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Richard Bradley Morris


Exegesis of Romans/NT105/C
Box #1024

CHRIST, OUR EXAMPLE
Romans 15.1-6

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Continuing on: we the ones who have found great freedom in Christ have an ongoing obligation
to carry as our own load the susceptibilities of those who have yet to find such freedom, and not to please
ourselves all the time.
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Every one of us capable ones must please the neighbor for the good of the
communitymore specifically, for the communitys edification.
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For even the Christ did not please himself;
rather, as it is written: THE INSULTS OF THE ONES WHO INSULT YOU HAVE FALLEN UPON ME.
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To clarify my
use of this Old Testament verse: whatever was written beforehand was written for our instruction, in order that
through the perseverance and through the comfort found within the scriptures we might have hope.
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Now, may
the God who produces within you this perseverance and this comfort grant you to live harmoniously with one
another according to the norm established by Christ Jesus,
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so that you may unanimously with one voice
glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

CENTRAL IDEA

The reason the Christian community could have harmony was because it had an obligation to
accommodate its members following the example of Christ for the communitys up-building and Gods glory.

EXEGETICAL OUTLINE

I. The reason certain members of the community should have accommodated other members was because
they had an obligation to build-up the whole community. (vv 1-2)
A. The reason the free in Christ should have accommodated the susceptibilities of others against their
own pleasure was because they had an ongoing social obligation to do so. (v 1)
B. The purpose for accommodating members with different opinions was the edification of the entire
local assembly. (v 2)
II. The reason the community should have accommodated its members was because it had the Messiahs
example of self-sacrifice which was informed by the Old Testament. (vv 3-4)
A. The reason the community accommodated others was because it had the example of the Messiah
foretold in the Old Testament. (v 3)
1. The reason the community accommodated its members was because it knew from the gospel
that the Messiah was not self-serving in his life and passion. (v 3a)
2. The reason the community accommodated its members was because they knew from
Scripture that the Messiah suffered violence from people ignorant of his mission to serve
God. (v 3b)
B. The reason the Old Testament was written was because God desired to form the character of his
people through the Old Testaments contents. (v 4)
1. The goal of the composition of the Old Testament, which testifies to the Messiahs sufferings,
was the formation of the character of the people of God (v 4a).
2. The purpose of the Old Testaments composition was for its contents to form a people who
were characterized by confidence in Gods future plans (v 4b).
III. The reason the community could live in harmony was because God was capable of granting it the ability to
deal with differing opinions so that it could worship him. (vv 5-6)
A. The reason the community was able to live harmoniously with its members was because God had
granted it a sense of mutuality defined by Christ. (v 5)
B. The purpose of God granting the community the ability to reach mutuality was for the entire
communitys worship of himself. (v 6)

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COMMENTARY

Introduction
Can we all get along? In Romans 15.1-6 we catch the tail end of Pauls exhortation to the Roman
congregation. Paul has so far in chapter 14 discussed the reason why a Christian community could have
disagreementsnamely, not everyone understands their freedom in Christ the same way. So, 15.1-6 presents
the solution. Paul starts by explaining the obligation one part of the community has to the other in v. 1. Then
he provides a command for each person composing that part of the community to care for the needs of others
in v. 2. The passage climaxes with the example of Christ whose character and action form the norm for
Christian mutuality in v. 3. In v.4 Paul provides a brief aside on the contents of the Old Testament. Finally,
Paul concludes with a prayer-wish which reveals that the goal of Christian harmony is the glory of God the
Father in vv. 5-6. All in all, we will see that the reason the Christian community could have harmony was
because it had an obligation to accommodate its members following the example of Christ for the communitys
up-building and Gods glory.
An Excursus on the Occasion of Romans
There is a serious question concerning the occasion of Romans that we must consider before we can
attend to our exposition of v. 1: does Rom 14.1-15.13 reflect Pauls intimate knowledge of the disparities
within the Roman Christian community, or does this section reflect Pauls generalized principles for how any
Christian community finds harmony among different opinions? Nearly every commentator we surveyed
understood a real situation within the Roman community to be behind this lengthy exhortation (Cranfield,
Dunn, Fitzmyer, Jewett, Moo, and Schreiner). However, there may be good reason to see 14.1-15.13 as general
paraenesis (Karris).
Karris, among others, has noted several strong conceptual and verbal parallels in Pauls exhortation
between Romans 14-15 and 1 Corinthians 8 and 10.
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But the differences Karris notes between Romans and 1
Corinthians are what leave us intrigued. First, most (7 out of 13) of the imperatives in Rom 14 and 15 are in

