ICC New Testament Commentary
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.15:1. The beginning of chap. 15 is connected immediately with what precedes, and there is no break in the argument until ver. 13 is reached; but towards the close, especially in vv. 7-13, the language of the Apostle is more general. He passes from the special points at issue to the broad underlying principle of Christian unity, and especially to the relation of the two great sections of the Church—the Jewish and the Gentile Christians.
ὀφείλομεν δέ. Such weakness is, it is true, a sign of absence of faith, but we who are strong in faith ought to bear with scruples weak though they may be. οἱ δύνατοι not, as in 1 Corinthians 1:26, the rich or the powerful, but as in 2 Corinthians 12:10, 2 Corinthians 13:9, of the morally strong.
βαστάζειν: cf. Galatians 6:2 ἀλλήλων τὰ βάρη βαστάζετε. In classical Greek the ordinary word would be φέρειν, but βαστάζειν seems to have gradually come into use in the figurative sense. It is used of bearing the cross both literally (John 19:17), and figuratively (Luke 14:27). We find it in later versions of the O. T. In Aq., Symm. and Theod. in Isaiah 40:11, 56:12; in the two latter in Isaiah 53:9; in Matthew 8:17 quoting Isaiah 53:3: in none of these passages is the word used in the LXX. It became a favourite word in Christian literature, Ign. Ad Polyc. 1, Epist. ad Diog. § 10 (quoted by Lft.).
μὴ ἑαυτοῖς ἀρέσκειν: cf. 1 Corinthians 10:33 καθὼς κἀγὼ πάντα πᾶσιν ἀρέσκω, μὴ ζητῶν τὸ ἐμαυτοῦ συμφέρον, where St. Paul is describing his own conduct in very similar circumstances. He strikes at the root of Christian disunion, which is selfishness.
2. εἰς τὸ ἀγαθὸν πρὸς οἰκοδομήν: cf. 14:16 ὑμω1͂ν τὸ ἀγαθόν, 19 τὰ τῆς οἰκοδομῆς τῆς εἰς ἀλλήλους. The end or purpose of pleasing them must be the promotion of what is absolutely to their good, further defined by οἰκοδομή, their edification. These words limit and explain what St. Paul means by ‘pleasing men.’ In Galatians 1:10 (cf. Ephesians 6:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:4) he had condemned it. In 1 Corinthians 9:20-23 he had made it a leading principle of his conduct. The rule is that we are to please men for their own good and not our own.
The γάρ after ἕκαστος of the T. R. should be omitted. For ἡμῶν some authorities (F G P ב, Vulg., many Fathers) read ὑμῶν.
3. καὶ γὰρ ὁ Χριστὸς κ.τ.λ. The precept just laid down is enforced by the example of Christ (cf. 14:15). As Christ bore our reproaches, so must we bear those of others.
καθὼς γέγραπται. St. Paul, instead of continuing the sentence, changes the construction and inserts a verse of the O. T. [Psa_48 (49):10 quoted exactly according to the LXX], which he puts into the mouth of Christ. For the construction cf. 9:7.
The Psalm quoted describes the sufferings at the hands of the ungodly of the typically righteous man, and passages taken from it are often in the N. T. referred to our Lord, to whom they would apply as being emphatically ‘the just one.’ Ver. 4 is quoted John 15:25, ver. 9a in John 2:17, ver. 9b in Romans 15:3, ver. 12 in Matthew 27:27-30, ver. 21 in Matthew 27:34, and John 19:29, ver. 22 f. in Romans 11:9, ver. 25a in Acts 1:20. (See Liddon, ad loc.)
οἱ ὀνειδισμοί κ.τ.λ. In the original the righteous man is represented as addressing God and saying that the reproaches against God he has to bear. St. Paul transfers the words to Christ, who is represented as addressing a man. Christ declares that in suffering it was the reproaches or sufferings of others that He bore.
4. The quotation is justified by the enduring value of the O. T.
προεγράφη, ‘were written before,’ in contrast with ἡμετέραν: cf. Ephesians 3:3; Judges 1:4, but with a reminiscence of the technical meaning of γράφειν for what is written as Scripture.
διδασκαλίαν, ‘instruction’: cf. 2 Timothy 3:16 πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος καὶ ὠφέλιμος πρὸς διδασκαλίαν.
τὴν ἐλπίδα: the specifically Christian feeling of hope. It is the supreme confidence which arises from trust in Christ that in no circumstances will the Christian be ashamed of that wherein he trusteth (Php 1:20); a confidence which tribulation only strengthens, for it makes more certain his power of endurance and his experience of consolation. On the relation of patience to hope cf. 5:3 and 1 Thessalonians 1:3.
This passage, and that quoted above from 2 Timothy 3:16, lay down very clearly the belief in the abiding value of the O. T. which underlies St. Paul’s use of it. But while emphasizing its value they also limit it. The Scriptures are to be read for our moral instruction, ‘for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness’; for the perfection of the Christian character, ‘that the man of God may be complete, furnished unto every good work’; and because they establish the Christian hope which is in Christ. Two points then St. Paul teaches, the permanent value of the great moral and spiritual truths of the O. T., and the witness of the O. T. to Christ. His words cannot be quoted to prove more than this.
There are in this verse a few idiosyncrasies of B which may be noted but need not be accepted; ἐγράφη (with Vulg. Orig.-lat.) for προεγράφη; πάντα before εἰς τὴν ἡμ. (with P); τῆς παρακλήσεως repeated after ἔχωμεν (with Clem.-Al.). The T. R. with א אc A L P ב, &c. substitutes προεγράφη for ἐγράφη in the second place, and with Ccor D E F G P, &c., Vulg. Boh. Harcl. omits the second διά.
5. After the digression of ver. 4 the Apostle returns to the subject of vv. 1-3, and sums up his teaching by a prayer for the unity of the community.
ὁ δὲ Θεὸς τῆς ὑπομονῆς καὶ τῆς παρακλήσεως: cf. ὁ Θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης (ver. 33; Php 4:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:20), τῆς ἐλπίδος (ver. 13), πάσης παρακλήσεως (2 Corinthians 1:3), πάσης χάριτος (1 Peter 5:10).
τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν: cf. Php 2:2-5 πληρώσατέ μου τὴν χαράν, ἵνα τὸ αὐτὸ φρονῆτε … τοῦτο φρονεῖτε ἐν ὑμῖν ὅ καὶ ἐν Χρ. Ἰ.
κατὰ Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν: cf 2 Corinthians 11:17 ὅ λαλῶ, οὐ κατὰ Κύριον λαλῶ: Colossians 2:8 οὐ κατὰ Χρ.: Ephesians 4:24 τὸν καινὸν ἄνθρωπον τὸν κατὰ Θεὸν κτισθέντα (Romans 8:27, which is generally quoted, is not in point). These examples seem to show that the expression must mean ‘in accordance with the character or example of Christ.’
δῴη for δοίῃ, a later form, cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:16; 2 Timothy 1:16, 2 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 2:25; Ephesians 1:17 (but with variant δώῃ in the last two cases). Χρ. Ἰης. (B D E G L, &c., Boh. Chrys.), not Ἰης. Χρ. א A C F P ב Vulg., Orig.-lat. Theodrt.
6. Unity and harmony of worship will be the result of unity of life.
ὁμοθυμαδόν, ‘with unity of mind.’ A common word in the Acts (1:14, &c.).
τὸν Θεὸν καὶ πατέρα τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. This expression occurs also in 2 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Ephesians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3. In Colossians 1:3, which is also quoted, the correct reading is τῷ Θεῷ πατρὶ τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰ. Χ. Two translations are possible: (1) ‘God even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Mey.-W.. Gif. Lid., Lips.). In favour of this it is pointed out that while πατήρ expects some correlative word, Θεός is naturally absolute; and that ὁ Θεὸς καὶ πατήρ occurs absolutely (as in 1 Corinthians 15:24 ὅταν παραδιδοῖ τὴν βασιλείαν τῷ Θεῷ καὶ πατρί), an argument the point of which does not seem clear, and which suggests that the first argument has not much weight. (2) It is better and simpler to take the words in their natural meaning, ‘The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’; (Va. Oltr. Go. and others), with which cf. Ephesians 1:17 ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰ. Χ.: Matthew 27:46; John 20:17; Hebrews 1:9.
