Romans

15:23-33

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

ii] Paul's plan to visit Rome

Argument

Paul continues to deal with personal matters in this passage. He writes about his desire to visit Rome on his way to Spain, but first he must deliver the gifts of the Gentiles to the needy believers in Jerusalem. To this end he asks for the prayers of his readers that, if it is God's will, his plans might be brought to completion.

 
Issues

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

 

ii] Background: See 1:8-15.

 

iii] Structure: This passage, dealing with Paul's intended visit to Rome, presents as follows:

Paul's travel plans, v23-29:

His intended visit to Rome while on his way to Spain, v23-24;

The visit will take place after his visit to Jerusalem, v25-27;

He will then undertake his trip to Spain, v28-29.

A summons to prayer, v30-33:

For protection from the religious fanatics in Jerusalem, v30-32;

Blessing, v33.

 

iv] Thesis: See 3:21-31.

 

v] Interpretation:

Paul explains that the reason why he has failed to visit Rome so far is because he has been working hard to plant new churches from Jerusalem to Illyricum. He is now free to visit Rome and gain their support for his intended mission in Spain. In the meantime he intends to visit Jerusalem with the collection for the poor saints there. The collection toward the practical needs of believers in Jerusalem fulfills the responsibility of Gentile believers; a reciprocation for the spiritual blessings which Israel has shared with the Gentiles in Christ. After Paul has passed on the collection to the Jerusalem church he will then be free to travel to Rome. Paul knows that when he comes to Rome it will be with the abundant blessings of the gospel.

In v30-33 Paul seeks the prayerful support of his readers for both the warm acceptance of the collection and protection from the religious fanatics in Jerusalem. For Paul, the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem is an evidential support for the dawning of the new age of the kingdom of God, for when Gentiles bear gifts to Israel, then may Israel know that the long-promised kingdom is at hand. It is Paul's prayer that the collection be warmly received and that he is then free to visit Rome.

 

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

 
Text - 15:23

Paul's plan to visit Rome, v23-33: i] Paul reaffirms his intention to visit with the Roman believers and looks for their support in his planned visit to Spain, v23-24.

de "but" - Possibly adversative and certainly taken this way by those who see the paragraph beginning at v22, so Moo, Dunn.., but more likely transitional and therefore left untranslated. "As things are now, I have no longer any scope for work in these parts", Barclay.

nuni "now" - now [no longer]. Temporal adverb reinforced by the adverb "no longer."

ecwn (ecw) pres. part. "that there is [no more]" - having. This participle, along with its second use, "having a desire to come to you", is probably related to the verbal phrase elpizw ... qeassasqai, "I am hoping to see [you]", v24, so attendant circumstance, or possibly temporal, but more likely causal, "because", expressing why Paul can now visit Rome; "But now, as I have no further scope for work in these parts, and ..... as I have had a longing to visit you .... I am hoping to see you ...", Moffatt.

topon "place" - a place. Often meaning "place / position", but it can also mean "opportunity", as here.

en + dat. "in" - Local, expressing space / sphere.

klimasi (a atoV) "[these] regions" - [these] regions, territory, land. Always taking the plural and usually referring to a geographical region. A striking statement, but best understood as a claim to have completed "the strategic vision and policy sketched out in v19-20", Dunn.

ecwn (ecw) pres. part. "since I have been longing" - [but] having a desire, longing. The participle is causal, as above, expressing why Paul intends to visit Rome, namely, because he is longing to see them.

apo + gen. "for [many years]" - The preposition apo, "from", in Koine Gk. sometimes encroaches on the use of ek, here with the temporal sense of "from this point onward [many years]" = "for many years." Zerwick classifies it as used instead of the accusative of duration/extent, cf., Moo.

tou elqein (ercomai) aor. inf. "to see [you]" - to come [to you]. The articular infinitive is best viewed as forming an object clause / dependent statement of perception, expressing the content of Paul's hope; "having a desire .... that I might come to you."

 
v24

Paul's intention is to visit Rome and seek their support for his mission to Spain.

"I plan to do so" - There is difficulty with translation due to the awkward qualification "as I travel to Spain." The NIV, as with some other translations, assume an ellipsis (missing words) at the beginning of v24, so for example "having, for many years, had a longing to see you, (v24b) you shall have a visit from me as soon as I can set out on my journey to Spain." Cassirer. Godet solves the problem by omitting gar after elpizw, following the limited support of F G, It. Syr., so "having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you (v23), when I take my journey into Spain, I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I have somewhat satisfied the need I have of seeing you (v24)."

wJV an + subj. "when [I go to Spain]" - whenever [I take a journey]. Used instead of oJtan + subj. which construction forms an indefinite temporal clause referring to the future, BDF455(2), although not implying an indefinite visit itself.

