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The Epistles of Paul - Romans Part 20, 09-05-2014
In Romans chapter 14 we saw Paul discuss some of the various things that early Christians already disagreed upon in his time. But these particular disagreements were not limited to Roman Christians, and as we noted from 1 Corinthians chapters 8 and 10 they were also among Dorian Christians, and they were apart from the disputes over various aspects of the law which were often being thrust forth by the Judaizers, such as those which concerned circumcision which we see Paul write about in Galatians. From Paul's words in Romans chapter 14, as well as in others of his epistles such as Colossians and 1 Corinthians, it can be determined that early Christians were at odds concerning the keeping of Sabbaths and feasts and whether it was acceptable to eat food which had been sacrificed to idols. Resolving this dispute, in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 Paul expressed the opinion that one may indeed eat any food sold in the markets, so long as one did not worry about the source of the food. However if it was made known that the food had been sacrificed to an idol then it was better for one to abstain, for the benefit of one's Christian brethren. Paul's answer in Romans was not dissimilar but it was not as elaborate.
It must be kept in mind that these disagreements are not in respect to the moral laws of Yahweh. Rather, these disputes were only in respect to certain things in the law which were related to the regulation of community life handed down by Yahweh to the children of Israel. What was barred or permitted on the Sabbath, the Feasts and what deemed foods to be profane or sanctified were things related to the ritual laws and the Levitical priesthood done away with in Christ (Hebrews 7). The moral laws expressed in the commandments of Yahweh are not negotiable, and Paul upheld them wherever he felt it necessary to discuss them.
Paul considered those to be worried about idolatry and the foods they would not eat to be weak in the faith. Likewise, Paul considered those who worried about which days they should set aside for God to be weak in the faith. He contrasted these people with those who did not worry about food, and who would live every day for God. But with this Paul explained that the weak should not condemn the confident, and neither should the confident despise the weak, but that every man should seek to please God according to his own conscience. However Paul also explained that those who were confident in the faith should nevertheless regulate their own behavior for the benefit of the weak, and not to offend their brethren on account of food, because it is better not to eat than to offend one's brother.
The underlying thread in Paul's advice is that in order to avoid belaboring disputes such as those over food and feast days, Christians should voluntarily act in accordance with the law so that they do not offend their brethren. Once it is understood that Christians should act in compliance with the law, it may be perceived that the law is the proper and authoritative mediator of Christian disagreement, and that when all Christians agree with the Word of God then the disagreements which they may have with one another are neutralized. Paul explained that those who were confident in Christ could eat whatever food they wished, or celebrate whatever day they desired. This is true, because Israel was freed from those laws in Christ, and are under the law of liberty found in the grace of Christ. But if one's brother differs and seeks to act in accordance with the law, then lest one offend his brother the Christian should be willing to comply with the law concerning these things.
This raises other questions, such as where Christians draw the line concerning things such as circumcision. Of course, Paul addressed these things elsewhere. I would offer my own opinion, based on the Gospel and the epistles of Paul. Whatever a Levitical priest performed for the children of Israel is abolished in Christ, because Christ is the new High Priest of Israel under the old Melchizedek priesthood, which did not employ such things. Paul explained much of this in Hebrews chapter 7.
Paul's resolution of these disputes among the Romans continues in Romans chapter 15.
1 Moreover we are obligated, we who are able, to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us [048 has “you”] must make amends with him near to us for that which is good towards building.
The Greek phrase πρὸς οἰκοδομήν is literally “towards building”, and often in the King James Version it is translated “to edification”, which may be elaborated as “for the purpose of constructive improvement”, which is not quite literal but is certainly proper.
The confident Christian understands that there is no condemnation for those in Christ knowing that they must coexist with the world (Romans 8:1). However speaking of Christian brethren who did not have such an understanding, Paul said “You must not with your food ruin that person for whose benefit Christ had died.” Paul then said, in the verse concluding that chapter, “23 But he that makes a distinction, if then he eats, has been condemned, because it is not from faith; and all which is not from of faith is an error.” If you differ with your brother over food and cause him to eat, you are causing him to eat with condemnation because his eating is in hypocrisy. However if you differ with your brother and you concede not to eat, you are doing better because you are not putting such a trap in your brother's path. If he chooses to abide in the law, we should choose to abide in it with him, not trying to cause him to break it.
With this it is evident, that even though Israel has been released from the law, it is better to choose to keep the law for the benefit of the brethren. This is exemplary of how Christians should bear the infirmities of the weak: by conceding to the law of God, supporting their brethren, and making amends with them for the purpose of building up the body of Christ, rather than by tearing it down by sowing it with divisions. Christians are not judged by the law, but they concede that the law is good (1 Timothy 1:8).
3 Indeed even Christ has pleased not himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those casting reproaches upon you have fallen upon Me.”
