Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, February 27th, 2024
the Second Week of Lent
There are 33 days til Easter!
Attention!
StudyLight.org has pledged to help build churches in Uganda. Help us with that pledge and support pastors in the heart of Africa.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
Romans 15

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Introduction

Romans 15:0

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4NKJVNRSVTEVNJB
Please Your Fellow Men, Not YourselfBearing Others' BurdensThe Strong Should Bear the WeakPlease Others, Not Yourselves(Romans 14:22-6)
Romans 15:1-6Romans 15:1-6Romans 15:1-6Romans 15:1-6
The Gospel for Gentiles and Jews AlikeGlorify God Together The Gospel to the Gentiles
Romans 15:7-13Romans 15:7-13Romans 15:7-13Romans 15:7-12Romans 15:7-12
Romans 15:13Romans 15:13
Paul's Missionary CommissionFrom Jerusalem to IllyricumPersonal NotesPaul's Reason for Writing So BoldlyPaul's Ministry
Romans 15:14-21Romans 15:14-21Romans 15:14-21Romans 15:14-21Romans 15:14-16
Romans 15:17-21
Paul's Plan to Visit RomePlan to Visit Rome Paul's Plan to Visit RomePaul's Plans
Romans 15:22-29Romans 15:22-33Romans 15:22-29Romans 15:22-29Romans 15:22-26
Romans 15:27-29
Romans 15:30-33 Romans 15:30-33Romans 15:30-33Romans 15:30-33

READING CYCLE THREE

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary ,which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS TO VERSES Romans 15:1-13

A. The discussion about Christian freedom and responsibility is continuing in Romans 15:1-13 from Romans 14:0.

B. The entire argument of Romans 14:1-13 could be outlined as

1. accept one another because God accepts us in Christ (cf. Romans 14:1, Romans 14:3; Romans 15:7)

2. do not judge one another because Christ is our only Master and Judge (cf. Romans 14:3-12)

3. love is more important than personal freedom (cf. Romans 14:13-23)

4. follow Christ's example and lay down your rights for others' edification and good (cf. Romans 15:1-13)

C. Romans 15:5-6 reflects the three-fold purpose of the entire context of Romans 14:1-13

1. live in harmony with one another

2. live in accordance with Christ's example

3. with unified hearts and lips offer united praise to God

D. This same tension between personal freedom and corporate responsibility is dealt with in 1 Cor. 8-10.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. How is the OT a benefit to NT believers (Romans 15:4-5; 1 Corinthians 10:6, 1 Corinthians 10:11)?

2. Why does Paul quote the OT in Romans 15:9-12? What great truth do they teach?

3. Where in this section of Romans does the tension between Jew and Gentile possibly appear?

4. Where in this section of Romans does the tension about Paul's apostleship appear?

5. What was Paul's reason for the offering of the Gentile churches for the church in Jerusalem (Romans 15:15-28)?

6. What was Paul's missionary strategy? Why did he want to go to Spain?

7. How and why does Paul describe his work as that of a priest (v. Romans 15:16) relating to Israel as a Kingdom of Priests (Exodus 19:5-6) or to the church (1 Peter 2:5, 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6)?

8. Did God answer Paul's prayer of verses Romans 15:30-33?

Verses 1-6

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Romans 15:1-6 1Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. 2Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. 3For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, " The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me." 4For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, 6so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:1

NASB"Now we who are strong ought to bear the weakness of those without strength" NKJV"We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak," NRSV"We who are strong ought to put up with the failing of the weak" TEV"We who are strong in the faith ought to help the weak to carry their burdens" NJB"We who are strong have a duty to put up with the qualms of the weak"

These are two present infinitives used in the sense of imperatives. The mentioning of the strong and weak shows that Romans 15:0 continued the discussion begun in Romans 14:1. It seems to reflect the tension within the Roman Church, and all churches, on the way Christians live their lives in

1. biblically ambiguous areas

2. OT requirements

3. reactions to non-moral, cultural issues

A good book that has been very helpful to me in this area is Gordon Fee, Gospel and Spirit.

