Romans 15

CHAPTER XV.

The strong should bear the infirmities of the weak, and each

strive to please, not himself, but his neighbour, after the

example of Christ, 1-3.

Whatsoever was written in old times was written for our

learning, 4.

We should be of one mind, that we might with one mouth glorify

God, 5, 6.

We should accept each other as Christ has accepted us, 7.

Scriptural proofs that Jesus Christ was not only the minister

of the circumcision, but came also for the salvation of the

Gentiles, 8-12.

The God of hope can fill us with all peace and joy in

believing, 13.

Character of the Church of Rome, 14.

The reason why the apostle wrote so boldly to the Church in

that city-what God had wrought by him, and what he purposed

to do, 15-24.

He tells them of his intended journey to Jerusalem, with a

contribution to the poor saints-a sketch of this journey, 25-29.

He commends himself to their prayers, 30-33.

NOTES ON CHAP. XV.

Verse 1. We then that are strong] The sense of this verse is

supposed to be the following: We, Gentile Christians, who

perfectly understand the nature of our Gospel liberty, not only

lawfully may, but are bound in duty to bear any inconveniences

that may arise from the scruples of the weaker brethren, and to

ease their consciences by prudently abstaining from such

indifferent things as may offend and trouble them; and not take

advantage from our superior knowledge to make them submit to our

judgment.

Verse 2. Let every one of us please his neighbour] For it

should be a maxim with each of us to do all in our power to please

our brethren; and especially in those things in which their

spiritual edification is concerned. Though we should not indulge

men in mere whims and caprices, yet we should bear with their

ignorance and their weakness, knowing that others had much to bear

with from us before we came to our present advanced state of

religious knowledge.

Verse 3. For even Christ pleased not himself] Christ never

acted as one who sought his own ease or profit; he not only bore

with the weakness, but with the insults, of his creatures; as it

is written in Ps 69:9:

The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me-I not only

bore their insults, but bore the punishment due to them for their

vicious and abominable conduct. That this Psalm refers to the

Messiah and his sufferings for mankind is evident, not only from

the quotation here, but also from Joh 19:28, 29, when our Lord's

receiving the vinegar during his expiatory suffering is said to be

a fulfilling of the scripture, viz. of verse 21 of this very Psalm;

Ps 69:21 and his cleansing the temple, Joh 2:15-17, is said to

be a fulfilment of Ps 69:9:

For the zeal of thy house hath eaten me up, the former part of

which verse the apostle quotes here.

Verse 4. For whatsoever things were written aforetime] This

refers not only to the quotation from the 69th Psalm, but to all

the Old Testament scriptures; for it can be to no other scriptures

that the apostle alludes. And, from what he says here of them, we

learn that God had not intended them merely for those generations

in which they were first delivered, but for the instruction of all

the succeeding generations of mankind. That we, through patience

and comfort of the scriptures-that we, through those remarkable

examples of patience exhibited by the saints and followers of God,

whose history is given in those scriptures, and the comfort which

they derived from God in their patient endurance of sufferings

brought upon them through their faithful attachment to truth and

righteousness, might have hope that we shall be upheld and blessed

as they were, and our sufferings become the means of our greater

advances in faith and holiness, and consequently our hope of

eternal glory be the more confirmed. Some think that the word

παρακλησις, which we translate comfort, should be rendered

exhortation; but there is certainly no need here to leave the

usual acceptation of the term, as the word comfort makes a regular

and consistent sense with the rest of the verse.

Verse 5. Now the God of patience and consolation] May that

God who endued them with patience, and gave them the consolation

that supported them in all their trials and afflictions, grant you

to be like-minded-give you the same mode of thinking, and the same

power of acting towards each other, according to the example of

Christ.

Verse 6. That ye-Jews and Gentiles-may with one mind]

Thinking the same things, and bearing with each other, after the

example of Christ; and one mouth, in all your religious

assemblies, without jarring or contentions, glorify God for

calling you into such a state of salvation, and showing himself to

be your loving compassionate Father, as he is the Father of our

Lord Jesus Christ.