The reproaches of those who hated Yahweh fell upon the Christ. Here Paul quotes from Psalm 69:9, where David, who was also a man anointed by God said this same thing concerning himself, even though the Psalm is also a Messianic prophecy relating to Christ. From Psalm 69: “6 Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel. 7 Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. 8 I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children. 9 For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.”
Like both David and Christ, Christians should seek to please God and not men. However when choosing to please God, those who hate God hate Christians as well.
4 Now whatever things have been written before, have been written for our instruction, so that through patient endurance and the calling of the writings we may have expectation [B adds the words “of encouragement” here];
Paul's Christianity does not dismiss the Old Testament writings, but rather he insists that Christians employ them for their instruction.
The word rendered as calling here in the phrase “calling of the writings” is the Greek word παράκλησις (3874), and the King James Version rendered it as comfort in this verse. The word is “a calling to one's aid, summons … a calling upon, appealing … intreaty, deprecation … an exhortation, address … encouragement” (Liddell & Scott). While the word bears the connotation of encouragement in certain contexts, and for that reason it may at times be rendered as comfort, the primary meaning of calling or summons cannot be omitted.
From Isaiah chapter 52, from another Messianic prophecy: “8 Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion. 9 Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. 10 The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”
For this reason is the coming of the Christ called the consolation of Israel, in Luke chapter 2, from the King James Version: “25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. 26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.” The word which the King James Version renders as consolation in that passage is the same Greek word, παράκλησις.
The corresponding Greek verb is παρακαλέω, which is “to call to one … to call to aid, call in, send for … to summon ...” and in a secondary sense “to call to, exhort, cheer, encourage … to comfort, console” (Liddell & Scott). Where in the King James Version Isaiah 40:1 proclaims “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people” the word for comfort in the Septuagint Greek is this verb παρακαλέω. From Isaiah 40 chapter in the Septuagint: “1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith God. 2 Speak, ye priests, to the heart of Jerusalem; comfort her, for her humiliation is accomplished, her sin is put away: for she has received of the Lord's hand double the amount of her sins. 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight the paths of our God.” Here in Isaiah 40 we see the calling to or exhortation, which is often translated as comfort or consolation of Israel directly connected to another Messianic prophecy.
Christians, who are properly those of the dispersed children of Israel who have heeded the promised calling of Christ, have their expectation through the calling of the writings, meaning the law and the prophets. The universalists deny the Old Testament, because they do not understand or do not want to believe who it is that the writings call. Only the children of Israel were promised this calling, exhortation or comfort in the law and the prophets, to the exclusion of all others. Since the Word and Law of God were only for the children of Israel, no other people were expected to have the comfort or consolation of the Scriptures, and no other people could have those things because no other people could force themselves into the prophetic context.
5 and that Yahweh of patience and exhortation [παράκλησις, consolation in the KJV] would give to you the same, to have understanding with one another concerning Yahshua Christ; 6 in order that with one accord, in one voice, you should honor the God and Father of our Prince, Yahshua Christ. 7 On which account you must assist one another, just as also Christ has assisted you [B, D, and 048 have “us”; the text follows א, A, C, and the MT] for the honor of Yahweh.
The last clause of verse 5 may have been rendered “to have understanding with one another in accordance with Yahshua Christ”. From the Septuagint, from Proverbs chapter 3: “1 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: 2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.” Likewise, from John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” And again, from Proverbs chapter 10: “10 He that winks with his eyes deceitfully, procures griefs for men; but he that reproves boldly is a peacemaker.”
To reprove boldly is to encourage your brethren to keep the laws of Yahweh. The only way that Christians can all come into accord and be of one mind is to do the same. From Amos chapter 3: “1 Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, 2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. 3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Christians should all agree with Yahweh their God. The reason for the punishment of Israel was so that Yahweh may chastise His people, bringing them into agreement with Him in Christ. This is the meaning of the quote from Isaiah (45:23) which Paul offered in relation to these things in Romans chapter 14, that “I live, says the Prince, that to Me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
Christians are freed from the judgments of the law, which is what Paul had explained in Romans chapter 7, that Christ died to free Israel from the law. However Christ said at John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Yet that same Christ warned in Matthew 12:7 “But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.” Therefore Christians are exhorted to have mercy on their brethren, as Christ has mercy on them all. So Paul, concerning the disputes over relatively minor matters of the law which were among these 1st century Christians, wrote in Romans 14:10 “Now why do you judge your brother? Or then, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of Yahweh.”
