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Bible Commentaries
Romans 1

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

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Verse 1

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

Paul — A little man, it should seem by his name (such as was James the Less, Mark 15:40 ): but as the Church of Philadelphia (discommended for nothing), though she had but a little strength, yet had a great door set open; and as Bethlehem was the least, and yet not the least among the princes of Judah; so was this apostle the last,1 Corinthians 15:8; 1 Corinthians 15:8 ; (and perhaps the least in stature), as one born out of due time. See Trapp on " Acts 13:9 " Revelation 3:9 ; Matthew 2:6 ; cf. Micah 5:2 ; 1 Corinthians 15:8 . But God (who loves to be maximus in minimis the greatest in the least) had designed him to great services, and gifted him accordingly, so that he was no whit behind the very chiefest of the apostles, 2 Corinthians 11:5 ; and for painstaking, he laboured more abundantly than they all, 1 Corinthians 15:10 . Hence Chrysostom calleth him insatiabilem Dei cultorem, an insatiable servant of Christ. And himself seems as insatiable a praiser of this apostle (the apostle he commonly nameth him "by an excellency"), for he hath written eight homilies in his commendation. And if any think he hath said too much, it is because either they have not read him, or cannot judge his worth. Qui tricubitalis caelos transcendit (as the same father saith), little though he were, yet he got above the heavens. b

A servant of Jesus Christ — This is a higher title than monarch of the world, as Numa, second king of Rome, could say. του θεου υπηρεσιαν βασιλευειν ενομιζεν . Plut. Constantinus, Valentinus, and Theodosius, three emperors, called themselves Vasallos Christi, the vassals of Christ, as Socrates reporteth.

Verse 2

2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)

Promised — Foreshowed and foreshadowed in the types of the ceremonial law (which was their gospel, it was Christ in figure), and in the writings of the prophets; only by degrees and piecemeal, πολυμερως . God spake of old to our fathers, by his servants the prophets, Hebrews 1:1 . All was in riddles to what it is now; and that saying took place, Et latet, et lucet. It is close, and yet clear.

Verse 3

Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;

Concerning his Son — Here is a lofty and lively description of Christ’s sacred person. The whole Epistle being the confession of our Churches, as Melancthon calleth it, who therefore went over it ten different times in his ordinary lectures (Scultet. Annal.): the Epistle being such, as never can any man possibly think, speak, or write sufficiently of its worth and excellency. Mr Perkins adviseth, in reading the Scripture, first to begin with the Gospel of John, and this Epistle to the Romans, as being the keys of the New Testament. And for this Epistle to the Romans, Cardinal Pole adviseth to begin at the twelfth chapter, and read to the end; and practise the precepts of repentance and mortification, and then set upon the former part of the Epistle, where justification and predestination are handled.

According to the fleshi.e. Either his body or his human nature, called a swift cloud (as some will have it), Isaiah 19:1 ; "Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt." And the habitable part of God’s earth, Proverbs 8:31 . For the Word dwelt among us, John 1:14 . And here was habitatio Dei cum carne, God dwelling with flesh, which the magicians held impossible, Daniel 2:11 . It was much for God to "pour out his Spirit upon all flesh," the best thing upon the basest, Joel 2:28 . But it was more, for the fulness of the Godhead bodily to inhabit it, Colossians 2:9 . See Trapp on " 1 Corinthians 1:2 " St Paul seems to have learned of the holy angels, thus to salute, Luke 2:14 . See Trapp on " Luke 2:14 "

Verse 4

And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

Declared to be, … — Gr. ορισθεντος , defined; for definitions explain obscurities.

With power — For, Superas evadere ad auras, Hic labor, hoc opus est -a work befitting a God. See Ephesians 1:20 . See Trapp on " Ephesians 1:20 "

The Spirit of holiness — The divine essence of Christ, 2 Corinthians 13:4 , which sanctifieth the human nature assumed by him.

Verse 5

By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:

For obedience to the faith — That is, to the gospel (that doctrine of faith), or to Christ, who is often put for faith (whereof he is the proper object) in this Epistle. "Kiss the Son," … "Hear him," Psalms 2:12 ; Matthew 17:5 .

