ii] The weak and the strong, 14:1-15:13
c) Live in harmony with one anotherArgument
In 15:1-13 Paul concludes his counsel to "the weak" and "the strong", making the point that each should consider their neighbor's good by emulating the selflessness of Christ; "we who are strong ought ...... not to please ourselves." The strong have the freedom and therefore the latitude to make concessions for the sensibilities of the weaker brother and sister - to consider others before ourselves is to act in a Christ-like manner.
i] Context: See 14:1-12. Paul continues to broach the touchy issue of how law-bound and libertine believers are to relate within the Christian fellowship
ii] Background: See 14:1-12.
As already noted, "the weak" are most likely law-bound believers, most with a Jewish background. These believers were of great concern to Paul because their stress on the doing of righteousness, on the doing of piety, for the appropriation of divine favor, tended to undermine the ground of their salvation, a salvation which rests on Christ's faithfulness, not their own. For Paul, holiness, and thus the appropriation of the promised Abrahamic blessings, rests on faith in the "faith of Christ" (the faithfulness of Christ - his atoning sacrifice) and not on "works of the law".
As for "the strong" (note, Paul includes himself in this group - "we who are strong"), they were made up of believers who have found freedom in Christ (most probably of Gentile stock). They knew that the totality of God's promised blessings was theirs in Christ, now and for eternity, such that their salvation was in no way affected by the imperfection of their Christian walk.
iii] Structure: This passage, serving to conclude Paul's call for "the strong" to consider "the weak", 14:1-15:13, presents as follows:
Let "the strong" consider "the weak", v1
Each should work for the edification of their brothers / sisters, v2.
The example of Christ, v3a;
Psalm 69:9, v3b;
The purpose of Biblical instruction, v4.
May all be of the same mind, v5-6.
Accept others as Christ accepted you, v7.
Theological support restated;
Christ the servant of Jews in order that the Gentiles may praise God, v8-9a;
Scriptural support, 9b-12: Ps.18:49, Deut;32:43, Ps.117:1, Isa.11:10.
iv] Thesis: See 3:21-31.
Paul's argument that the freedom a believer possesses in Christ does not give them the freedom to ride roughshod over the sensibilities of others, is now brought to a conclusion. The strong should be willing to carry the weak, "bear their infirmities." Paul draws on the example of Christ to support his exhortation, and this with reference to Psalm 69.
In v7-12 Paul brings his argument to a conclusion by calling on his readers to "accept one another", in the same way Christ accepted them. Indicating that the law / grace issue aligns to some degree with the Jew / Gentile (racial) issue, Paul explains how God's work of salvation in Christ is realized through both Jews and Gentiles, so providing the basis for mutual acceptance. As the scriptures make clear, Jews and Gentiles are together in God's new family in Christ.
Paul concludes with a wish-prayer; he desires that his readers may experience divine hope with all joy and peace, v13.
iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.
Text - 15:1
Unity through love, v1-13; i] Christ the example of love, v1-6. Using Christ as the perfect example, Paul encourages his readers to put up with the limitations of their brothers and sisters rather than seeking to please themselves.
de "-" - but, and. Transitional connective, indicating the next step in the argument.
hJmeiV "we" - Emphatic by use. With the first person plural Paul now includes himself among the "strong"
oi dunatoi adj. "strong" - the strong, capable. The articular adjective serves as a substantive, standing in apposition to hJmeiV, "we". They are the ones who know that their standing in the sight of God is not gained, maintained or progressed by obedience to the law, but by grace through faith. "Strong in the faith", TEV.
bastazein (bastazw) pres. inf. "to bear" - [ought] to carry, bear. Gnomic present. As with mh ... apeskein, "not to please", the infinitive may be classified as complementary, completing the sense of the verb ofeilomen, "are obligated = ought". "Bear", in the sense of "put up with", misses the point, "help", TEV, is closer, but the NEB, other than the sexist "men", is spot on with "accept as our own burden the tender scruples of weaker men." "Carry" as Christ carried our weakness. The "strong" have no need to, nor should they refocus on the law, but they can be gentle with a brother who is law-bound and so not offend their sensibilities.
ta asqenhmata (a atoV) "failings" - the weaknesses. Standing as the accusative object of the infinitive. Possibly "burdens", TEV, here the burden of their religious sensibilities.
twn adunatwn gen. adj. "the weak" - of the ones not strong [and not to please ourselves]. The articular adjective serves as a substantive. The genitive may be classified as verbal, subjective, or adjectival, possessive. Up to this point, Paul has used the particular Greek word for "weak" to identify this group. As noted above, the "weak" are most likely Jewish believers, still very much law-bound. It is likely that they have yet to understand the full extent of justification and will never understand it if the "strong" constantly offend their religious sensibilities on matters such as those identified at the Jerusalem conference, ie. eating meat offered to idols, strangled, unbled and marrying within prohibited relationships, Act.15:20.
eJautoiV dat. pro. "ourselves" - [and not to please] ourselves. Dative of direct object.