In that last chapter of Romans, Paul told those who were stronger in the faith not to despise the weak, who clung to the law regarding the eating of profane foods and other elements of the law from which Israel had been released. Paul then told those who were stronger in the faith that they should keep the law, not eating those things or doing anything which would offend a brother if the brother insisted upon keeping the law. Here Paul tells those same people that they should help the weak and “make amends towards building”, assisting one another as Christ assists us, which is through His mercy for us. The underlying theme in this discourse is that Christians assist one another and build the body of Christ through brotherly love and by a voluntary compliance to the law of God.
8 Therefore I say, Yahshua Christ came to be a minister of circumcision in behalf of the truth of Yahweh; for the confirmation of the promises of the fathers;
A minister of circumcision: the purpose of the Christ was to introduce the Gospel of Salvation through the remnant nation of Judaea which had kept the law and the prophets, and then to be cut off for it, as Yahweh previously announced in Daniel chapter 9. Yahweh purposely left a remnant of Judah for the very purpose of introducing the Messiah to Israel at the appointed time, meaning to all of the Israelites of the ancient dispersions. The transgression of Israel was not complete until the Messiah was introduced and was rejected by the remnant in Judaea, at which time the Old Covenant had finally come to an end, as Daniel 9:24 foretells: “24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”
Paul says here that the Gospel of Christ was “for the confirmation of the promises of the fathers”, just as it is also professed in Luke chapter 1 where it records the words of Zacharias the father of John the Baptist: “68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, 74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.”
9 and the Nations for the sake of mercy honor Yahweh; just as it is written, “For this reason I will profess you among the Nations, and I will sing of Your name.” 10 And again it says, “Rejoice, Nations with His people.”
In verse 9 Paul cites a passage from a song of David found in both II Samuel 22:50 and Psalm 18:49. From Psalm 18, from the New American Standard Bible, which does not abuse the Hebrew word for nations so much as the King James Version does: “46 The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock; And exalted be the God of my salvation, 47 The God who executes vengeance for me, And subdues peoples under me. 48 He delivers me from my enemies; Surely Thou dost lift me above those who rise up against me; Thou dost rescue me from the violent man. 49 Therefore I will give thanks to Thee among the nations, O LORD, And I will sing praises to Thy name. 50 He gives great deliverance to His king, And shows lovingkindness to His anointed, To David and his descendants forever.”
In verse 10 Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 32:43. Here so that we may understand the original context we shall read part of Deuteronomy chapter 32, this time from the King James Version: “35 To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste. 36 For the LORD shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left. 37 And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted, 38 Which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offerings? let them rise up and help you, and be your protection. 39 See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. 40 For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever. 41 If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. 42 I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy. 43 Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people. 44 And Moses came and spake all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he, and Hoshea the son of Nun.”
Paul is not quoting these passages out of their original context. Rather, the purpose of the Christ as it is expressed in the words of Zacharias quoted in the Gospel of Luke is the same purpose of Yahweh expressed by Moses and recorded in Deuteronomy chapter 32. Salvation is for the children of Israel in their respective nations and on their behalf Yahweh God will eventually destroy His enemies. This is the assistance Paul refers to, as Luke records “71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant”.
In Isaiah chapter 14 it is evident that the mercy of Yahweh was a matter of prophecy for the children of Israel of the captivity: “1 For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob. 2 And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.” The strangers joined to Israel are defined in Isaiah 14:2 as people of the nations who took Israel captive, referring primarily to the Assyrians and Chaldaeans. This began its fulfillment in 612 BC when the Scythians, who were descendants of the captives of Israel, along with the Medes had destroyed the cities of Assyria, and according to Diodorus Siculus, at that time the Scythians took a large number of both Medes and Assyrians as slaves and relocated the Medes to the north of the Black Sea along the Tanaïs River and the Assyrians to that part of Anatolia later known as Pontus (Library of History 2.43.6-7). The Parthians, a tribe of those same Scythians, later subjected the Persians and the Chaldaeans, as well as most of what was formerly Assyria.
Again, Paul quotes Moses where he said in verse 10 “Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people .” Very often the King James Version unjustly rendered the word for nations as gentiles or heathen. It is telling that the King James Version did not write gentiles or heathen for nations in Deuteronomy 32:43. The nations to which Moses referred in that passage can only be the twelve tribes of Israel, which were indeed individual nations at that time although they were consolidated under one government. They were also already prophesied to become many nations, in Genesis chapters 48 and 49 and elsewhere.
In Romans chapter 4, Paul explained at length that the seed of Abraham was to become many nations and that they were to be the heirs of the promises of Yahweh. Paul said in part: “16 Therefore from of the faith, that in accordance with favor, then the promise is to be certain to all of the offspring, not to that of the law only, but also to that of the faith of Abraham, who is father of us all; 17 (just as it is written, 'That a father of many nations I have made you,') before Yahweh whom he trusted, who raises the dead to life, and calls things not existing as existing; 18 who contrary to expectation, in expectation believed, for which he would become a father of many nations according to the declaration, 'Thus your offspring will be.'” The children of Israel did indeed become many nations, and they are the nations to whom Paul brought the gospel, the nations “with His people”, meaning Yahweh's people Israel that Moses had also intended by his statement.
