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Summary: 1) The Blended Involvement (Romans 15:1-6), 2) The Basic Instruction (Romans 15:7), 3) The Biblical Illustration (Romans 15:8-12) and 4) The Benedictory Intercession (Romans 15:13)

In politics, some voices get heard while others ignored. Often those with the best connections or the loudest complainers tend to be heard. Things tend to spill over the same way in a local church. But things need to be different in Christ’s body, because He must call the shots. He will not bless those who play by their own rules. Unity with Him means that we can’t operate on our own rules.

God has always been deeply concerned about the unity of His people. By salvation, He has effected a real spiritual oneness. He has created a commonness based on sharing the same eternal life. This reality of conversion should impact the life of the church by being the impetus for practical unity. Scripture emphasizes both aspects. Apart from outright sin, nothing shatters the fellowship, the spiritual growth, and the witness of a congregation so much as disharmony among its members.

The church in Rome was now dealing with a unity issue of incorporating Jews and Gentiles in one body. When Jews and Gentiles have become believers, they are one people, as Paul clearly teaches (Rom. 10:11, 12) symbolized by one olive tree (11:17 f.) (Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953-2001). Vol. 12-13: New Testament commentary : Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. New Testament Commentary (476). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.).

In the first of these heartfelt appeals, Paul calls believers to please one another, using Christ Himself as our model. With Romans 15:1-13 in "Finding Our One Voice" we see: 1) The Blended Involvement (Romans 15:1-6), 2) The Basic Instruction (Romans 15:7), 3) The Biblical Illustration (Romans 15:8-12) and 4) The Benedictory Intercession (Romans 15:13)

1) The Blended Involvement (Romans 15:1-6)

Romans 15:1-6 [15:1]We who are strong have an obligation 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. [3]For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me." [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. [5]May the God of endurance 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. (ESV)

In Romans 15:1-6 Paul mentions six spiritual characteristics that should lead us to please one another:

a) Regard For Others (Romans 15:1a)

Romans 15:1a [1] We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, (and not to please ourselves). (ESV)

In natural life, weakness is often oppressed and made to suffer violence by power; in the kingdom of the Spirit, on the contrary, “strong” expresses both the appointment to, and the duty of bearing, the infirmities of the weaker (Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Fay, F. R., Hurst, J. F., & Riddle, M. B. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures : Romans (425). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.).

But who are strong? It must be remembered that these terms are relative. In v. 1, Paul infers this with his reference, “we then that are strong.”

Both sides no doubt believed they were the strong ones! In our day, in those churches where there are disagreements over smoking and drinking, for example, both sides often see themselves as the strong, i.e., as more holy. From this fact arose the problem and the conflict. The strong often feel that it is their calling and duty to govern the weak. As a result, both sides seek to govern each other (Rushdoony, R. J. (1997). Romans & Galatians (275). Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books.).

Paul is immediately addressing the integration of Gentiles with Jews in a congregation. Since they came from differing backgrounds, this meant a clash in dietary habits from their respective backgrounds. Some (the strong) would feel free to eat certain things while others, (the weak) still not adjusted to new dietary liberalities, felt offense over their brothers liberty (the strong). The weak one’s prejudice is a certain protection so long as he keeps his weakness pure—that is, does not make it a rule for others; the strong one’s justifiable sense of freedom leads to the danger of self-boasting (Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Fay, F. R., Hurst, J. F., & Riddle, M. B. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures : Romans (426). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.)

• The very issue of how to deal with this particular dietary dilemma is dealt elsewhere (1 Cor. 10:25–31). What is interesting is that the end objective is the same as Paul wanted to deal with here in that God would be glorified (1 Cor. 10:31)

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