It is very likely that the apostle refers here to religious

acts in public worship, which might have been greatly interrupted

by the dissensions between the converted Jews and the converted

Gentiles; these differences he labours to compose; and, after

having done all that was necessary in the way of instruction and

exhortation, he now pours out his soul to God, who alone could

rule and manage the heart, that he would enable them to think the

same things, to be of the same judgment, and that all, feeling

their obligation to him, might join in the sweetest harmony in

every act of religious worship.

Verse 7. Wherefore receive ye one another] προσλαμβανεσθε.

Have the most affectionate regard for each other, and acknowledge

each other as the servants and children of God Almighty.

As Christ also received us] καθωςκαιοχριστοςπροσελαβετο

ημας. In the same manner, and with the same cordial affection, as

Christ has received us into communion with himself, and has made

us partakers of such inestimable blessings, condescending to be

present in all our assemblies. And as Christ has received us thus

to the glory of God, so should we, Jews and Gentiles, cordially

receive each other, that God's glory may be promoted by our

harmony and brotherly love.

Verse 8. Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision] To

show the Gentiles the propriety of bearing with the scrupulous

Jews, he shows them here that they were under the greatest

obligations to this people; to whom, in the days of his flesh,

Jesus Christ confined his ministry; giving the world to see that

he allowed the claim of the Jews as having the first right to the

blessings of the Gospel. And he confined his ministry thus to the

Jews, to confirm the truth of God, contained in the promises made

unto the patriarchs; for God had declared that thus it should be;

and Jesus Christ, by coming according to the promise, has

fulfilled this truth, by making good the promises: therefore,

salvation is of the Jews, as a kind of right conveyed to them

through the promises made to their fathers. But this salvation

was not exclusively designed for the Jewish people; as God by his

prophets had repeatedly declared.

Verse 9. And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his

mercy] As the Jews were to glorify God for his truth, so the

Gentiles were to glorify God for his mercy. The Jews received the

blessings of the Gospel by right of promise, which promise God had

most punctually and circumstantially fulfilled. The Gentiles had

received the same Gospel as an effect of God's mere mercy, having

no right in consequence of any promise or engagement made with any

of their ancestors, though they were originally included in the

covenant made with Abraham; and the prophets had repeatedly

declared that they should be made equal partakers of those

blessings with the Jews themselves; as the apostle proceeds to

prove.

I will confess to thee among the Gentiles] This quotation is

taken from Ps 18:49, and shows that the Gentiles had a right to

glorify God for his mercy to them; and we shall see the strength

of this saying farther, when we consider a maxim of the Jews

delivered in Megillah, fol. 14: "From the time that the children

of Israel entered into the promised land, no Gentile had any right

to sing a hymn of praise to God. But after that the Israelites

were led into captivity, then the Gentiles began to have a right

to glorify God." Thus the Jews themselves confess that the

Gentiles have a right to glorify God; and this on account of being

made partakers of his grace and mercy. And if, says Schoettgen,

we have a right to glorify God, then it follows that our worship

must be pleasing to him; and if it be pleasing to him, then it

follows that this worship must be good, otherwise God could not be

pleased with it.

Dr. Taylor gives a good paraphrase of this and the three

following verses: As you Jews glorify God for his truth, so the

Gentiles have a right to join with you in glorifying God for his

mercy. And you have Scripture authority for admitting them to

such fellowship; for instance, David says, Ps 18:49,

Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the

Gentiles, and sing praises unto thy name. And again, Moses

himself says, De 32:43,

Rejoice, O ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, it is

evident, from Ps 117:1, 2, that praise to God is not to be

confined to the Jews only, but that all people, as they all share

in his goodness, should also join in thanks to their common benefactor:

