Romans 1 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Romans 1
Pulpit Commentary
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
Verse 1. - Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle. In his salutations to the Philippians and to Titus also St. Paul calls himself δοῦλος (i.e. "bondservant") of Jesus Christ; but usually only ἀπόστολος, or, as here, κλητὸς ἀπόστολος, which is rightly translated in the Authorized Version, "called to be an apostle," Divine vocation to the office being the prominent idea. St. Paul often elsewhere insists on the reality of his vocation from Christ himself to be an apostle to the Gentiles; and this with regard to disparagement of his claim to be a true apostle at all on the part of some (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:1; 2 Corinthians 11:5; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Galatians 1:1, 12; Galatians 2:8). It does not follow from his thus asserting his claim here and afterwards in this Epistle that he was aware of any disparagement of it at that time among the Roman Christians; still less that he wrote his Epistle with a polemical purpose against the Judaizers, as some have supposed. Still, he may have suspected that some might possibly have been busy there, as they were in other places; and, however that might be, writing as he was to a Church not founded by, and as yet unvisited by, himself, he might think distinct assertions of his claim to be heard desirable. Separated (or, set apart) unto the gospel of God; i.e. to the preaching of the gospel, not the reception of it only, as is evident from the context. The word ἀφωρίσμενος here, as well as the previous κλητὸς, is best taken, in pursuance of the line of thought, as referring to the Divine counsels, not to the agency of the Church. It is true that the word is elsewhere used with the latter reference, as in Acts 13:2, Ἀφορίσατε δὴ μοι τόν τε Βαρνάβαν καὶ τὸν, Σαῦλον εἰς τὸ ἔργον ο} ππροσκέκλημαι αὐτούς, where the ἀφορισμὸς spoken of was subsequent to the Divine κλῆσις, and effected by human laying on of hands. But we have also St. Paul's own words (Galatians 1:15), Ὁ Θεὸς ὁ ἀφόρρισας με ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός μου καὶ καλίσας διὰ τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ, where the ἀφορισμὸς is that of God's eternal purpose, and previous to the κλῆσις (cf. Acts 9:15 and Acts 26:16, 17).
(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)
Verse 2. - Which he promised before through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures concerning his Son. Here the parenthetical passage begins, extending to the end of ver. 6. It is unnecessary to complicate it by connecting περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ with the previous εὐαγγέλιον Θεοῦ. It goes more naturally with προεπηγγείλατο, denoting the subject of the Old Testament promises. By προφητῶν are meant not only the sacred writers distinctively so called, but (as in Hebrews 1:1) all who spoke of old under Divine inspiration, as by γραφαῖς ἁγίαις is signified the Old Testament generally. This intimation of the gospel being the fulfilment of prophecy is fitly introduced here, as preparing the reader for the argument of the Epistle, in the course of which the doctrine propounded is shown to be in accordance with the Old Testament, and in fact anticipated therein. This is, indeed, a prominent point in the general teaching of apostles and evangelists. They announce the gospel as the fulfilment of prophecy, and the true completion of all the ancient dispensation; and it is to the Old Testament that, in addressing Israelites, they ever in the first place appeal. Thus St. Peter (Acts 2:14; Acts 3:18; Acts 4:11); thus Stephen (Acts 7.); thus St. Paul at Antioch in Pisidia, at Thessalonica, and before Agrippa (Acts 13:16; Acts 17:2; Acts 26:6, 22); thus Philip to the Ethiopian proselyte (Acts 8:35); thus Apollos at Corinth (Acts 18:28). Our Lord himself had done the same, as in Matthew 5:17; Luke 4:21; Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39. All this is important as showing how the old and new dispensations are regarded together as parts of a whole, the old one being but the needful preparation for a fulfilment in the new, and so becoming intelligible; and thus how "through all the ages one eternal purpose runs." There was also a providential preparation in the Gentile world, though not so direct and obvious, and though, of course, not similarly noticed in addresses to disciples of the Law. But St. Paul intimates it; as in his speech on Areopagus, and also, as will be seen, in this Epistle. Even the gospel (it may be further observed) is set forth as but a further stage of progress towards a final consummation, as the dawn only of a coming daybreak. We have still but an earnest of our inheritance; the "earnest expectation of the creature" still awaits "the manifestation of the sons of God." Meanwhile, in the revelation already made through Christ, and the redemption accomplished by him, we are taught to cling to our faith in a Divine purpose throughout the world's perplexing history - that of resolving at last all discords into eternal harmony, and making manifest "one great love, embracing all." This grand view of a providential order leading to a final consummation (though how and when we know not) pervades St. Paul's writings, and should be kept in mind for a proper understanding of this Epistle. God's promises through his prophets in Holy Scripture are said to have been "concerning his Son;" and a question hence arises as to the exact sense in which "his Son" is to be here understood; a consideration of which question may help our interpretation of the expression in the following verse, which is not without difficulty, Τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ Θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει. We may distinguish between three senses in which Christ is called "the Son of God."

(1) With reference to his Divine pre-existence, the term expressing his relation to the Father from eternity, like the Λόγος (and probably the μονογενὴς υἱὸς) of St. John.

(2) With reference to his incarnation, as being conceived by the Holy Ghost; as in Luke 1:35, Διὸ καὶ τὸ γεννώμενον α{γιον κληθήσεται υἱὸς Θεοῦ.

(3) With reference to the position assigned to the Messiah in psalm and prophecy, as the Son exalted to the right hand of God, and crowned with glory. It is with the last of these three references that the title is used in the Epistle to the Hebrews; where the ideal of sonship, found in the Old Testament, and imperfectly typified by the theoretic position of the theocratic kings, is regarded as prophetic, and pointing to Christ, in whom alone it is shown to be fulfilled. Hence in that Epistle his exaltation to the rank and dignity of Son is regarded as subsequent to his human obedience, and even the consequence and reward of it. It was "because of the suffering of death (διὰ τὸ πάθημα θανάτου)" that he has been "crowned with glory and honour" (Hebrews 2:9); it was after he had made a purification of sins that he "sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high," having "inherited" that "more excellent name" - the name of Son (Hebrews 1:4). It is by no means implied that the said Epistle does not recognize a true Sonship of Christ before his exaltation; he was all along "the Son" (cf. Hebrews 5:7, Καίπερ ὤν υἱὸς ἔμαθεν, etc.), though not enthroned as such over mankind and all creation till after his resurrection; and, further, the essential doctrine of his pre-existent and eternal Sonship. in the first of the senses noted above, is distinctly taught (as in ch. 1:3), though not there by the use of the term "Son." All we say is that this word is used in the Epistle to the Hebrews to denote Christ's position and office as the royal High Priest of humanity, exalted, after suffering, to the right hand of God, rather than his original Divine Personality; such being the significance of the title in the prophetic anticipations of the Messiah. Now, this being so, and it being the promises made "through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures concerning his Son" that are being spoken of in the passage before us, it may seem at first most probable that the idea here implied by the word "Son" is the same as in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and no more. We ought, however, to take further into account what St. Paul himself seems to signify by the term when he uses it elsewhere. It does not follow that his own conception of its significance was confined to what was apparent in "the prophets." Reading them in the light of the gospel revelation, he may have seen in their language more implied than it distinctly expressed, and himself intended to imply more. The passages in his Epistles, apart from this chapter, where Christ is called God's Son are these:

(1) Romans 5:10, "We were reconciled to God through the death of his Son;"

(2) Romans 8:3, "Sending his own Son (τὸν ἑαυτοῦ υἱὸν) in the likeness of flesh of sin;"

(3) Romans 8:29, "To be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the Firstborn among many brethren;"

