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Bible Commentaries
Romans 15

The Expositor's Greek TestamentExpositor's Greek Testament

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Verse 1

Romans 15:1 . ὀφείλομεν δὲ : what constitutes the obligation is seen in chap. 14. It arises out of our relation to others in Christ. Looking at them in the light of what He has done for them as well as for us, and in the light of our responsibility to the Judge of all, we cannot question that this is our duty, ἡμεῖς οἱ δυνατοὶ : Paul classes himself with the strong, and makes the obligation his own. δυνατοὶ is of course used as in chap. 14: not as in 1 Corinthians 1:26 . τὰ ἀσθενήματα τῶν ἀδυνάτων : the things in which their infirmity comes out, its manifestations: here only in N.T. Paul says “bear” their infirmities: because the restrictions and limitations laid by this charity on the liberty of the strong are a burden to them. For the word βαστάζειν and the idea see Matthew 8:17 , Galatians 6:2 ; Galatians 6:5 ; Galatians 6:17 . μὴ ἑαυτοῖς ἀρέσκειν : it is very easy for self-pleasing and mere wilfulness to shelter themselves under the disguise of Christian principle . But there is only one Christian principle which has no qualification love.

Verses 1-13

Romans 15:1-13 . The fourteenth chapter has a certain completeness in itself, and we can understand that if the Epistle to the Romans was sent as a circular letter to different churches, some copies of it might have ended with Romans 14:23 : to which the doxology, Romans 16:25-27 , might be loosely appended, as it is in A. L. and many other MSS. But it is manifestly the same subject which is continued in Romans 15:1-13 . The Apostle still treats of the relations of the weak and the strong, though with a less precise reference to the problems of the Roman Church at the time than in chap. 14. His argument widens into a plea for patience and forbearance (enforced by the example of Christ) and for the union of all Christians, Jew and Gentile, in common praise. It seems natural to infer from this that the distinction between weak and strong had some relation to that between Jew and Gentile; the prejudices and scruples of the weak were probably of Jewish origin.

Verse 2

Romans 15:2 . τῷ πλησίον ἀρεσκέτω : this rule is qualified by εἰς τὸ ἀγαθὸν πρὸς οἰκοδομήν . Without such qualification it is “men-pleasing” (Galatians 1:10 ) and inconsistent with fidelity to Christ. Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:33 , where Paul presents himself as an example of the conduct he here commends. For εἰς and πρὸς in this verse cf. chap. Romans 3:25 f. According to Gifford εἰς marks the “aim” the advantage or benefit of our neighbour and πρὸς the standard of reference; the only “good” for a Christian is to be “built up” in his Christian character.

Verse 3

Romans 15:3 . καὶ γὰρ ὁ Χριστὸς κ . τ . λ . The duty of not pleasing ourselves is enforced by the example of Christ: He did not please Himself either. If this required proof, we might have expected Paul to prove it by adducing some incident in Christ’s life; but this is not what he does. He appeals to a psalm, which is in many places in the N.T. treated as having some reference to Christ ( e.g. , John 2:17 = Psalms 69:9 , John 15:25 = Psalms 69:4 , Matthew 27:27-30 = Psalms 69:12 , Matthew 27:34 = Psalms 69:21 , Romans 11:9 = Psalms 69:22 , Acts 1:20 = Psalms 69:25 : see Perowne, The Psalms , i., p. 561 f.); and the words he quotes from it words spoken as it were by Christ Himself describe our Lord’s experiences in a way which shows that He was no self-pleaser. If He had been, He would never have given Himself up willingly, as He did, to such a fate. It is hardly conceivable that σε in Paul’s quotation indicates the man whom Christ is supposed to address: it can quite well be God, as in the psalm. Some have argued from this indirect proof of Christ’s character that Paul had no acquaintance with the facts of His life; but the inference is unsound. It would condemn all the N.T. writers of the same ignorance, for they never appeal to incidents in Christ’s life; and this summary of the whole character of Christ, possessing as it did for Paul and his readers the authority of inspiration, was more impressive than any isolated example of non-selfpleasing could have been.

