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Bible Commentaries
Romans 16

Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary for Schools and CollegesCambridge Greek Testament Commentary

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Verses 1-99

Ch. 16:1 16 . A commendation, and many salutations

1 . I commend ] Lit. But , or now, I commend . The particle marks transition to a new subject.

Phebe ] Strictly, Phœbe . Nothing is known of Phœbe beyond the information in this passage. It is probable that she was the bearer of the Epistle to Rome; for no other bearer is mentioned, and the prominence of this notice of her suggests a special connexion with the writing. See further below. The early Christian converts seem to have had no scruple in retaining a pre-baptismal name even when the name (as in this case) was that of a heathen deity. Cp. Hermes , (ver. 14); Nereus , (ver. 15); and such derivative names as Demetrius (3 John 1:12 ).

a servant of the church ] Plainly the word “servant” here bears more than a menial reference: Phœbe was in some sense a dedicated helper of the community at Cenchreæ, and very probably a person of substance and influence. There is good evidence of the existence in the Apostles’ time of an organized class of female helpers in sacred work; for see especially 1 Timothy 5:3-16 . Just after the apostolic age the famous Letter of Pliny to Trajan indicates that such female helpers ( ministræ ) were known in the Bithynian Churches; and for two centuries from the time of Tertullian (cir. a.d. 210) allusions to them are frequent, and shew that they were largely employed both in the relief of temporal distress, chiefly among women, and also in the elementary teaching of female catechumens. They were regularly set apart by imposition of hands. As a rule, they were required to be of mature age, (rarely of less than 40 years,) and in most cases they appear to have been widows and mothers. By the 12th century the Order had been everywhere abolished. (See Bingham’s Antiquities , Bk. II. ch. xxii.) We must not assume that Phœbe was a deaconess in the full later sense of the word; but that her position was analogous to that of the later deaconesses seems at least most probable.

The church: ” here in the very frequent sense of a local community of Christians.

Cenchrěa ] In the Gr. Cenchreæ : the Eastern port of Corinth. Cp. Acts 18:18 . See Introduction , ii. § 1.

2 . in the Lord, as becometh saints ] With all the attention and delicacy due from Christians to a Christian woman.

assist her ] Lit. (in the lit sense of “ assist ,”) stand by her . What Phœbe’s business at Rome was, is quite unknown to us. It may have concerned property, and involved enquiries and directions about law. Or it may have been (though less probably) religious business.

a succourer ] Lit. a champion ; one who stands before another. The word conveys a graceful allusion to the request that they would “stand by ” Phœbe: she had “stood before ” many a needing and suffering Christian.

of myself also ] Very probably at some time of illness, such as that other time which apparently delayed him in Galatia, on his first visit there, and called out the sympathetic love of the Galatians. (Galatians 4:13-15 ; where read, “ on account of weakness of the flesh; ” i.e. “ because of illness ”).

3 . Priscilla and Aquila ] Better, Prisca and Aquila ; so 2 Timothy 4:19 . See Acts 18:2 , Acts 18:18 , Acts 18:26 , for the whole known history of these two eminent Christians, (except the references to them here, and in 1 Corinthians 16:19 , and 2 Timothy 4:0 ). Aquila (whose name in its Greek form is Akulas ) was born in Pontus as was another well-known Aquila, a translator of the O. T. into Greek. He and his wife, Prisca or Priscilla, first met St Paul at Corinth; then, 18 months later, went with him to Ephesus, where they both took part in the instruction of Apollos: here we find them again at Rome; and in St Paul’s last days they are probably again at Ephesus. (2 Timothy 4:0 .) Their after-history is quite unknown. Whether or no they were converts of St Paul is uncertain. (See Introduction , i. § 17, 23; ii. § 2.) “Priscilla is an example of what a married woman may do, for the general service of the Church, in conjunction with home-duties, just as Phœbe is the type of the unmarried servant of the Church, or deaconess.” (Dr Howson, in Smith’s Dict. Bibl .) The variation in the form of Prisca’s name has many parallels in Roman nomenclature.

4 . who have for my life , &c.] Lit., and better, who did for my life lay down their own neck , (not necks ). An entirely unknown occasion, on which Aquila and his wife had risked their lives for St Paul’s. “ Laid down: ” the figure is of presenting the neck, or throat, to the executioner. Whether the word is only figurative here, we cannot determine.

all the churches of the Gentiles ] To whom they had, by their self-devotion, preserved their Apostle.

5 . the church that is in their house ] Their house at Rome, like their house at Corinth, (1 Corinthians 16:19 ,) probably contained a large room (like the “Upper Room” at Jerusalem) which was devoted to Divine worship, and used by the Christians of the neighbouring district, who thus formed a “Church,” or assembly, which itself was an organic part of the main “Church at Rome.” No doubt the whole Roman community had a central meeting-chamber, probably of the same kind, (indeed Aquila’s may have been this central chamber,) in which e.g. this Epistle would be read. Bingham ( Antiquities , Bk. VIII. ch. i.) collects the allusions to Christian places of assembly in the first century. He makes it clear that special chambers were set apart for holy uses, but does not make it clear that whole buildings were, in those first days, built for, or devoted to, worship. No doubt the circumstances of society and the inexpediency of obtruding Christian worship on the view of the heathen, made this a natural and wise practice at first. But the existence of Jewish synagogues alone would make it equally natural, in due time, to dedicate whole buildings. By the third century, at latest, this was common.

For similar allusions to church-assemblies under private roofs, see 1 Corinthians 16:19 ; Colossians 4:15 ; Philemon 1:2 , and perhaps below, vv. 14, 15.

Epenĕtus ] Strictly, Epænetus : known only from this verse. We may suppose that he was not only the “ firstling of Asia ” (see below) but St Paul’s own convert, and thus specially “ well-beloved ” by the Apostle. Cp. 1 Corinthians 16:15 .

Achaia ] The better reading is Asia ; i.e. Asia in the strict sense, the Roman province of which Ephesus was the capital. See Acts 19:10 , Acts 19:22 , Acts 19:26 , Acts 19:27 , Acts 19:31 .

unto Christ ] i.e. as a convert to Him.

6 . Mary ] Mariam or Marĭa . Both forms represent the Heb. Miriam . In the Gospels, the Holy Mother is always, or nearly always, called Mariam in the Greek text; the other Maries, Maria . This is the only Hebrew name in this chapter.

bestowed much labour ] Lit. toiled ; the strongest word for pains and efforts.

on us ] The better reading is, on you . We do not know the occasion or occasions of these “labours.” The verb is aorist, and refers to a definite past period or crisis.

7 . Andronīcus and Junia ] Or, perhaps, Juntas , i.e. Junianus (in a contracted form, as Lucas for Lucanus, Silas for Silvanus , &c.). There is no various reading, but the Gr. accusative may belong to either Junia (feminine) or Junias (masculine). It is impossible to decide, but perhaps the following expressions favour the view that we have here two Christian men .

my kinsmen ] Of course in a literal sense, which alone can be distinctive here. Their names are Greek and Latin (respectively); but this was continually the case with Jews, (cp. Paulus, Crispus, Apollos , &c.). They were, we may assume, Benjamites at least, if not near relatives of St Paul’s. Of his “kinsmen” we elsewhere (outside this chapter) hear only where his nephew is mentioned, Acts 23:16 .

fellowprisoners ] Strictly, fellowprisoners-of-war . Same word as Colossians 4:10 ; Philemon 1:23 . The word indicates that these Christians had once been in prison with St Paul (a glorious reminiscence) in the course of the warfare of Christian duty and suffering.

