Personal Matters and Doxology, 15:14-16:27

i] Paul, apostle to the Gentiles


From 15:14 to 16:23 Paul deals with a range of personal matters. In this passage, 15:14-22, Paul covers a number of subjects. First, in verse 14 he expresses confidence in his readers' goodness, knowledge and ability to instruct others. Then in verses 15-16 he explains the basis of his bold writing: he is a minister (an apostle) of Jesus Christ, with a particular brief to evangelize the Gentiles. He also explains his purpose in writing, namely, to remind the Roman believers of truths they already knew, so that they "might become an offering acceptable to God". Finally, in verses 17-22 he explains his missionary work and outlines his practice of preaching the gospel in areas where Christ has not yet been proclaimed.


i] Context: See 1:1-7. Paul now concludes with a number of personal issues.

It is often argued that 15:14 introduces the final section of Romans with chapter 16 appended, but Jeffrey Weima in JSNTS 101 argues against this view.


ii] Background: See 1:8-15.


iii] Structure: This passage, dealing with Paul's mission strategy, presents as follows:

An opening word of encouragement to his readers, v14;

The purpose of Paul's apostolic ministry, v15-16;

The nature of Paul's mission, v17-22.


iv] Thesis: See 3:21-31.


v] Interpretation:

Paul's letter to the Romans is forged in the heat of theological battle. In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul makes it very clear that when he returns to Corinth he will deal with the troublemakers in the church. Among those disturbing the church are the judaizers, members of the circumcision party. It is in the context of confronting these law-bound believers that Paul pens his letter to the Romans, a letter very much in the form of a rhetorical treatise. In fact, the substance of the treatise was likely intended for a wider audience than just the believers in Rome. None-the-less, as part of letter writing form we now come to a more personal address. Paul has explained the nature of his gospel, critiqued it, applied it, confronted the thorny issue of "the weak" and "the strong" / the law-bound and the free in community, and now he explains how his unique call to serve as apostle to the Gentiles necessitates his priestly role to make the gospel of God's grace known throughout the Gentile world. So far, Paul has proclaimed the gospel from Jerusalem to Illyricum, always with the aim of preaching where Christ was not known, and this with the intent of not building on another's foundation.


vi] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 15:14

Paul and his ministry, v14-22; i] Address, v14. Given the degree of lecturing in this letter, Paul now balances his advice with an expression of warm confidence in the Christian standing of his readers.

de "-" - but, and. Here as a transitional connective, indicating a step in the argument.

autoV egw "[I] myself [am persuaded]" - [I have been persuaded / have confidence, my brothers, even] I myself. Emphatic construction in the Gk. "Personally", Zerwick; "I am personally quite certain", Moffatt.

pepeismai (peiqw) perf. pas. "I .... am persuaded" - I have been persuaded, convinced. Perfect expressing a continued state of confidence.

peri + gen. "-" - concerning [you]. Reference / respect, "concerning, about, with respect to, with reference to [you]"; "concerning you", NASB.

oJti "that" - Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing of what he is persuaded.

kai "-" - and. Here adjunctive; "that you yourselves are also full of goodness ...."

agaqwsunhV (h) gen. "[full] of goodness" - [yourselves are full] of goodness. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / of content. Probably the quality of "love" that Paul has been referring to, a goodness that is expressed in "moral excellence", Leenhardt.

peplhrwmenoi (plhrow) perf. pas. part. "filled" - having been filled. The participle possibly forms an adjectival clause limiting by describing "full of goodness", a state described as "fully instructed and capable of correcting each other", NJB, even appositional, but also possibly adverbial, either instrumental, "you are full of goodness by [means of] being filled with all knowledge", or causal, "because you have been filled ...". Either way, it seems likely that the "goodness / love" that Paul mentions is driven and shaped by full knowledge. So, Paul recognizes that the Roman church is "filled with all knowledge", possessing knowledge of the Christian faith. Paul does not doubt their general knowledge, rather his letter has addressed a specific knowledge, the knowledge that a person who is set right before God on the basis of Christ's faithfulness, appropriated through faith, stands holy and righteous before God and is therefore fully endowed with the promised blessings of God's grace (the indwelling compelling renewal of the Holy Spirit, a law written on the heart, etc.) and this apart from works of the law. The consequence of such knowledge is indeed "goodness / love".

