Romans 1:9
For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) Proof that the Apostle takes this lively interest in the Roman Church conveyed through a solemn adjuration.

Whom I serve.—The word for “serve” is strictly used for voluntary service paid to God, especially in the way of sacrifice and outward worship. Here it is somewhat metaphorical: “Whom I serve, not so much with outward acts as with the ritual of the spirit.”

With my spirit.—“Spirit” is with St. Paul the highest part or faculty in the nature of man. It is the seat of his higher consciousness—the organ by which he communicates with God. “Certainly man is of kin to the beasts by his body; and if he be not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature.” (Bacon, Essay on Atheism.) Of itself the “spirit” of man is neutral. When brought into contact with the Spirit of God, it is capable of a truly religious life; but apart from this influence, it is apt to fall under the dominion of the “flesh”—i.e., of those evil appetites and desires to which man is exposed by his physical organisation.

In the gospel of his Son.—The sphere to which the Apostle feels himself called, and in which this heart-worship of his finds its field of operation, is the defence and preaching, &c., of the gospel.

(9-11) It is the constant subject of the Apostle’s prayers that he may succeed in making his way to Rome; so anxious is he to open his heart to that Church in personal- apostolic intercourse.

Romans 1:9-12. For God is my witness — In saying I am thankful for your conversion, I might be well supposed to speak the truth, such an event being perfectly agreeable to the continual tenor of my petitions to God; whom I serve — Not only as a Christian, but as an apostle; with my spirit — With my understanding and conscience, will and affections, yea, with all the faculties of my soul, as well as with all the members of my body. Or, as the expression may be rendered, in my spirit, exercising faith in him, love to him, humility before him, resignation to his will, and zeal for his glory; in the gospel of his Son — To promote the success of which is the whole business of my life; that without ceasing I make mention of you in my prayers — In my solemn addresses to God; making request Δεομενος, entreating; if by any means, now at length — This accumulation of particles declares the strength of his desire; that I may impart to you — Face to face, by laying on of my hands, preaching the gospel, prayer, private conversation; some spiritual gift — With such gifts the Corinthians, who had enjoyed the presence of St. Paul, abounded, 1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 12:1, &c.; Romans 14:1. So did the Galatians likewise, Galatians 3:5. And indeed all those churches which had the presence of any of the apostles, had peculiar advantages in this kind from the laying on of their hands, Acts 19:6; Acts 8:17, &c.; 2 Timothy 1:6. But, as yet, the Christians at Rome were greatly inferior to them in this respect; for which reason the apostle, in the 12th chapter, where he has occasion to mention gifts, says little, if any thing, of any extraordinary spiritual gifts possessed by any of them. He therefore desires to impart some to them, that they might be established in their Christian faith, and fortified against all temptations, either to renounce or dishonour it. For by these gifts the testimony of Christ was confirmed to the members of the churches. That Peter had no more been at Rome than Paul, at the time when this epistle was written, appears from the general tenor thereof, and from this place in particular. For otherwise, the gifts which Paul wishes to impart to the believers at Rome, would have been imparted already by Peter. That is, that I may be comforted together with you — As I have great reason to believe we shall be; by the mutual faith both of you — Whose faith will be strengthened and confirmed by these gifts; and me — Whose faith will be encouraged and increased when I see believers established, and unbelievers converted by these gifts. As often as the apostles communicated spiritual gifts to their disciples, it was a new proof to themselves of God’s presence with them, and an additional confirmation of their mission from God in the eyes of others, both of which, no doubt, gave them great joy. In this passage, we see the apostle not only associates the Romans with, but even prefers them before, himself. How different is this style of the apostle from that of the modern court of Rome!1:8-15 We must show love for our friends, not only by praying for them, but by praising God for them. As in our purposes, so in our desires, we must remember to say, If the Lord will, Jas 4:15. Our journeys are made prosperous or otherwise, according to the will of God. We should readily impart to others what God has trusted to us, rejoicing to make others joyful, especially taking pleasure in communing with those who believe the same things with us. If redeemed by the blood, and converted by the grace of the Lord Jesus, we are altogether his; and for his sake we are debtors to all men, to do all the good we can. Such services are our duty.For God is my witness - The reason of this strong appeal to God is, to show to the Romans the deep interest which he felt in their welfare This interest was manifested in his prayers, and in his earnest desires to see them. A deep interest shown in this way was well suited to prepare them to receive what he had to say to them.

