Romans 15:14
The apostle in these verses touches, as at the first (see Romans 1:1-15), on his personal relations to the Church at Rome. And he reintroduces the subject with much delicate courtesy. He may have seemed to be speaking somewhat boldly, to have assumed a knowledge and goodness superior to theirs: not so! They, he was sure, were "full of goodness, filled with all knowledge," and therefore "able to admonish one another." But he might at least remind them of what they knew; and this, not by any superiority of himself to them, but only by the grace of God; not as a better or wiser Christian man, but as an apostle commissioned by God. We have here set forth, then, much as before, his apostleship, his purpose respecting them, and his request for their prayers on his behalf. By this last, again, with much delicacy, making prominent his dependence on them, rather than theirs on him.

I. HIS APOSTLESHIP. He was put in trust by God with the gospel for the Gentiles. And his fulfilment of this trust was as a priestly service, which he should perform, not proudly, but faithfully. And what a service! ministering the gospel in this great temple of the new kingdom, that he might offer up as a sacrifice the whole Gentile world! His thoughts, perhaps, revert to the words he has used in Romans 12:1; and what a vision greets his view as he looks into the future - all the kindreds, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues of this manifold world, praising God with the harmonious psalm of a consecrated life, offering themselves a living sacrifice! Better this than all the bleeding victims of the older dispensation; all man's intellect and affection and energy of action, all science and art, all industry and commerce, all the multifarious activities of all lives, offered to God! And this was his work, to minister the gospel that the offering might be made, acceptable because sanctified by the Holy Ghost. He would glory in such a work as this, for Christ's sake! For all was through Christ, and the great work already done was only Christ's work

II. HIS PURPOSE. Now, there was one aim which governed him in the fulfilment of this work - he would preach the gospel only where it was not known before. Thus from place to place he went, proclaiming the glad tidings to those who had not heard. And hence to this present, having so much room for such work in those eastward parts, he had been hindered from visiting Rome. Now the hindrance was removed: he had "no more any place in these regions." And still impelled by the constraining purpose to preach the gospel to those "to whom no tidings of him came," he must now turn westwards, even to Spain. And, m passing to Spain, there is every reason why he should pause for mutual refreshment, as he delicately puts it, amongst a people who were, indirectly at least, the fruit of his labours - the Christians at Rome. And coming to them, he would come in the fulness of the blessing of Christ.

III. HIS REQUEST. But, meanwhile, there is another mission to fulfil - the mission of charity to the poor saints at Jerusalem. Prominence of this matter among the Churches (see 1 Corinthians 16.; Acts 20:4). Probable cause of necessity, withholding of custom from Christians on the part of their fellow-Jews. Mere charity demander that help should be given; and not only so, the Gentiles were bound in honour to pay, as it were, in this way, a debt they owed; for their salvation was "of the Jews." But what further constrained Paul to be urgent in this matter was his desire that the charity of the Gentile Churches might overcome all the prejudices that still subsisted amongst the Jewish Christians against the full and free admission of the Gentiles into the Christian Church. And for this, and also for his own security amongst many enemies, he asks the prayers of the Christians at Rome. Then he shall come to them in joy, and find rest. In any case, be he troubled or not, may the God of peace be with them! So does he exemplify, by his yearning love and courtesy of love, the spirit which he seeks to foster in them; so does he, as he would have them do, refer all his doings to the Lord Christ and the will of God. Most surely the God of peace was with him! - T.F.L.







And I myself also am persuaded of you.
I. ITS SUBSTANCE. Fall of —

1. Goodness.

2. Knowledge.

3. Sanctified ability.

II. ITS VALUE.

1. Honest.

2. Inspired.

3. Kind.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

The apostle —

I.PRAISES, but does not flatter.

II.HUMBLES, but does not demean HIMSELF.