See 2 Corinthians 6:5 , 2 Corinthians 11:23 , for hints of the many (to us) unknown imprisonments of the Apostle. The last passage is specially instructive as proving that the Acts is a narrative of selection only.

of note among the apostles ] The words may mean either (1) “ distinguished Apostles ,” or (2) “ well known to, and honoured by, the Apostles .” If (1) is right, the word “Apostle” is used (as in the Gr. of 2 Corinthians 8:23 ; Philippians 2:25 ;) in its literal and wider sense of a messenger, and here probably (if so) a messenger of the Gospel, a missionary . The context, however, in 2 Corinthians 8:0 and Philippians 2:0 , is of a kind which explains , and so justifies, such a reference more distinctly than the context here. We may suppose that St Paul would more naturally have written here, had (1) been his meaning, “of note among the apostles of the churches .” We incline, then, to the explanation (2): these two Christians, possibly because of special deeds of love and help to others of the Apostles besides St Paul, were particularly honoured by the apostolic body.

in Christ before me ] A beautiful and affecting tribute to these his “senior saints.”

8 . Amplias ] A name probably contracted from Ampliātus , which appears in some documents. The name is Latin.

9 . Urban ] Strictly, Urbānus . The letter - e in the E. V. form is not to be pronounced: it is like the final - e of Constantine , and has nothing to do with feminine terminations. It would have been better to write Urban in E. V.) The name is Latin.

Stachys ] A Greek name, and masculine.

10 . Apelles ] A Greek name. It is used by Horace, in a well-known passage, ( Satires , I. v. 100,) as a name common among Jews.

approved in Christ ] i.e. one who has been tested and found true , as a “member of Christ.” Perhaps he had borne special suffering or sorrow with strong faith.

them which are of Aristobūlus’ household ] Lit. those from amongst Aristobulus ’. Aristobulus’ name is Greek: we know no more of him. He may, or may not, have been a Christian; and the latter is slightly the more likely alternative. See next verse, and cp. Philippians 4:22 . “ Those from amongst his” household , or people , are probably the converts in his familia , or establishment, of slaves and freedmen.

11 . Herodion my kinsman ] See on ver. 7. The name is Greek.

them that be of the household of Narcissus ] Lit., as just above, those from amongst Narcissus ’. There was one notorious Narcissus, a freedman of Claudius; and another, one of Nero’s bad favourites. Either of these may have been the master of the Christian dependents here saluted; but the name was a common one. The freedman of Claudius was probably by this time dead, but his household may have been subsisting still.

12 . Tryphēna and Tryphōsa ] Greek names. These Christian women are otherwise unknown to us. They were very probably, like Phœbe, “servants of the Church.”

labour in the Lord ] toil (same word as that rendered “ bestow much labour ,” ver. 6,) in the Lord ; as being “in Him,” and working under His presence and influence.

the beloved Persis ] A Greek name. It is noticeable, as a sign of St Paul’s faultless Christian delicacy, that he does not call this Christian woman “ my beloved.”

laboured ] toiled . The aorist may point to some special occasion in the past. Or possibly Persis was an aged believer, whose day of toil, being over, was now viewed as one act of loving work for Christ.

13 . Rufus ] A Latin name. Possibly this was the Rufus of Mark 15:21 , brother of Alexander and son of Simon the Cyrenian. Alexander and Rufus are apparently named by St Mark as well known in the Christian Church, and it is observable that his Gospel was probably written at Rome . But the name is a common one.

chosen in the Lord ] Lit. the chosen one , &c. All true Christians might be so described, (8:33,) but this, as Meyer remarks, would not forbid a special and emphatic use of the word, in the case of a Christian remarkable for character or usefulness.

his mother and mine ] Evidently, the mother of Rufus (possibly the wife of Simon the Cyrenian,) had endeared herself to St Paul by special Christian kindness; the sweeter to him as his own parents, probably, were long departed.

14 . Asyncrǐtus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrǒbas, Hermes ] All otherwise unknown. The names are Greek. Hermas was the name of the author of “The Shepherd,” a celebrated religious romance, sometimes compared as such to the Pilgrim’s Progress. But it is at least probable that “The Shepherd” belongs to a later generation than that of the Hermas here named. On Hermes , see second note on ver. 1.

the brethren which are with them ] Perhaps forming with them a “church” such as that of ver. 5; where see note. If so, the next verse may similarly be a greeting to a similar district “church,” meeting under another roof.

15 . Philolŏgus ] A Greek name.

Julia ] Possibly the wife of Philologus. The name may (as in the case of Junia: see note on ver. 7;) be really Julias , i.e., Julianus; a masculine name. But the mention just after of “Nereus and his sister” weighs, however lightly, in the other direction. So Meyer.

Nereus ] A Greek name; that of a minor sea-god, tutelar of the Mediterranean under Poseidon. See second note on ver. 1.

Olympas ] A Greek masculine name.

the saints which are with them ] See last note on ver. 14.

At the close of this long roll of names we cannot but remark on it as a noble and beautiful illustration of the “family-affection of Christianity.” It is often observed that a peculiar charm attaches to successions of names,

“Lancelot, or Pelleas, or Pellenore;”

and such a rhythmical charm is not absent here. But far above it is the charm of the pure intense spiritual intimacy of hearts, an intimacy created by the possession of “one Lord, one Hope,” and which with the advent of the Gospel touched the weary world as a new and unknown visitor from heaven. We might quote many parallels from later Christian literature; but one will be enough the dying farewell to his flock of a man who had no small measure of the holy love and zeal of St Paul Felix Neff, the “Apostle of the Hautes Alpes.” Two days before his death (April, 1829,) “being scarcely able to see, he traced the following lines at different intervals, in large and irregular characters, which filled a page: ‘Adieu, dear friend André Blanc; Antoine Blanc; the Pelissiers, whom I dearly love; François Dumont and his wife; Isaac and his wife; Aimé Deslois; Emilie Bonnet, &c., &c., Alexandrine, and their mother all, all the brethren and sisters at Mens Adieu, adieu. I am departing to our Father ( je monte vers notre Père ) in perfect peace. Victory, victory, victory, by Jesus Christ. Felix Neff.’ ” ( Vie , Toulouse, 1875.)

16 . Salute one another ] As if to respond to the example set them in the Apostle’s loving greetings.

a holy kiss ] So 1 Corinthians 16:20 ; 2 Corinthians 13:12 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:26 ; 1 Peter 5:14 . See also Acts 20:37 . The kiss, as a mark both of friendship and of reverence, is still almost as usual as ever in the East. In the early offices for Baptism the kiss is given to the newly-baptized. (Bingham, Bk. 12 Chronicles 4:0 .).

The churches ] A better reading gives, All the churches . He assumes this universal greeting, from the fact of the universal good-report of the Roman Christians. (See 1:8.) And he offers it as a seemly message to the Christians of the mighty Capital.

17 20 . Special warning against certain teachers of error

17 . Now I beseech you , &c.] From this ver. to ver. 20, inclusive, we have a paragraph or section by itself. It contains a brief but earnest warning against an evil which everywhere beset and encountered the Apostle the bold or subtle efforts of perverted and perverting teachers, Christians in name. We may gather that this evil was only just beginning at Rome; otherwise more of the Epistle would be given to it.