For modern English readers, to label the two perspectives "strong" and "weak" is to prejudice the groups. This was not Paul's intent. The strong group referred to those who had been freed from a rule or ritual-oriented religious life. Their relationship with God is not precariously dependent on performing certain tasks or avoiding certain religious taboos. The other group was also a fully Christian, and a fully accepted, and a fully committed group of believers. However, they viewed their faith through the religious ideas of their past experiences. The Jewish believers tended to hold on to the Old Covenant practices of Judaism. The converted pagans tended to retain some of their old religious (pagan) ideas and practices. But notice that Paul did not call this mindset among believers "sin." It is only when they violated their consciences that it became sin (cf. Romans 15:23).

The term adunatos, "without strength" (cf. Acts 14:8) is connected to the term astheneô (cf. Romans 14:1, Romans 14:21; 1 Corinthians 8:7, 1 Corinthians 8:10, 1 Corinthians 8:11, 1 Corinthians 8:12; 1 Corinthians 9:22), which also means "without strength."

This text implies that Christians should not grudgingly tolerate other Christians, but should lovingly "care for" and "work with" each other. The term, "bear" was also used of Jesus' "cross bearing" in John 19:17 and Luke 14:27. Paul knew the tensions that can occur between religious people. He was trained under Gamaliel, who was a rabbi of the liberal school of Hillel.

"and not just please ourselves" This is a present active imperative with the negative particle, which usually means stop an act in process. Self-centeredness is a sure sign of immaturity; following Christ's example (cf. Romans 15:3; Philippians 2:1-11) is the sign of maturity. Again, it is the strong who were being addressed (cf. Romans 14:1, Romans 14:14, Romans 14:16, Romans 14:21,27). This is not to imply they had all the responsibility in maintaining the fellowship. The weak are also addressed in Romans 14:3, Romans 14:20, Romans 14:23; Romans 15:5-6, Romans 15:7.

Romans 15:2 "Each of us is to please his neighbor" This is "neighbor" used in the sense of fellow Christian. This does not imply personal compromise of convictions, but that one does not push his personal preferences or opinions in the ambiguous areas. The unity and growth of the body of Christ, not personal freedom, is paramount (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23; 1 Corinthians 10:24-33; Ephesians 4:1-16).

NASB"for his edification" NKJV"leading to edification" NRSV"for the good purpose of building up the neighbor" TEV"in order to build them up in the faith" NJB"help them to become stronger Christians"

This is the major theme of Romans 14:0 (cf. Romans 14:16, Romans 14:19). It is also one of the tests for spiritual gifts found in 1 Corinthians 10:23; 1 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 4:29.

In this context it refers to the stronger believer limiting his/her freedom in love for the purpose of helping fellow Christians grow in faith. Joseph A. Fitzmyer and Raymond E. Brown, ed., The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol. 2, has an interesting comment on this verse.

"This phrase is often taken to mean 'to edify him' (the neighbor), referring to the personal development of one's Christian neighbor. But considering that Paul often uses the building metaphor in his letters in a corporate sense, the phrase undoubtedly has a social, corporate meaning, here as well (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:12; Ephesians 4:12; Romans 14:19)" (p. 328).

SPECIAL TOPIC: EDIFY

Romans 15:3 "For even Christ" Christ is our pattern and example. This truth is also stressed in Romans 15:5; Philippians 2:1-11; 1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 3:16.

"it is written" This is a present passive indicative, which is an idiom for OT Scripture. This is a quote from Psalms 69:9. By referring to Christ's example (did not please Himself, cf. Philippians 2:5-8) in addition to an OT quote, Paul uses the two most important sources of authority in the early church (cf. Newman and Nida, A Translator's Handbook on Paul's Letter to the Romans, p. 271). The selflessness of Christ as He bore the sin of all the world is our example (cf. 1 John 3:16).

Paul seems to link

1. Jesus' bearing reproach as the Messiah

2. Paul bearing the reproach of the gospel

There is a price to pay for serving God in a fallen world.