7. The principles laid down in this section of the Epistle are now generalized. All whom Christ has received should, without any distinction, be accepted into His Church. This is intended to apply especially to the main division existing at that time in the community, that between Jewish and Gentile Christians.
διὸ προσλαμβάνεσθε ἀλλήλους κ.τ.λ.: the command is no longer to the strong to admit the weak, but to all sections of the community alike to receive and admit those who differ from them; so St. Paul probably said ὑμᾶς, not ἡμᾶς. The latter he uses in ver. 1, where he is identifying himself with the ‘strong,’ the former he uses here, where he is addressing the whole community. On διό cf. Ephesians 2:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:11: on προσλαμβάνεσθε see 14:1, 3.
ὑμᾶς is read by א A C E F G L Vulg. Boh. Syrr., Orig.-lat. Chrys. ἡμᾶς by B D P ב. B is again Western, and its authority on the distinction between ἡμᾶς and ὑμᾶς is less trustworthy than on most other points (see WH. ii. pp. 218, 310).
εἰς δόξαν Θεοῦ with προσελάβετο: ‘in order to promote the glory of God.’ As the following verses show, Christ has summoned both Jews and Greeks into His kingdom in order to promote the glory of God, to exhibit in the one case His faithfulness, in the other His mercy. So in Php 2:11 the object of Christ’s glory is to promote the glory of God the Father.
8. St. Paul has a double object. He writes to remind the Gentiles that it is through the Jews that they are called, the Jews that the aim and purpose of their existence is the calling of the Gentiles. The Gentiles must remember that Christ became a Jew to save them; the Jew that Christ came among them in order that all the families of the earth might be blessed: both must realize that the aim of the whole is to proclaim God’s glory.
This passage is connected by undoubted links (διό ver. 7; λέγω γάρ ver. 8) with what precedes, and forms the conclusion of the argument after the manner of the concluding verses of ch. 8. and ch. 11. This connexion makes it probable that ‘the relations of Jew and Gentile were directly or indirectly involved in the relations of the weak and the strong.’ (Hort, Rom. and Eph. p. 29.)
διάκονον … περιτομῆς: not ‘a minister of the circumcised,’ still less a ‘minister of the true circumcision of the spirit,’ which would be introducing an idea quite alien to the context, but ‘a minister of circumcision’ (so Gifford, who has an excellent note), i. e. to carry out the promises implied in that covenant the seal of which was circumcision; so 2 Corinthians 3:6 διακόνους καινῆς διαθήκης. In the Ep. to the Galatians (4:4, 5) St. Paul had said that Christ was ‘born of a woman, born under the law, that He might redeem them which were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.’ On the Promise and Circumcision see Genesis 12:1-3,Genesis 17:1-14.
The privileges of the Jews which St. Paul dwells on are as follows: (1) Christ has Himself fulfilled the condition of being circumcised: the circumcised therefore must not be condemned. (2) The primary object of this was to fulfil the promises made to the Jews (cf. Romans 2:9, Romans 2:10). (3) It was only as a secondary result of this Messiahship that the Gentiles glorified God. (4) While the blessing came to the Jews ὑπὲρ ἀληθείας to preserve God’s consistency, it came to the Gentiles ὑπὲρ ἐλέους for God’s loving-kindness.
γεγενῆσθαι, which should be read with א A E L P ב (γεγεννῆσθε); it was altered into the more usual aorist γενέσθαι (B C D F G), perhaps because it was supposed to be co-ordinated with δοξάσαι.
τὰς ἐπαγγελίας τῶν πατέρων: cf. 9:4,5.
9. τὰ δὲ ἔθνη … δοξάσαι. Two constructions are possible for these words: (1) they may be taken as directly subordinate to λέγω γάρ (Weiss, Oltr. Go.). The only object in this construction would be to contrast ὑπὲρ ἐλέους with ὑπὲρ ἀληθείας. But the real antithesis of the passage is between βεβαιῶσαι τὰς ἐπαγγελίας and τὰ ἔθνη δοξάσαι: and hence (2) τὰ δὲ … ἔθνη … δοξάσαι should be taken as subordinate to εἰς τό and co-ordinate with βεβαιῶσαι (Gif. Mey. Lid., Va.). With this construction the point of the passage becomes much greater, the call of the Gentiles is shown to be (as it certainly was), equally with the fulfilment of the promise to the Jews, dependent on the covenant made with Abraham (4:11, 12, 16, 17).
καθὼς γέγραπται. The Apostle proceeds, as so often in the Epistle, to support his thesis by a series of passages quoted from the O. T.
διὰ τοῦτο κ.τ.λ.: taken almost exactly from the LXX of Ps. 17:50 (18). In the original David, as the author of the Psalm, is celebrating a victory over the surrounding nations: in the Messianic application Christ is represented as declaring that among the Gentiles, i. e. in the midst of, and therefore together with them, He will praise God. ἐξομολογήσομαι, ‘I will praise thee’: cf. 14:11.
10. Εὐφράνθητε κ.τ.λ.: from the LXX of Deuteronomy 32:43. The Hebrew, translated literally, appears to mean, ‘Rejoice, O ye nations, His people.’ Moses is represented as calling on the nations to rejoice over the salvation of Israel. St. Paul takes the words as interpreted by the LXX to imply that the Gentiles and chosen people shall unite in the praise of God.
11. Αἰνεῖτε κ.τ.λ.: Psa_116(117):1. LXX. An appeal to all nations to praise the Lord.
There are slight variations in the Greek text and in the LXX. For πάντα τὰ ἔθνη τὸν Κύριον C F G L have τὸν Κ. π. τ. ἔ. agreeing with the order of the LXX. ἑπαινεσάτωσαν is read by א A B C D E Chrys. (so LXX A א αἰνεσάτωσαν) ἐπαινέσατε by late MSS. with later LXX MSS.
12. Ἔσται ἡ ῥίζα κ.τ.λ.: from Isaiah 11:10, a description of the Messianic kingdom, which is to take the place of that Jewish kingdom which is soon to be destroyed. The quotation follows the LXX, which is only a paraphrase of the Hebrew; the latter runs (RV.) ‘And it shall come to pass in that day, that the root of Jesse, which standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto him shall the Gentiles seek.’
13. The Apostle concludes by invoking on his hearers a blessing—that their faith may give them a life full of joy and peace, that in the power of the Holy Spirit they may abound in hope.
ὁ Θεὸς τῆς ἐλπίδος: cf. ver. 5. The special attribute, as in fact the whole of the benediction, is suggested by the concluding words of the previous quotation.
πάσης χαρᾶς καὶ εἰρήνης. The joy and peace with God which is the result of true faith in the Christian’s heart. On εἰρήνη see 1:7.
For πληρῶσαι (most MSS.) B F G have the curious variant πληροφορῆσαι. B reads ἐν πάσῃ χάρᾳ καὶ εἰρήνῃ and omits εἰς τὸ περισσεύειν: the peculiarities of this MS. in the last few verses are noticeable. D E F G omit ἐν τῷ πιστεύειν.
The general question of the genuineness of these last two chapters is discussed in the Introduction (§ 9). It will be convenient to mention in the course of the Commentary some few of the detailed objections that have been made to special passages. In 15:1-13 the only serious objection is that which was first raised by Baur and has been repeated by others since. The statements in this section are supposed to be of too conciliatory a character; especially is this said to be the case with ver. 8. ‘How can we imagine,’ writes Baur, ‘that the Apostle, in an Epistle of such a nature and after all that had passed on the subject, would make such a concession to the Jewish Christians as to call Jesus Christ a minister of circumcision to confirm the promises of God made to the Fathers?’ To this it may be answered that that is exactly the point of view of the Epistle. It is brought out most clearly in 11:17-25; it is implied in the position of priority always given to the Jew (1:16; 2:9, 10); it is emphasized in the stress continually laid on the relations of the new Gospel to the Old Testament (ch. 4, &c.), and the importance of the promises which were fulfilled (1:2; 9:4). Baur’s difficulty arose from an erroneous conception of the teaching and position of St. Paul. For other arguments see Mangold, Der Römerbrief, pp. 81-100.
