Romans 15:25-33

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

December 15, 1999


Paul is wrapping up his letter.

:25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.

to ministerdiakoneo – to be a servant, attendant, domestic, to serve, wait upon; to minister i.e. supply food and necessities of life; to attend to anything, that may serve another's interests; to minister a thing to one, to serve one or by supplying any thing

saintshagios – most holy thing, a saint. This is simply what Paul is calling the Christians who live in Jerusalem. He’s not talking about some special class of Christian, who has a shiny ring floating above his head.

:26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.

it hath pleasedeudokeo – it seems good to one, is one's good pleasure; think it good, choose, determine, decide; to do willingly; to be well pleased with, take pleasure in, to be favorably inclined towards one

contributionkoinonia – fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse; the share which one has in anything, participation; fellowship, intimacy; a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, as exhibiting an embodiment and proof of fellowship

poorptochos – reduced to beggary, begging, asking alms; destitute of wealth, influence, position, honour; poor, needy

Paul has been going through the Gentile churches and taking an offering to send to the church in Jerusalem, which was in the middle of a famine.

:27 It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.

pleased them verilyeudokeo – it seems good to one, is one's good pleasure; think it good, choose, determine, decide; to do willingly; to be well pleased with, take pleasure in, to be favorably inclined towards one

debtorsopheiletes – one who owes another, a debtor; one held by some obligation, bound by some duty

spiritual thingspneumatikos – relating to spirit; human spirit; belonging to a spirit, or a being higher than man but inferior to God; belonging to the Divine Spirit

made partakerskoinoneo – to come into communion or fellowship with, to become a sharer, be made a partner; to enter into fellowship, join one's self to an associate, make one's self a sharer or partner

dutyopheilo – to owe; to owe money, be in debt for

to ministerleitourgeo – to serve the state at one's own cost; to assume an office which must be administered at one's own expense; to do a service, perform a work; of priests and Levites who were busied with the sacred rites in the tabernacle or the temple; of Christians serving Christ, whether by prayer, or by instructing others concerning the way of salvation, or in some other way; of those who aid others with their resources, and relieve their poverty

carnalsarkikos – fleshly, carnal; having the nature of flesh, i.e. under the control of the animal appetites; pertaining to the flesh; to the body. Though this word usually has a negative connotation in relating to the human sin nature, here it merely refers to things that relate to a person’s physical body.

Lessons in Giving

Spiritual benefit obligates physical support.

Paul is saying that since the Gentiles owe their salvation to the Jerusalem church, they have a debt, an obligation to support them.

Sadly, many don’t understand the importance of giving. Some churches place a heavy emphasis on giving, with yearly drives to encourage the people to tithe. Some people have a hard time with this. It is my understanding that a number of years ago, First Baptist Church of Van Nuys decided to kick out all those in the church that spoke in tongues. The following week, Jack Hayford’s church, Church on the Way, doubled in their attendance from 1,000 people to 2,000 people. But their income tripled!. You have to hand it to the Baptists, they do teach their people about giving.

It’s sad, but the statistics show that a very, very small portion of the people going to a church do the majority of the giving that supports the church. Some people have the idea that giving to a church is like going to a movie. If they’re entertained, they’ll put a twenty in the offering.


How much do I give?

It’s strange how churches try to motivate their people to give:


One Sunday a pastor told his congregation that the church needed some extra money and asked the people to prayerfully consider giving a little extra in the offering plate. He said that whoever gave the most would be able to pick out three hymns. After the offering plates were passed, the pastor glanced down and noticed that someone had placed a $1,000 bill in the offering. He was so excited that he immediately shared his joy with his congregation and said he’d like to personally thank the person who placed the money in the plate. A very quiet, elderly, saintly lady all the way in the back shyly raised her hand. The pastor asked her to come to the front. Slowly she made her way to the pastor. He told her how wonderful it was that she gave so much and in thanksgiving asked her to pick out three hymns. Her eyes brightened as she looked over the congregation, pointed to the three handsomest men in the building and said, "I’ll take him and him and him."

We can learn by looking at what Paul wrote to the Corinthians regarding this very same offering that he was collecting for the saints in Jerusalem:

(2 Cor 8:1-5 KJV) Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; {2} How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. {3} For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; {4} Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. {5} And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

The people in Macedonia weren’t as wealthy as the Corinthians church. They even had great trials. But they still gave, even begging Paul for the opportunity to do so.

The key to their giving was that before they even talked about giving money, they gave themselves to the Lord.

Proper giving starts by making sure your heart is right.

