Romans Chapter 15:1-13 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Calvin
Romans 15:1
1.We then who are strong, etc. Lest they who had made more advances than others in the knowledge of God should think it unreasonable, that more burden was to be laid on them than on others, he shows for what purpose this strength, by which they excelled others, was bestowed on them, even that they might so sustain the weak as to prevent them to fall. For as God has destined those to whom he has granted superior knowledge to convey instruction to the ignorant, so to those whom he makes strong he commits the duty of supporting the weak by their strength; thus ought all gifts to be communicated among all the members of Christ. The stronger then any one is in Christ, the more bound he is to bear with the weak.

By saying that a Christian ought not to please himself, he intimates, that he ought not to be bent on satisfying himself, as they are wont to be, who are content with their own judgment, and heedlessly neglect others: and this is indeed an admonition most suitable on the present subject; for nothing impedes and checks acts of kindness more than when any one is too much swallowed up with himself, so that he has no care for others, and follows only his own counsels and feelings.

Charles Hodge
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. The separation of this passage from the preceding chapter is obviously unhappy, as there is no change in the subject. ‘As the points of difference are not essential, as the law of love, the example of Christ, and the honor of religion require concession, we that are fully persuaded of the indifference of those things about which our weaker brethren are so scrupulous, ought to accommodate ourselves to their opinions, and not act with a view to our own gratification merely.’ We that are strong, (δυνατοὶ) strong in reference to the subject of discourse, i.e. faith, especially faith in the Christian doctrine of the lawfulness of all kinds of food, and the abrogation of the Mosaic law. Ought to bear, i.e. ought to tolerate, (βαστάζειν). The infirmities, τὰ ασθενήματα, that is, the prejudices, errors, and faults which arise from weakness of faith. Compare 1Co_9:20-22, where the apostle illustrates this command by stating how he himself acted in relation to this subject. And not to please ourselves; we are not to do every thing which we may have a right to do, and make our own gratification the rule by which we exercise our Christian liberty.

Albert Barnes
Romans 15:1
We then that are strong – The apostle resumes the subject of the preceding chapter; and continues the exhortation to brotherly love and mutual kindness and forbearance. By the “strong” here he means the strong “in faith” in respect to the matters under discussion; those whose minds were free from doubts and perplexities. His own mind was free from doubt, and there were many others, particularly of the Gentile converts, that had the same views. But many also, particularly of the “Jewish” converts, had many doubts and scruples.

Ought to bear – This word bear properly means to “lift up,” to “bear away,” to “remove.” But here it is used in a larger sense; “to bear with, to be indulgent to, to endure patiently, not to contend with;” Gal_6:2; Rev_2:2, “Thou canst not bear them that are evil.”

And not to please ourselves – Not to make it our main object to gratify our own wills. We should be willing to deny ourselves, if by it we may promote the happiness of others. This refers particularly to “opinions” about meats and drinks; but it may be applied to Christian conduct generally, as denoting that we are not to make our own happiness or gratification the standard of our conduct, but are to seek the welfare of others; see the example of Paul, 1Co_9:19, 1Co_9:22; see also Phi_2:4; 1Co_13:5, “Love seeketh not her own;” 1Co_10:24, “Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth; also Mat_16:24.

John Calvin
Romans 15:2
2.Let indeed every one of us, etc. He teaches us here, that we are under obligations to others, and that it is therefore our duty to please and to serve them, and that there is no exception in which we ought not to accommodate ourselves to our brethren when we can do so, according to God’s word, to their edification.

There are here two things laid down, — that we are not to be content with our own judgment, nor acquiesce in our own desires, but ought to strive and labor at all times to please our brethren, — and then, that in endeavoring to accommodate ourselves to our brethren, we ought to have regard to God, so that our object may be their edification; for the greater part cannot be pleased except you indulge their humor; so that if you wish to be in favor with most men, their salvation must not be so much regarded, but their folly must be flattered; nor must you look to what is expedient, but to what they seek to their own ruin. You must not then strive to please those to whom nothing is pleasing but evil.

Charles Hodge
Let each one of us please his neighbor, for his good for edification. The principle which is stated negatively at the close of the preceding verse, is here stated affirmatively. We are not to please ourselves, but others; the law of love is to regulate our conduct; we are not simply to ask what is right in itself, or what is agreeable, but also what is benevolent and pleasing to our brethren. The object which we should have in view in accommodating ourselves to others, however, is their good. For good to edification most probably means with a view to his good so that he may be edified. The latter words, to edification, are, therefore, explanatory of the former; the good we should contemplate is their religious improvement; which is the sense in which Paul frequently uses the word (οἰκοδομή) edification; Rom_14:19; 2Co_10:8; Eph_4:12, Eph_4:29. It is not therefore, a weak compliance with the wishes of others, to which Paul exhorts us, but to the exercise of an enlightened benevolence; to such compliances as have the design and tendency to promote the spiritual welfare of our neighbor.

Albert Barnes
Romans 15:2
Please his neighbour – That is, all other persons, but especially the friends of the Redeemer. The word “neighbor” here has special reference to the members of the church. It is often used, however, in a much larger sense; see Luk_10:36.

For his good – Not seek to secure for him indulgence in those things which Would be injurious to him, but in all those things whereby his welfare would be promoted.

To edification – See the note at Rom_14:19.