What sect or party is referred to in Rom_14?
There has been great diversity of opinion as to the persons referred to in this section of the Epistle to the Romans, but all commentators seem to agree in assuming that the Apostle is dealing with certain special circumstances which have arisen in the Church of Rome, and that the weak and the strong represent two parties in that Church.
1. The oldest explanation appears to be that which sees in these disputes a repetition of those which prevailed in the Corinthian Church, as to the same or some similar form of Judaizing practices (Orig. Chrys. Aug. Neander, &c.). In favour of this may be quoted the earlier portion of the fifteenth chapter, where there is clearly a reference to the distinction between Jewish and Gentile Christians. But against this opinion it is pointed out that such Jewish objections to ‘things offered to idols,’ or to meats killed in any incorrect manner, or to swine’s flesh, have nothing to do with the typical instances quoted, the abstinence altogether from flesh meat and from wine (vv. 2, 21).
2. A second suggestion (Eichhorn) is that which sees in these Roman ascetics the influence of the Pythagorean and other heathen sects which practised and taught abstinence from meat and wine and other forms of self-discipline. But these again will not satisfy all the circumstances. These Roman Christians were, it is said, in the habit of observing scrupulously certain days: and this custom did not, as far as we know, prevail among any heathen sect.
3. Baur sees here Ebionite Christians of the character represented by the Clementine literature, and in accordance with his general theory he regards them as representing the majority of the Roman Church. That this last addition to the theory is tenable seems impossible. So far as there is any definiteness in St. Paul’s language he clearly represents the ‘strong’ as directing the policy of the community. They are told to receive ‘him that is weak in faith’; they seem to have the power to admit him or reject him. All that he on his side can do is to indulge in excessive criticism. Nor is the first part of the theory really more satisfactory. Of the later Ebionites we have very considerable knowledge derived from the Clementine literature and from Epiphanius (Haer. xxx), but it is an anachronism to discover these developments in a period nearly two centuries earlier. Nor again is it conceivable that St. Paul would have treated a developed Judaism in the lenient manner in which he writes in this chapter.
4. Less objection perhaps applies to the modification of this theory, which sees in these sectaries some of the Essene influence which probably prevailed everywhere throughout the Jewish world (Ritschl, Mey.-W. Lid. Lft. Gif. Oltr.). This view fulfils the three conditions of the case. The Essenes were Jewish, they were ascetic, and they observed certain days. If the theory is put in the form not that Essenism existed as a sect in Rome, which is highly improbable, but that there was Essene influence in the Jewish community there, it is possible. Yet if any one compares St. Paul’s language in other Epistles with that which he uses here, he will find it difficult to believe that the Apostle would recommend compliance with customs which arose, not from weak-minded scrupulousness, but from a completely inadequate theory of religion and life. Hort (Rom. and Eph., p. 27 f.) writes: ‘The true origin of these abstinences must remain somewhat uncertain: but much the most probable suggestion is that they come from an Essene element in the Roman Church, such as afterwards affected the Colossian Church.’ But later he modified his opinion (Judaistic Christianity, p. 128): ‘There is no tangible evidence for Essenism out of Palestine.’
All these theories have this in common, that they suppose St. Paul to be dealing with a definite sect or body in the Roman Church. But as our examination of the Epistle has proceeded, it has become more and more clear that there is little or no special reference in the arguments. Both in the controversial portion and in the admonitory portion, we find constant reminiscences of earlier situations, but always with the sting of controversy gone. St. Paul writes throughout with the remembrance of his own former experience, and not with a view to special difficulties in the Roman community. He writes on all these vexed questions, not because they have arisen there, but because they may arise. The Church of Rome consists, as he knows, of both Jewish and heathen Christians. These discordant elements may, he fears, unless wise counsels prevail produce the same dissensions as have occurred in Galatia or Corinth.
Hort (Judaistic Christianity, p. 126) recognizes this feature in the doctrinal portion of the Epistle: ‘It is a remarkable fact,’ he writes, ‘respecting this Epistle to the Romans … that while it discusses the question of the Law with great emphasis and fulness, it does so without the slightest sign that there is a reference to a controversy then actually existing in the Roman Church.’ Unfortunately he has not applied the same theory to this practical portion of the Epistle: if he had done so it would have presented just the solution required by all that he notices. ‘There is no reference,’ he writes, ‘to a burning controversy.’ ‘The matter is dealt with simply as one of individual conscience.’ He contrasts the tone with that of the Epistle to the Colossians. All these features find their best explanation in a theory which supposes that St. Paul’s object in this portion of the Epistle, is the same as that which has been suggested in the doctrinal portion.
If this theory be correct, then our interpretation of the passage is somewhat different from that which has usually been accepted, and is, we venture to think, more natural. When St. Paul says in ver. 2 ‘the weak man eateth vegetables,’ he does not mean that there is a special sect of vegetarians in Rome; but he takes a typical instance of excessive scrupulousness. When again he says ‘one man considers one day better than another,’ he does not mean that this sect of vegetarians were also strict sabbatarians, but that the same scrupulousness may prevail in other matters. When he speaks of ὁ φρονῶν τὴν ἡμέραν, ὁ μὴ ἐσθίων he is not thinking of any special body of people but rather of special types. When again in ver. 21 he says: ‘It is good not to eat flesh, or drink wine, or do anything in which thy brother is offended,’ he does not mean that these vegetarians and sabbatarians are also total abstainers; he merely means ‘even the most extreme act of self-denial is better than injuring the conscience of a brother.’ He had spoken very similarly in writing to the Corinthians: ‘Wherefore, if meat maketh my brother to stumble, I will eat no flesh for evermore, that I make not my brother to stumble’ (1 Corinthians 8:13). It is not considered necessary to argue from these words that abstinence from flesh was one of the characteristics of the Corinthian sectaries; nor is it necessary to argue in a similar manner here.
St. Paul is arguing then, as always in the Epistle, from past experience. Again and again difficulties had arisen owing to different forms of scrupulousness. There had been the difficulties which had produced the Apostolic decree; there were the difficulties in Galatia, ‘Ye observe days, and months, and seasons, and years’; there were the difficulties at Corinth. Probably he had already in his experience come across instances of the various ascetic tendencies which are referred to in the Colossian and Pastoral Epistles. We have evidence both in Jewish and in heathen writers of the wide extent to which such practices prevailed. In an age when there is much religious feeling there will always be such ideas. The ferment which the spread of Christianity aroused would create them. Hence just as the difficulties which he had experienced with regard to Judaism and the law made St. Paul work out and systematize his theory of the relation of Christianity to personal righteousness, so here he is working out the proper attitude of the Christian towards over-scrupulousness and over-conscientiousness. He is not dealing with the question controversially, but examining it from all sides.
And he lays down certain great principles. There is, first of all, the fundamental fact, that all these scruples are in matters quite indifferent in themselves. Man is justified by ‘faith’; that is sufficient. But then all have not strong, clear-sighted faith: they do not really think such actions indifferent, and if they act against their conscience their conscience is injured. Each man must act as he would do with the full consciousness that he is to appear before God’s judgement-seat. But there is another side to the question. By indifference to external observances we may injure another man’s conscience. To ourselves it is perfectly indifferent whether we conform to such an observance or not. Then we must conform for the sake of our weak brother. We are the strong. We are conscious of our strength. Therefore we must yield to others: not perhaps always, not in all circumstances, but certainly in many cases. Above all, the salvation of the individual soul and the peace and unity of the community must be preserved. Both alike, weak and strong, must lay aside differences on such unimportant matters for the sake of that church for which Christ died.
APOLOGY FOR ADMONITIONS
15:14-21. These admonitions of mine do not imply that I am unacquainted with your goodness and deep spiritual knowledge. In writing to you thus boldly I am only fulfilling my duty as Apostle to the Gentiles; the priest who stands before the altar and presents to God the Gentile Churches (vv. 14-17).
