Friday, 17 January 2014
Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. Romans 15:14
For the most part, Paul has given the bulk of his epistle of doctrine and he has given his words of instruction. His benediction of verse 13 has been uttered and now he begins a lengthy closing statement. However, it is not without further instruction or doctrine. It is mingled, among other things, with special reflections, personal requests, and words of encouragement and greeting to individuals.
Having spent so much time on the issue of “disputable matters” and the necessity to develop and maintain harmony within the church concerning those things, he tactfully provides today’s verse. “Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren…” He has heard of the church, he has given them instruction, and now he is encouraging them by acknowledging that they are capable to handle all the points of doctrine they have received as well as being able to handle the “disputable matters” which exist.
To these “brethren” and in full confidence of this, he tells them that you are –
1) “Full of goodness.” They will be willing to properly and tactfully respond to the weaknesses of others without judgment in matters which are not of doctrinal weight and importance. Instead, their goodness will shine forth and make adjustments in these issues.
2) “Filled with all knowledge.” They were already established in Christ (Romans 1:8) and now Paul has instructed them in the issues necessary to elevate them to right knowledge in the areas they may have been lacking. As an apostle (Romans 1:1) he has carefully submitted a thoughtful and majestic epistle of instruction on how to handle matters of both doctrinal weight and importance and those of lesser weight which are disputable in nature. This knowledge is sufficient to the task of building them into an effective and mature body of believers.
3) “Able also to admonish one another.” Through their knowledge, and with the assistance of a written epistle which they can hold on to and refer to for instruction, they are now able to correct one another in doctrinal deficiencies and also to decide what matters are doubtful. Knowledge in those matters which are weighty in nature will keep the congregation on sound footing and away from heresy, licentiousness, and apostasy. Those matters which are of less moment can be addressed from a loving standpoint where the weaker will grow to a state of strength and the stronger will be kept from haughtiness or arrogance when dealing with the weaker in the body.
In essence, the “goodness” in them will keep from damaging the faith of the weaker as well as inciting egotism in the stronger. At the same time, the “knowledge” is their source of correct instruction for the weaker in the faith. The “admonishment” is the effective means of instruction in a way which should avoid the pitfalls he has so carefully and exactingly warned against.
The example of Christ is to be remembered in it all and that example, as he summed up just before his benediction, is one which is equally bearing on Jew and Gentile. With God, there is no favoritism and only through acceptance of the state of one another, and a loving display of that acceptance, will the congregation truly reflect His example.
Life application: Doctrine matters in tenets of weight; acceptance of differences matters in disputable issues; goodness is a bridge to effectively use knowledge; and admonishment should come with that attitude of goodness. In all of this, remembering the example of Christ is paramount.
Lord God, in Your word I find Jesus and in Jesus I find Your very heart as He reveals You to me. Without Your word, I can’t know Jesus and so knowing You intimately isn’t possible. Shall I trade such wondrous knowledge for TV, internet, football, work, play, shopping, and a million other things until there isn’t time for You? No! Help me to make and use a portion of my time rightly Lord. Help me to learn Your word every day. Amen.