Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
These concluding chapters present some remarkable phenomena which seem to need a special theory to account for them.
It will be seen that Romans 16 ends, according to the Received text, with a two-fold benediction and a doxology, one at the end of Romans 15:20, another in Romans 15:24, and the third covering Romans 15:25-27.
Of these, the two benedictions in Romans 15:20; Romans 15:24 are alternatives. They are not found in the same group of MSS. at both places, but the MSS. which insert them in the first place omit them at the second, and vice versâ. Weighing the authorities on both sides together, there can be little doubt that the earlier position is the right one—that the doxology ought to stand at Romans 16:20 and to be erased in Romans 16:24. How it came to be inserted there we shall see presently.
The longer, concluding doxology is also placed where it is by a quite decisive preponderance of authority. At the same time it is also found at the end of Romans 14 in one important MS., the Codex Laudianus, and in a number of others of lesser value, while the Alexandrine Codex and Porphyrian Palimpsest, with some few others, have it in both places.
It is to be observed also that Marcion, the Gnostic writer, who lived about 140 A.D., had a copy of the Epistle in which these last two chapters were omitted altogether.
How is this series of facts to be accounted for? It is obviously only a rude and reckless logic which infers from them that the whole two chapters are not genuine. The same conclusion has been supported by other arguments, which need not be mentioned in this Commentary. The proof of the genuineness of the chapters is overwhelming.
Other theories have been propounded, which, while assigning the chapters to St. Paul himself, have treated them as either entirely or in part fragments inserted here from some other lost Epistle. For instance, Ewald held that Romans 16:3-20 was written by St. Paul from Rome to Ephesus, and M. Renan has recently put forward the view that the main body of the Epistle was sent to different churches with different endings—Romans 1-11 with the ending Romans 15 to the Romans; Romans 1-14. with the ending Romans 16:1-20 to the Ephesians; Romans 1-14 with the ending Romans 16:21-24 to the Thessalonians; and Romans 1-14 with the ending Romans 16:25-27 to a fourth unknown church.
This last is an ingenious theory, but, like the rest, does not appear to be tenable when applied in detail.
We will only mention one more theory which has the advantage of being simpler than most, and which seems to account almost if not quite satisfactorily for the complex and peculiar phenomena of the text, while it accords well with the general character of the Epistle. It is this:—
The Epistle was originally written and sent to the Romans in the form in which we have it now, except that it ended at Romans 16:23. The portion which was dictated by St. Paul himself really concluded with the benediction given in Romans 16:20, but a brief and informal postscript was added by Tertius and his companions.
At some later period of his life, probably during one or other of his two imprisonments, finding the Epistle current in Rome, it occurred to the Apostle that it might with advantage be circulated more widely. Accordingly he struck out the whole of the more personal matter, i.e., Romans 15, 16, And, in order to give somewhat more finish to the composition, he added the elaborate doxology, which now concludes the whole, at the end of Romans 14. At the same time, at the beginning of the Epistle, he erased the express mention of Rome (Romans 1:7), and left merely the general phrase “To them that are beloved of God”—a change of which some traces are still to be found remaining in the MSS.
There was thus a shorter and a longer recension of the Epistle—the shorter with a formal ending, the longer without. It was the shorter form which happened to fall into the hands of Marcion, who, for reasons of his own, cut off the doxology. Later copyists, observing the ragged edge which was caused by the postscript of Tertius, sought to remedy this by transferring the benediction of Romans 15:20 to Romans 15:24 : and others, with more success, by adding to the original Epistle the doxology composed for the shorter recension. The general tendency in the scribes being to add and accumulate rather than to subtract, all three forms have come down to us.
The main arguments in favour of this theory are—(1) the extent to which it accounts for the phenomena of the text; (2) the striking resemblance between the style and diction of the concluding doxology and those of the Epistle to the Ephesians and Pastoral Epistles, which would make it appear as if it had been composed at that later date, rather than when St. Paul originally wrote to the Romans; and (3) the analogy of the Epistle to the Ephesians, which seems to have gone through a somewhat similar process, being circulated in two forms—as a circular or general Epistle, and also as one addressed to a particular Church. The opinion is also growing that the Gospel according to St. Luke received additions, and was issued in an enlarged form during the lifetime of the Evangelist himself.
