The Epistle to the Romans
Lesson Number 45
ASV=American Standard Version, BBE=Bible in Basic English, DRA=Douay-Rheims KJV=King James Version, NKJV=New
King James Version; , NAB=New American Bible, NASB=New American Standard Bible, NAU=New American Standard Bible 1995, NIB=New
International Bible, NIV=New International Version, NJB=New Jerusalem Bible, NLT=New Living Translation, NRSV=New Revised Standard Version,
RSV=Revised Standard Version, YLT-Young’s Literal Translation.
BEARING ONE ANOTHER’S BURDENS
15:1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak,
and not to please ourselves. 2 Let every one of us please his neighbour
for his good to edification. 3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as
it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. 4
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our
learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might
have hope. 5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be
likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may
with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ. NKJV (Romans 15:1-6)
There are some acclaimed scholars who question that the last two chapters of Romans are actually a legitimate
part of the book. Arguing from the absence of these chapters from certain manuscripts, they conclude it is an addition
to the Apostle’s writing. While the arguments, unworthy of mention here, may appear to be weighty, there really is
no need to consider them. There is nothing in chapters fifteen and sixteen that conflict with the teaching of the first
fourteen chapters, or detract from their power and usefulness. In fact, as I will show, they are a very reasonable
extension of the teaching. Because I find it exceedingly difficult to believe such profitability can be mere coincidence,
I will proceed with the firm conviction that these are nothing less that the words of the Holy Spirit. There is no need
to prove that this is the case, if the purpose of the Spirit is obviously served.
How does a perceptive person address the church – the people of God? What should they be doing? What type
of encouragement is given to them in order to facilitate the doing of these things? It should not surprise you that
inspired words written to the churches are consistent in their thrust. There is no deviation from Apostolic emphasis.
The alarming thing is that it does not accord with the messages to which countless thousands of believers are
regularly subjected. For some, evangelism is the primary theme. For others, the family is the center of attention. Still
others hear regularly about the church itself, a supposed pattern that is seen of it in Scripture, and who has the
authority within its ranks. Some just go through the Bible in an academic manner with no real emphasis at all. What
approach does the Holy Spirit take?
There are, of course, sundry instructions, rebukes, and corrections in the Epistles. There is, however, a general
direction in which all words to believers are pointed.
The following is not intended to be an exhaustive listing, but only a representation of the nature of Apostolic
writings – how they were directed to speak to those who are in Christ Jesus. These statements represent the thrust
of their teaching. At no point are these subjects approached as theological novelties, areas where there
is room for opinion, or matters that are optional.
□ Christ’s role in salvation.
The appointed means through which men are reconciled to God, sustained in their
quest for glory, and directed in involvement with God, is clearly declared to be Jesus Christ (Rom 3:22-24; 8:31-34;
1 Cor 5:7; 15:3; Gal 1:4; Eph 1:7; 2:13-15; Col 1:14; 1 Thess 1:10; Tit 2:14; Heb 2:10-18; 1 Pet 1:2,18-19; 1 John
1:7; 2:2; 3:16).
□ The Lord’s return. Preparation for the return of the Lord is fundamental to sound teaching. The proclamation
of Christ’s second appearing, together with a strong summons to be ready for it, are found throughout writings
to the churches (1 Cor 1:7-8; Phil 3:20-21; Col 3:4; 1 Thess 1:10; 4:15-17; 5:23; 2 Thess 1:7-10; 1 Tim 6:14; Tit
2:13; James 5:7-9; 1 Pet 5:4; 2 Pet 3:3-10; 1 John 2:28; 3:1-3).
□ Living by faith. Life itself is to be lived by faith. Faith must be strong, fought for, and nourished by the good
Word of the Lord (Rom 1:17; 3:22; 5:1; 2 Cor 1:24; 5:7; Gal 3:11,22; Eph 3:17; Phil 3:9; Heb 10:38-39).
□ Our adversary. From the standpoint of our adversary, we are urged to arm ourselves, be vigilant, and put on the
whole armor of God. There is a constant note of warning about Satan, as well as the surety he can be resisted in
faith (1 Cor 16:13; 2 Cor 2:11; 6:14-18; Eph 6:10-18; 1 Thess 3:5; 1 Pet 4:1; 5:8-9; James 4:7).
□ The day of judgment. The appointment and surety of the day of judgment is consistently held before the saints.
They are strongly urged to live in view of that day, zealously preparing for it (Rom 2:5-12; 1 Cor 3:13; ; 4:5; 2 Cor
5:10; 2 Thess 1:7-8; 2 Tim 4:1,8; Heb 9:27; 1 Pet 4:5-7; 2 Pet 2:9; 1 Pet 4:17; Jude 24).
STRENGTHENING THE CHURCH
Although it is commonly taught that the primary purpose of the church is to reach the lost, this is nowhere
stated or suggested in the “Apostles’ doctrine.” This traditional emphasis is so strong, that it is considered heresy to
emphasize anything else. It is not unusual to find churches judged to be successful or unsuccessful purely upon the
basis of the number of converts they garner.
Let it be clear, I am speaking here of an emphasis, not of the work of preaching the Gospel to every creature.
Jesus came to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), thereby sanctifying that activity. However, the
burden of His ministry, and the great teaching He gave, was not in the market place or the houses of publicans and
harlots. His teachings were primarily directed toward His disciples and those who went to the synagogues (Matt 4:23;
5:1; 9:35; 13:10ff; Mark 1:39; 9:31; Luke 4:15). Although He taught the people and the multitudes, He declared those
who did the will of His Father were his “brother, and sister, and mother” (Matt 12:49-50). His focus was on believers.
Whenever a believer or believers were encountered, our Lord always focused upon them. The only preference He had
over them was fellowship with the Father Himself. I know of no exceptions to this rule.
This inclination is confirmed by what He did following His ascension to, and enthronement in, heaven.
Scripture says is this way. “Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts
unto men . . . And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and
teachers” (Eph 4:8-11). And what was the purpose of these marvelous and indispensable “gifts”? The answer provides
the focus of Divine power, and the emphasis behind Divine workings. “For the perfecting of the saints, for the
work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph 4:12).
Confirming this accentuation, the Father Himself is said to pay special attention to the righteous. “The eyes
of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry” (Psa 34:15; 1 Pet 3:12). Additionally, Jesus
“ever lives to make intercession” exclusively for those who are coming to the father through Him (Heb 7:25). The Holy
Spirit is given to them in order to assist and empower their service in the Kingdom, and preparation for the world
to come (Ron 8:13-14,26; Gal 4;6). Additionally, the vast multitude of holy angels are charged with ministering to
those who are the heirs of salvation (Heb 1:13-14). “All Scripture” has been inspired of God in order that “the man
of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17). There can, then, be no deficiency
These people – the saints of God – are the only people on the face of the earth who have an inheritance in
heaven (1 Pet 1:4). They alone have access to God through faith (Eph 2:18), are upheld by His grace (1 Cor 15:10;
Rom 5:2), and are privileged to be called “the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). They stand unique among all peoples, being
“a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation,” and a “peculiar people” (1 Pet 2:9).
THE RELEVANCE OF THESE THINGS
These observations are highly relevant to our text. They lay a firm foundation for the necessity of edifying the
people of God. The fourteenth chapter urged a godly consideration of one another. War must be made upon dissension,
argumentation, and discussions that are disputational in nature. Despising, or looking down upon the people of God
is strictly forbidden. This is more than a mere law, to be fulfilled begrudgingly.
We will find that the purpose is to edify one another, and disputation and despising conflict with that purpose.
Both tend to tear down rather than build up, and are thus strictly forbidden. Believers are brought into the very work
of God and Christ – nourishing and caring for the church (Eph 5:29).
