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Bible Commentaries
Romans 15

Contending for the FaithContending for the Faith

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Verse 1

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

The strong are those who are strong enough in conscience to understand that exercising a liberty is not a sin. They are scrupulous in exercising a liberty, but they are not unnecessarily scrupulous. To be sure, no Christian guided by the word of God is without scruples, but this man understands and accepts his liberties in Christ. In Paul’s examples in chapter fourteen, the strong-conscienced brother recognizes no distinction between clean and unclean meats. He recognizes no distinction between what might have been previously offered to an idol (1 Corinthians 10:25-29). He recognizes one’s freedom as an individual to esteem one day above another. As Lard says, "We (the strong— AWB) are therefore hampered by no scruples in indifferent matters" (431).

ought to bear: "To bear" (basta/zein) is not to be understood in the sense of "bear with" or "put up with" as it is frequently used in modern parlance. Instead, it means "to support as a burden. It is used with the meaning…to bear a burden, whether physically, as of the Cross, John 19:17, or metaphorically in respect of sufferings endured in the cause of Christ…of sufferings borne on behalf of others" (Vine, Vol. 1 100). Other passages owning the same usage are Romans 11:18 and Galatians 5:10; Galatians 6:2; Galatians 6:5.

the infirmities of the weak: "Infirmities" (a)sqenh/mata) refer to "those scruples which arise through weakness of faith. The strong must support the infirmities of the weak… by submitting to self restraint" (Vine, Vol. 2 257). Thus, the strong are to carry the burdens of those with weak consciences by sacrificing their liberties and practicing self-restraint. Lard observes:

One or the other of the parties must yield, the strong to the weak or the weak to the strong. The weak cannot yield without a violation of conscience; the strong can; and God has ordained that in an indifferent case, conscientious scruples shall prevail over the want of them (431).

and not to please ourselves: The strong must do what is good for others. They must not selfishly demand their rights and so destroy "the work of God" (14:20). To the Corinthians, Paul says:

But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend (1 Corinthians 8:9-13; cf. 1 Corinthians 10:24).

Verse 2

Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.

The subject here still revolves around the practice of Christian liberties. In matters of law or commands from God, we must rather follow the rule Paul has given earlier, "…yea, let God be true, but every man a liar" (Romans 3:4). When the will of God is revealed in the word of God, our obligation is to obey God— whether it pleases our neighbor or not. On the other hand, when the issue centers on a matter about which the scriptures do not legislate—either to compel or to restrain a certain action—then those brethren who are strong in conscience are to yield to their Christian neighbors and do that which pleases their weak (unnecessarily scrupulous) consciences. Pendleton observes:

The strong ought to give way to the weak because strength can yield better than weakness, since in so doing it in no way violates conscience and because this forbearance tends to build up the weak and make them strong…The only objection that the strong can urge against yielding to the weak is that to do so involves them in great sacrifice. In answer to this argument

Paul sets forth the example of Christ. How can he that is self- pleasing, and that shrinks from sacrifice make claim to be the disciple and follower of the One whose life was the supreme self-sacrifice of the annals of all time? Had Christ pleased himself hell itself might well shudder at the consequences (532- 533).

Paul himself exhibits the attitude he here prescribes when he worked with brethren of other cultures:

For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

As Paul emphasizes to the Corinthians, the concessions the strong are instructed to make to the weak are designed for their good. They are intended to build them up in the cause of Christ. In chapter fourteen, Paul warns the strong twice not to destroy the work of God by overriding the sensibilities of the brethren whose consciences are weak (14:15, 20). Here, instead of pulling down, they are to build up (edify) the weak by yielding to their unnecessary scruples. Lard believes it is the church that is to be built up rather than the individual who is weak (432). In view of Romans 14:15; Romans 14:20, this view seems to be unlikely, though the actual difference between these two views is insignificant.

Verse 3

For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.

Jesus did not yield to desires of His flesh when brought face to face with the cross (Matthew 26:38-46; John 12:23-28; Philippians 2:4-8; Hebrews 5:7-9). Instead, He submitted himself to God’s will for the benefit of all mankind (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Timothy 2:5-6). When Jesus died on the cross, the incredibly heavy burden of all of our reproaches (insults) and disgrace fell on Him (Psalms 69:9). Rather than pleasing Himself, He paid the penalty for our sins. Is it not a small consideration by comparison that the strong are instructed to bear the infirmities of the weak? Pendleton says, "We must not only be unselfishly fair; we must be self-denyingly generous, if we would be Christlike" (533).

Verse 4

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning: The connection to verse 3 and its citation of Psalms 69:9 affirms the Psalm is applicable to Christians living in the New Testament age. It refers to their relationship with brethren "weak in the faith." It is essential to a correct understanding of the scriptures, however, that students of the word recognize how the Old Testament scriptures are to be used "for our learning." It is an undisputed fact that the Old Testament law was given only to the Jews (Exodus 19:3-5; Deuteronomy 5:1-3). It was always intended by God to be a temporary law. It was to last only until Christ should come (Galatians 3:19; Galatians 3:16). When Jesus gave Himself on the cross as our sin offering, the law of Moses was abolished and the New Covenant was ushered in (6:14; Colossians 2:14-16; Ephesians 2:14-16; 2 Corinthians 3:3-18; Hebrews 7:12; Hebrews 8:6-12; Hebrews 9:9-17; Hebrews 10:9; Matthew 5:17-18), and its rule has always been the law of Christ (3:27; 8:2; 1 Corinthians 9:21). Therefore, for a command, example, or necessary inference to hold authoritative sway over Christians, it must be adduced first from the New Testament. If a doctrine or practice cannot be established by the New Testament, then it cannot be proved to be binding on believers today. Once an article of faith is discovered in the New Testament, however, the Old Testament can be called as a supporting witness.