Verse 4

Romans 15:4 . Here Paul justifies his use of the O.T. ὅσα γὰρ προεγράφη = the whole O.T. εἰς τὴν ἡμετέραν διδασκαλίαν ἐγράφη : was written to teach us, and therefore has abiding value. 2 Timothy 3:16 . ἵνα introduces God’s purpose, which is wider than the immediate purpose of the Apostle. Paul meant to speak only of bearing the infirmities of the weak, but with the quotation of Psalms 69:9 there came in the idea of the Christian’s sufferings generally, and it is amid them that God’s purpose is to be fulfilled. διὰ τῆς ὑπομ . κ . τῆς παρακλ . τῶν γραφῶν κ . τ . λ .: “that through the patience and the comfort wrought by the Scriptures we may have our hope”. τὴν ἐλπίδα is the Christian hope, the hope of the glory of God; and the Christian has it as he is able, through the help of God’s Word in the Scriptures, to maintain a brave and cheerful spirit amid all the sufferings and reproaches of life. Cf. Romans 5:2-5 . This is, if not a digression, at least an expansion of his original idea, and at

Verse 5

Romans 15:5 Paul returns to his point in a prayer: the God of the patience and comfort just spoken of grant unto you, etc. τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν ἐν ἀλλήλοις κατὰ Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν : cf. Romans 12:16 , where, however, τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν with εἰς ἀλλήλους is not quite the same. Paul wishes here that the minds of his readers their moral judgment and temper may all be determined by Jesus Christ (for κατὰ , expressing the rule according to which, see chap. Romans 8:27 ): in this case there will be the harmony which the disputes of chap. 14 disturbed.

Verse 6

Romans 15:6 . ἵνα introduces the ultimate aim of this unanimity. ὁμοθυμαδόν here only in Paul, but eleven times in Acts. ἐν ἑνὶ στόματι : in Greek writers usually ἐξ ἑνὸς στόματος . τὸν θεὸν καὶ πατέρα τοῦ Κ . ἡμῶν Ἰ . Χ . The A.V. renders, “God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” making τοῦ Κυρίου depend on πατέρα only. This rendering does not make God the God of Christ, but defines the only true God as the Father of Christ. It is defended by Weiss, who appeals to the passages in which “God and Father” is found with no genitive: 1 Corinthians 15:24 , Ephesians 5:20 , Colossians 3:17 , James 1:27 ; James 3:9 . The argument is not convincing, especially in view of Ephesians 1:17 ( ὁ θεὸς τοῦ Κ . ἡμῶν Ἰ . Χ ., ὁ πατὴρ τῆς δόξης ) and John 20:17 : hence the R.V. is probably right (“the God and Father of our Lord”). When the Church glorifies such a God with one heart and one mouth it will have transcended all the troubles of chap. 14. It is this accordant praise of all Christians which is the ruling idea in Romans 15:7-13 .

Verse 7

Romans 15:7 . διὸ προσλαμβάνεσθε ἀλλήλους : διὸ = that such praise may be possible. For προσλαμβ . see Romans 14:1-3 . καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς προσελάβετο ὑμᾶς . ὑμᾶς covers both parties in the Church, however they are to be distinguished; if Christ received both, they are bound to receive each other. The last words, εἰς δόξαν τοῦ θεοῦ , are probably to be construed with προσλαμβάνεσθε ἀλλήλους ; they resume the idea of Romans 15:6 ( ἵνα … δοξάζητε ); the διὸ with which Romans 15:7 begins starts from that idea of glorifying God, and looks on to it as the end to be attained when all Christians in love receive each other. But the clause has of course a meaning even if attached to what immediately precedes: ὁ Χριστὸς προσελ . ὑμᾶς . Cf. Philippians 2:11 , Ephesians 1:12-14 . Christ’s reception of the Jews led to God’s being glorified for His faithfulness; His reception of the Gentiles to God’s being glorified for His mercy. So Weiss, who argues that in what follows we have the expansion and proof of the idea that God’s glory (the glory of His faithfulness and of His mercy) is the end contemplated by Christ’s reception alike of Jew and Gentile.

Verse 8

Romans 15:8 . λέγω γὰρ Χριστὸν διάκονον γεγενῆσθαι περιτομῆς = what I mean is this Christ has been made, etc. διάκονον περιτομῆς is usually understood as “a minister to the Jews, to circumcised people” ( cf. Romans 3:30 , Romans 4:9 ), and this seems to me the only intelligible explanation. In exercising this ministry (and He exercised directly no other: Matthew 15:24 ) Christ was of course circumcised Himself and set from His birth (Galatians 4:4 f.) in the same relation to the law as all who belonged to the old covenant; but though this is involved in the fact that Christ was sent to the Jews, it is not what is meant by calling Him διάκονον περιτομῆς . ὑπὲρ ἀληθείας θεοῦ : in the interest of God’s truth ( cf. Romans 1:5 : ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ ). The truth of God, as the giver of the promises to the fathers, was vindicated by Christ’s ministry; for in Him they were all fulfilled, 2 Corinthians 1:20 . τὰς ἐπαγγ . τῶν πατέρων : the promises belonged to the fathers, because they were originally made to them.