(4) Romans 8:32, "Spared not his own Son (τοῦ ἰδίοῦ υἱοῦ);"

(5) 2 Corinthians 1:19, "The Son of God... was not Yea and Nay;"

(6) Galatians 4:4, 6, "God sent forth his Son," - "sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father;"

(7) Colossians 1:13, "Translates us into the kingdom of the Son of his love." In all these passages - except (3), in which the reference may be only to Christ in glory - the term "Son" denotes a relation (o the Father, peculiar to our Lord, previous to the death and exaltation, and in some of them, (2), (6), (7), previous to the Incarnation. Such previous relation is especially apparent in the sequence to (7), where "the Son of his love" is defined not only as "the Head of the body, the Church," and "the Firstborn from the dead," but also as "the Image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of all creation; for in him all things were created, the things in heaven, and the things on the earth, the things visible and the things invisible; all things through him and unto him have been created." With this may be compared Philippians 2:6-12, where an existence ἐν μορφῇ Θεοῦ, anterior to incarnation, is undoubtedly declared, though the exaltation after human obedience, and the receiving then of "a name that is above every name" (cf. Hebrews 1:4), is spoken of as well. One other passage remains to be noticed, occurring, not in an Epistle, but in the sermon at Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:33), where the view of Christ's Sonship which is found in the Epistle to the Hebrews (no more being expressed) appears as present to St. Paul's mind. For there God is said to have "fulfilled the promise which was made unto the fathers, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the psalm, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." Here the Sonship assigned to "the Christ" in the second psalm is regarded as exhibited in the Resurrection. From this review of St. Paul's usage it may be inferred that περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ in the text before us carries with it in his own mind the idea of pre-existent eternal Sonship, though what we may call Messianic Sonship may be all he means distinctly to intimate as declared by prophets. The bearing of this distinction on the interpretation of ver. 4 will appear under it. It may be observed here that the absence of a fixed and definite usage in the application of the term "Son" to Christ, which (as has been seen) is found in the New Testament, is what might be expected there. Formal definitions of theological conceptions by means of language used uniformly in a recognized definite sense had not as yet been made. Among such conceptions that of the Holy Trinity though implied, is nowhere distinctly formulated as a dogma. It was reserved for the Church, under the guidance of the Spirit, to preclude misconception by precise dogmatic definitions.
Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
Verse 3. Which was made; or, was born. But the word in itself, γενομένου, need only mean that he became a Man of the seed of David; implying, it would seem, a pre-existence of him who so became. This, however, is more evident from other passages, in which ω}ν, or ὑπάρχων, is opposed to γενόμενος (cf. John 1:1, 14; Philippians 2:6, 7; cf. also Galatians 4:4, Ἐξαπέστειλεν ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ υἱὸν αὐτοῦ γενόμενον ἐκ γυναικὸς). Of the seed of David according to the flesh. Κατὰ σάρκα is here, as elsewhere, contrasted with κατὰ πνεῦμα. Here κατὰ σάρκα denotes the merely human descent of Jesus in distinction from his Divine Being (cf. Acts 2:40; Romans 9:3, 5; 2 Corinthians 5:16). His having come humanly "of the seed of David" is suitably noted here, where "the Son" is being set forth as fulfilling the Old Testament promises; for they uniformly represent the Messiah as thus descended, and it was essential to the Jewish conception of him that he should be so (cf. Matthew 22:42; John 7:42; and for the stress laid by the writers of the New Testament on the fact that Jesus was so - of which fact no doubt was entertained - cf. Hebrews 7:14, πρόδηλον γὰρ, etc. See, among many other passages, Matthew 1:1; Luke 2:4, 5; Acts 2:30; Acts 13:23; 2 Timothy 2:8). Meyer, commenting on the verse before us, goes somewhat out of his way to set forth that only Joseph's, not Mary's, descent from David was in St. Paul's mind, saying that "the Davidic descent of the mother of Jesus can by no means be established from the New Testament," and also that "Paul nowhere indicates the view of a supernatural generation of the bodily nature of Jesus." As to the first of these assertions, it may be observed that, in the opening chapters of our Gospel of St. Luke (representing certainly the early belief of the Church) our Lord seems to be regarded as actually descended from David - not legally so accounted only - though, at the same time, his supernatural generation is distinctly asserted (comp. Luke 1:32 with Luke 1:35). Hence we are led to infer Mary's, as well as Joseph's, descent from David, whether or not either of the genealogies given in St. Matthew's and St. Luke's Gospels represents hers. Further, with respect to those two genealogies (evidently independent ones, and both probably got from genealogical records preserved at Jerusalem), a probable way of accounting for the two distinct lines of descent through which Joseph seems to be traced to David, is to suppose one of them to be really Mary's, the legal representative of whose family Joseph had become by marriage, so as to be entered in legal documents as the son of her father (see art. on "Genealogy of Jesus Christ," in 'Dictionary of the Bible,' W. Smith, LL.D.). As to Meyer's second assertion above alluded to, it is true that St. Paul nowhere refers to our Lord's supernatural conception spoken of in the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke. But it does not follow that it was not already included in the Church's creed, or that St. Paul himself was unaware of it or disbelieved it. This is not the place for enlarging on the evidence, at the present day increasing in force, of the early origin of our existing Gospels, and of their being a true embodiment of the Church's original belief. St. Paul's silence as to the manner how the Son of God became incarnate may be accounted for by his not having had occasion, in his extant Epistles, to speak of it. He is occupied, in accordance with his peculiar mission, in setting forth the meaning and purpose of the Incarnation rather than its mode, and in preaching rather than catechetical instruction; and on the essential idea involved he is sufficiently explicit, viz. the peculiar Divine paternity of Christ, notwithstanding the human birth.
And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
Verse 4. - Who was declared (so Authorized Version) the Son of God with (literally, in) power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection of (not as in Authorized Version, from) the dead. Supposing the intention here to be to declare the Son's essential Deity, notwithstanding his human birth, we might have expected ὄντος after the γενομένου preceding. But the word used is ὁρισθέντος; and, further, the Resurrection is referred to, not a pre-existent state. The verb ὁρίζειν means properly to "appoint" or "determine;" and if this meaning be re-mined, the whole passage would seem to preclude the idea of Sonship previous to the Resurrection being in view. Hence commentators ancient and modern agree generally in assigning an unusual meaning to ὁρισθέντος-here, making it signify "declared," as in the Authorized Version. So Chrysostom, Τί οῦν ἔστιν ὁρισθέντος; τοῦ δειχθέντος, ἀποφανθέντος κριθέντος δυολογηθέντος παρὰ τῆς ἀπάντων γνώμης καὶ ψήφου (Hom. 2 p. 432, D). It is maintained that this use of the word, though unusual, is legitimate; since a person may be said to be appointed, or determined, to be what he already is, when his being such is declared and manifested. Thus, it may be said, a king may be spoken of as appointed king when he is crowned, though he was king before; or a saint determined a saint when he is canonized; and the classical phrase, ὁρίζειν τινὰ Θεόν, in the sense of deify, is adduced as parallel. Thus the expression is made to mean that "the same who κατὰ σάρκα was known only as the descendant of David, is now declared to be the Son of God" (Tholuck); Ὅριζεται δὲ εἰς υἰὸν καὶ κατὰ τὸ ἀνβρώπινον (Cyril); and St. Paul's reason for thus putting it, in pursuance of his course of thought, is thus explained by Meyer; "Paul gives the two main epochs in the history of the Son of God as they had actually occurred, and had been prophetically announced;" also by Bengel thus, "Etiam ante exinanitionem suam Filius Dei is quidem fuit: sed exinanitione filiatio occultata fuit, et plene demure retecta post resurrectionem." This interpretation would be more satisfactory than it is if the verb ὁρίζειν were found similarly used in any other part of the New Testament. It occurs in the following passages, and always in