Romans 15: no 2nd class citizens

A natural fear is that this: “Am I really a second class citizen?” Nobody wants to be in the second tier of humanity, the lesser in the house when it comes to identity. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone sired came into the world as the offspring of a king? Unfortunately, the fall poisoned humanity with the devil’s penchant for comparison and denigration, such that a horrible self consciousness fills us unless liberated by Jesus Christ into a new view of who we are.

Let’s think of the Romans for a moment. No matter how scurvy a citizen a Romans was, he could at least boast, “I am a Roman, andRomerules the world.” Whether rich or poor, acclaimed or of no notice, being a Roman constituted an identity. Now consider what it was like to be a Roman Christian and then suddenly realizing that as a Gentile, you were the pig-pool of humanity in Old Testament nomenclature.

Paul solves the whole dilemma of identity in his letter by setting forth the revelation that a new humanity was birthed through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To be born again makes for a new man, the old man having been put to death, so that it does not matter what or who we were in terms of old, flesh identity; everyone raised supernaturally from death by Christ stands in the same resurrection.

Not all believers apprehend this immediately; I sure didn’t. Paul here addresses responses to those weak in faith, saying, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak” (RSV). It’s tempting when one sees to suddenly want all around to pop through into what we see. However, we know from all that Paul has already said that by “strong,” he does not mean Christians who are strong of themselves, but those who know that the strong one lives in them and is their strength. That is strength of faith.

Also, the emphasis here is not only on individual faith but on corporate life, the life of fellowship, not one of rules but of the fact that those who believe, touch each other in daily life, and rub each other. This rubbing can be to chafe or to soothe, according to how we see it. Paul goes for the rub that’s soothing and allows for a harmony despite differing levels of maturity. The body of Christ is not like a professional sports team on which only the upper echelon of talent operate together. I love sports and like my teams to have the best players possible, but in the body of Christ everyone is a player.

Operating as such, Paul says that Christ bore the reproaches of others and “did not please himself.” Thus, since Christ lives in us, how can we help but continue in the same Spirit vested in Him? One can fight it, but eventually we just do take our licks and suffer them willingly, even if not wanting to at first. That’s the life of the Cross in us: what we at first resist, we learn to embrace. So then, we welcome people that we never would have before.

Paul then goes on to buttress up his affirmation to the Romans that indeed they are not second class citizens but standing on the same footing as the Jewish believers, for the prophets told that this would be so. As recipients of this, they experience the maximum possible joy, peace, and power in the Holy Spirit. Also, Paul affirms that he is “satisfied” about them. How effervescent! 

He tells them he knows that they are competent in faith and able to teach, and that he is reminding them so as to be part of the work in offering the Gentiles to God as his work in the Lord. He has even gotten as far geographically as Illyricum, which is just across the water from where they are inRome, and he hopes to get to them eventually on his way toSpain. He wants to see them face to face.

Paul wasn’t one to build on others’ work; he was one for fresh fields, and what a driving spirit he possessed in his pioneer virgin callings, andRomeoffered a lot of opportunity. As such, he wanted to see the Romans but first had to expedite help for the poor inJerusalem, taking offerings collected from many for that purpose. The saints there needed material help, and there they were in the cradle of opposition from their own countrymen, plus suffering as they were, they were also a mother of faith to the emerging Gentile part of the body.

This section includes Paul’s appeal for the prayers of his readers, for he did not see himself operating apart from the web of grace that included all he knew in Christ. He knew that he would likely meet fierce opposition from the unbelievers inJerusalem, and he willed if possible to enjoy protection from their devices.

As a closing thought, one thing I gather in Paul’s various thoughts is his spirit of pulling together Christians from everywhere in one Spirit of fellowship, not that he was trying to organize on an external basis, but that he could see the unity that is the truth in Christ’s body, despite the unlikely appearances.