O praise the Lord, all ye nations, (Gentiles,) praise him all ye

people; for his merciful kindness is great towards us; and the

truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Again the Prophet Isaiah

expressly and clearly declares, Isa 11:10,

There shall be a root of Jesse, (that is, the Messiah,) and he

shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, and in him shall the

Gentiles hope: ελπιουσιν. And thus the apostle proves, both to

the Jews and to the Gentiles, who were probably unwilling to join

with each other in religious fellowship, that they had both an

equal right to glorify God, being equally interested in his mercy,

goodness, and truth; and that, from the evidence of the above

scriptures, the Gentiles had as much right to hope in Christ, for

the full enjoyment of his kingdom, as the Jews had: and, taking

occasion from the last word hope, ελπιουσιν, which we improperly

translate trust, he pours out his heart in the following

affectionate prayer.

Verse 13. Now the God of hope, &c.] οδεθεοςτηςελπιδος,

May the God of this hope-that God who caused both Jews and

Gentiles to hope that the gracious promises which he made to them

should be fulfilled; and who, accordingly, has fulfilled them in

the most punctual and circumstantial manner;

Fill you with all joy] Give you true spiritual happiness;

peace in your own hearts, and unity among yourselves; in believing

not only the promises which he has given you, but believing in

Christ Jesus, in whom all the promises are yea and amen.

That ye may abound in hope] That ye may be excited to take

more enlarged views of the salvation which God has provided for

you, and have all your expectations fulfilled by the power of the

Holy Ghost, enabling you to hope and believe; and then sealing

the fulfilment of the promises upon your hearts.

Verse 14. And I-am persuaded of you] This is supposed to be

an address to the Gentiles; and it is managed with great delicacy:

he seems to apologize for the freedom he had used in writing to

them; which he gives them to understand proceeded from the

authority he had received by his apostolical office, the exercise

of which office respected them particularly. So they could not be

offended when they found themselves so particularly distinguished.

Ye-are full of goodness] Instead of αγαθωσυνης, goodness, some

MSS. of good repute have αγαπης, love. In this connection both

words seem to mean nearly the same thing. They were so full of

goodness and love that they were disposed, of themselves, to

follow any plan that might be devised, in order to bring about the

most perfect understanding between them and their Jewish brethren.

Filled with all knowledge] So completely instructed in the mind

and design of God, relative to their calling, and the fruit which

they were to bring forth to the glory of God, that they were well

qualified to give one another suitable exhortations on every

important point.

Instead of αλληλους, one another, several MSS. have αλλους,

others, which gives a clearer sense: for, if they were all filled

with knowledge, there was little occasion for them to admonish

one another; but by this they were well qualified to admonish

others-to impart the wisdom they had to those who were less

instructed.

Verse 15. Nevertheless-I have written] Not withstanding I

have this conviction of your extensive knowledge in the things of

God, I have made bold to write to you in some sort, απομερους,

to a party among you, as some learned men translate the words, who

stand more in need of such instructions than the others; and I do

this, because of the grace, διατηνχαριν-because of the office

which I have received from God, namely, to be the apostle of the

Gentiles. This authority gave him full right to say, advise, or

enjoin any thing which he judged to be of importance to their

spiritual interests. This subject he pursues farther in the

following verse.

Verse 16. Ministering the Gospel of God] ιερουργουντα,

Acting as a priest. Here is a plain allusion, says Dr. Whitby, to

the Jewish sacrifices offered by the priest, and sanctified or

made acceptable by the libamen offered with them; for he compares

himself, in preaching the Gospel, to the priest performing his

sacred functions-preparing his sacrifice to be offered. The

Gentiles, converted by him and dedicated to the service of God,

are his sacrifices and oblation. The Holy Spirit is the libamen

poured upon this sacrifice, by which it was sanctified and

rendered acceptable to God. The words of Isaiah, Isa 66:20,

And they shall bring all your brethren for an OFFERING unto the

Lord, out of all NATIONS, might have suggested the above idea to

the mind of the apostle.

Verse 17. I here therefore whereof I may glory] Being sent of

God on this most honourable and important errand, I have matter of

great exultation, not only in the honour which he has conferred

upon me, but in the great success with which he has crowned my

ministry.