11 And again, “Praise Yahweh, all the Nations, and commend Him, all the people.”
The Greek word λαοί is the plural of λαός (Strong's # 2992), which is “the people, both in singular and plural”, according to Liddell & Scott. Brenton writes “peoples” in his Septuagint translation of Psalm 117. Thayer makes no definite comment but says that “the plural...seems to be used of the tribes of the people” agreeing with Liddell & Scott and giving Genesis 49:10, Deuteronomy 32:8, Isaiah 3:13, and Acts 4:27 as examples. Once again, in context Paul is making a reference to the children of Israel as a single unit, though they be many nations by this time. The Romans were one of those many nations.
This quote from Psalm 117, a Psalm of only 2 verses, is also exclusive to the children of Israel: “Psalm 117:1 O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. 2 For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.” Paul is teaching the fulfillment of these Old Testament writings for the children of Israel which he says here were written for our instruction.
12 And again, Isaiah says, “There shall be the root of Iessai, and He is arising to be ruler of nations: upon Him the Nations have expectation.”
Here Paul is citing Isaiah chapter 11, specifically from verses 1 and 10 of that chapter. The word for expectation may also have been rendered hope or trust. Brenton rendered the same Greek word as trust in the Septuagint. The King James, based upon the Masoretic Text, has seek instead, but Paul was certainly citing the Septuagint. Here we shall read the passage from the King James Version at greater length: “1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.... 10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles [or Nations] seek: and his rest shall be glorious. 11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. 12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”
In Isaiah chapter 11 the King James Version unjustly translated the same Hebrew word, goyim (the plural of Strong's # 1471) as gentiles in verse 10 and then correctly as nations in verse 12, although in the context of Isaiah these are certainly the same entity. Brenton did the exact same thing with the equivalent Greek word ἔθνος in this chapter in his Septuagint translation. The ensign is Christ, and the promise is to regather the dispersed children of Israel of the ancient captivities. The nations which have expectation in Christ are those same children of Israel. From Joel chapter 3: “16 The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.” Paul is telling the Romans these things, and quoting these scriptures which he says were “written for our instruction” because he is relating the very fulfillment of the prophecies, the regathering of the nations of the children of dispersed Israel in Christ.
13 Now may Yahweh fill you of that hope, with all joy and peace in confidence, until you overflow with expectation, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Codex Claromontanus (D) wants the words “in confidence”. The Codex Vaticanus (B) reads this verse quite differently: “Now may Yahweh fully assure you of that hope, with all joy and peace in confidence you are in the expectation in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Recording the words of Mary in relation to the purpose of the Christ, Luke wrote in chapter 1 of his Gospel: “54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; 55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.” Paul is teaching the fulfillment of these promises, and is not teaching anything contrary.
From Jeremiah chapter 17: “13 O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.” Yahweh and His Christ are the hope of Israel as declared by the prophets, which we have seen here in Joel and Jeremiah. Therefore Paul declared in Acts chapter 28: “for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.” The Romans had a share in such hope because they too were of the seed of Abraham through the ancient Israelites.
14 Moreover I am persuaded, my brethren, even I myself concerning you, that you also are full of goodness, being full of all knowledge, being able then to advise one another.
The 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codex Claromontanus (D) want the word “my” here, however it is clear that Paul refers to the Romans as his brethren. Oddly, those two manuscripts as well as the Majority Text have the word brethren here in verse 15, where the other ancient manuscripts (the Codices Sinaiticus [א], Alexandrinus [A], Vaticanus [B] and Ephraemi Syri [C]) all want the word.
Yet it is clear that Paul is calling these Romans his brethren, and in Romans chapter 9 Paul defined his use of the term brethren for us where he clarified it to mean his “kinsmen in regards to the flesh; those who are Israelites, whose is the position of sons, and the honor, and the covenants, and the legislation, and the service, and the promises”. The Romans were also Israelites, as Paul has demonstrated throughout this epistle (i.e. Romans 1:21-25, 2:12-16, 4:1, 10-18, 9:25-27). Therefore the Romans were also his brethren.
