Romans 15:1
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) We then that are strong.—The opening verses of the chapter are intimately connected with the close of the last. Not only ought those who are strong in faith to be careful what they do in the matter of meat and drink, but in all things they should show sympathy and consideration for their weaker brethren. This unbroken continuity in the two chapters would be enough to show that the Epistle cannot originally have ended with Romans 14.

Bear the infirmities.—Take them upon ourselves, act as if they were our own, and, at the same time, by our sympathy relieve the consciences of the weak.

Romans 15:1-3. We then that are strong — Who have attained a greater degree of knowledge in spiritual things, have a clearer judgment, and are free from these scruples; ought to bear the infirmities of the weak — To accommodate ourselves to their weakness, so far as not to use our liberty to their offence and hinderance in religion; and also to bear with them in their failings, consequent on their ignorance or weakness, and not to condemn or despise them; and not to please ourselves — Without any regard to others. On the contrary; let every one of us — Without exception; please his neighbour for his good — Comply with his opinion in indifferent matters, so far as may tend to his advancement in holiness. For even Christ pleased not himself — Had regard to our advantage more than his own. “Christ might in his own life-time have declared the law of Moses abrogated, and have eaten of all kinds of meat indifferently, and have freed himself from the burdensome services enjoined by the law. But because his doing so would have been premature, and, by bringing reproach on the gospel, might have marred its success among the Jews, he abstained from the meats forbidden by the law, and performed the services which it enjoined;” and thereby, as well as by many other and much greater things, showed that he did not make it an object to please himself, “but in all his actions studied to promote the honour of God, and the happiness of men.” But as it is written — In words which may well be applied to him; The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell upon me — The punishment due to the wicked, who, by their speeches and actions, had dishonoured God, was laid on me. See note on Psalm 69:9, the verse here quoted. That this Psalm is a prophecy concerning Christ, we learn from John 19:28, where their giving Jesus vinegar to drink on the cross is represented as a fulfilment of the 21st verse of it. In like manner, Romans 15:9, The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up, was applied to Jesus by the disciples, John 2:17. Paul, therefore, hath rightly interpreted Romans 15:22-23, of the same Psalm, of the Jews who crucified Christ. See note on Romans 11:9-10.15:1-7 Christian liberty was allowed, not for our pleasure, but for the glory of God, and the good of others. We must please our neighbour, for the good of his soul; not by serving his wicked will, and humouring him in a sinful way; if we thus seek to please men, we are not the servants of Christ. Christ's whole life was a self-denying, self-displeasing life. And he is the most advanced Christian, who is the most conformed to Christ. Considering his spotless purity and holiness, nothing could be more contrary to him, than to be made sin and a curse for us, and to have the reproaches of God fall upon him; the just for the unjust. He bore the guilt of sin, and the curse for it; we are only called to bear a little of the trouble of it. He bore the presumptuous sins of the wicked; we are called only to bear the failings of the weak. And should not we be humble, self-denying, and ready to consider one another, who are members one of another? The Scriptures are written for our use and benefit, as much as for those to whom they were first given. Those are most learned who are most mighty in the Scriptures. That comfort which springs from the word of God, is the surest and sweetest, and the greatest stay to hope. The Spirit as a Comforter, is the earnest of our inheritance. This like-mindedness must be according to the precept of Christ, according to his pattern and example. It is the gift of God; and a precious gift it is, for which we must earnestly seek unto him. Our Divine Master invites his disciples, and encourages them by showing himself as meek and lowly in spirit. The same disposition ought to mark the conduct of his servants, especially of the strong towards the weak. The great end in all our actions must be, that God may be glorified; nothing more forwards this, than the mutual love and kindness of those who profess religion. Those that agree in Christ may well agree among themselves.We then that are strong - The apostle resumes the subject of the preceding chapter; and continues the exhortation to brotherly love and mutual kindness and forbearance. By the "strong" here he means the strong "in faith" in respect to the matters under discussion; those whose minds were free from doubts and perplexities. His own mind was free from doubt, and there were many others, particularly of the Gentile converts, that had the same views. But many also, particularly of the "Jewish" converts, had many doubts and scruples.