John Calvin
Romans 15:3
3.For even Christ pleased not himself, etc. Since it is not right that a servant should refuse what his lord has himself undertaken, it would be very strange in us to wish an exemption from the duty of bearing the infirmities of others, to which Christ, in whom we glory as our Lord and King, submitted himself; for he having no regard for himself, gave up himself wholly to this service. For in him was really verified what the Prophet declares in Psa_69:9 : and among other things he mentions this, that “zeal for God’s house had eaten him up,” and that “the reproaches of those who reproached God fell on him.” By these words it is intimated, that he burned with so much fervor for God’s glory that he was possessed by such a desire to promote his kingdom, that he forgot himself, and was, as it were, absorbed with this one thought, and that he so devoted himself to the Lord that he was grieved in his soul whenever he perceived his holy name exposed to the slandering of the ungodly.

The second part, “the reproaches of God,” may indeed be understood in two ways, — either that he was not less affected by the contumelies which were heaped on God, than if he himself had endured them, — or, that he grieved not otherwise to see the wrong done to God, than if he himself had been the cause. But if Christ reigns in us, as he must necessarily reign in his people, this feeling is also vigorous in our hearts, so that whatever derogates from the glory of God does not otherwise grieve us than if it was done to ourselves. Away then with those whose highest wish is to gain honors from them who treat God’s name with all kinds of reproaches, tread Christ under foot, contumeliously rend, and with the sword and the flame persecute his gospel. It is not indeed safe to be so much honored by those by whom Christ is not only despised but also reproachfully treated.

Charles Hodge
For even Christ pleased not himself, but as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. ‘For even Christ, so infinitely exalted above all Christians, was perfectly disinterested and condescending.’ The example of Christ is constantly held up, not merely as a model, but a motive. The disinterestedness of Christ is here illustrated by a reference to the fact that he suffered not for himself, but for the glory of God. The sorrow which he felt was not on account of his own privations and injuries, but zeal for God’s service consumed him, and it was the dishonor which was cast on God that broke his heart. The simple point to be illustrated is the disinterestedness of Christ, the fact that he did not please himself. And this is most affectingly done by saying, in the language of the Psalmist (Psa_69:9), “The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me;” that is, such was my zeal for thee, that the reproaches cast on thee I felt as if directed against myself. This Psalm is so frequently quoted and applied to Christ in the New Testament, that it must be considered as directly prophetical. Compare Joh_2:17; Joh_15:25; Joh_19:28; Act_1:20.

Expositor’s Greek New Testament
Rom 15:3
Ver. 3. καὶ γὰρ ὁ Χριστὸς κ.τ.λ. The duty of not pleasing ourselves is enforced by the example of Christ: He did not please Himself either. If this required proof, we might have expected Paul to prove it by adducing some incident in Christ’s life; but this is not what he does. He appeals to a psalm, which is in many places in the N.T. treated as having some reference to Christ (e.g., Joh_2:17 = Psa_69:9, Joh_15:25 = Psa_69:4, Mat_27:27-30 = Psa_69:12, Mat_27:34 = Psa_69:21, Rom_11:9 = Psa_69:22, Act_1:20 = Psa_69:25: see Perowne, The Psalms, i., p. 561 f.); and the words he quotes from it—words spoken as it were by Christ Himself—describe our Lord’s experiences in a way which shows that He was no self-pleaser. If He had been, He would never have given Himself up willingly, as He did, to such a fate. It is hardly conceivable that σε in Paul’s quotation indicates the man whom Christ is supposed to address: it can quite well be God, as in the psalm. Some have argued from this indirect proof of Christ’s character that Paul had no acquaintance with the facts of His life; but the inference is unsound. It would condemn all the N.T. writers of the same ignorance, for they never appeal to incidents in Christ’s life; and this summary of the whole character of Christ, possessing as it did for Paul and his readers the authority of inspiration, was more impressive than any isolated example of non-selfpleasing could have been.

Romans 15:3
For even Christ – The apostle proceeds, in his usual manner, to illustrate what he had said by the example of the Saviour. To a Christian, the example of the Lord Jesus will furnish the most ready, certain, and happy illustration of the nature and extent of his duty.

Pleased not himself – This is not to be understood as if the Lord Jesus did not voluntarily and cheerfully engage in his great work. He was not “compelled” to come and suffer. Nor is it to be understood as if he did not “approve” the work, or see its propriety and fitness. If he had not, he would never have engaged in its sacrifices and self-denials. But the meaning may be expressed in the following particulars:

(1) He came to do the will or desire of God in “undertaking” the work of salvation. It was the will of God; it was agreeable to the divine purposes, and the Mediator did not consult his own happiness and honor in heaven, but cheerfully came to “do the will” of God; Psa_40:7-8; compare Heb_10:4-10; Phi_2:6; Joh_17:5.

(2) Christ when on earth, made it his great object to do the will of God, to finish the work which God had given him to do, and not to seek his own comfort and enjoyment. This he expressly affirms; Joh_6:38; Joh_5:30.

(3) He was willing for this to endure whatever trials and pains the will of God might demand, not seeking to avoid them or to shrink from them. See particularly his prayer in the garden; Luk_22:42.

(4) In his life, he did not seek personal comfort, wealth, or friends, or honors. He denied himself to promote the welfare of others; he was poor that they might be rich; he was in lonely places that he might seek out the needy and provide for them. Nay, he did not seek to preserve his own life when the appointed time came to die, but gave himself up for all.

(5) There may be another idea which the apostle had here. He bore with patience the ignorance, blindness, erroneous views, and ambitious projects of his disciples. He evinced kindness to them when in error; and was not harsh, censorious, or unkind, when they were filled with vain projects of ambition, or perverted his words, or were dull of apprehension. So says the apostle, “we” ought to do in relation to our brethren.

But as it is written – Psa_69:9. This psalm, and the former part of this verse, is referred to the Messiah; compare Rom_15:21, with Mat_27:34, Mat_27:48.

