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A critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Romans online

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Jew and Gentile were directly or indirectly involved in the rela-
tions of the weak and the strong.' (Hort, Rom. and Eph. p. 29.)

SiciKoi'oi' . . . irepiTofiTjs : not ' a minister of the circumcised,' still
less a ' minister of the true circumcision of the spirit,' which would
be introducing an idea quite alien to the context, but ' a minister
of circumcision' (so GifTord, who has an excellent note), i.e. to



398 EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS [XV. 8-10.

carry out the promises implied in that covenant the seal of which
was circumcision ; so 2 Cor. iii. 6 SiaKovovs Kaivrjs 8ia6fjKr,s. In the
Ep. to the Galanians (iv, 4, 5) St. Paul had said that Christ was
' born of a woman, born under the law, that He might redeem them
which were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of
sons.' On the Promise and Circumcision see Gen. xii. 1-3, xvii.
1-14.

The privileges of the Jews which St. Paul dwells on are as fol-
lows : (i) Christ has Himself fulfilled the condition of being circum-
cised: the circumcised therefore must not be condemned. (2) The
primary object of this was to fulfil the promises made to the Jews
(cf Rom. ii. 9, 10). (3) It was only as a secondary result of this
Messiahship that the Gentiles glorified God. (4) While the bless-
ing came to the Jews vTiip dXrjdelas to preserve God's consistency, it
came to the Gentiles vnep (Keovs for God's loving-kindness.

yeffVTJa$ai, which should be read with tt A ELF ^ (^ycffwrjaef) ; it was
altered into the more usual aorist ytfiaOai (B C D F G), perhaps because it
was supposed to be co-ordinated with So^acai,

rds eirayyeXias r!t)V iraTipuiv '. cf. ix. 4, 5-

9. tA Se e0kT] . . . So^do-ai. Two constructions are possible for
these words: (i) they may be taken as directly subordinate to Xty"
yap (Weiss, Oltr. Go.). The only object in this construction would
be to contrast vTT(p eX/ouj with intp dXT]6elas. But the real antithesis

of the passage is between ^(^muxrat rar inayyikias and TO. i6vT) bo^d-

aai: and hence (2) ra 8^ . . . i'durj . . . So^daai should be taken as
subordinate to ds t6 and co-ordinate w-ith ^e^aiwaai (Gif. Mey.
Lid., Va.). With this construction the point of the passage
becomes much greater, the call of the Gentiles is shown to be (as
it certainly was), equally with the fulfilment of the promise to the
Jews, dependent on the covenant made with Abraham (iv. 11, 12,

16, 17). ^ . ^

KaGws Y^YP'*''"''**' The Apostle proceeds, as so often in the
Epistle, to support his thesis by a series of passages quoted from
theO.T.

810L TouTo K.T.X. : taken almost exactly from the LXX of Ps. xvii
(xviii). 50. In the original David, as the author of the Psalm, is
celebradng a victory over the surrounding nations : in the Messianic
application Christ is represented as declaring that among the
Gentiles, i. e. in the midst of, and therefore together with them. He
will praise God. f^ofioXoy^jaonai, 'I will praise thee': cf. xiv. 11.

10. Eo4)p(li'0T)Te K.T.X. : from the LXX of Deut. xxxii. 43. The
Hebrew, translated literally, appears to mean, * Rejoice, O ye nations,
His people.' Moses is represented as calling on the nations to
rejoice over the salvation of Israel. St. Paul takes the words as
interpreted by the LXX to imply that the Gentiles and chosen
people shall unite in the praise of God.



XV. 11-13.] ON SCRUPULOUSNESS 399

11. Alveire k.t.X. : Ps. cxvi (cxvii). i. LXX. An appeal to all
nations to praise the Lord.

There are slight variations in the Greek text and in the LXX. For travTa
tA eOvij Tov Kvpiov C F G L have tov K. tt. t. e. agreeing v^ith the order of
the LXX. iiraiviaaTuaav is read by N A B C D E Chn,'s. (so LXX A X
alvtaaiwaav) ivaiviaar* by late MSS. with later LXX MSS.