And this is the ground of my boldness. For I can boast of my spiritual labours and gifts, and of my wide activity in preaching the Gospel, and that, not where others had done so before me, but where Christ was not yet named (vv. 18-21).
14. The substance of the Epistle is now finished, and there only remain the concluding sections of greeting and encouragement. St. Paul begins as in 1:8 with a reference to the good report of the church. This he does as a courteous apology for the warmth of feeling he has exhibited, especially in the last section; but a comparison with the Galatian letter, where there is an absence of any such compliment, shows that St. Paul’s words must be taken to have a very real and definite meaning.
πέπεισμαι δέ: cf. 8:38, ‘Though I have spoken so strongly it does not mean that I am not aware of the spiritual earnestness of your church.’
καὶ αὐτὸς ἐγὼ περὶ ὑμῶν, ὅτι καὶ αὐτοί: notice the emphasis gained by the position of the words. ‘And not I inquire of others to know, but I myself, that is, I that rebuke, that accuse you.’ Chrys.
μεστοί: cf. Romans 1:29, where also it is combined with πεπληρωμένοι.
πάσης γνώσεως: ‘our Christian knowledge in its entirety.’ Cf. 1 Corinthians 13:2 καὶ ἐὰν ἔχω προφητείαν καὶ εἰδῶ τὰ μυστήρια πάντα καὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γνῶσιν, καὶ ἐὰν ἔχω πᾶσαν τὴν πίστιν κ.τ.λ. γνῶσις is used for the true knowledge which consists in a deep and comprehensive grasp of the real principles of Christianity.
τῆς is read by א B P, Clem.-Alex. Jo.-Damasc. It is omitted by A C D E F G L, &c., Chrys. Theodrt.
ἀγαθωσύνης: cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:11; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 5:9; used only in the LXX, the N. T. and writings derived from them. Generally it means ‘goodness’ or ‘uprightness’ in contrast with κακία, as in Psalm 51:5. (52:5.) ἠγάπησας κακίαν ὑπὲρ ἀγαθωσύνην: defined more accurately the idea seems to be that derived from ἀγαθός of active beneficence and goodness of heart. Here it is combined with γνῶσις, because the two words represent exactly the qualities which are demanded by the discussion in chap. 14. St. Paul demands on the one side a complete grasp of the Christian faith as a whole, and on the other ‘goodness of heart,’ which may prevent a man from injuring the spiritual life of his brother Christians by disregarding their consciences. Both these were, St. Paul is fully assured, realized in the Roman community.
Forms in -σύνη are almost all late and mostly confined to Hellenistic writers. In the N. T. we have ἐλεημοσύνη, ἀσχημοσύνη, ἁγιωσύνη, ἱερωσύνη, μεγαλωσύνη: see Winer, § xvi. 2 β (p. 118, ed. Moulton).
δυνάμενοι καὶ ἀλλήλους νουθετεῖν. Is it laying too much stress on the language of compliment to suggest that these words give a hint of St. Paul’s aim in this Epistle? He has grasped clearly the importance of the central position of the Roman Church and its moral qualities, and he realizes the power that it will be for the instruction of others in the faith. Hence it is to them above all that he writes, not because of their defects but of their merits.
It is difficult to believe that any reader will find an inconsistency between this verse and 1:11 or the exhortations of chap. 14, whatever view he may hold concerning St. Paul’s general attitude towards the Roman Church. It would be perfectly natural in any case that, after rebuking them on certain points on which he felt they needed correction, he should proceed to compliment them for the true knowledge and goodness which their spiritual condition exhibited. He could do so because it would imply a true estimate of the state of the Church, and it would prevent any offence being taken at his freedom of speech. But if the view suggested on chap. 14. and throughout the Epistle be correct, and these special admonitions arise rather from the condition of the Gentile churches as a whole, the words gain even more point. ‘I am not finding fault with you, I am warning you of dangers you may incur, and I warn you especially owing to your prominent and important position.’
15. τολμηρότερον. The boldness of which St. Paul accuses himself is not in sentiment, but in manner. It was ἀπὸ μέρους, ‘in part of the Epistle’; 6:12 ff., 19; 8:9; 11:17 ff.;12:3; 13:3 ff., 13 ff., 14.; 15:1, have been suggested as instances.
ἐπαναμιμνήσκων. Wetstein quotes ἔκαστον ὑμῶν, καίπερ ἀκριβῶς σἴδοτα, ὅμως ἐπαναμνῆσαι βούλομαι Demosthenes, Phil. 74, 7 The ἐπί seems to soften the expression ‘suggesting to your memory.’ St. Paul is not teaching any new thing, or saying anything which a properly instructed Christian would not know, but putting more clearly and definitely the recognized principles and commands of the Gospel.
διὰ τὴν χάριν τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι. On St. Paul’s Apostolic grace cf. 1:5 διʼ οὗ ἐλάβομεν χάριν καὶ ἀποστολήν: 12:3 λέγω γὰρ διὰ τῆς χάριτος τῆς δοθείσης μοι.
It is probably preferable to read τολμηροτέρως (A B, WH.) for τολμηρότερον. The TR. adds ἀδελφοί after ἔγραψα ὑμῖν against the best authorities (א A B C Boh., Orig. Aug. Chrys.); the position of the word varies even in MSS. in which it does occur. ὑπό is a correction of the TR. for ἀπό (א B F Jo.-Damasc.).
16. λειτουργόν seems to be used definitely and technically as in the LXX of a priest. See esp. 2 Esdras 20:36 (Nehemiah 10:37) τοῖς ἱερεῦσι τοῖς λειτουργοῦσιν ἐν οἴκῳ Θεοῦ ἡμῶν. So in Hebrews 8:2 of our Lord, who is ἀρχιερεύς and τῶν ἁγίων λειτουργός: see the note on 1:9. Generally in the LXX the word seems used of the Levites as opposed to the priests as in 2 Esdras 20:39 (Neh. 10:40) καὶ οἱ ἱερεῖς καὶ οἱ λειτουργοί, but there is no such idea here.
ἱερουργοῦντα, ‘being the sacrificing priest of the Gospel of God.’ St. Paul is standing at the altar as priest of the Gospel, and the offering which he makes is the Gentile Church.
ἱερουργεῖν means (1) to ‘perform a sacred function,’ hence (2) especially to ‘sacrifice’; and so τὰ ἱερουργήθεντα means ‘the slain victims’ and then (3) to be a priest, to be one who performs sacred functions. Its construction is two-fold: (1) it may take the accusative of the thing sacrificed; so Bas. in Ps. cxv καὶ ἱερουργήσω σοι τὴν τῆς αἰνέσεως θυσίαν; or (2) ἱερουργεῖν τι may be put for ἱερουργόν τινος εἶναι (Galen, de Theriaca μυστηρίων ἱερουργόν), so 4 Macc. 7:8 (v. l.) τοὺς ἱερουργοῦντας τὸν νόμον: Greg. Naz. ἱερουργεῖν σωτηρίαν τινός (see Fri. ad loc. from whom this note is taken).
ἡ προσφορά. With this use of sacrificial language, cf. 12:1, 2. The sacrifices offered by the priest of the New Covenant were not the dumb animals as the old law commanded, but human beings, the great body of the Gentile Churches. Unlike the old sacrifices which were no longer pleasing to the Lord, these were acceptable (εὐπρόσδεκτος, 1 Peter 2:5). Those were animals without spot or blemish; these are made a pure and acceptable offering by the Holy Spirit which dwells in them (cf. 8:9, 11).
For the construction of προσφορά cf. Hebrews 10:10 π. τοῦ σώματος Ἰ. Χρ.