For example, in the immediate context, Paul alludes to Jesus’ sacrifice as an illustration of the believer’s obligation to "bear the infirmities of the weak." The New Testament teaches that Jesus had to die on the cross for men to be redeemed (5:6-10; Acts 2:22-24; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; 1 Timothy 2:4-6; 1 Peter 2:21-25; et al.). This doctrine being established, the Old Testament comments upon this truth can be taken as authoritative (Luke 24:46-49; Acts 2:25-36). The passage to which Paul refers (Psalms 69) teaches not only that Jesus bore our infirmities but also by illustration that Christians are to emulate Jesus by sacrificing their liberties in order to please their Christian neighbors.

On the other hand, Old Testament passages authorizing the use of instrumental music in the worship by Israel (Psalms 150) cannot be appealed to as authority for the use of instrumental music in the New Testament system of worship. The use of instrumental music in Christian worship, whether public or private, cannot be first documented by New Testament authority. The New Testament authorizes only singing in worship (1 Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; James 5:13).

that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope: Paul often cites passages from God’s word to establish the truth of his message. For Paul, the word of God was the source of all truth; and, in his writing and teaching, the word of God governed him always. Horne documents forty-six citations from the Old Testament in Romans alone (Vol. 2 300– 309). All who teach and preach should be so diligent to support their message from scripture. Peter says, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God…" (1 Peter 4:11).

The careful study of God’s word yields the peaceable fruits of patience and comfort, thus reinforcing and sustaining the Christian’s hope in Christ. Conforming our lives to the truth found in scripture results in patience developed by kindly bearing the infirmities of the weak. Comfort results from the consolation that arises from doing the right thing.

Verses 4-6

Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

Paul begins to draw his discussion of liberties, and their appropriate exercise and restraint, to a close with an appeal to God. While not exactly in the form of a prayer, these words nevertheless express a fervent desire that God will accomplish in the brethren the peace and harmony needed among them so they will be able to glorify God. In this way, Paul unites two powerful incentives to action—exhortation to men and prayer to God. In

his exhortation-prayer, Paul makes five points worthy of consideration:

1. The titles "God of patience and consolation" point back to the terms "patience" and "comfort" in verse 4. Clearly, it is God who is the author and source of these (2 Corinthians 1:3; Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 4:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:20; Romans 15:13). God is characterized by the grace He imparts to us in the life and fellowship of faith.

2. The close relationship between God and the scriptures is vital. In verse 4, patience and comfort derive from the scriptures. In verse 5, they are derived from God. Obviously, God grants the gifts of patience and comfort to His people through His word. The word of God is the agency through which God imparts to us the patience and comfort that are His. As Whiteside observes:

Paul shifts the thought from the scriptures to God the author of the scriptures. Because he is the author of the scriptures, whatever is attributed to the scriptures is rightly attributed to him. Through the word of God, the gospel which is God’s power for salvation, God gives us hope and develops within us steadfastness of character (280).

3. "To be likeminded one toward another" is a plea for the mutual esteem and forbearance that have been the focus of this argument (14:1ff). It is addressed both to the weak in conscience and to the strong in conscience. There is some controversy as to whether the phrase "according to Christ Jesus" means according to Christ’s revealed will or according to His own personal example. There seems to be no reason to choose between the two as the phrase likely is inclusive of both ideas. In the first instance, brethren are to yield to one another in matters of liberty insofar as they can do so in harmony with Christ’s revealed will. In the second instance, the idea is that brethren are to yield to one another in the same way that Jesus did not insist on His own rights but rather took upon Himself our reproaches (15:3; Philippians 2:5). Both concepts are included in each other. What follows Christ’s example must always accord with His will.

4. The distinctive feature of these three verses is the end to which this harmony is directed. The brethren, strong and weak, must unite together with one mind (soul) and one mouth in order to glorify God the Father. Murray says:

The terms "with one accord…with one mouth" (cf Acts 1:14; Acts 2:46) express the unity with which inwardly and outwardly the glorifying of God is to take place. To glorify God is to exhibit his praise and honor. In the background lurks the thought of the prejudice incurred for the final end to be promoted by the church when the fellowship of the saints is marred by suspicions and dissensions and in this case particularly by the arrogance of the strong and the stumblings of the weak. No consideration could enforce the exhortation more strongly than to be reminded of the glory of God as the controlling purpose of all our attitudes and actions (Vol. 2 201).

5. Consequently, we should receive one another as Christ also received us. Christians are to accept one another, even though we all come from different backgrounds, cultures, and races and even though we have many varied interests. Christ has received every person who obeys the gospel no matter who he is, where he comes from, or what he practices in his culture. The guiding light to the Christian here is expressed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. As Whiteside notes:

Though Jewish converts were slow to give up their customs, they wanted Gentile Christians to adopt their customs. This caused friction. Such confusion was a great hindrance to unity and Christian growth. To be of the same mind one toward the other meant that no one was to feel that he had superior rights over another; neither Jew nor Gentile should feel any superiority over the other…The religion of Christ is designed to make peace between Jew and Gentile…. Let no one destroy God’s purpose in this matter (280-281).

The ultimate reason for which Christ has received us is the glorification of God, and so should we receive one another.

Verses 8-12

Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. 11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.

In this passage Paul adds to his foregoing argument by stressing the obligation of believers to support and maintain the harmony and fellowship enjoined in the preceding verses (14:1-15:7). He does this by dramatically underlining the fact that Jesus came here to minister to and receive all men who would come to Him without distinction of race. He came to receive Jews and Gentiles—"whosoever" will. Murray says:

We are here introduced to a distinction not overtly mentioned in this section of the epistle, that between Jews and Gentiles. We may not infer from this that the weak were Jews and the strong Gentiles. The respective parties may well have been drawn from both racial groups. But this reference to Jews and Gentiles does suggest…that the exhortation to mutual acceptance had in view the need to overcome all racial prejudice and discrimination in the communion of the saints at Rome (Vol. 2 204).

