David recollected that as a young lad, with long unruly hair and a ruddy complexion, sleeping out in an open pasture under a starry sky after watching his father’s sheep all day long; how he would take his little harp and sing to the God above all gods. Looking up, he saw the sky as a huge tent with the sparkling stars as lights that lit up the night. He may have even tried to count them once or twice. But what really impressed him was that each night every star was in exactly the same place, not one of them was missing. He was so overcome with awe that he penned a hymn to the creator of that starry universe.

O my LORD Eternal and heavenly Master, Your awe-inspiring works mark You as a genius, as You display Your grandeur all over the heavens for all the world to see. For through these small and tiny dots of light You communicate as a way of countering those who don’t take You seriously; yes, You do this to silence the doubter and unbeliever. When I look up into the sky and see the galaxies Your hands created, the stars and the moon You put into orbit I ask, “What role do humans play in this vast universe; why do You care and fuss over them?” Then I realized, You created them a little short of being angels; endowing them with attributes of honor and dignity; making them the smartest and most influential creatures on earth; putting them in charge to being stewards of Your handiwork, even taking care of the animals, both domestic and wild, including the birds that fill the sky and the fish that fill the sea. O LORD Eternal and heavenly Master, Your awe-inspiring works mark You as a genius for all the world to see.” Psalm 8:1-9

Reflection: Back in the days of the hippy movement I sat in a coffee house in Stuttgart, Germany talking with a long-haired flower-child about God. The young man was respectful but adamant about his doubts concerning God’s existence because he couldn’t see Him or talk to Him. At that moment the Holy Spirit gave me an inspiration, so I pointed to a picture hanging on the wall beside our table and asked the young man if he believed that picture came into being due to an accidental collision of paint and paper. He laughed and said, “That’s ridiculous; that picture was painted by an artist.” I responded that I wasn’t convinced because I couldn’t see the artist in the picture; how did I know that maybe one day it just appeared on the wall by accident. The young fellow looked at me for a moment and then admitted that even though I couldn’t see the artist in the painting, I had to accept the fact that an artist painted the picture because it just makes sense. I told him that in the same way, one must exercise faith to believe an unseen talented artist created such a beautiful portrait, we can also believe an unseen God created the beauty of the universe. The magnificence of God’s creation shows His responsibility for man’s existence, and man’s responsibility to acknowledge God’s handiwork. The young man smiled somewhat embarrassingly as he bowed his head and said, “Okay, you got me on that one.” I asked him if we could have prayer for him to have faith, but he wasn’t sure. As he went away I asked the Holy Spirit to go with him and open his eyes to the truth.

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Dr. Robert R. Seyda



Early church preacher Chrysostom speaks on Paul’s confirmation of the promises to the Patriarchs and their application to Christians. When Paul begins by saying that Christ became a servant to the Jewish people, His coming was meant to carry through with what the Law required of Him. He did this by being born of the seed of Abraham and circumcised on the eighth day after His birth. By becoming both God and man, Christ was able to take the curse of condemnation that was on all humankind so that God’s wrath would be neutralized and allow those who were meant to obtain the promises, fit to receive them.1 That way, those forefathers who believed in Him before He came, were now included with those who were eligible then and in the future for all the promises God made to Abraham. Jesus’ coming also met the requirement that they be confirmed by the Messiah. There was no other way for this to happen. If Christ had not come and completed the Law, then neither those of the past, present, or future would have any chance of escaping eternal separation from God.2

Then Augustine comments on why the Gospel was spoken first to Israel. Today we would call this a case of reverse psychology. Paul wanted to remind the Gentiles that the Lord Christ Jesus had been sent to the Jews first, so now that they were also included, there was no reason for them to be proud as though they had accomplished something. Since the Jews rejected God’s message of salvation that was sent to them first, it opened the door for the Gospel to be preached to the Gentiles. We find this clearly explained by Luke when the Apostles told the Jews in Antioch in Pisidia – which is today in southern Turkey: “It was necessary that the Word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you … judge yourselves unworthy … behold, we turned to the Gentiles.3 It also agrees with the Lord’s own testimony, when he said: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,”4 and, “It is not right for the children’s bread to be thrown to the dogs.5 If the Gentiles think carefully, they will realize by their own faith, by which they now believe that to the pure all things are pure, that they should not offend those Jewish converts who, perhaps from weakness, dared not to touch certain kinds of meat, fearing that it has been in contact with idols.6

Martin Luther believes that Paul is trying to emphasize to the Gentile believers that they should be grateful to God that Jesus came to the Jews in order to carry out the promise made to the patriarchs so that those who were non-Jews would be included. This would have never taken place if Christ had come into the world as a Roman or Greek or Persian. It had to come through the Jews. Luther points out that the Gentile Christians were not the same as the Jews to whom Christ had been promised, and yet, because they received Him as their Messiah it was guaranteed by a divine promise to Abraham. That’s why Paul told them: “As Christ also received us,” stressing the mercy of God which is given gratuitously. In doing so, he immediately shows in what respect it is mercy that is given so freely.7 In other words, the Gentiles ended up receiving the same offer of divine mercy that was originally promised only to the descendants of Abraham. For this, they should rejoice and be glad to be equal children of God along with the Jews whom they now accept as brothers in Christ.

John Calvin shares a word-picture that he sees in what Paul is describing. He believes that Paul now shows that Christ has embraced us all, so that He leaves no difference between the Jews and the Gentiles, except, that He was promised to the Jewish nation first and was in a manner particularly designed for them before He was revealed to the Gentiles. Calvin also believes that Paul’s intention was to put to rest any contention between the Jews and Gentiles by pointing out that Christ had gathered both of them from their miserable conditions to Himself on the cross. He did so that after His resurrection He might bring them into His Father’s kingdom as a shepherd gathers all the sheep as one flock. This was done to unite them into one force to propagate the Gospel to the whole world.8 This high expectation on the part of Paul for unity is certainly praiseworthy, but even he admitted, in several letters, that there was discord even among Gentile Christians in some of the churches. And we can all testify to the fact that even to this day there are still incidents of contention among congregations over such minor things as to which hymnbook they should buy, the location of the organ and piano on the platform, or the color of the carpet in the sanctuary aisles.

