Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.Ch. Romans 15:1-7. The same subject: the Lord’s example in the matter
1. We then, &c.] This chapter and the next have been suspected and discussed by some foreign critics, as either (a) out of place—written by St Paul, but not originally for Roman Christians; or (b) as being, in whole or part, later additions to the Epistle. It is not too much to say of these theories, (as Meyer says of one of them, in his long prefatory note to this chapter), that “they result from assumptions and combinations which are either purely arbitrary, or lack, in the exposition of details, all solid ground and support.” The connexions of thought between cch. 14 and 15, and between passage and passage to the close of the Epistle, are either so obviously or so minutely natural, that the most difficult of all literary theories is that which accounts for them by designing imitation or accidental addition. Such things, seventeen or eighteen centuries ago, not to speak of the present day, were practically sure to betray themselves by manifest and startling incongruities.—See further, Introduction, ii. § 3.
We then that are strong] Lit. We then [that are] the able. The word rendered “able” is the same word as that rendered “mighty” in E. V. of e.g. Luke 24:19; Acts 18:24; 1 Corinthians 1:26; and “strong” in E. V. of 2 Corinthians 12:10. It seems to convey the thought of strength and something more; the resources and opportunities of strength. Able thus best represents it. Bp Lightfoot (on Php 2:15) suggests that it may have been a favourite title for themselves amongst the persons here contemplated; and so that there is irony in its use here.—“Then:”—lit. but, or now. The word marks an added fact or argument. The connexion of thought with the close of ch. 14 is manifest.
ought] We owe it to Him who has set us free.
to bear] Lit. to carry; i.e. as a burthen, a trial, which needs patience. Same word as Revelation 2:2-3.
the weak] Lit. the unable; in contrast to “the able” just above. Same word as Acts 14:8, (E. V. “impotent.”)
Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.2. for his good to edification] These words taken together perfectly define the principle of Christian complaisance. Cp. 1 Corinthians 10:33, and contrast Galatians 1:10, where St Paul treats the case of radically false doctrine, not, as here, a question of secondary practice.—“Edification:”—see on Romans 14:19. The Christian’s aim in “pleasing his neighbour” was to be the harmony, advance, and strength, of the “blessed company of the faithful” as a united aggregate.
For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.3. For even Christ] Here first in the Epistle St Paul explicitly quotes the Lord’s Example. He soon repeats the reference, Romans 15:7. The main burthen of the Epistle has been His Sacrifice; but the more the Sacrifice is apprehended, the more powerful will the Example be felt to be. It will emphatically be “not merely a model, but a motive.”
pleased not himself] “Not My will, but Thine be done.”
To Messiah Himself, as to His people, suffering was in itself “not joyous, but grievous;” and, in that sense, it was against His will. The doing of His Father’s will involved sufferings; and in those sufferings He “pleased not Himself,” while yet He unutterably “delighted to do the will of Him that sent Him.” (Psalm 40:8; John 4:34.)
as it is written] Psalms 69 (LXX. 68):9. The quotation is verbatim with LXX.—It has been doubted whether we are meant in this passage to view the Saviour as preferring the Father’s pleasure, or Man’s salvation, to His “own will.” The context (Romans 15:1-2) favours the latter; the words of the quotation favour the former. But as the two objects were inseparable in our Lord’s work, both may well be in view here. His “bearing reproach” was the necessary path, alike to “finishing His Father’s work,” and to saving the lost.
Does not St Paul here allude specially to the conflict of Gethsemane, and to the outrages which our Lord patiently bore just afterwards? He had scarcely said “Thy will be done,” when the awful “reproaches” of His night of shame and insult began.
reproached thee] God was “reproached” in effect, by those who, while claiming to act in His Name, were teaching and practising all that was alien to His love and holiness.—Such persons, when they beheld His true Likeness in His Son, inevitably hated and rejected it.
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.4. For whatsoever things, &c.] St Paul takes occasion from his last quotation to state a great principle; namely, that the O. T. was throughout designed for the instruction and establishment of N. T. believers. “Our,” just below, is emphatic.
