Commentary on Romans 15:30-33

Notes (NET Translation)

30 Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, through our Lord Jesus Christ and through the love of the Spirit, to join fervently with me in prayer to God on my behalf.

The fulfillment of Paul’s hope to come to the Romans “with the fullness of the blessing of Christ” (v. 29) depends on what will happen when Paul goes to Jerusalem with the collection. And so he “now” “urges” the Roman Christians to pray for him. The word is a strong one, and Paul accentuates it by his twofold qualification: “through our Lord Jesus Christ and through the love of the Spirit.” The first “through” might be paraphrased “in the name of”: it introduces the authority by which Paul makes his request. The second, on the other hand, identifies the ground of the request. “Love of the Spirit” might mean “the love of the Spirit for us;” but, in a context where relations among Christians have been so central, it probably indicates “the love that the Spirit inspires” (REB; cf. TEV); for example, the love that believers have for one another, a love “that has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”1

The words “join fervently” are an athletic metaphor of the striving of an athlete toward a goal (Phil 1:27; 4:3; Col 4:12).

31 Pray that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea and that my ministry in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.

The prayer for “rescue” (rhystho) refers to the preservation of Paul’s life. The “disobedient in Judea” are non-Christian Jews, in particular those who have rejected the gospel (Rom 10:21; 11:30-31). They include those like the pre-conversion Paul who persecuted Christians. Acts notes antagonism against Paul by unbelieving Jews (9:23, 29; 13:45, 50; 14:2, 5, 19; 17:5-9, 13; 18:12-17; 19:9; 20:3; 21:26-36; 23:12-35). Paul knows his trip to Jerusalem may not turn out how he hopes. Acts 20:22-24 says the Holy Spirit warned Paul that imprisonment and persecution awaited him. Acts 21-28 tell us that he was taken captive after a near riot in the Temple precincts, was subjected to house arrest for two years, and then shipped to Rome.

His request that this service would be ‘favorably received’ by the Lord’s people reflects some apprehension on his part as to whether the Jewish believers in Jerusalem would accept the offerings of the Gentile churches in the spirit in which they were given. For the Jewish believers to do so would involve a de facto recognition of the bona fides of Gentile believers as true members of the people of God, and this was something that some of them had previously called into question (cf. Gal 5:6-10; 6:12-15; Acts 15:1-2, 4-5). According to the Acts of the Apostles, when Paul arrived in Jerusalem, ‘the brothers and sisters’ received him warmly (Acts 21:17), and later, when appearing before Felix the Roman governor in Caesarea and referring to his recent visit to Jerusalem and the collection, Paul said, ‘After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings’ (Acts 24:17). The indications are, then, that the offering of the Gentile believers was accepted, and his prayers and those of the Roman believers had been answered. Dunn, citing Minear, says: ‘Nothing more fully proves the significance of the fund in Paul’s eyes than the fact that he judged its safe delivery to be worth the risk of his life’.2

All Paul’s plans are subordinate to the will of God as can be seen by the fact his prayer was not answered in the way he had probably hoped. He was rescued from the unbelieving Jews, but only by being locked up by the Romans. He did make it to Rome, but as a prisoner. The refreshment he envisions “stems from the fellowship and joy that exist when members of the church mutually minister one to another.”3

33 Now may the God of peace be with all of you. Amen.

The description of God as ‘the God of peace’ is one Paul employs a total of six times in his letters (15:33; 16:20; 1 Cor 14:33; 2 Cor 13:11; Phil 4:9; 1 Thess 5:23; cf. Heb 13:20). He is the God of peace supremely because through Christ he made peace by the blood of the cross (Col 1:20), or as Paul says elsewhere: ‘God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them’ (2 Cor 5:19). On the basis of the fact that God is the God of peace, and that he has made peace with humanity through the death of his Son, Paul repeatedly invokes God’s peace upon the audiences of his letters (1:7; 15:13, 33; 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3; 6:16; Eph 1:2; 6:23; Phil 1:2; Col 1:2; 1 Thess 1:2; 1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 1:2; Tit 1:4; Philem 3).4

The word ἀμήν (amēn) signifies a desire that the prayer wish will be realized in the lives of the Romans. The benediction placed here is not the sign of the end of the letter, for elsewhere Paul conveys greetings of peace before the letter comes to a conclusion (2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:9; 1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Thess. 3:16). Thus the prayer wish here precedes the greetings, which dominate chapter 16.5

Bibliography

Kruse, Colin G. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Kindle Edition. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014.

Metzger, Bruce M., ed. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. Second Edition. Hendrickson Pub, 2005.

Moo, Douglas J. The Epistle to the Romans. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996.

Schreiner, Thomas R. Romans. Kindle Edition. Baker Academic, 1998.

Witherington III, Ben, and Darlene Hyatt. Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Kindle Edition. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004.


  1. Moo 1996, 909 
  2. Kruse 2014, 550-551 
  3. Schreiner 1998, Kindle Locations 15151-15152 
  4. Kruse 2014, 551-552 
  5. Schreiner 1998, Kindle Locations 15155-15158 
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