pashV gen. adj. "with all [knowledge]" - [having been filled] of all [knowledge]. The genitive is adjectival, of content; "filled full of all knowledge" = "filled with all knowledge", ESV.

dunamenoi (dunamai) pres. pas. part. "competent" - being made able [also]. The participle may again be taken as adverbial, probably consecutive, expressing result; "with the result that you are able to instruct one another." You "have the knowledge required to enable you to give enlightened direction and guidance to one another", Junkins.

nouqetein (nouqetew) inf. "to instruct" - to admonish, warn [one another]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the participle "being made able." "Instruct / teach" is probably a bit too limiting, rather in the sense of "correcting what is amiss", Morris; "able to give advice to each other", Barclay.


ii] The purpose of Paul's apostolic ministry, v15-16. Paul balances his sensitivity in writing to a church, a church he didn't found, with his right, as apostle to the Gentiles, to explain to the Roman church his understanding of the gospel ("my gospel" = a contextualized gospel for Gentiles, particularly as it relates to grace through apart from works of the law).

de "-" - but, and. Probably continuative, but possible adversative, as ESV.

uJmin dat. pro. "[I have written] you" - [I wrote] to you. Dative of indirect object.

tolmhroteron adv. "quite boldly" - courageously, boldly. Comparative adjective serving as an adverb, so "somewhat boldly", Cassirer; "more freely", Godet.

apo + gen. "on some points" - from [part, measure] = in part. Expressing source / origin, "from"; "from part" = "partially. What does this phrase qualify? Possibly "boldly" as NIV, even possibly "written [in part]", "on some points", Goodspeed, "in parts of this letter", TH, "in places", TNT, even "you", ie. too bold for part of the church in Rome, cf. Barrett, but better "in part as a reminder", Jewett, Fitzmyer, ie., Paul's letter does touch on parts of what they know, but also moves beyond what they know.

wJV "as if" - as, like. NIV11 opts for a final sense, expressing purpose, "in order to", "I have written .... to remind you", so Schreiner; "so as to remind you, NASB.

epanamimnhskwn (epanamimnhskw) pres. part. "to remind [you] / to remind [you]" - reminding [you]. The participle is adverbial, possibly final, expressing purpose, "in order to remind you", although only "in part" as a reminder; "I have written to you with considerable boldness, to remind you of [some of] what you already know", Barclay, but modal, expressing manner, is more likely, "by way of reminder", Moo; "by way of [partly] refreshing your memory, I have written ....", Moffatt.

dia + acc. "because of" - because of, on account of. Causal. Related to "boldly" rather than "written", so Cranfield, Moo.

thn carin (iV ewV) "the grace" - the kindness, grace. The "grace" which Paul is referring to is God's kindness in appointing him as apostle to the Gentiles; Paul's "whole apostolic ministry", Dunn.

thn doqeisan (didwmi) aor. pas. part. "[God] gave" - having been given. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "grace", the aorist is constative; "the grace which was given to me."

moi dat. pro. "me" - to me. Dative of indirect object.

uJpo + gen. "-" - by [God]. Expressing agency.


Paul admits that he has taken a liberty with the Roman believers, although much of what he has said serves only to remind them of what they already know. None-the-less, it is appropriate for him to do this because he has a special ministry to the Gentiles. God has graciously given him the task of making known the gospel to the Gentiles.

eiV to + inf. "[to be]" - for me [to be]. This preposition + the articular infinitive of the verb to-be usually forms a purpose clause, obviously referencing "the grace given to me", v15, "in order that ...", although Lenski argues for result, with the result that Paul was able to serve Christ as a minister to the Gentiles. The accusative subject of the infinitive is me, "me".

leitourgon (oV) "minister" - a minister, servant. Sometimes taken as "priestly service", Moo, or Levitical service, Cranfield, but it is more likely that Paul is using the word in its general sense of "servant", Paul is a servant of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, his "ambassador", Jewett.

