Romans 15:16
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) Minister . . . ministering.—These are two different words in the Greek, but allied in their signification. Both refer originally to the liturgical service of the Temple; the first to the whole of the functions both of the priests and Levites, the second to the special function of the priests in the offering of sacrifice. St. Paul is a “minister of Jesus Christ;” i.e., his sacred office was given to him by Christ; it was Christ who appointed and ordained him to it; and his special duty as a priest of the gospel was to see that the Church of the Gentiles, whom it fell to him to present as a sacrifice to God, should be fit for such a sacrifice, made holy by the indwelling Spirit, and therefore acceptable to Him to whom it was offered.

To the Gentiles.—Strictly, in reference to the Gentiles. The branch, or department of the Christian ministry specially allotted to St. Paul was the evangelisation of the Gentiles.

Ministering the gospel of God.—Serving the gospel of God as a priest stands at the altar in the service of the tabernacle. The offering which the priest is thus to present is the Gentile Church.

The offering up of the Gentiles.—Not “that which the Gentiles offer,” but “the offering which the Gentiles are;” the sacrifice which they themselves form and constitute.

Sanctified by the Holy Ghost.—Rather, consecrated in the Holy Ghost. The sanctifying influence of the Holy Ghost overshadows, as it were, the Church, encloses and embraces it on every side.

15:14-21 The apostle was persuaded that the Roman Christians were filled with a kind and affectionate spirit, as well as with knowledge. He had written to remind them of their duties and their dangers, because God had appointed him the minister of Christ to the Gentiles. Paul preached to them; but what made them sacrifices to God, was, their sanctification; not his work, but the work of the Holy Ghost: unholy things can never be pleasing to the holy God. The conversion of souls pertains unto God; therefore it is the matter of Paul's glorying, not the things of the flesh. But though a great preacher, he could not make one soul obedient, further than the Spirit of God accompanied his labours. He principally sought the good of those that sat in darkness. Whatever good we do, it is Christ who does it by us.The minister - λειτουργὸν leitourgon. This is not the word which is commonly translated "minister" διάκονος diakonos. This word is properly appropriated to those who minister in public offices or the affairs of the state. In the New Testament it is applied mainly to the Levitical priesthood, who ministered and served at the altar; Hebrews 11:11. It is however applied to the ministers of the New Testament, as discharging "substantially" the same offices toward the church which were discharged by the Levitical priesthood; that is, as engaged in promoting the welfare of the church, occupied in holy things, etc.; Acts 13:2, "as they "ministered" to the Lord and fasted," etc. It is still used in a larger sense in Romans 15:27; 2 Corinthians 9:12.

To the Gentiles - Compare Romans 1:5; Acts 9:15.

Ministering - ἱερουργοῦντα hierourgounta. Performing the function of a priest in respect to the gospel of God. The office of a "priest" was to offer sacrifice. Paul here retains the "language," though without affirming or implying that the ministers of the New Testament were literally "priests" to offer sacrifice. The word used here occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Its meaning here is to be determined from the connection. The question is, What is the "sacrifice" of which he speaks? It is the "offering up" - the sacrifice of the Gentiles. The Jewish sacrifices were abolished. The Messiah had fulfilled the design of their appointment, and they were to be done away. (See the Epistle to the Hebrews.) There was to be no further "literal" sacrifice. But now the "offerings" of the Gentiles were to be as acceptable as had been the offerings of the Jews. God made no distinction; and in speaking of these offerings, Paul used "figurative" language drawn from the Jewish rites. But assuredly he did not mean that the offerings of the Gentiles were "literal" sacrifices to expiate sins; nor did he mean that there was to be an order of men who were to be called "priests" under the New Testament. If this passage "did" prove that, it would prove that it should be confined to the "apostles," for it is of them only that he uses it. The meaning is this: "Acting in the Christian church substantially as the priests did among the Jews; that is, endeavoring to secure the acceptableness of the offerings which the Gentiles make to God."

