Romans 15

These small group studies of Romans contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Romans 15 Inductive Bible Study

Paraphrase

  1. The ones who are strong should be patient with the failures of those who are weak. Our goal should be to build them up and not only to please ourselves

  2. Each of us should be concerned for our neighbors’ needs and want to please and build him up.

  3. Even Jesus, who of all people had the right to please himself, did not put himself first. But it is written of him that “the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”

  4. For all the Scripture that has been written over more than a thousand years was written to each us, to give us endurance, encourage us and give us hope.

  5. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement also give all of you a spirit of unity with each other as you follow Christ Jesus.

  6. Then the body of Christ can with one heart and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  7. In exactly the same way that Christ accepted you, you should accept each other. This will bring praise to God.

  8. I declare to you that Christ became a servant of the Jews, teaching them God’s truth, to fulfill the promises made to the patriarchs

  9. so that the Gentiles may also glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name.”

  10. Another Scripture says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”

  11. Again, another says, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples.

  12. 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.”

  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.

Outline Verses 1-13

I.       Follow Christ Jesus in Unity (verses 1-13)

A.     The command: Put others first (verses 1-2)

1.      Christ’s example (verse 3)

2.      Scripture’s instruction (verse 4)

3.      Possible through God (verse 5)

4.      Purpose is to praise God (verse 6)

B.     The second command: Accept one another (verse 7)

1.      Christ’s example (8)

2.      Christ’s purpose: salvation for all people (verses 9-12)

3.      The result: hope, joy, and peace (verse 13)

Key Words

Bear- What does it mean to bear? Galatians 6:2, 1 Peter 5:7 to lift, to pick up and carry and a weight.

Endurance- It is not necessarily always easy to please our brethren and serve them. So we need endurance. Has the idea of patience.

Accept- Receive, take to oneself.

Teaching Points

This passage continues the idea of Christian unity in the church. It gives three basic exhortations/commands.

  1. This passage goes above and beyond the last passage. The last passage was mostly negative things about how we are NOT to judge, NOT to hurt, and NOT to offend our brothers. However, there is so much more to Christian fellowship than merely refraining from offending others or judging them. We should instead actively be pursuing the well being of others. We should think how we can help others to grow. We should bear with the weak. We should be patient towards them. Our goal should not be to serve or please ourselves. We want to serve and please the weak or those whom we consider to be weak. Please ourselves is just another way of saying being selfish. Anyone here have a problem with being selfish? Actually all of us are born selfish. This is perhaps the most basic sin that we have. It is very hard to be rid of it. But if they have difficulties or struggles we shouldn’t condemn them, look down on them, reject them, or be scornful of them. Instead we should consider how we can help them to grow in the Lord. That should be our primary concern and motivation. It won’t help them to grow if we deal harshly and strictly with them. How might we practically speaking “bear the weaknesses of those who are weak?” Galatians 6:2, 1 Peter 5:7 to lift, to pick up and carry and a weight. 2 Timothy 2:23-25, 1 Cor 13:7 It is like two pilgrims traveling together. When one gets tired, the other can help him for a while and vice-versa. Practically you can do this by praying for one another, sharing Scriptures to address the weak areas, coming alongside and encouraging someone we know is struggling with something, taking the time to listen and find out what struggles others are having, and just being gracious and upbuilding in our speech.

  2. The second command here is to please or build up our neighbors. This is the same basic idea as is found in verse one. 1 Cor 12:12-14, 25-26. As mentioned last week building loving others and helping them doesn’t just “happen”. It requires thought and careful consideration. It requires planned action and commitment to follow through. The immediate purpose in this is the edification of the body of Christ. The ultimate purpose is the glory of God. And the ultimate result for us is peace, joy, and hope.

  3. Paul gives these commands, but he doesn’t simply leave it at that. Of our own nature it would be difficult to impossible to follow these commands. Paul gives us a solid, visible example of someone who did just that, Jesus Christ. Much of this passage is dedicated to showing the example of Christ and the things He did for us and for the body of Christ, showing His complete selflessness PHP 2:5-7. Of all people who have ever lived Christ had the right and the ability to please Himself. Yet He gave that up, took on the hate and scorn of the people, all to build us up. What an example He is! He is also willing and able to impart this strength to us so that we will be able to follow in His footsteps.

  4. In addition to Christ’s example, Paul gives the OT Scriptures as instructions for us to follow in keeping these commands. Not only are many clear principles found in the OT that apply to this issue (they didn’t have the full NT yet), but there are also many clear examples of people who did just that. Who are some examples? Johnathan who didn’t please himself, but did what was good for David. Joseph, who kindly forgave his brothers and gently encouraged them to remember that God is in control. Abraham, who allowed Lot to take his pick of the land and didn’t argue when Lot selfishly chose the best looking part and then also saved Lot when Lot got into trouble as a result of his lifestyle choice (then again interceded for the city where Lot lived).