On the principle, cp. 2 Timothy 3:15-17. It is almost needless to remark on the witness borne to the O. T. in such passages as this.
aforetime] Before our time; under the Elder Dispensation.
learning] i.e. teaching. Cp. Prayer-Book Version of Psalm 25:8; “them shall He learn His way;” and the present use of “learnèd” as an adjective.
through patience, &c.] Lit. through the patience and the comfort of the Scriptures may have the hope.—“The hope” is not hope in general, but the special hope of glory through Christ. (ch. Romans 5:2)—“The patience, &c. of the Scriptures” is the patience and comfort taught by the Scriptures, whether in precept or example. Here, for instance, the Lord’s blessed “patience,” His unwearied bearing of the burthen He had undertaken, forms, both in itself and as an example, a part of the “comfort” of His followers. (Cp. 1 Peter 2:19-21; 1 Peter 4:13.) It cheers them on to tread in His track; to “gird up the loins of their mind;” to “hope to the end.”
On the word “patience,” see on ch. Romans 5:3.
Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:5. Now the God of patience, &c.] Lit. of the patience, &c.; i.e. that now in question.—Here is a subtle and beautiful sequence of thought. From patience and comfort, and the hope of glory, St Paul passes at once to the duty of affectionate unanimity. The stronger was the sense of peace and hope in each individual believer, the more would the believing community be lifted above the bitterness and littleness of secondary controversies. Cp. perhaps Colossians 1:4-5; “the love which ye have to all the saints, by reason of the hope laid up for you in heaven.”
according to Christ Jesus] As taught by His precept and example.
That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.6. that ye may—glorify God] Whose praise is the ultimate aim of all His gifts to His people. Cp. on Romans 11:33-36.—See, on the holy unanimity enjoined here, Php 3:15-16.
God, even the Father] Far better, the God and Father. Same words as 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3. See John 20:17; Hebrews 1:8-9.
Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.7. receive ye, &c.] See on Romans 14:1. Cp. Colossians 3:13.
as Christ also received us] “He receiveth sinners,” to be His “brethren.”—Better, perhaps, received you.
to the glory of God] Christ received us “to the praise of the glory of His Father’s grace;” Ephesians 1:6. But possibly a comma should stand after “received us:” q. d., “receive one another, (as Christ received us;) for this will, by its holy effects, bring praise to God.” This certainly fits the context somewhat more closely; see Romans 15:6.
Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:8. Now I say] Better, on documentary evidence, For I say. St Paul here expounds the words “Christ received you,” by shewing the bearing of the Lord’s Work on the salvation alike of Jewish and Gentile believers. And in so doing he reminds the two Sections of the holy Bond in which they stood united.
Jesus Christ] Better, simply, Christ.
a minister of the circumcision] i.e. One who came to serve the circumcision; to labour for Israel. See His own words, Matthew 15:24.
St Paul mentions first the Lord’s work for Israel, then His work for the Gentiles. Cp. Romans 1:16.
for the truth of God] for the sake of it; to secure its vindication. “The Truth” had foretold that the Redeemer should be of the seed of Abraham, Judah, David.
to confirm] By being their Fulfilment.
8–13. The Lord’s example enforced by a view of the equal bearing of His work on Jewish and Gentile believers
And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.9. and] Lit. but. A slight contrast or correction is implied; “to confirm indeed the promise given to Israel, but also to bring in mercy for the Gentiles.”
for his mercy] Lit. for mercy. The word “mercy” is here used, perhaps, with reference to the previous position of the Gentiles as “strangers from” an explicit “covenant of promise.” (Ephesians 2:12)—Cp. however Romans 11:32 for the real equality of mercy in all cases of salvation.
For this cause, &c.] Psalms 18 (LXX. 17):49. Verbatim with LXX., only omitting the word “Lord.”
