v. 14-16 Paul is approaching the end of his letter to the church at Rome; even though he had not yet met those in the church at Rome face to face, he considered them brothers in Christ.
In previous chapters, especially, as recent as 14ff. he wrote “quite boldly on some points” and here he brings a sense of fairness and balance between pointing out their deficiencies and their strengths.
Notice how he begins v. 14 “…my brothers…full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.” Early on Paul addressed issues of judgmental attitudes, divisiveness, and destroying another’s faith over non-essential issues.
However, now he is balancing his interpersonal approach with genuine affirmation and kindness. “I myself am convinced…”
How did Paul know these things? Probably from the various people mentioned in chp. 16. Harrison (1986) quotes George Edmundson,
“Such a declaration implies a conviction based upon trustworthy evidence, otherwise his readers would be the first to perceive that here was only a high-flown language covering an empty compliment.”
Obviously we know Paul was empowered by the Holy Spirit and sincere.
How am I doing in staying “balanced” in my approach to people, especially believers?
Are my encouraging comments genuine or veiled with insincerity?
For those professing Christ, genuinely transformed… what are characteristics we might expect to be demonstrated? Is “full of goodness” a reasonable expectation for the believer?
An increasing “knowledge” and even “complete” as far as understanding the gospel? How about competency to instruct? What does that look like in the body of believers, especially the local church?
I am convinced that all genuinely transformed believers can reflect or be “full of goodness!”
Why? “…so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”
We have learned there is no goodness acceptable to God in our natural selves, but only through Christ as a new creation, hence the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Therefore, to get along, walk humbly, sacrifice our liberty, etc., we need the goodness of God in us and living through us, otherwise a genuine Christian life is practically impossible.
What is the “good?” It is based on knowledge of what God’s Word teaches us. God’s Word teaches us how to relate to others. Moreover, through knowledge of Scripture we have all we need to inform our relationship to God through the Lord Jesus, and we get a never ending source of “power” from God the Holy Spirit to live this supernatural life! Praise God!
To “instruct one another.” Another word might be to “inculcate” Webster defined as “to cause (as a person) to become filled or saturated with a certain quality or principle
Harrison said, “This word ‘instruct’ …reflects more than the imparting of information. ‘Inculcate’ comes close to expressing its force (cf. Col 3:16, “counsel,” and 1 Thes 5:14, “warn”).
In ministering to each other, is there a place for this type instruction among brothers? Do we need ‘instruction’ and a ‘humble’ heart to mature in our shared faith?
Paul was confident in the Roman church, they were well taught (cf. 6:17). The body of believers persevered through instructing and loving each other. On many occasions, “we know” yet because we are human, we need brothers to remind us, hence encourage us to mature, to be full and overflowing with the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
How often is “instruction” well received when delivered in the absence of the Holy Spirit’s leading?
When should we be “bold” in relating to, and even instructing our brothers? However,
Can even our “goodness” “knowledge,” even “freedom” become more destructive than constructive?
Paul is building bridges, relating and loving others, especially toward those in the church by God’s grace. Moreover, our ultimate goal is to effectively proclaim the “gospel of God” to those needing salvation.
Is it okay to allow the goal (‘our priestly duty’) to be met through a process of nurturing a relationship seasoned with Holy Spirit goodness?
Is it our priestly duty to proclaim the gospel of God? Might it be better to leave it to the ‘mature’ in Christ? The pastor? The evangelist? What if I am not ready? What if I do not know enough?
v. 17 Who makes ‘dead’ lost people become alive and an offering acceptable to God? “…sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” (cf. 1 Cor 6:9-11)
Am I enjoying God today? Am I being sanctified by the Holy Spirit? Are we convinced, and will we speak boldly, these simple, yet powerful words? “God loves you!” “He wants you to enjoy Him.”
Our gracious God calls us to meaningful relationships, especially with Him and with others.
“Therefore…”, because it “all” depends on God, it is only His power through us! “…I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.” This is an “inside-out” supernatural process!
v. 18 What should dominate our discussion when striving to live out our “priestly duty?” Only our dependence on Christ in us!
God decides to use us, even in our brokenness and makes us ‘instruments’ or ‘vessels’ of mercy toward others who are broken and desperate for healing.
Therefore, we choose ‘to engage’ by faith because of God’s grace, that is it! Therefore, who is ultimately responsible to bring people to salvation? All we are called to do is rely on God the Holy Spirit to draw lost souls to Himself through us!
What two things does Paul highlight that define practical ministry?
1. What we say 2. What we do (cf. James 1-3)
v. 19 Moreover, the power of God through signs and miracles served to validate Paul and the gospel message. Is your life transformation a validation of the power of God and a sign of the miraculous God we serve today?
Should we get ‘caught up’ in whether signs and miracles occur today?
Is the “power of the Spirit” evident in my everyday life?
v. 20-22 Paul wanted to reach as many as possible. However, he did not go at it alone. Through his journey he trusted God to build on a foundation through others who were equipped and empowered.
He strongly desired to go to Jerusalem and help the poor (time of famine) through the aid of the Gentiles. His efforts reflected a strong desire to demonstrate gratitude (for Jerusalem church sharing spiritual blessings) and promote unity among the Gentiles and Jews.
Paul spent years spreading the gospel and building local churches throughout the region. His focus was westward toward Spain. However, Rome was his next stop after going to Jerusalem.
v. 23-29 Obviously there was always work to be done in building the local churches. However, Paul had vision to go beyond where the gospel had not reached. Again, he trusted God to continue building through believers after Paul laid the foundation at Ephesus.
v. 30-33 How do we join with each other in our personal struggles? To join with or strive together is to ‘agonize together.’
How should we pray?
1. Rescue from evil
2. To maintain a ‘good’ witness
3. God’s will
4. We may share joy and be refreshed
5. God’s peace
Persevere In Christ!
Expositor’s Bible Commentary. (1976). F.E. Gaebelein (ed.)
NIV Study Bible (1984).