Translations: Chinese GB Big5

Romans 15 (web)

Minister as Christ Did

Accepting One Another

15:1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
15:2 Let each one of us please his neighbor for that which is good, to be building him up.
15:3 For even Christ didn't please himself. But, as it is written,
"The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me." (Ps 69:9)
15:4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning,
that through patience and through encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
15:5 Now the God of patience and of encouragement grant you
to be of the same mind one with another according to Christ Jesus,
15:6 that with one accord you may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15:7 Therefore receive one another, even as Christ also received you, to the glory of God.
{TR reads "us" instead of "you"}
15:8 Now I say that Christ has been made a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God,
that he might confirm the promises given to the fathers,
15:9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
"Therefore will I give praise to you among the Gentiles,
And sing to your name." (Ps 18:49)
15:10 Again he says,
"Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people." (Deut 32:43)
15:11 Again,
"Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Let all the peoples praise him." (Ps 117:11)
15:12 Again, Isaiah says,
"There will be the root of Jesse, He who arises to rule over the Gentiles;
On him will the Gentiles hope." (Isaiah 11:10)
15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
that you may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul's Example of Ministering as Christ Did

1. Preaching

15:14 I myself am also persuaded about you, my brothers,
that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish others.
15:15 But I write the more boldly to you in part, as reminding you,
because of the grace that was given to me by God,
15:16 that I should be a servant of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles,
ministering as a priest the gospel of God,
that the offering up of the Gentiles might be made acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
15:17 I have therefore my boasting in Christ Jesus in things pertaining to God.
15:18 For I will not dare to speak of any things except those which Christ worked through me,
for the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed,
15:19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of God's Spirit;
so that from Jerusalem, and around as far as to Illyricum
, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ;
15:20 yes, making it my aim to preach the gospel,
not where Christ was already named, that I might not build on another's foundation.
15:21 But, as it is written,
"They will see, to whom no news of him came.
They who haven't heard will understand." (Isaiah 52:15)
15:22 Therefore also I was hindered these many times from coming to you,

2. Providing for Practical Needs

15:23 but now, no longer having any place in these regions,
and having these many years a longing to come to you,
15:24 whenever I journey to Spain, I will come to you.
For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you,
if first I may enjoy your company for a while.
15:25 But now, I say, I am going to Jerusalem, serving the saints.
15:26 For it has been the good pleasure of Macedonia and Achaia
to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are at Jerusalem.
15:27 Yes, it has been their good pleasure, and they are their debtors.
For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things,
they owe it to them also to serve them in fleshly things.
15:28 When therefore I have accomplished this, and have sealed to them this fruit,
I will go on by way of you to Spain.

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

3. Praying

15:30 Now I beg you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit,
that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me,
15:31 that I may be delivered from those who are disobedient in Judea,
and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints;
15:32 that I may come to you in joy through the will of God, and together with you, find rest.
15:33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.


Discussion Questions

vs 1 What are examples of weaknesses of others that we should bear?
vsv 7 Have you had trouble accepting or being accepted by other Christians?
vs 4 Have you found encouragement from the Bible?
What do we learn about Christ in this chapter?
How is evangelism linked to worshiping God in this chapter?
vs 17-33 What was Paul's objective in sharing all this personal information?
What is the difference between this and prideful boasting about oneself?
What kinds of applications did he hope the Romans would derive from it?
vs 18,19 When was the last time you preached the gospel?
vs 23 Can you say as Paul did that you have accomplished your ministry in this region and it's time to move on? Do you have a vision as to what your ministry is, and how you would measure whether it's been accomplished?
vs 31 What can you do to help insure that your Christian service will be acceptable to the other Christians?
vs 32 What kinds of people do you feel "refreshed" around?


Comments

Bear the Weakness of Others

Rom 15:1-2
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

"failings" the NKJV more accurately translates "scruples", as I have often referred to it elsewhere. But while we've been primarily applying this principle within the Church, in fact Paul applied this principle more universally, and so he teaches, "Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved." 1Cor 10:32,33

In contrast are the religiously elite of whom Jesus said, "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them." Lk 11:46 Are you hard on others and easy on yourself? Do you burden others with responsibility while not lifting a finger to help them? Do you rebuke others for sin while doing nothing to restore them? "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Col 3:13 "Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Gal 6:2


Scripture Invokes Endurance and Encouragement

Rom 15:3-4 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me." (Ps 69:9) For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2Tim 3:16,17 The Old Testament has relevance to the Christian life, though one must be careful how one interprets and applies the scriptures. For example twice Paul quotes Deut 25:4 "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.", applying it to the Christian life as also he does a number of historical events applying them allegorically to the Christian life.

