“Contribution for the Poor Saints” (Romans 15:25-26)
The letter to the diverse city of Rome by the apostle Paul is heavily concerned with the unification of both Jew and Gentile. A quick walk through the book helps us realize the overarching purpose of Paul’s work.
• Paul declares both Jew and Gentile are sinners and both must realize, without divine intervention, they are under the sentence of God’s wrath (Romans 1:18-3:23).
• Yet, Paul encourages both parties by revealing a plan for justification has been made available by God through faith in Jesus (Romans 3:21-5:21).
• God calls both Jew and Gentile to die to their own sins, their commitment to the old law, and the deeds of their flesh if they will have new life (Romans 6:1-8:39).
• This opportunity for new life is available to all. All can become the children of promise in this predetermined plan of God (Romans 9:1-11:36).
• However, God expects a commitment of surrender and self-sacrifice from every believer in the family of God (Romans 12:1-15:13).
In brief, the unification of Jew and Gentile in Jesus Christ is a compelling theme of Paul as he writes this letter. So, what was one way he hoped to accomplish a deeper unity amongst Jews and Gentiles? Romans 15:25-26 reveals one such method: Gentiles helping Jewish saints in need as a fruit of their love and common faith in Jesus. Notice the text...
Romans 15:25-26, “But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. 26 For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem” (NKJV).
Paul’s statement in verse 25, “I am going to Jerusalem” helps us date the Roman letter. It takes place at the tail end of Paul’s third journey and just prior to his fourth journey. He had been planning this trip to Jerusalem as he had witnessed the friction which still existed between Jews and Gentiles and was a demonstrative voice in striving to end the strife (Acts 15:1-2; Galatians 2:11-14). He had already debated the issue with the church at Jerusalem and rebuked Peter for his sinful attitude toward his Gentile brethren. So, what was the method he wanted to use now to unite these groups?
First, he wanted the Jewish converts (saints) in Jerusalem to know he was aware of their poverty and needs (15:25-26). Yet, moreover, he wanted the Jerusalem saints to know their Gentile brethren were “pleased” to help (cp. 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8-9). These Gentile saints’ noble intent was to make a goodwill offering for the very Jewish converts who were furthering a divisive policy towards the Gentiles. It is difficult to hate someone who voluntarily extends a helping hand. How exemplary! Neglect would only have broadened the divide. May we have eyes to see how love can be magnified and the bonds of our union strengthened when we make a “contribution for the poor saints.”