Romans 15:33


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen. Romans 15:33

In verse 15:13, Paul used the term “God of hope.” This followed directly after a citation from Isaiah about Jesus, the Hope of the Gentiles. Thus He is the hope of both Jew and Gentile. Now in this final verse of chapter 15, which closes out the major portion of his doctrinal statements and his future intentions, he calls on the “God of peace.” He has just asked for prayers and deliverance from possible trials ahead and in hopes of coming to Rome that they “may be refreshed together.”

The concept of peace to the Hebrew is more than quietness. Rather it is a state of wholeness. It includes contentment, health, and even prosperity. This is what he was looking for their prayers to accomplish for him. In anticipation of that, he offers his own for them, “Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.”

The God of peace is also the one to grant us His peace. He is the one who fashioned us and the one who knows our every need. Only in Him can true peace be found. Paul understood this and reflected it in his requests from those in Rome and has stated it in this short prayer for them as well. But another aspect of this petition must be considered based on the content of the epistle.

Throughout this letter, Paul has spoken about the various ways the gospel is directed toward Jew and Gentile. He has also shown how Jew and Gentile come to the gospel with their own backgrounds and so they will apply it to their lives based on that. Rather than this being a point of disharmony between the two, he has shown that God has accepted both and therefore there should be peace between them, not conflict or strife.

This state is explained very clearly in Ephesians 2:11-22 and it is well worth the time to read those verses in the light of Romans 15:33. In that portion of Ephesians, he will say this –

“And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.  For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” Ephesians 2:17, 18

As you can see, Paul is very consistent in his use of wording, terminology, and doctrine. The same “God of peace” mentioned in Romans 15:33 is the one that is both explained and exalted in Ephesians 2.

Life application: Paul’s comments are consistently directed to both Jew and Gentile and he never mixes the two, nor does he indicate that one would somehow “replace” the other. He never teaches that the church has replaced Israel nor that Jew and Gentile are now the same. It is true that there is no distinction between the two in Christ, but there is a difference between the two as members of Christ, just as there is a difference between male and female.

Lord God, I am so thankful that I can come to You just as I am. You didn’t ask me to change my language, my national identity, my hair style, or the food I eat. But the things You did ask me to leave behind are the things which only harmed me as a person and separated me from You. I have gained heaven, forsaken my wicked ways, and yet am still a unique individual in Your church. Thank You for this wonderful life in Christ! Amen.


Romans 15:32


Tuesday, 4 February 2014

…that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you. Romans 15:32

Taking the entire thought of verses 30-32 together we find the necessary context for this verse –

“Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me,  that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you.”

The “prayers to God” for Paul were requested in the immediate sense that he would be “delivered from those in Judea” and also that his service to the saints in Jerusalem might be acceptable. If those two things occurred, he was certain that in the long term he would be free to go to Rome and meet with the saints there “with joy by the will of God.”

These things in fact happened. He was delivered from those in Judea. The account in Acts is an amazing read. His life was threatened several times, almost coming to bodily harm. There was a plot to have him assassinated. He was imprisoned and spoke before rulers and even a king. But he was delivered, albeit in chains as a prisoner, from those in Judea. In those chains, he was taken to Rome to face trial before Caesar. Certainly none of this was expected, but “the will of God” was realized.

The book of Acts ends with the note that, “Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him,  preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.” Acts 28:30, 31

Though bound under house arrest, he was “refreshed together” with those in Rome. The anticipated and prayed-for meeting did come about and God’s will was realized.

Life application: He is there… God is there even when it seems He is far distant. Because God is Spirit, we don’t see Him and we often wonder about the events which happen around us. But if we truly live in the Spirit, remain obedient through the trials, and keep our thoughts and eyes fixed on Jesus, we can always have the certainty that everything is as it should be.

Heavenly Father, Your word says that no man has seen You or can see You. But I know my faith isn’t tied up in a fable. You truly are a very present help in times of trouble. When things are looking bad, I only need to think of what You did for me at Calvary. Jesus prevailed over that trial and so whatever I face now will be defeated and forgotten. The light affliction of the moment is working a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Hallelujah and Amen!


