Romans 15:1-7

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

November 24, 1999


Paul has moved through his doctrinal section in Romans and now has moved on to the practical side of things.  

We’ve been talking about how to handle differences of opinions on the "gray" areas. There are many things that are clearly "black and white" for the Christian, but there are also many things that might be okay for some and not okay for others. What do we do when we come up against someone who has different convictions about one of these "gray" areas than we do?

Romans 15 continues with the same subject.

:1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak,

oughtopheilo – to owe; to owe money, be in debt for

strongdunatos – able, powerful, mighty, strong

infirmitiesasthenema – infirmity; of error arising from weakness of mind. This is the same basic work translated in Romans 14 as the "weaker" brother.

weakadunatos – without strength, impotent, powerless, weakly, disabled. This is basically the opposite word for the one translated "strong". This is the "unstrong", the "unable".

bearbastazo – to take up with the hands; to take up in order to carry or bear, to put upon one's self (something) to be carried; to bear what is burdensome; to sustain, i.e. uphold, support

The word is used in:

(Gal 6:1-2 KJV) Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. {2} Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.


Carry the weak.

(Mark 2:1-5 KJV) And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. {2} And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. {3} And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. {4} And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. {5} When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.

The paralyzed man couldn’t get to Jesus on his own. He needed four loving friends who cared enough for him to carry him to Jesus. And they let nothing stop them. Even the crowds couldn’t stop them. They found a way to bring Him to Jesus.

Sometimes we can get good at carrying the weak ones, but where do we carry them? Carry them to Jesus. You do no good by just carrying them around on your back. You’ll wear out. Carry them to Jesus.

:1 and not to please ourselves.

to pleasearesko – to please; to strive to please

This was how Paul lived, looking to do what would build others up and not just do things for his own sake.

(1 Cor 10:31-33 KJV) Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. {32} Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: {33} Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.


Who do you do it for?

I think from time to time we need to ask ourselves why we do our particular ministries.

I heard Pastor Chuck talking on the radio the other day about shepherds from John 10.

(John 10:11-14 KJV) I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. {12} But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. {13} The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. {14} I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

The hireling watches sheep to get a paycheck. The shepherd watches the sheep because they are his. The hireling is out to fleece the flock. The shepherd is out to feed the flock. The hireling is working with the flock for what he can personally get out of it. The shepherd works for the flock for the sake of the flock.


:2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.

neighborplesion – a neighbour; a friend; any other person, and where two are concerned, the other (thy fellow man, thy neighbour), according to the Jews, any member of the Hebrew nation and commonwealth; according to Christ, any other man irrespective of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet

Luke 10:29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

By telling the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus defined the "neighbor" as whoever you run into.

to pleasearesko – to please; to strive to please; to accommodate one's self to the opinions desires and interests of others

goodagathos – of good constitution or nature; useful, salutary; good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy

edificationoikodome – (the act of) building, building up; the act of one who promotes another's growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness, holiness

(Rom 14:19 KJV) Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

We don’t just want to make people happy when we "please" them. We want to seek to build them up in the Lord.

:3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.

pleasedaresko – to please; to strive to please; to accommodate one's self to the opinions desires and interests of others

reproachesoneidismos – a reproach; such as Christ suffered, for the cause of God, from his enemies

reproachedoneidizo – to reproach, upbraid, revile; of deserved reproach

Paul quotes from:

Psalms 69:9 For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.

Jesus didn’t please Himself because He put Himself in a place where He would face reproaches.

He faced the insults.

I know there are times where I don’t want to talk to certain people because I’m going to get an earful of it. I don’t want to put myself in a place where I have somebody criticizing me.

:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

written aforetimeprographo – to write before (of time); of old set forth or designated before hand (in the scriptures of the OT)

learningdidaskalia – teaching, instruction

patiencehupomone – steadfastness, constancy, endurance; in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings. The word means literally, "remain under". I often think of it as "remaining under the pressure".

comfortparaklesis – a calling near, summons, (esp. for help); exhortation, admonition, encouragement

hopeelpis – expectation of good, hope

It’s possible that both "patience" and "comfort" are "of" the Scripture, but I think it’s more likely that what Paul is saying is that we need to be supplying "patience", and the "encouragement" comes from the Scripture. The idea is this –

As we learn to remain under the pressure of the trials we’re in, we can receive encouragement or comfort from the Scriptures, and this is what gives us hope.


Stick to it.

You don’t receive the blessings if you don’t stay with it.

You’ll never win any race if you don’t stay in the race. You may not win first prize, but you won’t win any prize if you drop out of the race.

Trials exercise the muscle called "patience":

(James 1:2-4 NASB) Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, {3} knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. {4} And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

God’s goal in allowing trials into our lives is to help us build up the muscle of patience.

We live in a sinful, fallen world. There are going to be plenty of difficulties all around us, whether we are Christians or not. But God wants His people to be those who aren’t drowned in their trials. He wants His people to be able to swim through them. He wants us to show others how to swim. God doesn’t promise to take away the choppy seas, He teaches us how to swim.


Stay in the Word.

Sticking it out without being in the Word will bring you nothing but frustration.

Your encouragement should be coming from God’s Word.

As you stay in the Scriptures and receive encouragement, you’ll start to receive hope as well.

Here’s how Paul’s example works:

Things like what Paul has quoted from the Psalms in verse 3 were written to help encourage us to find hope.

If Jesus was willing to bear insults as an example of one who didn’t seek to please Himself, then maybe I could learn from Him.

And even more important, this principle was spoken of before Jesus was born! God thinks this principle is so important, that He spoke of it before it even happened!