Spanian "Spain" - "The whole of the peninsula south of the Pyrenees", Morris.

gar "-" - for. Here either emphatic, "and indeed I hope to see you", or simply used to establish a logical connection / connective, "and I hope also to see you."

qeasasqai (qeaomai) aor. inf. "[I hope] to visit [you]" - [I am hoping] to see [you]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of "I hope". "See" as in the sense of "visit", ie. "go and see".

diaporeuomenoV (diaporeuomai) pres. part. "while passing through" - passing through. The participle is obviously adverbial, temporal, as NIV.

propemfqhnai (propempw) aor. pas. inf. "to have [you] assist me on my journey" - [and by you] to be sent onward, sent on my way [from there]. The constative aorist infinitive is probably verbal, expressing purpose, "to have you visit me in order that you may assist me on my journey", or result, "so that I shall be helped forward on my journey there", Cassirer. The sense is probably that "you might be able to underwrite some of the costs of that journey", Junkins. This sense is carried by the active sense of uJf "sent forward by you", expressing agency (as opposed to the variant apo "from"). "Helped by you to go to Spain", TEV.

ean + subj. "after" - if [you first]. Introducing a 3rd. class conditional clause where the condition has the possibility of coming true; "if, as may be the case, first in part I may be fulfilled, then by you to be sent forward from there to Spain." With a temporal prwton "first", "if I might first enjoy your company", although "first" could be "especially", BAGD, and limited by apo merouV "for a while / for a time", lit. "in part" (taken temporally BAGD). "I hope to see you on my way and by you to be assisted on my journey, after the pleasure of my intercourse with you", Pilcher.

emplhsqw (empiplhmi) aor. pas. subj. "I have enjoyed" - I may be filled" - "Filled" in the sense of "satisfied", with the prefix intensifying, so Moule. Paul is looking forward to fellowshipping with the Roman believers.

apo + gen. "for [a while]" - from [part]. Again the preposition apo is being used instead of ek, again temporal, forming the idiomatic phrase "for a while."

 
v25

ii] First, Paul must visit Jerusalem and present the offering for the poor, v25-27. This action is theologically significant for Paul. When Gentiles come bearing gifts to God's historic people then may all Israel know that God's righteous reign has dawned.

nuni adv. "now" - Temporal adverb; "At present."

de "however" - but, and. Here adversative, as NIV.

diakonwn (diakonew) pres. part. "in service of" - [I am going to Jerusalem] ministering, serving, caring for, supporting. The participle is adverbial, possibly expressing purpose, so Fitzmyer, "in order to minister to", although modal may be better, "ministering" = "putting myself at the service of", Godet. "Ministering to the saints" = "a technical expression in St.Paul for the contributions made by the Gentile Christians to the Church at Jerusalem", Sandy and Headlam.

toiV aJgioiV adj. "the saints" - The adjective serves as a substantive. The term is used by Paul to refer to Jewish believers.

 
v26

These gifts to the poor believers in Jerusalem were freely given; it was not a levy imposed by the Jerusalem church.

gar "for" - for [Macedonia and Achaia]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul is on his way to Jerusalem to visit the church there; "because ...."

eudokhsan (eudokew) aor. "were pleased" - Constative aorist. "Pleased" in the sense of "resolved / determined"; "they freely decided", Moo. "Have thought it good to make a contribution towards the poor Christians in Jerusalem", Phillips.

poihsasqai (poiew) aor. inf. "to make [a contribution]" - to do, make [certain participation = some contribution]. The infinitive forms an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what they were "pleased" to do; "they resolved that they would make a contribution."

eiV touV ptwcouV "for the poor" - to/toward the poor. The preposition eiV expresses advantage, "for". Obviously not all the Jewish believers are poor, nor is it likely that "the poor" is a theological designation of "the saints, so Dunn. The intention of the words is probably "for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem", Jewett.

twn aJgiwn adj. "among the saints / the Lord's people" - of the holy. The adjective serves as a substantive, the genitive being adjectival, partitive, as NIV.

twn gen. "-" - the [in Jerusalem]. The article serves as an adjectivizer turning the prepositional phrase en Ierousalhm, "in Jerusalem", into an attributive phrase limiting the substantive "the holy = the saints = the believers"; "the believers who are in Jerusalem." To be over technical it could also be classified as a nominalizer turning the prepositional phrase into a substantive standing in apposition to twn aJgiwn; "the believers, those who are in Jerusalem."

