Romans 15:18
For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not worked by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) Nor in basing my claims upon this head do I go at all beyond my own proper province. I will take credit for no man’s labours but my own. They have, indeed, been quite signal enough.

I will not dare to speak.—I have a certain just and legitimate pride, but I shall not, therefore, presume to boast of successes of which others have been the instrument. All successes in the mission field are due ultimately to Christ; for some he has made use of me, for others of other men. I will confine myself to those in which I have been myself directly concerned.

To make the Gentiles obedient.—Comp. Romans 1:5, “for obedience to the faith among all nations” (i.e., to bring over all the Gentiles into obedience to the faith; see Note).

By word and deed.—This goes with the phrase “wrought by me,” and signifies “either by preaching or by miracles.”

It will be seen that the structure of this verse is not, in a rhetorical sense, quite elegant. The Apostle uses a negative form of sentence where a positive form would seem to be more appropriate. Instead of saying, “I will confine myself to what Christ has wrought by me,” he says, “I will not speak of what Christ has not wrought by me,” though the description which follows is that of his own ministry.

Romans 15:18-19. For I will not dare to speak, &c. I will not glory of more than is true and has been really done by my ministry; to make the Gentiles obedient — To bring them to the faith, and to the worship and service of the true God; by word and deed — By preaching and miracles. The apostle would not speak of what Christ had not wrought by him, but by his disciples, for making the Gentiles obedient; though he might have claimed some praise also from their success. But he would speak only of what Christ had wrought by him personally; namely, that he had preached the gospel with the greatest success, in many of the Gentile countries. Through mighty signs and wonders — It does not appear that the apostle intended by these different names to express different things, as some have supposed, namely, that the σημεια, signs, were the miracles intended to prove the truth of the doctrine asserted, or message brought by the miracle-worker; and that τερατα, wonders, were such miracles as were intended to astonish, and terrify, and draw the attention of beholders; of which sort was the punishment of Ananias and Sapphira with death, and of Elymas with blindness: he doubtless meant miracles in general, by both expressions. In the gospels, the miracles of Christ are commonly called δυναμεις, powers, or mighty works, to express the great power exerted in the performance of them. By the power of the Spirit of God

Enlightening men’s minds, and changing their hearts, and thereby rendering the miracles wrought, and the word preached, effectual to their conviction and conversion. So that I have fully preached the gospel of Christ — Have made a full declaration thereof, not shunning to declare the whole counsel of God; not keeping back any thing that I had reason to believe would be profitable to my hearers: from Jerusalem, round about unto Illyricum — This phraseology implies, that he had propagated the gospel, not in a direct line from Jerusalem to Illyricum, but far and wide, on every hand, through the interjacent countries. “Illyricum was a country in Europe, lying between Pannonia and the Adriatic sea. It is now called Sclavonia. In the history of the Acts, there is no mention made of Paul’s preaching the gospel in Illyricum. Nevertheless, as that country, on the south, bordered on Macedonia, where Paul often preached, he may, on some occasion, have gone from Macedonia into Illyricum. Yet this supposition is not necessary, as the apostle does not say he preached the gospel in, but only as far as Illyricum: which country, it appears, at the time he wrote this epistle, was the boundary of his preaching westward.” — Macknight. 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.For I will not dare to speak - I should be restrained; I should be afraid to speak, if the thing were not as I have stated. I should be afraid to set up a claim beyond what is strictly in accordance with the truth.

Which Christ hath not wrought by me - I confine myself "strictly" to what I have done. I do not arrogate to myself what Christ has done by others. I do not exaggerate my own success, or claim what others have accomplished.

To make the Gentiles obedient - To bring them to obey God in the gospel.

By word and deed - By preaching, and by all other means; by miracle, by example, etc. The "deeds," that is, the "lives" of Christian ministers are often as efficacious in bringing people to Christ as their public ministry.

18-22. For I will not dare to speak of any—"to speak aught"

of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me—a modest, though somewhat obscure form of expression, meaning, "I will not dare to go beyond what Christ hath wrought by me"—in which form accordingly the rest of the passage is expressed. Observe here how Paul ascribes all the success of his labors to the activity of the living Redeemer, working in and by him.

by word and deed—by preaching and working; which latter he explains in the next clause.

q.d. I dare not speak of more than is true, or of any thing that was not really done by me: or else the meaning is, I dare not speak of any thing that I have done of myself, I acknowledge that, whatever good hath come to the Gentiles by my means, it was wrought by Christ, whose instrument I have only been: see 1 Corinthians 3:5.

