Romans 16:19
For your obedience is come abroad to all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise to that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
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(19) No harm has been done as yet. Still it is well to be upon your guard.

Simple concerning evil.—This is not at all the same word as that which is translated “simple” above. The first is that freedom from dishonest motives which makes a man an unsuspecting and easy prey for designing persons, and applies rather to natural bent and disposition. The second refers rather to the confirmed habit of one who has come in contact with evil, and is still uncontaminated by it; who has resisted all the plots and schemes that have been laid for him; and whose love for what is good and hatred of evil, has only been strengthened and disciplined. The word for “simple” here means “unmixed,” “uncontaminated,” “pure and clear.”

Romans 16:19-20. For, &c. — As if he had said, This exhortation I give you, to preserve you in the way in which hitherto you have walked, to the credit of the gospel: for your ready obedience and conformity to it, is come abroad unto all men — Is generally taken notice of by all who observe such things: see 1 Thessalonians 1:8. The Greek is, literally, your obedience hath come to all — That is, the fame of your obedience. For that such a number of the inhabitants of the metropolis of the Roman empire had forsaken the gods whom they and their forefathers had worshipped, and had believed in and now worshipped the God of the Jews, and relied for salvation, present and eternal, on a person who had been crucified as a malefactor in Judea, must have been much spoken of through all the provinces, even among the heathen, and must have been observed by the Christians with great joy and gratitude to God. I am glad, therefore, on your behalf — That you manifested such readiness in embracing the gospel, and that you have hitherto had your conversation according to it. But yet I would have you — Not only obedient, but discreet also; wise, with regard to that which is good — As well-informed and knowing in this as possible; and simple with regard to that which is evil — As little as possible acquainted with it, or perfectly free from all improper views and designs of every kind. “The apostle’s argument is this: Since ye have shown such prudence and discernment in receiving the gospel, ye should show like prudence and discernment in your behaviour under it, by doing every thing that is good, and by preserving yourselves unpolluted with evil.” And the God of peace — Who hath made peace for us through the blood of the cross; He, from whom we derive all our peace and happiness, who delights in seeing this peaceful temper prevail among his servants, and who is an enemy to those divisions, mentioned Romans 16:17, shall bruise Satan — Who, by his instruments, seeks to seduce and disturb you; under your feet shortly — Shall give you victory over him, and defeat all the artifices of that sower of tares. It is with great propriety that this epithet, the God of peace, is here used, because, unless peace had been made between God and us, Satan would have kept us in everlasting bondage and misery. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ — The unmerited favour of God, as the fountain of all good, and the influences of the Spirit, as streams flowing from thence, together with the increase thereof, as blessings purchased for us, and communicated to us by Christ, be with you, still more constantly and abundantly! Amen.16:17-20 How earnest, how endearing are these exhortations! Whatever differs from the sound doctrine of the Scriptures, opens a door to divisions and offences. If truth be forsaken, unity and peace will not last long. Many call Christ, Master and Lord, who are far from serving him. But they serve their carnal, sensual, worldly interests. They corrupt the head by deceiving the heart; perverting the judgments by winding themselves into the affections. We have great need to keep our hearts with all diligence. It has been the common policy of seducers to set upon those who are softened by convictions. A pliable temper is good when under good guidance, otherwise it may be easily led astray. Be so wise as not to be deceived, yet so simple as not to be deceivers. The blessing the apostle expects from God, is victory over Satan. This includes all designs and devices of Satan against souls, to defile, disturb, and destroy them; all his attempts to keep us from the peace of heaven here, and the possession of heaven hereafter. When Satan seems to prevail, and we are ready to give up all as lost, then will the God of peace interpose in our behalf. Hold out therefore, faith and patience, yet a little while. If the grace of Christ be with us, who can prevail against us?For your obedience ... - Romans 1:8. Your mild, obedient disposition to learn, and to obey the precepts of the teachers of religion.

I am glad ... - I rejoice that you evince such a disposition. But he immediately adds, that "this" was just the temper to be imposed upon, and cautions them against that danger.

Wise unto that which is good - Evince understanding of what is adapted to promote good and worthy ends.

Simple concerning evil - Greek, "harmless." Not disposed to do wrong; having no plan and yielding to none of the allurements of evil. You have shown your wisdom in "obeying" the gospel. I would have you still evince wisdom toward "every good" design; but to be unacquainted with "any" plan of evil. Do not yield to those plans, or follow those who would lead you into them.

19. For your obedience—that is, tractableness

is come abroad unto all. I am glad therefore on your behalf—"I rejoice therefore over you," seems the true reading.

but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple—"harmless," as in Mt 10:16, from which the warning is taken.


evil—"Your reputation among the churches for subjection to the teaching ye have received is to me sufficient ground of confidence in you; but ye need the serpent's wisdom to discriminate between transparent truth and plausible error, with that guileless simplicity which instinctively cleaves to the one and rejects the other."

For your obedience is come abroad unto all men: q.d. As for you, your ready embracing of the gospel, and conformity thereunto, is generally taken notice of by all that mind such things: see the like, Romans 1:8 1 Thessalonians 1:8.