First, Christ came as a minister to the Jews to confirm—that is, to establish and bring to realization—the truthfulness of God relative to the promises He had made to the fathers of the Jewish race. As Lard notes, two considerations demanded the maintenance of God’s promises: the character of God and the salvation of men (434). The fathers referred to (verse 8) were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the promises were those found in the book of Genesis (l2:1-3; 13:14-17; 15:1-18; 17:1-21; 22:15-18; 26:3, 4; 28:13, 14). According to these, Jesus, the seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16; Galatians 3:19), would bless all nations. When Jesus died on the cross, He secured the salvation of the Jews who would believe and obey the gospel (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38).

Thus, Jesus was a minister to the circumcision, meaning He accepted them through the gospel. Paul’s message is, therefore, that the Gentiles, weak and strong, should accept the Jews, weak and strong, just as Jesus does.

Second, Jesus also came as a minister to the Gentiles, for they, too, are intended to be recipients of the blessings of the promises. For this reason, the Gentiles who are saved by their obedience to the gospel also have reason to glorify God for His abundant mercy. Jesus accepts these as readily and as fully as He did the Jews who believed (Acts 10:34-48; Acts 11:1-18; Acts 16:31-33; Acts 18:8 et al.). In like manner, the Jews must accept their Gentile brothers openly and heartily, for the injunction is to "receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God" (verse 7).

Paul calls to witness no fewer than four Old Testament passages, establishing beyond all doubt the truth that required mutual acceptance of one another by both Jews and Gentiles. The first passage cited (verse 9b) is taken from Psalms 18:49 (or 2 Samuel 22:50). In this passage David looks forward to the time when he discovers himself among the Gentiles, confessing together with them and singing with them. He pre-shadows the time when Jew and Gentile would receive one another. They would in that day be so united as to confess the same God and sing the same songs. Again, the apostle’s point is emphasized—"receive ye one another as Christ also received us."

The second passage cited (verse 10) is from Deuteronomy 32:43. As Lard observes:

In the former citation, David represents himself as singing to God among the Gentiles; here the Gentiles are represented as being glad among the Jews. The design of both passages is the same, to establish mutual acceptance (435).

In verse 11, the citation is from Psalms 117:1. The point is again the same: Christ is the Messiah of all men everywhere who will accept the grace offered in the gospel by obedience in baptism for the remission of sins. Once more: Christ has accepted openly all men; must we not accept one another?

Finally, in verse 12, the citation is taken from Isaiah 11:10. The root of Jesse (that is, Jesus) shall rise to reign as king over the nations—both Jew and Gentile—and in Jesus shall the nations place their trust—their trust for redemption.

Paul has added scripture upon scripture here in order to prove with overwhelming force that in matters of liberty, God is the God of both the Jews and the Gentiles. He has received both; He does not want Christians, whether Jew or Gentile, whether weak or strong, disputing about doubtful matters. In such things God wants all of His people to receive one another. Lard concludes:

Thus, five verses have now been devoted to the confirmation of v. 7…From his amplification of proof we must conclude that he regards the point before him as of great importance. The point is, that we must accept one another. Judging and despising on account of meats are to be at an end. The more lovely course of accepting and holding one another in fraternal affection must take their place (436).

Verse 13

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Now the God of hope: As he did in verse 5, Paul combines prayer to God with exhortation to his readers. The title, "God of hope," should be considered with verse 5 where He is designated the "God of patience" and verse 33 where He is called the "God of peace" (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:20). God is called the "God of hope" because He generates hope in us by sending His Son to die for us and giving us the spiritual blessings brought by His shed blood. He is also the object of our hope. To the people of God, because He is their portion and their dwelling place (Psalms 73:24-26; Psalms 90:1; Ephesians 3:19; Revelation 21:3), God Himself is their ultimate hope.

fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope: It is the hope generated in us by God through the gospel that Paul here invokes. For it is only the hope created by God that gives believers warrant for joy and peace. When believers in Christ have the hope of salvation through their obedience to the gospel and continuance therein, joy and peace shall fill their hearts to overflowing (1 Peter 1:3-9; Philippians 4:4-9). The joy of which Paul speaks is joy in the Lord (Galatians 5:22; 1 John 1:4). And the peace is the peace of God (Philippians 4:7). Murray concludes:

As joy and peace are conditioned by hope, so they are produced by faith and they promote hope. The fullness of joy and peace invoked is to the end that hope may abound more and more in the hearts of those who entertain it. The graces in exercise in believers never reach the point of fullness to which no more can be added. Joy and peace emanate from hope and they contribute to the abounding of the same (Vol. 2 207).

through the power of the Holy Ghost: The object of the believer’s hope—an eternal home in heaven—reaches far beyond the limits of mere human ability and merit. The distance between what believers are now and what they will be when they have achieved their hope is almost impossible to measure (1 John 3:2). Hope in attaining a home in heaven would be the highest order of presumption unless it is generated and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Thus, we perceive the significance of Paul’s concluding phrase, "through the power of the Holy Ghost."

The question is: How does the Holy Spirit generate our hope, and how does He seal it? The answer is that the Holy Spirit has spoken to all men through the agency of the apostles and the men upon whom the apostles laid their hands in order to give them divine inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Ephesians 3:2-6; Acts 8:14-18; 1 Corinthians 2:8-13). In so speaking, He has revealed all any man will ever know about God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the plan of salvation. Furthermore, He has sealed (guaranteed) the truth of His revelation by confirming the word preached by inspired men with signs and wonders and miracles (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:2-4). The words He inspired and confirmed are the source of all knowledge, joy, peace, and hope. Murray observes:

The prayer begins and ends with the accent upon divine agency and resource. Within this sphere alone can the grandeur of hope be contemplated and within it hope has the certification which the earnest of the Spirit accords to it (Vol. 2 207).