St Paul interprets the ver. as ultimately fulfilled in Messiah, and as foretelling that He, as Saviour, shall rejoice among the Gentiles as the saved.
And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.10. he saith] Or, better. it saith; i.e. the Scripture.
Rejoice, &c.] Deuteronomy 32:43. Verbatim with LXX. The word “with” is not in the Hebrew Received Text; which may be rendered either “Praise His people, ye nations,” (i.e. congratulate them on His saving goodness;) or “Rejoice, ye nations”, who are His people.” In either case the prophecy indicates, (what is the Apostle’s meaning here,) that the “nations” shall have cause for sacred gladness in connexion with the Covenant of Israel.
And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.11. Praise the Lord, &c.] Psalms 117 (LXX. 116):1. Nearly verbatim with LXX. See Romans 15:2 of the Psalm, where the steadfastness of the “mercy” and the “truth” of God is given as the cause of the praise.
laud him, &c.] Perhaps better, (with another reading,) let all the peoples laud Him.
And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.12. a root] Lit. the root. The quotation is from Isaiah 11:10 : verbatim with LXX. The Heb. reads, “It shall come to pass … the root of Jesse, which standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto it (or Him) shall the Gentiles seek.” Here the LXX. forms a sufficient rendering of the substance of the Heb.
trust] Lit. hope.
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.13. the God of hope] Lit. of the hope; i.e. of our hope, the special hope in question; the Christian’s hope of glory. So just below, that ye may abound in the hope.
St Paul takes up the last word of the last quotation, and applies it in this expression of holy and loving desire. He ceases now to speak of controversy, and looks joyfully heavenward. On the whole ver., cp. ch. Romans 5:1-5.
in believing] The word seems to sum up the great argument of the Epistle. Here closes its course of explicit Instruction, whether concerning Doctrine or Practice. The remainder is devoted to personal and other incidental topics. Meyer calls the passage, Romans 15:14-33, the “Epilogue” of the Epistle.
And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.14–21. Commendation of the Christian maturity of the Roman believers: yet St Paul writes to them with the authority of the commissioned and laborious Apostle of the Gentiles
14. And] Lit., and better, Now; the word of transition.
I myself also] i.e. as well as others, by whom “your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world;” (Romans 1:8).
In this verse and the next we have an echo, as it were, of Romans 1:8; Romans 1:11-12; Romans 1:15. What St Paul says here is in no insincere diplomatic compliment, but the well-grounded conviction of his mind as to the Roman Christians as a body. And it is quite in harmony with the substance and tone of the Epistle, which is evidently written for those who were no novices in Christian doctrine, and who were also comparatively free from such faults of Christian practice as defiled, for instance, the Corinthian Church. He wrote to them as he had written just because they were in a state of spiritual vigour and maturity. Perhaps too, he instinctively expresses this conviction the more strongly, because he is writing to the Church of the imperial Metropolis, the mighty Centre of influence. See on Romans 1:15.
ye also] As truly as your Teacher can be.
full] Lit. brimful. Same word as Romans 1:29.
goodness] Same word as Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:11. It is “excellence” in a wide sense.
Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God,15. I have written] Lit. I wrote; the “epistolary past.”
the more boldly] Lit. more boldly; i.e., in our idiom, somewhat boldly.
in some sort] More lit., and better, in part; i.e. here and there. He refers to occasional passages such as Romans 6:17-21, Romans 9:19-20, Romans 11:19-21; Romans 11:14.
as putting you in mind] Of what, as regards substance and principle, they already knew. Such is evidently the tone of both the doctrinal and practical passages of the Epistle, taken as a whole. Cp. 2 Peter 1:12-13; 2 Peter 3:1.
the grace] i.e. the loving favour which had made him an Apostle. Cp. Romans 1:5, and especially Ephesians 3:2-3; Ephesians 3:7-8. St Paul’s deep and beautiful personal humility is in sincere harmony with his distinct knowledge and firm assertion of his Divine commission.
