“… fill you with joy and peace in believing”
What fills us with joy and peace? What kind of joy? The frivolity which so many seek to fill their spare time is not at all the joy that Paul is writing about as he completes his letter to the Romans. It does not create “peace”. The full context of his words are, “May the God of all hope fill you with joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (15:13).
This world does not “abound in hope”! Their kind of joy has no lasting hope attached to it. Much of their “joy” seems to be a means of blotting out the sense of hopelessness in the meaning of their lives, there is nothing of substance they believe in.
Earlier in the chapter Paul had made clear the kind of believing associated with “the joy and hope”. He wrote, “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction that through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope” (verse 4). He is referring to the Old Testament, the encouragement they gave, the Psalms we are currently reading being an outstanding example. In verse 9 to 12 Paul quotes from four different parts of the Old Testament; we must not neglect that part of the Bible, they were an inspiration to Paul as they had been to our Lord.
We must not misunderstand Paul’s reference to the “power of the Holy Spirit” in the passage we quoted. Paul says it causes us to “abound in hope”. In the previous chapter we read, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (verse 17).
In its leisure time our world focuses on “eating and drinking” but, for true believers, their “righteousness, peace and joy” comes from their constant sense – that “In him (God) we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Paul was conscious of the all seeing eye of God, it had changed his life. David fully sensed God’s total awareness of his life. In Psalm 139 we read, “O LORD, you have searched me and known me … you discern my thoughts from afar …” (verses 1,2) and then exclaims, “Where shall I go from your Spirit?” (verse 7)
The word “power” – in the Greek, dunamis – takes its meaning from its context, in Romans 1:16 Paul exclaimed, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to every one who believes …” Let us really believe; may the true original Gospel be a power in our minds as we absorb it through our daily reading of God’s word.