Paul’s Reason for Writing So Boldly and Concluding Remarks

With verse 13 of this chapter, Paul has brought to an end the main theological sections of his epistle. The remainder of the chapter is similar in style to his thoughts expressed in Romans 1:8-17. The central theme surrounds his interests in visiting the brethren at Rome and his current plans for achieving his dream if it concurs with God’s permissive will.

The remainder of Paul’s epistle to the Romans breaks into seven closing sections:

1. In verses 14-21, Paul commends the brethren for their spiritual maturity and explains he has written to them in such a bold manner because of two things: (1) his confidence in their maturity and receptivity and (2) in exercise of his functions as the apostle to the Gentiles.

2. In verses 22-29, he explains why he has not been able to come to them sooner but that now he thinks he sees his way clear to come by Rome on his way to Spain where he intends to spread the gospel in the regions beyond. First, however, he must go to Jerusalem to deliver the great gift for the poor saints that he has gathered up over the past year or so.

3. In verses 30-33, he pleads with the brethren to pray for him as he prepares to go to Jerusalem.

4. In Romans 16:1-16, he sends greetings to a great number of fellow Christians in the church in Rome.

5. In Romans 16:17-20, he issues one final doctrinal instruction about the discipline of divisive brethren who cause others to stumble.

6. In Romans 16:21-24, he sends greetings to the Romans from those with him.

7. Then, in Romans 16:25-27, he closes with a final doxology to the glory and wisdom of God.

Verse 14

And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

As Paul opens the concluding section of this epistle, we are convinced of his consummate diplomacy in his appraisal of the church in Rome. Others have spoken to him about the maturity of these congregations, and he has been persuaded of their mature commitment to the way of Christ. In referring to them as "my brethren," he identifies himself as one with them in the bond of fellowship. In his opening remarks in chapter one, he commends them for their faith that "is spoken of throughout the whole world" (1:8). As he begins to wind down his letter, he commends them again. They are "full of goodness" and "filled with all knowledge," indicating their maturity. "Goodness" is that quality of character that is opposed to all that is mean and evil and includes what is upright, kind, generous, and beneficent. Furthermore, they possessed a correct and detailed understanding of the Christian system. In addition, these brethren had so mastered the faith that they were able to teach and admonish one another about right living according to God’s will. As Paul transitions to his final remarks of greeting, encouragement, explanation, and final doxology, these words also lean backward in a reference to the problems just addressed between brethren whose consciences are strong and those whose consciences are weak (14:1-15:13). The problems between the strong and the weak are not hypothetical ones, and these two commendations fit exactly the solution Paul has legislated. Goodness is the virtue that would constrain the strong to refrain from what would injure those whose consciences are weak. Knowledge is the medicine needed to cure weakness of conscience. This connection, however, must not be overplayed. Paul’s commendation is sincere and genuine. These congregations are "full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another."

The key for today’s congregational leaders and brotherhood preachers seeking to impart the knowledge of God’s word to His people is that an accomplished and persuasive instructor must recognize the virtues and maturity of brethren as well as their faults. Whiteside wisely observes:

Paul’s words of commendation would be encouraging to these brethren. Paul never flattered, but he did commend brethren when he had grounds for doing so. A preacher who scolds and criticizes all the time never brings out the best that is in men (284).

Verse 15

Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God,

Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort: Even though Paul recognizes the ability of the brethren at Rome to admonish one another, he is compelled to write these things to them, confident they would properly evaluate them as the words "which the Holy Ghost teacheth" (1 Corinthians 2:13). He points out that he has approached them "the more boldly," not to be understood as more than boldly but instead as somewhat boldly. He further qualifies this point by the phrase "in some sort," or "in some measure" (ASV), or "on some points" (NASB, NIV). Pendleton says:

I have not carefully weighed my words as a stranger should, but have used some measure of boldness because it was my duty to so speak as your apostle commissioned by God’s grace (537).

as putting you in mind: The teaching Paul gives here is not new to these brethren. His reason for being direct in his approach on some points is to call to their memory what they have already been taught (2 Peter 1:12-13; 2 Peter 3:1).

because of the grace that is given to me of God: Paul’s main apology for writing the Romans as he did is he is exercising his apostolic office. Otherwise he would not have dared to write in such a manner. This humility is characteristic of Paul and is what made him the consummate diplomat and teacher he was. His writing, he says, is pursuant to his divine commission (compare 1:5; 12:3; Galatians 2:9; Ephesians 3:7-11; 1 Corinthians 9:16). Paul has written to them the more boldly to call these things to their remembrance because it is his responsibility as an apostle upon whom God’s grace has bestowed the gift of revelation.

Verse 16

That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles: The grace of apostleship enabled Paul to serve as the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles (Acts 26:16-18; Acts 22:14-15; Acts 22:21; Acts 9:15-16; Galatians 1:15-16; Galatians 2:9). The word translated "minister" (leitourgon) is not the ordinary word used to designate a minister or servant (diavkonos). According to Vine:

Leitourgos…denoted among the Greeks, firstly, one who discharged a public office at his own expense, then, in general, a public servant, minister. In the N.T. it is used (a) of Christ, as a "Minister of the Sanctuary" (in the heavens), Hebrews 8:2; (b) of angels, Hebrews 1:7 (Psalms 104:4); (c) of the Apostle Paul, in his evangelical ministry, fulfilling it as a serving-priest, Romans 15:16; that he used it figuratively and not in an ecclesiastical sense is obvious from the context…Speaking broadly, diakonos views a servant in relation to his work; doulos, in relation to his master; huperetes, in relation to his superior; leitourgos, in relation to public service (Vol. III 72).