That the offering up - The word here rendered "offering up" προσφορά prosphora commonly means "a sacrifice" or an "expiatory" offering, and is applied to Jewish sacrifices; Acts 21:26; Acts 24:17. It is also applied to the sacrifice which was made by our Lord Jesus Christ when he offered himself on the cross for the sins of people; Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 10:10. It does not always mean "bloody" sacrifices, but is used to denote "any" offering to God; Hebrews 10:5, Hebrews 10:8,Hebrews 10:14, Hebrews 10:18. Hence, it is used in this large sense to denote the "offering" which the Gentiles who were converted to Christianity made of themselves; their "devoting" or dedicating themselves to God. The "language" is derived from the customs of the Jews; and the apostle represents himself "figuratively" as a priest presenting this offering to God.

Might be acceptable - Or, approved by God. This was in accordance with the prediction in Isaiah 66:20, "They shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations," etc. This does not mean that it was by any merit of the apostle that this offering was to be rendered "acceptable"; but that he was appointed to prepare the way, so that "their" offering, as well as that of the "Jews," might come up before God.

Being sanctified - That is, "the offering" being sanctified, or made holy. The sacrifice was "prepared" or made fit "to be" an offering, among the Jews, by salt, oil, or frankincense, according to the nature of the sacrifice; Leviticus 6:14, etc. In allusion to this, the apostle says that the offering of the Gentiles was rendered "holy," or fit to be offered, by the converting and purifying influences of the Holy Spirit. They were prepared, not by salt and frankincense, but by the cleansing influences of God's Spirit. The same idea, substantially, is expressed by the apostle Peter in Acts 10:46; Acts 11:17.

16. that I should be the—rather, "a"

minister—The word here used is commonly employed to express the office of the priesthood, from which accordingly the figurative language of the rest of the verse is taken.

of Jesus Christ—"Christ Jesus," according to the true reading.

to the Gentiles—a further proof that the Epistle was addressed to a Gentile church. (See on [2269]Ro 1:13).

ministering the gospel of God—As the word here is a still more priestly one, it should be rendered, "ministering as a priest in the Gospel of God."

that the offering up of the Gentiles—as an oblation to God, in their converted character.

might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost—the end to which the ancient offerings typically looked.

He proceeds to speak more particularly of his office and calling, which he had mentioned more generally in the foregoing words.

The minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles: see the notes on Romans 11:13. See also Galatians 2:7,8 2 Timothy 1:11.

Ministering the gospel of God; i.e. preaching of it. Some read it consecrating, or working, in the holy service of the gospel of God. It is an allusion to the work or office of the priests under the law. The Jews and Gentiles, they both boasted of their priesthood and sacrifices: the apostle therefore showeth, that its ministry was far more excellent, being not occupied in sacrificing of beasts, but in offering up living men to be a holy sacrifice to God.

That the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable: some understand it actively, that the Gentiles might, offer up themselves, as it is in Romans 12:1; or that they might offer up acceptable sacrifices to God, according to Malachi 1:11. But it is better understood passively, that the apostle, converting them by his ministry, might present or offer them to God, as an acceptable oblation: see Isaiah 66:20.

Being sanctified by the Holy Ghost; not by any priest on earth, but even by the Holy Ghost himself; as the oblations of old had their external and legal purifyings, so this oblation is purified or

sanctified by the Holy Ghost. That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ,.... The office of apostleship is here amplified and enlarged on, and the ends shown for which that grace was given to him, that he should be a minister; not in holy things about the temple, as the priests and Levites were; or a teacher of the law, some were fond of; but a minister of Christ, one that was made so by him, was qualified and sent forth to minister in his name to men; and who was a preacher of him; Jesus Christ, and him crucified, was the grand subject of his ministrations; he adds,

to the Gentiles; for to them, though not to the exclusion of the Jews, was he appointed a minister by Christ, and sent by him to them; among them he chiefly ministered, and was particularly and eminently useful to them; and this is another reason why the Romans ought to bear with a little boldness and freedom in writing to them, since he was the apostle of the Gentiles:

ministering the Gospel of God; not the service of the temple, nor the traditions of the elders, nor the law of Moses, nor the morality of the Heathens; but the Gospel, of which God is the author, whose grace is the subject, and whose glory is the end; and is good news from him to the chief of sinners; to the preaching of which the apostle was separated by him:

that the offering up of the Gentiles; not the offering the Gentiles offered up, their prayers, praises, or good works, though these are acceptable to God through Christ; but the Gentiles themselves, by the offering up of whom is meant their conversion; which was the end of the apostle's ministering the Gospel among them, and in which he was the happy instrument. The allusion is to the priests slaying and offering up sacrifices under the law. The apostle was a priest in a figurative and improper sense; the sacrifices he offered up were not slain beasts, but men, the Gentiles, cut to the heart by the sword of the Spirit, the ministry of the Gospel; whose inside being laid open to them, and they brought to a sense of their lost condition, and need of Christ, were, through the power of divine grace attending the word, made willing to offer, or give up themselves to the Lord, to be saved by him, and him only: this the apostle, as an instrument, was concerned in; and all his view was, that it

might be acceptable; that is, to God, as nothing is more so to him than a broken and a contrite heart, or souls brought to a sense of themselves; and to believe in Christ, and submit to his righteousness; and then both ministers and converts are unto God, a sweet savour of Christ:

being sanctified by the Holy Ghost; this is said in allusion to the washing of the sacrifices under the law; and intimates, that the Gentiles, though unclean by nature and practice, yet being sanctified by the Spirit of God, whose proper work it is to sanctify, become an acceptable, being an holy sacrifice to an holy God.

That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the {m} offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

(m) By the offering up of the Gentiles, he means the Gentiles themselves, whom he offered to God as a sacrifice.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 15:16. Εἰς τὸ εἶναι κ.τ.λ.] Specification of the object aimed at in τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι ὑπὸ τ. Θεοῦ.

λειτουργόν] Comp. on Romans 13:6. Paul sets forth the service of his apostolic office, in the consciousness of its hallowed dignity, not merely as a public οἰκονομία (Ewald: “steward of the people”), but as a priestly service of offering, in which Ἰησοῦ Χ. expresses the λειτουργός as ordained by Christ. That Christ should be conceived of as He to whom the offering is presented (Reiche), is contrary to the conception of offering, which always refers to God as the receiver of it. Comp. Romans 12:1; Ephesians 5:2, Php 2:17. But neither is Christ to be conceived of (as by Bengel and Rückert) as high priest (a conception not of Paul, but rather of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and applying to Christ as the sole Atoner, in which case the idea of inferior priests is out of place), but as Lord and Ruler of the church, who has appointed His apostle, Romans 1:5. Lucht oddly thinks that the writer did not venture to call Paul, in consequence of his disputed position, ἀπόστολος, but only λειτουργός.

εἰς τὰ ἔθνη] in reference to the Gentiles; for these, as converted by the apostle, are to form the offering to be presented.

In the sequel, ἱερουργοῦντα τὸ εὐαγγ. τ. Θεοῦ contains the more precise explanation of λειτουργ. . Χ., and ἵνα γένηται ἡ προσφορὰ τῶν ἐθνῶν κ.τ.λ. that of εἰς τὰ ἔθνη; hence the latter belongs not to ἱερουργ. (Th. Schott, Hofmann), but to what precedes, and is not (with Buttmann) to be omitted on the authority of B.

ἱερουργ. τὸ εὐαγγ. τ. Θεοῦ] in priestly fashion administering the gospel of God, i.e. “administrans evang. a Deo missum hominibus, eoque ministerio velut sacerdotio fungens,” Estius; comp. Chrysostom, Erasmus, and most older interpreters, also Rückert, Tholuck, Fritzsche, de Wette, Philippi. This usage of ἱερουργ. is confirmed by passages like Herodian. v. 3. 16; Joseph. Antt. vi. 6. 2; also by 4Ma 7:8, where ἰδίῳ αἵματι is to be connected with ἱερουργοῦντας τὸν νόμον (in opposition to Hofmann, who will not admit the priestly notion in the word), not with ὑπερασπίζοντας (see Grimm, Handb. p. 329 f.); comp. Suicer, Thes. s.v.; Kypke in loc.; also ἱερουργός, Callim. fr. 450; ἱερούργημα, Joseph. Antt. viii. 4. 5; ἱερουργία, 4Ma 4:1; Plat. Legg. p. 774 E; Pollux, i. 29. Without warrant, Hofmann insists on adhering to the conception of. “administering holy service.” The gospel is not indeed the offering (Luther and others), which is presented, but the divine institute, which is administered—is in priestly fashion served—by the presenting of the offering. As to εὐαγγ. Θεοῦ, see on Romans 1:1.

