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15. Ministry to the Gentiles

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. 3For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. 4For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 5Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

7Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. 8Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: 9And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. 10And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. 11And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. 12And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. 13Now 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. 14And 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. 15Nevertheless, 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, 16That 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. 17I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God. 18For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, 19Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. 20Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation: 21But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand. 22For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you. 23But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you; 24Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. 25But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. 26For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. 27It 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 them in carnal things. 28When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain. 29And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.

30Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; 31That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; 32That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. 33Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

30. Now I beseech you, etc. It is well known from many passages how much ill-will prevailed against Paul in his own nation on account of false reports, as though he taught a departure from Moses. He knew how much calumnies might avail to oppress the innocent, especially among those who are carried away by inconsiderate zeal. Added also to this, was the testimony of the Spirit, recorded in Acts 20:23; by which he was forewarned, that bonds and afflictions awaited him at Jerusalem. The more danger then he perceived, the more he was moved: hence it was, that he was so solicitous to commend his safety to the Churches; nor let us wonder, that he was anxious about his life, in which he knew so much danger to the Church was involved.

He then shows how grieved his godly mind was, by the earnest protestation he makes, in which he adds to the name of the Lord, the love of the Spirit, by which the saints ought to embrace one another. But though in so great a fear, he yet continued to proceed; nor did he so dread danger, but that he was prepared willingly to meet it. At the same time he had recourse to the remedies given him by God; for he solicited the aid of the Church, so that being helped by its prayers, he might find comfort, according to the Lord’s promise, —

“Where two or three shall assemble in my name, there in the midst of them am I,” (Matthew 18:20;)

and,

“Whatsoever they agree in on earth, they shall obtain in heaven,” (Matthew 18:19.)

And lest no one should think it an unmeaning commendation, he besought them both by Christ and by the love of the Spirit. The love of the Spirit is that by which Christ joins us together; for it is not that of the flesh, nor of the world, but is from his Spirit, who is the bond of our unity.

Since then it is so great a favor from God to be helped by the prayers of the faithful, that even Paul, a most choice instrument of God, did not think it right to neglect this privilege, how great must be our stupidity, if we, who are abject and worthless creatures, disregard it? But to take a handle from such passages for the purpose of maintaining the intercessions of dead saints, is an instance of extreme effrontery. 465465     Scott quotes the following from Whitby, — “If Paul, saith Estius, might desire the prayers of the Romans, why might not the Romans desire the prayers of Paul? I answer, they might desire his prayers, as he did theirs, by a letter directed to him to pray for them. He adds, If they might desire his prayers for them when living, why not when dead and reigning with Christ? I answer, Because they could direct no epistle to him, or in any other way acquaint him with their mind.” — Ed.

That ye strive together with me, 466466     “Ut concertetis mihi,” συναγωνίσασθαί μοι; “ut mecum certetis — that ye strive with me,” — Beza; “ut mecum laboretis — that ye labor with me,” — Tremelius, from the Syriac. Literally it is, “that ye agonize with me.” It is an allusion, says Grotius, to Jacob’s wrestling with the angel. Genesis 32:24. A strenuous and earnest supplication is intended. Pareus says, that it is a metaphor taken from warfare, when a soldier comes to the help of another: but rather from the games, when there is a striving for the prize. He would have the Romans to make a similar strenuous effort for him in prayer to God. The word ἀγὼν, is an agonistic and not a military term. — Ed. etc. Erasmus has not given an unsuitable rendering, “That ye help me laboring:” but, as the Greek word, used by Paul, has more force, I have preferred to give a literal rendering: for by the word strive, or contend, he alludes to the difficulties by which he was oppressed, and by bidding them to assist in this contest, he shows how the godly ought to pray for their brethren, that they are to assume their person, as though they were placed in the same difficulties; and he also intimates the effect which they have; for he who commends his brother to the Lord, by taking to himself a part of his distress, do so far relieve him. And indeed if our strength is derived from prayer to God, we can in no better way confirm our brethren, than by praying to God for them.


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