Paul's Epistle to the Romans

 (54) Paul’s Plea for Prayers on His Behalf
Romans 15:30-32

 

Scripture

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;
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;
32 That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.
33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

 

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;

The apostle closes this chapter with a fervent appeal for their prayers. The basis on which he appeals is their mutual union with the Lord Jesus Christ and their love which came from the Holy Spirit. He asks them to agonize in prayers to God for him. As Lenski says, “This calls for prayers into which one puts his whole heart and soul as do the contestants in the arena.” 

Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit,

Observe why they must pray for him. He persistently begs them for a place in their prayers. He might suspect they would forget him, because they had no personal acquaintance with him, and therefore he urges it so intimately, and begs for it with the most affectionate display, by all that is sacred and valuable: I beseech you:
 (1.) For the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake.
He is my Master, I am going about his work, and seeking his glory and I am interested in the success of the Gospel: if you have any regard for Jesus Christ, and for his cause and kingdom, pray for me. You love Christ, and own Christ; for his sake then do this kindness for me. What all this means is this;  Pray for me, out of love and regard for him; and in order to promote his honour and glory, and to extend his kingdom among men. Paul desired to be delivered from the hands of the Jews, so that he might promote the honour of Jesus Christ among the Gentiles.
(2.) For the love of the Spirit—by the mutual love and sympathy which the Spirit of God produces in the minds of all who are the friends of God. I beseech you now to manifest that love by praying earnestly for me.

Here we have St. Paul’s desire for a share in the prayers of the Romans for him. Paul was a great apostle; nevertheless he begged to be included in the prayers of the poorest Christians, not here only, but also in several other of the epistles. He had prayed a lot for them, and now he asks them to return his kindness. Mutual intercessory prayers are an excellent token of mutual loves. Paul speaks like one that knew himself, and he would teach us how to value the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous. How careful should we be to avoid doing any thing that would forfeit our interest in the love and prayers of God’s praying people!

that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;

That ye strive together with me in your prayers— ‘that you aid me in my conflict, by taking part in it.’ They were to do this with their prayers. This request is suggestive of the spiritual foes whose efforts are directed against the prayers of God’s people, implying that he had his grounds for anxious fear in this matter. The passages that follow are examples of this point:
• Daniel 10:12-13: “Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.” This messenger had been sent to Daniel three weeks earlier which was the first day Daniel began to pray, mourn, and fast. But for the entire three weeks the prince of the kingdom of Persia had detained this messenger, until Michael, one of the chief princes came to help him. This is the first biblical reference to Michael the Archangel. He is only found elsewhere in verse 21; 12:1; Jude 9; Revelation 12:7; and probably I Thessalonians 4:16. The messenger sent to Daniel was no doubt a supernatural being; and likewise, the prince of Persia who detained him must have been one of Satan’s principalities and powers. There is a spiritual warfare going on of which we on earth know very little, and a small glimpse is afforded us in this chapter of Daniel.
• Ephesians 6:12: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” We are not engaged in a human, physical warfare. Wrestle means to throw or swing. It is a contest between two opponents that continues until one hurls the other one down and holds him down. The word ‘against’ presents the idea of a personal foe, face-to-face and hand-to-hand conflict to the finish, a life and death struggle. Paul is not describing a Sunday school picnic. ‘Principalities’ refer to the high-ranking hierarchy of demonic authority. ‘Powers’ suggests that they are invested with authority. ‘Rulers of the darkness of this world’ refer to the world rulers who are in revolt against God and limited to “this darkness” here on earth. ‘Spiritual wickedness’ is a reference to the army of invisible wicked spirits. ‘In high places’ refers to the sphere of this conflict; it is in the heavenlies, where life in Christ is lived—“Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” (Ephesians 2:5–6).