1. the rejected and crucified Jesus

2. Paul tells of his rejection and persecution in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12; 2 Corinthians 6:3-10; 2 Corinthians 11:23-33. Paul, too, was finally beheaded

Romans 15:4 "for whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction" The OT was written for NT believers also (cf. Romans 4:23-24; Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 9:10; 1 Corinthians 10:6, 1 Corinthians 10:11). It is relevant to new covenant believers (cf. 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). There is a continuity, but also a discontinuity between the Old and New Testaments.

"so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures" Notice how the truth of God's Word and believers' lifestyle response to it are combined. Faith and practice are bound together (cf. Romans 15:5). They result in confidence in life, in death, and at the promised hope of Christ's return.

"we might have hope" This is a present active subjunctive, which implies our hope is dependant on the actions mentioned earlier in Romans 15:4. In the NT "hope" often referred to the Second Coming when our salvation will be consummated (cf. Romans 8:30; 1 John 3:2). This Greek term does not have the connotation of uncertainty as the English term. The Second Coming is a certain event with an uncertain time element.

Paul uses this term often in several different but related senses. Often it is associated with the consummation of the believer's faith. This can be expressed as glory, eternal life, ultimate salvation, Second Coming, etc. The consummation is certain but the time element is future and unknown. It is often associated with "faith" and "love" (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:16). A partial list of some of Paul's uses are:

1. The Second Coming, Galatians 5:5; Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 4:4; Titus 2:13

2. Jesus is our hope, 1 Timothy 1:1

3. Trust in the gospel, Colossians 1:23

4. Ultimate salvation, Colossians 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:8

5. The glory of God, Romans 5:2, 2 Corinthians 3:12; Colossians 1:27

6. Assurance of salvation, 1 Thessalonians 5:8

7. Eternal life, Titus 1:2; Titus 3:7

8. Redemption of all creation, Romans 8:20

9. Faith, Romans 8:23-25, Romans 15:4

10. Title of God, Romans 15:13

11. Paul's desire for believers, 2 Corinthians 1:7

Romans 15:5 "may the God. . .grant" This is a rare aorist active optative, which expresses a wish or prayer. Paul's prayer, Romans 15:5-6, had two petitions.

1. to be in one mind (cf. Romans 12:16; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 2:2)

2. to be in one voice of praise (cf. Romans 15:6, Romans 15:7, Romans 15:9)

"the God who gives perseverance and encouragement" This is almost a descriptive title of God (cf. Romans 15:13; 1 Corinthians 1:3). These characteristics of God come to believers through the Scriptures (cf. Romans 15:4). See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE NEED TO PERSEVERE at Romans 8:25.

Romans 15:6 "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" This is Deity's full NT title (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:3; Colossians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3; notice a similar title in Romans 1:7). This is not the God of philosophical necessity, but of revelation. Notice the two titles of God in Paul's prayer of Romans 15:5-6.

1. the God of perseverance and encouragement

2. the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

See Special Topics: Perseverance at Romans 8:25 and Father at Romans 1:7.

Verses 7-13

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Romans 15:7-13 7Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. 8For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, 9and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written, "Therefore I will give praise to You among the Gentiles, And I will sing to Your name." 10Again he says, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people." 11And again, "Praise the Lord all you Gentiles, And let all the peoples praise Him." 12Again Isaiah says, "There shall come the root of Jesse, And He who arises to rule over the Gentiles, In Him shall the Gentiles hope." 13Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:7

NASB, TEV"accept one another" NKJV"receive one another" NRSV"welcome one another" NJB"treat each other in the same friendly way"

This is a present middle imperative. Believers must continue to accept one another because Christ accepted them! This same truth is found in Romans 14:1. However, here it introduces a series of OT passages about God accepting Gentiles (cf. Romans 15:9-12). This may have reflected the tension within the Roman Church.

Christianity is characterized by a self-giving of believers to one another (cf. Romans 1:12; Romans 12:5, Romans 12:10, Romans 12:16; Romans 13:8; Romans 14:13, Romans 14:19; Romans 15:5, Romans 15:7, Romans 15:14; Romans 16:16).

"just as Christ also accepted us" This is an aorist middle indicative. Here is the motive and impetus of the believer's actions toward others (cf. Romans 14:3). In Romans 14:0 the focus was on

1. Christ as Master and Judge, Romans 15:1-12

2. Christ as our example of self-giving love, Romans 15:13-23

Christ accepted us, we must accept others!

