Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Ro 15:1-13. Same Subject Continued and Concluded.
1. We then that are strong—on such points as have been discussed, the abolition of the Jewish distinction of meats and days under the Gospel. See on Ro 14:14; Ro 14:20.
ought … not to please ourselves—ought to think less of what we may lawfully do than of how our conduct will affect others.
Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.
2, 3. Let every one of us—lay himself out to
please his neighbour—not indeed for his mere gratification, but
for his good—with a view
to his edification.
For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
3. For even Christ pleased not—lived not to please
himself; but, as it is written—(Ps 69:9).
The reproaches, &c.—see Mr 10:42-45.
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
4. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning—"instruction"
through, &c.—"through the comfort and the patience of the Scriptures"
might have hope—that is, "Think not that because such portions of Scripture relate immediately to Christ, they are inapplicable to you; for though Christ's sufferings, as a Saviour, were exclusively His own, the motives that prompted them, the spirit in which they were endured, and the general principle involved in His whole work—self-sacrifice for the good of others—furnish our most perfect and beautiful model; and so all Scripture relating to these is for our instruction; and since the duty of forbearance, the strong with the weak, requires 'patience,' and this again needs 'comfort,' all those Scriptures which tell of patience and consolation, particularly of the patience of Christ, and of the consolation which sustained Him under it, are our appointed and appropriate nutriment, ministering to us 'hope' of that blessed day when these shall no more be needed." See on Ro 4:7, Note 7. (For the same connection between "patience and hope" see on Ro 12:12, and 1Th 1:3).
Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
5, 6. Now the God of patience and consolation—Such beautiful names of God are taken from the graces which He inspires: as "the God of hope" (Ro 15:13), "the God of peace" (Ro 15:33).
grant you to be likeminded—"of the same mind"
according to Christ Jesus—It is not mere unanimity which the apostle seeks for them; for unanimity in evil is to be deprecated. But it is "according to Christ Jesus"—after the sublimest model of Him whose all-absorbing desire was to do, "not His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him" (Joh 6:38).
That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
6. That, &c.—rather, "that with one accord ye may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"; the mind and the mouth of all giving harmonious glory to His name. What a prayer! And shall this never be realized on earth?
Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
7. Wherefore—returning to the point
receive ye one another … to the glory of God—If Christ received us, and bears with all our weaknesses, well may we receive and compassionate one with another, and by so doing God will be glorified.
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:
8-12. Now—"For" is the true reading: the apostle is merely assigning an additional motive to Christian forbearance.
I say that Jesus Christ was—"hath become"
a minister of the circumcision—a remarkable expression, meaning "the Father's Servant for the salvation of the circumcision (or, of Israel)."
for the truth of God—to make good the veracity of God towards His ancient people.
to confirm the—Messianic
promises made unto the fathers—To cheer the Jewish believers, whom he might seem to have been disparaging, and to keep down Gentile pride, the apostle holds up Israel's salvation as the primary end of Christ's mission. But next after this, Christ was sent.
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.
9. that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy—A number of quotations from the Old Testament here follow, to show that God's plan of mercy embraced, from the first, the Gentiles along with the Jews.
as it is written—(Ps 18:49).
I will confess to—that is, glorify
thee among the Gentiles.
And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.
10. And again—(De 32:43, though there is some difficulty in the Hebrew).
Rejoice, ye Gentiles—along
with his people—Israel.
And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.
11. And again—(Ps 117:1).
Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people—"peoples"—the various nations outside the pale of Judaism.
And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.
12. And again, Esaias saith—(Isa 11:10).
There shall be a—"the"
root of Jesse—meaning, not "He from whom Jesse sprang," but "He that is sprung from Jesse" (that is, Jesse's son David)—see Re 22:16.
and he that shall rise, &c.—So the Septuagint in substantial, though not verbal, agreement with the original.
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.
13. Now, &c.—This seems a concluding prayer, suggested by the whole preceding subject matter of the epistle.
the God of hope—(See on Ro 15:5).
fill you with all joy and peace in believing—the native truth of that faith which is the great theme of this epistle (compare Ga 5:22).
that ye may abound in hope—"of the glory of God." (See on Ro 5:1).
through the power of the Holy Ghost—to whom, in the economy of redemption, it belongs to inspire believers with all gracious affections.
