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assist me in my labours, is not a bad one, but I prefer a literal translation, because it is more emphatic. For the word strive shows the straits in which he was placed; and when he orders his brethren to assist him in this pressing difficulty, we see a proof of the affection, which believers ought to feel for each other in their intercessory prayers. They should actually take upon themselves the person and character of their afflicted brethren, as if they were placed in the same difficulty and necessity. He points also to the effect which these intercessors are capable of producing; for, by commending a brother to the Lord, he takes a part of the burden upon himself, and affords him so much assistance and relief. And, if our strength is placed in calling on the name of God, we cannot bestow greater strength upon our brethren, than by invoking for their assistance the name of Jehovah.
That my service which I have for JerusalemPaul's calumniators had been so successful in their false charges against him, as to excite in his breast a feeling of solicitude, lest the present, which he was carrying, might not be very welcome from his hands, although it would be offered, in the midst of such pressing want and necessity, at a very convenient season. Our apostle's astonishing meekness appears from his not ceasing to labour for the temporal wants of the Jews, even while he entertained a doubt of his exertions being regarded with pleasure by those very persons, whose wants he was endeavouring to supply. We ought to imitate his disposition of mind manifested on this occasion, and never cease performing acts of kindness to those from whom we have no certain and well-founded cause to expect the least gratitude.* Paul knew that saints
* A steady adherence to this truly Christian principle, in which Calvin himself also excelled, would be found very use
also, on some occasions, might be hurried off by false accusations, and induced to entertain an evil and harsh opinion of the conduct of some of their brethren. Our apostle persists in making honourable mention of those very believers, even when he certainly knew his character to be injured by their representations. The additional sentence, that I may come unto you, implies that this prayer would also prove highly useful to the Romans, since his being killed in Judea would prevent his exertions for their advantage and instruction. It was of importance also that he should come with joy; since, should he arrive among them in all the liveliness of hilarity, and without one gloom of grief and sorrow, he would be enabled to devote all his time, all his attention, and all his pains and study, with more animation and more activity, to the promoting of their spiritual improvement. The expression, refreshed, or delighted, shows how fully convinced he was of their fraternal attachment. The sentence, by the will of God, instructs us in the necessity of devoting ourselves to prayer, since God alone directs all our paths, and all our steps, by his gracious and unerring providence.
Now the God of peace-The universal expression, with you all, shows, that Paul did not pray to God for his presence and favour merely with the Romans in general, but for his guidance and direction of every individual believer in that city. The epithet, peaceful, must be referred to the circumstance of the passage, and means, "May God, the Author of peace, extend his preserving care to every saint in Rome."
ful in securing the peace and happiness of mankind. How many arrows might strike, taken from the quiver of ingratitude, without leaving a single wound!—Translator.
1 I COMMEND unto you Phebe, our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; 2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. 3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus; 4 Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the gentiles. 5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well-beloved Epenetus, who is the first-fruits of Achaia unto Christ. 6 Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us. 7 Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord. 9 Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. 10 Salute Apelles, approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household. 11 Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord. 12 Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord. 13 Salute Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. 14 Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas,
Hermes, and the brethren which are with them. 15 Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them. 16 Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.
I commend unto you A considerable part of this chapter is devoted to salutations; and, as they are attended with no difficulty, it would be loss of time to dwell at any length upon so plain a subject. I will touch only on those points, which require some elucidation. He commends Phebe, the bearer of the epistle, first, from her office, as having been a very honest and holy servant of the church; and secondly, for having always devoted her time and labour to the supplying of the wants of all the believers, on which account it was their bounden duty to pay her every attention. Paul orders her to be received in the Lord, because she was a servant of the church at Cenchrea. His additional sentence, as becometh saints, intimates that it would be altogether unworthy and unbecoming the servants of Christ to show her no honour, and distinguish her by no kindness. And indeed it is highly becoming to embrace with affection-to manifest esteem, peculiar love, and honour to all the members of Christ, but especially to such as are employed in any public function and office. Paul orders them to show her, in return, aid and assistance, as she had been invariably kind in attending to the wants and demands of all the brethren. It is merely obeying the voice of humanity, not to forsake a character whose disposition is naturally benevolent, when he stands in need of the assistance of others. Paul, with a view of increasing their kindness to her, includes himself among those who had received personal assistance at her hands.
Our apostle (1 Tim. v. 9, 10) acquaints us with the ministry to which he here alludes. Public officers were appointed by the church for attending to the maintenance and support of the poor; and widows, who were released from domestic cares and labours, encumbered with no children, and were constantly desirous to devote themselves to the duties of religion, and obedience to the Lord, were appointed to this office, and bound by strict obligation to its fulfilment. They were not at liberty to consider themselves to be their own mistresses, since all their time and attention were required to take care of others. The apostle accuses them of want of faithfulness, and of adherence to their engagements, if they resigned the office to which they were appointed. Paul forbids, therefore, the choosing of widows under threescore years old, (1 Tim. v. 11,) since he clearly foresaw that a vow of perpetual celibacy, which it was necessary for them to observe, was dangerous, nay, ruinous, before that age. This very holy office, which was extremely useful for the church, degenerated, during the more corrupt periods of Christianity, into the idle and lazy order of nuns. Although this order, from its very first origin, was bad, and contrary to the word of God, yet it has now so far degenerated from its original object, that it is as dangerous as a brothel would be, if situated within a chapel set apart to chastity.
Greet Priscilla and Aquila-These testimonies are given to the characters of certain members of the church, with a view to confer honour on probity, by the esteem which is shown the virtuous and worthy, and to increase the authority and power of such as have the inclination and the will to be useful to others. They are necessary, also, in exciting an ardour in the breasts of those who are commended to pursue, with steady perseverance, their former paths of virtue, and not to faint in their career of piety, nor