Those who are strong should bear the encumbrances of the weak and not act in a way that pleases themselves; they should act in a way that builds up their neighbor. Consider the example of Christ, in no way did he please himself. As the Psalmist puts it in Psalm 69:9, Christ willingly accepted the concentrated hatred of mankind so as to save mankind. Therefore, it would be rather ungrateful of us if we couldn't accept a little inconvenience for the sake of a brother.
hJmeiV gen. pro. "[each] of us" - [each one] of usThe genitive is adjectival, partitive / wholative.
aresketw (areskw) pres. imp. "should please" - let him please. Gnomic present. Cause him to be happy, blessed; "let each of us please our neighbor."
tw/ plhsion adv. "neighbor" - the / his neighbor. The dative nominalizer tw/ enables the adverb to serve as a substantive, dative of possession; "to the neighbor" = "his/our neighbor." A brother in the Lord is obviously intended.
eiV + acc. "for" - to, toward, for. Here expressing purpose / end-view, as NIV.
to agaqon adj. "good" - The article with the adjective likely conveys a possessive sense; "their good." In the sense of a "benefit", spiritual profit.
proV + acc. "to [build him/them up]" - toward = with a view to, leading to [building up, strengthening]. Here expressing purpose / end-view"; with a view to building up. Possibly building up the Christian community (cf. NEB. Weak + strong), but more likely the "weak". Build up what? Possibly their faith, in the sense of their dependence on Christ rather than on the law.
Christ willingly accepted the concentrated hatred of mankind so as to save mankind, so it would be rather ungrateful of us if we couldn't accept a little inconvenience for the sake of a brother.
gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why each should please their neighbor.
kai "even" - and. Ascensive, as NIV.
hresen (areskw) aor. "[for Christ did not] please" - Constantive aorist, ie. denoting the point of occurrence of the action of the verb. Christ didn't live for his own benefit, for his own happiness, his own good pleasure.
eJautw/ dat. pro. "himself" - Dative of direct object after the verb "to please" / interest, advantage.
alla "but" - Strong adversative; "but".
kaqwV "as [it is written]" - Comparative.
twn oneidizontwn (oneidizw) gen. pres. part. "[the insults] of those who insulted [you]" - [the reproaches] of the ones reproaching [you]. The present tense is iterative with the participle serving as a substantive, the genitive being classified as verbal, subjective, or adjectival, possessive. "People insulted you, but what they said has really insulted me", ATH, Ps.69:9.
ep (epi) + acc. "on [me]" - [fell] on [me]. Spacial; "upon me."
In an aside, Paul explains why he supports his case with an Old Testament verse. These scriptures speak of Christ and they were written, not just for their day, but also for us, that we might grow in Christ-likeness.
gar "for" - Here causal, in that it introduces an explanation, but an explanation which is somewhat left-of-field. The verse is virtually parenthetical, or at least a digression. Paul has just backed up his exhortation with a verse of scripture, and so now, probably for his Gentile readers, he explains why this verse of scripture is apt. "Scriptural references from the Old Testament, such as this one, are apt because everything written in the Old Testament was written for our instruction." Best left untranslated; "All those writings of long ago were written for our instruction", Berkeley.
oJsa ... proegrafh "everything that was written in the past" - whatever things were written before. Obviously referring to the Old Testament scriptures, so "everything written in the scriptures."
eiV + acc. "to" - toward = for. Expressing purpose / end-view; "for our teaching."
thn didaskalian (a) "teach" - the teaching. The prime function of the law, namely, to make sin more sinful, has found its fulfilment in Christ and is therefore, no longer applicable to a believer, yet the Old Testament still speaks of Christ and is therefore, a source of sound teaching.
thn hJmeteran adj. "us" - of us. This possessive adjective serves as an objective genitive, ie. we receive the teaching.
