Romans 15:21
But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.
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(21) To whom . . .—From the LXX. of Isaiah 52:15. The original has reference to the servant of Jehovah, first suffering and then glorified, so that kings should be dumb with astonishment at the change. Here it is applied to the evangelisation of distant heathen nations.

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.But as it is written - Isaiah 52:15. This is not literally quoted, but the sense is retained. The design of quoting it is to justify the principle on which the apostle acted. It was revealed that the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles; and he regarded it as a high honor to be the instrument of carrying this prediction into effect. 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. See Poole on "Romans 15:20"

But as it is written,.... In Isaiah 52:15;

to whom he was not spoken of, they shall see, and they that have not heard shall understand; for the Messiah was not spoken of to the Gentiles; they were strangers to the covenants of promise; the oracles of God were committed to the Jews; God gave his word and statutes to them, and not to any other nation: and yet, according to this prophecy, the Gentiles were to see him whom they had no account of; not in the flesh with their bodily eyes, in which sense only, or at least chiefly, the Jews saw him; but with the eyes of their understanding, by faith, as exhibited and evidently set forth before them as crucified, in the Gospel and the ordinances of it: and though they had heard nothing of him, having for many hundreds of years been left in ignorance, and suffered to walk in their own ways, until the apostles were sent among them; whose sound went into all the earth, and their words to the end of the world; yet when this would be the case, according to these words, they would understand the mind and will of God, the mysteries of his grace, the nature of the person and offices of Christ, the design of his coming into the world, and the way of salvation by him; all which was greatly brought about and accomplished, in the ministry of the Apostle Paul among them. The passage is very pertinently cited and applied by the apostle. The whole paragraph is to be understood of the Messiah, from whence it is taken, as it is owned, and accordingly interpreted by many Jewish writers, both ancient (b) and modern (c); and these words particularly respect the kings and nations of the world, who are represented as struck with silence and wonder, when, upon the preaching and hearing of the Messiah, they should see him by faith, and spiritually understand what is declared concerning him. The difference between the apostle's version of these words, which is the same with the Septuagint, and the text in Isaiah, is very inconsiderable. The first clause of the Hebrew text may be literally rendered thus, "for him, who was not spoken of to them, they shall see"; and the apostle's Greek in this manner, to whom "it was not spoken of concerning him, they shall see"; the sense is the same, and person intended Christ: the latter clause, which we from the Hebrew text render, "and that which they had not heard, shall they consider"; and here, "they that have not heard, shall understand", has nothing material in it, in which they differ; for in the former part of it both design the Messiah, and the things concerning him, the Gentiles had not heard of; and the latter is rendered and explained by the Targum, and by R. Sol Jarchi, as by the apostle, "they shall understand"; and which fitly expresses the sense of the Hebrew word used by the prophet.

(b) Targum in Isaiah 52.13. Pesikta in Kettoreth hassammim in Num. fol. 27. 2. Tanchuma apud Huls. Jud. Theolog. p. 321. (c) Baal Hatturim in Leviticus 16.14. R. Moses Aishech in lsa. lii. 13. Vid. R. Aben Ezra in ib.

But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.
Romans 15:21. ἀλλὰ καθὼς γέγραπται: Paul’s actual procedure corresponded with, and indeed led to the fulfilment of, a famous O.T. prophecy. Isaiah 52:11 exactly as in LXX. It is absurd to argue with Fritzsche that Paul found a prediction of his own personal ministry (and of the principles on which he discharged it), in Isaiah, and equally beside the mark to argue that his use of the passage is “quite in accordance with the spirit of the original”. The LXX is quite different from the Hebrew, and Paul quotes it because he liked to be able to express his own opinion or practice in Scripture language. It seemed to him to get a Divine confirmation in this way; but an examination of various passages shows that he cared very little for the original meaning or application.

21. but as it is written, &c.] There is, obviously, an ellipsis. Q. d., “I have made it my principle to preach, not where Christ was named, but where that prediction would be verified—‘To whom He was not spoken of, &c.’ ” The quotation is from Isaiah 52:15, verbatim with LXX., which paraphrases the Heb. The whole passage refers to the great Servant of the Lord, and to the effects of His work, and of the “report” of Him, on “nations” and “kings.”

Romans 15:21. Οἷςσυνήσουσι) Isaiah 52:15. So plainly the LXX.

Verses 21-24. - But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand (Isaiah 52:15, as in the LXX. The passage is Messianic; but St. Paul need be understood to be quoting it as predictive or directive of the rule he follows. Enough if it expresses his meaning well). For which cause also I have been much hindered (or, was for the most part, or many times hindered) from coming to you. The hindrance had been, mainly at least, as is evident from Δὼ (ver. 22), the obligation he was under of completing his ministry in the first place in other quarters (see on Romans 1:13). But now having no longer place in these regions (i.e., according to the context, there being no additional sphere for my activity there. He had now planted the gospel in all the principal centres, leaving disciples and converts, and probably an ordained ministry, to carry on the work and extend it in the regions round. In this his proper apostolic work consisted; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:14-17), and having a great desire these many years to come unto you; whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I hope to see you on my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. The sense of this verse is no way affected by the omission of "I will come unto you," which authorities are against retaining. If "for," after this omission, be retained, the sentence is incomplete, as St. Paul's sometimes are. The omission of "for" (for which there is some little authority) leaves the sentence improved. The apostle's selection of Spain as his next intended sphere of labour might be due to the notoriety of that Roman province, and the facility of communication with it by sea. His omission of Italy, except for a passing visit, is accounted for by his principle, already enunciated, of not building on other men's foundation, there being already a flourishing Church at any rate at Rome. He hoped, as appears from this verse, that some of the members of it might join him in his mission to Spain. For the word προπεμφθῆναι would imply their going all the way in the case of a sea-voyage. For the use of the word, cf. Acts 15:3; Acts 20:38; Acts 21:5; 1 Corinthians 16:6; 2 Corinthians 1:16. Observe the characteristic courtesy of the concluding clause, which is literally, "should I be first in part" (i.e. not as much as I should wish, but to such extent as my short stay with you will allow) "filled with you," i.e. enjoy you. Romans 15:21
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