As we will see from our text, the edification of one another is not simply a noble option. It is an absolute
requirement. The nature of our salvation demands it. Our presence in a world dominated by the devil necessitates
it, as your walk of faith will confirm.
A WORK FOR THE STRONG
“ 15:1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please
ourselves.” This is the only reasonable conclusion to what has been said in the fourteenth chapter. A brief synopsis
of that chapter follows. It will serve to set the stage for the considerations of this chapter.
□ Those whose faith is yet infantile, or “weak,” are to be received, but not in the climate of disputation (14:1).
□ The “strong” are not to despise those whose faith does not allow them to do what God really allows (14:2).
□ The person who adheres to strict, yet unrequired, laws, is not to judge those who do not subscribe to those laws
□ We are not allowed to judge those whose faith moves them to conscientiously serve God (14:4a).
□ God is able to make the believer stand (14:4b).
□ Each believer is to be “fully persuaded” of the propriety of what they do (14:5.
□ None of us live or die in isolation of others (14:7).
□ We are the Lord’s in both life and death (14:8).
□ Christ died, arose, and lives again in order to be over both the living and the dead (14:9).
□ We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ (14:10).
□ We will all bow the knee to Christ and confess to God (14:11).
□ We will all give an account of ourselves to God (14:12).
□ In view of this, judging one another is strictly forbidden (14:13a).
□ Care must be taken not to make it more difficult for those who are living by faith (14:13b).
□ The acceptability of certain things which are allowed, but not required, by God, is determined by the perception
of the individual (14:14).
□ If what we do, although right of itself, hurts our brother, we have ceased to walk according to love (14:15).
□ The Kingdom of God does not consist of foods and procedures, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy
□ Those who serve Christ with righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit are received by God and approved of men
□ We are to aggressively seek to give our brethren the advantage in life by engaging in things that contribute to
a peaceful environment and building up the saints (14:19).
□ It is good not to do anything that causes our brethren to stumble, or live in contradiction of their conscience
□ Faith is to be held personally, and often privately. There is no need to bind personal perceptions on others who
cannot comprehend the sense of them (14:21-22).
□ God will only receive from us what proceeds from our faith (14:23).
WE THEN THAT ARE STRONG
“We then that are strong . . . ” This is strength in fath, not mere moral strength, or those with firm
persuasions. There is something important to be seen in this expression. The norm for the Kingdom is “strong” faith,
not “weak” faith. By saying “WE that are strong,” Paul shows that the aim is to be strong, not weak. Such words are
not to be taken as representative of only a few superior brethren, but as the Kingdom standard. Here is an expression
of life that is lived in “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
The notion that those who are “strong” are unusual and few in number ought not to be entertained. Our
father Abraham, the standard for believers, is said to have been “strong in faith, giving glory to God” (4:20). Those
who are not strong are to make it their business to become strong in the faith, that they too may give appropriate
glory to God. Who is willing to contend that anything about salvation contributes to weakness in the faith? Everything
that is supplied to us makes for the development of a strong faith. Weakness is consistently associated with beginnings
and spiritual juvenility. At the very best, it is related to being young in Christ, and under no conditions is that
circumstance to remain.
Being “strong” is, in fact, knowing the mind of the Lord. It is having a Divine perspective of things, or being
able to see things as they really are. It is the peculiar prerogative of faith to clarify spiritual issues that are otherwise
mysterious and unknowable. Hence, those who are “strong” are those who see more clearly and know more
thoroughly. That this is not unusual is seen in the fact that such clarity and knowledge is available to all who are in
Christ Jesus (Eph 1:15-10; Col 1:9-11; 2 Tim 2:7).
BEARING THE INFIRMITIES OF THE WEAK
“ . . . ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.” Other versions read, “ought to bear with the scruples of the
weak,” NKJV “ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength,” NASB “ought to bear with the failings of the
weak.” NIV Notice how a deficiency in spiritual understanding is described: “infirmity,” “scruples,” “weakness,” and
It is not unusual to find professed believers considering weakness in the faith, or the inability to take hold of
the things of God, as inconsequential. It will prove challenging, indeed, to find a “church” where those who cannot
grasp the things of God are considered “weak.” In fact, much of the Christianity of our day actually fosters spiritual
weakness. That is why it is so common. But this does not represent the “mind of the Spirit” (Rom 8:27)! Nor, indeed,
is it the trait of “the mind controlled by the Spirit” NIV (Rom 8:6).
Here is a condition that requires special instruction for the whole church. Being “weak in faith”
necessitated exhortations to both the weak and the strong. How can such a condition, therefore, be viewed as
picayune, or unworthy of extensive teaching and exhortation? What person with “spiritual understanding” Col 1:9)
would allow for the presence of such a state to go unchallenged? Being “weak in the faith” is a circumstance that must
be addressed. Special care must be taken to bring those in such a condition to stronger faith. Additionally, those who
are strong must be reminded to give special attention to such people. Anything requiring such extensive care is not
normal, and must not be treated as though it was.
Now, a special word is addressed to the strong concerning the matter. Their lives are impacted by the
weakness of other brethren. They cannot simply ignore it, but must adjust their lives to patiently await the further
development of their weaker brethren, and that without despising or looking down upon them. They are to “bear the
infirmities of the weak.” Remember, “the weak” refers to those who are wholeheartedly serving the Lord,
but are doing so with infirm understanding. This is not a summons for those who see clearly to be tolerant of
carnal-mindedness and indulgence in iniquity. God does not tolerate carnal mindedness, and neither can we.
The stronger are not merely to tolerate those with the infirmity or weakness of immature faith. Nor, indeed,
are they to ignore it as though it did not exist. It is a serious condition because of where it leads. While it is
true that a fervent desire to serve and please the Lord can often be accompanied by infirm understanding, that
condition is not intended to be a permanent one. There is not one particle of virtue in it.
Here, bearing the infirmities of the weak means to “bear with,” or be patient and “forbearing one another with
love” (Eph 4:2). In this way, the burden of spiritual ignorance upon the weak will be greatly alleviated. In this
instruction, we see that “weak faith” constitutes a burden for the one in that condition. It is more difficult to live
for the Lord, resist the devil, and grow in grace and truth in such a circumstance. Spiritual life cannot
easily be sustained in a state of juvenility and a lack of “spiritual understanding.” Such a condition, while initially
common to those coming into Christ, is not intended to be a permanent one.
You will find that anything that is temporary, whether the things of this world, or a state of
spiritual immaturity, consistently introduces danger and jeopardy. One way to offset that danger and
encourage spiritual growth, is to be considerate of such brethren, not imposing upon them unreasonable demands,
or viewing them as being inferior. “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.”
Another thing to see here is that a profound love for and consideration of the brethren actually
promotes growth in Christ. Such mindfulness produces an environment in which greater understanding can be
developed. It also makes spiritual immaturity more perceptible to those possessing it.
This form of reasoning contradicts the reasoning of the flesh. Flesh reasons that those with rudimentary
understanding must be straightened out. It does not consider that a person can live “unto the Lord,” even though
their view of Him and His great salvation is elementary. Let it clear, a juvenile state is not an enviable one. Yet, the
secret to advancing beyond it is not found in harsh and hasty demands. Nor, indeed, will spiritual progress be made
if the weaker brethren are despised and ignored.
Bearing the infirmities of the “weak” is something that faith is calculated to accomplish. It is, fuirthermore,
well suited for such an assignment. Faith both equips and strengthens the believer to do God‘s will.
By bearing with
the weak, the strong will not become weaker, but the weak will become stronger.
NOT PLEASING OURSELVES
“ . . . and not to please ourselves.” Here, to “please ourselves” means to cater to our own views, without
any regard to how they are viewed by others. It means to be determined to take delight in our own preferences, even
if it causes our brethren to be offended or made weak.