In particular notice this quote from Ps 69. While Paul applies this as a messianic prophecy speaking of Christ, in fact as is the case with many such prophecies from the book of Psalms, the larger context is speaking of a sinner, namely King David. For example Ps 69:5 "You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you." But in the middle of his prayer he will speak prophetically as if the Lord Jesus were speaking, "For I endure scorn for your sake, and shame covers my face. I am a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my own mother’s sons; for zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me." Ps 69:7-9 And what is Christ's experience often turns out to be the Christian experience as well. And when you suffer for Christ and for the zeal for his Church, don't expect to find a sympathetic ear. For the Psalmist goes on, "I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none; And for comforters, but I found none. They also gave me gall for my food, And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." Ps 69:20,21 That is also what Christ suffered, and what you may suffer when you follow him.

"Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified." Acts 20:32


A Spirit of Unity

Rom 15:5,6 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is a typical example of Paul's prayers found in his letters, of which we can apply directly by emulating. And as is typical of most his prayers, the subject matter is not material but spiritual, being primarily about attitudes. For our concerns should not be primarily about circumstances but about attitudes, just as we find also concerning commands to Christians in the New Testament letters to the churches, which are primarily not about regulations but about attitudes.

While God's gifts are often dependent upon our cooperation, these are things which we do not generate in ourselves. God gives endurance. God gives encouragement. Paul had personal experience with this. "God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus" 2Cor 7:6 God also gives a spirit of unity. One of Jesus' last prayers was, "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me" John 17:23b The spirit of unity is to reckon all believers brethren and of equal value. In contrast is denominational unity which divides Christians based upon denominational affiliation, characteristic of much of the history of Christianity. Denominationalism suppresses Christians from exercising their spiritual gifts, keeping them gagged, immature, feeding them chaff, which accounts for much of the history of Christianity. But the unity Jesus and Paul speak of can only be achieved with the maturity gained through the Word and through the exercise of one's spiritual gifts in service to Christ with a perspective on the value of the members of the body as interdependent.

For "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." Eph 4:11-13 Therefore "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Eph 4:2,3


Discard Your Prejudices

Rom 15:7-12 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written:

"Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name." (Ps 18:49)

 Again, it says, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people." (Deut 32:43)

And again, "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples." (Ps 117:11)

And again, Isaiah says, "The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him." (Isaiah 11:10)

As I mentioned in previous chapters, the primary division at the time was the a division between Jewish and Gentile Christians, the unity of which is a major theme throughout Paul's letters. Here Paul quotes abundantly from the Old Testament to impress this truth upon Jewish Christians that this concept has always been God's intention.


Joy, Peace, Hope

Rom 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Yet another example of Paul's prayer which we can emulate. And again note the spiritual content, just as previously he prayed for unity, so also he prays that God may impart joy and peace. But notice the dependency. What he ultimately intends is for them to experience overflowing hope. To this end he prays for peace and joy. If a person lacks a sense of peace with God and joy in their salvation, this affects their hope. And notice also the phrase "as you trust in him" indicates cooperation on our part is involved in attaining peace, joy and hope.
 
Now in particular, hope is a feeling of an anticipation of the good things of which we believe will occur. The hope of which he speaks is our anticipation of going to heaven, having attained peace with God through the blood of Christ to our joy. If you knew you were guaranteed eternal life in peace with God being confident in that faith, wouldn't your hope be expressed in joy? Well, that is the fact.

"May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word." 2Th 2:16,17


Attributes to Attain

Rom 15:14 I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.

This would have been encouraging to hear. And in fact throughout Paul's letters he not only teaches doctrine and application, but also he speaks of his evaluation of those he's instructing. Those who do so should learn to criticize weaknesses, but also affirm strengths as Paul does. What were the the strengths of the church at Rome, or at least those strengths Paul pointed out? That their intentions were good, and they were full of knowledge. (The word "complete" is inaccurate.) And they had competence to teach one another.

Interesting that the last two were among the first attributes Peter mentioned in 2Peter chapter 1 saying, "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2Peter 1:5-8

If you have good intentions and right information, you need to take action with self-control. And having taken action to persevere in such, and so forth. Don't just stop with good intentions and knowledge. And this is important today concerning the study of Romans. For many study it like arm-chair theologians, looking only for things of which they may argue about rather than apply. But at the same time, if you haven't yet attained knowledge and the ability to teach, why not? Some were told, "In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!" Heb 5:12 But Romans was not written primarily to the immature, but to the mature. Consequently the spiritually immature who study it today often end up confused.


