"join me in prayer ..... that my ministry to Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God's will I may come to you with joy ..." (Rom 15:31-32)."ministry"( here probably refers to the collection, at least in part, given Rom 15:25. Many conclude from this that Paul thought that his collection might be rejected by the Jerusalem church. The theory is that the Jerusalem Christians might refuse to accept the money because it came from uncircumcised men.
This interpretation, which is very common, is one of the pillars of the view that Paul and the Jerusalem church leaders were in conflict over the place of Gentiles in the church. Here, however, are some counter arguments, not all of which have equal strength.
1) It would have been immodest for Paul to write "join me in prayer .... that my gift to Jerusalem may be impressive to the saints". He may therefore have chosen the phrase "acceptable to the saints" for modesty. When people give money they often underplay its potential impact by saying things like, "I hope it will make a small difference", when they actually mean "I hope it will make a big difference". Therefore, isn't it possible that Paul was hopeful that the collection would be a spectacular success, but worried that it might merely be a OK? The text need not be telling us that Paul was contemplating the possibility that the collection would be a failure or be rejected.
2) If Paul's ministry in Jerusalem is indeed "acceptable to the saints" he will come to Rome "with joy" ( . Paul's choice of words here shows that he was more optimistic than is often supposed. If he was hoping that the collection would be merely acceptable we would expect him to write "with relief", not "with joy".
3) There is no hint of foreboding in Rom 15:28-29
So, when I have completed this, and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will set out by way of you to Spain; and I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.Nor is there any foreboding elsewhere. Indeed, in 2 Cor 9:11-15 Paul seems confident that the collection will be well received.
4) Why do commentators assume that the donors' foreskins were the only possible impediment to the triumph of the collection? Are there not other things that could have taken the shine off the collection? Perhaps Paul worried that the Jerusalem believers might think that the quantity of money, though generous, was not consistent with Jesus' radical teaching on giving. Perhaps he was concerned that there might be disputes about how he distributed the money. Perhaps the recipients might grumble that they had expected the collection earlier. Perhaps he worried that the amount of poverty in the Judean churches was more than he expected and that the funds would then be insufficient. There are all sorts of reasons why it was impossible for Paul to predict how successful the collection would be. The commentators' assumption that theological disputes were at the front of Paul's mind say more about the commentators' interests than about the text, in my opinion.
5) Jews often received financial support from gentiles, without objection. Indeed, the Jerusalem church leaders had asked Paul to "remember the poor" (Gal 2:10), so it is hard to imagine that they would have objected when he did so.
6) Those in poverty do not quibble about the ideology of those who offer them aid. Has anyone cited a precedent for this kind of thing?
7) Only the most uncompromising, vehement, opponents of Paul's theology would even consider rejecting his collection. It is at least questionable whether Paul would use the word "saints" to describe such people. Paul uses the word only in a very positive sense.
8) It is far from certain that there were any Christians in Judea who opposed Paul's inclusion of uncircumcised Gentiles. There were many who were zealous that the Law be observed by Jews, but we have no evidence that they wanted Gentile Christians to observe the Law too (Acts 21:20-21).