In Christ, a selfish or self-centered life is strictly forbidden. Christ has delivered us from a world that
is bounded by its own preferences and perceptions. Faith does not live purely for self, but for the Lord, and
with a mind to bringing advantages, not disadvantages, to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
In this particular text, pleasing self would involve refusing to forgo the freedom to eat meat, even though it
meant pressuring a weaker brother to eat meat in violation of his own conscience. The standard of our conduct is not
our own happiness, however desirous that may be. It is more noble to seek the welfare and advantage of others. As
it is written, love “seeketh not her own” (1 Cor 13:5). And again, “Look not every man on his own things, but every
man also on the things of others” (Phil 2:4). While it may appear on the surface that this will bring great
disadvantages and frustration to us, we will find this is not at all the case. We are always the better for doing this.
PLEASING AND EDIFICATION
“ 2 Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.” There is a common objective
in salvation – one that applies to the entire body of Christ. The perception of this objective provides the proper
incentive to effectively address special areas of concern – like the one presently being considered: i.e., the reaction of
the strong to those who are weak in the faith. It is a Kingdom principle that details are best handled within the
greater framework of Divine purpose. It is imperative to see that we are not simply to fulfill special rules
for special occasions. Rather, instruction concerning particular details are always given in view of
spiritual principles that apply to all situations. We have an excellent example of this in the verse before us.
EVERY ONE OF US
“Let every one of us . . . ” There is a danger in directing teaching to only a segment of the body of Christ. It
certainly is not unlawful to do so, for this is often found in Scripture. A few examples will suffice to illustrate this
□ “Let him that stole steal no more” (Eph 4:28).
□ “Husbands, love your wives” (Eph 5:25).
□ “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands” (Eph 5:22).
□ “Children, obey your parents in the Lord” (Eph 6:1).
□ “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal” (Col 4:1).
□ “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh” (Eph 6:5).
□ “I say therefore to the unmarried and widows” (1 Cor 7:8).
□ “Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded” (Tit 2:6).
□ “I will therefore that the younger women marry” (1 Tim 5:14).
□ “The elders which are among you I exhort” (1 Pet 5:1).
Teaching regarding these special groups is certainly to be heeded, and never to be despised. However, it is
never the central theme of Scripture, nor is such teaching extensive. Those who are familiar with Scripture know that
words addressed to special people are always couched within the setting of such things as redemption,
the judgment, the coming of the Lord, etc. They are never an end of themselves. There is such a
remarkable consistency in this that it will become apparent to those who are pure in heart.
This principle contributes to the profitability of all Scripture. There is no book of the Bible written, for
example, to husbands, wives, children, elders, or widows. If it is countered that First and Second Timothy and Titus
were written to young men, it must also be remembered that they were written in such a manner as to edify the entire
body. What older person, young woman, or husband has not profited exceedingly from these books?
The point is that teaching addressed to special individuals, or to special occasions, obtains
power only within the framework of universal responsibilities. This is exemplified in this text.
With great care, the Spirit shows us that Divine direction is not merely for a part of the body of Christ. In
salvation, no place has been made for spectators. It is never in order for members of Christ’s body to listen as though
they were excluded from the instruction. Here, after addressing the “strong” and those “weak in the faith,” the Spirit
turns to the whole household of faith and says, “Let every one of us!” What He will now declare reveals that the
instruction given to the strong and the weak is their way of fulfilling the lofty principle to be put before us. That
principle is something to be fulfilled by “every one of us.”
This principle had eluded “the strong,” who tended to despise the weak. It had also escaped those whose
conscience was “weak,” who sought to impose their unenlightened opinions upon others.
What is being said to
them is in the interest of fulfilling this greater principle, which has nothing whatsoever to do with
special people or circumstances.
PLEASE HIS NEIGHBOR
“ . . . please his neighbor . . . ” All major versions use the word “please.” This word means to accommodate
ourselves to the interests and welfare of others. It is the positive way of not placing a stumbling block before our
brethren, or causing them to be offended. This is involved in being “approved of men” (14:18). It means that our
conduct is perceived by the people of God as proper, and not in contradiction of His will.
This is not being a pleaser of men. As Paul wrote, “for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of
Christ” (Gal 1:10). We are emphatically exhorted to avoid being “men pleasers” (Eph 6:6; Col 3:22). The difference
in pleasing our neighbor and not being a pleaser of men is found in the objective.
Men pleasers have no other purpose that to lessen opposition against themselves. They seek comfort for the
flesh, and are not thinking of serving God. Such are self-centered with considerations that extend no further than
their personal and temporal interests.
Those who please their neighbor
have the purpose of God in mind, and seek to avoid causing His people
to stumble. Their aim is to help their neighbor, not enhance their own reputation and circumstance.
In this text, our “neighbor” refers to other members of the body of Christ. They are not our only neighbors,
but our most immediate and relevant ones. As it is written, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto
all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal 6:10). Because “we are members one
of another” (Eph 4:25), we have obligations to one another. Our text is urging us to live in view of those
I cannot leave this section without once again drawing your attention to the blight of religious institutionalism
and sectarianism. In the wake of an emphasis upon the institution, the personal desire to edify one another is lost.
In such a setting you will rarely find one person seeking to build up the faith of another, or bring
eternal advantages to them. Men have led us to believe the preservation of the organization is the main thing.
Our text informs us that the building up of one another is fundamental. This represents a significant departure from
the thrust of contemporary Christianity. I am not intending to be a mere reactionary in making these remarks. The
fruit produced by institutionalism confirms the truth of what I say.
GOOD TO EDIFICATION
“ . . . for his good to edification.” Other versions read, “for his good, leading to edification,” NKJV “for his good,
to build him up,” NIV “for the good purpose of building up the neighbor,” NRSV “for his good, to make him strong.” BBE
“with a view to what is good, to edification.”
The ultimate “good” that can be brought to brothers and sisters is to assist them to be strong in the Lord.
There will come times when we must minister to their temporal needs, and other practical helps. However, even in
those things, the primary purpose is to build them up in the most holy faith. Our aim is to contribute to their spiritual
maturity and readiness to stand before the Lord. Anything that does not build up the believer, making him stronger
and more stable, is not “good” in the sense of this text. Something that complicates spiritual growth, or makes it
unlikely, is evil, and is to be avoided.
Ordinarily, edification does not take place unintentionally. I understand that there are times when words and
actions especially minister to people to whom they were not specifically directed. Yet, even then, the purpose of such
words and deeds was to bring honor to the Lord. However, we are not to rely on our brethren being helped
by unintentional activities. We must make it our aim, or objective, to build up the people of God. Our
attention is to be shifted from self to those for whom Christ died, and for whom He presently intercedes (Heb 7:25).
We are to join the holy angels in ministering to those who are the heirs of salvation (Heb 1:13-14). We are to
participate with the Holy Spirit in changing the saved “from glory unto glory” (2 Cor 3:18). If Jesus, the holy
angels, and the Holy Spirit are engaged in benefitting God’s people, what possible reason can be
adduced for us failing to do so? Let your words and deeds lead to edification.
CHRIST DID NOT PLEASE HIMSELF
“ 3 For even Christ pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that
reproached thee fell on Me.” All “sound doctrine” finds its ultimate demonstration in the Lord Jesus Christ. You
might say doctrine is enfleshed in Christ: i.e., “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14). As “the Truth,” Jesus lived out
what the Apostles and Prophets taught. We have a most excellent example of this in this text.