17. ἔχω οὖν τὴν καύχησιν. The τήν should be omitted (see below). ‘I have therefore my proper pride, and a feeling of confidence in my position, which arises from the fact that I am a servant of Christ, and a priest of the Gospel of God.’ St. Paul is defending his assumption of authority, and he does so on two grounds: (1) His Apostolic mission, διὰ τὴν χάριν τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι, as proved by his successful labours (vv. 18-20); (2) the sphere of his labours, the Gentile world, more especially that portion of it in which the Gospel had not been officially preached. The emphasis therefore is on ἐν Χρ. Ἰ., and τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν. With καύχησιν cf. 3:27, 1 Corinthians 15:31; with the whole verse, 2 Corinthians 10:13 ἡμεῖς δὲ οὐχὶ εἰς τὰ ἄμετρα καυχησόμεθα … 17 ὁ δὲ καυχώμενος ἐν Κυρίῳ καυχάσθω.
The RV. has not improved the text by adding τήν before καύχησιν. The combination א A L P, Boh., Arm., Chrys., Cyr., Theodrt. is stronger than that of B D E F G in this Epistle. C seems uncertain.
18. οὐ γὰρ τολμήσω κ.τ.λ. ‘For I will not presume to mention any works but those in which I was myself Christ’s agent for the conversion of Gentiles.’ St. Paul is giving his case for the assumption of authority (καύχησις). It is only his own labour or rather works done through himself that he cares to mention. But the value of such work is that it is not his own but Christ’s working in him, and that it is among Gentiles, and so gives him a right to exercise authority over a Gentile Church like the Roman.
With τολμήσω (א A C D E F G L P, Boh.. Harcl., etc.) cf. 2 Corinthians 10:12; there seems to be a touch of irony in its use here; with κατειργάσατο 2 Corinthians 12:12, Romans 7:13, &c. with λόγῳ καὶ ἔργῳ, ‘in speech or action,’ 2 Corinthians 10:11.
19. ἐν δυνάμει σημείων κ.τ.λ.: cf. 2 Corinthians 12:12 τὰ μὲν σημεῖα τοῦ ἀποστόλου κατειργάσθη ἐν ὑμῖν ἐν πάσῃ ὑπομονῇ, σημείοις τε καὶ τέρασι καὶ δυνάμεσι: Hebrews 2:4 συνεπιμαρτυροῦντος τοῦ Θεοῦ σημείοις τε καὶ τέρασι καὶ ποικίλαις δυνάμεσι καὶ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου μερισμοῖς κατὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ θέλησιν: 1 Corinthians 12:28.
The combination σημεῖα καὶ τέρατα is that habitually used throughout the N. T. to express what are popularly called miracles. Both words have the same denotation, but different connotations. τέρας implies anything marvellous or extraordinary in itself, σημεῖον represents the same event, but viewed not as an objectless phenomenon but as a sign or token of the agency by which it is accomplished or the purpose it is intended to fulfil. Often a third word δυνάμεις is added which implies that these ‘works’ are the exhibition of more than natural power. Here St. Paul varies the expression by saying that his work was accomplished in the power of signs and wonders; they are looked upon as a sign and external exhibition of the Apostolic χάρις. See Trench, Miracles xci; Fri. ad loc.
There can be no doubt that St. Paul in this passage assumes that he possesses the Apostolic power of working what are ordinarily called miracles. The evidence for the existence of miracles in the Apostolic Church is twofold: on the one hand the apparently natural and unobtrusive claim made by the Apostles on behalf of themselves or others to the power of working miracles, on the other the definite historical narrative of the Acts of the Apostles. The two witnesses corroborate one another. Against them it might be argued that the standard of evidence was lax, and that the miraculous and non-miraculous were not sufficiently distinguished. But will the first argument hold against a personal assertion? and does not the narrative of the Acts make it clear that miracles in a perfectly correct sense of the word were definitely intended?
ἐν δυνάμει Πνεύματος Ἁγίοὺ: cf. ver. 13, and on the reading here see below. St. Paul’s Apostolic labours are a sign of commission because they have been accompanied by a manifestation of more than natural gifts, and the source of his power is the Holy Spirit with which he is filled.
This seems one of those passages in which the value of the text of B where it is not vitiated by Western influence is conspicuous (cf. 4:1). It reads (alone or with the support of the Latin Fathers) πνεύματος without any addition. א L P &c., Orig.-lat. Chrys. &c., add θεοῦ, A C D F G Boh. Vulg. Arm., Ath. &c. read ἁγίου. Both were corrections of what seemed an unfinished expression.
ἀπὸ Ἱερουσαλὴμ καὶ κύκλῳ μέχρι τοῦ Ἰλλυρικοῦ. These words have caused a considerable amount of discussion.
1. The first question is as to the meaning of κύκλῳ.
(1) The majority of modern commentators (Fri. Gif. Mey.-W.) interpret it to mean the country round Jerusalem, as if it were καὶ τοῦ κύκλῳ, and explain it to mean Syria or in a more confined sense the immediate neighbourhood of the city. But it may be pointed out that κύκλῳ in the instances quoted of it in this sense (Genesis 35:5; Genesis 41:48) seems invariably to have the article.
(2) It may be suggested therefore that it is better to take it as do the majority of the Greek commentators and the AV. ‘from Jerusalem and round about unto Illyricum.’ So Oecumenius κύκλῳ ἵνα μὴ τὴν κατʼ εὐθεῖαν ὁδὸν ἐνθυμηθῇς, ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὰ πέριξ and to the same effect Chrys. Theodrt. Theophylact. This meaning is exactly supported by Xen. Anab. VII. i. 14 καὶ πότερα διὰ τοῦ ἱεροῦ ὄρους δέοι πορεύασθαι, ἢ κύκλῳ διὰ μέσης τῆς Θρᾴκης, and substantially by Mark 6:6.
2. It has also been debated whether the words ‘as far as Illyria’ include or exclude that country. The Greek is ambiguous; certainly it admits the exclusive use. μέχρι θαλάσσης can be used clearly as excluding the sea. As far as regards the facts the narrative of the Acts (τὰ μέρη ἐκεῖνα Acts 20:2; cf. Titus 3:12) suggests that St. Paul may have preached in Illyria, but leave it uncertain. A perfectly tenable explanation of the words would be that if Jerusalem were taken as one limit and the Eastern boundaries of Illyria as the other, St. Paul had travelled over the whole of the intervening district, and not merely confined himself to the direct route between the two places. Jerusalem and Illyria in fact represent the limits.
If this be the interpretation of the passage it is less important to fix the exact meaning of the word Illyria as used here; but a passage in Strabo seems to suggest the idea which was in St. Paul’s mind when he wrote. Strabo, describing the Egnatian way from the Adriatic sea-coast, states that it passes through a portion of Illyria before it reaches Macedonia, and that the traveller along it has the Illyrian mountains on his left hand. St. Paul would have followed this road as far as Thessalonica, and if pointing Westward he had asked the names of the mountain region and of the peoples inhabiting it, he would have been told that it was ‘Illyria.’ The term therefore is the one which would naturally occur to him as fitted to express the limits of his journeys to the West (Strabo vii. 7. 4).
The word Illyria might apparently be used at this period in two senses. (1) As the designation of a Roman province it might be used for what was otherwise called Dalmatia, the province on the Adriatic sea-coast north of Macedonia and west of Thrace. (2) Ethnically it would mean the country inhabited by Illyrians, a portion of which was included in the Roman province of Macedonia. In this sense it is used in Appian, Illyrica 1, 7; Jos. Bell. Iud. II. xvi. 4; and the passage of Strabo quoted above.
πεπληρωκέναι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ: cf. Colossians 1:25 ἧς ἐγενόμην ἐγὼ διάκονος κατὰ τὴν οἰκονομίαν τοῦ Θεοῦ τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι εἰς ὑμᾶς, πληρῶσαι τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ. In both passages the meaning is to ‘fulfil,’ ‘carry out completely,’ and so in the AV. ‘to fully preach.’ In what sense St. Paul could say that he had done this, see below.
20. οὕτω δὲ φιλοτιμούμενον κ.τ.λ. introduces a limitation of the statement of the previous verses. Within that area there had been places where he had not been eager to preach, since he cared only to spread the Gospel, not to compete with others. οὕτω is explained by what follows. φιλοτιμούμενον (1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 5:9) means to ‘strive eagerly,’ having lost apparently in late Greek its primary idea of emulation. See Field, Otium Norv. iii. p. 100, who quotes Polyb. i. 83; Diod. Sic. xii. 46; xvi. 49; Plut. Vit. Caes. liv.