That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.16. the minister] The Gr. word (not the same as that in e.g. Romans 15:8,) is the original of our word liturgy; and is the same as in Romans 13:6; Php 2:25; Hebrews 1:7; Hebrews 8:2; &c. The word in Biblical Greek has a frequent sacerdotal reference; which is certainly present here, as the rest of the verse shews. For the word rendered “ministering” just below is lit. “doing priest’s-work with;” and it is followed, in the next clause, by “the offering-up of the Gentiles.” The whole passage is strikingly pictorial and figurative; representing the Gospel as the sacerdotal rule; the Apostle as the sacrificing priest; and the converts from heathenism as the victims of the sacrifice. A passage of somewhat similar imagery is Php 2:17, where the Gr. of “service” is kindred to the Gr. of “minister” here. There (in Bp Lightfoot’s words) “the Philippians are the priests; their faith (or their good works springing from their faith) is the sacrifice; St Paul’s life-blood the accompanying libation.”
It is clear that the Apostle here speaks of himself as a Sacrificer in a sense wholly figurative; and this passage and Romans 1:9 (where see note,) are the only examples of his application of the sacrificial idea, in even a figurative sense, to himself. Dr Hodge remarks that we here see the true nature of the priesthood which belongs to the Christian ministry: “It is by the preaching of the Gospel to bring men to offer themselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.” See Romans 12:1.
the offering up of the Gentiles] i.e. the offering which consists of the Gentiles; the Gentiles, as “yielding themselves to God” to be His dedicated servants. For the phraseology, cp. Hebrews 10:10.
being sanctified by the Holy Ghost] Lit. having been sanctified in the Holy Ghost. His Divine grace was, so to speak, the water in which the sacrifice was washed; it alone made the self-dedication real, and therefore acceptable.
I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God.17. I have therefore, &c.] Lit., with the best reading, I have therefore my exultation in Christ Jesus as to things God-ward. The words “I have” are slightly emphatic, indicating the reality of his commission, labours, and success; and so the reality of his right to speak as a Teacher to the Roman Christians.
glory] He exults in the “grace given to him,” (Romans 15:15-16), and in its results (Romans 15:19).
through] Lit., and better, in. It is as in union with Christ that he labours, and so his exultation is “in Christ.”
For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed,18. For I will not dare, &c.] This ver. may be paraphrased, “To justify this exultation, I need not presumptuously intrude on the work of others, putting in a false claim to credit for that work: I need only speak of what Christ has done through my personal efforts, both of preaching and miracle, in bringing Gentile converts to Him, &c.” The sentence evidently glides from the negative to the positive in the course of this verse.
which Christ hath—wrought] St Paul recognizes the Saviour as the personal and present Worker. Cp. Matthew 28:20, and the suggestive words (Acts 1:1) “all that Jesus began to do and teach”—as if His doing and teaching continued in the work of His messengers. Cp. also 1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 2:20.
me] Emphatic in the Greek.
obedient] To the Gospel. See on Romans 10:3.
deed] Specially (see next verse) deeds of miracle. Cp. Acts 13:9-12; Acts 14:8-10; Acts 15:12; Acts 16:18; Acts 19:11-12; Acts 20:10-12; Acts 28:3-9. St Paul elsewhere distinctly claims miraculous gifts, 1 Corinthians 14:18; 2 Corinthians 12:12. In his life and teaching, as in the whole of Scripture, the natural and the supernatural are inextricably interwoven: the strongest reality of practical plans and efforts, and the most vigorous reasonings, stand linked with open references to, and cogent proofs of, the special presence around him of “the powers of the world to come.”
Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.19. through mighty signs, &c.] Lit., and better, in the might of signs and wonders, in the might of the Spirit of God. The second clause seems to explain the first; q. d., “and that might was not mine, but of the Spirit.”—The “might of signs, &c.” is the might (of influence and effect) resulting from the display of miracle.
signs and wonders] Same words as Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; John 4:48; Acts 2:19; Acts 2:22; Acts 15:12, &c.; 2 Corinthians 12:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Hebrews 2:4. There is, no doubt, a difference of precise meaning between the two words; but taken together they are a summary phrase for supernatural works of all kinds.
from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum] These words are interpreted by some, “from Jerusalem, and thence in a circuitous track to Illyricum.” But the Gr. more properly means, “from Jerusalem and its surroundings even to Illyricum.” The “surroundings” of Jerusalem would be (1) Judæa, where St Paul did a work known only from Acts 26:20; and (2) neighbouring regions, as Syria, and perhaps “Arabia;” (Galatians 1:17 : but see Introduction, i. § 8 not). St Paul’s work really began at Damascus; but Jerusalem was his most distant centre of operations.—Acts 13-19 forms the best comment on this verse.
 note Arabia, however, was then a largely inclusive term. Some have explained St Paul’s absence in Arabia as if it were a first missionary effort; but the context in Galatians 1 points rather to an occasion of Divine intercourse and revelations.
Illyricum] The Acts contains no mention of Illyricum; and some commentators doubt whether St Paul did more than approach it. But Meyer rightly says that, if so, this verse would be tainted with just that boastfulness (Grossthuerei) which was so earnestly renounced in Romans 15:18. The narrative of the Acts is manifestly a selection; and see Acts 20:1-2 for a suggestion of the possible time of this visit. (See Introduction i. § 22).
Illyricum was “an extensive district lying along the E. coast of the Adriatic, from the boundary of Italy on the N. to Epirus on the S., and contiguous to Mœsia and Macedonia on the East.” It was divided “into two portions, Illyris Barbara, the northern, and Illyris Græca, the southern. Within these limits was included Dalmatia.” (Smith’s Dict. Bibl.) Illyricum thus included the whole or parts of the modern Croatia, Dalmatia, Bosnia, Monte , and Albania.
fully preached] Lit. fulfilled. Meyer well compares Acts 6:7, &c., “the word of God increased;” i.e. in extent of influence. So here, St Paul “fulfilled” the whole possible scope of the Gospel-message, in point of geographical space, in the direction taken by his work. A fair paraphrase would thus be, “I have carried the Gospel everywhere.”—The idea of unreserved doctrinal faithfulness (for which see Acts 20:20; Acts 20:27), is not suggested by the context here, where the emphasis is on extent of area.
Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:20. Yea, so have I strived] Better, But jealously striving so, &c. The “but” adds a qualifying additional fact; that his line and area of action were determined, in a measure, by his aim to work only in untouched regions. This is partly to explain why, with all his vast range of travel, he had not yet visited Rome.—“Jealously striving:”—the Gr. verb indicates an effort in which personal desires and principles are kept in view. St Paul made it a point of honour to be a pioneer in his missionary work; not with a selfish love of éclat, but because his devotion to his Master took this peculiar line, very probably under Divine suggestions.
lest I should build, &c.] He avoided this, probably, both from consciousness of the vastness of untouched heathendom, and from scrupulous avoidance of needless discord on secondary points.—For similar imagery, see 1 Corinthians 3:10.
But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.21. but as it is written, &c.] There is, obviously, an ellipsis. Q. d., “I have made it my principle to preach, not where Christ was named, but where that prediction would be verified—‘To whom He was not spoken of, &c.’ ” The quotation is from Isaiah 52:15, verbatim with LXX., which paraphrases the Heb. The whole passage refers to the great Servant of the Lord, and to the effects of His work, and of the “report” of Him, on “nations” and “kings.”
For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.22–33. His work has hitherto kept him from personal visits to Rome: now it will lead him to the city: but first he must go to Jerusalem, on business of the Church. He requests prayer
22. I have been much hindered] Better, I was hindered for the most part; i.e. hindrances outweighed facilities: he was more hindered than furthered by his active movements.
from coming to you] See Acts 19:21 for St Paul’s fixed purpose to visit Rome.