Ought to bear - This word bear properly means to "lift up," to "bear away," to "remove." But here it is used in a larger sense; "to bear with, to be indulgent to, to endure patiently, not to contend with;" Galatians 6:2; Revelation 2:2, "Thou canst not bear them that are evil."

And not to please ourselves - Not to make it our main object to gratify our own wills. We should be willing to deny ourselves, if by it we may promote the happiness of others. This refers particularly to "opinions" about meats and drinks; but it may be applied to Christian conduct generally, as denoting that we are not to make our own happiness or gratification the standard of our conduct, but are to seek the welfare of others; see the example of Paul, 1 Corinthians 9:19, 1 Corinthians 9:22; see also Philippians 2:4; 1 Corinthians 13:5, "Love seeketh not her own;" 1 Corinthians 10:24, "Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth; also Matthew 16:24.

CHAPTER 15

Ro 15:1-13. Same Subject Continued and Concluded.

1. We then that are strong—on such points as have been discussed, the abolition of the Jewish distinction of meats and days under the Gospel. See on [2263]Ro 14:14; [2264]Ro 14:20.

ought … not to please ourselves—ought to think less of what we may lawfully do than of how our conduct will affect others.Romans 15:1-3 We ought, in condescension to the weak, to give up

our own will for our neighbour’s good, after the

example of Christ.

Romans 15:4 The intent of the Scriptures.

Romans 15:5,6 Paul prayeth for unanimity among Christians.

Romans 15:6-12 Exhorteth to receive one the other, as Christ did

all, both Jews and Gentiles,

Romans 15:13 and wisheth them all joy, peace, and hope.

Romans 15:14-16 He apologizeth for his freedom in admonishing them,

as he was the apostle of the Gentiles,

Romans 15:17-21 and showeth the success and extensiveness of his labours.

Romans 15:23-29 He excuseth his not coming to them before, and

promiseth them, a visit on his return from Jerusalem.

Romans 15:30-33 He requesteth their prayers.

We then that are strong: the particle then showeth, that what followeth is inferred from what went before. By the strong, he means those who have attained to a good measure of knowledge and understanding, that are instructed in the Christian faith, and particularly in the doctrine of Christian liberty. He putteth himself in the number, not out of ambition, but that he may propose himself an example of the following duty.

Ought; i.e. we are obliged and bound both by the law of God and nature.

To bear the infirmities of the weak: by the weak, he means those who are weak in faith and knowledge, Romans 14:1. By their infirmities, he means their ignorance, frowardness, consoriousness, &c. He doth not speak of heresies and manifest enormities; but of such errors in doctrine and life, which proceed from ignorance or common infirmity. When he says, we must bear their infirmities, his meaning is, that we must bear with them, as we do with children or sick persons in their waywardness: though it a great burden to us, yet we must bear it; we must not impatiently contradict them, but prudently instruct them: see Exodus 23:5 1 Corinthians 9:22 Galatians 6:2.

And not to please ourselves: q.d. We ought not to do what we please in indifferent thing’s, and to act according to our own sentiments without any regard to others; we should not please ourselves in a proud reflecting upon our own knowledge, and in contemning of others because of their ignorance; we should not stand upon the terms of our liberty and contentment, but rather, for the sake of others, depart a little from our own right.

We then that are strong,.... Meaning not only ministers of the Gospel, who are men of strong parts, great abilities, mighty in the Scriptures, valiant for the truth on earth, and pillars in God's house; for though the apostle includes himself, yet not merely as such, but as expressing it to be his duty in common with other Christians; and the rather he does this, to engage them to the practice of it: but the stronger and more knowing part of private Christians are here intended; the Apostle John's young men, who are strong, in distinction from little children, or new born babes, that are at present weaklings; and from fathers who are on the decline of life, and just going off the stage; see 1 John 2:12; when these young men are in the bloom and flower of a profession, in the prime of their judgment, and exercise of grace; who are strong in Christ, and not in themselves, in the grace that is in him, out of which they continually receive; who are strong in the grace of faith, and are established and settled in the doctrine of it; and have a large and extensive knowledge of the several truths of the Gospel; and, among the rest, of that of Christian liberty:

ought to bear the infirmities of the weak; of them that are weak in faith and knowledge, particularly in the knowledge of their freedom from Mosaical observances: their "infirmities" are partly their ignorance, mistakes, and errors, about things indifferent; which they consider and insist on, and would impose upon others, as necessary and obliging; and partly the peevishness and moroseness which they show, the hard words they give, and the rash judgment and rigid censures they pass on their brethren, that differ from them: such persons and their infirmities are to be borne with; they are not to be despised for their weakness; and if in the church, are not to be excluded for their mistakes; and if not members, are not to be refused on account of them; since they arise from weakness, and are not subversive of the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel: they are not to be treated as wicked men, but as weak brethren; and their peevish tempers, morose dispositions and conduct, their hard speeches and censorious expressions, are patiently to be endured; they should be considered as from whence they arise, not from malice and ill will, from a malignant spirit, but from weakness and misguided zeal, for what they take to be in force, when it is abolished: moreover, they are to be complied with in cases not sinful, as the apostle did in circumcising Timothy, Acts 16:3, and purifying himself according to the law, Acts 21:26; and so to the weak he became weak, to gain some, 1 Corinthians 9:22, and therefore could urge this exhortation by his own example with greater force; and which he represents, not only as what would be honourable, and a point of good nature, and as doing a kind action, but as what "ought" to be; what the law of love obliges to, and what the grace of love, which "bears all things", 1 Corinthians 13:7, constrains unto; and which indeed if not done, they that are strong do not answer one end of their having that spiritual strength they have; and it is but complying with the golden rule of Christ, to do as we would be done by, Matthew 7:12,

and not please ourselves: either entertain pleasing thoughts of, and make pleasing reflections on their stronger faith, greater degree of knowledge, superior light and understanding; which being indulged, are apt to excite and encourage spiritual pride and vanity, and generally issue in the contempt of weaker brethren; nor do those things, which are pleasing and grateful to themselves, to the offence and detriment of others; for instance, and which is what the apostle has reference to, to gratify their appetite, by eating such meat as is forbidden by the law of Moses, to the grieving of the weak brethren, wounding their consciences, and destroying their peace; these things should not be done; stronger Christians should deny themselves the use of their Christian liberty in things indifferent, when they cannot make use of it without offence.

We {1} then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to {a} please ourselves.

(1) Now the apostle reasons generally of tolerating or bearing with the weak by all means, in so far that it may be for their profit.

(a) And despise others.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 15:1. Connection: To the preceding exposition of the perniciousness of the eating indicated in Romans 14:23, Paul now subjoins the general obligation,[9] which is to be fulfilled by the strong, over against (ΔΈ) that imperilling of the weak. The contrast of ΔΥΝΑΤΟΊ and ἈΔΎΝΑΤΟΙ is just as in chap. 14; the Τῇ ΠΊΣΤΕΙ of more precise definition in Romans 14:1 is so fully understood of itself after the preceding discussion, that we have here no right either to generalize the contrast (Hofmann: of the soundness and frailty of the Christian state of the subjects generally), or to single out the δυνατοί as a peculiar extreme party, which in their opposition to the weak had gone further and had demanded more than the remaining members of the church who did not belong to the weak (Mangold, employing this interpretation in favour of his view as to the Jewish-Christian majority of the church, as if the δυνατοί had been a Gentile-Christian minority). Against this, ἩΜΕῖς is already decisive, whereby Paul, in agreement with Romans 14:14; Romans 14:20, has associated himself with the strong, making his demand as respects its positive and negative portions the more urgent.