Bp Lightfoot, in his note on Philippians 3:18 , gives good reason to think that the teachers specially in view here are not Judaizers, but their antipodes Antinomians. “They (the persons in this passage) are described as … holding plausible language, (ver. 18,) as professing to be wise beyond others, (ver. 19,) and yet not innocent in their wisdom. They appear therefore to belong to the same party to which the passages 6:1 23, 14:1 15:6, of that Epistle [to the Romans] are chiefly addressed.” 1 1 We think, however, that the opinions refuted in ch. 6 are not identical with those corrected in cch. 14, 15. In the former case, St Paul makes no compromise; in the latter, as regards abstract principle , he almost identifies himself with those whom he reproves. In the present verse, accordingly, we take the Antinomians whom the Romans are to avoid to be Antinomians in the fullest sense; rejecters of the moral (as well as ceremonial) law in all respects; heretics, in fact, of the type afterwards developed in some forms of Gnosticism, holding, probably, that the acts of the body were indifferent to the soul. They thus may have coincided with the persons in view in ch. 16, but hardly with those in view in cch. 14, 15.

mark ] watch; so as to avoid them. Cp. Philippians 3:17 , where the same word is used with an opposite reference “watch, so as to follow with them.”

divisions and offences ] Strictly, and better, the divisions and the stumblingblocks . He refers to circumstances already well-known in various Churches, and beginning to be felt at Rome.

contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned ] Lit. beyond the teaching which you (emphatic) did learn . (“ Contrary ,” however, rightly represents the Gr.) The emphasis on “ you ” seems to indicate that the erring teachers were, or would be, visitors to Rome, not original members of the Roman Church. “ Did learn: ” at the time of their evangelization. On the question, when that time was, see Introduction , i. § 17, 23.

“The teaching they had learned” could admit no real compromise, just because it was, in its origin, “not the word of men, but the word of God.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 . Cp. Galatians 1:6-10 .

avoid them ] A peaceable but effective way of resistance. Cp. 2 Timothy 3:5 ; 2 John 1:10 . But these parallels are not exact; for the present passage seems to be specially a caution to individual Christians, not to go as learners to the erring teachers.

18 . serve not ] Perhaps these words (lit. do not bondservice to,) allude to the professed “ liberty ” of the erring teachers. Q. d., “they decline, indeed, the bondage of Christ, but they are in bondage to their own appetites all the while.” Cp. 2 Peter 2:19 . With a similar emphasis, probably, he writes “our Lord ( Master ) Jesus Christ.”

their own belly ] Cp. Philippians 3:19 . The words indicate sensual self-indulgence generally, whether grosser or lighter.

by good words , &c.] Lit. by their sweet-speech and fair-speech . The first word denotes the seeming piety, the second the seeming reasonableness, of their doctrine.

the simple ] Lit. the evil-less; people unconscious of bad intentions, and hence unsuspicious of them.

Meyer remarks that St Paul did not write thus severely till after long and full experience.

19 . For your obedience , &c.] This verse is sometimes explained q. d., “You are known to be singularly docile; a good thing in itself, but which may be abused by these false teachers: therefore see that your simplicity is in the right place, and be on the watch.” But this is unlikely. For (1) St Paul would scarcely commend, even passingly, the spirit which listens deferentially (“ obedience ”) to any teacher whoever he may be; (2) this Epistle alone proves that, as a fact, the Roman Christians were “in understanding, men; ” (3) the word rendered “obedience” is always, elsewhere in N. T., a word of pure good; (4) the closing words of this verse do not agree with the suggested explanation, which would rather demand “simple (in listening) to good, but wise (in watching) against evil.” Far more probably the ver. may be paraphrased: “These sectaries deceive the simple. I do not say they deceive you; for your heartfelt acceptance of the Truth is known everywhere; and I rejoice to think of you in this light, whatever I may have to mourn over in others. But a caution, even for you, may be in season: do not be led astray by tempting baits of fancied wisdom . Be deep in the wisdom of humble faith; be content to be untainted by acquaintance with a wisdom which at its root is evil.”

is come abroad ] Lit. did come . Probably the occasion of their first definite acceptance of the Gospel is referred to. Their strong and deep allegiance to the Truth , (“obedience,”) was at that time famous everywhere.

on your behalf ] Lit. as to what concerns you . The word “ you ” is emphatic, with a reference to others who might give St Paul less cause for joy.

but yet I would , &c.] See the paraphrase above, in the last note but two. Cp. Revelation 2:24 , where probably the words imply that the false teachers at Thyatira tempted the believers to listen to them by promising to reveal “depths” of wisdom; depths which were really, says the Lord, “ depths of Satan .”

simple ] Lit. untainted . Same word as Matthew 10:16 ; Philippians 2:15 ; (E. V., “harmless”). The original idea (freedom from alloy ,) passes into that of freedom from ill motives, or (as here) from defiling knowledge.

20 . the God of peace ] See on 15:33. Here the sacred Title seems to refer to the miseries of the strife (“divisions and offences”) attendant on false doctrine. The God of Peace would be with those who, by clinging to the holy Truth once delivered, held fast to true unity.

shall bruise Satan , &c.] The very first promise of Redemption (Genesis 3:15 ,) is doubtless here referred to. The “Enemy who soweth tares” had been already “bruised” by the Redeemer, in His triumphant work; and that victory would be, in due time, realized in the personal (“under your feet,”) triumph over sin and death, and final deliverance from all trial, of each of His followers.

shortly ] In the eternal “Day,” so near at hand, (13:11, 12,) when all “enemies shall be made the footstool” of Messiah, and of His saints through Him.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ , &c.] It may be that St Paul was about to close the Epistle here. If so, we may suppose that the request of the Christians round him to add their greetings gave him occasion to add the few remaining sentences. But may not this benediction be specially connected with the immediate context? Q. d., “You have a battle to fight against the assaults of error. It will soon be over; and meantime may your Lord’s grace be with you in the strife.” The “ Amen ” should be omitted.

21 24 . Salutations

21 . Timotheus my workfellow ] Cp. especially Philippians 2:19-22 with this brief allusion to this singularly beloved and honoured friend and helper of the Apostle. His name appears in eleven Epistles; Rom., 1 and 2 Cor., Phil., Col., 1 and 2 Thess., 1 and 2 Tim., Philem., Hebr.

Lucius ] Perhaps the same person as Lucius of Cyrene, (Acts 13:1 ). He is sometimes identified with St Luke (Lucas); but there is no good evidence for this. The names Lucius and Lucas ( Lucanus ) are quite distinct.

Jason ] Perhaps the same as Jason the Thessalonian; Acts 17:5 , Acts 17:6 , Acts 17:7 , Acts 17:9 .

Sosipăter ] Perhaps the same as Sopater the Berœan; Acts 20:4 . That Sopater perhaps started from Corinth with St Paul on the journey to Asia there mentioned.

my kinsmen ] See on ver. 7. Lucius bore a Roman name; Jason and Sosipater, Greek names.

22 . I Tertius , &c.] This ver. may be read, I Tertius greet you, who wrote the Epistle in the Lord; i.e., who wrote it, (as the Apostle’s amanuensis,) in the spirit of a Christian, as a work of holy privilege and love. But the E. V. is also justified by the Greek, and is the more probable on the whole.

Tertius had a Latin name, and was perhaps a Roman, personally known to the Church at Rome. There is something strangely real and life-like in this sudden interposition of the amanuensis, with his own personal greeting.

who wrote this epistle ] Letter-writing by amanuensis was very common in the days of St Paul; and if St Paul suffered in his eyes, as is not unlikely 1 1 See Introduction , i. § 32. , he would be doubly sure to use such help. It was his custom (in his earliest Epistles, at least,) to write a few words at the close with his own hand. See 2 Thessalonians 3:17 . Cp. Galatians 6:11 ; where render, “ See in what large letters I write to you, with my own hand .”

23 . Gaius ] The same Latin name as Caius . This Gaius may be the same as Gaius of Macedonia, (Acts 19:29 ,) or as Gaius of Derbe, (Acts 20:4 ;) and again the Gaius of 2 John may be identical with either of these. But the name was exceedingly common.

We may be fairly sure that the Gaius here and the Gaius of 1 Corinthians 1:14 are the same. In this Christian’s house St Paul seems to have lodged on this visit to Corinth; and it was a house ever open to Christian guests. Perhaps the words “ and of the whole church ” mean that St Paul’s stay with Gaius led to a large concourse of other Christian visitors there, whether Corinthian residents or not.

