Romans 1:12
That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) That is, that I may be comforted.—A beautiful touch of true courtesy. He is anxious to see them, that he may impart to them some spiritual gift. But no! He hastily draws back and corrects himself. He does not wish it to be implied that it is for him only to impart, and for them only to receive. He will not assume any such air of superiority. In the impulse of the moment, and in the expansiveness of his own heart, he had seemed to put it so; but his real meaning was that they should receive mutual comfort and edification.

Strictly, the idea of mutual comfort is drawn from the two verses combined, not from this singly. In the last verse the Romans were the subject: “That ye may be established.” Here St. Paul himself is the subject: “That I may be comforted.”

Comforted.—The Greek word has rather more of the sense of our “encouraged,” though the idea of “comfort” is also contained in it. It is a similar word to that which is translated “comforter” in several passages in John 14, 15, 16 (where see Notes, and Excursus to St. John’s Gospel).

Together with you.—Literally, that I may at the same time be comforted among you; that is, “that I may be comforted at the same time that you are comforted, by my intercourse with you, through that mutual faith which acts and reacts upon each of us.” The Apostle looks to obtain benefit from his intercourse with the Roman Christians. He expects that their faith will help to increase his own.

There is a truth underlying the Apostle’s courtesy which is not mere compliment. The most advanced Christian will receive something from the humblest. There are very few men whose “spirits are not finely touched” somewhere; and St. Paul was conscious that even an Apostle might not be equally strong at every point.

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.That I may be comforted ... - It was not merely to confirm them that Paul wished to come. He sought the communion of saints; he expected to be himself edified and strengthened; and to be comforted by seeing their strength of faith, and their rapid growth in grace. We may remark here,

(1) That one effect of religion is to produce the desire of the communion of saints. It is the nature of Christianity to seek the society of those who are the friends of Christ.

(2) nothing is better suited to produce growth in grace than such communion. Every Christian should have one or more Christian friends to whom he may unbosom himself. No small part of the difficulties which young Christians experience would vanish, if they should communicate their feelings and views to others. Feelings which they suppose no Christians ever had, which greatly distress them, they will find are common among those who are experienced in the Christian life.

(3) there is nothing better suited to excite the feelings, and confirm the hopes of Christian ministers, than the firm faith of young converts, of those just commencing the Christian life, 3 John 1:4.

(4) the apostle did not disdain to be taught by the humblest Christians. He expected to be strengthened himself by the faith of those just beginning the Christian life. "There is none so poor in the church of Christ, that he cannot make some addition of importance to our stores," Calvin.

12. That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me—"Not wishing to "lord it over their faith," but rather to be a "helper of their joy," the apostle corrects his former expressions: my desire is to instruct you and do you good, that is, for us to instruct and do one another good: in giving I shall also receive" [Jowett]. "Nor is he insincere in so speaking, for there is none so poor in the Church of Christ who may not impart to us something of value: it is only our malignity and pride that hinder us from gathering such fruit from every quarter" [Calvin]. How "widely different is the apostolic style from that of the court of Papal Rome!" [Bengel]. This is added to qualify what he had said before, lest he should seem to arrogate too much to himself; he tells them, he hoped not only to comfort them, but to be comforted by them. The meanest of Christ’s members may contribute somewhat to the edifying even of an apostle. The apostle John did hope to be quickened and comforted by the graces of a woman and her children, 2Jo 1:12. Great is the benefit of the communion of saints.

By the mutual faith both of you and me; i.e. by the faith which you and I have in Jesus Christ; which he elsewhere calls the common faith, and the faith of God’s elect. All true comfort springs from faith. That is, that I may be comforted together with you,.... This is a further explanation of his view, in being desirous of coming to them, and preaching: the Gospel among them; for what makes for establishment, makes for comfort; and what makes for comfort, makes for establishment; and when souls are established, ministers are comforted as well as they; and whilst ministers are imparting their spiritual gifts for the use of others, they themselves are sometimes comforted of God in their work, and particularly when they find there is an agreement between their doctrine, and the experience of the saints:

by the mutual faith both of you and me. The grace of faith is the same in all the saints, and so is the doctrine of it, as dispensed by Christ's faithful ministers, and experimentally received and embraced by his people; the consideration of which has a very great influence on the comfort and establishment of each other; nor are any so perfect, but they may receive benefit from others, even though inferior to them.

That is, that {t} I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

(t) Though Paul was ever so excellent, yet in teaching the church, he might be instructed by it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 1:12. Τοῦτο δέ ἐστι] This, however, which I have just designated as my longing (namely, ἰδεῖν ὑμᾶς, ἵναστηριχθ. ὑμᾶς) means, thereby I intend to say nothing else than, etc. By this modifying explanation, subjoined with humility, and expressed in a delicate complimentary manner (Erasmus puts the matter too strongly, “pia vafrities et sancta adulatio”), Paul guards himself, in presence of a church to which he was still a stranger, from the possible appearance of presumption and of forming too low an estimate of the Christian standpoint of his readers.[367]