EVEN CHRIST PLEASED NOT HIMSELF
“For even Christ pleased not Himself . . . ” Other translations read, “For Christ did not give pleasure to
Himself,” BBE and “Christ did not indulge His own feelings, either.” NJB One of the hallmarks of our salvation is that
it required Jesus to “empty Himself,” or make Himself “of no reputation” (Phil 2:7). When found in the crucible of
unspeakable suffering, He cried out, “not My will, but Thine, be done” (Lk 22:42). As He ministered among men He
confessed, “I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me” (John 5:30). And again, “And
I seek not Mine own glory” (John 8:50). With great power He said, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me,
and to finish His work” (John 4:34). Again He said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the
will of Him that sent Me” (John 6:38).
Jesus did not seek His own ease, but the will of God, which was to “save the world” (John 12:47). He did not seek
His own comfort, but chose a path wherein He had no place to “lay His head,” in order that He might accomplish the
will of God (Matt 8:20). He was the ultimate “Servant,” and a servant does not seek His own will, but the will of His
From an earthly point of view, if anyone had a right to live for Himself, it was the Lord Jesus Christ. He “did no
sin, neither was guile found in His mouth” (1 Pet 2:22). While among men, He was, in fact, “above all” (John 3:31).
Yet Jesus did not live for Himself. It must be noted that the life of Jesus cannot be lived with purely selfish
interests – and this is the life that we have received and is “made manifest in” our “body” (2 Cor 4:10-11)!
Therefore, a lack of consideration for those who are in Christ Jesus reveals a lack of Jesus Himself.
AS IT IS WRITTEN
“ . . . but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me.” Other versions read, “The
insults of those who insult You have fallen on Me,” NIV “the bitter words of those who were angry with You came on
Me.” BBE This is a quotation of Psalm 69:9. It is also referenced in Psalm 89:50-51, where the impact of bearing such
reproach is mentioned. “Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants; how I do bear in my bosom the reproach
of all the mighty people; wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O LORD; wherewith they have reproached
the footsteps of thine anointed.” He who knew God the most suffered the most!
Jesus Himself revealed the relevance of this to His disciples. “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his
Master, and the servant as his Lord. If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they
call them of His household?” (Matt 10:25).
There is a twofold sense in which the reproaches of those who reproached God fell upon Christ. First, the
people actually spoke against the Lord Jesus Himself, and that because of His identity with the Father. Second, Jesus
was so united with the Father, that He took personally words that were spoken against the Lord. He felt the weight
of the words spoken against the Father. Such a thing would not have been possible if Jesus lived to “please Himself.”
Self pleasing deadens the soul, so it cannot feel the words spoken against the Lord. The one who lives
for self is blissfully unaware of the blasphemies and offences that are all about them. They are only interested in how
men speak of them, having no regard for those opposing God.
The reasoning here is this: those who are in Christ Jesus should not balk when they are asked to
follow the footsteps of their Lord. If Jesus was willing to forfeit His own interests in order to bear the vicious
scoffing of men, cannot we forfeit our interests in order to strengthen our brethren? Indeed, ours is the lesser work,
into which we ought to joyfully enter!
It should be apparent that people who court the favor of those who speak against the Lord are most
unchristlike. Jesus said, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you!” (Lk 6:26). How serious a transgression
it is, therefore, to shape our lives so as to gain favor from them. To do such is to
A PRINCIPLE OF TEACHING
There is a principle of teaching here that is worthy of notation. Contemporary teachers of homiletics, or the
art of preaching, are fond of saying teachers ought to use many illustrations. I have often heard such men upbraid
young preachers because they did not lace their lessons with illustrations from contemporary life and humorous
anecdotes. Their suggestions must be put aside in favor of the Word of God, which sets the Divinely sanctioned
manner of teaching before us. They are the mere prattling of novices and the uninformed.
As in this text, the loftiest example and illustration is the Lord Jesus Himself. The truth of God has been lived
out in Him, and He provides the best and most pungent illustration of that truth. When, therefore, you want to show
people how the truth is to be applied, point to Jesus. All valid doctrine will find expression in Him. If you cannot
find a proper illustration in Jesus, what you are teaching cannot be fundamental. At the very best, you
are dealing with things tangential. You should make it your business not to spent long in such teaching, even if it is
Secondly, illustrations can be found among the great persons of Scripture. From Moses and the Prophets:
Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, etc. From the Apostle’s doctrine: the woman at the well,
Nicodemus, Stephen, Philip, Paul, Peter, Timothy, Titus, and others. In these people the effects of the truth are
Thirdly, the great events of Scripture provide an example of Divine workings and purpose. From Moses and the
Prophets: the fall of man, the flood, the tower of Babel, the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, the taking of Canaan,
the Babylonian captivity, Nebuchadnezzar, etc. From the Apostles doctrine: the day of Pentecost, the conversions
in the book of Acts, the persecution of the early church, the situations in various churches that required correction,
There is a wealth of Divinely orchestrated illustrations in the Scriptures, and they are to be used. The proper
use of these people and occasions will provide an accurate portrayal of the outworking of truth. It will also produce
a working acquaintance with the Word of God that is indispensable to living soberly and godly in this present world.
The relevance of these observations will be confirmed in the following verse. The Scriptures have been
deliberately written in order to give the people of God the advantage in life. Nothing has been left to happenstance,
or in the total power of men.
THINGS WRITTEN BEFOREHAND
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through
patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”
Paul is showing us the relevance of siting a verse from Psalms to confirm we are not to please ourselves.
Contextual advocates do not know how to use the Scriptures in this fashion. They are fond of speaking of “the
author’s intended meaning,” historical backgrounds, and cultural nuances that, they say, shape the meaning of
Scripture. What will such teachers do with Paul, who reaches back nearly eight hundred years, extracts an expression
from the Psalmist, applies it to Jesus, and thereby justifies the teaching that we are not to please ourselves. I do not
mean to ride this subject like a hobby-horse, but such approaches to Scripture have greatly harmed the body of Christ.
They simply do not edify.
This is one of the great defining verses of Scripture, and therefore is of unusual importance. The perception
of the truth it reveals will shed light on many things. It nails into our conscience a sense of what Scripture is all about.
It also explodes the myths created by men concerning the integrity of Scripture.
Creating Doubt Concerning Scripture
Those who throw the shroud of doubt upon Scripture by speaking of various original texts, more reliable texts,
and even textual corruption, are a great hindrance to the body of Christ. They would have us believe that only those
who know “the original language” can understand the Word of God – which saying is a totally false. Jesus did not
speak in this manner of Moses and the Prophets, writings that had been translated and copied numerous times. You
will never find Jesus causing people to doubt Scripture, or question its integrity. Nor, indeed, did any of the Apostles
contribute to such a conclusion.
Textual criticism, misnamed higher criticism, is only another name for unbelief. The church must be purged
from such men, for they are prevailing upon the masses to close their Bibles and rely upon self-professed experts to
tell them its meaning. Whatever reasons are brought forward to justify a critical view of Scripture, they must be “cast
down” with spiritual weaponry (2 Cor 10:4-5). You cannot have the Living God calling upon us to trust in and
learn from the Scriptures, while men attempt to persuade us they may not be valid. If the same One who
inspired Scripture cannot maintain its integrity, how will we be able to believe He can “keep us from falling (Jude
24-25)? If His power cannot keep His Word, how can it keep us (1 Pet 1:5)?
Self-professed scholars may think all of this to be a mere tirade against scholarship. However, whatever calls
the Word of God into question, or discourages any child of God from believing he can possess its true meaning, is not
of God. Such views contradict Divine affirmation. If what these men say is true, the text before us is robbed of all
THINGS WRITTEN AFORE TIME
“For whatsoever things were written afore time . . . ” Other versions read, “For whatever was written in
earlier times,” NASB “For everything that was written in the past,” NIV “For whatever was written in former days,”
NRSV “Now those things which were put down in writing before our time,” BBE “Such things were written in the
Scriptures long ago,” NLT and “And all these things which were written so long ago.” NJB Be clear, this is not speaking
of mere history.
