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Bible Commentaries

Godet's Commentary on Selected Books

Romans 1

Verse 1

Vv. 1, 2. “ Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, an apostle by [his] call, separated unto the gospel of God, which he had promised afore by his prophets in the Holy Scriptures.

Paul introduces himself in this Rom 1:1 with the utmost solemnity; he puts his whole letter under the authority of his apostleship, and the latter under that of God Himself. On the name Paul, see Introd. p. 16. After having thus presented his personality, he effaces it, as it were, immediately by the modest title of δοῦλος servant. We need not translate this term by the word slave, which in our modern languages suggests a more painful idea than the Greek term. The latter contains the two ideas of property and of obligatory service. It may consequently be applied to the relation which every Christian bears to the Lord ( 1Co 7:22 ). If we take it here in this sense, the name would imply the bond of equality in the faith which unites Paul to his brethren at Rome. Yet as this letter is not a simple fraternal communication, but an apostolic message of the highest importance, it is more natural to take the word servant in a graver sense, the same as it certainly has in the address of the Epistle to the Philippians 1:1: “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi.” The term servant, thus contrasted with the term saints, evidently denotes a special ministry. In point of fact, there are men who are called to exemplify the general submission which all believers owe to the Lord, in the form of a particular office; they are servants in the limited sense of the word. The Received reading: of Jesus Christ, sets first in relief the historical person ( Jesus), then His office of Messiah ( Christ). This form was the one which corresponded best to the feeling of those who had first known Jesus personally, and afterward discovered Him to be the Messiah. And so it is the usual and almost technical phrase which prevailed in apostolic language. But the Vat. and the Vulg. read: Χριστοῦ ᾿Ιησου , of Christ Jesus; first the office, then the person. This form seems preferable here as the less usual. It corresponded to the personal development of Paul, who had beheld the glorified Messiah before knowing that He was Jesus. The title servant was very general, embracing all the ministries established by Christ; the title apostle denotes the special ministry conferred on Paul. It is the most elevated of all. While Christ's other servants build up the church, either by extending it ( evangelists) or perfecting it ( pastors and teachers), the apostles, with the prophets (Christian prophets), have the task of founding it; comp. Ephesians 4:12. Paul was made a partaker of this supreme charge.

And he was so, he adds, by way of call. The relation between the two words called and apostle is not that which would be indicated by the paraphrase: “Called to be an apostle.” This meaning would rather have been expressed by the participle ( κληθείς ). In Romans 1:7, the corresponding phrase: called saints, has quite another meaning from: called to be saints (which would assume that they are not so). The meaning is: saints by way of call, which implies that they are so in reality. Similarly, Paul means that he is an apostle, and that he is so in virtue of the divine vocation which alone confers such an office. There is here no polemic against the Judaizers; it is the simple affirmation of that supreme dignity which authorizes him to address the church as he is now doing; comp. Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1. These two ideas, apostle and call, naturally carry our minds back to the time of his conversion. But Paul knows that his consecration to this ministry goes farther back still; and this is the view which is expressed in the following phrase: ἀφωρισμένος , set apart. This word, in such a context, cannot apply to any human consecration, such as that which he received along with Barnabas at Antioch, with a view to their first mission, though the same Greek term is used, Acts 13:2. Neither does it express the notion of an eternal election, which would have been denoted by the compound προωρισμένος , destined beforehand,” as in the other cases where a decree anterior to time is meant. The expression seems to me to be explained by the sentence, Galatians 1:15, which is closely related to this: “But when it pleased God, who had separated me ( ἀφορίσας με ) from my mother's womb, and called me ( καλέσας με ) by His grace.” In this passage of the Galatians he comes down from the selection to the call, while here he ascends from the call to the selection. Let the reader recall what we have said, Introd. Philippians 4:0 and 5, as to the providential character of all the previous circumstances of Saul's life. The apostle might well recognize in that whole chain the signs of an original destination to the task with which he saw himself invested. This task is expressed in the words: unto the gospel of God, εἰς εὐαγγέλιον Θεοῦ . If by the word gospel we understand, as is usually done, the contents of the divine message, then we must place the notion of preaching in the preposition εἰς , in order to, and paraphrase it thus: “ in order to proclaim the gospel.”

This meaning of the word gospel is hardly in keeping with the living character of primitive Christian language. The word rather denotes in the New Testament the act of gospel preaching; so a few lines below, Romans 1:9, and particularly 1 Thessalonians 1:5, where Paul says: “Our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you.” These words have no sense unless by our gospel, Paul means, our preaching of the gospel. In this case the preposition for preserves its simple meaning. The absence of the article before the words gospel and God, give to the words a sort of descriptive sense: a message of divine origin. The genitive Θεοῦ , of God, here denotes the author of the message, not its subject; for the subject is Christ, as is mentioned afterward. Paul thus bears within him the unspeakably elevated conviction of having been set apart, from the beginning of his existence, to be the herald of a message of grace ( εὖ ἀγγέλλειν , to announce good news) from God to mankind. And it is as the bearer of this message that he addresses the church of Rome. If the apostle does not add to his name that of any fellow-laborer, as he does elsewhere, it is because he is doing this act in his official character as the apostle of the Gentiles, a dignity which he shares with no other. So it is Ephesians 1:1 (in similar circumstances).

But this preaching of salvation by the apostles has not dropped suddenly from heaven. It has been prepared or announced long before; this fact is the proof of its decisive importance in the history of humanity. This is what is expressed in Romans 1:2.

Several commentators think that the words: which He had promised afore, had no meaning, unless the word gospel, Romans 1:1, be taken as referring to salvation itself, not as we have taken it, to the act of preaching. But why could not Paul say that the act of evangelical preaching had been announced beforehand? “Who hath believed our preaching? ” exclaims Isaiah ( Isa 53:1 ), “and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” And Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful are the feet of him who bringeth good tidings, and who publisheth peace!” Finally, Isaiah 40:1-2: “Comfort ye my people, your God will say...Cry unto Jerusalem, that her set time is accomplished.” The apostle himself quotes these passages, Romans 10:15-16. The preaching of the gospel to Jews and Gentiles appears to him a solemn act marking a new era, the hour of universal salvation long expected; so he characterizes it also, Acts 17:30; Ephesians 3:5-7; Titus 1:3. It is not wonderful that his feelings rise at the thought of being the principal instrument of a work thus predicted! He thereby becomes himself a predicted person, continuing as he does the work of the prophets by fulfilling the future they announced. The πρό , beforehand, added to the word promise, is not a pleonasm; it brings out forcibly the greatness of the fact announced. The pronoun αὐτοῦ , “ His prophets,” denotes the close relation which unites a prophet to God, whose instrument he is. The epithet holy, by which their writings are characterized, is related to this pronoun. Holiness is the seal of their divine origin. The absence of the article before γραφαί , scriptures, has a descriptive bearing: “in scriptures which have this character, that they are holy.”

Baur and his school find in this mention of the prophetic promises a proof of the Judeo-Christian origin of the majority of the church, and of the desire which the apostle had to please it. But the Old Testament was read and known in the churches of the Gentiles; and the object with which the apostle refers to the long theocratic preparation which had paved the way for the proclamation of salvation, is clear enough without our ascribing to him any so particular intention.

This mention of prophecy forms the transition to Romans 1:3, where Jesus is introduced in the first place as the Jewish Messiah, and then as the Son of God.

Verses 1-7

First Passage (1:1-7). The Address.

The form of address usual among the ancients contained three terms: “N. to N. greeting. ” Comp. Acts 23:26: “Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix greeting.” Such is the type we have here, but modified in execution to suit the particular intention of the apostle. The subject, Paul, is developed in the first six verses; the persons addressed, to the Christians in Rome, in the first half of Romans 1:7, and the object, greeting, in the second.

One is surprised at the altogether extraordinary extension bestowed on the development of the first term. It is very much the same in the Epistle to the Galatians. The fact is accounted for in the latter writing by the need which Paul felt to give the lie at once to the calumnies of his Judaizing adversaries, who denied his divine call to the apostleship. His object in our Epistle is wholly different. His concern is to justify the exceptional step he is taking at the moment, in addressing a letter of instruction like that which follows, to a church on which he seemed to have no claim.

In these six verses, 1-6, Paul introduces himself; first, as an apostle in the general sense of the word, as called directly by God to the task of publishing the message of salvation, Romans 1:1-2; then he indulges in an apparent digression regarding the object of his message, the person of Jesus Christ, who had appeared as the Messiah of Israel, but was raised by His resurrection to the state of the Son of God, Romans 1:3-4; finally, from the person of the Lord he returns to the apostleship, which he has received from this glorified Lord, and which he describes as a special apostleship to the Gentile world, Romans 1:5-6.

Verses 1-15

PREFACE. 1:1-15.

THE framework of the Epistle to the Romans is, as we have seen, the same as that of the most of Paul's other Epistles: 1. An epistolary preface; 2. The body of the letter; 3. An epistolary conclusion.

This introduction is intended to establish a relation between the apostle and his readers which does not yet exist, inasmuch as he did not found the church, and had not yet visited it. It embraces: 1. The address; 2. A thanksgiving for the work of the Lord at Rome.

Verses 3-4

Vv. 3, 4. “ Concerning his Son, born of the race of David according to the flesh; established as the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

The apostle first designates the subject of gospel preaching in a summary way: it is Jesus Christ viewed as the Son of God. The preposition περί , concerning, might indeed depend on the substantive εὐαγγέλιον ( gospel), Romans 1:1, in virtue of the verbal meaning of the word; but we should require in that case to take Rom 1:2 as a parenthesis, which is by no means necessary. Why not make this clause dependent on the immediately preceding verb: which He had promised afore? This promise of the preaching of the gospel related to His Son, since it was He who was to be the subject of the preaching.

Here begins a long period, first expressing this subject in a general way, then analyzing it in parallel propositions, which, point by point, form an antithesis to one another. They are not connected by any of the numerous particles in which the Greek language abounds; their simple juxtaposition makes the contrast the more striking.

It has been sought to explain the title Son of God merely as an official name: the theocratic King by way of eminence, the Messiah. The passages quoted in favor of this meaning would suffice, if they were needed to refute it: John 1:50, for example, where the juxtaposition of the two titles, Son of God and King of Israel, so far from demonstrating them to be synonymous, refutes the view, and where the repetition of the verb thou art gives of itself the proof of the contrary; and Psalms 2:7, where Jehovah says to the Messiah: “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee.” This last expression is applied to the installation of the Messiah in His kingly office. But to beget never signifies to establish as king; the word denotes a communication of life.

Some explain the title by the exceptional moral perfection of Jesus, and the unbroken communion in which He lived with God. Thus the name would include nothing transcending the limits of a simple human existence. But can this explanation account for the passage, Romans 8:3: “God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh”...? It is obvious from this phrase that Paul ascribes an existence to the Son anterior to His coming in the flesh.

The title Son is also explained by our Lord's miraculous birth. So, for example, M. Bonnet: “In consequence of His generation by the Holy Spirit, He is really the Son of God.” Such, indeed, is the meaning of the term in the message of the angel to Mary: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee... wherefore that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” But the passage, Romans 8:3, just quoted, shows that the apostle used the name in a more elevated sense still, though the notion of the miraculous birth has obviously a very close connection with that of pre-existence.

Several theologians of our day think that the title Son of God applies to Jesus only on account of His elevation to divine glory, as the sequel of His earthly existence. But our passage itself proves that, in the apostle's view, the divine state which followed His resurrection is a recovered and not an acquired state. His personal dignity as Son of God, proceeded on from Romans 1:3, is anterior to the two phases of His existence, the earthly and the heavenly, which are afterward described.

The idea of Christ's divine pre-existence is one familiar to St. Paul's mind, and alone explains the meaning which he attached to the term Son of God. Comp. (besides Rom 8:3 ) 1 Corinthians 8:6: “One Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him;” Paul thus ascribes to Him the double creation, the physical and the spiritual; 1 Corinthians 10:4: “For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ;” Paul thus regards Christ as the Divine Being who accompanied the Israelites in the desert, and who, from the midst of the cloud, wrought all their deliverances; Philippians 2:6: “Who, being in the form of God,...emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” Add 2 Corinthians 8:9: “Who, though He was rich, yet for your sakes became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.” The riches of which He stripped Himself, according to the last of these passages, are, according to the preceding, the form of God belonging to Him, His divine mode of being anterior to His incarnation; and the poverty to which He descended is nothing else than His servant form, or the human condition which he put on. It is through His participation in our state of dependence that we can be raised to His state of glory and sovereignty. There remains, finally, the crowning passage on this subject, Colossians 1:15-17.

Son of God essentially, Christ passed through two phases, briefly described in the two following propositions. The two participles with which they both open serve as points of support to all the subsequent determining clauses. The fundamental antithesis is that between the two participles γενομένου and ὁρισθέντος ; to this there are attached two others; the first: of the race of David and Son of God; the second: according to the flesh and according to the Spirit of holiness. Two phrases follow in the second proposition, with power and through His resurrection from the dead, which seem to have no counterpart in the first. But the attentive reader will have no difficulty in discovering the two ideas corresponding to them. They are those of weakness, a natural attribute of the flesh and of birth; for His resurrection is to Jesus, as it were, a second birth. Let us first study the former proposition by itself. The word γενομένου may bear the meaning either of born or become. In the second case, the word relates to the act of incarnation, that mysterious change wrought in His person when He passed from the divine to the human state. But the participle γενομένου being here construed with the preposition ἐκ , out of, from, it is simpler to take the verb in the sense of being born, as in Galatians 4:4: “ born of a woman ” ( γενόμενον ἐκ γυναικός ). The phrase κατὰ σάρκα , according to the flesh, serves, as Hofmann says, “to restrict this affirmation to that side of His origin whereby He inherited human nature.” For the notion of a different origin was previously implied in the phrase Son of God.

What are we to understand here by the term flesh? The word has three very distinct meanings in the Old and the New Testaments. 1. It denotes the muscular and soft parts of the body, in opposition both to the hard parts, the bones, and to the liquid parts, the blood; so Genesis 2:23: “This is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh;” and John 6:56: “He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood.” 2. The word often denotes the entire human (or animal) body, in opposition to the soul; for example, 1 Corinthians 15:39: “There is one flesh of men, another flesh of beasts,” a saying in which the word flesh, according to the context, denotes the entire organism. In this second sense the part is simply taken for the whole. 3. By the same sort of figure, only still more extended, the word flesh sometimes denotes the whole of man, body and soul, in opposition to God the Creator and His omnipotence. So Psalms 65:2: “Unto Thee shall all flesh (every creature) come;” Romans 3:20: “No flesh (no man) shall be justified in His sight.” The first of these three meanings is inapplicable in our passage, for it would imply that Jesus received from His ancestor David only the fleshy parts of His body, not the bones and blood! The second is no less so; for it would follow from it that Jesus inherited from David only His bodily life, and not the psychical, the higher powers of human life, feeling, understanding, and will. This opinion is incompatible with the affirmation of the full humanity of Jesus, as we find in the writings of Paul (comp. Romans 5:15; 1Ti 2:5 ) and of John. For the latter, as well as Paul, ascribes to Jesus a human soul, a human spirit; comp. John 12:27: “My soul is troubled;” John 11:33: “He groaned in His spirit. ” There remains, therefore, only the third meaning, which suits the passage perfectly. As a human creature, Jesus derives His origin from David. All that is human in Him, spirit, soul, and body ( 1Th 5:23 ), so far as these elements are hereditary in mankind in general, this whole part of His being is marked by the Davidic, and consequently Jewish character. This royal and national seal is impressed not only on His physical nature and temperament, but also on His moral tendencies and aspirations; and this hereditary life could alone form the basis of His Messianic calling, without, however, obliging us to forget that in the Jew there is always the man, under the national, the human element. This meaning which we give to the word flesh is absolutely the same as that in the passage of John, which forms, as it were, the text of his Gospel: “The Word was made flesh ( σὰρξ ἐγένετο ),” John 1:14.

Relation of this saying to the miraculous birth.