The reproaches – The calumnies, censures, harsh, opprobrious speeches.

Of them that reproached thee – Of the wicked, who vilified and abused the law and government of God.

Fell on me – In other words, Christ was willing to suffer reproach and contempt in order to do good to others. tie endured calumny and contempt all his life, from those who by their lips and lives calumniated God, or reproached their Maker. We may learn here,

(1) That the contempt of Jesus Christ is contempt of him who appointed him.

(2) We may see the kindness of the Lord Jesus in being willing thus to “throw himself” between the sinner and God; to “intercept,” as it were, our sins, and to bear the effects of them in his own person. He stood between “us” and God; and both the reproaches and the divine displeasure due to them, “met” on his sacred person, and produced the sorrows of the atonement – his bitter agony in the garden and on the cross. Jesus thus showed his love of God in being willing to bear the reproaches aimed at him; and his love to “men” in being willing to endure the sufferings necessary to atone for these very sins.

(3) If Jesus thus bore reproaches, “we” should be willing also to endure them. We suffer in the cause where be has gone before us, and where he has set us the example; and as “he” was abused and vilified, we should be willing to be so also.

John Calvin
Romans 15:4
4.For whatsoever things, etc. This is an application of the example, lest any one should think, that to exhort us to imitate Christ was foreign to his purpose; “Nay,” he says, “there is nothing in Scripture which is not useful for your instruction, and for the direction of your life.”

This is an interesting passage, by which we understand that there is nothing vain and unprofitable contained in the oracles of God; and we are at the same time taught that it is by the reading of the Scripture that we make progress in piety and holiness of life. Whatever then is delivered in Scripture we ought to strive to learn; for it were a reproach offered to the Holy Spirit to think, that he has taught anything which it does not concern us to know; let us also know, that whatever is taught us conduces to the advancement of religion. And though he speaks of the Old Testament, the same thing is also true of the writings of the Apostles; for since the Spirit of Christ is everywhere like itself, there is no doubt but that he has adapted his teaching by the Apostles, as formerly by the Prophets, to the edification of his people. Moreover, we find here a most striking condemnation of those fanatics who vaunt that the Old Testament is abolished, and that it belongs not in any degree to Christians; for with what front can they turn away Christians from those things which, as Paul testifies, have been appointed by God for their salvation?

But when he adds, that through the patience and the consolation of the Scriptures we might have hope, he does not include the whole of that benefit which is to be derived from God’s word; but he briefly points out the main end; for the Scriptures are especially serviceable for this purpose — to raise up those who are prepared by patience, and strengthened by consolations, to the hope of eternal life, and to keep them in the contemplation of it. The word consolation some render exhortation; and of this I do not disapprove, only that consolation is more suitable to patience, for this arises from it; because then only we are prepared to bear adversities with patience, when God blends them with consolation. The patience of the faithful is not indeed that hardihood which philosophers recommend, but that meekness, by which we willingly submit to God, while a taste of his goodness and paternal love renders all things sweet to us: this nourishes and sustains hope in us, so that it fails not.

Charles Hodge
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. The object of this verse is not so much to show the propriety of applying the passage quoted from the Psalm to Christ, as to show that the facts recorded in the Scriptures are designed for our instruction. The character of Christ is there portrayed that we may follow his example and imbibe his spirit. The προ in προεγράφη has its proper temporal sense; before us, before our time. The reference is to the whole of the Old Testament Scriptures, and assumes, as the New Testament writers always assume or assert, that the Scriptures are the word of God, holy men of old writing as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. God had an immediate design in the Scriptures being just what they are; and that design was the sanctification and salvation of men. The words, through patience and consolation of the Scriptures, may be taken together, and mean, ‘through that patience and consolation which the Scriptures produce;’ or the words through patience may be disconnected from the word Scriptures, and the sense be, ‘that we through patience, and through the consolation of the Scriptures,’ etc. The former method is the most commonly adopted, and is the most natural. Might have hope. This may mean, that the design of the divine instructions is to prevent all despondency, to sustain us under our present trials; or the sense is, that they are intended to secure the attainment of the great object of our hopes, the blessedness of heaven. Either interpretation of the word hope is consistent with usage, and gives a good sense. The former is more natural.

Albert Barnes
Romans 15:4
For whatsoever things … – This is a “general” observation which struck the mind of the apostle, from the particular case which he had just specified. He had just made use of a striking passage in the Psalms to his purpose. The thought seems suddenly to have occurred to him that “all” the Old Testament was admirably adapted to express Christian duties and doctrine, and he therefore turned aside from his direct argument to express this sentiment. It should be read as a parenthesis.

Were written aforetime – That is, in ancient times; in the Old Testament.

For our learning – For our “teaching” or instruction. Not that this was the “only” purpose of the writings of the Old Testament, to instruct Christians; but that all the Old Testament might be useful “now” in illustrating and enforcing the doctrines and duties of piety toward God and man.

Through patience – This does not mean, as our translation might seem to suppose, patience “of the Scriptures,” but it means that by patiently enduring sufferings, in connection with the consolation which the Scriptures furnish, we might have hope. The “tendency” of patience, the apostle tells us Rom_5:4, is to produce “hope;” see the notes at this place.

And comfort of the Scriptures – By means of the consolation which the writings of the Old Testament furnish. The word rendered “comfort” means also “exhortation” or “admonition.” If this is its meaning here, it refers to the admonitions which the Scriptures suggest, instructions which they impart, and the exhortations to patience in trials. If it means “comfort,” then the reference is to the examples of the saints in affliction; to their recorded expressions of confidence in God in their trials, as of Job, Daniel, David, etc. Which is the precise meaning of the word here, it is not easy to determine.

