Romans 1:11
For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, to the end you may be established;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) That I may impart unto you some spiritual gift.—Such gifts as would naturally flow to one Christian (or to many collectively) from the personal presence and warm sympathy of another; in St. Paul’s case, heightened in proportion to the wealth and elevation of his own spiritual consciousness and life. His head and his heart alike are full to overflowing, and he longs to disburthen himself and impart some of these riches to the Romans. Inasmuch as he regards all his own religious advancement and experience as the result of the Spirit working within him, he calls the fruits of that advancement and experience “spiritual gifts.” All the apostolic gifts—miraculous as well as non-miraculous—would be included in this expression. Indeed, we may believe that the Apostle would hardly draw the distinction that we do between the two kinds. Both alike were in his eyes the direct gift of the Spirit.

To the end ye may be established.—That they may grow and be confirmed and strengthened in the faith. As a rule the great outpouring of spiritual gifts was at the first foundation of a church. St. Paul was not the founder of the church at Rome, but he hoped to be able to contribute to its advance and consolidation.

Romans

PAUL’S LONGING 1

Romans 1:11 - Romans 1:12
.

I am not wont to indulge in personal references in the pulpit, but I cannot but yield to the impulse to make an exception now, and to let our happy circumstances mould my remarks. I speak mainly to mine own people, and I must trust that other friends who may hear or read my words will forgive my doing so.

In taking such a text as this, I desire to shelter myself behind Paul, and in expounding his feelings to express my own, and to draw such lessons as may be helpful and profitable to us all. And so there are three things in this text that I desire to note: the manly expression of Christian affection; the lofty consciousness of the purpose of their meeting; and the lowly sense that there was much to be received as well as much to be given. A word or two about each of these things is all on which I can venture.

I. First, then, notice the manly expression of Christian affection which the Apostle allows himself here.

Very few Christian teachers could or should venture to talk so much about themselves as Paul did. The strong infusion of the personal element in all his letters is so transparently simple, so obviously sincere, so free from any jarring note of affectation or unctuous sentiment that it attracts rather than repels. If I might venture upon a paradox, his personal references are instances of self-oblivion in the midst of self-consciousness.

He had never been in Rome when he wrote these words; he had no personal relations with the believers there; he had never looked them in the face; there were no sympathy and confidence between them, as the growth of years. But still his heart went out towards them, and he was not ashamed to show it. ‘I long to see you,’-in the original the word expresses a very intense amount of yearning blended with something of regret that he had been so long kept from them.

Now it is not a good thing for people to make many professions of affection, and I think a public teacher has something better to do than to parade such feelings before his audiences. But there are exceptions to all rules, and I suppose I may venture to let my heart speak, and to say how gladly I come back to the old place, dear to me by so many sacred memories and associations, and how gladly I reknit the bonds of an affection which has been unbroken, and deepening on both sides through thirty long years.

Dear friends! let us together thank God to-day if He has knit our hearts together in mutual affection; and if you and I can look each other, as I believe we can, in the eyes, with the assurance that I see only the faces of friends, and that you see the face of one who gladly resumes the old work and associations.

But now, dear brethren, let us draw one lesson. Unless there be this manly, honest, though oftenest silent, Christian affection, the sooner you and I part the better. Unless it be in my heart I can do you no good. No man ever touched another with the sweet constraining forces that lie in Christ’s Gospel unless the heart of the speaker went out to grapple the hearts of the hearers. And no audience ever listen with any profit to a man when they come in the spirit of carping criticism, or of cold admiration, or of stolid indifference. There must be for this simple relationship which alone binds a Nonconformist preacher to his congregation, as a sine qua non of all higher things and of all spiritual good, a real, though oftenest it be a concealed, mutual affection and regard. We have to thank God for much of it; let us try to get more. That is all I want to say about the first point here.

II. Note the lofty consciousness of the purpose of their meeting.

‘I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift.’ Paul knew that he had something which he could give to these people, and he calls it by a very comprehensive term, ‘some spiritual gift’-a gift of some sort which, coming from the Divine Spirit, was to be received into the human spirit.