John Locke believes that the phrase, “Jesus became a servant to the Jews,” should be placed in parenthesis to give it more emphasis in order to restrain the converted Gentiles in Rome to dismiss those Jews who had joined them by not thinking highly of them. And just as Christ came to be a minister to the Jews, so it is that this same Jesus called him to be a minister to the Gentiles. So this was Christ’s way of reaching to them through the Gospel as preached by Paul.9 We see the same thing today when one person of a particular denomination decides to join another congregation that has somewhat different views. Those who receive them as new members are still not fully convinced that they are real until they denounce their obedience to their old way of interpreting the Bible and pledge their full allegiance to this new way of believing. And in order to do that, they must get saved the right way, baptized the right way, read the right version of the Bible, sing the right hymns, pray the right way, etc., etc.

However, John Taylor does not see how the structure, or sense, of the Greek in Verse 8 would allow for those words that, “Jesus became a servant to the Jews,” to be placed in parenthesis. Also, John Locke suggests that we take the “glory of God,” in verse 7 and connected it with the “truth of God,” in verse 8, followed by verse 9 for a clearer understanding. Doing so would make it read like this: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you in order to bring glory to God on behalf of God’s truth so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.10 So there was no need to eliminate the Gentiles as part of God plan and think of themselves as having received God’s grace by accident. They were already included as recorded in God’s Word.11

John Bengel has an interesting commentary on this verse. He writes that by this verse the preceding clause concerning the term “Christ”12 is explained – Christ Jesus. Some versions say, Jesus Christ. Those, who have omitted the name Jesus in this passage, seem to have done so in harmony with verses 3 and 7. The terminology, Jesus Christ, and Christ Jesus ought not to be used indiscriminately. Jesus is the name, Christ is the title. As Jesus, He was first made known to the Jews because of His humanity. As Christ, He was introduced to the Gentiles because of His divinity. Therefore, he is called Jesus Christ according to the natural and common order of the words. But when He is called Christ Jesus, by inverting the order of the words, peculiar reference is made to the office of Christ, with somewhat of a more solemn design. And this is especially suitable for the present passage. Sometimes in one place, both arrangements of the words prevail13.14

On the significance of Christ’s coming as a pauper instead of a Prince, Charles Hodge feels this was done to prove the truthfulness or accuracy of what God foretold through the Prophets. Christ clearly showed His humility by not being born as a Prince or Potentate, but as an itinerant prophet to the Jews in order to carry out the gracious promises of God to Abraham. But they were looking for a Prince or Potentate, so they rejected this unknown teacher from Galilee. That’s why the wall between Jews and Gentiles was broken so that now Christ could be preached to them. They received Him as the Divine Savior of the world and the one who opened the door for them to the Kingdom of God. Now, they were united with the Jews on equal terms. When looked at this way, the believers in Rome were furnished the strongest motive for the cultivation of mutual affection and unanimity.15 One way to drive this point home is to consider this: Had the message of Christ not been shared with the Gentiles, neither you nor I would be Christians today. Christianity would have remained a small Jewish sect and joined all the others that exist today in Judaism.

1 Galatians 3:13

2 Chrysostom: Homilies on Romans 28

3 Acts 13:46

4 Matthew 15:24

5 Ibid. 15:26

6 Augustine: On Romans 82

7 Martin Luther: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 213

8 John Calvin: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

9 John Locke: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 377

10 Romans 15:7-9 – Using the NIV

11 John Taylor: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 359-360

12 The English term “Christ” is the anglicized translation the Hebrew term “Messiah.” It comes to us from the Greek “Christos” and Latin “Christus.” All three forms of the original word Messiah mean, “anointed.”

13 Romans 15:5-6; Galatians 2:16, note; 1 Timothy 1:15-16; 6:13-14; 2 Timothy 1:9-10. See also 1 Corinthians 3:11 with which compare 1 Timothy 2:5

14 John Bengel: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 358

15 Charles Hodge: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 673

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Dr. Robert R. Seyda



On the subject of brothers and sisters in Christ treating one another with respect, Robert Haldane first points out that this does not mean to pity them or feel sorry for them. Rather, it means that believers are to accept one another into their fellowship because Christ has accepted them into His fellowship. Christ receives, and has received, all who believe the truth even in the simplest manner. He accepts those who have the lowest degree of faith in Him. That’s why He listened passionately to the burdened father with the afflicted son, who said, “Lord, I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief.”1 Christ receives those who have not been taught many things, especially how to have faith in Him. The most ungodly are saved by Him the moment they believe; Christians are received by Him even after making many mistakes and not following His will all times. Yet, He is willing to forgive and be reconciled with them. So the question now becomes this: If Christ still gives His attention to people in spite of their ignorance in not following His will and doing things their way, ought we not then do the same for our fellow believers no matter how uncomfortable and time-consuming it may be?2

Charles Hodge makes the point that when Paul says to the Gentile believers in Rome that they should receive one another as Christ also received us, he could have said, “you should receive the Jews.” This would have made it clearer that he was exhorting the Gentile converts not to be impatient with their Jewish members. After all, even though they were Gentiles and not part of the commonwealth of Israel, Christ had received them too.3 Perhaps Paul was giving a hint to the Gentile church members that he was converted as a Jew. Then Christ appointed him as an Apostle to the Gentiles. So in a way, Paul was saying, “accept us,”

On the subject of how our receiving one another as Christ received us brings glory to God, Albert Barnes notes that Paul makes it clear here that God redeemed us, called us, chose us, sanctified us, and empowered us in order to promote His honor and glory.4 So now, it’s our turn to promote His honor and glory. Just as Christ has received us in order to promote the glory of God, so we ought to treat one another in the same fashion for the same reason. The exhortation in this verse is directed to a congregation that before their conversion was totally divided on all points pertaining to Jewish rites, rituals, and regulations. Yet, Christ received both groups equally. So in order to enforce this spirit of fellowship between the Jews and Gentiles, Paul proceeds to show, in the ensuing verses, that Christ made reference to both groups in His ministry. He shows this in reference to the Jews Romans 15:8 and to the Gentiles Romans 15:9-12. Thus, he illustrates his argument by using the work of Christ.5

