Romans 15:1-13 . SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED AND CONCLUDED.
Romans 15:14-33 . CONCLUSION: IN WHICH THE APOSTLE APOLOGIZES FOR THUS WRITING TO THE ROMAN CHRISTIANS, EXPLAINS WHY HE HAD NOT YET VISITED THEM, ANNOUNCES HIS FUTURE PLANS, AND ASKS THEIR PRAYERS FOR THE COMPLETION OF THEM.
14, 15. And, &c.--rather, "Now I am persuaded, my brethren, even I myself, concerning you"
that ye also yourselves are full of goodness--of inclination to all I have been enjoining on you
filled with all knowledge--of the truth expounded
and able--without my intervention.
to admonish one another.
15. Nevertheless, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort--"measure"
as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God--as an apostle of Jesus Christ.
16. that I should be the--rather, "a"
minister--The word here used is commonly employed to express the office of the priesthood, from which accordingly the figurative language of the rest of the verse is taken.
of Jesus Christ--"Christ Jesus," according to the true reading.
to the Gentiles--a further proof that the Epistle was addressed to a Gentile church.
ministering the gospel of God--As the word here is a still more priestly one, it should be rendered, "ministering as a priest in the Gospel of God."
that the offering up of the Gentiles--as an oblation to God, in their converted character.
might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost--the end to which the ancient offerings typically looked.
17. I have therefore whereof I may glory--or (adding the article, as the reading seems to be), "I have my glorying."
Christ Jesus in those things which pertain to God--the things of the ministry committed to me of God.
18-22. For I will not dare to speak of any--"to speak aught"
of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me--a modest, though somewhat obscure form of expression, meaning, "I will not dare to go beyond what Christ hath wrought by me"--in which form accordingly the rest of the passage is expressed. Observe here how Paul ascribes all the success of his labors to the activity of the living Redeemer, working in and by him.
by word and deed--by preaching and working; which latter he explains in the next clause.
19. Through mighty--literally, "in the power of"
signs and wonders--that is, glorious miracles.
by the power of the Spirit of God--"the Holy Ghost," as the true reading seems to be. This seems intended to explain the efficacy of the word preached, as well as the working of the miracles which attested it.
so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto--"as far as"
Illyricum--to the extreme northwestern boundary of Greece. It corresponds to the modern Croatia and Dalmatia ( 2 Timothy 4:10 ). See Acts 20:1 Acts 20:2 .
I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
20, 21. Yea, &c.--rather, "Yet making it my study (compare 2 Corinthians 5:9 , 1 Thessalonians 4:11 , Greek) so to preach the Gospel, not where Christ was [already] named, that I might not build upon another man's foundation: but (might act) as it is written, To whom no tidings of Him came, they shall see," &c.
23, 24. But now having no more place--"no longer having place"--that is, unbroken ground, where Christ has not been preached.
and having a great desire--"a longing"
these many years to come unto you--(as before,
24. whensoever I take my journey into Spain--Whether this purpose was ever accomplished has been much disputed, as no record of it nor allusion to it anywhere occurs. Those who think our apostle was never at large after his first imprisonment at Rome will of course hold that it never was; while those who are persuaded, as we are, that he underwent a second imprisonment, prior to which he was at large for a considerable time after his first, incline naturally to the other opinion.
I will come to you--If these words were not originally in the text, and there is weighty evidence against them, they must at least be inserted as a necessary supplement.
in my journey, &c.--"as I pass through by you, to be set forward on my journey thither, if first I be somewhat filled with your company": that is, "I should indeed like to stay longer with you than I can hope to do, but I must, to some extent at least, have my fill of your company."
25-27. But now I go to Jerusalem to minister--"ministering"
to the saints--in the sense immediately to be explained.
26. For, &c.--better, "For Macedonia and Achaia have thought good to make a certain contribution for the poor of the saints which are at Jerusalem." (See Acts 24:17 ). "They have thought it good; and their debtors verily they are"; that is, "And well they may, considering what the Gentile believers owe to their Jewish brethren."
27. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also--"they owe it also"
to minister unto them in carnal things--(Compare 1 Corinthians 9:11 , Galatians 6:6 ; and see Luke 7:4 , Acts 10:2 ).