 
v27

Paul now explains why his Gentile churches are asked to support the poor among the believers ("saints") in Jerusalem. The world is blessed through the seed of Abraham, and it is right for the Gentiles to make a thank-offering in response.

gar "-" - More explanatory than causal, even emphatic; "My mission-congregations were more than pleased to have the opportunity to give to the needy in Jerusalem."

eudokhsan (eudokew) aor. "they were pleased to do it" - they were pleased.

kai "and indeed" - and. Ascensive; "the force of 'and' in this context is emphatic", TH.

ofeiletai (hV ou) "owe it" - [they are] debtors / [they] owe it. Predicate nominative. As of a debt owed, an obligation or duty. Paul never lets go his view that God's historic people (the antecedent of "them" is "the saints") are the source of divine blessing for the Gentiles and that the Gentiles are bound to respond with gratitude (although without "compulsion", Moo). By this response Israel may know that the messianic age is upon them.

autwn gen. pro. "of them / to them" - The genitive may be classified as adjectival, possessive, or verbal, objective.

gar "for" - Here introducing a causal clause explaining why the Gentiles are in debt to the church in Jerusalem.

ei + ind. "if" - Introducing a 1st class conditional clause where the condition is assumed to be true, "if, as is the case, ...... then".

ekoinwnhsan (koinwnew) aor. + dat. "[the Gentiles] have shared in" - fellowshipped, shared in, participated in. The verb can mean either "receive a share of something", as here, or "give a share of something", as in 12:13, cf. BAGD. Israel has "contributed" (cf. v26) to the Gentiles and now, given Israel's needs, the Gentiles should reciprocate. "Have a share", Zerwick.

toiV pneumatikoiV dat. adj. "the Jews' spiritual blessings" - the spiritual things [of them]. The adjective serves as a substantive, dative of direct object after the verb koinwnew. It is more than likely that the gospel is the spiritual blessing that Paul is alluding to.

kai "-" - and. Here adjunctive; "then also ...."

ofeilousin (ofeilw) pres. "they owe it" - they are obligated.

leitourghsai (leitourgew) aor. inf. + dat. "to share" - to give service to, minister to. The gnomic aorist infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "they are obligated / indebted to". The word refers to service to others, the state, or God. In the NT it normally concerns service to God. "They in turn are under obligation to be of service to them in respect of their temporal needs", Cassirer.

autoiV dat. pro. "with them" - them. Dative of direct object after the verb leitourgew, "to minister to."

en + dat. "[their material blessings]" - in material things, fleshly things, carnal things. Local, expressing space / sphere. In the NT toiV sarkikoiV, "fleshly things", are often referred to negatively, but here obviously with a neutral connotation; "material needs", REB.

 
v28

iii] Returning again to the issue at hand, Paul assures his readers that after he has visited Jerusalem with the offering for "the saints" he will set out for Spain and visit the Roman believers on the way and share with them the blessing of the gospel, v28-29.

oun "so" - therefore. Inferential; expressing a logical conclusion.

epitelesaV (epitelew) aor. part. "after I have completed [this task]" - having completed, finished, performed [this]. As with sfragisamenoV, "having sealed", this consummative aorist participle is adverbial, temporal, as NIV. Expressing the action of bringing something to its intended end, here the offering of the Gentiles to the poor "saints"; "when I have completed this service", Moo.

sfragisamenoV (sfragizw) aor. mid. part. "have made sure" - [and] having sealed. The participle as above. Expressing the action of authenticating, sealing something to show ownership, or the reliability of its contents. Paul may be making the point as expressed by the NIV, so Dunn, or he may be making the point that "the money was there in full amount", or that he is "guaranteeing that all has been done well", Morris.

autoiV dat. pro. "that they have received [this contribution]" - to them [this fruit]. Dative of indirect object, rather than interest, given that sfragiamenoV is middle; "having sealed (in my own interest) this fruit to them."

dia + gen. "and visit [you] on the way" - [I will go] through [you to Spain]. Here with the spacial sense of "extension through", ie. "via", Moule, rather than instrumental / agency, "by means of." "Through you" = "through your city", Robertson. "I shall proceed on my journey to Spain by way of you", Cassirer.

 
v29

When Paul does come to Rome, it will be with the abundant blessing of the gospel.