The concept of public service still colored the meaning of this term even in Paul’s day. Trench attests that fact:

To serve Him in special offices and ministries can be the duty and privilege of only some, who are specially set apart to the same; and thus in the O.T. the leitourgei=n and the leitourgiva are ascribed only to the priests and Levites who were separated to minister in holy things; they only are leitourgoiv (Numbers 4:24; 1 Samuel 2:11; Nehem. 10:39; Ezekiel 44:27) ; which language reappears in the New,…of apostles, prophets, and teachers in the church (Acts 13:2; Romans 15:16; Philippians 2:17) (119-120).

The term "minister" is equivalent to Paul’s work as an apostle and is also a term often connected with the sacredness of worship (Luke 1:23; Acts 13:2; Romans 15:27; 2 Corinthians 9:10; Philippians 2:17; Hebrews 1:7; Hebrews 8:2; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:21; Hebrews 10:11). This fact becomes important as Paul explains the nature of his ministry.

ministering the gospel of God: "Ministering" (i(erourgou=nta) is used only here in the New Testament. Vine says it means:

To minister in priestly service…is used by Paul metaphorically of his ministry of the gospel…the offering connected with his priestly ministry is "the offering up of the Gentiles," i.e., the presentation by Gentile converts of themselves to God (Vol. 3 74).

Even though Paul uses this term, borrowed from the temple service, he is not claiming for himself or any other Christian any position of a special priest such as the Levitical priesthood served in the Old Testament. He uses this term simply to designate himself a minister and to describe his function as an apostle. Probably Paul uses this term to coincide with his next phrase in which he describes the Gentiles to whom he ministers as an apostle as a sacrifice offered to God.

that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable: Paul may have derived this concept of the Gentiles’ conversion as an offering or sacrifice to God from Isaiah who expresses a similar idea: "And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord, out of all nations…" (Isaiah 66:20). Thus, the offering Paul sends up to God as the apostle to the Gentiles consists of those Gentiles converted to the faith of the gospel. These are presented holy to God as a living sacrifice. Pendleton says:

Compare this metaphor to that used by Isaiah in describing the final gathering of Israel (Isaiah 66:19-20). At Romans 12:1 the apostle began by exhorting members of the Roman church to offer themselves as living sacrifices. He then proceeded to elaborate the things wherein self-sacrifice was demanded of them. Now in this verse before us he presents himself as a priest presiding officially over their sacrifice and presenting it to God, which was, figuratively speaking, his duty as apostle to the Gentiles (538).

being sanctified by the Holy Ghost: These Gentile converts are set aside, separated, or marked out as holy ones by the Holy Ghost. The question is: How did the Holy Spirit set apart as holy these Gentile converts? The answer is found in two parts. First, the Holy Spirit set them aside as holy (sanctified) through the preaching of the gospel of God, as Paul ministered to them in his role as their apostle. The words he spoke were the words the Holy Ghost taught him to speak (1 Corinthians 2:13). This is in exact accord with Jesus’ own words in His prayer to God: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17). Paul expresses this idea also to the Ephesians:

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Second, the Holy Spirit sanctifies men by confirming the word preached by miracles, signs, and wonders, thereby proving its divine origin (see especially 15:18-19).

Paul uses this same argument in the Jerusalem discussion over whether or not the Gentile converts are required to keep the law of Moses (Acts 15:12). This sanctification of the Gentiles by inspired words and confirming miracles (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3-4) provides the proof that the Gentiles were made "acceptable." Murray concludes:

The apostle thinks of his function in the priestly action as ministering that gospel which is efficacious through the grace of the Holy Spirit. Thus the Gentiles become an offering acceptable to God. This is his apology for the boldness he exercised in putting his readers in remembrance. He has said enough to vindicate the epistle and to remove any accusation which his severity might provoke (Vol. 2 211).

Verse 17

I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God.

The word "therefore" announces a conclusion to be drawn from what has previously been stated. Charles Hodge paraphrases:

Seeing I have received this office of God, and am appointed a minister of the gospel to the Gentiles, I have ground of confidence and rejoicing (336).

In verses 17-19, Paul demonstrates that his assertion in verses 15 and 16 of his divine appointment as an apostle of Christ is well founded, for God has crowned his labors with abundant success and sealed his ministry with signs and wonders. Consequently, as the minister of Christ, his bold exhortations and admonitions are justified. His ground of authority rests in the approval God revealed by confirming Paul’s work among the Gentiles by miraculous power. In fact, so sure is Paul of his ground that he is enabled to boast in his work. He is quick to acknowledge, however, that his boasting is not in himself or even in what he has done. Rather his boasting is in Jesus in those things pertaining to the gospel and the kingdom of God. Whiteside concurs, saying, "His ministering the gospel in making Gentile converts as his offering to God was the work in which he gloried" (286).

That Paul, in this verse, has in mind the glorious triumphs of the gospel wrought through his instrumentality is made clear by verse 18 (2 Corinthians 2:14).

Verse 18

For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed,

Paul has no need to speak of what he has done but only what Christ has accomplished through him. Furthermore, he has no need to speak of what others have done but only what has been accomplished through his own instrumentality.

It is important to note that Paul ascribes no credit to himself in his boasting, but he ascribes his success to Jesus working through him. The phrase "by word and deed" seems to refer to the words of Paul, whether written or spoken, and his deeds of miraculous power. It is by inspiration (1 Corinthians 2:6-13; Ephesians 3:2-6; 2 Timothy 3:16-17) that Paul preaches and writes the gospel to the Gentiles, and it is by his miraculous power as an apostle that he is able to confirm the word he preaches (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:1-4). These are the twin gifts by which Paul is able to offer up the Gentiles who obeyed as an acceptable offering to God. This passage describes how the Holy Spirit sanctified those Gentiles who were made acceptable by their obedience to the gospel.