1
Robert J. Karris, Rom 14:1-15:13 and the Occasion of Romans, CBQ 35, 2 (1973): 165-167.
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the first person plural or the third person singular.
2
If Paul was attempting to correct the errors of a definable
group within the Roman community, he would possibly have used more second person imperatives (or
exclusively second person imperatives) like in 1 Corinthians. Second, Rom 14.1-15.13 only contains one
circumstantial if clause (14.15) while 1 Cor 8 and 10 contain five (8.10, 13; 10.27, 28, 30).
3
These if
clauses in 1 Cor often expose the real-to-life scenarios which the Corinthian congregation faced; thus the if
clauses enable the exegete to excavate the circumstances which lay beneath Pauls instructionnot enough
detail is provided in Rom 14.15 for an adequate reconstruction. Furthermore, Karris asks whether the details
Paul does provide concerning vegetables in 14.2, days in 14.5 and wine alluded to in 14.17 and 21 enable
a concrete reconstruction to emerge.
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After we considered these observations, we too understand Rom 14-15 to reflect Pauls generalized
principles for how any Christian community finds harmony among different opinions.
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To paraphrase: Paul is
not saying, Roman Christians, I know whats going onI heard a report, now let me instruct you. Rather,
Paul says, Ive interacted with several congregations throughout my missionary journeys. The freedom we
have in Christ is bound to put some people at odds with each other in your own community. Let me explain to
you how you can live with diverse opinions.
We can foresee two possible benefits for our exegesis of 15.1-6 when we adhere to this understanding
of the context. First, we do not have to be encumbered with spending an inexorable amount of time
reconstructing or entertaining scenarios which may or may not have any explicit connection to our text.
Second, the text due to Pauls broadened paraenesis for the community of Rome is (almost) readily
applicable to a modern audience. Now lets begin our exposition of Rom 15.1-6.

2
Karris, 163. Karris clearly understands the inherent weakness of this observation (fn. 42). But it is due to
Pauls characteristic style of exhortation in the second person, that it leads one to wonder why he changed it in Rom
14-15.

3
Ibid., 164.

4
Ibid., 169.

5
Karris repeatedly reaches this conclusion throughout his articlemirror reading leads to a dead end. Cf. a
critique of Karris: Kevin B. McCruden, Judgment and the Life of the Lord: Occasion and Theology of Romans
14,1-15,13, Biblica 86, 2 (2005): 229-244. McCruden offers a via media argument between Karris and most
contemporary scholars; he suggests that Paul combined both situational and not situational material for his
exhortation.
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I. Accommodate for Edification (vv. 1-2)
In vv. 1-2 Paul addresses the capable for the first time. Once he has identified himself with them, he
states their obligation to help their brothers and sisters (v. 1). From there, just in case someone did not feel
their obligation, he commands each capable person including himself to serve her brothers and sisters in
Christ (v. 2). In this section we will see core Pauline ethics come front and center.
A. An Obligation to Accommodate (v.1)
Paul continues his discussion from Romans 14 now in chapter 15.
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If fact, much of chapter 14 is
subsumed in the language Paul uses in 15.1. The language of the capable ones (et eu|aet) and the
incapable ones (.| aeu|a.|), though new here, likely reflects those people in chapter 14 who showed no
inhibition in various circumstances and those who did respectively (Cranfield, Dunn, etc.). But the question
remains: in what respect are some people in the Christian community capable and some incapable?
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Jewetts outline of the argument of Romans may be of some help to us in answering this question.
Jewett suggests that the thesis of Romans is 1.16-17 and that there are four proofs of this thesis in the
remainder of the letter12.1-15.13 composes the fourth proof.
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Thus, the righteousness of God (etsatecu|
.eu) and the concept of living from faith (.s :tc.., ,c.at) dominate the letters content. Faith in its
nominal and verbal form appears five times in chapter 14 (1, 2, 22, 23bis). And directly prior to 15.1 (in 14.23)
Paul introduces a principle for behavior: everything which is not from faith is sin (:a| e eus .s :tc..,
aata .ct|). We understand Pauls faith principle to be intentionally vague. The principle does not form a
monolithic standard of behavior for the entire community; thus making room for differing opinions regarding
what one can and cannot do.

6
The conjunction e. should not be nuanced to reflect contrastit reflects simple continuation (cf. BDAG
213; note especially the discussion prior to the various senses of the particle).

7
Cf. Cranfield, Dunn etc. Also, we will carefully avoid translating the eu|ae , substantives as strong and
weak. The eu|at,- word group focuses more on capacity than ability (TDNT 2.281). Therefore, strong and
weak may inappropriately conjure up images of a display of strength or lead one down the path that Paul is using
pejorative language.

