13. 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. Deus autem spei impleat vos omni gaudio et pace in credendo, quo abundetis in spe per potentiam Spiritus sancti.
14. 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.
14. Persuasus autem sum, fratres mei, ipse quoque de vobis, quod et ipsi pleni sitis bonitate, referti omni cognitione, idonei ad vos mutuo ad-monendos.
15. 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. Audacius antera scripsi vobis, fratres, ex parte, veluti commonefaciens vos, propter gratiam mihi datam a Deo;
16. 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. Ut sim minister Christi erga Gentes, consecrans evangelium Christi, ut sit oblatio Gentium acceptabilis, sanctificata per Spiritum sanctum.
13. And may the God, etc. He now concludes the passage, as before, with prayer; in which he desires the Lord to give them whatever he had commanded. It hence appears, that the Lord does in no degree measure his precepts according to our strength or the power of free-will; and that he does not command what we ought to do, that we, relying on our own power, may gird up ourselves to render obedience; but that he commands those things which require the aid of his grace, that he may stimulate us in our attention to prayer.
In saying the God of hope, he had in view the last verse; as though he said, -- "May then the God in whom we all hope fill you with joy, that is, with cheerfulness of heart, and also with unity and concord, and this by believing:" 1 for in order that our peace may be approved by God, we must be bound together by real and genuine faith. If any one prefers taking in believing, for, in order to believe, 2 the sense will be, -- that they were to cultivate peace for the purpose of believing; for then only are we rightly prepared to believe, when we, being peaceable and unanimous, do willingly embrace what is taught us. It is however preferable, that faith should be connected with peace and joy; for it is the bond of holy and legitimate concord, and the support of godly joy. And though the peace which one has within with God may also be understood, yet the context leads us rather to the former explanation. 3
He further adds, that ye may abound in hope; for in this way also is hope confirmed and increased in us. The words, through the power of the Holy Spirit, intimate that all things are the gifts of the divine bounty: and the word power is intended emphatically to set forth that wonderful energy, by which the Spirit works in us faith, hope, joy, and peace.
14. But even I myself am persuaded, etc. This was said to anticipate an objection, or it may be deemed a kind of concession, made with the view of pacifying the Romans; in case they thought themselves reproved by so many and so urgent admonitions, and thus unjustly treated. He then makes an excuse for having ventured to assume towards them the character of a teacher and of an exhorter; and he says, that he had done so, not because he had any doubt as to their wisdom, or kindness, or perseverance; but because he was constrained by his office. Thus he removed every suspicion of presumption, which especially shows itself when any one thrusts himself into an office which does not belong to him, or speaks of those things which are unsuitable to him. We see in this instance the singular modesty of this holy man, to whom nothing was more acceptable than to be thought of no account, provided the doctrine he preached retained its authority.
There was much pride in the Romans; the name even of their city made the lowest of the people proud; so that they could hardly bear a teacher of another nation, much less a barbarian and a Jew. With this haughtiness Paul would not contend in his own private name: he however subdued it, as it were, by soothing means; for he testified that he undertook to address them on account of his Apostolic office.
Ye are full of goodness, being filled with knowledge, etc. Two qualifications are especially necessary for him who gives admonitions: the first is kindness, which disposes his mind to aid his brethren by his advice, and also tempers his countenance and his words with courtesy, -- and the second is skill in advice or prudence, which secures authority to him, inasmuch as he is able to benefit the hearers whom he addresses. There is indeed nothing more opposed to brotherly admonitions than malignity and arrogance, which make us disdainfully to despise the erring, and to treat them with ridicule, rather than to set them right. Asperity also, whether it appears in words or in the countenance, deprives our admonitions of their fruit. But however you may excel in the feeling of kindness, as well as in courtesy, you are not yet fit to advise, except you possess wisdom and experience. Hence he ascribes both these qualifications to the Romans, bearing them a testimony, -- that they were themselves sufficiently competent, without the help of another, to administer mutual exhortations: for he admits, that they abounded both in kindness and wisdom. It hence follows, that they were able to exhort.
15. The more boldly, however, have I written to you, etc. The excuse follows, and in adducing this, that he might more fully show his modesty, he says, by way of concession, that he acted boldly in interposing in a matter which they themselves were able to do; but he adds that he was led to be thus bold on account of his office, because he was the minister of the gospel to the Gentiles, and could not therefore pass by them who were also Gentiles. He however thus humbles himself, that he might exalt the excellency of his office; for by mentioning the favor of God, by which he was elevated to that high honor, he shows that he could not suffer what he did according to his apostolic office to be despised. Besides, he denies that he had assumed the part of a teacher, but that of an admonisher, 4
16. Consecrating the gospel, etc. This rendering I prefer to that which Erasmus in the first place adopts, that is, "Administering;" for nothing is more certain than that Paul here alludes to the holy mysteries which were performed by the priest. He then makes himself a chief priest or a priest in the ministration of the gospel, to offer up as a sacrifice the people whom he gained for God, and in this manner he labored in the holy mysteries of the gospel. And doubtless this is the priesthood of the Christian pastor, that is, to sacrifice men, as it were, to God, by bringing them to obey the gospel, and not, as the Papists have hitherto haughtily vaunted, by offering up Christ to reconcile men to God. He does not, however, give here the name of priests to the pastors of the Church simply as a perpetual title, but intending to commend the honor and power of the ministry, Paul availed himself of the opportunity of using this metaphor. Let then the preachers of the gospel have this end in view while discharging their office, even to offer up to God souls purified by faith.
What Erasmus afterwards puts down as being more correct, "sacrificing the gospel," is not only improper but obscures also the meaning; for the gospel is, on the contrary, like a sword, by which the minister sacrifices men as victims to God. 5
He adds that such sacrifices are acceptable to God; which is not only a commendation of the ministry, but also a singular consolation to those who surrender themselves to be thus consecrated. Now as the ancient victims were dedicated to God, having been externally sanctified and washed, so these victims are consecrated to the Lord by the Spirit of holiness, through whose power, inwardly working in them, they are separated from this world. For though the purity of the soul proceeds from faith in the word, yet as the voice of man is in itself inefficacious and lifeless, the work of cleansing really and properly belongs to the Spirit.