On the subject of Christ’s acceptance of us and how we, in turn, should be accepting of others, Frédéric Godet believes that the compassionate welcome which Christ has given to all the members of His royal Body ought to be perpetually reproduced in the welcome of goodwill and tenderness which they give one to another in all their relationships in life. And if there is some concession to make, some disagreement to overcome, some difference of opinion to allow, or some injury to forgive, one thing ought to help us surf the waves of such inconveniences, is this: We are doing this for the glory of God, who received us in grace through Jesus Christ. Mutual love ought to reign supremely in a church wholly composed of the Lord’s beloved.6

On Paul’s request that the believers in Rome be open and willing to fellowship unconditionally with one another in the same way Christ provided their being able to fellowship with our Father in heaven, Charles Spurgeon explains that Christ did not receive us because we were perfect, or because He could see no fault in us, or because His kindness would cause us to serve Him out of obligation. Absolutely not! It was in spite of our faults, failures, and hopeless condition He welcomed us as His children without our having to prove we were good enough to deserve such an honor. It is in this same manner, and with the same purpose, that we should receive one another.7

H. A. Ironside sums up this portion of Chapter 15 by noting that Paul closes this section with a prayer that the God of patience and assurance will help the saints to become of one mind toward each other. And if they all followed the blessed example of Christ, which he cited, it would unite them in glorifying God, even the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Mind and heart must be in agreement for us to testify that we are saved. And so he exhorts them to receive one another as Christ also received us to the glory of God. If Christ embraced us in grace – whether weak or strong – to make us ready to glorify our Father in heaven, surely we can be cordial and Christ-like in our fellowship one with another. Again, it is not a question of accepting converts into the Christian family that is the point here, but the recognition of those already in the family.8

On the subject of Paul’s encouragement to be receptive to fellow believers in Christ, John Stott sees what Paul says here as the result of a long, thoroughly reasoned argument involving practical theology about the strong and weak. We find it sandwiched between two cries: Accept them in Romans 14:1, and Accept one another in Romans 15:7. Both are addressed to the whole congregation, although the first request urges the church to welcome the weak brother or sister, while the second urge all church members to welcome each other. Both Paul’s reasoning also involved doctrinal theology. The weak believer is to be accepted since God has already accepted them,9 and the members are to welcome each other just as Christ accepted all of us. Moreover, Christ’s acceptance of us was also in order to bring praise to God.10 The entire credit for the welcome we have received goes to Him who took the initiative through Christ to reconcile all of us to Himself and to each other.”11

15:8 What I’m telling you is that Christ became a servant of the Jews to show that God has done what He promised their great ancestors.

Paul now focuses on the important role Jews were given as a channel through which the Good News would reach around the world, telling even the non-Jews that they too were included in the promise to Abraham of becoming right with God. But what was happening in the church at Rome is something that has haunted the body of Christ and continues to this day. That is, people set their eyes on the historical past instead of the spiritual present and find it hard to accept that the Jews did anything good for the Gospel of Christ. But Jesus made it clear that He was initially sent to bring the good news to the chosen descendants of Abraham before it would spread to the rest of the human race.12

The Jews had this concept that the coming of the Messiah would result in the in-gathering of all exiles; restoration of the religious courts of justice; an end to wickedness, sin, and heresy; reward to the righteous; rebuilding of Jerusalem; restoration of the line of King David; and restoration of Temple service. But Jesus put it this way: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve — and to give His life as a ransom for many.13 This was the message of Peter and John in the Temple: “It is to you first that God has sent His servant whom He has raised up, so that He might bless you by turning each one of you from your evil ways.14 And when Jesus did not follow that pattern, John tells us that they rejected Him as being the Messiah they expected.15 This was echoed by Paul and Barnabas: “We were to preach the Word of God to you first. But because you put it aside, you are not good enough for life that lasts forever. So we will go to the people who are not Jews.16 This of course made some of the Jews hatred and disdain for the Gentiles even more bitter.

But how could this be? Didn’t they recall the wonderful message of the Psalmist: “Sing to ADONAIbless His name! Proclaim His victory day after day! Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples!17 That’s why Isaiah called out: “In the east, honor ADONAIin the coastlands, honor the name of Adonai, the God of Isra’el. From the farthest part of the earth we have heard them sing, ‘Glory to the Righteous One!‘”18 This praise and worship were not meant only as a rallying cry for the dispersed Jews, but also as a witness to the Gentiles around them of the grace and mercy of God.

Jesus hinted at this long before He commissioned Paul as His messenger to the Gentiles when He told His disciples: “I have other sheep which are not from this sheep-pen. I must bring them also. They will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock with one shepherd.19 This then was the message Paul took to the Gentiles: “At one time you were far away from God. Now you have been brought close to Him. Christ did this for you when He gave His blood on the cross. We have peace because of Christ. He has made the Jews and those who are not Jews one people. He broke down the wall that divided them… He made of the two people one new kind of people like Himself. In this way, He made peace. He brought both groups together to God. Christ finished the fighting between them by His death on the cross… Now all of us can go to the Father through Christ by way of the one Holy Spirit. From now on you are not strangers and people who are not citizens. You are citizens together with those who belong to God. You belong in God’s family.20

Paul would go on to tell them, “Let me tell you that the Good News is for the people who are not Jews also. They are able to have a life that lasts forever. They are to be a part of His church and family, together with the Jews. And together they are to receive all that God has promised through Christ.21 And the Apostle Peter shared the same good news with his readers: “You are a chosen group of people. You are the King’s religious leaders. You are a holy nation. You belong to God. He has done this for you so you can tell others how God has called you out of darkness into His great light. At one time you were a people of no use. Now you are the people of God. At one time you did not have loving-kindness. Now you have God’s loving-kindness.22