In expressing himself as he does here, does St. Paul think of Jesus' Davidic descent through Joseph or through Mary? In the former case the miraculous birth would be excluded (Meyer and Reuss). But would this supposition be consistent, on the one hand, with the idea which the apostle forms of Jesus' absolute holiness; on the other, with his doctrine of the transmission of sin to the whole human race? He says of Jesus, Romans 8:3: “Sent in the likeness of sinful flesh;2 Corinthians 5:21: “He who knew no sin; ” he ascribes to Him the part of an expiatory victim ( ἱλαστήριον ), which excludes the barest idea of a minimum of sin. And yet, according to him, all Adam's descendants participate in the heritage of sin (Romans 1:12; Romans 1:19, Rom 3:9 ). How reconcile these propositions, if his view is that Jesus descends from David and from Adam absolutely in the same sense as the other descendants of Adam or David? Paul thus necessarily held the miraculous birth; and that so much the more, as the fact is conspicuously related in the Gospel of Luke, his companion in work. A contradiction between these two fellow-laborers on this point is inadmissible. It is therefore through the intervention of Mary, and of Mary alone, that Jesus, according to Paul's view, descended from David. And such is also the meaning of the genealogy of Jesus in Luke's Gospel ( Rom 3:23 ). Thus there is nothing to prevent us from placing the beginning of the operation of the Holy Spirit on the person of Jesus (to which the words: according to the Spirit of holiness, Romans 1:4, refer) at His very birth.

Yet this mode of hereditary existence does not exhaust His whole being. The title Son of God, placed foremost, contains a wealth which transcends the contents of this first assertion, Romans 1:3, and becomes the subject of the second proposition, Romans 1:4. Many are the interpretations given of the participle ὁρισθέντος . The verb ὁρίζειν (from ὅρος , boundary) signifies: to draw a limit, to separate a domain from all that surrounds it, to distinguish a person or a thing. The marking off may be only in thought; the verb then signifies: to destine to, decree, decide. So Luke 22:22, and perhaps Acts 10:42; Acts 17:31. Or the limitation may be traced in words; the verb then signifies: to declare. Or, finally, it may be manifested in an external act, a fact obvious to the senses, which leads to the meaning: to install, establish, or demonstrate by a sign. The first meaning: to destine to, has been here attempted by Hofmann. But this sense is incompatible with the clause: by the resurrection, and it would certainly have been expressed by the word προορισθέντος , destined beforehand (comp. Romans 8:29-30; 1Pe 1:20 ), it being impossible that the divine decree relative to the glorification of Jesus should be posterior to his mission to the world. Founding on the second meaning, many (Osterv., Oltram.) translate: “ declared to be the Son of God.” But the notion of declaration, and even the stronger one of demonstration, are insufficient in the context. For the resurrection of Jesus not only manifested or demonstrated what He was; it wrought a real transformation in His mode of being. Jesus required to pass from His state as son of David to that of Son of God, if He was to accomplish the work described in Romans 1:5, and which the apostle has in view, that of the calling of the Gentiles. And it was His resurrection which introduced Him into this new state. The only meaning, therefore, which suits the context is the third, that of establishing. Peter says similarly, Acts 2:36: “God hath made ( ἐποίησε ) that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Hofmann has disputed the use of the verb ὁρίζειν in this sense. But Meyer, with good ground, adduces the following saying of a poet: σὲ Θεὸν ὥρισε δαίμων , “destiny made thee God.” Not that the apostle means, as Pfleiderer would have it, that Jesus became the Son of God by His resurrection. He was restored, and restored wholly that is to say, with His human nature to the position of Son of God which He had renounced on becoming incarnate. The thought of Paul is identical with that of the prayer of Jesus on the eve of His death, as we have it in John's Gospel ( Joh 17:5 ): “Father, glorify Thou me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” Jesus always was the Son: at His baptism, through the manifestation of the Father, He recovered His consciousness of Sonship. At His resurrection He was re-established, and that as man, in His state of Sonship. The antithesis of the two terms, born and established, so finely chosen, seems thus perfectly correct.

Three clauses serve to determine the participle established. The first indicates the manner: ἐν δυνάμει , with power; the second, the moral cause: κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης , according to the spirit of holiness; the third, the efficient cause: ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν , by His resurrection from the dead. With power, signifies: in a striking, triumphant manner. Some have thought to take this phrase as descriptive of the substantive Son of God; “the Son of God in the glory of His power,” in opposition to the weakness of His earthly state. But the antithesis of the two propositions is that between the Son of God and the son of David, and not that between the Son of God in power and the Son of God in weakness. The phrase: with power, refers therefore to the participle established: established by an act in which the power of God is strikingly manifested (the resurrection, wrought by the glory of the Father, Rom 6:4 ). The second clause: according to the spirit of holiness, has been explained in a multitude of ways. Some have regarded it as indicating the divine nature of Jesus in contrast to his humanity, the spirit of holiness being thus the second person of the Trinity; so Melanchthon and Bengel. But, in this case, what term would be left to indicate the third? The second divine person is designated by the names Son or Word, not Spirit. According to Theodoret, what is meant is the miraculous power which Jesus possessed on the earth; but how are we to explain the complement of holiness? and what relation is there between the virtue of working miracles, possessed by so many prophets, and the installation of Jesus in His place as Son of God? Luther understood by it the effusion of the Holy Spirit on the church, effected by Christ glorified. Then it would be necessary to translate: “ demonstrated to be the Son of God by the spirit of holiness, whom he poured out.” But this meaning does not suit the third clause, whereby the resurrection is indicated as the means of the ὁρίζειν , not Pentecost. No doubt one might, in this case, translate: “ since the resurrection.” But Pentecost did not begin from that time. Meyer and others regard the spirit of holiness as meaning, in opposition to the flesh: the inner man in in Jesus, the spirit as an element of His human nature, in opposition to the outer man, the body. But, as we have seen, the human nature, body and soul, was already embraced completely in the word flesh, Romans 1:3. How, then, could the spirit, taken as an element of human nature, be contrasted with this nature itself? Is, then, the meaning of the words so difficult to apprehend? The term spirit (or breath) of holiness shows clearly enough that the matter here in question is the action displayed on Christ by the Holy Spirit during his earthly existence. In proportion as Jesus was open to this influence, his whole human nature received the seal of consecration to the service of God that is to say, of holiness. Such is the moral fact indicated Hebrews 9:14: “ Who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God.” The result of this penetration of his entire being by the breath of the Holy Spirit was this: at the time of His death there could be fully realized in Him the law expressed by the Psalmist: “Thou wilt not suffer thy Holy one to see corruption” ( Psa 16:10 ). Perfect holiness excludes physical dissolution. The necessary corollary of such a life and state was therefore the resurrection. This is the relation expressed by the preposition κατά , according to, agreeably to. He was established as the Son of God in a striking manner by His resurrection from the dead, agreeably to the spirit of holiness, which had reigned in Him and in His very body. In the passage, Romans 8:11. the apostle applies the same law to the resurrection of believers, when he says “that their bodies shall rise again, in virtue of the Holy Spirit who dwells in them.” Paul is not therefore seeking, as has been thought, to establish a contrast between inward ( πνεῦμα , spirit) and outward ( σάρξ , flesh), nor between divine (the Holy Spirit) and human (the flesh), in the person of Jesus, which would be a needless digression in the context. What he contrasts is, on the one hand, the naturally Jewish and Davidic form of his earthly appearance; and, on the other, the higher form of being on which he entered at the close of this Jewish phase of his existence, in virtue of the principle of holy consecration which had marked all his activity here below. For this new form of existence is the condition on which alone He could accomplish the work described in the verse immediately following. The thought of the apostle does not diverge for an instant, but goes straight to its aim.

The third clause literally signifies: by a resurrection from the dead ( ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν ). He entered upon his human life by a simple birth; but in this state as a son of David he let the spirit of holiness reign over him. And therefore he was admitted by a resurrection into the glorious life of Sonship. The preposition ἐξ , out of, may here signify either since or in consequence of. The first meaning is now almost abandoned, and undoubtedly with reason; for the idea of a simple succession in time does not suit the gravity of the thought. Paul wishes to describe the immense transformation which the facts of his death and resurrection produced in the person of Jesus. He has left in the tomb his particular relation to the Jewish nation and the family of David, and has appeared through his resurrection freed from those wrappings which he had humbly worn during his earthly life; comp. the remarkable expression: minister of the circumcision, Romans 15:8. Thus it is that, in virtue of his resurrection and as the Son of God, he was able henceforth to enter into connection with all mankind, which he could not do so long as he was acting only as the son of David; comp. Matthew 15:24: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The absence of the article before the word resurrection and before the plural dead is somewhat strange, and must be explained in the way indicated by Hofmann: “By an event such as that which takes place when the dead rise again.” There needed a death and resurrection, if he was to pass from the state of son of David to that of Son and Christ of humanity. It is therefore on the character of the event that the apostle insists, rather than on the fact itself.

Before passing to the subject of the calling of the Gentiles, which is the direct consequence of this transformation in the person of the Messiah wrought by the resurrection, Paul sums up in three terms the analysis of his person which he has just given: Jesus; this name denotes the historical person, the common subject of those different forms of existence; the title Christ or Messiah, which sums up Romans 1:3 (Son of David), and that of Lord that is to say, the representative of the divine sovereignty which follows from his elevation to the position of Son ( Rom 1:4 ). On the title of Lord, see 1 Corinthians 8:6; Philippians 2:9-11. When he says our, Paul thinks of all those who by faith have accepted the sovereignty of Jesus.

The intention of the passage, Romans 1:3-4, has been strangely misunderstood. Some say: it is a summary of the gospel doctrine which the apostle means to expound in this treatise. But a summary is not stated in an address. The true summary of the Epistle, besides, is found Romans 1:17. Finally, christological doctrine is precisely one of the heads, the absence of which is remarkable in our Epistle. Gess says: “One must suppose that the apostle was concerned to sum up in this introduction the most elevated sentiments which filled his heart regarding the Mediators of salvation.” But why put these reflections on the person of Christ in the address, and between what Paul says of his apostleship in general ( Rom 1:1-2 ), and what he afterward adds regarding his apostleship to the Gentiles in particular ( Rom 1:5-6 )? Hofmann thinks that Paul, in referring to the relation between Jesus and the old covenant, wishes to indicate all that God gives us new in Christ. But this observation would suit any other place rather than the address. The most singular explanation is Mangold's: “A Jewish-Christian church like that of Rome might be astonished at Paul's addressing it as if it had been of Gentile origin; and the apostle has endeavored to weaken this impression by reminding it ( Rom 1:2 ) that his apostleship had been predicted in the Old Testament, and ( Rom 1:3 ) that the object of his preaching is above all the Messiah, the Son of David.” So artificial an explanation refutes itself. The apostle started ( Rom 1:1-2 ) from the idea of his apostleship, but in order to come to that of his apostleship to the Gentiles, which alone serves to explain the step he is now taking in writing to the Christians of Rome ( Rom 1:5-6 ). To pass from the first of these ideas to the second, he rises to the author of his apostleship, and describes Him as the Jewish Messiah, called to gather together the lost sheep of the house of Israel ( Rom 1:5 ); then as the Son of God raised from the dead, able to put Himself henceforth in direct communication with the Gentiles through an apostolate instituted on their behalf ( Rom 1:4 ). In reality, to accomplish this wholly new work, Jesus required to be set free from the form of Jewish nationality and the bond of theocratic obligations. He must be placed in one uniform relation to the whole race. This was the effect of the transformation wrought in His person by His death and resurrection. Thus there is no difficulty in understanding the transition from Rom 1:4 to Romans 1:5.

Verses 5-6

Vv. 5, 6: “ By whom we have received grace and apostleship, with a view to the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, for the glory of His name: among whom are ye, also, the called of Jesus Christ. ” The words δἰ οὖ , by whom, exactly express the transition which we have just indicated. It is from His heavenly glory and from His state as Son of God that Christ has founded the new apostolate, and called him whom He has invested with it (comp. Gal 1:1 ).

The plural ἐλάβομεν , we have received, is explained by some: I and the other apostles; by Hofmann: I and my apostolical assistants (Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, etc.). But the first meaning is inadmissible, because the matter in question here is exclusively the apostleship to the Gentiles; and the second is equally so, because Paul, speaking here in his official character, can associate no one with him in the dignity which the Lord has conferred on him personally. What we have here is therefore the plural of category, which the Greeks readily use when they wish to put the person out of view, and to present only the principle which he represents, or the work with which he is charged. The words: χάριν καὶ ἀποστολήν , grace and apostleship, are regarded by some (Chrys., Philippi) as equivalent to: the grace of apostleship. But if this had been Paul's meaning, it would have been easy for him to express it so. Hofmann applies the two terms to the ministry of the apostle, as presenting it, the former, in connection with his own person it is a grace conferred on him; the latter, in its relation to others it is his mission to them. But if the term grace be referred to Paul's person, it seems to us much simpler to apply it to the gift of salvation which was bestowed on himself; the second term, apostleship, comes thus quite naturally to designate his mission for the salvation of the world. We have seen (Introd. p. 13) how these two gifts, personal salvation and apostleship, were, in Paul's case, one and the same event. The object of Christ in according him grace and calling him to the apostleship, was to spread the obedience of faith. It is impossible to understand by this obedience the holiness produced by faith. For, before speaking of the effects of faith, faith must exist; and the matter in question is precisely the calling of the apostle destined to lay the foundation of it. Meyer's meaning is still more inadmissible, submission to the faith. In that case, we should require to give to the term faith the meaning of: Christian truth (objectively speaking), a meaning the word never has in the New Testament, as Meyer acknowledges. So he understands obedience to the inward sentiment of faith! This is a form of speech of which it would be still more difficult to find examples. The only possible meaning is: the obedience which consists in faith itself. By faith man performs an act of obedience to the divine manifestation which demands of him submission and co-operation. The refusal of faith is therefore called, Romans 10:3, a disobedience ( οὐχ ὑπετάγησαν ). The clause following: among all the Gentiles, might be connected with the word apostleship, but it is simpler to connect it directly with the preceding, the obedience of faith: “an obedience to be realized among all Gentiles.” The term ἔθνη , which we translate by Gentiles, has been taken here by almost all critics who hold the Jewish origin of the Christians of Rome, in a wider acceptation. They give it the general meaning of nations, in order to include under it the Jews, who are also a nation, and consequently the Christians of Rome. This interpretation has been defended chiefly by Rückert and Baur. But it is easy to see that it is invented to serve an a priori thesis. The word ἔθνη undoubtedly signifies strictly: nations. But it has taken, like the word gojim in the Old Testament (Genesis 12:3; Isaiah 42:6, etc.), a definite, restricted, and quasi-technical sense: the nations in opposition to the chosen people ( ὁ λαός , the people). This signification occurs from beginning to end of the New Testament (Acts 9:15; Acts 11:1; Acts 11:18; Acts 28:28; Galatians 1:16; Galatians 2:7-9; Galatians 3:14, Ephesians 2:11; Eph 3:6 ). It is applied in the most uniform manner in our Epistle (Romans 2:14-15, Romans 3:29, Romans 11:13, Romans 15:9; Rom 15:11 ). Besides, the context imperatively demands this limited sense. Paul has just been explaining the institution of a special apostleship to the Gentiles, by a transformation in the Lord's mode of existence; the whole demonstration would be useless if his aim were to prove what the believers of Rome, though Jewish Christians, belong also to the domain of his mission. Mangold feels the difficulty; for, in order to remain faithful to Baur's view as to the composition of the Roman church, without falling into his false interpretation of the word ἔθνη , he tries to take it in a purely geographical sense. He thinks that by the nations, Paul means to contrast the inhabitants of the world in general, whether Jews or Gentiles, with the Jews strictly so called dwelling in Palestine. The apostle means to say: “The church of Rome, though composed of Judeo-Christians, belongs geographically to the world of the Gentiles, and consequently comes within my domain as the apostle of the Gentiles.” But what in this case becomes of the partition of domains marked out in Galatians 2:0? It must signify that Peter reserved for himself to preach in Palestine, and Paul out of Palestine! Who can give this meaning to the famous passage, Galatians 2:0? Besides, as Beyschlag well says, this partition between the apostles rested on a difference of gifts, which had nothing to do with geography, and evidently referred to the religious and moral character of those two great divisions of mankind, Jews and Gentiles. It must therefore be allowed that the words: among all nations, refer to Gentiles, and to Gentiles as such. Baur has sought to turn the word all to account in favor of his interpretation; but Paul uses it precisely to introduce what he is going to say, Romans 1:6, that the Romans, though so remote, yet formed part of his domain, since it embraces all Gentiles without exception. It matters little, therefore, that they are still personally unknown to him, he is their apostle nevertheless.

