What does Romans 12:15 really mean?

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.


Setting the Scene for Romans 12:15

In Romans chapter 12, we find a scene where a group of early Christians are gathered together in a small house in Rome. The room is dimly lit by oil lamps, casting a warm glow on the faces of those present. The air is filled with the scent of incense burning in a corner, creating a sense of peace and reverence. The walls are adorned with simple tapestries depicting scenes from the life of Jesus.

Among those gathered are Paul, the author of the letter to the Romans, along with Priscilla and Aquila, a couple known for their hospitality and dedication to spreading the teachings of Jesus. Also present are Phoebe, a deaconess of the church in Cenchreae, and several other believers who have come together for a time of fellowship and study.

As they sit in a circle on cushions spread across the floor, Paul begins to speak about the importance of rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep, as mentioned in Romans 12:15. He emphasizes the need for unity and love among believers, encouraging them to support one another in both times of joy and sorrow. The flickering light of the lamps casts shadows on the faces of the listeners, highlighting their expressions of deep contemplation and reverence for the words being shared.

What is Romans 12:15 about?

This verse from the Book of Romans captures the essence of empathy and compassion. It calls upon us to connect with others in their moments of joy and sorrow. When someone around us is celebrating a success or achievement, we are urged to share in their happiness wholeheartedly, rejoicing with them as if it were our own triumph. Similarly, when someone is going through a difficult time or experiencing deep sadness, we are asked to stand by their side, offering our support, comfort, and understanding.

Imagine a close friend achieving a long-awaited goal or facing a heartbreaking loss. How would you express your emotions towards them? This verse highlights the importance of being present and engaged in the lives of those around us, fostering a sense of unity and solidarity. It challenges us to step into the shoes of others, to feel what they feel, and to respond with genuine care and empathy. By strengthening our relationships and cultivating a more compassionate and empathetic community, we rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.

Understanding what Romans 12:15 really means

Structure for Commentary:

  1. Introduction to the Verse
  2. Context within the Chapter
  3. Deep Dive into Key Phrases
  4. Cross-Referencing Other Scriptures
  5. Relevance to Modern Life
  6. Personal Anecdote
  7. Conclusion and Call to Action


Introduction to the Verse:
Romans 12:15 is a simple yet profound directive from the Apostle Paul. He instructs us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” This verse encapsulates the essence of empathy and shared human experience. But what does it mean for us today, and how can we live this out in our daily lives?

Context within the Chapter:
Romans 12 is a well-loved chapter that provides practical advice on Christian living. It begins with the call to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. Paul emphasizes the importance of genuine love and humility. Verse 15 fits within this framework, urging believers to engage deeply with one another’s joys and sorrows.

Deep Dive into Key Phrases:
The phrase “Rejoice with those who rejoice” encourages us to share in the happiness of others. This can be challenging, especially when we’re dealing with our own difficulties. Yet, it calls us to rise above our personal circumstances and genuinely celebrate others’ successes. Similarly, “mourn with those who mourn” asks us to participate in the suffering of others. It’s a call to compassion and solidarity, echoing Jesus’ own heart for the hurting.

Cross-Referencing Other Scriptures:
This verse resonates with other biblical passages. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:26, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”” This illustrates the interconnectedness of the body of Christ. Additionally, Jesus’ example in John 11:35, where He wept at Lazarus’ tomb, shows His deep empathy and shared sorrow. We often find ourselves isolated, even in the midst of a crowd, in today’s fast-paced world. Social media can give the illusion of connection, yet what we truly crave is genuine, heartfelt interaction. We can build authentic relationships that provide support and encouragement by living out Romans 12:15. Imagine a community where people are genuinely happy for each other’s achievements and walk alongside each other in times of grief. How transformative that would be!

Personal Anecdote:
I remember a time when a member of our congregation lost a loved one. The outpouring of support was overwhelming. People brought meals, offered prayers, and simply sat in silence, offering their presence. Conversely, when another member achieved a significant milestone, the church erupted in celebration. These moments highlighted the beauty of living out Romans 12:15, creating a tapestry of shared experiences.

Conclusion and Call to Action:
Romans 12:15 calls us to a higher standard of empathy and community. It challenges us to step out of our comfort zones and truly engage with those around us. We reflect Christ’s love to a watching world as we strive to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Let’s commit to being a church that embodies this verse, transforming our community one heartfelt interaction at a time.

How can we show genuine empathy to one another?

Showing genuine empathy to one another means being present and sharing in each other’s joys and sorrows. It involves actively listening, acknowledging, and understanding the emotions and experiences of others without judgment. When we empathize with someone, we step into their shoes and strive to genuinely connect with their feelings.

One way to demonstrate empathy is by celebrating with those who are rejoicing and mourning with those who are grieving. It’s about being there for one another in times of happiness and sadness, offering our support, comfort, and understanding. We can build stronger relationships and create a sense of unity and solidarity in our communities by being sensitive to the emotions of others and responding with compassion and care. Being attuned to the feelings of others and responding with kindness and understanding is essential for genuine empathy. It’s about showing love and compassion in both good times and bad, standing by each other through the ups and downs of life. When we practice empathy, we create a space where people feel seen, heard, and valued, fostering deeper connections and a sense of belonging among us.


Picture your daily life as a team project at work or a family gathering. When a colleague wins, you celebrate together. When a family member struggles, you share their pain. Now, do the same with your faith community. Feel their joy, share their burdens. Will you reach out and genuinely connect with the emotions of those around you?