1 Mark 9:24

2 Robert Haldane: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 613

3 Charles Hodge: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 672

4 Cf. Ephesians 1:6

5 Albert Barnes: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

6 Frédéric Godet: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

7 Charles Spurgeon: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

8 Harry A. Ironside: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

9 Romans 14:3

10 Ibid. 15:7

11 John Stott: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

12 Matthew 15:24

13 Matthew 20:28

14 Acts of the Apostles 3:26

15 John 1:11

16 Acts of the Apostles 13:46

17 Psalm 96:2-3 – Complete Jewish Bible

18 Isaiah 24:15-16

19 John 10:16

20 Ephesians 2:13-19

21 Ibid. 3:6

22 1 Peter 2:9-10

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Dr. Robert R. Seyda



On the subject of unity between God and His people and their unity among themselves, Charles Ellicott advises that this is the temperament Paul is wanting so badly for the Roman Christians. The Apostle prays that along with the spirit of steadfast endurance, God will also give them that spirit of unanimity which proceeds from singleness of purpose. At first, there seems to be little or no connection between the God of patience and assurance and being like-minded. However, they are connected through the idea of singleness of purpose. As Rick Warren, our head pastor of Saddleback Church put it so brilliantly in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, by asking, “What am I here for?”1 For Pastor Warren, we were formed to be God’s family. That’s why we need to work on finding out what we can do to protect and promote unity in the church. I like the way he does this by constantly referring to the church as a “Community.” This certainly agrees with Ellicott who says that the person who is wholly dedicated to Christ, and who, in the strength of that dedication is able to endure persecution will also have a close bond of unity with all those who have set the same goals before them.2

On Paul’s call for all Christians to seek harmony with each other, Charles Spurgeon hears Paul saying that if the Roman believers achieved unanimity in striving for each one to become more and more like Jesus, there would be less and less disagreement over things that they see differently. Spurgeon then becomes very emotional when he says: What a blessed harmony there would be if there would not only be harmony in one church, but harmony in all the churches toward each other even as Christ and the Father are one. That is surely what will happen when Christ returns to gather those who are now scattered around the world. But could we ever hope for it to be that way before He comes? Spurgeon says that he’s not sure it can happen, but at any rate, it is something we should all strive for. At least, we can get started by everyone singing in the same key. Just like praise and worship is so much sweeter when everyone is singing the same song in harmony. That way, we can at least be like-minded with one another as we become like-minded with Christ. But not till then.3

John Stott renders Paul’s petition this way: “May … God … give you a spirit of unity … as you follow Christ Jesus.” This indicates that genuine unity among Christians is found only in their unity in Christ. The person of Jesus Christ Himself must be the focus of our unity and, therefore, the more we agree with Him and about Him the more we will agree with one each other. But what is the purpose of being like-minded? It is in order that we may engage in the common worship of God: so that with one heart and mouth we may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. That way the one mind is expressed through one heart and one mouth. In fact, without this unity of mind about Christ, having unity of heart and mouth in worship is impossible.4

On the subject of unity among believers, Douglas Moo notes that in verse 4 Paul cited endurance and encouragement as two specific traits fostered by the Scriptures that will culminate in hope. He picks up these two words in verse 5 at the beginning of Paul’s prayer to God on behalf of the squabbling Roman believers. Paul prays specifically that God Himself will grant the community the ability to think in harmony.5 In light of his insistence that the weak not change their minds until their own faith leads them to do so,6 it is unlikely that Paul is praying here that all the Roman believers will come to the same opinion on any matter or issue. Rather, he is praying that they may possess a unity of purpose that transcends these differences.7

15:7 That’s why we should accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.

The Apostle Paul knows that the first step in creating harmony and unity is to accept others even though they are not as we want them to be. It is an odd sign for the unconverted when they see Christians argue with one another over the hymns they sing, the translations of the Bible they use, or the way they serve communion and baptize. But here is the big question: If Christ is in them and He is in us, then how do we deal with what Jesus said: “Whoever receives you, receives Me.”8 Wouldn’t it follow then, that if you reject them or they reject you, both of you are rejecting Christ as well? That’s because Jesus also said: “All whom My Father has given to Me will come to Me. I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me.”9 Remember, this is all covered by the new Law given by Christ: “You are to love each other. You must love each other as I have loved you.10

When writing to the Ephesians Paul was moved to express his thanks to God for all that He had done on their behalf: “We thank God for His grace to us. He gave this loving-favor to us through His much-loved Son. Because of the blood of Christ, we are bought and made free from the punishment of sin. And because of His blood, our sins are forgiven. His grace to us is so rich. He was so willing to give all of this to us. He did this with wisdom and understanding… We who were the first to put our trust in Christ should thank Him for His greatness. I pray that your hearts will be able to understand. I pray that you will know about the hope given by God’s call. I pray that you will see how great the things are that He has promised to those who belong to Him.11 Once we realize all that God did through Christ to bring us together under the umbrella of His grace it should motivate all of us to join hands while we gaze at Him instead of staring at each other.

Early church scholar Chrysostom talks about our bonding with each other as a tight-knit group. This is not only to assist the weak, but it will help everyone. If a believer or unbeliever shows no interest in being a close friend with you, accept their reluctance to show love to you, but don’t do the same with them. Rather, display even more love toward them without expecting anything in return. If anything will begin to build a bridge between you, this will. Remember, they are a member of the body of Christ, a brother or sister to you in the family of God. When the other person disconnects with you, stay connected with them but expect it to be a one-way street. They are under no obligation to accept you, but you are under obligation to God not to throw them away.12 And Pelagius also commented that when we help carry a part of a fellow believer’s burdens, we are honoring Christ who carried our burdens to the cross. If our Lord took us upon Himself while we were ungodly,13 how much more should we, who are like one another, support each other who are saved!14