"to the glory of God" See note at Romans 3:23.

Romans 15:8 "Christ has become a servant to the circumcision" Jesus is God's fulfillment of OT prophecy (cf. Matthew 10:6; Matthew 15:24). This may be directed to the tension in the Roman church between believing Jews and believing Gentiles.

NASB"on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers" NKJV"for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers" NRSV"on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs" TEV"on behalf of the Jews, to show that God is faithful, to make his promises to their ancestors come true" NJB"so that God could faithfully carry out the promises made to the patriarchs"

This probably relates to God's OT covenant promises to Israel (cf. Romans 4:16). However, it could refer to God's promises to redeem all mankind (cf. Genesis 3:15, Genesis 12:3, Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 56:7; Isaiah 66:18-24). The mystery of the gospel is that God's plan has always been the unifying of Jew and Gentile through Christ (cf. Ephesians 2:11-13).

The NT message is the fulfillment of OT hopes, not something totally new. Christ's great mission was to (1) fulfill to Israel her promised hope and (2) open the door to the Gentiles (cf. Romans 3:29-30; Romans 9:30; Romans 10:11-12, Romans 10:16-20; Romans 11:25, Romans 11:32; Romans 16:25; Ephesians 2:11-21). As Israel had failed in her evangelistic mission to reveal God and to attract the Gentiles to faith, Jesus empowers a new spiritual Israel (cf. Romans 9:6; Galatians 6:16) to accomplish this universal task (cf. Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 24:47; John 3:16; Acts 1:8).

"confirm" See Special Topic at Romans 4:16.

Romans 15:9-12 This is a series of OT quotes to show that the Gentiles have always been a part of God's plan (see Special Topic: YHWH's ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN at Romans 1:5, cf. Romans 10:16-20). This is a series of OT quotes from

Romans 15:1. Romans 15:9 - Psalms 18:49 or 2 Samuel 22:50

Romans 15:2. Romans 15:10 - Deuteronomy 32:43

Romans 15:3. Romans 15:11 - Psalms 117:1

Romans 15:4. Romans 15:12 - Isaiah 11:1, Isaiah 11:10

Notice there is a quote from each section of the Hebrew canon: Law, Prophets, and Writings.

Romans 15:9 "to glorify God for His mercy" God's mercy is the theological key to Roman's predestination (cf. Romans 9:15, Romans 9:16, Romans 9:18, Romans 9:23) and Gentile inclusion (cf. Romans 11:30, Romans 11:31, Romans 11:32; Romans 15:9). It is God's mercy that saved Israel. It is God's mercy that saves believing Gentiles. The mechanism is not human performance (cf. Romans 9:0), but the gracious, unchanging character of God (cf. Exodus 34:6; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalms 103:8, Psalms 103:4; Joel 2:13) and the promise of Messiah (cf. Isaiah 11:1, Isaiah 11:10).

It is interesting that the Gentiles "glorify" God by

1. confession/praise

2. singing

When a believer sings to God, he is confessing/professing! Hymns, like creeds, are a valid way of confessing (cf. Romans 10:9-13).

Romans 15:13 "May the God of hope" This was a closing doxology to the literary unit begun in Romans 14:1. This was another wonderful title for Deity-the God of hope.

Romans 15:13 "fill you with all joy and peace" This is an aorist active optative, denoting Paul's prayer for the believers at Rome. Notice the presence of "all"(cf. Romans 5:1-2; Romans 14:17).

NASB, NKJV, NRSV"in believing," TEV"by means of your faith in Him" NJB"in your faith"

This is a present active infinitive. This expresses the confidence of perseverance by means of continuing faith in Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, resting in personal joy and peace. Faith in Christ is not only an initial response but lifestyle response.

"so that you will abound in hope" This is a present active infinitive of perisseuô, which basically means "over and above." For "hope" see note at Romans 15:4.

