Romans 15:25


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 now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.
Paul is now at the end of his second journey to Greece, and at Corinth (Romans 16:1, 23). When writing to Corinth, his Jerusalem journey uncertain (1 Corinthians 16:4). Romans, therefore, was written after Corinthians. Duty now called Paul to take money to Jerusalem rather than the gospel to Rome. There is a time for every work, and everything is beautiful in its season. To be faithful in littles is to be faithful in all. Obedience to every call of duty learned in the school of Christ. Paul's visit to Jerusalem was fraught with danger, yet was of the deepest importance, viz., to overcome the prejudices of Jewish against Gentile believers, and to unite both more closely in Christian love. Christian union to be promoted before evangelising new countries as essential to success. This mission was in accordance with the recommendation of the council of Jerusalem (Galatians 2:10). Ministering to the poor not beneath an apostle, as it was not beneath the apostle's Master. Often the best way to the heart is to help with the hand, and the cost of sympathy is the best proof of its sincerity. What Paul could not give himself, he moved others to give. A double benefit is conferred in exciting the liberality of others. The giver and the receiver are both blessed (Acts 20:35; 2 Corinthians 9:10-14).

(T. Robinson, D.D.)

1. Is a Christian duty.

2. Should be a pleasure.

3. May be a debt of justice.

4. Is always a blessing.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

is ready —

1. To go anywhere.

2. To engage in every good work.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

To dispense our wealth liberally is the best way to preserve it and to continue masters thereof; what we give is not thrown away but saved from danger; while we detain it at home (as it seems to us) it really is abroad and at adventures; it is out at sea, sailing perilously in storms, near rocks and shelves, amongst pirates; nor can it ever be safe till it is brought into this port or insured this way; when we have bestowed it on the poor, then we have lodged it in unquestionable safety, in a place where no rapine, no deceit, no mishap, no corruption can ever by any means come at it. All our doors and bars, all our forces and guards, all the circumspection and vigilancy we can use, are no defence or security at all in comparison to this disposal thereof: the poor man's stomach is a granary for our corn which never can be exhausted; the poor man's back is a wardrobe for our clothes which never can be pillaged; the poor man's pocket is a bank for our money which never can disappoint or deceive us; all the rich traders in the world may decay and break, but the poor man can never fail except God Himself turn bankrupt; for what we give to the poor, we deliver and intrust in His hands, out of which no force can wring it, no craft can filch; it is laid up in heaven, whither no thief can climb; where no moth or rust doth abide. In despite of all the fortune, of all the might, of all the malice in the world, the liberal man will ever be rich, for God's providence is his estate, God's wisdom and power are his defence; God's love and favour are his reward; God's Word is his assurance, who hath said it, that "he which giveth to the poor, shall not lack"; no vicissitude of things therefore can surprise or find him unfurnished; no disaster can impoverish him, no adversity can overwhelm him; he hath a certain reserve against all times and occasions: he that "deviseth liberal things, by Liberal things shall he stand," saith the prophet.

(L Barrow.)

The great ocean is in a constant state of evaporation. It gives back what it receives, and sends its waters into mists, to gather into clouds, and so there is rain in the fields, and storm on the mountain, and beauty everywhere. But there are men who do not believe in evaporation. They get all they can, and keep all they get, and so are not fertilisers, but only miasmatic pools.

A missionary of the China Inland Mission says, "There is one gentleman down in the southern part of my province, a man of wealth among the Chinese, a man of landed property, but one who considers the whole of his time and influence and means must, as a matter of course, be at the feet of the Lord Jesus. We never told him that. He said, 'Why, the Lord has redeemed me; He shed His blood, He spared nothing in working out my redemption; therefore I consider that granary of mine, full of rice, is for the use of the brothers and sisters if they need it.'"

(China's Millions.)

For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints
I. HOW THEY OUGHT TO BE REGARDED.

1. As a service due on account of spiritual benefits received.

2. Or as an expression of Christian love to the needy.

II. HOW OUGHT THEY TO DE SUPPORTED?

1. Not of necessity, or by constraint.

2. But —

(1)As a pleasure.