Now that expression-a spiritual gift-in the New Testament has a variety of applications. Sometimes it refers to what we call miraculous endowments, sometimes it refers to what we may call official capacity; but here it is evidently neither the one nor the other of these more limited and special things, but the general idea of a divine operation upon the human spirit which fills it with Christian graces-knowledge, faith, love. Or, in simpler words, what Paul wanted to give them was a firmer grasp and fuller possession of Jesus Christ, His love and power, which would secure a deepening and strengthening of their whole Christian life. He was quite sure he had this to give, and that he could impart it, if they would listen to what he would say to them. But whilst thus he rises into the lofty conception of the purpose and possible result of his meeting the Roman Christians, he is just as conscious of the limitations of his power in the matter as he is of the greatness of his function. These are indicated plainly. The word which he employs here, ‘gift’ is never used in the New Testament for a thing that one man can give to another, but is always employed for the concrete results of the grace of God bestowed upon men. The very expression, then, shows that Paul thought of himself, not as the original giver, but simply as a channel through which was communicated what God had given. In the same direction points the adjective which accompanies the noun-a ‘spiritual gift’-which probably describes the origin of the gift as being the Spirit of God, rather than defines the seat of it when received as being the spirit of the receiver. Notice, too, as bearing on the limits of Paul’s part in the gift, the propriety and delicacy of the language in his statement of the ultimate purpose of the gift. He does not say ‘that I may strengthen you,’ which might have sounded too egotistical, and would have assumed too much to himself, but he says ‘that ye may be strengthened,’ for the true strengthener is not Paul, but the Spirit of God.

So, on the one hand, the Christian teacher is bound to rise to the height of the consciousness of his lofty vocation as having in possession a gift that he can bestow; on the other hand, he is bound ever to remember the limitations within which that is true-viz. that the gift is not his, but God’s, and that the Spirit of the Lord is the true Giver of all the graces which may blossom when His word, ministered by human agents, is received into human hearts.

And, now, what are the lessons that I take from this? Two very simple ones. First, no Christian teacher has any business to open his mouth, unless he is sure that he has received something to impart to men as a gift from the Divine Spirit. To preach our doubts, to preach our own opinions, to preach poor platitudes, to talk about politics and morals and taste and literature and the like in the pulpit, is profanation and blasphemy. Let no man open his lips unless he can say: ‘The Lord hath showed me this; and this I bring to you as His word.’ Nor has a Christian organisation any right to exist, unless it recognises the communication and reception and further spreading of this spiritual gift as its great function. Churches which have lost that consciousness, and, instead of a divine gift, have little more to offer than formal worship, or music, or entertainments, or mere intellectual discourse, whether orthodox or ‘advanced,’ have no right to be; and by the law of the survival of the fittest will not long be. The one thing that warrants such a relationship as subsists between you and me is this, my consciousness that I have a message from God, and your belief that you hear such from my lips. Unless that be our bond the sooner these walls crumble, and this voice ceases, and these pews are emptied, the better. ‘I have,’ says, Paul, ‘a gift to impart; and I long to see you that I may impart it to you.’ Oh! for more, in all our pulpits, of that burdened consciousness of a divine message which needs the relief of speech, and longs with a longing caught from Christ to impart its richest treasures.

That is the one lesson. And the other one is this. Have you, dear friends, received the gift that I have, under the limitations already spoken of, to bestow? There are some of you who have listened to my voice ever since you were children-some of you, though not many, have heard it for well on to thirty years. Have you taken the thing that all these years I have been-God knows how poorly, but God knows how honestly-trying to bring to you? That is, have you taken Christ, and have you faith in Him? And, as for those of you who say that you are Christians, many blessings have passed between you and me through all these years; but, dear friends, has the chief blessing been attained? Are you being strengthened day by day for the burdens and the annoyances and the sorrows of life by your coming here? Do I do you any good in that way; are you better men than when we first met together? Is Christ dearer, and more real and nearer to you; and are your lives more transparently consecrated, more manifestly the result of a hidden union with Him? Do you walk in the world like the Master, because you are members of this congregation? If so, its purpose has been accomplished. If not, it has miserably failed.

