Romans 15:1-13- Christ: The Hope of All
Explanation- Continuing on, Paul informs us that those who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak. This word ‘failings’ has to do with the conscience. He is speaking of those ‘failings’ that accompany a weak conscience. We are to seek that which edifies and builds up our brothers and not do those things which have the potential to stunt growth. Paul uses Christ as an example of this. Christ did not seek His own benefit but came to bear the reproach of others. Christ did all things from a heart of love toward others, and we, who are His disciples, should seek to do the same. We are then reminded of the importance of the Old Testament. Paul reminds his readers that what was written in the past has not become outdated in light of the New Covenant, but rather these things are beginning to find their fulfillment. They were written to provide us with hope and encouragement as we walk out the life of faith. Why does Paul choose to put this ode to the Old Testament here of all places? I believe it is to remind us that what was written in the past is still relevant for us today, especially since the OT Scriptures reveal so much of Christ’s nature, character, and purpose in ministry. His example extends back not only to His earthly ministry but all throughout the Old Testament as well. There is no area of Scripture where Christ’s glory is not displayed! The purpose of this example, in part, is to encourage us to live in harmony with one another so that we may maximize the glory that we give to God.
Christ is the only hope for all peoples, in all places, at all times. In His earthly ministry, He fulfilled God’s word to the Jews, and through His death and resurrection, He has fulfilled the promised work to the Gentile peoples. Paul quotes four pieces of evidence of the latter from the Old Testament. This inclusion of Jews and Gentiles worshiping God in truth and unity is a theme that flows throughout Scripture. In the Abrahamic covenant, it is seen in God’s promise to bless the world through Abraham’s seed. This seed is Christ, and through Him, the world has received its blessing!
Application- Certainly, Christ and the Apostles had the authority to interpret the Old Testament. But we should not let this hinder us from mining into these pages of Scripture for ourselves. ‘All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…’ (2 Tim. 3:16). When Paul used the term ‘all Scripture,’ he was referring specifically to the Old Testament, being that the New Testament had not been completed at this time. Paul saw the value of the OT and sought to convey that to us, who may be quick to dismiss it in light of the NT. In reality, we need both Testaments to give us the full (or fullest possible) picture of redemptive history. So much of what Christ and the Apostles taught does not make sense to us in 21st Century America because we are void of the context in which Scripture was presented. Christ came to fulfill what was already written and promised by God, and if we do not have at least a partial understanding of what those writings and promises were, then I believe that we miss out on a great blessing. With this in mind, let us not be afraid to dive into the mine of the Old Testament. Many men have come up from that mine with precious treasure and a deeper understanding of all that the New Testament teaches.