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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 bloody sacrifices, 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

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