A Commentary by John Stott
Romans 15:8-13. (iv) Because Christ has become a servant (continued).
This truth of the inclusion of Jews and Gentiles in the messianic community Paul now enforces with four Old Testament quotations. In each case he uses the LXX text, and he chooses one from the Law, one from the Prophets and two from the Writings, which are the three divisions of the Old Testament. All four quotations refer both to the Gentiles and to the worship of God, although each contains a slightly different emphasis. In the first, David, though king of Israel, announces his intention to praise God among the Gentiles, although it is not clear whether the nations are to be spectators only or active participants. ‘*Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name*’ (9b = Ps. 18:49; 2 Sam.22:50).
In the second quotation the nations are definitely participants. Moses is represented as summoning them to rejoice in company with God’s people. *Again, it says, ‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people’* (10 = Dt.32:43). In the third quotation the Psalmist also addresses all nations directly and bids them praise Yahweh, repeating the word ‘all’. *And again, ‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples’* (11 = Ps.117:1). Then in the fourth and final verse the prophet Isaiah predicts the rise of the Messiah, descended from David, Jesse’s son, who would rule the nations and win their confidence. *And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him*’(12 = Is.11:10). Thus the Messiah would be simultaneously the root of Jesse and the hope of the nations.
Paul concludes the long doctrinal-ethical section of his letter with another benediction (see verse 5 for the first). *May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him* (13a). The reference to joy and peace recalls the apostle’s definition of the kingdom of God (14:7). Now he adds faith (*as you trust in him*) as the means by which joy and peace grow within us, and he prays that his Roman readers will be filled with both. He also anticipates that this filling will result in an overflowing: *so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit* (13b). The burden of Paul’s earlier benediction (5) was unity with a view to worship; the burden of this one is ‘hope’. He has already expressed his assurance that the Scriptures bring us hope (4). Now he expresses his prayer-wish that *the God of hope* may cause them to *overflow with hope*. Hope of course always looks to the future. And since Paul has just quoted Isaiah’s prophecy that the Messiah will be the object of the Gentiles’ hope (12), we are given a clue as to what hope is in his mind. Paul is looking forward to the time the ‘fulness’ of both Israel and the Gentiles will have come in (11:12, 25), then to the culmination of history with the parousia, and then beyond it to the glory of the new universe which Jews and Gentiles will together inherit. Thus joy, peace, faith and hope are essential Christian qualities. If faith is the means to joy and peace, overflowing hope is their consequence, and all four are due to the power of the Holy Spirit within us.