It would not be well to speak too positively where all is so much a matter of conjecture; but so far as conjecture can carry us, this theory seems, on the whole, the most probable and most likely to represent the real state of the facts. The author of it is Dr. Lightfoot.
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.(1) We then that are strong.—The opening verses of the chapter are intimately connected with the close of the last. Not only ought those who are strong in faith to be careful what they do in the matter of meat and drink, but in all things they should show sympathy and consideration for their weaker brethren. This unbroken continuity in the two chapters would be enough to show that the Epistle cannot originally have ended with Romans 14.
Bear the infirmities.—Take them upon ourselves, act as if they were our own, and, at the same time, by our sympathy relieve the consciences of the weak.
Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.(2) For his good.—The object of this tender dealing with others is to be their benefit and growth in spiritual perfection. It is grounded on the example of Christ Himself.
For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.(3) The reproaches. . . .—Literally, after the LXX. version of Psalm 69:9, one of those Psalms of suffering which, like Isaiah 53, afford a type of the sufferings of the Messiah.
Reproached thee fell on me.—The insults directed against God Himself fell upon His servants.
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. . . .—These words of the Old Testament may rightly be taken as having a bearing upon us, “For,” &c.
Through patience and comfort of the scriptures—i.e., “by the patience and comfort which the Scriptures afford.” The promises and consolations of Scripture support the Christian under his trials, and enable him to endure them not only patiently but cheerfully.
Might have hope.—Literally, the hope—i.e., the Messianic hope. The promises of Scripture centre in the hope of the future Messianic glory, and the fortitude with which the Christian endures his trials is to be sustained by that hope, and itself reacts upon the hope and makes it held with firmer tenacity.
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 and consolation.—Such, then, should be the temper of the Roman Christians. The Apostle prays that along with the spirit of steadfast endurance God will also give them that spirit of unanimity which proceeds from singleness of aim. There seems, at first sight, to be little or no connection between the God of “patience and consolation” and the being “likeminded.” They are connected, however, through the idea of singleness of purpose. He who is wholly self-dedicated to Christ, and who in the strength of that self-dedication is able to endure persecution, will also have a close bond of union with all who set before themselves the same object.
Consolation. . . .—The same word as “comfort” in the previous verse.
To be likeminded. . . .—To have the same thoughts, feelings, sentiments, hopes, and aims.
According to Christ Jesus.—The conforming to that “spirit of Christ” which it is to be assumed that all who call themselves Christians have put on.
That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.(6) With one mind and one mouth. . . .—It is in the heart that the spirit of humanity arises, and with the mouth that it is expressed.
Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.(7) Received us.—There is again a division of the best authorities, the Vatican and Claromontane MSS. reading “us,” while the Sinaitic, Alexandrine, Paris rescript, and others, read “you.” The latter is, perhaps, to be preferred, but with no real difference to the sense. The word “received” is the same as that at the beginning of Romans 14, the subject of which chapter is still continued, and is now taken up for the last time. The duty of Christians to show cordiality to each other is now based upon the comprehensiveness of the love of Christ, whose mission was directed with the same impartiality towards Jews and Gentiles. To the Jews He came to confirm and fulfil His promises; to the Gentiles He came to bring joys and hopes from which they had been hitherto excluded.
To the glory of God.—That God might be glorified by the admission into the Church of Gentiles as well as Jews; a parenthetic remark without direct bearing on the argument.
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. . . .—Rather, For I say. My doctrine is that Christ came with a two-fold purpose: on the one hand, with a mission to the Jews, the chosen circumcised race, to vindicate to them the truthfulness of God in respect to His promises, by Himself confirming and fulfilling those promises; and, on the other hand, with the object to exhibit the mercy of God in rescuing the Gentiles from their state of condemnation, and giving them cause to glorify God’s name.
Was. . . .—This is the reading of the Vatican MS. and Paris rescript; the Sinaitic and Alexandrine have, “hath been made.”
For the truth of God—i.e., to make good the truthfulness of God in keeping His promises.
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) For his mercy.—On account of His mercy. The Jews had their covenant to appeal to, and the attributes of God most clearly brought home to them in Christianity was His veracity in fulfilling the promises contained in this covenant. The Gentiles had no such covenant, and their admission to the blessings of Christianity was an act of pure grace and mercy, which they could only thankfully recognise. The Apostle then proceeds to quote from the Old Testament a succession of passages bearing upon this ultimate reception and triumph of the Gentiles.
