Click here for the reading: Romans 15:4-13.
This passage from Romans 15 forms the conclusion of the larger section beginning in chapter 14. Paul exhorts his hearers to not cause a fellow Christian to stumble by their actions and to bear with the failings of the weak, just as Christ did not please Himself. What are common ways that we cause one another to stumble? What does Paul mean by bearing with the weak in these matters? Why is this important to consider as we await the coming of Christ? Consider the parallel passage in 1 Corinthians 8 and what it means to have the mind of Christ.
Having just cited Psalm 69 to prove his point, Paul reminds us that the Scriptures are written for our instruction so that we may have hope. How are we instructed by the Scriptures? Why is it a danger to treat this instruction merely as information? Why does this instruction give us hope, especially when dealing with the sins of others? In what ways does Paul describe the purpose of Scripture in passages like 2 Timothy 3:16-17?
Paul prays that his hearers would find the harmony they had been lacking, a harmony which could only come from God. The Lord who speaks through the Scriptures would grant them this harmony through Jesus Christ. What is the ultimate goal of harmony in the Church? What does false harmony look like, and what are its goals? How do we find this harmony in Christ, who has welcomed us? Compare 1 John 3:11-24 and what it means to love not in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.
Christ, after all, became a servant in order to confirm the ancient promises and to lead the Gentiles to glorify God. His goal in doing so was not a divided congregation, bickering with one another and looking down on one another, but a united body of Jews and Gentiles united in one voice. Paul cites four passages from all over the Old Testament to prove this point. Why should we emphasize with Paul that Christ came first to the house of Israel? What does this coming show about the nature of God? What makes us as the Gentiles rejoice, and what does this show about the nature of God? Why is this a fitting conclusion to the problem of disunity in the Church? How does Paul address this question in Ephesians 2?
Advent looks forward in hope to the time when God will fulfill all of His promises and bring an end to all divisions and hostilities. Why do we sing praises to God’s name now? How will those praises change on the Last Day? How does this reality lead us to bear with one another while we wait in hope? Why is the song of Revelation 5 a new song, and how do we find unity in the Lamb who was slain?