Cristou Ihsou gen. "of Christ Jesus" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive.

eiV + acc. "to [the Gentiles]" - Probably expressing advantage, "for the Gentiles"; "that I might function simply as his agent, to represent him among the Gentiles", Junkins.

iJerourgounta (iJerourgw) pres. part. "with the priestly duty of proclaiming [the gospel of God]" - administering / performing sacred service / function [the gospel of God]. This is a rather tricky clause. This participle forms a participial clause that modifies "a servant of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles". The participle itself being adverbial, probably modal, expressing the manner of Paul's being a servant of Christ, although instrumental is possible, expressing the means of being a servant of Christ, ie. "by means of priestly service to God's gospel". "The gospel" to euaggelion is most likely an accusative of reference/respect, "by being a serving priest with respect to the gospel", and probably, as NIV, rightly expanded to "with respect to the preaching of the gospel". The genitive tou qeou, "of God", is probably a genitive of origin, "the gospel that comes from God", Moo. The clause is probably best set up as a new sentence in apposition to "a servant of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles". "[That is] I was entrusted with the sacred task of presenting the wonderful news (the gospel) to the Gentiles ........", Junkins. So, Paul characterizes his "ambassadorship" for Christ as "a verbalized (ie. his gospel preaching ministry) form of priesthood", Jewett.

iJna + subj. "so that" - that. Expressing result, "with the result that / so that", or purpose, "in order that". Expressing "the purpose behind God's giving His gracious commission to Paul to be Christ's 'servant / priest' with regard to the Gentiles by his service of the gospel", Cranfield.

twn eqnwn (oV) gen. "the Gentiles [might become an offering acceptable to God]" - [the offering] of the Gentiles [may be acceptable]. The genitive is adjectival, of definition, epexegetic; "the offering consisting of the Gentiles may be acceptable", Cranfield. The genitive is probably not verbal, subjective, where the offering is the obedience of the Gentiles. By means of his gospel ministry, Paul is able to offer (prosfora = a votive offering LXX) to God of believing Gentiles, an offering which is acceptable (very acceptable = well-pleasing) to God. The notion of God being pleased with human actions is not commonly expressed, since his "good-pleasure" is limited to repentance, and this because our "righteousness" is but "filthy rags". This word is not found in the LXX and only 3 times in the NT.

hJgiasmenh (aJgiazw) perf. pas. part. "sanctified" - having been made holy, sanctified. The participle is adjectival, of definition, appositional, the perfect tense being intensive; "acceptable, namely, sanctified by the Holy Spirit." The OT makes clear that a sacrifice/offering must be pure/holy to be acceptable to God. Gentile believers, through the gospel, are acceptable because they have been made holy in the Holy Spirit. Here Paul refers to the Spirit's ministry of regeneration, of new birth, which rests on the faithful obedience of Christ on the cross. Paul is also referencing "his gospel", justification by grace, whereby a person is right before God, and thus holy, on the basis of the "faith of Christ", which state cannot be assisted by law-obedience since the law cannot make more holy that which is already holy, rather, it is more likely to undermine that which is holy.

en "by [the Holy Spirit]" - in. Either instrumental / agency, "by", or local, "in". If Paul intended an instrumental sense he could have easily used an instrumental preposition, as he usually does, eg. dia + gen., "through / by means of", so a local sense may be intended, "made holy in union with the Holy Spirit."


iii] Paul explains the nature of his missionary work, v17-22. The NIV, as with most commentators, eg. Cranfield, see this verse as introducing a new paragraph. The "therefore" is certainly consequential of the proceeding passage, but Paul goes on in v18 -19 (gar "for", v18) to explain the reasons for his "boasting / exalting / glorying" in the fulfilling of his mission to the Gentiles from Jerusalem to as far as Illyricum.

oun "therefore" - Inferential; drawing a logical conclusion from what has already been said.

