RPM, Volume 18, Number 19, May 1 to May 7, 2016

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical
Part 53

By Albert Barnes


THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 1

It may be of importance to state, that between the last verse of the preceeding chapter and the first verse of this, the Arabic version, some Mss., and many of the Greek fathers, as Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, etc., have introduced Ro 16:25-27. Why this was done has been a matter of controversy. The discussion, however, is of no practical importance, and most critics concur in the opinion that the present arrangement of the Greek text is genuine.

Verse 1. We then that are strong. The apostle resumes the subject of the preceding chapter; and continues the exhortation to brotherly love and mutual kindness and forbearance. By the strong here he means the strong in faith in respect to the matters under discussion; those whose minds were free from doubts and perplexities. His own mind was free from doubt, and there were many others, particularly of the Gentile converts, that had the same views. But many also, particularly of the Jewish converts, had many doubts and scruples.

Ought to bear. This word bear properly means to lift up, to bear away, to remove. But here it is used in a larger sense; to bear with, to be indulgent to, to endure patiently, not to contend with, Ga 6:2; Re 2:2, "Thou canst not bear them that are evil."

And not to please ourselves. Not to make it our main object to gratify our own wills. We should be willing to deny ourselves, if by it we may promote the happiness of others. This refers particularly to opinions about meats and drinks; but it may be applied to Christian conduct generally, as denoting that we are not to make our own happiness or gratification the standard of our conduct, but are to seek the welfare of others. See the example of Paul, 1 Co 9:19,22; see also Php 2:4; 1 Co 13:5, "Love seeketh not her own;" 1 Co 10:24, "Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth." Also Mt 6:24.

{c} "to bear the infirmities" Ro 14:1; Ga 6:2

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 2

Verse 2. Please his neighbour. That is, all other persons, but especially the friends of the Redeemer. The word neighbour here has especial reference to the members of the church. It is often used, however in a much larger sense. See Lu 10:36.

For his good. Not to seek to secure for him indulgence in those things which would be injurious to him, but in all these things which his welfare would be promoted.

To edification. See Barnes "Ro 14:19".

{d} "neighbour for his good" 1 Co 9:19; Php 2:4,5

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 3

Verse 3. For even Christ. The apostle proceeds, in his usual manner, to illustrate what he had said by the example of the Saviour. To a Christian, the example of the Lord Jesus will furnish the most ready, certain, and happy illustration of the nature and extent of his duty.

Pleased not himself. This is not to be understood as if the Lord Jesus did not voluntarily and cheerfully engage in his great work. He was not compelled to come and suffer. Nor is it to be understood as if he did not approve the work, or see its propriety and fitness. If he had not, he would never have engaged in its sacrifices and self-denials. But the meaning may be expressed in the following particulars:

(1.) He came to do the will or desire of God, in undertaking the work of salvation. It was the will of God; it was agreeable to the Divine purposes, and the Mediator did not consult his own happiness and honour in heaven, but cheerfully came to do the will of God, Ps 40:7,8. Comp. Heb 10:4-10; Php 2:6; Joh 17:5

Christ, when on earth, made it his great object to do the will of God, to finish the work which God had given him to do, and not to seek his own comfort and enjoyment. This he expressly affirms, Joh 6:38; Joh 5:30:

(3.) He was willing for this to endure whatever trials and pains the will of God might demand, not seeking to avoid them, or to shrink from them. See particularly his prayer in the garden, Lu 22:42.

(4.) In his life he did not seek personal comfort, wealth, or friends, or honours. He denied himself to promote the welfare of others; he was poor that they might be rich; he was in lonely places that he might seek out the needy and provide for them. Nay, he did not seek to preserve his own life when the appointed time came to die, but gave himself up for all.

(5.) There may be another idea which the apostle had here. He bore with patience the ignorance, blindness, erroneous views, and ambitious projects of his disciples. He evinced kindness to them when in error; and was not harsh, censorious, or unkind, when they were filled with vain projects of ambition, or perverted his words, or were dull of apprehension. So, says the apostle, we ought to do in relation to our brethren.

But as it is written. Ps 69:9. This psalm, and the former part of this verse, is referred to the Messiah. Comp. Ps 69:21 with Mt 27:34,48.

The reproaches. The calumnies, censures, harsh, opprobrious speeches.

Of them that reproached thee. Of the wicked, who vilified and abused the law and government of God.

Fell on me. In other words, Christ was willing to suffer reproach and contempt in order to do good to others. He endured calumny and contempt all his life, from those who by their lips and lives calumniated God, or reproached their Maker. We may learn here,

(1.) that the contempt of Jesus Christ is contempt of him who appointed him.

(2.) We may see the kindness of the Lord Jesus in being willing thus to throw himself between the sinner and God; to intercept, as it were, our sins, and to bear the effects of them in his own person. He stood between us and God; and both the reproaches and the Divine displeasure due to them, met on his sacred Person, and produced the sorrows of the atonement—his bitter agony in the garden and on the cross. Jesus thus showed his love of God in being willing to bear the reproaches aimed at him; and his love to men in being willing to endure the sufferings necessary to atone for these very sins.

(3.) If Jesus thus bore reproaches, we should be willing also to endure them. We suffer in the cause where he has gone before us, and where he has set us the example; and as he was abused and vilified, we should be willing to be so also.

{e} "Christ pleased not himself" Joh 6:28

{f} "The reproaches of them" Ps 69:9

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 4

Verse 4. For whatsoever things, This is a general observation which struck the mind of the apostle, from the particular case which he had just specified. He had just made use of a striking passage in the Psalms to his purpose. The thought seems suddenly to have occurred to him that all the Old Testament was admirably adapted to express Christian duties and doctrine, and he therefore turned aside from his direct argument to express this sentiment. It should be read as a parenthesis.

Were written aforetime. That is, in ancient times; in the Old Testament.

For our learning. For our teaching or instruction. Not that this was the only purpose of the writings of the Old Testament, to instruct Christians; but that all the Old Testament might be useful now in illustrating and enforcing the doctrines and duties of piety towards God and man.

Through patience. This does not mean, as our translation might seem to suppose, patience of the Scriptures; but it means, that by patiently enduring sufferings, in connexion with the consolation which the Scriptures furnish, we might have hope. The tendency of patience, the apostle tells us, (Ro 5:4,) is to produce hope. See Barnes "Ro 5:4".

And comfort of the Scriptures. By means of the consolation which the writings of the Old Testament furnish. The word rendered comfort means also exhortation or admonition. If this is its meaning here, it refers to the admonitions which the Scriptures suggest, instructions which they impart, and the exhortations to patience in trials. If it means comfort, then the reference is to the examples of the saints in affliction; to their recorded expressions of confidence in God in their trials, as of Job, Daniel, David, etc. Which is the precise meaning of the word here, it is not easy to determine.

Might have hope. See Barnes "Ro 5:4".

We may learn here,

(1.) that afflictions may prove to be a great blessing.

(2.) That the proper tendency is to produce hope.

(3.) That the way to find support in afflictions is to go to the Bible. By the example of the ancient saints, by the expression of their confidence in God, by their patience, we may learn to suffer, and may not only be instructed, but may find comfort in all our trials. See the example of Paul himself in 2 Co 1:3-11.

{g} "whatsoever things" 1 Co 10:11; 2 Ti 3:16,17

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 5

Verse 5. Now the God of patience. The God who is himself long-suffering, who bears patiently with the errors and faults of his children, and who can give patience, may he give you of his Spirit, that you may bear patiently the infirmities and errors of each other. The example of God here, who bears long with his children, and is not angry soon at their offences, is a strong argument why Christians should bear with each other. If God bears long and patiently with our infirmities, we ought to bear with each other.

And consolation. Who gives or imparts consolation.

To be like-minded, etc. Gr., To think the same thing; that is, to be united, to keep from divisions and strifes.

According to Christ Jesus. According to the example and spirit of Christ; his was a spirit of peace. Or, according to what his religion requires. The name of Christ is sometimes thus put for his religion, 2 Co 11:4; Eph 4:20. If all Christians would imitate the example of Christ, and follow his instructions, there would be no contentions among them. He earnestly sought in his parting prayer their unity and peace, Joh 17:21-23.