I have said that I have to thank God for the unbroken affection that has knit us together. But what is the use of such love if it does not lead onwards to this? I have had enough, and more than enough, of what you call popularity and appreciation, undeserved enough, but rendered unstintedly by you. I do not care the snap of a finger for it by comparison with this other thing. And oh, dear brethren! if all that comes of our meeting here Sunday after Sunday is either praise or criticism of my poor words and ways, our relationship is a curse, and not a blessing, and we come together for the worse and not for the better. The purpose of the Church, and the purpose of the ministry, and the meaning of our assembling are, that spiritual gifts may be imparted, not by me alone, but by you, too, and by me in my place and measure, and if that purpose be not accomplished, all other purposes, that are accomplished, are of no account, and worse than nothing.

III. And now, lastly, note the lowly consciousness that much was to be received as well as much to be given.

The Apostle corrects himself after he has said ‘that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift,’ by adding, ‘that is, that I may be comforted {or rather, encouraged} together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.’ If his language were not so transparently sincere, and springing from deep interest in the relationship between himself and these people, we should say that it was exquisite courtesy and beautiful delicacy. But it moves in a region far more real than the region of courtesy, and it speaks the inmost truth about the conditions on which the Roman Christians should receive-viz. that they should also give. There is only one Giver who is only a Giver, and that is God. All other givers are also receivers. Paul desired to see his Roman brethren that he might be encouraged; and when he did see them, as he marched along the Appian Way, a shipwrecked prisoner, the Acts of the Apostles tells us, ‘He thanked God and took courage.’ The sight of them strengthened him and prepared him for what lay before him.

Paul’s was a richly complicated nature-firm as a rock in its will, tremulously sensitive in its sympathies; like some strongly-rooted tree with its stable stem and a green cloud of fluttering foliage that moves in the lightest air. So his spirit rose and fell according to the reception that he met from his brethren, and the manifestation of their faith quickened and strengthened his.

And he is but one instance of a universal law. All teachers, the more genuine they are, the more sympathetic they are, are the more sensitive of their environment. The very oratorical temperament places a man at the mercy of surroundings. All earnest work has ever travelling with it as its shadow seasons of deep depression; and the Christian teacher does not escape these. I am not going to speak about myself, but this is unquestionably true, that every Elijah, after the mightiest effort of prophecy, is apt to cover his head in his mantle and to say, ‘Take me away; I am not better than my fathers.’ And when a man for thirty years, amidst all the changes incident to a great city congregation in that time, has to stand up Sunday after Sunday before the same people, and mark how some of them are stolidly indifferent, and note how others are dropping away from their faithfulness, and see empty places where loving forms used to sit-no wonder that the mood comes ever and anon, ‘Then, said I, surely I have laboured in vain and spent my strength for nought.’ The hearer reacts on the speaker quite as much as the speaker does on the hearer. If you have ice in the pews, that brings down the temperature up here. It is hard to be fervid amidst people that are all but dead. It is difficult to keep a fire alight when it is kindled on the top of an iceberg. And the unbelief and low-toned religion of a congregation are always pulling down the faith and the fervour of their minister, if he be better and holier, as they expect him to be, than they are.

‘He did not many works because of their unbelief.’ Christ knew the hampering and the restrictions of His power which came from being surrounded by a chill, unsympathetic environment. My strength and my weakness are largely due to you. And if you want your minister to preach better, and in all ways to do his work more joyfully and faithfully, the means lie largely in your own hands. Icy indifference, ill-natured interpretations, carping criticisms, swift forgetfulness of one’s words, all these things kill the fervour of the pulpit.

On the other hand, the true encouragement to give a man when he is trying to do God’s will, to preach Christ’s Gospel, is not to pat him on the back and say, ‘What a remarkable sermon that was of yours! what a genius! what an orator!’ not to go about praising it, but to come and say, ‘Thy words have led me to Christ, and from thee I have taken the gift of gifts.’

