Romans 15:18-23

18 Yet I dare not boast about anything except what Christ has done through me, bringing the Gentiles to God by my message and by the way I worked among them.
19 They were convinced by the power of miraculous signs and wonders and by the power of God’s Spirit. In this way, I have fully presented the Good News of Christ from Jerusalem all the way to Illyricum.
20 My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else.
21 I have been following the plan spoken of in the Scriptures, where it says, “Those who have never been told about him will see, and those who have never heard of him will understand.”
22 In fact, my visit to you has been delayed so long because I have been preaching in these places.
23 But now I have finished my work in these regions, and after all these long years of waiting, I am eager to visit you.

Romans 15:18-23 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO ROMANS 15

The apostle in this chapter pursues his exhortation to mutual affection and forbearance, notwithstanding their different sentiments about the use of meats, and observation of days; excuses his writing so freely to them, which they might bear with, in consideration of his being an apostle, especially an apostle of the Gentiles, and which office he magnified and fulfilled everywhere; gives them the reasons why he had not as yet been with them though he greatly desired it, encourages them to expect, a visit from him; and concludes with earnestly entreating them that he might have a share in their prayers: and first, as an inference from what he had said in the preceding chapter, he lays it down as a duty incumbent on himself, and all that were strong in the doctrine of Christian liberty, to bear with the infirmities of weak Christians, and not please themselves, but others, Ro 15:1, which he enforces, from the usefulness of it, it being for the good and edification of others, Ro 15:2, and from the example of Christ, who pleased not himself, Ro 15:3, and which is proved from a passage of Scripture in Ps 69:9, the pertinency of which passage, and the citation and application of it to Christ and the present case, are vindicated from this consideration, that whatever was written in former times, was for the use of the saints under the Gospel dispensation, Ro 15:4, and that the exhortation might have its effect upon them, be puts up a prayer to God for them, that such a temper of mind might be in them, which would be for the glory of God, Ro 15:5,6, and then he repeats his exhortation, Ro 15:7, that they would affectionately receive one another; which he urges by the example of Christ, who had received them to the glory of God; and that they might glorify him, and this was one way of doing it: and that this argument might have the greater weight with both parties, he observes, that Jesus Christ had a special regard to the Jews, and was their minister, sent unto them to fulfil the promises made unto their fathers, and had received them; and therefore though they were weak, they were not to be despised, grieved, and offended, Ro 15:8, and as for the Gentiles, it was a clear case that God had had long ago a design of mercy to them, and that they were to be, and were now received by Christ, and so under obligation to glorify God for his mercy; and therefore not to be judged and condemned, though they did not conform to the ceremonial law; and this he proves in Ro 15:9-12, from several passages of Scripture in \Ps 18:49 De 32:43 Ps 117:1\ Isa 11:10, and closes this argument he had so long insisted on with a prayer to God for them, that they might be in the exercise of faith and hope; and, in the exercise of those graces, be filled with joy and peace, Ro 15:13, and in order to prevent an objection that might be made to these prayers and exhortations of his, that they suggested that they were wicked and ignorant men, devoid of affection, and knew not how to behave to each other, nor to exhort one another, the apostle softens such a resentment, by calling them brethren, and by expressing his persuasion of their abundant goodness, knowledge, and abilities, Ro 15:14, and excuses the freedom he took with them by observing, that he only acted the part of a monitor, Ro 15:15, and the rather this freedom might be allowed him, on account of the great gifts bestowed upon him, qualifying him to be an apostle of Christ; and especially as he was an apostle of the Gentiles and so their apostle, Ro 15:16, and on account of his office, gifts, and usefulness, he had reason to glory; though through Christ only, and in things relating to God, and not himself, Ro 15:17, when he takes an occasion to enlarge on his ministry, and magnify his office; partly from the end and success of it, bringing the Gentiles to the obedience of Christ, Ro 15:18, and partly from the means and causes of such success the preaching of the word, working miracles, and the power of the Holy Ghost; and from the extent of it, reaching from Jerusalem to Illyricum, Ro 15:19, and from the difficulty which attended it, he preaching in places where the Gospel was never preached before, and which he chose to do, Ro 15:20, and which was necessary to be done, according to a prophecy in Isa 52:15, which he cites, Ro 15:21, and observes, that it was his preaching in these many and distant parts that was the reason of his not having been with the saints at Rome, Ro 15:22, but now gives them reason to expect his coming; partly because he had finished his travels in those countries, and partly because of the vehement desire he had to see them, Ro 15:23, and besides, an opportunity seemed to be offering, he intending to take a journey to Spain, when it would lie in his way to come to Rome, and be for his advantage, Ro 15:24, in the mean while he informs them what he was engaged in, to carry the contribution of the Macedonian and Asian churches to Jerusalem, for the poor saints there, Ro 15:25, on which contributions he enlarges, showing not only who made them, and for whom, but the source and spring of them, they arose from their good will and pleasure, Ro 15:26, and yet they were debtors, and under obligation to do what they did; it was but a piece of justice and equity, since those churches had received of the spiritual things of the Jews, Ro 15:27, and as for his coming to them, he acquaints them of the time that it would be, when he had finished the above service and labour of love, and when he should come into Spain, as he had before signified, Ro 15:28, and of the manner in which he should come, of which he was fully persuaded, as that it would be with the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ, Ro 15:29, and then with great importunity desires them to pray for him, and that very earnestly, Ro 15:30, particularly that he might be delivered from his enemies in Judea, and that the saints there would accept of what he brought them from the Gentiles, Ro 15:31, and that, if it was the will of God, he might come to them and be refreshed with them, Ro 15:32, and then closes the chapter with a salutation of them, or a wish that the God of peace might be with them, Ro 15:33.

Romans 15:18-23 In-Context

16 I am a special messenger from Christ Jesus to you Gentiles. I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit.
17 So I have reason to be enthusiastic about all Christ Jesus has done through me in my service to God.
18 Yet I dare not boast about anything except what Christ has done through me, bringing the Gentiles to God by my message and by the way I worked among them.
19 They were convinced by the power of miraculous signs and wonders and by the power of God’s Spirit. In this way, I have fully presented the Good News of Christ from Jerusalem all the way to Illyricum.
20 My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else.
21 I have been following the plan spoken of in the Scriptures, where it says, “Those who have never been told about him will see, and those who have never heard of him will understand.”
22 In fact, my visit to you has been delayed so long because I have been preaching in these places.
23 But now I have finished my work in these regions, and after all these long years of waiting, I am eager to visit you.
24 I am planning to go to Spain, and when I do, I will stop off in Rome. And after I have enjoyed your fellowship for a little while, you can provide for my journey.
25 But before I come, I must go to Jerusalem to take a gift to the believers there.

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Other manuscripts read the Spirit; still others read the Holy Spirit.
  • [b]. Illyricum was a region northeast of Italy.
  • [c]. Isa 52:15 (Greek version).
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