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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 10 - Verse 15
Verse 15. And how shall they preach. In what way shall there be preachers, unless they are commissioned by God? The word "how" does not refer to the manner of preaching, but to the fact that there would be no preachers at all unless they were sent forth. To preach means to proclaim in a public manner, as a crier does. In the Scriptures it means to proclaim the gospel to men.
Except they be sent. That is, except they are divinely commissioned, and sent forth by God. This was an admitted doctrine among the Jews, that a proclamation of a Divine message must be made by one who was commissioned by God for that purpose, Jer 23:21; 1:7; 14:14,15
Jer 7:25. He who sends a message to men can alone designate the proper persons to bear it. The point of the objection, therefore, was this: Men could not believe unless the message was sent to them; yet God had not actually sent it to all men: it could not therefore be just, to make eternal life depend on so impracticable a thing as faith, since men had not the means of believing.
As it is written. In Isa 52:7.
How beautiful, etc. The reason why this passage is introduced here is, that it confirms what had just been advanced in the objection—the importance and necessity of there being messengers of salvation. That importance is seen in the high encomium which is passed on them in the sacred Scriptures. They are regarded as objects peculiarly attractive; their necessity is fully recognized; and a distinguished rank is given to them in the oracles of God.
How beautiful. How attractive; how lovely. This is taken from the Hebrew, with a slight variation. In the Hebrew, the words "upon the mountains" occur, which makes the passage more picturesque, though the sense is retained by Paul. The image in Isaiah is that of a herald seen at first leaping or running on a distant hill, when he first comes in sight, with tidings of joy from a field of battle, or from a distant land. Thus, the appearance of such a man to those who were in captivity, would be an image full of gladness and joy.
Are the feet. Many have supposed that the meaning of this expression is this: The feet of a herald, naked and dusty from travelling, would be naturally objects of disgust; but that which would be naturally disagreeable is thus made pleasant by the joy of the message. But this explanation is far-fetched, and wants parallel instances. Besides, it is a violation of the image which the apostle had used. That was a distant object—a herald running on the distant hills; and it supposes a picture too remote to observe distinctly the feet, whether attractive or not. The meaning of it is clearly this: "How beautiful is the coming or the running of such a herald." The feet are emblematic of his coming. Their rapid motion would be seen; and their rapidity would be beautiful from the desire to hear the message which he brought. The whole meaning of the passage, then, as applied to ministers of the gospel, is, that their coming is an attractive object, regarded with deep interest, and productive of joy—an honoured and a delightful employment.
That preach, etc. Literally, "that evangelize peace." That proclaim the good news of peace; or bring the glad message of peace.
And bring glad tidings, etc. Literally, "and evangelize good things;" or that bring the glad message of good things. Peace here is put for good of any kind; and as the apostle uses it, for the news of reconciliation with God by the gospel. Peace, at the end of the conflicts, distresses, and woes of war, is an image of all blessings. Thus it is put to denote the blessings when a stoner ceases to be the enemy of God, obtains pardon, and is admitted to the joys of those who are his children and friends. The coming of those messengers who proclaim it is joyful to the world. It fills the bosom of the anxious sinner with peace; and they and their message will be regarded with deep interest, as sent by God, and producing joy in an agitated bosom, and peace to the world. This is an illustration of the proper feeling with which we should regard the ministers of religion. This passage in Isaiah is referred by the Jews themselves to the times of the gospel. (Rosenmuller.)
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