thn kauchsin (iV ewV) "[I] glory" - [I have] the pride, boasting / exaltation. The variant article thn may be viewed as a possessive pronoun, "my boasting", or a demonstrative adjective, "this boasting." Does Paul mean "privilege", Barclay, "exaltation", Morris? If "boast" is intended then "his boast is in what God has done on his behalf, for it is God who commissioned him as the apostle to the Gentiles and it is God who ordained that his offering of the Gentiles would be pleasing in his sight", Schreiner.

en + dat. "in [Christ Jesus]" - Local, expressing space / sphere, the object of the boasting, so Harris, or incorporative union with Christ, "in union with, in relationship with, in connection with ....."

ta "in my service [to God]" - the things [toward God]. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the prepositional phrase "toward God" into a substantive, "the things toward God." The accusative is adverbial, of respect, "with respect to the things toward God" = Paul's ministry. The preposition proV expresses purpose / end view, "for God"; "The things pertaining to God" (BDF 160) = "I have reason to boast concerning work done in the service of God", Cassirer.


God must receive the glory for all that is achieved in Paul's ministry because not only is Paul's service subsidiary to Christ's priestly work, its spiritual achievements are "through the power of the Spirit", v18-19a.

gar "-" - for. More explanatory than causal, probably in the sense of introducing a qualification, epressing how Paul's boasting is in Christ Jesus.

ou tolmhsw "I will not venture" - I will not dare, venture. "Venture" is too soft, there are certain things Paul would not dare claim. "I would not dare claim credit for any of the things which Messiah has brought to pass among the Gentiles through anything I may have said or done", Junkins.

lalein (lalew) pres. inf. "to speak" - The infinitive may be treated as complementary, completing the sense of "will not dare", or taking tolmhsw as a cognitive verb, as introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul "will not dare." "Speak" what? Note above how Junkins takes it to mean "claim credit" and although probably not correct, he has grasped the sense of what Paul is saying and conveys it well to the modern mind. None-the-less, Paul is probably referring to his "glorying / boasting", but he is qualifying his "boast" by giving due deference to Christ. Paul's glorying is based on nothing of himself, "except what Christ has performed through me toward the obedience of the Gentiles", Jewett.

ti neu. acc. pro. "of anything" - anything, certain one, one. After a negative, "any, anything." Accusative of reference, "with respect to / with reference to anything", ie. anything that Paul has performed in his ministry and which he might rightly be proud of.

w|n ou negation + pl. gen. neut. pro. "except what" - of the things which not. All a bit ugly but the negation serves here as a qualifier, "except of the things which", ie. Paul's pride / glorying / boasting ... is in what Christ has done through him, not anything that he may have done of his own initiative. "On the other hand, the only cases I shall venture to speak of are those in which it was I, myself, who was Christ's instrument ......", Cassirer.

ou kateirgasato (katergazomai) aor. "[Christ] has accomplished" - [Christ] worked out, produced. Constative aorist; "The things which Christ has done through me", NJB.

dia + gen. "through [me]" - Instrumental.

eiV "in leading [the Gentiles] to [obey God]" - to, toward = for. The preposition here probably expresses either purpose / end view, "to / toward that end", or result, so Schreiner; "I will not dare boast of anything except that which Christ has done through me with a view to the obedience of the Gentiles."

eqnwn (oV) gen. "the Gentiles" - [obedience] of Gentiles. The genitive could be verbal, subjective, but is more likely adjectival, possessive; see below."

upakohn "obey" - the obedience [of the Gentiles]. The "obedience" now possessed by the Gentiles is most likely a shortened version of Paul's phrase "the obedience of faith" in 1:5. The phrase has prompted numerous translations: "the obedience that consists of faith", the obedience that flows from faith" (ie. right living), or "the obedience that is reckoned on the basis of faith". The third meaning is probably what Paul draws on here, the "faith" kind of obedience, an obedience that is reckoned, not earned. On the basis of the faith / faithfulness of Christ, appropriated through faith, a person is accounted right with God, set right with God, covenant compliant, right, holy, reckoned obedient in the sight of God. So, the "obedience of the Gentiles" is that particular obedience before God, now possessed by believing Gentiles, which is reckoned on the basis of faith.

logw/ kai ergw/ "by what I have said and done" - in word and work. The dative is surely instrumental, "by means of"; "by means of preaching the gospel."