I am glad therefore on your behalf; I rejoice to hear of your soundness and teachablehess; I do not therefore speak this to accuse, but to caution you.

But yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil: q.d. Take heed that you be not cheated by seducers, that thcy do not abuse your tractableness to draw you into errors. He exhorts them to join prudence with simplicity; to be so harmless and simple as not to invent false doctrine, and yet to be so wise and skilful as to be able to discern truth from falsehood; to be so innocent as not to deceive, and so prudent as not to be deceived: see Matthew 10:16. He prays for the Philippians, that they may have this discretion, Philippians 1:9,10, and exhorts the Thessalonians thereunto, 1 Thessalonians 5:21. For your obedience is come abroad unto all men,.... That is, as the Arabic and Ethiopic versions render it, "the fame" and report of their obedience to the faith, to the doctrine of the Gospel, and the ministers of it, was spread everywhere, was well known to everyone, and spoken of with commendeth among all the churches in all nations: and this the apostle mentions as another reason why they should beware of false teachers, since it would be greatly to their reproach, should they, after all this, drop that form of doctrine which they had obeyed, desert the faithful ministers of the word, and follow these false teachers; should this be the case, they would be as notorious for their disobedience, as now for their obedience: and moreover, the apostle might hereby suggest, that whereas it was everywhere known how readily and at once they embraced the Gospel of Christ; this credulity and readiness to believe, which was their commendation, might have invited false teachers among them, who might hope and take encouragement from hence the more easily to gain upon them; and therefore they ought to be upon their watch and guard, and beware of them, and not believe every spirit:

I am glad therefore on your behalf; that they had so cheerfully and readily embraced the Gospel, and from the heart obeyed that form of doctrine delivered to them; and that their praise for this was in all the churches of Christ, and had everywhere a good report on this account:

but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil; which is just the reverse of natural and unregenerate men, who are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge; some reference seems to be had to the words of Christ in Matthew 10:16; the apostle's meaning is, that though he rejoiced at the heartiness and simplicity of their obedience, and the credit they obtained abroad on account of it, yet was he not without his fears and jealousies concerning them; and could not but greatly wish them more wisdom to understand the doctrines of the Gospel, to discern things that differ, and approve that which is the most excellent, and hold fast that which is good; and with all their harmlessness, innocence, and simplicity, prudently guard against all evil doctrines and principles, such as might unawares lead them into bad practices, dishonourable to religion, and uncomfortable to themselves.

{3} For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you {h} wise unto that which is good, and {i} simple concerning evil.

(3) Simplicity must be joined with wisdom.

(h) Furnished with the knowledge of the truth and wisdom, so that you may embrace good things, and avoid evil, beware of the deceits and snares of false prophets, and resist them openly: and this place plainly destroys the papists faith of credit, whereas they maintain it to be sufficient for one man to believe as another man believes, without further knowledge or examination what the matter is, or what ground it has: using these daily speeches, We believe as our fathers believed, and we believe as the Church believes.

(i) As men that know no way to deceive, much less deceive indeed.

Romans 16:19. Not a second ground assigned for, or justification of, the warning of Romans 16:17 (Tholuck, de Wette, Philippi; comp. also Reithmayr and Hofmann); for this use of a second really co-ordinated γάρ is nowhere to be assumed in the N. T. See on the contrary, on Romans 8:6. Nor is it to be taken, with Fritzsche: “nam vos innocentibus qui facile decipiuntur hominibus annumerandos esse, ex eo intelligitur, quod vos Christo obedientes esse nemo ignorat;” for the latter is exactly the opposite of ready liability to seduction. Nor with Rückert: for the general diffusion of the news that you are such good Christians will soon bring those men to Rome, that they may sow their tares; which is not expressed. Nor yet again with Calvin and others, Reiche, and Köllner: for you are indeed good Christians, whereat I rejoice; but I desire, etc.—against which the expression, especially the want of μεν and the presence of οὖν, is decisive. In order to a correct understanding, one should note the emphatically prefixed ὑμῶν which stands in correlation—and that antithetic—with τῶν ἀκάκων. Hence (as also Philippi admits, comp. van Hengel): “not without reason do I say: the hearts of the guileless; for you they will not lead astray, because you do not belong to such as the mere ἄκακοι, but distinguish yourselves so much by obedience (towards the gospel), that this has become universally known; respecting you therefore (here, too, ἐφʼ ὑμῖν stands first emphatically; see the critical notes) I rejoice,[49] yet desire that you may be wise and pure,”—a delicate combination of warning with the expression of firm confidence. Strangely, Lucht, comparing Acts 20:29, assigns Romans 16:19 to an epistle to the Ephesians.

εἰς τὰ ἀγαθ.] in reference to the good, which you have to do. By this general expression Paul means specially fidelity towards the pure gospel.

ἀκεραίους εἰς τὸ κακόν] pure in reference to evil, so that you keep yourselves unmixed with it, free from it. Comp. Php 2:15, Matthew 10:16; and see respecting ἀκεραῖος generally, Ruhnken, ad Tim. p. 18.