God is really serious about me learning not to please myself, but to learn to build others up.

Even though Jesus suffered insults, God knew all about it beforehand. Nothing was a surprise to God. Nobody got God’s purposes for Jesus off track. Everything was right on target.

There’s hope in knowing that God is in control.

As you stay in God’s Word, you’re going to find lots of things jumping out of the page into your heart. That’s the way it is supposed to work. As you read the whole Bible, you’ll find yourself identifying with the various people and drawing encouragement from their examples. You’ll find hope. If they could do it, so can you.

:5 Now the God of patience and consolation

patiencehupomone – steadfastness, constancy, endurance; in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings

consolationparaklesis – a calling near, summons, (esp. for help); exhortation, admonition, encouragement. Same word translated "comfort" in verse 4.


Get it from God.

If we need patience and consolation, He’s the one to give it to us. It’s a shame that we don’t go to the One who has what we need. Think of His patience towards us. He’s got LOTS of it to give.

:5 grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:

likemindedphroneo (+ auto "same") – to have understanding, be wise; to feel, to think; to be of the same mind i.e. agreed together, cherish the same views, be harmonious

God’s desire is that we learn to get along with each other.

:6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

one mindhomothumadon – with one mind, with one accord, with one passion. A unique Greek word, used 10 of its 12 New Testament occurrences in the Book of Acts, helps us understand the uniqueness of the Christian community. Homothumadon is a compound of two words meaning to "rush along" and "in unison". The image is almost musical; a number of notes are sounded which, while different, harmonize in pitch and tone. As the instruments of a great concert under the direction of a concert master, so the Holy Spirit blends together the lives of members of Christ’s church.

one mouth – literally, "one mouth"

glorifydoxazo – to think, suppose, be of opinion; to praise, extol, magnify, celebrate; to honour, do honour to, hold in honour; to make glorious, adorn with luster, clothe with splendor

We need to learn to get along together so we can praise the Lord in unison, together, not in just a bunch of noise.


The beauty of unity

(Psa 133 KJV) A Song of degrees of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! {2} It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; {3} As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

There is a greater sense of "anointing" when we learn to get along in unity.

Sometimes we fall into the trap of trying to analyze and criticize everything and everyone around us. Sometimes it can start off innocently enough, even doing it so that we can "improve" those around us. But if we’re not careful, we can start developing attitudes towards those around us, bringing division in the church.

I get concerned when I hear well-meaning Christians working harder to find out what’s wrong with other Christians or other churches than they do at working to get along with them.

Jesus is concerned that we work at unity. He prayed for it:

(John 17:20-23 KJV) Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; {21} That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. {22} And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: {23} I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

He said that the world would believe when we are one. Our unity shows the world that Jesus is real.

In the same way, Jesus said,

(John 13:34-35 KJV) A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. {35} By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

On a large scale, that’s why I feel it’s important to be meeting with the pastors of the other churches in Fullerton.

On a smaller scale, it’s important that we work at unity within the church.

Sometimes when someone steps out and tries something new in the church, the "piranhas" of the church go into a feeding frenzy. We can sit back and criticize and find fault with every little thing. We ought to work at building each other up.

:7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

whereforedio – wherefore, on account off

It’s for this purpose of bringing unified worship to the Lord that we need to be doing this.

This is really the whole focus of what Paul has been saying since the beginning of chapter 14. In fact, even at the end of chapter 13 Paul was saying:

(Rom 13:8 KJV) Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

receive yeproslambano – to take to, take in addition, to take to one's self; to take as one's companion; to take by the hand in order to lead aside; to take or receive into one's home, with the collateral idea of kindness; to receive, i.e. grant one access to one's heart; to take into friendship. This is the same word that was used back in:

(Rom 14:1 KJV) Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

receivedproslambano – to take to, take in addition, to take to one's self; to take as one's companion … same as word above.

as Christ also received us …

God’s love for us was not conditional upon us living up to His standards. He loved us despite who we were.

(Rom 5:8 NKJV) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

to the glory of God – God was glorified in Jesus receiving us. We might think that it’s shameful to be near certain people, but God is glorified.


Accept them, even if they’re different.

His name is Bill. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college. He is brilliant. Kinda esoteric and very, very bright. He became a Christian while attending college. Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very conservative church. They want to develop a ministry to the students, but are not sure how to go about it. One day Bill decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair. The service has already started and so Bill starts down the aisle looking for a seat. The church is completely packed and he can’t find a seat. By now people are looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything. Bill gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit and when he realizes there are no seats, he just squats down right on the carpet. (Although perfectly acceptable behavior at a college fellowship, trust me, this had never happened in this church before!) By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick. About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, a deacon is slowly making his way toward Bill. Now the deacon is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, a three-piece suit, and a pocket watch. A godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly. He walks with a cane and as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves, "You can’t blame him for what he’s going to do. How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid on the floor?" It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy. The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the man’s cane. All eyes are focused on him. You can’t even hear anyone breathing. The people are thinking, "The minister can’t even preach the sermon until the deacon does what he has to do." And now they see this elderly man drop his cane on the floor. With great difficulty he lowers himself and sits down next to Bill and worships with him so he won’t be alone. Everyone chokes up with emotion. When the minister gains control he says, "What I’m about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget."

- Author unknown

I pray that we might be a church like that. No matter how people might think we’ll respond, we would surprise them with out acceptance of people who are different. I hope we’ll have an eye open to those who might feel out of place, and that we might make ourselves a little uncomfortable for the sake of loving others.