Although numerous writings existed at the time, the Spirit refers exclusively to Scripture, which was given
“by inspiration of God” (2 Tim 3:16-17). He does not refer to Plato, Socrates, or even Josephus. He will show us that
while these things were written “in the past,” they are not confined to the past. The writings of reference are not
relics, but something needed for the sustaining of spiritual life.
A Perspective of Teaching
A perspective of preaching and teaching is developed here that is worthy of a brief comment. Although this
verse appears to be unrelated to the subject at hand, Paul does not fear briefly commenting upon it. Obviously, he
does not see this as a distraction, or moving to another subject. There is an interrelationship in all Scripture
that allows for such manners. This represents the proper handling of the Scriptures (2 Tim 2:15), when men can
bring them to bear upon any subject or strain of teaching. It is good to seek such versatility in our teaching.
WRITTEN FOR OUR LEARNING
“ . . . were written for our learning . . . ” Other versions read, “was written for our instruction,” NASB “was
written for our instruction,” NIV and “was written to teach us.” NIB It is not that Moses and the Prophets purposed to
write for our benefit, although it was revealed to the Prophets that this was the case (1 Pet 1:12). The writing was
under Divine supervision, and with a Divinely established purpose – “our learning.”
This was not the only
purpose for which those things were written, although it can be argued that it was the preeminent one.
The Impact of Questioning the Bible
If this is true, and it surely is, think of the impact of the view that Scripture has been greatly corrupted. If
men have, in fact, caused Scripture to become distorted, the purpose of God has been frustrated. It is
not possible to prove such a postulate, for it runs counter to everything God has revealed about Himself. If God
could, at the very threshold of humanity, reveal His intention to the arch foe Satan, with no possibility
of it being overturned (Gen 3:15), how could mere men neutralize His word? He is a fool who supposes
such a thing is possible Suffice it to say, there would be no point to this verse if there was any question at all about
the total accuracy of Scripture.
Earlier in this book, we are reminded that the record of Abraham being made righteous was written “for our
sake” (4:23-24). We are also reminded that what was experienced by Israel “happened to them as examples, and they
were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor 10:11). History, then, has
been orchestrated, and Scripture written, in order for our learning and admonition.
What, then, can justify the remarkable ignorance of Scriptures extant today.
It is no wonder that Jesus spoke of the Scriptures as testifying of Him (John 5:39). Early believers were
considered “more noble” because they “searched the Scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11). The Scriptures are for the
advancement of the believer, for promoting spiritual learning, the knowledge of God, or familiarity with the ways
of the Lord.
Scripture Is Not A Charm
Whether intentional or not, the Scriptures are often treated like a magical charm. People imagine
that there is safety or virtue in having a Bible in their home or possession, while they remain fundamentally ignorant
of what it contains. Untold multitudes delight in confessing they believe every word in the Bible, even though they
have scarcely read anything in it. Perhaps they would not speak in this manner if they were better acquainted with
what the Scripture says.
Moses and the Prophets
The “things written afore time” refers to the writings of Moses and the Prophets, which men call the “Old
Testament.” There is no section of Scripture so little known among professing Christians as this. Some have even
created theologies that teach men they have no further need for this part of the Bible. It was only for the Jews, they
say. But our text says it was written “for
Unlearned and Disadvantaged
If the Scriptures have been written for our “learning,” then those who do not know them are
“unlearned.” The deplorable level of ignorance concerning Scripture that exists in the church is a transgression
of the greatest sort. If God had the Scriptures written to give us an advantage, we are never more
disadvantaged than when we are ignorant of them. There is not a valid thought of God in the world that did
not have its genesis in Scripture. Apart from Scripture, we do not have the faintest idea about salvation, grace, Divine
love, an eternal inheritance, or the end of the world. We are wholly reliant upon Scripture for an understanding of
the day of judgment, the necessity of atonement, and the availability of remission. Truly, they were written for
Let it be clear, there is nothing pointless in Scripture, and thus no part of it is to be neglected. The more we
are subjected to them, the more we learn, for they are written for our learning. No part of the Bible is “nothing but
leaves” (Mark 11:13). To put it another way, there is precious fruit in every Scriptural text to be eaten and digested.
No part of the Bible is mere history. No inspired writing is the privately conceived opinion of its writer. Nothing in
Scripture is dispensable. Nothing is optional, to be placed on the shelf of neglect. The Holy Spirit did not move men
to write things we do not need to know. Further, if the Scriptures were written for our learning, we should be about
the business of learning from them.
It is not possible for spiritual advancement in any sense to be realized independently of the
Scriptures. Even your fellowship with the Lord depends upon your relationship to His Word, by which you live (Matt
4:4). If you come away from the Scriptures to have fellowship with God, you leap into the dark, and will
be controlled by imaginations. Those who treat the Scriptures with neglect, or even disrespect, have thereby
revealed their distance from the God who gave them. The Lord Jesus, who personally teaches us (Eph 4:20-21), will
teach us in direct proportion to our knowledge of Scripture.
PATIENCE AND COMFORT OF THE SCRIPTURES
“ . . . that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures . . . ”
Other versions read, “that through
perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope,” NASB “so that through endurance and
the encouragement of the,” NIV “so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures,” NRSV “so that
through quiet waiting and through the comfort of the holy Writings,” BBE and “They give us hope and encouragement
as we wait patiently for God's promises.”
Here personality is assigned to the Scriptures. They become the source from which needful graces are
obtained. This ministry of Scripture unveils something of the meaning of Christ’s words: “the words that I speak unto
you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63b). God declared His Word works, accomplishing what He has
determined. “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the
earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word
be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please,
and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isa 55:10-11).
This condition is what accounts for the Word of God growing (Acts 12:24a), increasing (Acts 6:7), being
multiplied (Acts 12:24b), and prevailing (Acts 19:20). In all of those cases, it was both spoken and received. What
marvelous things are realized “through the Scriptures!”
“Patience” is required because of the adversities and trials we face in this world. This quality refers to
endurance, perseverance, and continuance. The word includes the idea of constancy, or steadfastness, as well as that
of endurance and survival. The person with “patience” does not live by fits and starts, fighting the good
fight of faith only occasionally, while having long periods of spiritual inactivity.
“Patience” carries the idea of being dependable, and able to endure lengthy periods of hardship and challenge.
There is determination in “patience,” and a constant vision of the goal as well. The person with “patience” can
determinedly go into a den of lions or a furnace of fire. The threats of the enemy do not push such a person off of the
narrow way. Hardship does not remove him from the highway of holiness.
Our text says that such “patience” comes through the Scriptures. By this, the Spirit means that the Scriptures
fuel patience. They contain words that strengthen an enduring spirit like food nourishes the body. The Lord has
placed accounts in Scripture that help to produce endurance in His people. There are teachings and exhortations in
Scripture that reveal the sense, or rationality, of “patient continuance” (Rom 2:7). They also confirm the utter
insanity of dropping out of the race, or thinking it can be won without running at all.
If it is true that such “patience” is the result of exposure to the Scriptures, then perseverance is impossible
for those who are fundamentally ignorant of them. The possibility of finishing the race that is set before us is directly
proportionate to our familiarity with the good word of God.
Endurance is not the only thing required to complete our race. We also need comfort, consolation, and
encouragement. This is encouragement through counsel, exhortation, or entreaty. The human spirit must be lifted
up, encouraged, and helped to see the truth of God, if we are to persevere.
It is not coincidence that the Holy Spirit is called “the Comforter” (John 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7). Some versions
translate “Comforter” as “Helper,” NKJV,NASB “Counselor,” NIV or “Advocate.” NRSV Because the Scriptures were written
under His direction (2 Pet 1:21), the nature of the Spirit Himself is found in them. What He is said to do, is also
affirmed of the Scriptures. The two cannot be separated.
