In Chapter 15, Paul reminds the believers that we have an obligation to bear with each other and for those who are strong in the faith to help strengthen the weak.
As we continue in this chapter, it's important to keep verse 7 in view that "welcoming one another, as Christ has welcomed us, is for the glory of God." It's to God's glory that his children are unified, reconciled, and living in harmony–worshiping him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). To that end, God sent his Son into the world to become a man, not just to be our example, but to redeem us from our fallen condition.
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In verse 8, Paul shows us that to accomplish the Father's will, Christ (being God himself) humbled himself to become a servant to the circumcised (Israel) just as God had promised to the patriarchs of Israel.
For generations, all of Israel looked forward to this promise of a messiah that would come and bless the nations and establish God's eternal kingdom. It was a central part of the Hebrew faith and culture.
God spoke promises to Abraham (Genesis 12:3, 18:18, 22:18) that from his offspring, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. These promises were affirmed to his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob. Even more promises were made in 2 Samuel 7:11-13 when God told David that he would have offspring whose kingdom and authority would be established forever.
The hope of Israel was the promise of an eternal kingdom and fellowship with God. Generations were poised in confident expectation looking forward to the fulfillment of these covenant promises.
"When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons." Galatians 4:4–5
In Paul's letter to the Galatians (3:16), he states that this promise to Abraham was fulfilled in Jesus.
Luke writes of the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary to tell her about the baby she would soon have.
"And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus."
“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:31-33
Both Mary and Zechariah (father of John the Baptist) acknowledge these events as the long-anticipated fulfillment of the promises God made to Abraham and the forefathers (Luke 1:54-55, 68-74).
Not only did the messiah (the anointed one) come from Israel, he came to Israel as a servant. Jesus served as a teacher and a prophet. He served as high priest. In his most unique and necessary role, however, Jesus also served as the all-sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the people (Hebrews 10:10).
Jesus, as our humble king, came to lay down his life as a ransom to take away the sins of those who would trust in him (John 1:29). He was the lamb slain before the foundations of the world (1 Peter 1:19-20) to satisfy God's wrath (John 3:36) to restore us to relationship with God (2 Cor. 5:18), and unite us together as one "in Christ" (Romans 12:5).
More than just a king who would lead them, the messiah came as a servant to Israel to show God's faithfulness to honor his promises to forefathers of Israel.
But before Jesus could establish and lead this eternal kingdom, he first needed to deal with the sin problem that plagued his people and separated us from God. (Isaiah 59:2, Romans 5:14, 1 Corinthians 15:22). Not until that sin was dealt with could he truly honor the promises he made to the forefathers of Israel.
In verses 9-12, Paul shows this promise and the hope of Israel is now extended to all nations. Paul goes on to highlight key verses from the Old Testament (the law, the prophets and the writings) to show that God's plan has always been for the salvation of all mankind to receive mercy and to glorify God.
The selected scriptures also show us a progression as a picture of the gospel message. God's people offering praise to God AMONG the gentiles would lead the gentiles to praise WITH God's people, which would ultimately lead to ALL people worshiping God and living under the rule of the eternal King Jesus.
The hope of Israel has become the hope of all mankind.
"Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." - Ephesians 2:12-13
In Christ, by His sacrifice and salvation, we have been brought into the covenant promise that God made to Israel.
Our destiny is reconciliation with God and with each other, so it’s to God’s glory that we work in accordance with His will to receive one another in love.
Revelation tells us about this future time when God will be at home among His people taking away all pain and suffering (Revelation 21:3-4). This future kingdom of God will have twelve gates with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel and twelve foundations with names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Revelation 21:12.14).
It is to God’s ultimate glory that we would be reconciled to Him and to each other. When we all receive God’s mercy, we are united to worship God as one family joined in one eternal kingdom.
Paul concludes this section with a blessing and a reminder that we have the Holy Spirit to bring us joy and peace. If we can recognize and trust in God’s work of reconciliation on this major scale, then we can also take confidence God is at work in the smaller circumstances and relationships that make up our daily lives. As we come together, the Holy Spirit is at work encouraging and equipping us with the supernatural ability to endure, to be sacrificial, and to forgive so that we can receive and love one another just as Christ has received us.