|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
15:1-7 Christian liberty was allowed, not for our pleasure, but for the glory of God, and the good of others. We must please our neighbour, for the good of his soul; not by serving his wicked will, and humouring him in a sinful way; if we thus seek to please men, we are not the servants of Christ. Christ's whole life was a self-denying, self-displeasing life. And he is the most advanced Christian, who is the most conformed to Christ. Considering his spotless purity and holiness, nothing could be more contrary to him, than to be made sin and a curse for us, and to have the reproaches of God fall upon him; the just for the unjust. He bore the guilt of sin, and the curse for it; we are only called to bear a little of the trouble of it. He bore the presumptuous sins of the wicked; we are called only to bear the failings of the weak. And should not we be humble, self-denying, and ready to consider one another, who are members one of another? The Scriptures are written for our use and benefit, as much as for those to whom they were first given. Those are most learned who are most mighty in the Scriptures. That comfort which springs from the word of God, is the surest and sweetest, and the greatest stay to hope. The Spirit as a Comforter, is the earnest of our inheritance. This like-mindedness must be according to the precept of Christ, according to his pattern and example. It is the gift of God; and a precious gift it is, for which we must earnestly seek unto him. Our Divine Master invites his disciples, and encourages them by showing himself as meek and lowly in spirit. The same disposition ought to mark the conduct of his servants, especially of the strong towards the weak. The great end in all our actions must be, that God may be glorified; nothing more forwards this, than the mutual love and kindness of those who profess religion. Those that agree in Christ may well agree among themselves.
Verse 1 - Romans 16:24. - IV. SUPPLEMENTARY. (See summary of contents, p. 16.) Questions have been raised and much discussed as to the connection of the last two chapters, 15. and 16, with the rest of the Epistle. The facts and the opinions founded on them may be summarized as follows.
(1) There is sufficient proof that in early times copies of the Epistle existed without these two chapters. The evidence is this -
(a) Origen (on Romans 16:25-27) speaks of some copies in his time being without the concluding doxology, and also without any part of these two chapters, attributing the omission to Marcion, for his own purposes, having mutilated the Epistle. His words are, "Caput hoc (i.e. Romans 16:25-27) Marcion, a quo scripturae evangelicae et apostolicae interpolatae sunt, de hac Epistola penitus abstulit; et non solum hoe, sod ab hoc loco ubi scriptum est, Omne autem quod non ex fide est peccatum est (i.e. Romans 14:23) usque ad finem cuncta dissecuit." Tertullian also ('Contra Marcion') speaks of Marcion having mutilated this Epistle, though not specifying these two chapters.
(b) In Codex Amiatinus (a manuscript of the Latin Bible of the sixth century) there is a prefixed table of contents, referring by numbers to the sections into which the Epistle was divided, and describing the subject of each section. In this table the fiftieth section is thus described: "On the peril of one who grieves his brother by his meat," plainly denoting Romans 14:15-23; and the next and concluding section is described thus: "On the mystery of the Lord kept secret before his Passion, but after his Passion revealed," which description can only refer to the doxology of Romans 16:25-27. Hence it would seem that in some Latin copy of the Epistle to which the table of contents referred, the doxology followed Romans 14:23 with nothing between.
(c) Tertullian, Irenaeus, and Cyprian. who quote largely from the Epistle, have no references to ch. 15. and 16. It may be observed, however, that mere omission to quote is not in itself conclusive, though it may be corroborative of other evidence.
(2) The concluding doxology (Romans 16:25-27), though placed, as in the Textus Receptus, at the end of ch. 16. in the uncials generally and by the Latin Fathers, is found at the end of ch. 14. in the uncial L, in most cursives, in the Greek Lectionaries, and is so referred to by the Greek commentators. Some few manuscripts have it in both places, and some few omit it altogether. Origen also (loc. cit.) says that in some copies of the Epistle which contained ch. 15. and 16, the doxology was placed at the end of ch. 16, and in others at the end of ch. 14.
(3) In one manuscript (G) all mention of Rome in the Epistle is omitted; and in one cursive (47) there is a marginal note to the effect that "some one" (i.e. probably, some commentator) makes no mention of the words ἐν Ρώμῃ either in the interpretation or the text. In view of these facts, it may be held that the Epistle, as first written, ended at ch. 14. with the doxology appended, ch. 15. and 16. (ending at ver. 24 with the usual concluding benediction, "The grace," etc.) having been an addition. Baur, after his manner - and this partly on supposed internal evidence - disputes the two last chapters having been written by St. Paul at all, regarding them as an addition by a later hand. But his reasons are too arbitrary to stand against the authority of existing manuscripts, to say nothing of the internal evidence itself, which really appears to us to tell the other way. Such internal evidence will appear in the course of the Exposition. One view, put forth by Ruckert, and recently supported by Bishop Lightfoot (Journal of Philology, 1871, No. 6), is that St. Paul, having originally written the whole Epistle, including the two chapters, but without the doxology, reissued it at a later period of his life in a shortened form for general circulation, having then appended the doxology. This theory, however, is but a conjecture, put forward as best accounting for all the facts of the case, including that of all mention of Rome having been apparently absent from some copies. This, however, might be accounted for by the Epistle having been issued, after St. Paul's time, in a form suited for general circulation. On the whole, we may take it as probable that the apostle, having first concluded his Epistle with ch. 14. and the doxology, felt himself urged to resume a subject which lay so near his heart, and so appended ch. 15, and then the salutations, etc., in ch. 16, before the letter was sent. This supposition would in itself account for copies of the Epistle having got into circulation without the additions to it. Possibly Marcion took advantage of finding some such copies to deny the genuineness of the two final chapters altogether; and his doing so would be likely to promote circulation of the shorter copies. It will be observed that the Epistle, as a doctrinal treatise practically applied, is complete without the last two chapters; and also that ch. 15, though connected in thought with the end of ch. 14, might be, and indeed reads like, a resumption and further enforce-merit of its ideas. It seems, indeed, as if three appendices, or postscripts, had been added by the apostle; the