its proper and usual sense: Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23; Acts 10:42; Acts 11:29; Acts 17:26, 31; Hebrews 4:7. Of these especially significant are Acts 10:42 (Ὅτι αὐτός ἔστιν ὁ ὡρισμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ κριτὴς ζώντων καὶ νεκρῶν) and Acts 17:31 (Διότι ἔστησεν ἡμέραν ἐν ῇ μέλλει κρίνειν τὴν οἰκουμένην ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ ἐν ἀνδρὶ ῷ ὥρισε, πίστιν παρασχὼν πᾶσιν ἀναστήσας αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν). In both of these texts the word denotes God's appointment or determination of Christ to the office of Judge, not merely a declaration or manifestation of his already being so; and it is to be observed that in the second the language is given as that of St. Paul himself, and that it corresponds with the passage before us in that the Resurrection is spoken of as the display to the world of Christ being so appointed or determined. Surely, then, there ought to be cogent reason for giving ὁρισθέντος a different meaning here; and, in spite of the weight of authority on the other side, it is submitted that we are under no necessity to do so, if we bear in mind what appeared under ver. 3 as to the different senses in which Christ is designated Υἱὸς Θεοῦ. In the sense apparent is Messianic prophecy, and pervading the Epistle to the Hebrews, in the sense which seems intended by St. Paul himself in Acts 13:32, 33, it was not till after the Resurrection that Christ attained his position of royal Sonship; it was then that the Divine ὁρισμὸς took effect in that regard. It is true that St. Paul (as was seen under ver. 3) himself conceived of Christ as essentially Son of God from eternity; but here, while speaking of the fulfilment of Messianic prophecy, and desiring to point out what was patent to all who believed that Christ had risen, he may fitly refer to his exaltation only, in virtue of which, further, he had himself received his apostolic commission, of which he proceeds to speak, and the assertion which he has had all along in view. The above interpretation of ὁρισθέντος appears, further, to have the weighty support of Pearson, who, speaking of Christ's fourfold right unto the title of "the Son of God" - by generation, as begotten of God; by commission, as sent by him; by resurrection, as the Firstborn; by actual possession, as Heir of all - refers thus to Romans 1:4: 'Thus was he defined, or constituted, and 'appointed to be the Son of God with power by the Resurrection from the dead'", (Pearson on the Creed, art. 2.). Ἐν δυνάμει (to be connected with ὁρισθέντος) denotes the Divine power displayed in the Resurrection (cf. Ephesians 1:19, "the exceeding greatness of his power,... according to the working of the strength of his might, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead;" cf. also 1 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 15:43; 2 Corinthians 13:4). In the last two of these passages, power evidenced in resurrection is contrasted with human weakness evidenced in death: Σπείρεται ἐν ἀσθενειά ἐγείρεται ἐν δυνάμει Καὶ γὰρ εἴ ἐσταυρώθη ἐξ ἀσθενείας ἀλλὰ ζῆ ἐκ δυνάμεως. Το κατὰ σάρκα in ver. 3 is opposed, not simply κατὰ πνεῦμα, but κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσὑνης (the spirit of holiness), so as to denote the Divine element that was all along in the Incarnate Son, in virtue of which he rose triumphant over human ἀσθένεια. We too are composed of σάρξ and πνεῦμα; but the πνεῦμα in Christ was one of absolute holiness - the holiness of Deity; not ἁγιότης, holiness in the abstract, attributed to Deity (Hebrews 12:10), nor ἁγιασμὸς "sanctification," of which man is capable; but ἁγιωσύνη, an inherent quality of Divine holiness ("Quasi tres sint gradus, sanctificatio, sanctimonia, sanctitas," Bengel). Because of this "spirit of holiness" that was in Christ, "it was not possible that he should be holden of" death (Acts 2:24). Through this, which was in himself - not merely through a Divine power external to himself calling him from the grave, as he had called Lazarus - he overcame death (cf. Acts 2:27; Acts 13:35, "Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption"). It was through this too (διὰ πνεύματος αἰωνίου) that he "offered himself without spot to God" (Hebrews 9:14); and in the same sense may be understood ἐδικαιώθη ἐν πνεύματι (1 Timothy 3:16). Neither in these passages nor in the one before us is the Holy Spirit meant, in the sense of a distinct Person of the Holy Trinity. Further, the preposition in ἐξ ἀναστάσεως does not denote (as explained by Theodoret, Luther, and Grotius) the time from which the ὁρισμὸς began in the sense of ἐξ οῦ ἀνέστη, but the source out of which it proceeded. "Ἑκ non mode tempus, sed nexum rerum denotat" (Bengel). Further, the phrase is not "resurrection from the dead," as in the Authorized Version, but "of the dead," which may be purposely used so as to point, not only to the fact of Christ's own resurrection, but also to its significance for mankind. The same expression often occurs elsewhere with a comprehensive meaning (cf. Acts 23:6; Acts 24:21; 1 Corinthians 15:12-21; Philippians 3:11; also 1 Corinthians 15:22; Philippians 3:10). The resurrection of Christ expressed "the power of an endless life," here and hereafter, for mankind, carrying with it the possibility of the resurrection of all from the dominion of death in the risen Son. One view of the meaning of the whole of the above passage - that of Chrysostom and Melancthon - may be mentioned because of the weight of these authorities, though it cannot be the true one. They take κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης ἐν δυνάμει, and ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν, as co-ordinate, regarding them as the three proofs of Christ's eternal Sonship. i.e. miracles, the communication of the Holy Ghost, and the resurrection. Jesus Christ our Lord; thus in conclusion distinctly identifying the Son of prophecy with the Jesus who had lately appeared, and was acknowledged by the Christians as the Messiah, and commonly by them called Κύριος. The force of the passage is weakened in the Authorized Version by the transposition of Ιησοῦ Ξριστοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν to the beginning of ver. 3, as also by the inclusion of ver. 2 in a parenthesis, so as to separate it from περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ which follows. (See explanation given above.)
By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
Verse 5. - Through whom we received grace and apostleship, unto obedience of faith among all the nations, for his Name's sake. "We" here means, not Christians generally, but Paul himself (though probably, as also in all other cases where he similarly uses this plural, with the intention of including others, here his fellow-apostles); for the "grace" spoken of is evidently from what follows a special grace for the apostolic office to which he had been called. The word ἀποστολὴ occurs in a like sense in Acts 1:25. Αἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως, etc., denotes the purpose of his apostleship, viz. to bring men everywhere, of whatever race, to believe and obey the gospel; not to a belief in it only, but to the obedience which comes of faith, or which faith renders. "Accepimus mandatum Evangelii ad omnes gentes pro-ferendi, cut illae per fidem obedient" (Calvin). Some take the phrase, ὑπακοὴν πίστεως, to mean "obedience to faith," faith being regarded, not as cause efficiens, but as a commanding principle exacting obedience to itself. So Meyer, who refers to passages where a genitive after ὑπακοὴ has this meaning: 2 Corinthians 10:5 (ὑπακοὴ τοῦ Ξριστοῦ); 1 Peter 1:22 (ὑπακοὴ τῆς ἀληθείας); and also to Acts 6:7 (὘πήκουον τῇ πίστει). The last of these quotations would have been peculiarly apposite in support of the interpretation contended for, were not πίστεως in the text now before us anarthrous, so as to suggest subjective faith, rather than "the faith delivered to the saints," as in Acts 6:7. The question is, after all, of no importance with regard to the essential idea intended to be conveyed. Ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ἔθνεσιν seems to point especially to St. Paul's own apostleship (cf. Acts 22:21; Galatians 1:16; Galatians 2:8, 9; Ephesians 3:1, 8), though, of course, the apostleship of all, wherever exercised, had a similar worldwide purpose. In using the expression here, he anticipates what he is about to say as to his not shrinking from addressing even the Romans with authority; his mission being to all the nations. Υπὲρ τοῦ οηνόματος αὐτοῦ is best connected with "obedience of faith." The phrase is of frequent occurrence (cf. Acts 5:41; Acts 9:15; Acts 15:26; Acts 21:13; also 2 Thessalonians 1:12). It is most usually connected with the idea of suffering in behalf of Christ.
Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:
Verse 6. - Among whom are ye also, called ones of Jesus Christ; and therefore included in my apostolic mission. Here the parenthetic passage ends, ver. 7 being the sequence of ver. 1.
