Romans 15:20
Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:
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(20, 21) Throughout all this long missionary career, the Apostle had made it his endeavour not merely to go over old ground where others had been before him, but to seek out new and virgin soil, where he might enter as a pioneer, and convey the good news of the kingdom of heaven for the first time.

(20) Yea, so have I strived.—Rather, but making it my ambition. The Apostle set it before him as a point of honour, not merely to carry forward a work that others had begun, but to build up the whole edifice from the foundation himself.

Not where Christ was named.—Not in places where there were Christians already.

Another man’s foundation.—Comp. 2Corinthians 10:15-16; and for the use of the word “foundation” for the first preaching of the gospel, 1Corinthians 3:10.

Romans 15:20-22. Yea, so have I strived to preach — Greek, ουτω δε φιλοτιμουμενον ευαγγελιζεσθαι, literally, being ambitious; or, it being the object of my ambition; namely, so far as Providence would permit me to indulge it; to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named — Had been preached before by others: that is, This way I took, as to my choice of places where to preach, lest I should build on another man’s foundation, and so decline the difficulties which attend the settlement of new churches, or should assume to myself the credit due to others. He generally, though not altogether, declined preaching where others had preached, having a holy ambition to make the first proclamation of the gospel in places where it was quite unheard of, in spite of all the difficulty and danger that attended the doing of it. And the providence of God seemed, in a special manner, to prevent his preaching where others had preached, (though not entirely,) lest his enemies, who sought every occasion to set light by him, should have had room to say that he was behind other apostles, not being sufficient for planting churches himself, but only for preaching where others had prepared his way; or that he declined the more difficult part of the ministry. But as it is written

According to that prophecy which is now fulfilling in my ministry; to whom he was not spoken of — Namely, the Gentiles; they shall see — See on Isaiah 52:15. And they that have not heard — In former times; shall understand — And obey the gospel. For which cause — That I might not build on another man’s foundation; I have been much hindered from coming to you — Among whom Christ had been named. Or he means, that he had been hindered by the important work of planting the gospel elsewhere.

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.Yea, so have I strived - The word used here φιλοτιμούμενον philotimoumenon means properly "to be ambitious, to be studious of honor;" and then to "desire" earnestly. In that sense it is used here. He earnestly desired; he made it a point for which he struggled, to penetrate into regions which had not heard the gospel.

Not where Christ was named - Where the gospel had not been before preached.

Lest I should build ... - That is, he desired to found churches himself; he regarded himself as particularly called to this. Others might be called to edify the church, but he regarded it as his function to make known the name of the Saviour where it was not before known. This work was particularly adapted to the ardor, zeal, energy, and bravery of such a man as Paul. Every man has his proper gift; and there are some particularly suited to "found" and establish churches; others to edify and comfort them; compare 2 Corinthians 10:13-16. The apostle chose the higher honor, involving most danger and responsibility; but still any office in building up the church is honorable.

20, 21. Yea, &c.—rather, "Yet making it my study (compare 2Co 5:9; 1Th 4:11, Greek) so to preach the Gospel, not where Christ was [already] named, that I might not build upon another man's foundation: but (might act) as it is written, To whom no tidings of Him came, they shall see," &c.Ver. 20,21. He gives a reason why he chose to preach the gospel in these places, because Christ had not been named or preached there before; this, he saith, was his ambition, and a thing that he greatly coveted; he was unwilling to

build upon another man’s foundation, to put his sickle into another’s harvest, to derive the glory to himself which would be due to others, 2 Corinthians 10:15,16. Again, another reason why he preached the gospel where Christ had not been named, was this, that so by him, as an apostle of Christ, and in his ministry, that scriptnre might be fulfilled, which you have in Isaiah 52:15, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see, & c. See Poole on "Isaiah 52:15".