8
Robert Jewett, Following the Argument of Romans in The Romans Debate (Peabody: Hendrickson,
1991), 272-274. His commentary retains this structure.
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Since faith is a primary theme in Romans and surfaces several times in chapter 14, we hold that the
capable ones and the incapable ones are solely defined with respect to faith. Who then are the the capable
ones? They are people who with respect to faith find freedom to enjoy certain activities (Cranfield, Dunn, and
Moo). Who then are the incapable ones? They are those people who with respect to faith hold a different
opinion; they cannot enjoy the same activities that others enjoy. This is beyond the level of personal
preference; it concerns how people measure their individual behavior in accordance with the faith God has
allotted each person (12.3, 6).
It is interesting to note that the apostle aligns himself with those who find freedom to enjoy certain
activities.
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We could imagine that one of Pauls original hearers, who identified herself with the capable, could
have seen the apostles identification with her group as a source of pride. But to be identified as such does
not excuse her to exploit her freedom or become arrogant. Quite the contrary, the capable have an ongoing
moral and social obligation to the incapable.
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This obligation is stated in positive and negative terms. Let us
begin with the positive.
The capable with reference to faith have an ongoing moral obligation to carry the weaknesses
(ac.|aaaca,.t|) of the incapable.
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The guild is partially divided concerning the sense of the
infinitive to carry (aca,.t|); there are two options. First, some take the verb as to endure or to put up
with which connotes the toleration of the susceptibilities by the capable (BDAG, M-M, Fitzmyer). Second,
others see a more active role of the capable carrying or bearing as their burden the weaknesses of the incapable

9
This of course is proven by the apostles use of the first person plural verb e |.te.|; and the plural first
person pronoun .t,. We understood we to be in simple apposition with the capable ones; thus showing that
we a group which the apostle includes himself, is in fact the group of the capable ones.

10
The verb e |.t. in and of itself denotes obligation (BDAG 743.2a). The adjectives of social and
moral can be defended in the rest of our exegesis of 15.1-6. Additionally, we conducted a brief study on Pauls use
of the verb e |.t. and its complementary infinitives. Our goal was to determine whether or not we could predict
the nature (i.e. the aspect) of the obligation based upon the tense of the finite verb alone. What we determined was
that the complementary infinitive partially determines the aspect. Thus, when both the verb e |.t. and the
complementary infinitive are in the present tense, Paul denotes either an ongoing or iterative obligation for his
addressees (cf. 1 Cor 7.36; 9.10; 11.7, 10; Eph 5.28; 2 Thes 2.13). But when the verb and the infinitive do not share
the same tense, it becomes more difficult to predict the aspect (cf. Rom 15.27; 1 Cor 5.10; 2 Cor 2.11).

11
The noun weakness (ac.|a) is used only here in the New Testament. Surveying extrabiblical use
hardly brings any clarity to the meaning of this word. Aristotles use of the noun concerns infections which come to
animals (through the urethra?) and is eventually the cause of an animals deterioration or death (Generation of
Animals, I. 28. 726a, 15). We must determine the meaning contextually. So, the weaknesses in view in 15.1 are
the various distresses under which the weak labour (Cranfield, 2:730, fn. 3).
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(Cranfield, Dunn, Jewett). We believe this issue may be decided by examining another use of the verb in the
New Testamentnamely, Matthew 8.17.
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In Matt 8.17 the author quotes an adaptation of Isaiah 53.4 (LXX) but adds our verb of study, He
carried our diseases (a, |eceu, .acac.|). If it is possible that Pauls present use of the verb has been
influenced by this theological reflection on the life of Christ, then it may be possible that he has a specific
nuance of the verb in mind herenamely, shouldering anothers burden as though it were ones own. This
does not seem too farfetched when one considers Pauls upcoming appeal to the example of Christ in v. 3.
Therefore, we see the (positive) moral obligation of the capable as carrying the weaknesses of the incapable
ones upon their own shoulders and not mere toleration. To paraphrase Paul: we have an obligation to carry as
our own load the susceptibilities of others.
The ongoing obligation is also stated in negative terms: and to not please ourselves (sat .auet,
a.cs.t|). The pleasure in view here (and also vv. 2-3) concerns the accommodation of a person with an eye
toward service. It is beneficial to provide in part an entry from BDAG (s.v. a.cs. 2a): a favored term in the
reciprocity-conscious Mediterranean world, and frequently used in honorary documents to express interest in
accommodating others by meeting their needs or carrying out important obligations. The use of the tern in our
[literature] contributes a tone of special worth and dignity to some of the relationships that are depicted. Thus
Paul says that he and the capable have an obligation to not meet or serve their personal needs; to not
accommodate their own comfort with Christian freedom.
This is classic Pauline exhortation.
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According to Paul, Christian freedom is not an end in itself. And
the personal exercise of faith within various situations is not for the benefit of the self. Those who have the
capacity for enjoyment also have the obligation to serve others. In other words: Christian freedoms are
qualified by social obligations to brothers and sisters in Christ. We will develop this concept more in our
exegesis of the following verse.