SPECIAL TOPIC: ABOUND (perissevô)

"by the power of the Holy Spirit" The Holy Spirit is the Person of the Trinity active in this New Age. Nothing of lasting value or effect occurs without Him (cf. Romans 15:19; 1 Corinthians 2:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:5). See Special Topics at Romans 8:9 and Romans 8:11.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. What is the central truth of Romans 14:1-13?

2. Why does Paul quote the OT passages in verses Romans 15:9-12? What great truth do they teach?

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS TO VERSES Romans 15:14-33

A. In many ways the close of this letter is similar to its opening, Romans 1:8-15

1. it extols their faith (cf. Romans 1:8)

2. it defends Paul's apostleship of the gospel to the Gentiles (cf. Romans 1:13, Romans 1:14)

3. it asserts Paul's desire to visit them (cf. Romans 1:10, Romans 1:13)

4. it expresses Paul's desire that they would help him on his way to other regions not yet evangelized (Spain, cf. Romans 1:13)

B. Again, there is a hint of the tension in the Roman Church between believing Jews and believing Gentiles which has been alluded to or hinted at throughout the letter, but especially Romans 9-11, 14: Romans 9:1-13.

C. Also there is a hint of the tension in the early church concerning Paul's apostolic standing. He seems to defend himself in Romans 15:15-19; Romans 1:2, Romans 1:5.

D. This literary unit contains two topics.

1. Paul's apostolic, evangelistic, Gentile-oriented ministry (cf. Romans 15:14-21)

2. Paul's travel plans to accomplish this purpose may take him through Rome (cf. Romans 15:22-33)

Verses 14-21

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Romans 15:14-21 14And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another. 15But I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God, 16to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest of the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 17Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God. 18For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, 19in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. 20And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man's foundation; 21but as it is written, "They who had no news of Him shall see, And they who have not heard shall understand."

Romans 15:14

NASB"And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced" NKJV"Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren" NRSV"I myself feel confident about you, my brothers and sisters" TEV"My friends: I myself feel sure that you" NJB"It is not because I have any doubts about you, my brothers, on the contrary I am quite certain that you"

The "I" (auto egô) is very emphatic in Greek. Paul is truly complimenting this church ("convinced," prefect passive indicative).

Paul asserts three things about these Roman Christians in Romans 15:14.

1. they are full of goodness (present active indicative)

2. they are full of knowledge (perfect passive participle)

3. they are able to admonish one another present passive participle

This verse implies that Paul is not bringing a new message to them, but explaining and clarifying the good news which they already had heard and accepted (cf. Romans 15:15).

"you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all" As the "I myself" is emphatic in the first phrase, "you yourselves" is emphatic here. The term "full" (mestos) means "full of" or "replete." Paul used this term only twice, both times in Romans (Romans 15:1:29; Romans 15:14).

The term "filled" (plçroô) is a perfect passive participle. Paul used this term often in Romans (cf. Romans 1:29; Romans 8:4; Romans 13:8; Romans 15:13, Romans 15:14, Romans 15:19). He also uses the noun plçrôma often in Romans (cf. Romans 11:12, Romans 11:25; Romans 13:10; Romans 15:29), but never the adjective in any of his writings.

It was Paul's desire that a full gospel completely fill believers to overflow in love and service. Believers have all they need in Christ. They need to fully accept and receive this assurance.

"full of goodness, filled with all knowledge" There are two ways to understand these terms: (1) that they relate contextually to the immediately preceding literary unit of Romans 14:1-13-the believer's love for each other amidst the differences between Christians in the ambiguous biblical areas. This may be confirmed by the general use of the term "good" in Romans 14:16; Romans 15:2 and here or (2) that it relate to the whole gospel of faith and practice, orthodoxy, and orthopraxy.

"able to admonish one another" The church is designed by God to encourage and admonish each other (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:7; Colossians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:15). We are saved to serve, to serve God by serving one another! We are to live for the health and growth of the body!

Romans 15:15 "I have written very boldly to you" Paul wrote his letter to the Romans from Corinth. He was attacked by one of the factions in that church for being bold in his letters, but weak in person. This verb form of the word "boldly" is found in 2 Corinthians 10:2, 2 Corinthians 10:12; 2 Corinthians 11:21. Paul's boldness came from his conversion, call, and knowledge of the gospel.