15 Now more daringly have I written to you, brethren, in part that I am reminding you, through the favor that has been given to me by Yahweh, 16 for me to be a minister of Yahshua Christ to the Nations [B wants “to the Nations”], performing the service of the good message of Yahweh, in order that it be a presentation acceptable of the Nations, having been sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
In Romans chapter 4 Paul defines the scope of his ministry to the Nations as a ministry to those nations which are the heirs of the promises of Yahweh which were made to the seed of Abraham. These are the dispersed children of Israel, and no one else. In Romans chapter 9 from verse 24 Paul did the same thing again in a different manner, relating the nations who would be the recipients of his message to the prophecies of Hosea and Isaiah concerning the dispersed children of Israel. To remove the purpose of Paul's ministry from this context which he himself provided is robbery and it is the creation of a lie. Therefore Paul's ministry was certainly not to gentiles in the sense of non-Israelites. The original meaning of the Latin word gentilis is people of the same race. Paul's ministry was only to gentiles in reference to those gentiles which the dispersed children of Israel became according to the words of the prophets.
As for the Greek phrase ἵνα γένηται ἡ προσφορὰ τῶν ἐθνῶν εὐπρόσδεκτος, the King James Version rendered this phrase: “that the offering up of the nations might be acceptable”, which does not at all agree with the context of Paul’s statements. Paul is discussing the purpose of his mission, in 15:15, “performing the service of the good message”, and it is clear here and throughout Paul’s writing that his mission is to bring that message to the Nations. That which is sanctified is a reference to the message of the Gospel, as the Greek grammar insists that the verb refers back to the presentation itself. Paul is offering that Gospel to the nations and hoping that the nations accept his offering, or presentation.
The Greek word προσφορά (4376), is an offering in the King James Version, and a presentation here. The word is literally “a bringing to, applying, application … that which is brought”, according to Liddell & Scott. Paul clearly means to refer to his “bringing to” of the gospel with his use of this word. While εὐπρόσδεκτος (2144) is an adjective and since it is of the same case and number it modifies the noun προσφορά to describe “an acceptable presentation”, the acceptance is of or from, or even by the Nations (τῶν ἐθνῶν) to which the Gospel is being brought. I would assert that this is why the word order is peculiar, where an adjective usually accompanies the noun it modifies, here it follows τῶν ἐθνῶν, so “that it be a presentation acceptable of [or “by”] the Nations.” A similar construction is found in Luke 4:19 where the phrase ἐνιαυτὸν κυρίου δεκτόν is the “acceptable year of the Lord” in the King James Version, expressing a year acceptable to God. Here a similar construction describes a presentation acceptable to the nations.
Christ offered Himself up on behalf of the sins of the children of Israel, and the children of Israel themselves have nothing to offer God. From Hebrews chapter 10: “12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” [This also fully agrees with Paul's assertion, found in Isaiah, that all Israel shall be saved.] From Ephesians chapter 5: “2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” Paul is bringing the announcement of this sacrifice to the Nations, that is the purpose of the Gospel, and Paul hopes that the Nations find his presentation of the Gospel to be acceptable.
17 Therefore I have reason to boast in Christ Yahshua, of the things pertaining to Yahweh.
The 3rd century papyrus P46 wants “Yahshua” here, where we may write “Therefore I have reason to boast among the Anointed of the things pertaining to Yahweh.” The word καύχησις (Strong's # 2746) is a “reason to boast” and not necessarily a boast in itself, which is properly a καύχημα (Liddell & Scott). Paul finds in his ministry a reason to boast, but is not necessarily saying that he is boasting. As Paul advised in 1 Corinthians chapter 1: “31 … just as it is written, 'He who is boasting, in Yahweh he must boast.'”
18 Indeed I will not venture to speak anything of which Christ has not fashioned through me, regarding the compliance of the Nations, in word and deed,
Rather than “regarding the compliance” the Codex Vaticanus (B) has “speaking for the hearing”. In any event the hearing of the Gospel and the obedience of the hearers were both matters of prophecy for the children of Israel in their time of punishment.
From Jeremiah chapter 31, from the promise of a new covenant: “1 At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. 2 Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest. 3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. 4 Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.... 7 For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations [this is not a reference to non-Israelites, it is a reference to Ephraim, which was the chief nation of the ten tribes as attested in verse 9 of this chapter of Jeremiah]: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel [salvation is in Christ, the announcement is in the Gospel which is to be published among the chief of the nations]. 8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither. 9 They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn [so Ephraim is the chief of the nations of Israel]. 10 Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. 11 For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he..... 31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” The entire purpose of the New Covenant is to bring the cast-off children of Israel back into obedience to Yahweh their God.
This is also expressed in Ezekiel chapter 37, which again explicitly mentions a future, and therefore a new covenant, and a repentance from sin as a condition of that covenant: “Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen [or nations], whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: 22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: 23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. 24 And David my servant [a type for Christ] shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. [Which Paul calls “compliance of the nations” here in verse 18, meaning the call to obedience of the nations of Israel.] 25 And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. 26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: [this is the New Covenant in Christ] and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 And the heathen [or nations] shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.” Also, according to the words of the prophets, only Israel was ever sanctified by Yahweh.