29. And I am sure--"I know"
that . . . I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of Christ--Such, beyond all doubts, is the true reading, the words "of the gospel" being in hardly any manuscripts of antiquity and authority. Nor was the apostle mistaken in this confidence, though his visit to Rome was in very different circumstances from what he expected. See Acts 28:16-31 .
30. Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit--or, "by the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit"--not the love which the Spirit bears to us, but that love which He kindles in the hearts of believers towards each other; that is "By that Saviour whose name is alike dear to all of us and whose unsearchable riches I live only to proclaim, and by that love one to another which the blessed Spirit diffuses through all the brotherhood, making the labors of Christ's servants a matter of common interest to all--I beseech you."
that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me--implying that he had his grounds for anxious fear in this matter.
31. That I may be delivered from them that do not believe--"that do not obey," that is, the truth, by believing it; as in Romans 2:8 .
in Judea--He saw the storm that was gathering over him in Judea, which, if at all, would certainly burst upon his head when he reached the capital; and the event too clearly showed the correctness of these apprehensions.
and that my service which I have for
may be accepted of--"prove acceptable to"
the saints--Nor was he without apprehension lest the opposition he had made to the narrow jealousy of the Jewish converts against the free reception of their Gentile brethren, should make this gift of theirs to the poor saints at Jerusalem less welcome than it ought to be. He would have the Romans therefore to join him in wrestling with God that this gift might be gratefully received, and prove a cement between the two parties. But further.
32. That I may come unto you with--"in"
joy by the will of God--( Acts 18:21 , 1 Corinthians 4:19 , 16:7 , Hebrews 6:3 , 4:15 )
and may with you be refreshed--rather, "with you refresh myself," after all his labors and anxieties, and so be refitted for future service.
33. Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen--The peace here sought is to be taken in its widest sense: the peace of reconciliation to God, first, "through the blood of the everlasting covenant" ( Hebrews 13:20 , 1 Thessalonians 5:23 , 2 Thessalonians 3:16 , Philippians 4:9 ); then the peace which that reconciliation diffuses among all the partakers of it ( 1 Corinthians 14:33 , 2 Corinthians 13:11 ; and more widely still, that peace which the children of God, in beautiful imitation of their Father in Heaven, are called and privileged to diffuse far and wide through this sin-distracted and divided world ( Romans 12:18 , Matthew 5:9 , Hebrews 12:14 , 3:18 ).
Note, (1) Did "the chiefest of the apostles" apologize for writing to a Christian church which he had never seen, and a church that he was persuaded was above the need of it, save to "stir up their pure minds by way of remembrance" ( 2 Peter 1:13 , 3:1 ); and did he put even this upon the sole plea of apostolic responsibility ( Romans 15:14-16 )? What a contrast is thus presented to hierarchical pride, and in particular to the affected humility of the bishop of this very Rome! How close the bond which the one spirit draws between ministers and people--how wide the separation produced by the other! (2) There is in the Christian Church no real priesthood, and none but figurative sacrifices. Had it been otherwise, it is inconceivable that Romans 15:16 should have been expressed as it is. Paul's only priesthood and sacrificial offerings lay, first, in ministering to them as "the apostle of the Gentiles," not the sacrament with the "real presence" of Christ in it, or the sacrifice of the mass, but "the Gospel of God," and then, when gathered under the wing of Christ, presenting them to God as a grateful offering, "being sanctified [not by sacrificial gifts, but] by the Holy Ghost." (See Hebrews 13:9-16 ). (3) Though the debt we owe to those by whom we have been brought to Christ can never be discharged, we should feel it a privilege when we render them any lower benefit in return ( Romans 15:26 Romans 15:27 ). (4) Formidable designs against the truth and the servants of Christ should, above all other ways of counteracting them, be met by combined prayer to Him who rules all hearts and controls all events; and the darker the cloud, the more resolutely should all to whom Christ's cause is dear "strive together in their prayers to God" for the removal of it ( Romans 15:30 Romans 15:31 ). (5) Christian fellowship is so precious that the most eminent servants of Christ, amid the toils and trials of their work, find it refreshing and invigorating; and it is no good sign of any ecclesiastic, that he deems it beneath him to seek and enjoy it even amongst the humblest saints in the Church of Christ ( Romans 15:24 Romans 15:32 ).