III.MAGNIFIES HIS OFFICE, but not himself.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

Paul's characteristic delicacy is seen in "I myself am persuaded," etc., which corresponds with Romans 1:8. It was no flattering compliment, but a just commendation. Exhortations are to be accompanied with courtesy (1 Peter 3:8). Christian gifts and graces are to be duly commended. Love esteems a brother above rather than below his work (Romans 12:10). The Romans were commended for their —

I. GOODNESS.

1. Moral excellence in general (Ephesians 5:9).

2. Kindness to one another in particular (2 Thessalonians 1:11).

II. KNOWLEDGE. Spiritual knowledge is a believer's privilege. It is the Spirit's office to impart it (John 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:10-12; 1 John 2:20, 27). Such knowledge is to be greatly desired (Philippians 1:9; Colossians 2:2). All treasures of wisdom and knowledge hid in Christ (Colossians 2:3; 1 Corinthians 1:30). This knowledge is necessary to comfort, holiness, and usefulness, and embraces all the subjects of revealed truth, doctrines, duties, dispensations, etc. The deep things cf God; things freely given us of God (1 Corinthians 2:10, 12). Goodness and knowledge rarely combined in the world, but both are given in and with Christ. These are the heart and the head of the new man (Ephesians 3:24), and are to be taken in their fulness (Isaiah 55:3; Luke 1:53). Paul's large hearted love is seen in the terms he employs. He delights to point to the fulness believers enjoy in Christ. They should grow in grace and knowledge.

III. ABILITY TO ADMONISH ONE ANOTHER — to put each other in mind of duty as to matter by knowledge, as to manner by goodness. This may be done either publicly or privately (Hebrews 3:13; Hebrews 10:25; Colossians 3:16).

(T. Robinson, D.D.)

I. HE MUST DISCHARGE HIS FUNCTIONS WITH WISDOM AND HUMILITY.

1. Recognising good where it already exists.

2. Humbly putting those who have believed in mind of common duties and privileges.

3. Seeking the salvation of the unconverted — in the name and for the glory of God.

II. HE MUST HAVE A SPECIAL CALL.

1. Attested by the gifts and power of the Holy Ghost.

2. Approved first of all in a narrower sphere of labour.

3. Directed especially to the ignorant and unconverted.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

I. ITS OBJECTS.

1. To confirm those who believe in grace (vers. 14, 15).

2. To save and sanctify the unbelieving (ver. 16).

3. To promote the cause of God (ver. 17).

II. ITS SUCCESS.

1. Proceeds from the power of the Spirit of Christ (vers. 18, 19).

2. Reaches all who learn the knowledge of His name (vers. 20, 21).

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

"Of his extreme humility, I experienced an instance which at once astonished and embarrassed me. One day, in conversation, Mr. Wilberforce kindly gave me some advice. I expressed my thanks, and said how much I should feel indebted if, in conversation or correspondence, he would at all times be my counsellor, and, if necessary, correct me, and point out my faults. He suddenly stopped (for we were walking together), and replied, 'I will; but you must promise me one thing.' 'With pleasure,' I answered, little thinking what it was. 'Well, then,' continued Mr. Wilberforce, 'in all your conversation and correspondence with me, be candid and open, and point out my faults.'"

(Memoir of Wilberforce.)

Reprove mildly and sweetly, in the calmest manner, in the gentlest terms, not in a haughty or imperious way, not hastily or fiercely; not with sour looks, or in bitter language, for these ways do beget all the evil, and hinder the best efforts of reproof; they do certainly inflame and disturb the person reproved; they breed wrath, disdain, and hatred against the reprover; but do not so well enlighten the man to see his error, or affect him with a kindly sense of his miscarriage, or dispose him to correct his fault. Such reproofs look rather like the wounds and persecutions of enmity than as remedies ministered by a friendly hand; they harden men with rage, and scorn to mend upon such occasion. If reproof doth not savour of humanity it signifieth nothing; it must be like a bitter pill wrapped in gold, and tempered with sugar, otherwise it will not go down, or work effectually.

