Romans 15:7
The apostle tries further to heal any existing differences between the various sections of the Christian community at Rome, and still further to enforce the duties of charity, self-denial, and mutual helpfulness, by reminding them of how much they have in common. This is the true method of uniting Christians. Some Christians think they will succeed in bringing others to their view of the truth by exposing the errors of those who differ from them. Consequently, we have bitter controversies between the various denominations, because Christians will persist in emphasizing the points on which they differ, rather than the points - often far more numerous and more important - on which they . agree. To draw nearer to Christ, and to draw one another nearer to Christ, this is the true eirenicon.

I. THEIR MUTUAL RELATIONSHIP TO CHRIST. "Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us" (ver. 7). Both have been received by Christ: why not, then, by one another? Why should our views of Episcopacy or Presbytery, Calvinism or Arminianism, interfere with our relationship as brethren in Christ? St. Paul shows that both Jews and Gentiles have a direct personal interest in Christ and relationship to him. "Jesus Christ was a Minister of the circumcision" (ver. 8). Therefore the Jew should not look upon Jesus of Nazareth as an alien, but as his kinsman according to the flesh. He came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil. But because he is a Jew, he is not, therefore, without an interest in the Gentiles. The apostle shows how even the Jewish writings looked forward to an incorporation of the Gentiles with the people of God, and to their sharing the blessings which the Messiah was to confer (vers. 10-12). "In him shall the Gentiles trust." How precious, then, should be the Name of Jesus to all the children of humanity! How the universal brotherhood of Christians is here enforced!

II. THEIR MUTUAL RELATIONSHIP TO THE GOSPEL, Not only was it predicted that both Jews and Gentiles would be joint partakers in the benefits of the Messiah's kingdom, but in actual fact the gospel has come to both. St. Paul, who was himself a Jew, experienced the blessings of the gospel. He, in his turn, communicated those blessings to the Gentiles. He was "the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God" (ver. 16). Truly, the gospel is a great reconciler. How it breaks down the prejudices of race and class and caste! Let the gospel only become a real, living power in our own heart and life, and we shall go forth, like St. Paul, to share its blessings with others, winning them by a spirit of love, no matter what our prejudices against them may have been.

III. THEIR DUTY OF MUTUAL HELPFULNESS. At the time of writing this Epistle St. Paul was on an errand which gave practical proof of the mutual sympathy between Gentile and Jewish Christians. He was on his way to Jerusalem (ver. 25). He was taking with him a contribution which the Gentile Christians of Macedonia and Achaia had made for their Jewish brethren at Jerusalem, who at this time were in poverty (ver. 26). He takes the occasion to say that this act of generosity, cheerfully performed, was indeed a Christian duty. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things" (vet, 27). Here is a reason for missionary efforts among the Jews. They have been the channel through which blessings have flowed to us: shall we not be the channel through which the blessings of the gospel shall flow to them? Here is a reason for the support of the Christian ministry. It is wise and prudent that those who are to be teachers and preachers of the Word, and pastors of the flock, should devote themselves to that work only. How, then, are they to be supported? By the generosity of those to whom they minister. If the latter are "partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things." Such mutual helpfulness all Christians ought to cultivate towards one another. - C.H.I.







Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded.
When we say God is patient four things are implied.

I. PROVOCATION. Where there is nothing to try the temper there can be no patience. Humanity provokes God. The provocation is great, universal, constant. Measure His patience by the provocation.

II. SENSIBILITY. Where there is no tenderness or susceptibility of feeling, there may be obduracy and stoicism, but no patience. Patience implies feeling. God is infinitely sensitive. "Oh, do not this abominable thing," etc.

III. KNOWLEDGE. Where the provocation is not known, however great, and however sensitive the being against whom it is directed, there can be no patience. God knows all the provocations.

IV. POWER. Where a being has not the power to resent aa insult or to punish a provocation though he may feel it and know it, his forbearing is not patience, it is simply weakness. He is bound by the infirmity of his nature to be passive. God is all powerful. He could damn all His enemies in one breath.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

(text and Nahum 1:3): —

I. THE NATURE OF THIS PATIENCE, OR SLOWNESS TO ANGER.

1. It is a modification of the Divine goodness. While goodness respects all creatures, patience has as its object only the sinner.