12. "Ecttoi i[ ptta k.t.X. : from Is. xi. 10, a description of the
Messianic kingdom, which is to take the place of that Jewish king-
dom which is soon to be destroyed. The quotation follows the
LXX, which is only a paraphrase of the Hebrew ; the latter runs
(RV.) ' And it shall come to pass in that day, that the root of Jesse,
which standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto him shall the
Gentiles seek.'

13. The Apostle concludes by invoking on his hearers a bless-
ing — that their faith may give them a life full of joy and peace, that
in the power of the Holy Spirit they may abound in hope.

A 0e6s TTJs cXiriSos : cf. ver. 5. The special attribute, as in fact
the whole of the benediction, is suggested by the concluding words
of the previous quotation.

iraaT]? x<*P^s •'<^'' 6Lpi]i'T]5. The joy and peace with God which is
the result of true faith in the Christian's heart. On etpiji/^j see i. 7.

For vkrjpwaai (most MSS.) B F G have the curious variant TT\r]po<l>opri<Tat.
B reads iv rrAaii x^P'} '^''' ^''PV''V ^^'^ omits els rd -ntpicaiieiv : the pecu-
liarities of this MS. in the last few verses are noticeable. D E F G omit
iv ra> manvdv.

The general question of the genuineness of these last two chapters is
discussed in the Introduction (§ 9). It will be convenient to mention in
the co«rse of the Commentaiy some few of the detailed objections that have
been made to special passages. In xv. 1-13 the only serious objection is
that which was first raised by Baur and has been repeated by others since.
The statements in this section are supposed to be of too conciliatory a
character ; especially is this said to be the case with ver. 8. ' How can we
imagine,' writes Baur, ' that the Apostle, in an Epistle of such a nature and
after all that had passed on the subject, would make such a concession to the
Jewish Christians as to call Jesus Christ a minister of circumcision to confiim
the promises of God made to the Fathers?' To this it may be answered
that that is exactly the point of view of the Epistle. It is brought out most
clearly in xi. 17-25 ; it is implied in the position of priority always given to
the Jew (i. 16 ; ii 9, 10) ; it is emphasized in the stress continually laid on
the relations of the new Gospel to the Old Testament (ch. iv, &c.), and
the importance of the promises which were fulfilled (i. 2 ; ix. 4). Baur's
difficulty arose from an erroneous conception of the teaching and position of
St PauL For other arguments see Mangold, £)er Romerbrief, pp. Si-ioo.



What sect or party is referred to in Rom, XIV?

There has been great diversity of opinion as to the persons
referred to in this section of the Epistle to the Romans, but all
commentators seem to agree in assuming that the Apostle is



400 EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS [XIV-XV. 13.

dealing with certain special circumstances which have arisen in the
Church of Rome, and that the weak and the strong represent two

parlies in that Church.

1. The oldest explanation appears to be that which sees in these
disputes a repetition of those which prevailed in the Corinthian
Church, as to the same or some similar form of Judaizing practices
(Orig. Chrys. Aug, Neander, &c.). In favour of this may be
quoted the earlier portion of the fifteenth chapter, where there is
clearly a reference to the distinction between Jewish and Gentile
Christians. But against this opinion it is pointed out that such
Jewish objections to ' things offered to idols,' or to meats killed in
any incorrect manner, or to swine's flesh, have nothing to do with
the typical instances quoted, the abstinence altogether from flesh
meat and from wine (vv. 2, 21).

2. A second suggestion (Eichhorn) is that which sees in these
Roman ascetics the influence of the Pythagorean and other heathen
sects which practised and taught abstinence from meat and wine
and other forms of self-discipline. But these again will not satisfy
all the f ircumstances. These Roman Christians were, it is said, in
the habit of observing scrupulously certain days : and this custom
did not, as far as we know, prevail among any heathen sect.