The Scriptures comfort or encourage us because of the many promises affirmed therein. They do so through
the various accounts of triumphant faith. They confirm to us that the mighty God of heaven undergirds those who
embrace His purpose, and are willing to do His will. Who can describe the impact that accounts like David and
Goliath, Daniel and the lion’s den, and the three Hebrew children and the fiery furnace, have had upon the faithful?
What of the conquering of Jericho, the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem under the leadership of Nehemiah, or the
slaying of the hosts of threatening Sennacherib! What determinations to be faithful to God have been aided by
Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones, and Daniel’s stone hewn out of a mountain without hands! And, what of the unlikely
exaltation of Moses, Joseph, and Daniel! Indeed, we do receive comfort “of the Scriptures.”
MIGHT HAVE HOPE
Patience and comfort are not ends of themselves. There is a purpose for them both – an objective that is higher
than patience and hope themselves. It is not enough to merely plod along in the life of faith every day. To be
encouraged and consoled is good, but that is not enough either. We do not live by patience, nor are we saved
by comfort. They are both blessed and obligatory, but they are streams that empty themselves into a vastly larger
depository. That depository is hope, by which “we are saved” (Rom 8:24-25).
God has begotten us again to a “living hope,” or one that dominates and is triumphant. That hope is the
engine that promotes personal purity. As it is written, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet
appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see him as He
is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3). The purity God
requires is not possible without the “hope” to which He has begotten us. Uncertain disciples cannot become or keep
pure. Life is too challenging for those who are unsure of their eternal destiny.
This hope does not come through prayer, but “by the patience and comfort of the Scriptures .” If the
Scriptures are strange to me, hope will not be within me. If the Word of God makes no sense to me, I will not be
persuaded “He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day” (2 Tim 1:12).
The postulate of this text is that if we have hope, we will triumphantly cross the finish life! This
“hope” is described as “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil”
(Heb 6:19). It keeps the soul from drifting aimlessly upon the sea of life. It sustains the soul in times of trial and
discouragement. Hope is like a bright star that cannot be hidden by the dark clouds of difficulty. It penetrates through
the darkness, convincing the soul of a “better country (Heb 11:16), and a morning that will dawn with full and
undiminished joy for the believer (Psa 30:5).
Because hope is anchored in heaven, the “powers of the world to come” are brought to us through it (Heb 6:5).
The effectiveness of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, David, and the holy Prophets is traceable to more than
their accounts in Scripture. The Word of God has made us aware of these holy men, and has acquainted us with both
their manners and triumphs. But these men are still alive, for God is still their God. God “is not the God of the dead,
but of the living” (Matt 22:32). They are now among the “great cloud of witnesses” that surrounds us (Heb 12:1). In
ways transcendent to our intellect, we are helped by these noble souls whose records are in the Bible. We have been
called into their fellowship (Heb 12:23), and their effectiveness to us now is owing to their persons, not merely a
historical record of them.
This is another reason why the Scriptures bring us patience and comfort, thereby causing hope to flourish within
us. All of this helps us to be gracious and forbearing of the household of faith, assisting us in the sacred work of
bearing with their infirmities, and not allowing them to be an occasion for the flesh. There is no way to fully measure
the impact of a thriving hope upon the soul. It tends to lift the spirit, giving a reason keep the faith and finish the
GRANTED TO BE LIKE-MINDED
“ 5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be LIKE-MINDED one toward another
according to Christ Jesus.” I am always edified by the consideration of God’s extensive involvement in our
salvation. It is a circumstance that my former theology did not easily allow. I was led to believe that the preeminent
role in salvation was that of man himself – that he largely determined the strength with which he addressed matters
of salvation as well his eternal destiny. It was not a very comforting view, for my own weaknesses constantly
confronted me. It was not a moral weakness, pulling me into immorality, but a lively awareness that God required
more of me than I seemed able to give. Of course, my theology comforted me with thoughts like, “We are all sinners.
The only difference is that we are forgiven.” Or, “After all, we are only human.” Or, “If we do our best, that will be
enough.” Or, “God understands, and really does not mean we have to do everything He requires.” . . . etc.
All of that is as foolish to me now as it really was all along. When once it dawns upon the human spirit that
the demands of God are very real, and that we do not have the option of ignoring or mitigating them, the involvement
of God in our salvation becomes a most comforting thought. Before dealing with this verse, allow me to confirm to
you that what it declares is in strict accord with the rest of Scripture. God is consistently declared to interface with
Commitments to Israel
“ . . . I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father:
for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it” (Isa 58:14).
□ “ . . . and I will cause you to dwell in this place” (Jer 7:3).
□ “ . . . I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know
that my name is The LORD” (Jer 16:21).
□ “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out
of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in
My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them” (Ezek 36:26).
Commitments to Those in Christ
□ “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in
the inner man . . . ” (Eph 3:17).
□ “Now the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always by all means . . . ” (2 Thess 3;16).
□ “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one
another” (1 Thess 4:9).
□ “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation
in the knowledge of Him” (Eph 1:17).
□ “Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 6:23).
□ “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do
toward you” (1 Thess 3:12).
□ “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ” (2 Thess 3:5).
□ “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through
the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that
which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Heb 13:20-21.
□ “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a
while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” (1 Pet 5:10).
These are only a very small sampling of the texts that affirm the participation of God in our personal lives. These
things are not intended to suggest we have no involvement ourselves. They ARE intended to confirm we cannot fulfill
our responsibilities without the Lord. There is no point in salvation where we grow beyond the need for God to “work
in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). Blessed, indeed, is the person who knows this and relies
upon it. Such will be given great advantages.
THE GOD OF PATIENCE AND CONSOLATION
“Now the God of patience and consolation . . . ” Other versions read, “Now may the God who gives
perseverance and encouragement . . .” NASB “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement . . . ” NIV and “May
the God of steadfastness and encouragement . . .” NRSV This is staple fare for the righteous – hearing who God is. Later
in this book, the Spirit will refer to God as “the God of hope” (15:13) and “the God of peace 15:33; 16:20). Elsewhere
He is referred to as “the God of all comfort” (2 Cor 1:3), “the God of love and peace” (2 Cor 13:11), and “the God of
all grace” (1 Pet 5:10).
This language holds forth God as the Source of what we need. James reminds us that “Every good gift and
every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither
shadow of turning” (James 1:17). How precious it is to consider these things.
God is the God of patience because He gives patience, and the God of comfort because He gives
Notice, the very things said to come to us through the Scriptures, are now traced back to God Himself:
“patience and comfort” (15:4). It is the relation of Deity with the Scriptures that gives them power. That
is why we can “live by every word of God” (Lk 4:4). It is what makes them “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for
correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good
works” (2 Tim 3:16-17).
Now the Apostle prays a blessing upon the brethren. He calls upon the “God of patience and consolation” to
do something special among the saints. It is a work worthy of God, for it can be done by no one else.
GRANT YOU TO BE LIKE-MINDED
“ . . . grant you to be LIKE-MINDED one toward another . . . ” Other versions read, “grant you to be of the
same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,” NASB “give you a spirit of unity among yourselves,” NIV “grant
you to live in harmony with one another,” NRSV “make you of the same mind with one another,” BBE “grant you to think
in harmony with one another,” NAB “help you live in complete harmony with each other,” NLT and “give you all the same
Who is able to measure the Divine impact that would be brought to bear upon the church if this prayer was
being raised up to God? The lack of like-mindedness among professed believers is staggering. It is the cause of all
sectarianism, factionism, and division. It is the source of endless debates and theological confusion.
Yet, this is accord is consistently set before the people of God as something to be attained. “That ye may with
one mind and one mouth glorify God . . . be of one mind . . . with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel
. . . having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind . . . be ye all of one mind . . . Be of the same mind one
toward another . . . be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (Rom 15:6; 2 Cor 13:11;
Phil 1:27; 2:2: 1 Pet 3:8; Rom 12:16; 1 Cor 1:10).