Might have hope – Note, Rom_5:4. We may learn here,

(1) That afflictions may prove to be a great blessing.

(2) That their proper tendency is to produce “hope.”

(3) That the way to find support in afflictions is to go to the Bible.

By the example of the ancient saints, by the expression of their confidence in God, by their patience, “we” may learn to suffer, and may not only be “instructed,” but may find “comfort” in all our trials; see the example of Paul himself in 2Co_1:2-11.

John Calvin
Romans 15:5
5.And the God of patience, etc. God is so called from what he produces; the same thing has been before very fitly ascribed to the Scriptures, but in a different sense: God alone is doubtless the author of patience and of consolation; for he conveys both to our hearts by his Spirit: yet he employs his word as the instrument; for he first teaches us what is true consolation, and what is true patience; and then he instills and plants this doctrine in our hearts.

But after having admonished and exhorted the Romans as to what they were to do, he turns to pray for them: for he fully understood, that to speak of duty was to no purpose, except God inwardly effected by his Spirit what he spoke by the mouth of man. The sum of his prayer is, — that he would bring their minds to real unanimity, and make them united among themselves: he also shows at the same time what is the bond of unity, for he wished them to agree together according to Christ Jesus Miserable indeed is the union which is unconnected with God, and that is unconnected with him, which alienates us from his truth.

And that he might recommend to us an agreement in Christ, he teaches us how necessary it is: for God is not truly glorified by us, unless the hearts of all agree in giving him praise, and their tongues also join in harmony. There is then no reason for any to boast that he will give glory to God after his own manner; for the unity of his servants is so much esteemed by God, that he will not have his glory sounded forth amidst discords and contentions. This one thought ought to be sufficient to check the wanton rage for contention and quarreling, which at this day too much possesses the minds of many.

Charles Hodge
Now, the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like minded one towards another, according to Jesus Christ. ‘May God, who is the author of patience and consolation, grant,’ etc. Here the graces, which in the preceding verse are ascribed to the Scriptures, are attributed to God as their author, because he produces them by his Spirit, through the instrumentality of the truth. The patience, ὑπομονή, of which the apostle speaks, is the calm and steadfast endurance of suffering, of which the consolation, παρακλήσις, afforded by the Scriptures, is the source. External teaching is not enough; we need the inward teaching of the Holy Spirit to enable us to receive and conform to the truths and precepts of the word. Hence Paul prays that God would give his readers the patience, consolation, and hope which they are bound to exercise and enjoy. Paul prays that God would grant them that concord and ananimity which he had so strongly exhorted them to cherish. The expression (τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν), to be like minded, does not here refer to unanimity of opinion, but to harmony of feeling; see Rom_8:5; Rom_12:3. According to Jesus Christ, i.e. agreeably to the example and command of Christ; in a Christian manner. It is, therefore, to a Christian union that he exhorts them.

Albert Barnes
Romans 15:5
Now the God of patience – The God who is “himself” long-suffering, who bears patiently with the errors and faults of his children, and who can “give” patience, may he give you of his Spirit, that you may bear patiently the infirmities and errors of each other. The example of God here, who bears long with his children, and is not angry soon at their offences, is a strong argument why Christians should bear with each other. If God bears long and patiently with “our” infirmities, “we” ought to bear with each other.

And consolation – Who gives or imparts consolation.

To be like-minded … – Greek To think the same thing; that is, to be united, to keep from divisions and strifes.

According to Christ Jesus – According to the example and spirit of Christ; his was a spirit of peace. Or, according to what his religion requires. The name of Christ is sometimes thus put for his religion; 2Co_11:4; Eph_4:20. If all Christians would imitate the example of Christ, and follow his instructions, there would be no contentions among them. He earnestly sought in his parting prayer their unity and peace; Joh_17:21-23.

Charles Hodge
That ye may with one mind and with one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This harmony and fellowship among Christians is necessary, in order that they may glorify God aright. To honor God effectually and properly, there must be no unnecessary dissensions among his people. God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, means either that God who is the Father of the Lord Jesus, or the God and Father of Christ. This expression occurs frequently in the New Testament; see 2Co_1:3; 2Co_11:31; Eph_1:3; 1Pe_1:3. Most commonly the genitive τοῦ κυρίου is assumed to belong equally to the two preceding nouns, God and Father. Many of the later commentators restrict it to the latter, and explain kai as exegetical: ‘God, who is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.’ In favor of this explanation, reference is made to such passages as 1Co_15:24; Eph_5:20, and others, in which ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατήρ occurs without the genitive τοῦ κυρίου κ.τ.λ.

Albert Barnes
Romans 15:6
That ye may with one mind – The word used here is translated “with one accord;” Act_1:14; Act_2:1; Act_4:24. It means unitedly, with one purpose, without contentions, and strifes, and jars.

And one mouth – This refers, doubtless, to their prayers and praises. That they might join without contention and unkind feeling, in the worship of God. Divisions, strife, and contention in the church prevent union in worship. Though the “body” may be there, and the church “professedly” engaged in public worship, yet it is a “divided” service; and the prayers of strife and contention are not heard; Isa_58:4.
Glorify God – Praise or honor God. This would be done by their union, peace, and harmony; thus showing the tendency of the gospel to overcome the sources of strife and contention among people, and to bring them to peace.

Even the Father … – This is an addition designed to produce love.

(1) He is “a Father;” we then, his children, should regard him as pleased with the union and peace of his family.

(2) He is the Father of our Lord; our “common” Lord; our Lord who has commanded us to be united, and to love one another. By the desire of honoring “such” a Father, we should lay aside contentions, and be united in the bands of love.

