YPS Magazine

ISSUE: 2020, Volume 17, Issue 2

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Paul's I am Series

by Andrew Dutton, Liverpool, England

‘I am glad’, Rom. 16. 19

‘For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil’, Rom. 16. 19’.

‘I am glad’ is a familiar expression, usually linked with a pleasing circumstance. It might be used trivially in response to a bright sunny day or said of much more significant events such as exam success, a new job or other notable experiences that give cause for celebration.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines glad as ‘happy about something or grateful for it’. Therefore, it seems to be an emotion dependent on situation. Is this the case for Paul as he states, ‘I am glad’?

We’re going to look at Paul’s circumstances in Romans chapter 16 verse 19 and then look at some lessons from this. But first, let’s consider the use of the word in the New Testament.

 

Gladness in the New Testament – chairo

The King James Version translates the Greek word chairo, Rom.16. 19, into ‘I am glad’. According to my mobile e-sword app, after a search by the Strong’s number for chairo (G5463), there are sixty-eight verses containing this word. Most of the occurrences are translated ‘rejoice’, ‘hail’, ‘joy’, or ‘glad’. The ESV uses ‘I rejoice’ in the Romans passage that we are considering.

Whilst it’s not possible to look at all these references here, a few may help us understand the depth of meaning behind the word.

  • ‘Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord’, John 20. 20. After the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, this meeting with Him must have been an amazing experience for the disciples.
  • ‘And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name’, Acts 5. 41. This was a circumstance that caused rejoicing; it was when the apostles were beaten and ‘commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus’, v. 40. Persecution and opposition led to gladness.
  • ‘As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing’, 2 Cor. 6. 10 NKJV, and ‘Rejoice in the Lord always’, Phil. 4. 4 NKJV, indicate that there is a permanent state of rejoicing for the believer. It is a rejoicing that arises despite suffering and in all circumstances. Many believers experience times of sorrow and pressure yet can rejoice in the promises of God and blessings in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

Gladness in Romans chapter 16

Within the concluding section of Paul’s letter to the Roman believers, he warns them of false teachers, Rom. 16. 17-20. The Epistle has unfolded the doctrine of the gospel methodically, which ‘ye have learned’, v. 17. They are an example to us; it would be a great thing to ‘learn’ and understand the doctrine and teaching of Romans! But it was this doctrine that was being undermined by some false teachers. Paul warns the believers to ‘avoid them’, v. 17.

Not only had the Roman believers ‘learned’, but they had obeyed, v. 19. It is important that the reading and studying of God’s word doesn’t simply end in learning, but that it leads to obedience and full subjection.

It was the obedience of the Romans that caused Paul to say, ‘I am glad therefore on your behalf’; he was rejoicing over them.

But along with his rejoicing and confidence in them, he calls the believers to be ‘wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil’, v. 19. ‘Simple concerning evil’ means innocent of evil. Hendriksen says, ‘they should be wise for the purpose of doing and promoting what is right and should not get “mixed up” with anything that, in God’s sight, is wrong’.  1

I don’t think Paul’s gladness was just an emotional response of happiness. It was rejoicing, with thanksgiving, for how the believers had grown in their knowledge of, and obedience to, the word of God. The rejoicing was mixed with warning and advice to enable them to be preserved and to glorify God.

 

Gladness in practice

We can draw some practical lessons from our study:

  • Circumstances do give cause for specific rejoicing. It’s right for us to be glad when things take place that bring glory to God; salvation of an individual and a believer growing in the things of God are great examples of things to rejoice in. An emotional response is therefore expected.
  • In Paul’s example of Romans chapter 16, gladness isn’t passive; the rejoicing was not his only response. It was mixed with actively providing warning and encouragement to help preserve the believers. When we are glad about the spiritual progress in others, we should be stimulated to provide support that leads to preservation and further growth.
  • Gladness does not mean that difficulty, concern or suffering is absent. Most of the references that we have considered contain some element of difficulty or opposition.
  • What should our attitude be to other believers who are going through times of difficulty and sorrow? Paul teaches that we should ‘Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep’, Rom. 12. 15.

Let us, like Paul, be glad, looking for circumstances to rejoice in with other Christians. May we see times of suffering on account of the gospel as a privilege. But with the Lord’s help, regardless of situations, let us be ‘always rejoicing’, 2 Cor. 6. 10 NKJV.

 

 1 William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary  - Romans, Volume 2: Chapters 9-16, The Banner of Truth, 1981, pg. 512.

 

 

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