Verse 6

Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:

Ye are the called — With a high and heavenly calling,Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 3:1 . See Trapp on " Hebrews 3:1 "

Verse 7

To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Called to be saints — Those then that are called, are saints while alive, and not only those that are canonized by the pope after they are dead in numerum Deorum ab Ecclesia Romana relati, as Bembus profanely speaketh of their St Francis, a sorry man, of whom (as once of Becket 48 years after his death) it may well be disputed whether he were damned or saved. Pope Callistus III sainted some such in his time, as of whom Cardinal Bessarion, knowing them for naught, said, These new saints make me doubt much of the old.

Grace be to you, and peaceSee Trapp on " 1 Corinthians 1:2 "

Verse 8

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

Your faith is spoken of — See Romans 16:26 , and Juvenal, Tacitus, and other profane writers, who bitterly exagitate the doctrines and practices of those Roman Christians. Now that must needs be good that such men speak evil of: and as Jerome writeth to Austin, Quod signum maioris gloriae est, Omnes haeretici me detestantur: the heretics hate me; and that is no small grace to me.

Verse 9

For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;

Whom I serve in my spirit — That is, with all the faculties of my soul concentred and co-united.

Verse 10

Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.

I might have a prosperous journey — This he prayed, and this he had by such a way as he little dreamed of. Little thought Paul, that when he was bound at Jerusalem, and posted from one prison to another, that God was now sending him to Rome; yet he sent him, and very safe with a great convoy. God goes often another way to work for our good than we could imagine.

Verse 11

For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;

That I may impart — There is no envy in spiritual things, because they may be divided in solidum; one may have as much as another, and all alike. Scientiarum (sic et gratiavum) ea vis est naturae et quo plus doceas, et alteri de tuo largiare, eo ditior ac doctior fias, saith Bodina. Such is the nature and property of sciences and graces, that the more you communicate them, the more you increase them.

Verse 12

That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

That I may be comforted — Or, exhorted, Ad communem exhortationem percipiendam, saith Beza out of Bucer, and others. The meanest of Christ’s members may contribute somewhat to the edifying even of an apostle, 2 John 1:12 . That favourite of Christ would be furthered and quickened by the graces of a woman. Now when such grandees in grace have benefit by communion of saints, how much more may they whose measures are less! The very angels know not so much but they would know more, Ephesians 3:10 ; 1 Peter 1:12 .

Verse 13

Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.

But was let hitherto — Either by Satan,1 Thessalonians 2:18; 1 Thessalonians 2:18 ; or by the Holy Spirit otherwise disposing of him, as Acts 19:6-7 ; or by some intervenient but important occasion, as Romans 15:20-21 .

Verse 14

I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.

I am debtor — Because intrusted with talents for that purpose, 1 Corinthians 9:16 . See Trapp on " 1 Corinthians 9:16 " It might more truly be said of Paul than it was of Cato, that he did- toti natum se credere mundo, believe himself born for a common good (Lucan); or, than it was said to Bucer by his physicians, Non sibi se, sed multorun utilitati esse natum, that he was born for the benefit of many. (Melch. Adam.)

Verse 15

So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

So as muchQuicquid in me situm est, promptum est. A notable expression.

Verse 16

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

For I am not ashamed — As men are apt to be; whence that fatherly charge,2 Timothy 1:8; 2 Timothy 1:8 . Do ye think (said John Frith, martyr, to the archbishop’s men that would have let him go) that I am afraid to declare mine opinion unto the bishops of England in a manifest truth? If you should both leave me here, and go tell the bishops that you had lost Frith, I would surely follow as fast after as I might, and bring them news that I had found and brought Frith again.

For it is the power, … — Eternal life is potentially in the word preached, as the harvest is potentially in the seed.

Verse 17

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

The just shall live by faithHabakkuk 2:4 , that is, they shall enjoy themselves by their faith, in greatest disasters or dangers, when others are at their wits’ ends. That is the prophet’s sense; and the apostle not unfitly applieth it to prove justification by faith alone, for if a man live by faith he is just by faith.