de "-" - but, and [I know]. Here continuative, so left untranslated.

oJti "that" - Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul knows.

ercomenoV (ercomai) pres. part. "when I came" - coming [to you]. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal, as NIV; "I know, that when I come to you", ESV.

en + dat. "[I will come] in" - [I will come] in. Here adverbial, attendant circumstance, "of concomitant circumstances", Zerwick 117; "in connection with".

eulogiaV (a) gen. "[the full measure] of the blessing" - [the fullness] of blessing. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / content, or attributed, "the full blessing of Christ", "the fullness of Christ's blessing", or attributive, limiting "full measure", the "blessing of Christ" type of "full measure" ("blessing in Christ", Schreiner, is true but the genitive "of Christ" is surely possessive). So, Paul comes to the Romans with the totality of God's blessings in Christ, or a big package which may properly be described as the "blessing of Christ". Either way, this blessing, which has its origin in Christ and belongs to Christ, comes with Paul. Paul probably has in mind the blessing of his gospel which he will minister to the Roman believers, namely, God's free grace in Christ - "the expansive triumph of the gospel that Paul's letter and travel aim to advance", Jewett. Note that Moo raises the possibility that the blessing will be a two way thing, so Barrett ..., although mutual blessing seems an unlikely meaning here. Dumbrell, as usual, has a left-of-field take on Paul's meaning: "the Jerusalem acceptance of the Gentile's contribution will be for Paul, by this endorsement of his ministry, the fullness of blessing upon his gospel of Christ".

Cristou (oV) gen. "of Christ" - The genitive may be viewed as genitive, possessive, ablative, source origin, "full blessings from Christ", or verbal, subjective, "full blessings bestowed by Christ."

 
v30

iv] "Paul summons the Romans to pray for the collection that is about to be delivered to Jerusalem and for his protection there", such that "his visit to Rome will be one of joy and rest", Schreiner, v30-33.

parakalw (parakalew) pres. "I urge [you]" - [and] I exhort, urge [you brothers]. "I implore", REB.

dia + gen. "by [our Lord Jesus Christ] and by" - through, by means of [the Lord of us, Jesus Christ]. Expressing agency, especially after "urgent questions", BDF 223(4), or cause / basis.

tou pneumatoV (a atoV) gen. "[the love] of the Spirit" - [and through the love] of the Spirit. The genitive may be verbal, objective (the Spirit being the object of the love), expressing the love believers have for the Spirit. Barrett argues that "the genitive cannot be objective." It may be subjective, the love the Spirit has for believers, so Murray, Piper. It may be classified as ablative, source / origin, "the love inspired by the Spirit", Schreiner, "the love the Spirit enkindles in believers", Morris, "the love prompted by the Spirit", Dunn, "love that the Spirit inspires", Moo, Harvey.

sunagwnisasqai (sun agwnizomai) aor. inf. "to join [me] in [my] struggle" - to strive together with, help, join = combat in company with others. The infinitive forms an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech, entreating, "I urge .... that you join with me in my struggle" The word means "to fight alongside with", ie. it has military overtones. "Lend succor to me in the fight", Cassirer.

moi dat. pro. "me ... my" - me. Dative of direct object after the sun prefix verb "strive together with."

en + dat. "by [prayering]" - in [the (your) prayers]. Possibly local, expressing space / sphere, "in your prayers to God", or instrumental, expressing means, "by means of prayer to God", or even adverbial, temporal, "during the prayers you offer to God on my behalf", Cassirer.

proV "to [God]" - toward, to [God]. Note the trinitarian links in this verse.

uJper "[praying to God] for [me]" - on behalf of [me]. Expressing representation, or better advantage / benefit; "by your prayers to God on my behalf", Pilcher.

 
v31

Paul asks to be "rescued from the unbelievers". Romans 10:16 and 11:31 indicates that the word is best translated "disobedient", and so he is probably thinking of the pharisaic members of the Jerusalem church (the judaizers), rather than unbelieving Jews. The second part of his request puts the positive side. May his ministry be "acceptable to the saints". The struggle over the place of the law in the life of a believer was a contentious issue and so Paul's Lutheran stance disturbed the law-bound believers. They may well see this offering from the Gentiles as tainted and so react to Paul's gesture. Ultimately, Paul is praying for brotherly love, a prayer request that is clearly in the will of God.