Paul's trail-blazing gospel strategy, Jerusalem to Rome and then to the ends of the earth ("Spain"???), is well advanced, but as a pioneer preacher, Paul doesn't feel that it is appropriate to build on the work of others. Rome has already been evangelized, but this doesn't mean he can't explain his particular understanding of the gospel, a gospel contextualized for Gentile believers, v19-20.

en + dat. "by" - in. Here obviously instrumental, expressing means; "by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, and all by the power of the Holy Spirit", Berkeley.

dunamei (iV ewV) "the power" - power Note variant, "his power", although in any case, Paul would understand the power's source as divine.

shmeiwn (on) gen. "of signs" - of signs, miracles [and wonders]. The genitive, as with teratwn, "wonders", is adjectival, taken possibly as epexegetic, "power consisting of signs", or attributed, "powerful signs and wonders", or idiomatic / product, producer. Used of miracles that are significant, revelatory, so "signs", "miraculous demonstrations of the power of God in action", Barclay. "The Spirit's power is not confined to the miracles and Paul may well be referring to the spiritual efficacy of his whole evangelistic activity", Morris.

en + dat. "through [the power of the Spirit]" - by [power of Spirit of God]. Again probably instrumental, expressing means, as NIV, but local is also possible, "done in the power of the Holy Spirit", Knox. Variant "power of God" may give the meaning "done in the name and power of God", Junkins. The genitive pneumatoV, "Spirit", could be possessive, or ablative, source / origin. The variant genitive qeou, "of God", is adjectival, possessive.

wJste + inf. "so" - so as for [me]. Introducing a consecutive clause, expressing result; "with the result that ....... I have fully ....." The accusative subject of the infinitive "to have fully proclaimed" is me, "me".

apo + gen. "from [Jerusalem]" - Expressing source / origin. Paul's Gentile preaching ministry doesn't really begin at Jerusalem, but certainly it is the center from which the gospel spreads to the ends of the earth.

kaklw/ mecri + gen. "all the way around to" - [and] around unto Illyricum]. Moule says of mecri that in the NT it is used as a preposition meaning "up to / as far as", while the adverbial meaning of kaklw is "in a circle / round about". So, we have Paul's gospel ministry moving from Jerusalem up to the edge of an ark touching Illyricum (Albania, certainly the limits of Paul's missionary work). Jewett explains the use of strip maps used of journeys from one point to another, covering the whole of the Mediterranean lands, with Rome, of course, as the center (all roads lead to Rome). The strip map of Palestine actually lists most of the places that Paul visited on his missionary journeys. For Paul, "Illyricum was the closest point he had reached on the route to Rome", Jewett.

peplhrwkenai (plhrow) perf. inf. "I have fully [proclaimed the gospel" - to have fulfilled, completed, finished [the important news / gospel]. The extensive perfect infinitive with w{ste earlier in the verse expresses result; "so that ....... I have completed the gospel", filled it out, ie., "I have completed preaching the gospel." It is unlikely that Paul is saying he has fully preached the gospel from Jerusalem to Illyricum, but rather that he has completed his gospel strategy of moving the gospel from the point of core belief, Jerusalem, to the ends of the earth. For Paul, Spain may be the end of the earth, with Rome as the center of the earth. Paul's mission strategy seems to be Jerusalem to Rome and to the ends of the earth, cf. Acts. "Certainly as far as Illyricum I have been able to complete my evangelistic strategy for the evangelization of the Gentiles."

tou Cristou "of Christ" - This genitive may be taken in numerous ways: adjectival, possessive; ablative, source / origin, "from Christ"; adverbial, reference / respect, or verbal, objective, "concerning / about Christ".