By word and deed: some join these words to the obedience of the Gentiles; by the preaching of the gospel they were made obedient in word and deed. But they are better joined with the former words; Christ wrought in and by the apostle Paul, believed word and deed. By word is understood his public preaching, and private instruction; and by deed, the example of his good works, or godly life: or else, by deed ye may understand the miracles that he wrought, and the labour and travail that he underwent; of which in the following verse. For I will not dare to speak of any of those things,.... He suggests that the false teachers did speak of things which were not done by them at all, and much less were what Christ had done by them; and signifies that he was a conscientious man, and could speak nothing but what was truth; his conscience would not suffer him, nor could he allow himself to make mention of anything, that was not done by him, as if it was; nor of anything that was done by himself, nor of anything that was done, as if it was done by himself, but as it was wrought by Christ; nor had he any need to speak of any other things which he had wrought himself, as he could not of what he had not wrought at all; or, as he says,

which Christ hath not wrought by me: signifying that what he had wrought, and which he could with good conscience speak of to the honour of Christ, and the glory of his grace, were not wrought by himself, but what Christ wrought by him; he was only the instrument, Christ was the efficient cause: as a Christian, it was not he that lived, but Christ lived in him; as a minister, it was not he that spoke, but Christ spoke in him; nor was it he that laboured, but the grace of Christ that was with him; much less was it he that converted souls, but Christ did it by him:

to make the Gentiles obedient; the nations of the world, who had been brought up in blindness and ignorance of God, in rebellion and disobedience to him. The Gospel was sent among them, and was blessed unto them, to make them, of disobedient, obedient ones; not to men, but to God; not to magistrates and ministers, though they were taught to be so to both, but to Christ; to him as a priest, by being made willing to be saved by him, and him only, renouncing their own works, and disclaiming all other ways of salvation; and to submit to his righteousness for their justification before God, and acceptance with him; and to deal with his precious blood for pardon and cleansing; to rely on his sacrifice for the atonement of their sins, and to make use of him as the new and living way to the Father, as their one and only mediator, advocate, and intercessor; and to him as a prophet, to the faith of the Gospel, and the doctrines of it; not barely by hearing it, and notionally assenting to it, but by embracing it heartily, and professing it publicly and sincerely; and to him as a King, by owning him as such, and as theirs; and by subjecting to his ordinances, and obeying his commands in faith and fear, and from love to him: the means whereby these persons were brought to the obedience of Christ, and of faith, are

by word and deed; or "deeds", as the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions read: by the former is meant, the word of the Gospel and the preaching of it, being sent unto them, and coming with power, and not as the word of man, but as the word of God; and by the latter, either the labour of the apostle, the pains he took, the hardships he endured, in ministering: the Gospel to them; or his agreeable life and conversation, which were a means of recommending the word, and of engaging an attention to it; or rather the miraculous works and mighty deeds which were wrought by the apostle, in confirmation of the doctrine he preached, as it seems to be explained in Romans 15:19.

For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which {n} Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed,

(n) Christ was so with me in all things, and by all means, that even if I had wanted to, yet I cannot say what he has done by me to bring the Gentiles to obey the gospel.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 15:18. Negative confirmation of what is asserted in Romans 15:17. The correct explanation is determined partly by the connection, to be carefully observed, of οὐ with κατειργ., partly by the order of the words, according to which οὐ κατειργάσατο must have the emphasis, not Χριστός (Theodoret and others, including Calovius, Olshausen, Fritzsche, Tholuck). Hence: “for I will not (in any given case) embolden myself to speak about any of those things (to boast of anything from the sphere of that) which Christ has not brought about through me, in order to make the Gentiles obedient to Him, by means of word and work.” That is, affirmatively expressed: for I will venture to let myself be heard only as to such things, the actual fulfilment of which has taken place by Christ through me, etc.; I will therefore never pride myself on anything which belongs to the category of those things, which have not been put into execution by Christ through me.[23] This would be an untrue speaking of results, as if the Lord had brought them about through me—which nevertheless had not taken place.

εἰς ὑπακ. ἐθνῶς] namely, through the adoption of faith in Him; comp. Romans 1:5.

λόγῳ κ. ἔργῳ] applies to κατειργ.… ἐθνῶν.