Reformer Martin Luther comments on what he believes Paul meant by God receiving glory when we receive each other equally as brothers and sisters of Christ. For him, this is a wonderful glorification of God in that He is glorified when we have compassion for believers who have made errors and the weak who need help. It is to His glory when He uses us as His helpers. Therefore, this serves His glory, that is to say, it becomes an occasion to Him to manifest His friendliness when we bring people to Him who need to receive a blessing from Him. Therefore, we should not force those who are hardheaded, holier-than-thou, and conceited to come to Him. In them, He cannot glorify Himself because He cannot impart to them any spiritual blessing, since they, as they see it, are not in need of them.15

At this point, John Calvin sees Paul returning to his exhorting the Roman believers to a higher spiritual level. To do that, Paul uses Christ as the best example. For our Lord did not just accept us as individuals, but as part of His Called and Chosen Community and thereby connects us so that we can cherish one another. This is the only way we can confirm our calling, that is, we are to love one another as fellow believers in Christ. We cannot claim to be in Christ if we do not have love one for another. That’s why it will bring honor to God because it was His plan to save us through His Son. Calvin puts it this way: As Christ has made known the glory of the Father in receiving us with favor when we stood in need of love and mercy, so it is expected of us in order to also make known the glory of the same God in establishing and confirming this union which we have in Christ by accepting one another as He did us.16

John Locke takes this as a forecast of what Paul will say later on about believers accepting one another in a mutual friendly manner.17 He points out that Paul uses the same Greek verb proslambanō in verses 3 & 7. It does not appear that Paul was addressing the fact that the converted Jews and Gentiles were having separate communion or that they had services at different times because of the dispute over meats, drinks, and special days. Therefore, Paul was trying to tell them to understand each other and their preferences but continue to fellowship on all points where they hold mutual beliefs, such as Jesus being the Messiah, the Son of God, and that salvation came by grace not good deeds and acts of devotion. Paul may have also suggested that when the Jews and Gentiles visited each other in their homes to respect the customs that govern those who live there. So it was a case of Paul telling the Jews and Gentiles to lay aside their differences and to join hands and voices in praising and glorifying God and Christ for their grace, mercy, and salvation.18

Adam Clarke points out that when it came to open arms, Christ led by example and we should follow His example with others. This means, to show them the same cordial affection as Christ did in receiving us into communion with Himself. Not only that, but He blessed us that where two or three of us gather in His name He will be present with them. And as Christ has received us that way to the glory of His Father in heaven, so should we. Jews and Gentiles should cordially receive each other that God‘s glory may be promoted by our harmony and brotherly love.19 I like the way this is expressed by the writer of Hebrews: “So now Jesus and the ones He makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them His brothers and sisters.”20

1 The Purpose Driven Life: by Rick Warren, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 2002, pp. 320-321

2 Charles Ellicott: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

3 Charles Spurgeon: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

4 John Stott: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

5 New International Version

6 See Romans 14:23

7 Douglas J. Moo: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

8 Matthew 10:40a

9 John 6:37

10 John 13:34

11 Ephesians 1:6-8, 12, 18

12 Chrysostom: Homilies on Romans 27

13 See Romans 5:6

14 Pelagius: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

15 Martin Luther: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 211

16 John Calvin: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

17 Romans 15:7

18 John Locke: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 376

19 Adam Clarke: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 280

20 Hebrews 2:11

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Dr. Robert R. Seyda



There are very few things that give Christians and Christianity a bigger black-eye than when conflict erupts between two churches in a community, or even worse, fights among members of the same church. We don’t know if that was the case in Philippi, but Paul did not hesitate to write them and say: “Be sure you live as God’s people in a way that honors the Good News of Christ.1 He then encouraged them: “Agree with each other and show your love for each other. Be united in your goals and in the way you think.”2 In fact, Paul even singled out two members: “Euodia and Syntyche, you both belong to the Lord, so please agree with each other.3 He even asks a good friend, he calls Syzygos, to help these women to harmonize their outreach efforts4.

Even the Apostle Peter saw the value of such unified efforts. He wrote: “Finally, all of you, be one in mind and feeling; love as brothers; and be compassionate and humble-minded, not repaying evil with evil or insult with insult, but, on the contrary, with a blessing.5 After all, they had examples of such unity from on high. As Paul told the Ephesians: “Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.6 Likewise, he wrote the Philippians: “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have the same attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.7 And, of course, we know that even though He co-existed with God, Jesus did not regard such equality as something to hold on to at all cost, and was willing to pay the price for sinful humankind to take hold of something they could not have gotten any other way because it was a gift.

It was certainly God’s desire that all of His people rid themselves of gossip, false rumors, sinful habits, and immoral thoughts so that they could praise Him in unison as their Creator. He told the prophet Zephaniah: “I will transform people, so that they will have pure lips, to call on the name of Adonai, all of them, and serve Him in total unity.8 Jesus pointed this out to everyone when He said: “My Father Who gave them to Me is greater than all. No one is able to take them out of My Father’s hand. My Father and I are one!9 The hallmark of the Trinity is their total unity. No wonder it took single-mindedness before the Holy Spirit was poured out on the 120 followers of Jesus in the Upper Room in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost.10 They have said, and I have seen, that the church is most unified when they experience revival and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. No amount of ecumenicism or denominational associations or extending hands of fellowship to other religions will bring about the kind of unity God wants for His people. It will only come through revival and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Early church writer Pelagius has a good point to make. For him, it takes the Holy Spirit to bring us together in total harmony with our Lord Jesus Christ so that we may glorify God our Father in heaven. They all work together so that we remain steadfast in our faith. We are to live in harmony so that each of us can assist the other as if their salvation was our own. This is what Jesus did by His own death in order to save all of us from death.11 To this Chrysostom points out that Paul wants the believers in Rome to do this not just with one voice but also with one mind. The whole body is united into one, and Paul concludes his address with another doxology, in which he gives the utmost encouragement to unanimity and compatibility.12

John Calvin sees several things that Paul says in these verses, especially the term “God of patience,” Calvin notes that God is called this because of what He produces. The same thing has been ascribed to Him before but in a different sense: God alone is doubtless the author of patience and of assurance; He conveys both of these to our hearts by His Spirit: He employs His word as an instrument to accomplish this; He first teaches us what is true assurance, and what is true patience; then He instills and plants this doctrine in our hearts. No doubt, since God is the author of such patience, Paul now turns and prays for the Roman believers. The sum of his prayer is this: That he would bring their minds to real unanimity, and make them one cohesive unit. He also shows, at the same time, what is the bond of unity, for he wished them to agree together as one with Christ Jesus. Calvin feels that any union that is not connected with God is bound to be unstable and miserable.

