NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY
Dr. Robert R. Seyda
EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS
SUMMARY OF CHAPTER FIFTEEN
Paul continues his discussion from chapter fourteen on how the strong believers are to fellowship with and have patience with the indecision of the weak believer. So Paul encourages the strong to be focused on uplifting the weak, not tearing them down. He reminds them of the unselfish actions and obedience to God’s will by Christ, thereby offering Him as an example. He also reminded them of the value of the Scriptures in the First Covenant and pleads for them to develop patience so that with one mind and one mouth the Jews and Gentiles may glorify God together as one body in Christ. Finally, he calls on them to show love and kindness to one another to the glory of God, just as Christ served both Jews and Gentiles in fulfilling the prophecies about Him in the First Covenant in order to initiate the Final Covenant. Paul then offers a prayer that God might fill them with joy and peace so that they may abound in hope with the help of the Holy Spirit.
At this point, Paul begins to draw this epistle to a close by making remarks concerning his apostleship and plans to see them someday. Although he recognized their own abilities in the faith, he still felt it appropriate to write to them in an instructive way. He mentions that any delay in coming to see them is caused by his design to preach where Christ is unknown to people who’ve never heard the Gospel. Paul then tells them of his plan to come to Rome on his way to Spain. But first, he must go to deliver to the believers suffering hardships because of the Romans, the contributions he gathered from the Gentile saints in Macedonia and Achaia. Realizing the danger of such a trip entails, he asks to be remembered daily in their prayers.
So in the end, all Paul really wants if for all the saints in Rome to live in harmony together and glorify God together without worrying about their differences. Remember, Christ is equally with the Jewish-Christians and the Gentile-Christians, too. So he asks them in a nice way to be nice to each other. Paul actually has a good feeling about the Romans. He knows they’re upstanding people who are knowledgeable and can help each other do what’s right by God.
His real reason for writing to them is to tell them all this and to give them advice because of his special relationship with God as an appointed Apostle. That should be respected by all of them. It’s not that Paul is trying to brag about his special status in the church, he only brags about all the good things that God has done through him.
For example, Paul won hundreds of converts throughout the Roman Empire, but that’s all God’s doing. He’s the one who made that happen. Paul’s not usually in the business of preaching about Jesus where people already know him. He also doesn’t usually come into a church community he didn’t start, like the one in Rome, and start handing out advice. No, never. That’s why he hasn’t been to see the Roman Christians in person yet. He’s been meaning to, but there are just so many non-believers who need to hear the good news first hand. Paul’s got a busy schedule.
But now he’s concluding that part of his ministry, so he’s going to first go to Jerusalem and then head over to Rome and stay a while on his way to preach the Gospel in Spain. Before that, Paul must go to Jerusalem to provide assistance to the believers there. The good folks in Macedonia and Achaia collected funds for the poor there and he’s going to deliver the money. Paul tells that these Gentile-Christians are more than happy to share their material blessings with the Jewish-Christians in Jerusalem because they’ve gotten such a large share of the spiritual blessings from Christ. Paul’s also hoping that the Romans might pray for him so that he doesn’t get taken down by the non-believers in Judea (like what happened to Jesus) so that he could say that he was an Apostle to all Christians, Jews and Gentiles alike.
And with that Paul finishes this chapter with a benediction and request for God’s blessings on this final leg of his ministry, and in the hope that he will be able to follow up this letter with a personal visit to the saints in Rome.