The apostle could not see them immediately, but he knew that he would sooner or later. In the meantime, he would be exposed to many dangers; consequently, he earnestly begged them to aid him with their prayers. He underscores his request with this tender thought; ‘for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,’ i.e. out of regard for the Lord Jesus; ‘whatever regard you have for him, and whatever desire to see his cause prosper, in which I am engaged, let it induce you to pray for me.’ Here we see very clearly what a reality his faith was in the power of united prayer. It is also evident that he has a strong confidence in the faith and devotion of his Roman brethren. He expects an answer to their prayers; that he will be delivered from his enemies, and that his work will prosper.
Paul also asked for prayer when writing letters to the churches at Corinth and Ephesus. To the Corinthians he wrote  (2 Cor. 1:11), “Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf. Their prayer was to have a real share in his deliverance. To the Ephesians he wrote: “With all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit for all the saints and on my behalf, that utterance may be given unto me.” He makes His power and success in his ministry depend, to some extent, on their prayers.

He mentioned the prayers of a man named Epaphras in his Epistle to the Colossians (4:12): “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” He is probably one of the founders of the church at Colossae. He brought Paul news of the conditions in the church. The apostle describes this man as “Always laboring fervently for you in prayers.” Laboring fervently suggests strenuous intercession, wrestling with God on their behalf.

to God for me;—the order in the original is “on my behalf toward God.” which throws emphasis upon the latter words. Paul’s personal trust in God, and the divine assurance given to him, did not make him independent of the prayers of the saints. Prayer is never rendered too much or unnecessary by any circumstances, not even by the knowledge of God’s will and purpose. On the contrary, the revelation of that will is an incentive for more prayer.

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;

That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea;
Four specific prayer requests are given; two in verse 31 and two in verse 32. First, Paul asks for prayer that he will be
delivered[1] from unbelievers (those that do not believe in the resurrected Christ), and in this instance he is talking about a group known as the ZEALOTS. Zealots in Judea were fanatically opposed to the gospel, just as he himself had once been; therefore, they lacked faith in Jesus. Like the PHARISEES, the Zealots were devoted to the Jewish law and religion. But unlike most Pharisees, they thought it was treason against God to pay tribute to the Roman emperor, since God alone was Israel’s king. They were willing to fight to the death for Jewish independence.

The Zealots eventually degenerated into a group of assassins known as SICARII (Latin, daggermen). Their increasing fanaticism was one factor that provoked the Roman-Jewish war. The Zealots took control of Jerusalem in A.D. 66, a move that led to the siege of Jerusalem and its fall in A.D. 70. The last stronghold of the Zealots, the fortress of Masada, fell to the Romans in A.D. 73.

The unbelieving Jews in Judea had been opposed to Paul's conversion—Unbelief is disobedience; faith is an act of obedience (See Romans 16:26[2]). They could not forget that he had carried letters of commission from them to persecute the Christians at Damascus. They regarded him as an apostate (traitor). They had heard of his success among the Gentiles; and they had been informed that he "taught all the Jews among the Gentiles to forsake the laws of Moses," Acts 21:21[3]. Hence the apostle must have been aware that, in returning to Judea, he exposed himself to particular dangers. Paul knew too well the bitter hostility of the Jews toward him, and that his visit to Jerusalem would be beset with dangers. He goes there with some forebodings. See Acts 20:22[4], and 21:13[5]. His fears, as the result showed, were well founded. This prayer was answered in several remarkable deliverances of Paul, recorded Acts 21, 22, 23, and 24.

and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints;
Secondly,
he wants the Romans to pray that the Jewish saints will accept the relief funds graciously. But there were many Jewish believers who were brought up to hate and mistrust all Gentiles, making a graceful spirit highly unlikely. Strong religious prejudices remained against Gentile believers and against those who preached to the Gentiles. There was a likelihood of misunderstanding and prejudice on the part of Jewish Christians, especially those who had inclinations toward Judaism. Then there is always the possibility of people being offended at the idea of receiving “charity.” It often takes more grace to be on the receiving end than on the giving end! That, in addition to the opposition of unbelieving Jews is what awaited Paul in Jerusalem.

Paul’s journey to Rome. Before leaving, Paul arranged for a member of each of the contributing churches to carry that church’s donation. Paul himself would go to Jerusalem with them, giving the Jerusalem Christians an opportunity to see some of their Gentile brethren face to face in addition to receiving their gifts. Some of Paul’s hopes and misgivings about the trip are expressed in Romans 15:25–32. His misgivings were well-founded.

