That I may be ... - The unbelieving Jews in Judea had been opposed to Paul' s conversion. They could not forget that he had borne letters of commission from them to persecute the Christians at Damascus. They regarded him as an apostate. 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. Hence, the apostle could not but be aware that in returning to Judea, he exposed himself to special dangers. His fears, as the result showed, were well founded. They evinced all the opposition to him which he had ever anticipated; Acts 21.
And that my service - My ministry; or the act of service which I am going to perform for them; referring to the contribution which he was bearing for the poor saints at Jerusalem.
For Jerusalem - For the poor Christians in Jerusalem.
May be accepted of the saints - That the poor Christians there may be willing to receive it. The grounds of "doubt" and "hesitation" whether they would be willing to receive this, seem to have been two.
(1) Many, even among Christians, might have had their minds filled with prejudice against the apostle, from the reports constantly in circulation among the Jews, that he was opposing and denouncing the customs of Moses. Hence, in order to satisfy them, when he went up to Jerusalem, he actually performed a "vow," in accordance with the Law of Moses, to show that he did not intend to treat his laws with contempt; Acts 21:22-23, Acts 21:26-27.
(2) Many of the converts from Judaism might be indisposed to receive an offering made by "Gentiles." They might have retained many of their former feelings - that the Gentiles were polluted, and that they ought to have no fellowship with them. Early opinions and prejudices wear off by slow degrees. Christians retain former notions long after their conversion; and often many years are required to teach them enlarged views of Christian charity. It is not wonderful that the Christians in Judea should have been slow to learn all the ennobling lessons of Christian benevolence, surrounded as they were by the institutions of the Jewish religion, and having been themselves educated in the strictest regard for those institutions.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Romans 15:31:
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