Erastus ] A Greek name. This was probably not the Erastus of Acts 19:22 , (and probably also of 2 Timothy 4:20 ,) who was an assistant to St Paul, like Timotheus.

chamberlain ] Better, treasurer . Erastus stands almost alone in the apostolic history as a convert from the dignified ranks. Cp. Acts 17:34 , and perhaps Acts 13:12 . See 1 Corinthians 1:26 .

the city ] Corinth. The brief phrase indicates the eminence of the place whence the letter is written. See Introduction , ii. § 1.

Quartus ] A Latin name; (in its Greek form here, Kouartos .) Possibly Quartus, like Tertius, was a Roman. We know him only from this verse.

a brother ] Lit. the brother; i.e. “our fellow-Christian.”

24 . The grace , &c.] Cp. 2 Thessalonians 3:16 , for a similar adieu before the actual close.

We venture to suggest that thus far the amanuensis wrote; that St Paul then in some sense reviewed his great Epistle; and then, perhaps with his own hand, added the rapturous Doxology with which it now ends, and which sums up with such pregnant force so much of the mighty argument 1 1 Alford quotes the same suggestion from Fritzsche, and points out that the diction of the Doxology resembles passages elsewhere which are known to have been written with St Paul’s own hand . .

25 27 . Final Doxology to the Giver and Revealer of the universal Gospel of Salvation by Faith

25 . Now to him , &c.] The construction of this Doxology is irregular; for in ver. 27 the lit. Gr. is, To God only wise, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever. Amen ; and the relative pronoun “ to whom ” is redundant. (See further on that verse.) The practical meaning, however, is clear. The whole is a Doxology to the Eternal Father, through the Son, for the gift and manifestation of the world-wide Salvation by Faith, which prophets had foretold and which was now at last fully proclaimed. On the questions raised about this Doxology, see Introduction , ii. § 3.

to stablish you ] Cp. 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 3:13 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:17 , 2 Thessalonians 2:3 :3; 1 Peter 5:10 . See also Acts 14:23 , Acts 20:32 .

according to my gospel ] i.e. in the way revealed and promised in the Gospel as taught by St Paul; the Gospel which offers justification to the believer, and with it the gift of the Divine Spirit and His aid. “ My Gospel: ” same words as 2:16, (where see note;) 2 Timothy 2:8 . Cp. 1 Timothy 1:11 .

the preaching of Jesus Christ ] This may grammatically mean either (1) “the preaching which speaks of Him; ” (in which case it would be a phrase explanatory of “my Gospel;”) or (2) “the preaching which He Himself delivers .” In the latter case again the reference may be either ( a ) to the Lord’s utterances when on earth (as e.g. John 3:6 ); or ( b ) to His after work through St Paul and the other Apostles; cp. 15:18, and note there. On the whole, the last reference seems the most likely. St Paul thus both qualifies the thought that the Gospel he preached was “his,” and enforces the thought of its absolute truth. “ Preaching: ” the Gr. word (same as 1 Corinthians 1:21 ,) means the contents of the message, not the act of preaching .

according to the revelation , &c.] St Paul’s Gospel and the Lord’s Proclamation were “ according to ,” in harmony with, this “ unveiling ” of the great hidden Truth. The unveiling of the Truth occasioned the proclamation, and was the substance of it. The unveiling and the proclamation were thus coincident and harmonious.

the mystery ] On the word “ mystery ,” see note on 11:25. The great Secret here is that of Salvation by Faith for all, of whatever nation, who come with “the obedience of faith” to Christ the Propitiation. See especially Ephesians 3:3-9 . Here, however, more than there, the emphasis seems to be on the freedom of the Way of Acceptance as well as on the world-wide largeness of the offer; on the “obedience of Faith” as well as on the “making of it known to all nations .” Not that Salvation by Faith was a secret unheard of till the Christian age; (for see ch. 4;) but that its Divine manifestation in the Cross, and consequent unreserved proclamation as the central truth of Redeeming Love, were new.

which was kept secret since the world began ] Lit. which had been reserved in silence during æonian times , or periods of ages . The “ages” here probably refer to the whole lapse of periods before the Gospel “age,” perhaps including not only human time with its patriarchal and Mosaic “ages,” and its ranges of pagan history, but the “age” of angelic life. For we gather (cp. Ephesians 3:10 ) that even to angels the Incarnation and its results in believing mankind formed a new manifestation of the Divine wisdom. The E. V. thus well represents the Gr. as a paraphrase. Cp. again Ephesians 3:3-9 .

26 . now ] In the days of Messiah, and in Him as the Propitiation. Cp. Colossians 1:26 .

by the scriptures , &c.] Lit. by means of (the) prophetic scriptures . This Epistle, and e.g. Acts 13:0 , are the best commentary on these words. The O. T., as the great prediction of Messiah and preparation for Him, was the text and the warrant of His Apostles wherever they went, and that for Gentiles as much as for Jews. When the Gentiles previously knew nothing of the O. T. the preaching would, of course, not take the O. T. as its starting-point; (see St Paul’s discourse at Athens;) but even in such cases it would bring forward the Prophecies as soon as possible, both as its credentials and its text. We have heard this verse unintentionally illustrated by a distinguished Hindoo convert, of great intellectual power; who attributed his ultimate escape from the maze of Brahminic pantheism to the attentive study of the Messianic prophecies side by side with the Gospel history.

the everlasting God ] The Gr. word ( aionios ) rendered everlasting perhaps refers back to the “ æons ” or “ages” of ver. 25. Q. d., “The Gospel is now revealed and proclaimed according to the will of Him who appoints and adjusts all the developements of His providence, alike past, present and to come.” He who rules all duration knows when to keep silence and when to break it. This adjective is nowhere else in the N. T. attached to the word God. On the adjective, see further on 2:7.

to all nations ] Lit. to (or perhaps better, for ) all the nations . The special reference is, of course, to the Gentiles .

for the obedience of faith ] i.e. to invite that obedience which, in fact, faith implies; that trustful acceptance of the terms of Salvation which may be described, in one aspect, as “ submission to the righteousness of God.” (See note on 10:3.) The thought is not so much of the course of moral obedience to which faith leads, as of the element of submission in the act of faith.

In this brief phrase the great Theme of the Epistle is heard for the last time.

27 . to God only wise ] So certainly; though the Gr. equally allows the rendering to the only wise God . But the assertion of His glory as the Only (absolutely) Wise Being is far more in harmony with the height and fulness of the language here, than the assertion that among all Divinities , real or supposed, He only is wise. The eternal Wisdom is here emphasized because the Gospel is its supreme expression. See especially the profound words of Ephesians 3:10 , and 1 Timothy 1:17 (with its connexion). Cp. also “Christ … the wisdom of God,” 1 Corinthians 1:24 . In Jude 1:25 , the word “wise” is probably to be omitted.

be glory , &c.] The lit. order and rendering of the remaining words is through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever. Amen . Here the construction becomes involved by the use of the relative, “ to whom; ” and this is equally so whether the relative refers to God or to Christ. That it refers to God seems to be proved, (1) by the opening words of ver. 25, which lead us to expect, through the whole passage, an ascription of praise to the Father; (2) by the name of Christ occurring in a phrase (see next note) which indicates His mediatorial work, as the Channel through which praise rises to the Father.

through Jesus Christ ] Meyer connects these words closely with the phrase “to God only wise,” and explains them to mean that the absolute Wisdom of God acts and is revealed through Jesus Christ . But this, though in itself eternally true, involves a grammatical construction sufficiently peculiar to recommend the more obvious one which takes the words “through Jesus Christ” to refer to the Son of God as our Channel of thanks and praise . Cp. ch. 1:8. We now explain the abrupt construction (see last note) as if St Paul had fully written, “Now to Him that is of power to stablish you, &c., we give thanks; even to God Only Wise, through Jesus Christ; to whom (i.e. to God) be the glory for ever.”

