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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Romans 15:14 – Mutual encouragement

If we go into bookshops, including Christian bookshops, we will find a large section devoted to leadership, a reminder that there is an interest in having good leaders and of the need of suitable guidelines about what makes a good leader. Among the books on sale, there are biographies that identify the leadership techniques of successful people. No doubt there are many helpful lessons that people with aspirations can implement in their own areas of life.
The Bible contains biographies of God’s leaders and what the methods were that they employed. An individual whose leadership methods are frequently mentioned is the apostle Paul, sometimes given by others and at other times given by himself. One of those autobiographical accounts is this section from Romans 15 and in it we find an example of what we can call Paul’s principles of leadership. No doubt, there are only a few of his principles here, so we would need to look elsewhere to find others that are mentioned. We can think about one of them today
The first principle mentioned here is that Paul took steps to find out what marked those he was writing to. He did so because he wanted to encourage and edify those he wanted to help (v. 14). From somewhere, he had received the information that the members of the church in Rome were good to one another, that they had grasped the details of the Christian faith, and that they engaged in instructing one another.
Some might say that Paul may have assumed that they were so spiritual because all Christians should be like that. Yet Paul had known disappointments in churches, so it is unlikely that he would have assumed anything about those to whom he was writing. He may have learned about them through his friends Priscilla and Aquila, who were now back in Rome (16:3). The report indicated something unusual about the church members there, which is that the Christians in Rome were all teachers and they were all learners. None of them opted out from this vital ministry of mutual edification. After all, what do you expect Christians to speak about apart from the Christian faith? And Paul wanted to encourage them to continue.

Having given that commendation of them he then told them to become better at it because he knew that some points – the items he had dealt with in his letter – were never to be forgotten. He wanted each of them to become a better believer so that each of them could encourage one another to be better believers. Paul wrote Romans so that believers would become more competent in sharing the doctrines of their faith. So we can picture the believers in Rome speaking about the issues he raised in his letter, and we can remind ourselves of them. After all, the Spirit when he guided Paul to make this comment had more than the original readers in mind.

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