But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you;23. place] Evidently in the sense of opportunity.
parts] regions. Same word as 2 Corinthians 11:10; Galatians 1:21. He means, probably, in a large sense, Roman Europe east of the Adriatic; in which he had now “fulfilled” the Gospel.
a great desire] The Gr. is the word that would be used of homesickness, or the like affectionate longings. See Romans 1:11.
Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company.24. take my journey] Lit., simply, travel. The Gr. does not, as the E. V. (“my journey”) may seem to do, imply that this was a journey previously expected at Rome. But on the other hand it is almost certain that it was more or less definitely expected, considering that St Paul had such intimate friends (and no doubt correspondents) at Rome as Aquila and Priscilla.
into Spain] Gr. Spania. The form Hispania is also found in Greek; Spania never in Latin. The far commoner Greek name of the Peninsula is Iberia.
On the question whether this journey ever took place, see Introduction, i. § 31. See also on Romans 1:10; Romans 1:13.
I will come to you] There is much documentary evidence against this clause, though it is not absolutely conclusive. The words are needful to the sense; and, if they are interpolated, we have here a strong example of St Paul’s elliptical style: he leaves the statement of his intention to be inferred from the words of Romans 15:22.
to see you] The Gr. verb naturally implies a deliberate beholding, as of one admitted to a spectacle. Cp. Colossians 2:5.
in my journey] Lit. travelling through. He would not make a long stay at Rome, because there “Christ had been already named.” He little anticipated the “two years in his private lodging.” (Acts 28:30.)
to be brought on my way] Perhaps some of the Roman Christians might accompany him to Spain.
by you] A better reading gives, from you.
somewhat] Lit. in part. He affectionately implies that the intercourse must be far shorter than his wishes; but that what enjoyment of it he can secure, he will.
filled] As a faint and hungry traveller with welcome food, which sends him on refreshed. “Ch. Romans 1:12 furnishes the commentary to this word.” (Meyer.)
with your company] Lit. with you.
But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.25. I go unto Jerusalem] See Acts 19:21; Acts 24:17.
to minister] i.e. to carry temporal relief. He gives a good, because wholly unselfish, reason for the new delay of his visit to Rome.—This very journey to Jerusalem was in fact, in God’s purpose, his way to Rome.
For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.26. For it hath pleased, &c.] Lit. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased. (The tense is aor., perhaps here an “epistolary past.”) The verb rendered “were pleased” implies, as E. V. also does, not only a voluntary act but the act of a superior; in the sense in which the giver of bounty is the superior party. It is no doubt chosen as a word of gentle irony, to be used further in the next sentence.
“Macedonia and Achaia” are the personification of the Churches of Greece, North and South.
a contribution] Lit. a communion. The giver communicates, or shares his store, with the receiver.—The word is kindred to the Gr. of “distributing,” Romans 12:13.
For this same Collection, see 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, where incidentally we see the Apostle’s own influence, methodical care, and high sense of honour, at work in the matter. See too 2 Corinthians 8:1-14; 2 Corinthians 9:1-15, for beautiful examples of appeal in this same matter to “Achaia” and to “Macedonia” respectively.
On this passage as a note of chronology, see Introduction, ii. § 1.
for the poor saints] Lit., and better, for the poor among the saints. The Christians at Jerusalem were not all poor, but included an unusually large proportion of poor, apparently, among them. Doubtless the special influences of the Capital of Pharisaism kept Christian artizans at a great disadvantage in matter of employment.
It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.27. It hath pleased them verily] Lit. For they were pleased; an exact repetition of the first words of Romans 15:26; a note of kindly irony. St Paul was far from thinking with real coldness of these gifts of Christian love: see 2 Corinthians 8, 9.
and their debtors they are] “Debtors” is emphatic. The two reasons stand side by side; the givers’ goodwill, and their duty.
For if the Gentiles, &c.] Lit. For if (or as) the Gentiles shared in their spiritual things, they are bound even in fleshly things to serve them.—“Even in fleshly things:”—i.e., as well as in spiritual things. Such should be their gratitude as to think no service, however earthly its guise, beneath them.—“To serve them:”—the verb is cognate with the Gr. of “minister,” Romans 15:16; where see note. It is significant here: the Gentiles should look on their charitable gifts as a solemn and sacred service, as at an altar.