Verse 18. For I will not dare to speak] If the thing were not

as I have stated it, I would not dare to arrogate to myself

honours which did not belong to me. But God has made me the

apostle of the Gentiles; and the conversion of the Gentiles is the

fruit of my ministry, Christ having wrought by me for this

purpose.

By word and deed] λογωκαιεργω. These words may refer to the

doctrines which he taught and to the miracles which he wrought

among them. So they became obedient to the doctrines, on the

evidence of the miracles with which they were accompanied.

Verse 19. Through mighty signs and wonders] This more fully

explains the preceding clause: through the power of the Holy Ghost

he was enabled to work among the Gentiles mighty signs and

wonders; so that they were fully convinced that both his doctrine

and mission were Divine; and therefore they cheerfully received

the Gospel of the Lord Jesus.

Round about unto Illyricum] Among ancient writers this place

has gone by a great variety of names, Illyria, Illyrica,

Illyricum, Illyris, and Illyrium. It is a country of Europe,

extending from the Adriatic gulf to Pannonia: according to Pliny,

it extended from the river Arsia to the river Drinius, thus

including Liburnia on the west, and Dalmatia on the east. Its

precise limits have not been determined by either ancient or

modern geographers. It seems, according to an inscription in

Gruter, to have been divided by Augustus into two provinces, the

upper and lower. It now forms part of Croatia, Bosnia, Istria,

and Slavonia. When the apostle says that he preached the Gospel

from Jerusalem round about to Illyricum, he intends his land

journeys chiefly; and, by looking at the map annexed to the Acts

of the Apostles, the reader will see that from Jerusalem the

apostle went round the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and

that he passed through Syria, Phoenicia, Arabia, Cilicia,

Pamphylia, Pisidia, Lycaonia, Galatia, Pontus, Paphlagonia,

Phrygia, Troas, Asia, Caria, Lycia, lonia, Lydia, Thrace,

Macedonia, Thessaly, and Achaia; besides the isles of Cyprus and

Crete. And no doubt he visited many other places which are not

mentioned in the New Testament.

I have fully preached the Gospel] πεπληρωκεναιτοευαγγελιον,

I have successfully preached-I have not only proclaimed the word,

but made converts and founded Churches.

See Clarke on Mt 5:17,

where this sense of the word πληρουν is noticed; for it signifies

not only fully or perfectly, but also to teach with prosperity

and success.

Verse 20. So have I strived to preach the Gospel] ουτωδε

φιλοτιμουμενον. For I have considered it my honour to preach the

Gospel where that Gospel was before unknown. This is the proper

import of the word φιλοτιμεισθαι; from φιλος, a friend, and

τιμη, honour. As I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, so I

esteem it an honour to preach it, and especially to proclaim it

among the heathen; not building on another man's foundation-not

watering what another apostle had planted; but cheerfully exposing

myself to all kinds of dangers and hardships, in order to found

new Churches.

Verse 21. But as it is written] These words, quoted from

Isa 52:15, the apostle applies to his own conduct; not that the

words themselves predicted what Paul had done, but that he

endeavoured to fulfil such a declaration by his manner of

preaching the Gospel to the heathen.

Verse 22. For which cause, &c.] My considering it a point of

honour to build on no other man's foundation; and, finding that

the Gospel has been long ago planted at Rome, I have been

prevented from going thither, purposing rather to spend my time

and strength in preaching where Christ has not, as yet, been

proclaimed.

Verse 23. But-having no more place in these parts] Having

nothing farther at present that I can do-for τοπονεχειν signifies

not merely to have a place of residence, or the like, but

convenience, opportunity; which is a frequent meaning of the

phrase among the best Greek writers-having no large place or city,

where Christianity has not yet been planted, in which I can

introduce the Gospel. The apostle was then at Corinth; and having

evangelized all those parts, he had no opportunity of breaking up

any new ground.