For this cause. . . .—Psalms 18, from which this quotation is taken, is assigned by the heading, as most commentators believe, rightly, to David himself, as a review of his past life, and a thanksgiving for his deliverance from his enemies. David is here taken as a type of Christ. He is said to “confess to God among the Gentiles,” inasmuch as He is the head of the Gentile Church, in whose name its praises are offered, and by whom they are presented.
Confess. . . .—Comp. the Note on Romans 14:11. Here the meaning, “praise,” is more distinctly brought out. The confession or acknowledgment of mercies is itself an act of praise.
And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.(10) Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people—St. Paul here follows the LXX. version, which varies somewhat from the original. The sense of the Hebrew is disputed. That which appears to suit the context best—“Rejoice, O ye nations of His people,” i.e., the Jewish tribes—is questioned on the ground of linguistic usage. In place of this, we may either adopt the rendering of the Vulgate—“Ye nations (Gentiles) praise His people,” or, “Rejoice, ye nations (Gentiles), who are His people.” This, however, hardly seems to fall in with the context so well.
And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.(11) All ye Gentiles.—An invitation addressed to the Gentile peoples without restriction, at a time when the monotheistic conception of God as Lord of the whole earth was thoroughly established.
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) And again, Esaias saith.—St. Paul still adheres to the LXX., which here diverges more widely from the Hebrew. The sense of this is rightly given by the Authorised version of Isaiah 11:10—“In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek.” In either case the passage is Messianic.
A root of Jesse.—Strictly, the root, or, root-shoot of Jesse, as in Proverbs 5:5—i.e., the expected descendant of Jesse’s line, which, to bring out its intimate connection with the founder of the line, and to distinguish it from all other collateral branches, is identified with the very root, or first shoot, of the line itself.
Trust.—The same word as “hope” in the next verse, the introduction of which was probably suggested, through the association of ideas, by the concluding words of the LXX. quotation—“On Him shall the Gentiles place their hopes. Now the God of hope, &c.
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) Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace. . . . hope.—Hope, joy, and peace, form a triad which represents the attitude of the Christian in looking towards the future, and so far as that future is reflected on the present. Hope may be taken as including the other two, as it is upon the certainty of the Messianic promises that they all depend, just as it is through the constant energising power of the Holy Ghost that they are kept alive.
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) And I myself also.—From this point onwards the Apostle gives a personal turn to his letter. The greetings at the end are naturally introduced by a few words of explanation as to the way in which the more general exhortations that preceded are to be received by the Roman Christians, and a somewhat longer statement on the part of the Apostle of his own relations to the Church at Rome. This might seem to be the more necessary as the Church was not one of his own founding, and he might seem to be both going out of his way and acting in contradiction to his own principles in writing to them at all.
I write thus to you though you do not really need all these exhortations. Not only do others tell me, but I am convinced myself that you possess all the qualifications which would fit you to teach others instead of receiving instruction yourselves.
Ye also.—Rather, even yourselves, as you are, and without any stimulus or incitement given to you from without.
Goodness—i.e., goodness of disposition, readiness to practise all the Christian virtues, especially those to which the last section had been exhorting.
Knowledge—i.e., of the doctrinal aspects of Christianity as they had been set forth in the earlier portion of the Epistle. No doubt the Apostle had really much to teach his readers—he does not say that he had not—but he courteously gives them credit for all they knew.
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) Nevertheless, brethren.—Apologetic. Holding this good opinion of you as I do, I nevertheless presumed somewhat upon my position as an Apostle, and especially as an Apostle of the. Gentiles, to write with an earnestness which I should, perhaps, otherwise not have ventured to show.
Brethren.—The weight of evidence in the MSS. is against the retention of this word.
In some sort.—Literally, in part, qualifying the phrase, “I have written more boldly,” both in extent and degree. In some passages the Apostle feels that he had gone beyond the modest limits which he might have seemed to mark out for himself by what he had just been saying. He had taken a liberty, but not too great a liberty. He had spoken to them rather pointedly at times, but he had been careful not to go too far. The reference may be supposed to be to exhortations such as those in Romans 13, 14, and in other parts of the Epistle.