Finally, it is important to notice that those Gentiles offered up to God are those who were obedient to the gospel (Romans 1:5; Romans 16:25-26; Romans 4:11; Romans 6:3-4; Romans 6:17-18; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15; Hebrews 5:8-9). There is no joy to be found here among those who deny all human agency in salvation. To the contrary, once the grace of God is extended as far as the preaching of the gospel, it can proceed no further until men choose of their own free will to obey what has been preached. This conclusion fits exactly what the Lord said to Paul when He commissioned him:

But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom I now send thee, To open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me (Acts 26:16-18).

The phrase "to turn them from darkness to light" is properly rendered "so that they may turn…" (NASB; NIV). The Gentiles were expected to turn themselves from darkness to light once they were shown the way by the preaching of the gospel. Men must believe and obey the gospel to be saved by the grace of God.

Verse 19

Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

This passage is analogous to 1 Corinthians 2:4: "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power."

In the New Testament, the three standard designations for miracles are powers, signs, and wonders. All three are used here, though the word for power is used in construction with the other two rather than a substantive standing on its own as a description of a miracle. These words do not stand for three different sets of events or kinds of miracles. Rather they all stand for the same events but as viewed from different perspectives. Trench explains that the word "wonders" presents the miracle from the standpoint of its extraordinary character, which was to be observed and kept in memory. "It is the miracle regarded as a startling, imposing, amazement-wakening portent or prodigy." He goes on to observe that this word never occurs in the New Testament as a lone descriptive of a miracle because its appeal is simply to the spectacular nature of the miracle, which might easily be construed in a worldly manner. For that reason it always occurs in conjunction with a synonym, viewing the miracle from a higher perspective. Frequently, it is conjoined to the word for "signs," which points to the ethical end and purpose of the miracle.

The miracle is to lead us to something out of and beyond itself; that, so to speak, it is a kind of finger-post of God…pointing for us to see this (Isaiah 7:11; Isaiah 38:7); valuable not so much for what it is, as for what it indicates of the grace and power of the doer, or of his immediate connection with a higher spiritual world (Mark 16:20; Acts 14:3; Hebrews 2:4; Exodus 7:9-10; 1 Kings 13:3).

Miracles are also viewed as pointing to new and higher forces or powers of the world to come which have entered and are working through the men of this world (1 Corinthians 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:10; Hebrews 6:5) (Trench 317-322).

Paul conveys that he did not rely on his own skill or eloquence in order to bring about the conversion of the Gentiles. Instead, he leaned on the Holy Spirit’s inspiration and powerful demonstration to confirm his ministry throughout the wide scope of territory where he preaches. Pendleton gives this paraphrase:

I glory in the manifest powers of the Holy Spirit, both in speech and in miracle, which have been mine by reason of my apostolic office, and which have enabled me to convincingly preach the gospel, not in any limited field, but far and wide in that great curve of the earth which begins at Jerusalem in the east and ends at Illyricum in the west (533).

In this wide range of the empire, Paul "fully preached the gospel of Christ." He has preached thoroughly, founding churches and advancing the Redeemer’s kingdom with such evidence of God’s guidance and cooperation as to leave no doubt that he is God’s divinely appointed minister of the gospel of Christ. The region of Illyricum, even though it is not mentioned in Acts, is no doubt suggested as a general boundary circumscribing Paul’s area of labor. There are several times, however, when he may have specifically gone there (Acts 20:1-2).

Verses 20-21

Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation: But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.

Paul’s ministry is not conducted haphazardly or without forethought. Rather, it is his settled policy to conduct the bulk of his missionary work in areas where Jesus and the gospel have not been accepted. He does not mean he avoids all areas where there is a knowledge of Christ. Rather he means he avoids conducting extended missionary campaigns in areas where there are churches already in existence and believers who have confessed Jesus as the Son of God, Christ, and Lord. Furthermore, he is not saying he never preaches where a congregation exists as a result of the labors of other servant of the Lord, for he visited Jerusalem on several occasions and had borne witness to the gospel there. In fact, he is about to depart for Jerusalem again with an offering for the poor saints even as he writes this letter (verse 25). His point in verse 20 is that his apostolic activity is focused on the founding of churches and the edifying of those churches. It is not directed on building up those churches that are the fruit of other men’s labors (2 Corinthians 3:2-3). Charles Hodge says:

"I have been desirous of not preaching where Christ was known before, but in such a way as to accomplish the prediction that those who had not heard should understand." The motive which influenced him in taking this course was, lest he should build upon another man’s foundation. This may mean either, lest I should appropriate to myself the result of other men’s labors; or, lest I should act the part, not of an apostle (to which I was called), but of a simple pastor (337-338).

In verse 21, Paul draws confirmation of his policy from the prophet Isaiah and cites Isaiah 52:15. The context in Isaiah is a discussion of the worldwide effects of the Messiah’s sacrifice. The appropriateness of this passage to support Paul’s policy is evident. Paul conceives of his work as the minister of Christ as the pursuance of the conduct called for by this prophecy; therefore, his efforts have not only been in accord with God’s design but also they have been specifically demanded by this scripture.

Verses 22-24

For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you. But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you; Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company.

In verse 22, Paul repeats what he said in Romans 1:13. He has long intended to visit the church at Rome but has been hindered from doing so by the requirements of his apostolic labors in the regions from Jerusalem in the southeast to Illyricum in the northwest and areas in between. Now, however, he sees an opportunity to visit Rome soon. Christ has been preached throughout the regions in which Paul has labored; and consequently, he is free to cast his missionary eye on the distant horizon of Spain. In keeping with the general policy of not preaching in those areas where Christ was already named, he states his plan to come by Rome for a visit on his way to the regions beyond (2 Corinthians 10:16).

When he comes by Rome on his way to Spain, however, Paul does not intend to stay for long. In chapter one, he indicates his desire to impart spiritual gifts to the church at Rome as a part of his apostolic function. The fact that he will be only "somewhat filled" with their company does not mean he will not enjoy visiting them but rather that his visit will be a passing one.

