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Bible Commentaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

Romans 15

Verse 1


The Apostle exhorts the strong in Faith, to bear the Infirmities of the weak. He recommends the Example of Jesus, and concludes with recommending the Church to the God of Peace.

Verses 1-7

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. (2) Let everyone of us please his neighbor for his good to edification. (3) For even Christ pleased not himself: but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. (4) For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. (5) Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: (6) That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (7) Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

It is always blessed to eye Christ. And, in the use the Apostle here makes of the Lord's example, as not seeking self pleasing in ease and enjoyment, but Jehovah's glory, and his Church's welfare, there is somewhat very blessed, and interesting. It would be well for the Church, if the lovely pattern of the Great Head and Husband of his people were always in view. Both the strong and the weak, the old and the young, the rich and the poor, in the Lord's household, would find constant blessedness, in taking Christ for their example. It is said, that even Christ pleased not himself. By which is not meant, that Christ's pleasure, differed from the Father's. For one and the same mind was in both. Jesus, ages before he openly tabernacled in substance of our flesh, when speaking of the Spirit of prophecy, said: I delight to do thy will, 0 my God; yea, thy law is within my heart. Or, as the words are rendered in the margin of the Bible, in the midst of my bowels; meaning, as wrapped up in his Very nature; so much oneness being between them, Psalms 40:8 . But, by not pleasing himself, is intended to shew, that in the accomplishment of the great purpose for which he came upon earth, he had the great object in view of the Father's glory, and his people's happiness. And nothing of self-accommodation or ease was considered by the Lord Jesus, while in the pursuit of these important designs. And, among many instances which might have been produced in confirmation of it, (for Christ's whole life was a life of suffering,) Paul brings forward one, which the Scripture noticed concerning Christ, and which in its bosom comprehended many others: but as it is written, the reproaches of them that reproached the fell on me. Now this was happily chosen by the Apostle, in the illustration of this great point, as well as to open to the Church, other important views of Christ. For these are the words of Christ himself, addressed to the Father, spoken by the Spirit of prophecy; and serve as a key, to open to the Church the whole Psalm, from whence Paul makes the quotation of them. I beg the Reader before he proceeds further, for his confirmation in this interesting point, to turn to Psalms 69:0 ; and by comparing what is there said, with other Scriptures, he will be led to conclude, that Christ is the sole Speaker, through the whole of it. And a most blessed proof the whole brings to the truth as it is in Jesus. Compare verse 9 (Psalms 69:9 ) with John 2:17 ; Psalms 119:139 . Compare verse 4 (Psalms 69:4 ) with John 15:25 and Psalms 35:19 . Compare verse 3 (Psalms 69:3 ), with John 14:28 ; Psalms 119:82 , and Psalms 119:123 . Compare Psalms 69:21 with Matthew 27:34 and Matthew 27:48 . But, when the Reader hath diligently examined those Scriptures, let him not turn away from the passage Paul hath here quoted, before that he hath first considered a little more particularly, the blessedness of it. The reproaches which the Lord Jesus had in contemplation when he thus expressed himself, no doubt, in the first, and principal sense, had respect to Jehovah ; and which Christ, by the humiliation of himself, and his sacrifice on the cross, came on earth to do away. The Church of God, as well as the whole of mankind, in the Adam - nature of a fallen state, had reproached God, His holy name, his attributes, his law, his sanctuary; all had been blasphemed, and polluted. When, therefore, Jesus came to do away sin by the sacrifice of himself; these reproaches were charged upon Christ, as the Church's representative and surety, Isaiah 53:6 . And, it was in the view of this blasphemy and prophanation of the Lord in the temple, which gave occasion for Christ to manifest his zeal for his Father's honor, when he drave the buyers and sellers before him; and brought to mind to the Apostles this very Scripture, John 2:15-17 . But God the Father was also reproached, as well as Christ's own Person, when He, whom God had declared by a voice from heaven, to be his beloved Son, was charged with blasphemy, a glutton, a winebibber, the friend of publicans and sinners, and as having a devil God was reproached in the first instance in all these, and the reproaches fell also upon Christ. And all the reproaches of Christ's people, in their sins and iniquities, which justly became their reproach, fell on Christ; that is, were put upon Christ. He, as the head of his body the Church, bore the whole in his own body on the tree, when he died the just for the unjust to bring us unto God, 1 Peter 3:18 . Then it was, as the Almighty Speaker said, in the sweet Psalm before quoted; I restored that which I took not away. Psalms 69:4 . Reader! all these precious things, and no doubt much more are included, in what Paul hath here noticed, of the reproaches which fell on Christ. Judge you then, with what a fullness of propriety, might he recommend the strong in faith, to accommodate themselves to their weaker brethren; when this strong One, this Gheber of his Church, endured such a contradiction of sinners against himself that his redeemed should not be wearied nor faint in their minds, Psalms 89:19 ; Jeremiah 31:22 ; Hebrews 12:3 .