John Calvin
Romans 15:7
7.Receive ye then, etc. He returns to exhortation; and to strengthen this he still retains the example of Christ. For he, having received, not one or two of us, but all together, has thus connected us, so that we ought to cherish one another, if we would indeed continue in his bosom. Only thus then shall we confirm our calling, that is, if we separate not ourselves from those whom the Lord has bound together.

The words,to the glory of God, may be applied to us only, or to Christ, or to him and us together: of the last I mostly approve, and according to this import, — “As Christ has made known the glory of the Father in receiving us into favor, when we stood in need of mercy; so it behooves us, in order to make known also the glory of the same God, to establish and confirm this union which we have in Christ.”

Charles Hodge
Wherefore receive ye one another; as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. Wherefore, i.e. in order that with one heart they may glorify God. This cannot be done, unless they are united in the bonds of Christian fellowship. The word (προσλαμβάνεσθε) receive, has the same sense here that it has in Rom_14:1 : ‘Take one another to yourselves, treat one another kindly, even as Christ has kindly taken us to himself;’ προσελάβετο, sibi sociavit. The words, to the glory of God, may be connected with the first or second clause, or with both: ‘Receive ye one another, that God may be glorified;’ or, ‘as Christ has received us in order that God might be glorified;’ or, if referred to both clauses, the idea is, ‘as the glory of God was illustrated and promoted by Christ’s reception of us, so also will it be exhibited by our kind treatment of each other.’ The first method seems most consistent with the context, as the object of the apostle is to enforce the duty of mutual forbearance among Christians, for which he suggests two motives, the kindness of Christ towards us, and the promotion of the divine glory. If instead of “received us,” the true reading is, “received you,” the sense and point of the passage is materially altered. Paul must then be considered as exhorting the Gentile converts to forbearance towards their Jewish brethren, on the ground that Christ had received them, though aliens, into the commonwealth of Israel.

R.B. Terry
Romans 15:7
:TEXT: “just as Christ has also received plyou”

EVIDENCE: S A C Db,c G Psi 33 81 630 1241 1739 1881 2495 Byz Lect most lat vg syr(p,h) cop(north)



NOTES: “just as Christ has also received us”

EVIDENCE: B D* P 048 104 614 three lat cop(south)


COMMENTS: The Greek words for plyou and us were pronounced alike in later Greek. Although it is possible that “us” was changed to “plyou” either accidently through a mistake of the ear or deliberately to agreed with the several occurrences of “plyou” in the surrounding verses, the number of manuscripts reading “plyou” makes it more likely that “plyou” was accidently changed to “us” through a mistake of the ear.

Albert Barnes
Romans 15:7
Wherefore – In view of all the considerations tending to produce unity and love, which have been presented. He refers to the various arguments in this and the preceding chapter.

Receive ye one another – Acknowledge one another as Christians, and treat one another as such, though you may differ in opinion about many smaller matters; see Rom_14:3.

As Christ also received us – That is, received us as his friends and followers; see Rom_14:3.

To the glory of God – In order to promote his glory. He has redeemed us, and renewed us, in order to promote the honor of God; compare Eph_1:6. As Christ has received us in order to promote the glory of God, so ought we to treat each other in a similar manner for a similar purpose. The exhortation in tiffs verse is to those who had been divided on various points pertaining to rites and ceremonies; to those who had been converted from among “Gentiles” and “Jews;” and the apostle here says that Christ had received “both.” In order to enforce this, and especially to show the “Jewish” converts that they ought to receive and acknowledge their “Gentile” brethren, he proceeds to show, in the following verses, that Christ had reference to “both” in his work. He shows this in reference to the “Jews” Rom_15:8, and to the “Gentiles” Rom_15:9-12. Thus, he draws all his arguments from the work of Christ.

John Calvin
Romans 15:8
8.Now I say, that Jesus Christ, etc. He now shows that Christ has embraced us all, so that he leaves no difference between the Jews and the Gentiles, except that in the first place he was promised to the Jewish nation, and was in a manner peculiarly destined for them, before he was revealed to the Gentiles. But he shows, that with respect to that which was the seed of all contentions, there was no difference between them; for he had gathered them both from a miserable dispersion, and brought them, when gathered, into the Father’s kingdom, that they might be one flock, in one sheepfold, under one shepherd. It is hence right, he declares, that they should continue united together, and not despise one another; for Christ despised neither of them.

He then speaks first of the Jews, and says, that Christ was sent to them, in order to accomplish the truth of God by performing the promises given to the Fathers: and it was no common honor, that Christ, the Lord of heaven and earth, put on flesh, that he might procure salvation for them; for the more he humbled himself for their sake, the greater was the honor he conferred on them. But this point he evidently assumes as a thing indubitable. The more strange it is, that there is such effrontery in some fanatical heads, that they hesitate not to regard the promises of the Old Testament as temporal, and to confine them to the present world. And lest the Gentiles should claim any excellency above the Jews, Paul expressly declares, that the salvation which Christ has brought belonged by covenant to the Jews; for by his coming he fulfilled what the Father had formerly promised to Abraham, and thus he became the minister of that people. It hence follows that the old covenant was in reality spiritual, though it was annexed to earthly types; for the fulfillment, of which Paul now speaks, must necessarily relate to eternal salvation. And further, lest any one should cavil, and say, that so great a salvation was promised to posterity, when the covenant was deposited in the hand of Abraham, he expressly declares that the promises were made to the Fathers. Either then the benefits of Christ must be confined to temporal things, or the covenant made with Abraham must be extended beyond the things of this world.