Whom I serve - See Romans 1:1; compare Acts 17:23. The expression denotes that he was devoted to God in this manner; that he obeyed him; and had given himself to do his will in making known his gospel.

With my spirit - Greek, ἐν en, in my spirit, that is, with my "heart." It is not an external service merely; it is internal, real, sincere. He was really and sincerely devoted to the service of God.

In the gospel of his Son - In making known the gospel, or as a minister of the gospel.

That without ceasing - ἀδιαλείπτως adialeiptōs. This word means constantly, always, without intermission. It was not only once, but repeatedly. It had been the burden of his prayers. The same thing he also mentions in regard to other churches, 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

I make mention - I call you to remembrance, and present your case before God. This evinced his remarkable interest in a church which he had never seen, and it shows that Paul was a man of prayer; praying not for his friends and kindred only, but for those whom he had never seen. If with the same intensity of prayer all Christians, and Christian ministers, would remember the churches, what a different aspect would the Christian church soon assume!

Always - This word should be connected with the following verse, "Always making request," etc.

9. For God … whom I serve—the word denotes religious service.

with my spirit—from my inmost soul.

in the gospel of his Son—to which Paul's whole religious life and official activity were consecrated.

is my witness, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers—so for the Ephesians (Eph 1:15, 16); so for the Philippians (Php 1:3, 4); so for the Colossians (Col 1:3, 4); so for the Thessalonians (1Th 1:2, 3). What catholic love, what all-absorbing spirituality, what impassioned devotion to the glory of Christ among men!

God is my witness; in these words there is the force, if not the form, of an oath. See the like, 2 Corinthians 1:18 11:31 Galatians 1:20. His great love and care of them was a hidden thing, and known only to God; to him therefore he appeals for the truth thereof. Oaths, in certain cases, are allowable under the New Testament, as well as the Old.

With my spirit, i.e. sincerely, or with my whole heart: see Ephesians 6:6 2 Timothy 1:3.

Without ceasing, i.e. as often as he prayed. This was a great indication of his hearty affection to them. For God is my witness, whom I serve,.... These words are an appeal to God, and carry in them the nature and form of an oath; the reason of the apostle's using it was, because he was personally unknown to the Romans, and they to him, and so might doubt of his affectionate regard unto them; and therefore for the confirmation thereof he uses it: this was a case which was only known to God and himself, and hence he appeals to him for the truth of it. The object of his oath or appeal, or by which he speaks, is not himself, or anything that belonged to him, nor any creature in heaven or on earth, but God; who in a solemn oath is only to be appealed to and sworn by: he describes him as the God "whom he served", to distinguish him from all false gods, and to show that he that takes an oath, should be one that fears and serves the Lord; what he served him in was not the law, but

the Gospel of his Son; Jesus Christ, who is the author, minister, and subject matter of it: he served him in it, by preaching, spreading, and defending it. This is a service, and a very laborious one, and makes for the honour and glory of God. The manner in which he served him was, as he says,

with my Spirit; either with the Spirit of God, which was given to him; or in a spiritual manner, in opposition to the carnal worship of the Jews; internally, in opposition to bodily exercise only, and voluntarily, with his whole heart, soul, and spirit. The matter or substance of his appeal or oath was,

that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; whence may be observed, that prayer to God ought to be constant; and that we should be concerned for others as well as for ourselves; all the saints should share therein.

For God is my witness, whom I serve with my {r} spirit in the {s} gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;

(r) Very willingly and with all my heart.

(s) In preaching his Son.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 1:9. Γάρ] The pith of the following proof of the assurance conveyed in Romans 1:8 lies in ἀδιαλείπτως, not in the desire to come to Rome, which is not subjoined till Romans 1:10 (Th. Schott). The interest felt by the Apostle in the Romans, which was so vivid that he unceasingly remembered them, etc., had even now urged him to his εὐχαριστῶ τῷ Θεῷ κ.τ.λ[348]

μάρτυς.… Θεὸς] The asseveration in the form of an oath (comp 2 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Php 1:8) is intended solemnly to strengthen the impression of what he has to say; viewed with reference to the circumstance which might readily excite surprise, that he, the Apostle of the Gentiles, had never yet laboured in the church—which nevertheless was Pauline—of the capital of the Gentile world. See Romans 1:10-13. The hypothesis of “iniquos rumores,” that had reached his ears from Rome (van Hengel), is unnecessary and unsupported by any trace in the letter.