The third clause: ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος , for, in behalf, or for the glory of His name, depends on the whole verse from the verb we have received. Paul does not forget that this is the highest end of his apostleship: to exalt the glory of that name by extending the sphere of his action, and increasing the number of those who invoke it as the name of their Lord. The words sound like an echo of the message of Jesus to Paul by Ananias: “He is a chosen vessel to carry my name to the Gentiles; ” comp. 3 John 1:7. By this word Paul reveals to us at once the aim of his mission, and the inward motive of all his work. And what a work was that! As Christ in His own person broke the external covering of Israelitish form, so he purposed to break the national wrapping within which the kingdom of God had till then been inclosed; and to spread the glory of His name to the very ends of the earth, He called Paul.

Verse 6

Vv. 6 may be construed in two ways: either the κλητοὶ ᾿Ι . Χ . may be taken as a predicate: “in the midst of whom (Gentiles) ye are the called of Jesus Christ,” or the last words may be taken in apposition to the subject: “of the number of whom ye are, ye who are called of Jesus Christ. ” The former construction does not give a simple meaning; for the verb ye are has then two predicates which conflict with one another: “ye are in the midst of them,” and: “ye are the called of Jesus Christ.” Besides, is it necessary to inform the Christians of Rome that they live in the midst of the Gentiles, and that they are called by Jesus Christ? Add the καί , also, which would signify: like all the other Christians in the world, and you have an addition wholly superfluous, and, besides, far from clear. What has led commentators like De Wette, Meyer, etc., to hold this first construction is, that it seemed to them useless to make Paul say: “ye are among, or ye are of the number of the Gentiles.” But, on the contrary, this idea is very essential. It is the minor premiss of the syllogism within which Paul, so to speak, incloses the Romans. The major: Christ has made me the Apostle of the Gentiles; the minor: ye are of the number of the Gentiles; conclusion: therefore, in virtue of the authority of that Christ who has called you as He has called me, ye are the sheep of my fold. The καί , also, from this point of view is easily explained: “of the number of whom (Gentiles) ye also are, ye Romans, falling consequently like the other Gentiles called by me personally to my apostolical domain.” The title κλητοὶ ᾿Ι . Χ ., called of Jesus Christ, corresponds to the title which Paul gave himself, Romans 1:1: κλητὸς ἀπόστολος , “ an apostle by calling. ” They are bound to hear him in virtue of the same authority under which he writes to them, that of Jesus Christ. The complement: “ called of Jesus Christ,” may be taken as a genitive of possession: “called ones belonging to Jesus Christ.” But it is better to regard it as a genitive of cause: “called ones, whose calling comes from Jesus Christ.” For the important thing in the context is not the commonplace idea that they belong to the Lord; it is the notion of the act by which the Lord Himself acted on them to make them believers, as on Paul to make him their apostle. The idea of calling (of God or Christ), according to Paul's usage, includes two thoughts, an outward solicitation by preaching, and an inward and simultaneous drawing by the Holy Spirit. It need not be said that neither the one nor the other of these influences is irresistible, nor that the adhesion of faith remains an act of freedom. This adhesion is here implied in the fact that the Romans are members of the church and readers of these lines.

If we needed a confirmation of the Gentile origin of the majority of this church, it would be found in overwhelming force in Romans 1:5-6, especially when taken in connection with Romans 1:4; and really it needs far more than common audacity to attempt to get out of them the opposite idea, and to paraphrase them, as Volkmar does, in the following way: “I seem to you no doubt to be only the apostle of the Hellenes; but, nevertheless, I am called by Jesus Christ to preach the gospel to all nations, even to the non-Hellenes such as you, believers of Jewish origin!”

We come now to the second and third parts of the address, the indication of the readers and the expression of the writer's prayer.

Verse 7

Vv. 7. “ To all the well-beloved of God who are at Rome, saints by way of call: Grace be given you and peace on the part of God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The dative: to all those, might be dependent on a verb understood: I write, or I address myself; but it is simpler to connect it with the verb implied in the statement of the prayer which immediately follows: “To you all may there be given. ” The adjective all would be quite superfluous here if Paul had not the intention of widening the circle of persons spoken of in Rom 1:6 as being of the number of the Gentiles. Paul certainly has no doubt that there are also among the Christians of Rome some brethren of Jewish origin, and by his to all he now embraces them in the circle of those to whom he addresses his letter. We need not separate the two datives: to all those who are at Rome and to the well-beloved of God, as if they were two different regimens; the dative: well-beloved of God, is taken substantively: to all the well-beloved of God who are at Rome. The words denote the entire number of Roman believers, Jews and Gentiles. All men are in a sense loved of God ( Joh 3:16 ); but apart from faith, this love of God can only be that of compassion. It becomes an intimate love, like that of father and child, only through the reconciliation granted to faith. Here is the first bond between the apostle and his readers: the common love of which they are the objects. This bond is strengthened by another: the internal work which has flowed from it, consecration to God, holiness: κλητοῖς ἁγίοις , saints by way of call. We need not translate either: called to be saints, which would imply that holiness is in their case no more as yet than a destination, or called and holy (Ostervald), which would give to the notion of calling too independent a force. Paul means that they are really saints, and that if they possess this title of nobility before God, it is because Christ has honored them with His call, by drawing some from the defilements of paganism, and raising others from the external consecration of God's ancient people to the spiritual consecration of the new. Under the old covenant, consecration to God was hereditary, and attached to the external rite of circumcision. Under the new economy, consecration is that of the will first of all, and so of the entire life. It passes from within outward, and not from without inward; it is real holiness. The words ἐνΡώμῃ , at Rome, are omitted in the Greek text of the Cod. de Baerner. (G), as well as in the Latin translation accompanying it ( g). This might be regarded as an accidental omission, if it were not repeated in Romans 1:15. Rückert and Renan think that it arises from manuscripts intended for other churches, and in which accordingly, the indication of the readers had been left blank. But in this case would it not occur in a larger number of documents? Meyer supposes that some church or other, having the letter copied for its own special use, had intentionally suppressed the words. But it needs to be explained why the same thing did not take place with other Epistles. Perhaps the cause of the omission in this case was the contrast between the general character of the contents of the letter and the local destination indicated in the suppressed words, the second fact appearing contradictory to the first (see Rom 1:15 ).

Why does the apostle not salute this community of believers, as he does those of Thessalonica, Galatia, and Corinth, with the name of church? The different Christian groups which existed at Rome, and several of which are mentioned in chap. 16, were perhaps not yet connected with one another by a common presbyterial organization.

The end of Rom 1:7 contains the development of the third part of the address, the prayer. For the usual term χαίρειν , joy and prosperity, Paul substitutes the blessings which form the Christian's wealth and happiness. Grace, χάρις , denotes the love of God manifested in the form of pardon toward sinful man; peace, εἰρήνη , the feeling of profound calm or inward quiet which is communicated to the heart by the possession of reconciliation. It may seem that the title: well-beloved of God, given above, included these gifts; but the Christian possesses nothing which does not require to be ever received anew, and daily increased by new acts of faith and prayer. The Apocalypse says that “salvation flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb;” it is from God and from Jesus Christ that Paul likewise derives the two blessings which he wishes for the believers of Rome; from God as Father, and from Jesus Christ as Lord or Head of the church. We need not explain these two regimens as if they meant “ from God through Christ.” The two substantives depend on a common preposition: on the part of. The apostle therefore has in view not a source and a channel, but two sources. The love of God and the love of Christ are two distinct loves; the one is a father's, the other a brother's. Christ loves with his own love, Romans 5:15. Comp. John 5:21 ( those whom he will) and 26 ( he hath life in himself). Erasmus was unhappy in taking the words: Jesus Christ our Lord, as a second complement to the word Father: “our Father and that of Jesus Christ. ” But in this case the complement Jesus Christ would have required to be placed first, and the notion of God's fatherhood in relation to Christ would be without purpose in the context. The conviction of Christ's divine nature can alone explain this construction, according to which His person and that of the Father are made alike dependent on one and the same proposition.

It is impossible not to admire the prudence and delicacy which St. Paul shows in the discharge of his task toward this church. To justify his procedure, he goes back on his apostleship; to justify his apostleship to them, Gentiles, he goes back to the transformation which the resurrection wrought in Christ's person, when from being Jewish Messiah it made Him Lord in the absolute sense of the word. Like a true pastor, instead of lording it over the conscience of his flock, he seeks to associate it with his own.

Verse 8

Vv. 8. “ First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ on account of you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

The apostle knows that there is no more genuine proof of sincere affection than intercession; hence he puts his prayer for them first. The word πρῶτον , in the first place (especially with the particle μέν ), leads us to expect a secondly ( ὲπειτα δέ ). As this word does not occur in the sequel, some have thought it necessary to give to πρῶτον the meaning of above all. This is unnecessary. The second idea the apostle had in view is really found in Romans 1:10, in the prayer which he offers to God that he may be allowed soon to go to Rome. This prayer is the natural supplement of the thanksgiving. Only the construction has led the apostle not to express it in the strictly logical form: in the second place.

In the words “ my God,” he sums up all his personal experiences of God's fatherly help, in the various circumstances of his life, and particularly in those of his apostleship. Herein there is a particular revelation which every believer receives for himself alone, and which he sums up when he calls God his God; comp. the phrase God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, and more especially the words Genesis 28:20-21. Paul's thanksgiving is presented through the mediation of Jesus Christ; he conveys it through Christ as head of the church, and more immediately his own. Meyer thinks that Christ is rather mentioned here as the author of the work for which Paul gives thanks; but this is not the natural meaning of the phrase: I thank through; comp. besides, Romans 8:34. The propagation of the gospel at Rome appears to Paul a service rendered to him personally, as apostle of the Gentiles.

The phrase: on account of you all, seems a little exaggerated, since he does not know them all personally. But would there be a human being at Rome gained for Christ, known or unknown, whose faith was not a subject of joy to Paul! The preposition ὑπέρ , in behalf of, which is found in the T. R. (with the latest Mjj.), would express more affection than περί , on account of; but the latter is more simple, and occurs in some Mjj. of the three families. What increases Paul's joy is, that not only do they believe themselves, but their faith, the report of which is spread everywhere, opens a way for the gospel to other countries; comp. a similar passage addressed to the Thessalonians ( 1Th 1:8 ). The ὅτι , because, serves to bring into relief a special feature in the cause of joy already indicated; comp. 1 Corinthians 1:5 (the ὅτι in its relation to Rom 1:4 ). The phrase: throughout the whole world, is hyperbolical; it alludes to the position of Rome as the capital of the world; comp. Colossians 1:6.

Verses 8-15

Second Passage (1:8-15). The Interest long taken by the Apostle in the Christians of Rome.

The address, had drawn a sort of official bond between the apostle and the church. But Paul feels the need of converting it into a heart relation; and to this end the following piece is devoted. The apostle here assures his readers of the profound interest which he has long felt in them, though he has not yet been able to show it by visiting them. He begins, as usual, by thanking God for the work already wrought in them, Romans 1:8; then he expresses his lively and long cherished desire to labor for its growth, either in the way of strengthening themselves spiritually, Romans 1:9-12, or in the way of increasing the number of believers in the city of Rome, Romans 1:13-15.

Verse 9

Vv. 9, 10. “ For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, how without ceasing I make mention of you, making request in all my prayers, if perhaps now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.

This thanksgiving of the apostle was an inward action of which none but God could have knowledge; and as the words, Romans 1:8, might seem chargeable with exaggeration, he appeals to the one witness of his inner life. Paul thinks of those times of intimate intercourse which he has daily with his God in the exercise of his ministry; for it is at His feet, as it were, that he discharges this task. He says: “ in my spirit, that is to say, in the most intimate part of his being, where is the organ by which his soul communicates with the divine world. The spirit is therefore here one of the clements of his human nature ( 1Th 5:23 ); only it is evidently thought of as penetrated with the Divine Spirit. When Paul says: in the gospel of His Son, it is clear that he is not thinking of the matter, but of the act of evangelical preaching. This is for him a continual act of worship which he performs only on his knees. The words: of His Son, bring out the supreme gravity of the act. How, in fact, can one take part in a work which concerns the Son, otherwise than in concert with God Himself! The ὡς need be translated neither by that (the fact), which expresses too little, nor by how much (the degree), which is too strong, but by how. The word refers to the mode of this inward worship, as it is developed in what follows. The expression: without ceasing, explains the: “I give thanks for you all,” which had preceded ( Rom 1:8 ). Hence the for at the beginning of the verse.

Verse 10

Vv. 10. With the thanksgiving there is connected, as a second matter which he has to communicate to them, his not less unwearied prayer that he might be able soon to visit them. The words: always in my prayers, refer certainly to the following participle: making request, and not to what precedes, a sense which would lead to a pleonasm. Not one of the intimate dealings of the apostle with his God, in which this subject does not find a place. ᾿Επί , strictly speaking, on occasion of. The conjunction εἴπως , if perhaps, indicates the calculation of chances; and the adverbs now, at length, the sort of impatience which he puts into his calculation. The term εὐοδοῦν strictly signifies: to cause one to journey prosperously, whence in general: to make one succeed in a business; comp. 1 Corinthians 16:2. As in this context the subject in question is precisely the success of a journey, it is difficult not to see in the choice of the term an allusion to its strict meaning: “if at length I shall not be guided prosperously in my journey to you.” By whom? The words: by the will of God, tell us; favorable circumstances are the work of that all-powerful hand. Rom 1:11-12 indicate the most immediate motive of this ardent desire.

Verses 11-12

Vv. 11, 12. “ For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end that ye may be established; or to speak more properly, that I may be encouraged with you in the midst of you, by the mutual action of our faith, yours and mine.