{h} "one toward another" 1 Co 1:10

{1} "according to Christ Jesus" or, "after the example of"

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 6

Verse 6. That ye may with one mind. The word here used is translated "with one accord," Ac 1:14; 2:1; 4:24.

It means unitedly, with one purpose, without contentions, and strifes, and jars.

And one mouth. This refers, doubtless, to their prayers and praises. That they might join, without contention and unkind feeling, in the worship of God. Divisions, strife, and contention in the church prevent union in worship. Though the body may be there, and the church professedly engaged in public worship, yet it is a divided service; and the prayers of strife and contention are not heard, Isa 58:4.

Glorify God. Praise or honour God. This would be done by their union, peace, and harmony; thus showing the tendency of the gospel to overcome the sources of strife and contention among men, and to bring them to peace.

Even the Father, etc. This is an addition designed to produce love.

(1.) He is a Father; we then, his children, should regard him as pleased with the union and peace of his family.

(2.) He is the Father of our LORD; our common Lord; our Lord who has commanded us to be united, and to love one another. By the desire of honouring such a Father, we should lay aside contentions, and be united in the bands of love.

{i} "one mind" Ac 4:24,32

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 7

Verse 7. Wherefore. In view of all the considerations, tending to produce unity and love, which have been presented. He refers to the various arguments in this and the preceding chapter.

Receive ye one another. Acknowledge one another as Christians, and treat one another as such, though you may differ in opinion about many smaller matters. See Ro 14:3.

As Christ also received us. That is, received us as his friends and followers. See Ro 14:3.

To the glory of God. In order to promote his glory. He has redeemed us, and renewed us, in order to promote the honour of God. Comp. Eph 1:6. As Christ has received us in order to promote the glory of God, so ought we to treat each other in a similar manner for a similar purpose. The exhortation in this verse is to those who had been divided on various points pertaining to rites and ceremonies; to those who had been converted from among Gentiles and Jews; and the apostle here says that Christ had received both. In order to enforce this, and especially to show the Jewish converts that they ought to receive and acknowledge their Gentile brethren, he proceeds to show, in the following verses, that Christ had reference to both in his work. He shows this in reference to the Jews Ro 15:8 and to the Gentiles Ro 15:9-12. Thus he draws all his arguments from the work of Christ.

{k} "received us" Eph 1:6

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 8

Verse 8. Now I say. I affirm, or maintain. I, a Jew, admit that his work had reference to the Jews; I affirm also that it had reference to the Gentiles.

That Jesus Christ. That the Messiah. The force of the apostle's reasoning would often be more striking if he would retain the word Messiah, and not regard the word Christ as a mere surname. It is the name of his office; and to a Jew the name Messiah would convey much more than the idea of a mere proper name.

Was a minister of the circumcision. Exercised his office—the office of the Messiah—among the Jews, or with respect to the Jews, for the purposes which he immediately specifies. Hie was born a Jew; was circumcised; came to that nation; and died in their midst, without having gone himself to any other people.

For the truth of God. To confirm or establish the truth of the promises of God. He remained among them in the exercise of his ministry to show that God was true, who had said that the Messiah should come to them.

To confirm the promises, etc. To establish, or to show that the promises were true. See Barnes "Ac 3:25, also Ac 3:26. The promises referred to here, are those particularly which related to the coming of the Messiah. By thus admitting that the Messiah was the minister of the circumcision, the apostle conceded all that the Jew could ask, that he was to be peculiarly their Messiah. See Barnes "Lu 24:47".

{l} "confirm the promises" Ac 3:25,26

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 9

Verse 9. And that the Gentiles, etc. The benefits of the gospel were not to be confined to the Jews; and as God designed that those benefits should be extended to the Gentiles, so the Jewish converts ought to be willing to admit them, and treat them as brethren. That God did design this, the apostle proceeds to show.

Might glorify God. Might praise, or give thanks to God. This implies that the favour shown to them was a great favour.

For his mercy. Greek, On account of the mercy shown to them.

As it is written. Ps 18:49. The expression there is one of David's. He says that he will praise God for his mercies among the heathen, or when surrounded by the heathen; or that he would confess and acknowledge the mercies of God to him, as we should say, to all the world. The apostle, however, uses it in this sense, that the Gentiles would participate with the Jew in offering praise to God, or that they would be united. This does not appear to have been the original design of David in the psalm, but the words express the idea of the apostle.

And sing, etc. Celebrate thy praise. This supposes that benefits would be conferred on them, for which they would celebrate his goodness.

{m} "For this cause" Ps 18:49

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 10

Verse 10. And again, etc. De 32:43. In this place, the nations or Gentiles are called on to rejoice with tile Jews, for the interposition of God in their behalf. The design of the quotation is to show that the Old Testament speaks of the Gentiles as called on to celebrate the praises of God; of course, the apostle infers that they are to be introduced to the same privileges as his people.

{n} "Rejoice, ye Gentiles" De 32:43

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 11

Verse 11. And again. Ps 117:1. The object in this quotation is the same as before. The apostle accumulates quotations to show that it was the common language of the Old Testament, and that he was not depending on a single expression for the truth of his doctrine.

All ye Gentiles. In the psalm, "all ye nations; but the original is the same.

And laud him. Praise him. The psalm is directly in point. It is a call on all nations to praise God; the very point in the discussion of the apostle.

{o} "Praise the Lord" Ps 117:1.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 12

Verse 12. Esaias saith. Isa 11:1,10.

There shall be a root. A descendant, or one that should proceed from him when he was dead. When a tree dies, and falls, there may remain a root which shall retain life, and which shall send up a sprout of a similar kind. So Job says, (Job 14:7,) "For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease." So in relation to Jesse. Though he should fall, like an aged tree, yet his name and family should not be extinct. There should be a descendant who should rise, and reign over the Gentiles. The Lord Jesus is thus called also the "root and the offspring of David," Re 22:16; 5:5.

Of Jesse. The father of David, 1 Sa 17:58. The Messiah was thus descended front Jesse.

He that shall rise. That is, as a sprout springs up from a decayed or fallen tree. Jesus thus rose from the family of David, that had fallen into poverty and humble life in the time of Mary.

To reign over the Gentiles. This is quoted from the Lxx. of Isa 11:10. The Hebrew is, "Which shall stand up for an ensign of the people;" that is, a standard to which they shall flock. Either the Septuagint or the Hebrew would express the idea of the apostle. The substantial sense is retained, though it is not literally quoted. The idea of his reigning over the Gentiles is one that is fully expressed in the second psalm.

In him, etc. Hebrew, "To it shall the Gentiles seek." The sense, however, is the same. The design of this quotation is the same as the preceding, to show that it was predicted in the Old Testament that the Gentiles should be made partakers of the privileges of the gospel. The argument of the apostle is, that if this was designed, then converts to Christianity from among the Jews should lay aside their prejudices, and receive them as their brethren, entitled to the same privileges of the gospel as themselves. The fact that the Gentiles would be admitted to these privileges, the apostle had more fully discussed in chapters 10 and 11.

{p} "There shall be" Isa 11:1,10

{q} "of Jesse" Re 5:5; 22:16

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 13

Verse 13. Now the God of hope. The God who inspires, or produces the Christian hope.

All joy and peace. Ro 14:17. If they were filled with this, there would be no strife and contention.

In believing. The effect of believing is to produce this joy and peace.

That ye may abound, etc. That your hope may be steadfast and strong.

Through the power, etc. By means of the powerful operation of the Holy Spirit. It is by his power alone that the Christian has the hope of eternal life. See Eph 1:13,14; Ro 8:24.

{r} "all joy" Ro 14:17

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 14

Verse 14. And I myself also. The apostle here proceeds to show them why he had written this epistle, and to state his confidence in them. He had exhorted them to peace; he had opposed some of their strongest prejudices; and in order to secure their obedience to his injunctions, he now shows them the deep interest which he had in their welfare, though he had never seen them.

Am persuaded. He had never seen them, (Ro 1:10-13,)but he had full confidence in them. This confidence he had expressed more fully in the first chapter.

Of you. Concerning you. I have full confidence in you.

My brethren. An address of affection; showing that he was not disposed to assume undue authority, or to lord it over their faith.