To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse 7. - To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints (cf. κλητὸς ἀπόστολον, in ver. 1). Bengel's view, that by ἀγαπητοῖς Θεοῦ are specially meant the Jewish Christians, as being "beloved for the fathers' sakes" (Romans 11:28), and by κλητοῖς ἁγίοις the Gentile converts, is untenable. Both phrases are applicable to all. The word ἁγίοι, be it observed, is elsewhere used to denote all Christians, without implying eminence in personal holiness (cf. 1 Peter 2:9, ὑμεῖς δὲ... ἕθνος ἄγιον). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The union, here and elsewhere, of Jesus Christ with the Father as imparting heavenly blessing, implies his Deity no less than any dogmatic statement could do; for it is surely impossible to conceive the apostle thus associating with the Godhead one whom he regarded as a mere human being. The same form of benediction is found at the beginning of all St. Paul's Epistles, and there can be no doubt that its meaning is as given above. For, though here, in 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon, this collocation of words might allow the rendering, "Grace... from God, the Father of us and of the Lord Jesus Christ," yet in Galatians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus, it is obviously inadmissible. And even without these instances the true meaning would have been probable from ἡμῶν coming before Ἰησοῦ Ξριστοῦ. If the apostle had intended to express a common Fatherhood of God, he would surely not have written, "Our Father and Christ's," but rather, "Christ's and ours" (cf. John 20:17).
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
Verses 8-17. - B. Introduction, in which the writer expresses his strong interest in the Roman Church, his long-cherished desire to visit it, and the grounds of this desire. Verse 8. - First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of (rather, proclaimed) in the whole world. We observe here, as in other Epistles, St. Paul's way of beginning with complimentary language, and expression of thankfulness for the good he knew of in his readers. He thus intimates at the outset his own good feeling towards them, and predisposes them to take in good part any animadversions that may follow. "The whole world" is not, of course, to be taken literally, but as a phrase denoting general notoriety. Similarly in 1 Thessalonians 1:8, ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ. Any considerable number of converts in so important a place as Rome would be likely to become notorious in all Christian circles, and even outside them might have already begun to attract attention.
For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;
Verse 9. - For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you in my prayers. A like solemn asseveration is made with a like intention (Philippians 1:8; cf. also 2 Corinthians 11:31). It expresses the writer's earnestness, and is in place for attestation of a fact known only to himself and God. The word λατρεύω, ("I serve"), when used in a religious sense, most usually denotes "worship," and specifically the priestly services of the temple (Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 10:2; Hebrews 13:10). St. Paul's λατρεία intended here is not ceremonial function, but a spiritual one (ἐν τῷ πνεύματί μου) - an inward devotion of himself to God's service in proclaiming and furthering "the gospel of his Son." A similar view of the essential λατρεία of Christians is found in Romans 12:1; Romans 15:16; Philippians 3:3; 2 Timothy 1:3; Hebrews 9:14.
Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.
Verse 10. - Always (to be connected with δεόμενος following, not, as in the Authorized Version, with the preceding μνείαν ποιοῦμαι) in my prayers making request, if by any means now at length (in some way at length some day) I may be prospered to come unto you. The word εὐοδωθησόμαι, translated in the Authorized Version, "have a prosperous journey," though rightly so rendered with regard to its etymology and original meaning, does not necessarily imply being prospered in a journey. It was commonly used to denote being prospered generally (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:2; 3 John 1:2).
For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;
Verse 11. - For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established. Bengel, taking χάρισμα as the special gift of the Holy Ghost consequent on apostolic laying on of hands (cf. Acts 8:17, 18), argues from this verse that neither St. Peter nor any other apostle could have been at Rome so far. Though his conclusion is probably true, it does not follow from his premiss; for τὶ χάρισμα πνευματικὸν evidently means generally any gift of grace. All St. Paul implies is that he hopes to do them some spiritual good, so as to settle and strengthen them; and in the next verse, with characteristic delicacy, he even modifies what he has said, so as to guard against being supposed to imply that the benefit would be all on their side.
That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
Verse 12. - That is, that I with you may be comforted in you, each of us by each other's faith, yours and mine. The spirit of delicate courtesy here evinced, in addressing persons over whom one loss of a Christian gentleman than St. Paul was might have assumed a lordly tone, is apparent elsewhere in his Epistles (cf. Romans 15:15; Romans 16:19; 2 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 3:1, seq.; 2 Corinthians 8:8; 9:2), and especially the whole Epistle to Philemon.
Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.
Verse 13. - But I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you (and was hindered hitherto), that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles. Some take the "but" at the beginning of this verse (οὐ θέλω δὲ) as the apodosis to πρῶτον μὲν in ver. 8, with the meaning, "I am aware, and am thankful, that your faith is already notorious; but still I wish you to know that I have long had a desire to visit you." But the μὲν and δὲ are too far separated to commend this view. It is more after St. Paul's style that there should be no apodosis to πρῶτον μὲν; his train of thought carries him on so that he forgets how he began his sentence; and ver. 13 comes naturally as the sequence of ver. 12, whether we render δὲ by "but," or (as in the Authorized Version) by "now," or (as in the Revised Version) by "and." The long-cherished intention here spoken of had been expressed by him when at Ephesus, before his departure to Macedonia (Acts 19:21). Feeling himself to be peculiarly the apostle to the Gentile world, and having already been the first agent in carrying the gospel into Europe (Acts 16:9, 10), and having established it there in important centres of population, he ever kept in view an eventual visit to the imperial city itself, in the hope of its thence permeating the whole western world. What had so far hindered him appears from Romans 15:22 to have been principally missionary work which had first to be accomplished elsewhere. At last Providence carried him there in a way not of his own choosing. Thus man proposes, God disposes. In this verse the Roman Church seems certainly to be regarded as a Gentile one. What classes of converts probably at that time composed it has been considered in the Introduction. Whatever its nucleus, St. Paul plainly feels that, in sending this Epistle to it, he is carrying out his especial mission of extending the gospel to the Gentile world, though at the same time he writes mainly from a Jewish standpoint, appealing frequently to the Jewish Scriptures, with which he presupposes an acquaintance on the part of his readers. But the latter fact is not inconsistent with the supposition of their being, either then or prospectively, mainly of Gentile race. The gospel was everywhere preached as the fulfilment of Judaism (see note on ver. 2); and for understanding both its purport and its evidences, all would have to be to some extent indoctrinated in the ancient Scriptures. It is to be observed, too, that in the next verse the apostle implies a sense of now addressing a peculiarly civilized and cultivated community; he seems to have before him the prospect of his address reaching the educated and intelligent classes of society in the imperial city. And the Epistle, as it goes on, is in accordance with such an aim. For its arguments are addressed, not merely to believers in the Old Testament, but also generally to philosophical thinkers. The state of the world is reviewed, human consciousness is analyzed, deep problems which had long exercised the minds of philosophers are touched on, and the gospel is, in fact, commended to the world as God's answer to man's needs.
I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.
Verses 14, 15. - Both to Greeks and Barbarians, both to wise and unwise, I am debtor. So, as much as is in me, to you also that are at Rome, I am ready to preach the gospel. The two divisions of mankind into