3. Baur sees here Ebionite Christians of the character repre-
sented by the Clementine literature, and in accordance with his
general theory he regards them as representing the majority of
the Roman Church. That this last addition to the theory is tenable
seems impossible. So far as there is any definiteness in St. Paul's
language he clearly represents the ' strong ' as directing the policy
of the community. They are told to receive ' him that is weak in
faith ' ; they seem to have the power to admit him or reject him.
All that he on his side can do is to indulge in excessive criticism.
Nor is the first part of the theory really more satisfactory. Of
the Liter Ebionites we have very considerable knowledge derived
from the Clementine literature and from Epiphanius {Haer. xxx),
but it is an anachronism to discover these developments in a period
nearly two centuries earlier. Nor again is it conceivable that
St. Paul would have treated a developed Judaism in the lenient
manner in which he writes in this chapter.

4. Less objection perhaps applies to the modification of this
theory, which sees in these sectaries some of the Essene influence
which probably prevailed everywhere throughout the Jewish world
(Ritschl, Mey.-W. Lid. Lft. Gif. Olir.). This view fulfils the
three condiiions of the case. The Essenes were Jewish, they were
ascetic, and they observed certain days. If the theory is put in the
form not that Essenism existed as a sect in Rome, which is highly
improbable, but that there was Essene influence in the Jewish com-
munity there, it is possible, fet if any one compares St. Paul's



2LEV.-XV. 13.] ON SCRUPULOUSNESS 46I

language in other Epistles with that which he uses here, he will
find it difficult to believe that the Apostle would recommend
compliance with customs which arose, not from weak-minded
scrupulousness, but from a completely inadequate theory of religion
and life. Hort {Rom. and Eph., p. 27 f.) writes : ' The true origin
of these abstinences must remain somewhat uncertain : but much
the most probable suggestion is that they come from an Essene
clement in the Roman Church, such as afterwards affected the
Colossian Church/ But later he modified his opinion {Judaisiic
Christianity, p. 128)* 'There is no tangible evidence for Essenism
out of Palestine.'

All these theories have this in common, that they suppose St. Paul
to be dealing with a definite sect or body in the Roman Church.
But as our examination of the Epistle has proceeded, it has become
more and more clear that there is little or no special reference in
the arguments. Both in the controversial portion and in the
admonitory portion, we find constant reminiscences of earlier
situations, but always with the sting of controversy gone. St. Paul
writes throughout with the remembrance of his own former expe-
rience, and not with a view to special difficulties in the Roman
community. He writes on all these vexed questions, not because
they have arisen there, but because they may arise. The Church
of Rome consists, as he knows, of both Jewi^h and heathen
Christians. These discordant elements may, he fears, unless wise
counsels prevail produce the same dissensions as have occurred
in Galatia or Corinth.

Hort [Judaistic Christianity, p. 126) recognizes this feature in
the doctrinal portion of the Epistle : ' It is a remarkable fact,' he
writes, * respecting this Epistle to the Romans . . . that while it
discusses the question of the Law with great emphasis and lulness,
it does so without the slightest sign that there is a reierence to
a controversy then actually existing in the Roman Church.' Uuior-
tunately he has not applied the same theory to this practical
portion of the Epistle: if he had done so it would have presen ed
just the solution required by all that he notices. ' There is no
reference,' he writes, ' to a burning controversy.' * The matter is
dealt with simply as one of individual conscience.' He contrasts
the tone with that of the Epistle to the Colossians. All these
features find their best explanation in a theory which supposes
that St. Paul's object in this portion of the Epistle, is the same
as that which has been suggested in the doctrinal portion.

If this theory be correct, then our interpretation of the passage
is somewhat difierent from that which has usually been accepted,
and is, we venture to think, more natural. When St. Paul says in
ver. 2 ' the weak man eateth vegetables,' he does not mean that
there is a special sect of vegetarians in Rome ; but he takei

D d



40a EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS [XIV.-XV. la

a typical instance of excessive scrupulousness. When again he
says 'one man considers one day betler than anoiher,' he does not
mean that this sect of vegetarians were also strict Sabbatarians, but
that the same scrupulousness may prevail in other matters. When
he speaks of 6 (ppovcjv rfjp rjfiipav, 6 fifj eaGicov he is not thinking
of any special body of people but rather of special types. When
again in ver. 21 he says: 'It is good not to eat flesh, or drink
wine, or do anything in which my brother is offended,' he does
not mean that these vegetarians and Sabbatarians are also total
abstainers ; he merely means ' even the most extreme act of self-
denial is better than injuring the conscience of a brother.' He had
spoken very similarly in writing to the Corinthians : ' Wherefore, if
meat maketh my brother to stumble, I will eat no flesh for ever-
more, that I make not my brother to stumble' (i Cor. viii. 13). It
is not considered necessary to argue from these words that absti-
nence from flesh was one of the characteristics of the Corinthian
sectaries ; nor is it necessary to argue in a similar manner here.