Are full of goodness. Filled with kindness or benevolence. That is, they were disposed to obey any just commands; and that consequently any errors in their opinions and conduct had not been the effect of obstinacy or perverseness. There was indeed danger, in the city of Rome, of pride and haughtiness; and among the Gentile converts there might have been some reluctance to receive instruction from a foreign Jew. But the apostle was persuaded that all this was overcome by the mild and humbling spirit of religion, and that they were disposed to obey any just commands. He made this observation, therefore, to conciliate respect to his authority as an apostle.

Filled with all knowledge. That is, instructed in the doctrines and duties of the Christian religion. This was true; but there might be still some comparatively unimportant and non-essential points, on which they might not be entirely clear. On these the apostle had written; and written, not professedly to communicate new ideas, but to remind them of the great principles on which they were before instructed, Ro 15:15.

Able also, etc. That is, you are so fully instructed in Christian principles, as to be able to give advice and counsel, if it is needed. From this verse we may learn,

(1.) that when it is our duty to give instruction, admonition, or advice, it should be in a kind: conciliating manner; not with harshness, or with the severity of authority. Even an apostle did not assume harshness or severity in his instructions.

(2.) There is no impropriety in speaking of the good qualities of Christians in their presence; or even of commending and praising them when they deserve it. The apostle Paul was as far as possible from always dwelling on the faults of Christians. When it was necessary to reprove them, he did it, but did it with tenderness and tears. When he could commend, he preferred it; and never hesitated to give them credit to the utmost extent to which it could be rendered. He did not flatter, but he told the truth; he did not commend to excite pride and vanity, but to encourage, and to prompt to still more active efforts. The minister who always censures and condemns, whose ministry is made up of complaints and lamentations, who never speaks of Christians but in a strain of fault-finding, is unlike the example of the Saviour and of Paul, and may expect little success in his work. Comp. Ro 1:8; 16:19; 1 Co 1:6; 2 Co 8:7; 9:2; Php 1:8-7; Heb 6:9; 2 Pe 1:12.

{s} "persuaded of you" Heb 6:9; 2 Pe 1:12

{t} "able also to admonish" 1 Co 8:1,7,10

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 15

Verse 15. Nevertheless. Notwithstanding my full persuasion of your knowledge, and your purpose to do right. Perhaps he refers also to the fact that he was a stranger to them.

The more boldly. More boldly than might have been expected from a stranger. The reason why he showed this boldness in declaring his sentiments he immediately states—that he had been specially called to the office of instructing the Gentiles.

In some sort, (apo merouv). In part. Some have supposed that he referred to a party at Rome—the Gentile party. (Whitby.) Some refer it to different parts of his epistle—on some subjects. (Stuart.) Probably the expression is designed to qualify the phrase more boldly. The phrase, says Grotius, diminishes that of which it is spoken, as 1 Co 13:9,12; 2 Co 1:14; 2:5; and means the same as "somewhat more freely;" that is, I have been induced to write the more freely, partly because I am appointed to this very office. I write somewhat more freely to a church among the Gentiles than I even should to one among the Jews, because I am appointed to this very office.

As putting you in mind. Greek, Calling to your remembrance, or reminding you. Comp. 2 Pe 1:12,13. This was a delicate way of communicating instruction. The apostles presumed that all Christians were acquainted with the great doctrines of religion; but they did not command, enjoin, or assume a spirit of dictation. How happy would it be if all teachers would imitate the example of the apostles in this, and be as modest and humble as they were.

Because of the grace, etc. Because God has conferred the favour on me of appointing me to this office. See Barnes "Ro 1:5".

{u} "because of the grace" Eph 3:7,8.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 16

Verse 16. The minister, (leitourgon). This is not the word which is commonly translated minister, (diakonov). This word is properly appropriated to those who minister in public offices or the affairs of the state. In the New Testament it is applied mainly to the Levitical priesthood, who ministered and served at the altar, Heb 10:11. It is, however, applied to the ministers of the New Testament, as discharging substantially the same offices towards the church which were discharged by the Levitical priesthood; i. e., as engaged in promoting the welfare of the church, occupied in holy things, etc. Ac 13:2, "As they ministered to the Lord and fasted," etc. It is used in a larger sense still in Ro 15:27; 2 Co 9:12.

To the Gentiles. Comp. Ro 1:6; Ac 9:15.

Ministering, (ierourgounta). Performing the office of a priest in respect to the gospel of God. The office of a priest was to offer sacrifice. Paul here retains the language, though without affirming or implying that the ministers of the New Testament were literally priests to offer sacrifice. The word used here occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Its meaning here is to be determined from the connexion. The question is, what is the sacrifice of which he speaks? It is the offering up—the sacrifice of the Gentiles. The Jewish sacrifices were abolished. The Messiah had fulfilled the design of their appointment, and they were to be done away. (See the epistle to the Hebrews.) There was to be no further literal sacrifice. But now the offerings of the Gentiles were to be as acceptable as had been the offerings of the Jews. God made no distinction; and in speaking of these offerings, Paul used figurative language drawn from the Jewish rites. But assuredly he did not mean that the offerings of the Gentiles were literal sacrifices to expiate sins; nor did he mean that there was to be an order of men who were to be called priests under the New Testament. If this passage did prove that, it would prove that it should be confined to the apostles, for it is of them only that he uses it. The meaning is this: "Acting in the Christian church substantially as the priests did among the Jews: that is, endeavouring to secure the acceptableness of the offerings which the Gentiles make to God."

That the offering up. The word here rendered offering up, (prosfora), commonly means a sacrifice or an expiatory offering, and is applied to Jewish sacrifices, Ac 21:26; 24:17. It is also applied to the sacrifice which was made by our Lord Jesus Christ when he offered himself on the cross for the sins of men, Eph 5:2; Heb 10:10. It does not always mean bloodysacrifices, but it is used to denote any offering to God, Heb 10:5,8,14,18.

Hence it is used in this large sense to denote the offering which the Gentiles who were converted to Christianity made of themselves; their devoting or dedicating themselves to God. The language is derived from the customs of the Jews; and the apostle represents himself figuratively as a priest presenting this offering to God.

Might be acceptable. Or, approved by God. This was in accordance with the prediction in Isa 66:20, "They shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations," etc. This does not mean that it was by any merit of the apostle that this offering was to be rendered acceptable; but that he was appointed to prepare the way, so that their offering, as well as that of the Jews, might come up before God.

Being sanctified. That is, the offering being sanctified, or made holy. The sacrifice was prepared or made fit to be an offering, among the Jews, by salt, oil, or frankincense, according to the nature of the sacrifice, Le 6:14, etc. In allusion to this, the apostle says that the offering of the Gentiles was rendered holy, or fit to be offered, by the converting and purifying influences of the Holy Spirit. They were prepared, not by salt and frankincense, but by the cleansing influences of God's Spirit. The same idea, substantially, is expressed by the apostle Peter in Ac 10:46; 11:17.

{1} "offering up" or, "sacrificing"

{v} "up of the Gentiles" Isa 66:20

{w} "sanctified by the Holy Ghost" Ac 20:32

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 17

Verse 17. I have therefore, etc. I have cause of glorying. I have cause of rejoicing that God has made me a minister to the Gentiles, and that he has given me such success among them. The ground of this he states in Ro 15:18-22.

Glory. Of boasting, (kauchsin the word usually rendered boasting,) Jas 4:16; Ro 3:27; 2 Co 7:14; 8:24; 9:3,4; 10:15; 11:10,17.

It means also praise, thanksgiving, and joy, 1 Co 15:31; 2 Co 1:12; 7:4; 8:24; 1 Th 2:19

This is its meaning here, that the apostle had great cause of rejoicing or praise that he had been so highly honoured in the appointment to this office, and in his success in it.

Through Jesus Christ. By the assistance of Jesus Christ; ascribing his success among the Gentiles to the aid which Jesus Christ had rendered him.

In those things which pertain to God. Comp. Heb 5:1. The things of religion; the things which God has commanded, and which pertain to his honour and glory. They were not things which pertained to Paul, but to God; not wrought by Paul, but by Jesus Christ; yet he might rejoice that he had been the means of diffusing so far those blessings. The success of a minister is not for his own praises, but for the honour of God; not by his skill or power, but by the aid of Jesus Christ; yet he may rejoice that through him such blessings are conferred on men.