Verse 24. Whensoever I take my journey into Spain] Where it

is very likely the Gospel had not yet been planted; though

legendary tales inform us that St. James had planted the Gospel

there long before this time, and had founded many bishoprics! But

this is as unfounded as it is ridiculous and absurd; for nothing

like what is now termed a bishopric, nor even a parish, was

founded for many years after this. An itinerant preacher, might,

with more propriety, say travelling circuits were formed, rather

than bishoprics. Whether the apostle ever fulfilled his design of

going to Spain is unknown; but there is no evidence whatever that

he did, and the presumption is that he did not undertake this

voyage. Antiquity affords no proof that he fulfilled his

intention.

I will come to you] ελευσομαιπροςυμας. These words are

wanting in almost every MS. of note, and in the Syriac of Erpen,

Coptic, Vulgate, Ethiopic, Armenian, and Itala. If the first

clause of this verse be read in connection with the latter clause

of the preceding, it will fully appear that this rejected clause

is useless. Having a great desire, these many years to come unto

you whensoever I take my journey into Spain: for I trust to see

you in my journey, &c.

Somewhat filled with your company.] The word εμπλησθω, which we

translate filled, would be better rendered gratified; for

εμπλησθηναι signifies to be satisfied, to be gratified, and to

enjoy. AELIAN., Hist. Anim., lib. v., c. 21, speaking of the

peacock spreading out his beautiful plumage, says: εαγαρ

εμπλησθηναιτηςθεοςτονπαρεστωτα. "He readily permits the

spectator to gratify himself by viewing him." And MAXIMUS TYRIUS,

Dissert. 41, page 413: "That he may behold the heavens, και

εμπλησθηλαμπρουφωτος, and be gratified with the splendour of the

light." HOMER uses the word in the same sense:-

ηδεμηουδεπερυιοςενιπλησθηναιακοιτις

οφθαλμοισινεασε. Odyss., lib. xi., ver. 451.

"But my wife never suffered my eyes to be delighted with my son."

The apostle, though he had not the honour of having planted the

Church at Rome, yet expected much gratification from the visit

which he intended to pay them.

Verse 25. Now I go unto Jerusalem] From this and the two

following verses we learn that the object of his journey to

Jerusalem was, to carry a contribution made among the Gentile

Christians of Macedonia and Achaia for the relief of the poor

Jewish Christians at Jerusalem. About this affair he had taken

great pains, as appears from 1Co 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 8, and 9. His

design in this affair is very evident from 2Co 9:12, 13, where he

says: The administration of this service not only supplieth the

want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto

God; whiles, by the experiment of this ministration, they glorify

God for your professed subjection unto the Gospel of Christ, and

for your liberal distribution unto them and unto all men. The

apostle was in hopes that this liberal contribution, sent by the

Gentile Christians who had been converted by St. Paul's ministry,

would engage the affections of the Jewish Christians, who had been

much prejudiced against the reception of the Gentiles into the

Church, without being previously obliged to submit to the yoke of

the law. He wished to establish a coalition between the converted

Jews and Gentiles, being sensible of its great importance to the

spread of the Gospel; and his procuring this contribution was one

laudable device to accomplish this good end. And this shows why

he so earnestly requests the prayers of the Christians at Rome,

that his service which he had for Jerusalem might be accepted of

the saints. See Dr. Taylor.

Verse 27. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers, &c.]

It was through and by means of the Jews that the Gentiles were

brought to the knowledge of God and the Gospel of Christ. These

were the spiritual things which they had received; and the

pecuniary contribution was the carnal things which the Gentiles

were now returning.

Verse 28. When, therefore, I have performed this] Service,

and have sealed-faithfully delivered up, to them this fruit, of

the success of my ministry and of your conversion to God, I will

come by you into Spain: this was in his desire; he had fully

purposed it, if God should see meet to permit him; but it does not

appear that he ever went. See Ro 15:24.

Verse 29. In the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of

Christ.] The words τουευαγγελιουτου, of the Gospel, are

wanting in almost every MS. of importance. Griesbach has left

them out of the text. There is no doubt they should be omitted.