Is there any question about the priority of this matter? And yet one can scarcely find a single congregation
that enjoys any measurable degree of spiritual oneness. It is no wonder that the church is virtually powerless, for
“every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matt 12:25).
However, our text brings this down to the personal level – that of one believer with another. Some brethren
cannot to be received, while others are despised. We are not to be peaceable with some of God’s children, and
judgmental toward others. Emphatically, believers are exhorted, “be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thess 5:13). That
involves seeking to edify one another. It means self interests are to be forfeited when Christ’s brethren can be
advantaged by that forfeiture.
Such a work is too challenging for “the natural man.” In fact, it is utterly hopeless. Some measure of like-mindedness may be achieved for a fleeting moment, but our text is not speaking of that type of unanimity. This is
precisely why “the God of patience and consolation” is called into the picture. We need His help!
The Role of Patience and Consolation
Patience, or endurance, and consolation, or comfort, are to like-mindedness what the showers are to parched
ground. They promote being of the same mind, for those who are “enduring all things” tend to think alike. Their focus
tends to be the same. Those who are walking in “the comfort of the Holy Spirit” are being led toward the same values
All of God’s gifts are designed to orient us for glory, and insulate us against the eroding effects of this present
evil world. That very circumstance causes the recipients of patience and consolation to be drawn together. Apart from
the experience of those Divinely originated mercies, however, like-mindedness will remain a mere idea with no hope
of ever being fulfilled.
ACCORDING TO CHRIST JESUS
“ . . . according to Christ Jesus.” Other versions read, “as you follow Christ Jesus,” NIV “in accordance with Christ
Jesus,” NRSV “as you follow Christ Jesus,” NIB “in harmony with Christ Jesus,” BBE “in keeping with Christ Jesus,” NAB “with
the attitude of Christ Jesus,” NLT and “following the example of Christ Jesus.”
The idea here is that it is a unity with Christ that produces a unity with one another. Christ is “one” with His
people, for they have been made “one spirit” with Him (1 Cor 6:17). They are “members of His body, of His flesh, and
of His bones” (Eph 5:30). Any disunity among the members is clearly not of Christ, for He dwells in their hearts by
faith (Eph 3:17), and manifests Himself to them (John 14:23).
There is nothing about Christ or His salvation that will drive a wedge between those who are joined to Him. He
who loves us (Gal 2:20), cannot move us to despise one another. He who did not come to judge the world, but to save it
(John 12:47), will not move us to judge one another. He who prayed that we might be “one” with Himself and the Father
will not promote division among us. Such things are “not according to Christ” NKJV (Col 2:8).
Jesus Is the Measure
Jesus is the measure of all valid Kingdom activity. He works in perfect concert with the Father and the Spirit.
The holy angels are also joined to the purpose He is fulfilling, and enter heartily into their work. Wherever there is
an individual who has His commandments, keeps them, and loves Him, Jesus says, “I will love him, and will manifest
Myself to him” (John 14:21). Of such a person, Jesus also says, “My Father will love him, and We will come unto him,
and make Our abode with him” (John 14:23). The measure of the individual’s faith is not the determining factor for
Divine fellowship. Whether or not everything is seen clearly does not determine if the Father and Son take up their
abode with us. Rather, it is the person’s sensitivity to, and love for, the Savior that is the qualification for the blessing.
We cannot expect more for fellowship with us than Jesus requires for fellowship with Himself
Such an attitude is not according to Christ. It contradicts His spirit as well as His word. But when we are LIKE-MINDED, looking in the same direction, desiring the same habitation, and sustained by the same God, we are living
“according to Christ.” It is a blessed privilege, indeed, to be in such accord with the Savior.
Jesus Did Come to Bring Division
It is quite true that Jesus did not come to bring peace, but a sword, setting one person against another (Matt
10:34-36). However, that division was not among believers, but involved a division between believers and unbelievers,
wheat and tares, the righteous and the unrighteous.
When division is found among the people of God, it has not been caused by Jesus. Someone has made a place for
the devil, for “God is not the author of confusion” 1 Cor 14:33).
ONE MIND AND ONE MOUTH
“ 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ.” There is a purpose for God ministering patience and consolation. There is a high and lofty reason for
refraining from efforts to please ourselves, and seeking to please our brethren “unto edification.” Being “LIKE-MINDED one toward another” is not an end of itself, and ought not to be so considered. While some make unity their
primary objective, our text reveals it is really secondary.
GLORIFYING GOD WITH ONE MIND AND ONE MOUTH
“That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God.”Other versions read, “that with one accord you may
with one voice glorify the God,” NASB “so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God,” NIV “so that together
you may with one voice glorify the God,” NRSV and “Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and
glory to God.” NLT This is not speaking about, what men are now calling, a praise and worship service, although prayer
and praise are surely involved. This involves more than perfunctory actions. The mind is included as well as the
If Christ has “received us to the glory of God” (Rom 15:7), then God is also glorified by our reception of one
another. In that reception, we acknowledge the saints are God’s workmanship and Christ’s brethren.
The thought occurs to me that God cannot be glorified by a church that does not receive one another. Neither,
indeed, can He be honored by those who are in fundamental disagreement with one another. As soon as contention,
the despising of brethren, and judgmental attitudes surface, God ceases to be glorified in the sense of our text. I say
“in the sense of our text,” because God will eventually be justified in all of His sayings. He will disown those who have
disowned or despised His people, for they have exhibited a spirit that has its genesis with Satan, and is “not according
to Christ.” If we knew nothing more than this, we would vigorously shun any attitude that moved us to look down
upon, or judge, those who are living with a good conscience before the Lord. If they have a weak and immature faith,
we will not despise them. If they are freed by their conscience to do things our conscience does not allow, we will not
judge them. In this manner, an environment is produced in which God can be glorified. The absence of these qualities
produces a arena in which God is not glorified.
What does it mean to glorify God? Is this a synonym for praise? It is true that we are “a chosen generation,
a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the
praises of Him who hath called
you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9). However, praise and glory are not the same thing. Praise
has to do with singing or articulating honor to God – thankfully acknowledging what He has done. Various
instruments can be used to praise the Lord, such as the trumpet, psaltry, and harp (Psa 150:3-4).
Glorifying God goes even deeper than praise. It is more than acknowledgment of His greatness and virtues.
Glorifying God has to do with bringing Him honor. It involves magnifying the Lord, so that His Person overshadows
everything else. His prominence is more clearly seen when He is glorified.
In the unity of God’s people, the power of the Gospel and the effectiveness of the grace it announces is seen,
thereby bringing glory, or honor, to God. This is the kind of glory or honor mentioned in First Corinthians. If, in the
course of their gathering, a wave of insightful speaking took place, and a stranger, unlearned in the ways of God, came
in, upon hearing it “he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report
that God is in you of a truth” (1 Cor 14:24-25). Through their unified speaking, God was glorified, and honor was
brought to Him.
In this sense, glory is not the praise itself, but results from the praise or prophecy.
Before there can truly be “one mouth,” there must be “one mind.” This is a single mind-set that reflects “the
mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). This is the standard for those in Christ. The admonition to all believers is, “be of one
mind” (2 Cor 13:11). As we strive, or work, together, it is to be “with one mind” (Phil 1:27). This is being “of one
accord, of one mind” (Phil 2:2).
Being of “one mind” is not seeing everything the same way – although that is certainly the ideal. Our text has
already acknowledged that some do not see eating meat the same way. Others do not consider days in the same
manner. To be of one mind is not to see to it that there is perfect accord in our views of meats and days. Those areas
are not high enough for the challenge of “one mind.”