{x} "glory through Jesus Christ" 2 Co 12:1

{y} "which pertain to God" Heb 5:1

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 18

Verse 18. For I will not dare to speak. I should be restrained; I should be afraid to speak, if the thing were not as I have stated. I should be afraid to set up a claim beyond that which is strictly in accordance with the truth.

Which Christ hath not wrought by me. I confine myself strictly to what I have done. I do not arrogate to myself what Christ has done by others. I do not exaggerate my own success, or claim what others have accomplished.

To make the Gentiles obedient. To bring them to obey God in the gospel.

By word and deed. By preaching, and by all other means; by miracle, by example, etc. The deeds, that is, the lives of Christian ministers are often as efficacious in bringing me to Christ as their public ministry.

{z} "make the Gentiles obedient"

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 19

Verse 19. Through mighty signs and wonders. By stupendous and striking miracles. See Barnes "Ac 2:43".

Paul here refers, doubtless, to the miracles which he had himself wrought. See Ac 19:11,12, "And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul," etc.

By the power of the Spirit of God. This may either be connected with signs and wonders, and then it will mean that those miracles were performed by the power of the Holy Spirit; or it may constitute a new subject, and refer to the gift of prophecy, the power of speaking other languages. Which is its true meaning cannot, perhaps, be ascertained. The interpretations agree in this, that he traced his success in all things to the aid of the Holy Spirit.

So that from Jerusalem. Jerusalem, as a centre of his work; the centre of all religious operations and preaching under the gospel. This was not the place where Paul began to preach, (Ga 1:17,18) but it was the place where the gospel was first preached, and the apostles began to reckon their success from that as a point. Comp. See Barnes "Lu 24:49".

And round about. (kai kuklw) In a circle. That is, taking Jerusalem as a centre, he had fully preached round that centre until you come to Illyricum.

Unto Illyricum. Illyricum was a province lying to the northwest of Macedonia, bounded north by a part of Italy and Germany, east by Macedonia, south by the Adriatic, west by Istria. It comprehended the modern Croatia and Dalmatia. So that, taking Jerusalem as a centre, Paul preached not only in Damascus and Arabia, but in Syria, in Asia Minor, in all Greece, in the Grecian Islands, and in Thessaly and Macedonia. This comprehended no small part of the then known world; all of which had heard the gospel by the labours of one indefatigable man. There is nowhere in the Acts express mention of Paul's going into Illyricum; nor does the expression imply that he preached the gospel within it, but only unto its borders. It may have been, however, that when in Macedonia, he crossed over into that country; and this is rendered somewhat probable from the fact that Titus is mentioned as having gone into Dalmatia, (2 Ti 4:10) which was a part of Illyricum.

I have fully preached. The word here used means, properly, to fill up, (peplhrwkenai), to complete, and here is used in the sense of diffusing abroad, or of filling up all that region with the gospel. Comp. 2 Ti 4:17. It means, that he had faithfully diffused the knowledge of the gospel in all that immense country.

{a} "signs and wonders" Ac 19:11

{b} "I have fully preached" Ro 1:14-16

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 20

Verse 20. Yea, so have I strived. The word used here (filotimoumenon) means, properly, to be ambitious, to be studious of honour; and then to desire earnestly. In that sense it is used here. He earnestly desired; he made it a point for which he struggled, to penetrate into regions which had not heard the gospel.

Not where Christ was named. Where the gospel had not been before preached.

Lest I should build, etc. That is, he desired to found churches himself; he regarded himself as particularly called to this. Others might be called to edify the church, but he regarded it as his office to make known the name of the Saviour where it was not before known. This work was particularly adapted to the ardour, zeal, energy, and bravery of such a man as Paul. Every man has his proper gift; and there are some particularly fitted to found and establish churches; others to edify and comfort them. Comp. 2 Co 10:13-16. The apostle chose the higher honour, involving most danger and responsibility; but still any office in building up the church is honourable.

{c} "lest I should build" 2 Co 10:13-16

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 21

Verse 21. But as it is written. Isa 52:15. This is not literally quoted but the sense is retained. The design of quoting it is to justify the principle on which the apostle acted. It was revealed that the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles; and he regarded it as a high honour to be the instrument of carrying this prediction into effect.

{d} "To whom he was not spoken of" Isa 52:15

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 22

Verse 22. For which cause. I have been so entirely occupied in this leading purpose of my life, that I have not been able to come to you.

Much hindered. Many ways; not many times. I had so frequent and urgent demands on my time elsewhere, that I could not come to you.

From coming to you. Where the gospel has been preached. I have desired to come, but have been unable to leave the vast region where I might preach the gospel to those who had never heard it.

{1} "much hindered" or, "many ways" or, "oftentimes"

{e} "from coming to you" 1 Th 2:18

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 23

Verse 23. But now, etc. Having no further opportunity in these regions to preach to those who have never heard the gospel.

In these parts. In the regions before specified, he had gone over them, had established churches, had left them in the care of elders, (Ac 20:17) and was now prepared to penetrate into some new region, and lay the foundation of other churches.

And having a great desire, etc. See Ro 1:9-13.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 24

Verse 24. Whensoever I take my journey into Spain. Ancient Spain comprehended the modem kingdoms of Spain and Portugal, or the whole of the Spanish peninsula. It was then subject to the Romans. It is remarkable, even here, that the apostle does not say that his principal object was to visit the church at Rome, much as he desired that, but only to take it in his way in the fulfillment of his higher purpose to preach the gospel in regions where Christ was not named. Whether he ever fulfilled his purpose of visiting Spain is a matter of doubt. Some of the fathers, Theodoret (on Php 1:25; 2 Ti 4:17) among others, say that after he was released from his captivity, when he was brought before Nero, he passed two years in Spain. If he was imprisoned a second time at Rome, such a visit is not improbable as having taken place between the two imprisonments. But there is no certain evidence of this. Paul probably projected many journeys which were never accomplished.

To be brought on my way, etc. To be assisted by you in regard to this journey; or to be accompanied by you. This was the custom of the churches, Ac 15:3; 17:14,16; 20:38; 21:5; 1 Co 16:6,11; 3 Jo 1:6.

If first, etc. If on my journey, before I go into Spain.

Somewhat. Greek, In part. As though he could not be fully satisfied with their company, or could not hope to enjoy their society as fully and as long as he could desire. This is a very tender and delicate expression.

Filled. This is a strong expression, meaning to be satisfied, to enjoy. To be filled with a thing is to have great satisfaction and joy in it.

With your company. Greek, With you; meaning, in your society. The expression to be filled with one, in the sense of being gratified, is sometimes used in the classic writers. (See Clarke on this verse.)

{f} "brought on my way" Ac 15:3; 3 Jo 1:6

{1} "with your company" "with you"

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 25

Verse 25. But now I go, etc. I am about to go now. The mention of this intended journey to Jerusalem is introduced in several other places, and is so mentioned that Dr. Paley has derived from it a very strong argument for the genuineness of this epistle.* This intended journey is mentioned in Ac 19:21, "Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome." See also Ac 20:2,3. That he went to Jerusalem, according to his purpose, is recorded in his defence before Felix, (Ac 24:17,) "Now after many years, I came to bring aims to my nation, and offerings."

To minister to the saints. To supply their necessities by bearing the contribution which the churches have made for them.

{*} Paley's Horae Paulinae, chap 2, no 1.

{g} "go unto Jerusalem" Ac 19:21

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 26

Verse 26. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia. That is, they have done it cheerfully and voluntarily. See their liberality and cheerfulness commended by the apostle in 2 Co 8:1-6; 9:2. Paul had been at much pains to obtain this collection, but still they did it freely. See 2 Co 9:4-7. It was with reference to this collection that he directed them to lay by for this purpose as God had prospered them, on the first day of the week, 1 Co 16:2.

Of Macedonia. That is, the Christians in Macedonia—those who had been Gentiles, and who had been converted to the Christian religion, Ro 15:27. Macedonia was a country of Greece, bounded north by Thrace, south by Thessaly, west by Epirus, and east by the AEgean Sea. It was an extensive region, and was the kingdom of Philip, and his son Alexander the Great. Its capital was Philippi, at which place Paul planted a church. A church was also established at Thessalonica, another city of that country, Ac 16:9, etc.; comp. Ac 18:5; 19:21; 2 Co 7:5; 1 Th 1:1,7,8; 4:10.