Romans 15:31


Monday, 3 February 2014

…that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints,… Romans 15:31

Paul just previously stated, “Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me…” This then sets up what continues in verse 31. He is asking for these prayers so that he “may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe.”

Before being called by Christ, he was a persecutor of the church. He was given letters to arrest those who followed in this new faith and he was even in attendance at the stoning of Stephen, Christianity’s first recorded martyr. His standing in Judaism was well known and he was a Pharisee who had progressed beyond many around him. But with his conversion, all of that was over. Those Jews whom he once fellowshipped with would have considered him an apostate from the faith and would certainly intend him harm.

This is one reason he requested such fervent prayer. Along with this, even the believing Jews may have considered Paul a rogue. He was out ministering to the gentiles and in Acts 21:20-25 rumors had spread that he was teaching “all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.” (Acts 21:21)

Because of this, even those Jews who had accepted Christ were most assuredly wary of him. In order to alleviate such concerns, he had taken a vow under the Old Testament Nazirite system and was intending to complete the customs associated with that vow when he arrived in Jerusalem. This would help to dispel the notion that he had rejected his Jewish roots or that he would speak contrary to the customs of the Jewish people.

But in this verse, along with what has been noted so far, is another reason for his requesting of prayers. It is that “my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints.” Because Paul was chosen as the “apostle to the gentiles,” and because he had been slandered among his people, the saints in Jerusalem might very well not accept his offering to them. He also might not be sure if they would consider charity from the gentiles as an acceptable means of support. Further, even if they accepted what gentiles offered, they may not receive it because of Paul’s position. These things probably weighed heavy on him as he prepared to depart for Jerusalem.

It should be noted that even today, 2000 years later, old habits die hard. Within the body are many who are “weak in the faith” because of a lack of proper upbringing in Christ, or because they carried a lot of baggage along when they came to Christ. All people are at different levels of maturity and all people are prone to different types of failings. Because of this, what may be perfectly acceptable to one, may be shunned by another. We need to be empathic with those who have limitations which differ from us.

Life application: When facing a coming challenge of whatever sort, it is always best to precede meeting that challenge with prayer. Depending on the weight of what lies ahead, it may even be good to reach out to others for their prayer as well. Paul’s letters show us that this is the preferred method of handling such things.

Lord Jesus, I thank You for those around me who remember me in prayer during my times of need. And I thank you that I can be there for them during their tough spots as well. You have given us each other to build up and support one another. What a great encouragement and comfort that is. The world is a tough place, but with You among us as we petition You for help, we can make it through any trial. Thank You Lord. Amen.


Romans 15:30


Sunday, 2 February 2014

Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me,… Romans 15:30

Between two thoughts which reflect his desire to come to Rome (verses 29 & 32) Paul stops abruptly and requests “prayers to God” for him. This shows an extreme concern about his trip to Jerusalem which is resulting in no little consternation. He seems to know that things could go badly down there and he indicates as much explicitly in the following verse.

Because of this tenuous situation, he now begs the brethren “through the Lord Jesus Christ” to take action. The wording here can be interpreted in a variety of ways, such as “for,” “through,” or “by.” If it is “for” then it is speaking of the honor of the Lord and the sanctity of His name. “Through” would indicate that the prayers were to be submitted to God “through” Jesus Christ as our great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14) and the Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5).

Either way, Paul is invoking the name of Christ in the process of prayers for safety. In addition to this, he also requested those prayers to be made “through the love of the Spirit.” Again, a couple possibilities in meaning exist here. One is speaking of the love which the Spirit has endowed in the believer (which should certainly be the case in those who join in prayer) or he could mean the love which the Spirit feels toward the believer just as the Father and the Son love those who have been saved by the blood of Christ. In either way, the Spirit, like Christ Jesus, is to be invoked in the prayers. As often occurs, this is another implicit hint at the Trinity where Jesus, the Spirit, and God are all named in one verse.

