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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

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