And Achaia. Achaia, in the largest sense, comprehended all ancient Greece. Achaia Proper, however, was a province of Greece, embracing the western part of the Peloponnesus, of which Corinth was the capital. See Barnes "Ac 18:12".

This place is mentioned as having been concerned in this collection, in 2 Co 9:2.

The poor saints, etc. The Christians who were in Judea were exposed to peculiar trials. They were condemned by the sanhedrim, opposed by the rulers, and persecuted by the people. See Ac 8:1, Ac 12:1, etc. Paul sought not only to relieve them by this contribution, but also to promote fellow-feeling between them and the Gentile Christians. And this circumstance would tend much to enforce what he had been urging in chapters 14 and 15 on the duty of kind feeling between the Jewish and Gentile converts to Christianity. Nothing tends so much to wear off prejudice, and to prevent unkind feeling in regard to others, as to see about some purpose to do them good, or to unite with them in doing good.

{h} "Macedonia and Achia" 2 Co 8:1; 9:2,12

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 27

Verse 27. Their debtors. The reason he immediately states. Comp. Ro 1:14.

Of their spiritual things. Have received the gospel by the instrumentality of those who had been Jews; and were admitted now to the same privileges with them.

Carnal things. Things pertaining to the flesh; that is, to this life. On this ground the apostle puts the obligation to support the ministers of the gospel, 1 Co 9:11. It becomes a matter of debt where the hearer of the gospel receives, in spiritual blessings, far more than he confers by supporting the ministry. Every man who contributes his due proportion to support the gospel may receive far more, in return, in his own peace, edification, and in the order and happiness of his family, than his money could purchase in any other way. The gain is on his side, and the money is not lost. The minister is not a beggar; and that which is necessary to his support is not almsgiving. He has an equitable claim—as much as a physician, or a lawyer, or a teacher of youth has—on the necessaries and comforts of life.

{i} "duty is also to minister" 1 Co 9:11.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 28

Verse 28. Have sealed to them. That is, have secured it to them. To seal an instrument of writing, a contract, deed, etc., is to authenticate it, to make it sure.. In this sense it is used here. Paul was going himself to see that it was placed securely in their hands.

This fruit. This result of the liberality of the Gentile churches— the fruit which their benevolence had produced.

I will come, etc. This was Paul's purpose; but it is not clear that he ever accomplished it. See Barnes "Ro 15:24".

By you. Taking Rome in my way.

{k} "I will come by you into Spain" Php 4:17.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 29

Verse 29. I am sure. Greek, I know; expressing the fullest confidence, a confidence that was greatly confirmed by the success of his labours elsewhere.

In the fulness of the blessing, etc. This is a Hebrew mode of expression, where one noun performs the purpose of an adjective, and means with a full or abundant blessing. This confidence he expressed in other language in Ro 1:11,12. See Barnes "Ro 1:11"

Of the gospel of Christ. Which the gospel of Christ is fitted to impart. Thus every minister of the gospel should wish to go. This should be his ever-burning desire in preaching. Paul went to Rome; but he went in bonds, Acts chapters 27 and 28. But though he went in this manner, he was permitted there to preach the gospel for at least two years; nor can we doubt that his ministry was attended with the anticipated success, Ac 28:30,31. God may disappoint us in regard to the mode in which we purpose to do good; but if we really desire it, he will enable us to do it in his own way. It may be better to preach the gospel in bonds than at liberty; it is better to do it even in a prison, than not at all. Bunyan wrote the Pilgrim's Progress to amuse his heavy hours during a twelve years' cruel imprisonment, If he had been at liberty, he probably would not have written it at all. The great desire of his heart was accomplished, but a prison was the place in which to do it. Paul preached; but preached in chains.

{l} "I come unto you" Ro 1:11,12

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 30

Verse 30. For the Lord Jesus Christ's sake. Greek, By or through (dia) our Lord Jesus Christ. It means, probably, out of love and regard to him; in order to promote his honour and glory, and to extend his kingdom among men. Paul desired to be delivered from the hands of the Jews, that he might promote the honour of Jesus Christ among the Gentiles.

And for the love of the Spirit, (dia). By the mutual love and sympathy which the Spirit of God produces in the minds of all who are the friends of God. I beseech you now to manifest that love by praying earnestly for me.

That ye strive together with me. That you unite with me in earnest prayer. The word strive denotes intense agony or effort, such as was used by the wrestlers in the Greek games; and then the agony, or strong effort, which a man makes in prayer, who is earnestly desirous to be heard. The use of the word here denotes Paul's earnest desire that they should make an intense effort in their prayers that he might be delivered. Christians, though at a distance from each other, may unite their prayers for a common object. Christians everywhere should wrestle in prayer for the ministers of the gospel, that they may be kept from temptations; and especially for those who are engaged, as the apostle was, in arduous efforts among the heathen, that they may be kept from the many dangers to which they are exposed in their journeyings in pagan lands.

{m} "love of the Spirit" Php 2:1

{n} "together" Col 4:12

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 31

Verse 31. That I may be, etc. The unbelieving Jews in Judea had been opposed to Paul's conversion. They could not forget that he had borne letters of commission from them to persecute the Christians at Damascus. They regarded him as an apostate. They had heard of his success among the Gentiles; and they had been informed that he "taught all the Jews among the Gentiles to forsake the laws of Moses," Ac 21:21. Hence the apostle could not but be aware that, in returning to Judea, he exposed himself to peculiar dangers. His fears, as the result showed, were well founded. They evinced all the opposition to him which he had ever anticipated, Ac 21:21.

And that my service. My ministry; or the act of service which I am going to perform for them; referring to the contribution which he was bearing for the poor saints at Jerusalem.

For Jerusalem. For the poor Christians in Jerusalem.

May be accepted of the saints. That the poor Christians there may be willing to receive it. The grounds of doubt and hesitation, whether they would be willing to receive this, seem to have been two:

(1.) Many, even among Christians, might have had their minds filled with prejudice against the apostle, from the reports constantly in circulation among the Jews, that he was opposing and denouncing the customs of Moses. Hence, in order to satisfy them, when he went up to Jerusalem, he actually performed a vow, in accordance with the law of Moses, to show that he did not intend to treat his laws with contempt, Ac 21:22,23,26,27.

(2.) Many of the converts from Judaism might be indisposed to receive an offering made by Gentiles. They might have retained many of their former feelings—that the Gentiles were polluted, and that they ought to have no fellowship with them. Early opinions and prejudices wear off by slow degrees. Christians retain former notions long after their conversion; and often many years are required to teach them enlarged views of Christian charity. It is not wonderful that the Christians in Judea should have been slow to learn all the ennobling lessons of Christian benevolence, surrounded as they were by the institutions of the Jewish religion, and having been themselves educated in the strictest regard for those institutions.

{o} "that I may be delivered" 2 Th 3:2

{1} "do not believe" or, "are disobedient"

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 32

Verse 32. That I may come unto you. That I may not be impeded in my intended journey by opposition in Judea.

With joy. Joy to myself in being permitted to come and producing joy to you by my presence.

By the will of God. If God will; If God permit. After all his desires, and all their prayers, it still depended on the will of God; and to that the apostle was desirous to submit. This should be the end of our most ardent desires, and this the object of all our prayers, that the will of God should be done. Comp. Jas 4:14,15. Paul did go by the will of God; but he went in bonds.

And be refreshed. Greek, May find rest or solace with you.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 15 - Verse 33

Verse 33. Now the God of peace. God, the author or promoter of peace and union. In Ro 15:13 he is called the God of hope. Here the apostle desires that the God who gives peace would impart to them union of sentiment and feeling, particularly between the Jewish and Gentile Christians—the great object for which he laboured in his journey to Judea, and which he had been endeavouring to promote throughout this epistle. See 1 Co 14:33; Heb 13:20.