ἡ προσφορὰ τῶν ἐθνῶν] the offering of the Gentiles, i.e. the offering which the Gentiles are, Hebrews 10:10; Ephesians 5:2. The Gentiles converted, and through the Spirit consecrated as God’s property, are the offering which Paul, as the priest of Jesus Christ, has brought to God. Observe, however, the stress laid on the prefixed γένηται: in order that there may prosper (see on this use of γίνεσθαι as regards offerings, Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. vi. 4. 9), in accordance with which εὐπρόσδ. is then attributive (as well-pleasing), and ἁγιασμ. . πν. ἁγ. is subordinated to the latter as its ground: sanctified through the Holy Spirit, which is received through the gospel in baptism, Galatians 3:2; Galatians 3:5; Titus 3:5; Ephesians 5:26. A contrast to the ceremonial consecration of the Levitical offerings. Comp. Romans 12:1.16. the minister] The Gr. word (not the same as that in e.g. Romans 15:8,) is the original of our word liturgy; and is the same as in Romans 13:6; Php 2:25; Hebrews 1:7; Hebrews 8:2; &c. The word in Biblical Greek has a frequent sacerdotal reference; which is certainly present here, as the rest of the verse shews. For the word rendered “ministering” just below is lit. “doing priest’s-work with;” and it is followed, in the next clause, by “the offering-up of the Gentiles.” The whole passage is strikingly pictorial and figurative; representing the Gospel as the sacerdotal rule; the Apostle as the sacrificing priest; and the converts from heathenism as the victims of the sacrifice. A passage of somewhat similar imagery is Php 2:17, where the Gr. of “service” is kindred to the Gr. of “minister” here. There (in Bp Lightfoot’s words) “the Philippians are the priests; their faith (or their good works springing from their faith) is the sacrifice; St Paul’s life-blood the accompanying libation.”

It is clear that the Apostle here speaks of himself as a Sacrificer in a sense wholly figurative; and this passage and Romans 1:9 (where see note,) are the only examples of his application of the sacrificial idea, in even a figurative sense, to himself. Dr Hodge remarks that we here see the true nature of the priesthood which belongs to the Christian ministry: “It is by the preaching of the Gospel to bring men to offer themselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.” See Romans 12:1.

the offering up of the Gentiles] i.e. the offering which consists of the Gentiles; the Gentiles, as “yielding themselves to God” to be His dedicated servants. For the phraseology, cp. Hebrews 10:10.

being sanctified by the Holy Ghost] Lit. having been sanctified in the Holy Ghost. His Divine grace was, so to speak, the water in which the sacrifice was washed; it alone made the self-dedication real, and therefore acceptable.Romans 15:16. Λειτουργὸν, ἱερουργοῦντα, προσφορὰ) This is allegorical. Jesus is the priest; Paul the servant of the priest; the Gentiles themselves are the oblation: ch. Romans 12:1; Isaiah 60:7; Isaiah 66:20 : and that oblation is very acceptable, because it is sanctified (John 17:19), along with [as well as] its gifts [i.e. their contribution to the saints at Jerusalem is also acceptable, Romans 15:26], Romans 15:31.—ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ, in the Holy Spirit) whom the Gentiles receive by the Gospel of God.Verse 16. - That I should be the minister (λειτουργὸν) of Jesus Christ unto the Gentiles, ministering (λειτουργοῦντα) the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified in the Holy Ghost. As to the words λειτουργὸς and λευτουργεῖν, see on Romans 13:6; and on λατρεύω, λατρεία on Romans 1:9 and Romans 12:1. Here they are evidently used in their sacrificial meaning, but applied metaphorically; the "acceptable offering" which Paul offers to God is that of the Gentiles whom he brings to the faith. "The preaching of the gospel he calls a sacrificial service (ἱερουργιάν), and genuine faith an acceptable offering" (Theodoret). "This is my priesthood, to preach and to proclaim" (Chrysostom); cf Philippians 2:17. Minister (λειτουργὸν)

See on Romans 13:6.

Ministering (ἱερουργοῦντα)

Only here in the New Testament. Lit., ministering as a priest.

Offering up (προσφορὰ)

Lit., the bringing to, i.e., to the altar. Compare doeth service, John 16:2.

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