2. This patience is not the result of ignorance. Every transgression is in full view of Him who is one Eternal Now. And yet the Lord delays His thunders!

3. This perfection does not result from impotence (chap. Romans 9:22; Numbers 14:17).

4. Neither does it result from a connivance at sin, or a resolution to suffer it with impunity.

5. It is grounded on the everlasting covenant, and the blood of Jesus. Why was not patience exercised to the fallen angels? Because Jesus had not engaged to atone for them, as He had engaged to become the surety of man.

II. SOME OF THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS MANIFESTATIONS OF IT.

1. When our first parents sinned, patience held them in being, gave them an opportunity of securing a better Eden, and pointed them to that Messiah who should repair the ruins of the fall.

2. When the old world had corrupted its way before God, for 120 years He bore with its enormities, sent His Spirit to strive with them, and His messengers to warn them.

3. When the Canaanites indulged in every abomination, He delayed for four hundred years to inflict on them the punishments they deserved.

4. When the Gentile nations, instead of adoring the God of heaven, had placed the vilest passions and the grossest vices in the seat of the Divinity, the Lord "left not Himself without witness" (Acts 14:17).

5. When the Israelites, notwithstanding His numberless miracles and amazing mercies, rebelled against Him, did He not bear with them? But why do I mention particular examples? There is not a spot on our globe, there is not an instant that has elapsed, there is not a human being that has existed, that does not prove the forbearance of our God. Consider the number, the greatness, and the continuance of the provocations against Him by His creatures whom He hath surrounded with blessings, for whose redemption He gave His Son.

6. Consider the conduct of God towards those whom He is compelled ultimately to punish. Before the judgment He solemnly and affectionately warns them. If they are still obstinate, He delays, gives new mercies, that their souls at last may be touched. If He must punish, He does it by degrees (Psalm 78:38). If at last He must pour out His vengeance upon the incorrigible sinner, He does it with reluctance. "Why wilt thou die?" "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?"

III. THE REASONS WHY HE EXERCISES SUCH LONG-SUFFERING. Lovely as is this attribute, its exercise has often appeared mysterious to the pious, and has been abused by the sinner. Yet a little reflection would have convinced them that in this, as in all the other proceedings of His providence, the manifold wisdom of God is shown. He is patient —

1. From His nature (Lamentations 3:33).

2. That this perfection may be glorified. There can be no exercise of it in heaven, since there will be nothing to require it; none in hell, since there will be nothing but wrath (Isaiah 48:9).

3. In consequence of the prayers of pious ancestors, and of the promises made to them and their offspring after them. Ah! careless children of pious parents, you know not how much you are indebted to them.

4. From the mixture of the wicked with the pious, and the near relations subsisting between them. From love to His dear children, He spares His enemies (2 Kings 22:18, 20).

5. Because the number of His elect is not yet completed, and because many of the descendants of these wicked men shall be trophies of His grace. Had a wicked Ahaz been cut off at once, a pious Hezekiah would never have lived and pleaded the cause of God.

6. Because the measure of their sins is not yet filled up (Zechariah 5:6, etc.).

7. That sinners may be brought to repentance (2 Peter 3:15).

8. That sinners who continue impenitent may at last be without excuse.

9. That God's power may be displayed; the greatness of His protection and providence be manifested in preserving the Church in the midst of her enemies.

10. That He may exercise the trust of His servants in Him, and the "patience of His saints"; that He may call forth the graces of the righteous, and try their sincerity.

IV. INFERENCES. Is God infinitely patient?

1. With what love to Him should the consideration of this attribute inspire us?

2. What a motive to the deepest repentance (Romans 2:4).

3. Let us imitate Him in this perfection of His nature.

4. What a source of comfort is this to believers.

5. Then how patient should we be in all the afflictions with which He visits us?

6. Who, then, will not grieve at the reproaches and insults that are cast upon him?

(H. Kollock, D.D.)

"It takes a brave soul to bear all this so grandly," said a tender-hearted doctor, stooping over his suffering patient. She lifted her heavy eyelids, and looking into the doctor's face, replied, "It is not the brave soul at all; God does it all for me."

I. THE TITLE HE GIVES TO GOD. "The God of patience and consolation," i.e., a God that —

1. Bears with us.

2. Gives us patience and comfort.

II. THE MERCY HE BEGS OF GOD.

1. The foundation of Christian love and peace is laid in likemindedness.

2. This likemindedness must be according to Christ.

3. It is the gift of God.

III. THE END OF HIS DESIRE. That God may be glorified —

1. By Christian unity.

2. As the Father of Christ.

(M. Henry.)

I. ITS NATURE. "Likeminded."

II. ITS MOTIVES.

1. The character of God.

2. The mind and will of Christ.

III. ITS SOURCE. God.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

1. Flows from the God of patience and consolation.

2. Is conformable to the mind and will of Christ.

3. Finds expression in the united praises of God, even the Father of Christ.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

According to Christ Jesus
How did the Christ look upon the lives of men? We may be sure that He saw all the strange minglings of comedies and tragedies which so confuse and exhaust us. If we feel at times the myriad multiplicity and infinite confusions of life, and wonder what it all means and is worth, we may be perfectly sure that the most sensitive and receptive soul that ever was found in fashion as a man felt life as we never have. He measured in His own experience our temptations, and His life took in Cana of Galilee, a sick room in Capernaum, the market-place before the temple, the streets of the city, the country towns by the sea, the Master in Israel, the multitude of the people, the whole world of His day and of all days — our world-age and God's eternity. Remembering thus that Jesus lived as never poet, philosopher, or novelist has lived, in the real world of human motives and hearts, with our real human life a daily transparency before His eye, open now these Gospels and see if you can find there in Jesus' view of our life, in His thought of us, any such sense of the emptiness, vanity, strangeness of life, as we have often felt resting like a shadow over our thoughts. Did not He look upon things as contradictory to goodness and God as anything we have ever seen under the sun? And with purer eyes? Did not He feel with larger sympathy and warmer heart the broken, tangled, bleeding lives of men? Did not He bear the sin of the world? Where, then, is our human word of doubt among His words? Where is the echo of man's despair among the sayings of our Lord? He could weep with those who mourned; but He spake and thought of life and the resurrection before the grave of Lazarus. You cannot say that He did not understand our sense of life's mystery and brokenness. He saw it all in Mary's tears. He read it in the thoughts of disciples' hearts. Why, then, did He never reproduce our common human weariness and doubt in His thought of life? It is not an endless wonder to Him. He sees our life surrounded by the living God. He sees, beneath our world, undergirding it, God's mighty purpose. He sees above the righteous Father. He sees the calm of eternity. And knowing life better than you or I do, knowing such things as you may have heard yesterday or may experience tomorrow — enough sometimes to make men wonder whether there be a God, or truth, or anything of worth — Jesus Christ, in full, open view of all life, said, "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye believe in God; believe also in Me." We begin to come now in sight of the conclusion to which I wish to lead. The evangelists could not possibly have omitted this common human characteristic if the character of Jesus had been the creation of their own imaginations. You will find shadow after shadow of our human questioning crossing the path of Buddha, and lingering upon the heights of human genius, but not the shadow of a passing doubt or fear over all Jesus' conversation with men. How could the Son of man look thus in the joy and triumph of a God upon such a strange thing as our life is? It was because He saw the coming order and the all-sufficient grace for life. It was because He knew that He was Lord of the creation from before the foundation of the world, and the world sooner or later is to be according to Christi According to Christi This is the keyword for the interpretation of the creation. Everything comes right, as it takes form and being according to Christ. Everything in life or death shall be well, as it ends in accordance with Christ. This is the keynote for the final harmony — According to Christ! We shall understand life at last, we shall find all its shadows turned to light by and by, if we take up our lives and seek to live them day by day according to Christ. Every man who can read the New Testament can begin, if he chooses, to order his life according to Christ. He may not understand the doctrines. But when he goes down to his office or store, and looks his brother-man in the face, he may know what things are honest and of good report according to Jesus Christ. When he goes to his home he may know what manner of life there is according to Christ. Yes, and when trouble comes, or sickness, or we near "the end, then we may know how we need not fear, nor be troubled, according to Christ. In our churches, too, we may be of many minds on many subjects, but we ought to know also how to be of the same mind, if we are willing to think and to judge all things by this one infallible rule — According to Christ.