[23] The objection of Hofmann: “The non-actual forms no collective whole, as a constituent element of which a single thing might be conceived,” is a mere empty subtlety. Had Paul, e.g., boasted that Christ had wrought many conversions through him when he was in Athens, he would have spoken about something which would have been a single instance out of the category of the non-actual, namely, of that which Christ has not wrought. The view of Hofmann himself amounts to the sense, that the apostle wished to set aside all his own, which was not a work of Christ performed through him, with the object of converting the Gentiles. But thus, through the contrast of his own and the work of Christ, the emphasis would be transposed, resting now on Χριστός, as if it ran ὧν οὐ Χριστὸς κατειργάσατο διʼ ἐμοῦ.Romans 15:18 f. All other boasting he declines. οὐ γὰρ τολμήσω τι λαλεῖν ὧν οὐ κατειργάσατο διʼ ἐμοῦ ὁ Χ.: in effect this means, I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ wrought through me. This is the explanation of ἔχω οὖν καύχησιν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. The things which Christ did work through Paul He wrought εἰς ὑπακοὴν ἐθνῶν with a view to obedience on the part of the Gentiles: cf. Romans 1:5. This combination—Christ working in Paul, to make the Gentiles obedient to the Gospel—is the vindication of Paul’s action in writing to Rome. It is not on his own impulse, but in Christ that he does it; and the Romans as Gentiles lie within the sphere in which Christ works through him. λόγῳ καὶ ἔργῳ: λόγος refers to the preaching, ἔργον to all he had been enabled to do or suffer in his calling. 2 Corinthians 10:11, Acts 7:22, Luke 24:19. ἐν δυνάμει σημείων καὶ τεράτων. σημεῖον and τέρας are the words generally employed in the N.T. to designate what we call miracle: often, too, δύναμεις is used as synonymous (Mark 6:2). All three are again applied to Paul’s miracles in 2 Corinthians 12:12, and to similar works in the Apostolic age of the Church in Hebrews 2:4 : all three are also found in 2 Thessalonians 2:9, where they are ascribed to the Man of Sin, whose Parousia in this as in other respects is regarded as counterfeiting that of Christ. τέρας is always rendered “wonder” in the A.V., and, as though the word were unequal to the phenomenon, it is never used alone: in all the places in which it occurs σημεῖον is also found. The latter emphasises the significance of the miracle; it is not merely a sight to stare at, but is suggestive of an actor and a purpose. In this passage, “the power” of signs and wonders seems to mean the power with which they impressed the beholders: more or less it is an interpretation of ἔργῳ. So “the power” of the Holy Ghost means the influence with which the Holy Spirit accompanied the preaching of the Gospel: more or less it answers to λόγῳ: see 1 Thessalonians 1:5 and cf. the ἀπόδείξει πνεύματος κ. δυνάμεως, 1 Corinthians 2:4. ὥστε με κ.τ.λ. “The result of Christ’s working through His Apostle is here stated as if the preceding sentence had been affirmative in form as well as sense” (Gifford). ἀπὸ Ἱερουσαλὴμ: this agrees with Acts 9:26-29, but this, of course, does not prove that it was borrowed from that passage. Even if Paul began his ministry at Damascus, he might quite well speak as he does here, for it is not its chronology, but its range, he is describing; and to his mind Jerusalem (to which, if let alone, he would have devoted himself, see Acts 22:18-22) was its point of departure. καὶ κύκλῳ: most modern commentators have rendered this as if it were τοῦ κύκλῳ—from Jerusalem and its vicinity, by which they mean Syria (though some would include Arabia, Galatians 1:17): for this use of κύκλῳ see Genesis 35:5, Jdt 1:2. But most Greek commentators render as in the A.V.—“and round about unto Illyricum”. This is the interpretation taken by Hofmann and by S. and H., and is illustrated by Xen., Anab., vii., i., 14 (quoted by the latter): πότερα διὰ τοῦ ἱεροῦ ὄρους δέοι πορεύεσθαι, πορεύεσθαι, ἢ κύκλῳ διὰ μέσης τῆς Θράκης. μέχρι τοῦ Ἰλλυρικοῦ can (so far as μέχρι is concerned) either exclude or include Illyricum. Part of the country so called may have been traversed by Paul in the journey alluded to in Acts 20:1 f. (διελθὼν δὲ τὰ μέρη ἐκεῖνα), but the language would be satisfied if he had come in sight of Illyricum as he would do in his westward journey through Macedonia. πεπληρωκέναι τὸ εὐαγγ. τοῦ Χριστοῦ: have fulfilled (fully preached) the Gospel of Christ. Cf. Colossians 1:25. Paul had done this in the sense in which it was required of an Apostle, whose vocation (to judge from Paul’s practice) was to lay the foundation of a church in the chief centres of population, and as soon as the new community was capable of self-propagation, to move on.18. For I will not dare, &c.] This ver. may be paraphrased, “To justify this exultation, I need not presumptuously intrude on the work of others, putting in a false claim to credit for that work: I need only speak of what Christ has done through my personal efforts, both of preaching and miracle, in bringing Gentile converts to Him, &c.” The sentence evidently glides from the negative to the positive in the course of this verse.