Yea, so have I strived to preach the Gospel,.... The sense is, not barely that he strove to preach the Gospel and not the law, the pure Gospel, and, not a mixed one; nor only that he endeavoured to preach it fully, and leave out nothing; but that he had an holy ambition to preach it,

not where Christ was named; as in Judea, where he had been for many ages spoken of and expected, and where he had lately appeared, lived, suffered, and died, and where his Gospel had been preached by all the apostles; as also in such parts of the Gentile world, where others of the apostles had been, and had made mention of his name, and published the glad tidings of salvation by him; but he chose rather to go to such Heathen nations, as were wholly without any knowledge of him; who had only the dim light of nature to guide them; had had no promises nor prophecies of the Messiah, nor so much as any hints, at least very distant ones, concerning him; and where as yet the sound of the Gospel bad not reached:

lest I should build on another man's foundation; meaning not the law of Moses, nor the doctrines of the false teachers, but the foundation of the true apostles, and which was no other than the foundation Christ, he himself laid; but he chose not to go where they had laid the foundation by preaching Christ and his Gospel, that he might not take another man's crown, or boast in another man's line, or of other men's labours; but rather to go where others had never been, that he might first lay the foundation himself, by preaching Christ, and him crucified, and so the more act up to his character as an apostle, and as the apostle to the Gentiles.

Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:
Romans 15:20-21. But prosecuting it as a point of honour to preach in this way, the οὕτω is now first negatively stated: not where Christ was named, then positively: but, agreeably to the word of Scripture, etc. Hence οὐχ ὅπου, not ὅπου οὐκ.

φιλοτιμ.] dependent on με, Romans 15:19. On φιλοτιμεῖσθαι, to prosecute anything so that one seeks one’s honour in it, comp. 2 Corinthians 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:11; see Wetstein and Kypke. This full signification (not merely the more general one: zealously to prosecute) is to be maintained in all passages, including the classical ones, and admirably suits the context. The matter was a special point of honour with the apostle in his working;[25] 2 Corinthians 10:15-16.

ὨΝΟΜΆΣΘΗ] His name, as the contents of confession, has been named, namely, by preachers and confessors. See Romans 15:21.

ἵνα μὴ κ.τ.λ.] i.e., in order not simply to continue the work of conversion already begun by others. Comp. 1 Corinthians 3:10. The reason why Paul did not desire this, lay in the high consciousness of his apostolic destination (Acts 26:17-18), according to which he recognised the greatest and most difficult work, the founding of the church, as the task of the apostle, and found his apostolic honour in the solution of this task.[26] Others, as Reiche, specify as the reason, that he had sought on account of his freer system of doctrine to avoid polemical controversies. This would be a principle of practical prudence, corresponding neither to the apostolical idea, nor to Paul’s magnanimous character in following it out.

καθὼς γέγρ.] Isaiah 52:15, closely cited after the LXX., who took אֲשֶׁר in each case as masculine. The passage runs according to the original: “What was never told to them, they see; and what they have never heard, they perceive;” and the subject is the kings, who become dumb before the glorified Servant of God, not the nations (Hengstenberg, Christol. II. p. 305; Philippi). But the actual state of the case—seeing that, along with the kings, their peoples also must see the glory of the Servant of God—allowed the apostle here to put the nations as the subject, the Gentile-peoples, to whom, through him, the Servant of God as yet unknown to them is made known, i.e. Jesus Christ, in whom the Messianic fulfilment of that prophetic idea concerning the Servant of God, as the ideal of Israel, had appeared realized.[27]

περὶ αὐτοῦ] addition of the LXX.

ὄψονται] they shall see, namely mentally, in knowledge and faith, it (that which the preaching now brings before them).

οἳ οὐκ ἀκηκ.] namely, the news of Him (the gospel).

συνήσουσι] shall understand it (this news). Comp. Matthew 13:23; Matthew 15:10.

[25] Lucht here conceives the writer to be dependent even on a mistaken understanding of 2 Corinthians 10:15-16.

[26] The objection of Baur, ii. p. 399, that in truth, if this had been really Paul’s principle, the Epistle to the Romans itself would stand in contradiction to it, is invalid, since that principle referred only to his working as present in person; whence he thought of visiting the Romans only as διαπορευόμενος (ver. 24), on his intended journey to Spain. But to address letters to a church of a Pauline stamp, which had nevertheless been founded by others, such as, in fact, he wrote to the Colossians and Laodiceans, was not excluded by the above principle, the point of which was rather the personal presence at the founding of churches, and the oral proclamation of salvation.

