In Romans 15, Paul completes his discussion of how Christians who are strong in the faith should help those whose faith is weak. He reminds his readers that God is calling the Gentiles to salvation, and that they are the focus of Paul’s ministry. Paul shares his plan to visit Jerusalem with an offering from the Gentiles to give to the Jewish believers.
The strong should help the weak
In chapter 14, Paul explained that Christians who were strong in the faith believed that everything was clean and could be eaten. Those who were weak in faith were cautious about their diet and observed certain days as special. This difference of opinion was a serious problem for the Roman churches, so Paul took a considerable portion of his letter to address it. The cautious Christians should not condemn the more permissive ones, and those who feel free should not cause the weak to sin by pressuring them to do things that their conscience did not yet allow.
“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves” (15:1). The people who are confident of their salvation in Christ need to be tolerant of the doctrinal mistakes that others have. Their faith is already weak; we should not challenge them more than they can bear. Paul taught that all foods are clean, but he sometimes restrained his freedom (1 Cor. 8:13; 9:20).
Paul then gives the general principle: “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up” (v. 2). He uses Jesus Christ as the model we should follow: “For even Christ did not please himself…” Paul supports his point by quoting Psalm 69:9, a messianic psalm: “As it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me’” (v. 3). Christ was willing to accept persecution, so the strong should be willing to accept a little inconvenience.
Author: Michael Morrison