The construction of this Doxology is remarkable not only in itself, but in the fact that it was evidently left unaltered by St Paul and his friends. No various reading of the least importance occurs throughout it.

for ever. Amen ] See on 1:25, and on 11:33, &c. Justly does the great Epistle end with the highest of all thoughts, the Glory of God everlastingly manifested and confessed. Amen, so be it.

The Subscription

Written to the Romans , &c.] Lit. To the Romans [i.e. The Epistle to the Romans ] was written from Corinth, by means of Phœbe the servant of the Cenchrean church . This ancient “Subscription” is no doubt true to fact. In this it differs from those appended to 1 Cor., Galat., 1 Tim., which are contradictory to the contents of the respective Epistles; and from those appended to Thess. and Titus, which are difficult to be reconciled with the contents.

These “Subscriptions” (to St Paul’s Epistles) are said to be the work of Euthalius, a Bishop of the fifth century. They thus possess an antiquarian interest, but no historical authority. (See Scrivener’s Introduction to the Criticism of the N. T ., ed. 1874, p. 60.)


A. (Rabbinic doctrines; merit, privilege, &c. (Cch. 2, 3.)

B. The example of Abraham. (Ch. 4.)

C. St Paul and St James on Justification. Meaning of the word Faith

D. Imputed guilt of the first sin. (Ch. 5.)

E. The state described in ch. 7:14 24

F. Election. (Cch. 8, 9 11.)

G. Predestination. (Ch. 9.)

H. Reprobation. (Ch. 9.)

J. Subjection to “the powers that be.” (Ch. 13.)

K. Resemblances between the Roman and the Corinthian Epistles



The following extracts from the Talmud are from the late Dr A. M Caul’s Old Paths . The original Rabbinic, as well as the reference, is there given in each case.

(On the Talmud as evidence to opinion in St Paul’s day, see just below, Appendix B.)

“Every one of the children of men has merits and sins. If his merits exceed his sins, he is righteous. If his sins exceed his merits, he is wicked. If they be half and half, he is an intermediate person, בינוני .” p. 125. “Circumcision is equivalent to all the commandments that are in the Law.” p. 230. “The wise men have said, that Abraham our father sits at the door of hell (Gehinnom), and does not suffer any one that is circumcised to be cast into it.” p. 229. “Amongst all the commandments, there is not one that is equivalent to the study of the Law. Whereas the study of the Law is equivalent to all the commandments; for study leads to practice. Therefore, study always goes before good deeds”. p. 131. “What is a sojourning proselyte? A Gentile, who has taken upon himself the commandments given to the sons of Noah, but is not circumcised nor baptized. Such a one is received, and is of the pious of the nations of the world. And why is he called a sojourner? Because it is lawful for us to let him dwell among us in the land of Israel.… But a sojourning proselyte is not received except during the celebration of the year of jubilee ” (p. 34); i.e., during one year in fifty. But elsewhere the Talmud says that there has been no jubilee since the Captivity of the Ten Tribes (p. 35). Full proselytism is thus the only real hope for a Gentile. “What constitutes a Stranger (i.e. a full proselyte)? Sacrifice, circumcision, and baptism. At the present time, when there is no sacrifice, circumcision and baptism are necessary; and when the Temple is rebuilt, he must bring a sacrifice. A Ger (Stranger) is not a Ger until he is both circumcised and baptized.” p. 154.

These extracts may aid us, in some measure, in estimating the kind of prejudice against which St Paul aims in Romans 2:0 &c.

The work from which the extracts are taken, The Old Paths , ( נתיבות צולס ), is itself no mean illustration of the prophecies of Romans 11:0 . It was originally a serial, circulated (1836 7) among the Jews of London, as “a comparison of Modern Judaism with the religion of Moses and the Prophets;” and it is a deeply earnest while most temperate appeal by a Gentile Messianist to Jews.


Bp Lightfoot ( Ep. to the Galatians , detached note to ch. 3) makes it very probable that “at the time of the Christian era the passage in Genesis relating to Abraham’s faith had become a standard text in the Jewish schools … and that the interest thus concentrated upon it prepared the way for the fuller and more spiritual teaching of the Apostles.” By Philo, the great representative of Alexandria, Genesis 15:6 “is quoted or referred to at least ten times.” And in the Talmud, which reflects “fairly, though with some exceptions, the Jewish teaching at the Christian era,” “the significance attached to Abraham’s example may be inferred from the following passage in the Mechilta on Exodus 14:31 : ‘Great is faith, whereby Israel believed on Him that spake and the world was. For as a reward for Israel’s having believed in the Lord, the Holy Spirit dwelt on them.… Abraham our father inherited this world and the world to come solely by the merit of faith whereby he believed in the Lord; for it is said, and he believed in the Lord, and it was counted &c .… So … Habakkuk, The righteous liveth of his faith … Great is faith!’ ” 1 1 Observe that the idea of merit , visible in the above passages, is carefully excluded by St Paul. Bp Lightfoot adds in a note, that some later Jewish writers, “anxious, it would appear, to cut the ground from under St Paul’s inference of ‘righteousness by faith,’ interpreted the latter clause [of Genesis 15:6 ], ‘and Abraham counted on God’s righteousness,’ i.e. on His strict fulfilment of His promise.… Such a rendering is as harsh in itself as it is devoid of traditional support.”


The facts given in Appendix B. help to clear up the verbal discrepancy 1 1 Even should that discrepancy be still perplexing, the believer in the Divine plan of Scripture, as he looks at the relative fulness and detail of the passages in the two Apostles, will feel that the right order is to explain St James by St Paul, and not vice versâ . between St Paul’s explicit teaching that “a man is justified by faith without works ” and St James’ equally explicit teaching that “ by works a man is justified, and not by faith only ” (Epistle, 2:24). With only the N. T. before us it is hard not to assume that the one Apostle has in view some distortion of the doctrine of the other . But the fact that Abraham’s faith was a staple Rabbinic text alters the case, by making it perfectly possible that St James (writing to members of the Jewish Dispersion, 1:1,) had not apostolic but Rabbinic teaching in view. And the line such teaching took is indicated clearly by James 2:19 , where an example is given of the faith in question; and that example is concerned wholly with the grand Point of strictly Jewish orthodoxy God is One. This is doubly instructive; for it suggests (1) that the persons addressed were still almost as much Judaic as Christian; and (2) that, however that might be, their idea of faith was not trustful acceptance , a belief of the heart, but orthodox adherence , a belief of the head. And St James may very justly have taken these persons strictly on their own ground, and assumed, for his argument, their own very faulty account of faith to be correct.

He would thus be proving the point, equally dear to St Paul, that mere theoretic orthodoxy, apart from effects on the will, is valueless. He would not, in the remotest degree, be disputing the Pauline doctrine that the guilty soul is put into a position of acceptance with the Father only by vital connexion with the Son, and that this connexion is effectuated, absolutely and alone , not by personal merit, but by trustful acceptance of the Propitiation and its all-sufficient vicarious merit. From such trustful acceptance “works” (in the profoundest sense) will inevitably follow; not as antecedents but as consequents of Justification. And thus, to quote again words quoted in the notes, (p. 137,) “It is faith alone which justifies; but the faith which justifies can never be alone.”

See further Bp O’Brien’s Nature and Effects of Faith , Note V. p. 145.

It may be well here to make a few remarks on the meaning of the word “Faith” in connexion with the main doctrine of the Epistle to the Romans.

“Faith,” on the whole, i.e. in cases where an exceptional meaning 2 2 E.g. that of trustworthiness , (as in Rom. 3:3,) or that of the standard of belief, or that of a trust . is not traceable, is explained in Scripture (and this is only in harmony with human language) to be, as to its essence, trust. It will be enough to say that in every case where our Lord Himself inculcates Faith, the idea of Trust as the essence of Faith gives the one satisfactory account of the word. Faith is not reverence, nor credence of historic fact or evidence; nor is it zeal, nor even affection. It is personal and acting Trust 1 1 It is not too much to say that this account of Faith is given in the Documents (Confessions, Articles, or Homilies,) of all the Churches of the Reformation, and by all the great Protestant teachers of that age. See O’Brien, Nature &c. of Faith , p. 291 &c. .