Verse 9

Romans 15:9 . τὰ δὲ ἔθνη ὑπὲρ ἐλέους δοξάσαι τὸν θεόν : Some expositors make this depend directly on λέγω , as if Paul had meant: “I say Christ has become a minister of circumcision, in the interest of the truth of God … and that the Gentiles have glorified God for His mercy ,” the only contrast being that between God’s faithfulness , as shown to the descendants of Abraham, and His mercy as shown to those without the old covenant. But if τὰ δὲ ἔθνη κ . τ . λ . is made to depend on εἰς τὸ , as in the A.V., there is a double contrast brought out: that of faithfulness and mercy being no more emphatic than that of the fathers and the Gentiles . Indeed, from the passages quoted, it is clear that Paul is preoccupied rather with the latter of these two contrasts than with the former; for all the passages concern the place of the Gentiles in the Church. At the same time it is made clear even to the Gentiles that the salvation which they enjoy is “of the Jews”. Hence the Gentiles must not be contemptuous of scruples or infirmities, especially such as rise out of any associations with the old covenant; nor should the Jews be censorious of a Gentile liberty which has its vindication in the free grace of God. καθὼς γέγραπται : the contemplated glorification of God answers to what we find in Psalms 18:50 , LXX. Christ is assumed to be the speaker, and we may say that He gives thanks to God among the Gentiles when the Gentiles give thanks to God through Him (Hebrews 2:12 ).

Verse 10

Romans 15:10 . καὶ πάλιν λέγει : Deuteronomy 32:43 , LXX. The Hebrew is different.

Verse 11

Romans 15:11 . καὶ πάλιν , αἰνεῖτε : Psalms 117:1 , LXX only the order of the words varying.

Verse 12

Romans 15:12 . καὶ πάλιν Ἡσαίας λέγει : Isaiah 11:10 . Paul again follows the LXX, only omitting ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ after ἔσται . The words are meant to describe the Messianic kingdom and its Davidic head. It is a universal kingdom, and the nations set their hope in its King, and therefore in the God of salvation whose representative He is. Such a hope in God, the Apostle’s argument implies, will result in the praise which glorifies Him for His mercy (Romans 15:9 ).

Verse 13

Romans 15:13 . Prompted by ἐλπιοῦσιν , the Apostle closes this section, and the body of the epistle, by calling on “the God of hope” to bless those to whom it is addressed. For the expression ὁ θεὸς τῆς ἐλπίδος cf. Romans 15:5 : it means the God Who gives us the hope which we have in Christ. The joy and peace which He imparts rest on faith ( ἐν τῷ πιστεύειν ). Hence they are the joy and peace specially flowing from justification and acceptance with God, and the more we have of these, the more we abound in the Christian hope itself. Such an abounding in hope, in the power of the Holy Ghost (Acts 1:8 , Luke 4:14 ), is the end contemplated in Paul’s prayer that the God of hope would fill the Romans with all joy and peace in believing. For the kind of supremacy thus given to hope compare the connection of Romans 15:5 with Romans 15:2 in chap. 5.

The rest of this chapter is of the nature of an epilogue. It falls into two parts: (1) Romans 15:14-21 , in which Paul, while apologising for the tone which he has occasionally employed, justifies himself for writing to the Romans by appealing to his vocation as an Apostle; and (2) Romans 15:22 ; Romans 15:33 , in which he explains to them the programme of his future work, including his long-deferred visit to them, and begs their prayers for a successful issue to his visit to Jerusalem.