Enriched with the gifts of God as he was, could the apostle help feeling the need of imparting some of them to a church so important as that of Rome? There is in the verb ἐπιποθῶ , along with the expression of the desire which goes out toward them, one of regret at not having been able to come sooner. A χάρισμα , gift, is a concrete manifestation of grace ( χάρις ). The epithet spiritual shows the nature and source of the gift which he hopes to impart to his readers (the spirit, the πνεῦμα ). The word ὑμῖν , to you, is inserted between the substantive and the adjective to bring out the latter more forcibly. The apostle hopes that by this communication they will receive an increase of divine strength within them. He puts the verb in the passive: that ye may be strengthened. We need not translate: to confirm you (Oltram.); on the contrary, Paul uses the passive form to put out of view the part he takes personally, and to exhibit only the result; it is God who will strengthen. There would be a degree of charlatanism in the choice of the word strengthen, confirm, if, as Baur, and following him, Mangold, Sabatier, etc., think, the apostle's object in this letter was to bring about a radical change in the existing conception of the gospel at Rome. To strengthen, is not to turn one into another way, it is to make him walk firmly on that on which he is already. But Paul was too sincerely humble, and at the same time too delicate in his feelings, to allow it to be supposed that the spiritual advantage resulting from his stay among them would all be on one side. He hastens to add that he hopes himself to have his share, Romans 1:12. The first words of this verse have generally been misunderstood; there has been given to them the meaning of the phrase τοῦτ᾿ ἔστι , that is to say (Ostervald, Oltram.). It is forgotten that the δέ which is added here ( τοῦτο δέ ἐστι ) indicates not a simple explanatory repetition, but a certain modification and progress in the idea. The meaning, therefore, is: or to speak more properly. In point of fact, Paul had yet to add to the idea of the good which he reckoned on doing, that of the good which he hoped himself to receive. This is precisely what he has in view in the strange construction of the words which immediately follow. There is no doubt that the preposition σύν , with, in the compound verb συμπαρακληθῆναι , to be encouraged with, signifies: “I with you, Christians of Rome.” For the subject of the verb can be no other than the apostle, on account of the words which follow: in the midst of you. Fritzsche attempts to give it a you for its subject, ὑμᾶς understood; Meyer and Hofmann would make this infinitive directly dependent on the word I desire, Romans 1:11: “I desire to see you, and to be encouraged in the midst of you.” But this is to mistake the evident relation between the two passive infinitives, so closely connected with one another. “To the end that ye may be strengthened; and, to speak more correctly, that with you I may be encouraged among you.” The “ with (you)” brings out the notion of their strengthening, to add to it immediately, and that in the same word (in Greek) the notion of the encouragement derived by Paul himself, as being one with theirs; for is not the strengthening of others the means of encouraging himself? One shares in the strength which he imparts. The apostle seems to say that there is in his desire as much holy selfishness as holy zeal. The substitution of the word encourage (in speaking of Paul) for that of strengthen (in speaking of them) is significant. In Paul's case, the only thing in question is his subjective feeling, which might be a little depressed, and which would receive a new impulse from the success of his work among them; comp. Acts 28:15 ( he took courage, ἔλαβε θάρσος ). This same delicacy of expression is kept up in the words which follow. By the among you, the apostle says that their mere presence will of itself be strengthening to him. This appears literally in what follows: “ by my faith and yours one upon another. ” These lasts words express a reciprocity in virtue of which his faith will act on theirs and theirs on his; and how so? In virtue of their having that faith in common (by the faith of you and of me). It is because they live in this common atmosphere of one and the same faith that they can act and react spiritually, he on them, and they on him. What dignity, tact, and grace in these words, by which the apostle at once transforms the active part which he is obliged to ascribe to himself in the first place into a receptive part, and so to terminate with the notion which unites these two points of view, that of reciprocity in the possession of a common moral life! Erasmus has classed all this in the category of pia vafrities and sancta adulatio. He did not understand the sincerity of Paul's humility. But what Paul wishes is not merely to impart new strength to the Christians of Rome while reinforcing his own, it is also to aid in the increase of their church. He comes as an apostle, not only as a Christian visitor; such is the meaning of the words which follow (vv. Rom 1:3-15 ).

Verses 13-14

Vv. 13, 14. “ Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you (but was hindered hitherto), that I might gather some fruit among you also, even as among the other Gentiles. I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the ignorant.

His readers might ask with some reason how it happened that Paul, having been an apostle for more than twenty years, had not yet found time to come and preach the good news in the Capital of the world. The phrase: I would not have you ignorant, has something slightly mysterious about it, which will be explained presently. The δέ , now, expresses a gradation, but not one from the simple desire ( Rom 1:11 ) to the fixed purpose ( Rom 1:13 ). The right connection in this sense would have been: for indeed, and not now. Paul rather passes here from the spiritual good, which he has always desired to do among the believers of Rome, to the extension of their church, to which he hopes he may contribute. Let his work at Corinth and Ephesus be remembered; why should he not accomplish a similar work at Rome? He means, therefore: “ I shall confess to you my whole mind; my ambition aims at making some new conquests even in your city (at Rome).” This is what he calls gathering some fruit. The phrase is as modest as possible. At Corinth and Ephesus he gathered full harvests; at Rome, where the church already exists, he will merely add some handfuls of ears to the sheaves already reaped by others. Καρπὸν ἔχειν , literally, to have fruit, does not here signify: to bear fruit, as if Paul were comparing himself to a tree. The N. T. has other and more common terms for this idea: καρπὸν φέρειν , ποιεῖν , διδόναι . The meaning is rather to secure fruit, like a husbandman who garners a harvest. The two καί , also, of the Greek text, “ also among you, as also among the other Gentiles,” signify respectively: “among you quite as much as among them;” and “among them quite as much as among you.” St. Paul remembers what he has succeeded in doing elsewhere. No reader free from prepossession will fail to see here the evident proof of the Gentile origin of the great majority of the Christians of Rome. To understand by ἔθνη , nations in general, including the Jews as well, is not only contrary to the uniform sense of the word (see Rom 1:5 ), but also to the subdivision into Greeks and Barbarians given in the following verse: for the Jews, according to Paul's judgment, evidently did not belong to either of these two classes. If he had thought of the Jews in this place, he must have used the classification of Romans 1:16: to the Jews and Greeks.

Verse 14

Vv. 14. No connecting particle. Such is always the indication of a feeling which as it rises is under the necessity of reaffirming itself with increasing energy: “ Yea, I feel that I owe myself to all that is called Gentile.” The first division, into Greeks and Barbarians, bears on the language, and thereby on the nationality: the second, into wise and ignorant, on the degree of culture. It may be asked in what category did Paul place the Romans themselves. As to the first of these two classifications, it is obvious that he cannot help ranking among the Greeks those to whom he is writing at the very time in the Greek language. The Romans, from the most ancient times, had received their culture from the Greek colonies established in Italy. So Cicero, in a well-known passage of the De finibus ( Rom 2:15 ), conjoins Graecia and Italia, and contrasts them with Barbaria. As to the second contrast, it is possible that Paul regards the immense population of Rome, composed of elements so various, as falling into the two classes mentioned. What matters? All those individuals, of whatever category, Paul regards as his creditors. He owes them his life, his person, in virtue of the grace bestowed on him and of the office which he has received ( Rom 1:5 ). The emotion excited by this thought is what has caused the asyndeton between Romans 1:13-14.

Verse 15

Vv. 15. “ So, as much as in me is, I have the lively desire to preach the gospel to you also, to you that are at Rome.

Of the three explanations by which it has been sought to account for the grammatical construction of this verse, the simplest seems to me to be that which gives a restricting sense to the words κατ᾿ ἐμέ : for my part, that is to say: “ so far as depends on me, so far as external circumstances shall not thwart my desire,” and which takes τὸ πρόθυμον as a paraphrase of the substantive προθυμία ; the meaning is: “So far as I am concerned, the liveliest desire prevails in me to”...Such is the explanation of Fritzsche, Reiche, Philippi. De Wette and Meyer prefer to join τό with κατ᾿ ἐμέ in the same sense as we have just given to κατ᾿ ἐμέ alone, and to take πρόθυμον as the subject: “As far as I am concerned, there is an eagerness to”...Some have made τὸ κατ᾿ ἐμέ a periphrasis for ἐγώ , as the subject of the proposition, and taken πρόθυμον as a predicate: “My personal disposition is eagerness to announce to you”...The meaning is nearly the same whichever of the three explanations be adopted. The οὕτω , so, very obviously stands as a concluding particle. This eagerness to preach at Rome no less than elsewhere is the consequence of that debt to all which he feels lying upon him. The meaning: likewise, would not be so suitable. The word to evangelize, literally, to proclaim good news, seems to be inapplicable to a church already founded. But we have just seen that the apostle has here in view the extension of the church by preaching to the unbelieving population around it. Hence the use of the word. We must therefore take the words: you that are at Rome, in a wider sense. It is not merely the members of the church who are denoted by it, but the whole population of the great city represented in the eyes of Paul by his readers. As Hofmann says: “He is here considering the members of the church as Romans, not as Christians.” The words at Rome are omitted by Codex G, as in Romans 1:7. Volkmar explains their rejection by the fact that some evangelistarium (a collection of the pericopes intended for public reading) suppressed them to preserve the universal character of our Epistle. This explanation comes to the same as that which we have given on Romans 1:7.

Here for the present the letter closes and the treatise begins. The first proposition of Romans 1:16: I am not ashamed of the gospel, is the transition from the one to the other. For the words: I am not ashamed, are intended to remove a suspicion which might be raised against the profession Paul has just made of eagerness to preach at Rome; they thus belong to the letter. And, on the other hand, the word gospel sums up the whole contents of the didactic treatise which immediately opens. It is impossible to see in this first proposition of Rom 1:16 anything else than a transition, or to bring out of it, as Hofmann attempts, the statement of the object of the whole Epistle.

Verse 16

THE TREATISE. 1:16-15:13.

Third Passage (1:16, 17). The Statement of the Subject.

Ver. 16. “ For I am not ashamed of the gospel:for it is a power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

The long delays which had prevented the apostle's visit to Rome did not arise, as might have been thought, from some secret anxiety or fear that he might not be able to sustain honorably the part of preacher of the word on this stage. In the very contents of the gospel there are a grandeur and a power which lift the man who is charged with it above feelings of this kind. He may indeed be filled with fear and trembling when he is delivering such a message; 1 Corinthians 2:3; but the very nature of the message restores him, and gives him entire boldness wherever he presents himself. In what follows the apostle seems to say: “And I now proceed to prove this to you by expounding in writing that gospel which I would have wished to proclaim with the living voice in the midst of you.” When he says: I am not ashamed, Paul does not seem to have in view the opprobrium attached to the preaching of the Crucified One; he would have brought out this particular more distinctly. Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 1:23. The complement τοῦ Χριστοῦ , of Christ, which is found in the T. R. along with the Byz. MSS., is certainly unauthentic; for it is wanting in the documents of the other two families, in the ancient Latin and Syriac Vss., and even in a larger number of Mnn. The word gospel denotes here, as in Romans 1:1; Romans 1:9, not the matter, but the act of preaching; Calvin himself says: De vocali praedicatione hic loquitur. And why is the apostle not ashamed of such a proclamation? Because it is the mighty arm of God rescuing the world from perdition, and bringing it salvation. Mankind are, as it were, at the bottom of an abyss; the preaching of the gospel is the power from above which raises out of it. No one need blush at being the instrument of such a force. The omission of the article before the word δύναμις , power, serves to bring out the character of the action rather than the action itself.

Hofmann says: “ Power, for the gospel can do something; power of God, for it can do all it promises.” The word σωτηρία , salvation, contains two ideas: on the one side, deliverance from an evil, perdition; on the other, communication of a blessing, eternal life in communion with God. The possession of these two privileges is man's health ( σωτηρία , from the adjective σῶς , safe and sound). The life of God in the soul of man, such is the normal state of the latter. The preposition εἰς , to, or in (salvation), denotes not only the purpose of the divine work, but its immediate and certain result, wherever the human condition is fulfilled. This condition is faith, to every one that believeth. The word every one expresses the universal efficacy of the remedy, and the word believeth, its entire freeness. Such are the two fundamental characteristics of the Christian salvation, especially as preached by Paul; and they are so closely connected that, strictly speaking, they form only one. Salvation would not be for all, if it demanded from man anything else than faith. To make work or merit a condition in the least degree, would be to exclude certain individuals. Its universal destination thus rests on its entire freeness at the time when man is called to enter into it. The apostle adds to the word believing the article τῷ , the, which cannot be rendered in French by the tout (all); the word means each individual, provided he believes. As the offer is universal, so the act of faith by which man accepts is individual; comp. John 3:16. The faith of which the apostle speaks is nothing else than the simple acceptance of the salvation offered in preaching. It is premature to put in this moral act all that will afterwards flow from it when faith shall be in possession of its object. This is what is done by Reuss and Sabatier, when they define it respectively: “A personal, inward, mystical union between man and Christ the Savious” ( Ep. paulin. II. p. 43); and: “the destruction of sin in us, the inward creation of the divine life” ( L'ap. Paul, p. 265). This is to make the effect the cause. Faith, in Paul's sense, is something extremely simple, such that it does not in the least impair the freeness of salvation. God says: I give thee; the heart answers: I accept; such is faith. The act is thus a receptivity, but an active receptivity. It brings nothing, but it takes what God gives; as was admirably said by a poor Bechuana: “It is the hand of the heart.” In this act the entire human personality takes part: the understanding discerning the blessing offered in the divine promise, the will aspiring after it, and the confidence of the heart giving itself up to the promise, and so securing the promised blessing.

The preaching of free salvation is the act by which God lays hold of man, faith is the act by which man lets himself be laid hold of. Thus, instead of God's ancient people who were recruited by birth and Abrahamic descent, Paul sees a new people arising, formed of all the individuals who perform the personal act of faith, whatever the nation to which they belong. To give pointed expression to this last feature, he recalls the ancient distinction which had till then divided mankind into two rival religious societies, Jews and Gentiles, and declares this distinction abolished. He says: to the Jew first, and to the Greek. In this context the word Greek has a wider sense than in Romans 1:14; for there it was opposed to Barbarian. It therefore designated only a part of Gentile humanity. Here, where it is used in opposition to Jew, it includes the whole Gentile world. Greeks were indeed the élite of the Gentiles, and might be regarded as representing the Gentiles in general; comp. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24. This difference in the extension of the name Greeks arises from the fact that in Rom 1:14 the only matter in question was Paul's ministry, the domain of which was subdivided into civilized Gentiles (Greeks) and barbarian Gentiles; while here the matter in question is the gospel's sphere of action in general, a sphere to which the whole of mankind belong ( Jews and Gentiles). The word πρῶτον , first, should not be interpreted, as some think, in the sense of principally. It would be false to say that salvation is intended for the Jews in preference to the Greeks. Paul has in view the right of priority in time which belonged to Israel as the result of its whole history. As to this right, God had recognized it by making Jesus to be born in the midst of this people; Jesus had respected it by confining Himself during His earthly life to gathering together the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and by commanding his apostles to begin the evangelization of the world with Jerusalem and Judea, Acts 1:8; Peter and the Twelve remained strictly faithful to it, as is proved by the first part of the Acts, Acts 2-12; and Paul himself had uniformly done homage to it by beginning the preaching of the gospel, in every Gentile city to which he came as an apostle, in the synagogue. And, indeed, this right of priority rested on the destination of Israel to become itself the apostle of the Gentiles in the midst of whom they lived.

It was for Jewish believers to convert the world. For this end they must needs be the first to be evangelized. The word πρῶτον ( first) is wanting in the Vat. and the Boerner. Cod. (Greek and Latin). We know from Tertullian that it was wanting also in Marcion. The omission of the word in the latter is easily explained; he rejected it simply because it overturned his system. Its rejection in the two MSS. B and G is more difficult to explain. Volkmar holds that Paul might ascribe a priority to the Jews in relation to judgment, as he does Romans 2:9, but not in connection with salvation; the πρῶτον of Rom 2:10 he therefore holds to be an interpolation from Romans 2:9, and that of our Romans 1:16, a second interpolation from Romans 2:10. An ingenious combination, intended to make the apostle the relentless enemy of Judaism, agreeably to Baur's system, but belied by the missionary practice of Paul, which is perfectly in keeping with our first and with that of Romans 2:10. The omission must be due to the carelessness of the copyist, the simple form: to the Jew and to the Greek (without the word first), naturally suggesting itself. While paying homage to the historical right of the Jewish people, Paul did not, however, intend to restore particularism. By the τε καί , as well as, he forcibly maintains the radical religious equality already proclaimed in the words: to every one that believeth.

It concerns the apostle now to explain how the gospel can really be the salvation of the world offered to all believers. Such is the object of Romans 1:17. The gospel is salvation, because it offers the righteousness of God.

Verse 17

Vv. 17. “ For therein is the righteousness of God revealed by faith for faith: as it is written, But the just shall live by faith.

The first part of this verse is a repetition of Romans 1:16, in more precise language. Paul explains how this power unto salvation, which should save the believer, acts: it justifies him. Such is the fundamental idea of the Epistle.

The term righteousness of God cannot here mean, as it sometimes does, for example, Romans 3:5; Romans 3:25, an attribute of God, whether His perfect moral purity, or His retributive justice. Before the gospel this perfection was already distinctly revealed by the law; and the prophetic words which Paul immediately quotes: “ The just shall live by faith,” prove that in his view this justice of God is a condition of man, not a divine attribute.