12
The reference of Matt 8.17 was brought to our attention by Cranfield, but Cranfield is himself using
Michel (see Cranfield 2:730, fn. 2).

13
See Michael Thompson, Clothed with Christ: The Example and Teaching of Jesus in Romans 12.1-15.13
(Sheffield; Sheffield Academic Press, 1991), 217ff. Thompson notes the conceptual and verbal parallels of Romans
with 1 Cor 10.24, 33-11.1; and Phil 2.4).
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B. A Command to Accommodate (v. 2)
Paul moves from the obligation of the capable to a direct and individual exhortation of the capable in
v. 2.
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We recognize that this imperative could be directed to the whole Christian communitythe capable and
the incapable (Jewett). However, it is far more likely after having just identified himself with the capable in the
preceding verse, that he is once again identifying himself as one of the capable with the plural first person
pronoun us (.|) in the present verse (Cranfield, Moo). In other words: the most natural antecedent for
us in v. 2 is the we in v. 1. We understand Pauls address to broaden in v. 4b when he articulates the
purpose of the Old Testament.
The exhortation for the capable was that they each please the neighbor (. :cte| a.cs..). This
is now the second time the verb to please has surfaced in our exposition. In the previous verse it was used
with a negative particle; that the capable are not to accommodate themselves. Now it is stated positively; that
the capable are to accommodate the neighbor. Paul does not use the term neighbor often in his letters but
he uses it three times in Romans (Rom 13.9, 10; 15.2; other uses: Gal 5.14 and Eph 4.25). The first reference
to the neighbor in Romans came in 13.9 where he summarized the entirety of the Old Testament ethical
code: You shall love your neighbor as yourself (a,a:c.t, e| :cte| ceu ., c.aue|). There Paul is both
drawing upon Lev 19:18 and possibly the Jesus tradition (Matt 22.39 and Mark 12.31).
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Therefore, when Paul
uses the word neighbor for the third time in his epistle at 15.2, his readers probably recalled this
commandment.
The accommodation the capable were to provide to the incapable was not without boundaries. This act
of ongoing accommodation should be for the good (.t, e a,ae|).
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In other words: the purpose for
pleasing the neighbor was for the good. If this sounds vague, its because it is! If a person were to examine all

14
We say exhortation because of the 3rd person imperative a.cs. . that Paul directs toward himself
and each of the capable ones. We say individual because of the distributive force within the adjective as
substantive .sace, (cf. BDAG 298.b).

15
It is far beyond the scope of this exegetical to try to understand the relationship of Pauls teaching to the
teachings of the Lord. But this is now the second time in two verses that it may be possible for Paul to have been
familiar with the historical and theological reflection upon Christ within the Gospels.

16
We say ongoing because the command, much like the obligation, has a progressive aspect (present
tense imperative).
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the times Paul used good (a,ae,) in Romans, she will see that good is never definedit is juxtaposed
with moral evil on several occasions (3.8; 7.19; 9.11; 12.9, 21; 13:3bis, 4); it is also used to describe the nature
of the law in chapter 7; and Christians learn to discern the good will of God in 12.2. Good seems to reflect a
priori knowledge belonging to the Christian which enables her to discern right from wrong.
Paul, probably realizing the ambiguity of the purpose he has just given, adds the words toward
edification (:e, etseee|).
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When Paul uses edification or building-up (etseee) it commonly refers
to the Christian communitys mutual spiritual strengthening and furtherance as it did in 14.19 (BDAG 696.1ba;
TDNT 5:145). Thus, we do not favor the individualistic interpretations of this verse (HCSB, ESV, NET; cp.
NASB, NJB). Pauls exhortation to the capable is that they accommodate the incapable, not to the selfish ends
of the incapable but toward the whole communitys strengthening. The power rests with one group to freely
forfeit their Christian freedoms for their Christian siblings. If they do so, it will lead to the betterment of the
whole local assembly.
II. The Messiahs Example (vv. 3-4)
The Christian capable have an example of how to not accommodate their own freedom, but to bear the
burdens of others. That example is their Messiah. In v. 3 we will see how Christ paves the way of selfless
sacrifice. This sacrifice was foretold in the Old Testament. As a momentary aside, Paul takes the time to
explain the significance of the Old Testament in v. 4.
A. The Messiahs Selflessness in the Old Testament (v. 3)
Our focus is now drawn to the example of the Messiah.
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The example of Messiah will become the
grounds for Pauls exhortation in the previous verse.
19
Put differently: the reason the capable Christians do not

17
Cf. Moule, Idioms, 53. Moo (867, fn. 20) is correct when he sees :e, etseee| as an elaboration of .t,
e a,ae|. There is a significant amount of semantic overlap between the two prepositions. For a quick and dirty
look at each preposition, see ExSyn, 369, 380. They overlap in the following areas: spatial; temporal; purpose; result;
and disadvantage/opposition. The two phrases seem to be used in apposition, the second explaining the first.