Dear brethren, the encouragement of the minister is in the conversion and the growth of the hearers. And I pray that in this new lease of united fellowship which we have taken out, be it longer or shorter-and advancing years tell me that at the longest it must be comparatively short-I may come to you ever more and more with the lofty and humbling consciousness that I have a message which Christ has given to me, and that you may come more and more receptive-not of my words, God forbid-but of Christ’s truth; and that so we may be helpers one of another, and encourage each other in the warfare and work to which we all are called and consecrated.

1  Preached after long absence on account of illness.1:8-15 We must show love for our friends, not only by praying for them, but by praising God for them. As in our purposes, so in our desires, we must remember to say, If the Lord will, Jas 4:15. Our journeys are made prosperous or otherwise, according to the will of God. We should readily impart to others what God has trusted to us, rejoicing to make others joyful, especially taking pleasure in communing with those who believe the same things with us. If redeemed by the blood, and converted by the grace of the Lord Jesus, we are altogether his; and for his sake we are debtors to all men, to do all the good we can. Such services are our duty.For I long to see you - I earnestly desire to see you; compare Romans 15:23, Romans 15:32.

That I may impart - That I may "give," or communicate to you.

Some spiritual gift - Some have understood this as referring to "miraculous gifts," which it was supposed the apostles had the power of conferring on others. But this interpretation is forced and unnatural. There is no instance where this expression denotes the power of working miracles. Besides, the apostle in the next verse explains his meaning, "That I may be comforted together by the mutual faith," etc. From this it appears that he desired to be among them to exercise the office of the ministry, to establish them in the gospel and to confirm their hopes. He expected that the preaching of the gospel would be the means of confirming them in the faith; and he desired to be the means of doing it. It was a wish of benevolence, and accords with what he says respecting his intended visit in Romans 15:29, "And I am sure that when I come, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ." To make known to them more fully the blessings of the gospel, and thus to impart spiritual gifts, was the design he had in view.

To the end ... - With the design, or purpose.

Ye may be established - That is, that they might be "confirmed" in the truths of the gospel. This was one design of the ministry, that Christians may be established, or strengthened, Ephesians 4:13. It is not to have dominion ever their faith, but to be "helpers of their joy," 2 Corinthians 1:24. Paul did not doubt that this part of his office might be fulfilled among the Romans, and he was desirous there also of making full proof of his ministry. His wish was to preach not simply where he must, but where he might. This is the nature of this work.

11, 12. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift—not any supernatural gift, as the next clause shows, and compare 1Co 1:7.

to the end that ye may be established.

He declares his end in desiring to see them; it was not his own profit, but their edification.

By some spiritual gift, he means some one or other of those gifts of the Spirit, of which particular mention is made, 1 Corinthians 12:7-11.

To the end ye may be established: q.d. I do not intend to bring any new doctrine to you, but to confirm and establish you in that which you have already heard and received. Establishing grace is that which all Christians stand in need of. See Romans 16:25 1 Thessalonians 3:8,13 2 Thessalonians 2:15-17. For I long to see you,.... Not the city of Rome, which was one of Austin's three wishes to have seen in its glory; nor the emperor of it, nor the senate in it, nor its populous inhabitants, fine buildings, riches and grandeur; but the poor saints there, which were the excellent men of the earth, of the whole Roman empire, and in whom was his delight: his desire to see them was not to gratify his curiosity, nor to spend his time in idle chat with them, nor with a view to enrich himself by them; but, says he,

that I may impart some spiritual gift: not any extraordinary gift of the Spirit; but spiritual light, knowledge, peace, and comfort, through the exercise of his ministerial gift: whence it may be observed, that that which qualities men for the preaching of the word to the profit of others, is a gift, a gift by grace; a spiritual one, which comes from the Spirit of God, and may be, and is to be imparted to others in the free use and exercise of it; and that,

