July 11, 2016: Day 43 – Romans 15

It seems that here Paul has moved into a mode of writing which offers a simple request and gives advice to the Romans.  The last few chapters have been pretty intense and pretty significant in regards to how to live our lives even in the midst of trials and tribulations.  Here Paul simply says: be nice to each other.  Look out for the guy who is down and out and reach out to your hand to the person who is have a torrid day.  It is almost as if Paul takes the phrase: sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words have been taken on by Christ and turned aside.  It doesn't flow as nicely as: words will never hurt me, but you get the point.  Paul prays that we would live in harmony with one another.  It is a prayer that needs to be prayed even more frequently these days.  The purpose of getting along with each other, according to Paul, is so that we can proclaim the presence of Christ even more powerfully and effectively.   Paul finally lays out his plan to go to Rome to visit the community.  He never quite makes it on his own terms.  Sure, he goes to Rome, but as a prisoner, not as someone who is there to visit this fledgeling believing community.  He does beseech the Roman community to pray for him.  He felt very acutely the persecution and the anger that was directed toward him from those who lived in Judea.  He knew that he could not avoid Judea because Jerusalem was located in Judea and that was where "headquarters" were.  So his prayers were for his safety and for his continued ministry in a hostile environment.  It is important to note that Paul does not shy away from asking the community to pray for him as he faces an uncertain future.   Before this Paul highlights the material offerings that the gentile communities in Macedonia and Achaia have given for the cause of the Way.  It is one of the few times that Paul gives thanks to the gentile communities for their material resources which have been invaluable in forwarding the Gospel message.  It is clear that at this point these communities no longer feel like outsiders like they did before the Jerusalem Council in chapter 15 of Acts. 
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