Then Calvin sees Paul’s message for the Roman as being also a message for us. It’s his recommendation that whatever we want to agree on, make sure that Christ agrees with us. This is so necessary if we want to glorify God. But unless we all agree in our worship to Him, then our tongues will not join together in unity as we sing His praises. That’s why it is not only important that we praise Him as individuals, but also as a body of believers. God loves it so much when He sees His children join together in giving Him honor and glory. For how can our praises go up to Him in harmony when our hearts are torn by discord and contention. This ought to be enough to make us all willing to take care of our disagreements in love before we try to agree on how to show our love for God.13

Jonathan Edwards speaks about the unity of believers as something that should be both comfortable and comforting. It isn’t always done in worship as they lift up holy hands together and sing hymns of praise with equal enthusiasm. Edwards feels that this desired unity is best express in taking the Lord’s Supper. This is the Christian church’s greatest feast of love. When they gather around their Father’s table as family, to feast on the love of their Redeemer, commemorating His sufferings for them, and His undying and unchanging love expressed to them. When the bread and wine of communion are taken, it seals their love for Him and their love for one another. Edwards believes that what brings disharmony to the Body of Christ is that many who join in the celebration of communion don’t see the true value in what they’re doing. As such, says Edwards, they are what, his grandfather Solomon Stoddard, known as the great evangelical leader of the North Hampton Congregational Church in the Massachusetts Bay Colony,14 “…more of an enemy to the Lord than are the unconverted outside the visible church.”15

Adam Clarke takes what Paul is saying here as a reference to the act of public worship. It is possible that with all the contention in Rome between the Jewish and Gentile believers, it had greatly hindered their joint worship of the Almighty. No doubt that’s why Paul spent so much time in the letter talking about their differences, trying to instruct them and exhort them to pull together before they are pulled apart. That’s why he now pours out his heart and soul in pleading with them to look out for each other instead of looking at each other. How can the world be persuaded to become Christians when they see the fighting and tearing of one another down over the smallest things?16

Robert Haldane has some excellent thoughts here on the Christian’s virtues of patience and comforting. He sees the Apostle Paul having in the preceding verse spoken of the patience and assurance which the Scriptures communicate; he points to God as the One who exemplifies patience and assurance. That’s why Paul told them that he prayed that God would help them to agree with one another so that they can get things done together. And the reason he does so is that God is the author of patience and assurance to His people. Patience is essential to a Christian, as is assurance. But neither he, Paul, nor anyone else can be a better source than God who possesses these graces to perfection. How else will we be able to bear the persecution that comes while carrying our cross without Divine support? These virtues, then, of the Christian character are as much the Fruit of the Spirit of God as faith is His gift. Everything good in the child of God is of God, but their sins are their own. When, therefore, we are in a tight place facing difficulties or troubles, we ought to look to God for patience to grant what He sees as good for us so we can carry our burdens with His blessing. The expression, “God of patience,” shows not only that God gives patience to His people, but that He gives it abundantly, and that there is no other source of this gift.17

On Paul’s prayer that the Roman believers develop the mind of Christ when it came to caring for one another, Charles Hodge is adamant in saying that external teaching is not enough, we need the inward teaching of the Holy Spirit to enable us to receive and conform to the truths and precepts of the God’s Word. That’s why Paul prays that God would give his readers the patience, assurance, and hope which they are bound to use and enjoy. Paul prays that God would grant them that harmony and unity which he had so strongly urged them to acquire and cherish. Hodge also notes that the expression, “to be like-minded,” does not refer to unanimity of opinion, but to harmony of agreement.18 According to Jesus Christ, it means being agreeable to following His example and teachings in a Christian manner. This is why he exhorts them to bond as Christians in unity. This harmony and fellowship among Christians is necessary, in order that they may glorify God the right way. To honor God effectually and properly, there must be no unresolved dissension among His people.19

Frédéric Godet makes a valuable observation about what Paul is saying here. There is a close relationship in a church between the assurance and the union of its members. When all are inwardly assured from above, the way is paved for communion of hearts below. Everyone should be working hard to make sure that the assurance they have with each other here below allows them to have better communion with the One above. It is this common impulse which is expressed by Paul’s term, “like-minded.20 Godet goes on to explain that when one common goal reigns in the church, secondary aims no longer separate their hearts. And from this internal communion there results common adoration like pure harmony from a concert of well-tuned instruments. This can lead to all hearts yearning for God as one, all mouths yielding praise to Him as one. And why is that? Because it is all focused on one God who alone is worthy of being glorified by all.21

1 Philippians 1:27

2 Ibid. 2:2

3 Ibid. 4:2

4 Ibid. 4:3 – Translated in KJV as “true yokefellow” and in NIV as “true companion”

5 1 Peter 3:8-9

6 Ephesians 5:1-2

7 Philippians 2:4-5

8 Zephaniah 3:9

9 John 10:29-30

10 Acts of the Apostles 2:1

11 Pelagius: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

12 Chrysostom: Homilies on Romans 27

13 John Calvin: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

14 Massachusetts Bay Colony lay directly west of Boston

15 David S. Lovi. The Power of God: A Jonathan Edwards Commentary on the Book of Romans (p. 316-317)

16 Adam Clarke: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 280

17 Robert Haldane: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 611

18 See 8:5; 12:3

19 Charles Hodge: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit. pp. 671-672

20 Verse 5

21 Frédéric Godet: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

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Here are some intriguing quotes made over the years. Take a moment and ponder them to see if you agree.