Charles Hodge
Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers. This verse follows as a confirmation or illustration of the preceding. Now I say, i.e. this I mean. The apostle intends to show how it was that Christ had received those to whom he wrote. He had come to minister to the Jews, Rom_15:8, and also to cause the Gentiles to glorify God, Rom_15:9. The expression, minister, or servant, of the circumcision, means a minister sent to the Jews, as ‘apostle of the Gentiles,’ means ‘an apostle sent to the Gentiles.’ For the truth of God, i.e. to maintain the truth of God in the accomplishment of the promises made to the fathers, as is immediately added. The truth of God is his veracity or fidelity. Christ had exhibited the greatest condescension and kindness in coming, not as a Lord or ruler, but as an humble minister to the Jews, to accomplish the gracious promises of God. As this kindness was not confined to them, but as the Gentiles also were received into his kingdom, and united with the Jews on equal terms, this example of Christ furnishes the strongest motives for the cultivation of mutual affection and unanimity.

William Sanday
Rom 15:8
8. St. Paul has a double object. He writes to remind the Gentiles that it is through the Jews that they are called, the Jews that the aim and purpose of their existence is the calling of the Gentiles. The Gentiles must remember that Christ became a Jew to save them; the Jew that Christ came among them in order that all the families of the earth might be blessed: both must realize that the aim of the whole is to proclaim God’s glory.

This passage is connected by undoubted links (διό ver. 7; λέγω γάρ ver. 8) with what precedes, and forms the conclusion of the argument after the manner of the concluding verses of ch. 8. and ch. 11. This connexion makes it probable that ‘the relations of Jew and Gentile were directly or indirectly involved in the relations of the weak and the strong.’ (Hort, Rom. and Eph. p. 29.)

διάκονον … περιτομῆς: 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 Gifford, who has an excellent note), i. e. to carry out the promises implied in that covenant the seal of which was circumcision; so 2Co_3:6 διακόνους καινῆς διαθήκης. In the Ep. to the Galatians (4:4, 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_12:1-3,Gen_17:1-14.

The privileges of the Jews which St. Paul dwells on are as follows: (1) Christ has Himself fulfilled the condition of being circumcised: the circumcised therefore must not be condemned. (2) The primary object of this was to fulfil the promises made to the Jews (cf. Rom_2:9, Rom_2:10). (3) It was only as a secondary result of this Messiahship that the Gentiles glorified God. (4) While the blessing came to the Jews ὑπὲρ ἀληθείας to preserve God’s consistency, it came to the Gentiles ὑπὲρ ἐλέους for God’s loving-kindness.

Albert Barnes
Romans 15:8
Now I say – I affirm, or maintain. I, a “Jew,” admit that his work had reference to the Jews; I affirm also that it had reference to the Gentiles.

That Jesus Christ – That “the Messiah.” The force of the apostle’s reasoning would often be more striking if he would retain the word “Messiah,” and not regard the word “Christ” as a mere surname. It is the name of his “office;” and to “a Jew” the name “Messiah” would convey much more than the idea of a mere proper name.

Was a minister of the circumcision – Exercized his office – the office of the Messiah – among the Jews, or with respect to the Jews, for the purposes which he immediately specifies. He was born a Jew; was circumcised; came “to” that nation; and died in their midst, without having gone himself to any other people.

For the truth of God – To confirm or establish the truth of the promises of God. He remained among them in the exercise of his ministry, to show that God was “true,” who had said that the Messiah should come to them.

To confirm the promises … – To “establish,” or to show that the promises were true; see the note at Act_3:25-26. The “promises” referred to here, are those particularly which related to the coming of the Messiah. By thus admitting that the Messiah was the minister of the circumcision, the apostle conceded all that the Jew could ask, that he was to be peculiarly “their” Messiah; see the note at Luk_24:47.

John Calvin
Romans 15:9
9.The Gentiles also, etc. This is the second point, on proving which he dwells longer, because it was not so evident. The first testimony he quotes is taken from Psa_18:0; which psalm is recorded also in 2Sa_22:0, where no doubt a prophecy is mentioned concerning the kingdom of Christ; and from it Paul proves the calling of the Gentiles, because it is there promised, that a confession to the glory of God should be made among the Gentiles; for we cannot really make God known, except among those who hear his praises while they are sung by us. Hence that God’s name may be known among the Gentiles, they must be favored with the knowledge of him, and come into communion with his people: for you may observe this everywhere in Scripture, that God’s praises cannot be declared, except in the assembly of the faithful, who have ears capable of hearing his praise.

Charles Hodge
And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. Might glorify, δοξάσαι, have glorified. The effect is considered as accomplished. The apostle’s language is, as usual, concise. There are two consequences of the work of Christ which he here presents; the one, that the truth of God has been vindicated by the fulfillment of the promises made to the Jews; and the other, that the Gentiles have been led to praise God for his mercy. The grammatical connection of this sentence with the preceding is not very clear. The most probable explanation is that which makes (δοξάσαι) glorify depend upon (λέγω) I say, in Rom_15:8 : ‘I say that Jesus Christ became a minister to the Jews, and I say the Gentiles have glorified God;’ it was thus he received both. Calvin supplies δεῖν, and translates, “The Gentiles ought to glorify God for his mercy;” which is not necessary, and does not so well suit the context. The mercy for which the Gentiles were to praise God, is obviously the great mercy of being received into the kingdom of Christ, and made partakers of all its blessings.