The fulness of the blessing of Christ is really more than the

fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ. He hoped to come

to them not only with the blessing of the Gospel, but endued with

the gifts and graces of the Lord Jesus himself; which he was now a

constant instrument, in the hand of God, to dispense among those

who were converted to the Christian faith.

Verse 30. For the love of the Spirit] By that love of God

which the Holy Spirit sheds abroad in your hearts.

That ye strive together] συναγωνισασθαι That ye agonize with

me. He felt that much depended on the success of his present

mission to the Christians at Jerusalem, and their acceptance of

the charitable contribution which he was bringing with him, in

order to conciliate them to the reception of the Gentiles into the

Church of God without obliging them to submit to circumcision.

Verse 31. That I may be delivered from them that do not

believe] He knew that his countrymen, who had not received the

Gospel, lay in wait for his life; and, no doubt, they thought they

should do God service by destroying him, not only as an apostate,

in their apprehension, from the Jewish religion, but as one who

was labouring to subvert and entirely destroy it.

And that my service] διακονια. But several eminent MSS. read

δωροφορια, the gift which I bear. This probably was a gloss,

which in many MSS. subverted the word in the text; for διακονια,

service, in its connection here, could refer to nothing else but

the contribution which he was carrying to the poor saints at

Jerusalem.

Verse 32. That I may come unto you with joy] That his

apprehensions of ill usage were not groundless, and the danger to

which his life was exposed, real, we have already seen in the

account given of this visit, Acts 21, 22, 23, and 24; and that he

had such intimations from the Holy Spirit himself appears from

Ac 20:23; 21:11; 20:38. Should his journey to Jerusalem be

prosperous, and his service accepted, so that the converted Jews

and Gentiles should come to a better understanding, he hoped to

see them at Rome with great joy: and if he got his wishes

gratified through their prayers, it would be the full proof that

this whole business had been conducted according to the will of God.

Verse 33. The God of peace be with you] The whole object of

the epistle is to establish peace between the believing Jews and

Gentiles, and to show them their mutual obligations, and the

infinite mercy of God to both; and now he concludes with praying

that the God of peace-he from whom it comes, and by whom it is

preserved-may be for ever with them. The word Amen, at the end,

does not appear to have been written by the apostle: it is wanting

in some of the most ancient MSS.

1. IN the preceding chapters the apostle enjoins a very hard,

but a very important and necessary, duty-that of bearing with each

other, and endeavouring to think and let think, in those religious

matters which are confessedly not essential to the salvation of

the soul. Most of the disputes among Christians have been

concerning non-essential points. Rites and ceremonies, even in

the simple religion of Christ, have contributed their part in

promoting those animosities by which Christians have been divided.

Forms in worship and sacerdotal garments have not been without

their influence in this general disturbance. Each side has been

ready to take out of the 14th and 15th chapters of this epistle

such expressions as seemed suitable to their own case; but few

have been found who have taken up the whole. You believe that a

person who holds such and such opinions is wrong: pity him and set

him right, lovingly, if possible. He believes you to be wrong

because you do not hold those points; he must bear with you. Both

of you stand precisely on the same ground, and are mutually

indebted to mutual forbearance.

2. Beware of contentions in religion, if you dispute concerning

any of its doctrines, let it be to find out truth; not to support

a preconceived and pre-established opinion. Avoid all polemical

heat and rancour; these prove the absence of the religion of

Christ. Whatever does not lead you to love God and man more, is

most assuredly from beneath. The God of peace is the author of

Christianity; and the Prince of peace, the priest and sacrifice of

it: therefore love one another, and leave off contention before it

be meddled with. On this subject the advice of the pious Mr.

Herbert is good:-

Be calm in arguing; for fierceness makes

Error a fault, and truth discourtesy.

Why should I feel another man's mistakes

More than his sickness or his poverty?

In love I should; but anger is not love;

Nor wisdom neither:-therefore g-e-n-t-l-y m-o-v-e.

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