(L Barrow.)

Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly
I. ITS GENERAL NATURE.

1. Paul was "the minister of Jesus Christ." The word is compounded of two words, signifying a work and that which belongs to the public; the character described, therefore, is that of one devoted to the public welfare — one called of God out of a private into a public station, who therefore became public property, and who could not, without manifest impropriety, make his own ease, or influence, or aggrandisement, the objects of his pursuit.

2. Paul was employed in this ministry for "the offering up of the Gentiles to God," in which there is an allusion to the priestly office. He evidently considered himself an evangelical priest; one who was to be the mouth of God to the people, and the mouth of the people to God.(1) He points out his duty, which was to offer the Gentiles to God.(2) He relates his experience of success — the reward of his labour, viz., the presenting to God those who were saved through his instrumentality.

3. The means by which he was thus enabled to prepare and to present to God such an acceptable oblation: by the preaching of the gospel of Christ fully. The gospel is called the gospel of God, and of Christ, both in reference to its Divine authority, and in reference to its subject: it is of God, and it speaks concerning God.

II. ITS SPHERE.

1. "Where Christ was not named." Such a people —(1) Were, of course, ignorant of Christ, of His character, relations, salvation.(2) Could not, therefore, believe in Christ. Hence they derived no spiritual benefit from His mediation; they had no hope of being with Him for ever.(3) Could not, of course, be happy. All that Christians enjoy or hope for is through Christ alone. Through Him they are justified, renewed, sanctified, consoled, strengthened, etc. Without Christ is misery. Yet such is the miserable, the awful condition of countless millions. Christ is not named among them. They have no Bibles; no gospel ministry; no Christian Sabbaths.

2. The apostle preached "from Jerusalem round about to Illyricum"; places about one thousand miles from each other. "Round about," i.e., diverging into all the neighbouring places, and still pushing onwards till he had filled the country with his doctrine. This statement should be improved by us —(1) In reference to our own country. Let those who, after mature deliberation and earnest prayer, feel it to be their duty to confine themselves to domestic labours, be careful to cultivate a missionary spirit. Let them not rest till in every town and village they have "fully preached the gospel of Christ." Negligence in this respect will be criminally inexcusable in such a country as this, where no impediment is presented by the existing government, but where every facility is afforded.(2) And chiefly in reference to heathen lands. We must take care of home, but we must not overlook other places. The gospel must be planted in place after place, till its influence has spread over the whole earth.

III. THE TESTIMONY OF GOD BY WHICH IT WAS ACCOMPANIED. Through "mighty signs and wonders," and "by the power of the Spirit of God"; without which all else would have been vain. Miracles are not absolutely necessary to the success of the Christian ministry, and never were the direct causes of conversion. The faithful record of the miracles wrought in attestation of the truth in the days of the apostles, answers every purpose of miracles themselves. If the apostles had the auxiliary of miracles, we have the auxiliary of Bibles gradually translating into every language. We have the advantage of patronising governments, e.g., the Spirit of God can and does convert without miracles. The larger outpourings of this Spirit must be sought in fervent, persevering prayer.

IV. ITS EFFECTS. The Gentiles —

1. Were made obedient. Theirs was the obedience of faith, of profession, of practice. They were Christians doctrinally, experimentally, and practically.

2. Were offered to God. The preachers made no improper use of their influence; their only aim was to bring men to know, love, and serve God. The true missionary spirit is not a sectarian spirit, and it is injured whenever it becomes so.

3. Were an acceptable offering to God.

V. THE PRIVILEGE, HAPPINESS, AND HONOUR REALISED BY PAUL IN BEING PERMITTED TO EXERCISE THIS MISSIONARY VOCATION. He speaks of it as "grace given to him of God." He accounted it —

1. A privilege. He does not talk of the burden, danger, or expense, but the favour to be so employed. No Christian will account it a burden to support missions, or to engage in actual service, if it be clearly his duty. The missionary has no right to talk of making sacrifices, he is but doing his duty; he is honoured by God in being allowed so to labour. Mean is that man who accounts the labours of a missionary to be mean.