The formula for success: under promise and over deliver. – Tom Peters

We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are. – Max DePree

Forgiveness is of high value, yet it costs nothing. – Unknown

Don’t wait for your ship to come in, swim out to it. – Cathy Hopkins

Drops of rain make a hole in the stone not by violence, but by oft falling. – Lucretius

Innovative thoughts and deep thinking is not something we usually do until something provokes us to do so. It’s the difference in what we see when we look at things with the natural eye and look at them again through a telescope or microscope. Just casually peering at things is easy to do, but looking at them more intensely takes time and effort. For me, the question is, do I really want to know all there is to know about a certain thing.

King David, in the Bible, wanted to know more about God, so he wrote that while laying down on his bed at night he meditates on God.1 Another Psalmist says that he does the same thing by eagerly pondering all of God’s handiwork that he sees in the sky and on the land.2 The prophet Jeremiah recommended meditation because the heart can be treacherous when it becomes desperate.3 And the Apostle James says that meditation can help us control our mind because when improper things are allowed to roam freely, it can start in our passions that quickly gets out of control.

So accordingly to the Bible, we are encouraged to meditate on things that are true, righteous, pure, lovable, well-spoken-of, virtuous, and praiseworthy.4 For when we take in such fine thoughts and “sow” them in our mind, we will reap a harvest of beautiful qualities, gracious speech, and warm relationships with others.5 Years ago I read in a book where it said, Prayer is a good form of relaxation that can lead to meditation. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

1 Psalm 63:6

2 Psalm 143:5

3 Jeremiah 17:9

4 Philippians 4:8-9

5 Colossians 4:6

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I have lived in parts of the USA where rain was critically needed at the right time for crops that needed planting and right before the harvest so they could ripen better. So when I read this story it sounded familiar to me. But even if you may have lived in the city most of your life, I’m sure you won’t miss the lesson that this story contains.

As a drought continued for what seemed like an eternity, a small community of farmers was in a big quandary over what to do. Rain was important to keep their crops healthy and sustain the way of life of the townspeople.

As the problem became more acute, a local pastor called a prayer meeting to ask God for rain. Many people came, and as they arrived the pastor greeted them at the door and encouraged them to have faith that God would hear their prayers. When it was time to start, the pastor walked to the front of the church to start the meeting and share with the people what he thought would be a good way for them to pray. As he turned to face the congregation, many of them were still chatting across the aisles and socializing with their friends.

When he asked the attendees for quiet, he spotted an eleven-year-old girl sitting quietly in the front row. Her face was beaming with excitement. Next to her, poised and ready for use, was a bright red umbrella. The little girl’s beauty and innocence made the pastor smile as he realized how much faith she possessed. Everyone there had come to pray and believe, but no one else but this girl brought an umbrella. So he thanked all the people who had come expecting to pray, and then pointed to the young girl and said to them, All of you came to pray for rain, but the little girl had come expecting God to answer right away.

When many of us go to God in prayer, we certainly expect Him to hear us, see our need, and answer us according to His will. But how many of us go to Him expecting an answer? It may not be the answer we were looking for, but His answer proved that He was listening. So just remember, as you begin your prayer you might say, “Here I am Lord! You know what blessing I need, and I’ve got my umbrella with me!” – Dr. Robert R Seyda

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Dr. Robert R. Seyda



Reformer John Calvin sees this as an important passage by which we can understand that there is nothing vain and unprofitable contained in the Word of God; and we are, at the same time, taught that it is by the reading of the Scripture that we make progress in faith and holiness of life. This means that instead of just reading the Scriptures we should research the Scriptures to see what more we can learn. It would be an insult to the Holy Spirit to think that He would waste His time teaching us something that does not concern us or something we don’t really need to think about. He was sent to teach us everything God wants us to know and to remind us of everything Jesus taught us to do and be.1 What Paul says here includes all that is contained in the First and Final Covenants because the same Spirit of God that inspired the First also inspired the Final Covenant. Calvin is especially critical of those who dismiss the First Covenant as not being of any value to Christians today. That’s where the story of sin and salvation begins and the prophecies that were made of how and when the Final Covenant would be offered by the Messiah which would become the basis of our faith.2

German scholar John Bengel points out that this verse assigns the reason for it being here to what Paul said in the previous verse. All that was written in the First Covenant concerning the Messiah was meant for us believers in the Final Covenant. It is designed to show that Christ was an example of patience through all His suffering to give us hope. But in between patience and hope lies blessed assurance. Bengel notes that by the Scriptures testifying of Christ it teaches us by His example what we should take hold of or what we should leave alone.3 Bengel goes on to say that this comfort or assurance found in the Prophets and written records of the past are echoed here by Paul: If we are distressed because of the way things are going, it is the Scriptures that comfort us concerning our salvation. Therefore, if we are comforted, it is to strengthen our blessed assurance which produces in us patient endurance of hardships now because of what is yet to come.4

Englishman Adam Clarke endorses the belief that all things written long ago about Jesus the Messiah are for us today. This not only involves Paul’s quotation from the 69th Psalm but to all the First Covenant Scriptures, especially the Prophets. And, from what Paul says here about them, we learn that God had not intended them merely for those generations in which they were first delivered, but for the instruction of all the succeeding generations of believers.5 Clarke is convinced that through those remarkable stories of patience exhibited by the past saints of God are valid for the present saints of God. Their history was given to highlight the assurance they received from God in their patient endurance of sufferings brought on by their faithful attachment to truth and righteousness. In fact, these records were kept so that we might have hope that we will be as supported and blessed as they were. That our sufferings will become the means for our advance in faith and holiness. Not only that, but, consequently, our hope of eternal glory is even more confirmed.6

