For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, ‘Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name’; and again he says, ‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people’; and again, ‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him’; and again Isaiah says, ‘The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope.’ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This passage is the climax of the broader argument of Romans 14-15 about the division in the community between the “strong” and the “weak” that Paul is trying to overcome. What defines the community that has trusted in the promise fulfilled in Christ’s first coming and eagerly awaits his second coming?
Paul’s answer, and his prayer for the community, is harmony and hope. As Paul explains, the past—both Christ’s work and scripture—gives shape to and encouragement for the community’s present harmony, which orients all in hope towards God’s future.
Prayer: God of the future and God of the present, we pray for harmony amongst your people. When we have chosen harshness and gossip, forgive us. When have acted out of fear and haste, forgive us. Help us to right our relationships and fill us with the spirit of hope that only you can provide. Amen.