ΤᾺ ἈΣΘΕΝΉΜΑΤΑ] the actual manifestations, which appear as results of the ἈΣΘΕΝΕῖΝ Τῇ ΠΊΣΤΕΙ (Romans 14:1). The word is not found elsewhere. These imbecillitates are conceived as a burden (comp. Galatians 6:2) which the strong take up and bear from the weak, inasmuch as they devote to them, in respect to these weaknesses, patience and the helpful sympathy (2 Corinthians 11:29) of ministering love.[10] Thus they, in themselves strong and free, become servants of the weak, as Paul was servant of all, 1 Corinthians 9:19; 1 Corinthians 9:22.

μὴ ἑαυτοῖς ἀρέσκειν] not to please ourselves (1 Corinthians 10:33); “quemadmodum solent, qui proprio judicio contenti alios secure negligunt,” Calvin. This is moral selfishness.

[9] In opposition to Hofmann, who, assigning to the concluding verses of the epistle (Romans 16:25-27) their place after Romans 14:23, places ὀφείλομεν in connection with τῷ δὲ δυναμένῳ κ.τ.λ., Romans 16:25; see on Romans 16:25-27.

[10] βαστάζειν can the less indicate, as the subjects of the present exhortation, persons who were distinct from those addressed by προσλαμβάνεσθε, Romans 14:1 (Mangold), because in fact προσλαμβ. recurs in ver. 7. How frequently does Paul give different forms to the same injunctions! Mangold also lays an incorrect stress on the δέ, with which chap. 15 opens, as though, according to our view, οὖν should have been used.

Romans 15:1-13.[8] More general continuation of the subject previously treated: Exhortation to the strong to bear with the weak, according to Christ’s example (Romans 15:1-4); a Messing on concord (Romans 15:5-6); and a summons to receive one another as brethren, as Christ has received them, Jews and Gentiles (Romans 15:7-12). Blessing (Romans 15:13).

[8] According to Lucht, p. 160 ff., the entire passage vv. 1–3 is post-apostolic, not merely in the mode of its presentation, hut also in that of its view. In comparison with chap. 14, all is delineated too generally and abstractly; the example of Christ has in no other place been applied by Paul as it is here in vv. 3–7; the citations are after the manner of a later point of view; the argument in vv. 9–12 is not free from Jewish-Christian prejudices, etc. All of them grounds, which do not stand the test of an unprejudiced and unbiassed explanation of details—evil legacies from Baur’s method of suspicion.Romans 15:1-13. The fourteenth chapter has a certain completeness in itself, and we can understand that if the Epistle to the Romans was sent as a circular letter to different churches, some copies of it might have ended with Romans 14:23 : to which the doxology, Romans 16:25-27, might be loosely appended, as it is in A. L. and many other MSS. But it is manifestly the same subject which is continued in Romans 15:1-13. The Apostle still treats of the relations of the weak and the strong, though with a less precise reference to the problems of the Roman Church at the time than in chap. 14. His argument widens into a plea for patience and forbearance (enforced by the example of Christ) and for the union of all Christians, Jew and Gentile, in common praise. It seems natural to infer from this that the distinction between weak and strong had some relation to that between Jew and Gentile; the prejudices and scruples of the weak were probably of Jewish origin.Ch. Romans 15:1-7. The same subject: the Lord’s example in the matter

1. We then, &c.] This chapter and the next have been suspected and discussed by some foreign critics, as either (a) out of place—written by St Paul, but not originally for Roman Christians; or (b) as being, in whole or part, later additions to the Epistle. It is not too much to say of these theories, (as Meyer says of one of them, in his long prefatory note to this chapter), that “they result from assumptions and combinations which are either purely arbitrary, or lack, in the exposition of details, all solid ground and support.” The connexions of thought between cch. 14 and 15, and between passage and passage to the close of the Epistle, are either so obviously or so minutely natural, that the most difficult of all literary theories is that which accounts for them by designing imitation or accidental addition. Such things, seventeen or eighteen centuries ago, not to speak of the present day, were practically sure to betray themselves by manifest and startling incongruities.—See further, Introduction, ii. § 3.

