That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)From them that do not believe.—This prayer of the Apostle was, perhaps, it may be said, partially granted. He escaped with his life from his unbelieving countrymen (Acts 23:27), but only to be delivered over to the Romans. He was naturally in fear of the party to which he had himself once belonged, and who would regard him as one of the worst of apostates. But it is to be observed that he expresses no apprehension of the Judaising Christians, as might have been expected if their antagonism had really been as violent as some would make out.
My service which I have for Jerusalem.—My service or ministration (i.e., “The gift of which I am the bearer”) which is destined for Jerusalem.
May be accepted.—It is possible, though we cannot speak at all positively, that there was mingled with the desire of the Apostle to benefit the church at Jerusalem something of a wish to do a graceful and conciliatory act to that Judaising branch of the church from which circumstances tended to estrange him.Acts 21:21. Hence, the apostle could not but be aware that in returning to Judea, he exposed himself to special dangers. His fears, as the result showed, were well founded. They evinced all the opposition to him which he had ever anticipated; Acts 21.
And that my service - My ministry; or the act of service which I am going to perform for them; referring to the contribution which he was bearing for the poor saints at Jerusalem.
For Jerusalem - For the poor Christians in Jerusalem.
May be accepted of the saints - That the poor Christians there may be willing to receive it. The grounds of "doubt" and "hesitation" whether they would be willing to receive this, seem to have been two.
(1) many, even among Christians, might have had their minds filled with prejudice against the apostle, from the reports constantly in circulation among the Jews, that he was opposing and denouncing the customs of Moses. Hence, in order to satisfy them, when he went up to Jerusalem, he actually performed a "vow," in accordance with the Law of Moses, to show that he did not intend to treat his laws with contempt; Acts 21:22-23, Acts 21:26-27.
(2) many of the converts from Judaism might be indisposed to receive an offering made by "Gentiles." They might have retained many of their former feelings - that the Gentiles were polluted, and that they ought to have no fellowship with them. Early opinions and prejudices wear off by slow degrees. Christians retain former notions long after their conversion; and often many years are required to teach them enlarged views of Christian charity. It is not wonderful that the Christians in Judea should have been slow to learn all the ennobling lessons of Christian benevolence, surrounded as they were by the institutions of the Jewish religion, and having been themselves educated in the strictest regard for those institutions.
in Judea—He saw the storm that was gathering over him in Judea, which, if at all, would certainly burst upon his head when he reached the capital; and the event too clearly showed the correctness of these apprehensions.
and that my service which I have for Jerusalem—(See on Ro 15:25-28).
may be accepted of—"prove acceptable to"
the saints—Nor was he without apprehension lest the opposition he had made to the narrow jealousy of the Jewish converts against the free reception of their Gentile brethren, should make this gift of theirs to the poor saints at Jerusalem less welcome than it ought to be. He would have the Romans therefore to join him in wrestling with God that this gift might be gratefully received, and prove a cement between the two parties. But further.
First: That ye may be delivered from them that did not believe, or were disobedient and refractory, in Judea. He knew the Jews were incensed against him; that troubles did abide him or wait for him in Judea, thither he was going; see Acts 20:23. And it happened accordingly, for the Jews went about to kill him, Acts 21:31. Therefore it is that he desires their prayers, that he might be delivered from them; see 2 Thessalonians 3:2.
Secondly: That the alms he brought the poor saints at Jerusalem might be taken by them in good part; that they might be reconciled, both to the Gentile churches that sent it, and to him that brought it. It detracts greatly from a gift, when it comes, either from one, or by one, against whom we are prejudiced. Acts 21:27; though he was not disheartened and intimidated, and did not shun going up to Jerusalem, though entreated not to go; yet he thought proper to engage the churches of Christ in prayer for him, that he might be delivered out of the hands of such wicked and unreasonable men, who being destitute of faith in Christ, were filled with enmity against his ministers; see 2 Thessalonians 3:1;
and that my service which I have for Jerusalem, may be accepted of the saints; that is, that the collection which was made by the Gentile churches for the poor saints at Jerusalem, the ministration of which unto them he had took upon him, might be cheerfully and gratefully received by them. One would think there were no fear of this, nor any need to pray for it; for if they were poor, and in necessitous circumstances, as they were, they would be glad of relief, and thankfully accept it: but the case was this, and the difficulties attending this service were, that this collection came from the Gentiles, to whom the Jews had an aversion, and was brought to them by one that they had entertained an ill opinion of, being informed that he had taught the Gentiles to forsake Moses, not to circumcise their children, or walk after the customs; wherefore he did not know whether, though in necessity, anything coming for their relief from such a quarter, and through his hands, would be received with any pleasure by them: besides, his desire was that it might be received as a token of the true and sincere love the Gentiles bore to them; and be a means of reconciling the believing Jews to them, to own them as sister churches of the same faith and order with themselves.That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Romans 15:31 f. ἵνα ῥυσθῶ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀπειθούντων: from the disobedient, i.e., from the Jews who had not received the Gospel, 2 Thessalonians 1:8, chap. Romans 11:30. καὶ ἡ διακονία μου κ.τ.λ. It was not the unbelieving Jews only who hated Paul. To them he was an apostate, who had disappointed all their hopes; but even Christian Jews in many cases regarded him as false to the nation’s prerogative, and especially to the law. There was a real danger that the contribution he brought from the Gentile Churches might not be graciously accepted, even accepted at all; it might be regarded as a bribe, in return for which Paul’s opposition to the law was to be condoned, and the equal standing of his upstart churches in the Kingdom of God acknowledged. It was by no means certain that it would be taken as what it was—a pledge of brotherly love; and God alone could dispose “the saints” to take it as simply as it was offered. Paul’s state of mind as seen here is exactly that which is revealed in Acts 20:17-38; Acts 21:13, etc. ἵνα ἐν χαρᾷ ἐλθών … συναναπαύσωμαι ὑμῖν. συναναπ. here only in N.T. but cf. συνπαρακληθῆναι, Romans 1:12, and συναγωνίσασθαι Romans 15:30. “Rest after the personal danger and after the ecclesiastical crisis of which the personal danger formed a part” (Hort). The ἵνα here seems to be subordinate to, not co-ordinate with the preceding one. Paul looks forward to a time of joy and rest beyond these anxieties and dangers, as the ultimate end to be secured by their prayers. διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ: it depends on this whether Paul is to return or how. He did reach Rome, by the will of God (Romans 1:10), but hardly in the conditions anticipated here.31. that I may be delivered, &c.] This prayer was granted, though not in the way expected. See Acts 21:31-32; Acts 23:12-24; Acts 25:2-4; Acts 25:12.—The words here (cp. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2,) are among the many proofs of St Paul’s naturally anxious and sensitive character, and that his faith and zeal had always this secret obstacle to struggle with. His life-long victory is the more admirable, and the more illustrates Divine grace.
accepted of the saints] This seems to indicate his consciousness that some of the Christians of Jerusalem bore a prejudice against his person. (Cp. Acts 21:20-21.) Otherwise, this would scarcely be named as a matter for “striving” prayer.Romans 15:31. Καὶ ἵνα, and that) This is also an important matter.—εὐπρόσδεκτος, accepted) that the Jews and Gentiles may be united in the closest bonds of love. The liberality of the Gentiles, which was shown for the sake of the name of Jesus, afforded to the Jews an argument for the truth and efficacy of the Christian faith, and for lawful communion with the Gentiles, 2 Corinthians 9:13.
See on Romans 10:21. Better, Rev., them that are disobedient.
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