In what does this state consist? The term δικαιοσύνη , justice, strictly designates the moral position of a man who has fully met all his obligations (comp. Romans 6:13; Romans 6:16; Ephesians 5:9; Matthew 5:17, etc.). Only here the complement: of God, and the expression: is revealed by the gospel, lead us to give the term a more particular sense: the relation to God in which a man would naturally be placed by his righteousness, if he were righteous, and which God bestows on him of grace on account of his faith. Two explanations of this notion meet us. They are well stated by Calvin: “Some think that righteousness consists not merely in the free pardon of sins, but partly also in the grace of regeneration. ” “For my part,” he adds, “I take the meaning to be that we are restored to life, because God freely reconciles us to Himself.” On the one hand, therefore, an inward regeneration on the ground of which God pardons; on the other, a free reconciliation on the ground of which God regenerates. In the former case: God acting first as Spirit to deposit in the soul the germ of the new life ( to render man effectually just, at least virtually), and afterwards as judge to pardon; in the latter, God acting first as judge to pardon ( to declare man just), and afterwards as Spirit to quicken and sanctify.

The first of these views is that of the Catholic Church, formulated by the Council of Trent, and professed by a number of Protestant theologians (among the earlier, Osiander; Beck, in our day). It is the point of view defended by Reuss and Sabatier. The latter defines justification: “the creation of spiritual life.” The second notion is that round which the Protestant churches in general have rallied. It was the soul of Luther's religious life; and it is still the centre of doctrinal teaching in the church which claims the name of this Reformer. We have not here to treat the subject from a dogmatical or moral point of view. We ask ourselves this one thing: Which of the two views was the apostle's, and best explains his words?

In our verse the verb reveals itself, or is revealed, applies more naturally to a righteousness which is offered, and which God attributes to man in consequence of a declaration, than to a righteousness which is communicated internally by the gift of the Spirit. The instrument of appropriation constantly insisted on by the apostle, faith, also corresponds better to the acceptance of a promise than to the acceptance of a real communication. The contrast between the two evidently parallel phrases: “ The righteousness of God is revealed,” Romans 1:17, and: “ The wrath of God is revealed,” Romans 1:18, leads us equally to regard the righteousness of God as a state of things which He founds in His capacity of judge, rather than a new life conveyed by His Spirit. The opposite of the new life is not the wrath of the judge, but the sin of man.

In Romans 4:3, Paul justifies his doctrine of the righteousness of God by the words of Moses: “Now Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness ” (counted as the equivalent of a righteous and irreproachable life). The idea of counting or imputing applies better to a sentence which ascribes than to an act of real communication.

In the same chapter, Romans 1:7-8, the notion of the righteousness of God is explained by the terms pardon and non-imputation of sin. There is evidently no question there of positive communication, of a gift of spiritual life.

In chap. Romans 5:9-10, Paul contrasts with justification by the blood of Christ and with reconciliation by His death, as the foundation of salvation, deliverance from wrath (in the day of judgment), by the communication of His life, as the consummation of salvation. Unless we are to convert the copestone into the basis, we must put justification by the blood first, and the communication of life by the Spirit second; the one, as the condition of entrance into the state of salvation here below; the other, as the condition of entrance into the state of glory above.

The very structure of the Epistle to the Romans forbids us to entertain a doubt as to the apostle's view. If the communication of spiritual life were, in his judgment, the condition of pardon, he must have begun his Epistle with chaps. 6-8, which treat of the destruction of sin and of the gift of the new life, and not with the long passage, Rom 1:18 to Romans 5:21, which refers wholly to the removal of condemnation, and to the conditions, objective and subjective, of reconciliation.

Finally, it is contrary to the fundamental principle of Paul's gospel, entire freeness of salvation, to put regeneration in any degree whatever as the basis of reconciliation and pardon. It is to make the effect the cause, and the cause the effect. According to St. Paul, God does not declare man righteous after having made him righteous; He does not make him righteous till He has first declared him righteous. The whole Epistle to the Romans excludes the first of these two principles (which is no other than the Judaizing principle ever throwing man back on himself), and goes to establish the second (the evangelical principle which detaches man radically from himself and throws him on God). See on the transition from chap. 5 to chap. 6

We add here, as a necessary supplement, a study on the meaning of the word δικαιοῦν , to justify.

Excursus on the use of the word δικαιοῦν , to justify.

Excursus on the use of the word δικαιοῦν , to justify.

The question is this: Are we to understand the word δικαιοῦν , to justify, in the sense of making just or declaring just?

Verbs in οω have sometimes the meaning of making: δηλόω , to make clear; δουλόω , to make a slave; τυφλόω , to make blind. But this use of the termination οω does not form the rule; this is seen in the verbs ζημιόω , to punish; μισθόω , to hire; λουτρόω , to bathe; μαστιγόω , to scourge.

As to δικαιόω , there is not an example in the whole of classic literature where it signifies: to make just. With accusative of things it signifies: to think right. The following are examples: Thucyd. 2:6 : “ Thinking it right ( δικαιοῦντες ) to return to the Lacedemonians what these had done them.” 4:26: “He will not form a just idea of the thing ( οὐκ ὀρθῶς δικαιώσει ).” Herod. 1.133: “ They think it good ( δικαιεῦσι ) to load the table.” Justin, Cohort. ad Gentil. (2:46, ed. Otto): “When he thought good ( ἐδικαἱωσε ) to bring the Jews out of Egypt.” Finally, in ecclesiastical language: “It has been found good ( δεδικαίωται ) by the holy Council.”

With accusative of persons this verb signifies: to treat justly, and most frequently sensu malo, to condemn, punish. Aristotle, in Nicom. Romans 5:9, contrasts ἀδικεῖσθαι , to be treated unjustly, with δικαιοῦσθαι , to be treated according to justice. Eschylus, Agam. 391-393, says of Paris, that he has no right to complain if he is judged unfavorably ( δικαίωθείς ); let him reap what is his due. Thucyd. 3:40: “You will condemn your own selves ( δικαιώσεσθε ).” Herod. 1.100: “When any one had committed a crime, Dejoces sent for him and punished him ( ἐδικαίευ ).” On occasion of the vengeance which Cambyses wreaked on the Egyptian priests, Herodotus says ( Rom 3:29 ): “And the priests were punished ( ἐδικαιεῦντο ).” So we find in Dion Cassius: δικαιοῦν ; and in Elian: δικαιοῦν τῷ θανάτῳ , in the sense of punishing with death.

Thus profane usage is obvious: to think just, or treat justly (most frequently by condemning or punishing); in both cases establishing the right by a sentence, never by communicating justice. Hence it follows that, of the two meanings of the word we are examining, that which comes nearest classical usage is undoubtedly to declare, and not to make just.

But the meaning of the verb δικαιοῦν , to justify, in the New Testament, depends less on profane Greek than on the use of the Old Testament, both in the original Hebrew and in the version of the LXX. This, therefore, is what we have, above all, to examine. To the term justify there correspond in Hebrew the Piel and Hiphil of tsadak, to be just. The Piel tsiddek, in the five cases where it is used, signifies not to make just inwardly, but to show or declare just. The Hiphil hits'dik appears twelve times; in eleven cases the meaning to justify judicially is indisputable; for example, Exodus 23:7: “For I will not justify the wicked,” certainly means: I will not declare the wicked just; and not: I will not make him just inwardly; Proverbs 17:15: “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, are abomination to the Lord.” Any other meaning than that of declaring just is absurd. So with the others. In the twelfth passage only, Daniel 12:3, the word may be understood either in the sense of making just, or of presenting as just. (The LXX. translate differently altogether, and without using the word δικαιοῦν .)

It is on this almost uniform meaning of the verb tsadak in the Piel and Hiphil that Paul and the other writers of the New Testament founded their use of the word δικαιοῦν , to justify. For this word δικαιοῦν is that by which the Hebrew word was constantly rendered by the LXX.

The use of the word δικαιοῦν , to justify, in the New Testament, appears chiefly from the following passages:

Romans 2:13: the subject is the last judgment; then, one is not made, but recognized and declared just; 3.4: God is the subject; God is not made, but recognized or declared just by man; Romans 3:20: to be justified before God cannot signify: to be made just by God; the phrase before God implies the judicial sense; Romans 4:2: to be justified by works; this phrase has no meaning except in the judicial sense of the word justify; 1 Corinthians 4:4: Paul is not conscious of any unfaithfulness; but for all that he is not yet justified; a case where it is impossible to apply any other meaning than the judicial. The reader will do well to consult also Mat 11:19 and Luke 7:35 (“wisdom [God's] is justified of her children”); Luke 7:29 (the publicans justified God); Matthew 12:37 (“by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned ”); Luke 10:29 (“he, wishing to justify himself ”), Luke 16:15 (“ye are they who justify yourselves ”), Luke 18:14 (“the justified publican”); Acts 13:39 (“to be justified from the things from which they could not have been justified by the law”); James 2:21; James 2:24-25 (“to be justified by works ”).

There is not a single one of these passages where the idea of an inward communication of righteousness would be suitable. In favor of this meaning the words, 1 Corinthians 6:11, have sometimes been quoted. If the passage be carefully examined in its context, Romans 6:1-10, it will clearly appear that it forms no exception to the constant usage of the New Testament, as it has been established by the collective showing of the passages just quoted.

That from a dogmatic point of view this notion of justification should be rejected as too external and forensic, we can understand, though we are convinced that thereby the very sinews of the gospel are destroyed. But that, exegetically speaking, there can possibly be two ways of explaining the apostle's view, is what surprises us.

The notion of the righteousness of God, according to Paul, embraces two bestowals of grace: man treated (1) as if he had never committed any evil; (2) as if he had always accomplished all the good God could expect from him. The sentence of justification which puts man in this privileged state in relation to God is the δικαίωσις , the act of justification. In virtue of this act “man has henceforth,” as Hofmann says, “the righteousness of God for him, and not against him.”

What is the meaning of the genitive Θεοῦ , of God, in the phrase: righteousness of God? Luther's interpretation, maintained by Philippi, is well known: a righteousness valid before God (Romans 3:20; Gal 3:11 ). But this meaning of the complement is very forced. Baur makes it a genitive of quality: a righteousness agreeable to the nature of God. Is it not simpler to take it as a genitive of origin: a justice which has God Himself for its author? We are led to this sense also by the parallel expressions: “The righteousness that cometh from God ” ( ἡ ἐκ Θεοῦ δικαιοσύνη ), Philippians 3:9; “ the righteousness of God ” ( ἡ τοῦ Θεοῦ δικαιοσύνη ) opposed to our own righteousness, Romans 10:3. Of course a righteousness of which God is the author must correspond to His essence (Baur), and be accepted by Him (Luther).

The word ἀποκαλύπτεται , is revealed or reveals itself, denotes the act whereby a thing hitherto veiled now bursts into the light; compare the parallel but different expression, πεφανέρωται , has been manifested, Romans 3:21. The present, is being revealed, is explained here by the regimen in it, ἐν αὐτῷ that is to say, in the gospel. This substantive should still be taken in the active sense which we have given it: the act of evangelical preaching. It is by this proclamation that the righteousness of God is daily revealed to the world.

The expression ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν , from faith to faith, has been interpreted very variously. Most frequently it has been thought to signify the idea of the progress which takes place in faith itself, and in this sense it has been translated: from faith on to faith. This progress has been applied by some Fathers (Tert., Origen, Chrysost.) to the transition from faith in the Old Testament to faith as it exists in the New. But there is nothing here to indicate a comparison between the old and new dispensations. The Reformers have taken the progress of faith to be in the heart of the individual believer. His faith, weak at first, grows stronger and stronger. Calvin: Quotidianum in singulis fidelibus progressum notat. So also thought Luther and Melanchthon; Schaff: “Assimilation by faith should be continually renewed.” But the phrase thus understood does not in the least correspond with the verb is revealed; and, what is graver still, this idea is utterly out of place in the context. A notion so special and secondary as that of the progress which takes place in faith is inappropriate in a summary which admits only of the fundamental ideas being indicated. It would even be opposed to the apostle's aim to connect the attainment of righteousness with this objective progress of the believer in faith. It is merely as a curiosity of exposition that we mention the view of those who understand the words thus: by faith in faith that is to say, in the faithfulness of God ( Rom 3:3 ). Paul's real view is certainly this: the righteousness of God is revealed by means of the preaching of the gospel as arising from faith ( ἐκ πίστεως ), in this sense, that it is nothing else than faith itself reckoned to man as righteousness. The ἐκ , strictly speaking, out of, which we can only render by means of the preposition by, expresses origin. This clause is joined to the verb is revealed by the phrase understood: as being. This righteousness of faith is revealed at the same time as being for faith, εἰς πίστιν . This second clause signifies that the instrument by which each individual must personally appropriate such a righteousness is likewise faith. To make this form of expression clear, we have only to state the opposite one: Our own righteousness is a righteousness of works and for works that is to say, a righteousness arising from works done and revealed with a view to works to be done. Our formula is the direct opposite of that which described legal righteousness. To be exact, we need not say that to faith here is equivalent to: to the believer. Paul is not concerned with the person appropriating, but solely with the instrument of appropriation, and his view in conjoining these two qualifying clauses was simply to say: that in this righteousness faith is everything, absolutely everything; in essence it is faith itself; and each one appropriates it by faith. These two qualifying clauses meet us in a somewhat different form in other passages; Romans 3:22: “The righteousness of God through faith in Christ unto ( and upon) all them that believe;” Galatians 3:22: “That the promise by faith of Jesus may be given to them that believe;” Philippians 3:9: “Having the righteousness which is by faith in Christ, the righteousness of God for faith.” We need not, however, paraphrase the words for faith, with some commentators, in the sense: to produce faith. The εἰς for, seems to us to indicate merely the destination. It is a righteousness of faith offered to faith. All it has to do is to take possession of it. Of course we must not make a merit of faith. What gives it its justifying value is its object, without which it would remain a barren aspiration. But the object laid hold of could have no effect on man without the act of apprehension, which is faith.

The apostle is so convinced of the unity which prevails between the old and new covenants, that he cannot assert one of the great truths of the gospel without quoting a passage from the Old Testament in its support. He has just stated the theme of his Epistle; now comes what we may call the text: it is a passage from Habakkuk ( Rom 2:4 ), which had evidently played an important part in his inner life, as it did decisively in the life of Luther. He quotes it also Galatians 3:11 (comp. 10:37). With all that prides itself on its own strength, whether in the case of foreign conquerors or in Israel itself, the prophet contrasts the humble Israelite who puts his confidence in God alone. The former will perish; the latter, who alone is righteous in the eyes of God, shall live. The Hebrew word which we translate by faith, emounah, comes from the verb aman, to be firm; whence in the Hiphil: to rest on, to be confident in. In the Hebrew it is: his faith ( emounatho); but the LXX. have translated as if they had found emounathi, my faith (that of God), which might signify either my faithfulness, or faith in me. What the translators thought is of small importance. Paul evidently goes back to the original text, and quotes exactly when he says: “ his faith,” the faith of the believer in his God. In the Hebrew text it is agreed by all that the words by his faith are dependent on the verb shall live, and not on the word the just. But from Theodore Beza onwards, very many commentators think that Paul makes this subordinate clause dependent on the word the just; The just by faith shall live.” This meaning really seems to suit the context more exactly, the general idea being that righteousness (not life) comes by faith. This correspondence is, however, only apparent; for Paul's saying, thus understood, would, as Oltramare acutely observes, put in contrast the just by faith, who shall live, and the just by works, who shall not live. But such a thought would be inadmissible in Paul's view. For he holds that, if one should succeed in being righteous by his works, he would certainly live by them ( Rom 10:5 ). We must therefore translate as in the Hebrew: The just shall live by faith; and the meaning is this: “the just shall live by faith” (by which he has been made just). Paul might have said: the sinner shall be saved by faith. But the sinner, in this case, he calls just by anticipation, viewing him in the state of righteousness into which his faith shall bring him. If he lives by his faith, it is obviously because he has been made just by it, since no one is saved except as being just. The word ζήσεται , shall live, embraced in the prophet's view: 1. Deliverance from present evils (those of the Chaldean invasion), and, in the case of posterity, deliverance from evils to come; 2. The possession of divine grace in the enjoyment of the blessings of the Promised Land. These two notions are, of course, spiritualized by Paul. They become: deliverance from perdition and the possession of eternal life. It is the idea of σωτηρία , salvation, Romans 1:16, reproduced. The word shall live will also have its part to play in the didactic exposition which now begins, and which will develop the contents of this text. In fact, to the end of chap. 5 the apostle analyzes the idea of the righteousness of faith; the word shall live serves as a theme to the whole part from chaps. 6-8, and afterwards, for the practical development, chaps. 12-14.