"because of the grace that was given me from God" Paul refers to the grace of God (cf. Romans 1:5; Romans 12:3; 1 Corinthians 3:10; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 2:9; and Ephesians 3:7-8) which called him, saved him, gifted him, and sent him to the Gentiles (cf. Romans 11:13; Romans 15:16). It is a way of asserting his apostleship and authority (cf. Romans 1:1, Romans 1:5).

Romans 15:16 "minister. . .ministering. . .offering. . .acceptable" Verses Romans 15:16 and 17 contain several priestly terms and phrases. "Minister" is used of priestly service in Romans 15:27. It is used of Christ's service in Hebrews 8:2. Paul saw himself as a priest (cf. Philippians 2:17) offering the Gentiles to God, which was Israel's task (cf. Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 66:20). The church has been given this evangelistic assignment (cf. Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8). The church is called by OT priesthood terms in 1 Peter 2:5, 1 Peter 2:9 and Revelation 1:6.

"the gospel of God It is not only the gospel of Jesus (cf. Mark 1:1; Romans 1:16; Romans 15:19; 1 Corinthians 9:12, 1 Corinthians 9:18; 2 Corinthians 2:12; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 2 Corinthians 9:13; 2 Corinthians 10:14; Galatians 1:7, etc.), but also can rightfully be called "the gospel of God" (cf. Mark 1:14; Romans 15:16; 2 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:2, 1 Thessalonians 2:8, 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Peter 4:17). It is the culmination of the heart of God promised from Genesis 3:15; Genesis 12:3; Exodus 19:5-6 and prophesied so often in Isaiah (i.e., Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 51:4, Isaiah 51:5).

"sanctified by the Holy Spirit" This is a perfect passive participle meaning, "have been and continue to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit." This may again reflect the tension between Jewish and Gentile believers in the Roman church. Paul stated clearly that the nations (Gentiles) had been and continue to be fully accepted and consecrated by the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:11).

Romans 15:17-19 Notice the unified action of the Triune God: to God (cf. v. Romans 15:17); in Christ (cf. Romans 15:17); and in the power of the Spirit (cf. Romans 15:19). Notice also the three Persons of the godhead in Romans 15:30. Although the term "Trinity" is not biblical, the concept is (cf. Matthew 3:16-17; Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:33-34; Romans 8:9-10; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 2 Corinthians 1:21; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 1:3-14; Ephesians 4:4-6; Titus 3:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2). See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE TRINITY at Romans 8:11.

Romans 15:18-19 Paul listed the different ways his Gentile ministry had been effective (1) by word; (2) by deed; (3) in signs; (4) in wonders; and (5) all through the power of the Spirit.

Just a note about a manuscript variation related to #5, "the Spirit" (i.e., MS B): some Greek texts add "the Holy Spirit" (i.e., MSS A, D*), some have "the Spirit of God" (i.e., MSS P46, א, D1). As with so many of these variations, this addition, or uninspired clarification, does not affect the truth of the passage. It was usually an attempt to standardize the phrasing of the NT by later scribes who copied the text. UBS4 gives "Spirit of God" a "C" rating (difficulty in deciding).

Romans 15:18 "resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles" God's goal has always been a people who reflect His character. The gospel of Jesus restores the image of God lost in the Fall of Genesis 3:0. Intimate fellowship with God is evidenced by godly character. The goal of Christianity is fellowship with God and Christlikeness, now!

"by word and deed" This referred to Paul's ministry, not the obedience of the Roman Christians. It is obviously linked to the power of the Spirit in Romans 15:19.

Romans 15:19 "in the power of signs and wonders" These two terms appear together many times in Acts (cf. Acts 14:8-10; Acts 16:16-18, Acts 16:25-26; Acts 20:9-12; Acts 28:8-9), describing God's power working through the gospel (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:12). They appear to be synonymous. Exactly to what this referred-miracles or conversion-is uncertain. Here again, this may be a hint at the tension over Paul's apostleship. As God confirmed the work of the Twelve in Jerusalem, He also confirmed the work of Paul among the Gentiles by means of observable signs.