18
This is often the function of the ascensive sat namely, to express a point of focus (cf. ExSyn, 670).

19
The conjunction ,a is causal (BDAG 189.1b). Note the nuance BDAG provides for the combination of
the conjunctions sat ,a: for even.
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accommodate themselves but do accommodate the needs of others in the community, is because the Christ
did not accommodate himself (e Xtce, eu, .au. .c.|).
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1. He Refused His Accommodation (v. 3a)
This is now the third (and last) time Paul uses the verb to please in 15.1-6. The tense of this verb can
either (1) point to the entire life of Christi.e. this is a summative statement about Messiahs self-giving life;
or (2) refer exclusively to the passion of Christi.e. this is a summative statement referring to the agony
Messiah suffered in his death.
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We are not entirely convinced we must choose one over the other. Both Christ
in his passion and Christs followers in their pursuit of him are objects of verbal insults (e|.tet,.) in the
Gospels (Christ: Matt 27.44; Mark 15.32; disciples: Matt 5.11; Luke 6.22). The nominal and verbal forms of
insult are found in Pauls forthcoming quote of the Old Testament.
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To summarize: one does not have to
choose the Messiahs life over the Messiahs death as the referent for Pauls examplehard lines do not need
to be drawn. It is not impossible that both the life and death of Christ are summarized in the verb to please.
2. He Bore Insults (v. 3b)
The Christs life and death were not characterized by self-accommodation; rather (aa), they were
characterized by insults: the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me (et e|.tetcet .|
e|.tet,e|.| c. .:.:.ca| .:` ..). This is a verbatim quote of Psalm 68.10 (LXX). We will conclude our
exegesis on v. 3 by answering two questions: (1) who is the referent for you (c.) in the psalm originally and
presently? (2) How does this quote fit the context of Pauls exhortation to the capable?
(1) Psalm 68 is originally written from the perspective of the psalmist who directs his prayer toward
God. This is evidenced by the frequent direct address of God throughout it (2; 6; 7; 13bis; 16; 30).
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The
psalmist clearly shifts at v. 31 to address the congregation of the faithful; the psalmist reminds them of the

20
The reason we keep referring to Christ as the Christ is because we understand the article to be
signifying the title of the anointed one (Porter, Idioms, 107; see also Cranfield, 2:732 fn. 5).

21
We say summative in both examples because of the aorist tense of a.cs.. The grammars we surveyed
took it as a constative aorist (BDF 332.1; MHT 3:72).

22
sa., ,.,a:at introduces OT quotes in Rom fourteen times (1.17; 2.24; 3.4, 10; 4.17; 8.36; 9.13, 33;
10.15; 11.8, 26; 15.3, 9, 21).

23
These are nominatives as vocatives and the vocative case alone.
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character and faithfulness of God until the end of his prayer. In Rom 15, the words are now on the lips of
Jesus, but who are they directed to?
24
One English commentator argues that the you (c.) of Rom 15.3b is no
longer God but the community (Jewett). This would mean that the insults which Christians hurl at one another
over differences of faith are absorbed by Christ. This view seems odd. Perhaps we should have expected Paul
to tinker around with the quote if he really intended such a reading. Most scholars see you in the present
verse as a reference to the Deity (Cranfield, Dunn, and Moo). We see no reason to disagree.
(2) But the question remains: how does this quote fit the context of Pauls exhortation to the
capable?
25
The quotes significance is certainly not explicit. Paul has presented the moral obligation of the
capable in v.1. For the whole communitys edification the capable must surrender their Christian freedoms to
the incapable by bearing the sensitivities of the incapable as their own (v. 2). The imagery in v. 1 is such that
the Christian capable carry on their shoulders a burden for others. Now Christ in v. 3 is presented as having the
insults directed at God upon his shoulders (.:.:.ca|). In other words: the Messiah finds himself to be the
object of ridicule even though he is in Gods service. Thus he also bore throughout his life and in his passion a
burdenhe bore the hostility of men toward God (Cranfield). The quotes significance is then one of similar
imagery and not necessarily a one-for-one relationship. To paraphrase Paul: For even the Christ did not
accommodate himself; rather, he bore a burden like I am commanding you to do.
B. Gods Purpose in Providing the Old Testament (v. 4)
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24
Moo (868 fn. 29) notes this psalm is quoted or alluded to in several places within the Gospels. It was
perhaps a key psalm for the Gospel writers to understand the Messiah.