ᾧ λατρεύω κ.τ.λ[350]] added to strengthen the asseveration with respect to its sacred conscientiousness: to whom I render holy service in my spirit, i.e. in my moral self-consciousness, which is the living inner sphere of that service.[351] This ἐν τῷ πν. μου, on which lies the practical stress of the relative clause, excludes indeed all ΛΑΤΡΕΎΕΙΝ of a merely external kind, exercising itself in works, or even impure; but is not intended to suggest a definite contrast to this, which would here be without due motive. It is rather the involuntary expression of the profoundly vivid feeling of inward experience. The Apostle knows and feels that the depths of his innermost life are pervaded by his λατρεύειν. Comp ᾯ ΛΑΤΡΕΎΩ.… ἘΝ ΚΑΘΑΡᾷ ΣΥΝΕΙΔΉΣΕΙ, in 2 Timothy 1:3; also Hebrews 12:28. ΤῸ ΠΝΕῦΜΑ ΜΟΥ cannot be the Holy Spirit (Theodoret),[353] but Paul bore the witness of that Spirit in his own spirit (Romans 8:16; Romans 9:1.).

ἐν τῷ εὐαγγ. τ. υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ] in the gospel of His Son, which I preach, defend, etc. That is the great sphere to which He is called in the service of God, in the consciousness of which he is impelled by an inward necessity to devote to his readers that fervent sympathy of which he assures them. Grotius and Reiche think there is an implied contrast to the λατρεία ἐν τῷ νόμῳ, which however is quite foreign to the connection. Can we think of a side-glance at the Jewish style of teaching—when the discourse breathes only love and warmth of affection?

ὡς ἀδιαλ.] ὡς does not stand for ὅτι (as following the Vulgate, the majority, including Fritzsche, think), but expresses the manner (the degree). God is my witness, how unceasingly, etc. Comp Php 1:8; 2 Corinthians 7:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:10; Acts 10:28; Calvin; Philippi; van Hengel; see also Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 1000. The idea of modality must be everywhere retained, where ὡς takes the place of ὅτι. See the passages in Heindorf, a[355] Plat. Hipp. maj. p. 281, Jacobs. a[356] Ach. Tat. p. 566.

μν. ὑμ. ποιοῦμ.] make mention of you, viz. in my prayers. See Romans 1:10. Comp Ephesians 1:16; Php 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:2.

[348] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[350] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[351] Comp. Ernesti, Urspr. d. Sünde, II. p. 89 f.; see also on John 4:23.

[353] Holsten also (z. Ev. d. Paul. u. Petr. p. 386) understands it of the Holy Spirit as bestowed on the Apostle (μου). See, against this view, Rich. Schmidt, Paul. Christol. p. 33 ff.

[355] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[356] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.Romans 1:9 f. μάρτυς γάρ μού ἐστιν ὁ θεός (Php 1:8): at a distance the Apostle cannot directly prove his love, but he appeals to God, who hears his ceaseless prayers for the Romans, as a witness of it. λατρεύω in the LXX is always used of religious service—worship, whether of the true God or of idols. ἐν τῷ πνεύματί μου: Paul’s ministry is spiritual and rendered with his spirit—not like that of the ministers in the ἅγιον κοσμικὸν at Jerusalem. ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ: in preaching the glad tidings of His Son. ὡς ἀδιαλείπτως: the ὡς may either be “how” or “that”: looking to 1 Thessalonians 2:10, “how” seems more probable. μνείαν ὑμῶν ποιοῦμαι: I remember you. Cf. Job 14:13 (O that Thou wouldst appoint me χρόνον ἐν ᾧ μνείαν μου ποιήσῃ). ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν μου: at my prayers. (Winer, p. 470.) For εἴ πως, see Acts 27:12 and Burton, Moods and Tenses, § 276. ἤδη is “now at length,” “now, after all this waiting”. (S. and H.) The ποτὲ, which can hardly be conveyed in English, marks the indefiniteness which even yet attaches in the writer’s mind to the fulfilment of this hope. εὐοδωθήσομαι: the R.V. gives “I may be prospered”; the A.V. “I might have a prosperous journey”. The latter brings in the idea of the ὁδὸς, which was no doubt present to consciousness when the word εὐοδοῦσθαι was first used; but it is questionable whether any feeling for the etymology remained in the current employment of the word. The other N.T. examples (1 Corinthians 16:2, 3 John Romans 1:2), as well as the LXX, suggest the contrary. Hence the R.V. is probably right. ἐν τῷ θελήματι τοῦ θεοῦ: his long cherished and often disappointed hope had taught Paul to say, “if the Lord will” (Jam 4:15).9. For God is my witness] A characteristic appeal. Cp. 2 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 11:31; 2 Corinthians 12:19; Galatians 1:20; Php 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:10. This is traceable in part, perhaps, to the incessant calumnies against his sincerity and veracity which grieved St Paul’s heart.

