Romans 15:25-29

25. But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.

25. Nunc verb proficiscor Ierosolymam ad ministrandum sanctis.

26. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.

26. Placuit enim Macedoniae et Achaiae communicationem facere in pauperes sanctos qui sunt Ierosolymis:

27. It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto their in carnal things.

27. Placuit, inquam, et debitores sunt ipsorum; si enim spiritualibus ipsorum communicarunt Gentes, debent et in carnalibus 1 ministrare ipsis.

28. When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.

28. Hoc igitur quum perfecero, et obsignavero illis fructum hunc, pro-ficiscar per vos in Hispaniam.

29. And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.

29. Scio autem quod quum venero ad vos, in plenitudine benedictionis evangelii Christi venturus sum.

25. But I am going now, etc. Lest they should expect his immediate coming, and think themselves deceived, if he had not come according to their expectation, he declares to them what business he had then in hand, which prevented him from going soon to them, and that was, -- that he was going to Jerusalem to bear the alms which had been gathered in Macedonia and Achaia. Availing himself at the same time of this opportunity, he proceeds to commend that contribution; by which, as by a kind of intimation, he stirs them up to follow this example: for though he does not openly ask them, yet, by saying that Macedonia and Achaia had done what they ought to have done, he intimates, that it was also the duty of the Romans, as they were under the same obligation; and that he had this view, he openly confesses to the Corinthians, --

"I boast," he says, "of your promptitude to all the Churches, that they may be stirred up by your example."
(2 Corinthians 9:2.)

It was indeed a rare instance of kindness, that the Grecians, having heard that their brethren at Jerusalem were laboring under want, considered not the distance at which they were separated from them; but esteeming those sufficiently nigh, to whom they were united by the bond of faith, they relieved their necessities from their own abundance. The word communication, which is here employed, ought to be noticed; for it well expresses the feeling, by which it behooves us to succor the wants of our brethren, even because there is to be a common and mutual regard on account of the unity of the body. I have not rendered the pronoun tina<, because it is often redundant in Greek, and seems to lessen the emphasis of this passage. 2 What we have rendered to minister, is in Greek a participle, ministering; but the former seems more fitted to convey the meaning of Paul: for he excuses himself, that by a lawful occupation he was prevented from going immediately to Rome.

27. And their debtors they are, etc. Every one perceives, that what is said here of obligation, is said not so much for the sake of the Corinthians as for the Romans themselves; for the Corinthians or the Macedonians were not more indebted to the Jews than the Romans. And he adds the ground of this obligation, -- that they had received the gospel from them: and he takes his argument from the comparison of the less with the greater. He employs also the same in another place, that is, that it ought not to have appeared to them an unjust or a grievous compensation to exchange carnal things, which are immensely of less value, for things spiritual. (2 Corinthians 9:11.) And it shows the value of the gospel, when he declares, that they were indebted not only to its ministers, but also to the whole nation, from whom they had come forth.

And mark the verb leitourgh~sai, to minister; which means to discharge one's office in the commonwealth, and to undergo the burden of one's calling: it is also sometimes applied to sacred things. Nor do I doubt but that Paul meant that it is a kind of sacrifice, when the faithful gave of their own to relieve the wants of their brethren; for they thus perform that duty of love which they owe, and offer to God a sacrifice of an acceptable odor. But in this place what he had peculiarly in view was the mutual right of compensation.

28. And sealed to them this fruit, etc. I disapprove not of what some think, that there is here an allusion to a practice among the ancients, who closed up with their seals what they intended to lay up in safety. Thus Paul commends his own faithfulness and integrity; as though he had said, that he was an honest keeper of the money deposited in his hands, no otherwise than if he carried it sealed up. 3 -- The word fruit seems to designate the produce, which he had before said returned to the Jews from the propagation of the gospel, in a way similar to the land, which by bringing forth fruit supports its cultivator.

29. And I know, that when I come, etc. These words may be explained in two ways: he first meaning is, -- that he should find a plentiful fruit from the gospel at Rome; for the blessing of the gospel is, when it fructifies by good works: but to confine this to alms, as some do, is not what I approve. The second is, that in order to render his coming to them more an object of desire, he says, that he hopes that it would not be unfruitful, but that it would make a great accession to the gospel; and this he calls fullness of blessing, which signifies a full blessing; by which expression he means great success and increase. But this blessing depended partly on his ministry and partly on their faith. Hence he promises, that his coming to them would not be in vain, as he would not disappoint them of the grace given to him, but would bestow it with the same alacrity with which their minds were prepared to receive the gospel.

The former exposition has been most commonly received, and seems also to me the best; that is, that he hoped that at his coming he would find what he especially wished, even that the gospel flourished among them and prevailed with evident success, -- that they were excelling in holiness and in all other virtues. For the reason he gives for his desire is, that he hoped for no common joy in seeing them, as he expected to see them abounding in all the spiritual riches of the gospel. 4

1 "In carnalibus;" ejn toi~v sarkikoi~v. The word "carnal" in our language does not convey the meaning. The Apostle uses it here in opposition to what is "spiritual," and therefore "temporal" expresses its meaning. See 1 Corinthians 9:11. It sometimes means "human," as in 2 Corinthians 1:12, where man's wisdom is set in contrast with God's wisdom. In 2 Corinthians 10:4, it means "weak," or feeble, or powerless, being opposed to the "mighty" weapons of God. It has its own proper meaning in Romans 7:14, and in 1 Peter 2:11, "carnal," that is, wicked, sinful, corrupt, depraved. In 1 Corinthians 3:1, it signifies weak, ignorant, imperfect in knowledge, as opposed to spiritual and enlightened persons. And in Hebrews 7:16, it expresses what is fleeting and transitory. In no language is there one word which can convey all the meanings of a similar word in another: hence the necessity of changing a word sometimes in a translation. -- Ed.

2 The words are, koinwni>an tina< poih>sasqai, "to make a certain contribution," or, "some contribution," or, as Doddridge has it, "a certain collection." There seems to be no necessity for leaving out the word tina<. -- Ed.

3 More satisfactory is the explanation of Stuart: he says, that the word "sealed" means that the instrument to which a seal is applied is authenticated, made valid, i.e., "sure to answer the purpose intended. So here the Apostle would not stop short in the performance of his duty, as the almoner of the Churches, until he had seen the actual distribution of their charity." It seems then that "sealed" here means "secured," or safely conveyed. "Delivered to them safely," is the paraphrase of Hammond. -- Ed.

4 This explanation is that of Chrysostom; but how to make the words to give such a meaning is a matter of some difficulty. The obvious import of the passage corresponds with Romans 1:11. All the authors quoted by Poole, except Estius, take the other view, such as Grotius, Beza, Mede, etc. The last gives the following as the sentiments of Origen and Anselm -- "My preaching and conversation shall impart to you an abundant knowledge of the gospel mysteries, love, comfort, grace, and spiritual fruit." The word "blessing," eujlogi>a, is said by Grotius to mean everything that is freely bestowed on us. See Galatians 3:14; Ephesians 1:3. The words tou~ eujaggeli>ou tou~, are not considered genuine by Griesbach and by most critics. This makes no difference in the meaning: the clause then would be, -- "With the fullness of the blessings of Christ," or, with the abounding blessings of Christ; or, as Beza renders it, "with the full blessing of Christ." -- Ed.