25
At this point commentators either say too much (Jewett, Dunn) or become a tad bashful (Moo,
Cranfield).

26
Verse 4 has several text critical problems. Lets work through each one momentarily:
(1) B and the Vulgate (with the Old Latin tradition) along with Clement replace :e.,a| with . ,a|.
Later in the verse a similar problem occurs when several manuscripts (A 048 33 M sy
h
) replace . ,a| with
:e.,a|. In each case, the problem can be explained by a scribes attempt to harmonize the two writing verbs in
the sentence. Their lack of harmonization as the NA27 currently has, reflects the original reading and probably gave
rise to both variants. Also note MHT (1:115) who suggest that the preposition often falls of the repeated verb (cf.
Rev 10.10).
(2) B P 33 and a few other manuscripts add :a|a after :e.,a|. This change would likely make the
text more explicit. The result would be, Everything which was written beforehand instead of the more ambiguous,
whatever was written The effect is mostly the same but its presence can be explained by its former absence and
not the other way around.
(3) Several witness of the first order omit the second eta of v. 4 (D F G 1881). While there are several
witnesses of the first order which support the presence of the second eta ( A B C 048 1739 and a large number of
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The Old Testament has continuing significance for the Christian according to the apostle. In v. 4 he
lays out the purpose of the sacred writings for his audience. This verse will also explain why Paul chose to
give his audience the quote from Psalm 68.10 in v. 3.
1. Examples for Character Development (v. 4a)
The fourth verse now offers clarification on Pauls use of the Old Testament quote in the previous
verse.
27
Here it would seem unnatural if our (..e,) referred exclusively to Paul and the capable, as if
Scripture was written only for their instruction. Thus Pauls exhortation widens to the whole community, to the
capable and the incapable. This is not the first time in Romans that we learn the concept that the Old Testament
scriptures have relevance for the New Testament believer (4.23-24). And this concept is not foreign in other
Pauline letters (cf. 1 Cor 9.10; 10.6, 11; 2 Tim 3.16-17). According to Paul, the OT instructs the community.
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But the instruction has a goal.
29

2. Examples for Hope (v. 4b, c)
The goal of Scriptures instruction is that those in the Christian community might hold fast hope
(| .:tea .,..|).
30
Hope seems like an irrelevant subject for Paul to bring up at this point. But as we
have seen earlier in Romans, hope characterizes the Christians whole earthly existence prior to her glorious

the majority text). The weight of witnesses alone may not be enough to determine the original reading. It may be
possible that the presence of the article before encouragement necessitates the second preposition. But if
Ksemann is correct, the second preposition could be for rhetorical effect. All in all, if the presence of the
preposition led many in todays scholarship to question its function, it may have thrown the early scribes as well. In
this case, the presence of the second eta actually explains its absence in the aforementioned mss.
(4) Finally, B, one ms of the Vulgate, and Clement add the words , :aasc.., after . ,..|. (Possibly
one of the coolest experiences I have had in seminary is viewing the variant of B on CSNTMs website.) After
trying to recreate the mistake with the letters, we have concluded that this is not a case of dittography. It is likely a
conscious addition, perhaps someone quoting from memory. But the scant support makes it a very, very unlikely
addition to the text. All in all, the NA27 as it stands for all of v. 4 has the correct reading.

27
This is how we understand the function of ,a (cf. BDAG 189.2). The word justify used by most
commentators seems pejorative.

28
eteacsata is a verbal noun (cf. BDAG 240.1). It leaves a little bit of question as to how our should be
understood. Is Paul saying that Scripture was written so that we can teach? Or is he saying that Scripture was written
to teach us? The last option seems more likely, unless Paul believed the whole Christian community had the spiritual
gift of teaching (cf. 12.7)

29
We understand the t|a clause of 4b as one of purpose.

30
Cranfield (2:735 fn. 3) suggests that this particular nuance of to have, to hold fast, seems entirely
appropriate given its proximity to words like perseverance and comfort. Cf. ExSyn, 465 fn. 48.
12