On the foregoing portion, Note, (1) No Christian is at liberty to regard himself as an isolated disciple of the Lord Jesus, having to decide questions of duty and liberty solely with reference to himself. As Christians are one body in Christ, so the great law of love binds them to act in all things with tenderness and consideration for their brethren in "the common salvation" (Ro 15:1, 2). (2) Of this unselfishness Christ is the perfect model of all Christians (Ro 15:3). (3) Holy Scripture is the divine storehouse of all furniture for the Christian life, even in its most trying and delicate features (Ro 15:4). (4) The harmonious glorification of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ by the whole body of the redeemed, as it is the most exalted fruit of the scheme of redemption, so it is the last end of God in it (Ro 15:5-7).
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.
Ro 15:14-33. Conclusion: In Which the Apostle Apologizes for Thus Writing to the Roman Christians, Explains Why He Had Not Yet Visited Them, Announces His Future Plans, and Asks Their Prayers for the Completion of Them.
14, 15. And, &c.—rather, "Now I am persuaded, my brethren, even I myself, concerning you"
that ye also yourselves are full of goodness—of inclination to all I have been enjoining on you
filled with all knowledge—of the truth expounded
and able—without my intervention.
to admonish one another.
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,
15. Nevertheless, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort—"measure"
as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God—as an apostle of Jesus Christ.
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.
16. that I should be the—rather, "a"
minister—The word here used is commonly employed to express the office of the priesthood, from which accordingly the figurative language of the rest of the verse is taken.
of Jesus Christ—"Christ Jesus," according to the true reading.
to the Gentiles—a further proof that the Epistle was addressed to a Gentile church. (See on Ro 1:13).
ministering the gospel of God—As the word here is a still more priestly one, it should be rendered, "ministering as a priest in the Gospel of God."
that the offering up of the Gentiles—as an oblation to God, in their converted character.
might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost—the end to which the ancient offerings typically looked.
I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God.
17. I have therefore whereof I may glory—or (adding the article, as the reading seems to be), "I have my glorying."
Christ Jesus in those things which pertain to God—the things of the ministry committed to me of God.
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,
18-22. For I will not dare to speak of any—"to speak aught"
of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me—a modest, though somewhat obscure form of expression, meaning, "I will not dare to go beyond what Christ hath wrought by me"—in which form accordingly the rest of the passage is expressed. Observe here how Paul ascribes all the success of his labors to the activity of the living Redeemer, working in and by him.
by word and deed—by preaching and working; which latter he explains in the next clause.
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.
19. Through mighty—literally, "in the power of"
signs and wonders—that is, glorious miracles.
by the power of the Spirit of God—"the Holy Ghost," as the true reading seems to be. This seems intended to explain the efficacy of the word preached, as well as the working of the miracles which attested it.
so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto—"as far as"
Illyricum—to the extreme northwestern boundary of Greece. It corresponds to the modern Croatia and Dalmatia (2Ti 4:10). See Ac 20:1, 2.
I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:
20, 21. Yea, &c.—rather, "Yet making it my study (compare 2Co 5:9; 1Th 4:11, Greek) so to preach the Gospel, not where Christ was [already] named, that I might not build upon another man's foundation: but (might act) as it is written, To whom no tidings of Him came, they shall see," &c.
But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.
For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.
22. For which cause—"Being so long occupied with this missionary work, I have been much (or, 'for the most part') hindered," &c. (See on Ro 1:9-11.)
But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you;
23, 24. But now having no more place—"no longer having place"—that is, unbroken ground, where Christ has not been preached.
and having a great desire—"a longing"
these many years to come unto you—(as before, see on Ro 1:9-11).
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.
24. whensoever I take my journey into Spain—Whether this purpose was ever accomplished has been much disputed, as no record of it nor allusion to it anywhere occurs. Those who think our apostle was never at large after his first imprisonment at Rome will of course hold that it never was; while those who are persuaded, as we are, that he underwent a second imprisonment, prior to which he was at large for a considerable time after his first, incline naturally to the other opinion.
I will come to you—If these words were not originally in the text, and there is weighty evidence against them, they must at least be inserted as a necessary supplement.
in my journey, &c.—"as I pass through by you, to be set forward on my journey thither, if first I be somewhat filled with your company": that is, "I should indeed like to stay longer with you than I can hope to do, but I must, to some extent at least, have my fill of your company."
But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.
25-27. But now I go to Jerusalem to minister—"ministering"
to the saints—in the sense immediately to be explained.
For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.
26. For, &c.—better, "For Macedonia and Achaia have thought good to make a certain contribution for the poor of the saints which are at Jerusalem." (See Ac 24:17). "They have thought it good; and their debtors verily they are"; that is, "And well they may, considering what the Gentile believers owe to their Jewish brethren."
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.
27. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also—"they owe it also"
to minister unto them in carnal things—(Compare 1Co 9:11; Ga 6:6; and see Lu 7:4; Ac 10:2).
When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.
28, 29. When therefore I have … sealed—that is, delivered over safely
to them this fruit—of the faith and love of the Gentile converts
I will come—"come back," or "return"
by you into Spain—(See on Ro 15:24).
And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.
29. And I am sure—"I know"
that … I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of Christ—Such, beyond all doubts, is the true reading, the words "of the gospel" being in hardly any manuscripts of antiquity and authority. Nor was the apostle mistaken in this confidence, though his visit to Rome was in very different circumstances from what he expected. See Ac 28:16-31.
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;
30. Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit—or, "by the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit"—not the love which the Spirit bears to us, but that love which He kindles in the hearts of believers towards each other; that is "By that Saviour whose name is alike dear to all of us and whose unsearchable riches I live only to proclaim, and by that love one to another which the blessed Spirit diffuses through all the brotherhood, making the labors of Christ's servants a matter of common interest to all—I beseech you."
that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me—implying that he had his grounds for anxious fear in this matter.
That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints;
31. That I may be delivered from them that do not believe—"that do not obey," that is, the truth, by believing it; as in Ro 2:8.
in Judea—He saw the storm that was gathering over him in Judea, which, if at all, would certainly burst upon his head when he reached the capital; and the event too clearly showed the correctness of these apprehensions.
and that my service which I have for Jerusalem—(See on Ro 15:25-28).
may be accepted of—"prove acceptable to"
the saints—Nor was he without apprehension lest the opposition he had made to the narrow jealousy of the Jewish converts against the free reception of their Gentile brethren, should make this gift of theirs to the poor saints at Jerusalem less welcome than it ought to be. He would have the Romans therefore to join him in wrestling with God that this gift might be gratefully received, and prove a cement between the two parties. But further.
That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.
32. That I may come unto you with—"in"
joy by the will of God—(Ac 18:21; 1Co 4:19; 16:7; Heb 6:3; Jas 4:15)
and may with you be refreshed—rather, "with you refresh myself," after all his labors and anxieties, and so be refitted for future service.
Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
33. Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen—The peace here sought is to be taken in its widest sense: the peace of reconciliation to God, first, "through the blood of the everlasting covenant" (Heb 13:20; 1Th 5:23; 2Th 3:16; Php 4:9); then the peace which that reconciliation diffuses among all the partakers of it (1Co 14:33; 2Co 13:11; and see on Ro 16:20); more widely still, that peace which the children of God, in beautiful imitation of their Father in Heaven, are called and privileged to diffuse far and wide through this sin-distracted and divided world (Ro 12:18; Mt 5:9; Heb 12:14; Jas 3:18).
Note, (1) Did "the chiefest of the apostles" apologize for writing to a Christian church which he had never seen, and a church that he was persuaded was above the need of it, save to "stir up their pure minds by way of remembrance" (2Pe 1:13; 3:1); and did he put even this upon the sole plea of apostolic responsibility (Ro 15:14-16)? What a contrast is thus presented to hierarchical pride, and in particular to the affected humility of the bishop of this very Rome! How close the bond which the one spirit draws between ministers and people—how wide the separation produced by the other! (2) There is in the Christian Church no real priesthood, and none but figurative sacrifices. Had it been otherwise, it is inconceivable that Ro 15:16 should have been expressed as it is. Paul's only priesthood and sacrificial offerings lay, first, in ministering to them as "the apostle of the Gentiles," not the sacrament with the "real presence" of Christ in it, or the sacrifice of the mass, but "the Gospel of God," and then, when gathered under the wing of Christ, presenting them to God as a grateful offering, "being sanctified [not by sacrificial gifts, but] by the Holy Ghost." (See Heb 13:9-16). (3) Though the debt we owe to those by whom we have been brought to Christ can never be discharged, we should feel it a privilege when we render them any lower benefit in return (Ro 15:26, 27). (4) Formidable designs against the truth and the servants of Christ should, above all other ways of counteracting them, be met by combined prayer to Him who rules all hearts and controls all events; and the darker the cloud, the more resolutely should all to whom Christ's cause is dear "strive together in their prayers to God" for the removal of it (Ro 15:30, 31). (5) Christian fellowship is so precious that the most eminent servants of Christ, amid the toils and trials of their work, find it refreshing and invigorating; and it is no good sign of any ecclesiastic, that he deems it beneath him to seek and enjoy it even amongst the humblest saints in the Church of Christ (Ro 15:24, 32).