19 by power of [P46 and D add “His”; the text follows א, A, B, C, and the MT] signs and wonders, by power of the Spirit of Yahweh [B has “of the Spirit”, A and D have “of the Holy Spirit”; the text follows P46, א, and the MT], consequently for me from Jerusalem, and in a circuit as far as Illurikon [or Illurika], to have fulfilled the good message of the Anointed.
There are many instances of such signs and wonders recorded in the Book of Acts. Here Paul is not saying that he “fulfilled the good message of the Anointed” in the sense of an overall completion, but only that he fulfilled his purpose in the Gospel in these places where he had already traveled. He still had plans to travel elsewhere, such as to Rome and to Spain, as he mentions in the balance of this chapter.
Illurikon, or Illyricum, was the Greek and Roman name for ancient Illyria, which was west of Makedonia and which was at this time a Roman province bordering the Adriatic Sea opposite Italy. One of the primary tribes of the Illyrians were the Dardanians, who were a branch of the ancient Dardans from Troy. The presence of these Dardans in Illyria was acknowledged by Greek historians through the time of Procopius who wrote in the 6th century AD. Several notable Roman emperors were Dardanians, including Constantine the Great, on his father's side, and the emperor Justinian. The Dardans were kin to the Romans, who according to all ancient accounts had also descended from the Trojans. We have asserted in a paper at Christogenea that the Dardans themselves were Israelites of the tribe of Judah, in our paper Classical Records of Trojan-Roman-Judah.
While Luke did accompany Paul to Macedonia, as it is recorded in Acts chapter 16, when Paul and Silas departed from Philippi Luke had remained behind there with Lydia, which is fully evident from Acts 16:40. For much of the further records of Paul's journeys in Greece which Luke provides, Luke is not with Paul and therefore he must have collected accounts and compiled them later. In Acts chapter 17 Paul is in Thessalonika, west of Philippi, but there is no mention in Acts of Paul's visiting Illyricum, which is much further west than Thessalonika. Paul is recorded as having passed through Macedonia on two other occasions in Acts chapters 19 and 20, but Luke is still not with him and the records of Paul's journeys are fragmentary. Statements in Paul's epistles help to piece them together. At some point in these travels Paul must have crossed northern Greece into Illyria. Luke joins Paul once again in Acts chapter 20 in the Troad, from where the final journey to Jerusalem is begun. It is evident in places that Luke may have seen Paul in the interim, for there were several years between the events of Acts 16 and Acts 20, but there are no records of such a meeting in Acts.
Before Paul first crossed into Macedonia, he was prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the Gospel in the cities of Asia, but he nevertheless preached in Asia later on. This seems to be in the fulfillment of a prophecy in Zechariah, that Yahweh would “save the tents of Judah first”. The Dardans of Makedonia and Illyria were indeed of Judah, and although not all Macedonians and Illyrians may have been Dardans, a good portion of them certainly were. On the other hand, the cities of Asia were for the most part populated with the descendants of Israelite Phoenicians and Dorians, along with Japhethite Ionians, Shemitic Lydians and others, as well as some Romans and Macedonians. In the Hellenistic period the Macedonians were the dominant tribe of the Greek world, and spread themselves out as the Romans did later under their own rule.
20 And so, being ambitious to announce the good message, not where Christ had been addressed, so that I not build upon another’s foundation, 21 but just as it is written, “To whom it has not been reported concerning Him, they shall see; and those that have not heard, they will understand.”
The Greek word ὠνομάσθη, “had been addressed” here, is from the verb ὀνομάζω (Strong's # 3687) which is literally “to name or speak of by name” (Liddell & Scott). The word has several idiomatic uses and a sense that is difficult to express in a word, or even in a few. While here I strove for a translation which is both literal and concordant, I may have written “not where Christ had conducted His ministry” in order to render the word idiomatically in the sense which Paul most likely intended.
Paul compared his introduction of the Gospel in those places where he preached to the task of a builder laying a foundation. In his first epistle to the Corinthians, in chapter 3, he qualified his analogy further where he said: “10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon [referring to Apollos, who came to minister to the Corinthians following Paul]. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Therefore we can determine his meaning here, that he did not have a desire to preach the Gospel where it had already been preached for so long, where the ministry of Christ was conducted.
Rather, Paul's ministry from the start had been commissioned for those who had not yet heard the Gospel. From Acts chapter 9, where Hananias speaks of Paul, “13 And Hananias replied 'Prince, I have heard from many concerning this man, how much evil he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem, 14 and thus he has authority from the high priests to bind all of those being called by Your Name.' 15 But the Prince said to him 'Go! For he is a vessel chosen by Me who is to bear My Name before both the Nations and kings of the sons of Israel. 16 For I shall indicate to him how much it is necessary for him to suffer on behalf of My Name.'”