The exposition of the righteousness of faith, which begins in the following verse, comprises three great developments: the description of universal condemnation, Rom 1:18 to Romans 3:20; that of universal justification, Rom 3:21 to Romans 5:11; and, following up this great contrast as its consummation, parallel between Adam and Christ ( Rom 1:12-21 ). The idea of this entire part, i.-v., taken as a whole, is therefore: the demonstration of justification by faith.

Verse 18

Vv. 18. “ For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth captive unrighteously.

The transition from Rom 1:17 to Romans 1:18, indicated by for, can only be this: There is a revelation of righteousness by the gospel, because there is a revelation of wrath on the whole world. The former is necessary to save the world (comp. σωτηρία , salvation, Rom 1:16 ) from the consequences of the latter.

From the notion of wrath, when it is applied to God, we must of course remove all that pollutes human wrath, personal resentment, the moral perturbation which gives to the manifestations of indignation the character of revenge. In God, who is the living Good, wrath appears as the holy disapprobation of evil, and the firm resolve to destroy it. But it is false to say, as is often done, that this divine emotion applies only to the evil and not to the evil-doer. In measure as the latter ceases to oppose the evil and voluntarily identifies himself with it, he himself becomes the object of wrath and all its consequences. The absence of the article before the word ὀργή , wrath, brings into prominence the category rather than the thing itself: manifestation there is, whose character is that of wrath, not of love.

This manifestation proceeds from heaven. Heaven here does not denote the atmospheric or stellar heaven; the term is the emblematical expression for the invisible residence of God, the seat of perfect order, whence emanates every manifestation of righteousness on the earth, every victorious struggle of good against evil. The visible heavens, the regularity of the motion of the stars, the life-like and pure lustre of their fires, this whole great spectacle has always been to the consciousness of man the sensible representation of divine order. It is from this feeling that the prodigal son exclaims: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight.” Heaven in this sense is thus the avenger of all sacred feelings that are outraged; it is as such that it is mentioned here.

By ἀσέβεια , ungodliness, Paul denotes all failures in the religious sphere; and by ἀδικία , unrighteousness, all that belong to the moral domain Volkmar very well defines the two terms: “Every denial either of the essence or of the will of God.” We shall again find these two kinds of failures distinguished and developed in the sequel; the first, in the refusal of adoration and thanksgiving, Rom 1:21 et seq.; the second, in the refusal of the knowledge of moral good proceeding from God, Romans 1:28 a. ᾿Επί , upon, against, has here a very hostile sense.

The apostle does not say: of men, but literally: of men who repress. As Hofmann says: “The notion men is first presented indefinitely, then it is defined by the special characteristic: who repress ”...We may already conclude, from this absence of the article τῶν ( the) before the substantive, that Paul is not here thinking of all humanity. And, indeed, he could not have charged the Jews with holding captive the truth which had been revealed to them, comp. Romans 2:19-21, while he proceeds to charge this sin directly on the Gentiles. We must therefore regard Rom 1:18 as the theme of chap. 1 only, not that of i. and ii. Besides, the wrath of God was not yet revealed against the Jewish world; it was only accumulating ( Rom 2:5 ).

Certainly the apostle, in expressing himself as he does, does not overlook the varieties in the conduct of the Gentiles, as will appear in the sequel ( Rom 2:14-15 ). He refers only to the general character of their life.

The truth held captive is, as Rom 1:19-20 prove, the knowledge of God as communicated to the human conscience. To hold it captive, is to prevent it from diffusing itself in the understanding as a light, and in the conduct as a holy authority and just rule. The verb κατέχειν , to hold back, detain, cannot here have the meaning which some interpreters would give it, to keep, possess, which the word sometimes has; for example, 1 Corinthians 15:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:21. In that case we should require to place the charge brought against the Gentiles not in this verb, but in the qualifying clause ἐν ἀδικίᾳ : “who possess the truth in unrighteousness ” (that is, while practising unrighteousness). But the sequel proves, on the contrary, that the Gentiles had not kept the deposit of truth which had been confided to them; and the simple clause: in unrighteousness, would not suffice to characterize the sin charged against them, and which is the reason of the divine wrath. We must therefore take the word κατέχειν , to detain, in the sense in which we find it 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7, and Luke 4:42: to keep from moving, to repress. Oltramare: “They hindered it from breaking forth.

Some translate the words ἐν ἀδικίᾳ : by unrighteousness; they paralyze the truth in them by the love and practice of evil. But why in this case not again add the notion of ungodliness to that of unrighteousness? The literal meaning is, not by unrighteousness, but by way of unrighteousness; this clause is therefore taken in the adverbial sense: unrighteously, ill and wickedly. In reality, is there not perversity in paralyzing the influence of the truth on one's heart and life?

To what manifestations does the apostle allude when he says that wrath is revealed from heaven? Does he mean simply the judgment of conscience, as Ambrose and others, with Hodge most recently, think? But here there would be no patent fact which could be taken as a parallel to the preaching of the gospel ( Rom 1:17 ). Bellarmine, Grotius, etc., think that Paul means this preaching itself, and that the words from heaven are synonymous with the ἐν αὐτῷ , in it (the gospel), Romans 1:17. But there is, on the contrary, an obvious antithesis between these two clauses, and consequently a contrast between the revelation of righteousness and that of wrath.

The Greek Fathers, as also Philippi, Ewald, and Ritschl in our own day, regard this manifestation as that which shall take place at the last judgment. This meaning is incompatible with the verb in the present: is revealed; not that a present may not, in certain cases, denote the idea of the action, independently of the time of its realization; so the very verb which Paul here uses is employed by him 1 Corinthians 3:13. But there the future (or ideal) sense of the present is plainly enough shown by all the futures surrounding the verb ( γενήσεται , δηλώσει , δοκιμάσει ), and the context makes it sufficiently clear. But in our passage the present is revealed, Romans 1:18, corresponds to the similar present of Romans 1:17, which is incontrovertibly the actual present. It is not possible, in such a context, to apply the present of Rom 1:18 otherwise than to a present fact. Hofmann takes the word is revealed as referring to that whole multitude of ills which constantly oppress sinful humanity; and Pelagius, taking the word from heaven literally, found here a special indication of the storms and tempests which desolate nature. But what is there in the developments which follow fitted to establish this explanation? The word is revealed, placed emphatically at the head of the piece, should propound the theme; and its meaning is therefore determined by the whole explanation which follows.

We are thus brought to the natural explanation. At Rom 1:24 mention is made of a divine chastisement, that by which men have been given over to the power of their impure lusts. This idea is repeated in Romans 1:26, and a third time in Romans 1:28: “God gave them over to a reprobate mind.” Each time this chastisement, a terrible manifestation of God's wrath, is explained by a corresponding sin committed by the Gentiles. How can we help seeing here, with Meyer, the explanation, given by Paul himself, of his meaning in our verse? Thereby the purport of the following description and its relation to Rom 1:18 become perfectly clear; the truth is explained in Romans 1:19-20; it is God's revelation to the conscience of the Gentiles, the notion: to repress the truth, is explained in Romans 1:21-23 (and 25); these are the voluntary errors of paganism; finally, the idea of the revelation of divine wrath is developed in Romans 1:24-27; these are the unnatural enormities to which God has given the Gentiles up, and by which He has avenged His outraged honor. All the notions of Rom 1:18 are thus resumed and developed in their logical order, Romans 1:19-27: such is the first cycle (the ἀσέβεια , ungodliness). They are resumed and developed a second time in the same order, but under another aspect (the ἀδικία , unrighteousness), Romans 1:28-32. The meaning of the words is revealed from heaven, is not therefore doubtful. It has been objected that the term to reveal always refers to a supernatural manifestation. We do not deny it; and we think that Paul regards the monstrous degradation of pagan populations, which he is about to describe (Romans 1:24-27; Rom 1:29-32 ), not as a purely natural consequence of their sin, but as a solemn intervention of God's justice in the history of mankind, an intervention which he designates by the term παραδιδόναι , to give over.

If Rom 1:18 contains, as we have said, three principal ideas: 1. The Gentiles knew the truth; 2. They repelled it; 3. For this sin the wrath of God is displayed against them, the first of these ideas is manifestly that which will form the subject of Romans 1:19-20.

The Wrath of God, according to Ritschl.

In this work, Die Christliche Lehre von der Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung (II.123-138) (The Christian Doctrine of Justification and Reconciliation), Ritschl ascribes to Pharisaism the invention of the idea of retributive justice, and denies its existence in Holy Scripture. Thus obliged to seek a new meaning for the notion of the wrath of God, he finds the following: In the Old Testament the wrath of God has only one aim: to preserve the divine covenant; the wrath of God therefore only denotes the sudden and violent chastisements with which God smites either the enemies of the covenant, or those of its members who openly violate its fundamental conditions, in both cases not with the view of punishing, but of maintaining here below His work of grace. In the New Testament the idea is substantially the same, but modified in its application. The wrath of God cannot have any other than an eschatological application; it refers to the last judgment, in which God will cut off the enemies of salvation (not to punish them) but to prevent them from hindering the realization of His kingdom (1 Thessalonians 1:10; Rom 5:9 ). As to our passage, which seems irreconcilable with this notion, this critic deals with it as follows:

We must wait till Romans 2:4-5, to find the development of the idea of the wrath of God, enunciated in Romans 1:18. The whole passage, ver. Rom 1:19 to Romans 2:3, is devoted to setting forth the sin of the Gentiles, the fact of their κατέχειν τὴν ἀλήθειαν , holding the truth captive. The description of chastisement ( the revelation of wrath) is not developed till after Romans 2:5; now this passage evidently refers to the last judgment. Thus it is that the ingenious theologian succeeds in harmonizing our passage with his system. But I am afraid there is more ability than truth in the mode he follows:

1. Ritschl will not recognize an inward feeling in the wrath of God, but merely an outward act, a judgment. But why in this case does Paul use the word wrath, to which he even adds, Romans 2:8, the term θυμός , indignation, which denotes the feeling at its deepest?

2. We have seen that the present is revealed, forming an antithesis to the tense of Romans 1:17, and giving the reason of it ( γάρ , for), can only denote a time actually present.

3. Is it not obvious at a glance that the phrase thrice repeated: wherefore He gave them over (Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26; Rom 1:28 ), describes not the sin of the Gentiles, but their chastisement? That appears from the term give over: to give over is the act of the judge; to be given over, the punishment of the culprit. The same follows also from the wherefores; by this word Paul evidently passes each time from the description of the sin to that of the punishment, that is to say, to the revelation of wrath.

4. As to Romans 2:4-5, these verses do not begin with a wherefore, as would be necessary if the apostle were passing at this part of the text from the description of sin to that of chastisement. These verses, on the contrary, are strictly connected with Romans 1:3, as continuing the refutation of Jewish security in relation to the last judgment, a refutation begun at Rom 1:3 with the words: “ Thinkest thou...? ” and carried on to Rom 1:4 with these: “ Or [indeed] despisest thou...? ” How can we regard this as the beginning of a new idea, that of chastisement succeeding that of sin? For the examination of the explanation of Rom 1:32 given by Ritschl, by which he seeks to justify all the violence he does to the text of the apostle, we refer to the verse itself.

With the term ὀργή , wrath, before us, applied to the Gentiles first, Romans 1:18, and afterwards to the Jews, Romans 2:5, we are justified in holding to the notion of that divine feeling as explained by us, pp. 164, 165.

Verses 18-32

First Section (1:18-3:20). The Wrath of God Resting on the Whole World.

From Romans 1:18, St. Paul is undoubtedly describing the miserable state of the Gentile world. From the beginning of chap. 2 he addresses a personage who very severely judges the Gentile abominations just described by Paul, and who evidently represents a wholly different portion of mankind. At Rom 2:17 he apostrophizes this personage by his name: it is the Jew; and he demonstrates to him that he also is under the burden of wrath. Hence it follows that the first piece of this section goes to the end of chap. 1, and has for its subject: the need of salvation demonstrated by the state of the contemporary Gentile world.

Verses 18-32

First Section (1:18-3:20). The Wrath of God Resting on the Whole World.

From Romans 1:18, St. Paul is undoubtedly describing the miserable state of the Gentile world. From the beginning of chap. 2 he addresses a personage who very severely judges the Gentile abominations just described by Paul, and who evidently represents a wholly different portion of mankind. At Rom 2:17 he apostrophizes this personage by his name: it is the Jew; and he demonstrates to him that he also is under the burden of wrath. Hence it follows that the first piece of this section goes to the end of chap. 1, and has for its subject: the need of salvation demonstrated by the state of the contemporary Gentile world.

Verses 19-20

Vv. 19, 20. “ Seeing that that which may be known of God is manifested in them; for God hath manifested it unto them. For the invisible perfections of God, his eternal power and his divinity are spiritually contemplated, since the creation of the world, in his works, that they may be without excuse.

The truth of which Paul wished to speak in Romans 1:18, was that revelation of God's person and character which He had given to men. The διότι , because (for διὰ τοῦτο ὅτι , for the reason that), carries the thought to that which follows as the reason of what precedes, in contrast to διό , on account of which ( Rom 1:24 ), which points to what precedes as the reason for what follows.

The meaning of this διότι , seeing that, is as follows: they quenched the truth, seeing that the truth had been revealed to them ( Rom 1:19-20 ), and they changed it into a lie ( Rom 1:21-23 ) (25).

The term γνωστόν , strictly, what can be known, usually signifies in the New Testament what is really known ( γνωστός ); this is its probable meaning in Luke 2:44; John 18:15; Acts 1:19; Acts 17:23. Yet it is not quite certain that the first meaning may not also be given to the word in some of the passages quoted; and in classic Greek it is the most usual sense (see the numerous examples quoted by Oltramare). What decides in its favor in our passage is the startling tautology which there would be in saying: “ what is known of the being of God is manifested. ” There is therefore ground for preferring here the grammatical and received meaning in the classics. Paul means: “ What can be known of God without the help of an extraordinary revelation is clearly manifested within them.” A light was given in their conscience and understanding, and this light bore on the existence and character of the Divine Being. This present fact: is manifested, is afterwards traced to its cause, which is stated by the verb in the aorist: “for God manifested it to them;” this state of knowledge was due to a divine act of revelation. God is not known like an ordinary object; when He is known, it is He who gives himself to be known. The knowledge which beings have of Him is a free act on His part. Rom 1:20 explains the external means by which He wrought this revelation of Himself in the conscience of men.

Vv. 19 and 20 have explained the word ἀλήθεια , the truth, of Romans 1:18. Rom 1:21-23 develop the phrase: κατέχειν τὴν ἀλήθειαν , to hold this truth captive.

Verse 20

Vv. 20. He did so by His works in nature. By the term τὰ ἀόρατα , the invisible things, the apostle designates the essence of God, and the manifold attributes which distinguish it. He sums them up afterwards in these two: eternal power and dwinity. Power is that which immediately arrests man, when the spectacle of nature presents itself to his view. In virtue of the principle of causality innate in his understanding, he forth with sees in this immense effect the revelation of a great cause; and the Almighty is revealed to him. But this power appears to his heart clothed with certain moral characteristics, and in particular, wisdom and goodness. He recognizes in the works of this power, in the infinite series of means and ends which are revealed in them, the undeniable traces of benevolence and intelligence; and in virtue of the principle of finality, or the notion of end, not less essentially inherent in his mind, he invests the supreme cause with the moral attributes which constitute what Paul here calls divinity, θειότης , the sum total of qualities in virtue of which the creative power can have organized such a world.

