Romans 15
Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Chap. 15:1-13.] Further exhortations to forbearance towards the weak, from the example of Christ (1-3),—and unanimity (4-7) as between Jew and Gentile, seeing that Christ was prophetically announced as the common Saviour of both (8-13).

1.] By ἡμεῖς οἱ δυν. the Apostle includes himself among the strong, as indeed he before indicated, ch. 14:14.

τὰ ἀσθ. are general, not merely referring to the scruples before treated.

ἀρέσκειν (reff.) to please or satisfy as a habit or motive of action. Tholuck quotes from the Schol. on Æsch. Prom. 156, παρʼ ἑαυτῷ δίκαιον ἔχων Ζεύς,—πάντα δικαίως οἰόμενος ποιεῖν, αὐτὸς ἑαυτῷ ἀρέσκων καὶ δίκαιον νομίζων εἶναι ὅπερ ἂν βούληται πράττειν.

2.] The qualification, εἰς τὸ ἀγ. πρὸς οἰκ., excludes all mere pleasing of men from the Christian’s motives of action. The Apostle repudiates it in his own case, Galatians 1:10. Bengel remarks, ‘bonum, genus, ædificatio, species:’—to a good end, and that good end his edification.

3.] ἐξῆν αὐτῷ μὴ ὀνειδισθῆναι, ἐξῆν μὴ παθεῖν ἅπερ ἔπαθεν, εἴγε ἤθελε τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκοπεῖν· ἀλλʼ ὅμως οὐκ ἠθέλησεν, ἀλλὰ τὸ ἡμέτερον σκοπήσας τὸ ἑαυτοῦ παρεῖδε, Chrys. Hom. xxvii. p. 721

The citation is made directly, without any thing to introduce the formula citandi, as in ch. 9:7, where even the formula itself is wanting:—there is no ellipsis. The words in the Messianic Psalm are addressed to the Father, not to those for whom Christ suffered: but they prove all that is here required, that He did not please Himself; His sufferings were undertaken on account of the Father’s good purpose—mere work which He gave Him to do.

4.] The Apostle both justifies the above citation, and prepares the way for the subject to be next introduced, viz. the duty of unanimity, grounded on the testimony of these Scriptures to Christ. The ὅσα προεγρ. applies to the whole ancient Scriptures, not to the prophetic parts only. ἡμετ. viz. of us Christians,—προεγρ. implying πρὸ ἡμῶν.

ἵνα διὰ τ. ὑπ. κ.τ.λ.] τουτέστιν, ἵνα μὴ ἐκπέσωμεν· ποικίλοι γὰρ οἱ ἀγῶνες ἔσωθεν, ἔξωθεν· ἵνα νευρούμενοι κ. παρακαλούμενοι παρὰ τῶν γραφῶν ὑπομονὴν ἐπιδειξώμεθα· ἵνα ἐν ὑπομονῇ ζῶντες μένωμεν ἐπὶ τῆς ἐλπίδος. ταῦτα γὰρ ἀλλήλων ἐστὶ κατασκευαστικά, ἡ ὑπομονὴ τῆς ἐλπίδος, ἡ ἐλπὶς τῆς ὑπομονῆς· ἅπερ ἀμφότερα ἀπὸ τῶν γραφῶν γίνεται, Chrys. ubi supra. As in this comment, ὑπομονῆς, as well as παρακλήσεως, is to be joined with τῶν γραφῶν,—otherwise it stands unconnected with the subject of the sentence. The genitives then mean, the patience and the comfort arising from the Scriptures,—produced by their study.

5, 6.] Further introduction of the subject, by a prayer that God, who has given the Scriptures for these ends, might grant them unanimity, that they might with one accord shew forth His glory. In the title given to God, the ὑπομονή and παράκλησις just mentioned are taken up again: q. d. “The God who alone can give this patience and comfort.”

The later form of the opt., δῴη, is also found 2Timothy 1:16, 2Timothy 1:18; Ephesians 1:17 al., in LXX Genesis 27:28; Genesis 28:4 al. See Winer, edn. 6, § 14.1. g.

κατὰ χρ. Ἰησοῦν, according to (the spirit and precepts of) Christ Jesus,—see reff.

6. τὸν θεὸν κ. πατ.] De Wette regards τὸν θεὸν as independent of Ἰησοῦ χρ.,—‘God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ The usage of the article will not decide the matter, because on either rendering, the accusatives both refer to the same Person: but the ordinary one, the God and Father … is preferable on account of its simplicity.

7.] Wherefore (on which account, viz. that the wish of the last verse may be accomplished) receive (see ch. 14:1) one another, as Christ also received you,—with a view to God’s glory (that this is the meaning of εἰς δόξαν τοῦ θεοῦ, appears by ver. 9, τὰ δὲ ἔθνη ὑπὲρ ἐλέους δοξάσαι τὸν θεόν).