Largely as I have trespassed in looking at this most interesting portion of Scripture, I must not suffer the Reader to depart from it, without first taking with him, the blessed conclusion the Apostle hath made of it: because it not only is applicable in the present instance, but in every other, where God the Holy Ghost leads his servants to make quotations from his holy word, in confirmation of his doctrines. The Apostle saith, that whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. And the Apostle adds a prayer, that these blessed effects might follow in the Church. Now then, from hence we are authorized, as from many other parts of Scripture to conclude, that the whole body of the divine word, as well as the prophecy of Scripture, is not of any private interpretation, 2 Peter 1:20 . Every part and portion of it, is given with the express view, under the Almighty Author's teaching, to make the Church wise unto salvation, through the faith which is in Christ Jesus. And God the Holy Ghost, from the continual and unceasing ministry of it, in his Church, is to bring the Church acquainted more and more, with the Person, character, offices, work, and glory, of her right lawful Lord. And these great objects, God the Holy Ghost is continually accomplishing, in the hearts of the Lord's redeemed ones, by his gracious ministry. Reader! are you acquainted with these things? do you give yourself wholly to them in the concerns of salvation? Is Christ in your view, all and in all? If so, it is the Lord the Holy Ghost, which is your Teacher. For both by his personal Ministry, as Jesus declared of him, (John 14:16-17 .) and by his written word, he it is, the Lord which teacheth you to profit. And you yourself become a living witness to this very Scripture, that the God of patience and consolation hath caused these things to be written for your learning, that you through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

Verses 8-13

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: (9) 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. (10) 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. (12) And again, Isaiah saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. (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.

There is somewhat very striking in what the Apostle here saith of our Lord, when he calls him, a Minister of the circumcision. He was indeed a Minister. For, as he saith himself, he came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many, Matthew 20:28 . Reader! have you ever considered the grace and condescension of the Lord Jesus, in taking this humble title? Fallen as we are in the world, into the very dregs of time, the ministry is considered as only suited for the humbler capacities of men. It is almost an adage with some, when providing as they call it for their younger branches: "Anything will do for a Parson." Awful proofs of awful times. As if the care of souls was of the smallest concern in the world. Jesus the Son of God, had different views. Paul his servant, esteemed it his highest honor. I thank Jesus our Lord (said he) who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 1 Timothy 1:12 . Yea, God himself hath honored the ministry, above all employments. For his only Son, the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his Person; heir of all things, and by whom he made the worlds: Him he made a Minister.

By a minister of the circumcision, we are not to apprehend is meant, that Christ administered circumcision to any; though for the purpose of redeeming his Church from the curse of the law, he himself was circumcised, that he might become a debtor to fulfil the law, which he did. But I rather conceive, that the reason wherefore Christ is called a minister of the circumcision, is in a spiritual sense, and what Paul elsewhere calls: we are the circumcision which worship God in spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, Philippians 3:3 . Christ therefore is himself the minister of the circumcision: to shew, that both Jew and Gentile in him, are alike interested in the whole work of salvation. And indeed, the quotations which the Apostle makes from several Scriptures, seem to be intended to confirm this view of Christ, Psalms 18:49 ; Gen 17:7 ; 2 Samuel 23:1-5 ; Deuteronomy 32:43 ; Psalms 117:1 .

I admire the gracious benediction with which the Apostle closeth this paragraph, for the consolation of the Church, in all ages. And, it is not only most blessedly timed, after what the Apostle had before said of the Gentiles, but also most sweetly worded, with an eye to Christ, whose well-known character is, that He is the hope of Israel and Savior thereof, Jeremiah 14:8 . The God of hope! as if in direct opposition to those, who having no hope, are without God in the world, Ephesians 2:12 . And there is a very great blessedness in the prayer, or invocation, on another account also; because the whole Three Persons of the Godhead are considered in it. For, as Christ is the hope of Israel, and the Savior thereof: so, God the Father hath given the Church everlasting consolation, and a good hope, through grace. And all the aboundings of hope are the immediate work and agency of God the Holy Ghost. Reader! shall not you and I put our hearty Amen, to this sweet, and affectionate prayer of the Apostle; and beg of God for the unceasing aboundings of all joy, and peace, in believing through God the Holy Ghost?

Verses 14-29

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. (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, (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. (17) I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God. (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, (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. (20) Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation: (21) But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand. (22) For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you. (23) But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you; (24) 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. (25) But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. (26) For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. (27) 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. (28) When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain. (29) And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.