whom I serve] The word here rendered “serve” has special reference to religious worship, whether paid by priests or by people. But it naturally implies also active obedience to the God so worshipped, and its classical usage points entirely this way.

with my spirit] Lit. in my spirit. Much has been said on the risk of confounding “in” and the instrumental “with,” in such cases; and this risk must never be slighted. But in Heb. both ideas have the same sign, and the Hebraistic tinge of N. T. Greek makes it highly likely that in many instances there will be no practical distinction of “in” and “with.” We may well explain the present phrase, “I serve Him with my spirit as the instrument.” The spirit was used in every various way in the Master’s work.

in the gospel of his Son] Here obviously, on the other hand, “in” bears its proper meaning. The Gospel was the field of energy and effort; in it, in expounding and spreading its message, St Paul spent his spiritual powers.—“Of His Son:”—see for the same idea in fuller terms, 2 Corinthians 4:4, where lit. “The Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” The Eternal Son is Himself “the Gospel.” The Gospel is His, because He is not only the great Teacher but the essential Doctrine.

without ceasing] As a continual and diligent habit. The same word occurs 1 Thessalonians 5:17, in the same sense.

always in my prayers] Lit. always, upon my prayers; i.e., “on every occasion of prayer.”—“My prayers;”—no doubt specially “my private prayers.” The Apostle did indeed “labour fervently in prayer” for his beloved converts and brethren, in his hours of direct intercourse with God. From ch. 16 we gather how individual and detailed his remembrance at such times would be.Romans 1:9. Μάρτυς, witness) A pious asseveration respecting a matter necessary [Paul’s secret prayer for them], and hidden from men, especially from those, who were remote and unknown,—2 Corinthians 11:31.—λατρεύω, I serve), as an apostle, ch. Romans 15:16. The witness of God resounds [is often appealed to] in spiritual service; and he who serves God, desires and rejoices, that as many as possible should serve God, 2 Timothy 1:3.—μνείαν ὑμῶν, mention of you) Paul was wont to make distinct and explicit mention of the churches, and of the souls of their members.Verse 9. - For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you in my prayers. A like solemn asseveration is made with a like intention (Philippians 1:8; cf. also 2 Corinthians 11:31). It expresses the writer's earnestness, and is in place for attestation of a fact known only to himself and God. The word λατρεύω, ("I serve"), when used in a religious sense, most usually denotes "worship," and specifically the priestly services of the temple (Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 10:2; Hebrews 13:10). St. Paul's λατρεία intended here is not ceremonial function, but a spiritual one (ἐν τῷ πνεύματί μου) - an inward devotion of himself to God's service in proclaiming and furthering "the gospel of his Son." A similar view of the essential λατρεία of Christians is found in Romans 12:1; Romans 15:16; Philippians 3:3; 2 Timothy 1:3; Hebrews 9:14. I serve (λατρεύω)

See on Luke 1:74. The word was used in a special sense to denote the service rendered to Jehovah by the Israelites as His peculiar people. See Romans 9:4; Acts 26:7. Compare Hebrews 9:1, Hebrews 9:6. As in his Philippian letter, Paul here appropriates the Jewish word for the spiritual Christian service. See on Philippians 3:3.

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