(1) Ἔλληνες καὶ Βάρβαροι,

(2) σοφοὶ καὶ ἀνοήτοι, are intended to include all, independently of nationality and culture, regarded from a Greek or Roman point of view. The Greeks, as is well known, called all others than themselves Βάρβαροι, so that Ἕλληνεσ καὶ Βάρβαροι included the whole world. Here the Romans are intended to be included among Ἕλληνες, being partakers in Hellenic culture, and in fact at that time its prominent representatives (el. "Non solum Graecia et Italia, sod etiam omnis barbaria," Cicero, 'De Fin.,' 2:15). Of course, σοφοὶ also includes them. The obvious intention of the writer is to place them in each of the higher categories, and so, while after his manner he pays his expected readers a delicate compliment, to insist that his mission is to the highest in position and culture as well as the lowest, cud that, bold in his convictions, he is not ashamed to preach the cross even to them. "Audax facinus ad crucem vocare terrarum Dominos" (Alex. More. quoted by Olshausen).
So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Verse 16. - For I am not ashamed of the gospel (of Christ, in the Authorized Version, is very weakly supported by manuscripts; neither is it required), for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and to the Greek. In saying he was "not ashamed," St. Paul may have had in his mind our Lord's own words (Mark 8:38 and Luke 9:26.) We are reminded in this verse of the passage, 1 Corinthians 1:17-31, where the idea here shortly intimated is enlarged on. He was fully aware that the pride of Greek philosophy would be likely to despise the message of the cross as "foolishness." It would be strange to them at first, and out of accord with their intellectual speculations. But he was convinced too that in it was contained the one view of things to meet human needs, and such as to commend itself in the end to thinkers, if their consciences could be roused. In preaching to the Corinthians he had indeed purposely refrained from presenting the gospel to them in "words of man's wisdom," lest the simple message, addressed alike to all, should lose any of its essential power, or be confounded with the human philosophies of the day. But to them also, in his First Epistle, he declares that this was not because it was not "wisdom," as well as "power," to such as could so receive it. Among the more advanced, and therefore more receptive (ἐν τοῖς τελείοις), he does, he says, "speak wisdom" (1 Corinthians 2:6), Christianity having, in fact, its own philosophy, appreciable by them. As is well said in the Exposition of 1 Corinthians in the 'Speaker's Commentary,' "No contrast is here at all between reason and revelation, as some think, but strictly between two philosophies - the philosophy of God and the philosophy of the world." Therefore to the Greek, as well as to the Jew, he is not ashamed to preach the cross; and in this Epistle, suitably to its purpose - more, it may be supposed, than his ordinary preaching - he does set forth the Divine philosophy of the gospel. But the message, he adds, is "to the Jew first," because it was to the people of the covenant (cf. ch. 9:4, etc.) that the salvation in Christ was in the first place to be offered. Hence also, in all his missionary work, he first addressed himself to the synagogue, and only when he was rejected there, turned exclusively to the Gentiles. So at Rome too, when he afterwards went there (Acts 28:17-29).
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Verse 17 - Romans 11:36. - II. THE DOCTRINAL PART OF THE EPISTLE. Verse 17 - Romans 8:39. - C. The doctrine of the righteousness of God propounded, established, and explained. Verse 17. - This verse, though connected in sequence of thought with the preceding verse, may properly be taken in conjunction with the doctrinal argument which follows, serving, in fact, as its thesis. For the righteousness of God is therein revealed from (or, by) faith unto faith: as it is written, But the righteous by (or, from) faith shall live. It is to be observed that ἐκ is the preposition before πίστεως in both clauses of the sentence, though our Authorized Version makes a difference. Further, we render, with the Authorized Version, "the righteousness of God," rather than "a righteousness," as in the Revised Version, notwithstanding the absence of the article. For what is meant is the definite conception, pervading the Epistle, of God's righteousness. If there were room for doubt, it would surely be removed by ὀργὴ Θεοῦ, also without the article, immediately following, and with the same verb, ἀποκαλύπτεται. The Revisers, translating here "tins wrath," have given in the margin as tenable "a wrath," apparently for the sake of consistency with their rendering of δίκαιοσύνη. But "a wrath of God" has no intelligible meaning. The expressions seem simply to mean God's righteousness and God's wrath. This expression, "the righteousness of God," has been discussed in the Introduction, to which the reader is referred. Its intrinsic meaning is there taken to be God's own eternal righteousness, revealed in Christ for reconciling the world to himself, rather than (as commonly interpreted) the forensic righteousness (so called) imputed to man. Thus there is no need to understand the genitive Θεοῦ as gen. auctoris, or as equivalent to ἐνώπιον Θεοῦ. The phrase is understood in the sense that would be familiar to St. Paul and his readers from the Old Testament; and it is conceived that this intrinsic sense pervades the whole Epistle even when a righteousness imputed to man is spoken of; the idea still being that of the Divine righteousness embracing man. It is not clear in what exact sense ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν is to be understood. Most commentators, taking δικαιοσύνη to denote man's imputed righteousness, connect ἐκ πίστεως with it, as if ἡ ἐκ had been written (as e.g. in Romans 10:6). But the absence of , as well as the collocation of words, seems rather to connect it with ἀποκαλύπτεται. It may be meant to express the subjective condition for man's apprehension, and appropriation, of God's righteousness. The revelation of it to man's own soul is said to be ἐκ πίστεως while εἰς πίστιν expresses the result; viz. faith unto salvation. A like use of the preposition εἰς is found in Romans 6:19; 2 Corinthians 2:15, 16; 2 Corinthians 3:18. In the last of these passages ἀπὸ δόξης εἰς δόξαν, has a close resemblance to the expression before us. The quotation from Habakkuk 2:4 seems mainly meant to illustrate what has been said concerning faith, though the word δίκαιος, which occurs in it in connection with faith, may have also suggested it as apposite, as is evidently the case in Galatians 3:11, where St. Paul quotes it in proof of the position that ἐν νόμῳ οὐδεὶς δικαιοῦται παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ. The prophet had in immediate view the trials of faith peculiar to his own time, and had cried, "LORD, how long?" But he had stood upon his watch to look out for what the LORD would say unto him; and an answer had come to him to the effect that, in spite of appearances, his prophetic vision would ere long be realized, God's promises to the faithful would certainly be fulfilled, and that faith meanwhile must be their sustaining principle - "The just shall live by his faith." So in the Hebrew. The LXX. has Ὁ δὲ δικαιός μου ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται (A.), or Ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίτεως μου ζήσεται (B). The variations do not affect the general sense of the passage. Now some, supposing St. Paul to connect ἐκ πίστεως with δίκαιος, as part of the subject of the sentence, would accuse him of giving the quotation a meaning not intended by the prophet, who evidently meant ἐκ πίστεως to go with ζήσεται, as part of the predicate. But there is no reason for attributing this intention to St. Paul, except on the supposition that he had previously connected ἐκ πίστεως with δικαιοσύνη, in the sense of ἡ ἐκ πίστεως. But we have seen reason for concluding that this was not so. The quotation, in the sense intended by the prophet, is sufficiently apposite. For it expresses that faith is the life-principle of God's righteous ones, while the whole passage at the end of which it occurs declares the salvation of prophetic vision to be entirely of God, to be waited for and apprehended by man through faith, not brought about by his own doings.