The Apostle does not expressly name Jewish and Gentile converts as those to whom he addresses this exhortation, but it is evident from the next verse that it is so.

8.] For (reason for the above exhortation. This not having been seen, it has been altered to δέ) I say, that Christ hath been made (has come as: the effects still enduring. It can hardly be that the usual historical aorist γενέσθαι (see var. readd.) was altered to the unusual perfect γεγενῆσθαι. The tendency of correction was entirely the other way) a minister (He came διακονῆσαι, Matthew 20:28) of the circumcision (an expression no where else found, and doubtless here used by Paul to humble the pride of the strong, the Gentile Christians, by exalting God’s covenant people to their true dignity) on account of the truth of God (i.e. for the fulfilment of the Divine pledges given under the covenant of circumcision) to confirm the promises of (made to, gen. obj.; cf. ἡ εὐλογία τοῦ Ἀβραάμ, Galatians 3:14) the fathers (i.e. Christ came to the Jews in virtue of a long-sealed compact, to the fulfilment of which God’s truth was pledged): but (I say) that the Gentiles glorified God (or ‘should glorify God:’ Winer, in his former editions, § 45. 8, took it as a perfect, and co-ordinate with γεγενῆσθαι: I would regard it (and so, apparently, Winer now, edn. 6, § 44. 7. c) as the historic aorist, and understand ‘each man at his conversion.’ Least of all can it be subordinated to εἰς τό, as is done in E. V.) on account of (His) mercy (the emphasis is on ὑπὲρ ἐλέους: the Gentiles have no covenant promise to claim,—they have nothing but the pure mercy of God in grafting them in to allege—therefore the Jew has an advantage), &c.

The citations are from the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms. The first, originally spoken by David of his joy after his deliverances and triumphs, is prophetically said of Christ in His own Person. It is adduced to shew that among the Gentiles Christ’s triumphs were to take place, as well as among the Jews.

10.] καὶ πάλ. λέγει, viz. ἡ γραφή, or ὁ θεός, which is in substance the same: not impersonal: see ref. 1 Cor., note.

The present Heb. text of Deuteronomy 32:43 will not bear this, which is the LXX rendering. But Tholuck remarks, “According to the present text the difficulty arises, that we must either take גּוֹיִם of the Jewish tribes, or construe הִרְנִין with an accus., instead of with לְ (Gesen.): the reading of the LXX may therefore be right.” There is however a reading אֶת־עַמּוֹ found in one and perhaps another of Kennicott’s mss. which will bear the rendering of our text. In several passages where the Gentiles are spoken of prophetically, the Hebrew text has apparently been tampered with by the Jews. See Kitto’s Journal of Sacred Literature for January, 1852, pp. 275 ff.

11, 12.] The universality of the praise to be given to God for His merciful kindness in sending His Son is prophetically indicated by the first citation. In the latter a more direct announcement is given of the share which the Gentiles were to have in the root of Jesse. The version is that of the LXX, which here differs considerably from the Heb. The latter is nearly literally rendered in E.V.: “And in that day there shall be a root (Heb. ‘and it shall happen in that day, a branch’) of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people: to it shall the Gentiles seek.”

13.] The hortatory part of the Epistle, as well as the preceding section of it (ver. 5), concludes with a solemn wish for the spiritual welfare of the Roman church.

The words τῆς ἐλπίδος connect with ἐλπιοῦσι of the foregoing verse, as was the case with τῆς ὑπομονῆς κ. τῆς παρακλήσεως in ver. 5.

χαρᾶς κ. εἰρήνης, as the happy result of faith in God, and unanimity with one another; see ch. 14:17.

15:14-16:27.] CONCLUSION OF THE EPISTLE. Personal notices, respecting the Apostle himself (15:14-33),—respecting those greeted (16:1-16), and greeting: together with warnings against those who made divisions among them (16:16-23);—and concluding doxology (16:24-27).

14-33.] He first (14-16) excuses the boldness of his writing, by the allegation of his office as Apostle of the Gentiles.

14.] αὐτὸς ἐγω, I myself, = ‘idem,’ Lat.,—‘notwithstanding what I have written:’ see ch. 7:25, note. Meyer understands it, ‘without information from others:’ Bengel and Olsh., ‘I myself, as well as others:’ Rückert, ‘I not only wish it (ver. 13), but am persuaded for myself that it is so.’

καὶ αὐτοί, ye also yourselves, i.e. without exhortation of mine.

15.] ἀπὸ μέρους restricts the τολμηρότερον to certain parts of the Epistle, e.g. ch. 11:17, ff. 25; chaps. 13 and 14.