(2)As a fruit of grace acceptable to God.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

Weekly Pulpit.
After the breaking up of the Christian community at Jerusalem on the martyrdom of Stephen, those who remained were much persecuted, and became poor. The apostle was much concerned about them, and exhorted the Churches at Corinth, Galatia, Thessalonica, and Philippi to make a collection in their behalf, which might be sent by the hand of trustworthy persons, he also promising to accompany them. It was when on that mission he was apprehended. The collection —

I. WAS A DUTY (ver. 27). The gospel came through a Jewish channel, and from Jerusalem. We cannot say of what service the Christian poor have been to the cause of truth and to ourselves. God has heard their prayers, blessed their labours in former days, and we are their debtors. Let not our alms be made in the spirit of mere pity, but under a sense of obligation. "He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord."

II. WAS TO BE SYSTEMATICALLY MADE (1 Corinthians 16.). It was some time after the contribution was sent to Jerusalem, but the Churches stored weekly. Sunday was the day of thanksgiving for the resurrection of Christ, and it was meet that each Christian should honour the day by consecrating his gift to the Lord. This is the only scriptural method of giving. The portion is thoughtfully laid aside for the service of God, and brings a blessing on the giver.

III. WAS TO BE LIBERALLY AND CHEERFULLY MADE. "God loveth a cheerful giver." No gift is acceptable in the sight of God except it comes from the heart. To give from custom or from shame is not an act of worship. Our compassion for those in want excites the heart to give largely and lovingly.

IV. WAS TO BE MADE FOR THE GLORY OF GOD (2 Corinthians 9.). The thanksgiving of the poor saints at Jerusalem was twofold — for relief in their poverty, but principally because the gospel was bearing fruit in other lands.

V. WAS TO BEAR THE STAMP OF JESUS. He, though rich, became poor for our sakes. As He, so we must endeavour to enrich others.

(Weekly Pulpit.)

are —

1. Founded in the ordinations of Providence.

2. Strengthened by the ties of Christian brotherhood.

3. Stronger than national prejudice.

4. Should be met with pleasure.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

Macaulay, in his essay on Milton, says — "Ariosto tells a story of a fairy who, by some mysterious law of her nature, was condemned to appear at certain seasons in the form of a foul, poisonous snake. Those who injured her during the period of her disguise were for ever excluded from participation in the blessings which she bestowed. But to those who, in spite of her loathsome aspect, pitied and protected her, she afterward revealed herself in the beautiful and celestial form which was natural to her, accompanied their steps, granted all their wishes, filled their houses with wealth, made them happy in love and victorious in war." So what is done to Christ in His disguised and lowly form, of the poor and sick of earth, is a test of our character and our love, and will be rewarded by Him when He comes in His glory.

A Christian who had made heavy losses asked his pastor about the missionary collection. He said, "I have made it already; but, knowing that you had been a great loser this year, I did not think it proper to call upon you for your usual donation." — "My dear sir," replied the gentleman, "it is very true that I have suffered great losses, and must be prudent in my expenditures; but retrenchment must not begin at the house of God."

If the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things
I. OUR OBLIGATIONS TO THE JEWS. We have received "of their spiritual things."

1. With the patriarch Abraham was made that covenant, on the footing of which every blessing that we hope for, in time or eternity, is secured to us. But Abraham has further conferred a mass of obligations upon us, in that he illustrated the life of faith in his conduct. Who doubts what is the duty of the Christian, when he sees what the father of the faithful did?

2. From Moses we had the law, that law which shows us our need of the covenant, and shuts us up to it. When we come to God and lay hold of this covenant, the same law, which is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, becomes a light to our feet, and a lamp to our paths.

3. Take the prophets, and see what they have given us, in the shape of promises of Christ and spiritual blessings.

4. Who reads the Psalms and does not feel a sense of obligation to David, that he ever unfolded so all the workings of his own heart for our edification and for our comfort?