As putting you in mind.—Another delicate expression. The Apostle has not been telling them of something that they did not know before, but merely reminding them of what they knew. And he claims the right to do this because of the special grace given to him as an Apostle. The Judaising section in the Church at Rome did not go so far as that in Galatia. It recognised the apostleship of St. Paul, and he knew that he could safely appeal to this recognition.
Because of the grace.—Comp. “grace and apostleship” in Romans 1:5. “Grace” is here that special endowment with divine gifts by which the Apostles were distinguished from other Christians.
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) Minister . . . ministering.—These are two different words in the Greek, but allied in their signification. Both refer originally to the liturgical service of the Temple; the first to the whole of the functions both of the priests and Levites, the second to the special function of the priests in the offering of sacrifice. St. Paul is a “minister of Jesus Christ;” i.e., his sacred office was given to him by Christ; it was Christ who appointed and ordained him to it; and his special duty as a priest of the gospel was to see that the Church of the Gentiles, whom it fell to him to present as a sacrifice to God, should be fit for such a sacrifice, made holy by the indwelling Spirit, and therefore acceptable to Him to whom it was offered.
To the Gentiles.—Strictly, in reference to the Gentiles. The branch, or department of the Christian ministry specially allotted to St. Paul was the evangelisation of the Gentiles.
Ministering the gospel of God.—Serving the gospel of God as a priest stands at the altar in the service of the tabernacle. The offering which the priest is thus to present is the Gentile Church.
The offering up of the Gentiles.—Not “that which the Gentiles offer,” but “the offering which the Gentiles are;” the sacrifice which they themselves form and constitute.
Sanctified by the Holy Ghost.—Rather, consecrated in the Holy Ghost. The sanctifying influence of the Holy Ghost overshadows, as it were, the Church, encloses and embraces it on every side.
I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God.(17) This is really the title on which I rest my claim. I can boast of a specially sacred office and ministry, given to me by Christ, and not merely of my own devising. The sphere of this office is a religious sphere, it relates to “the things pertaining to God.”
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) Nor in basing my claims upon this head do I go at all beyond my own proper province. I will take credit for no man’s labours but my own. They have, indeed, been quite signal enough.
I will not dare to speak.—I have a certain just and legitimate pride, but I shall not, therefore, presume to boast of successes of which others have been the instrument. All successes in the mission field are due ultimately to Christ; for some he has made use of me, for others of other men. I will confine myself to those in which I have been myself directly concerned.
To make the Gentiles obedient.—Comp. Romans 1:5, “for obedience to the faith among all nations” (i.e., to bring over all the Gentiles into obedience to the faith; see Note).
By word and deed.—This goes with the phrase “wrought by me,” and signifies “either by preaching or by miracles.”
It will be seen that the structure of this verse is not, in a rhetorical sense, quite elegant. The Apostle uses a negative form of sentence where a positive form would seem to be more appropriate. Instead of saying, “I will confine myself to what Christ has wrought by me,” he says, “I will not speak of what Christ has not wrought by me,” though the description which follows is that of his own ministry.
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 and wonders.—Literally, through the might of signs and wonders—i.e., through those extraordinary powers which found their expression in signs and wonders. “Signs and wonders” is the phrase regularly used throughout the New Testament for the Christian miracles: so frequently in the Gospels. (Comp. also 2Corinthians 12:12; 2Thessalonians 2:9; Hebrews 11:4.) The two words are very similar in meaning. They denote the same acts, but they connote different aspects in which those acts may be regarded. The word “signs” tends to bring out the symbolical character of the miracle, the spiritual truth of which it was, as it were, the physical expression. In the word “wonders” stress is laid rather upon its character as a portent, a manifestation of supernatural, divine power. That St. Paul himself claimed miraculous powers is a face that cannot be doubted.
By the power of the Spirit of God.—The two clauses at the beginning of this verse correspond roughly to “by word and deed” at the end of the last. “Signs and wonders” are the manifestation of the effectual working of Christ in “deed.” The “power of the Spirit of God” is exemplified both in “deed” and in “word.”
So that . . .—It is to be noticed that the language of the Apostle becomes more and more definite and concrete, till he ends by describing the geographical extent of his own labours.