conformation to Jesus Christ at her resurrection (Rom 8.24; cf. TDNT 2:532; BDAG 320.1b). Therefore, the
example of the Messiah foreshadowed in the OT (v. 3) and even OT saints like Abraham (4.18) instruct the
believer to hold on to hope within her present circumstance. Hope lifts her eyes heavenward and sets her heart
on what God will accomplish in the Eschatoneven the perfect union of believing Jews and Gentiles (15.12-
13). The term hope is therefore apposite for both the capable and the incapablefor the capable because
they are commanded to continuously bear the burdens of their brothers and sisters in the community, and for
the incapable because they must continue on in a world of which they cannot freely partake.
Finally, we must consider the syntax and meaning of the phrase through the perseverance and
through the encouragement of the Scriptures (eta , u:ee| , sat eta , :aasc.., .| ,a|.|) in
4b.
31
The question concerns whether the two prepositional phrases through the perseverance and through
the encouragement should both be subordinated to the scriptures or understood separately.
32
If the first
phrase is to be taken separately then the first preposition would be classified as attendant circumstance and the
second as one of agency (Ksemann, Cranfield, Moo, Dunn; cf. BDAG 224.3c). Along these classifications, a
possible rendering of 4b is: in order that with perseverance and through the comfort of the scriptures we
might hold fast the hope.
It is hard to tell whether these grammatical classifications follow rigorous scholarship or scholarly
consensus. Because each prepositional phrase belongs to a larger statement of the importance of Scripture, it
seems that both perseverance and comfort are a part of Scripturethus both phrases are parallel and
subordinate to the scriptures.
33
This would make for a slightly more ambiguous rendering, in order that
through the perseverance and through the encouragement which are a part of the scriptures (Jewett). We
will cover the meaning of perseverance and encouragement in the following verse.



31
As far as the authenticity of the second preposition in the verse, please see note fn. 26.

32
I am greatly indebted to Jewetts articulation of the problem (881).

33
Our best guess at the genitive relationship between perseverance and the scriptures is wholative
genitive. Perseverance is part of the whole of which Scripture is the sum (cf. ExSyn, 84ff).
13

III. Concluding Prayer (vv. 5-6)
As Paul concludes his treatise on Christian harmony, he directs his attention to God in vv. 5-6.
Christians develop godly character and the ability to live well with one another from God himself (v. 5). And
the supreme goal of Christian harmony and unity is the Fathers glory (v. 6).
A. Gods Provision of Harmony (v. 5)
Paul begins to conclude his exhortation to the community over the matter of the capable and
incapable.
34
Paul chooses to do this through a wish-prayer.
35
It is as if the apostle, when the letter was being
composed, offered a prayer to God and has it recorded for the benefit of his hearers (Moo). In this recorded
prayer he refers to God as the one who produces this perseverance and this encouragement (e .e, ,
u:ee|, sat , :aasc..,).
36
It is very likely that Paul is alluding to the very same perseverance and
encouragement that he mentions to be a part of the scriptures in the previous verse.
37
Therefore, it is now
appropriate to discuss each term.
Perseverance (u:ee|) has so far in Romans been associated with trials in the Christian life (5.3, 4;
8.25; 12.12). And its association with trials also exists in other Pauline literature (2 Cor 1.6; 6.4; 2 Thes 1.4).
Perseverance refers to the capacity to hold out or bear up in the face of difficulty (BDAG s.v. u:ee|).This
refers to more than that stubborn thing inside of all humans which enables them to cope with lifes pain; rather,
it is as this verse suggests something which God produces in the life of his believers (cf. TDNT 4:587). Trials
come to all humans, sinner and saint alike. But when trials come to believers, they produce perseverance, and
perseverance produces godly character, and such character trains the Christian to have confidence in Gods
metanarrative (5.4).
Encouragement or comfort (:aasct,) has up until this point in Rom been related to spiritual
gifts (12.8). But it too is often associated with the afflictions which Christians endure in other Pauline literature

34
In this case, the conjunction e. does little more than signal the apostle has said enough and wishes to end
the discussion.

35
This is determined by the voluntative optative verb e. (ExSyn, 483; MHT 1:195).

36
We understand the genitive modifiers as genitives of product (see discussion ExSyn, 107).

37
The articles are anaphoric, thus the translation this.
14

(2 Cor 1.3, 4, 5, 6bis, 7). Schmitz writes, [Encouragement] expresses the divine aid which is already lavishly
granted to the members of the suffering community of Jesus by present exhortation and encouraging events,
and which will reach its goal when the NT people of God is delivered out of all its tribulations (TDNT 5:799).
This does not refer to baseless optimism or self-deception concerning the true nature of current events.
Encouragement is that which God uses to lift the spirits of his people while they continue their sojourn
awaiting Christs return (cf. BDAG 766.3).
All in all, God is portrayed in v. 5 as the one who enables his people to bear up under their challenges,
and he is also the one who lifts their spirits in the midst of the challenges. He has also provided his people the
scriptures (v. 4b). And the scriptures are filled with examples of men and women who found by Gods
strengthening the ability to keep going and who experienced Gods comfort throughout their lives. And so
Pauls recorded prayer was directed toward the God who has a proven track record of faithfulness with the
Jewish people and who continues his faithfulness to the Church.
Pauls request is that God might grant them to think the same thing with one another (e aue
|e|.t | .| aet,). By this time it is quite clear that Pauls focus is on the entire community.
38
The
expression to think the same thing is a Pauline expression for community harmony, unity, and peace (cf. 2
Cor 13.11; Phil 2.2, 4). Paul is certainly not asking everyone in the community to hold the same opinion, since
he has already introduced the principle of faith in 14.23 (cf. v.1 of this commentary). Paul must therefore be
asking God to grant a community, which may be torn apart over different opinions, a sense of mutuality (cf.
BDAG s.v. .| 1.d).
And this mutuality is to be according to Christ Jesus (saa Xtce| `Iceu|). This is not an
insignificant tag on that Paul says to round out his number of references to Jesus.
39
Already the example of the
Christ has been presented in Pauls exhortation to the capable in v. 3. Christ his person and his behavior
become the established norm for Christian mutuality (BDAG s.v. saa 5a). How do Christians get along