to the end that saints may be established; for such who are called by grace, need establishing. They are indeed in a safe state and condition; they are encircled in the arms of everlasting love, they are fixed in the hands of Christ, secured in an everlasting covenant, established on the rock of ages, and settled in a state from whence they can never fall: yet, notwithstanding this, they are sometimes very unstable in their hearts, in their frames, in the exercise of grace, and the discharge of duty, and in professing and adhering to the doctrines of the Gospel; wherefore they need establishing, as to a more firm persuasion of interest in the love of God, and in the covenant of grace, as to a more stable exercise of grace in Christ, and as to a more constant discharge of duty, and steady profession of adherence to the truths of the Gospel; to all which the ministration of the word has a tendency, with a divine blessing.

For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 1:11. Ἐπιποθῶ] not valde cupio, but denoting the direction of the longing. Comp on 2 Corinthians 5:2; Php 1:8.

χάρισμα πνευματικόν] Paul calls that, which he intends to communicate to the Romans through his longed-for personal presence among them (ἰδεῖν; comp Acts 19:21; Acts 28:20) a spiritual gift of grace; because in his apprehension all such instruction, comfort, joy, strengthening, etc., as are produced by means of his labours, are regarded not as procured by his own human individuality, but as a result which the πνεῦμα ἅγιον works by means of him—the gracious working of the Spirit, whose organ he is. While it was highly arbitrary in Toletus, Bengel, Michaelis and others to refer the expression to the apostolic miraculous gifts—against which the εὐαγγελίσασθαι in Romans 1:15 is conclusive—it was a very gratuitous weakening of its force to explain it (as is done by Morus, Rosenmüller, Köllner, Maier, Th. Schott) as a gift referring to the (human) spirit; “a gift for the inner life,” Hofmann. In such an interpretation the specifically Christian point of view (1 Corinthians 12:4; comp εὐλογία πνευματική, Ephesians 1:3) is left out of account; besides, πνευματικόν would imply nothing characteristic in that case; for that Paul did not desire to communicate any gifts of another sort, e.g. external, would be taken for granted.

The expression τιχάρ. is modest (μετριάζοντος, Oecumenius). Note also the arrangement by which the words are made to stand apart, and this delicate τι, the substantial χάρισμα, and the qualifying πνευματικόν, are brought into the more special prominence.[365]

εἰς τὸ στηρ. ὑμᾶς] Object of the intended communication of such a gift; that ye may be established, namely, in the Christian character and life. See Romans 1:12; comp Acts 16:5; Romans 16:25; 1 Thessalonians 3:2. The στηρίξαι is conceived as being divinely wrought by means of the Spirit, hence the passive expression; it was to be accomplished however, as Paul hoped, through him as the instrument of the Spirit. Mangold, p. 82, has, without any ground in the text, assumed that this establishment has reference to “their abandoning their Jewish-Christian scruples regarding the mission to the Gentiles,” whereas Romans 1:12 rather testifies to the Pauline Christianity of the Romans. This remark applies also against Sabatier, p. 166, who understands “une conception de l’évangile de Jésus plus large et plus spirituelle.”

[365] On μεταδιδόναι τινί τι (instead of τινί τινος), comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:8; Tob 7:9; 2Ma 1:35. So sometimes, although seldom, in classic authors, Herod. viii. 5, ix. 34; Xen. Anab. iv. 5, 5; Schaef. Melet. p. 21; Kühner, II. i. p. 295.Romans 1:11. ἵνα τι μεταδῶ χάρισμα πνευματικόν. The χαρ. πν. may be understood by reference to 1 Cor. chaps. 12–14 or Rom. chap. 12. No doubt, in substance, Paul imparts his spiritual gift through this epistle: what he wished to do for the Romans was to further their comprehension of the purpose of God in Jesus Christ—a purpose the breadth and bearings of which were yet but imperfectly understood.11. that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift] Some “charisma.” The exact reference is not quite certain. It has been explained of miraculous gifts, which (on this view) St Paul desired to impart, by imposition of hands, to the Roman saints. And certainly it appears that these “gifts” were as a rule conveyed only by immediate apostolic ministry (and therefore only to Christians of the first age). See Acts 8:14-17; Acts 19:6. But the word charisma (“gift of grace,”) is used with the widest reference. See e.g. Romans 6:23, where it is Salvation itself. And from Romans 12:6 it appears that at least the “gift” of prophecy, or inspired preaching, was then possessed by Roman saints; (though to be sure no other miraculous gift is there named, and even this may have been received from Apostles elsewhere; as it was e.g. by Aquila, Romans 16:3). The sequel of this passage (esp. Romans 1:12; Romans 1:16,) points rather to the “gift” of holy intercourse, and above all to that of instruction. St Paul desires to “preach the Gospel” to the Roman believers; i.e. to do what in fact he does in this Epistle, “expound to them the way of Christ more perfectly,” “to the end they might be established,” by maturer and ampler knowledge of the eternal Truth.Romans 1:11. Μεταδῶ, I may impart), in your presence, by the preaching of the Gospel, Romans 1:15, by profitable discourses, by prayers, etc. Paul was not satisfied with writing an epistle in the meantime, but retained this purpose, ch. Romans 15:24. There is much greater advantage in being present, than in sending letters, when the former falls out so [when one can be present in person].—χάρισμα πνευματικὸν, spiritual gift) In these gifts, the Corinthians abounded, inasmuch as they had been favoured with the presence of Paul, 1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 12:1; 1 Corinthians 14:1; in like manner the Galatians, Galatians 3:5. And those churches, which were gladdened by the presence of the apostles, had evidently distinguished privileges of this kind; for example, from the imposition of the apostles’ hands, Acts 19:2; Acts 19:6; Acts 8:17-18; and 2 Timothy 1:6. But hitherto, at least, the Romans were much inferior in this respect; wherefore also the enumeration of gifts at ch. Romans 12:6-7, is extremely brief. He is, therefore, desirous to go to their assistance, that they may be established, for the testimony of Christ was confirmed by means of the gifts.—1 Corinthians 1:6. Peter had not, any more than Paul, visited Rome, before this epistle was written, as we learn from this passage, and indeed from the whole tenor of the epistle; since Peter, had he been at Rome, would have imparted, what Paul was desirous to impart, to the Romans. Furthermore, Baronius thinks that this epistle was written A.D. 58; whereas the martyrdom of Peter took place A.D. 67; therefore, if he was at Rome at all, he could not have remained long at Rome.—στηριχθῆναι, to be established) He speaks modestly; It is the province of God to establish, ch. Romans 16:25. Paul intimates, that he is only the instrument.Verse 11. - For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established. Bengel, taking χάρισμα as the special gift of the Holy Ghost consequent on apostolic laying on of hands (cf. Acts 8:17, 18), argues from this verse that neither St. Peter nor any other apostle could have been at Rome so far. Though his conclusion is probably true, it does not follow from his premiss; for τὶ χάρισμα πνευματικὸν evidently means generally any gift of grace. All St. Paul implies is that he hopes to do them some spiritual good, so as to settle and strengthen them; and in the next verse, with characteristic delicacy, he even modifies what he has said, so as to guard against being supposed to imply that the benefit would be all on their side. Some spiritual gift (τι χάρισμα)

Note the modesty in some. Χάρισμα is a gift of grace (χάρις) a favor received without merit on the recipient's part. Paul uses it both in this ordinary sense (Romans 5:15, Romans 5:16; Romans 6:23), and in a special, technical sense, denoting extraordinary powers bestowed upon individuals by the Holy Spirit, such as gifts of healing, speaking with tongues, prophecy, etc. See Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 12:4, 1 Corinthians 12:31; 1 Peter 4:10. In 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6, it is used of the sum of the powers requisite for the discharge of the office of an evangelist.

To the end ye may be established (εἰς τὸ στηριχθῆναι ὑμᾶς)

Not that I may establish you. The modest use of the passive leaves out of view Paul's personal part. For established, see on Luke 22:32; see on 1 Peter 5:10. The word shows that he had in view their christian character no less than their instruction in doctrine.

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