As it is written, I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name, Psa_18:49. In this and the following quotations from the Old Testament, the idea is more or less distinctly expressed, that true religion was to be extended to the Gentiles; and they therefore all include the promise of the extension of the Redeemer’s kingdom to them, as well as to the Jews. In Psa_18:49, David is the speaker. It is he that says: “I will praise thee among the Gentiles.” He is contemplated as surrounded by Gentiles giving thanks unto God, which implies that they were the worshippers of God. Our version renders ἐξομολογήσομαι, I will confess, make acknowledgment to thee. The word in itself may mean, to acknowledge the truth or sin, or God’s mercies; and therefore it is properly rendered, at times, to give thanks, or to praise, which is an acknowledgment of God’s goodness.

Albert Barnes
Romans 15:9
And that the Gentiles … – The benefits of the gospel were not to be confined to “the Jews;” and as God “designed” that those benefits should be extended to the “Gentiles,” so the Jewish converts ought to be willing to admit them and treat them as brethren. That God “did” design this, the apostle proceeds to show.

Might glorify God – Might “praise,” or give thanks to God. This implies that the favor shown to them was a “great” favor.
For his mercy – Greek, On account of the mercy shown to them.

As it is written – Psa_18:49. The expression there is one of David’s. He says that he will praise God for his mercies “among” the pagan, or when surrounded “by” the pagan; or that he would confess and acknowledge the mercies of God to him, as we should say, “to all the world.” The apostle, however, uses it in this sense, that the “Gentiles” would “participate” with the Jew in offering praise to God, or that they would be united. This does not appear to have been the original design of David in the psalm, but the “words” express the idea of the apostle.

And sing … – Celebrate thy praise. This supposes that “benefits” would be conferred on them, for which they would celebrate his goodness.

John Calvin
Romans 15:10
10Exult, ye Gentiles, with his people This verse is commonly considered as if it was taken from the song of Moses; but with this I cannot agree; for Moses’ design there was to terrify the adversaries of Israel by setting forth his greatness, rather than to invite them to a common joy. I hence think that this is quoted from Psa_47:5, where it is written, “Exult and rejoice let the Gentiles, because thou judgest the nations in equity, and the Gentiles on the earth thou guidest.” And Paul adds, with his people, and he did this by way of explanation; for the Prophet in that psalm no doubt connects the Gentiles with Israel, and invites both alike to rejoice; and there is no joy without the knowledge of God. (447)

Charles Hodge
And again, Rejoice ye Gentiles with his people. This passage is commonly considered as quoted from Deu_32:43, where it is found in the Septuagint precisely as it stands here. The Hebrew admits of three interpretations, without altering the text. It may mean, ‘Praise his people, ye Gentiles;’ or, ‘Rejoice, ye tribes, his people;’ or, ‘Rejoice ye Gentiles, (rejoice,) his people.’ Hengstenberg on Psa_18:49, adopts the last mentioned explanation of the passage in Deuteronomy. The English version brings the Hebrew into coincidence with the lxx by supplying with: ‘Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.’ And this is probably the true sense. As the sacred writer (in Deuteronomy 32) is not speaking of the blessing of the Jews being extended to the Gentiles, but seems rather in the whole context, to be denouncing vengeance on them as the enemies of God’s people, Calvin and others refer this citation to Psa_67:3, Psa_67:5, where the sentiment is clearly expressed, though not in precisely the same words.

Albert Barnes
Romans 15:10
And again … – ; Deu_32:43. In this place the “nations” or Gentiles are called on to rejoice with the Jews, for the interposition of God in their behalf. The design of the quotation is to show that the Old Testament speaks of the Gentiles as called on to celebrate the praises of God; of course, the apostle infers that they are to be introduced to the same privileges as his people.

John Calvin
Romans 15:11
11.Praise God, all ye Gentiles, etc. This passage is not inaptly applied; for how can they, who know not God’s greatness, praise him? They could no more do this than to call on his name, when unknown. It is then a prophecy most suitable to prove the calling of the Gentiles; and this appears still more evident from the reason which is there added; for he bids them to give thanks for God’s truth and mercy. (Psa_117:1.)

Albert Barnes
Romans 15:11
And again – Psa_117:1. The object in this quotation is the same as before. The apostle accumulates quotations to show that it was the common language of the Old Testament, and that he was not depending on a single expression for the truth of his doctrine.

All ye Gentiles – In the psalm, “all ye nations;” but the original is the same.

And laud him – “Praise” him. The psalm is directly in point. It is a call on “all” nations to praise God; the very point in the discussion of the apostle.

John Calvin
Romans 15:12
12.And again, Isaiah, etc., This prophecy is the most illustrious of them all: for in that passage, the Prophet, when things were almost past hope, comforted the small remnant of the faithful, even by this, — that there would arise a shoot from the dry and the dying trunk of David’s family, and that a branch would flourish from his despised root, which would restore to God’s people their pristine glory. It is clear from the account there given, that this shoot was Christ, the Redeemer of the world. And then, he added, that he would be raised for a sign to the Gentiles, that might be to them for salvation. The words do indeed differ a little from the Hebrew text; for we read here, arise, while in Hebrew it is stand for a sign, which is the same; for he was to appear conspicuous like a sign. What is here hope, is in Hebrew seek; but according to the most common usage of Scripture, to seek God is nothing else but to hope in him.

But twice in this prophecy is the calling of the Gentiles confirmed, — by the expression, that Christ was to be raised up as a sign, and he reigns among the faithful alone, — and by the declaration, that they shall hope in Christ, which cannot take place without the preaching of the word and illumination of the Spirit. With these things corresponds the song of Simeon. It may be further added, that hope in Christ is an evidence of his divinity.