38
Paul uses a second person plural pronoun (ut|), the likes of which has not been used since 14.1 (Moo,
871 fn. 46).

39
It should be noted that there is a gradation with reference to Christ throughout 15.1-6. First, he is called
the Christ, then, Christ Jesus, and then our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a point raised by most contemporary
scholars (Cranfield 2:738).
15

with each other? They get along by looking to Christ as their standard for their actions and attitudes toward and
within the Christian community. To paraphrase Paul in this verse, Now, may the God who produces within
you stick-with-it-ness and lifted spirits, may he grant you a sense of mutuality which conforms to Christ
Jesus.
B. Gods Provision for His Glory (v. 6)
This verse now reveals the goal or purpose for God granting the community mutuality according to
Christ Jesus.
40
The purpose of Gods grant is so that they might unanimously with one voice glorify the God
and Father of their Lord (eeuaee| .| .|t ceat eea,. e| .e| sat :a.a eu suteu .| `Iceu
Xtceu).
41
The word unanimously (eeuaee|; LN 31.23) is used only in Acts beyond this reference here;
it often denotes when a community (or mob!) act as one.
42
And as we said in the previous verse, Paul is not
asking the people to come to the same opinion on all matters but for all to conform in faith to the standard of
Christ Jesus. Thus, to speak with or in one mouth (.| .|t ceat) is not a call to hypocrisy.
43
When God
grants the community mutuality it will enable their praise of God to be rid of all hypocrisy. One final
theological note: Paul requests that God would act for Gods own honor (eea,.; cf. EDNT 1:348; TDNT
2:253). In other words: when God grants the community harmony it will result in his glory. The Fathers
worship, praise, and honor are the true end of Christian oneness as even Christ taught in the Gospels (John 17).
Conclusion and Application
In conclusion: the reason the Christian community could have harmony was because it had an
obligation to accommodate its members following the example of Christ for the communitys up-building and
Gods glory. Lets take a moment to unpack this central idea by examining four big ideas that we encountered
in Rom 15.1-6.

40
We understand the t|a as one of purpose. This is the most common use of the subordinating conjunction
and it seems to fit here (cf. ExSyn, 472).

41
Dunn notes that Paul may very well use titles like God for the Father and Lord for Jesus to keep the
two distinct. Also note: the God and Father is a TSKS construction and each noun has God the Father as its
referent; thus identical referent (ExSyn, 274).

42
Cf. Acts 1.14; 2.46; 4.24; 5.12; 7.57; 8.6; 12.20; 15.25; 18.12; 19.29.

43
The preposition can be taken as instrumental or locative (MHT 3:252).
16

First, we saw that those with no inhibitions with reference to Christian freedoms have an obligation to
their brothers and sisters who do (v. 1). They must not live for their own comfort; instead, they must seek the
accommodation of others. This obligation is then enforced by Pauls command to accommodate the neighbor
which correlates to Christs summation of the Old Testament ethical code (v. 2).
Second, we learned that the accommodation the apostle has in mind has limits. The group without
inhibitions accommodates others only toward the goal of the whole communitys spiritual strengthening (v. 2).
Third, as if Paul was expecting complaints from those he exhorted, Paul portrays Jesus Christ as the
one who bore the unfair load of humanitys hostility toward God (v. 3). No load that a Christian bears in
community can compare with that of her Lord. In this way, Christ is always the norm for the whole Christian
community to aspire to.
Fourth, we learn that both the scriptures and the God of the scriptures uniquely provide hope to the
New Testament people of God (vv. 4-6). God is much bigger than any division or strife the Christian
community faces. Thus Christians find support in the both their sacred writ and their God for the strength to
unite as one. When unity is accomplished by the gracious enablement of God, a song rises toward heaven and
reaches the Father who is worthy of perpetual honor. Amen!
Finally, here is one specific application of this text. To the Christian who knows her freedom to drink
alcohol but lives within a community that does not approve of it for reasons related to faith, she must surrender
her freedom. It is not her role to educate the other members of the community on why her stance is correct;
rather, she must forfeit her freedom for the sake of her brothers and sisters while looking to her Savior. This
will serve only to strengthen the community and bring honor to the Father.

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