This is the close of the doctrinal and hortatory parts of this epistle. The remainder is made up chiefly of salutations. In the verses concluding this chapter, Paul expressed his earnest desire to visit Rome. He besought his brethren to pray that he might be delivered from the unbelievers among the Jews. His main desire was granted. He was permitted to visit Rome; yet the very thing from which he sought to be delivered, the very opposition of the Jews, made it necessary for him to appeal to Caesar, and this was the means of his accomplishing his desire. (See the closing chapters of the Acts of the Apostles.) God thus often grants our main desire; he hears our prayer; but he may make use of that from which we pray to be delivered as the means of fulfilling our own requests. The Christian prays that he may be sanctified; yet at the same time he may pray to be delivered from affliction. God will hear his main desire, to be made holy; will convert that which he fears into a blessing, and make it the means of accomplishing the great end. It is right to express our desires—all our desires—to God; but it should be with a willingness that he should choose his own means to accomplish the object of our wishes. Provided the God of peace is with us, all is well.

{p} "peace be with you all" 1 Co 14:33; Heb 13:20


THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 1

THE epistle concludes with various salutations. The names which occur in this chapter are chiefly Greek; and the persons designated had been, probably, inhabitants of Greece, but had removed to Rome for purposes of commerce, etc. Possibly some of them had been converted under the ministry of the apostle himself during his preaching in Corinth and other parts of Greece. It is remarkable that the name of Peter does not occur in this catalogue; which is conclusive evidence, contrary to the Papists, that Peter was not then known by Paul to be in Rome.

Verse 1. I commend. It was common then, as now, to bear letters of introduction to strangers, commending the person thus introduced to the favourable regards and attentions of those to whom the letters were addressed, 2 Co 3:1; Ac 18:27. This epistle, with the apostle's commendation, was designed thus to introduce its bearer to the Roman Christians. The mention of Phebe in this manner leaves it beyond a doubt that she was either the bearer of this epistle, or accompanied those who bore it to Rome. The epistle was therefore written, probably, at Corinth. (See Introduction.)

Our sister. A member of the Christian church.

Which is a servant. Greek, "Who is a deaconess." It is clear, from the New Testament, that there was an order of women in the church known as deaconesses, Reference is made to a class of females whose duty it was to teach other females, and to take the general superintendence of that part of the church, in various places in the New Testament; and their existence is expressly affirmed in early ecclesiastical history. They appear to have been commonly aged and experienced widows, sustaining a fair reputation, and fitted to guide and instruct those who were young and inexperienced. Comp. 1 Ti 5:3,9-11; Tit 2:4.

The Apostolical Constitutions, Book iii., say, "Ordain a deaconess who is faithful and holy, for the ministries toward the women." Pliny, in his celebrated letter to Trajan, says, when speaking of the efforts which he made to obtain information respecting the opinions and practices of Christians, "I deemed it necessary to put two maid-servants who are called ministrae [that is, deaconesses] to the torture, in order to ascertain what is the truth." The reasons of their appointment among the Gentiles were these:

(1.) The females were usually separate from the men. They were kept secluded, for the most part, and not permitted to mingle in society with men, as is the custom now.

(2.) It became necessary, therefore, to appoint aged and experienced females to instruct the young, to visit the sick, to provide for them, and to perform for them the services which male deacons performed for the whole church. It is evident, however, that they were confined to these offices, and that they were never regarded as an order of ministers, or suffered to preach to congregations, 1 Ti 2:12; 1 Co 14:34.

Of the church, etc. This is the only mention which occurs of a church at that place. It was probably collected by the labours of Paul.

At Cenchrea. This was the sea-port of Corinth. Corinth was situated on the middle of the isthmus, and had two harbours, or ports: Cenchrea on the east, about eight or nine miles from the city; and Lechaeum on the west. Cenchrea opened into the AEgean Sea, and was the principal port. It was on this isthmus, between these two ports, that the Isthmian games were celebrated, to which the apostle refers so often in his epistles.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 2

Verse 2. That ye receive her, etc. That you acknowledge her as being in the Lord, or as being a servant of the Lord; that is, as a Christian. Comp. Ro 14:3; Php 2:29.

As becometh saints. As it is proper that Christians should treat their brethren.

She hath been a succourer of many. The word used here prostativ) means, properly, a patron, a help, and was applied by the Greeks to one who presided over an assembly; to one who became a patron of others; who aided or defended them in their cause; and especially one who undertook to manage the cause of strangers and foreigners before the courts. It was, therefore, an honourable appellation. Applied to Phebe, it means probably that she had shown great kindness in various ways to the apostle, and to other Christians; probably by receiving them into her house; by administering to the sick, etc. Such persons have a claim on the respect and Christian attentions of others.

{q} "receive her in the Lord" Php 2:29

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 3

Verse 3. Greet Priscilla and Aquila. Salute; implying the apostle's kind remembrance of them, and his wishes for their welfare.

Priscilla. Priscilla was the wife of Aquila. They are mentioned in Ac 18:2,26; 1 Co 16:19.

Paul at first found them at Corinth. Aquila was a Jew, born in Pontus, who had resided at Rome, and who had left Rome, and come to Corinth, when Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome. See Barnes "Ac 18:2".

It is probable that they were converted under the preaching of Paul. Paul lived with them, and they had the advantage of his private instruction, Ac 18:3; comp. Ro 16:26. At the death of Claudius, or whenever the decree for the expulsion of the Jews was repealed, it is probable that they returned to Rome.

My helpers. My fellow-workers. They had aided him in his work. A particular instance is mentioned in Ac 18:26. They are mentioned as having been with Paul when he wrote the first epistle to the Corinthians, 1 Co 16:19.

In Christ Jesus. In the Christian cause.

{r} "Priscilla and Aquila" Ac 18:2

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 4

Verse 4. Who have for my life. In order to save my life.

Laid down their own necks. To lay down the neck is to lay the head on a block to be cut off with the axe; or to bow down the head as when the neck was exposed to be cut off by the sword of the executioner The meaning is, that they had hazarded their lives, had exposed themselves to imminent danger, to save the life of Paul. On what occasion this was done is not known, as it is not elsewhere referred to in the New Testament. As Paul, however, lived with them, (Ac 18:3) and as he was often persecuted by the Jews, it is probable that he refers to some such period when he was persecuted, when Aquila and Priscilla took him into their house at the imminent hazard of their lives.

All the churches of the Gentiles. All the churches that had been founded by the apostles. They felt their obligation to them for having saved the life of him who had been their founder and who was their spiritual father.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 5

Verse 5. The church that is in their house. Aquila and Priscilla are mentioned (Ac 18:26) as having received Apollos into their family, to instruct him more perfectly. The church in their house is also mentioned, 1 Co 16:19. This may mean either the church that was accustomed to assemble for worship at their hospitable mansion; or it may mean their own family with their guests, regarded as a church. In those times Christians had no houses erected for public worship, and were therefore compelled to meet in their private dwellings.

Salute. The same word before translated "greet."

Who is the firstfruits. One who first embraced Christianity under my preaching in Achaia. The first-fruits were a small part of the harvest, which was first gathered and offered to the Lord, Ex 22:29; 23:10; Le 2:12; De 18:4.

In allusion to this, Paul calls Epenetus the first fruits of the great spiritual harvest which had been gathered in Achaia.

Achaia. See Barnes "Ro 15:26".

This name and those which follow are chiefly Greek, but we know little of the persons mentioned, except what is here recorded.

{s} "Salute my well-beloved Epenatus" 1 Co 16:19

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 6

Verse 6. Who bestowed much labour on us. Who laboured much for us. Nothing more is known of her but this honourable mention of her name. It is probable that these persons were formerly residents in Greece, and that the apostle had there become acquainted with them, but that they had now removed to Rome.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 7

Verse 7. My kinsmen. In Ro 9:3, the apostle calls all the Jews his kinsmen, and it has been doubted whether he means anything more here than that they were fellow-Jews. But as many others who were Jews are mentioned here without this appellation, and as he especially designates these persons, and Herodian, (Ro 16:11,) it seems probable that they were remote relatives of the apostle.

My fellow prisoners. Paul was often in prison; and it is probable that on some of those occasions they had been confined with him. Comp. 2 Co 11:23, "In prisons more frequent."

Who are of note. The word translated of note, (epishmoi) denotes, properly, those who are marked, designated, or distinguished in any way; used either in a good or bad sense. Comp. Mt 27:16. Here it is used in a good sense.

Among the apostles. This does not mean that they were apostles, as has been sometimes supposed. For,

(1.) there is no account of their having been appointed as such.

(2.) The expression is not one which would have been used if they had been. It would have been, "who were distinguished apostles." Comp. Ro 1:1; 1 Co 1:1; 2 Co 1:1; Col 1:1.