Charles Hodge
And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to rule over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust, Isa_11:1, Isa_11:10. This is an explicit prediction of the dominion of the Messiah over other nations besides the Jews. Here again the apostle follows the Septuagint, giving, however, the sense of the original Hebrew. The promise of the prophet is, that from the decayed and fallen house of David, one should arise, whose dominion should embrace all nations, and in whom Gentiles as well as Jews should trust. In the fulfillment of this prophecy Christ came, and preached salvation to those who were near and to those who were far off. As both classes had been thus kindly received by the condescending Savior, and united into one community, they should recognize and love each other as brethren, laying aside all censoriousness and contempt, neither judging nor despising one another.

Romans 15:12
Esaias saith – Isa_11:1, Isa_11:10.
There shall be a root – A descendant, or one that should proceed from him when he was dead. When a tree dies, and falls, there may remain a “root” which shall retain life, and which shall send up a sprout of a similar kind. So Job says Job_14:7, “For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.” So in relation to Jesse. Though he should fall, like an aged tree, yet his name and family should not be extinct. There should be a descendant who should rise, and reign over the Gentiles. The Lord Jesus is thus called also the “root and the offspring of David;” Rev_22:16; Rev_5:5.

Of Jesse – The father of David; 1Sa_17:58. The Messiah was thus descended from Jesse.

He that shall rise – That is, as a sprout springs up from a decayed or fallen tree. Jesus thus “rose” from the family of David, that had fallen into poverty and humble life in the time of Mary.

To reign over the Gentiles – This is quoted from the Septuagint of Isa_11:10. The Hebrew is, “Which shall stand up for an ensign of the people;” that is, a standard to which they shall flock. Either the Septuagint or the Hebrew would express the idea of the apostle. The “substantial” sense is retained, though it is not literally quoted. The idea of his “reigning” over the Gentiles is one that is fully expressed in the second psalm.

In him … – Hebrew, “To it shall the Gentiles seek.” The sense, however, is the same. The design of this quotation is the same as the preceding, to show that it was predicted in the Old Testament that the Gentiles should be made partakers of the privileges of the gospel. The argument of the apostle is, that if this was designed, then converts to Christianity from among the “Jews” should lay aside their prejudices, and “receive” them as their brethren, entitled to the same privileges of the gospel as themselves. The “fact” that the Gentiles would be admitted to these privileges, the apostle had more fully discussed in Rom. 10–11.

John Calvin
Romans 15:13
13.And may the God, etc. He now concludes the passage, as before, with prayer; in which he desires the Lord to give them whatever he had commanded. It hence appears, that the Lord does in no degree measure his precepts according to our strength or the power of free-will; and that he does not command what we ought to do, that we, relying on our own power, may gird up ourselves to render obedience; but that he commands those things which require the aid of his grace, that he may stimulate us in our attention to prayer.

In saying the God of hope, he had in view the last verse; as though he said, — “May then the God in whom we all hope fill you with joy, that is, with cheerfulness of heart, and also with unity and concord, and this by believing:” for in order that our peace may be approved by God, we must be bound together by real and genuine faith. If any one prefers taking in believing, for, in order to believe, the sense will be, — that they were to cultivate peace for the purpose of believing; for then only are we rightly prepared to believe, when we, being peaceable and unanimous, do willingly embrace what is taught us. It is however preferable, that faith should be connected with peace and joy; for it is the bond of holy and legitimate concord, and the support of godly joy. And though the peace which one has within with God may also be understood, yet the context leads us rather to the former explanation.

He further adds, that ye may abound in hope; for in this way also is hope confirmed and increased in us. The words, through the power of the Holy Spirit, intimate that all things are the gifts of the divine bounty: and the word power is intended emphatically to set forth that wonderful energy, by which the Spirit works in us faith, hope, joy, and peace.

Charles Hodge
Now then 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. All joy means all possible joy. Paul here, as in Rom_15:5, concludes by praying that God would grant them the excellencies which it was their duty to possess. Thus constantly and intimately are the ideas of account ableness and dependence connected in the sacred Scriptures. We are to work out our own salvation, because it is God that worketh in us both to will and to do, according to his good pleasure. The God of hope, i.e. God who is the author of that hope which it was predicted men should exercise in the root and offspring of Jesse.

Fill you with all joy and peace in believing, i.e. fill you with that joy and concord among yourselves, as well as peace of conscience and peace towards God, which are the results of genuine faith. That ye may abound in hope. The consequence of the enjoyment of the blessings, and of the exercise of the graces just referred to, would be an increase in the strength and joyfulness of their hope; through the power of the Holy Ghost, through whom all good is given and all good exercised.

William Sanday
What sect or party is referred to in Rom_14?

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 dealing with certain special circumstances which have arisen in the Church of Rome, and that the weak and the strong represent two parties 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 circumstances. 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 represented 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 later 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. Oltr.). This view fulfils the three conditions 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 community there, it is possible. Yet if any one compares St. Paul’s 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 element in the Roman Church, such as afterwards affected the Colossian Church.’ But later he modified his opinion (Judaistic 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 experience, 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 Jewish 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 fulness, it does so without the slightest sign that there is a reference to a controversy then actually existing in the Roman Church.’ Unfortunately he has not applied the same theory to this practical portion of the Epistle: if he had done so it would have presented 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 different 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 takes a typical instance of excessive scrupulousness. When again he says ‘one man considers one day better than another,’ 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 ὁ φρονῶν τὴν ἡμέραν, ὁ μὴ ἐσθίων 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 thy 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 evermore, that I make not my brother to stumble’ (1Co_8:13). It is not considered necessary to argue from these words that abstinence 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 difficulties 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 tendencies 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 Christian towards over-scrupulousness and over-conscientiousness. He is not dealing with the question controversially, but examining it from all sides.

And he 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 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.


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