We then that are strong] Lit. We then [that are] the able. The word rendered “able” is the same word as that rendered “mighty” in E. V. of e.g. Luke 24:19; Acts 18:24; 1 Corinthians 1:26; and “strong” in E. V. of 2 Corinthians 12:10. It seems to convey the thought of strength and something more; the resources and opportunities of strength. Able thus best represents it. Bp Lightfoot (on Php 2:15) suggests that it may have been a favourite title for themselves amongst the persons here contemplated; and so that there is irony in its use here.—“Then:”—lit. but, or now. The word marks an added fact or argument. The connexion of thought with the close of ch. 14 is manifest.

ought] We owe it to Him who has set us free.

to bear] Lit. to carry; i.e. as a burthen, a trial, which needs patience. Same word as Revelation 2:2-3.

the weak] Lit. the unable; in contrast to “the able” just above. Same word as Acts 14:8, (E. V. “impotent.”)Romans 15:1. [151] Δὲ, [on the other hand] but) [This is in antithesis to Happy—Sin, last ch. Romans 15:22-23]. There is great danger, and we are only kept guarded by the power of God; but we ought [owe that debt to others] to watch over [pay attention to] one another.—ἡμεῖς) we. He counts himself also in common with others a debtor, as an apostle, and as an apostle of the Gentiles.—οἱ δυνατοὶ, the strong) comp. Galatians 6:1, note.—βαστάζειν, to bear) It is indeed a burden.—ἀρέσκειν) Ἀρεσκω, I am anxious to please. He who is anxious to please himself, is indifferent about pleasing another, and pays little respect to his conscience. This is a Metonymy of the antecedent for the consequent [end.]

[151] Ὀφείλομεν, we ought) for Christ’s sake, ver. 3.—V. g.Verse 1 - Romans 16:24. - IV. SUPPLEMENTARY. (See summary of contents, p. 16.) Questions have been raised and much discussed as to the connection of the last two chapters, 15. and 16, with the rest of the Epistle. The facts and the opinions founded on them may be summarized as follows.

(1) There is sufficient proof that in early times copies of the Epistle existed without these two chapters. The evidence is this -

(a) Origen (on Romans 16:25-27) speaks of some copies in his time being without the concluding doxology, and also without any part of these two chapters, attributing the omission to Marcion, for his own purposes, having mutilated the Epistle. His words are, "Caput hoc (i.e. Romans 16:25-27) Marcion, a quo scripturae evangelicae et apostolicae interpolatae sunt, de hac Epistola penitus abstulit; et non solum hoe, sod ab hoc loco ubi scriptum est, Omne autem quod non ex fide est peccatum est (i.e. Romans 14:23) usque ad finem cuncta dissecuit." Tertullian also ('Contra Marcion') speaks of Marcion having mutilated this Epistle, though not specifying these two chapters.

(b) In Codex Amiatinus (a manuscript of the Latin Bible of the sixth century) there is a prefixed table of contents, referring by numbers to the sections into which the Epistle was divided, and describing the subject of each section. In this table the fiftieth section is thus described: "On the peril of one who grieves his brother by his meat," plainly denoting Romans 14:15-23; and the next and concluding section is described thus: "On the mystery of the Lord kept secret before his Passion, but after his Passion revealed," which description can only refer to the doxology of Romans 16:25-27. Hence it would seem that in some Latin copy of the Epistle to which the table of contents referred, the doxology followed Romans 14:23 with nothing between.

(c) Tertullian, Irenaeus, and Cyprian. who quote largely from the Epistle, have no references to ch. 15. and 16. It may be observed, however, that mere omission to quote is not in itself conclusive, though it may be corroborative of other evidence.

(2) The concluding doxology (Romans 16:25-27), though placed, as in the Textus Receptus, at the end of ch. 16. in the uncials generally and by the Latin Fathers, is found at the end of ch. 14. in the uncial L, in most cursives, in the Greek Lectionaries, and is so referred to by the Greek commentators. Some few manuscripts have it in both places, and some few omit it altogether. Origen also (loc. cit.) says that in some copies of the Epistle which contained ch. 15. and 16, the doxology was placed at the end of ch. 16, and in others at the end of ch. 14.