(3.) It by no means implies that they were apostles. All that the expression fairly implies is, that they were known to the other apostles; that they were regarded by them as worthy of their affection and confidence; that they had been known by them, as Paul immediately adds, before he was himself converted. They had been converted before he was, and were distinguished in Jerusalem among the early Christians, and honoured with the friendship of the other apostles.

(4.) The design of the office of apostles was to bear witness to the life, death, resurrection, doctrines, and miracles of Christ. Comp. Mt 10; Ac 1:21,22; 22:15.

As there is no evidence that they had been witnesses of these things, or appointed to it, it is improbable that they were set apart to the apostolic office,

(5.) The word apostles is used sometimes to designate messengers of churches; or those who were sent from one church to another on some important business; and if this expression meant that they were apostles, it could only be in some such sense as having obtained deserved credit and eminence in that business. See Php 2:25; 2 Co 8:23.

Who were in Christ, etc. Who were converted before I was. The meaning is clear. The expression, in Christ, means to be united to him, to be interested in his religion, to be Christians.

{t} "in Christ" Ga 1:22

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 8

Verse 8. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 9

Verse 9. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 10

Verse 10. Approved in Christ. An approved or tried Christian; approved and beloved by Christ.

{1} "household", or "friends"

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 11

Verse 11. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 12

Verse 12. Tryphena and Tryphosa. These names, with the participle rendered "who labour," are in the feminine gender, and these were probably two holy women, who performed the office of deaconesses, or who ministered to the sick, and who with Persis, thus by example, and perhaps by instruction, laboured to promote the spread of Christianity. Pious females then, as now, were able to do much in their proper sphere to extend the truths and blessings of the gospel.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 13

Verse 13. Chosen in the Lord. Elect in the Lord; that is, a chosen follower of Christ.

And his mother and mine. "His mother in a literal sense, and mine in a figurative one." An instance of the delicacy and tenderness of Paul; of his love for this disciple and his mother, as if he were of the same family, Religion binds the hearts of all who embrace it tenderly together. It makes them feel that they are one great family, united by tender ties, and joined by peculiar attachments. See what the Lord Jesus declared in Mt 12:47-50, and his tender address to John when he was on the cross, Joh 19:28,27.

{u} "chosen in the Lord" Eph 1:4; 2 Jo 1:1

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 14

Verse 14. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 15

Verse 15. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 16

Verse 16. Salute one another. Greet one another in an affectionate manner; that is, treat each other with kindness and love, and evince all proper marks of affection.

With an holy kiss. This mode of salutation has been practised at all times; and particularly in eastern nations. It was even practised by men. See Barnes "Lu 22:47,48".

The use of the word holy here serves to denote that Paul intended it as an expression of Christian affection; and to guard against all improper familiarity and scandal. It was common, according to Justin Martyr, (Apology,) for the early Christians to practise it in their religious assemblies.

The churches of Christ. That is, the churches in the vicinity of the place where the apostle wrote this epistle; probably the churches particularly in Achaia.

{y} "The churches of Christ" 1 Co 16:20; 1 Pe 5:14

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 17

Verse 17. Now I beseech you. One great object of this epistle had been to promote peace between the Jewish and Gentile converts. So much did this subject press upon the mind of the apostle, that he seems unwilling to leave it. Re returns to it again and again; and even after the epistle is apparently concluded, he returns to it, to give them a new charge on the subject.

Mark them. Observe attentively, cautiously, and faithfully, (Php 3:17) be on your guard against them. Ascertain who are the real causes of the divisions that spring up, and avoid them.

Which cause. Who make. Probably he refers here to Jewish teachers, or those who insisted strenuously on the observance of the rites of Moses, and who setup a claim for greater purity and orthodoxy than those possessed who received the Gentile converts as Christian brethren. The Jews were perpetually thus recalling the Christian converts to the law of Moses; insisting on the observance of those rites; troubling the churches, and producing dissensions and strifes, Ga 3:1; 5:1-8; Ac 15:1,24.

Divisions. Dissensions; parties; factions, 1 Co 3:3; Ga 5:20. The very attempt to form such parties was evil, no matter what the pretence. They who attempt to form parties in the churches are commonly actuated by some evil or ambitious design.

And offences. Scandals; or that give occasion for others to fall into sin. These two things are different. The first means parties; the other denotes such a course of life as would head others into sin. The Jew would form parties, on the pretence of superior holiness; the Gentiles, or some bold Gentile convert, might deride the scrupulous feelings of the Jew, and might thus lead him into sin in regard to what his conscience really forbade. See Ro 14:15. These persons on both sides were to be avoided, and they were to refuse to follow them, and to cultivate the spirit of unity and peace.

Contrary to the doctrine. To the teaching which you have received in this epistle and elsewhere; the teaching that these divisions should cease; that the Jewish ceremonies are not binding; that all should lay aside their causes of former difference, and be united in one family. See Romans chapters 14 and 15.

And avoid them. Give them no countenance or approbation. Do not follow them. Comp. 1 Ti 6:3,4,6; 2 Jo 1:10; Ga 1:8,9.

That is, avoid them as teachers; do not follow them. It does not mean that they were to be treated harshly; but that they were to be avoided in their instructions. They were to disregard all that they could say tending to produce alienation and strife; and resolve to cultivate the spirit of peace and union. This would be an admirable rule if always followed. Let men make peace their prime object; resolve to love all who are Christians, and it will be an infallible gauge by which to measure the arguments of those who seek to promote alienations and contentions.

{w} "and offenses" 1 Ti 6:3-5

{x} "avoid them" Mt 18:17; 1 Co 5:11; 2 Th 3:6,14

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 18

Verse 18. Serve not. Obey not. Though they are professedly, yet they are not his real friends and followers.

But their own belly. Their own lusts; their own private interests; they do this to obtain support. The authors of parties and divisions, in church and state, have this usually in view. It is for the indulgence of some earthly appetite; to obtain office or property; or to gratify the love of dominion.

And by good words. Mild, fair, plausible speeches; with an appearance of great sincerity, and regard for the truth. Comp. Col 2:4; 2 Pe 2:3. Men who cause divisions commonly make great pretensions to peculiar love of truth and orthodoxy; and put on the appearance of great sincerity, sanctity, and humility.

And fair speeches. Greek, (eulogiav) eulogy, praise, flattery. This is another very common art. Flattery is one of the most powerful means of forming parties in the church; and a little special attention, or promise of an office, or commendation for talents or acquirements, will secure many to the purposes of party, whom no regard for truth or orthodoxy could influence a moment.

Deceive the hearts of the simple. The minds of the unsuspecting, or those who are without guile, (twn akakwn). The apostle means to designate those who are simple-hearted, without any disposition to deceive others themselves, and of course without any suspicions of the designs of others. He has thus drawn the art of making parties with the hand of a master. First, there are smooth, plausible pretences, as of great love for truth. Then, an artful mingling of attentions and flatteries; and all this practised on the minds of the unsuspecting, drawing their hearts and affections towards themselves. Happy would it have been if the art had been confined to his own times.

{y} "and by good words" Php 3:19

{z} "fair speeches" Col 2:4; 2 Pe 2:3

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 19

Verse 19. For your obedience, etc. Ro 1:8. Your mild, obedient disposition to learn, and to obey the precepts of the teachers of religion.

I am glad, etc. I rejoice that you evince such a disposition. But he immediately adds, that this was just the temper to be imposed upon, and cautions them against that danger.

Wise unto that which is good. Evince understanding of that which is adapted to promote good and worthy ends.

Simple concerning evil. Greek, harmless. Not disposed to do wrong; having no plan, and yielding to none of the allurements of evil. You have shown your wisdom in obeying the gospel. I would have you still evince wisdom towards every good design; but to be unacquainted with any plan of evil. Do not yield to those plans, or follow those who would lead you into them.

{a} "abroad unto all men" Ro 1:8

{b} "wise unto that which is good" Mt 10:16

{1} "simple" or, "harmless"

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 20

Verse 20. And the God of peace. The God who promotes peace, Ro 15:33.

Shall bruise. The language here refers to the prediction in Ge 3:15. It here means to subdue, to gain the victory over. It denotes Paul's confidence that they would gain the victory, and would be able to overcome all the arts of those who were endeavouring to sow discord and contention among them.