"Pray" - The Greek sentence continues, but the NIV has opted for a new sentence and so picks up on v30, "I urge you .... to join me in my struggle by praying."

iJna + subj. "that" - Usually treated as introducing a two-part purpose clause, but it could also be introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech, entreating, ie. entreating the Roman believers to pray for his deliverance from the disobedient and the acceptance of his ministry (the collection) to the poor in Jerusalem.

rJusqw (rJuomai) aor. pas. subj. "I may be rescued" - I may be delivered. Usually viewed as a divine / theological passive. Better "delivered from"; "that I may be kept safe from", Cassirer.

apo + gen. "from" - Expressing separation; "away from."

twn apeiqountwn (apeiqew) pres. part. "the unbelievers" - the ones disobeying. The participle serves as a substantive. The word normally refers to the disobedient, but it is likely to be more specific here, so "unbelievers" who may rightly be described as "Jewish religious fanatics / zealots", cf. BAGD. Yet, it is possible that Paul is referring to the "disobedient" in the Jerusalem church itself, the "judaizers", "members of the circumcision party", the "weak". Dumbrell actually comments "there are unbelievers in Jerusalem Christian circles it seems", although "disobedient believers" seems more likely.

en + dat. "in [Judea]" - Local, expressing space; "living in Judea."

hJ diakonia (a) "[my] service / the contribution [I] take" - [and] the ministry, service [of me].

hJ "-" - the. The article serves as an adjectivizer, turning the prepositional phrase "to Jerusalem" into an attributive clause; "which is for Jerusalem."

eiV "in [Jerusalem] / to [Jerusalem]" - to [Jerusalem]. Expressing advantage; "for the Church in Jerusalem."

genhtai (ginomai) aor. subj. "may be" - might become. "May prove to be."

euprosdektoV adj. "acceptable" - Numerous suggestions have been put forward to explain why Paul is worried about his offering being acceptable to the believers ("the saints") in Jerusalem. Jewett suggests that the church in Palestine was under pressure from Jewish zealots such that "the more sharply the Jews reacted to Paul's arrival the less welcome to the Jewish Christians could the contributions be which Paul had brought them", cf. Schmithals. So, Paul is worried about the political minefield he is about to enter. Note Acts silence on the offering and instead, its strange reference to Paul's Nazarite vow - is this an example of "religious money-laundering", or better, an example of first century religious spin? Yet, as noted above, the problem Paul faces is not just external to the church, although it soon becomes external to the church.

toiV aJgioiV dat. adj. "by the Lord's people there" - to the holy, saints. The adjective serves as a substantive, dative of direct object after the eu proV prefix adjective "acceptable".

 
v32

iJna + subj. "so that [I may ....... be refreshed]" - that [in joy having come to you through will of God I may rest with you]. The hina clause here may be the third element in Paul's prayer, but Moo and Dunn suggest that it "expresses the ultimate goal of those requests." So, more result than purpose; "Then, by God's will, I shall gladly come to you and have a rest beside you", Moffatt.

dia + gen. "by [God's will]" - through, by means of. Instrumental / agency. Expressing the key ingredient to effective prayer, namely, the will of God. A slight reworking by NIV11: "so that I may come to you with joy, by God's will."

elqwn (ercomai) aor. part. "I may come [to you]" - having come. Usually treated as an attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the main verb "I may rest with", but it could be treated as adverbial, temporal, "when I come to you.".

en + dat. "with [joy]" - The preposition here is adverbial, expressing manner; "with a happy heart", Phillips.

sunanapauswmai (sunanapauomai) aor. subj. "together with [you] be refreshed / in [your] company be refreshed" - I may have a time of rest together with [you]. "Find full refreshment there in Christian fellowship", Cranfield.

uJmin dat. pro. "you" - [I may rest with] you. Dative of direct object after the sun prefix verb "rest with."

 
v33

de "-" - but, and. Connective; introducing a concluding thought in the form of a benediction.

thV eirhnhV "[the God] of peace" - Heb. shalom = "the sum of all true blessings, including salvation", Cranfield. The genitive may be viewed as adjectival, idiomatic / product, producer, or verbal, subjective; "the God who gives peace", Moo, Jewett. Possibly also ablative, expressing source / origin, "the source and giver of peace", Schreiner, even adjectival, possessive, the God whose being is peace, who possess peace, cf. v5, "the God of patience and comfort", the God's whose being is patience and comfort, and thus is it's source. "True peace is associated with God so fully that Paul can characterize God by it", Morris.

meta + gen. "be with" - Expressing association.

amhn "Amen" - A conventional ending for a prayer and not to be viewed as a possible ending of the letter itself.

 

Romans Introduction

Exposition

 

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