Verse 18

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

Who hold the truth — Hold the light of their conscience (which is as a prophet from God) prisoner. The natural man, that he may sin the more securely, imprisons the truth which he acknowledgeth, and lays hold on all the principles in his head that might any way disturb his course in sin, locking them up in restraint. Hence it appears that no man is righteous in himself, or by his own righteousness, which was the το κρινομενον . Those of the philosophers that knew most, as Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, …, are belied if they were not vicious in their practice, et de virtute locuti, Clunem agitant. (Juvenal.) Plato had the knowledge of one God; but dared not say so publicly. It is neither easy (saith he) to find out the Creator of all, nor safe to communicate the knowledge of him to the common people. So Seneca wrote a book (now lost) against superstitions; but saith Austin, Libertas affuit scribenti, non viventi: colebat quod reprehendebat, agebat quod arguebat, quod culpabat adorabat: He lived not after his own writings, but worshipped what he reproved; he did what he decried, he bowed before that he blamed; saying (as Domitius Calderinus when he went to mass) Eamus ad eommunem errorem, Let us go to that which we cannot but condemn for a common error. (Bucholcer.)

Verse 19

Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

Because that which may — Heathens might know God the Creator, per species creaturarum (as they speak), either in way of negation, or causality, or eminence: not so God tile Redeemer.

Verse 20

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Are clearly seen — Pervidentur. As in a mirror, or as on a theatre. Ut solem in aquis, sic Deum in operibus contemplamur. God (saith one) is best seen in his works, as the sun in the west. a

a Saeculum est speculum, quo Deum intueamur.

Verse 21

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Neither were thankful — How then shall we answer to God our hateful unthankfulness, which is (saith one) "a monster in nature, a solecism in manners, a paradox in divinity, a parching wind to dam up the fountain of divine favours." Woe be to our Solifugae that abuse gospel light; these put not light "under a bushel" (as the poor Paynims did) but under a dunghill; Gravis est lux conscientiae, Heavy is the light of conscience, saith Seneca; but heavier is the light of the gospel, gravior est lux Evangelii, say we. A heavy account will they give that abuse the light of nature; but much heavier they that "receive the grace of God in vain."

But became vain in their imaginations — Gr. διαλογισμοις , in their reasonings, disputations, discourses upon serious deliberation. They stood not to their own principles (as, that there is one God only, that this God is to be worshipped, …), but were atheists by night that worshipped the sun, and atheists by day that worshipped the moon, as Cyril saith wittily.

Verse 22

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

Professing themselves to be wise — Aristotle, nature’s chief secretary, writeth many things most absurdly concerning God; as, that he is a living creature, that he worketh not freely, but by a kind of servile necessity; and that therefore he deserveth no praise or thanks from men for his many benefits, since he doth but what he must needs do. These are Aristotle’s absurd assertions. And yet at Stuckard in Germany was found a doctor of divinity that preached to the people, that the Church might be sufficiently well taught and governed by Aristotle’s ethics, though we had no Bible. And the Collen divines set forth a book, concerning Aristotle’s salvation, and called him Christ’s forerunner in naturals, as John Baptist had been in supernaturals. But what saith St Paul, 1 Corinthians 2:14 ; "The natural man receiveth not," … Gr. ψυχικος , the souly man, that doth excolere animam, improve of the mind, such as Aristotle, Cicero, …, who the wiser they were, the vainer they were, and the further from God and his kingdom; their learning hung in their light, and served but to light them into utter darkness. a

a Quanto doctiores tanto nequiores, ut Syri venales apud Ciceronem. Athenaeus brings Plato bewailing his fond love to a filthy harlot.

Verse 23

And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

Made like to corruptible man — God made man in his own image; and man (to be even with him, as it were) will needs make God after his image.

And four-footed beasts — God therefore justly gave them up to sodomy, which did abase them below the beasts; that there might be an analogy between the sin and the punishment. This is called a "meet recompence,"Romans 1:27; Romans 1:27 . They dishonoured God, they dishonoured therefore themselves. They would not know nor honour him, they shall not therefore know nor spare one another, …; so severely will God punish the contempt of and rebellion against the light.

And creeping things — In Lapland the people worship that all day for a god, whatsoever they see first in the morning, be it a bird or worm.