iJna + subj. "so that" - [were written] that. Most likely introducing a final clause expressing purpose, the intended purpose of the teaching; "in order that ....we may maintain our hope", NEB.
dia + gen. "through" - through, by means of. Instrumental, expressing means; that by the instrument of teaching scriptural truth, hope might be established in a believer's life. "By steadfastness...." NRSV.
thV uJpomonhV (h) gen. "endurance" - perseverance, endurance [and through]. The genitive is ablative, source / origin.
thV paraklhsewV (iV ewV) gen. "encouragement" - the comfort, consolation. The genitive, as above. Possibly "exhortation", but "consolation" is better, Cranfield, etc.
twn grafwn (h) "of the scriptures / taught in the Scriptures" - of the writings. The genitive is probably ablative, expressing source / origin; an endurance and encouragement apo, "derived from" the scriptures. It is likely that this genitive construction applies to both "endurance" and "encouragement".
ecwmen (ecw) pres. subj. "we might have [hope]" - we may have [hope]. The present tense, being durative, indicates ongoing hope, even growing hope: "hold fast their hope", Cranfield; "go on hoping", Moo.
Paul rounds off his exhortation with a prayer for Christian unity; "May God, who is the source of endurance and encouragement and has made the scriptures the source of both in our daily walk, enable you to live together in harmony."
de "-" - but, and. Here as a transitional connective indicating a step in the argument and so left untranslated; possibly "now may the God ...."
thV paraklhsewV (iV ewV) gen. "who gives endurance" - [the God] of endurance [and encouragement]. This genitive, as with the ones that follow, is adjectival, idiomatic / producer, product.
dw/h (didwmi) aor. opt. "give" - Used here to express a desire. "I pray that God ...."
uJmin dat. pro. "you" - to you. Dative of indirect object.
fronein (fronew) inf. "a spirit of unity" - [the same thing] to think / have in mind, set one's mind on. The infinitive forms a substantival phrase, direct object of the verb "give"; "give the same thing to think" = "may grant to live in Christ-like harmony with one another", Barclay. Paul's "prayer", his wish/desire, is either, that his readers have a single mind on matters of the Christian faith, or that they be united, in harmony with each other, "agree with one another", NEB. The second option is best. They may still disagree on issues of theology, but at least they can recognize their unity in Christ.
en + dat. "among [yourselves] / toward [each other]" - in [yourselves]. Local, space; "among one another", Jewett.
kata + acc. "as you follow" - according to [Christ Jesus]. Expressing a standard; "in accordance with Jesus Christ" = "live in Christ-like harmony", Barclay. Is it follow the example of Christ or the will of Christ?
Paul's greatest wish for his readers is that they will be a united group. By being one they give glory to God; they honour him.
iJna + subj. "so that" - Introducing a final clause expressing purpose / object of the unity, namely, the glorification of God.
oJmoqumadon adv. "with one heart / with one mind" - with one accord, in unity of mind. The adverb is modal, expressing manner; "all of you together", TEV. Originally, a term used of political solidarity.
en "and mouth / and one voice" - and in [one mouth]. The preposition is most likely adverbial, expressing either manner, or means; "with one voice", ESV. The "all of you together" serves as an instrument of the glorification of God.
doxazthe (doxazw) subj. "you may glorify" - "Declare openly your good opinion of."
kai "[God] and [Father ....]" - [the God] and [Father]. Possibly ascensive, where God is taken as an absolute, "God, even the Father..." AV.
tou kuriou (oV) gen. "of [our] Lord" - of the Lord [of us]. The genitive is adjectival, relational.
Ihsou Cristou gen. "Jesus Christ" - Standing in apposition to "Lord" and thus genitive by agreement.
ii] The basis of mutual love, v7-13. God's mercy in Christ binds as one both Jew and Gentile, circumcised / law-bound and uncumcised, therefore "welcome one another." Paul begins with the exhortation "accept one another", v7, explains the ground upon which the exhortation rests, v8-9a, supports this from scripture, v9b-12, and concludes with a wish-prayer, v13.
dio "-" - therefore. Drawing a logical conclusion / inferential; given the argument so far, the believers in Rome should .....
proslambanesqe (proslambanw) imp. "accept" - receive, welcome [one another]. "Accept each other fully", not just tolerate.
kaqwV "just as" - as. Comparative; believers should accept one another in the same way as Christ has accepted us, but possibly causal, "because", so Cranfield, Moo.
