Paul continues to encourage cultivating authentic community with Jew and Gentile believers, laying aside their cultural backgrounds to establish a clear expression what Christian unity or better yet, oneness. The opening verse would seem to be directed toward the Gentile segment of the Church in Rome, as they (the Gentiles) didn’t have challenges with diet or drink like the Jewish segment of the Body there. Both, believing Jew and believing Gentile DID have a responsibility to “please hisneighbor for his good, leading to edification.” The Apostle Paul emulated and propagated Jesus’ lifestyle and referenced Him as having lived this kind of life as well (vs.3); functioning as a servant to humanity.
Paul wrote to Timothy concerning the inspiration of all scripture; with that backdrop, he reminds the Church at Rome that the whole of scripture, which at that time was the Old Testament and possibly some of the Gospels, as being “for our learning” that would result in “hope”. If both segments of the Body in Rome would be diligent to search the “word”, they would be able to “like-minded” and live in unity of “mind and one mouth” that would glorify the Father and Jesus.
Projects and activities can foster and enhance unity, but the basis for Biblical unity is the Word of God. Paul’s admonition to walk in unity/oneness, was validated by fathers of the faith; Moses, David and Isaiah. Worshipping together as believing Jew and Gentile was founded on the WORD, not on man’s opinion. Authentic unity today, whether that be unity of worship between races, ethnicities, or across denominational lines; those times must be founded on our mutual agreement of God’s Word. Opportunities may present themselves to minister to those of different faiths, but to worship with those of different faiths (Muslim, Hindu, etc.) can’t happen because there is no agreement on the Word of God.
The Word fills us with hope and the Author of that hope will release joy and peace as we intentionally work and worship together with other life giving expressions of the Body of Christ. Even as Paul reminded these believers in Rome, so genuine saints of God are also “full of goodness, fillled with all knowledge, able to admonish one another”. As one sent to establish and lay a firm foundation for growth among the Gentiles to come to faith in Christ, Paul didn’t even validate his ministry with testimonies of things he could have (vs. 18). Paul understood he was one that would fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy (Isa. 52:15) to minister to the Gentiles.
That is why he had been unable to travel to Rome up to that point in time; he was fulfilling his call as an Apostle to the Gentiles. It seems as though Paul wrote (at least this chapter) to the church in Rome from Corinth, where he received an offering from Gentile believers that was to be given to the saints in Jerusalem that were suffering persecution and the effects of famine. He used that as an example that there was responsibility on the part of believing Gentiles to minister to believing Jews in their need.
In concluding this chapter, he solicited their united prayers, praying together, for him as he traveled back to Jerusalem. The phrase “strive together” carries the idea of partnering in earnest prayer of agreement for a particular need. Here we have another means by which we have a basis for authentic unity, partnering prayer.
Over the years it’s been encouraging to hear brothers and sisters from other expressions of the Body cry out to the Father. Hearing their prayers was a witness to my mind and soul; these folk have the same passion for transformation as me. They may not pray in the same manner, but their prayers revealed their hearts; which were as my heart; God come, not just for “visitation” but “habitation”. I’ve seen Christ while receiving communion unlike any other during times Anglican brothers share the Lord’s Table. I’ve heard the heart of the Father as Southern Baptist brothers/sisters made supplication on behalf of our city and nation. I’m energized by listening to my African American brothers/sisters pray for strongholds of darkness to be broken over regions of the world, both in the US and overseas. I’ve been challenged by my Asian brothers/sisters endurance to persevere in prayer for extended periods of time; not minutes, but hours on behalf of our nation. I’ve also experienced joy and liberty being with my Messianic brothers/sister as well. Like Paul we have been “refreshed together”.
As we pursue this kind of Biblical unity, we’re made “whole” by God, because He’s “with” us “all. AMEN.”