Written For Our Learning Rom. 15:1-14 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In Rom 15:4 Paul wrote, whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning. The things written aforetime are in the Old Testament. We can learn things from reading and applying the Old Testament that help us spiritually and even doctrinally. Through the scriptures we learn:
To bear the infirmities of the weak – Rom 15:1-3 – an infirmity is not only an ailment but it is also a physical or moral weakness. Christ bore “our griefs, and carried our sorrows,” [as it is written in Is 53:4]. These are called infirmities and sicknesses in Matt 8:17. We can see by the way the Lord carried Israel that it’s up to the strong to bear the weak [Ex 19:4]. So, the stronger among God’s people should not look down upon the weaker [Rom 14:1], but should bear their weaknesses.
- By not pleasing ourselves – when it came to the salvation of sinners and the edification of saints, Paul never put himself first. He always sought to please others [1 Cor 10:33]. Yet, when it came to the preservation of doctrine and the preaching of the true gospel, Paul only pleased God, not men [Gal 1:10].
- By following Christ’s example – Paul quotes the second part of Ps 69:9 in Rom 15:3. You can see the reference to Jesus Christ in the first part of Ps 69:9 [compare Jn 2:17]. Jesus Christ bore the blame for those who reproached God (accused God of a fault). By following Christ’s example of not pleasing himself, we should likewise not seek to please ourselves, but rather to edify our brethren.
To have hope – Rom 15:4 – In Ps 119:49 it is written, “Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.” When we read the many times that God forgave Israel and had compassion on them, our hope in God is strengthened [Ps 78:4-7]. See also Ps 119:74.
- Through the patience of the scriptures – God has been extremely patient with Israel and we should likewise be patient with those who are weak in faith. It takes lots of time to grow a strong Christian [1 Pet 2:2; Heb 5:13-14].
- Through the comfort of the scriptures – Ps 119:50. Waiting on weaker brethren to come around can cause grief and distress as we suffer through their many mistakes and sins. The scriptures comfort us with hope as we patiently wait for them to come around.
- Through joy and peace in believing – Rom 15:13 – Paul didn’t want us to simply have hope; he wanted us to “abound” in hope. We abound in hope through joy and peace in believing the scriptures [Jer 15:16; Acts 10:36]. Paul’s hope and joy were tied to souls who had been saved. He was assured that they would be with him in the presence of the Lord when Jesus returns [1 Thes 2:19].
- Through the power of the Holy Ghost – Rom 15:13 – joy and peace are two of the first three characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit [Gal 5:22-23]. The joy, peace, hope and comfort that we receive by the power of the Holy Spirit are connected to the words of God [Jn 14:26-29].
To glorify God – Rom 15:5-7 – this is one of the main purposes of saints in the church [1 Cor 10:31; Eph 3:21].
- With one mind and one mouth – Eph 4:2-3; Phil 2:2-4 – God is glorified when his Spirit keeps us in unity.
- By receiving one another as Christ received us – many of us who are saved came to Christ beat up by sin. Yet Christ received us to the glory of God. We are to likewise receive each other to the glory of God.
That Christ’s ministry was to Jews and Gentiles – Rom 15:8-12 – Jesus’ ministry was predominately to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” [Matt 15:24].
- He confirmed the promises made to the Jewish fathers – Jesus came to fulfill the promises made to the fathers. He is the Jewish Messiah [Jn 4:25-26]. He fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies concerning what we call his first coming, and he “set the stage” to fulfill the rest of the prophecies when he returns.
- He opened the way of salvation to Gentiles – though Jesus came for the lost sheep of the house of Israel, he also ministered to some Gentiles [Matt 8:5-13 so great faith; Matt 15:21-28 great is thy faith]. Paul quotes four Old Testament passages concerning Gentile salvation. All of the references are to the 2nd Advent and the millennial reign of Jesus. Because the Jews rejected their king even after his ascension, the gospel opened to Gentiles in “the church age.”
To admonish one another – Rom 15:14 – Paul had been admonishing the Romans, with his exhortation, to bear the infirmities of the weak and to be likeminded. You can see from this passage that there must have been a divide amongst them that Jews were better than Gentiles. He settled that division by showing from the scriptures that Gentiles are included in God’s plan. He then encouraged them that they should admonish one another, too.
- Through the goodness of God – he complimented them for the goodness that was apparent in them and he encouraged them to admonish one another through the goodness of God. In other words, they should continue what he began with this letter.
- Through the knowledge of the scriptures – they could see in the scriptures the same things we can see regarding the inclusion of Gentiles in the salvation wrought by Jesus Christ.
Conclusion: Paul uses this admonition to prepare the Romans for the description of his ministry to the Gentiles, which he begins to explain in verses 15 and 16.