Here in verse 21 Paul quotes from Isaiah 52:15. Here is Isaiah chapter 52, so that we may see the context which Paul intends: “Isaiah 52:1 Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. 2 Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion. 3 For thus saith the LORD, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money. 4 For thus saith the Lord GOD, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause. 5 Now therefore, what have I here, saith the LORD, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the LORD; and my name continually every day is blasphemed. 6 Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I. 7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! 8 Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion. 9 Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. 10 The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God [but that salvation is explicitly for the children of Israel – discussing Acts chapter 13 here last year it was demonstrated that the references to “all the ends of the earth” are also references to the scattered children of Israel, citing Isaiah chapter 49]. 11 Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean
thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD. 12 For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward. 13 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. 14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: 15 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.” The sprinkling of many nations is the same sanctification of the dispersed children of Israel prophesied in Ezekiel chapter 37 which was promised in direct connection with a new covenant.
22 On which account I also had often been hindered in coming to you.
Paul attests that he had never been to Rome, but it must be noted that there were already at least several Christian assemblies at Rome, which is evident in Romans chapter 16. The Edict of Claudius under which Priscilla and Aquila were expelled from Rome along with many others of the Judaeans was issued circa 49 AD (Acts 18:2), and this very epistle was written from the Troad circa 57 AD, so already there were Christians in Rome for many years before Paul ever gotten there, and before he ever wrote this epistle. Neither do the records indicate that Peter was in Rome before Paul was, since both Luke and Paul attests to Peter's being in Antioch, and Peter later attests that he is in Babylon. The arrival of the Gospel in Rome is a mystery, but the gospel was certainly there prior to any record of it in Scripture. The late Roman Catholic claims are ridiculous, that Peter and Paul were first to preach there.
23 But now, no longer having a place in these regions, and having a longing to come to you for many years,
Paul felt that his Gospel mission had been fulfilled wherever he had already preached, which included all of Syria, Anatolia and Greece. He was also aware while preaching in these other places that there had already been Christians in Rome “for many years”. While Paul felt it important to travel to Rome to edify the assemblies there, by no means was he the founder, or even a secondary founder, of any monolithic church there. Catholic claims are absolutely contrary to Biblical context.
24 perhaps as I journey into Spain [the MT adds the words “I will come to you”]; therefore I expect to be passing across to see you, and by you to be escorted there, if however of you first I am somewhat satisfied.
The Greek word θεάομαι (Strong's # 2300) is translated simply as “to see” here, and it is used by Paul only this one time. The word actually has a stronger sense, to view as a spectator, to view attentively, or even to review (Liddell & Scott).
The Greek word προπέμπω (Strong's # 4311) can be either “to send before, send on, or send forward”, or it can be “to escort” (Liddell & Scott). Here the text has the preposition ὑπό (Strong's # 5259), and therefore I have written “by you to be escorted”. But the 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codices Vaticanus (B) and Claromontanus (D) have ἀπὸ (Strong's # 575) instead, where it may have been more proper to write “from you to be sent forth”.
Paul intentioned going to Spain to preach the Gospel. There were many Romans and others from the Greco-Roman world in Spain at this time, but the principle inhabitants were Galatae, whom the Greeks also called Kelts, and the Iberians, who were descendants of the ancient Phoenicians. All of these are from among the dispersions of the ancient children of Israel.
There are writings found among the adherents of British Israelism, such as the discredited but so-called “lost” chapter of Acts, that assert that Paul did go to Spain, and that he even preached in Britain. These writings are grounded in fiction, and should indeed be discredited, even though the rumors are quite old. They are based upon the contention that Paul was arrested in Jerusalem – something which happened not long after he wrote this epistle – that Paul was sent to Rome, and was subsequently released and traveled for an extended period before he was arrested again and executed in Rome. But there is no support for any of this in his epistles, elsewhere in Scripture, or in any contemporary writings. In reality, Paul was arrested in Jerusalem shortly after writing this epistle, sent to Rome, and was under arrest there for a couple of years, as Luke attests in the closing chapter of Acts, After that period he was executed by Nero, as Paul himself had feared and even expressed in 2 Timothy chapter 4.
25 But now I travel to Jerusalem, in service to the saints; 26 they of Makedonia and Achaia had been glad to make a certain contribution for the needy of the saints who are in Jerusalem.
This contribution for the poor of the apostles in Jerusalem was the reason for Paul's final journey there, and it is discussed at length in 1 Corinthians chapter 16, and also in 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9. It is mentioned again in Acts chapter 24 where Paul defends himself in relation to his arrest and says “17 Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.”
27 Indeed they were well pleased and their debtors they are; for if the Nations share with them in the things of the Spirit, then they are obliged to minister to them in the things of the flesh.