ὠνομάσθη: ‘so named as to be worshipped.’ Cf. 2 Timothy 2:19; Isaiah 26:13; Amos 6:10.
ἀλλότριον θεμέλιον. For ἀλλότριον cf. 2 Corinthians 10:15, 2 Corinthians 10:16. St. Paul describes his work (1 Corinthians 3:10) as laying a ‘foundation stone’: ὡς σοφὸς ἀρχιτέκτων θεμέλιον ἔθηκα· ἀλλὸς δὲ ἐποικοδομεῖ: and so generally the Church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20).
21. ἀλλὰ καθὼς γέγραπται. St. Paul describes the aim of his mission (the limitations of which he has just mentioned) in words chosen from the O. T. The quotation which follows is taken verbally from the LXX of Isaiah 52:15, which differs but not essentially from the Hebrew. The Prophet describes the astonishment of the nations and kings at the suffering of the servant of Jehovah. ‘That which hath not been told them they shall see.’ The LXX translates this ‘those to whom it was not told shall see,’ and St. Paul taking these words applies them (quite in accordance with the spirit of the original) to the extension of the knowledge of the true Servant of Jehovah to places where his name has not been mentioned.
Verses 19-21, or rather a portion of them (ὥστε με … ἀλλά), are still objected to by commentators (as by Lipsius) who recognize the futility of the objections to the chapter as a whole. In a former case (11:8-10) the clumsiness of an excision suggested by Lipsius was noticed and here he has not been any happier. He omits ver. 20, but keeps the quotation in ver. 21, yet this quotation is clearly suggested by the preceding words οὐχ ὅπου ὠνομάσθη Χριστός. It would be strange if an interpolator were to make the sequence of thought more coherent.
The general objections to the passage seem to be—
(1) It is argued that St. Paul had never preached in Jerusalem, nor would have been likely to mention that place as the starting-point of his mission; that these words therefore are a ‘concession made to the Jewish Christians,’ and hence that the chapter is a result of the same conciliation tendency which produced the Acts. Most readers would probably be satisfied with being reminded that according to the Acts St. Paul had preached in Jerusalem (Acts 9:28, Acts 9:29). But it may be also pointed out that St. Paul is merely using the expression geographically to define out the limits within which he had preached the Gospel; while he elsewhere (Romans 11:26) speaks of Sion as the centre from which the Gospel has gone forth.
(2) It is asserted that St. Paul had never preached in Illyricum. There is some inconsistency in first objecting to the language of this passage because it agrees with that of the Acts, and then criticizing it because it contains some statement not supported by the same book. But the reference to Illyricum has been explained above. The passages of the Acts quoted clearly leave room for St. Paul having preached in districts inhabited by Illyrians. He would have done so if he had gone along the Egnatian way. But the words do not necessarily mean that he had been in Illyria, and it is quite possible to explain them in the sense that he had preached as far as that province and no further. In no case do they contain any statement inconsistent with the genuineness of the passage.
(3) It is objected that St. Paul could in no sense use such a phrase as πεπληρωκέναι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον. But by this expression he does not mean that he had preached in every town or village, but only that everywhere there were centres from which Christianity could spread. His conception of the duties of an Apostle was that he should found churches and leave to others to build on the foundation thus laid (1 Corinthians 3:7, 1 Corinthians 3:10). As a matter of fact within the limits laid down Christianity had been very widely preached. There were churches throughout all Cilicia (Acts 15:41), Galatia, and Phrygia (Galatians 1:1; Acts 18:23). The three years’ residence in Ephesus implied that that city was the centre of missionary activity extending throughout all the province of Asia (Acts 19:10) even to places not visited by St. Paul himself (Colossians 2:1). Thessalonica was early a centre of Christian propaganda (1 Thessalonians 1:7, 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:10), and later St. Paul again spent some time there (Acts 20:2). The Second Epistle to the Corinthians contains in the greeting the words σὺν τοῖς ἁγίοις πᾶσι τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Ἀχαίᾳ, showing that the long residence at Corinth had again produced a wide extension of the Gospel. As far as the Adriatic coast St. Paul might well have considered that he had fulfilled his mission of preaching the Gospel, and the great Egnatian road he had followed would lead him straight to Rome.
(4) A difficulty is found in the words ‘that I may not build on another man’s foundation.’ It is said that St. Paul has just expressed his desire to go to Rome, that in fact he expresses this desire constantly (1:5, 13; 12:3; 15:15), but that here he states that he does not wish to build on another man’s foundation; how then it is asked could he wish to go to Rome where there was already a church? But there is no evidence that Christianity had been officially or systematically preached there (Acts 28:22), and only a small community was in existence, which had grown up chiefly as composed of settlers from other places. Moreover, St. Paul specially says that it is for the sake of mutual grace and encouragement that he wishes to go there; he implies that he does not wish to stay long, but desires to press on further westward (ver. 24).
THE APOSTLE’S PLANS
15:22-33. I have been these many times hindered from coming to you, although I have long eagerly desired it. Now I hope I may accomplish my wish in the course of a journey to Spain. But not immediately. I must first take to Jerusalem the contributions sent thither by Macedonia and Achaia—a generous gift, and yet but a just recompense for the spiritual blessings the Gentile Churches have received from the Jews. When this mission is accomplished I hope I may come to you on my way to Spain (vv. 22-29).
Meantime I earnestly ask your prayers for my own personal safety and that the gifts I bear may be received by the Church. I shall then, if God will, come to you with a light heart, and be refreshed by your company. May the God of peace make His peace to light upon you (vv. 30-33).
22. διὸ καί. The reason why St. Paul had been so far prevented from coming to Rome was not the fear that he might build on another man’s foundation, but the necessity of preaching Christ in the districts through which he had been travelling; now there was no region untouched by his apostolic labours, no further place for action in those districts. ἐνεκοπτόμην: Galatians 5:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 1 Peter 3:7.
τὰ πολλά, ‘these many times,’ i.e. all the times when I thought of doing so, or had an opportunity, as in the RV.; not, as most commentators, ‘for the most part’ (Vulg. plerumque). πολλάκις, which is read by Lips. with B D E F G, is another instance of Western influence in B.
15:23. νυνὶ δὲ μηκέτι τόπον ἔχων, ‘seeing that I have no longer opportunity for work in these regions.’ τόπον, as in 12:19, q.v.; Ephesians 4:27; Hebrews 12:17, ‘opportunity,’ ‘scope for action.’ κλίμασι, ‘tracts’ or ‘regions’ (2 Corinthians 11:10; Galatians 1:21; often in Polybius).
ἐπιποθίαν does not occur elsewhere; but ἐπιποθεῖν (Romans 1:11; 2 Corinthians 5:2; 2 Corinthians 9:14; Php 1:8; Php 2:26; 1 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Timothy 1:4; Jam 4:5; 1 Peter 2:2) and ἐπιπόθησις (2 Corinthians 7:7, 2 Corinthians 7:11) are not uncommon. On its signification, ‘a longing desire,’ see on 1:11.
ἱκανῶν: a very favourite word in the Acts of the Apostles (9:23; 18:18, &c.,). ‘It is likely enough that St. Paul’s special interest in the Christian community at Rome, though hardly perhaps his knowledge of it, dates from his acquaintance with Aquila and Priscilla at Corinth. This was somewhere about six years before the writing of the Epistle to the Romans, and that interval would perhaps suffice to justify his language about having desired to visit them ἀπὸ ἱκανῶν ἐτῶν (a rather vague phrase, but not so strong as the ἀπὸ πολλῶν ἐτῶν, which was easily substituted for it)’ Hort, Rom. and Eph. p. 11.
For ἐπιποθίαν δὲ ἔχων Western authorities (D F G) read ἔχω, an attempt to correct the grammar of the sentence. ἱκανῶν, read by B C 37. 59. 71, Jo.-Damasc., is probably right for πολλῶν, which is supported by all other authorities and is read by R.V.