Such trust may be rightly or wrongly placed; and in its placing 2 2 That justifying faith is “the gift of God” is certain, not only from Eph. 2:8, (where we hold the E. V. to be the true rendering,) but from the general testimony of Scripture and the reason of the case. But this means not that something is given us which is different from absolute trust as exercised in other cases, but that such trust is divinely guided and fixed upon the Right Object. lies all its efficacy or inefficacy in respect of putting guilty man into a position of acceptance with God. Even the persons rebuked in James 2:0 . trusted; but they were not justified; for their trust was, in effect, reposed not on God and His Promise, but on their own correct conception of His Unity. The man described in Romans 4:5 trusts , and is justified; not because it is in itself meritorious to trust, but because trust “in Him that justifieth the ungodly” is trust placed precisely aright, on a sinner’s part, in view of the Promise and the Propitiation, and of his own guilt.

In Hebrews 11:1 , it must be remembered, by the way, we have not a definition but a description of faith: we there see not what it essentially is, but what it is found, when really applied to God and His promises, to be able to do; even to grasp and anticipate the invisible Future. Faith has many directions of exercise besides trustful acceptance of the Propitiation; but it is with this latter work, which is also its perfectly characteristic work, that we have to do in Rom. 3 8; where certainly St Paul labours on every side of the subject to shut off extraneous ideas, and to give his reader not a vague but most definite view of the correlative facts of the all -sufficiency of Christ the Propitiation and the all -efficacy, for justification, of trustful acceptance of Him as such.


We make no attempt (beyond what is said in the notes) to clear up this Doctrine, which approaches as nearly as well can be to complete mystery, and leans upon relations between the Head of an intelligent Race and that Race which are probably “knowable” by the Eternal alone. All that we do here is to clear up the statement of the Doctrine; which means not that the Omniscient Judge is to be held to think of every individual man as having done Adam’s sin , but to hold every individual man (because of the mysterious link between him and the Head of his Race) liable to penalty because Adam sinned.

Exactly thus, we are not asked to believe that the Omniscient thinks of the justified as having personally satisfied His Justice , but that He holds them (because of their connexion with the Head of the New Race) accepted because Christ obeyed.


The controversy over this profound passage is far too wide to allow of full treatment here. It is scarcely needful to say that conclusions very different from those in the notes have been drawn by many most able and most devout expositors, ancient and modern. Very earnest convictions, mainly based on St Paul’s general teaching, and that of Scripture, alone could justify us in the positive statement of another view.

Here we offer only a few further general remarks.

(1) On the question what St Paul here meant very little certain light is thrown by quotations from pagan writers describing an inner conflict. For in the great majority of such passages the language manifestly describes the conflict of conscience and will; and the confusion of the voice of conscience with the far different voice of personal will is so easy, and no wonder, if Scripture truly describes the state of the human mind (cp. Ephesians 2:3 , Ephesians 2:4 :17, Ephesians 2:18 ) as to spiritual truth, that we believe that even the grandest utterances of pagan thought on this subject must yet be explained of a conflict not so much of will with will , as of will with conscience .

A careful collection of such passages (from Thucydides, Xenophon, Euripides, Epictetus, Plautus, both the Senecas, and Ovid) is given by Tholuck 1 1 Whose conclusions are very different from ours. , on Romans 7:15 . And our conviction on the whole, from these and similar passages, is that either they do not mean to describe a conflict of will with will, or that they betray the illusions to which the mind, unvisited by special grace, must surely be liable regarding the conditions of the soul’s action; illusions which this chapter, among other passages of Revelation, tends to dispel.

(2) Suppose the person described in ch. 7:14 25 to be not regenerate, not a recipient of the Holy Spirit; and compare the case thus supposed with the language of ch. 8:5 9. The consequence must be that one who is “ in the flesh ” (for St Paul recognizes neither here nor elsewhere an intermediate or semi-spiritual condition,) and who as such “ cannot please God ,” can vet truly say, “It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me;” and, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man;” and, “With the mind I myself serve the law of God.”

Now is this possible, from the point of view of St Paul’s teaching? For consider what he means by the law: not man’s subjective view of moral truth and right, but the absolute and profoundly spiritual demands of the True God upon not the approval of man but his whole will.

Surely when Divine grace makes plain to the man the width and depth of those demands, he needs a “renewing of the mind ” (Romans 12:2 ) if he is to say with truth, “I delight 1 1 A word which it is impossible to explain away. in the Law;” “I myself with my mind serve it.”

(3) The supposed impossibility of assigning the language of this passage to one who is meanwhile “in Christ” and “has peace with God” will at least seem less impossible if we remember St Paul’s manner of isolating a special aspect of truth. May he not, out of his profound, intense, and subtle spiritual experience, have chosen for a special purpose to look on one aspect only as if it were the whole? on his consciousness of the element which still called for “mortification,” hanging on “a cross,” “buffeting,” “groans,” “fear and trembling,” (8:13, 23; 1 Corinthians 9:27 ; Colossians 3:5 ; Philippians 2:12 , &c.;) almost as if he had no other consciousness?

(4) It is often assumed that ch. 8 is an express contrast to ch. 7:14 25. But it is far more likely that it is written to sum up the whole previous Epistle. (See note on 8:1.) If it is designed as a contrast to ch. 7, surely such words as those of 8:13, 23, are out of place.

With this view of ch. 8 there is less likelihood of our taking ch. 7 to describe a state antecedent to the experience of ch. 8. But however, if we are right in our remarks in (3), any view of ch. 8 still leaves ch. 7 quite free to be a description of (one side of) regenerate experience.

(5) Tholuck (on 7:15) quotes from Grotius the remark that “it would be a sad thing, indeed, if the Christian, as such , could apply these sayings” (those of the pagan writers who describe an inner conflict) “to himself.” But those who interpret ch. 7 of the experience of a Christian take it to describe not his experience as a Christian , but his experience as a man still in the body, but who, as a Christian, has been illuminated truly to apprehend that infinite Holiness which can only cease to conflict with a part of his condition when at length his trial-time is over.

F. ELECTION (Cch. 8, 9 11)

It is almost needless to say that the Election spoken of in ch. 8 &c. is variously explained. A large and important school of Theology (the Arminian) interprets it as a personal election, but contingent upon foreseen faith and perseverance. Another school 2 2 Or, more properly, other schools, with important differences among themselves in other respects. interprets it as an election not personal at all, but (so to speak) social; an election, like the election of the Jewish Nation, not to life eternal but to a vantage-ground for attaining it.

Without forgetting for a moment the awful mysteries of the subject, we yet feel that both these theories, with all (and it is very much) that can be said for them, do not fit the language of ch. 8 . and of St Paul’s (not to quote St John’s) general teaching. “Not according to our works” is surely the tone of this chapter and of the whole previous epistle, and of the next three chapters. And it seems to us impossible, on any other theory than that of a Personal Election to Life, antecedent to “our works” and mercifully prevailing in its purpose, quite naturally to explain the tone of rapturous joy which marks the closing passages of the chapter.

In the Seventeenth English Article, a masterpiece of careful expression, this result of the humble belief in an Election personal and effectual (but, observe, taking effect through moral means,) is strongly stated: “The godly consideration of Predestination, and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort , to godly persons, &c.”

See the whole Article; and especially the closing paragraph, in which the word “ generally ” is technical, and means “with regard to the genus; ” i.e. probably, mankind . The Article warns us to begin with faith in the promises to man as man, not with the question of personal election.


See note on chap. 8:30, on the original word.

