Useful Bible Studies > Romans Commentary > chapter 15

Paul's words for this 'gift'

Romans 15:28

Paul's subject in Romans 15:25-28 is a gift that he had collected for the poor Christians in Jerusalem. Paul's choice of words from the Greek language to describe this gift is interesting. He chooses not to use the usual word for a gift anywhere in this passage.

So, in verse 25 he uses the word DIAKONEO, which means to serve. In other words, by means of this gift, Paul is serving Jerusalem's Christians, like someone who serves a meal. His work was like the work of the 7 men who shared the gifts among the poor widows in Acts 6:1-6. We call those men 'Deacons', which comes from this word.

In verse 26, the word is KOINONIA, which means fellowship or friendship. The idea is that, by means of this gift, Christians were sharing together.

In verse 27, Paul uses the word SARKIKOS, which means fleshly or natural things. He contrasts it with PNEUMATIKOS, which means things of the spirit. In other words, Christians have received much more than they can ever give. Their money belongs to this natural world; it cannot last (Matthew 6:19-21). However, they have received life in their spirits that can never end (John 3:16; John 10:10).

Here in verse 28, Paul uses the word KARPOS, the usual word for fruit. In Israel, people gave the first part of their harvest as a special gift to God (Leviticus 23:9-11; Deuteronomy 26:1-11; 2 Kings 4:42-44). Paul was taking to Jerusalem the first major gift from Christians in the new churches that he had established. None of the people in these churches had been Christians before; in fact none of their towns had ever had churches before. It was the first major gift that all these new Christians were giving to God. That fact made this gift very special.

Next part: A full blessing (Romans 15:29)


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© 2018, Keith Simons.