  5. The third command (verse 7) is to accept one another. This is the unifying element of the body of Christ. Although people come from all different backgrounds, careers, countries, and families we can still accept the differences and love each other as Christ loved us. To what degree are we to accept one another? We are to do it as Christ accepted us. A lot of times we may not want to accept others because they don’t deserve it. But we don’t deserve Christ accepting us either. Look at Peter who rebuked Jesus. Look at the rest of the disciples who again and again lacked faith and doubted. Look at Paul who actually persecuted the church. What does it mean to accept? I think forgiveness is perhaps the first step. Look at the story of the prodigal son. The father accepted him with open arms. He ran to him and embraced him. How about the brother? The brother refused to accept him because he didn’t observe it. Also, parable of the forgiven slave who refused to forgive. Acceptance is not just begrudgingly from arguing with somebody. It is embracing them as a person and warmly extending them the same love that Christ extended to us. How beautiful the church would be if all believers did this!!

Verse 8 – Christ confirmed the promises given to the patriarchs about their seed being a blessing to all nations. He was the fulfillment of this part of the prophecy. He was circumcised and he was a servant to all of the Jews (the circumcision). Verses 8-12 are basically a look back at the OT prophecies to show that all believers should accept one another regardless of race because Christ was always going to bring the two groups together.

Verses 9-12 – Paul lists four verses as proofs that the Gentiles were part of God’s plans even back in OT times. There were many references in the OT mentioning “all the nations” and the like. Even Gentiles and Jews should accept each other because Christ accepted both and planned for both to be part of His church.

In addition Paul gives Scripture as a source that teaches us how to follow these commands. We have hope because we have seen the example of so many people in Scripture who were selfless and gave their lives to serve others. Name a few (Jeremiah….).

Questions for thought and discussion

How can we bear others weaknesses? What one word can be used instead of the phrase “please ourselves”? (selfish)

2 – Who is our neighbor?

Did Christ have the right to please Himself? Did He? Do we have the right to please ourselves? Do we? What two/three things does Paul exhort believers to do in this passage?

What two things are mentioned that can help give us guidance as to how to please and build up our neighbor? (verse 3 and 4)

Who is the You and Me in verse 3? Psalms 69:9

What is Paul talking about, the things written in earlier times?

How can we sinful beings have the ability to keep act so altruistically towards others? (5)

What is the purpose for being unified? (verse 6)

To what degree are we to accept one another? (7) Then how did Christ accept us? (7)

What does it mean to accept one another? What if others sin against us?

Explain verse 8.

What is the point of verses 9-12?

What will the end result be if we praise God in unity? (verse 13)

What is the relationship between the Jews and the Gentiles in this passage? (cfe. Genesis 12:2-3)

Romans 15:14-33

Paraphrase

14. Brothers, I know that you are good-hearted, knowledgeable, and able instruct one another.

15. I have written to you very forcefully on some matters, but this was just to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave to me

16. to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles and exercise my priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, with the goal that Gentiles will give their lives to God and be sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

17. So I rejoice in Christ that I can be of service to God!

18. I will not to speak about anything except what Christ has done through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God through what I have said and done-

19. by the power shown through signs and miracles, the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricium, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.

20. During this time it has always been my goal to preach the gospel where people did not know Christ, so that I would not be building on another person’s foundation.

21. It is written, “Those who were not told about him will see and those who have not heard will understand.”

22. This is why I have encountered difficulties when trying to come to you.

23. But now there is no place that I can work in these other areas. For a long time I have desired to come and see you.

24. Now I plan to pass through to see you on my way to Spain and you can help me on my journey after I have stayed for a while.

25. I can’t go to you yet though for I am on my way to help the saints in Jerusalem.

26. For Macedonia and Achaia were kind to make a contribution for the poor saints in Jerusalem.

27. They were excited to do it, and they do owe it to them. For the Gentiles share the spiritual blessings from the Jews and so also the Gentiles should share their material possessions with them.

28. So after I finish delivering that offering I will visit you on the way to Spain.

29. I know that when I come to visit you, I will come with the full measure of blessing of Christ.

30. Brothers, please through Lord Jesus and the love of the Spirit participate with me in my struggles by praying to God on my behalf.

31. Pray that I may not fall into the hands of the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be accepted by the saints there,

32. so that according to the will of God I may come to you with joy and together we can be refreshed.

