Romans 15:27
The ties formed by the reception of the gospel exhibited the expulsive power of a new affection to cast out national jealousies and antipathies. Macedonians and Achaians united in solicitude for their destitute fellow-believers in Jerusalem and in an active endeavour to send them relief. Stronger than the bonds of kinship and race were the new feelings of attraction to each other through their relationship to the one Saviour.

I. EVERY BENEFIT RECEIVED LAYS US UNDER AN OBLIGATION TO OUR BENEFACTORS. As stewards of the gospel the saints in Judea had betrayed their trust if guilty silence restrained their lips from communicating to the world the panacea revealed for human ill. But this fact did not set the Greeks free from indebtedness to the Churches which, recognizing their responsibility, had sent to them the message of life. Whatever the reason that has procured us some kindness or favour, gratitude is incumbent upon us. Not to acknowledge it betrays baseness of soul. And the greatest benefits are those pertaining to our spiritual well-being. These are nobler, more satisfying, more lasting than any treasures of gold or marble, any appeasing of temporal hunger or nakedness, or any rescue from earthly distress or danger. The knowledge, the consolation, the stimulus which a missionary, a teacher, or a pastor imparts are of incomparable value. Is it a matter for wonder that, in return for spiritual gifts, men bestow of their carnal things? Those who clamour for a cheap ministry display woeful inappreciation of the riches of Christ. The return which our Lord demands for his own self-sacrifice is that his servants and brethren be honourably treated and succoured. He still regards his poor; hence our collections at the Lord's Supper.

II. To THE RIGHT-MINDED THE DISCHARGE OF SUCH AN OBLIGATION IS A SOURCE OF PLEASURE. Not in order to get rid of any sense of liability; this would be mean, even if possible; but we are glad of an opportunity of visibly certifying our gratitude. The outward expression of any inward feeling is a delight. A generous emotion ministers a pure joy, which ever seeks for ways and means of demonstration. The memory of Christ's gift of himself to us bestirs us to seek out worthy objects, needy souls on whom the mantle of charity may fittingly fall. "He became poor for our sakes/' The disinclination to give liberally melts away under the impulse of Divine love. Men who grudge the demands of the tax-collector will voluntarily, cheerfully contribute to the dissemination of Christian truth.

"The poorest poor
Long for some moments in a weary life
When they can know and feel that they have been
Themselves, the fathers and the dealers out
Of some small blessings; have been kind to such
As needed kindness; for this single cause,
That we have all of us one human heart." That is the office of religion to make the stern face of duty break forth into a smile. The task blossoms into a joy; one kind act prompts to further and larger benevolence.

III. THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF THE REQUITAL MUST BE MEASURED BY OUR RESOURCES AND THE WANTS OF OTHERS. God provides for his family by the mutual interdependence and assistance of the members thereof. Whilst unlimited competition and the survival of the strongest tend to make life's battle of hell, unrestricted helpfulness blesses every heart and laud. The Christian law of supply and demand is designed to correct the injuries and supplement the deficiencies of close-fisted political economy. Power is, rightly understood, a capacity to help, not a weapon of destruction to the weak. The men of leisure can visit the sick and suffering; the rich have ability to relieve the needy; and the cultured may bestow on others the results of their mental diligence. "Such as I have give I you." "It is accepted according to that a man hath." As the world is one great market supplied by every land, so the special distress of one country appeals to all for relief. "We do not well, if this be a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace." - S.R.A.







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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