ἔγραψα, the dabam or scribebam of the Latins in epistolary writing.

ὡς ἐπαν. ὑμ., as putting you anew in remembrance.

διὰ τ. χάριν …, because of the grace, &c.; i.e. ‘my apostolic office was the ground and reason of my boldness:’—not = διὰ τῆς χάριτος ch. 12:3.

16.] That I might be (εἰς τό gives the purpose of the grace being given, not of the ἔγραψα) a ministering priest of Christ Jesus for (in reference to) the Gentiles, ministering in the Gospel of God (ἱερουργοῦντα, προσφέροντα θυσίαν, : but the εὐαγγέλ. τ. θεοῦ is not the θυσία, but signifies that wherein, in behoof of which, the ἱερουργεῖν took place: so Josephus, de Macc. § 7, speaking of the martyrs for the law, says, τοιούτους δεῖ εἶναι τοὺς ἱερουργοῦντας τὸν νόμον ἰδίῳ αἵματι, καὶ γενναίῳ ἱδρῶτι τοῖς μέχρι θανάτου πάθεσιν ὑπερασπίζοντας), that the offering [up] of the Gentiles (gen. of apposition: the Gentiles themselves are the offering; so Theophyl. αὕτη μοι ἱερωσύνη, τὸ καταγγέλλειν εὐαγγέλιον. μάχαιραν ἔχω τὸν λόγον· θυσία ἐστὲ ὑμεῖς) may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Ghost. The language is evidently figurative, and can by no possibility be taken as a sanction for any view of the Christian minister as a sacrificing priest, otherwise than according to that figure—viz. that he offers to God the acceptable sacrifice of those who by his means believe on Christ. “Facit se antistitem vel sacerdotem in Evangelii ministerio, qui populum, quem Deo acquirit, in sacrificium offerat, atque hoc modo sacris Evangelii mysteriis operetur. Et sane hoc est Christiani pas-toris sacerdotium, homines in Evangelii obedientiam subigendo veluti Deo immolare: non, quod superciliose hactenus Papistæ jactarunt, oblatione homines reconciliare Deo. Neque tamen ecclesiasticos pastores simpliciter hic vocat Sacerdotes, tanquam perpetuo titulo: sed quum dignitatem efficaciamque ministerii vellet commendare Paulus, hac metaphora per occasionem est usus. Hic ergo finis sit Evangelii præconibus in suo munere, animas fide purificatas Deo offerre.” Calvin.

17-22.] The Apostle boasts of the extent and result of his apostolic mission among the Gentiles, and that in places where none had preached before him. I have therefore (consequent on the grace and ministry just mentioned) my boasting (i.e. ‘I venture to boast:’ not = ἔχω καύχημα, ‘I have whereof I may glory,’ as E. V., but, as De W., = ἔχω καυχᾶσθαι, ‘I can, or dare, boast’) in Christ Jesus (there is no stress on ἐν χρ. Ἰης.,—it merely qualifies τὴν καύχησιν as no vain glorying, but grounded in, consistent with, springing from, his relation and subserviency to Christ) of (concerning) matters relating to God (my above-named sacerdotal office and ministry).

18.] The connexion is: ‘I have real ground for glorying (in a legitimate and Christian manner);’ for I will not (as some false apostles do, see 2Corinthians 10:12-18) allow myself to speak of any of those things which (ὧν for ἐκείνων, ἅ, attr.) Christ did not work by me (but by some other) in order to the obedience (subjection to the Gospel) of the Gentiles (then, as if the sentence were in the affirmative form, ‘I will only boast of what Christ has veritably done by me towards the obedience of the Gentiles,’ he proceeds) by word and deed,

19.] in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the [Holy] Spirit (the signs and wonders (reff.) are not spiritual, but external miraculous acts,—see 2Corinthians 12:12), so that (result of the κατειργάσατο) from Jerusalem (the eastern boundary of his preaching) and the neighbourhood (κύκλῳ is not to be joined with μέχρι τ. Ἰλλ. as Calov., al., but refers (reff.) to Jerusalem, meaning perhaps its immediate neighbourhood, perhaps Arabia (?), Galatians 1:17,—but hardly Damascus and Cilicia, as De W. suggests, seeing that they would come into the route afterwards specified, from Jerusalem to Illyricum), as far as Illyricum (Illyricum bordered on Macedonia to the S. It is possible that Paul may literally have advanced to its frontiers during his preaching in Macedonia; but I think it more probable, that he uses it broadly as the ‘terminus ad quem,’ the next province to that in which he had preached), I have fulfilled (ref.:—‘executed my office of preaching,’so that εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ χρ. = τὸ εὐαγγελίζεσθαι τὸν χρ.) the Gospel of Christ.