Furthermore, Paul cautiously expresses his hope that the church at Rome will send him on his way toward Spain. He hopes they will provide for his needs on the journey—the goods and/or money he might require (Acts 15:3; 1 Corinthians 16:6; 2 Corinthians 1:16). Actually Paul hopes to establish Rome as a new base for his operations as an apostle.

Whether or not Paul was ever able to complete his trip to Spain is a matter of doubt. There is no historical record of his having done so, and there is no New Testament record of such a trip. Among ecclesiastical writers, there seems to be an assumption of his having done so (Hodge 338); however, only Clement of Rome actually seems to allude to the journey in his writings, and J. B. Lightfoot interprets Clement as confirming that Paul did make the trip (Part I, Vol. 2 30). Clement’s account, however, is open to some question (Murray, Vol. 2 217). Conybeare and Howson believe that Paul did reach Spain (746–747). Conversely, Frank Goodwin in A Harmony of the Life of St. Paul does not believe he went to Spain and gives a lengthy explanation (215–220).

In any case, Paul’s immediate plans are forestalled by his arrest in Jerusalem, his long imprisonment at Caesarea, and his journey and imprisonment in Rome (Acts 20-28). It is possible that after his release from Rome and after he revisits Colosse, Ephesus, and Philippi (Philippians 2:24; Philemon 1:22; 1 Timothy 3:14-15), he accomplishes his desire to preach in Spain. Likely this trip would have occurred in the interim after the writing of 1 Timothy and Titus but before the last imprisonment and writing of 2 Timothy. Nevertheless, the answer to this question is in the end purely one of conjecture.

Verses 25-27

But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.

As much as he longs to visit the brethren at Rome, duty calls him to Jerusalem first. It may appear at first glance to have been more important that Paul continue his labors as an apostle to preach Christ in the "regions beyond" than to interrupt his work to return to Jerusalem with an offering for the poor saints. To so judge, however, is to miss the importance of this gift. Few issues in the early days of the church caused greater upheaval than the efforts made to "break down the middle wall of partition" and receive the Gentiles into the fellowship (Acts 11:1-18; Acts 15:1-30; Acts 21:17 to Acts 22:23; Galatians 1:1-21). One of the practical methods conceived by Paul in order to effect this unity was the collection of funds from Gentile Christians for distribution among poor and needy Jewish Christians.

Such a gift is sent to Jerusalem on at least two occasions (Acts 11:29-30; Romans 15:25-27). Paul’s intent is twofold: (1) to relieve the needs of the poor brethren in Jerusalem, and (2) to cause the Jewish brethren to think more kindly of their Gentile fellows in Christ. Much is made of this project in the scriptures, indicating the magnitude of its importance (1 Corinthians 16:1-3; 2 Corinthians 8:1-24; 2 Corinthians 9:1-15; Acts 19:21; Acts 24:17). According to 2 Corinthians 9:12-15, we know this gift successfully served its purposes. Considering from how many places the gift is gathered (including churches in Macedonia, Achaia, Galatia, and probably others) and that the project requires more than a year, it is likely that it amounted to a large sum of money. In addition, the elaborate preparations for carrying the gift up to Jerusalem also suggest a large amount of money (2 Corinthians 8:16-24).

Paul is careful to emphasize the voluntary nature of this gift ("it hath pleased them verily"), even though he acknowledges it is only reasonable that the Gentiles who have profited spiritually by receiving the plan of salvation from the Jews should minister to their Jewish brethren who are in need physically ("carnal") because of their poverty.

Murray makes this observation relative to Paul’s goal of softening the enmity between Jews and Gentiles:

The word "contribution" is the same as that rendered in other cases by the term "fellowship." It has been suggested that "make a certain contribution" should be translated "establish a certain fellowship," in accord with the more usual meaning of the word in question. There does appear, however, to be warrant for the meaning "contribution." So the translation in the version may be retained. But it is difficult to suppress the notion of fellowship as flowing over into the thought of contribution in this instance. It was the bond of fellowship existing between the saints that constrained the offering and it was calculated to promote and cement that fellowship (Vol. 2 218).

Verse 28

When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.

Paul’s intention then is to take the contribution from the Gentile churches to the poor saints in Jerusalem and then embark on his journey to Spain via the church at Rome. To "seal to them this fruit" means to secure it to them, to deliver it safely and consign it over to the leaders there. Lard says:

Sphragizo literally means to seal and when followed by a Dative of object, as here, to seal to, that is to deliver to any one as securely as if under seal (447).

The contribution itself he calls "this fruit." It is the fruit of the faith and love of the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. It is a token of the fellowship existing between them and the Jerusalem Christians. In view of verse 27, Paul may mean this contribution should be regarded as the fruit accruing from the "spiritual things" that have come to these Gentiles from Jerusalem. Murray observes:

The gospel came from the Jews and went into all the world. An example of the fruit borne in distant climes is now being brought back to Jerusalem in the supply of the wants of the poor saints there, an indication of the close relation between "spiritual" and material things (Vol. 2 220).

Verse 29

And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.

Paul has great confidence in these brethren at Rome. It is his firm conviction that they would receive him so readily that he would be able to impart to them rich blessings of instruction in the gospel of Christ and the fullness of all other spiritual blessings. No doubt his desire to impart spiritual gifts to them (1:11) is at least a part of what is in Paul’s mind here. On this matter Paul speaks with certainty. He knows he has been prevented from going to Rome before (1:10) and might be again (15:32-33). He recognizes God is sovereign in these things, and he cannot with certainty predict God’s will in such matters (Acts 20:22-24). But his designs are fixed, and he has every expectation that he will this time reach Rome. The certitude with which he speaks pertains to the fullness of blessing with which he would come if God so willed (verse 32). He is convinced his presence in Rome will be accompanied with the fullness of Christ’s blessing.