5. Remember the apostles, who exhibited the Saviour, and laid down their lives that we might know Him, and enjoy all the blessings of the gospel. Now the text says that we have received their spiritual things, and that, consequently, we are their debtors. Perhaps you will say, they were far distant; we were indebted to them, but what have the Jews of the present day done unto us? But God blessed the Jewish nation in spite of all their rebellion, for Abraham's sake, and preserved a light unto Judah for a thousand years for David's sake! Well, then, if He, at the distance of so many centuries regarded Abraham, and David, and vouchsafed to the most unworthy persons blessings for their sakes, surely let not us talk of the unworthiness of the existing generation, but remember our obligations to the generations that are past. But we are expressly told that the Jews are beloved of God for their fathers' sake; shall they not, then, be beloved by us for their fathers' sake?

II. THE RETURN WE SHOULD RENDER TO THEM.

1. To seek for ourselves those blessings which they have transmitted to us (Hebrews 2:3, 4). In embracing the Saviour, and giving ourselves up to Him as Abraham did in a life of faith, and as all the patriarchs, and prophets, and apostles did.

2. To make them partakers of the blessings which you yourselves have received. If the apostles were debtors to the Gentiles, much more are we debtors to the Jews. The Gentiles had done nothing for them; the Jews have done everything for us (Romans 11:30-31).Conclusion:

1. Now, suppose there were famine, and every one of you had given to his steward a large sum of money, to supply the wants of the sick and dying, and instead he wasted the money on himself, who would not be filled with indignation? Oh, let conscience speak, and it will show you that you are much bound to strive for the salvation of the Jews, as well as for your own; and if you do not you are a robber.

2. But some, perhaps, may say, the time is not come. Where has God told you that? What have you to do with the times and seasons? Did not the apostles search and seek them out at the peril of their lives?

3. But they won't receive it; they are hardened. Pray, tell me what you yourselves were? And whose fault is it? Ours, who have treated them with such contempt. What would you have been if they had treated you as you have treated them?

4. Do you ask, How shall I do it? In any way you can — by prayer, by sending them instruction, by giving them the Bible.

(C. Simeon, M.A.)

I. THE BENEFITS RECEIVED.

1. Spiritual things.

2. Of infinite value.

3. Of enduring importance.

II. THE PAYMENT REQUIRED.

1. Carnal things.

2. Worthless in comparison, and perishable in their nature.

III. THE DUTY IMPLIED. A duty of —

1. Love.

2. Gratitude.

3. Justice.

IV. THE SPIRIT IN WHICH IT SHOULD BE PERFORMED. With pleasure as the expression of grateful feeling to man and God.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

This comparison between spiritual and carnal things is still more distinctly made in 1 Corinthians 9:11 — where the apostle speaks of the right which he and Barnabas had earned to a maintenance from their hands. In this matter, too, there is great room for the condemnation of professing Christians — because of their gross practical insensibility to the rule of equity here laid down. It is in virtue of this that the instructors even of large and opulent congregations, have often so parsimonious an allowance doled out to them; and if so wretched a proportion of their own carnal be given in return for spiritual things to themselves, we are not to wonder at the still more paltry and inadequate contributions which are made by them for the spiritual things of others. The expense of all missionary schemes and enterprises put together, a mere scantling of the wealth of all Christendom, argues it to be still a day of exceeding small things — a lesson still more forcibly held out to us by the thousands and tens of thousands at our own doors who are perishing for lack of knowledge. There is a carnal as well as a spiritual benevolence. That the carnal benevolence makes some respectable head against the carnal selfishness of our nature, is evinced by the fact that so very few are ever known to die of actual starvation. That the spiritual benevolence falls miserably behind the other, is evinced by the fact of those millions more in our empire, who, purely from want of the churches which ought to be built, and of ministers who ought to be maintained for them, are left to wander all their days beyond the pale of gospel ordinances — and so to live in guilt and die in utter darkness. Verily in such a contemplation it might well be said even of this professing age — Are ye not yet altogether carnal?

(T. Chalmers, D.D.)

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