I pass over the whole of Paul's account of himself, and of his pro-posed journey, for the sake of shortness. But I detain the Reader at this verse, to make a short observation on the assurance he had, that when he came to the Church, he should come in the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ. It is very sweet and blessed to those who minister in holy things, when from the Lord's impression upon their own souls, they have strong faith, that the Lord will make their labors blessed to others also. Paul knew, that he had an interest in their prayers. And his own heart had been led out in prayer for them. And hence he drew the well-founded conclusion: I know and am sure that when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ, Reader! depend upon it, the same holds good in every age of the Church. When a faithful minister and servant of Christ, hath his soul frequently led out in prayer for the people, and the people are frequently led out in soul prayer for him; the Lord will bless, and doth bless, both minister and people. And the heart of the poorest minister is encouraged, when he knoweth that he there lives in the affections of the people; and that they are daily going to Court to remember him, and his poor services, to the King. And the thought of this, that the people are at prayer for him, gives a lift to his soul when he hardly knows how to pray for himself. Paul knew that he should come in the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ when he came to Rome, for his heart was there: and God was his witness, that without ceasing, he was always making mention of them in his prayers, Romans 1:9-10 . And the Lord had bid him be of good cheer, for he must bear witness of Him at Rome, Acts 23:11 . It is truly blessed to be thus borne up on the wings of faith, and prayer, before the Lord!

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; (31) That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; (32) That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. (33) Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

There is somewhat very sweet and gracious in this earnest appeal of Paul to the Church. He was closing up his Epistle, which contained in its bosom, more or less, all the great leading truths of the Gospel of Christ. He had shewn them, the momentous doctrines of the Church, in which he himself was established, and which he affectionately recommended to them. And now in the end, he leaves the whole impression upon their minds, under the grace of God, in this sweet form of words: 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. And he adds, that he seeks an interest in their prayers, to be delivered from the enemies of the truth, and to be made a blessing to the friends: and that coming to them by the will of God, both himself and them might be mutually refreshed. And he prays the God of peace to be with them all. Amen.

Every word in this address of the Apostle hath signification. It is Paul, the prisoner of Christ for the Gentiles, which thus beseecheth the Church. And though by his Apostolical authority, he might have commanded what he requests: yet he rather makes it the subject of entreaty. We behold him as on the knee of supplication appearing before them. And, to enforce what he entreated yet more, he adds the endearing name of brethren. Now j Church as to give himself for it; and in whose sight, every individual member of his mystical body was alike dear. And as the love of the Holy Ghost, became the grand cementing cause of all union, and all joy and peace in believing, whereby the brethren were made blessed in the enjoyment of God the Father's favor, and God the Son's grace; the Apostle brings this also into the account, as forming together the full assurance of divine mercy. Reader! do not overlook the affection of Paul for the Church; neither the earnestness of his labors for them. But yet more particularly mark, where the Apostle placed his great confidence, and from whence alone he looked for success. His services could only be blessed of God, and accepted of men, when he came to them by the will of God, and God refreshed them together. And the Apostle closeth in prayer, that the God of peace might be with them, in proof of it. The God of peace, is a comprehensive expression, to denote the Covenant of peace in Christ, in which all the Persons of the Godhead have concurred. And where this is, all other Covenant blessings follow, and the Amen, or verily, as one of the names of Christ, is added, as the signing, sealing, and delivery of deeds, to confirm the free-grace deed of God in Christ. He that blesseth himself in the earth, shall bless himself in the God of truth; that is, Christ, the Amen, Isaiah 15:9 . And the blessing in heaven, is confirmed in the same way, in the blessing of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, both in heaven and earth, Revelation 3:14 .

Verse 33


Reader! let you and I seek for grace everlastingly to have in view the Person of Jesus. Nothing will tend to endear us more to our weaker brethren, and prompt us to be gentle and affectionate towards them, as when, under God the Spirit's glorifying Christ to our view, we behold his gentleness and meekness to his redeemed, in the days of our Lord's flesh, what reproaches he endured, and what unequalled grace and humility he manifested under all. Lamb of God! let a portion of thy meek Spirit be upon me, and upon all thy Church and people!

Almighty Author of thy Holy Scriptures, let the sweet savor of thy word be always uppermost in my heart. Let me never lose sight of thy love, thou gracious God the Spirit, in that thou hast caused whatsoever things were written aforetime, to be written for our learning. Lord! may I esteem thy word more than my necessary food! And do thou, O God of hope, fill my soul with all joy and peace in believing, that I may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

And do thou, glorious God and Father! who art the God of peace; and in proof of it didst bring again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the Everlasting Covenant, be with all ; thy people and thy Churches alway, to confirm them to the end. Yea, Almighty God! do thou establish them in thy truth, and make the blessed word of thy servants mutually refreshing, both to ministers and people. Amen.

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Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Romans 15". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.