About Brian Leslie Coatney

So that you know a little about me, I was born in Detroit MI, but after my dad left, my mother returned to her hometown of Hopkinsville, where she and her mother raised me, my sister, and two brothers. My mother was a career elementary teacher. I earned my BA in English from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1971, so I'm a Tar Heel. I went through Naval ROTC there on a full scholarship and then served four years as an officer, followed by various jobs after that, and then an MA degree in English in 2002 from Austin Peay State University. I was with HCC both part time and full time 2002-2016, the last six years as a regular faculty member serving at HCC’s Fort Campbell campus. On a personal note, I married Tandy Anderson in 1971, and we’re still married! I graduated from Hopkinsville High School in 1967, and Tandy graduated from HHS in 1968. We got to know each other in 1970 after my junior year of college, and we married when I graduated. She completed her first two years at Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana, and then transferred for her junior year of college to Coker College in SC, where a friend of her family was the college president. Her plan was to do her senior year abroad in Israel, but then we got married and moved to San Diego CA, where my ship was home ported. She lost interest in school until 1992 when she finished her BA at Austin Peay State U. and then her MA in school psychology at Appalachian State U. in Boone, NC. She’s was a practicing school psychologist in the Christian County School System 1998.-2016 and is now retired. We have two sons, Carson and Elliot, both married, and five grandchildren and our sons and their families live in Boone, NC, where Carson and his wife, Mindy, own their own artisan bakery called Stick Boy Bread Co (, and Elliot, married to Joanna, works for a restaurant corporation in administration. Elliot is also a professional painter and has a web site
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5 Responses to Romans 15: no 2nd class citizens

  1. Donald Konick says:

    That’s one of the reasons I love Jesus… Because He makes everybody equal… KJV Colossians 3:10-11
    And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
    11. Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
    Ga: 3:28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
    Some He brings down to bring up & some He brings up but not so high that they get a swelled head. He brings everybody to the same level Christ is all and in all. That’s what I call cool! Ya got ta love Him!

  2. Chris Welch says:

    I have done some heavybooting in the past 2 weeks. Whether it was skilled or unskilled or not anything at all, we shall see. It was after 20 years of saying nothing. This Body is huge. Each collective individual, then section of the Body have gone through meaningful, methodical, onslaught by the Spirit against every lying stronghold they previously held as true before they met Light. Day to day pours forth speech is continually true. Unfortunately our western style of learning has so invaded the church that we think if we just catch the barest shell of an idea, we have the inner egg and yolk as well. As if we could be expert on E=mc2 just by saying the letters to each other.

    So after years of a general Spirit education, together with a very specific Spirit education that was tailored to our private, or immediate corporate needs and pattern of life, we find ourselves in the almost overwhelming chatter of collective revelation that is truly international, across the sexes, across the ages,across every divide thinkable, and we feel failure at not grasping all of it.Now.This minute.

    The thing is this. When we were in our ponds, Zerubbabel in Boone did not know there were hundreds and thousands who now believe as they do. Others had no idea that communities that sought God on cold stone floors together day in day out over years still existed since the Welsh revival. Europeans had no idea until Youtube that some of the Chinese unofficial churches were that big. Nor that others spent a lot of the meeting spaced out on their backs by the Holy Spirit watching scenes of heavenly glory. Left brain teaching establishments had no idea that those things happened anyway and now they do still label them Kundilini. Well a few years ago they wouldn’t have bothered using the phrase, so there’s a development, even if not a thaw.
    Thousands upon thousands did not know grace was virtually a university on its own, they thought it was just something nice that eased a bit more Jesus into someone’s soul. Which it is as well ofcourse. The horror that not all of us believe in the right of a pastor to run a pyramid. To some Africans it’s even a shock Westerners dont believe in dictators, or Patronising Solo Elders of State, let’s put it that way. What a shock it has been that someone has put the world lighting on, and we now see each other. We stand blinking at each other, still not sure of the right of the other person to exist….in my world as I imagined it.

    So, yes, we’re not there yet. So not there…..but the Father looking at us through Jesus says I beg to differ. I have made you all one. We all fall over backwards and faint!

  3. Pingback: Why do Christians eat pork? « Huliganov TV

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