24. In this verse the words ἐλεύσομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς, which are inserted by the TR. after Σπανίαν, must be omitted on conclusive manuscript evidence, while γάρ must as certainly be inserted after ἐλπίζω. These changes make the sentence an anacolouthon, almost exactly resembling that in 5:12 ff., and arising from very much the same causes. St. Paul does not finish the sentence because he feels that he must explain what is the connexion between his visit to Spain and his desire to visit Rome, so he begins the parenthesis ἐλπίζω γάρ. Then he feels he must explain the reason why he does not start at once; he mentions his contemplated visit to Jerusalem and the purpose of it. This leads him so far away from the original sentence that he is not able to complete it; but in ver. 28 he resumes the main argument, and gives what is the logical, but not the grammatical, apodosis (cf. 5:18).
ὡς ἂν πορεύωμαι. The ὡς ἄν is temporal: cf. Php 2:23; 1 Corinthians 11:34: on this latter passage Evans, in Speaker’s Comm. p. 328, writes: ‘When I come: rather according as I come: the presence of the ἄν points to uncertainty of the time and of the event: for this use comp. Aesch. Eum. 33 μαντεύομαι γὰρ ὡς ἂν ἡγῆται θεός.’
προπεμφθῆναι: 1 Corinthians 16:6, 1 Corinthians 16:11; 2 Corinthians 1:16; need not mean more than to be sent forward on a journey with prayers and good wishes. The best commentary on this verse is ch. 1:11 ff.
Lipsius again strikes out vv. 23, 24 and below in ver. 28 διʼ ὑμῶν εἰς τὴν Σπανίαν—a most arbitrary and unnecessary proceeding. The construction of the passage has been explained above and is quite in accordance with St. Paul’s style, and the desire to pass further west and visit Spain is not in any way inconsistent with the desire to visit Rome. The existence of a community there did not at all preclude him from visiting the city, or from preaching in it; but it would make it less necessary for him to remain long. On the other hand, the principal argument against the genuineness of the passage, that St. Paul never did visit Spain (on which see below ver. 28), is most inconclusive; a forger would never have interpolated a passage in order to suggest a visit to Spain which had never taken place. But all such criticism fails absolutely to realize the width and boldness of St. Paul’s schemes. He must carry the message of the Gospel ever further. Nothing will stop him but the end of his own life or the barrier of the ocean.
25. St. Paul now mentions a further reason which will cause some delay in his visit to Rome, and his missionary journey to Spain.
διακονῶν τοῖς ἁγίοις: cf. 2 Corinthians 8:4 τὴν κοινωνίαν τῆς διακονίας τῆς εἰς τοὺς ἁγίους. The expression ‘ministering to the saints’ has become almost a technical expression in St. Paul for the contributions made by the Gentile Christians to the Church at Jerusalem.
26. εὐδόκησαν implies that the contribution was voluntary, and made with heartiness and good-will: see on Romans 10:1 (εὐδοκία); 1 Corinthians 1:21; Galatians 1:15.
κοινωνίαν: of a collection or contribution 2 Corinthians 8:4; 2 Corinthians 9:13 ἁπλότητι τῆς κοινωνίας εἰς αὐτοὺς καὶ εἰς πάντας and κοινωνεῖν Romans 12:13 ταῖς χρείαις τῶν ἁγίων κοινωνοῦντες.
πτωχούς: cf. Galatians 2:10 μόνον τῶν πτωχῶν ἵνα μνημονεύωμεν. On the poor Christians at Jerusalem see Jam 2:2 ff.; Renan, Hist. des Origines, &c., vol. iv. ch. 3. In Jerusalem the Sadducees, who were the wealthy aristocracy, were the determined opponents of Christianity, and there must have been in the city a very large class of poor who were dependent on the casual employment and spasmodic alms which are a characteristic of a great religious centre. The existence of this class is clearly implied in the narrative at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles. There was from the very first a considerable body of poor dependent on the Church, and hence the organization of the Christian community with its lists (1 Timothy 5:19) and common Church fund (ἀπὸ τοῦ κοινοῦ Ign. Ad Polyc. iv. 3) and officers for distributing alms (Acts 6:1-4) must have sprung up very early.
27. εὐδόκησαν κ.τ.λ. St. Paul emphasizes the good-will with which this contribution was made by repeating the word εὐδόκησαν; he then points out that in another sense it was only the repayment of a debt. The Churches of the Gentiles owed all the spiritual blessings they enjoyed to that of Jerusalem, ‘from whom is Christ according to the flesh,’ and they could only repay the debt by ministering in temporal things.
πνευματικοῖς … σαρκικοῖς. Both are characteristically Pauline words. 1 Corinthians 9:11 εἰ ἡμεῖς ὑμῖν τὰ πνευματικὰ ἐσπείραμεν, μέγα εἰ ῆμεῖς ὑμῶν τὰ σαρκικὰ θερίσομεν; σαρκικοῖς is used without any bad association.
ἐκοινώνησαν. The word κοινωνέω, of which the meaning is of course ‘to be a sharer or participator in,’ may be used either of the giver or of the receiver. The giver shares with the receiver by giving contributions, so Romans 12:13 (quoted on ver. 26); the receiver with the giver by receiving contributions, so here. The normal construction in the N. T. is as here with the dative: once (Hebrews 2:14) it is used with the genitive, and this construction is common in the O. T. (Lft. on Galatians 6:6).
The contributions for the poor in Jerusalem are mentioned in Romans 15:26, Romans 15:27; 1 Corinthians 16:1-3; 2 Corinthians 9:1 ff; Acts 24:17, and form the subject of the ablest and most convincing section in Paley’s Horae Paulinae. Without being in any way indebted to one another, and each contributing some new element, all the different accounts fit and dovetail into one another, and thus imply that they are all historical. ‘For the singular evidence which this passage affords of the genuineness of the Epistle, and what is more important, as it has been impugned, of this chapter in particular, see Paley’s Horae Paulinae, chap. ii. No. 1.’ Jowett, ad loc., and for some further reff. see Introd. § 4.
28. ἐπιτελέσας … σφραγισάμενος. St. Paul resumes his argument and states his plans after the digression he has just made on what lies in the immediate future. With ἐπιτελέσας (a Pauline word), cf. Php 1:6; it was used especially of the fulfilment of religious rites (Hebrews 9:6 and in classical authors), and coupled with λειτουργῆσαι above, suggests that St. Paul looks upon these contributions of the Gentile communities as a solemn religious offering and part of their εὐχαριστία for the benefits received.
σφραγισάμενος, ‘having set the seal of authentication on.’ The seal was used as an official mark of ownership: hence especially the expression ‘the seal of baptism’ (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; see on 4:11). Here the Apostle implies that by taking the contributions to Jerusalem, and presenting them to the Church, he puts the mark on them (as a steward would do), showing that they are the fruit to the Church of Jerusalem of those spiritual blessings (πνευματικά) which through him had gone forth to the Gentile world.
εἰς τὴν Σπανίαν. It has been shown above that it is highly probable that St. Paul should have desired to visit Spain, and that therefore nothing in these verses throws any doubt on the authenticity of the chapter as a whole or of any portions of it. A further question arises, Was the journey ever carried out? Some fresh light is perhaps thrown on the question by Professor Ramsay’s book The Church and the Empire. If his arguments are sound, there is no reason to suppose that if St. Paul was martyred at Rome (as tradition seems to suggest) he must necessarily have suffered in what is ordinarily called the Neronian persecution. He might have been beheaded either in the later years of Nero’s reign or even under Vespasian. So that, if we are at liberty to believe that he survived his first imprisonment, there is no need to compress, as has been customary, the later years of his missionary activity.