Verse 24

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

Gave them up to uncleanness — Aristotle confesseth the disability of moral knowledge to rectify the intemperance of nature; and made it good in his practice; for he used a common strumpet to satisfy his lust. Socrates is said to have had his catamite A boy kept for unnatural purposes. ŒD inter Socraticos, & c. (Juvenal.)

Verse 25

Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Who changed — They tare out their natural principles and turned atheists, as Diagoras, who yet was an atheist more with his tongue than with his heart; for having cried down a deity in a famous oration, he yet suffered himself to be deified by the people for his eloquence. Qua ornari ab eo Diabolus quaerebat, as Austin writeth to a learned but lewd person of his times. See my Common Place of Atheism. Epicurus verbis reliquit Deos re sustulit, saith Cicero (De Nat. Deor.).

Verse 26

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

Into that which is against nature — So against nature, that children (natures end) and posterity is utterly lost by it. Paul seems to point here at Messalina (that shame of her sex), the wife of Claudius the emperor.

Verse 27

And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

Leaving the natural — As at this day in the Levant, sodomy is held no sin. The Turkish pashas have many wives, but more catamites, A boy kept for unnatural purposes. ŒD which are their serious loves. (Blount’s Voyage.)

Burned in their lust — Gr. εξεκαυσθησαν , "were scalded." Some men put off all manhood, become dogs, worse than dogs. Hence Deuteronomy 23:18 ; "The price of a dog," that is, of a sodomite, as Junius and Deodatus expound it.

Verse 28

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

To a reprobate mind — Or, an injudicious mind; or, a mind rejected, disallowed, abhorred of God; or a mind that none hath cause to glory in, but rather to be much ashamed of.

Verse 29

Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

With all unrighteousness — The mother of all the ensuing misrule.

Wickedness — The Syrian saith, "bitterness." SeeJeremiah 2:19; Jeremiah 2:19 . The word πονηρια may be rendered troublesomeness, as the devil is called ο πονηρος , the troublesome one, the molester of God’s people; restless in himself and disquieting others.

Envy, murder — Three such alliterations are found in this black beadroll. a A list of persons to be specially prayed for ŒD The apostle seems delighted with them, as was likewise the prophet Isaiah. Of which noble two, I may well say as one doth of Demosthenes and Cicero, Demosthenes Ciceroni praeripuit ne esset primus orator, Cicero Demostheni, ne solus.

Malignity — Or, morosity, crossness, ill conditions; or an evil disposition, that taketh everything the worst way; whereas a better disposition would make a better exposition, and take things by the right handle.

Whisperers — These are worse than backbiters, because they work underground, like as the wind that creeps in the chinks and crevices in a wall, or the cracks in a window, prove commonly more dangerous than a storm that meets a man in the face upon the champaign. A vento percolato, et ab inimico reconciliato libera nos.

a πορνεια, πονηρια. φθονου, φονου. ασυνετους, ασυνθετους. κακοηθεια, κακια.

Verse 30

Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

Haters of God — And so God-murderers,1 John 3:15; 1 John 3:15 . See Trapp on " 1 John 3:15 "

Verse 31

Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

Implacable — That will not hear of a truce, much less of a peace. Nihil se libentius facere dictitabat Caesar, quam supplicibus ignoscere. (Caesar. Comment.) And surely, as any one is more manly, he is more merciful, as David, 2 Samuel 1:12 . And, on the contrary, the basest natures are most vindictive; neither will they ever be heartily reconciled. Their reconciliations are vulpinae amicitiae, fox-like friendships.

Verse 32

Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Have pleasure — Or they patronize, applaud, and approve, συνευδοκουσι this is set last, as worst of all; it comprehends all kinds of consent. (Theop.) To hold the bag is as bad as to fill it. The law of God requires not only our observation but our preservation, to cause others to keep it, as well as ourselves; and to rebuke, at least by a cast of our countenance (as God doth, Psalms 80:16 ), those that violate it. There is little difference, faveasne sceleri, an illud facias, whether thou commit sin or consent to it.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Romans 1". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/romans-1.html. 1865-1868.
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