30. Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;
30. Obsecro autem vos fratres, per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum et per dilectionem Spiritus, ut concertetis mihi in precibus vestris pro me ad Deum;
31. That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints;
31. Ut liberer ab incredulis in Iudea, et ut ministerium meum quod suscipio erga Ierusalem acceptum sit sanctis;
32. That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.
32. Ut cum gaudio veniam ad vos per voluntatem Dei, unique vobiscum refociller.
33. Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
33. Dens autem pacts sit cure omnibus vobis. Amen.
30. Now I beseech you, etc. It is well known from many passages how much ill-will prevailed against Paul in his own nation on account of false reports, as though he taught a departure from Moses. He knew how much calumnies might avail to oppress the innocent, especially among those who are carried away by inconsiderate zeal. Added also to this, was the testimony of the Spirit, recorded in Acts 20:23; by which he was forewarned, that bonds and afflictions awaited him at Jerusalem. The more danger then he perceived, the more he was moved: hence it was, that he was so solicitous to commend his safety to the Churches; nor let us wonder, that he was anxious about his life, in which he knew so much danger to the Church was involved.
He then shows how grieved his godly mind was, by the earnest protestation he makes, in which he adds to the name of the Lord, the love of the Spirit, by which the saints ought to embrace one another. But though in so great a fear, he yet continued to proceed; nor did he so dread danger, but that he was prepared willingly to meet it. At the same time he had recourse to the remedies given him by God; for he solicited the aid of the Church, so that being helped by its prayers, he might find comfort, according to the Lord's promise, --
|Where two or three shall assemble in my name, there in the midst of them am I,| (Matthew 18:20;)
|Whatsoever they agree in on earth, they shall obtain in heaven,| (Matthew 18:19.)
And lest no one should think it an unmeaning commendation, he besought them both by Christ and by the love of the Spirit. The love of the Spirit is that by which Christ joins us together; for it is not that of the flesh, nor of the world, but is from his Spirit, who is the bond of our unity.
Since then it is so great a favor from God to be helped by the prayers of the faithful, that even Paul, a most choice instrument of God, did not think it right to neglect this privilege, how great must be our stupidity, if we, who are abject and worthless creatures, disregard it? But to take a handle from such passages for the purpose of maintaining the intercessions of dead saints, is an instance of extreme effrontery.
That ye strive together with me, etc. Erasmus has not given an unsuitable rendering, |That ye help me laboring:| but, as the Greek word, used by Paul, has more force, I have preferred to give a literal rendering: for by the word strive, or contend, he alludes to the difficulties by which he was oppressed, and by bidding them to assist in this contest, he shows how the godly ought to pray for their brethren, that they are to assume their person, as though they were placed in the same difficulties; and he also intimates the effect which they have; for he who commends his brother to the Lord, by taking to himself a part of his distress, do so far relieve him. And indeed if our strength is derived from prayer to God, we can in no better way confirm our brethren, than by praying to God for them.
31. That my ministration, etc. Slanderers had so prevailed by their accusations, that he even feared that the present would hardly be acceptable, as coming from his hands, which otherwise, under such a distress, would have been very seasonable. And hence appears his wonderful meekness, for he ceased not to labor for those to whom he doubted whether he would be acceptable. This disposition of mind we ought to imitate, so that we may not cease to do good to those of whose gratitude we are by no means certain. We must also notice that he honors with the name of saints even those by whom he feared he would be suspected, and deemed unwelcome. He also knew that, saints may sometimes be led away by false slanders into unfavorable opinions, and though he knew that they wronged him, he yet ceased not to speak honorably of them.
By adding that I may come to you, he intimates that this prayer would be profitable also to them, and that it concerned them that he should not be killed in Judea. To the same purpose is the expression with joy; for it would be advantageous to the Romans for him to come to them in a cheerful state of mind and free from all grief, that he might in a more lively and strenuous manner labor among them. And by the word refreshed, or satisfied, he again shows how fully persuaded he was of their brotherly love. The words by the will of God remind us how necessary it is to be diligent in prayer, for God alone directs all our ways by his providence.
And the God of peace, etc. From the universal word all, I conclude that he did not simply pray that God would be present with and favor the Romans in a general sense, but that he would rule and guide every one of them. But the word peace refers, I think, to their circumstances at the time, that God, the author of peace, would keep them all united together.