Jerusalem.—The Apostle naturally takes this as the terminus à quo, partly because it was at this time the centre and head-quarters of Christianity, and also more especially because it was the extreme point eastwards and southwards of his own public ministry. (His sojourn in “Arabia,” which may include the desert of Sinai, appears to have been of a more private character.)
And round about . . .—In a sort of rough curve, embracing a large portion of Asia Minor, and finally turning towards the starting-point again in Illyricum.
Illyricum.—A Roman province, stretching along the eastern coast of the Adriatic, and forming the northern boundary of Epirus, and the north-western of Macedonia. Whether St. Paul had actually visited Illyricum does not appear from his language in this passage. Illyricum is the terminus ad quem of his journeyings, but it may be inclusive, or it may be exclusive. The description would be sufficiently satisfied if he had approached the outskirts of Illyricum during his journey through Macedonia. That journey must be the one recorded in Acts 20:2. The earlier journey of Acts 16, 17 can be traced clearly from place to place, and did not extend far enough inland, while the vague expression which we find in Acts 20:2, “When he had gone over those parts,” affords ample room for the circuit in question. This would place it at the end of the year 57 A.D.
Fully preached.—Literally, fulfilled. The translation of our version can perhaps hardly be improved, though, at the same time, it seems probable that what is intended is the publication of the gospel to its full geographical extent, and not the subjective sense in the Apostle of his own fulfilment of the duty of preaching the gospel laid upon him.
Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:(20, 21) Throughout all this long missionary career, the Apostle had made it his endeavour not merely to go over old ground where others had been before him, but to seek out new and virgin soil, where he might enter as a pioneer, and convey the good news of the kingdom of heaven for the first time.
(20) Yea, so have I strived.—Rather, but making it my ambition. The Apostle set it before him as a point of honour, not merely to carry forward a work that others had begun, but to build up the whole edifice from the foundation himself.
Not where Christ was named.—Not in places where there were Christians already.
But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.(21) To whom . . .—From the LXX. of Isaiah 52:15. The original has reference to the servant of Jehovah, first suffering and then glorified, so that kings should be dumb with astonishment at the change. Here it is applied to the evangelisation of distant heathen nations.
For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.(22) For which cause also.—And just because I was so anxious to preach the gospel in new regions, and to finish what I had begun there, I have been prevented from coming to you sooner.
Much.—These many times; so often.
But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you;(23) But now having no more place.—The work had been finished, so far as the Apostle was concerned, in Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Greece. The churches had been founded, and fairly set going; and now he felt it his duty to go on to new fields, his duty in this respect also falling in with his wishes, as it would bring him to Rome.
Place.—Room for (new) working. The whole. ground had been already occupied.
Parts.—A peculiar word from which our word “climate” is derived. The original idea appears to be the slope or inclination of the earth from the equator towards the pole. Hence a “zone” or “region.” The same word occurs in 2Corinthians 11:10; Galatians 1:21.
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) Into Spain.—In his eagerness to seek out entirely new regions, and to avoid any possibility of crossing the lines of his fellow Apostles, desiring also himself to gather in the “fulness of the Gentiles” so far as lay in his power, he had determined to push on even to Spain. Whether he ever succeeded in carrying out his purpose we cannot say positively, but it is, perhaps, rather more probable than not. A tradition which dates back to the Epistle of Clement of Rome (circ. A.D. 95) says that he visited “the extreme limit of the West,” a phrase which seems hardly satisfied by being interpreted simply of Rome. The author of the Muratorian Fragment (circ. A.D. 170) speaks expressly of a journey to Spain, though his language looks as if it might be an inference from this Epistle. The Acts, it is true, do not carry the Apostle beyond Rome, but the phenomena of the Pastoral Epistles and tradition together seem to justify us in assuming the probability of a later journey or journeys not recorded in that volume, and the argument from silence, as the book in any case stops short of the death of the Apostle, counts for but little. This is just a case in which it cannot be wrong to accept the balance of the argument as it stands. At the same time it is impossible not to feel the grievous blank which lies over the later years of the life of St. Paul, and few things would be more deeply interesting, or would throw more light on the principles of criticism, than the discovery, if only it were possible, of the merest fragment bearing upon it. It is to be feared, however, that there is no reasonable hope of such a discovery being ever made.
I will come to you . . .—These words are wanting in the true text, and have to be supplied. The sentence is left unfinished.
