Romans Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern

chapter 15
1. So we who are strong have a duty to bear the weaknesses of those who are not strong, rather than please ourselves.
2. Each of us should please his neighbor and act for his good, thus building him up.
3. For even the Messiah did not please himself; rather, as the Tanakh says, "The insults of those insulting you fell on me" (Psalm 69:10(9)).
4. For everything written in the past was written to teach us, so that with the encouragement of the Tanakh we might patiently hold on to our hope.
Psalm 69, cited here, is prophetic and Messianic throughout and is the third most frequently quoted Psalm in the New Testament (after Psalms 110 and 118) — see Mt 27:34, 48; Mk 15:35; Lk 23:36; Yn 2:17, 15:25: Ac 1:20; Rv 3:5,16:1; and above, 11:9-10. In the original, a persecuted servant of God is addressing God; in the present context that servant is seen to be Yeshua the Messiah.

Sha'ul sees behind thep'shat ("plain sense") of the text of Psalm 69:10(9) a remez ("hint"; see 2:28-29N, Mt 2:15N) about Yeshua. This shows one of the ways in which everything written in the past was written to teach us, where "us" notably includes Gentile Christians, even though the Tanakh was not originally written for them (compare 1С 10:5-11, 1 Ti 3:16).

Christian seminarians under pressure sometimes make jokes about "sermons based on Leviticus," implying that they consider much of the Tanakh boring, with little to say to Christians. (Were they familiar with Jewish literature they would realize how rich the book of Leviticus is for everyone; see, for example, the popular commentary on it by the Messianic Jewish scholar Louis Goldberg). Many Christians go further and simply discard the Old Testament in favor of the New. They are not usually explicit about it. Instead they acknowledge verbally that the Old Testament is inspired by God, but in practice they ignore most of it. No wonder Jews often regard the Tanakh as the Jewish Bible and the New Testament as the Christian Bible — Christians have fostered that impression by their own attitudes and behavior!

But Christians who weight the New Testament above the Old not only disparage Sha'ul's teaching and ignore the example of himself, the other New Testament authors and Yeshua; but they deprive themselves of the encouragement, comfort and good counsel (12:1N) that the Tanakh offers in helping believers patiently to hold on to their hope of complete salvation (as spelled out earlier, 8:17-30). Also, they are the ones most likely to fall prey to antisemitism in the Church, since they remove themselves from three-quarters of God's inspired Word, which gives the fundamental and unshakeable ground for their identifying with the Jews as God's people (see vv. 7-33&NN). 

5. And may God, the source of encouragement and patience, give you the same attitude among yourselves as the Messiah Yeshua had,
6. so that with one accord and with one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.
The discussion of Chapter 14 is concluded (see 14:1-15:6N) by upholding Yeshua himself as our example. 

7. So welcome each other, just as the Messiah has welcomed you into God’s glory.
8. For I say that the Messiah became a servant of the Jewish people in order to show God’s truthfulness by making good his promises to the Patriarchs,
9. and in order to show his mercy by causing the Gentiles to glorify God — as it is written in the Tanakh, "Because of this I will acknowledge you among the Gentiles and sing praise to your name" (2 Samuel 22:50, Psalm 18:50(49)).
7-9a Verse 7 makes a transition between the previous topic (14:1—15:6&N) and what follows; vv. 8-9a present the proposition forming the basis of the discussion which continues to the end of the chapter.

The Messiah became a servant of the Jewish people. It is not true that Yeshua is the Christian Messiah, while the Jews are waiting for someone else. He is the Messiah of the Jews. If he is not the Jewish Messiah, the Christians have no Messiah.

Sha'ul focuses on two reasons for Yeshua's becoming a servant of the Jews: to show God's truthfulness and to show God's mercy. God's truthfulness, faithfulness and reliability are certain (8:31-39). Though one might question this because not all Jews have followed Yeshua, God will make good his promises to the Patriarchs (11:28-29), and he will do this through his servant of the Jewish people, Yeshua the Messiah. This has already been thoroughly discussed in Chapters 9-11. 

10. And again it says, "Gentiles, rejoice with his people" (Deuteronomy 32:43).
11. And again, "Praise Adonai, all Gentiles! Let all peoples praise him!" (Psalm 117:1)
12. And again, Yesha‘yahu says, "The root of Yishai will come, he who arises to rule Gentiles; Gentiles will put their hope in him" (Isaiah 11:10).
God's mercy is demonstrated by causing the Gentiles to glorify God. Sha'ul has not yet treated this, so he opens, as he did with God's truthfulness, by citing Scripture texts as evidence. He adduces them from all four major sections of the Tanakh: from the Former Prophets (2 Samuel 22:50), the Pentateuch (Deuteronomy 22:43), the Writings (Psalm 117:1) and the Latter Prophets (Isaiah 11:10). Every part of the Tanakh witnesses to the inclusion of Gentiles in the people of God. 

13. May God, the source of hope, fill you completely with joy and shalom as you continue trusting, so that by the power of the Ruach HaKodesh you may overflow with hope.
14. Now I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and well able to counsel each other.
15. But on some points I have written you quite boldly by way of reminding you about them, because of the grace God has given me
16. to be a servant of the Messiah Yeshua for the Gentiles, with the priestly duty of presenting the Good News of God, so that the Gentiles may be an acceptable offering, made holy by the Ruach HaKodesh.
17. In union with the Messiah Yeshua, then, I have reason to be proud of my service to God;
18. for I will not dare speak of anything except what the Messiah has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience by my words and deeds,
19. through the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Yerushalayim all the way to Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the Good News of the Messiah.
Sha'ul does not disobey his own injunction against boasting, because his boasting is never about himself but about what the Messiah has accomplished. 