2. An honour. "I have whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ."

3. A happiness. "I glory"; I exult — I rejoice greatly. Let Christians consider that a share in all this privilege, honour and happiness is offered to their acceptance. Let ministers beware how they keep back from such work. And let all Christians see to it that they promote the cause by their contributions, their influence, and their prayers.

(J. Bunting, D.D.)

That I should be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles.
I. ITS FUNCTIONS.

1. To serve Christ.

2. To offer spiritual sacrifices.

3. To preach the gospel.

II. ITS ACCEPTABLENESS.

1. In its power.

2. In its fruits.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

I. ITS NATURE.

1. The word "minister" imports any one who transacts the affairs consigned to his charge, whether they be religious or civil. It is therefore used in relation to —(1) The Jewish priesthood. "Every high priest standeth daily ministering."(2) Christ, the antitype of that priesthood, who hath "obtained a more excellent ministry."(3) Angels. "Are they not all ministering spirits?"(4) Civil magistrates, who "are God's ministers."(5) Persons who perform acts of kindness. "If the Gentiles have been made partakers of your spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to you in carnal things." "Epaphroditus... ministered to my wants."

2. The office to which the apostle refers was emphatically a sacred office, partly peculiar and temporal, consisting in the exercise of agencies which were strictly miraculous; and partly general and spiritual, consisting in the proclamation of certain truths relating to eternal interests. The former department passed away with a single generation, but the latter is to be exercised till the end of time.

3. The office is connected with "Jesus Christ." The mode in which Paul received it, as recorded by himself, is one of the most wondrous events recorded in the annals of mankind. Thenceforth, renovated by that grace of which he speaks in ver. 15, he lived as a devoted servant of Him whose cause he once laboured to destroy. It is from Christ alone that all ministers derive their existence and authority. Every one of us hath received grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Nothing can save men from the guilt of blasphemous intrusion into this office, except their introduction to it by a power which is itself Divine. Intellect, imagination, eloquence, are nothing if they be not consecrated by the Spirit of the Holy One, nothing but the trappings of the traitor.

II. ITS DIRECTION. "To the Gentiles," i.e., all nations who were not numbered amongst the family of Israel. The Christian economy was expressly constituted that it might be applied to the race generally. This fact had been declared in prophecy, and by the Lord Himself.

1. This commission was directed to the Gentiles with a marked and peculiar emphasis. "Depart; for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles." Hence he exclaims, "Inasmuch as I am the Apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify my office." The ministers of Christ must be always ministers of the Gentiles until the fulness of the Gentiles be brought in. When, therefore, Christian men carry forth throughout the nations the instrumentalities and energies of Christ's religion, they are doing nothing more than carrying out the essential principles of that religion.

2. This commission was needed at this period. The Gentiles were idolaters, and their hands, in consequence, were rife with the very foulest abominations. The same spiritual need still spreads over the vast track of the Gentile nations; God's power has indeed been felt over not a few. Yet, what are these among so many? Regard the existing state of a large proportion of our own population; regard those who own the influence of a superstition, bearing the name of Christ only to blaspheme it; regard the state of those who own the power of the false prophet of Mecca; and then regard the state of those over whom there still hangs the unbroken cloud of idolatry, and what a fatal mass of need and destitution is here, pleading tenderly and powerfully that with apostolic zeal there should go forth a ministry to the Gentiles!