To be brought on my way.—A graphic description of this “bringing upon the way,” is given in the account of the departure of St. Paul after his seven days’ sojourn at Tyre, Acts 21:5. (Comp. Acts 20:36-38.)
Somewhat filled.—Another characteristic touch. The Apostle will not allow it to be supposed that he could have enough of the society of the Roman Church. He therefore qualifies his expression, “somewhat filled,” or “satisfied,” “satisfied if only in part.”
If first I be somewhat filled is practically equivalent to “when I have been filled.”
But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.(25) But now.—Before very long, I hope to pay you this visit, but for the present I am bound for Jerusalem, in the service of the Church, to convey the alms collected in Macedonia and Achaia for the poorer members of that community. In reference to this contribution, comp. Acts 24:17; 1Corinthians 16:1, et seq.; 2Corinthians 8:1-2; 2Corinthians 9:1, et seq.
For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.(26) The poor saints.—Literally, for the poor among the saints. It cannot, therefore, be inferred from this that the church at Jerusalem consisted entirely of poor. Still from the first it would seem as if persons like Joseph of Arimathæa, and Nicodemus, and Mary the mother of Mark, were exceptions, and we know that the church at Jerusalem suffered severely during the famine in the reign of Claudius. Wealthier churches, such as those of Macedonia and Greece, would naturally be glad to have the opportunity of sending relief to the mother church, from which they might be said to be derived themselves. St. Paul himself proceeds to urge this very argument. From Jerusalem went forth the gospel which had been preached in Greece and Macedonia, and it would be but a small and due return if some of the superfluous wealth of those more favoured regions found its way to Jerusalem.
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.—It pleased the Macedonians and Achaians to make their contribution. And, indeed, they owed a debt to the church at Jerusalem which it was their duty, so well as they could, to discharge.
When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.(28) Sealed to them this fruit.—Placed in their hands the sum raised by the collection. This will appear at first sight a somewhat stilted expression, but it takes a certain solemnity from the fact that St. Paul seems to regard this journey to Jerusalem as the close of his own apostolic labours in those parts, the dropping of the curtain, as it were, before a new act in his career.
Will come by you.—Will pass through your city on my way to Spain.
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) I shall come in the fulness.—I shall bring with me, come furnished with, the fulness of the blessing of Christ. The words “of the gospel” should be omitted. By “the fulness of the blessing of Christ” the Apostle means the full or abundant measure of those spiritual blessings which he, as the Minister and Apostle of Christ, was commissioned to impart to them.
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) The love of the Spirit—i.e., the love inspired in them by the Spirit—flowing from the Spirit.
Strive together with me.—Second my own earnest entreaties.
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) From them that do not believe.—This prayer of the Apostle was, perhaps, it may be said, partially granted. He escaped with his life from his unbelieving countrymen (Acts 23:27), but only to be delivered over to the Romans. He was naturally in fear of the party to which he had himself once belonged, and who would regard him as one of the worst of apostates. But it is to be observed that he expresses no apprehension of the Judaising Christians, as might have been expected if their antagonism had really been as violent as some would make out.
My service which I have for Jerusalem.—My service or ministration (i.e., “The gift of which I am the bearer”) which is destined for Jerusalem.
May be accepted.—It is possible, though we cannot speak at all positively, that there was mingled with the desire of the Apostle to benefit the church at Jerusalem something of a wish to do a graceful and conciliatory act to that Judaising branch of the church from which circumstances tended to estrange him.
That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.(32) The way in which he was received at Jerusalem would make a great difference to the feelings with which the Apostle would arrive in Rome. A favourable reception in Jerusalem would add much to his enjoyment and benefit from intercourse with the Roman Christians.
With you be refreshed.—The Greek word is a rare compound, which is found besides in the LXX. version of Isaiah 11:6, “the leopard shall lie down with the kid.” The whole phrase (“and may with you be refreshed”) is wanting in the Vatican MS.
Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.(33) Amen.—The weight of MS. authority is decidedly in favour of retaining this word, though it is omitted by three MSS. of some importance.
It does not, however, follow that the benediction was intended, as some have thought, to close the Epistle. Intercalated benedictions and doxologies are frequent in the writings of St. Paul. (Comp. Romans 9:5; Romans 11:36; Galatians 5; Ephesians 3:20-21, et al.)