Second Sunday in Advent (Dec 4th)

Pastor's Summary of Romans 15:4-13

Paul has told his readers that "We who are strong" (v. 1) are to help the "weak" to come to terms with their consciences; we are to endure, pleasantly, their "failings"-thus building up the Christian community. Jesus is our great example.

Now Paul tells us the value of the Old Testament for us, "written in former days" (v. 4). When Jesus' suffering is seen as part of God's plan (which began with Abraham and other patriarchs) "the scriptures" take on a greater meaning: towards the "hope" of eternal life. Vv. 5-6 are a prayer for harmony in the community, so that it may reflect God's glory. In 14:1, Paul has written: "Welcome those who are weak in faith". In v. 7 he combines this with Jesus' command to "love one another as I have loved you". Why? "For the glory of God", the reason Jesus came to us. Jesus was a Jew and ministered to Jews ("a servant of the circumcised", v. 8) in order to demonstrated that the "Promise...to the patriarchs" are relaible ("confirm") and to open up God's promises to other cultural communities ("Gentiles", v. 9.) Paul's quotations in vv. 9-12-from Psalms, Deuteronomy and Isaiah-all show that others besides Jews were envisioned in God's plan. Paul ends by asking God, the one in whom all cultures center their "hope" (v. 13), to fill his readers with "joy", "peace" and "hope"-the key concepts in his quotations.

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