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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Romans 1

Verses 1-7

Romans 1:1-7 . The Address is elaborate, for Paul is introducing himself to a strange community; and stately, as befits Christ’ s ambassador approaching the imperial city.

Romans 1:1 f., Romans 1:5 f. He is “ an apostle by (God’ s) calling”— not by his own will ( 1 Corinthians 9:16 f.) or human choice ( Galatians 1:1)—“ set apart to be a messenger of God’ s good news,” which had been the burden of “ prophetic scriptures” ; his apostleship aims at bringing “ all the nations, amongst whom” the Romans are conspicuous ( cf. Romans 1:8), “ unto obedience of faith.”

Romans 1:3 f. explains “ the good news” : it is “ about Jesus Christ,” who while He “ came of David’ s seed in the physical order,” was first of all “ God’ s Son, marked out” as such “ in accordance with His sinless character by the fact of His resurrection” ( cf. Acts 2:22; Acts 2:27).

Romans 1:6 f. Jesus Christ “ called” the readers to salvation, making them “ God’ s beloved,” and “ saints” by the nature of their “ calling.”—“ Grace and apostleship” ( Romans 1:5) is not “ the grace of apostleship” : all the grace Paul “ received” looked toward his apostleship (see Galatians 1:15 f.).— A small but representative group of ancient witnesses vouches for the reading: “ To all that are in God’ s love called” to be “ saints” ( cf. Ephesians 1:1, mg.)— a form of words differing from the TR but by a single Greek syllable beside “ Rome.” Zahn (ZK and INT) prefers the shorter reading ( cf. WH Appendix, and see Introd. § 4 ).

Verses 8-16

Romans 1:8-16 . Paul’ s Intention to Visit Rome.

Romans 1:8-10 . “ Of the faith of the Romans the whole world hears” : the Apostle “ thanks God” for this, and “ names them constantly in his prayers.” He invokes God as “ witness,” for this is much to say about strangers; his “ service in the gospel” makes him deeply interested in the Church of Rome. He has “ begged” of God “ that he might have the good fortune to visit” them; “ at last” the “ hindrances” are disappearing ( Romans 1:13; cf. Romans 15:20-29).

Romans 1:11-13 . He “ longs to impart to them some grace of the Spirit,” some “ added strength” ; or rather, he anticipates a “ reciprocal encouragement.” Here as “ elsewhere amongst the Gentiles,” he would fain “ win fruit” to his ministry.

Romans 1:14 f. “ The debt he owes” on Christ’ s account “ to men of every race and condition,” makes him “ eager to preach to you that are in Rome,” i.e. “ to you Roman people.”

Romans 1:16 . To shrink from this would mean to “ be ashamed of the gospel,” which he has proved to be “ God’ s power” working “ for salvation to every one that believes”—“ to the Greek as well as the Jew.” “ First” is a doubtful reading (WH).

Romans 1:17 . “ Not ashamed of the Gospel,” for it is God’ s saving power, which operates by the revelation of God’ s righteousness: the efficacy of the message lies in the character of God who sends it. Paul’ s view of the Divine righteousness as identified with salvation, is based on Isaiah 45 f. ( cf. Romans 1:2, also Romans 3:21). Righteousness, in the sense of Deutero-Isaiah, is no hard legality, contrasted as in men’ s narrow thoughts with “ goodness” ( Romans 5:7); it embraces the whole perfectness of Jehovah’ s character manifested in His dealings with Israel. Jehovah’ s fidelity to covenant, His fatherly regard for His people ( Isaiah 45:10 f; Isaiah 63:16; Isaiah 64:8), are integral to this righteousness and make it, through the responsive trust they evoke, a “ power for salvation.” In such righteousness the Gospel reveals God to mankind. The revelation operates in the sphere of faith: its apprehension starts “ from faith,” and proceeds “ unto faith.” On man’ s part faith is the Alpha and Omega of salvation, as righteousness is upon God’ s. The saying of Habakkuk 2:4 illustrates the vital power of faith, which is man’ s hold upon the character of God. In the light of the doctrine of Justification unfolded later, many find here “ a righteousness (in man) derived from God” ( cf. Php_3:9 ). But “ God’ s power,” “ righteousness,” “ anger,” are interlinked in identical grammatical construction ( Romans 1:16-18); to construe the central phrase differently is to dislocate the passage; in the third sentence the “ ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” are emphatically contrasted with the “ righteousness of God” (see Detached Note, ICC, p. 34 ).

The theme of Romans 1:16 f. is unfolded in Romans 1:18 to Romans 8:39: Romans 1:18 to Romans 3:20 sets forth the guilty and lost condition of mankind— of the world at large, and the Jews in particular; Romans 3:21 to Romans 8:39, the saving intervention of God’ s righteousness, acting in Jesus Christ and realised universally through faith. The positive demonstration is supported by a negative proof, going to show that “ the law could not do” (ch. 7 ) what the grace of Christ has triumphantly accomplished (ch. 8 ).

Verses 18-32

Romans 1:18-32 . Mankind is in a ruinous plight: God’ s Anger, which is His righteousness reacting against wrong, rests upon the race.

Romans 1:18 a . “ The Divine wrath is being revealed from heaven” in action “ against all impiety and unrighteousness of men.” The revelation is apparent in the moral outcome of irreligion described in Romans 1:21-32— an apocalypse more appalling than earthquake or famine.

Romans 1:18 b Romans 1:20 . Man is responsible for his perdition: “ in” committing “ unrighteousness men hold down the truth” ; they ignore “ the knowledge of God” lodged in conscience ( cf. Romans 2:14 f.) and shining from the face of nature, so leaving themselves “ without excuse” ( Romans 1:21-23 , cf. Romans 1:28). “ Ingratitude” lies at the root of this disregard of God; its fruit is mental impotence and confusion, evidenced by the monstrous follies of idolatry. The nemesis of religious apostasy delineated in Romans 1:24-31 has two outstanding features: the horrible “ uncleanness” notorious in the Græ co-Roman world, much of it associated with idolatry ( Romans 1:24-27); and the “ malignity” and inhumanity in manifold forms pervading society ( Romans 1:28-31).

Romans 1:32 . The climax of depravity is seen in those who, while they sin themselves in defiance of judgment, applaud the sins of others. Thrice ( Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26; Romans 1:28) the expression recurs, “ God gave them over . . . to uncleanness,” etc.: God’ s will operates in the inflexible laws by which sin breeds its punishment ( James 1:15); men deny their Maker, then degrade themselves. First ( Romans 1:19-21) and last ( Romans 1:28), the charge is that men “ did not think God worth while keeping in mind.”— This indictment is confirmed by contemporary literature; Corinth, from which Paul wrote— the metropolis of Greek vice— colours the lurid picture.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Romans 1". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.