(2 Cor 9:1-8 KJV) For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: {2} For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many. {3} Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready: {4} Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting. {5} Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up before hand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness. {6} But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. {7} Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. {8} And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

Paul is kind of laying a guilt trip on the Corinthians, making sure that they help out with the offering to Jerusalem.

The next step in giving is to "purpose in your heart", that means that you need to be letting God show you how much to give.

God doesn’t want you to be giving because of somebody twisting your arm. God doesn’t want you to be giving when you don’t want to give. God wants you giving out of a heart of joy.

But how much?

You need to learn to hear from God.

I think there are some principles that can be helpful.

The Bible talks a lot about the "tithe". A "tithe" is a tenth, a tenth of your income.

Some have suggested that this is an "Old Testament" thing, and that we shouldn’t be bound to it in the New Testament. People who say this are usually trying to wiggle out of any obligation at all. There are two problems with this view.

First, the New Testament standard of giving could properly be the person that Jesus said was a great giver. That was the widow woman who gave the two little coins (Mark 12:42-44). Even though she only gave two cents’ worth, the thing Jesus commended was that she gave everything she had, and not just what was convenient to her.

Second, the tithe is actually a "pre-Old Testament" thing. It existed before Moses was given the Law. Abraham paid a "tithe" to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:20). By saying that we’re not "under the law" doesn’t exclude us from considering the tithe.

I think that a "tithe" is a valid place to start. But you need to take time to listen to God.


A man called at the church and asked if he could speak to the Head Hog at the Trough. The secretary said, "Who?"

The man replied, "I want to speak to the Head Hog at the Trough!"

Sure now that she had heard correctly, the secretary said, "Sir, if you mean our pastor, you will have to treat him with more respect—and ask for ‘The Reverend’ or ‘The Pastor.’ But certainly you cannot refer to him as the Head Hog at the Trough!"

At this, the man came back, "Oh, I see. Well, I have ten thousand dollars I was thinking about donating to the Building Fund."

Secretary: "Hold the line—I think the Big Pig just walked in the door."

(sorry, just had to throw that one in!)

--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 463.

:28 When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit,

performedepiteleo – to bring to an end, accomplish, perfect, execute, complete

sealedsphragizo – to set a seal upon, mark with a seal, to seal. In those days, a merchant who traveled the world buying goods to ship back home would put his "seal" on a shipment by pressing his ring on a wax melted on the object. The "seal" would prove that the shipment belonged to him when he claimed the merchandise at the receiving port.

:28 I will come by you into Spain.

We talked last week how Paul had fully intended to go to Spain to preach the gospel. He was hoping to stop off in Rome to see the people there on his way to Spain.

:29 And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.

fulnesspleroma – that which is (has been) filled; a ship inasmuch as it is filled (i.e. manned) with sailors, rowers, and soldiers; in the NT, the body of believers, as that which is filled with the presence, power, agency, riches of God and of Christ; of those things which a ship is filled, freight and merchandise, sailors, oarsmen, soldiers; fulness, abundance

the blessingeulogia – praise, laudation; an invocation of blessing, benediction; a (concrete) blessing, benefit

gospeleuaggelion – a reward for good tidings; good tidings; the glad tidings of salvation through Christ; the gospel

: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;

beseechparakaleo – to call to one's side, call for, summon; to admonish, exhort; to beg, entreat, beseech; to encourage, strengthen

for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake – better translation, "by our Lord Jesus Christ"

for the love of the Spirit – better translation, "by the love of the Spirit"

loveagape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence

strive togethersunagonizomai – to strive together with one, to help one in striving; from sun, "together" + agonizomai – to enter a contest: contend in the gymnastic games; to contend with adversaries, fight; metaph. to contend, struggle, with difficulties and dangers; to endeavor with strenuous zeal, strive: to obtain something

prayersproseuche – prayer addressed to God; containing an element of devotion; a general kind of prayer rather than focusing on specific requests or needs.

Lessons in prayer

1. Prayer should be asked for.

Paul "beseeches" the people. He’s begging them to pray for him.

Don’t be ashamed of asking for prayer. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, "If God wants me to get prayed for, then He’ll put me on someone’s heart. That may be true sometimes, but some of us don’t always hear everything God says and we might get the message a little better if you’d share it. I’ve had people upset with me because I didn’t do something that they were hoping for, and I didn’t read their mind. Don’t think it. Ask for it. Ask to be prayed for.

2. Prayer works because of Jesus

It’s because of Jesus’ death on the cross that we can even approach God in prayer and expect to be heard.