kai "-" - also [Christ received]. Adjunctive; "in the same way also Christ received us."
uJmaV "you" - Variant "us".
eiV "in order to bring" - to, into. The preposition here expresses purpose / end-view; "for God's glory." Is it the unity of believers or the union of the lost to God that brings him praise?
tou qeou (oV) gen. "[praise] to God" - the glory, praise [of God]. The intent of this genitive is unclear. The NIV has opted for a verbal genitive, objective, "praise to God"; "with every intention of honoring God", Junkins. Other possibilities are: verbal, subjective, "and as a result the glory of God will shine for all to see"; adjectival, possessive, "in order to display God's glory"; ablative, source/origin, "glory from God"; adverbial, reference, "glory with respect to God." Adjectival, possessive, seems best; "Christ received you (Gentiles) for God's glory", ie. "for the glory of his truth and his mercy", Lenski.
With particular reference to "the strong", Paul supports his exhortation in v7 by reminding his readers that Jesus was a Jewish Messiah fulfilling the promises given to the Patriarchs, and that given that the Gentiles have reaped the benefits of God's mercy toward his historic people, special consideration should be given to Jewish believers.
gar "for [I tell you]" - for [I say]. Here more reason / explanatory than cause, providing the theological basis for the exhortation "accept one another." "Let me explain: Christ became a servant to the circumcised ..... in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy", v8-9a.
gegenhsqai (ginomai) perf. pas. inf. "that [Christ] has become" - [Christ] to have become. Intensive perfect. Technically the infinitive forms a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing / stating what Paul tells his readers; "I tell you that ...." = "Let me explain ..."
diakonon (oV) "servant" - a servant. Christ has come to help/do good for.
peritomhV (h) gen. "of the Jews" - of the circumcision. The genitive is usually taken as verbal, objective, "a servant to the circumcised", ESV, but adjectival, possessive may be the intended sense such that Christ / the messiah belonged to the circumcised, not their property, but their special portion of divine mercy - "to the Jews first", as Paul often said. "The Jews" is the intended sense, although the lack of an article in the Gk. seems to indicate that not all Jews are in mind, ie., the messiah's ministry is for those of the circumcision / Jews who possess the faith of Abraham, ie. believing Jews.
uJper + gen. "on behalf of [God's truth]" - for. Expressing advantage / benefit; "for the sake of", although possibly representation, "on behalf of", as NIV, or even purpose, "to show", ESV, so Moo and Schreiner.
qeou (oV) gen. "God's [truth]" - [the truth] of God. The genitive is possibly ablative, expressing source / origin, "truth from God", but it is usually taken as verbal, subjective, although better adjectival, possessive, especially when "truth" is read with its Old Testament sense of "faithful"; "to show God is faithful" TEV, "to show God's truthfulness" RSV, ie. it is in his character to do what he says he will do.
eiV to bebaiwsai (bebaiow) inf. "to confirm" - to confirm, make firm, establish. This construction, the preposition eiV with the articular infinitive, usually forms a purpose clause, "in order to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs", but also sometimes a consecutive clause expressing result, "with the result that the promises made to the patriarchs were confirmed" = "so confirming the promises made to he patriarchs." This phrase introduces a clause that serves to illustrate God's faithfulness, "by making good his promises to the patriarchs", NEB, namely, the creation of a people of God through whom the whole world is blessed. "Guarantee", Jewett.
twn paterwn (hr roV) gen. "made to the patriarchs" - [the promises] of the patriarchs. The genitive is usually treated as verbal, oblective; "the promises given to the patriarchs", ESV.
The quotations, Ps.18:49 (poss. 2Sam.22:50), Deut.32:43, Ps.117:1, Isa.11:10. All illustrate that God always intended the Gentiles to be included with Israel to the glory and praise of his name.
Psalm 18:49. Paul has taken this as a messianic Psalm which promises a proclamation of praise among the Gentiles, in and through the messiah's evangelists (possibly the apostles).
Deuteronomy 32:43 is a summons that the Gentiles rejoice with God's people. Psalm 117:1, makes the same point.