When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.28. sealed] The metaphor is from a solemn ratification. St Paul, handing over to the Church at Jerusalem the “fruit,” or proceeds, of the Macedonian and Achaian collections, would thereby finally attest it to be now the full property of the receivers: he would put the seal of their ownership upon it.—Meyer suggests that the word indicates also the solemn close of his apostolic work in the East. It is not clear, however, that he would view the transition from the E. to the W. of the Adriatic as a wholly peculiar crisis.
And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.29. And I am sure] Lit. But, or now, I know.—This “knowledge” was abundantly justified by the event.
in the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ] The words “of the Gospel” must be omitted.—He is sure that he will come attended by the “fulness,” the full range and variety, of “Christ’s benediction;” which would so rest on the visit as to make it in every way happy and helpful both to the Romans and the Apostle.
Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;30. Now I beseech you, &c.] For similar requests for prayer, see 2 Corinthians 1:11; Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 4:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2. For the language of the request (“strive together, &c.”) cp. Colossians 2:1-2; Colossians 4:12.
the love of the Spirit] i.e. the love of saints for saints, awakened by the Divine Spirit who “sheds abroad the love of God in their hearts.”—The words admit the explanation: “the love which the Spirit bears to us;” but the want of a distinct Scripture parallel for such language makes it the less probable explanation. For a similar appeal at once to the Saviour’s Name and to holy spiritual affections, cp. Php 2:1; Php 2:5.
That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints;31. that I may be delivered, &c.] This prayer was granted, though not in the way expected. See Acts 21:31-32; Acts 23:12-24; Acts 25:2-4; Acts 25:12.—The words here (cp. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2,) are among the many proofs of St Paul’s naturally anxious and sensitive character, and that his faith and zeal had always this secret obstacle to struggle with. His life-long victory is the more admirable, and the more illustrates Divine grace.
accepted of the saints] This seems to indicate his consciousness that some of the Christians of Jerusalem bore a prejudice against his person. (Cp. Acts 21:20-21.) Otherwise, this would scarcely be named as a matter for “striving” prayer.
That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.32. that I may come unto you, &c.] His coming might be hindered either by violence from “the unbelieving,” or by revivals of controversy and prejudice among “the saints;” and the latter would also grievously mar the “joy” of his visit to Rome when at length that visit was made.—Here again the event forms a remarkable commentary. St Paul was permitted to come “with joy” (see Acts 28:15-16, and cp. Php 1:12; Php 1:18,) to Rome, and to spend there a time of even unusual opportunity and influence; but the unforeseen circumstances of his imprisonment were to lead to this.
“Thus God grants prayer, but in His love
Makes times and ways His own.”
by the will of God] As exercised in answer to your prayer.
may with you be refreshed] Lit. may with you repose; (same word as 1 Corinthians 16:18; 2 Corinthians 7:13;) a beautiful metaphor for the refreshment of holy intercourse in the midst of toil and care.—Cp. Romans 1:12.—The “repose” would come in “the mutual communication of faith, inner experiences, love, hope, &c.” (Meyer.)
Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.33. the God of peace] So also Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 14:33; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Php 4:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:20. In some of these passages, the Sacred Title indicates the peace of reconciliation (ch. Romans 5:1) with which God regards His people; in others, the peace of outward quiet or inward concord which He grants to them. Here, probably, we have the latter meaning. St Paul is led to think of the precious gift of rest and calm both by the dangers he is about to face in Judæa, and by the loving intercourse for which he looks at Rome.
It is quite needless to take this verse as an intended close to the Epistle. We may be sure that some personal greetings must have been all along in St Paul’s intention; and none have yet been written. The wish here expressed quite naturally follows the previous context, (see this note, just above,) and also marks the pause before the commendation and salutations now to follow.