Our sin acts as a natural barrier between us and God. David wrote,

(Psa 66:18 KJV) If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

Jesus died to take away that barrier. He paid the price for our sin, opening up the lines of communication between us and God.

3. Prayer is motivated by love from the Spirit

I think that if our prayers aren’t motivated by love, they aren’t worth a whole lot. Paul said,

(1 Cor 13:2 NASB) And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

What do I do if I don’t have a lot of love for the person I’m praying for?

Pray for them. I also have a hard time thinking that you can honestly keep praying for someone and start loving them.

4. Prayer is to the Father

Did you notice that the entire Trinity is in this verse? The Son, the Spirit, the Father.

It’s okay to pray to Jesus or the Spirit, but generally our prayers are addressed to the Father.

Jesus taught us:

(Mat 6:9 KJV) After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

5. Prayer is hard work.

It is agonizing work. That’s the Greek word used here.

I think that sometimes we get disillusioned about prayer because when we find out how difficult it is to do, we think that there’s something wrong with us.

Prayer is simply difficult.

You will find that when you determine to set aside time to pray, you will find all kinds of things to distract you or stop you.

You will find that when you are actually praying, your mind will wander.

You will find that when you are actually concentrating on what you are praying, that often times it seems like you just don’t know what exactly to say.

You will find that when you pray you will be asking yourself, "Is this doing any good?" "How come I don’t see an immediate response?"

There is a sense in which prayer ought to result in peace (Phil 4:6-7) and an easing of our burdens (1Pe. 5:7). But there’s also plenty of evidence that prayer can just be hard work.

(Col 4:12 KJV) 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.

6. Prayer is to be in agreement.

It’s agonizing together with each other in prayer. It’s just not up to one person to be praying, we ought to be praying together. When you ask someone for prayer, don’t just sit back and let them pray, join in! God wants to hear from you as well!

Jesus said,

(Mat 18:19 KJV) Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

: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;

Here’s Paul’s request.

be deliveredrhoumai – to draw to one's self, to rescue, to deliver. Probably from the word rheo meaning "to flow", the idea being caught up in the current of a river and whisked away.

do not believeapeitheo – not to allow one's self to be persuaded; to refuse or withhold belief

servicediakonia – service, ministering, esp. of those who execute the commands of others. Basically the same word used in verse 25, "to minister to the saints".

may be acceptedeuprosdektos – well received, accepted, acceptable. This is the same word used by Paul in –

Ro 15:16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

There the idea was that the Gentiles were the gift being acceptable to God, here the idea is the money is the gift acceptable to the church.


Seeing the answers to prayer

Paul’s prayer request had several elements –

1. His personal safety

(Acts 21:27-33 KJV) And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him, {28} Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place. {29} (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.) {30} And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut. {31} And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. {32} Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul. {33} Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done.

Was Paul "delivered" from the "unpersuaded" Jews? These people stirred up a riot when they found out Paul was in Jerusalem. God "delivered" Paul by sending in the Roman police before Paul was beaten to death by the mob. Paul’s "deliverance" also involved ending up in prison for a couple of years before being transported to Rome.

2. That the Jerusalem church will be blessed with the offering.

(Acts 21:17-20 KJV) And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. {18} And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. {19} And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. {20} And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord …

Was the church blessed with the offering? We aren’t told about the offering specifically, but it would seem that it was included in what "God had wrought among the Gentiles". The church was blessed. They glorified God.

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

joychara – joy, gladness

the willthelema – what one wishes or has determined shall be done; will, choice, inclination, desire, pleasure

with you be refreshedsunanapauomai – to take rest together with; to sleep together with, to lie with; metaph. to rest or refresh one's spirits with one (i.e. to give and get refreshment by mutual intercourse)


Answers to prayer (cont’d)

Paul also prayed that he would –

Come to them with joy

To be refreshed

(Acts 28:13-15 KJV) And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli: {14} Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome. {15} And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.

Did Paul have joy when he got to Rome? He was thankful.

Was he refreshed? He "took courage" when he saw the Christians from Rome.

Was it God’s will for Paul to go to Rome? Absolutely. He made it to Rome. Just not the way the Paul had probably envisioned.

Be flexible in how God may actually fulfill His will in your life.

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

peaceeirene – a state of national tranquillity; peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord; security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous)

Who God is to Paul –

(Rom 15:5 KJV) Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:

(Rom 15:13 KJV) Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

(Rom 15:33 KJV) Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Our God is pretty wonderful!!!