Dare to Speak

Rom 15:15,16  I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

The root word for "boldly" means "dare". There are some points of which we must dare to speak on for the edification of the body. What points may Paul have been alluding to here? Given that he goes on to speak of the Gentiles in particular it may have been his emphasis throughout Romans of Jewish Christians having the same status as Gentile Christians, which was controversial at the time, but significantly impacted how the gospel was delivered and received. There are many controversial subjects today, but pick your fights. Emphasize those which have the most significant impact, the most relevant. And also consider them categorically, whether they be a matter of doctrine and/or practice.

As for the rest, he speaks of priesthood, sacrifice and sanctification. For Peter also writes,  "you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." 1Pet 2:5  And as Paul said previously, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God— this is your spiritual act of worship." Rom 12:1

Sanctification is the process of becoming Christlike. It affects a person's attitude and behavior and consequently their lifestyle. Thus Paul said to the Corinthians, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?" 1Cor 6:9a and goes on to list categories of wicked people. But then says, "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." 1Cor 6:11 For we "have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood" 1Peter 1:2


Serve Christ Enthusiastically

Rom 15:17-19 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.

In contrast to those who serve reluctantly and begudgingly, Paul served God enthusiastically. So also let us serve God enthusiastically. Take joy in your service to God. And "whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Col 3:23,24

Paul's primary service was the preaching of the gospel to Gentiles - the culturally distant. But much as the gospel is about salvation being a free gift given graciously and received by faith, the faith that saves is the faith that obeys, as he had said from the beginning of Romans, "Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith." Rom 1:5 Not that obedience is a condition for salvation, but rather obedience is the outworking of genuine faith. And thus obedience is indicative of those who have been saved by faith.

Now Paul also speaks of signs and miracles. These validated his claims of being an apostle of Christ, as he said also to the Corinthians, "Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds." 2Cor 12:12 They validated his claims just as Jesus miracles validated his claims, a fact which Peter utilized in his first sermon. "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know." Acts 2:22 And for this reason whenever the gospel is preached in the Bible, the resurrection of Christ is always mentioned as forensic evidence validating the claims of the gospel. "God has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead." Acts 17:31

Illyricum is on the west side of Greece. So Paul had spread the gospel from Jerusalem to Galatia and crossed the Aegean sea to Greece all the way to western Greece. So he has yet to enter Rome itself, which he will end up doing in a rather round about way be getting arrested back in Jerusalem and sent to Rome for trial.


A Calling to the Unchurched

Rom 15:20-22 It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written: "Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand." (Isaiah 52:15) This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.

While it is not the case with all Christians, as the Spirit has distributed a diversity of gifts and ministries among the body of Christ, Paul's particular calling was to establish the foundation wherever he went, not building on someone else's foundation. "By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it." 1Cor 3:10a Notice that he's not so possessive, not so covetous of those he established in the faith that he would not allow anyone to build on the ministry he's established. Quite the contrary. He wanted people to take over the ministry after he's laid the foundation.

Thus he said of the Corinthian church, "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow." 1Cor 3:6 and also "we do not want to boast about work already done in another man’s territory." 2Cor 10:16b Avoid taking credit for other people's work. Jesus said to his disciples, "I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor." John 4:38

As for his reference to Isaiah 52:15, notice the context of Isaiah 52:13-15.

"See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness— so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand."

This would seem to be speaking of the Messiah, yet Paul applies it to himself. Afterall, we are ambassadors for Christ (2Cor 5:20) who also lives in us, as Paul says, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Gal 2:20


Be Mission Minded

Rom 15:23,24
  But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to see you,  I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to visit you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.

As Paul's particular calling was to preach to those who hadn't heard the gospel, establishing churches in untouched regions, and as others had already established the church at Rome, he planned only to pass through and visit on his way to another untouched region, namely Spain.

Paul was "mission minded" more than just outreached oriented. For he measured the progress of his mission in fulfilling objectives. And so his comment that there was "no more place for me to work in these regions.", indicates the gospel had been sufficiently preached to such that he had to seek new territory to fulfill his mission. Likewise Jesus was mission minded, objective oriented. For note his prayer in John 17 where he categorizes his accomplishments in bullet points.

