to your homes.”3

Take your fellow-Christians to your hearts! What wonderful words. What words that are so very, very important, but which we fail to heed. Fritz Rienecker expands on the word accept:

“The word is used of God receiving or helping man and of men receiving others into fellowship or companionship.”4

Vine writes it means, “signifying a special interest on the part of the receiver.”5 and the Blue Letter Bible echoes F. F. Bruce by including, “grant one access to one’s heart…take into friendship.”6

In Romans 15:4–7 Paul transitions from speaking about the one weak in faith to relationships between Gentile and Jewish Christians (15:8–12). I think these verses have application to the groups in Romans 14 and 15; indeed to all believers.

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through the perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God of perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
Romans 15:4–7 LSB

Notice how perserverance and encouragement are repeated in these verses. A. T. Robertson translates these words as patience and comfort, and writes in verse 5 they “describe God who uses the Scriptures to reveal himself to us.”7 Alfred Marshall translates 15:4 as, “through patience and through the comfort of the writings [Scripture],” and 15:5 as “the God of patience and of comfort.”8

I wanted to include all these understandings of the meaning of the words translated as accept, perseverance, and encouragement to help you see what rich words they are and deepen your understanding of what Paul is saying.

Romans 15:4 is a verse that has brought hope and comfort to me as I have dealt with having severe hearing loss. It was a sudden loss caused by surgeries, and the ripple of consequences imposed by this loss has been very difficult for me. Following the surgeries I was left floundering to trust God. My hearing plum­meted so rapidly I was very fearful of what would happen in the future and whether or not I would be completely cut off from being able to interact with people.

Click the image to enlarge.

Several years later as I was doing some homework for a Bible study I read Romans 15:4, and God brought immediate consolation to my heart. I knew that whatever happened in the future, through His Word God would give me encourage–ment and hope. In the face of great loss, that solid reassurance of hope means a great deal.

God is the giver of perseverance—patience and encouragement—comfort. It means so much that He is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. I pray that whatever losses you have had or may face, you will turn to Him for help. God will enable you to persevere. Through His Word He will give you patience and comfort.

Paul lived out his words to the Romans. You can see his great love and care for those to whom he writes. He closes this great letter describing his desire to come and be with them, and with his greetings to specific people in the church. The many names (more than in any other letter) and the affectionate nature of his words reveal his close ties and his love for this church which he had yet to visit.

At the beginning of Romans Paul wrote these words that are the theme of the book:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS WILL LIVE BY FAITH.”
Romans 1:16–17 LSB

Paul, a Pharisee of Pharisees, was not ashamed of the Gospel. He knew its power for Jew and Gentile alike, and he shared its truth out of a heart warm with love and affection for the church at Rome. He closes this incredible letter of God’s grace with praise:

Now to Him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the Gentiles, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.
Romans 16:25–27 LSB

Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Safety Net: Susan E. Hendrich.
Books of the Bible: Children’s Ministry Deals. Scaled image from a free poster download.
1F. F. Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI: 1977) 337.
2,7A. T. Robertson, “The Epistles of Paul,” Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. IV (Broadman Press, Nashville TN: 1933, 1960) 412, 417.
3F. F. Bruce, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI: 1963) 256.
Fritz Rienecker, translated & edited by Cleon L. Rogers, Jr., Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament (Zondervan, Grand Rapids MI: 1976, 1980) 379.
5W. E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Old Testament edited by F. F. Bruce, vol. 3 (Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan NJ: 1981) 255.
6Blue Letter Bible: proslambanō.
7Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI:1958, 1959) 648.

I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.

Copyright ©2011–2023 Iwana Carpenter

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