"I have fully preached the gospel of Christ" This is a perfect active infinitive of plçroô (cf. Romans 15:14). This implies that Paul believed he had finished his preaching task in the eastern Mediterranean (cf. Romans 15:23).

"as far as Illyricum" This Roman province, also known as Dalmatia, was located on the eastern side of the Adriatic Sea north west of the Grecian peninsula (Macedonia). Acts never records Paul as preaching there but it does put him in the area (cf. Rom. 20:1-2). "As far as" could mean "on the border of" or "in the region of."

Romans 15:20 "And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named" This was Paul's consistent missionary strategy (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:10; 2 Corinthians 10:15-16). He wanted to reach the pagans who had never had the chance to hear and receive the gospel. He usually picked large, strategically located cities of the Roman Empire so that the established church could evangelize and disciple their surrounding areas.

Romans 15:21 This is a quote from the Septuagint (LXX) of Isaiah 52:15 which speaks of the Gentiles hearing about God. Paul chose this prophecy as his missionary strategy.

Verses 22-29

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Romans 15:22-29 22For this reason I have often been prevented from coming to you; 23but now, with no further place for me in these regions, and since I have had for many years a longing to come to you 24whenever I go to Spain- for I hope to see you in passing, and to be helped on my way there by you, when I have first enjoyed your company for a while-25but now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints. 26For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. 27Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things. 28Therefore, when I have finished this, and have put my seal on this fruit of theirs, I will go on by way of you to Spain. 29I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.

Romans 15:22 "For this reason" This reason is explained in Romans 15:20.

"I have often been prevented" This is an imperfect passive indicative. He was prevented again and again (cf. Romans 1:13). The agency was not stated. It could have been God, Satan, evil people, or other gospel opportunities.

Remember Paul wrote Romans while he was in Corinth. In Corinth Paul's opponents attacked him because he had not been able to fulfill his travel plans. Paul was surely affected by the attacks from within the Corinthian church. He may have mentioned that his travel plan had been thwarted again and again.

Romans 15:23 "but now, with no further place for me in these regions" This verse must be taken in the limited geographical sense of Asia Minor or the Eastern Mediterranean area. Paul had not preached to everyone, everywhere in these areas, but only to some.

"and since I have had for many years a longing to come to see you" Paul had often expressed his desire to visit Rome (cf. Romans 1:10-15; Acts 19:21; Acts 23:11).

There is a Greek manuscript variant at this point that is not listed in the UBS4 critical footnotes. The ancient Greek manuscripts MSS P46, א, A, D, F, G & L have "many" (polus) which is used in Romans 15:22, but MSS B, C & P have "several" (ikanos). Possibly later scribes were bothered by Paul's overstatement.

Romans 15:24 "whenever I go to Spain" Paul wanted to go to the western region of the Roman Empire (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:16). He was released from Roman imprisonment after the close of Acts and went on a fourth missionary journey. The Pastorals (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus) were written on this fourth journey. There is possibly a reference to this in 2 Timothy 4:10 where some Greek uncial manuscripts, א, C and the Latin Vulgate and Coptic translations, have "Gaul." Clement of Rome (see Ad. Cor. Romans 5:7), who wrote before the end of the first century, in his "Letter to the Corinthians," Romans 5:7, also asserts that Paul traveled to the "bounds of the West."

"and to be helped on my way there by you," This phrase became a technical idiom in the church for helping itinerant missionaries to their next preaching destination (cf. Acts 15:3; 1 Corinthians 16:6, 1 Corinthians 16:11; 2 Corinthians 1:16; Titus 3:13; 3 John 1:6). Rome was not able to contribute to the relief fund for the church in Jerusalem, but they could be a financial help for Paul's missionary travels to the west.

Romans 15:25 "serving the saints" This term is often used in connection with raising money (cf. Romans 15:31; 1 Corinthians 16:15; 2 Corinthians 8:4; 2 Corinthians 9:1). See SPECIAL TOPIC: SAINTS at Romans 1:7.