Verse 14

Romans 15:14 . πέπεισμαι δέ : the tone in which he has written, especially in chap. 14, might suggest that he thought them very defective either in intelligence, or love, or both; but he disclaims any such inference from his words. ἀδελφοί μου has a friendly emphasis: cf. Romans 7:4 . καὶ αὐτὸς ἐγὼ cf. Romans 7:25 : it means “even I myself, who have taken it upon me to address you so plainly”. ὅτι καὶ αὐτοὶ μεστοί ἐστε ἀγαθωσύνης : that even of yourselves ye are full of goodness, i.e. , without any help from me. ἀγαθωσύνη in all N.T. passages (Galatians 5:22 , Ephesians 5:9 , 2 Thessalonians 1:11 ) seems to have an association with ἀγαθὸς in the sense of “kind”: the goodness of which Paul speaks here is probably therefore not virtue in general, but the charity on which such stress is laid in chap. 14 as the only rule of Christian conduct. πεπληρωμένοι πάσης γνώσεως : filled full of all knowledge “our Christian knowledge in its entirety” (Sanday and Headlam). This, again, may refer to the comprehension of Christianity shown by the strong of chap. 14: or it may be intended to apologise for the unusually doctrinal character of the epistle. Both μεστοί and πεπληρωμένοι occur also in Romans 1:29 . δυνάμενοι κ . ἀλλήλους νουθετεῖν : in a sense therefore self-sufficient.

Verse 15

Romans 15:15 f. τολμηροτέρως … ἀπὸ μέρους : the description does not apply to the letter as a whole, but only to parts of it: Gifford refers to Romans 6:12-21 , Romans 11:17 ff., Romans 12:3 , and especially chap. 14 throughout. ὡς ἐπαναμιμνήσκων ὑμᾶς : here only in N.T. There is the same courteous tone as in Romans 1:11 f. He does not presume to teach them what they do not know, but only to suggest to their memory what they must know already but may be overlooking. διὰ τὴν χάριν τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι : this is the real justification of his writing. As in Romans 1:5 , Romans 12:3 , the χάριν is that of Apostleship. It is not wantonly, but in the exercise of a Divine vocation, and a divinely-bestowed competence for it, that he writes. εἰς τὸ εἶναί με λειτουργὸν Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ εἰς τὰ ἔθνη : there is a certain emphasis on εἰς τὰ ἔθνη , and the whole sentence would be inept, as a justification of Paul for writing to Rome, unless the Roman Church had been essentially Gentile. For λειτουργὸν see note on Romans 13:6 . The word here derives from the context the priestly associations which often attach to it in the LXX. But obviously it has no bearing on the question as to the “sacerdotal” character of the Christian ministry. The offering which Paul conceives himself as presenting to God is the Gentile Church, and the priestly function in the exercise of which this offering is made is the preaching of the Gospel. Paul describes himself as ἱερουργοῦντα τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ sacerdotis modo evangelium administrantem . Fritzsche (on whose note all later expositors depend) explains the sacerdotis modo by accurate et religiose ; just as a Levitical offering was not acceptable to God unless the prescribed ceremonial was precisely observed, so the offering of the Gentiles at God’s altar would be unacceptable unless Paul showed a priestlike fidelity in his ministry of the Gospel. But this is to wring from a word what an intelligent appreciation of the sentence as a whole, and especially of its pictorial character, refuses to yield: the clause ἵνα γένηται … εὐπρόσδεκτος depends not on ἱερουργοῦντα , but on the whole conception of Paul’s ministry, i.e. , on εἰς τὸ εἶναί με λειτουργὸν κ . τ . λ . For ἡ προσφορὰ τῶν ἐθνῶν , genitive of object, cf. Hebrews 10:10 . This great offering is acceptable to God (1 Peter 2:5 ) because it is ἡγιασμένη consecrated to Him ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ . Those who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, as the result of Paul’s sacred ministry of the Gospel, received the Holy Spirit: this (as distinct from the ceremonial “without spot or blemish”) was the ground of their acceptance ( cf. Romans 12:1 f.).

Verse 17

Romans 15:17 . ἔχω οὖν καύχησιν : I have therefore ground of boasting. In spite of the apologetic tone of Romans 15:14 f. Paul is not without confidence in writing to the Romans. But there is no personal assumption in this; for he has it only in Christ Jesus, and only τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν in his relations to God. Cf. Hebrews 2:17 ; Hebrews 5:1 .

