Romans 15:21
The apostle in these verses touches, as at the first (see Romans 1:1-15), on his personal relations to the Church at Rome. And he reintroduces the subject with much delicate courtesy. He may have seemed to be speaking somewhat boldly, to have assumed a knowledge and goodness superior to theirs: not so! They, he was sure, were "full of goodness, filled with all knowledge," and therefore "able to admonish one another." But he might at least remind them of what they knew; and this, not by any superiority of himself to them, but only by the grace of God; not as a better or wiser Christian man, but as an apostle commissioned by God. We have here set forth, then, much as before, his apostleship, his purpose respecting them, and his request for their prayers on his behalf. By this last, again, with much delicacy, making prominent his dependence on them, rather than theirs on him.

I. HIS APOSTLESHIP. He was put in trust by God with the gospel for the Gentiles. And his fulfilment of this trust was as a priestly service, which he should perform, not proudly, but faithfully. And what a service! ministering the gospel in this great temple of the new kingdom, that he might offer up as a sacrifice the whole Gentile world! His thoughts, perhaps, revert to the words he has used in Romans 12:1; and what a vision greets his view as he looks into the future - all the kindreds, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues of this manifold world, praising God with the harmonious psalm of a consecrated life, offering themselves a living sacrifice! Better this than all the bleeding victims of the older dispensation; all man's intellect and affection and energy of action, all science and art, all industry and commerce, all the multifarious activities of all lives, offered to God! And this was his work, to minister the gospel that the offering might be made, acceptable because sanctified by the Holy Ghost. He would glory in such a work as this, for Christ's sake! For all was through Christ, and the great work already done was only Christ's work

II. HIS PURPOSE. Now, there was one aim which governed him in the fulfilment of this work - he would preach the gospel only where it was not known before. Thus from place to place he went, proclaiming the glad tidings to those who had not heard. And hence to this present, having so much room for such work in those eastward parts, he had been hindered from visiting Rome. Now the hindrance was removed: he had "no more any place in these regions." And still impelled by the constraining purpose to preach the gospel to those "to whom no tidings of him came," he must now turn westwards, even to Spain. And, m passing to Spain, there is every reason why he should pause for mutual refreshment, as he delicately puts it, amongst a people who were, indirectly at least, the fruit of his labours - the Christians at Rome. And coming to them, he would come in the fulness of the blessing of Christ.

III. HIS REQUEST. But, meanwhile, there is another mission to fulfil - the mission of charity to the poor saints at Jerusalem. Prominence of this matter among the Churches (see 1 Corinthians 16.; Acts 20:4). Probable cause of necessity, withholding of custom from Christians on the part of their fellow-Jews. Mere charity demander that help should be given; and not only so, the Gentiles were bound in honour to pay, as it were, in this way, a debt they owed; for their salvation was "of the Jews." But what further constrained Paul to be urgent in this matter was his desire that the charity of the Gentile Churches might overcome all the prejudices that still subsisted amongst the Jewish Christians against the full and free admission of the Gentiles into the Christian Church. And for this, and also for his own security amongst many enemies, he asks the prayers of the Christians at Rome. Then he shall come to them in joy, and find rest. In any case, be he troubled or not, may the God of peace be with them! So does he exemplify, by his yearning love and courtesy of love, the spirit which he seeks to foster in them; so does he, as he would have them do, refer all his doings to the Lord Christ and the will of God. Most surely the God of peace was with him! - T.F.L.







But as It is written, To whom He was not spoken of, they shall see.
This ambition of the apostle was the means of fulfilling a prophecy with respect to the spread of the gospel in heathen countries. Thus it is that God fulfils His predictions and His purposes. He gives His people an earnest desire to be the means of accomplishing them at the moment when He designs their accomplishment. It will be thus that the gospel will at last be effectually carried to every country under heaven. It is thus that modern missionaries have, in some measure, carried the gospel to the heathen, and although the slothfulness of the people of God in former ages is not without blame, it is because the time to fulfil God's predictions to the nations was not come that a like ambition to that of Paul was not found more generally to animate Christians. Whenever the Lord has work to do, He raises up men with a heart to perform it. This, however, is no excuse at any particular time for indifference or want of effort to spread the gospel.

(R. Haldane.)

I. ITS DIFFICULTIES.

1. Untried ground.

2. A foundation must be laid.

3. Particular obstacles removed, etc.

II. ITS ENCOURAGEMENTS.

1. The nature of the gospel.

2. Its actual successes.

3. The faithful promise of God.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

I. THE OBJECT OF MISSIONARY ZEAL. To speak of Christ, and to make Christ known. If a heathen could say, "I am a man, and nothing human is foreign to me," how much more should our hearts burn, when we are told that the knowledge of Christ is at present limited to one-third of the human race! Surely this is an object sufficient to justify missionary efforts.

II. THE CHARACTER OF MISSIONARY LABOURS. To go forth and to preach the gospel of Christ. Leaving it to Mahomet to draw the sword and enforce obedience, for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, our appeal is not to secular authority, for the religion of Christ made its way against that authority.

III. THE PROMISES OF MISSIONARY SUCCESS. We can appeal to "It is written," and I should like to know what nineteen centuries have done to invalidate Paul's testimony.

IV. THE EXTENT OF MISSIONARY CLAIMS. If Jesus looked beyond His conflicts and trials, and saw of the travail of His soul, can we be indifferent to that on which His heart was set now He is in heaven? If He anticipated much as the reward of His labours, can we be satisfied that He should receive but little? Did He say, "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me"? Shall not we aim to lift Him up by the preaching of the gospel, and say to perishing men, "Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world"?

(R. C. Dillon, D.D.)

1. There are millions still who have not heard the gospel.

2. The gospel is not only adapted to their case, but intended for them.

3. The obligation rests on us to send it.

4. The successful result is certain — predicted — exemplified.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

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