World English Bible translation
15:8Now I say that Christ has been made a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, that he might confirm the promises given to the fathers, 15:9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
"Therefore will I give praise to you among the Gentiles,
And sing to your name."
15:10Again he says,
"Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people."
"Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles!
Let all the peoples praise him."
15:12Again, Isaiah says,
"There will be the root of Jesse,
He who arises to rule over the Gentiles;
On him will the Gentiles hope."
15:13Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul had spoken in these two chapters to those that he had called the "weak" and the "strong." When he wrote to the "strong" he told them that they should bear the reproach of the weak and not allow food and drink to keep their "weak" brothers from participating in Christ. He repeated that the purpose of Christian living was that God was bringing together all brothers and sisters in Christ into the unity of God.
The subject of unity leads Paul into Today's Scripture that concerns the prophecies that God would redeem the Gentiles along with the nation of Israel. Many have seen the discussion of the "strong" and the "weak" in terms of the Gentile believers who followed Paul being the strong and the Jewish believers that followed the traditions of the Jerusalem church as being the weak. Some of those assumptions are based on this passage and its proximity with the discussion of the strong and the weak brethren. But, I think today's passage is more Paul's comment on the unity of God that Christ was bringing than on who the strong and the weak are.
Paul had just told his readers in verse 4 that the scriptures "were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the scriptures we might have hope." So, he gives them examples of just what he was speaking of in verse 4. The scriptures foretold that God would redeem the Gentiles. The Gentiles would praise God's name along with the children of Israel. Significantly, there was a prophecy that from the root of Jesse would come one that would rule over the Gentiles and bring hope.
Paul is, towards the end of this epistle wanting to leave his readers with a vision of hope. God is "the God of hope" and Paul prays that they may "abound in hope." Paul writes about hope more than any other writer in scripture does. Paul saw that hope was necessary and that it was one of the most important gifts that God gives to His children. Without hope we are lost. Without hope, man will slowly sink into despair.
But God brings hope because God promises a new life of re-creation. God can bring the dead to life and bring hope to the hopeless. So God has, in Christ, brought hope to the Gentiles. Through Christ, God has reached out to a people who were not called "His people." Christ brings these new sheep into the pasture with the flock of God and unites them under His leadership. In Christ we are brought into the family of God.
The scriptures spoke of it. God had brought it about and was revealing it through the church. This was Paul's message to the sons of Israel. What God has promised to accomplish one day through the Gentiles was even then coming to pass. The new covenant of God's grace and mercy that had been prophesied was coming to pass in their own lifetimes.
God's scriptures are for our instruction and edification. Are you ready to hear the words of God? Will you receive the God of hope into your heart?
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