It is through and to this Godhead that he now asks those in Rome to “strive together with” him “in prayers to God” for his mission to Jerusalem. The word for “to strive together with” is used only this once in the New Testament. It speaks of wrestling or agonizing together or sharing in a contest. This is what Paul is requesting – an honest struggling in prayer for the sake of his coming dealings in Jerusalem.

Throughout his writings, Paul holds the process and power of prayer in the very highest esteem. And he notes that when it is conducted in a group manner it is of great weight before God. This is noted, for example, in 2 Corinthians 1:11 –

“…you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.”

Life application: Is there an important matter ahead of you or someone you fellowship with? Make an effort to join together with them in prayer concerning it. When you do, remember that your prayers to God are to be submitted through Jesus Christ and in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit to God. Our heavenly Father is pleased to receive such prayers and to respond to them according to our needs and in accordance with His perfect will.

Heavenly Father, You have shown us in Your word that the prayers of the many are powerful and effective when they are aligned with Your will. And so, for those who join with me today, I pray that You will be glorified among Your people. Be glorified through their praises, be glorified through the meeting of their needs, and be glorified in the thanks You receive for every good and kind blessing which is received. Be glorified in Your people, O God. Amen.



Romans 15:29


Saturday, 1 February 2014

But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. Romans 15:29

Paul, writing to the Romans under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, stated that he knew that he would come to Rome. It was his hope that he would go on to Spain, but it was imparted knowledge that he would meet with the Roman church and that it would be “in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.”

In the book of Acts, it is exactingly detailed from chapters 21-28 concerning how he finally made it to Rome. He went to Jerusalem as he anticipated and was subsequently arrested. Through a long and weary process, he was eventually taken in chains to Rome to stand trial before Caesar. There, still under guard in a type of house arrest as he awaited trial, this is how the book finishes out –

“Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.” Acts 28:30, 31

The question is, “How could Paul’s words have been fulfilled?” How could arrest and imprisonment be a “part of the blessing of the gospel of Christ?” The answer is that suffering for the gospel is one of the greatest blessings of all. On several occasions, Paul speaks of the honor of such affliction. In writing to his young protégé Timothy, he gave this note of encouragement –

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God… 2 Timothy 1:8

And he wasn’t just writing this as a mark of piety. He himself had suffered greatly for the gospel, including several imprisonments. Two examples of note make a direct connection between his chains and the advancement of the gospel –

“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” Philippians 1:12-14

“Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained.” 2 Timothy 2:8, 9

The astonishing thing isn’t that Paul made it to Rome in chains when he was anticipating doing so in the “fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.” What is beyond belief is that we would miss the fact that our suffering is often God’s way of being glorified and His way of advancing the gospel. Our suffering for Christ is a grant and an honor, not a mark of despair or disgrace. Should it come, remember the words of Paul to the Philippians –

“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.” Philippians 1:29, 30

How easy it is to forget these things as we sit in latte-filled churches with cozy chairs and noisy bands to drown out the week’s troubles.

The Bible and the gospel message turns the world upside down concerning what is expected and what is just, pure, and noble. The soundness of the Bible is demonstrated in the unexpected. When we ponder the stories that are written in Acts and then compare them to the words of the epistles, we can note how things were anticipated and how they actually occurred. And these two would otherwise be at complete odds with each other unless they occurred by the divine hand of God. As Godet says, “Would a forger of this epistle, in the second century, have drawn a picture of the future so opposite to the way in which things really came to pass?”

Life application: If you are expecting an easy life in Christ, then you probably aren’t expecting to do very much for Christ.

Lord God, I could pray for ease, prosperity, and abundance in my life, or I could pray for You to be glorified through my life. I know that if I pray for the latter, the former probably won’t happen. But guess what Lord… I pray that You be glorified through me above all else. Any blessing I receive, including suffering and chains, will be worth the high calling of Jesus Christ. Amen.