Our minds are to be gathered together around Christ Jesus. “One mind” speaks of perceiving Him as the Son
of God, and Him in whom we are made complete. “One mind” focuses on standing before Him faultless, and labors
to that end. The brother who feels he cannot eat meat, and the one who knows he can eat meat, can be perfectly joined
together “in the same mind.” They can live for the same purpose and the same Person. They can maintain a pure
conscience, and wait for the coming of the Lord. They can be determined to suffer for Christ, stand against the wiles
of the devil, and obtain the prize. That is the “one mind” that brings glory to God.
And how is this “one mind” realized? It is the product of God’s own working. It is God Himself who grants
us to be “LIKE-MINDED one toward another” (verse 5). There is no question about us entering into the process. After
all, we are the ones who are admonished to not please ourselves, but please our neighbor to his edification (verses 1-2).
But it is God who causes us to be LIKE-MINDED.
A Principle to be Seen
There is a Kingdom principle to be seen here – a way in which the benefits of God are realized. It is AS we are
engaged in pleasing the Lord that grace is given to us. When we extend ourselves to do what God has said, we will
experience the power of God, thereby causing our efforts to be effectual.
It is much like the palsied man who was let down through the roof to the feet of Jesus. Although he had never
walked, Jesus said, “Arise, take up thy bed, and walk” (Mark 2:9). Jesus said the same thing to a man by the pool of
Bethesda. He had not walked for thirty eight years, yet Jesus said, “Rise, take up thy bed and walk” (John 5:8). In
both cases, human effort was met by Divine power, thereby producing the desired effect. If either man would have
remained on their bed, making no effort to rise and walk, both would have remained there. Their faith brought them
into the process in which God empowered them to do what nature was impotent to accomplish.
So it is with our text. If we desire to glorify God with “one mind,” we must first extend ourselves to receive
one another without disputations, and cease from judging one another. It is essential that we seek to edify one
another. Where that effort is missing, the pursuit of unity and “one mind” are vain pursuits. God will not empower
those who are not engaged in the work of edifying one another. However, where people are serious about that activity,
God will grant them to be “LIKE-MINDED,” and they, in return, will glorify Him.
When God grants His people to be “LIKE-MINDED toward one another,” it affects their mouths as well as
their minds. In fact, the mind and the mouth become coordinated when Divine power is realized. It is not possible to
“speak the same thing” unless we have
An Example of “One Mouth”
An example of “one mouth” is seen in one of the prayers of the early church. At one point, “the rulers, and
elders, and scribes, and Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the
kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.” They called Peter and John to task for preaching
the Gospel, and “commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:5-18). Because they
could find no cause to punish them, however, they “threatened them,” and “let them go” (Acts 4:21). What they then
did is noteworthy.
Upon being let go, Peter and John immediately went to “their own companions,” reporting the things that had
been done. Upon hearing of the threats of the very people who killed Jesus, the magnificent unity of the believers
surfaced. It is written, “And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said . . . ”
Their prayer evidenced strong faith and insight, as they recalled pertinent Scriptures, and confessed they knew
their God was able to deliver them. With “one mouth” they glorified God. They confessed He was the God who made
heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them. They acknowledged that the oppositions of kings and princes were
vain, and that they were but vassals of God, fulfilling His desire, while He overturned their’s. They articulated how
Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel had conspired against Jesus, only to “to do whatever Your
hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.” Their faith rose to the occasion, as with “one mouth” they
called upon the name of the Lord. “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness
they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through
the name of Your holy Servant Jesus” (Acts 4:29-30). The fact that God was glorified is confirmed by what followed
their prayer. “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were
all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (verse 31). A marvelous and unparalleled
unity swept through that holy band of people, as they cut loose from the world in a remarkable way. With great power
the Apostles gave witness to the resurrection of Christ, and “great grace was upon them all” (verses 32-33). God was
Prior to that event, there was an intense interest among the disciples in edifying one another. After Jesus had
ascended into heaven, “all continued in prayer with one accord” (Acts 1:14). Without so much as a note of disagreement
among them, they depended upon the Lord to guide their choice of Judas’ replacement (1:15-26). When the day of
Pentecost was “fully come,” they were “all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1). Even after 3,000 souls were added
to the church (2:41), they all continued “daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house,
did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people” (2:46).
When Peter and John were released from prison, their “companions” were still together in both mind and body.
There were no divisions among them, and they were seeking to “please” their “neighbor.” In that state, God granted
them to be “LIKE-MINDED,” and they followed through by glorifying Him
with “one mind and one mouth.”
Our text, then, is not mere theory. It has been lived out by others before us, and we do well to follow in their
THE FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
God is “our Father” who is in heaven, and we rejoice in that circumstance. However His primary
relationship is to Christ Jesus, not to us! The Holy Spirit makes a frequent point of this, hereby confirming its
importance: “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 1:3; Eph 3:14; Col 1:3). He is also called “the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 11:31; Eph 1:3; 1 Pet 1:3). Additionally, we read of Him as “the God of our Lord Jesus
Christ” (Eph 1:17).
Let it be clear, the working of God does not center in us, or even in the church. The locus of the
Kingdom is Jesus Himself. Everything God gives comes through His Son. Everything He receives comes through
Him as well. God receives no glory that does not come through and because of Jesus. He gives no graces and no
benefits that are not administered by the Lord Jesus Christ! We do well, therefore, to consider Jesus the center of our
Allow me to state this in the words of Scripture. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live,
but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and
gave Himself for me” NKJV (Gal 2:20). And again, “For to me to live is Christ” (Phil 1:21). When that kind of spirit
pervades the church, the blessing of God is on the way. He will grant it to be “LIKE-MINDED,” that with “one mind
and one mouth” they may glorify Him. A commonality will thus be found in our focus, as well as our thinking and
speaking. How blessed it is to be involved in such a marvelous working – and it is all according to Divine purpose.
There is a certain refreshment that comes from seeing and participating in these things. Test and see if this
is not the truth. When the saints are seeking to edify one another, the blessing of God is upon them. There is a greater
degree of spiritual understanding, and less of a proneness to despising and judging one another. In an environment
of edification, we progress toward having one mind and one mouth. Consequently, more glory is brought to our Lord.
Conversely, where edification is not the focus, all manner of fleshly expressions begun to erupt. When
edification has no place in the church, the flesh comes off of the cross on which God placed it. Leaders tend to be more
corrupt, and people tend to be more foolish. The Word of God loses its place of prominence, and opinions are given
too much weight. All of this occurs because God does not dwell where there is no interest in
strengthening and encouraging His people.
However, where self interests are forfeited in order to give advantages to those who are living by faith, “great
grace” will surely be experienced.
I cannot close this lesson without again emphasizing the active role God Himself plays in our salvation. His
is not a mere historical role, but a contemporary one. He is in the business of giving grants – granting, for example,
that we be “LIKE-MINDED.” He can give us patience, and desires to do so, for He is the “God of patience.” He can
give us comfort, seeing to it that we are encouraged and strengthened on our way to glory, for He is
“the God of
You cannot give God too much credit in our salvation, even though some theology leaves people thinking that
is possible. God is glorified when we see and confess His prominence and incessant activity in salvation. No person
should draw back from honoring Him by confessing His indispensable involvement.
Also, in order to ensure that we do not come short of the goal, or that we are not found without the required
resources, everything comes to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. The excellence of this arrangement is seen in the
fact that He is able to be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. This is because He was tempted in all points like
as we are, although He was without sin. God honors Jesus for the great work He has done in our behalf. When we
will serve Jesus by living for Him, or “according to Christ,” God will also honor us. Jesus said, “If any man serve Me,
let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be: if any man serve Me, him will My Father honor”
(John 12:26). Now, that is the kind of blessing you want to obtain, and in Jesus, you surely can!