20.] But (limits the foregoing assertion) thus (after the following rule) being careful (reff.: the word in the Apostle’s usage seems to lose its primary meaning of ‘making a point of honour.’

The particip. agrees with με, ver. 19) to preach the Gospel, not where Christ was (previously) named, that I might not build on the foundation of another, but according as it is written (i.e. according to the following rule of Scripture: I determined to act in the spirit of these words, forming part of a general prophecy of the dispersion of that Gospel which I was preaching), &c. The citation is from the LXX, περὶ αὐτοῦ referring to ὁ παῖς μου, ver. 13, but being unrepresented in the Heb. Our E. V. renders: “That which had not been told them, shall they see: and that which they had not heard, shall they consider.”

22.] διό, not, because a foundation had been already laid at Rome by another: this would refer to merely a secondary part of the foregoing assertion: διό refers to the primary, viz. his having been so earnestly engaged in preaching elsewhere.

τὰ πολλά, these many times: ot [‘for the most part,’ or], as Meyer, Fritz., ‘the greater number of times,’—which would suggest the idea that there had been other occasions on which this hindrance had not been operative.

23.] μηκ. τόπ. ἔχων, I have no more occasion, viz. of apostolic work.

The participial construction prevails throughout, the participles standing as direct verbs. This not having been seen, the words ἐλεύσομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς have been inserted to fill up what seemed an aposiopesis. Now, however, I have no longer any business in these parts, but have had for many years past a desire to see you, whenever (as soon as) I journey into Spain. Respecting the question whether this journey into Spain was ever taken, the views of Commentators have differed, according to their conclusion respecting the liberation of the Apostle from his imprisonment at Rome. I have discussed this in the Prolegg. to the Pastoral Epistles, § ii. The reader may see, on the side of the completion of the journey, Neander, Pfl. u. Leit., Exo_4, pp. 527-552,—and on the other side, Dr. Davidson, Introd. to N. T. vol. ii. pp. 96-132, and Wieseler, Chron. der Apost. Zeitalt., Excursus I., where a copious list of books on both sides is given.

24.] ἀπὸ μέρους is an affectionate limitation of ἐμπλησθῶ, implying that he would wish to remain much longer than he anticipated being able to do,—and also, as Chrys. οὐδεὶς γάρ με χρόνος ἐμπλῆσαι δύναται, οὐδὲ ἐμποιῆσαί μοι κόρον τῆς συνουσίας ὑμῶν.

25.] See Acts 19:21; Acts 24:17; 2Corinthians 8:19.

διακονῶν, not the future, because he treats the whole action as already begun; see reff.

26.] See 2Corinthians 9:1, ff.

κοινων.] See reff.

Olsh. remarks, on τοὺς πτωχοὺς τ. ἁγίων, that this shews the community of goods in the church at Jerusalem not to have lasted long: cf. Galatians 2:10.

27.] The fact is re-stated, with a view to an inference from it, viz. that the εὐδόκησαν was not merely a matter of benevolence, but of repayment: the Gentiles being debtors to the Jews for spiritual blessings. This general principle is very similarly enounced in 1Corinthians 9:11. It is suggested by Grot., al., that by this Paul wished to hint to the Romans the duty of a similar contribution.

28.] καρπόν, hardly, as Calv., al., “proventum quem ex Evangelii satione ad Judæos redire nuper dixit:” more probably said generally,—fruit of the faith and love of the Gentiles.

σφραγισ., ὡς εἰς βασιλικὰ ταμιεῖα ἐναποθέμενος ὡς ἐν ἀσύλῳ κ. ἀσφαλεῖ χωρίῳ, Chrys. Hom. xxx. p. 739.

διʼ ὑμῶν, through your city.

29.] The fulness of the blessing of Christ imports that richness of apostolic grace which he was persuaded he should impart to them. So he calls his presence in the churches a χάρις, 2Corinthians 1:15. See also ch. 1:11.

30-32.] τ. ἀγάπ. τ. πνεύμ., the love shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost;—a love which teaches us to look not only on our own things, but on the things of others.

συναγων.] “Ipse oret oportet, qui alios vult orare secum. Orare, agon est, præsertim ubi homines resistunt.” Bengel.

31.] Compare Acts 20:22; Acts 21:10-14. The exceeding hatred in which the Apostle was held by the Jews, and their want of fellow-feeling with the Gentile churches, made him fear lest even the ministration with which he was charged might not prove acceptable to them.

32.] διὰ θελ. θεοῦ = ἐὰν ὁ κύριος θελήσῃ, 1Corinthians 4:19: otherwise in reff.

[κ. συναν. ὑμ., and may refresh myself together with you;—i.e. ‘that we may mutually refresh ourselves, I after my dangers and deliverance, you after your anxieties for me.’ But the text is in some confusion.]

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