20. I have always made it my ambition to proclaim the Good News where the Messiah was not yet known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation,
21. but rather, as the Tanakh puts it, "Those who have not been told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand" (Isaiah 52:15).
The quotation of one verse implies the quotation of the entire passage that forms its context, as explained at 3:3-4N. Here the context is Isaiah 52:13-53:12, the passage of the Tanakh which most clearly foreshadows Yeshua. 

22. This is also why I have so often been prevented from visiting you.
23. But now, since there is no longer a place in these regions that needs me, and since I have wanted for many years to come to you,
24. I hope to see you as I pass through on my way to Spain, and to have you help me travel there after I have enjoyed your company awhile.
25. But now I am going to Yerushalayim with aid for God’s people there.
26. For Macedonia and Achaia thought it would be good to make some contribution to the poor among God’s people in Yerushalayim.
Years earlier the leaders of the Jerusalem Messianic community had enjoined Sha'ul to "remember the poor" (Ga 2:10). He wrote about the present collection on their behalf at 1С 16:1-4 and 2C 8:1-9:15. So well did he succeed in making Gentile tzedakah ("charily"; Mt 6:1 -4N) toward the Jewish poor a part of his Gospel that this project was initiated not by him but by the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The gift was duly delivered (Ac 24:17). 

27. They were pleased to do it, but the fact is that they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared with the Jews in spiritual matters, then the Gentiles clearly have a duty to help the Jews in material matters.
Obedience in doing tzedakah should be with joy — they were pleased to do it, "God loves a cheerful giver" (2C 9:7) — for this reflects the'fellowship between Messianic Jews and Gentile Christians that Sha'ul is at pains to inculcate (11:11-32). In v. 26 the word translated "contribution" (in this and all versions) is "koinonia" literally, "fellowship"; genuine fellowship implies a willingness to give and share. But there is a more basic ground, duty (compare 1С 9:14, Ga 6:6). Because the Gentiles have shared with the Jews in the spiritual matters listed in 9:4-5, Gentile believers have ал obligation to help the Jews in material matters, simply out of gratitude (Sha'ul makes the same point at 1С 9:11). This verse does not restrict the material help only to Jews who believe; there is no creedal test for Jews to be eligible for help from Gentile Christians. Many Gentile Christians obey this broader understanding, contributing generously to the Slate of Israel and other Jewish causes and charities not in the hands of Jewish believers. On the other hand, in vv. 25 and 31 the word for "God's people" is "agioi" ("holy ones" or "saints"), always used by Sha'ul to denote believers; so that in context the "Jews" of the present verse are believers. On this point Gentile Christians have a less clear record, for they are rarely taught to assist the Messianic Jewish community. Nowhere in the world do Messianic Jews operate from a position of numerical or material strength. Among Israel's 4,200,000 Jews (1992), not more than 3,000 are Messianic, by most estimates. Among the United States' 250,000,000 people, of whom 5,800,000 are Jewish, the Messianic Jews number perhaps 100,000. At the risk of being labeled a shnorrer (Yiddish for "beggar" and sometimes applied to fundraisers), 1 entreat Gentile Christians who believe God's Word to obey Romans 15:27 by assisting Messianic Jewish congregations, organizations and individuals. 

28. So when I have finished this task and made certain that they have received this fruit, I will leave for Spain and visit you on my way there;
v. 24,28 Why Spain? Because apparently "the Messiah was not yet known" in that province (v. 20). Scholars differ over whether he succeeded in getting there (see Ac 28:31N). 

29. and I know that when I come to you, it will be with the full measure of the Messiah’s blessings.
30. And now I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Yeshua the Messiah and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God on my behalf
31. that I will be rescued from the unbelievers in Y’hudah, and that my service for Yerushalayim will be acceptable to God’s people there.
Sha'ul urged the Romans to pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers (literally, "the disobedient") in Y'hudah. According to 1 Th 2:14-16&NN it was especially the Judean nonbelievers who took affront at Sha'ul (see also Ac 21:27&N). His prayer was answered, perhaps more literally than Sha'ul had wished, at Ac 2I:32ff.; and it was in direct consequence that he eventually realized his desire to come to Rome (Ac 28:16).

And that my service (or possibly "Temple worship" in the sense of 12:1&N) for Yerushalayim may be acceptable to God's people there. Why would they refuse a gift? Aside from aversion to "becoming a charity case," there was resentment even among believers at Sha'ul's ministry to the Gentiles, even though the Jerusalem leadership stood solidly with him. In the 19th century Tubingen School of Christian theologians developed the idea that there was a sharp conflict between the Jewish-oriented leaders in Jerusalem and the Gentile-oriented Paul, and the idea continues cropping up in the works of scholars to this day; but the New Testament does not support it; see Acts 10-11, 15, 21; Ga 2:1-10. Nevertheless the relationship between Sha'ul and some of those not in leadership positions had its frictions, and his temper may have added to the heat. Yet from Ac 21:17-19 and 24:17 it is reasonable to infer that the Messianic community in Yerushalayim "received this fruit" (v. 28). 

32. Then, if it is God’s will, I will come to you with joy and have a time of rest among you.
33. Now may the God of shalom be with you all. Amen.
Gentile Christian identification with and service to God's people the Jews is a major theme of this section.
The passages quoted in vv. 9-12 illustrate two themes that opened this letter (1:5-16) — his own ministry (including his projected visit to Rome and Spain) and his readers' role in it. 

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