“Wrestling With Romans”
No Independency Here – (Chapter 15 Verses 23-33)
However, Paul has one more job to do before he comes to them (vv25-29). However, it would be two years before he arrived in Rome, and in chains. The mother Church in Jerusalem was going through hard times and needed help (Galatians 2.10), therefore, the European and Asian Churches contributed to their needs (1Corinthians 16.1; 2Corinthians 8, 9). An act of Christian charity, which drew the Churches together in closer intimacy and unity. It’s not the act of giving, or the money, but the spiritual fellowship that’s the most important factor here. The opportunity for fellowship was presented to these people, and they took it. Church unity and fellowship doesn’t just happen. There are times and circumstances which make for such, but if we don’t look for, and avail ourselves of them, it will never happen. The unity of the Lord’s people is something that has to be worked at. You need the right spirit to start with (Romans 15.5). It means making every effort (Ephesians 4.3), it has to be reached for (Ephesians 4.13), love has to be put on (Colossians 3.14), which bears all things (1Corinthians 13.4-8), yes, even the failings of others (Romans 15.1). You cannot justify independency from the New Testament. There isn’t so much as a sniff of it.
There is an important principle of debt brought out here (v27). The Jerusalem Church was the matrix of the gospel which had blessed the Gentiles so much, and now they had fallen on hard times, an opportunity to repay something of the benefit arose. We too, to those who have been of spiritual benefit to us in the past, are indebted, and we must never forget it. There are Sunday School teachers, parents, perhaps former ministers, evangelists, or friends who have instructed us, or prayed for us, and maybe in many other ways been a spiritual blessing to us. Someone perhaps who at just the right time gave us a word of encouragement that kept us from falling, or a word of rebuke even, no, we didn’t like it at the time, but later it worked the fruit of righteousness in us. Have we expressed our gratitude to them, and to the Lord? I think it is so important, especially in the selfish ethos of our own day. The one fellowship deserves the other. This is a task the Apostle to the Gentiles feels he can’t delegate (v28), this fruit he wants to deliver personally, then it’s ‘viva la Spain’ here I come! The Apostle did, with Christ’s blessing come to Rome (v29), it was the subject of prophecy (Acts 23.11), in order to minister to them. But then any venture is fruitless unless the Lord’s blessing’s upon it, isn’t it (Psalm 127.1)? You cannot justify independency from the New Testament. There isn’t so much as a sniff of it.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)