The epithet ἀΐδιος , eternal (from ἀεί , always), is joined by some with both substantives; but power alone needed to be so defined, in order to contrast it with that host of second causes which are observed in nature. The latter are the result of anterior causes. But the first cause, on which this whole series of causes and effects depends, is eternal, that is to say, self-causing. The adjective is therefore to be joined only with the first of the two substantives; the second required no such qualification. These invisible things, belonging to the essence of God, have been made visible, since by the creation of the universe they have been externally manifested. Τοῖς ποιήμασι is the dative of instrument: by the works of God in nature; ἀπό , since, indicates that the time of creation was the point of departure for this revelation which lasts still. The complex phrase νοούμενα καθορᾶται , are spiritually contemplated, contains two intimately connected ideas: on the one hand, a viewing with the outward sense; on the other, an act of intellectual perception, whereby that which presents itself to the eye becomes at the same time a revelation to our consciousness. The animal sees as man does; but it lacks the νοῦς , understanding (whence the verb νοεῖν , νοούμενα ), whereby man ascends from the contemplation of the work to that of the worker. These two simultaneous sights, the one sensible, the other rational, constitute in man a single act, admirably characterized by the expression spiritual contemplation, used by the apostle.

We have here a proof of Paul's breadth of mind and heart. He does not disparage, as the Jews did, and as Christian science has sometimes done, the value of what has been called natural theology. And it is certainly not without reason that Baur ( Paulus, II. p. 260) has regarded this passage as laying the first basis of the apostle's universalism. This same idea of a universal revelation appears again in Paul's discourses at Lystra and Athens (Acts 14:17; Act 17:27-28 ); so also in 1 Corinthians 1:21, and in our own Epistle Romans 3:29: “Is God not also the God of the Gentiles?” a question which finds its full explanation in the idea of a primordial revelation addressed to all men.

The last words of the verse point out the aim of this universal revelation: that they may be without excuse. The words are startling: Could God have revealed Himself to the Gentiles only to have a reason for the condemnation with which He visits them? This idea has seemed so revolting, that it has been thought necessary to soften the sense of the phrase εἰς τὸ ...and to translate so that (Osterv.), or: “they are therefore inexcusable” (Oltram.). It is one great merit of Meyer's commentaries that he has vigorously withstood this method of explanation, which arbitrarily weakens the meaning of certain prepositions and particles used by Paul. Had he wished to say so that, he had at command the regular expression ὥστε/ εἶναι . And the truth, if his thought is rightly understood, has nothing so very repulsive about it: in order that, he means, if after having been thus enlightened, they should fall into error as to God's existence and character, they may be without excuse. The first aim of the Creator was to make Himself known to His creature. But if, through his own fault, man came to turn away from this light, he should not be able to accuse God of the darkness into which he had plunged himself. One might translate somewhat coarsely: that in case of going astray, they might not be able to plead ignorance as a pretext. In these circumstances there is nothing to prevent the in order that from preserving its natural meaning.

Verse 21

Vv. 21. “ Seeing that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither gave Him thanks; but were struck with vanity in their reasonings, and their foolish heart was darkened.

The because that bears on the idea of inexcusableness, which closes Romans 1:20, and reproduces the feeling of indignation which had dictated the ἐν ἀδικίᾳ , hurtfully and maliciously, of Romans 1:18: “ Yes, inexcusable, because of the fact that”...How can the apostle say of the Gentiles that they knew God? Is it a simple possibility to which he is referring! The words do not allow this idea. Rom 1:19 declared that the light was really put within them. Paganism itself is the proof that the human mind had really conceived the notion of God; for this notion appears at the root of all the varied forms of paganism. Only this is what happened: the revelation did not pass from the passive to the active form. Man confined himself to receiving it. He did not set himself to grasp it and to develop it spontaneously. He would have been thus raised from light to light; it would have been that way of knowing God by wisdom of which Paul speaks, 1 Corinthians 1:21. Instead of opening himself to the action of the light, man withdrew from it his heart and will; instead of developing the truth, he quenched it. No doubt acts of worship and thanksgiving addressed to the gods were not wanting in paganism; but it is not without meaning that the apostle takes care to put the words in front: as God. The task of the heart and understanding would have been to draw from the contemplation of the work the distinct view of the divine worker, then, in the way of adoration, to invest this sublime being with all the perfections which He displayed in His creation. Such a course would have been to glorify God as God. For the highest task of the understanding is to assert God freely, as He asserts Himself in His revelation. But if this act of reason failed, the heart at least had another task to fulfil: to give thanks. Does not a child even say thanks to its benefactor? This homage failed like the other. The word ἤ , or, must be understood here, as it often is, in the sense of: or at least. The words as God also depend logically on were thankful, which we have not been able to express in French [nor in English].

Now man could not remain stationary. Not walking forwards in the way of active religion, he could only stray into a false path, that of impiety, spoken of Romans 1:18. Having neglected to set God before it as the supreme object of its activity, the understanding was reduced to work in vacuo; it was in some sort made futile ( ἐματαιώθησαν ); it peopled the universe with fictions and chimeras. So Paul designates the vain creations of mythology. The term ἐματαιώθησαν , were struck with vanity, evidently alludes to μάταια , vain things, which was the name given by the Jews to idols (comp. Acts 14:15; Leviticus 17:7; Jeremiah 2:5; 2Ki 17:15 ). The term διαλογισμοί , reasonings, is always taken by the writers of the New Testament in an unfavorable sense; it denotes the unregulated activity of the νοῦς , understanding, in the service of a corrupt heart. The corruption of the heart is mentioned in the following words: it went side by side with the errors of reason, of which it is at once the cause and the effect. The heart, καρδία , is in the New Testament as in the Old ( leb), the central seat of personal life, what we call feeling ( sentiment), that inner power which determines at once the activity of the understanding and the direction of the will. Destitute of its true object, through its refusal to be thankful to God as God, the heart of man is filled with inspirations of darkness; these are the guilty lusts inspired by the egoistic love of the creature and self. The epithet ἀσύνετος , without understanding, is often explained as anticipating what the heart was to become in this course: “in such a way as to become foolish.” But was there not already something senseless in the ingratitude described in Rom 1:21 ? Thus the want of understanding existed from the beginning. In the form of the first aorist passive ἐσκοτίσθη , was darkened (as well as in the preceding aorist ἐματαιώθησαν ), there is expressed the conviction of a divine dispensation, though still under the form of a natural law, whose penal application has fallen on them.

To this first stage, which is rather of an inward kind, there has succeeded a second and more external one.

Verses 22-23

Vv. 22, 23. “ Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of corruptible man, and of birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. ” Futility of thought has reached the character of folly. What, in fact, is Polytheism, except a sort of permanent hallucination, a collective delirium, or as is so well said by M. Nicolas, a possession on a great scale? And this mental disorder rose to a kind of perfection among the very peoples who, more than others, laid claim to the glory of wisdom. When he says: professing to be wise, Paul does not mean to stigmatize ancient philosophy absolutely; he only means that all that labor of the sages did not prevent the most civilized nations, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, from being at the same time the most idolatrous of antiquity. The popular imagination, agreeably served by priests and poets, did not allow the efforts of the wise to dissipate this delirium.

When good is omitted, there always comes in its place an evil committed. As, in respect of the understanding, the refusal of adoration ( they did not glorify) became a vain laboring of the mind ( they became vain), and, finally, complete estrangement from truth, folly ( they became fools); so in respect of the heart, ingratitude was first transformed into darkness; and, finally such is the last term described Romans 1:23 -into monstrous and debasing fetishism. The ungrateful heart did not stop short at not thanking God, it degraded and dishonored Him, by changing Him into His opposite.

The glory of God is the splendor which His manifested perfections cast into the heart of His intelligent creatures; hence, a bright image which is to man the ideal of all that is good. This image had been produced within them. What did they make of it? The sequel tells. While holding the divine person, they wrapped it up, as it were, in the likeness of its opposite; it would have been almost better to leave it in silence, it would not have been so great an affront. The preposition ἐν (which corresponds here to the Hebrew א ) exactly describes this imprisonment of the divine glory in a form ignoble and grotesque. This meaning seems to us preferable to that of commentators who, like Meyer, translate ἐν , by, which is less natural with a verb such as change. It is simpler to say “change into,” than “change by. ” The epithet incorruptible is, as it were, a protest beforehand against this degradation; we need not then translate, with Oltramare, immortal. Paul means to say that the glory of God is not reached by this treatment which it has had to undergo. In the phrase: the likeness of the image, we should certainly apply the first term to the material likeness, and the second to the image present to the artist's mind when he conceives the type of God which he is going to represent. The worship of man especially characterizes Greek and Roman Polytheism; that of the different classes of animals, Egyptian and Barbarian paganism. We need only refer to the worship of the bull Apis, the ibis, the cat, the crocodile, etc., among the Egyptians.

Thus idolatry, according to Paul, is not a progressive stage reached in the religious thought of mankind, starting from primeval fetichism. Far from being a first step toward the goal of Monotheism, Polytheism is on the contrary the result of degeneracy, an apostasy from the original Monotheism, a darkening of the understanding and heart, which has terminated in the grossest fetichism. The history of religions, thoroughly studied as it is nowadays, fully justifies Paul's view. It shows that the present heathen peoples of India and Africa, far from rising of themselves to a higher religious state, have only sunk, age after age, and become more and more degraded. It proves that at the root of all pagan religions and mythologies, there lies an original Monotheism, which is the historical starting-point in religion for all mankind.

This statement of the apostle has been regarded as a reflection of that contained in the Book of Wisdom (comp. for example, the passages, Wis 13:1-8 ; Wis 14:11-20 ). But what a difference between the tame and superficial explanation of idolatry, which the Alexandrian author gives to his readers, and the profound psychological analysis contained in the preceding verses of St. Paul! The comparison brings out exactly the difference between the penetration of the author enlightened from above, and that of the ordinary Jew seeking to reconstruct the great historic fact of idolatry by his own powers.

The apostle has developed the two terms of Romans 1:18: truth, and repressing the truth. After thus presenting, on the one hand, the divine revelation, and, on the other, the sin of man in quenching it, it remains to him only to expound the third idea of his text: the terrible manifestation of God's wrath on that sin, in which the whole of human impiety was concentrated.

Verses 24-25

Vv. 24, 25. “ Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves:who travestied the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature instead of the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. ” In these words there is expressed the feeling of indignation raised in the heart of the apostle by the thought and view of the treatment to which God has been subjected by the creature to whom He revealed Himself so magnificently. The verses have something of that παροξυσμός , that exasperation of heart, of which the author of the Acts speaks ( Act 17:16 ) when describing Paul's impressions during his stay at Athens. This feeling is expressed forcibly by the two conjunctions διὸ καί , wherefore also. Διό , literally, on account of which, that is to say, of the sin just described; this first conjunction refers to the justice of punishment in general; the second, καί , also, brings out more especially the relation of congruity between the nature of the punishment and that of the offence. They sinned, wherefore God punished them; they sinned by degrading God, wherefore also God degraded them. This καί has been omitted by the Alex.; a mistake, as is plain, for it expresses the profoundest idea of the whole piece. No one would have thought of adding it. The word gave over does not signify that God impelled them to evil, to punish the evil which they had already committed. The holiness of God is opposed to such a sense, and to give over is not to impel. On the other hand, it is impossible to stop short at the idea of a simple permission: “God let them give themselves over to evil.” God was not purely passive in the terrible development of Gentile corruption. Wherein did His action consist? He positively withdrew His hand; He ceased to hold the boat as it was dragged by the current of the river. This is the meaning of the term used by the apostle, Acts 14:16: “He suffered the Gentiles to walk in their own ways,” by not doing for them what He never ceased to do for His own people. It is not a case of simple abstention, it is the positive withdrawal of a force. Such also is the meaning of the saying, Genesis 6:3: “My Spirit shall not always strive with man.” As Meyer says: “The law of history, in virtue of which the forsaking of God is followed among men by a parallel growth of immorality, is not a purely natural order of things; the power of God is active in the execution of this law.” If it is asked how such a mode of action harmonizes with the moral perfection of God, the answer undoubtedly is, that when man has reached a certain degree of corruption, he can only be cured by the very excess of his own corruption; it is the only means left of producing what all preceding appeals and punishments failed to effect, the salutary action of repentance. So it is that at a given moment the father of the prodigal son lets him go, giving him even his share of goods. The monstrous and unnatural character of the excesses about to be described confirms this view.

The two prepositions, ἐν , through, and εἰς , to, differ from one another as the current which bears the bark along, once it has been detached from the shore, differs from the abyss into which it is about to be precipitated. Lusts exist in the heart; God abandons it to their power, and then begins that fall which must end in the most degrading impurities. The infinitive τοῦ ἀτιμάζεσθαι might be translated: to the impurity which consists in dishonoring. But as the whole passage is dominated by the idea of the “manifestation of divine wrath,” it is more natural to give this infinitive the notion of end or aim: in order to dishonor. It is a condemnation: “You have dishonored me; I give you up to impurity, that you may dishonor your own selves.” Observe the καί , also, at the beginning of the verse. The verb ατιμάζεσθαι is found in the classics only in the passive sense: to be dishonored. This meaning would not suit here, unless we translate, as Meyer does: “that their bodies might be dishonored among them” (the one by the other). But this meaning does not correspond with the force of the apostolic thought. The punishment consists not merely in being dishonored, but especially in dishonoring oneself. ᾿Ατιμάζεσθαι must therefore be taken as the middle, and in the active sense: “to dishonor their bodies in themselves. If this middle sense is not common in the classics, it is accidental, for it is perfectly regular. The clause in themselves looks superfluous at first sight; but Paul wishes to describe this blight as henceforth inherent in their very personality: it is a seal of infamy which they carry for the future on their forehead. The meaning of the two readings ἐν αὐτοῖς and ἐν ἑαυτοῖς does not differ; the first is written from the writer's point of view, the second from the viewpoint of the authors of the deed.

The punishment is so severe that Paul interrupts himself, as if he felt the need of recalling how much it was deserved. With the οἵτινες , those who, Romans 1:25, he once more passes from the punishment to the sin which had provoked it. God has dealt so with them, as people who had dealt so with Him. Such is the meaning of the pronoun ὅστις , which does not only designate, but describe. The verb μετήλλαξαν , travestied, through the addition of the preposition μετά , enhances the force of the simple ἤλλαξαν , changed, of Romans 1:23: the sin appears ever more odious to the apostle, the more he thinks of it.

The truth of God certainly means here: the true notion of His being, the idea which alone corresponds to so sublime a reality, and which ought to be produced by the revelation of Himself which he had given; comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:9, where the true God is opposed to idols. As the abstract term is used to denote the true God, so the abstract word lie here denotes idols, that ignoble mask in which the heathen expose the figure of the All-perfect. And here comes the height of insult. After travestying God by an image unworthy of him, they make this the object of their veneration ( ἐσεβάσθησαν ). To this term, which embraces all heathen life in general, Paul adds ἐλάτρευσαν , they served, which refers to positive acts of worship. Παρά , by the side of, signifies with the accusative: passing beyond, leaving aside with contempt (to go and adore something else).

The doxology which closes this verse: who is blessed for ever, is a homage intended to wash off, as it were, the opprobrium inflicted on God by heathenism. On account of its termination, εὐλογητός may either signify: who ought to be blessed, or: who is blessed. The second meaning is simpler and more usual: just because He ought to be so, He is and will be so, whatever the heathen may do in the matter. The term εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας , for ever, contrasts God's eternal glory with the ephemeral honor paid to idols, or the temporary affronts given to God. ᾿Αμήν , amen, comes from the Hebrew aman, to be firm. It is an exclamation intended to scatter by anticipation all the mists which still exist in the consciousness of man, and darken the truth proclaimed.

Verse 25

Vv. 25 was an interruption extorted from Paul by the need which his outraged heart felt to justify once more the severity of such a punishment. He now resumes his exposition of the punishment, begun in Romans 1:24; and this time he proceeds to the end. He does not shrink from any detail fitted to bring out the vengeance which God has taken on the offence offered to His outraged majesty.

Verses 26-27

Vv. 26, 27. “ For this cause God gave them up unto dishonoring passions: for even their women did change 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 infamy, and receiving in themselves the well-merited recompense of their error.