On this great mystery, brought up with such stern force in ch. 9, we quote a few sentences from one who certainly spoke from no cold or unsympathetic heart Martin Luther. His Prœfatio in Ep, ad Romanos (translated into Latin from Luther’s German by his friend Justus Jonas) is indeed, as Tholuck describes it, “admirable, and breathing the very spirit of St Paul.” There is a very noble contemporary English paraphrase of it, by Tyndale, from which we take the following passage (Tyndale’s Doctrinal Treatises , Parker Soc. Edition, p. 505):

“In the ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapters he (Paul) treateth of God’s predestination, whence it springeth altogether whether we shall believe or not believe … By which predestination our justifying and salvation are clean taken out of our hands, and put in the hands of God only. For we are so weak and so uncertain, that, if it stood in us, there would of a truth be no man saved; the devil, no doubt, would deceive us. But now is God sure, that His predestination cannot deceive Him, neither can any man withstand or let Him; and therefore have we hope and trust against sin.

“But here must a mark be set to those unquiet, busy, and high-climbing spirits which begin first from an high ( sic ) to search the bottomless secrets of God’s predestination, whether they be predestinate or not. These must needs either cast themselves down headlong into desperation, or else commit themselves to free chance, careless. But follow thou the order of this Epistle, and noosel thyself 1 1 I.e. find shelter, as a child with a nurse . This striking clause is not in the Latin of the Præfatio . with Christ , and learn to understand what the Law and the Gospel mean, and the office of both the two; that thou mayest in the one know thyself, and how thou hast of thyself no strength but to sin, and in the other the grace of Christ; and then see thou fight against sin and the flesh, as the seven first chapters teach thee. After that, when thou art come to the eighth chapter, and art under the cross and suffering of tribulation , the necessity 2 2 Necessitas , fixed certainty. of predestination will wax sweet, and thou shalt well feel how precious a thing it is. For except thou have borne the cross of adversity and temptation, and hast felt thyself brought into the very brim of desperation, yea, and unto hell-gates, thou canst never meddle with the sentence of predestination without thine own harm, and without secret wrath and grudging inwardly against God; for otherwise it shall not be possible for thee to think that God is righteous and just … Take heed therefore unto thyself, that thou drink not wine, while thou art yet but a suckling. For … in Christ there is a certain childhood, in which a man must be content with milk for a season, until he wax strong and grow up unto a perfect man in Christ, and be able to eat of more strong meat.”

And to the last, surely, the dark problems that gather round the central and insoluble mystery of Sin will be safely approached only with the remembrance that “the Judge of all the earth” will “do right;” that He is the Eternal, and that His “ways” must therefore be “past finding out;” and that He “so loved the world that He gave His Only-begotten Son.”


In the last note but one on 9:22 we have alluded to the tenet that the lost are personally and positively fore-doomed to ruin. To this tenet Calvin was led, not by a passionless rigidity, from which his deep and sensitive temperament, and truly ample mind, were far removed; but by the conviction that it was inexorably demanded by Scripture and reason. But St Augustine, the great patristic teacher of Predestination, carefully avoided such a tenet; teaching that, however little we can fathom the mystery, man’s sin, running its proper course, is the only cause of man’s ruin; while yet special grace is the only cause of his salvation.


The following extract from Thomas Scott’s remarks on Romans 13:0 is full of strong sense and clear statement:

“Perhaps nothing involves greater difficulties, in very many instances, than to ascertain to whom, either individually or collectively, the authority justly belongs … If then, the most learned and intelligent men find insuperable difficulties … respecting this subject, how shall the bulk of the people be able to decide it? And if Christians are first to determine concerning the right by which their rulers possess and exercise authority, before they think themselves bound to obedience, they must very commonly indeed be engaged in opposition to ‘the existing authorities.’ But the Apostle’s design was to mark out the plain path of duty to Christians, however circumstanced.… Submission in all things lawful [i.e., not forbidden by the Supreme Divine Authority] to ‘the existing authorities’ is our duty at all times and in all cases; though in civil convulsions, and amid great revolutions, or sudden changes in governments, there may frequently, for a season, be a difficulty in determining which are … ‘the existing authorities.’ ”


In the Introduction, ch. 5, we have collected and analyzed the main resemblances between the Romans and Galatians; resemblances so marked and peculiar that they fairly constitute an independent proof that the two Epistles stand nearly together in point of time. The case is rather different with the resemblances between Romans and Corinthians . These (except the resemblance of quotation noticed below) are scarcely sufficient to afford independent proof of date; for resemblances nearly as considerable in proportion might be traced, e.g., between Romans and Philippians . But since other and external evidence fairly establishes the nearness in date of Romans and Corinthians , it becomes an interesting enquiry in the way of illustration, how far their topics and expression run in similar lines. We subjoin some of the chief instances; giving references to the Corinthian Epistles only, and leaving the reader to supply the parallel (and sometimes the contrast) from his own study of the Epistle to the Romans.

α . 1 Corinthians 1:29 , (“that no flesh should glory in His presence;”) 2:10, (“The Spirit searcheth all things, &c.”;) 3:22, (“all things are yours … things present, or things to come;”) 6:11, (“Ye are justified;”) 8, (Principles of toleration for the guidance of “the strong;”) 9:27, (Conflict with the body;) 12, (Diversity of Christian gifts;) 15:21, 22, 45, (The Second Adam;) 56, (“The strength of sin is the Law.”)

β . 2 Corinthians 1:24 , (“By faith ye stand;”) 3:16, (The “vail” on Jewish hearts;) 4:17, (Contrast of present suffering and coming glory;) 5:2, (The “groaning” of the saints;) 10, (“The judgment-seat;”) 14, (Vicarious death;) 19, (Imputation;) 21, (Christ made sin for us; cp. Galatians 3:13 ;) ibidem, (“The righteousness of God;) 10:13 16, (Paul will take no credit for labours not his own;) 11:2, (Christ the mystic Husband;) 22, (“Are they Hebrews? so am I; are they Israelites? so am I.”)

Perhaps the most striking general sign of relationship between the Epistles to Corinth, Galatia, and Rome, is their abundance of Old Testament quotation. An examination of any other Epistle of St Paul’s (putting the Hebrews apart) will make this plain. The only Epistles of the N. T. which in this respect can be compared to the Four now in question are the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the First Epistle of St Peter.


After an interval of some years, the Editor adds a few words of qualification to his notes on the opening of ch. 6 and the close of ch. 7.

(1) Ch. 6:1 11. The explanation of this passage as a whole still seems to the Editor to be right, particularly in respect of vv. 2, 7, 10, 14. But in the whole interpretation more prominence should be given to the Union of the Christian with his Lord not only in acceptance or justification , with its great moral results upon the will, but also in life by the Holy Spirit. The new creation is such that the member and Head are “one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17 ), and the member derives from the Head spiritual force and faculty profoundly altering the conditions and possibilities of deliverance from sin’s “reign” (ver. 12), and so of holy obedience.

(2) Ch. 7:7 25. Here again the explanation as a whole still seems sound. But one great feature of the passage needs to be noticed; its silence about the Holy Spirit. In view of this the Editor adds the following remarks (from his Outlines of Christian Doctrine , pp. 196, 197): “[We have in Romans 7:7-25 ] the inner experience of the fully regenerate, but presented for study under peculiar conditions isolated from the Divine factor of the Holy Spirit’s conquering work, and observed as in view of the absolute holiness of the law of God (ver. 12), and the constant presence (ver. 18) of ‘the flesh,’ and the insight of the renewed reason (vv. 22, 23, 25) into the glory of the will of God and the hatefulness of the least sin.… The regenerate man, assailed by temptation through ‘the flesh’ (in its moral … sense), meets the attack with his highest regenerate powers, but without actively calling in the Divine force of the Comforter, by whom he is in Christ and Christ in him. And the conflict continues in partial but serious failure, at the best. It is otherwise when (8:13) we ‘ through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body.’ Romans 7:0 thus describes a real element in the regenerate life, liable to be experienced at any … moment. And in the mystery of the Fall it is experienced, in the light of the absolute holiness of the law (ver. 12), brought home by the Spirit as enlightener.”

index to introduction, notes, and appendices

* * * From this Index are omitted, for the most part, such references as are obviously indicated by chapter and verse of the Text.