ΣΥΜΠΑΡΑΚΛΗΘῆΝΑΙ] must be understood not, with the Peschito, Vulgate, Valla, Erasmus, Luther, Piscator, de Dieu, and many others, including Koppe and Ewald, in the sense of comfort or of refreshment (Castalio, Grotius, Cramer, Rosenmüller, Böhme)—which it would be necessary that the context should call for, as in 1 Thessalonians 3:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:17, but which it here forbids by the general ἰδεῖν ὑμᾶς, ἱνα Κ.Τ.Λ[368]—but in the quite general sense of Christian encouragement and quickening. The συμ.—however is not to be explained by ὑμᾶς καὶ ἐμαυτόν; on the contrary, the ἐν ὑμῖν renders it necessary that Paul alone should be conceived as the subject of συμπαρακληθῆναι. He desires to be quickened among the Romans (ἐν ὑμῖν) at the same time with them, and this by the faith common to both, theirs and his, which should mutually act and react in the way of the Christian sympathy that is based on specific harmony of faith. That the readers are not the subject of the συμπαρακλ. (Fritzsche, van Hengel) is certain from ἐν ὑμῖν, which, if it meant in animis vestris (van Hengel), would be a perfectly superfluous addition.

The compound συμπαρακλ. occurs only here in the N. T., and is not found in the LXX. or Apocr.; but see Plat. Rep. p. 555 A; and Polyb. v. 83, 3.

ἡ ἐν ἀλλήλοις πίστις, more significant of the hearty character of the faith than ἡ ἀλλήλων πίστις, is the faith of both viewed in its mutual identity, so that the faith which lives in the one lives also in the other.

ὑμῶν τε καὶ ἐμοῦ] placed in this order with delicate tact.

[367] The delicate turn which he gives to the matter is this: “to see you, in order that I,” etc., means nothing more than “to be quickened along with and among you,” etc. Consequently συμπαρακλ. is parallel to the ἰδεῖν; for both infinitives must have the same subject. If συμπαρακλ. κ.τ.λ. had been meant to be merely a delicate explanation of στηριχθῆναι ὑμᾶς (the usual exposition after Chrysostom), then ἐμέ must necessarily have been added to συμπαρακλ. Grotius aptly says: “συμπαρακλ. regitur ab ἐπιποθῶ.” The true interpretation is given also by Bengel and Th. Schott; comp. Olshausen. Ewald, and Hofmann, who erroneously imputes to me the common view.

[368] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.Romans 1:12. τοῦτο δὲ ἐστιν: an explanatory correction. Paul disclaims being in a position in which all the giving must be on his side. When he is among them (ἐν ὑμῖν) his desire is that he may be cheered and strengthened with them (the subject of συνπαρακληθῆναι must be ἐμὲ in the first instance, though widening, as the sentence goes on, into ἡμᾶς) by the faith which both they and he possess (ὑμῶν τε καὶ ἐμοῦ), and which each recognises in the other (ἐν ἀλλήλοις). The ἐν here is to be taken as in 2 Timothy 1:5.12. that is, that I may be comforted together, &c.] We have here St Paul’s fine tact, to use a word “soiled by ignoble use,” because sometimes associated with insincerity. The tact of the Apostle is only an exquisite combination of sympathy and judgment; he speaks the true word, in the right place, and from the heart. It would be shallow criticism indeed which would see here only an ingenious religious compliment. To the sincere Christian teacher nothing is more real than the reflex aid he receives among Christian learners[32].

[32] See Introduction, i. § 33, note.

with you] Better, in you; among you; “that I may share consolation among you.”

by the mutual faith] Lit. the faith which is in one another; a pregnant phrase; q. d., “the faith which dwells in each, and which each manifests to the other.”Romans 1:12. Τοῦτο δέ ἐστι, Moreover, that is) He explains the words, to see you, etc. He does not say, Moreover, that is, that I may bring you into the form of a regularly constituted church. Precaution was taken [by Divine foresight] lest the Church of Rome should be the occasion of any mischief, which nevertheless arose in after-times.—ὑμῶν τε καῖ ἐμο͂υ, both of you and me) He not only associates with himself the Romans, together with whom he longs to be comforted [or stirred up together with whom], but he even puts them first in the order of words, before himself. The style of the apostle is widely different from that of the Papal court at Rome.Verse 12. - That is, that I with you may be comforted in you, each of us by each other's faith, yours and mine. The spirit of delicate courtesy here evinced, in addressing persons over whom one loss of a Christian gentleman than St. Paul was might have assumed a lordly tone, is apparent elsewhere in his Epistles (cf. Romans 15:15; Romans 16:19; 2 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 3:1, seq.; 2 Corinthians 8:8; 9:2), and especially the whole Epistle to Philemon. That is (τοῦου δέ ἐστιν)

The A.V. and Rev. omit δέ however, thus losing an important shade of meaning. That is is not merely an explanatory repetition of the preceding phrase, but modifies the idea contained in it. It is a modest and delicate explanation, by which Paul guards himself against the possible appearance of underestimating the christian standpoint of his readers, to whom he was still, personally, a stranger. Hence he would say: "I desire to impart some spiritual gift that you may be strengthened, not that I would imply a reproach of weakness or instability; but that I desire for you the strengthening of which I stand in need along with you, and which I hope may be wrought in us both by our personal intercourse and our mutual faith."

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