Now I beseech you, brothers, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit…
The apostle of the Gentiles held a very useful and glorious office; but when we consider his struggles, we do not wonder that he was sometimes in great sorrow of heart. He was so now. So he wrote to his brethren to pray for him. Does it astonish you that a man so rich in grace should do so? It need not; for such always feel most their dependence upon God's people. The larger a man's trade, the more he is dependent upon those around him. The apostle did a great business for his Lord, and he felt that he could not carry it on unless he had the co-operation of many helpers. "He did not want what are called "hands" to work for him, but hearts to plead for him. In a great battle the general's name is mentioned; but what could he have done without the common soldiers? Wellington will always be associated with Waterloo; but, after all, it was a soldiers' battle. Every minister is in much the same condition as Paul. In the text there is —
I. PRAYER ASKED FOR. Here is —
1. A request to the people of God for prayer in general.
(1) He asks it for himself. It reminds us of Carey, who says, when he goes to India, "I will go down into the pit, but brother Fuller and the rest of you must hold the rope." A man cannot be charged with egotism if he begs for personal support when he is labouring for others.
(2) He asks it of his "brethren." He seems to say, "Shew this token of your brotherhood. You cannot go up with me to Jerusalem, and share my danger, but you can by your prayers surround me with Divine protection."(3) He asks them to "agonise" — that is the word, a reminder of the great agony in Gethsemane. The apostle felt that an agony alone was too bitter for him, and he therefore cries, "I beseech you," etc. Now, as the disciples ought to have sympathised with the Saviour, but did not, I trust that the unfaithfulness to the Master will not be repeated upon His servants. "When the uplifted hands of Moses are known to bring a blessing, Aaron and Hur must stay them up when they are seen to grow weary.
(4) He asks, "for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake." What an argument! As you cannot repay what you owe to Christ personally, repay it to His servant by your prayers. But he adds another argument. "For the love of the Spirit." If the Spirit of God has indeed loved you and proved it by quickening and sanctifying you; if He has created a love in you, which is stronger than mere natural affection, then pray for me. Why do you think the apostle at that special time asked these brethren to pray for him so?
(a) He was going up to Jerusalem, and the Jews would seek to slay him; but he believed that God could overrule all things. We believe this; therefore let us pray that all opposition to His gospel may be overcome.
(b) He was afraid that the Jewish believers would be cold to him, and therefore prays that the Spirit may warm their hearts, so that the offerings from the Grecian Churches might foster a sense of hearty fellowship. Do you not also believe that there is not only a Providence that shapes our ends, but a secret influence which moulds men's hearts? Therefore we urge you to plead with God that we also may have acceptance with His people.
2. A statement of the apostle's desires in detail. We should pray for something distinctly. Some prayers fail from want of precision. It is as if a regiment of soldiers should all fire off their guns anyhow. Paul gives his friends three things to pray for:(1) That he might be delivered from them that did not believe in Judaea. He was delivered, but not in the manner he hoped for. Against all oppositions from without let us pray.
(2) That his service which he had for Jerusalem might be accepted of the saints. This also was granted.
(3) That he might come unto them with joy by the will of God; and might, with them, be refreshed. This petition also was heard, but not as Paul might have desired. He did come to them according to-the will of God, and may have been on his way to Spain, but certainly he was on his way to prison, as he had not purposed. Therefore pray for a blessing, and leave the way of its coming to the good Lord who knoweth all things.
II. THE BLESSING GIVEN.
1. Paul, with all his anxiety to gain the prayers of his friends, cannot finish without a benediction upon them.
(1) "Now the God of peace." What a blessed name! In the Old Testament He s the "Lord of Hosts"; but that is never the style in the New Testament.
(2) "Be with you," not only "peace be with you," but, better far, the source and fountain of peace. When "the God of peace" makes peace with Himself, and so keeps our minds at peace within, He also creates peace with one another.
(3) "With you all," not with some of you, with Priscilla and Aquila, but with Mary, Amplias, etc. Unless all are at peace, none can be perfectly quiet. One brother who is quarrelsome can keep a whole Church in trouble.
2. Paul seems to imply that this will be the result of their prayer. If you will but strive together with me in your prayers, then the God of peace will be with you. We may view it as the reward of such prayer, or as a necessary condition and cause of true prayer.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now 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;