It is on these assumptions easier to find room for the Spanish journey. Have we evidence for it? Dismissing later writers who seem to have had no independent evidence, our authorities are reduced to two, the Muratorian Fragment on the Canon, and Clement of Rome. We cannot lay much stress on the former; it is possible perhaps that the writer had independent knowledge, but it is certainly more probable that he is merely drawing a conclusion, and not quite a correct one, from this Epistle: the words are sed et profectionem Pauli ab urbe ad Spaniam proficiscentis. The passage in Clement (§ 5) runs as follows: Παῦλος ὑπομονῆς βραβεῖον ὑπέδειξεν, ἑπτάκις δεσμὰ φορέσας, φυγαδευθείς, λιθασθείς, κῆρυξ γενόμενος ἔν τε τῇ ἀνατολῇ καὶ ἐν τῇ δύσει, τὸ γενναῖον τῆς πίστεως αὐτοῦ κλέος ἔλαβεν, δικαιοσύνην διδάξας ὅλον τὸν κόσμον καὶ ἐπὶ τὸ τέρμα τῆς δύσεως ἐλθών, καὶ μαρτυρήσας ἐπὶ τῶν ἡγουμένων, οὕτως ἀπηλλάγη τοῦ κόσμου καὶ εἰς τὸν ἅγιον τόπον ἐπορεύθη. This passage is much stronger, and Lightfoot’s note in favour of interpreting the words τὸ τέρμα τῆς δύσεως as meaning Spain is very weighty; but is it quite certain that a Jew, as Clement probably was (according to Lightfoot himself), speaking of St. Paul another Jew would not look upon Rome relatively to Jerusalem as the τέρμα τῆς δύσεως, ‘the western limit’? We in England might for example speak of Athens as being in the Eastern Mediterranean. There is also some force in Hilgenfeld’s argument that ἐλθών and μαρτυρήσας should be taken together. For these reasons the question whether St. Paul ever visited Spain must remain very doubtful.
29. πληρώματι: see on 11:12. St. Paul feels confident that his visit to Rome will result in a special gift of Christ’s blessing. He will confer on the Church a χάρισμα πνευματικόν, and will in his turn be comforted by the mutual faith which will be exhibited. Cf. 1:11, 12.
It has been pointed out how strongly these words make for the authenticity and early date of this chapter. No one could possibly write in this manner at a later date, knowing the circumstances under which St. Paul actually did visit Rome. See also ver. 32 ἵνα ἐν χαρᾷ ἐλθὼν πρὸς ὑμᾶς διὰ θελήματος Θεοῦ συναναπαύσωμαι ὑμῖν.
The TR. reads with אc L &c., Vulg.-clem. Syrr. Arm., Chrys. Theodrt. εὐλογίας τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τοῦ Χρ. The words τοῦ εὐ. τοῦ should be omitted on decisive authority.
30. The reference to his visit to Jerusalem reminds St. Paul of the dangers and anxieties which that implies, and leads him to conclude this section with an earnest entreaty to the Roman Christians to join in prayers on his behalf. Hort (Rom. and Eph. PP. 42-46) points out how this tone harmonizes with the dangers that the Apostle apprehended (cf. Acts 20:17-38, Acts 20:21:13, &c.): ‘We cannot here mistake the twofold thoughts of the Apostle’s mind. He is full of eager anticipation of visiting Rome with the full blessing of the accomplishment of that peculiar ministration. But he is no less full of misgivings as to the probability of escaping with his life’ (p. 43).
διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης τοῦ Πνεύματος. That brotherly love which is one of the fruits of the Spirit working in us (cf. Galatians 5:22). That πνεῦμα is personal is shown by the parallelism with the first clause.
συναγωνίσασθαι. ‘He breaks off afresh in an earnest entreaty to them to join him in an intense energy of prayer, wrestling as it were’ (Hort, op. cit. p. 43). They will as it were take part in the contest that he must fight by praying on his behalf to God, for all prayer is a spiritual wrestling against opposing powers. So of our Lord’s agony in the garden: Luke 22:44; Matthew 26:42. Cp. Origen ad loc.: Vix enim invenies, ut oranti cuiquam non aliquid inanis et alienae cogitationis occurrat, et intentionem, qua in Deum mens dirigitur, declinet ac frangat, atque eam per ea quae non competit, rapiat. Et ideo agon magnus est orationis, ut obsistentibus inimicis, et orationis sensum in diversa rapientibus, fixa ad Deum semper mens stabili intentione contendat, ut merito possit etiam ipse dicere: certamen bonum certavi, cursum consummavi.
31. The Apostle’s fear is double. He fears the attacks upon himself of the unbelieving Jews, to whom more than any other Christian teacher he was an object of hatred: and he is not certain whether the peace-offering of the Gentile Churches which he was bearing to Jerusalem would be accepted as such by the narrow Jewish Christians at Jerusalem. How strong the first feeling was and how amply justified the Acts of the Apostles show (Acts 20:3, Acts 20:22; Acts 21:11).
In ver. 30 ἀδελφοί is omitted by B 76, Aeth., Chrys. alone, but perhaps correctly. In ver. 31 ἡ δωροφορία for διακονία, and ἐν Ἱερουσαλήμ for εἰς Ἱ. are instances of Western paraphrase shared by B (B D F G).
32. But the prayer that the Roman Christians offer for St. Paul will also be a prayer for themselves. If his visit to Jerusalem be successful, and his peace-offering be accepted, he will come to Rome with stronger and deeper Christian joy. ‘After the personal danger and the ecclesiastical crisis of which the personal danger formed a part’ (Hort) he hopes to find rest in a community as yet untroubled by such strife and distraction.
συναναπαύσωμαι, ‘I may rest and refresh my spirit with you.’ Only used here in this sense (but later in Hegesippus ap. Eus. H. E. IV. xxii. 2). Elsewhere it is used of sleeping together (Isaiah 11:6). The unusual character of the word may have been the cause of its omission in B and the alteration in some Western MSS. (see below).
There are several variations of reading in this verse:
(1) א A C, Boh. Arm., Orig.-lat. read ἐλθὼν … συναναπαύσωμαι with some variation in the position of ἐλθών (after ἵνα א, Boh., Orig.-lat.; after χαρᾷ A C agreeing in this with other authorities). All later MSS. with the Western group read ἔλθω and insert καί before συναναπαύσωμαι. B is alone in having ἔλθω and omitting συναναπαύσωμαι ὑμῖν, but receives support in the reading of some Western authorities; D E read ἀναψύξω μεθʼ ὑμῶν, F G ἀναψύχω μ. ὑ., agreeing with most Latin authorities, refrigerer vobiscum.
(2) For διὰ θελήματος Θεοῦ (A C L P R, Vulg. Syrr. Boh. Arm., Orig.-lat. Chrys. Thdrt.), א Ambrst. have δ. θ. Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, D E F G (with d e f g), fuld. Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, B Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ. Lightfoot (On a fresh Revision, &c., pp. 106 ff.) suggests that the original reading was θελήματος used absolutely of the Divine will: cf. Romans 2:18; 1 Corinthians 16:12. See also his note on Ign. Eph. § 20, Rom. § 1 (where some authorities add τοῦ Θεοῦ, others domini), Smyrn. §§ 1, 11. Elsewhere in St. Paul the expression always is θέλημα Θεοῦ, except once, Ephesians 5:17 τὸ θέλημα τοῦ Κυρίου.
33. ὁ δὲ Θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης: cf. ver. 5. St. Paul concludes his request for a prayer with a prayer of his own for them. ‘Peace,’ a keynote of the Epistle, is one of his last thoughts.
A F G and some minuscules omit ἀμήν. On the importance ascribed to this word by some commentators see the Introduction, § 9.
T. R. Textus Receptus.
F Cod. Augiensis
G Cod. Boernerianus
P Cod. Porphyrianus
B Cod. Vaticanus
Orig.-lat. Latin Version of Origen
אԠCod. Sinaiticus, corrector c
A Cod. Alexandrinus
L Cod. Angelicus
&c. always qualify the word which precedes, not that which follows:
D Cod. Claromontanus
E Cod. Sangermanensis
C Cod. Ephraemi Rescriptus
RV. Revised Version.
WH. Westcott and Hort.
Fri. Fritzsche (C. F. A.).
AV. Authorized Version.
d Latin version of D
e Latin version of E
f Latin version of F
g Latin version of G
Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.
For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
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:
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.
And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.
And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain 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,
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.
Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:
But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.
For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.
But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you;
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.
But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.
For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at 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.
When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into 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.
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;
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;
That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.
Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.