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Verse 18 - Romans 2:29. - (1) All mankind liable to God's wrath. Verses 18-32. - (a) The heathen world in general. Verse 18. - For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold back the truth in unrighteousness. Here the argumentation of the Epistle begins, the first position to be established being that all mankind without exception is guilty of sin before God, and therefore unable of itself to put in a plea of righteousness. This being proved, the need of the revelation of God's righteousness, announced in ver. 17, appears. "The wrath of God" is an expression with which we are familiar in the Bible, being one of those in which human emotions are attributed to God in accommodation to the exigencies of human thought. It denotes his essential holiness, his antagonism to sin, to which punishment is due. It expresses an idea as essential to our conception of the Divine righteousness as do the words, "love" and "mercy." Wrath, or indignation, against evil is as necessary to our ideal of a perfect human being as is love of good; and therefore we attribute wrath to the perfect Divine Being, using of necessity human terms for expressing our conception of the Divine attributes. When the Name of the LORD Was proclaimed before Moses (Exodus 34:5, etc.), it was of One not only "merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth," but also "that will by no means clear the guilty." This last attribute is the same as what we mean by the Divine wrath. This "wrath of God" is said in the verse before us to be "revealed from heaven." How so? Is it in the gospel, as is God's righteousness (ver. 18)? Against this view is the change of expression - ἀπ οὐρανοῦ instead of ἐν αὐτῷ ( as well as the fact that the gospel is not in itself a revelation of wrath, but the very opposite. Is it in the Old Testament? Possibly in part; but the marked repetition of ἀποκαλύπτεται in the present tense seems to point to some obvious revelation now; and, further, the first part of the proof, to the end of the second chapter, does not rest on the Old Testament. Is it what the apostle proceeds so forcibly to draw attention to - the existing, and at that time notorious, moral degradation of heathen society, which he regards as evidence of Divine judgment? This may have been before his view; and, as he goes on at once to speak of it, it probably was so prominently. But the revelation of Divine wrath against sin seems to imply more than this as the argument goes on, viz. the evident guilt before God of all mankind alike, and not only of degraded heathenism. It is difficult to decide, among the various explanations that have been offered, on any specific mode of revelation which the writer had in view. Perhaps no particular one exclusively. Commentators may be often unduly anxious to affix an exact sense to pregnant words used by St. Paul, who so often indicates comprehensive ideas by short phrases. He may have had before his mind various concurrent signs of human guilt, and the Divine wrath against it, at that especial time of the world's history; all which, to his mind at least, brought conviction as by a light from heaven. And the gospel itself (though in its essence a revelation of mercy, so that he purposely avoids saying that wrath was in it revealed) still had been the most powerful means of all for bringing home a conviction of the Divine wrath to the consciences of believers. For its first office is to convince of sin and of judgment. Cf. the words of the forerunner, "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" On all such grounds we may conceive that the apostle spoke of the wrath of God against human sin being especially at that time plainly revealed from heaven; and he desires to bring his readers to perceive it as he did. For now was the time of the Divine purpose to bring it home to all (cf. Acts 17:30, "The times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent"). "All ungodliness and unrighteousness' (ἀσέβειαν καὶ ἀδικίαν) comprehends all evil-doing, in whatever aspect viewed, whether as impiety or as wrong. The phrase, τῶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν κατεχόντων, is wrongly translated in the Authorized Version, "who hold the truth." If the verb κατέχειν allowed this rendering here, it would indeed be intelligible in reference to the knowledge of God, even by nature, which all men have or ought to have, though they do not act upon it, and the very potential possession of which renders them guilty. This is the thought of what immediately follows. Thus the sense would be, "They hold, i.e. possess, the truth; but they do unrighteousness." But whenever κατέχειν means "to hold," it denotes a firm hold, not a loose hold, such as would be thus implied. It occurs in this sense in 1 Corinthians 11:2 ("I praise you that ye keep the ordinances"). and 1 Thessalonians 5:21 ("Hold fast that which is good"). We must, therefore, have recourse to a second sense in which the verb is also used - that of "keeping back," or "restraining." Thus Luke 4:42 ("The people stayed him, that he should not depart from them") and 2 Thessalonians 2:6 ("Ye know what withholdeth"). The reference is still to the innate knowledge of God which all men are supposed to have had originally; but the idea expressed is not their having it, but their suppressing it. "Veritas in mente nititur et urget: sed homo eam impedit" (Bengel).
Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
Verse 19. - Because that which is known (not, as in the Authorized Version, "may be known;" for, though the force of the word γνωστὸν suggests this sense, it certainly means known, not knowable, in the many passages of the New Testament where it elsewhere occurs) of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it to them; rather than hath manifested, as in the Authorized Version. He manifested it, as appears from the following verse, in creation. In it to them from the first he manifested it; but in them (ἐν αὐτοῖς) also, through the capacity of the human soul to see Divine power in creation.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Verse 20. - For the invisible things of him from (i.e. since, ἀπὸ) the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Divinity (θειότης, not θεότης); so that they are without excuse. The concluding clause is rendered in the Revised Version, "that they may be without excuse;" and it is true that εἰς τὸ αῖναι αὐτοὺς does not express the fact that they now are so, but the subjective result of the manifestation, if disregarded. "Paulus directe excusationem adimit, non solum de eventu aliquo loquitur" (Bengel). It is, however, a question of importance, which has been much discussed, whether (as the rendering of the Revised Version might be taken to imply) the idea of Divine purpose, and [not result only, is involved in εἰς τὸ εῖναι. The difference between the two conceptions is apparent from the Vulgate, ira at sint inexcusabiles, compared with Calvin's in hoc ut. The bearing of the distinction on the doctrine of predestination is obvious, and it was consequently a subject of contention between the Lutherans and Calvinists. Meyer among moderns contends strongly that "the view which takes it of the purpose is required by the prevailing use of εἰς with the infinitive," referring in this Epistle to Romans 1:11; Romans 3:26; Romans 4:11, 16, 18; Romans 6:12; Romans 7:4, 5; Romans 8:29; Romans 11:11; Romans 12:2, 3; Romans 15:8, 13, 16. A comparison, however, of these passages does not seem to bear out his contention, it being apparently dependent on the context in each case, rather than the phrase εἰς τὸ, whether the idea of purpose comes in. Chrysostom among the ancients expressly opposed this view, saying, Καίτοιγε οὐ διὰ τοῦτο ταῦτα ἐποίησεν,ὁ Θεὸς, εἰ καὶ τοῦτο ἐξέβη. Οὐ γὰρ ἵνα αὐτοὺς ἀπολογίας ἀποστερήση διδασκαλίαν τοσαύτην εἰς μέσον προὔθηκεν ἀλλ ἵνα αὐτὸν ἐπιγνῶσιν. So that they should be may be suggested as an adequate rendering, so as to avoid the idea of God's manifestation of himself to men hating been from the first delusive, having condemnation, and not enlightenment, for its purpose. These two verses, 19 and 20, carry out the thought of τὴμ ἀλήθειαν κατεχόντων in ver. 18, their purport being to show that the ἀσέβεια and ἀδικία of men have been in spite of knowledge, and therefore involve them all in sin. For sin implies knowledge of good and evil; it is not imputed to the brute beasts, who but follow their natural instincts, having no perception of God or a Divine law. Now, to man, even without any special revelation, God manifests himself in two ways - outwardly in nature, and inwardly in conscience. In these verses the outward manifestation is spoken of, the other being more especially noted in ch. 2:14, etc. But here, too, an inward manifestation is implied by the word νοούμενα, as before by ἐν αὐτοῖς. To the animals below us the phenomena of nature may be but a spectacle before their eyes, making no appeal to a mind within. But to man they have a language - they awake wonder, awe, admiration, a sense of infinite mysterious power, and, to the receptive of such impressions, of ideal beauty indefinable. To the psalmists of old they spoke irresistibly of God; of one infinite and eternal Being, above and beyond all; and their consciences, owning the supremacy of good in the moral sphere, concurred with their sense of the evidences of beneficence in nature, so as to convince them also of the righteousness of God. All men (the apostle would say) were originally endowed with a like capacity of knowing God; and their failure in this regard, shown in the various forms of idolatry prevalent throughout the world, he views as the first stage in the development of human sin. The next stage is general moral degradation, regarded as the judicial consequence of the dishonour done to God. It is, indeed, a necessary consequence; for low and unworthy conceptions of Deity bring with them moral deterioration; when man's Divine ideal becomes degraded, with it he becomes degraded too. Witness, for instance, the debauches and cruelties that so commonly accompanied idolatrous worship. Lastly, the final stage of this moral degradation is represented in an unveiled picture of the utter wickedness, and even unnatural vice, at that time prevalent and condoned in the heart of the boasted civilization of the heathen world. Such is the drift of the remainder of this first chapter. The argument suggests the following thoughts.