The 3rd century papyrus P46 has the first clause of verse 27 to read “Indeed their debtors they are”; the Codex Claromontanus (D) has only “They are their debtors”. Both want the words “they were well pleased and”. The text agrees with the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), Ephraemi Syri (C) and the Majority Text.
Concerning himself and his right to be supported by the assemblies which he ministered to, Paul elaborated upon this in 1 Corinthians chapter 9 where he said in a lengthier analogy that “11 If we have sown things of the spirit in you, is it too great if we should reap your fleshly things? 12 If others of authority are partaking of you, still more not we?” But then striving to set a greater example Paul goes on to say “Rather we have not used this authority, but we cover all ourselves, in order that we should not give any hindrance to the good message of the Anointed. 13 Do you not know that those who in sacred things are laboring, from of the temple they eat? Those who are attending at the altar take a share with the altar? 14, Also in that manner has the Prince appointed those announcing the good message, from of the good message to live. 15 But I have indulged in not one of those things.” However Paul was at other times supported by other assemblies, as he wrote later in 2 Corinthians chapter 11 that “8 I have deprived other assemblies, taking provisions for your service. 9 And being present with you and wanting, I had burdened no one, (indeed my need had been filled by the brethren who came from Makedonia,) and in everything I have kept and will keep myself unburdensome to you.” Paul's preference was to work for his bread with his own hands, as he professed in 1 Corinthians chapter 4, however it is clear that it was not always possible for him to do so.
28 Now this being accomplished, and this profit having been assured to them [P46 and B want “to them”], I will depart by you towards Spain.
The Greek word καρπός (Strong's # 2590) is literally “fruit”, but the rendering was chosen to be explicit. The word may mean produce, returns or profits, among other things.
It is telling that Paul, being the apostle to the nations, desired to go to Rome and then on to Spain. If Paul simply wanted to go to non-Jews, he had many other choices in Africa or in the south in Arabia or Egypt or Ethiopia, or in the East in India. Yet Paul wanted to go to the West, to Europe. The areas to the West in Europe are the places to where may be traced the dispersions of Israel from the earliest times, and that is not a coincidence. Paul's mission was not to go to merely any non-Jewish nation, but to certain nations which themselves had sprung from the seed of Abraham, which is demonstrable both historically and in Paul's epistles. Paul's knowledge of history and Scripture uniquely qualified him for that task.
29 And I know that coming to you, I shall come in the fullness of praise of Christ.
The Codex Claromontanus has this last clause to read “I shall come with full assurance of the praise of Christ.” The Majority Text, and therefore the King James Version, has “I shall come in the fullness of praise of the good message of the Christ.” The text follows the 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B) and Ephraemi Syri (C).
30 Moreover, I entreat you, brethren, [P46 and B want “brethren” here; the text follows א, A, C, D, and the MT] through our Prince, Yahshua Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, to assist me in prayers to Yahweh on my behalf; 31 in order that I am delivered from those of disobedience in Judaea; and that my service that is to Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints;
The Codices Vaticanus (B) and Claromontanus (D) have δωροφορία or “gift bearing” rather than διακονία or “service”. The text follows the 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Ephraemi Syri (C) and the Majority Text.
In Acts chapter 19, after certain events which happened in Ephesus, we read that “21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” Paul apparently had this epistle written while he was in the Troad just before departing for his final trip to Jerusalem. Then while en route to Jerusalem, stopping in Miletus Paul said to the elders of the Christians in Asia, as it is recorded in Acts chapter 20: “22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. 24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” So we see that Paul indeed knew he was going to Rome after going to Jerusalem, and even feared being arrested while he was in Jerusalem. Both his aspiration to visit Rome and his fear of bonds were fulfilled, as he was sent to Rome in bonds.
32 that with joy I am coming to you through the will of Yahweh [rather than “of Yahweh” B has “of Prince Yahshua”, D “of Christ Yahshua” and א “of Yahshua Christ”; the text follows the 3rd century papyrus P46, A, C, and M], that I may have rest with you.
The 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codex Vaticanus (B) want the phrase “that I may have rest with you”, which the Claromontanus (D) reads instead “and I will be refreshed with you”. Other minor variations are found in the Codex Sinaiticus (א) and the Majority Text. The text follows the Codices Alexandrinus (A) and Ephraemi Syri (C).
Towards the end of his life, Paul did seem to find some rest in Rome, as Luke attests at the end of Acts where he states, in Acts chapter 28: “30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, 31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.”
33 Now may Yahweh be of peace with you all. Truly.
The word for “truly”, or “amen” (ἀμήν, Strong's # 281), is wanting here in the 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codex Alexandrinus (A). The text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Vaticanus (B), Ephraemi Syri (C), Claromontanus (D), and the Majority Text.