which Christ hath—wrought] St Paul recognizes the Saviour as the personal and present Worker. Cp. Matthew 28:20, and the suggestive words (Acts 1:1) “all that Jesus began to do and teach”—as if His doing and teaching continued in the work of His messengers. Cp. also 1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 2:20.

me] Emphatic in the Greek.

obedient] To the Gospel. See on Romans 10:3.

deed] Specially (see next verse) deeds of miracle. Cp. Acts 13:9-12; Acts 14:8-10; Acts 15:12; Acts 16:18; Acts 19:11-12; Acts 20:10-12; Acts 28:3-9. St Paul elsewhere distinctly claims miraculous gifts, 1 Corinthians 14:18; 2 Corinthians 12:12. In his life and teaching, as in the whole of Scripture, the natural and the supernatural are inextricably interwoven: the strongest reality of practical plans and efforts, and the most vigorous reasonings, stand linked with open references to, and cogent proofs of, the special presence around him of “the powers of the world to come.”Romans 15:18. Οὐ γὰρ τολμήσω, for I will not dare) That is, my mind shrinks [from speaking of the things wrought by me] when unaccompanied with [except when accompanied with] Divine influence.—λαλεῖν τι, to speak anything) to mention anything, that I have accomplished, or rather, to preach the doctrine of the Gospel, for the expression is abbreviated, in this manner; I will not dare to speak any (or do any) of those things which Christ (would not speak, or) do by me; for, by word and deed, follows. The Inspiration [Theopneustia] of Paul is here marked: 2 Corinthians 13:3.Verses 18, 19. - For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought through me unto the obedience of the Gentiles (meaning, I will not dare to speak, of any mere doings of my own, but only of those in which the power of Christ working through my ministry has been displayed) by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders (i.e. displays of miraculous power. It is noteworthy how St. Paul alludes incidentally in his letters to such "signs and wonders" having accompanied his ministry, as to something familiar and acknowledged, so as to suggest the idea of their having been more frequent than we might gather from the Acts of the Apostles. Had the alleged "signs and wonders" been unreal, we might have expected them to be made more of in the subsequent narrative of an admirer than in contemporary letters), by the power of the Spirit of God (al. the Holy Spirit. This power, if taken as distinct from that of signs and wonders, may denote the power of the Holy Spirit displayed in the conversion of believers, and the gifts bestowed upon them); so that from Jerusalem, and round about as far as Illyricum, I have fully preached (literally, I have fulfilled) the gospel of Christ. In thus designating the sphere of his ministry the apostle is denoting its local extent, rather than the course he had taken. He had, in fact, preached first at Damascus (Acts 9:20), and afterwards at Jerusalem (Acts 9:29); but he mentions Jerusalem first, as being the original home of the gospel in the East, and, indeed, the first scene of his own preaching in fellowship with the original apostles. Thence he had extended it in various quarters (for the meaning of κύκλῳ - trans. "round about" - cf. Mark 6:6; Luke 9:12), and carried it into Europe, Illyricum being the western limit so far reached. It is true that there is no mention in the Acts of his having actually visited Illyria. In the journey of Acts 17. he plainly got no further west than Betted, which is, however, not far off; and he might possibly mean here only to say that he had extended the gospel to the borders of Illyricum, but for the word πεπληρωκέναι, and his seeming to imply afterwards (ver. 23) that he had gone as far as he could in those regions, and consequently contemplated a journey to Spain. Hence, the narrative of Acts not being an exhaustive history, it may be supposed that he had on some occasion extended his operations from Macedonia to Illyricum, as he may well have done on his visit to the latter mentioned in Acts 20:1-3, where διελθὼν τὰ μέρη ἐκεῖνα allows for a visit into Illyricum.
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