III. ITS THEME. "The gospel"; a system which, as its chosen name imports, was glad tidings, and one which confers on man all the blessings which are identified with the happiness of his immortal nature. Note —

1. Its precise adaptation to the state and the wants of those to whom it comes. It is adapted(1) To the ignorance of the Gentiles, unfolding the light of the knowledge of the Divine truth.(2) To their guilt, setting forth the all-sufficient propitiation for sin.(3) To their pollution, purifying and refining the heart.(4) To their debasement, lifting up the fallen spirit so that man appears but a little lower than the angels.(5) To their misery, instilling the peace which passeth understanding.

2. This gospel has a certain mode of administration. It ought to be administered —(1) Faithfully. Every one of its facts and principles should be announced in the precise proportion in which we find them in the Word of God.(2) Freely. Its glad tidings must be proclaimed to all men everywhere, regarding all men as equal and inviting all to buy the great provision without money and without price.(3) Zealously. The famine is in the land, and it is for us to distribute the bread of heaven; the plague is in the city, and it is for us to apply the medicine; the wreck is upon the breakers, and it is for us to go and snatch the perishing from the billows. Where is the chilling and heartless argument that would forbid?

IV. ITS RESULTS. The labours of the apostle were exercised in the express expectation that multitudes would embrace the gospel. Contemplating this result, he presents those in whom it must be accomplished under a very interesting figure — that of an oblation to God. Further, he states, this offering so presented to be "acceptable," being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, whose agency, working through the ministry, accomplished the transformation and renewal of the Gentiles — being likened unto the fire, which, under the Levitical dispensation, purified the oblation, and was at once the instrument and the token of its acceptance with God. The language before us shows —

1. That the success of the Christian ministry is always to be ascribed to the influence of the Holy Spirit. This is owned in the words before us, and in vers. 18, 19. Nothing is more manifest throughout the gospel than that the Word is nothing but the instrument of the Spirit; that by the Spirit the Word is rendered effectual to renovate and to redeem. "Not by power, nor by might," etc.

2. That this success shall be of vast and delightful extent, The apostle clearly anticipates that the Gentiles should receive the gospel generally, and that it should establish a redeeming empire over all the nations. Take the series of prophecies, the heads of which he quotes in preceding verses (Psalm 18; Deuteronomy 32:1.; Psalm 111.; Isaiah 11), the application made of which by the apostle rebukes the unauthorised application made of them by theorists of our own day to the personal reign of Christ. But passing this by, they tell us of a period which is to come, by the instrumentality and agency we have described, when the reign of peace and of blessedness shall be universal (see specially Isaiah 11).

3. That this success is to redound in one mighty ascription to God. The presentation of the Gentiles as a sacrifice means that in their conversion God is to be honoured, that all the glory may be to Him.(1) Ministers, who are the instruments of this conversion, must ever render such a tribute, renouncing all pretensions; and when the sacrifice is laid upon the altar, exclaiming, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us," etc.(2) Men, who are the subjects of this conversion, must ever render such a tribute, acknowledging grace in all its sovereignty and freeness, and in each instance transforming the statement of doctrine into the song of praise — "Of His own mercy He has saved us," etc.

(J. Parsons.)

I. HIS WORK. To preach the gospel to the heathen with —

1. Priestly consecration.

2. Devotion.

3. Patience.

II. HIS AIM. That they may become —

1. An offering to God.

2. Acceptable.

3. Holy.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

I have therefore whereof I may glory
? —

I. OF FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST.

1. By faith.

2. In the service of God.

II. OF THE SUCCESS WHICH GOD GIVES HIM, because his labour —

1. Is acknowledged by God.

2. Brings glory to God.

III. OF THE POWER OF GOD WHICH IS IN HIM.

1. Accomplishing what is beyond the ability of man.

2. Inspiring unselfish zeal.

3. Constraining abounding charity.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. IN CHRIST, as —

1. The foundation of his hope.

2. The object of his love and imitation. The Head of his profession.

II. IN THE SERVICE OF CHRIST as most —

1. Glorious.

2. Honourable.

3. Remunerative.

III. IN THE THINGS OF GOD as most —

1. True.

2. Sublime.

3. Enduring.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

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