A few days after his arrival in Jerusalem, Paul was attacked by a mob in the area of the Temple. He was rescued by a detachment of Roman soldiers and kept in custody at the Roman governor’s headquarters in Caesarea for the next two years. At the end of that period he exercised his privilege as a Roman citizen and appealed to Caesar in order to have his case transferred from the provincial governor’s court in Judea to the emperor’s tribunal in Rome. He was sent to Rome in the fall of A.D. 59. The great apostle spent an additional two years in Rome under house arrest, waiting for his case to come up for hearing before the supreme tribunal.

The restrictions under which Paul lived in Rome should have held back his efforts to proclaim the gospel, but just the opposite actually happened. These restrictions, by his own testimony, “actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12 )[6]. Although he was confined to his lodgings, shackled to one of the soldiers who guarded him in four-hour shifts, he was free to receive visitors and talk to them about the gospel. The soldiers who guarded him and the officials in charge of presenting his case before the emperor were left with no doubts about the reason for his being in Rome. The gospel actually became a topic of discussion. This encouraged the Christians in Rome to bear more open witness to their faith, allowing the saving message to be proclaimed more fearlessly in Rome than ever before “and in this,” said Paul, “I rejoice”—“What then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice” (Philippians 1:18). Paul rejoiced because Christ was being openly proclaimed.

From Rome, Paul was able to correspond with friends in other parts of the Roman Empire. Visitors from those parts came to see him, bringing news of their churches. These visitors included EPAPHRODITUS from Philippi and EPAPHRAS from Colossae. From Colossae, too, Paul received an unexpected visitor, ONESIMUS, the slave of his friend PHILEMON. He sent Onesimus back to his master with a letter commending him “no longer as a slave but . . . as a beloved brother” (Philemon. 16).

__________________verse 31 notes______________________

[1](delivered) “And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.”
[2](Romans 16:26)
“But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:”
[3](Acts 21:21)
“And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.”
[4](Acts 20.22)
“And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there”
[5](Acts 21:13) “Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.

[6](Philippians 1:12) “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.” Paul’s imprisonment did not hinder his ministry of intercession, his ministry of evangelism, his ministry of writing.

 

32 That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.

The third request was that the Lord might see fit to make the visit to Rome a joyful one—Joy for Paul for being permitted to come and producing joy for the Romans by his presence. If his present journey to Jerusalem proved unsuccessful, his intended journey to Rome would be uncomfortable. If he should not do well, and prosper, in one visit, he thought he would have little joy from the next: he thought that for him to come to them feeling joyful, his coming must express the will of God; if God will or if God permit. All our joy depends upon the will of God. The comfort we feel, in every situation, depends upon how our decisions line-up with the will of God. The words “by the will of God” express Paul’s desire to be led by the Lord in all things.

After all his desires, and all their prayers, it still depended on the will of God; and the apostle sincerely desired to submit to that. This should be the aim of our most ardent desires, and the object of all our prayers, that the will of God would be done (James 4:14, 15[7]). Paul did go by the will of God; but he went in chains.

Paul makes this appeal for the support of Roman prayers in the face of the imminent dangers he must face from the Zealots, before he comes to them. Paul knows that dangers threaten him in Judaea, for there are many that mark him as a traitor to the Jewish cause. Coupled with the hatred of unbelieving Jews is the danger that the church at Jerusalem might misread his intentions in bringing a monetary gift. Perhaps they might not receive it because it was given by the Gentiles. Also, he desires to come to Rome with joy by the will of God, that is, only if it is the will of God. He desires to be refreshed both physically and spiritually there.

What an unspeakable privilege united prayer is, and how extremely powerful it can be. If the believing husband and wife knew that they were joined together in the name of Jesus to experience His presence and power in united prayer (see 1 Peter); if friends believed what mighty help two or three praying in one accord could give each other; if in every prayer meeting the coming together in the Name, the faith in the Presence, and the expectation of the answer, stood in the foreground; if in every church united effectual prayer was regarded as one of the chief purposes for which they are banded together, the highest exercise of their power as a church would be experienced in corporate prayer; if in the worldwide church of Jesus Christ, the coming of the kingdom, and the coming of the King Himself, first in the mighty outpouring of His Holy Spirit, and then in His own glorious person, were really a matter of unceasing united prayer to God—O who can say what blessings might come to, and through, those who agreed to prove God in the fulfillment of His promise.