Abraham, 34, 35, 260

Adam, 36, 37, 105, 262

Advent, the First, 200, 220

Advent expectation of the Second, 219

ages, 256, 257

Amen, 165

anathema, 163

Antinomians, 251 and note note We think, however, that the opinions refuted in ch. 6 are not identical with those corrected in cch. 14, 15. In the former case, St Paul makes no compromise; in the latter, as regards abstract principle , he almost identifies himself with those whom he reproves. In the present verse, accordingly, we take the Antinomians whom the Romans are to avoid to be Antinomians in the fullest sense; rejecters of the moral (as well as ceremonial) law in all respects; heretics, in fact, of the type afterwards developed in some forms of Gnosticism, holding, probably, that the acts of the body were indifferent to the soul. They thus may have coincided with the persons in view in ch. 16, but hardly with those in view in cch. 14, 15.

Apostle, 49, 248

Arabia, 11

Articles, the xxxix., quoted, 213, 265

Augustine, St, 154, 222, 266

authority, civil, 45, 214 217, 267

Baptism, 112, 113, 221

Barbarian, 56

Bingham, Joseph, quoted, 246, 247

body, 114, 134, 144, 152

body the mystical, 208

Bonar quoted, 158

Book of Praise ” referred to, 134, note note In Lord Selborne’s Book of Praise will be found a most remarkable Hymn, (No. ccclxx), beginning “O send me down a draught of love.” The whole Hymn forms a profound and suggestive commentary here.

Browne, Bp, referred to, 50

call of grace, 52, 155

Calvin, quoted or referre dto, 137, 149, 266

capital punishment, 216

charisma , 54, 201, 208

Chinese Christians, 214

Christ (Messiah), 49

Clement, St, of Rome, 22, 23, 26

Coleridge, S. T., quoted, 18

conflict, inner, 38, 130, 263

conscience, 46, 47, 70, 228, 262, 263

Corinthian Epistles, 16, 267

deaconesses, 246

death, penal in the case of man, 36, 104

death to sin, 112

despotism, 214

difficulties of belief, 171

dogmatic truth, 161, 204

doxology, final, 28, 29

duties and rights, 214

election, 158, 167, 168, 250, 264

era, Christian, 8

eternal, 68

Euthahlius, 28, 258

example of Christ, 234

faith, 33, 57, 85, 89, 96, 207, 209, 261, 262

faith, effects of, 36, 37, 104

fall, effects of the, 36, 104

Fatherhood of God, 147, 163

flesh, 88, 120, 124, 140

“for ever,” 165

freedom, civic, 8

Galatian Epistle, 16, 29, 30

galleys, sufferers in the French, 160

Gamaliel, 9

Gethsemane, possible allusion to, 234

glory, 67

glory of God, 84, 100, 174, 203, 258

glory of God the supreme aim of the inspired writers, 203

God His own Final Cause of action, 204

Godhead of the Son, 164, 165, 225

Greeks, 56

guilt, 82

guilt imputed, 36, 104, 106, 107, 262

“Hebrew,” 7

Hebrews, Epistle to the, 22, 268

Herbert quoted, 228

High Priest, civil authority of the, 10

Howson quoted, 247

idolatry, 60

immortality, 67

imputation, 89, 91

in , use of the preposition, 53, 54

inspiration, 19, 95, 175, 177, 180, 181

irony, 121, 243

isolation of truths in St Paul’s teaching, 264

Israel, future of, 43, 44, 162, 193

James, St, doctrine of, 261

Jews, spiritual priority of, 57

Jews of Rome, 21, note note The cautious language of these Jews to St Paul (Acts 28:21, 22) does not prove, as some have said, that they knew nothing of any Christian Church at Rome. They spoke diplomatically, with the wish to hear St Paul’s own account of the “Nazarenes.”

Jewish maxims 66, 259

Jewish unbelief, 19, 40 42

Judaic party, 12

justification, 19, 33, 58, 70, 85, 89, 90, 98, 115, 122, 180

law, 38, 39, 62, 70, 83, 105, 126, 127, 135

law of faith, 34, 35, 87

laws, moral and physical, 62, 87

Lewin referred to, 8, 23

liberté, égalité, fraternité ,” 212

life, 7, 122

Lightfoot, John, quoted, 9, note note Cp. Conybeare and Howson, Vol. I. p. 69 71.

Lightfoot, Bp, quoted, 16, 23, 260

Luther, quoted, 265

man, the inner, 133

Marcion, 28

Messiah, promise of, 50

Meyer, quoted, 24, and often

mind, 134

Monod, quoted, 25, 64

Monnica, 154

mystery, 198, 256

names, 245, 250

Neff, Felix, quoted, 250

Newman, J. H., quoted, 24

O’Brien, Bp, referred to, 261, 262

Old Paths ,” quoted, 259

opinion, responsibility for, 225, 228

Paul, St, his name, 8

Paul, St, his date of birth, 8

Paul, St, his conversion, 10

Paul, St, his character, 24, 25, 55

Paul, St, his relations with Rome, 17, 18

Paul, St, his date of death, 22

Paul, St, his person, 23, 24

Pastoral epistles, 22

perseverance, 197, 201

Peter, St, his traditional Roman Episcopate, 17, note note The silence of our Epistle, and of the Epistles afterwards written from Rome, is itself sufficient evidence against the legend (recorded and accepted by St Jerome) of St Peter’s Episcopate at Rome.

Peter, St, his First Epistle, 268

Phinehas, 89

“play on words,” 207, 232, 246

plural for singular, 81

predestination, 156, 265

priesthood, 239

prophecies, 164, 257

prophesyings, 13, 208

quotations from O. T. in the Epistle, 31, 268

reconciliation, 99, 103

redemption, 85

regenerate state, 38, 39, 141, 143

repentance, 66

reprobation, 173, 266

revenge, Christian, 213

righteousness, how far an equivalent term to justification, 108, 119, 120

righteousness of God, 57, 86

Roman Church, 17

Romans, Epistle to the, 17 20

Romans, Epistle to the argument, 31 48

Romans, Epistle to the date, 26

Romans, Epistle to the place of writing, 26

Romans, Epistle to the language, 26

Rome, evangelization of, 14

sabbath, 223

sacerdotal metaphor, 205, 238

salvation, 56

schema and morphé , 206

Scott, Thomas, quoted, 266

scripture, 58, 77, 96, 123, 170, 257

self, 128, 131, 132

Semler, 27

Septuagint, 9

Shechinah, 163

sin, 64, 82, 163

sin still present in the justified, 116, 146

sonship, 39, 147, 156

sonship of the Redeemer, 158

soul, 141

sovereignty, 41, 42, 170, 171, 189

Spain, 18, 22, 23, 242

Spirit, the Divine, 125, 140

Sprit, the human, 140

subscriptions to epistles, 258

substitutionary penalty, 139

supernatural and natural in Scripture, 239

Talmud, quoted, 66, 259, 260

Targum, 9, note note Cp. Conybeare and Howson, Vol. I. p. 69 71.

Targum, quoted, 181

Tarsus, 7

Taylor, Isaac, quoted, 210

Tholuck, referred to, 263, 264, 265

toleration, 46

Trench, Abp, quoted, 206

“Unknowable, the,” 59

unregenerate state, 125, 131, 141, 143, 263

will, 114, 168, 170, 173

works, good, 67, 213

world, 93

worship, places of, in apostolic times, 247

wrath of God, 58, 66, 67

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Romans 16". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cgt/romans-16.html. 1896.
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