St. Paul is arguing then, as always in the Epistle, from past
experience. Again and again difficulties had arisen owing to
different forms of scrupulousness. There had been the dilTiculties
which had produced the Apostolic decree ; there were the difficulties
in Galatia, 'Ye observe days, and months, and seasons, and years';
there were the difficulties at Corinth. Probably he had already in
his experience come across instances of the various ascetic tenden-
cies which are referred to in the Colossian and Pastoral Epistles.
We have evidence both in Jewish and in heathen writers of the
wide extent to which such practices prevailed. In an age when
there is much religious feeling there will always be such ideas.
The ferment which the spread of Christianity aroused would create
them. Hence just as the difficulties which he had experienced
with regard to Judaism and the law made St. Paul work out and
systematize his theory of the relation of Christianity to personal
righteousness, so here he is working out the proper attitude of the
Ciiristian towards over-scrupulousness and over-conscientiousness.
He is not dealing with the question controversially, but examining
it from all sides.

And lie lays down certain great principles. There is, first of all,
the fundamental fact, that all these scruples are in matters quite
indifferent in themselves. Man is justified by 'faith'; that is
sufficient. But then all have not strong, clear-sighted faith : they
do not really think such actions indifferent, and if they act
against their conscience their conscience is injured. Each man
must act as he would do with the full consciousness that he is to
appear before God's judgement-seat. But there is another side
to the question. By indifference to external observances we may
injure another man's conscience. To ourselves it is perfectly



XV. 14.] APOLOGY FOR ADMONITIONS 403

indifferent whether we conform to such an observance or not. Then
we must conform for the sake of our weak brother. We are the
strong. We are conscious of our strength. Therefore we must
yield to others ; not perhaps always, not in all circumstances, but
certainly in many cases. Above all, the salvation of the individual
soul and the peace and unity of the community must be preserved.
Both alike, weak and strong, must lay aside differences on such
unimportant matters for the sake of that church for which Christ
died.



APOLOGY FOR ADMONITIOISTS.

XV. 14-21. These admonitions of mine do not imply that
I am tmacguainted with your goodness and deep spiritual
knoivledge. In writing to you thus boldly I am only
fid filling my duty as Apostle to the Gentiles ; the priest
who stands before the altar and presents to God the Gentile
Churches {vv. J4-17).

And this is the ground of my boldness. For I can boast
of my spiritual labours and gifts, and of my wide activity in
preaching the Gospel, and that, not where others had done so
before me, but where Christ was not yet named (w. 18-ai).

14. The substance of the Epistle is now finished, and there only
remain the concluding sections of greeting and encouragement.
St. Paul begins as in i. 8 with a reference to the good report of the
church. This he does as a courteous apology for the warmth of
feeling he has exhibited, especially in the last section ; but a com-
parison with the Galatian letter, where there is an absence of any
such compliment, shows that St. Paul's words must be taken to
have a very real and definite meaning.

TreTTCio-fioi 8e: cf. viii. 38, 'Though I have spoken so strongly it
does not mean that I am not aware of the spiritual earnestness of
your church.'

Kal auTos ^yi) irepl fiixuf, on koi aorot : notice the emphasis gained
by the position of the words. ' And not I inquire of others to know,
but I myself , that is, I that rebuke, that accuse you.' Chrys.

fiecTToi: cf. Rom. i. 29, where also it is combined with nfn'Sijpu-

fiivoi.