(3) In one manuscript (G) all mention of Rome in the Epistle is omitted; and in one cursive (47) there is a marginal note to the effect that "some one" (i.e. probably, some commentator) makes no mention of the words ἐν Ρώμῃ either in the interpretation or the text. In view of these facts, it may be held that the Epistle, as first written, ended at ch. 14. with the doxology appended, ch. 15. and 16. (ending at ver. 24 with the usual concluding benediction, "The grace," etc.) having been an addition. Baur, after his manner - and this partly on supposed internal evidence - disputes the two last chapters having been written by St. Paul at all, regarding them as an addition by a later hand. But his reasons are too arbitrary to stand against the authority of existing manuscripts, to say nothing of the internal evidence itself, which really appears to us to tell the other way. Such internal evidence will appear in the course of the Exposition. One view, put forth by Ruckert, and recently supported by Bishop Lightfoot (Journal of Philology, 1871, No. 6), is that St. Paul, having originally written the whole Epistle, including the two chapters, but without the doxology, reissued it at a later period of his life in a shortened form for general circulation, having then appended the doxology. This theory, however, is but a conjecture, put forward as best accounting for all the facts of the case, including that of all mention of Rome having been apparently absent from some copies. This, however, might be accounted for by the Epistle having been issued, after St. Paul's time, in a form suited for general circulation. On the whole, we may take it as probable that the apostle, having first concluded his Epistle with ch. 14. and the doxology, felt himself urged to resume a subject which lay so near his heart, and so appended ch. 15, and then the salutations, etc., in ch. 16, before the letter was sent. This supposition would in itself account for copies of the Epistle having got into circulation without the additions to it. Possibly Marcion took advantage of finding some such copies to deny the genuineness of the two final chapters altogether; and his doing so would be likely to promote circulation of the shorter copies. It will be observed that the Epistle, as a doctrinal treatise practically applied, is complete without the last two chapters; and also that ch. 15, though connected in thought with the end of ch. 14, might be, and indeed reads like, a resumption and further enforce-merit of its ideas. It seems, indeed, as if three appendices, or postscripts, had been added by the apostle; the first ending with the benediction of Romans 15:33; the second (commending Phoebe, who was to be the bearer of the letter, and sending salutations to persons at Rome) with the benediction of Romans 16:20; and the third (which might be added at the last moment) with that of Romans 16:24. All the benedictions are thus accounted for, being the apostle's usual concluding authentications (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:17; Colossians 4:18). As to the proper position of the doxology, if the view last given be correct, its original one would be most naturally at the end of ch. 14; since otherwise the Epistle, as first completed, would have nothing answering to the usual benedictions in conclusion. And though this is not a benediction, but a doxology, embodying in solemn terms the main idea of the preceding treatise, such a conclusion is in keeping with the peculiar character of the Epistle to the Romans. Finally, though uncial authority is decidedly in favour of the position of the doxology at the end of ch. 16, this does not seem to be a sufficient reason for con-eluding it to have been originally there. If there existed anciently two editions, one with, and the other without, the two chapters appended, transcribers of the longer edition would be likely to place the doxology at the end of what they believed to be the true conclusion of the original Epistle. After all, the question cannot be considered as settled. It has been deemed sufficient here to state the main arguments for or against the various views that have been taken. Verses 1-13. - H. Renewed admonition to bear with the weak, enforced by Scripture and the example of Christ. Verses 1-3. - We then (rather, but we, or now we. The δὲ here certainly seems to link this chapter to the preceding section; but it is not inconsistent with the chapter being an addition to a completed letter, of which it takes up the concluding thought) that are strong (St. Paul, here as elsewhere, identifies himself with the more enlightened party) ought (ὀφείλομεν expresses obligation of duty) to bear the infirmities of the weak (cf. Galatians 6:2), and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good (rather, for that which is good) to edification. For Christ also pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. The quotation is from Psalm 69:9; one in which a righteous sufferer under persecution calls on God for deliverance, and to some parts of which even the details of Christ's Passion strikingly correspond. The first part of the verse here quoted, "The zeal of thine house," etc., is applied to him in John 2:17. Infirmities (ἀσθενήματα)

Only here in the New Testament.

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