[27] Comp. Schultz, alttestam. Theol. II. p. 263 ff.

Romans 15:20. οὕτω δὲ φιλοτιμούμενον (1 Thessalonians 4:11, 2 Corinthians 5:9): making it my ambition, however, thus to preach the Gospel, etc. This limits πεπληρωκέναι: he had never sought to preach where Christianity was already established. A point of honour, but not rivalry, is involved in φιλοτιμούμενον. ὠνομάσθη: cf. 2 Timothy 2:19 and Isaiah 26:13, Amos 6:10. To name the name of the Lord is to confess Him to be what He is to the faith of His people. ἵνα μὴ ἐπʼ ἀλλότοιον θεμέλιον κ.τ.λ. The duty of an Apostle was with the foundation, not the superstructure. 1 Corinthians 3:10. The same confidence in his vocation, and the same pride in limiting that confidence, and not boasting of what Christ had done through others, or intruding his operations into their sphere, pervades the tenth chapter of 2 Cor.

20. Yea, so have I strived] Better, But jealously striving so, &c. The “but” adds a qualifying additional fact; that his line and area of action were determined, in a measure, by his aim to work only in untouched regions. This is partly to explain why, with all his vast range of travel, he had not yet visited Rome.—“Jealously striving:”—the Gr. verb indicates an effort in which personal desires and principles are kept in view. St Paul made it a point of honour to be a pioneer in his missionary work; not with a selfish love of éclat, but because his devotion to his Master took this peculiar line, very probably under Divine suggestions.

lest I should build, &c.] He avoided this, probably, both from consciousness of the vastness of untouched heathendom, and from scrupulous avoidance of needless discord on secondary points.—For similar imagery, see 1 Corinthians 3:10.

Romans 15:20. Δὲ, moreover [yea, Engl. V.]) He gives the reason for taking those regions under his own care.—φιλοτιμούμενον) The Accusative absolute, in the neuter gender,[158] the same as ἀρξάμενον, Luke 24:47.[159]—οὐχ ὅπου, not where) This is more emphatic, than if he had said, where not; for he intimates, that he had as it were avoided those places, where Christ had been already known. So Colossians 2:1; Galatians 1:22. Paul is said to have been ‘unknown’ to those, who had previously received the faith.—ἀλλότριον, another man’s) Paul here does not term Christ Himself the foundation, but the work of others in preaching the Gospel of Christ.

[158] It being the object of my ambition. But Engl. V. takes it mascul., I have strived.—ED.

[159] But the oldest authorities read ἀρξάμενοι.—ED.

Verse 20. - Yea (or, but), so striving (or, earnestly desiring, or making it my aim. The word is φιλοτιμούμενον, cf. 2 Corinthians 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:11) to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation. In the compact between St. Paul and the apostles of the circumcision referred to in Galatians 2:1-7, it was agreed that he should confine his apostolic ministry to the Gentiles. Consequently, we find him selecting as centres of his work the principal cities of the heathen world. But he was further careful to avoid places, wherever they might be, in which Churches were already founded. It was the function of an apostle to extend the gospel by founding new Churches, rather than to invade the provinces of others. Those founded by himself, and thus under his immediate jurisdiction, as e.g. the Corinthian Church, he visited as need arose, and addressed them in authoritative letters, commanding as well as exhorting. But his rule in this respect did not preclude his writing also letters of general encouragement and admonition to any whom his peculiar commission as apostle of the Gen- tiles gave him a claim to be heard by. Thus he wrote to the Colossians, though he had never seen them (Colossians 1:4; Colossians 2:1); and thus also to the Romans, at the same time (as we have seen, Romans 15:15, seq.) almost apologizing for doing so; and, though he proposes visiting them, it is nor with the view of staying among them long, so as to take up the superintendence of them, but only on his way to Spain for mutual comfort and edification (see Romans 1:11, 12; Romans 15:24). Romans 15:20Have I strived (φιλοτιμούμενον)

The verb means originally to be fond of honor, and hence, from a love of honor, to strive, be ambitious. Compare 2 Corinthians 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:11. The correct sense is to prosecute as a point of honor.

Foundation (θεμέλιον)

See on settle, 1 Peter 5:10.

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