•n6.ai\<i Y>'WCTeu?: 'our Christian knowledge in its entirety.' Cf

I Cor. xiii. 2 Koi f'nv «;^co rrpo<pT]Tfiav Koi fldco ra nvarrjpia navTa Kal
vacrav rrjv yvuxjiv, koi eav e^co iracrav ttju niariv k.t.'K. yvaxris is USed for

the true knowledge which consists in a deep and comprehensive
grasp of the real principles of Christianity.



404 EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS [XV. 14, 16.

T^j is read by NBP, Clem.-Alex. Jo.-Damasc It is omitted by
A C D E F G L, &c.,. Chrys. Theodrt.

dyaOuaui'Tis : cf. 2 Thess. i. ii; Gal. v. 22; Eph. v. 9; used
only in the LXX, the N. T. and writings derived from them.
Generally it means 'goodness' or 'uprighmess* in contrast with

KaKia, as in Ps. li. (lii.) 5 rjyuirijrras KUKtav virep dyadwnivrjv : defined

more accurately the idea seenis to be that derived from dyados of
active beneficence and goodness of heart. Here it is combined
with yvwais, because the two words represent exactly the qualities
which are demanded by the discussion in chap. xiv. St. Paul
demands on the one side a complete grasp of the Cl-risiian faith
as a whole, and on the other 'goodness of heart,' which may
prevent a man from injuring the spiritual life of his brother Christians
by disregarding their consciences. Both these were, St. Paul is
fully assured, realized in the Roman community.

Forms in •avvr) are almost all late and mostly confined to Hellenistic
writers. In the N. T. we have eKer]i.ioavvri, aaxvuoirtvij, aytiuawt], Upwavvq,
fifyaXcoavvT] : see Winer, § xvi. 3/3 (p. u8, ed. Moulton).

Sui'djxei'oi Kal aXXi^Xous I'DuGeTeu. Is it laying too much Stress on
the language of compliment to suggest that these words give a hint
of St. Paul's aim in this Epistle? He has grasi>ed clearly the
importance of the central position of the Roman Church and its
moral qualides, and he realizes the power that it will be for the
instruction of others in the faith. Hence it is to them above all
that he writes, not because of their defects but of their merits.

It is difScult to believe that any reader will find an inconsistency between
this verse and i. 11 or the exhortations of chap, xiv, whatever view he may
hold concerning St. Paul's general attitude towards the Roman Church. It
would be perfectly natural in any case that, after rebuking them on certain
points on which he felt they needed correction, he should proceed to com-
pliment them for the true knowledge and goodness which their spiritual
condition exhibited. He could do so because it would imply a true estimate
of the state of the Church, and it would prevent any offence being taken at
his freedom of speech. But if the view suggested on chap. xiv. and throughout
the Epistle be correct, and these special admonitions arise rather from the
condition of the Gentile churches as a whole, the words gain even more
point. ' I am not finding fault with yen, I am warning you of dangers
you may incur, and I warn you especially owing to your prominent and
important position.*

15. ToXfATjpoTepoj'. The boldness of which St. Paul accuses
himself is not in sentiment, but in manner. It was dno utpovs, ' in
part of the Epistle'; vi. 12 ff., 19; viii. 9; xi. 17 ff.; xii. 3;
xiii. 3 ff., 13 ff"., xiv.; xv. i, have been suggested as instances.

i-nava\iilivr\(JK(jiV. WetStein quotes fKacrrov vjitcv, Ka'mtp aKpi^as
fiSora, ofKos frravapvrjaai ^ovXnpat DcmoSthenCS, Phil. 74> ?• The

irsl seems to soften the ex[iression 'suggesting to your memory.'
St. Paul is not teaching any new thing, or saying anything which



XV. 15-17.] APOLOGY FOR ADMONITIONS 405

a properly instructed Christian would not know, but putting more
clearly and definitely the recognized principles and commands of
the Gospel.

8ii TTji' x^P''" 'T^'' SoGeio-aK p,oi. On St. Paul's Apostolic grace

CI, i. 5 ^'•' oJ {\d^ofj.fv X^P''" '^''* dnocrTuKijv ; xii. 3 Xtyw yhp 8ia rrji
\apiTos Tijs 8o6eicrqs fioi.

