The Good News Is for Jews
7Honor God by accepting each other, as Christ has accepted you. 8I tell you that Christ came as a servant of the Jews to show that God has kept the promises he made to their famous ancestors. Christ also came, 9 so that the Gentiles would praise God for being kind to them. It is just as the Scriptures say,
“I will tell the nations
and I will sing praises
to your name.”
10 The Scriptures also say to the Gentiles, “Come and celebrate with God's people.”
11 Again the Scriptures say,
“Praise the Lord,
all you Gentiles.
All you nations, come
and worship him.”
12 Isaiah says,
“Someone from David's family
will come to power.
He will rule the nations,
and they will put their hope
13I pray that God, who gives hope, will bless you with complete happiness and peace because of your faith. And may the power of the Holy Spirit fill you with hope.
Paul ends his plea for unity by bringing the people in the church at Rome to the Father. Paul quite naturally and easily slips into prayer. He could have ended the section with an appeal to his authority, but instead he simply and beautifully invites us into the presence of God, as if to say, “Okay, we’ve talked about important things. Now, Father, impress into our souls what is true and help us to live in these truths.”
This is a good lesson for us: that we would naturally and easily slip into prayer with our friends. Paul prays to the “God of hope.” What’s hope? It is living in the knowledge of what God will do. We are both already loved and accepted by God AND we are for eternity!
Paul’s prayer is that the God of hope would “fill” us with “joy and peace.” “Joy” is a major theme for Paul in his writings. He speaks of joy 21 times! For Paul, joy is bigger than happiness. Happiness is circumstantial (I’m happy because it is sunny out), whereas joy is deeper and doesn’t depend on sunny days. Peace is the inward quiet that God gives us. Both joy and peace come as a result of the Holy Spirit “pouring into”, “stirring”, “filling”, “empowering” his children (all Bible words describing Holy Spirit’s activity in us).
Paul’s prayer is that we would know more and more the depth of opportunity and experience of the “power of the Holy Spirit.” (I wonder what “Christianity” is or looks like to those who don’t see this dynamic relationship? It looks like something much less, boring, and even dangerous. It’s religion. In the name of religion Christians have fought wars, imprisoned people, devastated cultures, turned young people away from God… )
Paul does not offer an argument at the end of this section but an opportunity: “Let me walk you into his presence, and ask him to fill you to overflow!”
Oh God of hope fill me up with joy, fill me up with peace, so that my believing life is filled with the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit, brimming over with hope! (Romans 15:13, adapted from The Message).