(1) There is no mention here of Adam s transgression as the origin of human sin. The reason is that the apostle is arguing from a philosophical rather than a theological point of view, having Gentile as well as Jewish thinkers in his view as readers. His appeal in this chapter is not to the Old Testament at all, but to facts by all acknowledged. He is offering the world a philosophy of human history to account for the present perplexing state of things - for the undoubted discord between conscience and performance, between ideal and practice, - his purpose being to show universal guilt on the part of man. But his position here is quite consistent with what he says elsewhere (as in ch. 5.) of Adam's original transgression. For his whole argument in this chapter involves the doctrine of the fall of man, who is conceived to have been originally endowed with Divine instincts, and to have forfeited his prerogative through sin; and this is the essential meaning of the picture given us in Genesis 3. of the original transgression.

(2) The entire drift of the chapter is against the view of the condemnation of mankind being due simply to the sin of the progenitor being imputed to the race. For all men are represented as guilty, in that all have sinned against light which they might have followed. This view does not, indeed, preclude that of an inherited infection of nature predisposing all to sin; nay, it rather necessitates it; for why should the sin have been so universal but for such predisposing cause? Still, the distinction between the two views is important in regard to our conception of the Divine justice. 3. It may, however, be said that the distinction is without a real difference in this regard; for that, if the inherited infection is such that sin becomes inevitable (as seems to be implied by its alleged universality), it may appear as inconsistent with the Divine justice to condemn men for it, as it would be to impute to them their progenitor's transgression. In reply to this difficulty, it may be said that Scripture nowhere says that men are finally condemned for it. On the contrary, the gospel reveals to us the atonement, preordained from the first, for the avoidance of such final condemnation; and this retrospective as well as prospective in its effects (Romans 3:25, 26), and as far-reaching as was the original transgression (Romans 4:12, etc.). And our apostle (Romans 2:7, 14, 15, 16) expressly asserts the salvation of all who, according to their light, have done what they could. The fact is, that in the argument before us (as in other passages of similar purport) it is only the principle, or the ground, of man's possible justification before God that is under review. The intention is to show that this cannot be man's own "works or deservings," as of debt, but is another which the gospel reveals. Be it observed, lastly, that a clear view of this position is important, not only for our apprehension of the truth of things and of the meaning of the gospel, but also for our right moral tone of mind and attitude before God. For not to be convinced of sin is to belie the true ideal of our conscience, and implies acquiescence in a moral standard below that of the Divine righteousness to which we are able to aspire.
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Verse 21. - Because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful (rather, gave thanks); but became vain in their imaginations (διαλογισμοῖς, elsewhere more correctly rendered "thoughts" or "reasonings;" cf. 1 Corinthians 3:20, "The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain" - μάταιοι, as here, ἐματαιώθησαν), and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
Verses 22, 23. - Professing themselves to be wise, they Became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the similitude (literally, in similitude; cf. Psalm 106:20, whence idea and words are taken) of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. The expression, γνόντες τὸν Θεὸν, refers to what has been said of τὸ γνωστὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ, having been "manifest in them." It implies actual knowledge, not mere capacity of knowledge. Mankind is regarded as having lost a truer perception of God once possessed, idolatry being a sign of culpable degradation of the human race - not, as some would have us now believe, a stage in man's emergence from brutality. Scripture ever represents the human race as having fallen and become degraded; not as having risen gradually to any intelligent conceptions of God at all. And it may well be asked whether modern anthropological science has really discovered anything to discredit the scriptural view of the original condition and capacity of man. The view here presented is that obfuscation of the understanding (σύνεσις) ensued from refusal to glorify and give thanks to known Deity. "Gratias assere debemns ob beneficia; glorificare ob ipsas virtutes divinas" (Bengel). Hence came ματαιότης, a word, with its correlatives, constantly used with reference to idolatry; cf. Acts 14:15; 1 Corinthians 3:20; Ephesians 4:17; 1 Peter 1:18; also in the Old Testament, 1 Kings 16:26 (ἐν τοῖς ματαίοις ἐπορεύαὐτῶν, LXX.), 2 Kings 17:15 (θησαν ὀπίσω τῶν μαρταίων, LXX.); Jeremiah 2:5; Jonah 2:8 (φυλασσάμενοι μάταια καὶ ψευδῆ). Two forms of idolatry - both involving unworthy conceptions of the Divine Being - are alluded to, suggested, we may suppose, by the anthropomorphism of the Greeks and the creature-worship of Egypt, which were the two notable and representative developments of heathen religion. The expression, φάσκοντες εῖναι σοφοὶ, with the previous ἐν τοῖς διαλογισμαοῖς, have led some to suppose in this whole passage a special reference to the schools of philosophy. But this is not so. The degradation spoken of was long anterior to them, nor is this charge, as formulated, applicable to them. The idea is, generally, that boasted human intellect has not preserved men from folly; not even "the wisdom of the Egyptians," or the intellectual culture of the Greeks (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:19, etc.; 1 Corinthians 3:19, etc.).
And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Verse 24. - Wherefore God (καὶ, here in the Textus Receptus, is ill supported) gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies between (rather, among) themselves. So τοῦ ἀτιμάζεσθαι, etc., is rendered in the Authorized Version. The verb, however, is probably passive, a middle use of it not being elsewhere found. In either ease the general meaning is the same. The genitive, τοῦ ἀτιμάζεσθαι, seems most naturally taken as denoting what the ἀκαθαρσία consisted in, rather than either the purpose or the results of their being given over to it (cf. ver. 26, where παρέδωκεν εἰς πάθη ἀτιμίας is followed by a description of what these were). Here is noticed a further stage of judicial degradation; the ματιαότης of idolatry, itself judicial, had its further judicial consequence in the ἀκαθαρσία of abominable sensuality. Similarly, in Ephesians 4, the ἐργασία ἀκαθαρσίας πάσης ἐν πλεονεξιᾳ, prevalent among the nations, is traced to their ματαιότης, in that they had become "alienated from the life of God." It is notorious that idolatrous worship was not uncommonly accompanied by debauchery; notably that of the Phoenician Astarte, and of Aphrodite and Dionysus (see Livy, 39:8, for an account of the Dionysus at one time in Rome; and Athen., 13. pp. 574, 579, and 14. p. 659, for the Aphrodisia at Athens and Corinth); cf. Numbers 25, etc., "The people joined themselves unto Baal-peor," and the allusion to it, 1 Corinthians 10:8. On that occasion no more is intimated than promiscuous intercourse between the two sexes, sinking men in that regard to the level of the brutes; but still worse "uncleanness" is in the apostle's view, such as sinks them even below that level; and how common such unnatural vices had become, and how lightly thought of, no one conversant with classical literature needs to be reminded.
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
Verse 25. - Who (rather, being such as, the word is οἵτινες, equivalent to quippequi) changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. This verse repeats the source and cause of the moral degradation spoken of, which is described without reserve in what follows. "In peccatis arguendis saepe scapha debet scapha dict. Gravitas et ardor stilt judicialis proprietate verborum non violat verceundiam" (Bengel).
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
Verse 26. - For this cause God gave them up (παρέδωκε, as before) to vile affections (πάθη ἀτιμίας, i.e. "passions of infamy;" cf. above, τοῦ ἀτιμάζεσθαι). For the use, on the other hand, of the words τιμὴ and τίμιος to denote seemly and honourable indulgence of the sexual affections, cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:4 (Τὸ ἐαυτοῦ σκεῦος κτᾶσθαι ἐν ἁγιασμῶ καὶ τιμῆ) and Hebrews 13:4 (Τίμιος ὁ γάμος ἐν πᾶσι καὶ ἡ κοίτη ἀμίαντος). For their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature.
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
Verse 27. - And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. By the "recompense" (ἀντιμισθίαν) is meant here, not any further result, such as disease or physical prostration, but the very fact of their being given up to a state in which they can crave and delight in such odious gratifications of unnatural lust. It is the ἀντιμισθία τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν, the final judgment on them for going astray from God. And surely to the pure-minded there is no more evident token of Divine judgment than the spectacle of the unnatural cravings and indulgence of the sated sensualist.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Verse 28. - And even as they did not like to have God in their knowledge, God gave them over (παρέδυκεν, as before) to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient (i.e. unfitting or unseemly things). It is difficult to render in English οὐκ ἐδοκίμασαν and ἀδόκιμον so as to retain the apparently intended correspondence between the verb and the adjective. The verb δοκιμάζειν is capable of the senses