Verse 18

Romans 15:18 f. All other boasting he declines. οὐ γὰρ τολμήσω τι λαλεῖν ὧν οὐ κατειργάσατο διʼ ἐμοῦ ὁ Χ .: in effect this means, I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ wrought through me. This is the explanation of ἔχω οὖν καύχησιν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ . The things which Christ did work through Paul He wrought εἰς ὑπακοὴν ἐθνῶν with a view to obedience on the part of the Gentiles: cf. Romans 1:5 . This combination Christ working in Paul, to make the Gentiles obedient to the Gospel is the vindication of Paul’s action in writing to Rome. It is not on his own impulse, but in Christ that he does it; and the Romans as Gentiles lie within the sphere in which Christ works through him. λόγῳ καὶ ἔργῳ : λόγος refers to the preaching, ἔργον to all he had been enabled to do or suffer in his calling. 2 Corinthians 10:11 , Acts 7:22 , Luke 24:19 . ἐν δυνάμει σημείων καὶ τεράτων . σημεῖον and τέρας are the words generally employed in the N.T. to designate what we call miracle: often, too, δύναμεις is used as synonymous (Mark 6:2 ). All three are again applied to Paul’s miracles in 2 Corinthians 12:12 , and to similar works in the Apostolic age of the Church in Hebrews 2:4 : all three are also found in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 , where they are ascribed to the Man of Sin, whose Parousia in this as in other respects is regarded as counterfeiting that of Christ. τέρας is always rendered “wonder” in the A.V., and, as though the word were unequal to the phenomenon, it is never used alone: in all the places in which it occurs σημεῖον is also found. The latter emphasises the significance of the miracle; it is not merely a sight to stare at, but is suggestive of an actor and a purpose. In this passage, “the power” of signs and wonders seems to mean the power with which they impressed the beholders: more or less it is an interpretation of ἔργῳ . So “the power” of the Holy Ghost means the influence with which the Holy Spirit accompanied the preaching of the Gospel: more or less it answers to λόγῳ : see 1 Thessalonians 1:5 and cf. the ἀπόδείξει πνεύματος κ . δυνάμεως , 1 Corinthians 2:4 . ὥστε με κ . τ . λ . “The result of Christ’s working through His Apostle is here stated as if the preceding sentence had been affirmative in form as well as sense” (Gifford). ἀπὸ Ἱερουσαλὴμ : this agrees with Acts 9:26-29 , but this, of course, does not prove that it was borrowed from that passage. Even if Paul began his ministry at Damascus, he might quite well speak as he does here, for it is not its chronology, but its range, he is describing; and to his mind Jerusalem (to which, if let alone, he would have devoted himself, see Acts 22:18-22 ) was its point of departure. καὶ κύκλῳ : most modern commentators have rendered this as if it were τοῦ κύκλῳ from Jerusalem and its vicinity , by which they mean Syria (though some would include Arabia, Galatians 1:17 ): for this use of κύκλῳ see Genesis 35:5 , Jdt 1:2 . But most Greek commentators render as in the A.V. “and round about unto Illyricum”. This is the interpretation taken by Hofmann and by S. and H., and is illustrated by Xen., Anab. , vii., i., 14 (quoted by the latter): πότερα διὰ τοῦ ἱεροῦ ὄρους δέοι πορεύεσθαι , πορεύεσθαι , ἢ κύκλῳ διὰ μέσης τῆς Θράκης . μέχρι τοῦ Ἰλλυρικοῦ can (so far as μέχρι is concerned) either exclude or include Illyricum. Part of the country so called may have been traversed by Paul in the journey alluded to in Acts 20:1 f. ( διελθὼν δὲ τὰ μέρη ἐκεῖνα ), but the language would be satisfied if he had come in sight of Illyricum as he would do in his westward journey through Macedonia. πεπληρωκέναι τὸ εὐαγγ . τοῦ Χριστοῦ : have fulfilled (fully preached) the Gospel of Christ. Cf. Colossians 1:25 . Paul had done this in the sense in which it was required of an Apostle, whose vocation (to judge from Paul’s practice) was to lay the foundation of a church in the chief centres of population, and as soon as the new community was capable of self-propagation, to move on.

Verse 20

Romans 15:20 . οὕτω δὲ φιλοτιμούμενον (1 Thessalonians 4:11 , 2 Corinthians 5:9 ): making it my ambition, however, thus to preach the Gospel, etc. This limits πεπληρωκέναι : he had never sought to preach where Christianity was already established. A point of honour, but not rivalry, is involved in φιλοτιμούμενον . ὠνομάσθη : cf. 2 Timothy 2:19 and Isaiah 26:13 , Amos 6:10 . To name the name of the Lord is to confess Him to be what He is to the faith of His people. ἵνα μὴ ἐπʼ ἀλλότοιον θεμέλιον κ . τ . λ . The duty of an Apostle was with the foundation, not the superstructure. 1 Corinthians 3:10 . The same confidence in his vocation, and the same pride in limiting that confidence, and not boasting of what Christ had done through others, or intruding his operations into their sphere, pervades the tenth chapter of 2 Cor.