Paul qualifies his claim that he has completed his mission strategy of evangelizing the Gentiles as far as Illyricum. Paul was not into the business of building on the evangelistic work of others, but of "establishing strategic churches in virgin gospel territory", Moo.

ouJtwV de "-" and/but thus so. This probably introduces a qualification, the de being adversative, "but", while the demonstrative adverb ou{twV, "in this way", points forward to the qualification Paul now makes. Paul has fulfilled his gospel mission as far as Illyricum, although making a point not to evangelize where Christ is known. "But in this manner", Morris.

filotimoumenon (filotimeomai) pres. part. "it has always been my ambition" - aspiring, making a point of. The participle is adverbial, probably concessive, "although I ...." (Moo suggests means, "I am fulfilling the gospel by striving to preach"), see above. The word is only used by Paul in the NT and the meaning is unclear, possibly "to aspire / be ambitious / zealous", Cranfield, or even better, "make a point of", "be particular about", Zerwick.

euaggelizesqai (euaggelizw) pres. inf. "to preach the gospel" - to proclaim, communicate important news. The infinitive may be taken as complementary, completing the sense of the participle "making a point", or, since it follows a cognitive verb, it may be taken as introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing the nature of Paul's ambition.

ouc .... wnomasqh (onomazw) aor. pas. "[Christ] was not known" - not [where Christ] was named. Cranfield suggests this verb takes the sense "be named in worship." Most commentators regard that the emphatic negation gives weight to the passive, cf. Barrett. "Not acknowledged and confessed [as Lord]", Cranfield.

iJna + subj. "so that" - that. Forming a purpose/result clause, which when negated = "lest I build on another's foundation", Dunn.

mh oikodomw (oikodomew) pres. subj. "I would not be building" - I might not build. "I do not want to build on a foundation that someone else has laid", Barclay.

ep (epi) acc. "on" - on [another's foundation]. Spacial; "upon, on."


Paul uses Isaiah 52:15 to support his qualification in v20.

alla "but" - Adversative, ie. "I do not build on someone else's foundation rather, as it has been written ...."

kaqwV "as [is is written]" -as [it has been written]. Comparative. A common phrase used to introduce a quote from scripture.

oi|V dat. pro. "those who" - the ones who. The pronoun serves as a substantive; "they will see, to those whom it has been reported concerning him."

ouk anhggelh (anaggellw) aor. pas. "were not told" - it was not announced, proclaimed. Consummative aorist. As of divine revelation communicated to someone, so obviously of the gospel.

peri + gen. "about" - concerning, about [him will see]. Reference / respect; "about, concerning him"

sunhsousin (sunihmi) fut. "will understand" - [and the ones who have not heard] will understand. Predictive future; will understand about God's grace in Christ. "They who have not heard will understand", Phillips.


Possibly the commencement of the next paragraph, so Moo, Dunn, Jewett, ...

dio "this is why" - therefore. Inferential; drawing a logical conclusion.

kai "-" - and. Probably adjunctive; "also".

enekoptomhn (egkoptw) imperf. pas. "I have [often] been hindered" - I was being hindered, impeded. Usually taken as a divine passive, God does the hindering, although Satan is often the agent of hinderance. The imperfect is durative, expressing an ongoing hindering, possibly iterative, "repeatedly hindered", Wuest, and strengthened by ta polla "the much / many" = "the majority of occasions / more often that not", Moule.

ta polla adj. "often" - the many things = greatly. This accusative articular adjective is usually treated as an adverb, modifying the verb "I was being hindered." Usually treated as an accusative of time, "often, many times"; "frequently prevented from visiting you", Berkeley, "repeatedly", Barclay. Possibly reference / respect, so Lenski, "as to the many things" = the many responsibilities of Paul's foundational work, also possibly causal, "because of the responsibilities of my foundational work." Paul was hindered from visiting Rome because he was involved in his foundational missionary work.

tou elqein (ercomai) aor. inf. "from coming to you" - to come [to you] = of coming [to you]. The genitive articular infinitive could be classified as ablative, "hindered from coming", EVV, but more properly as epexegetic, explaining in what sense Paul was hindered; "prevented, time and again, from coming to see you", Cassirer, as NIV.


Romans Introduction



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