first ending with the benediction of Romans 15:33; the second (commending Phoebe, who was to be the bearer of the letter, and sending salutations to persons at Rome) with the benediction of Romans 16:20; and the third (which might be added at the last moment) with that of Romans 16:24. All the benedictions are thus accounted for, being the apostle's usual concluding authentications (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:17; Colossians 4:18). As to the proper position of the doxology, if the view last given be correct, its original one would be most naturally at the end of ch. 14; since otherwise the Epistle, as first completed, would have nothing answering to the usual benedictions in conclusion. And though this is not a benediction, but a doxology, embodying in solemn terms the main idea of the preceding treatise, such a conclusion is in keeping with the peculiar character of the Epistle to the Romans. Finally, though uncial authority is decidedly in favour of the position of the doxology at the end of ch. 16, this does not seem to be a sufficient reason for con-eluding it to have been originally there. If there existed anciently two editions, one with, and the other without, the two chapters appended, transcribers of the longer edition would be likely to place the doxology at the end of what they believed to be the true conclusion of the original Epistle. After all, the question cannot be considered as settled. It has been deemed sufficient here to state the main arguments for or against the various views that have been taken. Verses 1-13. - H. Renewed admonition to bear with the weak, enforced by Scripture and the example of Christ. Verses 1-3. - We then (rather, but we, or now we. The δὲ here certainly seems to link this chapter to the preceding section; but it is not inconsistent with the chapter being an addition to a completed letter, of which it takes up the concluding thought) that are strong (St. Paul, here as elsewhere, identifies himself with the more enlightened party) ought (ὀφείλομεν expresses obligation of duty) to bear the infirmities of the weak (cf. Galatians 6:2), and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good (rather, for that which is good) to edification. For Christ also pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. The quotation is from Psalm 69:9; one in which a righteous sufferer under persecution calls on God for deliverance, and to some parts of which even the details of Christ's Passion strikingly correspond. The first part of the verse here quoted, "The zeal of thine house," etc., is applied to him in John 2:17.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
We then that are strong,.... Meaning not only ministers of the Gospel, who are men of strong parts, great abilities, mighty in the Scriptures, valiant for the truth on earth, and pillars in God's house; for though the apostle includes himself, yet not merely as such, but as expressing it to be his duty in common with other Christians; and the rather he does this, to engage them to the practice of it: but the stronger and more knowing part of private Christians are here intended; the Apostle John's young men, who are strong, in distinction from little children, or new born babes, that are at present weaklings; and from fathers who are on the decline of life, and just going off the stage; see 1 John 2:12; when these young men are in the bloom and flower of a profession, in the prime of their judgment, and exercise of grace; who are strong in Christ, and not in themselves, in the grace that is in him, out of which they continually receive; who are strong in the grace of faith, and are established and settled in the doctrine of it; and have a large and extensive knowledge of the several truths of the Gospel; and, among the rest, of that of Christian liberty:
ought to bear the infirmities of the weak; of them that are weak in faith and knowledge, particularly in the knowledge of their freedom from Mosaical observances: their "infirmities" are partly their ignorance, mistakes, and errors, about things indifferent; which they consider and insist on, and would impose upon others, as necessary and obliging; and partly the peevishness and moroseness which they show, the hard words they give, and the rash judgment and rigid censures they pass on their brethren, that differ from them: such persons and their infirmities are to be borne with; they are not to be despised for their weakness; and if in the church, are not to be excluded for their mistakes; and if not members, are not to be refused on account of them; since they arise from weakness, and are not subversive of the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel: they are not to be treated as wicked men, but as weak brethren; and their peevish tempers, morose dispositions and conduct, their hard speeches and censorious expressions, are patiently to be endured; they should be considered as from whence they arise, not from malice and ill will, from a malignant spirit, but from weakness and misguided zeal, for what they take to be in force, when it is abolished: moreover, they are to be complied with in cases not sinful, as the apostle did in circumcising Timothy, Acts 16:3, and purifying himself according to the law, Acts 21:26; and so to the weak he became weak, to gain some, 1 Corinthians 9:22, and therefore could urge this exhortation by his own example with greater force; and which he represents, not only as what would be honourable, and a point of good nature, and as doing a kind action, but as what "ought" to be; what the law of love obliges to, and what the grace of love, which "bears all things", 1 Corinthians 13:7, constrains unto; and which indeed if not done, they that are strong do not answer one end of their having that spiritual strength they have; and it is but complying with the golden rule of Christ, to do as we would be done by, Matthew 7:12,
and not please ourselves: either entertain pleasing thoughts of, and make pleasing reflections on their stronger faith, greater degree of knowledge, superior light and understanding; which being indulged, are apt to excite and encourage spiritual pride and vanity, and generally issue in the contempt of weaker brethren; nor do those things, which are pleasing and grateful to themselves, to the offence and detriment of others; for instance, and which is what the apostle has reference to, to gratify their appetite, by eating such meat as is forbidden by the law of Moses, to the grieving of the weak brethren, wounding their consciences, and destroying their peace; these things should not be done; stronger Christians should deny themselves the use of their Christian liberty in things indifferent, when they cannot make use of it without offence.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ro 15:1-13. Same Subject Continued and Concluded.
1. We then that are strong—on such points as have been discussed, the abolition of the Jewish distinction of meats and days under the Gospel. See on Ro 14:14; Ro 14:20.
ought … not to please ourselves—ought to think less of what we may lawfully do than of how our conduct will affect others.
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