Verse 21

Romans 15:21 . ἀλλὰ καθὼς γέγραπται : Paul’s actual procedure corresponded with, and indeed led to the fulfilment of, a famous O.T. prophecy. Isaiah 52:11 exactly as in LXX. It is absurd to argue with Fritzsche that Paul found a prediction of his own personal ministry (and of the principles on which he discharged it), in Isaiah, and equally beside the mark to argue that his use of the passage is “quite in accordance with the spirit of the original”. The LXX is quite different from the Hebrew, and Paul quotes it because he liked to be able to express his own opinion or practice in Scripture language. It seemed to him to get a Divine confirmation in this way; but an examination of various passages shows that he cared very little for the original meaning or application.

Verse 22

Romans 15:22 . διὸ καὶ ἐνεκοπτόμην : the work which detained the Apostle in the East also hindered him from visiting Rome. For another ἐγκόπτειν see 1 Thessalonians 2:18 . τὰ πολλὰ is more than πολλάκις in Romans 1:13 : it is distinguished in Greek writers both from ἐνίοτε (sometimes) and ἀεὶ (always) and is rightly rendered in Vulg. plerumque . As a rule, it was his work which kept Paul from visiting Rome, but he may have had the desire to do so ( e.g. , when he was in Corinth) and have been prevented by some other cause. The rendering of R.V. “these many times” (apparently, all the definite times included in πολλάκις Romans 1:13 is unsupported by examples.

Verses 22-33

Romans 15:22-33 . The Apostle’s programme. He is at present on his way to Jerusalem with the gifts which his Gentile churches have made for the relief of the poor Christians there. The issue of this visit is dubious, and he begs their prayers for its success. After it is over, he means to proceed to Spain, and on the way he hopes to pay his long deferred visit to Rome.

Verse 23

Romans 15:23 . νυνὶ δὲ : but now the sentence thus begun is interrupted by ἐλπίζω γὰρ and never finished, for the words ἐλεύσομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς in T.R. are an interpolation. μηκέτι τόπον ἔχων : not that every soul was converted, but that the Apostolic function of laying foundations had been sufficiently discharged over the area in question. κλίμα is only found in the plural in N.T. 2 Corinthians 11:10 , Galatians 1:21 . ἐπιπόθειαν : here only in N.T. ἀπὸ ἱκανῶν ἐτῶν : the desire dated “from a good many years back”. Cf. ἀπὸ κτίσεως κόσμου , Romans 1:20 , Acts 15:7 .

Verse 24

Romans 15:24 . ὡς ἂν πορεύωμαι εἰς τὴν Σπανίαν : it is here the apodosis begins, which being broken in on by ἐλπίζω is never formally resumed, though the sense is taken up again in Romans 15:28 f. ὡς ἂν is temporal = simulatque: cf. 1 Corinthians 11:34 , Philippians 2:23 : Buttmann, p. 232. The principle which Paul has just laid down as regulating his Apostolic work (Romans 15:20 ) forbids him to think of Rome as a proper sphere for it; great as is his interest in the capital of the world, he can only pay it a passing visit on the way to another field. ὑφʼ ὑμῶν προπεμφθῆναι ἐκεῖ : it has been said that Paul expected or claimed “ quasi pro jure suo ” to be escorted all the way to Spain (by sea) by members of the Roman Church; but this is not included in προπεμφθῆναι . Practical illustrations are seen in Acts 20:35 ; Acts 21:5 : similar anticipations in 1 Corinthians 16:6 ; 1 Corinthians 16:11 . For πρῶτον see Matthew 7:5 ; Matthew 8:21 . ἀπὸ μέρους indicates that no such stay would be equal to the Apostle’s longing for fellowship with the Romans, but it would be at least a partial satisfaction of it.

Verse 25

Romans 15:25 . νυνὶ δὲ is not a resumption of νυνὶ δὲ in Romans 15:23 : there is an entire break in the construction, and Paul begins again, returning from the Spanish journey, which lies in a remote and uncertain future, to the present moment. “But at this moment I am on the way to Jerusalem, ministering to the saints.” διακονῶν does not represent this journey as part of his apostolic ministry , which might legitimately defer his visit once more (Weiss); it refers to the service rendered to the poor by the money he brought (see 2 Corinthians 8:4 ). For whatever reason, Paul seems to have used “the saints” (a name applicable to all Christians) with a certain predilection to describe the Jerusalem Church. Cf. Romans 15:31 , 1Co 16:1 , 2 Corinthians 8:4 ; 2Co 9:1 ; 2 Corinthians 9:12 : all in this connection.