It is probably preferable to read ToX/xrjpoTeptui (A B, WH.) for roXpripo-
Ttpov. The TI\. adds dSeA^oi after typa;pa vfxfv against the best authorities
(N A B C, Boh., Orig. Aug. Chrys.) ; the position of the word varies even in
MSS. in which it does occur, iuo is a correction of the TR. for drro (N B F
Jo.-Damasc).

16. XeiToopy(5i' seems to be used definitely and technically as in
the LXX of a priest. See esp. 2 Esdras xx. 36 (Neh. x. 37) toIs

Uptvai TOIS XeiTovpyovaiv ev o'ikco Qtov TjpoiP. So in Heb. viii. 2 of OUr

Lord, who is dp^^Kpevs and tS)i> ayia>v 'XdTovpyi'ii : see the note on i. 9.
Generally in the LXX the word seems used of the Levites as
opposed to the priests as in 2 Esdras xx. 39 (Neh. x. 40) koi oI
Upf'is Koi ot "KtiTovpyoi, but there is no such idea here.

UpoupYoui'Ta, ' being the sacrificing priest of the Gospel of God.'
St. Paul is standing at the altar as priest of the Gospel, and the
offering which he makes is the Gentile Church.

UpovpyiTv means (i) to * perform a sacred function,' hence (3) especially
to * sacrifice ' ; and so rd UpovpyqOiVTa means ' the slain victims ' ; and then
(3) to be a priest, to be one wJio performs sacred functions. Its con-
struction is two-fold ; (i) it may take the accusative of the thing sacrificed ;
so Bas. in Ps. cxv koX upovpyqaai aot ri]v rijs aU'eatais Ovaiav ; or (a)
Upovpyitv Tt may be put for Upovpyov tivos uvai (Galen, de Theriaca pvarr]'
pleuv Upovpyov), so 4 Mace. vii. 8 (v. 1.) rotj lepovpyovi'Tas tui' i/opov. Greg.
Naz. lepovpyuv aur-qpiav nvos (see Fri. ad loc. from whom this note is taken).

Vj TrpoCT<})op<£. With this use of sacrificial language, cf. xii. I, 2.
The sacrifices ofi'ered by the priest of the New Covenant were not
the dumb animals as the old law commanded, but human beings,
the great body of the Gentile Cliurches. Unlike the old sacrifices
which were no longer pleasing to the Lord, these were acceptable
(fuTrpoo-SfKror, I Pet. ii. 5). I'hose were animals without spot or
blemish; these are made a pure and acceptable oflfering by the
Holy Spirit which dwells in them (cf. viii. 9, 11).

For the construction of npoa(popd cf. Heb. x. i o jr. tov o-w/iaTOf 'I. Xp.

17. e'xw o3i' TT)i' Kau'x'iio-ii'. The ttjv should be omitted (see below).
' I have therefore my proper pride, and a feeling of confidence in
my position, which arises from the fact that I am a servant of
Christ, and a priest of the Gospel of God.' St. Paul is defending
his assumption of authority, and he does so on two grounds:
(i) His Apostolic mission, 6ia 717^ x"P^^ '^h^ SoBna-av p.01, as proved
by his successful labours (vv. 18-20); (2) the sphere of his
labours, the Gentile world, more especially that portion of it in
which the Gospel had not been officially preached. The emphasis



4o6 EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS [XV. 17-10.

therefore is on «V Xp. 'L, and to frpot t6v 6(6v. With Kau;(T;o-t>» cf.
iii. 27, I Cor. XV. 31; with the whole verse, 2 Cor. x. 13 v^flt 8«

ov;^;t ftj ra a/ieTpa Kavx^cop^f^a . . . I^ 6 ^e Kavxajirvos iv Kvplu Kav^aada.

The RV. has not improved the text by adding t'^v before Kaixriaiv. The
combination N A LP. Boh., Arm., Chrys., Cyr., Theodrt. is stronger than that
of B D E F G in this Epistle. C seems uncertain.



Online LibraryW. (William) SandayA critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Romans → online text (page 63 of 71)