Verses 30-33

Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; 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; That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

It is characteristic of Paul to solicit the prayers of his brethren (2 Corinthians 1:11; Philippians 1:19; Colossians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1). In his earnest request, Paul’s submissive spirit and dependence upon God are evident. It ill behooves believers in Christ Jesus to think of themselves as self-sufficient and above the need to pray as well as to solicit the prayers of their fellows (Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6).

for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit: Paul pleads with the brethren for their prayers for him "by" or "through" the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, he appeals to them on the basis of the relationship he has with them through Jesus. Both he and they had been brought nigh unto God through the sacrifice, mediation, intercession, and reign of Jesus. By virtue of this relationship, he implores them to pray for him. Not only so, but also he asks for the love of the Holy Spirit— which is that love of which the Spirit is the author and by which He binds the hearts of Christians together. He motivates the Christians at Rome to pray for him not only because of their love of Christ but also because of their love for him as their fellow in Christ.

that ye strive together with me: Sunagwni/sasqai (strive together) means "to combat in company with anyone; to exert one’s strength with, to be earnest in aiding" (AGLP 388). This word describes the "wrestling" involved in deep and earnest prayer. To be effective, the prayer must be persistent and genuine. The battle is that waged against the world, the flesh, and the Devil. All the forces of evil attempt to lull the believer into depending on his own strength and ingenuity to overcome his problems. Believers, therefore, must struggle against such temptations and rigorously devote themselves in prayer to God whether on behalf of themselves or their brethren. The solemnity with which Paul urges this request upon the Roman Christians, the high motives he calls upon to move them, and the intensity of his language show how profoundly he needs their assistance and how deeply fearful he is about his coming journey.

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; That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed: Paul’s appeal for their prayers contains four requests:

1. He wants them to pray for his deliverance from the unbelievers at Jerusalem. He knows many in Jerusalem not only have rejected the gospel but also actively hate him because of his defection from their ranks and hugely successful ministry among the Gentiles. The book of Acts attests Paul’s fears are not groundless (Acts 20:22-23; Acts 21:11; Acts 21:27-36; Acts 22:22-24; Acts 23:1-3; Acts 23:10-35; Acts 24:1-21). Although he could honestly protest that he does not hold his life dear to himself (Acts 20:24) and that he is "ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 21:13), still he does not seek to be martyred; however, he has no intention of compromising the gospel to save his life (Matthew 16:25; John 12:25). He has further interests in preaching the gospel in the "regions beyond" and fervently hopes to be allowed by God to accomplish his desire. Besides all of that, it would have been contrary to the principles of Christ for him to resign himself fatalistically to the ungodly designs of unbelievers. Therefore, he earnestly seeks the brethren to pray for him and his deliverance from these wicked men. We cannot but note that God answers these prayers (Acts 21:31-33; Acts 22:22-29; Acts 23:10-35; Acts 24:22-23; Acts 25:1-12; Acts 26:31-32). Although they may not have been answered in the manner Paul desires or expects, they are answered; and he is delivered from their wicked hands and sent to Rome.

2. Paul also asks them to pray that the gift for the poor saints might be accepted by the Jewish Christians at Jerusalem. Paul is worried that those believing Jews who are at best prejudiced against his ministry among the Gentiles and at worst hate him for it (Acts 21:20-21) might not be touched enough at the generosity of their Gentile brethren to accept their gift. If they prove so audacious as to reject the help in the face of their poverty, what a violation of fellowship that would be! What a tragedy for the cause of Christ if that fruit of the gospel—which had gone forth from Jerusalem—should be rejected. This gift is the fruit of faith and love, the token of the bond of fellowship between believers, the bond of trust between Jewish and Gentile Christians, sent to relieve the needs of the poor saints. If rejected, the rent in the garment binding the church together might be more than could be repaired. The repercussions would be unimaginable. This possibility, the great apostle dreads, and it causes him to plead for the prayers of his brethren. Fortunately, this prayer to God seems to have been answered positively (Acts 21:17-20).

3. Paul also asks them to pray for his permission to journey safely to them in Rome. When he mentions that his trip be "by the will of God," he refers to God’s permissive will. He hopes at last to be able to journey to Rome by the permission and power of God. This request also is granted and with much time to rest along the way and even after his arrival. Again, the method of his journey to Rome as a citizen- prisoner on appeal to Caesar may not at all have been what Paul expects, but it clearly fulfills the request of his earnest prayers.

4. Finally, he asks them to petition God that he might be refreshed by the brethren in Rome. This prayer, too, seems to have been granted (Acts 28:15; Acts 28:30-31).

Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen: Frequently, in his invocations of blessing Paul refers to God as the "God of peace" or as the source of peace (1:7; 15:13; 16:20; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Philippians 4:7; Philippians 4:9; Colossians 1:2; Colossians 3:15; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 3:16; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 1:3). God is the God of peace because He is the source of peace (15:5, 13). The scriptures place great emphasis on establishing peace with God (5:1; 16:20; Ephesians 2:14-15; Ephesians 2:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:20). Such peace is discovered when one submits in obedience to the gospel and commits his life to the service of God. As a result of establishing such peace by responding to God’s gracious gospel call, the Christian is blessed with a peace of mind and heart that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7; Colossians 3:15). The believer has peace of heart and mind because he has been forgiven of his sins and reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

Lard says this benediction is:

The sum of all prayers and the embodiment of all good wishes. Even the fertile brain of Paul could not ask for more, and the church in Rome had no capacity for anything else. The "God of peace" is the God who wills peace among his people, and who sets his face against all who disturb it. The song of angels over the birth of Christ was "peace on earth"; and the benediction for the church in Rome is "the God of peace be with you" (449).

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on Romans 15". "Contending for the Faith". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ctf/romans-15.html. 1993-2022.
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