Here we are, the penultimate chapter of Romans.  Only one more to go after this.  To think, when I started I thought I might be done by July 4!  I was either foolish or arrogant.  Probably a little of both.

Translation Notes

I have supplied “doing” as a verb in verse 2.  The sentence works without it, but by adding it meaning is clarified.

In verse 16, the weird phrase ‘serving as a priest of the gospel of God’ is awkward and jarring for those of us in the Protestant tradition that de-emphasizes the priestly role of ministry.  The word picture is that of a priest tending the duties of God in the temple.  Paul is making the point that he is like a priest fulfilling his term of service, but the place of service is not in the physical temple, his place of work is among the gentiles. A priest to the gentiles.  The incredible theology here is implied:  The holy place of God is not a building, but people, and gentiles at that.  The thought parallels nicely with 1 Corinthians 6:19.

The ending of verse 24 is a little hard to translate because it feels like mostly idiom, idioms which are hard to get at. What Paul appears to be indicating is “I hope to stop by and visit you on my way to Spain. We’ll have a good time, won’t we?”

The word I render as ‘proceeds’ in verse 28 is actually the word ‘fruit.’ It is a reference to the money Paul has collected among the churches during his journey. This money was a love offering for the church in Jerusalem because they had been in severe famine.

Theological Notes

There are four striking components of this chapter.  First, Paul has the idea of “owe” in his mind.  The strong owe the weak and gentile Christ-followers owe the church at Jerusalem.  One of these debts is paid with care, the other is paid with money, but the reason for the debt is the same.  All of us are spiritually connected.

Second, I still think verse 7 is the key to understanding Chapter’s 14 and 15.  These complicated faith communities–some Jewish Christian, some gentile Christian, some both, and some with other religious flavoring from all over the empire must learn to practice an inclusive faith that never lets people whom Christ accepts be rejected.  It is hard work to be a welcoming congregation, but that is exactly what Paul wants them to be.

Third, Paul wants to go to Spain.  This is his new dream.  He has had enough of the Mediterranean basin.  He is ready for a new challenge, and he is not afraid of suggesting that the fat cats in Rome help pay for it.  That is probably what the last ten verses are hinting at.  He wants to highlight how Macedonia and Achaia sent money to Jerusalem, layng the foundation for Rome to send money through him to Spain.  He also wants to be refreshed (v. 32) by them, which might mean resupplied.  Paul has a new dream, and this is his fire in the belly.  Sometimes when old dreams die, new ones must replace them.

Fourth, Paul’s prayer at the end tells us that he is somewhat hesitant, perhaps even fearful, of his journey to Rome.  He tips his hand this direction when he asks the Romans to pray for him.  He asks them to pray that his ministry/service/life’s work be accepted by the Christ-followers in Jerusalem.  He really doesn’t know how things are going to happen when he gets there.

Chapter Fifteen
1. We who are strong owe it to the weak to bear their weakness and not please ourselves.
2. Each one of us should please our neighbor by doing good things, with the goal of edification.
3. For the Messiah did not please himself, but just as it is written, “The insults they insulted you with fell upon me.”
4. What was written beforehand was to guide us, written so that we might have hope in the scriptures by patience and encouragement.
5. May the God of patience and encouragement give that same thing to you, to think about one another as Messiah Jesus.
6. So that with one mind and mouth you might glorify God and Father of our Lord Messiah Jesus.
7. Therefore, you must welcome one another, just as the Messiah welcomed you into the glory of God.
8. For I say the Messiah became a servant to the circumcised to confirm the truth of God in the promises to our ancestors.
9. But he gave mercy to the gentiles so that they would glorify God, just as it is written, “Because of this I will confess you among the gentiles and I will sing your name.”
10. And again, it says, “Be glad, gentiles, with his people.”
11. And again it says, “Praise the Lord, all you gentiles, and let all the people praise him.”
12. And again Isaiah says, “There shall be the root of Jesse, and he will arise to rule the gentiles. Upon him the gentiles will hope.”
13. May the God of hope fill you with all joy, peace in believing, and hope to overflow in you by the power of the Holy Spirit.
14. I myself am convinced about you, my brothers and sisters, that you are full of goodness, having been filled with all knowledge and are able to advise one another.
15. For my part, I write to you rather boldly, reminding you about the grace given to me by God
16. to be a minister of Messiah Jesus among the gentiles, serving as a priest of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the gentiles might be acceptable, consecrated by the Holy Spirit.
17. Therefore, I have something to boast about to God in Messiah Jesus.
18. For I will dare not to speak of anything except what obedience Messiah accomplished through me among the gentiles, in word and work
19. with powerful signs and wonders in the power of the Spirit, so that I filled from Jerusalem around about until Illyricum with the gospel of the Messiah.
20. And so making it a point to evangelize where Messiah has not been named, so as not to build on someone else’ foundation.
21. And just as it is written, “To those who have not known him, they will see, and those who have not heard, they will understand.”
22. For this I kept being hindered many times from coming to you.
23. But now, no longer having a place in these regions, and desiring to come to you for many years,
24. I hope as I travel to Spain to see you first as I pass through, and to enjoy being with you for a while before I am sent ahead.
25. But now I travel to Jerusalem, serving the saints.
26. For Macedonia and Achaia considered it a good partnership to do something for the poor saints in Jerusalem.
27. They thought well of it, for they are debtors because since the gentiles have a share in spiritual things, they owe the service of physical things too.
28. Therefore, accomplishing what I have personally guaranteed about the proceeds, I will come to you on my way to Spain.
29. I know that when I will come, I am coming to you in the full blessing of Messiah.
30. But I encourage you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Messiah and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together in prayer to God for me.
31. That I might be delivered from the unbelieving people in Judea, and my ministry in Jerusalem might be accepted by the saints,
32. and that I come to you in joy, by the will of God, and refresh myself with you.
33. And the God of peace be with all of you. Amen.

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