Isaiah 11:10. This is a promise that the one who will rule the nations is the one in whom the Gentiles will find their hope, and he is a Jewish messiah, the shoot from the root of Jesse.
de "- / and, moreover" - but, and. The promise to Abraham was fulfilled in Christ for Israel, but also for the Gentiles who reap the benefits. Given this fact, the Gentile believers (the "strong") should give deference to the Jewish believers (the "weak").
doxasai (doxazw) aor. inf. "that [the Gentiles] might glorify [God]" - to glorify, extol, venerate. The infinitive as eiV to bebaiwsai, v8; "and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God", ESV. The accusative subject of the infinitive is ta eqnh, "the Gentiles."
uJper gen. "for [his mercy]" - Usually understood to express representation here, "on behalf of, for his mercy", but possibly used instead of peri, expressing reference / respect, "concerning, with reference to the mercy which was shown to them."
kaqwV gegraptai "as it is written" - A common phrase referencing the scriptures. The conjunction kaqwV introduces a comparison, while the perfect tense is used for the verb to express the firm and constant nature of scripture.
dia + acc. "therefore" - because of this. This causal construction usually takes an inferential sense, as NIV.
exomologhsomai (exomologew) fut. "I will praise" - I will give praise. Although the word normally means "confess", in the LXX it takes the sense "praise" when followed by a dative, as here.
soi dat. pro. "you" - to you. Dative of direct object after the verb "I will praise."
en + dat. "among [the Gentiles]" - in [Gentiles, peoples, nations]. Local, expressing space / sphere; distributive, "among."
tw/ onomati (a atoV) dat. "[I will sing praise] of [your] name" - [I will twang (play the harp, sing psalms)] to the name [of you]. Dative of indirect object / interest, advantage; "for God".
meta + gen. "with [his people]" - [and again he says. Rejoice Gentiles], with [the people of him]. Expressing association; "with his people", NASB
epainesatwsan (epainw) aor. imp. "sing praises" - [and again. Praise, all the Gentiles, the Lord and] let praise [him all the peoples]. Imperative of command.
tou Iessai gen. "[the root] of Jesse" - [and again Isaiah says, there will be the root] of Jesse. The genitive is adjectival, partitive, or looked at another way, relational. A "scion", in the sense of "a new shoot", is a better understanding of the word. "Descendent of Jesse", "a member of the family of Jesse."
oJ anistamenoV (anisthmi) pres. mid. part. "one who will arise" - [even] the one rising up. A rising up in the sense of appearing. The participle serves as a substantive, possibly passive, rather than middle; "the one raised up, brought into being" by God.
arcein (arcw) pres. inf. "to rule" - to rule over. Here the infinitive expresses purpose; "in order to rule."
eqnwn (oV) gen. "over the nations" - of Gentiles, nations. Genitive of direct object after the verb "to rule over."
ep (epi) + dat. "in [him]" - on him. Possibly causal / basis, "because of him / on the basis of him", but here local / space, for the object of the "hope", "in / on him"; "upon him shall the Gentiles rest their hope", Berkeley.
elpiousin (elpizw) fut. "will hope" - [Gentiles] will hope. Predictive future. The Gentiles will look with confidence toward him.
Paul expresses a desire for his readers to experience joy, peace and hope within the fellowship, rather than discord, and this through the power of the indwelling Spirit of Christ.
plhrwsai (plhrow) aor. opt. "May [the God of hope] fill [you]" - The optative expresses a wish, a wish-prayer, as NIV. The sense is "cause you to be fully happy".
thV elpidoV (iV idoV) gen. "of hope" - The genitive may be classified as adjectival, idiomatic / product, producer, or source / origin; "your hope", Moffatt; "source of hope", TEV.
caraV (a) gen. "with [all] joy [and peace]" - of [all] joy [and peace]. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / of content, "fill you full of all joy ...."
en tw/ pisteuein "as you trust in him" - in the believing. The NIV / TNIV has taken the preposition en as temporal and has supplied the object of the "believing", namely, "in him", cf., Moo. The preposition may well be instrumental, expressing means; "by means of your faith in him", so Wallace, or even causal, so Turner, "because you trust", NLT.
eiV to perisseuein (periseuw) pres. inf. "so that you may overflow" - [for you] to abound. This construction serves to introduce a final clause, expressing purpose, "in order that / so that", as NIV. The accusative subject of the infinitive is uJmaV, "you".
en + dat. "with [hope] by [the power of the holy Spirit]" - in [the hope] by [the power of the Holy Spirit]. It seems likely that the first use of the preposition expresses reference / respect, "with respect to", and that the second use expresses means; "so that you may abound with respect to hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."