[49] In the reading of the Recepta defended by Hofmann, χαίρω οὖν τὸ ἐφʼ ὑμῖν, χαίρειν would not have to be supplied after τό (as Hofmann very oddly thinks); but τὸ ἐφʼ ὑμῖν sc. ὄν would, according to a well-known usage (see Bernhardy, p. 329; Krüger, § 68. 41. 9; Schaefer, ad Bos. Ell. p. 277; Kühner, II. 1, p. 434), be a more precise definition to χαίρω: I rejoice, as to what concerns you. In this case, ἐφʼ ὑμῖν would be by no means dependent on the notion χαίρω, but the latter would stand absolutely.Romans 16:19. ἡ γὰρ ὑμῶν ὑπακοὴ: What is the connection? “I give this exhortation, separating you altogether from the false teachers, and from those who are liable to be misled by them; for your obedience (ὑμῶν emphasised by position) has come abroad to all men. (Cf. Romans 1:8.) Over you therefore I rejoice, but,” etc. He expresses his confidence in them, but at the same time conveys the feeling of his anxiety. For χαίρειν ἐπὶ see 1 Corinthians 13:6; 1 Corinthians 16:17. σοφοὺς μὲν εἶναι εἰς τὸ ἀγαθὸν, ἀκεραίους δὲ εἰς τὸ κακόν. For ἀκέραιος see Matthew 10:16, Php 2:15, and Trench, Syn[41], § lvi., where there is a full discussion and comparison with ἄκακος. The fundamental idea of the word is that of freedom from alien or disturbing elements. What Paul here wishes for the Romans—moral intelligence, not impaired in the least by any dealings with evil—does suggest that antinomianism was the peril to be guarded against. Integrity of the moral nature is the best security: the seductive teaching is instinctively repelled.

[41] synonym, synonymous.19. For your obedience, &c.] This verse is sometimes explained q. d., “You are known to be singularly docile; a good thing in itself, but which may be abused by these false teachers: therefore see that your simplicity is in the right place, and be on the watch.” But this is unlikely. For (1) St Paul would scarcely commend, even passingly, the spirit which listens deferentially (“obedience”) to any teacher whoever he may be; (2) this Epistle alone proves that, as a fact, the Roman Christians were “in understanding, men;” (3) the word rendered “obedience” is always, elsewhere in N. T., a word of pure good; (4) the closing words of this verse do not agree with the suggested explanation, which would rather demand “simple (in listening) to good, but wise (in watching) against evil.” Far more probably the ver. may be paraphrased: “These sectaries deceive the simple. I do not say they deceive you; for your heartfelt acceptance of the Truth is known everywhere; and I rejoice to think of you in this light, whatever I may have to mourn over in others. But a caution, even for you, may be in season: do not be led astray by tempting baits of fancied wisdom. Be deep in the wisdom of humble faith; be content to be untainted by acquaintance with a wisdom which at its root is evil.”

is come abroad] Lit. did come. Probably the occasion of their first definite acceptance of the Gospel is referred to. Their strong and deep allegiance to the Truth, (“obedience,”) was at that time famous everywhere.

on your behalf] Lit. as to what concerns you. The word “you” is emphatic, with a reference to others who might give St Paul less cause for joy.

but yet I would, &c.] See the paraphrase above, in the last note but two. Cp. Revelation 2:24, where probably the words imply that the false teachers at Thyatira tempted the believers to listen to them by promising to reveal “depths” of wisdom; depths which were really, says the Lord, “depths of Satan.”

simple] Lit. untainted. Same word as Matthew 10:16; Php 2:15; (E. V., “harmless”). The original idea (freedom from alloy,) passes into that of freedom from ill motives, or (as here) from defiling knowledge.Romans 16:19. Ὑπακοὴ, obedience) which belongs to οἱ ἀκάκοι, the simple. Their obedience itself, not merely its report, reached all, since by frequent intercourse believers from among the Romans came also to other places, and their obedience itself was observed face to face. It thus happens, that, as contagion is bad in the case of bad men, so it is good among the good, in a good sense.—πάντας, all) you, or others also.—ἀφίκετο) Hesychius explains ἀφίκετο by παρεγένετο.—τὸ ἐφʼ ὑμιν, as far as you are concerned) in opposition to those turbulent persons, who occasion him anxiety, not joy.—θέλω δὲ, but I wish) an antithesis: you are evidently not wanting in obedience and ἀκακία, simplicity; but you should add to them discretion.—σοφοὺς, wise) contrary to those, of whom Jeremiah speaks, Romans 4:22, σοφοί εἰσι τοῦ κακοποιῆσαι, τὸ δὲ καλῶς ποιῆσαι οὐκ ἐπέγνωσαν, they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.—ἀκεραίους) say, if any evil presents itself: I consider this a thing, which is alien to me; ἀκέραιος is taken here in a passive sense.[170]

[170] Unaffected by evil.—ED.Simple (ἀκεραίους)

See on harmless, Matthew 10:16.

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