Verse 26

Romans 15:26 . εὐδόκησαν γὰρ Μακεδονία καὶ Ἀχαία : Macedonia and Achaia would include all the Pauline Churches in Europe, and we know from 1 Corinthians 16:1 that a similar contribution was being made in Galatia. εὐδόκησαν expresses the formal resolution of the churches in question, but here as in many places with the idea that it was a spontaneous and cordial resolution (though it had been suggested by Paul): see chap. Romans 10:1 (Fritzsche’s note there), Luke 12:32 , Galatians 1:15 , 1 Corinthians 1:21 , 1Th 2:8 ; 1 Thessalonians 3:1 . κοινωνίαν τινὰ : τινὰ marks the in-definiteness of the collection. It was no assessment to raise a prescribed amount, but “some contribution,” more or less according to will and circumstances. For κοινωνίαν in this sense see 2 Corinthians 8:4 ; 2 Corinthians 9:13 : where the whole subject is discussed. εἰς τοὺς πτωχοὺς τῶν ἁγίων : from the partitive genitive it is clear that not all the saints in Jerusalem were poor. But Galatians 2:10 , Acts 6:0 show that the community at least included many poor, towards whom it assumed a responsibility so burdensome that it was unable to discharge it unaided.

Verse 27

Romans 15:27 . εὐδόκησαν γὰρ : they have resolved, I say. Paul felt bound to let this resolution affect his own conduct even to the extent of delaying his journey westward. Indeed he explains in 2 Cor., chaps. 8 and 9, that he expected great spiritual results, in the way of a better understanding between Jewish and Gentile Christianity, from this notable act of Gentile charity; hence his desire to see it accomplished, and the necessity laid on him to go once more to Jerusalem. ὀφειλέται : cf. Romans 1:14 , Romans 8:12 . The resolve of the Gentile Churches to help the poor Jewish Christians, though generous, was not unmotived; in a sense it was the payment of a debt. τοῖς πνευματικοῖς αὐτῶν : the spiritual things belonging to the Jews in which the Gentiles shared are the Gospel and all its blessings “salvation is of the Jews”. All the gifts of Christianity are gifts of the Holy Spirit. ἐν τοῖς σαρκικοῖς : the carnal things of the Gentiles, in which they minister to the Jews, are those which belong to the natural life of man, as a creature of flesh the universal symbol of these is money. There is the same idea in a similar connection (the support of the Gospel ministry) in 1 Corinthians 9:2 In neither place has σαρκικὰ any ethical connotation. λειτουργῆσαι is simply “to minister to”: no official, much less sacerdotal association. Cf. Philippians 2:30 .

Verse 28

Romans 15:28 . τοῦτο οὖν ἐπιτελέσας : having brought this business to a close. It is a mistake to find in Paul’s use of ἐπιτελεῖν any reference to the performance of a religious rite: see 2 Corinthians 8:6 ; 2 Corinthians 8:2 , Galatians 3:3 , Philippians 1:6 . σφραγισάμενος αὐτοῖς τὸν καρπὸν τοῦτον . “This fruit” is, of course, the collection; it is one of the gracious results of the reception of the Gospel by the Gentiles, and Paul loves to conceive and to speak of it spiritually rather than materially. Thus in 2 Corinthians 8:9 he calls it a χάρις , a διακονία , a κοινωνία , a ἁδρότης , a εὐλογία : never money. The point of the figure in σφραγισάμενος cannot be said to be clear. It may possibly suggest that Paul, in handing over the money to the saints, authenticates it to them as the fruit of their πνευματικά , which have been sown among the Gentiles (so . and H.); or it may only mean “when I have secured this fruit to them as their property ” (so Meyer). The ideas of “property,” “security,” “formality,” “solemnity,” “finality,” are all associated with σφραγίς and σφραγίζω in different passages of the N.T., and it is impossible to say which preponderated in Paul’s mind as he wrote these words. Cf. John 3:33 ; John 6:27 . ἀπελεύσομαι is simply abibo: the idea of departing from Jerusalem is included in it, which is not brought out in the R.V., “I will go on”. διʼ ὑμῶν : cf. 2 Corinthians 1:16 . εἰς Σπανίαν : there is no evidence that this intention was ever carried out except the well-known passage in Clem. Romans 1:5 which speaks of Paul as having come ἐπὶ τὸ τέρμα τῆς δύσεως : an expression which, especially if the writer was a Jew, may as well mean Rome as Spain. But all the more if it was not carried out is this passage in Romans assuredly genuine; a second-century writer would not gratuitously ascribe to an apostle intentions which he must have known were never accomplished.