At the end of our lives we should be able to say as Jesus did in John 17:

vs 4 I glorified you on the earth
vs 4 I have accomplished the work which you have given me to do.
vs 6 I revealed your name to the people whom you have given me out of the world.
vs 9 I pray for them.
vs 12 I protected them and kept them safe
vs 14 I have given them your word
vs 18 I have sent them into the world
vs 22  I have given them the glory that you gave me
vs 26 I have made known to them your name

As for assistance, Paul tried to avoid financial dependency upon other, as he also instructed the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:33-35. But work is not always easily obtainable for those on the move. Jesus commends hospitality towards such people, "Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet‘s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward." Mt 10:41


Contribute to the Poor

Rom 15:25-27  Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.

His trip to Jerusalem is fairly well documented as he had to stand trial and testify of it before governor Felix in Acts 24 when he said, "After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings." Acts 24:17 For he had been arrested on false charges after a crowd hostile Jews were aroused against him, primarily because of his love for Gentiles. But despite his coming to Jerusalem in service to the poor, the saying is often true, "no good deed goes unpunished" when it comes to dealing with unbelievers.

The poor were often on his mind. I previously mentioned his advice to the Ephesian elders - one of the things he told them in relinquishing their right to get paid for ministry was, "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’" Acts 20:35 and likewise when he met the apostles previously in Jerusalem back in Acts 15 "They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do." Gal 2:9b-10 "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Gal 6:10

And concerning material reward in return for spiritual work Paul also writes concerning himself, "If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ." 1Cor 9:11,12 


Plan Fellowship

Rom 15:28,29  So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.

Indeed what Paul said came to pass, but not necessarily in the manner that he expected. But as all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose, so also was Paul's perspective concerning his arrest. He says to the Philippians, "Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly." Php 1:12-14 And so it also benefitted us today as the Lord provided Paul time and circumstances to write a number of New Testament letters. The book of Acts ends with Paul under house arrest. "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 In fact the Christians in Rome were likely very glad that Paul was under house arrested. For he had only planned on passing through, but instead they enjoyed the fellowship for a couple of years at least.

While it's good to make plans, sometimes things go "wrong" when God has made better plans.


Pray for Ministries

Rom 15:30 I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.

God has so ordained it that prayer matters, but it requires cooperation on our part. It is a service to urge the saints to pray, as Paul does here. Often we don't pray if we are not urged to do so. Thus Paul elsewhere says, "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone" 1Tim 2:1

Ideally we would pray out of the love imparted for others imparted to us by the Holy Spirit. But it is a struggle to pray insomuch as it is a struggle between the flesh and the Spirit. In Col 4:12 Ephaphras is described as "always wrestling in prayer for you." Before his trial Jesus is described as "being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." Luke 22:44

One of the main things Paul was concerned about was boldness in the presentation of the gospel.

Prayer Series Eph 6:18-20 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.


 Pray for Deliverance from Hostile People

Rom 15:31-33  Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen.

The Jews in Jerusalem, both unbelievers and believers were generally hostile to Paul, which is the basis of his prayer. For when he arrived in Jerusalem to delivered the donation he had collected from the Gentile churches, the elders there, including James told him, "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law." Acts 21:20-24 It seems in the church age that the greatest hostility and persecution Christians suffer comes not from outside the church but from inside the church, where denominational prejudices override faith in Christ. In Paul case it seems no good deed goes unpunished with regards to his attempt to love his brethren in Jerusalem.

In this case Paul tried to live in peace, being all things to all men by taking part in a Jewish ceremony, but was slandered in the process and the great hatred the Jews had for him was unleashed in a riot trying to kill him. Funny that James, Peter and John had been ministering in the church there for years and yet the crowds did not treat them as they did Paul, for they avoided the Gentiles, refusing to minister to them, catering to the prejudices of the Jews around them. If you're not experiencing persecution, could it be because you're unnecessarily avoiding it? Are you avoiding telling things which people need to hear but which will make you unpopular? You're not alone, Peter, James, and John in their early years did the same. God will assign others to doing that which you've neglected out of fear of hardship.

As for Paul, the Gentiles - the Roman guards in particular - saved him from the mob. He was imprisoned and as a result was given opportunity to testify of the gospel to kings as Jesus foretold, "This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel." Acts 9:15 And he got a free boat ride to Rome where he ministered for a number of years, much to the delight of the Christians there. For "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Rom 8:28


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources


Jul 29,2015