Acceptance of Brethren
Bear with the weak (Romans 15:1-3)
Those who have strong confidence in what they believe ought to support those with less stable confidence (I Corinthians 9:22; 12:22-24). Being a Christian is not about doing what you want but about helping others reach heaven (I Corinthians 10:24,33; Galatians 6:1-2; Philippians 2:3-5; I Thessalonians 5:14). We are here to strengthen our brethren (Ephesians 4:11-16; I Corinthians 9:19).
Christ leaves us the ultimate example of putting others ahead of himself (John 6:38). Paul quotes Psalms 69:9 to prove his point. Christ didn’t put his personal happiness first. He found happiness in serving the Father (Psalms 40:7-8).
1. Romans 15:3 contains an ellipsis, where a part of the statement is not directly stated but implied. What is the missing part?
The encouragement of God (Romans 15:4-6)
Quotes from the Old Testament have a purpose. We have the Old Testament in our Bible so that we can learn from it (Romans 4:23-24; I Corinthians 9:9-10; 10:11). It illustrates the teachings in the New Testament and reinforces the message of God (II Timothy 3:16-17). We have examples of patience. We find hope that through trials there are promises kept and rewards given. It is also true in the New Testament (II Corinthians 1:3-11). The prophecy about Christ wasn’t just for him alone, we learn from His example as well (I Thessalonians 1:3).
God, Himself, is longsuffering with us (II Peter 3:9) and He offers us comfort (II Corinthians 1:3). Thus, we must do the same for our brethren. We need to treat all Christians equally (Romans 12:16; I Corinthians 1:10; II Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 1:27; 2:2; 3:16; I Peter 3:8). We need to be a united people. But it is not unity for unity sake. It is a unity according to the teachings of Christ.
Our unity then gives glory to God (John 13:34-35). It is how the early church acted (Acts 1:14; 2:1; 4:24).
1. Can we be proper Christians without a knowledge of the Old Testament?
Christ’s example (Romans 15:7-12)
We ought to receive each other just as Christ received us (Ephesians 1:6). If Christ accepts us, despite our weaknesses and flaws, can we be less tolerant than Christ? In particular Paul is addressing the difference between Christians who were once Jews and Christians who were once Gentiles. Jesus served the Jews to fulfill the promises of God made to their forefathers. Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, that was long promised to save God’s people from their sins (Micah 7:20; Acts 3:25-26). But it wasn’t to the Jews only. Jesus also brought salvation to the Gentiles (John 10:16). Paul proves that God has accepted the Gentiles by quoting the Old Testament (Psalms 18:49; Deuteronomy 32:43; Psalms 117:1; Isaiah 11:10). Each passage becomes clearer and more direct that Christ will save the Gentiles.
Hope (Romans 15:13)
God is the God of hope (Psalms 146:5; Jeremiah 17:7; I Peter 1:3). It is Paul’s prayer that they have all joy, peace in their faith, and an abundance of hope (Hebrews 6:11), all brought about by the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17; Galatians 5:22-23).
1. Does God mean for Christians to serve alone?
2. Are there limits to our acceptance of brethren?