Satan. The word Satan is Hebrew, meaning, originally, an accuser, a calumniator, and then an enemy. It is given to the prince of evil spirits from his enmity to God and men. He is here regarded as the author of all attempts to promote discord in the church, by whomsoever those attempts were made. Hence they who attempt to produce divisions are called "his ministers," 2 Co 11:15. God would disappoint their malignant purposes, and promote the prevalence of peace.

The grace. The favour; the mercy, etc. The Lord Jesus is the Prince of Peace, (Isa 9:6 comp. Lu 2:14; Joh 14:27); and this expression is a prayer to him, or an earnest wish expressed, that the design of his coming might be accomplished in promoting the prevalence of order and peace. Comp. 1 Co 16:23; Re 22:21.

{c} "God of peace" Ro 15:33

{2) "bruise" or, "tread"

{d} "Satan" Ge 3:15

{e} "shortly" Re 12:10

{f} "Amen" 1 Co 16:23; Re 22:21

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 21

Verse 21. Timotheus. Timothy; to whom the epistles which bear his name were written. He was long the companion of Paul in his labours, Ac 16:1; 1 Co 16:10; 2 Co 1:1,19; Php 2:19; 1 Th 3:2; 1 Ti 1:2; Heb 13:23.

And Lucius. He is mentioned in Ac 13:1 as a prophet and teacher, a native of Cyrene. Nothing more is known of him.

My kinsmen. Ro 16:7

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 22

Verse 23. I Tertius. Of Tertius nothing more is known than is mentioned here.

Who wrote this. It is evident that Paul employed an amanuensis to write this epistle, and perhaps he commonly did it. Tertius, who thus wrote it, joins with the apostle in affectionate salutations to the brethren at Rome. To the epistle Paul signed his own name, and added a salutation in his own hand-writing. Col 3:18, "The salutation by the hand of me Paul;" and in 2 Th 3:17, he says that this was done in every epistle. 1 Co 16:21.

In the Lord. As Christian brethren.

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 23

Verse 23. Gaius mine host. Who has received me into his house, and shown me hospitality. The word host means one who entertains another at his own house without reward.

And of the whole church. Who has opened his house to entertain all Christians; or to show hospitality to them all. He was baptized by Paul himself at Corinth, (1 Co 1:14) and was so highly esteemed by the church, that John wrote an epistle to him, 3 Jo 1:1. He was probably a wealthy citizen of Corinth, who freely opened his house to entertain Christians, and for the purpose of religious worship.

Erastus. Erastus is mentioned (Ac 19:22) as having been sent by Paul with Timothy into Macedonia. He is also mentioned (2 Ti 4:20) as having resided at Corinth.

The chamberlain. A chamberlain is, properly, an officer who has charge of a chamber, or of chambers. In England, the lord chamberlain is the sixth officer of the crown, and has charge of the king's lodgings and wardrobe, etc. He has also an important rank on days of public solemnities, as the coronation day, etc. The word used here is commonly in the New Testament translated steward. It properly means one who has charge of domestic affairs, to provide for a family, to pay the servants, etc. In this place it means one who presided over the pecuniary affairs of the city; and should have been translated the treasurer; the city treasurer; an office of trust and of some importance, showing that all who were converted at Corinth were not of the lowest rank. This is implied in 1 Co 1:26, "Not many wise men, not many mighty, not many noble, are called," implying that there were some such.

Quartus, a brother, A fellow-Christian.

{g} "Gaius" 1 Co 1:14; 3 Jo 1:1

{h} "Erastus" Ac 19:22

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 24

Verse 24. No Barnes text on this verse.

{i} "grace of our Lord" Ro 16:20

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 25

Verse 25. Now to him. This and the two following verses are found in many manuscripts at the close of the fourteenth chapter. Its proper place, however, is here; and the apostle thus concludes the whole epistle with an ascription of praise.

To him, etc. To God; be glory, Ro 16:20.

Is of power. Greek, Is able; who has power, Eph 3:20; Jude 1:24, "Now unto him that is able to keep you from failing," etc. God only can keep Christians in the path of salvation; and it was well to bring that truth prominently into view at the close of the epistle.

To stablish you. To strengthen and confirm you.

According to my Gospel. According to the gospel which I preach; the doctrines which I have been defending in this epistle. It is called his gospel, not because he was the author of it, or because others did not preach it also, but because he had been particularly defending it in this epistle. The doctrines which he had advanced were just those which were fitted to strengthen and confirm them—the doctrine of justification, of election, of perseverance, and of the protection and favour of God to both Jews and Gentiles. These were the doctrines which he had defended; and it might easily be shown that these are the doctrines that give stability to the Christian faith, hope, and love.

And the preaching of Jesus Christ. Not his personal preaching; but according to that preaching of which Christ is the author and the subject; and particularly, as the following clause shows, to the doctrines by which the partition between the Jews and the Gentiles was broken down, and by which they were admitted to the same privileges and hopes.

According to the revelation. According to the communication of that which has been so long concealed, but which is now made manifest. The word revelation, refers to the publication of the plan by the gospel.

Of the mystery. The word mystery means, properly, that which is hidden or concealed, and is thus applied to any doctrine which was not before known. It does not mean necessarily that which is unintelligible; but that which had not been before revealed. See Barnes "Mt 13:11".

The word here seems to refer to the principal doctrines of the gospel; its main truths, which had been concealed, especially from the entire Gentile world, but which were now made known.

Which was kept secret. Which was kept in silence, Greek, (sesighmenou) were not divulged or proclaimed.

Since the world began. In all past times. This refers particularly to the Gentiles. The Jews had some obscure intimations of these truths, but they were now made known to all the world. The phrase "since the world began" is, in Greek, "in eternal times;" that is, in all past times; or, as we should say, they have been always concealed.

{j} "to him that is of power" Eph 3:20; Jude 1:24

{k} "revelation of the mystery" Eph 1:9; Col 1:26,27

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 26

Verse 26. But now is made manifest. Is revealed, or made known; that which was so long concealed is now divulged, i.e. God's plan of saving men is now made known to all nations.

And by the Scriptures, etc. By the writings of the prophets. The prophetic writings contained the doctrines, obscurely indeed, but so as to be an important means of disseminating and confirming the truth, that the Gentiles should be made acquainted with the gospel. To those writings the apostle had repeatedly appealed in his defence of the proposition, that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentile world, chapters 10, 11, 15. The prophetic writings, moreover were extensively scattered among the Gentile nations, and thus were readily appealed to in defence of this position. Their writings being thus translated, and read, were an important means of propagating the truths of the Christian religion.

According to the commandment, etc. By his command through Jesus Christ; made known in the gospel of his Son.

The everlasting God. God who is eternal, and therefore unchanged. He who has indeed concealed this truth, but who has always intended that it should be revealed.

To all nations. Mt 28:19. Comp. Col 1:23.

{l} "all nations" Mt 28:19

THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 27

Verse 27. To God only wise. The apostle here resumes the doxology which had been interrupted by the parenthesis. The attribute of wisdom is here brought into view, because it had been particularly displayed in this plan which was now revealed. It evinced, in an eminent degree, the wisdom of God. That wisdom was evinced in devising the plan; in adapting it to the renewing of the heart; the justification of the sinner; his preservation, guidance, and sanctification; and in the manner in which the Divine attributes had all been seen to harmonize. All this the apostle had illustrated in the previous parts of the epistle; and now, full of the convictions of this wisdom, he desires that all the praise and honour should be to God. The tendency of the plan is to promote His glory. The obligation on all who are benefited by it is to give him praise.

Be glory. Praise; honour.

Through Jesus Christ. By means of the work which Jesus Christ has performed; through him now as Mediator and Intercessor in the heavens.

The subscription, "written to the Romans," etc., is evidently added by some other hand, but by whom is unknown. Paul assuredly would not write this to inform the Romans that it was sent by Phebe, whom he had just commended to their kindness. It has been shown, moreover, that no reliance is to be placed on any of the subscriptions to the epistles. Some of them are known to be false. By whom they were added is unknown. In this case, however, the fact which it states is correct, that it was written from Corinth, and sent by Phebe.


{m} "To God only wise" 1 Ti 1:17; Jude 1:25

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