(1) "to prove" (as in assaying metals), and, generally, "to discern," or "judge;"

(2) "to approve," after supposed proving. Jowett, in his commentary on this Epistle, endeavours to retain in English the correspondence between ἐδοκιμασαν and ἀδόκιμον by translating, "As they did not discern to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up to an undiscerning mind," thus taking the verb in sense (1), and the adjective in the same sense actively. But it is at least doubtful whether ἀδόκιμος can be taken in an active sense, which is not its classical one. In the New Testament it occurs 1 Corinthians 9:27; 2 Corinthians 13:5, 6; 2 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:16; Hebrews 6:8. In the first of the above passages the word obviously means "rejected" (in the Authorized Version a castaway), with reference to the comparison of a competitor in athletic contests being proved unworthy of the prize - a sense cognate to the common one of the same adjective as applied to spurious metals, rejected or worthless after being tested. In 2 Corinthians 13:5, 6, either sense seems admissible - ἑαυτοὺς δοκιμάζετε... εἰ μήτι ἀδόκιμοί ἐστε. But not so in Hebrews 6:8, where the word is applied to barren land. The passages from 2 Timothy and Titus may in themselves admit the sense of undiscerning, but the passive one is more probable in view of the common usage of the word. On the other hand, ch. 12:2 may be adduced in favour of the active sense; for there the consequence of the renewal of the mind in Christians is said to be that they may prove, or discern (εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς), what is Gods will; and hence it may seem probable that the want of such discernment is denoted here. The same passage also favours the verb δοκιμάζειν being taken here in sense (1) given above, and Jowett's rendering of the whole passage. It is, after all, uncertain; nor does it follow that the Greek paronomasia can be reproduced in English.
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Verses 29-31. - Being filled with all unrighteousness, [fornication], wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hated of God, despiteful (rather, insolent), proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection [implacable], unmerciful. Here not personal uncleanness only, but general and utter disregard of moral restraints and obligations (too prevalent, doubtless, at that time in civilized heathendom), is pointed out as the final judicial issue. The words used do not seem to be arranged on any exact system, but to have been written down as they occurred to the writer, being intended to be as comprehensive as possible. Among them those put above within brackets rest on weak authority. Πλεονεξία, translated here, as usually elsewhere, "covetousness," means generally "inordinate desire," not necessarily of riches; and St. Paul seems generally to use it with reference to inordinate lust (cf. Ephesians 4:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:3; also 1 Thessalonians 4:6 and 2 Peter 2:14; and, for πλεονέκτης, Ephesians 5:5, The word θεοστυγεῖς, both from its formation (compare θεοφιλὴς and φιλόθεος, with other instances), and its ordinary use in classical Greek (it occurs here only in the New Testament) must certainly be taken to mean "God-hated," not "God-haters." It seems suggested here by the previous καταλάλους, being (we may suppose) used commonly of the delatores who are known to have been a special pest of society at that period of Roman history. Alford quotes Tacitus, 'Ann.,' 6:7, where they are called "Principi quidem grati, et Deo exosi;" also Philo, 'Ap Damascen.,' Διάβολοι καὶ θείας ἀποπέμπτοι χάριτος οἱ τὴν αὐτὴν ἐκέινω διαβολικὴν νοσοῦντες κακοτεχνίαν θεοστυγεῖς τε καὶ θεομισεῖς πάντη. In ver. 31 the collocation of ἀσυνέτους and ἀσυνθέτους seems to have been suggested by similarity of sound, there being no apparent link of ideas. The latter word is rightly translated in the Authorized Version, as is also ἀσόνδους; ἀσυνθέτους being one who breaks treaties, "faithless;" ἀσπονδους, one who refuses to enter into a truce or treaty, "implacable."
Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Verse 32. - Who (οἵτινες, with its usual significance, as before) knowing the judgment of God, that they which practise such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also have pleasure in them that practise them. In this concluding verse the main point of the whole argument, with which also it began (ver. 19), is repeated, viz. that all this sin was in spite of better knowledge - the original knowledge of God revealed, as above set forth, to the human race, and (as is implied further) an inward witness of conscience still remaining, however stifled, even in the most corrupt society. By ἄξιος θανάτου is not meant "deserving of capital punishment;" Divine judgment is evidently implied. There is no need to inquire what conception of future retribution the heathen themselves may be supposed to have had, or to have been capable of entertaining. St. Paul constantly denotes by θάνατος, in a general and comprehensive sense, the penal consequence of unatoned sin due to the Divine δικαιοσύνη (cf. Romans 6:21-23; Romans 8:6, etc.). It is to be observed that in the latter part of this verse the distinction between πράσσειν, meaning habitual practice, and ποιεῖν, is not shown in the Authorized Version. The evidence of the "reprobate mind" is not simply that such things are done occasionally under temptation, but that they are the habits of people's lives. And still more: such habits are not only participated in by those who have knowledge enough to perceive their guilt (αὐτὰ πποιοῦσιν), but even condoned and approved (συνευδοκοῦσι τοῖς πράσσουσι); there was no general protest or indignation in society against the prevalent abominations; and those familiar with the writers of the Augustan age must be well aware that this was so. Here we have the final proof of the prevalence of the ἀδόκιμος νοῦς, the climax of the picture of general moral degradation. "Ideo autem sic interpreter, quod video apostolum voluisse hic gravius aliquid et sceleratius ipsa vitioram perpetratione per-stringere. Id quale sit non intelligo, nisi referamus ad istam nequitiae summam, ubi miseri homines contra Dei justitiam, abjecta verecundia, vitiorum patrocinium suscipiunt" (Calvin).

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