For those who dismiss the First Covenant as out-of-date and no longer relevant to our day, Scottish Bible scholar Robert Haldane said that in light of what the Apostle Paul says here, such thinking is blasphemous. Christ quoted the Torah, the Prophets, and the Psalms some 40 times, as did the Apostles. So who are we to throw it away as being of no use to us? Haldane then concludes that the passage quoted in the preceding verse and applying it to Christ, is not only useful for us but it is, as the Apostle shows, vital as an example. That’s because those who hated and cursed God were now hating and cursing those who stood up for God. So what did God do? He stood by them and assured them that it would all work out for their good. So how can we do any less now than what they did back then? That’s what prompted the writer of Hebrews to declare: “So let us go out to Him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace He bore.7 This is a clear reference to Mt. Calvary outside the walls of Jerusalem were our Lord died. It is also a metaphorical way of saying, Let’s stand next to the cross of Christ and never be ashamed. He did it all to make us strong and resilient, so we must do the same for others.8

The great English preacher Charles Spurgeon points back to what Paul said in the previous verse when he quoted the Psalmist David saying to God that all the disgraceful things people were saying about God were also directed at him. Then Spurgeon supposes some critic in the crowd saying to Paul: Hey, Paul, wasn’t it David who said what you just quoted. “Yes,” Paul replies, “I know that I quoted David and that he spoke of his personal relationship with the Lord. But I’m telling you that what was written a long time ago was also written for our learning.9 Sounds like Paul may have provided Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck the inspiration for his famous quote: “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”10

Jewish scholar David Stern makes this observation about some Christians who dismiss the First Covenant as irrelevant for Final Covenant believers. He even reveals that some Christian seminarians sometimes make jokes about “sermons based on Leviticus,” implying that they consider much of the Tanakh11 as unneeded and boring for today’s believers. A number of Christians, including pastors, go even further and don’t even bother to read the First Covenant. They do acknowledge that the First Covenant was inspired by God, but in practice, they ignore most of it. No wonder Jews often regard the First Covenant as the Jewish Bible and the Final Covenant as the Christian Bible. But Christians who value the Final Covenant above the First Covenant not only belittle Paul’s teaching but do the same to other Final Covenant writers and Yeshua Himself. By so doing, they deprive themselves of the encouragement, assurance, and good counsel that the Tanakh offers in helping believers patiently to hold on to their hope of complete salvation. Unfortunately, they are often the ones who not only speak despairingly of the Jews who had Yeshua killed but of Jews today. Don’t they know that by ignoring the First Covenant they remove themselves from three-quarters of God’s inspired Word, which gives the fundamental and unshakable ground for their identifying with believing Jews as God’s people?12

Another Jewish writer notes that the things written a long time ago for our learning are part of the Tanakh (Genesis to Malachi), which was the only Bible available when the Letter to the Romans was written. Paul’s comment resembles that which he made in his letter to Timothy, where he instructed him that the Scriptures were all Timothy needed for his faith.13 Thus, the entirety of faith in Yeshua as the Messiah is based in the Tanakh. The Tanakh was all the disciples used in preaching about Yeshua and His Gospel. When Paul praised the Bereans for checking the Scriptures to see if what he taught about Yeshua was true, it was the Tanakh they were researching14.15

15:5-6 (14:28-29): All patience and comforting come from God. And I pray to God that all of you will agree with one another, as Christ Jesus wants you to. Then you will all be joined together. And all together you will give glory to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Although we have no record of there being any children’s church program in Ephesus or throughout the Galatian province, I’m sure that the Apostle Paul would not have objected to a song we used to sing, lined up in front of the altar after Sunday school, before morning worship: “The more we pull together, together, together; the more we pull together the happier we’ll be.” This was the attitude King Hezekiah he had by sending out couriers throughout Israel and Judah with this message: “Obey the Lord with a willing heart… The Lord your God is kind and merciful, He will not turn you away.16 Although some people just laughed, many of them heeded the King’s letter. As a result, we read: “in Judah God’s power united the people so that they would obey the king and his officials concerning the word of the Lord.17

During the days of Jeremiah the prophet, there was another effort to get the people to work together, even in the face of opposition. So God gave the prophet this message: “I will give them the desire to be one, united people. They will have one goal – to worship Me all their lives. They and their children will want to do this.18 And when the people were scattered abroad after heathen forces invaded because they had fallen into idolatry, God gave Ezekiel this message: “I will bring them together and make them like one person. I will put a new spirit in them. I will take away that heart of stone, and I will put a real heart in its place.19 There are few things that please God more than when His people love each other and work together to spread the Good News of salvation to a lost and dying world.

So we should not be surprised that as Peter and John preached the Gospel in the Temple and many came to believe on Jesus as the Messiah, that in a prayer meeting going on for their safety and release, the place where they were meeting quaked, and they were all empowered by the Holy Spirit to go out and share God’s message of deliverance and salvation without fear.20 That was the same kind of attitude and atmosphere that Paul wanted to exist among the Corinthians: “Brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, I beg all of you to agree with each other. You should not be divided into competing groups. Be completely joined together again with the same kind of thinking and the same purpose.21 But, Paul had to write them again and say: “Brothers and sisters, be filled with joy. Try to make everything right, and do what I have asked you to do. Agree with each other, and live in peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.22 It appears that it had to do with the methods used for personal and joint evangelistic efforts by the church in Corinth.

1 John 14:26

2 John Calvin: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

3 John Bengel: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., pp. 356-357

4 2 Corinthians 1:6

5 Deuteronomy 4:9

6 Adam Clarke: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 279

7 Hebrews 13:13

8 Robert Haldane: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit., p. 610

9 Charles Spurgeon: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

10 Otto von Bismarck: “Gedanken und Errinerungen” (Thoughts and Memories)

11 Tanakh is a Hebrew acronym derived from the initial letters of the Hebrew names for the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings which include Genesis to Malachi.

12 David H. Stern: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

13 2 Timothy 3:16

14 Acts of the Apostles 17:11

15 Messianic Bible: On Romans, op. cit., loc. cit.

16 2 Chronicles 30:8-9

17 Ibid. 30:12

18 Jeremiah 32:39

19 Ezekiel 11:19

20 Acts of the Apostles 4:31-32a

21 1 Corinthians 1:10

22 2 Corinthians 13:11

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