Romans 15:26 "a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem" Paul had been receiving this collection (see Special Topic: Koinônia at Romans 12:13) for several years from (1) Galatia and Asia Minor (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:1-4), and (2) Macedonia and Achaia (cf. Romans 15:2 Corinthians 8-9). He got the idea from the church at Antioch (cf. Acts 11:30; Acts 12:25). It was meant to help unify the two wings of the early church-Jew and Gentile. The Gentile churches are described as "delighted" to do it (cf. Romans 15:26 and 27). See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: HUNGER

Romans 15:27 "if" This is a first class conditional sentence which was assumed to be true from the writer's perspective or for his literary purpose. If the Gentiles share in the spiritual blessings of the Jews (cf. Rom. 10-11) they should help in the physical need of the mother church in Jerusalem.

Romans 15:28

NASB"when I have furnished this, and have put my seal on this fruit of theirs" NKJV"when I have performed this and have sealed to them this fruit" NRSV"when I have completed this, and have delivered to them what has been collected" TEV"when I have finished this task and have turned over to them all the money that has been raised for them" NJB"So when I have done this and officially handed over what has been raised"

This is an aorist active participle and an aorist middle participle. This literally alludes to the common way of sealing a package to assure the safety of its contents. This may be a way for Paul to assert that all the money given would be sent and received. To assure this he also took with him several representatives from the contributing churches (cf. Acts 20:4).

For "seal" see Special Topic at Romans 4:11.

Romans 15:29 Notice the word plçroô / plçrôma is used again. See note at Romans 15:14.

"of the blessing of Christ" This phrase refers to the blessing that the preaching/teaching of the gospel brings. It does not refer to a prayer in this context.

Some ancient Greek texts tried to clarify this understanding by adding a phrase, "the blessing of the gospel of Christ" (MS A2, NKJV). The shorter text is found in MSS א*, A, B, C, D, F, G, P. The UBS4 gives the shorter reading an "A" rating (certain).

Verses 30-33

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Romans 15:30-33 30Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, 31that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints; 32so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God and find refreshing rest in your company. 33Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Romans 15:30 "I urge you. . .to strive together with me" These are strong Greek terms. The first is also used in Romans 12:1. The second is used of Jesus' struggle in Gethsemane. Paul sensed a deep need for prayer for himself and his gospel ministry (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:11; Ephesians 6:18-20; Colossians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1). His experience in Jerusalem proved to be difficult (cf. Romans 15:31). He arrived in Rome, but not in the way he had envisioned. See Special Topic: Intercessory Prayer at Romans 9:3.

Romans 15:30-33 Paul's prayer expresses three desires.

1. that he might be delivered from his enemies in Judah (cf. Acts 20:22-23)

2. that the gift from the Gentile churches would be received well by the church in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15:1ff; Acts 21:17ff)

3. that he might then come visit Rome on his way to Spain

Romans 15:30 "to strive together with me" This term is used only here in the NT. It is a compound of sun (together with) and agônizomai (to contend, to fight, to strive earnestly, cf. 1 Corinthians 9:25; Colossians 1:29; Colossians 4:12; 1 Timothy 4:10; 1 Timothy 6:12). This strong infinitive calls on the Roman church to aggressively agonize with Paul in prayer about the reception of the Gentile offering by the mother church in Jerusalem.

Romans 15:31 "who are disobedient" This refers to the Jewish opposition or possibly the Judaizers, but not the church in general (cf. Romans 11:30, Romans 11:31).

Romans 15:32 Paul's prayer ends with two more requests: (1) he might come to them in joy and (2) he might have a time of rest with them (aorist middle [deponent] subjunctive of sunanapauomai, only here in the NT, but used in Isaiah 11:6. Paul quoted Isaiah 11:1, Isaiah 11:10 in Romans 15:12). Paul needs a time of quiet rest and recuperation among mature believers (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:7-12; 2 Corinthians 6:3-10; 2 Corinthians 11:23-33)! He did not get it, however. Arrest and trials and years in prison awaited him in Palestine.

This verse has many manuscript variants.

Romans 15:33 "the God of peace" This is a wonderful title for God (cf. Romans 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 4:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:16; Hebrews 13:20).

"Amen" See Special Topic at Romans 1:25.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Romans 15". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/romans-15.html. 2021.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile