Romans 15–16: Encouragement & Love

Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 8: Sunday

Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.”
Romans 15:5–7

Today’s Bible reading of Romans 15–16, finishes Paul’s letter to the church at Rome. In chapter 15, he finishes giving his instructions to them about relationships with each other as he encourages them and tells them of his plans to come to Rome. I quoted the verses above when I wrote about ministry in Sharing Our Lives, and I said the word accept means:

“To take to oneself…or to receive…signifying a special interest on the part of the receiver, suggesting a welcome.”1

“To receive, i.e., grant one access to one’s heart…”2

Paul lived out his instructions to the Romans. Several weeks ago I came across an article by Geoff Thomas, A Minister’s Congregation are in his heart. Paul and his love for the Philippians is his example, but he concludes with words that also match Paul’s heart in these closing chapters of Romans:

“What is a congregation without love from its pulpit, love in its leadership, love in its prayer meetings, and love in all its relations? It has become sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. Think of the once great Ephesian church, and Christ saying to that congregation, “You have left your first love.” How different the early church. “The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul” (Acts 4:32). Unity between pulpit and pew. Unity in defending and confirming the gospel. Unity in apostolic teaching and suffering. Unity in warm affection. That is the goal of the true minister of Christ.”3

Paul’s letter to the church at Rome closes in chapter 16 with greetings and commendations. The many names (more than in any other letter) and the affectionate nature of his words reveal his close ties and his love for this church which he had yet to visit.

At the beginning of Romans Paul wrote these words that are the theme of the book:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.””
Romans 1:16–17

Paul, a Pharisee of Pharisees, was not ashamed of the Gospel. He knew its power for Jew and Gentile alike, and he shared its truth out of a heart warm with love and affection for the church at Rome. He closes this incredible letter of God’s grace with praise:

…to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.

_________
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1W. E. Vine, Old Testament edited by F. F. Bruce, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and
New Testament Words
, 1981, Vol. 3, p. 255.
2Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for proslambanō (Strong’s 4355)”. Blue Letter Bible.
1996-2010. 20 Oct 2010. (Expand Thayer’s Lexicon).
Safety Net: Susan E. Hendrich
3Geoff Thomas, A Minister’s Congregation are in his heart, Banner of Truth.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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