(Newman Smyth, D.D.)

That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God
1. One God and Father.

2. One Lord and Saviour.

3. One heart and mind.

4. One mouth and language.

5. One object and aim.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

With our mind we must think the same things, ere with our mouth we can speak the same things. Were we then more slow to speak of the things on which we differ, and more ready to speak of the things on which we agree, it would mightily conduce to the peace and unity of the visible Church. The members of the Church at Rome differed in regard both to meats and days; and Paul as good as enjoined silence about these, when he bade, them receive each other, but not to doubtful disputations. But, on the other hand, he bids them join with one mouth, as well as one mind, in giving glory to God.

(T. Chalmers, D. D.)

In explanation of the command to glorify God — it may seem strange and presumptuous to speak of such poor, sinful, worthless beings as we are, as glorifying, or as capable of glorifying God. But the perfect Christian may be compared to a perfect mirror, which, though dark and opaque of itself, being placed before the sun reflects his whole image, and may be said to increase his glory by increasing and scattering his light. In this view, we may regard heaven, where God is perfectly glorified in His saints, as the firmament, studded with ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands of mirrors, every one of them reflecting a perfect image o,f God, the sun in the centre, and filling the universe with the blaze of His glory.

(H. G. Salter.)

I have a clock on my parlour mantelpiece. A very pretty little clock it is, with a gilt frame, and a glass case to cover it. Almost every one who sees it, says, "What a pretty clock!" But it has one great defect — it will not run; and therefore, as a clock, it is perfectly useless. Though it is very pretty, it is a bad clock, because it never tells what time it is. Now, my bad clock is like a great many persons in the world. Just as my clock does not answer the purpose for which it was made — that is, to keep time — so, many persons do not answer the purpose for which they were made. What did God make us for? "Why," you will say, "He made us that we might love Him and serve Him." Well, then, if we do not love God and serve Him, we d o not answer the purpose for which He made us: we may be, like the clock, very p retry, and be very kind, and very obliging; but if we do not answer the purpose for which God made us, we are just like the clock — bad. Those of my readers who live in the country, and have seen an apple-tree in full blossom, know what a beautiful sight it is. But suppose it only bore blossoms, and did not produce fruit, you would say it is a bad apple-tree. And so it is. Everything is bad, and every person is bad, and every boy and girl is bad, if they do not answer the purpose for which God made them. God did not make us only to play and amuse ourselves, but also that we might do His will.

The time when Venn passed from the state of nature into the state of grace seems to have been, not when he threw away his cricket bat, but when, in the exercise of his ministerial function, he was arrested by an expression in the Form of Prayer, which he had been accustomed to employ, without, however, apprehending its true import. "That I may live to the glory of Thy name," was the expression. As he read it, the thought forcibly struck him, "What is it to live to the glory of God's name? Do I live as I pray? What course of life ought I to pursue to glorify God?" The prosecution of the inquiries thus suggested led to a juster conception of "the chief end of man," which, with characteristic conscientious energy, he straightway followed out by a corresponding change in his mode of life. We can imagine with what depth of sympathy and interest this circumstance would be listened to by Lady Glenorchy, who, at a later period of his life, was Venn's intimate friend, and whose religious life, like his, was dated from her serious attention to the noble answer given to the question which stands first in the Assembly's Shorter Catechism, "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever."

Wherefore receive ye one another as Christ also received us
I. HOW CHRIST RECEIVED US.

1. When we were weak and guilty.

2. Freely and heartily.

3. To fellowship in glory.

II. HOW WE SHOULD RECEIVE ONE ANOTHER.

1. Kindly, overlooking all infirmities and differences of opinion.

2. Sincerely, with the heart.

3. Into brotherly fellowship, as heirs together of the grace of God.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

I. THE REASONABLENESS OF THIS PRACTICE, whereby it will appear to be the duty of those who profess the religion of Christ to agree together, and form themselves into particular societies.