Ver. 26 resumes the description begun in Romans 1:24, and which Paul had interrupted to ascend, Romans 1:25, from the punishment to its cause. The διὰ τοῦτο , for this cause, relates to Romans 1:25, and has the same logical bearing as the διό , wherefore, in Romans 1:24, which referred to Romans 1:23 (reproduced in Rom 1:25 ). It is therefore perfectly natural that the verb of the two propositions, Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26, should be one and the same ( παρέδωκεν , He gave over).

The complement ἀτιμίας , of dishonor, is a genitive of quality ( dishonoring, vile). This word goes back on the end of Romans 1:24: to dishonor their bodies among themselves. The term πάθη , passions, has something still more ignoble in it than ἐπιθυμίαι , lusts, in Romans 1:24; for it contains a more pronounced idea of moral passivity, of shameful bondage.

The picture which follows of the unnatural vices then prevalent in Gentile society is confirmed in all points by the frightful details contained in the works of Greek and Latin writers. But it is asked, How can Paul give himself up, with a sort of complacency, to such a delineation? The answer lies in the aim of the whole passage to show the divine wrath displayed on the Gentile world; comp. the term ἀντιμισθία , meet recompense, Romans 1:27. A law broods over human existence, a law which is at the same time a divine act: Such as thou makest thy God, such wilt thou make thyself.

The expressions ἄῤῥενες , θήλειαι , literally, males, females, are chosen to suit the spirit of the context.

The whole is calculated to show that there is here a just recompense on the part of God. The μετήλλαξαν , they changed, travestied, corresponds to the same verb, Romans 1:25, and the παρὰ φύσιν , contrary to nature, to the παρὰ τὸν κτίσαντα of the same verse.

There is in the ὁμοίως τε an idea of equality: and equally so, while the reading ὁμοίως δέ of four Mjj. contains further an idea of progress, as if the dishonoring of man by man were an intensification of that of woman.

In the ἣν ἔδει , which we have translated by “ well-merited recompense” (literally, the recompense which was meet), one feels, as it were, the indignant breathing of God's holy wrath. Justice could not let it be otherwise! The error, πλάνη , is not that of having sought satisfaction in such infamies; it is the voluntary lie of idolatry, the lie ( ψεῦδος ) of Romans 1:25, the quenching of the truth, Romans 1:18; for this is what explains the ἀντιμισθία , the withering retribution just described. Once again the clause in themselves brings out the depth of this blight; they bear it in themselves, it is visible to the eyes of all.

The moral sentiment in man is based on the conception of the holy God. To abandon the latter, is to paralyze the former. By honoring God we ennoble ourselves; by rejecting Him we infallibly ruin ourselves. Such, according to the apostle, is the relation between heathenism and moral corruption. Independent morality is not that of St. Paul.

He has described the ungodliness of the Gentile world, idolatry, and its punishment, unnatural impurities. He now describes the other aspect of the world's sin, unrighteousness, and its punishment, the overflowing of monstrous iniquities committed by men against one another, and threatening to overwhelm society.

Verse 28

Vv. 28. “ And even as they did not think good to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a mind void of discernment, to do those things which are not fitting.

The ungodliness of the Gentiles was accompanied by a depth of iniquity: the refusal to let the thought of the perfect God rule human life. To retain God as an object of distinct knowledge (the literal sense of Paul's words), is to keep alive within the mind the view of that holy Being, so that His will shall give law to our whole conduct. This is what the Gentiles refused to do. Ceasing to contemplate God and His will, they were given over to all unrighteousness. Καθώς , even as (literally, agreeably to which), indicates anew the exact correlation between this unrighteousness and the punishment about to be described. Νοῦς ἀδόκιμος , which we translate: a mind void of discernment, corresponds to the οὐκ ἐδοκίμασαν , they did not think good; having refused to appreciate God, they lost the true sense of moral appreciation, and this loss with all its consequences is a judgment, as well as the unnatural passions described above. Such is the force of the παρέδωκεν , gave over, corresponding to the same verb in Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26.

The phrase: those things which are not fitting, to express evil, is well suited to the notion of appreciation which is included in the verb δοκιμάζειν , to judge good, and the adjective ἀδόκιμος . Evil is here characterized as moral incongruity, calculated to revolt the νοῦς , reason, if it were not deprived of its natural discernment. The infinitive ποιεῖν , to do, is almost equivalent to a Latin gerund “ in doing. ” The subjective negation μή with the participle signifies: all that is ranked in the class designated by the participle.

Remark, finally, the intentional repetition of the substantive ὁ Θεός , God: “As thou treatest God, God treateth thee.” It is by mistake that this second God is omitted in the Sinaït. and Alex.

Volkmar makes Rom 1:28 the beginning of a new section. He would have it that the subject begun here is Jewish, in opposition to Gentile guiltiness ( Rom 1:18-27 ). But nothing, either in the text or in the thought, indicates such a transition; the καί , also, is opposed to it, and the charge raised by the apostle in the following verses, and especially Romans 1:32, is exactly the opposite of the description which he gives of the Jews, chap. 2. The latter appear as the judges of Gentile corruption, while the men characterized in Rom 1:32 give it their applause.

Verse 29

Vv. 29 a. “ Being filled with every kind of unrighteousness, perverseness, maliciousness, covetousness.

In the following enumeration we need not seek a rigorously systematic order. Paul evidently lets his pen run on as if he thought that, of all the bad terms which should present themselves, none would be out of place or exaggerated. But in this apparent disorder one can detect a certain grouping, a connection through the association of ideas.

The first group which we have detached in our translation embraces four terms; according to the T. R., five. But the word πορνεία , uncleanness, should evidently be rejected; for it is wanting in many Mjj.; it is displaced in some others; finally, the subject has been exhausted in what precedes.

The phrase: “all sort of unrighteousness,” embraces collectively the whole following enumeration: πονηρία , perverseness, denotes the bad instinct of the heart; κακία , maliciousness, the deliberate wickedness which takes pleasure in doing harm; πλεονεξία , covetousness (the desire of having more πλέον ἔχειν ), the passion for money, which does not scruple to lay hold of the possessions of its neighbor to augment its own. The participle πεπληρωμένους , filled, at the head of this first group, is in apposition to the understood subject of ποιεῖν .

The four terms of this first group thus refer to injustices committed against the well-being and property of our neighbor.

Vv. 29 b. “ Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, bitterness.

These five terms form again a natural group, which embraces all the injustices whereby the person of our neighbor is injured. The adjective μεστούς , full of (properly, stuffed), on which this group depends, indicates a change of idea from the preceding. As an adjective, it denotes solely the present attribute, while the preceding participle implied the process of growth which had led to the state described. The similarity of sound in the two Greek words: φθόνου , envy, and φόνου , murder, has led to their being often combined also in the classics; besides, envy leads to murder, as is shown by the example of Cain. If envy does not go the length of making away with him whose advantages give us umbrage, it seeks at least to trouble him with deception in the enjoyment of his wealth; this is expressed by ἔρις , strife, quarrelling; finally, in this course one seeks to injure his neighbor by deceiving him ( δόλος , deceit), or to render his life miserable by bitterness of temper ( κακοήθεια ).

Verses 30-31

Vv. 30a. “ Whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters.

The dispositions expressed in the six terms of this group are those of which pride is the centre. There is no reason for reducing them to four, as Hofmann would, by making the second term the epithet of the first, and the fourth that of the third; this does not suit the rapidity of the enumeration and the need of accumulating terms. Ψιθυριστής , whisperer, the man who pours his poison against his neighbor by whispering into the ear; κατάλαλος , the man who blackens publicly; θεοστυγής signifies, in the two classical passages where it is found (Euripides), hated of God, and Meyer therefore contends that the passive sense ought to be preserved here, while generalizing it; the name would thus signify all hardened malefactors. But this general meaning is impossible in an enumeration in which the sense of each term is limited by that of all the rest. The active signification: hating God, is therefore the only suitable one; it is the highest manifestation of pride, which cannot brook the thought of this superior and judge; one might say: the most monstrous form of calumny (the malediction of Providence); Suidas and CEcumenius, two writers nearer the living language than we, thought they could give to this word the active signification, a fact which justifies it sufficiently. To insolence toward God (the sin of ὕβρις among the Greeks) there is naturally joined insult offered to men: ὑβριστής , insolent, despiteful. The term ὑπερήφανος (from ὑπέρ , φαίνομαι ), proud, designates the man who, from a feeling of his own superiority, regards others with haughtiness; while ἀλαζών , boaster, denotes the man who seeks to attract admiration by claiming advantages he does not really possess.

Vv. 30b, 31. Inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without tenderness, without pity.

The last group refers to the extinction of all the natural feelings of humanity, filial affection, loyalty, tenderness, and pity. It includes six terms. The first, inventors of evil things, denotes those who pass their lives meditating on the evil to be done to others; so Antiochus Epiphanes is called by the author of 2 Macc. ( 2Ma 7:31 ), πάσης κακίας εὑρετής , and Sejanus by Tacitus, facinorum repertor. People of this stamp have usually begun to betray their bad character in the bosom of their families they have been disobedient to their parents. ᾿Ασύνετος , without understanding, denotes the man who is incapable of lending an ear to wise counsel; thus understood, it has a natural connection with the previous term; Hofmann cites Psalms 32:8-9. ᾿Ασύνθετος , which many translate irreconcilable, can hardly have this meaning, for the verb from which it comes does not signify to reconcile, but to decide in common, and hence to make a treaty. The adjective therefore describes the man who without scruple violates the contracts he has signed, the faithless man. ῎Αστοργος , without tenderness, from στέργειν , to cherish, caress, foster; this word denotes the destruction even of the feelings of natural tenderness, as is seen in a mother who exposes or kills her child, a father who abandons his family, or children who neglect their aged parents. If the following word in the T. R., ἀσπόνδους , truce-breakers, were authentic, its meaning would be confounded with that of ἀσυνθέτους , rightly understood. ᾿Ανελεήμων , without pity, is closely connected with the preceding ἀστόργους , without tenderness; but its meaning is more general. It refers not only to tender feelings within the family circle; here it calls up before the mind the entire population of the great cities flocking to the circus to behold the fights of gladiators, frantically applauding the effusion of human blood, and gloating over the dying agonies of the vanquished combatant. Such is an example of the unspeakable hardness of heart to which the whole society of the Gentile world descended. What would it have come to if a regenerating breath had not at this supreme moment passed over it? It is in this last group that the fact which the apostle is concerned to bring out is most forcibly emphasized, that of a divine judgment manifesting itself in this state of things. In fact, we have no more before us iniquities which can be explained by a simple natural egoism. They are enormities which are as unnatural as the infamies described above as the punishment of heathenism. Thus is proved the abandonment of men to a mind void of discernment (the ἀδόκιμος νοῦς of Rom 1:28 ).

Verse 32

Vv. 32. “ Who, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but applaud those who do them.

The relation of this verse to what precedes has been very generally misunderstood, hence probably the corrections of the text attempted in some MSS.

The most serious misunderstanding is that of Ritschl. This theologian regards the men to whom this verse and the four following ( Rom 2:1-4 ) refer as forming a class by themselves, and wholly different from the sinners described from Rom 1:19 onward. The men who repress the truth, Romans 1:18, are according to him divided into two classes: “those who through heathenism have quenched the feeling of divine revelation ( Rom 1:19-31 ),” and “those who, while judging the immoralities produced by paganism, nevertheless take part in them by their conduct ( Rom 1:32 to Rom 2:4 ).” But it is easy to see that this construction is devised solely with the view of finding the development of the idea of divine wrath, Romans 1:18, in the passage Rom 2:5 et seq., and not in the παραδιδόναι , giving over, of Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26; Romans 1:28 (see p. 168). This construction, proposed by Ritschl, is impossible.

1. Because judging with a view to approve, Romans 1:32, is not the same thing as judging to condemn, Romans 2:1-2.

2. On account of the obvious relation between the terms of Romans 1:32: though knowing the judgment of God, and those of Romans 1:28: they did not keep God in their knowledge.

3. The uniform sense of the pronoun οἵτινες , as people who, forces us to seek in the description of Rom 1:32 the justification of the judgment described from Romans 1:28.

Far, then, from indicating a change of persons, this pronoun expresses the moral qualification by which the individuals just described have drawn on them so severe a punishment. It is an exact parallel to the οἵτινες of Romans 1:25. The latter justified the judgment of idolaters by recalling to mind the greatness of their offence. The former in the same way justifies the punishment which has overtaken the resistance of man to the revelation of moral good (Romans 1:28 a): “They had well deserved to be given over to this deluge of iniquities, they who had acted thus toward God when He revealed his will to them.” The terms which follow and explain the pronoun they who, set forth this radical iniquity through which men quenched the sentiment of moral truth revealed in them; comp. Romans 1:28 a Τὸ δικαίωμα , strictly, what God establishes as just; here: His just sentence; ἐπιγνόντες denotes the clear discernment which men had of it. The word recalls the γνόντες τὸν Θεόν , knowing God, of Romans 1:21: moral light was produced in them as well as religious light. The words following indicate the contents of that sentence which God had taken care to engrave on their heart. What appeals to God's justice do we not find in the writings of Gentile historians and philosophers! What a description in their poets of the punishment inflicted on malefactors in Tartarus! The phrase worthy of death has been applied by some, and recently again by Hofmann, to the punishment of death as executed by human judges. But this penalty would suit only one term in the whole preceding enumeration, viz., φόνος , murder; and the τὰ τοιαῦτα , such things, does not allow so restricted an application. Death therefore here denotes death as God only can inflict it, the pains of Hades, which the Gentiles also recognized, and which Paul, designating things from his own point of view, calls death. The second part of the verse leads from the offence to the punishment. It is the mind deprived of discernment, to which God has given up men, in its most monstrous manifestation; not only doing evil, but applauding those who do it! This is true to fact. Had not the Caligulas and Neros found advocates, admirers, multitudes always ready to offer them incense? The not only, but even, rightly assumes that there is more guilt in approving in cold blood of the evil committed by others, than in committing it oneself under the force and blindness of passion. Such a mode of acting is therefore the last stage in the corruption of the moral sense.

The reading of the Cantab. would signify: “They who, knowing the sentence of God, did not understand that those who do such things are worthy of death; for not only do they do them, etc.”...This meaning would be admissible, but the contents of the sentence of God would remain absolutely unexplained, which is far from natural. The reading of the Vatic. would give the following translation: “They who, knowing the sentence of God, that those who do such things are worthy of death, not only doing those things, but approving those who do them.” The construction in this case demands the doubling of the verb εἰσίν , are (first, as verb of the proposition ὅτι , that those who; then as verb of the proposition οἵτινες , they who). This construction is very forced; it is very probable, as has been supposed, that the reading of B is only an importation into the apostolic text of a form of quotation found in the Epistle of Clemens Romanus. This Father, quoting our passage, says: “They who practice these things are abominable in the sight of God; and not only they who do them ( οἱ πράσσοντες ), but those also who approve them ( οἱ συνευδοκοῦντες ).” The “ did not understand,” and the for added by the Cantab., appear to be mere attempts to correct the reading of the Vaticanus. In the whole of this chapter the apostle evidently distinguishes two degrees in the sin of the Gentile world; the one active and internal, the other passive and external; the one a natural result of depraved instinct, the other having the character of unnatural monstrosity. The first is chargeable on man, it is his guilt; the second is sin as a punishment, the manifest sign of God's wrath. This great historical fact is developed in two aspects. First, from the religious point of view: man quenches his intuition of the Divine Being, and clothes God in the form of an idol; his punishment in this connection is self-degradation by monstrous impurities. Then in the moral point of view: man quenches the light of conscience, and as a punishment his moral discernment is so perverted that he puts the seal of his approbation on all the iniquities which he should have condemned and prevented. This is the worst of corruptions, that of the conscience. Thus is fully justified the great thought of Romans 1:18: The wrath of God displayed on the Gentile world to punish the voluntary darkening of the religious sense ( ungodliness) and of the moral sense ( unrighteousness), which had been awakened in man by the primeval revelation of God.

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Bibliographical Information
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on Romans 1". "Godet's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gsc/romans-1.html.