33. May the God of peace be with all of you. Amen.

Outline Verses 14-22

I.        Paul’s Ministry (14-22)

a.       Confidence in the Romans (14)

b.      Source of Authority (15)

c.       Mission (16)

d.      Credit to God (17-19)

e.       Principle of Ministry (20-21)

f.        Opposition (22)

II.       Paul’s Future Plans (23-33)

a.       Visit Rome (23-24)

b.      Deliver Offering to Jerusalem (25-29)

c.       Mutual Ministry: Prayer (30-32)

d.      Benediction (33)

Key Words-

Knowledge- They had sound doctrine.

Competent- A similar word to mature; they were able to encourage and teach.

Remind- The Romans already knew much of what Paul wrote to them, but they need to be reminded so that they wouldn’t forget or neglect these important truths.

Minister- Someone who serves. In the New Testament used generally of someone who serves God by public ministry.

Priestly- Every believer is a priest directly to God. What is our offering?

Struggle- Public ministry is a struggle, not easy. All believers should try to encourage those who pursue it with prayer and other means.

Teaching Point-

Verses 14-22

Here Paul begins to issue some closing comments on the book of Romans. Some of his teaching may have been strict or harsh, so he wants to reassure the Roman audience. He knows they are mature and full of goodness. His teaching was NOT an attack on their character. Neither should we ever attack the people whom God leads us to witness to or teach. He builds them up and then tells them that his teachings were for their good and to remind them of what they already knew so that they wouldn’t forget or neglect it. For us too, when we went through Romans, many of the teachings we knew already. This will be the case for most books that we read. Although we can always dig deeper and gain some new insights, the large majority is likely review. But just like the Romans, we need review. We need constant reminders. It is kind of like learning a language. If you memorize some vocabulary words, can you remember them one or two months later? Probably not. You need to remind yourself more and use the words and then you can remember. We should be spending time daily in God’s Words to remind us about the principles so we don’t stray from Him.

He bases his authority in the “grace of God”. Acts 9:15-16. He was God’s chosen tool to the Gentiles. During his ministry he went on three extended missionary journeys through Europe, sometimes staying in cities for several years to minister, all the while building up new churches and keeping contact with ones already established. None of this was for his own benefit. It was solely out of a desire to serve God, and bring an offering of a multitude of believing Gentiles. This was his mission, first to save them, and then to lead them to maturity. Though he accomplished a lot he gave all the glory to God for the fruit. We would do well to follow these principles. None of it was done on his strength. He relied completely on God. 1 Cor 12:12. The Romans were to understand that it wasn’t really Paul talking to them. It wasn’t his opinions or ideas. He was just a messenger relaying God’s message to them. When we share with others, we should remind them of this as well. We need to make sure we are sharing God’s message correctly. But we can be bold and confident to pass on what we know is true from the Word.

His principle for ministry as an early NT evangelist was to spread the gospel where it hadn’t been taught before, to people who hadn’t heard it before. This is still a high endeavor, though not all ministers, evangelists, or teachers, are called to minister in the same way. Even today many evangelists and missionaries practice the same principle.

Verses 23-33

In this passage Paul discusses his future plans with them. He plans to go to Jerusalem, deliver the offering, and then visit them on the way to Spain. He subjects these plans to the will of God (32) James 4:13-15. He comments that believers should share what they have. Finally, he mentions that his ministry is a corporate thing. Others can help by joining in and praying for him as he continues the struggle. No pastor or missionary should have to labor with no help. Each person has his or her own place in the body of Christ. We should join in and support others in their ministry through prayer, financial help, hospitality, giving a helping hand, or encouragement. His coming would bring mutual joy and encouragement. Teachers can be encouraged as much as they encourage!!

Notice also Paul’s heart for them. He shared in word by letter, but he also wanted to see them. He truly cared about the people he was ministering to and wanted to have a personal relationship with them.

Questions for thought and discussion-

This passage seems to be primarily Paul’s plans and personal communications with the Romans. Are there any lessons we can learn here? (We can learn quite about about effective ministry from Paul’s ministry style.)

Is Paul just flattering them here? If not, then why does he mention their positive traits? What can we learn from this? (Be positive when we teach or share with others and don’t just focus on negatives. Positive and negative reinforcement.)

Paul mentions several things about his ministry. Where did his authority come from? Why is this important?

When you share, where does your authority come from? (From God ONLY IF you share what the Bible teaches and keep personal opinions out of it.)

What was his mission?

What principle did he apply to this mission?

Who did he credit with the success of his ministry?

As we look at Paul’s physical plans what motive can we see in him that caused him to lay these plans?

 How about you? Why do you make the plans that you make? What is your motivation?

What request did Paul make of the Romans? How can we be involved in supporting others’ ministries? Looking at it another way, how would you like others to be involved in helping you?

Study Romans 16

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