Last of all, he asks that his visit might be one in which he “may be refreshed” in the midst of a tumultuous and fatiguing ministry. God hears prayer, but the manner of the answer often differs from that which the petitioner anticipates. He wanted his visit to be both joyful and in response to God’s will. The Bible tells us that he did come to Rome, submissive to the will of God, but not “in joy,” though no doubt God was with him and “refreshed” him. 

___________________verse 32 notes____________________________

[7](James 4:14-15) “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” One’s behavior and plans should consistently demonstrate dependence upon the Lord. He may determine that at the present time patience through tribulation (Rom 5:3) is a greater need than attaining our goals.

 

 33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
In chapter 15 the Lord has been named the God of patience and consolation (v. 5), the God of hope (v. 13), and now the God of peace. He is the source of everything good and of everything a poor sinner needs now and eternally. Amen. The peace of God, that peace which God gives, includes all the mercies necessary for the perfect blessedness of the soul.
His request for prayer on their part leads him to offer prayer for them. After asking for their prayers, it was only natural that he would ask God to bless them. Compare this verse with other benedictions:
• 2 Corinthians13:11; “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.”
• Philippians 4:9; “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
• 1 Thessalonians 5:23; “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here, Paul closes the Chapter with a prayer by the apostle for them: “Now the God of peace be with you all, Amen.” The Lord of hosts, the God of battle, is the God of peace, the author and lover of peace. He describes God under this title, because of the disagreement and discord that existed among them; if God is the God of peace, let us be men of peace. The Old-Testament blessing was, Peace be with you; now, it is “the God of peace be with you all.” As he begged them to pray for him, so he prays for them. It is a prayer of one petition; so full of meaning, however, that no other needs to be added.

The peace Paul wants the God of peace to bless them with is to be taken in its widest sense: the peace of reconciliation to God, first, "through the blood of the everlasting covenant" (Heb 13:20[8]); then the peace which that reconciliation diffuses among all the partakers of it (1Corinthians 14:33[9]; 2 Corinthians13:11; and  Romans 16:20[10]); more widely still, that peace which the children of God, in beautiful imitation of their Father in Heaven, are called and privileged to diffuse far and wide through this sin-distracted and divided world (Romans 12:18[11] ; Matthew 5:9[12] ; Heb 12:14[13] ; James 3:18[14]).

 __________________verse 33 notes_______________________

[8](Hebrews 13:20) “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.” The benediction of these verses provides the formal conclusion to this epistle; they serve as a postscript. Following the extended and severe admonition contained in this epistle, this benediction, involving the God of peace, is comforting.
[9](1 Corinthians 14:33) “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” The service that is disorderly, confusing, and disruptive is not of God, for God is the author of peace.
[10](Romans 16:20) “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” In echoing Genesis 3:15, Paul reminds the believers at Rome that God has promised ultimate victory to His church and shortly, despite Satan’s crafty attacks, the enemy will be defeated as promised. God will crush Satan, under the feet of the faithful, and that right speedily.
[11](Romans 12:18) “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Insofar as it is consistent with our obedience to God, the Christian is to labor in the utmost harmony with men of the world. We must live in good will toward men and attempt not to be offensive or obnoxious toward them, unless our offense comes through loyalty to God and our refusal to participate in those activities which are prohibited by God.
[12](Matthew 5:9) “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Peacemakers are the ones who are themselves at peace with God and live in peace with all men (see Rom 5:1). They are called “the” peacemakers for these are not social reformers, but rather the ones reformed by the regenerating power of the gospel. They are peacemakers because they themselves are at peace with God. They have entered into the peace of Christ and thus are able ambassadors of God’s message of peace to a troubled world. Hence, they shall be called the children of God.

[13](Hebrews 12:14) “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” To follow (Gr diōkō) more precisely means to pursue. This is not a passive role that one just lets happen; it is an active concept that one must strive for. They must pray for a life of peace with both other believers and the world (I Tim 2:1–2); they must labor for it, too (Ps 34:14; Rom 12:18).
[14](James 3:18) “And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” Righteousness appears in those who practice peace. The glaring blemish of evangelical churches is inner turmoil and bickering, yet Christian living depends upon peace.

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