1. Without such an agreement to unite together in the practice of Christianity, there can be no such thing as public worship regularly maintained among Christians, nor public honours paid to God in the name of Jesus.

2. Without an agreement to keep up such societies for worship, the doctrines of Christ and His gospel could not be so constantly and extensively held forth to the world, and there would be no rational hope of the continuance or increase of Christianity among men.

II. THE ADVANTAGES OF SUCH AN AGREEMENT FOR CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP.

1. It gives courage to every Christian to profess and practise his religion when many persons are engaged by mutual agreement in the same profession and practice.

2. It is more for the particular edification of Christians that such societies should be .formed, where the Word of Christ is constantly preached, where the ordinances of Christ are administered, and the religion of Christ is held forth in a social and honourable manner to the world.

3. Such a holy fellowship and agreement to walk together in the ways of Christ is a happy guard against backsliding and apostacy, it is a defence against the temptations of the world and the defilements of a sinful age.

4. Christians thus united together by mutual acquaintance and agreement can give each other better assistance in everything that relates to religion, whether public or private.

III. THE PERSONS WHO SHOULD THUS RECEIVE ONE ANOTHER IN THE LORD, OR JOIN TOGETHER IN CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP. All that Christ has receipted to partake of His salvation (Romans 14:1-3, 17, 18). This is the general rule: but it must be; confessed that there are some Christians whose sentiments are so directly contrary to others in matters of discipline or doctrine, that it is hardly possible they should unite in public worship. But let every person take heed that he does not too much enlarge, nor too much narrow the principles of Christianity, that he does not make any article of faith or practice more or less necessary than Scripture has made it, and that he does not raise needless scruples in his own breast, nor in the hearts of others, by too great a separation from such as our common Lord has received.

IV. THE DUTIES WHICH PLAINLY ARISE FROM SUCH AN AGREEMENT OF CHRISTIANS TO WALK AND WORSHIP TOGETHER FOR THE SUPPORT OF THEIR RELIGION.

1. All the duties which the disciples of Christ owe to their fellow Christians throughout; the world are more particularly incumbent upon those who are united by their own consent in the same religious society (Galatians 6:10).

2. Those who are united by such an agreement ought to attend on the public assemblies and ministrations of that Church, where it can be done with reasonable convenience; for we have joined ourselves in society for this very purpose.

3. It is the duty cf persons thus united to maintain their Church or society by receiving in new members amongst them by a general consent.

4. In order to keep the Church pure from sin and scandal, they should separate themselves from those that walk disorderly, who are guilty of gross and known sins (2 Thessalonians 2:6; 1 Corinthians 5:4, 5, 7, 11, 13).

5. It is necessary that officers be chosen by the Church to fulfil several offices in it and for it.

6. It is the duty of those whose circumstances will afford it, to contribute of their earthly substance toward the common expenses of the society. And each one should give according to his ability: this is but a piece of common justice.

7. Everything of Church affairs ought to be managed with decency and order, with harmony and peace (1 Corinthians 14:40; 1 Corinthians 16:14).

V. REFLECTIONS.

1. How beautiful is the order of the gospel and the fellowship of a Christian Church. How strong and plain are the foundations and the ground of it. It is built on eternal reason and the relations of things, as well as on the Word of God.

2. How little do they value the true interests of Christian religion, the public honour of Christ and His gospel, or the edification and comfort of their own souls, who neglect this holy communion.

3. How criminal are those persons who break the beautiful order and harmony of a Church of Christ for trifles.

4. When we behold a society of Christians flourishing in holiness, and honourably maintaining the beauty of this sacred fellowship, let us raise our thoughts to the heavenly world, to the Church of the first-born, who are assembled on high, where everlasting beauty, order, peace, and holiness are maintained in the presence of Jesus our common Lord. And when we meet with little inconveniences, uneasiness, and contest, in any Church of Christ on earth, let us point our thoughts and our hopes still upward to that Divine fellowship of the saints and the spirits of the just made perfect, where contention and disorder have no place.

(I. Watts, D.D.)

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