Verse 29

Romans 15:29 . For ἐρχόμενος … ἐλεύσομαι cf. 1 Corinthians 2:1 . ἐν πληρώματι εὐλογίας Χριστοῦ . Paul’s desire was to impart to the Romans χάρισμά τι πνευματικόν (Romans 1:2 ), and he is sure it will be satisfied to the full. When he comes he will bring blessing from Christ to which nothing will be lacking. On πλήρωμα see Romans 11:12 .

Verse 30

Romans 15:30 . παρακαλῶ δὲ ὑμᾶς . In spite of the confident tone of Romans 15:29 , Paul is very conscious of the uncertainties and perils which lie ahead of him, and with the δὲ he turns to this aspect of his situation. ἀδελφοὶ (which W. H. bracket) is an appeal to their Christian sympathy. διὰ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰ . Χ . For διὰ in this sense see Romans 12:1 . The Romans and Paul were alike servants of this Lord, and His name was a motive to the Romans to sympathise with Paul in all that he had to encounter in Christ’s service. διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης τοῦ πνεύματος , the love wrought in Christian hearts by the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22 ) is another motive of the same kind. συναγωνίσασθαί μοι , ἐν ταῖς προσευχαῖς . συναγωνίζομαι is found here only in the N.T., but ἀγὼν and ἀγωνίζομαι in a spiritual sense are found in each of the groups into which the Pauline epistles are usually divided. What Paul asks is that they should join him in striving with all their might in wrestling as it were against the hostile forces which would frustrate his apostolic work. Cf. Just. Mart., Apol. , ii., 13: καὶ εὐχόμενος καὶ παμμάχως ἀγωνιζόμενος . ἀγωνία in Luke 22:44 seems to denote awful fear rather than intense striving. πρὸς τὸν θεόν is not otiose: Paul felt how much it was worth to have God appealed to on his behalf.

Verse 31

Romans 15:31 f. ἵνα ῥυσθῶ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀπειθούντων : from the disobedient, i.e. , from the Jews who had not received the Gospel, 2 Thessalonians 1:8 , chap. Romans 11:30 . καὶ ἡ διακονία μου κ . τ . λ . It was not the unbelieving Jews only who hated Paul. To them he was an apostate, who had disappointed all their hopes; but even Christian Jews in many cases regarded him as false to the nation’s prerogative, and especially to the law. There was a real danger that the contribution he brought from the Gentile Churches might not be graciously accepted, even accepted at all; it might be regarded as a bribe, in return for which Paul’s opposition to the law was to be condoned, and the equal standing of his upstart churches in the Kingdom of God acknowledged. It was by no means certain that it would be taken as what it was a pledge of brotherly love; and God alone could dispose “the saints” to take it as simply as it was offered. Paul’s state of mind as seen here is exactly that which is revealed in Acts 20:17-38 ; Acts 21:13 , etc. ἵνα ἐν χαρᾷ ἐλθών … συναναπαύσωμαι ὑμῖν . συναναπ . here only in N.T. but cf. συνπαρακληθῆναι , Romans 1:12 , and συναγωνίσασθαι Romans 15:30 . “Rest after the personal danger and after the ecclesiastical crisis of which the personal danger formed a part” (Hort). The ἵνα here seems to be subordinate to, not co-ordinate with the preceding one. Paul looks forward to a time of joy and rest beyond these anxieties and dangers, as the ultimate end to be secured by their prayers. διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ : it depends on this whether Paul is to return or how. He did reach Rome, by the will of God (Romans 1:10 ), but hardly in the conditions anticipated here.

Verse 33

Romans 15:33 . ὁ δὲ θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης : there is an appropriateness in this designation after Romans 15:31 , but “peace” is one of the ruling ideas in Paul’s mind always, and needs no special explanation in a benediction: 2 Corinthians 13:2 , Php 4:9 , 1 Thessalonians 5:23 .

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Romans 15". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/egt/romans-15.html. 1897-1910.
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